Lemon cheesy roasted vegetables


I served my lemon tamari chickpeas from yesterday's recipe with lemon cheesy roasted veggies for dinner, so I thought I'd share that recipe with you too - even though its so simple, it hardly needs a recipe.


Often times however, people just roast veggies in oil but I love the addition of lemon juice and zest.

Ingredients:
Variety of vegetables cut into small pieces, with tougher veg cut smaller than soft veg - enough for a large baking sheet/pan.
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
Grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Approx 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (heavy sprinkle - but optional)

Preheat oven to 415F. Mix the first 5 ingredients together on a large baking sheet, lined with a non-stick liner (see yesterday's post for my favorite).  Sprinkle heavily with nutritional yeast and gently mix.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes then toss them around, adding another sprinkle of nutritional yeast, and roast for an additional 10-20 minutes.

Serve hot or cold.


The veggies I used were what was on hand: blue potatoes (I love blue potatoes!), red onion, multi-colored carrots, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus, but you can chose your favorites.  Think of a rainbow as you select however, trying to get lots of different colors. You can see from the photos that I got orange, yellow, green, and blue/purple in there, so plenty of color just on one dish.


If you aren't familiar with nutritional yeast, it brings a really cheesy flavor to dishes - so is perfect for those who are dairy free or vegan. It is also a great source of B vitamins so for those who are gluten free and not eating many grains, or anyone who isn't getting many B vitamins, adding nutritional yeast gives a real boost to your B vitamin levels.
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Grilled/Barbecued whole cauliflower

I've tried baking cauliflower whole in the oven and like it that way, but recently I found a recipe to bake it whole on the barbecue, using indirect heat. It sounded great - and in fact, it turned out to be the best cauliflower I have ever eaten.   John loved it too.



It was perfectly cooked throughout - not too hard in the middle and not too soft on the outside. The coating was delicious and added a bit of flavor to it.  Give it a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


The recipe was inspired from one by J.M Hirsch.

Ingredients
1 large head cauliflower
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the grill to medium heat. The cauliflower will be cooked on indirect heat, so either move the coals to one side or on a gas grill, light the burners only on one half.

Trim the leaves from the cauliflower and cut the stem so it doesn't protrude from the bottom of the cauliflower. You want it to be able to stand up.

In a shallow bowl, mix the remaining ingredients and whisk together.  Overturn the cauliflower into the bowl and coat it thoroughly with the mixture, making sure it gets onto the whole head, using a spoon as necessary.

Set the head right side up on a piece of foil on the grill and spoon any remaining mixture over the top.  Cover and cook for 1 hour or until lightly browned.


Let it cool slightly, then slice into wedges like a pie, and enjoy.
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Oatmeal smoothie or my green tinge smoothie

I've been making a new breakfast smoothie lately instead of having oatmeal or muesli.  I'm loving it so I thought I'd share it with you.  While initially it was my "oatmeal smoothie", for the last few days, I've been adding a green tinge to it - not from veggies, but from green tea, so now its my "green tinge" smoothie. Yes, another way to get green tea into my diet when I don't like the taste of green tea!  And just a tinge of green as sometimes, I just don't fancy veggies for my breakfast!


I vary it most days but the basics are:
1/4 cup rolled GF oats
1 cup organic, unsweetened soy milk
1 small banana
1/2 tablespoon matcha green tea
1 tbsp of sun choke or yacon syrup (optional)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed.

Here the reasons for my ingredient selection:
I use soy milk in this, as it has a higher protein level than other non-dairy milks.  While I am definitely not one to say we need a lot of protein in our diets, it is good to have a little in every meal/snack.  Almond milk, which I like a lot, only has 1g protein per cup, whereas soy milk has 9g per cup.  I need about 45g a day so this smoothie provides about 15g in total - a third of my daily needs.


The sunchoke syrup - or as its called above, sunroot sweetener, is a relatively new product on the market and worth a try for its health benefits  It is a prebiotic made from sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes. Prebiotics are functional foods that your "good" gut bacteria thrive on. Basically it is something that we can't digest ourselves, so it passes to the colon and, bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria just eat it up! They thrive and their numbers increase and that helps us thrive.  Yacon syrup is a similar product but made from yacon root ( and is more expensive!).  It is a syrup - even though its only made from sunchokes/yacons, so can be used as a sweetener. I don't think this smoothie needs sweetening actually, but I use it for its prebiotic component.  1 tbsp has 7g of fiber in it. Added to my flaxseed in this smoothie and other ingredients and I'm getting a total of 14g a fiber, just for breakfast.

Our lovely green nectarines are ripe on the tree right now so I've been swapping out the banana for them some mornings, so choose whatever fruit you have ripe right now.  I actually prefer it with the nectarines - but I'm using the ones that fall on the ground so as not to waste the perfect ones. Yes, they are green - outside and in. Not sure what the varietal is but they are wonderful.

What's your morning smoothie right now with all this yummy fruit and veggies in abundance? Share your recipe.
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Red White and Blue 4th July Potato Salad

Wondering what to make that is a little different for your 4th July gathering - try this potato salad. I make it with red white and blue potatoes all the time - but for the 4th July, it is a must to have those colors!


It uses fresh horseradish but if you can't find that, you can use the jars of horseradish but the fresh is best.  Don't be put off by the strong aroma as you grate it - use the full inch - the dish can take it! It's not too hot.

Ingredients:

Approximately 2lbs red, white and blue small potatoes
15 - 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise to reveal the peas
1 large handful of chopped dill

Dressing:
1 inch fresh horseradish, grated
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp walnut or nut butter of your choice

If the potatoes are large, cut into small piece.  Place in a saucepan and cover with hot or cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Test with a small sharp knife - they hold fall off the knife when they are cooked sufficiently.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Combine the tomatoes, peas and dill in a large salad bowl.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients.  When the potatoes have cooled. Add them to the salad bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss to coat.

This is a great prepare ahead salad as it doesn't have wilting greens in it. Its even good the next day.

Have a rainbow colored 4th July in the foods that you eat!

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#100happydays - Berr-i-licious delight

Day 7 of my 100 happy days - and this berr-i-licious delight smoothie made me happy.

No veggies in this one, just crammed with berries. We should try and eat berries everyday as they are highly nutritious fruits, lower in sugar and packed full of anti-oxidants and phytonutrients and plenty of fiber too.

Here's the recipe: Serves 2
2 cups almond milk
4 tablespoon flax seed ( use ground flax seed if you don't have a powerful blender)
2 scoops of probiotic powder
1 tablespoon organic rose hip powder
3/4 cup organic raspberries
1/4 cup dried wild lingonberries.

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


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#100happydays - Creamy Dreamy Greeny Smoothie

Today is day 3 of my #100happydays.  And the day started out happy with a creamy dreamy greeny smoothie!  Packed with lots of nutrients, it set my day off to a good start.

Here is the recipe:
1 cup almond milk
1 cup baby spinach or kale
1/2 banana
1 tablespoon walnut butter
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Scoop of probiotic powder
1/2 lemon

Just put it all in the blender and blended until smooth and creamy dreamy!

The lemon is all the lemon - rind, juice, pulp. Just cut the lemon in half and add it.

There are more scientific studies on the healing powers of Turmeric than any other food.  It's good to start off smoothies with 1/2 teaspoon, but as you get used to the taste, you can increase the level of turmeric.  Studies show powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

The leafy greens provide good phytonutrients and if you use kale, you get the benefits of cruciferous vegetables which help in detoxifying the body every day.

The flax and walnut butter provide a good source of omega 3 fatty acids - essential fats that we need in our diet for reducing inflammation and improving brain function.  This smoothie gives you more than 3g omega 3 fatty acids. In addition,  the flax is a good source of fiber and lignans.  The smoothie gives you 9g of fiber.

And the probiotic supports our gut health which is so key to our whole health.  I use Custom probiotics powder.

So start your day off green and maybe that will color your whole day :-D
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Two-minute fruit snack bar

This afternoon, I wanted a cookie or something sweet to go with my cup of hibiscus tea, but the cupboard was bare!

And my hubby had already made my tea so it had to be fast!  What could I do?

I decided on some 2-minute bars. It took 2 minutes to whizz some fruits and nuts in the food processor. Then I quickly cooled them. You can use the fridge, but as I was in a hurry, I popped them in the freezer, so it only added 5 minutes. They were done and ready while my tea was still brewing! Perfect timing :=D


They are one of those flexible recipes that you can swap and change.  Here is what I planned to use and then I'll tell you how I swapped it up with what was in the cupboard:

In a food processor, combine:

1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup dried (unsulfured) apricots
1 cup dried coconut
2 tablespoons lemon juice

until they come together.  If it is too dry (depends on how dry your dried fruit is) add a little more lemon juice. The "dough" should start to go in one clump around the food processor, but it takes a couple of minutes.

Press the dough into a parchment lined square baking tin or roll into small balls.  Chill to firm up either in the fridge or if you are in a hurry like me, just a few minutes in the freezer!  Cut into 12 bars or eat as fruit balls.


My adjustments:  I didn't quite have enough almonds so I used just over a cup of almond flour and made up the rest with Chestnut flour. I didn't quite have enough apricots either, so about 1/4 cup was prunes. The coconut I had was the wide sliced, flaked, not finely shredded.  The lemon juice was actually lemon juice!!!  Next time, I'm going to try hemp seeds instead of the coconut.

Its good to use unsulfured dried apricots, as although they aren't quite as pretty as they are brown instead of orange, sulfites can cause adverse reactions in 1out of 100 people.  This can be particularly serious in people with asthma. In a recipe like this, you don't even miss the orange color, so purchase organic dried apricots and they won't have any sulphites in them.


A quick sweet bite that is very satisfying and you don't need too much.
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Green Tea and Ginger Oatmeal

I've mentioned before on this blog that I don't like the taste of green tea if I'm drinking it. However, I do love all the healing aspects of green tea with its high antioxidant levels, EGCG, anti cancer effects, anti-inflammatory effects etc etc and so I try to cook with it instead of drinking it.


I often boil my rice or quinoa or other grains in water with matcha green tea powder, or use green tea bags in the water. I make a green buddha bowl that I love.....but lately I've been wondering about how else I could incorporate it in my cooking - and I came up with the idea of adding it to my oatmeal water!


Ta Da!  Green Tea and ginger oatmeal was born!  Yes, it has a green tinge to it - but I - and you can get over that!


Its tasty but doesn't taste of green tea! The whole idea.

Here is how I made it:

1 cup water
1 tsp matcha green tea powder or 2 green tea teabags
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used gluten free)
2 tablespoons of ground flax seed
Ginger pieces - to your taste
1/4 cup goldenberries

Add the matcha tea or tea bags to the water in a small saucepan and bring to just below a boil.  Remove the teabags if using.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 5 - 10 minutes.  The flax does thicken it so if you prefer runny oatmeal, add some more water.

Serve with additional fruit or ginger on top and non dairy milk, if you choose.  (The ginger I used was rehydrated dried ginger - I just keep some in water in the fridge or you can use crystallized and wash off the excess sugar.)

And to think for my breakfast, I've started the day with the omega 3 fats that I need from the flax seed, plenty of fiber and vitamins from the oats, the healing benefits of green tea, anti-inflammatory effects of ginger, anti oxidants from golden berries...and its only 8am!!!

Hope your new year starts are well as my day has started today.  Wishing you a happy, healthy, and hopeful 2014. xxxx
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Cherry Walnut squares with chocolate drizzle

In the cooking park of my classes last week, I wanted to make a nice treat that included some omega 3 fatty acids....so I adapted a recipe I got from Dr Fuhrman's latest cookbook " Eat to Live Cookbook".   I definitely recommend the book.  I often use his recipes.



He used equal amounts of walnuts and almonds in his recipe (1 cup of each) , but I tried it just with walnuts.   You get a much higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats if you use all walnuts, but choose for yourself.  Also, I love Montmorency dried cherries, so included those instead of goji berries.

What I love about these squares is that they live in the freezer and you just pull them out as you want one. They don't get too hard so you can eat them straight out of the freezer - or else you could warm them or let them defrost - but I doubt if you can resist it that long!


Its a tasty treat with omega 3 fats, good soluble fiber from oats, anthocyanins and antioxidants from the cherries, along with melatonin to help sleep/circadian rhythm, dates and banana for sweetness instead of refined sugar and just a little drizzle of  good quality chocolate - that makes it feel quite decadent.

Here's my recipe:

1 1/2 cups old fashioned/rolled oats (I used gluten free)
2 cups walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup water
1 banana
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used Eden's Montmorency cherries but any dried fruit/berry will work)
1 ounce >75% cocoa dark chocolate (I used Equal Exchange Panama Extra Dark 80% chocolate)

  • In a blender or processor, blend the oats until they look like flour.  Empty into a mixing bowl.  
  • Repeat with the walnuts, but don't over-process or they will start to release their oils and turn into nut butter.  Add to the bowl with the oat flour.
  • Put the dates and water into a high speed blender and process until it forms a slurry.  Add the banana and continue to blend until smooth and not large pieces of dates are evident.
  • Add the date mixture to the oats and walnuts and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla and cherries.

