The Herb Diaries

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Sweet Potato and Parsnip Wedges

I DID NOT MEAN TO POST THIS ON WORDPRESS. CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW VERSION OF THE HERB DIARIES
DSC_0755 Another recipe to celebrate my amazing oven in my lovely apartment! These wedges are incredibly easy to make and insanely delicious to eat. At the weekend I ate them with my Roasted Garlic and Pea Soup instead of bread (they make very good dunkers) and since then I have had them every day, chopped up into my salad box with rocket, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and white bean hummus.
This weekend I found my local market – it isn’t that big but the fruit and vegetables there were all so incredibly fresh, and the options were endless. For the second time only since I have been in France, I managed to find kale!DSC_0756 Sweet Potatoes and parsnips are so sweet and full of flavour that they hardly need anything doing to them. A good glug of olive oïl helps them crisp up well, and then I just like to add a bit of Cayenne Pepper for some heat, a pinch of good quality sea salt and some dried thyme. Sweet potatoes are an amazing source of antioxidants which help to fight inflammation in the body. Due to their fibrous make up they are great for your digestive system, and they help regulate your blood sugar levels whilst providing you with tons of betacarotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6! And the parsnips will give you an amazing boost of heart-healthy potassium and folate.

Ingredients:
Serves 2-4
1 large sweet potato
1 large parsnip
Olive oïl
Sea salt
Cayenne Pepper
Dried thyme

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cut sweet potato and parsnip into thick chunky wedges. Drizzle with olive oïl and sprinkle with salt, Cayenne and thyme. Stir/shake/rub to make sure they are evenly coated, then roast in a roasting tray for an hour. Check on them and mix them around every 20 minutes to ensure they cook evenly and don’t burn.
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Roasted Garlic and Pea Soup

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I had such a brilliant weekend. Saturday was for seeing friends and sleeping in after a big Valentine’s Day dinner party at my friend Amelia’s, which meant that on Sunday I woke up fresh and ready to go. After I had got my run and a yoga class out the way I settled into the kitchen. I figured that having complained about being oven-less for so long, I really ought to post some baked and roasted recipes, so this soup is the first of three to come…
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It sounds bizarre to go on and on about an oven and then straight away choose to make soup, but the roasted garlic makes the recipe. It gives it the most delicious caramalised flavour, making it taste more warming and winter-y than my usual pea soup recipe, which is definitely more fresh, light and summer-y. The idea comes from a soup that my aunt made for me years ago which I absolutely adored, but never got around to making, so whilst this is my take on her recipe I sadly can’t claim any credit for the (delicious) idea.
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Having mentionned in my recipe for Gooey Chocolate and Caramel Bars that I have a serious chocoholic in the family, the rest of them are pretty mad about garlic… There is one who loves it more than any of us, so I have a feeling this soup may be on the menu when I go back home and see him in two weeks. DSC_0764 Garlic is used world wide to flavour food, and there are definitely very few things in my kitchen that manage to escape it. Not only is it so versatile and incredibly delicious, but thanks to a compound called allicin found in it, it actually has antibacterial properties. Whilst it contains small amounts of numerous vitamins and minerals, its most notorious health benefits come from its antioxidants (which help prevent heart-disease), immune-strengthening effects and anti-cancer properties. As if he needs encouraging… DSC_0767 Ingredients:
Serves 4

2 bulbes of garlic
1 onion
2 cups of frozen peas
1 big handful of basil
Olive oïl
Splash of cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Rocket

Method:

Chop onion into quarters and place the wedges along with whole bulbs of garlic into a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oïl and a sprinkling of salt and roast at 180°C for 30 mintues. They may need turning/stirring in that time so keep an eye on them – it is very important that they don’t burn or even brown too much, as this will give your soup a nasty bitter taste.
In the meantime, Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook your peas, then drain and allow to cool. When the onion and garlic is ready, leave to cool for a few minutes then peel of the skins. The cloves should be cooked and sticky (and smell AMAZING). Add all ingredients (except the rocket) to the blender with some water, and blend until completely smooth. The amount of water you add depends on how thick you likek your soup – I would start with 2 cups of water and see how it goes.
Heat on the stove just before serving, garnish with rocket and a drizzle of olive oïl (some parmesan or pecorino shavings might be good here for those not avoiding dairy!) DSC_0767


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Gooey Chocolate and Caramel Bars

