Springtime Smoothie with Aloe Vera

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It’s finally Spring and it’s really warming up here in Mandeville and I am so grateful! To ring in Spring and to prepare for summer, I’ve made the ultimate Springtime smoothie with aloe vera.

If you’re Jamaican, I bet you’re pretty skeptical right now. Aloe vera? In a drink? How can that be good? I know all those questions are going through your mind. But it is possible! All you gotta do is remove that awful bitter flavour. Before I explain how to do that (and it’s quite simple), let’s talk a bit about aloe vera.

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So aloe “vera” is a succulent plant that is just one type of aloe (aloe being a species of over 500 plants) and it is widely known in Jamaica for it’s medicinal properties and its very bitter taste. People here on the island use the plant to treat cuts, burns, constipation and a few other ailments and you know what, it works better than any modern medicine I’ve ever tried. We also use it in our hair as a conditioner and on our skin since it helps keep those pesky wrinkles at bay. I personally love how super shiny and smooth it makes both my skin and hair feel! Oh and besides all that, its a great addition to any succulent collection (here’s mine).

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But you must be wondering how aloe vera in a drink can help you… well its great for your digestive system, kinda like how yogurt is and its full of vitamins and nutrients. The best thing about working with aloe vera is that once you remove that bitterness, you’re left with a blank slate that you can customize based on the season and whatever is available.

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So first, let’s talk about de-bittering; you wanna cut a leaf from your aloe vera plant and let it drain for a full day and all the yellow slime will drain out. Then you wanna fillet it, to do this, run your knife along both sides of the leaf, being careful not to cut through the bottom leaf. Then pull back the top leaf; it will peel back easily and with the knife or a spoon cut/scoop the jell off the bottom leaf. Wash the jell and you can cut it into pieces or not but it must go into a ziplock bag and freeze for a day, that’s what really takes the bitterness away, don’t ask me how.

On smoothie making day, all you do is add to a blender, your fruits, I used papaya for it’s refreshing yet sweet flavour, a frozen banana ’cause you can’t have a smoothie without those,  a ton of mint because that just taste like spring to me, like waking up from winter and the frozen aloe vera jell of course, a pinch of turmeric powder, that’s optional some honey and some ice cold coconut water and wizz away. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

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Check out the recipe below for measurements and stay tuned for more spring time foods!

Springtime Smoothie with Aloe Vera

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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This refreshing smoothie taste like a field of daisies and bees buzzing around wild flowers and afternoon showers all in one.

INGREDIENTS

Aloe vera jell from two leaves, frozen

1/2 papaya, sliced

1 frozen banana, sliced

2 sprigs of mint, leaves only (reserve a sprig for garnish)

1 pinch of turmeric

1 tablespoon honey (or agave syrup)

1 1/2-2 cups coconut water, cold

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Pour into glasses with straws and garnish with a sprig of mint.

I hope you shine today!heart

 

Banana and Spirulina Vegan Ice Cream Pops

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So recently I got inspired to make my own vegan ice cream and I don’t mean your typical, non-creamy vegan version that you eat and feel unfulfilled by because you didn’t get that satisfying and sinful full cream fat. Sounds dirty, I know but isn’t that why we indulge in ice cream? To enjoy that full-bodied creaminess.  And that’s why I came up with this recipe.

It’s only a few ingredients and it’s actually good for you; with no sugars added and spoons full of spirulina for all those great vitamins… oh and let’s not forget the pretty turquoise colour it gave the ice cream.

So let’s get right into it then!

So main ingredient is frozen, fresh bananas and yes, they have to be frozen. I throw those into a blender and kinda left them to chill out ’till they were not so hard; if you’ve got a powerful blender then you can skip this step. My bananas came fresh off the tree right before I froze them.

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I added coconut cream to the blender as well and this is what gives that ‘fat factor’, you know, makes it into that creamy ice cream we all crave from time to time. After that I added about 2 teaspoons of spirulina powder and wizzed away. I actually ended up adding more spirulina until I got the colour I wanted. Now, this next step is not necessary but I love this Debz non-dairy ice cream so much, so I added about two scoops of their Rum and Raisin flavour for a little kick, but again, this is not necessary and if you want that rum flavour in your ice cream, you can always add about 2 tablespoons of rum to the blender.

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The ice cream mixture should be full-bodied and thick but not too thick.

