totally green veggie smoothie

time for another green smoothie which is quite fruit-free (apart from lemon) hence it is more adult than children friendly – although i think we should educate the wee ones into less sugary intake (which also means more veg than fruit!). admittedly it is a hardcore smoothie which might not be for the faint hearted and traditional juice drinkers – but i find it completely yum 🙂

TOTALLY GREEN VEGGIE SMOOTHIE (before and after…)

ingredients (for two generous servings):

  • 1 fennel bulb (including the green herbage), about the size of a fist
  • 1 handful spinach leaves (thoroughly washed)
  • half an organic lemon
  • fresh ginger (about the size of half a thumb, peeled)
  • 1 tsp matcha powder

wash the fennel, cut off a bit of the bottom (with the hard core) and roughly chop the rest (including the green herbage). cut the half lemon into quarters (yes, use the whole of it, including the peel). roughly chop the ginger.

add all ingredients to the smoothie maker or high speed blender and add as much water to have the ingredients roughly covered. blend blend blend and enjoy!

using the lemon whole gives much more flavour and makes it less sour. the peel adds this wonderful citrus fragrance and a tad of bitterness. furthermore it adds more vitamins than the juice only version. and vitamins we like! as the peel of lemons is often waxed, it is essential that you use an organic lemon for this smoothie (always use organic if you can). needless to say, it should be washed before using it…

this is the perfect morning smoothie, start the day with it in order to get your system and digestion working and give you a good mood. a bit of citrus (especially the essential oil from the peel) and lots of green always elevates the mood. it’s like kermit in a glass!

frozen berry blast (no booze!)

as i am currently off alcohol for lent (which means that even martini nights remain booze-free!), and admittedly am quite enjoying it, i have discovered the pleasure of mixing nice cocktails without gin or vodka or whatever else makes you spin right round, baby, right round like a record … 😉

this one is quite a berry overload, not too sweet and very more-ish:

FROZEN BERRY BLAST

elderberry

ingredients (for one):

  • a handful of mixed frozen berries (go with what you like, i used a mix of blueberries, red currants, blackberries, raspberries and very few strawberries)
  • juice of half a lime or lemon
  • 2-3 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cl elderberry juice (unsweetened)
  • 10 cl fever-tree elderflower tonic water

in a smoothie-maker or high-powered blender, mix the frozen berries, the lime or lemon juice, the mint leaves, the elderberry juice and half of the tonic water (the berries should be thoroughly covered by liquid) and blend – you will end up with a half-frozen runny sorbet. if it is too thick, add some more liquid and blend again. fill into a cocktail glass and gently pour the the rest of the tonic water on top.

it is very fruity in taste but not sweet and the elderflower tonic adds a nice gentle bitterness to it. it is a great after-dinner treat and can easily replace a dessert, especially as the pips remaining add some texture to the drink!

as always, ingredients are not set in stone, if you can’t get elderflower tonic water use some other flowery tonic water. the elderberry juice is admittedly hard to get, and you can swap it for some other unsweetened berry juice or unsweetened pomegranate juice. don’t use red grape juice as it will be too sweet. the berry blast needs to have quite a fruity zing to it (you can even call it tart, but not harsh!) to really turn your tastebuds ecstatic…

1, 2, 3 … a tricolore of smoothies

what better to start the day than a freshly prepared smoothie? it definitely revives your spirit in the morning and prepares you for the day. having a smoothie maker helps, but if you have a high-speed blender it will do the trick as well.

combining fruits and vegetables in a smoothie is a great thing, giving you the best of both worlds. personally, i am not a big fan of bananas in smoothies, as they tend to give a texture an unwanted sliminess (at least in my opinion) – hence the recipes below are banana-free. i also don’t like my smoothies too sweet, if you like it sweeter, just use more apple.

the recipes below should be enough for two servings.

THE GREEN VARIETY

avocado-smoothie

ingredients:

  • half an apple (the core removed)
  • half an avocado
  • a good handfull of lamb’s lettuce (thoroughly washed)
  • a quarter of a cucumber (peeled)
  • fresh ginger (about the size of half a thumb, peeled)
  • juice of half a lemon

dice all the ingredients, apart from the lamb’s lettuce and add to the smoothie maker or blender. add the lemon juice and enough water (or juice, if you like it sweeter) to have the mixture roughly covered – don’t overdo the liquid, rather use too little and add more if needed during the blending process. blend until smooth and you end up with a nicely green colour.

