Early Fall Brekkie – Pumpkin Oats

I feel like i’m getting into the Autumn spirit slightly prematurely.DSC00943

I know i live in Scotland, and it gets cold here pretty fast, but ITS STILL AUGUST. Only just creeping into September. Surely i should be mourning the loss of Scottish strawberries, and catching the last of the summer sun rays whilst sipping iced lattes in my flipflops

Nah. I went and got pumpkin. 

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and the oats i made with it were hot, god damn it. Hot and perfect for a morning in November, not mid morning in August. But who cares, because this bowl of orange goodness was DELIGHTFUL.

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Recipe slightly adapted from a Pinch of Yum.

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 2 tbsp flaxseeds
  • 1 cup Almond Milk (I used homemade for this, but i also like Alpro)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon + ginger
  • Muscavado Sugar to taste

Combine oats, flaxseeds and almond milk in a saucepan and bring ton the boil.  Once thickened, add the spices and pumpkin and stir until heated. Pour into the bowl, and top with the muscavado sugar and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon if you like.

I like using muscavado because of its rich and molasses like taste – it pairs so well with the pumpkin, and just gets all melty and thick and syrupy…Mmmmmmm!

Yelp Event – Tasting at Hotel Chocolat

Last night, I think i reached my nirvana. Or as close to it as I could possibly be. Last night, a bunch of us Yelpers had a tasting event at Hotel Chocolat, a luxury chocolate story in Glasgow city centre.

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I’d been in the store a couple of times before and had a browse, but I had never had the privilege of sampling any of the chocolate they had to offer. Needless to say, I was FAR too excited. I had been promised copious amounts of chocolatey bites,and I was not disappointed. So glad i didn’t have dinner before i came. We were greeted with chocolate at the door! A sample of their enormous chocolate blocks that they had on display at their door. The Lemon meringue pie slab was smooth and creamy with a hint of lemon and pieces of biscuit throughout. However, the missisippi mud pie WAS RIDICULOUS. Chunky brownie pieces, smooth milk and white chocolate… I could have eaten the entire block without any problems at all.

DSC00954The blocks in all their glory.

DSC00956Sample anyone? Chunks of the Lemon Meringue…

DSC00959The Prosecco and OJ were also freely flowing. Of course.

We then got a chance to learn more about Hotel Chocolat. The business started as just a chocolate sampling service – sending samples out in the post to loyal chocolate club customers. From there, the business grew, although the chocolate sampling club is still very much a part of the experience. They not only have stores in the UK, but one in New York, Boston and Amsterdam, in addition to a Hotel, Restaurant and a Cacao plantation in St Lucia. I had no idea the business was so broad and international!

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We were taught about the chocolate making process itself, “from tree to tummy”, and guided through a wide tasting of some of their most popular chocolates and truffles. We were also taught how to properly taste a high quality chocolate. I was amazed and excited to learn just how similar coffee and chocolate were in terms of process, taste and experience – they both come from a similar bean that is coated in a thick white mucilage, both are subject to fermentation processes, both are dried, both can be either a single origin or a blend… Perhaps this similarity explains a lot about my enduring love for chocolate!

We were told to smell the chocolate, to experience the richness of the scent. We admired the sheen of the bar, as well as the smooth interior and satisfying “snap” the chocolate made. Last, but certainly not least, we appreciated the taste – Each chocolate was unique in its taste profile, and each had its own individual experience and depth of flavour. Tasting notes indicated that we experienced flavours such as caramel, oak, olive oil and red berries. So not unlike coffee then!

The single origin from St Lucia was definitely my favourite. It was a dark chocolate, but extremely creamy, sweet and caramelly, not unlike a milk variety. It just melted on the tounge…mmmm.

DSC00969Dark chocolate comparison… these two had an ENTIRELY different taste profile.

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We also got to experience some of Hotel Chocolat’s savoury treats – a white chocolate and horseradish sauce, a cacao pesto, a cocoa mayo… each one was unlike anything i’d tasted before, but were extremely delicious!DSC00965

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With the massive amount on sale, i obviously had to come home with something. A mini mud pie slab and a package of fizzy champagne truffles later, I was one happy customer. 

