Warm Winter Sprout & Quinoa Salad

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Quinoa is a slightly contentious topic in the food world at the moment (as this article highlights), due to the west’s sudden love and demand for this little grain. There’s no doubt that quinoa is one of the world’s greatest foods, especially for vegetarians and vegans out there: it’s a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids, it has almost twice as much fibre as most other grains and it’s packed with magnesium. In most ways, it trumps all other grains, but when poor Bolivians and Peruvians can no longer afford their staple food because of US and European demand raising prices, it’s not an easy or particularly acceptable thing to buy a packet of South American-grown quinoa and simply shrug and ignore this unethical fact.

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But here in Britain we have the perfect solution – Hodmedod’s British quinoa from the fields of Essex. A truly local grain grown in English soil which has only travelled a few miles and hasn’t cheated South American farmers and civilians out of their food – what can be better than that? And, pairing this with Brussel sprouts and a few swirls of carrot, which are both in season, this salad is a local and seasonal bowl of rainbow-coloured goodness. Sprouts receive an unfair nose-wrinkling bad name, but they can be so delicious if cooked in an imaginative way, rather than simply boiling all the taste and nutrients out of them. Infusing this warm winter salad with rosemary and chilli flakes gives both the quinoa and sprouts an aromatic flavour, and topping it off with lightly toasted sunflower seeds adds a crunch which makes every mouthful a protein-packed, plant-filled pleasure.

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Serves 3:

  • 2 cups/310g of Brussel sprouts
  • ½ cup of quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup of sunflower seeds
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 teaspoons of chilli flakes
  • Sea salt

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Preheat your oven to 170°C. Start by chopping the bottom end off the Brussel sprouts and removing the outer leaves. Give them a good wash before cutting them in half. Then place them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toss until evenly coated. Roast them in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Whilst they’re baking, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the quinoa and apple cider vinegar. Give it a stir and reduce to a simmer, letting it cook for about 15 minutes, or however long your specific quinoa takes.

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At this point, peel the outer skin of the carrots off and then use the peeler to make thin strips, from one end to the other. Strip the rosemary leaves off their stems. Once the sprouts have been in the oven for 10 minutes take them out and sprinkle over the chilli flakes and rosemary leaves. Give them a stir to make sure they’re roasting evenly and return them to the oven for about 10 more minutes, or until they’re starting to go golden brown and slightly crispy.

Using a dry pan, turn it up to a medium heat and gently toast the sunflower seeds, tossing them about a bit to make sure all sides go lightly brown. Once your quinoa’s cooked, drain any excess water and remove the sprouts from the oven. Toss all the elements together and serve – I like mine sprinkled with a few extra chilli flakes for a mildly spicy tang.

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Almond Butter & Maca Energy Bites

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Almond butter (and I know I am not alone here) is something of an obsession for me. I just absolutely love it. Since I was little I’ve always adored peanut butter because that was the only nut butter available or that I’d come across, but since I tried almond butter last year (Meridian’s is the best – no added sugar and just pure almonds) it trumped peanut butter, and I still tend to gorge on it. The base for these energy bites is almond butter, along with a few raw almonds, walnuts, dates and maca.

Although almonds aren’t in season here in Britain at the moment, I make sure I use almonds which have come from Spain, where they are currently seasonal and so they also haven’t had to travel too far (Meridian states that their organic almonds are grown in Spain, which is fab). Almonds are packed with slow releasing energy, and they’re also rich in vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium, both of which help maintain healthy bones and teeth. The addition of walnuts to these little snacks is also great because they are still in season in the UK – so these nutty balls are fresh, seasonal heaven.

The mix of creamy almond butter, almonds, walnuts, dates and ground flax seeds gives these bites so much flavour, and you just know you’re giving your body a health and energy kick because almost all the ingredients are raw. In health cafes maca is often offered as a drink alternative to coffee, because of its naturally invigorating and revitalizing effects, so it gives these balls that little bit extra for an afternoon pick-me-up or a morning boost. Even better, maca has a unique spiciness and subtle sweetness which is so delicious. These little titans of energy really are so easy to whip up – it’s great to make a quick batch at the weekend ready for the trials of the week ahead.

