Green and Black Forest Smoothie (Kale, Sour Cherry and Cocoa Smoothie)


sourcherry, kale cocoa smoothie
Regular readers will know I am a bit of breakfast-head. If breakfast were a religion I would be proselytising  on a street corner, shoving avocado-smeared toast in your hand as you rushed by, late and ratty for your train.  In other words, a bit evangelical. Small e, mind.

Happily, I’ve noticed in my nutrition groups that when we discuss breakfast and its importance for blood sugar control (and consequently weight control), energy and basically running on all cylinders, I am preaching to the choir. A calm, unratty, insulin-controlled choir. Hooray! Big H.sourcherry kale &cocoa smoothie Continue reading

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Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl (+ vegan option)

teriyaki salmon rice bowlCan’t you just taste it? The sweet sticky-salty gingery flakes of salmon cosied up with crunchy veg and gloriously starchy brown sushi rice? Wow. I don’t think I have ever used that many y’s in one sentence. This is a dish that invites not only the y’s but also the hows. Continue reading

Lemon-Berry Polenta Cake

lemon polenta cakePolenta cakes are  stupidly easy to make.  I don’t mean this as an insult to polenta cakes, you, or anyone else for that matter. But, really. Dumping everything in a stand mixer and pressing ‘on’ is pretty easy. And sometimes – even although you may be the best baker in your family, in your workplace, in the world – stupidly-easy is what you need.  If and when that situation arises, polenta cake is there for you.
Continue reading

Juicy Teriyaki Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Homemade Wasabi Mayo

teriyaki portobello mushroom burgersI’m having a bit of a rough day. Relatively speaking. Although I am sitting here with two purring cats vying for attention (read: my lap), what I really want to do is go for a wee lie down. Maybe have a wee cry. Do you ever feel that way? Continue reading

How To Make Fruit Vinegars: easy, delicious, versatile

making fruit vinegarWhat’s the first thing that springs to mind when I say/write ‘vinegar’? In Britain it would definitely be ‘fish and chips’. In an eco-warrior’s house it might be ‘cleaning spray’. I don’t think many people would say ‘fruit’.

I may be showing my age but I wouldn’t be without a bottle or two of fruit vinegar. Just as I like to see a sticky shelf lined up with mismatched bottles of homemade jams (very Little House On The Prairie), I now like to see a few bottles of brightly-coloured, sharp-sweet fruit vinegar alongside. I used to think they were only good for drizzling over fancy salads, but I have come to find that fruit vinegars are as useful to me as ‘regular’ vinegar – just in different ways. In fact, it is a very inexpensive way to make lots of things more special. Continue reading

Nearly-Naked Watermelon Salad

watermelon saladWatermelon in a salad is nearly as satisfying as chomping down on a chilled, ripe solitary slice. Nearly.

This is a salad for when watermelons are at their peak, and perhaps when you are satiated with them au naturel. Like ripe peaches, so heavy and plump that biting into them sends their honeyed juices cascading from your elbow, perfect watermelons are unequaled as fruits. Who can resist their saturated pinky-red flesh? Not me. Continue reading

Smoky Double Corn Fritters with Guacamole – a savoury summery treat


smoky corn fritters with guacamole
“Hath Britain all the sun that shines? day? night? Are they not but in Britain?”

Cymbeline, Act 3, Scene 4, Lines 136-7. By William Shakespeare.

The three weeks of unalloyed golden heat have come to an abrupt end. And for some, not a moment too soon.

This was a most un-British of heatwaves: lasting, parching, predictable. We are used to our heatwaves coming in waves – crashing into the working week then rolling away by the week’s end, leaving only plant-shredding hailstones and blown over garden furniture. We are conditioned by years of experience  to never expect a day of unbroken sunshine, never mind weeks of the stuff. And so when it happens, we are unsettled and disoriented. You see us bumbling about in our hastily-bought tank tops and shorts, fretting about whether or not to tuck a brolly in our bag (is it tempting fate not to? Will the heaven’s open and it be all our fault?). We smile a lot too. Or is that squinting at the sight of the light that burns? Continue reading

Grilled Lettuce – on its own, and in a salad with potatoes, cornichon and peppered mackerel

DSC_0011Can you believe I am asking you to grill lettuce? Isn’t that the one vegetable that we can just leave the heck alone? I know it sounds bonkers, but it really is quite something. As different to raw lettuce as microwaved egg is to scrambled in butter. Another level. Continue reading

Carrot and Coconut Muffins

carrot and coconut muffinsI hope you don’t mind but this post will be a bit of a quickie. You see, I need to go and pack. And these tender little beauties are going in the hand luggage.

Some of you reading this may  be packing too, Perhaps you are jetting off to some island to laze around and sip rum punch, or maybe you and your family will be threading your way through the queues in some exciting theme park. I however am packing to go to London. Not to shop (although I will definitely squeeze a bit of that in) or go to the theatre. No, I am down to attend my second Food Blogger Connect, and I am SO excited. Last year I was scared-excited. This year I am just excited-excited. Which is the same thing, but with less nervous sweating. Not a good mental image in a food blog, but I like to tell the truth.

