Mount Athos Chick Peas and Aubergines

Winter is here and the cost of living in the UK is rising rapidly, so it’s time to find some cheap but filling and tasty recipes that are suitable for these colder days. I have been fascinated by the monks of Mount Athos and their way of life, to me they live a remote but idyllic life, praising God and living off the land, and eating healthy, nutritious meals. They are great chefs and feed pilgrims and monks every day with fruits and vegetables that they have grown under the Mediterranean sun. This recipe is taken from their website and there are many others that you might want to investigate.

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Greek Walnut Cake (Petimezopita)

walnut cakeRight now, my home smells like Autumn; it smells of cinnamon, cloves, and orange and a distant memory I can’t quite grasp. This walnut cake is resting and cooling (the hardest part of the process!) This is a delicious Greek cake made with grape molasses and olive oil so no nasty refined sugars. All credit for this goes to an excellent Greek lady called Deppy whose website is Greek Cooking Made Easy   I love her plant-based recipes (although she features all Greek recipes) and this is a winner! It’s fairly simple and I had all the ingredients in my store cupboard – the mix of spices makes this irresistible!

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Black Eye Pea Salad

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My absolute new favourite (don’t tell the others!) With the cost of living sky-rocketing and time to cook and plan evaporating – I needed something that requires little preparation and could last in the fridge for a few days and of course was nourishing and healthy. God really has given us all we need to live a healthy life and these little beans are full of goodness and benefits; they are great for your heart, and your blood pressure, they are full of protein, can help combat anemia, and keeps your bones strong! I use my pressure cooker for the dried beans for about 10 minutes but you could also soak them overnight and cook in a saucepan with water or use tinned, whichever is easiest for you.

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Pourgouri (Bulgur Wheat)

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I think this dish may be more Cypriot than Greek but it belongs in this section the most 🙂 I am discovering more about Cypriot cuisine and the different cultures that have influenced the herbs and spices used in Cypriot cooking. I love bulgur wheat (or cracked wheat) and to make this dish even simpler, my local Mediterranean supermarket sells bulgur with vermicelli noodles mixed in. This is an amazing side dish and seems to get better over a few days. It also has only a few ingredients which are pretty much store cupboard staples.

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Arabic Chickpea Salad

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This salad is my wonderful ‘throw together’, put in the fridge, and let it marinate beauty! I love the flavours in this salad and with the cost of living rising sharply, it’s pretty cheap and very filling. Even if you are not a fan of chickpeas (which is probably because they have been served in a bland way) the mixture of mint, lemon and paprika are just delicious. I always use the jarred chickpeas which I pick up in my local Turkish supermarket for 89p a jar! (they have gone up recently by 20p) Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein and break down slowly in the gut, keeping you fuller for longer. did you know that chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are considered a vegetable and a legume because they are so nutritious? well, you do now!

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Fava Dip

Dimitras Dishes

I first tried this delicious, garlicky dip on a trip to Santorini and I loved it immediately. I guess you could compare it a little to humous, it is smooth and comforting and lovely served with hot pitta bread. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are going on a date as the garlic packs a punch! Made with a few simple ingredients, with the star being yellow split peas (not fava beans – go figure!) it is a staple on a lot of the Greek islands and is served as one of many meze dishes. It’s been around for thousands of years, so if you haven’t heard of it – where have you been?! 🙂 Also this is soooo cheap! – you will thank me!

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Butter Bean and Callaloo Stew

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I am sharing a plate full of Caribbean sunshine here! This dish has all the flavours that I love and is healthy and nutritious. I miss my mother-in-law and this Jamaican dish reminds me of her. This dish can be rustled up pretty quickly and is I believe, a breakfast dish but it’s amazing any time of day. The whole dish probably took me about 20 minutes to make and I will be sharing this with friends served with rice and an avocado salad. It’s vegan and is very kind on the budget, which is just as well as everything has gone up massively.
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Ancient Breakfast Varvara

I was drawn to this recipe after watching My Greek Odyssey It didn’t sound like something that would work and then I saw Peter Maneas, the presenter demolish a bowl of this with gusto! This dish has its roots in ancient Greece and was a breakfast dish (they certainly knew how to eat well in ancient times), some Greek islands serve it as a dessert also. Named after St. Barbara (Varvara) this dish is traditionally prepared the night before the saints day along with a prayer for the health of children. Although it takes a little bit of prep I have found a quick way to cook it and you WILL thank me for this recipe – a big batch made on the weekend will last you a few days. Please use organic barley, not pearl barley. I now make this every week and my husband calls it ‘miracle food’ as it aids digestion, fills you up (for hours) and is very healthy!

