Sweet Potato & Dukkah Crisps

sweet potato crisps

We’re into the dog days of summer and the weather has gotten exceptionally warm here in London. No complaints here – I adore hot weather and any opportunity to spend some time getting some vitamin D.

Happily, my enforced furlough at work has coincided with this heatwave and I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, playing around with new recipes and ingredients.

Last week, I tried the Beetroot Crisps recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book, It’s All Easy. It wasn’t successful for me, so I made my own twist on the recipe. I knew it was successful when I got a text from M telling me they were ‘the bomb’. 😊

sliced sweet potatoes with dukkah

What you need:

2 large sweet potatoes, washed. (don’t bother peeling them – the skin has loads of nutrients!)

4 tbsp dukkah spice blend

4 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt

A mandoline

sweet potato crisps just out of the oven

How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 175C.
  2. Place your mandoline over a small bowl and use it to make circles of sweet potato. Slice up both sweet potatoes.
  3. Use a baking brush and brush 1 tbsp of olive oil over a large baking tray.
  4. Place the sweet potato circles on the tray, making sure they are evenly spaced and don’t overlap.
  5. Brush 1 tbsp olive oil over the sweet potatoes, making sure they only have a light coating. Too much olive oil and the sweet potatoes won’t crisp up.
  6. Take 2 tbsp of the dukkah spice blend and sprinkle it over the sweet potatoes.
  7. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the sweet potatoes.
  8. Place the tray into the top shelf of the oven for ten minutes.
  9. After ten minutes, move the tray to bottom shelf of the oven.
  10. Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a bowl and repeat steps 3-10 with the rest of the ingredients.

Enjoy!

Stories I loved this week.

wildflowers

 

How’s your week been? We’re planning a fun weekend, mainly geared towards pre-birthday celebrations for J.

He’s turning three (3!) and I think we’re more excited than he is. We’ve got a trip to Whipsnade planned for Saturday and then a trip to see a working Thomas The Tank Engine train on Sunday. J is going to love it and I can’t wait to see his reaction.

WINONA FOREVER. (NY Mag)

Have you gotten into the Olympics yet? It’s taken me awhile, but I’m there. I’ve been devouring articles and think pieces about the athletes and events. Something that consistently irritates me is the intertwining of female athleticism and femininity. Why do we need to be reassured about their femininity? (The Atlantic)

We’re currently in throes of tackling a very specific fear of monsters with little J and we’re focused on not amplifying the fear – tricky when it’s 3am and you have a crying child on your hands. (The Cut)

I love the sound of this summer gazpacho, especially on these hot August days in London. (Bon Appetit)

Could you cut out all food with added sugar? (Self)

And what about all the sugar in fruit. Wrongly demonised, the sugar spike from whole fruit is modulated by the fibre and phytonutrients in the fruit. (Nutrition Facts)

I love this so much. Reminds you that the way your loved ones (especially your children!) is so different from the way you see yourself. (Cup of Jo)

 

Motherhood right now.

bear and thomas

My little boy turns 3 in two weeks. 3!

I know what motherhood is with a baby. It’s a steep learning curve, moments where you’ve never loved anyone this much and in this way before, indescribable exhaustion, a new sense of self as a woman, wife and mother.

And then all of sudden they’re no longer babies and want nothing to do with babyhood.

I’m now learning that life with a little boy toddler is joyful, heart stopping and exasperating in equal measure. But that’s motherhood.

croquet

It’s those moments where they test the boundaries, along with your patience.

The moments where they strain to assert their independence in the most amazing ways (Mama, I will get it. Mama, I will put my shoes on. Mama, I will put the alarm on(!)).

The moments where their total lack of fear and sense of danger send your heart into your throat.

And those little, sweet moments that make everything worth it. When they give you an unprompted thank you, an unprompted kiss. When they turn to you and say, “Mama, I love you so much, I like you so much.”

sleeping J

Stories I loved this week.

wembley stadium

I got my exam results this week and I’m officially out of my funk! Without fully realising it, I’ve been really stressed out about getting my results back and it’s had a knock-on effect on other parts of my life. When I got my mark and saw that I had passed (with flying colours!), it felt like a weight off my shoulders.

And now the weekend’s here and I’m looking forward to pottering about, heading to a few children’s birthday parties with little J (he’s almost 3 and he has a fabulous social life!) and checking out Soho Farmhouse with some friends. Here’s hoping we have some great weather too!

I have been really getting into using my pressure cooker this week and I’m really enjoying going through Nom Nom Paleo’s pressure cooker recipes. The Instant Pot really is a game-changer!

It’s amazing what Olympic / professional athletes eat and utterly unsurprising they gain so much weight in the off-season. (Bon Appetit)

More reasons why breast milk is amazing. There are compounds (human milk oligosaccharides) in it that were previously thought to be indigestible, now known to there specifically to good bacteria in the baby’s gut. So cool. (The New Yorker)

Is your gut making you sick? (The Guardian)

How community supported agriculture is becoming messy in the US. (New York Times)

I really want to try this earl-grey glazed salmon. (Hemsley + Hemsley)

6 things you need to know about marketing yourself as a practitioner. (Dr. Jill Carnahan)

Cinnamon, Date & Cashew More Balls

date, cashew, seed and cinnamon balls

I made these very moreish date, cashew, seeds and cinnamon balls on Saturday and needless to say, they were almost all gone by Monday morning. Hence the name, more balls – you know, because you want more!

They’re a really nice variation on the date bars I usually make and seem to hold their shape better too. Perfect for picnics, lunch boxes and post-workout snacks!

