ChicP Hummus and some fancy toasts

It’s hummus time again. Dips are things that have to feature everyday, otherwise withdrawl symptoms start to ensue. My carrot sticks don’t know what to do with themselves if there’s no tub to hand, what else can you really dunk them in? On days like those resort to tahini, close I suppose and a pretty good substitute, but it’s definitely no hummus.

Of course making your own tends to be the better option, meaning you can make it to your own taste, varying the beans if you like and making flavours that you would never find in the shops (see THIS black truffle and chilli hummus). But we all know time and effort gets in the way. We finish work at 5, get home for 6 no one wants to be whipping up their own hummus to delve into before dinner. The Tesco Express is usually the better option, either their organic hummus or just the original one (it’s cheaper and tastes as much of hummus as the first), stick it in your own bowl and drizzle with some nice extra virgin olive oil (ooh fancy) and you’ll even be kidding yourself that you made the slightest bit of effort.

For those times you do want to push the boat out and search for a more artisanal product, there are a few on the market. One that I’ve had my eye on lately is ChicP. A young brand founded by Hannah McCollum, all using surplus raw fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. She produces alternative, interesting and most definitely delicious dips with flavours you can’t find anywhere else, plus the the most popular with those in the know, the banana, avocado and cacao hummus.

 

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Sweet hummus, still the main component parts of chickpeas and tahini but the garlic, oil and cumin gets replaced with over-ripe banana, cacao powder and some avocado, plus a little agave for that touch of sweetness. Well…it is a sweet hummus. I really enjoyed it as a dip for apple slices, or smeared onto some banana, on toast was good, oh and don’t forget in porridge. That is one way not to forget about.

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Lovely Hannah sent me one of each variety of her hummuses. Hummusi? I don’t know where to stand on the plural. Anyway, I received a beetroot, horseradish and sage, a carrot, ginger and turmeric, a herby hummus and the banana, avocado and cacao. All a rainbow of colours, pretty tempting to dunk a spoon right into, or if you have company, I suppose some crudites should come into the mix. I was looking to do something a little more with the hummus. One evening I made a vegan pasta dish, roasting up some fennel, courgette, garlic and tomatoes then stirring them all together with the herby hummus the pasta and some of the cooking water plus extra herbs. It was creamy with a nice garlic hit, and ever so moreish. From the title, a pasta coma is inferred of course. It will be a meal on my mind for those times when hummus is leftover in the fridge (does anyone EVER have hummus leftover in their fridge? Not in our house anyway!), makes for a pretty good clear out of the fridge.

Fancy toast is what I’ve got for you today. A bit of hummus on toast is a lovely thing, breakfast, lunch, for dinner or a snack, it’s very versatile and is definitely a blank canvas to get creative. The Biona Rye bread is always my choice when we don’t have a fresh loaf of sourdough from the local baker. TOP TIP my friends! Once opened stick your rye bread in the freezer and just take out a slice whenever you want, toast on defrost and when it pops up toast again until crispy. Less waste and it keeps sooooo much longer.

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Not satisfied with just the one flavour I needed to do half’n’half. In the mix was the beetroot, horseradish and sage hummus, screaming out for some crunch of shaved fennel, and goats cheese crumbled on top. Asian vibes were coming my way for the carrot, turmeric and ginger hummus. Recently my way of cooking mushrooms has been to stray away from the pan and instead drizzle them with oil and some tamari and roast in the oven until shriveled and a little crispy. All the water evaporates, so the mushroom flavour is concentrated and meaty, once topped with kimchi and pleentyyyy of sriracha, that will be a few mouthfuls you will never ever want to end.

If you want to get your self some ChicP hummus, which I highly recommend you search high and low for. You lot in London will have a much better chance than us north of the border. Here’s a list of individual shops and online marketplaces to get your fix, or buy direct from their online shop. Even if you polish the whole tub off in one sitting (I’ll just hide behind my hands, I swear I didn’t), that’s fine, obviously, you’re doing your bit to combat food waste. And we can all do a little bit more in that crusade.