The event was hugely enjoyable, and thanks again to community manager Briony for organising it. I have a new appreciation for artisan chocolates, and I love how the taste experience can be so varied in nature. Just goes to show how much bland and sugary rubbish is actually on our shelves! If i want proper quality chocolate, Hotel Chocolat will probably be stop number one from now on…

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Rick Steins India + My attempt at authentic Indian Cooking!

One of my guilty pleasures is spending an entire day on the couch, slobbing out with my duvet and watching the Food Network. My obsession with all that decadent food knows no bounds.

Recently i branched out from the Food Network to the slightly less food focused BBC, due to a love for one TV show – Rick Steins India.

Never before have I felt a draw to India, but that programme changed it all – it gave me a real insight into Indias culture, its beauty from the far north to the very south, and the vibrancy of its food. The colours! the flavour! the spices! I was pretty much entranced, and now I would LOVE to go to India and eat my way through the country in the same way Rick has.

Unfortunately, my current budget won’t allow me a leisurely jaunt through India at the present moment. Luckily, a lot of the recipes Rick made on the show are available on the BBC’s website, and I had a crack at one of the more simple recipes – Whole Eggs in Coconut Masala

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Mmmmm, just look at it bubbling away. That beautiful bright colour came from the abundance of turmeric in the recipe – I love adding this spice to food, because it brings such a brightness and excitement to a dish. Who needs E numbers or “Yellow 6″ colouring? YAY TURMERIC.

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The result was one yummy, brightly coloured and deeply flavoured coconut mess on a plate. 0 for presentation, about a 20 for flavour. Despite the fact that i had to improvise my own Kashmiri Chilli powder with paprika, cayenne pepper and other assorted spices… So perhaps not as authentic as intended.

Still, when poured over some brown rice, and with the hard boiled eggs chopped in half so the perfectly cooked white insides can be admired, this was a fun and tasty dish I would happily make again when i want to evoke India on a budget!

If you’re interested in watching the Rick Steins India series, its currently available on DVD here, or you can purchase the book.

Quinoa Pizza Crust (GF and healthy!)

I think i speak for the entire British population when I say that NOBODY feels good after consuming a pizza from Dominoes.

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Especially the family sized, stuffed crust variations i tend to go for. May favourite pizza may be a veggie supreme – but it is STILL a pizza. WITH a cheesy stuffed crust. Which makes me feel sluggish and just generally meh. After bite 1, it just aint worth it.

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But i like the whole ritual of pizza, and eating a pizza is just so damn easy and customisable – its such a fun food. Why oh why can’t it be nutritious?

And so i’ve been playing with different ways to make pizza a more healthy and satisfying food. I have had pretty tasty results using baked Polenta as a crust, but it admittedly wasn’t as authentic. THIS however. This was a protein and veggie packed creation which kept me full without sending me into some form of Carb-icidal coma.

I took inspiration from this Roasted Corn and Pesto Quinoa Pizza recipe – the toppings i chose were also almost entirely true to recipe.  Although i did use a store bought pesto rather than making my own, because it was there. For even more health points, by all means get out your blender and go home made pesto mad. EIther option is pretty delicious.

Seconds after these photos were snapped, I sliced and consumed. Pretty much all of it. Alone. Welcome to an evening in my life.

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Recipe – Mexican Quinoa Lettuce Wraps.

I LOVE Mexican food. I think it’s the inherent spice in everything, or the prominence of tomatoes. Whatever it is, its gooood. But the mexican food options in Britain?…Meh. Bland, too much cheese/carb, and generally not a patch on the American offerings I have experienced. Plus, SO unhealthy, so not a regular indulgence.

But one evening, I had the urge. The urge to go all Mexican, but not kill myself with carbs. Enter – lettuce wraps!

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Serve the same function as stodgy tortillas by acting as a vessel for all those tasty fillings. But doesn’t put you in a sleepy coma afterwards! Yay!

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I filled mine with some tasty Paprika Veggie Quinoa, some avocado, caramelised onions, cilantro, and Spicy mexican salsa. This is my favourite – its chunky, flavourful, and SPICY.

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The whole process of these wraps is super easy, but they are fun to assemble. Step One – tear yourself off a piece of lettuce! This is your foodie canvas.

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Next up – QUINOA. Pile it on there.

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Then the rest of the toppings follow – dollop of avocado, a few sprigs of cilantro and the sweet, sweet onions.

