Oven roasted cauliflower & green bean salad

Oven roasted cauliflower & green bean salad

This is a delicious way to enjoy cauliflower.  I use my Middle Eastern tahini sauce as a dressing but you could also dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and some paprika/smoked paprika.  If you like, add some chopped fresh oregano or flat leaf parsley when the salad has cooled.  The tahini sauce is also lovely used as a sauce over some simple poached/grilled fish, or as a dip with vegetable sticks.  Keeps well in an airtight jar for several days.  I like to make the dressing a bit in advance, to let the flavours develop.  Eat it warm or cold – it’s all good.

For the salad:
1 medium cauliflower, leaves removed
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 dsp sumac
Freshly ground black pepper
Himalayan/sea salt
2 large handfuls (about 250g) green beans (or runner beans)

For the dressing:
1 rounded tbs light tahini
2 tbs lemon juice and about 125ml cold water OR 150ml home made kefir (lemon juice OR kefir gives the sauce acidity and balance)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 200C/185C fan
2. Placing the whole cauliflower with stalk downwards, cut in half, and cut out the big central stalk. Then slice each half in slices approximately 1.5cm thick.  Slicing (rather than breaking into florets) helps the cauliflower to caramelize deliciously.
3. Place in an ovenproof roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over the sumac, a good pinch of salt and lots of black pepper and mix gently to coat everything evenly.
4. Roast for 20-25 minutes until you can pierce easily with a fork.
5. While the cauli is roasting, boil the kettle.  Steam the green/runner beans until they are slightly softened but retain some crunch.  Drain and refresh in cold water.  This stops the cooking process.  Once cooled, drain.
6. Make the tahini sauce.  Whisk or blitz together in a mini food processor all the sauce ingredients.  You are aiming for a consistency about the texture of double cream.  You may need to add more water as you go to achieve this.  The tahini will clump initially.  Just keep mixing, and adding more liquid if needed.
7. When cauliflower is cooked so a fork pierces it easily, empty it and the green beans, into a serving dish and drizzle with the sauce.

Why this is good for you;
Cauliflower is a sulphurophane vegetable.  This means that (like broccoli and cabbage) it is rich in sulphur which is crucial for detoxification.  Detoxification affects every aspect of our health so if you want clear skin, good energy, mood and to keep clear of any health conditions, these sulphur rich veg are great to eat at least 3 times a week.

Garlic is also rich in sulphur and helps rebalance your gut bacteria in favour of useful micro organisms which ALSO aid detoxification.  In fact over 70% of your detoxification is looked after by good gut bacteria – if you have enough quantity and variety of them!!  Spices like sumac, paprika and black pepper, used to coat food, help reduce the toxic substances generated by roasting/heating food to high temperatures.

Spices (and herbs) also stimulate our body’s antioxidant defenses to keep us looking and feeling better for much, much longer.  Kefir, especially when home-made, is a hypoallergenic milk product that’s really rich in over 30 species of beneficial micro organisms.   Did you know that although many of these micro organisms dont survive the acid in our stomachs they still exert a beneficial effect.   Research has shown that even heat-killed friendly bacteria do us good when we take them.  Who knew!  Of course we really also want to grow our own good bugs, which colonise and cling to the walls of our large intestine.  There they ferment plant fibres (if we eat a big variety of plants) to make short chain fatty acids.  Short chain fatty acids like butyrate are essential for daily repair of our gut.  Get your gut health right and you have at least 90% of your health sorted.

Gretta’s lime coconut energy balls

Gretta’s lime coconut energy balls

My friend Gretta shared the recipe for these delicious no-cook treats (from paleogrubs.com) with me.    So easy and a real crowd-pleaser.  Lovely as a decadent treat with a cup of green tea.  Do use soft moist dates, otherwise the mix doesn’t stick together. I’ve left the measurements in cups because it’s quicker to make that way.  If you are feeling fancy, use miniature  cake/petits fours cases to serve.

As cashews are high in lectins (natural proteins that inhibit digestion) if you have a sensitive gut limit these to one or two and not every day.

1/2 cup (raw) almonds (1 cup is 230ml or a standard mug)
1/2 cup cashews
1½ cup Medjool or other soft moist dates, pitted
Zest and juice of 2 limes (organic if possible)
1/2 cup pure desiccated coconut

1. In a food processor blitz the nuts into small pieces not paste.
2. Add the dates, lime juice, zest. Pulse until the dates are finely chopped and the mix starts to clump.
3. Shape the mixture into 2-3cm  balls. Roll in coconut. Store in fridge where they will keep for 4-5 days (if they last that long!)