 

To be honest no recipe is really needed,  just a list of ingredients to pile up and create your own masterpieces with. Let me know what you top your hummus with, if you’re as avid a fan as hummus on toast as I am, I bet there’s some serious contenders out there. Better than avocado on toast? I think so. That might cause some arguments though, I might just leave things there….

Beetroot, sage and horseradish hummus on toast

Ingredients

  • 1/2 slice rye bread
  • A good scoop of beetroot, sage and horseradish hummus
  • Finely shaved fennel, reserve the fronds for sprinkling
  • Handful of frozen peas
  • Hard goats cheese (I used St. Helen’s Farm)
  • A few leaves of parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon

Directions

  1. Pretty simple things here, toast your rye bread slice until crispy on the edges.
  2. Meanwhile pour boiling water over your frozen peas in a bowl and leave to sit for a few minutes, then drain.
  3. Time to assemble. Spread the hummus over the toast, place the fennel slices and peas over the top, however artfully you care to be. Top with the crumbled goats cheese, parsley, fennel fronds and a good grind of pepper and a spritz of lemon.

 

Carrot, ginger and turmeric hummus on toast

Ingredients

  • 1/2 slice rye bread
  • A good smear of carrot, ginger and turmeric hummus
  • A handful of chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • Tamari
  • Kimchi
  • Coriander leaves
  • Lime
  • Sriracha

Directions

  1. Turn the oven to 180C. Toss your mushrooms in a roasting tin with a dribble of tamari and oil, then roast in the oven shaking a few times until crisped up and shrivelled. Can take around 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once the mushrooms are cooked, toast your rye bread and the smear on the hummus.
  3. Dot with the hot mushrooms, some kimchi, coriander leaves, lime juice and a good sized squirt of sriracha. THAT is the most important bit and must not be forgotten!

I would like to thank Hannah from ChicP for sending me the hummus to sample. All these words and opinions are my own, can you tell when I’m excited about something?  I definitely felt it about this brand who are setting a prime example to other young companies. Having won Best New Convenience Food at the World Food Innovation Awards, Trailblazer Award at Food Vision and shortlisted at the YBFs, I reckon we will be seeing ChicP in our own fridges sometime soon.

 

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Chocolate and banana granola clumps

Let’s start this post with a quiz. Name for me a breakfast food that one might consider ‘healthy’?

I’ll give you a few seconds to think about it…

Was granola one of the first ideas to come to mind? A deep bowl of fat free yogurt, chopped fresh fruit, and a generous smattering of granola. Not forgetting the drizzle of runny honey.

I’m not going to get into the debate here of clean vs dirty. Healthy v unhealthy. As is there really an unhealthy food? A slice of cake someone may think of as unhealthy however when you take a look at your diet as a whole if it’s sandwiched in between lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, surely that constitutes as a balanced diet? Kale and quinoa may be ‘healthy’ but if they don’t make you happy, are we living as well as we think. Cake, cookies, brownies and the sweeter things in life are as necessary as kale. That is fact.

Back to the granola, I’m sure there are many brands we grew up eating or still tip into our bowls each and every morning. Maybe you only bought some boxes believing they were healthy, perhaps better than your favourite Cornflakes, but didn’t really take any pleasure from eating them. Words such as natural, free from refined sugars, organic, low fat, whole, all suck us in to the belief that we are making the right choices. Go and take a closer look at almost any box of granola on the supermarket shelves. Take a real close look. HINT, look at the sugar content.

I know I’ve mentioned before about my thoughts on sugar. I’m not a nutritionist, a dietitian or anyone who has the scientific plain facts, so I suppose what I say should be taken with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, it’s evident that as a nation we consume far too much of the sweet stuff. I’m not just talking caster sugar. Maple syrup, honey and agave I’m looking at you too.  Our recommended daily allowance currently stands at 30g per day, that’s 6 tsp. Take a regular can of coke for example, when that contains 35g (7 tsp) you can see how the numbers stack up.

