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Raspberry sorbet, double choc chip ice cream sundae

Here is the first instalment of our Sundae Challenge – a raspberry sorbet double choc chip ice cream sundae with almond chocolate bark! We are going to try a different sundae every Sunday whilst we are in Corona Virus lock-down. This one was definitely a hit with the whole fam!

Raspberry Sundae 2

Raspberry sorbet, double choc chip ice cream Sundae

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the raspberry sorbet:
3 cups frozen raspberries
15ml / 2 tbsp maple syrup
5ml / 1 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Method
Place the frozen raspberries, maple syrup, lime and orange juice in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. You might need to use the tamper and don’t blend for longer than is necessary, or it will start melting. Scrape into a container and freeze for 4 hours.

For the choc chip ice cream
500ml (2 cups) milk of your choice (hazelnut milk works well)
250ml (1 cup) double (heavy) cream
60ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
pinch of salt
5ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
5 medium egg yolks
160g 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
handful of dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Heat the milk, cream and maple syrup over medium heat until steaming.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks with the salt and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the hot milk mix.
  3. Clean the saucepan, pour the egg-milk mix back into the saucepan and place over a low heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens – if the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, it’s done. (If you do this step over a water bath, there is less chance of the mix curdling.)
  4. Lastly add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has melted. Transfer the mix to a chilled bowl and stir to cool. If your mixture looks slightly grainy, pass it through a sieve first.
  5. Add the choc chips and freeze in an ice cream maker, then place in the freezer for 4 hours (or freeze in a container, whisking the mix every 20 minutes or so until frozen).

For the raspberry coulis
Blend 3 cups of fresh raspberries in a blender (add a touch of honey if your berries are not sweet enough), then pass through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.

For the chocolate bark
1/2 cup raw almonds
100g 70% dark chocolate, very finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa nibs
sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Roast the almonds at 180˚C for 15 minutes or until the nuts are toasty. Remove and let cool, then roughly chop.
  2. Melt half the chopped chocolate in a small bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the steam, then add the rest of the chopped chocolate and stir until this too has melted.
  3. Get a baking tray ready and line it with parchment paper. Spread the chocolate out on the paper, using a spatula to ensure it is a thin layer. Sprinkle the almonds and cocoa nibs over the chocolate and sprinkle a few sea salt flakes on top. Set aside to cool and harden. If you’ve tempered the chocolate properly, it will set and have a nice snap to it.

Assemble and enjoy!

 

 

 



Mango, lime and ginger sorbet

What better way to celebrate the change in seasons and fight off various bugs than with a zingy mango, lime and ginger sorbet? A dear friend brought me some gorgeous ripe Alphonso mangoes today and just as we were about to devour them as a snack, my little one suggested making ice cream instead. And boy, was it worth the change in tack.

Mangoes are high in fibre and a great source of vitamins A and C. They also contain folate, B6, iron and a little calcium, zinc and vitamin E. Mangoes are a good source of antioxidants, containing certain phytochemicals such as gallotannins and mangiferin which have been studied for their health benefits. A study by the Journal of Nutrition also found that adding mango to your diet could improve gut microflora, due in part to the high fibre content of mango. The phytochemicals have also been studied for their gastroprotective effects, offering both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to the digestive system, and may even help reduce inflammation in conditions like ulcerative colitis.

Mango sorbet

Mango, lime and ginger sorbet

Serves 4

Ingredients
flesh from 3 ripe Alphonso mangoes
zest from 1 lime
juice from 2 large limes
1/2 peeled ripe avocado
30ml (2 tablespoons) raw honey
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until pureed.
  2. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions or place in a container in the freezer, removing every hour or so to give it a whiz in the blender. This breaks up the ice crystals and ensures the sorbet remains smooth.
  3. For those of you with a high-speed blender, you could also pour 2/3 of the mixture into a small lipped tray or baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen solid, chop roughly into small’ish cubes and place in the blender with the remaining (unfrozen) third. Use the tamper to press the mixture into the blades until you have a smooth sorbet.

