Tag Archives: foraging

Nettle Soup with Ginger and Miso

Well, I haven’t had any success growing vegetables in my garden yet, but I have an abundance of nettles that are happily growing there ūüėČ

Nettles

What many people don’t realise is that nettles are actually a ‘super food’, packed to the brim with nutrients.

“High in potassium, iron, sulphur, vitamin C, vitamin A and B complex vitamins nettles provide a high amount of dense nutrition with very little calories. The sulphur makes them great for the hair, skin, and nails. In addition, the tiny hairs, besides emitting histamine, also release serotonin and acetylcholine, two neurotransmitters that help to suppress appetite and also settle mood. Finally, nettles have gentle diuretic properties, which help relieve water weight gain, flush the body of toxins, and purify the blood”. [Source]¬†

 

Obviously you can’t eat nettles raw (unless you want to sting your mouth to pieces) but, by simply drenching them in boiling hot water, their sting is instantly removed and then they can be eaten just like other greens.

Nettle Leaf

One of our favourite ways to eat nettles is blended into a soup, flavoured with onion, garlic, ginger and miso.  We also like to include a large sweet potato in the soup, which adds a touch of sweetness as well as giving the soup a beautiful, silky smooth texture.

Just in case you haven’t come across miso before, it’s a Japanese soybean paste that has this wonderful, rich savory flavour that makes it perfect for soups, sauces and gravies.¬† I’m currently using the Clearspring Japanese Organic Brown Rice Miso, which is available in the UK in Waitrose and Sainsbury supermarkets, as well as in health food stores. While the jar recommends that you store it in a cool, dark place, I keep my jar in the fridge and it’s lasted months!

Clearspring Brown Rice Miso

If you’ve never picked nettles before, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you’re wearing gloves, a long sleeve top and trousers (long pants).
  • Use a pair of sharp scissors to snip off the top leaves from each stalk (about four leaves per stalk).¬† Before snipping, check the leaf to make sure there are no creatures or caterpillar eggs on it.
  • Place the leaves in a colander and thoroughly wash them under running water (remember to keep your gloves on).
  • If you’re using the nettles in a soup, there’s no need to soak them in boiling water first.¬† Simply chop them up (still wearing your gloves) and add them to the pan.

Nettle Leaves

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a patch of free nettles growing in your vicinity, you can replace them with another green, such as kale or chard.¬† It’ll taste just as nice ūüėČ

Nettle Soup with Ginger & Miso

While it’s not the prettiest soup in the world, it tastes delicious!¬† Lil’ L can vouch for this.¬† It’s his current favourite soup, and he loves taking a flask to school for his lunch once a week.¬† In fact, last week, he asked if he could have it for his lunch two days on the trot.¬† I really hope other children enjoy it as much as he does!

Here’s the recipe:

Nettle Soup with Ginger & Miso

In addition to the nettles, we’ve had great success growing dandelions this year.¬† Dandelion pesto will be on the menu next week ūüėČ

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

Are there any ‘weeds’ that you enjoy eating?¬† If you have any family recipes, please do share below ūüôā

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Filed under Lunches & Light Dinners, The Garden

Big Budget Challenge – Weeks V & VI

I’m now into my¬†sixth¬†week of the Big Budget Challenge, hosted by the lovely Laura @ KeepingHealthyGettingStylish.¬†¬†I’m¬†still¬†really enjoying this challenge, largely due to the fact that I’m finding ways to make lots of savings without feeling that I’m depriving the family¬†or compromising on the quality of the goods I’m buying.¬† That’s the way¬†to do it! ūüėČ

Here’s a¬†rundown of¬†my money saving attempts¬†over¬†the past two weeks:

1. Avoid waste.¬† Still haven’t thrown away any food!¬† In the past,¬†I would often end up throwing away half-used pots of hummus that were hiding at the back of the fridge.¬† Since taking on the B.B.C. challenge, I’ve made sure that I make regular checks of what’s in the fridge and use up everything before it starts to grow fur.¬†

Last week, I found myself with a large bag of organic carrots that would soon be past their best, so I decided to make some carrot and coriander soup.  I asked M to stop at the supermarket on the way home from work and buy some speciality bread to make the meal a touch more special.  By the time he arrived there, all the freshly made bread was being sold off at a fraction of the original price so he picked up some fantastic bargains, including some carrot and pumpkin seed bread for 50p a loaf!

