Category Archives: Recipes

pearl grace life tomato and goats cheese tart

Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart

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Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart

pearl grace life tomato and goats cheese tart

If you’re looking for a dish to impress but actually is super easy to prepare then my tomato and goats cheese tart will be right up your street.

I always make sure I have a roll of puff pastry in the deep freeze that I can pull out the night before and all the other ingredients are easy to grab from your local supermarket or green grocers.

Ingredients:

320g Puff pastry sheet (this is the one I use)
125g Spreadable goats cheese
425g Ripe vine tomatoes
1 tsp Dried mixed herbs
Crush of salt and black pepper (if desired)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
A drizzle of olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven 180 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes and leave to one side.
  3. Pour the goats cheese into a bowl and stir to soften slightly. Add the dried herbs and stir some more.
  4. Grab a flat baking tray and roll the pastry out onto the tray. Using a sharp knife lightly trace a 1cm width border around the edge of the pastry. (This will create a puffy edge after cooking)
  5. Pour the goats cheese onto the pastry and using the back of a spoon gently spread the cheese to the edge of the knifed border, creating a thin layer of cheese.
  6. Then assemble the slices of the tomatoes on top of the goats cheese. Add some salt and black pepper, fresh thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Pop in the oven for 40-45 mins.
  8. Enjoy either hot or cold with a side salad and some new potatoes – dee-lish

pearl grace life tomato and goats cheese tartSwitch it up!

You could modify the toppings to include a variety of roasted vegetables like courgettes and sweet peppers.

A while ago I made it with some thin slices of peppered salami nestled between the tomatoes, and it was delicious. The edges of the meat got ever-so-slightly charred and crispy, which was very nice.

If goats cheese ain’t your thing then you could always use Philadelphia spread instead and achieve equally tasty results.

I hope you like it.

Lov Nat x

Choose to use organic and local produce when possible :)

Pearl Grace Life, Salad

Zesty Salad

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Nat’s Zesty Salad

Pearl Grace Life, saladI know, it’s January and it’s cold outside and the last thing you probably fancy eating is a salad.

But January also provides us with a great opportunity to start the year off right in terms of leading a more healthy and balanced lifestyle.

When it comes to what I eat, I don’t really pay attention to what the weather is like. It could be chucking it down with rain and I’ll rustle up a salad or a bowl of summer berries or it could be hottest day in summer and I’ll choose to make a soup or a fish pie.

It doesn’t really matter in our house and although I try to eat consciously and choose ingredients that are local and as seasonal as much as possible, I often cook and eat dependant on how I feel and dependant on what my body needs most at that time.

Now after an over-indulgent holiday season I know that what my body needs right now are clean ingredients, lots of water and green juices to flush my system out and eliminate as  many toxins and nasty stuff as possible.

So, although a salad may not get you buzzing right now, believe me when I say, after you wolf down a bowl of this goodness your cells will be buzzing with glee and you’ll feel amazing.

If you’re like me and the mundane and repetitive task of washing and chopping veggies is relaxing and therapeutic then great.

However if setting aside 20 minutes to make this bad-boy-bowl-of-colours fills you with dread and a sense of boredom then whack on your favourite tunes and chop away to the music and the time will fly…

like this sweet little number:

Tweet it out peeps: “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients” – Julia Child via @PearlGraceLife

And the great part of tucking into a cold salad is that all the ingredients by their very nature are raw, which is great for you and the planet.

Eating raw and fresh ingredients ensures that your body gets the optimum level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients so you can function to the max.

Now, guys, at the risk of stating the obvious, its a salad so you can jazz it up or tone it down with whatever ingredients you fancy. My zesty salad just gives you an idea of how creative you can be.

There’s just one little tip that I’d like to share when it comes to making a brilliant salad and that is to find a balance.

You’ll see from the list of ingredients that I love to partner up soft textures with a little bit of crunch, and some sweetness with a dash of sour and as many gorgeous colours that I can find in my fridge.

