Tag Archives: breakfast

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Bircher muesli with carrots

This is a riff on my usual bircher muesli recipe, with added carrots and cinnamon. The picture shows almonds in the mix, but feel free to use whatever nuts you have on hand. Walnuts or pecans would be more carrot cakey, but I really like brazil nuts. No cream cheese frosting here, but yogurt makes a delicious and much more nutritious topping. It you want to add extra decadence, try sprinkling with some toasted pecans just before serving.

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Serves 1

  • 50g oats
  • 7g flax seeds
  • 10g raisins
  • 10g nuts
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1 large crisp apple
  • 1 carrot
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt


  1. The night before breakfast, put the oats, flax seeds, raisins and nuts in a bowl and add water until JUST covered.
  2. The next day, grate the carrot and apple. Add to the bowl with a good squeeze of lemon juice and pinch each of cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
  3. Serve with or without toppings – I like mine with yogurt, coconut flakes and sliced banana.

Bircher muesli in situ… have I mentioned that this breakfast travels brilliantly? And it matches autumn!

Here are a few more creative ways to get your oat fix:

I’m submitting this to the #ExtraVeg linkup hosted by Veggie Desserts, Michelle Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Helen. Because mmmm, more veg!!

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie


As previously mentioned, I live in a place called “Orchard Cottage”, so called because there’s an old English orchard right outside of my backyard. Right now, the orchard is in full swing. And while the apples fall, wild blackberries take over the hedgerows, which sees me staining my hands and stockpiling the freezer with fruits to last me through the winter.

Throughout all of this harvesting and autumn worship, this smoothie has become my go-to blend to follow my afternoon Crossfit sessions. The apples and blackberries make the perfect sweet base, while yogurt adds creamy probiotic deliciousness. I also include unflavoured whey protein to amp up the protein levels, though you could leave it out if you wish, and double the yogurt to make it more substantial.

For protein powder, I recommend Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein made from rBHG hormone free milk from organically reared cows. Also, no additives, flavourings or fillers. And it blends like a dream.

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie


  • 1 apple, cored and chopped (a banana also works)
  • a handful of blackberries, ideally frozen (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, or a combination of berries, also work)
  • 150g yogurt
  • 15g unflavoured whey protein (I use Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein)
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional, adds fiber and makes it thicker)
  • 1 tsp flax seed (optional, also adds fiber and thickness)


  1. Put everything in your blender and blend until smooth, about 20 seconds. (If you’re using psyllium husk, I usually wait a minute or two and give it another quick blender, as the psyllium husk will have absorbed some of the liquid in the smoothie, and an extra blend will make it all smoother.)
  2. Serve in a cup (or bowl!) with your favorite garnishes (I like grated apple, muesli, and a sprinkle of spirulina powder, liberally applied and then reapplied as I eat it!).

Nutrition: 234 Calories | 10g Carbs | 0.5g Fat | 22g Protein

This was made with my Optimum 9200 Power Blender which has a super-handy 20-second timer setting which I use to make this. I hit the button once, clean up, make some tea, then hit it again and out comes a perfect yogurt and berry smoothie.

Recipe Review: Chia Pudding

Earl Grey Chia Pudding with Marmalade

Today my good friend Emily of sunroseclear.com is guest-posting on the chia pudding food craze. On Emily’s last visit (Imbolc 2015!), I gave her some top quality chia seeds from Naturya and sent her on a mission to experiment with chia pudding and report back on her results. Is it really worth all the hype?  

Monica and I are fashionably late to the chia party. Chia has been “so hot right now” for awhile actually, and Pinterest has long been trying to convince me of its virtues. When and why did our chia ambitions begin? My memory is fuzzy on this point (too much sloe gin?), but I think we started talking about chia as an option for smoothie enhancements. We both have a smoothie every day, and we both need more protein in our diet. So, why not? Chia ho! This is a short account of my early chia experiments:

1. Vanilla Chia Pudding

Vanilla Blueberry Chia Pudding

For my first chia pudding I looked to Choosing Raw for a basic recipe and used her 3 tbsp chia : 1 cup liquid as my pudding standard. For me this made enough for breakfast and an afternoon snack. Chia pudding is filling!

I found the basic chia, almond milk, vanilla, and honey pretty boring, even with blueberries on top. The texture is like tapioca pudding, which is not my favorite thing…but eventually I convinced myself they’re like the world’s smallest tea bubbles. That helped, but…onward!

