MUSHROOM SERIES 1: LEMON, POPPY SEED AND CHAGA MUSHROOM COOKIES (V+, NF, ChF, GF)

MUSHROOM SERIES 1: LEMON, POPPY SEED AND CHAGA MUSHROOM COOKIES (V+, GF, NF, ChF)

Let's talk about the elephant in the room, shall well? Mushrooms in cookies, what's up with that? Before I explain, let me just say:

1. No, I'm not going mad. Not yet anyway ;)
2. These cookies taste AMAZE!
3. Your kids won't know there are mushrooms inside these cookies, I promise. 
4. And YES, it's TOTALLY worth adding in this weird but wonderful Chaga mushroom.

As you may remember I am not a massive fan of the 'superfood' tag. Basically I feel it's so overused. BUT after my encounter with a raw food expert (more about that in this blog post) and a fascinating lecture about medicinal mushrooms (not magic mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms ok?:)), I can honestly say that I am completely sold on them. So much so, that the next 4 recipes I'll post here on the blog (this one included) will contain a different medicinal mushroom.

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GLUTEN-FREE NO-BAKE GRANOLA BARS (GF, V+, ChF, NF)

GLUTEN-FREE NO-BAKE GRANOLA BARS (V+, GF, NF, ChF)

"I know one thing: that I know nothing" - Plato

It's MEAT-FREE WEEK here in the UK and guess what? I'm in. Wholeheartedly. Completely. Totally ;)!

So I gotta thinking how best to use this really cool and important week in the foodie calender. Of course I'm gonna share a cracking plant-based recipe with ya'll, right?! But I also thought it would be a great excuse to finally talk in detail about the what, why and how I eat. I've been meaning to do this for donkey's years (ok, maybe just 10 months aka since launching this blog), but up until now it didn't seem like quite the right time. As my readership has grown though I feel it's so important for me to continue to be open, honest and transparent about my food philosophy. I owe that to you, my readers and I owe it to the integrity of my blog :).

To be clear, I'm under no illusion that my writing in this post is 'the ultimate truth'. It's just my personal view as I hold it in the here and now. However, I'm always open to learn and explore other ideas and thoughts; I want to keep developing my knowledge about food and hence should I learn something that challenges what I presently think, I'll be sure to let you know ;).

WARNING: This is a long post. Please skip to the recipe section at the bottom if you want to. I won't mind :)

COLLAGEGRANOLA


Are you a raw foodist?
I LOVE raw food and I strongly believe that everyone can benefit from increasing the amount of raw plant based foods in their diet, which is why there are lots of raw recipes on this site. But I don't exclusively eat raw foods. I did a blog post a while back about why. Check it out here if you want to :).

Are you a vegan?
Nope, I'm not a vegan.

So are you a vegetarian then?
Nope. Like 'vegan' it's a title that doesn't fit me 100% and actually doesn't quite describe what and how I choose to eat. So, I'm uncomfy with it.

What about paleo?
You'll find lots of paleo recipes here, but that label definitely isn't 'me'. I ADORE legumes and grains. They form a major part of my diet.

But you constantly use hashtags like #vegan, #vegetarian and #paleo on instagram and twitter. Isn't that a bit misleading?
I hope not. I use these hashtags to help people who are curious about vegan, vegetarian and paleo foods find my recipes. If a recipe is vegan, I will use the vegan hashtag; so in essence I'm trying to describe the food, rather than define who I am with the chosen hashtags. Does that make sense?

I occasionally use the hastag veganmom not because I am a veganmom, but because the recipe is especially family and kiddie friendly and something I think a vegan parent would like.

So how DO you describe yourself?
Firstly, I'm a human being ;).

Secondly, if I HAVE to put myself in a foodie camp, I'd say I eat a mainly whole food plant-based diet. This means that the fast majority (around 95%) of what I eat are seasonal, local, organic, whole, plant-based foods such as veggies, fruits, legumes, grains, etc.