So, beautiful people, here it is: Nat’s zesty salad:

Pearl Grace Life, SaladIngredients and Method:

Grab a large bowl and begin:
2 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves (a selection of baby spinach, red lettuce and lambs lettuce is what I had in my fridge today) You could add some romaine lettuce as well for extra crunch.
1 small handful of chopped parsley
1 small handful of chopped mint
1/2 a cucumber
8 cherry tomatoes
8 radishes
1 yellow pepper
1 avocado
1 red chilli (optional and deseed if desired)
Seeds of 1 small pomegranate
2 kiwis
A handful of dried cranberries
Sprinkle of mixed seeds
Juice of half a lime
A drizzle of oil (extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil are two my favourites on salads)

Grab yourself a large fork and tuck in or if you’re feeling generous, share with friends or family and enjoy as a side dish.

Switch it up!

You could add as many ingredients as you like. Olives, peppery rocket leaves and some salad cress work nicely.

For additional healthy fats scatter over some walnuts and crushed pistachios.

I like to keep my salads as “free from________(fill in the blank)” as much as possible.

But you could up the ante and make this less vegan and more vegetarian by adding a boiled egg or crumbles of feta cheese or stilton for additional natural saltiness.

And for the carnivores out there, cooked prawns, sliced chicken or turkey could work too. In fact this salad could go with just about anything, that’s why it’s so awesome.

You could use it as a filling in a wrap or as part of a quesadilla. I sometimes pour spoonfuls of it on top of slices of crusty bread like a soda crumb, spelt or rye variety. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top of each little portion to enhance the flavours even more.

I hope Nat’s zesty salad hits all the right notes for you.

To good health,

Nat x

Try Nat’s zesty salad with my baked mushrooms with cumin and paprika

Images courtesy of NatMillie

Pearl Grace Life: baked mushroom dishes

Baked Mushrooms

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Baked Mushrooms

Pearl Grace Life: mushrooms and a walnut saladI love food that is simple and delicious and my baked mushrooms tick both boxes in less than 20 mins.

Not only are mushrooms incredibly good for you.

After all, they’re packed with tons of nutrients such as iron, minerals and vitamins B & D. But they are also known to strengthen your immune system, improve bladder function and metabolise fats and proteins in the body.

In fact mushrooms are a fantastic alternative to meat for those of you looking to integrate more veggies in to your food plan in an easy and in and affordable way.

You can make some wonderful meals using mushrooms, from warm and comforting soups and risottos to light bites like ‘shrooms on toast and mushroom pâté.

I have to admit that mushrooms have become a fridge food essential in our house for the past few weeks and at the moment this recipe is one of my favourite things to whip up when my belly is rumbling and time is short.

For this recipe I use chestnut mushrooms because of their meaty texture and because they hold their shape so well after cooking.
Pearl Grace Life: mushroom dishes

My oven baked mushrooms however make a fabulous dish on their own with a side bowl of hummus for some dunkage action.

But it’s also very versatile dish because you could choose to serve it as a side dish with some protein, or mixed in with rice or tossed in a salad or on a bed of steamed green veg.

The ideas are endless and it’s entirely up to you!

I love to eat them with roasted sweet red peppers or wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves with avocado for a snack or a light lunch.

Pearl Grace Life: baked mushroom dishesAs a more substantial meal or for dinner, I like to serve them on a bed of curly kale and sweet potato. Mmm.

I have to confess, I make this meal at least twice a week because they are a massive hit in our house.

It couldn’t be easier to rustle up so here goes:

Ingredients:

250g Organic chestnut Mushrooms (or white button mushrooms work well too). I keep them whole but you can cut them if you like.  Hey, if you can dispense with using extra utensils the why bother!)
Olive oil (regular olive oil works perfectly well… save your precious extra virgin stuff for something else!)
Black pepper (and salt if desired)
1 tsp cumin (roughly – add to taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika (roughly – add to taste)
1 tsp mixed herbs (or herbs de provence)
1 tsp chilli flakes (roughly – add to taste)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Wash or wipe mushrooms to remove dirt. Pour into a non-stick baking tray.

