Roasted squash, red onion and Brussel sprouts

It’s Day 2 of the Sensitive Foodie Advent calendar. Today I have a simple vegetable dish that can be eaten hot as a side or cold as a salad, useful if you are going to a pot-luck and need to take a dish.

Butternut squash are now readily available all year round. Their thin skins means they soften easily when roasted so you don’t need to spend ages peeling or trying not to cut your fingers off. Lots of the beneficial nutrients are held just under the skin too, so it’s a double bonus.

Many people are still not keen on sprouts, maybe haunted with memories of over-cooked mush served up by eagle-eyed grandparents who insisted they were eaten with no exceptions. But sprouts can be delicious, and roasting in particular brings out their natural sweet flavour. It’s also hard to over-cook them this way too, so no more risk of mush.

The balsamic adds some tartness to the sweet caramelised veg. If you cannot tolerate vinegar, make a simple lemon and olive oil dressing instead. It will still taste delicious.

This simple dish is a cacophony of rainbow phytonutrients that your body will love. All will help keep your cells working well and help support your immune system at this time of year when there’s a multitude of bugs vying to spoil your festive season. So add this to a meal time soon, and don’t forget to let me know how you get on.

Roasted squash, red onion and Brussel sprouts (serves 4-6)
1 medium butternut squash
1 red onion
400g Brussel sprouts
Olive oil
salt and pepper
For the dressing:
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Wash the skin of the squash and trim any rough edges but do not peel. Cut in half, deseed then cut into 2cm thick slices. Wash and trim the sprouts. Peel the onion and cut into thick slices. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top, season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes until the veggies are lightly caramelised and soft to the touch. Remove from the oven.

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small jar and pour over the veg. Either serve warm, or leave to cool and serve as a salad.


Warm beetroot salad with creamy tahini ginger dressing

Summer is still hanging on in there just about. I’m still enjoying dining on big hearty salads packed full of fresh seasonal goodies and a big flavour hit.

I’m a big fan of beetroot – it’s wonderfully vibrant pink after all! Unfortunately, my husband is not a fan, or rather his body isn’t and he has an unpleasantly strong reaction to it (I won’t share the details to save him a little dignity!). It’s a shame, as beetroots are packed full of incredible phytonutrients that have a strong anti-oxidant and detoxifying effect as well as a type of fibre that supports gut health.

Sweet and firm, beetroot is incredibly versatile and can be a key ingredient in both savoury and sweet dishes, although I have to say I’m not a huge fan of it in cake as it can come across a bit strong. Which is unusual as anything that can make cake a health food is normally a winner for me!

Some people avoid beetroot as it gives them beeturia – pink wee. I have read that this is only a small percentage of people and it could be indicative of a problem with metabolising iron in certain circumstances. If you love beetroot but you’re worried about red wee, best seek some medical advice just in case. Just improving you diet by eating more fresh produce could improve your iron metabolism though as well as support your gut, so don’t panic if this affects you.

This simple warm salad is so quick to make and super tasty to eat. It’s packed full of healthy sources of plant proteins and fats as well as lots of different micro and phytonutrients. Why not give it a go, and let me know what you think?

Warm beetroot salad with creamy tahini ginger dressing (serves 2 for a hearty lunch portion, 4 as a side)
3-4 medium sized beetroots
3-4 handfuls mixed salad leaves of choice
half an avocado, sliced
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 tablespoons cooked chickpeas
handful of fresh coriander or parsley, chopped
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of a lime
1 teaspoon maple syrup
4 tablespoons water
1-2cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated
1 small clove garlic, peeled and grated
salt and pepper

Scrub the beetroots well but do not peel. Place in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the beets are soft. Turn off the heat, drain and cover (you can also roast in the oven if you prefer).

Place all the dressing ingredients in the cup of a high-speed blender and blitz for 15 seconds or so until smooth and well combined.

