Whilst I am chipping away at a non recipe blog post I thought I would share this seasonal favourite one of mine. It is funny because sometimes those types of posts almost writes themselves, and other times they require a bit more of an effort.
I picked up some really delicious Irish apples the other day when I was in Cork City. Ten apples for €2, so quiet a bargain. Which is so often the case when you buy locally grown or produced food that is in season.
To be honest, apples are not a fruit that I tend to include in my weekly shop on a regular basis. Bananas are my staple (not locally grown!), mostly because I love using them in smoothies. From there it can shift to whatever looks good and is reasonably priced.
Or if there’s something that looks interesting and that I haven’t tries before. Like green plums (seriously good), or kumquats, or just good old raspberries… You get the idea.
Fresh slices of apple with some nut butter is a “classic” snack in nutrition circles. It’s easy, portable and give you that balanced combination of carbohydrates with fat and protein, that will prevent your blood sugar from spiking too much.
But with the change of seasons, baking them whole in the oven is much more satisfying to me. And I suppose it I also means I am admitting that we have now left Summer behind, to get ready for wet and windy days, woolly jumpers, cozy hats, warm fires, darker evenings as well as beautiful clear skies with all the colourful glory that the autumn leaves brings.
Do I feel ready for this kind of transition? I don’t know… Are we every truly ready for any change in our lives, consciously chosen or not?
Yet it is the one certainty that we have.
And need to learn to live with.
The constant of change.
I began making baked apples like this about two years ago and since then this recipe have become an autumnal ritual of sorts. It is a lot less effort than you may think and only requires a few basic ingredients.
I tend to use eating apples rather than cooking apples for this.
Baked Apple with Spiced Nutbutter & Dark Chocolate
Recipe is based on one apple per person so double ingredients per amount of apples required.
1 crispy type of apple
20g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tbsp nut butter, (hazelnut would be me personal preference)
½ tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice
Good quality ice cream, dairy free alternative or crème fraiché, to serve
Heat your oven to 180˚C. Cut the top off and then core the apple. If you have one of those tools to core an apple, lucky you! It will make it much easier. If you don’t use a small knife to cut around the core and then remove it.
Place your apple(s) on a lined baking tray. In a small bowl mix nut butter and spices together until you have an evenly paste.
Stuff the core of the apple(s) with alternate teaspoons of nut butter and chocolate until it’s full. Place the top back on.
Bake the apple(s) for about 30 min until the skin is soft and cracks and the flesh is fairly soft.
Serve warm with your choice of ice cream / cream / dairy free alternative.
** Some interesting alternatives for stuffing would be to use some butter instead of the nut butter (if you can tolerate dairy). Or some almond paste. You could make your own by blending ground almond with some maple syrup.
If you don’t have mixed spice, using ground cinnamon and / or cardamom would be delicious too!
After what feels like almost two weeks at full speed, I decided, no actually my body told me loud and clear, that it is about time to take a day which include some selfcare. To me that includes, spending time outside, preferably some walking in the forest as well as filling my body up on some colourful foods.
And since we are enjoying some Spring-like weather for the past few days, with apparently more to come, smoothies are back on the menu again.
Other parts of my selfcare practice intention for this week includes getting serious about my sleep. To get to bed in plenty of time to ensure that I can get 8h and maybe, just maybe, I’ll try taking my mobile phone out of my bedroom too…
Do you prioritise your own sleep? And if so, what does your routine look like?
It took me some time to warm to the idea of adding raw beetroot to a smoothie, but once I had tried it with some berries, there was no way of going back!
Beetroot is such a powerful veg, with phytonutrients that support our liver and blood. As well as that, as a root veg it is also full of fiber to help keep the blood sugar stable, give the stomach a sense of fullness and the bowel moving.
In this recipe I use banana as a sweetener but to be honest, mostly for texture as without it I found that you end up with a more “gritty” texture, that is not to everyone’s palate. I also tend to use raw ones, but since the consistency tends to change when they are cooked, it would be interesting experiencing using a cooked one instead. If you do, let me know! And probably best to cook a few and then use a spare one for your morning smoothie, as they take an age to cook…!
The leaves I used here are a variety that I grew last year called “Bulls Eye”. They kind of look like beetroot tops. If you can’t get hold of some, use a few leaves of spinach, rainbow chard or if you can get organic beetroots that still have their leaves attached you can use a few of them.