And what makes up the rest of your diet?
I LOVE honey and bee pollen, which aren't strictly 'vegan' foods. I can also be a bit naughty and bake cakes that includes refined sugar or be really naughty and have something pretty vile like ketchup (I LOVE that stuff) or soya products. I eat eggs, probably 1-2 every week, and use mayonnaise occasionally. A couple of the ingredients I cook with might not be organic or seasonal and sometimes you'll even see me nibble on a piece of raw, oily fish. Not often, but it can happen.

Fish? Isn't that cruel? Doesn't it go against everything the blog stands for? How do you justify eating that?
Some people choose to eat a vegan or plant-based diet because their main concern is the welfare of animals. Though it is something I think about A LOT, it's not how I ended up where I am now. Instead my drive towards a plant-based diet came out of my desire to be healthier. I suffered from really bad constipation after having my son and was eager to try and figure out what was going on with my body. Furthermore, when my son stopped breastfeeding and moved on to finger foods, I wanted to be sure I was giving him the best and healthiest meals possible. One thing led to the next and before I knew it, I'd read every book about food and health I could get my hands on.  

The more I read, the clearer it became to me that a whole food, plant-based diet was the way forward. I tried it and felt like a million dollars. I haven't looked back. Now I'm in my second year of retraining as a nutritional therapist and the course has just confirmed what I already experienced for myself: that the power of plant-based food is fascinating cool and super healthy!

The second most important driving force towards the diet that I presently follow has been my deep love for Patch Mama (Mother Earth). She feeds us and looks after us and you know, we need to respect, honour and care for her. Eating a whole, seasonal, organic plant-based diet – I feel – is the best way to do that.

Lastly, I did a lot of reading about farmed animals, their suffering and you know what? I just didn't want to be a part of that. I don't judge anyone who is. And I don't believe that omnivores are 'cruel' or 'bad' or 'ignorant' or that vegans are necessarily more 'enlightened', 'compassionate' or 'better' human beings. I have met lots of omnivores (including my husband) who have a heart of gold. (Though rest assured, I'm working on him ;).)

More importantly, I think it's my role as a plant-based blogger to spread love and acceptance, not hate and anger, which is something I know many other plant-based, vegan and vegetarian bloggers are commited to.

Which leads me to the issue of eating fish. It's a very tricky one for me. Because healthwise, I feel that the small amount of raw fish that I do eat has more positives than it does negatives. In particular fish's vitamin D content is something that does me good.

I feel that eating more than the occasional piece of wild fish puts a tremendous pressure on our oceans. It breaks my heart that we're depleting our marine resources the way that we are. And hence - despite my joy of eating fish - I know I need to keep it in close check. Will I give up fish completely? I don't think so. Do I feel eating fish is cruel? Honestly, I don't. But things shift and change so watch this space.

Any more confessions?
Nope, but I will do a post about how I feed my family at some point as that's a whole different topic in itself...

Just for the record though I don't do red meat, chicken, turkey, duck etc. And I am really not into dairy. I can't see that ever changing. But something like this could happen, right!? Other than that, you can safely bet your bottom dollar you won't see me sneaking a piece of spam into my mouth;). 

Finally, does that mean you'll include egg or fish recipes on your blog?
I have unintentionally never included (free range, organic) egg recipes, but I will because I do eat them and find them very versatile. My baking recipes however will remain 100% egg-free.

I can promise that you won't see fish here. 


They say boredom is a great excuse to eat. So let's eat, shall we?
Thanks for reading everyone.

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GLUTEN-FREE NO-BAKE GRANOLA BARS (V+, GF, ChF, NF)


IMPORTANT: This recipe is adapted from one I found in Angela Liddon's truly wonderful book The Oh She Glows Cookbook. It's a firm favourite! Also, please check the tips at the end of the recipe for substitutions and other suggestions.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 12 scrumptious bars

Ingredients:

½ cup (65g) (organic) sesame seeds
1 ½ cups (125g) (organic) gluten-free oats
1 ¼ cup (180g) (organic) buckwheat
¼ (25g) (organic) goji berries
¼ cup (35g) (organic) raisins
1tsp (organic) ground cinnamon
¼ tsp pink Himalayan Salt
½ cups (120ml) maple syrup
¼ cup (60ml) light tahini
1 tsp pure (organic) vanilla extract

Instructions:
Get all the ingredients out onto the kitchen counter and ready to use.
Line a square baking tray with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the oats, buckwheat, goji berries, raisins, cinnamon and salt.

