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Sweet Potato Chilli with Chunky Guacamole


I was a little worried about posting this recipe in May, it seemed far too wintery, but as the rain comes down, I think I might just get away with it!!

A great meal in a bowl, this veggie chilli is comfort food at its best.  Packed full of bright coloured vegetables, its a perfect midweek supper that helps to up your daily intake of veg.  The guacamole, written as a separate recipe here is the perfect, and in my mind essential, accompaniment to the chilli, to not only give balance of flavour but nutritional balance too.  Since I’ve been making my own guacamole I’ve become a complete convert.  This chunky version is a far cry from the tubs of smooth guacamole available in supermarkets and the flavour is so much fresher and really packs a punch!  Obviously the guacamole can be used aside from this recipe as a dip, served alongside summer barbecues, as an accompaniment to grilled fish, to top a big summer salad or as a filling for a wrap. The list could go on and on!!

This recipe was developed to help boost, maintain and support good digestion.  You can find out the health benefits of some of the ingredients in the Chilli and Guacamole at the end of the recipe.

I’ve made this dish quite mild so the whole family can enjoy it. Spice it up with a little more chilli if you like the heat!

Serves 4

For the Sweet Potato Chilli

2tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 sweet potatoes, about 450g total weight

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1tbsp tomato puree

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp paprika

1⁄2 tsp dried oregano

125ml vegetable stock

salt and pepper

400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Chunky Guacamole (recipe below) and chopped fresh coriander to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, celery, red pepper and carrot. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for a further 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly dice the sweet potato into small chunks. Add to the saucepan with the chilli and continue to cook for a further 2-3minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree, spices,
oregano, stock and season well. Bring to the boil, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until
the vegetables are beginning to soften.


Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to the chilli. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender and the sauce is rich and thick.

Adjust seasoning and serve in bowls with a generous spoon full of guacamole and a sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander.


For the Chunky Guacamole

2 avocados

1 very small red onion

1 red chilli

2 tomatoes

small bunch fresh coriander juice of 1 lime

juice of 1-2 limes

olive oil

salt and pepper


Halve the avocado, remove the stone and scoop out the flesh. Roughly chop and place in a bowl.P1010264 Peel the onion and finely chop. Deseed and finely chop the chilli and add these to the avocado. Quarter the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and finely chop the flesh. Roughly chop the coriander and add to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add 2tbsp lime juice, 1tbsp olive oil and plenty of seasoning.
Gently stir the ingredients together. Taste, adjust the seasoning adding a little more lime juice if necessary. Keep covered until ready to serve with the Sweet Potato Chilli.


Health Benefits 

Red onion

Onions contain a compound called inulin, which has prebiotic properties. A prebiotic will support growth and development of the good bacteria in the gut. These good bacteria will help to regulate many aspects of gut health from gut contractions, repair of the gut wall, help digest carbohydrates and support to the body’s immune system. Maintaining the integrity of the good bacteria in the gut will help to ease bloating and constipation. If bad bacteria are dominant in the gut, they begin to ferment gut contents causing uncomfortable gas, which quickly leads to bloating. 


Chillis have been shown to stimulate and enhance digestion and reduce symptoms of indigestion. (Murray, Pizzorno, Pizzorno 2006) 


Cumin is another spice with beneficial carminative properties. The essential oil it contains helps to relax the gut wall, reduce the production of gas and help release any gas already trapped. This has the benefit of relieving the discomfort of bloating. (Murray, Pizzorno, Pizzorno 2006)

 Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are very high in fibre which, when combined with water will swell and trigger stretch receptors in the gut wall to contract. This peristaltic action will help things to move along and will ultimately ease elimination of waste products from the bowel. Sweet potatoes are also a great prebiotic. They contain a polysaccharide, which helps support and encourage growth of good bacteria in the gut. A rich and diverse range of good bacteria will support digestion, repair damage in the lining of the gut wall and help regulate gut contractions, keeping digestive matter moving along. The right balance of good bacteria will help prevent digested matter being fermented by bad bacteria, which releases uncomfortable gas resulting in bloating. 

Kidney Beans

Beans are one of the best sources of soluble and insoluble fibre. They contain a polysaccharide that is fermented by the good bacteria in the gut. You may feel this as one of the common after effects after eating beans! However in this instance the resulting effect is increasing the population of good bacteria in the gut, which in the long term, is what we are aiming for. Their high fibre content also creates a bulk to the gut contents, stimulating the stretch receptors to contract the gut wall. The resulting peristaltic action keeps things moving along the dietary tract, easing and helping to avoid constipation. However it is worth mentioning again the importance of drinking enough water along side this high fibre food to avoid exacerbating the effects of constipation.