Anything which contains more than 5g of sugar per 100g is said to be high. As sugar or a syrup is the ingredient in granola which brings the crunch, it is going to be higher than say a box of muesli or shredded wheat. There are granolas on the market which have much lower sugar content and are GL (glycemic load) tested, so won’t cause as much of a spike in your sugar levels. That being said, if like me you have tried this one in particular, will know that it resembles a certain food for our feathery friends. Bird food. Dry, floury, not much crunch and rather bland, food for fuel not for enjoyment.

No one needs that. Life isn’t made for boring breakfasts.

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I’m sure many of you have seen this recipe before from one of my favourites, Green Kitchen Stories. Their banana granola is a bit of a worldwide phenomenon. My New Roots has a recipe also. In fact it’s far from a new concept. Google banana granola and the posts are numerous. Hundreds and thousands of them. Hello innovative blogger over here! But you can never have enough granola recipes.

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Yet again I had a few bananas, well past their best, festering in the fruit bowl. Usually that always means banana bread, but no eggs and so far no success with a vegan version of said bread, I just wasn’t going to take the risk. Banana granola was on my mind. Sweetened with fruit and just a little maple syrup to bring the crunch. Thoughts of baking low and slow to ensure no burnt bitter ends and using up some brown rice puffs hiding in the back of the cupboard, well obviously my brain on that particular day was fully functioning. Clumpy granola, lightly sweetened, boulders of crunch to munch whether it be for breakfast or as a snack. It was a result.

This one. A heavy dousing of raw cacao, a big pinch of salt is essential, and some peanut butter too. Cos’ why not! Chopped nuts, coconut flakes, oats, raw buckwheat and puffed rice mixed well with some cinnamon for that sweet spice. It’s simple as you like, low in added sugar and one to use up whatever is going in your cupboards.

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I can’t forget to mention that it’s dad approved. From a dad who likes his breakfasts of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, granola, Shreddies and Weetabix on rotation, and that is that. But this stuff by the handful, he was more than happy. Take it as you like. In a bowl drowned with your milk of choice, ice cold. Or some yogurt, whether it’s coconut, cows or almond topped with a big handful and some fruit. That açai bowl or smoothie that was begging for a bit of crunch, here’s your answer. As a topper for porridge, toast, overnight oats, a vessel for scooping up nut butter or just popping into your mouth… You got it!

Plus it’s chocolate flavoured. How can you go wrong?!?!

Chocolate and banana granola clumps

  • Servings: Makes a small serving which can be doubled easily ( just divide between two trays and rotate them halfway through baking)
  • Print

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

  • 40g almonds
  • 40g walnuts
  • 40g flaked coconut
  • 50g puffed brown rice
  • 25g raw buckwheat
  • 75g rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 big pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil (olive oil or coconut oil will work too)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 very ripe banana

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone baking sheet.
  2. Chop the almonds and walnuts roughly and add to a bowl along with all the other dry ingredients and stir together.
  3. In a saucepan mash the banana to a purée then add all the other wet ingredients and heat gently until everything has melted and combined.
  4. Pour the banana mixture into the oat mixture and give it a good stir until there are no dry bits left and everything is mixed well.
  5. Transfer to the baking sheet, pat into a thick layer and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. After that time, give the granola a stir by folding it over trying not to break the clumps up too much. Rotate the tray and place back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Checking the granola every 5 minutes, stirring the outside edges into the middle to ensure they are not burning.
  7. Take out of the oven when deep brown and smelling delicious. It will firm up even more as it cools.
  8. Leave the tray to cool on a wire rack, whilst the scent of chocolatey banana bread wafts through the house, so hide away from wandering hands! Store in a Tupperware at room temperature where it will keep for around 1 month.

