Blood-pressure lowering creamy soup with wild garlic leaves and potato

DSC_0891 copiereI love this stuff. I really do. I was so panicked I wouldn’t get the chance to eat them this year that I even thought about going to Romania for 1 week just to eat this soup and eat as much of this plant as possible.

Ramsons or wild garlic leaves are usually available throughout March and April and are a favourite foraging herb due to its taste and properties. You can successfully just ditch the old garlic bulb and use this instead. It has a more richer flavour than plain garlic, but equally strong. Unfortunately for me, due to the fact that I live in a very big city, 20 stories high and work 12 hours a day I really don’t have the luxury of going out foraging for goodies, but I was lucky enough to find these gems in one of our farmers markets.

As garlic, ramson leaves possess all those antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic, anti everything qualities but it has a higher effect in lowering blood pressure and also cleanses the blood. It is rich in vitamin C and iron and normalises the gut flora.

And let’s have a word about potatoes. I noticed a fad diet going around the no-starch diets. I often wonder what’s wrong with people? We need starch! And as all the other cases, it’s not the food that’s the problem, it’s the people. As long as we fry it or bake it with butter and what-not’s of course it’s going to be bad for you and give you a heart attack! But why don’t you boil it, make a beautiful mash out of it or toss it in a salad, with the skin on, and you’ll see it won’t do you any harm as long as you don’t overeat it.

Potatoes contain slow-releasing carbs which keep you energised for a longer period. Also, if eaten properly helps you lower your blood pressure due to it’s kukoamine compound. It has high concentrations of vit. B6, which basically is essential for all new cell formations, ALL. Besides this it is a good source of potassium (more than bananas), copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid. So go on and eat that potato. But pleaseee do make sure it’s organically grown or from a secure source. World-wide, potatoes are among the top 12 fruits and veggies that contain pesticide residues.

This soup is something my mother used to make for me. I love its deep flavour even though it’s basically made out of 3 ingredients. I feel this is the best way to feel the full flavour of these leaves. You start with a garlicky kick and finish with a subtle earthiness that leaves you wanting more, of the soup that is.  To add a bit of texture I usually make a wild garlic pesto or add some croutons; bread or chickpea ones. In this case I did both. DSC_0816 copiere DSC_0908 DSC_0908 copiereDSC_0890 copiereWild garlic and potato soup with wild garlic pesto and chickpeas croutons

Serves:2

Time:10 mins prep, 20 mins cooking

Soup:

1 medium onion

4 medium potatoes

1 or 2 bunches of wild garlic leaves

some oil and salt, water

Pesto:

1 bunch of wild garlic

1 handful or nuts or seeds ( walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc. )

olive oil, lemon, salt

Chickpeas croutons:

2 handfuls chickpeas

olive oil, pepper, paprika

Method:

Soup – Peel and cut the onion and potatoes into medium chunks and saute them for about 5-10 minutes; until they get a bit soft. Cover them with water and boil for about 10 minutes; until the potato is really soft and can be mashed. Meanwhile, wash the leaves and add them to the pot stirring them in the hot water. Do this for 2 minutes. Blend everything with a hand held blender, a high speed blender or just mash with a potato masher.

Pesto – Put all ingredients in the food processor or pestle and mortar and mix them very well, adjust the oil, lemon juice and salt according to your taste.

Chickpeas croutons – Add pre-boiled chickpeas to an oven tray. Sprinkle with olive oil, pepper and paprika. I accidentally dropped more paprika on them but decided to leave it like this. Shove in the oven at 180°C and leave it for 15 minutes.

Mix everything in a bowl and voila, my favourite soup!

Cabbage ”the King”

DSC_0654 copiere

While we are slowly dragging ourselves through the spring hunger gap we’re lucky we still have the cruciferous, cold season veggies.

Among the most popular is the cabbage, while it was popular because it’s relatively easy to grow and keeps well in the pantry, nowadays we found out about all those nutrients hidden inside!

