I don’t know about you but I find it hard to come up with inspiring lunches to get me through my work days. All too often I reach for a tub of houmous and some oatcakes or a boring salad with some greenery, cucumber and tomatoes, nothing that exciting to look forward to (although I do love a tub of houmous). But I’ve really been working on livening up my salads. I work in the middle of nowhere and the nearest shops are a five minute drive away, and I’m reluctant to head to M&S for an expensive lunch. I’ve been working on a new evening routine that means I spend a little time preparing a tasty lunch, yes, it does mean taking time out of your evening, but trust me you’ll be thanking yourself at lunch time the following day! I encourage you to join me and try this salad it’ll have you counting down the hours until your lunch break. In fact, this recipe will make enough for three or four days, so if you’re happy with eating the same thing for a few days you’re laughing!
Sweet potato & quinoa salad with lemon tahini dressing
Makes 3-4 servings
20g sunflower seeds
1 sweet potato
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp tahini
1/2 juice of lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 romaine lettuce
A handful of cherry tomatoes
Quarter of cucumber
Handful of coriander
- Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a baking tray in an 180C oven. Chop the sweet potato into cubes and along with the garlic cloves, throw in the baking tray. This takes about half an hour to cook.
- Meanwhile, bring the water to boil in a saucepan and add the quinoa, simmer for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
- In a frying pan, lightly toast the almonds and sunflower seeds for 5 minutes on a medium heat.
- Chop the lettuce, coriander, tomatoes and cucumber and put in a large bowl.
- In a mug, mix together the tahini, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and olive oil until smooth, season with salt and pepper.
- Mix the quinoa in with the salad. Once the sweet potato is cooked add that to the bowl and then stir through the dressing and the almonds and sunflower seeds. Keep refrigerated.
Happy salad days!
September has arrived, drawing Summer to a close. Things are slowly starting to change, the temperature is getting that bit cooler, the evenings are drawing in. It’s time to think ahead to those even colder, shorter, darker days when flu rears its head.
Why, you might ask…
… because the elderberries are out and they are well known to help prevent and ease symptoms of colds and flu. So although Summer has barely had a chance to say goodbye, it’s time to prepare for Winter!
At the first sign of a cold or flu many of us run to the pharmacy to buy some concoction of paracetamol and caffeine. But never mind those nonsense chemical lemon sachets, elderberries are readily available (more than likely not very far from your doorstep) and with only a little bit of effort, they make the perfect, natural cold and flu prevention tonic.
Last year I made an elderberry syrup which I froze in ice-cubes but this year I have a new found skill that I want to put to the test, tinctures!
Tinctures are a way of preserving plants and berries in a way that is longer lasting and more portable than syrups and teas. They are essentially concentrated, alcohol-based extracts or in other words, a natural medicine.
The key with tinctures is to be prepared as although they are incredibly quick and easy to make they take a long time to mature, so bear in mind your medicine won’t be ready for weeks or even months.
Elderberry & Echinacea Tincture
20g dried echinacea root
200ml good quality vodka (or to fill jar)
- Pick the elderberries off the stalk, ensuring all the stalk is completely removed.
- Place the elderberries into a sterilised jam jar (I place a clean jam jar in an oven for 5 minutes before leaving to cool) with the echinacea root and pour over the vodka. Fill the jar completely with vodka so that no air will remain when you put the lid on as this may cause it to go off, better to over fill and spill a little than ruin your tincture.
- Shake the jar and top up if necessary on a daily basis to remove any pockets of air.
- After three weeks, strain the liquid through some muslin and pour into a glass amber bottle. (Amber bottles look pretty but they also help preserve the tincture longer by blocking out light.)
- Take one teaspoon daily when cold and flu season is rife.
There are so many plants and “weeds” growing in hedgerows, along canal towpaths or around the edges of parks that have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years as natural medicines. With just a little know how we can make use of these plants and lessen our dependancy on pharmaceutical products. Tincture’s are just one easy way we can put these plants to use. I promise it’s super easy, give it a try!
We seem to be racing through August, yes it is August… You may have indeed forgotten it is actually Summer with all these cloudy grey days and rain. But luckily for us the crops are still managing to realise what season we’re in!
So yes, hello August, hello Mediterranean vegetables!
There’s tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, aubergine galore. If you get a seasonal veg bag no doubt you’ve already had plenty of British grown med veg : ) If you don’t, get yourself down to your local farmers market and taste the delights, it’s a world away from the stuff you buy in a supermarket in the middle of winter imported from who knows where!
Now the Mediterranean isn’t normally associated with vegan cuisine but I discovered a traditional vegan dish in Mallorca when on holiday there earlier in the year.
With all these wonderful Medeterrean vegetables in season in the UK, I can now finally recreate it at home. Wohoo!
This dish is wonderfully simple but oh so delicious!!
6 medium sized tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
Good quality salt
Black pepper to taste
- Begin by making the tomato sauce. Crush the garlic and gently fry in a large saucepan with a little olive oil for a minute or two.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the pan, also add the bay leaves and tomato puree. Stir and leave on a low/medium heat with a lid askew. Leave to cook gently whilst you prepare the vegetables, checking and stirring occasionally.
- Heat a large frying pan to a medium/high heat. Thinly slice the potatoes and fry them off until cooked and starting to brown.
- Layer the potatoes in the base of an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with a little salt. Thinly slice the remaining vegetables.
- Add a little more love oil to the frying pan before frying the onions until soft and starting to brown. Then layer on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with a little salt.
- Repeat with the courgettes and then the aubergine, layering each in turn.
- Return to the tomato sauce, season and pour over the layered vegetables. Press down with the back of a spoon to ensure the sauce soaks through all the layers.
