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feel good food that's good for you

Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch – delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too.

Meltingly soft eggplant wrapped around a garlicky Georgian spinach and walnut dip is a wonderful vegan starter or light lunch - delicious warm or cold. Leftover dip makes a fab, instant sauce for hot pasta. Low-carb, high-fat (good ones!) and paleo, too. 

My daughter, Rachel.

I so wish I could tell you that this lip-smackingly delicious recipe was born from a visit to the country of Georgia, but it wasn’t. The only Georgia I’ve been to is the Peach State one; the next state up from my home state of Florida.

Nothing like the country. Nothing at all. 

No, this recipe is of mixed origin: part my own recipe for spinach phkali that I’ve only ever used as a dip, and reading from the glorious cookbook, Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond, by Olia Hercules (and here is a UK link to Kaukasis). I looked at her recipe for aubergine rolls (badrijani nigvzit) and immediately knew I would make this with my long-forgotten deeply flavoured dip.

kaukasis, by olia hercules and another cookbook I am loving right now, cook for #syria, curated by clerkenwell boy

kaukasis, by olia hercules, and another cookbook I am loving right now, cook for #syria recipe book, curated by clerkenwell boy

The melting aubergine, gently charred under cover in my enamelled iron skillet, smeared generously with this creamy-textured, herb and spinach studded dip, is utterly divine. Soft yet impactful – a surprisingly uncommon trait in food, and one I love.

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Yes, you read right: vegan smoky bacon-wrapped asparagus. This whole food ingredient recipe is easy to make, nutritious and great for a light lunch or a snazzy starter. It's

;-Yes, you read right: vegan smoky bacon-wrapped asparagus. This whole food ingredient recipe is easy to make, nutritious and great for a light lunch or a snazzy starter. It'sYes, you read right: vegan smoky bacon-wrapped asparagus. This whole food ingredient recipe is easy to make, nutritious and great for a light lunch or a snazzy starter. It’s kind of a mind-bender, but hopefully you know me well enough by now to trust me. Continue reading

Four-ingredient chocolate, fruit and nut clusters are an easy, no-bake recipe for healthy, guilt-free snacking. Perfect with a cup of tea and in lunch boxes. 

Four-ingredient chocolate, fruit and nut clusters are an easy, no-bake recipe for healthy, guilt-free snacking. Perfect with a cup of tea and in lunch boxes.

Four-ingredient chocolate, fruit and nut clusters are an easy, no-bake recipe for healthy, guilt-free snacking. Perfect with a cup of tea and in lunch boxes.

These may not be the prettiest things you’ll see on the Internet today, but by goodness, they might be the tastiest.

These little three-bite clusters, crammed with heart-healthy nuts and chocolate as well as sweet dried berries, almost didn’t make it onto the blog. I really thought they were just too simple. I figured everyone would know about these, and how easy they are to make. But I think I may be wrong. Continue reading

A delicious late-summer jackpot of a recipe, done alla parmigiana. Not just eggplants, but chard, potatoes, garlicky oil and a simple homemade sauce, layered up and covered in gooey cheese and earthy porcini breadcrumbs. Hearty yet light; a vegetarian recipe the whole family will love.

A delicious late-summer jackpot of a recipe, done alla parmigiana. Not just eggplants, but chard, potatoes, garlicky oil and a simple homemade sauce, layered up and covered in gooey cheese and earthy porcini breadcrumbs. Hearty yet light; a vegetarian recipe the whole family will love.A delicious late-summer jackpot of a recipe, done alla parmigiana. Not just eggplant, but chard, potatoes, garlicky oil and a simple homemade sauce, layered up and covered in a crust of gooey cheese and earthy porcini breadcrumbs. Hearty yet light; a vegetarian recipe the whole family will love. For all of you vegetable lovers out there, i.e. all of you.

Read the whole post and recipe to find out why and how this recipe – containing potatoes! – is lower carb. It’s pretty cool!

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I know it is not yet September, but this Florida gal is feeling autumnal. Not by choice, but because my chosen home doesn’t really do summer. As the local saying goes, “summer was on a Tuesday”.

Edinburgh in August is a time of arts festivals, plump wild berries and ferreting around for all of the cold weather clothes that should never have been put away. It is not a time for brain-freezing ice lollies and acres of bare flesh.

