Beetroot falafel

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My first falafel was at an Egyptian café in Brighton’s Kemptown in 1989! Was still to this day the freshest and most memorable taste.

This is a recipe I found years later from a superfoods recipe book given to me by my friend Ush in NZ. I make them regularly because you can have them as a plain snack or mix them with salads, pasta or wraps of any type.

IMG_0226Before placing the tray in the oven. Love the fact that you bake them and not fry them.

IMG_0229Mixed with quinoa pasta, wilted baby spinach and avocado. Coconut yoghurt tzatziki on the side.

IMG_0238A quick snack when starving.

IMG_0305Quinoa rice, wilted baby spinach, avocado and pomegranate seeds. Beetroot falafel optional.

Ingredients

1 tin of organic lentils

1 raw beetroot

juice of 1 lemon

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp oriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2-3 tbsp wholemeal bread-crumbs (I use gluten-free)

salt & pepper to taste

Process

Rinse the lentils and place in a bowl. Grate the raw beetroot and add the garlic using a garlic crusher. In a dry frying pan heat for 1-2 minutes the cumin and coriander seeds shaking the pan all the time until the spices release their aroma (do not burn)! Ground the spices using a spices & nuts grinder or pestle and mortar. In a blender mix the lentils, beetroot and spices. Place the mix in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs. Mix well with hands and form small walnut-size balls. Place them in the fridge for approximately 1 hour.

Bake them in a pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes at 180C.

Nutritious, filling and versatile.

Other possibilities

If making wraps you could use tahini yoghurt.  Add a couple of tbsp of tahini paste, the juice of 1 lemon, 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic to preferred choice of yoghurt. Mix well adding salt and pepper and thin with water to obtain a smooth sauce.

Raw vegan lunch

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This is a repetition I’m sure, is my favourite high protein, rich in minerals lunch especially in the summer months, even in London! First saw this at the Raw Chef’s website in 2015 and have been adding elements ever since. I tend to be satisfied with 2-3 wraps:)

Pink sauce

  • 1 raw beetroot – preferably organic
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup raw cushews
  • Salt – I use Himalayan pink salt in everything

Wrap

  • Nori – Clearspring is a good brand
  • Organic cucumbers
  • Alpha-alpha seeds
  • Organic watercress
  • Pink sauce

You can add as many ingredients as you like: carrots, spring onions, you can springle chia seeds – the choices are infinite. The original recipe only has alpha-alpha but I needed it to be more filling.

Note: I tried doing it using different nuts and frankly don’t bother. It works best with cashews!

Hokianga – New Zealand

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Emmy in Utthita Hasta Pandagustasana and Ush in Virabhadrasana B.

The Hokianga (Hokianga-nui-a-Kupe) is a very special place on the Western coast of New Zealand’s North Island. I return time and time again to absorb the unique beauty of the landscape, the feel of the warm, soft sand on my feet when up on the dunes some of which reach 170 metres high, the big expanse of cloud, sand and sea and the strong current leading out to the Tasman sea. The current here is so strong that back in 2005 it took the engagement ring off my finger. The landscape knew something before I did; a year later I found myself alone.

Sand boarding on the Hokianga dunes is among my favourite activities in New Zealand and only 3.5 hours from Leigh. In the summer months, a boat departs Opononi on the hour from 10am to 3pm. Boards are provided and unlike surfing on the 90-mile beach further up the coast, body surfing on Hokianga’s dunes secures a splash in the cool, turqoise sea.

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Emmy practicing Sirsasana.

A couple of years ago when me and my friend Toby were in a desperate need for a shower to remove all the sand before heading down to Auckland we came across the Globetrekkers lodge in Ōmāpere. Two years later, Emmy, Ush, Wyatt and I revisited and stayed for 2 nights in the only room available which happened to have 4 beds. It’s a charming BBH hostel with a communal kitchen, lounge and wonderful deck at the back surrounded by a secluded garden of trees and grapevines. Sue and Mike, mother and son team, are originally from Yorkshire and are the sweetest and friendliest hosts I have come across in NZ.

