Normally I post new blogs on Sunday afternoon, but with this recent spell of snow(!) and winter weather I decided that I might as well post this as I write it.
And after a little hiatus I posted this blog earlier this week, so there you go. I know I’m not the greatest at consistency. I think variety is more my style.
Anyhow, with this recent weather though I was lucky and did not experience the full brunt of Storm Emma, (also known as the Beast from the East), I did end up stuck at home for two days which meant lots of hot drinks, blazing fires and plenty of time to work on the computer…
Whilst contemplating if I should dress up and take the 5 min walk to the shop or if I should in fact stay put, finish writing this blog post and then chill with a cup of this pink beauty and the latest book I am reading in front of the fire, the rain is slowly melting the snow outside.
It was definitely beautiful whilst lasting and reminded me of winters growing up back in Sweden. Yet I am so ready for Spring now!
Ready for longer brighter days, ready to prepare some raised beds and order some vegetable seeds and ready for a new season to arrive.
While you are waiting though, enjoy this warming drink and there are a good few new recipes lined up, coming your way over the coming weeks. More warming dishes to enjoy, whilst we are waiting and contemplating.
I got the idea for this Beetroot Latte from Instagram. Because giving proper attribute to the original creator is important and the right thing to do, I went back searching for whom I might have gotten it from, but when I typed in #beetrootlatte I got like 9000 hits! So maybe this isn’t a truly original idea after all…
Since I am such a cardamom fan, I loved cardamom added here. If that’s not your cup of tea (pardon the pun) then you could try another variation that I made some time ago which was a hot chocolate type drink, with some beetroot powder + a pinch of chili.
Dried beetroot powder is available in health food shops. It is kind of sweet and a great way to colour foods naturally.
1 cup of plant milk of choice (measure the milk out with the cup you intend to drink from)
½ tsp dried beetroot powder
½ tbsp. sweetener of choice – I like honey or maple
¼ tsp ground cardamom
Add milk and the rest of the ingredients to a small heavy based saucepan. Gently heat your drink whilst whisking all the ingredient together. Just before reaching boiling point remove from heat and serve.
If you want to pretty it up you can add some edible dried rose petals!
P.S I have *finally* signed up to Lightroom and started to play around with presets (kind of like filters). Please bear with me a as I am learning this new creative skill!
For the month of January I partook in a “Buy Nothing but Consumables Challenge”. Considering that my finances put a natural constrained on any purchasing desires, it wasn’t a massive task to get through, but even so I still found it an interesting experience and it did give me some insights and a new awareness.
This challenge was headed up by the lovely Kathy Peterman from simpleup.me whom I crossed paths with a few years ago in another online programme. Ever since then I have been a huge fan of Kathy’s work and she has inspired me to get decluttering, as well as now becoming more intentional with my spending. Though I can’t say I have been overly mad with my shopping and spending habits over the past few years, it is still surprising how you can find things to buy, that you don’t really need…
Having lived in a small space for the past 8 years, did mean I couldn’t store an endless amount of stuff, yet I still had boxes of stuff stored, and having not have to move for y I didn’t have that much need to go through any of it either. However, luckily I had already started on my declutter journey before I had to pack up all my belongings and move last year. Both when packing and when unpacking, I tried to be ruthless and got rid of a lot of stuff that I had stored for years, and even now with more space didn’t feel like I wanted to use them, so off they went. Including some of my books! I love books, so letting some of them go was a bit hard, but since I seem to continue to add more, it is definitely good to let them circulate. They may make someone else happy now that I’ve had my time with them.
My decluttering is continuing this month with “the minimalist game” which essentially mean getting rid of 1 item on the first, then 2 on the 2nd and so on. I think at that pace I’ll have no belongings left… so I am sticking to one item / day, which I think I’ll be able to do. There’s definitely still more stuff that haven’t been used in the last six months or so, that I am sure I don’t need , as well as stuff that’s well worn out.
So then what has this recipe to do with my current (and ongoing decluttering project?), well this recipe is one of my “fridge raid” type recipes. As well as the “Buy Nothing Challenge” , I also challenged myself to spend some time at the beginning of January to use up what I actually had in the cupboards, rather than buying more and as a result ending up with food waste.
