Saturday, 22 November 2014

Caramelised Roast Parsnips

Caramelised Roast Parsnips
This is my vegan version of honey roasted parsnip's, made without the honey! I absolutely love roasted parsnips but, unfortunately, none of the family do, so I make the full quantity below and freeze any left overs for another meal...or eat them cold the next day!

Serves 2-4 as a side dish.
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • 1lb/450g parsnips, peeled weight
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped Rosemary
Heat oven to 190C/180C fan.
Peel the parsnips, cut into halves or quarters, and remove the woody cores if the parsnips are large. Cut into thick batons.
Place oil and sugar in a roasting pan and mix together. Add the parsnips and coat with the mixture. Season with black pepper and sprinkle the chopped rosemary over.
Cover tightly with foil and roast for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil carefully (to allow the steam to escape) and turn the parsnips gently, so that they don't break up too much.
Roast the parsnips, uncovered, for a further 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.
Serve with Christmas Dinner.

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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Turkish Beans with Lemon & Herbs

Turkish Beans with Lemon & Herbs
After cooking my meat-free Coq au Vin, I had plenty of carrots, celery and parsley left, so I came up with this Turkish-inspired recipe. I used 2 lemons the first time I made it, which Mr O and I loved, but the girls said it was too lemony; so I cooked it with just one lemon second time around, which they preferred.

Serves 2-3 as a main course, 4-6 as a side dish.
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 100g/4oz green beans, sliced in 2-3cm pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, de-stringed and sliced 
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 tin of chickpeas/garbanzo beans or other pulses, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced or chopped
  • Juice and zest of 1 or 2 lemons (depending on how lemony you like your food!)
  • 100ml/4floz vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp chopped, fresh dill
Heat the oil in a large pan, on a medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for a few minutes, then add the carrots, celery and green beans. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add the stock, chilli and herbs and stir.
Cover and simmer on a low-medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are almost cooked. Add the lemon juice and zest along with the tinned pulses.
Cover and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Serve hot, warm or cold (as a salad).

I'm linking this post up to the this month's Extra Veg Challenge, created by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy. 
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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Champignons et Légumes au Vin (Mushrooms & Vegetables in a Red Wine Sauce)

I was left in charge of cooking a vegetarian/vegan version of Coq au Vin for a dinner party with friends. Only 3 of us were veggie, but I made enough to serve 4-6 as I knew the meaties would want to try some too! I've stuck pretty well to the original classic French version, but bulked the casserole out with extra mushrooms and vegetables.

I think this meal is tasty enough to work as a vegan Christmas dinner alternative, especially as it can be prepared in advance and will go with all the traditional Christmas dinner vegetables.You could serve it as it is, as a pie filling, or even in a giant Yorkshire pudding! 

Serves 4-6
  • 2 cups/500ml full-bodied vegan red wine (for a lighter version, use white wine, cider or half wine/half vegetable stock)
  • 4 medium carrots, thickly sliced
  • 4 celery sticks, de-stringed and thickly sliced
  • 20 baby onions or small shallots, peeled but left whole 
  • 1lb/450g button mushrooms (or mixed, chopped mushrooms), wiped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley
  • a sprig or two of fresh thyme and/or rosemary
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
Heat the olive oil in a large pan, on a medium heat. Add the onions and saute for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Add the rest of the vegetables, garlic, herbs and seasonings and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the flour and coat the vegetables. 
Pour in the wine slowly, stirring all the time and bring to the boil to thicken the sauce.
Turn the heat down and simmer, with the lid on, for around 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. 

Add a little extra wine or stock if the sauce becomes too thick.

Serve with roasted potatoes and parsnips and/or seasonal vegetables.

Money-saving tip: I used baby onions and button mushrooms as they look appealing, but it's much cheaper to use 'big veg.' instead. You could add pretty much any combination of root or firm vegetables in this recipe, such as green beans, potatoes or squash.

