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Archive for the ‘Makings and Shakings’ Category

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This delicious pumpkin is in season here at the moment and is sold in chunks, by weight at stalls and markets.
It is so sweet and you can steam it in chunks, add it to stews, bake it or when you cook it right down, it melts so as to make a thick, bright yellow sauce.
I love to add it to curries and so today, for lunch, I made a sort of mix and match dish from the bits and pieces in the fridge and around.

400g chickpeas soaked overnight
1 potato chopped into chunks
400g Gabocha pumpkin (or any sweet squash) sliced
Spinach or spring greens
Chunks of Aubergine
6 large cloves of garlic unpeeled
2 sticks of lemongrass
2 green chillies whole
3 small red chillies whole
Teaspoon of peppercorns
Teaspoon of cumin
Chopped coriander
2cm galangal or ginger
Water to cover ingredients (2 coconuts’ water)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Using a slow cooker, or a large crock pot, place the chickpeas in the bottom and cover with water.
2. On top of those throw in the garlic, lemongrass, lime leaves, chillies, peppercorns, coriander and galangal.
3. Place a layer of spinach or spring greens
4. Place a layer of pumpkin/squash and sprinkle with the cumin
5. Add the aubergine and potato, then pour in more water just enough to cover everything. Do not stir. Just pop a lid on, bring to the boil and the turn down to a simmer.
6. After half an hour, stir three times only. Continue to simmer for up to an hour, or until the squash has broken down.
7. Serve as a warming stew.

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Be aware that this is a properly sweet dish. To add more sweetness, if that is something you like, add sultanas and even two bananas about 15 minutes before serving.

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I just had to tell you about how much I love green veg. I always have! I adore spinach, broccoli, kale and more. I really feel them giving nutrition to my body and they give me a boost!

Now I don’t eat dairy, I’m sure a lot of people wonder where I get my calcium from.

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And this is where. I love that plants give us great quantities of our vitamins and minerals and that we don’t have to rely on using animals.

Today on our trip to the market, Bear picked out some wonderful Lemon Basil, so I thought I’d whip up a quick flavoursome salad for us to munch on.

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A Handful of Herbs Salad
Dressing
Galangal chopped into matchsticks (3cm)
Garlic sliced thinly (2)
Flaxseed oil (3tbs)
Lemon juice (1)
Young peppercorns (10)
Green chilli chopped thinly
Pink Himalayan salt (hefty pinch)
…Combine and leave to mix whilst preparing salad

Salad
Coriander (handful)
Lemon Basil (handful)
Assorted Asian greens (I used Pak Choy, Gai Lan and Choy sum)
Spring onion (handful)
Broccoli (one head)
Baby sweet corn (4)
Cherry tomatos chopped (handful)
…Combine and pour dressing over. Eat immediately or leave to absorb dressing in fridge!

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It’s a zingy salad, that you can adapt according to your own tastes. You could replace the herbs with your favourites, swap galangal for ginger, add more vegetables of your choice, maybe celery or cucumber and a sprinkling of seeds or sprouts would give you that added crunch!

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During the day, we like to eat as much fruit and raw food as possible, with the occasional cooked dish in the evenings. We love curries, salads and soups and we really enjoy sampling the local foods. We have been to a few restaurants here on Koh Lanta and have tried some of the more common curries. Green, Red, Yellow and Masamam. They all have a similar base of herbs and spices, they just have slight differences that give them their signature colour or sweetness. The Green curry has green chillies and plenty of coriander, the red sometimes up to 30 red chillies, the yellow has a splash of turmeric and the Masamam pineapple, cashew nuts and potato.

This week, I’ve been experimenting with the Green. First, I tried to make it by taste, guessing which ingredients gave it flavour, but today we went to a local herb garden, in the forest, where the owner gave me a guided tour of his herbs and told me of their herbal, medicinal and culinary properties and which were good in curries and other dishes. I was in my element and really enjoyed it. So much so, that we will go back and take pictures to post sometime this week to show you. It was such a peaceful place.

Back to tonight’s curry. We came upon the market on our way for a swim this afternoon, so I picked up some vegetables and some herbs.

