food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

blood-orange-berry-smoothie // food to glowNature is most surprising. At a time when nothing much is ready to eat in the spring garden (at least here in the UK), some of the brightest, most nutritious fruits are at their peak. Throughout the bleak winter months, with root crops and cold-stored orchard fruits doing their best to sustain us, citrus is one of two bright spots, the other being pomegranates. A bowl of these bold and voluptuous fruits on the coffee table not only cheers, it restores and nourishes too.

blood-oranges // food to glow

blood oranges // food to glow

not much anthocyanin-red left, but still juicy & delicious!

And now, just past the March midpoint, with spring warmth looming tantalisingly close, Spanish imports of oranges are still plentiful and cheap. All eating oranges are pretty special, but the jewels in the citrus crown are sparkling, fragrant blood oranges, with the lustiest specimens coming from their native Italy. Be quick though, they will be gone before you know it. To be honest, the best ones, picked when the winter chill has done the necessary task of producing the characteristic blood-red pigment (cancer-fighting anthocyanins), are perhaps gone as warmer weather lessens the visual and unique nutritional content. But what can still be plucked from shops and savvy markets are still worth buying.

I am buying blood oranges every few days, boxing and coxing between supermarket and small corner shop, playing a happy roulette: will that mottled ruby flesh reveal a crimson, dripping interior or standard – but still beautiful – orange? Other than the arresting colour, it is the surprising overtones – not even hint: actual overtones – of ripe raspberries. Irresistible. Utterly irresistible. Get them while you can. Or, if you are in the US, California provides your blood orange fix from May to November. You lucky so and so’s. ;-)

frozen-blood-orange // food to glow

frozen blood orange – phone snap

Oh, before I give you the recipe I must pass on a little tip I chanced on by accident. For some unknown reason I put a blood orange in the freezer. I found it a couple of days later, peeled it (easy peasy) and breeched the chilled flesh with a tentative bite. Oh. My. Goodness. Instant sorbet! The little vesicles of juice in each segment meld into one another to produce a uniform texture that mimics churned sorbet. Try it for yourself. Move over frozen grapes, there’s a new healthy frozen treat in town! At least for a few more weeks. Gah, I will be sad to see blood oranges go.

Do you love blood oranges too? Have you done anything special with them?

blood-orange-berry-smoothie // food to glow

phone snap

Creamy Blood Orange Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The fruit powder, carrots, hemp seeds and bee pollen are all extras, but well worth adding for a unique taste as well as nutrition boost to this already uber-nutritious breakfast smoothie. It is especially worth noting that the betacarotene in the carrots and the anthocyanins in the berries and blood oranges may help to protect cells even more than these compounds do on their own.

 What I would say is necessary is to use either a frozen banana or frozen berries (or both): adding ice to smoothies is a last-resort kind of thing, imo.

You can freeze this creamy, dreamy drink to make a gorgeous dessert, too. 

1 small banana (frozen if you like)

2 small/1 large carrot, cut into chunks

2 blood oranges

100g/1 heaped cup of (frozen) berries – I used brambles and raspberries I picked last summer near my house

2 tsp bee pollen, optional for vegans

2 tbsp hemp seeds (leave out if you don’t have a powerful blender like my Froothie, or a Vitamix)

2 tsp berry powder, such as raspberry, or something like the fantastic sea buckthorn powder I recently received from Finnberry

4 heaped tbsp kefir or unsweetened live yogurt of choice (here’s a vegan kefir recipe that is great)

400ml/ 1 & 2/3 cups milk of choice (I use almond milk)

sweetener to taste, if needed (I sometimes add a teaspoon of local Scottish heather honey, which seems to have similar properties to manuka honey, although with a caveat. But I just love it for the taste)

1. Peel and cut up the oranges, removing any seeds. Pop everything into a high-powered blender until creamy-smooth. Top with extra hemp seeds and bee pollen if you like. Enjoy!

blood-orange-berry-smoothie // food to glow

Other recipes for blood oranges

Blueberry and Blood Orange Smoothie – recipes from a pantry

Roasted Blood Orange and Asparagus – recipes from a pantry

Brown Sugar Meringues with Grilled Rhubarb and Blood Oranges – how to cook good food

10 Wonderful Ways With Blood Oranges – readers digest

Blood Orange Posset – cook sister {very indulgent!}

Vanilla Rhubarb with Blood Oranges – food to glow

Matcha Yogurt Breakfast Bowl with Blood Oranges – food to glow

Roasted Citrus, Olives, Freekeh and Grilled Romaine – food to glow

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowThis is simply one of the nicest cakes I’ve made – sweet or savory. And it is not just the taste, wonderful though it is.

When I was doodling ideas for this Easter recipe in my little black book I had a feeling that it would be a keeper. The deep, herbaceous freshness of just-picked nettles and wild garlic, backed up with soft, slippery spinach and hidden depths of earthy-but-not-overwhelming porcini: that’s going to be a bit of all right, no matter what. But I wasn’t expecting to fall in love. Not with something so simple and practically free. Okay, the porcini are not free, but the dried ones I used aren’t too budget-stretching. So, free-ish.

