almond milk

Lavender + Blueberry Slow Down Smoothie

lavender and blueberry smoothieWhen did it become so cool to be so busy? Have you noticed how busy everyone is and even when they’re not they’re pretending to be! But this is just what we do. When I take a look around I see – do more, get energised, kick start, jump to it, go go go, fast track – you get the picture! I’m all for being productive, getting stuff down and making the best use of my time but hang on a second, let’s not forget to……..

Slow down.

Take a moment.

Do nothing, steady ourselves, let go and just be.Slow down + relaxThis lavender + blueberry slow down smoothie is a celebration of not being busy, an ode to doing nothing. It’s a smoothie to calm, soothe, sedate and harmonise. There is no stress in this smoothie, just pure plant power.

I’ve got a big thing for lovely lavender. We go back years, so much so it’s become a running joke that I’m an old lady due to my lavender love! But I don’t care because although it sounds silly to say, lavender has been a very loyal friend. This amazing healing herb has stuck with me through thick and thin, in ups and downs, providing calming comforting vibes when I needed them most. Insomnia as a child, in times of shock, in anxious times, on grazed knees and during periods of unsettling change, lavender eased and soothed.lavender & blueberry smoothieIt’s part of my treasured sleep kit, travelling the world with me, a comforting companion at night wherever I may be. My pillow is always infused with the scent of heavenly lavender and I take it wherever I go. On our recent Canada RV trip I dropped a few drops on my pillow, creating a familiar happy and relaxing place to lay my head. I really do love lavender. We have an abundance of this violet flora blooming in the canal bank, abundant with delicate lavender flowers ready for relaxation and lavender infused blueberry slow down smoothies.

Inhaling, applying, burning, sprinkling, steaming, and bathing in this essential oil – my lavender usage knows no bounds. Until very recently, I had never thought to eat this highly edible herb and I’m not sure why because it has the most beautiful, delicate, floral aroma with violet undertones. The flavour of this lavender + blueberry smoothie reminded me of little parma violet sweets I used to eat as a kid.Lavender + blueberry smoothieThe healing lavender in this slow down medicinal smoothie provides vitamin A, iron, calcium and a soothing effect on the central nervous system. Super fruit blueberries are almost too amazing to comment on but what the heck – these super berries boost this smoothie by providing whole body antioxidant support as well as cardiovascular, cognitive, blood sugar, eye health and anti cancer benefits. Bananas are packed full of magnesium and potassium, perfect for relaxing tired muscles. Bananas combined with the lavender are a recipe for a calmer, more relaxed and rested self. Goodness me, with banana and lavender we’ll sleep like a log.

What’s your best way to slow down and relax?Lavender + blueberry smoothieLavender + blueberry slow down smoothie

(serves 2)

1 teaspoon dried lavender
2 cups almond milk
1 cup blueberries
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Add ingredients to a blender and blitz on high speed until smooth.

Raw Buckwheat Vanilla Porridge (GF + Vegan)

Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge for twoThe perfect breakfast.

Today is most definitely a day for raw buckwheat vanilla porridge and following your heart.

I’ve been cotemplating, pondering and realising today. Realising that no matter how much you tell yourself otherwise, you cannot get along with everyone. This may sound obvious but I got caught up for a while there, caught up in the belief that we should all get along and love thy neighbour regardless. But I don’t buy it. Today I understand the need to be a better person, to strive for harmony and most of the time I’m good with this. You know the kind of stuff I’m talking about- less judgements, helping others more, greater compassion, embracing differences and just general goodness. On the whole, I am this person, I’m pretty kind,  I care, I make a point of understanding different viewpoints, I like to help, yeah I’m doing OK here.

But then it happened, I gave in and accepted that some people are simply not deserving recipients of our precious time and energy. Perhaps I  sound like a bitch and maybe I am, but I’m ok with this because sometimes you have to have an opinion and just go with what you believe, I’m big on integrity. And I’m not talking about particular people but just generally accepting that some differences cannot be bridged in life. Those who just feel like a steep hill, possessors of harsh tongues, makers of arbitrary judgements, disregarders of other’s feelings, showers of sheer recklessness, complacent with delicate souls -it’s these who I’m talking about. When one cares less for the consequences of their actions or lifestyle choices, who are aware  but care  much less of the damage they cause to themselves and others too, including the world we share, yes I can get along but not get on with them. I know it’s such a minority but it still just is and I’ve decided to let these toxic people go, albeit lovingly, with good thoughts and no hard feelings.

