Easy, delicious, vegan recipes that are a dream to make and eat.
To thrive on a plant based diet, eat well and feel satisfied, especially if we have busy lives, we need to be able to make delicious, vegan meals quickly and easily and that means having ingredients and recipes at the ready.
Today I made fast and easy vegetable fritters with a herby sauce.
This recipe sounds very simple – it IS very simple – and it’s flavours and textures are as complicated as we need them to be so we feel we have eaten well.
It is a great option if you want something super healthy, light weight and quick without feeling deprived in any way.
Think along the lines of latkes but without the eggs and smoky kitchen.
How many Christmas eves we spent gathered around the kitchen fire eating latkes with smoke floating around our heads?! A lot, and they were fun.
The fritter is made of grated vegetables. You can use whatever you have in your fridge, I used 2 courgettes, a carrot, a red chilli and a sliced onion plus some chickpea flour and water. Seasoned with a little salt and some cumin.
I’ve previously made with cabbage, carrots, peppers and onion plus green onion tops and I have used sweet potatoes, sweet corn and I can’t remember what else, its so flexible it doesn’t matter, you really can use anything.
I’ve served them with various sauces for a example a sauce of sriratcha and mayonnaise with tomatoe ketchup (the super-healthy, raw, homemade one and at other times the bought stuff 😉 when leaning towards an Okonomiyaki pancake and we almost always have some crispy leaves by the side.
Today we have fresh, peppery rocket leaves.
So, the whole thing, without cooking time took 15 minutes tops. Then 15 minutes cooking… and then 10 minutes eating. I am actually eating them as I am writing this and trying not to get sauce on the keys.
To keep on track with a healthy recipe make sure you have an arsenal of easy delicious vegan recipes. When we are doing our retreats I keep a list of two to three times the number of starters, main courses and desserts I will need so that I always have inspiration.
There are some images of meals I have made for guests here http://desriskitchen.com/ and an example of a day’s meals here https://haven-on-earth.com/residential-retreats/.
As you can see there are so many variations and so many possible combinations of fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts but we all need to be prepared, me too, otherwise we end up with something bland and unbalanced, a bunch of bananas or something we maybe regret (throw that pizza delivery menu away;) Though we aren’t puritanical all the time I promise you!
I grated everything except the onion and chilli which I sliced finely and mixed with 3 TBS chickpea flour, a pinch of salt and a few good grinds of pepper. If you need some water add just enought to pull it all together. My courgettes were very fresh and juicy so I only needed a drop.
The mix then sat and absorbed to bind while I made the sauce and the air fryer heated up. I’ve previously left the mix overnight in the fridge, which does make the fritters a bit firmer.
I’ve also grated, mixed and cooked immediately before now and it was just fine, so no need to wait if you can’t. They are not so firm but still very good.
Todays sauce is based on chimichurri or salsa verde but without the anchovies (I am not sure anyone would know they aren’t in there!).
I used about 8 blood sorrel leaves, hence the less than vibrant colour, and about 8 large stems of flat leaf parsley, a garlic onion (like a spring onion but garlicky or three cornered leek), half an avocado, about 15 salted capers which I had rinsed, the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper.
It was blended until smoothish and then I added ½ tsp maple syrup to balance out the bitterness of the sorrel and about 1 TBS olive oil to make it more silky.
I blended again and hey presto, delicious!
You can bake or fry the fritters, I air fried mine at 200° – the air fryer is my newest addition to the kitchen and one I really do wonder why I resisted for so long, I LOVE IT and there’s no smoke or frying oil. I just spritz the tray with avocado oil to prevent sticking.
Serve with the sauce to dip into, or pop some on top.
These would be lovely made smaller as part of l’apéros with some other easy, delicious, vegan recipes!
Options if not vegan:
Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce
Use an egg to bind
Crumble in some feta or parmesanLearn More
Renovations and Cashew cheese recipe…
Hello from renovation city !
The ‘little house’ is almost ready to camp in – just need to finish the bathroom floor, add shower, toilet, basin, tiles, door and we have a bathroom, my main requirement after a kitchen. Also need to finish laying the wooden floor in kitchen, stain and wax/varnish, add cupboards and woodburner…, oh, and put a sink in and we are fine there too. Put bed in and we are sorted, we can then continue from there 🙂
Right now we are back to putting the finishing touches on the main house for our holiday makers and retreaters this year and there are only, well, I stopped counting at 50 things to do so all on target (cue hysterical laughter).
So lets forget it all for a minute and I will give you my Raw Cashew cheese recipe.
Blend until very smooth:
2 cups raw, unsalted, soaked cashews, 1 sachet probiotics, 1/4 cup plus 1 TBS water kefir
Put in a warm place or the dehydrator, wrapped in muslin or a nut milk bag (I use the latter) for about 36 hours, until it smells deliciously tangy.
