Monday, June 27, 2016

Aqua Fresca de Chia

Aqua Fresca de Chia has been a popular drink in Mexico and Central America for many years. It is a simple, refreshing and delicious drink made from Chia seeds, lemon or lime, water, rice syrup (optional), and a sprig of mint.

This high energy drink has many benefits.

The chia plant grows natively in South America and the seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans.

Chia actually means strength and the seeds were prized for their ability to provide sustainable energy.


Some of the benefits of chia include:

Nutritionally rich – contain, fibre, protein, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc among many other nutrients,

Full of antioxidants

High in omega 3 fatty acids

Strengthens bones

Helps skin and aging

Aids in digestion

Boosts energy and metabolism

Good for heart health

Helps with weight loss as curbs appetite


Lemon water is loaded with healthy benefits such as:

High in vitamin C as well as potassium, copper and magnesium

Boosts energy and mood

Rejuvenates skin and body healing

Aids in digestion and detoxification

Helps shed pounds

So when put together this drink packs a punch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do especially on a hot, summer morning.

Place chia seeds into a glass jar to soak. Shake from time to time

Here is the easy recipe

Aqua Fresca de Chia

1 teaspoon chia seeds
1.5 cups spring water
Juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon of rice syrup (optional)
Spring of fresh mint

Place the water and chia seeds into a glass jar. Screw on the lid and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Shake from time to time to keep the chia from clumping together.
Unscrew the lid and add the lemon and sweetener.
Mix well and pour into a glass.
Give another quick stir before drinking.
Serve with a sprig of fresh mint
Sliced cucumbers can also be added.

Enjoy! Love Chef Mel xxx

Sunday, May 22, 2016

In a bit of a Pickle - the art of Pickle making

Pickling is one of the oldest methods of food preparation and was developed to preserve foods that were either exotic, seasonal or  limited by nature and cultivation. Early pickling can be traced back to India around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The process was created to overcome the problem of low food production during the hot, dry summer months and the need to preserve excess food produced during the Winter. 

 Pickling has been used throughout the world and the ingredients vary slightly from one country - often from one región or village - to another. Many fruits and vegetables are used such as, unripe fruit, lemon, tamarin, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, lettuce, soybeans, ginko nuts, plums, apricots, apples and tomatoes. Condiments such as miso, ginger, garlic, chilli, or peppercorns are often added for a hot and characteristic flavour. Animal food was also pickled in many countries including, eggs, oysters, prawns, chicken, fish and lamb.

Interestingly, Pickles in the West generally have sweet, sour, and salty flavors, while Indian pickles are more pungent in taste to help disperse heat.

Health Benefits of Pickles

Full of essential vitamins and minerals – these vital micronutrients protect from disease, help build immunity, strengthen the bones, nourish vision, and improve anemia and blood conditions.

Full of antioxidants - As the vegetables or unripe fruits are stored fresh without cooking, the antioxidants present are preserved. 

Great source of probiotics and gut friendly bacteria - Naturally fermented salt pickles encourage the growth of friendly bacteria, which replenishes the numbers in the digestive system and restores health.

Diabetes Control:  vinegar based pickles can improve the hemoglobin levels in diabetic patients

Improve mental health

Cancer risk reduction

Inflammation relief 

Improves digestion, protects the liver and helps heal ulcers

Some Quick and Easy Pickle Récipes

Quick Homemade Cucumber Pickles with Fresh Dill

4-6 small pickling cucumbers
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 sprig fresh dill
1/2 cup  Apple cider vinegar
1 ½  cups  water
2 tablespoons sea salt
1/4 onion sliced in half moons
1 teaspoon peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)

Slice the cucumbers into quarters lengthwise
Place the cucumbers and fresh dill into a bowl or a jar.
Place the salt, vinegar, wáter, garlic, peppercorn and mustard sedes into a pan.
Bring to a boíl on a médium flame.
Pour boiling liquid over the cucumbers, making sure they're entirely submerged. Place a slice of onion on top of the cucumbers to help them all stay beneath the liquid.
Leave on the counter overnight to marinate
Store covered in the fridge.

