After my last attempt at a chia breakfast pudding, I did some experimenting to see if I could come up with a tasty recipe for a chai-spiced pot. I realised along the way that the weird taste, which I had attributed to the maca and lucuma powder in the previous iteration, was partly down to the chia seeds, which have a bit of a weird taste in themselves.
- 300ml milk, any
- 2tsp black tea
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 green cardamom pod
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1tbsp sugar, any (e.g. honey, coconut sugar, cane sugar)
- 3tbsp chia seeds
Measure your milk into a small saucepan. Halve the vanilla pod and add the seeds to the milk. Do not discard the rest of the pod.
Add the tea and whole spices. You can either put them into a tea infuser (apart from the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod) or straight into the saucepan. Put over a low heat, watching carefully so that you do not allow the liquid to boil over. As it comes to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for two minutes to allow the spices to infuse.
If you have used an infuser, give it a squeeze to release the extra-concentrated flavours lurking within. If you haven’t used an infuser, strain.
Stir in the chia seeds and decant into a container to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
I served mine with a couple of tablespoons of speculoos butter, Greek yoghurt and pomegranate arils.
This recipe is inspired by the rainbow pie with hazelnut crust featured in Straight from the Source, the magazine made by the bulk store I frequent.
For the crust
- 1.5 cups hazelnut meal/blitzed hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 3/4 cup flour (I used ordinary plain flour, use tapioca flour to make this pie gluten-free)
- 1 egg
- 100g butter
- A good pinch of salt
For the filling
- 5 eggs
- 2tbsp milk or cream
- 3tbsp pesto (I used this recipe)
- 1 small sweet potato, diced and roasted
- 100g gruyere
- 1 small courgette
- 1 small yellow pepper
- 30g spinach/red pak choi if you can get it
- 1 red onion
Note: You may be able to see from my pictures that I followed a slightly different method. Do as I say, not as I do!
Preheat the oven to 180C
Grease a 25cm pie tin. I used a 23cm one because that’s what I have and just meant the pastry was a little thicker.
Mix together the pastry ingredients until they form into a ball. Do not over-mix.
Press into the greased pie tin and bake for ten minutes. If you haven’t already, roast your diced sweet potato at the same time.
I allowed the crust to rise above the edges of the tin deliberately- the pastry burns very easily. This way, any blackened bits can easily be trimmed off at the end.
While the crust is cooking, finely chop the onion and cook in olive oil or butter until translucent.
Chop the other vegetables.
Layer the spinach, onion, pepper, sweet potato and courgette in the crust.
Beat the eggs with the cream/milk and pesto. Fold in the diced cheese and sundried tomatoes. Pour over the vegetables in the crust.
Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the eggs are completely cooked.
I have to say that if I was going to bother to go to the effort of making a quiche again, I would be more likely to go for a quiche lorraine. But it was fun to try something new.
I picked up some dates on clearance at the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them at the time, but at 25p a pack I snapped them up.
While looking on Pinterest for recipe ideas, this recipe caught my eye. I am a complete sucker for anything that purports to be salted caramel. While I was dubious about whether dates could ever aspire to the deliciousness of cream and sugar, I had some tahini in the fridge and decided to give it a go.
Tahini is one of those things that I find it hard to use up. I tend to buy a jar to make hummus, only to have the rest of it sitting in the fridge for the next five years, looking all separated and neglected. However, since I am attempting to reduce my plastic waste, maybe more homemade hummus is in my future, especially since I finally found a satisfactory recipe.
Anyway, here is the recipe for the bite things.
- 175g dates, pitted
- 80g tahini*
- 100g dark chocolate, at least 70%
- Sea salt
- Cocoa powder (optional)
*You can substitute any nut or seed butter of your choice for the tahini. For my second attempt at these bars, I only had 30g tahini left so I swapped out the rest for peanut butter.
Combine the tahini and stoned dates in a blender. If you are using a domestic machine, make sure to pulse for short periods of time so you don’t overload your motor! The mixture will come together into a ball. If it’s not coming together, add a little extra tahini.
Press into a container. I found this baking tray too big but I’d already oiled it so went ahead with it anyway.
Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 30minute, then chop the date mixture up into chunks of your desired size. I recommend not making them too big so that you get plenty of chocolate in every bite.
Melt the chocolate and coat each piece.
While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle over sea salt.
I also coated some of my bites in cocoa powder because (I think because of my kitchen being hot) the chocolate had some bubbles on the surface that looked unappetising.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
I was sceptical about this recipe but these bites are delicious. The texture is much nicer than most dried-fruit nut bars, with a nice bite and chew. The dark chocolate adds an amazing bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the dates and the brightness of the salt is the icing on the cake (so to speak).
I would love to learn to temper chocolate. Imagine how beautiful these bites would look if the chocolate was shiny!
The second instalment in my quest to stop lunch being the most irritating meal of the day is this filling roasted sweet potato, quinoa and goats cheese salad. I realise that eating things like this (stopping to Instagram it first) makes me a hopeless millennial stereotype, but apparently that’s my destiny.
I’ll be adding this to my rotation of lunches. I think the goats cheese balances the sweet potato beautifully, the quinoa adds grainy bulk and the pumpkin seeds give a pleasant bite. I leave the skins on my potatoes (cutting out any dodgy bits) for the triple threat of added nutrition, saved time and reduced waste. Rule of three FTW!
I’ve also started adding dressing to more of my salads. It does add calories, but I think the secret of store bought salads is the dressing punching up the flavour. For me, the added pleasure negates the calories.
- 1kg sweet potatoes
- 1tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 green or red chilli, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2tbsp olive oil
- A handful of finely chopped coriander stems, optional
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry quinoa (if you’re not on the quinoa bandwagon, sub another grain, bulgur or couscous)
- 200g baby leaf spinach
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 200g goats cheese, cut into small chunks
- A handful coriander leaves
For the dressing
- 1tbsp French mustard
- 1tbsp honey
- 2tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
- 1tsp balsamic vinegar
- 6tbsp flavourless oil
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Chop your sweet potatoes into bite-size chunks. Peel if desired.
- Add sweet potato chunks to a roasting tin with the olive oil, garlic, ginger, chili and coriander stems, if using. Rub to ensure a good coating of oil and even distribution of the spices. Season, then bake for around 20 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft and golden.
- Cook quinoa according to directions on packet. I rise mine in a mesh sieve for a couple of minutes, until the water runs clear. I then toast the damp quinoa in a tablespoon of butter for a couple of minutes to open up the grains. Finally, I add double the volume of water to the pan (in this case 2 cups), bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the water is all absorbed (15-20 mins), then turn off the heat and leave to steam for a few more minutes.
- For the dressing, Combine the dressing ingredients, aside from the oil, in a food processor or hand blender and blitz until smooth. Add the oil slowly, through a funnel if you have one, until smooth.
- In a dry pan over a medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until golden and fragrant.
Combine the baby leaf spinach, quinoa, roasted sweet potato, goats cheese and coriander. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, season and dress to taste. This salad can be eaten warm or cold. Enjoy!