The talk of home grown veg together with the current warmth from the sun makes me look forward to the weekend already when my plan is to clear my raised beds to get them prepared for planting in a few weeks time. Must order some seeds too!
Ruby Red Beetroot Smoothie
1 small beetroot, peeled & chopped
1 small banana
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 cup of raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup of strawberries, fresh or frozen
A handful of red or green leaves (if your leaves are green don’t over do it or you’ll end up with a brown smoothie)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp of hulled hemp seeds – optional
1 tbsp of pea protein
250ml of plant milk of choice – other nice options are cold hibiscus tea or cold raspberry leaf tea
Place all ingredients in your blender. Blend until smooth, Drink and enjoy!
I actually made a little video for this recipe too.
Expect to see some more of these types of videos happening this year, since I’ve just bought an extension arm for my tripod!
But now let’s get going with the interview! I will let Frances tell you a little bit more about herself now 🙂
Hi Frances! Can you tell us something about yourself and your work?
Sure! My name is Frances and I live in Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland. Kilkenny is my home town, but I lived in Dublin for years where I worked as a lawyer. I moved home about four years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer to focus on my recovery. I started my blog, The Honest Project two years ago as something for me to focus on when I was getting better. I found cooking food very therapeutic, especially when it was healthy foods. I began to experiment with my cooking and document it on the blog. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a child but never really experimented with vegetarian cooking until I started my road to recovery. I also love writing and photography so the blog is a great way for me to spend time doing some of my favourite things.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
I won’t really call it a philosophy. I just cook and eat what I want to at a particular time. I guess my focus is on eating more vegetables and I find vegetarian cooking exciting. I’m always looking for new ways to add vegetables to my diet. I think everyone has to decide for themselves how they wish to eat and I’d hate to come across as preachy; but I guess the blog is for anyone who wants to eat more vegetables and more food that is cooked from scratch. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients and cooking techniques can make the most delicious dishes and sometimes you want to make things a little more complex. Both ways of cooking have their place in my kitchen.
How did you come up with the name The Honest Project?
When I started the blog, it was so that I would have a project that I could focus on when I was recovering from being sick. I needed something to structure my day and I was so fatigued after chemotherapy I really saw the blog as a project to help get me back on my feet. I also wanted to write about things that were authentic and honest to me. I didn’t want to limit the blog to food related content so I thought The Honest Project was a good choice. Plus the URL was available, so didn’t have to think twice.
What does your process from idea to finished recipe and blog post look like?
It varies. I usually don’t put a whole lot of planning into my recipes. Rather I might have a beautiful seasonal ingredient in my kitchen and I decide to build a recipe around it. Sometimes I get ideas from café or restaurant menus from half way across the globe (thanks to Internet snopping) and I make an Honest Project version. Some of my favourite recipes have just come from me having very little ingredients in the kitchen and having to be creative with what I do have. I usually make the recipe a couple of times before it makes it to the blog. Also in the Winter time as day light hours are minimal, I have to make sure to make it early in the day so I have time to photograph it in natural light.
Which 5 ingredients will one find in your pantry?
I have so many ingredients in my pantry, it’s hard to narrow it down to five essentials. I always have olive oil (both extra virgin and olive oil). I love oats, they are so versatile and I use them all the time. I love avocados and literally have to stop myself eating them on repeat all day long. I eat a lot of nuts, especially almonds and cashew nuts and always have a supply in my handbag in case the dreaded hunger strikes. Lastly, I always have leafy greens for juicing, smoothies, salads and adding to stews and curries.
Do you have an all time favorite recipe you keep coming back to?
I have many. I adore chia seed puddings as I think they are the perfect blank canvas on which to experiment with flavour. They are also so handy to make in advance and just grab out of the fridge each morning. I also love chocolate brownies and I’m currently making a dark chocolate version with an almond butter swirl. It’s so good with a cup of tea or coffee. (Ed note* I can’t wait to read and cook that recipe as I’m always looking for the best brownie recipe!)
Tell us something about the recipe you are sharing today! Why this particular recipe?
Today’s recipe is for Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit. Most of the time when I eat chia pudding for breakfast I skip adding any sweetener bar fruit. But for this recipe I add coconut sugar, so it’s really more suitable for dessert than breakfast. Let’s be honest, chia seeds don’t really taste like anything at all. But paired with a delicious sweet nut milk and fresh berries, there are transformed into a delicious breakfast or in this case dessert. For this recipe I combine the coconut flavour of the chia pudding with passion fruit and berries. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be prepped in advance.
Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit
5 cups of coconut milk
3-5 tbsp of coconut sugar (depending on your sweet tooth).
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole chia seeds
1 cup frozen berries
3 passion fruit
A few sprigs fresh mint
1 tbsp coconut flakes
Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the vanilla extract and coconut sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Add the chia seeds to the milk mixture and stir well. Pour the mixture into a large container and place in the fridge for 4 hours to set.
Just before serving, heat the berries in a saucepan over a low heat until they soften.
To serve, divide the chia pudding between six serving glasses. Spoon a tablespoon of berries and their syrup over each. Spoon the flesh of half a passion fruit into each glass. Top with fresh mint and coconut flakes.
Head over to The Honest Project for more great recipes! And if you want to stay in touch and follow her blog on Social Media, you will find her on Facebook Here and on Instagram Here.
Many months ago I posted a chia pudding recipe here and there’s also many, many varieties floating around the internet. Why? One reason may be because it’s a bit trendy. Just like quinoa was a few years ago. And perhaps the other reason is that it is one of these really “handy & portable” foods.
To be honest I don’t make chia puddings on a regular basis, but over the past few weeks I’ve had some serious kitchen and recipe creation inspiration, and this was one of them. (More to follow in the coming weeks as I get time to re test, style and shoot!).
Since I am such a sucker for pretty and colourful foods, when I spotted these gorgeous looking plums, I just had to buy them. A couple where consumed as straight up snacks whereas the rest formed the topping to this lemony chia pudding. However, if you can’t find any plums that look good I think some stewed apples would be equally good too. Might even try that version myself next time, since I’ve been gifted plenty of them!
I have tried a few various liquids to let the chia seeds gel in, but I keep coming back to full fat coconut milk. I just find that it gives the best consistency, compared to other nutmilks. The creaminess reminds me of ris a´la malta, a cooked rice pudding which has then been blended with whipped cream which is usually served cold on Christmas Eve, or as in my family, when I was a child we on Christmas Day. Always made from the leftover rice pudding from the night before.
So… This pudding may get you into the festive spirit (!).
The best thing with this dish / breakfast / snack is that it can be pre-prepared and if you make the chia pudding in a jar then it is easily transportable too.
Lemony Chia Pudding with Stewed Plums
200 ml full fat coconut milk – if you milk is separated you may have to gently heat it first
2 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
juice + zest of 1 lemon
4 small plums, stone removed and quartered
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
Place the coconut milk, chia seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest in a glass jar or in a kilner jar. Mix the seeds and zest into the liquid to make sure that they are evenly distributed. Set a side. You may want to give it another stir after about 10 min, when the seeds have started to expand.
Store the chia pudding in the fridge until ready to eat.
To make the stewed plums; Place the destoned and chopped plums in a small saucepan. Simmer the plums on low heat. Stir on occasion to make sure that they don’t burn. You may need to turn heat down even further.
Keep simmering until the fruit is completely soft and has broken down. This will take about 25-30 min. Add maple syrup to taste. Allow the fruit compote to cool before serving it with the chia pudding.
* My tip is to make the stewed fruit and the chia pudding the night before you intend to eat it. It may take a little forward planning, but once you have that, making this recipe is a breeze. Just stew the fruits at the same time as you are making dinner and assemble the pudding before you go to bed. Then you can get take a few min extra snooze time with clear conscious then next morning…! You can of course serve the fruit compote warm too 🙂
Let the purple theme continue! And the smoothie one too, of course. Purple is my favourite colour. So of course it made total sense to create a smoothie that was purple. It seems like late summer / early autumn is the natural season for purple foods.
In the past few weeks I’ve foraged some wild blueberries / bilberries as well as blackberries from the hedgerows out the back of where I live. On my last few walks I’ve also spied some lovely damsons and lots of elderberries. If the weekend allows I think I will go ahead and make some of this, which will make a nice one to keep any colds and flues at bay as the weather shifts. This transitional time of the year is one when I’m most likely to get sick, so it may just be a good idea to stay on top of it!
You know, the idea for this smoothie came initially from creating something “hidden”. Not everybody enjoy drinking the colour green. So what I did was put a few green leaves with something that would blend them into another colour. I’ve mentioned before that blending red and green is usually not a brilliant idea. You might get away with a few leaves of spinach with beetroot as it is so bright, but if you’ve ever tried spinach and strawberries… you know what I am talking about.
