Family Focused gut-health

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5 tips to eating your way to a healthier, happier healthier gut

Looking after your own gut health can be daunting, but can be all the more difficult when you have to factor in the rest of the family. Here are 5 tips from me on eating your way to a happier, healthier gut.


1. Eat more veg, and don’t peel them! You have probably heard this before, most likely from your own parents. But yes, eating more veg provides not only a range of nutrients that you can’t get anywhere else, but veg are also a great source of fibre. Gut bacteria love and need fibre to carry on doing their job, so a diet rich in veg is key to a happy, healthy gut. Many veg, like carrots, beetroot and potatoes don’t need to be peeled before you eat or cook them–all they need is a good wash, particularly if they are organic. That goes for fruit apples and pears too. So, upping your veg intake and eating them with the skins saves time and feeds your gut bacteria!

2. Take out refined sugar and cut down on the starchy carbs–A lot of foods now are geared towards convenience, and convenience is often crucial to busy family life; however, many of these convenience foods are processed, laden with sugar, sodium, preservatives and are distinctively beige. Many of these beige foods are targeted at children and have become staples in many households, particularly when time is tight. But many parents will attest, a child fuelled on sugars and starchy stuff can be moody, lacking in concentration largely due to blood sugar imbalance. These foods can also damage the gut lining, which impacts your gut’s ability to house and grow beneficial bacteria. Taking out refined sugars and carbs can be a challenge, particularly when you’re short on time and when there is seemingly no end to the children’s parties (aka Sugarfests). So, start at home by swapping out refined sugars for natural ones, and ones that contain, you guessed it–fibre. Think of replacing sugar with fruit, honey or maple syrup, raw cane sugar or coconut sugar, and of course using these in moderation. Also read your food labels and try to buy and eat more natural, preservative-free foods. And last, which leads on to my next tip, swap your simple carbs for complex carbs, like wholegrains. A healthy gut lining makes a happy home for our probiotic pals.

3. Eat more wholegrains– Several nutritional studies suggest that swapping refined grains for wholegrains has an impact on the variety and function of gut microbes. Wholegrains appear to help keep balance between inflammatory and non-inflammatory bacteria, they also help the bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids, which are an important food source for the bacteria in your colon and also contribute to your immune and metabolic health. But what does that all mean? It largely comes back to fibre. Wholegrains are full of fibre (soluble and insoluble) and your gut microbes use and ferment fibre to replicate, and this process creates a host of beneficial nutrients. Making the wholegrain swap doesn’t have to be expensive or labour-intensive. Start by making changes to your pasta, breads and cereals. Pasta is a staple in many households, it is easy, delicious and a sure win with most children. Try swapping your usual white pasta for a wholegrain variety like wholewheat, spelt, buckwheat or brown rice. Opt for wholegrain bread containing grains like rye, spelt, wheat and/or other pseudo-grains like buckwheat, teff and quinoa– and make sure your bread doesn’t contain lots of sugar and preservatives, which can particularly be an issue with store-bought gluten-free bread. As for cereals, oats, buckwheat groats and puffed cereals like brown rice, quinoa and spelt make gut-friendlier options. With cereals again, the challenge is avoiding additives and sugars. A fun way to ensure a more balanced breakfast cereal is to make your own. My kids enjoy making their own breakfast blends using whole grains with nuts, seeds, coconut chips, dried fruit, cacao nibs and spices– whatever takes their fancy, toasted with a bit of coconut oil.

4. Eat a varied diet– In my kid’s cookery classes we talk about eating a rainbow. And this is just a simpler way of saying it is important to eat a variety of different and different colour foods. Variety is key to supporting diverse gut flora. There are trillions of bacteria of different varieties living in your gut. These different types of bacteria flourish when they have a range of different food sources. Think of your gut like your garden, the flower, bushes, insects, trees and birds require some of the same things, but also different things to grow. So, keep your and your family’s ‘gut garden’ growing and flourishing by eating a varied diet of fruit, veg, pulses, legumes, nuts & seeds, healthy fats and complex carbs. Translating that to family meal-times can require a bit of inventiveness, but doesn’t have to be difficult. Some of our favourite ‘rainbow’ meals include make your own tacos to my ‘chuck it all in’ lentil bolognaise or sushi. And getting the kids to count up and keep track of the different colours they’ve eaten can spur them on to embracing a more varied diet.