Hope you enjoy this one. It sure is a winner. I’ll be off now, I’ve just eaten a mouthful of granola and I want some more!

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Time for a bit of tucker chez Federal

Do you know anyone who’s not a sucker for eggs? ALWAYS some toasted sourdough, perhaps smoked salmn or a dollop of mashed avocado. Pair that with a nice cup of tea or a creamy flat white and you’ve got yourself a date.

Manchester is spewing out new coffee shops and all-day brunch spots, head to the Northern Quarter and you will see what I mean. One thing we seem to do well, is a good coffee shop. A little bit makeshift, INDIE (if you so wish), full of industrial architecture, half finished paint jobs and men with beards. That’s all the ingredients you need for something to succeed. Add in a stellar brunch menu and they will come in their hoardes.

With Manchester being the closest city to me, it’s my hometown, I feel comfortable there and that there’s no place much better. Perhaps London has a slight one-up, but Manchester isn’t lagging far behind. Ever since all the young creatives, business people and anyone searching for that dream has vacated to London, its growing wider and wider with not enough housing to fit them all. Manchester is defineitly benefiting from that, a lot of work and large companies are moving offices UP NORTH, so people are following – and minus the London pricetag.

Even Manchester seems to be spreading its wings, with places like Levenshulme, Chorlton, and Ancoats -once destinations you wouldn’t venture through if you could help it – to now being the trendy parts of town. With good food, good drinks and what more do you need?

The recent popularity in Aussie style cafes, where we all sit for a picture perfect brunch anytime of the day, eggs oozing, with a lil’ cheeky cocktail at 11 o’clock, really is kicking off in Manchester. I doubt many of us coffee shop dwellers have even visited the country, never mind experienced the real deal. In my experience, of only ever seeing pictures on Instagram and scrolling past quickly before I get too jealous, is that they’re as near as damn it legit.

Ok, minus the sunshine, Bondi beach and 30+ temps. But we can’t have everything.

One of my favourites of the BRUNCH (poor pun attempt, I know!) has to be Federal. Open since 2014, this unassuming spot on the corner opposite the Arndale Fish Market has got a lot to give, and has been slowly growing in popularlity over the years. It took me so long to get there, when I finaly made it, at 6:30PM on a weeknight (they say all-day brunch so I took their word), of course it was worth the wait. But I should’ve been before because I haven’t eaten enough brunches in my lifetime. Has anyone, ever?

 

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Plus a bit of plate porn, I was tempted to lick the plate clean and slip it into my handbag. Shhhhhhh…

They do simplicity, done well. Not an overly extensive menu, you see I think that’s the proof of a GOOD eatery. But eggs any way, eggs benedicts, French toast, sweetcorn fritters, banana bread, bagels, sourdough (not sooooo toasted that it flies across the room when you cut into it, just enough browning to stop any sogginess in its tracks) are all there. Plus a daily changing two specials, one is always an omelette the other a surprise. usually containing eggs though, why ofc!

 

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On my first visit me and my mum traipsed through the brisk northern winds to Federal and found a warm and cozy spot in the corner. We went for a pre-theatre dinner, before heading off to see The Rocky Horror Show. All in all a good night. They do a small list of cocktails and wines, but we weren’t indulging ourselves too much now. So a glance at the menu and for me it had to be poached eggs and avo on toast with smoked salmon and she opted for the halloumi and shrooms.

GAH, its so good!!

The prices ae completely reasonable, you won’t be paying over £10, infact most of the dishes range around £7-£9 (the other bonus about living in Manchester rather than London) and the portions are hefty enough. However if you’re STILL hungry??? there’s a delightlful array of cakes and pastries and some Australian sweets. Not forgetting those Lamingtons, and if you’re lucky a Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tart).

