Top 10 Autumn Recipes - Love Food

The leaves are starting to fall alongside the temperatures. It’s the time of year within which we begin our hibernation process this means cosy nights in, comfort food and lots of layering whether it’s our clothes or more importantly our blankets…(we all love a good cosy blanket!) Autumn also signals a change in our diets too. Gone are the alfresco salads of the summer, we’re craving root vegetables and heartier dishes! Thankfully Love Food have their Top 10 Autumn Recipes to give us a little bit of seasonal food inspo!

This is the season for warming stews, rich soups and dishes that make the most of seasonal produce such as game, squashes, mushrooms and root vegetables.

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1. Pear tart with crème fraîche

Pears come into season from September, so there's plenty of time to enjoy this dessert, which works well with a light dusting of powdered cinnamon before baking. Simply spread out a layer of puff pastry, then smother it with almond cream and top with a layer of freshly sliced pears.

Monica Galetti/Organic UK

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2. Venison shanks with baby beets and chestnuts

A delightful game dish that's bursting with the tastes of autumn. It's reasonably challenging to make, but is well worth the effort. The slow-cooked venison falls off the bone into a rich, flavourful sauce. 

Steve Lee/Venison: the Game Larder

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3. Pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni

Looking for an alternative to a classic lasagne? Try this pumpkin cannelloni recipe from Bill Granger. You can make it fresh or assemble it and freeze until you're ready to cook.

Bill Granger

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4. Minced beef and dumplings 

Heston Blumenthal's traditional stew is big-flavoured and deeply comforting — the perfect dish for autumn. You can prepare most of the recipe a day ahead, adding the vegetables and cooking the dumplings before you serve.

Heston Blumenthal for Waitrose.com

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5. Wild mushroom arancini with roast tomato ragu

This is the perfect way to use up leftover risotto, making the most of late-summer tomatoes and the start of the autumn mushroom glut.

The Fabulous Baker Brothers/Mushroom Bureau 

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6. Celeriac, sprouts and bacon soup

Blitzing cooked root veg and greens together is a sure-fire route to success when it comes to autumn soups. In this recipe Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall uses creamed celeriac and Brussels sprouts, and finishes the bowl with a handful of crispy bacon bits.

Simon Wheeler/Hugh's Three Good Things

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7. Pan-roasted guinea fowl with truffle and leek

October and November are the best months for guinea fowl, although you could use chicken for this recipe if you find it hard to source. The addition of pricey truffles makes it a special-occasion dish, but they do give fantastic flavour. 

Yuki Sugiura/French Brasserie Cookbook

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8. Mussels with beer and coriander

Celebrate the return of months with an 'r' in their name (traditionally when shellfish should be eaten) with a warming autumn take on a summer classic. You'll just need a tin of chopped tomatoes and some store-cupboard ingredients in addition to the mussels, beer and herbs.

Guyrope Gourmet Cookbook

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9. Sausage, parsnip and onion roast

This one-pan dish is incredibly simple – and you can serve it straight from the roasting tray. It also works well with potatoes instead of parsnips: just pick a waxy variety that can be roasted whole in their skins.

Simon Wheeler/Hugh's Three Good Things

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10. Mushroom and chard torte

This hearty but healthy autumnal dish is easy to prepare, taking just 15 minutes to put together. It makes the most of two seasonal ingredients and is a perfect simple weekend dinner. 

Click here for more recipe inspiration from www.lovefood.com

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The Capsule X Love & Unique

Go Alcohol Free This Autumn - Bax Botanics

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With the summer drawing to a close and the hangover of gin filled evenings beginning to take effect, many of us will be feeling like perhaps we’ve over indulged throughout the lighter months and looking to take a break from alcohol. However with the choice of booze free beverages leaving little to the imagination, abstinence can end up being somewhat difficult. Step forward Bax Botanics!

Independently run in North Yorkshire, Bax Botanics produces alcohol free spirits that, enjoyed with a traditional mixer can be the perfect alternative to alcohol. Distilled in craftsman made copper stills – just the same way as gin, these mouth watering spirits are made using organic herbs sustainably farmed from Fairtrade farmers. Adding to the company’s eco credentials, Bax bottle labels are printed on environmentally friendly sugar cane waste with recycled cardboard and clever box design eliminating the need for extra packaging materials.

Bax Botanics

Bax Botanics

Our business is born of a love of flavours gained through 15 years of teaching foraging and preserving.

Bax Botanics

Bax currently produces 2 spirit flavours at the distillery, Sea Buckthorn and Verbena, with each creating its own unique taste.

•             ‘Sea Buckthorn’ is a distillation of fragrant herbs and botanicals - Citrussy Seville oranges, Mediterranean herbs and subtle, warm, buttery baking. The blend is relaxed and luxurious.

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  •       ‘Verbena’ is a distillation of light, bright herbs and botanicals – Lemon Verbena and hints of menthol, make this blend stimulating, appetising and fresh.    

With no sugar, no sweeteners (there’s just half a calorie in each 50ml serving) and completely allergen free, these spirits are perfect for diabetics and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Sea Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn

Verbena

Verbena

We created the drinks to fulfil a need for adult drinks that are not sweet but are a sophisticated treat.