In a little pot, gently heat the maple syrup and tahini until nicely combined. Take this mixture of the heat and add the vanilla.
Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and combine well.

Transfer this onto the prepared baking tray, spreading the mixture as evenly as you can. (Feel free to use your fingers if need be).
Pop in the freezer for 20 minutes or until set.

Remove from the freezer and cut into 12 bars.

You can store the bars in the fridge, but I'd recommend storing them in the freezer (for up to a month) and taking one out when you fancy it. They are GREAT for breakfast on the go or as a filling snack.

Tip 1: When you take a bar from the freezer wait 5-10 minutes before eating. However, I did notice if I left it out too long, it didn't hold together that well. When that happened, I transformed the bar into a chunky granola and enjoyed it with some almond milk. Yummy.
Tip 2: I used toasted buckwheat, but you could use raw buckwheat too. Just soak them overnight before using.
Tip 3: I know some people who are gluten intolerant don't do well with oats, regardless of whether the oats are gluten-free or not. If that's you, just swap them with millet flakes.
Tip 4: I used black sesame seeds, but there's nothing stopping you using white ones.

Looking for more breakfast ideas? Just click here:)

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PART II: THE BEST VEGAN COOKIES EVER AKA GLUTEN FREE PISTACHIO AND CARDAMOM COOKIES (V+, ChF, GF)

PART II: THE BEST VEGAN COOKIES EVER AKA GLUTEN-FREE CARDAMOM AND PISTACHIO COOKIES (V+, ChF, GF)

When I started 2015 I put together a little 'wish list' for the blog, full of dreams, hopes and ambitions. One of these wishes was to have my recipe featured in a magazine. Initially, I was ambivalent about writing down this very personal dream on my blog for everyone to see – what if I failed and didn't get published? Wouldn't I look utterly silly? But, trusting in the power of positivity and affirmation I went for it and wrote it down. So what if I didn't suceed and never got featured? You live and learn, right? 

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PART I: THE BEST VEGAN COOKIES EVER AKA VEGAN BREAKFAST COOKIES (V+, ChF)

PART I: THE BEST VEGAN COOKIES EVER AKA VEGAN BREAKFAST COOKIES (V+, ChF)

Picture this: I'm sitting in the office, minding my own business when one of my work colleagues starts taking about baking and healthy eating. My ears perk up. She's rather negative about vegan baking, so I'm definitely all ears now! Then she says: ''I don't like vegan desserts. For me desserts have to taste like proper desserts and that means they have to be made with lots of butter!''

What?!? She didn't just say that, did she? Ok, she's got my complete and undivided attention now! Firstly, let me be clear here. I greatly appreciate her honesty and completely respect her views (no, really I do). Secondly I must say, she's a total sweetie and I love her no nonsense approach, but there is no way in the world I can hear that comment and not respond. With words initially, but then with a much more powerful weapon: The best out-of-this-world-finger-lickin'-good vegan cookies ever (massive statement, I know - totally subjective, I know - but I stand by it 100%).

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BEETBUTTER (V+, GF, R, P, GrF)

BEETBUTTER (V+, R, P, GF, GrF)

I wish I could say something inspiring, clever, thoughtful, reflective or funny even. And how I wish I could include a quote from some literary master. But the truth is life's been pretty hectic at the mo' and I gotta keep it short and sweet today. You see, motherhood has kept me busy :) as well as this MASSIVE biochemistry/nutrition exam I've been revising for. It's on Friday. :(. YIKES! So, everything else has kinda had to go on hold.

Thank goodness there was time to celebrate Valentine's day with my 3 loves though – hubby, son and... kale. I know the kale bouquet has nothing to do with today's recipe but it was so cute, I HAD to share it here with you guys. (Can you blame a proud mama?) 