 

 

 



Banana bread (gluten-free, and no added sugar)

We all have our go-to banana bread recipe that we fall back on when the brown bananas start attracting fruit flies in the bowl. I have been playing around with different recipes for the longest time. I make a sugar-free, grain-free version with a dark chocolate ganache for all the kids’ parties. It’s very moist and very delicious. In fact, many children prefer this cake to the more traditional chocolate cake that is most often also on offer. But this recipe, with the addition of roast pecans and a little bit of flour (gluten-free in my case), is also really, really good. Again, with the sweetness from the bananas, there is no need for any added sugar, and it tastes like a real treat, especially if you decide to add dark chocolate chips.

 

Banana bread 2

Sugar-free banana bread

Makes one large’ish loaf

Ingredients
180g pecan nuts (or use walnuts)**
2 eggs (or replace with 2 chia eggs)
60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil or melted coconut oil
550g mashed bananas (about 6 large bananas)
150g flour of your choice (spelt and gluten-free mixes work well)
1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
50g dark chocolate chips, optional

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a medium-large bread loaf pan.
  2. Roast the pecan nuts on a baking sheet for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and oil into the mashed bananas. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom.
  4. Put just over half the roasted pecan nuts in a mini blender or food processor and grind into a flour. Roughly chop the rest by hand, but ensure there are no big pieces. Stir both of these into the mix together with the chocolate chips, if using, and scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
  5. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, but cover with foil after 30 minutes to prevent the loaf from getting too dark on top. Test with a skewer for doneness.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before turning out. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

**Note: you could also use ground almonds instead of the 90g ground pecan  or walnuts, and just roast and chop 90g of pecans.

Banana bread 3

 

 



Roast cauliflower with green sauce

Cauliflower took over from kale as the “must eat” superfood a few years ago, and was then bumped up another notch when cauli rice became the new, well, rice. It was lent ever more glamour when caulifower steaks hit the vegan scene and whole roast cauliflower appeared on dinner tables instead of roast pork. It does all sound incredibly faddy… But here’s the thing – I really, really like cauliflower. Always have. Always will.

Sure, it can be a little bland and needs careful handling (NObody likes waterlogged cauliflower!), but it is soooo versatile and sooooo healthy and sooooo good with bold flavours. This is my version of the whole roast option. It seems like a lot of effort, but it’s really not too bad, considering the end result is so incredibly delicious. It’s very good with a bitter leaf salad and a few sliced oranges, or perhaps some roasted grapes.

Cauli 2

Whole roast cauliflower with green dressing

Serves 4 -6 

Ingredients for the cauliflower

1 large whole cauliflower

butter and / or olive oil

salt & pepper


Ingredients for the dressing

60g walnuts, plus extra for serving

30g watercress

30g chives

30g parsley

30g coriander (cilantro)

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons capers

olive oil

salt & pepper


Ingredients for the yoghurt sauce

125g natural yoghurt (not Greek) of your choice

45ml (3 tablespoons) tahini

juice from half a lemon (reserve zest for serving)

salt & pepper


Method

  1. Trim the base of the cauliflower and remove most of the outer leaves, then place in a large pot on its base with 2cm (or an inch) of water, cover and steam for 10 minutes or until just tender, but not soft. Drain and replace the lid. Set aside for a few minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Place the now dry, par-cooked cauliflower in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil (and dot with butter, if you like), and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until completely, meltingly soft and golden all over.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, make the dressing. Place the walnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and pop in the oven with the cauliflower for five minutes, or until fragrant. Be careful not to let them burn. Set aside to cool. 
  4. Roughly chop all the herbs, then place in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop. Add the chopped garlic, toasted walnuts, raisins and capers, season well. With the motor running, pour olive oil through the chute until you reach the desired consistency. You are aiming for a chunky, spoonable sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. For the yoghurt sauce, stir all the ingredients together. If the sauce seizes a little because of the tahini, add a little room temperature water to loosen it. Adjust seasoning and spread on the serving plate. 
  6. Carefully place the roasted cauliflower on the yoghurt sauce using a large spatula. Serve, drizzled with green sauce and  some additional chopped nuts.

Cauli

 



Winter salad with pears and edible flowers

I love a good winter salad, especially a really pretty one (ever tried edible flowers?), with hits of sweetness (like pear, citrus fruit or apple), bitter undertones and something crunchy, aka toasted nuts or seeds. And they come into sharp focus in my life around the middle of January every year, when my jeans start feeling a little too tight and my energy levels drop. Usually I try to stick to a plant-heavy whole foods and gluten-free diet – because my autoimmune issues flare up if I don’t – but during the Christmas holidays, it is nigh impossible. That is where winter salads come in. Add a well balanced, sharp dressing and a few herbs, and you’ve got yourself an awesome post-indulgence feelgood dish.

