It is hard to remember that it was just a mere four months ago that we had a foot of snow here, when we are currently enjoying days upon days of sunny weather and temperatures in the mid 20°Cs. To me, who quiet like the heat, this current spell feels like true soul nourishment. A way to fill up my cup after a long wet, cold Winter and Spring.
The weather and the seasons are such a great metaphor as well as reminder of the cyclical nature of life. That even in the darkest hour, we can trust that the light will eventually return.
Over the years the rhythm of my food choices has become fairly cyclical too. Warmer foods in colder weather and colder foods in warmer weather. Can you relate?
I think it’s something that has evolved over time for me, the more I’ve allowed myself to let my intuition guide my food choices, the more seasonal my food choices have become.
We can spend years of our lives fighting cravings and hunger signals, simply trying to ignore our bodies. We forget to listen. We don’t dare to trust. It can be a long arduous journey home.
This summer I am taking 12 weeks, diving deeper into understanding the many mechanisms that underlie our relationship with food, eating and our bodies. It seems to be a subject that is vast and complex, yet it could (should) be one of the simplest things in our lives. Feeding ourselves.
As much as I love creating new recipes, reading recipe books and photographing food, I equally enjoy working with clients and counselling people back to peace and freedom around food and eating. This kind of work is not linear, and more of a process than setting a goal to go after. It is intentional however. The intention being healing, freedom and peace.
I will continue to unpack my learnings, observations and insights in other blog post. Now let’s get back to the recipe!
This Green Goddess Salad, is one of those recipes that may look intimidating to some, with lots of ingredients. Though truly, it isn’t at all. I don’t tend to do anything too complicated anyway…
I prefer my salads this time of year to be mostly raw, crunchy, to contain something salty (ought to replace those lost electrolytes!) and ideally assembled in minutes.
We know from the science that eating a variety of foods, as well as plenty of colourful foods are beneficial to our health. So with that in mind I sometimes play a game of trying to see how many different types of food of the same colour I can fit in one dish. This Green Goddess Salad is one of those experiments.
Green Goddess Salad
1 medium size courgette
5 spears of fresh asparagus
1/2 cup of frozen peas, thawed or freshly podded ones if you can get some!
A handful of fresh mint leaves, torn
A handful of unsalted pistachios, shells removed and roughly chopped
50 g of feta cheese, crumbled (crumbly goats cheese will work too)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
Some black pepper, to season (I add some to all my meals)
Rinse and dry the courgette and the asparagus, then take out your vegetable peeler. To make thin ribbons simply shave the courgette and then do the same with the asparagus spears. When you get to the more watery core of the courgette, you can leave this out.
Defrost the peas by placing them in a bowl and then covering them with some boiling water from the kettle for a minute or so. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Place the courgette and asparagus ribbons together on a plate, or in a bowl. Add the peas, the torn fresh mint leaves and the chopped pistachios. Crumble some feta over and then finish up with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and a little bit of ground black pepper (if you wish!)
Serve as is for a lighter summer meal, or as a side dish to a BBQ. Best eaten on the day it is made.
I have this things for grocery shopping… And trying out new foods… And sometimes this “thing” turns out to be a rather indulgent AND expensive hobby.
I’m still not sure where this love of exploration comes from, though I keep blaming the year I spent living in the Australian bush, where much, the only escape route off the farm was the weekly trip to the supermarket. But that’s now over a decade I go, so it may not really cut it as a valid excuse anymore.
This is definitely where the love affair really took hold though and I’ve carried on with it ever since.
Maybe it is part of a food scarcity things, from that time too? Though at that time I wasn’t restricting what I was buying as I had very few other expenses than buying foods. My accommodation was included in my weekly pay and I didn’t own a car either (and boy does that save you money!). But the downside of not having a car was that I was always depending on others to take me to the shop, which was a good 45 min drive away.
These days things are a little different and, though I live in a rural part of the country I have a car, I am 10 min drive from a town with some very decent food shops, and I am about 30 min from the second largest city in Ireland. No risk of starving or going without. Yet I still get excited about grocery shopping!
The recipe I am sharing here is an inspiration from one of those explorative grocery shopping trips I did last year when I was over in Stockholm, visiting my friend Louise and going to a few different nutrition / foodie events.
When I was in this small delicatessen I saw this beautifully wrapped chocolate that also contained tahini. Got totally sucked in and just had to buy it! Truth be told, it was worth it for the beautiful packaging alone. Clever marketing there, that’s for sure.
Ever since then I have been thinking of trying to re-create something similar at home.
This is it!
I used this recipe as a base, and more or less swapped the peanut butter for tahini instead. If you are not a tahini fan like me, I think using hazelnut butter would make an amazing chocolate. It’s not one I have tried yet myself, but my imagination have no problem conjuring up what that kind of taste explosion that combination will provide. I mean who doesn’t like chocolate with hazelnuts???
