Fall Recipes with the Natural Gourmet Institute

Last week you may have caught my Facebook Live in collaboration the Natural Gourmet Institute! This was a super exciting session during which I prepared two delicious recipes from my first cookbook – Superfoods: The Flexible Approach to Eating More Superfoods. Continue reading Fall Recipes with the Natural Gourmet Institute

Cheesy Polenta and Sweet Roasted Butter Beans with a Beetroot Sauce

This dish is a great choice for those who enjoy a cheesy aroma in their cooking without actually having to use any dairy products! It is quick to prepare and can be beautifully presented, which is great for when you have guests over. Apart from the polenta, you will more than likely have all of the ingredients in your kitchen already, meaning it is minimal effort to give it a try!

One of the great perks of following a plant-based diet is having such a fantastic range of foods available to experiment with. Polenta is one such food that you might not be too familiar with if you are new to this way of eating. This yellow delight is made from cornmeal and, although it originated in Italy, is enjoyed all around the world. It is relatively easy to cook and contains iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium, as well as a selection of vitamins. If you are trying to eradicate carb heavy foods, such as bread and pasta, from your diet then polenta can help to satiate your hunger and prevent cravings for these foods.

The following ingredients will make enough to serve four people:

2 cups / 320g quick polenta
1 veggie stock cube
2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast
400g of butter beans, rinsed and drained
3 tsp of sweet paprika
4 pre-cooked beets
2 Tbsp of olive oil + excess for drizzling
2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
250g of tenderstem broccoli

To get started you will first need to preheat your grill to a medium-high heat. You can then make the polenta according to the packet instructions – but be sure to mix in the veggie stock cube with the water that you use to do so. Once the polenta is cooked you must mix in the nutritional yeast and put it to one side. The next step is to spread the butter beans onto a baking tray and drizzle them with olive oil. You should also sprinkle two teaspoons of the sweet paprika on top.

Next, grill the butter beans in your pre-heated oven for five to seven minutes, or until they become brown and crunchy. While the butter beans are roasting, add the broccoli to a pot of water and boil for three minutes before you drain and rinse. The next step is to place the beetroot, two tablespoons of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of sweet paprika into your food processor. Blend these ingredients until they become smooth. Finally, to assemble, place a good sized scoop of polenta onto each of your four plates and top with the beetroot sauce, butter beans and broccoli before you serve!

For more information about optimum nutrition, and to gain access to a selection of other healthy recipes, head over to The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Beans, Beats and Herbs

This colourful dish can either be used as a very light lunch option or alternatively as a fantastic side dish to go with a healthy dinner. Beets are amongst the healthiest foods in the world and they contain a unique type of phytonutrients known as betalains. Research has shown that betalains are amazing for providing antioxidant, detoxification and anti-inflammatory support in the body. The combination of these benefits means great things for the health of the cardiovascular system in particular. Add to this that they are also known to be effective in combatting cancer growth and contain high amounts of manganese, potassium, copper and fibre and you are eating an all-round winner!

If you are a fequent follower of my blog then you will know that coconut oil is a favourite of mine – but you might not know why! Well, it is my opinion (and one widely shared) that it is one of the healthiest oils to cook with. It can help with a whole range of things, from aiding weight loss to improving digestion, as well as boosting your immune system and your metabolism.

To make this dish to serve six people, you will need the following ingredients:

8 x beets
Coconut oil
1 x 400g tin of white beans

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp. capers
1 garlic clove
A handful of mint, parsley and basil
1 tomato
The juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

To get started making this dish, you will first need to preheat your oven to 180C. You must then coat the beets with coconut oil, a splash of water and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. You can then cover the beets with tin foil and roast in the oven for one hour or until the beetroots are cooked through. Once you are sure they are cooked, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Next, combine the beets and the white beans in a large salad bowl.

Now it is time to move on to make the dressing! All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. You must then take this mixture and coat the beets and beans with it. Before you serve, you can top with extra mint, parsley and basil as desired – enjoy!

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Beetroot, Pear and Walnut Wrap

When I created this recipe, I did it entirely for my 14 year old who prefers to take her lunch to school since she recently proclaimed: ‘I’m Vegan!’  So school lunches at school, are rarely ever vegan…..(as much as I’d like them to be!)  I wanted to create something different for her that was also very portable too.  She does a lot of quinoa salads which is fantastic, but I wanted to surprise her with something truly different.  Being her mom, I knew she liked beetroot, wild rice, avocado, sultanas, pear and walnuts and she also likes her veggie burritos – so that’s why I incorporated a whole wheat tortilla as well.   Think of this a jam packed wrap of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  Score, score, score.

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Let’s zoom in on Beetroot for a sec…..

These ruby red beets can definitely help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Research has shown that beets can help reduce blood pressure because of a gas that beets produce called nitric oxide which helps to lower blood pressure.  Hurray!  But there’s more…..

Beets are superior in antioxidants…I mean, just look at the colour! Betacyanin, the lovely pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is THE antioxidant.  And remember, antioxidants can help reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL), which in turn protect are amazing artery walls!

Pregnant or wanting to be?  Well, this beet is one of the best sources of folic acid.  And folic acid is essential to the development of the baby’s spinal cord especially during the first three months of pregnancy.  But not only are beets good for the developing baby, but they’re good for the mom-to-be as they contain iron which believe it or not is a fantastic fatigue fighter!

And for those of us worried about osteoporosis….well….beetroot contains the mineral silica which totally helps the body to utilise the calcium we consume.

Beetroot is low in calories and pretty much fat free.  Even though it has a Glycaemic Index of 64, it has an incredibly low Glycaemic Load of 2,9 which in layman’s terms means that it’s converted into sugars very slowly and in turn helps to keep our blood sugar levels at an even keel.

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And now to the creation which makes about 8 wonderful wraps.

For the Beetroot and Walnut paste:

4 – 5 cooked beetroots, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

small handful of coriander

small handful of parsley

50g walnuts

1 tsp. coconut oil

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

himalayan pink salt, to taste

Literally throw everything into your blender or food processor to create your amazing paste.  Transfer to a bowl for later.

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For the Wild Rice Filling:  (Also, you will need 8 whole wheat tortillas!)

200g wild rice

1 tsp. caraway seeds

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

75g sultanas

100g toasted, flaked almonds

4 large romain lettuce leaves (torn in half)

2 avocados

3 small pears, grated

pink salt, to taste

Bring app. 500 ml of water to a boil and add in the wild rice, caraway seeds and salt.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until tender and all of the liquid is absorbed.  Allow to cool.  Once cooled, add the lime zest and juice, sultanas and almonds – stir in well to combine!

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To Assemble:

Scoop 2 Tablespoons of the beetroot and walnut filling in the middle of each tortilla and cover with one of the torn romaine lettuce leaves.  On top of the lettuce leaf, place a couple of heaped spoonfuls of the wild rice filling.  Finish off with a couple slices of avocado and grated pear.

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Fold the top and bottom edges over the filling and roll the entire tortilla from left to right to wrap it all up.  Yum, Yum, Yum – you are Done, Done, Done!

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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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