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After everything was blended, I took some freshly picked raspberries which I popped in the freezer for about 2 hours and added them to the ice cream.

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Then it was time to assemble the ice cream pops. The first step is to add some of the ice cream mixture to my molds which were antique wine goblets; they were the perfect size with a cute shape but of course you can use any mold you wish, just remember to oil the molds with coconut oil before you actually add the cream mixture.

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I chopped up some Jamaican raw cacao as well and layered it with the cream for a little chocolaty surprise. This was my favourite part of these ice cream popper, biting into the ice cream and finding hidden chocolate. Yum!

Once I got the molds filled, I stuck sticks into the center of the cream. I carved them from tree branches (had to get crafty since I had no popsicle sticks) but you can go ahead and get the ‘correct’ sticks lol.

After that, I covered the pops with plastic wrap and froze them for about 2-3 hours or until they were solid.

To un-mold these delicious pops, I simply dipped them in warm water and tugged gently on the sticks and when they felt loose, I lifted the pops out of the mold. Last but not least, I garnished with rose petals (from my garden), ground peppermint and crushed almonds.

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Then I dug in! These pops make guilty pleasures not so guilty. I absolutely love them! With no sugar added, and a lot of vitamins from the spirulina and nutritional benefits from bananas and coconut, you’ll never believe its not regular ice cream.

Check out the step by step recipe below!

Banana and Spirulina Vegan Ice Cream Pops

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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These ice cream pops are perfect for a little Sunday afternoon indulgence without the guilt!

INGREDIENTS

4-6 frozen bananas, sliced

2 1/2 cups coconut cream

3-4 teaspoons spirulina powder

2 scoops of Debz Non-dairy Ice Cream (optional)

1 cup raspberries, frozen

coconut oil (for greasing molds)

Jamaica raw cacao, chopped, as needed

chopped almonds, as needed

rose petals, as needed

ground peppermint, as needed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To a blender, add the bananas, coconut cream and spirulina powder. Blended to incorporate. Add the non-dairy ice cream and blend till smooth. If you aren’t adding the ice cream, simply blend the mixture till smooth with the rum, if desired.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the frozen berries. Mix and pop the ice cream into the freezer, covered.
  3. In the mean time, grease the molds you’ll be using with coconut oil and set aside.
  4. Remove the mixture from the freezer and start filling to molds half way up the top.
  5. Add a few pieces of the cacao and fill the molds to the top.
  6. Stick the popsicle sticks into the center of the ice cream and cover with plastic warp.
  7. Put them back into the freezer for about 2-3 hours or until the ice cream is frozen solid.
  8. Un-mold the pops by dipping the molds into warm water.
  9. Garnish with the almonds, rose petals and peppermint.
  10. Enjoy!

I hope you shine todayheart

 

 

Homemade Granola

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Let’s face it, granola is yummy, it’s ‘snackable’ and its perfect as a breakfast cereal but it’s so overpriced. If you’re a fan of granola like me, then you know how much these things cost in the supermarket; but why buy it when you can make it?

I’ve been making my own granola for a while now and it is a very simple and easy process; the great thing is that you can make it now and jar some up for the rest of the week! This granola will keep 14 days or so, although mine has never lasted that long LOL. I also LOVE that granola can be customized and each time I make it, I try different flavours together and always end up with a delicious result.

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Today I’m gonna share with you my recipe for this week’s granola. I pretty much added a bunch of dried fruits, seeds and nuts that I had around my kitchen (awesome way to finish up that last bit if pumpkin seeds that’s been sitting there after I already popped open my new bag).

The backbone of this recipe is of course the oats, I mean, by now everyone should know about my love affair with oats; they are my favourite ‘fibrelicious’ breakfast pick-me-up meal and I’ll have them in pretty much any form smile face. Old fashioned, rolled oats are the only ones I use and if you can get them organic, that would be great!

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For this recipe, I got them mixed with honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and almond butter; you could eat it just like that and on many occasions, I have! But for the purpose of this recipe, try to hold back the urge for flaky oats coated in goodness. When I’ve got it nice and mixed, I kinda scrunch the oats up into, well, bunches I suppose and bake them low and slow for about 15-20 minutes. You could even toast them in a mini toaster over which is actually what I do most of the time.