5. Add fermented foods into your daily diet–Adding fermented foods to your diet is a guaranteed way to ensure you are getting a good dose of probiotics, aka good bacteria. But let’s be honest you won’t convince many kids to munch on sauerkraut, especially if they’ve never eaten it before. But they are several fermented foods that you can incorporate regularly to improve gut health that the whole family can enjoy. I get asked often ‘what probiotic foods can I give to my children?’ My answer is all of them, but the key is to start with small amounts and start with flavours that their palate will recognise. Things like live natural yogurt, milk kefir (coconut if you don’t have dairy), probiotic lemonade, water kefir fermented jams or compotes and even salsa work well. These can be enjoyed on their own or mixed into milkshakes, smoothies or work as toppings for soaked oats, porridge or even on toast. Serve up the salsa as a side or mixed in with mashed avocado. The ‘fizzy’ drinks feel like a treat without the sugar and nasties. Not to mention they make great cocktail mixers for us adults. And get the kids involved in making them. The process is fascinating and quite science-y, which many kids will enjoy. So getting everyone to enjoy fermented foods means starting small, having them often and starting with things that won’t completely shock their taste buds. Eventually you can build up to things like sauerkraut and try putting it into salad or sandwiches to make the taste less obvious if you’re worried about the taste putting them off. But once the taste is recognisable feel free to try anything!

Quick, Easy Xmas Spiced Orange Choc Truffles

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I have made a lot of truffles this festive period, more than I have ever made or eaten in my life. We’re talking several hundred! Spirulina, beetroot, orange, regular choc, vegan, fermented… you get the gist. I have made these for clients, given these as gifts and taught 9 children how to make them (that was MESSY)! How ever you like them, here is a quick recipe that can easily be whipped up and gifted or snaffled on your own, but ’tis the season for sharing, so I’d recommend sharing one or two. The recipe below is for the vegan, spiced orange version pictured above. If you’d like to make a fermented version, replace the coconut cream with milk kefir (cow, coconut or goat) and add a few tsp of maple syrup to balance the flavours.

Makes 40-50 truffles

300g good quality dark chocolate (85% or higher)

2tbsp raw cacao/cocoa powder, plus more for rolling

1tsp ground cinnamon

1/4tsp mixed spice

1/8tsp cayenne pepper

165ml coconut cream

1tbsp orange blossom nectar

1tsp maple syrup (optional)

1. In a bain marie, melt the chocolate, stirring to prevent burning.

2. When the chocolate has melted, whisk in the cacao and and spices. Followed by the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.

3. Pour the truffle mixture into a container and place it in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours. The mixture should be fairly solid.

4. When the mixture is cooled remove it from the fridge and let it sit for a few minutes before using a melon baller or 1tsp metal measuring spoon to scoop out the mixture.

5. Roll the mixture into a ball and roll into cacao/cocoa powder. Carry on until all the mixture is used.

6. Enjoy these straightaway or keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Allergy info: none

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of my prep for my fermented drinks workshops, I brew bigger batches of milk kefir. To make sure nothing goes to waste, I like to cook with it. It adds a lovely tang which works well with sweet as well as savoury dishes, just like buttermilk. Of course, heating it kills off the beneficial gut bacteria, but there are still other nutritional benefits. Kefir is high in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, tryptophan, folic acid, biotin, Vitamins A, B2, B12, D and K. So still pretty great, right? If you are after the little gut helpers, cooked kefir isn’t your best option, but does help to showcase the different ways kefir, can be used to add flavour as well as nutrients to your cooking.