Let’s see: first of all cabbage it’s a nutrient dense veggie but with a very low calorie count. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, vitamin b6, biotin, calcium, magnesium, manganese. But more important are the phytonutrients that act as powerful anti-oxidants and protect against cancer and also help reduce the bad cholesterol in your blood. In fact the cabbage family contains more cancer fighting phytochemical than any other vegetable family and it has a lot of research to back this up. Because of its very high vitamin C content it helps you develop resistance against infectious and inflammatory diseases. In the form of fresh juice (about 1 litre a day), it’s very potent into curing peptic ulcers due to the amino-acid glutamine, which is essential in the process of growth and regeneration of the gastrointestinal tract cells. Potassium helps in keeping the blood pressure low. Folic acid is essential in producing and repairing DNA cells, which help with cell division and cell growth and the production of healthy red blood cells; for these matters it is very recommended for pregnant ladies.

But a very important thing to keep in mind is that cabbage contains a a compound called goitrogens, which interferes with the activity of the thyroid glands in the sense that it inhibits the utilization of iodine. But if your iodine levels are adequate it doesn’t interfere in any significant degree.  Cooking the cabbage may help inactive this compound ( which is found in other cruciferous veggie also). But for you out there who like it raw, if you have more than 3-4 raw servings per week be sure to include food rich in iodine such as algae and all seaweeds, vegetables grown by the sea. I could say fish but not really, if you think about how it is grown and what the fish industry does to our environment and bio-diversity I’d rather not go that road. Unless of course you grow your own fish in sea water :D.

And let’s not forget sauerkraut, which basically means sour cabbage. It’s easily made by cutting the cabbage into thin slices, combine it with salt and let time do its job. In no time the lactic acid bacteria that lives on the surface of the leaves will start breaking down sugars from the cabbage into lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of bad bacteria. So, if you are a vegan or raw vegan this my friends is the perfect probiotic for you.

Now let’s get to eating it. You can eat it raw, shredded into salads. Juice it for that peptic ulcers. Braise it with a bit of semolina on the side, saute it with some onions and carrots; add it into soups! Ooorrr something I just discovered and it made me very excited, you can roast it!! Yes, yes, that’s right, shove it in the oven. You can basically bake any kind of cabbage, just slice it into wedged and cook it for 20-30 mins turning them once.

In an attempt of mixing together winter and spring I made this plate.

Total prepring time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 30-40 mins

Serves 2

DSC_0684 copiere

Wheat berry salad with roasted cabbage and lime dressing

To roast the cabbage:

You will need cabbage obviously (I used half of savoy cabbage)

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Meanwhile, cut the cabbage into wedged, dress it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place it on a backing sheet, in a tray, and shove it in the oven for 20-30 mins. Don’t forget to turn it one time for it to cook evenly.

DSC_0627 copiere

To make the salad:

You will need:

2 handfuls of pre boiled wheat berries

1 bunch radishes

1 or 2 spring onions

Instructions:

Cut the radishes and spring onions into thin slices and mix them with the wheat berries.

DSC_0660 copiere

To make the delish dressing:

You will need:

6tbs hemp seeds

zest + juice from 1 lime

juice from 1/2 lemon

6 tbs unsweetened almond milk or any kind of vegetable milk or water

2 tbs olive oil

a splash of white wine vinegar

salt to taste

Instructions:

Blend everything in a high speed blender. Pour it over your salad and that’s it!

DSC_0639

Now let’s see why this is a complete meal. You get your proteins from the hemp seeds ( complete range of essential amino acids ) and the wheat berries. Fat also from the hemp seeds ( good fatty acids ). Carbs – wheat berries. Minerals and vitamins – cabbage, spring onions, radishes, lime/lemon, hemp seeds and wheat berries. You need all this to get you going, produce new cells, enzymes and hormones that help you function in a balanced, normal way. If you eat diverse and colorful meals you won’t be missing on anything!

Enjoy the spring and you cabbage!

Chocolate dessert, crunchy + creamy

DSC_0888 copiere

As school progresses I learn a lot about the natural state of the human body and the conditions under it works the best. It’s nothing like our life, like my life for that matter. Our body is not designed to resist stress 5 days a week from 8 to 5. If you are in a constant fight or flight mode your body suppresses all of his other functions and thus making you feel fatigued, mentally, spiritually, sexually, etc.

