Wednesday, 31 March 2010

honey flapjack and an assortment of smoked fish

i've eaten some random food the last few days: i haven't been meal planning and shopping accordingly, so instead i've bought things at random, mum's a compulsive shopper too so, without a plan, us shopping is a little bit chaotic!

never the less, i've enjoyed the things i've eaten! and there's been a lot of finishing up, as there's not particularly much left in the fridge...mostly because i'm headed off to Devon tomorrow to spend Easter with my wonderful, crazy family (hopefully lots of happy photos to come!). I am super duper excited, and even though the weather is due to be horrible, I am sure we will have some awesome times together :)

i've been baking lasagne today, which will get frozen tonight to take for the weekend alongside my fish pie (well actually it's Jamie's, but that's not the point) as well as dried dates and apricots to snack on. i hope we'll be going out for a couple of meals, and then just reading and relaxing the rest of the time. maybe i'll get to make some sort of very exciting YT video?! i've just uploaded my food philosophy video, which is a bit of an insight into my life - though i'm very much still learning and experimenting with food.

i've written a very important book review which will upload tomorrow, featuring one of my favorite cooks of the moment...i'm so excited about this one!

anyway, here's my most recent gastronomic delights:

random leftovers: carrot, celery, wholewheat tortilla chips, philadelphia, nanna's runner bean chutney, cashew nut butter - and a cup of hot lemon water

this was a little experiment - pear and banana fried in butter and la vialla's chestnut honey, the banana was absolutely divine, but the pear wasn't quite ripe enough for frying...

porridge with melted raw honey, goji berries and linseeds - one of the most beautiful oatmeal combinations ever

mushroom soup (which is never going to look attractive in a bowl is it?) with a few slices of Vogels and an assortment of smoked fish from Waitrose, of which the sweet mustard salmon is definitely the best, mmmm.

mixed waitrose salad bar - i think there's lentil and bean salad, grated beetroot and carrot salad with pumpkin seeds, tabbouleh, greek salad, and some waldorf salad - i love how all the flavours combine to make something truly delicious

i tried making honey flapjack from the book i'll be reviewing tomorrow... it was so delicious, even though i made the ultimate flapjack mistake and baked it without baking paper and in a tray that was too big, oopsie, next time i'll make sure to have baking paper nearby. but seriously the taste and texture of this was amazing, and it was made with honey rather than sugar!!

Have a fantastic day!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

the kind diet: book review

this book is really good. i know, i know, i say that about most of the books i review - but i won't buy the book if i think it's going to be rubbish will i?

alicia silverstone may not be a nutrionist or a chef, but the book is an amazing amalgamation of all of the research she's ever done into health, and she's done a LOT!

the kind diet is witty and intelligent, it has good hard facts and great stories from other vegans. so yes, the overriding chat in the book is about persuading you to become a vegan, and giving you the health benefits associated with it, as well as talking about the environmental reasons behind why you should eat less animal produce.

but the book goes a step further from other vegan books, in talking about lifestyle, stocking your kitchen, eating less processed food and sugar and answering a bunch of nutritional questions and concerns often associated with going vegan (like where do i get calcium for instance). she's also been influenced by the raw food movement and macrobiotics which gives her recipes and advice a certain advantage.

the recipes are pretty good, although not all of the ingredients are immediately available to me living in the UK and some are a bit too out-there for me (collard greens for breakfast, serious?). but if you're looking to incorporate more beans and pulses into your diet, then she's right on the mark, as the recipes looks interesting and flavourful, and different.

i can't wait to try out the chocolate peanut butter cups, oozy guacamole bean dip, peach crumble and the black soybean and kabocha squash stew!

there's only a couple of times that i think she slips and doesn't really back up what she says with enough evidence, but for the most part i think it's well structured and well delivered, and if it gets more people eating less animal produce then she will have done a great service to nature and animals.

there are a couple of moments in the kind diet where she really does hit the nail on the head, so to speak. she talks about becoming more in tune with your bodies wants and needs, rather than jamming 'health foods' into your diet and becoming obsessed or fixated on one thing in particular. after all there's only a certain amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs at any one time...

there's also discussion about good exercise, both inner and outer, and the importance of reviewing your emotional connection with food; this i find really interesting, as i am coming to believe that this is more and more important for society as a whole - we've stopped experiencing eating and enjoying food with family and friends, instead we are seeing food as fuel, as a composition of nutrients, rather than a sensory experience. i don't know about you but i love to plunge my hand into a bag of buckwheat, drizzle honey onto bread and feel the warm gooey texture of hot chocolate puddings (it's all very Amelie!)

so, congratulations to alicia for writing such an amazing book, and for helping everyone feel and look their best!

ps. i've finished another book - i'm on a roll - which i'm very excited to share with you all. hint: ever heard of roald dahl's granddaughter?

