Pink hummus & Chickpea flatbread

It’s root vegetable season!  And although, I am curious to know what squash or parsnip hummus would taste like - I am sticking to beetroot.   Pink is Mae’s favourite colour and I know pink hummus will look more tempting and appealing then beige parsnip. Traditionally, hummus is a chickpea and tahini mix with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.  However, it can be treated more like a base and will take on the flavour of any vegetable or spice you add.  Avocados, peppers, other beans, basil, jalapenos all work too.

Beetroot hummus has a slight earthy, rich flavour, and the addition of horseradish gives it a light and spicy note. It’s a harmonious partnership.

This is going to be a protein punch, as I am also making a chickpea flatbread, a great alternative to standard wheat bread. Chickpea flour is hugely more nutritious and less stressful for our digestion than grain breads, and it’s super delicious.

Make the flatbread batter a couple hours in advance or the night before, as it needs to rest.

For the chickpea flatbread:
1 cup of chickpea flour (also called gram flour)
250ml water
3 TBSP of coconut oil or butter melted
1 TBSP of chopped rosemary
pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together. Gram flour tends to clump together, so make sure the mixture is completely smooth. Leave to stand for couple hours or during night in the fridge.

Put 2 TBSP of coconut oil in an oven dish (I am using an iron skillet) and melt in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until sizzling hot. This will ensure that the mixture will not stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour the flatbread mixture out in the hot pan, not too thick, just so it covers the bottom. Bake for about 10 minutes on very high or 230c degrees. I turned it upside down halfway through baking which ensured both sides were crispy.

For the beetroot hummus:
500g chickpeas
1 medium beetroot (cooked)
Juice of 1 lemon
80ml olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 TBSP cumin
2 TBSP tahini
4 TBSP water
pinch of salt
1 TSP of horseradish (I used jarred horseradish with cider vinegar, freshly grated would be even better)

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Garnish with olive oil and coriander.


Pear Frangipane

Pear season in the UK starts in September and lasts through December. Fragrant, juicy, sweet, melting pears are my favourite autumn pick. I grate them into drop pancakes, use them in smoothies with spinach and nut milk, poach them, etc.  I love them.

In the UK pears are one of the most sprayed fruit, apparently about 23 times.  Try to get them organic, if possible.  All those pesticides can't be good for our bodies.

For this recipe I am using Red Williams which is a native to this country, but any pear variety will work for the frangipane.

I really like coconut sugar and I think it's a good healthy alternative to cane sugar. However, it can be quite expensive.  You could also use maple syrup or fruit extract.

For the pastry:
100g butter (or coconut oil)
200g  gluten free flour
1tsp of chia seeds
5 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of coconut sugar (or maple syrup)

for the filling
100g coconut sugar
4tbsp maple syrup
130g ground almonds
125g butter (or coconut oil)
2 eggs
1tbsp of gluten free flour

for the pear topping
4 pears sliced
200ml water
50g coconut sugar
2 tsp maple syrup
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod

Put all the pastry ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Wrap in a film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat up the water with coconut sugar, maple syrup, cloves, cinnamon stick and seeds from the vanilla pod. Bring to boiling point, remove from heat and allow to cool down slightly.

Peel the pears, cut in half and scoop out the middle with a teaspoon. Cut them into 2mm thick slices, spread out in a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes.

Make a filling by mixing eggs, sugar and butter together until creamy. Add ground almonds and flour and mix altogether.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

Take the pastry out of the fridge. As this is a gluten free pastry it will not stretch like a gluten one. What I do is to put it between two sheets of cling film and roll with a rolling pin until it's all stretched out and about 3mm thick. Grease your dish,  lay the pastry on top and gently press it inside the dish. It doesn’t matter if some bits break, simply patch them back together.  Now move the rolling pin over the edges of the dish so that all the excess pastry is removed and the base edge looks neat.

Pour the filling into the base and arrange the pears over the top – you don’t need to pat dry them, simply pull out of their marinade and arrange in any shape you like. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 50 minutes.


Juices & Smoothies

Guest blog by Nicola Corcoran, from Growing Through Cancer blog

It's my favourite season for fresh, locally sourced fruit and vegetables.
Beetroots, carrots, apples, pears and berries make for wonderful variations on
juices and smoothies.

I'm so lucky to have apple and pear trees in my garden, and this year they've both
produced bumper crops. Energetically, there's something very special about eating
fruit straight from the tree, and I've been doing plenty of that, but what to do with
the surplus? As well as making apple cider vinegar, and fruit leather, juicing is
the obvious choice. Green apples make an amazing base for fruit and vegetable juices,
and for smoothies. Apples contain relatively little sugar, and take the same amount
of time as vegetables to digest, so unlike other fruits, they don't create bloating or
gas when combined with veggies.

