|Squashes come in all shapes and sizes. Look for one that appeals to you and suits your needs in terms of volume.Although they look enormous, on their own squashes are not overly filling once prepared and cooked. The one we used was about 15 cm/ 6 inches wide.
Squashes need a fairly robust filling as they are fairly bland on their own.
Prep time: Squash around 5 minutes. Nut stuffing 20 – 25 minutes
Serves 2 (depending upon the size of the Squash)
Note:A small squash means you can have a ‘half’ each. Otherwise you will need to divide up into portions.
This recipe does not call for the squash to be peeled – a blessing! (Although you do not eat it).Cooking times for squash are not an exact science; it will depend on the type, size and age of the squash. Info given here is for guidance only.Once you have bought the squash just Google it to find out how long your particular choice may take.
|Serving idea:Serve with salad or for a more substantial (and quick) option, some baked beans.
Try adding a little more oil once it is cooked or some flavoured salt.
|This dish is best served room temperature to experience the flavours ant their best.
Make sure you take the tomatoes and peppers out of the fridge a couple of hours before you use them.Read the cooks notes about the avocados too to ensure the best looking dish.
The Basil leaves need to be picked off the stems and then lightly pulled apart to release the beautiful aroma.
We haven’t toasted the pine nuts however if you want to add a little more colour then pop them into a pan for a few moments to brown.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves 2 – 3
|Cook’s Notes:Tomatoes need to be eaten at room temperature to have any taste; don’t serve straight from the fridge.
They will fine for a few hours after you have prepared them. However don’t slice them up any earlier than this as they may go a bit soggy.
The avocado will need to be sprinkled with lemon juice if not eating and serving immediately, as they will go brown when cut and exposed to the air.
For best results assemble just before serving.
|Serving idea:Serve on its own as a starter or as an accompaniment to another dish.
Try to get different types of small tomatoes, use all shapes and sizes. Not the huge ones however, as this can be a bit tasteless – unless you have grown your own.
Warmed ciabatta goes wonderfully with this and you can use it to soak up all the lovley juices.
|This is a lovely tasty veggie stuffing. Don’t run away meat eaters as it is a very versatile and flexible dish. Honestly, it works well for both meat eaters and vegetarians.If you have time make it the day before need it, the flavours will develop and you will have a very robust dish, whatever you use it for.
It is also a high protein recipe and great for your blood sugar. Its high in fibre too.
Please ensure that you cook it thoroughly otherwise it will be unsuitable for pregnant, elderly and immune compromised should avoid raw eggs.
You will need a food processor
Prep: 25 – 30 mins
|Nutritional info: This is a high protein stuffing with the egg and the nuts.It also has higher levels of fat so it should not be eaten for weight loss. However the high fibre content will help to balance this to a degree.Coconut butter withstands being heated, which is why we prefer to use it in dishes like this.||To Use: Whatever you do with the stuffing it will need cooking for around 20 minutes in a hot oven around Oven Temp: 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Use in peppers, squash or roll into little sausages.|
|This salad sounds and looks exotic however it is a real cheat when it comes to preparation.
The prepared salad bags are so handy; look out for them in the supermarket. If you have the time and the inclination do make up your own from a selection of fresh leaves and herbs.
Avocados are great but are not keepers once cut open so ensure you use them asap. They don’t take a minute to prepare so don’t worry about leaving them until the last minute.The dressing will keep for a few days in a jar with a lid in the fridge; so don’t be afraid to make more then you need for this dish. You can use it later.
Prep time: 5 – 10 minutes
|Cook’s Notes:: The avocados will give under pressure at the small round end, when ripe. Don’t poke too much otherwise they will be bruised.They will start to go brown after being peeled. Sprinkle with lemon juice to preserve their lovely colour if you aren’t eating them immediately.Herb salad bags are convenient otherwise make up your own from various leaves.||Serving idea:This salad can be used as a base to which other salad ingredients can be added.Use this salad as a sandwich filler; it tastes lovely with meat or fish, or cheese or hummus. Well, just about everything!!Extra dressing can be served on the side with some warm ciabatta. Yum!|
The world seems to be about challenges at the moment.
One of them (fairly close to home in the UK) is adopting healthy eating.
