Normally I post new blogs on Sunday afternoon, but with this recent spell of snow(!) and winter weather I decided that I might as well post this as I write it.
And after a little hiatus I posted this blog earlier this week, so there you go. I know I’m not the greatest at consistency. I think variety is more my style.
Anyhow, with this recent weather though I was lucky and did not experience the full brunt of Storm Emma, (also known as the Beast from the East), I did end up stuck at home for two days which meant lots of hot drinks, blazing fires and plenty of time to work on the computer…
Whilst contemplating if I should dress up and take the 5 min walk to the shop or if I should in fact stay put, finish writing this blog post and then chill with a cup of this pink beauty and the latest book I am reading in front of the fire, the rain is slowly melting the snow outside.
It was definitely beautiful whilst lasting and reminded me of winters growing up back in Sweden. Yet I am so ready for Spring now!
Ready for longer brighter days, ready to prepare some raised beds and order some vegetable seeds and ready for a new season to arrive.
While you are waiting though, enjoy this warming drink and there are a good few new recipes lined up, coming your way over the coming weeks. More warming dishes to enjoy, whilst we are waiting and contemplating.
I got the idea for this Beetroot Latte from Instagram. Because giving proper attribute to the original creator is important and the right thing to do, I went back searching for whom I might have gotten it from, but when I typed in #beetrootlatte I got like 9000 hits! So maybe this isn’t a truly original idea after all…
Since I am such a cardamom fan, I loved cardamom added here. If that’s not your cup of tea (pardon the pun) then you could try another variation that I made some time ago which was a hot chocolate type drink, with some beetroot powder + a pinch of chili.
Dried beetroot powder is available in health food shops. It is kind of sweet and a great way to colour foods naturally.
1 cup of plant milk of choice (measure the milk out with the cup you intend to drink from)
½ tsp dried beetroot powder
½ tbsp. sweetener of choice – I like honey or maple
¼ tsp ground cardamom
Add milk and the rest of the ingredients to a small heavy based saucepan. Gently heat your drink whilst whisking all the ingredient together. Just before reaching boiling point remove from heat and serve.
If you want to pretty it up you can add some edible dried rose petals!
P.S I have *finally* signed up to Lightroom and started to play around with presets (kind of like filters). Please bear with me a as I am learning this new creative skill!
Let’s continue with the theme of sweetness. And summer.
After about 10 days spent with my family in Sweden, where it wasn’t up the usual July temperatures, I subsequently returned to an Ireland which kind of is.
So that inspired me to share this recipe I created a few years ago for a guest posting on someone else’s site, and since I’ve been a little short on time, plus the fact that there are some internal work currently being done to the house I live in (think dust, shambles and loud drilling noises) then coming up with something totally fresh and new felt too challenging.
Here we are with an oldie, but a goodie. Perfect for summer.
In these days of everyone going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan or paleo it can become a minefield to find something to eat, or serve, which is still tasty, nourishing and made from simple wholefood ingredients.
Personally I don’t believe that adhering to any of the dietary requirements above should mean restrictive and boring. (Nor does it mean that we should attach any other emotional connotations to it either, but that’s a different conversation.)
Rather the opposite in fact. If you have to adhere to any food restrictions for health reasons they can in fact serve as a gateway into a more simplistic, holistic and diverse way of eating.
The question I constantly ask myself is “When did it become so complicated to choose what to eat?”
In the end of the day no matter what latest nutritional trend you follow, doesn’t it just come down to the quality of the food in the end? How it has been grown and produced – with care. How it’s been prepared – with love. And how it’s being served and eaten- with joy!
I don’t follow any particular dietary trend and eat most things which will make me feel good and do something good for my health. And if you’re going to cut something out of your diet for good, cut out the guilt.
Michael Pollan, author of several books on food and the history of cooking, eating, agriculture etc. have the best advice I know, which is really straightforward.
Eat (REAL) food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
You simply can’t go wrong with that…
Now let’s move on to the recipe.
This is a simple, yet decadent summer dessert which should please the majority of your guests regardless of what they call themselves. what they can or cannot eat.
Coconut Panacotta with Raw Raspberry Chia Jam
Serves 2-4 depending on the sizes of the serving glasses you use
1 can of coconut milk – Preferably organic and additive free
1 ½ tbsp. raw honey – use maple syrup if vegan
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla powder
Zest of one organic lemon
2g agar-agar powder – available in healthfood shops
Raspberry Chia Jam:
125 g fresh raspberries, washed & drained
Juice of ½ lemon – optional. Lime would be lovely too
1 tbsp of chia seeds
Place coconut milk, vanilla bean paste, honey, lemon zest and agar-agar powder in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil while constantly stirring to make sure the honey dissolves and prevent the agar-agar flakes from sticking to the bottom. Once the coconut milk mix reaches boiling point boil for one min, then remove from to heat and allow to cool. Once the coconut milk has cooled to finger temperature pour it into small serving glasses and allow to set in the fridge.