Monday, 29 March 2010

honey mustard hasselback potatoes and buckwheat biscuits

i crossed another item off my 2010 recipes list, woohoo! i was wondering whether you lovely readers might enjoy suggesting which item from the list i ought to try out next? or perhaps you have a suggestion for something to add to the list...i would love to know what you think!
here are my recent eats:

mixed stir fry vegetables with red cabbage, this tastes seriously good!

honey buckwheat biscuits (i'm still working on the perfect recipe) and some maple syrup in homemade yogurt

boiled egg with whole wheat toast soldiers

here's another one off my 2010 recipes list - honey and mustard hasselback potatoes - and i won't lie, they were absolutely phenomenal, especially with some bean burgers and vegetables! we also are really loving the organic rosarosa rose wine from la vialla

simple pleasures - sardines on toast with leftover mixed parsley vegetables

carobio in my porridge, and a sprinkle of goji berries...that'll set me up for the day!

there's a new book review coming soon...i've finished the kind diet by alicia silverstone, and i love it! i can't wait to tell you all about it.

ps. if you haven't seen any of my healthy living series, i would love for you to get involved in the discussions on my youtube channel...

Friday, 26 March 2010

bake-athon and buffalo mozzarella

i had a great evening doing a bake-athon with my chinese friend, bailey, we made shah biscuits and a dorset apple cake; she was a complete natural with a spatula in her hands.

on wednesday morning i caught up with 'the delicious miss dahl', a new programme on bbc2 which was absolutely fantastic! i can totally relate to her approach to food, and i loved the way it was structured into feelings. but most importantly, i thought the food was amazing and looked delicious! i especially loved how she fantasizes about buffalo mozzarella and how sensual it is to tear it up in your hands...

honey stir fry with buckwheat soba noodles

here she is with her very own homemade dorset apple cake, yum!

buckwheat porridge with a mug of green tea and an almond, raspberry and banana smoothie

buffalo mozzarella (sophie dahl style) for lunch, with la vialla olive oil, rustic wholemeal baguette and a little side salad

this made for a very delicious lunchtime treat...

in nigel slater's book real fast puddings there's a recipe for chocolate chestnut puddings, which is completely amazing, and incredibly quick and easy to make - i highly recommend it to anybody who loves chocolate!

i made a VERY large fish pie, topped with sweet potato and potato mash, (i use jamie's recipe from the  ministry of food cookbook) this is now in the freezer waiting for a large family party at easter! i can't wait!

vegetable lasagne - this was really good, and enough to make my brother and sister-in-law (who never would dream of not eating meat at a meal) actually ask for seconds! there's no cheese between the layers, instead it's creme fraiche, thanks jamie oliver for that little tip!

we had a little shindig with my bro with much champagne and wine drank in celebration of a little business success on my mums part (congratulations!)

for lunch today i had something quite yummy - spinach, bean burger, celery, mayo, cream cheese, gherkin wrap!

almond cookies with just ground almonds and no flour, no sugar either - they were incredibly moist, and pretty yummy :)

and that's all i photographed the last couple of days - we've had lots of porridge and apples too! tomorrow is a big family gathering 'house warming' type party, which will undoubtedly have lots of tasty, tasty food, i'm so looking forward to catching up with the family!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

chestnut honey and viallini

i love the la vialla produce! i've been so enjoying eating and cooking, and savoring the flavours of the food!

testing out the different types of honey, i love the 'miele di girasole' or sunflower honey the most i think, but the chestnut is so good because it's such a unique taste

this was a truly amazing stir fry, i could eat this all day every day (i had it with some veggie soup i made a while ago and froze). i put some organic butter in a pan, with 1 chopped red onion, a chopped stick of celery, 1/2 a chopped carrot, 1 chopped tomato, 1 chopped and parboiled sweet potato, some diced bacon, and then topped with some cream cheese!