Protein alternatives: As I've removed the chicken from this recipe, it doesn't contain very much protein. To replace the protein, reduce the amount of vegetables slightly and add 4-6 chicken-style meat-free fillets (after you have added the wine), or a drained tin of pulses or pack of cooked, whole chestnuts (10 minutes before serving).
Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
Alcohol-free option: If you avoid alcohol for religious reasons, simply swap it for a good, rich vegetable stock and add some extra herbs and garlic.

I'm adding this recipe to Carole's Chatter: Low Carb Dinners and Lavender & Lovage's Cooking with Herbs.
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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles (Vegan) - Suma Blogger's Network

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles (Vegan)
I know it's a bit early, and you probably don't want reminding that Christmas is only 53 days away, but as it's the 1st of November, I thought I would start blogging some festive recipes! These vegan chocolate truffles are really easy to make, will keep in the fridge for a week or so, and make great home-made Christmas presents. 

This recipe makes Nutella or Ferrero Rocher flavoured truffles, which are totally dairy-free!

Makes around 10-12 truffles.
  • 200g/8oz dairy-free dark chocolate (I used Plamil chocolate drops)
  • 90ml/6 tbsp Ecomil almond cream (use 75ml/5 tbsp of cream if using liqueur as the flavouring)
  • 90ml/6tbsp Meridan crunchy hazelnut butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla or other flavouring extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, coconut sugar, roasted chopped hazel nuts, grated chocolate etc. to coat.
  • 2-4 tsp date/agave syrup to sweeten (optional)*
Heat the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, in the microwave, until melted - Stir every 10-15 seconds, to make sure it doesn't burn.
Add the almond cream, vanilla and nut butter and mix well - Taste and sweeten* at this point if you prefer a sweeter truffle.

Chill the mixture for an hour or two, until firm.

Remove from the fridge and working quickly, shape heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls, using your hands.
Roll the truffles in your preferred coatings and pop into sweet cases. Refrigerate until needed.
Wrap in cellophane bags to give as presents.

*These truffles have quite an adult dark-chocolate taste, so may not appeal to younger children. For a more child-friendly option, use a dairy-free 'milk chocolate' and sweeten the mixture with 2-4 tsp date/agave syrup.

Flavour options: Vary the recipe by using different nut butters and flavourings; use 1 tbsp liqueur, 1 tsp flavouring extract or a little grated lemon/orange zest instead of vanilla extract. Try using almond or cashew nut butter instead of hazelnut.

As a member of the Suma Blogger's Network, I will receive a selection of complimentary products from Suma every two months, to use in recipe development, and will blog an original recipe for the Network. 

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Boureki - Greek Potato & Courgette Bake

This is another Cretan vegetarian recipe, which is filling and warming - great for the winter months ahead. It does take a long time to cook, so I would suggest making two and freezing one for another meal.
Traditionally, boureki is made with mizithra cheese which is difficult to find in the UK, so I've used feta instead.

Serves 4

  • 2lb/900g (unpeeled weight) baking potatoes
  • 1lb/450g courgettes/zucchini
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped mint or 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill leaves or 1 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8oz/200g pack of feta
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ½ pt/280ml hot vegetable stock (made with a stock cube)

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/160C Fan/325F/Gas 3.

Peel and slice the potatoes as thinly as possible. This is best done using a food processor or mandoline slicer.
Thinly slice the courgettes the same way.

Grease an oven proof dish (approx 25x20cm) generously with olive oil and place a layer of courgettes in, slightly over lapping. Repeat with a layer of potatoes and another layer of courgettes. Crumble half of the feta over, and sprinkle with black pepper, half of the mint and half of the dill.
Continue layering up the vegetables, finishing with a layer of potato.

Mix the rest of the herbs into the stock and carefully pour the into the dish over the vegetables.
Top with the remaining cheese, an extra sprinkle of mint and drizzle the remaining olive oil over.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and place in the oven.

Bake for 2-2½ hours until the potatoes are soft (insert a sharp knife into the potatoes, to see if they are tender) - believe me, it will take this long to cook, as I have tried to reduce the cooking time and ended up with under cooked potatoes! 
If liked, remove the foil for the final 10-15 minutes, to brown the top of the boureki. Allow to cool for around 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
Serve with seasonal vegetables or salad.

