Baked Sweet Potato with Warm Chickpeas, Sundried Tomatoes & Spinach

Baked Sweet Potato with Warm Chickpeas, Sundried Tomatoes & Spinach

 

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.

baked sweet potato recipe

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.

straightforward nutrition

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.

Baked Sweet Potato

 

Kale Salad with a Garlic-Tahini Dressing

Kale Salad with a Garlic-Tahini Dressing

 

So here we go with another kale salad recipe! Told you that I had an abundance…

I’ve also been thinking about my recipes and how I would like to try to give you some various alternatives, where ever and whenever it is possible.

We talk about Intuitive Eating, but what about intuitive cooking?

Not all dishes lend themselves to mix and matching, or making substitutes. If you are baking, it is probably best to follow the recipe closely if you are looking for a predictable outcome. Though if you have a strong desire to experiment and not feeling to concerned about the outcome, go for it and do try all kinds of weird and wonderful ingredients and combinations.

Just be clear that you may not end up with something edible… But sometimes it’s more about the process than the outcome right?

straightforward nutrition

When it comes to salads you are pretty safe experimenting away. Not too much can go haywire if you are using fresh, good quality ingredients to start with.

If you want to make a salad a decent meal, you have to (well you don’t have to, but I strongly recommend) that you follow the same plate concept as is recommended for balanced meals in general, if you want to make a salad that is a meal in itself and not just a simple side dish, that is.

The key, the secrete, whatever you want to call it, is to combine fat, protein with carbohydrates (which here will be mostly veg). If you leave out the fat and the protein from your salad and have just vegetables on their own, most likely you will end up not feeling full for very long, even though you may eat an actual large volume of food.

Each macro nutrient is digested differently, hence why this is.

From a mindful eating point of view, use your salad (or any meal for that matter) to explore how different foods effect your satiety and fullness. How long before you notice the need to eat again? There’s no right or wrong here, but it can be pretty useful information.

Anyway, let’s get to the recipe.

For potential substitutes for this particular salad:

Try different root veg like celeriac or maybe shredded purple cabbage.

Cannellini beans can be swapped for chickpeas or butter beans.

The walnuts can be swapped for toasted sunflower seeds or pecan nuts.

 

Kale Salad with Garlic-Tahini Dressing

Serves 4

6 large leaves of kale (any type of kale is fine), stems removed & finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely grated

¼ cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ cup cooked cannellini beans – swap for chickpeas or other beans if you wish

a handful of fresh walnuts, roughly chopped

Tahini dressing

3 tbsp tahini

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of ½ lemon

2-3 tbsp cold water to thin the dressing

Sea salt & Black pepper, to season

 

Start by making the dressing by placing the tahini, minced garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. With a fork mix them all together until you have a thick paste. Then add a tbsp. of water one by one until you have your desired consistency. You want to end up with a creamy dressing so don’t go too heavy handed with the water. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Place the chopped kale in a large salad bowl, add the dressing and with your hands gently massage it in so that the leaves wilt / soften a little..

Add the shredded carrots, the sundried tomatoes and the beans. Toss together until everything is evenly coated with the dressing

Add the chopped walnuts for some extra crunch.

Serve as is, or with your choice of meat / fish / egg if that takes your fancy.

mindful cooking

Looking for more kale salad ideas? Well I have a few oldies from the archives!

Kale Salad with orange-tahini dressing

Black quinoa & Kale salad with apples & toasted hazelnuts

Cavolo Nero Salad with a Mexican twist

And there are some kale in this green soup too…

Rainbow Slaw with Mustard Dressing

Rainbow Slaw with Mustard Dressing

This week I will be sharing a salad recipe that kind of feels like a seasonal transition from Winter to Spring / Summer.

It is a salad recipe, and it is a raw food dish. But, it made from what I would consider Winter vegetables. Root veg and purple (red) cabbage is more the types of veg that appears in my pantry and fridge during the colder months.

Though since they are still around, I thought I would share this recipe that I also shared as my guest contribution over on The Honest Project awhile back.

And in the name of honesty, I will admit that I am also low on some freshly styled recipes. Not short of ideas though so hopefully next week I will have some time to get back playing in the kitchen!