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Emmy, Ush and me in the middle

20 minutes drive from Opononi is the small town of Rāwene. Quirky and creative I always check out the galleries and the Boat Shed cafe where in 2005 I had coffee with mum and dad after visiting the Bay of Islands with Jo, my then husband. I stumbled across a new photographic gallery set up by NZ landscape photographer Tony Bridge. I liked all his images but one in particular took my breath away. I ended up buying it.

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The original title for this image was ‘Ngapuke’ refering to the 3rd (missing angel) of the Hokianga Harbour. After a discussion Tony had with a Maori healer they both decided to call it “Kaitiaki” which is a more open-ended interpretation of the concept of a guardian angel as opposed to being tied to a specific story.

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One of the other incredible reasons for visiting the Hokianga is the Waipoua forest where you can see the two oldest living Kauri trees in New Zealand:  Tāne Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere. Tane Mahuta is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. The forest was declared a sanctuary in 1952. We arrived to Hokianga via SH12 from Dargaville and briefly stopped to salute the big trees on the way in and the way out. The most common route and one I’ve done for years is to visit the Bay of Islands first which are on the East Coast and then cross over to the West coast and do Hokianga and Waipoua forest on the way back down to Auckland. It’s known as the twin coast discovery highway.

Useful links

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5 days in London

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This post documents a trail I followed with my cousin Iliana who visited me from Greece for the first time a week ago. She had 4 nights and 5 days. I hadn’t spent considerable time with her prior to her visit to know exactly what she’s like but I soon figured that she wasn’t too bothered visiting tourist sites and museums and was wide open to everything.

She came on a Thursday morning and left Monday evening. This is by far one of the best slots to be in London especially if you want to experience some of the many and colourful London markets. I live in London Bridge so a number of cool things were on my doorstep.

Locations and activities split by day:

Day 1: THURSDAY

Monmouth Coffeeshop at London Bridge, Borough Market (specific appeal to my cousin had the spice shop ‘Spice Mountain’ & the gluten-free cakes from ‘Free from Bakehouse’), Tate Modern. Walk along the Thames towards Tower Bridge and Shad Thames. Up the Shard on the 32st floor and steps down to the floor below where the bar is situated with panoramic views across London (don’t forget to visit the toilets). Dinner at Wagamama on Clink street.

Day 2: FRIDAY

Usual Monmouth Coffee ritual followed by Borough Market. Introduced Iliana to my Green Detox Smoothie  which became a staple throughout her stay and a must-have tonic before heading out for the day. In addition to the standard ingredients each day I used 1tbs of Maca powder, an Inca Superfood good for energy, hormonal balance, sexual health and ideal for relieving stress (physical, emotional or environmental). Walk from London Bridge (Clink street) along the Thames path to the South Bank Center and across the Embankment footbridge to the Strand and Covent Garden. Browsed shops on Long Acre and Neal street, Neal’s Yard and the beautiful Neal’s Yard Remedies shop. Pointed the vegetarian/vegan ‘Wild Food Cafe’ above ‘Neal’s Yard Remedies’ which specialises in raw food. Had sushi at ‘Itsu’ on Neal Street. Walked through Soho. Visited beautiful ‘Liberty’s’ and had a terrible coffee at their cafe – the important lesson of recognising the rarity of places like Monmouth coffeeshop and why the queues are so long! The architecture of the place, the display of all its merchandising, the Christmas shop are an explosion to the senses especially for someone stepping out of Greece. Walk to Oxford Street and into ‘Selfridges’. Walking through the beauty and make-up department I couldn’t fail to notice how her face suddenly lit up and how she longed to live and work in London for a while. Tube back home and dinner at my kitchen: made a simple spelt pasta dish (spagetti works best) with raw baby spinach, Greek goat’s feta, avocado, pomegranate seeds, and cherry tomatoes. I drizzled toasted sesame oil and Greek olive oil, squeezed a lemon and added generous amounts of cracked black pepper. We also had a beautiful selection of marinated olives with coriander, lemon and garlic we had earlier purchased from ‘Borough Olives’.

