With Autumn just around the corner it feels like the right time to spice up our baking with these Autumn Spice Muffins. With the wonderful warming scent of cinnamon and packed full of carrots, courgettes and apples they are a nutritious choice for your lunchbox. Baking a batch of these at the start of the week means that we always have something to pop in our lunchbox or grab when we’re off to classes with the kids in the evenings and weekends. With a host of lovely slow release energy from seeds and oats they’ll keep you going when you need them to.
Autumn Spiced Muffins
Gluten, dairy, nut and flour free.
Pre heat oven to 170C
½ cup currants
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs (or replace with flaxseed eggs)
100gm coconut oil (soft or melted)
180g ground sunflower seeds (equivalent to 1 cup of whole sunflower seeds)
1 cup oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup coconut sugar
3 Tbsp ground linseed
Preheat the oven to 170C
Grate the carrot, courgette and apple. Place in a large bowl mix together with all the other wet ingredients and cinnamon. Mix well.
Add in the dry ingredients and fold together until mixed and there are no pockets of dry ingredients left.
Scoop equal amounts in paper or silicone cases.
Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins.
ENJOY your Autumn Spice Muffins! Why not whip up some of our ABC Nut Butter to slather on when you are super hungry.
This week we’re planning and plotting, to raise our supper game by learning the batch cooking basics with Kate from the Nourish team. Kate’s a keen cook but with little spare time on her hands she sometimes struggles to keep meals well balanced for her family. That’s where batch cooking comes in!
My batch cooking journey began 12yrs ago. Before that I was young, free and scooping up hummus and crackers on my way out in the evening, or occasionally cooking for a dinner party. Things changed slightly when I started commuting and moved in with my other half. Dinner was something we took in turns to create and if we didn’t have time then a takeaway was an easy option. The big change for me was when my first son was born and suddenly getting home from work and either throwing some salad in a bowl or picking up a Thai for supper wasn’t really an option anymore. Mentioning my struggles to my mum, she reminded me of how, when we were little, she spent weekends filling the freezer and jars with simple food that just needed heating up.
Getting started with batch cooking basics.
Throughout my maternity leave I honed a short list of simple, easy to create batch cooked meals. It wasn’t rocket science but it sure made life easier during a busy week! I’d suggest first making a list of your family favourites. Work back from there to ensure you don’t get too much food waste.
What I learnt first was to keep it simple and stick to things that I felt confident we would use regularly. I learnt my lesson early on with freezing all manner of complicated meals that never came out the same once they’d been frozen. Far too many times I made batches of salads for lunches that week, only to forget them after the first day and be left with a slimy bowl of leaves!
What can I batch cook? Almost anything, but keep it simple!
My rule of thumb is that on Saturday or Sunday I will make food for the start of the week, and keep them in the fridge for 3 days. For the later part of the week I’ll freeze things on a Sunday and defrost them the day we want to eat them. Eating something while the ingredients are properly fresh is best for you. This is when your food will provide optimum nutrition and goodness.
Freezing into portions is good practice so that if someone is running late etc you aren’t wasting food unnecessarily. It also gives you options if for some reason, like in my house, someone absolutely doesn’t want to eat what’s on the meal plan for the week! I also love to roast a pile of veggies for the fridge to have for my lunch during the week. These I then pack down into silicone storage bags as a daily portion.
It might sound a little dull at first but I find that planning my week’s shop carefully means that I have very little, to no, food waste. It also sets everyone’s expectations at the start of the week, we enjoy doing this together on a Saturday morning as a family. There are definitely nights when we don’t plan, often Saturday night or Sunday lunch for instance. The rest of the time we find when we’re super busy that having planned everything means we eat well balanced, nutritious meals, instead of grabbing something that’s maybe not so good for us.
Storing your batch cooking.
We’ve switched all of our freezer and fridge containers over to sustainable options over the past few years. I love these silicone fridge/freezer storage pouches for storing anything from fruit slices for when the kids get home, to soup or sauces. Or for bigger things, like main meals or muffins, I use our metal lunch/storage boxes. You could try using glass jars and/or storage boxes too, we’re a bit clumsy here so they don’t work for me!