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Foraged wild garlic & nettles, picked in Cramond & Barnton, Edinburgh

I should have realised that I would fall in love. As I folded the wilted greens into the loose spelt batter I was pleased I hadn’t done so in my normal manner – with the arm-cramping vigour of a stout Victorian cook. Instead I gently scooped the batter around the greens in a loose figure of eight, trying to incorporate enough air to ensure good lift, and noticed it had marbled beautifully. It seemed perfect in its bumpy, swirling imperfection. And if a cake looks pretty in its infancy, before it’s had a chance to brown and beautify and actually become a cake, well that’s a good omen, isn’t it? I popped this painterly melange into the oven and went about my domestic duties. While it was in the oven I nipped upstairs to grab a pile of clothes to wash, and was stopped in my tracks at the top of the landing. The smell. The deepest waft of umami. And it was coming from my kitchen.savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

It will be coming from my kitchen at Easter, too. We will be having this savoury, foraged cake with these carrots, possibly some asparagus, and definitely this creamed kale (yes, I know, quite a few greens). Oh, and some spring onion gravy. I’ll post that in a couple of days. It deserves its own post, I think. Savory vegetable cakes deserve delicious gravy. And so do you.

Below the recipe I give links to other vegetable cakes suitable for the Easter table, or for any time you fancy eating cake for dinner. :-)

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

Savory Spinach, Wild Garlic, Nettle & Porcini Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Print

This is an easy and pretty flexible recipe. No nettles? Use all spinach. No wild garlic? Just use one small clove of bulb garlic. And of course use any deeply flavoured mushroom rather than porcini – but if you do you will miss out on the deep umami notes that porcini brings to this. Oh, I’ve given options for adding cheese, as well as olives, sun-dried tomatoes or walnuts, too. Like I said, flexible. Vegans, use your normal egg replacer and you’ll be just fine.

150g (5 oz) self-raising whole-grain (spelt) or wholemeal flour (I use Doves)*

150g (5 oz) self-raising white (spelt) flour*

½ tsp baking powder OR 2 ½ tsp if you don’t have self-raising flour

200g fresh spinach, washed

50g (1.8 oz) fresh, picked over nettle tops (the top five or six leaves from each plant)

30g (1 oz) wild garlic (about a double handful), chopped OR 1 small clove garlic, minced

20g (small palmful) dried porcini mushrooms soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, saving the soaking water**

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch spring onions/scallions, trimmed and sliced

1 tbsp Marmite or other yeast extract spread (if no Marmite or similar, try 2 tbsp dark soy sauce although it is not a real substitute)

½ tsp fresh ground pepper

4 eggs

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

200ml (6.75 fl oz) water OR liquid saved from blanching the vegetables and from the porcini soaking (I do the latter – no waste and more flavour)

Optional add-ins: 125g grated strongly flavoured cheese, such as vegetarian Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or vintage Cheddar; 75g chopped walnuts; handful of chopped olives; small handful chopped sundried tomatoes

To garnish for Easter: watercress or lamb’s lettuce/ mache + cooked quail’s eggs (Sally tells you how) or olives

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Oil a 20cm/8 inch round removable bottom tin and line with parchment paper. You could also use a 900g/2 lb loaf tin – oiled and lined, mini loaf tins or muffin tins – the latter two just oiled and lightly dusted with flour.parchment

2. Dry whisk the flours and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Blanch the spinach and nettles in boiling water for 2 minutes, adding the wild garlic the last 30 seconds. Drain in a colander, catching as much of the liquid as you can to use in a bit. Run a cold tap and rinse the vegetables to cool them. Drain and press out the liquid with a spoon. You don’t want the vegetables to be soggy or it will affect the cake. Chop, blot with kitchen paper, and set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the spring onions, Marmite, pepper and soaked porcini (chop or snip the porcini first). Cook, stirring, until the spring onion is just soft but not golden – about three minutes. If you are using garlic rather than wild garlic, sauté this with the onions. Set aside to cool.

5. Add the eggs, soaking/cooking water, and vinegar to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then stir in the softened onions and mushrooms. Gently fold in the wilted greens and any add-ins you wish.

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is just pulling away from the tin and the top is golden. Just to be sure, pierce the centre with a skewer or toothpick and check that no batter clings to the tip. Every oven is different so do check just before 35 minutes and judge for yourself how long to keep it in. It will also depend on if you have added extra bits to the batter. Mini loaf tins or muffin tin versions should take about 12-15 minutes.savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

6. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then release and remove the paper. Pop the cake on a baking rack or serving plate, and cool enough to allow you to decorate with the watercress and quails eggs, as shown. Serve with a big jug of vegetarian onion or mushroom gravy. I’m posting my spring onion gravy next, so look out for it. Serve warm or room temperature.

* can use gluten-free flour mix (such as Bob’s Red Mill or Doves), but add 50ml more liquid.

** the UK porcini picking season starts in September, depending on weather conditions. They are one of the few wild mushrooms that you can eat raw. You can freeze them (indeed buy bags of frozen ones at farm shops, and sometimes even Lidl!), and drying them intensifies their flavour. I plan on dusting off my dehydrator and drying my own this autumn. Here’s more info about picking and using porcini. And a lesson in mushroom dehydration from top forager and medical herbalist, Monica Wilde (yes, that’s her real name. Nominative determinism in action!). She has a fantastic site for all things foraged, as well as superb recipes. I’ve met her a few times and she is incredibly passionate about wild foods and shares her knowledge eloquently and generously. Here is a link to her foraging walks and courses she holds in Scotland (mainly near Edinburgh, but not always), sometimes with the fabulous (River Cottage) mycologist and raconteur, John Wright.

