Entertaining: Sunshine Lunch

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I am very excited to write my first blog post for the Entertaining section of my website. I included an Entertaining section on the website because I love entertaining and cooking for others. But also because I really want to show that it is possible to entertain and serve delicious plant based foods for your guests that they will enjoy and hopefully try prepare for themselves at home.

When I cook for others I stick to my food philosophy, cooking from scratch and using fresh herbs, spices, wholefoods and, most importantly, lots of vegetables. Your guests don't have to be herbivores or big into plant based eating. The idea of this section is that the meal plans are designed to appeal to everyone, including the most ardent meat eaters out there. I really hope you enjoy this section of the website as I have lots of ideas and I cannot wait to try them out on my family and friends and then share them with you.

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Last weekend, I had some friends over for lunch and I had intended on making them a brunch, but with the arrival of gorgeous sunshine, my thoughts went directly to salads and I changed my mind and instead went for a selection of salads.

To start with, I prepared fresh green juice, mojito style. I say, mojito style as for this juice I go heavy on the lime and add lots of fresh mint. I juiced cucumber, celery, kale, apple, lime and fresh mint. As my friends aren't regular juice drinkers, I added a little more fruit than I would usually. I used sweet apple to offest the bitterness of the lime. It tastes so good and is really energising. Your friends might even mistake them for real mojitos.

I served these on arrival along with olives marinated in extra virgin olive oil and red chilli flakes. It's good to serve the juices first as green juice is best drank on an empty stomach. Also if you need to add the finishing touches to your salads, you can do so while your guest sip away and chat among themselves.

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For the main event, I wanted to keep the salads fresh and not too heavy, but yet filling and satisfying. I went straight for my lentil and summer vegetable salad as it's a complete favourite of mine and always goes down a treat. There is a little work in this salad as you need to roast the peppers in advance and then remove the skins, but it is so worth it for the taste, plus for the smells that the roasted peppers will leave in your kitchen.

Next I chose a plant based take on a waldorf salad. Waldorf salads remind me so much of when I was a child and I used to read my Mam's cookbooks. They were everywhere back then, but maybe not so popular now. I love this salad for the memories it evokes, but also because I am obsessed with celery. Not everyone is a fan of celery so this salad might divide opinions. The dressing is made using cashew nuts and so is dairy free.

The third salad is a spinach, spring onion, pomegranate and fig salad and couldn't be easier to make. You just wash the spinach and then add it along with chopped spring onion, pomegranate and fig to a bowl. So simple, but so good.

Last on the list of salads, is a cucumber, tomato and radish salad. I served this with toasted pine nuts for added texture and flavour.

To accompany the salads, I served homemade Mediterranean style flaxseed crackers along with hummus and chopped avocado drizzled in olive oil and lime juice. For a salad dressing, it could not have been simplier - extra virgin olive oil with dijon mustard, lemon juice and salt and pepper. I served this is a jug so that guests can suit themselves as to how much they want.

Everyone seems to love homemade flaxseed crackers. I think that could be because people normally eat store bought crackers that are processed and made from refined carbohydrates and artificual flavourings. On the other hand, homemade crackers are so full of flavour as they are made with freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh herbs. I use a dehyrator to make mine, but they can also be made by baking them in an oven at a very low heat.

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Last but not least, for something sweet and indulgent, I served raw mini blueberry cheesecakes and chocolate truffles. Both these desserts are so light as they are dairy and refined sugar free. Both, are kept in the freezer or refridgerator until about 30 minutes before serving, so they are quite chilled when served up. This is great for a hot day as they are refreshing, which you don't usually associate with dessert.

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Sunshine Lunch Meal Plan

To drink:

Green juice, mojito style

Filtered water with lime and mint

To eat:

Olives marinated in red chilli flakes and extra virgin olive oil

Lentil and summer vegetable salad

Spinach, spring onion, pomegranate and fig salad

Plant based, no dairy Waldorf Salad

Cucumber, tomato, red onion and radish salad with toasted pinenuts

Mediterranean style flaxseed crackers

Homemade hummus

Chopped avocado drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lime

Olive oil dressing

For afters:

Mini blueberry cheesecakes

Raw cacao truffles

Herbal teas

The recipes for some of these dishes are already up on the blog and for those that are not, I will put them up over the next little while so watch this space. Now all we need is lots and lots of sunny days to enjoy leisurly lunches xx

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#entertaining #mealplans