Scatter the leaves in the bottom of large pasta bowls. Carefully peel the still warm beetroot, cut into eights and divide between the two bowls along with the cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and sliced avocado. Drizzle the dressing over the top followed by the chopped fresh herbs and finish with extra salt and pepper if desired. Eat warm, or leave until cool if you prefer. Either way, it’s delicious!

Super crunchy red cabbage and walnut salad

With all the hot weather that’s been around, salad is definitely on the menu. If you find it hard to think up quick and tasty alternatives to satisfy the taste-buds, this crunchy red cabbage and walnut  mix will hit the spot.

I love red cabbage, and enjoy it just as much raw as cooked. My family are not so keen however, as it does have quite a pungent, bitter taste. That’s actually all the marvellous phytonutrients packed within the crisp leaves. Bitter flavours often contain the most medicinal properties, but most of us are not so keen on them. Many types of produce have been cultivated to remove the bitterness to make them more palatable for the general market – think how harsh brussel sprouts used to be. Nowadays they tend to be small and sweet, unlike the tough, bitter bullets I remember from my childhood.

So although these veggies taste more delicious, some of their healing properties have been removed. Not that it’s a waste of time eating them, far from it. They’re not just quite as helpful as they used to be.

One way to make raw cabbage less bitter, and therefore more palatable, is to let it marinate in something salty or acidic for a while. Sauerkraut for example tastes much less bitter, plus contains helpful friendly bacteria from natural fermentation, but it takes a while to make. Leaving cabbage to soak in an acidic dressing for a short period of time does the job really well – and keeps the satisfying crunch too.

Vinegar works well, but for anyone like me who cannot tolerate fermented products that’s not an option. I prefer to keep it simple – fresh lemon juice does the job just as well. Add a little salt and the two combine to help draw out some of the fluid and bitterness, making the cabbage slightly softer and easy one the palate. Try to remember to marinate for a minimum of an hour – longer is even better. But if you forget, do it as soon as you can then finish off constructing the salad at the last minute.

This also works for raw onion. It seems to help make it more digestible and less repeatable later on in the day, something many people suffer from. I’ve used red onion in this recipe, partly because it’s slightly less harsh than yellow but mainly because the red pigments contains extra super-healthy phytonutrients and anti-oxidants.

If you have a nut allergy or intolerance, then walnuts can be replaced with toasted pumpkin seeds. Try and find some big ones to stand out in the salad. Or if you wish to dress it up, add some gorgeous sparkly pomegranate seeds or dairy-free feta or labneh cheese.

That’s it! So with the weather to stay warm for the foreseeable future, why not give this super crunchy simple salad a go? Let me know how you get on.

Red cabbage and walnut salad (4-6 servings)
1/3 medium-sized red cabbage, finely shredded
1 medium red or white onion, finely sliced
50g walnuts, lightly toasted
1 big lemon, juice only
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, coriander and mint)

Place the red cabbage and onion together in a large bowl. Use you fingers to ensure they are combined well. Whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper together in a small jug then pour it into the bowl. Toss well to ensure everything is coated, then leave to marinate.

When you’re ready to serve, add the chopped herbs and walnuts, season with a little extra black pepper, toss together well and serve. That’s it! Enjoy.


Crunchy kohlrabi and carrot salad with creamy chive dressing

Wow what amazing weather we are having here in the UK. Summer has struck early – lets hope it doesn’t peak too early! The last few weeks have seen us undertake a huge house move, so I’m most grateful for the dry spell (and that it wasn’t quite so hot when we did the heavy work!).

It seems I have suddenly swapped from eating warm and comforting soups and stews to crisp and cooling salads. Even though I do eat both all year round, the ingredients and style definitely change once the weather starts warming up. It’s the perfect time of year to start experimenting with a plant-based diet too, as wonderful early summer fresh veggies are making a welcome appearance in the shops.

