Vegan Heart Biscuits with Yacon-Coated Cacao Nibs Topping

Cuteness alert: I made these heart-shaped vegan biscuits a few months ago so sharing now for Valentine’s Day weekend in case anyone is searching for something cute and delicious to make – try these! As I don’t think we need a dedicated day to show our love, these would make a loving treat any time of year.

I used this very simple vegan biscuits recipe from BBC Food and added my own melted chocolate and Yacon Cacao Nibs toppings by YaconViva, kindly sent to me to try. They turned out so well, with a perfect biscuit texture and the sprinkling of the yacon-coated cacao nibs make them look extra pretty I think.

I found the heart shaped cookie cutters on Etsy – from a lovely seller at a very reasonable price – and the pack contained four slightly different heart shapes and made from PLA plastic that’s biodegradable. All the wins.

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Review: Coffee with Health and Eco Benefits

I love coffee, love trying new coffees and love the mild buzz I get from coffee. Once upon a time I tried to resist being a regular coffee drinker and feel smug about smashing 6:30am crossfit and olympic lifting classes on caffeine-free energy (until I got more experienced and swinging a barbell around in a half sleepy state no longer felt safe). These days, on training mornings, coffee is a given. On rest days, it’s less important but still enjoyed.

I love my morning habit of getting the filter machine percolating while I hydrate with a ginger tea. Then I sit back and sip my caf (black, no sugar) slowly while writing in my journal, reading or doing my mobility moves and yoga to gently wake my body up before my work out. By the time the magic is seeping through my system I’m dressed and ready to train.

My coffee purchases range from budget supermarket buys to single estate, freshly ground from artisan roasters. So when I heard about Exhale Coffee with its health claims and sustainability efforts I was keen to know more. The brand kindly sent me a pouch to try.

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11 Micronutrients You Need for a Vegan Diet

Did you know there are now an estimated 600,000 vegans in the UK and over 500,000 people have pledged to go vegan with Veganuary this month – that seems incredible considering just five years ago it was still a niche interest; and over 13 years ago, when I switched from vegetarian to vegan, it was barely even talked about.

So whether vegan living is part of your day to day or you’re just trying it out, one thing is for sure and that’s nutrition is key. Getting the balance right is super important because once you’ve knocked meat, fish and dairy out of your diet, it could be quite easy to end up with a nutritional deficiency.

B12 for example, is only found in meat, fish and dairy so experts emphasise how important it is to supplement this for optimum energy as well as brain and neurological health. Keeping on top of what you eat, exploring new foods and ways to substitute animal ingredients and eating a wide variety of foods (to get a wide range of nutrients) is a big part of being vegan – and for me, it’s what makes it interesting and creative.

Here, Jenny Carson, BSc, MRES, Nutritionist and Technical Supervisor at Viridian Nutrition reveals the nutrients deficient or are at very low levels in the vegan diet and why they’re important. Hope this inspires you to take an active and curious interest in your vegan adventures!

For more tips and inspirations, follow me on Instagram @YanarFitness and share your vegan stories.

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How to Make Vegan Pancakes with Protein Powder

If you love pancakes but still trying to figure out the best way to make them vegan, then you’re not alone. I’ve been vegan for over 13 years and still experimenting with recipes for the perfect vegan pancakes. But don’t let that put you off! These days I like to add vegan protein powder, so that they satisfy my protein needs but that can make things a bit more complicated. Luckily I recently tried a recipe that actually worked – hurrah! – so here it is.

Using Purition Protein Powder 40g sachets in Vanilla and Almond & Orange (kindly sent to me to try by Purition for this post), I adapted this vegan pancake recipe on the Purition site.

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Vegan Christmas: Granola Stuffing Balls

There are two reasons why I was excited when Rollagranola got in touch to introduce me to its granola range: firstly, I love granola but I rarely buy it as most granola products (in the mainstream supermarkets near me) contain honey so they’re not vegan (and unlikely to be ethical) so I try to avoid them; and secondly, I’ve had my eye on making a granola-based stuffing recipe for Christmas, so it was perfect timing.

If you’re reading this post just before Christmas then it might offer some vegan cooking inspiration just in time, but otherwise, these dairy-free and egg-free vegan stuffing balls with granola would make a great addition to any roast (or any dinner!) at any time of year.