Mix into it:
1 TBSP nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp Umboshi vinigar (optional), 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp pink salt plus a pinch or two of tumeric for added colour if you want to. Mash it all up with a spatula or wooden spoon then push into two ring moulds set on a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Put them into the freezer for a couple of hours to set so that they are easy to push out of the molds then put the cheeses back into the dehydrater for 24 hours (skip this step if you do not have one) to form the rind.
Remove from dehydrater, leave to adjust to room temperature then wrap and put in the fridge for a few days to a few weeks to mature.
Et voila !
When you keep cheese it is important to check it from time to time to make sure no mould is growing on it. I wrap in greaseproof and then a piece of kitchen paper to absorb moisture and store in an airtight glass box, this works well for me.
Ignore the rind making bit and roll the cheese in herbs or crushed pepper corns or some dehydrated ‘caramelised’ onions or even chopped raisons.
Add some herbs at the flavouring stage instead of the smoked paprika.
Eat straight away ! The one in the photo was just out of the dehydrator after ‘rinding’ because I made two, one to eat then and there and one to mature which is still in the fridge.
Let me know how you get on?
Happy weekend, I am now off to sand a floor 🙂
January clean up
Happy, healthy, balanced New Year to you!
After all that indulgent, caution to the wind eating and drinking it is time for a seasonal clean up for us.
There are so many bugs including the dreaded super flu going around , we need to boost our immunity, sleep better as well as lifting ourselves from the dark moods that can engulf people with the reduced sunlight and storms that leave us indoors for days on end.
So, braving the rain, wind and puddles I went shopping and stood wearing my private halo at the check out…
There is nothing worse though, when embarking on any kind of regime than the feeling of deprivation. I for one kick back badly at being told I “can’t” anything!
Healthy food must be tasty, filling, look good and do good.
We need multi-tasking dishes of the finest order.
Another thing, how about making your meals pretty?
I collect bowls and plates, it’s a bit of a thing, started at Jurby Junk on the Isle of Man when I lived there , a wonderworld, tables piled on tables and all piled with other people’s junk, somebody else’s treasure! I have never lost that love of bowls and cups, big or tiny with patterns inside as well as outside, huge jewel coloured bowls to pile with leaves and wide rustic plates to place lots of different tasting, textured and coloured morsels onto. Ideal if the food colours are slightly monotinous or dull but, when the food is bright and varied, let it tell it’s own story on plain white, as above.
Here is a recipe for you plus an alternative to show how easy it is to switch the flavours up…
Stir fry 1
I chopped …
1 yellow pepper
1 handful runner beans
1/2 inch ginger and turmeric
I steamed the beans whilst I stir fried everything else (onions for a few minutes first) for ten mins.
Added the beans to the stir fry with …
1 handful spinach ripped
Leaves torn from 6 leaves of purple Kale and ripped
Splashed with some Braggs (you could use soy sauce) and a few grinds pepper and tipped into a bowl.
I threw on top a palm full of Goji berries and lots of spiced pumpkin, chia and sunflower seeds.
Stir fry 2 using similar basic ingredients …
I chopped …
1 red pepper
1 handful runner beans
1 carrot into small sticks
3 largish mushrooms quartered
1/2 inch ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
I steamed the beans whilst I stir fried everything else (onions for a few minutes first) for ten mins.
Added the beans to the stir fry with …
1 handful spinach
Leaves torn from 6 leaves of purple Kale
I sprinkled with …
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons soya sauce
Stirred it all until all the leaves were wilted and served sprinkled liberally with lots of spiced pumpkin, chia and sunflower seeds.
Don’t think diet, don’t think deprivation think delicious, nourishing, light and bright. If you are used to drinking alcohol or hitting the chocolate bikkies slouched in front of the TV most nights think of indulging yourself in the evening instead, try doing something you don’t do when you drink – like make something, go out swimming or for a dark walk (watch those puddles – actually wear wellies and enjoy those puddles!), start a new hobby, read a new book, start learning something, do self massage, have long, early bubble baths and snuggle into bed early.
Find a turn around for yourself, turn what may feel negative (only because of habit and because you are saying no) into something positive and fun or indulgent.
Here is to a year of finding our best, happiest and healthiest selves.
Feeling heavy, slow, tired, down, stuck, unhappy, achy, old, “just not 100%”?
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO!
Come to us for a few days (or more) and lets look at what is going wrong, or just not going right, re-evaluate, find a way, make some changes and while we are doing that let us nourish you with the best and most delicious food and drinks. Be supported, be prepared, be changed.
We are now taking bookings from 16 March 2018!
15% discount on all bookings from March to end May as the indoor spa pool will be closed for maintenance and the outdoor pool may be a bit cooler than 28° – weather depending, late April and May should be fine!