Juices are a wonderful enzyme-rich way of nutrifying the body. They're quickly
and easily absorbed because juicing removes all fibre, yet you're getting the full
raw potential of each fruit and vegetable, and in a volume that you couldn't possibly
squeeze in daily. For this reason be careful not to juice purely fruits. Tropical fruits
are best avoided entirely, or used as a rare treat due to their high sugar content.
There's no need to peel or  core fruit or veg if it'sorganic (even lemons!) as many
of the vitamins minerals  and anti-oxidantsare found in and just below the skin.
When buying a juicer, ideally look for a single augur or twin gear masticating juicer,
which yields more juice of abetter quality than a centrifugal juicer. Try to make your
juice as and when you need it, as it quickly loses potency  if kept in the fridge.
My current favourite recipe is apple, beetroot, lime and kale. Carrot, apple and
ginger is a great immune system booster. And for the ultimate alkalising juice,
combine apple, kale, cucumber, celery, lemon. 

Smoothies are a great way of combining protein, fibre and plant nutrients and are
more slowly absorbed due to their fibre content. Starting with a liquid base of
water, apple juice, coconut water or nut milk (hazelnut adds something sublime)
simply add one soft fruit (banana, pear or the occasional mango), a handful of
greens (baby spinach, kale, lettuce) and blend. A smoothie can be as simple
as you like, or you can add super-foods, like chlorella, bee pollen, chia or
rice/hemp protein. If you have a high speed blender, it's not necessary to peel
organic fruit.

Berries are coming to an end, but you can still scavenge enough from the local
hedgerows to turn your smoothies pink or purple. Berries are easy to freeze
for the months ahead. Simply wash (use a natural disinfectant like Citricidal
if your berries are picked from a farm which sprays with pesticides),
spread out onto trays, freeze, and bag up for your winter smoothies.
Avoid adding berries to your green smoothies - the resulting brown colour
can be a little off-putting!

Experiment with your juices and smoothies. Aim for no more than one
8 oz juice per hour, and try to avoid drinking water within 20 minutes
of having a juice to increase it's enzyme giving potential. 

Here's a brief breakdown of some great fruits and veggies to use in your
juices and smoothies, and why they are beneficial.

Apple - contains quercetin, an anti-inflammatory, and malic acid, an immune
system booster.

Ginger - a natural expectorant and anti-inflammatory.

Kale - potassium rich, full of vitamins A, C and K and high in

Pear - makes a great base for smoothies, cutting through and masking the
more bitter greens like kale. The skins of pears also contain quercetin.

Broccoli - like kale, it's a member of the powerful brassica family.
Broccoli, like other dark green leafy vegetables, is rich in chlorophyll, a
substance which closely resembles our blood and so is a great blood
cleanser. It is full of calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A and C, and has
cancer fighting properties. Great to add to your green juice.

Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries - powerful antioxidant sources
high in vitamin C

Beetroot - is another super food. It is a powerful liver cleanser, and can
lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It's high in vitamin C and is
great for asthma sufferers.

Lemons and limes - great for the digestion and kidneys. The skins contain
cancer fighting antioxidants.

Celery - rehydrating and alkalising, potassium rich and a great source of
minerals and B vitamins. 

Cucumber - cleansing and anti-inflammatory, they contain plant lignans which
have a health giving anti- oestrogenic effect. Use the skins too!

Mint and basil - anti bacterial and add a nice kick to a green juice.

Nicola Corcoran,


Hazelnut buns

Any gluten free fans out there know how challenging it can be to make a good loaf of gluten free bread. Trying to create ‘real’ bread experience with gluten free flour is hard due to the lack of gluten itself  - which gives dough stretchy assets and the bread elasticity. Buying a supermarket gluten free bread can be an equally disappointing experience. Apart from it not tasting very nice, supermarket gluten free breads are loaded with preservatives (calcium propanoate), sugar, vegetable fats, stabilisers (in the form of toxic hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose) and various starches. 

I have been experimenting with making various gluten free breads for some time now, and whilst they definitely taste better than supermarket ones, their shelf life is not so good.  

Which is why I am so excited about my hazelnut rolls. They have real bread texture, can last 2-3 days without going dry (even though mine never lasted longer than an hour). And they are super easy to make.

They are soft in the middle and have a real nice crust. I eat them for breakfast with butter and jam, and Mae likes them plain. They can also be eaten as baps for burgers, sausages, spreads, salads and so on.

I use gluten free self raising flour, which consists of rice, potato, tapioca, buckwheat flour, xanthan gum and bicarb. If you don’t have date syrup you can boil dates in water, blend and use instead. Initially, I made these without chia seeds, and that is fine too, but chia seeds (apart from being a superfood) release a gel like substance which acts like a binding agent helping the buns to stay intact and soft.