2. Pour on the olive oil, pepper, herbs and spices. Using a spatula or wooden spoon toss the Pearl Grace Life: mushroom dishesmushrooms so they are evenly coated and spaced out.

3. Put the mushrooms in the oven on the top shelf for 15-20 mins, taking them out for a quick stir and toss at the half way point.

4. Take them out when soft and roasted but still firm to the touch. Grab a fork and tuck in, baby.

Switch it up!

I love using chestnut or button mushroom for this recipe because of their meaty texture but feel free to experiment with other mushrooms.

Also my choice of seasonings are simply what I like to use but you could throw on ground coriander or use chilli powder instead of chilli flakes for a more intense heat.

Or if you wish, you could strip it back to just some light herbs if you’re feeding little mouths or people with milder palettes.

Pearl Grace Life: mushroom dishesMy measurements are approximates so add the amounts that work for you.

For example, increase the amount of mushrooms according to the number of mouths you’re feeding.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce.

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie

Pearl Grace Life, wild rice and chilli prawns

Wild rice with chilli prawns

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Wild rice with chilli prawns

Pearl Grace Life, wild rice with chilli prawnsIngredients:

Half a cup of wild rice
A can of black beans (230g drained)
1 tbsp spoonful of coconut milk
150g of king prawns (I use raw organic prawns but you could use the ones that are already cooked and warm them through)
1 tbsp of olive oil
Dried chilli flakes
Black pepper (and salt if desired)
A squeeze of lemon

I love this dish so much so that every mouthful makes me very Happy… “Like a room without a roof”.  Take it away, Pharrell, baby…

Method:
1. Cook the wild rice. I use half a cup of rice and a full cup of boiled water (use the same cup to measure) Pour both into a saucepan.

2. Drain the can of black beans, rinse and add to the saucepan with the rice.

3. Place the saucepan on a high heat till the water begins to boil. Then turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. Cook for approximately 25-30 mins or until the rice is cooked. (check while it cooks and add a little water if the rice and beans look dry)

4. When the rice and beans have cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the spoonful of coconut milk.

5. Then heat the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the prawns. If you’re using raw prawns then cook till they turn coral pink. If you’re using cooked prawns then cook till they’re piping hot.

6. Season the prawns with the chilli, black pepper and salt as desired.

7. Add as much rice and beans as you crave into the wok and stir together for a minute so that all the flavours and juices infuse.

8. Turn off the heat and serve immediately with your favourite pair of chopsticks. Drizzle a squeeze of lemon juice over the prawns and enjoy!

Switch it up!

The carnivores amongst us could swap the prawns for slices of chicken or beef and to the lovely vegan and veggies out there you could toss in some tofu instead or some stir fry peppers and mushrooms.

You could also choose to use noodles instead of rice or a different type of rice if wild rice ain’t your thing.

It’s a very forgiving recipe – like most of what I make – so switch it up to suit your taste.

Give it a try and share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions below.

So, curious why I love wild rice so much? Check this out

Love Nat x

 

Images courtesy of Nat Millie 

Pearl Grace Life Benefits of eating Wild Rice

Wild Rice

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The benefits of wild rice

Pearl Grace Life The benefits of eating wild riceI love rice. As the kid of parents that hailed from the Caribbean it will come as no surprise when I say rice was often the backbone of the meals served up at home when I was younger.

Over the years I’ve experimented with different types of rice from brown to white and long grain to short grain.

Japanese Jasmine rice played a prominent role in our kitchen for a while till I discovered wild rice.

And when I began to realise I was hooked on this nutty stuff I thought it would be a good idea to find out if it was in fact good for me.

Not only was I thrilled to learn that it was but I was even more amazed to discover that they boasted some incredible health benefits as well.