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Makes between 12-15 balls:

  • 4 tablespoons of almond butter
  • ⅓ cup of almonds (50g)
  • ⅓ cup of walnuts (45g)
  • 10 dates (80g)
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds
  • 3 teaspoons of maca
  • 3 tablespoons of jumbo oats
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • Sea salt

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Simply place the raw almonds, walnuts, ground flaxseeds, oats and maca in a food processor and blend until the nuts are broken down into fine pieces and it starts to resemble a flour (though not totally ground).

After that, add the almond butter, dates, coconut oil, water and a good grinding of sea salt before blending once more until the mixture has all come together and is starting to stick into one big ball of dough.

Scoop out a small amount of the mixture and roll around in your palms to make smooth balls. Store them in the fridge, or if you’re restrained and don’t think you’ll eat them within a week, place them in the freezer. Nibble (or pop into your mouth in one) and enjoy!

Heritage Crops: The Brighter Future of Farming

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Genetically modified food is a controversial topic. It’s something which is being endlessly debated, particularly in terms of whether it’s required to feed the ever-increasing population of our planet. It’s tricky for most of us to know whether it’s a good thing or bad thing, but presented with the raw facts by someone such as a small-scale, honest farmer who has genuine hands-on experience with growing food, there’s no doubt that GM crops and seeds are bad – very bad, in fact. For humanity, for the environment and for food security.

John Letts is one such organic farmer in Buckinghamshire who has set out on a mission to grow hundreds of varieties of ancient cereals – heritage grain, as he calls it. He’s also a thatcher, which is significant because it was whilst he was retouching thatched roof houses that he made an amazing discovery. Some thatched houses are hundreds of years old, with the original layer of thatch being laid down in about 1350. Vitally, in some cases, this original layer has never been removed, and this is significant because houses of the 1300s had no chimney, meaning that any smoke simply floated up into the roof, perfectly preserving the grains of straw stitched together to create the thatch.

Mr Letts goes so far as to describe thatched roofs as “archaeological sites”, because of this preserved layer and the subsequent layers replaced over the years, like a record of time from 1300 to now. One of the most important things to be noted about these ancient grains is that they were genetically diverse – people used to grow varieties of wheat, oats, rye and barley in their hundreds, and what’s more, they were land adaptive, meaning they could easily adapt to varying conditions. This genetic diversity meant that wheat and oats were resilient against disease, because if one type of wheat contracted a disease there were hundreds of other varieties still left untouched after the disease had attacked it.

Even in the early 1800s, there were between 200-500 varieties of plant in one field, which is unimaginable when we now walk in monocrop fields with rows and rows of the exact same, genetically-identical wheat, barley or oat plant. Shaking his head, Mr Letts says, “We have a tiny amount of genetic history in the crops we grow. Modern wheat varieties are all the same, and if it weren’t for the layers in thatched roofs then every other variety of wheat ever grown or cultivated would have been lost.”

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Comparing ancient and modern varieties of grain and how their crops grow, there are a few evident differences. First of all, modern crop seeds are grown without husks, whereas heritage seeds have the husk still covering them, as they naturally did before we began fiddling and altering the plants. Husks are important as they help protect the plant and seed against fungi – so, through a fault of our own making, when they’re not protected and fungi starts ruining the crop, conventional farmers decide to spray fungicide all over it.

Before the industrial revolution, crops had large root systems, meaning they could absorb various nutrients rather than simply nitrogen, which is 1 of the 3 minerals modern farming deems plants require, even though there are 52 minerals in nature and it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to think that plants (and humans who are eating those plants) really need all 52 nutrients to thrive. Furthermore, these ancient grains grown as mixed crops – with an assortment of plants which complemented one another – had all sorts of different height roots in their systems, meaning they were far more resilient than modern monocrops. Smiling knowingly, Mr Letts points to one of his fields and says, “Ancient wheat with husks on can stand in the rain for 3 months.”

This sounds entirely unbelievable when we hear constant reports of British farmers’ crops being ruined after the weeks of rain we’ve had in recent years, such as in the summer of 2012. But that’s because today’s farmers are using monocrop wheat with shortened stems, weak root systems and roots which can’t connect with the fungi in the soil. Every plant has root fungi – it is a natural part of soil, along with insects, microorganisms, gases and organic matter, all of which exist in a symbiotic relationship with plants and their roots. Unlike ancient crops, modern varieties are unable to take advantage of the fungi, and so they’re entirely dependent on topsoil and therefore cheap fertilisers which nowadays farmers spray on their fields by the bucket load.

