Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup and some Chia Seeds

This is my contribution to international soup day which recently just passed.

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

1 kg tomatoes
2 biggish red peppers (deseeded)
1 onion
1 tsp garlic
½ spring fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup beef / vegetable stock
2 tots sherry
1 tin tomato paste
olive Oil
salt
pepper
sugar
fresh basil

Cut a cross into the top of the tomatoes, with the peppers place onto a roasting tray, sprinkle salt, pepper olive oil and rosemary. Roast at 200°C for 45 minutes.

Chop onions and fry off in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of sugar until nicely caramelized, deglaze the pot with 1 tot of sherry, add garlic and tomato paste, fry until the oils starts slowly splitting from the tomato paste, deglaze the pot once more with the 2nd tot of sherry.

Add your roasted tomatoes and peppers and cook off for 10 minutes.  Add  salt & pepper and blitz up.  Add the fresh basil and blitz more until smooth.  Your soup at this stage will be really thick.

Add 1 cup of stock of choice and cook over a low heat for about 3 hours.  If your soup thickens up to much, just add a little more stock and cook out more.  You want the end result to be thick but not to chunky.

Add desired seasoning to taste and enjoy with fresh bread.

I roasted 2 or 3 cloves of garlic and just rubbed my ciabatta with it, with some fresh goats cheese, and it complimented the soup wonderfully.

I like to add Chia seeds to my soup.  I had done a little post about Chia seeds before, but here is a some more that I learnt and a slight update on how I am using it.

After further research on chia seeds, I have learnt the more nutritional way to use them.  Take 1/3 cup of chia seeds to 2 cups of water, mix and place in the fridge.  You are looking for a gel type substance that can last in your fridge for 3 weeks.  That is the substance you add to your smoothies or soups to really get the full punch of the chia seeds.  The gel that is formed is ready to eat in 10 minutes, however the longer the chia seeds stand in a liquid (water, juice smoothies etc) the more you will benefit from the nutritional value of it. Just an update on how chia seeds improve your lifestyle:
Provides energy
Boosts strength
Bolsters endurance
Levels blood sugar
Induces weight loss
Aids intestinal regularity

So I am going to start with a new challenge I have set myself this winter.  I am going to start with having chia seeds 3 times a day, eat healthy and properly, and slowly bring in basic exercise again, and of course, take my yoga seriously again.  Time for a change of life, maybe that will motivate me again!

Get yourself some!

Chickpea Greek Salad

A while ago I was thrown a curve ball in for a lunch order. This gentleman was a vegetarian but it had to be gluten free. I was stunned, because one could easily balance a vegetarian meal with a pasta of sorts, or even a nice gourmet sandwich. But gluten free…eish.

So I did a Chickpea Greek Salad, but I made it slightly more interesting. The best part is this keeps my healthy eating / living theme going strong.

Chickpea Greek Salad

1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
Spinach
cucumber
red cabbage
calamata olives
Danish feta
tomatoes
onions
Balsamic vinegar
Olive Oil
Chia Seeds

Create your salad in the style you wish, as you can see I enjoy large chunky pieces, I am not a huge fan of chopped salad style salads. Drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some chia seeds on top.
Well balanced salad. You can use it as a filling for a wrap as well.

Rawlicious Challenge – Mung Bean & Goji Berry Sweet Potato and Day 31 of March Food Photo Challenge

I rolled both Tandy’s challenge as well as the final day of March Food Photo Challenge into one today. My recipe is for Mung Bean & Goji berry Sweet Potato, topped with Roasted Beetroot Yogurt Dressing.

The whole Raw Food concept really does intrigue me, however, I do find it really difficult to to go complete raw, hence why my recipe is not 100% Raw, but again, you can just make the salad part and that would be classified as Raw.
I did a lot of research for this challenge, and chose certain ingredients for reasons.

The sweet potato, I admit freely that it has to be my top 5 ingredients to work with. I have to try and stick to low GI due to the insulin resistance I have in my body, so the sweet potato is my replacement for potatoes. The sweet potato stabilizes blood sugar & improves response to insulin; it is high in vitamin A & beta carotene, which therefore results as a great superfood for the skin.

