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Showing posts from 2017

Chicory (aka Endive) Pomegranate Avocado Salad

Chicory is a great salad ingredient full of character - firm in texture, retains its crunch well, slightly bitter. Apparently this common type is specifically 'Witlook' Chicory, or Belgian Endive. I've found it to be a very useful receptacle for dips of all sorts too!

Chicory (aka Endive) Pomegranate Avocado Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free
Serves 2

1 head of chicory, trimmed and leaves separated
100g baby spinach and rocket
1/2 medium, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped or sliced
4-5 radishes, trimmed and finely sliced
50g (1/4 cup) unsalted walnuts, toasted or untoasted as preferred
approx 50g (1/4 large pomegranate) pomegranate arils

4 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp zaatar
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Add all dressing ingredients to a clean glass jar. Secure with lid and shake to combine. Or whisk in a bowl. Set aside.
2. A…

Raw Apple Pie Energy Bars

Super simple. Universally loved by old and young - these never last long around our house!

Cherry Cucumber and Celery Salad

Cherries are one of my favourite fruit. Ironically and somewhat sadly, the cherry tree in our garden has just been diagnosed terminal by a tree surgeon. But to be honest, despite the prettiness of the pink blossom, in all the years it didn't once bear any fruit. These cherries are clearly not from our tree!

Serve this alongside roast duck, in a big colourful platter for a barbecue accompaniment, or just with a sprinkle of toasted nuts for a simple lunch.

Cherry Cucumber and Celery Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side

1/3 medium (100g) cucumber
1 stick celery, chopped
100g cherries, pitted and halved
small bunch (16g) coriander, roughly chopped
handful of rocket/ watercress leaves
1/2 tbps rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
big pinch sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Slice cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out watery seeds, before slicing into half moons.
2. T…

Cashew Chicken Stir-fry 腰果雞

Cashew nuts are contentious in our household - they elicit strong and conflicting feelings. Basically, my daughter is allergic to them and the rest of us LOVE them. Cashew Chicken 腰果雞 was one of my mum's standard dishes when we were children and I love it as much now as I did then. What better time to post this recipe than when I am about to get a taste of the real deal when I see my mum this week!

Like most stir-fries this is a very quick meal to throw together once all the chicken and veg have been prepped. Feel free to use coconut aminos instead of tamari if not soy-tolerant but do adjust for taste as tamari is saltier.

Anyhow, allergies schmallergies - it doesn't pose a problem: I just dole out a portion just prior to adding the nuts at the end. Problem solved.

Cashew Chicken Stir-fry 腰果雞
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp coconut oil
400g skinless, boneless chicken (breast or thigh) cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small…

Happiness Project Four Tendencies, Bullet Journals and Children

A few posts back I reviewed my experiences with Bullet Journalling and how it has changed my life, organisationally speaking. You can read it here. On embarking on my second journal I approached it with less no-frills function as I had when just starting out, and with a little more flair and personality, now that I know what does and doesn't work for me personally. Check out my lovely Year At a Glance page which includes all the school holidays, birthday and bank holidays neatly colour coded for ease of organisation, ahem, 'at a glance'.

I am without a doubt an 'Upholder' personality, according to The Four Tendencies devised by Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Happiness Project. I can't recommend this highly enough if you haven't read it - in a nutshell all people fall into one of the Four Tendency categories:
 Upholder (adhere rigidly to inner and outer expecations); Obliger (adhere to outer expectation but not inner expectations); Rebel (resists all expecta…

Fennel Strawberry and Mint Summer Salad (with optional Smoked Mackerel)

Strawberry season is well and truly in full flow. Supplies are having their annual uptick, heralding the imminence of Wimbledon amongst other British seasonal landmarks. Prices plummet while the quality rockets - the basic price mechanism from school level Economics kicks in in earnest. Plus, the best thing is strawberries grow within our local area so even carbon footprint guilt is entirely eradicated. What's not to love?

The sweetness pairs naturally with fresh mint, again abundant in the garden at this time of year. And my love for the more complex aniseed flavour and crunch of fennel carries on. I've used red butterhead lettuce mostly because I had it in the fridge but any delicate flavoured lettuce with a soft texture eg lambs lettuce, will also work.

Pair this with flakes of salty smoked mackerel for a rounded lunch in the sun or serve as a side salad for a summer barbecue.