Day 3: SATURDAY

Usual Monmouth Coffee followed by Borough Market. More cakes for later:) We loved the gluten-free cardamon, pistachio and rose water cake and the white chocolate brownie with rasberries from ‘Free from Bakehouse’. Green detox smoothie and train from London Bridge to Sloane Square to walk down the King’s Road. Another lunch at ‘Itsu’ (we happilly acknowledged how addicted we both were to sushi and green tea). Train from Sloane Square to High Street Kensighton and the must visit to ‘Wholefoods’. This was a key visit to buy certain ingredients as well as experience a shop of this magnitude. Train back home. Cake, pop-corn and chat in the kitchen and then off to Covent Garden to see the musical ‘Matilda’. Over the years I have seen a number of West End musicals: ‘Cats’, ‘Les Miserables’ (with my mum), Miss Saigon (won’t ever forget the embarassing moment of walking in half-way with my sister Nina as the helicopter was landing on stage), ‘Chicago’ (walked out half-way with my parents), ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (saw twice), ‘Billy Elliot’ (loved, also seen with my sister Nina this time right from the beginning which was sensible) and many others. ‘Matilda’ which was highly recommended by my dear (Melbourne-based) friends Peter, Maree and India a couple of years ago, was the most unbelievable of all. The acting was impeccable (perhaps the red logo of the Royal Shakespear Company appearing next to the musical’s title may have something to do with it), the simplicity of the scenes yet developed with such wonderful attention to detail, the talent and energy of the performers were truly outstanding. We joined the others and gave them a standing ovation. After the show we walked up to Garrett street for a ‘Snog’:) Love the taste and texture of this frozen yoghurt machine-based ice-cream. They use agave instead of sugar and offer a number of toppings. I had classic chocolate with fresh rasberries. My cousin had half chocolate and half caramel. Can’t remember what toppings. We could have walked home along the Thames but took the tube instead as it was getting late and we had already walked a fair distance during the day.

Day 4: SUNDAY

Monmouth coffeeshop is sadly shut on a Sunday. I always have my cup of black filter Monmouth Finca Catalina each morning so was not an issue. After our green detox smoothy we walked from London Bridge to Spitalfields Market. We were too early and everything was shut so we headed to Redchurch street in Shorditch and had coffee and breakfast at ‘All Press’ (by that time we were becoming experts at getting a table in heavily crowded places). I felt homesick sipping my soya cappuccino and having avocado on toast; ‘All Press’ is a NZ brand and curiously I’m not a NZlander but nevertheless, felt homesick. We wondered Bricklane’s flee markets and some of the vintage shops (many of which were underground). Central Line from Liverpool street to Bond Street. Walk to Park Lane and bus to Knidgebridge. For someone who has never been to London a quick visit to Harrods especially after Bricklane does give you the full picture. We only stayed 15 minutes. Quick walk through the Food Hall and a rapid browse on the first floor glancing at the price tags of some amazing clothes. Flying visit to Harvey Nichols to buy a perfume they stock that I like called ‘Lights’ by a brand called ‘Roads’. Bus from Sloane street to King’s road (we could have easily walked but were too lazy and there was a light London drizzle) where we had yet again sushi at ‘Itsu’! Another wonder down the road and train back home. We made a raw chocolate cake in my kitchen with ingredients bought from ‘Wholefoods’ (this is the recipe I was taught during my “Wild Food Cafe ‘Wellness Immersion’ training). Dinner at ‘Brindesa’ Tapas Bar in London Bridge. For dessert we had our very own raw chocolate cake while watching a very average film about online dating.

Day 5: MONDAY

Usual Monmouth coffee where we had a sweet encounter with a little girl and her mum. She was very beautiful and chatty, drawing and writing her name on wooden spoons (she offered one to my cousin as a gift); it was one of a handful of occasions when I can sense and appreciate the wonders of motherhood. No green detox smoothy on Iliana’s last day so we headed straight to Bond street. Walk through the ever so elusive entry to St. Christopher’s Place to beautiful Marylebone High street. We were hoping to have breakfast at ‘La Fromagerie’ but was full so went to the ‘The Natural kitchen’ instead which was also lovely (my first freshly squeezed orange juice in ages which felt amazing). Bought a couple of books from ‘Daunts Books’ (‘Villa Triste’ by Nobel prize winner Patrick Modiano and ‘No picnic on Mount Kenya’ by Felice Benuzzi), browsed the beautiful ‘Conran Shop’ and a few others and then headed back towards the West End via South Molton street and New Bond Street all the way to Piccadilly Circus. For the grande finale we had high tea at the ‘Ham Yard Hotel’ before heading home to pack bags.

