There’s something so satisfying and wonderful about creating a bowl of food to share, that people can dig into and load their plates with, delicious wholesome fare that will give them everything they need. Sharing a central bowl is my new favourite thing to do, it truly makes me so happy! It’s so social and complete, especially when there is plenty to go around and also when the food keeps well and any leftovers make happy grazing later. We enjoy making this quinoa nourish bowl so much!
‘CLEAN EATING’ WHOLE FOODS
There’s been a lot of talk criticising ‘clean eating’ and wellness apparently. Should I respond? At first I thought not, journalists are paid to create drama and strong one-sided opinions, which can be in a quite judgemental and uncompassionate way, but also it’s good not to be reactionary and to listen and learn and always strive to be responsible. All the bloggers I enjoy and recommend in my resources (and many more) are inspirational people who do a great job of sharing their passion for wonderful healthy food. I haven’t come across anything else really, just a skill and enthusiasm for great food in many different forms. Some people find a diet without bottled oils suits them, and they get their fats straight from nuts and seeds and feel better for it. Some eat a low carb diet, others a high carb diet and lots of workout fuel, there’s a diet of raw foods, or high in raw foods, many of us have a sweet tooth and whip up fantastic refined sugar free creations that would compete with any dairy, egg or white sugar packed treat. It is so so varied, and we all have different tastes and needs and reactions to foods. One thing we share is that we all need to eat nutritious food to be as well and strong as we can be. That is what a plant-based diet is about. We live all over the world too, different climates, different indigenous practices and foods. It’s a tapestry! And we must remember that our relationship to food is so easily not straightforward, it is a very complex multi-faceted area of life, especially in this modern world of high-anxiety and plenty.
On ‘clean eating’, it’s not a term I use really but I understand why people do, it represents a desire to eat healthily and to describe foods free from chemicals and over-processing etc. It is very easy to use such terms, especially on the internet and when blogging as they are popular, but when you think about it from another perspective the term clean (and so unclean), though not used as such purposefully necessarily, are inherently critical, divisive, and painfully loaded, the concepts of clean and unclean are worrying and do make you think of anxiety about food and about identity too. Whole food is a far more useful term I think, and that is what healthy eating is about, eating a varied and balanced diet of mostly foods in as natural a state as possible is the healthiest way to eat. Eat fermented foods, a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. Enjoy your food!
eat the whole food rainbow
Fruits, vegetables, leaves, seaweeds and other plants, pulses, seeds, nuts, fats, herbs and spices, (and flowers too if that rocks your boat!), soaking and sprouting pulses, grains, pseudo-grains and nuts, eating fermented prebiotic foods, and probiotic foods to nourish our gut heath and improve our general health, present and future, this is the way to eat well. Cake’s okay too. Other people eat meat and dairy, I don’t for ethical and health reasons, but I’m sure you can eat a balanced diet doing so it is just not my choice. Eating a plant-based diet is far easier to digest and increasingly popular for very real reasons. I’m a life-long lacto-vegetarian and lactose-intolerant, and these days I don’t eat honey so my diet is vegan (though I’m not finitely adverse to raw locally sourced honey if it comes my way as it is so packed with goodness and healing enzymes that I am in need of). As a vegan or vegetarian nutrition is very important, even more so being a coeliac as we don’t absorb nutrients well. If you don’t eat dairy for example you must make sure you eat plenty of calcium. Sesame (tahini), leafy greens, chickpeas, soya, fortified foods among others are all excellent sources. Also B vitamins, if we don’t eat animal products we must make sure we get enough B vitamins, from many fortified foods such as nut milks, supplements, nutritional yeast is an excellent source and also seaweeds such as spirulina. And it is so important to understand that
by eating a balanced diet of mostly whole foods we make it easier to digest the nutrients from our food.
