I’m going to start off with a little confession this week… I actually created this recipe and photographed it about three months ago. It’s been sitting all pretty and ready to be shared, but it hasn’t been until know, that the time has been right. You see, I’ve been on a journey over these past months. Not so much literally, (though I wish I had!). It’s more of a personal and professional development journey.
Sometimes life just seem to take you on a trip of change regardless of whether you want it or not, so when you actually have the chance to decide yourself that you are ready to explore, open up and expand, it just makes the experience all the sweeter! Every now and then you go places or meet people who become catalysts for change and steer your path in a slightly different direction, or perhaps bring you back to the road you where always meant to travel…
Back in April, I met one of those people, Dr Deanna Minich. When I heard Dr Minich speak at our AGM for Nutritional Therapists in Dublin in the middle of April this year, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, here is someone who has already integrated health and healing through food and eating into a tangible concept!” Something I’ve intuitively been looking for, but not being sure how to fit the jigsaw together.
One part of Nutritional Therapy that have always felt right to me, is the way we tend to treat the person as a whole. We are the sum of all the parts and they are interconnected. An imbalance in one system will have an effect on another one. Work with one system and you will see a ripple effect in another area. It is inevitable.
Those of you that know me, have worked with me already, or been following along here for awhile now, knows that I don’t advocate any particular type of diet (other than fresh wholesome unprocessed foods), that I believe that we need to get better at listening to our own bodies to find out what is truly best for us, and that I absolutely loath calorie counting!
To me eating should be free of guilt, blame and shame and a truly nourishing experience on every level. So you can imagine my excitement when I meet someone who had already integrated this way of thinking into one colourful concept! All I knew back in April was that this is where I need to go next! So following my heart and my gut off I went and enrolled in Dr Minich’s Food & Spirit Certified Practitioner Programme™. This is probably one of the best thing I’ve done since I decided to study Nutritional Therapy several years ago. (Take home message to all of us – if something feels really right in your heart, go with it. Don’t let any fears or worries stand in your way. Trust and go forth.)
So what is Food & Spirit™ exactly? What does it mean for my own practice and skills to have added this certified training to my tool kit?
Food & Spirit™ is an all encompassing self-healing modality, marrying physiology and psychology with food and eating through the 7 Aspects of Self. Still none the wiser? Ok, let me try again. Basically what Dr Minich has done, through years of clinical research, clinical practice and whilst simultaneously studying ancient healing traditions, is to recognise a pattern of how everything seems to be interconnected through these 7 aspects of self. These Aspects are connected to different areas in our body, both physically through various hormone glands and organs, but also symbolically through energy centres (chakras) recognised in ancient healing traditions. Finally each of these 7 Aspects are also connected to how we live, how we eat and how we connect with life itself.
Through using the lens of this concept we can look at imbalances within these areas of self, (which may manifest as disease, dis-ease, or simply not feeling our best), in a wider context. We can look at the area(s) / aspect(s) that are out of balance and use this as a starting point for how to apply changes to our lifestyle, how we eat and what we eat.
The 7 Aspects of Self are:
The Root – Who we are, our foundation, our genetic make up and our ability to survive in the physical world.
The Flow – How we feel, our ability to express our emotions, our creativity
The Fire – Our innate sense of ego, our place of transformation and personal empowerment
The Love – How we give and receive love from others, how we nourish our dreams and passions
The Truth – How we speak what’s on our minds and in our hearths, our vulnerability and authenticity
The Insight – Our innate wisdom, our knowledge gathered from experience and our inherent intuition
The Spirit – Our purpose and our connection with all of life.
Journeying through each different Aspect, looking at how we live, how we integrate with the environment, but most of all how we engage with the food on the plate becomes a beautiful journey of self-discover through food, eating and living. It can become a transformational journey from fullness to wholeness.
When we stop and think, not only about what we eat, but how we interact with the food on our plate, doors of self-realisation and self-awareness opens. Opportunities to change, and opportunities to simply choose a different approach or path presents itself.
