10 tips for An Indulgent and Regret Free Holiday Season

The Whole Food Diary

It’s that time of year again.
Whether it’s under the tree, on the tree, at your desk, at a party, at the next party, in the office, in your kitchen or at the gym… with the holidays approaching you can’t walk the length of a candy cane without stumbling on a form of glistening sugar filled ‘treat’.
Is navigating food during the Christmas season a stress point for you? What do you do with the temptation of food at this supposedly most wonderful time of the year?  Or maybe for you it’s still the most wonderful time while it lasts but then the payment for a fun December is a guilt ridden, oversized January.
Christmas for me used to be the day I most wished for a bottomless stomach and an infinite calorie limit. Who’s with me?! All the indulgence, none of the pain. Then in the absence of my wish being granted I would act like it had been; donning a big hoodie towards the afternoon, grabbing an extra mince pie and finishing up the day overly full of both food and regret.
“Is this really how it has to be?”
That was my regular December 26th question. Can we enjoy this day, get excited about happy food, indulge, celebrate and then not feel bad? Can we enjoy December fully and still feel amazing in January?
I can now tell you from experience: Yes, absolutely!!  (I have a whole blog post on Indulging with Freedom which you can read here but I’m going to give a more practical 10 steps!)  This year I’m not dreading Christmas food, or a slump afterwards.  I won’t be hitting the gym harder in the New Year, or quitting food and prescribing myself a January of green juice and water.  At the same time I won’t be restrictive and boring over Christmas either. Believe me, I’ve been that person at the table, and it’s no fun for anyone. (Thank you tolerant family!) No, this year I’m going to go home, eat delicious fun food, drink some wine, enjoy some scotch, savour more chocolate than usual, brew extra coffee and enjoy every moment. I won’t need a hoodie to hide a bloated Christmas tummy, but I won’t be lacking in happy family, foodie moments. Yes, it’s been a journey to get to this point but it’s fully possible and below I’m giving you a few of my top tips for truly enjoying the season, and the days beyond as well!
1) You are powerful! You’ve got this! This journey begins in your mind.  You are not a victim of the holidays and this is possible! Feeling over-fed and overweight are not inevitable by-products of Christmas. You get to choose and do whatever ‘doing well’ is to you.
2) Don’t buy into the lie that you’re depriving yourself! That’s not the goal! This one’s important. Remember you’re doing this for you!! So when you make choices that lead there, it’s not deprivation, it’s you giving yourself what you actually want! (Sometimes ‘want’ in the moment, isn’t actually ‘want’ long term and a ‘no’ in the moment is always part of a bigger ‘yes’ to something else.  When you say ‘no’, remember what you are inherently saying ‘yes’ to – Saying ‘yes’ is easier than ‘no’!!)

3) Arm yourself! For the things you want to avoid, find substitutes that are still happy and have them on hand all the time!  For me this looks like clean treats, and good quality dark chocolate.  It’s easy to say no to a junk-filled treat in the work kitchen or at a party if I know I can go home to some organic raw chocolate, or I can grab some homemade granola from my bag instead.

4) Join in the fun! Don’t zone out from family fun, make a dish that’s healthy and add it to the table, something you will enjoy but everyone can join in on!  If you’re joining others for a meal, suggest you bring a dish to add then bring a seasonal side or dessert that’s delicious and clean for everyone to enjoy with you!

5) Choose where you want to indulge then do it with freedom and joy.  Know what you’re aiming for.  You need to indulge, just make it a conscious choice! Think about January and how you want to feel post holidays… then work out what a real true indulgence is and what’s just not worth the moment of fun.  Portion off what you’ve decided to eat and put it on a plate and enjoy every single mouthful!

6) Eat lots of protein. For me, this is the thing that helps stop the sugar cravings, which makes it easier to truly choose my treats without succumbing to a craving moment. Green juice is another thing that helps people get over the cravings too.

7) Practice saying no. So many times we feel guilty saying no and it becomes an excuse to say yes.  99% of the time, it’s fine to say no without judging other people’s choices.  Practice that little word 😊 it’s worth it! Sometimes making a good choice makes the people around us feel guilty, but you still get to make the choice you want, and don’t make a song and dance about it, just don’t judge anyone else’s choices, and say a simple no thanks.

8) Find your reason. Take a moment and workout out how you want to feel in January and why it’s not worth totally ‘giving up’ on being healthy! What’s your reason? Then write it down!! Put it in your pocket, in your purse or on your phone! It’s way easier to be motivated if you have a great reason and you keep it close!