Have a look around our site and contact us with any questions at all, for more info or to book your stay.
Nurture with nature
There is a so much going on at the moment in the world, in the house, in my head.
I have spent a week working out heating wattages, where pipes can go on repointed walls, how things will work in the kitchen to leave space for a sofa in front of the fire.
How to keep character whilst losing the crumbly problem of limestone walls. How to bring in charm and warmth but not hide all the original house behind plaster board.
I have also been working on the website, well two actually, one is my new French/English one and, oh, lala lala, my French is another story.
It has been frustrating and mind boggling and I have spent way too long at the computer.
First world problems, I know.
I’m not going to talk about all the world stuff, it’s all around us, it can get depressing and I really don’t have much to say right now other than: Be kind! Think! Treat people the way you want to be treated! Help people! Don’t bitch! Don’t press that button!
This is a simple one. It’s all simple really if you want it to be (except the French!).
Like, keep the charm, don’t put a plasterboard wall up….
Lots of people are feeling skint after Christmas or generally and think it is expensive to get fit and look after yourself. Not true. Well, it doesn’t have to be anyway! Here are a few ideas.
Wake up in the morning and don’t worry about the cost of heating the water, have a cold shower, feel how your skin warms up afterwards, how you tingle from your hair to your toes – fantastic boost for your immune system and gorgeously toning for your skin.
Massage yourself with some oil, almond or coconut are good ones, maybe with a few drops of your favourite essential oils or use your favourite natural moisturiser, body balm or oil. Its good to look after yourself, it reminds you (or teaches you eventually 😉 that you are valuable, that you matter, that you can take care of yourself.
Wrap up and get outside, walk, splash in puddles, climb a few hills, skid about in the muddy fields, feel the rain sting your cheeks and the wind mess up your hair. Feel alive!
You could pick a pocket full of leaves whilst you are at it and make a wrap, a salad, a quiche, a stir fry or throw them in your bowl to pour hot soup over (check them out, I don’t mean any old leaves – there are lots of identification books around, oh, and a good soak in water and apple cider vinegar will help remove anything nasty).
Do some DIY. Ha, ha, ha.
Moving swiftly on to lunch.
On Sunday, when lots are thinking of roast this and that with Yorkshire puds and gravy (yes, I love that too!) I made this…
Deeply savoury, slightly sweet with lots of crunch and chewy bits it satisfied on all levels, really it did and there was no afternoon slump, no bloating, no “Oh, I wish i hadn’t had that extra serving” .
It is also made with all things in season and localy grown, apart from the sauce.
1/2 a black radish (Black Mooli)
1/2 red pepper
Blette stem (I used leaves as wraps see below) I think they are Chard in English.
1 spring onion
2 sundried tomatoes
A few chives
This is where a few forage leaves would come in handy too:)
1 small dried pepper
Cut Blette leaves into wraps. I’ve never seen Chard or Blette in England I don’t think! Lettuce, Romaine leaves or Savoy cabbage would all work.
Gently fry the dried pepper, mushrooms, sliced Chard stems and half the sliced red pepper, in ghee (or butter or oil) until slightly browning and caramelised.
Toss all the rest, saving half the herbs, in 1/2 TBS Coconut Teriyaki sauce (you could make your own, which is divine or use normal but the own-made or coconut are way better in all ways). That’s the most expensive and, if being pedantic, least healthy bit but you need so little!
So easy, now just lay the leaf wraps out, pile some raw and cooked mixture in, grind pepper over and sprinkle with the reserved herbs and roll up. I tied mine with chive leaves which kept them together well.
Serve with some Teriyaki in a bowl – or Tamari (or soy sauce) with a little drop of maple syrup or honey – to dip if needed.
Lastly, anytime, just …
put some music you love on, close the door, close the curtains, close your eyes and simply move the way you want to. Push it a bit, use all your body, stretch to the edges of your reach, move each side of your body, front, back, right and left. Bend, stretch, twist and turn. It doesn’t matter how it looks, it matters how it feels. Move high and move low, move fast and move slow. Roll up and down and lie on the floor and move like a baby. Roll over, push up, curl and extend. Use your fingers, your head, your hips, your ankles. Most of all, use your instinct.
If you allow yourself to include all your muscles you will begin to strengthen and relax your whole body.
And your mind will follow.
Have some chocolate. You know, raw chocs are actually very good for you 🙂
Dressing up, a little bit naughty and very nice
Christmas can be a stodgy affair…but it doesn’t have to be!
Its like wearing that very expensive little something with bargain basement everything else and the whole ensemble looking super chic – if you aren’t careful it can go the other way; it is a question of thinking, balance and taste.
(Obviously I am not talking here about allergies regimes for illness, be aware and take care of your situation).
We don’t want to feel horribly deprived or be the boring one who says “Oh no, I can’t eat that, I am not eating XYZ” to the person who has slaved over a hot stove for weeks (yourself included) neither should we throw all caution to the wind and end up feeling ill.
