Blackberry & Avocado Salad with a Gingery Dill Dressing


 

Summer has officially hit Cornwall and I’m about to vacate the county for Ireland. Typical. Not that I don’t love a jaunt ‘home’ but the temperature there never quite reaches the heights it does here and I always feel a slight chill even on the balmiest of days – who am I kidding, Ireland doesn’t do ‘balmy’. Of course, it’ll be great to see the folks, spend time with my Dad who has just finished his third round of chemo, and celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary … quite a milestone by anyone’s standards! Being the creature of habit that I am though, I always find it difficult settling into a new routine – that adjustment period shows me what a home bird I really am. I crave structure and being a writer means I can construct my own timetable – a luxury that is thankfully not lost on me. There’s nothing I love more than splitting my day into palatable little sections … most of which revolve around tea/snack/lunch/coffee breaks – in a way it’s bliss. Unless I’m working to a tight deadline.

 

Now that the book is ‘done’ (I’ve put it in inverted commas because I don’t think a book is ever really done but at some point you have to move on … plus there’s always bits and bobs that need tweaking) I now find myself in a weird limbo scenario and so my inclination is to return my attention to ‘Keep it Vegan’. To that end I’ll be doing a few little promo things here and there (another IrelandAM appearance is on the cards for the 7th July), as well as continuing to promote my more summery recipes – perfect for the coming months! Keep an eye on my twitter and instagram accounts for details.

 

And then there’s this blog. The place and vehicle that started this whole ball rolling. I already am feeling a lot more connected to this space than I have done in a long time … so much so, I’ve even dusted off the DSLR in a bid to regain my confidence behind the camera. Slowly does it though because it really would seem that I’ve forgotten how to use the damn thing – settings, schmettings.

 

Today was a salad day (nothing special but still… ) and so I thought it would be good practice to shoot something that didn’t have any time constraints or pressures. The focus still ain’t perfect but I think I’ve been able to achieve a slightly nicer quality to these shots than I have done in a very long while. Like I said, they’re a long way from being perfect but I won’t go down without a fight. And now for the recipe … creamy avocado, tart blackberries and not forgetting that gingery dill dressing, it really is a wonderfully simple seasonal salad with a difference.

 

what you’ll need

large handful of mixed lettuce leaves

6-7 blackberries

1/4 yellow pepper, finely sliced

1 spring onion, finely sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced

 

for the dressing

1 heaped tbsp dijon

1 garlic clove, grated

1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp hazelnut oil or evoo

1/2 tbsp agave

juice x 2 clementines

pinch of salt and pepper

15g freshly chopped dill

 

what you’ll do

Arrange the salad leaves in a shallow bowl. Scatter the sliced pepper around over the leaves, sprinkle over the spring onion and dot the blackberries about the bowl.

 

Separate the sliced avocado into a fan shape and place in the centre of the bowl.

 

Place all the dressing ingredients (apart from the dill) into a bowl and whisk vigorously until it emulsifies. Add the chopped dill and whisk to combine. Spoon generously over the salad, paying particular attention to the avocado.

 

Finish with a final scattering of roughly chopped dill. Serve.

 

 

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Tropic Skincare

 

I had intended to post this on Friday evening but I was too lazy to type and then the sun was out in full force on Saturday, which meant it was pushed back to today, Sunday. So, here I am, sitting in bed (even though it’s after midday, ahem) with a cup of tea and a quiet determination to actually write a blog post – no mean feat when your creative energies are at an all time low. I know I’ve banged on about it before but I’m feeling like a bit of slacker these days when it comes to this space but I’m hopeful my blogging will soon be reignited properly … I just think I need to take things slowly.

 

I’ve read posts before about bloggers hitting a creative wall – and in my case, it is often stunted further by the amount of uh-mazing food and lifestyle blogs that are springing up left, right and centre complete with professional-looking images and all perfectly curated for your perusal. Then again, this space was never about that. It was never about perfection, instead striving for honesty and a glimpse into my far from perfect world. Whilst I always want it to be a pleasant place to visit, I never sugar-coat where I’m at or how I’m feeling … integrity is everything to me. Anyway, you can see that my thoughts are currently quite scattered so let’s move onto the subject at hand – Tropic Skincare.

 

Full disclosure – I was kindly sent these items by Chelsea at Tropic Skincare who asked would I be interested in checking out their range. Rather fortuitously I had just squeezed the last drop out of my Argan Oil so was definitely in the market for a new face oil – cue, the Organic Elixir Oil of my dreams. I’d heard good things about this oil (and indeed the range) before and I’m pleased to say it matches the online hype. I’ve been slathering it liberally over my face and neck, twice a day now for well over a week and it is simply glorious … if you have dry skin like me, you will be wowed.