9) Eat often! Don’t starve yourself and ‘save’ the calories. It never really works.  It’s tempting to plan for that office party in the evening by skipping lunch or an afternoon snack so you can eat more at the party and still not over do it.  But really, who succeeds when they walk into the dessert laden room on an empty stomach with low blood sugar? Exactly.  Instead, eat small meals often, and eat before the party! Keep yourself steady and your blood sugar stable so that you’re not driven by your body and you retain the power to choose what you want to eat and where you want to say no!

10) Celebrate yourself and have grace for yourself!! If you’re even trying you’re doing well! Don’t give up on the day because you made one choice you regret. I used to be that person – it was all or nothing, perfect self control or giving in completely.  Instead, learn to forgive yourself and pick up and move on.  A good choice is always a good choice, no matter what happened before it.  Celebrate the good choices you’re making and remind yourself… you are amazing!!

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**Christmas giveaway information at the bottom of the post!!**

With happy tummies full of paleo pie Jared and I are finishing up our first ‘Christmas’ of the year here in Texas with his family. At the same time we’re gearing up for round two at home in Redding and shopping for a third round with my family in London! I’m sure we’ve just come round the corner from 3 digit heat and daily bowls of banana ice cream and now the sun is on its way behind the mountains before I even think about dinner and it’s Christmas shopping time!  I love this time of year!

As you can imagine, a large proportion of the items on my wish list for Santa (ok make that 100% of them!) are kitchen and food related, so I thought I’d help you get ready for gift giving season and as I delve into dreamland to create my own wish list, I’m sharing some of it with you to inspire your dreaming and your buying.  This is a round up of some of my favourite kitchen items, staples, much loved foods, treats and some of the things I’m dreaming of for myself… Happy Holidays!

1) Miniature skillets! A Lodge Cast Iron mini skillet to be precise.  We’re starting with a staple and a classic.  My baby skillet from Lodge lives stove top and is used every day.  They are perfect for heating up single servings, making individual fritattas and for warming milk for my husband’s late night study fueling mochas! For an extra stylish colorful version try the Le Creuset range.

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2) A leather mason jar sleeve from The Mason Bar Company.  Being a huge fan of all things green, reusable and waste free means all my drinks go in mason jars.  For the winter with hot drinks that requires a hand protecting sleeve and the most stylish and wonderful ones in existence come from the Mason Bar Company.  The Whisky Cuff for the 24oz wide mouth jar is my fave.  Sleek and beautiful, and still masculine enough for my husband to happily take it to his morning meetings!

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3) The Paleo Patisserie: An Artisan Approach to Grain Free Baking For the last few months I’ve even left wide eyed every time the uber talented Jenni Hulet (aka @theurbanposer) taunts us with pictures of her journey to this masterpiece of a dessert cookbook. Whether or not you eat grains or follow a paleo lifestyle I highly recommend My Paleo Patisserie.  Classically trained and paleo converted pastry chef Jenni Hulet will wow you over and over again with her beyond stunning dessert creations and help you create healthy but uncompromising versions of everything you would find in the best French bakery.

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4) Nohmad Snack Company Chocolate. When we hear the claims of chocolate being healthy, these bars from Nohmad Snack Company are the kind they are talking about. Raw cacao, all organic, sweetened with maple sugar and absolutely divine.  I probably eat chocolate 360 days of the year so having a great clean, well sweetened (or unsweetened) option is important to me!

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5) A stylish Ceramic Egg Crate from Anthropologie. In baking I often need eggs at room temperature. No one wants the cardboard egg box sitting on the counter but equally I don’t want them rolling around… Cue, cute Anthropology designed ceramic egg crate and suddenly we all want our eggs adorning our counter tops. A sleek addition to any kitchen that will have your eggs ready at room temperature for all your baking endeavors.  (One day I also hope to use this when I hop into the house after rounding up the eggs from our future layer hens… Please dearest husband?!)Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.22.27 PM

6) A non stick baking sheet from Silpat. Again on the green train, this is a hassle free alternative to parchment paper. More than the green reasoning though, I’ve had too many times when the oven is preheated, my cookies are ready to go… and the parchment paper drawer is empty. This will save you in that moment over and over again

