Pea and Broccoli Soup

pea-and-broccoli-soup
I’m loving this green soup recipe at the moment. It’s tasty, nutritious and thanks to the potato leaves you feeling nicely satiated.

I like to make it with my own homemade chicken broth but if you’re vegan you can easily substitute with vegetable stock.

Health benefits

Peas are little powerhouses of nutrition packed with vitamins and minerals and because they’re actually part of the legume family they’re a good source of dietary fibre, contain protein, lots of B vitamins and even omega 3 essential fatty acids. Research has linked the consumption of peas to lowering the risk of stomach cancer and type 2 diabetes. They also have high levels of antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Broccoli is considered to be a superfood by many. Just a single cup serve provides 245% RDI of vitamin K which plays an important role in blood clotting and bone health and 135% RDI of vitamin C (a concentrated antioxidant source) which helps boost the immune system, supports cardiovascular and eye health and helps protect the body against cancer and strokes. Broccoli has a strong positive impact on the body’s detoxification process and helps lower levels of bad cholesterol.

If using real chicken broth, you’ll get an extra dose of minerals, gelatin and overall immune boosting properties.

Ingredients

  • 2 good sized broccoli heads (around 450g or 1 lb)
  • 2 cups good quality frozen peas (around 250g or ½ lb)
  • 1 litre / 2.1 pints good quality chicken stock/broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 good sized potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

  1. Bring a large saucepan to a medium-high heat and fry the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until they start to turn translucent
  2. Add the stock and potato and bring to the boil then allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are nice and soft
  3. Add the broccoli and peas and cook for a further 5 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool then blend until smooth
  5. Season with salt and pepper

Serve topped with your favourite chopped herbs and some natural yoghurt if you feel like something a little creamy

Serves 4

Banana berry smoothie bowl

banana-berry-smoothie-bowl3
This is such a delicious breakfast, it’s hard to believe it’s good for you. With only two serves of fruit, it’s not overloaded with sugar so is suitable for many on a detox who are limiting processed sugar and dairy.

Linseeds, also know as flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, in fact they’re often claimed to be nature’s most valuable source. They are rich in lignans, a type of soluble and insoluble fibre that’s high in antioxidants, may help regulate hormone levels, boost the immune system and lower levels of bad cholesterol. It’s important to note that when consumed whole your body will often pass the seed so grinding them (ideally fresh) makes their high nutrient profile more readily available for the body. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. Almonds provide the body with plenty of good fats, minerals and are also good source of vitamin E.

Incorporating a variety of nuts and seeds into your diet is widely considered to provide cardiovascular support and boost heart health. They provide the body with a good source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals  and plenty of antioxidants which play an important role in helping the body protect against cancer. Nuts and seeds are also a relatively good source of protein for vegetarians.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large banana
  • 70g / 2.5 oz frozen berries (any type will work)
  • 190ml /6.5 fl oz liquid – choose coconut water/almond milk/drinking coconut milk (I use two thirds coconut water and a third almond milk but you can vary or use a single liquid depending on what you like and what you have available)
  • 2 tablespoons LSA (I like to make this myself, to do so grind 1 tablespoon of almonds with half a tablespoon each of linseeds and sunflower seeds)

Method

  • Add two thirds of the banana, and the remaining ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth
  • Transfer to a bowl (or glass if you prefer)
  • Slice the remaining third of the banana and top the smoothie with it. You may wish to add a few extra berries, some more nuts or chia seeds

Serves 1

banana-berry-smoothie-bowl2

Activated Pepitas/Pumpkin Seeds

activated-pepitas-pumpkin-seeds

I’ve been experimenting with activating pepitas (also known as pumpkin seeds) recently. According to Weston Price Foundation the process of soaking nuts, seeds and grains and legumes neutralises phytic acid which can be hard for the body to digest and makes the nutrients more readily available to the body.

