from Tasty, Naughty Healthy, Nice by Susan Jane White
BRAZIL NUT RED PESTO
Traditionally, a pesto is made by crushing ingredients into a smooth paste. We’re speeding things up here with a cheat’s version. The addition of anchovies provides omega-3 oils to our diet as well as boosts brain power with its DMAE phospholipid content. DMAE is believed to convert into the brain nutrient choline, which is useful for remembering important things like the boss’s dog’s name or where you parked the cursed car. Pregnant mothers feeding on choline-rich foods can also raise their baby’s chances of becoming the next president of Mensa.
12 sun-dried tomatoes
One 2 oz (50 g) can of anchovies
Handful of Brazil nuts
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Makes 5 portions
Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixure is nicely chopped up and chunky. If the tomatoes were jarred, you won’t need additional olive oil. Refrigerate in a screw-top jar until ready to ravage.
This is an Iraqi dish that children love to eat with smashed banana or bread. You can make your own date paste by boiling the fruit in a little water for 15 minutes, then whiz until sumptuously smooth.
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons date syrup or homemade date paste (see note above)
Pinch of sea salt
Makes 6 portions
Whip the tahini and date syrup together with a fork. Add a spot of sea salt if it’s not going to find your toddler’s mouth. This is good enough to eat straight from a spoon. If stored in a jar in the fridge, this dip will keep for 2 weeks.
MASALA WALNUT BUTTER
When pounded to a pulp with a pestle and mortar, walnuts' natural omega oils are released and meld together to make a decadent butter, heaps healthier than the dairy equivalent. While it’s true that walnuts are made up of approximately 60 percent fat, their natural omega-3 oils power your brain, not your waistline.
Look out for stale or oxidized walnuts. They’re about as bitter as Simon Cowell. Try to keep walnuts in the fridge and source from reputable stores with a high turnover.
1 good mugful (150 g) of walnuts
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon garam masala
Sprinkle of sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Raw carrots, cucumbers, or bell peppers, as dippers
Makes 5 portions
Break up the walnuts and add to your trusty mortar alongside the garlic, garam masala, and salt. Pound for about 5 minutes with a pestle, until you’ve got an oily butter. If it’s still crumbly, keep on going.
Add 1 tablespoon of water and the lemon juice. Water tends to change the color of the mixture from biscuity brown to light beige. Don’t worry–you’re on the right track. It’s really up to you how creamy or thick you want it. As a guide, 2 tablespoons of water should be ample. Taste and decide if you’d like more spice or crushed garlic.
Dig in using strips of carrot, cucumber, or bell pepper. As a starter for a dinner party, you can make great pass-aroundies by filling a teeny Brussels sprout leaf with this spread and crowning it with a juicy red currant.
OMEGA PARSLEY BUTTER
Think about it–your skin is made from the inside, not the outside. This recipe specifically combines pumpkin seeds’ rich source of zinc, lemon’s vitamin C, hemp’s protein, the essential omega fats from seeds, and parsley’s stock of chlorophyll. In other words, it’s a real beauty bullet.
1 small garlic clove
1/2 unwaxed lemon
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons hemp seeds
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon hemp or flaxseed oil
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon good-quality sea salt
Makes 6 portions
Mince the garlic, or grate it with the teeny-tiny part of your grater. Follow with the lemon rind, then squeeze its juice. Give everything a jolly good whiz in the blender until smooth. Store in a scrupulously clean jam jar, with an extra drizzle of olive oil on top. In theory, it should keep for 2 weeks in the fridge. In practice, well, that’s another thing. Supertasty on avocados, crackers, sliced cucumber, tomato, bread sticks, or Sunday’s roast chicken.
FIG AND SESAME BUTTER
Great source of calcium, iron, and finger-licking fun. Oh, and beautiful bowels. My little ones take it to nursery in place of peanut butter.
6 dried figs, soaked overnight
4 tablespoons raw tahini
1–2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional)
Makes 6–8 portions
Remove any stalks from the dried figs, then whiz all the ingredients together in a food processor. Add 1–2 tablespoons of water if you fancy a softer finish. Water won’t thin out the spread, but rather will reduce its richness.
Refrigerate in a screw-top jar until ready to ravage.
SWEET AND SALTY CHILI SAUCE
This is a smashing dip for chicken wings and dunky thangs.
2–3 tablespoons barley malt extract, raw agave nectar, or yacón syrup
2 tablespoons fresh miso paste
2 tablespoons cold-pressed toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Makes 5–6 portions
Whip the ingredients together in a cup with a fork. Serve in a soup bowl to facilitate easy dunking. Leftovers can be stored for 1 week in the fridge.
Fairly deadly with canned tuna, raw carrots, and flax crackers. I love using Herbamare veggie salt in this, from the Swiss naturopath Alfred Vogel. Find it in most good health food shops.
1 large ripe avocado
2–3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
Black pepper, to taste
Celery salt, to taste
Makes 2 portions
Purée all the ingredients together. You’ll need to use a hand-held blender to achieve a super-smooth consistency, like mayonnaise. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference. Eat straightaway, as avocados tend to discolor quickly.
HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SPREAD
Makes a great gift for someone feeling poorly.
1/3 cup (90 g) hazelnut butter (about half a small jar)
3 tablespoons cacao, cocoa, or carob powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Makes 6 portions
Whip the ingredients together in a cup using a fork. If you’re not planning to eat this DIY Nutella straight away, you can refrigerate it in a clean jam jar for up to 3 weeks. Once chilled, it can be difficult to spread, so add a teaspoon of hot water and beat the Nutella until it’s glossy again.
PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA, AND MAPLE SPREAD
I usually sneak leftover beans into the mix when I have them. My son is none the wiser, but his bowels certainly are.
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons pure peanut butter
Drop of maple syrup
Crackers, to serve
Mash all the ingredients together and serve on crackers. This spread is best scoffed right away, as the mashed banana starts to darken with oxidation.