I personally don’t like to store things in the freezer for more than a month or two or the fridge for more than 3 days. Keeping what’s in the freezer on a fairly strict rotation so I don’t end up with lots of bits and pieces leftover and taking up space for ages. I generally jot a date onto my freezer and fridge storage boxes/pouches, just to keep me organised.
My top 4 tips for keeping on track with batch cooking.
Soup – stored in tupperware in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer. Some of our favourites are creamy brassica and roast cauliflower. Soups are great as they fill that gap when you don’t know what to have for lunch, or someone is late home from work.
Keep a few bags of frozen veg and fruit in the freezer. Frozen fruit and veg is frozen within minutes of picking and this ensures that they retain virtually all of their just picked goodness. Try companies like Pak’d for frozen fruit, nothing like a smoothie or some instant banana ice cream on a hot day. Or a bag of peas can instantly warm you up from the inside soup on a cold day.
Our baked courgette fritters with avocado, tomato salsa are one of our favourite lunch/snack time things to grab. Especially at the moment when we are still happily working our way through a glut of courgettes in the garden. The courgette plant has the ability to take over the most organised of veggie beds, however it seriously delivers in volume of crop! Gluten free and made with just a handful of store cupboard ingredients these will keep well in the fridge for a few days, although they many not last that long! Don’t fancy the salsa? These are delicious served up with a dollop of hummus too. We hope you enjoy our baked courgette fritters.
Baked courgette fritters with an avocado tomato salsa
Gluten, dairy, egg and grain free. Suitable for a vegan diet.
Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius
1 large courgette (or two small/medium ones)
1 cup ground almonds
5 Tbsp ground linseeds
8 Tbsp Water
1tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp pink salt
in a small bowl mix together the linseed and water and set aside to thicken for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile grate the courgettes and place in a large bowl. Add the ground almond, cumin, salt and cracked pepper (to taste). Mix thoroughly, finish by mixing by hand. You will find it becomes dough like as the ground almond soaks up the moisture from the courgette.
Add in the thickened linseed/water mixture and mix together well. You should have a thick batter that you can shape by hand.
Shape into 8 large fritters and place on a baking stone or lined baking tray. Drizzle avocado oil over each fritter.
Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes.
Serve with this avocado and tomato salsa..
1 ripe avocado
1 large tomato (seeds/pulp removed)
½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Peel and pip the avocado, then chop the flesh into small cubes. Take the tomato and do the same. Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve alongside your fritters.
Joining us this week on the blog is Neleta Winter (BSc dipION mBANT) reigstered nutritional practitioner to look at Eating for Autumn. With the change in the seasons comes a definite change in diet, but what should we be eating to help maintain our health and wellbeing? If you’d like to learn more about Neleta and her practice, check out her bio at the foot of the page.
Eating for Autumn
Autumn is upon us which means that the colder days and darker nights will soon creep in and with the change in seasons, does this mean our diets will need to change?
Eating cold salads on a cold day isn’t going to be that appealing, but eating for the season is not only great for the environment but also for our health.
You see, seasonal vegetables and fruit contain higher concentrated amounts of nutrients and can actually help to support our health and wellbeing by providing the nutrients our body needs during different times of the year. As the temperature drops and there’s the increase in risk of colds and flus, we need to be eating foods that nourish us from the inside, strengthen our immune system, boost our energy levels to make us feel well and energised. And that is where seasonal foods come in. Nature is very clever in that it provides us with those warming foods, immune supporting foods and foods that will help to support energy levels when the nights draw in and light is low.
Root vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potato are all wonderful autumn vegetables. They are packed with Vitamin A and C which are potent antioxidants that can help to support our immune system. Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, which has been shown to support the immune system. They also contain Vitamin C that can help to increase white blood cell production and help immune cells work more effectively. Sweet potatoes are not only a versatile vegetable but they are also full of Vitamin C which has been shown to support the production of collagen needed for skin health.
Have you ever felt that autumn skin when it starts to get dry and dull?
Eating nourishing vegetables and fruit packed with nutrients such as vitamin C, E, A, zinc, and selenium will help to support your skin health. Studies have shown that eating carrots has been linked to improved antioxidant status. Fruits such as apples and pears are abundant in autumn and did you know that apple skins contain quercetin, a type of plant pigment flavonoid that helps boost your immune system and reduce inflammation and not forgetting the vitamin C found in pears that helps to support our immune function.
