RASPBERRY AND MINT ICED TEA

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This iced tea is something different from the normal lemon or peach iced tea you get in the stores. I actually found this recipe in one of my favourite food magazines in the UK called Good To Know. This recipe was really easy and deliciously refreshing and fruity during the hot summer days we have been getting. It also uses some wonderful ingredients that are currently in season at the moment; Raspberry and Mint, I also used some Strawberries which are also in season, as I didn’t have enough raspberries to make this.

INGREDIENTS 

 

  • 500g (1lb) raspberries (I used 250g of Raspberries and 250g of Strawberries)
  • 75g (2½oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 sprigs of mint (about 12 mint leaves), chopped
  • Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tea bag (any black tea)
  • Half a lemon, sliced

METHOD

  1. Crush the raspberries, strawberries and granulated sugar in a large bowl, using a potato masher. Add the chopped mint and the bicarbonate of soda then set aside.
  2. Pour ½ litre (16fl oz) boiling water over the tea bag and leave for 4-5 mins. Remove the tea bag and discard it. Pour the hot tea over the crushed raspberries. Stir and leave to cool for 1 hour.
  3. Strain the mixture through muslin and into a sieve to make about 600ml (1 pint) of liquid then add 300ml (½ pint) cold water. Serve over ice and with lemon slices and a sprig of mint.
  4. I also added some large pieces of frozen berries instead of ice cubes.

SOURCE: Good To Know July 2014 Magazine

 

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SEASONAL FOOD IN JULY

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It’s almost July and that means new fruit and veg are coming in to season and sadly some are going out of season soon so we only have a short time to enjoy them. Below you will find a list of fruit and veg going out of season as well as those coming into season. Click here if you want to read my SEASONAL FOOD IN JUNE post to see what fruit and veg are still in season at the moment.

 

GOING OUT OF SEASON

  • ASPARAGUS –  These lovely green shoots come in to season from May to July. They come in a variety of colours; purple, white and green. Green Asparagus tends to be British and American, Purple is French and white is Spanish and Dutch. They are also full of nutritional goodness with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium. When trying to pick the perfect Asparagus look for the straight and firm shoots. When preparing this just wash them. TIP: The best way to store them is to wrap them in damp kitchen roll, place in a plastic bag and store in the salad drawer. SUGGESTION: Asparagus and cheese tart is a great option for a picnic (obviously if the British Summer weather permits).
  • CHERRY- These are only in Season for a very short amount of time; June till July, however they are at their peak Mid-July. Cherries come in hundreds of varieties and the ruby red flesh can be sweet or sour. Pale cherries are more sweet while the darker ones tend to be more acidic, the best cherries to buy are the ones with the stalks still attached and shiny. TIP: Keep unwashed cherries in the fridge for 3-4 days and wash just before serving, they also freeze really well. Sweet cherries are suitable for eating, while the more sour ones are best in pies, crumbles and sauces.  SUGGESTION: A Cherry cheesecake is the perfect balance between nice and creamy and tartness, this would be the perfect dessert for a summer dinner party. 
  • BLACKCURRANT – They are in season from June to August, however at their peak mid June to July. These little black jewels are the most vibrant coloured and flavoured of the currant family, blackcurrants are highly aromatic and have a delicious tart flavour. When buying blackcurrants look for the firm, shiny ones with no broken skins. TIP: If you are cooking blackcurrants to make in to a sauce try to not overcook them as this will make them lose their flavor. SUGGESTION: Blackcurrants are the perfect addition to a summer pudding or summer berry jam.
  • NEW POTATOES – See my SEASONAL FOOD IN JUNE post for info on this delicious versatile potato. 

