This time yesterday, I was in Wales. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s the sticky-out bit on the map of England on the left-hand side, and one of the countries which forms Great Britain.
And the place where “Gavin and Stacey” comes from (another box set for your list).
It’s also the country where vowels are an endangered species. For example, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch is one of the towns close to where I was staying and also, unsurprisingly, boasts both the longest domain name and railway station name in the world.
What was I doing there?
Working on my website and making people drink green stuff.
It was productive and enjoyable, but I can’t help wondering how much more fruitful it might have been had I not gone off on a dizzy (accidental) detour on the way there, adding at least 60 miles and at least another hour to my five-hour trek. Thank goodness I can write better than I can read a set of directions.
And talking of far-flung foreign climes, today’s Soup Sunday recipe comes from Belgium, specifically the kitchen of fellow Health Educator Nathalie Jacobs.
Nathalie’s journey into health and nutrition is unlike many you will have heard before. Rather than a personal health scare serving as a wake-up call, it was actually the plight of Nathalie’s Weimeraner, Sloef.
Diagnosed with a severe kidney disease, the vets were at a loss as to how to treat him. After advising a change to a low-protein diet which made no difference, the prognosis was bleak. He was all skin and bone, apart from a belly full of fluid.
But then fate stepped in and lent a hand. Nathalie had developed something of an addiction to sea vegetables, and was popping nori sheets like most people sink crisps/chips. Each time, Sloef would watch and drool.
So Nathalie gave him a piece – he couldn’t get enough (Eric loves it too, by the way – ed). At the time, Nathalie saw it purely as a comforting treat for him, and stocked up on lots of different algaes and sea veg.
But then his swollen belly started to disappear and his bony frame gained some muscle. Sloef lived happily for another two years, with daily doses of seaweed. His eventual demise was not – as had originally been expected – connected to his kidneys.
“That’s when I truly knew once and for all that food can be our medicine,” says Nathalie. “I wanted to know more, so I took a two-year course in naturopathy, and it just went from there.
“And that’s when I kept hearing about Hippocrates Health Institute, and ultimately, how I ended up on the Health Educator Program.
“It’s now my aim to give people the tools and knowledge to integrate healthy eating principles into their daily diet – it can’t just be done overnight and takes time.
“During all this, I also fell in love with sprouts”, she adds. “I want people to realise they can grow their own fresh plants and vegetables all year round- something which people do not think is possible in European countries – my kitchen has become a sprouting lab!”
With not much happening in Belgium on the raw vegan front, it is also Nathalie’s mission to expand the small raw community which currently exists. Top of her list is to organise the country’s first ever raw food festival.
Plans for this are already underway, thanks to the input of a raw food chef. Watch this space!
And just like me, Nathalie is in the throes of creating a website dedicated to this purpose. “Sprout Your Life” will also be coming to a web browser near you soon, as well as detailed information pamphlets explaining how to survive as a raw vegan European, incorporating the Hippocrates lifestyle ethos. These will be available in French and Flemish.
Also on the agenda will be a series of workshops run by Nathalie, focussing on sprouting techniques.
With such an extensive to-do list, it’s a minor miracle that she’s found the time to send me a recipe for today’s post. But here it is:
Nathalie’s raw beetroot, fennel and carrot soup
1 small beetroot, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped (only peel if using non-organic – but you shouldn’t be! ed)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp almond cream (see additional recipe below, or do it the lazy way – soak almonds overnight, then blend with a little water at a time until you have a creamy consistency – ed)
Fennel and cumin seeds to taste
Braggs liquid aminos, or an equivalent for a little salty touch, to taste (or try Nam Shoyu – ed)
Sprouts of your choice for the garnish
1. Put all the ingredients in a blender.
2. Add some water, a little at a time and blend/add more water until you have the consistency you prefer.
3. Pour in a nice bowl, sprinkle on some sprouts and enjoy!
OPTIONAL TIP: For the more adventurous, when you blend add 1 drop ,and only one drop, of essential oil of caraway, but as with all essential oils in cooking, avoid if you are pregnant.
OPTIONAL TIP: For a thinner consistency, juice some beetroot instead of using the whole root.
DID YOU KNOW? Caraway essential oil stimulates digestive secretions, thus facilitating digestion. It is particularly recommended for nerve dyspepsia. It is also mucolytic.
Almond cream, by Russell James
3 cups almonds, soaked 8 hours or overnight
1. Dehydrate the soaked almonds overnight for around 12 hours at 115 degrees F. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use an oven on a low temp for a few hours.
2. Grind the dried almonds in a food processor until they break down and turn buttery. This will take quite a while — certainly a lot longer than you’re used to processing things for.
3. Will store for several weeks in a sealed container in the fridge.
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