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowsavory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowquails-eggs food to glow

 More savory vegetable cakes

Cheesy Chickpea Cake – amuse your bouche

Savory Vegetable Loaf – gourmande in the kitchen {paleo}

Savory Vegetable Cake – farm on plate {Indian flavours}

Cauliflower Cheese Cake – food to glow

Sunny Spring Vegetable Muffins – food to glow

Celeriac & Carrot Rosti Cake -food to glow

After a bit of a link-sharing drought I wish to share this with a couple of choice round-ups: the new Simply Eggcellent over at Belleau Kitchen; Extra Veg via Utterly Scrummy, Fuss Free Flavours and Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary; and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too. Go and have a look at all of the fab recipes others have shared, and feel free to link your own. :-)

 

 

 

 

lookwhatifoundWelcome to a new feature here on Food To Glow, “Look What I Found!” Friday.

I always love to know about other bloggers’ foodie finds – clever kitchen products, intriguing ingredients, homegrown produce, delectable goodies plucked from the local markets. Celia is the standard bearer for the “In My Kitchen” posts, so I hope she doesn’t mind if I join in.

Depending on what comes into my kitchen I hope to put together a monthly post combining what I’m growing (slug holes and all) and foraging, what I’ve found in the supermarkets and smaller independents/markets, what I’ve been sent to try, any gadgets that catch my fancy (and pass the ‘out and using’ test), and perhaps even tips that are making my cooking and blogging life easier. I might even try my hand at short videos if I can get my tripod to lock!

So, here goes! I hope you enjoy seeing what I have found.DSC_1408

First up, I was recently sent a half dozen of “Skinnylicious” soups from Glorious! Foods. I won’t say I was sceptical before tasting, but Scots are known as much for their soups as their baking, and I have adopted the sniffy attitude to bought of both. But I was more than pleasantly surprised. Very. Not only were all of these soups of a good consistency (not thin, like some other ‘skinny’ soups) but every single pot was a distinct globally inspired recipe, ‘peppered’ with loads of spice, and containing proper ingredients that you would expect to find in a homemade soup. The Glorious! Foods brand are all well within the FSA 2012 salt guidelines, too – which is good to know as soups are notorious for being harborers of excess sodium.

I gave some away for others to taste, and got the thumbs up from both expert testers (my MIL Ann, and neighbour Kath – thanks ladies!). I will happily buy these when I know I have an extra busy week. My favourite one? Persian Hug. Available in most larger UK supermarkets.

DSC_1382 Jerusalem artichokes, love them or not, these knobbly root vegetables are abundant in the farm shops and in most supermarkets right now. Known quasi-affectionately as the “fartichoke” (sorry if you are eating whilst reading), this prebiotic-containing tuber just loves British weather. So much so that a neighbour practically begged me to take 11 kg off her hands. I am sharing them at work next week, but have left a goodly amount for ourselves to use in this rather decadent risotto, soups and just roasted.

 

(first image) Here’s an oil I’ve been using a lot in my kitchen. I buy it from my local Marks & Spencer food hall. The gorgeous azure-blue bottle is what initially caught my eye, then I read the words ‘smoked olive oil‘ and knew I had to buy it. I’m on my third bottle… For drizzling not cooking, btw. You can also find this Spanish Arbequina olive oil through Amazon.

(middle image)The last time I was in the US I bought this grindable Sriracha seasoning by Dean Jacob’s. I know I didn’t pay full price for it – I just now found it online and KNOW I didn’t pay that price- so I think it must have been at TJ Maxx, or another discounter. If you see something similar, do get it if you like spicy popcorn, a flurry of spice on a more sober dip, or punchy poached eggs. It’s a notch up from other flavour blends I’ve tried, and it is sometimes good to have the distinctive sriracha flavour but without the added liquid.

(final image) And I love this new-to-me matcha tea from London-based company, Bloom Tea. Anyone who knows me (or follows my Instagram feed) knows of my fondness/weakness/obsession for matcha tea (cold, if you please). This pot has the perfect pick-me-up combination of matcha green tea, ginseng and ginger, but I note that there are 7 other intriguing blends to try (Brainboost has my name all over it). Love this. I bought mine at the Edinburgh Harvey Nichols Foodmarket, but you can also find it at Selfridges, Whole Foods, Planet Organic and order online through their website. My go-to everyday matcha usually comes from Teapigs or Vitalife.fresh-turmeric by food to glow

Regular readers will also know that I am a big fan of turmeric. In fact, my most popular non-cancer specific post is for  Spiced Golden Turmeric Milk. As a family we drink this very often, and not just if we feel we are coming down with something. I actually drink this more than I do hot tea or coffee (but not as much as I do cold matcha green tea). Not only does it seem to cure what ails you (only slightly hyperbolic), it tastes good too.  I keep a stash of these little roots/rhizomes in my freezer, just peeling with a teaspoon when I want to use them (no need to defrost), and finely grating. I also throw them in some smoothies too.

“But I don’t like turmeric,” I hear some of you say: If you find dried, ground turmeric too harsh or bitter, fresh is much milder in taste, with a pleasantly earthy aroma. It’s really worth finding and using in this milk, in curry paste mixes, with oily fish, to mix with olive oil and black pepper as a bread dip, to flavour and colour savoury baked goods. I even use it in sweet things too (I add it to this lemon-berry polenta cake to boost the colour). I don’t really recommend supplements for most people but I do suggest using turmeric in some way, shape or form most days. Spiced golden turmeric milk is the quickest way I know. Plus it’s an excuse to drink cardamom!productcollage1I was sent these stunning fruit crisps earlier in the year and I am ashamed to say I am only now telling you about them. They are not the cheapest of products but they literally have just the fruit that is named on the beautifully illustrated pack and a tiny smudge of oil. The result is an intense hit of the fruit and a deep satisfying ‘crisp’ crunch. The apple ones even have peel on them, as well as a few crunchy pips! My favourite flavour is the pineapple. If I had been sent three pack of pineapple crisps I still wouldn’t have any left to photograph! Perhaps it is just as well that they aren’t in supermarkets (available in many UK farm shops, and on-line).

