All this week I have been working on my food diary assignment for college (not quite finished yet). As our house move is nearing I have also made a insignificant attempt to start packing. So far I have managed what you could call a drop in the ocean. To my horror I will have to repack several boxes as I have used the wrong size for books... The removal man has spoken!
Yes I am slightly overwhelmed with the task ahead, the fact that I only have one weekend free of college this month is amplifying my panic. Stress and panic are not good for my IBS so I am downing barley grass each morning (YUCK) and try to focus on the positives ahead. I have calculated that August might be the month I will finally relax, and believe me I am very much looking forward to that.
My food diary assignment has been a very fascinating endeavor indeed. It has been rahter tedious but a great eyeopener. I have analyzed couple days of my diet and my conclusion has affirmed that apart from vitamins B12 and D, there is nothing missing from my plant strong food. B12 and D I take as supplements. Eagerly I am waiting for some sunshine to get vitamin D the most natural way. Unfortunately we are having a freaky kind of spring down here so the drops have to step in for now.
My mum-in-law said to me: “Seeing how much you eat I am surprised you are not bigger.” Yes I like my portions big however my food diary confirms that even I eat large volume my calories are well under control. It’s all good and confidence boosting! Yes, plant strong diet does your body good. I do wish plant based diet could also make me more efficient in packing....
CRUNCHY FENNEL AND APPLE SALAD
This is a very yummy crunchy refreshing salad. No apologies for using lemon/miso combo as a dressing again, I am loving it! Any leftovers will keep till the next day you may just have to add more lemon juice to it as cucumbers loose water and dull the flavour.
Serves 4 as a side salad
1/2 large cucumber (about 220g, 1/2lb)
1 large apple
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp of white or yellow miso (I used live miso)
1-2 tsp date syrup
- Slice the fennel, cucumber, radishes and apple into very thin slices. You can use a food processor, box grated or a Japanese mandolin. Of course sharp knife will do too! Put all the veggies into a large bowl.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add to the salad bowl and mix well.
It is the 1st of January 2013. The first day of the new year. After a night of celebrating many of us are making new year’s resolutions. Weight loss will and exercise will be at the top of the list for sure. The papers are already rating diets and introducing new ones. Manhattan diet anyone? This morning I have received an email suggesting I hold a detox party!
Eating healthy shouldn’t be reserved only for January. It should be something we simply just do. I have a big appetite. My mum in law asked me how come eat as much as I do and don’t put weight on. It certainly is the foods I choose to eat, and the foods I choose not to. And I don’t always have a New Year’s Eve buffet in front of me.
So for a healthier 2013, let’s eat real food. Cook from scratch more. Eat more raw foods. Let’s realize our health is in ours hands. Move, smile, love more and stress less. Make time for yourself, the people you love. Make choices right not only for you but for the planet. Live with compassion. Be a part of the big picture.
And if you have over indulged the last week or so, try my grandma’s cleansing salad. Three ingredients, minimum effort and it is incredibly healthy. One of the salads ingredients is the super sauerkraut. It only contains 27 calories per cup, while being full of Vitamin C and probiotics. What a perfect start to the new year!
GRANDMA HANA’S SAUERKRAUT SALAD
You may notice carrot in my salad, this was part of the sauerkraut that I bought from my Polish shop. If you can, get some unpasteurised raw sauerkraut to get the beneficial bacteria. If you can’t find it you can use sauerkraut from a jar too.
3 cups sauerkraut
2 medium apples, diced
1 medium red (or sweet white) onion, finely chopped
Just add everything together and enjoy.
My son spent 5 days on his school camp last week. In preparations, while packing, I was trying to give him lots of well meaning advice. The usual: listen to your teachers and instructors, don’t do anything silly, make sure you shower (at least twice please!), change your underwear daily, brush your teeth.... and of course :”Please try to eat at least a little bit healthy.”
I was hoping for the best, but I knew there would be temptations on every corner. He did come home with a huge bag of sweets, but also a present for his sister (aaahhhh). He had a pudding every day and quite a bit of cheese. On the other hand, he said, he made sure he ate salad and a bowl vegetable soups every day. Pizza was on offer as a part the salad buffet, but apparently he only had it once because he didn’t want to eat too much unhealthy food. “And mum, I always asked for extra vegetables!” This left me wanting to dance a jig! I restrained myself. First and foremost I don’t know how to dance a jig and I really needed to keep my cool. Pretend this is not a big deal... But I did tell him how proud I was.