Carrots, celery, avocado, tomato, red pepper

Including a wide variety of colourful vegetables in the diet will support digestive health by increasing the intake of fibre rich foods to maintain peristaltic action in the gut with the aim to keep the contents moving and avoid the build up of uncomfortable gas and bloating. A diet rich in vegetables will also supply the body with an increased variety of vitamins, mineral and phytochemicals to help keep the body functioning efficiently and keep the body digesting food effectively. 

Pinnock/D Medicinal Cookery,. UK, 2015, Robinson.   Dr Murray/M. Dr Pizzorno/J. Pizzorno/L. 2006 The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods. Reprint Great Britain, Piatkus.

Beetroot & Lentil Salad with Goat’s Cheese Dressing


This ‘go to’ salad is perfect for a super quick lunch and is substantial too, so will keep you full through the afternoon, but it doesn’t end there!! It makes a great vegetarian starter and could be served as one of a selection of salads for a larger meal.  Why not spoon some into a container when you want to take lunch on the go!  It’s so quick to make and for a great short-cut, I often use the little pouches of cooked organic beetroot you can buy, they’re such a good stand-by, just be sure not to pick up pickled beetroot by mistake!

The goat’s cheese dressing is so delicious, you don’t need to keep it just for this recipe.  With the warmer weather and longer days our thoughts change to summer foods, lighter dishes and the anticipation of all the new seasons produce that spring and summer can bring. Try the dressing on barbecued or griddled vegetables, such as aubergine, peppers and courgettes. It would make a perfect accompaniment to steamed or barbecued asparagus, look out for fresh British asparagus coming into season any minute now! I also think it would be a great side to a summer roast chicken with a variety of salads as well as making a great topping for a burger or lamb kofta! However you chose to eat it, relax, enjoy and to complete that summer feeling, I highly recommend a glass of chilled rosé!

This salad has massive benefits for digestive health, you can read on at the end of the recipe to find out more!

Serves 4


400g can of green lentils

1 red onion

250g cooked beetroot

olive oil

1 lemon

salt and pepper

50g rocket leaves

50g roughly chopped hazelnuts

For the dressing;

150g mild soft goats cheese such as Chavroux

2tbsp live natural yogurt

1 clove garlic, crushed

about 10 mint leaves, finely chopped

3 heaped tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

1tbsp lemon juice

salt and pepper


Rinse and drain the lentils the well. Place in a large bowl.

Peel and finely slice the red onion, roughly dice the beetroot and add to the lentils. Drizzle over 2tbsp olive oil, the finely grated rind of the lemon and 2tbsp of the lemon juice. Season well.

To make the dressing; place the goats cheese, yogurt and crushed garlic in a bowl and mix together until smooth and combined. Stir in the lemon juice and the chopped herbs with plenty of seasoning to taste.



Just before serving toss the rocket into the lentil mixture and gently stir to combine. Serve the lentils with a generous spoon of dressing and a sprinkling of hazelnuts. To finish add an extra little drizzle of olive oil.



Health Benefits

Green Lentils

Lentils are a great source of dietary fibre. If you are suffering from bloating or constipation its a good idea to increase both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. It’s also important to increase water consumption to allow the fibre to do its job efficiently and to avoid making the symptoms worse. The fibre, in the presence of water will cause the contents of the gut to swell. This increase in bulk will trigger stretch receptors in the gut wall to contract. This peristaltic action will push the digested matter through the dietary tract and make it easier to expel waste matter from the body.

Red onion

Onions can help ease bloating and constipation due to a compound they contain called inulin, which has prebiotic properties. A prebiotic will support growth and development of the good bacteria in the gut. These good bacteria will help to regulate many aspects of gut health from gut contractions, repair of the gut wall, help digest carbohydrates as well as providing support to the body’s immune system. Maintaining the integrity of the gut microbiome will ease symptoms of bloating and constipation.


Beetroot is a good source of fibre, which will help ease bloating and constipation by keeping the contents moving through the digestive tract. Beetroot also contains the purple pigment, betacyanin, which helps the liver process toxins efficiently, thereby aiding removal from the body. (Pinnock, 2015)

Live yogurt

Although not used in large quantities in this recipe it is worth mentioning the benefits of including a probiotic live yogurt in the diet. Above, we looked at the importance of including a prebiotic food (eg. onions) in the diet to feed the good bacteria in the gut. A good quality live yogurt will actually add these bacteria to the gut. A well established colony of good bacteria in the gut will ease bloating, aid digestion and regulate gut motility, as well as ensuring bad bacteria do not become dominant in the gut, which create gas as they ferment waste products.