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Once the bunches are all ready, crisp and crunchy, allow them to cool. Then it’s time to go through your kitchen emptying all the crumbs from the jar of nuts, seeds, the coconut flakes you had left over from the vegan coconut cake you baked, the raisins you bought for Christmas cake/pudding/fruit cake and anything else you have in your pantry that you can toss in. I like to load up but if you think less is more, feel free to add one or two… condiments? I’ll call them condiments, yes. Or you don’t have to add anything at all; you can bake the bunches and have them just like that.

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To mine though I added a myriad of dried fruits, coconut flakes, walnuts, and seeds I had on hand. BUT as you can clearly see, you can customize your granola to your taste. For breakfast purposes, I drown my granola in milk but I also enjoy filling a container with the cereal mix and snacking on them while working…perfect for keeping me full!

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Check out the full recipe below and make your own for breakfast!

Homemade Granola

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
  • Print

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This is an amazing weekday breakfast option; make it Sunday and enjoy it every morning after.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups old fashion oats

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon maple syrup (vegans can use only

maple syrup at 3 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon almond butter

seeds (pumpkin, sunflower etc.)

dried fruits (apricots, raisins, dates etc.)

nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashew)

dried coconut flakes

milk (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat a toaster oven to 170°F or oven to 180°F.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment/grease paper.

3. Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl and ensure that the oats come together when squeezed in your hand.

4. Empty the bowl on to the baking sheet and ‘bunch’ the oats together randomly.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bunch and hard and crispy.

6. Allow the granola to cool.

7. Mix with the condiments (dried fruits, seeds and nuts) and add to jars with tight lids to keep for about 14 days.

8. To enjoy, add milk or snack on them while work or play!

I hope you shine today! heart

 

 

 

Coffee Eggnog

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So Christmas has come and gone but that doesn’t mean we can’t live out the rest of the month in true Christmas style; in fact we should!

Eggnog is a Christmas favourite which I only make during these Holidays since I cheat and use granulated cane sugar and totally bypass the honey or maple syrup (see I can be a dare devil, ha ha). It’s full of nutmeg, its cinnamony, it’s boozey and super creamy coffee goodness!! The best part is you can have it warm or cold and it’s perfect either way.

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The recipe requires a bit of simmering, some whisking and a lot of fun. I made this Coffee Eggnog with Gordon who insisted on tasting the eggnog at each stage, by taking large spoon fulls and I couldn’t help but laugh at his definition of taste.

As per usual, my eggs, which are the main ingredient of course, are bought from my neighbour; have I ever shown you all the road to his farm?

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See that’s the road to organic goodness!

I take five eggs and separate the yolks from the whites, then cover the whites and stick them in the fridge. To the yolks I add sugar (I swear, after the holidays it’s back to honey and maple syrup) and while I got to whisking those together, Gordon added milk, brewed coffee and a cinnamon stick to a heavy bottom sauce pan.

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I whipped the yolks ’till they became pretty lighter in colour and sorta increased in size and got a little fluffy. By that time, the milk had started simmering and Gordon added tons of grated nutmeg to the it after shutting off the heat.

By the way, we made this while listening to Christmas songs, how cheesy are we? Ha ha! But who cares, it really does set the festive mood smile face.

So the milk is hot and the egg yolks are creamy; time to add the milk to the yolks. I whisked the yolks while Gordon slowly and steadily poured the milk in. You wanna go gentle and slow to prevent scrambling those yolks; once the yolk mixture gets hot, you can pour the rest of the milk in all at once. Then you wanna cool the mixture down. Best way to do this is with the bowl of eggnog on top of an ice bath but if it’s cool enough in your house, you can stir to cool it.

The kicker is the Sangster’s Rum Cream Coffee flavour. Just stir it in and drop the mike. I mean this stuff is that good! Refrigerate after that.

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When the eggnog is cold, pull out those egg whites and whip them to stiff peaks; it’s ready when you hold the bowl of whipped whites upside down and they don’t move. Mix this into the eggnog and pour into a jar and refrigerate until your’e ready to enjoy!

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Warm up your nog by gently heating it in a double boiler or just in a bowl over simmering water. I serve mine up with cinnamon sticks and extra ground coffee on top. Yummy! it’s so so good and between four persons, it’s finished within a day, so if your’e thinking of making this for more people, double up on the recipe!

Coffee Eggnog

  • Servings: 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Creamy, delicious and perfect for the season! You cannot resist it.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups of milk

1 cup brewed coffee

1 cinnamon stick

5 egg yolks

2/3 cups granulated cane sugar

grated nutmeg (as much as you like)

1/2 cup Sangster’s Coffee Rum Cream.

