Parsley – The Healthy, Healing Herb!

Parsley is a great tasting herb that can easily be grown by even the most non-green fingered person in the home. It not only tastes good but also has a very high nutritious content and is revered for its healing properties. Native to the Mediterranean region, parsley can be used in all sorts of recipes and bought fresh all year round. Although it may just look like an ordinary plant, parsley has a selection of unusual components that provide unique nutritious benefits.

There are several different types of parsley, some more fragrant then others, all of them contain amazing amounts of health boosting properties. Having been grown and cultivated for more than 2000 years, parsley was first used for its medicinal properties and only later in cooking. In ancient times, the Greeks even used it to decorate the grave areas of their dead as they considered it to be sacred.

Packed full of antioxidants, parsley has been studied at great length and has been proven to combat the existence of free radicals in the body whilst also increasing the oxygen capacity in blood cells. The high concentration of vitamin C and vitamin A in this herb means that it is incredibly useful for preventing disease and generally keeping the body healthy. Vitamin C is especially useful in keeping the immune system operating at an optimum function. This means that it’s not only good for keeping serious illness at bay but also protecting you against things like colds and infections.

Parsley - The Healthy, Healing Herb! grassrootsandgrains (2)

Beta-carotene is one of the most useful antioxidants that can be found in parsley and is particularly productive in slowing the development of several ailments. It is also great for reducing symptoms of certain diseases, making existing problems easier to live with. If you’re looking for a way to compliment exercise and improve your cardiovascular health, then a diet rich in parsley and other similar foods is a fantastic place to start. With a good concentration of folic acid, it will assist in keeping blood vessels healthy and reduce the risk of heart related diseases.

Including parsley more in your diet can easily be done without really changing your eating habits much at all. Whenever you can, always use fresh parsley instead of the dried kind, growing your own is the best way to have a constant supply. Storing it in the fridge is the favoured way to keep it better for longer unless you are picking it off the plant as and when you need it. If you’re cooking any kind of soup or curry, then parsley can be blended in for added flavour and nutrition. It can also be added to any sauce mix for dishes such as pasta or pizza. Salads are also a great meal to add this herb too and can add flavour to even the dullest leafy dish!

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Coconut Breakfast Bowls

What better way to combat Monday morning and start the week properly then with a seriously tasty and incredibly healthy Coconut Breakfast Bowl! This is my absolute favourite breakfast treat and is one of the first things I tuck in to on at least three occasions during the week! It’s not just a favourite of mine but also of all four of my kids and is so simple to make that even my oldest at 14 can easily prepare a bowl for the entire family – when she’s feeling helpful that is!

coconutbreakfastbowls3Across all of the Pacific Islands, palm trees are known as ‘The Trees of Life’ and they believe that coconuts are the cure for all illness. Whilst this may not actually be true, coconuts are fantastic for the immune system as they’re anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal – essentially they have the capacity to kill of harmful things which threaten your body. Not only this but they’re also totally delicious and a nutritious source of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and fibre. Add to this that they’re loaded with calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as containing a high concentration of electrolytes. I could go on and on and on about these amazing fruits, however instead here is the recipe to make Coconut Breakfast Bowls by yourself. The ingredients listed below are enough to feed two but you can always double up if you have more mouths to feed!

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Handful of chopped, fresh coconut
1/2 a banana
1/2 an avocado
1/4 a cucumber
A handful of blueberries
2 dates, de-stoned
8 basil leaves
The juice of 1 lime
1 inch piece of ginger
1 cup coconut water

All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients together in a food processor and blend together! No mess, no fuss then you can serve in a bowl and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a fantastic way to cleanse your body and increase your energy levels then check out my 21-Day Green Smoothie Challenge!  By just including one smoothie a day in your diet you can soon get your body working and looking the way you want it to. With improved energy and a healthier body you’ll also notice that your ability to focus will also improve and you’ll experience better moods.

coconutbreakfastbowls4Having a diet that contains a decent amount of fresh fruit and vegetables is such a great way to maintain your general health and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have to be difficult or overly expensive. By removing processed, fatty foods from your diet and replacing them with healthier, natural alternatives, you will readily be able to notice that difference in yourself and your attitude to the world around you!