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All of this is very interesting with international corporations like Monsanto claiming that only GM crops can ‘feed the world’ and how, in the context of climate change, these companies are producing ‘climate-ready crops’ which will supposedly be able to withstand changes in our climate over the next 100 years. It seems much more likely that, in fact, it is these ancient varieties of wheat, oat, spelt, corn, rye etc that will be able to grow and adapt to changing conditions, and what’s more, they would be able to grow without the use of artificial chemicals and fertilisers and without the threat of miles of crops being wiped out by a flood, drought or some new strain of disease. Even better, Mr Letts tells me that the yield of medieval crops was almost exactly the same as it is now, so there can be no argument that modern varieties of GM crops produce far higher amounts of grain per hectare.

Another interesting point is that it was in the early 1800s when commercial baking with yeast began – before that, we didn’t use cultivated yeast to make bread. Medieval bread was almost all sourdough – a process which uses only naturally occurring yeasts within the bread and which creates bread which is flatter. Mr Letts, who is a passionate baker and bread eater himself, has a friend called Colin who is opening his own bakery and lives a short distance from his farm. When my friend Eloise and I were helping out on his farm back in the summer, Colin would bring over freshly baked sourdough using Mr Letts’ very own flour every morning. This sourdough was some of the most amazing bread I’ve ever tasted, with a wonderful flavour which surpasses the stale, flabby white bread you find in supermarkets in every single way, and it even got the French seal of approval from Eloise.

Making pizzas one night with some of Colin’s dough, Mr Letts starts talking about rye and the wisdom of medieval farmers, saying, “Ergot fungi is a type of fungi that grows on rye plants and is highly toxic to humans, but the sourdough baking process detoxifies the ergot. Somehow people living in the 1200s, 1300s, 1400s onwards knew how to do this, and worked out a way to eat rye without poisoning themselves.”

There’s another aspect of sourdough bread which is fascinating in the context of the number of people who now have gluten intolerances and celiac disease. Mr Letts describes how there’s current research in Germany into sourdough in relation to gluten. Apparently, when making sourdough bread, long term fermentation of the dough is required with the sourdough culture, which uses naturally occurring lactobacilli. These bacteria produce lactic acid which lowers the pH of the bread to 3, and such a low pH destroys the gluten so those who are sensitive or allergic to gluten can eat it.

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Nowadays, modern wheat flour has various emulsifiers and enzymes added to it so that bread can be made in half an hour. This, Mr Letts believes, is a big part of the problem. “We’re eating raw starch and raw gluten, and our stomachs can’t digest them so they go straight to our guts.” Once in our gut, they cause inflammation which allows food (importantly, raw gluten, but many other foods as well) to leak into our bloodstream via a common disorder called leaky gut syndrome, and once there our body treats the food like a foreign invader and it triggers an immune response. So it’s no wonder so many of us are intolerant to wheat and gluten.

When delving deep into the way our food is grown and produced, it’s often easy to get downhearted. Mr Letts, speaking of his experience with growing food and his first-hand experience of working for American chemical companies producing fungicides, herbicides and pesticides, says that what these multinational companies spew out is a “fake argument about feeding the world.” Moreover, it is companies such as Monsanto who are now patenting seed (because they have modified and created their own types which they supposedly ‘own’) and trying (and often succeeding) to stop farmers saving their own seed as they have done for hundreds of years, as the term ‘heritage’ suggests.

“It’s all about money,” Mr Letts says. “GM crops so easily contaminate non-GM and organic crops, and Monsanto can then claim they own those crops because their GM seeds start growing in them. When this happens, they can sue farmers who try to save their seeds. And even if you’re not up against Monsanto, lots of varieties of wheat and other crops are illegal to plant and grow – if you do want to grow them they have to be approved by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs). But, thankfully, a few people like Mr Letts are pitting themselves against corporations and the governments they’ve bought out by growing these ancient varieties of grain (legally, of course).