Mint contains the essential oil, Menthol, which has a carminative effect. This means it will help release trapped gas and ease bloating by causing receptors in the gut wall to trigger muscle relaxation in the muscles of the dietary tract. The effect can be quickly felt and the benefit quickly observed!


Pinnock/D Medicinal Cookery,. UK, 2015, Robinson



Breakfast Crumble Bars & Herbal Infusion

Version 2

What a great way to start the day! ‘It’s like having pudding for breakfast!’  This recipe is so beneficial for maintaining and supporting digestive health and they certainly pack a punch!! Read on after the recipe to find the health benefits.  I’ve paired the Crumble Bars with a herbal infusion (‘tea’) containing a soothing blend of herbs, also great for hydrating the gut.

Certainly not exclusive to breakfast you can enjoy these crumble bars anytime.  A perfect mid morning or afternoon snack, great as a pudding or you could even wrap one up for a packed lunch or as a great healthy snack for the children to take to school. If you need to follow a gluten free diet just make sure to use gluten free oats.

Makes 9 pieces

3 eating apples
1tsp ground cinnamon
6 Medjool dates, pitted, about 100g total weight

75g coconut oil

3tbsp maple syrup
100g ground almonds
100g rolled oats
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
50g ground flaxseeds


Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Wash, quarter, core and coarsely grate the apples. Place in a saucepan with the cinnamon and roughly chopped dates. Simmer the mixture, uncovered for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently until the fruit has softened and the mixture is thick. Set aside to cool slightly.

Melt the coconut oil and maple syrup together.

P1010227Place the ground almonds, oats, seeds and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.  Pour in the melted coconut oil mixture and stir well to combine.
Press half the mixture firmly into a lightly greased 18cm shallow square tin. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly cooked.

Top with the apple mixture and then spoon over the remaining crumble mixture to cover and press down.

P1010241Bake at 180ºC for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


You could serve these warm with a little live natural yogurt and maybe a few blackberries, blueberries or raspberries. Simply reheat in an ovenproof dish for about 5 minutes at 180ºC.

The Breakfast Crumble Bars freeze well between layers of greaseproof paper in an airtight container. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour and if serving hot reheat as above.


Herbal Infusion


This makes a single serving

1 star anise
1 sprig of mint
1⁄2 tsp fennel seeds

Place all the ingredients in teapot and a generous cup of boiling water. Infuse for 5 minutes before straining into a cup to serve.


Health Benefits


Apples are a good source of fibre, in particular a soluble fibre called pectin. As it passes through the digestive tract it takes on water to form a gel. This gel helps to keep everything mobile and flowing smoothly through the digestive tract. Ensuring good gut motility will help ease the uncomfortable symptoms of bloating and ultimately make it easier to pass, thereby relieving the symptoms of constipation.


Dates are very high in a fibre called beta glucan. This will absorb water and swell to stimulate the stretch receptors in the gut wall, which provide the peristaltic action to help contents to move through the digestive tract and make it easier to eliminate from the body. It is worth remembering that increasing fibre intake without increasing water intake can have the effect of bringing everything to a grinding halt and will therefore make the symptoms on constipation even worse!



Oats are another good source of fibre in the form of soluble fibre called beta glucan. The fibre attracts water and will swell in the gut, this in turn stimulates the stretch receptors in the gut wall, which triggers the peristaltic action and keeps things moving through the digestive tract and ultimately easier to pass out of the body. Any waste left hanging around in the gut will start to ferment, releasing gas which often becomes trapped and uncomfortable and leads to bloating.


When flax seeds come into contact with water they form a gelatinous mass, which helps to keep things moving through the digestive tract and makes it easier to eliminate waste from the body. (Pinnock, 2015)


Mint is brilliant for helping to ease bloating and break down trapped gas. It contains an essential oil called menthol that will interact with receptors in the gut wall, which trigger muscle relaxation and help restore and regulate intestinal contractions. (Pinnock, 2015)


Fennel is known to be an intestinal antispasmodic. This means it will help to relieve spasms or cramps, often associated with bloating or constipation, in the digestive tract. They also have carminative properties, which means they will help to break down and remove any built up gas. Fennel is also known to relieve or soothe pain. (Murray, Pizzorno, Pizzorno 2006)


Pinnock/D Medicinal Cookery,. UK, 2015, Robinson

Dr Murray/M. Dr Pizzorno/J. Pizzorno/L. 2006 The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods. Reprint Great Britain, Piatkus




Roasted Squash, Chickpea & Kale Salad


When I first heard of Kale salad, to be honest with you, I thought it sounded awful…. eating raw kale?!! Well, I’m now eating my words and I throw marinated kale into quite a few salads!

