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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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Baked Kale and Parsley Falafel

DSC_0289 I can’t believe that about two years ago I had never even tried falafel! One of my best friends, Sophie, is a MEGA fan, but I was always a bit skeptical. I can’t remember exactly when it was that she gave me a big bite of her falafel wrap in our favourite lunch spot, but it was proof that she is a legend because the falafel in that place is seriously too good to share. DSC_0266 Whenever people come to Paris they go mad for the falafel on Rue des Rosiers in the old Jewish quarter. It is such a pretty little street with delicious bakeries and so many falafel stalls, serving the most amazing pittas stuffed with red and white cabbage, tomatoes, baked aubergine, pickled jalapenos, crispy falafel and a really big dollop of creamy hummus, they are insanely good. The problem is that the falafel is deep fried, and the idea just doesn’t sit that well with me. So I decided I had to make a healthier, fresher version. DSC_0281DSC_0282 I had hoped my baked falafel would stay a bit rounder… but despite their funny flat shape, they crisped up well and make an awesome change from the heavy baked version we are all used to. They will provide you with tons of wonderful plant protein, loads of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and a big boost to the immune system thanks to the chickpeas, kale and garlic.

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 big handful of kale
1 handful parsley
1 tsp each of cumin and paprika
2 tbsp of olive oil
salt and pepper
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Method:

Blitz the kale and parsley in the blender until it is in tiny pieces. Chop the onion and garlic. Add all the ingredients into the blender and pulse until the chickpeas are almost completely broken down and the mixture begins to stick.
Bake at 200 degrees celsius, turning the balls every 10 minutes until the are cooked. This should take 30-40 minutes. Serve with lemon tahini dressing (get the recipe here) in a wrap, on a salad, as a snack….
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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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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.

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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.