  • Line a 8 inch square cake pan with foil or parchment - with overhang so you can easily pull the whole thing out.  Put the dough into the pan and spread evenly.  Smooth the top by using a knife or back of a spoon, dipped in water.
  • Place in the freezer for approx 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the chocolate, broken into pieces, in a small bowl, and set over a larger bowl of hot water to melt the chocolate. Take care not to get water into the chocolate.
  • When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the dough from the freezer and lift it out whole on the parchment paper.  Cut the block into 36 small squares ( you can do larger if you like, but you'll find just one small square quite satisfying).  Don't lift them off the parchment - keep them in place.
  • Using the small spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the whole block of the dough in diagonal lines.
  • Return to the freezer, wrapped in the parchment or place in a container and store in the freezer, for a guilt free snack.  

The recipe is gluten free (if you use gluten free rolled oats), oil free, refined sugar free, vegan and tastes like a nice treat.   Health benefits come from the omega 3 fatty acids, the fiber, anthocyanins, cinnamon,  cocoa.......  
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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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Baked Oatmeal to go

I often hear people tell me that they eat oatmeal some mornings for breakfast but when they are in a rush, they often choose something less healthy and sustaining.  "Why not try baked oatmeal?" I say - so today's recipe is an easy grab and go baked oatmeal.  Make it at the beginning of the week and you have nearly a week's worth!



This recipe was also good timing for me as we leave today to go back to England for a couple of weeks.  I always take my own food on the plane so I have been thinking what to take for my in-the-air breakfast. I figured if  I baked my oatmeal in muffin cases, they would work perfectly!


And voila!  I also used up some of my quince puree too before we leave - but if you don't have quince, you can use unsweetened applesauce instead.  This quince oatmeal to go is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and with no added sugar or fat.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 banana broken/chopped into little pieces
1/8 cup flaxseeds (whole or ground)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs cardamom powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup non dairy milk
1/4 cup quince puree or apple sauce/puree

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spoon into 7 muffin cases in a muffin pan.  Bake at 375F for 35 minutes.

To serve - just grab and enjoy if you are on the go or if you do happen to be at home, you can break one up in a bowl and pour over some extra warm non-dairy milk. Store in the fridge.


(Bet you end up having them not just at breakfast time!!! I've got to make sure I don't eat them all before I fly off.)
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Quince and Matcha smoothie

The classes I have been teaching this week have been focusing on the immune system and sustained inflammation in the body.  One of the foods that is important in this area is Green Tea.   Green tea consumption can lead to an increase in the production of  Treg cells which stop inflammation, and act as an off switch to the killer T cells and B cells in our immune system which cause inflammation.  While we need those killer T cells and B cells at certain times - it is when they become out of balance and dysregulated that we get immune issues and sustained/chronic inflammation that leads to disease.


However,  I personally don't like the taste of green tea, and so I use it in cooking, instead of brewing it for a drink.

Today's quince recipe uses Matcha - which is ground green tea - in a smoothie.  Matcha a great source of green tea as you eat the powdered leaves -  so its not just a steeping of the leaves.  It is a little pricey,   but a little goes a long way so my jar has lasted a long time.

Here is today's breakfast smoothie that I am enjoying as I type:

Quince and Matcha Smoothie:


1 cup quince puree  (preparing quince blog post & after roasting, blend with a little water in a blender)
1 cup water
1 banana
3 handfuls of spinach
1 teaspoon matcha powder
2 tablespoons hemp hearts

Blend the ingredients together in a Vitamix or powerful blender and add more water if you prefer runnier smoothies!

Its a great way to start the day - omega 3 fats from the hemp hearts, and plenty of catechins from both the Matcha green tea and the quince - never mind all the phytonutrients in the spinach and banana.


As I was thinking up this recipe, lying in bed last night - an old song came into my head.  I wonder if you know it.  I was thinking about the colors in the smoothie ... "green and yellow, green and yellow, Mother come quick....."

Did any of you sing it as kids?  Its not a nice song and I hate to associate it with a delicious smoothie but as all the ingredients are green and yellow, its tricky not too!  I can bet my sister is singing it as she reads this however!   The song is all about this little boy Henry, who doesn't feel well and has been eating worms. His mother asks what color were the worms - "green and yellow"!  We used to sing it in the car as we were travelling somewhere - with a few actions too!!!  But this smoothie won't make you feel ill like green and yellow worms do - I can assure you,  so try it and enjoy it!
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Rosehip, Quince and Clove granola

What a combination: Rosehip, quince and cloves!  It tastes so rich and full in the mouth.  And this granola  - while it has these three great healthy and yummy ingredients - is also happily lacking in 3 not-so-great ingredients - it doesn't have gluten, added oil nor added sugar.

Rosehip, Quince and Clove granola served with
almond milk, pomegranate seeds and homegrown passion fruit

A healthy, spicy, rich granola - perfect for fall and winter.

For this recipe, I took some of the roasted quince that I described in Monday's blog and pureed them in a blender with just a touch of water.



The recipe for the granola is as follows:

2 cups of grains (- I used 1 cup GF rolled oats plus 1 cup of GF unsweetened puffed brown rice)
4 tablespoons rosehip powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup pureed quince

Mix all the ingredients together and then place on a baking sheet or shallow dish.

Bake at 375F for 10 minutes then remove and stir well.  Put back in the oven for another 5 - 10 minutes until dried and starting to go crunchy. You need to keep an eye on at it during this time to check the outside parts aren't over cooking.

Remove from the oven and enjoy for breakfast or a snack.

You can add nuts and dried fruit to this recipe too. Add the nuts before cooking but add the fruit after cooking.


What a great start to the day: Serve it with non dairy milk/yoghurt and we get the fiber and catechins from the quince; more fiber from the oats and brown rice; anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects from the cloves, quince and rose hip; and plenty of vitamin C from the quince and rosehip.



And all that with NO added sugar, oil, salt and no gluten.

You will love the combination of rose hip, quince and clove.  When are you coming over for breakfast?
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My Cashmere Sweater Cocktail.

I don't have cocktails very often, but I have to confess that in quince season, I am more tempted! You see I have a wonderful quince and clove cocktail that just feels, and tastes, so good in the fall and winter time.




You know those days when its dark when you get home, its a little chilly, you want to feel cozy and relaxed....well, I make myself a quince and clove cocktail!  It hits the spot, I have to tell you.  Its like putting on a luscious cashmere sweater and feeling all warm and cuddled.  Thus it is my cashmere sweater cocktail

When I was in England last winter, I bought some clove cordial.  It is alcoholic - not just a fruit cordial!  But its only 5% alcohol - so less than wine.  If you get some, be prepared - it is very pink as the name "Pink Cloves" describes!


To make the cocktail, basically, you take the roasted quince that I described in yesterday's blog post and puree it in a good blender like a vitamix.



Take some of the puree, add the Pink Clove cordial and then top up with sparkling water or tonic water. For rough quantities - see the photo below.


And voila - a pretty peachy colored cocktail -  which isn't very alcoholic - but cuddles you like a luscious cashmere sweater!   If you want more kick, you can also add gin to it - so I hear!!!

What is your version of a cashmere sweater cocktail?  I think another for me would be a whisky mac. That's more a rainy day or snowy day one however.
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Rosehip truffles revisited

I made a second batch of rosehip truffles as we have friends coming around today.  Thursday I posted the recipe - and it was one of the few recipes written by someone else that I didn't tweak and change anything on - as it seemed perfect.



However, today I did do something different and I prefer it - so you may want to give it a try - or not.  I still think both versions are great.

It was just in the dusting part. Instead of mixing the rosehip powder with cocoa powder and dusting the truffles, I just used the rose hip powder.


2 reasons:

  1. I like the color of the rosehip powder showing on the outside. Its a different color - yellowy, orangey, peachy - and will attract people to them, wondering what it is.  It sets you up for it being  a more fruity taste of truffle rather than a rich chocolate truffle
  2. We don't need chocolate or cocoa to be in all our truffles. I like the idea of these being chocolate free and more fruity and spicy instead.
Here's the recipe again in case you missed it:
Makes 20 truffles:

3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup unsulphured dried apricots
4 tbsp ground rose hip powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For Dusting - 2 tbsp rose hip powder

Process the nuts in the food processor to finely chop them.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, (except for the dusting rose hip powder).  Process for approx 1 minute until it forms into a ball and starts to stick together.

Place the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and divide into 1/2 tablespoon balls.  Roll the balls in your hands, compacting the mixture as you roll.

Roll the balls in the dusting mixture and then refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.


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Making Pumpkin Gnoochi - how should it taste?

I'm making pumpkin Gnocchi!  Its fun to make and fast but I do have one problem.



I've never eaten gnocchi before!  So what does it taste like? What should I be looking for in texture?  You see gnocchi is made with wheat flour - even potato ones have wheat in them and as I can't eat gluten, I've never tried them. In England, I've never even seen them on a menu....maybe they are nowadays, but not when I lived there.  Today I've made some with garbanzo bean flour and pumpkin!


They were quick and I loved rolling, cutting and marking them with a fork.

I guess if I like the taste, that is all that matters...but if you have any tips on the texture I should be going for - let me know!  Can't even ask my hubby as he has had potato gnocchi before but hates pumpkin so wouldn't want these!


I'll be cooking them for my lunch with some fresh sage!  I need some sage advice!



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Coconut lemon truffles

We picked our first ripe lemon of the season from one of our lemon trees this week.  I have missed having so many lemons within easy reach.  It'll take a few weeks for us to get into full crop - but the first just had such a lovely smell and really made me salivate.


So what to make with it that would celebrate its lovely flavor....?

Lemon truffles!


And not sweet, so you can really enjoy the acidity of the lemon juice.

So here is the recipe: (makes 25 truffles)

Ingredients
1 cup almonds
Zest of one lemon (preferable just picked off your own tree!)
Juice of one lemon
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened organic desiccated shredded coconut (plus extra for dusting the truffles)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp sweet freedom or coconut nectar (if you want more sweetness, you can add an extra tablespoon)
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Blend all the ingredients together (except the extra coconut for dusting) in a food processor until it starts to bind together to form a dough (1-2 minutes).

Take approx 1/2 tablespoon of dough, roll it into a small ball and then roll it in the extra coconut.  Continue with the rest of the dough to make approximately 25 little truffles.  Place in the fridge, if you can resist them, for half an hour.



Can be kept at room temperature or in the fridge.

They make a lovely gift for a friend.  Take her a couple of lemons, a box of truffles and the recipe to make her own.
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A bowl of connection

When I made jewelry a few years ago, I sold exclusively online.  I had tried selling in galleries and stores but didn't like that I had no connection with the customers.  When I focused on online selling, you'd think I'd have been even more removed but it was quite the opposite.


I made some wonderful connections from customers, blog readers, Facebook readers, etc.  So frequently my customers would tell me their stories and how it related to the piece of jewelry I had made.  I had one guy tell me he was plucking up courage to propose to the girl her loved - even though he was really scared and hadn't told anyone else.  I had people tell me sad stories and how something I made helped them focus on the positive.  It was stunning and a real privilege to get to know people that way.

Since doing my health coaching, I've had less e-connections. Some from my blog, but not as many.   But one of them I do enjoy is with Mary Lou.  She found my facebook page and got in touch.  Now we are keen readers of each other posts.


A week or so ago she posted a lovely sounding recipe called The original Yumm Bowl from Cafe Yumm in Eugene, Oregon.  I thought it looked like a great lunch dish.  It is a Buddha Bowl - if you know what that is. Basically a bowl that starts with a grain like brown rice or quinoa and on top you add different veggies like avocado, black beans, garbanzos, tomato, leafy sprouts etc and then it all comes together by the addition of a yummy sauce.

So I changed the recipe a little - took out the oil and changed the dried herbs and beans to what I had in the cupboard - and delish!


I call it my "bowl of connection" as it was a lovely way to connect with Mary Lou and also because the sauce in the dish connects all the other ingredients together - binding it to create a whole, rather than separate ingredients.


Let me know if you give it a go.  If you do, I know you'll enjoy it. And of course, you can make it yours by adding what veggies and grains you like. I made a to-go version, used brown rice with lentils, quinoa and brown rice, pomegranate seeds, ....whatever was on hand.  A nice flexible lunch.

Hope you enjoy the connection.
For the "Connection" Sauce:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup ground almonds/almond meal
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup garbanzo beans
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (I used Madras)
2 teaspoons of dried Italian herb seasoning

For the "Connection" Bowl:
Brown rice and/or other grain
Black beans and/or garbanzos
Diced fresh tomato
Sliced avocado
Arugula sprouts or other leafy sprouts or cilantro

For the connection sauce: In a blender, process the almond meal, nutritional yeast, garbanzo beans, garlic, curry and italian herbs together until blended.

Scrape down the side of the blender and then, with the machine running, add the lemon juice and water in a steady stream.  Scrape down the bowl again and blend for 1 minute until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add more water if you want a runnier sauce.


Refrigerate the sauce as it will be enough for a few dishes.

To assemble the Bowl of Connection:
Put a scoop of rice/grain in the bottom of an individual bowl. Top with the other ingredients around the bowl and then pour the sauce in the center.  Enjoy!
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Flowered grainless granola



One of my most popular recipes is my no added sugar or oil, gluten free granola.  There are numerous variations you can made to it with different add-ins etc, so it is nice and versatile, depending on your own taste.  I still make the recipe regularly for myself - often keeping it plain and simple with 3 ingredients - oats, puffed brown rice, and unsweetened apple sauce. Then I just add whatever fruit is in season in our garden and some homemade soy yogurt - and I'm a happy girl!