We have to take time to relax, to have deep breaths, to meditate, enjoy life, do what you love and not worry. For me, a big part of this process is food, anything that has to do with it and naturally I crave for sweet, chocolatey treats.

Most of the times when I prepare something, I start with my cravings and work from there with what I have. This time I wanted something creamy like a chocolate mousse and with a crunchy layer so I came up with this.

What will you need:

DSC_0873 copiere

           For the creamy layer I used:                                   For the crunchy layer I used:

1 avocado                                                                  4 tbs of sunflower seeds

50 gr creamed coconut                                           1 tbs honey

3 tbs honey                                                               1 teaspoon cocoa powder

3 tbs cocoa powder

60 ml water or almond milk

3-4 drops of vanilla extract

DSC_0881 copiere

You can skip the creamed coconut it you don’t have any, just add a bit more milk.

How to:

1. In a small bowl I mixed the seeds with the honey and cocoa powder, split the mixture in half and layered it in a small glass bowl.

2. Heat up the water or milk and melt the creamed coconut in it.Toss all ingredients for the chocolate cream into the blender, blend until smooth, layer on top of the sunflower seeds.

This is it! It keeps in the fridge, but it’s going to harden a bit.

How to make celeriac interesting

DSC_0907 copiere

 

Given that it’s the dull winter season in the vegetable world, I’ve been struggling to make meals interesting, but when you only have potatoes, carrots, parsnip, celeriac, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and leek it’s a bit of a challenge. And when I found myself with 3 large celeriac roots sitting in my fridge, I realised grating it into salads won’t be enough so I went on a journey of discovery.

Before we get into the actual recipe we can have a short detour and look a bit at this alien like vegetable that is celeriac.

Celery has been around for a fair amount of years, the leaves being mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey where the ancient Greek used the leaves as laurels to decorate their winning athletes. It has been used as medicine,( particularly the seeds) and it started being used as a food and seasoning in the 1700’s Europe.

The root is an excellent source of vitamin K and C, and a good source of fiber, B6, phosphorus, manganese and potassium, calcium.

In the old days it was used as a diuretic, helping your body’s detox process. Today it has been brought to our attention that it also contains a range of phytonutrients that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and provide digestive and cardiovascular support.

All of this applies to the celery stalks also but be sure to buy organic stalks because it has been found they are in the top vegetables that contain pesticide residues.

Now to the recipe. It has two parts, first is the kale one and then the celeriac one. What I did was make garlic and thyme ”celeriac fries” and rest them on top of marinated kale, decorated with apples. Even though the adding of the apples part might seem a little bit weird, I assure you it’s not. The polyphenols from apples break down the sulfur compounds in garlic, so you ward off the smelly breath and it also gives an extra nice texture to the whole recipe. And another thing is that neither kale or celeriac have a lot of carbs ( which basically is sugar that gives you energy) and after eating this you might feel the need of something sweet.

Sesame marinated Kale

DSC_0847 copiere

I don’t give exact measurements of quantities because it’s up to you.

You take a bunch of kale, wash it, and rip it from the stems in desired size. Add olive oil, lemon, and salt and massage everything into the leaves, this will help break the hardness of kale.

In a pan, heated at low to medium heat, pour some sesame seeds and stir them until they become brownish. Add to the kale and massage some more. Be careful with the hot seeds.

If you don’t have kale, replace them with salad leaves but leave the massage part out!

DSC_0866 copiere

Garlic and thyme celeriac fries

DSC_0861 copiere

You will need:

1 medium celeriac root

3 or 4 garlic cloves (or more if you wish)

a handful of thyme stalks

olive or coconut oil, salt and pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven at 180°C.

2. Peel the celeriac and cut in into fries size bites.

3. Add them to a pan filled with cold water. Bring to a boil. Drain them and leave them to steam dry.

4. Meanwhile, in a bowl, add the olive oil, salt and pepper, crush the garlic cloves and add the thyme leaves. Add the dry celeriac and toss.