IN SEASON

  • BLACKBERRY – These wonderful berries come in to season in July till Mid-October time, so there is a huge amount of time for us to enjoy their delicious goodness. Blackberries are very juicy and are best eaten raw, and even better they are full of vitamin C. They are a very delicate fruit therefore avoid washing them if possible, if you have to do it wash them just before using them and drain well. TIP: When storing Blackberries, place them on a layer of kitchen paper on a plate, this is so they don’t crush each other and store them in the fridge, take them out an hour before using them. SUGGESTION: Blackberry coulis or blackberry sauce would be perfect to make as an addition to pour over ice cream, an ideal way to spice up boring old vanilla ice cream. 
  • BASIL – This aromatic herb is mostly used in Mediterranean cuisine and is best eaten in July and August. Freshly cut basil should be kept in a damp kitchen towel, placed in a freezer bag, it will keep for up to 2 days. TIP: If you want to be more economical buy a basil plant and keep it on a sunny windowsill and then you will have near enough a constant supply (however if your like me and can’t look after plants just buy the prepacked basil leaves). SUGGESTION: I love to eat Basil in a salad with sliced mozzarella and tomato, drizzled with balsamic syrup, this is an ideal light summer salad for lunch or it’s used as the main ingredient in green pesto. 
  • BEETROOT – This root vegetable is at it’s prime from July to January. Beetroot has a wonderful rich, earthy and sweet flavour in addition to the vibrant purple colour (which also decides to stain everything it touches including your fingertips). The favourite way to eat beetroot in the UK is pickled. TIP: When deciding which is the best fresh beetroot to buy pick the ones with stalk and make sure they are not wilting, also the roots should be intact. SUGGESTION: Beetroot can be the surprise ingredient in a Chocolate and beetroot cake. Trust me I know it sounds weird but you can’t even taste it, it just adds moisture to the cake, a bit like carrots do in a carrot cake, however please whatever you do DON’T add the pickled stuff cause that won’t taste good. 
  • BROCCOLI – Available the end of July till the end of October, Broccoli is part of the cabbage and cauliflower family. Look for firm bright green and undamaged heads however if the head is already yellow this means it’s past its peak, also the stalks should be firm. TIP: Broccoli can deteriorate rapidly when exposed to air, supermarkets often wrap it in cellophane therefore always choose the unwrapped type if you can and if it still looks good this means that it has been recently picked. SUGGESTION: Broccoli would be a wonderful addition to a beef stir fry with an oyster sauce. 
  • PEACH – At it’s peak near the end of July till September, Peaches when ripe will have a fragrant aroma and will start to go yellow around the stem, when you squeeze them they should feel firm however still have some give. TIP: If you have to cut a peach and don’t plan on finishing it brush the sides with lemon juice to prevent it going brown. SUGGESTION; Peach cupcakes with peach cream cheese frosting is the perfect summer bake to use this delicious seasonal fruit. 

Come back the end of July for My Seasonal Food in August post.

SOURCE: BBC Good Food.

STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIES

It’s been a while since I wrote my review on the Breville Blend Active and in the post I stated that I would post my fave smoothie recipes of the moment and I haven’t really stuck to this. I am still loving the Blend Active and it’s became a big part of my daily routine and its for this reason I haven’t really posted any smoothie recipes, it’s become an automatic thing for me to head to my Blend Active and whip up a smoothie, it’s not until i’m sitting enjoying the fruity goodness that I think damn I should have posted this on my blog.

So I have not one but two smoothie recipes for you today and in each recipe the main ingredient is Strawberries.

 APPLE STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Apples
  • 2 large handfuls of Strawberries
  • 100ml of Apple Juice
  • 1 Pear
  • 1 teaspoon of Chia seeds

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METHOD

  1. Put the Chia seeds in a small glass and cover with water, leave to sit until the seeds and water combine together to form a jelly consistency.
  2. While the seeds are sitting roughly chop up your fruit and add them to your smoothie maker, along with the apple juice.
  3. Blend all the ingredients until smooth.
  4. Finally add the chia seeds and blend one more time.
  5. Pour in to a serving glass or leave in your smoothie cup and enjoy.

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STRAWBERRY GREEN SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Bananas
  • 2 Handfuls of Strawberries
  • 1 Handful of Spinach
  • 150ml of Coconut milk (not the thick stuff you get in a can)
  • 1 teaspoon of Chia Seeds

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METHOD

  1. Follow the same method as above.
  2. Please ignore the yucky green colour the smoothie has, it really does taste delicious and it’s so good for you, if it helps just close your eyes and drink.

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Hope you enjoy these smoothies and I promise I wont leave it so long next time. I am already in the process of thinking up some new smoothies for next weeks post.

AUBERGINE PIZZAS

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It’s time for another recipe from my ‘Whats in Season in June’ series, this time I have chosen Aubergine (or Eggplant depending on where your from). In my ‘Whats in Season’ post I said that I really don’t like Aubergine, however I decided to make something for my husband as a treat for working hard in our garden, so I made him Aubergine Pizzas.

They were so simple and my husband loved them, he whipped them straight out the oven when the timer went off and started to demolish them before I even managed to take a picture of them fresh from the oven, so I apologies if you were hoping to see a picture of them freshly baked. I had to quickly snatch some away so you could see what they looked like cooked.

