Beetroot and carrots are such versatile vegetables: grated raw into salads, cake batters or mixed with yoghurt for tasty sandwich fillings, cut into batons for dipping, roasted with honey and mustard, lightly steamed to go with a buttermilk and dill dressing… the options are endless. For this flavourful and filling salad, I’ve paired roasted beets and carrots with a creamy hummus base, red grapes, fresh herbs and crispy chickpeas. It makes a wonderful salad to bridge the change in seasons.
Roasted beet, carrot and chickpea salad
Ingredients for the crispy chickpeas
1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas, drained well
15ml (1 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Ingredients for the salad
650g carrots, scrubbed and left whole or halved / quartered lengthwise, depending on size
650g beetroot, peeled and cut into quarters or eights, depending on size
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g beetroot or regular hummus (store-bought* or home-made)
150g Green-style thick yoghurt (dairy-free works well too)
salt and black pepper to taste
300g red or black grapes, halved if large
handful of picked fresh oregano leaves
- Place the carrots in a large bowl and toss with enough oil to coat, a good pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast at 200˚C for 45 minutes. Repeat with the beetroot wedges and place on a second baking sheet to roast at the same time as the carrots.
- For the chickpeas: cover a large rimmed baking sheet with absorbant kitchen towel and scatter the chickpeas on top. Use more kitchen towel to rently rub the chickpeas until they are completely dry (and no longer look shiny). Discard any skins that loosen when you do this.
- In the same bowl you used for the veg, toss the chickpeas with the oil, salt and spices, then spread out on the baking sheet (after disposing of the kitchen towel!). They will need to roast for 30 minutes and are best eaten straight from the oven, so do take this into account when you pop them into the oven.
- While the veg and chickpeas are roasting, mix together the hummus, yoghurt and additional seasoning to taste.
- Just before serving, spread the mix onto a large plate with the back of a large spoon. Top with the roasted veg, grapes, crunchy chickpeas and oregano leaves. Finish with a final drizzle of olive oil and serve – try it with this cornbread or perhaps some fresh crusty bread and a green salad.
* I used a store-bought smoked beetroot hummus, which worked incredibly well.
Irish potato farls are a quick and easy dish to make with leftover mashed potatoes. They are delicious on their own with butter or as part of a larger meal as a bread replacement, especially a cooked breakfast. I like leaving them in the oven a little longer, to make them extra crispy on the bottom. But I know there are people who prefer them soft and pale.
Potatoes are often slated as unhealthy high-carb foods, but they contain more potassium than bananas, and they also contain fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B6, plus a bit of iron and calcium. They also contain phytonutrients like flavonoids that function as powerful antioxidants. This recipe would also be great with purple potatoes, but sweet potato mash is not “dry” enough for farls. If you’d like to use sweet potatoes or mashed pumpkin, try the South African “pampoenkoekies” instead.
Irish potato farls
500g mashed potatoes
heaped 1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
50g butter, melted
15g chives, finely snipped
3 spring onions, finely sliced
150g flour of your choice
1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Mix all the ingredients into the mashed potatoes – use the back of your large spoon to squash the potatoes into the flour. As soon as you can no longer see any flour, use your hands to form the dough into 3 balls. You can add more flour if the mixture is too wet and a little milk if it is too dry.
- Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and gently roll out on a lightly floured surface until about 1cm thickness. Cut the circle into quarters.
- Heat one or more small cast iron frying pans with a knob of butter each over a medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Place four quarters carefully into each of the pans and bake in the oven for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how brown you like them. You can flip them over half-way, although we just leave them on the same side until we’re happy with the colour.
- Serve with butter or pesto and grated cheese, with a cooked breakfast or topped with your favourite sandwich toppings.
This blueberry frozen yoghurt and cherry sorbet ice cream sundae with hot blueberry lime sauce and freshly baked blueberry friands was delicious and refreshing. It was also a little more in my comfort zone – super low in added sugars, lots of natural fruit flavours and a golden thread of citrus.
If it feels like too much effort to make all the elements yourself (and let’s face it, my tolerance level for effort in the kitchen is a little higher than most…), just buy some berry or cherry sorbet, and blueberry froyo, and make the sauce and friands – they are both amazing!
450g stoned cherries (frozen are fine)
30ml Kirsch (or Creme de Cassis)
20ml lemon juice
30ml maple syrup
160ml (2/3 cup) coconut water
- Blend all the ingredients until smooth and freeze in ice cream maker according to instructions.
- If you have a high speed blender, you could also add the liquids to the container, place all the frozen cherries on top and blend, using the tamper, until smooth and soft serve consistency. Transfer to a container and place in the freezer for 4 hours.
Blueberry frozen yoghurt
30ml (40g) raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125ml double cream
1 x 450g tub blueberry yoghurt
- Place the honey, vanilla and cream in a small bowl and whip until soft peak stage.
- Gently stir in the blueberry yoghurt and freeze in an ice cream maker according to instructions. Place in the freezer for a few hours to reach the perfect consistency.
Makes 20 mini friands
45g coconut sugar (or use light brown unrefined sugar)
85g almond flour
25g gluten free (or regular) flour
pinch of salt
90g butter or coconut oil, melted
3 medium egg whites, lightly whisked
zest from 1 orange
zest from 1 lemon
80g blueberries (frozen are fine)
- Whisk the sugar, almond flour, flour and salt in a medium bowl.
- Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the melted butter & egg whites. Start whisking, drawing in flour from the outside. Stir in the zest and blueberries.
- Butter 20 holes in a mini muffin tin and spoon the mixture into these. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 180˚C.
Hot blueberry lime sauce
200g sweet blueberries (frozen are fine)
15ml (20g) raw honey, or more to taste
zest from 1 lime
15ml lime juice
- Heat the blueberries in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the skins start to pop. Scrape into a blender and blend with the honey and lime juice.
- Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
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 sorbet, double choc chip ice cream Sundae
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
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
- Heat the milk, cream and maple syrup over medium heat until steaming.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks with the salt and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the hot milk mix.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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
- Roast the almonds at 180˚C for 15 minutes or until the nuts are toasty. Remove and let cool, then roughly chop.
- 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.
- 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!
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, lime and ginger sorbet
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
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until pureed.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Sugar-free banana bread
Makes one large’ish loaf
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
- Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a medium-large bread loaf pan.
- Roast the pecan nuts on a baking sheet for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and oil into the mashed bananas. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 coriander (cilantro)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons capers
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Carefully place the roasted cauliflower on the yoghurt sauce using a large spatula. Serve, drizzled with green sauce and some additional chopped nuts.
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.
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
crumbled blue cheese, optional
- Put all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar, screw the lid on tightly and shake well.
- For the salad, arrange all the ingredients on a large plate, then scatter over the edible flowers and crumbled cheese, if using.
- Dress shortly before serving.
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.
Lunch box 1
Fruit water (cucumber and mint)
Lightly salted popcorn
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)
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.
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
- Put the herbs, garlic, pinch of salt and black pepper in a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped.
- 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.
- Add a little more olive oil and pasta cooking liquid if it needs it.
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
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
- Whisk the eggs with the water, salt and pepper. Stir in the sliced spring onions.
- 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.
- Cover the pan, turn the heat down and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the egg has just set.
- 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.
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 and sweet potato mash
Serves 4 – 6
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
blanched almonds, lightly roasted
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.