Here is a quick recipe for little cakes, a breakfast, snack or anytime go-to treat. I used plums as they needed using up, but you can add any fruit, whatever is in season!

plum kefir cakes

 

Mini Plum Kefir Cakes

110 g wholegrain spelt flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch sea salt
1 tbsp milled flax seeds
1 egg
83 g coconut oil or 110g butter, melted
3 tbsp goat milk kefir
3 ripe plums, 2 chopped and 1 cut into slices for garnishing
Maple syrup to taste

Makes 8-10 cakes (depending on the size of the tins)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients until well combined.
3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the coconut oil, kefir and egg. Stir well to combine.
4. Stir through the chopped plums and add the maple syrup to taste (I tend to add less sweetener when using sweet fruit). The mixture should be a ‘dropping’ consistency.
5. Fill the cases and pop into the oven to bake for 10-15 mins or until the skewer comes out clean.

Allergy info: wheat, goat milk

Sauerkraut: Good for the gut and easy to make

golden sauerjraut

Lacto-fermentation is a great way to preserve vegetables, and locking in their nutrients and increasing the gut-friendly bacteria. Almost any vegetable (and fruit) can be fermented, but perhaps the most famous and fuss-free ferment is sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is made when the sugar in the cabbage is converted to lactic acid, which happens when salt helps to facilitate the growth of good bacteria, lactobacillus. Sauerkraut can be enjoyed several ways, as a side dish, on salad, in a soup and can even be dehydrated into crackers. It is easy to make and can be enjoyed for several months. Once you get the hang of it, it is fun and easy to experiment with spices and flavours.

If you want to learn more about fermentation as well as few other recipes, I run workshops in Brockley, SE4 at the Sunflower Centre.

Golden Sauerkraut

This recipe is for a powerhouse of a sauerkraut, full of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, heart and brain-loving nutrients, thanks to the turmeric, garlic and mustard seeds. The addition of the black pepper also adds to the anti-inflammatory properties, but it also helps to aid digestion by increasing nutrient absorption and increasing the secretion of stomach acid. Enjoy this sauerkraut as part of any meal or on its own!

1kg white cabbage, washed and shredded (reserve the outer leaves and core)
15g Himalayan salt
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1tbsp turmeric powder
1tbsp black mustard seeds
½ tbsp black peppercorns

Yields 1 litre jar
1. Chop or grate the cabbage (finely or coarsely, depending on your taste) and be sure to save some of the outer leaves as well as the core for packing the jar.
2. Place the cabbage in a large plastic bowl once chopped, sprinkling the salt on the cabbage.
3. Massage the cabbage for about 5 minutes to break down the cabbage and start to draw the water out. Alternatively, you can leave this for 15-30 mins and allow the water to be drawn out naturally.
4. Next, add the garlic and spices and mix until well combined.
5. Once mixed, start packing the cabbage into an airtight preserving jar (i.e. a clip top Kilner or screw top Mason jar). As you pack, tamp it down hard using your fists (if they fit into the jar), a rolling pin or muddling stick. You want to leave about a 3cm gap at the top of the jar.
6. Make sure the cabbage is submersed in liquid, and cover the cabbage with a few of the leftover leaves (you may have to tear these to fit).
7. Place a clean weight (a ramekin, fermenting weight, sterilised stone or the core of the cabbage).
8. Seal the jar and leave the sauerkraut to ferment on the kitchen counter for three days (you will need to ‘burp’ the jar once or twice a day) before transferring it to a cool dark cupboard to ferment from 1-6 weeks—the longer the better.
9. You can check the flavour of the sauerkraut using a wooden or plastic spoon. Once you are happy with the flavour you can transfer the sauerkraut into smaller jars and store it in the fridge. This will keep for 7 or 8 months in the fridge and the flavour will continue to develop.
Allergy info: None

 

 

Move over pancakes…

Pancakes are a weekend staple round ours and I have made pretty much every combination you can imagine (including the less than well received matcha, dark choc chip combo). I recently bought a waffle iron, and waffles have now replaced the pancake as our weekend breakfast favourite. I’ve also recently started experimenting with milk kefir thanks to my army of milk kefir grains, which now makes a regular appearance in my baking and now my waffles. The kefir gives a slightly tang, similar to buttermilk, but with probiotic goodness.  And blackberries are another firm favourite in our house, which I love to forage and my youngest eats by the punnet. We’ve enjoyed these waffles several times and  I’ll be looking for a seasonal fruit alternative to add once blackberry season (sadly) ends.

