Category Archives: cooking

I can feel it in my body, I can feel it in my soul..

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There’s nothing like the feeling of your body absorbing nutrients from a healthy, well-balanced meal.

Last night I prepared some cacao-golden milk before bed (coconut milk, coconut oil, turmeric, black pepper, cacao powder, honey, cinnamon). 

There was some leftover and rather than be greedy (which I am far too often guilty of), I poured it over some gluten-free oats and chia seeds. Then mixed in some nuts I experimented in a dehydrator I’ve been kindly loaned (almond, walnut, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, leftover pulp from freshly juiced fruit and veg, cinnamon, honey). Tossed in cacao nibs and a couple of dates, then heated this morning with coconut oil, 1/2 a banana and handful of blueberries.
Didn’t take a photo in time and I’m sure it looks gross to most, but my oh my was it absolutely delicious. 

I did an intense Forrest yoga workshop last night, 2 sweaty hardcore hours in 30°c heat and only followed by a bit of fruit and coconut water to refuel (along with the cacao-golden milk).

So this morning my body is welcoming every single beautifully nourishing ingredient.

I’m so grateful for all the amazing things in my life – my health, the abundance of food provided naturally by pachamama, the gorgeous soul tribe who help me along my healing/growing path.

I’m truly blessed.

So yeah – random breakfast, full of goodness to set me up for a great day. In the words of that wonderful native American Indian song – I can feel it in my body, I can feel it in my soul! Heyaho!

Happy Sunday y’all!

Can’t Blog – Busy Fermenting…..

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OK, so the title of this post may be a little of a contradiction. Considering a lot of ferments pretty much take care of themselves, it really isn’t a valid excuse for having uploaded zero posts in the past 5 months.

But it is the truth I’ve been busy… busy making plans, busy ticking stuff off the bucket list, busy fulfilling dreams… regrettably none of the ‘drafts’ I saved got finished (something not unusual for me), but I’m here right now, and that’s all that matters… right? Man, I’ll deal with the guilt of procrastination later. For now I’m here to share with the world my new found love and fascination… the art of fermentation.

When I used to hear the word ‘ferment’, I’d automatically think of bananas that have turned brown and mushy in the fruit bowl, or gone-off milk that’s been sat in the fridge for weeks, or how my teenage brother’s bedroom might smell, if I had a teenage brother.

When in reality, the process of fermenting food (and drinks) is an age-old practice, utilised by our ancestors as a means of keeping food stored and edible for months on end, especially through winter.

Not only that, the longer food ferments, the more the ‘good bacteria’ grows… good bacteria which when consumed, can actually work wonders for our guts and digestion. Everything from vegetables, fruit, tea, milk and seeds can be fermented. And let’s not forget those of us who regularly consume yogurt – this is simply cultured (fermented) dairy!

Fermentation works by natural bacteria feeding on the sugar and starch in the food, which creates lactic acid. This not only preserves the food, but also creates beneficial enzymes, Omega-3 fatty acids, b-vitamins and most importantly, a multitude of probiotics. The process also helps break down the food into a more easily digestible form.

We’ve probably all heard of ‘probiotics’, and how they can benefit our health. But most store-bought products and probiotic supplements contain substantially less probiotics than home-made versions (not surprisingly).

Admittedly, I’m really just a noob at all this culturing business. But I’ve been reading a LOT, and have dabbled in a few experiments for the past few months. And I can tell you, I have not been disappointed.

It all started when my yoga teacher gave me a sip of kombucha to try, and I was instantly hooked. My body knew straight away I was giving it something so nourishing, and it wanted more. I won’t go into it too much here (will pend for another post – no procrastination!), but it’s basically black tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Yes, it sounds gross, but the magic happens when they all come together to create a delicious, fizzy, detoxifying beverage. And the benefits are amazing. I call it my elixir of life.

Similarly, the first time I tried sauerkaut (simply shredded cabbage left to ferment in its own juices), my body heaved a sigh of relief, like it finally found what it had been waiting for in food. I could literally feel my gut grabbing and digesting with delight, like a party going off inside there. And it’s super easy to make! Now I have multiple jars of different sauerkraut, along with things like brocolli, kale, asparagus, beetroot and apple, all stewing in their own juicy goodness (my housemates think I’m a bit mental).

There’s no going back for me now; fermented foods are part of my healing path. And I urge anybody who feels they need a health boost, wants to cleanse and re-balance their digestive system or just feel (round about) one-hundred times better in themselves to give it a try.

There’s tons of information out there and I want to reassure you not to feel too overwhelmed by it – it really is a super simple process. Honest – just give it a Google, then give it a go!

