I enjoyed the luxury of plenty of free-time this summer after my exams, and spent a lot of it in two of my favourite places- the kitchen and the garden!

Of course it’s pretty clear that I love cooking. But I do love being outside too and getting my hands covered in soil rather than flour for a change.  I get a real thrill out of seeing something grow from virtually nothing and get pretty excited about the appearance of a new courgette or a tomato turning red.  The resulting meals consisting almost entirely of home-grown vegetables are a lovely bonus.

I promised I would share some pictures of my garden, but, with the whirlwind of Vegan MoFo, didn’t get to doing so before it all got started.  I thought I’d take the opportunity to post them now it’s all over and while we’re still enjoying the novelty of autumn vegetables, not yet pining after the long-gone summer!


Sweet peas are the scent of summer! There was always a little vase of them on the kitchen table.





The flowers are my Mum’s domain. I try my best to learn all their names, but somehow always forget them… Our roses are especially beautiful.


The piles of green beans I was picking daily got bigger and bigger and admittedly we struggled to stay on top of them.


We actually grew these borlotti beans last year but they were too pretty not to share. We didn’t end up with a huge amount and I don’t really know how to use them fresh like this so we didn’t sow any more seeds this year. GardenTomatoes! What would summer be without them? We grew 3 varieties- my favourite were these little cherry tomatoes- sakura and orange paruche. They were like  sweets, and, warm off the vine were heavenly. We had so many that I ended up making a few batches of slow-roasted tomatoes with them as well.GardenI think every gardener experiences a case of courgette fatigue by the end of summer. They just don’t stop producing! I got a little cross that the muntjac deer kept sneaking up at night and chomping them, but after a while I was actually grateful for fewer courgettes to deal with!GardenPlenty of salad leaves. I love these crunchy little gem lettuces which we grow every year.GardenIt was fantastic to have our own beetroot, even if we didn’t have an awful lot. I think I mostly roasted them in tin foil and then ate them in salads. Though I’m sure I made my favourite tahini beetroot recipe with them, and there was Gena’s delicious beetroot-hemp granola too.

GardenWe were given the seeds for these squash so never really knew what variety they were. They seemed to be a hybrid summer/winter squash though. They had thick skins but the flesh was softer than most winter squash. It was fun to see them changing colour- first the stripes appeared and then they went yellow!


We discovered these little critters up near the house, trapped under a grate. Mr Frog……


…and Mr Toad! We put them in a bucket and took them down to the water.


There were so many butterflies this summer! They fly too quickly to take photos of though but I thought this spiky caterpillar was rather fun. (Update: Apparently he would have grown into a “Tussock moth” )


We don’t grow fruit usually (although there are plans to try some soft fruit next year apparently) but did try out these this year.

Do you know what it is? It’s a physalis/cape gooseberry/Inca berry. There are various names for them and I’d only seen them before as a garnish on dessert plates. Sadly they never ripened, even in the greenhouse and with all the sunshine we had.


This little plum tree was a new addition this year. We did really well from it and got a lot of fruit, despite its size. Most of these were eaten fresh but, combined with a neighbour’s fruit they also got turned into my Maple-Oat Crumble.


We do have wild blackberries galore . I picked several batches of them to go in the freezer to be turned into apple and blackberry compote, crumbles and smoothies. There are still some in there from 2012 though!


Alfie likes them too! We both enjoyed them out on our walks.


A few teeny-tiny wild strawberries were discovered too. These were very sweet-tasting as well as cute.


If only! Perhaps I was making up for the fact that we can’t grow citrus or bananas here in crocheting my own!

Did you grow your own vegetables this year? What summer vegetable are you going to miss most in the autumn/winter? Hopefully you’re not missing it already!

I’ll be back with a foodie post tomorrow!

Baked Beetroot Falafel


Entertaining. It used to be something I’d avoid doing. Far too much anxiety involved. Planning the perfect spread to try and please everyone I’d constantly be worrying: what if my guests didn’t like the food? What if I was bad company? What if.. ? Fortunately I’ve mellowed a little recently and entertaining nowadays is a different matter.

I get excited about having people over and love the planning and preparations that go into cooking up a big feast. All the same, sometimes it’s nice to have friends round more spontaneously and not spend weeks poring over recipes for an elaborate menu, simply embracing the company as what’s important (alongside a few light bites…).

I’m moving into my own place mid September, a cosy little flat, and am very much looking forward to playing hostess!

Baked Beetroot Falafel

Today’s recipe is the ideal party appetizer and takes hardly any time to put together so you can whip it up quickly if you decide last minute to have friends over.

Falafel is familiar to almost everyone so it’s not intimidating “vegan” food, and the shocking pink of these ones are sure to impress. I baked them too which is obviously a much healthier choice than frying, without any compromise in taste in my opinion.