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Maple Roasted Sprouts and Potatoes

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Eatwell 101

I hope I am not the only one who loves brussel sprouts?! They are one of my favourties and they are in season at the moment. This is one vegetable that grows in the UK (they thrive in cold weather) and are incredibly good for you, unfortunately a lot of our mothers boiled them to death and they became something to be endured rather than enjoyed! These little green heroes are full of vitamin K (which can promote bone health), fibre and suprisingly contain Omega 3 fatty acids. This is a great side dish to liven up any dish and ofcourse its heatlhy and fairly cheap.
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Marvellous Mushroom Pate

mushroom pate
Culinaryginger.com

Happy New Year! I went to the Queen of Hosts yesterday 🙂 (Tracey Fenner is the Queen!) for a wonderful New Years Eve visit  – there was amazing food, lots of laughs and even some tractor driving thrown in! Now, I don’t think anyone has ever left Tracey’s home hungry – maybe rubbing their belly because they over induldged but never hungry! So, there were snacks before we went for our country walk and then a massive meal when we came home – and our snack before we set off was this amazing mushroom pate served on toast. I always plan to pace myself and eat delicately but this was just too good and very tasty so I just got stuck in! This is a great dish to serve as a starter or when having friends over and will be my new favourite for a snack. As mushrooms are full of vitamin D – they actually help fight off colds – they also contain selenium which helps support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.
So get some toast or crackers and get involved 🙂
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Greek Artichoke Stew

I absolutely love this dish – it’s comforting and tastes delicious. The sweetness of the leeks and peas along with the mild scent of dill is a winning combination. I found frozen artichoke bottoms in my local shop (I have no clue what to do with the intact fresh ones!) I had this first in Crete and although wasn’t sitting on a sunny veranda with the sound of crickets – it still tasted amazing and brought back great memories. Artichokes are full of nutrients and antioxidants, plus protein and fibre – so they pack a longevity punch! This is simple to make and cost-effective.

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Olive Bread

Ελιόψωμο
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I found this very simple olive bread recipe from watching My Greek Oddysey – ok this show which documents Australian Greek, Peter Manias navigating the Greek islands in his super yacht got me through the long months of dingy English weather and working from home! Considering the superyacht part, he seems a down to earth guy who is really enthusiastic and passionate about his homeland so he has my vote 🙂 The lovely, cuddly chef Kyriako throws this bread together very easily, and apart from the fact it has to rise a few times, its really easy to make but a word of caution – its very, very moreish and needs to be put out of sight or you will eat the lot! It is vegan and pretty cheap so can become part of your store cupboard staples. This recipe is not light and fluffy but they digest well and can be stored in the freezer for when you have guests.

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Kisir Salad

I love bulgar wheat and despite the onset of Autumn I still enjoy a nice, hearty salad. This recipe is cheap, easy and very tasty – it can be eaten hot or cold and lasts very well in the fridge. Bulgur wheat is a minimally processed whole grain and is packed with fibre and a decent amount of magnesium and iron. Kisir is a popular dish in Turkey and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds will raise the dish to a very satisfying lunch!

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Ethiopian Split Peas (Kik Alicha)

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I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours cooking with an Ethiopian chef a while back, making this dish as well as a few others. The tip I took away from that day was to cook the onions and garlic until they almost become a puree (this does mean you have to keep stirring!) but the result is delicious. You can spice up this dish as much as you want – I prefer a gentle warm sensation! Split peas are so overlooked nowadays – they are a great source of plant-based protein , folate, iron and potassium, while being low in fat and high in fiber – and best of all they are cheap! Great for diabetics.
I would advise soaking over-night – just to make sure they are gentle on the tummy, if you catch my drift 🙂

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Ital Red Pea Soup

red pea soup
Healthiersteps.com

This is probably my favourite West Indian soup – I have eaten it mainly at funerals! but nevertheless it’s been so tasty and filling and really comforting. Red peas are kidney beans and this soup allows you to experiment with different vegetables – pumpkin, sweet potato, yam, butternut squash etc. The beans need soaking overnight or use a pressure cooker to cook them and save time. Kidney beans are a good source of plant-based protein, fibre and have a low glycemic index rating – all round a good, healthy bean! Every time I have eaten this soup it has had ‘spinner’ dumplings in it – which are delicious and make it a meal on its own – so I have included the little dumpling recipe aswell.
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Stuffed Courgettes