Peace and love friends 🙂

 

Healing Garlic, Ginger and Butterbean Soup

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It’s mid December! Which means it’s cold outside (cue cosy jumpers, hoodies and scarves), party season is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner. Plenty to get excited about!

But with that excitement usually comes extra strain on our bodies and minds; lack of sunlight, indulgence in naughty foods and alcohol and excess stress over pulling together the perfect Christmas can all take its toll on us physically.

So if you’re feeling a little under the weather, this nourishing soup is the perfect pick-me-up.

Garlic boasts amazing antibacterial and antiviral properties, while ginger stimulates immune function and helps fight infection, as well as reduces nausea. Together they pack a mighty nutritional punch, and combined with onion (also a natural antiviral decongestant) these benefits are boosted even further.

On top of that, butterbeans are a fabulous source of B-vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, fibre and protein. And along with cashews, which are packed with eye, heart and blood healthy vitamins and minerals, they help give the soup a warming, creamy consistency.

Even more to get excited about, this dish is so easy to make!

Ingredients:

1 head of garlic

3 carrots

1 tin butterbeans, rinsed and drained 

2 red onions

4-6 inches ginger

3 spring onions (plus extra to garnish)

Handful cashew nuts

1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano

Pinch of paprika

500ml vegetable stock

50ml almond milk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°c.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a baking tray and add the carrot and whole garlic cloves. I left the skin on the garlic for added nutrients, but these can be removed before blending if you prefer. 

Coat well in oil, 1/2 tbsp oregano, paprika and a little salt and black pepper, then roast for 20-30 min until soft, shuffling and turning half way.

Meanwhile season the butterbeans with 1 tbsp dried oregano and black pepper. Roughly chop the red onion, ginger and spring onions. 

Sautée the red onions and ginger for 3-4 min, then add the butterbeans for another 5 mins. Finally add the spring onions, carrot and garlic for the last 2 min.

Stir in vegetable stock, bring to boil, cover and then reduce to simmer for about 5 mins.

Add to blender (I used an immersion blender) along with almond milk and pulse until soft and creamy.

Serve and garnish with chopped spring onion.

Enjoy, and embrace the healing feeling and delicious flavours, while those antibodies get hard at work fighting your physical corner!

Stoptober: 31 Days Sugar-Free

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This year I decided to participate in ‘Stoptober’, opting to quit sugar for the entire month. So I thought I’d share my experience, plus a few handy ‘alternative’ products that quite frankly, I probably couldn’t have survived without.

To clarify, by ‘no sugar’, I mean cutting out the refined stuff, or anything where the top 3 ingredients are sugar (or products which are clearly laden, though may not make it clear on the pack).

So, things like biscuits, sweets, chocolate, most cereals, baked beans, yogurts, store bought sauces, cordial and fizzy drinks, cereal bars, cakes etc.

To be honest, most of these things I’ve generally avoided for a long time anyway (I haven’t had fizzy drinks or cordial for years, and since I switched to a plant based diet I only ever make my own sauces), but chocolate admittedly is my weakness, as can be cereal (if I’m bored at night I can put away 3 bowls without blinking). So to say it was a challenge is still somewhat an understatement.

In our western culture, we’re introduced to sugar from almost day 0. And quickly we become addicted to it, going through childhood with fists full of candy, throwing tantrums if we can’t get our fix. Then progressing into later life, as adults we find solace in chocolate bars and cakes (I know this is the main thing that gets most of my work colleagues through their day in the office, besides gossip). And if we try to resist, the temptation is more often than not too much, despite the huge sense of guilt that usually accompanies even just one Miniature Hero.

Now, many studies have emerged showing not only how detrimental the white powder is to our health (leading to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer), but also how highly addictive a substance it is (it stimulates the same pleasure receptors in the brain as cocaine!!).

Personally I’ve known this for a long time, never being able to have just one bite of anything that’s laced with it. And who knows how many times I’ve woken the next morning with a ‘sugar hangover’, belly feeling like it took a powder beating, hardly room left for real food yet feeling like I’m starving.

So when I quit, I found that the ‘hunger’ I often feel, despite having had substantial meals throughout the day, isn’t hunger at all but just a sugar craving.

Here’s what happened when I quit:

  • I stopped waking up feeling groggy/ inexplicably hungry. 
  • I lost weight, particularly that stubborn belly fat.
  • My cravings reduced.
  • I had more energy throughout the day, due to replacing it with more natural/sensible energy sources.
  • I was generally happier.

Of course, these things didn’t all happen at once, but did precede one another. 

The main change for me I noticed really was in the mornings; I was no longer dragging myself out of bed, subconsciously looking for my fix. Instead I had lots more energy, and really looked forward to my breakfast.