There are lots of ways, but here are a few ways, to have a healthier Christmas:
Firstly drink lots of water, take your apple cider vinegar, and enjoy the satsumers and fresh nuts!
If you are having people over for drinks make a platter of delectable nibbles that will suit everyone – mix pumpkin and sunflower seeds with sea salt and a drop of olive oil in place of roast salted nuts, a creamy humus without lots of oil, recipe here Here, and with lots of crudites – radish, carrot and cellery sticks, cauliflower florets, chunks of avocado tossed in tomatoe salas (so easy to make, why do people buy the stuff?!), olives, bake small mushrooms and serve with a dollop of pesto on top, the list is endless really, you just need a bit of imagination and a lot less time than making cheese straws and endless bruschettas!
Simple things like loading your dinner plate with more veggies and less of the heavy stuff, not filling up on bread, snacking on more olives, radishes, cherry tomatoes and fewer vol au vents, nibbling some really good chocolate rather than mindlessly gorging on piles of sweet stuff will make your Christmas get togethers enjoyable rather than destroyable.
Try melting some good chocolate (even better make some raw tempered chocolate if you have the ingredients) and dip cherries, bananas or clementine segments into it. Store them in the fridge, not least to stop you eating them all, yum!
Think about it, that’s all, you know what is best and at this time of year it is lovely to enjoy the indulgencies but not to the point of feeling bloated, guilty, even sick. You can make good choices and avoid anything you simply can not eat because there are usually so many alternatives.
If you are the chef look at the balance of the meal. A traditional Christmas meal is actually very healthy if done well. The danger zones are the nibbles, patés, sauces and stuffing’s.
To start how about keeping it lighter maybe a mushroom paté, green pepper corns, oatcakes and some sliced figs made rich and sticky by heating in the oven with a spoonful of honey and splash of balsamic for about 20 mins. Pop them in as it heats up for your turkey then remove and mix up to serve later. Have small portions for taste not filling up, rather to chat and pull crackers over.
There is the meat. I would choose a higher welfare bird or organic – it has had a better life, is more nutritious and provides more meat. It is a good buy. Use the bones for stock. Serve less of it and more of the accompaniments.
Fill your stuffing with lots of chestnuts, onions, prunes, nuts, mushrooms and herbs for scrumptious flavour and texture. I make a meat based one for meat eaters with a small amount of organic pork (about 300gm for enough for 8 people), lots of chestnuts, mushrooms, prunes, onions, pecan nuts, garlic, sage, thyme, salt and pepper and an egg to bind it all together. Full of gorgeous flavours. Quantities below.
For my vegetarian one I use similar ingredients but in place of the pork I use more mushrooms and chestnuts and some chopped olives. I usually change the fruit and use figs, probably some walnuts and cashews in place of the pecans, extra onions and olives and some capers for depth. Quantities below.
The vegetarian version is as popular as the pork one with the meat eaters, it also makes great veggie burgers for any time of year!
Offer lots of vegetables, I usually roast some potatoes (of course!) and parsnips, steam sprouts and top with some butter and nutmeg and poach carrots sticks in orange juice. I serve mashed sweet potatoes and celeriac rather than more starchy potatoes.
Chop and boil sweet potatoes celeriac. When just tender strain, keeping the liquid for your gravy, add lots of black pepper, some butter and an egg to bind and make it deliciously creamy and mash it all together until smooth. Taste and add salt if needed, the celeriac has a lovely salty flavour so it’s a good place to hold on the salt. Recipe below.
I often add in some chopped kale or savoy cabbage at the end for a tasty and nutritional boost! This can all be prepped in advance and popped in the oven to reheat. Make it easy! Here is another recipe using cauliflower.
For the gravy I am purely indulgent – it is made with the meat juices, a stock made from giblets, carrot, onion and celery, any vegetable cooking water left after I make the vegetarian gravy, red wine and port and thickened in the traditional way with flour. No excuses for that today. There are lots of great gravy recipes to be found online. The vegetarian version involves some butter and flour, onions, garlic, vegetable cooking liquid, marmite, mushroom ketchup, some dulce (we are looking for the umami here) a glug of red wine and port.
For both recipes allow reduction time, as that builds the flavour.
I also make cranberry and bread sauces to compliment the meal and go with the left overs.
I LOVE the left overs, they are my favourite bit with pickled onions, homemade mayo, lots of leavy salad and Boxing day films.
Don’t forget to use the hand test, it helps me everytime, remind yourself here.
Merry Christmas, I hope you will be warm and happy, with or in touch with loved ones and most of all loving yourself. Thanks for reading my posts this year and motivating me to be healthier and happier and boosting my own health.