Another nice little snack are these puffy, crunchy quinoa & seeds multigrain cakes from Kallo. I am familiar with most of the Kallo range but I spotted these attractively packaged newbies at the supermarket and, of course, had to buy them. In the interests of research mind you. They have a touch of sweetness, which is different to their mostly savoury range of wholegrain crackers. But only a little. One cake would be nice little lunchbox snack with a pot of yogurt and a dinky box of fruit.

Lastly, my favourite find of the month was not actually discovered this month, but rediscovered. I had first tasted these incredibly addictive fennel and cumin cheese sables (crackers) some time back at the Stockbridge Sunday Market. The makers, The Pea Green Boat, are a tiny artisan food company in nearby Cockenzie and have been attending various Scottish markets selling out of their Scotch eggs (they have glorious veggie ones), gluten-free brownies and tubs of these delicate, small-bite crackers. The sables are now stocked at Earthy Foods where I rediscovered their tongue-tantilising delights. It was very very hard not to scoff the lot in one sitting (they are so light, who could blame me). Now I don’t have to wait until Sundays… Fun fact: Maddy Corbin, who founded and runs The Green Pea Boat, is the daughter of Pam “the Jam” Corbin (author of two River Cottage handbooks. I have – and love – this one.). Good food is obviously in the blood.

I’ll be back soon with a recipe. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions of healthy, or healthy in moderation, products, do let me know. I can’t guarantee to cover it (especially if it isn’t available in the UK as I would need to try it for myself) but I will look at all suggestions. Thanks!

Wild Garlic (left) & Young Nettle Tops (right)

Wild Garlic (left) & Young Nettle Tops (right)

citrus-collage by food to glow

One last find – the last of the blood oranges + a fragrant bergamot lemon

P.S. There are NO affiliate links in this post.

wild-garlic-ricotta-toast by food to glowThis week I am supposed to be head down with my laptop, working on a special project. It is at my own behest, but I was determined to be disciplined about it: “out-of-office” for my emails, alarm set for 6.30, green smoothie to fortify & fill, and then boom, the words would just flow.

My week has been planned to coincide with Andrew and Rachel’s ski trip to France. A vacation week to myself without fear of injury and frostbite. Or getting sucked into the inevitable raclette-fest. It was to be just me, the cat and a head full of ideas. But, as soon as I delivered my family to the airport, I headed into town. Pottering, purchasing (a new-rustic butler table that you see here), nibbling and procrastinating. Then it seemed too late to get started, and I wanted a walk, so I headed down to the local river in search of allium ursinum.

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wild garlic plants by the River Almond in Edinburgh – taken on my phone

At this time of year, with the temperatures just edging into double digits and the sun gently warming the soil, the scent of wild garlic leaves you in no doubt to their presence. Scattered up the steep, muddy banks the lily-like swards are just pushing through. While others get all excited about daffodils and other spring flowers, cutting them or buying them to fill their homes, I like to make my way down to the river with a pair of scissors and a tatty carrier bag. No doubt I was an object of curiosity, this middle-aged women with her bum in the air, snipping at smelly leaves. But I couldn’t see them, and I didn’t really care anyway. It’s worth the curious looks to come away with a gloriously green and pleasant bag of free food.

Wild garlic – ransoms – are not something everyone can get hold of. But it you are able to gather them yourself (with your no doubt much perter posterior) or grab a bunch at the farmer’s market, do just that. Wild garlic, although wildly whiffy when growing (and sat in your car…) eats much milder than you would imagine. Think garlic on its best behaviour for the Queen: no smelly breath to offend. But, in common with nearly all edible wild food, it is packed – and I mean packed – with a fantastic array of antioxidants that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, antiseptic. It also lowers blood pressure better than bulb garlic.

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fresh wild garlic pasta – taken on my phone

Why not forgo imported herbs and bulbs of garlic (which is not at its best just now) to make pots-full of fresh punchy wild garlic pesto? I do mine this way  – link complete with terrible photos, a risotto recipe, and more nutrition info. I use a pot of this exuberant sauce in pasta dishes, in dips, to spread on fish before baking, on and in focaccias, etc. But I also I store it in little measured bags for the freezer, using it throughout the year, mourning when I run out.

Within one hour of picking this lot I had put together a quick pasta dish of wilted wild garlic, broccoli, black English walnuts, pecorino Romano and lemon zest (see above). And best olive oil, of course. And some smoked wild Scottish trout might have accidentally fallen in at some point. :-)

I swear I could feel the goodness of freshly picked greens coursing through my veins. A satisfying and terribly easy meal. I only dared get a small bag on this foray, as the season is only just beginning and I didn’t want to be greedy. Plenty of time for that. And plenty of time to get down to some proper work….

Future posts this week are being scheduled, so don’t think I am being side-tracked again. Although you would probably be right. :-)

wild-garlic-ricotta-toast by food to glow

Wild Garlic, Lemon and Ricotta Toast

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Leave out the sun-dried tomatoes if you like, but I appreciate the salty-sweet taste of them in this simple recipe. And vegans, I’ve not forgotten you: use cashew cheese, or even white beans, to get a somewhat similar effect to the silky ricotta.

