A controversial hummus of the zucchini variety.

I know. I’m sorry. Perhaps you think I have lost the plot with this one…

It IS hummus, but instead of using chickpeas, I wanted to find something a wee bit lighter. We currently have zucchini coming out of our eyeholes, so I thought why not use this gigantic phallic vegetable for a new and exciting hummus-y paste?

I’m sure you can probably think of a few reasons why not…. But give it a go.

Its a bit runnier than your average hummus, due to the moisture content of the zucchini. I found that letting it sit overnight in the fridge thickened it up a bit, but if you want it less runny, try grating the zucchini first and squeezing the moisture out of it before blending with the other ingredients. You could also add a handful of nuts or seeds (cashew is always a goodie) to give it a bit more texture.

If you can’t tolerate or avoiding legumes, its a good option. Hummus purists may weep a tear or two, but I think its a tasty alternative.

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini (or just one big daddy), peeled and chopped, excess moisture squeezed out

1/2 cup tahini

3 garlic cloves (to keep the boys and girls away)

1-2 tbsp olive oil

juice of one lemon

1-2 tsp cumin (or other herbs and spices you like)

sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Method

Pop it all in your food processor and whiz away until it resembles hummus. Sprinkle some toasted seeds on top and serve with chopped veggies, or maybe a large hunk of steak, if that tickles your fancy.

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Balls.

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An enticing title, agreed? I shall try not to disappoint.

I made these balls on a lazy Sunday, when I felt like being a good wifey and making wholesome treats from scratch.

There are plenty of recipes for this kind of thing on the inter web, this is my take on them. If you can’t find/ can’t afford fresh medjool dates, just get the ordinary kind and soak them for a few hours to make them all nice and moist… Also, if you want to use different nuts, give it a go and find a combo that works for you 🙂

Balls Of Fun

Ingredients

2 cups walnuts (whole or pieces)

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup shredded/desiccated coconut

2/3 cup cacao powder (or just plain old cocoa powder will work too)

8 fresh dates, pitted and chopped up (or dried, just soak for a few hours first)

1/4 cup of water

pinch of sea salt

Method

  • Combine walnuts, sunflower seeds, dates and coconut in food processor. Pulse until combined.
  • Add cacao powder, salt, and water and process until mixture forms a dough.
  • Make the dough into wee balls by rolling between your palms. Or big balls. Whatever you’re into.
  • Pop them on a tray or container and chill to let them get hard.
  • Eat dem.

You likey?

Sexual Bread

Bread and Sexual. Two words that maybe don’t go super well together? You’ll see.

This recipe has been doing the rounds on the blogosphere, originally from a blog called My New Roots. Some might call it a viral bread, but that doesn’t sound too tasty so I’ll call it sexual. I am shamelessly taking it and sharing with my followers because I think you all deserve to know that bread can be healthful and also delicious (and pretty easy, which is kind of my priority when it comes to baking.)

Its vegan, gluten free, dairy free, flour free,preservative free, free free etc etc. Its very good for digestion, and the thing I like about is that most of the ingredients you can mix and match depending on what you have in your cupboard or what you do and don’t like.

Psyllium husks are the magical ingredient, binding everything together, and they have an amazing effect on the old digestion, by binding everything in your digestive tract together and sweeping it on out your bum hole, like an internal caretaker! Its good for eliminating toxins and if you’re backed up, it gets things moving.

The best thing is that its really cheap, which is pretty important, because sometimes these things can be a bit pricey. Nobody got time for that. Initially to buy all the ingredients (most of them you probably have at home) its a little investment, but you only use a handful or two of everything per loaf, so it lasts ages. I think per loaf mine costs about 4 or 5 dollars, which is no more than a loaf in the supermarket, and is way more nutrient dense and filling!

This recipe has no flour, gluten free or otherwise, which is wonderful, because most commercial flours have been over-processed and stripped of all their fibre-y goodness.

Everything in this sexual loaf is soaked for easy digestion and assimilation, so your wee bod doesn’t have to work too hard. It already does enough, amiright?

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Ingredients:
1 cup / 135g sunflower seeds
½ cup / 90g flax seeds (linseeds)
½ cup / 65g hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats (use gluten free if thats better for you)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
1 ½ cups / 350ml water

Directions:
1. In a flexible, silicon loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it it.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).
4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

When I make mine, I use honey rather than maple syrup, and sometimes I use quinoa flakes, which absorb a bit more water, so make sure you adapt the ratio as needed. Sometimes I add a little extra salt.

This is how my first loaf turned out, I felt quite pleased with myself.

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Enjoy!

Recipe: Green Fritters

Is it breakfast, lunch or dinner? I’ll let you decide.

We ate these on a particularly sweaty summers evening in the back garden, accompanied by buckwheat cabbage salad, homemade sundried tomato hummus, sweetcorn and a cheeky glass of Neudorf Pinot Noir.

