I finally got something other than courgettes out of my garden since I pulled my carrots and beetroot. It’s weird growing root vegetables as you basically have no idea what’s lurking under the ground.
For some reason only one of my beetroot grew to a decent size. I’m not too upset because I’m not that crazy about beetroot anyway. Turns out that I grew a lot of vegetables that I’m not too fond of. The fact is, I used to eat vegetables because they were good for me and not for pleasure. I have to say, though, growing my own has given me a new appreciation for veg.
Anyway, the small yield scuppered my plan of making chutney so I just roasted the beetroot in the oven. This was my first experience with raw beetroot. I followed Jamie Oliver’s recommendation of eating it warm on toast with horseradish. It was okay, but not sure I would make it again.
I was very pleased with my purple carrots because my dad’s girlfriend, who is a gardener, said that carrots are notoriously difficult to grow. I wanted to enjoy them in their raw form so I made some red pepper hummus with which to eat them. I followed this recipe, which produced by far the best hummus I’ve ever made, rivalling store bought. Hummus is one of the few things that I’ve found very difficult to improve by making from scratch.
I increased all of the amounts by 50% due to the ingredients I had on hand, so I now have an enormous quantity of hummus to consume. Fortunately it’s really good with the carrots.
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.