Peanut Butter Granola

I was making a batch of granola the other day when a tasty thought came to me, I thought I’d go a bit nuts, shake things up a bit.

I went rogue and added a couple of spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter. Yep that’s how crazy I am. I kept the rest of the ingredients pretty simple to really let the earthy peanut flavour shine through.

To be completely honest the first attempt didn’t truly live up to my expectations. It just wasn’t peanut buttery enough. So this revised recipe I share with you my dears has double the peanut butter from the original recipe. It is, as Goldilocks declared, just right.

I enjoyed this with fresh blackberries and plums from the garden. However, if I was nipping to the shops for berries I’d go for raspberries or strawberries – think peanut butter and jelly, classic.

Peanut Butter Granola

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250g oats
  • 40g pumpkin seeds
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 150g pecans or almonds
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or good quality vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 150C / gas 2. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  • In a pan gently heat your peanut butter with the maple syrup and oil. This just softens the peanut butter, making it easier to stir through the dry ingredients. If your peanut butter is already quite runny you dont need to bother with this step.
  • Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl then stir in the peanut butter mixture until everything is thoroughly combined.
  • Tip onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Give it a stir once or, preferably, twice during this cooking time to ensure an even bake throughout.

To serve

I just love granola with Greek yoghurt, fresh fruit and sometimes some chopped dried fruit too.

You can try this even more simply with some nice cold milk.

A little scattering over a warm bowl of porridge with a fruit compote is definitely worth a try as Autumn approaches.

Spiced Roasted Chickpea & Veggie Wraps

I love chickpeas roasted in the oven. They’re a lovely little snack. They also add a stunning crunch atop a bowl of simple homemade soup. Now I can attest to spiced roasted chickpeas to be the most delicious filling for a tortilla wrap. Just add a bit of crunchy veg and you’re good to go. Wrap them tightly and take them on a picnic or make this at home when the chickpeas are just out of the oven and still warm.

Another thing I’m rather partial to is garlic. So I made a really simple garlic yoghurt spread for this. You can spread what you like on your tortilla: mayo, cream cheese, aoili, chilli sauce or, for a double chickpea whammy, try hummus.

Veg-wise, I enjoyed this with grated carrot and rocket. Use whatever you have in the fridge. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot, spinach… the choices are endless.

Feeling cheesy? You could also add feta, goats cheese, grilled halloumi or even mozzarella. My son had a simple scattering of grated cheddar to finish his off very nicely.

If you have the time and inclination you could roll this, squash down slightly and then grill or heat in a hot dry pan to get an extra layer of crispiness.

Spiced Roasted Chickpea & Veggie Wraps

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and turmeric
  • A teaspoon of oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 wholemeal tortilla wraps
  • 4 tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • A few chives, chopped (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 4 handfuls of rocket
  • Cheese of any kind you fancy (very much optional)

Method

  • First thing’s first, get those chickpeas in the oven: preheat your oven to 180C / gas 4. Mix together the chickpeas, spices, a teeny bit of salt and pepper and the teaspoon of oil and lay out on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they are crisp at the edges.
  • Next get the the garlic yoghurt spread sorted (if you’re not using this just skip to the next step). Simply mix together the yoghurt, garlic and the chives, if using. Sprinkle in a small pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Now lay out your tortillas and spread with your garlic yoghurt or whatever spread you’re going for today.
  • Scatter over the chickpeas then the rest of the ingredients.
  • Fold and munch, maybe dipping and scooping up any leftover garlicky yoghurt if the fancy takes you.

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.