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Vegan Christmas: Super Easy Vegan Cheese Puffs

vegan cheese puffs willicroft cheese sauce wholefoods

Now, here’s something I never cook with – pastry. Combined with cheese (vegan), it’s a double-wammy combo that I wouldn’t normally turn to, but Whole Foods Market kindly sent me This Is Not Cheese Sauce by Willicroft to try so I thought I’d give something new a go – it’s festive season, after all.

This is actually the first time I’ve ever made anything with puff pastry and I have to say, I’m so surprised at how easy it was. Could this be a new thing for me? The Willicroft cheese also made it extra easy.

This dish took minutes to assemble, less than 15 minutes to cook and looked great on the table. So for all you beginner pastry cooks out there, give this a go!

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Vegan Christmas: Christmas Pudding (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

I’ve now had 32-ish vegetarian Christmases (since I was nine!) and 15-ish vegan Christmases (since I was 25) – and this year I’m pretty excited about the ever-growing choices popping up for vegan Christmas food. I’ve even noticed some online stores showing a separate sections dedicated to a vegetarian and vegan Christmas. Hoorah!

Today’s post is on Cole’s Gluten-Free Christmas Pudding from Whole Foods Market (£6.99) – where you can find massive ranges of vegan, natural and organic foods – that was kindly sent to me to try.

While I’m not that big on Christmas pudding itself, I was interested to write about it because it’s such as centrepiece traditional dessert that I’m sure there’ll be people looking for gluten-free and vegan Christmas pudding options. It’s also nut-free and alcohol-free, making it perfect for all of these dietary requirements.

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Review: Bol Foods Launches New Power Shakes

One of my favourite supermarket food brands Bol Foods has launched a new and exciting product: breakfast and lunch shakes. 😋

Back in office life, if I didn’t prepare my lunch, Bol Foods was my go-to lunchtime buy (usually Sri Lankan Cauli-Coconut Sambar Veg Pot, with my own tofu on the side), so I was excited to receive a sneak peek at the new Power Shakes: six varieties of nutrient-rich, protein shakes that are full of fruits, veg and protein.

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Review: Naturya Vegan Protein Superfood Blends

As someone who trains daily, vegan protein shakes are like my daily bread. So any mention of a new plant-based protein powder, and I’m there. And if superfoods and interesting health ingredients are in the mix then you have me on board, before I’ve even put the barbell down.

I was excited to hear of Naturya’s new collection of superfoods and protein blends: Functional Blends and Plant Proteins, which were kindly sent to me to try.

I’ve been a fan of the brand for many years (I used to be obsessed with the Breakfast Boosts) so it’s great to see bold, revamped packaging (high fives to the designers) and the brand branching out into protein products not just superfoods, because getting enough protein is important. This comes relatively easy for meat and fish eaters but needs a bit more effort if you eat vegetarians or vegan diet.

Quick nutrition recap: why do you need to keep on top of protein in your diet? Protein helps to fight fatigue, helps maintain normal muscle function and supports the immune system.

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Meet the Founder: Compostable Eco Packaging You Can Grow Plants In By Rhythm108

Waste is a big issue. In 2018 in the UK, 55% of all household waste went to landfill. Household waste accounts for 12% of all UK waste, and packaging would certainly have a part to play in that.

So when a brand has considered the impact of its packaging and developed a solution to avoid unnecessary waste, it’s worth talking about.

Enter Rhythm108 garden-compostable snack-packs.

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Review: New Vegan Meat by Unbelievable Alt

In 2019 there were an estimated 600,000 people eating a vegan diet in the UK, up from 150,000 in 2014 and it’s forecasted to keep on rising. With this rise there’s been an explosion of new vegan and vegetarian food products, which is amazing.

According to The Vegan Society, in 2018 the UK was top of world for the number of new vegan product launches (Mintel report). This meant 16% of all new food products launched globally were vegan, doubling from 8% in 2015.

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Teff – Why It’s My New Favourite Ingredient

You may or may not have heard of teff flour or teff grain but it’s certainly not new. It’s an ancient grain native to Ethiopia and Eritrea and predominantly known as the ingredient for injera, the traditional pancake style of that region. But turns out teff is a lot more versatile than just a spongy roti for curry.

teff flour teff grain review and recipes
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Review: Eco-Friendly Instant Fruit Smoothies

Did you know the UK throws out almost 4.5 million tonnes of food waste a year? To put such a large number into context, as that’s probably hard to imagine, according to wrap.org.uk it’s the equivalent to:

  • 8 Wembley Stadiums (London, UK)
  • 90 Royal Albert Halls
  • 38 million wheelie bins (based on a standard 240l)
  • 3,600 Olympic sized swimming pools
  • 490,000 bin lorries

I consider myself to be fairly mindful with food – I always try to use up what’s on its way out, save leftovers to eat or make something new from, and not to buy more than I need, especially fresh food – but still might end up throwing out the occasional unused half bag of salad leaves.