So here goes, for your culinary pleasure, here are 10 Wonderful health benefits to eating Wild Rice

1. It’s gluten free.

2. Is sodium free: great news for your heart and for your blood pressure.

3. It has a warm nutty flavour which is very unique and makes it a tasty dish in it’s own right.

4. It contains twice as much protein as brown rice.

5. It’s a healthy option for diabetics because it’s not polished or refined like other types of rice.

6. It’s very rich in antioxidants—containing up to 30 times more antioxidants than it’s white counterpart! Which means regular consumption of wild rice protects you from disease and ageing.

7. Is high in fibre. This means wild rice keeps your digestion smooth and helps lower cholesterol.

8. Wild rice is a good source of essential minerals such as phosphorus, zinc and folate, which give you energy and nurtures your bones.

9. It’s a natural source of vitamins A, C and E, which are essential for overall health and strengthening your immune system.

10. And for the weight watchers out there, a serving of wild rice is lower in calories than other rice varieties. So, you can enjoy it to your hearts content without worrying about your waistline.

So, go grab yourself a bag of this awesome stuff and get cooking, baby.

Not sure what to cook first… Why not try my Garlic Chilli Prawns with wild rice and black beans.  It’s dee-lish!

If you have a tasty recipe containing wild rice that you’d like to share with the world then please post it in the comments below.

As always, you’re a star for reading,

Lots of love,
Nat x

Title image courtesy of ww.itimes.com and content image by www.kitchendaily.com

Pearl Grace Life, 10 benefits to eating chia seeds

Chia Seeds

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Chia Seeds – 10 Incredible Benefits

Pearl Grace Life, 10 benefits to eating chia seedsAfter recently discovering these incredible seeds and learning of their health benefits I’ve become hooked and have been looking for ways to integrate them in my diet as much as possible. I use them in smoothies and tossed over salads whenever possible.

Here are 10 incredible reasons to eat chia seeds:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds’ lipid profile is composed of 60 percent omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids — specifically, of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. The omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol.

2. Fibre

Fiber is associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fibre, with a whopping 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons. That is one-third of the daily recommended intake of fibre per day.

3. Antioxidants

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. The high antioxidant profile also helps them have a long shelf life. They last almost two years without refrigeration.

4. Minerals

Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18 percent of the DRI for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent for magnesium and about 50 percent for manganese. These nutrients help you prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis.

5. Satiety

Pearl Grace Life, berry juice recipeSatiety is the feeling of being full and satisfied, which helps lower food cravings between meals. The combination of protein, fibre and the gelling action of chia seeds when mixed with liquids all contribute to their satiating effects.

(In my Berry Blast Juice I mentioned how I make my chia seed gel (aka soaked chia seeds) Here’s a vid showing you how – I do it just like this except I mix it into my own fresh juices. Plus a cup of chia seeds gel can last in the fridge for unto 5 days.)

6. Gluten-Free

Chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Therefore, all of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds can be obtained on a gluten-free diet.

7. Egg Substitute

The outer layer of chia seeds swells when mixed with liquids to form a gel. This can used in place of eggs to lower cholesterol and increase the nutrient content of foods and baked goods. To make the egg replacement, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes.

8. Can Be Digested Whole

Unlike flaxseeds, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and minerals, chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to obtain their nutrient or egg- replacement benefits.

9. Dyslipidemia

A study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” showed that chia seeds as a dietary fat source can lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol. The study also found that when substituting chia seeds for other fat sources, such as corn oil, the ALA was able to prevent high triglyceride levels and reduce central obesity.

10. Blood Sugar Regulation

Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood.

So, guys, go grab yourself some chia seeds and enjoy!

Love ya x

 

Title image courtesy of crispfood.com and content image by authoritynutrition.com and Nat Millie

Pearl Grace Life, berry juice recipe

Berry Blast Juice

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Berry Blast Juice – a rockin’ way to start your day!