In fact, it is the dressing that can take a salad into the realm of superfood stardom. Your body needs the fat in the dressing to absorb the fat-soluable vitamins in the fresh vegetables and fruit – without it you may as well be eating cardboard (well, you know what I mean). Monounsaturated fat, like olive oil and avocado oil, is the most efficient at supporting carotenoid absorption in the body.

Don’t be tempted to buy ready-made dressings – making your own is so easy, quick and delicious. Plus, by making your own you are avoiding lots of additives, gums, thickeners, colours, flavours and preservatives that commercial dressing often contain. Try your hand at the dressing below, or replace the orange juice with apple cider vinegar and add a touch of honey or maple syrup. Lipsmacking.

Salad 3

Winter salad with pears and edible flowers

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients for the dressing
zest and juice from one large orange – should yield 60ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
grinding of black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
heaped teaspoon grated ginger

Ingredients for the salad
1 large packet baby leaves
3 small perfectly ripe pears, thinly sliced
handful of walnuts (raw or lightly roasted), roughly chopped
small bunch of mint
5 radishes, thinly sliced
edible flowers
crumbled blue cheese, optional

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar, screw the lid on tightly and shake well.
  2. For the salad, arrange all the ingredients on a large plate, then scatter over the edible flowers and crumbled cheese, if using.
  3. Dress shortly before serving.

Salad 4

 



Healthy lunch box ideas

Lunch boxes take me back to my school days and the AMAZING lunches my mum used to pack for us whenever we had after school activities, and couldn’t eat lunch at home. When I moved out, first to study, then to live and work abroad, I adopted the all too common approach of regularly skipping breakfasts, grabbing something quick and ready-made for lunch, and ending the day with a very late, and very large dinner. But the traditional saying “breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper” is proving rather accurate, as the mounting research† in favour of intermittent fasting shows.

Frontloading your calory intake to the first half of the day reduces risk factors for heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. People who don’t eat large meals in the latter half of the day also tend to sleep better, suffer less digestive issues and show less signs of ageing. This, and all the research I have been reading about children performing better at school, being better behaved and less prone to falling ill when they have a healthy breakfast and nutritious lunch, has convinced me to start making an effort to pack my family some decent lunches. Here are some ideas, which I put together for the team at Compass Fostering to help inspire parents to pack a punch on the lunch box front.

 

Version 2

Lunch boxes 1

Lunch box 1

Fruit water (cucumber and mint)
Tangerine
Lightly salted popcorn
Rainbow wrap
Boiled egg

Ingredients for the rainbow wrap

wholemeal wrap or flatbread
1 – 2 tablespoons hummus or red pepper hummus
small handful baby leaf spinach
1 small carrot, coarsely grated
1/4 red pepper, cut into long strips (the long Romano variety works well here)

Method
1. Spread the hummus evenly onto the wrap, leaving a border along the top end.
2. Place the spinach leaves down in a single layer, pile grated carrot into the centre and lay pepper sticks across.
3. Fold the bottom half over the fillings, ensuring you have a tight roll, then roll upward towards the top end. Cut in half or slice into thirds.

Lunch box 3

Lunch box 2

Fruit water (lemon and lime)
Pineapple wedges, raspberries
Wholemeal pesto pasta salad with salmon and peas
Natural Greek yoghurt with pumpkin seeds and raw honey

Ingredients for the pasta

medium bunch basil
small bunch dill, thickest part of stems discarded
medium bunch parsley, thickest part of stems discarded
1 small garlic clove, peeled
salt and pepper
about 80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
cooked salmon (left-overs work well here)
cooked wholemeal pasta (save some of the cooking liquid)
handful of frozen peas

Method

  1. Put the herbs, garlic, pinch of salt and black pepper in a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped.
  2. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until you reach your desired consistency (the green “pesto” sauce should be loose enough to fold into cooked pasta).
    Combine the pesto with cooked pasta, cooked salmon or deboned trout, and defrosted frozen peas.
  3. Add a little more olive oil and pasta cooking liquid if it needs it.