A lovely, light but satisfying lunch dish made with courgettes/zucchini. You can eat a good plateful without feeling guilty! Courgettes have a low GI and are great for people who have diabetes as they won’t have much of an effect on blood glucose levels. Courgettes are also a good source of potassium, vitamin C and folic acid. The tomatoes add a long list of nutrients, especially when cooked – add in fresh dill, mint and parsley and this is a longevity winner – and best of all it is great for the waistline – no after-lunch slump with this one!

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Pea and Basil Soup

pea and basil
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I don’t think the UK has got the memo yet that we are edging towards summer! We had a glimmer of good weather but it’s dissapeared again and its COLD! However, this soup is great for Spring and can be thrown together very quickly. Just because food is good for you doesn’t mean that it can’t deliver on flavour – the two should go hand in hand. The humble pea is packed with vitamin C, E and Zinc and helps to reduce inflammation (the cause of many illnesses). Basil tastes divine but also contains magnesium which can aid blood flow. This soup is a winner as it is cheap, tasty and has ingredients that you will normally have in the fridge or freezer.
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Thai Style Crunchy Salad with Coconut Curry Dressing

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You know something is going to taste good when you see a rainbow of colours on your plate. The sky is the limit really with the ingredients for this refreshing salad BUT it needs to have crunch! You can be adventerous with salad leaves and you can use noodles or brown rice to bulk this salad out. The dressing is very tasty and easy to make. 

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Tangy Panzanella Salad

panzanella-the-food-placeDespite the cold snap of weather we are having, better weather is on its way 🙂 (promise!) The lighter the days get the more I enjoy a nice tangy and fresh salad. This salad lends itself to a mix of tomatoes types – cherry, plum, yellow, vine etc. The addition of cubes of stale sourdough bread (or any uncut bread you have) make this more filling – this is a bit of grown-up salad! With origins in Tuscany, Italy the salad was created like most great, rustic dishes to avoid waste and is a typical peasant dish. If that makes me a peasant – I’m happy to be!

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Marvelous Oat Flour Cinnamon Muffins

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Any kind of white flour is becoming an issue for me. My stomach just doesn’t appreciate flour too much – a little organic wholemeal is ok, or organic unbleached but any foodstuff that has refined flour in makes my stomach bloat and I feel uncomfortable. Soooooo, finding these little beauties was wonderful. The best bit is oat flour can be hard to find BUT you just whizz porridge oats in a blender and hey presto! Oat flour! These are great for breakfast or as a snack – I will be hiding them however as I live with a bunch of vultures! 🙂

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Lentil and Rice Biryani

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Our neighbours have blessed us a couple of times recently with some wonderful Bengali cooking (see – even in London there are still good neighbours!) The rice they have sent us via their young daughter was out of this world tasty, non-oily and just amazing. As you know by now I am starting to love Indian cooking and this dish is a great way to brighten up mid-week meals. Lentils are a rich source of protein and keep you full for longer.
Although it looks like a lot of ingredients  – the process is simple, so don’t let that put you off 🙂

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Caribbean Style Porridge

Sometimes I need a breakfast that will keep me satisfied until lunchtime -and this porridge does the job! My late Jamaican father-in-law was a regular porridge eater and he lived until he was 90! Some Caribbean porridge recipes call for condensed milk but as this is a blog site about longevity,  I am omitting the less healthy version 🙂  Oats are an all round good food – a great source of soluble fiber, a rich source of magnesium and it is great for controlling blood sugar. Best of all  – oats are fairly low cost (DO NOT use instant oats – they are not good!) and when my kids are hungry  – this is a go to for them any time of day.