Health Benefits of Pepitas

Pepitas/pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals including manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, copper and zinc and have long been valued as a good source of dietary zinc. They are a good source of a diverse range of antioxidants, the combination of which is not commonly found in other food sources. Similarly, they contain vitamin E in a variety of forms which is thought to increase its bioavailability.

Pepitas are also rich in omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids and contain the amino acid tryptophan which is sometimes used to treat chronic insomnia.

It’s great to rely on a variety of food sources to meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Try out my paleo honey nut bar recipe which is a great way to get kids to eat pepitas with other nuts and seeds. They also make great additions to salads.

Ingredients

  • As many pepitas as you would like to activate
  • Plenty of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

Method

  1. Cover the pepitas in plenty of filtered water (allowing for the fact that they will expand) and add the lemon juice/apple cider vinegar
  2. Soak for 6 hours
  3. Drain and pat dry
  4. Place in a food dehydrator according to instructions for 12 hour or roast in the oven in the lowest temperature for the same amount of time

Once complete, allow to cool and store in an airtight container. If you don’t eat them very often or have made a large batch, it’s a good idea to store them in the fridge.

Lentil, roast beetroot, fetta and herb salad

lentil-beetroot-fetta-salad

This is a tasty and substantial winter salad recipe that can be enjoyed as a meal in itself or to compliment your favourite protein.

Lentils are high in fibre which lowers bad cholesterol and helps prevent blood sugars from rising sharply after a meal. They are a good source of protein for vegetarians and are loaded with vitamins and minerals particularly folate which plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, and aids tissue growth. Folate is an essential nutrient for pregnant women particularly the first trimester.

Beetroot, known as beet in the US, is also an excellent source of folate. Traditionally revered for helping purify the blood and liver, beetroot is widely credited for aiding the body’s detoxification process. Beetroot has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is one of nature’s richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.

Parsley and coriander/cilantro are rich in phyto nutrients and are both excellent sources of vitamin k. Fresh lemon juice is wonderfully alkalising and has a number of properties that aid digestion and help alleviate the symptoms of bloating and heartburn.

To improve the digestibility of this salad, I like to soak the lentils overnight before cooking. However, if you’re short of time this step is not essential or you can choose tinned lentils instead.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized beetroot/beets (or substitute with a 400g/14 oz tin if you prefer)
  • Large handful of parsley leaves, approx 10g or ⅓ oz
  • Large handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, approx 10g or ⅓ oz
  • 200g/7oz black (French) lentils (or substitute with a 400g/14 oz tin if you prefer)
  • 100g/3.5 oz fetta
  • 30g/1oz rocket/arugula
  • Half a french onion
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 0.5 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. If you have time, soak the lentils overnight (ideally for at least 12 hours) then rinse
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Peel the beetroot and cut into smallish chunks (roughly 2.5cm/1 inch each side), drizzle with approximately 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil and roast for an hour
  4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the lentils for 20-25 minutes. If you don’t have time you can use tinned lentils instead
  5. Finely chop the onion, parsley and coriander/cilantro leaves
  6. Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well
  7. Place the lentils, beetroot, herbs, rocket and onion into a large salad bowl
  8. Gradually add the dressing until there’s plenty to cover the salad ingredients but not too much (you may not need to use all the dressing)
  9. Crumble the fetta over the top

This salad can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

Red cabbage, goat’s cheese, walnut & sultana salad

red-cabbage-saladThis salad is extremely quick and easy to make, packed with nutrition and is particularly good for the stomach and digestive tract.

Cabbage contains sinigrin which has been linked to helping the body fight cancer, in particular bladder, colon and prostate cancer. It is high in fibre, has unique cholesterol lowering properties and is wonderful for the stomach and digestive tract (cabbage juice is often used as a tonic to help heal stomach ulcers). Red cabbage contains higher phytonutrient quantities than other cabbage varieties and up to 6-8 times more antioxidants.

Raw apple cider vinegar is a wonderful health tonic. It has been proven to help lower blood sugar levels which is particularly beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. Raw apple cider vinegar is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, has an alkalising effect on the body and is a marvelous digestive tonic that can help alleviate reflux, bloating and indigestion.

