Sunday, 26 July 2015

Deliciously Ella beetroot and parsley 'shots'

As I was saying in a previous post, there is currently quite a bit of ill health in my family at the moment and as a consequence I'm trying desperately not to get ill also. The main reason for this being that my Dad is currently undergoing chemotherapy and has a very low white blood cell count. If I were to get ill at the moment, it would mean that I couldn't really see him as he'd be at high risk of catching it. 

I did start to feel a little bit rough the other day and I'm not quite sure whether its the start of a cold or just generally being run down because of all the travelling/ stress, but either way I wanted to try and knock it on it's head and ensure it didn't escalate into anything else. 

I found this recipe on the Deliciously Ella app for beetroot and parsley shots and thought I'd give it a go as beetroots are meant to be really good antioxidants. I don't normally have too much beetroot as they're not particularly low carb but this recipe makes enough for two shots (though I ended up making them into drinks) so the total carbs from the beetroot is only 9g (for both drinks), and only 45 calories. 

In her recipe she makes them in a juicer, I however got rid of my juicer when I got a nutribullet so made it in there instead. the result of that was once blended it became like a thick pulp that gathered round the sides. I added some ice cubes and about 100ml cold water to it and blended again and it produced about 300ml of juice which we shared.

Making it literally took under 5 minutes, just peel the beetroot (I used a medium sized one that weighed 100g before being peeled) then add it to the juicer, or nutribullet as I did, with 5g parsley- she suggests putting half the beetroot in then the parsley then the other half of the beetroot. I also added a knob of ginger, a tray of ice cubes and about 100ml cold filtered water. Let the nutribiullet run for a couple of minutes until it completely smooth and that's it! 

It tasted lovely, which quite surprised me as beetroot tastes so earthy that I wasn't sure I'd like it raw, I think the parsley really helped take the edge off that though, and ginger just makes everything taste lovely to me! 

I'm going to keep trying different things for a while now focusing on antioxidants as I'm really keen to stay as healthy as possible at the moment, even at the expense of having more carbs than usual. 

You can find this recipe and lots more like it on the Deliciously Ella app

Friday, 17 July 2015

Salad Shirazi

My part Iranian heritage means that I have a natural leaning towards Middle eastern foods and flavours, and find most foods, but particularly salads, can be more than a bit enhanced by generous lashings of lemon and mint.

This salad takes literally minutes to throw together, has a dressing so simple that it can barely be called a dressing, will keep for ages in the fridge, has hardly any calories or carbs and is absolutely delicious! In short, it's a favourite and it makes an appearance on the table at least 3 times a week. You can play around with the ingredients to use up whatever you have hanging around, but I usually keep to tomato, cucumber and onion and then add other bits and pieces to this combination.

The only slightly annoying thing about the salad is that it requires all the ingredients to be cut up very finely which can be time consuming if your knife skills are at all lacking- as mine are- but you can just as easily do it in a food processor which takes actually no time at all, though will produce a slightly less instagram worthy appearance!

You will need (serves 2):
  • Half a cucumber
  • 2 salad tomatoes, or a good handful of cherry tomatoes
  • One red onion
  • A handful of finely chopped mint
  • A good glug of olive oil- subjective I know but it is a personal preference sort of thing- I don't use much
  • The juice of one large lemon, or about 20ml lemon juice
Making it is so easy:
  • Finely chop all the vegetables and add to a large bowl
  • Pour your olive oil and lemon juice over it
  • Add the chopped mint, you can even use a couple of teaspoonfuls of mint sauce to save time
  • Mix it all together well
  • Enjoy, and thank me later!
*By the way- this salad isn't remotely my recipe at all, this is just how I make it, which I think is more or less the same way as most people make it. It's a staple in middle Eastern cooking in the same way that  Greek salad, or Russian salad is.*

Like I said, make lots as it keeps so well then pop the rest in a sandwich box for tomorrows lunch!

Once you get into it, you can add other bits and pieces you find in the fridge- here I added peppers and spring onions. You can also present the vegetables all separately in pizza style slices!

You can see for this one, I got a bit lazy with the tomato cutting and some of the pieces are not exactly finely chopped. I also added greek basil to this one, as I was running low on mint, and garnished with some cornflower petals that I had knocking around!


Friday, 3 July 2015

June edible flowers

Well summer is almost here and as a consequence the garden is slowly starting to come into bloom. One slightly lovely (and not so lovely thing) is that I have been away a lot recently visiting my family up North (due to family illness), and each time I come back the garden seems to have changed again or a new thing has popped up that wasn't there when I left.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I did go for it this year on the edible flower front, both because I love edible flowers, and as you know and they are very expensive to buy (and hard to find), but also because lots of them are so bright and colourful and really easy to grow. So far as I write this at the end of June I've already got lots and lots of borage, violas (now on their way out though), chive flowers, forget me nots, apple blossom (which I obviously didn't grow), marigolds, and wild strawberries.

I thought I'd share a few pictures so you can see how it's coming along and a couple of examples of how I've used them so far

The borage is already prolific and despite being grown from seed not too long ago is already around a metre tall. I love borage mainly for its colour and also the fact you can use both the leaves and the flowers, and they both taste like cucumber- which I love! You will need to use the leaves once they are quite young as once they mature they become large, tougher and hairy and therefore somewhat less appetising! The borage self seeds also, which means they basically grow, flower, shed seeds and then start growing again in a new place. Ooh and if you needed any more convincing, apparently borage can also be made into an oil and used to treat arthiritis, though you'd have to be rather more adventurous/ experienced than me to try that!

Chive flowers are so easy to grow and if you don't fancy growing them yourself you can just pick up a chive plant in the supermarket, plant it and wait for the magic to happen. Once ready, pluck the flowers off, pull petals off and scatter over a salad for a lovely sharp onion flavor, and a bright hit of pink colour.

I have planted mine next to the borage and nasturtiums as those plants tend to attract aphids and apparently aphids don't like chives and onions- I'll let you know how I get on with that one though!

Forget me nots do not add that much flavor wise, in fact they go pretty much un noticed in food, but they're a lovely bright colour, and just like the borage, will give a salad an extra edge, making them perfect for garnishing food or drinks with when you're entertaining or trying to impress!

The apple blossom, I didn't grow myself, but it is growing in the garden and so I just wanted to share it with you as it's so pretty!

That's it for the moment, though lots of the rest are looking very leafy so I'm hoping over the next few weeks to see lots more flowers. I am so pleased with them as they were all started from seed using these little (very unprofessional looking) kits that I got in T K Maxx in the sale, so I was a bit dubious about how any of them would look!

I've popped the borage here into a sort of mocktail that I made which is just tonic water, a squeeze of lemon, a squeeze of lime, shaved strips of cucumber, a chopped strawberry and a few borage flowers. It takes literally 2 minutes to throw together and although it might well be enhanced by a dash (or two) of gin, it is definitely going to be an alfresco staple this summer!

Last but not least I've shown a couple of examples of the flowers in salads. The borage flowers do add a lovely, though very subtle cucumber flavour, though the other flowers here don't add too much flavour wise. You can see though that they really do life the plate and make what are pretty boring salads look a little bit more special, making them perfect for barbeques and picnics or just general summer entertaining!

The flowers also look lovely frozen with water in ice cube trays (boil the water and let it cool first to stop the cubes going cloudy). Then pop them into drinks when you have guests to impress, or when you're feeling decadent!

I'd love to hear about your experiences with edible flowers, are you growing any? Do you have any favourites, or favourite ways to use them?
© The Vegetarian Atkins Diary

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