(makes six buns)

110g gluten free self raising flour
100g ground hazelnuts
1 TSP baking powder
1 TBSP chia seeds
1 TBSP date syrup
100ml warm water

Grind the hazelnuts  - I use a coffee grinder but blender will do too. Mix with gluten free flour, baking powder, chia seeds and date syrup. Add the water and mix with your hands. The consistency should be a bit lighter than of bread and a bit thicker than of a cake mix. Make small rolls and put on a baking tray, I grease mine with coconut oil so that they don’t stick. Sprinkle with flour and bake for 25mins on 160 degrees C.


Sweet potato chips & Thyme mayonnaise

Sweet potatoes are considered to be a healthier potato option. In comparison to its white cousin, sweet potato has a higher mineral value – in fact one serving of sweet potato offers a daily dose of vitamin A, a mineral important for growth and immune system. It is, also, higher in vitamin C, a good source of Vitamin D, Magnesium and B6.

The flavour of sweet potato chips is so much richer than the white one and they are harder to make because they go very soft with high temperatures.  The trick is to coat them with something that will give them crispiness. They are still very different in texture and taste, but personally I much prefer these- and not only because they are better for my body.

Firstly, cut the potato into chip strips. Don’t make them too thick as they will go soft. Then mix some polenta flour with a tablespoon of sesame seeds and chia seeds.
Rub the chips with coconut oil and roll into the polenta mix. Lay the chips on the baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes at 180 degrees, increasing it to 200 in the last 5 minutes of baking.

For the mayonnaise, beat two room temperature egg yolks for a couple minutes, or until they are stiff and creamy. Add mustard and salt and mix for another minute.  Then add a TBSP of olive oil very slowly and gradually, whilst continuing to mix. Finally, add some finely chopped thyme, a teaspoon of cider vinegar and continue to mix for another 30 seconds.


Apple Cinnamon Cake

The combination of apples and cinnamon, winter's favourite smell of comfort, has been very popular in our house (and our friends houses) this winter. I have made this cake a lot.  Every time I made a small tweak, in the way the apples are cut, mixing different types of sweeteners and flavours.  And it was delicious and irresistible every time.

It's the perfect cake for afternoon kiddie play dates.

If you don't have gluten free self-raising flour, you can use rice flour mixed with 2 TBSP of baking powder.

For the Apple filling:
5 medium apples
75g of butter (or coconut oil)
2 TBSP of cinnamon

For the cake:
100g ground almonds
200g self-raising gluten free flour
100g coconut sugar
100g butter (or coconut oil)
1 vanilla bean (or 2 TBSP of vanilla essence)
3 eggs separated
200ml nut milk (coconut, almond, rice or whichever you have)
100g almond flakes (for the topping)

Peel and grate the apples. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the apples and cinnamon. Sweat on a low temperature for 10 minutes, until the apples are soft and have taken on the brownish cinnamon colour. Leave to cool whilst you prepare your cake mixture.

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and mix with nut milk.
In another bowl, mix egg yolk, sugar, butter and vanilla until creamy and smooth.
Now combine the two mixtures.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and and add,  folding in carefully to preserve the air.

Grease the bottom and sides of a spring pan (mine is 9") with butter or coconut oil. Add half of the cake mixture, then carefully spoon out the apple filling over it. Don't go too close to the edge - your cake will look better (no other reason). Pour out the second half of the cake mixture and sprinkle with almond flakes.

Cook in the preheated oven at 170 degrees for 45-55 minutes.


Chicken and Kale soup

In my previous posts I wrote about the benefits of bone broths in winter months, specifically, its role in maintaining a healthy immune system and keeping the body warm. It seems that many of us are feeling under the weather this month. So what a better way to start the year than with a warm and nourishing chicken soup full of goodness.

Now is the season of kale. This great vegetable is packed with Iron, vitamins A, C and K. It is also a great source of antioxidants – caretonoids and flavonoids which are so important to our body’s defence against disease.

We have been making variations on this soup throughout these gray damp months, using parsnips, and any root veg around.  It's cheap and tastes good.
This week we added a star anise to the stock and, as well as the usual two carcasses, we threw in four chicken wings. The cartilage in the wings melts down giving the broth a great rich flavour and velvety texture.  The star anise gives a nice aniseed flavour and freshness.

1.5 litre Chicken stock (see bone broth recipe)
1 large or 2 small carrots
2 celery sticks
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 Star anise

Prepare the stock and meat by bringing the water covered carcasses and wings to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes, remove carcasses and wings, allow to cool (about 10 minutes).  Stripe the meat from the bones.  Return the bones to the pot and simmer for a good two hours.
After the stock is prepared you are ready to go.

Coarsely chop all the vegetables, garlic and chicken.  Melt a little butter in a large deep pot, add the onions, carrots, garlic and celery and sweat for 10 minutes.  Then finally add the kale.  Cover and cook for five minutes.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetable are soft. Remove about 3 ladles of vegetables and liquid and blend. Return to the pot and then mix in the chopped chicken bits.  yum!  


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