Monthly Archives: April 2012

Healthy bites for lunch box – raw and vegan!

  1. WE ARE WHAT WE EAT and that is why it is so important to only put the very best fuel into our bodies.
  2. Over two thirds of our plate (or our daily intake) should come exclusively from plant based food. Namely fruit, veg, carbohydrates and staple food like rice, grains, flours.
  3. We only need sugar in very small quantities and we should avoid added sugar in food such as sauces, bread, bought biscuits.

This is in three points the essence of the message I try to pass onto my children and family. They mostly take it in,  sometimes ignore it and rarely but otherwise expectedly rebel against it! So it was with glee on my part and relief on theirs that I recently was able to drill a slightly larger audience of fresh, open and eager minds!

Last wednesday, for the last session of the Healthy Cooking Club, I had a lot of fun designing a menu along those lines and as I was looking at including a sweet/pudding, I came across these fruit and nut balls. They are not only deliciously healthy but also very easy to make and gratifying for the children to roll . They can easily fit into a lunch box or can be used as snack on the go. They can be customised with an endless variety of dry fruit, nuts and even fresh fruits or seeds but here is the mix that I used for the photo:

Raw fruit balls

Ingredient list:

  • raisin, 1 cup
  • rolled oats, 1 cup
  • pecan nuts, 1/2 cup
  • ground almond, 1/2 cup
  • handful of pine nuts
  • dates, 1 cup
  • grated zest of one lime
  • Prune juice, 50 ml to bind
Process to a pulp, adding the juice along so that it helps binding the mix but do keep it touch dry. It must not get too sticky in your hands or rolling will not be such fun…
Now prepare three bowls : Fill one with raw unsweetened cacao, one with cinnamon and Allspice mixed with a little rice flour or cornflour and lastly one more with grated coconut.
Give latex gloves to the kids or oil your hands and take a marble size chunck of the mixture. Roll it lightly then dip into the covering you choose and roll into a ball. Remember your playdoh days! Modelling is so therapeutic it should be compulsory until A level… Dress on a pretty plate and enjoy – or reserve in clingfilm in the fridge.

For a real teatime treat, you could make yourself this amazing drink I discovered at TOMBO, japanese bistrot in South kensington: A frothy Macha latte with soya.
Recipe to come next!

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Pea, celery and mint soup

‘Pea, celery and mint soup’ is a seasonal and healthy recipe that I concocted at a recent Healthy Cooking Club with children aged 6 to 9 and I post it here ahead of the next session tomorrow because it has all the attributes I want my spring dishes to have: It is seasonal and healthy all right, but also light and warming at the same time and, more importantly, it is GREEN (my favourite colour). But let’s not forget its most endearing quality: you already have most of its ingredients in your cupboard and freezer, if not in your fridge!

 Ingredients:

  • Olive oil 1 tbsp,
  • 2 small chopped onions
  •  sea salt
  • garden peas 500g (frozen is fine)
  • celery, 3 stalks chopped
  • handful of mint
  • water

 Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the chopped onion and stir with a wooden spoon.

 Add the peas, celery and 1 cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil.

Add enough water  (500ml) to cover the vegetables and season with a little salt.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked : 15 minutes should suffice.

Stir in the mint, liquidize and serve.

Contact me for more information about The Healthy Cooking club for Children aged 7 to 14.

Simnel cake- An Easter baking lesson

A Simnel cake is a traditional fruit cake baked without raising agent and decorated with marzipan, that is served for Easter around England. I had never had one- let alone baked one- but the prospect sounded good enough to try.

Ingredients list:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  •   3 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 100g dates (chopped)
  • 425g mixed dried fruit (with or without peel)
  •  finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 450g marzipan

What to do:

Grease and line a 7″/18cm round cake tin. Cream butter and sugar until pale, beat in the eggs. Add the flour, cinnamon and lemon zest and fold in. Add the fruits and fold in, until the ingredients are well combined. Spoon half of the mixture into the cake tin.

Roll out half of the marzipan into a circle just smaller than the diameter of the cake tin (about 6.5″/17cm). Put this marzipan on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the rest of the mixture on top, and level the surface.

Bake at 150C for about 2.5 hours, until brown and firm to the touch. Cool in the tin and then turn out. Roll out the rest of the marzipan a cut out another circle, just bigger than the diameter of the cake. Spread a little warmed apricot jam over the top of the cake and stick the circle of marzipan on top.

My cake for Easter 2015

My cake for Easter 2015

Using the marzipan trimmings, make 11 small balls. Stick these on around the edge of the marzipan, using a dab of warmed apricot jam as ‘glue’.  Just before serving add chocolate eggs and Easter chicks on the top of the cake!

We made a Simnel cake during a session of the Healthy Cooking Club last week and it was decorated and instantly devoured by the crew! Here they are – with me in the chef hat!