However, eating grains can sometimes cause issues for people and lead to bloating, gas, pain and other symptoms.  Eliminating grains, refined sugar and dairy can sometimes help in this situation.



The reason behind this is that these food items contain fermentable carbohydrates that can promote overgrowth of bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut.

A plant based diet without grains, dairy and sugar can lead to favorable changes in the quality and quantity of intestinal microflora.  You should talk to your health care provider for more information on this so they can monitor your changes.



So while many of us eat cereal for breakfast,  if you are grain free - it gets tricky!  So today I decided to come up with my own recipe for a grain-free granola.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out. Its made with seeds, nuts and fruit - and dried flowers to make it look pretty and special.  Gluten free, no added sugar or oil. It is also suitable for those on a Paleo diet.  I love the addition of the flowers.  It gives the message that this isn't a hardship granola and you are missing out on grains. It gives something extra - a bonus of pretty flowers so there is no feeling of deprivation.

Here's the recipes:
1/2 cup raw organic almonds - roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw organic walnuts - roughly chopped
1/4 cup raw organic hazelnuts - roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw organic sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
one small pot (4oz) unsweetened, organic applesauce
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 dried edible flowers


  1. Heat the oven to 375 F
  2. Combine the nuts and seeds together and stir in the cinnamon.
  3. Add the applesauce and stir thoroughly until well combined.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and stir well, bringing the edges into the center so they don't burn.
  6. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes  - keeping an eye on it so the edges don't burn.
  7. If crispy and dry - remove from the oven.  If still a bit damp, give it another couple of minutes.
  8. Let cool.
  9. Add the raisins and edible flowers and mix.
This makes a delightful trail mix as well as a granola.

Obviously the recipe is very versatile. You can choose your own combination of seeds and nuts and fruits.  Omit the flowers or use the flowers.  Basically you need one small pot of applesauce for 1 3/4 - 2 cups of nuts/seeds.  If you use more, you'll have to add more applesauce.

If you don't have dried edible flowers, you can use a flower tea blend. There are some lovely ones out there.  So take a look and add some pretty to your breakfast!

But do bear in mind that this recipe is mainly nuts and seeds. While there is no added fat, the nuts and seeds are high in fat.  If you are trying to lose weight, this should be a consideration.  Nuts and seeds are good to having in our diet - but not too many.


It's funny how I used to have granola with milk or yogurt as the add-on.  Since making my own soy yogurt and loving it so much, I now have yogurt with granola as the add-on, that is the yogurt is the predominant factor.  This new flowery granola may switch things back - or maybe it'll even things out now - so I have equal amounts of granola and homemade yogurt!

What your favorite way to eat granola?
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The Best Homemade Soy Yogurt


My life has been transformed since I successfully started making organic soy, unsweetened yoghurt!  It makes me so happy. I want to get out of bed in the mornings, just so I can eat some yogurt!  It is so creamy and delicious and only has four ingredients:
  • organic soybeans
  • water
  • organic raw cashews
  • probiotics
The "active" part of making the recipe also takes only about 5 minutes.  Then it sits and ferments for 8 hours, then goes in the fridge - and is then ready to be gobbled up!

So here is the recipe for you to give it a try.  Let me know if it changes your life too!!

Ingredients
3/4 cup raw organic cashews, soaked in water for at least 1 hour, then drained
32 oz carton of WestSoy organic, unsweetened plain soy milk
3 probiotic capsules or 1 scoop probiotic powder. I use Custom probiotics CP1 or their 6 strain powder


1. Put approx. 1 cup of soy milk and the soaked cashews into a blender and process until smooth and creamy.


2. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the remaining 3 cups of milk.  Whisk to combine.

3. Warm over a low heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture reaches a temperature of 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) or if you don't have a thermometer, until a few drops on your wrist feels slightly warm.  Remove from the heat. Don't let it go above this temperature.



4. Open the probiotic capsules and add the contents into the milk - or add the powder and whisk to thoroughly combine.

5. Pour into a yogurt maker and switch on, for 8 hours. If you don't have a yogurt maker,  leave the mixture to rest in covered jar/pot in a warm place in the kitchen, for 8 hours.  Taste to check the desired degree of tartness in flavor.  If it isn't as tart as you like it, leave it another hour or two.  Then refrigerate - it will thicken more as it cools.

6. Store covered in the refrigerator for upto 2 weeks.

Notes on the recipe:
a) Most non dairy recipes are typically not very thick. Adding the cashews thickens this one nicely, without having to add any other thickeners.

b) I use an infrared thermometer (~$15) to measure the temperature of the milk.  I bought mine a few months ago and love it.  Basically nothing has to touch the food - it just shoots an infrared beam and measures the temperature from that.  No washing up!  It's also fun to play with around the house and check room temperatures, each other, draughts, etc etc!  You can of course use a regular thermometer or do the wrist heat test - but its not as much fun!


c) I haven't tried this with other milks or changed the cashew nuts for another nut.  That's because I love it as it is and if it ain't broke, don't fix it!  If you give it a try with something else, do report back and let me know how it goes.

d) The yogurt machine holds the yogurt at a constant 108F.  If you don't have one, try leaving it in a switched off electric oven with only the inside light switched on. This should give it enough warmth to ferment.  Or just put it in a warm place in the kitchen.  I've tried it both ways and even when I did it side by side, there was no difference.  If the temperature where you leave it is not that warm, you may need to give it 10 - 12 hours to ferment instead of just 8 hours.

e) The probiotic capsules work perfectly.  The company, customprobiotics sells a yogurt starter, but I've never tried it, as I had the probiotics and they work just fine. If your yogurt doesn't ferment, its probably because you have used a different probiotic that isn't "live"!

f) I have only used WestSoy milk for this recipe as it is made from only whole organic, non-GMO soybeans and water. No other ingredients.  It has a high protein level and reasonable fat content.  Don't try fat free as you need the fat to make the yoghurt thicken.


g) Once you've made your first batch, instead of re-inoculating subsequent batches with fresh probiotic every time, you can just keep approx. 1/4 cup of the previous batch of yogurt and add that to the milk and cashews. The bugs will still be alive.  I tend to do this for a few batches, but then start afresh with fresh probiotics every 6 or so times.

h) Sometimes some liquid separates slightly from the yoghurt. You can pour this off or just stir it in.  Your choice, depending on how thick you want the yoghurt.  You can also strain the yogurt and make soft cheese from it too.

i) If it doesn't set or get sour, its probably because your probiotics are no longer active. This should be a spoonable yogurt.


I start my day with my yogurt with added fruit grown in our garden - like pears and figs right now -- and then also use it at other times through the day - add it with some turmeric to steamed cauliflower, make a salad dressing with it. How will you use yours?

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Pickled Vegetables

I was taking lunch round to a friend's house recently so made an eggless fennel quiche and decided to accompany it with some pickled vegetables.


I don't recall ever pickling vegetables before, actually.  I make chutneys and sauces, but don't normally pickle.  So it was a fun thing to try.

As my hubby hates the smell of boiling vinegar, this was a job for outside!


I pickled pearl onions (white, yellow and red), some carrots, some radishes and beetroot.  Hands down, the onions won! They were wonderful.  But naturally, they were the most work with the peeling however!

I used a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine and the only things I changed were using coconut nectar sugar instead of white sugar and omitting the oil.

Here's the Pickled Vegetable Recipe


The recipe mentions that you do the beets last so the vinegar doesn't go red on the veggies, but actually the vinegar went red with the radish color!  The radish were my least favorite actually, as they lost all their color and just looked washed out and had lost some flavor.

So my recommendation is skip the radish and if you have the patience, do more onions!

Pickled vegetables are a good portable food, as you can put them in nice jars, and also pair really well with richer foods. They have a good crunch and the vinegar cuts through the richness of what they accompany.

And talking of Pickles, we do enjoy the comic strip Pickles - here's today's in case you don't know it:


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Shrub drinks - Strawberry and pink peppercorn shrub

I've only recently heard about shrubs.  And we aren't talking plants in the garden - but shrubs that are vinegar drinks used in cocktails or just added to sparkling water.  Have you heard of them or tried them?


I was intrigued when I read about them so decided to try making my own.


I bought some super delicious fresh organic strawberries and decided to add my favorite combo spice to them - pink peppercorns.  You may recall I've made a few strawberry and pink peppercorn things in the past - my favorite being shortbread (gluten free, dairy free).


So what are shrubs? They are basically fruit  syrup sweetened vinegars that you add to sparkling water or soda water, or use as mixers in cocktails.  It's normally a fruit syrup, added to a vinegar and left for a couple of days and then strained.

The early English version of the shrub arose from medicinal cordials in the 15th century.  The drink then gained popularity in the 1680s among smugglers who were trying to avoid paying taxes.  The smugglers would sink barrels of spirits off-shore to be retrieved when no one was looking, but the sea water ruined the taste of the alcohol somewhat, so the smugglers added fruit syrups to improve the taste.


The American version started from the preservation of berries and other fruits using vinegar, as an alternative to using citrus juice.   The fruit preserves were known as shrubs and it became popular to pour vinegar over fruit and let it infuse overnight or several days, then strain off the fruit, add a little sweetener and you have a syrup for cocktails.

Shrubs seem to have fallen out of favor with the advent of refrigeration, but came back in 2011 in some American bars and restaurants.  They now seem to be spreading to Canada and London.  The acidity of the vinegar makes for a good aperitif or as an alternative to bitters in cocktails.


I made it as something to just add interest to sparkling water. We have "cocktail" hour at home at 5pm. This is the time that my parrot Harold starts getting noisy and wants his "cocktail" which is a cashew nut.  Just like Harold's cocktail isn't a real cocktail, so ours frequently aren't either - but its a time for us to stop for the day.  I like having my shrub in water at that time.  It is an interesting taste and tastes like a "special" drink, rather than water.  My own virgin cocktail.


When I came to make my own shrub, as  most shrubs use fruit syrups which are high in sugar, I decided I'd make a sugar free version instead.

Here's my recipe
3/4 cup chopped ripe strawberries
1 tablespoon coconut nectar or sweet freedom
1 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns (I ground them in a coffee grinder)
1 cup white balsamic vinegar

In a small mixing bowl, add the chopped strawberries, sweetener and peppercorns.  Toss/mash to combine and let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Add the vinegar and transfer the mixture to a sterilized glass jar
Allow the mixture to rest in the fridge for 2 days, then strain through a fine mesh sieve or cloth. Discard the fruit
The shrub will keep for 1 month in the fridge.
I just put a little amount in the bottom of my glass before adding sparkling water or soda water.  Its very refreshing.


Since making my own, a friend just bought me some flavored balsamic vinegars by Amphora. I got a Blenheim Apricot white balsamic vinegar and a Pomegranate balsamic vinegar.  Because they are such lovely strong fruit flavors, I'm sat here now just enjoying a dash of the apricot vinegar with my water. If you don't have a particularly sweet tooth,  I guess its the quickest, easiest shrub you can have, as long as you have good quality flavored balsamic vinegar. There are a couple of commercial shrubs available too if you want to give them a go:






Let me know what you think if you give one a go, or try making one yourself.  Try serving them at your next dinner party.


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Healthy fudge recipe

If you are fancying a tasty treat, or want to make a healthy gift for a friend's birthday, try this healthy walnut fudge recipe.



Don't be put off by the ingredients - yes, it has black beans in it.  You don't taste them at all - and they provide a nice texture and great fiber in a treat.

Here is the recipe:
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 banana, cut in slices
1/2 cup raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup pitted dates
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup ground rolled oats/oat flour (grind rolled oats in coffee grinder or food processor)
2 tbs ground flax seeds
2 tbs chia seeds

Decorations:
Ground walnuts (ground in a coffee grinder or food processor)

Combine all the ingredients, except the ground walnuts, in a food processor and blend well until thoroughly mixed and a dough is formed.

Divide the mixture into 2 and from two long logs of dough on a board.

Roll each log in the ground walnuts to cover completely and as rolling, shape nicely.

Use a sharp knife to cut the logs into discs/rounds.  Store in the fridge and enjoy!

The recipe was inspired by Including Cake. It's a wonderful vegan fudge recipe with fruit, beans, no added sugar or oil, no dairy, and a good source of omega 3 plants based fats from flax and chia seeds.  They also add to the fiber content too.  In the photos, one fudge log was rolled in dessicated coconut and the other log in ground walnuts. I liked the walnut ones better than the coconut ones.  The coconut seemed to be a little overpowering and took away from the fudge, in my opinion.  You could try other ground/finely chopped ingredients too.
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Colorful potato salad

Look at this pretty potato salad!


Just love all the colors. And the flavors are just as vibrant.

It's another recipe from Vegetarian Everyday.  I used tri-colored small potatoes and they just make it even more colorful.  I love the idea of splitting the sugar snap peas down the middle to reveal the mini-peas inside. I recently did that to garnish a pea soup - but it looks lovely in this salad.  The sugar snaps are raw too, so add a nice crunch to the mix.



Along with tomatoes, sugar snap peas, horseradish and dill, this is a yummy salad.  I eat it as a meal. Nothing else is needs.



I've made it since with larger potatoes cut into small pieces - this time white and blue potatoes.  It just hits the spot.  It will definitely be a favorite for me this summer.  Imagine the extra color from heirloom tomatoes!