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SWEDISH CRISP BREAD: 4 WAYS + WINTER YOGA WORKSHOP & VEGAN DINNER IMPRESSIONS (V+, GF, ChF, NF)

SWEDISH CRISP BREAD; 4 WAYS + WINTER YOGA WORKSHOP & VEGAN DINNER IMPRESSIONS (V+, GF, ChF, NF)

In December (oh gosh, that seems so long ago now!) I hosted a winter yoga workshop in a converted warehouse in South East London. Some lovely yoginis joined me for a sweaty and fun ashtanga yoga practice. Their hard work didn't go unnoticed and certainly didn't go unrewarded because after nearly 2 hours on the yoga mat, I made sure they had the opportunity to enjoy a nourishing and delicious vegan winter soup. 

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B/W Photos by: JOASIS PHOTOGRAPHY                                                                    (gluten-free)

We all tucked into my seasonal curried butternut squash soup, a firm favourite from the blog. It was super yummy and I am proud to report that not a drop remained uneaten. Cheekily I also did some recipe testing on my students and 'made' them try some home-made Swedish crisp bread. I'd discovered the recipe during a girly get-together a few months earlier and wanted to make sure it was blog worthy. The recipe is on the blog today so I am sure you can figure out what the feedback was ;)

CURRIED POTATO, CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI SALAD (V+, V,GF, NF, GrF)

CURRIED POTATO, CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI SALAD (V+, V, NF, GrF, GF)

'You will run and try to hide
but I will never turn away 
I know you 
are tired and broken
I know you 
are fallen and feeling held down
so you raise another glass to fall apart
I know you
are tired and broken' 
 SUMERA

Isn't family a wonderfuly funny thing? I mean has it ever crossed your mind that we don't get to choose our mother or father or our sons or daughters? And we certainly don't get to choose our brothers or sisters. Yet that bond we establish with these special people is incredible. No matter what happens, no matters what c**p you go through together, at the very end of the day, they are there for you, just like you are there for them. Always. No questions asked.

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My sister Sumera and I are, well - how shall I put it? - total and complete, polar opposites. Sure, the 7 year age gap means we were never likely to be into the same stuff, but I dare say, it was always more than that. Whereas I was a planner, she was pretty impulsive. I loved social situations but she was more introverted. When we were growing up I easily adapted to the rules of academic settings. In contrast Sumera was super clever, but too free-spirited and creative to even have the desire to thrive in school. In short, I was the quintessential first-born, whereas Sumera lived up to the stereo-type of being the middle child. Needless to say, our different temperaments meant that we often clashed; though there was never a shadow of doubt in either one of our minds or hearts that we deeply, deeply cared for each other. 

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Photo by: Joost Vandebrug

FLUE FIGHTING WINTER JUICE: 5 WAYS (V+, R, GF, P, NF, GrF, ChF)

FLUE FIGHTING WINTER JUICE: 5 WAYS (V+, R, P, GF, NT, ChF, GrF)

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! It's sooooo good to be back. I really, really, really missed writing, creating recipes and taking pictures for the blog. And I missed being part of the blogging community :). But the 3 weeks off did me well and I can't think of a better month than January to start blogging again! I know lots of people think the first month of the year is too dark, too gloomy and too depressing but you know what? I am rather fond of January. That's because the beginning of the year to me means a chance to make a fresh start and to be a better, healthier and happier me :).

Like many of you, I tend to make a wish list of things I want to accomplish and achieve . (I don't like using the term New Year's resolutions as it kinda implies that it'll all fall to pieces before Jan is even over ;). Whereas wish list is more positive, more attainable and less conspicuous, don't you think?). I always post my New Year's wish list on my personal facebook page because the scrutiny of family and friends, as well as their support and encouragement, makes me work harder at completing all items on my list.

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UPDATED! SUN-DRIED TOMATO PÂTÉ (V+, P, GF, R, GrF)

UPDATED! SUN-DRIED TOMATO PÂTÉ (V+, P, GF, R, GrF)

NOTE: The pictures were updated in September 2015.

A few weeks ago the lovely Ksenia - the blogger behind At the Immigrant's Table - nominate me for the Liebster Award (remember I mentioned Ksenia last week?). Please, don't get too excited, the Liebsters ain't the Oscars ;), but the award is a superdy duperdy cute way of making the food blogging world feel like a real, caring and tangible community. Consequently I was delighted and rather flattered that I'd been chosen for this award. Thank you soooo much Ksenia :). 

