Popping in to give you lovely lot a bonus recipe to celebrate this Easter break. I present you Gluten Free Chocolate Quinoa Nests. Think a healthier version of chocolate rice crispy cakes. Because what better way to celebrate a few extra days off than with chocolate? I’ve loaded these up with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and a little coconut oil. Meaning these little bites of awesomeness have the added punch of amino acids, protein, magnesium and omega 3’s! Hip hip hooray for Easter ey?! Read more
I have many fond memories of long afternoons spent in our local park, picnic-ing under the summer skies. My parents had a good group of friends, all with little ones of similar ages, and we would all congregate on the grass for big picnics. We would run around, learn to ride our bikes, or spend hours testing out our new roller skates, and occasionally run back to the group to grab a snack and re-fuel. We must have clocked up a fair few hours in that lovely park. Whenever I go there now, those memories all come flooding back. I am grateful for a happy upbringing, with so much time spent outdoors.
We haven’t really had the right weather for picnics this year, and the British nation is patiently waiting some serious sunshine (rumour has it some heat is on its way this week). I decided that I wasn’t going to let the weather stop us from eating alfresco this weekend, so we opted for a garden picnic. Our new kitchen leads directly out into the back garden, so it’s handy for running back inside if it does start to rain, which coincidentally, it did! Picnic foods aren’t just great for alfresco dining, I love simple, quick bites that you can throw together for a quick, fuss free dinner in the week.
Whilst I try to make wholesome, homemade recipes most days, sometimes you just need something you can grab and go – right? That’s why I love Higgidy’s range of pies and quiches. Higgidy’s range of products offer a large range of delicious flavour combinations, and make a great picnic addition. Each product is handmade (no robots here) with love. I’m taking part in their #HiggidyPicnic and bringing this zesty quinoa and sweet potato salad along with me! Quinoa is great (incase you didn’t already know!) as it contains iron, magnesium, B vitamins, calcium, and is one of only a few plant-based foods that is a complete protein. It’s also vegan and gluten-free, yay!
- 1 sweet potato (scrubbed)
- ½ aubergine
- 1 cup / 190g quinoa (I used a mix of red and white)
- Lemon thyme (optional)
- ½ cup/120ml extra virgin olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Handful fresh oregano
- Olive Oil - for roasting
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190 C
- Chop the sweet potato and aubergine, place on a lined baking tray, scatter with S+P, lemon thyme (if using) and coconut oil. Place in the oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until the veg is soft.
- Rinse your quinoa in a sieve under some cold water. Place in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Put on a hob and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and let it cook for 15 mins (you want to retain a little bite in the quinoa)
- While that's cooking, make your dressing.
- Add all the dressing ingredients to a blender (or into a jug and use a stick blender) and blitz for 10 seconds, taste and check for seasoning.
- Once the quinoa has cooked, drain any excess liquid, then add the quinoa to a large mixing bowl.
- Add in the roasted veg, and a good glug of your dressing.
- Stir it well so the quinoa can absorb the dressing.
- Enjoy al fresco.
See who else is joining the #higgidypicnic ;
This recipe is sponsored by Higgidy. All opinions are my own, stay individual friends.
I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Some people turn to comfort foods in winter. Hearty stews, pies and baked dishes. Me? I turn to salads. I need to be reminded of warmer, lighter days in the depths of winter. Nothing does that better (well, other than a rare warm sunny day) than the taste, colours and texture of a vibrant salad. Salads remind me that summer is only just around the corner, a few months away. That these cold nights and frosty mornings will soon subside.
I discovered this wonderful dressing a while back while having a read of one of my favourite blogs. Laura cooks with colour and vibrance and her creations are just gorgeous. This dressing reminds me of sunshine.
These garlic butter beans keep this salad hearty and have a creamy texture that pairs beautifully with the crunch from the fennel and carrot.
Winter Salad with Garlic Beans and Goji Dressing (v) (gf)
180g cooked quinoa
1 carrot (grated)
1 tin butter beans (drained and rinsed) – or 200g soaked and cooked
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of ½ lemon
Find the Goji salad dressing recipe here
Get all your ingredients ready.
To make the garlic beans:
Add beans, oil, tahini, lemon juice and S+P into a bowl. Crush a garlic clove and add it in.
Use a fork to roughly mash the mix. Don’t over mash. You want to see some beans whole, and some squished.
Slice the fennel into small slithers, keeping fronds to scatter on top.
Arrange the quinoa, spinach, carrot in a bowl. Add the beans and drizzle with goji dressing.
We’ve been living a life afloat for nearly two years now. 2 years of boat life, cruising through some of the finest countryside that the South West has to offer. 2 years living a simpler way of life. 2 years on our well-loved, 55ft, semi-traditional mass of steel. Since living on the boat, we’ve only really made minor changes to her. Removing some shelves here, a bit of paint there. Slowly adding our touch, but not anything life changing or dramatic. It’s taken me quite a long time to feel like she is our home. I spent a long time feeling like I was living in someone else’s space, someone else’s dream.