Foga Instant Wholeplant Smoothies were created partly to help people get more natural fruit and veg nutrients into their diet and partly in response to this issue of food waste.

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Review: Griddle Pan by Jean-Patrique

jean patrique whatever pan review

It was only after I’d tested The Whatever Pan from Jean-Patrique that I discovered it’s a sell-out success and a favourite among pro chefs and caterers. No wonder everyone loves it.

Griddle pans have been my new favourite thing lately; I bought a cast iron long griddle plate from Ikea when I had my kitchen refurbished earlier this year and it was the thing I was most looking forward to using. Yes, griddles are not just for meat – great for vegetarian and vegan cooking too!

So when the Jean-Patrique team got in touch, inviting me to try The Whatever pan, I couldn’t wait.

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Eco Kitchen Inspo: Bee Zero Waste Food Wraps

One of the best ways to encourage the masses to change habits around single-use plastic is to have easy, accessible and affordable alternatives. Replacing cling film in the kitchen with reusable beeswax or vegan wax food wraps is a great example of this. Sustainability in action.

I received a set of these nifty food wraps from a friend as a present a few years ago (great eco present idea btw) but, being a bit worn out now, I was due to replace them soon so I was lucky Bee Zero Waste got in touch, inviting me to try their vegan version.

beezero waste eco food wraps
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Food Inspo: Homemade Vegan Slaw With Kohlrabi

I treat kohlrabi in a similar way to fennel: prepare it fresh and raw, mostly grated or sliced into salad, to enjoy its subtle sweetness and crunchy texture.

I love the taste of kohlrabi and find its imperfect, knobbly shape with slightly alien-like stems pretty cute. If you haven’t tasted one, it has the tang of a radish with the soft earthiness of turnip.

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New: CBD Olive Oil – What’s It All About?

Yes, you read right. CBD-infused olive oil for your kitchen cupboard and dinner table. You’ve probably heard of CBD products ranging from oral tinctures, topical salves and muscles rubs, and now introducing CBD Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Drops of Heal.

Firstly, what is CBD? It’s short for cannabidiol, which is the chemical extracted from the marijuana plant (through distillation) and does not contain the psychoactive ingredient, THC – so you cannot get high off CBD products.

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Nutrition News: Liquid Curcumin by Truth Origins is Worth Checking Out

truth-origin-liquid-curcumin

As a health and wellness writer for the last 15 years, I’ve always been fascinated with vitamins and mineral supplements and always quizzing the experts for their recommendations.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been vegetarian nearly all my life and vegan since my mid-20s that nutrition has been a special interest of mine. I watch what I eat to try and avoid common vegan-diet deficiencies (D3, B12, EPA/DHA are common ones), and equally aware of supporting my sports and fitness lifestyle, which puts an added strain on my body.

That’s why I was excited to be introduced to Truth Origins water soluble liquid vitamins and invited to be part of the brand’s referral programme. This is the first referral and affiliate programme I’ve joined in the ten years I’ve had this blog so it’s definitely a product that I think is worth checking out.

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7 Foods (and Lots of Tips) to Help You Nail Veganuary

whole foods market veganuary

If you are one of the 250,000 or more people expected to pass on the cheese and meat and take up a vegan diet this January – AKA Veganuary – then this post is for you. It’s also for you if you’ve been leaning towards plant-based eating and cooking for a while, but still need some extra inspo to make it work long term.

I’ve teamed up with Whole Foods Market to share my pick of vegan foodie products to help you have a successful Veganuary (and hopefully, beyond). From meat-free alternatives such as tofu and tempeh, vegan baking essentials, natural sauces and condiments (including vegan mayo!) to sweet treats and snacks, I’ve cherry-picked my faves below.

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How I lost weight for a weightlifting competition (by eating more carbs)

When I signed up for Southern Masters WL competition (at Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club) I had six weeks to lose 3kg. Olympic lifting is a weight-class sport and in my first competition in May, I competed in the 55kg category and I intended to do the same this time. 