•             Great for the growing number of people who want to stay focussed, alert and at their best! 

•             An excellent treat for the non-drinker when friends are drinking alcohol.

•             Perfect those who need to drive or as a pacing drink. 

•             Great for the health conscious and pregnant ladies also those who have children.

Rose Bax - Bax Botanics

The Velda - The Perfect Non Alcoholic Cocktail

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Named by Chris Bax to sound like an ethereal, sprite of the hedgerows – born from Verbena and Elder. Hedgerow foraging in a glass: the flavour of Elderflower, spring herbs and fresh apple combine with the light bitter notes of Mediterranean tonic.

INGREDIENTS 

•             50ml Bax Botanics Verbena

•             5ml Monin Green Apple Syrup

•             5ml Belvoir Elderflower Cordial

•             150ml Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic

•             Ice and a straw

•             Edible flowers to garnish

Mix the ingredients together in a tall glass and top up with ice. Garnish with edible flowers or a slice of apple. Elderflowers would be lovely a lovely alternative during the summer months.

Bax Botanics can be found in Booth’s,The Craft Bottle Shop and online.

For more information about Bax Botanics please visit www.baxbotanics.com

NOTE: Bax Botanics will be exhibiting at The Capsule Beauty & Wellness Event on Thursday 5th Sept in Leeds. For more information please visit www.thecapsule.co.uk/events.

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How To Navigate Your Supermarket - Nichola Ludlam-Raine

Registered Dietician & Fitness Instructor Nichola Ludlam-Raine acts as our food angel when it comes to keeping us on the safe side of food shopping with her helpful guide ‘How To Navigate The Supermarket’.

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The supermarket can be a minefield when it comes to healthy living. As you enter the shop, you are presented with a vast array of healthy fresh produce to fill your trolly with, but then come the aisles of tempting and colourful offers on tasty, highly processed ‘junk food’. And if it’s not the buy one get one free on Oreos that will get you, it’s bound to be the Mars Bar as you cue up to pay.

To help you to navigate your local supermarket, here is in my simple guide..”

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Fruit, Vegetable, Salad & Potato Section

The first rule in my supermarket guide; spend most of your time in the supermarket in this section!

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Fruit – Fruit makes the perfect snack if you’re hungry, it bulks up your breakfast and can be a great alternative to a sugary dessert, especially when served with yoghurt. Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants (which keep us healthy), fibre and it’s relatively low in calories too. A handful of fruit comes in at around 50 calories, and although some fruits do contain more calories than others; e.g. a large banana has more calories and carbs than a bowl or blueberries, a piece of fruit is always a healthier option in comparison to biscuits and sweets which provide very little in the way of nutrients.

The government recommends that we should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, a portion being a handful or 80g of fresh fruit. For dried fruit though, the amount that equates to one portion decreases to just a small handful or 30g due the removal of the water. There are more calories in dried fruit weight for weight which is why we shouldn’t eat them in copious amounts; a small amount though can be a great way of helping your digestive system to keep moving because of all of the fibre. I personally like the advice that is given in Australia; Go for 2 & 5 (2 portions of fruit and 5 portions of vegetables a day).

Vegetables & Salad – Vegetables should be eaten in abundance. The key though with fresh vegetables is to buy only what you need for the week, to prevent food waste, or you could have a go at making soup!

Like fruit, vegetables are crammed with phytonutrients and plant goodness and are very low in calories thanks to the high water and fibre content. Experiment with different cooking methods to keep your vegetables interesting; you can throw a handful of spinach into a smoothie or a stir-fry, spiralize courgette and roast onions and peppers; it’s amazing what a little bit of rapeseed oil and some herbs can do! If you’re trying to lose weight aim to fill half of your plate with vegetables and if you’re trying to maintain your weight then fill a third of your plate with vegetables. Vegetables release their energy slowly and to get a wide range of nutrients aim to eat a variety of different colours!

Like vegetables, salad items such as lettuce and cucumber should also be eaten in abundance, just watch out for the creamy dressings; you could try a sprinkling of olive oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice instead, or a mixture of all three!

Potatoes – Potatoes are usually found in the same section as the vegetables however with the exception of sweet potatoes, unfortunately they don’t count towards your ‘5 a day’. Potatoes provide energy, vitamins and fibre (especially if you eat the skin!) and as a general rule you should pick a potato that matches the size of your hand when it is clenched; providing you with enough energy to fuel your day. If you are more active than usual though they you may be able to get away with eating more.

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The Chiller Section

Meat & Poultry – Meat and chicken are a fantastic source of protein, which is vital for growth and repair. If you’re watching your weight take a look at the leaner options such as chicken breast, turkey and lean mince, and try to avoid any skin. Try to limit your intake of processed red meat such as sausages, bacon and ham i.e. avoid having them daily.

Fish – For heart health it is recommended to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which is oily; such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, fresh tuna and pilchards which are rich in essential omega 3 fatty acids. A portion of fish is 140g (after cooking) and includes seafood as prawns, which do not impact on heart health in a negative way, as we were once led to believe. If you don’t like fish then alternative sources of omega 3 fatty acids include walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, flaxseed and linseed oils and tofu.