Kohlrabi appeared in my veg box again recently, so it was the perfect excuse to make a quick crisp and crunchy salad. I’ve talked about kohlrabi before in an earlier blog post (click here to read it) with a similar crunchy salad – this one is different though as it’s slightly quicker to make and the dressing is a gloriously vibrant green.

Part of the allium family, chives contain similar properties to onions, garlic and leeks but have a much more subtle flavour and are often better tolerated by sufferers of IBS or intolerances to this group. Chives contain concentrated amounts of fabulous phytonutrients, and have been used medicinally for hundreds of years, although to get their full benefit you would need to eat more than the scattering normally found as a garnish for salads or baked potatoes!

I love this gorgeous dairy-free dressing; it’s creamy but not heavy with a lovely subtle chivy flavour. And it’s green!  I’ve added a little fresh garlic in too, just to give it an extra burst of helpful nutrients, but feel free to omit it if it’s too much for your palate or gut. It keeps in the fridge for a couple of days, so if you have too much, use it up on baked potatoes, salad or as a veggie burger topping.

Hope you give this a go in the next week or so and enjoy it along with the gorgeous sunshine. Do let me know how you get on!

Kohlrabi and carrot salad with creamy chive dressing (serves 4-6)
1/2 medium kohlrabi, washed and carefully peeled
2 medium carrots
1/4 green (or red) cabbage, shredded
20g (half a pack) chives
pepper to taste
for the dressing
70g cashew nuts or sunflower seeds, soaked for 2 hours
1 clove garlic (optional)
20g (half a pack) chives
120ml water

Finely grate the carrot and kohlrabi and place in a large bowl with the shredded cabbage. Mix together well. Roughly chop the chives, reserve a few then add the rest to the bowl, mixing well.

Drain the soaked cashew nuts or sunflower seeds and place in a high speed blender with the garlic, chives and salt. Cover with the water and blitz for 30 seconds or so until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. Dollop spoonfuls over the salt and carefully stir in. Drizzle a spoonful or so over the top, garnish with reserved chives and some freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Filling warm asparagus and potato salad

We’re right in the middle of asparagus season here in the UK, so I’m taking every opportunity to fill up with these super tasty stems. But it’s not just taste that makes asparagus such an amazing seasonal treat – each stem is packed full of fabulous phytonutrients and fibre that benefit the gut and body as well as the taste-buds (this old blog post tells you more)

As we move through spring with some lovely sunny days, I’m beginning to hanker for lighter meals after a long winters of heavier warming comfort food. Asparagus is the perfect star of a dish that hits the spot. It’s often served with a frothy hollandaise sauce, packed with eggs and butter – not for the dairy-free diner or someone following a plant-based diet! However, asparagus does work well with a sauce; this cashew and tahini dressing is light but creamy and complements rather than dominates these delicious green spears.

I guess this salad could be classified as bowl food – all the rage at the moment, particularly today, the day of the Royal Wedding; Prince Harry and Meghan Merkle are serving bowl food at their wedding reception, shunning tradition once again! And I believe they will be dining on asparagus too, so you could dive in a create this simple dish today and dine like royalty too. Or any day, really, as to be honest, good whole plant-based food doesn’t need the royal seal of approval, just your taste-bud’s! Have a great weekend.

Warm asparagus and potato salad (serves 2)
250g baby new potatoes
6-8 spears asparagus (depending on size)
1/2 bag of baby chard or spinach leaves
6 cherry tomatoes
1/4 head of broccoli cut into small florets
6 small radishes
For the dressing:
50g cashew nuts soaked for a couple of hours
1 tablespoon tahini
juice of half a lemon
lemon rind to decorate (optional)

Rinse the baby potatoes and pop in a steamer basket. Steam the potatoes for 15-20 minutes until soft. Add the broccoli to the basket for the last few minutes and let it steam so it’s still firm but not raw. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.

Scatter the baby chard or spinach in the bottom of two large serving bowls. Rinse and slice the radishes. Wash the asparagus and baby tomatoes. Snap the asparagus in half so the heads and stems are separate. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.

