We have 3 festive days to keep our spirits high through February: Imbolc, Shrove Tuesday and Valentine’s day.
Imbolc (Feb 2nd) is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and is a reminder that the days are indeed getting longer, seeds are sprouting below the ground, and soon it really will be warmer. In the meantime, we can carry on eating warming, soul-nourishing foods, such as my delicious coconut and bean stew , Also to stave off the flu, the winter blues and generally help keep you in good health, consider a vitamin D3 supplement as we can’t make enough from the sun this time of year, even on sunny days.
Valentine’s Day (Feb 14th) is an opportunity to focus on love, joy and relationships, which the Chinese believe will also support your heart health. Below are some delectable heart nourishing recipes for your Valentine’s supper, and you can also learn more about heart health here and on the Bloom Summer Retreat (Italy July 7-12).
Shrove Tuesday (Feb 17th) is, of course, Pancake Day – traditionally a time to use up the eggs, milk and flour in preparation for 40 days of fasting before Lent. See below for some great gluten free and grain free pancake ideas.
Fasting can mean going completely “into the desert” with just water or broths or vegetable juices; or it can mean just lightening the load by, perhaps, giving something up for Lent, such as chocolate, sugar, grains or dairy. You could also try Intermittent Fasting, where you fast for perhaps 16 hours out of every 24 (e.g. by only eating between 8am and 4pm), or 2 days a week.
The fast will ideally take you through the Spring Equinox on March 20th and out the other side, giving your body the space it needs to respond to the effects of the seasonal changes. More light, warmth and activity gives your body a chance to naturally detoxify more. If you are too clogged up to deal with this, then you may experience nausea, headaches, excess mucous, aching, itchy skin, tummy upset or more. If you want to find out how to support yourself through this, then come to the Bloom Spring Retreat (Sussex, March 13-16) or book a consultation with me sometime this month.
Below are some different options to the basic batter mixture. When using flour, whisk in 1 or 2 eggs, plus enough milk (dairy/almond/coconut etc.) or water to make a thinnish batter for crepes, or a thick batter for smaller scotch pancakes.
Ideally make flour-based batter the night before, so it can ferment and become more digestible and nutritious. Adding buttermilk, yoghurt or a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar will help start the fermentation process. This will also reduce levles of phytates, making the nutrients easier to digest.
Gluten-free options: classic buckwheat pancakes and brown rice flour pancakes are both great
Grain-free options: try coconut flour, chestnut flour or quinoa flour; or blend eggs with either mashed squash or mashed banana (yes, it really works! but they are more delicate, so best for drop scones) – or try this cauliflower tortilla recipe
Dairy-free options: I pretty much always use water instead of milk anyway, or a mix of water and coconut milk for a super decadent pancake
Vegan options: There’s a really great recipe here
3 Top Pancake Tips:
1. Add a pinch of bicarb before cooking for fluffy pancakes
2. Gently fry your pancakes in coconut oil to avoid rancid and damaged fats
3. Try savoury toppings such as mushroom and spinach, stir-fried vegetables in tahini sauce, orguacamole and salad; or for a sweeter tooth, try lemon and honey, berries and yoghurt, stewed apple and cinnamon…
Heart Food for Valentine’s Day
Warm ‘n’ wild salmon salad
Roast cubes of squash in coconut oil together with asparagus spears and pumpkin seeds, and then toss with rocket, and a vinaigrette made with lemon juice, mustard and cold pressed olive oil. Gently grill the salmon on both sides, slice into cubes and stir into salad. Serve with a little parsley or dill.
Red lentil hearts with stir-fried vegetables
Soak and cook red lentils till soft, then drain and mix with fresh, finely chopped coriander, grated fresh ginger, turmeric, cumin, a little coconut oil and some gluten-free flour to bind – plus an egg if you eat them. Use your hands to form heart-shaped patties and bake until cooked, or gently fry in coconut oil. Serve with stir fried broccoli, cauliflower, red onion, red cabbage and sesame seeds, and pour over a thick tahini sauce (blend tahini, water, lemon juice and tamari till it tastes the way you like it).
Luxuriously love-filled dessert
First make raspberry cream by blending fresh or frozen raspberries with coconut cream, and put in the fridge to chill and firm up a little.
Then make chocolate avocado mousse by thoroughly blending ripe avocadoes with good quality chocolate powder and either raw honey or xylitol, adding coconut milk if necessary if too thick.
Finally make a crumb base by mixing ground almonds and blended oatcakes with melted coconut oil and (optional) dried ginger. Press the base into the bottom of each dish.
Spoon the mousse onto the base, top with a generous layer of raspberry cream, and garnish with a sprinkling of raspberries and/or grated chocolate.
Make with love, eat with joy!