Tag Archives: food blog

Recovery Salad – Watermelon, Feta and Tuna

I’ve had a tough week – an infection and high blood pressure has had me in an ambulance, at the doctors, in tears, in bed and quite frankly feeling pretty pants!

I’m on the mend now and more eager than ever to get my diet on track with a focus on maintaining good blood pressure levels and good energy levels – i am supposed to be training for the 3 peaks challenge after all!

After a long day at work yesterday at the end of which I had a banging headache, I took myself home for a relaxing evening of healthy dinner and catch up on celebrity big brother (my not-so-guilty pleasure!)

A little reading of The Optimum Nutrition Bible, my trusted Neals Yard Healing Foods book and The Happy Kitchen by Rachel Kelly gave me inspiration for a quick and easy salad which would hopefully help me get some balance and energy back as well as help me feel better.

Feta, Watermelon and Tuna salad quite honestly sound like three ingredients which should never be eaten together but the salad was fresh, sweet and light. Peppery rocket goes fantastically with salty feta and zingy watermelon and the sweet black olives cut through the fatty tuna. Trust me on this one and if you cant then either leave out the tuna (or substitute for chicken) or switch the watermelon for tomatoes to retain some juicy sweetness.

The reasons i chose this salad after being poorly this week are :

Watermelon – rich in vitamin c and antioxidants which are good for immune support and contains potassium which helps to normalise blood  pressure. Watermelons are also good for digestion having a natural diuretic effect.

Rocket – protects against infections through very high vitamin C content  – it is also used for its energising and detoxifying qualities.

Tuna – a semi oily fish – good source of magnesium and potassium which are good for heart health and helping keep blood pressure low. Tuna is a great protein, good for energy and heart health.

Feta – helps supply a sustained energy and help to keep the gut running  nicely ensuring good digestion.

Ok – so now for the construction of the salad which is nice and easy. Marinate 100g diced tuna steak in some lime juice, olive oil and a teaspoon of oregano and leave to one side. Start to assemble the salad with 80g rocket as the salad base. Scatter over 20g low fat feta (chopped into small cubes), 90g diced watermelon, 1/2 red onion – thinly sliced, 70g black olives (halved). Gently fry the tuna in a pan for 2 minutes (save any of the marinade as this becomes the salad dressing) until sealed on the outside and still pink on the inside. Pop the tuna on top of the salad and scatter some shredded mint leaves and the left over lime and oregano dressing on top. Enjoy and feel good!

 

Spring Time Carbonara

This recipe is a light, spring twist on a normal carbonara. Slightly healthier with no creme freche or cream and more veggies – also no added salt. 

Broad Beans are added to this recipe – i LOVE broad beans – despite the effort of cooking them and de-podding them as they cook they are so worth the effort. Not only are they are great source of vegetable protein and fibre so they give us energy and keep out digestive system ticking along, they are also packed with vitamin B – this is good for pregnancy, helps cell strength and finally are a great source of calcium, manganese and iron.

The dish was delicious, rich sundried tomatoes and salty, crispy pancetta were balanced with the creaminess of the broad beans and parmesan and the tang from the lemon juice and zest. Fresh herbs were added for extra freshness especially mint, which goes so well with pancetta, parmesan and the beans. 

Serves 2
1 courgette – spiralized for courgetti
1 serving wholewheat spaghetti
100g pancetta cubes
1 clove garlic – finely diced
Olive Oil
Juice and Zest of 1/2 Lemon
8 sundried tomatoes – sliced
100g Peas
200g Broad Beans
1 egg – beaten
Handful of Parmesan – grated
Handful of fresh mint and fresh parsley – chopped

Pop the spaghetti in a pan to cook in boiling water for 8 minutes until al dente.
Cook the pease and broad beans in a pan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes and shell the beans discarding the skins.
Get yourself a frying pan and in a little olive oil, fry the pancetta until slightly crispy, as the pancetta starts to caramelise, add the garlic. Once cooked, remove from the pan and set to one side.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the courgetti, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest and herbs.
Next pop the cooked pasta into the large frying pan (utilise that pancetta and garlic oil for extra flavour) on a very low heat and add the egg. Keep mixing through and add the pancetta and garlic. As the egg scrambles and mixes through the pasta add the courgetti and tomatoes and mix everything together. The egg should lace through the dish
providing a creamy element and tying all the other ingredients together. Finally scatter over the parmesan and stir through. Try not to leave the pan on the heat after the egg is cooked through as the dish could overcook and there is a risk it could all turn to mush when you want to retain that light, fresh, zing.