5. Line a baking tray with baking paper (it’s not necessary but sometimes I am too lazy to wash oily trays), add the celeriac fries and be careful not to overlap them.

6. Bake for 40 mins.

*recipe adapted from My Fussy Eater

DSC_0929 copiere

Enjoy with kale and apples!

DSC_0903 copiereDSC_0921 copiere

P.S I wrote this while eating 2 bowls of this Soup which also contains celeriac 😀

Bon courage!

15-minutes Probiotic Soup

DSC_0769 copiere

There are 2 reasons why I developed this soup recipe. One is that I really like soup, the traditionally boiled one, but sometimes I just want it a little bit fresher. And the second one is that eating a mostly plant based diet, I feel that I’m lacking probiotics from it.

What are probiotics and why do we need them?

As you know, the human body contains a lot more bacteria than it actually contains human cells. Even though we have developed a phobia for bacteria we have to understand that our relation to it is a mutual one. We help them, they help us, and together we form an ecosystem. But with the lifestyle today, much of this concept it’s being dismissed. With doctors prescribing antibiotics for mostly all illnesses, with genetically modified foods and our precarious diets, emotional stress and lack of sleep linked to our fast-paced lifestyle we diminish the number of good bacteria that lives in our body even though we need them. Studies on this matter have begun to develop in the last years and much of the existing ones concentrate on our gut bacteria.

After numerous experiments and tests, we found out what our intestinal flora, when the good and bad bacteria are in balance, does for us. Some of the most important: it strengthens the immune system, it prevents growth of harmful bacteria and eliminates part of it along with toxins and chemicals, it produces vitamins and hormones useful to our body. When the bacterial flora is out of balance it can produce diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, fatigue, allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders and infections.

Probiotics are microorganisms, similar, or the same as the bacteria already living in your gut. When ingested, help the existing flora by balancing it and help you improve your intestinal functions and immune system.

Where can I get probiotics from?

In a traditional diet, you can easily get probiotics from yogurt, soft cheese and kefir, but make sure they are as clean as possible, meaning with as least processing as possible and from ecological and trusted sources to ensure maximum of useful bacteria. If you have access, eat them mindfully.

But if you are like me, with almost no sources for this dairy goodies, there are a lot of other probiotic foods out there. You can try sauerkraut, which is basically shredded cabbage and salt, left to ferment for a couple of weeks. Or, if you have access to, you can go the Asian way, eating miso, tempeh or natto, all made from fermented soy beans, or kimchi which is fermented cabbage with a lot more condiments that sauerkraut.

 

colajServes: 1

You can replace the miso soup with vegetable broth( this way you lose the probiotic quality of the soup, but still get to make it ) and can try different raw veggies like mushrooms, asparagus, kale and seaweed that are easily soften by hot water. Did not give measurement for veggies as you can make your own mix.

What you need:

1 teaspoon miso paste

1 cup water

Soba noodles ( or any kind of noodles )

Tofu cut into cubes

Cherry tomatoes ( or big ones, cut into small pieces )

Broccoli florets

Snowpeas

Leeks or sping onions, finely chopped

Method:

1. Boil your noodles following package instructions. Once boiled, place them in a bowl.

3. Cover noodles with desired vegetables.

2. Bring the water to a boil, add the miso paste and stir. Once the water returnes to a boil and the miso paste is completely dissolved, pour the water over the noodles and veggies.

4. Cover for 5 minutes.

Munch !

DSC_0709 copiere

Pickled turmeric

You’ve probably already heard about the powers of turmeric so I’m not going to bother you too much with that but there are some things worth mentioning.

It’s been around for thousand of years, but it has just made it’s way to the western world mostly due to recent scientific discoveries. It has been used for ages in the Indian and Chinese medicine, mostly for it’s anti-inflammatory qualities and for conditions like menstrual problems, flatulence, hemorrhage, tooth-aches, chest-pains and much more. Due to recent studies, we now know that what gives it it’s healing powers is it’s yellow pigment, the curcumin and it’s been compared with heavy drugs like hydrocortisone, phenylbutazone and the known and widely used ibuprofen but unlike these, it presents no toxic effects and it’s currently being used for it’s anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant properties.

