I had it in my head that come my blogs second birthday I would try to create something special. I was thinking I still had a couple of weeks left but it turns out my blog turned two last month *Happy Birthday to Me!* How did I miss this? 2 years have flown by. I feel I have come a long way since my first blog post (and I cringe at that photo)! But I am currently struggling to find time to create and share with my dear readers. I read this post recently and it completely sums up my feelings about blogging. I love blogging and the opportunities it brings me, but I feel so much pressure to put all my time and energy into it if I want to make it ‘big’. Trying to juggle a full-time job and a blog is HARD, unless you want to sacrifice any leisure time you do have. I wanna hang with my friends, I wanna laze on the sofa at the weekend, I want to explore the land on these short winter days. I don’t always want to plan my day around daylight hours and how much time I have to get a photo in the perfect light. Posts will still be coming, so bear with me, some may have one image, some may have seven. I think keeping things different is the key to a long, happy life. So here’s to slow blogging, slow living and a long life.
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.
There has been an awful lot in the media recently about the healthy/’clean’ eating craze. Foodies and cookbook authors have been getting a lot of bad press. The thought is that the ‘clean-eating’ phase is getting taken to the extreme by some people, resulting in eating disorders. The media deems it necessary to target the current top ‘wellness’ stars and pick faults. It saddens me that as a nation we always need to pick a target and point the blame at someone. Some of the people who are being targeted are some of my main inspiration sources. They do not tell you what will work for you, just what has worked for them. They believe in a balanced lifestyle and use natural ingredients and healthy fats. If that encourages someone to cook a homemade meal instead of a ready meal then I think that’s fantastic. I have never been on a diet in my life, and don’t intend to. As soon as I tell myself I can’t have something, it is all I want. Moderation is key. I listen to my body, some days it needs extra carbs, some days it’s happy on salads. My plant based diet, and regular exercise, makes me feel good, in my mind and in my body. I also love cake. Life is about balance. As Michael Pollan said; Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
If you are a regular here, you’ll know my love for beets is high. Those pure purple hearts with their bright pink juice. I love it in stews, salads and this awesome hummus, yeah, beets are my bag! We eat salads a lot here in our floating abode. We pretty much have the same 5 salads on rotation every week. It’s easy for dinner and sometimes we are both too exhausted after work to cook anything different. Every now and again, I fuel us up with a hearty stew, something a bit comforting after a long day at work.
I was recently sent this gorgeous Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish from Steamer Trading. The dish is from their Vida Brazil range. I’m totally crushing on the colour – Marseille Blue – it reminds me of roaming French hypermarkets as a child and gazing at all their kitchenware. Steamer Trading Cookshop have a vast range of kitchen cookwear. Set up in 1985 by Liz and David, they opened their first store in Sussex. Now with multiple stores across the UK, they’re firmly established as one of the nation’s favourite cookshops. I’ve currently got my eye on a shallower casserole dish to match the one I made this stew in. I need more baking tins and adore this cute heart shaped one! They also offer free delivery on orders over £45 – all the more reason to stock up your kitchen supplies.
This Beetroot Bourguignon is an adaption of a lovely recipe from A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones.
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see my daily eats!
- Glug of extra virgin olive oil (or 2 tablespoons coconut oil)
- 2 shallots
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped)
- 3 large beetroot
- 2 carrots
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 bay leaves
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 500ml vegetable stock
- ¾ cup pearl barley
- OPTIONAL - 150ml red wine
- First, finely dice your shallots.
- Then, peel and roughly chop your beets, carrots and sweet potato.
- Place a casserole dish on a medium heat on the hob, add in a glug of oil and throw in the shallots. Stir well to coat them. Add in a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the onions for 5 minutes.
- Next, add the garlic, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Now, add all your vegetables, stock, tomato puree, harissa and pearl barley. If using, add in the wine.
- Simmer gently for 40 minutes. Enjoy with some crusty bread.
I’m adding my recipe to these awesome link ups;
Steamer Trading Cookshop sent me the Le Creuset pan you can see in my images. I was not paid to write a positive review, and of course, all opinions are entirely my own. Happy cooking!
Life is too short to eat bad food.
I’m not one for diets, I am a firm believer in everything in moderation. I am lucky that I enjoy healthier foods, so eating a bit greener isn’t a big deal for me.
Now, I know what you’re all thinking. “Cookies?? I’m supposed to be doing [insert latest diet trend here] for January. I can’t eat cookies” – well my friends, you can.
These cookies are loaded with soothing ginger (perfect to kick that winter cold out the door), vitamin packed sweet potato, and immune boosting coconut oil.
This recipe is quite loose. Use different flour / omit oats if you wish.
Sweet Potato and Ginger Cookies (V)
Makes 6 – 8
1 medium sweet potato (peeled)
220g self-raising wholemeal flour
80g jumbo oats
80g unrefined brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon ground flax
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon each ground ginger / cinnamon (for roasting)
Large pinch nutmeg
Zest from 1 orange
Couple of drops of vanilla extract
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6 / 200 oC
Cut the peeled sweet potato into chunks and place on a lined baking tray. Toss in a small amount of melted coconut oil, the ground ginger and cinnamon. Roast in oven for approx. 45 mins (or until very soft).
Once cooked, remove and set to one side to cool.
Turn oven down to Gas Mark 5.
In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, bicarb, spices and grated ginger. Mix well.
In a saucepan, melt the coconut oil over a low heat and stir in the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar starts to dissolve.
In a bowl, mix ground flax with 2 teaspoons water and leave for 5 mins.
Mash the cooled potato into a puree. Add to the sugar mix with orange zest, flax mix and vanilla. Whisk well.
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix just until you get a dough type mixture.
On a lined baking tray, drop spoonfuls of the dough, evenly spread out.
Bake for 10-15 mins, until the edges start to brown.
Remove from oven, leave to cool for 5 mins before placing on a cooling rack to complete cooling.
There was a time, back when I didn’t have much interest in food, that I could not handle my spice. I mean, even a korma was too much for me. I’d steer well clear of anything with even a hint of chilli in.
Fast forward to a few years later and I love it. I love it a bit too much sometimes. I have a bad habit of making eye watering dishes, which we then both struggle to eat without following each mouthful with a pint of water.
This dish turned out to be one of those times, I may have got a little bit over excited with the seasoning, more is more, right? However it was still packed full of flavour, and a great hearty dish to warm you up on these long, cold evenings. Go on, spice up your life.
Jerk Sweet Potato Stew (V)
1 large sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
Handful green beans
1 clove garlic
1 tin butter beans (rinsed well and drained)
1-3 tablespoons jerk spice (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tin coconut milk
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190 C
Dice the onion and garlic. Fry onion for 5 mins until translucent, add garlic and cook for 2 more mins.
Add jerk seasoning and stir well. Add sweet potatoes and make sure the potato gets coated in the spices. Fry for 2-4 more mins.
Add mix into large casserole pot. Cover with the coconut milk.
Cook in oven for 25-30 mins.
Add chopped aubergine and beans into the pot. Cook for a further 10 mins.
Serve in bowls with crusty bread, or over quinoa.