Billy’s on the Road, Billingshurst

Billy’s on the Road was the last finalist to be judged for the Best Family Dining category in the Celebration of Sussex Life Awards 2017. And what a surprise! Housed in an old Little Chef building on the A29, it’s been transformed into a busy cafe with the feel of an American Diner – bright colours, big portions, great prices, happy customers.

We went for a Saturday brunch and were welcomed by Billy herself as chef for the day and an army of really delightful staff. It’s no wonder they were winners of the Outstanding Customer Service category at last years Sussex Life Awards!

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Cowdray Farm Shop Cafe, Midhurst

We recently had the great pleasure of eating out at this fabulous cafe, the second of three finalists in the Best Family Dining category for the Celebration of Sussex Life Awards. As the judge, my job has just got a whole lot harder!

Not only was the food fantastic (home-cooked and locally sourced with plenty of options for the whole family) the service was second to none. And food tastes so much better when it’s served by genuinely happy, friendly staff!

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The Loft at Sparks Yard, Arundel

I’m thrilled to have been asked to judge the Best Family Dining category at this years Celebration of Sussex Life Awards and have the incredibly onerous task of eating out at three of the best family restaurants in Sussex before deciding on a winner! This year it’s going to be particularly tough as the finalists all sound amazing – The Loft at Sparks Yard in Arundel, Billy’s on the Road in Billingshurst and The Cowdray Farm Shop Cafe in Easebourne, near Midhurst.

We’re just back from a fantastic lunch at The Loft in Arundel, where our youngest son, the grandparents and our dog gave us a proper sense of how family friendly this restaurant really is. Thumbs up all round!

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The Simple Things – Working with Nature

Will and I (and the children, chickens and dog) are delighted to be featured in this months issue of The Simple Things magazine. We’ve written an article about the joys of allotmenteering, growing organic & biodynamic fruit and veg and the tasty pleasures of cooking up a feast with our own homegrown produce.

There’s a moon gardening & biodynamic factsheet on The Simple Things website for your perusal, or better still, get yourself a copy of the magazine, read the whole article and take a peek at some luscious pictures of our patch!

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The Green Goddess

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Leafy green veg like kale and chard are some of our favourite winter crops – incredibly easy to grow and brilliantly versatile in the kitchen. There’s a great thrill in gathering an armful of kale on a frosty morning  or heading down to the allotment with a torch to find some chard for dinner! Big armfuls of curly kale and black ‘nero di toscana’ are destined for a batch of kale crisps and a very tasty green juice, our so-called ‘Green Goddess’. Full of homegrown green goodness and a real kickstart to the day….

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Berry Chia Jam

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We’ve been winkling out the last of the blackberries from the hedgerows around our home and turning them into jam! Ah jam… swirled into porridge, spread on toast, dolloped on scones. So delicious, but usually loaded with sugar. Enter chia jam… just as tasty, just as pretty and no refined sugar in sight, so it’s a whole load better for you, plus all those tiny chia seeds are packed with protein for extra oomph. Hooray for healthier jam!

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The Simple Things – Keeping Hens

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If you’ve ever fancied keeping hens and need some fluffy-bottomed inspiration, then you might like to take a peek at an article I wrote for one of my favourite magazines, The Simple Things. I was delighted to be asked to share my experience and our adventures with our quirky little flock of allotment garden hens – Dotty, Bean, Sweetpea, Bluebell & Squash. There are lots of tips about choosing chickens, coops, fencing & food and some very tasty recipes for cooking with their amazing eggs.

To read the article in full and for a copy of the recipes you can still buy the June issue of the magazine or have a look at my hen keeping factsheet on The Simple Things website. Keeping chickens is such a joy, surprisingly simple and great fun…

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Quinoa Superseed Loaf

Packed with protein and rich in omega-3 oils, we absolutely love this alternative to our regular loaf! The recipe was a ‘eureka’ moment in the early hours of the morning, when I’d been up developing and testing recipes for our new book ‘Superfood Breakfasts‘. It’s full of seeds for depth of flavour and lots of crunch, as well as being gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free & yeast free AND it’s a doddle to make (no kneading or rising required!) Perfect…

Delicious just as it is with squished avocado & tomatoes or toasted and spread with homemade brazil nut butter & chia jam. We’ve been munching on it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hope you enjoy it too!

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and the winner is…

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Big congratulations to one of our FB friends Alethea Mifsud! Your name was first out of the woolly hat and you’ve bagged yourself a copy of our new cookbook, ‘Superfood Breakfasts’. Yay!

Thanks to everyone for your lovely comments and don’t fret if you didn’t win – the book is now available in bookshops and online, plus I’ll be sharing a few sneaky-peek recipes on my blog over the next few weeks, like these Avocado, Nori & Nut Cream Toasts on homemade Quinoa Superseed Loaf! I hope you find some breakfast inspiration to kickstart your days… xx

Superfood Breakfasts: Book Giveaway!

