The food matters project

Wholefood inspiration!

Wholefood inspiration!

Aubergine with buttermilk sauce from Ottolenghi’s Plenty

In the last couple of weeks I have been cooking my way through two amazing vegetarian books! I am in no way a food critic, I just wanted to share these beautiful books with you and hope you find them as lovable as I did.

The first, Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson is such a wonderful book. 

I think I have literally cooked everything in it, except the sweet section which I will embark on soon… Notable favourites are Broccoli Gribiche, Little Quinoa Patties, Black Pepper Tempeh, Green Lentil Soup and Black Sesame Otsu.

The book is full of beautiful photography to illustrate each creation which the author has taken herself, and you can treat yourself  each week by following Heidi’s blog if you are not already!

I wish I had taken a photo of everything, but here is the farro soup and rye soda bread which were delicious! Everything recipe in her book (that I have tried) works first time, and is wholesome, sustaining and beautiful. What more could you ask for?!

Pumpkin before

The second book, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is fabulous! The author runs four London based ‘take-away’ restaurants, making beautiful, unique dishes that are all made from fresh seasonal foods as close to their natural state as possible, and all made with love. The book has a mediterranean flavour, and is vegetarian with some suggestions of how you could include some meat if desired.

Pumpkin after

I made the Aubergine with buttermilk sauce as pictured above which is visually and taste bud-ly amazing! I also made these Crusted Pumpkin Wedges, little pac-man delights dressed in a mix of parmesan, fresh herbs, garlic and lemon. Yum! Others on my to do list are the Caramelised garlic tart, Stuffed portobello …

Vegetables of the Sea

Vegetables of the Sea

Sea vegetables are such wonderful friends! For thousands of years they have been called upon for their healing, disease preventing, life prolonging properties, and they come in many colours and varieties, so there is bound to be one that suits you just perfectly!

Sea vegetables contain 10-20 times more minerals than land plants, and because these minerals have been integrated into a living plant/seaweed, they are beautifully absorbed and assimilated by our bodies.

Each sea vegetable has a specific set of qualities, but generally speaking they all contain protein, vitamins A, B, C and E, super amounts of iron, calcium and iodine, are detoxifying, alkalising and anti-inflammatory.

To prepare sea vegetables they need to be rehydrated. Cover with water and soak for 5-15 minutes – they will expand to at least twice their original volume.

Cooked Arame


I will feature a little special each month on each sea vegetable in turn, giving them all a time to shine. This month is arame. Arame grows in fronds which is then cut into stringy ‘noodles’, partly cooked and dried. It is rich in iodine, high in iron and calcium, and is traditionally used for normalising high blood pressure, treating female reproductive conditions, mouth afflictions and encouraging growth of glossy hair.

This week on the food matters project the recipe was Seared Bean Sprouts with Beef and Sesame Orange Sauce (check out the original version here). I adapted this to a vegetarian meal using tempeh, and added the arame and served it with quinoa – delicious!

I also changed the marinade a little, making it a version of the one Jude Blereau uses with her pan-glazed orange tofu. Here’s what I did.

Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh with Bean Sprouts
225g/8oz tempeh
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive …

Roasted Beetroot Hummus

Roasted Beetroot Hummus

Hummus is potentially one of my favourite foods. It wears many hats in my house: a dip, a spread, a topping, a sauce; my daughter eats it straight from the spoon. Made simply it is an amazing dish, but it also lends itself to great variation.


This weeks food matters project was hummus (see the original recipe here). I found some fabulous heirloom beetroot at the market today and so thought I would make it a beetroot hummus.

Check out the magnificent ‘chioggia’ beetroot which are paler skinned and have a beautiful circular pattern on the inside – so cute!

And as for nutritional content, beets are blessed with antioxidants, folate, vitamin C,  manganese, magnesium and iron. 

They also strengthen the heart, purify the blood and improve circulation.

So why wouldn’t you want to add it to your hummus!

The other main ingredient in hummus is no wallflower either. Chickpeas are a wonderful source of protein, potassium, iron, calcium and B vitamins. The secret (if you are using dried beans and cooking them yourself) is to soak them overnight (or longer) covered generously in water with a tablespoon of yoghurt, whey, buttermilk or a squeeze of lemon juice stirred through. This will help to break down the enzymes and make them easier to digest (read no bloating and wind – hooray!). Once you have soaked the beans, rinse and add to a pot, cover with water and simmer for around 2 hours (it can take between 1 and four hours depending on your beans) until chickpeas are tender. Adding a small piece of kombu to the cooking water will help this process.

So here is a version of one of everyone’s favourite dips.

Beetroot Hummus
200g / around 1 cup cooked chickpeas
200g / 1- 1 1/2 cups

Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto

When I found out about the the Food Matters Project I put my hand up straight away to be involved. The subject, Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook. The mission, to cook our way through the book with a new recipe each week, each participant putting their own spin on the recipe. The concept of the cookbook is to eat more wholefoods and less processed foods – simple but sound advice. This week was Roasted Red Pepper (Capsicum) and Walnut “Pesto”. I love pesto. I love roasted capsicums, but alas my local had no capsicums today. I did however have half a bunch of kale, and so it was decided – kale pesto!

Kale is an absolute POWERHOUSE! Just look at it! Packed full of chlorophyll, it is an ancient member of the cabbage family that has been traditionally used to ease lung congestion and benefit the stomach. It also contains a wonderful amount of antioxidants, calcium, iron, vitamin C, manganese and vitamin K1.

Making pesto from Kale is a fabulous way to reap it’s benefits as you are eating it raw and together with other nourishing ingredients to increase the absorption of the nutrients. Nifty eh! And oh so easy!! 

You will need:
2 1/2 cups (tightly packed) kale, washed and torn from the stem
1/3 cup of cashews
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
130-150ml olive oil
1 teaspoon miso paste
2 tablespoons (or more) of parmesan (optional)

Combine all ingredients and 1/2 the oil. Whiz it all up in a food processor or in a bowl with a stick blender, gradually adding the rest of the oil.

That’s it! Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

This is a really gutsy pesto that packs a punch. I have used this over pasta, bean mixes, dolloped onto