List of links

Wellness immersion weekend

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Buzzying from my raw food weekend workshop with the Wild Food Cafe team of Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden. The two inspirational days took place at a great cooking school inside a community hall on a street I had never walked up before in the 25 years I’ve been living in London. Is situated just off Old street at 90 Central street. There’s a great looking cafe right next to it which is connected to the hall.

We learnt how to make raw pizza with a number of toppings including macademia cheese, seaweed tartar and pesto, stuffed mayan avocado, sauerkraut, home made kale chips, raw chocolate cake and more. Joel fed us wild food and thoughts – a fountain of knowledge and a fantastic approach to wellness emphasising the importance of play and experimentation using our own bodies as the best barometer.

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Almond butter & mulberry fudge balls (dipped in raw chocolate) and coated with coconut flakes and goji berries

Aiste, his graceful and equally knowledgeable wife and the heart and soul of the Wild Food Cafe helped us out with each recipe and kept a good handle of time sweetly grounding Joel from his frequent flights to all things wild.

We received a booklet with numerous recipes I can’t wait to experiment with including useful information on super foods and wild foods in general some of which I had never heard or seen before. After the course they provided us with a wealth of resources from specialist shops to inspirational books & documentaries. Every single penny was worth spending on this training as the knowledge I have been receiving over the years from multiple and often conflicting sources is finally making sense.

These workshops are extremely well structured and fun. You are split into groups of 3 or 4 and prepare each recipe together. You label your food and consume it on the same or the following day depending on whether it requires dehydration or not.

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Raw chocolate cake

pizza

Raw pizza – base made with almonds and butternut puree, flax seed & spices

Upcoming Wild Food courses & events – London UK

Raw Food and Wellbeing Immersion (Christmas Edition) – 18th & 19th December 2016

Wild Food Birthday Celebration (Mind, Body & Spirit) – 9th of November  2016

 Free Wild Food Cafe e-book

Wild wellbeing free e-book (.pdf)

As Joel and Aiste would say: “Stay inspired, expansive, playful and curious”.

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Favourite Greek food

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There is one dish and its all important accessory that I rate among the highest pleasures in life to be consumed on a very specific spot on the Greek island of Skopelos:

  • Fava
  • White bread with crust

I have still made no attempt at making my own fava. I have made numerous times hummus but there is no comparison between the two. When prepared traditionally it is always served with onion, capers and lots of lemon. The texture is extremely smooth and is best eaten warm. I believe Sandorini does an amazing one too.

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fava

Molos Taverna – Skopelos island

Coffee & city guides

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At Coco di mama this morning on Leather Lane with my Allpress soya cap and newly acquired Copenhagen guide; I walked straight to my usual corner seat by the coffee cup light installation. Guides do get outdated quickly but they are so useful at the time of travel especially when recently published which is the case with this one by Cereal.

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I collected my copy from a stylish shop called  Luna & Curious on Calvert Avenue close to Arnold Circus in Shordtitch. I was heading to the Colombia flower market for my usual supply of eucalyptus branches. On the way back, I briefly stopped at All Press on Red Church Sreet. The tui, allpress coffee are some of the things that immediately transport me to New Zealand not that I have ever heard a tui in London or anywhere but New Zealand. Since J. Crew opened next door the coffee shop has shrank making it incredibly hard to find a seat. I managed to get a stool outside and repositioned it to face the sun. Squeezed the hydrangeas and eucalyptus leaves between my knees, placed the guide on my lap, cup on one hand and mobile on the other. ‘Avocadomad’ defined as ‘rye bread topped with avocado); I’m reminded of how much these small pleasures fill me with joy.

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Useful links

Cereal 

All Press

Coco di mama

Luna & Curious