The soup was¬†so delicious… really creamy, yet I didn’t put any milk or cream in it!¬† If anyone’s interested in the recipe, I can post it.

2. Shop around for the cheapest deals. I did another large online grocery shop last week and used www.mysupermarket.co.uk again.¬† So simple and quick to use (took me¬†less than 20 mins).¬† Again, the website confirmed that Tesco was the cheapest supermarket for my grocery basket (¬£127 at Tesco vs ¬£145 at Sainsbury; ¬£147 at Asda; ¬£168 at Waitrose).¬† I saved¬†¬£15.85 by multi-buying (2-4-1s, etc) and a further ¬£16.40 by using the website’s ‘Swap & Save’ function.

This week’s top bargains from Tesco:
–¬†750g Natco Cashew Nuts for ¬£5.00 (compared to ¬£1.99 for 200g in the Tesco own label range)
400g Natco Jeera Ground cumin for £1.99 (compared to 85p for 43g in the Tesco own label range).

3. Make use of home-grown foods.  Still using tons of home-grown apples, stewing them, making puddings, and puree for apple pancakes. 

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes are so delish!

¬†4. Go foraging! I didn’t go far this week… just into the garden.¬† With the crazy weather we’re currently experiencing, lots of plants that we normally see in Spring have started shooting up now… including the stinging nettles.¬† For years I’ve been saying that I’m going to try cooking the nettles and, last Tuesday, I finally got round to doing it!¬† The Nettle Bhajee (which featured in yesterday’s post) was really tasty and I’ll definitely make it again ūüôā

5. Make use of vouchers and deals. This week, I did an online shop at¬†Goodness Direct to stock up on nuts and seeds, as well as buy some delicious healthy organic treats.¬† There are a few codes available on the web that give you ¬£10 off your order with Goodness Direct, including the one on the right-hand side of Laura’s website. You also get free delivery when you spend over ¬£35.¬†

It felt like Christmas had come early when the box arrived on the door step!¬† Here’s what I got…

I¬†bulk-purchased some of the foods that we¬†consume¬†a lot, and this¬†saved me a small fortune.¬†¬†My top two bulk purchases were 3kg¬†of brown¬†linseed for ¬£5.07 (this will keep us going¬†for¬†the next year!) and 500g pitted¬†dates for ¬£1.55 (I bought 2 bags).¬† These prices are way cheaper than anything I’ve ever found in the supermarkets or local health food stores.

Another tip… if you buy broken Brazil nuts, they are much cheaper than whole Brazil nuts.¬† For ages, I’ve been buying whole Brazil nuts then spend ages chopping them up!¬† At Goodness Direct, 250g of broken Brazil nuts are ¬£1.99 compared to ¬£3.33 for the whole nuts!

So, with all these savings on¬†bulk purchases, free delivery, ¬£10 off, I felt I deserved a few delicious organic treats (even if I am in the midst of the Big Budget Challenge ūüėČ )¬† At the moment, I am absolutely loving Meridian’s organic wild blueberry and cherry & berry spreads, and their Green¬†Pesto (in the ‘Free From’ range).¬† Regardless of the fact that it’s vegan, I think this is the best¬†pesto out there!¬† Not only does it taste great, but it’s also got¬†an amazing texture (little bit crunchy, just how I¬†like it ūüôā¬†)

I’m definitely going to explore bulk purchasing more.¬† Do you bulk buy any grocery items?¬† If so, what’s your top bulk purchase items and where do you buy them?

 

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Filed under Being Frugal, Breakfast & Elevenses, Dinners, Growing Fruit & Veggies

WIAW – Guess what I ate!

Hello everybody!¬† Hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

Lil’ L was jumping up and down with excitement this morning when he realised that it was Wednesday.¬† Apparently, it’s the best school day ever! ūüôā¬† It begins with¬†a computer session¬†in the morning; followed by pizza for lunch (with some vegetables on the side, he tells me ūüėČ ), and¬†an afternoon of Wednesday Workshops.¬† This term he’s got table tennis, followed by my Buddhist meditation, story and art workshop.¬† Doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a Wednesday does it?