THE RED VARIETY

beetroot-smoothie

ingredients:

  • half an apple (the core removed)
  • one small to medium size fresh beetroot (peeled)
  • a quarter of a cucumber (peeled)
  • fresh ginger (the size of half a thumb, peeled)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a slight dash of sesame oil (untoasted), or any other quality vegetable oil

dice all the ingredients and add to the smoothie maker or blender. add the lemon juice, the oil and, as before, as much water as needed to smoothly blend. the fresh beetroot will retain some texture during the blending, which makes this smoothie quite thick and soupy. fresh beetroot is much sweeter than the cooked variety and it balances its earthiness very well. i call this my vampire smoothie 🙂

THE ORANGE VARIETY

carrot-smoothie

ingredients:

  • half an apple (the core removed)
  • one carrot (about 12-15cm in size)
  • a quarter of a cucumber (peeled)
  • fresh ginger (the size of a third of a thumb, peeled)
  • fresh turmeric/kurkuma root (the size of a thumbnail, peeled)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a  slight dash of sesame oil (untoasted), or any other quality vegetable oil

dice all the ingredients and add to the smoothie maker or blender. add the lemon juice, the oil and, as before, as much water as needed to smoothly blend (you might want to use orange juice instead of water, it uplifts the colour even more). the turmeric adds a wonderful flavour and the colour is like summer sun in a cup.

———–

as i LOVE ginger, there is ginger featured in all those smoothies (especially as fresh ginger is so good for you!), as to taste you can use less ginger though – a thumbnail in size will do as well. though one can never have enough of a good thing, right?!

(if you wonder about the oil in the smoothies, this is needed for your digestive system to get most of the fat soluble vitamins from mixture – the smoothie with avocado doesn’t need oil, as avocado is quite rich in natural and healthy fat ;))

a clean dessert free of added sugar: vegan pear, grape and riesling sorbet

this is such a winner that it nearly becomes a frozen cocktail … by adding the wine you bring a really nice extra to the sorbet:

pear, grape and riesling sorbet

grape pear and riesling sorbet

this is one of the few of my recipes that requires some preparation. for one serving wash a  ripe pear (no need to cut the peel off), cut into quarters  and cut out the core. then cut the qaurtered pear into chunks. put in a small bowl and splash with lemon juice and put into the freezer to freeze them (takes about two hours, depending on your freezer). i used a williams pear, as i find them really juicy and full of flavour when they are ripe and you need a juicy pear for the sorbet to work. wash a handfull of green grapes (they need to be seedless) and freeze those as well.

once they are fully frozen, put the pear chunks and the grapes (put one or two pieces of the pear aside for decoration) in a food processor  and add a good splash of dry riesling and process well so you get a smooth sorbet. while you process it, you might need to add more riesling, the amount of wine you need depends on your food processor, as sometimes the frozen pieces of fruit get stuck when there is not enough liquid added. for a non-alcoholic version you can use lemon juice (for a tarter taste) or grape juice (for a sweeter taste).

serve immediately in a cocktail glass – before adding the sorbet, i added two chunks of frozen pear to the bottom of the glass. it is a really clean tasting dessert which contains only natural sugar and is quite a winner to finish a vegan meal! even a non-vegan will cherish it 🙂

roasted sweet potatoes with a coriander avocado dip … fully vegan and full of colour

time for some food again. as halloween is nearing i shall stay with pumpkin-colour, though this time not via pumpkins but via sweet potatoes:

roasted sweet potatoes with a coriander avocado dip

sweet potato and coriander guacamole

depending on the size of your baking dish, use one or two sweet potatoes (they are usually quite large – one is more than enough for one person). cut of the peel, halve them lengthwise and then cut into finger-thick chunks and quickly wash them. in a baking dish, drizzle them with melted coconut oil, season with fleur de sel, white pepper and chili flakes and a splash of lemon juice. mix well with your hands so the sweet potato chunks are evenly coated.

put them in a preheated oven at medium heat or under the grill and bake/roast them for about 20-30 mins. stir occasionally so they cook and slightly brown evenly. they are done when you can prick them easily with a fork. their flesh is quite succulent and sweet-moreish in taste 🙂

i prefer to let them cool down slightly before serving, as then you can eat them with your hands (it is a bit like having a fancy version of chunky chips!)

