Scrumptious Summer Smoothies – Truffles at the Market and TedXTheHagueLive July 13

Who doesn’t like a good fresh smoothie?  My favourite combinations include mangos, strawberries, limes, oranges, bananas, frozen raspberries, a bit of water and ice. We had a fabulous workshop at school in which we experimented with all sorts of combos. We used rice milk, oat milk, yoghurt, no milk, fresh strawberries, frozen strawberries, vanilla paste, lime zest – you name it, we popped it in. The only thing we all decided is that cheese, tofu, bacon and eggs probably shouldn’t be included. We did have a mystery tasting of a green juice. Now I am fond of green juice and think it tastes like rude good health itself but I am aware of a little reluctance from some.  And you don’t need a vitamix to make it although it is handy if you are a raw juice fan. I asked the students what they thought was in my light green concoction which I had squeezed through a juice bag. These are called nut bags and are very useful indeed to squeeze the juice through while removing a lot of the fibrous bits. They  are available online at  or at  Noordermarkt in Amsterdam (9.00 am – 16.00). They are also excellent for making quince jelly, clear soups and straining. Simply throw into the washing machine when they become too, too green.

Nobody guessed that I had used 4 green apples (cored) celery, carrot and some lemon juice with no extra sweeteners at all. It was delicious in a very fresh green way. So, you may be asking did the kids like it?- yes mainly even without any extra sweetening!

Thanks to all the teachers, parents and kids. Year 4 makes a mean smoothie and we really enjoyed the smoothie names – Taste Explosive consisted of banana, apricot, strawberries and blackberries, pineapple and musk melon! Yum! The Multi Fruit Blast  team used soy milk, honeydew melon, raspberries and pineapple. The Bitsy Super Smoothie was banana, melon and frozen strawberries!

There is one secret though. Top your fruit up with water in your blender to make your mixture a bit more liquid. You don’t have to have an expensive blender either or use any dairy products. Experiment and find your favourite. I think we could give those Innocent boys a run for their money don’t you think?

Last year at our school’s Summer Fair we made smoothies. They went down a treat. I really don’t believe in buying boxes of juices or so-called juice drinks (unless I am doing a workshop in hall without a kitchen). Using whole fruits and veggies to make a smoothie is soooooo much better for you and fun to make. Green juices can help introduce new tastes such as spinach, fresh ginger, celery etc and help get those veggies in. But mainly it is a jug of water for our family at mealtimes or  we use our special blue glass jug and fill it with homemade iced tea using Twinings fruit teas, or lemon and mint tea bags. On a warm day there is nothing like a jug of iced tea, made the night before, sweetened with a little runny honey, with cut citrus, mint and rose petals added at the last moment. It looks good and tastes good! I am reminded when I try commercial brands of juice/iced tea how very, very, very sweet they are and how we don’t really need them at all.  And please don’t mention those so-called sports drinks. No, no, no! Think water, think life!

Thanks for all those wonderful notes of thanks year 4. That is the cherry on my cake, really! See below…

TEDxTheHagueLive – July 13 in The Hague

Lastly, no recipe today as I am working hard on my talk for TEDxTheHagueLive on July 13th in The Hague. I am speaking on Changing the World One Lunch at a Time and Falling in Love with food.

For me the foraging for, the preparation of, the thought behind our shared meals is what makes my world shine. I love to cook for people. I adore helping children find their feet in the culinary world. And I pretty well worship those who make their living bringing good, wholesome, sustainable food to us. That is the people at the organic market such as Jeroen at Versman, Nastacha at the Portabella mushroom stand, Raymond Organics, Yvonne who has lovely currants and strawberries at the moment, the cheese guys (excellent wild garlic and herb) and the BioBakker.

I had to invest in a small truffle (3 euros) to add to my cache of portabello mushrooms. I am looking very  forward to slowly roasting those in olive oil, lemon juice and little balsamic vinegar, adding in my truffle shavings at the last moment to heighten their earthy taste! Can’t wait.

Summer truffles from the organic market in The Hague!

Renowned chef and owner of the Cafe Paradiso in Cork has this to say “Food is survival fuel first and foremost but it is surely one of humanity’s highest marks of evolution that we have turned the preparation and sharing of it into a generous act of love”.

I intend to illustrate that point of view and argue how sharing a meal can change lives for the better. I will be arguing heavily for Dine Time being the most important time for humanity.

Do please join us at The TEDxTheHagueLive conference on July 13 – you do need to register in order to get on the guest list and there are only 150 places. It is for free (believe it or not) for invited guests and I will be part of team making a gorgeous lunch for all of those who attend. We are at present gathering sponsors for our lunch which include  the fab cooks at Cafe Quirky on the corner of Tasmansttaat/Prins Henrikstraat, Baklust on the Veenkade and Bagels and Beans. It will be real food made with love.