Here are some of the (delicious) alternatives that helped get me through:

  • Fruit (fresh, frozen, dried)
  • Maple syrup
  • Xylitol
  • Raw Bran Flakes
  • Pancakes
  • Home made popcorn
  • Raw cacao
  • ‘Plamil’ sugar free dark chocolate
  • ‘Pulsin’ raw brownie bars
  • Smoothies

These two together with soy milk are actual Love in a bowl 😍

Buckwheat pancakes – click for recipe

Cinnamon & maple syrup popcorn- click for recipe

Admittedly, once October was over I did succumb to 3 bars of cooking chocolate in one week (ugh, gluttony). But I’m trying my best not to fall back into that pattern again. And avoiding the sweets aisle in the supermarket is actually easier than it was before! 

I’d recommend anybody give detoxing from sugar a try- there are so many alternatives out there that help us maintain our energy levels without spiking then dropping our blood sugars (which only leads to further cravings). Like any drug, it’s a vicious circle and we all know addiction to any substance isn’t the ideal. 

Why not give it a try? 🙂

Peace and love, Warriors 

Healthy Cinnamon & Maple Syrup Popcorn 

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I’ve always loved popcorn, but couldn’t continue to justify pumping my body full of store bought, sugar – laden versions any more. 
When I first made it at home myself, I actually couldn’t believe how easy it is! Not only that, a 1kg bag cost less than £2.00… what a bargain!

And surprisingly, the corn is full of whole grains, fibre and antioxidants. Boom! (or should I say Pop!?)

Cheap, healthy and delicious.. can it really be? Well try the recipe for yourself and find out!

2-3 servings:

2 handfuls popcorn kernels 

1 tbsp coconut oil/ EVOO

For the topping:

2 tbsp coconut oil

1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon 

2-3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp xylitol (optional)

Method: 

Heat the oil for popping in a large saucepan. Add 2 kernels and place lid on top. Once the kernels have popped, the oil is hot enough and you can add the rest of the popcorn.

Replace the lid and wait until all the kernels have popped (or until there are 4-5 seconds between pops). Remove from heat and transfer to suitable bowl.

While the popcorn is cooling, melt the rest of the coconut oil in a saucepan and add maple syrup and xylitol (if using). Keep stirring until well combined, then add cinnamon and stir quickly.

A sticky mixture will form. Before it dries, pour over the popcorn and mix it all up, ensuring even coverage.

Sit back with your favourite film and enjoy (guilt free)!

Vegan Buckwheat Flour Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce

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Vegan Buckwheat Flour Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce

I couldn’t resist tucking in before I snapped the photo🙈

Hello Autumn. ‘Tis the season for juicy blackberries!

To celebrate I whipped up these buckwheat pancakes with warm blackberry sauce.

Best of all, I had them for breakfast, cos I can! Buckwheat flour is super healthy; not only gluten-free, it’s jammed with protein and fibre, an array of nutrients including magnesium, zinc and iron, it helps lower cholesterol, aids digestion and even has cancer fighting antioxidants. Win-win.

To make 3-4, all you need is:

120g buckwheat flour

200ml almond milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp ground flax seed (aka linseed)

2 handfuls blackberries

Handful blueberries to top (optional)

Maple syrup to top (or other optional sweetener)

For the sauce:

Add 50ml boiling water to a saucepan, with the blackberries. Heat for a few minutes until the blackberries soften, drain the water and add the fruit to a food processor.

Whiz until a sauce forms and set aside to cool.
For the pancakes:

Simply whisk together all the ingredients until a batter is formed (it shouldn’t be too thick, just similar to regular pancake batter).

Spread a little olive oil evenly around a frying pan. Then add a thin layer of batter and cook on either side for around 4 mins each, until the edges are nice and crispy.

Topped with blackberry sauce, blueberries, maple syrup and walnuts

I’m always full of energy and excited for the day after eating these babies!

You can top them with anything you like, but this blackberry sauce was certainly a sweet deal. I often mix it up with vegan chocolate spread, strawberries, raspberries, nuts, bananas and maple syrup. 

Enjoy!

12/11/16 UPDATE: Vegan pancakes 2.0.. stacked and layered with fruit is the way forward 👌

Crispy Cauliflower Bites

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I recently discovered these bad boys, the same time my best friend was giving birth to her first child- what a momentous day.
Believe me when I say, these are one of the tastiest vegan foods I’ve had the pleasure of consuming.

Having experimented with a few flavours, I’ve found that this ‘curried’ version came up top. But it can of course be amended to include any herbs and spices you like.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

120g buckwheat flour

220ml almond milk

3 tbsp coconut oil (measured solidified)

3 tsp paprika

4 tsp ground turmeric

4 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

3 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt (I use pink himalayan)

2 cloves garlic (crushed/finely diced)

1 inch finely diced ginger (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and melt the coconut oil in the oven on the tray for a couple of minutes. Spread evenly.