I believe that when we make food choices from a place of love and care for ourselves, we will chose differently. Making healthier choices becomes the natural way forward and much of the overwhelm, confusion, guilt and shame evaporates. It’s simple really, however getting there may not be all that easy… Though the challenges are all part of the experience too!
The other part of Food & Spirit™ is marrying the actual colourful foods with each aspect, or as I’ve done here using one food from each colour of the rainbow to create a full spectrum dish with nourishing health promoting phytonutrients!
Cauliflower Pizza has become all the rage of lately and whether you are avoiding gluten or not, it makes a nice way to consume this health promoting vegetable. Lots of people don’t like cauliflower, mostly because it’s always served overcooked. I think is far too under-utilised. It is cheap and actually very versatile! On top of that being part of the cruciferous vegetable family (same as broccoli, bok choy, kale, Brussels sprouts) it is anti inflammatory, has cancer protective properties and supports heart health.
So feed your LOVE and all the other aspects of yourself with this colourful Rainbow Pizza!
1 medium size of cauliflower
a handful of rainbow chard or spinach
1/2 cup of gram flour (chickpea flour)
2 eggs, lightly whisked – free range organic if possible
some fresh herbs like sage / rosemary / oregano, chopped – optional
1 aubergine / eggplant, chopped into squares
1 red onion, peeled & thinly sliced
2 red or orange peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 tube of tomato paste
150 g feta cheese
a little olive oil for roasting the vegetables
sea salt & black pepper, to season
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chop the onion, pepper and aubergine. Place them on an oven proof tray, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the preheated oven and roast for about 20 min or until nice and soft.
In the meantime, break the head of cauliflower up into pieces and place in a food processor together with the chard / spinach. Blend until you have a consistency that resembles couscous.
Take the “cauli couscous” out of the food processor and place in a bowl. Add in the whisked egg and the gram flour and mix with your hands until you have a kind of sticky “dough”. Place the dough on a lined baking tray and gently form a pizza base with the use of your hands. Once you are happy with your base, place it in the oven and let it cook for 20 min, to set. Your roasted vegetables may be ready at this stage so take them out before cooking the base and let them rest for awhile.
Once you base is set, remove it from the oven. Evenly smear the tomato paste on to your base, then add the roasted veg and finally scatter some feta cheese over the lot. You can of course use any cheese you like or omit it altogether, if you wish. I just happen to love feta on my pizza.
Bake the pizza in the oven for a further 10-15 min or until the cheese is lightly golden, but not burnt.
Serve your Rainbow Pizza with some extra greens and a loving intention. Proceed to experience love from the inside out <3
The concept of Food & Spirit is deeply nourishing and transformative. It offers a way to look at all these different areas of ourselves and to become much more aware of how the food we eat makes us feel, but also how our way living affects our current health and what changes we may need to do in order to bring ourselves back into balance so we can live life in full colour!
Food and eating has served me personally, as a path to personal growth. It has become a way of being more creative and open up new avenues and places of explorations. When we go beyond the basics of nutrition (calories, macro nutrients, measuring, counting etc.) we can begin to craft a healthy relationship with food and our bodies and in a sense find our way back to who we truly are.
In my Online Programme; Happy Healthy Me, we are already working on transforming our relationship with food and bringing awareness to not only what we are eating but also Why and How.
If you want to know more about this approach to breaking free from dieting madness and instead begin the journey to food freedom, body peace and a way to nourish yourself in ways that feel good to YOU,then this programme is for you!
Photos of me by Magda Lukas.
I know, I know it might not feel all that much like summer at the moment… It has been a temperamental one here this year, that’s for sure. But before the strawberry season is well and truly over, I thought I’d share this next salad recipe as part of my Summer Salad Series.
If you went ahead and bought some buckwheat to try out the raw buckwheat porridge, I’m giving you another opportunity to use them up here!
This recipe is an infusion of ideas from two of my favourite food bloggers and cookbook writers. I used the buckwheat tabbouleh recipe from Emma Galloway’s fab book and fused it with the idea of adding fresh strawberries from Sprouted Kitchen’s book which I bought some time ago.