7) The Yellow Table: A Celebration of Everyday Gatherings A beautiful and classy portrait of seasonally inspired dining. If you follow our daily eating you’ll know that this year I’ve fallen in love with my weekly produce box and the seasonal eating that it’s inspired in our home. In her recently released book, New Yorker Anna Watson Carl brings you the best of both every day, and dinner party style seasonal eating / gives you an exquisite and elegant taste of seasonal eating that will have you itching to jump out of your front door in search of the nearest Farmer’s Market!Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.13.44 PM

8) The Ultimate Farmer’s Market Tote from Proper Assembly. After being seasonally inspired and running to your local market, you’re going to want a way to carry your handfuls of farmers market bounty home and a white plastic bag is not the way forward folks.  I’d like to introduce you to a tote that I think was designed perfectly for effortless style and practically at the market.  This water resistant bag (real food often comes with dirt, we like that but it might need wiping down after!) folds up into its own attached pouch to fit neatly in your purse while your peruse then unfolds to the perfect size to fill with goodies. If you needed an added bonus, for every tote purchased, a bag is given to help start a business given in a developing country. These guys at Proper Assembly are the real deal.Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.23.40 PM

9) Pure Flake Sea Salt from Jacobsen Salt. It’s not often that the salt alone makes you want to return to a restaurant. But when we tasted this salt at a friendly breakfast cafe in Portland, Oregon, it did exactly that. Locally sourced, unrefined and packed full of flavour I didn’t know could be found in salt, this little jar will transform your kitchen creations so that even a piece of toast has your guests asking for more.

10) Ultimate Epic Gift Set. *Stocking Stuffer Pick* My wonderfully healthy gym rat boss introduced me to Epic bars and I was instantly hooked! Finally, an amazing substantial protein boost from grass fed meat protein with a clean ingredient list and no sugar.  One of the keys in healthy eating for me is to always be prepared with food in my car and bag so I don’t make choices I don’t want to make! These are the perfect protein filled post workout, on the go, travel or just at-home snack pack.  This gift set is gorgeous or for the stocking stuffer option go for the individual Hunter Gatherer Mixes (which are also conveniently seasonally coloured!).Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.19.18 PM

11) A citrus zester. My least favourite job in the kitchen growing up was zesting lemons, limes and oranges on a grater. It wasn’t until last month that I discovered citrus zesters. Game changer. It’s now one of my favorite tasks and made so easy, quick and very effective with this nifty little kitchen must have.

12) Waxed Canvas lunch bags. For kids and adults alike, this is the ultimate in stylish lunch bag options. As a kid I did not have a cool lunch box.  (I’ve recovered, don’t worry). But now I’m still left scrambling for brown bags for our lunches. For kids and adults alike, this waxed canvas twist on the bowl paper is the ultimate match of style and practicality.

13) Organic Cococnut Green Tea Kombucha starter kit from Oregon Kombucha. Kombucha is another things we’ve fallen in love with this year.  Reputed for having numerous health benefits and full of gut loving bacteria it’s also a great alternative to sugar filled sodas. It can be a pricey habit if you drink it regularly but it’s extremely simple and fun to make it yourself. Jared got me one of these earlier in the year and with just some coconut green tea, organic sugar and patience it made the most amazing kombucha! Having your own scoby also gives you the freedom to try any flavor you like, pause and store the scoby when you don’t want to make more, and give the ‘baby’ scobies to friends each time you make a batch so they can enjoy the making process too.

14) Organic Acai Berry Powder. Bring the trendy restaurant trend home and start your mornings (or finish your nights or anywhere in between!) with a stylish and super healthy acai bowl. This powder is perfect for blending into fruits for a thick and nutrition filled bowl. Top with berries, nuts, granola or whatever you fancy for a loaded and life-giving meal.Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.24.55 PM

15) An Organic Juice Cleanse. Let’s be real, however cleanly we eat over Christmas it feels refreshing to have a January reboot! Help someone you love to take the stress out of their New Year detox by having the organic cold pressed juices delivered right to their doorstep.  I love my juicer but I discovered the luxury of a freshly made and delivered juice cleanse earlier in the year with juice blends from Project Juice and I fell in love. Treat someone special to the ultimate in clean eating love!Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.29.09 PM

16)  Alive and Radiant Kale ChipsThese are my go-to road trip snack. A healthy and extremely happy munching option, these bags of superfood goodness will win over even the greatest of kaleophobes. I usually go for the savoury ones but for the holidays, do yourself a favour and try the Sea Salt Caramel version, you’ll melt.