Meat-Free Alternatives – Meat free alternatives such as Quorn are a convenient and vegetarian source of protein. As well as being easy to cook they also tend to be lower in calorie than their meat equivalents. I strongly recommend checking out this section of the supermarket if you haven’t done already as there are both health and environmental benefits to having at least one meat-free day a week.

Dairy – Dairy products such as cheese, milk and yoghurt provide protein and also calcium which is essential for teeth and bone health. An adult requires 700mg of calcium a day which you can get by consuming 250ml (a glass) of milk, 30g (a match box size) of cheese and 120g (1 pot) of yoghurt. If you’re watching your calorie intake then choose semi-skimmed milk over full-fat, and if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake go for plain yoghurt and add your own sweetener or fruit for flavour. Greek yoghurt is packed with protein and makes a convenient, filling snack.

When it comes to buying spreads, gone are the days when margarines were made through the process of hydrogenation, so choose those that are made with olive oil or vegetable oil for heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Butter is also a natural choice, however it isn’t as heart healthy as an olive oil based spread.

If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan choose for milk alternatives such as unsweetened nut or oat milks, milk-free cheeses and spreads, and soya yoghurt.

Ready Meals – Ready meals can be convenient when you’re rushed for time, and although they may be sometimes lacking in the vegetable department, you can always add your own!

Many supermarkets sell lower calorie ready meals (under 400 calories) and the majority have a traffic light label on the front. Colour coded nutritional information tells you at a glance if the food is high, medium or low for fats, sugars and salt. Red means ‘high’, amber means ‘medium’ and green means ‘low’. As a general rule we should be eating more products with ‘green’ labels and fewer products with ‘red’.

Before buying a ready meal I would advise to have a quick look at the ingredients list, to see exactly what you are going to be eating and check how many the carton serves before cooking (so you can choose to heat up all of it or just half if it’s for one person).

Regarding foods such as pizza, remember that you don’t have to cook or eat the whole thing. Choose to eat 1/2 and bulk the rest of your plate out with salad or load the pizza with more vegetables before cooking. Pepper, ham and sweetcorn all work well.

The Food Aisles

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Fats – For cooking, choose an olive oil that is suitable for heating (it will say on the label) or coconut oil; if you like the taste! And for salad dressings stick to olive oil for heart healthy benefits. Try not to use too much oil though during meal preparation or else the calories will soon add up! Aim for a moderate fat, rather than high or low fat, diet for heart health.

Tins & Jars – Tinned food is often cheaper and more convenient than fresh, and as a bonus it has a longer shelf-life. A can of baked beans is a great source of protein, fibre and slow release carbohydrate and it also can count towards one of your ‘5 a day’. Other types of beans, as well as lentils, are perfect to keep in the cupboards to bulk out stews, chillies and chicken dish. Tinned soups can be another good item to keep in your cupboards, just remember to compare salt levels if you’ve got high blood pressure and consider buying the lower one.

Tinned fish is often cheaper than fresh however be sure to buy those tinned in spring water or tomato sauce as opposed to brine or oil; which come with extra salt and calories!

Regarding foods such as jam and honey, eat these in moderation due to the sugar content. If you can opt for reduced sugar jam or jam that is sweetened with fruit juice. Remember that even natural sugar shouldn’t be gorged on.

Jars of sauces can often have a bad reputation, but quite often the main ingredients are simply tomatoes and herbs; a great way of saving time during cooking.

Eggs – Eggs are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fat as well as protein. They contain dietary cholesterol which has a minimal impact upon the cholesterol in your blood; when we eat cholesterol from food, our body simply makes less of it. There are no recommendations for the maximum amount of eggs to eat a week currently in the UK.

Pasta/Rice – Basmati rice, pasta and noodles provide slow release energy, with the ‘brown’ or ‘wholemeal’ varieties providing added fibre too. As a general rule, as with the potatoes, go for a fist size serving unless you are particularly active.

Cereals – In general it’s best to avoid honey and sugar coated cereals and instead go for oats, which are a great source of soluble fibre, and those labelled as ‘wholegrain’ for added goodness. When it comes to cereals that tend to be higher in calories such as granola and muesli watch out for portion sizes; have a go at weighing out your cereal one morning to see exactly how much you are putting into your bowl!

Bread – Choose wholemeal bread for added fibre and remember that the breads which release their energy the slowest include pitta, seeded or granary varieties.

Nuts – Nuts provide fibre and nuts are a great source of healthy fats. A small handful of nuts (25g) is a great snack, especially for on the go!

Chocolate, Sweets, Biscuits, Crisps & Fizzy Drinks – Aim to keep high fat/sugar processed foods to a minimum. Remember though that it’s not the food per se that is ‘unhealthy’ it’s the quantity and frequency that it is eaten in that counts; the odd biscuit here are there may not do any harm but frequent intakes of these foods may increase the risk of obesity, tooth decay and heart disease. Diet or no added sugar fizzy drinks are kinder to both your teeth and weight!

Cereal Bars – When it comes to cereal bars always check the ingredients list; if glucose, syrup or sugar are the first or second ingredient then think twice about buying these. Choose cereal bars based around oats and fruit, for examples Jordans, Nutrigrain and Nakd bars.