Seasonal variation: Try swapping the courgettes for sliced squash, pumpkin or celeriac.

Vegan version: Swap the feta for a vegan feta-style cheese. When topping the bake, mix the crumbled 'feta' with the remaining olive oil before sprinkling over the potato, to help stop it from drying out too much.

Slow cooker version: Although I haven't tried this, I reckon this dish could also be cooked in a slow cooker. Follow the recipe above but reduce the amount of stock by half. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Brown under the grill before serving. Do let me know if this works!

I'm linking this recipe up to Ren Behan's Simple and in Season event for October.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Spicy Vegetable & Bean Burgers

Spicy Vegetable & Bean Burgers
I've been trying to perfect a spicy bean burger recipe for some time and this is the best version I've made so far, in both flavour and texture. The mixture holds together well without the need for egg, so it's vegan too. My version is slightly chunky, but you could blend the mixture briefly, if you want to hide the vegetable pieces from fussy children!
  • 1 small tin/½ big tin refried beans - approx 8 oz/200g
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper, finely diced
  • around ¼ of a butternut squash or 1 sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
  • 1-2 tsp green harissa paste or chilli sauce, optional
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander leaves (I used the frozen type)
  • 2 slices of bread made into breadcrumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/350F/Gas 4,
Put all of the chopped vegetables in a baking dish and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Cook for around 15-20 minutes turning occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and browned slightly.
Mix in all of the remaining ingredients (except the breadcrumbs). 
Finally mix in enough breadcrumbs to form a firm, but not dry, mixture.

Form the mixture into 4 large burgers using your hands or a burger press and chill for at least half an hour to firm up. Fry the burgers in a further 1-2 tbsp olive oil for 6-8 minutes on each side.

Top with salsa, guacamole or ketchup and serve in a bread roll or with chips/sweet potato wedges.

Leftover tip: Make this recipe using any combination of left over boiled or roasted vegetables, to make it even more economical.

I'm linking this post up to the This month's Extra Veg Challenge over at A Mummy Too, created by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy. 

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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Peanut & Tamarind Falafels for National Curry Week

 The Spice Tailor sauce range
 The Spice Tailor chutni rangeAs you may have realised, my family all love Indian food. So we were excited to find out that Anjum Anand's The Spice Tailor range has now been extended to include a delicious array of curry sauces plus a tasty selection of chutnis. I've been testing out the whole range on my family over the past couple of weeks and they've been really impressed how tasty and authentic the sauces are. I've also loved how quick and easy they are to use.

I've been experimenting with different variations of falafels lately and decided to come up with an Indian-inspired version for National Curry Week, using The Spice Tailor products. I used two varieties from the new chutni range, which are a delicious addition to almost any Asian meal, either as a condiment or as an ingredient.

Makes 12
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 5 tbsp Spice Tailor peanut & tamarind chutni
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp chilli paste/ hot chilli sauce
  • 1-2 slices of wholemeal bread, made into breadcrumbs
Peanut & Tamarind Falafels

Put all of the ingredients, except the breadcrumbs, into a food processor and blend for a minute or so. Scrape the ingredients down from the sides of the bowl and repeat until you have a fairly smooth mixture.
Add just enough breadcrumbs to form a fairly stiff, but not dry, mixture.
Roll into 12 balls and flatten slightly.
Chill in the fridge for around half an hour.

Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large frying pan, on a medium heat.
Cook the falafels for around 4-5 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Wrap in a chapatti with salad and your favourite dip, sauce or chutney; I served mine with onion salad and mint sauce:

Onion salad
  • 1 tsp Spice Tailor mint leaf chutni
  • 1 small onion, halved and very finely sliced
  • 1" cucumber, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
Indian mint sauce
  • 1 tbsp Spice Tailor mint leaf chutni
  • ½ cup natural or vegan plain yogurt
  • a pinch of sugar, optional
The Spice Tailor range is available from most major UK supermarkets and online.
I received a selection of complimentary products from The Spice Tailor to review and to use in recipe development. All views expressed are my own and those of my family.
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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Spicy Mexican Bean Soup