There’s too much greatness out there, overwhelming acts of kindness and heartbreaking generosity, thank god for all these good people……and for delicious breakfasts too.Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

So I love porridge but usually stick with the oat variety, definitely one of my favourite foods ever. But I was kind of intrigued by buckwheat porridge so it was high up on my hit list of recipe to-dos!  I found the raw buckwheat very reasonably priced in a local health food shop. This recipe requires the raw groats so be sure that you don’t buy the cereal version because this is not what you want. Despite the name, there is no wheat in buckwheat so this super whole grain is a fabulous option for gluten free diets or even as a change to the grains that get so ingrained in our diets! This buckwheat breakfast is simple, wholesome and can be enjoyed on the run too. The perfect breakfast.Easy buckwheat porridge process

Raw buckwheat vanilla porridge is an uber easy process – just soak the groats overnight, rinse, combine with the remaining ingredients and blend. Like overnight oats these can be flavoured any way you prefer or accordingly to what’s in the fridge. I decided almond milk with vanilla and cinnamon to be the wisest decision – I can’t get enough of this little combo. Adding the dates to the mixture thickens it a little as well as giving a fudge like flavour, so yum and I truly believe we should add dates to everything. Always looking for an excuse for a berry fix I decided to top this creamy buckwheat with British raspberries and blueberries. Yeah I know, British blueberries eh – since when did we start producing blueberries? That’s exactly what the Waitrose package said so no complaints here! I also remembered that there were still lots of blackberries on the bush behind the flat and I couldn’t resist the thought of triple berries for breakfast!Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

Why this is the perfect breakfast….first up, whole grain buckwheat is great for our cardiovascular system, has a positive effect on blood sugar control and is a great source of fibre. Also, it’s zero gluten, free of dairy and soy -perfect. What’s more, the added berries, nuts and almond milk make this an antioxidant and calcium rich balanced and nutritious way to start the day. Raw buckwheat porridge is so versatile and works well with any fruit, I suspect apples and bananas would be pretty special though. This recipe is great as a simple yet perfectly nutritious breakfast or a smooth nutty dessert. It’s all your choice.Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

Raw buckwheat + vanilla porridge

(serves 2)

2 cups raw buckwheat, soaked in water overnight
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans

to serve:
berries
extra pecans

Method:

1. Rinse the soaked buckwheat groats with clean running water + add to the blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.
2. Serve in glass bowls and garnish with berries + pecans.

 

Nectarine + Apple Cobbler (GF)

Apple & nectarine cobblerDo you ever have random, superwoman type productive days when you get obscene amounts done? I have these, sporadically, and today was definitely one of those days. It makes me wonder where they come from, maybe the need to get a wriggle on, or something I ate, the sun shining…who knows. But today has been super productive in every way starting from wake up circuits class, delicious coconut oat breakfast with triple espresso (oh, maybe this is the reason!), the food shop, my day job and a delicious nectarine and apple cobbler which I’ve never made before.

The sun has shined all day which has made Thursday even more fabulous because whenever the sun shows up, everything and everyone cheers up and looks a little brighter. I’m lucky enough to be able to do a little of my work from home so I like to sit outside and enjoy our canal bank setting. I’m so in love with our apartment, although it’s not showy or big it’s just peaceful, calming and has a beautiful outlook. If the sun was shining a bit more then I’d have no complaints because being a complete sun head makes miserable dreary days such a drag. Today was so nice that I didn’t even want to go in and cook this delicious nectarine and apple cobbler, but in the end the temptation to try some proved too much.Apples

Traditionally, I’m pretty sure it’s peach that goes in a cobbler but I had a bowl of nectarines which were getting ripe on me so I knew my recipe had use these sweet things. Apples go pretty well with nectarines too, plus I needed something else to bulk the fruit mixture out as I like a substantial dessert. I’ve been making a lot of pies and crumbles lately so I kinda needed to do something else but it’s always a hard decision when your favourite is crumble, not that I’m fixated or anything! Eventually, I decided on a cobbler because I’d never made it before but more importantly not eaten one either. I’ve always associated cobbler with the USA, mainly because I’ve never ever heard an English person talk about the cobbler they had for pudding last night and really, it just sounds like an American dessert! Like corn bread, that screams USA to me!