Few weeks ago I had a conversation with one of my friends about my kids and foods. I did tell her how I do bore them out of their skin telling them about the nutrients in the food they eat. She did say to be careful so they don’t rebel few years down the road. And yes, this is a possibility, but what teenager doesn’t rebel? I do believe that some of this information will stick in their head and they will come to see healthy food as the norm. At the moment my 10 year old seems to be doing quite well.
As a parent you can hope for the best. There are far too many kids who see junk food as the norm and these habits are hart to break. Even if my kids deviate from “our norm” from time to time, going back to whole natural foods won’t ever be alien to them.
Whilst helping me cook pasta for dinner, my son said “I hate brown pasta, we had normal pasta at camp”. Still he managed to eat 2 plates of the horrible hated brown pasta, saying it was rather nice.... Nice try! Next thing is weaning him of the sweet stuff... spelt mini banana loaves without added sugar are a good start.
mini spelt banana loaf with a glass of almond milk
MINI SPELT BANANA LOAVES
These loaves are more dense than a regular cake, they remind me of bread pudding. One easily serves 2 people.
Makes 4 mini loaves or one standard loaf
2 Tbs ground chia seeds
125ml (1/2 cup) water
250ml (1 cup) of almond (or other non dairy) milk
3 Medjol dates
2 medium overripe (or very ripe) bananas
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp bicarb soda
260g (2 cups) wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 medium apple
Walnuts about 2 Tbs per loaf
ready for the oven
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- First mix the ground chia seeds and 125ml (1/2cup) water. Let sit for 10min, the mixture will sort of jellify....
- In the meant time put almond milk, dates and bananas into your blender and blend till smooth.
- Add the vinegar and bicarb soda to the almond milk mixture.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and pinch of salt.
- Grate the apple and add to the flour together with the almond milk mix and soaked chia seeds.
- Mix together well.
- You can mix in the walnuts now or leave them for the topping (you can double the amount of walnuts and use them both in the cake mix and on the top if you wish)
- Divide the mix between 4 non stick mini loaf pans.
- Top with the walnuts and bake 25-30min or until the cake springs back when you press it with your finger. You can also use a skewer - the loaf is cooked when it comes out clean.
- Let cool in the tins and invert carefully (any runaway nuts are an extra treat for the cook)
mini spelt banana loaves straight from the oven (one without nuts for my daughter)
The other day I found myself pressed for time and not in the mood for any major cooking efforts after a day at the seaside. For occasions like that I have some Dr. Prager’s veggie burgers in my freezer. They may be not as good as homemade ones but they are loaded with veggies and perfectly convenient.
While the burgers were happily baking in the oven I decided to whip up a quick slaw, as the burgers needed something fresh and crunchy accompaniment. The only cabbage in my fridge was of the Savoy variety, not usually associated with coleslaw, but it was a very young one I thought it might work perfectly. You could use other cabbage such as white or pointed hispi cabbage.
I attacked the cabbage with my Pampered Chef mandolin, it was quickly turned into cute curly strips. My carrots kept falling out of the dratted guard which left me thinking I should have invested in a proper finger slicing Japanese mandolin. Frustrated I opted for the trusty box grater. The apple and pear were julienned using a sharp knife. Begin by slicing them into thin discs and than cut into thin matchsticks.
Lack of cashews forced me to use vegan mayo in my dressing, but cashew cream would have been my preferred option. Cashew cream is naturally sweet so you need to increase the amount of cider vinegar. To make the thick cashew cream use 1/2-1 cup raw cashews and enough water to just cover the nuts, this makes more than you need so reserve the rest for later use (cream sauce, cream soup or even a larger batch of the dressing). There are many types of vegan mayo, the one I used (Mayola) is more of a cream dressing in consistency and is tarter than the usual mayo. Just employ your taste buds when making this dressing.
FRUITY SAVOY SLAW
1/2 young Savoy cabbage, outer leaves removed, thinly shredded (about 3 cups)
3 carrots, grated
1 pear, julienned
1 apple, julienned
dressing with mayo:
3 Tbs vegan mayo
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs agave syrup
dressing with cashews:
3 Tbs thick cashew cream
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
1 Tbs agave syrup
- In a large bowl combine the cabbage, carrot, pear and apple. Toss well.
- In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the dressing of your choice. Pour over the slaw and mix well.
- It taste best if you can let the salad rest in the fridge for half an our. Keeps well in the fridge for two days.