Having experimented in various ways, to achieve the best results, I remove some of the thicker, tougher stalks and then really make sure I work the kale through the dressing with my hands.  If you take your time and allow the kale to soften in the oil and lemon, the resulting dish is beautifully tender and the salad nourishing and substantial. I like to make sure a salad has plenty of other interesting ingredients too, to provide variety and interest. Use the recipe as a guide to quantities and if you feel like you’d like more roasted butternut squash, pepper or chickpeas then pile them in and enjoy!!

This recipe was developed as part of the Bones & Joints Module of the Culinary Medicine Diploma I’m currently studying. You can read on at the end to find out how these ingredients will benefit the body specifically relating to maintaining the health and integrity of bones and joints.

Serves 2


about 450g butternut squash

1 red pepper

olive oil

a generous pinch chilli flakes

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 handfuls of shredded kale, about 80-100g total weight

1 small red onion

1 lemon

40g mixed sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

½ of a 400g can chickpeas, drained

150g Halloumi cheese
p1010112Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Wash, but don’t peel the squash and cut into small chunks about 1cm thick. Wash de-seed and chop the pepper into similar sized pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle over the chilli flakes and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, remove any tough thick stalks from the kale and wash in plenty of cold water. Drain and dry well. Break any large leaves up a little and place the kale in a large non-metallic bowl. Peel and finely slice the onion and add to the kale with the grated rind and juice of the lemon and a good glug of olive oil. Season well.

Now get your hands in there and turn and massage the kale through the dressing to coat it completely in the lemon and olive oil. Do this for a few minutes until the leaves begin to darken and soften slightly. Set aside and leave to continue marinating at room temperature. This will allow the kale to soften further. Turn over occasionally to coat in the dressing.

Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan until golden brown, set aside to cool.

Dry the chickpeas on a piece of kitchen paper. When the vegetables are golden brown, add the drained and dried chickpeas to the vegetables and return to the oven for a further 10minutes, turning half way through cooking, until the vegetables are cooked and the chickpeas begin to turn golden brown.

Slice the halloumi and cook in the dry frying pan over a high heat until golden brown. Turning over to cook evenly.p1010148

To finish, add the roasted vegetables and chickpeas to the kale with the halloumi and seeds and toss together to combine. Sprinkle over a little more black pepper and the salad is ready to serve.

Any leftovers will keep well, covered in the fridge for a day.

A little extra note!!

Having just polished off the leftovers for my lunch I had to add a little extra to this blog post. Taking a peek inside the fridge for inspiration, I decided to brush some aubergine slices with olive oil and seasoning and grill them until they were golden brown. I allowed them to cool slightly before quartering them and tossing into the salad.  They were a great addition in texture, flavour and colour.  I then served the remaining salad with some Autumn Slaw, (you’ll find the recipe here!) homemade sauerkraut (I’ll be working on a recipe soon!!) and a lovely big dollop of humous.  It was so delicious, full of colour, flavour and goodness that set me up perfectly for an afternoon of writing!! I think the aubergine will be a regular addition for me!

Health Benefits

 Butternut Squash/Red Pepper/Red onion

Including a high proportion of bright coloured vegetables in the diet ensures the body receives a good dose of antioxidants. For example, red onions contain anthocyanins, which are an antioxidant, which assists in reducing inflammation. Butternut squash is a rich source of beta carotene, an antioxidant which has an anti-inflammatory effect which will relieve discomfort in inflamed joints. 


Kale is incredibly rich in magnesium. We need magnesium to help facilitate the way in which calcium is utilized and laid down in the bone matrix. Magnesium also reduces the release of a hormone, (parathyroid hormone) which causes an increase in the release of calcium from bones. In the case of osteoporosis it is important to avoid this happening, as the bones will become even weaker. Kale is also very good source of calcium, which supports the health of bones and joints. Osteoporosis can occur if there is insufficient calcium in the diet.

Olive oil

The aim is to let the diet support the body in creating its own anti-inflammatory response. Including olive oil in the diet allows us to benefit from its omega 9 fatty acids. High quantities of meat and dairy cause the body to manufacture more prostaglandin series 2, which promotes inflammation and pain, therefore enhancing the discomfort from arthritis. Olive oil allows the body to produce prostaglandins that minimise inflammation so will help reduce joint pain.


Chickpeas are high in zinc and magnesium. Zinc is beneficial in bone health as it can stimulate production of osteoblasts. These are bone building cells that lay down the matrix of bone tissue. Magnesium is used extensively in the body for many functions. For bone health it facilitates the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, enabling great bone remineralisation thereby maintaining a stronger bone integrity.

 Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds

Seeds are a great source of calcium and zinc as well as selenium, a mineral with anti-inflammatory properties.