 

 

**ALSO**, for you Aussies out there, there is MILO on the drinks menu. I’d never heard of this apparant childhood favourite drink until I went to India where I was stayng with a South African and she was raving about the stuff. FYI her sweet tooth was on overdrive. It seems similar to our Nesquick with a malty flavour like a Horlicks, served cold or as a warm drink. No I didn’t have a test run, I will admire the packaging as a cutlery holder but that’s as far as I will go.

So obviously Federal called for a second visit. This time, no matter how tempted I was by the French toat (dripping in ruby berry juices marbled with creamy mascarpone on a tower of eggy bread) I went back to the old favourite. Sourdough, poachies, avocado, grilled tomato, some mushrooms (I nicked from my mum) and this time a big pile of side salad to up my veggies – you know how much I like my veggies. And my mum also went back to her favourite, halloumi and shrooms. Toast, grilled and golden halloumi, poached eggs, garlicky sautéed mushrooms, a sweetly spiced tomato chutney and dukkah.

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Two perfect poachies (and a hell load of spinach)

 

Followed swiftly by a flat white and a green tea, their coffee is smooth and creamy with lots of options of milk. Obviously its made with whole milk, but Rude Health almond milk is on offer (mini fist pump) and Bonsoy soy milk. The tea selection is wonderful, proper tea leves in a tea pot and a wide variety too. I went for the green ginseng which I always search out on a menu. There’s matcha lattes, chai lattes, cold brew coffee, an in house blitzed Superman juice and cocktails a plenty.

Obviously, there’s many more coffee shops and restaurants in Manchester for me to testrun, but Federal will always be one that I’ll be referring back to time and time again. If you’re ever in the city centre and need a bite to eat (arrive with an appetite) I’d seriously advise a perch in Federal, and if you are there don’t forget to call me and i’ll join you!!

I’ll be bringing more from Manchester soon, hoping to give you an insight to some of the amazing food we have on offer. There’s some stiff competition to London, lacking on the ‘healthy eating’ front I must admit you need to go further afield, but if you’re in need of some proper northern grub Manchester will have you covered.

 

Federal

9 Nicholas Croft, Manchester, M4 1EY

 

Happy brunching you lovely lot

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A tribute to toast

Bread

All you carbophones keep on scrolling as you won’t be interested. BUT YOU SHOULD BE.

Is there anything better in life than some fresh bread, sourdough, baguette, white, brown anything goes, and smothered (we’re not talking a thin coat, I mean 1 inch thick) with butter. That’s salted. Always.

I went through a sad time in my life after reading too many of these health food blogs in this ‘wellness world’, when I decided that carbs were bad. Which meant completely avoiding bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, even grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, spelt and at one point even rye. I thought they would make you put on weight, all we need is a paleo way of life. Vegetables and protein and lots of fat.

But my idea of that didn’t include much protein. So basically I was surviving on just vegetables, avocado and nuts. And I wondered why I was hungry all the time…

(Do not go down this route, it’s not good, not good at all!)

So in an attempt to get my life together and learn to practice balance, carbs have come flooding back in. BIG TIME.

You see they are kinda necessary. Carbohydrates in the form of starchy foods need to make up up to a third of what we eat. Apart from being an excellent source of energy (the slow releasing sort) they contain calcium, iron, B vitamins and most importantly fibre. Every little bit adds up to that 30g of fibre we need a day.

So in a bid to put on some much needed pounds and give myself the energy to power through not just workouts but my whole day, more carbs it is. There could be worse things.

Now when it comes to bread I do love some sourdough. Hefty, chewy and with that must have tang, as it is is best. Or dunked into some steaming soup. My love affair with bread however was rekindled by a certain rye bread. Now considered to be popular among the health food lovers amongst us, and the main component of a #basic breakfast, Biona rye bread is the one. 

Sworn on by the Danes, and most of Scandinavia, rye bread is nothing new. It’s been eaten daily by all walks of life before it became trendy. And why shouldn’t it be, with such a rich deep flavour, that toasts up to perfection.

Did I just mention toast?

Stuck in a mealtime rut, or just so hangry that you need something in your mouth, RIGHT NOW!

