The Herb Diaries

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DSC_0264Having had such a lovely week at home seeing all my friends and family, I am back in Paris, but sadly not feeling as fresh and rested as I might like…! I crammed a lot into my few days at home and with all the Christmas and New Year parties, lots of cooking, eating and travelling around, I feel like I hardly stopped to sleep! It was completely worth it though and I saw 2014 in with a whole load of my best friends, and feeling drained is a lot more bearable when you feel so lucky and happy.

On arriving back in Paris, I remembered that I no longer have the use of a juicer or an oven, and to top it all off, my hob has decided to quit on me! I can only think that this is a sign, and I need to embrace it by feeding my body with lots of salads and raw goodness. Luckily I managed to get some recipes photographed while I was at home, so I will share those while I am living off gazpacho, vegetable spaghetti and other raw treats.
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My big news before I get to the recipe is that I have signed up for the Paris Half Marathon in March! I will be running to raise money for La Fondation Motrice and you can see my page here. I have never done anything like this before, so I am really excited. I think it will be a great challenge for me, and I am proud to be running for such a good cause – La Fondation Motrice fund research for Cerebral Palsy, as well as forming a support system for sufferers and their families.

So the juice – I know it is not a very appealing colour, but it tastes so much better than it looks, plus it is extremely nutrient dense, and will literally flood your system with much needed vitamins and goodness, perfect for a good old January detox. Whilst juice lacks the insoluble fibre you get in a smoothie, it is absorbed much quicker by your body, leaving you healthy, energised and glowing.

Ingredients:
(makes one large glass, or two small ones)

1 cucumber
2 sticks of celery
2 carrots
2 tomatoes
2 big handfuls of kale
2 apples

Method:

Wash all ingredients thoroughly and then juice!
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Sticky Ginger Oat Cookies and a Festive Shake

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It is so nearly Christmas! I am so excited, not just for Christmas, but to go back to England for a few days. I can’t wait to see all my friends and family, plus it will be so good to get out of the city, have some fresh air and be able to use an oven! Even more exciting than all the parties and delicious food is the fact that I get to see someone who I haven’t seen in far too long… I CANNOT wait to see this beauty.
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There doesn’t seem to be such a festive buzz in Paris as in London, and I just don’t feel Christmassy yet. Rosie and I watched Love Actually last week and even that didn’t really help, so I have been trying to help the festive feeling along with lots of Christmas flavours. I have made this shake everyday this week and I LOVE it. I would love to have made the cookies everyday too, but I can’t make them quick enough for how quickly they disappear.
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Everyone is in such a mad rush with the lead up to Christmas, so I made this recipe super quick, with only a few ingredients each. It is all raw and can be made both gluten-free and nut-free but switching almond butter for your favourite plant milk, and swapping the oats for gluten-free ones. Christmas is not a time to be preachy about healthy eating, but with these its irrelevant, because they contain only natural, clean ingredients – so tuck in!
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Sticky Ginger Oat Cookies:

Blend 12 pitted medjool dates until smooth caramel forms. Add in 1-2 tsp of ground ginger, 1-2 tsp of cinnamon and 1-2 cups of oats and blend for a few more seconds. (You can blend them longer if you want a smoother consistency, but I like having whole oats in there). Roll into balls, squish them down a little with your hand, then put in the fridge until serving.

Festive Shake:

Blend 1 banana with a spoonful of almond butter, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1-2 cups of water until completely smooth. These quantities are for one, so times them by the number of shakes you want to make. I like my shake quite cold, but they are also delicious warm before bed.

Happy Happy Christmas everyone!IMG_1232
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My Favourite Brunch

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Living in Paris, it is very important for me to find healthy and exciting brunch ideas, because with three bakeries on my road alone, the temptation is crazy. The smell is incredible and the pain au chocolats will put anything you’ve ever tried in England to shame. Bread has never really been my thing, but since I have been here I find myself eating more and more of it. My favourite bakery near my apartment does a different “bread of the day” every day and I already love their buckwheat bread, but I was so excited this weekend to try their pain Baltik – a mixture of rye and whole grain, with the dark nutty taste of rye bread, but a far lighter, less dense consistency.

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You can make this brunch in the time it takes the kettle to boil, and thanks to all the healthy fats in the avocado and olive oil, it will leave your skin glowing, your hair shining and your tummy full and happy all day long. I first had this in London – I had just got the Eurostar from Paris, and as soon as I arrived my brother in law very sweetly took me out for breakfast! I think that time it was actually on sourdough bread, but I love all the seeds in this rye bread.

