Green Veg Risotto

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Serves 4     Large saucepan / paella dish

Ingredients:

60 g walnuts – toasted for 5 minutes under a medium hot grill

1 red onion – finely chopped

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped or 1 tsp garlic salt

80 g green beans – trimmed and chopped into 2 cm lengths

65 g asparagus  – trimmed and chopped into 3 cm lengths

60 g kale – remove rough stems and coarsely chop

70 g frozen peas

900 ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp olive oil

225 g Arborio rice

1 tsp Marmite

140 ml white wine

salt and black pepper to season

Method:

Heat the olive oil and saute the red onions until soft. Add the garlic / garlic salt and stir for a minute. Then add the rice and heat for a minute. Turn up the heat a little and add the wine. Stir frequently and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the beans, asparagus and half of the stock. Stir occasionally. As the rice absorbs the stock, add more 50 ml at a time (you might not use all the stock). As the rice starts to soften , add the kale and peas and cook until the rice is just cooked and the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and serve immediately – top each bowlful with some toasted walnuts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Moussaka (vegan + gf)

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This dish is a complete meal in itself.

Preheat oven 180 C Gas mark 5

Ingredients:

4 medium / large potatoes

1 onion slices

Packet of vege mince 454 g

500 g carton passata

2 aubergines sliced

1 tsp mixed spice

black pepper

chilli flakes

olive oil

Sauce:

50 g vegan butter

3 tbsps flour (gf)

Approx 400 ml non dairy milk

Method:

Boil the potatoes until just tender. When cooled – slice thickly.

Brush the aubergine slices with a little olive oil and pan fry for 2-3 mins on each side.

Fry the onions until soft and add the vege mince, mixed spice, black pepper and passata.

Make the white sauce – thick pouring consistency

Grease the bottom of a large oven proof dish.

Create a layer of aubergine, potato and then mince mix. Continue to create layers until all ingredients used. Top with the sauce. Sprinkle chilli flakes over the surface.

Put in the oven for 20-30 mins until piping hot.

 

Cauliflower, cashew nut and mushroom curry (vegan)

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This is a really quick, easy and delicious dish served up with rice or quinoa, poppadoms and mango chutney. It involves very little preparation – a winner in my opinion!!

Serves 3-4 Cooking time 40-50 minutes

Ingredients:

300 g white mushrooms – quartered   2 tsp ground cumin

Medium cauliflower cut into small florets   1 tsp chilli powder

Large tin 400 g chopped tomatoes + 1/2 tin of water   1 tsp turmeric

Large tin 400 g chick peas   1 tsp garlic powder

Large cup of cashew nuts   1 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

Put all the ingredients in to a large pan, cover and simmer (stirring occasionally) until the cauliflower is tender.

Creamy cashew nut sauce

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A time-saving method of making this sauce – an alternative to 2 hours to soak and then pulverize the cashew nuts to form the base of the sauce and using Marmite (for all the Marmite haters out there – I don’t think you can taste it) instead of nutritional yeast

Ingredients:

2 heaped tbsps cashew nut butter

2 tbsps plain flour (I use gf flour)

2 tsps of Marmite

750 ml Cashew milk – approx quantity – dependent on desired thickness of sauce

Method:

Put cashew butter and flour in to pan and  on to a medium heat – stir into a thick paste. Stir in the cashew milk –  a little at a time.  Add the Marmite.  Continue to stir and add milk until desired thickness is achieved. Allow the sauce to simmer but not boil.

Back on track

2018 was an eventful year! The stresses of selling our house, living in a caravan with 2 dogs, 2 cats and my husband during one of the hottest UK summers on record (many thanks to our wonderful friends for helping us) whilst we awaited the completion on the house we were buying seemed to stretch out endlessly.

This life turbulence completely tipped me upside down. As my kitchen disappeared so to my healthy food choices, love of cooking and exploration of flavours and blends disappeared. Instead, I trotted – no … galloped – in the direction of sugar laden comfort foods. Fast forward to the end of 2018 and I was a few pounds heavier, feeling very sluggish and lacking any momentum to change. I have spent the last few months mentally beating myself up for my lack of will power and weakness which has only lead to a downward spiral of self loathing followed quickly by a ‘what is the point?’ attitude as I devoured some more calorie dense / nutrient lacking morsel.

Thankfully, my inner voice has finally been heard. I am only human and to err is not a weakness. Self -care is paramount. Over the last few days, I have planned and prepared for overhauling my diet. So, as 2019 commences, the cookbooks cover my table once more, scraps of paper have ideas scribbled on them and sugar is off the menu.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

Salmon, leek and spinach lasagne.

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Serves 6

Heat oven to 180 C / Gas 4

Grease a lasagne dish

Ingredients:

125 g butter

100 g plain flour (gf or non gf)

1 l semi skimmed milk (a bit more may be needed if sauce too thick)

1 leek cut in to thin strips

500 g baby spinach

4 fillet portions of salmon – baked in foil for 15 minutes and flaked

400 g cheddar cheese – grated

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

4 sprigs of dill – chopped

Salt and pepper

10-12 sheets of lasagne – gf / non gf

Method:

Using 125 g of butter, flour and the milk make a bechamel / white sauce.

Melt the remaining butter in a pan and cook the leeks for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach leaves (a handful at a time) and the garlic and cook until the spinach has wilted. Drain off any excess liquid.