Nasi Goreng – my style

Hi folks, having recently moved house and missing my cookbooks which are still in boxes in “the outhouse” (my garden shed) I have been making up recipes for dinner lately and this Nasi Goreng is one.

Traditionally Nasi Goreng is fried rice with chicken or seafood topped with a fried egg and spiced with Indonesian spices. My version uses cauliflower rice (after my cleanse I am loving substituting regular for cauliflower – it makes dishes lighter, is more nutritious and tastier) and I have no idea whether the spice mix is Indonesian – i made it up! 

After a long weekend in Krakow (amazing place!) where I ate a lot of comforting but rather stodgy meat dishes I wanted a lighter dinner so elected seafood for my nasi goreng mixing squid into the spiced rice and topping with a lovely fillet of turmeric spiced seabass. 
The dish is gluten free, packed with your 5 a day veggies and high in protein from the seabass and squid.

Serves 2
Paste – blitz the below in a food processsor until a smooth paste is formed:

4 cloves garlic
2cm ginger
1tsp shrimp paste
2tbsp lime juice
1 red chilli
1tsp palm sugar
2tbsp roasted flaked almonds
1 tbsp veg oil
salt and pepper
1tsp turmeric
1tsp chilli powder

Nasi Goreng

Spice Paste (above)
1tbsp Kecap Manis (this is Indonesian ketchup, if you cant find any, use equal amounts of soy sauce and palm sugar)
1tsp Soy Sauce
1 handful of baby corn (chopped)
2 heads Pak Choi (sliced)
1 handful of mange tout (chopped)
3 spring onions (sliced)
1 handful green beans (chopped)
1/2 head Cauliflower – coarsely grated to a rice-like consistency
2 fillets seabass
1 tbsp turmeric
2 eggs
Rapeseed oil

Sprinkle the turmeric over the seabass fillets and leave to one side. Warm the cauliflower rice in a dry pan and leave to one side.
To ensure everything is cooked well, I part cooked the veggies in boiling water so that they were ready to be stirfried into the nasi goreng and would be nicely al dente.
Heat the paste in a wok or large frying pan with a little rapeseed oil and wait until it sizzles and smells fragrant. Add the kecap manis and the soy and mix again.
Add the veggies and squid and cover with the spice mix. Whilst this is cooking through, fry the seabass in a little oil, skin side down for 2 minutes on each side. At this stage, mix the cauliflower rice into the wok with the squid and veggies to mix together and heat through.
If you can multi task, now is the time to fry your eggs as they can be cooking through as you plate up.
Serve the nasi goreng topped with the seabass and the fried egg on top.

Before the Cleanse…..

As I am now a qualified nutritionist, it seemed only right that I put myself on a cleanse so that I am best placed to give advice to people as and when life takes me there. 

The cleanse that I have chosen aims to nourish the tummy by repairing and rejuvinating the gut – taking out foods which are harmful to the digestive system and replacing them with foods which rebalance, replenish and nourish. My aim is not to lose weight but its to get my body to the best possible place to be fit, healthy and glowing! Anyway – more about that next week – for now I am sharing the recipe for Jamie Oliver’s Bustrengo which is a Bolognese Apple and Polenta Cake. Before the cleanse I am going out with a bang!

We ate similar cake in Bologna – its not too sweet – similar to bread and  butter pudding I suppose. Best served warm with either custard or creme freche.

Serves 10/fills a 28cm loose bottomed cake tin
Butter
100g Fine Polenta
200g Plain Flour
100g Breadcrumbs
100g Caster Sugar
500ml Milk
3 Eggs – beaten
100g Runny Honey
55ml Olive Oil
100g Dried Figs – chopped
100g Sultanas
500g (approx 2) Apples – peeled and diced
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Zest of an Orange
Zest of a Lemon

Pre-heat oven to 180 degs and grease the cakes tin.
Mix together the polenta, flour, breadcrumbs and sugar in a large
mixing bowl. In a seperate bowl beat together the milk, eggs, honey and olive oil. Add this wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix together. Pop in the dried fruits, apples, zest and cinnamon and stir together.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes to an
hour or until a skewer comes out clean when poked through.
As i said earlier – devour whilst still warm with creme freche or custard and a glass of Italian red wine.