goji berries, deglet nour dates, raw honey and homemade yogurt

a viallini - these have raisins and pine nuts in, and are coated with a little icing sugar, pretty naughty but yummy organic treats

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

la vialla

in my first issue of country living there were a million flyers, and one of these flyers caught my attention before the rest went into the recycling, it was for an organic italian farm store called la vialla.

we ordered the product catalogue, and got a little dvd with it, it's one of the most simple and gorgeous package designs i've ever seen, and every page of the catalogue was just brimming with really delicious food. so after much consideration we chose a few of the things to test out, and after a couple of weeks wait we got our box of yummies delivered all the way from italy to our house!

we ordered some honey (chestnut, sunflower and wildflower), spelt pasta (we received 3 different shapes), the rosarosa 2008 wine, a packet of viallini and two bottles of olive oil.

i can't wait to try it all! we have another catalogue, and i'm sure we will be ordering way more stuff with them in the future. can you get better produce than from an organic biodynamic farm in italy?

they sell all sorts of other products; i would love to try their pecorino, grape juice, balsamic vinegar, whole wheat flour, orange olives, artichokes, sweet pepper jam, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, the fragolina, ricotta mousses and the fig jam.

it all looks so good!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

in defence of food by michael pollan: book review

well here is another book review for you all to enjoy! i've been wanting to learn more and more about food and health, and the best way for me to do that has been to read loads of different books. i ordered a bunch a couple of weeks ago, and i have been working my way through them, in no particular order.

i'm not sure where i first heard about michael pollan's book, 'in defense of food' but it caught my attention. the reviews are pretty spectacular, and he's such a well known author - plus the book is a new york times bestseller, which must be a good sign.

the book is AMAZING! once it came in the post my mum grabbed it off me to read first, which was awesome because she doesn't often find 'health books' all that enticing usually. whilst she was reading she kept on laughing, and making shocked noises and generally just interacting with it. she wouldn't tell me why, she just told me that i had to read it, then i would understand.

and i now do. the book talks on a very understable level about the corruption of the food industry, and what that means in a practical way in everyday life. michael's overarching theory is: eat food. not too much. mostly plants. he breaks this down in the book and explains why we should stop looking at foods as nutrition, as a quantity of calories, carbs, vitamins and minerals, but rather something that should be enjoyed and savored for it's flavor and the way it makes us feel.

it's a brilliant philosophy which i really want to take on board in my life. so, we are now buying more organic food, and working towards putting more money aside each week for grocery shopping. i'm looking into local farmer's markets and different and exciting ways to enjoy vegetables. we are also trying to book people in for meals at our house, so that we are sharing each meal.

but the most important change from reading this book has come about in my mum; she's now taking fresh fruit to work, and a tupperware full of healthy nuts and dried fruit to snack on instead of dodgy chocolate bars. even better than that she actually gets excited when we go food shopping, and takes the lead in picking out the most good looking fruit and vegetables. it's great to see her so fired up about actually good food; it's meant that we have tried some really exciting organic produce lately, and that we will do so too in the future as well.

i love eating organic fruit and vegetables, and there's some produce which you can totally tell the difference with too: blueberries taste like they've been picked in some swedish forest, tomatoes smell as though they've been plucked straight from the greenhouse and are so so crisp, and apples are fresh rather than grainy.

so, if you haven't picked up your copy of in defense of food, i highly highly recommend you do so like right now. and if you want a relative of yours to get excited about good, healthy food, then this is the perfect book to make them see the light.

Monday, 22 March 2010

my latest and most delicious food treats

i hope you're all keeping well, and that your day is going brilliantly! i had a very busy week last week, and a super busy weekend. i've just moved rooms and i also had a huge event on saturday which i was in charge of - it was my first one which was a little scary, but it did go very well!

nutmeg pear bake with homemade yogurt - one of my favorite dinner desserts as it's no sugar, wheat free, and so easy to make!

chickpea curry - simple and delicious

chopped vegetable salad with avocado

morning drinks - banana almond smoothie and water

the perfect lunch - omelette and a bowl of mushroom soup

the omelette had spinach, watercress, rocket, goats cheese, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms

a light sunday afternoon dinner with a great read too...

an organic fry-up - i was craving this all morning, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, fried egg, soda bread, potatoes, and the style section!