30g washed wild garlic/ransoms, roughly chopped

3 tbsp toasted pine nuts

2 chopped sun-dried tomatoes

100g ricotta cheese or cashew cheese (or white beans)

Squeeze of lemon and a little lemon zest

2-3 pieces of good bread, for toasting (I used Peters Yard levain sourdough – much better than I can make)

Good extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling – optional

Pop the wild garlic in a mini food processor (or chop very finely by hand/use a mezzaluna) and blend until you get it quite fine. Add the pine nuts and sun-dried tomato and pulse until you get a consistency that you like – I like it still with plenty of texture. Stir in the ricotta (or put everything in a small bowl) and the lemon juice and zest. Let the flavours come together while you prepare your toast. Now slather on as you like, drizzling over some grassy, peppery olive oil if you like. And I do like.

Enjoy!

Note: This would also make an awesome pasta stir-in sauce with a little olive oil added and loosened with some pasta cooking water.

Where To Find Wild Garlic: moist woodland, by rivers, in green urban spaces (often huddled up with emerging nettles). Lily of the valley looks rather similar and is often intermingled, but is not edible. The leaves of wild garlic are much broader and smell garlicky (obvs) rather than grassy. Lily of the valley will also have little bulblets, which the  wild garlic does not. If in doubt, take a wild food guidebook or check out this app. You can also find it cheaply at farmer’s markets from now until later in April – about £1-2 for a 100g bag. And btw, the pretty white flowers are edible too and make a gorgeous natural garnish for this toast thingy as well as salads and soups.

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My St Patrick’s Day breakfast of wild garlic & ricotta omelet + kale & shiitake stir fry – photo taken with my phone for Instagram

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roasted-citrus-olive-freekeh-salad by food to glowIt is an unassailable fact that citrus fruits are perfect: as tart-sweet shreds suspended in amber and spread on toast; gently stewed with vegetables in spiced tagines; magically thickening with coconut butter to make raw key lime pie – or with eggs, butter and condensed milk for the real deal; blitzed into creamy submission in green smoothies; as sparkling slices in breakfast bowls. And of course as juice, as natural sweetener and flavour booster, poached, preserved in salt; slipped into cakes, bakes and raw makes; in raw salads, as solo snack, flavouring dressings and marinades, iced desserts. We use their skin and flesh: contrasting flavours, multiple uses.

Now add roasted to that list.

Say what? Think about it. Roasting enhances many vegetables, especially winter ones. The starches in staid roots transform from dowdy to dazzle with the flick of a (oven) switch.

And citrus fruits flourish in winter; sunshine when there ain’t sunshine. Sure, leave it the heck alone and all is well. Even in this salad. But slice and roast for even just a short spell and something magical happens. The flavour intensifies as the moisture evaporates, and what results is a chewy sweet-tart slice of citrus alchemy. Marry these disks of deliciousness with freekeh, rosemary and olives? And a slab of griddle-marked and griddle-softened Romaine?

Man oh man.

I will not be held responsible for this salad not getting made. Or the salad only half made for lack of roasted fruit. Because it’s already in your belly.

Make a double tray.

roasted-citrus-olive-freekeh-salad by food to glow

Roasted Citrus, Olive, Freekeh and Romaine Salad

  • Servings: 2 generously
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This deeply satisfying salad turns into a meal with the addition of freekeh or other grains/pseudo-grains, like quinoa or couscous. To have as a take-to-work salad, shred raw greens (or just the Romaine) and pile over the citrus, olives, nuts and freekeh. Perhaps leave out the onions. :-)

3 small unwaxed oranges/4-5 clementines, sliced into thin rounds and including the end pieces as they will help make the dressing (keep the skin on)

1 small unwaxed lemon, sliced into thin rounds – as above (thin-skinned if possible)

2 tbsp olive oil, divided use

10 dry-cure black olives, pitted (I used a mix of smoked olives in oil and dry-cure)

1 cup cracked freekeh

1 fresh sprig of rosemary (optional)

2 ½ cups water

1 head of Romaine lettuce

½ small red onion

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

handful raw pistachios

Special equipment: stovetop griddle pan (not necessary, but nice)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a large baking tray with parchment/non-stick paper. Slick both sides of each citrus slice with a tiny bit of oil. Lay on the paper, along with the olives. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the citrus is crisping around the edges but the flesh is still soft. The slices will have shrunk with water evaporation. You can also prepare the slices as wedges if you like. You may also like to pop the pistachios onto a small tray and roast them for the last eight minutes.roasgted-citrus-collage by food to glow

2. While the citrus and olives are in the oven, prepare the freekeh by bringing to the boil the water and adding the freekeh and rosemary sprig, if using. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes (to retain some bite), fish out the rosemary, and keep the freekeh warm. You may not use all of the freekeh but it is easiest to make this amount and use the extra in another salad, as a side carb or to add to soup.

raw-freekeh

raw, cracked freekeh

3. When you are ready to eat, slice the Romaine lettuce in half vertically, trimming just the very end. Heat a griddle pan or large heavy skillet. Brush the lettuce with a little oil and lay in the hot pan (it must be quite hot), leaving it for a few minutes to get slightly charred and wilted. Carefully turn the lettuce with tongs and cook a little longer – about one minute.griddled-lettuce by food to glow

4. To assemble, spoon some freekeh onto each plate, tuck in citrus slices, olives, red onion, rosemary and pistachios. Squeeze over the citrus ‘ends’ and drizzle over the remaining olive oil. Toss just a little with a fork and serve alongside the griddled Romaine lettuce and a grinding of fresh black pepper.DSC_0567citrus-bowl by food to glowMore freekeh from Food To Glow:

Two More Citrussy Salads:

Citrus & Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad with Pomegranate Dressing from Food To Glow

And a lovely Orange, Pistachio and Pomegranate Couscous Salad from Recipe From A PantrycitrussaladCollage

chocolate-porridge-oatmeal-food-to-glow

terrible phone photo – sorry

In households up and down the land, children are up to something. Hiding a spilt Ribena stain – perhaps; red pen marks on their homework – most assuredly. But no doubt they are also deciding what they can surprise their mum with for Mother’s Day.*chocolate-porridge-oatmeal-food-to-glow

We mums can usually bank on a gorgeous homemade card (schools are good that way) as well as something fashioned from twists of paper and day-goo pipe cleaners. But breakfast, that can often be a bit, well, interesting. Why not save them – and you – the grief of attempting scrambled eggs or flipping pancakes. Why not hint that you really quite fancy this fantastically easy double(!) chocolate & cherry porridge by handing them a red pen and asking them to ring all of the speling mistackes. It is ezily doubled for the whole family.

This is of course also perfect for a chocolatey Easter breakfast, or really any time you feel a bit transgressive but still wish to cling to a notion of high nutritional ideals. The fruit makes it okay. Truly.

Justify, justify. ;-) Enjoy.

chocolate-porridge-oatmeal-food-to-glow

Double Chocolate & Cherry Porridge

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: child's play
  • Print

The breakfast that thinks it’s dessert. The texture is akin to one of those gooey chocolate desserts you get in restaurants  but with none of the scary amounts of fat, sugar and white flour.

Don’t fancy cherries? Sub in chopped pears, berries or even pomegranate arils.

1 cup wholegrain oats (gluten free if you need it) OR buckwheat flakes

2 & 1/4  cups milk of choice – almond is lovely

2 tbsp best cocoa/cacao

1 heaped tsp raw honey or maple syrup (I like Scottish heather honey) – optional

3 tbsp unsweetened/dark chocolate chips

½ cup pitted fresh of frozen cherries (I used defrosted, frozen tart/sour cherries I get from Real Foods in Edinburgh – love the tang)

50g/small handful of toasted pecans or other nut, roughly chopped

2 heaped tsp bee pollen – optional

What you do: Add the oats, milk, cocoa and honey to a saucepan. Gently heat, stirring frequently, until thickened to your liking. Stir in most of the chocolate chips, the cherries, and most of the pecans. Serve with reserved pecans and chocolate chips on top. A scattering of bee pollen is lovely too.

Note: I haven’t tried this but I imagine this chocolate porridge will be good reheated. You could also serve this as a simple pudding/dessert, with a bit of cream poured over to make swirling puddles of decadence. Extra whole cherries would certainly make this an elegant-ish dessert.

*The UK celebrates Mothering Sunday/Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent in the Christian calendar.

PS the images are mainly from my terrible phone, but hopefully you get the idea.chocolate-porridge-oatmeal-food-to-glow

 Unusual & Innovative Porridge/Oatmeal Ideas

Porridge Nuggets – The Muffin Myth

Cinnamon-Hazelnut Quinoa Porridge – Whole Nourishment

Miso Oatmeal – Just As Delish

16 Savory Oatmeal Ideas – Shape magazine

Date, Carrot & Almond Porridge – Food To Glow

Bee-Awesome Porridge – Food To Glow

Bee-Pollen-Porridge-food-to-glow

Bee Pollen Porridge – food to glow

spiralized-baked-potato-rosti-food-to-glowI am astonished at how much I love beetroot. And salmon and horseradish for that matter. My early introductions to all three did not bode well for them featuring in any way, shape or form in my kitchen. By all rights I should still be shunning them, and anything made with them. I shudder to recall the treatment of these fine foods in the unenlightened 70s. But then, we were still in thrall to boxed macaroni-cheese and tinned meat pies.

Not much was left au natural in those days, except perhaps personal grooming…

Beetroot in the1970s (when I was a nipper/sulky teen) was heavily vinegared. Ditto horseradish. Salmon was steamed through to the texture of tinned tuna, firm as a steak and often a bit whiffy. It also sat in an evil pool of white goo, daring you to spear it. I should probably add at this point that my parents – my mother – was not responsible for these heinous crimes against budding tastebuds; these deeds were performed in the school kitchen.beetroot-walnut-salmon-spiralized-baked-potato-rosti-food-to-glow

Fast forward – ahem – 40 years, and all of these foods and flavours are favourites of mine. Salmon is Scottish and top quality from my weekly Pittenweem fish van rather than who-knows and school-budget; beetroot is raw, steamed, juiced, roasted, baked, borschted (a made up word; don’t bother looking it up) and heavens knows what all. These days you are as likely to find it in a chocolate cake as flour. Horseradish, well it is easy enough to find it finely grated and stuffed in a jar, waiting to be paired with something just like this.

Hand on heart this is one of our favourite quick weekday meals. Well, quick if you 86 the potatoes. But why do that? The marriage of softly flaked beetroot salmon with delicately crisped potato is worth the extra 10 minutes or so tagged on after the fish. But if that is too much waiting, or you still don’t ‘do carbs’ (seriously, get over that), just serve it with a pile of steamed or stir-fried greens. And perhaps, if you are feeling frisky, ping some pre-cooked pseudo-grains in the microwave, or preferably a steamer. To not quite quote Gregg Wallace: Omega 3 fatty acids, natural nitrates and melatonin doesn’t get tastier than this.