See you next week when I’ll be a week into the cleanse and on my way to a new, healthier self!

Cashew Chicken & Noodles

I loved cooking and eating this dish – it made me very happy! Prep everything beforehand and then simply add each ingredient one by one into a wok and see the tastiest noodle stir fry come together!

The recipe i have used came from a cooking class I took in Chiang Mai, Thailand so its authentic but still easy and oh so delicious!

Serves 2
1 nest of rice noodles
1tsp Soy Sauce
1 Chicken Breast – butterflied and sliced
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Chilli – sliced
1/2 Onion – diced
3 Spring Onions – sliced
60g Cashew Nuts
1 handful Mini Corn – sliced
1 handful Mangetout
1 handful Tenderstem Broccolli
1 head Pak Choi – chopped
2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1tbsp Fish Sauce
1tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 tbsp Palm Sugar
Water

Soak the noodles in boiling water and when al dente, drain and stir 1 teaspoon of soy sauce through – leave to one side.
Fry the cashews in rapeseed oil until golden and leave to one side.
Heat some rapeseed oil in a wok and pop the garlic in to lightly fry. As the garlic turns a golden brown colour, add the chicken, chilli and onion and stir fry for 5 minutes or until the chicken has cooked. Add the veggies in along with 50ml water. Continue to stir fry and then add the soy, fish sauce, oyster sauce and palm sugar. Mix everything together and continue to simmer. Finally add the cashews and spring onions and mix through.
Finally pop the noodles into the wok and ensure they get completely covered with the rich, tasty sauce and take off the heat.
I served with some crispy tofu on top for a little crunch (and because I love tofu!)

Bologna – La Grossa

After a lovely long weekend in Bologna with Elix, I now understand why one of Bologna’s nicknames is “La Grossa” meaning The Fat One. The food is incredible and I could not stop eating! 

Bolognese food is simple, authentic, delicious and oh so fresh. It is the home of tagliatelle, tortellini, mortadella and ragu (the Bolognese never have Spaghetti Bolognese!). On every street corner is the freshest, most colourful selection of fruit amd vegetables I have ever seen including bright purple raddichio, beautiful artichokes, juicy tomatoes and lovely pears.


Elix and I spent the weekend trying lots of new and traditional dishes and whilst I wont be sharing any recipes in this blog, I wanted to share the experience as it as so fantastic!

The first traditional Bolognese dish I ate was Tortellini in Brodo – simply – tiny tortellini in a broth. The first registration of a tortellini recipe was im Bologna – thin, light pasta encasing pork loin and prosciutto and a little cheese. A common dish in Bologna simply serves these tiny pillows of delight in a clear, rich chicken broth. Serving in such a way enhances the taste of the tortellini and is a perfect winter’s lunch. 

I also tried pumpkin tortelli with ragu. The tortellini were sweet and when paired with rich ragu sauce made for a very tasty meal at a restaurant called Al Voltone. I will definitely be trying this dish at home.

 

Now to talk about the ragu – this is as Bolognese as you will get – always served with tagliatelle (the Bolognese don’t eat spaghetti with ragu) – the silkier sheets of tagliatelli pasta provide a better vessel for the sauce to cling to ensuring you get a tasty mouthful with every bite. Whilst I need to try out my own recipes for traditional Bolognese ragu, the sauce generally uses just tomato paste (no chopped tomatoes), carrots, celery, onion, pancetta and minced beef along with wine, stock and olive oil. This is to be cooked very slowly – upto 3-4 hours until a rich, tasty sauce has developed. The sauce is less red than we get at home and tastes less sweet but really is delicious with some (proper)  Parmigiano-Reggiano scattered on top. The one below was the best, eaten at Osteria dell’Orsa – a tiny, very busy restaurant in the Jewish quarter.


A dish we tried and loved was Cotoletta alla Bolognese and is the Bolognese equivalent of a Chicken Milanese. Here in Bologna – a thin pork or veal cutlet is covered in breadcrumbs and lightly fried adding local parma ham and parmesan to melt on top and serving with a light creamy sauce.  We ate at Il Tinello – a friendly, cosy yet lively restaurant with delicious food and wine and lovely traditional decor.


