Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Marvellous Marrow

So, long time no post. Life threw us a bit of curve ball which knocked us for 6 rather a lot for rather a long time. But we're getting there.

And yummy food like this certainly helps. 

But first a bit of backstory:

A few weeks ago we went on a very long overdue holiday to Crete and ate the most delicious food. Luckily we also did a lot of walking, but I digress.  Several of the dishes said they had courgette in them but I felt sure it was actually marrow rather than courgette.  I decided I seriously liked marrow! 

So, returning home I spotted a marrow on the weekly shop and eagerly popped it into the trolley, having no idea how one actually cooks marrow. 

It's languished in the fridge ever since but tonight, rather than a quick soup after the gym I suddenly fancied getting fancy with the marrow! And, like pretty much every meal I've cooked/assembled since our hols, it was going to be Greek inspired. 

It needed to be really rich but light, full of herbs and garlic and super nutritious. 

So, here's what I did. The usual caveats about my shunning of specific measurements apply!

Ingredients:
Olive oil
Half a marrow, chopped, skin on
Few handfuls pre cooked puy lentils
Few handfuls kale
Pinch chilli flakes 
2 great big fat cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Half tin chopped tomatoes
Handful fresh thyme
Squeeze lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper
Feta cheese 
Buckwheat (soba) noodles ( these have a lovely nutty taste and are nice and healthy and only take 4 mins to cook, but you can use any pasta / noodles)

So, here what I did with it all!

1. Heat nice big drizzle olive oil in sauté pan and add marrow. After a while add the garlic and the chilli flakes. 
2. Sprinkle in the lentils and the thyme. 
3. Add the kale and leave it all to jiggle about in the pan a bit for a while, then add the tomatoes. Just enough to coat the pieces, not so it's swimming in it. 
4. Season with the salt and pepper and add the lemon juice. 
5. Meanwhile cook the noodles according to instructions (don't forget the  cold water rinse bit). 
6. Add the noodles into the pan and mix together. 
7. Pop into some bowls and crumble the feta over the top. Finally add another drizzle of good quality olive oil and a final crack of black pepper. Then enjoy!

Took about 20 mins tops start to finish. Mmmmmm, soooo nice. Even if I do say so myself!

Oh, and did you know, the marrow is actually just an overgrown courgette!? They just pick them later. Well I never. 



Thursday, 12 February 2015

Chocolate fruit and nut balls

One of the first recipes or blog posts I saw from the sort of 'whole food' community was one about something called 'bliss balls'.  They were described as little balls of chocolatey heaven with none of the guilt. Or similar!  I rather liked the sound of that so I bought the ingredients and followed the recipe all excited.  Then, there they were, these little balls of loveliness all ready and waiting to pop into my eager and waiting mouth...

...I hated them.

And I hated the fact that I hated them.  I wanted to love them as much as blog poster did.  I wanted to feel a part of this wholesome whole food eating bliss ball rolling community.  

So I ate another.  Nope, still horrible.  They were just too sickly, a bit greasy, not quite sweet or chocolatey enough and just all wrong from my point of view.  A bit like nutella, or ferrero rocher...just not quite right if you ask me!

A while later, having seen about 85 billion more posts and recipes on these little balls of wrongness, I tried another recipe.  Still not buying it.

Then this evening I thought to myself, when I whizz up the dates and nuts and whatnot in the blender I always really like the taste of what comes out, and I'm pretty sure with a bit of tweaking here and there I could make the mixture into balls.

So, off I popped into the kitchen armed with my trusty hand blender (well, no, that was already there, but you know what I mean), rooted about in jars of stuff and came up with the following recipe which......I LOVED!! And so did Alex so there are now none left already.  Oops.

Here's what I did:

handful brazils
handful cashews
2 dessert spoons almond butter
tspoon or 2 date syrup
5 pitted medjool dates
1 table spoon raw cacao powder

You could use any nuts really but I just fancied this mix today.

Then all I did was whizz it up on full power for a bit until it resembled what I can only describe as crumbly soil!  There should still be visible bits of nut in it and it should be crumbly rather that gooey - add more dry stuff if not.

Despite being crumbly, it is also nice and sticky so then, just grab some in your hands and press it together into a ball shapes.  The mixture is enough to make 10 balls.