5 egg whites

ground coffee (optional)

cinnamon sticks (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. To 2 cups of milk add 1 cup brewed coffee and 1 cinnamon stick, bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. In a bowl add 5 egg yolks to 2/3 cups granulated cane sugar and whisk until the mixture is light and pale yellow in colour.
3. Slowly whisk in the hot milk (cinnamon stick removed) and add grated nutmeg (as much as you like).
4. Allow the mixture to cool before refrigerating (either over a cold water bath or by stirring until cool). Add 1/2 cup Sangster’s Coffee Rum Cream.
5. Refrigerate for a few hours (until cold).
6. Before serving, whisk 5 egg whites to stiff peaks and stir into the mixture.
7. Enjoy cold or warm in a bain marie. Serve with ground coffee on top and a cinnamon stick.

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Sorrel Cookies

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Fall in love with my Oatmeal Sorrel Cookies this Christmas! Cozy up in your favourite Christmas sweater with a glass of spiced milk and these soft and chewy cookies.

It was super rainy over the weekend so of course our Mandeville temperature dropped to a ‘low’ 64°F  which for me is the perfect excuse to throw on a chunky sweater and curl up with the family; in that moment it dawned on me, Christmas is here!! So I decided to make some Christmasy cookies with our most beloved Christmas ingredient here on the island; sorrel.

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So if you’re from North America and parts of Europe, you’ll probably think I’m talking about that herb you use in salads but our sorrel is nothing like that. It’s actually a fruit-like flower that some people might refer to as hibiscus. We use it primarily to make a boozy drink around the holiday season which every one is permitted to gulp down, including kids! Kinda crazy, I know but usually a batch without alcohol is made for the kids and those who don’t drink.

Recently I discovered these dried, candied sorrel at the supermarket (you can also find them on Amazon) which I snack on or add to salads; this weekend they were added to my cookies!

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So to make these, its quite simple and perfect to make with your kids, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and the list goes on. I went all out on these and didn’t skim on the things that make cookies really… amazing. I added organic cane sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, butter and of course salt and baking soda.

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First step, whisk the sugar and butter together.

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Second step, add the flour mixture.

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Third step, add the oats and sorrel.

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Fourth step, refrigerate if your kitchen is warm, don’t if it’s cool.

Fifth step, bake.

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Easy, right! Before I add them to the oven, I add a sprinkle of oats on top for texture and crunch. You have to use whole, old fashioned oats, it just won’t be the same with the processed stuff. I pull these out of the oven when they are golden brown and the middle is still soft. You wanna let them cool before you remove them from the pan, although you don’t have to wait ’till they cool completely, just enough so you can touch them. I continue cooling mine on a cooling rack.

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When they cool I grab a glass of milk that I add nutmeg to and chow down. My mom likes to have her cookies warm and it’s pretty good with the cold milk, definitely something to try.

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If you make these cookies, leave a comment and let me know how you liked it!

Oatmeal Sorrel Cookies

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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These are the perfect Christmas time cookies and a great alternative to the well-known gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies; get the kids to help out on this one!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 cup butter (organic and unsalted), softened

3/4 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon milk or almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dried candied sorrel

1/2 cup whole, old fashioned oats (plus extra)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Using a mixer or whisk, cream the sugar and butter together until smooth and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift the dried ingredients, the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add gradually to the creamed butter mixture and mix just enough to combine.
  5. Add the milk and vanilla extract and whisk in.
  6. Add the sorrel and oats and switching to a rubber spatula, mix the sorrel and oats in to form a smooth, soft dough.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes if you are in a hot environment, you can skip this step if your kitchen is cool.
  8. Remove from the refrigerator and roll into balls and place them on a butter or parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Press down the ball slightly and sprinkle extra oats on top.
  10. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the middle is still soft.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transporting the cookies to a cooling rack.
  12. Enjoy with a glass of milk!

 

 

Banana Turmeric Lassi

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So it’s flu season and I’ve got an antioxidant packed , vitamin rich, super healthy and all round delicious lassi for you! This Indian smoothie is sure to keep you safe this flu season and the warm spices will give you that holiday feeling, that’s if you’re not already wearing Christmas sweaters and drinking hot chocolate or sorrel as we do here in Jamaica.

