Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Green Tea and Ginger Oatmeal

I've mentioned before on this blog that I don't like the taste of green tea if I'm drinking it. However, I do love all the healing aspects of green tea with its high antioxidant levels, EGCG, anti cancer effects, anti-inflammatory effects etc etc and so I try to cook with it instead of drinking it.

I often boil my rice or quinoa or other grains in water with matcha green tea powder, or use green tea bags in the water. I make a green buddha bowl that I love.....but lately I've been wondering about how else I could incorporate it in my cooking - and I came up with the idea of adding it to my oatmeal water!

Ta Da!  Green Tea and ginger oatmeal was born!  Yes, it has a green tinge to it - but I - and you can get over that!

Its tasty but doesn't taste of green tea! The whole idea.

Here is how I made it:

1 cup water
1 tsp matcha green tea powder or 2 green tea teabags
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used gluten free)
2 tablespoons of ground flax seed
Ginger pieces - to your taste
1/4 cup goldenberries

Add the matcha tea or tea bags to the water in a small saucepan and bring to just below a boil.  Remove the teabags if using.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 5 - 10 minutes.  The flax does thicken it so if you prefer runny oatmeal, add some more water.

Serve with additional fruit or ginger on top and non dairy milk, if you choose.  (The ginger I used was rehydrated dried ginger - I just keep some in water in the fridge or you can use crystallized and wash off the excess sugar.)

And to think for my breakfast, I've started the day with the omega 3 fats that I need from the flax seed, plenty of fiber and vitamins from the oats, the healing benefits of green tea, anti-inflammatory effects of ginger, anti oxidants from golden berries...and its only 8am!!!

Hope your new year starts are well as my day has started today.  Wishing you a happy, healthy, and hopeful 2014. xxxx

Saddest Citrus Post of the Year

Sorry to end the year with a sad post....but it'll make the first New Year even happier.

What's up? Got any lemons?

While we were away in England in November, the temperatures really dropped.  Apparently it went lower than 19 F which is very unusual for Northern California. We've not seen it anywhere close to that in our 10 years here.

Sadly, it destroyed our citrus.  We are worried that it may have done more than just ruin our enormous crop of citrus, as some of the trees themselves look dead too. I guess time will tell.

Dead lemons from just one tree, below

Sometimes we have had frost damage to the fruit, but this year, it was more than frost - it was the cold temperature generally.

We stripped the trees of ruined fruit as we couldn't stand looking at them - and threw away 2 wheelbarrows full :-(
Frozen lemons and limes

Lemons, limes and some oranges.  It seems the mandarinquat and grapefruit are tougher than the rest!

Limes and its frozen tree

We've also had burst pipes - including the fire sprinkler system and the lovely faucet on our outdoor bathtub.   But maybe its worth it to show you these wonderful photos of Max in the bathtub last year!  We'll have to get the faucet repaired before he comes back!

What's that I see?

Lets hope 2014 is a gentler citrus year!

But never fear.  Even though we had a sad day collecting ruined fruit, Everything is Tickety-boo in the citrus front as my friend bought me an Australian Finger Lime tree so I can have citrus caviar!  Luckily I got it after the cold and so it is still indoors, and well protected!  Thanks K for my lovely gift. Can't wait to have my caviar!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Christmas Gift to you

And if you doubt the power of a hug from a blog or facebook, read my post from last December 
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Literary Group Luncheon

I hosted our bookclub luncheon last week ....ooops ....I mean Literary Group. We decided a while ago that the title of Literary Group was far more fitting for us than just a regular "bookclub!

You may recall seeing our special luncheon guests in this blogpost.

As well as Rudolph and his friends, I had fun decorating the table too, as you can see below:

Even Rudolph got dressed up with a red bow did the bookclub members with crowns etc!:

It was a fun day. Lovely to spend time sharing food, wine, books, and friendship.

White Christmas

There's no chance of a white Christmas up here in Northern California. In fact the days are lovely and sunny and we sat outside for lunch yesterday.

But it wouldn't be Christmas without some thoughts of snow..... and what better way to do that than by watching my favorite Christmas carol you tube.  Still makes me laugh, every year:

 "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas"

Here are a few more "white Christmas" ideas to help get you through the day (- photos via Monica):

 Remember to relax and be playful

If you need to get a way for break, find a good hiding spot 

Prepare your strategy carefully for Christmas games

Don't forget to phone those special people

Enjoy time playing with the kids

Hoping you have a wonderful Christmas
lots of love
Ruth xxx
Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rudolph and friends

Look who's coming to lunch tomorrow:

Rudolph......... and his buddies

Oh yes, plus my book club friends - so we can all celebrate our Christmas lunch together!  Think its going to be a fun day!