Roman Blend White Spelt Flour

Furthermore, the future is looking brighter. “They won’t be able to criminalise the keeping and swapping of seeds because people are catching on all over the world,” Mr Letts says to me, dropping a spelt seed from one of his crops into my hand as he shows me how to work his old fashioned miller, which will turn seeds into flour ready for selling under the brand Lammas Fayre. It’s been a long process over 10 years of his life, but his heritage grain flours are now up on the market available to buy from Bakery Bits. The idea behind them is that each flour reflects the time and type of people who were using a particular mix of grain in their baking. They’re like flours for history, so he offers Medieval Peasant’s Blend Flour, Victorian Blend White Flour and Roman Blend Wholemeal Spelt Flour.

Anglo Saxon Blend Light Rye Flour

But Mr Letts isn’t stopping there. “We need a magna carta for seed,” he says, “so that seeds can be protected by laws which are moral, ethical and environmental, and so they can’t be stolen from the farmers who have saved and cultivated them for us over hundreds of years.” With that in mind, he’s aiming to produce a flour which has thousands of varieties of ancient seeds in it – 1215 to be exact, for the year the Magna Carta was created, to be ready next year in 2015, for its 800th anniversary.

Heritage Blend Artisan Pizza Flour

Roasted Parsnip, Butter Bean & Almond Soup

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I’ve never been much of a soup person. Other people always go on about how great it is, how easy to make and how delicious it can be. Maybe it’s because I used to eat those Covent Garden soups from the supermarket which are bulked out with butter and cream – and that’s all they taste of to me. Soup from the supermarket, especially Tesco own or even Sainsbury’s own, just doesn’t cut it one bit. And they all seem to have funny, artificial, unidentifiable ingredients, just like almost everything else on the shelves. I’m also really not a fan of boiled vegetables or watery soup (keep broth away from me) – for me it has to be thick, creamy and tasty to the max.

And that’s exactly what this parsnip soup is. Roasting the parsnips really brings out their flavour, adding a nuttiness which you don’t get if you simply boil, and then the combination of butter beans, almonds and almond milk gives it a creamy (with not one drop of cream in sight) and hearty dimension. Including butter beans and almonds means this soup is brimming with protein, which again is what I think many vegetarian soups lack. Even better, it’s root vegetable time in Britain and parsnips are 100% in season. As well as being in season, they’re a great source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, and many minerals and vitamins such as manganese and vitamin K, and they contain many poly-acetylene antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.

This soup really does taste great, boosted by the garlic and spices – it’s a far cry from watery broth or buttery mush. And, it is super easy to make and is so warming on these ever deepening wintery days, so I really hope you whip it up and tuck in.

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Serves 6:

  • 3 large parsnips
  • 1 cup/240g of butter beans (either 1 can’s worth or soaked overnight and simmered for 2 hours with a couple of garlic cloves and bay leaves)
  • ½ cup/120g of blanched almonds (soaked overnight)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 450ml of unsweetened almond milk
  • 550ml of vegetable stock
  • 1½ teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1½ teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

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Preheat your oven to 190°C. Peel the parsnips and chop into large hunks before placing on a baking tray. Sprinkle over some olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and then stir around to make sure all the pieces are coated before placing in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning them at least twice to make sure they roast evenly.

While the parsnip is roasting, peel and chop the garlic cloves into small discs. Add the tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and place on a medium heat, waiting for the oil to get hot before adding the garlic. Let it cook gently for a minute or so and then add the cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon of turmeric and ½ teaspoon of paprika. Stir in the spices so they have a chance to lightly fry and then remove from the heat.

Drain the blanched almonds then place in a food processor along with a very small amount of water. Blend until they’ve broken down into a smooth paste before adding the butter beans. Blend again until smooth. Once the parsnips are a nice golden brown all over, remove from the oven and place in a blender along with the blended butter beans and blanched almonds, fried garlic and spices, almond milk, vegetable stock, chilli flakes, the remaining 1 teaspoon of turmeric and paprika and a good grinding of salt and pepper and then blend until smooth. If you like your soup nice and thick it should be a good consistency but if you want it a bit thinner then add a little water until you get the thickness you want. If serving straight away pour into bowls, otherwise reheat when ready and enjoy!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Spinach and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salad

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I always used to think of salads as a summer thing, but an autumn or winter salad can be so delicious and can easily be warming, especially with a good zesty dressing. The best thing about this salad is how easy it is to make. Purple sprouting broccoli is so tasty raw and by not cooking or heating it in any way it retains all 100% of possible nutrients available, meaning it’s packed with goodness. Not only is broccoli a rich source of vitamin C, it’s also full of iron, calcium, vitamin A and the phytochemical sulphoraphane which can help protect against diabetes, cancer and heart damage.

