Courgette, carrot and kohlrabi salad

The courgette glut continues! It’s amazing how quickly they grow, seemingly able to transform from  fledgling to enormous beast over night! They taste so good, fresh and grown without chemicals. We’re not bored of them – yet!

I used to find courgettes very bitter, but the flavour now seems much calmer. They’re delicious raw and work really well in salads, either grated or cut into thin strips with a peeler. Serving thin strips makes a salad look a bit fancy ;).

This simple salad is almost an alternative coleslaw; the kohlrabi replaces green cabbage and the courgette is an added extra. What’s different is the dressing – it’s not a thick, creamy calorie-laden mayo but a fresh, zingy sauce that contains just four ingredients – lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. It brings the veggies to life using an oil-free dressing whilst letting them be the main attraction rather than masking them with strong flavours.

Kohlrabi is a funny looking vegetable. I first discovered them when I started having a weekly Riverford veg box delivered. It’s part of the cruciferous family so it’s packed full of healthful nutrients and phytonutrients, even though the flesh is a bit white and bland looking. The skin can be different colours – the one I had was purple on the outside – so it’s good to try and use some of that if possible, although sometimes it can be a bit tough and woody. If you’re lucky, some of the leaves will still be attached – these also contain wonderful phytonutrients as well as vitamin C, so lots of lovely anti-inflammatory nutrients there.

The kohlrabi bulb also contains vitamin C and lots of potassium, particularly good for helping to reduce blood pressure and looking after electrolyte balance right down to cellular level. Both vitamin C and potassium are easily lost once a food is cooked, so having it raw is a real nutrient bonus.

Amongst the various phytonutrients, kohlrabi is a good source of quercitin. This tiny compound is essential at cellular level and can help support a healthy blood pressure, reduce inflammation and help with allergies – particularly useful at this time of year if your hay fever is out of control.

If you can’t find kohlrabi, try using daikon radish or finely shredded green cabbage. The lemon juice in the dressing will help your body absorb many of the nutrients from the greens, especially iron. Adding in the carrots, courgette and red onion (if you can handle it!) makes this super simple salad a smorgasbord of vitality!

Over the summer I’ll keep adding super salads to the blog, along with other seasonal delights. What would you like to see coming up in the future?

Courgette, carrot and kohlrabi salad

A quick and delicous nutrient-packed fresh summer salad.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Salad
Servings 4 portions

Equipment

  • Food processor for grating - advisable!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 medium carrots scrubbed and trimmed
  • 1 medium courgette washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 medium kohlrabi washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 red onion finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

for the dressing

  • 1 lemon juice only
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard or mustard of choice
  • salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Grate the vegetables in a food processor (ideally to save time) using a small grater disc. Transfer to a large bowl and mix well with your hands to muddle up the veggies.
  • Add the red onion, seeds and fresh herbs
  • Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Toss to coat and serve.
Keyword anti-inflammatory diet, healthy salad, quick lunch

 

 

Rainbow roasted carrot and thyme salad

I’m a big fan of carrots. And of rainbow eating. So you can imagine how excited I get when I find rainbow carrots!  I’m like a kid in a sweet shop, much to the embarrassment of whoever I’m with.  Sometimes hard to find in mainstream supermarkets (although I have noticed them appearing more, along with a premium price), they seem to be easier to find at farmers markets and farm shops. Or even better, try and grow your own – they’ll taste so good! Continue reading “Rainbow roasted carrot and thyme salad”

Roasted maple parsnip salad

Parsnips are an essential part of our family Christmas dinner. They’re sweet and creamy and just utterly delicious simply boiled or roasted. But sometimes you might want something a little more fancy. So for day 13 of my Sensitive Foodie Advent Calendar, here’s a warm roasted parsnip salad for you to try out.

Even though parsnips have this gentle natural sweetness, adding maple syrup intensifies the flavour even more. Combine that with the sulphur sharp red onion and rich savoury walnuts and you have a cacophony of textures and flavours that will delight your tastebuds.

Parsnips are particularly delicious at this time of year as the temperatures outside start to plummet. The frost converts some of the starches to natural sugars, making them sweeter and more appealing to the palate. And even though they are a white vegetable, these hardy roots are packed full of healthy fibre and provide a surprising amount of nutrients like vitamin C, potassium and folate. Add that with the other ingredients and you have a warm rainbow salad that is good for your body and your tastebuds.

So if you’re looking for something slightly different, why not give this a go? If you do, remember to let me know how you get on.