- Bake at 180C in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes and serve with a side of wilted chard.
It’s pretty easy to forget that produce like courgettes and tomatoes only grow in a fairly narrow window in this country when we can buy them all year round in supermarkets. By eating locally grown food we can connect with our own region and climate, and truly value the variety and seasonality of local produce. Not only does home grown, local produce taste better, it makes you value the ingredients all the more and can inspire you to make something that extra special : )
I have to confess, I’m a bit of a green juice addict. They’re so refreshing and nourishing, it’s like drinking a glass of pure health. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that juicers are an absolute pain in the arse to clean, I would genuinely be an addict!
With all this said, I have just one particular favourite juice that I pretty much make all the time! The only trouble being is that it has apple in it and right now, in the height of summer, we are all out of last seasons apple stores and a few months away from this years season – so I’m having to come up with summer juice alternatives!
This one is made with refreshing fennel and cucumber, giving you the perfect taste of summer! It is a pure green juice as it contains only vegetables with only a tiny piece of sneaky lime. It’s not too sweet but it’s crisp and fresh, perfect for a hot August day!
Summer Green Juice
1/2 small fennel bulb
3 stalks celery
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/4 lime, flesh only
A few mint leaves
1/4 tsp spirulina
- Wash the ingredients and chop them into large chunks.
- Process everything through your juicer apart from the spirulina.
- Put the spirulina into a glass and pour over a small amount of the juice. Whisk together until smooth.
- Pour the rest of the juice into the glass, stir and enjoy.
Well we’re in the height of summer, although you wouldn’t believe it looking at today’s weather, it’s been freezing! I’m really enjoying the new variety of vegetables that are in season. This weekend we celebrated Amy’s birthday; we ventured to the local pick your own farm before heading home for all things cider and BBQ based. Whilst we were mainly picking the last of the strawberries and finding the best raspberries and redcurrants to bury into the freezer to get us through the winter we also found some marrows.
Marrows are one of those vegetables, which can be a bit boring. I’m a fan of boring and really like marrows but I can understand why some people may not really appreciate them quite so much. So, when life brings you marrow…..stuff them!
Stuffed marrows with puy lentils and tomatoes
250g puy lentils
1 cartoon of passata
2 tbsp dried basil
2 cloves of garlic
1. In a saucepan cover the lentils with boiling water and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, slice the marrows in half (lengthways) and scoop out the seeds (don’t throw them away)
3. In a roasting tin place the marrows and drizzle with olive oil and pop in the oven at 180C.
4. Dice up the marrow seeds and flesh and add to the lentil to cook down.
5. Once the lentils are cooked, drain and add the tomato sauce along with the garlic and season with pepper and basil.
6. Once the tomato starts simmering, take the marrow out of the oven and spoon the lentil mixture into the marrow. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with some green vegetables and mashed potatoes.
We’ve waited a very long, dark winter and rather rainy spring for soft fruits to come back round into season. And I know I’m not the only one gorging themselves now it is finally upon us. Strawberries are of course the first of the year to ripen (just in time for Wimbledon) and there’s plenty to make with them! Unless you’re my Mum of course who thinks they are so good you should just eat them raw…
Well Veronica had different ideas with her Strawberry Galette which she shared with us last strawberry season. I have kept them raw, strictly speaking but have blended them up with cashews to make this delicious and creamy raw strawberry and cashew mousse.
It’s so quick and easy to make you have to give it a try. It makes the perfect dessert for a long, warm summer’s evening.
Vegan Strawberry Mousse
150g raw cashews
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp agave syrup
- Soak the cashew in cold water for at least two hours or preferably overnight.
- Rinse them thoroughly and leave to drain.
- Blend them with the coconut oil and agave syrup until they begin to form a smooth creamy texture. This will take a while so just keep blending.
- Add in the strawberries a handful at a time then blend until completely smooth.
- Divide into serving bowls and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- Serve with chopped strawberries and some sprinkles. I used hemp seeds and cacao nibs.
Enjoy strawberry season! After all the next one is a long time coming : )
One of the things I love about summer is salads. I know…..salad….boring! Wrong. You’ve just got to make it more interesting. Now we’re well and truly into summer I’m starting to get some more vegetables in my veg box to make my salads that little bit more exciting.
One thing I love about getting a veg box is the variety of lettuces we get to eat. I’m not talking about your typical iceberg or your cos lettuce here, oh no sir-ee. I’m talking flavoursome salad leaves, peppery leaves, unidentifiable leaves…..basically you’ve got to get some flavour in the base layer of your salad.
This week we also received a bundle of vibrant pink radishes. They look just how radishes should look, all different shapes and sizes, slightly different to the uniform round ones you get in the supermarket. These taste so good.Any good salad isn’t complete until you’ve got the dressing. This is where you make or break it. Often I just drizzle a little olive oil or balsamic vinegar but nothing beats putting a little bit of effort into making a tangy dressing.
Peppery Radish Salad
A couple of handfuls of lettuce (washed)
4-5 radishes (washed and sliced thinly)
1 cup puy lentils (cooked and cooled)
1/4 cucumber (sliced as you prefer)
1/2 raw beetroot (grated)
A handful of fennel leaves
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 garlic clove (crushed)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1. In a large bowl add your lettuce, radishes, cucumber, and seeds. Mix together.
2. Once cooled, add the lentils to the lettuce and mix together along with the beetroot, and fennel leaves.
3. In a cup, add the garlic, mustard, oil and vinegar and stir thoroughly. Drizzle over the salad and stir to coat all the leaves.
This is perfect to eat for lunch or box it up and enjoy for a couple of days at work.
Happy salad days.