Fennel Strawberry and Mint Summer Salad (with optional Smoked Mackerel)
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Da…

Chilled Spinach and Avocado Summer Soup

The day before was declared the hottest day of the year. Then yesterday was declared the new hottest day of the year. And now today is anticipated to supercede the temperature of yesterday. Phew! Nothing for it but a chilled soup that requires no cooking.

Chilled Spinach and Avocado Summer Soup
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 1 (or 2 as a starter)

Baby spinach, 1 large handful (50g), washed and dried
Basil leaves, small bunch
Mint leaves, approx 15 leaves
Celery, 2 small sticks
Courgette, 3" piece (60g)
1/2 small ripe avocado (40g), peeled and pitted
1" piece lemongrass, bruised
1/2" piece ginger, peeled
1/4 lime, peeled
big pinch chilli flakes
2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 - 3/4 cup water or cold stock/ broth, depending on desired consistency

Optional garnish: chilli flakes, pomegranate arils, mint/ basil leaves, furikake (sesame seed and seaweed sprinkle), sesame oil


Easy Chocolate Mini Baked Doughnuts (or is it Donuts?)

Does anyone, except a former English Literature and Linguistics student, care about the nuances between doughnut versus donut? Thought not!

These little one-bite mini versions are simple but chocolatey. Feel free to glaze with a simple coconut oil + high cocoa content chocolate concoction if in the mood for something more decadent. Sprinkles also always an option.

Easy Chocolate Mini Baked Doughnuts
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free

Makes approx 25 mini

1/4 cup (35g) sifted coconut flour
1/4 cup (25-30g) unsweetened cocoa powder, or cacao
1/2 tsp baking powder
big pinch sea salt
3 tbsp (50g) coconut oil, melted
4 medium eggs
2 tbsp unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/2 ripe medium banana
optional 1-2 tbsp honey, agave or maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celsius, 350 degrees farenheit.
2. Lightly grease a mini doughnut tin with coconut oil (or use silicone doughnut pan).
3. Combine coconut floour, cocoa (or cacao) powder, bakin…

Instant Pot Mexican Mince

Every day when my daughter comes home from school she regales me with details of her school lunch that day down to the exact flavour of yogurt. One of her favourites is 'Mexican Mince' (the fact it is accompanied by a pile of nachos in high probability contributes to this enthusiasm!).

Raw Brownie Bliss Balls (Nut-free, Dried Fruit-free!)

Has it escaped anyone's notice that bliss balls invariably are a concoction of mushed together nuts/ seeds and dried fruit? And, especially in commercially prepared versions, they veer heavily towards the dried fruit camp - which means in essence it's simply a ball of sugar, albeit 'unrefined'.

Warm Mushroom, Fennel and Olive Salad

There's something slightly treat-like about having something warm in my salad. Probably to do with the fact that it involves more than just chopping up raw vegetables, piling them in a bowl with a drizzle of random dressing type condiments, before diving in with just a fork. So you could argue this is a salad of self-love - spending that little bit of extra time to make the day a smidge more special.

Marinating the fennel mellows out the strong liquorice flavour and the addition of juniper berries adds a fresh citrusy scent. The crunchy fennel contrasts against the earthy pan-fried mushrooms; the olives add another good pop of umami savouriness and a smattering of pumpkin seeds provide texture as well as some satiating good fat.

The honey mustard dressing is best drizzled on at the table and brings everything together with a delicate orangey sweetness.

Warm Mushroom, Fennel and Olive Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 2


Bullet Jounal Review

I am a stationery addict.

There. I have said it out loud. Ever since I was a little girl I would collect, curate and derive infinite joy in owning a treasure trove of bright and beautiful inks, pens, pencils, paints, notebooks, paper, stickers and so on. Art shops trumped TopShop, no contest.

When other girls were painting their nails and playing with makeup I was arranging my colouring pencils. Not much has changed. Makeup is still pretty 'meh' to me, whereas a shiny new set of brush pens makes me all tingly inside.

I still own much of my original paint and pencil sets from way back when - another characteristic of mine is both my hoarder instinct (a source of much discord in our home) and my careful (bordering on obsessive) regard for my possessions.

So I will leave it to your imagination the level of excitement when the concept of Bullet Jounalling floated into my field of awareness! That was back in October - over 6 months ago - and once I started I haven't missed a si…

Chocolate Coconut Tart

We used to host dinner parties for friends much more frequently than these days. Life is like a see saw - with our friends on one end and our children on the other. And despite their perceived smallness in stature, we all know which side of the see saw holds all the weight!

