The Herb Diaries

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Immune Boost Lemon Ginger Juice

DSC_0377I am back – I have had the busiest 2 weeks ever and I am completely exhausted! After a very big weekend of birthday celebrations with my family and best friends, I then had to move house (which is not much fun without a lift in the building!) whilst trying to keep up to date with my half marathon training, yoga, work and the Tuja 30 Day Meditation Challenge I am doing… So it is very exciting to have a quiet looking week ahead of me and an apartment with an oven!DSC_0375DSC_0376This juice is a great recipe for when you are feeling tired and run down. The combination of vitamin C packed citrus fruits and tangy ginger are sure to clear your head and leave you feeling refreshed and energized.

Ginger is my absolute favourite addition to any juice – I love how fresh it tastes, and fresh ginger comes with so many amazing health benefits. Not only does it do wonders for your digestive system by improving how you absorb nutrients, but it can ease all sorts of stomach aches and stop you feeling nauseous. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties ginger will even help join and muscle pain and it is great drunk with warm water (maybe with some honey and lemon) – it is incredibly warming and soothing on a sore throat. Whilst the ginger cleanses your insides, the vitamin C from the lemon will give you glowing skin, a boost for your immune system and a happier sinus due to due to its anti-bacterial properties.
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Ingredients:

1 cucumber
2 sticks of celery
2 apples
2 clementines
1 lemon
Thumb sized piece of ginger

Method:

Juice all the ingredients, pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!


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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 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.


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Red Rice Salad with Peas, Green Beans and Toasted Hazelnuts

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This salad supper sort of happened by accident, but I am so happy it did! I really wanted some red rice but I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, so decided to improvise with the veggies I had in the fridge. The result was this fresh and delicious salad, packed full of green veg, but also very filling thanks to the red rice, with an awesome nutty crunch from the hazelnuts.

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I haven’t had much experience with red rice before now, but I can tell it is sure to become a kitchen staple. It has so much more flavour than ordinary white rice, and contains much more dietary fibre because the bran layer under the hard husk has not been removed. It contains lots of iron which gives your body a brilliant iron boost, and has anti-oxidant and anti-histamine properties.

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Although you could use any oil you like for the dressing, I used sunflower oil. It has a deliciously buttery taste and is rich in vitamin E which has a neutralising effect on disease causing free radicals. It is thought to be one of the healthiest oils (especially when used in cooking) and is often overlooked.

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Along with broccoli, peas are probably the only vegetables that you can imagine children eating without too much fuss. They are sweet, easy to cook, and freeze so well that you can always have them on hand for when you can’t get any fresh veg. I LOVE peas. You can mix them into anything for some extra greenery, purée them, make them into soup – they are so versatile! They best part is, that not only are peas great for us, they are actually great for the environment too! Pea plants supply soil with large quantities of nitrogen, reducing the need for fertilisers.

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Ingredients:

Serves 3

2 cups red rice

2 cup peas

1 cup broad beans

2 handfuls green beans

2 handfuls rocket and spinach

1 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

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Method:

Cook the rice for 30 minutes (some people like to soak the rice first, but it isn’t necessary).

Boil the peas, green beans and broad beans for a few minutes until just cooked, but still with some crunch.

Dry fry or roast the hazelnuts to intensify the flavours.

Allow the nuts, veg and rice to cool before tossing with the spinach and rocket.

For the dressing, chop the garlic finely and mix with the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Toss the salad with the dressing and serve!

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Asian Almond Soup

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Just a very short post today, and because I am very busy at the moment I thought I should share with you one of my quick, mid-week go to suppers. It is warm, filling and so cleansing. I adore the spice and heat of Asian ingredients, they always taste so fresh.

I just bought myself the biggest jar of almond butter I have ever seen and I am obsessed. I have been putting it on my smoothie, stirring it into my soup, mixing into my puddings and eating it with anything I can dip into it: carrots, apple, celery, a spoon…

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I only add the vegetables in at the end just to cook them slightly, because the crunch contrasts so well with the rich creamy sauce. You can of course change the ratio and add more water and less coconut milk make it lighter, and I often stir through some spinach and rice noodles when I am hungrier.

Coconut milk is so versatile and surprisingly good for you. It contains a lot of magnesium which normalises blood pressure and calms nerves. It is also said to lower cholesterol and improve skin elasticity (reducing wrinkles) among many other health benefits.

Ginger helps your body absorb essential nutrients as well as really helping feelings of nausea and tummy pain. I love to drink a mug of hot water with a slice of lemon and a chunk of ginger after a big meal. It tastes so fresh and pure, and is a very good way to hydrate for people who don’t drink enough water .

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Ingredients:

Serves 2

2 Cloves of garlic

A knob of ginger

Fresh chilli

1 tbsp almond butter

2 cups coconut milk

2 cups mushrooms

1 big tomato

1 courgette

Splash of soy sauce and a squeeze of lemon to season

Basil

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Method:

Boil the kettle and add two cups of hot water to a saucepan. Finely chop the chilli, garlic and ginger and add to the water. Chop all the veg and after a few minutes add all other ingredients to the saucepan. Cook into the veg are warmed through but still have some bite, then take off the heat, pour into two bowls, top with torn basil and serve.

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