Apple & nectarine cobbler

Anyway, I had a good idea of how it should be but I used an oat and almond scone base for a wheat free alternative and a nuttier and creamier flavour. Really, a cobbler is just a fruit mixture with scones on top, simple but very delicious. A word of warning: when you mix all the ingredients for the batter you have to really fight the urge to eat it raw. The smell and taste (yes, I ate a bit raw) is just too much, it’s better than cookie dough.

Apple & nectarine cobbler process

It’s the kind of dessert you want, actually need in your life because this gluten free nectarine + apple cobbler is just beautiful. The scones are light and airy with oat, almond and vanilla flavours. It’s 100% wholegrain, gluten free and each serving contains two portions of fruit with less than 300 calories a serving. This last point is impossible to believe but it’s true. I know it’s not always about the calories but sometimes it just is! For me, it’s those days when I’ve been to my Mum’s for a family lunch and I’ve eaten my own body weight in goodies. Yep, these are the days I want something a little lighter ‘cos heaven forbid I skip my dessert!

I hope you’ve had a super productive day too. I’d love to know what makes you more productive than usual?Apple & nectarine cobbler

Nectarine + apple cobbler

(serves 4)

4 nectarines, sliced
4 apples, sliced
1 teaspoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water
12 tablespoons stevia (adjust to sweetness preferences)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

scones:
1 cup oats (processed to flour)
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Stevia
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 egg
1/2 cup almond milk

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 ºC. Add the fruit filling ingredients to a large pan + simmer for 15-20 minutes.
2. Place the dry cobbler ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl mix the remaining wet ingredients and add this to the dry mixture . Be sure to combine thoroughly + set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
3. Transfer the fruit mixture to an oven proof baking dish + top with 4 heaping spoonfuls of the cobbler batter. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

Easy, Vegan, Dairy Free Cheese Sauce

Easy dairy free cheese sauce & brown rice pastaSo I was googling ‘vegan cheese sauce’ like you do and this came up, which was handy because it’s a damn good recipe. The not so good is I lost an hour (and a half) again in a sea of foodie blogs whilst making myself super hungry.You know how it is, one recipe leads to another, one bookmark leads to a folder full…..anyway I’m so in love with this woman’s fantastic blog. ‘Oh She Glows’ was one of the first food blogs I came across (back when I had lots of time!) and she has the most amazing, creative and delicious recipes here. The photography is far too good and the recipes life changing.  It’s websites like this that change people’s perspectives on vegan/vegetarian food – this woman is a true trailblazer.

Dairy free cheese sauce & pasta

I was never mad on macaroni or cauliflower cheese so I don’t even know why I was looking for a cheesy recipe! Maybe it was for my lasagne, yes I think it was. Anyway, it’s known as comfort food for a reason, it is pretty comforting and today’s rain with greyest of grey cloud made me want this so bad, so I went to my bookmark folder and pulled this gem out. I also wanted to have a good base cheese sauce up my sleeve as it’s pretty versatile.Cheese sauce process

This cheese sauce has no cheese so the cheesy base flavour comes from the mustard and nutritional yeast. Being English I had to use English mustard (the burning nostril kind) over dijon and it worked really well. I can see why nutritional yeast is such a versatile, god sent ingredient – it really does taste like nutty cheese but with no nasties. Does life get any better. Seriously, it’s ramped with B vitamins and folic acid so is fantastic health wise. Also high in protein, fibre and gluten free. It’s a good news day because it’s also the only reliable plant food source of vitamin B12, just one more reason to get on the case. Glad that NY and I are finally together, see I’ve evened acronymed it because it’s become an essential store cupboard item for me.

We enjoyed this with brown rice fusilli and some kale stirred through. They always say the simple things are the best, well this is simple and it’s the best. What more could I ask for on a dull, rainy day?

Nutty. Cheesy. Creamy. Nourishing. Comfort food. Job done.

What’s your favourite way to use nutritional yeast in meals?Dairy free cheese sauce & pasta

Easy vegan, dairy free cheese sauce

1 tablespoon dairy free spread
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1/2 teaspoon onion & garlic powder
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon english mustard

Method:

1. In a small pan over a low heat melt the butter. Meanwhile in a seperate bowl whisk the flour & milk together.
2. Add the milk mixture to the pan, stirring continually over a low heat.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and keep stirring until sauce is thickened – about 5 minutes.
4. Serve over your favourite greens or with copious amounts of pasta.