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and contain a form of vitamin E that is said to help protect the body against cardiovascular disease. They are also rich in copper and manganese.

Ingredients

  • Quarter of a red cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 100g/3.5 oz goat’s cheese or fetta
  • 70g/2.5oz walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 70g/2.5oz sultanas/raisins

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Make the dressing by placing the ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shaking well
  2. Place the cabbage in a salad bowl and gradually add the dressing until it gently coats all the cabbage – don’t overdo it (you may not need all the salad dressing)
  3. If you have time, allow to sit for 10 minutes then add the walnuts, sultanas/raisins and crumble the cheese through

Serves 4

 

Gluten free dark chocolate walnut brownies

gluten-free-dark-chocolate-brownie-5
I’ve been playing around with gluten free chocolate brownie recipes that are naturally low in sugar. I’ve tested this recipe out on a few groups of friends and it’s a winner amongst those that like a bitter, dark chocolate taste without the sugar hit.

The rich dark chocolate flavour comes from raw cacao – a nutrient dense food that is extremely high in antioxidants. Antioxidants play an important role in helping the body fight damage from free radicals. Chemical reactions caused by free radicals occur naturally in the body, however when our bodies are put under excessive stress from free radicals (caused by things such as pollution, toxic chemical, smoking, and stress) it can lead to health problems and chronic illnesses. Raw cacao contains more than 300 different chemical compounds, on average four times the antioxidant properties of ordinary dark chocolate and 20 times more antioxidants than blueberries (some source claim that this figure is more like 40 times). It is rich in iron, magnesium and calcium and stimulates mood enhancing chemicals in the brain.

Modern science suggests that organic, grass fed butter is not the evil it’s been demonised to be over the past few decades. It is a good source of vitamins A, E and K2 – which is fairly rare in the modern diet and plays an important role in assisting the body absorb calcium. Consuming fat from butter is much preferable than consuming margarine which is a highly synthetic food, made from low grade refined oils.

Walnuts pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are extremely rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, a good source of vitamin E and are said to support cardiovascular health, fight cancer and promote overall well being.

Ingredients

I tend not to consume refined sugars so my palette has adjusted to prefer recipes that are not overly sweet. However, if you’re making these brownies for a more mainstream palette, simply add a little extra maple syrup or your chosen sweetener.

  • 150g / 5.5oz butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g / 2.5 oz raw cacao
  • 165ml /5.5 fl oz coconut milk
  • 60g / 2 oz coconut flour
  • 80ml /2.7 fl oz maple syrup (for a sweeter palette, add extra maple syrup  ~110 ml / 3.75 fl oz). You can substitute for coconut nectar and could also try honey if you prefer. If using rice malt syrup you’ll need to add extra since it’s not as sweet.
  • 100g /3.5 oz walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons water

Method

  1. Grease a small tray suitable for brownies (I don’t have one so use a mini lasagne dish)
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Melt the butter then add the cacao, coconut flour, maple syrup (or chosen sweetener), coconut milk and water
  4. Beat in the eggs
  5. Add the chopped walnuts
  6. Transfer mixture to baking tray and cook for 25 minutes. Insert a skewer to make sure the mixture is cooked (it should exit without being covered in gooey chocolate mixture). If not cook for an extra 3 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool then cut into squares and transfer to a wire cooling rack until you’re ready to eat

Makes 12 brownies.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or for a decadent treat serve with some fresh mascarpone.

Fish tacos

fish-tacosAs a student living in Mexico back in 1999, I recall how delicious the fresh salsas were and how they could transform the simplest dish.

This recipe is adapted from one made by my host mother. Rather than serving it with heavy fried food it works beautifully with soft corn tortillas, thick Greek yoghurt and a nice light white fish.

Health benefits

Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, a pigment that gives them their vibrant red colour. Lycopene is rich in antioxidants, supports good heart health, has been credited for fighting against a range of cancers including breast, colon and lung cancer, is beneficial for those suffering asthma and has been linked to stroke prevention.