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I really hope that you find this guide useful. Remember though that you don’t necessarily get ‘good and bad’ foods, just good and bad diets! Fill most of your trolly with fruits, vegetable and salad, some of it with lean meat or vegetarian source, fish and diary, whole grains and finally just a little bit of what you fancy and you won’t go wrong. 

Finally, only buy what you want to eat; remember that your fridge and cupboard contents are the main influence on your diet!

For more from Nicola please visit her website www.nicsnutrition.com

Note: Nicola will be joining our Expert Panel at The Capsule Beauty & Wellness Event on Thurs 5th Sept.

To book your tickets please visit the link below.

Top 10 Mood Boosting Foods

We know that the balance of our wellbeing often lies in getting enough sleep, enough exercise and enough water, but getting the right nutrition is also imperative to the positivity of our mood and aptitude of our performance. We’ve probably all experienced the post lunch slump after indulging in convenience pasta and sandwiches, leading us to feel sluggish and tired at our desks and thus stressed at the end of the day having not completed the amount of work we should have. So much of our energy and concentration is determined by what we feed our brain that Health Fitness Revolution has made a list of top 10 Mood Boosting Foods to help you stay happy and alert in the office, at home and at play.

“Serotonin is a brain chemical that is known to impact your mood. Keeping levels in balance can help promote a feeling of calm, well-being, mental alertness, control and an increased ability to deal with stress.  Since diet can influence our supply of serotonin” says, Samir Becic

  • Nuts and Seeds: Researchers from the University of Barcelona found that men and women eating almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts had higher levels of serotonin metabolites. In addition, just one ounce of mixed nuts a day may also help reduce obesity, blood pressure and blood sugar.

  • Greek yogurt: This dairy pick is packed with more calcium than you’ll find in milk or regular yogurt, and it can make you happy, too. Proper calcium levels give the “Go” command, alerting your body to release feel-good neurotransmitters.

Pan Fried Salmon

Pan Fried Salmon

  • Ocean-going cold water fish: such as salmon and mercury-free tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help improve depression symptoms. A past study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that volunteers with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had fewer depression symptoms and a more positive outlook.

Tofu Salad Bowl

Tofu Salad Bowl

  • Flaxseed: another great source of omega-3 fatty acids. They also are rich in magnesium and B-vitamins, nutrients that help us combat stress.

  • Soy isoflavones: help with mood and mental function. These foods are also rich sources of vegetarian (no-cholesterol) protein which may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well. Add soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy milk to your daily diet.

  • Avocado: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, and potassium.

  • Asparagus: This vegetable is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan, which serves as a basis for the creation of serotonin, one of the brain’s primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. High levels of folate also add to asparagus’ happiness-promoting profile because research has shown that up to 50 percent of people with depression suffer from low folate levels.

  • Dark chocolate: which contains an antioxidant known as resveratrol. This nutrient can help boost brain levels of endorphins and serotonin, helping to improve your mood. The recommended dose is one ounce per day (not the whole bag!)

Boiled Eggs

Boiled Eggs

  • DHA: is a particular form of omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in many foods. But including organic DHA-fortified eggs in the diet will also provide a good source of protein and tryptophan. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that when people eat eggs for breakfast, they feel more satisfied and therefore consume fewer calories throughout the day compared to a high-carbohydrate breakfast, such as a bagel.

  • Mussels: loaded with some of the highest naturally occurring levels of brain-protecting vitamin B12 on the planet. That makes it an important food source, considering that a significant portion of the U.S. population is B12 deficient. Maintaining healthy B12 levels preserves the myelin sheath that insulates your brain cells, helping your brain stay sharp as you grow older. Mussels also contain trace nutrients that are important to balancing your mood, including zinc, iodine, and selenium, things vital to keeping your thyroid, your body’s master mood regulator, on track.

With a mood-boosting diet change, don’t forget to include exercise as well. Regular exercise can be as effective for depression treatment as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. Just getting out for 30 minutes can have a huge impact on your outlook for the rest of the day.

For more information about Health Fitness Revolution please visit their website.

How To Grow Herbs Indoors - The Daily Gardener

Are you one of those who hate winter because you can’t cultivate your beloved garden outdoors? There is no reason to get upset anymore. Consider growing plants indoors on a sunny windowsill! Who knows, you might like this kind of planting so much that you decide to keep your mini garden inside your home throughout the year.

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You should be aware that growing indoors can be a bit harder for plants than outside progress, but many plants, especially herbs, don’t need excessive care and can thrive quite well in flowerpots.

For a start, it is crucial to assess your options and existing conditions in your home. You can establish an indoor herb garden in a window of your kitchen. The next step is to decide which plants you can maintain properly and which size of the pots will fit the space you live and each particular plant.

Also, you should decide if you want to plant seedlings or have knowledge, capability, and patience to start with seeds. In that case, my advice is to buy as better seed quality as possible to avoid disappointment with the result after exhausting work. Let’s see how to do a good job.