Place the soaked cashews into a high-speed blender jug. Add the tahini, lemon juice, salt and enough water to cover. Blend until smooth, adding more water if it’s too thick. You want it thick but pourable.

Five minutes before the potatoes are ready, heat a small amount of water in the bottom of a non-stick frying pan. Add the asparagus stems and ‘fry’ for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Add the asparagus heads and cherry tomato halves and cook for another couple of minutes until they start to soften and caramelise.

Now it’s time to assemble the salad. Chop the baby potatoes into small pieces and scatter over the leaves along with the broccoli, radishes, cherry tomatoes and asparagus. Spoon dollops of dressing over the top and garnish with lemon rind (if desired) and season to taste. Serve immediately if you want it warm.

Super quick quinoa and brown rice salad

I’m so excited now that the weather is finally improving and we are beginning to see more sunshine. Add that to the long light evenings that we have at this time of year and I’m positively brimming with the joys of Spring!   Some days have already been lovely and warm – fabulous opportunities to get outdoors. Which leads me neatly on to one of my favourite warmer month activities – eating outside.

There’s something so wonderfully compelling about al fresco dining, whether it’s a quick snack, lazy lunch or full on evening gathering with friends. Unfortunately, evening outside eating is still a rarity in the UK, even in the height of summer – or at least it is for me, I get cold too easily! I guess that’s why we find spending time further down in Europe so attractive. It’s certainly one of the influencing factors for our latest adventure – we’re buying a home from home in Portugal! More about that another time though.

It’s great to get invites round to friends for a BBQ or an impromptu dinner; eating whole-food and plant-based means I always offer to takes something with me, partly to take the pressure of the host who may not be used to cooking that way, and partly to make sure I get something to eat! Sometimes this can be a bit of a challenge though, especially if it’s a last-minute arrangement and the fridge is looking rather empty! That’s when you need a quick and easy fall-back dish to take; this wholegrain salad can be rustled up in a minute. Literally!

Since changing the way I eat, I spend little time in the supermarket aisles dominated by packets of processed foods. It actually makes shopping much quicker! There are however still a few items that I always make sure we have in the cupboard – sachets of pre-cooked wholegrain is one of them.

It’s not the cheapest way of buying whole-grains, but a fantastic time-saver and remarkably versatile. You still need to take care and check the ingredients label, as some brands add in a wide selection of flavourings and preservatives, as well as refined oils. Plus you need to make sure the word ‘wholegrain’ is on the packet otherwise you will be losing vital nutrients and fibre. Quinoa and wholegrain rice is my favourite combination; a tiny bit of olive oil helps it not to stick together in the pack, otherwise that’s all there is in the sachet. That means that the only other flavours are the ones I choose to add, ones that are natural and as whole as possible. They are a great quick option for people with food intolerances or sensitivities too, or for anyone who needs to look for gluten-free options.

I always have fresh herbs in my fridge – this is a great way to use up any bits and bobs left over from other recipes. My little herb garden out the back is also coming to life, giving me another source of flavour. This particular recipe asks for a combination of parsley, coriander and mint – that’s what I had in the fridge! But they are a naturally a great combo anyway (phew!). Add in some alfalfa or other sprouted seeds if you have them along with some toasted seeds like pumpkin and a good amount of seasoning and bam, there you have it – a simple yet super-tasty salad in the blink of an eye. Not only that, but it’s a great way to use up left-overs and reduce food waste (herbs are one of the most commonly thrown away foods). If you have a bit more time, soak some sultanas or raisins in hot water to plump them up before adding them in. Or chop up bits of cucumber or radish for an extra crunch. Let your imagination fly and see what combo you can come up with, and enjoy it with friends – or just yourself if you prefer!

Super quick quinoa and brown rice salad
1 sachet (250g) cooked quinoa and brown rice
3 tablespoons fresh herbs (parsley, coriander, mint etc) finely chopped
2 tablespoons sprouted seeds (alfalfa, broccoli seeds etc)
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir well then taste, add more seasoning or herbs as needed. Serve chilled.



