Monday , January 24 2022
Beating The Blues 1

Beating The Blues

Wellbeing: Ellen Mary Gardening |

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The power of being outside, and of plants in particular, has become all too obvious in recent times.

Now former Feast columnist and keen gardener Ellen Mary has launched her own online studio, packed with ideas on how to beat the blues.

There’s a variety of categories, from gardening, food, crafts, books and home, to studio sessions, always with plants and wellbeing at the core. Visitors can find features on gardening for wellbeing, how to better appreciate nature walks and how to use herbs and plants for good health, all contributed by passionate experts in the field. 

Ellen decided to create the online resource following the success of her series of webinars last year which explored how and why we are connected to the natural world, tackling subjects such as ‘Plants for Women’s Wellbeing’ and ‘Growing your own for a Plant Based Diet’.

She says: ‘The past year has been tough for everyone, and the isolation that many people have faced as a result of Coronavirus has had a huge effect on mental health and wellbeing. I know first-hand the positive effects of connecting to nature and I want to help others regain and develop this connection.

‘I was delighted by the success of my webinars last year, and it really highlighted to me how much people are longing to get out and enjoy gardening, nature and growing their own food, and to reap the wellbeing benefits of it. I want to help facilitate this reconnection with the natural world to make it easier for everyone, no matter their situation, to benefit from developing a positive relationship with nature, and hope that the launch of the studio will provide an accessible way to do this.’

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Here’s just one of the tasty recipes Ellen Mary features on her virtual studio. It comes from Joey O’ Hare and Katy Taylor , visit

Roasted Leek, Fennel and White Bean Salad, with a Creamy Caesar Dressing

This recipe is a true centrepiece of a salad which is sure to impress your friends and family. It’s flavoursome, nourishing, and leeks and chicory are right in season at the moment.

We use creamy hummus as the base of our Caesar dressing, and layered in bold flavours such as garlic, anchovies and tarragon.You can omit the anchovies if you wish to keep this vegan. It can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.

A note on its health credentials: leeks and chicory are both very high in inulin; inulin is a prebiotic fibre which is a key support to a healthy microbiome. The white beans add plant based protein and make this salad so brilliantly satiating. There’s even some plant-based protein in the dressing too!



2 heaped tbsp of creamy hummus
4tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juice only
12g of tarragon leaves (this was 1 pack of tarragon, stripped from the stalks)
1 clove garlic, minced
1tbsp of capers
2 anchovies
2 heaped tsp of Dijon mustard
½ tsp of salt
2 large fennel bulbs, save the fronds
2 large leeks
8 sprigs of thyme leaves, stripped from the stalks
2tbsp of olive oil
1tsp of salt
½ tsp of pepper
60g of pumpkin seeds
2 chicory bulbs
2 tins of cannellini or haricot beans
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Start by making your dressing: mince or crush your garlic, and then combine all the dressing ingredients in a small blender and whizz until smoothish, we love leaving a little bit of texture.

Prepare your fennel and leek for the oven. Chop the fennel bulbs into approximately 10 wedges each and remove the tough central core. Top and tail your leeks before slicing them on the angle into 2 cm width slices. Toss these with the thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread on a large roasting tray. Roast at the top of the preheated oven for 25 minutes until the vegetables are soft and lightly charred. Allow these to steam dry as they cool.

Turn the oven down to 180, and toast the pumpkin seeds for 6 minutes.

As the roasted vegetables cool you have time to prepare the other elements to the salad. Simply open and drain the beans, and separate the chicory leaves. If you’ve kept the fennel fronds roughly chop these too. Remove the pumpkin seeds from the oven which should now be smelling deliciously toasty!

Toss all of your salad ingredients together – it’s a messy job but we even recommend using your hands for a super even coating of the Caesar dressing!

Drizzle your salad with a final flourish of extra virgin olive oil before serving with some whole grain sourdough. Delicious!

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