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Very excited indeed to announce that this time next week you’ll be able to buy a copy of our new cookbook, Superfood Breakfasts! Yay… It was a fantastic project to work on with DK and we’re massively proud of of all the tasty recipes and gorgeous pictures.

I’m really hoping you love what we’ve created – 25 healthy and balanced breakfast ideas to kick-start your day, from smoothie bowls & overnight oats to pancakes and breakfast bars to go. Vegetarian, gluten-free and free of refined sugars, the recipes are quick and easy to prepare and very delicious, even if I do say so myself! I loved coming up with the recipes and my family have really enjoyed testing them all… Yum.

To celebrate the launch we’re giving away a copy of the book on Monday 2nd May 2016 to the first person I pull out of my woolly hat (I know it’s April, but it’s still very cold!). All you need to do is leave a comment on this post. Over the coming weeks I’ll post a few recipes to tempt you, so stay tuned and best of luck to you all…

You can pre-order ‘Superfood Breakfasts’ on Amazon or on the DK website. Published by DK on 2 May 2016, £6.99. DK.com with gorgeous photos by Will Heap Photography.

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Chickpea & Celeriac Fish Pie

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A very tasty and simple fish pie with a difference! We’ve swapped traditional potato mash for a healthier and infinitely more colourful combination of celeriac, sweet potato and carrots. Adding chickpeas ups the protein and gives you the chance to make a gluten-free béchamel sauce! For a speedy meal, you could prepare the pie in advance and simply bung it in the oven when you get home. Perfect…

Fish is such a simple way to load up on essential nutrients and omega oils, but make sure it’s responsibly sourced. We use our local fishmonger and completely trust that everything they sell is top-notch in taste, freshness and ethics, which means we enjoy our fish pie even more. Yum!

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‘G’ is for Garlic

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We love garlic and use it pretty much every day in the kitchen, so ‘G’ just had to be garlic in our ‘Allotment A-Z’. Last year we had great success with some very tasty garlic called Spanish Roja (an over-winter hardneck variety that packs a huge flavour punch), so we decided to grow it again this year!

We saved some bulbs and planted out the biggest cloves last autumn and now, here we are in spring, and the garlic is looking good. I’m loving the great circle of life…

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Apple & Beetroot Porridge

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I love beetroots! They’re so easy to grow and are a totally gorgeous colour. We’ve been experimenting with beetroot in our breakfast porridge and this is the result. ‘Ta da’… delicious pink porridge!

I used organic beetroot powder for this one, but have also made it with fresh beetroot juice and both work really well. We all skipped out the door this morning. Yum…

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‘F’ is for French Bean

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Not only do they taste great, French Beans also make a brilliant fruit & veg ‘creature’ for the local village show! They were one of the first things we grew on our allotment and remain one of our superstar favourites – there really was no competition when it came to choosing ‘F’ for our ‘Allotment A-Z’. We love French Beans!

There are loads of fabulous ways to use these beans in your kitchen –  delicious raw in a salad or dipped in houmous, lightly steamed on the side, baked in a slow-cooked stew or juiced for breakfast, the versatile french bean is also a doddle to grow. We’ve grown green ones, yellow ones, mottled ones and a gorgeous purple one that looks amazing, tastes great and stores well. Can’t ask for more than that!

‘F’ is for the fantastically flavoursome French Bean…

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Raw Tropical ‘Cheesecake’

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A friend asked me to create a banana-free ‘cheesecake’ for those that don’t do bananas… so here it is! Just as yummy and just as good for you with a little tropical twist and not a banana in sight. Dairy free, gluten free and with no refined sugars, this is the perfect guilt-free pud that won’t give you or the children a sugar-rush before bed. Yay!

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‘E’ is for Elder

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I hope you don’t think I’m cheating by including something in our ‘Allotment A-Z’ that doesn’t actually grow on our allotment, although it does grow just beside our allotment fence! I thought about ‘eggplant’ (aubergine here in the UK) and endive, but I honestly find our elder tree more useful than both those crops, so here we are…

The elder tree or shrub is one of my absolute foraging favourites and can be found growing pretty much anywhere in the UK. It has distinctive frothy ‘sprays’ of creamy-white flowerheads in spring and bunches of dark purple-black berries in autumn. Both the flowers and the berries are brilliantly useful in the kitchen.

‘E’ is most definitely for Elder…

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Runner Bean Chutney

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A homemade and healthier version of an old homegrown favourite! We’re just finishing off the runner bean chutney that we made last summer and are really going to miss it. Especially good with cheese or ham, our chutney is free of refined sugars, very tasty and a fantastic way to make the most of your bountiful runner bean harvests.