Perfect for Mother’s Day or Easter. With a side order of chocolate, of course. ;-)

beetroot-walnut-salmon-spiralized-baked-potato-rosti-food-to-glow

Beetroot-Walnut Salmon with Spiralised Baked Potato Rosti

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This delicious meal is not only easy to prepare but incredibly good for you (see below). Considering I am keen on variety this is one fish dish that I make often, changing out the carbohydrate side dish (sometimes sweet potato, sometimes quinoa), and swapping the steamed greens for crunchy salad as the thermometer rises. The colours, textures and taste will make it one of your favourites too.

75g cooked or raw beetroot (use cooked if you don’t have a good mini food processor or high speed blender)

15 walnut halves (30g), chopped + 6 extra, chopped and set aside

Zest ½ lemon

2 heaped tsp prepared horseradish (not creamed)

Juice ½ lemon

2-3 salmon fillets

Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line two baking trays with baking parchment (you can use foil for the fish but not for the potatoes).

2. Blend the beetroot, walnuts, lemon zest and horseradish until you get a mostly smooth paste.

3. Place the salmon pieces skin-side down on oiled foil (I crinkle it to get air underneath the fish) or parchment paper. Squeeze over the lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread over the beetroot mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the fish is pale pink and firm to the touch. Lightly cover and set aside while the potatoes bake.

spiralized-baked-potato-rosti-food-to-glowSpiralized Baked Potato Rosti

Use spiralized potato or grated potato for these baked rostis – a spiralizer gives fantastic results. You can either bake these long and slower for a crunchier, almost potato chip texture, or faster and hotter for a softer, cut-able rosti with soft-ish centre. Pop these in the oven while the salmon is cooking, remove the salmon and lower the heat for best results.

1 baking potato (for two people)

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed rapeseed oil

Salt and pepper

1/8 tsp garlic or onion powder, optional

1. Spiralise or julienne/matchstick the potato. Pop the strands into a colander and rinse well under cold running water. Decant the potato into a tea towel and squeeze. Pop the dried potato into a mixing bowl and mix well with the remaining ingredients. Pick up little handfuls and press lightly onto the second baking tray. Don’t completely mash it down as you want the hot air to circulate through the filaments of potato.spiralized-baked-potato-rosti-food-to-glow

2. Place the tray in the 200C/400F oven with (or without) the fish and bake for 15 minutes. When the fish comes out of the oven, turn the oven down to 180C/350F, flip the potatoes and draw the more cooked edges underneath the centre a bit, teasing out the little frilly mounds of potato with a fork before lightly pressing again. The potatoes will have shrunk a bit as the potato’s water evaporates.

3. Continue baking until the potato is cooked in the middle (it may not brown very much) – about 10 minutes. To get it quite crispy, turn off the heat and leave in the oven until dried out and crisp-like. This is better to do when you don’t have salmon waiting to be eaten, but the salmon is still lovely after a longer wait.

Serve immediately with the beetroot and walnut salmon, with the extra walnuts crumbled on top, and a big pile of steamed seasonal greens on the side.

Leftover Magic: If salmon fillet number three doesn’t get eaten on the day, lightly mix it into cooked grains (or not), some finely chopped raw veggies, a bit of dry or fresh dill, a squoosh of lemon and hey presto, bagged lunch.

Vegan Option: I haven’t tried this but I imagine the beetroot and walnut ‘pesto’ would be great slathered on tofu and baked.

spiralized-baked-potato-rosti-food-to-glowbeetroot-walnut-salmon-spiralized-baked-potato-rosti-food-to-glow

Nutrition Notes: Quality salmon has a ridiculous amount of heart and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which we also know reduce bodily inflammation and symptoms of anxiety. Beetroot has numerous anti-cancer properties in its typically deep purple flesh. But we also have more recently found that the nitrates in beetroot  increases blood flow to the brain (perhaps slowing dementia) and helps us use oxygen more effectively for less effort (great for sports people). The studies apply to drinking beet juice but eating raw and cooked beetroot regularly should have a similar long-term effect. Walnuts also have omega-3 fats in the lesser form of ALA, as well as the ‘super antioxidant’ (my quotes) ellagic acid, which mops up free radical damage around the body. Walnuts are also a fantastic source of protein and heart-helping monounsaturated fats. As for the melatonin mentioned above, walnuts are replete with this sleep-regulating hormone. So, having walnuts with an evening meal – like this one – may help you fall asleep. This is especially useful for us over 40s, as we produce less of it after this age. Another great source is sour cherry juice.

A few more salmon and beetroot  recipes on food to glow:

Beetroot Zinger Juice

Beetroot, Fennel & Cumin Soup

Beetroot Soup with Wasabi & Lime

Beetroot & Cashew ‘Hummus’

Beetroot & Tomato Rogan Josh Curry with Homemade Paneer Cheese

Warm Beetroot, Lentil, Halloumi & Pepper Salad

Lime and Fresh Turmeric Salmon

Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl (with Vegan Option)

Double Salmon Beetroot Stack with Cardamom-Lemon Creme Fraiche Sauce (beetroot & salmon!)

Fridge-comp-bannerWhat Does Your Fridge Say About You?