Pork stuffing serves 6ish
300gm organic minced pork
1 cup chestnuts
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup pitted chopped prunes
2 finely chopped onions
½ cup crumbled pecan nuts or walnuts
2 crushed cloves garlic
Handful sage leaves chopped
Sprig of thyme leaves picked – use the leaves not the stick!
Big pinch salt
10 grinds of pepper
Vegetarian stuffing serves 6ish
11/2 cup chestnuts
11/2 cup chopped mushrooms
¾ cup pitted chopped prunes or figs or half and half
2 finely chopped onions
½ cup crumbled pecan nuts or walnuts or mix of either with cashews
¼ cup chopped green of black olives
2 crushed cloves garlic
2 teaspoons rinsed salted capers chopped
Handful sage leaves chopped
Sprig of thyme leaves picked – use the leaves not the stick!
Big pinch salt
10 grinds of pepper
Mash for 6-8
1KG sweet potatoes
1 dessertspoon butter
Taste and add salt if needed.Learn More
One chicken many ways
I believe that if you are going to eat meat, choose organically raised animals that have been treated well and lived outside in their most natural way.
Lots of people thrive better with meat, it is hard to make a vegan diet work long term without serious learning and dedication to balancing the nutrients we need, though (I have to say it) I believe a regime light in meat, dairy and processed grain and sugars is best and learning to eat well is worth it.
People always say to me that eating raw vegan is so expensive and also eating organic meat or fruit and vegetables is so expensive – well yes it can be but so can eating a standard diet. It depends on what you choose. If you buy it all fresh and seasonal and choose well you can eat really well for less.
Last week I saw organic chickens for sale, buy one get one half price. I paid 12€ for both.
For the first time ever I boiled a chicken.
This is how I did it.
I simply put the whole chicken, 2 whole carrots, an onion cut in quarters, a stick of celery plus the leaves from a couple of other sticks in a big pan. I threw in a sprinkle of whole black peppercorns, ½ teaspoon of salt, some fresh thyme, rosemary and sage out of the garden – dried would be fine.
Water , about ¾ of the way up the chicken, if I had used a smaller pan with a more snug fit it could have covered it. Popped the lids on, brought to the boil then turned down to a simmer and left it for just over an hour.
When it was cooked I removed the chicken, which was messy as it all fell off the bone it was so tender. I pulled all the meat off and put the carcass back into the pan and left it, with the lid on to simmer all afternoon, about 4 or 5 hours altogether. Then I strained and put the stock into jars and when cooled into the fridge. At this point you could freeze the stock so that you could use it for a longer period of time.
I was amazed at how much chicken there was and how good it tasted.
The chicken was packed into a glass storage box into the fridge.
Meals from 1 chicken.
Chicken or mushrooms
Miso/lemon grass/garlic/ginger/seaweed/ coriander leaves – all or none, its optional
I chopped carrots into sticks, shredded bok choy and kale (any cabbage would work), about ¼ chopped red pepper. NB just use any veg!!
I heated some oil in a pan and gently fried sliced leek for a few minutes with some chopped lemon grass (not necessary but I had some) and a crumbled red chilli (I have a small tub in the cupboard, they keep for yonks!) then added the vegetables and stir fried 2-3 minutes. I added some stock (I wanted it like a soup so added enough for two of us – you know how much you need 😉 and a spoonful of miso and stirred as it heated. This went into bowls with some soba noodles for Robin which I had cooked and rinsed in cold water and a handful each of sprouted mung beans that I had sprouted myself. Shredded chicken on top.
You could add a boiled egg on top too if you need more.
I sprinkled seaweed over.
OK, I know all that looks a lot but if you have dried peppers and dried seaweed flakes in the cupboard, they are a bit pricy to buy but last for ages and you don’t need to use a lot. Miso same thing; and it makes a really good savoury drink any time. Lemon grass can be bought and chopped and kept in a freezer bag in the freezer. Ginger the same, just peel it (easy, scrape it with the back of a spoon) and pop it in the freezer then grate as and when you need it. If you don’t have home made stock use a cube, a Miso cube is lovely.
The whole think took me ten minutes.
Robin is putting insulation in the roof up a ladder, going up and down all day long and needs calories. He also does fine with bread so a few sandwiches made from good bread, packed with leaves and cucumber and chicken served him very well.
- Savoury Pancakes
Fresh herbs (I used coriander, sorrel and dill as I had them)
Leaves (I used spinach and water cress)
I made Socca pancakes (chickpea flour with same quantity water – ie 1 cup flour, 1 cup water OR as I did ½ cup chickpea flour and ½ cup coconut flour, you need a bit more water for this) heat one side in a pan that can go into the oven then pop in the oven for the top to cook.
I stuffed these with lots of leaves, chicken, fresh herbs, mungbeans, avocado slices and some homemade salsa I had in the fridge.