First things first, the Liebster Award Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you by providing a link to their blog 
2. Display the award badge
3. Answer 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you
4. List 11 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 11 bloggers 
6. Pose 11 questions to said nominees
7. Go to each nominee’s blog and notify them of their nomination

YIKES! I got my work cut out!
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UPDATED! GLUTEN-FREE APPLE AND PARSNIP CAKE (V+, GF, NF, ChF)

UPDATED! GLUTEN-FREE APPLE AND PARSNIP CAKE (V+, GF, NF, ChF)

Before the arrival of 3-layered pistachio and pomegranate cake with buckwheat crunchies, before triple chocolate, gold-swirled brownies with salted caramel frosting and even before raw vegan cheesecake with popcorn flavoured fruit layers, there was the good old apple pie. (Please note I am using 'apple pie' as an umbrella term here. It in fact covers the following: apple cake, apple crumble, apple turnover, apple muffins and aything else apple/dessert related). Yup, this post is all about the humble apple pie, which has been so cruelly overlooked as things have become more and more extravagant in our kitchens of late. But I'm determined to change all that and take us back to the good old days.  

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However, honesty is always the best olicy and I must admit, that I too nearly forgot all about her. That was until I got my fruit and veg box delivery the other day and found several dessert apples hidden inside. Gosh, yes, why not make an apple pie, I though! Now all I needed was a lovely recipe.

With that in mind I made myself comforty in front of my (brand new) computer and searched the net high and low for the best apple pie inspirations I could find... 

And OMG what I found was so drool-worthy, I knew I needed to create a blog post dedicated to all things apple pie related. And - lucky you! - here it is, a compilation of some of the best apple creations out there just waiting for you to put the oven on and start baking:

1. My starting point was the super moist looking apple cake by the very talented Ksenia. I loved what she made so much that I tried out the recipe myself (see my veganised version here). We had a friend over at the time and together finished the cake in 1 weekend! Yup, it was THAT good. So, from Ksenia's recipe I took the idea of making my apple creation gluten-free.

2. Ksenia got her inspiration from Karin, the ''Baking Guru of Israel''. You know you're onto something good when the words guru and baking appear in the same sentence, right ;)? Personally, I just loved the simplicity of Karin's cake. So from her I took the idea of making my creation rectangular and uncomplicated. 

3. Next, I saw this to-die-for apple tart recipe by Yossy Arefi, the blogger and baker behind Apartment 2B Baking Company. I just loved how beautiful, yet understated and unpretentious the tart was. I couldn't help but want a piece of what she was having (*gush*). From Yossy I got the idea of sprinkling my version with icing's sugar. 

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4. Next there was Laura and Nora, the boggers behind THIS apple pie which just took my breath away. Those stunning pictures of the most perfect pie eating setting I ever did see - need I say more? I mean, how can you see that table and not want to sit at it? 

5. Allison and her children's apple muffins hold a very, very special place in my heart. I love the muffins because I can just see my son and I in the kitchen making them together; that image alone makes me beyond happy. But there is more - what's the point of a nice blog post/recipe if the writing doesn't grab you? Well, Allison's blog entry certainly grabbed me. In fact it pulled pretty hard at my heart strings cuz it resonated with me as a woman and as a mother in a way that no other blog post had before. Thank you Allison. 

6. Last but certainly not least, I bought the pretty and inspirational book DECORATED by April Carter. In it is a recipe of an apple and parsnip cake which looked divine. Though my recipe is rather different, I did steal her idea of combining apples and parsnips for my apple creation ;).

So that leads us to my little bake: a simple, yet delicious vegan and gluten-free apple and parsnip cake. I am rather pleased with this moist and yummy number and hope you too will give this a try in your kitchen. Happy baking! 

UPDATED! GLUTEN-FREE APPLE AND PARSNIP CAKE (V+, GF, NF)

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 35- 40 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
225g (organic) sugar
300g gluten-free all purpose flour (see tips below for substitutions)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1tsp (gluten-free) baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt (I used pink salt)
¼ tsp organic vanilla powder or vanilla extract
3tbs milled organic flaxseed (see tips below for substitutions)
9tbs water
250ml olive oil (plus a tiny bit extra for greasing)
100g grated (organic) parsnips (about 1 parsnip)
200g grated (organic) apple (about 1.5 apples) (see tips below)

To garnish
2 - 3 apples + juice of 1 lemon 
A sprinkle of icing sugar (optional)

IMPORTANT: Please check the tips at the end of the recipe before you start making it as this makes 1 very large cake (like this one here) or two littler ones as shown!

