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.
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.
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.
I often get asked by exhausted and slightly fed-up parents what they should serve their kids for breakfast. I find it so hard to answer that, as my children have had spinach soup, dhal and left-over stew for breakfast… but how do you compress your entire food philosophy into an answer to the simple question: “What’s for breakfast?” The way I’ve explained it to my family is that ANYthing that breaks the fast in the morning qualifies, and if you look at the myriad of breakfasts served around the globe every day, there really are no rules.
A well-balanced meal is your best bet, whatever you choose to serve. In other words it contains enough protein to keep you full for a few hours and prevent cravings, enough carbohydrates to get you going, and enough healthy fat to slow down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream, providing satiation while helping to avoid major insulin spikes.
This cornbread is a delicious alternative to boxed cereal or toast when served with avocado, chilli jam and eggs, or these delicious homemade baked beans on the savoury version, or nut butter and honey on the blueberry version. It’s easy to prepare the batter the night before – remember to add the baking soda and baking powder only just before baking! – and needs only 20 – 25 minutes or so in a hot oven. There are so many versions of recipes for cornbread, but I have played around for a long time with the proportions and this is one of my favourite end results. Now, this cornbread is certainly not only a breakfast food in our house (in fact, I most often make it as a side dish when we have friends over for a BBQ), so hopefully you will get a chance to try it out soon, morning, noon or night!
Makes two 8” or 20cm skillet cornbreads, or one large bread
230 – 250g (about 1 1/4 cup) cornmeal or polenta bramata (the exact amount depends on how coarsely the cornmeal is ground and the water content of the coconut milk – you are aiming for a wet, but not runny, mixture)
120g (about 1 cup) wholemeal spelt flour (you can also use your favourite gluten-free flour, although the bread won’t be as crispy)
20g (about 2 tablespoons) coconut palm sugar (or use muscovado)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 x 400g can coconut milk (full fat and preferably organic)
3 eggs, lightly whisked
15ml (1 tablespoons) apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Combine the polenta, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Place the can of coconut milk in a small heatproof bowl and cover with hot water from the tap for a couple of minutes (this will not be necessary if you live in a hot country!).
- Pour the coconut milk and vinegar into the beaten eggs in a thin stream, constantly whisking.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking as you do so.
- Heat some coconut oil in a cast iron skillet(s) or other pan with a heavy base on the hob until hot (but not smoking). Or if you are using a small roasting tin / baking sheet with a heavy bottom, heat it in the oven with the oil.
- Scrape the cornbread mixture into the hot pan(s) and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until browned on top and the centre springs back when lightly pressed.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out and serving hot. (You could also re-heat the bread in a medium hot oven the next day.)
- For a savoury version, add caramelised onions, corn kernels (about 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen), chilli flakes and chopped coriander to the batter before baking and scatter some sliced spring onions on top. For a sweet version add a punnet of blueberries and vanilla powder to the batter, then sprinkle some brown sugar on top before baking.
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.
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
- Pour the oil and lemon juice in a blender, then add the other ingredients on top.
- 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.
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 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the rest of the salad ingredients, toss with the dressing and serve immediately.