See how to sprout your own mung beans here Friday bits and bobs
Mixed fresh vegetables
My usual think I just threw in the veg I had (Squash, leeks, parsnips this time) added the stock and blended with a wand blender when cooked.
- Chicken n chips
Salad or coleslaw
I chopped sweet potatoes and beetroot into chips and shredded some sage leaves. Tossed all in olive oil, ground cumin and a pinch of salt and cooked in the oven. I served with the chicken and some salad with a lemony dressing on it; I have also served it with homemade coleslaw.
So that is 9 meals and there was still a bottle of stock left which I didn’t use in time and was too concerned to keep after a week so had to throw away, annoyingly.
Do you ever do that, think it is so precious you need to keep it and then it goes off. The mango I treat us to then save for the perfect moment and it is black inside….
Reminds me of a beautiful little outfit I had when Aimee was a baby and I kept it and kept it until it fit then she was to big for it in a couple of weeks.
I still do it /:
SO, 9 meals using the expensive chicken plus fresh veg and store cupboard items.
All flexible with ingredients and quantities.
All in all really nutricious, warming, tasty and inexpensive meals!Learn More
Dressing up and dressing down
It has been a bit mad here the last couple of weeks.
I have started my French business, Desri’s Kitchen and been number crunching and trying to make that work on paper (in the French system – that is hard!). I am adding in teaching raw cuisine as well as healthy ways to tweak your cooking (including gluten free, dairy free, grain free etc).
Also we have been running ahead of electricians putting wall frames and ceiling frames in the Little House which means that is really taking shape! Nothing like deadlines to make Robin and I make something happen. Talking of which we also had a photo shoot for Oliver’s Travels which meant we had to strip ourselves out of our house – every room had to be made neutral, which for a hoarder and we who attatch emotion and history to almost everything we have gathered was a tough ask, to say the least.
We did it though and the photographer was a great guy who, it happened had recently, along with his girlfriend started eating a raw vegan diet! We talked for ages as there was lots in common with Robin and me resulting in the shoot running late and giving me an excuse to ask him to stay for lunch. I whipped up creamy noodles, avocado and courgette tartar and a green salad all with crunch seed sprinkles.
It is really important when changing your diet to cover as many tastes and textures as you can. Food doesn’t only nourish us physically but emotionally too. I hear lots of you say to me “But I so want something creamy like Italian cabonara or a creamy spicy curry” or “I need a rich, sticky, sweet and sour Chinese meal”. So have it – make your healthy food taste spicy and creamy, rich, sweet and sticky, crunchy and pungent, salty and sour.
A few easy recipes which can be used as dressings for noodles; you could use spirilized or peeled carrot, courgette or squash noodles or some healthy alternative pasta type noodles like quinoa or, as I did, kelp noodles.
The same recipes could be used as spreads or dips for crudites. If you tolerate and want to eat bread you could dip that in or spread it over.
How to make your healthy food taste delicious:
Create creamy textures
1 avocado whipped up with a 1 TBS of sweet miso (I like sweet miso a lot at the moment but if you don’t have it use 1/2 TBS darker types), 1 TBS chopped onion, 1 TBS nutritional yeast (or more to taste, check at the end), 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp agave/honey/maple syrup (one of them, not of all of them!), 1/4 tsp salt, pepper. Optional some crushed garlic.
Make it sweet ‘n’ spicy
2 TBS olive oil, , 2 TBS lime juice, 1 TBS maple syrup, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 crumbled dried chilli (the little red ones), salt and pepper to taste. Whisk or shake in a jar with the lid on (I know, its obvious, humour me;).
Use Italian tomatoes
Soak 3 sun dried tomatoes and 1 big or 2 small dates in warm water until soft (this can take an hour or so), chop. Blend with 2 chopped fresh tomatoes, 1TBS chopped onion, 1/2 TBS white wine vinegar (I am liking chardonnay vinegar right now), 1/2 clove garlic (or more, your choice), pinch chilli flakes or 1/2 – 1 small dried chilli crumbled, a good pinch of salt and lots black pepper. Sprinkle whatever you make with it with ripped fresh basil or use 1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs.
Use delicious oils and high-quality seasonings
And lets not forget good old olive oil and balsamic – use the best olive oil, old syrupy balsamic, flakes of fleur de sel or Malvern salt or similar and a few turns of good black pepper. I’d go with about 5-1 oil to balsamic, in a bowl sprinkle the salt and pepper over and use like that or whisk or shake and use as a dressing. Such a treat!Learn More
Friday bits and bobs
Just checking in here, it’s been a week of readjustment and joy.
Sometimes news knocks us off balance, not because we are not happy about it, just because it means we need to change course a bit, reballance, reappraise, realign.
That is a good thing because it actually encompasses way more than the instigating factor, we rebalance everything as we adjust.