To make the chia jam; place your berries in a food processor / blender. Squeeze the lemon juice straight into the bowl of your food processor / blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer the blended berries to a container. Add in the chia seeds and stir until well combined. Let the chia jam sit for an hour or two to allow the seeds to gel. Stir a few times.
Add the jam on top of your set coconut panacotta to be served straight out of the glasses it’s set in. Garnish with a sprig of mint or some shaved dark chocolate.
Note* I did not add any sweetener to the chia jam. You can of course do so if you want it less tart.
I have this things for grocery shopping… And trying out new foods… And sometimes this “thing” turns out to be a rather indulgent AND expensive hobby.
I’m still not sure where this love of exploration comes from, though I keep blaming the year I spent living in the Australian bush, where much, the only escape route off the farm was the weekly trip to the supermarket. But that’s now over a decade I go, so it may not really cut it as a valid excuse anymore.
This is definitely where the love affair really took hold though and I’ve carried on with it ever since.
Maybe it is part of a food scarcity things, from that time too? Though at that time I wasn’t restricting what I was buying as I had very few other expenses than buying foods. My accommodation was included in my weekly pay and I didn’t own a car either (and boy does that save you money!). But the downside of not having a car was that I was always depending on others to take me to the shop, which was a good 45 min drive away.
These days things are a little different and, though I live in a rural part of the country I have a car, I am 10 min drive from a town with some very decent food shops, and I am about 30 min from the second largest city in Ireland. No risk of starving or going without. Yet I still get excited about grocery shopping!
The recipe I am sharing here is an inspiration from one of those explorative grocery shopping trips I did last year when I was over in Stockholm, visiting my friend Louise and going to a few different nutrition / foodie events.
When I was in this small delicatessen I saw this beautifully wrapped chocolate that also contained tahini. Got totally sucked in and just had to buy it! Truth be told, it was worth it for the beautiful packaging alone. Clever marketing there, that’s for sure.
Ever since then I have been thinking of trying to re-create something similar at home.
This is it!
I used this recipe as a base, and more or less swapped the peanut butter for tahini instead. If you are not a tahini fan like me, I think using hazelnut butter would make an amazing chocolate. It’s not one I have tried yet myself, but my imagination have no problem conjuring up what that kind of taste explosion that combination will provide. I mean who doesn’t like chocolate with hazelnuts???
Homemade chocolate is surprisingly easy to make, once you’ve invested in the ingredients. And since this type of eating have become a lot more common in the past few years, finding raw cacao and raw cacao butter isn’t impossible.
No, they are not the cheapest ingredients, but you will get a lot more cacao for your bucks than the typical “chocolate” you find sold everywhere.
In writing this post I am also realising that it is a privilege to be able to both have time, money and the opportunity to find these ingredients easy enough. And for that I am grateful.
Raw Chocolate with Tahini
Makes 12 large hearts
50g cacao butter
1 heaped tbsp tahini
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness (less works well in for this recipe)
½ tsp ground cinnamon – optional but delicious
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted add the tahini and stir well. Then add in the maple syrup, the raw cacao powder and the cinnamon, if using.
Stir for a minute or two until you have a really smooth cacao mix. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you still think it is too bitter.
Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it into a silicon ice-cube tray. Transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours your chocolate will have set and you can pop it out of the ice-cube tray.
** If you don’t have an ice cube tray / chocolate moulds, you can pour it on to a small lined tray instead. **
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Your raw chocolate will keep for a few days in the fridge. Probably longer in the freezer.
If you do make these please let me know what you think, and if you’ve ended up making new creations and taste combinations from this basic recipe!
I think it was about time I shared another sweet recipe here on the blog again. And if you read my last post, about my own personal history with food (sugar in particular) and how I made eventually made peace with it all, then you will know that I love the taste of sweet.
Dates are such a versatile food. They are sweet and sticky and actually good for you with a high amount of fibre, but also the vitamin and mineral content like zinc (for immune system) magnesium (for energy production), iron (for red blood cells) and potassium (for nervous system).
Because of their “stickability” they work really well in all types of raw desserts as they so seamlessly hold everything together. I also love that when we are using dates as sweeteners we tend to use the whole fruit, just like nature intended.