2. Earl Grey Tea Chia Pudding

Earl Grey Chia Pudding with Marmalade

Pudding! Earl Grey! Cold! If you can use any liquid for chia pudding, why wouldn’t you use Earl Grey tea? This one went through a few test batches, and the ratio of milk to tea is a matter of taste, but here’s what I came up with:

Just mix it all up in a glass or jar and let it set for about 3 hours or overnight. I really squeezed the tea bag into my glass – and then used it again for tea! Sadly, while pretty, the orange marmalade garnish was too overwhelming a flavor.

3. Chia: Smoothie Ingredient

Strawberry Kiwi Beetroot Carrot Smoothie

As Monica has pointed out in her ingenious smoothie book (which I use all the time, seriously, she isn’t making me say this), bananas are a great smoothie thickener but also kind of a sugar bomb. Most of my daily smoothies still have a smidge of banana, but for a week I tried replacing it with chia. It definitely does the trick, especially if you let the smoothie sit for a few minutes. This is probably how I will use chia most often. More protein, calcium, and fiber for me!

4. Chia Smoothie Pudding

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chia Smoothie

I know I’m not the first to think of it, but making a chia pudding using a smoothie as your liquid is pretty great. It completely replaced the simple pudding of my affections. You still get the tapioca texture from the chia, but with lots of healthy fruit and veg – and no additional sweeteners.

That said, it also has dessert potential. I made a Peanut Butter and Jelly Chia Pudding from a peanut butter, banana, oatmeal, and almond milk smoothie. Chill for a few hours and swirl some strawberry jam through. A nice dessert version of the sandwich classic.

Verdict: I’ll certainly keep adding chia to my morning smoothies for the nutrition boost and possibly explore some other chia desserts.

Monica’s Notes on Nutrition: I felt compelled to add some commentary on the nutritional value of Chia Pudding. As an example, a chia pudding made with 3 Tbsp chia, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 2 tsp honey and 1/2 cup of blueberries has 333 Calories, 19g fat, 18g fiber, 42g carbs and 11g Protein. Compare this to, say, 50g of porridge with the same amount of almond milk, honey and blueberries: 308 Calories, 7.5g fat, 8g fiber, 58g carbs, 7.8g Protein. Those who are fat-phobic might scoff at the chia pudding, where ~50% of the calories come from fat. Chia has been praised as being a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, but research shows that the body isn’t very good at converting these types of plant-based omega-3s into something the body can be used. Still, they are a source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals so they’re not going to do you any harm. I like how Katie Trant (nutritionist and author of the Muffin Myth blog) puts it in her well-researched article Chia Seeds: Healthy or Hype? – “Chia seeds are without question very healthy, but they’re not a miracle.” And probably not even life-changing.

Follow Emily’s chia antics – among other things – on Instagram, Twitter and her blog. And look out for more chia experiments to come: chia trifles, chia parfaits, chia jam… what else? Share your chia inspiration in the comments!

Braised Eggs with Potato, Onion, Sumac & Tahini

Braised eggs with potato, tahini, yoghurt and sumac

Last weekend I hosted a Mexican dinner party here at Orchard Cottage. I called it Tamale 2.0 as it was a follow up to my first Tamale party last Easter. But this was more than a party; this was a Tamale Sleepover. On Friday night we feasted on all manners of Mexican goodies, from homemade corn chips and guacamole to the best black beans ever, salsa macha to go with flatbread and Homewood’s pickled ewe cheese, salads and, of course, the main event: butternut squash tamales with mole sauce, all the while enjoying some amazing beer and wine. We even had queso fresco thanks to Gringa Dairy and proper corn tortillas from the Cool Chile Company (it’s a joy and a relief that Mexican ingredients are becoming easier and easier to buy in the UK).

But as much as the Mexican feast was the main event, I found equal bliss in the “morning after”. A good handful of party-goers stayed the night and for breakfast I served up a few of my specialties:  a healthy vegan breakfast salad, of course, one of my recent favourite combos with cucumber, tomato, red onion, carrots, tahini, lemon juice and lots of Tim Clinch‘s dukkah. Plus sourdough bread, some of Sharon’s exquisite homemade hummus and moutabal, and the centrepiece: braised eggs with potato, onion, sumac and tahini.

Hoot-&-holler-worthy braised eggs learnt from @ottolenghi at #vegcs. Can't think of any other dish I've made that's been so well received. New signature breakfast at the OC? http://m.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jan/15/eggs-tomato-spinach-yoghurt-reci

I learned how to make this dish on Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookery class at The Vegetarian Cookery School last year; he made braised eggs for breakfast while talking us through the class and imparting a few nuggets of wisdom. Two memorable quotes that I’ll never forget: “You can never have too many fresh herbs” and “I’m fortunate to be a part of the vegetarian world without having to suffer the consequences of actually being a vegetarian myself.” (Priceless!)