See and register via

Yes, Kids Do Eat Gazpacho and Pumpkin Soup!!!!

We do eat that!

HERE are our recipes from year 5’s Soup Master Chef classes!

Oh we had fun making Gazpacho in the hall although it wasn’t quite the classic recipe and we did do a little pre-preparation as 1 hour is not a lot of time to cook and taste. We called our soup Gorgeous Gazpacho for Really Smart people and the recipe goes like this…

Yes, you do like tomatoes  – really! Just try this or make it for your family on a really hot day in Summer, chill it for a night and serve with yummy breads. It will be a winner! Don’t forget when you are working at home – wash your vegetables carefully.

1.Take 6 large, really nice tomatoes. Boil the kettle and put tomatoes in a large heat-proof bowl or pot. Pour the hot water over (or get a grown-up to do it for you). Wait 60 seconds and then pour it out and pour cold water over them. Now you should be able to peel off their skins really easily and now remove the hard inner core. Put the fleshy part in a bowl. Throw the skins/core away or place in your compost.

2.Take the cucumber and peel carefully. Chop it lengthwise and remove seeds with your fingers or with a spoon the seeds. Throw the seeds away.

3.Take a long Turkish pepper, cut it open, and take out the seeds and white pith. Chop it up or cut it up with kitchen scissors

4.Now put all the vegetables in the bowl.

5.Add in half a cup of  good tinned tomatoes, a can of V8 veggie juice, some herbs, some oils, a little balsamic vinegar, some Thai chillie sauce or some lime juice. This is your version of year 5 Groovy Gazpacho so you are in charge of adding the tastes in. Don’t overdo it and don’t put in too much salt or vinegar. Taste it after you have blended it to see what else it needs.

6.Now crumble up some stale but not mouldy bread and add in about a half a cup full to the tomatoes.

7.Pour your mixture into the blender and whizz it until it is smooth.  Taste afterwards. You can serve it in a bowl as the Spanish do, with finely chopped pepper, cucumber, pepper and cubes of bread. Do a final taste and drizzle some olive oil on the soup. It is way better if you put in ice cubes in on a really hot, hot day! If you chill it for a whole night it is prefect on a sizzling summer day. Can we share this little secret – almost everyone in year 5 tasted this soup and liked it!!!

Chickpea and whatever soup

While most of the teams made Gazpacho in the hall, two groups made one of  my most favourite soups ever. This is a really, really easy soup and almost anything goes – into it that is. I have written this up before but this is hopefully  a better recipe to follow. Please, please, please try it. It is for a grey day not a hot, humid one though. Loads of kids and teachers tried this and adored it. Many tried to come for seconds, thirds and more.

Pumpkins, onions but use whatever you really like!

Big Brain Soup or 

Chickpea and Just About Anything Soup 

Only to be prepared by children with exceptionally large and intelligent brains – that’s YOU !

Make sure you have all your ingredients ready before you start and read through the recipe well!

1 large onion

one half of an average sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes

Root vegetables such as parsnip, carrots, swedes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and turnips or try aubergine, cauliflower and mushrooms.

1-2 tablespoons of pataks mild curry paste

half a cup of cream  or coconut milk

1 large can of chickpeas drained

fresh root ginger

1 veggie stock cube

herbs to taste

Olive oil for frying

1. Peel and chop 1 large onion and a clove of garlic

2. Peel and chop a mixture of any of the following (into even

sized cubes) carrots, pumpkins of any variety, aubergine,

potatoes, turnips, parsley root, swede, parnsips, and/or sweet potatoes – make about 2 cups of chopped veggies for 4 people,

more for 6!

Fry the onions and veggies in olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot. Stir frequently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add in the curry paste and keep stirring for 5 minutes.

Grate half a tablespoon of fresh ginger, and or crushed garlic clove and add to mix, fry for 60 seconds or so. You can also simply squeeze the ginger juice out with your hands over the soup.

Add in at least 2 cups of a good veggie stock (made up with OXO organic cubes or marigold or Steenbergs organic boullion) Mix stock cubes (I usually add 2 but some are quite salty so be careful) with hot water to make veggie stock!

Add your half cup of cream – don’t worry it won’t curdle. Keep the soup simmering for about 7 minutes more, until veggies are al dente –

tender to the bite.

Then add in drained chickpeas, taste for seasoning adding in more stock if need be, salt etc. Add at the very last minute chopped fresh herbs such as coriander, parsley or holy basil

Serve with fresh herbs, toasted whole-wheat or lavas bread (flat Turkish bread)

Tomorrow it is smoothie master class for year 3!!! Oh delicious, what wonderful combinations will we concoct? Below our soup trolley for the workshop and whole wheat scones from our Love Your Lunchbox workshop!