I used Mung Beans, instead of cooking, I just sprouted them, when you do this, you release Vitamin C in them, to add to the other packed vitamins A, K and B6, mung beans are high in fibre and slow down the release of calories into the blood stream, as well as slow down of digestion which also stabilizes blood sugar. Although a bean, it has a low content of protein so you can’t use it as a complete meal.

Goji Berries are recently acquired goodness. I have to admit, I do enjoy them. Also known as one of the superfoods, Goji berried are great for stamina, weight loss and maintain blood glucose levels. These little berries are a great immune system booster and enhance the body to fight off diseases, lowers blood cholesterol, as well as great for the skin.

Beetroot, being not only on my list of top 5, is also a great antioxidants. Beetroot is a rich source of carbohydrates, a good source of protein, and has high levels of important vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. It is a good source of dietary fibre, has practically no fat, and no cholesterol. This makes beetroot relatively low in calories

Mung Bean & Goji Berry Sweet Potato with Roasted Beetroot Yogurt Dressing
Serves 4 – 6

4 medum size sweet potato
½ cup mung beans
40g yellow & 40g red peppers
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp goji berries
½ cup spinach
½ yellow cling peach
1 small fresh chilli
2 button mushrooms
1 large beetroot
½ cup plain low fat yogurt
seasoning
fresh rosemary
balsamic vinegar
fete cheese
Chia seeds

Wrap the sweet potato and beetroot (with a splash of balsamic vinegar) individually with tin foil and roast off in the oven for 60 minutes at 200 C. ( Now this part is not part of a normal Raw Diet, so you can either omit this part and have this as a salad, or you can cook your sweet potato at 47 C for I am going to guess a good 5 – 6 hours, and you can use raw beetroot.)

Dice up the yellow pepper, ginger, peach, mushrooms, and chilli, add to the mung beans. You want it all more or less the same size. Crumb the feta cheese into the mixture and add goji berries.

Once the beetroot is ready, cut up and place into a food processor with the yogurt, and some chopped rosemary. Season. You want a smooth consistency.

Cut open the sweet potato and scoop some out so you have a hollowing which you can fill. Shred the spinach and add to the mung bean salad. I like to add a little of the dressing in the pocket, and then add the mixture on top, drizzled with a little more dressing. Of course you have to finish it off with some chia seeds sprinkled on top, just because they are so good for you!

Roasted Cumin Beetroot Wrap & healthy eating

I have not really posted much this month, it has been a crazy month, but I do try and do the March Food Photo Challenge, unfortunately, I have to step out of the April challenge as time is a slight challenge.

My mission right now is healthy and as natural as possible, keeping food very simple and basic, incorporating raw ingredients where I can. I am working on the challenge set out by Tandy, I have a few more days!

I watch TV shows like Come Dine With Me and I cringe because even though it’s simple, it’s also bland, which it doesn’t have to be at home. Herbs and spices are so easily available, just a little of something and something can lift a dish so much further.

So back to my healthy eating, I have been thinking a lot about nutrition and what we pollute our bodies with, now don’t get me wrong, I am very guilty of enjoying the bad foods, but at the same time, I do like to keep healthy where I can. I have also started slowly reducing my meat intake, but at the same time, not cutting out my protein completely. I just source it from other things, other than meat. What I have cut down by a good 95% is my wheat intake. I get carbs from sources other than bread.

Roasted Cumin Beetroot Wrap
serves 1

120g Beetroot
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
salt
pepper
fresh garlic
70g Danish feta
lettuce
1 tsp goji berries
1wrap
olive oil spray
balsamic reduction of your choice

I don’t peel my beetroot as all the nutrients sit just under the skin. However feel free to do so. Lightly spray your beetroot, seasoning with salt, pepper, cumin and a little garlic and roast in an oven at 200 for 50 minutes. Set aside to cool

Cut your beetroot into cubes, crumble your feta in, add your roasted pumpkin seeds and goji berries. Lay lettuce out on your wrap and add beetroot mixture, drizzled with balsamic reduction and enjoy.

Mixed Berry & Granola Smoothie and wonderful ladies night out

I love surprises, and wow did I receive one last night. About 2 weeks ago, myself and J were invited for dinner, I found it rather strange but none the less accepted, last night when we got to our hosts house, I didn’t smell any food cooking nor see any tables set, and when I walked in, a great big SURPRISE was called out. All the ladies decided I needed my first “wives” dinner out. Sadly I didn’t get any photos as I didn’t take my camera with, but it was such a wonderful evening.

