Today is the first day of Spring and as if in celebration it was sunny – yippee. I always like to see the sun but especially on a day when we planned to be outside for 3-4 hours walking. I was meeting one of my dearest friends, Jeremy, and his family for a walk on Reigate Hill as that is half way between our houses.
Before we set off though we had a hearty breakfast.
I am avoiding all citrus fruits (unfortunately as I love them) in case they are contributing to my spotty and dry skin but Harvey is happy he gets all the blood oranges. The season is over so these may be the last until next year. I made a huge smoothie out of 2 frozen bananas, 2 large handfuls of spinach, some almond milk, 1 tbsp chia and flax seeds and some sprouts. I put some of each type of sprout in the blender. Topped with a kiwi fruit, some cacao nibs and a strawberry. I do confess I have enjoyed the flavour of many other smoothies I have made more than this one but this was so green and so good for you I enjoyed every mouthful. We then set off for Reigate Hill and Gatton Park, a National Trust owned area of the North Downs, just off junction 8 of the M25. Unfortunately it was really cloudy when we arrived and threatened rain but in the end the Spring sunshine prevailed. We walked over to the fort and enjoyed the views from both sides of the hill. This is looking South towards the South Downs with the South coast beyond. This is one of 13 forts built in the 1890s to protect London from the threat of invasion from the French. No threat of invasion today but it provided an interesting place to run around in. There is a warmth back to the sun which was very enjoyable and made me realise I am way behind with preparing for the garden this year. I need to buy my seeds. I need new boots! This is the view looking North and although it is harder to see in the photo than it was when we stood there, you can see London in the distance. We could easily make out the Gherkin and The Shard and over to the West, Wembley.After a long walk (in terms of time taken rather then distance covered) we came back to the car park area where there was a very impressive little cafe, called the Urban Kitchen. For a small and rather remote cafe they had an excellent range of food and drinks. I ordered a soy latte and a vegetables soup but I was tempted with a smoothie.
Unfortunately the butternut squash soup tasted rather unpleasant so I was unable to eat it. It is very rare that I can not eat something and I was clearly unlucky with my choice because everyone else’s lunch was really good. Instead I had 2 Bounce balls which were the only vegan offering available. I really like bounce balls so was quite happy with that. I was particularly happy to have had my first meal outside for 2015 and with such lovely company.
For dinner I made something I was expecting to be ordinary if not even dull but it was so delicious I am sharing the recipe as I certainly want to make it again.
We had celeriac and potato mash with a ‘cheesy’ vegetable casserole (vegan). Harvey had the same meal with Swedish meatballs too as he is not willing to give up meat and I believe it should be a personal choice. But I do insist he eats lots of fruits and veggies so he tends to eat the same as me plus some meat on the side. That keeps us both happy. Cheesey Vegetable Casserole (vegan)
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 medium sized onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 sticks of celery, chopped
Half a punnett of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
Half a savoy cabbage, finely sliced
Similar quantity of runner beans
300 ml passata
200 ml water
1 tsp Marmite
1 level tsp oregano
1 level tsp fennel seeds
salt and pepper
4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1. Heat oil in large casserole dish
2. Gently fry the onions, carrots and celery for about 10 minutes
3. Add the mushrooms and savoy cabbage and cook for another 5 minutes
4. Add the passata, water, Marmite, oregano, fennel seeds, salt and pepper and simmer very gently, covered, for about half an hour.
5. Serve with 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes sprinkled on top of each portion to add a ‘cheesey’ flavour.
I served this with a celeriac and potato mash which is made with about 2/3 potato and 1/3 celeriac. I boiled the celeriac and potato together, strained them and seasoned them with salt and pepper and then mashed them with some margarine.
What a lovely day. We really enjoyed spending time with Jeremy, Helen, Roddy and Jay, we enjoyed visiting somewhere new, the Spring sunshine was a bonus and everything I ate was top quality and tasty. I hope the rest of Spring 2015 measures up to this perfect start.