There is something very exciting about eating seasonal produce. It is so exciting to get first asparagus, spring/summer greens (collards) or green pointy cabbage (also known as hispi). I have grown up eating lots of cabbage, mostly braised sweet and sour style, or fermented (sauerkraut) but than Czech restaurants came up with the idea of serving cabbage salads as a side to pretty much anything. Cost effective but very delicious. I am not sure how this craze started but these salads spread like garden weeds, even now lots of Czech restaurants will adorn your plate with one or two different cabbage salads. Usually one is made with white cabbage the other one with red.
I have always wanted to recreate a good cabbage salad and finally cracked it. The sweet and crisp cabbage, juicy apple, spring onion for a bite. Simple yet tasty, quite frankly you can’t go wrong with cabbage/apple combo. The best thing is this salad is even better the next day, the cabbage collapses a little, soaks up the dressing. I find myself a new favourite.
The key is to slice the cabbage finely, I used a sharp knife because I wanted nice long pieces. Food processor with slicing (not shredding ) attachment will do the job. The apples were professionally cut by my son. I sliced them into thin discs and he proceeded in cutting them into matchsticks. If you have a hard time finding the pointy (hispi) cabbage use regular white cabbage or even red cabbage, they will work great in this salad.
CZECH STYLE CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD
This salad will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
Serves 4-6 as a side salad or a part of a buffet style meal
220g (1/2lb) spring pointy (hispi) cabbage, thinly shredded
2 juicy eating apples, cut into thin matchsticks
2 spring onions, white parts only, finely chopped
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave)
Just mix all ingredients together, let sit for at least half an hour. Serve.
Another gorgeous sunny day, hubby working from home and some beetroot in the fridge. That got me thinking about making a cold soup for our lunch. I haven’t had many cold soups in my life, actually as far as I can remember only twice. A fantastic gazpacho (this coming from me who doesn’t like raw tomatoes) and a chilled berry soup. My husband though it tasted a bit like a sorbet, which is a great idea for next time...
Cold soup can be an alien prospect to some but once you try it you may get hooked. The flavour is so vibrant and zingy, it really makes your taste buds dance. My beetroot was cooked but next time I will try the same recipe completely raw .
One thing about this soup is that it is better eaten in smaller portions. The flavour is so strong that a whole soup bowl is very overwhelming. This however makes it a fantastic starter for an elegant dinner party, or even better served in shot glasses as an amuse bouche at a cocktail party. I can just see them lined up in a row, the gorgeous deep colour, topped with a head of young alfalfa and radish sprouts, who could refuse...
COLD BEETROOT AND APPLE SOUP
If you have a high speed blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) this soup will be a child’s play to make. If using a less powerful blender or food processor please see my tips below.
Make this soup ahead and keep in the fridge before serving.
Serves 4 as a starter portion ( I will have to see how many shot glasses I could fill next time....)
1lb beetroot (cooked or raw)
2 tart apples ( I used Granny Smith)
1 slice of ginger (roughly 4mm thickness)
pinch of chile flakes (or 1/4 of fresh chilli pepper)
1 lime (if using high speed blender half of a small lime will be enough)
3 spring onions
1 cup of apple juice
cupful of ice
pinch of salt (or to taste)
alfalfa and radish sprouts for garnish
method for high speed blender
- In your blender combine the beetroot, 2 halved apples, slice of unpeeled ginger, chilli, half of a small lime, spring onions, apple juice, salt and ice.
- Process till smooth (don’t let it heat up), this should take about one and half minute.
- Serve topped with the alfalfa and radish sprouts and a slice of lime.
method for other blenders or a food processor
I am not sure how well other blenders would deal with the rather hard raw beetroot, so experiment or maybe use the cooked one to be on the save side.
- Cut up the beetroot, core and cut up the apple.
- Place in the blender together with the ginger, chilli, zest of 1 lime and juice of half (or one whole lime - to taste), sliced green onions, apple juice and ice.
- Process till smooth.
- Serve topped with the alfalfa and radish sprouts.
Everyday we are advised to eat new exotic superfood, acai or goji berries, chia seeds, noni juice, Indian gooseberry and many others. How did the generations before manage to survive without these?
No I don’t dispute the health benefits of the above foods, but in my opinion all plant foods have their own super powers. The quick and simple salad I put together today is made of everyday ingredients and according to studies can protect you heart and eyes, lessen tumour growth, help reduce blood pressure, lower risk of asthma and help regulate your blood sugar.
What are these mysterious superfoods? The humble beetroot, apple, celery and walnuts! Combined together in a refreshing salad dressed only with raspberry vinegar. There is a reason why I don’t use any oil in this salad. The walnuts are rich in Omega 3 oils, the kind we all need to get more off. Olive oil, on the other hand, is rich in Omega 6 oils and we tend to have far too much of these in our diets. We need some fats to absorb vitamins from our veggies efficiently, in this salad the walnuts take care of that rather efficiently. Perfect balance.