Even better, the little bunch of purple sprouting broccoli I used for this salad was grown in the UK, in a county just west of my home, so it’s the epitome of seasonal, local and fresh. Similarly, spinach is still just about in season in Britain, which is fantastic, so I just had to make something with it. And again, by eating raw spinach our bodies have the chance to soak up more vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which is always a good thing. The avocado adds a creamy dimension and the toasted pumpkin seeds are bursting with flavour – lightly crunchy and warm. They also give the salad an autumnal element, as now is the perfect time for pumpkins and squash. Drizzling all the ingredients with an olive oil, lime and tahini dressing really tops this salad off, making it scrummy and the complete opposite of what many people think of as salad. This is far from a boring and tasteless collection of flaccid iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber. It’s so healthy, packed with protein and is a seasonal feast which will fill you up without any stodge – perfect for a light autumn lunch. So whip it up and tuck in!

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Serves 1

For the salad:

  • 3 or 4 stems of purple sprouting broccoli (depending on their size)
  • A large handful of spinach leaves
  • ½ an avocado
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of tahini
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper

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Simply wash the broccoli, dry it and then slice into small pieces. Wash the spinach in a salad spinner and place in a bowl along with the broccoli pieces. Cut open your avocado into two halves then scoop out the flesh from one of the halves before slicing it into small cubes. Add them to the salad bowl as well and toss with the spinach and broccoli.

To make the dressing, cut the lime in half and squeeze out all its juice into a jug before adding all the other ingredients. Then stir with a fork to make sure it all combines nicely.

Next, place the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and turn the hob on to a medium heat. After a minute or two they’ll start to toast so make sure you turn them and shift them about so they cook evenly. Once they start going a little brown remove them from the heat. Sprinkle them over the salad, drizzle over the dressing and mix it all up before enjoying!

Roasted Cobnut Banana Bread

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Banana bread has been one of my go-to things for years when I’m feeling like a bit of squidgy, gooey comfort food. I usually used a recipe which was literally just bananas, flour, eggs and a bit of spice if you wanted it – so great because it’s totally sugar free, with the only sweetness coming from the bananas themselves. But I thought it was time I experimented and made banana bread with a bit of panache and a unique flavour, and so came up with this roasted cobnut banana cake. And it really tastes divine, if I’m allowed to say so myself! What’s even better is that it’s vegan, gluten free and uses a seasonal, local, very English ingredient – cobnuts.

Cobnuts are very similar to hazelnuts and you can find cobnut trees over much of the countryside in Britain. Lots of cobnuts are grown and cultivated in Kent, so you might have heard the term Kentish cobnuts, which some greengrocers and supermarkets offer at this time of year. But you can pick cobnuts straight off the tree (if you beat the squirrels to them) and the best thing about picking them yourself is that they’re free. Wild food is something which seems to have been completely forgotten about in the modern western world – it’s as if people are afraid that if it doesn’t come from a supermarket it can’t be safe or edible. But that’s just not true at all. There’s an abundance of wild food out there for us to gorge on and enjoy, from berries and nuts to mushrooms, herbs and flowers.

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You can eat raw cobnuts but roasting them really brings out a delicious, toasted flavour. And by combining them with hazelnut oil, it turns this banana bread into something else. Both hazelnuts and cobnuts are packed with protein, and they’re very high in energy so they’re great for providing an energy boost either in the morning at breakfast or as a snack in the mid afternoon lull which many people suffer from. They’re also a rich source of vitamin E and a load of minerals such as manganese, potassium, iron and zinc. The last thing I’ll say about this banana bread is that it’s super easy to make, so there’s no reason not to like it.

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Makes one loaf:

  • 6 medium to large bananas (overly ripe is best)
  • 1 cup (150g) of brown rice flour
  • ½ cup (50g) of ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons of hazelnut oil (if you don’t have any sunflower oil works too)
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • ½ cup of almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons of yacon syrup/date syrup (optional – I don’t feel the bread needs it but most people seem to have a sweeter tooth than me!)
  • A large handful of cracked and shelled cobnuts (if you can’t lay your hands on any use hazelnuts)

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Start by preheating your oven to 150°C. Then, crack and shell the cobnuts until you have enough to make a large handful. Simply lay these on a baking tray and roast for about 45 minutes, turning half way through to make sure they roast evenly.