During the half an hour that they’re doing their thing in the oven you can mix up a little tahini dipping sauce for a little extra yum with time to spare to spruce up your place too!

Baked Beetroot Falafel

Baked Beetroot Falafel
Yields 12
Write a review
  1. 1 C Shredded beetroot
  2. 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1/2 Small onion
  4. 1 tsp Ground cumin
  5. 1 tsp Ground coriander
  6. 1/2 tsp Salt
  7. Black pepper
  8. 1 1/2 C Cooked chickpeas/1 can
  9. 3/4 C Roughly chopped fresh parsley and coriander (I used equal quantities of each)
  10. 2 tsp Olive oil
  11. 3 Tbsp Chickpea flour
Tahini-Lemon Sauce
  1. 4 Tbsp Tahini
  2. 3 Tbsp Lemon juice
  3. 1 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  4. 1/4 tsp Salt
  5. 1 Tbsp Agave nectar
  6. 1-2 Tbsp Water
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
For the falafel
  1. I used the grater attachment on my food processor for the beetroot to speed things along even further but you can grate by hand if you don’t have such a thing. Remove beetroot from the food processor into a bowl.
  2. Pulse minced garlic, onion, spices and salt in the food processor until coarsely chopped. Add in chickpeas and herbs and pulse again, being careful not to process too much, as you want a little texture. Add shredded beetroot and pulse just once or twice to combine. Finally stir in the olive oil and chickpea flour. If your mixture is still a little wet then add another tablespoon of chickpea flour.
  3. Shape into golf-ball size balls, lay on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping half-way, or until lightly brown and crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature with tahini dipping sauce.
  1. Whisk all ingredients, up to and excluding water, until you have a smooth, thick paste, then gradually add water until it reaches your desired consistency- I like it a little thicker for a dip, a little thinner for a salad dressing. Season with lots of black pepper and chopped fresh parsley.
  1. I’d suggest making a double batch as these things are addictive, and if you’ve got leftovers they’re great for lunch over a big salad, drizzled with extra sauce.
Coconut and Berries http://www.coconutandberries.com/
Do you like entertaining? What do you like to serve when you don’t have time to plan far ahead?

Hope you try these Baked Beetroot Falafel for your next get-together!

If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, Please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: I’m on FacebookPinterest, Instagram (@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter!

Follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly

Summer Rolls (+ Sprouting)

Summer Rolls

(If you follow me on Instagram (@coconutandberries) or on Facebook, you might have had a little sneak preview of these beauties. If not, let’s connect! )

I associate “spring rolls” with the appetizer you find in Chinese restaurants. A greasy, fried pastry of sorts with some indistinguishable vegetable filling. Not something I want to be eating anyway. I know the uncooked, cold rolls are sometimes called “spring rolls” too, but I’m sticking with “summer rolls” for mine so they have none of those connotations.  Besides, they’re so colourful that they’re perfectly summery!

Summer Rolls (Packed with good stuff) + Sprouting

I’m a huge fan of beans and legumes and another way to enjoy them is sprouted! You can sprout almost any seed, legume or grain and eat them raw. They’re incredibly healthy- packed with fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and beneficial enzymes, not to mention they taste delicious. You might be a little intimidated by the process but I promise it’s so easy and you don’t need any fancy equipment. Here’s a great guide, including a video.

It’s pretty fun watching the little tails grow and the sprouts come alive! If you don’t have a garden or are too impatient to grow vegetables, sprouting is perfect for you, as within a couple of days your sprouts will be ready to eat.

You can eat them any way you like- add them to salads, make raw hummus from sprouted chickpeas. Sprouted grains like buckwheat and quinoa are delicious for breakfast too, eaten like cereal with non-dairy milk and fruit.

Lentil Sprouts (Sprouting)

I opted for lentil sprouts this time as I had a nearly-finished bag of green lentils I wanted to use up. They added the perfect crunch and boost of nutrients to my summer rolls.

Fruit, Veggies + Sprouts for Summer Rolls

Mise-en-place is important when making your rolls. It makes life much easier if all your ingredients are ready before you get going. Let your imagination be your guide with your choice of fillings. Fresh herbs are not optional in my opinion though as they really bring these to life. As you can see from the picture below, I changed my mind at the last minute and added some sliced avocado for a nice texture contrast.

Summer Rolls (Packed with good stuff) + Sprouting

The Best Summer Rolls:

3/4C Shredded carrot
3/4 Shredded beetroot
1/4C Fresh coriander (leaves only)
1/2C Lentil sprouts
1/2 Medium mango, thinly sliced
1/2 Small avocado
Rice Paper Wrappers (I got mine from a local Asian store but you should be able to find them in health-food stores and supermarkets too)

Peanut-Ginger Sauce

This is a variation on the sauce I used for my 10-minute Raw Peanut Noodles, but a mini batch, just enough for these rolls.