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Instructions:
Take out and measure/weigh all your ingredients and place them on your work surface.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C (356F) or 160C/fan (320F). Grease a 30cmx23cm (12¼ ‘’ x 8¾ ‘’) shallow cake tray with a table spoon or so of olive oil OR 2 round cake tins 20cm in diametre (around 8 inches). Line with non-stick, greaseproof baking paper. Set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, spices, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda). Set aside.

Mix the flaxseed and water together and set aside.

Wash , peel and remove the core of the parsnip and apple. Grate.

For the garnish wash, peel and core 2-3 apples. Cut into 4 pieces and slice the top finely, whilst still insuring the pieces hold together. Place the 1/4, sliced apple pieces in a small bowl and pour over the juice of a lemon. Mix the apple pieces in the juice until you are sure they are covered in lemon juice.

Next combine the flaxseed, water, oil and grated apple and parsnip. Combine nicely with the dry ingredients. Then place the cake mix into the lined and prepared cake tray or evenly distrubute into 2 trays if making 2 cakes. Spread evenly. Place the sliced apple on top as shown. 

Next, place the cake(s) in the oven. Bake for about 30-40 minutes. As you take the cake(s) from the oven, it should have a little bit of a bounce when you touch it.

Leave the cake(s) to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake(s) from the tray and let it cool another 10 minutes or so. Garnish with icing sugar and... enjoy.


IMPORTANT: Please read the tips below for substitutions

Tip 1: If gluten-free flour is hard to come by, remember you can use regular (organic) all-purpose flour instead. Your cake just won't be gluten-free though.
Tip 2: You can use milled chia seed instead of milled flax seed OR if you prefer replace the 3tbs of flax seed and 9 tbs of water with 3 eggs, making this a vegetarian rather than a vegan cake. It’s up to you.
Tip 3: Which apples should you use? That’s a good one. Frankly, I’m pretty relaxed about these sorts of things but for the grated apple I used tart baking apples. For the slices I used sweet red apples. Rather random as I don’t think it matters that much. Use what’s local, affordable and in season. 
Tip 4: I updated this recipe in November 2015. Originally I had made 1 large cake, which is perfectly fine, but as I was re-shooting the pictures I tried using the cake mixture for 2 smaller round cakes (as shown) and found the recipe worked just as well.

Eat with... a glass of home-made seed milk or home-made almond milk. Perfect!

SAVOURY BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHESTNUT PIE (V+, V, P, GF, GrF)

SAVOURY BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHESTNUT PIE (V+, P, GF, V, GrF)

A few weeks ago, Agnes, who writes the beautiful blog Cashew Kitchen asked me on Instagram what 10 things made me happy. Little did Agnes know though that the day she posed this question, I was anything but happy.

My son had just started school, so I was feeling quite fragile. We had builders and gardeners turn our house upside down and it resembled more of a chaotic pigsty than a stylish family home. And I had literally tried to juggle way too many things with just two hands, resulting in me dropping and breaking my laptop :(.

Not the best time to thinking about happiness, or was it?

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TAHINI DIP AND ALMOST RAW KALE CHIPS (V+, P, GF, NF, R, GrF, ChF)

TAHINI DIP (V+, R, GF, NF, P, GrF) AND ALMOST RAW KALE CHIPS (V+, GF, NF, P, GrF, ChF)

No one can claim that opportunities to learn about cooking aren’t all around us. For starters, the internet is such a wonderful source of cooking inspiration; the array of creative food blogs out there is near to overwhelming! And then of course there are 100s of cookbooks to fall in love with, countless stylish cooking magazines to subscribe to and free recipe cards galore to grab hold of at your local supermarket. I mean, come on, there was never a better time to be a food geek.