 

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Before I get on with the recipe I would just like to share the link for my friend’s blog. I met Sandra a few years ago when I spent the summer working in the South of France, and I have only recently found out that we have a lot of shared interests! If you have some time to look, her blog is  gorgeous – there are loads of healthy recipe ideas, stunning photos and great articles on positivity, wellness and self-care. Click here to see Sandra’s blog.

 

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Ingedients:

Serves 2

2 avocados

2 big handfuls of rocket

2 slices of your favourite bread

juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

 

Method:

Wash the rocket then mix with chopped avocado, a drizzle of oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Spoon onto a slice of bread, pouring over any lemony oil left in the bottom of the bowl, and tuck into the simplest (but most delicious) breakfast/brunch/lunch!

 

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Coconut Granola with Nuts, Seeds and Raisins

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Ever since I started to change my eating habits, I am loving breakfast more and more. I have never been one to skip it all together, but I used to grab a quick piece of toast and run. Now I like to wake up a little bit earlier and take the time to make something delicious and healthy. Smoothies are great because they are super quick and packed full of goodness, and pancakes are my favourite at the weekend when I’m not in a rush, but I wanted to make something a bit different, but still speedy, to give me some variety during the week.

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I used to like granola, and now I absolutely love it! I can’t believe I didn’t realise sooner how easy it is to make,  and how much better it tastes when it is homemade. You can make it with whatever combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit you like – I could only get raisins but I am busy thinking up more exciting combinations for next time. Since this recipe contains so many different types of nuts and seeds, each mouthful is packed with Vitamin E, Vitamin B, iron, calcium, selenium, plus lots of healthy fats.

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Ingredients:

2 cups of oats

1 cup of mixed nuts (I used cashews, almonds, hazelnuts and brazil nuts)

1 cup of mixed seeds (I used sunflower and courgette seeds)

1 cup of raisins

1 tbsp of coconut oil

1 tbsp of agave syrup

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Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the nuts and seeds in a blender and pulse once or twice to break them up a little. Melt the coconut oil and agave, then stir in the nuts, seeds and oats. Once they are all evenly coated, spread the mixture onto a baking tray and put in the oven. They will take about 10 minutes, but make sure you check them regularly and mix them around so none of the mixture burns. 

When the granola is ready, transfer onto a plate to cool and then add in the raisins. Store in an airtight jar. Serve with nut milk and berries or sprinkled on top of your smoothie.

 

 


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Roasted Butternut Squash Filled with Fresh Pesto and Quinoa

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First I would like to say thank you so much to Niki at The Jolly Beetroot for nominating me for the Liebster Award! It is so exciting and finding out was the best start to my weekend. The other really exciting thing this weekend was that today I went over to a friends apartment to use his oven! I roasted vegetables for my lunches this week, I made my first ever batch of homemade granola (which I will be sharing the recipe for later this week) and we had this baked squash for lunch followed by a warming apple crumble. It was the perfect comfort food for a cold, dark Sunday afternoon. This recipe is for my big sis who is always telling to post more savoury recipes and main courses – she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. I am pretty sure if she had been there at lunchtime she would have told me she loved it, but it would be better with some goats cheese melted on top. If you aren’t avoiding dairy, give it a try – she is a seriously awesome cook so I would fully trust her judgement!

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Not only is butternut squash really delicious, it is also packed full of vitamins to support both your nervous and immune systems. It contains a high level of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, and supplies your body with loads of dietary fibre. It tastes so so good roasted with olive oil, salt and lots of garlic, that when I had to chance to use an oven for the day it was an obvious decision. I think the Sunday cooking is going to have to become a bit of a weekly event – I get the oven, a bigger kitchen than mine, and a fun lunch with my friends! Plus, now that December has started it really has got cold, and there is no greater comfort food than mixed roasted veg.

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I could only get one butternut squash at the market so I got a few of the little round courgettes and stuffed them too. It worked just as well, they were yum, but you don’t need to pre-roast them before stuffing then like you do with the squash.

 

Ingredients:

Serves 3

1 butternut squash

3 round courgettes

1 cup of uncooked quinoa

2 leeks

6 mushrooms

1 bunch of basil

1 bunch of coriander

1 cup of hazelnuts

3 cloves of garlic

olive oil

Cherry tomatoes

 

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Method:

De-seed the squash, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 180 degrees until tender (about 30 mins). While that cooks, boil some water and cook the quinoa. Put all the herbs, hazelnuts and 2 cloves of garlic into a blender and mix, slowly adding olive oil, until you reach your desired consistency. I would also add some salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Next, chop the mushrooms and leftover garlic and fry them in a little olive oil for a few minutes. You could also fry the leeks at this point, but I boiled mine for a few minutes. When they are cooked, mix them with the mushrooms, quinoa and pesto.