On the one hand 3kg doesn’t sound like very much but on the other, I didn’t want to crash diet or do any potentially dangerous dehydration methods that would my jeopardise my lifting performance, both on the day and in the run up in training.

In the months after May’s comp (Essex Weightlifting Club Open Series) my weight had crept up, mainly through a habit of unlimited portions of peanut butter and nuts (seemed so healthy and innocent at the time!) so by August I was a clear 58kg, and now that meant a 3kg cut.  

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My 8 favourite cookbooks for healthy vegan and vegetarian cooking

fresh india cookbook best vegetarian

I love a good cookbook. I have over 35-40 of them – bought, inherited or gratefully received. A few have proven their worth and have become absolute favourites. They’re the ones I can always rely on to provide me a new or interesting way of cooking with an ingredient. Or offer an inspiring recipe I can pull together with minimum effort and with simple foods I usually already have.

Friends often ask if I can recommend a good book and there are a few I always call out, which I’ve listed here. Each one is best for a different reason, occasion or cooking style. So if you’re looking to renew your repertoire of recipes or need fresh inspiration for healthy, plant-based cooking (that’s still hearty and filling!) then this is the list for you. Feel free to pass it on.

1. World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible

By Chris and Carolyn caldicott

And it really is a bible. If you’re excited by the variety and flavours of world cuisine you will love this. Organised by region, the authors have cherrypicked recipes that show off the best from that area. I usually turn to this book when I’m looking for a curry, going straight to the index to see the options for my chosen veg (which is how I use most cookbooks) and then I can almost guarantee the dish I find in here wouldn’t be in any other cookbook.

Best for: interesting DISHES from FAR AND WIDE

2. The Happy Pear

by David and Stephen Flynn

This was a gift from a good friend and very quickly became a regular go-to. I’m quite averse to vegan food that’s light or superficial, inadvertently channeling the notion that vegans are not hearty eaters (which is far from the truth, in my case anyway!). The Flynn brothers have taken everyday, popular ingredients such as squash and lentils and not only given them fuss-free makeovers but the recipes are sure to fill you up too. There’s not a drop of pretentious cooking here, just down to earth, wholesome meals that are both inviting and easy to follow.

BEST FOR: keeping the family full and happy

 

3. Fresh India

by Meera Sodha

I received this as a birthday present from another good friend only a few months ago and it’s been the most exciting edition to my collection. I made three recipes within the first few days of receiving it and instantly bookmarked so many more to try. Possibly because I’m obsessed with vegetarian Indian cuisine – you’ll find me at one of London’s local pure vegetarian restaurants feasting on dosa, idly and vada at any possible opportunity – that I was smitten by this book but also because Meera Sodha makes everything so simple. For example, I’ve picked up lots of new (and uncomplicated) ways of cooking Indian-inspired sauces and I found it super easy to take ingredients from one recipe and combine with the method of another, depending on what I have in the kitchen.

Best for: being creative with Indian cooking with hardly any effort

 

 

4. The Nut Butter Cookbook by Pip & Nut

By Pippa Murray

This book isn’t vegetarian or vegan (in fact, apart from the nut butters there’s hardly any vegan recipes) but I have easily adapted ideas and replaced dairy ingredients with non-dairy alternatives. The highlight for me is the Peanut Sweet Potato Gratin – once I’d swapped the cream and milk for coconut milk, it was divine.  I have also discovered super easy ways to turn nut butter into sauces, dips and dressings which has transformed my lunches and dinners. I now make peanut and sriracha sauce almost daily!

Best for: surprisingLy endless ways with nut butter


5. Silk Road Vegetarian

by Dahlia Abraham-Klein

This one was a bit of a wild card which I bought after a recommendation from my uncle, who also loves vegetarian cooking, and despite its slightly old fashioned imagery it’s definitely proven itself. Covering a region I’m naturally drawn thanks to my Iraqi heritage, I often reach for this when I want comfort food inspiration. It’s great for stews and rice dishes.

Best for: traditional cuisine that’s true to its origins

 

6. Cook, Share, Eat Vegan

by Aine Carlin

Who would have thought that one day there would be as many modern vegan cookbooks as there are out today. Bookshops and bookshelves are bursting with them all vying for our attention but it’s hard to see which ones are really worth having. Having eaten a vegan diet for over a decade now (way back when veganism was still very hippie) I feel like my plant-based cooking skills constantly needs challenging and refreshing which is why Aine Carlin’s collections appeal. If you’re looking for the next step up in plant-based cooking I’d definitely recommend this. The ideas go the extra mile to impress but still accessible and easy to make.     

