Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad

With the cooler weather settling in we are all heading towards comfort food…I can hear you say “but salad is not comfort food???” Well, this one is filled with comfort goodies, and perfect as a side for a cool evening braai. This is also a great vegetarian meal with substance.

This is very versatile, you can add or take out flavours you do not like, just remember to balance the flavours.  I used my Froggit salad dressing, but you could use any light dressing. Or make your own, I would love to know what works for you!

Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad
served 15 – 20

2kg cubed butternut
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
honey
seasoning
olive oil
1 tbsp garlic butter
250g sliced white mushrooms
Seeds from 2 pomegranates
100g crumbed feta
200g baby spinach
1 packet rocket & watercress salad mix (from Woolworths)
100g cherry tomatoes
100g sugar snap peas
3 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds
Froggit Pomegranate dressing

Pomegranate Dressing

Preheat the oven to 200°C

In a large roasting pan, place the butternut, garlic, olive oil, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, seasoning and honey.  Mix until the butternut is well coated and roast for 45 minutes.
Remove and set aside to cool down completely.
Fry the sliced mushrooms in garlic butter, season and set aside to cool

Once the butternut & mushrooms are cooled down completely, mix together, you can now build the salad.

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and mix with the butternut & mushrooms.
Layer the salad now, at the bottom of the bowl put some baby spinach, rocket & watercress, a few pomegranate seeds a few sugar snap peas, the feta, pumpkin seeds, repeat layering.

Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad

 

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!

Lavender Infused Honey and wonderful friends

I am very blessed to have some wonderful friends, people who have been a part of my life, whether for a short period of time or for lengthy periods, some I speak to daily, others I speak to once a week, some, only once every month or two, but the best part about these people are the fact that even though we are so far apart, when we do communicate, it is as if there was never a gab in time.

Four of these people played a large part in the wedding, and both myself and Justin are so grateful to have such wonderful people in our lives. Our bridesmaids and groomsman. Justin had met my bridesmaids before, but it was a first time I met him groomsman, and most of his friends from Pietermaritzburg. But immediately they felt like family, like people I know will be a part of our lives forever.

For the wedding, as gift favours, I did lavender infused honey, and let me tell you, what a mission. Firstly, to obtain 8kgs of honey is a rather pricy affair, as well as logistically a mission. There is a local place here in SFB which sells honey, however, often they do not have stock, or only a certain amount, finally we got out 8kgs, of honey, a citrus flavoured honey which was delicious on its own. I however wanted to infused the lavender with it, to tie up the theme of the wedding.

I took about 2 handfuls of lavender, which I got from my lovely friend Shelley’s garden, and dried it out a little in the oven, I then let it cool and just gently crushed it between my fingers, just to release some of the oils.

I took my 8kgs of honey, and brought it up to a simmer (at this point I was on the phone with my mom and didn’t control the heat properly so I have a good lot of honey all over my kitchen floor and all over my kitchen counters) make sure you control your heat properly.

Added my dried lavender to the honey, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, turned off the heat and left it over night to cool completely. Then proceeded to put the honey through a sieve to strain out all the lavender, and pour into the bottles. My wonderful MIL did this for me as I was running out of time!

I still have some left, and use it over my muesli in the morning, or in my rooibos tea, I love it. The beautiful scent of lavender flows through your sense every time you open the little jar, it is just absolutely wonderful!


Cannellini Bean Salad

I have been craving spicy and vegetarian lately, so this was very satisfying! As much as I love meat, sometimes I just like to skip it and enjoy something meatless. I bought these dried cannellini beans in my quest to explore more healthy, organic and natural side of cooking.

Cannellini beans are low-fat, high in fiber and provide a high quality of magnesium, fiber, iron and folate. They have twice as much iron as beef. Maintaining iron stores high ensures a stable supply of hemoglobin. This carries energizing oxygen to every cell in the body. This gives you energy to spare!
They are a fine source of molybdenum. This is a trace mineral that helps the body produce detoxifying enzymes. This prevents headaches that are caused by sulfites, a compound used to preserve baked goods, wine and various things. They are also loaded with thiamine which is essential for high mental performance. Thiamine is required for a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which improves reaction time.
They are high in fiber help cut cholesterol. The beans fiber binds to fat to help flush it from the body. It’s also loaded with folate which helps lower levels of homocysteine, which clogs arteries.

Cannellini Bean Salad

2 cups dried cannellini beans
1 punnet white mushrooms
1 peach, diced
2 onions, roughly diced
feta
½ tsp garlic
½ tsp red chilli, diced
handful of fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the bean wit water and soak over night or a minimum of 5 hours.
Place beans and water in pot, and simmer over a medium heat for about 1 ½ hours, watch carefully as the water level will drop, make just the beans are always covered
Remove from heat and drain, set aside to cool.
Put a little olive oil in some kitchen papper, and rub over the base of your pan. Fry off onions with the garlic & chilli, add mushrooms. I don’t like my mushrooms overcooked, I still like the mouth feels of them slightly raw.
If you do not like a bite, you can omit the chilli.
Remove from pan, and set aside to cool.

Toss peaches, feta, oregano and fried mushrooms and onions to the cannellini beans, mix together, season and dress with your favourite dressing, I used Verlague Chili & Mango reduction.
Serve with toasted ciabatta. A great healthy easy vegetarian lunch, add some diced bacon or parma ham to make it more meaty.

Apple & Fresh Coriander Pesto – Filippo Berio Pesto Competition

Apple and Fresh Coriander Pesto
(makes +- 200ml)

¼ cup Filippo Berio Olive Oil
Generous handful of fresh Coriander
1 ½ tsp fresh garlic
1 tsp honey
1 tsp balsamic reduction
20 toasted almonds
1 golden delish apple
Salt & Pepper to taste
Using a handheld blender, puree all the ingredients together until creamy.

I love this because of the subtle taste, you can use it as a topping for canapés, salad dressing, a refreshing dip for fresh vegetable, or sauce for a great grilled chicken wrap.