1T Peanut Butter
1T Non-dairy milk
1/2t Tamari
1/2t Lemon/lime juice
1/2t Agave nectar
1/2t Grated fresh ginger
Dash of cayenne

As mentioned, have all your filling ingredients chopped and prepped.

Fill a large shallow dish with warm water (bath temperature). Dip one rice paper wrapper in the water and leave a few seconds to soften it. Rice paper rolls vary hugely in size and thickness but don’t leave it in there too long. It should still be slightly firm because when you lay it out it will continue to absorb the water on its surface. Lay wrapper carefully on a flat surface, being careful not to get it stuck to itself (It might take a couple of tries before you get the hang of it- they are very delicate).

Layer your fillings down the centre of the rice paper circle, make sure you’ve got a bit of everything in there. Add a little sriracha and a squeeze of lime if you like. Fold the ends over the filling and then tightly roll the sides around to create a parcel.

Repeat until all your fillings are used up.

Whisk together ingredients for sauce and serve alongside rolls for dipping.

(Makes 4 large Rolls/Serves 1)

It’s like a salad in held-held form! These make a great packed lunch as they travel well but don’t keep them in the fridge for more than a few hours as the wrappers tend to harden up.

Summer Rolls (Packed with good stuff) + Sprouting

Have you tried sprouting or making spring/summer rolls before?

What are your favourite sprouts?

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar, Tahini Beetroot

Wheatberry Salad with Chickpeas + Za'atar

I’ve already talked about my love for Middle-Eastern flavours on the blog and I’m featuring them again today in another couple of recipes.

Dried pulses, fresh produce, herbs and spices, olive oil, lemon, garlic and grains are all characteristic ingredients in dishes from that part of the world. You can probably see why I’m drawn to them, given how naturally vegan-friendly they are, not to mention packed with flavour.

Za’atar is a herb and spice blend widely-used in the Middle-East.  Its specifics vary according to region but it usually includes toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac. It’s used as a seasoning for grilled vegetables, salads, sprinkled on top of hummus and mixed with olive oil and spread on flatbread, known as manakeesh.

I brought a bag of freshly ground sumac home  from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul last year and am always on the lookout for new ways to use this tangy, lemony spice. So far I’ve especially enjoyed it rubbed onto roasted potatoes, a light sprinkle on fattoush (cucumber, tomato, herb + pita salad), and now in this spice blend.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar

I love all the different textures in this salad, with the chewy wheat berries, tender chickpeas, melt-in-the-mouth roast aubergine and juicy fresh tomatoes. The combination made it satisfying enough for a supper salad, alongside my delicious tahini beetroot.Grain and bean salads hold up well for a while in the fridge too so this salad would be perfect to keep on hand for quick lunches throughout the week.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar

Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

1 1/2C Cooked chickpeas/ 1 Can chickpeas
1/2C Wheatberries OR Farro OR Spelt berries
1 Large aubergine, diced into 1” chunks
1 T Olive oil, 1/2 t cumin seeds, 1/2 t sumac
1 C Cherry tomatoes, halved
2T Lemon juice
1T Olive oil
Salt + Pepper
Large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1-2T Za’atar spice blend

Za’atar *

1T Toasted sesame seeds (toast in dry pan over medium heat, tossing occasionally, approx 5 minutes or until fragrant)
1T Sumac
1/2 T Dried thyme
1/4 T Ground cumin

* I just made a small amount, enough for this recipe and to rub on a few flatbreads but I recommend doubling the recipe as it’s nice to have prepared for other dishes.

Cook your wheat berries according to the package instructions. I used semi-pearled so they only took 30 minutes but they can take up to an hour. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Toss the aubergine chunks with 1T oil, sumac and cumin seeds, spread in an even layer on a baking tray and roast at 200C/400F for 20-30 minutes until brown and very soft.

In a bowl combine wheat berries, chickpeas, warm roasted aubergine and halved cherry tomatoes. Mix in remaining olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper. Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley and za’atar seasoning to taste. Toss again and serve.

Serves 3-4

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar, Tahini Beetroot

The tahini beetroot I made to go with the salad is a repeat recipe in my kitchen. Everyone who tries it loves the stuff and it’s a great accompaniment to all sorts of dishes, not just those with Middle Eastern flavours.

I cut the beetroot in a different way each time I make it but I think I’ve finally decided that julienned (as in the below picture) is the way to go-  greater surface area allowing for maximum sauce coverage.

I originally found the recipe at The Kitchn but now know it off the top of my head.