Best for: Impressing guests (but not leaving them hungry)

 

 

7. Riverford Companion: Autumn Winter and Spring Summer

By GuyWatson

I’m a regular customer of Riverford veg delivery boxes (I’ve tried other veg boxes over the years but always come back to Riverford for the variety and generous portion sizes) so it’s no surprise I also love their cookbooks, thoughtfully presented for seasonal cooking. Guy Watson and the Riverford team never fail to reveal a new or enlivening way to prep or cook a vegetable, banishing boredom and educating with their decades of expertise along the way.

Best for: never being stuck with what to do with a vegetable again

 

8. The Dal Cookbook

By Krishna Dutta

An oldie but a goodie. I have no idea how this one entered my life (another gift maybe?) but for lovers of dal (obviously) it’s a must-have. From simple to elaborate and all styles and flavours in between, this is a chance to experiment with over 50 ways to find your favourites. It’s also a bit of a reference book for all things lentil-based, another reason why it’s stood the test of time on my bookshelf.

Best for: Never cooking the same dal twice

 

Would love to hear what your go-to veggie/vegan cookbooks are! Thanks for reading :)

In the kitchen: Yerba Mate tea

If you’re a green tea devotee then you might also enjoy its South American counterpart, Yerba mate. Sent to try by new superfood retailer Nutriseed.co.uk I realised it’s more than just your average brew. It’s loaded with energy, vitamins and minerals and used for medicinal purposes too. I’m aware there are traditional ways of preparing and drinking this tea but here’s how I did it in my kitchen… 

nutriseed yerba mate tea 1 nutriseed yerba mate tea review nutriseed yerba mate tea review nutriseed yerba mate tea review

Yerba mate (pronounced yer-bah mah-tay) literally means ‘cup-herb’ in Spanish or Portuguese. It tastes similar to a mild green tea but without the smoky oakiness that some green tea varieties offer. 

The team behind Nutriseed.co.uk are also behind one of my favourite health drink brands, Super Eleven Shake, the power drink made with 11 superfoods.

There are more unusual finds on Nutriseed too such as the Ayurvedic ashwagandha (a stress-relieving and restorative herb), 28-day detox tea  (a blend of 6 cleansing herbal teas), superfood capsules (spirulina, maca root and acai berry) and a variety of cacao (great for keen cooks).

If you’re a Yerba mate fan too, would love to know! 

In the kitchen: 4 best non-dairy and vegan protein powders

I’m on a mission to get stronger and if you read my column on Healthista.com you’ll see I’ve taken up Crossfit. To build more lean muscle only protein will help. As I don’t eat dairy I need an alternative to whey powder so I’ve been trying a variety of non-dairy shakes and powders suitable for vegans. These are my favourite, ie. the tastiest and best I’ve tried so far. 

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Super-quick fresh fennel salad 

fresh fennel carrot salad  recipe
Roasted fennel is, for me, one of the tastiest vegetables that can come out of the oven but sometimes I want to take advantage of its fresh, raw goodness – refreshing, energising and detoxing – as well as its distinct, aromatic aniseed flavour and gorgeous crunch so only a salad will do.  This is one I prepared in under ten minutes and brings out the best in this bulb.
how to recipe fresh fennel salad 

  • 1 whole fennel grated, including stalks
  • 2-3 carrots grated
  • 1/4 cucumber sliced finely
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (this adds great complimentary flavour)
  • Dash of apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar or red wine vinegar will also work) – to give it a vibrant lift
  • Quarter squeezed lemon
  • Generous seasoning

Mix the grated fennel and grated carrot with the sliced cucumber in a big bowl. Add the rest of ingredients to the bowl and mix again. Serve.

Mine tasted delicious served with soup and then again served on sourdough bread toast.

Give it a go! Fennel love X

Favourite kitchen gadget: Almond/Soya Milk Maker

I’m lucky I get to try out all sorts of gadgets and fun things for work and very occasionally one will stand out from the rest, be genuinely fabulous and earn a place in my everyday life. This year I found one of those star products: Tribest Soyabella Milk Maker. If you love non-dairy milk, check out my full review of this milk maker and get it on your Christmas wishlist.