Pearl Grace Life Berry Blast JuiceAs you guys know, I love my berries (Cue clip from Ice Age), so it will come as no surprise that I often start my day with a delight deluge of some sweet zesty fruity jewels.

My Berry Blast Juice is truly an awesome way to get your body fired up first thing in the morning.

Naturally it’s packed with an abundance of fructose but I love to throw in some seeds (sunflower, pumpkin and chia) and smoothie-fy it with some coconut milk yoghurt.

Over to you Lil’ Richard… 

Right, here’s how I make it…

Ingredients:
2 heaped handfuls of blueberries
2 heaped handfuls of blackberries
2 heaped handfuls of raspberries
2 heaped handfuls of strawberries
2 heaped handfuls/ a large bunch of seedless grapes
2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp of sunflower seeds
3 tbsp of coconut milk yoghurt
3 tbsp of soaked chia seeds (check out my post on chia seeds to see what I mean by ‘soaked’)
A dash of water

Bits you’ll need:
A colander or a large deep bowl
A nuitibullet, blender or juicer

Method:
1. Wash all the fruit thoroughly under cold water and put in a colander or large bowl. Remove green tops of the strawberries and cut into smallish chunks if they’re quite large.

2. Spoon half the fruit in the nutribullet (or your preferred appliance). Add a dash of water and the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Blitz for a few secs to a juice-like consistency.

3. Add the rest of the fruit, yoghurt and chia seeds. Blitz one last time till smoothie-like.

4. Pour and enjoy!

Switch it up!

I don’t tend to eat much dairy which is why I opt for the coconut milk yoghurt however a greek style yoghurt will generate the same results so use whatever you prefer.

Check out the chia post HERE.

Till next time, my pretties x

Images courtesy of Nat Millie

Pearl Grace Life, Super green salad

Super Green Salad

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Super Green Salad

Pearl Grace Life, Super green saladIf you’re looking for a salad that’s brimming with green goodness then look no further than this super green salad.

I often make a big bowl of it for lunch and snack on it throughout the day.

It works perfectly as a side dish to meat or fish but is equally satisfying on it’s own.

I think the most essential part of a great salad is it’s freshness. Try to use fresh produce and prepare it just before serving. There’s nothing more depressing than a limp lettuce leaf!

Having said that if you hold off adding the dressing and avocados till just before you’re about to tuck into it then the salad will keep well in the fridge for a few hours.

This super green salad is light but packed with nutrients that your body simply can’t get enough of.

And because it’s a salad you can literally eat as much of it as you want – none of that calorie counting malarky! Look out for my post on the benefits of eating leafy greens coming soon.

As with all my recipes you can jazz it up as you see fit (cue vid). You can use this recipe as a starting point and have some terrific green endorsing fun by experimenting with different ingredients.

My measurements are approximates and makes enough for 4 greedy souls. Tweak the quantities to suit your needs.

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of baby kale
2 handfuls of baby spinach
2 handfuls of rocket leaves
2 handfuls of baby green leaves
2 handfuls of baby chard leaves
1 romaine lettuce or cos lettuce, roughly chopped
Half a cucumber, cut into quarters
3 salad onions, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped in small chunks
2/3 tbsp of pitted green olives (optional), chop if using large ones
1 handful of pumpkin seeds

Dressing:
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Green basil pesto (homemade would be divine but the shop bought variety works fine too)
1 small handful of Parsley, finely chopped and sprinkled on top (optional)

Method:

  1. Throw the kale, spinach, lettuce, rocket, baby greens and baby chard leaves in a large bowl.
  2. Toss in the cucumber, onions and green pepper.
  3. Add the avocado, olives and pumpkin seeds.
  4. Just before serving, add the olive oil, parsley and basil pesto. Add as much as desired

Switch it up!
Try mixing in some warm wild rice for a different texture and a beautiful nutty flavour. Plus it’s loaded with incredible goodness that you’re body will love. I’ll do a feature on wild rice in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

If you’re looking to boost your green intake then add some broccoli and cabbage to it. I normally steam them for about 10 minutes so they still retain there crunch.  Pure gold.

