A Simple Green Smoothie – breakfast in a glass + Cherry Active review

simple kale smoothie green smoothie“Oh, thrice and four times happy those who plant cabbages.” Francois Rabelais, 16th century French writer

M. Rabelais might now be in the minority with that opinion, but from a health standpoint, he’s spot on. Cabbages have been cultivated for at least 6000 years, probably originating from wild, non-head forming greens (acephala), of which modern kale is perhaps the truest descendent.

Our forebears may not have known why kale and cabbages are so fiercely good for us, but historical figures have thought well enough of it to pass comment: Pythagoras praised it as an all-purpose remedy; Hippocrates (who else) declared it “the vegetable of a thousand virtues“. Continue reading

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Glow Green! Matcha Yogurt Breakfast Bowl

matcha green tea yogurt breakfast bowlThe past couple of weeks have been full of more ups and downs than is usual for me. Nothing major, just stuff that could be done without. And really, as of today (I started this post yesterday), I feel the stress ebbing away to a manageable trickle.

I am naturally a person who likes things on an even keel. I absolutely do not thrive on stress – I would be quite the worst business person. Certainly you will never see me cowering before The Dragons’ Den dragons, touting an idea. Or even pitching up in a pinny for The Great British Bake-Off, like my brave and talented friend Urvashi. That’s just not me. With the exception of GBBO I don’t even like to watch shows with conflict, confrontation or stress. Well, an exception for House of Cards, too. How can anyone resist Kevin Spacey’s sly, to-camera asides, delivered in that snake-oil Southern drawl? Continue reading

A Green Smoothie for the Green-phobe

green smoothieDespite the clearly undisguised green of this green smoothie, I pretty much guarantee that once sipped even the the most stridently anti-greens guy or gal will at least say, ‘hmm, not as bad as I thought it was going to be.’ Score!

If they are actually scared to try it either say 1) ‘will you just get over yourself’ (my option if I’ve had no sleep), or 2) ‘I will pay you. Just try it.’ Or a combination of the two.

If it is your good self who is unaccountably afraid of the big bad green smoothie, just take a gander at the ingredients: pineapple, clementine, banana. And a little bit of spinach. The mild, baby stuff. If you can handle the more bitter end of the leafy greens – I’m talking about kale really – go for it. The more bitter the better from a nutrition and disease-prevention standpoint.

Whether a novice green smoothie maker/imbiber or not, most fruit (and vegetable) smoothies are best if at least one of the ingredients is frozen. I know you can use ice – and I sometimes do – but having a secret squirrel stash of chopped bananas and/or pineapple in the deep freeze makes it ‘creamier,’ colder and not at risk of being watered down. The matcha tea is entirely optional but I always have a tin of it (owing to a mild addiction to cold green tea with lemon, even in the winter) so tend to put it in smoothies whatever the ingredients. And the citrus enhances green tea’s anti-cancer properties.

To be perfectly honest I would not advocate having something like this every day. I think whole fruits are better because it is easier to know when you have had enough – calories and satiety. But this kind of smoothie is a great way to get green-haters to at least try their enemy and have an opportunity to like them. And homemade smoothies are completely under your control – adjust the taste and amount to your liking, and know exactly what is in it and how fresh it is. Fantastic for control freaks like myself.

So, are you in?

green smoothieA Green Smoothie for the Green-phobe

A cracking way to start the day – a bit tangy, a bit sweet, and a bit green. And there’s green tea powder too if you are like me and don’t do coffee.

The level of deliciousness hinges on the ripeness of the pineapple; don’t go to all the trouble of hacking up an unripe one, just opt for best quality canned or bottled. I’ve never had to do that, but perhaps I’ve just been lucky. Here’s a guide to choosing a ripe pineapple.

1 ripe banana, frozen if possible*

Double handful of baby spinach leaves, or other mild greens of choice, washed (about 2 packed cups)

1 cup diced fresh or quality canned pineapple (frozen too if you can) OR kiwi, peeled

2 clementines, mandarins or satsumas OR 1 large orange, peeled

2 tsp powdered green tea (Japanese-style matcha, not instant) – optional

1 cup almond milk or other milk of choice

5 ice cubes if not using frozen fruit

1. Add all to a blender and blitz until creamy-smooth like an old-fashioned milkshake. Drink immediately.

Note: You can leave out the banana (I’m not a big banana fan) but it does add greatly to the texture, and the pineapple pretty much neutralizes any strong banana taste. Add another banana if you like a more tropical, or sweeter, taste. Or, how about a kiwi?green smoothiegreen smoothie

Serves 2.

Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Homemade Vegan ‘Parmesan Cheese’

kalequinoasalad6Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Vegan Parmesan Cheese: mouthful of a title, mouthful of a meal. Continue reading

The Red Reviver (Kale and Cranberry Juice)

cranberry-kale-juiceI realise that some of you may be reclining on the sofa digesting a rather large meal. Feet up, hand on distended belly, telly at full volume (to drown out the clattering of a million dishes being cleaned in the kitchen). You may be kicking back waiting for a second wind; after all,  Auntie Jean’s famous sweet potato meringue pie isn’t going to eat itself. *must find a clean plate* Continue reading

Spiced Golden Turmeric Milk – drinking to your health

turmeric milkThis is my science-updated take on an old Ayurvedic treatment beloved of Indian grandmothers. Treatment for what, you may wonder. Just about everything. Although clinical evidence supporting its cure-all reputation is scanty (not many big studies have been funded), what is around looks very promising. Very promising indeed. And with 14 centuries of culinary and medicinal use, perhaps grandmother really does know best. 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

Piquant Mushrooms, Chard and Beans with Grilled Polenta

piquant greens, beans and polentaThis week’s recipe is a transitional one. Much like how we will wear a poloneck jumper under a summery shift dress, or pair thick wool tights with strappy sandals (at least here in the UK), today I am using a rather S/S ingredient in a slightly A/W way. When I think of grilled polenta and beans together, my immediate thought is mmm, stew with polenta. Or mmm, a bean and polenta bake. Very wintry, very -5C. What I don’t automatically think is wouldn’t this be nice with stir-fried new season’s chard.

But chard is an early-ish, cooler-weather crop, with more than a hint of hardy wintriness about it – even when young and small of leaf. It is a robust, no nonsense kind of vegetable that stands up to rough winds, cold temps and punchy flavours like no other. I would love to persevere with more adamantly Spring dishes such as last week’s crab one, but we still need the warmth of this sort of dish, combined with the promise of what is to come. For after chard comes asparagus and watercress, then broad beans, beetroot and courgettes. And then the flashier summer crops of tomatoes, artichokes, corn and aubergines, and as many tender herbs as you can ever wish. I am already making haphazard lists and scribblings of the many spring and summer-crop recipes I want to make because, like Little Orphan Annie says, “the sun’ll come out tomorrow.” Crossed fingers. Continue reading