Still, when we do finally get round to entertaining, I still find it a fun and creative process to invent a new dessert. This Chocolate Coconut Tart is as close to a 'regular' dessert as I've made in a long while - it is VERY rich and does contain a reasonable dose of dried dates so blood sugar levels beware.

Nevertheless, it is free from all refined sugar, dairy, grains and gluten and is even nut-free. I served it alongside fresh raspberries to provide a balancing sharpness and a scoop of dairy-free coconut ice cream. Remember also to take the tart out of the fridge 30 mins to an hour before serving so the tart filling can soften at room temperature.

Biggest problem of this recipe was the lack of time …

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken and Asparagus

Some days I am overcome with the tedium associated with deciding, yet again, what to make for dinner. Last week, I was faced with some uninspiring chicken sitting in the fridge, along with some asparagus (April is prime asparagus season) and, for some unfathomable reason, a surplus of lemons in the fruit drawer. One overriding criteria was minimal effort - associated with prep time, cooking and pots/pans for washing up. So clearly this dish was born out of nothing but sheer laziness!

Strawberries 'n' (Celeriac) Cream

Overenthusiastically anticipating summer with a premature quintessential British classic: Strawberries 'n' Cream! One of my favourite things to do with the children in the summer is strawberry picking (and their unabashed eating more than they pick). This is no ordinary cream though (evil villain laugh) - but hides a plethora of antioxidants, fibre, minerals and vitamin K from the celeriac.

We are at the end of celeriac season here so, as we usher in the summer fruits (prematurely), we wave a fond farewell to our winter friends who have provided such comfort in the colder seasons.

Strawberries 'n' (Celeriac) Cream
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups (150g) fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
2 heaped cups (225g) peeled and cubed celeriac, steam cooked and cooled (or sub 2 medium white sweet potato if celeriac not available)
4 tbsp (1/4 cup, or 65g) coconut cream (thick solid layer from top of a can of coc…

Prawn Chopped Salad with a Creamy Nut Dressing

Some days I wonder if anyone really cares for any of these rather basic salad recipes but this is what I eat so this is what I document! Sorry for the simplicity...

Raw White Chocolate Easter Eggs (Dairy-free, Vegan)

Last year I made these Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Easter Eggs and they are still my favourite - super dark, super bitter and super decadent, with a creamy nut butter centre. Just how I like them. Though not, I understand, how everyone likes them! My daughter, for one, hates dark chocolate but loves white chocolate. My argument that white chocolate should not rationally be labelled chocolate given the lack of cocao content falls on deaf ears.

Sticky Orange Chinese Chicken

A one-pan quickie, ideal for midweek family suppers. Serve on top of a heap of steaming cauli-rice (or whatever riced vegetable is to hand - in my case here it is riced celeriac with ginger and coriander) or some plain white riced if preferred. Add some simple greens alongside and dinner is served.

PB & J Sweet Potato Cookie Dough

Given how popular my Mint Choc Chip Sweet Potato Cookie Dough was with my children, I thought I'd play with a new flavour. Sticking with the childhood memories theme, I am going with my hands-down favourite sandwich combo - PB&J.

A few blog posts back I mentioned the involuntary 'Proustian' memories unlocked and invoked by certain tastes or smells - well, peanut butter and jam (jelly) sandwiches transport me back to what feels like a different lifetime belonging to a different person. I look back fondly at that little girl who loved to draw, paint and read (not much change there) but with a hint of sadness at her lost sense of joyful carefree abandon.

Smoked Salmon, Celeriac and Rocket Salad

Celeriac is a foodstuff that leaves me polarised from the rest of my family in my unending love for it - roasted, mashed, grated, pureed into soup and even blended into smoothies (yep, I am that crazy for it). Everyone else hates it - in even its most benign guise. Hey ho. That's why I eat it for lunch when the kids are at school and my better half is at work ;oP

Coconut Quinoa and Raisin Cookies

For some, this recipe could be considered pushing the Paleo boundaries. If quinoa is that one step too far over the line for you then there is an option to substitute it for extra dessicated coconut. I am too long in the tooth to be so meticulous about a little bit of quinoa once in a while but it depends entirely on how it affects you as an individual.

Caramelised Carrot and Squash Dip

I made this one a while back when the fridge was looking somewhat Old Mother Hubbard-esque. We always have carrots and squash lurking in there.