That said, kitchen creativity does require that you keep a couple of basics to hand and then add fresh produce as you go along. As I tend to like warm foods when the weather is cold, I have been eating dishes like this one many times over the past month. Stir-fries, like this one are almost like warm salads. Almost. Or at least something in between a salad and a curry. Let’s not get to hung up on the details shall we?
Cauliflower is a totally underrated vegetable in my opinion. It is cheap, incredibly nutritious and very versatile. Most people (in Ireland at least) just boil it into mush and then serve it as a sad side dish. Which is totally unfair and doesn’t let cauliflower blossom in its own right.
In my humble opinion cauliflower is best enjoyed like this, finely chopped and a stir-fried or roasted, either way with some spices and curry spices seems to have a particular affinity with this veggie.
Please also note that though I think it is cool that cauliflower has gotten this new appreciation through it being used as “cauli-rice”, I still feel like if you really want to eat rice with your curry, stir-fry, what ever, do it! Taste and satisfaction is as important to any meal as the nutritional content. I much rather that you enjoy this veggie for its own beautiful glory, instead of seeing it as a substitute for something else. Being a consolation prize does not make anyone feel happier about themselves…
Curried Cauliflower Stirfry
1 small head of cauliflower, leaves removed, washed & roughly chopped
2 tbsp melted coconut oil or olive oil
2 tbsp curry spice powder of choice
10 dried apricots, chopped into chunks
A handful of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
3 tbsp of pomegranate seeds
A handful of fresh coriander, stems removed and leaves torn
Start with getting your ingredients chopped and ready. Then heat a frying pan, add the oil and when warm (not smoking!) add the curry and fry off for a min or two, until lightly fragrant.
Add the cauliflower to the pan and stir until well coated. Keep on medium heat and keep tossing and turning to avoid any burning. You want the cauliflower to be heated through but still have some crunch left to it. This will take 3-4 minutes.
Add the dried apricots and the pecan nuts and keep warm for another minute or so.
Add the pomegranate seeds and the coriander leaves just before serving.
Personally I prefer this warm, as a stir-fry type dish, but if you have leftovers they should still be good to go the following day.
*** This recipe is pretty basic and lend itself to endless variations. Like swapping the apricots for raisins (or leave out if you don’t like sweet things in savoury dishes), try a few mint leaves or fresh parsley. Maybe some orange segments?
It can be serves as a light meal as it is, or add some protein of choice (chicken, fish if you eat meat or perhaps some chickpeas or tofu if you don’t). Adding some cooked quinoa will also help make it into a more substantial meal.
You can of course swap the pecan nuts for any other nut or seed too. Feel free to use your own creativity!
A final note on cauliflower… Don’t fall for the marketing trick of buying it pre packed and grated. Seriously! I used to do in my food processor, but now I am to lazy to even pull that one out (more washing up!) with a half decent knife you will chop it in one minute tops! Here is a rant I had about pre packed cauli-rice.
This year I have decide to try something different. Rather than focusing on moulding my life into the way I “think it should be”, I have decide to “take action without attachment to outcome”. Only a few weeks into the year and my life is already giving me plenty of opportunities to practice this intention. In reality letting go of attachment to outcome means you also have to be ok when you get a no, and as much as I am telling myself that I am ok with a no to some of my asks when I look a little closer I probably aren’t… So I just keep reminding myself of something Brené Brown said, “The courage is in the action.”
Instead I get to practice sitting with my feelings, of disappointment or even anger. I also get the opportunity to practice courage and trust. (Or should it be “the courage to trust”?). Amidst this experiment of trying to live with the openness to the FLOW of life, I found this article by Sharon Salzberg, on one of my favourite websites On Being. It spoke to some of the ambivalence I do feel in making a choice like this. Because if you are not actively pursuing your dream life are you letting yourself go and giving up? Or am I just trying to give up on the suffering holding on to an expectation of a specific outcome is giving me?
This train of thought lead me to another observation this week. One of my colleagues in one of the FB forums that I am in shared a great resource for other things to do when we notice a desire to eat even though we are not physically hungry. I definitely things it is great to have lists of ideas of other thing to do rather than using food as a coping mechanism, even though in the journey to make peace with food there still have to be an unconditional permission to eat. Otherwise we may still end up subconsciously restrict, which can then backfire into over-eating later.