Have you got the cookbook yet?
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Red pepper and Rosemary Spread

This is one of the recipes from Vegetarian Everyday, that I blogged about last week.


A simple 6 ingredient recipe - two of which are salt and pepper!  Basically it is roasted red peppers, sunflower seeds, rosemary and lemon juice.



Most roasted pepper recipes talk of roasting the peppers then putting them in a brown bag to cool before peeling. This recipe doesn't include any bags - and it doesn't need it! Peppers peel just fine after roasting so I've never quite understood why the brown bag seems to come into play!


Anyhow- its a good peppery spread that I've used as both a spread on crackers or sandwiches,  as a dip, as a sauce, ....very versatile.

Beautiful color too!
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Overnight Omega 3 Oaty breakfast!

O-O-O breakfast!


I'm not sure if you are like me, but throughout the year, I usually stick to one of two breakfasts with maybe just varying the berries on top:    either my homemade gluten free, sugar free, granola or my homemade GF, sugar free muesli.  I think I just want to get up and not really think about creating something first thing - just reach in the cupboard, pull out my cereal and add a few sprinkles and non dairy milk and start eating.

But then I see all these pretty breakfasts in cookbooks and blogs, and all these smoothies, and I get a bit envious.  The taste of food begins very visually for me, so eating things that look good is important.  And yes, faithful granola and muesli - you do look good - but just not as "pretty" as some other breakfasts out there!

So I had the idea to try making something a bit prettier, but doing it the night before - while dinner is cooking. Then when I get up,  it'll all be ready in the fridge, and I won't even have to add milk!

And thus - two new breakfasts came about - that I made while dinner was cooking. Pretty Parfaits!  Today is the sweet mango banana version.  My Triple O breakfast!


Overnight Omega 3 oaty breakfast!

A lovely combination of oats, mangoes, bananas, flax and chia seeds and non dairy milk make up this overnight breakfast.

Part smoothie, part bircher muesli - a breakfast parfait with plenty of omega 3 essential fatty acids from the flax seeds, the chia seeds and I used flax milk as the non dairy milk!

Make it it in the evening, put it in the fridge and its ready for breakfast in the morning.

Here's the recipe (serves 2):

1 large mango or frozen mango pieces
2 bananas
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 cup gluten free oats
4 tablespoons chia seeds
1/3 cup flax milk or non-dairy milk


Peel the mango and cut away the flesh from the stone, or defrost if frozen, and add to a food processor with the bananas and ground flaxseed.  Blend until smooth and creamy.

In a bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds and non dairy milk, stirring well.

Pour half of the mango banana mix in the bottom of two glasses or bowls.  Top with the oat mix, and then add the remaining mango mix as a top layer.  Sprinkle with oats or chia seeds to decorate. Refrigerate overnight.  Serve cold.

Don't try and keep this more than overnight, as the banana in it begins to go a little brown.


This is a wonderful way to start your day with a great dose of omega 3 fatty acids from the flax and chia.  All too often our omega 6: omega 3 ratio is too low in omega 3s, so gives you a good dose in your first meal of the day.  Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory with lots of benefits to your health.

I used white chia seeds in this recipe as I think they look nicer, but you can use black ones instead. Nutritionally, there isn't a difference.

Tomorrow's pretty parfait is a berry parfait instead.  Stay tuned.

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Brussels Slaw with hazelnuts and dates

I made a lovely coleslaw recipe last week - using brussels sprouts instead of cabbage.  It doesn't taste of brussels sprouts however - and my husband who doesn't like sprouts enjoyed it and then a couple of people in my food as medicine class who don't like sprouts also enjoyed it!


Yeah - a way to enjoy the healthy cruciferous vegetable Brussels Sprouts!

I used a mandoline to slice the sprouts - only slicing until you get to the more solid stalk part, then discarded the real white piece.



Here's the recipe, which I adapted from one at Feasting at home:

2 cups brussels sprouts (approx 1/2 lb)
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped (approx 5 dates)
1/8 cup finely diced red onion
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut nectar or liquid sweetener
1/2 tablespoon walnut butter
Zest of one orange




  1. Finely slice the brussels, beginning at the top of each one and working down to the end, discarding the hard ends.  You can do this by hand or carefully with a mandolin! Place in a bowl.
  2. Slice the pitted dates and add to the brussels
  3. If not roasted, roast the hazelnuts in a dry pan for a few minutes.  Rub off the skins by placing the nuts in a tea towel and rubbing them together.  Place the roasted nuts in a ziploc bag and crush lightly with a rolling pin or back of a spoon.  Add to the brussels, along with the chopped onion and half the zest.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk the vinegar, coconut nectar and walnut butter and pour over the slaw. Mix well.  
  5. Serve in a bowl/plate, garnished with the remaining zest.
The zest of the orange seems to bring all the flavors together in harmony. I first tried it without, but it is far better with it.


It lasts a couple of days in the fridge - if you can stop eating it!

Let me know if you give it a try.  And yes, the correct term is Brussels Sprout - the S goes on the Brussels. They may have originated in Brussels, Belgium, but it is not certain.
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Summer Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce


I made some summer rolls using brown rice paper and nori seaweed.  Adding the nori seaweed sheet really stabilizes the rolls so they are less floppy and easier to roll - and eat.  Just put the moistened rice paper rounds down first and then cover with the nori sheet. Then pile on the veggies and roll it up.



I stuffed them full of lots of raw vegetables and then made a cashew dipping sauce to go with it.

Here's the recipe for the cashew dipping sauce:

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
1/2 small red pepper, deseeded
Dash of gluten free tamari
Squeeze of lime juice

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process briefly. Add water a little at a time to make a smooth sauce, of the consistency you prefer.

Yes, it's getting hot here! Up to 90 degrees today so cold food rule!



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Hemp Butter

I made some homemade hemp butter this week.



I used the little container that comes with my immersion blender and just blended the hemp seeds in that.  I've used the same process to make nut butters.  After a while, it didn't seem to be creaming into butter, so I added just a few cashews and that got it all going.

I like it.  It's not too grassy in taste.  I say that because I tried making hemp milk the other week and it just tasted really green and grassy. I didn't like it at all. But the butter is quite tasty and a good texture.


So - its a simple recipe - bunch of hemp seeds. Whizz and if it doesn't cream, add just a few cashew nuts!

Hemp seeds are a great source of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in a perfect ratio.
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Sugar-free Strawberry balsamic chia jam

I'm so excited with my new jam recipe!  For a few years now, I've been wanting to make jam without refined sugar and have tried it before with pectins to set the fruit, but its never been very successful.

Now however, I have a solution! As I've been preparing for my Food as Medicine class on fatty acids, I've been using chia seeds more and realized that I could use their gelling capacity to "set" the jam. So forget the pectin and use chia seeds instead.



It is so quick and easy to make, is high in fiber, high in essential fatty acids, you don't need the sugar, and just delicious.

Here's the recipe:

3 cups of sliced fresh strawberries
1 tbsp coconut nectar
1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In a medium saucepan, bring the fruit and coconut nectar to a low boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Use a potato masher to mash the fruit, but leaving a few pieces larger for texture.
Stir in the chia seeds and keep simmering over low heat, until it thickens (approx 15 minutes). Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.
When thickened, remove from the heat and add balsamic vinegar and stir.  Taste and pour into a jam jar. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

The balsamic vinegar really brings out the flavor of strawberries. If you use a different fruit you could add spices instead or vanilla extract.  If you use a less sweet fruit, you may need a little more coconut nectar, but wait until the end and taste it before you adjust.


You may be able to keep this jam longer than 2 weeks, but I haven't been able to, as its always eaten within a week!

I use it on toast (especially with homemade nutella), but also love a spoonful on my cereal in the morning. You could also try it on oatmeal, muesli, granola, cookies, on puddings, dairy-free ice cream.....Once you try it, you'll find lots of ways of using it.



You know I'm going to be using this idea in lots of different ways.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of the essential fatty acids - both omega 3 and omega 6, with a higher level of 3 compared to 6.
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Moroccan carrot dip

We have new friends coming around tonight for nibbles, and then we are all going out to dinner together.  I was hoping I had some basil to make the white bean basil dip, but didn't ...so I made a moroccan carrot dip instead, which I haven't done in a while.



I'm serving it with poppadoms and also slices of apple.

The dip is very simple, and so creamy.  You wouldn't think with carrots as the main ingredient that it would be thick and creamy.  Thanks go to the addition of a few cashew nuts: 1 cup carrots to 1/3 cup cashews. Put everything in the Vitamix and blend.  Carrots, cashews, cinnamon, coriander, cumin,.....gosh its a C-dip!!  Also has some vinegar, fennel seeds and ginger. Oh - and of course my sprinkle of black cumin seeds on top!  They get everywhere nowadays!


Deeeee-lish!
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Crispy Gluten free Flatbread


I made a lovely new flatbread recipe yesterday - with almond flour and flax seed.  I was so pleased with how it came out and the recipe yielded enough to freeze half of it.


I topped it with a pesto sauce with no added oil, some fresh tomatoes, red onion, red pepper and black cumin seeds!  The pesto was made with pumpkin seeds, cilantro, hemp seeds, lime and as I didn't have any spinach, I used some green lettuce!


It was so tasty.  I'll be using this recipe in my Food as Medicine classes next week, so will share it with you after that.



The flatbread is good as a dipping bread too - I can see this being a popular repeat recipe, at least in this household!  Wonder what I'll use as topping next time????
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Mustard pomegranate coleslaw

I make a big bowl of coleslaw at least once a week.  It's a great way to enjoy cabbage - a cruciferous vegetable and an easy way to add whatever else you have in the fridge.


Today, I made a different style of dressing for it - a mustard dressing.  It gives it a "meaty" sort of flavor. I always think the taste of mustard is suggestive of meat.  When I make my lentil pate, it always tastes like it isn't vegan, because of the mustard.

I have a few staples in my coleslaw recipe and these are:
cabbage (!), shredded
carrots, grated
raisins or sultanas - I love the sweetness of the fruit in there
black cumin seeds - for their immune boosting power





Today I also added:
pomegranate seeds - yes, you can still buy fresh ones at Trader Joes
sun dried tomatoes - my new favorite brand

The dressing was made from:
1 tablespoon yacon syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard



I often also add turmeric to the mix, but my hubby doesn't like it looking quite so yellow, so I held off today so maybe he will have some too! Fresh mint is a great addition too....

It's a great snack, side dish, salad....and lasts a few days in the fridge.  Unlike most coleslaws, it isn't made with mayonnaise or heavy in fat or dairy products.

What are your staples in coleslaw?
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Homemade Nutella - Hazelnut cocoa spread

Hot on the heels of the latest news this week about 5 tons of Nutella being stolen in Germany - a heist worth $20,710, I made my own last week...but now I think it may not be safe in the kitchen cupboard....Maybe I need to open a safety deposit box to protect it.....

If you give this a go - which you should, as it is so delicious - be sure to keep it in a safe place!!!!!!!

And I hope blogging about a healthy hazelnut cocoa spread recipe isn't considered stealing from Nutella either...but while their recipe has sugar as the first ingredient, plus milk, and palm oil, I think this version is a lot easier on the body.


A few weeks ago you may recall that I made some hazelnut butter...just because I had a few hazelnuts left over. And it got me thinking.......I haven't had Nutella in years.... My biggest Nutella memories come from a trip to Paris many years ago when all I wanted to eat was the Nutella and banana crepes they sold at street vendors.  My husband says he won't ever take me back to Paris again as I won't want to enjoy the fancy restaurants, I'll just want the crepes!

But maybe making my own nutella - a much healthier version - will get me past that and I will get to go to Paris again one day (never mind that the crepes have gluten in so I couldn't eat them now anyhow!).



The recipe was based on one from Chocolate covered Katie. CCK is amazing.  She has just incredible recipes. Here's what I did:

1 cup roasted hazelnuts
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup raw cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut nectar
1/4 cup homemade cashew milk or non diary milk of your choice

If your hazelnuts aren't already roasted, roast them for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Rub them in a tea towel to get most of the skins off.


Blend the nuts in a Vitamix or food processor until they turn into hazelnut butter.  You may need to scrape down the sides as you do this.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth.

Enjoy!  We used it in our dairy alternative class for a recipe and it was a hit with everyone! I'll share that recipe later in the week.
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Zippy Beans and Rice

After my spice classes a couple of weeks ago, I've had lots of pots of spice mixtures to use in my foods. Each night I open their lids, take a smell and decide which I think will go best with what I am cooking.


I found a great combination - using Panch Phoron with a beans and rice dish.  Panch Phoron is an indian spice mix, made from 5 different seeds (Phanch meaning 5, and phora meaning seeds).  Here is the recipe:

Panch Phoron
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds.

The key ingredient is black cumin seeds which I absolutely love. I use them everyday.



The blend is used with the seeds whole and you traditionally heat the seeds first so they release their fragrance either in a dry pan or with a little oil, as the start of a dish.  The mix is typically used with lentil dishes and to flavor vegetables and potatoes but I find it very versatile.

In my dish I had black beans, green garbanzo, brown rice, fire roasted corn, edamame, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes...and I can't remember what else.


The spice mix gave a real zip of flavor, turning a bland dish into exciting flavors dancing on the tongue.

But the spices do more than just add flavor, they also have phytonutrients and volatile oils that have healing effects on the body.

