New favorite cookbook - Oh She Glows

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon
My new favorite cookbook - The Oh She Glows Cookbook - is definitely helping me have 100 happy days.  I'll count it today as my Day 14 of #100happydays - but truly, I could count it for just about everyday.

The cookbook only came out this month and I had pre-ordered.  Its just a lovely book.  It is vegan but I think it has an appeal to everyone. The dishes are delish and will suit all palates.

First off though, it looks like a "proper" cookbook.  So often vegan or  plant based cookbooks aren't so appealing in their layout and design but this one is beautiful with gorgeous photos of every dish.





I started flipping through the pages and adding stickers to the recipes I wanted to try - but quickly ran out of stickers! It would have been easier to mark the couple that didn't appeal to me!

There are more than 100 recipes, 90 of which are gluten free. They are higher in sweeteners and oil than I typically use, but easily adaptable to reducing those levels if you so wish.  There are considerations for other food allergies too, with soy free, grain free, and nut free recipes as well.

I've really enjoyed cooking from the book. We had friends stay the weekend so I made the ultimate nutty granola clusters and they were a huge hit.

Other dishes I have tried include:

  • raw buckwheat breakfast porridge
  • taco fiesta potato crisps - with walnut taco meat
  • chakra caesar salad with nutty herb croutons
  • perfect kale chips
  • lightened-up crispy baked fries

and today I'm giving the "present glo bars" a try.  I'll let you know how they turn out.
Photo credit: Angela Liddon
Walnut, avocado and pear salad with marinated portobello caps and red onion
I highly recommend this book - for vegans, vegetarians, omnivores or whatever.  It'll make you happy.
Here's the link to it on Amazon

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Roasted leek and hemp hummus

I led a class about essential fatty acids today. One of the recipes was for an oil free hummus which incorporated hemp seeds as a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.  It was very well received - definitely yummy and healthy.


In addition to the hemp, there were leeks in there too. How many of you cook with leeks?  They seem such an under-utilized member of the allium (onion) family.  Leeks are such a good alternative to onions or shallots, especially as they are much easier to prepare and don't cause tears. Why don't we use them more? We should try to eat something from the allium family every day, so swap things around.  Leeks have that great oniony taste and all the health benefits of onions. Buy some this week and give them a go.  Instead of peeling them, you just slit them in half, lengthways and wash out any dirt that may be between the layers. Then just slice them up and use as you would onions or shallots.  No more crying. :-D


Since we got back from the UK, we've been surrounded by leeks. We had leaks in our water filter with water gushing out everywhere, we've had leaks in our fire sprinkler system, we've had leaks in our community well.  Hopefully, as things come in threes, that will be it...but I got the message and decided it was time for some leek recipes!!



In this recipe, I roasted the leeks in the oven for a while and then added them to the hummus which gave it a great flavor.

Sadly, I forgot to take photos of the finished product and it was eaten up quickly! Anyhow, I'm sure you know what hummus looks like! Here's the recipe:


Ingredients:

1 cup leeks, sliced
Spray Can of coconut oil
1 can/carton of cooked organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup hemp seeds
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove
Pinch black pepper
4 tablespoons water


Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
  2. Line a baking sheet/tray and place the chopped leeks on the tray. Spray with a little coconut oil and roast for 20 minutes, checking along the way to make sure they don't burn.  Remove from the oven and let them cool
  3. Meanwhile, combine the chickpeas, hemp seeds, lemon juice, garlic clove, pepper and water in a blender.  Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary
  4. Add the roasted leeks and puree again.  Depending on how you like your hummus consistency, you may want to add another tablespoon of water. 
  5. Cool in the fridge and serve
As well as using this as a dip or on bread or crackers, you can dilute it with non-dairy milk and use it as a sauce for roasted veggies or as a salad dressing.  Once you've tasted it, you'll come up with ways to use it - maybe even eating it straight out of the bowl!


Hope the green and white leeks are the only leeks you get :-D
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Everything is tickety-boo

Here is this week's list of things that made me feel like everything is tickety-boo:


  • I saw the movie About Time and so got to watch Bill Nighy for two hours!  I  love Bill Nighy- definitely something about him - but I also enjoyed the movie.  The conclusion of the movie is that everything is tickety-boo.  It is my perfect movie!
  • I bought a new coat and absolutely love it.  Really unusual.  Not really practical at all - its linen, not that warm, not waterproof - but just one of those items that you love :-D
  • the Northern California fall - we are still in the mid 70's in the afternoons, the rains haven't started, the vineyards are golden and red and brown and it is just gorgeous.  I'm making the most of it as next week I go back to England.
  • laughing at Harold, our pet parrot, who has had trouble adjusting to the clock time change this week.  His "cocktail hour" - when he gets a cashew nut everyday and we come in to be with him - is always at 5pm and he just didn't get why we were keeping him waiting an hour!  We've had a few noisy hours between 4 - 5pm this week but hopefully he is slowly adjusting!  His internal clock is just too good!!!!
  • Having a great final Food as Medicine class with lovely ladies.  We've been meeting for 9 months and its been wonderful to get to know them and see the amazing changes they have made.  I'll miss them - we've had a lovely time.  They are all inspiring.
  • having the neighbors round - albeit for a "water" meeting as we share the same well - but still, it was nice for us all to get together and catch up on more than our water system!
  • eating gnocchi for the first time and loving it
  • the smell of roasting quince and cloves permeating the house
  • eating the last of this years pears...they've lasted so well and are still so delicious.  Only one left..
  • enjoying a new truffle recipe - rosehip truffles.  

 I hope your week has been tickety-boo too.  Keep looking for those positives!

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An apple a day....

Apples, apples, everywhere....


We've now harvested the majority of our apples - and I've already dehydrated five large bags of them. They taste yummy dried - with nothing added.


And like our pears, our apples are huge this year.  We have a few apples that weigh more than a pound each!  It sort of makes a mockery of the "apple a day keeps the doctor away" as one of our apples could feed a family of four!

In fact, it did for lunch today. I made a nice slaw with a single large apple, walnuts, spring onion and mint.  And it fed four of us nicely!


Not quite sure what has happened with our orchard fruit this year.  We've never seen it so large - with pears over a pound each, apples the same and even large nectarines!  Yet not a great year for tomatoes.

But no complaints!  We are loving it.  What are you enjoying this early September?
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Book Review: The China Study Cookbook

This week, I'm reviewing a cookbook: The China Study Cookbook by Leanne Campbell.  This is the "official companion to The China Study".  If you haven't read the China Study by Colin Campbell - you should - and I'll maybe review that another day.


Anyhow this companion cookbook came out this year - 7 years after The China Study.  It is written by the daughter of Colin Campbell and features recipes for "easily prepared plant-based food with no added fat and minimal sugar and salt with the goal of promoting optimal health without sacrificing taste".

The recipes are divided into the following categories:

  • breads and muffins
  • breakfast dishes
  • appetizers and salads
  • soups
  • sandwiches
  • entrees
  • side dishes and 
  • desserts
The breads all rely on whole wheat flour and sucanat for a sweetener. It would have nice to vary the grains a little - especially offering at least one gluten free option.... maybe even just for the corn bread?

In the breakfast section there is the usual french toast, crepes, muesli, scrambled tofu, smoothies, hash.....Nothing really excited me in this section.

A big downside to this book for me was the photography.  I really didn't find the pictures to be appetizing.  They tend to be close-ups of food with no real styling at all - just the odd basil leaf thrown in. Not one photo made me want to cook that dish.  I do like to see recipe photos and rarely buy a book without them - but they have to be good photos.

Recipe http://www.thechinastudy.com/endorsed-by-t-colin-campbell/the-china-study-cookbook/recipes/

The sandwich section includes chickpea burgers which sound nice but again include vital wheat gluten and panko breadcrumbs so need quite a bit of conversion for gluten free.

I am very familiar with making recipes gluten free so its not that this book loses "marks" for me in this book. It is that I don't find it very interesting.  For example - hummus wraps: chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice to make the hummus then spread on a wrap with a bit of lettuce and tomato.

One recipe that did catch my eye was African vegetables - but the photo again was awful.  And its not that all the recipes are trying to be really easy - the majority of them have more than 12 ingredients in them!


So I have to say, this book is not my style.  The recipes don't grab me, many have lots of ingredients, there are no gluten free options (but it also doesn't suggest it is gluten free), there is quite a lot of sucanat in several recipes...and there is not one recipe that I have thought I wanted to try.

There are plenty of other plant based, no added oil, sugar or salt cookbooks I would recommend over this one.

So do yourself a favor - read The China Study and Colin Campbell's new book Whole, but skip the cookbook.
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Quick and easy bran muffins


These healthy bran muffins probably took 30 minutes from start to eating!  Not bad, I'd say.


They were inspired by a box of rice bran I had in the cupboard and that had been in the cupboard quite a while - unopened.    I was sitting fancying a sweet-ish snack and the idea of a bran muffin came into my head.

Each muffin has more than 6g of fiber in it, is gluten free, dairy free - and there's no added oil.



Here's the recipe if you want to make something quick, easy and healthy.