Leafy greens such as kale and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower are also available in September And they both contain high levels of vitamin C, which not only packs a powerful antioxidant punch, it helps fight off infection and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, including vitamin E.
All these seasonal vegetables and fruit contain an abundant amount of fibre which can will ultimately support our gut health. You see fibre feeds the good bacteria within our gut which allows them to produce Short Chain Fatty Acids.
Short Chain fatty acids are produced when the friendly gut bacteria ferments fibre in your colon. They are the main source of energy for the cells lining your colon. They are also involved in the metabolism of important nutrients like carbohydrates and fats. Did you know that up to 70% of our immune system is found in our gut? So, feeding our gut with nourishing foods that will support the good bacteria, provide fibre to help produce short chain fatty acids will actually help to support our immune system.
Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats and buckwheat are wonderful additions to help support and stabilise blood sugar levels, especially on the darker and shorter days. Wholegrains are the complex carbohydrates that haven’t been highly processed. They contain wonderful vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins needed for energy production,
Magnesium and iron, antioxidants, protein and are high in fibre. They help to provide us with long term sustainable energy as they are broken down into sugars a lot slower within our body. Therefore not causing a huge rise in insulin levels. The fibre content of wholegrain helps to slow down this breakdown of sugars and also helps to support our good bacteria and increase the feeling of fullness.
Beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans are not only amazing plant based sources of protein but they also contain high amounts of fibre. We know that fibre can help to support our gut health, as well as being packed with nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and iron. They are a great addition to dishes to help bulk meals out and make for a wonderful hearty addition in the colder days…think warm lentil salads, stews with beans, and Curries with chickpeas.
Nuts & Seeds
Did you know that nuts and seeds were classed as an autumn food but now we are able to get them all year round? Yet they provide us with not only a wonderful source of protein but amazing nutrients. Such as, magnesium which is needed for over 300 chemical reactions within the body. including keeping our immune system strong. It helps to strengthen muscles and bones, and supports many body functions from cardiac functions to brain functions.
Nuts are antioxidant powerhouses. The antioxidants and polyphenols found in nuts, can help to combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
Almonds are a great source of Vitamin E for skin health. They also support immune function and preventing inflammation. Selenium and zinc found in Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds are vital for immune health. Zinc is crucial for the development and function of cells mediating the immune system. It helps to breakdown the proteins within viruses and bacteria and increases the activation of the immune response against infections.
All these amazing foods provide such an array of wonderful nutrients as well as fibre that will only help to support our gut health and in turn support our immune system to help us fight off any autumn colds and flus as well as supporting skin health during these cold and windier days.
Autumn brings not only colour to the trees but also to our food so think colourful, and try and incorporate a wonderful array of colourful vegetables and fruit at each meal time which will help to provide an abundant amount of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre.
Neleta Winter is a BANT registered Nutritional Practitioner and Nutritional Chef. She’s the founder of Nourish & Flourish Nutrition where works one to one with individuals to help to support and optimise their health and wellbeing And find balance with food. She also runs food and nutrition workshops, talks and demos to show people that eating to nourish our body and mind is easy to do and of course delicious. She believes that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless but by using everyday superfoods we can support and optimise our overall health while enjoying the food we eat.
With larder cupboards being a massive interiors trend at the moment we’ve been inspired to create our Wishlist for the nutritious larder. For most of us the idea of a huge larder stuffed full of wonderful ingredients is a bit of a pipe dream. Does anyone else incessantly pin pictures from Pinterest of beautifully jarred ingredients with gorgeous labels, all lined up like sentries, onto their boards? Whilst we might not all be able to achieve a beautiful larder we can certainly make sure that it’s full of healthy, nutritious ingredients to sustain us through the Autumn and Winter.
With our own commercial kitchen working towards being zero waste we’re applying the same ideas to home too. Refill/Zero Waste stores are a fantastic resource for cutting down on your food packaging. Reuse jars and other containers from home and fill up with dried goods like chickpeas, oats and more.
Most refill stores will also have a selection of products like our own Coconut Bites, that will be packaged in Home Compostable or recyclable packaging. We love our local store in Reigate, Inside Out, for it’s Faith in Nature refill station. This is such a simple way to cut down on plastic packaging. We’re refilling into glass bottles with a pump from We Earth London (they have a 5% off discount code for 1st orders on their site when you sign up to their newsletter).