Braised eggs with potato, tahini, yoghurt and sumac Braised eggs with potato, tahini, yoghurt and sumac

Eggs and potatoes are common companions but this dish brought them together in a way I’d never experienced: the potatoes get cooked with lots of onion and sumac, the eggs get cooked on top of the potatoes, and the whole thing is served with lots of tahini, greek yogurt, grilled tomatoes and chopped coriander (aka cilantro).

Braised eggs with potato, tahini, yoghurt and sumac

I’ve done simpler variations on this concept many time since, using spinach or chard instead of potatoes, and often skipping the tahini (which seems like sacrilege now). It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I made the recipe properly for Karen and Kanna: then Airbnb guests, now two people who feel very much like old friends. It had been a while since I’d actually eaten this dish, and felt like I was taking a real breakfast risk (poached eggs on toast is so much more reliable). But the hooting and hollering that resulted from this breakfast told me I’d struck guest-breakfast-gold (and for Karen, a life-changing obsession with tahini).

Tahini moment: my #airbnb guest is really goin for it on his braised eggs.

One of the great things about this breakfast is that it scales extremely well. It also is extremely good hangover food. So for post-tamale breakfast, I decided to break out the tahini jar and see how the braised eggs went down with a wider audience. They were still a hit, and we discovered two combo that work especially well: (1) tahini and dukkah and (2) yoghurt and salsa macha. You could do all four at the same time, but one could argue that’s a little over the top (as if the rest of Tamale 2.0, wasn’t?)

It’s a very special thing to be responsible for one person’s tahini obsession, but it’s even more special knowing that you’ve created memories for people that are good enough to write about, and so I was super chuffed to read about Tamale 2.0 across the interwebs after the event: see Karen’s A Flock of Foodies, Sharon’s Tamale 2.0 with Monica et al and Fiona’s Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale on Matching Food and Wine. Colour me humbled. Roll on Tamale 3.0!

In the meantime, here’s how to make those kick-ass braised eggs – be prepared to start your first ever tahini budget.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Braised Eggs with Potato, Tahini, Yogurt & Sumac
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2

Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and The Vegetarian Cookery School.
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 200g baby potatoes, cut into 5mm thick slices
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ Tbsp sumac
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • tahini
  • Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, potatoes, chilli, sumac and some salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely soft and the potatoes are well and truly cooked. Stir in the sugar, taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up the grill /broiler and grill the tomatoes on the vine until they are charred (you can also do this on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet on high heat).
  3. When the potatoes are cooked, spread them evenly over the base of the pan, then carefully break the eggs on top. Cover and cook until the egg whites are almost set. Drizzle a little tahini on top, avoiding the yolks, cover again and cook for another couple minutes until the egg whites are set (cook longer if you don’t want runny yolks).
  4. Sprinkle with coriander, place the tomatoes on top and bring to the table in the pan. Serve with extra tahini and Greek yogurt.


The scene at the Orchard Cottage #Airbnb this morning. Where it's always a fiesta.

Carrot and Courgette “Pasta” with Poached Egg


Ok, it’s not pasta. It’s peelings of carrots and courgette given the pasta treatment. I mostly followed this recipe for Zucchini “Pasta”, which is basically a raw mixture of zucchini, tomato, basil, garlic, oil and walnuts. I added carrots, and also cooked the garlic in the olive oil, then added the zucchini and carrots very briefly. I used pine nuts instead of walnuts, and added a poached egg and an avocado (because that seems to be what I do).

Would make again. Next time, I’d like to try the raw version with walnuts.

Recipe: Zucchini “Pasta”

Winter Vegetable Breakfast Salad

Image created with Snapseed

I thought I’d start sharing my vegan breakfasts as I kick things up for the Healthy Vegan Breakfast Book. Today’s required some creativity with the veg box because I’m down to the dregs: a few carrots, half a swede (aka rutabaga to my American friends), a few broccoli florets, a head of cauliflower and a few lingering leaves of Batavia lettuce. Actually when I type it out like that it sounds like a lot of food, but I assure you the fridge looked sadly bare!