Plant An Herb Garden On A Sunny Windowsill

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Many people would like to have their own garden, but very often the kitchen windowsill is all they have at their disposal. Believe it or not, for many herbs it is enough! Actually, that way of planting herbs is not complicated. There is only one condition – to enable plants to have enough sunlight and excellent drainage. Everything else depends on you and the needs of the plants you want to cultivate.

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Choose the window with at least partial sunlight (minimum four to six hours a day). The perfect solutions are a southern or southwest facing windows or a position under a skylight. Alternatively, provide fluorescent lighting (a led grow lights) which can supplement the sunlight during the short winter days.

For most gardener lovers, this type of garden is an ideal solution because growing herbs indoors provide so many privileges. These herbs:

  • Add fresh flavor to your everyday food even in winter.

  • Bring a fantastic fragrance for your home.

  • Have therapeutic properties. It is proven that greenery positively influences the establishment of a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the house.

  • Save your money since fresh herbs can be pretty expensive at the supermarket.

I will give you some guidance for planting an herb garden on a sunny windowsill here, but if you are afraid that you can’t do everything by yourself, you should find a good book on the subject.

Choose And Prepare Your Pots

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Purchase a separate pot for each plant or make a winning combination of herbs in one bigger flowerpot. It is a beautiful solution to use a variety of plants and arrange them to be both attractive and useful. However, make sure they require the same conditions for healthy and vigorous growth.

It does matter which type of flowerpot you select. Ceramic and plastic ones will hold more moisture than pots made of porous terra-cotta. For many herbs, clay pots are the best choice for better growth.

Also, make sure they have drainage holes with the tray to keep the water. That will allow the plant to dose the amount of water it needs and protect your windowsill from extra water. Buy a well-draining potting mix and fill the chosen pot. Provide an adequate depth for each particular herb.

Pick Your Herbs

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I definitely prefer growing plants from seeds, but choosing seedlings at the farmers market, a local garden center, or the store with planting supplies is a faster and easier solution. In that case, don’t forget to check young plants for pests before you buy them!

Maybe you should choose that way for your first season. Also, there are many plants and seed garden catalogs available that can help you in the very beginning. When you become an experienced and skillful gardener and discover which plants you like most, you can visit the nearby farm to find seeds or order it online.

Keep in mind that annual herbs start their growth from seeds much easier than perennial herbs. The second ones will need more time. You can also consider starting with seedlings even though you are an experienced gardener.

How many herbs you need for a season, will depend on the way how a particular herb grows, and how much of each plant you use while cooking. For example, one pot of bay or rosemary will be enough for your household, but you will probably need a larger quantity of chives, basil, thyme, cilantro, oregano, mint, dill, or parsley. Maybe you should provide two pots of each of these herbs for winter.

Plant Your Herbs

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The first thing you should do is to choose an adequate mix of soil. A potting mix is the best choice for your new indoor garden on a sunny windowsill. That mixture is designed primarily for plants growing in the flowerpots. The other option is to pick out a potting mix for cactus because it allows water to stream through the soil quickly.

Fill a pot with soil mix. You can choose:

  • Special potting soil

  • A commercial seed-starting mix

  • A 50:50 combination of the two

Avoid using soil from your garden because it is too heavy and usually contains organisms which are a primary cause of many plants diseases.

Before sow your seeds, you need to check the instructions on the seed packet to determine the right depth for planting each herb you choose. If you have no space for bigger flowerpots, choose dwarf varieties of plants.

Provide Proper Maintenance

After you plant seeds or seedlings, place a pot in a sunny windowsill away from drafts. Pay attention to leaves. They shouldn’t touch a cold window. That way, you will protect plant foliage from injury. Some herbs need to be pinched to make shrubby.

Now, it is time to start taking care of your delicate baby plants to get the desired harvest after a certain time.

1. Fertilizing

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Since herbs you cultivate indoors can’t receive nutrients from rain and garden soil, you need to fertilize them with a granular or liquid fertilizer every other week or every other month depending on both the herb and the fertilizer.

If you notice too much delicate growth, decrease the amount of fertilizer or extend the period between two fertilizations. If the plants are progressing slowly, add compost even before the predetermined date.

If you are not sure about the amount of fertilizer you should use, keep in mind that it is always better to under-fertilize your plants than to over-fertilize. One of a premium potting mix I highly recommend is Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix.

2. Watering And A Good Drainage

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Take care to water your plants regularly, but try to pour off the excess water because you don’t want to get rotten roots. There are several ways to do it properly:

  • Place stones in the tray.

  • Elevate the flowerpot above the tray where excess water collects.

  • Provide good drainage (layer of pebbles at the pot’s bottom and a flowerpot with a hole)

  • Don’t water your plant again until the top inch of soil dries.

  • Purchase a pot that fits your plant. It should be at least an inch larger than the size of the root ball.

  • Keep in mind that some herbs such as mint or basil like when the soil in the pot is a little bit moister all the time.

  • Herbs native to the Mediterranean climate such as oregano, bay, thyme, and rosemary, prefer growing in fast-draining soil.

  • Also, you should use a plastic, metal, or rubber saucer under the flowerpot to catch water and protect the surface of your windowsill.

3. Lights

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Lack of lights is the most crucial challenge when growing herbs indoors. Most of these plants need six to eight hours of sunshine a day. Therefore, try to put your herbs on a sunny, south-facing windowsill or use good fluorescent grow-lights.

