Kale, crispy bacon and borlotti bean salad

September is such a fantastic month for fresh produce.
Salad crops are slowly going out of season, making way for hardy greens, beans and squashes. 
As with any fruit and vegetables, they are the most nutritious when eaten in season and at their peak freshness. Farmers markets and local farms shops are bursting with fresh, seasonal goods this time of the year so make sure you pay one a visit.
The beans and kale for this recipe came from a Derbyshire based farmer and were both picked just a day ago.
Such fresh ingredients are best prepared simply, emphasising their natural flavour and wholesomeness.  

Ingredients (Serves 1)
100g borlotti beans
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns
2 rashers of smoked bacon
a large handful of torn kale leaves, approximately 40g
1/2 lemon
extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Pop the beans in a small pan with the bay leaf and black peppercorns. Cover with just enough water to cover and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, put a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
To cook the bacon, heat a frying pan on a medium heat, add a teaspoon of coconut oil or butter and fry the bacon until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside to cool completely.
Put the torn kale leaves into a large bowl, squeeze over some lemon juice and rub the leaves until they break down to roughly half the original volume. This makes the kale more palatable and digestible.
To plate, put the beans and kale in the same bowl, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and stir well. Crumble the bacon over the top. Enjoy!

Sweet potato and quinoa falafel

Falafel are a tasty addition to salads or make a great stand alone snack.
This sweet potato and quinoa version is packed with plant based protein as well as a host of vitamins and minerals that support wellness.
Sweet potato is especially high in Vitamin A which is great to maintain the health of eyes, bones, skin and the immune system.

Ingredients (Makes 10 falafel)
250g cooked sweet potato (see instructions below)
150g cooked chickpeas
100g cooked quinoa
juice of half a lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
small handful (5g) parsley
1 tbsp olive oil

Method:
Baking, as opposed to boiling, sweet potatoes ensures that the nutrients remain in the potato.  
To do this, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, pierce two medium sweet potatoes with a knife two-three times. Pop them on a baking tray and bake for 1 hour or until a fork goes through the flesh easily. Allow them to cool and peel the skin off.
Cooked sweet potatoes stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days and also freeze well.

To make the falafel, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Put the chickpeas, sweet potato, salt, lemon juice, parsley, cumin, smoked paprika and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
Decant the mixture into a bowl and stir through the quinoa. 
Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and form into a pattie. Repeat with the remaining mixture to make 10 falafel. The texture will be fairly sticky but this isn't anything to worry about. 
Bake the falafel in the oven for 45 minutes.