waffles

 

Blackberry & Milk Kefir Waffles

Waffles are always treat—and make a great breakfast, lunch or dinner and even work for afters as pudding. These waffles, are made with nutrient-rich spelt flour, but any wholegrain, including oat, will do, but you may need an extra splash or 2 of liquid. I have also used milk kefir here, which gives them a slight buttermilk tang, with the added benefit of gut-friendly bacteria. The blackberries, a later summer/early autumn favourite, are rich in fibre and Vitamin C and are great for boosting brain health. Be sure to the waffles until they are crisp. Enjoy with extra berries, chopped nuts, and of course, maple syrup!
225g Spelt or wholegrain flour
2tsp baking powder
¼tsp salt
3tsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
300ml milk kefir (cow or goat milk)
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla paste
5tbsp coconut oil, melted + extra for greasing
200g blackberries, lightly mashed + extra for serving
Maple syrup, for serving

Serves 4 (8 or 10 waffles, depending on the size of your waffle iron)

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Measure out the milk kefir, crack in the eggs, add the coconut sugar, vanilla and melted coconut oil and whisk.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and whisk until well combined.
4. Fold in the blackberries into the batter and allow the batter to sit for 10 mins so that the spelt can fully absorb the liquid.
5. While the batter rests, heat your waffle iron.
6. Grease the mould, ensuring that both sides of the iron are well oiled.
7. Once the iron is hot, ladle the batter into the mould until it is about ¾ full and allow it to cook 3-5 minutes, or until crisp. Repeat until all the batter is used.
8. Serve with extra berries, chopped nuts and maple syrup.
Allergy info: dairy

 

A wholegrain take on choc chip biscuits

rye choc chip biscuits

I found out recently from my son’s school that they want to feature a recipe that we created for his February half-term homework as part of a cookbook that will be sold during  ‘Healthy Living Week’ at the school. I’m chuffed. He’s not really bothered. Either way, I had fun making these with him and these are now in my repertoire of healthy treats. Anyone with kids knows how difficult it is to avoid the sugary, preservative-laden chocolates and biscuits that seem to be in every party bag and on supermarket shelves. Don’t get me wrong, my children do eat these things on occasion, but I try my best to and provide better alternatives, things that still taste delicious, but have some form of nutrients. While there is still some sugar in these compliments of the maple syrup, it is balanced with protein (seeds) and fibre (rye is an excellent source), both of which are important for insulin production and blood sugar regulation, which means they are less likely to lead to the post-treat peaks and troughs. And because of the added fibre and protein they are more filling, and perhaps one, rather than a whole packet, just may be enough. Have a go, and hopefully the adults, as well as the kidlets, will enjoy.

Rye and Maple Chocolate Chip Biscuits

These biscuits were inspired by what was in the cupboard, but also our love of dark chocolate! These biscuits are moreish with their wholegrain texture and subtle malty sweetness. They are slightly healthier than your average chocolate chip biscuit thanks to the added protein (sunflower seeds), are higher in fibre (rye flour) and have much less refined sugar, as maple syrup is used instead of sugar. But despite being relatively healthy or grown up, they are still delicious and pleasing to little tastebuds!

Makes 1 dozen

180g rye flour

45g sunflower flour (or sunflower seeds finely ground)

½ tsp bicarbonate soda

Pinch of sea salt

150g butter, melted

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

60ml maple syrup

150g dark chocolate (preferably 100% cocoa), roughly chopped

 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C and line a baking tray with parchment/baking paper.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk together to combine and distribute any lumps.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, vanilla, and maple syrup.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and fold to combine.
  5. Fold in the chocolate until well combined.
  6. Use a spoon to scoop the mixture into one hand and roll into golf ball-sized balls and place these on the tray, gently pressing to flatten. Repeat until you have used all the mixture.
  7. Place the tray in the heated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden and crisp.
  8. Leave the biscuits to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, before transferring to a baking rack to cool. Be sure to sample a few while still warm!