 

 

Even if I hadn’t been gifted the oil, I suspect I would’ve coughed up the £30 anyway because I’m always happy to invest in a quality moisturiser, particularly when it’s as natural as this one – I won’t bore you with the ingredients list but suffice to say, it’s impressively simple. It absorbs quickly into the skin and is the perfect base for applying make-up … I often have dry patches that are worsened by make-up application but I’ve seen a massive improvement even in the short space of time I’ve been using the oil. Equally, it’s rich enough to be used at night, which means you don’t have to buy a separate product thus saving ‘dem pennies … great news for those of us who are on a meagre budget but still want great skin.

 

The concealer and brush have also been welcome additions to my routine. I would recommend the concealer for a daytime look, as it’s quite light, giving a nice natural coverage. The (cruelty free) make-up brush has become a bit of staple too now that I’ve swapped my ‘Winter’ blush for a more summery bronzer … the slanted style is terrific for highlighting cheekbones and is super soft – I doubt anyone would know it’s ‘vegan’.

 

For me though, it really is all about the elixir – I honestly can’t get enough of it. Nothing more to say other than ‘two thumbs up!’

 

 

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My YouTube Channel

 

I thought it was time for a YouTube update. Whilst I don’t upload as much as I would like (editing seems to take forEVER!) I’ve been trying to invest a bit more of my creative energy into this little channel. Quick ‘n’ easy recipes work best for this medium (in my opinion) – then again, I’m basing that purely on my own short attention span when it comes to online recipe vids. So, because of that, I’ve attempted to keep the dishes straightforward but would love some feedback on whether you would indeed like more involved recipes – totally open to suggestions so fire away.

 

My aim is to upload one video a week … they’ll vary between the book and blog with a smattering of super healthy dishes – and not so healthy because, hey, that’s life. I’m really excited about building this platform not only because YouTube has a growing vibrant community but also because I happen to be an obsessive viewer myself. In case you’re interested a few of my favourite channels include Mr.Kate, BeautyCrush, Alli Cherry, Niomi Smart, Nutrition Stripped and Shameless Maya … oh, and, of course, I love Mr.Oliver’s wonderful FoodTube channel too.

 

My latest recipe is for Homemade Hazelnut Milk but there’s also a recipe for my Carrot Cake Bites and Macaro-no Cheese on the channel too – enjoy! And before I forget, please do ‘like’, ‘subscribe’ and ‘share’.
 

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Virgin Pina Colada


 

So, I can’t actually remember how long it’s been since I last blogged – maybe a month, maybe more? My excuse is that I’ve been in the depths of book no. 2 and couldn’t come up for air, let alone a blog post and am only just getting back to normality after submitting my manuscript on Sunday. Now though, I’m ready to ease myself back into the swing of things with a simple but delicious smoothie … it’s the long drink I needed after pouring myself into my latest cookbook, which is due for release in January 2016. Yep, it feels like an age to me too. After writing ‘Keep it Vegan’ I felt an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders but that short-lived relief was quickly followed by an insurmountable dread that nobody would like or buy it. Thankfully my fears were unfounded but that doesn’t make releasing this one into the ether any easier – in fact, it feels as if more hinges on this publication being a success. Go figures.

 

With that said, I am so excited to reveal bits of the book to you guys, however, at the moment even the title is under wraps. What I can tell you is that I am over the moon with how it’s shaping up … the images are simply stunning, and I think there’ll be a little something for everyone – vegan, omni or otherwise. As ever, my recipes will be super straightforward (old habits die hard) with a good balance (gluten-free alongside sugar-filled is my style) and plenty of scope for you to adapt them to suit your needs and tastes. These are dishes I truly love to make myself, and although many were created especially for the book, they’ve now become regular features on my weekly menu too. Very few of the recipes are time consuming and, perhaps more importantly, I’ll be offering up tips on how to make your vegan lifestyle that wee bit easier with the inclusion of some non-foodie chapters outlining my approach to veganism. In a way, I write my books with me in mind – that may sound odd, but I kind of feel if I wouldn’t buy it, then why should I expect anyone else to. It’s also my only way of staying true to myself … something that is really, really important to me.

 

Okay, so enough waffle and onto the drink. If you really wanted to, you could totally pop some rum in this and turn it into a more grown-up affair but in my opinion it actually makes for a refreshing change to its usual boozy counterpart. Come Summer I am all about the pineapple, and try to secrete it into just about anything … salsa is a current top fav. Here though, it takes centre stage and rightly so – all we need now is for that predicted heatwave to hit.

 

what you’ll need

250g fresh pineapple, chopped

1 banana

100ml coconut cream

100ml coconut milk

1 large medjool date, stone removed

few ice-cubes

 

what you’ll do

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until completely – for an even smoother finish, pour it through a fine mesh sieve.

Divide between two or three glasses and garnish with some pineapple. Serve immediately.


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