Black cumin - Nigella Sativa - which isn't cumin - is known as a "cure-all".  One of its key benefits is in strengthening the immune system.  In one study, people having black cumin oil showed a 30% increase in natural killer cells. Studies also show potential for helping prevent and/or treat the following:

  • age related immune issues
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • colitis
  • dermatitis
  • eczema
  • high blood pressure
  • MS
Mustard seed is consider advantageous against cancer, as the mustard plant is a cruciferous vegetable, and also helps with heart disease and cholesterol problems.
Cumin seeds may be important for fighting diabetes, in fighting the formation of advance glycation end products, which play a role in diabetes complications.
Fennugreek again is associated with defeating diabetes. More than 100 studies show that fenugreek can balance daily blood sugar levels, lower A1c levels, increase the enzymes that help regulate blood sugar and activate insulin signaling in cells.
Fennel seed is helpful in calming cramps so useful with menstrual pain,  and colic.  It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.


All the more reason to make up some spice blends and use them every day. Try and think about adding at least one spice to every meal.  Your taste buds will appreciate it, as will your health.
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Homemade almond yogurt

After my success with making oat yogurt, I thought I'd try my hand at almond yoghurt. I've tried it before on a few occasions, but it wasn't successful.  The previous methods were using a yogurt starter, specifically for non-dairy products, and a yogurt maker.  But this time I thought I'd just adapt the oat method and use almonds instead.


It produced a delicious creamy yogurt - that just looks like cream.  I fermented it for 12 hours on the back of my range - so a reasonably warm spot and the sourness was as I like it after that time.  After refrigerating, the yogurt thickened up and is a perfect accompaniment to my homemade muesli.

Yoghurt-in-progress - on the back of my range, keeping warm.

The only ingredients in the yogurt are almonds, water and probiotics.  If you look at the labels of bought almond yogurts, they frequently have many chemicals included plus lots of sugar. I don't think this needs any sugar.  At my class yesterday, I let my students taste both the almond and oat yogurt. They preferred the almond - and considered it tastier than any bought non-dairy yogurt.


My previous attempts all resulted in gritty yogurt, which separated a lot and gave more water than yogurt.  This has none of those issues and doesn't even need stirring before use in the morning.
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Spring Pesto

I made a no-added-oil pesto this week to garnish a parsnip and cauliflower soup.  I felt the pesto acknowledged that it was now spring and lifted the more wintery flavors of the soup into this early April time.


But then I finished the soup and still had some parsley and spinach left, so made some more pesto and found different ways to use it!...... as a dip, on a sandwich, as a dressing, ...

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup baby organic spinach
1/2 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup (packed) flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If necessary, add more water to achieve the consistency you desire. You may have to stop the processor a couple of times to scrape down the sides so that everything is combined.



Enjoy it on a variety of different dishes! The photo above shows it on a sunflower cracker with sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber and black cumin! A tasty lunch.

You won't miss the oil at all!  The taste of the parsley and lemon just excite the taste buds too much to want oil!

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. It is rich in antioxidant flavonoids and is a good source of folic acid.  Chives are a member of the allium family and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral.  They also contain quercetin which helps reduce histamine and so helps with hay fever and seasonal allergies.

Whip yourself up a dose of healthy green pesto and put a spring in your step this spring time! Your body will love you for it.
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All-day Long Oatmeal Bites

I have been making these oatmeal bites so frequently over the last couple of weeks...but they are always eaten before I take their photograph, so I haven't blogged about them before today!



Anyhow - they are my current favorite bite. You can eat them any time of the day  - from breakfast through to a snack to a dessert after dinner. I love them. They were inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe. They are sooooo tasty.  I made them for our choir retreat and got lots of comments, and everytime someone tastes them, they want the recipe. They are perfect for a breakfast on the go - or even a dinner on the go, as I've taken a couple to the city with me in the evening, to keep me going!


Anyhow, here is the recipe:

Scant 1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/2 cup cashew nut butter (I use Artisana brand)
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit


Preheat the oven to 350F

1. Mash the applesauce with the cashew butter in a bowl until combined.
2. Add all the other ingredients and stir well.
3. Use a small cookie scoop to shape approx 15 cookies on a lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 14 minutes, until the base is brown.



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Lentil Cottage Pie

One of the dishes I made for the choir retreat this weekend was a lentil pie with potato topping.  It is similar to a cottage or shepherds pie that are popular in England - but is vegan.  I hadn't made it before, but was really pleased with how it came out.  So I thought I'd share the recipe.



The recipe makes enough for 10 people and it can all be prepared the day ahead.  Then you just need to heat it in the oven for 30 minutes, and its ready to serve. Or you can make it in advance and freeze it. The perfect dish for entertaining when you want to not be in the kitchen on the day!

Ingredients:

2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
1 head of celery, chopped
300g/10 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
3 cans cooked green lentils or 500g/1lb dried green lentils
100 ml red wine
500 ml water
3 tbsp tomato puree

Topping - Barries Mash
5 large sweet potatoes
Non dairy milk
Bunch Fresh thyme

Clean the potatoes and bake them in the oven until soft (approx 45 - 60 minutes).

While the potatoes are baking, dry fry the onions, carrots, celery together in a large pan, until soft and golden.  No oil is necessary. If the vegetables start sticking to the pan, add a little water - 1 tablespoon at a time.  Use a lid to keep the moisture in.

Add the mushrooms and cook with the lid on for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the herbs and add either drained and rinsed canned lentils or the dried lentils.   Pour over the wine and stock.  If using canned lentils, cook for 10 minutes.  If using dried lentils, cook for longer, according to package instructions (normally about 30 minutes).

When the lentils are cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the tomato puree, and season to taste.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove and let cool for a while, until you can handle them.  Scrape out the potato flesh from its skin, keeping the skin for the topping.  Mash the potato flesh well, adding non dairy milk until it is the consistency you like for mash.

Chop up the skins of the potato with the leaves from fresh thyme.

The front two smaller versions didn't have potato skins on top
To assemble the pie, put the lentil mixture in a dish. If there is a lot of liquid, don't add it all. You can always have some as a sauce/gravy to serve.  (The amount of liquid will depend on whether you use cooked or dried lentils and how much they absorbed. There should be some liquid but not excessive liquid.) Top with the mashed potato.  Sprinkle the chopped potato skins over the mash.

The dish can be frozen at this time (when cooled). Defrost before baking. To serve, heat the oven to 190C or 375F and bake for 30 minutes. The potato skins will crispen up as it bakes.


The idea of using the potato skins on top of the mash came from an old recipe I used to make from my aga cookbook. It was called Barries mash.  It's a lovely way to add crunch to mash - and in this recipe, is a great alternative to the usual grated cheese put on top to crispen things up. Instead, the skins get crispy and it add a lovely texture.  I'd never done it with sweet potatoes before, but it works well.

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, no added oil.

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Health benefits of Chai Tea

Chai tea has many wonderful healing spices in it.  However frequently when you buy it, it includes dairy products and refined sugar.  Instead you can make your own and tailor it to your own tastes.  My own taste is that I don't like tea, so I make mine without green or black tea.  But there is still plenty of flavor in it as I include 7 different spices in my recipe - plus orange peel.

(Sorry - I forgot about photographing it and nearly drank it all!)


The spices have powerful healing capacities, not just by being antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, but also because they can switch off the Cancer Master Switch in the cells, namely the nuclear factor kappa beta (NFkB).

The spices in this recipe which have this activity are:

  • black peppercorns
  • cardomom
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • anise
  • nutmeg
  • and ginger

When free radicals, infections, or agents that damage DNA (eg carcinogens, toxins, etc) enter the body, they are all capable of activating NFkB which is a molecule inside the cell. On activation, NFkB increases inflammation and inhibits cancer cell death.  While pharmaceutical companies are busy looking for drugs to turn off NFkB, we need look no further than spices as many of them have this NFkB switching off capacity.

And Chai tea is an easy way to get 7 spices all in one drink.

Here is a recipe that originally came from Jeanne Wallace
Chai Tea

4 cups water
1 teaspoon cardamom pods – green
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves or 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon cinnamon chips
1 teaspoon dried orange peel or 4 teaspoons orange zest
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon nutmeg chips or 2 whole nutmegs
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1 tablespoon dried ginger pieces
½ vanilla bean, chopped fine or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teabags or 4 tablespoons green or black tea leaves (TEA is optional!)
Coconut nectar or other unrefined sweetener to taste (optional)
Non dairy milk

Make the spice mix: bring water to boil, add spices but NOT tea, if using.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes or longer for a spicier flavor.  Remove from the heat. Add tea and steep for 3 minutes.  Strain into a pitcher or container.  Keeps refrigerated for up to 10 days.
To make one cup of chai, combine ½ cup of non dairy milk with ½ cup of the spice mixture.  Heat and add sweetner to your taste.  Can be served iced in the summer.



Let me know how you tailor it to your particular taste.
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Making hazelnut butter

I've mentioned before on this blog about how I love hazelnuts and as I was looking at some recipes, I came across one for hazelnut ice cream.  One of the ingredients was hazelnut butter, but I've never seen that in the stores.

So a quick rummage through my fridge led me to a small handful of hazelnuts.  There were probably only about 20 or so left, but they were tasty.  I thought I'd give them a whizz and make my own hazelnut butter - not enough for ice cream, but just a test to see how it would work.

I used my immersion blender fixed onto it's dry food grinder.   The dry food grinder makes it really into a tiny food processor.

It blended those hazelnuts brilliantly - and quickly!  Yes, no other ingredients - just handful of hazelnuts and switch on the machine.  Yummy, creamy hazelnut butter in about a minute...now I just need to buy more hazelnuts and make some more and then make the ice cream!

I wonder what nut butter I should try next.... I've done almond, cashew and now hazelnut...maybe some green pistachio for St Patricks Day????  What is your favorite nut butter?

(PS I HATE peanut butter! Ugh, even the smell is ghastly!)
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Freezer and cupboard soup

Do you make freezer soup/stew?  I love it! It's a way of clearing out and creating a new dish at the same time.


The idea behind it is that you use up some ingredients that have been open and lingering in the freezer or cupboard for a while, and put them all together to make a delicious soup or stew.

This one I made from the ends of bags of frozen corn, peas, edamame, and spinach.  In went a box of Pomi tomatoes, some cooked brown rice,  and a little water.

Then comes the exciting bit - spices.  Here's what I added this time:

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • couple of pinches cayenne

It was the nutritional yeast that really made it.  It has that cheesy flavor that, to my mind, went so well with the rice.


So open up your freezer and use up a few things!  Create your own combination of spices to add and make soup to last you a few days.  Every time you make it, it'll be different!

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Gluten Free Currant Oatcakes

I've been making oatcakes for a while now.  I just love oats and this week, I've been cooking with whole oats - or oat groats or oat berries...whichever term you use.


But before I share the whole oat recipes, I thought I'd share my oatcake recipe.  It makes a lovely cracker or snack to eat on its own, or to dip into something or to spread something on. Most of the time I eat them on their own.

Previously I've made them with 1 tbsp coconut oil, but today I decided to do a no-added oil version and replaced the coconut oil with 1 tbsp of applesauce. I don't actually taste any difference or see any difference in texture or structure without the oil, so it works well.


You can add whatever dried fruit you like to them - today I used dried currants, but I particularly like dried cranberries in them, or you can use nuts instead or just omit it and make them plain.  Such flexibility! And this time I also added some ground flaxseeds too, for added fiber.

So here is the recipe - in one version - for you to play with and enjoy:


Gluten free oatcakes - makes 14 oatcakes

225g gluten free old fashioned rolled oats (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
25g dried currants (1/8 cup)
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
150 ml warm water (3/4 cup)

Heat the oven to 350F/180C.

Put the oats, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the currants and flaxseed.

In a separate bowl or jug, mix the warm water with the applesauce.

Make a well in the center of the oat mixture and pour in the liquid. Mix, until it comes together.  It will seem wet to start with but the oats will absorb the water to give a dough.




Lightly dust the work surface with gluten free flour or ground up oats. Tip out the dough and roll to approx 5mm thick.  Use a small cutter to cut out the oatcakes.  Re roll any trimmings and continue to cut out oatcakes until all the dough it used.  (Cut oatcakes can be frozen, uncooked for up to a month. Freeze flat before packing in bags).






Place the oatcakes on lined baking sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes, turning the oatcakes every 5 - 6 minutes or so, to stop them from steaming and going soggy.

Cool and enjoy!  Let me know if you make them.


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New food of the week - Mandarinquat

This past week we've been enjoying the fruit from our newest citrus tree - a Mandarinquat tree.  We bought the tree last year, so this is its first harvest. My husband tried the fruit first and declared that it was really too sour.


But then he read the label (!) and sure enough, it tells you that the flesh of the fruit is indeed sour but that the peel is sweet. Thus you eat both together and the flavors balance each other out.  How clever!

As you may have guessed, the tree is a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat. The fruits are larger than kumquats (about 3 inches tall) and such a lovely orange color.   More vibrant orange color than mandarins and satsuma - and teardrop in shape.



To use them, we are slicing them across - so you get both skin and flesh in each taste. I've been adding them to salads, and an oat-berry (groats) recipe I'm working on. You can also make marmalade out of them, but we don't have enough for that this year.

They taste good but it is their appearance that will make me want to use them.  They are good sources of vitamin C and as you eat the peel and flesh, you also get a lot of fiber from them.