I'll have to take their photos too and see how photogenic we all are!

Looks like we might need some soft food for the reindeer! What do you think?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cherry Walnut squares with chocolate drizzle

In the cooking park of my classes last week, I wanted to make a nice treat that included some omega 3 fatty I adapted a recipe I got from Dr Fuhrman's latest cookbook " Eat to Live Cookbook".   I definitely recommend the book.  I often use his recipes.

He used equal amounts of walnuts and almonds in his recipe (1 cup of each) , but I tried it just with walnuts.   You get a much higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats if you use all walnuts, but choose for yourself.  Also, I love Montmorency dried cherries, so included those instead of goji berries.

What I love about these squares is that they live in the freezer and you just pull them out as you want one. They don't get too hard so you can eat them straight out of the freezer - or else you could warm them or let them defrost - but I doubt if you can resist it that long!

Its a tasty treat with omega 3 fats, good soluble fiber from oats, anthocyanins and antioxidants from the cherries, along with melatonin to help sleep/circadian rhythm, dates and banana for sweetness instead of refined sugar and just a little drizzle of  good quality chocolate - that makes it feel quite decadent.

Here's my recipe:

1 1/2 cups old fashioned/rolled oats (I used gluten free)
2 cups walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup water
1 banana
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used Eden's Montmorency cherries but any dried fruit/berry will work)
1 ounce >75% cocoa dark chocolate (I used Equal Exchange Panama Extra Dark 80% chocolate)

  • In a blender or processor, blend the oats until they look like flour.  Empty into a mixing bowl.  
  • Repeat with the walnuts, but don't over-process or they will start to release their oils and turn into nut butter.  Add to the bowl with the oat flour.
  • Put the dates and water into a high speed blender and process until it forms a slurry.  Add the banana and continue to blend until smooth and not large pieces of dates are evident.
  • Add the date mixture to the oats and walnuts and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla and cherries.

  • Line a 8 inch square cake pan with foil or parchment - with overhang so you can easily pull the whole thing out.  Put the dough into the pan and spread evenly.  Smooth the top by using a knife or back of a spoon, dipped in water.
  • Place in the freezer for approx 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the chocolate, broken into pieces, in a small bowl, and set over a larger bowl of hot water to melt the chocolate. Take care not to get water into the chocolate.
  • When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the dough from the freezer and lift it out whole on the parchment paper.  Cut the block into 36 small squares ( you can do larger if you like, but you'll find just one small square quite satisfying).  Don't lift them off the parchment - keep them in place.
  • Using the small spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the whole block of the dough in diagonal lines.
  • Return to the freezer, wrapped in the parchment or place in a container and store in the freezer, for a guilt free snack.  

The recipe is gluten free (if you use gluten free rolled oats), oil free, refined sugar free, vegan and tastes like a nice treat.   Health benefits come from the omega 3 fatty acids, the fiber, anthocyanins, cinnamon,  cocoa.......  
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The power of connection

Lovely illustration and animation that demonstrates the difference between empathy and sympathy. Let's all make a goal to connect with someone today.
From Brene Brown and Katy Davis.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Roasted leek and hemp hummus

I led a class about essential fatty acids today. One of the recipes was for an oil free hummus which incorporated hemp seeds as a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.  It was very well received - definitely yummy and healthy.

In addition to the hemp, there were leeks in there too. How many of you cook with leeks?  They seem such an under-utilized member of the allium (onion) family.  Leeks are such a good alternative to onions or shallots, especially as they are much easier to prepare and don't cause tears. Why don't we use them more? We should try to eat something from the allium family every day, so swap things around.  Leeks have that great oniony taste and all the health benefits of onions. Buy some this week and give them a go.  Instead of peeling them, you just slit them in half, lengthways and wash out any dirt that may be between the layers. Then just slice them up and use as you would onions or shallots.  No more crying. :-D

Since we got back from the UK, we've been surrounded by leeks. We had leaks in our water filter with water gushing out everywhere, we've had leaks in our fire sprinkler system, we've had leaks in our community well.  Hopefully, as things come in threes, that will be it...but I got the message and decided it was time for some leek recipes!!

In this recipe, I roasted the leeks in the oven for a while and then added them to the hummus which gave it a great flavor.