Spicy Mexican Bean Soup
Autumn has well and truly arrived in England this week, and the nights are drawing in, so I thought that this hearty, protein-packed, bean soup would make an ideal week-night meal. You can make this soup as smooth or chunky as you like, depending on your family's preference. I decided to blend the soup and then add the beans for a bit of texture, but you could blend the whole soup (including the beans), or not blend at all if you want a more rustic, chunky soup.
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
  • ¼ cup dried red lentils
  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tin beans, drained and rinsed - I used mixed beans but you could use any type
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped coriander
  • a little hot chilli sauce, to taste
Heat a drop of vegetable oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute gently for a couple of minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the beans and coriander leaves, and simmer for around 15-20 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are tender. 

At this point you can blend the soup (I used my tried and tested Optimum 9400 blender) and then add the beans, or vice versa, or don't blend at all!
Return the the soup to the pan for a further couple of minutes to heat the beans through before serving.
Season with hot chilli sauce to taste and sprinkle with the coriander leaves.

Serve with warm home-made bread.

I'm entering this recipe to this month's No Croutons Required Challenge, co-hosted by Jacqui at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen

I'm also adding it to this month's Credit Crunch Munch, created by Helen and Camilla and hosted this month by Hannah at A New Addition

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Courgette & Halloumi Kebabs

Courgette & halloumi kebabs
After a long mild, summer, I'm currently using up the last of my homegrown courgettes/marrows. After appealing for recipes, Natalie via Facebook sent me her kebab recipe, which is so simple to make, but tastes amazing...

Serves 8
  • 2 packs of halloumi
  • 3-4 medium sized courgettes/zucchini or a marrow, peeled and de-seeded
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh, chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley 

Make the marinade by whizzing the ingredients up in a food processor, or chopping the herbs finely and mixing together with the other ingredients.
Cube the halloumi.
Cut the courgettes/marrow into similar sized pieces.
Marinade for about two hours (in the fridge).
Thread the cheese and courgettes alternately onto skewers.
BBQ or grill until cooked, turning once or twice. 

Serve with tabbouleh or couscous.

Vegan option: For a vegan version, swap the halloumi for firm, pressed tofu.

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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Dakos - Greek Bruschetta

Dakos - Greek bruschetta
We recently came back from a lovely holiday in the Chania region of Crete. As always, I've come home wanting to re-create some of the dishes we have eaten on holiday. The first one being dakos/ntakos or Greek bruschetta. This simple starter is traditionally made with barley rusks, but I swapped them for Krisprolls which have a similar texture and are more readily available. You could also use any good, crusty bread such as ciabatta.

The Cretans make these with Greek mizithra cheese, which is a whey cheese generally made from goat's or sheep's milk. I used a soft goat's cheese for the closest taste and texture, but you could use ricotta or crumbled feta instead.
  • 1 pack of dakos rusks or Krisprolls
  • 2 ripe beef tomatoes, quartered (or de-seeded vine tomatoes)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • ½ tsp Greek oregano
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g soft goat's cheese
  • A handful of Greek olives
Briefly blitz together the tomatoes, garlic and oil in a blender for a few seconds (it should be slightly chunky like a salsa). Season to taste.
Spoon the mixture over the rusks/Krisprolls and top with crumbled goat's cheese and an olive. Sprinkle with dried oregano.
Refrigerate for up to 2 hours before serving.

Vegan option: Swap the cheese for a vegan Greek olive paste (check ingredients for anchovies).

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Friday, 5 September 2014

Nectarine & Kiwi Smoothie

We're loving our Optimum 9400 blender and smoothie maker and using it most days. I think one of it's most positive attributes is that it's so quick and easy to clean.
This smoothie is Miss K's latest invention...
  • 1 nectarine, stone removed and quartered
  • 1 kiwi, skinned and quartered
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup ice
Smoothie benefits: Rich in vitamins C, E and A and a good source of fibre.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mixed Bean and Basil Hummus - Suma Blogger's Network

Mixed Bean and Basil Hummus
Here's my second post for the Suma Blogger's Network. I decided on a variation on hummus using mixed beans rather than chickpeas, and Italian flavourings instead of the traditional Middle Eastern ones. I must say it worked really well and tastes great with crudites or fresh crusty bread.