If you pre-cook the buckwheat you can whip this salad up in no time. Of course if you are not a major fan of buckwheat you can substitute with another grain of choice. In traditional tabbouleh bulgur wheat is used. Bulgur is made cracked whole wheat and hence not gluten free.
Tabbouleh is such a great dish for increasing the intake of fresh herbs. The key to a good tabbouleh is to use plenty of fresh flavoursome herbs. Ideally you want to keep the ratio of herbs to grain 1:1. So basically you end up with a very green, herb-y salad.
Fresh herbs like coriander, parsley and mint offers an excellent way to naturally support digestion and elimination as they offer a good source of natural enzymes and are also very cleansing to the body.
If you don’t have strawberries to hand, you can simply leave them out. Or why not try replacing them with another type of berry? Perhaps red currants for a tangy experience or maybe blueberries to add another colour dimension!
I’ve used pomegranate molasses here, as to be true to Emma’s original dressing but you can swap it for maple syrup if you wish. It will make you dressing a little sweeter though.
Recipe inspired by My Darling Lemon Thyme & Sprouted Kitchen
Buckwheat Tabbouleh with Strawberries
1/2 cup raw hulled buckwheat groats
About 10 strawberries, washed, hulled & halved
A bunch of fresh coriander
A bunch of fresh parsley
A bunch of fresh mint – use less mint than the rest of the other herbs if you are using a particular strong variety
1/2 cucumber, washed & diced
10 yellow or red cherry tomatoes
3 spring onions, finely chopped
For the dressing:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses ( or sub for maple syrup)
Sea salt & Black pepper, to season
Handful of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
Start by cooking the buckwheat groats. Bring 250 ml water with a pinch of salt to the boil. When the water is boiling add your rinsed buckwheat groats. Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 min until all the water is absorbed and the grains are cooked through. Set aside to cool completely.
Tip- The buckwheat groat will appear a little transparent once cooked through. They should still hold their shape though.
Finely chop the herbs and set aside.
Make the dressing by mixing all olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses in a small bowl. Taste and season accordingly.
Once the buckwheat is completely cold, mix in the dressing and then add the rest of the ingredients. Gently give the whole salad a toss. Scatter the chopped pecan nuts over and serve.
You can serve the salad as it is on it’s own or as a side to a summery garden party. (If the weather permits!)
Time to get back to winter greens. No need to skimp on the raw stuff just because the weather has gotten a little cooler eh? This recipe is one I made for Chelsea – Aka The Naked Fig, back in the Spring as part of our guest blogging swap. As it turned out to be a big hit with her readers, I have decided to feature it here too. It feels like the perfect fit now when all the ingredients are back in season again.
There’s another couple of reasons as why I have decided to post this recipe now. One, as mentioned above – It’s seasonal. Two – I’m currently juggling lots of things (what’s new??) and a little stuck for time to shoot a new recipe… Three – This was one of the featured recipes for the cooking demos I did last weekend. The theme was local, seasonal and autumn /winter (Ok, so Quinoa isn’t exactly local… ). It looked like people enjoyed it! So I hope you will too. And if you were actually at one of the demos, then here’s the recipe.
Personally I love these kinds of salads as the are more of “assembling a meal” so saves on time spent cooking. If you have the quinoa already cooked you are saving even more time. This salad is almost nicer the day after. Perfect for a left-over lunch option. Win-win.
Kale is the perfect winter green and I am delighted it is back in season again. They grow happily this time of the year. Over the past couple of years my cooking has evolved and become more and more adapted to the seasons. Perhaps it has become a little more adventurous too, yet at the same time the way I cook now is a lot cleaner and simpler.
You see, as your start introducing more vegetables and fresh food into your diet, your taste buds gradually change. As you start eating with more awareness and purpose, you’ll find yourself discover new tastes and flavours, and after awhile you will probably find that not just any old vegetable will do. They have to be fresh, colourful & vibrant too.