Homemade chocolate is surprisingly easy to make, once you’ve invested in the ingredients. And since this type of eating have become a lot more common in the past few years, finding raw cacao and raw cacao butter isn’t impossible.
No, they are not the cheapest ingredients, but you will get a lot more cacao for your bucks than the typical “chocolate” you find sold everywhere.
In writing this post I am also realising that it is a privilege to be able to both have time, money and the opportunity to find these ingredients easy enough. And for that I am grateful.
Raw Chocolate with Tahini
Makes 12 large hearts
50g cacao butter
1 heaped tbsp tahini
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness (less works well in for this recipe)
½ tsp ground cinnamon – optional but delicious
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted add the tahini and stir well. Then add in the maple syrup, the raw cacao powder and the cinnamon, if using.
Stir for a minute or two until you have a really smooth cacao mix. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you still think it is too bitter.
Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it into a silicon ice-cube tray. Transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours your chocolate will have set and you can pop it out of the ice-cube tray.
** If you don’t have an ice cube tray / chocolate moulds, you can pour it on to a small lined tray instead. **
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Your raw chocolate will keep for a few days in the fridge. Probably longer in the freezer.
If you do make these please let me know what you think, and if you’ve ended up making new creations and taste combinations from this basic recipe!
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.
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
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.
In keeping with the yellow theme from last month’s blog post on the FIRE Aspect, I give you another yellow combination. And yes, it’s still a liquid one(!) *Note to self, make the next recipe something that you’ll chew*
But as I’m getting myself geared up for Whole Detox™ in about 10 days I’m enjoying a few smoothies here and there. Though I’m not really one for cold food in cold weather, (and boy is the warm winter we had turning cold and struggling to move out of the way) it can be hard to look past the convenience of smoothies when it comes to simple ways to increase the amount of fresh produce you eat. Eating enough can be such a challenge at times, and who would have thought, since the message that’s mostly thrown around it the one “eat less, move more”.
I’ve even had people on some of my programmes freaking out because of the volume of food on their plate. The beauty is though that when we increase the amount of colourful plant based foods we eat, we get to eat MORE, not less.
I remember doing this simple math’s exercise with a group I had on a weightloss programme a few years ago. Though, as you know I’m not a huge fan of counting calories but for this simple visual experiment they do serve a purpose.
So visualise this; One 500 ml bottle of soft drink (minerals / soda / fizzy drink – pick your name) contains roughly 500 kcal. Without having a label in front of me it will give you a fair amount of sugar, probably 10-14 teaspoons (remember this is a completely man-made product so any carbohydrate content will be pure sugar and count as your “added sugar intake”). There will also be some colourings and additives, more or less depending on the type and brand you choose.
Now let’s take those same 500 kcal and see how that translate into vegetables. So (from memory) 500 kcal worth of vegetable is about two full shopping bags worth! Lots of vital nutrients, fibre and volume. I would honestly think you’d struggle to chomp it all down in the course of a day.
That’s why the very handy, yet simple strategy of filling half your plate with vegetables is such a powerful way to reduce the total amount of calories yet maximise the amount of quality nutrition you get. There’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetable a day for any diet to be disease preventable. 5-a-day is actually a minimum. And I see people who are only getting 2-3 at times.
How many portions are you eating daily?
I even know for myself when we did food diaries as project back in college, that upping it to 7-10 actually takes a conscious effort. Perhaps that’s one reason I’m so drawn to smoothies?
Anyway, another thing that I realised the other day is this; What if we look at the food we eat in a symbolic way? The majority of us want to have more energy so we can do more (and even BE more) and if we have a constant feeling of lack luster and even low mood holds this may hold us back from doing all that we want. It’s seriously frustrating. I can still remember what it felt like some years ago when my energy levels where down on 3-4, out of 10. A lot of the time I just functioned and got through the day, doing what had to be done. I was constantly tired.
So what if we focus on eating more foods that are vibrant and alive? What about adding more colour to the plate? My whole food philosophy is about feasting your eyes as much as feeding your body. In case you hadn’t noticed…
So without a degree in nutrition and if you want to keep it simple, yet knowing that you are getting lots of essential nutrients to fuel your body and mind, think colour! Think rainbow and aim to eat a rainbow of colours every day.
So with colour in mind, here is a yellow zingy smoothie that is sure to put some zest and brightness into your day.
If you are feeling brave and have a strong blender, like a Nutribullet, then go ahead and blend the whole lemon! It sure makes for some serious digestive power! Otherwise just use the juice.