In my food as medicine class this week we made bean brownies as our topic was beans and legumes - so we used some satsumas from our other tree in the brownie mix and then decorated each brownie with a slice of mandarinquat.  It made for a citrus brownie that seemed much more special - both in appearance and flavor.


Don't they look nice!  Have you tried a new food this week?  Have you ever seen mandarinquats for sale?

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Chickpea crepes (and upgraded Moroccan Bean Stew)

As I said a couple of days ago, I made a yummy Moroccan bean stew this week - enough for a few meals.

Reheating it, I've added a few other ingredients - which has bulked it out a little so it's gone further, and also improved the flavor, I think.


First of all I added a bunch of kale, fresh from the garden.  Yummy. Tastes even better because you feel all that green is good for you!

And for my last bowl, I've added a handful of currants. I loved the sweetness as part of the spice mix, and wanted to build on that a little, so the currants did the trick.  Not too sweet, like I think raisins could have been, but the currants lift the flavor nicely.


These photos also show my chickpea crepes I made to go with it.  I tried using the batter to make small blinis, but they tasted heavily of "bean" so I wasn't that keen on them.  But the thin crepes don't taste beany at all - so could go with sweet or savory accompaniments.

Here is the chickpea crepe recipe: Makes 6 crepes.
150g chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
1 egg or egg replacement
200ml water

I made the crepes on my aga, so put a non-stick sheet directly on the simmering plate (no frying pan needed) and poured the batter on there, so I didn't need any oil.  I love making pancakes, crepes etc on the aga, directly on the plate!

But if you don't have an aga :-(, heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan.  Add some batter and swirl it around the pan to spread it out into a circle and cook on medium heat until the edge start turning golden (~1minute).  Flip it over and cook for another minute.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.

These will make nice wraps too - quite flexible and strong enough to place lots of vegetables in them.

Do you change your meals throughout the week when you make a big pot of something? What sort of things do you add?
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Red Pepper Hummus

I made fat free hummus today - and while that is not a surprise for me, the thing that was different about it, was that I cooked my own garbanzo beans (chickpeas)!


Yes, I bought dried beans instead of the cooked ones. I soaked them overnight and cooked them for 3 hours this morning.

I wasn't doing this just for hummus - there are a few other dishes I'm using them for, but I thought it would be interesting to try my hummus recipe and see if it was more flavorful with the home-cooked beans.

I do actually prefer it, and if I am cooking garbanzos again for another reason, I'll save some for hummus again.

Here's the recipe:

1 drained can of chickpeas - or cook your own garbanzos
Juice of two lemons
1 teaspoon of Bragg Liquid Aminos
3 tablespoons water
2 roasted red peppers - I used Mezzetta

Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy!

I served mine with poppadoms for a health snack with lots of fiber.

Most hummus has tahini in it, or olive oil - but I love the taste without and don't need the fat and extra calories.
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Spice Cake

For Christmas Day, I made myself a spice cake instead of having a rich Christmas pudding or cake.  I've made it since too - as I really like the recipe.  It's only small so you don't end up eating it every day for a week as desserts are meant to be treats!

It's gluten free (using GF oat flour), has no refined sugar (using low glycemic load coconut nectar instead), fat free (using applesauce instead), dairy free (using homemade almond milk instead) and full of lovely anti-oxidant spices.

I made it in a small half dome cake tin - so it looked a little like an English Christmas pudding.  You can, of course, add frosting/icing - but I like the spices so don't add anything.

If you don't have a half dome tin, bake it in muffin tins or a small square tin.

It was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe for Egg Nog Spice cake.


Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup GF oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
2 tablespoons almond milk or other nut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup organic raisins

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients, then pour the dry into the wet.
Stir until just combined, then pour in your selected baking tin.
Cook at 350 F for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the tin.
Remove, let cool if you can - and enjoy.

You'll also enjoy the lovely smell it gives to your home.
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Melted Snowman Dessert

I made some little melted snowmen in honor of it not snowing here!

I really like surprises...so this recipe appeals to me in that you serve up a little jar.....


....... and then open it up to find the melted snowman inside




Get it? The two raisins are his eyes, his carrot nose and currants as his buttons....!

Of course you can be elegant and serve this in a shot glass instead



The dessert is a hazelnut cream.  It's rich and full of flavor - which is why you only need a small amount.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/8 cup coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
1 cup non dairy milk ( I used homemade hazelnut milk)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 cinnamon stick
(Optional for snowman - 2 raisins, 3 currants, orange sprinkle or carrot triangle)

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a 350F oven for approx 5 minutes until golden and fragrance.  Transfer them onto to a kitchen towel and rub them in the towel to remove most of their skin.  Let them cool.  (If serving in  a glass, finely chop 1/2 tablespoon for garnish).
  2. Place the remaining skinned hazelnuts, sugar, and lemon zest in a food processor until finely ground into a paste.
  3. Combine the hazelnut mixture with the milk, vanilla seeds, cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil the reduce the temperature and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken.  Remove the cinnamon stick.
  4. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into small jars and decorate or into shot glasses and sprinkle on chopped hazelnuts.  
  6. Can be served warm, room temperature or chilled.
Don't feel bad eating the snowman...he had melted anyhow ;-D
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Salt and Pepper Quinoa crackers

I made myself some yummy crackers this morning.  I used a recipe from Jennifer Katzinger's book "Gluten Free and Vegan Holiday".

I've made these salt and pepper quinoa crackers a few times and just love that salt and pepper flavor. I'm a big fan of pepper - but use very little salt so I reduced the amount of salt somewhat.

Don't you just love my salt and pepper bunnies!
It's very easy - just quinoa flour, coconut oil, water, baking soda, salt and pepper.

When it comes to rolling the dough out, Jennifer suggests cutting shapes and lifting them onto the baking sheet. However, I find the dough too soft for that. So I roll it straight onto parchment paper, cut to the size of the baking sheet. When rolled, I then cut into lengths, but don't move them.  They cook all together and come out perfect every time.

Here's the recipe.

I also made some lentil pate to go with them. I'll share that with you soon.
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Strawberry and pink peppercorn raw chocolate

I've been making raw chocolate today.  Yes, chocolate that has health benefits and is refined sugar free, dairy free and gluten free!

The recipe needs a little tweaking still, but the taste is wonderful.  I don't think reworking the recipe will be too much of a hardship!



You may recall at the gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free dessert class I taught a couple of months ago, I did dried strawberry and pink peppercorn cookies. I just love the combination so tried that as one of my raw chocolate flavors.

It is yummy. I used coconut nectar as the sweetener and it didn't combine completely with the chocolate so I'll try reducing it a little next time....maybe tomorrow!


I love this new mold I bought in England. It make a perfect sized bite...4cm x 2.5 cm. And the chocolate tempered well, with a lovely glossy sheen.

I'm hoping the recipe will be good for my Food as Medicine classes next week.....

Watch out - strawberry and pink peppercorn will be a flavor combination popping up everywhere soon. Remember you heard it here first! :-D

What's your favorite flavor?
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Crunchy chickpeas

I made crunchy turmeric chickpeas today.  I'd tried crunchy chickpeas bought from the store and didn't like them, but they seem popular so I thought I'd try making my own and see if they were tastier.

They are!


I used organic chickpeas, rinsed them well and then blotted them dry using kitchen paper.  I took the skins off the chickpeas. I think is probably optional, if you can't be bothered, but it didn't take too long.

Then I sprinkled them with some ginger lemon salt and turmeric.  Mixed them up to coat them, and then put them in the top of the aga for about 35 minutes.  This is equivalent to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.


They came out nice and crunchy and next time I'll be a little more generous with the seasoning - so you can liberally season!

Have you tried them?  They are nice as an easy snack, or sprinkle them on your salad....
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Quince breakfast parfait

So have you been out buying up quince this week?  If you live in Northern California - just give me a call and you can have some of mine.


As I mentioned earlier in the week, I made a quince granola by baking gluten free rolled oats, quinoa flakes and puffed brown rice with quince sauce (puree). I also added some cinnamon and allspice to it. It created a nice crispy, no added oil nor refined sugar, gluten free cereal.  So I decided to use it to make a breakfast parfait this morning, layering the granola with spoonfuls of quince puree.


It looked pretty and instead of my usual throw together breakfast, it felt like I had paid attention and seemed like a treat.  If tasted yummy too with a nice contrast of the smooth puree with the crunchy granola.  I like the color of the quince too.  I know most recipes will say quince turns pink, but that seems to only occur if you add sugar.  Personally, I like it's unsweetened custardy yellow color.

So did your breakfast look this good?
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Quince spice balls

With my vast quantity of quince sauce (see yesterday's post!), I thought I'd make some yummy quince balls today, with autumnal spices.


Here's the recipe.  Instead of quince, you can use any pureed fruit, such as apple sauce, or pumpkin puree or pear puree...but when you have a tree full of quince, you use quince puree!

Quince spice balls
Ingredients: - makes 20 balls

8 dates, pitted
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened fruit puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Add the pitted dates to a processor and process for a minute or two.  Add the walnuts and process again.  Add the fruit and spices and mix again.  Finally add the coconut and mix thoroughly. At this stage you could also add one of the following optional extras, stirring in by hand, rather than processing. I didn't - and just used the above ingredients.

Optional extras:
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 goji berries

Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the mixture into approximately 20 balls. If it is too sticky, add some more nuts or coconut. If it's too crumbly, add a little more puree.

The balls can be rolled in additional coconut or crushed walnuts.

Place in the refrigerator until chilled and a little firmer.  They will keep for a week, chilled.


The spicy flavors are what make these balls.  Spices are powerful foods and too often neglected in cooking.  When using spices, a combination tends to work better than an individual spice.



The health benefits of cinnamon include:

  • 1/2 teaspoon a day can lower LDL cholesterol
  • cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin production in the body
  • it has anti-fungal properties
  • it has anti-clotting effects on the blood
  • cinnamon added to food is a natural food preservative
  • just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory
  • cinnamon is a natural remedy for headaches and migraines


The health benefits of cloves include:

  • cloves contain eugenol which has been seen to be effective in dentistry as a mild anesthetic as well as an anti-bacterial agent
  • eugenol is also anti-inflammatory and a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet
  • cloves are an excellent source of manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, and very high levels of anti-oxidants


The health benefits of nutmeg include:
  • can have a blood pressure lowering effect
  • can soothe an upset stomach and stop diarrhea
  • can be stimulating to the brain and improve mental function
Culinary spices are also important with cancer as they can inhibit the "master switch" for cancer genes. They do this by blocking a signaling molecule called NF-kappa beta. NF-kB makes cancer cells resistant to treatment or prompts them to behave in a more aggressive manner, so using spices to turn off this molecule can be powerful in cancer treatment.  

Pharmaceutical companies are in the process of developing drugs that are effective NFkB inhibitors, but nature has supplied us with spices that do the same thing.  So look in your spice cupboard and spice up your life.

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Quince time

Our quince tree has grown a lot this year and has many large quince on it.  Quince is not a fruit that you eat raw so I've been wondering what to do with all these fruit.  There must be at least a hundred quince on the tree!


In previous years I've used the few fruits we got in salads, an upside quince cake, making quince jelly etc.  When you search for quince recipes however, they all tend to involve large amounts of added sugar.  I wanted to avoid this. Also, quince are not easy to cut and prepare as they are very hard when raw.

So, I decided I would just peel them and then cook them in the simmering oven of my aga in water.


They came out beautifully. As they are so large, I could only cook 6 at a time, so did three batches today!  I guess that means I have about 6 days of cooking in total!


After cooking them, I then made them into quincesauce - which is really just like applesauce, but made with quince instead of apples!   I don't add any sweetener at all - and it really doesn't need it. Basically it is pureed cooked quince and delicious.  I love the fact that its not too sweet and can see myself using it in a lot of different dishes.


I used some to make a quince fool today and then made a big batch of quince granola - basically gluten free oats, puffed brown rice and quinoa flakes tossed in quince sauce and baked.

I think I will easily have enough quince sauce to last me the year, that is if I get around to cooking the rest of the quince! Wish me luck or maybe it's stamina I need!


Quince have high levels of fiber, are high in antioxidants and contain a lot of pectin.  They also help with digestion and relieve diarrhea and have been seen to have anti-viral effects.

Let me know if you'd like some.....
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Tastiest food of the week - strawberry and pink peppercorn

My tastiest food of the week this week was a cookie I made combining freeze dried strawberries with pink peppercorns.  I made two version and my favorite was the shortbread one.  Both versions were gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free.

Strawberry and pink peppercorn shortbreads (GF, DF, SF)
My sister had sent me some freeze dried strawberries as she thought I might like them. The plan was, actually, that she'd bring them to Florida with her this summer when we met up on vacation (she lives in the UK) and give them to me there.  Dutifully, we brought the strawberries all the way from the UK to the US, then forgot to give them to me, so took them all the way home again, and then mailed them!

So while the carbon footprint of these dried strawberries wasn't particularly good - their taste was. Unlike most freeze dried fruit, these were still a little chewy and not just dry.   But combining them with pink peppercorns was amazing.

Strawberry and pink peppercorn quinoa cookies (GF, SF, DF)

I used the combination in a recipe for my cooking class this weekend and people were reluctant! Those making the cookies didn't want to add them....others were talking about making them without, but when they tasted them, everyone agreed, it was a great combo!

