Thursday, 21 June 2012

Fresh as a Cucumber with Mint!

Over the weekend I took part in an inspiring workshop on Raw Food with Saskia Fraser, where she shared the health benefits for those who follow the ways of Raw. We were given the most delicious selection of raw treats, I enjoyed the hazelnut chocolate mousse in particular, YUM! 

Raw to me means eating FRESH ingredients that have not been heated above 115 degrees, to conserve nutritional value, thus enjoying  the optimum goodness in a very healthy way. 

However, as a cook, who loves to cook, I enjoy the smells and textures heat gives to food, the simmering warmth and gentleness of slow cooking in the warming hub of the home. The wafting fragrance of herbs and the happy hum of the general clickety clack of a working kitchen brings joy. 

I’m not sure where my interest with this very inspiring way of eating will take me? You will no doubt, if you choose to, read about it here. Balance is my mantra and I believe strongly that including raw meals in our diet is definitely worth while and beneficial for good general health. Why raw you may wonder?

"Because from thirty to eighty-five percent of the nutrition in foods is destroyed in cooking. That is an average fifty percent loss! Fresh, raw foods contain the highest level of enzymes. Enzymes are the catalyst for the hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions that occur throughout the body. Cooked foods and dry convenient diets have been denatured and are devoid of enzymes - life-promoting elements. While they may maintain life they do not promote optimum health or longevity!" (Alicia McWatters, Ph.D., C.N.C.)

I've shared a few raw recipes, one of my favourite tipples, Almond Milk, my Summer no bake cake and a delicious dip Hummus. So raw has definitely got a place at my table. I hope it finds a place at yours too.

I first fell in love with cooking as a young child, I used to make magical potions, or so I thought, to my Mums great annoyance, mixing Channel No.5 with flour and vanilla, then an egg cracked in for good measure, didn’t  get the response I’d expected. Ooops!

I love sharing my recipes with you, beautiful YOU!!! It is summer and maybe not a scorcher, YET! In fact it's clouds mixed in with rain today. Despite the weather not playing ball, summer is one of the best times to celebrate love. Love for the self, love for health, love for family and friends, love for the world and perhaps most of all, for the gift of life.

The other day I sipped an aromatic drink of cucumber with a spice laced sparkling fandango...

I thought, “Eureka.” With a drop of self acceptance and the realisation that life is the purest of gifts, this resonated...

My heart danced a lighter beat. Now I’m not sure if this is down to the tonic, for indeed that’s what it felt like, or simply that a very positive change is bringing immediate relief, or that light, in the daylight sense, worked some magic in the corners of my mind?

Perhaps it's really quite simple. Water feels good!

Either way, I wanted to share this with you. OK, so there is no cooking involved, and it’s not a raw recipe either. However, if your thirst needs quenching, and you have guests whose idea of Pimms is Pete Tong, then pour a splash of this into chilled glasses and drink to life, to love and to welcoming all things good.

Lots of love and freshness,


Zing in a Glass

Sparkling water, 1 large botttle, chilled
Lemon, 1
Cucumber, 1/2 cut in thin strips length ways
Vanilla extract, 2 tsp
Almond extract, 2 tsp,
Sweet Freedom, 1 tbsp
Ice cubes, a handful
Mint leaves, 1 handful

PEEL the zest of a lemon and add it to a jug.
CUT in half and squeeze juice into jug, mind the pips.
ADD cucumber strips, vanilla extract, almond extract, sweet freedom, mint leaves and ice cubes.
POUR in sparkling water.
GIVE it a good stir.
SIP slowly and refresh.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Buttercup Moments

Have you ever held a buttercup flower under your chin, to see if you like butter? 

It’s something I loved doing as a child. The recipe I’m sharing today is one of my families favourites too. Who says one needs buttercups to persuade children that they like butternut squash and butter too!?! 

Butternut squash has a naturally sweet and nutty taste that works well in both sweet and savoury dishes. This hourglass like shaped fruit is full of folate and potassium, making it a pregnant ladies food of dreams. As the weathers cooler, why not try making this warming joy that sumptuously satisfies, while also giving a simple and healthy hug   to your taste buds and appetite.
I go heavy on the garlic in this recipe as it gives a deep and robust flavour to the mix, though temper the amount to suit you. Simply cut off the woody base, which then makes it easier to squeeze the gorgeous roasted pulp out.  This soup is a slow simmering wonder, the flavours work magic all by themselves and as with the best cooking, the ingredients make the biggest impact.

The weather and feelings have much in common, similar in some ways to our appetites and time. There are loose connections with all relationships and certainly our most powerful and fundamental one, is that with our dear selves.

I'm at a cross roads and I know which direction to take.

Before lines have appeared blurred, instincts ignored! Now thanks to time, thanks to love and most of all acceptance, I'm taking a buttercup leap of faith into purple pastures. 

It's no secret that a peaceful perspective preludes a positive path, tread gently and hold on to your dreams and then let them go! Give them a chance to change and grow!

I wonder sometimes, am I doing the right thing in terms of career path? When I feel like this, I let the thought sail on, my sons smiling faces tell me all and more, the rest will fall into place.

Time is a gentle reminder that life is precious. This soup is for eating with the special people in your life. It is a joy to make and will scent your home with an inviting smell that brings love and joy into your happy space.

Love to you and yours.


Butternut Squash and Rosemary Soup

Butternut squash, 1 weighing about 1 kg
Olive oil, 2 tbsp
Garlic, 1 bulb I said this soup was heavy on the garlic!
Rosemary, 2 sprigs
Maldon salt, a generous pinch
Freshly ground black pepper, 12 turns
Hot chicken stock/ or vegetable, 2 litres
Crème fraiche, 3 tbsp

PRE-HEAT oven to gas 6, 200’C.
CUT butternut squash into large chunks.
REMOVE seeds with a spoon.
PLACE on a baking tray and scatter over garlic gloves and rosemary.
DRIZZLE with oil and season.
COVER with foil and bake for 1 hour and fifteen minutes.
ALLOW squash to cool for around ten minutes.
REMOVE flesh using a large spoon and place in blender.
SQUEEZE out garlic pulp into blender, I love this bit!
POUR stock in blender and then add rosemary leaves and crème fraiche.
BLEND until smooth.
TASTE and check for seasoning, adjust if necessary.
LADLE soup into warmed bowls, spoon on a teaspoon of crème fraiche and swirl, for a sunshine saunter that doesn’t rely on the weather!