DSC_0356I know, without any doubt, where my sweet tooth comes from. I have a certain family member who just LOVES chocolate. Not only is this an annoying addiction to have inherited, but she makes a brutally honest judge. Nothing sweet that I have made so far has really impressed her. The usual response is that it is ok, but she would rather have a square of chocolate. Until I made this…
DSC_0328DSC_0334It is sweet, sticky and incredibly indulgent. And it is completely sugar-free, gluten-free, raw and vegan, packed full of amazing healthy coconut oil, lots of fibre from the dates, and tons of nutrients and vitamins from the nuts. Words cannot do justice to how good it tastes – something this delicious shouldn’t give you glowing skin, a clearer mind and a natural energy boost! So put down the chocolate and go and make this…

Ingredients:

For the base

1 cup of dates
1 cup of hazelnuts
1 cup of almonds

For the caramel

1 cup of dates
2 tbsp cashew nut butter
Pinch of sea salt

For the chocolate

1/2 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of raw cacao powder

DSC_0329 Method:

Blend all the ingredients for the base until a sticky crumb forms. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper, then pour the base mixture in, and press down evenly. Put the tray in the fridge so the base can firm up.
For the middle layer, blend all the ingredients until a completely smooth caramel forms. Spread this over the base, and put the whole thing back in the fridge.
For the chocolate layer, melt the coconut oil over a very low heat and stir in the raw cacao powder. Pour/spread this evenly over the caramel.
This should really all go back in the fridge for an hour to fully firm up and make it easier to cut, but when we make it at home it doesn’t often get that long…

For anyone who is new to The Herb Diaries – thank you for stopping by! You can follow the blog by putting your email address in at the top of the side bar, and you can follow me on Instagram – @theherbdiaries

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Roasted Squash and Tomato Salad with Lentils, Kale and Spicy Seeds

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My favourite thing about the holidays is having so much time on my hands. When I am not in a rush, there is no way I would rather spend my day than cooking, and then having a leisurely meal with my friends or family. This recipe came about from one of those days after Christmas. My sister and I spent all morning in the kitchen making this salad and my Baked Kale and Parsley Falafel for  a late lunch with our parents. I am sure we could have cooked it up much quicker than we did, but we were both completely content pottering around the kitchen, drinking tea and chatting.
It may seem like there is a lot going on, but it really is much easier than it seems, and the end result is so worth it. Apart from my dad looking a little surprised when we explained there wasn’t going to be any meat, it went down a storm, and it was such a filling and comforting meal for a cold day. The falafel was a delicious addition although not completely necessary, but do not skip out on the dressing if you just make the salad – it is amazingly creamy, and adds a much needed sharpness to the earthly sweetness of the roasted butternut squash.
Butternut squash is packed full of B vitamins which do wonders for your body – they can help ease migraine pain, relieve stress, aid memory and help increase serotonin production, keeping you healthy and happy. It will also provide you with lots of immune-boosting vitamin C, which is perfect for the miserable January weather. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse and lentils have so many more benefits than people usually think – not only are they a great source of protein and slow released energy (helping you feel fuller for longer) but they contain folate and magnesium which are key to heart health.
 
Ingredients:
 
Serves 4
 
1 butternut squash, do no throw away the seeds
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Rosemary
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 1/2 cups of lentils (soaked overnight or for as long as possible)
2 handfuls of kale
Seeds from the squash
Paprika
Cumin
 
For the dressing:
 
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of paprika
Olive oïl
Sea salt
 DSC_0307DSC_0304Method:
 
De-seed the squash and chop it into chunks. Drizzle it with olive oïl and sprinkle with salt, Pepper and fresh Rosemary, then roast at 180°C until it is soft – this will take about 40 minutes. When it has been cooking for about 30 minutes, chuck the cherry tomatoes in with the squash so they are ready at the same time.
Finely dice the carrot and celery and fry in a little olive oïl. Bring the kettle to the boil, and in boiling water and the lentils and let it simmer until the lentils are cooked – they will soak up lots of water, but you may need to drain the rest before mixing the lentils into the salad.
Blanche the kale quickly in boiling water, just enough to soften it, then leave to drain.
Toss the squash seeds in olive oïl, good quality salt and a sprinkling of paprika and cumin, then cook in a frying pan on a hob, tossing them often, until they are nicely browned. Watch them carefully because they will burn very quickly.
For the dressing, simply whisk all ingredients together, altering quantities to your taste.
 
Once everything is ready, toss it all in a big salad bowl, sprinkle with spicy squash seeds and drizzle with tangy lemon-tahini dressing and serve!


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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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