What’s for breakfast?


Cereals have been around longer than you may think.  Back in the late 1800s they started life as healthy breakfast options, however by 1939 sugars and sweetening agents were added, and health took second place to what gradually became a hugely marketable industry.

By the 50s the likes of Mr Kellogg set the norm that cereals should be our first meal of the day.  Sundays may have been cereal-free zones for some, but in the main, the daily choices to ‘break your night’s fast’, had names like Cocoa Pops, Cheerios, Rice Crispies, Sugar pops and Shreddies, with most of them loaded with sugar and very few health-giving nutrients.

In the early 1900s the Swiss joined the American cereal craze and brought out muesli, a healthy mix of rolled oats, dried fruit and nuts which gained huge popularity in the 1960s, and currently sits at the top of preferred cereals in Europe.

So why are cereals so popular?

Initially, back in the late 1880s, they were a novelty but still an unknown territory, and the taste was pretty bland.  Once sugar and sweetening agents were added after 1939, that was it, the world was hooked because both gluten and sugar are highly addictive.  Plus they were, and remain, a quick food option.  Take the cereal out of the packet, add milk or juice, and voila, breakfast is served.

The trouble is, most commercial cereals are low in nutrients and fibre – don’t have much substance to them – and the brief spike of energy from the hidden, or blatantly added, sugars crashes your system about an hour later, and you’re hungry all over again.  Time for a second breakfast – and more sugary calories.

Then there’s the gluten component.  Grains just ain’t what they used to be.  We’ve pfaffed around with new varieties and changed old ones  too much for our own good, increasing the yield perhaps but also increasing the gluten component – making them more shelf-friendly, but often less gut friendly.

Another reason for cereal’s popularity is that we are living in a fast-paced western world.  Despite the apparent awareness (T.V., written articles, books, various movements) on the Worth of Real Food, and the Rise of Disease, owing to the current rubbish modern diet, the majority of the western world still yearns for something easy and packaged.  Fast options to match the fast-pace of life.  My cooking-from-scratch would be too old hat for most, and even though there’s a range of wonderful movements on the rise, eg. Cooking from Scratch, Mindful Eating, Slow Cooking… or just Slow, there’s still a huge part of the western world living in the fast, and even faster, lane.  There resides a whole other issue for chat another day 🙂

With gluten now in the limelight as a potential intolerance food,  part of my nutrition recommendations for patients with gut dysbiosis, will often include a gluten exclusion period of 1-2 weeks.  A short week or two of leaving out gluten in order to find out how the person feels.   Makes sense, but wow, the reaction to this suggestion can be spectacular.

‘But WHAT will I eat for breakfast!!!?’ Confused, devastated expression.

Yes, I do agree that the move from cereal, or toast, to no-cereal and no-toast is not easy.  But there really are some delicious options.

So here we go.  Some suggestions for anyone who says they don’t know what to eat for breakfast other than muesli, corn flakes, cheerios or toast.

If you’re a lover of eggs, how about  a poached or softly boiled egg on a bed of greens.  The greens replace the toast!  Try fresh rocket or shredded spinach or kale – cook them lightly in broth or coconut oil and add spices of your choice, if you prefer cooked to raw.
For added interest and taste, sprinkle a mix of lightly toasted seeds on top, or add some cubes of avocado.  If you haven’t overcooked your softly boiled or poached egg, the yolk will break and give you the ‘dressing’ on your bed of greens (then add some freshly ground pepper or turmeric).
This is a great protein breakfast with a wide selection of vitamins and minerals from all those greens.  Plus it’s tasty and easy.

Second suggestion:  Same as above but use half a large tomato instead of the greens.  The tomato replaces the toast!

Or how about a thick, nourishing juice?  This may be in the too-hard basket for many, but once you have your new mini blender or juicer, you won’t look back.  Instructions and recipes abound,  and there are loads of affordable ones on the market (my youngest at college just bought a blender for £15).  Adding ground flaxseeds or chia seeds – protein –  will bulk up the juice and satiate you.  And remember, keep vegetables as the main ingredient rather than fruit.

Saying that, there’s nothing like a plate of exotic fruit when you’re on holidays.  Papaya is one of those remarkable fruits with high concentrations of excellent anti oxidants; high in vitamin C and B vits as well as minerals, plus the enzyme papain which has anti- inflammatory properties – great if you’re suffering allergies, or digestive problems – IF, however, you tolerate exotic fruits.
Do add nuts to your fruit platter so that you’re having protein with your meal and slowing down the sugar hit from the fructose/glucose in the fruit.

