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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‘Energy Bites’ – Superfood Granola Balls

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Another deliciously healthy recipe from our newly published book ‘Energy Bites’. We absolutely love these granola balls. The children take them to school, Will takes them to work, they even make a gorgeous gift in a ribbon-tied bag!

You can experiment with different nuts and dried fruit, they’re dairy-free, gluten-free, free of refined sugars and can be baked or eaten raw. Brilliantly versatile and seriously yum…

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Gardening with children

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A gardening post – hooray! There have been a lot of food posts lately with the release of our new book ‘Energy Bites’, but we’re still getting our hands dirty in the garden and on the allotment, if only to feed the chickens!

It’s mid-winter, pretty soggy and definitely cold out there – the perfect time to plan for the growing season to come. It’s also got me thinking about gardening in general and what I love about it…

There is a lot to love about gardening, but gardening with children has to be a huge highlight. Our gardens at home and on the allotment are a family affair, with everyone mucking in, tending their ‘patch’, digging, weeding and growing.

Being outside is always a pleasure and getting your hands dirty is definitely fun, but watching a seed turn into something that you can eat is absolutely magical!

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‘Energy Bites’ – Tropical Immune Boosters

Another pre-publication sneak preview recipe of one of our favourite sweet ‘bites’ from our upcoming book ‘Energy Bites’, which is due out tomorrow! Don’t forget that you can win a  copy of the book by simply leaving a comment on the ‘Giveaway’ blog post.

These little balls of sunshine are packed with natural anti-inflamatory turmeric and masses of vitamin C-rich mango, goji berries, lime juice, rosehip and baobab, plus nut protein for vitality. Don’t worry if you can’t lay your hands on any baobab or rosehip powders – they’re a great source of Vitamin-C, but the recipe works just as well without them.

A perfect snack to help ward off the winter blues … in fact they’re a delicious tropical-tasting treat at any time of year! We had such fun creating them and hope you’ll love them as much as we do…

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‘Energy Bites’ – Raw Chocolate Treats

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As promised, here’s a little sneaky-peek pre-publication recipe from our new book ‘Energy Bites’ and what better place to start than with healthy chocolate!

I love raw chocolate, so this recipe just had to be in the book. They’re seriously good – gluten-free, dairy free, raw, easy to make and the best bit, totally free of refined sugar! The only problem is that you’ll want to eat loads of them … they don’t last long in our house.

They also store really well in the freezer. Just take them out 5 minutes before eating and enjoy a little taste of healthy decadence whenever you feel the need! We love them…

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‘Energy Bites’

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Back in those lazy, hazy days of Summer I was approached by a publisher and asked to collaborate with established cookery writer, Annie Nichols, on a little cookbook of super-healthy and delicious snacks – the sort of thing that I’ve been putting in my kids lunch boxes and taking to our allotment garden for years.

My blog and Instagram were put on hold as I focused on creating, testing and writing recipes and here is the result of all that hard work – ‘Energy Bites’ … with a mega-bright cover! Packed full of sweet and savoury, great tasting, high energy snacks that are incredibly good for you – vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy free and totally free of refined sugar.

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Quinoa Kedgeree

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We were back late this evening after a hectic day and threw together this amazingly quick and delicious meal! Nipped down to the allotment to gather some fresh homegrown veg (peas, spinach and onions), collected the eggs and then felt inspired by the pretty jar of tri-coloured quinoa on the kitchen shelf! Quinoa is quicker to cook than brown basmati rice and a serious powerhouse in the protein department. Perfect….

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Natural Henkeeping: Health & Happiness

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The health and happiness of our little flock is top priority to us. I think our girls live a near perfect free-range life in the allotment garden – they’re free to come and go from their coop whenever they like, there are lots of different herbs growing in the run for them to peck at, there’s lots of space, lots of greenery and big bushes that offer protection from the sun, wind and rain. If I could speak chicken, I think they’d tell me that they’re very happy….and happy hens lay happy eggs.

Happy hens are healthier too. In our experience there are a few simple things that can make a big difference to your hens health – fresh water, fresh food and a spot of ‘dust bathing’!

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Raw Chocolate Fudge

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If you feel the need for a bit of extra ‘zing’ in your life, then this super tasty, raw and healthy treat will really hit the spot! It has that slightly naughty, decadent taste of fudge and a definite fudgy texture, but none of the unhealthy ingredients. No refined sugar, no dairy and absolutely deeeelicious. How perfect is that!

Right now, springtime gardening is fabulously full-on, home-schooling is wonderfully all-consuming and keeping the family happy and healthy is a joyful juggling act. Life is crazily busy, but great!

Bring on the healthy fudge…

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Green Tomato Chutney

I bet that someone, somewhere in the world is picking some homegrown green tomatoes right now! This is my recipe for an amazingly delicious and much healthier version of a traditional allotment chutney that contains no refined sugar.

It’s late-Spring here, we’ve just finished our last jar of chutney and the tomato seedlings are getting big. I can’t wait to make some more in a few months time…

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Asparagus and Fennel Soup

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I love using seasonal organically grown veg wherever possible, so it’s fantastic to be cooking with freshly picked asparagus and I absolutely love fennel, so that had to go in too! Asparagus and fennel are both great for your digestion, whilst the pumpkin seeds add some protein and essential fatty acids, plus a bit of crunch! Served with our homemade rye sourdough bread, this was a big winner at the table last night. Yay!

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Late-Spring Gardening

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Spring is in full swing on the allotment right now and it’s a massive understatement to say that we’re pretty busy – lots of sowing, weeding, sowing, thinning out, sowing, hardening off, sowing, planting out and sowing…..busy, but loving it!