10 little balls of chocolatey yumminess I PROMISE.  Not too sickly, not oily, not sort of airy fairy chocolate, just yum with a nice consistency.

And whilst not the healthiest of all things ever, all whole foods, all natural ingredients and all yum.

I'd love to hear if anybody found another 'bliss ball' style recipe they liked or what you think of this one? Think I might experiment with a bit more fruitiness somehow next time.  Or dip them in molten dark chocolate and pop in the fridge to set. Or add some rose water. Or....

Raw courgetti spaghetti

This quick thrown together supper just saved us from ordering a Chinese takeaway!  That may not sound like a good thing, but it is.  A Chinese really would do me no favours right now.

It was another case of fridge gazing to see what happened. And what did happen was really rather wonderful!

I grabbed:
1 courgette
1 carrot
about 1 cup of pre-cooked quinoa left over from the weekend
1 large lemon wedge
1 small pot humus
handful fresh parsley
pinch seasalt
very small handful blanched almonds
small handful parmesan shavings
A hand blender
A spiraliser

Then I spiralised the courgette and the carrot on the narrowest spaghetti sized blade and threw it in a big bowl with the leftover quinoa (it only takes 15 mins or so to make fresh quinoa or you can actually buy it ready cooked too).

Then I finely chopped the parsley in the hand blender and added that in, along with nearly a full little tub of humus, the juice from the lemon wedge and the sea salt.

Finally I crunched up the almonds a little bit in the blender and stirred them in too with the parmesan.

It served two of us with some left over for lunch and was totes delish.  Very satisfying but light, tasty thanks to the humus and parmesan, full of wholesome goodness and tangy thanks to the lemon and carrot. We had it with a wholemeal pitta but would have done without to be honest!

I'm really happy with this recipe and will definitely be making it and version of it again. Yum,

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Superfast superfood supper

Some times I look in the fridge and think, "Oh, there's nothing for dinner".  At first glance that may have been how the fridge seemed tonight but when I thought about it I realised there was any number of delicious and nutritious combinations just waiting to be created.

I had my usual trusty stock of humus, various fresh veggies, sweet potatoes and salady bits.

So, I did the following:

Slice 1 red pepper
cook 1 sweet potato
Cut 1 avocado in half
chop up 2 carrots in the hand blender
lightly saute some kale with garlic
open a jar of almonds!
Dolloped on some humus.
Drizzled over some tamari sauce (like soy but wheat free and tastier)

Everything was raw bar the sweet potato and the kale making it super easy.  The sweet potato I pricked, wrapped in kitchen roll and whacked it in the microwave for 6 minutes.  The Kale took less time in a big saute pan.

Then all I had to do was divide it all between 2 plates and we were ready to go.

It was really lovely and very satisfying thanks to all the different textures and colours.  Filling but light and guilt free.

It was a good reminder that good food doesn't have to be created from a 'recipe' as such, or combined together to make it into something else.  Sometimes the raw (and literally raw in some cases) ingredients do as good a, or a better, job just as they are on the plate.

Brussels and pancetta pasta

I've written about my love of Brussel sprouts before and here I am doing it again.  Tonight they were supposed to go into a salad but the carb monster paid a visit after yoga and so they found their way into a bowl of pasta instead.  You'll note this is not exactly a vegetarian or fat free recipe, but it was delicious.

It went like this:

Small packet brussel sprouts, trimmed and sliced up
packet pancetta bits
lemon wedge
few flakes parmesan
Some kind of brown pasta (I used brown rice pasta, it's lovely.)
garlic infused olive oil because I was also trying to watch Broadchurch and didn't want to faff about chopping garlic in the break!

It  was easy peasy.

Cook pasta as per packet and while that's doing fry the pancetta.  As they start to brown, add the sliced sprouts and drizzle over some of the garlic olive oil - if you're actually using real garlic just chop that up and add it with the pancetta.

When the sprouts have softened and everything is all mingling together nicely and the pasta has cooked, drain the pasta and add it to the bacony sprouty pan (not the other way round or you lose all the lovely flavours and stuff).

Squeeze over the juice from one wedge of lemon, crack over some black pepper, crumble on some parmesan and enjoy!