So give it a try.  They work well with other pink fruits too, like dried cranberries, or raspberries.... Pink peppercorns aren't strong, and the combo just works well.
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Healing Trees recipe

The Cancer Journey conference at Ceres on Sunday seemed to go very well. They sold out and I had some great interactions with people in the resource room.




I demo'd making my "healing tree" morsels, and share the recipe with you here:

Ingredients
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon Matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1//2 tablespoons date paste *
Zest of 1 lemon
Grated fresh ginger (approx 1 inch)
15 whole raw organic almonds

Directions
[*Make the date paste first - you will only use a small portion of this.  Process 10 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons of water. This makes a thick paste that is a great substitute for refined sugar.]

  1. Place all the ingredients except the whole almonds in a food processor and process until smooth.  This matcha mixture should hold together when squeezed but not be too sticky. If it won't hold, process longer, or add 1/2 tablespoon more of date paste.  If too sticky, add a little more almond flour.
  2. Cut the whole almonds in half, width ways.
  3. Take approx 1 teaspoon of match mixture and shape it into your hands to form a cone shape
  4. Stand up half an almond on it's cut side and gently push the matcha cone onto the almond, so that it looks like a tree.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the matcha mixture and almond halves to create your own forest of healing trees.
  6. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or else the matcha mixture can frozen before shaping.

The healing qualities of these trees come from:
the green tea has excellent anti-cancer properties and is high in anti-oxidants;
the ginger and dates settle the stomach and help with digestion;
the lemon is a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals;
the almonds are a good source of easily digestible fiber, vitamins and minerals;
and finally the cute shape of the trees lifts your spirits!

These are lovely to make for yourself, but make a great gift for someone who needs some healing.
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Marmalade Granola

You may recall that I made a gluten free granola a few months ago, that had no refined sugar or add oil in it.  It was plain in flavor, which is nice when you want to change your additions each morning for breakfast.

With 3 fig trees all full of ripe fruit, you can bet I add figs to my marmalade granola breakfast!
However, this week I made a flavored granola that I am just loving.  It's marmalade flavor, made with "no sugar added" marmalade.  There are a variety of marmalades and jams available nowadays that don't use refined sugar but instead utilize just the sweetness of fruit as their sweetener.  Be careful however, some utilize artificial sweeteners instead, which aren't good for you.

My favorite is an Italian organic citrus fruit "spread".  It's by Alce Nero and contains only orange peel and pulp,  apple puree and lemons.


Here is the recipe to make gluten free, no oil added, no refined sugar marmalade granola:


1 cup GF old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened puffed brown rice
1/4 cup Alce nero Citrus fruit spread

Mix the ingredients together and spread on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Place in the oven at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Stir and replace in the oven for an additional 5 - 10 minutes, but check frequently as it can quickly go from golden brown to over done.


Enjoy every morning with your non-dairy milk.


PS I make double the quantity listed here, and of course you can vary the ratio and types of grains as you please.
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Making Walnut Milk


I make almond milk every week for my husband and I....but this week has been busy and I keep forgetting to soak my almonds....and so it seemed the right time to try making Walnut Milk instead, because you don't need to soak walnuts first.


It is so simple and quick to make - and a wonderful source of omega 3 fatty acids.

Put 1 cup of organic walnuts and 3 cups of water in a high powered blender.

Blend on high for a couple of minutes.

Strain through a nut milk bag.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

It's nice and creamy. Enjoy on cereal and as an alternative in recipes to dairy milks.


I like it as much as the almond one....maybe this will now become my new go-to non-dairy milk.  Have you tried it yet?  I've never seen it for sale.....
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The language of flowers - Part II

Following from yesterday's blog post about my book club gathering to discuss "The language of flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, you may have guessed it, but the other flower themed dessert I made was  a  roulade. Yes, it's been nearly two weeks since I've made a roulade!!! Had to get one in sometime!  This one was a rose and strawberry roulade.



As usual the dessert is refined sugar free, gluten free and dairy free. The rose flavoring comes from rose water added to the cream (whipped coconut cream).  Also in the cream are some strawberries and some chewy freeze dried strawberries from my sister.  They add a lovely texture to it.

Of course, it had to be decorated with edible rose petals.


The meaning of roses in the language of flowers varies depending on the color of the rose.

Burgundy rose - unconscious beauty
Moss rose - confession of love
Orange rose - fascination
Pale peach rose - modesty
Pink rose - grace
Purple rose - enchantment
Red rose - love
White rose - a heart unaquainted with love
Yellow rose - infidelity.

I chose a pink rose - for grace.



We had a great discussion about the book and flowers and foster care and many other things.  I made each of them a tied little bunch of flowers to take home with them.  The flowers I chose from the garden were:
sedum - for tranquility
sage - for good health and long life
marjoram - for blushes - with the hope that they feel young enough to still blush!

Click here for a printer friendly recipe for Rose Roulade
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Swimming in tomatoes!

The joy of growing your own fruit and vegetables: you wait for ages to begin harvest, then have masses all at once!
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Even with just two tomato plants, we are nearly overwhelmed with tomatoes! We pick them just about everyday but yesterday seemed to tip me over the edge. We've been managing just eating them raw, but I now know I have to get cooking with them. I'm planning on making some roasted tomato soup and then also trying some tomato sauce. I've never tried that before. Should be fun.

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For today however, I'm roasting some for my lunch and will have them on some gluten free toast.

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They are drizzled with blackberry balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with homegrown oregano and marjoram. Hmmm. Here's the oil-free recipe. Can't wait for lunch time.

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Recipe: Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
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Ingredients:
Cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar - plain or flavored
Fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, marjoram

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 degrees C
Halve tomatoes and place on silpat or parchment paper on a baking tray. (It is important to use a non stick surface as no oil is added in this recipe.)
Sprinkle with chopped herbs of your choice
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
Roast in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
Serve warm with crusty bread or on toast.
Store at room temperature for maximum flavor.
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Making brown rice milk

Today's non-dairy milk recipe is for brown rice milk.  Like the others I've shown, (oat milk, almond milk, and banana milk), it's quick and easy and has no odd ingredients like store bought non-dairy milks.  It's just brown rice and water.

Start with 1 cup of cooked brown rice. I used organic brown basmati.


Put it in a blender with 2 cups of water.



Blend on high for a couple of minutes.


Strain through a nut bag or cheesecloth (see almond milk recipe for more info on nut bags).


Store refrigerated for up to 10 days.  Use for cereal and as a replacement for dairy milk in recipes.


For my personal taste, I add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence to this rice as it tastes a bit too much like rice for my liking.  See what you think.  I much prefer it with the vanilla, yet other non dairy milks I like plain.

What's your favorite?
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Light as a feather cake

I made this cake with just three ingredients - and one of them was 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice!



It is lovely: so light as a feather.

It uses just eggs, lemon juice and almonds! How simple is that.

The frosting is pomegranate seeds in a cashew and almond cream.

I think this could be one of the recipes I use for my gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free dessert class coming up in October. I'll tell you more about that as the time gets closer and I've decided what we'll make.

Have a great weekend.  Hope your mood is as light as a feather!
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"Emergency" non-dairy milk - Banana milk

Following on from the previous couple of weeks Oat Milk and Almond Milk recipes , this week I'm going to show you how to make banana milk.  I consider it an "emergency" non-dairy milk.  It's for those occasions like when you have gone away to a friend's house for the weekend and it comes to breakfast and they only have dairy milk for your cereal which you don't want or can't tolerate due to health reasons.  Instead, you can quickly whip up some banana milk and use that instead.

It is, naturally, banana-y so isn't useful for other things like putting in coffee! - but it is perfect for cereal.

All you need is a banana, some water and an immersion blender.


Cut up the banana and place in a jug/bowl.


Blend the banana with the immersion blender until it is liquid.


Add 1 cup of water and blend again.



Voila - yummy banana milk for oatmeal or cereal.


Use it soon after making or else it'll go brown.

More non dairy milk recipes next week.
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Invalid Fruit Tart

It's all in a name! Invalid Fruit Tart! Does it make you want a slice?  Somehow, I think psychologically, it's not going to make you feel better if you aren't well!

Courtesy of the BBC Great British Bake Off

This tart creation comes from the archives at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh from the 1950's.  The recipe - one of 24 in the archives - was designed with the health of patients in mind.   This was in the time when the first dietician was appointed in the UK and these recipes were created in the context of the growing importance of the role food could play in health - both preventing illness in the first place and helping patients to recover.


Here's the recipe:


Ingredients:
1 large apple
1 piece of stale sponge
142ml milk
1 egg, separated
1/4 oz granulated sugar
1/2 oz castor sugar
Water

Wipe, peel, core and slice the apple and place in a pan with a dessertspoonful of sugar and a little cold water. Stew the apples until pulped.
Beat the egg yolk with a teaspoon of sugar and add the milk.
Place the stewed apples in a pie dish and cover with strips of sponge cake.  
Pour the custard (egg and sugar mix) over the sponge and bake in a cool oven until slightly set.  
Fold the castor sugar into a stiffly beaten egg white and heap onto the pudding. Dredge with sugar and cook slowly until slightly brown. 

I love the idea of cooking something in a "cool oven"!!!  Does that mean you don't have to switch it on?

It does sound like it probably tastes pretty good - apples and sponge, custard and meringue.....but I never think reading "stale" anything as an ingredient is very appetizing!  I'm sure it was soft to eat and good comfort food....but maybe nowadays, for "health" benefits, we'd have to make a couple of adjustments!

If you are feeling ill today- maybe you'll give it a try????!!!  Feel better soon....

This recipe was featured on this week's Great British Bake Off on BBC in the UK.  I'm so excited because I got to watch it! My sister told me about it and thought I'd enjoy the program so I got a VPN (virtual personal network) that I've been resisting for a while, and can now watch the BBC here in the US :-D
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Making Almond Milk

Following on from last week's recipe and instructions on how to make Oat Milk, this week I'll show you how to make Almond Milk.


Yes, you can buy almond milk in the supermarket, but it tends to contain lots of ingredients. My recipe uses only organic almonds and water.  In what I consider the best, unsweetened commercial almond milk you still get extras of:

  • rice starch
  • sea salt (190mg sodium)
  • vanilla
  • natural flavor
  • carrageenan
I prefer the almonds and water approach!  Here's how to do it.

  • Soak 1 cup of organic almonds in water for 24 hours or overnight if you are short of time.  Use enough water to cover the nuts. Make sure it's good quality water!
  • Drain and rinse the almonds after their soak. Remove the skins of the almonds.  This is optional but gives you a much whiter milk and is easy to do. I timed myself and it took only 3 minutes to take the skins off! Once the almonds have soaked, just use an action like you are squeezing the almond and the skin comes off whole.
  • Place the almonds in a blender (I used my Vitamix) and add 3 cups of water.  You can actually add more (up to a total of 4 cups of water) or less, depending on how creamy or liquid you want your milk.  
  • Blend until smooth. Don't over blend or the milk will start to heat up.
  • Pour into a nut bag*, suspended over a jug and squeeze the milk out using your hand. Squeeze well to get all the milk and until the pulp is crumbly.
  • There isn't a lot of pulp that remains in the nut bag so you can either discard it or use it in your oatmeal or cereal or baked goods.  
  • Now pour yourself a glass of delicious, healthy, unsweetened, organic almond milk and enjoy, or else use it in baking, or cooking as a dairy substitute or on your cereal for breakfast!
The photo below shows the lovely white color of homemade almond milk - on the right - compared to bought almond milk on the right.


The milk will last at least a week, kept in the refrigerator.


*Re: nut bags.  Nut bags are available at cook shops and are a mesh fabric that holds small particles inside and lets the liquid run through.  They are sometimes called jelly bags too - for when you leave homemade jelly to run through. Here is a source at Lakeland in the UK, or on amazon.co.uk.  In the US, there are plenty of options like this one on Amazon, or check out your local cookware store.  Alternatively, you can just pour the milk through a double layer of cheesecloth to remove the pulp.

I'll show you another dairy free milk next week.  They are much better for you than drinking dairy.  And taste yummy too!  What is your favorite?
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Cooking with fruit flours

I've been experimenting in the kitchen today and it still continues.  Here is one of the results - a raspberry macaron (and yes, I did make more than one!!).  Macarons, if you didn't know, are the light fluffy meringue melt-in-your-mouth confectionery, originally from France.


Macarons are naturally gluten free as they use almond flour instead of a gluten flour.  The exciting part about todays experiment's, for me at least, is that I made flour from fruit and used it in the macaron, replacing some of the almond flour.  The flour I made was from raspberries.  How cool is that - and so the little meringues taste of raspberries!  With all these alternative flours out there, I thought I'd try making some for myself and this is my first attempt.  I wonder what will come next?????

The theme of macarons is continuing in this kitchen, as I'm trying out a sugar free version.  They are just drying now.  If they are successful, you'll see them soon!

Have you ever tried using/making fruit flour?
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Making Oat Milk

If you are giving up dairy, here's an easy way to make your own non-dairy milk using oats. In this case, I used gluten free oats.

Soak one cup of oats in water overnight. Pour enough water to cover the oats.

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The oats will swell up to at least 1 1/2 cups. After soaking, drain and rinse the oats.

Place them in a blender with 3 cups of water and blend for a minute or so. I used my vitamix so it was very quick. For less powerful models, you may need to blend for a couple of minutes.