If your space is small and you can put flowerpots only on shelves or some corner, or if your windowsill is facing north, you need a more compact system such as the Micro Grow Light or merely use a spotlight fitted with an incandescent light bulb. That way, your plants will get up to 16 hours lights daily. You can adjust the number of hours optionally.

4. Temperatures

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Most herbs are like us. They prefer the temperatures of 65 to 75 F (it is approximately 18 to 24 C). Except for basil, herbs usually don’t mind if the temperature drops to the 50 F (10 C) during the night.

Don’t forget to keep foliage away from the windows to protect them from coldness and avoid too dry air because most herbs have difficulties to tolerate lack of moisture in the air.

Best Herbs For Sunny Windowsills

As I already said, almost all herbs can grow indoors if you meet the underlying conditions for their growth. However, some of them are more suitable for cultivating on the windowsill, especially during winter, due to lower growth or because they can adjust to the limited growth conditions in pots easier.

For the first season, try to choose herbs you can find in the store. If you are a beginner, concentrate on plants which require primary care. I will try to help you to make a good choice until you gain the experience which will help you to expand the range of plants on your window in the future.

Some plants thrive well in pots and can live on your windowsill for years. Your best options are:

  • Basil

  • Bay laurel

  • Chervil

  • Chives

  • Mint

  • Oregano

  • Parsley

  • Rosemary

  • Scented geranium

  • Thyme

It is crucial to know how certain plants reproduce. There are three primary ways:

1. Herbs That You Should Grow From Seed

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For some herbs, the best solution is to buy seeds and cultivate it according to the instructions given on the packaging.

  • Basil

  • Parsley

  • Chervil

  • Borage

  • Calendula

  • Sage

  • Cilantro

  • Dill

2. Herbs That You Should Grow From Cuttings

These herbs you should take in spring or summer (except rosemary and tarragon that root better in the autumn) and use for cuttings.

  • Lavender

  • Oregano

  • Sage

  • Mint

  • Thyme

3. Herbs That You Should Grow From The Division

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Some perennial herbs you can easily divide by digging up their root system, cutting it into a few pieces, and re-plant them.

  • Oregano

  • Monarda (bee balm)

  • Marjoram

  • Thyme

  • Chives and garlic chives

  • Lovage

Brief Tips For Growing Herbs Indoors On A Sunny Windowsill

  1. Avoid plants that grow too tall and/or wide

  2. A sunny window is always the best choice, but you can use fluorescent lights if it is necessary

  3. Water your plants only until the excess of liquor drains out

  4. To encourage your herbs to grow bushy, start snipping them as soon as they are 6 inches (15 cm) tall

  5. Never trim more than 30% of herbs foliage

  6. Start seeding the new plants to replace the old, especially annual ones, on time

  7. Keep in mind that touch with a cold window can damage foliage

  8. You can plant a few different types of herbs in a single pot only if they have similar requirements regarding humidity, temperature, and light

  9. To keep your plant shrubby, pinch back its branches

  10. Dwarf varieties of plants are more suitable for indoor gardening

  11. Never begin harvesting before your herb adjusts to its new flowerpot

  12. Remove bad leaves regularly and use them as compost

Summary

There are so many reasons for everybody to start growing herbs indoors on a sunny windowsill. That way, you will provide fragrance and greenery for your home and fresh herbs for your family throughout the year.

Generally, this type of gardening doesn’t require much equipment and effort. Secure your herbs with adequate temperature and lighting, and water and fertilize them regularly.

Be sure that these little scented, green beauties will reduce your stress, brighten your mood, feed you, and clean your air. It seems to me that these are enough reasons for you to start growing herbs on your sunny windowsill right away.

More about the author:

Peter Weeks is the writer of The Daily Gardener blog.

Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.

Recipe: Charred courgette & salmon with herb sauce

As the summer approaches we’re looking to ditch the stews and pies in favour of lighter, healthier dishes. Lets be honest the thought of bearing our carb loaded winter bodies right now is quite a scary prospect and so we’ve enlisted the help (basically begged!) of FYOUFODMAP’s Nikki Griffith who’s shared some of her bloat beating recipes.

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Charred Courgette & Salmon with her sauce.

Courgettes can be a bit bland, so the cooking of them is mega important here. Don’t get impatient, you need to wait for the char. It’ll add depth and smokiness and will give you the perfect backdrop for the more punchy salmon.

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Guidance from Monash University says that up to 100g of courgette is low in FODMAPs. Anything higher and you’ll come up against high amounts of fructans. That means you can pretty much eat one courgette per person (by the time you’ve lost the end bits and a few scraps). The restrictions on size definitely put this into the ‘light’ dinner category so if you’re hungry, maybe add a potato salad on the side.