Scoop the middles out of the courgettes and stuff them with the quinoa mix. Remove the squash from the oven, fill the two halves with quinoa, and then bake the squash, courgettes and cherry tomatoes for another 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

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Beetroot, Ginger and Cucumber Juice

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I went back to England this weekend and found our garden full of apples. There were so many that my mum had to borrow her friend’s juicer as a way of using them up before they went bad. This was really exciting for me, since I am still researching all the different types of juicer before choosing which one to buy. My best friend came over to see me on Friday night, and as soon as she was up on Saturday morning she was out collecting apples

Our juice making got off to a bit of a dodgy start, with a lot of brown foam, and even a bottle that just tasted like water! (It looked like apple juice and tasted like water – if anyone has any idea what happened here please tell me, because my whole family are so confused!!) By the third attempt we has sussed it out and the apple juice was delicious, but whilst we had the juicer there I had to try and make my favourite juice, so that I could share the recipe with all of you.

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It is a combination of two of my favourite juices I have found out here in Paris (although I have had a bit of a guess at the ingredients so I can’t be sure how accurate it is). The first is the Purple Power juice at Sol Semilla – mine and Rosie’s favourite vegan restaurant in Paris. The second is a delicious cocktail at Le Comptoir General – a very funky bar just off the Canal Saint Martin – which is a mixture of vodka and a very cucumbery purple juice.

So this is my best guess at what a mixture of the two would taste like, and I think it is yum. It is good enough that I am definitely going to have to get a juicer! The beetroot and apples taste like autumn, and the cucumber makes it so refreshing, but the ginger is my favourite because it is so spicy and warming. I really love spicy food, but you might want to use less ginger if spice isn’t your thing.

 

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Ingredients:
(Serves 2)
1 cucumber
2 carrots
4 beetroots (peeled)
4 apples
Thumb sized piece of ginger

Method:
Wash/peel/top and tail fruit and veg as necessary and pass them all through your juicer. Cucumber straight out the fridge makes the juice very cool and refreshing.
 
 
I would really love to know what juicers you are all using and what you think of them, before choosing one myself, so please comment and let me know!


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Buckwheat Porridge with Homemade Cinnamon Hazelnut Milk

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My sister keeps telling me that I need to stop posting sweet recipes and start doing some proper savoury meals! I am working on it for her, and have  a few ideas in the pipelines, so I promise soon you will start to see a little bit more variety!
 
Until then, here is my new favourite breakfast recipe. Buckwheat is a fairly new discovery for me, but once you are introduced to a new ingredient it suddenly pops up everywhere.I first discovered it in my favourite vegan restaurant in Paris, but under it’s french name, sarrasin. Since then I have found that my local bakery makes the best buckwheat bread, and my flat-mate Rosie was brought up being fed it by her Russian nanny (but she knows it as kasha). I now have buckwheat flour in my cupbaords, and this porridge recipe shows how versatile it is, making it such a brilliant pantry staple.
 

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The main advantage of buckwheat is that it is completely gluten free. Gluten puts a lot of strain on the digestive system, even for people who aren’t intolerant to it, so it is good to give your body a rest sometimes. Buckwheat is high in dietary fibre, and slows down the rate of glucose absorption, making you feel fuller for longer by preventing dramatic changes in blood sugar levels, and it contains all 8 essential amino acids, making it an awesome source of nutrients for non meat eaters.

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Ingredients:

Serves 2

1 cup buckwheat
2 bananas
1 tbsp ground flax
1 cup raisins
2 cups of your favourite mixed seeds and dried fruit
1 cup hazelnuts
1 tsp cinamon
Agave/almond butter (optional)
 
Method:
For the hazelnut milk – soak the hazelnuts overnight then blend with 2 cups of water and the cinamon. Strain and put in the fridge.
For the porridge – Boil the kettle, then pour two cups of boiling water into a saucapan with the buckwheat and raisins.Keep stirring, adding hazelnut milk bit by bit, until the buckwheat is cooked. This should take between 15-20 minutes. Never let the buckwheat run out of liquid, whether it is water or milk. When it is almost ready, slice one banana into the pan with the buckwheat and add the ground flax.
Separate into 2 bowls, top with sliced banana, dried fruit and seeds, plus a drizzle of agave or almond butter if you like.