Often, most times, we don’t realise how stuck and repetitive we have become and this can (come on, usually right?!) be in negative patterns or in things that aren’t the best for us.
Over the yard arm drink, watching that boxed set again, beans on toast again, yet another sleepless night…
Whatever, they are not terrible in their own right although you might agree none of them are the best thing for you on a loop!
Maybe worth having a think and a look at your loops.
This week I have been doing a lot of dancing, yoga, guided relaxations, walking, it’s been gorgiously warm and sunny and lovely to walk in the autumn colours with the sun on your face. It is so good to move! I can’t stress it enough. It raises your metabolism, releases your happy hormones, lightens you and if you are trying to follow a routine it is quite meditative and takes you out of your loop because you are concentrating on something else. You don’t have to be a super duper dancer, just do what feels good to you. Move more than you did even if that means walking at a snails pace. Sometimes we need to push ourselves, a bit of firm and kind encouragment never goes amiss.
And so, a couple of easy, nutritious, non-inflammatory and satisfying recipes for you.
I have given ingredient ideas, it is not rocket science, be easy, a bit more or less will be fine, adjust to what you have, it is all good!
I actually made mine with a 6 inch piece of squash, organic so I washed but didn’t bother peeling it, half a left over parsnip, 1 leek 1 miso stock cube, a pinch of cayenne, lots of pepper.
1 Butternut, or almost any squash. Depending on size use a whole one or part – you can judge!
1 onion and/or leek
1 parsnip (or turnip, swede, carrot)
1 miso stock cube
pinch cayenne or another chilli of you fancy some heat.
Chop it all up, put in pan and stir a bit over heat with a splash of olive oil. Cover with water, add stock cube and seasoning. Cook until all tender and whiz it up. I used a stick blender so I didn’t have to wash a whole blender.
Throw in a handful of frozen peas. By the time you serve and eat they will have defrosted and make lovely fresh little pops in your mouth.
Stir in a handful of baby spinach, by the tie its is on the bowls this will have wilted and be a great contrast to the silkyness of the soup.
A chunk of goat’s cheese in the bottom of the bowl (Robin loves this) goes deliciously melty.
A great dollop of yogurt (I use live sheep’s, I find goats too tangy generally but it could be a nice contrat for the sweet squash) plopped on top, especially if you used chilli in it.
Sprinkle with diced avocado, tomatoes, red onions and fresh herbs.
Drizzle with herb oil or a good plain olive oil.
Wrap and roll
Take a wrap, any wrap – Robin had flour tortillas, I had dehydrated flax and courgette wraps. You could make or buy coconut wraps, use corn wraps, Nori sheets or rice (spring roll wrapper) sheets, even make socca pancake wraps (lots of recipes online). Lets face it if you are eating bread you could simply make it into an over stuffed sandwich!
Pile on some greens – I used water cress
Layer up with coleslaw – I made a big bowl the day before using sliced white and red cabbage, cucumber, onion, red pepper, cellery and grated carrot with home made mayonaise
Add sprouted beans I used mung beans (instructions below – they are EASY, CHEAP, NOURISHING and go with anything!!)
Wrap it up and eat.
Sprinkle of spices, chilli, salt and pepper.
Scatter lots of chopped fresh herbs – mint, coriander, chives, basil, lemony sorrel…
Goats cheese (or feta would be good) rounded Robins out.
Boost the benefits with some fresh garlic in the cl-oleslaw or runn–bbed over the wrap.
Spread some humus, recipe here Tweak… and twerking would help too!
Sprouting mung beans
2 TBS mung beans (they expand a lot!) rinsed and checked for any little stones
Soak in a bowl of water (start with warm water for sweeter sprouts) for about 8 hours or over night
Drain in seive, rinse and replace in bowl.
You could put them in a jar with some mesh over the top. It’s supposed to makes it easier (so the perveyers of jars with mesh lids say) but I always end up doing it using a bowl and seive these days -so I suppose I have found that easier!
Rinse twice a day until the little tails are the same size as the bean. You can go longer but use before they grow a leave, you just want the tail.
Snack on them as they are or sprinkles with some pink himalayan salt.
Great alternative to crisps splashed with a little oil, apple cider vinigar and salt.
Add to soups, wraps, salads, stir fries.
You could add to anything savoury really!
Happy weekend xxxLearn More
Smash a mash.
How are you feeling? Have you followed anything here, changed anything?
Simply put, nothing will change unless you change something.
I know I am repeating myself but please don’t hold back until ‘all the bad stuff has been used up’, ‘after the holiday’, ‘after Christmas’ and all the other delaying tactics our heads can use. This is not a punishment!
Just choose better, mostly, now.
Right now stop reading and go and drink a big glass of water…..
Easy, useful, healthful.
Have a piece of fruit. If you don’t like biting into a juicy apple (pear, carrot, celery) cut one up and just have it on a plate next to you. Before you know you will have eaten it.
