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
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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
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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
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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
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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

 

Kale Power Salad with Spicy Chickpeas

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Salads are my go-to quick and easy dinner choice but they are great for lunch as well and I like to add a ton of vitamins, protein, nutrients and all around goodness to mine.

Today I’m sharing a Kale Power Salad with Spicy Chickpeas. This might be one of my favourite kale salads of them all; it packs a powerful punch with taste and overall healthy ingredients. Plus it’ll keep you full for longer!

The chickpeas are my favourite element of this salad. They are crispy and coated in cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper and of course seasoned with salt and pepper.

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I smashed these spices together

These little spicy pearls pop in your mouth when you bit through that thin crisp skin and into a soft center.

The kale is the backbone, so there’s no question, it has to be fresh! There are many farmers around Jamaica who are planting and selling kale but if you have a green thumb, pick up some seeds at your nearest farm store (there’s one on almost every street here in the countryside) and try your hand at growing this iron rich vege. I fell in love with kale the moment I saw it and when I first ate it, I thought, okay I’m gonna obsess about this for at least a few years.

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Kale for salads needs a really good massage. Kale is not delicate like most other greens, you can rub it to loosen up its fibers and make it more palatable. I always massage my kale with some of the vinaigrette or dressing that I’m using on my salad; it might seem strange to the first time kale salad maker but do it anyway. For this salad I decided on an Asian inspired Ginger-Orange Vinaigrette.

Roasted beets add just a smidgen of sweetness. Beets are another obsession of mine and I have them raw mostly but when it’s roasted there’s a different texture and taste. How cool is it that roasting transforms an ingredient so much?!

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I decided to shave some Parmesan cheese for that cheesy, salty, rich flavour which this super lean salad needs. Raw carrots and sunflower seeds are a crunchy element that adds some texture to this salad and the raw onion gives it that pure, strong flavour to stand up to all those cooked elements.

As I always say, fresh ingredients are the best to use and that’s even more so for salads! Here in Jamaica, access to super fresh foods is easy, all you have to do is step into your parish’s market or plant a few fruits and veges in your backyard. If you live in the city, chances are you could find a decent or amazing farmer’s market that’s got lots of local, fresh produce. You just gotta get out there and find it!

If you’re feeling kale like I am, check out this recipe here.

I hope you shine today!heart

 

Kale and Avocado Juice

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If the world gives you veges, make green juice!

If you want to hop on the health train but you don’t like veges, the best and simplest way to get your vegetables in, is to make juice. I’ve actually come across many people who tell me that they want to eat healthy but hate vegetables, well the answer is definitely not to melt cheese over broccoli or batter fry green beans, just grab some fresh vegetables and fruits and buzz away.

Drinking green juices has become a trend the world over and every up and coming restaurant is serving their version of vegetable concoctions. Some skeptics may wonder if it’s all it’s cracked up to be; is it really healthy? Am I really getting enough greens from the juice? Yes and yes. If you make a green juice, the right way (and there is a wrong way to do it), then you’ll have a healthy, nutritious and super tasty beverage.

Rule number 1, use fresh ingredients.

I know I say this all the time but it makes such a difference when you use a fresh, ripe tomato instead of one that’s been sitting in your refrigerator for weeks. The flavours are all present and the vitamins are ‘perky’; not worn down. I picked out fresh kale, avocado, coconut water, freshly squeezed lime juice and orange juice and fresh bananas that took a walk in the freezer a few hours before a blended this all up.

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Rule number 2, use a high powered blender or blend in batches.

I just hate the idea of using a juicer to make juice or straining juice after it is made to remove fibre or particles from blended juices. When I first started blending kale, I was stuck with this super grainy texture from the rough kale leaves. I didn’t like it, who would? But I knew that if I juiced or strained it, I would be losing a lot of the nutrients I’d rather drink up. Thankfully, I realized that there was a simple fix; I just blended my kale in batches with my choice of liquid and did so until the little flecks of green disappeared. My juice is smooth every time now. Of course, if you’ve got a high powered blender, you don’t need to blend in batch.

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I blended the coconut water with the kale then added more kale and fruits and more coconut water.

Rule number 3, use enough greens.

It’s not really green juice if you’re using a few leaves of greens. Vegetables don’t have to make up most of the drink but you’ll need to add a good serving size portion, especially if this is the way you get in your vegetables. New healthy eaters and green juice makers are afraid that the vegetables will overpower the juice and leave a “green” taste (some people like the green taste) but in any case, balance is key and using the right ingredients together results in the best tasting juices. If you’re working with a strong tasting vegetable, use a strong flavoured fruit to combat it; they will balance each other out perfectly. Spinach and pineapple are great examples!

Rule number 4, use fruits as natural sweeteners

I like to keep my juices pure. Just 100% greens and fruits so my sweetener is always some mixture of fruits. My favourite fruit to pair with kale is orange (juice) and lime (juice), the flavours are fantastic together. We took a little trip down to my grandparents and got ourselves some citrus, a lot of citrus and here they are in this juice, making it fresh and vibrant!

I also added apples, I usually use Granny Smith but today I used a Gala apple. And of course bananas to make it creamy and smooth! Go easy on bananas when using though, because they can be pretty overpowering so unless its a banana based juice or smoothie, add a little at a time until you’re happy with the taste.