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Pour the milk into a nut bag and collect the yummy healthy milk.

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You will get about 4 cups of oat milk. Keep this in the fridge and use it within a week, on your morning cereal and in cooking. It is versatile as the oats don't give a strong overpowering flavor.

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Here is a photo of this morning's breakfast - my puffed brown rice cereal, with raspberries, bananas and home made gluten free oat milk.

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If you prefer a thicker, creamier consistency, just reduce the amount of water your add to the blender.

I'll be back with other non dairy milk recipes soon. Hope you give it a try.
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Recipe for healthy gluten free granola

I hope you'll enjoy the following recipe. It is to create a healthy low fat, low sugar, gluten free granola. The recipe shows you how to create a plain granola and then each morning you can add additional fresh ingredients such as fruit, nuts, seeds, etc to create the taste you desire at that time.

Ingredients:
1 cup GF rolled oats
1 cup GF puffed brown rice - I use Erewhon, unsweetened
1 small carton (4oz) unsweetened organic apple sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375F
2. Mix the oats and rice together and stir in the apple sauce, to thoroughly combine.
3. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and stir well, bringing the edges into the center
5. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  If it is dry and crispy, remove. If still a bit soft, stir and put back in for a couple more minutes.  Watch it carefully as the edges may burn.
6. Cool and store in a jar for a month.

It isn't sweet but the addition of fruit sweetens it enough for me.  If you prefer, you could add some stevia as sweetener.  My favorite way to eat this is with raspberries and blackberries and a little unsweetened almond milk.

It has a much lower fat and sugar content than granolas you buy - check the labels.

Let me know what you think.
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Cauliflower crust pizza

I came across a recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust the other day, so thought I'd give it a go.  To be honest, I have never been a great fan of pizza and then after stopping eating gluten all those years ago, I just rarely bother or even think about it.


But for some reason, the idea of using cauliflower instead of a dough base, was intriguing to me.

I adapted the recipe slightly and used just three ingredients - cauliflower, egg replacement (Orgran) and non-dairy cheese.  You use one cup of riced cauliflower, the equivalent of one egg and 1 cup of cheese.  The full description using dairy cheese and egg is given in the link above.

Cooked riced cauliflower
Cauliflower with egg replacement and non-dairy cheese
I loved it! And it stood up to being a finger food too.  I topped it first with a layer of a parsley and pistachio pesto I'd made the previous week. We have lots of parsley in the garden right now, so I was looking for a way to use it up, and came up with this recipe for parsley pistachio pesto! Basically its just parsley and pesto whizzed up with a little bit of lemon juice!
Parsley and pistachio pesto

Then I cooked some peppers and mushrooms and added them on top, with some avocado and a little more cheese!

Toppings!
Even with all these toppings, the crust was firm enough to be handled.  I really did enjoy it and decided to try making it again with the remaining riced cauliflower but this time substituting the cheese out to make it even healthier. I tried instead to add another egg replacement, but that didn't work, and then I tried adding some psyllium husk powder to bind it, which was better, but just didn't quite make it!  The cheese not only adds great flavor, but also holds it all so that it can be a finger food.  

So the dish ends up being mainly vegetables and some cheese.  Let me know if you give it a try.  Hope you like it. 
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Nectarine Harvest

Our nectarine harvest started last week.  It took us by surprise actually.  John was walking by the tree and noticed a few on the ground and so felt them - and they were soft and ripe!  We have two nectarine trees and this first one yields very green nectarines, not the usual white or orange ones.  Apparently, all nectarines used to be green in color but they were cross bred to create the more common cultivars with a more yellowish orange color.   The green color of ours means they don't look ripe, but my, are they juicy and sweet! They are the kind you need to eat over a sink, and free stone too.


But they all come at once, so since that first warm, heated by the sun nectarine, we've been eating a few every day.  That first day I made a lovely nectarine slaw with red and white cabbage, apple and nectarines. The dressing was lime and ginger and then I topped with my home grown red cabbage sprouts. It was delicious.

Since then, I seem to put nectarine in just about every dish I make! Amazing how versatile it is when you have lots of them to use!  Nectarine salsa I think was one of my favorite, after this ginger slaw.


Now we'll have to keep a careful eye on the other tree which tends to ripen just a little bit later. I hope it's not when we are away....

Nectarines are low in calories (about 50cals each)and a good source of vitamins A,B, C & E, lutein and antioxidants.  1 cup of nectarines also supplies 2.4g fiber, 1.5g of protein, plus calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, folic acid, and Vitamin K.


What's your favorite way to enjoy nectarines?

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Healthy Cooking for children

After posting Jamie Oliver's TED talk on the blog last week, I had a comment back from Jennifer that said:

"This video clip is so moving. Thank you for it, Ruth. What would be the 10 meals that you would teach children to cook that would save their lives?" 


I felt the answer deserved more than just a comment back and so here are some of my suggestions. Remember, children naturally love healthful foods. Their genetic makeup is designed to consume nature's bounty without any coaxing or effort; they naturally like fruit and vegetables.  The following aren't full meals necessarily as salads can be added for appetizers and fruit for dessert etc, but they give you some ideas.

Breakfasts: I would definitely teach the children about healthy green smoothies, especially as it's an easy way to get green vegetables in us at breakfast time.  To begin with, it's important to not go too heavy on the strong flavored green leafy vegetables until they get used to the green taste, so adding more fruit for the first week or so helps, for example a banana or a couple of dates. I make my smoothies with only fruit and vegetables - no milk or yoghurt or anything else.

Photo by jules:stonesoup

1.Mango spinach smoothie.  A bag of frozen mango and a few handfuls of spinach blended up together, with a little water to get the consistency that you want.
2. Applesauce smoothie - 3 apples, a banana, a bunch of parsley and some root ginger and water.
3.Lettuce smoothie - 3 cups of lettuce, 2 pears,half a pint of blueberries and water.

Lunches:  Often school lunches include processed meats and cheese, but there are many other healthy meals like soups and salads or cold left overs that kids can take in attractive containers to school.


4. Raw almond nut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, plus orange or apple slices.
5. Whole wheat pita bread pocket filled with hummus, salad and nut/fruit dressing and some pineapple or seasonal fruit.
6. Carrot cream soup made with carrots, zucchini, onions etc and raw cashews for the creaminess. Kids often like soups cold so they can take it as is or warmed and in a thermos.

Dinners: Dinners a typically a good meal to start with a salad with some beans, mushrooms, onions, seeds, nuts and berries.  The following are suggestions after the salad or to accompany the salad.


7. California Creamed Kale.  Kale is such a high-nutrient green vegetable that you can add to soups or serve chopped.  In this recipe, the kale is lightly steamed and then served with a soy milk and cashew cream
8. Healthy potato fries.  Potatoes, cut into fries,  are mixed in apple juice and left for 5 minutes, then the juice drained and they are baked in the oven for about 20 minutes.
9. Pita-bread pizza.  Using whole wheat pita, no salt tomato sauce, mushrooms, broccoli, onions and soy cheese.
10. Squash Fantasia - Baked dish made with apricots, raisins, orange juice, butternut squash, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Small portions of organic, white meat or eggs can be added to any of these - using meat more as a condiment or flavoring rather than the focus of the meal.

And not forgetting Dessert - how about non-dairy ice cream - made by freezing bananas and then when frozen, blending them in a high powered blender. Yummy on it's own, but even better when other fruit is added to the blender too, like strawberries or raspberries or blueberries or else almond butter, or cocoa or......  Tastes like soft scoop ice cream.



Gosh, this could go on for ever, but I hope this gives some ideas.  What would you suggest? What are your kids favorites?

If you are looking for more information on how healthy eating for kids can protect  them  from diseases, check out Dr Fuhrman's book "Disease-proof your child - Feeding kids right".
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Making Nut Cheese

I don't eat dairy, so this week I thought I'd tried my hand at making some cheese using nuts instead of dairy.  It was a soft cheese and I am really pleased with how it turned out.


The cheese was made from cashew nuts - and I did two types - one which I dehydrated to form a rind, and the other which I didn't dehydrate (the dehydrated one is at the back of the photo below).



The recipe I used was one I found on the blog Golubka.  I hadn't seen her blog before until I started searching for nut cheese recipes.  But now I've found it - I really like it.  Hope you'll take a look.

The cheese really is simple to make and includes Bio-K probiotics, so you can feel good about eating cheese  as it is providing lots of healthy bugs for digestion.  Here is the recipe with slight modifications to my tastes:

Ingredients
3/4 cup of cashews
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons of Bio-K probiotics - non-dairy
1 teaspoon raw honey
Dash of Spike or No-salt (salt alternative)

1. Soak the cashews in water overnight.  Drain. They will swell to be 1 cup full.


2. Blend all the ingredients together in a Vitamix/Blendtec or powerful blender until smooth.


3. Put into a stainless steel ring former* on parchment paper and either refrigerate overnight or dehydrate overnight.



4. After a couple of hours dehydrating, I removed the ring former so that the sides of the cheese would also form a rind.


*A ring former can be a cookie cutter or muffin ring or something like this ring former.  Basically it just shapes the cheese but you can alternatively just have it free form.


I actually prefer the taste and texture of the un-dehydrated cheese.  It reminds me of boursin cheese in it's texture.  I love cheese with raw honey and fruit.  You can see I added chopped chives to one of the cheeses...you could also mix in or use as a garnish any of the following: garlic, dill, edible flowers, ginger, dried cranberries, figs, or.....So many options. I'll definitely be making it again.  Hmmm, I think I might try dried lemon peel next time......


Let me know if you give it a go.  Thanks Golubka.
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Pretty in Pink - Rhubarb Smoothie

I was going to make a smoothie yesterday but the only frozen fruit I had was some rhubarb - so I made my first rhubarb smoothie!

And FYI: Did you know that in the US, Rhubarb is considered a fruit, but elsewhere it is considered a vegetable?  A New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used as a fruit in the US, it was to be counted as a fruit for the regulations and duties.  A side effect was the reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits.

Pretty in Pink

For most smoothies, I just use fruits and vegetables and nothing else - but the pink of the rhubarb made me want to have this a little creamy.  So I added a carton of Bio-K probiotic - which looks like yogurt, but isn't yogurt - but has 50 billion probiotics in it and is non-dairy and has no sugar. I then also added a product I just found this week - pomegranate powder. It is made from freeze drying pomegranate seeds and then grinding them into a powder.  I adore pomegranates but, sadly, it is no longer their season, so I thought I'd give this a go.


It's a pretty pink powder and considered a superfood.  It has lots of vitamins and minerals, especially high in Vitamin C and potassium.  Potassium is an often overlooked mineral but made more important for us because of the high levels of sodium we consume as salt in our diets.  Practically every packaged food we consume contains high levels of sodium and the balance in our bodies of sodium to potassium is very important.  Potassium is generally inside cells and sodium is generally outside of cells. But when there is an imbalance, sodium goes inside the cells and can affect the reactions in the cell, and ultimately lead to disease.


So reducing salt intake and increasing potassium intake can really help prevent illness and also treat illness.

I don't generally like sweet things but after blending the rhubarb, BioK and pomegranate powder in the blender, with a little water, I realized it needed a little sweetness, so I added a banana.

Now, it is delicious.  The creaminess is very satisfying, - a great way to get a high dose of probiotics - and the sharpness suits my taste perfectly. And the color just makes me happy! I think I'm going to have to get more frozen rhubarb as a staple for my smoothies!

Recipe
1 packet of frozen rhubarb
1 carton of non-dairy Bio-K probiotics
1 tablespoon of pomegranate powder
1 banana
Blend until smooth and enjoy! Makes two 8 oz glasses. 
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Quick seasonal persimmon smoothie


This time of year is perfect for using up those oh-so ripe Persimmons. We have a Hachiya persimmon tree and right now, it looks like a Christmas tree with bright orange persimmons as baubles.


The Hachiya persimmons are the heart shaped fruits that have to be eaten ONLY when really, really, really soft! They are terribly astringent beforehand - meaning that they dry your mouth out uncomfortably. It is the Fuyu persimmons that you can eat crunchy. Don't mistake the two, as you'll get a shock! Select Hachiya persimmons that feel like they are about to fall apart in your hand. Very squidgy is perfect...if you are in any doubt - leave it - or I dare you to try it and learn what astringency really is!  In England, the persimmons you get there are called Sharon Fruit.  They are a modified species like the hachiya but no longer astringent.

With all the rich foods we tend to eat this time of year, substituting a meal with a green smoothie is a great idea - even if this "green smoothie" is actually orange! Persimmons are low in calories, rich in fiber, contain many health benefiting phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants as well as good levels of minerals. Then there are all the benefits of eating/drinking the greens!

My smoothie recipes tend to be simple and make use of what I have and what needs using up. Here's what I made this morning:


Persimmon Smoothie Recipe: (serves two)
6 hachiya persimmons
1/2 cup of water (can be increased or decreased to your preference, whether you like thick or runny smoothies)
2 handfuls of variety of lettuce (I used romaine and some mixed leaves)
3 inches from the top of a head of celery (include leaves).

Halve the persimmons and scoop out the pulp, leaving the little white stalk/core part that you can see in this photo. I use a grapefruit spoon to do this, with the little teeth to get all the pulp out.

Put all the ingredients in the order listed in a Vitamix or powerful blender. Blend for a few seconds until smooth. Enjoy!



Stay healthy this Christmas-time.
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