And though I have indulged in all the options noted above, this week I thought I’d go all old school and do something a little bit different... To celebrate ‘Homemade Bread Day’ I decided to emulate what women did centuries ago i.e. hang out near a big fire, catch up on village gossip whilst preparing a delicious meal together. To recreate a modern day version of this girly tradition I invited some pretty cool female friends into my kitchen where we chatted, cried, giggled, moaned about the pressures of being working, middle-class moms and baked some yummy scrummy goodies.

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ANDEAN CABBAGE CURRY (V+, V, GF, NF, P, GrF)

ANDEAN CABBAGE CURRY (V, V+, GF, NF, P, GrF)

12 years ago this week, I married the most amazing man I have ever, ever met. Seeing he was born in the Andes, it feels like the perfect time to share this dish with you....

Please, please, please do not judge this curry on its appearance! What it lacks in looks, it makes up totally, utterly and completely in taste. This dish is so unique and its flavours so unexpected, I’m really, really proud to be able to feature it here on my blog. 

The inspiration for this recipe comes from high up in the Andes.
When my husband was little and lived in the mountains of Ecuador, there was an old lady who used to sell cabbage and potatoes in a rich pumpkin seed and peanut sauce. She was the only person selling a vegetarian dish in the whole of the town. The old lady had her small stand on market day, just on the corner, where she stood behind a big black pot filled with boiled potatoes, cabbage and sauce.

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AUTUMNAL AUBERGINE DIP (V+, P, GF, NF, GrF)

AUTUMNAL AUBERGINE DIP (V+, GF, NF, P, GrF)

''La vida no es como deberia ser, sino como es.'' - Facundo Cabral (1937 - 2011)

''Life is not as it should be but as it is.'' - Facundo Cabral (1937- 2011)


I had it all planned. So perfect. So organised. Thinking I was being really clever, I prepared 2-3 dishes for the blog in advance several weeks ago. I photographed and edited them, then stored them away in a file titled 'rainy day reserves'.

That rainy day came this week. It came with a vengence; you see it is getting colder, darker and well... rainier so finding the right lighting for my photoshoots has been quite hard. In addition, my son is off school, my husband is away on a business trip and consequently photographing and styling fresh material for the blog is completely impossible (I tried it in the past, but 4.5 year olds and food photography do not pair well;)). 

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SPICED FRUIT STEW - COLADA MORADA (V+, NF, GF, ChF, GrF)

SPICED FRUIT STEW - COLADA MORADA (V+, GF, NF, ChF, GrF)

Turn back the clock by about 6 years: It’s the morning of Halloween. I frantically run to the supermarket, get a family sized pack of miniature milk chocolate bars and - that evening - hand them out to unassuming children after they have politely rung our doorbell and chanted ‘trick-or-treat’.

Of course there are left-over chocolate bars. There always are. I eat 1-2 (honest ;)) and then take the rest into the office at the earliest opportunity, causing a handful of work colleagues to abandon their diets and yet strangly feel better for it; at least temptation is no longer within my four walls.

Fast forward: I become a mother. Then I learn more about nutrition. Then I question my actions...

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UPDATED! BACK-TO-SCHOOL GRANOLA (V+, GF, V, NF, ChF) & HOME-MADE SEED MILK (V+, R, P, GF, NF, Chf, GrF)

UPDATED! BACK-TO-SCHOOL GRANOLA (V+, GF, V, NF, ChF) and HOME-MADE SEED MILK (V+, R, P, GF, NF, ChF, GrF)

NOTE: The pictures were updated and the recipe improved in June 2015.

I write this blog entry on my 4-year-old son’s first day of school (which is a few weeks ago by now). I had mixed emotions, to say the least, about him starting his formal education so young and would have preferred he spent another year or two climbing trees instead and letting his imagination run roit. But alas, the English education system didn’t allow for it.

My son must have picked up on my feelings as - before starting – he said he thought school was 'dumb' (I think he’d have loved to have used the ‘S....D’ word, but that isn’t permitted in our house – just for your info ;)). However, to my surprise, he whizzed into class today with a big smile on his face, barely able to contain his excitement. In fact, he was so quick he never did see my tears (Thank you God!).