A super yum way to get your sprouts!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Detox green juice smoothie

Sometimes I don't fancy a smoothie for breakfast, but do fancy the nice healthy kick a smoothie gives me.

Today not only was a smoothie not on the cards but a hot cross bun was! But I wasn't happy about just having a hot cross bun which has pretty much no goodness in it whatsoever. That doesn't sit well with me. So, I decided to make a light, refreshing zingy green juicy smoothie to give me a full on health power punch before the less wholesome hot cross bun. 

I say juice smoothie because I used ingredients I would normally use for a green juice but rather than put them through the juice extractor, I put them in the blender. That way I get all the goodness, fibre and all, rather than just the juice. 

I used cold green tea rather than almond or any other milk to keep it light and fresh, and also added some coconut water to loosen it a bit.

Ingredients:

Cold green tea, probably about 2 cups (I just poured it in). We get  2 litre bottles of Ohi Ocha Ryokucha Japanese green tea off Amazon but you could just make some green tea with a tea bag and leave it to go cold!
2 big generous handfuls spinach
1 apple cored and sliced. I used pink lady as they're my favourite
A decent thumb sized chunk of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
About half a cup of coconut water. I use Vita Coco which you can get in most supermarkets.

The actual liquid and amounts thereof you can play with until you're happy with it.

Whizz the spinach and liquid up first to make sure it's all properly blended otherwise you end up with chunks of spinach in it still.  Then add the apple and whizz that, then the ginger.  I added the coconut water as it was blending at this point as I noticed it was a bit thicker than I wanted it.

Fresh, light, zingy, healthy and yummy.  It needs a quick stir every now and again if you don't drink it all immediately as the liquid separates.  There were also a few little ginger fibres every now and again but not enough to put me off making it again.  Hopefully it will help sort out my snuffles too as I've rather had enough of feeling snotty this week now thank you!


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Best EVER chocolate mousse


It's one of those evenings again when I just fancy something a bit naughty.  I demand pudding!  Only we don't eat 'pudding' so there isn't any,  But there is a food mixer and a whole shelf of jars full of whole foody type bits which, with a little bit of cunning, can quickly resemble any number of pudding-like delicacies.

And given I'm impatient and it's already 21.30 tonight's effort has to not need cooking or freezing or in fact anything other than tipping, whizzing and eating.

So I'm off to make a chocolate mousse.  A dairy and refined sugar free chocolate mousse with an avocado and cacao powder, obviously.

But what recipe to use?  I've read and tried several avocado 'chocolate' mousse recipes and haven't been overly impressed with any of them to be honest.  The ones with banana taste like mushed up banana.  The ones without banana taste like avocado with a bit of cocoa powder.  I want one that tastes like chocolate mousse without actually being chocolate mousse.  I refuse to believe that healthy alternative puddings have to taste healthy or alternative, I want one that tastes as gooey, silky smooth, rich and delicious as the one we're all familiar with.

So, I set about making my own recipe up and lo and behold, it works!  In fact it's SO convincing and yummy I've now eaten the whole thing!

Here's what I used:

1 avocado
5 pitted medjool dates
2 dessert spoons cacao powder
1 dessert spoon raw honey
2 caps full vanilla extract
splash water
pinch of Maldon seasalt

I bunged it all in my mini hand blender thingamy and whizzed it up until it was super smooth and silky.  Actually, it still had a few tiny lumps of date left in it which added a certain something.

Honestly, I am not lying when I say this was right up there with the best chocolate mousses of them
all.  It's so close to the original I almost feel sick and have a headache! But not quite ;)  It's rich, deeply chocolatey, gooey and creamy with a great depth of favourite, sweet but not too sweet and with a perfect texture and consistency.  It would have been even nicer with some raspberries or strawberries but I didn't have any.

Now, clearly this is not 'health' food as such, although raw cacao powder, avocados and raw honey do have some lovely health benefits. Eating 5 bowls of this twice a day is not going to help anybody's weight loss regime or whatever, but I believe in progress not perfection and if the options are shop bought chocolate mousse full of chemicals, sugar and lard, or this one made with basically fruit, then I'm choosing this one every time.

PS whilst I may have nailed my chocolate mousse recipe, I clearly have some way to go with my chocolate mousse photography skills, but can assure you it tastes a lot better than I have made it look!