Breakfast Blueberry Smoothie.

This smoothie is an adaptation of the one from Elana’s Pantry – one of my favorite recipe blogs. It is packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, healthy fats and makes a perfect breakfast or post-exercise shake. Soy lecithin is optional, but I always like to add it to my drinks for its brain boosting, cholesterol lowering, and other health properties. You can substitute blueberries for any berry you like. I’ve tried it with raspberries, mixed berries and strawberries and all of them tasted nice. Blueberry is my favorite though. Make sure you buy a good quality frozen berries. My personal favorite is Waitrose’s frozen blueberries because they retain the taste of fresh ones. I have also tried to make it with peanut butter instead of almond and it tasted really good too.

For two tall glasses you will need:

  • a good handful of berries (I never measured the quantity, but it would be roughly 200g)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp/scoop soy lecithin granules (optional)
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Pure coconut water, enough to cover all ingredients in blender. About 200 – 250 ml.

Place all ingredients in the blender, preferably in the order above, otherwise your protein powder and nut butter can stick to the bottom of the blender and won’t process properly. Blend until smooth, poor into glasses – enjoy!

This vegetarian smoothie is wheat and gluten-free and suitable for low fat and low-GI diet.

Ginger And Chestnut Festive Cheesecake.

Chestnuts in various forms have become my favorite ingredient. Who would have thought that a simple nut can be so versatile and bring out wonderful flavours in dishes all year round, not only during Christmas. I particularly like desserts made with chestnuts and this is one definitely my favorite so far – I just keep thinking about it and crave more of it.

This “cheesecake” doesn’t actually have any cheese in it, but made out of chestnut puree and vegan soft cheese, which is mostly tofu, but don’t get alarmed, it tastes wonderful! This is not a vegan cake though, as it requires eggs. The ingredients listed will make for one, quite thin cake. If you want to feed more people and make it thicker (or just want more for yourself – and trust me, you would) – double the amount of cheese and chestnuts and increase the time slightly – you will have to keep an eye on it and check it every 30 minutes or so. Which brings me to another point – this is not a fast cake to make. Preparation doesn’t take long, but steaming it in the oven can take up to 2 hours, depending on the thickness of cake. You will need a roasting tin or other container that will fit your cake form inside, for water bath.

After all the cooking, the cake will come out very rich, creamy and luscious. Ginger and spices complement it nicely and will remind you of Christmas. I find it tastes gorgeous with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of raw cocoa powder. OK, I think I’m going to drool now, so the ingredients are below.

Equipment: a round spring-form tin, blender or food processor, baking parchment, thick aluminium foil and a deep roasting pan for bain-marie.

For crust:

  • 250g ginger oat biscuits. Nairn’s are quite good. If you can’t find oat biscuits, use regular ginger snaps. Both are quite sweet, so no extra sugar required
  • 3 tbsp raw coconut oil, melted if necessary
  • pinch of salt

For cheesecake:

  •  225g vegan or dairy free soft cheese. I always use Tofutti original – it tastes like the real thing
  • 80ml dark agave nectar
  • 2-3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 400g chestnut puree. You can get the Merchant Gourmet one in any supermarket now
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg, ground allspice and salt
  1. Preheat the oven with the rack inside to 180C. Grease the sides and bottom of your cake tin with coconut oil and line with the parchment. Oil the parchment too.
  2. Combine all the crust ingredients in the food processor until it resembles moist and slightly sticky breadcrumbs. Turn them into the cake tin and, using gloves or a cling film around your hands, press it firmly and evenly into the tin. This will be your base.
  3. Bake the base for 10 minutes, then let it cool outside the oven. Once cooled, wrap the outside of the tin with foil to prepare it for bain-marie.
  4.  While the base is cooling, make the filling. Decrease the oven temperature to 160c and boil a kettle of water.
  5. Beat the cream cheese and agave nectar with a mixer or mix it in food processor, then add eggs – one at a time, beating the batter after each egg. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it all until smooth. Blender or food processor would come very handy in this.
  6. Pour the batter into cooled and foil wrapped tin, and place the tin in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiled water, carefully place it in the oven and bake for an hour. The cake should be set, but tremble like jelly after one hour.
  7. Reduce the heat to 120C and let it stand in the oven for another hour or so. Don’t let it burn, so check on it in 30 minutes. If necessary, turn the oven off and let it stand inside for another 30 minutes. Then remove from the oven and let it cool completely.
  8. N0w you can either chill it, covered, for 8 hours or overnight, or remove it carefully from the tin and serve it straight away.

Healthy And Tasty Snack: Munchy Seeds.