Tribest-Soyabella-Nut-Milk-Maker-Healthista-Reviewed-384

Non-dairy milks are massively on the rise and have never been as popular with supermarkets and health food shops exploding with choice, more than I’ve ever seen. So if you are regularly buying soya or almond milk, making your own could be a healthier, cheaper and more ecological way to enjoy it.

Apart from the obvious being fresh, natural and homemade almond milk, the best bit for me is the speed and ease. Making things quick and easy is the sign of a good gadget! 

Once you’ve soaked your almonds for a few hours or overnight, you just pop them in the maker and it takes less than 60 seconds to turn the almonds into milk. Incredible! I believe a 200gm of almonds makes me just under a litre of milk, and that lasts a few days. The water and pulp does seperate slightly once it’s been sitting in the fridge so you just need to give it a stir before using. 

You also know exactly what’s going into it and it’s actually very little – just almonds and filtered water! Flavour is optional so you can add a couple of drops of vanilla or agave syrup but I make it completely flavour-free and tastes great.

For my full review and verdict, including what to do with nut or almond pulp left over from the milk, my review of the milk maker is on Healthista.com here and let me know what you think, and if you have one or tempted to buy one let me know too!

How to make raw beetroot dip

how to make raw beetroot dip on brighter shade of green blog.jpg

My friends have started calling me queen of dips, because I’ll reach for the food processor and a handful of ingredients at any possible opportunity and these dips, usually hummus or some sort of bean blend, have fast become everyone’s favourite dish. Today, having had the luxury of a freelance day at home, I tried a raw beetroot concoction, inspired by a friend’s recipe which she adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian cookbook. As with most dips, and certainly all of mine, it’s so very easy to make and takes no longer than ten minutes from scratch.

I used:

  • 3 small uncooked beetroot, washed and peeled
  • Small cup of walnuts – soaked overnight to release phytic acid which can be irritating on the gut, and to activate all the live enzymes (post coming soon about why it’s better to soak nuts before eating).
  • Small cup sprouted chickpeas – from supermarket but can easily be grown at home
  • Half a lemon squeezed
  • Lots of seasoning and olive oil
  • Optional dollop of yoghurt

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Clearing up can be messy – it’s beetroot after all! – but definitely worth it. Because beets are high in sugar, the dip has a natural sweetness which compliments the earthiness of the walnuts.

Nutritionally, beetroot is full of protective antioxidants and vitamin C as well as glutamine, an enzyme which is great for gut health, which is why it’s good for weight loss and detoxes.

Amazingly beetroot is also a food that helps to naturally lower blood pressure, great news for anyone trying to remedy with medication. It’s also rich in folic acid and iron, great news for all my pregnant friends.

Eat, juice or use in dishes raw for the full hit of goodness.

Enjoy! x

How to make beetroot dip all ingredients ready to blend in the food processor.jpg

Blended beetroot, walnuts, sprouted chickpeas dip.jpg

It can get messy - raw beetroot and walnut dip.jpg

What to do with purple kale…

What to do with purple kale?

Where do you get your calcium from? That’s probably one of the most common questions people like to ask when they hear I don’t eat dairy. The simple answer is, I go green – kale, spring greens, Chinese cabbage, savoy cabbage, parsley are all high calcium-rich foods. But did you know that kale is one of the highest sources of well-absorbed calcium compared to all other foods? Yes including milk…

Kale contains more of the good stuff per gram than milk (and although specifics on grams of calcium per 100g serving vary from site to site across the internet, just type kale vs milk calcium into google and you’ll see the battle is well documented but kale always wins). It’s a fact that still surprises many but what’s even more delicious than lovely, bold green kale is deep, dark and frilly purple kale.

But the next question that everyone asks: How do you cook it? I’m not one for following recipes by the book and whenever I look up a recipe for a green leaf I’m always disappointed to find it’s just a sidekick – like adding Swiss chard to a soup and getting a few measly leaves as part of the deal. Lovely, but no thanks.

So I generally do my own thing, cook up the whole bag and make it a dish in itself. Not only to get the full whammy of nutrients – iron, calcium, vitamin E (great for skin), vitamin K (great for bone health too), vitamin C (more than an orange), omega 3 and 6 (great for skin and joints) and magnesium (necessary for absorption of calcium) – but inevitably, if you just cook half with the intention of cooking the rest another day, that day never comes and that poor half-bag of kale just sits there in the fridge, wilting and getting old. So cook the whole bag and have the rest (if there is any!) for lunch the next day.