Allergy info: dairy

 

One for the sun…

gazpacho
Green gazpacho w/sesame seed, chilli and paprika sprinkle

Hopefully like me, you are willing the sun to stick around. I’m dreaming of sun-filled afternoons in the garden and going on summer holiday somewhere, anywhere warm. This recipe is inspired by my love of summer holidays in Spain, where I drink gazpacho by the litre. After all, I don’t eat meat, so this is one of the few dishes I can safely eat and not worry about sneaky jamón (though, it has happened). But seriously, I love it. There is just something so unctuous about the flavour combination and there is of course the nostalgia–I spent a large part of my 20s speaking bad Spanish in Spain. In developing this recipe, I realised that gazpacho isn’t just delicious, but nutritionally packed full of vitamins and minerals. Though this recipe is for a slightly less traditional variation, it still tastes of sun and is probably an even better hangover cure than a carton of Don Simón’s.

Enjoy!

Gorgeous Green Gazpacho

There is just some so delicious and refreshing about the combination of sun-ripened tomatoes, cooling cucumber, fresh herbs and subtle heat. Not only is gazpacho refreshing, but packed full of nutrients. Tomatoes are nutrient rich, providing an excellent source of Vitamin C, biotin, and Vitamin K. They are also a very good source of copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fibre, Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), Vitamin B6, folate, niacin, Vitamin E and phosphorus. Cucumber is of course, refreshing, but also a good source of silica, a mineral that is good for bone and connective tissue health as well as long list of other vitamins and minerals. Avocados provide a great source of omega-3s and good source of fat that our bodies need to maintain health and they also help to make this a creamy, and more filling soup. In short, this is a refreshing, vitamin and mineral packed soup perfect for cooling off and reminiscing of summer holidays in Spain.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter

400g ripe, green tomatoes (I used a mixture of green and yellow), roughly chopped

1 ½ limes, juiced

2 large, ripe avocados

200g cucumber, roughly chopped

2 spring onions, trimmed and roughly chopped

1 serrano chilli, roughly chopped (with or without seeds depending on your preference)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp sherry vinegar

3-4 sprigs of tarragon, chopped

Small handful of basil, chopped with stems

Generous handful of coriander, chopped with stems

Good drizzle of olive oil

Salt to taste

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

1tsp Aleppo chilli

2 limes, cut into 4 cheeks

Finely diced cucumber and coriander to serve

  1. Using a food processor, blend the tomatoes and lime juice.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until well combined.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Grind the seeds, paprika and chilli and set aside for garnishing along with chopped cucumber, lime cheeks and extra coriander.

 

 

When you want a curry, but can’t stomach the spice

After reading the title, you will realise that there’s a bad pun lurking. Apologies, but it was too good to pass up. Puns aside, this recipe was developed for the boyfriend of a friend who loves curry, but not the after effects.  Despite being a very keen cook, curries being amongst his favourites, he eats a lot of processed food, sweets, fried food, rarely drinks water and drinks beer nightly. So it’s not really a surprise that he suffers from extreme heartburn and ulcers. So this recipe was designed to go easy on the gut, but still provide with him something that he’d love to eat and cook. Even if you don’t have gut trouble, you can still make this recipe, and if you choose to, toss in a green chilli or two when making the paste.  Enjoy!

curry

Coconut Prawn, Lentil and Spinach Curry

This curry is packed with flavour, but without the traditional curry heat, making it delicious, but easy on the digestive system. It is packed with soluble fibre from the onions and lentils (also good sources of prebiotics) and aromatics (ginger and turmeric) and spices that aid in digestion (fenugreek). The aromatics have been pureed for ease of digestion. The shellfish as well as the fenugreek offer good sources of zinc, an essential mineral for gut repair. The recipe uses baby spinach, which is lower in oxalic acid to regular spinach, makes the leafy greens easier to digest. Additional digestive benefits are provided by the fresh coriander. The curry can be served with any variety of gluten-free grains, but my favourite is cooked buckwheat groats, spiced with cardamom pods, cinnamon bark and star anise, also great digestives.