The thing is though if we move directly from noticing that we are reaching for food, without pausing to check in for what it is we are currently emotionally experiencing and move right on to the next non-eating distraction, we miss the chance to see what’s underneath the habitual impulse to reach for food. In the pause we can notice what is there, and follow up with a questions of “What do I need right now?
Depending on the emotion you may discover a different need. Sadness may require the comforting from another human being, or a pet (they are my personal favourites). Happiness may require simply some revelling in, because it can be oh-so-fleeting.
Boredom is a particular interesting one.
To be honest, I’m not sure if dealing with boredom through distraction, eating or otherwise is the best strategy. If we can simply be with it, boredom can open doors to a whole world of inner discoveries. Or we may discover that it is simply a passing state and part of our human experience.
One day during this week I noticed my need for comfort. Not as a way to deal with a particular emotion, more like a way of taking care of myself. A self care ritual of sorts. Comfort eating get such a bad rap, because it is seen like a way numbing out, escapism and sometimes as punishment even. Which may be true. However to me it is only a problem if we comfort eat in a way that doesn’t leave us feeling comfortable and nourished by neither the food nor the act of eating.
This recipe is one that brings me comfort on wet, cold and grey January days. Especially when consumed in front of the fire, with a good book in hand, dog in lap (which is optional + a little risky considering the hot liquid…).
It is also one that I intend to include, or some version thereof, in my first recipe book. Which I have still no idea of how or when it will come out. Before the end of the year at least…!
So here’s to comfort foods and comfort eating that leaves you feeling comforted, satisfied and well nourished.
Spicy Hot Chocolate for Colder Days
Makes about 10 portions, depending on how much mix you use for your cup
5 tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp coconut sugar or demerara sugar (or you can leave this out and sweeten with maple syrup / honey to taste when you have the drink made up)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground dried ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves – optional
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Place all ingredients in a clean, dry glass jar and mix until they are all well combined.
To make your hot spicy chocolate drink;
Measure out your milk of choice (cow’s milk or plant milk). For practicality I tend to pour the milk first into the cup I intend to drink from, to get the right volume.
Then add the milk to a small saucepan. Allow roughly a tbsp. of chocolate powder per cup/ person. Add the chocolate powder to the milk. Whisk rapidly as you are gently heating up the milk.
Keep whisking to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pan. Avoid boiling, as if you are using plant based milk it may separate.
Your hot chocolate drink is ready just before it reaches boiling point. If you didn’t add any sugar to your cacao mix, now is a good time to add it to the hot drink. Honey or maple syrup are really delicious.
Pour it back into your cup of choice for serving and enjoy!
I love marshmallows, so this time I piled them high. (Not homemade)
P.S I’ve invited Spring into my home. whilst waiting for it to take hold outside…
I feel like I’m behind with writing blog posts… Again!
I had another post idea lined up but since it hasn’t been written up yet, I think it will have to wait until the New Year. Who wants to think about batch cooking and meal planning at the moment anyway, right?!
It can be a challenge to balance out all the heavy meat (if you eat meat) based dishes, together with all the lovely Christmas cakes, minced pies and chocolates we tend to feast on throughout the month of December. It may even feel like you “have to eat it all”, because these are seasonal foods meaning we won’t see them again for another year. A dreaded sense of scarcity sets in…
It is all too easy to fall into this scarcity trap.
I do that too sometimes when I find a food I really like and that I haven’t had for awhile.
There is a beauty to seasonality though and that is the fact that because some foods are in season at different times of the year, we get the opportunity to savour them at that time. However, given the current world we live in, if we truly want something very particular chances are we can get it, or make it ourselves.
Letting go of the feeling of “having to eat it all now before it is gone”, instead shifting it to a place of attunement and gratitude may help us savour these foods mindfully, instead of just wolfing them down not actually tasting them or enjoying them at all. Letting go of eating just for the sake of eating, can open up space to have a really satisfactory eating experience and usually when we have that we don’t tend to go looking for more.
Anyway… My intention for this blog post was to give you some inspiration when it comes to adding some green stuff to the Christmas menu.
I’m sharing this Fig & Walnut Salad + I have linked to a few of my other winter favourites from the past as well as from my favourite bloggers around the world.