As we slowly transition from autumn into winter. From raw food to cooked food. From salads to soups and stews. It is nice to still keep some raw foods on the weekly menu. Raw food are food which has not been heated over 46 C. Some nutrients can easily be destroyed by cooking and beneficial enzymes are still retained when we eat foods in its natural state. Some people thrive well on a fully raw diet. Personally I find it hard to eat too much raw, cold food when the weather is cold but including a salad like this as a side to say a piece of pan fried fish or indeed adding the quinoa when still warm does the trick.
Apples are at peak season so you should easily be able to get some locally grown. Adding apples to a salad adds a sweet crunch and they work well with the pomegranates and hazelnuts. To me this is how you construct a “Super Salad”. Some greens, some cooked grains, some raw fruit or other veggies and some healthy fats to balance both flavours and blood sugar. You’ll get the fats here from both the olive oil in the dressing and from the nuts. Protein comes in form of the quinoa as well as the hazelnuts so by the time you have assembled the whole thing you will have a light, yet filling meal to satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters a like. I hope you will like it as much as the people who tried it at last weekend’s cooking demos did 🙂
Black Quinoa Salad with Kale, Apple, Hazelnuts & Pomegranate
Serves 2 hungry people
4 cups curly kale, washed, stems removed & finely chopped
1 cup black quinoa, rinsed – If you can’t find black quinoa, red or white will work fine too.
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
2 small apples, finely sliced – preferably organic. Use a crunchy sort which will give the bet texture and flavour.
½ cup raw hazelnuts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of sea salt, to season
Heat your oven to 200°C. To toast the hazelnuts, place them on a baking tray. Then toast in the oven for about 10 min. Keep an eye on them, they burn easily. Once you see the skin beginning to crack, remove from the oven. Allow to cool a little before giving them a gentle rub to remove the skins. Chop roughly and set aside.
To cook the quinoa; rinse it well to remove the bitter outer coating. Place it in a saucepan with the cold water and a tight fitting lid. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to very low and cook covered for 12 minutes, until the grain is tender. Turn off the heat, but leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool down
In a salad bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. I love using Himalayan Pink Salt as it has great taste. Whisk until combined then add in your chopped kale. Massage the dressing in to the kale gently with your hands. Add in the cooked quinoa and pomegranate seeds. Mix until well combined. Add the sliced apples and hazelnuts, just before serving. Give the whole thing a gentle toss. Tuck in! It will taste even better the following day.
Photos of me cooking at Burren Food Fayre in Lisdoonvarna kindly taken by Finghin Kiernan.
Kale is one of those super foods. Not as fancy as inca berries or maca or something else that we may get from the South American continent. The mighty kale may actually just travel as far as from your back garden to your plate. It is a perfect vegetable for winter salads a its peak season is from November until March. I have to admit that I had never really had kale until about this time last year… My local vegetable grower, from whom we get a weekly box of goodies, had some so I thought, well I it’s about time I try this famous leafy green.
To be honest, I can’t actually remember what I did with it… But what I do remember is the beautiful creation me and my mum came up with for Christmas. My mum wanted some green additions to the otherwise meaty Christmas table and even though I had already done some research for suggestions, when I spotted some lovely kale in the supermarket we got it. I also picked up a pomegranate. Together with a few pantry staples and a crispy winter apple we ended up with such a fresh, raw, colourful, yet green salad. Perfect accompaniment to the Christmas ham. It was just great to have something raw as balance to all the cooked (mostly meat) dishes.
Kale, in this case curly kale, can be used in a variety of dishes. It has a subtle flavour and is a nice leafy green to use in smoothies. It can be cooked, steamed or sautéed. For me it is the perfect green to use in salads during the winter months, when other raw leaves are not readily available.
Kale is considered a super foods due to its high nutritional content. Kale is part of the Brassica family, the same as brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. The members of the Brassica family are all high in the cancer protective phytochemical indol-3-carbinol. Kale is also a rich source of Vitamin A, K and C. It is rich in calcium and iron making it a good vegetable to eat for anyone suffering with osteoporosis. And the best thing of all, you don’t have to get it flown across the world to get access to its super powers. Chances are you can easily grow it in your own garden patch.