While they’re roasting, mash the bananas and set aside. Then place the flour, ground almonds, hazelnut oil, coconut oil, almond milk, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix this all together before adding half the squashed banana. Stir this in then add the other half and stir again to make a batter.

When the cobnuts are roasted, remove them from the oven and turn it up to 170°C. Place all the nuts in a pestle and mortar except about 3 for use later. Bash them up into small chunks and then add to the bread batter and stir in until everything’s combined.

Grease a loaf tin with coconut oil and then line the bottom with greaseproof paper before greasing that as well. Then pour in the mixture. At this point crush the 3 remaining cobnuts in the pestle and mortar and then scatter the pieces over the top of the mix.

Bake the bread in the oven for an hour or until a knife comes out clean. You may want to lay a piece of foil over the top about 45 minutes in to stop the top from burning. Finally, remove it from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before slicing and enjoying!

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The Easiest Nut Milk

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I’ve never liked cow’s milk. My mother used to make my brothers drink glasses of the stuff when we were little, but for some reason (I’m not sure why) she never made me. Dairy has just never seemed to sit well in my body, never seemed to do me much good. For years I used to have rice milk on my cereal, which is delicious, but fairly sugary, if only made up of natural sugars from rice. I still have it sometimes, along with unsweetened soya milk, which is great as it has a fair bit of protein in it, but it can be tricky to find a soya milk that is literally just soya beans and water, without added sugar or things like monopotassium phosphate or gellan gum. The latter is supposedly a ‘stabiliser’ – something to artifically make all the ingredients blend and stick evenly together to make sure it ‘looks’ nice for consumers.

The best kind of milk, hands down, is nut milk. Almond milk is probably my favourite, but hazelnut milk and cashew milk are also scrumptious. When you take a sip and get that faintly sweet, nutty taste, it’s divine, especially splashed over porridge. But like soya milk most of the ones you find in supermarkets have those mysterious added ingredients which aren’t actually food, and most people have no idea what they are or stop to question them or what they might be doing to their bodies. Just the way food companies and corporations like Alpro and Tesco like it.

The freshest and most nutritious nut milk you can drink is (as with everything) the homemade from scratch kind. And when you make it at home, you know it’s literally nuts and water. When I have the time, I soak nuts overnight and then blend them with water before straining out the milk through a cheesecloth. But a lot of us in this 21st century world don’t have the time, especially first thing in the morning, or else we forget to soak the nuts the night before or often feel lazy. I’m guilty of all those things. That’s why a couple of weeks ago, I had a light bulb moment.

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I adore nut butters, forever spreading them on rye bread or rice cakes or just licking them straight off a spoon. Like nut milks I try to make them as often as possible but most of the time I live off nut butters bought from my local health food shop. I always either get Meridian or Carley’s. Carley’s is so great as they supply raw white almond butter, so it’s full of nutrients, having not been heated and lost some of its goodness. You can’t beat the creaminess of Meridian nut butters though. Either way, they’re both fantastic as they are literally just nuts, completely natural and with no added ingredients. You may be surprised that almost all shop bought peanut butters have added palm oil – for some reason (even the Whole Earth brand which purports to be sustainable and environmentally friendly) the people making peanut butter feel the need to take the natural peanut oil out and put palm oil in. Which just seems totally crazy to me.

But the crucial point here is that you can use these nut butters to make nut milks. Simply by scooping a couple of teaspoons of the butter out and then whizzing it up with water. Done in under a minute and voilà! You’ve got nut milk. And, especially if you use raw nut butter, you have a natural, delicious, nutrient-rich, protein-dense, sugar free milk to enjoy and gulp down whenever you like.

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Makes one small jug of nut milk:

  • 2 teaspoons of nut butter (almond, cashew, hazelnut or a mix)
  • 1 cup of water

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Place the nut butter and water in a blender (or, even easier, in a container for using with a hand blender) and blend for 10 seconds. Pour the mix out into a jug or bottle and seal, and store in the fridge. Most importantly – enjoy!