I have a confession to make –  it’s definitely not my own recipe. I have nabbed it and adapted it from a book my lovely aunt in England gave me, titled “A Modern Way to Eat”, which is written by a woman living in London with excellent taste in food. Thankyou, kind lady, for this delight.

I used greens from the garden – silver beet, kale, and courgette, with a lemon from the lemon tree. I’m lucky enough to be at home in Nelson where Mother has a glorious vegetable garden. You can use whatever you have to hand – spinach, broccoli, peas, etc. The idea is that its a quick and easy recipe to throw together, using whats available. Also, cheese is important (but when is cheese not important, amiright?)

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying they never quite turn out how they look in the book… but they taste real good. That is all that matters.

Here goes:

 

Green Fritters

250g courgettes (grated or finely chopped)

2 handfuls greens, shredded (spinach, kale, silverbeet, whatever you like)

4 tbsp soft cheese (feta, goats cheese)

25 g grated parmesan or pecorino

1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

5 free range eggs

wee bit of basil/mint/dill/parsley

squeeze of a lemon

sea salt and cracked pepper

olive oil or coconut oil (for frying)

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Put all the vegetables in a big bowl, crumble in the cheeses, add the garlic, herbs and lemon with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Crack in the eggs and mix it well.

Get a large frying pan, a generous amount of oil and a medium-high heat. Spoon in the mixture, flatten to form patties, fry for 2-3 minutes then flip and fry on the other side until brown.

Serve with whatever you want to serve it with, and a hearty glass of wine/beersie/lemonade/typical summer beverage.

Bask in your culinary glory.

Girls On Tour

It’s very easy, when you know you have an entire summer in one place, to make epic plans to do things ‘this summer’, then get to your final weekend and realize you’ve done nothing but get drunk and talk shit all day.

Luckily, this past weekend I actually followed through on one of my whimsical moments, and we cycled our cycles from Jeananne’s parents house in Galway, all the way through Connemara and back to Westport.

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Four days of cycling, two very sore bums and one very heavy jar of peanut butter later, we actually made it. I think Jeananne and I both felt mildly astonished that our tiny stumpy legs took us all that way… As one elderly man in a pub remarked;

‘You’ve got good, strong, MUSCULAR legs on you, girls’. I chose to take that as a compliment, because he looked like he meant it in that way.

Friday night we began our journey on the train from Westport to Ballymacward, where Jeananne’s parents live in a very rural area. We had a delightful stopover in Athlone, where we had cups of tea and I nearly trod on a maxi sanitary pad stuck to the pavement. Not the best introduction to a town that doesn’t have a great reputation in the first place..

Saturday we were up early for what we thought would be a pretty easy cycle into Galway City, but ended up taking us almost four hours due to head wind, and Rosie toppling sideways into a ditch and bending her wheel spoke. What can I say, I’m not used to cycling with that much junk in my trunk. It threw me off. (See what I did there).

 

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Every animal that we passed made me think of Sminky Shorts, which I find deeply hilarious. Your brain drifts to strange places when you’re cycling in a repetitive motion all day. We also passed a small gypsy girl, aged approximately 4 years old, standing on the side of the road with a dog on a leash, wearing no pants and one golden hoop earring. She had a Beyonce stance and a bit of a perm, and she looked at us like ‘Yeah I ain’t wearing pants, wha chu gon do about it?’ Only in Ireland.

We had a whole day in Galway which was a food fiesta. There are so many awesome places to eat in Galway and we only had 24 hours, but I felt that we really did our best to pack it all in.

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Happy Flat White
Happy Flat White

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Burrito Bowl at Boojum
Burrito Bowl at Boojum

Galway has a food and crafts market every weekend, so we nabbed a sushi roll and sprawled in the Church garden, feeling dazed and amazed at all the people around us. That night we went to Boojum which does probably the best burrito bowls ever. Or maybe we were just so hungry that socks would have tasted good. Actually, everything tastes SO AMAZING when you’re outside cycling all day. Like, my gluten free bread turned to crumbs in my basket one day and so I just ate crumbs and bits of peanut butter and a very smushy banana and I was the happiest wee girl.

We crawled around some pubs Friday night (kind of literally, because our legs were floppy) then went to some kind of heaven in the form of a late night French restaurant that served buckwheat crepes. One goats cheese, honey and walnut crepe later and I was basically asleep on the couch in the restaurant. Happy days.

The next morning we went to Pura Vida for a fresh juice, then to the Jungle Café off Eyre Square which reminded me a lot of home – perhaps because of their serious attitude to coffee, their flat white on the menu, and the Fat Freddies playing on the sound system. It felt just like a Sunday brunch in Wellington. Aww.

