In the past couple of weeks, my garden has started to produce a lot of courgettes. I got the seeds as part of a ‘funky veg’ kit and kind of just planted for the hell of it- I’m not the biggest fan of courgettes. However, I sense that my glut of yellow beauties may make me learn to love this humble vegetable. We’ll see how I do at the challenging task of not embarrassing myself with phallic references in this post. I am a follower of Freud, after all.
I turned my first fistful of small courgettes into a tasty salad. Adapted from this recipe.
I knew that my staff summer picnic would be a good excuse to use up some more courgettes. As you can see, these ones were much larger.
I made another salad for the party- this was actually my first time cooking and eating fennel. I selected a vegan recipe, but when the vegan in the team wasn’t at the picnic, I did add some cheeky feta. Cheese makes everything better.
The cake was lovely- light, moist and tasty. Would probably omit raisins next time. My favourite bit was the frosting, but then I am dangerously addicted to cream cheese frosting. I have a LOT more courgettes coming, so I need to stay ahead of the game with ways to use them.
I try to eat well, and a big part of that is healthy snacks. I eat quite a lot of Nakd bars, and always wondered how easy it would be to make them at home. I recently tried out Deliciously Ella’s new range of energy balls, which are very tasty but also pretty expensive. I’m sure she already has a recipe online somewhere, but I just looked at the ingredients on the back and made up my own.
- 40g almonds
- 60g dates
- 2tsp nut butter
- 1/2tsp coconut oil
- 1tbsp cocoa powder
- A sprinkle of salt
Blend all the ingredients together. I just used my little hand blender.
After a while, the ingredients will start to come together.
Roll into balls. I added a little too much coconut oil, making them a bit shiny. They probably would have re-mattified once the warmth from my hands dissipated, but I decided to roll them in some cocoa powder. I was trying to trick myself into believing I am eating truffles.
This was so quick and easy! The texture is somewhere between a Nakd bar, some varieties of which have bits, and a smooth Ella ball. My little blender wasn’t able to make the nuts totally smooth. I think the taste is lovely too. I’ll definitely try out more varieties in future.
The new year found me in Indonesia guiltlessly munching on fried foods and ice cream- I was on holiday after all. However, I couldn’t resist the call of January to lose weight, get fit, save money and generally become a perfect human creature.
I decided that the first step would be to start having green smoothies for breakfast. 2015 was the year I discovered green drinks in all forms. A well made green smoothie not only gives you a sense of smug self-satisfaction, but actually tastes good. I had developed a worrying dependency on the guy who makes smoothies outside Sourced Market at St Pancras station, sometimes travelling there specifically for a hit.
I decided to break the cycle, cut out the middleman, and make the smoothies my damn self.
Green juice purists might disapprove of how I make my smoothies. I add a little dried fruit for sweetness and fibre. I use fruit juice rather than water, and have banana as well as some frozen berries. I sometimes even add a touch of honey if my smoothie tastes a bit too virtuous.
I use my electronic scale to help keep my measurements on track.
- A small handful (about 20g) oats
- A small handful (10-25g) almonds
- A little dried fruit- I use a dried fig or a couple of apricots depending on what I have on hand
- 200ml apple juice or water
- 80g avocado- this is half a small avocado or a quarter of a large avocado
- 80g (1 small) banana
- 80g frozen spinach
- A small handful (about 40g) frozen berries
- 80g (1 stalk) celery
- 80g cucumber
- 1tsp (about 10g) fresh ginger
- 1tsp spirulina (optional)
- Ice or water to bring smoothie to desired texture and temperature
- To save time in the morning, I often soak the nuts, oats and dried fruit in the juice overnight, along with the unfrozen veg. Since my smoothie machine came with two bottles, I prepare two in the same evening
- I sometimes chop up bananas and keep them in the freezer as a further time saver (it means I don’t have to run to the shop for bananas every three days)
- I do the same with the fresh ginger, buying large fresh pieces when I see them and storing them prepared in pots in the freezer
- This recipe is super flexible. You can substitute most ingredients for whatever you have on hand.
- Don’t drop the blade of the blender on your foot. It hurts.
For me this smoothie is really balanced. It’s fresh with a lovely zing from the ginger. The avocado and banana give a nice smooth texture. I don’t know what spirulina is meant to do, but it makes the smoothie a nice colour and helps me feel like I am taking care of my body as I prepare to exit my twenties.
A few years ago, I overcame the dramatic and turbulent changes in my weight that I’d seen in my late teens and early twenties. One of my remaining bad habits was that I never ate breakfast. After finally losing weight, I was worried that increasing my food intake would lead to increasing my waistline. But I was also aware of some of my blood sugar highs and lows throughout the day and eventually I took the plunge.
I’ve never looked back since and I remain a committed consumer of brekkie. I love porridge in the winter, but had more difficulty finding healthy and filling ways to break my fast in summer. Cereal with fake milk was okay, but I was always starving by 10am. One day, I saw a former Australian housemate making something for his lactose intolerant sister, who was visiting. He grated apples. He did stuff with oats. He manipulated nuts and seeds. And I learned that Bircher Muesli exists.
I love Bircher Muesli in the summer. I am going to give the basic recipe I use. Please note that a little variation in the quantities is no problem. You must prepare this at least a few hours before serving, preferably the night before.
- 1 apple
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- 25g oats
- 75ml fruit juice or smoothie
I normally make five servings at a time and leave it in the fridge throughout the week. I add the following items to taste each day.
- A handful of berries, fresh or frozen
- A couple of tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
- A couple of tablespoons of nuts
- A little dried fruit
- A squeeze of honey
- Grate your apples. I think it’s important to do this by hand and use unpeeled apples to ensure a great texture (no pun intended)
- Squeeze over some lemon to prevent the apple from browning
- Add oats
5. Stir well and refrigerate.
6. In the morning, the oats will have soaked up lots of liquid. Stir in what you like just before serving and savour.