You do have to put up with the beetroot colouring the rest of your food pink, no surprise there. If you don’t have raspberry vinegar any other fruity mild vinegar will work well. White balsamic would be great. The apple should be crisp and juicy, not too sweet, it needs to offset the sweet mild beetroot.
MIGHTY 4 SALAD
I used 1 large beetroot that I cooked till soft (about 45 min) you can use precook beetroot, as they are usually small I would use 3. There is no need to be too precise with the ingredients if you like more apple add more apple...The recipe can be easily doubled, tripled....
1 large beetroot
1 large juicy apple
2 celery stalks
handful of walnuts
2 Tbs raspberry vinegar
salt and pepper
- If using raw beetroot, wash it well but don’t cut of the ends as this would expose the flesh and make the colour leach out. Put in a saucepan cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook till soft. Large beetroot will take about 45 min.
- Cool the beetroot and peel, this skin should slide off easily. Cut into 1/2 inch dice.
- Cut the apple into 1/2 inch dice.
- Using a vegetable peeler or knife remove the strings from the celery stalks. Slice quite thinly.
- In a dry frying pan toast the walnuts, take care not to burn.
- Mix all ingredients together, dress with the raspberry vinegar, season with a pinch of salt and plenty of fresh black pepper.
Tea and Strudel
In my opinion there is no better drink than a nice cup of tea. My favourite, without a doubt, is green jasmine tea. I love its heady floral scent and gentle flavour. My cupboard is full of different teas, green and white, plain and flavoured, there are some with fancy names, teas in bags and loose leaf teas. Some have been tied by hand into intricate flowers that magically open up when introduced to hot water.
We all know the antioxidant rich tea has lots of health benefits. In UK tea is the number one source of flavonoids in the diet. I thought I would do a little experiment and search through some tea stories to see what health claims newspapers come up with. I must say I was overwhelmed.
These are some of the claims I found:
Drinking tea just may
- reduce chance of brain tumour and stroke
- help fight infection
- slow down weight gain and prevent obesity
- cut risk of throat and oral cancer
- help prevent breast cancer
- lower LDL cholesterol levels
- prevent flu better than vaccination
- alter gene expression and improve cholesterol metabolism
- lower diabetes risk
- extend lifespan
- prevent fatal autoimmune diseases
- fight ageing and free radicals
- cut risk of heart disease
- help to halt luekemia and other blood cancers
- block lung cancer
- prevent eye disease and glaucoma
- halt prostate cancer tumour growth
- treat/or prevent dementia, brain disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease
- fight lung cancer and pneumonia
- prevent and treat osteoporosis
A very impressive list indeed. According to these claims, drinking tea could help solve the world health crisis and we all should have green tea coming out of our water pipes. As amazing as all these claims are, tea is just one small part of a healthy lifestyle, drinking tea will not have a significant affect if the rest of person’s diet is poor. However based on this my daily cups of green tea will taste much sweeter (without sugar of course).
Most people associate tea with a piece of cake or biscuit so I though a perfect sweet treat will go down well with my today’s blog. A classic slice of apple strudel I grew up with is transformed into a much healthier bite size version. All the familiar apple strudel ingredients minus the sugar and pastry. The dates may not belong to a classic strudel but they are a fantastic glue to keep the bites together. One or two are enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
APPLE STRUDEL MINI BITES
100g (2cups) soft dried apple rings (not apple crisps)
100g (1cup) walnuts
70g (1/2cup) raisins
4-5 Medjol dates
- In a food processor chop the walnuts. The nuts need to retain some texture not turn into nut flour.
- Add the apples, cinnamon, raisins and 4 dates. Process until the mixture starts coming together. If needed add another date.
- Tip the mixture into the bowl and roll into 18 walnut size balls.
- Keep in the fridge, this will firm them up a bit.
Do you drink green smoothies? If the answer is no than start now. They are nutritious, delicious, quick to prepare, satisfying and the easiest ways to pack some healthy vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your body.
When I had my first home made green smoothie, I wasn’t quite sure about the quantities and ended up with a litre of thick yummy goodness. And yes I drank it all. When smoothies are left (even in the fridge) they oxidise and become rather unappealing. I didn’t want to waste it that way. So yes I drank it all, the whole 1 litre. To my surprise I experienced kind of a “smoothie high”, a very strange dizzy floating kind of feeling. I didn’t know this was possible. Than I saw a video of a young cancer patient who had the same experience when he had his first green smoothie. Due to raw food diet his cancer is gone, and like me, he has got used to having green drinks without the feeling of a “high”.