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Ginger and Umeboshi Aubergines

Ginger and Umeboshi Aubergines is a fantastically filling side dish that will perfectly complement any nutritious meal. When you’re shopping for your ingredients, try to select a wide range of aubergines to make your meal much more beautiful and fun to make. The aubergines in my recipe were the purple and white striped “greek” variety, the skinny “little fingers” aubergine and the baby aubergine, all purchased from Clapham Whole Foods in London. So to get started creating this meal for four, you’ll need to acquire the following items:

500g of a selection of auberginesGinger and Umeboshi Aubergines grassrootsandgrains1
Rapeseed oil for frying
2 small onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 red chilli, chopped finely
2cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp. umeboshi paste
1.5 tsp. coconut palm sugar or agave nectar
75ml water
The flesh of 1 small mango
Sea salt

To begin you must first take all of the aubergines you have selected and cut them into 1.5cm slices. You can then place them in a dish and sprinkle with a good quality sea salt before leaving them to sit for 30 minutes. As these 30 minutes are coming to an end you must then add a splash of oil to a pan in order to fry the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger. Once the onions have begun to brown and soft, you can then add the spices into the pan and continue to fry for a few more minutes. Now that these ingredients have been combined and cooked, you can remove them from the pan and place in a separate dish.Ginger and Umeboshi Aubergines grassrootsandgrains2

Using a clean tea towel or some kitchen roll, wipe the salted aubergines until they are dry and then place them into the pan that you previously fried the other ingredients in. Whilst doing this, it may be necessary to add a dash more oil into the pan. Keep frying until the aubergines are golden on both sides and then pop them into your oven on a fairly low setting, just to keep the warm.

It is now time to take the fried onion mixture and return it to the frying pan. You must also now include the umeboshi paste, sweetener and the 75ml of water. Allow this concoction to boil then stir well and leave it to simmer for five minutes. Once finished, move the mixture from the frying pan into a food processor and chuck in the flesh of the mango. Blitz together for 30 seconds before returning to the dish.

Now you can have some fun with the presentation by arranging the aubergine slices onto a platter. The sauce that you have just created in the blender can now be drizzled over the top and the rest served on the side of the dish. Present on the dinner table alongside your meal and your whole family will be satisfied until breakfast!Ginger and Umeboshi Aubergines grassrootsandgrains4

Aubergines are revered as a health food and loved by many for their low calorie count and their rich fibre content. Eating 100g of aubergine will provide you with just 24 calories but will also account for nearly 10% of your recommended daily allowance of fibre. The skin of the aubergine is just as good for you as the flesh itself and contains an impressive amount of anti-oxidants. Aubergines also rate incredibly low on the glycemic index of vegetables.

The vitamins that can be found in aubergines are essential to the body’s process of replenishing proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Also you can find great amounts of potassium, copper, iron and manganese in this tasty vegetable which are all fantastic for keeping the body functioning well. With all of these factors considered, you can understand why aubergine is an all round amazing addition to your diet!

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Grass, Roots & Grains Veggie Burgers

So the snow has fallen in abundance in London causing the schools to close and all four of my children to be at home! My kids are so active and into every sport imaginable, therefore chaos is the norm in our house. For this reason it’s not very often that the six of us are all together at the same time so what a treat it was to be snowed in! I relished the opportunity to get them all cooking together in the kitchen and that’s where this week’s recipe was born.

My kids are definitely lovers of veggie burgers. They’re the kids who order them at burger restaurants, at pool side cafes or even birthday parties and I’m so proud of them for it! Eating a wholesome veggie burger is like getting an injection of so many nutrients rather than cholesterol and saturated fat. So it was a unanimous decision – we would make their favourite and my speciality, Grass, Roots & Grains Veggie Burger….served, of course, with a side of sweet potato chips and green peas!

If you’re getting ready to make this dish at home yourself then first you’ll need to raid the supermarket for the following ingredients:

125g or 3/4 cup of whole-wheat couscous
100g or 1/2 cup red lentils
1 tbsp. whole meal flour
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 a bunch of coriander
1 courgette, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tablespoon, tahini
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper

Once you have gathered the necessary ingredients you can begin by putting all of the couscous into a bowl and pouring 200ml of seasoned boiling water over it. A simple bouillon is perfect for this and will really flavour the couscous. Quickly mix together before covering and placing to one side.P1050292

You can then rinse your half a cup of lentils and place in a pan with 300ml of water and bring to the boil. After about twenty minutes in the pan, the lentils should have become soft so it’s now time to drain and chuck them into your food processor. Now is also the time to include the diced onion, carrot, courgette and tomato along with all of the spices and herbs, flour and tahini.

Once all of your ingredients are blended together you can remove the mixture from the blender and add it to the bowl of couscous that you prepared earlier. You must now mix the two concoctions together vigorously with your hands. As soon as your couscous combination is ready, you can wet your hands and have some fun moulding the mixture into burger shapes. With the amount of ingredients used you will have enough burger mix to make four burgers, or alternatively you could make more slightly smaller burgers.P1050299

Your burger patties can now be added to a frying pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil and cooked for three or four minutes on each side. As soon as they’re ready you can pop them out of the pan and into wholemeal baps. Garnish in any which way you like and enjoy!