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Squash, Chilli and Coconut Soup

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Another great soup for these crisp winter days. I have to say I do use a lot of coconut milk at the moment but it adds such a lovely creaminess and flavour that I can’t resist it.  This is economical and will last about 4 days in the fridge. This is delicious served with some black olives on the side and a toasted slice of sourdough. 🙂 I now have a brilliant pressure cooker which does the whole thing in 10 minutes but have given you the traditional saucepan recipe. Butternut squash is a great source of fibre and vitamins, coconut milk reduces blood pressure and cholesterol and improves digestion – so don’t take my word for it – make this and see how you feel after!
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Spinach, Lentil and Coconut Soup

This is a great soup to throw together quickly and have for lunch  – seeing as we are all mainly working from home these days. I have struggled some days with the workload and trying to really eat well, but this is the solution! You can prep this first thing in the morning, cook, leave the flavours to entwine and then blitz and eat 🙂 this soup combines taste and healthful benefits, lentils, spinach, leeks and coconut milk.
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Fantastic Homemade Falafel

This is my favourite street food of all time. I have been fortunate enough to eat some of the best felafels ever in Jerusalem (it was amazing and there were felafel shops on every corner) and in Bethlehem  – where we sat with local people in a tiny cafe watching these beauties being cooked in front of us. In Isreal, you can help yourself to as much salad and pickles as you can stuff in the pitta! I do believe that I am a very good judge of felafels now and these do not disappoint – as you long as you have a robust blender you are in business! 🙂 
***Chickpeas need soaking overnight***
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Delicious Banana Muffins

These muffins are a great way to use up overripe bananas and they really taste sweet and delicious – I had to grab these early this morning as they were the last 2! and my son wanted one to eat on the way to school 🙂 the bananas give a natural sweetness and the addition of coconut sugar make them taste almost like golden syrup. the texture is really good, moist and dense – I shall be making another batch this afternoon!

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Lentil Soup Syrian Style (Shorbat Adas)

I went for lunch yesterday with a good friend of mine and we went to a little local cafe where I had a delicious bowl of this soup – which reminded me how good it tastes! I’m not a huge fan of cumin but for some reason, I really find this soup comforting. Cumin is really good for digestion and is a rich source of iron, combined with an antibiotic property it really is a super spice! This soup is wonderful served with toasted pitta bread.
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Tomato & Orzo Soup (Manestra)

I am always on the lookout for cheap, flavoursome and healthy dishes and this is a winner! The weather in London right now is pants – so I fancy something warming and that doesn’t take much thought – but of course, delivers on flavour and health benefits. I never tried this when I lived in Greece but its full of the flavours of the Mediterranean! (who knew even tinned tomatoes are good for you!)
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Courgette, Pea & Mint Soup

This was soooo quick and easy and delivered a deliciously smooth, tasty soup – it probably took 30 minutes from start to finish and is ridiculously cheap. The peas pack a health punch, preventing heart disease, reducing the risk of cancer and aid weight loss 🙂 Meanwhile the courgettes are delivering Vitamin C and K and folic acid – keeping bone and muscle health strong. Aways keep the peel on the courgettes as that is where most of the nutrients are. I promise you will never go back to tinned or packaged soup again!
Thanks to Made in Hackney again for this economical, super tasty recipe.
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Curried Cauliflower Soup

Today feels like a soup day – I love London but it’s cold and grey this morning so something warm and healthy is in order. This recipe is full of good things like turmeric, cumin and cashews – what’s not to like?! It’s vegan and tastes delicious  – cheap and easy to make, so no excuses 🙂

The humble cauliflower is a good source of fibre (keeps things moving along!) It also has lots of antioxidants which supports a healthy immune system. Continue reading “Curried Cauliflower Soup”

Beetroot, Feta & Mint Dip

Oh my goodness – this is one of my summer favourites – light, tasty and as usual easy to make 🙂 The combination of sweet beetroot, fresh mint and salty feta is really refreshing – watch out thought it’s addictive! Beets are high in vitamin C and potassium and are known for helping lower blood pressure. Fresh mint is wonderful for the stomach and digestion, plus feta cheese (the real stuff! either sheep or goats milk or a combination of the two) has anti-cancer properties and immune-boosting properties – that’s why the Greeks are a healthy bunch!
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Fresh Beans in Tomato Sauce – (Fasolia)

What amazes me about some Greek dishes, is how a few ingredients can taste so wonderful! This dish is one of those – it’s sweet and thick and delicious. It’s cheap, easy to make and most of all its healthy. This is a staple in any Greek home, I often swap the above beans for the flatter type – either works equally well.

I am a fan of using whatever is in the fridge or needs using up – so to make the dish more filling I will sometimes add a few chunks of potato, red pepper and carrot.
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