Kale and ginger smoothie
You will need a good quality blender to deal with the kale efficiently. My blender can take the apples and pears with pips, stalks and all. Depending on your blender you may have to core them. Instead of making a smoothie you can juice the ingredients to make a green juice (omit the water and ice).
Makes 2 large wine glasses
1/3 of a cucumber
couple handfuls of kale
1 pear, quartered
1 apple, quartered
slice of ginger
squeeze of lime juice
handful of ice
1. Put all ingredients into your blender and blend till smooth. If too thick add more water. Serve.
On Tuesday my Riverford delivery man, together with my veg and fruit boxes, unloaded the extra 4 bags of kale I ordered. As I found out I was not the only “kale freak” that week, another customer ordered 8 bags of the curly green. We discussed my plans to freeze some, and how to make kale chips that he vowed to try. Starting the kale revolution right at the source!
True to my plan I put two bags in the freezer. I steam them first for 3 minutes and quickly cool down in iced water, straight into freezer bags and quickly into the freezer. These will be great when the kale season draws to an end.
I do like kale in many ways and recently I fell in love with eating it raw. Massaging kale was a very new concept to me, but as soon as I saw it on Food Network’s Arti Party I felt inspired. Kale deserves a bit of a spa treatment and it surely benefits a great deal from it. Massaging it tenderises the leaves, leaving them much more palatable. Actually it did bring back memories of eating wild sorrel when I was a child, kale massaged with lemon juice has a very similar taste.
KALE, APPLE AND PECAN SALAD
- The honey pecans are fabulous, you can also use maple syrup to make these. I was a bit worried none would be left for the salad as they kept disappearing ...
- I actually like this salad made with just lemon (hence the wild sorrel association), but you can use a small amount of olive oil to soften the flavour.
- The beauty of this salad is that it keeps unlike tender salad leaves dressed with lemon (or vinegar), you can keep it in a fridge for couple of days.
Serves 2 (nice hearty portion)
200g (about 1/2pound of kale)
juice of 1 small lemon
1/2-1 Tbs olive oil (optional)
pinch of coarse salt
1 medium apple, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp honey
Strip the kale of the tough stalks.Wash and dry in a salad spinner. Shred into strips.
In a large bowl combine the kale, lemon juice, salt and olive oil if using.
Now get your hands in, massage the kale between your fingers for about 2-3 minutes. It will collapse to less than half of its original volume.
Add the onion and apple and toss together.
Let sit for about 20min, the onion will soften beautifully in the dressing.
Now make the pecans, heat a small heavy bottom frying pan, add the pecans, toss them around for 1 minute. Add the honey (maple syrup) and gently caramelise together. This will take about 2 minutes. Take care not to burn the pecans! Tip them onto greaseproof paper and let cool. They will be glossy and gorgeous.
When pecans are cool add them to your salad and toss together. Enjoy.
Poor brussel sprouts, they have a very bad reputation, nobody seems to like them. They are only put on English tables at Christmas and that is only due to tradition. Everybody seems to blame them for after Christmas dinner flatulence (I guess nothing to do with the thousands of calories eaten in one setting). They are boiled to death, endured and quickly forgotten for another year.
Brussel sprouts do need an image change. I think they are rather pretty, mini little cabbages, green gems you could say. They definitely are nutritional gems. Powerful anticancer food, full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they promote heart health, have anti-inflammatory properties and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. A lot of power in this small vegetable.
No, I am not expecting a major brussel sprout revolution, however they do deserve to be on our plates more often. Please give sprouts a chance.
BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH APPLES AND WALNUTS
Slicing the brussel sprouts thinly is a very clever way of preparation. Not only they cook very fast, but they do take on a whole new identity, you may even forget what you are eating. The apple juice counteracts any of the bitterness making this a very fresh and tasty side dish. Allow about 7-10 sprouts per person ( I am talking adults here), after all veg should be half of our plate.
40 brussel sprouts, discard any discoloured outer leaves and the stem, slice thinly
100 ml apple juice (preferably fresh juice, not from concentrate)
2 large apples, cut into matchsticks
handful of walnuts (can be toasted)
- In a sauce pan heat the apple juice, add the sliced sprouts, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 5 min. Test if tender enough for your taste.
- Add the apple and heat through.
- Mix in the walnuts and serve.