Gluten Free Beer... I've come a long way since Oktoberfest
Gluten Free Beer… I’ve come a long way since Oktoberfest

We didn’t leave Galway until about 2.30 that afternoon after some last minute shopping. We again underestimated the strength of the coastal wind and it took us many hours to go 30km to the small town of Carraroe. We stopped a lot, including in a little seaside town called Spiddle. We met a French couple who were doing the same thing as us, and it was reassuring when they told us they had left two hours earlier than us and only got there two minutes before us. So we weren’t the slowest cyclists on the road. But almost..

Carraroe was a tiny town down on the South Coast of county Galway, where everyone speaks Irish, even the young people. It’s a little unnerving walking into a pub and not understanding your fellow youth.We walked into one of two pubs in the village and asked if anyone could recommend a camping spot – we immediately got offered a “cosy, warm double bed with an ensuite” in a local man’s house. He was actually a very nice boy and had we been later in our trip, we might have said yes, but we were so determined to use all of the tent and equipment we had carried, so we stubbornly erected our tent behind the school. We apparently missed the part where we were advised to camp in the opposite corner to the priest’s house, and instead set up camp right next to his backyard, so that he had a nice view into our sleeping quarters. He also, coincidentally, had a nice view onto the children’s playing field. So many jokes.

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At one point I was wandering around camp with no pants on (as you do), and Mr Priest came out of his back door talking on the phone.

“Oh… here comes the priest… Oh.. I’m not wearing any pants.”

Not a sentence you say every day.

We were so excited to utilise our tiny gas stove, but after much fumbling, realised we had probably purchased the wrong sized gas canister and that actually we couldn’t cook our brown rice. Desperate times. Lucky we are so good at foraging in the wild…We found a chip shop.

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The next day we used the bathroom in the “Bia Blasta” (Tasty Food) café far too much, drank two pots of tea then packed up our thangs and got on the road again for a rather long days cycling. We had to make up for the puney mileage the previous day, but first we had to shake the priest’s pet puppy who had attached himself to our sides and insisted on stealing all of our socks. He followed us one kilometer down the road then found another dog to play with, thank the lord (or the priest…)

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That day we cycled about 8 hours, with regular stops for bum relief and refueling. We stopped in Maam Cross and Recess, then took the N59 up to Leenane. Our course plan changed several times over the course of the day, because we are so fun and spontaneous and also because we were tired. I think our favourite stop was in Recess, where we ate icecream and slices of cheese and basked in the sunshine. Only an Irish person would be capable of getting sunburnt in that measly sunlight, but Jeananne certainly managed a good lycra tan line.

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The next part was a long, wet, blustery cycle along Lough Inagh and the Twelve Bens, which loomed over us from the right side of the road and reminded us how very small we were. It was a hard road and I personally could have smashed a flask of hot tea, but our 2 euro plastic flask failed to keep liquid hot. And to think I carried that thing all that way between my thighs! I felt deeply disappointed in the euro store, which I am sure many people have in their lifetimes.

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Church in the middle of nowhere, orders us to stop and pray (for no more hills)

That night, after cycling for about 8 hours (with snack stops), we camped at a hostel in Killary Harbour, with the most spectacular view, a downhill driveway and a shitload of midges. As we weren’t really planning to stay there initially, all we had left in our food bag was some brown rice, some corn, and a few slices of cheese. It was a little dry, to say the least, but a girls gotta eat. At least they had free tea at the hostel, which we made the absolute most of. It was very tempting to sleep on the couch inside, but again our pride got the better of us and we had to use our tent which we lugged all that way.

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Our final day of cycling was to be a shorter one, so we took our time in the morning, cycled to the village of Leenane 5k down the road, and indulged ourselves in seafood chowder and a seaweed bath.

You basically take a steam room to open your pores, then go to your private room and lie in a bath of slimy seaweed for one hour. It sounds absolutely revolting and yeah… It kind of was. But also very good for you and your tired muscles.

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I kept expecting little fish to stick their heads out of the seaweed and nibble me. I had a great time, draping pieces of seaweed over my bosom and imagining that I was the mermaid queen. Jeananne overheated and had to get out of her bath and lie naked on the tiles for ten minutes.

After all that, it was pretty hard to get back on the bikes for 3 hours, but we knew that red wine, pasta and Netflix awaited us in Westport, and it was actually a relatively easy cycle, with lots of downhill and only one downpour.

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Healthy snacks..

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My shower that night was heavenly, and I found small pieces of seaweed in all my nooks and crannies. Such fun. 

No injuries, no flat tires and no thunderstorms..

All in all, I’d say it was a success! 

 

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Vegetarians Gone Wild

I’m writing this post from Lyon airport, having said goodbye to my lovely Brenazet family earlier today. They were so fun, loving life on their idyllic farm, eating amazing meals together every day and constantly learning and trying new things. It’s inspiring to find people who genuinely love their lives and don’t even feel like they need to holiday, because home is so lovely!