  • 400g courgettes

  • 4 large, skinless and boneless salmon fillets

  • 1 red chilli, sliced

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For the dressing:

  • 20g basil (including stalks)

  • 8g parsley leaves

  • 10g spring onion greens

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil

  • 15ml garlic-infused olive oil

  • Half a teaspoon of salt

Serves 4 for a light lunch or dinner

  1. Slice your courgettes lengthways (I use a mandolin for this on the second-to-thinnest setting). Heat some oil in a large griddle pan and cook your courgettes in a single layer until you see visible dark char lines, then flip them and repeat on the other side. You’ll need to do this in several batches but I promise, the time investment is worth it. If you put them all in at once then you run the risk of a mushy mess and none of the char flavour. Once all your courgettes are done, pop them in your oven to keep warm on the lowest heat setting.

  2. In a frying pan, heat some oil and then add your salmon fillets (the oil should hiss as you add them if hot enough). Cook them for 3 to 4 minutes on each side depending on how you like them to be done. I like mine still a bit blush in the middle so I do 3 minutes each side.

  3. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor*.

  4. Once your salmon is ready, remove it from the pan and flake it into large chunks. Then carefully combine everything in a large bowl, making sure not to break the salmon up too much, and serve with some sliced red chilli on top.

*If you don’t have a food processor, try finely (and I mean finely) chopping your herbs, mixing all the sauce ingredients together and pressing with a pestle. It won’t be quite the same but it’ll still be fresh and zingy. 

As mentioned, if you’re following a low FODMAP diet then you’ll need to stick to these amounts. If you’re not, you can add extra courgette for a more substantial serving.

WHAT IS THE LOW FODMAP DIET?

It’s a diet that’s been specially developed by the clever researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, to help relieve people suffering with IBS, which affects 1 in 7 people, from the associated symptoms.

The word FODMAP is an acronym, standing for:

  • Fermentable (basically that refers to foods that are broken down by gut bacteria and then produce gases in your belly)

  • Oligosaccharides (in particular: wheat, onions and garlic)

  • Disaccharides (that’s lactose to you and I)

  • Monosaccharides (a.k.a. fructose – found in honey, high-fructose corn syrups and fruits like apples)

  • And

  • Polyols (Sorbitol & Mannitol – these are found in some fruits and vegetables)

You can find a full list of foods you can and can’t eat on the Monash FODMAP app.

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The idea of the low FODMAP diet is to cut from your diet foods high in FODMAPs, for a period of 6 to 8 weeks. For some people with a gut-imbalance such as SIBO, they may be able to go back to eating as normal. Others will gradually re-introduce foods back into their diet, helping them to identify which are causing nasty symptoms.

For more about Nikki or to read more of her recipes please visit www.fyoufodmap.com or follow her on instagram at @fyoufodmap

Recipe: Sweet Potato Fritters with Pomegranate Syrup & Feta - Jen Miller

As featured in Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Life Hacker and Dr Axe, Jen Miller of JenReviews.com has the authority on all things Food, Fitness and Home. Here she shares with us one of her favourite appetizer recipes for family gatherings, Sweet Potato Fritters with Pomegranate Syrup & Feta.

Growing up sweet potatoes were relegated to the Thanksgiving table, and often confused with the yam. Since then I’ve found a fondness for sweet potato as long as it was exclusively used in savory applications, no honey or brown sugar, please! That is until I found a way to pair them with spices that only plays with the idea of sweetness.

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Playing with food is fun, and one of the greatest of ways is to turn that food into a crispy fritter. The flavors used marry together while the hot oil infuses them into the chosen main ingredient; grated sweet potato in this case.  Most would go with herbs or just a simple salt and pepper seasoning, but because I wanted that idea of sweet without the sugar I used cinnamon and nutmeg for sweet warm flavors, and coriander seed and cumin for fresh earthiness. The combination of which becomes something that creates a craving for one more bite and a pomegranate fruit seemed like an ideal pairing to these tastes. Turned to a thick sweet syrup, the pomegranate turns this nearly into a dessert, begging to have a sweet whipped cream or honeyed yogurt to go with it. A crumble of salty feta, on the other hand, brings the dish back to an appetizer or luxurious snack.  But really, it could easily go the other way if one was so inclined! These sweet potato fritters are so versatile it’s hard to choose how to present them most deliciously!

Sweet Potato Fritters with Pomegranate Syrup and Feta

Course Appetizer

Cuisine American

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 40 minutes

Total Time 50 minutes

Servings 4

Ingredients

Fritters

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes

  • ½ onion

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1/3 cup flour

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander seed

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt

  • 2 eggs

  • Light oil

  • Crumbled feta cheese

Syrup

  1. 1 pomegranate

  2. 2 tablespoons sugar

  3. 1 cinnamon back

  4. 1 cup water

  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch

    Notes: These fritters can be made ahead of time and frozen for a couple of months. Follow all of the steps up until serving, and instead freeze them. Pop them back into hot oil to fry after thawing when ready to use.

STEP ONE – PREPARE THE FRITTER INGREDIENTS

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Run cold water over the sweet potato to clean off any dirt or debris before peeling all of the outside skin and rinse again.  Remove the peels from the onion and garlic cloves and cut off the root ends. Slice the onion thinly and then chop the slices into ½ -1 inch long pieces. Mince the garlic cloves and set them aside.

STEP TWO – GRATE THE SWEET POTATOES

Grate the sweet potatoes on the large hole of a grater.