It’s the weekend in autumn, does that mean a comforting, big Sunday lunch or Saturday night pizza? OK, just change it up a bit.
Here’s a recipe to replace your stodgy mashed potatoes –
Multiply as needed but depending on the size of the vegetables this should serve about 4 or two for one meal and put the rest in a veggie soup tomorrow.
Steam or boil (don’t swamp them with water, just enough to cover) with a lid on.
When tender, drain (drink the liquid or use it in your sauce or gravy) and put into a blender or bowl if you have a stick blender with
A piece of butter, about 2 teaspoons or splash of olive oil
Pinch salt and a few grinds of pepper to taste.
Blend it all up.
Add, roughly chopped:
2-3 leaves of kale, calvo nero, chopped savoy cabbage or any dark green leaves
Pulse into the mash and serve!
Replace your pizza base with slices of aubergine with a splash of love oil smeared over them and roast until tender. When ready top as you would pizza.
There are lots of recipes circulating for cauliflower pizza base, look one up.
Use a stronger tasting cheese and less of it.
Don’t use pizza sauce just put slices of real tomatoes, a smatter of salt and a sprinkle of herbs on as your tomatoe base.
Two things today –
If there is one piece of equipment that I believe would help you have healthier meals it is a blender. A high powered one.
I use Vitamix and Blendtec. I have never used a Nutri Bullet but have only ever heard good things about them and they could be ideal for a lower price point and if you are not going to go the whole hog of grinding nuts, seeds, making flours etc. They also sound great for taking with you (I have been very tempted to get one for travelling, much easier than humping my Vitamix around!).
I am sure if you look on EBay or local second hand sale sites you could find any of the above at a good price because more people than I can count have told me over the years that they have a juicer in the back of a cupboard they never use and I am sure the same can be said for blenders.
Whilst it is important to MOVE it is equally important to rest. If you are healing mentally or physically, recuperating, dealing with and overcoming autoimmune disease or any illness you need to push the toxins out and you need to rest to heal.
On the internet there are loads of guided relaxations, meditations, peaceful relaxing music. You need to look around and try to find what suits you, some really irritate me which is the opposite effect to the one we are looking for! It doesn’t mean they are all the same; Take the time and then use it regularly.
10-30 minutes of deep relaxation, especially regularly, will make you feel so much better.
If you are working and feel that fatigue or stress creeping in pop out for a breath of fresh air or to a quiet place (the loo even) and take a few minutes out to just stop thinking. It might help if you could put a short meditation on your phone and use headphones. Make it happen.
Listen to your body and trust it to tell you.
Have a fun weekend xLearn More
Renovations dirty, frustrating, exciting
Do you ever have days when the thing you found so motivating and exciting yesterday is exhausting and overwelming today?
Welcome to my world!
I have been scared of heights for ever; I couldn’t go up the ladder to the first floor of the ‘little house’, the old tumble down house we are now renovating to move into so that the whole of the main house can be used for retreats, holidays and possibly B&B.
On Saturday, after months of attempts and a few days last week of “OK, Robin I am doing this, would you just turn the ladder that way then I will be OK?”….. I wasn’t. Then “OK, Robin would you put the scaffolding up under the hole and I can just climb up, easy!”….. It wasn’t, I didn’t.
So then he put a combination of ladder and scaffolding, then added planks, then stood on it all himself; no go.
So back to Saturday, I just decided and said to myself “I am a person who goes up ladders!” marched over, asked him to stand on the planks next to the ladder and walked straight up, hurrah!!!
Then I had to decide I was also a person who could climb down ladders. I did (eventually and with a few wimpers) and massive progress has been made.
All the bedrooms and bathrooms have been measured out and moved around until they worked. Of course all the windows and beams are not exactly where we thought, so I did a lot of moving around, toilets, basins, baths and showers juggled until there was enough room to get through a door and put a chair, a towel rail, a without going to the loo in full view of the garden etc.
It was fun and exciting.
Now it’s Thursday and Robin is still putting in the windows which don’t all fit (understatement) so have to be cut, filled, wedged and balanced to work inside and out on a crooked wall, a sloped sill, a wobbly lintel and two of us who think different things look best ha!
I have been putting more grass seed down on top of the seed that hasn’t sprouted – again. I am still wire wooling the floor in the main house, the electrician who has been promising to arrive for weeks didn’t turn up again (thats him out, enough is enough) and we are tired.
No amount of green juice, powdered or fresh wheatgrass or chia and aloe filled smoothies will help this mood – thank heavens for chocolate cake and juicy cherries! Raw, grain free, dairy free and energy boosting cake with cherries we picked and froze in the summer.
Sorry for the moan, better go and mow the weeds now while Robin calls the guy building the gate posts to ask where he is…..