Wednesdays are special¬†for me too, as I get to spend the afternoon with an amazing group of children, doing something that I love doing ūüôā

For this Wednesday’s WIAW party, I thought I would share what I ate yesterday.¬† It was quite an unusual day of eats, involving¬†a plant that I’ve never eaten before in my life and cooking a dinner that I never actually got round to eating. ūüôĀ¬† Before I begin, I’d like to send a¬†big ‘thank¬† you’ to our lovely¬†host, Jenn @ Peas&Crayons.¬† I can’t wait to see what she’s bringing to the party this week. ūüôā

So, here’s what I ate yesterday…

Breakfast
Hot lemon and water gulped down quickly before the school run.
On my return home, I had a cup of nettle tea and a huge bowl of cocoa porridge made with Flahavan’s organic jumbo oats.¬† Into the porridge, I¬†added some chopped brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, goji berries,¬†ground linseed, a teaspoon of raw cocoa powder and some¬†organic cherry & berry spread¬†as a sweetener.¬†¬†It was totally delish!¬† I am so loving cocoa porridge at the moment!

Lunch
For lunch today, I decided to make an Indian-style Bhajee… with a twist.¬† Guess what I decided to use as the main ingredient….

Here’s a clue…

Yep, it was¬†stinging nettles from the garden!!¬† I’ve been meaning to try nettles for ages and yesterday I finally did it!¬† I loved the taste and texture of this dish.¬†¬†After eating it, I felt like I was “zinging” with vitamins ūüôā¬† I also found it incredibly filling.

Here’s how I made the Bhajee:

Ingredients
1 carrier bag of nettles (approx 300g)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 piece fresh or frozen root ginger, grated
spices –¬†2tsp¬†cumin seeds, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric
1  can chopped tomatoes
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
handful each of almonds (lightly toasted) and hempseeds

Method

  1. Wearing rubber gloves, pull the nettle leaves off the main stalk.  Carefully remove any insects, rinse the leaves under the tap, then roughly chop.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger and spices and gently fry for a further 2 minutes.  Stir in the vegetable stock.  Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and nettle leaves.  Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the hempseeds and toasted almonds.
  4. Serve with chapattis and/or rice.

I estimate that this recipe would serve 3-4 people.¬† I don’t think this Bhajee is going to appeal to¬†Lil’ L so I might experiment with half the batch¬†and see if I can turn it into¬†a¬†nettle soup that’s super delicious.¬†¬† I’ll keep you posted ūüėČ

Snacks and Drinks
Piece of Date & Zucchini Brownie (I made a large tray to take to my evening study class)
1 black coffee
1 soy latte
1 cup peppermint & nettle tea
lots of water with lemon

Evening Meal
For my main meal, I made one of our all-time favourite stir fries….¬†braised aubergine and tofu¬†with pak choi.¬† Lil L’ absolutely loves this¬†meal!¬† (I’ll post the recipe tomorrow)

Though this meal only takes 20 mins to make, I didn’t get time to eat it!¬† M rang at 5pm to say that he wasn’t going to be home in time to look after Lil’ L, so I quickly grabbed my coat and¬†bag, dropped Lil’ L¬†round at¬†a friend’s house and dashed to the bus stop.¬† Luckily, all the stars were aligned for me yesterday and the bus turned up in perfect time (this RARELY happens) and I made it to my class on time¬†(EVEN RARER!).

M and Lil’ L informed me that the stir fry was delish, so I’m looking forward to trying it for myself tonight ūüôā

Supper
Fortunately, the nettle bhajee was so filling that I didn’t feel any hunger pangs all afternoon or evening!¬†¬†When I got home at 10.30pm, I did have¬†a small bowl of muesli and Shreddies, just to make sure that I didn’t wake up hungry.

Those nettles really did pack some power…¬† I felt like I was buzzing with energy all afternoon and night!¬†¬†If I can¬†find some delicious ways of cooking them, then I’ll be onto a winner.¬†¬†Forget¬†growing tomatoes and¬†squashes, I’ll be filling¬†the veggie patch with nettles instead ūüėČ

What’s the most unlikely food that you’ve eaten?

-o-o-o-o-o-o-

If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a signed copy of NAKED chocolate.¬† The closing date is Monday, 21st November.

-o-o-o-o-o-o-

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Filed under Being Frugal, Dinners

The Big Budget Challenge – week I

With lots of fairly large expenses looming over the next 3 months, last Friday¬†I decided to join¬†‘The Big Budget Challenge’ hosted by the lovely Laura @¬†Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish.¬†¬†We set our own budgeting rules (mine are here) and, for the next 2 months, we’ll¬†post a weekly progress update on how we’re doing on our budgeting adventure.¬†

It’s my first week into the challenge and I’ve been filled with enthusiasm about finding ways to cut our household food-related costs.¬† Here’s a summary of what I managed to achieve in the past week:

1. Avoid Waste.¬† I’m pleased to say that I’ve used up all fruits and veggies before they went brown, turned to liquid or grew fur. ūüėȬ† I also rummaged around in the kitchen cupboards¬†and used up anything that was past its sell-by date, including 2 packs of ground almonds:

I was in foodie heaven when I saw these almonds on special offer. Please don't look at the BB date! They were fine, honest!