If, like me, you love chai lattes try the real deal rather than the powdered mix offered by many high street coffee shops – nothing tea-like about them, just a huge sugar hit and all sorts of strange things in the powder.  Mix all the whole chai spices (cardamom, ginger, allspice, cinnamon or just the ones you like) with a green tea – another immune booster – or a peppermint/green tea – even more interesting – and add the brew to some hot coconut or almond milk.

What other breakfast options are there?  The range is inexhaustible because who says that breakfast has to include fruit or eggs, tomatoes or for that matter, toast or cereal?!

This week I’ve been eating chicken/veg broth every morning for breakfast.  I have tailor-made my breakfast to suit what’s going on in my life, namely an infection which moved from drippy cold to heavy chest cough on the plane somewhere over Dubai.

Chicken-veg broth is nutrient-dense and easily digestible.  It’s proving to be a wonderfully nourishing start to my day…even my voice returns for a brief visit after the morning hot comforting bowl.
And what benefits am I reaping from my slow-cooked chicken broth?
Firstly, loads of minerals in a form that my body can easily absorb – minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and sulphur, which are needed for every system in my body to function well.  The broth also contains collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine – with glutamine and collagen being real gems as they have immune-boosting properties and soothe the digestive tract’s lining.  Broth has become a real benefit to clients with digestive disorders, whether we’re talking Crohn’s, IBS, UC or leaky gut.  And considering the link between auto immune diseases and gut dysbiosis, bone broth should be part of the menu for anyone with an auto immune condition.

There is nothing wrong in making up your own breakfast.  A bowl of soup, or some steamed vegetables, or brown rice and avocado with nuts perhaps?

Some useful tips, however, to ensure your breakfast will sustain you longer than an hour might be:

Add a protein source to your breakfast in order to fill you up, slow down any blood glucose hit,  and drip-feed your energy levels throughout the morning.  This protein could be eggs, chicken, goat’s cheese, plain yoghurt, nuts, seeds or cooked pulses.

Secondly, try to add some vegetables to your breakfast plate.  Our bodies just can’t be alkaline enough in this acid-food western world.

Finally,  eat to enjoy!  My soup has become a real comfort this week – definitely food for the soul.  Hope you make yours the same 🙂

Real tomato ketchup


Tomato ketchup and roasted spicy nuts have been this year’s Christmas home-made yummies to give to friends.  The ketchup is easy and delicious – add more chilli if you like yours to have a real kick.

For approx 3 bottles

3kg tomatoes
1 red pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 red onions, finely chopped
50ml apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sharp paprika
a pinch cayenne
3 tsp ginger, freshly grated
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp coriander seeds


Halve and de-seed the pepper then cut it, and the tomatoes, into chunks.  Combine both in a pot with the finely chopped onions and garlic and some water.
Leave to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if it’s too thick at this early stage. Remove from the stove and blend until smooth.  Add the vinegar and spices and simmer for another 1.5 – 2 hours, until it thickens.
Do a taste test and add seasoning if required, then pour into sterilized jars.
Seal and turn upside down until cooled. The ketchup will keep, unopened for about a year. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

Roasted savoury nuts


All about nuts and seeds at the moment.  I’ve just posted more about them here on the blog and  Appleaday facebook page because I seem to have spent weeks roasting different combinations for presents.
This recipe is such an easy and delicious addition to the festive season and they will store for a couple of weeks in airtight containers… if you’re very good at self-control.


100 g cashew nuts
100 g macadamias
50 g brazil nuts
50 g almonds
100 g pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
25g butter
1 generous tbsp thyme or chestnut or dark honey (ideally manuka…but too expensive at the mo)
about 4 small sprigs rosemary and thyme, leaves removed, finely chopped
sea salt, freshly ground pepper
pinch or three of cayenne or chilli powder


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees centigrade and arrange the nuts on a sheet of baking paper.  Bake until golden and crunchy, c. 15-20 mins.

Meanwhile, heat the honey and 3 tbsp water until dissolved.  Remove from the heat and stir in the spices, butter and salt.

Quickly fold in the nuts and transfer them back to the baking sheet and spread them out as much as possible so they’re not touching (they’ll clump otherwise due to the honey).

Bake for another 5 or so minutes in the oven until a lovely caramel colour, then remove and allow to fully cool.