Another criticism of plant-based eating is that it is elitist and expensive, this is one-sided but it is true that some plant-based food trends are more expensive, organic foods, strictly gluten-free foods, non-refined sugars, cacao, some flours, nuts etc. aren’t cheap. Eating fair-trade often isn’t cheap either, but eating meat, cheese etc. is also expensive, often more so, unless you’re eating very cheap processed foods with very little nutritional value. Many processed foods, ready meals, convenience goods are expensive too. Eating out is expensive, buying regular coffees, alcohol etc. is expensive. And over-eating is expensive too. This often happens when you eat foods that are processed, refined and lacking in nutrients, you crave more food, and not the right foods either. Eating whole foods that satiate and give you better quality nutrients and energy for longer is actually not more expensive, and it can be as basic or as fancy as you like. It is all about priorities and perception, and also where you buy food. Buying health foods doesn’t have to break the bank. Buy from online wholesalers, from health food shops own brands (they buy in bulk and pass on savings). We can also eat simply, live off pulses, simple grains and pseudo-grains, seeds, vegetables and fruit, we can forage where we can, grow our own vegetables, mushrooms and herbs according to our means. Or, we can eat goji berries, baobab powder, cherries out of season and deli globe artichokes everyday. Or something other or in between. Live within your means and to your taste and needs and don’t feel bad about not being able to have what you can’t afford. Usually the more expensive foods are imported and not necessary to eat to be healthy, they’re just fun to try. In our household we live on a pretty tight budget and a large proportion of our income goes on food, a part of this cost is that I must have everything strictly gluten and dairy free and made in an environment with no lactose or gluten and this need does come at a price, (but it also means that I eat less processed foods, which are expensive). Many foods are real treats to us that are pantry staples to other people, we tend to eek things out and we make just about everything ourselves from scratch. My favourite foods are the fruit and vegetables from my organic box, which are very reasonably priced (and just fantastic and life-changing!). Avocado’s. Dates. And buckwheat bread toast and tahini, with buttery vegan margarine (some people would be aghast at this, I don’t care! I do. I don’t!!), and with or without cucumber, I could live off it! Chocolate. I could actually go on and on and on I shouldn’t have started this! Dan’s favourite food is jam tarts and traditional miso soup. The other way around and with a long gap in-between.
On the subject of wellness, I too don’t like corporate anything really, organisations take such words and flog them to death, they manipulate their meaning and make it all so cringey and dreadful and fake it makes you want to puke. But as far as I am concerned wellness isn’t about food per se, it is about enabling ourselves and each other to get the most out of life, part of which is being healthy, an important part of which is eating well. I have complex health issues, and in my blog I speak of this and share links to pages with information on different terms and their meanings so that if you want you can learn more, if you need to and are interested it is a resource. I speak openly of how I feel, that life is often a real struggle, and of the joy and improved quality of life that the food I eat brings me. I live (and physically write this blog) with the support of my husband. I want to share my experience to weave the tapestry of human experience, to help myself and others cope. To promote wellness is my objective, in myself and in others. Chronic health conditions, autoimmune disorders and their complications are on the rise. I’ve had a whole (mother) load dumped on me, I want to share how I cope, and so how we can all cope with life’s challenges. Realistic, positive thinking, striving to be the best we can be (and to cut ourselves and others some slack too), surrounding ourselves with people who genuinely care and have our best interests at heart, living mindfully, letting go of negative emotions and ideas, exercising, getting out and enjoying the natural world, learning, and eating a nutritious diet of whole foods are how I do this. The anti-inflammatory diet I share in The Whole Food Rainbow has improved my quality of life so so much by reducing the pain I live with and helping me manage my health and keep positive balanced and strong. It’s fantastic!
Read my tips on sustainable weight loss here.
treat yourself well in every way ♥
Today’s recipe is for a gorgeous, whole food, balanced dish, a quinoa nourish bowl that everyone can enjoy. Quinoa is a super food pseudo-grain as it is a balanced protein with omega 3 and 6, it’s light, fluffy, packed with nutrients, carbs and so versatile. It’s a wonder food (of the Gods). And I have never enjoyed it so much as paired with my preserved lemons, they are just such a happy pairing and I have to say, the lemons have only improved with time, I made them a few months back and they’re really good!! They’re such a lovely extra special food to have on hand, cheap and easy to make, they keep indefinitely in the fridge and have so much flavour and goodness in them they’re wonderful! Paired with olives of any variety, the sweetness of sautéed onion and quinoa with the salty sour of preserved lemon and olives is such a great combination.
and purple sweet potato!!!
I saw them in the green grocers (we get most of our fruit and vegetables from our delivered organic box but I often nip into my local green grocers for some extras! And you can see why!) and I was just THRILLED!!!!!! I mean just look at them they’re fantastic! We had been reading about making Japanese sweets with them, so it was on our minds and then there they were!