I made some Bulgar wheat to eat as an accompaniment.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Aubergine, Sliced
  • 150g of Cheese
  • 300g Mince

SAUCE

  • 1/2 Onion
  • 4 Small Tomatoes
  • 400g Can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp of italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp of Paprika
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 50ml of Beef Stock (optional)

 

METHOD

1. Cut your Aubergine in to 1/2 inch thick circles, put the Aubergine pieces on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt. Let the Aubergine sit for 30mins. This helps to draw out extra moisture. 
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2.Pre-heat the oven to 190c. While the Aubergine sits make the sauce. 
3. Fry the onion in a little butter or oil until soft, then add the fresh tomatoes. I like to add fresh tomatoes to the sauce as it adds a more natural fresh taste. Once the onions and the tomatoes are cooked down add the mince and fry until it’s cooked.
4.When your mince is cooked sprinkle over the Italian seasoning and paprika and stir, when this is mixed in add the chopped tomatoes and stir. If you want more flavour add 50ml of beef stock. Cook this until the mixture thickens, it should take approx; 20-30mins depending on if you added stock or not.
5. When the mixture has thickened a little add the fresh parsley. Like the fresh tomatoes this brings the dish alive and gives it a lovely fresh natural taste.
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6.Just before the mixture has fully thickened, prepare your Aubergine by brushing some oil on top and sprinkle some extra Italian seasoning on the Aubergine. When the mixture has thickened, put some on top of each piece of Aubergine and top with cheese.
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7. Place the Aubergine in the oven and cook for 20-25mins.

You can make this vegetarian friendly by missing out the mince and replace the beef stock with vegetable stock.

MY FAVE FOOD ITEM OF THE MOMENT

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Summer is the season where everyone seems to go diet crazy in their efforts to get the perfect beach body. At the moment I have been trying healthy smoothies as a nice sweet treat instead of heading straight for the chocolate, sweets,  ice cream and all other things naughty but nice. In my search for smoothie recipes I kept coming across ones that included little black seeds called Chia Seeds. The popularity of this SUPERFOOD got me intrigued on what the fuss was about, so I done my research and I was shocked to discover how much goodness they contain, there is so many good nutrients in these little black seeds and they can have important health benefits for your brain and body.

If you are as intrigued as I was about this Superfood of goodness then look no further all the reasons why you should be including these black jewels in to your diet right now are below. If you want a summary for all the information on Chia Seeds and don’t want to read the nitty gritty info I have included a quick summary at the end.

 

 

FULL OF NUTRITIONAL GOODIES

  • Chia seeds are made up of dietary fibre, protein, healthy fats as well as healthy minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium.
  • They are really high in fibre, which means they are really good at keeping your digestive system in order, chia seeds are a soluble fibre which means it encourages a healthy digestive system by feeding the good microbes in your gut.
  • Chia seeds are able to absorb a lot of water, this means that they plump up and help you feel fuller for longer. Here comes the BUT, due to the amount of water they are able to absorb it can cause a certain area to become blocked if you catch my drift, so it’s really important to drink plenty of water after eating anything with Chia Seeds, however that can’t be a bad thing it has certainly made me drink loads more water and I can already see and feel my body thanking me for it.
  • If your not a big fan of fish like me and worried that your not getting enough omega-3s in your diet then look fear not, yes you have guessed it chia seeds are jam packed with them as well. However the only downside to the omega-3s in chia seeds is they are a bit more difficult for our bodies to digest than fish omega-3s, I would suggest grounding the chia seeds to make it easier on your body to digest and also to get the goodies it needs.

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THE LOOK AND TEXTURE

  • Chia seeds come in black and white however there is not much difference in taste or texture. The appearance is basically just described in the name, they are black SEEDS.
  • They have a very weird texture when immersed in water, they go from little black seeds to a texture and a look that I can only describe as looking like frog spawn. If you mix it with yogurt the look isn’t so bad. Once you get over the look these will soon become your new foodie best friend.

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SUMMARY 

  • 3 x more iron than spinach.
  • 3-5 x more calcium than milk.
  • 8 x more omega-3 than salmon.
  • 15 x more antioxidants than blueberries.
  • Help control appetite and balance blood sugar
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Can be used for baking as a butter substitute
  • Control sugar cravings and aids in weight loss
  • Provide fiber, protein, antixoidants and minerals
  • They are affordable and chemical-free
  • Improve memory, mood and overall energy
  • Improve health of skin, nails and hair

I hope you try these little magic seeds out, if you do let me know what you think of them.