Butternut chickpea casserole

Butternut Chickpea casserole recipe

This is a combination of two old recipes which I tweaked yet again for appleaday’s recent online Detoxathon.  It was one of the dishes participants yummed about the most.  Such an easy one-pot dish, it has a wonderful selection of spices, including cinnamon, ginger, coriander, turmeric and saffron.Cinnamon must be one of my all time favourites, my ‘rescue’ spice for anyone trying to get off sugar cravings.  However, it not only improves insulin efficiency and regulates blood sugar, but it also acts as an antimicrobial (some studies showing it’s effective against the likes of H.pylori!), and the cinnamaldehyde component apparently blocks the release of inflammatory agents in our cells.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons research shows it can reduce inflammation linked with neurological disorders like Parkinsons and Alzheimers.
Research will continue, but this dish is staying as it is.

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
100g red lentils
1 x 400g can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
pinch of saffron
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 x 400g organic chopped tomatoes
400g butternut, peeled and cubed
800ml vegetable stock
handful of spinach, sliced
generous handful parsley, chopped
generous handful coriander, chopped


Heat the oil in a pot over a medium/low heat and add the onions and leek until they are transparent. Then comes the celery, garlic and spices (not saffron) until aromatic.
Next step, the saffron, lentils, cans of chickpeas and tomatoes. Stir well then add the chopped parsley and half of the coriander. Cook for about 10 minutes over a low heat.
Mix in the cubed butternut and stock and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until the butternut squash is cooked.  Turn the heat off, add the spinach and return the lid so that it wilts slightly but keeps its green goodness.
Add a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Serve with rice or quinoa and scatter the remaining coriander over the finished dish.

Eggs with chard or spinach


This recipe was on my website a while back, but seems to have vanished, so due to request, here it is again – unfortunately the photo of mine steamed the camera (!) so here’s a spinach version (without tomatoes…but you get the drift 🙂

Chard is a great fibre source, plus it’s packed with vitamin C and is a good source of calcium, vitamin K, magnesium and vitamin A (beta-carotene).

The trick is not to overcook so it still has life and ‘green’ – have your eggs at hand.

We like a touch of spice in our foods. I’ve used harissa here, which is chilli/peppers based. Add a tablespoon or replace the harissa kick with a good addition of crushed garlic – or just eat as is.

(Serves 4)
2 small red onions, finely sliced
150g red chard, or 200g spinach leaves, cut into shreds, red stems and leaves
1 generous cup water – or Marigold stock broth
2 tbsp harissa – optional; or garlic if you prefer
4 chopped tomatoes (or ½ can organic tomatoes)
freshly ground pepper
4 organic eggs
8 basil leaves, roughly chopped


Add the finely sliced onions to a medium hot pan of hot broth/water and cook until soft.  Add the harissa – and/or garlic – plus and tomatoes, then add the chard, stirring well to mix with the onions and tomatoes.

As the chard begins to wilt and flatten have your spoon ready to make the 4 ‘nests’ for the eggs. There should be a generous bed of tomato/greens in your pan so that the eggs aren’t just being fried directly on the pan surface. I made quite deep nests, pushing the chard aside in order to cook my eggs on a layer of juice and chopped tomatoes. Cooking the eggs on top of the chard will take longer – and chard loses its charm when overcooked!

Once the eggs are cooked to your taste scatter the basil leaves over the top and add freshly ground pepper.

Use an egg slice to cut a square of tomato-greens with the egg in the centre – and that’s it, so easy.

Herb, apple and mushroom risotto


This recipe was inspired by a risotto we ate recently in the Torstrasse, Berlin, in a restaurant called “Lava”.  Their risotto was intriguing – barely any rice in sight, it was hiding beneath a mound of delicious mixed greens and strips of what appeared to be carrot.  The orange carrot around the sides of the plate turned out to be fine strips of Mimolette.
This is a cheese traditionally produced in Lille but made in the tradition of dutch Edam, so if you can’t find Mimolette cheese, Edam will work well.  We used strips of soft Pecorino as that’s what we had in our kitchen!   For those giving dairy a wide berth, this risotto tastes delicious without the cheese.

I prefer cooking my risottos in a very large pan – that way I can see all the ingredients & add more colour if necessary.