If you find it hard to find the leaves I mentioned above sold individually then you can grab a mixed bag of salad leaves from your supermarket. Most are already washed so you can just throw it in a bowl with minimal fuss.

Go green, baby! x

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie.

Pearl Grace Life recipe: Fruit bowl

Fruit bowl

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Fruit bowl with coconut yoghurt, seeds and berry compote

Pearl Grace Life recipe: fruit bowlThis is my absolute favourite way to start the day. (Well, straight after my hot water with honey and lemon).

My fruit bowl with coconut yoghurt, seeds and berry compote is brimming with vitamins, minerals and bags of goodness. And it’s pretty darn yummy too!

In fact it’s a bowl of everything you need to ensure you start your day off in the right way.

It’s super quick – literally only requires the act of  pouring and devouring – so it’s a fabulous choice if you’re short on time.

I’ve stated a handful of everything but you can add as much or as little as you wish.

Ingredients:
1 handful of blueberries
1 handful of raspberries
1 handful of grapes (green, red or black. I eat mostly black for their amazing health benefits)
1 handful of pumpkin seeds
1 handful of sunflower seeds
3 tbsp of coconut milk yoghurt (this is the one I eat)
2 tbsp of Nat’s berry compote (optional) Look out for the post on how to make this coming soon)

Method:
Ok, seriously, this couldn’t get any easier…

1. Throw all the fruit in your favourite cereal bowl.
2. Pour on the coconut milk yogurt.
3. Scatter over the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
4. Drizzle on the berry compote.
5. Mix together gently and enjoy every mouthful.

Switch it up!

One of the great things about fruit bowls is that you can include whatever fruits you like. I know I’m stating the obvious but it’s true. Bananas and apples work well too and offer their own additional health benefits.

Or you could top your bowl off with some dried cranberries and raisins or include cubed pieces of melon and pineapple. They all taste delicious and work really well.

And of course if you wanted to use fresh natural yoghurt or Greek style yoghurt instead of coconut milk yoghurt then that would work perfectly fine too.

Another idea that you might want to try is adding oats or flakes of almonds. And a handful of your favourite cereal for extra crunch can be equally satisfying too. Drew loves to add a handful of this to his bowl and it tastes especially scrumptious.

Experiment and have fun.

My only suggestion would be to make it as colourful and as texture-filled as possible. Make it a real breakfast treat.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce and wash the fruit thoroughly.

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie.

Pearl Grace Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

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Warm Root Vegetable Soup

One of the things that I love most about this dish – aside from the fact that its incredibly delicious of course – is how easy it is to make and how much it makes from just a few ingredients.

It can generously serve up to 6 people and because its so simple to whip up its a great treat after a family walk or on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The only elbow grease you’ll have to expend is in the chopping. But chop away to a little bit of this and the time will fly! (Even with curlers in his hair this man is still my guilty pleasure!)

This warm root vegetable soup is packed with flavour and goodness – you’ll definitely be on track to reaching your 5-a-day quota!

Ingredients:
2 knobs of butter (I use Rachel’s Unsalted Organic)
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
3 parsnips (s) or 2 large ones, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
1 swede, finely chopped
1/2 a medium butternut squash, finely chopped
1 large sweet potato, finely chopped
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 1/2 litres of veg stock (I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillom Powder. 4 tsp per litre)

Method:
1. Heat up a large pot or a casserole pot on medium. Sweat the celery for a couple of mins

2. Toss in the carrots and cook for 5 mins stirring frequently to prevent sticking

3. Throw in the rest of the veg.

4. Add the thyme leaves. Stir for a couple mins to prevent sticking at the bottom.

5. Add half the stock. Increase the heat to bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cover with a lid.

6. Leave for 30 mins or until the vegetables are soft. Stir 2 or 3 times during this time.

7. Ladle in spoonfuls of the soup into a food processor/ blender. Add some of the remaining stock to create a smooth soup-like consistency. Repeat until all the veg has been whizzed.