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17) Cuisinart 9 Cup Food Processor. Hands down the most used appliance in my kitchen and worth it’s weight in gold to me. From fresh pesto and clean salad dressings to homemade nut butters and raw desserts this baby is invaluable for healthy food prepping. Our kitchen runs on it!Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.41.19 PM

18) Nut milk bag *Budget Pick*  Along with the peeler at #20 on the list this nut milk bag is my favourite sub $10 pick for any healthy kitchen! You can go simple with just the bag, or indulge your friends with the souped-up Weck Jar version from Williams Sonoma. Making your own healthy nut milk is so easy and satisfying with the added bonus that you can customize them to create your favourite combos containing only the ingredients of your choice. Perfect for the picky foodie! (Our favourite is 50:50 cashew:coconut, sweetened with a squidgy medjool date and flavoured with vanilla, salt and cinnamon).

19) A vegetable spiralizer. This has been the trending kitchen item of the year and I had to include it because it’s one of my favorite tools in the kitchen with so many great uses. This nifty gadget will turn zucchinis into noodles, sweet potatoes into shoe string fries and so many other things. It’s guaranteed to make any health food lover your friend for life.  If you’re looking for the stocking stuffer option, go for the julienne peeler from Oxo which is a genius little tool that I’m gradually adding to all my friends’ and family’s kitchens!

20) Locally Roasted Organic Scout Coffee.  By no means least at number twenty, is one of the constants in our kitchen.  A bag of organic, fairly traded and locally roasted coffee beans! My go-to at home is the Costa Rica from our friends at Scout Coffee but a bag of your favourite good organic beans is always a winner on the gift front! Some of our other favorites this year have been Portland based Water Avenue, local Mount Shasta Northbound and London’s wonderful Monmouth Coffee.

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and…..

CHRISTMAS LIST GIVEAWAY!!

I’m so hugely excited about this!! Giving gifts is one of our absolute favorite things here in the Neusch house and this is as close as we can get for all of you wonderful people :) We are giving away to one lucky person pretty much everything on the Christmas Wish List, thanks to all the kind companies below who have put products under our virtual tree for us to pass on to you!!

  • A gorgeous leather mason jar sleeve from The Mason Bar Company
  • A sampler pack of divine raw chocolate from the Nohmad Snack Company
  • A non stick baking mat from Silpat
  • Organic Kombucha Starter Kit from Oregon Kombucha
  • Organic Acai Berry Powder, Maple Cashews and Sweet Cacao nibs from Nativas Naturals
  • Organic Cold Pressed Juices from our Project Juice friends in San Francisco
  • Assorted Kandy Kale Chips from Alive and Radiant
  • A Cuisinart 9 Cup Food Processor (My kitchen runs on this!!)
  • A nut milk bag
  • Locally Roasted Organic Scout Coffee

I’ll be posting a picture on Instagram each day from December 1-5th and you can tag 3 friends each day who you think would enjoy the Wish List goodies (or maybe people who you’d like to see shop the list for you!!). Each day you post you’ll be entered into a draw to win all of the goodies listed above!! You need a US mailing address to receive the goodies – either you or someone you’d like to gift it all to! (For bonus entries you can (a) regram any giveaway picture (one per day) to your (unlocked) account using the hashtag #twfdchristmas and tag us @thewholefooddiary and/or (b) follow all producers and become eligible for a bonus entry by tagging another three people!

And, if you’re close by, just hop over to our house for a ‘Happy Christmas’ doughnut, raw macaroon or piece of whatever’s in the oven!

Happy Christmas from Jared and Kezia!

Pear and Persimmon Crumble

Persimmon Pear Cobbler

As a child, apple crumble was my favorite dessert.  Especially when you climbed the tree yourself and picked the apples and then crumble on your plate piping hot and next to with a real vanilla ice cream. (Not the yellow kind. The white one with the little black flecks of vanilla in it… mmm).  Our London home had an apple tree in the garden and there were huge orchards at both sets of grandparents’ homes so crumbles were a staple on the menu wherever we were.  Through apple season my darling granny could usually be found with a box of apples beside her, peeling, coring, chopping away into a colander, and I was never too far away stealing little apple slices (despite her warnings that they were tart ‘cookers’).

Along with chocolate cake, crumble was one of the first things I learned to make.  We had a regular Sunday routine of rolling (starving) home from church to a chicken roasting in the oven, then Mummy making gravy and cooking veggies, and me rubbing butter into flour for crumble.  Well with an overabundance of persimmons and pears on my counter top from the veg box, and a family dinner planned this weekend, I thought crumble would be the perfect way to use them up. So here’s what I threw together!