  • Cooked quinoa (leftovers)
  • Julienned carrot
  • Julienned  swede (my new favourite use for swede?)
  • Red onion
  • Broccoli, diced into small florets
  • Currants soaked in boiling water for ~10 minutes
  • Batavia lettuce
  • Crushed red chilli flakes
  • A pinch of ground cumin
  • Tahini (~ 1 Tbsp) mixed with lemon juice (~ 1/4 lemon) and enough water to make a creamy dressing
  • Salt and pepper

This takes inspiration from American recipes I’ve seen for broccoli raisin salad, and this recipe for raw cauliflower “couscous” that really intrigues me and is the likely fate of the aforementioned cauliflower.

Waldorf-Inspired Breakfast Salad

Heeding the call of the #vegan #breakfast #salad. Apple, celery, carrot, red onion, little gems, walnuts, chilli, mustard vinaigrette.

This has been breakfast the last few days, a sort of glorified vegan version of the classic Waldorf salad, inspired by this season’s apple harvest and a few stalks of celery lurking in my fridge. You could bulk this out with added quinoa, bulgar wheat, maybe a few raisins, or even a blob of yogurt, but I found this wasn’t necessary. As is, this was my idea of perfect breakfast: delicious food that satisfies without over-filling. Major feel-good factor here.

For one serving:

  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • a few thin slices of red onion
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 10g walnuts
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • a few little gem lettuce leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sliced green chilli (optional)
  • 2 tsp dijon-based vinaigrette (mine was the House Dressing recipe from Arthur Potts Dawson’s Eat Your Veg, but any mustard-based dressing would do – I love this honey mustard dressing recipe)

Mix it all together and serve.

Minted Pea and Watercress Soup

Pea and Watercress Soup with Boiled Egg

The watercress returns, because let’s face it, there are only so many watercress and apple smoothies one can drink. The rest went into this soup, adapted from this recipe on Channel 4: Minted Pea and Watercress Soup.

I used stock in place of soy milk, and didn’t bother straining out any solids: all hail the Vitamix and its ability to puree even the toughest of pea membranes and watercress stems into the finest puree. The soup is vegan, until you add the boiled egg, which makes it altogether awesome (I’m sure toasted sourdough croutons would also work a treat). On a whim, I also added some mixed seeds I toasted in a dry pan then tossed with a little soy sauce. This might be my new favourite soup garnish!

Pea and watercress soup with boiled egg and tamar-toasted seeds.

I particularly enjoyed this soup for breakfast, and as we move into winter, I expect to see more savoury breakfasts arrive in soup form.

Recipe: Minted Pea and Watercress Soup

Mardi’s Savoury Clafoutis


I’m not sure if you’ve notice but I’ve been keeping up a little Posterous micro-blog called SmarterFitter Daily containing quick pics and notes about the foods I eat in my ongoing effort to feel awesome. Earlier this year, Posterous was acquired by Twitter, and over time Posterous has become more and more unreliable. So much so that I’ve decided to start doing these “Daily” posts (not necessarily posted daily!) here on my main blog. Welcome to a window on the world of my daily eats!

My first experience of clafoutis was a sweet peach clafoutis made by Kate Hill at the Natural Light Natural Food Workshop in Gascony earlier this summer (see My Food Story From Gascony).  The recipe was inspired by fellow-student Mardi from Eat Live Travel Write who was on a blog-related peach mission in which clafoutis was the end result.

What is clafoutis? My Mac’s Dictionary.app says: “a tart made of fruit, typically cherries, baked in a sweet batter.” Or in this case, think peaches baked in a sweet eggy custard. It’s pretty yummy and appeals to my love of both eggs and fruit-based desserts.

This week, Mardi has upped the clafoutis ante and turned the tables on this conventionally sweet dish. Enter her savoury ratatouille clafoutis. Once I saw this I knew I had to make it. The custard batter includes polenta, which settles to the bottom of the ramekin in a crust-like effect that I really enjoyed. Here’s the comment I left for Mardi:

“I made your recipe this afternoon with some leftover grilled vegetables (red peppers, green beans, onion and sweetcorn, plus a little raw tomato and fresh basil tossed into the mix). Mr. Neil is correct in that the polenta does pool at the bottom, but I LOVED this effect! I felt like I was eating a polenta pie – and the polenta dust on the edges [of the ramekins] gets nice and brown and is yummy when scraped off the sides of the ramekin. Also, the polenta worked VERY nicely with the sweetcorn. If anything I felt this could have used more salt (my fault entirely). This was very easy and infinitely adaptable (I’m thinking rosemary needs to be involved next time). Will make again, and I look forward to enjoying my leftover clafoutis for breakfast tomorrow.”