Whether you will be the brave one introducing a new dish on the 24th / 25th or if you decide to try some new plant based dishes between Christmas and New Year, just to lighten things up a bit, I do hope you decide to give some of these a go! Vegetables are here to be celebrated… Any time of year!
Fig & Walnut Salad with Goat’s Cheese
1 small head of radicchio, finely shredded
4-5 stems of kale (I used the purple variety here but green curly kale is fine)
4-6 fresh figs, depending on size
100g goat’s cheese (get a variety you like, or leave it out)
A handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
A handful of fresh blueberries
2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. clear runny honey
½ tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Remove the outside leaves of your radicchio and then cut into fine strips. Remove stems from the kale and chop finely.
Place the cut kale, drizzle over the olive oil and then gently massage it to soften the leaves. Add the shredded radicchio to the bowl.
Cut the pit off the fresh figs and then make two slits across the middle. Place a chunk of goats cheese in the middle of the fig then place under a hot grill for a few min until cheese is lightly golden.
Place some of the salad on each serving plate. Add a grilled fig each on top of the salad. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and some runny honey over the fig and salad. Finish off by scatter some chopped walnuts, chopped rosemary and a few fresh blueberries over each plate.
Eat and enjoy!
** If you don’t want to include goat’s cheese, then cut the figs into smaller quarters instead**
If you are looking for some more green inspiration for the Christmas table, or any other day for that matter, here are some of my favourites!
Past winter salads from my blog:
Kale Salad with Orange-Tahini Dressing
Black Quinoa Salad with Kale, Apples & Crunchy Hazelnuts (you can leave out the quinoa if you make it as a side)
A Festive Salad (with Brussels Sprouts)
Rainbow Slaw with Mustard Dressing
Red Cabbage Salad with Blueberries & Coconut
And here are some festive recipes from some of my favourite food bloggers that I’ve been following for a long time!
Like this Blood Orange & Kamut Salad from Cashew Kitchen
THIS recipe from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks changed my view on Brussels Sprouts forever. Super simple too!
An old recipe from Green Kitchen Stories with Saffron
And finally another recipe from GKS which is a little bit more like a main course.
Halloween has just been (and the Christmas decorations are already appearing around the place!) but for all my U.S friends Thanksgiving is just around the corner. So I suppose it is still pumpkin season.
I was contemplating the other day how nature seem to have provided us with a natural harmony of flavour pairings. It seems like many foods that are in season at the same time, go well together.
Like apple and blackberries, or apples and pumpkins. Or hazelnuts and mushrooms. Each season has its own charm, yet there’s something so comforting about the foods that comes with this time of the year. I don’t know about you but I naturally yearn for more stodgy food when the weather gets colder. Spicy soups, roasted root vegetables, strews. Less salads more strifries. That kind of thing.
I think I read somewhere you need to live a full year somewhere, through all the seasons, before you are fully rooted in your new environment. Not sure where I read it, but regardless, it has been my lived experience. Would you agree?
There are more seasonal recipe ideas to share, like an apple and blackberry crumble I have made on repeat lately, but have yet to photograph, a purple salad and maybe this year my own version of a mushroom soup, will make it here too.
Until then, I hope you will enjoy this pumpkin soup recipe!
Apple & Pumpkin Soup
1 Hokkaido Pumpkin (Butternut Squash could work well too)
4 small or 2 big eating apples
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin, ground
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cinnamon
½ pinch of ground cloves
Approx. 1 litre stock
Sea salt & Black pepper to season
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Heat oven to 200˚C. Make a few cuts in the whole pumpkin and then on a baking tray and roast for about 2h, until soft. Doing it this way, I’ve found make much less work than trying to wrestle with it in its uncooked state.
Once cooked and soft, set aside to cool. Once the pumpkin has cooled down, remove skin and seeds and roughly chop.
Chop onion, garlic and the apple into small pieces.
Heat a heavy based pan, add some olive oil. Then add garlic and onion and sauté until soft and translucent.
Add spices and fry off at a low heat for 1-2 min until fragrant. Add the apple pieces and the pumpkin pieces. Add the stock.
Bring to a lively simmer and cook for about 30min until the apple is soft. Let the soup cool somewhat, add the red wine vinegar and then blend until smooth.