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For the fruit layer:

5 Fuyu Persimmons, sliced

5 ripe pears, sliced

3 tbsp almond meal

1 shot of ameretto (optional but recommended!)

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup maple syrup

Mix together all of the above and spread into a 10″ skillet or equivalent pan.

For the crumble topping: 

1.5 cups almond meal

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

10 big juicy (or soaked) dates

Pinch good salt

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 cups oats (gluten free if you need)

Pulse everything but the oats together until combined then add in half the oats continuing to pulse until they are evenly distributed through but not completely ground down.  Then add in the second half and just pulse a few times. You want some almost whole oats left in there.  Then get your hands in and spread it over the fruit layer.  You can refrigerate it at this point if you want to cook it later in the day or cook it right away.  Either way, reheat the oven to 350F and bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbling and browning on top.

Note: You could use apples instead or pears and persimmons.  Sub out the pumpkin pie spice for ground ginger for a fun twist.  For the paleo version, lost eh oats and add in an extra cup of nut meal and a cup of slices almonds at the end!

We ate ours with homemake maple cinnamon ice cream, I’ll get the that recipe shortly! (In short though, if you know the method… one can coconut cream, half cup almond milk, 4 egg yolks, one good tsp cinnamon, half cup maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla)

Happy crumble eating!

 

Sweet Potato Soup with Pomegranate Seeds

Sweet Potato Soup Autumn taunted us for a few days last week with lower temperatures and I was instantly ready to dig out the pumpkin pie spice, start Christmas shopping and curl up by the fire.  Alas, it then withdrew and we’re back up at 100F outside with iced coffees in hand. Autumn, we’ll see you soon (please).  So given the heat I really didn’t set out to make soup but as happens more and more now I get a weekly produce box, the ingredients in the fridge spoke to me.

A sweet lady at work asked me if I wanted a huge box of pomegranates from her tree.  Well, who would say no to that?! So I said yes and they sat on my coffee table for a week looking at me. Later that day the veg box arrived and it was full of the largest sweet potatoes I’ve ever seen.  Fall root veggies always say soup to me but a bowl of soup wouldn’t be the first place I’d think to use pomegranate seeds. With a whole box to use though, I’ve already done everything I know and I needed something new.  The sweet crunchy seeds are actually the perfect addition to the warm, creamy soup!!  They add a fun burst of tart, freshness in the middle of the soup – I was surprised at how good it was!  To me even the best soup can get a little boring if it’s lots of mouthfuls of exactly the same taste so this is the perfect remedy.

A little tip: To adorn the coffee table whole intact pomegranates are going to be best, but for eating you actually want the less attractive already splitting open ones.  Those are the ones that are ripe and sweet and perfect! So don’t judge the book by it’s cover on this one, pick the ugly duckling!

Recipe:

Makes 2 large servings or 3 small ones!

1 medium sweet potato
3 carrots
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup good stock
1/2-1 cup fresh cashew coconut milk (or any nut milk but that’s my favourite home made one!)
A good dose of salt and pepper
A pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds to top

Chop the sweet potato and carrots into chunks and steam them until they’re soft when you prod them with a fork. At the same time, sauté the onion over a medium heat in a little coconut oil until it’s translucent and softened.  Let them cool and throw them in a good blender with the veggies, stock, 1/2 cup milk and a pinch of cinnamon, salt and pepper. Blend it all up until its completely smooth and then taste test.  If you want it thinner more milk 1/4 cup at a time, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a container to store/freeze or back into a pan to warm if you’re going to eat it right away. I split it and did both.   Then top your yummy bowl with a good handful of juicy pomegranate seeds and dive in!

A little tip: I actually ate mine cold for lunch the next day with more seeds and it made a delicious chilled soup so that’s what I’ll be doing until it cools down!!

Fresh Asian Pear Vinaigrette

Pear and Walnut Salad
I love putting a huge salad on the table with a loaf of bread and some other goodies and then tucking in with people I love followed by a french press of delicious coffee and something chocolatey. (Read ‘…and Port’ if it’s dinner.)
Personally I’m not a huge salad dressing person, mainly because the ingredients often make me nervous and I’ve always avoided it.  So I’ve been experimenting recently with making clean ones.  Last week I tried a raspberry vinaigrette to go on a strawberry and toasted pecan salad. It was a hit (I found myself eating the dressing on a spoon, don’t tell anyone) so I’m delving in again this week with a fresh pear vinaigrette on a walnut, arugula and apple salad. Thanks to my veg box for providing the pear inspiration. Enjoy!
Pear vinaigrette