After a hearty breakfast of green smoothie and some buckwheat hazelnut porridge (awesome stuff), Mariken sent me on my way with a little snack pack and instructions to let her know when I arrive safely in London. Elza the dog jumped up and gave me a smooch too, which was cute.

I spent the majority of yesterday helping them set up a Mail Chimp newsletter campaign and linking it to all of their social media, which is the sort of thing that comes easily to me (it’s my generation) but can be a real chore for people. Always nice to know you’re really helping the people you stay with, because sometimes it feels like you are getting an amazing experience for nothing. Days filled with yoga, meditation, cooking, gardening, cleaning, and amazing food are the best working days EVER.

My last few days involved a lot of cooking, yoga, a trip to Mariken’s local ‘Old Lady Yoga’ (which I secretly loved, even if it was all in French and included lots of pelvic tilting), crazy thunderstorms, dreamy sunsets and much laughter.

Basically I’m just going to post a bunch of photos of food, because I cannot describe in detail all the things we made. Mariken has a spectacular kitchen and array of recipes, during summer she cooks for the guests every day so she’s a bit of a pro at making healthy food for many mouths.

Get ready to drool….

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Raw vege pasta, quinoa, garden salad
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Buckwheat and oat flour pastry, filled with silver beet and soft tofu
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Beetroot and Walnut Dip
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Bean Salad
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Plate of Goodness
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Red Quinoa- Stuffed Tomatoes
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Avocado & Almond Butter Chocolate Mousse
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Raw carrot cupcakes with cashew coconut icing, Apple cake.
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Smoothie greens! Yes, that is nettle.

 

Needless to say I’m going to miss having the means to make all that. But I have a bounty of recipes now. I sort of made up the chocolate mousse, so I shall share it with you. Mariken declared it the ‘best chocolate mousse she has ever tasted’, which is high praise.

Marvellous Mousse

To feed 2-3 people:

1 large ripe banana

1 ripe avocado

2 large tbsp almond butter

2-3 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp maple syrup/agave/honey or whatever your preferred sweetener is.

1 tbsp chia seeds

anything else you think would be tasty….

 

whizz it it all up in your blender, adjust the amounts to suit yourself, serve in little pots with a sexy adornment (I used cacao nibs). If you can wait, put them in the fridge for an hour and let the chia seeds do their thing.

You don’t need much because it is very filling, what with all the avocado and nuts.

Mouuuuthgasm!

 

A farewell sunset
A farewell sunset

Off back to London now, for birthday celebrations, family time and probably some MEAT. Funnily enough, today as I was leaving Mariken was cooking up one of their chickens. Usually they are vegetarian, but yesterday they discovered that one of their chickens was eating the eggs.

So they chopped it’s head off and made coq au vin. Waste not, want not.

Au revoir France! I still only understand a pathetic amount of your language (“inhale, exhale, left foot, right foot, relaaaax”), but I think that’s okay.

 

Bean there…

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Lunch by the casita

I may be becoming a chickpea…

For lunches here we tend to forage in the garden, raid the retreat shop or scavenge from food that has been left by other guests. It’s delightful, but ingredients are limited so we’ve been eating a lot of beans. Lentils, chickpeas, broad beans, you name it. It gets a little repetitive.

So we’ve been getting a bit creative with our resources, and today for lunch we made chickpea burgers with salad from the garden. They were astoundingly scrumptious and healthy so I’m going to share…

2 garlic cloves
1 red onion (we used white onion because we are scavengers)
1 jar chickpeas, drained
1 handful parsley
Juice of one lemon
Handful of spinach
1 egg
1/2 cup rolled oats
Pinch of salt

Chop all of the vegetables up finely, add in the oats, chickpeas and egg, squeeze in the lemon and add the salt. You can either pulse it a few times In a food processor or just mash it aggressively with a fork, like we did. Make into four balls and fry in a pan of olive oil (we used the olive oil made at the retreat). Serve with pita breads or by themselves with some hummus and salad.

You like?

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Chickpea burgers!

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Zoe and Megan
Zoe and Megan

Last night we made daisy chains and drank some local red wine by the pool. Wine here is so cheap yet so good, it would be rude not to!

Megan gave me a poor travellers haircut of a remarkably high standard, we were both quite pleased. Just don’t look too closely…

In other news, in the last two days I have seen two snakes, and I genuinely had nightmares about snakes last night. They were everywhere I walked. Today I came across one basking in the sun in the courtyard, then it slithered into some bushes. It has made me think twice about weeding… Yesterday we went hiking and saw one on the road, I squealed loudly and probably interrupted it’s nap. I’ve never seen a snake in the wild before, it was alarming, and now we make sure to keep our tent firmly zipped…..