My current favourite way to cook kale is really very simple. I chop it as finely as you fancy, stalk and all (that part is actually very delicious cooked with a subtle sweet flavour), and add it to a pan with around 3 – 4 cloves of garlic (pressed lightly against a chopping board with the back of a knife). Then I cook for just a few minutes, just so the kale softens a little and the garlic infuses the leaves.

How to cook purple kale - ideas for veggie/vegan food

More often than not, I’ll serve it like this, with salt/pepper seasoning, olive oil and half a lemon squeezed on top. Lemon is a never-to-be-missed addition to any green leaves dish as the vitamin C is essential to for iron absorption. Its alkalising properties also release enzymes for better digestion.

For more flavouring, I love adding a tablespoon of Clearspring Organic Japanese Miso which melts down into consistency as thick or thin as you like, depending on how much water you mix it with (use hot water so it melts down easily). Pour into the pan as the kale is cooking and let the flavours of this ancient Japanese food spread into the leaves.

Serve your kale as a side with any dish you like – today I’ve chosen to go simple with good old avocado on toast (that powerhouse food I turn to day or night); or serve with meat if you’re not a veggie.

How to cook kale - with avocado on toast

A few more tips for cooking kale:

Blend:  Use a food processor to blend leaves down to a finer texture to reduce the toughness. Blend with tomatoes, parsley, nuts, olive oil, seasoning and lemon to make a delicious and colourful tabbouleh-style salad. I do this quite often.

Try raw: Blend, juice or add uncooked kale to smoothies for maximum nutrients. After my adventures with raw food, reporting for Healthista.com, I’ve been experimenting with raw slaws which are super easy to make as long as you have a food processor. You simply add three salads or vegetables together with a bunch of herbs and seasoning and blend.

Find organic: If you can, choose organic – probably around a £1 more than a standard bag – but because pesticides love getting into the nooks and crannies of kale’s frills, it’s always better to go organic if possible.

Now enjoy! x

I love toast

Tiana Fairtrade and Organic Coconut Oil

I’m on a mission to stop bread, from being bad-mouthed and rejected. It’s time to stop the bread-hating and the guilt. This wonderful food that’s been a staple in our diet for hundreds of years seems to be the bane of so many eaters and experts, not to mention dieters who can’t even say the word without shuddering (or salivating). The columnist Eva Wiseman once wrote a love letter to bread which was very endearing (apart from the ending where she grew apart from it).

Many nutritional therapists and naturopathic experts have tried to convince me to banish bread from my diet, scaring me with stories of gut irritation, intolerance and inflammation, but of all the health and food concerns I’m passionate about, bread is the one thing I’m the least interested in giving up or scaring people away from.

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How to perfect the art of green juices and smoothies

green smoothie recipe tips

It’s not always easy practising what I preach when it comes to health and nutrition – although I try to buy organic, I avoid dairy and I’ve been a vegetarian nearly all my life (since I was nine) – it’s taken a while to get on board the green juice/smoothie movement. Now that I have though I’m really quite into it – but how do you make them taste good?

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Hangover cure #3: Home-made hummus

home made hummus

There’s really little more satisfying than throwing a bunch of ingredients into a food processor for instant, home-made hummus. Especially on a hangover. It’s comforting and relaxing, and after a night of alcoholic excess, it’s reassuringly self-caring. It’s my go-to 7-minute dish and one which everyone also likes to tuck into.

How to make hummus in 7 minutes flat

Put in a food processor:

  • 1 can of chick peas with a little of its water (two cans if you want to make enough for four people)
  • 1 clove of garlic (or 2 or 3 if you love garlic as I do)
  • just over half a squeezed lemon (make this one whole squeezed lemon if you’re using two cans of chick peas)
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini per can of chick peas (sesame seed paste)
  • generous salt
  • generous pepper
  • generous glug of olive oil (in the mixture and for drizzling at the end)
  • chilli flakes/cayenne pepper/paprika – optional to season

Whiz in the food processor until as smooth or as chunky as you like. If it’s too dense, add a glug of plain, unflavoured yoghurt or more olive oil.

Also ensure it’s full of flavour – nothing worse than hummus without enough kick – always add more lemon juice than you think you need and don’t be shy with the seasoning. Be generous, and give it some life!

So that’s it.. no frills, no fuss (just a bit of mess), speedy, natural and utterly delicious. Just toast some pitta, grill some tomatoes, kick back and enjoy.

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