So what’s a lassi? To all who have no clue, I like to liken a lassi to a smoothie; an Indian smoothie. But, it’s really a beverage made with milk, yogurt and spices and sometimes fruit. Fruit lassis are my absolute favourite- I love it with mangoes, oranges, berries and of course bananas! If you are new to my blog, you wouldn’t know that I go bananas for bananas, now you do; they are my ride or die fruit. smile face

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I’ve got dozens of banana tree in my back yard so I’ve always got bananas. My motto is “no banana left behind”, so when there are just too many to eat, I pack them in the freezer and save them for smoothies, gluten free pancakes, cakes, lassis and the like! For this recipe, frozen bananas are best.

Although this lassi is pretty ‘bananary’, I must say that the top ingredients that makes this beverage really sing are the ginger, turmeric and cardamom (oh and they also make this undeniably Indian and so so right for this cooler weather, or cold weather depending on where you are). Not the mention how amazing these spices are; got a bit of gas? Cardamom. Got a cold or the flu? Turmeric. Got a bit of motion sickness? Ginger. Yup, this lassi has got it all and then some!

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I chose to make these lassis with almond milk to keep it a bit lighter but if you wanna go traditional and you aren’t against milk haha, then go for that whole milk experience, you will end up with super fluffy, super smooth lassis. Add some yogurt too, that’ll give that much needed tang to your lassi; I love the tang! It helps to cut right through the spices, which are pretty… in your face. Oh, I also love adding orange zest to help brighten the flavours. If you’ve got super over ripened bananas, you don’t need to add honey but if your bananas are just ripe and you want that touch of sweetness, go ahead and add honey to taste; this recipe really didn’t need it; my bananas where very sweet!

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Lassis are very simple and easy to make, I drop all my ingredients into my blender and wizz away! The result is this smooth, refreshing, spiced and comforting lassi that’ll definitely help fight off any flu! I garnished mine with cinnamon and dried, edible flowers from my mom’s garden which sends this beautiful, sweet scent up from the lassi once you turn your glass to your head, It’s one of my favourite parts of enjoying this lassi and it looks so pretty! smile face

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Please let me know if you try this one! It’s a must have this flu season.

Banana Turmeric Lassi

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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INGREDIENTS

3 frozen bananas

1 small knob ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 pods cardamom, seeds removed

2 heaping spoons of yogurt (about 1 cup)

3 1/2 cups milk of your choice

1/2 teaspoon Orange zest

cinnamon, if desired

dried, edible flowers, if desired

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Slice the frozen bananas and the knob of ginger, add them to the blender.
  2. Add the turmeric, cardamom seeds, yogurt, milk and orange zest.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into glasses and garnish with cinnamon and dried flowers.
  5. Enjoy!

Jackfruit Seeds with Mint Pesto

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If you’ve been reading my blog for some time now, you’ll know that I hate to waste food and I love trying new and interesting ingredients so when we finished our jackfruit and had the seeds left behind, I asked my fiance, Gordon “what can I do with these?” And he told me that these seeds are actually similar to potatoes when boiled, OMG! That was the most exciting news I had heard all day!! Immediately my mind went to jackfruit seeds in pesto. So here’s the recipe for my incredibly delicious Jackfruit Seeds with Mint Pesto. I can’t wait for you to see just how easy this one is!

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So my pesto isn’t the traditional stuff, I mean, which recipe of mine ever is? But it’s gosh darn tasty! I made mine with mint instead of basil and subbed pine nuts for sunflower seeds since pine nuts really aren’t easily accessible on the island. Everything else were the basic pesto ingredients; some Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I smashed everything, except the oil together in my trusty pestle and mortar; if you don’t have one of these, please get one, you’ll be so glad you did. Jamaicans can find the wooden ones at craft stores and they are very popular in the countryside where they are sold on the side of the road. I smashed until all the ingredients became a paste and then I added the olive oil and mixed it together.

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For the Jackfruit seeds, I simply boiled them in some lightly salted water until they were tender; this took a little longer than potatoes, say about 45 minutes in all, but of course that depends on how many seeds you’re working with. Yup, that’s it for cooking ’em and you thought working with jackfruit seeds might be complicated. Oh and the seed’s brown skins turn purple when they are cooked which makes for a pretty plate of jackfruit seeds!