Indeed I did enjoy my leftover clafoutis today, and it was badass. Arguably even better the next day?

Visit Mardi’s recipe: ratatouille clafoutis.

Savoury clafoutis in progress.

Breakfast Club: Leftovers for the Win

Poached Egg with Fagioli All Uccelletto

“Breakfast Club: Because breakfast should be more interesting than tea and toast or coffee and cereal.”

If you follow me on Twitter, Flickr or SmarterFitter Daily then you know I’m all about awesome breakfasts. People have wondered how I have so much time for some of my early morning creations. My answer: leftovers. I’m always turning leftovers into breakfasts. Add a poached egg here, or a tortilla there, and boom: last night’s dinner become an easy but wonderful breakfast.

So why am I talking breakfast leftovers? This month I am hosting the Breakfast Club for my friend Helen at Fuss Free Flavours. The theme for this month is – you guessed it – LEFTOVERS. I want to hear all about your amazing ideas for turning leftovers into awesome breakfasts.

Breakfast Club logo

To kick things off, here’s a few of my ideas for turning leftovers into great breakfasts:

  • Take leftover lentils, chilli, or any kind of bean dish and add a poached egg on top. Fagioli all Uccelletto (pictured above) is perfect for this. Add a bit of good crusty bread and you really have it made.
  • Poached eggs also work nicely on any leftover vegetables, particularly roasted vegetables or, my current favourite, braised carrots.

Braised carrots with cumin, broad bean tops and poached egg. #dinner

  • When I’m cooking a lunch or dinner that involves sauteed veggies, I always sauté extras and use this in the morning for a quick omelet, or added to scrambled eggs (or tofu, or fish) for breakfast tacos. Case in point: vegan breakfast tacos, awesome with good salsa and avocado.

Vegan Breakfast Taco

  • Indian food is a favourite, particularly dal, to which you can easily add whatever veggie you like while you’re heating up the veggie. I like to think of this as savoury breakfast porridge. This yellow pea dal is one of my favourites for this purpose, and it’s a real treat if I have chapattis and pickles on hand to go with it.

Yellow Pea Dahl

  • Lately I’m cuckoo for Kadhi, a spicy, yogurt-based soup that’s super adaptable to any and all matter of additions – be it vegetables, rice, potatoes, paneer, and so on. The yogurt factor makes it feel especially breakfast-like. That and its inherent yumminess.

Kadhi with Pak Choi

  • Keep boiled potatoes around. They’re super handy, sauteed with onions and eggs (or tofu!) for a quick breakfast hash.
  • I also like to use leftover boiled potatoes and fish for a quick breakfast salad.

Salad with Sea Trout, Potatos and Argan Oil

  • Another recent favourite is using leftover rice or other grain to make a quick salad with fruits, nuts, herbs and anything else I feel like.

Basmati Rice Salad with Olives & Raisins

Roast Butternut & Cranberry Salad with Bulgar

For me, one of the keys to making leftovers exciting is to serve them a bit differently than I did for dinner, so as to create a whole new meal rather than something that sounds as boring as “leftovers”. So if I had chilli the night before with cornbread, I’ll have it in the morning with tortilla and avocado. Or if I had grilled fish and boiled potatoes for dinner, I’ll put the leftovers in a salad to create an entirely different dish.

As you can see, the leftover thing does tend to be best suited for savoury breakfasts. But you can sweeten the deal with the dessert course. For example, these grilled peaches, served with panna cotta for dessert this weekend, were also terrific in the morning with yogurt and muesli.

Grilling peaches

Please let the world know of your breakfast leftover ideas by blogging about your recipes and sharing them with the Breakfast Club.

Here are a few rules:

  • Please indicate in your post that it is a Breakfast Club event, and add a link to the main Breakfast Club page.
  • All entrants must (1) link to this post on SmarterFitter, (2) link to Helen’s Breakfast Club at Fuss Free Flavours and (3) include the Breakfast Club logo (click here to download).
  • Entries can be sent to other events but must include the links detailed above.
  • Recipes that you have blogged before are fine, but they must be republished and the logo and links above added.
  • If you use Twitter please use #blogbreakfastclub and tweet your entry.
  • Be mindful of copyright if using recipes which are not your own.
  • Closing date will be 30th June and I shall post the roundup shortly after that.

When you have written your post and have linked to it as mentioned above, please add your post below so everyone can see your recipes. I look forward to being inspired by your clever ideas for breakfast leftovers.