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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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.

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.

 

Bad Hair Month, and other adventures

It’s been a few days, my cherubs, because I have been poorly. A nasty bout of the flu had its way with me, along with a funky stomach virus that made me walk like a hunchback for 3 days.

Being sick is pretty shit when you’re travelling. You don´t have mummy to bring you marmite on toast. It´s especially bad if you’re in a hostel. I’m lucky, because I am in a delightful chunk of paradise in the middle of France, with my own little cabin to fester in until the germs retreat. But it is hard, because as a HelpXer, I always feel like I need to be contributing more, rather than just moping around feeling sorry for myself and sleeping 18 out of 24 hours a day. Luckily my lovely hosts have been very understanding, and even gave me essential oils and a nightcap of thyme infused alcohol to send me into a deep slumber. And it doesn’t take long to get better in such a healthy environment, with lots of greens and goodness.

My nose is rather red and sore, much like Rudolph, from blowing it a few too many times on the toilet roll. So I have taken to using my magical homemade coconut lip balm as a nose balm… It works very well, in case you were wondering.

After missing two days of yoga, I rolled out of bed and onto my yoga mat this morning. It isn’t too hard when it looks like this outside….

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Mariken also taught her yoga class this morning. We did it outside in part of the campsite, and I taught my style of sun salutation to the lovely little French ladies. I´m sure they didnt understand what I was saying, because I have a weird accent, but they seemed to enjoy it.

I could not do my 108 breath meditation this morning, because it involves Breath of Fire, which is alot of firing air out of one´s nose, and I was fearful of firing something other than air out due to congestion. So I didn´t do that..

As for the old ´washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar´…. It works quite well, but my hair is quite absurd. I look like I have escaped from somewhere. Through an electric fence, probably.

 

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Wow! Impressive isn´t it. I would say the above is one of my two good hair days that have been predicted for the next six weeks on this regime…

At least I got volume.

So basically these days I look like a sixties hipster, wearing ´mom jeans´ that I found in the ´Helpers Box of Clothing´ and repping a fro.

On a more tasteful note, we made delightful bounty bars the other day! Would you like the recipe? They are relatively healthful, of course. Quite coconutty.

Bountiful Bars!

Chocolate Coating

3/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup cocoa powder (the good stuff)

1/2 cup maple syrup/ agave syrup

pinch salt

Filling

150g dates (or use a date paste)

150g desiccated coconut

1/4 cup coconut oil

3 tbsp cashew nuts

2 tbsp hemp seeds (or more nuts, if you aren´t that fancy)

vanilla

pinch of salt

Instructions

Filling: Melt coconut oil. Mix dates and water in food processor. Mix in the other filling ingredients. Refrigerate for 5 minutes to solidify a little bit. Make into small, stumpy finger bars. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Coating: Melt coconut oil. Mix in cocoa powder,salt and chosen sweetener. Let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken – add more cocoa powder if need be.

Roll the stumpy coconut bars around in their sea of chocolate, until entirely coated. Pop them in the fridge to set. Then you eats it ja!

And if you´re anything like me in the kitchen, they will end up looking a little like this: Tiny, stumpy fingers.

 

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I only have three more days at Brenazet, then I head back to the UK for a week or so, to celebrate my birthday and see my dear family. Then I am off to Ireland for a couple of months.

I´m sure looking forward to a summer of mighty craic!

Best. Day. Ever.

Wednesday was an action packed day. These Dutch people, they don’t mess around, they get things done. It’s invigorating and inspiring, and you are so ready for bed when the time comes.

The day began with some yoga and a meditation with Izzy outside our little chalet, which we have been doing every day. They say it takes 30 days to develop a habit, and I think I just hit that. Right now I’m loving the Sivananda sun salutations, probably because that was the style we were doing in Spain every morning. The meditation is the 108 breath meditation, which involves alot of heavy breathing which is kind of awkward…. But it sets you up for a very peaceful morning meditation.

 

Bums
Bums
Saluting the Sun
Saluting the Sun

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After that, we had our green smoothies and did some weeding and gardening. I am learning all about which ones are weeds and which ones are plants, which is quite useful to know. I needed to be taught, otherwise I would just go around pulling everything out because it “‘looks messy”… We went foraging for greens to have in our lunchtime salad, now I know that things growing all around our feet are totally edible and actually taste kind of good. Apart from some things which will make you ill, don’t eat those ones…

Then we ate lunch, then we made a raw apple pie for our dinner party that evening! Oh boy, it was good. Its free of.. gluten, dairy, processed sugar, and… meat. You would hope so.

Here’s the recipe, if you’re into that kind of thing. Or maybe you do not know how to work the oven, in which case this is perfect for you.
Raw Apple Pie
Base
200g ground almonds
150g dates, soaked, or a date paste
pinch salt
Filling
3 apples
1 cup dates, soaked
raisins
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
half a tsp ginger
pinch nutmeg

Blend together the base mixture in a food processor, press into the bottom of a shallow dish lined with baking paper. The mixture doesnt need to be around the sides. Blend the filling ingredients, press on top of the crust and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Put it in your mouth.