my first oiaj (oats in a jar) experience - there's no better way to warm your hands in the morning! i can't wait for my carobio jar to be nearly empty, that's going to be amazing

well that was a very delicious few days, with a couple of new and very delightful experiences. i'm hoping that i've been doing the oiaj thing properly so far, have you any good oiaj tips?

i'm currently eagerly anticipating a long journey with my grandmother to the dentists tomorrow, followed by an evening of teaching one of my lovely chinese friends how to bake English style - we'll be making ginger biscuits and dorset apple cake to start off with!

i've also just finished another amazing book - michael pollan's 'in defense of food' - which i'll be doing a review of shortly to let you know a little more about it!

stay well

Friday, 19 March 2010

the amazing wall chart

a couple of weeks ago i saw this chart on happy foody and i just needed it. it's so beautiful, and informative, and i think it would be a great tool for helping kids get a little inspired to make healthier choices. however, i don't have kids, and i love it - it's a great way of making sure we get all those valuable nutrients from different sources!

you can pick up one for yourself at green leafy, or more for a discounted price. i just have to work out where to put mine now...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

thyme bean burgers & millet banana bread

this week i've been cooking loads to distract myself from thinking too hard about regular work - i'm co-ordinating a big event on saturday, which is pretty nerve wracking. i got one more of my 2010 recipes done, and made an absolutely awesome millet bread - thank goodness for such an amazing distraction, i love to cook!

flahavans porridge oats with banana, cinnamon and carobio

carobio in porridge was really gorgeous, in fact the perfect 'chocolate' oats i've ever had, smooth and rich, and just right

my lunch wrapped in tin foil - vaguely more eco friendly than cling film i think?

goats cheese, spinach, watercress, rocket, mushroom, bell peppers, organic mayonnaise on wholemeal wraps - good but not great, i'm only just starting out on the wrap thing, and i didn't fill them nearly full enough

buckwheat porridge with soya milk, sliced bananas and sultanas - a favorite of our house, more people should have this every day! plus alpro soya is not genetically modified: i double checked :)

bean burgers with salsa with mayo/mustard dressing. i'd wanted to make bean burgers for the longest time (they were on my 2010 recipes list), and i'm glad i finally got round to it, as they are so easy to make, and you can freeze them too!

beautiful bean burgers

1 tin borlotti beans, 1 tin cannellini beans, 1 egg, 80g whole wheat flour, thyme, salt, pepper, 1 diced clove of garlic, 1 finely diced onion

 - lightly fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened
 - mash all the ingredients togther, until smooth, i used a potato masher, which was just perfect for this job
 - heat up a frying pan to a medium high heat, with 1 tbsp olive oil in
 - wet your hands, then shape little patties out of the bean mixture, placing in frying pan as you go
 - let each one cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until firm
 - drain on kitchen paper, and let cool before freezing
 - add to salads, vegetable bakes or eat in the place of regular burgers

herring on toast - a simple pleasure

homemade yogurt, strained through a jam mesh to make it really thick, with comb honey, goji berries and golden linseeds

millet banana bread

millet banana bread

1/2 cup millet grain (soaked overnight in filtered water), 2 eggs, 1tbsp vanilla, 1/2 cup honey, pinch salt, 2 cups flour (buckwheat, wholewheat mix), 2 mashed bananas, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup sultanas, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 3tbsp melted butter

 - rinse the soaked millet grain really well to remove all the salty granules, then place in a blender
 - add the eggs, vanilla, honey and salt and blend for a good few minutes until the granules are completely broken up, check the texture by tasting it
 - then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and melted butter, and blend again
 - pour this mixture into a mixing bowl, and add the mashed bananas, chopped walnuts and sultanas and stir with a spoon. do a quick taste test to check the flavour, add some more honey for extra sweetness or some cinnamon for a little extra punch
 - pour into a lined loaf tin until 3/4 full - mine was more full than this though, so don't worry about being precise!
 - bake for about 45 minutes, at 180c/350f
 - remove and enjoy hot with organic butter, fruit jam or raw honey, and a cup of tea!

i'll be experimenting more with millet now i know it will bake as long as you don't pre-cook it! bring on some cupcakes, cookies, brownies and scones...anything that you could bake with regular flour, i'm sure you could add millet instead - such a good alkalinizing grain, and hey if it's good enough for the Hunzans, it's good enough for me!