Cauliflower Pickles

3 cups cauliflower, cut into chunks
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon dry dill
3-4 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1.5 tablespoons sea salt
1-2  teaspoons ume vinegar
2-3 cups filtered water

Wash a jar with very hot, soapy water.
Cut the cauliflower into florets
Finely slice the garlic clove, and add to jar with herbs and peppercorn.  
Add cauliflower, pressing down firmly into jar so the florets are tightly packed, leaving 1" space at the top of the jar.
Dissolve the salt and ume vinegar in 2 cups of water, and add to the jar.  
Add additional water as necessary to cover vegetables.  Leave a 1" space at the top of the jar.
Leave to sit for 3-5 days at room temperature, in a cool place away from the sun.  In warmer temperature, 3 days is usually enough.  
Test them and to see if they have a good pickly flavor.  If you want a stronger flavor, leave them out longer, up to 7 days depending on the temperature.  
Open the jar over the sink as it can fizz and bubble over.
Store the ready to eat pickles in the fridge.  

Pickled Cabbage and Apple Delight
This is more of a side dish but has a wonderful pickled flavor

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 onion diced
1 green apple, cored and cut into small chunks
½  medium-sized head red cabbage, shredded
pinch ground cloves (optional)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Spring water
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped roasted walnuts

Place the oil into a pan and warm on medium heat, then add the garlic. Sauté quickly and then add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes and then add the Apple. Saute for another minute.
Add the shredded cabbage, cloves, apple cider vinegar, and enough wáter to cover the bottom of the pan.
Add a lid and bring to a boíl., Simmer on a low flame until the cabbage is soft, about 20-30 minutes.
Gentle toss the cabbage from time to time to evenly distribute the ingredients.
Season with salt and pepper mix gently and serve garnished with walnuts. The flavor of this dish improves if served the following day.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Super Sauerkraut and a Yummy Recipe Too!

Sauerkraut is a great addition to have at any time of year as it gently cleanses the liver and provides an uplifting, clarifying energy. Here are some other benefits of this wonder food.

·      Immune booster – contains phytochemicals that are created during the fermentation process and help to boost the immune system.

·      Sauerkraut has cancer-fighting properties. The results of a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that sauerkraut is a cancer inhibitor. The study discovered that the fermentation of cabbage produced a substance called isothiocynates, which prevents cancer growth, particularly in the breast, colon, lung and liver.

·      Digestive Aid - Eating sauerkraut is a great way to protect the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Sauerkraut is one of the few foods that contain the bacterium Lactobacilli plantarum, a healthful bacteria, which helps your digestive system

·      Sauerkraut and its juice are traditional remedies for constipation.

·      Fermentation actually increases the nutrient values in the cabbage, especially vitamin C. Fermented foods can facilitate the breakdown and assimilation of proteins. They also have a soothing effect on the nervous system.

·      The high proportion of lactic acid in sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice naturally supports the digestive processes, maintains intestinal flora, and increases the feeling of well-being.

·      Sauerkraut has be used as a traditional European remedy to help heal peptic ulcers. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin U which aids in the healing process of ulcers.

·      The significant amount of vitamin A and carotenes in sauerkraut makes it beneficial for vision and skin health.

·      Sauerkraut is heart healthy and reduces overall cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber in cabbage binds with fats and cholesterol and carries them out of the body.

·      The wide range of minerals found in sauerkraut make it perfect for building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis.

Sauerkraut can be sautéed with other vegetables, mixed into a salad, steamed with cabbage, added to a sandwich or enjoyed on its own as a pickle. It was also traditionally served with a few drops of oil.

Sauerkraut is easy to find already prepared in natural foods stores or you can have a go at making it yourself.
If it tastes too salty, you can rinse it or soak in spring water for about 5 minutes, then discard the water and munch away.

 Please enjoy this delicious Tempeh recipe using sauerkaut. 

Love Chef Mel xx

Tempeh Wraps with Peanut Sauce

1 block tempeh cut into squares
4-6 spring green leaves rinsed
1tablespoon sauerkraut
1tablespoon grated carrot
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1-2 tablespoons shoyu
Safflower oil
1 inch strip kombu

Peanut Sauce

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon mirin,
1-2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1-2 tablespoons spring water

Place the water into a pan and bring to a boil on
a medium flame.
Turn the flame to high and lightly blanch the collard greens. Blanch for about 30 seconds and place on a plate.
Place the tempeh and kombu in a pan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, add the shoyu and ginger. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove and spread one side with mustard
Place a generous amount of safflower oil into a skillet and warm. Add the tempeh and fry on each side until golden. About 3 minutes each side. Remove and cut into squares.
Place the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a suribachi. Blend to a smooth creamy texture.
Place the tempeh, sauerkraut and carrot in the middle of the collard leaf. Drizzle the peanut sauce on top.
Fold up the sides of the collard and roll to make a wrap.
Cut in half and serve.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Time to Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Happy 2016!!