And since the sun is still shining with it’s absence I am trying to brighten my days in other ways. This is one such way. Enjoy 🙂
Zingy Smoothie for Grey Spring Days
1 cup fresh pineapple – peeled, cored and diced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
Juice of one whole lemon – or peel (if you have an organic one you can blend the whole one) and use the whole fruit!
1 small fresh root of turmeric or 1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tbsp of hulled hempseeds
1 tbsp of pea, rice or hemp protein (I like the Pulsin brand)
200-250ml plant milk of choice
Place all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.
***Note, personally I don’t like really cold drinks (unless the weather is really hot) but if you want a colder drink feel free to add some ice too***
Can you have sweet treats that are actually beneficial to your health and body? I, for one, would like to think so.
It can be so confusing knowing what to eat these days… However if you stick to the “wholefood principle” you can’t go too far wrong. The overall message coming through from research done in the field of nutrition and health still seem to echo that food which are close to nature IS the most beneficial kind of food for our health. This is also probably the one thing everybody in the field of nutrition and health agrees on, regardless of what food camp they belong to.
I really like simple when it comes to cooking. If you have beautiful fresh ingredients to hand, usually this is the best way to allow them to bask in their own glory. That said, I truly appreciate people who have the skills of Culinary Art, and the ability to create wonderful dishes full of complexity and flavour. If you’ve ever watched Master Chef (the Australian version is my favourite), then you know what I mean! Impressive attention to detail, dedication and passion. My life is often complicated and busy enough on most days though, to be able to cook like that. And if you are like most people, I’m guessing that yours might be too. So how about we just stick with simple for now?
I’ve had a couple of recipes using raw cacao here before. Like this one with peanut butter and coconut oil. It’s actually quiet easy to make your own. Here I’ve used some silicon molds that I bought a few months ago. I think using them, gives a slight creative edge… 😉 And they are certainly vital if you want to make chocolate with fillings!
From some trial and testing I’ve found maple syrup to my preferred type of sweetener for raw chocolate making. It seems to be the one which blends the easiest with the raw cacao butter and the cacao powder. It is a completely natural sweetener made from the sap of the maple tree. Yes it is a sugar, yes too much sugar isn’t all that great for our health and can contribute a whole host of chronic disease, but remember what I said earlier about “wholefoods” and “close to nature”? And I don’t know about where you live, but over here it is a fairly expensive product so I for one don’t tend to consume it in any larger quantities. Most over-consumption of sugar (usually in the form of High Fructose Syrup) comes from an over-consumption of processed food… Just saying.
Sesame seeds, used here in the form of Tahini has several health promoting benefits like being good for the skin due to its content of the antioxidant Vitamin E. Some studies has also shown sesame seeds to be strengthening to the heart and protective of the liver. It’s also worth nothing that sesame seeds are a high in calcium, which may alone be a good reason to include them in your diet, just to make sure you have a variety of calcium sources to keep “them bones” healthy.
Tahini can be a little bitter. To be honest, it’s taken me some time to become a fan, but I really like it now. I haven’t included any maple syrup here in the filling as I think the juice from the orange has enough sweetness and breaks through that bitterness. Taste it and if you want the filling a little sweeter then add a drop of maple syrup.
If you are still stuck for some Christmas present ideas and want to give a gift with a difference this year, then why not make a batch (or two) of these? Place them in a cute box wrapped with pretty paper – done!
Tahini – Orange Filled Raw Chocolates
Makes about 10 – depending on type of mold you use
90 g raw cacao butter
20 g raw cacao powder
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
finely grated zest of 1/2 organic orange
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted remove the saucepan from the heat but keep your bowl with the cacao butter on top. Add the cacao powder and mix with a spoon or small whisk until smooth. Then add in the maple syrup and stir again until it’s nice and smooth.
Carefully remove the bowl with the chocolate mixture. If possible, take care to not get steam into the mixture as this will cause the chocolate to split. Take out your mold and fill each section to just under half. Place the mold in the fridge to harden.
In the meantime mix tahini, orange juice and orange zest together in a small bowl or glass. Taste is and if you think it’s too bitter then feel free to add a little maple syrup to taste.
After about 30 min, when your chocolate in the fridge has hardened, take out the mold and carefully spoon a little tahini mix on to each of your chocolates. Then fill up the rest of each mold with more chocolate. Place back into the fridge and allow to set completely.
*Note to keep the chocolate mixture fluid for your second addition, simply place your bowl over the saucepan with the hot water from before. If it starts to set, reheat the water some more.
Once the chocolates are fully set, usually after 2-3h in the fridge, pop them out of the mold and store in a container.
The chocolates are best stored in the fridge and eaten within a week.
I almost forgot to mention that this post will also count as a celebration of this blog turning two! Well technically it is a month too late, but I never found time to write about it last month…