As I always do on any trip abroad I tracked down a good market where we could eat a traditional lunch. Piadina it was! A piadina is a warm sandwich of thin Italian flatbread encasing the filling. We had ours with mortadella (a Bolognese staple – pork sausage flavoured with whole peppercorns, pistachios and nutmeg) and pecorino – a salty sheep’s cheese. At the stall in the Mercato di Mezzo there were dozens of flavours to choose from – all showcasing the best of Bolognese and Italian produce.

Finally, we ate the best gelato I have ever eaten at a small Gelataria, south west of the centre. One of Elix’s friends had recommended La Sorbetteria and when I heard their signature flavour was bitter dark chocolate I couldn’t be stopped from marching through the rain to get there. The place didnt disappoint and my two scoops of Bitter Chocolate and Espresso, Mascarpone and Cacao made me a very happy lady! 

A final bit of news about the trip is that I tried my first espresso! We spent our first day of the trip with my dear friend Laura and her huaband Johannes. They live in Florence and came to meet us and experience Bologna too. After a lovely lunch of antipasti, pasta and Sangiovese we stopped for a coffee and a cake. Johannes explained to me how the Italians treat the espresso as a quick social drink – always to be consumed in the cafe (never takeaway!) in the afternoons (no milk in coffee after lunchtime is the Italian rule) and with a little sweet on the side. And so i came to enjoy my first espresso with a little bombolino (fried choux pastry filled with custard) on the side. I think I’m a convert – the coffee was rich and silky, not at all bitter and a lovely pick me up on the chilly afternoon! 

I would highly recommend Bologna it really lives up to its nicknames – La Grossa – the fat one, La Rossa – the red one and La Dotta the learned one – so much to eat, see and do!

Oh Hi 2017

New Year’s Day dinner this year was Ottolenghi inspired. Chicken Sofrito with Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad and Roasted Tahini Squash. I did lots of research for Sofrito and found that each region makes it differently and Sofrito axtually refers more to the cooking method – the meat is lightly fried in a little oil and is then left to cook slowly in a pan on the hob, in steam created from its own juices.
I used Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book as my inspiration for this meal but made a few changes – firstly I have kept the chicken whole for cooking, and, as im on a new year’s detox I ommitted any salt and sugar from the recipe. Elix announced she couldn’t tell as there is so much flavour from the marinade!

This meal was hearty and healthy – a perfect way to start 2017.

Serves 4
Chicken Sofrito

1.4kg Organic Whole Chicken
1 onion – quartered
1tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
a tiny drizzle of agave nectar (or 1/4 tsp sugar)
1tbsp Grapeseed Oil
6 Garlic Cloves
2 medium sized potatoes – peeled and diced

Fry the chicken, whole in a large pan so that it turns light, golden brown on the outside. Whilst this is frying, mix together the paprika, lemon juice, turmeric and agave. Remove the chicken and brush all over with the spice mix. Pop back into the pan with the lid on and leave to cook for an hour. If the bottom of the pan becomes dry, just add a little water.
After an hour, remove the chicken from the pan. In an oven dish, pour the chicken sauce with the onion, garlic and diced potatoes and place the chicken on top. Pop into the oven at 180 degs for 30 minutes, this will given enough time for the potatoes to cook, the chicken skin the crisp up and the sauce to infuse with the garlic and onion and become your gravy! Serve the chicken simply, carved for the table to share with the gravy and potatoes on the side.
I served my chicken with a couple of sides which were super easy and healthy.

Roasted Squash with Tahini – Half and slice a butternut squash and roast in the oven, scattered with ground cumin and drizzled with olive oil for 40minutes. Serve with 50g roasted pinenuts and drizzle with a dressing made of 4tbsp tahini, 2tbsp lemon juice and a grated garlic clove. To serve sprinkle 1tsp of za’atar on top.

Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad
– chop half a cauliflower into tiny florets and roast for 30minutes. For the last 10 minutes add 30g hazelnuts to roast. In a sepearate salad bowl, slice one stick of celery diagonally and mix with a handful of parsley leaves and a handful of pomegranite seeds. Make a dressing of 1/2 tsp ground cinammon, 1/2 tsp mixed spice, 1tbsp Cider Vinegar and 1tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup). To serve, add the cauliflower and hazelnuts to the salad and mix the dressing.