Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Christmas Raw Food Truffles

This recipe comes from a workshop I attended with Melissa from Yoga Kitchen in Glasgow.  Since then, I’ve made several batches of raw truffles for Christmas parties and dinners and will definitely be making more as gifts. The most important thing about the truffles is that they taste great and as a bonus they’re easy to make and ridiculously healthy – vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and full of fibre – surely they count as one of your 5-a-day?

Raw Truffles Recipe

1 over-filled cup of dates   *   1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 scant cup of nuts (cashews or walnuts)   *   1 teaspoon cocoa powder and more to roll

  • Soak the dates in boiling water whilst you prepare the other ingredients – I chop mine a bit first
  • Blitz the nuts in a food processor or hand blender – I use a hand blender with an enclosed attachment and pulse the nuts
  • Mix the ground nuts in a small bowl with the cocoa powder and any other dry ingredients
  • Strain the soaked dates and transfer to your blender with the coconut oil – you may need to do this in batches
  • Scoop the wet mix in to a large bowl and gradually mix in the dry ingredients
  • Using your hands, make small balls with the mix and roll these in cocoa powder or dessicated coconut
  • Store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks, great as a snack for packed lunches


Christmas Spice: 1 heaped teaspoon of Mixed Spice in the dry mix

Rose & Cardamon: 1 tablespoon of Rose Water in the wet mix; 3 crushed Cardamons in the dry mix

Rosehip Syrup Recipe

Rosehips are abundant in early Autumn and Rosehip syrup is a great source of Vitamin C and can be used to boost the immune system and prevent coughs and colds – apparently anywhere up to 20 times as much Vitamin C as citrus fruits. This is a simple enough recipe, with few ingredients and just a bit of preparation required.

For the traditionalists, Rosehip syrup is made with Rosa canina – Wild or Dog Rose. The Rosehips are a distinctive red-orange, bullet shape but can be quite tough and difficult to process early in the season, then disintegrating to the touch much later on. You can also use hips from other varieties of Roses, Rosa rugosa with it’s fat, almost Tomato-like hips is a common escape around Glasgow and provides much more juicy flesh to extract. I like to use a mixture for convenience, whilst also ensuring plenty of quality, wild constituents – Roses that have been bred for blooms will not necessarily have the same therapeutic properties as their wild cousins. An important safety point, it is best not to pick from ornamental Roses, both ethically – they belong to someone else – and because they may have been sprayed with chemicals that you would rather not ingest.


Rosehip Syrup Recipe

Rosehips  1kg   *   Water     3 litres   *   Sugar       450g

2 Saucepans   *   Jelly Bag / double muslin   *    Clean bottles / Freezable container


  • Have 2 litres of water on the boil in a saucepan
  • Chop the Rosehips up as much as you can and add to the pan quickly – if you have a mincer, use this and mince the Rosehips directly in to your pan
  • Bring back to the boil, remove heat and leave for 15 minutes
  • Pour the pulpy liquid through a jelly bag, dripping in to a 2nd saucepan / large bowl
  • Take the pulp from the jelly bag and add back to the original saucepan with 1 litre of water
  • Boil, remove from the heat, leave for 10 minutes, then pass through the jelly bag again
  • Simmer all of the liquid in a clean saucepan until it reduces down to about 1 litre
  • Stir in the sugar to dissolve, bring to the boil for 5 minutes
  • Bottle your syrup in sterilised jars and/or pour in to a freezable container to make scoopable Rosehip syrup / sorbet

Use the Rosehip syrup through the winter to supplement Vitamin C, or as a topping for desserts.

Chop your Rosehips up a fair bit to get the most from the extraction, and get them gently cooking as soon as possible to preserve the Vitamin C. Over-cooking can also reduce the amount of available Vitamin C.

If you are using Rosa canina you may find the small hairs on the hips and seeds slightly irritating – wear gloves if you’re particularly sensitive and don’t squeeze the pulp in the jelly bag as some of the tiniest hairs may come through.

Spring Elderflower Vinegars / Shrubs

The first Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering is in September – tickets on sale in July. We recently got talking about the important entertainments aspect of the Gathering and wanted to make sure there will be some tasty forageables for the non-alcoholic attendees – we have a lot of options for wild alcohol… As I have a lot of Elderflower Recipes of the boozy and non-boozy varieties and, one of my favourites, Elderberry Vinegar, I thought, why not combine the two and look in to some Elderflower Vinegars?