As you can see below, my fridge is not much to boast about. It’s quite tidy inside and out, but it doesn’t really scream “food blogger” does it? It’s not heaving with delectable food samples, bottles of classy wine, and jars of homemade bits and bobs. The door isn’t covered in magnets from around the world, torn out recipes waiting to be tried, or coupons for free stuff that food bloggers allegedly are knee deep in. Why? Two days before Homebase contacted me about their latest, really awesome, competition I had a clear out. A big ‘un. Spring had arrived early at food to glow in the form of hot soapy water, rubber gloves and copious paper towels and e-cloths. A bag was on standby for the inevitable toss out of expired this and that (not too bad on that score). A week before we had ‘eaten down’ the contents of the fridge. In other words what my fridge says about me is “exceedingly boring.” We seem to exist on half a red cabbage (turned into a surprisingly fab smoothie – recipe soon), cauliflower, kefir, some packs of tofu, and green stuff. Oh, and a gorgeous “naan-chilada”. But more about that soon.DSC_1482

DSC_1066So,…the competition couldn’t come at a worse time for me. But, it may have come at a good time for YOU.

Just by snapping some photos of your fridge inside or out (or both) you could win some really cool stuff (pun intended). All you need to do is snap your fridge freezer and share through your social media media accounts (Twitter/Instagram), including @Homebase_UK and #KeepYourCool.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:

1st Prize: A Silver or Black Bush Fridge Freezer

2nd Prize: An exclusive Leith’s cookery course

3rd Prize: A Naked Wine Box (12 bottles worth £120)

4th Prize: 3 lucky winners will get a Riverford Recipe Box of your choice

Head over to the Homebase competition page RIGHT NOW for more details on how to enter, plus the Ts & Cs. And, GOOD LUCK!!

Oh, and this is what I made when I cleaned out the fridge, Fridge-raid Coriander and Green Olive Tapenade. I blitzed up ‘rescued’ leaf coriander that was lurking in the veg tray, a giant bottle of green olives I got at Makro, and some of my homemade preserved lemon for the perfect slather-on spread for grilling tofu, chicken or fish. Mix it with soft cheese or ground cashews for a fabulous dip too. You can easily make this with just the fresh lemon and lemon zest, which is how I normally make it. I got this idea from a lovely little tapenade you can get at Waitrose, but it is a doddle to make your own, and we love the zingy fresh flavour of the extra fillip of preserved lemon.

green-olive-and-coriander-tapenade by food to glow

Coriander and Green Olive Tapenade

  • Servings: 1 jam jar
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups green olives (stoned) in brine, rinsed and drained

1 large bunch leaf coriander/cilantro (stems and leaves) – about 50-60 grams, roughly chopped

1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

Juice and zest of half a lemon (more to taste)

2 tsp minced preserved lemon peel (optional)

Fresh black pepper, to taste

50-70ml (1/4 – 1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for the jar (amount is up to you – 70 ml gives a looser tapenade)

Blend all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth. Blend in the olive oil until just mixed through. Blending longer makes the colour much paler but doesn’t affect the taste. Spoon the tapenade into a sterilised jar (my method plus my tawny marmalade recipe) and top up with extra olive oil. Store refrigerated for one week, or freeze in smaller amounts to use as needed (see image).

Uses: as a topping for grilled fish, tofu, chicken (mix with panko or other dried breadcrumbs and more lemon zest – mwah!); added into soups and stews for a bit of oomph; kneaded into bread dough and baked for AMAZING breadsticks; stirred into cooked pasta or hot grains; added to extra lemon and olive oil for a dressing or marinade; mixed with soft cheese or blended nuts for a dip.

green-olive-and-coriander-tapenade by food to glowNow, go on. Skedaddle! All of you lovely UK readers go take some pix of your fridge and post them over to Homebase for your chance to win some great prizes! Good luck. :-)

Post sponsored by Homebase.

parsnip-and-lime-marmalade-cake by food to glowI’m a bit of a sneaky so and so. Although I am telling you what is in this cake – I’m a stickler for accurate titles – often when I am feeding my cancer nutrition groups I make them guess what is the ‘special ingredient’. After they have taken a bite.

I suppose I should add “not very nice” to “a bit sneaky.”

But it is with good intentions. Often we have preconceptions about how things are going to taste. I know I do at least. If you tell me something has coconut in it, or baked bananas, I will automatically wrinkle up my already wrinkled nose and decline. Things with coconut in them (unless it is fresh or like this, or this) make me think of tanning creams from the 70s (not sunscreens: there were no such things, hence the wrinkles). And baked bananas, well they are just gross, aren’t they? And don’t even think of giving me something with banana flavouring. Nose wrinkling doesn’t quite cover my reaction. Continue Reading

the_soy_situationBy now most of you know that I have a day job. I don’t spend all day, every day puttering about in my kitchen and tippy tapping on my lap-top. Not quite. Some days you will find me teaching cancer nutrition at the brilliant Edinburgh Maggies’s Cancer Caring Centre.

Many of the people I see have loads of questions, not only about their actual treatment (“why can’t I taste anything on chemo?”), but about what they ‘should’ be eating during and after treatment. And they want to know not only for their own sake but also for the sake of their families and loved ones.

When experiencing cancer or any chronic illness, food can be fraught. On the one hand there are scare stories that some of the papers seem to glory in highlighting. At the other extreme there are millions of digital articles and acres of newsprint devoted to extolling the latest must-eat super foods and miracle pills/potions/drinks/injections, etc. Part of my job is sifting through the real and ‘puffed up’ information that is out there, and helping those I see come to an informed choice about what they feed themselves and their families.

One of the biggest questions is to do with soya/soy.

If you are a vegan, a vegetarian or just someone who eats soy products, do join me over at The Muffin Myth where I am guest posting for nutritionist Katie Trant on this highly polarising – and very interesting – subject. 

Now, join me over at The Muffin Myth to find out more…

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