Goodness Green Spinach, Kiwi + Spirulina Smoothie

Putting the green into a green smoothie!I cannot tell you how happy I am to be drinking green smoothies. Why oh why has it taken so long for me to start this habit? I am loving my Vitamix too, who knew such a simple thing could do so many amazing things. Anyway, this is the first (of many!) green smoothies I’ll be making in this little darling. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the Thomas Crown Affair remake (the one with Pierce Brosnan), I think I was about 18 when I watched it. Anyway, there’s a scene with Renee Russo drinking one of these green smoothies and I remember wondering what the hell it was! Randomness, I know but I felt the urge to share that. It also goes to show how the US are space ages ahead when it comes to certain super foods and health crazes. Green juicing has become pretty mainstream now but I have to say the office were still a little taken back by my large glass jar crammed full of green stuff! It’s literally everywhere though, I watched ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’ the other night and was amazed by how juicing can actually transform lives. Of course these people were extreme cases and personally I couldn’t juice for extended periods of time but it really opened my eyes to the health benefits of a time limited juice diet.Smoothie making

This particular smoothie contains spirulina which of course is entirely optional but gee whizz it gives a superb health boost and really puts the GREEN into a green smoothie. This amazing post on Mind Body Green is all the evidence I need to put a teaspoon into my greens. I buy this green algae from Holland & Barrett but there are good bargains to be had on Ebay too.DSC_6594

I’m the first to admit it isn’t exactly pretty but the taste is utterly delicious! The kiwi, banana and almond milk balance out the spinach and spirulina flavours perfectly, resulting in a silky, smooth, supercharged health tonic that has you feeling on top of the world! Of course, if the spirulina makes this green smoothie just a little too green for your taste, just leave it out.Spirulina smoothie

It’s near impossible to list the vitamin and mineral boost this drink provides but let’s just say there’s hefty amounts of vitamin A, B1, B2, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, calcium and tryptophan. It’s high in fibre and protein and the perfect health tonic for a pick me up late afternoon or as part of a power breakfast.Smoothie all gone!

Spinach, kiwi + spirulina smoothie

(serves 1)

2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 kiwi, skin removed
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
1 cup almond milk

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz on high for 45 seconds or until smooth. Enjoy the goodness.

Peach, Maple & Cinnamon Rice Pancakes – GF

Rice pancakes & peachesA randomly acquired food rule I broke yesterday: Pancakes are reserved for weekends or holidays. Yeah right!

Well first up, what a silly rule and such a terrible way to live! To think about all those weekdays I’ve been missing out on my own personal pancake (well these are more crepe like) party. I suppose I’ve always associated pancake breakfasts with lazy weekends or scenes from American sitcoms where nobody’s in a rush to get to work. But these aren’t even time consuming. In fact, they’re quick, very quick, so I’m gonna make a point of eating these during the week in the hope of tricking myself! If this means I’m late for work then so be it, my pancake stack is worth it. I’m worth it!Peachy pancakes

As if being delicious isn’t enough, these are a great way to start the day and an excellent canvas for adding fruit and other delicious extras. I’m trying to eat less gluten so rice flour provides a tasty alternative  to wheat. These are a little heavier than they would be if you used almond or oat flour but the overall result is pretty satisfying. I love peaches, especially when they’re on the verge of over ripe. Yep, I reckon peaches are my favourite fruit and I love them even more with cinnamon and sticky syrup. These would work with any fruit really, dress them up or down, they’re easy going and accepting of most additions. Just be sure not to eat all your fruit before the pancakes are finished, like me! How can anyone in their right mind slice a ripe juicy peach and leave it alone? Peachy pancake process

These are just too simple not to make, enjoy them any way you want them. Be sure to break your own food rules and take some time over breakfast…..even if it makes you a few minutes late!

Peach, maple & cinnamon rice pancakes

(Serves 1)

50 grams rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 organic egg
1/4 pint coconut/almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
coconut oil, for frying
1 ripe peach, sliced
Maple syrup for drizzling

Method:

1. Combine the rice flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Place milk in a measuring jug, adding the egg and maple syrup.
2. Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a smooth batter.
3. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add a ladle of batter. Cook on each side for a minute and transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until batter is finished.
4. Arrange pancakes and peaches on a plate. Drizzle with maple syrup. Enjoy.

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