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Including these little Thai Aubergines 🙂 yum

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I’m not very good at ingredients lists as I’m just experimenting and guessing by eye, but what you see here is enough to make a curry for two people two meals, or four at one meal.

Ingredients

Green curry paste
Handful of Fresh coriander chopped
A few aniseed leaves torn
A few kefir lime leaves (mine were dried)
3 pieces of crushed/dried lemongrass
4 cloves garlic chopped
2 -5 green chillis chopped with seeds (I added 3 and it was medium spicy)
Ginger chopped
I don’t have a food processor here, so I chopped all the above ingredients finely.

Vegetables (which you can change to your tastes)
Onion(I think onions are a must)
Squash
Sweet potato
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Carrots
Water and flesh from 2-4 coconuts (1 coconut = 3/4 pt of water/stock)
Coconut milk (depending on how creamy you would like it)
Salt and pepper to taste
Soy sauce

I used coconuts, because they are growing everywhere here and are nicer than bottled water, but I know in UK coconut water in cartons is pretty expensive. If you want the sweetness that this water brings, I would buy some, but it isn’t essential.

Fry the ‘paste’ and add the onions, fry for about 10 minutes in a deep pan. Add the rest of your vegetables chopped into bite sized pieces, then add the water. It is often served as a soup here, which calls for more liquid, but it’s up to you.

I also added rice noodles for the last ten minutes, but you could cook these separately or serve your curry with steamed rice.

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Well I’m back. I’ve given up everything. That is, I’ve let as many possessions go as possible to live a simpler life. I have my health and I have my beautiful son and my partner. I am alive and I can live however I wish.

I’ve forever been a slave to all of the distractions in the world. The TV, the sugar, the news, the marketing ploys, the social pressures, the cultural expectations, money…I’m sure you could add to this list. Or perhaps you can live with the things I see as distractions. Who is right and who is wrong? Who knows anymore? I’m just going to show people my journey and share with whoever needs or wants to know.

Food is my big passion, well it comes a close second to being a mother. In fact, the two really go hand in hand for me now, because my son deserves the most natural, toxic free life I can give him and I’ve seen the effect my diet and lifestyle have had on my health and my mindset.

I lost track again. In the months leading up to my pregnancy, I was at my best. I was happy, I was very healthy, I ate so well and it became a way of life for me. Somehow, we let it slip. I went from eating beautiful fresh, raw and vegan food, to giving in to my old habits and cravings. I even ate non vegan food because it was there. I gave up my principles to ease and something I thought was comfort. It wasn’t comfort though. Every time I ate pizza, a sandwich, a bar of cadburys, some smelly cheese, cake, my body would react with bloating, discomfort, lethargy and my mind would be punishing itself due to some base guilt factor that I’d picked up along the way. I did all this, even though I knew for a fact that I could make raw healthy alternatives. I knew for a fact that eating fruit instead of a cake would overall make me feel and think better.

I guess I just used pregnancy as an excuse to myself, when really I should have been more conscientious and mindful in what I put into my body, so I could be 100% healthy for my baby. But also I’ve learned, through all this, that I cannot keep beating myself up about it all either. I’m ok. I’m still here. I just need to remember how much better that life choice is for me, because without it, I’m an anxious mess. I cannot focus on the positives and I constantly self judge.

ANYWAY! Enough rambling. We’ve come to a place where fruit and veg are more accessible in a more natural and less commercial way. It’s a leap of faith, to an extreme, to kick start us back to scratch. To live a simple life.

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A perfect example of nature providing what is needed. In a hot climate, coconuts grow in abundance. The most perfect filter system, just there to quench a thirst.

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Today’s food. Bananas, pineapples and watermelon are in season here, so we’ve been adding these to our breakfast smoothies, with fresh ginger, basil and other delights.

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This is the beginning. We are off out to see what vegetables and fruit we can find and I will start posting our meals, to show you how we spend our days.

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A raw diet is all very well, I hear you say, in the summer, when juicy fruit smoothies quench our thirst and crisp cold salads cool us down – But what about in those chilly winter months.