In this smoothie it is the blackberries that are providing most of the purple colour, but the blueberries bring equal beauty in form of taste, colour and nutrients. And if you have some blackcurrants throw them into the mix too! All these berries are a great source of vitamin C which is a major contributor to a healthy immune system.
Purple Smoothie with Hidden Greens
1/2 cup of blackberries – fresh or frozen
1/2 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen
a handful of green leaves like kale (stems removed) or spinach
1/2 small avocado
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp pea / hemp / rice protein
1/2 tsp ground caramom – optional, but delicious!
250 ml coconut water or plant milk of choice
Place all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.
Serve with your favourite toppings.
Feast your eyes on the purple delight.
And feel the nourishment spreading throughout your body!
Smoothies never gets old, do they? I know I’ve already shared a good few inventions here and here’s another one! Plus there’s more recipe ideas in the pipeline. I also recently bought Green Kitchen Stories’ latest recipe book, on yes you guessed it – Smoothies!
It is a beautiful book with lots of great tips and ideas for creating the tastiest and satisfying combinations you can imagine. I picked it up because it was on special offer and one can simply never have to many cookbooks for inspiration. Plus David Frenkiel’s food photography is just so stunning. I never tire of just looking at all the beautiful images on their blog or in their books. It was actually when I bought their app about four years ago that I got really inspired to take my then website and redesign it so that I could get more into food blogging. And here we are some 3 years later, having seen that idea into fruition.
I tend to eat with my eyes a lot of the time, hence why having plenty of colour on my plate is both aesthetically important as well as pleasing to me. But colourful plant foods are also full of important phyto-nutrients, (plant compounds) that are vital for our optimal health. Some of them we do know what they do and how they work in the body, yet others are there still to be discovered.
Sometimes the discussion of which “diet” is the best one gets tiring, though when it really comes down to it nobody can argue with the fact that eating a large quantity of fruit and vegetables daily is vital for our overall health and wellbeing.
It’s not only the physiological benefits, in this recent review study where they looked at sampled food diaries over three years, from over 12 000 Australians the researches concluded that;
“Increased fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being. Citizens could be shown evidence that “happiness” gains from healthy eating can occur quickly and many years before enhanced physical health.”
So regardless what “dietary style” camp or community one belongs to, it is pretty clear that vegetables and plants should form the baselineof ones diet, if health and even happiness is where you want to be!
Before we get to the recipe I would like to give you a couple of my smoothie making strategies that I’ve picked up over the years. At this point, I’ve made countless combinations and tried things that worked and things that didn’t so to short cut you on your own exploratory journey here’s some insights!
Try adding some kind of healthy fats + protein source to make sure that you have a smoothie that will keep you fueled for awhile. My personal favourites are avocado or full fat coconut milk + pea / rice / hemp protein
Don’t blend green and red fruit and vegetables together, unless you don’t mind eating brown looking sludge… of course. Keeping it within the same colour theme makes a much more appealing looking concoction. Though of course there’s nothing to say that your brown slurry mix will taste better than it looks, however if you plan on Instagramming it, I would certainly keep the colour on point!
Use a variety of liquids as blending options. Most “old” and traditional smoothie recipes are a blend of natural yoghurt and fruit, but for everybody who’s limiting dairy intake, or anyone else who wants to increase their variety in general, there’s actually a whole host of different liquids that you can use! My standard one is usually (shop bought) almond milk or diluted coconut milk. But I’ve also experimented with cold herbal teas (raspberry leaf and hibiscus in particular) or coconut water and they all make a really smoothie. Since finally investing in a nutmilk bag, I’ve been making a lots of different types of “milks”. From almond, to sesame to flax seed milk. It’s so easy! I tend to make two portions with my Nutribullet at the time.
So why calling this a Rainbow Smoothie then? Well because it has all the colours of the rainbow of course!
1/2 cantaloupe melon, cut into chunks
3 fresh mint leaves
1 small banana
1/2 small avocado
1/4 tsp spirulina powder – optional
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
a handful of fresh green leaves like kale or spinach, washed
1 tbsp plant protein of choice
200 ml coconut water
blueberries, raspberries & bee pollen for toppings
Place all the ingredients, except for the toppings in your blender and blend until smooth. Serve your smoothie in a glass or a bowl and add the blueberries, raspberries and bee pollen for sensual delights!