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You wanna drain the seeds then add them back to the pot over medium heat. Add the pesto and stir it all together, making sure the seeds are coated in the herby stuff. I let it go for only five minutes, then I tasted and added more salt and pepper, you should do the same and add more if you need to.

When I made this, I had enough for dinner and some leftover which I ended up adding greens and other veggies to, to make it a complete lunch. Ideally this recipe will work great as an addition to salads but you can add additional veggies like me and make it ‘jackfruit seed night’. The great thing for non-meat eaters or those that eat little meat like myself, is that jackfruit seeds are chuck full of protein… and well vitamins and fiber too. Awesome right!

The texture is basically like potatoes with a taste this is unique in itself yet sorta familiar. The fresh minty flavour with the cheese really makes this YUMMY! You could add anything to these babies and they’d turn out awesome. You could roast them like potatoes (after you par-boil them) or mash them even; jackfruit seeds are your playground. If you are lucky enough to get an entire fruit like myself, then you can be super creative and just have fun. And you can start with this recipe, below.

Comment and let me know your thoughts!

Jackfruit Seeds with Mint Pesto

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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This is a quick and healthy, protein packed meal or side dish with a fresh pesto sauce.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2-3 cups jackfruit seeds, skinned of their shell-like outer layer

water, for boiling

salt, to taste

a full bunch of mint

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

2 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese or vegan cheese

black pepper, to taste

1-2 tablespoon olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil the jackfruit seeds in lightly salted water until they are tender, this will take about 45 minutes.
  2. While the seeds boil, add the garlic cloves, mint leaves, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper to a pestle and mortar.
  3. Smash the ingredients together into a smooth paste. Add the olive oil and mix together. Set aside.
  4. Once the jackfruit seeds are tender, drain them and put them back into the pan over medium heat.
  5. Add the pesto and stir to coat the seeds. Cook for 5 -7 minutes until everything melts together and coats the seeds well.
  6. Serve hot with more cheese, if desired.

I hope you shine today!heart

 

Beetroot Bread

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Have you ever seen bread baking in an oven? If you haven’t, just imagine two solar systems colliding together in an explosion of light and imagine the feeling you’d get from seeing that… mind blowing right? Well that’s bread making! I always try to whip up some sort of bread at least once every month, partly because I love good, healthy bread but also because I’m dedicated to becoming a better bread maker. The process is simple in hindsight but everything has to be executed correctly for your bread to turn out epic!

Yeasty breads are my favourite so this Beetroot Bread is a combo of yeast and earthy wheat to give that incredible, natural flavour! The beets send this bread over the top. If someone asked me to describe beets in one word, I’d say ‘earthy’; beets just taste of the earth to me and even though they are grown under ground like any other tuber, beets seem to absorb the very essence of the ground. This makes them one of my favourite vegetables, in fact, I’m obsessed with beetroots! And, I’m looking forward to planting my beetroot along with some other veggies I’ve got waiting to be plunged into red, rich dirt.

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I made this bread by boiling and blending my beets to a smooth, liquid consistency (using the same liquid I boiled them in).

I combined my yeast with my lukewarm water, added olive oil and honey and mixed it together before adding salt and my flours in batches; I had a mixture of all-purpose and wheat. Then I added the beet puree and brought it all together with a wooden spoon. I had to knead mine by hand since I am electric mixer-less but you go ahead and use a mixer with the dough attachment and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. You want super smooth dough with a long stretch to it; so when you pull on the dough it shouldn’t break off right away, it should stretch!

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After I kneaded the dough, I balled it up and dropped it into a clean, oiled bowl. Then the waiting begun. I covered the dough and waited 1 hour for it to proof

And when it did, I punched it down, shaped it into loaves and covered it again and waited 45 minutes more for a second proofing. I scored the bread to help steam escape and added pumpkin seeds to the top. The real intricacy is in the baking of the bread. You’ll want a hot oven, preferably a hearth oven that’ll get your bread super crusty. Creating steam also helps so what many bread makers do is spray water into to oven as the bread bakes. All that steam creates beautiful charred bread with a slight hint of bitterness.

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Unfortunately I don’t have a hearth oven to create that super crusty hearth bread and if you’re in the same boat as I am you might wanna get yourself a good baking stone to help the process along. That’s my next move in bread making!

This is a great every day, versatile bread that’ll be good for sandwiches, accompaniments to soups, as croutons in salads and when this bread becomes a few days old, it’s great in bread pudding!