I do see where you are coming from, in fact I am a soup lover in general, especially in the autumn and winter.  I love parsnip soup, butternut squash, any kind really and I love summer soups too, fresh pea and a sweetcorn chowder.  I’m not going to be too hard on myself.  I think that in my life, there is still room for hot soup, although if you want to stick to the raw, soups can be made below that 40 degrees celsius.

Those advocating raw believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost much of their nutritional value and are less healthful or even harmful to the body.  The arguement is that raw or living foods have natural enzymes, which are critical in building proteins and rebuilding the body, and that heating these foods destroys the natural enzymes and can leave toxins behind.  Of course there are two sides to every story.  So I’m going to eat soup cooked to a heat above that if I ever fancy it, but I’m sure going to try out some raw soup too, because there are some fab recipes out there that look delicious.

Now, enough of the gumpf (my ‘word’ of the week) and onto a little recipe of my own.  A way to fit a big salad into your wintery day, with added spicy kicks from fresh chilli, peppery radish, warming mustard and winter nutmeg.

I’m also a firm believer in colour being a real addition to the mood you are in when eating, so when I found some beautiful ‘candy stripe’ and ‘Golden Yellow’ beetroot, I was inspired to make a rainbow salad.  I tried to think of the spices and ingredients to compliment each other and of course the nutritional goodness in them.  Beetroot is sooo good for you, a great source of Folic acid and a real help with your liver, blood pressure and some heart issues.  I love its earthy taste and I was surprised at how different the two taste.  The Candy stripe is mild, with a radish like taste and the golden more earthy like its dark pink counterpart.  Both really tasty raw and not so messy to prepare =D  I also sneaked in my new favourite fruit, the persimmon, which is very high in Vitamin C, Iron and has calcium too.

Ingredients

Dressing:

1 tsp English Mustard (or your favourite kind of mustard)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp Nutmeg (freshly grated is more warming but ground is fine)

1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika

1/2-1 Chilli (depending on your preference)

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tsp agave syrup/raw honey

salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

2 beetroot thinly sliced and chopped (I used candy stripe and golden)

6-8 radish thinly sliced

Cherry tomatoes

1 small radicchio lettuce

1 bunch of watercress

2 persimmon finely chopped

1 pomegranate

1 tablespoon of goji berries (These are a superfruit, with high antioxidant properties, but you could use any dried fruit)

6 crushed almonds (leave these out or replace with another nut, I added mainly for protein and texture)

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 1. Grate the nutmeg, juice the lime and chop the chilli, mixing these with all your other dressing ingredients, mustard, mustard seeds, paprika, agave syrup/honey and olive oil

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2.  Chop your lettuce and watercress to make a peppery base for your salad.  Add very thinly sliced sweet onion for added depth of flavour.

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3. Chop and add the radish and the remaining ingredients, stirring after every addition.

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4.  Remove the peel of the persimmon and chop into cubes to add little bursts of sweetness, chop the pomegranate in half and squeeze the seeds into your salad, letting the juice in aswell, more sweetness to compliment your spice.

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5.  Slice and chop your beautiful beetroot before stirring thoroughly and adding your dressing.  Make sure you cover as much of the ingredients as possible.

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6.  Serve a good helping of the salad and sprinkle on the goji berries and nuts at the last-minute.

Enjoy =D

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Watch this space for some yummy winter soups and decadent desserts =)

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collard wraps

Today we rock!

Aside from my blog, and my day job as a Food Technology technician in a school, a friend and I have started on a new venture. We mean to provide a gaming and food service for people who regularly get together to play board games and generally eat a lot of junk food along with it. That’s where we come in. A new twist on fast food snacks, served to you and your gaming friends.

Well what an exciting day for Dicing on the Cake yesterday. A good friend of mine approached me to take some photos of my cakes, so, I thought I would take the chance to throw a mini get together to combine Dicing and Cakes! As you will see, the work produced is beautiful and exactly what we wanted to show our supporters.