UPDATED! SWEET POTATO PIE SMOOTHIE (V+, P, GF, NF, ChF, GrF)

UPDATED! SWEET POTATO PIE SMOOTHIE (V+, P, GF, NF, ChF, GrF)

NOTE: The pictures and recipe for this blog post were updated and improved in October, 2015.

This post is dedicated to all the breast cancer thrivers and survivors out there!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and there is no way I'm not using this blog to raise awareness about the C word!!! Because, shall I tell you a secret? I HATE Cancer. I LOATH it. I DESPISE it! I've never had it (Thank you God), but too many people I know have and it's ain't pretty.

I particularly dislike breast cancer; as a woman this illness evokes very strong sentiments in me and as someone who works in a predominantly female office (I'm an adoption social worker), I feel I'm constantly surrounded by it or the threat of it. That is because I am...

Just in the last 18 months three work colleagues of mine have been affected by breast cancer in one way or another. Thank goodness they are alive and brave and strong and standing. And I admire their courage and determination to fight with all their might. All three of them seem to be doing amazingly well now, by the way :), but stats in the UK are depressing with more than 12,000 women and 80 men dying of the illness every year! :(

I know, it's not like me to write doom and gloom blog posts, so let's talk about the good news quickly, ok? The good news is that I so strongly believe that we each have the power to reduce our chances of getting cancer. Yup, you read that correctly. Big stuff eh?! So how can we take matters into our own hands and kick cancer to the curb? By eating the right food. Another big statement, I know. 

(ALMOST RAW) BEETROOT CRISPS/CHIPS (V+, P, NF, GF, GrF, ChF)

(ALMOST RAW) BEETROOT CRISPS/CHIPS (V+, P, NF, GF, GrF, ChF)

Today is a pretty special day. I mean a super special day. I mean a super duper special day because my little sister’s first single from her first album has been unleashed! (I mentioned my sister Sumera before, here and here, remember?) (WHOOOOOOOOO!!!!! HOOORRRAAAYYYY!!! YIIIHHAAAA). Oh man, our entire family – in London, Spain, Holland, Ecuador, Colombia, Portugal, the Caribbean, the US - EVERYONE is oh so excited, proud and over the moon that all her hard work has resulted in the masterpiece that is WOLF. And this spot in cyberspace is MY opportunity to brag about Sumera because I am utterly and completely besotted with her work.

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UPDATED! HOME-MADE ALMOND MILK (V+, P, R, GF, ChF, GrF)

UPDATED! HOME-MADE ALMOND MILK (R, V+, GF, P, ChF, GrF)

NOTE: The pictures for this blog post were updated September, 2015. 

Let me be open and clear: As I write this post, we are not a dairy-free household. (Ouf, glad that’s out in the open and no, I am not planning a Swiss fondue recipe for the blog any time soon, in case you were wondering). Although I personally don’t consume any dairy and would love it if my husband and my son didn’t either, the reality is, they do. To be frank, I am ok about it because I appreciate that they have to find their own path in their own sweet time. I see my role not to judge them but to offer as many (better) alternatives as I can. I’d also like to stress though that I have the utmost respect for families who take a more definite and decisive vegan approach. Fantastic, amazing, wonderful :), I may even be a tad jealous, but I also know it’s just not for us. 

Like I mentioned last week, we are really only just embarking on our plant-based journey and still have a long way to go. But it’s so exciting to be at the start of something so big; I love this moment right now, right here and all it has to offer in the form of new discoveries and the shape of awesome opportunities. Importantly though we’re making lots of big steps in the right direction, but ...

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DOROTHY'S NOURISHING QUINOA BOWL (V+, NF, GF, ChF)

DOROTHY'S NOURISHING QUINOA BOWL (V+, NF, GF,ChF)

“…and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I don’t know how you see me. I don’t know if you visualise me snacking on carrot sticks, or better yet, never snacking at all. If you imagine me meditating for hours on end, before gracefully drinking my green juice. Or if you think I float out of my daily (!) yoga class whilst reading a book about the power of Vitamin C. If so, please erase these images from your mind, as they are as true as Dorothy’s image of the Great Wizard of Oz. (Although, if truth be told, I am rather partial to a little green juice ;)).