Chop cauliflower into medium – small florets (it’s really up to you, I prefer them smaller as they go crispier).

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger,  salt and pepper. Ensure everything is combined nice and evenly.

Next, add the almond milk to a separate bowl and begin dunking a few florets of cauliflower. Once soaked, dip them into the flour until well coated and add to the baking tray.

Try double dipping some of them (milk-flour-milk-flour) which will create a batter – like consistency, giving a thicker, softer coating (the mix between crispy and soft is amazing).
Don’t leave out the tiny florets either- these are extra special as they work great for a super crispy coating.

Bake for 15 minutes before turning them over. Add more almond milk to any florets that might still have dry flour on them and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.

Serve up with your favourite vegan main and enjoy!

Big hit with the dog who lives off junk food

Fun, nutritous and delicious.. you can’t go wrong 🙂
P.S. I’d love to know if anybody has tried making a similar version of these? I’ve read great things about pan frying them..

Accompanying home made vegetable pattie with rocket

12/11/16 Update: just felt the need to add this – after I mentioned to my friend about making these the day she gave birth, she admitted she’d had total crispy cauliflower cravings throughout her pregnancy, and had visited the restaurant we first discovered it multiple times towards the end!

Needless to say I whipped her up a batch in a nice little food parcel with some houmous and salad, and she loved it!

Ahh, universe, how you continue to fascinate me so.💚

Rice Krispie & Oat Energy Bars

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Since going vegan, I actually can’t get enough of puffed brown rice. I use it for so much, like when I want that naughty sensation of eating cereal and cold milk covered with sugar, I fill a bowl with puffed brown rice, almond milk and xylitol (a plant based sugar subsititute which ironically even has oral health benefits)… snap, crackle and pop.
Or I make something like these Krispy, nutty oat bars. They’re packed full of fibre and protein, and the chia seeds give them an extra energy bursting nutritional kick – great for before or after a workout. Plus they take just a few minutes to whip up.

Ingredients:

140g almond butter (or any nut butter, though almond seems to taste best as it isn’t overpowering like peanut can be)

3-4 tbsp maple/date syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 banana

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup puffed brown rice

Method:

Melt the coconut oil, almond butter and syrup gently in a saucepan. Blend together with the banana, chia seeds and cinnamon. 

Mix oats and rice well until sticky. Transfer the lot to a baking tray lined with parchment and freeze for about an hour.

The beauty of these babies is that you can take them straight out of the freezer and they’ll be edible within a couple of minutes. Hope you’ll try and enjoy 🙂
You can also of course mix n match- try opting just for just rice krispies and setting them deeper in the pan- leaves them nice and chunky with lots of bite.

Move over s’mores…it’s BBQ Oreo time

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BBQ #6 this year and #6 being vegan… and aside from Linda McCartney sausages and veggie patties, this time I discovered a real gem; WARM OREOS.
That’s right, whack a bunch of Oreos on the BBQ for a few minutes, wait for the biscuit to warm (it smells like cake), the cream to melt and you have yourself a delicious, naughty vegan treat that gives s’mores a run for their money. Just wow.

They are so exciting and moreish, especially on a restricted diet. Just try not to eat the whole lot (we got through 3 packs).

For the second batch I got crazy and added some dark chocolate on top😍

Finding ‘blog balance’ between my 2 favourite things

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Lately I’ve been wondering why I share more food moments than yoga moments on my blog.

Like both are my main loves in life, but I guess the balance of ‘want’ and ‘need’ between the two is quite rocky at times.

Most of my days lately have been spent in the kitchen. I mean literally, if I have just an hour free time I’m back in there, looking to throw something together that will help me to get me through another day.

Yoga is a deeper experience, executed mostly by, and with, myself, in a sacred space I have devoted to the practice.

Don’t get me wrong- I still practice every single day. And to a degree this is because it’s something I ‘need’.. but it is also merely a ‘want’, from my body and mind.

Whereas food is comparatively a huge ‘need’, as clearly it’s needed for survival. Even more so now being vegan, I need to make sure I’m always a step ahead of the eating game, and that meals and snacks are prepared and on hand as and when they’re needed.

I suppose with yoga being somewhat of a ‘private’ practice (aside from when I attend classes), I’m less inclined to ‘share’ my experiences on my blog.

But I love to inspire, and I want as many people as possible to experience this wonderful practice. So I will try to incorporate more yoga posts.

Cooking has been one of my main ‘exercises’ of late, and I do want to inspire healthy eating too. Yet again we return to that issue of balance… something I am also working on👌.

Peace and love yogis, chefs and fellow humans. I love you all, unconditionally.