For the majority of the population, changing eating habits could be as difficult as qualifying for the Olympics. Obesity rates are out of control. Diabetes (type 2) is close behind.
Look at the campaigns that governments have launched over the years to raise awareness and make healthy food choices acceptable to the public.
How has healthy eating become such a challenge? Part of the problem is clearly historical.
We have learnt over the generations to eat in a certain way. Some of the influences will have come from our immediate environment through family preferences and external pressures such as peer and the media (through advertising).
Our individual relationship with food is complex; a science in itself.
Whatever the reasons (and there are many) the bottom line is we have ‘forgotten’ what our human body needs to function well. In fact it may be more true to say, we have forgotten about the link between our food and our health.
Eating seems to have become an isolated activity that we engage in without thinking of the consequences or even why we are actually doing it.
Both Jules and I never cease to be amazed that people do not think that their body is made from food! (A good example is a massive chocolate binge which results in spots for most of us gals; an experiment that we keep trying, just in case it’s different this month!).
What is weird is that healthy eating has become in some way ‘different’. It is a deviation from the norm. Maybe something to be done for a while until you reach your goal such as losing weight or overcoming an illness? It is then dropped and the normal behaviour picked up again.
And there is the challenge; making healthy eating ‘normal’ and acceptable.
Firstly we need to admit that food is essential to the quality of our lives. If we can do this, we can start to focus on which foods serves us well and make considered choices about what goes into our body.
Some of the simplest, quickest meals are made from a few nature-made ingredients, with pronounceable names. So the ‘time’ excuse goes out the window.
The tastiest foods often do not need cooking; they just need chewing!
There is no doubt, choosing a different eating regime requires education, information and inspiration.
The motivation to start will come, when you truly embrace the importance of the impact that your food choices have on your body.
Spend a day being aware of every single food you put in your mouth. Actually engage your brain and assess your choices. You don’t need to be a nutrition expert to judge whether it is good for you or not.
Everything begins with Awareness. Once you become ‘aware’ you can rise to the challenge and explore the whole new world of healthy eating.
|Hemp milk is more than just an alternative to dairy.There are lots of people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk either literally or because of the taste. However having some form of ‘milk’ is undoubtedly handy for breakfast cereals, hot drinks, cooking etc. The problem with readymade carton varieties is that they tend to have lots of other ingredients. This can be a problem if you are then allergic to those or they don’t suit your taste buds.
Hemp milk contains good levels of vegetable protein and essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6. You also find it contains: magnesium, calcium zinc and potassium with several B vitamins*. In milk form it is easy for the body to digest which is a bonus.
Once you have made the milk, decide what you are going to use it for. For cereals or drinks add some form of natural sweetener (to taste) such as Agave or honey.
If using it in smoothies, then you may not need to add everything else.
This will give you approximately 500mls/ 1 pint of fresh hemp milk.
|Nutritional infoHemp milk does not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the dodgy stuffy in cannabis.* There is mixed information regarding the nutrients in Hemp Milk (with the exception of the essential fatty acids) therefore those mentioned are only a guide.||And…….. Hemp milk can be made into more of a cream by adding less milk when blending. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and always shake it before use as it will separate whilst standing.|
|Seb informs me this is based on a Gordon Ramsey recipe that he really loved.When I tried it for the first time it reminded me (vaguely) of the masala flavour you get from that famous British favourite. The colour too, as it is very orangey-red.Squashes and pumpkins are a bit of faff to prepare but they do offer so much in terms of nutrition. Lots of fibre, good carbohydrates, heaps of vitamins and minerals.Don’t worry about the actual weights of the veg. Choose squash that you like the look of and are not enormous,
This soup really fills you up. More particularly it fills my son up; and that is an achievement in itself!
Prep time: 15 – 20 minutes depending upon how big the veg are and how adept you are with a peeler.