Lastly, some big, really big news just in, is that I will be speaking about Fabulous Food at the TedXTheHagueLive conference on July 13th in The Hague plus designing and making the lunch with a team of volunteers.  And the other news, well,  we have have been doing a load of workshops at schools!

So many people, parents and pupils have helped me do these workshops I would like to give each and every one of you a HUGE, HUGE vote of thanks! It is a lot of work putting together off piste workshops but when you get loads of thank you notes from the lovely children of year 4 then you know it has all been worthwhile. Thanks all, keep on cooking you kids and parents – it’s what we are all about, sitting down at the table, chatting with everyone, talking about the highs and lows of the day – chatting over beautiful, wholesome food! Very, very intensely wonderfully human.

Enticing and Enlightening – Rainbow Food!

This week we continue our Eat A Rainbow Munch Crunch Master Chef classes at school with an Enticing and Enlightening Soup lesson. Year 5 are about to become expert soup makers and to caste a fresh eye on summer soup making –  we look forward to sampling some gorgeous soups on Friday – no pressure on  you then Year 5!

Meantime, I have been making Rainbow Coleslaw at home. Use a crisp Spitskool or a Chinese kool. Wash it and chop it very, very finely. Make sure you have a good sweet head of cabbage by smelling it in the market. Old cabbage is not good in coleslaw! Add in some  diced apple with its skin on (use lemon or lime juice to keep it from going brown), peel and dice some cucumber, sprinkle with some black  and white sesame seeds, grated carrot, chives etc. Add anything you fancy really but just make it colourful.

Now make a simple dressing using rice vinegar, some of the lime or lemon juice, a little palm sugar and your favourite oil. I like sesame but you can use peanut, olive, rice bran as well. Season to taste, shake and pour over the coleslaw. Last but not least grate over some pretty red raw beetroot for a real rainbow vibe. Serve with burgers, falafel, spinach fritters, udon noodles or whatever you current favourite food is.

Love your Lunchbox – oh, yes you can!

We had lots of fun at a recent “Love Your Lunchbox Workshop” where in a mad two hour stint we made all my favourite lunch box standbys. One group made wholemeal cranberry scones, while another did the Tex-Mex refried beans, others made the slow roasted (use up your worse for wear tomatoes) pasta soup or soup base, while yet another rolled sushi with sesame oil carrot, omlette and cucumber fillings and the lucky last group – they made a quick strawberry sauce plus a sweet sour cucumber salad. Phew, it was fun and a little mad in the best possible way but the challenge was to get our kids to try it, especially those who were less than keen on eating Green Things! Enter the Green Force, a sort of Luke Skywalker invention of mine where I extoll the wondrous virtues of eating the all powerful Greeen life giving, strength enhancing super force within GREEN Food. I find it really helps if tell them how fast it will make them run and how all those extra veggie vitamins will give them extraordinary powers. The great news is that most all of the kids there tried a bit of everything. There was very little left over!

I did rather harp on about making the lunch box a “treasure” – something to be prized and delighted in. And about the virtues of keeping a good store cupboard so you are not faced with “lunch box panic” at 6.30 in the morning. As I told the parents there I have been known to make scones at that time of the morning and even quiches. Usually though I defrost some slow roasted tomato sauce, cook a pot of wholewheat pasta (I like the Rumo brand) and add fresh herbs, parmesan etc and shove it into a good thermos (purchased over the internet from Amazon). Some of the participants wanted more ideas for sandwich fillings and these are my kids current favourites:

Omlette, fresh herbs, lettuce on a whole wheat bagel

Smoked salmon, garlic cream cheese, lettuce and dill

Chopped boiled eggs mashed with chives, milk and a little butter

Crispy pancetta, rocket (from my garden), tomato and boiled eggs

Tapenade made from mild black olives, cream cheese, sun-dried tomato, fresh herbs on rice crackers – I have tapenade in a separate container and pop a spoon in for them to spread it.

Hope that helps with the sandwiches. Mostly I toast my bagels or bread, allow to cool and then put the toppings on.

Lastly I found myself making spinach and coriander pancakes early one morning this week for Green Day at school. I took inspiration from Mr Yotam Ottolenghi yet again although I took out the chillie peppers and used defrosted spinach instead. I did make a lesser form of his lime butter to serve with them. They were delicious (according to my 8 year old critic). I continue to work on tasty recipes with Tofu which reputedly helps kids get a good nights sleep. I have made a version of the Black pepper tofu from the Plenty Cookbook which uses loads of ginger, garlic and a combination of sweet soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Take out the 6 tablespoons of black pepper and 8 chillies and it’s still a wonderful dish served with Udon noodles sprinkled with sesame seeds and splashed with lime juice and a little oil. I absolutely can recommend the Plenty Cookbook as well as the New Heidi Swanson cookbook – Super Natural Every Day – brill!




Simple, tasty and fits the spot

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