There’s a perfumed fragrant flavour to the purple sweet potato, and then also they’re very much like a ‘normal’ potato in this dish, which was a good surprise for me as I can’t eat nightshades anymore (and love them!). I think that has a lot to do with simmering them first before roasting, it fluffs them up and makes them good for roasting. Sesame adds crunch and flavour.
The mint white bean (I have used cannellini) dip was a really great invention for me, as I usually go for strong flavour of garlic and citrus in a dip and this is beautifully mellow and buttery with a subtle mint flavour. It’s just gorgeous food and I’m totally smitten with it now. It’s soothing and just delightful to eat. It’s great as a dip or a spread on toast or crackers and goes beautifully with other mild, cooling foods like cucumber.
The roast wet garlic is also smooth and mild and just so much fun to eat, popping them out in your mouth or fingers is playful, a bit messy and so much fun! I’m such a fan of roasting garlic, it satisfies that primal memory somehow, being a hunter-gatherer. And it transforms the garlic into a new vegetable.
This quinoa nourish bowl is delicious cold or warm, it serves up to six, so if you’re a smaller group then it makes delicious food for the whole day that you can graze on or have for supper (with hot buttered toast and tahini ♥).
- WHITE BEAN MINT DIP
- 2 1/2 cups cooked white beans, I prefer cannellini
- 1 tsp ground red peppercorn
- 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
- 3 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar, or other sweet vinegar such as coconut, (or less of a sharper vinegar with a little added sweetness)
- 2 tbsp loose tahini, less if thick
- bunch of mint leaves
- dash of liquid if needed, such as water or nut milk
- LEMON QUINOA
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 1/3 cups water
- 1/2 a preserved lemon, more for stronger flavour.
- approx 10 strong olives such as kalamata
- 1 large onion, sauteed
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Mild olive oil for sauteing
- salt, to taste
- SESAME SWEET POTATO
- 2 med/large sweet potato, purple or other variety
- 2 tbsp flour, buckwheat or gram or a mixture of whole flours are good
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds
- oil for roasting, I use mild olive oil or mild coconut oil
- ROAST GARLIC
- 2 garlic bulbs, large cloved variety are best
- dash of oil
- sprinkle of salt, to taste
- 2 large carrots
- 1/2 large cucumber
- lemon juice, optional
Blend until smooth and serve. Improves when left to sit but delicious straight away. Add more or less mint depending on your taste, 10 large leaves gives a delicate flavour more gives more pungency. Add a little water or nut milk if it needs loosening, to your taste.
Rinse 1 cup of quinoa, add to 2 1/3 cups of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins or so with the lid on, until the kernels are separating, and then leave to sit off the heat with the lid on for 15 mins until fluffy and cooked. Take the lid off and leave to cool.
Finely chop and saute the onion with olive oil and salt on a low heat with the lid on for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally, until browning and sweet. Chop the olives. Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon and chop into small pieces.
Add the quinoa, lemon and olives to the onions and stir through, and transfer to your serving bowl.
The quinoa is very good the next day as the flavours really mellow so you could add more lemon too.
Mix the flour, sesame seeds, a dash of water, 1/2 tsp or so of salt. the oil and add a dash of water to form a paste.
Wash, peel (or mostly peel), chop into chunks, bring to the boil and simmer the sweet potatoes for 5-10 mins or so to soften, which makes a fluffier potato. Coat the sweet potatoes in the flour and seed mixture and transfer to an oiled baking tray and a hot oven in the middle. Turn a few times while they are cooking to make sure they cook evenly, baking for 30 mins or so, until crisping.
I have used wet garlic, you can use any variety, lots of the larger cloved French varieties are very good roasted, such as Rose garlic. Chop off the end, coat in a little oil and a sprinkle of salt and bake on a med/ high heat. I add to the sweet potato pan 10 mins or so before the potatoes are ready, I like them still white, they are lovely browned and cararemised also but prone to bitterness so don't over do them and be careful not to burn as sizes and oven heats vary. When the papery skin is browning they will be done.
Wash and slice the carrot and cucumber into sticks shortly before serving, coat in a lemon juice if leaving longer
If you like a lower calorie dish or prefer not to use oils then you can leave them out, coat the potato in a little tahini instead of oil and saute the onion in water, adding more olives, a milder variety mixed with strong is good. It's up to you, let me know how you get on I'd love to hear!