Roasted maple parsnip salad (serves 6)

  • 500g parsnips peeled and cut into long chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 100g walnuts
  • 1 bag mixed salad leaves of choice
  • a couple of handfuls fresh parsley
  • vegan parmesan or flaxseed oil (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Place the walnuts onto a small baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-8 minutes until they release an aroma. Remove and leave to cool.

Place the parsnips in a bowl with the olive oil and maple syrup. Season with the salt. Tip out onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, turning a couple of times, until soft and lightly roasted.

In the meantime, thinly slice the red onion and chop the parsley. Scatter the salad leaves over the bottom of a serving dish. Once the parsnips are ready, transfer to the serving dish, spreading them out equally over the salad leaves. Sprinkle the red onion, parsley and walnuts over the top. Add vegan parmesan or flaxseed oil if desired and serve immediately.

Gingerbread

It is Gingerbread House Day today, so of course the recipe for day 12 of my Sensitive Foodie Advent Calendar is gingerbread.

This recipe ticks most of the boxes when it comes to ‘free from’ baking. It’s dairy-free, egg-free and works brilliantly with gluten-free flour. It does have added sugar though in the form of coconut sugar. Whilst this is the least refined type, it still may not suit you if you are sugar-free. The raw gingerbread balls from day 7 may be better for you. I have tried baking that mix too with mixed results! It makes a gingery biscuit, just not gingerbread.

Texture is important with gingerbread. You want a crunch crack when you break it with a softer inside. That comes from the fat and sugar combo. When it comes to eating a whole-food plant-based diet, getting an unrefined fat source is challenging. That is why for this recipe there are three options stated.

If you are ok eating refined fats, then dairy-free spread like Pure work just fine. But if not, then a neutral nut butter like cashew is an excellent alternative. And if you are nut-free, then tahini (sesame seed paste) is your option. They all work well. The flavour is slightly different, but I think the cashew nut butter creates a lovely deep rich flavour. Unfortunately cashew nut butter is also quite expensive to buy, but with these three options you can find something that works for you.

A word of warning when making up the mix – be very careful with how much water you add. You want to create a soft dough. It can however go from too dry to a wet soggy mess that you can’t do anything with in a very short period of time. 

So on Gingerbread House Day, why not use this recipe to create your own house at home? Or you could just cut out Christmas cookie shaped ones and enjoy them as they are, no building required. Do let me know how you get on.

Gingerbread

  • 250g whole-wheat or gluten free flour (with ½ teaspoon xanthum gum if none in mix)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 70g butter alternative – dairy-free spread, cashew butter, tahini etc
  • 100g coconut sugar
  • 80-100ml hot water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Grab 2 baking trays and cover with greaseproof paper. 

Place the flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl and mix together well to combine. In another bowl, beat the butter alternative and 50g of coconut sugar and the maple syrup together until it’s well combined and creamy.  Place the remaining coconut sugar in another bowl and pour in 80ml hot water. Stir together then pour into the ‘butter’ mixture. Stir well to combine.

Add the flour and mix in with a metal spoon. The mix should come together to form a soft dough. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour, if it’s too dry add some extra water. Don’t make too soft or it’s difficult to roll and cut.

Cut the dough in half. Cover the worktop well with flour and roll out one section to 1/2 cm thick. Cut out the shape you require with cutters or template and transfer to the prepared baking trays. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Place the trays the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and leave to cool on a rack. Decorate as desired, or just eat plain as they are.

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!

Dairy-free coriander yoghurt dressing

Here’s a super-quick and tasty dressing to liven up any salad or to drizzle over a spicy soup, curry or baked dish (like the Baked Spicy Stuffed Aubergine).

I prefer unsweetened soya yoghurt for this dressing. If you can find Sojade, I would highly recommend as I think it has the best flavour. Otherwise I use Tesco own brand soya yoghurt. If you are soya-free you could try a coconut based yoghurt but make sure there’s no added sugar. It would taste foul!

If you are not a fan of coriander (and I know there are a few people out there who have a passionate dislike) you could add fresh mint leaves instead; they would have a similar cooling effect.

As this is so easy to make, I usually make it in small amounts for a specific dish, but it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so if you want to make a larger amount just double or quadruple the amounts.

I hope you enjoy making this super-quick but tasty dressing – let me know how you get on.

Dairy-free coriander yoghurt dressing
150ml dairy-free yoghurt of choice
1/2 bunch fresh coriander (or mint) leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional but makes it zing)
salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a small blender pot and whizz for 10 seconds or so to combine. Taste and add more seasoning, lime or coriander as needed and whizz again. Serve chilled.

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.