Simple Summer Smoothie

Simple Summer Smoothie

I won’t take the credit for this, my youngest came up with this last Saturday afternoon. You know that time of day when you’re getting a bit peckish after breakfast but it’s not yet reasonable to eat lunch? That’s when we made this.

I love it when the kids take charge of a recipe, they can come up with some fantastic flavour combos. Although there have been times when I’ve had to step in – no I don’t think I want maple syrup on my spaghetti! Thanks for that one Elf.

There is no need for any fruit chopping here so this really is ideal for kids of any age to make all by themselves. Just make sure they’ve secured the lid on the blender properly before they switch it on.

This smoothie is light and refreshing, which makes it an ideal summer refreshment. If you don’t have / like coconut milk you could try apple juice instead.

Simple Summer Smoothie

Recipe, serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large ripe banana, peeled
  • 1 orange, peeled and broken into segments
  • A handful of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • About 4 strawberries
  • 250ml coconut milk

Recipe

  • Just pop all of your ingredients into a blender and whizz until smooth.
  • Slurp straight away through your favourite straw.

Crunchy Nutty Couscous

I’ve just eaten this for lunch and I had to share it with you. On first glance this could be a run of the mill bowl of cous cous with a bit of lettuce on the side. But look again for there are delicate surprises hidden in every delicious bite. Crunchy pistachios, cool lettuce and creamy yoghurt tangled with the subtle perfume of cumin seeds and glorious fresh mint. You had me at ‘crunchy’.

I’m a huge fan of food with plenty of texture. This healthy bowl of couscous delivers this with every crunchy mouthful. The carrots are coarsely grated so add a gentle bite but the pistachios I used were so fresh and packed a punch of a crunch. Then there’s the iceberg lettuce, surely the crispest salad leaf of them all.

I added a little dollop of lemony yoghurt and a small spoonful of my brother in law’s home made chilli jam. These are both optional so don’t feel you have to run out and buy a jar of chilli jam just for this.

I reckon some grated raw beetroot would be grand here but my son was home for lunch and he’s not keen; you could use any nuts you fancy and I dare say some crumbled feta would top this whole thing off nicely. I’m watching the calories after an indulgent few weeks (I blame the home made cakes) so the nuts were enough for me today.

Crunchy Nutty Couscous

Recipe, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 150g couscous
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 small carrots, coarsely grated
  • A few mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 of an iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of a lime
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • A big handful of shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons greek yoghurt
  • Zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli jam (optional)

Method

  • Pop your couscous in a pot with the cumin seeds and a pinch of salt and pour over boiling water, you want to cover the couscous by about 1/2cm. Cover the pot and leave it to one side while you get on with the rest.
  • If you’re making the lemony yoghurt, simply mix together the lemon zest and yoghurt and a small pinch of salt and black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Spritz the lime juice over the grated carrots and chopped lettuce (I just did this on the chopping board).
  • Once the couscous has fluffed up and absorbed all the water (about 7 minutes) gently stir through the mint, chickpeas and carrot.
  • To serve, spoon the couscous onto the plates and pop some lettuce on one side. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and chopped pistachios. If you’re using the yoghurt and chilli jam spoon this on any way you please.
  • Dive in and get crunching.

Kind of Ramen Noodles

Soul food, that’s what this is. This is for those days when your body craves a healthy veg filled bowl of goodness but you still want a smack of flavour and a full tummy.

The important thing for me about comfort food or soul food is that I usually want to eat it when I’m a little lower on energy and I’m definitely not in the mood to stand for ages at the stove.

This soul bowl ticks all the boxes.  There’s no need for over exuberant chopping, no frying, just huge flavours ready to spoon up in about 20 minutes.

As I say with most of my recipes you can use any veg you like (try mushrooms, grated carrot or beansprouts), whatever noodles are in your cupboard and you can definitely get creative with the flavours you add.  Go wild, your soul will thank you.

Kind of Ramen

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • A piece of ginger about 4cm, finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • A small bunch of spring onions, chopped
  • 1.5 litres of stock
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
  • 200g of peas or edamame beans
  • A couple of handfuls of green leafy veg such as spinach or kale, chopped
  • 4 nests of dried noodles
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • A packet of sushi seaweed (or any other seaweed you fancy), torn into spoonable sized pieces
  • A small packet of coriander, chopped (I use the stalks and the leaves)
  • A couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds

Method

  • Pop your ginger, garlic, onions, soy sauce, lime and stock into a large bowl. Bring to the boil.
  • Once boiling add the noodles and cook according to the packet instructions.
  • A couple of minutes before the noodles are ready, add the peas and seaweed. Simmer.
  • Once everything is perfectly cooked, use a slotted spoon to serve the noodles into 4 waiting bowls. Now ladle the broth over the top.
  • Finally, sprinkle over the chilli, coriander and sesame seeds.
  • You can add a splash more soy sauce or lime juice if you like.

Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup with Dukkah

I am a big fan of soup. I make it all the time, probably because it is such an easy and gratifying way to get in a big helping of vegetables.

To avoid any soupy boredom I’m always on the lookout for little ways to perk up my steaming bowls of soup. A few years ago I came across dukkah, which is now one of my favourite ways to boost a simple soup, salad or dip.

Dukkah is an Egyptian mix of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. There are loads of different versions of this, some use pistachios, others hazelnuts. I’ve tried one with fennel seeds and another with coconut.

I tend to stick with this version, however, as I usually have the ingredients in the cupboard. The thing is you can adapt this to suit the nuts and seeds that you happen to have at home and in doing so invent your own unique mixture.

I believe the North Africans grind up this delicious treat to serve with oil as a dip with flatbreads and veg. You could even scatter it atop a delicious houmous for some welcome crunchy texture.

I should probably have dedicated this whole post to dukkah but let’s not forget the soup here. Lightly spiced, silky smooth with a gently sweetness from the carrots this is truly scrumptious in its own right. But scatter over your freshly roasted dukkah and you have a dish worthy of a place in the soup hall of fame.

Spiced CArrot & Lentil Soup with Dukkah

INGREDIENTS

For the soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 600g carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • About 2cm of fresh ginger, chopped or grated
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 3 generous handfuls of red lentils
  • 2 stock cubes – make up 1 litre of hot stock

For the Dukkah

  • 40g almonds
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • A pinch of thyme

Method

  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in your pan and fry the onion, carrots, garlic, ginger and spices gently for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  • Tip in the lentils, pour over the hot stock and simmer, with a lid on your pan, for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. If, during cooking, your soup looks a bit dry just add more water or stock.
  • Once the carrots and lentils are nice and tender, blend the soup until beautifully smooth.
  • Meanwhile, heat your oven to gas 4 / 180C.  Spread your nutty seed mix on a baking tray and roast for about 8 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn and be sure to give the pan a shake half way through.
  • Remove the Dukkah from the oven and sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Now you simply want to break down the nuts a little.  So you can either bash in a pestle and mortar, grind in a blender or just give it all a rough chop on a chopping board.  Just be careful not to over process it as the nuts will release their oil and the mix will turn into a paste.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and liberally scatter the Dukkah over each bowl before diving in to this taste sensation.

Angelic Fruity Water

I’m feeling very lucky that it’s Springtime in Scotland, the sun is shining and the temperature is soaring. With the kids spending more time in the sun it reminds me of the importance of staying hydrated.

But let’s be honest, after a couple of glasses of good old tap water it can get a bit boring and you know most soft drinks are full of sugar or nasty sweetening chemicals.

So change things up by popping some slices of juicy fruit or some tasty fresh herbs into your water. You’ll be amazed how much flavour you can get from just a couple of slices of fruit and what’s more my children will drink a lot more water when it’s boosted with a hint of fruitiness.

Some say there are added health benefits of infusing your water with fruits and herbs but I guess the biggest health benefit would be proper hydration without all the sugars and nasty stuff you get with most soft drinks.

So get slicing and sipping the healthy way. No nasties added here, just smug, sorry angelic, hydration.

I like to take a large jug in the morning and slice the fruit into it before topping up with water. If it’s a warm day I pop the jug in the freezer so that the fruity water delivers maximum refreshment with its icy blast.

Here are my favourite fruity combos:

  • Raspberry
  • Sliced apple
  • Sliced lime and mint
  • Lemon or orange slices
  • Sliced strawberries with grape slices
  • Watermelon

Caramelised Onion Hummus

My children seem to hungry all the time. We eat breakfast and they’re already thinking about lunch and there’s no way they can make it to dinner without a hearty snack. Well let’s be honest neither can I. But I do need to be ready with a quick, healthy snack idea to stop the kids reaching for a bag of crisps.

Hummus is a perfect snack and a great way to get in a good helping of veg with all those lovely crudites. I love any kind of hummus but I think caramelised onion is my favourite. This is really easy to make. The onions are ready in 10 minutes and then it’s just a case of blitzing everything together.

Caramelised Onion Hummus

Serves 6 – 8

Keeps well, covered in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Method

  • Heat your oil in a small pan and gently fry your onion for 5 minutes until it’s soft. Then stir in the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes. It should now be nicely caramalised but still soft rather than crispy.
  • Pop all of the ingredients, including the onion, into a blender and blitz. Add water a tablespoon at a time until you have the right texture. I like it quite course so that it still has a little texture but blend this until smoother if you prefer.

To Serve

Here are a few things I like to eat with this delight:

  • Chopped raw veg like carrots, celery, peppers, baby sweetcorn, cucumber
  • Cooked veg such as potato or sweet potato wedges
  • Bread sticks
  • Sturdy bread like ciabatta
  • Crackers
  • Slathered on cooked corn on the cob
  • Spread on sandwiches or wraps
  • On toast with a poached egg
  • Served with a simple cous cous salad