Serves 2-4 depending on starter or main

250g arborio rice

1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 small leek, finely sliced

1 small bunch each of dill & basil;  1/4- 1/2 small bunch tarragon, all chopped

small handful of parsley, finely chopped

200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced or chopped to your taste (or any mushroom with a strong flavour)

3 generous handfuls of roughly chopped baby spinach

1 red chicory, sliced – a handful of rucola/rocket also works

2 garlic, crushed

1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1.2 litres hot strong vegetable stock…more depending on how well you like it cooked

a generous dollop of light olive oil or coconut oil

optional: 25g finely sliced Edam cheese


In a large pan, gently fry the chopped onion in the oil until transparent; add the leek until softened, then the mushrooms. Stir to avoid ‘catching’.

Mix in the chopped herbs then add the arborio rice and coat well.

Add a ladle of the hot broth and wait until the rice mixture has absorbed the liquid.  Then continue adding the broth, a ladle at a time, stirring to avoid the mixture sticking to the pan.

The amount of stock may differ according to your taste – some prefer risotto ‘al dente’, others like it well cooked. If you need less liquid, well and good, however should you want to cook it longer, then just add a little extra broth or hot water.

When the risotto is almost done to your taste, add the garlic, grated apple, chopped greens and chicory and stir into the mix so the greens are just wilting.  Do a taste check; add a little sea salt or pepper if desired.

Serve as is, or decorate your plate with finely grated strips of Edam, then place the hot risotto on top.
Guten Appetit!

Turkish sweet potato savoury cake


We ate this delicious ‘cake’ – a giant Turkish kibbeh –  on a bed of rocket and watercress.  I tweaked the original recipe (from Salma Hage), using rice flour, slightly different spices – and more sweet potato  as we couldn’t taste it in the original.  Delicious served warm from the oven.

Serves 6

2 kg sweet potato
350g bulgur wheat soaked in water for 15-20 minutes
4 tbsp rice flour
1 red onion, roughly grated
250 g mozzarella, grated
120g well drained sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp cayenne (or more it you like hot)
1 tsp sweet paprika
freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil for brushing and drizzling



Note:  After soaking the bulgur wheat, put in some  muslin and squeeze well so that all the liquid is removed.  A sieve is not enough!

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 6.  Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake until tender, about 45-60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool so you can handle it.  Cut in half, scoop out the flesh and put into a bowl together with the grated onion, all the spices and chopped herbs, flour, mozzarella, tomatoes and the drained bulgur wheat.
Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
Brush a 30cm round cake pan with oil then line with baking paper.  Put the mixture in the prepared pan, pressing down firmly.  Score the top into 8 portions and make a 2cm hole in the centre (a clean index finger does the job!)
Drizzle with oil and bake for about an hour.
Cool before cutting – best served still warm from the oven.  Either enjoy a slice on a mixed bed of salad greens and herbs, or as an accompaniment to a larger mezze meal.

Fennel and citrus Salanova salad

salanova-lettuce-salad Recipe

I just love this lettuce!  Salanova – sounds and looks like something you can really salivate over.  First brought onto the market in 2011 by Rijk Swaan, a Dutch global seed company, I came across these beauties on a recent trip to the Cotswolds.  “No genetic engineering, just years of meticulous breeding experiments”, according to Rijk Swaan seed company, the salanova offers about 40% more leaves than the usual lettuce.

Worth growing!


Serves 4-6

2 oranges, thinly sliced with skin & pith removed
6 radishes, finely sliced
⅔ cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 generous handfuls Salanova lettuce (or frisee or rocket if you can’t find it)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



Combine the oranges, fennel, radish and dill in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Marinate for about 30 minutes.

When ready to serve the salad, put the Salanova in a large bowl and add the orange, fennel and radish mixture.  Pour most of the lemon juice dressing over it all and toss to combine.

Taste and adjust with more of the dressing if you wish.

Serve topped with pine nuts and feta

Risotto Cake with Roasted Vegetables


What a success this dish had been.  It not only looks good but tastes delicious.  Originally a Jane Baxter recipe, I’ve tweaked it quite a bit to make it a little easier and more to our taste.

It definitely needs some salad greenery alongside.  Either a small bed of mixed greens as a starter, or a generous side salad if serving it as a main meal.

The recipe is not difficult and actually it’s surprisingly quick.  Risotto however is always needy as you have to stay by its side and not slip out of the kitchen to send off emails or hang out washing.   (You can however go to the oven and turn over the roasting vegetables, and remove them from the oven whilst risotto ‘ladeling’).