for the dip quickly mash up an avocado with a splash or two of lemon (or lime) juice with a fork – i prefer a fork to a food processor as the avocado will retain more texture that way, like in a chunky guacamole. add a finely chopped clove of garlic and a tablespoon full of finely chopped coriander leaves and season with fleur de sel and chili flakes. you can add a chopped fresh chili as well if you want the dip to have more of a hot flavour!

i would recommend to prepare the dip about an hour before serving as then the garlic and coriander can develop their flavour better – cover with cling film until serving and stir it again before bringing it to the table.

use chili flakes for garnish on both the sweet potatoes and the dip. i use chili flakes as garnish on most savoury foods, it always adds a nice touch of colour (not that the green dip and orange vegetables really require it though, but still…). serve with a nice glass of chilled white wine – a good chardonnay is a perfect partner!

roasted hokkaido with chili and lime

hokkaido is so versatile … it blends well with coconut (see my hokkaido curry recipe) and is a delight roasted too. a quickish and easy recipe!

roasted hokkaido with chili and lime

roasted hokkaido

all you need is half a hokkaido, deseeded and cut into pieces (about half a finger long and thick). place them in an ovenproof dish and cover them in a dressing made of lime juice (about 2 tablespoons), melted coconut oil (about 2 tablespoons … but you can substitue any other oil as well, though a mild oil would be best, i.e. a nut-oil. olive oil does jar a bit with the other flavours here, so i would not recommend that), maple sirup or runny honey (about 1-2 teaspoons), a chopped deseeded fresh chili, one chopped clove of garlic, a couple of pinches of fleur de sel and a couple of pinches of chili flakes.

mix the hokkaido well with the dressing and put in the oven or under the grill at a medium heat for about 30-45 minutes – the hokkaido should be soft and slightly browned. stir occasionally! for garnish sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves on top (or basil, which i did as i had run out of coriander).

serve with a side of mixed lettuce and you have a wonderful vegan (if you use maple syrup) or vegetarian (if you use honey) meal! it partners perfectly with a glass of sauvignon blanc or riesling.

an organic and tasty cuppa … tea (for two?) – with a flavoursome tomatosnack

having gone off coffee since my sugar detox (even though i have a nice and strong espresso every now and then, i don’t enjoy coffee on a regular basis anymore), my tastebuds have rediscovered tea. green, black, white, herbal infusions … the whole lot.

i find organic tea tastier and it gives me a much cleaner frame of mind (in hope it being harvested ecologically!). usually when enjoying tea, i prefer loose tea, as the quality is higher than the teabag variety – though with herbal tea the difference is not that big.

a good cuppa (just not in a builder’s mug!!!) never goes amiss … morning, midday, afternoon, evening, nighttime. whenever, wherever – preparing tea is soothing and the heady aroma that fills the air when you do a fresh brew is so therapeutic.

there are two brands i favour: hampstead tea london and løv organic

tea for two tea for two too

hampstead tea london offers no-nonsense classic flavours and mixes – their english breakfast is strong in taste but not too bitter (this is the variety you see in the cuppa above) and i enjoy it most en naturel. their earl grey is quite perfumed with bergamot but does not taste like eau de cologne (as some earl greys do) and their oolong is a real star with a golden colour and a slight natural fragrance of peaches. simply divine!

løv organic has a huge variety of herbal infusions and flavoured teas – they all come in their signature tins. i am very partial to their black tea with rose and their linden/rose infusion, both of which you can see in the picture above.

having said that, i have become a tea purist … citrus flavours are great and flowery aromas as well but i find fruit aromas quite apalling for black and green tea (strawberry aroma in black tea? YUCK!). but as always, you go with what your palate prefers!

and actually, for an afternoon or lunchtime snack with a nice cup of freshly prepared black tea (i.e. a darjeeling), why not try oven grilled/roasted cherry tomatoes with summer savory:

roasted tomatoes

i know it sounds strange, but it does work with tea. of course it works as a normal evening snack with wine as well.

cut as many cherry tomatoes as you like in half and put them in an ovenproof dish with the cut side up. sprinkle some sea salt and chili flakes on top and drizzle with olive oil. put under the grill and oven roast on a low heat for about an hour – the tomatoes will semi-dry (similar to the recipe i posted a while ago) and get real intensity in flavour. 5 minutes before the end add some summer savory and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top. the savory will then slightly wilt under the heat and release its flavour into the oil.

serve the tomatoes either lukewarm or at room temperature. it is a healthy and pretty snack! make your own teatime ceremony out of it!