The mornings are getting lighter, the sun’s starting to shine, and there are signs of new life in the garden.
Spring is definitely in the air and how glorious it feels
Now it’s lighter in the mornings, I’m finding it much easier to get out of bed. No need for the alarm clock anymore, I’m naturally waking up at 7am. It feels so good to be waking up in daylight rather than the pitch black.
The river and tow path are finally starting to dry out, which means I finally can stop wading through mud on my morning runs
All around there are signs of new life and the birds are busy building nests.
Spring is a glorious time of year isn’t it?
The theme of this month’s WIAW parties, hosted by the lovely Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, is ‘Love Your Veggies’. As you can probably tell from my blog posts, I have a huge love of veggies. I love eating them, and I would LOVE to grow my own. The trouble is, everything I attempt to grow gets eaten by a plethora of creatures. I wouldn’t mind sharing the produce with them, but they leave me with nothing! The question is, do I attempt to grow veggies again this year? If I do, I definitely need to find something that’s slug and snail proof. Any ideas?
Anyway, for this Wednesday’s WIAW party, I’d like to share my eats from yesterday. All produce shop-bought but organic and, where possible, locally grown (just not in my back yard 😉 )
– Warm water & lemon
– Bowl of chocolate porridge, made with quick oats, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, Alpro soya milk, and a sprinkling of walnuts, almonds, ground flaxseed, hemp seed, and gojis on top (Lil’ L had the same!*)
– 1 black coffee
* Lil’ L came home from his last school cookery class declaring that he now loves goji berries (big thank you to his wonderful cookery teachers! 😀 ) I’ve tried for years to encourage him to eat dried fruits but, up until now, he’s disliked all of them. It’s funny how extreme kids can be with their foods…. going from despising them one minute to loving them the next. Anyway, I’m just really happy that he’s now eating this amazing little nutrient-packed berry
For lunch, I had a big bowl of Pomegranate, Beet Root, Orange and Walnut Salad, which also included rocket, mixed salad leaves, hemp seed and a sweet mustard dressing. This salad is packed with so many lush flavours, textures and nutrients and it includes two of my current food obsessions… pomegranate and beet root. I just can’t get enough of them at the moment!
– Lil’ L and M both took leftover roasted vegetable pasta in their lunchboxes (M’s pasta was mixed with Sacla Char-Grilled Aubergine Pesto; Lil’ L’s with Sacla Sun-Dried Tomato Paste as the school has a nut ban). Mixed in with the wholegrain pasta was roasted broccoli, carrot, red onion, chestnut mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. When it had cooled down, we sprinkled on hemp seeds (for omega 3) and nutritional yeast (for a B12 boost). I hadn’t made this dish in a long while and I’d forgotten how good a simple meal like this tastes!
Drinks & Snacks
– Nettle tea, peppermint tea, Innocent tropical juice, water
– 2 Kallo Balsamic Vinegar and Sea Salt Rice Cakes (Lil’ L and I are loving these at the moment!)
– Lil’ L and I shared some pistachios after school
For our main meal, we had a Moroccan-inspired Butternut Squash and Apricot Tagine. This is one of Lil L’s current favourite dinners and he always asks for seconds!
I make the tagine mild, so that it’s suitable for children, but once I’ve removed the kiddie portions, I add some harissa paste, North African spices or cayenne pepper to spice it up for the adults.
Butternut Squash and Apricot Tagine
Hands on time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 70 minutes Ready in: 1 hr 20 minutes
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
310g / 11 oz / 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite size pieces
400g / 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
pinch of saffron, steeped in hot water (optional, but highly recommended)
125 ml / 4 fl oz / ½ cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g / 14 oz can chick peas, drained
100g / 3½ oz / 1½ packed cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped (or use two small blocks of frozen spinach)
16 ready-to-eat dried apricots (sulphur free), quartered
1½ TBSP sweetener of choice (I use agave syrup or Sweet Freedom Fruit Sweetener)
Harissa paste, North African dried spices or cayenne pepper (for a spicy kick)
2 TBSP sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Handful flaked almonds, lightly toasted
Sprinkling of shelled hempseed (optional, for an omega-3 boost)
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
Get prepared: chop the veggies.
Ready, set, go!
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan or casserole and sauté the onion, celery and pepper until it starts to soften. Stir in the garlic, spices and squash. Reduce to a low heat, cover with a lid and sweat for 5 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and gently simmer for around an hour, until the squash has a soft ‘melt in your mouth’ texture. Season with salt, to taste. If you wish to add a spicy kick to the dish, remove any children’s portions first, then stir in some harissa paste, North African dried spices or cayenne pepper.
While the tagine is cooking, prepare the couscous (see below) or grain of choice.
Prepare the garnish: Lightly toast some flaked almonds and sesame seeds in a dry frying pan (skillet) on a medium heat, stirring continuously until lightly browned. Chop some fresh coriander.
When the tagine is ready, serve in warm bowls on a bed of couscous (or gluten-free grain such as brown rice, quinoa or millet). Sprinkle with the garnish, and serve.
This tagine can easily be prepared in advance. Simply heat through before serving. It will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator, and weeks in the freezer.
Here’s how I prepare couscous:
240g / 8½ oz / 1 1/3 cups wholegrain couscous
400ml / 14 fl oz / 1¾ cups vegetable stock
½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil or non dairy margarine (e.g. Pure)
Place the couscous in a heat-proof dish. Pour the stock on top and cover with a lid or plate for about 5-7 minutes. Drizzle in a little olive oil or add a knob of margarine and fluff up the grains with a fork.
[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki’s #Wellness Weekend]
– I made a batch of Raisin and Oatmeal Cookies for my Tuesday night study class and enjoyed one with a cup of peppermint & green tea during our class break.
– Lil’ L and M had a cookie and some Alpro yoghurt drizzled with Clarks Original Maple Syrup (I love this stuff and bought 6 bottles from Tesco this week as it’s currently on offer 😉 )
Enjoy the rest of your week everyone xx
– What’s the weather like where you are? Any signs of Spring yet?
– Are you planning to grow your own veggies this year? If so, do you know of any veggies that are slug and snail proof? All suggestions will be greatly appreciated