Serves 5 – 6
|Cook’s Notes:Squashes are a challenge to peel. I use a potato peeler. You could also cut in half, lie it flat side down and then use a knife to cut down and take the peel off.Don’t worry about amounts. Make sure the stock covers the veg; you can always add more if it is too thick when you blend it.Good chicken stock can be used instead of vegetable for additional flavour and nutritional value.||Serving idea:Add a pile of fresh herbs in the middle just before serving. Alternatively a handful of baby spinach can be stirred in before or after blending.Stir in a few tablespoons of cooked brown rice just before serving to make a more substantial meal.A granary roll drizzled with olive oil on the side will taste good too!|
|Avocados are the most accommodating fruit (yes, fruit) and work well in smoothies.They give good monounsaturated fats and contain great levels of the heart healthy mineral, potassium and B vitamins. The fibre also contributes to good bowel function, which is essential to all round well being.
Avos’ used to get a bad press because of their fat content however providing you aren’t eating huge amounts of them or have significant weight problem, they are worth including in your diet on a regular basis.
Plus in smoothies you get the smooth creaminess without having dairy or high sugar bananas.
|Vegetable know howBaby spinach is less bitter that it’s grown up version. Cucumbers are over 90% water so very hydrating. Use up the entire avocado which should be soft and pale green/yellow inside, no black bits. If only one half is used, leave the stone in one side, cover and refrigerate. This should prevent it going brown too soon.||Taste tipsThis is a mild inoffensive tasting smoothie. Do add more apples to get a little more flavour.
You may want add a little runny honey if giving this to children
|Nutritional infoThe combination of the avocado which is high in good fats plus vitamin E and the cucumbers which are high in Silica (a skin health mineral) makes this a great anti ageing smoothie.||And…….. You can all sorts of extra fruit to this except bananas. The avocado already gives it the thick smoothness. You can have too much of a good thing!|
The Good Salt Company produce a range of what can best be described as spiced salt.
The basis is unrefined, additive free, traditionally mined and sun dried Himalayan Crystal salt. To this a number of spices are added.
In ‘5 Elements’ the tastes of sour, bitter, sweet, hot and salty are represented by a number of ingredients. These are: parsley, celery leaves, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic powder, hot paprika, ginger, savoury, lemon peel, liquorice, sunflower oil and Kombu seaweed.
It is a very versatile product and tastes delicious. It smells kind of curry-ish and adds oriental/eastern essence to food and cooking.
This salt is wonderful to use as it can add flavour very quickly and easily to any dish; a godsend when throwing a meal together. Something a lot of us seem to do!
I use it on baked fish, sprinkled lightly over steamed vegetables to pep them up, stirred into brown rice and added to mashed sweet (or white)potato.
Himalayan crystal salt is quite different from the white stuff you see on tables everywhere which is essentially a factory made derivative comprising sodium, chloride and chemicals.
The crystal salt is understood to be the purest most unpolluted available. It contains 84 minerals which can be easily absorbed into the body. Unlike the common alternative, crystal salt is understood to have a positive impact on the health of the body, including blood pressure. However table salt is regarding as a contributory factory to this health issue.
The whole range of ‘The Good Salt Co’ products are not cheap; bearing in mind the quality of the ingredients, this is not surprising. However, a pot will last for a long time and I think is a worthwhile investment.
This is a lovely addition to my box of flavours.
I discovered it at a Farmer’s Market in Lewes. It is made by Stratta, a Sussex based company who make a whole range of beautiful and unusual oils and vinegars. I am not a fan of vinegar per se but these products have won me over.
In the Fig vinegar you can really taste the flavour of the fruit, plus the sweetness without it being sugary. I describe as being ‘gentle’ on the palate and on the plate. It isn’t a thug, like vinegar can be; mugging everything it comes in contact with!
Generally I do not use it in a dressing; I tend to drizzle or drip it over food followed by an oil chaser. It also balances out some of the more acidic olive oils too. Stratta advised me to drizzle it over goats cheese when serving with fresh green leaves. That was great!
I’m still experimenting with this and the other vinegars from the range. From their sweet vinegars I have tried Medlar, Raspberry, Damson and Morello Cherry vinegars. Medlars were (according to Wiki) very popular in the Victorian era; I had never heard of them before.
From their herb range, I tried the Garlic but wasn’t impressed. I couldn’t taste the garlic (as you know I love it!!) and the vinegar-ness seem to dominate. I’ve yet to get hold of the other flavours in that range which includes Lemon, Mint and Tarragon.
Also on my ‘to do’ list are their balsamic fruit vinegars; now they should be lovely!