Serves 2

100g yellow mung dahl

1 small red onion, quartered

3cm thumb ginger, washed

3 cm fresh turmeric root

2tbsp water

1tbsp coconut oil

1 ½tsp fenugreek seeds

1 ½tsp black mustard seeds

14 curry leaves

1tsp black peppercorns, cracked

1x 400 ml tin coconut milk

250g jumbo prawns, headed and deveined

100g baby spinach, washed

1 large handful of chopped coriander

1 lime, cut into cheeks

Toasted coconut flakes (optional)

  1. Rinse the lentils and soak in 2 times the amount of cold water for 2-3 hours. Drain, rinse, cover with 2 times the amount of water and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  2. Add the onion, ginger, turmeric and water to a blender/food processor and blend to form a paste. Set aside.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan and add the fenugreek, mustard seeds, curry leaves and black peppercorns and cook until the mustard seeds start to pop.
  4. Next, add the onion, ginger and turmeric paste to the pan and fry for 3-5 mins, stirring frequently, until the onion in the paste becomes translucent.
  5. Add the coconut milk and cooked lentils. Allow the dish to simmer 10 minutes to reheat the lentils and allow them to break up a bit and thicken the sauce.
  6. Then, add the prawns and cook for 3-4 mins before adding the spinach. Simmer until the spinach has wilted into the dish.
  7. Finish with a squeeze of lime (reserve the cheeks for serving) and stir through half of the chopped coriander.
  8. Serve with toasted coconut flakes, lime cheeks, the remaining coriander and a gluten free grain (instead of rice), such as cooked buckwheat groats.

Allergy info: Shellfish

A hearty salad: What to eat when the weather can’t make up its mind

I love salad, a hearty salad, mind you. This means my salads often include grains, pulses and seeds, as well as veg (the more colourful the better, I say) which creates a filling and nutrient dense meal. The combination of pulses, grains and proteins, is not only a winner in terms of taste and texture, but it also helps to ensure that your essential amino acids are covered. So combine away, is what I say.

Hearty salads also provide a way to make the most of seasonal vegetables, and in can bridge the seasons nicely when one veg is going out and another is coming into season. As of late, it’s not clear what season we’ve entered, weather-wise. Some days the it feels like spring, and I am itching to cook spring-like food, and other days it seems like we’ve headed back into winter and all I want is something warming and earthy. The other day I made a salad which seemed to reflect this season/climate confusion. Though a bit mixed up, it tasted great.  Take a look at the salad recipe below and feel free to create something similarly hearty–whatever the season.

salad

Freekeh and Roasted Veg Salad with Wild Garlic and Spring Onion Dressing

This salad is another versatile dish that accommodates any vegetable combination, just roast up whatever is in the fridge and toss in some fresh greens. It is a great recipe that can be adapted with whatever veg is in season and whatever nut or seed you fancy. It is also a good recipe for using up leftover roast veg. The freekeh makes the salad more filling and the wild garlic dressing adds a freshness. The salad can be enjoyed warm or cold.

Serves 2-4

3 handfuls of vegetables (i.e. carrots, beetroot, sweet potato, squash–whatever is in season), chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

A few springs of thyme or rosemary

Sea salt and pepper

100g freekeh

600ml boiling water

2 spring onions, trimmed

Good sized handful of wild garlic leaves

1/2 lemon, juiced

4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

60g pumpkin or mixed seeds, toasted

2 handfuls of fresh greens (i.e. spinach, rocket or kale)

Additional salt and pepper to taste

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Chop the vegetables and add to a roasting dish along with the just over half of oil (save the rest for greasing the frying pan), herbs, salt and pepper. Roast for the vegetables for 20-25 minutes until they can be pierced easily by a fork.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, put a frying pan over the heat and brush the inside of the pan with a bit of the coconut oil. Place the lemon halves in the frying pan, cut side down and griddle until fragrant and brown. Set aside.
  4. In a saucepan, add the freekeh and boiling water. Bring to a rapid boil, then turn the heat down and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes until it is al dente.
  5. Next make the dressing by adding the olive oil, wild garlic, garlic cloves, spring onion, lemon, a pinch of salt and pepper to a food processer. Whizz together, check the seasoning and pour into a  glass jar.
  6. When the veg are done, transfer them to a large bowl and fold the freekeh through.
  7. Add the toasted seeds and fresh greens then drizzle over the dressing before serving.
  8. Add and additional salt and pepper to taste.