Last week, we realised we had
quite a bad rot problem in the wood underneath our lino floor. When you step down into the boat and almost put your foot through the floorboards, you know you’ve got issues. Being the calm soul that I am, I dealt with this in an adult and gentle manner. Ha, who am I kidding. I huffed and I puffed around the boat, crying to Charlie that this was a faff and we can’t afford to redo the whole floor etc etc. He calmed me down (like he does so well) and told me we he would sort it. However, ‘sorting it’ meant stripping out the back end of the boat, to get to the problem area. We emptied the wardrobes, cleared the cobwebs and ripped up those floor boards. It was a faff, but not as much as we first thought. We got it sorted and now have a sturdy floor again.
With everything out, we realised we had a LOT of space at the back end of the boat. Space that was being wasted, empty space to lose shoes and bags in. We decided it was high time to put our touch on our little water baby. ‘I COULD HAVE A STUDIO’ I squealed. Drenched in natural light, this corner of the boat would be perfect. We settled on a nice little desk come storage area, a space to work at, but that was practical and a space for clothes and shoes too. We managed to up-cycle the old wardrobes into a thing of beauty. Charlie is a talented man, and within 2 days, the area was transformed.
Now, as I enter our boat, I smile. I want to spend all day in that little alcove. Stuart the succulent has a new home, a pretty little corner spot by the window. Pictures, that have sat in storage, are now getting hung in pride of place. Shoes can be neatly stored. Our beloved books can be shown off on their shiny new shelves. It might seem like a little thing, but it’s made us so happy. There’s a few bits of paint to touch up, a few holes to fill, but it’s ours.
Now, enough about DIY. These waffles. I recently acquired a waffle iron, and have had so much fun experimenting with flavours. This particular waffle recipe is that perfect savoury taste, with subtle hints of turmeric, and filled with quinoa to fuel you up for the day ahead. They come together quickly, perfect for those days which just get too busy.
Courgette Quinoa Waffles (v) (gf)
185g (1 cup) cooked quinoa
125g buckwheat flour
200ml nut milk (I used cashew milk)
1/2 courgette – grated
1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water (1 flax ‘egg’)
1 tsp turmeric
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt + pepper
1 tsp coconut oil – to coat the waffle iron
If using an electric waffle maker, turn it on. If you are using an over-the-hob iron, sit it on the hob and lightly oil it.
Combine your ground flax and water in a bowl, stir well and leave to rest for 5 mins.
Add all ingredients except your milk, into a bowl. Add in the flax egg. Mix well.
Add the milk in slowly, until you reach a batter consistency (add more or less milk if needed, but you don’t want the mix too runny)
Once your waffle iron / maker is hot, pour batter into moulds, taking care not to over fill.
Cook for 6-10 mins (if using a waffle iron, turn it regularly on the hob, so it can cook evenly)
I’m adding this recipe to some fantastic link-ups!
“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
OK, I love these little things. Like LOVE them. So much so that I contemplated not sharing the recipe, I wanted these little bad boys all to myself. But where’s the fun in that? Plus, sharing is caring, right?
These beauties are so easy to make (especially if you cook the quinoa the day before), and super charge an otherwise dull lunchbox! They are ready after an hour or so, and because you are using a high percentage dark chocolate, you don’t even need to feel guilty about going back for another one, and another, and another…
Chocolate Quinoa Crunch Bars
Makes 6-8 Crunch Bars – For a larger tub / tray, double up all ingredients. (I used a tuppawear 8″ X 6″)
250g Organic Dark Chocolate (I used G&B’s 90% cocoa)
100g Dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
100g Mixed chopped nuts (I used almonds, pecans and walnuts)
2 ½ tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to Gas Mark ½ (120 C)
Line a tuppawear or tray with cling film.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, cook the quinoa for 12 minutes (cooking times may vary so double check the instructions on the pack). Once cooked, drain the quinoa and spread in a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 45 mins (or until quinoa has dried out, make sure you stir regularly)
Once quinoa has dried out, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add the quinoa, and fry until crispy (be careful not to burn). You want the quinoa to turn a nice golden brown colour and be crispy to touch.
Once done, remove from pan and transfer onto kitchen roll. Set aside to cool.
Melt 200g chocolate and 2 tablespoons coconut oil slowly in a saucepan over a low heat. As soon as the chocolate and oil have melted and combined, remove from heat.
Add cooked quinoa, chopped nuts and cranberries to the melted chocolate. Mix well.
Spread the chocolate mixture evenly across the tray, pushing it into all corners, making sure the nuts are evenly distributed.
Cool in fridge for 1 hour.
After an hour, melt the remaining chocolate and coconut oil with the maple syrup, pour over the top of the bars. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
Refrigerate for 2 more hours, or overnight if possible. Enjoy, guilt free!