I can’t wait, especially since I recently purchased an extension arm for my tripod so that I can start creating some recipe videos and flatlays. It may save me from standing on the counter top all the time…

The past month have been pretty intense with finishing up a new video series on Food, Mood & Mindful Eating that I am hoping to share with you all really soon + both doing some personal inner work participating in Whole Detox (Come join us for the October one!)

As well as finishing up my latest professional development training in Mindful Eating. And that one has been really enriching too taking my previous skills to a new level. I am so looking forward to integrate it all in the coming weeks and months and to share it with you all!

But now, let’s have fun with this colourful recipe 🙂

This recipe is my spin on variations that I’ve seen around over the years. I feel like this recipe reflects my cooking style (and maybe even my personality to a certain degree), as it is colourful, straightforward and rooted. Like a rainbow.

straightforward nutrition recipes

This slaw is a great Winter salad, (or for this time of year also called the “hungry gap”) when getting fresh green leaves can be challenging, simply because they are not in season.

Rainbow Slaw with Mustard Dressing

Serves 2

¼ head of celeriac, peeled and finely shredded ¼ head of red cabbage, finely shredded (I tend to use a mandolin for this)
2-3 medium sized carrots, peeled and finely shredded (if you can get carrots of different colours even better!)
A handful of pomegranate seeds
For the dressing:
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tsp clear honey, local if possible
Sea salt & black pepper to season

 

Start by washing, peeling and shredding all your vegetables. Then set aside.
In a large bowl, this could be the serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk until smooth.

Taste and adjust to your preference. A little bit more sweetness? Need more lemon? Use your own tastebuds to guide you.

Add the shredded vegetable to the bowl with the dressing. Gently toss until the dressing and vegetables are intermingling nicely.

Add the pomegranate seeds before serving. The salad will keep for a few days in the fridge, covered.

colourful winter salad

 

Wild Garlic Soup

Wild Garlic Soup

This past weekend myself and my friend Jen Ardis from Blue Heron Mindfulness held our third Nutrition & Mindfulness 1 day retreat, locally here in Fermoy. The theme for this one, was Self care and Self compassion. Both pretty important topics if you ask me!

I hadn’t come across the word or the work of Self compassion as pioneered by researcher Kristin Neff, until a meditation teacher told me about her a few years ago. I immediately could see the value of incorporating it into our lives. The subtitle of her book is “the proven power of being kind to ourselves”. Such is the importance of this practice.

There is so much talk these days about both self esteem, as well as self love. However, neither of those virtues are easy to develop nor will they necessarily be there for us when we need to be there for ourselves.

The definition of self compassion is: ” To treat ourselves with kindness, like we would a dear friend”. So even if we are struggling with loving ourselves, we can always be kind to ourselves. Though this may sound counter intuitive, there are actually no research that being hard on ourselves works when we want to bring about change. So next time you catch yourself being overly critical, try to turn on the kindness tap instead. You may just be pleasantly surprised!

Straightforward nutrition

But it wasn’t the importance of self compassion that I wanted to write about for this blog post.

For each of these retreats we have also incorporated food, eating and recipes. This is the nutrition part(!) This time we wanted to go with something seasonal. The weather is still lending itself to soup and it so happened that Jen had some lovely wild garlic growing in her garden. And since I’d love to include a few more foraging type recipes here on the blog this year, we decided to go for a wild garlic soup this time. It seemed fittingly with the theme of the day as well as being seasonal, and a little bit different!

I didn’t want you to miss out on this delicious seasonal and cleansing soup, so here is the recipe!

 

Wild Garlic Soup

Serves 4

250g wild garlic – foraged & roughly chopped

300g potatoes (about 2 average size), peeled & cubed

1 yellow onion, peeled & finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1.5 liter of stock or water + 1 stock cube

Sea salt & Black Pepper, to season

 

Heat a large saucepan. Add a tbsp. of olive oil, then add onion and celery and sauté until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the cubed potatoes and then add the stock.

Bring to the boil and then reduce to a lively simmer. Cook for about 30 min, until the potatoes are soft. Add in the chopped wild garlic and let it wilt down. Blend the soup until it is smooth.