As it all has to cool I actually left the finished risotto and vegetables for the day – covered –  then, early evening, I spent an easy 10 minutes ‘layering’ the cooked components, then baking it for 30 minutes.
The layering part was fun, and the end result is a ‘wow’ moment.

Easily serves 6 as a starter.  It also should have managed 6 as a main – with a generous rainbow-content salad alongside.  However as three of our foursome had ‘seconds’, only a small 5th portion was left – and no 6th !
Either be cruel and say ‘no seconds’ to your six guests, or aim to serve 4 and have yummy left-overs the next day.


Serves 4-5-6

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 generous tbsp olive or coconut oil (for cooking)
…plus some olive for coating the vegetables, oven-ready
pinch of saffron
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds
1-2 chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped (if you like chilli, 2 were very manageable)
200g chopped tomatoes, canned (or use the whole can and a little less broth)
450g arborio (risotto) rice
1.2 litre hot vegetable stock
1 aubergine, thinly sliced, but not shaved
3 courgettes, thinly sliced, ditto
1 bunch fresh basil, torn or sliced
250g mozzarella, sliced
200g roasted red peppers (some then need peeling but some don’t – up to you!)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the onion in the oil over a low heat until transparent.  Add the crushed garlic, fennel seed, saffron and finely chopped fresh chilli and stir for another few minutes before adding the rice and chopped tomatoes; coat the lot well over a medium heat.

Now add the stock gradually to the rice, as one does with risotto.  One ladle at a time.  Wait for each one to be absorbed before adding the next (the 20-25 mins goes quickly and you can indeed be checking on your roasted veg at the same time).
When most of the liquid is used up check the rice – cooked but still a little ‘al dente’.  Season with some sea salt – if needed – and fresh pepper, then add the basil leaves.
Let cool.
Meanwhile, toss the aubergine and courgette slices in some olive oil and bake in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, until limp and a little coloured.  Place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil left over.  These cool quickly.

Butter or oil a loaf tin well. I used a tin which took 2litres of poured water as I can find all these tin sizes a bit wayward at times; I trust ‘content’!)
Line the base with a strip of baking paper – or if you love ‘lining’, do the whole tin.

Layer your tin as follows:
Take 1/3 cooled rice mixture and press it into the bottom – easy and fun because it has become quite sticky and pliable.  Don’t be overly generous with your 1/3 as you’ll run out of rice for the final layer as I did the first time I made this.

Top this lay with ½ your roasted vegetables and mozzarella cheese, ie. a row of courgette slices then aubergines and red/yellow peppers and then mozzarella.

Repeat with another 1/3 rice and the remaining vegetables and mozzarella, then finish with the last 1/3 of rice.  That’s it.

Bake in a 150c degree oven (or 350F or gas mark 4) for 30 minutes until golden on the top.  Run a knife around the edge of the tin, place a serving dish on top and turn it over.  If it doesn’t flip, just turn back and run your knife around the edges of the tin again.
The risotto cake has come out beautifully every time although the last time I had to re-run the knife twice!

Serve hot or room temperature with salad.

Wild garlic soup

garlic-soup recipe

Now is the time for wild garlic soup.  Well, actually it’s a bit late as the flowers are in full bloom and the leaves’ nutrients are highest when blossoms are still tightly furled.
However the heady scent coming from today’s freshly collected leaves means nutrients and flavour abound, so I still made up this soup – an easy Mon recipe, using what I had in the fridge (no cruciferous please as these will ruin the delicate flavour).
I added just the usual vegetables you would use for a basic broth – celery, onion, carrot and a potato for thickening.  Easy.
And if you’re off potatoes, try adding another carrot.
This is such delicately fragrant soup – may even win over the staunchest of non-garlic eaters!


Serves about 6-8

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1large carrot, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
3 large handfuls of wild garlic leaves, torn
1 potato, roughly chopped
garlic flowers & some leaves for decorating
Enough vegetable broth/water to cover (about 1.5 litres, but add more after blitzing if too thick, and return to the stove)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper…if you must (I didn’t).


Gently sauté onion in the heated oil until translucent.  Add the water or vegetable broth (home-made or use about 1 heaped tbsp of Marigold broth powder to a litre of water), then add the vegetables and finally the leaves, leaving a few as decoration.

Let simmer until soft then blitz in the blender, taste in case you feel it needs a touch of pepper or sea salt – but this soup has such a delicate flavour, don’t be tempted to play around with too many extras.

Serve with wild garlic flowers or finely chopped garlic leaves.  A fab healthy soup – and what a colour!