Seeds are also rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids, which help to block production of prostaglandins, which are responsible for inflammation. In rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation is responsible for the pain and degeneration of the joint.


Cheese is a good source of vitamin D. There are very few food sources of vitamin D, so including a small amount of full fat cheese in the diet is beneficial. Vitamin D has to go through various enzyme changes in the liver before it can be used. Ultimately in the form, calcitriol, its function is to increase the concentration of calcium in the blood to encourage greater bone remineralisation, which will help give the bones rigidity and strength.



Fresh Pineapple & Turmeric Smoothie



Quick and easy to prepare, this amazingly coloured smoothie provides a mildly spiced, warming start to the day, perfect for chilly Autumn/Winter mornings! The cucumber and coconut water give a refreshing and quenching base to the smoothie and the body and punch comes from the pineapple, ginger and turmeric. If you’re not sure about having turmeric for breakfast then add a little less and gradually build up the quantity you use, allowing your system and tastebuds to get used to it. If you’re keen to add more veggies to your diet, then throw a handful of spinach in as well!

This recipe was developed to support joint and bone health as part of my Diploma in Culinary Medicine. You can read on at the end to see what benefits each ingredient may bring.  If you can get fresh root turmeric, peel and finely chop a generous teaspoonful instead of the powder, but be careful, it stains everything in sight! If your pineapple is really ripe, consider using the core, as this contains more of the beneficial enzyme, bromelain, see below to find out why this is so important.


Serves 1


1in piece fresh root ginger

200g fresh ripe pineapple, prepared weight

75g cucumber

1tbsp flaxseed

½tsp ground turmeric

1 lime

freshly ground black pepper

ice cubes

200ml coconut water


Peel the root ginger and grate or finely chop. If necessary, remove any little eyes from the pineapple and cut into chunks. You need 200g prepared weight. Chop the cucumber into similar sized pieces.

Place the prepared pineapple and cucumber in a blender with the ginger, flaxseed, turmeric, 1tbsp lime juice and a few grindings of black pepper.

Add 4 or 5 ice cubes and the coconut water. Blend until smooth. You may need to blend longer than other smoothies to help break down the fibres in the pineapple and ginger. Pour into a glass to serve.


Health Benefits

Fresh root ginger

Arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis can cause extensive inflammation in the joints. Ginger has a strong, warm, spicy flavour and the essential oils that give it these properties are amazingly powerful anti-inflammatories. They interrupt chemical reactions that occur when inflammation is triggered. Ginger is also great for the circulation, which can help ease the discomfort in stiff joints.

Fresh Pineapple

Pineapple contains a powerful enzyme called Bromelain, which can help to effectively reduce inflammation by blocking part of the body’s inflammation response. This is beneficial in reducing the swelling in joints caused arthritis. The core contains the highest quantities of this bromelain so if possible use a really ripe pineapple and include the core.


Cucumber is a great source of silica, a mineral that supports the strength of connective tissues. These tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone. In osteoarthritis the wear and tear of a joint leaves areas of bones and joints exposed causing damage and inflammation. Including silica will help prevent bone decalcification and deterioration of connective tissue.


Also known as linseeds, flaxseeds contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which are known to help reduce inflammation by stimulating production of the body’s own anti-inflammatory compounds. When suffering from inflammation of the joints, upping omega 3 is a brilliant way to help reduce inflammation. Flaxseeds are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians, however to reap the benefits we need to eat vast amounts as the conversion rate isn’t great.  They also have antioxidant properties which help protect against oxidative stress, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis.


Wherever you look there is a wealth of information about the incredible benefits of including turmeric in the diet. Relating to the health of bones and joints, it’s the anti-inflammatory properties that are of interest. Turmeric contains curcuminoids, which give it the bright yellow colour. Clinical trials have shown that these compounds have incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory properties comparable to some pharmaceutical drugs! The curcuminoids are able to block the activity of enzymes responsible for a stage in the metabolism of fats into series 2 prostaglandins. These 2 prostaglandins activate inflammation so, preventing this conversion, can help reduce inflammation and therefore reduce discomfort in the joints.

Black Pepper

There is some evidence to show that using black pepper alongside turmeric can significantly increase absorption and bioavailability of curcuminoids. This will enhance the effects of turmeric mentioned above. 


Vitamin C is an important nutrient in the production of collagen. It’s found in bones, joints and connective tissues, such as cartilage, and gives it strength and elasticity. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage breaks down and the exposed bones rub together. By keeping a diet rich in vitamin C we are increasing the chances of keeping the integrity of these connective tissues.