Today, I managed to collect a good stash of Elderflower heads – unexpected bonus of the cooler weather is that I only brought one greenfly in to the flat and its sensitive pre-allotment seedlings on the windowsill. When you’re picking Elderflower heads it should ideally be early on a sunny day, so that you get maximum pollen before the insects get to it. In reality, you can pick later in the day, just give the flowers a good sniff to check they’re fragrant – this can vary a bit from tree to tree as well. A few points on picking, like all foraging, Elderflower picking is best done sustainably and respectfully, leaving plenty behind for the plant and other species’ who rely on it to survive. Respectful foraging also often means securing the main plant with one hand as you pick with the other – petals like Rose  and very ripe berries are probably the main exceptions. You should also try to remove the plant material cleanly and from a growth point to prevent dead material being left on the plant and potentially creating an easy environment for deseases. When I got home, I discovered that getting Elderflowers off of their stalks with a fork is a tad more labour intensive than getting Elderberries – which you can freeze and then they pop off. I recommend a good, long radio programme for when you have a go with these recipes.

I’ve used two recipes – one with sugar from the outset from JamJarShop and another with no sweeteners (yet) from GreatFoodClub They both take 2 to 3 weeks to infuse, after which I’ll strain them and then use the vinegar to make refreshing shrubs, diluted with soda water.I’m sure there’ll be some left for the Gathering in September.

Sugar-Free Recipe

  1. Sterilise a large jar – I used a Kilner which was just under 1L.
  2. I picked 15 elderflower heads for 900ml white wine vinegar.
  3. Pick the flowers and place in the jar, covering with the vinegar.
  4. Seal, and place on a sunny windowsill for 2-3 weeks.
  5. Strain through muslin and decant vinegar into bottles.
  6. Store in a dry, dark cupboard.

Sugary Recipe

Follow the steps above with slightly different ingredients, for a roughly 1L jar, I used:

18 elderflower heads /  450g caster sugar / zest of 1 orange / 650ml apple cider vinegar


Immune Boosting Herbal & Fruit Vinegars

So, I’ve got a bit of a cold and, being a good herbalist, I’ve neglected to look after myself properly and have only just remembered the bottles and bottles of soothing Elderberry Vinegar that are sitting in the spare / herbal room. Elderberries are full of Vitamin C and a great immune booster, they’re also conveniently in season in the Autumn, about the time the first colds are starting with the return to school and university and increased exposure to everyone else’s germs. I’m guessing this might also explain my current cold, everyone’s back to Glasgow with new and interesting bugs after far-flung festivities.

I’ve recently taken to calling the sweetened Elderberry Vinegar a “Shrub” as some people find the idea of drinking vinegar a bit off-putting. The basic recipe for any Fruit Vinegar is here.  Although it’s a bit late for foraged fruits here in Glasgow, you can also use shop-bought Raspberries or even Blackberries if you don’t mind the food miles. A more seasonal type of medicinal vinegar, which you can make now is the pungent, garlicky, herby Four Thieves’ Vinegar. Even better, although for maximum potency, your vinegar should stew for 2 weeks – the components of Four Thieves’ Vinegar are so strong, you’ll get some medicinal effects if you drink it with only a couple of hours of stewing.

A couple of quick notes about making vinegars. I often get asked which vinegar is best to use as the base to a medicinal vinegar or shrub. I usually go for Apple Cider Vinegar for stronger flavours like the garlicky Four Thieves’ Vinegar and/or if the vinegar isn’t going to be heated. White Wine Vinegar is best if the vinegar is going to be heated as part of the recipe, particularly to add sugar, as with the Fruit Vinegars. The direct heat denatures some of the ACV goodness and the blandness of White Wine Vinegar suits sweetening. It’s not essential to stick to these though, if you’re in a hurry and happen to have only one vinegar to hand, just use that.

Another common question is around adding sugar and sugar subsititutes. The basic Fruit Vinegar recipe does add a lot of sugar and this isn’t essential for preservation, but does bring out the flavour of the Elderberries and Blackberries in particular. So, if you’re going to use your Fruit Vinegar as a culinary, Balsamic-like dressing, sweetening is really a must. If you’re going for a medicinal Fruit Vinegar, you could leave out the sugar in the initial recipe and then add sugar or honey to your warmed vinegar drink. Some people have suggested adding honey to the basic recipe, but I wonder if prolonged heat is good for honey and think adding it as you drink would be better. I’ve yet to experiment with using natural plant sweeteners like Stevia and would definitely avoid artificial sweeteners.

Bramble Vinegar

Hogmanay Relaxation with Herbs & Massage

In the run-up to Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve for those of you outside Scotland) massage can relax, relieve tension and aid sleep. In the evening, a facial massage is straightforward to incorporate into your routine using oil or moisturiser, it will leave you revitalised and ready for the end of year celebrations.

FACIAL MASSAGE: Place your thumbs on either side of the bridge of your nose and take some slow, deep breaths, pressing gently on the out breath. Then make circular movements with the tips of your fingers around the brown bone and along to the temples, repeating as many times as you like. For sinus problems, work gently but firmly over the sinuses, with small circular strokes, following your breathing.