Begin your bread journey! Check out the recipe below!

Beetroot Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

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INGREDIENTS

-1/4 cup lukewarm water (110°F)

-2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

-1 tablespoon honey

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-1 1/2  teaspoons salt

-2 cups all-purpose flour

-1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

-1 1/2 cups beetroot puree

-2 teaspoons pumpkin seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add water and yeast to a bowl and let sit for 3 minutes. Add the honey and oil and some of the flour and all the salt. Mix it together using a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the beetroot puree and the remaining flours then mix until it comes together.
  3. Using an electric mixer with the dough hook attached, knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and stretchy. If you are kneading with your hands, knead for 12-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a clean, oiled bowl. Roll the ball of dough around in the oil to coat all over. Cover and let proof for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 370°F.
  6. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and transfer it unto a lightly floured surface.
  7. Divide the dough in half and shape it into two loaves.
  8. Place them on a baking stone or a sheet and cover again, allowing the loaves to proof for 45 minutes.
  9. Score the loaves and top them with 1 teaspoon of pumpkin seeds each.
  10. Put them into the oven immediately and bake for 30 minutes or until tapping on the bottom of the loaves makes a hollow sound.
  11. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
  12. Slice and serve.

I hope you shine today!heart

 

 

 

 

Light Jamaican Ramen Bowl

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It’s soup day!

Today was a super rainy, wet one in Manchester and you could find me cozing up to a steaming bowl of ramen for dinner as rain battered roof tops all throughout the parish (and the country). I’ve been obsessing over ramen for months now and just finally worked up the courage to have a go at it. Ramen is one of those dishes you spend hours in the kitchen to make and is notoriously known to have big, bold flavours from fatty meats like pork. It’s not the healthiest of foods, what with all the meat fat swimming around in the broth, but we live in a wonderful world where you can cook almost anything almost any way we want to, so I made a ‘light ramen’ that you can tweak to make it completely vegan.

I used chicken stock, which I made from scratch. Now, I know you’re thinking this is a technical, super cheffy process and you’d be right but I took some short cuts and wrapped up my stock in about 3 hours, which is actually more time than I’d give a normal stock, but this isn’t a normal soup, right? So all I added to my stock was thyme, escallion, carrots, onions, dried oregano, garlic (a lot), black peppercorns, pimento seeds and tons of chicken bones and chicken tid bits. I simmered everything in water (just enough to cover the chicken parts) and strained it after three hours. It was super chicken-y and flavourful. I didn’t add salt to the stock after I made it because I prefer to season the ramen broth separately. Use only the vegetables to make a purely veggie stock if you’re a vegan.

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For my first ramen, I really went all out and stacked this baby up with all the fixings! The broth itself was the chicken stock, two bulbs of ginger, soy sauce (a super flavourful one and a mushroom one), fish sauce and escallion. In true ramen style, I added some meat in the form of beef balls for the meat eaters and simmered those in the broth as well; this is where you’ll want to substitute a vegetable meatball for the beef if you aren’t a meat eater. I simmered everything together for about 30 minutes. Oh, I also stirred in minced chilis and scotch bonnet pepper to give the broth a kick!

The veggies I used, besides the mushrooms, were pretty much the ones I had in my garden and I picked them right before the broth was done.

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I cut some beautiful callaloo leaves which I left whole, some sweet corn, juicy carrots, bean sprouts and baby okras. the baby okras are super tender and will easily cook in the hot broth; if you use larger okras, you’ll need to slice them or cook them a bit in the broth. I got these from a few of my okra plants which have been giving us some really great okras!

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Baby okras

I did farm fresh, soft-boiled eggs to go along with the veggies and beef ball and it adds some of that richness that you may miss from traditional ramen. I did two noodles, egg noodles and thin rice noodles; both were delicious but the thicker egg noodles won over the thinner rice noodles. When you’re making this, go with the egg noodles if you can.

So its assemble time and the first thing you wanna add to your bowl is the noodles, then you’re gonna pour some broth over top. You wanna work quickly after pouring the broth and fill the top of the noodles and broth with the meat, veggies, egg half and garnishes. Working fast will ensure the broth is still hot by the time you start eating it and still has the ability to cook the uncooked veggies you added to the top (yeah, it’s that hot!). Garnish with sliced escallion and sesame seeds then slurp away!