Autumn Slaw


I just love the colour of this salad but what I love even more, is that one of my children will eat bowls full of it and that makes me, and him feel really good!!  It’s good advice to try and eat the rainbow, as diverse a colour range of fresh fruit and vegetables as you possibly can, to feed our bodies the abundance of vitamins, minerals, phytochemical and antioxidants they contain. This will help reduce inflammation and give the immune system an all important boost, especially beneficial at this time of year. So, anything that gets the family diving into veggies, gets my vote! It could be the lovely fresh, tangy flavour as well as the colour that appeals but whatever it is, for now I will be making a lot of it!

img_8606An incredibly simple dish to make with very few ingredients.  I’ve used white balsamic vinegar as part of the dressing which gives an amazing flavour, slightly more subtle than dark balsamic and with the advantage of not colouring everything brown! The one I use is actually labelled, White Condimento of Modena, (pictured left) but there are many brands available. If you find one made in Modena, Italy then you know you’re getting the genuine article!

The salad keeps well in the fridge in a sealed container for about 3 days. So, it makes a perfect standby for a quick lunch or supper and will be great for any Halloween and Bonfire parties. It also makes a perfect healthy addition to a packed lunch.

p1010012Finely shred about half a red cabbage and place in a large bowl.  Peel and coarsely grate 3 carrots and add to the cabbage with a peeled and finely sliced red onion. Drizzle over about 4tbsp olive oil and about 2tbsp white balsamic vinegar with plenty of seasoning. Toss the salad together to coat in the dressing. Finally stir in a handful of chopped fresh chives or parsley. Add a little more oil or vinegar to your taste if you wish.

You could also sprinkle over some pumpkin seeds for an extra dose of the immune boosting mineral, zinc!

I’ve served this with so many things! Its great with simple grilled meat, fish or vegetables, alongside a roasted chicken, piled high next to a homemade burger or as part of a big mixed salad bowl. The options are endless but you are guaranteed, that it will always add a great splash of colour and flavour!

Food is Medicine

I’m really excited to be taking part in this event.  The evening will be relaxed and fun in the beautiful, chilled out Castle Farm Cafe. Tickets are selling fast!




With Sue Judge and Sarah McCurdie

How to nourish your body and strengthen your immune system this Autumn.

Come and join us for a relaxed evening of recipes, tasty organic food and tips from Nutritional Therapist Sue Judge and Cookery Writer and Blogger Sarah McCurdie.

Sue will be talking to you with a holistic view on boosting and supporting the immune system, incorporating diet and lifestyle. With a straightforward approach that is accessible to everyone, Sue’s aim is to help you remain healthy this Winter.

Before we sit down to a delicious supper, Sarah will explain the medicinal properties of the vegetables and spices we’ll be eating. She will then demonstrate how to make healthy, nutrient filled, sweet treats to keep you satisfied and nourished through the coming Autumn months.

You will then be served a tasty, organic meal made fresh from the Castle Farm garden by our fabulous chef, Steve Yates. Followed by some herbal teas and a chance to taste the recipes demonstrated earlier in the evening, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to chat to Sue and Sarah.

Date: 29th September 2016

Time: 7.00pm

Cost: £30pp

What’s included: Recipes, nutritional profiles of vegetables, herbs, fruits and spices, delicious organic dinner made from the garden at Castle Farm, cooking demonstration, and sweet treats & herbal tea to finish the evening


Spiced Spinach Dal with Aubergine


As the days get a little shorter and the weather a little cooler, I find it quite exciting to turn to more comforting, nourishing and warming meals.  This meal feels like its packed with goodness to give the body a generous boost of nutrients, helping to support the body’s defences to keep the winter bugs at bay!  The chilli, garlic and ginger are known to help the immune system, garlic has antiviral properties and ginger helps reduce inflammation. Food has the power to harm or heal the body and by making a few changes to our diet we can make a profound effect on the health of our body and well-being. The ingredients in this recipe are also amazing for supporting the health of the heart and circulatory system. Read on after the recipe to discover how these every day ingredients can support heart health.

I love a quick and easy recipe that I can cook for the family when they all arrive home starving hungry! This fits the bill perfectly and leaves us all feeling so good. The flavours are among some of my favourites and I use them regularly in my cooking. I love the warmth of the spices blended with the creamy coconut milk and lentils and I’d happily eat aubergine almost every day! If you do have leftovers, just add the aubergine to the dal and store in a sealed container in the fridge. It can then be reheated gently the next day. Just remember to stir it regularly until it begins to simmer, then serve piping hot!


