Star Ingredient: Sunflower Seeds

Toasted sunflower seeds

I love sunflower seeds! They’re totally delicious and go well with so many things, both sweet and savoury. You can eat them raw or slightly toasted, which really brings out their nutty flavour.

Sunflower seeds come from sunflowers (no surprise there), and are naturally encased in a gray or black shell, which sometimes has stripes. If you want to grow sunflowers or sunflower shoots (which by the way are also delicious and nutritious), you will need them in their shells.

I buy them raw, shelled and by the kilogram from my local nut and seed supplier, Yellow Submarine, which is a lot cheaper than buying a small packet from a supermarket. You can also buy them ready-roasted at some retailers if you can’t be bothered to toast your own.

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Star Ingredient: Himalayan Crystal Salt

Himalayan crystal salt

You might be forgiven for thinking that pink salt is just another fad, only used by gourmets and food snobs. In fact, Himalayan crystal salt is a kind of super-food, chock-full of trace elements that our body really needs.

What’s wrong with ‘normal’ salt?

For years we’ve been told to cut down on salt, which is certainly a good idea if you’re using refined table salt. A nutritional expert I know once suggested that if there were two things you should chuck out of your kitchen right now, they would be refined table salt and margarine (note: I’ll be dealing with butter vs margarine in another post), and I completely agree. Continue reading

Tip: Using Left-overs

Herb salad with left-over spinach, beetroot and cranberry White Rock
Herb salad with left-over spinach, beetroot and cranberry White Rock

I get weirdly excited when I can use up a bunch of left-overs or small quantities of fresh food that were just a little more than I needed for the original dish. In fact, I often buy/cook more than I need so I can actually create left-overs and then use them in something else.

Examples of left-overs could be meat or chicken from a roast, rice, grilled veggies like sweet peppers, onions or aubergines, the dregs of a can of sweetcorn, the last bits of cheese, the end of a packet of mushrooms or baby spinach, or the last spoon of cream cheese. Obviously the key with many of these ingredients is not to leave them too long before you use them, and definitely sniff them beforehand! Continue reading

Star Ingredient: Coconut Oil

Solid coconut oil

I first heard about coconut oil when I attended a raw food course run by Soaring Free Superfoods a few years ago. It’s a key raw ingredient and is known as a ‘superfood’ as it’s so good for you. It’s not only for raw food ‘cooking’ though – it’s extremely versatile and I use it all the time in many different ways.

Coconut oil has been widely used in the East for thousands of years, but here in the West we have been lagging a bit behind (as usual with this sort of thing). For many years, we were told that all saturated fat is bad for us and causes high cholesterol. Research has now more finely tuned this information though and, as it turns out, it’s only long-chain saturated fat that’s harmful. Continue reading

Cheese Sauce

Cheese sauce is another one of those most versatile recipes that you can use in so many different ways – in lasagne, moussaka, cauliflower cheese, welsh rarebit, as a sauce for meat or other veg, as a base for a soufflé, and the list goes on… (Watch this space for some of those recipes, by the way.)

You can also leave out the cheese completely and just use it as a plain white sauce, or flavour the white sauce in many different ways e.g. add more mustard to make a mustard sauce, or fresh soft herbs like parsley and basil, or sautéed mushrooms, or tomato paste, and again, the list goes on… Continue reading

Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is a staple ingredient it’s handy to have in your freezer at all times – there are just so many ways to use it! Yes, you can buy stock cubes or even liquid stock these days but making your own is so much more satisfying, plus it gives you a way to use up all the left-over bits of chicken bones and bendy carrots in your fridge. Continue reading