Assemble the lasagne – spread 1/4 of sauce over the bottom of the dish. Place lasagne sheets on top. Top with half of the leek / spinach mix and half of the flaked salmon.

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Sprinkle with a third of the cheese. Repeat – 1/4 of sauce, lasagne, greens, salmon and cheese.

Top with 1/4 of sauce , lasagne, remainder of sauce and grated cheese.

Cook for 45 minutes or until golden.

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Sprinkle the dill over the top and serve with garlic flatbreads and a green salad.

Cauliflower and walnut soup

It’s that time of year… when a bowl of soup is always welcome.  This recipe is a firm favourite in our household. It is one of the easiest soups to make.

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Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower – separated into florets            2 cups of stock – vegetable / chicken

1 large onion – coarsely chopped                                    2 cups of milk

1 large handful of walnut pieces                                     2 tsps paprika

Black pepper

Method:

Put the cauliflower florets, chopped onion   and stock into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until soft. Add the milk, paprika, black pepper and walnuts and

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simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, blend and serve.

I serve with a sprinkling of black pepper and a dash of tabasco.

 

Sauerkraut

I love sauerkraut – not to be confused with vinegary pickled cabbage – fermented cabbage. Not only because I enjoy the taste, texture and flavour but also because of its nutritious qualities – rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and probiotics.

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This is a jar of beetroot sauerkraut just starting the fermenting process.

I advise you to wear rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands.

Ingredients:

300 g red cabbage – shredded

200 g beetroot – peeled and finely chopped

1/2 small apple – peeled and finely chopped

2 tsp salt

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Method:

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix them well until the vegetables start to release water. Then crush the vegetables with your hands – or use a pestle / end of rolling-pin.

Put the mixture into a sterilised and resealable glass jar – 500 ml capacity – leaving sufficient space at the top to allow for the fizz!

The vegetables need to be submerged in their juices so a cabbage leaf with a weight on top works well.

Leave the sauerkraut at room temperature for anything up to 3 weeks. It needs to be left for at least 3 days..

Intermittent Fasting

This is something that really interests me and I am going to embark on to see how it effects me. Following on from chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment I was acutely aware how my gut microbiome had been effected. I am once again having milk kefir daily and water kefir and kombucha regularly – things I wasn’t allowed to have during treatment because of their powerful probiotic powers.

There are numerous studies showing that intermittent fasting can have benefits for our bodies and brains. For me, the main reason I want to do this is to improve my gut health. One particular species of  bacteria (Akkermansia) thrive when fasting occurs and they strengthen the gut wall and reduce inflammation.

When we don’t eat for a while our bodies initiate important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases. Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body.

There seem to be 6 different popular methods and which one fits best will depend on the individual.

  1. 16/8 – fast for 16 hours a day. Generally recommended that women only fast for 14-15 hours. On each day eating is restricted to an 8-10 hour window.
  2. 5:2 – eat normally for 5 days of the week and restrict calories to 500-600 on two days a week – popularised by Dr Michael Mosley.
  3. Eat-stop-eat – do a 24 hour fast once or twice a week
  4. Alternate day fasting – either not eating every other day or restricting calories to 500-600.
  5. Warrior diet – only eat small amounts of raw vegetables and fruits during the day and then eat one huge meal at night.
  6. Spontaneous meal skipping – simply skip 1 or 2 meals a day when you don’t feel hungry.

For me, the 16/ 8 …or because I’m a woman -14/10 style of intermittent fasting is the type that I feel will fit with my lifestyle. So from now on my breakfast will really be breaking the fast 🙂  Of course, during the fasting hours drinking water/herbal tea is to be continued as normal.

Would love to read about your experiences of fasting.

Salads…definitely not boring

I overheard someone the other day saying that they found salads boring. This made me feel a little sad. With such a diversity of flavours and endless possibilities of combinations how can salads become boring? I thought the days of  salads comprised of iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato had long since passed. Seemingly not.

I have a simple formula for my salads: green leaf, 3 or more additions – ideally different colours and a dressing – preferably with one ingredient that is a fermented food. Often one ingredient that is hot e.g.roasted butternut squash

Different dressings I make:  (a splash of each in to a small jar and shaken)

Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), apple cider vinegar and olive oil

Tahini, apple cider vinegar and tamari

Peanut butter and apple cider vinegar

Avocado oil drizzle

Lime juice and olive oil

Here are a selection of the salads we have eaten over the last couple of weeks:

A                                                        B

A: papaya, roasted butternut squash, watercress, olives, tomatoes and olive oil and lime dressing

B: Beetroot houmous and chia seed oatcakes with avocado, tomatoes, olives and watercress

A                                                          B

A: Apricot, pomegranate seeds, mange tout, houmous, tomatoes, olives and rocket with avocado oil drizzle

B:Tomatoes, mange tout, yellow pepper, watercress and houmous – no dressing

A                                                         B

A: peas shoots, watercress, avocado, tomatoes and mange tout with olive oil, tamari and apple cider vinegar dressing

B: shredded carrots, red and white cabbage, hen and quail eggs, avocado, tomatoes and houmous with drizzle of olive oil

A                                                         B

A: rocket, watercress, avocado, apricot, roasted butternut squash with peanut butter and apple cider vinegar dressing

B: carrot sticks, houmous, mango, tomatoes, avocado, beetroot and avocado oil drizzle.

…definitely not boring!!

What is your favourite salad combination?