What you need:

25 medjool dates, pitted (I really like the Ocado own brand dates – they’re really good quality and inexpensive)

100g cashew nuts

50g sunflower seeds

50g pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons cinnamon

1 blender (I prefer to use my Magimix to break down the dates and seeds)

How to make it:

1. Add the cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon into a blender and pulse until the mixture is crushed and blended.

2. Drop the dates into a blender and pulse until they are combined.  It’s super important to stop before the dates turn paste-like, as this will make it much harder to roll the mixture into balls.

3. Add the dates to the dry mixture and combine with your hands until the wet and dry ingredients are fully combined.

date, cashew, seed and cinnamon mixture

5. Wet your hands slightly (this makes the dates less sticky), take some of the mixture and roll it into golf sized balls.

date balls and mixture

6. You should be able to make about 20 – 25 more balls from the mixture, depending on how generously you size the balls!

7. Take the rest of the cinnamon and dust it over the top of the finished more balls and enjoy! They should keep for about 5-7 days, if covered, but I bet they go faster than that!

date, cashew, seed and cinnamon more balls

Stories I loved this week.

church

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your mojo? You know, that spark, the get-up and go that pushes you forward into new projects and new work. I’m starting to feel like I need to issue a missing person’s report for my mojo. I was hoping that a bit of rest and relaxation after my exam would rejuvenate me, and it has, but my pep has still not returned. Any advice?

I’m hoping that a change of scenery will do the trick and have organised some day trips. Oh and the holiday research has begun again in earnest. There’s nothing like a bit of Mediterranean sun to put things into perspective and bring back the mojo and energy.

I love this day in a life from one of the top researchers and new mum at Google: “It’s almost like somehow I give myself the permission self-consciously to just do the piece that I think is the most important because I know I can’t do it all.” (NY Mag)

10 facts you probably don’t know about sunscreen. I really want to try the Beauty Counter sunscreen – when will they start to sell it in the UK! (Well + Good)

I really want to try some of these ice lolly recipes! (Bon Appetit)

An objective view on ‘clean eating’ and ‘dirty food’ (i.e burgers, kebabs, chicken, etc). (The Guardian)

Baking successfully with alternative flours. The almond flour lemon yoghurt cake looks particularly good. (goop)

Get rid of your back up plan. (The Pool)

8 women talk about how they feel about their post-baby bodies. (The Cut)

Photo by Matthieu Million

You and your gut.

balanca

What is gut bacteria, the gut microbiome and why are people talking about it so much lately? There has been a huge surge of interest recently, off the back of a lot more research into this area.

Here are some of the key terms that are worth knowing:

1. Gut:  Your gut is your oesophagus, stomach, colon, appendix, large and small intestine. Basically, it’s one long tube that runs from your mouth to your anus.

Did you know that this is where 70% of your immune system is – yes, 70%! You have immune cells in your gut that communicate with other immune cells in your body to make sure things are running properly. If they aren’t, these immune cells will activate cytokines (inflammation markers) to tell the brain and other immune cells that there are suspicious microbes, toxins and food proteins that need to be removed so they don’t go into the blood or the lymph. So if you’re sensitive to gluten and you’ve had some food with gluten in it, the immune cells in your gut will let your brain’s immune cells know that everything isn’t copacetic and something has to be done immediately.

Your gut is also connected to your brain. You know that feeling of butterflies you get in your stomach? That’s your gut  communicating with your brain via the enteric nervous system and the vagus nerve.

2. Enteric Nervous System: Did you know that there is a communication pathway between your gut and your brain? And it’s completely separate to the central nervous system – it acts like a second brain. A second brain! It has a number of functions, including  controlling the signals of fullness that go from your stomach to your brain, how quickly you digest food and even certain emotional responses. Interestingly, the enteric nervous system is also connected to the autonomic nervous system – you know, fight or flight (sympathetic) and rest and relaxation (parasympathetic) – so the way you eat – rushed and on the go vs. relaxed and evenly – can have a real effect on how well you digest your food.

3. Gut Microbiome / Bacteria: This is important. In a nutshell, your gut microbiome is the balance between good and bad bacteria in your stomach, colon, large and small intestine. And not to worry, the good and bad bacteria in your gut are a good thing – there are billions of them and they are part of you! The key is to have a balance of the two, and that the bad don’t dominate the good.  For example, we all have the Streptococcus and H.Pylori bacterium in our guts. They become problematic when there are too many of them.

4. Gut Dysbiosis: This is very common, unfortunately. It’s an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, in favour of the latter. This isn’t good and can lead to a number of problems, including food intolerances, frequent colds, flu and fatigue, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis and a number of different autoimmune conditions. Gut dysbiosis is commonly caused by antibiotics (which can wipe out all of the good bacteria in the gut), c-sections, formula, artificial sweeteners, stress, too much processed food and a lack of insoluble fibre in the diet.

5. Prebiotics: These are foods that help support the growth of good bacteria in the gut, so   can boost your immune system. Food for your gut bacteria? This is a good thing. Onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus and bananas are all prebiotic foods. Eat them regularly, if you can.

6. Probiotics: Probiotics are another name for the good bacteria that line your gut and something that you want to have a lot of. Most probiotic food is fermented, which makes sense, right? Bacteria aids the fermentation process and you want good bacteria to make this happen. Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, greek yoghurt, kefir, natto (fermented soy beans), unpasteurised cheeses, kombucha and bone broth are all great probiotic foods.

There are also some fantastic probiotic supplements on the market. These can give your gut bacteria a little push if you been on a round of antibiotics or are feeling like your immune system needs some extra support. I really like BioCare and VSL (these are powerful!).

Take care of your gut and it will take care of you!

Photo by Chris Montgomery