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STEP THREE – MIX THE FRITTERS

Place the sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, and flour into a bowl along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander seed, cumin, and salt. Crack the eggs into the bowl. Stir it together until it comes to a thick mixture and everything is evenly distributed throughout.

STEP FOUR – HEAT THE OIL

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Pour light cooking oil into a deep pan to about 1 to 1 ½ inches deep. Place the pan on a burner over medium-high heat and wait for the oil to reach about 350F, checking with a cooking thermometer. Alternatively, use a deep fryer, which has a temperature gage built in. If a thermometer isn’t available, drop a ½ inch cube of bread into the oil and if it turns golden brown in 30 seconds, it is hot enough.

STEP FIVE – FRY THE FRITTERS

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Scoop up a spoonful of the sweet potato mixture and transfer it back and forth between two spoons to form a loose, but sticky, ball. Drop the sweet potato ball into the hot oil and let it cook through; about 3 minutes on one side, turn and 2-3 on the other.

STEP SIX – DRAIN FRITTERS AND SEASON WITH SALT

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Transfer the finished fritter to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with the rest of the fritters, cooking them in batches of 4-5 at a time. When the fritters are all cooked, sprinkle them with coarse salt and allow them to cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

STEP SEVEN – REMOVE SEEDS FROM FRUIT

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Cut the pomegranate in half with a chef’s knife. Remove the seeds from one half of the pomegranate and put them in a bowl as you work. Transfer the seeds to a small saucepan and add in the sugar, cinnamon stick, and water.

STEP EIGHT – COOK THE POMEGRANATE SYRUP

Put the saucepan on the stove over high heat and bring it just to a boil. Turn the temperature down to medium-low and let it simmer about 10-15 minutes. It’s ready when the liquid has reduced by about half and the juices from the seeds have seeped out into the pan. Turn off the heat.

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STEP NINE – STRAIN THE SYRUP

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Pull the cinnamon stick out of the pan and discard it. Stir the cornstarch into the mixture and let it thicken. Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve and toss out the seeds.

STEP TEN – DRIZZLE FRITTERS WITH SYRUP AND FETA

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Serve the sweet potato fritters with the pomegranate syrup drizzled over them, a crumble of feta, and additional pomegranate seeds from the other half of the pomegranate on top. As I mentioned above, these fritters can easily be turned into dessert if the feta is left out and either a creamy honey goat cheese is substituted or whipped cream!

For more information about Jennifer Miller please visit www.jenreviews.com

The Vegan Protein Boost Your Breakfast Porridge is Missing!

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and choosing the right one can not only boost your metabolism and brain power but also give you that extra energy boost you need to see you through to lunchtime and prevent you from reaching for those naughty 11am treats. With the majority of nutritionists agreeing that protein is the way forward for staving off hunger pangs, Sheela Prakash at thekitckn.com has the perfect recipe for adding an extra serving of this superfood group to your usual morning porridge and whats more its gluten free!.

 

"If you're looking for a way to make that morning bowl of oatmeal have even more staying power, you may have already tried to fancy it up. Maybe you've cooked it in milk or topped it with a fried egg, but there's still another way to boost the protein content of your breakfast cereal and it starts by swapping out those oats all together.

Why You Should Be Eating Quinoa Flakes for Breakfast

Quinoa flakes are a solid swap-in for oats or other more common hot breakfast cereals. Made from quinoa seeds that have simply been rolled out flat, they are a great plant-based source of protein and they're naturally gluten-free. While oats contain protein too — and in fact, they contain a similar amount — the protein in quinoa flakes is extra valuable because it's a complete protein. That means it contains all the essential amino acids the body can't make on its own and needs for energy and more. The protein in oats is incomplete, so it contains only some of these essential amino acids.

Since the flakes are so small, they also cook incredibly fast. In fact, stovetop instructions for preparing the flakes as a breakfast cereal requires just 90 seconds of cooking time! Their texture is similar to instant oats because of their size. Try a half-and-half mix with your favorite oatmeal or go for a full whole bowl. Either way, you'll get a hearty, cozy bowl of breakfast porridge that will keep you satisfied.

From there you can top them just like your favorite oatmeal. So if the aforementioned fried egg sounds tantalizing, by all means, add it in! But since you're already getting a generous dose of complete protein, you can keep this vegan with the addition of almond milk, dried fruit, and a dash of cinnamon and brown sugar."

To read more articles like this please visit www.thekitchn.com

The 25 Best Detox Foods

Its the time of year where we've over indulged at Christmas and New Year and are feeling sluggish, toxic and just plain unhealthy. During the holiday period we tend to consume twice as much food as we normally would and give binge drinking a hall pass resulting in a battered liver and overstretched digestive system but fear not as help is at hand as Kelly Choi, editor of the 7 Day Flat Belly Tea Cleanse and Eat This Not That.com recommends her top 25 foods that will naturally revive your body and mind and get you feeling energised for the year ahead.

"If you read about ancient torture methods, you’ll find some pretty gnarly stuff like something called “infusion,” in which a victim is bound and then force fed a list of repulsive substances like salt water, honey, vinegar and hot peppers. But wait! Isn’t that the Master Cleanse?"

Truth is, you don’t need to kill yourself with a “detox” regime this New Year’s for rapid weight loss, or t