Sadly, I forgot to take photos of the finished product and it was eaten up quickly! Anyhow, I'm sure you know what hummus looks like! Here's the recipe:


1 cup leeks, sliced
Spray Can of coconut oil
1 can/carton of cooked organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup hemp seeds
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove
Pinch black pepper
4 tablespoons water

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
  2. Line a baking sheet/tray and place the chopped leeks on the tray. Spray with a little coconut oil and roast for 20 minutes, checking along the way to make sure they don't burn.  Remove from the oven and let them cool
  3. Meanwhile, combine the chickpeas, hemp seeds, lemon juice, garlic clove, pepper and water in a blender.  Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary
  4. Add the roasted leeks and puree again.  Depending on how you like your hummus consistency, you may want to add another tablespoon of water. 
  5. Cool in the fridge and serve
As well as using this as a dip or on bread or crackers, you can dilute it with non-dairy milk and use it as a sauce for roasted veggies or as a salad dressing.  Once you've tasted it, you'll come up with ways to use it - maybe even eating it straight out of the bowl!

Hope the green and white leeks are the only leeks you get :-D
Monday, December 9, 2013

Enjoy life

What a great philosophy!
Open the gate today.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Eighteen Years

Today John and I are celebrating being married for 18 years.  And they have been 18 happy years, full of love and adventures.

We got married in Barbados in 1995.  Wish I had some photos to share with you but I'm still in England so don't have any that far back!

Anyhow, thank you John for making my life so full of love and joy.  Can't wait for the next 18. I love you xxxxxx
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Health Benefits of Passion Fruit

I am excited to say we have tasted our first home-grown passionfruit this week - just in time before heading back to England for a couple of weeks.

I was very fortunate in that one of my Food as Medicine classes gave me a gift voucher at the end of their season of classes and so I bought some edible plants for our garden - including our passion fruit vine.

The vine has thrived and the fruits are just ripening now.  They fall off the plant, all round and solid looking but then you have to leave them at room temperature to wrinkle and ripen further.  They are larger than any passion fruit I have ever seen for sale.

Freshly picked on the left, and two day wrinkles on the right!

It was tricky waiting for the first one to wrinkle....but we did! Then I cut it in half one morning and put the seeds on my homemade granola.  So sweet and full of flavor.

We are just eating them 'as is'. No need to do anything at all with them - just enjoy them, full of exotic flavors.

However the biggest fan in our house has to be Harold, our parrot.  He just adores passion fruit.  I put the nearly empty half in his cage after I'd eaten most of it and left just a couple of seeds - oh, he was ecstatic!!! All you could hear were little crunches and happy noises from him!   We've left strict instructions with his pet sitters to give him treats of his passionfruit while we are away!

Unripe passionfruit
Passionfruit are basically just seeds with a gelatinous pulp coating.  This means that they are are great source of fiber - so don't strain them just for the juice - enjoy the crunch too.  Passion fruit also contain high levels of carotenoids - at least 13 different carotenoids - which are particularly good for our vision and skin.

They are also rich in vitamin C - an antioxidant - especially when freshly picked and the nutrients are at their peak level.   Surprisingly, they are also a good source of iron and have a somniferous properly, so if eaten before going to bed, help us relax and get a restful night's sleep.

No wonder Harold had a nap after breakfast!!!

I also love that its a winter/late fall fruit when most other things are all done with fruiting!  So get out there and grown a passion fruit - or buy some now from the farmers market or supermarket , while they are in season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baked Oatmeal to go

I often hear people tell me that they eat oatmeal some mornings for breakfast but when they are in a rush, they often choose something less healthy and sustaining.  "Why not try baked oatmeal?" I say - so today's recipe is an easy grab and go baked oatmeal.  Make it at the beginning of the week and you have nearly a week's worth!

This recipe was also good timing for me as we leave today to go back to England for a couple of weeks.  I always take my own food on the plane so I have been thinking what to take for my in-the-air breakfast. I figured if  I baked my oatmeal in muffin cases, they would work perfectly!

And voila!  I also used up some of my quince puree too before we leave - but if you don't have quince, you can use unsweetened applesauce instead.  This quince oatmeal to go is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and with no added sugar or fat.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 banana broken/chopped into little pieces
1/8 cup flaxseeds (whole or ground)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs cardamom powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup non dairy milk
1/4 cup quince puree or apple sauce/puree

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spoon into 7 muffin cases in a muffin pan.  Bake at 375F for 35 minutes.

To serve - just grab and enjoy if you are on the go or if you do happen to be at home, you can break one up in a bowl and pour over some extra warm non-dairy milk. Store in the fridge.

(Bet you end up having them not just at breakfast time!!! I've got to make sure I don't eat them all before I fly off.)

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