Allergy info: gluten

Smoothies for anytime of the day

I have to confess, I don’t drink many smoothies and when I do, I often over-zealously add in too many ingredients and end up with a green/brown sludge, which I realise is not necessarily appetising or visually appealing. But smoothies can be enjoyed any time of day, not just breakfast. And depending on what you put in can serve as a great meal replacement or a snack. Here are three recipes for smoothies packed with nutrients, flavour as well as full of colour (good old phytochemicals)! Enjoy!

rise and shine

Rise and Shine Smoothie

This smoothie is a breakfast in a glass and provides the much needed boost that many of us desperately need in order to start a dark winter’s day. Packed with a number of essential vitamins from the oranges (Vitamin C), carrots (Vitamin A) and protein from the sunflower seeds (also a rich source of Vitamins B1 and E) and the bee pollen, as well as helping to boost the digestive system (ginger), kick-start your metabolism (cayenne pepper), increase blood sugar control (oats) and provides you with the strength and endurance needed to face the long (often grey) day ahead (bee pollen). The added flavour from the cinnamon, maple water and maple syrup make this smoothie taste like a weekend breakfast, but with weekday convenience.

Serves 1

1 blood orange, peeled and segmented

1 carrot, roughly chopped

10 g ginger

20 g gluten-free oats

20 g sunflower seeds

½ teaspoon bee pollen

¼ tsp maple syrup

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch cayenne pepper

200 ml maple water

  1. Wash and prepare the fruit and veg, then add the ingredients to the jug of a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

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 sprouted and green

Sprouted and Green Smoothie

This recipe is packed with leafy greens and provides a quick remedy for sneaking in a host of essential nutrients. Rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants, chlorophyll and magnesium, this smoothie is a great at detoxifying (green leafy veg), supporting your immune system (parsley) and is also a great source of protein (sprouts) and energy support (avocado). Enjoy this smoothie as a late morning or late afternoon snack and it is particularly nourishing when combatting the ill-effects of food and alcohol excesses!

 

Serves 2

30 g watercress, rinsed

30 g romaine lettuce, rinsed and torn

10 g parsley

¼ fennel bulb

10 g broccoli sprouts

20 g mung bean sprouts

½ avocado

½ pear

20 g lemon, skin on

200 ml filtered water

  1. Wash and prepare the fruit and veg before, then add the ingredients above to a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into two glasses and enjoy!

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beets and berries

Martha’s Afterschool Berries & Beets Smoothie

This recipe is inspired by one of my son’s friends who comes over on Tuesdays for a play afterschool, Martha (who also happens to love beetroot). Packed with brain boosting nutrients (berries) and nitrates (beetroot) this smoothie provides a ‘pick-me up’, helping to re-focus and re-energise after a long school day. There are also additional digestive benefits provided by the pear (pectin) and it is made more filling with the addition of the avocado. And the additional sweetness from the pear, honey and brown rice milk helps to make the taste of the earthy beetroot more inviting to little palates. You can use frozen or fresh berries (if in season), and using frozen berries help to make this smoothie rich and creamy, a bit more like ice cream.

 

Serves 2 (child-sized portions)

20 g blackberries, fresh or frozen

20 g raspberries, fresh or frozen

½ beetroot, washed

¼ pear

¼ avocado, flesh only

¼ teaspoon raw honey

150 ml brown rice milk

  1. Wash and prepare fruit and vegetables, then add to the above ingredients into the jug of of a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into two glasses and enjoy!