I love making chutney in a slow cooker, but this recipe also works brilliantly on the hob. You’ll be dreaming of summer whilst eating your runner bean chutney in the depths of winter. Yay!

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Cashew & Banana Oatmeal

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This breakfast certainly put an extra spring in our step this morning! A little bowl of creamy yumminess with a big nutrient boost – oats will keep you feeling fuller for longer, blueberries are packed with antioxidants, banana has loads of potassium, cashews and nut milk for protein and cacao nibs for extra crunch and ‘zing’! Yay…

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‘D’ is for Dill

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This was a tricky one! We don’t grow damsons, daikon or dragonfruit on our allotment. We grow lots of daisies, docks and dandelions and seriously considered ‘D for dandelion’ (so tasty in spring salads), but in the end it was the dainty and delicious dill that got the honour of being included in our A-Z of favourite allotment fruit and veg. Hooray!

We grow dill as a companion plant and edible herb – its fresh, zesty flavour and versatile seeds make it a brilliant addition to salads, soups and chutneys and an excellent defence against caterpillars! It’s well worth saving a space in your garden for a lovely little patch of dill…

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The Smokery

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Last week was school half-term and an opportunity to get stuck into some really fun projects with the children, like making this smoke-box for our cheese! I’ve always loved the taste of a good smoked cheese, so it was exciting to see how this turned out.

We got some beautiful cheeses from our local organic farm shop – a mild cheddar, a vintage cheddar and an amazing halloumi cheese, all made with raw milk from the farms own herd. They’re already delicious, but we were interested to see what the smoke-box would do!

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Raw Energy Balls

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A brilliant little mix & match guide for making raw energy balls, from our new cookbook ‘Energy Bites’. These were the first type of energy balls that I ever made and they’re still my favourite snack! Incredibly quick and easy to make, really good for you and very tasty too. Yay!

This guide will get you started on a simple dried fruit and nut version. Choose one ingredient (or a combination of ingredients) from each column and whizz in a food processor until sticky. Shape into balls and roll in yummy stuff like chia seeds, cacao powder, bee pollen or crushed nuts. Firm up in the fridge for 1 hour (if you can wait that long!) and then eat. They freeze really well too. Simple…

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‘C’ is for Cabbage

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Such an underrated veg, the plain old cabbage is anything but plain, especially in colour! I love growing this ‘Red Drumhead’ variety because it looks fantastic and makes the prettiest coleslaw (as well as an awesome natural electric-blue dye!).

Easy to grow and simple to cook, cabbages come in loads of different shapes, sizes and colours and can be grown all year round, so you need never go without a tasty homegrown cabbage in your kitchen! Definitely worthy of their place in the ‘Allotment A-Z’.

‘C’ is for cabbage! Yay…

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Marinated Halloumi & Beetroot Salad

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This is one of our favourite meals for eating al fresco down at the allotment garden. We marinate our halloumi, get the little allotment stove going, pull up a couple of fresh beets and away we go. Really simple, really good for you and really tasty. Yay!

Fantastic served on the side or as a main, the herbs and spices bring out the amazing earthy flavours, the nuts and seeds add protein and extra crunch, whilst the cheeses are deliciously creamy… and it’s a spectacular colour too!

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‘B’ is for Beetroot

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Two down and twenty-four to go in the ‘A-Z’ of our favourite homegrown fruit and veg! This was a tricky one, because there are so many lovely fruit and veg starting with ‘B’. Broccoli, broad beans, blackberries, brussel sprouts and blueberries to name just a few, but when push came to shove it was beetroot that earned its place in the allotment garden ‘A-Z’. So many different varieties, so easy to grow, so many different ways of eating it, juicing it, grating it, baking it and masses of health benefits too…

‘B’ is for the beautiful, bountiful beetroot!

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Natural Henkeeping: Ill Health

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Our little flock are completely at home on the allotment and seem to live a pretty carefree, free-range life. We’ve always been drawn to a more natural way of keeping chickens, as close to their wild environment as possible, including an open coop, a large run, lots of fresh air, natural shade, dust bathing, fresh water and fresh food. All of this helps to maintain their overall health and happiness, but things can go wrong… it just happens.

Parasites, mites, scaly leg, colds, prolapse, low egg production and excessive moulting are all possibilities, to name just a few. This post starts us off with the delights of parasites and prolapses – lovely! – and some ideas for supporting your flock with natural remedies, herbs and some alternative thinking!

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Apple and Almond Pudding

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Oh my golly gosh! Delicious. A really simple, seasonal dessert using local apples, that won’t give you or your children a frenzied sugar rush before bed! Woohoo. Dairy free, gluten free and free of refined sugars, this is a traditional pud with a healthy twist!

Very tasty with apples, but works equally well with other fruits – try an autumnal version with pears and plums or a tropical one with mango and peach. Sometimes, you’ve just got to eat cake…

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