Just wanted to mention Munchy Seeds here, because it is so convenient and nice to snack on them. These seed packs are healthy, and actually quite tasty and addicting, because they are flavoured with spices or soy sauce. There is even a sweet variety. This is definitely a great idea, and an excellent way to eat more seeds, because we all know that seeds are healthy. One pack like this is also surprisingly filling, and it doesn’t raise blood sugar level. This means you can just pop it into your bag wherever you go and munch on them if you get hungry. It will prevent you from reaching out for that chocolate bar or a sandwich. I like seeds, but I always found them a bit boring. Well, not anymore. Munchy Seeds are available in most health food stores and some supermarkets.

Kimchi - Korean Superfood.

I just wanted to share my latest food craze – vacuum packed Kimchi. I am well familiar with Korean cuisine, as I was growing up in the far east and I love Korean and Japanese food. However, it was quite difficult to find these foods here in  London when I first moved here. I am very happy to see the Clearspring range of Japanese foods has grown over the past few years and was introduced to most major supermarkets, but Korean foods are still hard to find. However, most good health food stores are now selling this vacuum-packed Kimchi, which is amazing! I know it’s always good to make your own from scratch, but this one does not contain MSG, which is so common in prepacked Asian foods – even miso soups has it! All ingredients there are quite good. It is not vegetarian though, as it contains fermented anchovy sauce and salted shrimp sauce.

Kimchi tastes great and is very healthy. It contains naturally occurring probiotic bacteria, B-vitamins, vitamin C, carotene, Iron, lots of fibre, Glutamine and it is very low in calories and almost zero fat. I’m not going to bore you with the complete nutritional breakdown and you can read more about the history of Kimchi and its health benefits here. I’m just glad that it is widely available in stores now and I would recommend it to anyone. Try it, it’s really tasty. It goes very well with rice, mashed potatoes (mmmm….) or just with a slice of bread. You can also mix it with eggs and add it to soups.

Spelt And Buckwheat Bread.

I have been trying to experiment with a combination of different flours to reduce the amount of gluten intake. So far, I’ve tried 100% brown rice bread, which was not good at all, and a combination of rice and spelt flour made the bread taste nicer, but the texture was a bit too crumbly. Half spelt half buckwheat was nice, but again – a bit too crumbly. So, here is my best result do far: 300g stoneground spelt flour and 200g buckwheat flour. This combination worked perfectly for both taste and texture, so here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 300g stoneground wholegrain spelt flour
  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp low sodium salt (I use pink crystal salt)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 300ml soy milk (mineral water or any other milk should also be fine)
  • 50ml olive oil
  • fennel seeds for sprinkling

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line the baking tray with non-stick baking paper. There’s no need to grease it as bread will be oily.
  2. In a bowl, combine both flours, soda and salt together until well mixed.
  3. Add milk or water and mix well until the dough forms, then gradually pour in the oil. Continue mixing with a wooden spoon or by hand, until the dough is moist and oily, but very pliable. Shape the dough into a smooth ball.
  4. Place the dough ball onto the baking tray and flatten it slightly to form a round shape. Cut a cross pattern or two parallel lines on it with a sharp knife, sprinkle with fennel seeds and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until turns golden and rise slightly.

Shaped and ready to be baked.

Mushroom And Chestnut Omelet.

I absolutely love chestnuts! It is a very versatile ingredient, that I use in both savoury and sweet dishes. Chestnuts are very low in fat, unlike other nuts, but very filling. So this is perfect Autumn breakfast: fast to make, filling and comforting, yet low in fat. For this recipe, I use Merchant Gourmet vacuum packed cooked chestnuts – about half a pack. I prefer to use chestnut mushrooms, because they taste stronger, but champignons are nice too. Mushrooms are full of B  vitamins, low in fat and carbohydrates, but a good source of protein.

Serves 2:

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (I use canola or coconut)
  • 4 Large eggs
  • Few tablespoons of soy milk
  • 100g chestnut mushrooms, peeled, washed and sliced
  • 100g whole cooked vacuum-packed chestnut
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped parsley
  1. Beat the eggs with milk in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Brush the frying pan evenly with cooking oil of your choice, heat it gently and add mushrooms. Cook on high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. Preheat the grill to maximum temperature. Add chestnuts to mushrooms. Crumble them slightly if you wish and scatter them around the pan evenly.
  4. Add the egg mixture, sprinkle parsley over and cook on the high heat until the eggs are set underneath. Then place the pan under a preheated grill for not longer than 5 minutes. Just until the omelet is set, puffed up slightly and turned golden. Don’t forget to wrap the pan’s handle in foil if it’s not heatproof. If you don’t have grill in the oven, you can try and turn the omelet in the pan.
  5. Slice omelet into quarters and serve immediately.

Kingston Market In October.

It was the warmest 1st of October in UK history – over 30C! A perfect day for strolling along the Thames, drinking sangria and eating tapas! And since I was in Kingston, I couldn’t ignore its market place. It is not big, but the location is nice and they always have a wide variety of fruits, veggies, berries and exotic foods. For some reason, I just love the food stalls, especially fruit and vegetable ones – always a very colourful display. So, here’s some pictures from Kingston market.

