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Oddbox: the future of sustainable produce?

I recently started getting produce from Oddbox, which rescues fruit & veg that would otherwise go in the bin and deliver it to folk like me who want to eat lovely food and help save the planet at the same time. It’s pretty awesome: much of what they rescue is simply surplus, others don’t meet the supermarket beauty standards and have absolutely nothing wrong with them (to be honest so far I’ve not even really had anything odd-looking at all, just a few particularly small apples!)

What’s more, Oddbox keep up their green credentials by delivering overnight and to a schedule that means they’re not running around all over the place every day (for instance, they only deliver to my area on Tuesday night). So, no guilt here! Most I’d their stuff comes without packaging, though there is an occasional plastic wrap to certain items. Hopefully they’ll change to a more bio-based plastic-like material soon.

The contents of my fruit & veg box

As for the produce itself, it’s great stuff! I’ve not had a single thing to complain about so far. Perhaps if choosing myself I’d go for a slightly different selection on occasion – e.g. one recent week was confined almost solely to root veg – but actually in part that’s the point: I’m getting what’s in season, and so I should! It’s encouraging me to embrace a greener lifestyle, and I’m happy about that.

What’s more, getting unexpected items is a great opportunity to try new dishes! This week we had Jerusalem artichokes, which I’d never tried before. I did some research and ended up making them into a gratin with leeks also from Oddbox. Yummy!

Admittedly when I first signed up to Oddbox, I opted for a fortnightly delivery as I wanted to choose my veg the in between weeks. The advent of the second wave of COVID, very high rates in my area and a desire to avoid supermarkets as much as possible made me think differently. II’ve just switched to weekly – which I also think I’d a good step for me in loving greener! – and from veg only to fruit and veg. I don’t regret it; I’m well impressed with the variety and quantity in my first box!

Jerusalem artichoke and leek bake

Top tip: for best value for money, choose a fruit AND veg box. I didn’t know what I was missing till I did!

Want to give it a go? Do it! Also, we can both save money if you sign up via the refer a friend scheme here.

Gardening, Recipes

Summer Hummus with Garden Herbs

I love using home-grown ingredients and the satisfaction that comes from that little bit of self-sufficiency. It’s too early for any fruit and veggies yet but my herbs are going strong and I wanted to share with you my summer hummus recipe that’s perfect for this time of year.

Hummus is my go-to lunch item as I try to stick to a high proportion of plant-based food. Given that I make it every week, the traditional version can get a bit samey, so I enjoy trying out different flavour combinations.

This lovely green hummus makes a great alternative to the classic recipe and is alive with the flavours of summer. I make it without tahini which gives it a certain lightness, but you can always add a tablespoon or two if you like. Mint and lemon verbena really give it that summery zing, but you can use whatever herbs you like from your garden; feel free to experiment with different combinations. Some of the quantities are deliberately vague as I like to be relaxed and go with the flow whilst making this, and encourage you to do the same!

Equipment:

Ingredients:

  • 400g tin chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 125g dried chickpeas
  • Large handful of frozen peas
  • Handful of spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • Small handful of mint and lemon verbena leaves (or other fresh herbs)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • A good glug of olive oil
  • Salt, pepper and chilli powder to taste

Method:

If using dried chickpeas, cook or sprout them according to your preferred method ahead of making your hummus. Otherwise, drain the can of chickpeas and save the aquafaba.

Put your frozen peas in the saucepan on a medium heat for a few minutes. Once warmed through, rinse with cool water to bring back to room temperature.

Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Add it to the food processor with the chickpeas, peas, spinach and herbs. Whizz up until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides with the spatula occasionally if needed.

Juice half the lemon and add the juice to the processor along with a good glug of olive oil (a couple of tablespoons) and a splash of the aquafaba. Blend for a good few minutes until smooth (it takes patience!). Add more aquafaba if needed to get the desired consistency.

Taste and adjust: add lemon juice/zest, olive oil, salt pepper and chilli powder and continue to blend until you’ve reached your ideal flavour balance. Transfer to your container and store in the fridge. It’ll keep well for about 5 days.

Top tip: if your food processor has an accessory designed to help get a smooth consistency, use it! In the case of Magimix, I use the BlenderMix which stops the ingredients flying up the sides of the bowl, keeping them close to the blade an ensuring more effective blending.

Serve simply with pitta and carrot sticks or as a refreshing side to a summer salad.

A great alternative is to use broad beans in place of the peas & spinach, and add some green chilli for extra zing, Yummy!

I’ve got some other lovely home-grown recipes up my sleeve, so be sure to follow me to be the first to know about new recipes when they drop!

Note: As an Amazon Associate I will earn commission from qualifying purchases via links in this blog

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An Introduction…

Welcome to Lauren’s Cloud!

I’m on a mission to live healthily, optimise my wellbeing and look after others and the planet at the same time. I hope you’ll join me on this fascinating journey.

I’ve been passionate about healthy living for many years, and in recent times my interest has deepened in adopting a lifestyle that is good not only for me but for the world around me too. How can I look after myself whilst also caring for others, for the environment, for society? I feel privileged to have been born into a life where I have a degree of freedom to even make choices about my lifestyle; to live in a developed country that is abundant with food options, career choices, consumer products and leisure pursuits. Relatively speaking, I can do what I want in life, and I think in some ways this comes as both a blessing and a curse.

As I’ve begun to explore more sustainable and ethical choices to align with healthy ones, one of the things that has been most striking is that it isn’t easy. Doing the ‘right’ thing can be really challenging. I find myself, for example, visiting 3 stores on some ocassions to do my grocery shopping, simply to get the balance between value, personal needs and ethical choices. I am such an advocate of active and sustainable travel that a single car trip leaves me feeling wracked with guilt. Sometimes I simply don’t know what choices or products are available that meet my combined personal and ethical goals. But I’m adjusting and learning and growing and building this healhy, green lifestyle, one baby step at a time.

I’m in the fairly early stages of this journey myself, and am aware that some people are miles ahead of me, whilst others will be taking the very first steps or simply contemplating making some changes in life. Either way, I want to connect with others who share my vision for a world in which we live healthily, happily and harmoniously with mother nature. I intend to share stories of my endeavours, tips and recommendations that come out of these, and invite you to do the same along the way so we can learn and grow together.

Whilst I hope you’ll find some of what I share useful – and I do intend to do my research and offer genuinely meaningful insights! – I certainly don’t profess to be an expert on any of this stuff. You won’t find me posting super-professional, uber-styled photos or bringing you the slickest, smartest content you’ve ever seen. What you will get is honesty, integrity and a genuine passion for living well in every sense of the word, which I hope you’ll share.

So without further ado, let’s take the next step to saving ourselves, and the planet, together.

Grow your own: a great way to live well! Me in April 2020 tending to my tomato seedlings