What does wholefoods mean? Wholefoods refers to foods that are pure and as unprocessed as possible. This covers legumes, fruit, veg, seeds, nuts, grains and more. Whether you cut them, whizz them, bake them, they remain a wholefood that hasn’t been messed about with, other than to mix it with other naturally sourced ingredients. Eating a whole-food diet is sometimes referred to as “clean eating” because you avoid processed foods and focus on healthy, nutritious whole foods. Processed and refined foods contain preservatives, artificial colors, and other chemicals that may be toxic. Eating whole foods means you avoid these unwanted additives and get the full suite of antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and other nutrients in the foods.
During Organic September we’d urge you to make the change, where possible, to organic ingredients. Wholefoods with no nasties added are the fuel that we all need to get through the change in seasons and keep our health on track. Why not try a veggie box from Riverford or support your own local one? These reflect the wonderful seasonal produce that we have available to us in the UK from our own farms.
All of our own products are based on the principle of eating wholefoods. You won’t find any ingredients that you don’t recognise easily in any of our Macaroons, Bites or Slices.
So what wholefoods might you find in a nutritious larder?
Nuts and seeds.
A handful of nuts or seeds, to sustain energy and provide healthy fats is an easy snack to take on the move with you. Both are a great source of protein and help with that feeling of satiety. We love to add a spoon of ground almond to porridge or to help thicken sauces or soups too. They add a lovely creaminess. A favourite, home from school snack, of our IGTV superstar, Inge, is a pot of nut butter to dip in either veggie sticks or slices of apple. Fancy making your own nut butter, try her very own recipe here.
Seeds are naturally crammed with real goodies like protein, iron, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Which makes them a super nutritious food for a healthy diet. The rich nutrient content of seeds makes them particularly good for those leading an active lifestyle. A scattering of activated seeds takes a humble salad to new heights, especially if you add a hit of chilli powder to them. We love the many flavours of the Boundless Seeds, they really add a punch to any dish. We also add seeds into our baking too, why not try our quick seed bread recipe?
The delight of eating seasonally truly comes to life when you get excited about the start of your favourites coming into season. For some it’s the start of the asparagus season, for others it might be plums. Whatever it is there is nothing better than a gorge on your faves once they are readily available.
For those able to tolerate legumes they are an incredible way to add bulk, and fuel, to create a healthy, well balanced meal. Think cannellini beans in a stew, black beans in your chilli or that perennial favourite, chickpea packed hummus. We love to make a big batch of Mexican inspired refried kidney beans. Great at keeping us going when the chill sets in.
Frozen peas and broad beans are also great staples to have at hand that cook quickly and have retained all their natural goodness by being quickly frozen at picking. Cooking a piece of fish? Why not knock up one of Ineke’s favourite side dishes, smashed pea and avocado to serve alongside?
With such a wide choice of wholegrains there is something for everyone. Whether you follow a gluten free diet or not. Choose from grains like oats, quinoa, spelt, brown rice, pearl barley to add some serious fibre to your diet. With many wholegrains packing a nutritious punch they are invaluable and have made different uses from sweet to savoury. Play with these grains in your baking by replacing some of the flour with oats for instance. Or why not add a handful of pearl barley to a soup to create a hearty meal?
Few cold mornings are complete in the Nourish kitchen without a bowl of bircher muesli with warm plant milk. A great slow release of energy throughout the morning will keep the busiest of families fuelled up. We love Primrose Kitchen for their delicious, organic, bircher muesli.
Herbs and spices are the key for taking a bland dish from zero to hero. What would carrot soup be without coriander, or chilli be without paprika? Now is a great time to have a little herb and spice audit. There is nothing worse than thinking you’re adding a fragrant few leaves of tarragon only to find that it’s lost its scent and is out of date.
Fresh herbs can be grown on a windowsill all year long. They provide a welcome spot of colour to some of the more everyday dishes. Tomato soup taken to new heights with a dollop of basil or rocket pesto. Or a jacket potato and hummus can be transformed by a dollop of chimichurri sauce.
We hope we’ve inspired you to audit your cupboards for the new season, and that you’ve enjoyed checking out what’s in the nutritious larder.