This recipe is based on a typical traditional Swedish recipe and one we made time and time again as kids – Choklad Bollar.
The original recipe calls for butter, sugar, oats and cacao powder. And perhaps a little coffee too.
Here I have replaced the butter and sugar with the dates and added some melted cacao butter as fat. You can use coconut oil too.
Traditionally “Choklad Bollar are rolled in desiccated coconut, which I personally like though I made another version of these for a recent talk I did locally and rolled them in some melted dark chocolate and some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts. Much like a giant Ferro Roche… Yeah, just imagine! Totally worth the extra effort.
Chocolate Oat & Date Balls
Makes about 10 medium sized balls
½ cup rolled (porridge) oats
20 small pitted dates – or use about 10 soft Medjool dates
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
6 tbsp strong coffee – or use same amount of water
2 tbsp melted cacao butter – or coconut oil
Shredded coconut to coat the balls in
First blend the oats in your food processor until you have a rough ground texture. Soak the dates in some hot water for about 1 min, then drain. Just to soften them a little. If you are using Medjool dates you can skip this step as they tend to be much softer. However don’t forget to remove the pits!
Add the rest of the ingredients to your food processor and blend until it all comes together like a sof dough.
Roll the dough into small balls with your hands and roll them in some shredded coconut.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for a few days.
(I’m always musing to myself about the difference between the words “keep” and “last”. To be honest, I am actually just guessing how long they will “keep” for, since I’ve never had any “last” long enough to see when they would be gone off…)
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.
This week’s recipe is actually part of what we enjoyed at our Christmas gathering when I was back home in Sweden with my family. So I let the sweet and swift memories of the end of 2016 take us in to 2017…
My mother is one, of several people, who’s been a great influence on my interest in nutrition. And with her I suppose it been one right from the beginning, since she became a health conscious vegetarian back in the 70s, long before I was even born…
It’s not all that often that I have the pleasure of hanging out with my mum, but when we do I really appreciate doing so just enjoying everyday stuff. Like grocery shopping, and cooking.
We are quite similar in the way we eat, and both enjoy shopping and make an impromptu plan depending on what we find.
When we decided on this dish, it was out of a desire to keep it simple, colourful and varied. Plus we wanted a couple of side dishes that were vegetables to balance out the usual meat heavy offerings that is typical of a Swedish Christmas dinner!
Root veg are readily available most of the year these days, but they do belong more to autumn / winter seasons since they are ready to eat in the autumn and then store really well for the winter months. I don’t know about you, but for me it feels so comforting and grounding to be eating starchy cooked root vegetables this time of the year when its dark and cold. It’s like our bodies naturally knows that we need more density this time of the year to keep us warm.
I can guarantee that you won’t see me chomping down a raw salad this time of year, unless its served as a side dish to something cooked… I do have the occasional smoothies this time of year, but only if I craves something super fresh, it’s above 10˚C, its served at room temperature AND with a cup of herbal tea on the side…!
I’ve included a good few different kinds of root vegetables here. You can choose some of them only, and then you may need a few more, or if you live somewhere where some of these are less available but have other tubers, then go with that!
Medley of Roasted Root Vegetables
1 sweet potato, washed & cubed (keep peel on)
2 carrots, washed, peeled & chopped
½ celeriac root, peeled & chopped
1 large or 2 small parsnips, peeled & chopped
2 medium sized beetroot, peeled & chopped
1 red onion, peeled & sliced
Garlic cloves from one head of garlic
A few sprigs of rosemary & thyme, use 1 tsp dried herbs if you don’t have fresh ones
A few tblsp olive oil
Sea salt & Black pepper to season
Pre heat the oven to 180˚C. Peel all the veg except for the sweet potato. Then chop them into cubes. The trick is to try to keep them roughly the same size to ensure even cooking time.
Peel the onion, cut in half and then slice lengthways so that you have half moon-type slices.
Add all the vegetables, red onion slices and cloves of garlic (with skin on) to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add the fresh herbs and season with sea salt and black pepper. Then use your hands, or a spatula to toss the veg so that they are evenly coated in oil and season.
Bake in oven for about 45 min or until slightly crisp around edges and soft in the middle.
Serve as a side to your choice of meat or pulses. I often enjoy roast veg with some baked fish or as here served with some cooked beluga lentils, some toasted hazelnuts and some Danish blue cheese.
A big thanks to my dear friend Jen who came over to enjoy this for lunch and got the job of hand modelling also!
P.S Don’t forget to remove the skin from the garlic cloves before eating…