The combination of vegetables inside these burgers is a great mix and provides a generous amount of nutrition in each portion. Tomatoes are an amazing source of antioxidants, especially lycopene which protects the body from those nasty free radicals. Courgettes are also prized for their antioxidant values as well as their high potassium count which is great for your blood pressure. Similarly onions and carrots are rich sources of vitamins and nutrients, especially beta-carotene for the latter which helps maintain your vision.

Although the burgers are technically cooked, the amount of time they are heated for will allow for lots of nutrients that are normally lost through cooking at high temperatures to remain.

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Beetroot, Celeriac & Orange Salad

When you’re craving something that’s healthy and light to satisfy your taste buds as well as filling you up, sometimes a simple salad just doesn’t cut it. Keeping things interesting in the kitchen is the key to sticking to a healthy diet and this Beetroot, Celeriac & Orange Salad will help you do just that. It will take you less than 40 minutes to create and will keep you full for much longer afterwards. To get going, first you need to make sure you have got the following ingredients:

2 french candy beetroots
1/2 a celeriac
1 big handful fresh parsley
1 big handful coriander
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. orange blossom water
A pinch of sea salt and black pepper

To begin, take your two beetroots and firstly peel and then cube them. For extra variety in your meal you can use one yellow beetroot and one red one. Repeat this peeling and cubing with the celeriac and then you can start cooking the beetroot in a very small amount of water. When necessary you should continue to add water in moderation to ensure that it does not dry out. Approximately 20 minutes after the beetroot has begun cooking, you can then add the peeled and cubed celeriac to the pan and continue heating in the water.

Allow the beetroot and the celeriac to cook together for another 15 minutes before you remove from the heat, drain and leave to cool in a separate container. If you do choose to use two different coloured beetroots then you may find that the colours blend together, but don’t worry – it will still have the same great taste!

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Once the contents of your container have cooled, you can then add the generous handful of fresh parsley and the same amount of coriander. You can now take the juice and zest of the orange and whisk it together with the ginger, cumin, cinnamon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar as well as the orange blossom water. All of these ingredients combined together will create a delicious dressing which you can then drizzle over the vegetables.

This is an absolutely stunning salad, both in terms of appearance and flavour. It is also great for your body as all of the ingredients have health boosting properties. Beetroot is fantastic for increasing your stamina and helping your muscles work harder for longer. It is therefore something that you should seriously think about including in your diet frequently if you enjoy any kind of sport.

Beetroot is jam-packed full of potassium, iron, magnesium, folic acid and a selection of vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins. Also, as well as improving your energy, beetroot will help lower your cholesterol and stabilise your blood sugar levels. The best thing is, as it has so much goodness in such a little portion, you don’t have to try too hard to include an adequate amount in your diet.

Low in calories and high in fibre, celeriac is also a vegetable that your body will thank you for. Several studies have suggested that some compounds found in celeriac provide protection against certain forms of cancer. Additionally, if you have been looking for a simple way to increase your vitamin K intake, then this is the ingredient you’ve been searching for!

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Why Turmeric is the New Kale!

Turmeric is a spice that is most commonly associated with curry dishes, beyond this it is also a very versatile ingredient that has a huge range of health benefits. The spice itself is a derivative of the root of the Curcuma longa plant, which has an orange flesh and a rough brown skin.

As well as being used in cooking, turmeric also has other useful properties, most commonly being hailed as an anti-inflammatory in some Eastern medicine practices. The conditions that it is believed to treat are wide and varied from flatulence to jaundice and toothache to chest pain. Studies suggest that turmeric prevents cholesterol oxidising in the body which contributes greatly to the protection of your cardiovascular system. Due to turmeric being able to encourage the liver to increase the amount of messenger proteins that are being produced, it is in turn able to reduce cholesterol in the body. Many studies also now suggest that turmeric is a a great defender against certain neurodegenerative problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Less commonly it has also proved useful as a dye for textiles.

Getting more turmeric into your diet doesn’t have to be a difficult process. If you love curry then you can happily slip a teaspoon or two into your recipe; this will work well regardless of the type of curry you are making, be it meat, fish or vegetable. You can also use turmeric in many other recipes such as to sautée vegetables or even in soups.

When it comes to vitamins, turmeric is a fantastic source of vitamin B6, this is essential for maintaining your blood vessels and preventing heart disease. This spice is also a great source of iron, manganese, potassium and fibre. Iron has so many amazing benefits, especially for muscle and brain function. Similarly, manganese and potassium ensure healthy bones as well as blood pressure and blood sugar levels respectively.