If you wanna try this lighter version of ramen soup, click here to get the recipe.

Drop me a comment, I wanna know your thoughts!

I hope you shine today!heart

Guinep Smoothie

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It’s guinep season here in Jamaica and we’ve been getting a lot of guineps from my grammy’s friend who has a tree in her back yard. She gives us bags full at a time, so we always have a bunch of guineps to share and a lot to eat on our own. I myself am not a huge fan of eating guineps (although it tastes pretty good), so when we kept getting these massive amounts of guineps I decided to transform them into something I could really get with, and so, Guinep Smoothie was born.

If you’re not Jamaican or from the Caribbean, you might have no clue what Guinep is. So here’s what it is: it’s this sweet fruit that comes packaged in a thin green skin. It’s got a little tang to it, which we Jamaicans describe as ‘stainy’. The seed makes up most of the fruit but is surrounded by fleshy meat and that’s the part you eat (and what I can’t get with it eating the flesh off the seed, I mean, I wish it was all flesh).

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My grammy actually told me about this recipe and I tweaked it to fit my likes which honestly wasn’t much tweaking. I removed the alcohol from the recipe as well as the sugar and added almond milk instead of cow’s milk to make it vegan, just cause I was in a vegan mood. I made some extra smoothies with the cow’s milk as well for later when I’m not feeling so ‘vegan’. I also threw in a couple bananas.

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So this recipe is super easy! First you wanna make the juice, to do that you’re gonna need a lot of guineps. I used maybe 3 pounds but that gave me a lot of juice so you really need maybe a pound or so. I had my little (not so little) sous chef, grammy in the kitchen with me and she graciously offered to skin the guineps for me.

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While she did that, I put some water in the kettle to boil. Once grammy was all done, I poured the hot water onto the peeled guineps and let it sit for a while. When it was warm, I reach in with clean hands and begun rubbing the flesh off the seeds. It took a little while to get the flesh off but when I was finished I had some yummy, sweet guinep juice.

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Before I added the hot water

You wanna choose guineps that are at their peak and very ripe. That’s how you get away with not adding sweeteners. Super ripe guineps have dark blotches on the skin and sometimes seem a bit shrunken compared to a freshly picked, just ripened guinep. Choose the super ripe ones for this drink and the latter kind for snacking on… So as I was saying, you wanna strain the juice after you rub the seeds. Strain it well. You can serve it just like this if you want with a few cubes of ice.

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But if you want the smoothie version, just blend milk (almond or cow’s), bananas, vanilla extract and nutmeg together and you’ve got your Guinep Smoothie! If you’re making this and you want to add different fruits, it’s best you watch out for curdling since not all the enzymes in the guinep can mix with every fruit. Fruits with a similar makeup to bananas or guineps (like sweet and soursop) could be used but just be cautious!

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I added a few ice cubes to the blender as well after I blended the ingredients to a smooth smoothie texture. You could add the ice whole but I much preferred the crushed ice in the smoothie. Go ahead and garnish with extra nutmeg.

I love this recipe, straight or ‘smoothiefied’ because of its all-natural, sweet and refreshing flavours. When it’s made into a smoothie, its got this milkshake flavour that taste like dessert and soursop juice all in one (which is definitely a great thing!)

So if you’re like me and you’re not a fan of eating the fruit but you like the taste, try this recipe out, get it below!

I know you’ll all be very impressed with how little ole guinep can taste!

Guinep Smoothie

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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This is a delicious, naturally sweet smoothie made from Jamaican guineps.

INGREDIENTS

The juice

2-4 cups hot water (just enough to cover the guineps)

As many guineps as you can get (about 1 pound, or more)

The smoothie

2 cups guinep juice

1/2 cup almond or cow’s milk

2 ripe bananas

2 teaspoons nutmeg, grated, plus more for garnish

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

ice cubes, as needed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil the water.
  2. In the mean time, remove the skins from the guineps and place them into a large bowl.
  3. Pour the water over the guineps and allow it to cool to touch. Start rubbing the flesh off the seeds while the water is still warm; rub off as much as you can.
  4. Strain the juice well and reserve 2 cups for the smoothie.
  5. In a blender, add the guinep juice, milk, bananas, nutmeg and vanilla and blend on high until smooth.
  6. Add the ice cubes and blend to crush.
  7. Grate more nutmeg over the top, serve cold and enjoy!

I hope you shine today!heart