Why these are better for you
These contain protein and unrefined oils.  This prevents sugars in the dates from upsetting blood sugar levels (and potentially mood, energy, and concentration).  Because they are made of unrefined ingredients they won’t rob valuable nutrients from your body.  BUT think of these as treats, not staples, because dried fruit particularly, and even nuts, are best eaten sparingly.  Too much dried fruit upsets the balance of bacteria in your gut and too many nuts give you too much omega 6 oil, and our bodies work best on just a little (about 1 tablespoon of raw nuts/seeds a day gives you plenty of omega 6).  Cashews are not the best source of omega 6.  They have to be steamed to make them edible so you can never buy raw cashew nuts. Raw nut oils are best.  Great for a treat though.

Mrs Mooney’s apple sponge (that’s gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free)

Mrs Mooney’s apple sponge (that’s gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free)

This is one of my husband’s favourite desserts, as I discovered when I made it for him last weekend. This recipe is lovely and sweet but without the usual energy-sapping sugar and wheat flour. In fact its totally grain-free but you wouldn’t know it. The sponge is really good – light and moist which usually hard to achieve using grain-based gluten-free flours.

110g butter (or use clarified butter if you are sensitive to casein protein in milk or lactose in butter)
75g xylitol or erythritol
110g ground almonds
2 large beaten eggs
2 lbs cooking apples
30 drops stevia (liquid stevia available from health stores) mixed with 1 tbs water
A little extra butter/clarified butter for greasing

Oven temperature 185C (fan 170C)

  1. Peel, core and slice the apples. Cook them in a heavy bottomed saucepan, covered with a lid, with the stevia drops and water. Stir from time to time to prevent sticking. They should still maintain their sliced shapes.
  2. Cool thoroughly and put into a greased dish – a pyrex dish at least 18 x 18cm square works for me.
  3. Preheat oven to 170C.
  4. Beat the butter/clarified butter and xylitol until pale and fluffy. Slowly add beaten eggs then fold in the ground almonds and spread over the apple.
  5. Bake for around 40 mins. The top should be golden and a skewer inserted in the sponge should come out clean. We found it was very well done after 45 minutes even though the original recipe said to bake for an hour. If it is too coloured on top but not cooked inside, then cover the top with a flat baking sheet or a bit of tinfoil (with some holes in to let steam out) to prevent it getting too brown.

Why this is better for you:
The conventional apple sponge is filled with refined sugar and white flour which depletes your essential nutrients.  Nutrients needed for supporting your immune system so that its neither underactive (infections) nor over-active (autoimmune conditions e.g. hypothyroidism, arthritis).  Nutrients like zinc, vitamin C, B vitamins and magnesium are important for a healthy digestive system, skin and immunity.  We all have different susceptibilities.  In me a magnesium deficiency brought about by a refined diet might show as anxiety or insomnia.  But in you it might manifest as frequent infections.  Magnesium is important for hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body.

Avoca carrot salad

Avoca carrot salad

I was looking for something nice to do with carrots yesterday, found this recipe and adapted it slightly.  We didn’t have the coarse-grain mustard or the honey so we left both out and thought it was still nice.   I like to make up large bowls of salady things like this in the summer, to keep in the fridge for dipping into at mealtimes.  Who wants to spend all evening in the kitchen when the weather’s so nice…

For 2 people (with plenty of leftover dressing):

4 medium carrots
2 tbs sesame seeds
For the dressing:
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
1-3 teaspoons of raw honey (optional)
3 heaped dsp coarsegrain mustard (optional) – if you are gluten-intolerant, make sure you check the label!!
400ml virgin cold-pressed sunflower or sesame oil.  Dont be temped to use toasted sesame oil, the burnt flavour will be far too strong.
200ml red or white wine vinegar (or you could use apple cider vinegar).
200ml extra virgin olive oil

  1. First toast the seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat, shaking every so often, until slightly golden.  Remove from the heat.
  2. Put the dressing ingredients in a large screwtop jar and shake well to mix.
  3. Grate the carrots, add the seeds and enough of the dressing to moisten the whole lot.  Stir and serve. 

Why this is good for you:
Carrots are a brilliant source of carotenes which help protect your eyesight and also give your skin a golden glow, making you look more suntanned.  They also help your skin protect itself against UV rays, like a sort of edible sunblock.  Raw, unheated (virgin) sesame and sunflower oil are high in omega 6, which helps balance your hormones for increased energy, better mood and even smoother, more moisturised skin.  It’s even helpful in reducing PMS.  Extra virgin olive oil, while not high in omega 6, is packed full of vitamin E which moisturises your skin from within.  Vitamin E helps your body conserve and reuse the vitamin C you get in your diet – increasing its benefitial effects.  Vitamin E from olive oil also has an anti-allergy effect.  This means it can help reduce symptoms of hayfever, asthma and skin allergies.  Mustard is a spice andlike most spices has antioxidant properties linked to slowing ageing, soothing inflammatory conditions and balancing your immune system.