Makes 6 regular size muffins
3/4 cup bran (I used rice bran)
1/2 cup whole grain flour (I used GF sorghum)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
7 tbs non dairy milk (I used flax milk)
1 small pot of unsweetened organic applesauce (4oz)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic raisins

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Use a silicone muffin tray or muffin baking papers.

In a mixing bowl, mix the bran with flour and baking powder and soda.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

Spoon into the muffin cups and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until a toothpick insert inside one, comes our clean, or when pressing the top of the muffin, it returns its shape.

Cool on a rack - if you aren't tempted to eat them while fresh and warm!


The raisins can be omitted or substituted with nuts or other dried fruit.
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Vegan gluten free scone recipe



In my book club this month, the chosen book was Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I'd never read any Daphne Du Maurier books before but really got into Rebecca and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The person hosting our discussion decided, true to the book, that she would put on an English tea with scones - as Mr and Mrs de Winter had every day at Manderley, in the book.


As I need gluten free food and don't eat animal foods or sugar, I offered to make my own scone - rather than have her make something special for me. I've actually never made gluten free scones before, never mind vegan gluten free scones, so it seemed like a good challenge.

And I've had some success.  I did actually use a little fat in the recipe. Normally I bake without oil but I was changing so many things in a recipe that I left in the fat.

The scones have a wonderful texture to them and taste just like a good scone should.



They didn't rise in the oven however and didn't brown on top as you would expect from a traditional scone but I rolled them thick so they didn't look flat - and the taste more than made up for lack of browning.

I had them with homemade sugar free plum chia jam.  Delicious.

Here's the recipe: Makes 6
150 ml non dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
270g gluten free flour mix
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp vegan margarine (I used earth balance)
25g raisins
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425F or 220C.  Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2. Add the vinegar to the milk and let sit.
3. Sieve the flour into a bowl and stir in the baking powder.
4. Rub in the margarine with your fingers until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in the sugar and raisins.
6. Add nearly all the milk solution and bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough. Don't over work.
7. If necessary add the remaining milk to bind it all together.
8. Roll out gently on a floured board to a thickness of about 1 inch.
9. Cut out the dough with a pastry cutter and place the scones on the baking tray.
10. Reroll the dough scraps as needed to use it all up.
11. Bake the scones for around 20 minutes.
12. Leave to cool and enjoy with sugar free jam and coconut cream, if desired.



They are best eaten the same day that you make them. I will be trying the recipe again, without the fat and will let you know how I get on. I think I'll do savory scones next too.....with some nutritional yeast in them to give a cheesy flavor.

I hope Mrs de Winters would be satisfied and wouldn't return them to the kitchen!  I think she'd enjoy them, like I have!
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Fig and Broccoli Tartine

One of the dishes we made in our Food as Medicine classes this week was Fig and Broccoli tartine. Tartine is the French word for open faced sandwich. It sounds so much nicer than just "sandwich".



These are lovely - and you can really be creative with your toppings, depending what is in season. I just happened to see some green figs for sale and our fig tree doesn't ripen until the fall, so thought it would be nice to use those - but you could put anything on top of the broccoli.


I don't generally eat a lot of broccoli - no specific reason, just that I don't seem to use it much - but this is a great way to serve raw broccoli and get all the benefits of some good cruciferous vegetables.

Here's the recipe:

Broccoli spread
1 head of broccoli
2 stems of basil
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 garlic cloves
Approx 1/2 cup water
Pepper to taste

Tartine
Artisan 100% whole grain bread, thinly sliced
Fresh figs, sliced

Decorate/garnish: pea shoots, pomegranate seeds
Drizzle:  fig or pomegranate balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses

Combine all the ingredients for the broccoli spread in a blender or food processor with half of the water and puree. Add more water as needed until smooth, stopping and scraping down as necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add more water if it seems dry.
Toast the bread.
Spread the broccoli spread generously on the toast.
Top with figs, pea shoots, pomegranate seeds and drizzle sparingly with balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses.

Instead of the pea shoots, you could try leafy sprouts or thinly sliced radish or anything that makes it look pretty!

As the bread we used was whole wheat, I made my own gluten free tartine using a square quinoa/rice cake - and it looked just as pretty - maybe even prettier, as you can see in the above 2 photos!



Another variation for those with nut allergies is using chickpeas instead of hazelnuts in the broccoli spread. I've made it using one drained can of chickpeas and no nuts.  The spread can also be used as a pesto for pasta or vegetables, by adding a little more water to it.

So get your creative hat on and think about some pretty tartines for summer lunches, or even dinners on hot evenings.
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Thursday's Food as Medicine group - final class

Yesterday was the final class for my Thursday group.  10 months together.  I'll miss them.