As you can observe, turmeric is an all round excellent spice for both its medicinal properties and flavour qualities; one  that should be included in your everyday diet!

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Green Pea Hummus

Green Pea Hummus is a simple to make dip that is bursting with nutrients. If you’re having a party or just a few people over then this is a great dish to make, especially served with some toasted pitta bread. It’s so quick to make that you can put it together fresh every time with absolutely minimal fuss. To create this recipe you will only need a handful of ingredients and most of you will already have a bag of frozen peas in the freezer ready to be used. So, what you will need is:

500g or 1lb 2oz frozen peas
2 tablespoons of tahini
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
A pinch of cayenne pepper, to serve

Firstly take the 500 grams of frozen peas and boil them in a pan of water for approximately five minutes. Once they have boiled you should drain them and give them a quick rinse under some cold water. You can then place all of them in your vitamix or food processor whilst also adding the tahini, the juice of the lemons, a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, the peeled garlic cloves and the cumin and coriander.

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Once you’ve blended everything together you may find that you have to add two or three tablespoons of cold water to thin it out slightly, however this isn’t always the case so if it already looks great, then leave it! Now you can mix in some sea salt and black pepper to taste and serve in a bowl. The final touch to this tasty dish is to sprinkle cayenne pepper over the top and it’s then ready to be eaten! The colour and appearance of this dip is much more appealing then a normal hummus dip and is sure to get any guests asking for the recipe.

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Green peas are amongst the most nutritious vegetables and are full of a huge variety of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories and contain absolutely no cholesterol. Peas are an especially great source of vitamin C which is essential for helping your body fight infections and illness. Vitamin K is also found in abundance in green peas which is necessary for maintaining healthy bones and ensuring your blood clots as it should.

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Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Soup with Coriander

Here’s a great recipe if you’re looking for a meal to warm you up this winter that’s also packed full of goodness – Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Soup with Coriander. This is a fairly easy to make dish that doesn’t require too many ingredients; you’ll likely find that you have most of them in the cupboards already!

To get started creating this gorgeous meal, which will easily be enough to feed four people, this is what you’ll need:

Approximately 1 kg (2lb 4 oz) butternut squash
Coconut oil for frying or  a splash of vegetable stock
2 medium onions
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
175g (6oz) brown rice
Fresh coriander (cilantro)

To start, take your butternut squash and cut it up into manageable chunks. Make sure you save all of the seeds as they will come in useful later! You then need to chop up the two onions and decide whether you are using coconut oil or veg stock to fry them in. Once you have made your choice, you can heat some in the pan and chuck the onions in. As the onions are frying you can then add the garlic, the spices and the chilli to the pan. Stir it all together for a few seconds and then add the butternut squash.

Make sure that you stir the contents of the pan well before you pour in your vegetable stock, then bring it to the boil. Once you’ve reached this point you can add half of the rice and set the pan to simmer.

You should now pop the seeds you’ve saved into the oven to toast! There are two things that you can do with these seeds later on, depending on your preferences. Either add them into the first pan which is to be blended later; alternatively you can use them on top of your soup with the coriander garnish. If you are going to add the seeds into the first pan then you will need a high performance blender, such as a Vitamix, to do this properly.

Whilst your first pan is simmering you can then boil the rest of the rice in water for approximately 15 minutes. Alternatively you can just use your rice cooker. If you decide to do the rice in a pan then make sure you set the rice to drain as soon as it’s ready.

After 30 or so minutes, the butternut squash should be soft and cooked through. This means it’s time to take it off the heat. You can now blend it before returning it to the pan and adding the other batch of drained, cooked rice. Now that everything is cooking together you can set the pan to simmer and season to your desired taste.

Your soup can now be garnished with coriander and served!IMG_0292

Whilst you’re enjoying your delicious meal it will also please you to know that what you’re eating is just as good for your body as it is for your taste buds! Butternut squash is full of antioxidants and vitamins, and is also a very low calorie vegetable. It contains absolutely no cholesterol or saturated fat but it is a fantastic source of fibre.

The most prevalent vitamin in butternut squash is vitamin A which is a powerful weapon for keeping your skin healthy. It is also a great vitamin for maintaining good eyesight and it has even been suggested that it can help the body in the fight against some cancers.

Whenever you use butternut squash, it’s a great idea to keep and use the seeds. These seeds are an amazing source of fibre and have many benefits for the health of your heart. They are full of minerals, proteins and vitamins that will do your body wonders.  Enjoy!

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