With these almonds, I made some vegan cocoa fudge (featured in yesterday’s post)¬†and 4 fruit puddings made with home-grown apples,¬†foraged blackberries, and¬†an oaty-almond topping.¬† They were totally delish…¬†although Lil’ L freaked at the purple coloured apple and said the dessert¬†wasn’t attractive enough to eat! The cheek of it!

The idea was to freeze 3 puddings and eat 1 this week.¬† Instead, 1 found its way into the freezer, and 3 got eaten in less than a week!¬† Aren’t we a greedy bunch?

2. Shop around for the cheapest deals. I haven’t done an internet shop this week, so I’ll try www.mysupermarket.co.uk for price comparisons next week.

3. Make use of home-grown foods. On Saturday, we picked apples off our cooking apple tree.¬† M and Lil’ L had loads of fun, with M balanced up the tree throwing apples down to Lil’ L.¬† The idea was to carefully catch them and place them in the box, so we can overwinter them.¬† Unfortunately, most got dropped, some bounced off his head, and the picked apples definitely got mixed in with the windfalls!¬† I’m not holding out much hope for the overwintering now. ūüôĀ

 

We filled up 3 boxes and there’s still hundreds of apples up the tree.¬† If anyone that lives near me would like some apples, please give me a shout as we have way too many for a family of 3.

So far, I’ve made all the puddings mentioned above, plus lots of apple sauce, which I’ve been using to make apple cinnamon breakfast pancakes.¬†

I normally buy at least one bag of organic apples a week and a couple of jars of organic apple sauce per month, so this little harvest is going to save us a fair fortune!

4. Go Foraging! I couldn’t wait to go foraging, so straight after school last Friday, Lil’ L and I put on¬†our¬†wellies and went¬†to see what we could find.¬† Just a short distance from¬†our house, we found a small strip of land¬†literally covered with cob nuts!¬† We gathered them up, brought them home and weighed them.¬† In total, we had 2 kilos’ worth of nuts!¬† In Waitrose, cob nuts are currently selling for ¬£3.99 a kilo!

 

Fortunately, I know someone who absolutely loves cracking nuts. ūüėČ

So far, I’ve used the nuts to make veggie burgers.¬† This weekend I’m going to try roasting them with a little sea salt.¬† Again, if anyone¬†living near me would like some cob nuts please let me know as we have way too many.

Last weekend, we also combined a¬†bike ride along the Bath-Bristol cycle route¬†with a foraging trip to gather blackberries.¬† We managed to gather 3 containers’ worth.¬† Some went in the puddings, the rest I stewed.¬† I adore stewed blackberries and ate 2¬†bowlfuls today.¬† I should be zinging with nutrients now! ūüôā

5. Make use of vouchers and deals.¬† This is where we made a huge saving.¬† In preparation for¬†our Friday night out, I exchanged some Tesco vouchers for reward tokens and we went to Pizza Express.¬† We asked for the ¬£10 for 2 course menu (in our local P.E. you don’t get this menu unless you ask for it!) and Lil’ L had the children’s menu.¬† For drinks we had tap water (P.E. must hate people like us ūüėČ ).¬† The bill came to ¬£27, which was paid for in tokens… thus FREE!¬† Normally we spend ¬£35-¬£40 on a night out, so a bargain all round!

Outside of my 5 rules, we also came up with another way to save significant amounts of money… by parking 10 mins out of the city centre and walking in.¬† This week, we’ve needed to go into the city twice by car (normally we cycle).¬† By parking a little out of the centre, we saved ¬£10 in parking charges!¬† I also enjoyed walking through parts of Bath that I never normally visit.¬† I especially enjoyed stomping through the crunchy leaves. ūüôā

It’s amazing how many ways you can save money with a little bit of thought.¬†¬†I’m going to pop over to Laura’s now and see how everyone else is doing¬†on¬†The Big Budget Challenge.

What’s your favourite money-saving tip?¬† I’d love to hear it!¬†

 

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Filed under Being Frugal, Growing Fruit & Veggies