Toast is always the answer.

It can be topped an infinite number of ways. Sweet, savoury, or mix the two together, and you don’t have to stick to plain avo with salt and lemon. Although why mess with a classic, it has a time and a place.

Black tahini, kiwi and passionfruit


So let’s av’ it. Toast up your bread till nice and crispy and get ready to devour, veerrryyyyyyy soon.

Arf n arf. For you lot not from the north, it is indeed half and half (usually in the form of half chips and half rice with a curry)


Sweet options are up first.

  • Peanut butter and banana

Ok, ok use almond, cashew whatever else, but pb is LIFE, and its’ soulmate is banana. Sprinkle with a good amount of cinnamon, bee pollen and cacao nibs. Fancy pants enough for you?

  • Nut butter and berries

So this is where the sweeter flavour of almond or cashew comes into play. If you can grab a coconut almond butter from either Meridian or Pip and Nut, you’re laughing. It compliments the tart berries to perfection, add some flaked coconut and perhaps more seeds for that crunch factor. 

  • Peanut butter, kiwi and granola

Granola on toast? Yep you read that right. After having seen @jescoxnutritionist post this on Instagram I knew she was on to something. It really is as good as it sounds. Make sure the kiwi and ripe and juicy, sliced thinly on top of some (make it crunchy) peanut butter, a good dousing with granola and a drizzle of date syrup for a little sweetness. The best by far, I think so!

  • Apple, tahini and cinnamon

If you’re a tahini lover this will float your boat. Smother the bread with dark, light or black tahini. Thinly slice an apple (British if possible), fan out across the toast, add the obligatory cinnamon and whatever other sprinkles you like. Quick, simple and most importantly tasty. 

  • Baked Fig, tahini and yogurt

Now if you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen me post this the other morning. Figs are in season for such a short time so grab em quick! Bake some figs for around 10 mins until warm and juicy, spread the toast liberally with tahini, swirl on the teeniest tiniest bit of raw honey, top with figs, yogurt dollops and lotsa cinnamon. The sweet stuff.

  • Avo, berries and nut butter

Feeling indecisive, why not mix the two together.

  • Peach Melba toast

Spread with coconut yogurt, top with thinly sliced peach and raspberries, sprinkle with hemp seeds and bee pollen. Feel like the ultimate summer goddess.

Now for some savoury tings, acceptable for breakfast lunch or dinner. Get on it! No I’m not going to get all egg on toast here, although that’s always a good option, here’s to something different. 

  • Avo on toast #basic

Go simple and smash it on there with a squeeze of lemon or lime to be zesty, and good pinch of salt and some chilli flakes.

  • Miso and tahini (future names for my cats), avo on toast   

An idea I got from the lovely blog, Dolly and Oatmeal. Mix a good tbsp of your favourite tahini with a small amount of white or brown miso and spread on toast. Top with sliced avo a good squeeze of lime and some sesame seeds for a sprinklinn’.

  • Avocado, strawberries and feta

When it’s summer and the sweetest of strawberries are in season,this is stellar. Mash the avo, spread on your toast, top with thinly sliced strawberries (nectarine/peaches are also good) and add feta or goats cheese. Its got that salty, sweet thing.

  • Avo, pea and feta smash

It is what is says, add some finely chopped parsley, a squeeze of lemon and get spreading. Top with seeds and some rocket leaves.

  • Tahini, cucumber and smoked salmon
  • Beetroot, smashed avo and smoked mackerel
  • Hummus, mashed butternut squash, sliced tomatoes and chillies. Throw a little smoked paprika on there too. 

Messy, but still delicious. Hummus is always the right answer.


Obviously this not a definitive list, use up whatever’s left in your fridge to create something new, or stick to a well loved classic. Just always try to include some protein (animal or plantbased) and a small amount of fat, that way you’ll keep on chugging easily until the next big feed!

A toast to toast

Much love

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