The picture above is from the beautiful glass houses in Ballymaloe Cookery School. I believe Darina Allen is a big fan. I was visiting the school with two of my friends, Caroline and Mary, on a beautiful autumn Sunday back in September. It was still so warm and summery and winter yet so far away. But now winter is finally here and the “C-word” is being talked about everywhere. Actually, I just caved in the other day and bought most of my Christmas presents. Organised. Well at least in this area…
I was invited over to Caroline and Mary’s house for Sunday dinner the other week, quiet a regular occurrence. This is the salad I brought with me. It is light and fresh and full of flavour. I think the orange-tahini dressing adds to the wintry feel of this dish. This is the perfect way to eat your greens even during the winter months, so tuck in!
Kale Salad With Orange – Tahini Dressing
Four large leaves of curly kale
A handful of purple grapes
1/2 pomegranate – de-seeded
For the dressing:
2 tbsp of olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 orange
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp tahini – sesame paste
A pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper – to season
Toasted seeds – as topping for extra crunch
Wash the kale thoroughly to remove any dirt on the leaves. Cut off the thick stems. Finely chop the kale once you have removed the stems. Cut it fairly fine to make it more digestible.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Taste and season accordingly with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the chopped kale and mix it in well with your hands. The dressing will, as well as add flavour make the raw kale easier to digest and less chewy. Wash and halve the grapes. De-seed the pomegranate. The easiest way to do this it to halve it and then quarter it. Then proceed to peel the seeds out. If it is a particularly juicy one you can do it in a large bowl of water to prevent any splatter and little pink dots all over your favourite jumper… Add the grapes and pomegranate seeds to the dressed kale.
You can add some toasted seeds as topping for some extra crunch, just before serving. This salad will work well with white fish, as a side to a vegetarian meal with whole grains or as I did with a boiled egg and some smoked organic salmon, for a quick, easy lunch.
Your salad will stay fresh for up to three days if kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
Breakfast. I just love breakfast. I would probably have a “breakfast style” meal anytime of the day. I mean, what’s wrong with oatmeal as a light evening meal?! I am one of those people who always looks forward to a huge breakfast buffet when staying overnight in a fancy hotel. And no I don’t have a problem with eating lots of food first thing in the morning…
Some research has shown that it is a good thing to eat within an hour of getting up as our blood sugar is naturally low after the long overnight fast. But for the first meal of the day to be beneficial to our health and metabolism, it is very important, WHAT foods we choose to start our day with. Most breakfast cereals that come in a plastic bag, stored in paper box, is often made from heavily processed grain, stripped from any beneficial nutrients. Sometimes sugar and salt is added to improve flavour too. Having a breakfast made from whole grains, will not just give you good quality carbohydrates and fibre. It will also give you a good amount of protein and important B-vitamins. I think we often forget that WHOLE grains contain a considerable amount of protein, because we are so use to thinking of refined grains as a source of refined carbohydrates only.
Porridge is probably the most popular breakfast in Ireland. But it is normally made from oats. This warming porridge is made from Millet flakes. Millet is a naturally gluten free grain and it has a slightly nutty flavour. The protein content in the grain is naturally high. About 12-15%. Using a different kind of grain makes a change from the usual oats. As I like a hot breakfast during the colder months, this will be my go-to breakfast for the next few months. To make it even more warming, I added some ground cinnamon and some ground cardamom to the flakes when cooking. Both spices are used traditionally for treating digestive upsets. Cinnamon has also shown to be effective to stabilise blood sugar. Top your porridge with some black berries and black currants, both high in Vitamin C and you have an immune boosting breakfast to protect you from any lurking winter-bugs 🙂
Spicy Millet Porridge
1/2 cup millet flakes
1 cup cold water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup mixed frozen black berries & black currants – substitute for any type of frozen berries you have at home
2 tbsp raw honey
shredded coconut, as topping – optional
Add millet flakes, water and spices to a heavy based pan. Slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer porridge until all liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally to prevent it from burning. In another pot, add berries and honey. Gently heat on while stirring until the berries are heated through and begins to soften and the honey is well melted. Serve the porridge in a bowl, topped with the warm berries, some coconut flakes and your choice of milk. Simple and nourishing.