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And the final touch – salsa! I am overly generous with my salsa. Which can sometimes make for an exceptionally messy wrap. But that is the fun of it!

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Ta da!

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Then all you have to do is wrap em up and munch! These are a super healthy way to get a spicy mexican inspired fix. Think I had these for dinner about 3 times in a row, They’re addictive, you have been warned!

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Mexican Quinoa Lettuce Wraps

  • 1/4 Cup Quinoa
  • Chopped veggies to taste – i used chopped red onion, peppers and shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Lime juice – about 1/2 a lime
  • One head of lettuce
  • 1/2 chopped avocado
  • handful shredded coriander
  • Mexican Salsa of choice.
  • Caramelized onions.
  1. If you haven’t already, caramelise your onions. Slowly cook them over low heat until they reach that lovely deep brown colour and sweet aroma.allow to cool.
  2. Cook the 1/4 cup quinoa to packet instructions.When cook, mix with the veggies, paprika, garlic powder , lime juice and ground coriander.
  3. Prep your other fillings – the chopped avocado, Coriander and anything else you want! Cheese would be good here.
  4. Assemble, wrap and nosh!

Home Made Almond Milk

Since living with my vegan flatmate, i’ve been trying lots of meat and dairy alternatives. Most have them have been so tasty that they’ve become a part of my daily life, and i often prefer them to the non vegan original.

One of these things is almond milk – SUPER tasty, and after drinking a big ass glass of it, I never feel as bloated or weighed down as i do with lactose based milk. I spend a small fortune on Alpro almond milk every week.

I’d heard about how easy it was to make your own almond milk, and i really wanted to give it a shot – especially because commercial almond milk has a bunch of funky additives in it which i’m sure serve a function. but they scare me.

Home made version = successful!

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The process was surprisingly easy. Step one is soak the almonds, either overnight or for 8 hours. I chose overnight. Then drain the almonds and put them in your food processor or blender.

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For every 1 cup of almonds, add 3 cups of water. Then – blend!

Wheeeee

Then you’re left with a big frothy, bitty mess.

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Strain this mess with a cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer, or a nut milk bag if you’re super prepared.

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and ta da! you’re left with almond milk! (and a whole bunch of almond pulp. This can be used for baking and other fun things…which i will post about later. i have MASSES of the stuff to use up).

You can sweeten the almond milk with dates, honey, vanilla, cinnamon or anything that takes your fancy. I leave mine unsweetened and just sweeten it by the glass if i choose to. But my favourite use for it so far is in Kori Kohi!

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Glasgow West End Festival

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This weekend presented Glasgow with some uncharacteristically good weather – which was perfect for the festivities which occurred on Sunday in celebration of the West End festival. Byres road was closed to cars, and instead served as a congregation point for tens of thousands of people who turned up to enjoy  the glorious weather and the entertainment on offer. I was one of those people!

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Along the street were various food trucks, and stalls selling locally created goods. My favorite contribution to this street scene was made by the local cafes – their regular services spilled out onto the sidewalk, providing a unique al fresco alternative. Everything on offer looked delicious!

 

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There was pretty much no way i was going to stroll past all of this temptation and not give in to some of it –i was in a bit of foodie heaven! My event sustenance was a flat white from Avenue G, and a slab of home made focaccia stuffed with hummus, harissa and roasted vegetables courtesy of Kember & Jones. Deeeeelish!

 

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A Mardi Gras parade followed all of this foodie goodness – unfortunately, i am not blessed in the height department, and so I couldn’t get any clear pictures of the parade. Booo. It was great though – a riot of colour and sound and, along with the rest of the days events, a great representation of the different cultures which comprises the city of Glasgow. Its events like this, showcasing the food, culture and energy of the city that reminds me why I choose to call this place home.

 

Happy weekend!

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

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I have an enduring addiction to peanut butter. or any form of nut butter. Seriously, that stuff is my life fuel.

So when i came across these little peanut butter bites over at Sprouted Kitchen, I was in the kitchen in about 5 nanoseconds. Sweetened with dates, these little bites are nutty, chewy and satisfying. I added Cacao nibs to mine, which makes them even more decadent. And healthy too!

These are a great pre-gym pick me up, or a snack with coffee. Or as an accompaniment to every meal, which is how i seem to be consuming them…

Link to the original recipe here. 

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