HAND MASSAGE: Press into your palm with the thumb of the other hand, then pull gently on the fingers one by one. Press gently down the back of the hand between the fingers to stimulate the circulation. Make small circular strokes around the joints and work gently on the wrists, especially if there has been any swelling or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

ACUPRESSURE: HT (Heart Protector) 8 will calm and ease anxiety, this is useful if you’re feeling disoriented or anxious. Find the point by bringing the little finger down to the palm. HT8 is just between the bones where the tip of the little finger meets the palm.

Teas to Relax and Improve Energy

Chamomile; Lemon Balm; Catmint; Skullcap and Limeflower – relaxing herbal teas which taste good and can be used in most situations, including during pregnancy. If you drink teas at night to help you sleep, the extra liquid can make it more likely that you’ll wake up during the night to go to the toilet. In some cases a prescribed tincture or tablets may be more appropriate.

For more help with low energy levels, particularly if your situation is complex and/or you have a long term complaint, get in touch for a full herbal consultation in Glasgow, or find your local NIMH herbalist.

Autumn Events 2014

Harvest time is pretty busy for herbalists and foragers – if you’d like to come and share some of the Autumn berry bounty, you can find me at the events below or get in touch to book a workshop or forage for your event. Some events are booking only, I’ve an Events page on Facebook or email me to book a space.

VENUE CHANGE: Springburn Drumchapel Foraging Walk: Saturday 20th September 12-4pm

As part of Doors Open Day in Glasgow, I’ll be on the North West Glasgow Art Trail at Springburn Park. The event is from 12-4pm with How to Make Your Own Remedies throughout the afternoon and two Foraging Walks at 12.30 & 2pm. Spaces on the walks are limited so please use the Facebook link or email me to book a space.

Boost Your Immunity Class, Woodland Herbs: Thursday 2nd October 7-9pm   £10 per person

Learn how to boost your immunity using simple herbal remedies and dietary advice. We’ll look at plants for general immune support, colds, ‘flu’ and other infections which tend to pop up in the colder weather. Booking is essential for the class as spaces are limited Facebook or email me to enquire about spaces.

Queen’s Park Foraging Walk: Sunday 12th October 11am-1.30pm

My regular monthly walk on the southside of Glasgow, we’ll meet at the Glad Cafe on Pollokshaws Road at 11am to head to the park and check out what’s growing in high Autumn. Plenty of fruits, berries, hips and haws for Hedgerow Jelly – more details here


Elderflower Cordial and Delights

I wrote last year about Elderflower Champagne, this year something for the sweet, rather than alcholic, tooth: Elderflower Cordial and Elderflower Turkish Delight (adapted from here, many thanks for the inspiration). Both recipes require an overnight wait, to infuse the Elderflower for the Cordial and to set the Turkish Delights.


Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Champagne June 2013   To make 1 litre of cordial, in a large bowl mix:

15 Elderflower heads, freshly picked

Zest of 1 lemon and ½ an orange (keep the juice to add later)

Pour 750ml boiling water over the mix, cover and leave overnight

Strain and discard the flowers and zest

Heat the liquid with 500g sugar and the orange and lemon juice

Simmer for a few minutes then bottle whilst still hot

The cordial keeps for a few weeks in the fridge, or freeze to keep for later in the year

TO USE: Dilute 1:4 with cold, hot or sparkling water

VARIATIONS: Make ice lollies: 1 part cordial to 2 parts water

                                Add to cocktails           *          Flavour desserts


Elderflower Turkish Delight

This is an easy recipe, which just requires a little patienceCreated with Nokia Smart Cam

In one pan heat 250ml water with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 200g sugar

Bring to the boil and allow to evaporate to a light syrup, stirring occassionally

(not as technical as it sounds – I do this using guess work and finger-crossing)

In a second pan gently heat 250ml water and 50g cornflour

This requires a bit more stirring than the sugar mix as it will thicken quickly

Pour the hot sugar syrup in to the gloopy cornflour and mix well

Simmer gently for one hour – it will make disturbing noises, leave it alone

Flavouring: add 1 tablespoon Elderflower Cordial at the end of the hour, stir in well

Pour the mixture in to a tupperware box and leave to set overnight

Created with Nokia Smart CamCut your Delights and roll in a mixture of icing sugar and cornflour, with twice as much cornflour as icing sugar

Store in an airtight container

The Delights will keep for a few days, re-roll them in the icing sugar mix if they get a bit sticky

VARIATIONS: add 1 tablespoon Rosewater and 5 frozen Raspberries

Pre-flavour your syrup using Elderflower or Rose flavoured sugar