Season to taste. Add more liquid if you find the consistency too thick.
What do you do when life throws you unexpected curve balls?
Do you go in to defense mode, get angry and start blaming yourself, and / or those around you?
Or do you recoil, and go into hiding out mode, become passive not knowing what to do?
Each life event, depending on what it is, will have us reacting in expected AND unexpected way. For some of them, we truly can have no idea how we will end up handling it until one day we are faced with it. Like loss and grief.
The month of October turned out to be one of a pivot point in my own life. One of breaking point, where I realised I had gotten the end of my level of toleranc. And the only way out was letting go and move forward into the unknown in whatever way that would look like, as long as it was different from my current reality. Because how things were was no longer working.
It had become evident that it was time to move and find another place to house myself and my dogs.
Considering I had lived the past 8 years in the same spot, this did feel like a pretty daunting move, and I have had a whole lot of “excuses” to why I couldn’t make it happen any sooner…
But when push came to shove, I let go. And I did something that is very hard for me to do, I asked for help. What happened felt like nothing short of amazing!
Through one of my close friends I managed to find a suitable place, just a few miles away (which made hauling my belongings so much easier!) So in just one week I had moved in to my new home.
I doubt that I will live here for the next 8 years, but it is perfect for now, and gives me a lot of space to get back to creative mode again. Now that the initial stress and overwhelm have passed, I am actually excited to see what this new chapter of my life will bring.
Change has not only just taken place in my own personal life…
You may also notice some minor changes to the blog?!
Like a NEW LOGO! And a new tagline. (This is the third tagline I have had since this website was birthed into life four years ago…)
Because, like I said, life is forever changing and evolving I felt it was time for a new logo, and tagline(!) to better reflect where I am at with my work and my message. So.This.Is.It.
I would love to know what you think of the new logo and tagline.
What does Wholehearted Living look like to you?
And when you hear Mindful Eating? What comes to mind?
To be honest, these past few weeks definitely put my intention of wholehearted living to the test. I realised why I have been working on myself over the year, reading umpteen self-help books, getting coaching, taking courses and training and gone to retreats. Because in the midst of it all, I realised that I have now lots of tools to draw upon, as well as kind supportive friends (thankfully) that is really beneficial when life takes unexpected turn like this. Which it inevitably will, it’s just part of being human and alive.
So, just a small glimpse of my life, and the reason for why it’s been a little quiet on the blog.
Now let’s get to the recipe!
This is actually one of those “deconstructed” type recipes, based on a really delicious recipe by Dale Pinnock aka The Medicinal Chef. His books and recipes are fab and well worth checking out.
In his version the sweet potato is mashed and added on top of the cooked spinach and chickpeas, and then the blue cheese added before it is all baked in the oven. It is such a comforting dish! Perfect for this time of the year.
Here I have pared it down in to a baked potato version and serving the chickpeas et.al. on top instead.
It had been a really long time since I had a baked potato, something that was really popular in Sweden when I grew up. But with ordinary white potatoes instead. It is really a simple dish, that you can whip up anytime. Just don’t start the project of cooking one when you are already approaching a ravenous state of hunger though… As you do need a good 45 min for it to cook in the oven.
If you are cooking for a crowd, just double the quantities accordingly.
Baked Sweet Potato with Mashed Chickpeas & Sundried Tomatoes
Serves 1 (double quantities as necessary)
1 decent size sweet potato, washed, leave peel on
½ tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
Approx. 7 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
A large handful (about ½ cup) fresh spinach leaves, if using large leaves roughly chop them
½ tsp of smoked paprika powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
50g blue cheese of choice
Sea salt & Black pepper, to season
Heat the oven to 200˚C. Place your sweet potato(s) on a baking tray and put in the oven. Cook for approx. 45 min until it is soft right the way through.
To make the chickpea mash; Gently heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chickpeas, spices and seasoning. Cook on medium heat until heated through and then roughly mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork.
Add the spinach to the pan and cook for a few min until wilted down.
Take out your cooked sweet potato. Allow to cool slightly, make a cut through the middle and squeeze open. Then add the spinach-chickpea mix on top. Add some blue cheese or feta if you prefer to top it all off.
Serve and enjoy.