Lunch box 4

Lunch box 3

Fruit water (raspberries and blueberries)
Cucumber and carrot sticks with guacamole
Trail mix (sunflower seeds, coconut chips, chopped dates)
Mini frittata with broccoli and feta

Ingredients for the frittata
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
small pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
small knob of butter
handful of steamed broccoli florets (left-overs are great for this) 25g crumbled feta

Method

  1. Whisk the eggs with the water, salt and pepper. Stir in the sliced spring onions.
  2. Heat the butter in a small ovenproof skillet or pan over a medium heat until sizzling, then pour the egg mix into the pan, and scatter over the broccoli and feta cheese.
  3. Cover the pan, turn the heat down and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the egg has just set.
  4. Pop the pan under a hot grill for half a minute if you’d like, to add some colour. Cool, turn out and slice to serve.

This post was written in collaboration with Compass Fostering. All opinions, words and images are my own.

Intermittent Fasting: the surprising update
Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications



Swede and sweet potato mash

The tree in our front garden is by now completely bare (although the neighbour’s tree is still haemorrhaging leaves) and my American friends are all preparing for their Thanksgiving feasts. I have yet to be invited to one, but am a huge fan of the traditional menu of sides that is usually served at these gatherings: cranberries in some shape or form, spiced pumpkin, sweet potatoes, sprouts, mashed potatoes and squashes. When I made this swede and sweet potato mash to go alongside our chilli last week, we all agreed that it would make an excellent addition to any festive meal.

Swede mash 4

Swede and sweet potato mash

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

1 swede, peeled and roughly chopped

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

glug of olive oil

1 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil to keep it vegan)

6 shallots, finely chopped 

1 teaspoon very finely chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or use 1 teaspoon dried)

salt and freshly ground pepper

To serve

pomegranate seeds

blanched almonds, lightly roasted

butter

Method

  1. Toss the swede and sweet potato with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, spread out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 180˚C for 40 mutes or until tender and lightly coloured. You will need to toss the pieces halfway through.
  2. While the veg are roasting,  gently cook the chopped shallots and chopped rosemary in the butter until the shallots start to colour. Turn up the heat a little and caramelise for a further 5 to 10 minutes until nicely golden.  Add the chopped oregano and set aside.
  3. When the vegetables are tender, place in a food processor and blitz until you have a lovely smooth consistency. Spread out on a plate, top with caramelised onions, pomegranate seeds, roasted almonds and more butter if required.

Swede mash 2



Watercress, blood orange and beetroot salad with green dressing

After the winter storm that hit most of the UK last week, it finally feels like spring is trying to make an appearance. Along with my appetite for large, colourful salads. Hahaha. Who am I trying to kid… I would eat salads with blizzards howling around me 😉 Whether it is still snowy where you are, or you have secretly started unpacking your summer wardrobe, here is some inspiration for those of you in need of something fresh and refreshing – a watercress, blood orange and beetroot salad with a moorish green dressing.

Winter salad 1

The salad ingredients are really up to you. Here I’ve combined blood oranges, rocket, watercress, spring onions, pomegranate seeds, beetroot, green olives, red chicory and very salty Pecorino cheese. Keep it vegan by omitting the cheese or replacing it with a vegan alternative. Blood orange season is now almost over, but you can use regular oranges, tangerines, minneolas or mandarins too. And any beetroot will do, although this candy (or chioggia) beetroot is particularly beautiful and great raw in salads, as it loses its candy stripes once cooked. I also really love the addition of the chicory here, as it adds a tad of bitterness.

Ingredients for the green dressing

90ml (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
large handful mint leaves
small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks
large pinch of good quality salt
freshly ground black pepper
small knob of ginger
1 garlic clove
maple syrup to taste

Method

  1. Pour the oil and lemon juice in a blender, then add the other ingredients on top.
  2. Blend until smooth and velvety. Pour over the salad, or store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a few weeks. Shake well before use.

Note: to spice things up, you could also add a green chilli to the dressing. For other winter salad inspiration, click here.



