With the Natural Kitchen Adventures recipe app, my website and all of my cooking work I offer a seasonal approach to eating well. By eating seasonally as well as locally we are able to select vegetables and fruits when they are at their most optimum in terms of flavour and nutrition. I also try and select produce grown or sold locally where possible to support small businesses and reduce air miles. It’s hard to do this 100% of the time (especially if I’m catering for a large bunch at a yoga retreat) so naturally I mix up my weekly veg bag and trips to the farmers market with dashes to the more conventional supermarket.
I try where possible to make vegetables and fruits the star of each of my recipes, and include at least one portion of fresh produce in each recipe, whether that be adding beetroot into hummus or a slice of pear onto a cake. Along with fresh ingredients I like to base my recipes around legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, eggs, and a little bit fish and meat. I like to talk about the great variety of foods there are to eat, rather than being ‘everything’ free.
I also enjoy picking out the ingredients that aren’t the most popular, or those that are a little bit more unique. I wonder if people avoid these ingredients, as they don’t know how to cook them. For example chard, chicory and radicchio (both fairly bitter tasting) are my latest favourites and recipes using them feature in my app.
I apply this ‘underdog’ theory to the variety of flours I use in my recipes too, regularly utilising flours such as chestnut, sorghum, buckwheat, teff, or chickpea flour – excellently all of which Shipton Mill now produce. It is great fun experimenting with these flours, either individually or using them in combination. They all have individual strengths, whether that be in terms of nutrition, how they work in a recipe, or for their flavour. For example I’ve long loved the unique smoky sweet flavour of chestnut flour, but it can be rather dense on its own and is best lightened up with a neutral flour like sorghum or brown rice. Alternatively it can add sweetness and flavour by just adding it in at 10% of a blend in combination with a sturdy gluten flour like spelt.
Then there’s buckwheat and teff, both highly nutritious whole grains delivering fibre, protein and a strong nutty flavour. I like to use them as part of a blend so one flavour doesn’t dominate (although on the contrary sometimes you want that flavour, a great example is the Breton Galette). A blend can often be lightened up with just a little bit of starch like tapioca flour.
Then finally, there’s chickpea flour, which I suggest is indispensable for any whole foods kitchen. It’s my go to flour to bind together a vegetable fritter, or for making a wrap to stuff with seasonal vegetables (you can find recipes on my blog or app). It’s one of the few flours that works so well on its own, mainly due to its high protein content. It also packs an incredible fibre punch.
As you can see there are so many permutations and combinations to be explored with such an array of underdog flours and since training as a natural chef I have relished the challenge of baking and giving others the confidence to bake like this too. So much more interesting than choosing plain white flour!
Ceri Jones is a trained Natural Chef, completing her training at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in San Francisco in 2013. Ceri runs Natural Kitchen Adventures, which was originally established as a recipe blog in 2011. It subsequently developed into a small business offering retreat catering, teaching and recipe development, whilst maintaining its momentum and reputation as a healthy food blog. In November 2016 Ceri launched her recipe app of the same name, which aims to nurture with nature. The Natural Kitchen Adventures app is based around a seasonal whole foods approach and contains 50 of her favourite deliciously simple recipes, along with seasonal produce guides. Ceri lives in South East London.