Tahini Beetroot:

3-4 Small to medium beetroot, roasted and peeled (Scrub beetroot, slice off greens, wrap loosely in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast at 350C for approx 1 hour, or until the beetroot fall off a knife easily when pierced. Leave to cool and skin should rub off easily)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t Sea salt
2T Tahini
1 1/2T Lemon juice
2-4 T Water

Slice cooled beetroot into thick matchsticks (or your preferred shape)

Use pestle and mortar to grind garlic and salt into a smooth paste. Add tahini and lemon and stir until homogeneous. It will separate initially but keep stirring and it will smooth out. Thin with water to desired thickness.

Combine sauce with beetroot in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It’s best left an hour or 2 to sit so the sauce soaks in.

Serve with the above salad or with a selection of mezze.

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

I’ve been to Istanbul for a short visit but would love to see more of that part of the world- beautiful architecture,  fascinating culture…and of course delicious food!

Middle-Eastern cuisine has been a favourite of mine for some time. If you ever find yourself in Oxford I highly recommend a meal at Al Shami. It’s a great Lebanese place, probably my favourite Oxford restaurant, and although not exclusively vegetarian, there’s a huge selection of vegan mezze on offer. Whenever we go we order as many dishes as we can squeeze onto the table and all share, that way we can try lots of different things. (N.b. I’ve now posted a review of the restaurant here)

Here’s my attempt to bring a little of the Middle-East into my own kitchen. My creations are no doubt far from authentic, but still tasty. I stumbled across a recipe for nut kofta kebabs over at Bit of the Good Stuff and they became the starting point for this meal, with just a bit of adaptation.

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

To serve along with the kofte I went for a sweet spiced beetroot carrot salad, lemony courgettes, herbed wholegrain couscous and mint tzatziki- a tasty little feast.

Nut Kofte:

(Adapted from Bit of the Good Stuff)

1-2T Rapeseed oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 t Ground cumin
1t Ground coriander
1T Peanut butter
1-2t Sriracha hot sauce
salt + pepper
425g / 14oz Can Borlotti beans, rinsed + drained
1C Almond meal (whole almonds finely ground in a food processor)
1/2C Finely chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts + walnuts)
1/2-3/4C Wholemeal breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Sauté onion in oil over medium heat for a few minutes until soft and fragrant, add garlic, spices, peanut butter and sriracha and and continue cooking another couple of minutes. Season to taste.

Pulse beans in food processor until mostly smooth, scrape into a bowl and add onion mixture, ground and chopped nuts, breadcrumbs as needed until you get a thick consistency, slightly sticky and not crumbly.

If you’ve got time stick the bowl in the fridge for an hour to firm up and help you shape the kofte. Using damp fingers shape the mixture into approx 14 ping-pong size balls. Lay on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until turning brown and crispy, flip kofte half-way through cooking time.

(Makes 14- Serves 4)

Nut Kofte, Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad + Tzatziki

This salad is a keeper, one I can see going well with a whole variety of dishes. It’s delicately spiced and a little tangy with tasty bursts of sweetness from the golden raisins in every mouthful.

Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad:

2-3C Grated Carrots
1-2C Grated Beetroot (I used a food processor to save time, although I think done by hand the shreds are a little nicer)
1/2C Golden Raisins or Currants
1/4t Sweet Paprika
1/4t Ground Cumin
1/4t Ground Cinnamon
Dash Cayenne
Salt + Pepper
2 1/2T Lemon Juice
2t Agave syrup
Fresh mint to garnish

Add the grated carrot and beetroot to a large bowl, along with the raisins. In a small bowl combine spices and seasoning and whisk in lemon and agave. Pour dressing over the salad and toss well. Leave to sit, covered, in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving for the best flavour. Garnish with mint.

I thought it would be nice to have something creamy and cooling to go with the slightly spiced dishes and my mint raita went perfectly here. I tried a similar recipe from “Veganomicon” a short while ago, which is a little different, using oregano + dill, but also very tasty. I liked the mint with this meal though.

This Recipe is being shared at Raw Food Thursdays
Cucumber Mint Raita:

1/4C Cashews, soaked for an hour, drained and rinsed
1c Cucumber, peeled + diced
2t Agave nectar
1t Apple cider vinegar
1/2 Clove garlic
1/2t Ground cumin
1/2t Salt
1t Lime juice
Dash of cayenne
1/4C Fresh mint, loosely packed

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender (except fresh mint), until smooth. Pulse in mint, leaving little flecks of green.

What’s your favourite cuisine? Although Middle-Eastern is one of mine I love trying dishes from all over the world- Indian, European, Asian, American…English is in fact one of the few I’m not a huge fan of!

If you try out any of these recipes, I’d love to hear what you think.