Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers

I am all finished and uni and officially a free agent! Scarily I now need to get on with real life... at least for the summer anyway. So until I go to Costa Rica I hope I will be able to devote much more time to blogging, recipe creating and restaurant exploring. I've already got something lined up for my next post and if I can say so myself it is pretty delicious!

Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers | The Herb Diaries
Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers | The Herb Diaries

Do you ever wonder what to do with all the pulp you have left over from juicing? I have a real problem with food wastage and I'm always on the hunt for new and exciting ways to use up leftovers. Ever since I ate the incredible raw crackers at Health Hub I have wanted to try making my own, and after a bit of internet research it turns out that juice pulp is the answer. By mixing the pulp with a few simple store cupboard staples and slowly dehydrating them in a very low temperature oven you can make your own delicious savoury crackers. They taste great on their own, but as with most things, they are better covered in hummus! So whilst your crackers are drying out, whizz up some Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus... I promise you'll be glad you did.

Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers | The Herb Diaries

Carrot Thyme Crackers

Ingredients:

Juice Pulp of your choice (mine was 2 apples, a knob of ginger and 8 carrots)
1 cup of ground almonds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius. 
Mix all the above ingredients until they form a sort of dough. Add some more ground almonds if the dough is too moist. Use a rolling pin to roll out the mixture onto a lined baking tray. Make sure to roll it as thin as possible otherwise it will take a very long time to dry out. 
Bake the crackers for around two hours, or until dry and crispy. They make take a little more or less time depending on how dry your juice pulp is.
Serve with Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus (recipe below), Moroccan Bean Dip, Minted Broad Bean Hummus, Sundried Tomato Hummus, Creamy Babaganoush or Asian Pea Hummus.

Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers | The Herb Diaries

Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus

Ingredients:

1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tin chickpeas
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp fresh thyme
Water to reach desired consistency
 

Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers | The Herb Diaries

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Peel and quarter the red onion and roast it for 20 minutes with the garlic (still in their skins), balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp of the olive oil.
While the onions cook, blend all the other ingredients to form a smooth and creamy hummus. When the onions are ready, squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin, and add onions and garlic to the hummus in the blender. Pulse a few times until the onion is roughly chopped and mixed throughout the hummus.
Serve with Carrot Thyme Crackers, crudités, sourdough bread, salad, Sweet Potato and Parsnip Wedges or Baked Root Vegetable Crisps.

Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers | The Herb Diaries

Balsamic Caramelised Onion Hummus with Carrot Thyme Crackers | The Herb Diaries

Ginger Apple Raisin Crumbles

I have only just realised that this is the third apple based recipe in a row... Just a weird coincidence - next week there won't be an apple in sight.

Ginger Apple Raisin Crumbles | The Herb Diaries

For me there is nothing more warming, wintery or comforting than a homemade apple crumble. It is a childhood favourite of mine, bring back memories of long cold walks and Sunday lunches followed by the best pudding ever. Stewed apple is my staple comfort food when I feel ill or rundown, and it can only be improved by a delicious layer of crunchy oats on top. Luckily it is one of the easiest recipes ever to make a wholesome version of, and it still tastes every bit as good without all the butter, sugar and processed white flour. You would honestly never guess it is healthy.
You can divide these up to make individual puddings or double the ingredients and make a big crumble. I've been eating them for every meal the last few days - it is a delicious alternative to porridge if you want a hot breakfast on a cold morning.