Green Side Salad.

Wow, I haven’t been updating for a while! I have been very busy with my other blog: http://www.ofhealthandbeauty.co.uk/ so, didn’t have a chance to pop back here. I’m also on my three weeks detox diet, where I eat very simple meals, that are not boring, but not too exciting to post here either. I did make this salad to serve with my fish though, and for a side salad, it was very good. So, here it goes: my healthy green salad, that is low carb, low fat, sugar and salt free, yet tastes good.

Serves 2:

  • 1 cup / 250-300g fresh baby spinach, washed carefully and dried
  • 1 cup /250g fresh rocket, washed and dried
  • 1 handful of fresh blackberries or any other berries you fancy. You can use fruit too, but then the sugar content of this salad will be much higher.
  • 10 cm piece of fresh cucumber, sliced in wedges
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp cold pressed oil of your choice. I used Pistachio oil, which is nutty. Extra virgin olive oil, flax oil or walnut oil would be good here.
  • 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • juice or half lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Start by making dressing. Combine all the ingredients in a small jug and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. arrange green leaves on two plates and top it up with vegetables.
  3. Pour the dressing evenly on top of the salad and scatter berries over. Serve with dinner or your choice. Mine was marinated and steamed plaice fillets.

 

Curry And Peanut Butter Soup.

This has been my favourite soup ever since I’ve tried it, but I couldn’t make a decent picture of it to post here. It is still not perfect, but hey – I can’t keep this recipe to myself any longer. The combination is very unlikely, but it is very addictive and yummy. I guess any fan of satay sauce would love it! Those who are allergic to peanuts or don’t like the taste of peanut butter, can substitute it with almond butter. I’ve tried both and it comes out fantastic, no matter what you use. This soup is very low in fat – in fact I do not use any oil here at all, so the fat you get is only from nut butter, which is not saturated. It is also high in protein and fiber – great for losing weight and building muscle. Spices used here also boost the metabolism. You can skip the curry powder if you like and substitute it with 1 chili pepper, chopped.

Oh, and it’s a vegan soup! All the goodness and no harm done 🙂

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp Bragg liquid aminos or low sodium, gluten free, soy sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1 carrot, cut to circles
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 re bell pepper. diced or sliced, whichever you prefer
  • 1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp low sodium, yeast free, vegetable stock, diluted in 500ml of water
  • 1 x 200g can of chickpeas in water
  • small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sugar and alt free smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • More water if needed.
  1. Gently heat the Bragg aminos or soy sauce in the large pot, then add onion, sweet potatoes, carrot and celery and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if necessary, to prevent sticking.
  2. Add red pepper, curry powder or chili, chopped tomatoes and stock and gently bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft.
  3. Add chickpeas and peanut butter. Stir well until peanut butter is dissolved. At this point, the soup is ready, so check if you would like it more liquid and add more water if nessesary. Don’t forget to adjust the seasoning if you do add water.
  4. Serve hot, with fresh coriander.

 

Pear And Almond Chocolate Tart.

This dairy free dessert has a nice feeling to it, because it smells marzipan, but tastes chocolate, and what you see is pears which are neither almondy, nor chocolaty. I found it very interesting. As usual, I do not use any dairy products or sugar here, and sweeten the cake with Xylitol. Because I ahevn’t been eating any store-bought sweets or dessert for a long time, I find that I prefer not too sweet desserts, so I only add three tablespoons of Xylitol here. If you do have a sweet tooth, add three spoons more.

For the base:

  • 100g spelt flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 70g non-hydrogenated vegetable spread
  • 3 tbsp water or soy milk

For the filing:

  • 400g canned pear halves in juice (sugar free)
  • 60g non-hydrogenated vegetable spread
  • 3 tbsp Xylitol
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp 100% cacao powder
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract (sugar free)

Coconut oil for greasing

  1. Grease 16-18cm tart tin with coconut oil and preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Combine flour and ground almonds together in a bowl, then rub in the vegetable spread until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Add water or milk and mix until the soft dough will form. Make a round out of it, wrap in greaseproof paper (I don’t like using cling film) and freeze for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the dough out of freezer, put in the centre or a tart tin and press with your hands and fingers all over the pastry case until it is equally covers all of the case and it’s sides. This requires a bit of work, because it is difficult to roll out the dough which is partially made of almonds. When all the dough covers your pastry case, pierce it all over with fork, so that it won’t raise while baking.
  5. Remove pears from the tin and drain them. In a blender, or food processor, mix together xylitol, vegetable spread, eggs, ground almonds, cacao powder and almond essence.
  6. Pour the mixture into the pastry case, place the pear halves on top and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Let it cool slightly before serving. This cake goes well with vanilla ice-cream (I use dairy free one).