Incredible cruciferous part 2

My last post “Incredible Cruciferous” looked at the range of veggies to try in this group and their amazing nutritional properties, as well a few suggested recipes to try out. This time, I want to share some top tips on how to get maximum benefit from these gorgeous vegetables – and a new recipe idea to try out too.

Cruciferous vegetables are determined to provide us with their beneficial properties. Scientists have discovered that raw or cooked cruciferous vegetables have different effects and benefits at varying stages in the gut. In freshly picked broccoli, for example, enzymes stay active for 48 hours. If that broccoli is eaten raw in this time, the enzymes are absorbed more readily in the upper part of the gut; these nutrients then head straight to the liver to be put to good use. Excellent! Storage and heat deactivates these enzymes, however, so the older or more cooked, the less these enzymes are available for absorption in the higher part of the gut. All is not lost though, because bacteria that live in the lower part of the gut reactivate the enzymes. This ensures the nutrients are absorbed as well as keeps the lower gut healthy. It’s a win-win!

Here are some other top tips about eating these super health-supporting vegetables:

  • Food preparation makes a difference. Chopping or cutting these vegetables activates enzymes. So prepare your vegetables and then leave for a few minutes before either eating raw or cooking. This makes the nutrients available throughout the gut.
  • Steam or simmer in soup or stews is the better way to preserves the active enzymes and nutrients; the high heats of boiling or microwaving is too hostile
  • Eat plenty but don’t eat too much! There is evidence that eating excessive amounts of cruciferous vegetables every day for a period of time could lead to an underactive thyroid. There is evidence that a lady who ate 1 -1.5kg of bok choi every day caused her thyroid to stop functioning. This is an extreme amount! So what is a safe amount? A study found that eating 150g brussel sprouts every day for a month had no detrimental effect on thyroid function – that’s still a lot of sprouts!

Kohlrabi is one of the more unusual veggies in this group. Not found so often in supermarkets, they turn up in my Riverford veg box every now and then, and it’s always a joy because I love the crunchy texture. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Recipes mainly focus on the bulb, but the leaves can be eaten too, although better cooked when larger. And who wouldn’t want to eat them – this photo is from a gorgeous purple kohlrabi that turned up in my box this week; the leaves are so pretty!

Packed with vitamin C and B vitamins, kohlrabi also has a good amount of potassium, and in particular has an excellent sodium:potassium ratio, which means it’s good for maintaining blood pressure and heart health. And of course it provides a good dose of fibre, keeping your guts healthy and happy.

This salad is quick to make, light and refreshing, perfect for the hot weather we have been having recently. It’s an excellent side dish for a BBQ, so why not give it a go the next time you light the coals for some summer time dining?

Kohlrabi, carrot and daikon salad (makes 4 large servings)

1 medium kohlrabi
3 medium carrots
1-2 daikon radish
2 spring onions, finely chopped
couple of handfuls of fresh coriander
sprinkle toasted seeds (optional)
For the dressing:
4 heaped tablespoons dairy free yoghurt
1-2 tablespoons tahini
juice of a lime
salt and pepper

Grate the kohlrabi, carrots and radish on a large hole (or get out the spiralizer if you have one). Place in a bowl with the chopped spring onion and half of the fresh coriander. Mix well.

Place the dressing ingredients into a small blender bowl and whizz to mix well. Taste and add more lime, salt or tahini as needed. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix well. Sprinkle the remaining chopped coriander and toasted seeds over the top and serve. Enjoy!

Asparagus and slow roasted tomato salad

As anyone who has been to one of my supper clubs or eaten at my house at this time of year, I am just a little obsessed with asparagus. Packed full of wonderful nutrients and super-healthy fibre (see for more info), it’s one of my favourite vegetables that I try to eat as much as possible – but only when it’s in season. Fresh asparagus that has travelled thousands of miles in a aeroplane is too costly (for the environment). And is something as pleasurable if you can have it all the time?