8. Transfer soup back to the pot on a medium heat. Add any remaining stock to reach the consistency you desire. Add any additional seasoning to taste.

Dish up and enjoy with a crusty grainy slice of bread.

Tip!
Freeze any left overs. It lasts up to a month. And is a quick tasty meal option on a busy day. This dish is so versatile – you can literally throw in any left over bits of veg that you may have in your fridge to create your own variation. It can work as a starter or as a main course.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce

Title image courtesy of Nat Millie.

pasta bake title pic

Cheesy pasta bake

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Triple Cheesy Pasta Bake

pasta bake content picOk. This is a creamy and naughty cheesy delight.

I wouldn’t recommend having this too often if keeping your waistline in check is a top priority.

But if you’re looking for some comfort food that’s quick and easy to prepare then this triple cheesy pasta bake is a must try.

It’s super simple and takes less than 25 mins to rustle up. And what’s more you could prepare it in advance. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and then throw it in the oven when you’re ready to devour it – a great time saving dish! (Allow a little more time if cooking from chilled).

You can use different pastas and cheese too if you like. See some suggestions below.

Ingredients:
Penne Pasta (enough for the number of people eating)
Olive oil
2 tsp of green pesto
3-4 chopped chestnut mushrooms
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 handful grated cheddar
1/2 a ball of mozzarella cut or torn into dice size chunks
1 handful of grated parmesan
Black pepper and salt (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg. Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water with a teaspoon of olive oil and salt if desired. Cook pasta till it’s al dente (firm to bite).

2. While the pasta boils heat a spoonful of olive oil in a pan and add the mushrooms. Stir often to prevent it from catching. Add the mixed herbs and stir. Turn off the heat when the mushrooms are soft.

3. When the pasta is cooked drain and return to the pan. Add the pesto (enough to coat the pasta evenly). Add the mushrooms, black pepper, (salt if desired) and the cheddar. Stir together.

4. Pour into an ovenproof dish. Top with the mozzarella and parmesan. And if you like pepper as much as I do then add another couple of crushes of it at this point.

5. Place in the oven for 10-15 mins till the top is brown and crispy and the cheese is melted and gooey.

6. Remove from the oven and serve with a side of your favourite green veg and a couple of slices of warm garlic bread.

Switch it up!

For the meat lovers out there you could add a breast of chicken for extra flavour. Cut it into bite size chunks, cook it separately and season it with fresh thyme and black pepper and salt. Then stir it into the pasta with the other ingredients.

Or try with pancetta or smokey bacon for a salty meaty kick.

If penne ain’t your thing then fusilli or rigatoni will work perfectly as alternatives. And you could try it with smoked gouda or goats cheese for other cheese ideas.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie.

chilli pearl grace life

Chilli

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Slow Baked Chilli

chilli PGLMy slow baked chilli is a great winter warmer and a fantastic dish for a casual night of entertaining with friends.

My slow oven baked chilli is packed with tons of veg and bags of flavour. Plus it’s a great way of ensuring you reach your quota of 5-a-day!

After a few minutes chopping, the rest of the cooking is simply spent throwing the ingredients in a pot, stirring and placing in the oven for a couple of hours.

Enough time to take the dog out for a walk, do a spot of cleaning, reply to emails or catch up on an episode of Game of Thrones.

You can adapt this super simple recipe to suit your own palette but here’s my take on the classic Chilli Con Carne.

Ingredients:
Oil (Hemp, Olive or your preferred cooking oil)
1 onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 carrots chopped
400g of lamb mince
3 red chillies – 1 chopped finely and 2 halved to add to the chilli before placing in the oven
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
5 large tomatoes par-boiled, peeled and chopped (if from a can, add a level teaspoon of sugar to balance out the flavour)
300ml of stock (1 tbsp of bouillon or stock cube)
1 courgette chopped
1 sweet pepper chopped (red, yellow or green)
6-8 chestnut mushrooms chopped
400g of kidney beans (if from a can, drain and rinse before adding)

Method:
1. Preheat oven 180 deg F. Heat a large pot (that’s oven proof) on medium with a tablespoon of oil.