Re heat if necessary. Taste and season according to taste. Serve!

wild garlic soup

Wild garlic is also called Ramson or Ramps. They grow wild in large clusters in wet woodlands. To make sure that you have the right leaves, give them a gentle squeeze to make sure they smell of light garlic. They also have small white flowers that can smell quiet strongly. The flowers are also edible. It has some anti viral and cleansing properties so perfect to help us transition from winter to spring and hopefully to the warm days of summer soon.

I’m hoping to add some more of these types of recipes this year. Nettles next…?!

 

Tomato Salad with Parsley, Feta & Pistachio – Guest Post by Joanna Bourke

Tomato Salad with Parsley, Feta & Pistachio – Guest Post by Joanna Bourke

This week I have the honour and pleasure of sharing a simple and delicious summer salad, created by Joanna Bourke, from The Chopping Board with us all.

I got to know Joanna through Instagram a few years back and really resonated with her no nonsense approach to food, as well as how we should eat and enjoy it. I particularly liked this blog post about the ebb and flow of life, and how letting our eating follow a similar rhythm is really nourishing.

I hope you will enjoy our conversation and learning a little bit more about Joanna and the great work she does!

I shared this purple smoothie over on Joanna’s blog.

Guest Post by Joanna Burke

Can you tell us something about yourself and your work?

My family have always enjoyed food and I’ve been cooking since I was young. My Dad had a fast-food business in Dublin and I worked there through my teens and college years.  In 2014 I was working in Finance in San Francisco and started a blog of family recipes that I had in a notebook. In those days, my blog was called Some Like It Hot, after our takeaway! I loved sharing recipes and getting into food photography, and it was a great connection to home. Shortly after, I left my job in Finance and came home to Ireland to do the cookery course at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Since then I’ve been doing event and retreat catering in Ireland and abroad.

 

I’m curious about your journey to become an entrepreneur and a chef? Can you please tell us how you came to do the work you do now?

After cookery school, I took a career break and tried lots of different things to get a range of experience in the food industry, I worked with caterers and took on my own catering gigs , I got work experience in kitchens and did a month of private cooking in France. Getting blisters on my hand after a morning chopping veggies in a busy kitchen was a sign I wasn’t cut out to be a restaurant chef!

In the last year I’ve been cooking at yoga and women’s business retreats in Wicklow, Cotswolds, Provence and Normandy. I’ve been lucky to travel to new places, meet interesting people and cook in some beautiful kitchens. At retreats, people often gravitate to the kitchen for a glass of wine and a chat about what’s for dinner. It’s the heart of a house, and my favourite place to be. And of course, I love it when people really enjoy my cooking. I’m still blogging, but the blog is now called The Chopping Board – good things start at the chopping board!

 

How would you describe your food philosophy?

I wouldn’t call it a philosophy so much as an absolute enjoyment of everything food-related – I love cooking and eating out, looking at food on Instagram, and I’m usually thinking about my next meal.

At Ballymaloe we were completely spoiled with fresh vegetables and herbs picked from their farm every morning, the best organic and local meat produce, and fish caught locally in Ballycotton. Back in the real world, it’s a little harder (and expensive) to access this kind of produce. Farmer’s markets are great to get a sense of what’s in season and get the fresh vegetables growing in your area. Regardless of where you buy your food, a little bit of love and care in cooking can bring anything to life.  Great basics for cooking – butter, olive oil, sea salt, spices and fresh herbs can really bring out flavour.

Generally I think a little of what you fancy does you good. I usually cook pretty good meals for myself, but when I don’t feel like it my favourite takeaway is a Base pizza with a Peroni.

 

Which 5 ingredients will one find in your pantry? 

Oats to make granola and smoothies, honey also for granola and salad dressings,  Heinz tomato ketchup, Bachelor baked beans. The spices I use the most would be cumin and paprika.

 

Do you have an all time favorite recipe you keep coming back to?

This last winter I was doing a lot of one-tray roasts where I would add whatever I had to a roasting tin, and add some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Potatoes, onions or leeks, chorizo, carrots and peas all work really well together. Roast a a high heat for about 40 minutes, or until vegetables are golden and crisp.

 

Tell us something about the recipe you are sharing today! Why this particular recipe?