Raw or cooked, asparagus hits the spot every time for me. Delicate, thin stalks with a satisfying snap can be nibbled straight from the pack, whereas thicker, more sturdy stems need a little attention, particularly if you want to avoid a mouthful of woody bottom! For the end of the stems where they’ve been cut are just too full of insoluble fibre, rather stringy for our mouths and digestive systems to deal with. You can trim them with a knife, but I tend to use the Jamie Oliver method of snapping off the ends with my hands – if you hold the stem with your fingers and sharply snap the ends down, they tend to naturally break where the woody ends and the digestible begins.

Sometimes I shave off thin strips of asparagus from thicker stems to include in a salad, but generally give them a very quick steam. Separating the stems and the delicate tips is essential to avoid over-cooking. Once the water is simmering in the pan, I pop the steamer basket with the stems over the top for a minute or so (depending on thickness), add the tips for another minute then whip the steaming basket away. Cooking will continue if the asparagus is left in the steaming basket, so unless they are being served straight away, it’s a good idea to tip them out onto a plate to release the heat.

Asparagus and tomatoes look gorgeous together. The colour of food in front of me contributes towards my enjoyment – red and green are complimentary colours on the colour wheel, so look rather gorgeous together. In the UK, our tasty home grown tomatoes are not available until much later in the year, way past asparagus season. Roasting at a lower heat helps to release some of the natural tomato sweetness, as well as activate some of the super-healthy phytonutrients held within, making this salad nutrient packed and absolutely delicious. If you’re in a hurry, prepare the tomatoes the day before if you have the oven on – they keep in the fridge just fine.

So why not give this a go whilst the asparagus season is upon us – your tastebuds and your tummy will love you for it!

Asparagus and slow roasted tomato salad

1 bag of spinach, rocket or watercress leaves (or a mixture of all)
1 bunch chunkier asparagus (about 250g)
1 ripe avocado peeled and chopped into chunks
300g pack cherry tomatoes
handful of sprouted seeds (like alfalfa)
flaxseed oil
dairy free parmesan cheese

Prepare the tomatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 160ºc. Wash the tomatoes, cut in half and spread out on a non-stick baking tray. Place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes or so until the tomatoes are soft and slightly dried out. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Wash and trim the asparagus. Separate the tips from the stems. Boil some water in the base of a steamer. Once it’s simmering nicely, pop the stems in the basket and steam for a minute or so. Add the tips, steam for another minute then remove the asparagus from the steamer and tip onto a place to cool.

Spread the salad leave over the bottom of a large dish then layer with asparagus and avocado, then arrange the roasted tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle sprouted seeds and dairy free parmesan (like this cashew parmesan recipe ) over the top and finish with a glug of flaxseed or extra virgin olive oil.

Wednesday night parsnips

I do love a good parsnip! And the ones that turned up in the Riverford veg box yesterday were voluptuous and ready for some action.

The usual route (or should it be root ;)) for any parsnips that enters the house is spicy parsnip soup, swiftly followed by a roasting. Simple but packed with flavour. But this weeks veg box contained a parsnip recipe that I hadn’t tried before – skordalia – so the fate of the gorgeously creamy roots was sealed.

I had never heard of skordalia before, but apparently it’s a side dish from Greece traditionally made with potatoes; Bob the Riverford chef had substituted parsnips for the spuds, and it does taste might fine.

As with most recipes I come across, it did need The Sensitive Foodie touch to make it dairy and gluten free; I also used whole almonds and chopped them as I like to have my nuts with optimum fibre content and I substituted flaxseed oil for the olive oil to increase the omega 3 content. I used Mrs Crimbles breadcrumb mix as that was open, but have notice that Waitrose now do their own gluten free breadcrumbs, which are completely rice based. Of course, if you’re ok with wheat and gluten, then go for normal fresh breadcrumbs as I can imagine they make the dish even more thick and gloopy.