  • 1 tin of mixed beans, rinsed and well drained (I used Suma organic mixed beans)
  • a good handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
 Suma Blogger's NetworkBlend all ingredients, except for the pine nuts, until smooth. Season to taste.
Drizzle with olive oil and top with the toasted pine nuts.
Chill until needed.
Will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge. 

As a member of the Suma Blogger's Network, I will receive a selection of complimentary products from Suma every two months, to use in recipe development, and will blog an original recipe for the Network. 
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Hundred Foot Journey - A Book Review and Giveaway

 The Hundred Foot Journey
After reviewing several cook books with narrative content, I was intrigued by the offer of a review copy of The Hundred Foot Journey, which is classed as Foodie Fiction  - a genre new to me. 
Written by Richard C. Morais, The Hundred-Foot Journey has recently been made into a film starring Helen Mirren . The film will be released in the US on 8th August and in the UK on 12th September. It tells the story of a culinary war between a boisterous Indian family who open a restaurant in a sleepy French village opposite a renowned Michelin-starred chef. 
The book tells the life story of Hassan, a budding young Indian chef whose career takes off in a very different direction to the one his family have planned for him, after they move first to England and then to France. There are touching and sometimes tragic scenes, as well as many humorous moments, as Hassan gains recognition for his culinary skills, much to (acclaimed French chef) Mme Mallory's disdain. It is Hassan's journey though, both physical and emotional, which grips the reader and shocks his family. 

Detailed descriptions of the Hassan's ingredients, menus and culinary skills are paramount to the story, however, I must point out (as a vegetarian) that this is not a book for the squeamish, as there are also passages depicting animal slaughter and butchery. I personally would have liked slightly more detail about Hassan's family, culture and the Maison Mumbai restaurant and slightly less about French haute cuisine, but maybe that's just me!

Having read the book, I can't wait to see the film, as I can imagine that Helen Mirren will play the formidable Mme Mallory very well.

Watch the film trailer here...

I have two copies of the book to giveaway (UK only). Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below and leave me a comment to tell me which you favourite type of cuisine is. Competition ends midnight 24th August '14.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Integrity Statement
I received one copy of the book to review and 2 copies to giveaway.  The views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Sun-Dried Tomato & Chilli Falafels

We all love falafels, and the great thing about them is that they are cheap to make, a great source of protein and fairly low in fat (depending on how you cook them). I've been experimenting with different variations and found that these went down very well with all of the family.
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 50g/2oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh chilli, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 slices of wholemeal bread, made into breadcrumbs
Put all of the ingredients, except the breadcrumbs, into a food processor and blend for a minute or so.
Scrape the ingredients down from the sides of the bowl and repeat until you have a fairly smooth mixture.
Add just enough breadcrumbs to form a fairly stiff, but not dry, mixture.
Roll into 10-12 balls and flatten slightly.
Chill in the fridge for around half an hour.

Heat 2 tbsp of the sun-dried tomato oil in a large frying pan, on a medium heat.
Cook the falafels for around 4-5 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Serve with pittas, salad and your favourite dip or sauce.

Lower-fat alternative: Brush or spray with vegetable oil and bake for 10-15 minutes at 170C/160C Fan/Gas 3/325F, turning once.

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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Blueberry & Raspberry Smoothie

This is the first recipe we (well actually Miss O!) made in our new Optimum 9400 blender. It's a super-easy, but really tasty, chilled fruit smoothie...

Serves 1
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • ½ cup apple juice
Lightly crush the ice for a few seconds in the blender.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend on medium-high for 45-60 seconds).
Pour and serve.

Smoothie benefits: Rich in  vitamin C, Vitamin K and fibre. 
Top tips: This smoothie is quite sharp-tasting, so younger children may prefer it sweetened with a drop of agave or date syrup.

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