By strong antioxidant I mean really strong, it protects cells from free radicals that damage the DNA cells and eventually lead to cancer, it destroys already mutated cancer cells and it inhibits tumor growth so basically it aids and inhibits cancer in all it’s stages from initiation to promotion and progression. Since the attention given to it is relatively new we still have a long way to go to understand all it’s power but the experimental and preliminary evidence of it’s cancer fighting properties forces us to take it into consideration.

Besides fighting cancer it helps in the prevention of heart disease, degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson and multiple sclerosis.

So if you see the powder or roots but you don’t know what to do with it, just buy it, take it home,research it, look for recipes and use it ASAP. Now let’s get to mine.

 

DSC_0819 copiere

Turmeric is a part of the ginger family and it’s roots look a lot like the ginger ones only smaller and with an orange flesh. It is usually used in powder form but I wanted to give a try to the fresh alternative.

Now usually when I buy something I haven’t tried before I eat it raw to feel it’s inherited texture and taste. I did just that but in the process I made my teeth yellow :), so extra care with that. Did you know that Hindu people use it’s pigment to dye they’re holy robes?

Getting back to our business, I, unfortunately, am not a big fan of dried spices ( but I’m trying to educate myself in this direction ) so I wanted to eat the actual root and I found that the best way is to pickle it. Once you do this, you’ll discover that it gets a really nice and crispy texture while it maintains it peppery and warm taste and you can add it to salads or use it as a topping. It really is a great asset to my fridge  and I want to always have a turmeric jar in it!

DSC_0898 copiere

What you need:

Sealed jar

Protective gloves

Turmeric roots

Carrots

Lemons

Method:

 First you put on you’re gloves and start peeling the turmeric. Peel the carrots also. I used around 350 grams of turmeric and 3 large carrots but you can mix them how you wish. Slice them to desired thickness, add them to the jar, it doesn’t matter if you can’t fill it up. Next just juice the lemons ( I used around 6 ) over the roots so it covers them. Seal the jar and keep it in the fridge for a week. Shake it from time to time. Done.

2

3

Fără titlu-1 copiere

I chose to serve it on seeds bread over a basil pesto. It goes really well with avocado toast too. If you’re worried about the lemon juice wasting, don’t. You can successfully use the infused lemon juice to spice up dishes.

DSC_0825 copiere

Before I let you go, please gaze into this carrot eyes…

morcovi close up

Thai style salad

DSC_0720 copiere

I know it’s not a seasonal salad and it has some weird combination of ingredients. And I know that mixing fruits with anything else is not a good idea. But believe you me, this salad is totally acceptable ( any Adventure Time fans?) even more it is fabulous.

It’s juicy and crispy, soft and crunchy, salty and sweet, fresh and savoury, it’s everything, it literally is like a party in your mouth. Me and my loved one like it so much we share it with all of our friends.

Most of the trick to this salad lies in the dressing. Even if you don’t have all ingredients I suggest you keep the soy sauce, lemon, olive oil and spring onion ( or bulb onion ). It’s a good starter or even a meal.

Fără titlu-1 copiere

Fără titlu-2 copiere

Thai style salad

adapted from: Vegan – 100 everyday recipes

You can alter the quantity of ingredients that go into this salad as you like. For example my boyfriends likes it with extra beansprouts and me with extra salad leaves and lemon. Experiment with it. Make your own version.

Salad:

1 mango – under ripe ( not too soft )

5 romaine salad leaves ( or any salad leaves )

1 cup beansprouts ( or sprouts, but they must be crunchy )

1 handful parsley or coriander leaves

roasted almonds ( or unroasted if you prefer to keep the overall raw method )

Dressing:

juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp honey

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

red chilli pepper, thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh chopped mint

2 tbs olive oil

Method:

1. Mix salad ingredients.

2. For the dressing, mix the wet ingredients and stir to melt the honey. Add the rest and pour it over the salad.

3. Munch.

DSC_0724 copiere