Serves 3-4


4 tbsp coconut oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves

1in piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 red chilli

1 tbsp ground coriander

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp ground turmeric

175g red lentils, rinsed

400ml can coconut milk

salt and black pepper

2 aubergine

1 tbsp mustard seeds

100g bag baby spinach leaves, washed and drained

plenty fresh coriander and lime wedges to serve


P1000174Heat 2tbsp coconut oil in a medium sized saucepan, add the onion, 1 clove crushed garlic and the ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Halve, deseed and slice the chilli, stir into the onions with the spices and lentils, cook for a further minute, stirring continuously. Stir in the coconut milk, refill the can with water and add to the pan. Season well.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until softened and the mixture has reduced to a creamy consistency. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.

After 10 minutes, wash and chop the aubergineP1000177 into cubes. Heat 2tbsp coconut oil in a frying pan and cook the aubergine for 10minutes over a medium high heat or until beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the mustard seeds with the remaining 2 crushed garlic cloves and plenty of seasoning. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir the spinach into the dal mixture and allow it to wilt over a low heat

SP1000188erve the dal with a pile of aubergine on top and a generous sprinkling of fresh coriander. Serve a lime wedge on the side to squeeze over.





 Health Benefits

 Coconut oil

Coconut oil is great to use in cooking as its stable at high temperatures. The omega 9 fatty acids present in the oil and medium chain density, meaning they are easier to break down and use as energy, therefore their impact on the elevation of blood fats after a meal is minimal.

Red onion

Red onions are high in flavonoids. These are phytochemicals present in vegetables and are responsible for giving them their colour. They are powerful antioxidants, which help protect cells and tissues from free radical damage. They benefit heart health by causing endothelial cells in the lining of the blood vessels to produce and secrete nitric oxide. This is a vasodilator, which causes the walls of the blood vessels to relax and widen. The result is a lowering of blood pressure and better circulation.


Ginger stimulates the circulatory system. It contains compounds called gingerols which give the ginger is spicy flavour. These gingerols are vasodilators, which help relax the muscles in the blood vessel walls causing them to widen and therefore a reduction in blood pressure and an increase in circulation.


Garlic is great for a healthy heart. It contains a compound called ajoene, which helps to regulate the rate and extent the blood clots. Excessive clotting can be dangerous to the heart and circulatory system, so eating plenty of garlic can keep blood flowing efficiently and help work towards minimising the risk of strokes and heart attacks.


Chillies are a great vasodilator. They get their fiery intense heat from a phytochemical called capsaicin, which has a beneficial effect on the cells that line our blood vessels. It causes them to secrete a chemical called nitric oxide, which these cells naturally produce. Nitric oxide causes the muscles in the blood vessel walls to relax which cause them to get wider. This effect is hugely beneficial when looking at heart health and circulation as the wider the blood vessel, the lower the pressure inside which reduces the risk of damage to the internal lining of the blood vessels. Damage here can cause a plaque to form, which is responsible for clogging the arteries and can lead to strokes and heart attacks. The widening of blood vessels also help blood circulate to the extremities.


There is some evidence that coriander can help lower cholesterol by stimulating the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids within the liver.


is an anticoagulant and also a strong anti-inflammatory. The yellow pigment is responsible for helping to control inflammation. This will help to protect against damage of the inner lining of blood vessels avoiding the build up of plaque, which can ultimately block the arteries.


Lentils are very high in soluble fibre. This binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps remove it from the body before it can be absorbed into the blood stream during the digestive process.

Red lentils also contain magnesium that helps the muscles in the wall of blood vessels to relax, helping to lower blood pressure.


Aubergines are an excellent source of fibre, which will bind to cholesterol and remove it from the digestive tract before it is absorbed into the blood stream. They are also a very good source of potassium, which facilitates the movement of fluid through the kidneys. This causes a diuretic effect, reducing blood plasma volume. This will then help reduce pressure in the vessels as there is less volume pressing against the vessel walls. Potassium can also help to relax the muscle in blood vessels, widening the ateries and reducing the pressure inside. Aubergine is also a good source of magnesium, which also causes the muscle fibres to relax. The overall effect of this is a reduction in blood pressure. A flavonoid found in the skin of the aubergine called nasunin has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.



Mango Salsa


Keep the feeling and flavours of summer going a little longer with this delicious Mango Salsa!!

I was planning to marinate and barbecue some pork fillet for dinner and wanted to serve something with it! Looking around my kitchen, I spotted four ripe mangoes sitting in the fruit bowl, (sounds like the start to a joke!!) having bought a box of eight, I was keen to use up the rest before they became over ripe!  My plan was to make mango salsa to go with the pork. Searching through the fridge, I luckily found what I wanted and quickly put it together! It was so good we had the same again the next day!! And now there’s only 2 very ripe mangoes sitting in my fruit bowl!! Hopefully tomorrow there’ll be another flash of inspiration as to what to do with those!!