Now is the perfect time to get outside and relish the wild side of life. Humans are built to move. Until recently we were much more active on a daily basis and had no need to go to the gym. Moving was part of life. The modern sedentary lifestyle doesn't do us any favors - physically, mentally or emotionally. Walking outdoors can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Although walking is popular for weight loss and fitness, there are many other benefits too.

Take a look....

·      More energy to enjoy life
·      Increased weight management with toned muscles and less body fat
·      Reduced stress
·      Enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep
·      Reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
·      Prevent constipation, gallstones and impotence
·      Boost good cholesterol in the blood
·      Lengthen your life
·      Alleviate depression and negative thinking
·      Relieve arthritis and back pain
·      Strengthen muscles, bones, and joints
·      Improve lung capacity
·      Elevate overall mood and create a sense of well-being.
·      Increase feelings of peace, stability, and a sense of connection
·      Stimulate the brain and improve cognitive function
·      Harmonize all the systems in the body - digestion, circulation, immune, and nervous
·      Stimulate energy meridians through the soles of feet
·      Receive negative ions which helps to increase energy levels
·      Enjoy a greater sense of being in the body and grounded

Tips for Walking
While 30 to 60 minutes of walking per day is best, you can still benefit from two or more shorter walks of 10-15 minutes each.

A steady routine helps you to get the most out of your exercise program. Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week is ideal.

During your walks, you should be able to enjoy a conversation. If you're breathing too lightly, you can increase your pace. If you can't catch your breath, slow it down.

If you are pressed for time, walk around the local area after lunch and use the stairs instead of the elevator at work. At night, trade a half hour of TV for an enjoyable walk around the block. Take a friend, your dog or the whole family.

At weekends or in your free time, find places to walk in nature such as parks, preserves, gardens or arboretums.

The wilds of Wales
Have loads of fun out there. Love Chef Mel xx

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Benefits of Rosehip Oil

Rosehip Oil

Since living in Spain, I have been using and enjoying the wonderful benefits of rosehip oil. Super easy with fabulous results. It is pure too. No added chemicals or other junk. Here is some information and benefits on one of natures best kept secrets. 

Rosehip oil has been used for generations by the Andean Indians of Chile who understood the marvelous benefits for the hair and skin.

The oil is extracted from the fruit (hip) of the wild rose after it has bloomed and lost its petals. 
Rosehip oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, E and C, and is especially  high in the essential fatty acids, 
omegas 3, 6 and 9.

You can apply it to slightly damp skin which helps to hold moisture and reduce dryness.

Benefits of Rose Hip Oil


Excellent for shining, healthy hair. The oil also improves dandruff and other scalp conditions. Use as a mask and massage a small amount of rosehip oil into the hair and scalp. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes. Then shampoo and condition as usual, and relish the results.


Soothing for sunburn. It aids in the healing process and can reduce inflammation. Corrects UV damage from the sun.


Scar treatment – Reduces the appearance of scars, burns and stretch marks. I bashed my knee while walking the dogs and was amazed how quickly it healed from simply using a little rosehip oil daily.

Better than Botox! Treats fine lines and wrinkles - Rosehip oil's vitamin A is known to promote healthy skin cell rejuvenation, which causes skin to glow and appear fresh and supple.

Hydrates dry skin - Rosehip oil gives a boost of moisture to dry or mature skin. Unlike other oils, the smooth and light texture of the oil is unlikely to clog your pores. Or, you can add a few drops to your regular moisturizer for a lighter touch.

Soothing for eczema and psoriasis - the astringent and skin nourishing properties can help to speed up the healing  process, as well as hydrate and moisturize the area.

Evens skin tone - reduces the appearance of dark spots, aging spots and hyper-pigmentation. Simply apply to affected area daily.

Healthy nails. Try dabbing a bit of rosehip oil on your nails and cuticles to help prevent hangnails and nail breakage.

I hope you enjoy this oil as much I as do. Love Chef Mel xx