We had  a lovely few hours - covered a lot of things and made some yummy healthy food together.  We ate a rainbow - with no added sugar, salt, or oil - and no dairy or gluten either. I'll share some of the recipes soon.

The photos are after we'd eaten most of the lunch together with only the sugar free chocolate mousse remaining.


Two new classes start in September.....so I only have one group continuing through the summer now.

Time to get planning some new things, I think.

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Apricot Chia jam - no added sugar

My parents came to stay with me last week - so I spent one afternoon doing a few things at home with my mum. One of them was making jam.

We made strawberry balsamic chia jam first - using just three ingredients - fresh, yummy, small, local strawberries, chia seeds, and balsamic vinegar. No sugar was used - the strawberries were definitely sweet enough and the chia seeds acted as the gel for the jam.


Delicious.

But then my mum asked how we could adapt the recipe to use apricots - as she loves apricots.  So we had a go, with dried apricots.  It worked well.  Instead of the balsamic vinegar, we used ginger - so apricot and ginger chia jam - with no added sugar!



Basically, we cooked the apricots and ginger in water for about 5 minutes, pureed them in a blender - but still kept some texture, added some chia seeds and simmered for 15 minutes until thickened.  Voila! No added sugar apricot jam!

My mum bought us Shaun the sheep oven gloves during their visit, so they had to come in the photo too!!!


Do you know Shaun the sheep? You should!  He's cool.
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Food as Medicine group

We had two great mornings in our food as medicine groups this week - focusing on the health benefits of legumes, beans and lentils.


Here is the Tuesday group, as we sat down for a 4 course lunch together, eating what they had cooked together.


The menu was:

  • Lentil and caper pate with lentil chips
  • White bean pesto with poppadoms
  • Sugar snap pea and blood orange salad
  • Moroccan Bean stew (using black beans, garbanzo beans and red lentils)
  • Not-so-dumb blondies (using cannellini beans)
  • Mandarinquat brownies (using black beans)
Most of us don't get enough fiber in our diets and beans are a wonderful was to increase our fiber intake.  I love using the "Eden Foods" brands of cooked beans in my cooking, as they are cooked with kombu - a sea vegetable that helps to break down the oligosaccharides in beans, which is the part that causes gas.  Soaking your beans helps too - along with good rinsing - as the oligosaccharide is water soluble. Gas shouldn't be your reason for not eating beans! There are many ways to avoid it.


Beans help with :
  • stabilizing gut transit time - not too fast so that nutrients can't be absorbed and not too slow so toxins can't be reabsorbed
  • heart health, 
  • are an EXCELLENT source of anti-oxidants (more than blueberries), 
  • help maintain a healthy gut flora
  • high in folic acid and B6
  • are a good protein source
  • high in iron, magnesium and calcium
  • a good source of molybdenum
  • stabilizing blood sugar levels
  • eliminating toxins, carcinogens and excess hormones
  • producing butyrate from your gut bacteria which heals and protects the lining of the large investine.
So go eat some beans today!  
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Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish you a Happy, Healthy (and plant-focused) Thanksgiving.


I am currently in England have a wonderful time with family.  Hope you are sharing this special time with special people in your life too.
R x


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Harvest and Food as medicine

It's been a busy week this week.  As well as many of my usual things, I started two new "Food as Medicine" groups this week, AND we harvested our Godello grapes in the vineyard! More on the harvest soon.


The two new "Food as Medicine" groups were on Tuesday and Thursday. Each group consists of 9 women, and we will meet once a month.  This month we looked at some of the benefits of eating a whole foods plant-based diet, with a focus on the benefits of avoiding dairy in our diets.

After some time in discussion, we donned our aprons in the kitchen and went about making and tasting the following:

  • almond milk
  • brown rice milk
  • oat milk
  • cashew cream
  • whipped coconut cream
  • soft cashew cheese
  • cheese sprinkles
  • cheese cake
all without any dairy or animal products in sight!


Sadly we were so involved, I forgot to take any photos!  

The recipes for the milks are already on this blog, as is the recipe for the cashew nut cheese.

The cheese sprinkles were a great hit.  They are a non-dairy alternative to parmesan cheese or other types of cheese that you may sprinkle on caesar salad, vegetables, or pasta or....  The recipe came from the book "Let them eat vegan" and here is a link to the vegan parmesan cheese recipe by Dreena Burton.


The cheesecake went down very well, so I'll have to make that again and take some photos to share with you.

I really enjoyed our time together, and hope they all did too.  Looking forward to next month already.
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