This pesto came about when I forgot to bring basil pesto to an event I was cooking at. I didn’t have any basil and parmesan with me, but I did have parsley and feta, hey ho.  I then added pistachios for some crunch. I’ve added it to tomatoes here for a summer salad but it also works great with pasta.

straightforward nutrition

 

Tomato Salad with Feta & Parsley

Serves 2

4 tomatoes, diced

30g flat leaf parsley (1 bag)

100g feta

70g pistachios

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of half lemon

To make the pesto, add the parsley, feta, olive oil, lemon juice, pistachios to a blender and blend until smooth.

 Taste, and add salt and pepper, although the feta will bring it’s own saltiness.  

Mix with tomatoes and serve on it’s own, or with pasta or scrambled eggs.

 

Joanna Bourke is a Ballymaloe-trained cook, cooking wholesome, nourishing food at events and retreats in Ireland and abroad.  www.thechoppingboard.ie

A Medley of Roasted Root Veg

A Medley of Roasted Root Veg

This week’s recipe is actually part of what we enjoyed at our Christmas gathering when I was back home in Sweden with my family. So I let the sweet and swift memories of the end of 2016 take us in to 2017…

Last year this was my first blog post of the year. Let’s see if I can keep up my devotion to consistency a little bit better this year.

My mother is one, of several people, who’s been a great influence on my interest in nutrition. And with her I suppose it been one right from the beginning, since she became a health conscious vegetarian back in the 70s, long before I was even born…

It’s not all that often that I have the pleasure of hanging out with my mum, but when we do I really appreciate doing so just enjoying everyday stuff. Like grocery shopping, and cooking.

We are quite similar in the way we eat, and both enjoy shopping and make an impromptu plan depending on what we find.

When we decided on this dish, it was out of a desire to keep it simple, colourful and varied. Plus we wanted a couple of side dishes that were vegetables to balance out the usual meat heavy offerings that is typical of a Swedish Christmas dinner!

celeriac

Root veg are readily available most of the year these days, but they do belong more to autumn / winter seasons since they are ready to eat in the autumn and then store really well for the winter months.  I don’t know about you, but for me it feels so comforting and grounding to be eating starchy cooked root vegetables this time of the year when its dark and cold. It’s like our bodies naturally knows that we need more density this time of the year to keep us warm.

I can guarantee that you won’t see me chomping down a raw salad this time of year, unless its served as a side dish to something cooked… I do have the occasional smoothies this time of year, but only if I craves something super fresh, it’s above 10˚C, its served at room temperature AND with a cup of herbal tea on the side…!

 

winter food root veg

 

I’ve included a good few different kinds of root vegetables here. You can choose some of them only, and then you may need a few more, or if you live somewhere where some of these are less available but have other tubers, then go with that!

 

Medley of Roasted Root Vegetables

 

Serves 4

1 sweet potato, washed & cubed (keep peel on)

2 carrots, washed, peeled & chopped

½ celeriac root, peeled & chopped

1 large or 2 small parsnips, peeled & chopped

2 medium sized beetroot, peeled & chopped

1 red onion, peeled & sliced

Garlic cloves from one head of garlic

A few sprigs of rosemary & thyme, use 1 tsp dried herbs if you don’t have fresh ones

A few tblsp olive oil

Sea salt & Black pepper to season

 

Pre heat the oven to 180˚C. Peel all the veg except for the sweet potato. Then chop them into cubes. The trick is to try to keep them roughly the same size to ensure even cooking time.

Peel the onion, cut in half and then slice lengthways so that you have half moon-type slices.

Add all the vegetables, red onion slices and cloves of garlic (with skin on) to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add the fresh herbs and season with sea salt and black pepper. Then use your hands, or a spatula to toss the veg so that they are evenly coated in oil and season.

Bake in oven for about 45 min or until slightly crisp around edges and soft in the middle.

Serve as a side to your choice of meat or pulses. I often enjoy roast veg with some baked fish or as here served with some cooked beluga lentils, some toasted hazelnuts and some Danish blue cheese.

 

A big thanks to my dear friend Jen who came over to enjoy this for lunch and got the job of hand modelling also!

P.S Don’t forget to remove the skin from the garlic cloves before eating…

roasted root vegetables