Its really so very easy to make and can turn any grilled meat, fish or deliciously juicy grilled prawns into a very impressive meal!  For a vegetarian option, try serving alongside some chargrilled aubergine, courgette, pepper and halloumi cheese. I’m not going to give accurate quantities, just a rough guide for what you need. I’m a bit of a fan of a recipes that you can guesstimate, and really with this one you can’t go wrong.

So simply, prepare one perfectly ripe mango and finely chop the flesh. Place in a bowl with a de-seeded and finely chopped red pepper, a quarter of a red onion, peeled and finely P1000984chopped and one red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped. Squeeze over the juice of a lime, a little splash of olive oil along with a good handful of chopped fresh coriander and a little seasoning. Stir together to combine and your salsa is ready.

Serve generous spoonfuls as its definitely best eaten on the day its made.


Lime & Coriander Salmon Salad


This colourful salad is just perfect as a light summer lunch or supper. Packed with gorgeous flavours based on the traditional dish, Ceviche, from Latin America, where fish is marinated in lime juice and flavoured with chilli. Here, the salmon is cooked, flavoured with lime rind and combined with cucumber, avocado, pepper, red onion and fresh herbs, resulting in an amazingly refreshing dish. A glass of crisp white or rosé wine on the side, finishes this off beautifully!! If you’d like a non-alcoholic drink, try adding slices of lime and sprigs of mint to a jug of iced water, its deliciously fresh!!

This recipe was developed as the lunchtime dish for a day’s menu  supporting the heart and circulatory system. Read on for details as to how each ingredient can benefit the body.

Serves 2


2 salmon fillets

grated rind and juice of 2 limes

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cucumber

1 red pepper

½ red onion

1 ripe avocado

1 red chilli

1tbsp olive oil

4tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1tbsp chopped fresh mint


P1000111Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Skin and cut the salmon fillets in half across the width. Thinly cut into 5mm slices and lay out on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment.

Sprinkle the grated lime rind over the salmon fillet slices, along with plenty of seasoning. Flash cook in the hot oven for about 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Cut the cucumber in half lengthways. Use a P1000116teaspoon to scoop out the seeds and slice on
an angle. Wash, deseed and slice the pepper. Peel and thinly slice the red onion. Halve the avocado, remove the stone, scoop out the flesh and slice. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl.

De-seed and finely chop the chilli and mix together with the olive oil and lime juice. Season well and pour over the prepared vegetables with the chopped fresh herbs. Toss together well to coat in the dressing. Add the salmon to the mixture and turn gently to mix and coat in the dressing.

ThiP1000126s salad is best served within about an hour of making.If you’d like to prepare this in advance, cook the salmon, when cool, cover and chill. Prepare all the salad ingredients, except the avocado, cover and chill. Mix together the dressing and keep covered separately. To finish, prepare the avocado and complete as above.



Health Benefits


Salmon is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. These brilliant fats help maintain healthy cholesterol level and due to their anti-inflammatory properties help protect the blood vessels from damage caused by inflammation. Damaged blood vessels can later lead to heart attacks. Omega 3 is also beneficial for reducing the rate at which blood clots, keeping it flowing efficiently around the body. So it is hugely beneficial to include plenty of oily fish in the diet.


Another food packed with good fatty acids. This time, oleic acid, also found in olive oil. It has been shown to cause a reduction in bad (LDL) cholesterol and may even increase good (HDL) cholesterol.

Red Pepper

Flavonoids give the pepper its bright red colour. These powerful antioxidants maintain healthy blood vessels, making the inner lining of them more resilient to damage. When a blood vessel becomes damaged there is a build up of plaque, which can cause blockages in the cardiovascular system. Red peppers also enhance vasodilation by increasing the production and release of nitric oxide in the endothelial cells. Add to this their anti-inflammatory properties and red peppers become a must include food in the diet to keep a healthy heart and circulatory system.

Red Onion

Red onions are also high in flavonoids, phytochemicals that give them their wonderful deep red colour. These are powerful antioxidants, which help protect cells and tissues from free radical damage. They benefit heart health by causing endothelial cells in the lining of the blood vessels to produce and secrete nitric oxide. This is a vasodilator, which causes the walls of the blood vessels to relax and widen, the result is a lowering of blood pressure. Red onions also protect against inflammation and there is evidence to show that they can reduce clotting factors in the blood, offering protection against heart disease and strokes.


Capsaicin, a phytochemical present in the chilli, forces the blood vessel walls to relax by triggering a release of nitric oxide which enhances circulation and helps to reduce blood pressure.

Olive Oil

The fatty acids in olive oil can increase the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) It is also thought that oleic acid, the fatty acid in olive oil can have a mild vasodilatory effect enhancing circulation around the body.