We went to Five Elements, and again, I really enjoyed every moment. It is the fine dining restaurant in the area, and given not a restaurant you can go to every week, it is definitely a must for any special occasion ( boy oh boy do I find special occasions!)

The atmosphere is wonderful, do pop on over to the website and have a squiz.

Again, no photos, but I can tell you what I had!

I started with a dish called Fire & Ice – seared Szechuan peppered tuna with Japanese radish and cucumber sorbet. The flavours were a magical dance in my mouth. This dish was definitely a top favourit. The sweetness and the pepperiness was such a wonderful combination, with the cooling subtle cucumber sorbet.

For mains I had a hard time decided exactly what I wanted. So many lovely choices, however, the duck jumped out at me. I had Duck Roulade wrapped in swiss chard with creamed mielies, white mushrooms & duck jus. The meal was very interesting, i have to admit I personally didn’t like the plating, but the flavours made up for it. The duck was wonderful, cooked to perfection with a play of allspice which just brought so many different aspects to the palate, you kind of all over the place, yet your flavour focus comes together in the end.

Dessert, I decided on a rooibos crème brulee, which I have to say was wonderful as well. The hard crack of sugar you break through was perfect, nothing more beautiful than that crack of sugar. Thats when I know I am in crème brulee heaven. The best part is the dessert was not overpoweringly sweet, all the flavours were subtle and worked wonderfully together.

So again, a big thank you to the wonderful ladies, it was exactly what I needed!

Today, I finally got to the Department of Home Affairs and have now officially changed my last name and applied for my new ID book. I have to compliment the DOHA in Humansdorp, what wonderful friendly service which I have never received from any officially government department. I walked in and 20 minutes later, with lots of smiles and laughs, I had dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s and I am now officially going by my married name, which I love!

And of course, with this, I give you one more Smoothie. I am so excited about the new challenge from Tandy over at Lavender & Lime. I am working on a great rawliciouse ideas!

Mixed Berries & Granola Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1 tbsp honey
1 apple roughly chopped
½ cup your favourit granola
1 tbsp chia seeds

Add all into a blender, the berries give a nice tang, just add a little more honey if you want to sweeten it up.

Sunday Afternoon Poitjiekos and Cannellini Bean & Beetroot Salad

Poitjie is such a South Africa tradition, and personally one of my favourit meals to prepare. I love doing a great poitjie, and have been lacking in doing so since we moved into the flat.

A little history on the poitjie…The round potbellied cast iron pot was the perfect cooking utensil to suit the nomadic lifestyle of the black tribes and the Voortrekkers during the 17th and 18th centuries. Potjiekos evolved as a stew, made of venison and vegetables (if the latter were available). The pot with its contents protected by a layer of fat was hooked under the wagon by the Voortrekkers while travelling and unhooked at the next stop to be put on the fire again.

When the wagons stopped at the end of the day and camp was made, game was stewed and sometimes mutton, goat or old oxen when available. As each new animal was shot, it was slaughtered and the meat added to the pot, together with whatever vegetables that could be found. The large bones were added replacing the old ones, to thicken the stew. Surplus meat was preserved by seasoning and drying.

So on my day off, I thought I would do a little poitjie. The first step to a good poitjie is to burn the pot. Wash it thoroughly, then place it back on the fire to get it really hot before cooking again.

The best part about a poitjie is that you can add whatever meat and vegetables you wish to add, and your cooking liquid is all up to you. I used beef with red wine. Another great combo I love is chicken and beer poitjie.

Now what does one serve with a poitjie? Well, traditionally it would be “pap” or dumplings and in many homes it is rice. I also served one of my cannellini bean salads, which was actually very nice. The cannellini bean’s meatiness worked really well with the poitjie, and you could even add it directly to the poitjie, however, I rather did a salad.

Cannellini & Beetroot salad

2 cups cannellini beans, leftover night to soak, and boiled until soft
fresh beetroot, boiled until soft
Danish feta
fresh rosemary
balsamic reduction

Add all together, ensure your beetroot is cooled properly before you add to the salad.