Ginger Apple Raisin Crumbles | The Herb Diaries
Ginger Apple Raisin Crumbles | The Herb Diaries

Ingredients:
Serves 3

4 apples
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp oats
2 tbsp walnuts
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp chia seeds

Ginger Apple Raisin Crumbles | The Herb Diaries

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Chop and core the apples - you could peel them first if you like but I find you don't notice the skin too much once the apples have stewed.  Heat gently with 1/2 a cup of water for 10-15 minutes until the apples are soft, then stir in the raisins and ginger.
For the crumble, put the nuts and seeds in the blender and pulse a few times till they form a crumb. Melt the coconut oil on a low heat then stir in the maple syrup, oats, nuts and seeds. Divide the stewed apple into 3 ramekins then top with the crumble mixture. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Ginger Apple Raisin Crumbles | The Herb Diaries

3 Simple Rules to Get 2015 Off to a Healthy Start

Happy New Year to you all! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your friends and families and are excited for the year ahead. 
After a bit of overindulgence over the festive period, people are looking to set good intentions for 2015, and I have received a few emails from people asking for the best ways to ease themselves into a more plant-based diet, either because a full turn around can be a bit daunting (and going cold turkey often results in crashing and binging later on) or because the friends or family people live with are a bit skeptical. My family eat very well in the sense that they all love cooking and don't eat anything heavily processed, but for my dad the thought of a meal without meat is quite a scary one! It is so important not to let this put you off, so I have come up with 3 simple rules to get you started on a  healthier, more plant-based 2015, without excluding you from family meal times.

Staying Hydrated | The Herb Diaries

Rule no. 1 - STAY HYDRATED

Staying hydrated is absolutely key to your health and there are so many delicious ways to do it. Make sure you are drinking lots of water, herbal tea, coconut water, freshly made juices and smoothies. If you are one of those people who finds it hard to swig water all day, try infusing a jar of water with mint/cucumber/lemon/blueberries/ginger to make it taste fresh and exciting. You can try any flavour combination depending on what you have in your fruit bowl - my favourite is this Cucumber Basil Infusion. 
Smoothies are a great way to hydrate and they also make a surprisingly filling breakfast, or freshly made juicers if you have access to a juicer. I like to sneak lots of hidden veggies into mine so that I'm feeling healthy before I even leave the house in the morning. My go-to favourites are:
Beetroot Ginger Cucumber Juice
Simple Berry Smoothie
Raspberry Avocado Kale Smoothie
Blackberry Coconut Kale Smoothie
Finally on the subject of drinks, switching to homemade almond milk is a great way to ditch the dairy - it is better for you, the environment and it won't affect what everyone else in your house is eating.

Eat the Rainbow | The Herb Diaries

Rule no. 2 - EAT THE RAINBOW

We've all been told since we were children to eat our vegetables and this rule still applies. Whilst fruit is great, it does contain a lot of natural sugar, so you should aim to be getting your goodness mainly from veg. Greens are undeniably amazing, but try and eat all the colours of the rainbow - red/purple vegetables like beetroots, red peppers, aubergine and red cabbage in order to benefit from cancer fighting anthocyanins and lycopene, yellow/orange vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, sweetcorn and squash are bursting with beta-carotene which your body converts into vitamin A, and good old greens like asparagus, courgette, broccoli and spinach are packed full of chlorophyll, iron and calcium.

Ditch Refined White Flour | The Herb Diaries

Rule no. 3 - DITCH THE REFINED WHITE FLOUR

As much as we all love pizza, pasta and bread, refined white flour is not doing you or your body any favours. Try experimenting this year with more wholesome flour blends, courgette or carrot spirals instead of noodles or pasta, or try making your own raw pizza base. I gave my sisters spiralisers for Christmas and they are both total converts already! You can still make and enjoy your favourite pasta sauces but without the carb overload and inevitable energy slump. For bread, try making it with buckwheat (like this Banana and Maca Bread) or spelt flour (Sundried Tomato, Pumpkin Seed and Spelt Loaf) and if the idea of making a healthy pizza seems far too strenuous, swap your trip to your favourite pizza chain for a lighter, healthier restaurant choice (Paris and London suggestions).

Hope this is helpful and good luck if this is the month for you to start changing your diet. The bottom line is that food should be a real pleasure, don't make strict rules that you are likely to break, and treat yourself from time to time - nobody is perfect!