Capsicum/bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C (most highly concentrated in the red variety). They have been linked to helping reduce bad cholesterol, manage diabetes and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that have been credited for their cancer fighting properties.

Garlic and onions are great for the immune system, limes are wonderfully alkalising and good for digestion and chillies are said to help fight infection and also reduce inflammation.

White fish provides the body with good quality lean protein while avocado compliments by providing a good dose of healthy fats. Spread some good quality thick greek yoghurt on your tortillas and you’ll also give your body a serve of nourishing probiotics.

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless firm white fish fillets such as sea bass, flathead or other similar fish of your choice – approx 800g / 1.75 lb
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Large handful coriander/cilantro leaves around 15g / 5oz
  • 1 cup good quality natural greek yoghurt
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 capsicum/(bell) pepper -I prefer to use yellow or green but red will work fine too
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 medium sized red chilli, seeds removed
  • Half a red onion
  • 1 clove garlic/ 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1.5 tbs olive oil
  • 50g/1.75 oz pitted black olives (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

For the Salsa

  1. If using a food processor, add the onion, garlic and chilli until finely chopped then add the tomatoes for a few seconds until they’re reduced to small chunks but ideally not completely smooth. Remove and drain using a sieve until the excess moisture is removed. Alternatively you can finely chop all the ingredients by hand, again drain using a sieve to remove excess liquid.
  2. Chop the avocado into small chunks and add to the mixture
  3. Stir in the lime juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of cumin and season with salt and pepper
  4. Chop two thirds of the coriander/cilatro leaves (approx 10g or a third of an ounce) and mix through

The Fish & Corn Tortillas

  1. Heat the BBQ to a medium to high heat. If you prefer you can cook the fish in a frying pan and the tortillas in a char grill pan or according to packet instructions.
  2. Sprinkle each of the fish fillets with a little cumin, season with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil
  3. Brush the tortillas with on each side with the remaining olive oil
  4. Cook the fish on the BBQ or in the frying pan for a couple of minutes each side and the tortillas on the BBQ or char grill pan for around a minute each side or until they just start to turn brown

To Serve

Enjoy the tortillas spread with plenty of natural Greek yoghurt, stuffed with the fish and salsa and topped with black olives and the remaining coriander/cilantro leaves.

For those on a paleo/low carb dinner, simply omit the tortillas.

Vary the salsa by adding fresh corn (from a single corn cob) or add extra chilli if you like things hot

Serves 4

 

Activated walnuts

activated-walnuts-portraitIf there’s a nut worth activating, it’s most certainly the walnut. The process of soaking walnuts then slowly dehydrating them renders a beautiful, crunchy texture to the nuts and in my opinion improves their flavour by reducing the bitterness of the skin.

The process of “activating” nuts has become popular in recent times as an increasing number of people embrace eating whole foods. However soaking grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is an ancient art of food preparation that helps improve digestibility by neutralising harmful phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that bind to minerals in the digestive tract including (including calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium) – limiting their absorption within the body.

Walnuts are often labeled as superfood for good reason. They are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and are a good source of vitamin E. Studies have credited walnuts for supporting heart health, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and for their ability to help the body fight cancer, particularly prostate and breast cancer.. The world’s healthiest foods website has a great overview of the health benefits of walnuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg walnuts (more or less, depending on how many you have available)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Plenty of filtered water at room temperature (or slightly warmer)

Method

  • Place the walnuts in a large bowl (preferably glass or ceramic)
  • Cover with plenty of filtered water so that there’s ample when the nuts swell (make sure it’s at least room temperature, or just a little warmer)
  • Add the apple cider vinegar and mix through well
  • Soak for 6 hours
  • Drain well and pat dry
  • Place in a food dehydrator on the lowest temperature for 19 hours or place in your oven on the lowest temperature and roast for 14 hours. Check a couple, allow to cool and if not crunchy allow to dehydrate for another 5 hours
  • Once ready allow to cool and enjoy

Notes

  • Store in an airtight container or in the fridge or freezer

Sauteed brussel sprouts, green beans, cauliflower and pine nuts

Sauteed-brussel-sprouts-cauliflower-green-beans2
It wasn’t until recently that I fell in love with brussel sprouts. The bland vegetable that I loathed as a child has been revolutionised, appearing in delicious forms in modern cuisine.