Any of you who were kindly reading me last October may recall a rather long post reviewing my weekend at FBC. It was beyond my rather pedestrian imagination. And this year promises to be even better. To wit, we are getting to press the flesh with Mr American in Paris himself, the wonderful David Lebovitz. There is the chance of winning a 15 minute one-to-one chat with David about how to improve one’s blog. Which sounds terrifying but probably a game-changer for the lucky winner.

Another highlight will be seeing fellow FBC alumni Ren Behan and Karen Burns-Booth on the podium sharing a panel discussion with Sarah Cook of BBC Good Food magazine on how to get published in magazines (I will be taking  furious notes: Why didn’t I do shorthand!). I adore these bloggers as people and as wonderfully good examples of how to run a compelling, must-read blog. And of course, there will be -ahem – serious and academically-rigourous attention paid to the art of eating. I have lost count of the number of folks and companies lined up to help us expand our waistlines. But I am especially looking forward to sampling from Ren’s pop-up Polish Kitchen. Her website is already making me want to book a second holiday to Krakow.

So, the muffins. Which I will sneak into my miniscule Easyjet handluggage, along with a little tub of my butternut squash and almond dip and some homemade pitta chips. Anything to avoid getting hungry enough to buy one of the airline’s extortionate ‘snack packs’ (full of cr*p and more cr*p). I just hope my little healthy snack pack doesn’t get confiscated!

By the time you read this I will have said goodbye to friends old and new and be on my way to meet Mr A for his birthday lunch. Another London food adventure awaits! Back up the stairs to add another pair of stretchy trousers to the bag…

What foods do you pack to avoid airline/train/service station ‘food’? carrot and coconut muffins

Carrot and Coconut Muffins

This is a riff on an old recipe of mine, Carrot and Marmalade Cake

This is an easy and delicious way of making a sweet treat healthy. Perfect for trips, picnics, brownbags and handbags. I make this recipe as muffins mostly, but it happens to make a fine ‘plain’ cake too. The decoration is all on the inside…

NB. Trade the coconut for plump raisins or, what the heck, put them both in.

100g self-raising flour*
125g wholemeal self-raising flour*
1 ½ tsp baking powder
100ml (3 ½ oz) rapeseed or coconut oil
100g coconut palm sugar OR other raw sugar, whizzed in food processor
2 eggs OR vegan egg replacer (such as Orgran)
200g carrots, finely grated
1 ripe banana, peeled and thoroughly mashed
50ml fresh orange juice (one orange), plus zest if liked (I do)
4 heaped tbsp best quality dark/tawny Seville orange marmalade (the nippier the better, IMO)

50g desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling on top

*If you don’t have self-raising flour, just add an extra one and one-quarter teaspoon of baking powder (total) to the flour mixture.

Oil a 12-hole muffin tin (I tend to make them smaller and use an extra 6). You could also line the holes with squares of baking paper (so they look like the muffins you get in coffee shops) or regular muffin tin liners. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Sift together the flours with the baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir in any bran that remains in the sieve from the wholemeal flour.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs with electric beaters or stand mixer until light and fluffy, then whisk in the oil and sugar until thickened and leaves a trail when the beater is lifted. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Fold the wet mixture into the flour until the flour just disappears, and no more. Mixing any more may give you a tough muffin. Which sounds like an insult, or perhaps a strange compliment: “She’s one tough muffin!”

Fill each muffin hole evenly and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until well-risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you want to add coconut to the top, do this about halfway through the baking so as not to burn the delicate coconut, but just give it a lovely toasty tinge of gold. Let the muffins cool in the tin on a wire rack and eat immediately. Or store for a few days in an airtight container. You could always go a bit fancy and extra-sweet by spreading over your favourite cream cheese frosting, or one such as this vegan one from food.com; or a classic cream cheese one from cook.uk. I like to keep them ‘plain’ for my nutrition classes and serve with fresh fruit.

Makes 12-18 muffins or two small cakes (I don’t think this would be as good if made as a big fat cake).

As usual, I am sending this over to Mark at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/Luv Made With Love Mondays. I got lucky as last week his theme was mango, but as this week’s is basil I am glad his themes are optional. I am not sticking basil in these!carrot and coconut muffinscarrot and coconut muffinscarrot and coconut muffinscarrot and coconut muffins

How To Make Jerk Marinade + Jerk Paneer Vegetable Kebabs with Pineapple-Mango Salsa

paneer & vegetable kebabsAlthough, living in Scotland, I no longer celebrate the 4th of July as such – it’s often a work day – it is fun to mark it with some kind of barbecue. If the weather plays ball that is. And so far so good on that score, if you don’t mind it a shade on the cool and breezy side. I know the 4th of July isn’t *just* about barbecues. There’s the whole ‘we are free from the Brits’ thing as well. Not really something that I can celebrate too enthusiastically under the circumstances. Continue reading