To feed four people alongside a loaf of crusty fresh bread:

1 6 oz bag of spinach
1/2 6oz bag of rocket/arugula
4oz goat cheese
1-2 apples finely sliced and tossed in lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped and toasted walnuts
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 portion of fresh pear vinaigrette (below)
For the vinaigrette:
1 medium asian pear, cored and chopped
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp raw honey


Throw the pear in a good blender with the vinegars, lemon juice, salt, pepper and honey. Blend it really well until it’s completely smooth and combined and then with the blender running slowly drizzle in the oils and continue blending for a further minute.  Pour it in to a glass container and refrigerate.
Note: The coconut oil is a personal preference as I’m not a huge fan of the taste of olive.  You could equally use all olive oil or a walnut oil would be a great addition. The coconut oil sets it a little but if it’s well blended it’s ok, just take it out 10 minutes before eating and give it a good shake.
Toss all the leaves into a large bowl, crumble the goat cheese on top with the apple and walnuts.  I like to slice the apple thinly so you don’t get big chunks but just little bits of crisp juicy fruit in the leaves.  Squeeze half a lemon over the slices before adding them to the salad so they don’t brown.  Toasting nuts really brings out the flavour so for a salad I always like to toast them.  Gently heat the walnuts in a little skillet for 5-10 minutes shaking regularly so they don’t burn., they’ll taste twice as good afterwards! Then allow them to cool and sprinkle them on the salad.  Just before serving it drizzle as much of the dressing over as you’d like.  I like to put about a third of that amount on and then put the jar on the table for people who like more. Now tuck in and enjoy!
Pear and Walnut salad

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Raspberry Vinaigrette

 

Tonight we took a salad to a dinner party to accompany steaks.  Usually Jared is not hugely opinionated on what we take, when I ask he’ll give me a look that says, ‘You know that’s your thing and I don’t mind’.  But I still ask him anyway, just for fun.  This time he surprised me and straight away said, ‘Yes, a salad with strawberries, pecans, cheese…’ So that’s what we did.

On my own I’m not a huge salad dressing person, I never have been but when I need them for Jared or to take on something like this, I don’t like the ingredients in a store bought ones so I want to get better at making my own with good, clean, ingredients.  There’s only one vinaigrette that this salad wants and it’s a raspberry vinaigrette.

Here’s what I used:

1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

A pinch of salt and pepper

A 6oz punnet of raspberries

6 tbsp coconut oil (you could use olive oil or another good oil but I’m not a huge fan of the taste and coconut oil was what we had today)

Have all the ingredients at room temp (especially if you’re using frozen raspberries).  Place everything except the oil in a blender and whizz until it’s completely blended then slowly add in the oil. Done!

For the rest of the salad and to feed 8 with steaks I used about 10 cups spinach, 1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced, 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup pecans which I lightly toasted with salt and black pepper, and 1/3 cup goat’s cheese. Toss it all together and mix on half of that vinaigrette.  Put the rest in the fridge for next time and put the steaks on the grill :)
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Kale salad with tahini lemon dressing

Kale salad
This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of my favourite salads in the world. So when kale and asian pears arrived in my produce box this week I knew exactly where they were going. In my opinion every salad should have something crunchy, something sweet, something tangy, and then be hearty enough to actually fill you up, and this one has it all.  Wholefoods often has a similar one in their heavenly salad bar and I always pile it into my brown takeout box whenever I see it in the line up, so this is my twist.

It’s also just about the only way I’ll eat kale raw, so if kale scares you, I dare you to still give this one a try!

Kale salad

To serve 2 as a main or 3-4 as a side you’ll need:

1 bunch kale (about 8-10 stalks)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins

1 apple or pear

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

1/4 cup tahini

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Start by tossing the pine nuts in a small skillet over a low heat and toasting them for 5 minutes or until you can see them gently browning – you don’t want them to go black. Shake the pan regularly to move them around.

Take the kale and tear the leaves off the hard stems, discard the stems and put the leaves in a bowl.  Now (don’t laugh at me…) you’re going to massage the kale.  It might sound strange but it really does help to break it down and make it more palatable, give it a go for a few minutes until you feel a difference.

Now, in a bowl mix all of the dressing ingredients together thoroughly with a fork.  You really want the dressing to coat the kale so and pour it on mix until its really well and evenly combined.  Slice the pear and add that to the salad with the raisins and the toasted pine nuts, give it a gentle toss and you’re ready to go!

Kale salad