Bergamot and cucumber salad

I only recently discovered my love for Earl Grey tea. Not the regular kind, mind you. It was the combination of Redbush tea from my homeland with the intoxicating aroma from the Bergamot oil that swayed me. The Bergamot orange (sometimes mistakenly referred to as a lemon) was created more than 300 years ago in Southern Italy when a sour orange was crossed with a citron/lemon/lime/Palestine sweet lime. No one is quite sure. The oil is extracted from the rind and used in Earl Grey teas, as well as fragrances, aromatherapy and to flavour dishes. Here I’ve put them to good use in a refreshing salad dressing with cucumber and blueberries. But the options really are endless…

Bergamot lemons (1)

Bergamot lemon cucumber salad

If you cannot find Bergamot oranges (in season from December to February) try a combination of lemon, grapefruit and orange or tangerine, although the distinctive floral, slightly bitter flavour is difficult to replicate.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients for the salad

2 English cucumbers, peeled if not organic

1 punnet blueberries (about 125g), washed and halved if you prefer

a large handful of pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Ingredients for the dressing

zest of 2 Bergamot oranges

juice of 1 Bergamot orange

80ml thick Greek yoghurt (or coconut yoghurt)

45ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

large pinch of unrefined rock or sea salt

1 – 2 teaspoons raw honey (or maple syrup), or to taste

small bunch of dill, leaves only, finely chopped

Method

  1. Thinly slice the cucumber on the diagonal and gently toss with a pinch of unrefined salt. Place the cucumber slices in a colander over a bowl or in the sink and allow to drain for at least half an hour.
  2. Put all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar, screw on the lid and give it a good shake until the honey is dissolved.
  3. Add the rest of the salad ingredients, toss with the dressing and serve immediately.

Bergamot lemon dressing

Cuke salad

 



Sweet potato rösti with Caesar kale

My biggest gripe with classifying something as an of-the-moment superfood, is that it inevitably leads to that food going “out of fashion” at some stage. It is such a shame, as many so-called superfoods really are fantastic, nutrient-dense foods that have a lot to offer. It was kale this and kale that for quite some time, but this wonderful veg seems to have fallen out of favour. Don’t be a fashion victim! Add this brunch dish, that I developed for the M&S Super Brunch Campaign, to your Boxing Day brunch, and rediscover an old favourite.

The Caesar-style dressing is delicious with the astringent greens and complemented by the sweet potato pancakes. I used the tiny copper pan from the new M&S chef range to make perfectly shaped individual portions.  rosti-2 rosti-1 rosti-4

 

This is a fantastic meal, be it for breakfast, brunch or a light supper. Like most things in life, it tastes even better with an egg on top.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients for the rösti

4 medium (about 800g) sweet potatoes, peeled

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 medium eggs, lightly whisked

40g (about 1/4 cup) wholemeal spelt flour or flour of your choice (I use a gluten-free mix)

butter or ghee for frying

Ingredients for the kale

5 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained and chopped

1 small garlic clove, peeled and chopped

small pinch of coarse salt

60ml (1/4 cup) mayonnaise, preferably home-made

15ml (1 tablespoon) freshly squeezed lemon juice

15g (1/4 cup loosely packed) finely grated Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper

300g kale, thick stalks discarded and torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces

 

Method

  1. For the kale: make the dressing, by placing the anchovies, garlic and salt in a mortar and pounding them together until you have a paste.
  2. Stir in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan and pepper, and set aside.
  3. For the rösti: boil two of the sweet potatoes in a little water until they are just tender around the outside (do not let them get too soft!). Remove from the pot and allow to cool.
  4. In the meantime, coarsely grate the other two sweet potatoes and mix with the spring onions, eggs and flour.
  5. Finally, coarsely grate the slightly softened sweet potatoes and carefully combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Heat a little butter or ghee (or coconut oil) in a frying pan until hot (but not smoking), then add enough batter to make a patty shape. Press down on the batter to ensure it is compact and will hold together.
  7. Fry for roughly 5 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Carefully remove with a spatula and keep warm while frying the rest.
  8. Whilst your final rösti is frying, gently wilt the kale in a little water over a medium heat. As soon as it is tender, drain, return to the pan and stir through the dressing.
  9. Serve the dressed kale on top of the rösti with or without eggs.

rosti-3

*This blog post was written in collaboration with M&S. All content and photos my own.