The chickens are loving the new grass, the dog is loving watching the chickens(!), the children are loving getting their hands dirty and I’m loving the sun on my back and the prospect of some delicious homegrown fruit and veg!

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Nettle Fertiliser

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Despite their weedy, stingy reputation, nettles are actually a really useful addition to your garden. Yes, they can be a pain to get rid of (and certainly painful if you get stung!), but they’re also jam-packed with nutrients like iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

You can add nettles to your compost heap to boost vitality or make potent fertilisers that your plants will love. The minerals in the nettles will encourage super-strong, healthy growth, making plants less susceptible to disease and definitely less attractive to pests. Hooray!

Here’s how to do it…..

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Mid-Spring Gardening

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By mid-spring most of the seedlings have made the big trek down to our greenhouse, which is now absolutely rammed with fresh new growth. I usually feel like there’s not enough time and definitely not enough space at this time of year….

This is the second in a series of posts about the joys of springtime gardening on our organic allotment. Sowing new crops, hardening off, planting out and the first harvests. Life is good….

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Creating a Garden Pt 3: Raised Beds and Fencing

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Having planned out the space for our allotment garden and cleared most of the weeds, we were now ready to tackle the beds and fencing. Luckily our children were on hand to help…

Raised beds: To raise or not to raise, that is the question?! We knew right from the start that we wanted to build raised beds, mostly because our allotment garden sits on a heavy clay soil and raising the beds would help with any drainage issues, but also because they’re easier to weed, there’s less bending over (slightly!), watering is more efficient and we could fill them with top-notch soil to get our growing season off to a flying start. Although raised beds would be an extra expense, we knew we’d also get a longer growing season and that eventually the outlay would repay itself in homegrown veg! Plus they’re really fun to play on….

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Apple and berry crumble

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After a day of hard graft at the allotment garden, this is the perfect way to recharge! Packed full of natural energy and goodness, this super healthy and incredibly yummy crumble has no added refined sugar, is gluten-free and dairy free to-boot. Woohoo!

I’ve used apples in this recipe because they’re currently in delicious abundance at out local organic farm shop, but you can change the recipe to suit your taste or use up whatever ingredients you have in the house. Equally yummy with pears or freshly picked blackberries!

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Biodynamic Gardening Book

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How exciting is this! Last year we were approached by publishers Dorling Kindersley and asked if our allotment garden could be featured in a new biodynamic gardening book. And here it is…..

We spent 6 months working closely with the publishers and other hugely inspiring biodynamic farmers and gardeners to produce a simple yet comprehensive book about the wonders of biodynamic gardening.

It covers all sorts of fantastic topics from the principles of ‘BD’ gardening to specific planting tips, teas and tinctures, sowing guides, compost heaps, preparations, tree care, natural pest control and more. Practical step-by-step instructions make the book very easy to follow and the photos are brilliant! The book is available in bookshops, on Amazon and the Dorling Kindersley website.

To celebrate its release, we’re giving away one lovely copy of the book. For your chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll put your names in a big hat and draw the lucky winner on the 11th April 2015. 

Results will be posted on my blog and Instagram account, so remember to check back with me then! The competition  is open worldwide.

Best of luck and happy gardening…..

Rye Sourdough ‘Starter’

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I’m a big fan of homemade bread. There’s something really magical about the process of rising, bashing and baking and nothing beats the smell of a freshly baked loaf wafting around the house! Smells great and tastes even better….

We started making our own rye sourdough a couple of years ago, when we chose to cut back on the amount of wheat in our diets. We felt so good for it and it tasted amazing…there really was no turning back! We now make two loaves every week using the same ‘starter’ that we created all those years ago.

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Biodynamic gardening

 

A little film about our organic allotment and some of the biodynamic gardening methods we use to enhance the health and vitality of our crops. Nettle tea for overall health, the ‘cow pat pit’ for incredibly potent, life-giving soil improvement, ‘mausdorf starter’ for maintaining the perfect compost heap……

There are loads of other amazingly effective organic and biodynamic methods that I’ll write about and film at a later date. In the meantime I hope you enjoy this little Autumnal video tour of our allotment garden.

Homegrown happiness!

Sweetpeas

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Sweet peas have to be one of my all-time favourite flowers. They’re so easy to grow, look amazing and smell heavenly. A jam jar full of sweet peas on the kitchen table just says Summer!

I’ve been growing these flowers and saving their seeds for such a long time that I can’t actually remember our varieties, but something similar to Cupani, Lord Nelson, Hi-Scent, Heathcliff and Anniversary. All long stemmed, with an incredible scent and ranging from deep purple to pinky-white in colour. Sweet pea seeds and seedlings are widely available to buy and are a brilliantly abundant addition to any garden! I wouldn’t be without them……

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What is Biodynamic Gardening?

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Biodynamic gardening is really just a fancy name for a method of gardening that’s been around for thousands of years – practical gardening wisdom handed down over time and widespread before the arrival of chemicals, pesticides, fertilisers and the intensive farming practices of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is the ancient art of watching the skies and using the rhythms and patterns of the sun, moon and stars to guide the sowing, tending and harvesting of crops. Our ancestors used this knowledge to their advantage, so that their crops were stronger, tastier, healthier and more productive. Afterall, they completely relied on their homegrown produce, so it had to be good. A quick trip to the supermarket was not an option!

Thankfully, these days you don’t need to be an expert in the solar system to work it all out! Biodynamic gardening calendars are widely available and suggest the best times for all your gardening jobs.

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