I speed texted several pals who I knew would be up for a few games and munchies, and then got the work on the menu! It all starts as little sparks of electricity in my brain, which is quite luckily; pretty good at visualising the food I’d like to serve. Then I write a list of goodies, list of making order, and then finally comes the list of shopping. I’ve been exploring all types of food over the years and so for this occasion I wanted to make bright, colourful and Summery dishes that would be easy to snack on in-between gaming. See what you think…

Chocolate CakeLemon and Poppyseed drizzle cake
Vanilla and Rosemay cupcakesMini Blueberry pancakes

Double Chocolate Cake with rich butter frosting , Lemon and Poppy seed drizzle cake, Vanilla and Rosemary cupcakes were the sweet treats I made, along with mini blueberry pancakes dusted with cinnamon and drizzled with maple syrup.

For the Savouries, I prepared Crunchy Gem Lettuce leaves topped with a generous helping of sweet lentil chilli and guacamole, Collard Wraps with hummus and falafel, Tortilla wraps bursting with spicy ‘Bean to Mexico’, pesto potato bites, sweet potato chips and various mini pizza toasts.

lettuce chillilettuce chilli
Collard wraps with Hummus and falafelBean to Mexica

To my delight everyone enjoyed the samples I made and even better still helped themselves to more as the day went on. We even prepared a couple of fresh fruit smoothies and my favourite, Beetroot, Carrot and juice with a hint of ginger.

Now that we intend to go mobile, the idea is that you meet with Dicing and I to discuss the kind of service you require. We will draw up a proper list of those services, however until then, you are welcome to contact us here and we will get back to you asap. Think about the kind of food and games you would like to have hand delivered/served/explained at a venue you choose and we will endeavour to provide the best possible ‘Dicing on the Cake’ function that we can.

Find us on facebook href=”http://www.facebook.com/#!/DicingOnTheCake?fref=ts”>
Take a look at my Today we Rock Photoshoot Food

All pictures taken by Neil @ todaywerock href=”http://todaywerock.co.uk/”>

href=”http://www.facebook.com/#!/TodayWeRock?fref=ts” title=”TodayWeRock Photography”>

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finished

The first ‘proper’ raw meal that was prepared for me, a delicious ‘gourmet’ dish to emulate the much-loved traditional dish Spaghetti Bolognaise.  It’s classy look, with those beautiful noodle like tendrils of courgette, was helped along by a spiraliser! Now I thought the good old-fashioned mandoline would be enough and really if you don’t have a spiraliser then any courgette sliced thinly or grated would suffice, but I would say that it holds its form much less and the juice really stays in the vegetable rather than being released and leaving the firm ‘pasta’ like texture.

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So you wash your courgette and chop its ends of, securing it into the machine, which through being turned on a handle makes its way through a series of blades to end in long ingenious lengths.  You can get smaller hand-held tools that will result in the same shape, however I haven’t tried them so can’t advise =)

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So eventually you are left with a gorgeous, colourful pile of delicious, crunchy fresh courgette.  And you are left with a rather odd-looking middle, which I like to eat =)

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Then you add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to this and a couple of pinches of salt (good quality sea salt please people)  Massage these into the courgette until completely covered for about 5 minutes, then leave to the side until you want to serve.  It will release a lot of watery juice which you don’t need.

Now for the sauce =) The original sauce, from a recipe book I got hold of, is the following ingredients mixed in a blender.  But I have also added my own version below too…which is the one pictured at the head of the post.  It really is one of those Eat me dishes!!

Original Pomodoro sauce

5 Medium Tomatoes

1 cup dried tomatoes, soaked

1/2 medium onion or 2 cloves of garlic

2 dates

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp lemon juice/apple cider vinegar

2 tsps dried italian herbs

handful fresh oregano or basil

My own version (which isn’t hugely different tbh I just find raw garlic a bit spicy and I didn’t have any dates)

5 Medium Tomatoes

large handful of spinach

1 cup dried tomatoes, soaked

1/2 or 1 clove of garlic

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp lemon juice/apple cider vinegar

2 tsps dried italian herbs

handful fresh oregano or basil

Other options you could add instead or in addition:

Mushrooms (I would soak wild mushrooms in apple cider vinegar if you plan to eat them raw), Hummus, Pine nuts, Avocado, Peppers, Peas and you can spiralise other veg too – summer squash, coconut meat, carrot, daikon radish, beets, sweet potato, which I will experiment with and let you know…

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