2. Add the garlic and onion let them sweat a little. Add the carrots and stir till slightly soft.

3. Add the mince. Turn up the heat. Stir until the meat browns a little.

4. Add the chopped chilli and spices. Stir together.

5. Add the tomatoes and let it boil and bubble for a bit. Add the stock and stir.

6. Add the courgette, pepper and mushrooms. Mix together. Allow to bubble. Add the kidney beans and stir. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.

7. Cook in the oven for 1 hour. Take out stir and taste. Add the halves of chilli pieces if desired. Return to the oven uncovered for 1 hour stirring half way through or as often as required.

8. Allow to cool a little then dish up with your favourite rice, warm tortilla wraps and a dollop of fresh yoghurt or soured cream on the side.

Switch it up!

You could traditionally use beef mince instead of lamb – I just love the flavour that the lamb provides.

Alternatively you could skip the meat altogether and make this a vegetable dish adding extra peppers, a selection of different mushrooms, various beans, with butternut squash or sweet potato in replacement.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce

bruscetta

Bruschetta

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Bruschetta with a twist

bruscettaHere’s a special twist on the classic bruschetta.

In theory you could add your favourite toppings to satisfy your taste buds but this is one of my favourites.

Ingredients:

2 slices of spelt bread (or a crusty and seedy wholegrain option works beautifully too)

1 ripe avocado (diced or mashed – up to you)

2 large ripe vine tomatoes, chopped (or 4/5 small/cherry ones if desired)

A drizzle of Hemp oil (or Olive, Rapeseed or your whatever you like the taste of)

Crush of black pepper and Himalayan salt (or sea salt)

Scatter of chilli powder or flakes (optional)

Method:

1. Toast the bread

2. Top one slice with the avocado and the other one with the tomatoes

3. Season as desired and drizzle with your favourite oil.

Can be enjoyed at anytime of the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Switch it up!

For an alternative flavour, try a slice with a combination of pitted olives. It’s delicious.

Or add a healthy dollop of hummus on the toast before spooning on your topping. Nutritious and yummy.

Fresh herbs are also an option. Fresh thyme or basil work marry well with tomatoes.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce

juices

Recipes

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Recipes

That’s right you guessed it, here’s where we’ll be cooking up a storm.

Meals, snacks, treats and smoothies galore that have been cooked and whizzed up by yours truly (and sometimes Drew) will be flooding this page soon enough.

I’m a busy mum – like so many of you out there – so I get it, your time is very valuable.

And as much as I love cooking, and my new kitchen (just had it fitted!) there are also 101 other things that need to get done by bedtime.

So, my recipes will honour that.

I believe life is a delicate game of balance.

It’s no fun to just eat healthily if you don’t enjoy it. Just like it’s a bad idea to eat crap that rots your insides just because you like the taste. (Sounds a little dramatic, I know, but it’s kinda true)

Finding a happy medium is what it’s all about and that will be reflected in the meals I’ll be dishing up and sharing.

I personally like my meals brimming with flavour using the best ingredients I can find.

Wherever possible everything listed will be organic, fair trade and free of any nasty stuff. That’s how I roll.

For me simplicity is key – some of my favourite meals are, One Pot dishes – like my lamb tagine with butternut squash and apricots. Quick salads, like my tangy sardine, tomato, avocado and basil salad with lemon juice. And fresh juices like Drew ‘Green Monster’ packed full of green veg, berries, wheatgrass, macs. Short of putting hairs on your chest, that smoothie definitely fires you up and prepares you for the day.

Basically, you’ll find awesome ideas for you to rustle up at anytime of your day, for you, your family and for entertaining.

Easy, Tasty, and fun to make.

Stay tuned for up coming vids…