 

Cat and Pie
Cat and Pie

After making our pie, Mariken took Izzy and I on a trip to a nearby town called Chantelle, where there is a monastery with REAL NUNS, a forest and a river. Dreamy. We had a look in the nun shop where they sell all their homemade goodies, then hiked into the forest to forage some wild garlic for our pesto. I was expecting bulbs of garlic to be popping out of the hillside, but no, they are leaves that taste like garlic! Magnificient leaves! And pretty flowers that you can also eat. Oh nature, you never fail to amaze.

Then we found a swimming hole and decided to go swimming. Naked. Because there was no one around, and because we could. Initially I was like oh my word, I barely know these people! I cannot bare my flesh to them! Then I thought, meh. They can just deal with my awkward tan lines.

It was the shortest swim of my life because it was so GOSH DARN FREEZING. It literally took my breath away.

We drove home singing along to Bob Marley. Bobby never fails to capture the mood.

Mariken showed me how she works with her ponies without using a halter. They have seven ponies, all of them a little bit mischievious. They try to eat my gumboot on regular occasions.

Ponies
Ponies

That night we had a 3 course raw vegan meal with some of the guests – Auke, Saskia and their wee tot Shuart. I have no idea how to spell his name, but its pronounced as a combination of Stuart and Short. We had wild garlic pesto, raw lasagne and, of course, our apple pie. And wine, because whats a dinner party without wine? Then we had a soul shakedown party, which is essentially all of us dancing around and Auke the giant swinging around the pole in the middle of the room like a giant pole dancer. He is genuinely the tallest person I ever met. He has to duck to get in everywhere.

Shuart on his machine
Shuart on his machine
The Brenazet Family
The Brenazet Family

We made a bonfire outside and sat around making up stories. A pretty awesome day. Izzy and I are looking after the farm for the next 3 days while Mariken, Ron, Igor and Nikola go back to Holland for Opa’s birthday party. We are excited to have some quality farm time, make some exciting meals and walk Elsa the dog. This place is beautiful! Who knows why some of the photos are black and white and some are in colour…. I am too tired to figure it out.

Ron
Ron
Little guy
Little guy

Brenazet france mei 2014 001 (219)

Brenazet france mei 2014 001 (217)

Brenazet france mei 2014 001 (221)

Brenazet

I am all settled into my home for the next 3 weeks; Brenazet, a camping and gités site run by a delightful, energetic Dutch family. It always takes me a few days to adjust into anywhere- figuring out what goes where, who does what, what is expected of you and how to make the horses go into their stables at night…. But I think I’m going to fit in just fine here.

I am sleeping in a little wooden cabin with another helper, Izzy, who has been here before and returned for a little while after a slightly disastrous helpx in the south of Spain. She calls this her home away from home, and i can see what she means, it’s so cosy and homey! Ron, Mariken, and their two sons Igor and Nikola have brought a touch of Dutch into the French countryside.

Our cabin has a log fire, a terrace with little chairs to sit in and read our books, comfy wooden bunk bed type sleeping quarters and a little kitchen to make tea and things….

It is a lot colder here than it was in Spain, I had to borrow a jumper from Ron to keep me warm. My first afternoon we took a trip to La Bosse, an amazing lake somewhere near here (so disoriented, who knows) and did some al fresco yoga. The last two days have been filled with gardening, tea, amazing organic food (including chocolate avocado mousse which is so good) , cleaning the gités, walking the dog, doing yoga in a paddock amongst the bugs and the animals, and reading my book. The yoga class was taught by Mariken, all in French, but I feel like I understood most of it- I knew ‘left, right, inhale and exhale’, and that’s pretty much all you need. I did find myself bending into awkward shapes to be able to see what she was doing on occasion. But yoga is a pretty universal language, and it’s always nice to see how different people teach. Outside yoga is the best, even if we did get a bit of hay fever.

Happy to be here, grateful for the peace and quiet of farm life, it reminds me of my childhood! And I have realised my fear of chickens pecking me to death has not lessened…..Mariken is the best cook, everything is so healthy but hearty and satisfying! Today for lunch we had vegetarian burgers, fennel salad, greens and herbs from the garden, and a curried cauliflower dish. We just had supper and she made a sugar free almond and rhubarb cake, so good!

Today we went foraging for flowers and for the lunchtime salad, I learnt all about the edible plants and flowers that grow amongst the grass. So if i am ever lost, I know I can just pick some plantain and I won’t go hungry! My mum would be so proud – yesterday I weeded a flower bed and a vegetable garden, wore gardening gloves, got stung by nettles, ate nettle soup, wore her giant purple jumper and then picked some mint from the garden to make tea. Mother, I am becoming you!

In the morning I’m doing my own yoga on our terrace, with Izzy for company. I missed it for a day and I could feel it in my bones!

Anyway, it’s probably about time I showered.

,

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Gités
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The stables
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Yoga with child
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Vege Garden
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My cabin
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Cosy (Hyggelig?)
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Bunk beds!