The final product was seriously gorgeous, and would go perfectly with a nut or lentil loaf and a pile of roast potatoes. Not that’s what we had for dinner! But the quiche was still good with it!You may not think of parsnips as a ‘healthy food’ but, as with all veggies, they do having surprising nutritional benefits. For one they are a great source of soluble fibre, so keep our guts healthy and won’t upset those with IBS too much. They also have a good amount of vitamin C, potassium and B vitamins, which are all needed for cell activity. There’s even a reasonable amount of manganese as well as a whole range of phytonutrients that are thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect and help protect against certain cancers. Not bad for a simple root vegetable!

So here is the recipe – there was a little left over, so I’m looking forward to lunch!

Parsnip skordalia (Riverford recipe with Sensitive Foodie adjustments!)
500g parsnips
400ml dairy free milk
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, peeled
30g gluten free breadcrumbs/fresh breadcrumbs
handful almonds, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
glug of flaxseed oil/olive oil
salt and pepper
Peel and chop the parsnips into small chunks and pop into a saucepan with the dairy free milk, bay leaf and garlic cloves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes or so until the parsnip is soft and mushy. Turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Strain the parsnips and garlic but reserve the milk. Discard the bay leaf. Pop the parsnip and garlic into a food processor with a little of the cooking milk and blend until smooth. Add the almonds, breadcrumbs and some salt and pepper and blitz again for a moment to combine everything together. Add the oil and lemon juice and blitz briefly. Check the flavours and consistency and add more seasoning. milk or lemon as needed. Serve and enjoy!

Comforting cabbage

There’s no getting away from it, winter is looming. The cold, frosty mornings and all-too-early dark evenings say it all. At this time, I’m rummaging in the cupboard for my woolly hat and gloves, and dipping into my old cookbooks to hunt out my favourite comfort recipes to warm me up.

What constitutes ‘comfort food’ is different for everyone, but generally they’re warming, satisfying, and, if not careful, can be lethal for the waistline! Now that I eat plant based and dairy and gluten free, I still have my comfort foods – thick sumptuous stews, heart warming soups and gorgeous puddings – they’re just slightly different.

Nutritionally, cabbage is an amazing vegetable, packed full of nutrients and phytonutrients that have a range of beneficial properties. It’s part of the cruciferous family, a group of veg that you may well have heard me go on about (it includes cauliflower and broccoli), that’s anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants and specific phytonutrients that have anti-cancer properties. Plus, cabbage is really good for the stomach and gut lining, keep unfriendly bacteria under control.

Red cabbage is even better than green. Its deep rich colour contains even more antioxidants and polyphenols, a specific group of phyto-nutrients as well as loads more vitamin C, B6 and manganese. Mix that with the probiotic properties of cooked apple (see apple cake posting for more info) and the super sulphur properties of onion, you’ve got a pretty nutritionally packed dish that also tastes gorgeous! So why not try this one chilly evening, and curl up in front of the fire with a dish that will give your taste buds and your body a big healing hug!

Slow braised red cabbage
1 medium sized red cabbage shredded
1 large red onion, sliced
1 large cooking apple, sliced
2 teaspoons dried mix herbs
couple handfuls raisins
salt and pepper
50ml vegetable stoc
Dairy free spread or olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and grease an oven proof dish that has a lid (I use my old faithful Le Creuset dish). Place a layer of sliced onions on the bottom, then cabbage, then apple. Sprinkle with the herbs and raisins and season with salt and pepper. Repeat these layers one or two more times (depending on how much you have, how big your pot is etc). Add the vegetable stock, cover with the lid and place in the oven for an hour. Remove and check there’s enough fluid so it doesn’t burn, then return to the oven for another half to one hour until everything is super soft and the flavours are concentrated. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for up to 30 minutes with the lid on before serving. Enjoy!