First Signs of Spring! #WIAW Butternut Squash & Apricot Tagine

The mornings are getting lighter, the sun’s starting to shine, and there are signs of new life in the garden.

First Crocuses of Spring - Feb 2013

Spring is definitely in the air and how glorious it feels 🙂

These crocuses have popped up in the cracked pavement on our driveway!
Each Spring, these crocuses pop up in the cracked pavement on our driveway!

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.

First Primroses of Spring - Feb 2013 - 500

The river and tow path are finally starting to dry out, which means I finally can stop wading through mud on my morning runs 🙂

First Crocuses of Spring 2 - Feb 2013 - 500

All around there are signs of new life and the birds are busy building nests.

Snowdrops - Feb 2013 - 500

Spring is a glorious time of year isn’t it?

First Narcissus of Spring - February 2013 - 500


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!

Pomegranate, Orange, Walnut, Hemp Seed Salad 1 - 500
– 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

After School Snacks - Pistachios

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!

Butternut Squash & Apricot Tagine - 500

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.

[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 🙂



19 thoughts on “First Signs of Spring! #WIAW Butternut Squash & Apricot Tagine

  1. Beautiful photos, as always! I bet it was just heartbreaking to hear about that cold and wind! I would love to grow my own veggies, and I try to every year (usually tomatoes or bell peppers) but it never works out. I don’t think the climate around here is well suited for them, and the animals (namely squirrels) get at them before we can!

  2. It is definitely looking lovely!
    I have the same problem growing things here – eaten by creatures! I had grown some kale last year and about a week before it was ready to be picked it got eaten by ‘something’ – all of it was eaten!!!! So sad.
    It feels good to be able to wake up without an alarm hey 🙂
    Tagine looks very yummy 🙂

    1. That’s such a shame about your kale 🙁 I had a similar experience with my courgette (zucchini) plant. It was in a pot and, to protect it from getting eaten, I was bringing it into the back porch every night. The plant managed to grow one vegetable. Unfortunately, one night, I forgot to bring it in and when I went to fetch it in the early hours of the morning, I found it half eaten and covered in snails, ear wigs and wood lice (even though it was on top of my garden table)! Don’t think I’ll bother trying to grow them again this year :/

      1. It was fab! We’ll definitely be having this again. Maybe next time I’ll even try layering it in my (as yet unused for want of a diffuser) tagine dish!

        Have you grown perpetual spinach? The slugs had a good old munch on ours but it’s so prolific that there was plenty left relatively unscathed to cook with. I’d also try red lettuces, mine last year were miraculously untouched. Oh, and our squash seemed to fare very well against the slimy assassins too.

        1. I’ve got a tagine pot too but, to be honest, I tend to cook this dish in the saucepan as it takes half the time 😉
          Thank you so much for your veggie growing tips. I love the sound of growing perpetual spinach and red lettuce. I tried growing squash for a couple of years but the slugs absolutely demolished it. I was going out in the rain, night after night, to remove the slugs. One night I collected 40! I realised it just wasn’t sustainable so I won’t bother with squash this year. Spinach & lettuce sound good though!
          I also need to work out how to prevent black fly (in a non harmful way). They’re already breeding on my parsley 🙁

          1. I looked about online and it seems that slugs really don’t like red lettuce! No idea what it is about red lettuce in particular, but some suggest using plants slugs don’t like (garlic, lavender, sage, red lettuce, red cabbage, fennel) in rows as barriers to plants they do like. Might be worth a shot. ‘Perpetual spinach’ isn’t a true spinach, it’s actually ‘leaf beet’ and a member of the chard family. The slugs had a good old go at ours and when collecting it a high percentage of the leaves had *some* slug damage, but it’s one of those ‘cut and come again’ type of plants which is so vigorous and inexhaustible that nothing seems to defeat it. Easy peasy to grow too, just shove a packet of seeds in the ground, water and forget about it. Nasturtiums are lovely to eat (peppery leaves and flowers for salads) and the slugs don’t like them either.

            1. Thank you so much for your tips. You’ve inspired me to have another try at veggie growing this year 🙂 I’ll let you know how it goes x

  3. Still battling the slug and snail issue? Not sure of any good suggestions on plants that survive them.
    We are indeed planning on planting our own vegetables and actually already have broccoli, kale, and spinach in the ground.
    The weather here has been CHILLY, but it has been lighter earlier in the day which I love (because I know spring is coming).

    1. I’m so happy to hear you have success growing your own veggies 🙂 Last year I thought it’d be safe to grow my little butternut squash plants on my first floor balcony… but no, the slugs even managed to find their way up there! In one night they ate the whole lot, leaving me with just little green stems poking out the soil and no leaves 🙁 I really want to grow my own produce but it’s far harder than I thought it’d be :/

  4. Love the tangine – so colourful and full of vegies. I have herbs in my garden but it is the ones that I don’t use so much that are hardiest – don’t know why – we have had success with lemons and limes in pots

    1. Hi Johanna! Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s the same for me with the herbs… the lemon balm and sage grow no trouble at all (but I hardly ever use these!), whereas the basil and coriander are impossible to grow outside as they get munched to pieces, and the parsley gets covered in black fly 🙁 I’m now having to grow my favourite herbs in pots in the kitchen to keep them away from all the critters :/

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