Mind you, I did whip up a jug of sour cherry frosé at the weekend – enjoyed in the garden, wearing my favourite woolly cardigan. True. Continue reading

Make pizza in a cast iron skillet for a quick and healthy midweek meal that the whole family will love. Use my quick wholewheat dough - or a pre-made - and top with smoked mozzarella and cooked lentils for a delicious, vegetarian deep-dish dinner, or hearty snack. Vegan adaptations are given.

Make pizza in a cast iron skillet for a quick and healthy midweek meal that the whole family will love. Use my easy wholewheat dough - or a pre-made - and top with smoked mozzarella and cooked lentils for a delicious, vegetarian deep-dish dinner, or hearty snack. Vegan adaptations are given.Make pizza in a cast iron skillet for an easy and healthy midweek meal that the whole family will love. Use my quick wholewheat dough – or a pre-made – and top with smoked mozzarella and cooked lentils for a delicious, vegetarian deep-dish dinner, or hearty snack. Vegan adaptations are given. Continue reading

cover of veggie desserts + cakes cookbook by kate hackworthy

A delicate apple-flavoured sponge, topped with a zesty apple icing and, although there is quite a bit of kale, the flavour doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. From the debut cookbook by Kate Hackworthy.

A delicate apple-flavoured sponge, topped with a zesty apple icing and, although there is quite a bit of kale, the flavour doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. From the debut cookbook by Kate Hackworthy.

image courtesy of Pavilion Books

Veggie Desserts + Cakes, the debut baking cookbook by top UK food blogger, Kate Hackworthy, celebrates rather than hides vegetables. More than this, she confects the humblest roots and the greenest of greens into treats the whole family will enjoy.

So, is this is a super-healthy cookbook? Although she uses sugar, eggs and added fats, the texture and natural sweetness of many vegetables mean that she – and you – use less.

Vegetables also give fantastic moistness (think carrot cake), meaning the cakes and bakes last for days and still taste freshly baked. Obviously, the lasting for days bit is largely theoretical!

Kate’s passion for vegetables, married with her endless creativity and baking skills, results in enticing bakes for everyday eating as well as special occasions. Unlike myself, who will give you the occasional cake recipe but rarely an icing option, Kate gilds her cakes and cupcakes with properly decadent frosting. Duly noted. 🙂 Continue reading

Pearly-pink salmon kept juicy with a coating of creole spices and olive oil, cooked over vegetable-filled "dirty" brown rice. A healthy, family-friendly and surprisingly quick and easy recipe for a midweek dinner. Leftovers are great cold in a wrap - lettuce or grain.

Pearly-pink salmon kept juicy with a coating of creole spices and olive oil, cooked over vegetable-filled “dirty” brown rice. A healthy, family-friendly and surprisingly quick and easy recipe for a midweek dinner. Leftovers are great cold in a wrap – lettuce or grain.

Pearly-pink salmon kept juicy with a coating of creole spices and olive oil, cooked over vegetable-filled "dirty" brown rice. Healthy, family-friendly and surprisingly quick and easy for a midweek dinner. Leftovers are great cold in a wrap - lettuce or grain.I’ve only been to New Orleans once. A long, long time ago – I’m talking more than 30 years – my parents took my little sister and me on a trip “out West”. On our sweltering way, in a classically 1970s station wagon, complete with bench seats, faux-wood panelling and no seatbelts, we spent the best part of three weeks meandering our way to and from San Francisco. From Florida. That’s a lot of miles: a lot of bathroom stops; a lot of diner stops.

These days such a trip, with the new-fangled highways, will theoretically take 40 hours. That’s with no stops. If you were covering over 2500 miles with a young family in the mid-1970s, with an engine that needs more rests than an NFL game needs commercial breaks, it takes a good deal longer than the stated three days there and three days back.

First of all the roads were terrible. Dangerous and terrible. And, if you were dragging kids to gawp down an impossibly deep hole in the ground (Grand Canyon, of course) and risk everyone’s lives with a long, deserted drive through an actual desert (Mojave; Death Valley), you also need to stop at every form of entertainment along the way. I can’t recall exactly where we stopped but one memory stands out: New Orleans. Continue reading

Plump disks of roasted sweet potato, shreds of kale, popped golden turmeric chickpeas, all slathered in an easy and hugely nourishing za'atar hummus dressing. An easy vegan lunch, side dish or salad - the choice is yours.