A member of the cruciferous vegetable family (think broccoli, cauliflower, kale etc), brussel sprouts are extremely high in vitamins K and C and are a good source of minerals and antioxidants. Brussel sprouts have been credited for their ability to lower bad cholesterol and protect white blood cells within the body against DNA damage.

Cauliflower is nutrient dense vegetable and like brussel sprouts contains a compound called sulforaphane which has been linked to helping promote digestive health and is also used for the prevention of prostate cancer.

Green beans are high in antioxidants and support cardiovascular health. Like brussel sprouts and cauliflower, green beans have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body that helps fight against cancer.

I like to make this recipe with ghee which has a high smoke point and is revered in ayurvedic medicine for aiding digestion and detoxifying, however it’s just as tasty made with butter. It can also be made with olive oil for those who prefer to avoid dairy.

Ingredients

  • 400g/14oz brussel sprouts
  • 300g/10.5oz cauliflower
  • 300g/10.5oz green beans
  • 3 schallots/baby spring onions
  • 50g/1.75oz pine nuts
  • 50g/1.75oz ghee/butter or 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of around half a small lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Bring a frying pan to a medium high heat and toast the pinenuts for a couple of minutes, tossing regularly until browned. Remove from heat and set aside
  2. Steam the green beans for a couple of minutes, ensuring they remain crunchy. Set aside
  3. Grate the brussel sprouts in a food processor, or by hand or alternatively they can be finely chopped
  4. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, not more than an inch in size
  5. Finely chop the shallots
  6. Bring a frying pan to a medium heat and add the ghee/butter or olive oil then fry the cauliflower for around a minute, then add the brussel sprouts and shallots and fry for another 2 minutes until the vegetables are starting to turn golden brown then add the beans and stir through until warm
  7. Stir through the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper
  8. Remove from heat, sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve immediately

Serves 4 as a side

Pear, parsley, lime and ginger green smoothie

Green-smoothie-ginger-pear-parsely-lime3

This smoothie is one of my favourite hangover tonics. The ginger helps alleviate nausea and is wonderful for the digestive system, stimulating saliva and digestive enzymes.

Green leafy vegetables (including parsley) are rich in vitamins and minerals. Kale is claimed to be one of healthiest foods on the planet and is extremely high in vitamin K (a one cup serving of raw kale gives more than 600% RDI of vitamin K!). It’s also extremely high in beta carotene which the body turns into vitamin A. Green leafy vegetables are high in antioxidants and have an anti inflammatory on the body. There has been a great deal of research in modern times into the cancer fighting effects these types of foods have on the body.

Cucumber has an extremely high water content so is great for hydration, and is wonderfully alkalising so perfect on a hangover when your body will likely be acidic. Much modern literature points to the benefits of consuming a diet of ~60% alkalising foods (or more) from the reduction of yeast and fungus in the body to helping fight cancer.

Lemons and limes are also alkalising, rich in vitamin C and contain folate which plays a role in the body helping repair DNA damage.

My partner and I enjoy this smoothie on regular basis but it’s a real winner on a hangover!

Ingredients

  • Approx 170g/6 oz dark green leafy vegetables (I use a mixture of kale, baby spinach, asian greens. Basically whatever I have on hand.)
  • 15g or ½ oz ginger
  • Generous handful parsley (around 15g or ½ oz)
  • 1 x medium sized lebanese cucumber or around a third of a telegraph cucumber (around 150g or 5.25 oz)
  • 1 x small lime or half a lemon
  • 300ml coconut water
  • 250ml water
  • half a cup of ice (or more if you like it really cold)

Method

Add all the ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth.

Serves 2

Green-smoothie-ginger-pear-parsely-lime