It's been a stressful week. I have lost something of such immense sentimental value to me that I feel slightly lost and thrown off kilter. A bracelet that has been on my wrist nearly every single say since my husband gave it to me over three years ago has vanished - Disapparated Harry Potter-style to the Land of Lost Property. I have searched tirelessly but to no avail. This bracelet has been with me most poignantly through almost the entirety of this blog journey and it feels like a sign.

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie Bowl with Crunchy Cacao Nibs

Spring is trying to emerge (see daffodil!) and the marginally less inclement weather means I feel less freakish for indulging in my perennial smoothie bowl fixation.

The crunch of the cacao nibs interspersed in the smoothie gives little bites of texture as well as pops of deep cacao flavour. It goes especially well with the earthy sweetness of the sweet potato. This is more dessert than smoothie bowl.

Mango and Sweet Potato Satay Noodle Salad

Unlike regular potatoes, which can be toxic to humans in their uncooked form, owing to a dangerous alkoloid called solanine, sweet potato can actually be consumed raw. However, it is worth highlighting that large quantities are not recommended as they do contain an enzyme inhibitor (trypsin) that can make digestion of proteins difficult, so don't go chowing down on multiple portions in one sitting!

Super Super Simple Chocolate Pots

Imagine the scenario: it is 5pm on Valentine's Day. I am in the midst of role as tea time chef to one child, while already en route to donning my chauffeur cap to pick up the other one. Simultaneously I am cooking tonight's dinner for the grown ups and flinging laundry off the clothes line to make way for the next load about to come out of the washing machine. Washing up is piled almost to head height and bedtime is closing in. Suddenly I am struck by the realisation that on this most commercially recognised romantic day of the calendar year, I probably should have made an effort to prepare a romantic meal encompassing a decadent dessert. Oops.

Chestnut Mocha (Coffee) Dairy Free Vegan Cheesecake

I have no idea how I've travelled this food blog journey without yet making a coffee flavoured dessert. Every day after lunch I have my regular daily cup of coffee - nothing fancy as I don't own a coffee machine but I totally enjoy that moment of blissful idleness. It's the chasm between the morning's mania and the impending afternoon chaos. It's a small fissure of freedom but that's what coffee o'clock denotes to me.

Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms, Pak Choi and Sweet Potato

Warm and fragrant but so simple to throw together. I used a mix of oyster, maitake and shiitake mushrooms but the soup works just as well with a handful of enoki or plain old chestnut or button if less exotic options are available. Include the chilli seeds if you like it hot or alternatively omit chillies altogether and add a few thinly sliced red peppers for colour without heat.

Mango Pudding 芒果布甸

There is nothing my daughter loves more when we go for dim sum than the Mango Pudding (aka 芒果布甸) that we ritualistically order for dessert. It is without doubt her favourite part of the meal. This year we decided to celebrate Chinese New Year with a meal at home and I couldn't let her down!

Miso Aubergine Salad

Happy Chinese New Year of the Rooster for tomorrow! Sending out good wishes to all for the lunar year ahead!

Yes, I am fully aware that miso is not considered 'paleo' but I'm Chinese and soy has featured fairly prevalently throughout my dietary lifetime - whether I consumed it a lot (while in Asia) or not at all (in my early Paleo days) has made little discernible difference to the way I feel. Some may argue the damage is stealthy and I will rue my indifference but I'll take my chances.

Mint Choc Chip Sweet Potato Cookie Dough

I went through a phase as a teenager when I just LOVED cookie dough. Back then cookie dough was still pretty novel, imported from our friends across the pond - and like my childish longing for an American accent and braces, I embraced all things of that ilk without question. Luckily my parents never bought into it and it was a rare indulged treat.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Pomegranate

Even though this was a side dish I made for Christmas Day there's no reason it should only be rolled out on an annual basis. Red cabbage is still plentiful and the balance of juicy sweet pomegranate and apple against the tangy sharpness in this dish makes this a thoroughly moreish remake of an oft underrated vegetable.

Hawaiian Fried Cauli-Rice with Pineapple and Chicken

Time to put away the industrial-sized tins of festive goodies (mince pies/ chocolates/ alcohol/ cheese - name your preferred poison!) and crack on with 2017 folks!

This is a simple yet healthful and still super tasty mid-week meal to ease back into normality. The children love this - though they prefer it with actual rice rather than riced cauliflower so feel free to sub rice if you fancy. I ate way more rice than usual over the holidays as my parents make the best rice, plus they have a snazzy new rice cooker! For vegans adding diced firm tofu instead of chicken works just as well.