My choice of liquid, minus the citrus juices was coconut water. It’s naturally sweet and blends beautifully with vegetables. And my oh my is it a glorious fruit/nut! My grandparents are blessed with two huge coconut trees that provide us with a quick drink on a hot day on the farm; it takes almost nothing outta ya to poke down a few coconuts and chop them open for a thirst quenching drink.

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We had some laying around at home and it was only fitting that they go into my green juice. If you aren’t in coconut paradise like me, good ole water is an easy substitute.

We’re still milking our avocado trees and they just keep giving us more of that awesome fruit so I didn’t hesitate to make my juice even better with rich and creamy avocado; freshly picked and ripe!

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Make this juice at home yourself! Scroll down for the recipe!

Kale and Avocado Juice

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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This is a vibrant green juice that’s full of vitamins!

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups coconut water

1/2 cup orange juice

1 lime, juiced

3 cups kale (leaves)

1/2 a Gala apple or half a Granny Smith, sliced

1/2 a medium sized avocado

1 ripe banana, frozen and cut in pieces

Ice, as needed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. If using a high powered blender, add all the ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend until crushed. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
  2. If not using a high powered blender, add 1 cup of coconut water and the orange juice to the blender with 2 cups of kale. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining coconut water, the lime juice, apple slices, avocado and the rest of the kale. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add the frozen banana. Blend.
  5. Add ice and blend to crush. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
  6. Enjoy!

I hope you shine today!heart

Watermelon Smoothie, With a KICK!

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If it isn’t clear yet, I am desperately clinging on to the last few days of summer by making whatever summery foods I can. Today was no exception.

Here in Mandeville, it was a rather hot day and I needed to cool down with something refreshing. I decided to go with my watermelon smoothie recipe which I make from time to time, but never the same way; i always add something new or substitute an ingredient, it all depends on my mood. Today was was feeling spicy!

Natural juices have a special place in my heart, they are the only beverages I drink besides teas, the occasional cup or coffee, milk (of any kind) and of course water. I think its because the discovery of making my own natural juices marked the end of me consuming sugary drinks like sodas and juice from concentrate and subsequently led me to a healthier lifestyle… It was the first step I made into ‘healthville’ I suppose.

When I’m making juices, I choose the best ingredients I can find, often these are organic and farm fresh. They have got to be super ripe in the case of fruits like bananas and super fresh in the case of vegetables like kale. Ripe fruits add that sweetness and fresh veges ensure that the flavours are clean and come through effortlessly. A natural juice is not like a cooked meal, there isn’t much tweaking you can do to enhance flavour so quality ingredients are very important.

My watermelon supply is almost always from some family member or the other in St. Elizabeth who sends a couple melons or more at a time to us (we are so grateful, we love watermelon).

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Soon enough we will be able to pick watermelons from our vine in the back yard, but right now the plant is still too young to even think about blossoming.

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So you may be wondering what’s the kick in this recipe, well wonder no more. I give you, bird pepper:

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I don’t know the correct name for this pepper, it may or may not be a chili of sorts but here in Jamaica we call this little firecracker, bird pepper. Probably because birdies are keen to come nibbling on them. I use them in marinades for meats, I dry them and use them in Mexican inspired dishes and now here they are in my watermelon smoothie! If you can’t access bird peppers, chilis, de-seeded will work just fine in this recipe.

This recipe also calls for banana (frozen), to add sweetness, strawberries (frozen) which is optional (I don’t always add these), yogurt or almond milk, ginger and fresh mint. The almond milk or yogurt acts as a cooling element to combat the firey ginger and pepper and the mint brightens it all up. It really is the perfect summer drink.

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Check out the recipe below!

Watermelon Smoothie, With a Kick!

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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The perfect summer drink; refreshing, spicy and healthy!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups fresh, sweet watermelon, cubed and de-seeded

1/2 cup frozen strawberries, optional

1/2 frozen over-riped banana

1/2 cup cold almond milk or 3 tablespoons yogurt + 1/4 cup water

1 small knob of ginger, chopped

1/2 a bird pepper or 1 chili, de-seeded and chopped

5 mint leaves, plus more for garnish

Ice cubes, as needed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut all fruits to appropriate sizes for fitting into the blender.
  2. Add the fruits, milk/yogurt+water, ginger, pepper and mint to the blender.
  3. Blend on high until the drink looks smooth.
  4. Add a few ice cubes and blend again to crush the ice, making a frosty drink. Alternatively, add ice cubes to a glass and pour the smoothie over top.
  5. Serve with a sprig of mint and enjoy!

I hope you shine today!heart

What Exactly is Nature Nurture Food?

Or who is?… Hey! I’m Kristina and I started a blog, like many other people have, to share my thoughts and crazy ideas with the world. I see the world through the eyes of a chef who is absolutely spellbound by nature and so when I decided that I would start blogging, of course the topics food and nature stood out.

This blog will be all about healthy food with highlights of nature’s impact on food, on the way we eat and what we eat. I love food with full, clean flavours which almost always translates to a lot of spices and multiple squeezes of lime or lemon.

I was born and raised in Jamaica but I am Indian so don’t be alarmed when Indian inspired fare pops up from time to time. I’m still finding myself as a chef and my palate is always evolving and changing; sometimes I’m obsessed with making every meal time a bitter and sweet one, quite literally and other times, briny and salty show up for dinner every day. I suppose that is why I felt that this was the perfect time to start a blog. I’ll share my thoughts, you share yours and we all evolve, learn and grow! Happy cheffing.

I hope you shine today!heart