Lentil Soup with Saffron

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Back in London! And there is a new and unfamiliar chill in the air, reminding me that we are heading towards autumn fast. Help! I suddenly think of the magazine I was reading in the sun lounger by the sea in Sweden (bliss) which featured an article and recipes by the Ayurveda practitioner, Janesh Vaidya. In his Swedish book: ‘Maten är min medicin’ (Norstedts förlag) Vaidya advocates a vegetarian life style in order to cure many common ailments such as joint pain, indigestion, insomnia and eczema. I can’t seem to find this cookbook in English yet, check out his website to find out more about his lectures and other books.

 

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The recipe that caught my eye in particular was Vaidya’s lentil soup which used saffron and coconut milk. It looked so warming and soothing that I saved the article for a cold and rainy autumn day. Well, today was that day! I had to improvise slightly as I didn’t have all the ingredients that were necessary in the house. I’m still coming down from my holiday high and food shopping felt like the last thing I wanted to do. Still, the result was super delicious, warming and so creamy and tasty that I had to finish it all off. Every last drop! This would make a great starter, or if you are like me, a great main for a couple of hungry peeps.

Lentil Soup with Saffron, by Janesh Vaidya

4-6 persons

2 dl lentils (I used Puy, he advocates Beluga lentils)

2 charlotte onions

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

4 cm cinnamon stick (I used ground cinnamon)

1/2 g saffron (1 envelope)

20 cardamom kernels (the inside of the pods)

about 500g ripe tomatoes

2 dl water

1 1/2 tsp herb salt (Herbamare is the best in my book)

4 dl coconut milk

1/2 tsp salt + pepper

3 tomatoes (I didn’t have enough for this decoration)

Fresh parsley (I used celery leaves instead)

Cook the lentils according to instructions on the pack. Once cooked, rinse thoroughly. Slice the onions and garlic and add to a pan with oil together with the cinnamon stick, saffron and cardamom kernels. Make sure it does not burn. Rinse the tomatoes in warm water and slice in half. Place in a pan with some water and bring to a boil. Let cook on low heat whilst stirring for about 15-20 minutes. When the tomatoes have released all their liquid they are ready. Remove from heat source and also remove any large tomato peels. Press through a sieve if you would like a smoother texture to your soup. Add 2 dl water and herb salt to the tomato mixture and mix with the onion and garlic. Add the lentils and coconut milk and add salt and pepper to taste. Slice 3 tomatoes and place them in the soup, Decorate with parsley or any other green sprig you may have at home. Enjoy! x

 

 

Quinoa Porridge with Chia Seeds

 

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I tend to think of porridge as a collective word – a dish of cooked grains with ‘toppings’ and milk. It could be oats, but then again it could be other grains, for example brown rice or quinoa.  In this wider context, porridge can metamorphose into an interesting and delicious dish with endless possibilities that any health lover or gluten intolerant may want to explore. Although a bit unorthodox, it isn’t such a far-fetched idea – in fact, grains that have been boiled and then covered with milk (dairy, coconut, almond or soy – the pick is yours) taste remarkably similar once you’ve added a few ‘toppings’. Cinnamon, cardamon, ground nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and fresh berries all do their bit to ensure that whatever porridge you may choose, the end result is not too far removed from the original oat porridge.

Why bother, you may think? Well, as I’m 2/3 into Dr. Alejandro Junger’s book Clean, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that willingly consuming gluten and other ‘toxic’ foods that may in part be contributing to us feeling sluggish, moody, depressed, tired, bloated and susceptible to bugs, may not be such a bright idea. It is fairly recognised that our well-being and immunity starts with a healthy gut flora and Dr. Junger likens our gut to the roots of a tree, a sick root will not make a happy tree. A lot of the foods we eat, therefore, such as gluten, sugar, processed foods, or veggies grown in soil so depleted that there are no nutrients left,  interferes with our bodies’ digestion process. As a consequence,  avoiding that which upsets and disturbs the guts’ way of absorbing nutrients and goodness from the food which we consume, becomes a personal choice. Trouble is, finding substitutes for bread, pasta, wheat and grains takes a bit of thinking, quite a lot of planning and a very open mind. On the upside, making porridge from ‘foodie’ grains such as brown rice or quinoa means that you can use any of last nights left overs for breakfast. Hence this mornings’ Quinoa Porridge:

Quinoa Porridge with Chia Seeds

1 small bowl full of left over quinoa

1 heaped tbsp of coconut oil

1 tsp almond butter

Small dash of coconut cream

5 strawberries, sliced

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamon

1 tbsp ground flax-seed

1 tbsp ground nuts

small handful of pumpkin and sun flower seeds

sprinkling of chia seeds

coconut milk

Heat up the quinoa with the coconut oil and the dash of coconut cream. Once warm and ‘porridge like’ stir in the almond butter, sprinkle on the nuts, seeds, cinnamon and cardamom. Add the sliced strawberries and pour the coconut milk (or whatever milk you prefer) over the whole thing. Enjoy. x

Garden Porridge

 

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We have just reached that unique and lovely time of year where you feel warm enough in a t-shirt even in the sun’s early hours. This morning the birds were tweeting, my rose bushes were flowering and no one was mowing their lawn – it was, in other words, perfect.

In honour of all that loveliness I decided to have my favorite breakfast porridge in the garden amidst glorious sunshine. The porridge recipe is loosely inspired by Deliciously Ella but bastardised by me as I keep adding flavours. It requires a little extra effort to prepare (I do add a lot of ‘stuff’)’  but it is so worth the effort and will keep you full for hours, leaving you  free to do whatever takes your fancy on this fabulous Saturday.

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Ingredients (serves 2 hungry peeps)

2 cups organic oat meal (you can get gluten-free variety)

1 heaped tbsp raw and organic coconut oil

2 tsp organic almond butter

1 punnet organic blueberries

1 banana

2 tsp ground flax seeds

2 tsp ground nuts (I use almonds, walnuts, brazil, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds – you can add other varieties)

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Coconut milk (the drinking variety, not the cooking or any other milk you like)

Cook the oatmeal and banana in water until a gloopy mush has been created. Stir in the coconut oil and almond butter and mix thoroughly (it will look chocolate-like as almond butter has the consistency and colour of milk chocolate). Add  all the ground nuts and seeds and finish with your blueberries (strawberries, dates, raspberries or whatever fruit you like will work just as well) and milk. The world is your oyster and I am keen to hear what you put into your morning porridge. Enjoy this lovely day. x

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My green and lovely garden

 

 

 

 

Pomegranate porridge

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Jet lag is having one very useful side effect. I wake up each morning at about four am, wide awake.  By six o clock, I’ve tidied the kitchen, made tea, cooked pancakes for the children and a portion of fully loaded porridge for me. And I still have plenty of time for a shower before the school run. I know it wont last – I’ve got a couple of days max – but I am really enjoying being up with the birds. There is something magical about the solitude and silence that makes early mornings so special.

Which leads me to this mornings breakfast. Nothing sets you up better than porridge with the full works – especially when you are up early enough to really take the time to figure out what to sprinkle on top. As I’ve currently got pomegranate seeds in the fridge, this morning’s variety was both colourful and quite ‘crunchy’. Pomegranate seeds may look innocent but they are considered a super food thanks to their amazing health benefits. According to research, 1/2 glass of pomegranate juice apparently include more anti-oxidants than the same amount of red wine, green tea and or orange juice. In addition pomegranates can protect the body against free radicals, keep skin youthful and protect it from sun damage. I’m loving the seeds even more now – including how they ‘pop’ when you chew them.

Here is what went in this morning’s porridge.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup organic oat meal (not quick cook variety)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp almond butter

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

1 tbsp chopped nuts (almond, walnut, Brazil nuts, cashew)

Blueberries

Pomegranate seeds

Coconut milk

Cook porridge until you are happy with consistency. Whilst still in the pan, mix in the coconut oil and almond butter and stir. Serve and sprinkle the spices, nuts/seeds and fruit generously. Enjoy x