Plump disks of roasted sweet potato, shreds of kale, popped golden turmeric chickpeas, all slathered in an easy and hugely nourishing za’atar hummus dressing. An easy vegan lunch, side dish or salad – the choice is yours.

Plump disks of roasted sweet potato, shreds of kale, popped golden turmeric chickpeas, all slathered in an easy and hugely nourishing za'atar hummus dressing. An easy vegan lunch, side dish or salad - the choice is yours.Is this a salad, a side dish or lunch? I’m really not sure, perhaps because it is all three. And, if you are weird like me, it can be breakfast, too (note to self: slip on a poached egg next time). So, it is flexible.

It is also patient: have it warm with just-roasted sweet potatoes, or let it hang around in the kitchen while you prep other dishes, or do an errand. It will wait. Just don’t eat it straight from the fridge, or you will lose the balance of taste and texture that this easy recipe provides for very little effort. Yes, store it in the fridge if you like (sans chickpeas, please) but bring it to room temperature to enjoy the full flavour. Continue reading

Lower carb avocado, rainbow vegetable and prawn-filled Vietnamese summer rolls are perfect dipped into silky peanut-tamarind dip. An easy, healthy appetizer, starter or light supper. Swap prawns for marinated tofu for a vegan option.

Lower carb avocado, rainbow vegetable and prawn-filled Vietnamese summer rolls are perfect dipped into silky peanut-tamarind dip. An easy, healthy appetizer, starter or light supper. Swap prawns for marinated tofu for a vegan option.

Lower carb avocado, rainbow vegetable and prawn-filled Vietnamese summer rolls are perfect dipped into silky peanut-tamarind dip. An easy, healthy appetizer, starter or light supper. Swap prawns for marinated tofu for a vegan option.Apologies if you have come looking for a photo post on my idyllic Scottish Outer Hebrides trip. I had underestimated how many photos I took on both my phone and my DSLR. Basically, I am still going through them all.

Back in the days when we shot on actual film, we were much less snap-happy. (Okay, some of you are too young to have used a film camera or even know what one looks like.) Not seeing the fruits of your careful and artistic composition until Boots or Walgreens had a good laugh at them in the lab, processed them, stuck stickers on the blurry ones and had you part with a fiver for 36 glossy 4x6s, was a disincentive to go too mad with the shutter button.

So, this weekend I will hopefully finish my editing, and next week share some of what we saw and experienced travelling through Scotland’s wild Atlantic islands. If you crave a secluded and relaxing Scottish getaway, you won’t want to miss my post. When I finally post it. 🙂

In the meantime, I wish to share with you a quicker riff on an old summer roll recipe of mine. If you’ve only ever had summer rolls at your favourite Vietnamese restaurant, you may be pleasantly surprised how easy and inexpensive they are to make. And unlike spring rolls, these are never fried. Continue reading

A simple lunch salad recipe highlighting seasonal cherries and peaches along with pistachios, sugar snap peas and a really rather special fat-free and fruity dressing. Add crumbles of goat's cheese or cashew ricotta for a yummy, creamy tang.

A simple lunch salad recipe highlighting seasonal cherries and peaches along with pistachios, sugar snap peas and a rather special fat-free and fruity dressing. Add crumbles of goat’s cheese or cashew ricotta for a yummy, creamy tang.

A simple lunch salad recipe highlighting seasonal cherries and peaches along with pistachios, sugar snap peas and a really rather special fat-free and fruity dressing. Add crumbles of goat's cheese or cashew ricotta for a yummy, creamy tang.Before the stone fruits season completely leaves us, I thought I would just nip in quickly to post a simple and elegant salad recipe that highlights two summer faves – cherries and peaches. As with most fruits at their succulent best, devoured whilst in a bath – or by the kitchen sink if you are boring – is the way to go. But when I am jaded by yet another juicy, sunset-stained peach or paper bag full of shiny crimson cherries, I almost always pop them in a salad. And even make dressing from them. This last way with fruit is a great way to use slightly “over” specimens, or even ones that have taken a tumble off the countertop. Oops! Continue reading

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