Tag Archives: health

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!

 

A quick and easy Dinner Treat

Last week after a tough day I wanted to treat myself to something new and a little different for dinner. Luckily for me Sainsburys in Toots had some beautiful fresh scallops on the Fish Counter which I decided to combine with the comfort of linguine and chorizo.

This dish contains 2 of your 5 veg a day from the spinach and tomatoes – which also provide an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Scallops are low in fat and also a great source of Vitamin B, potassium and magnesium – all of which are great for heart health. 

You’ll see I added dried spice – I used a dried arrabiata mix I picked up from Italy which contains dried chilli, parsley, oregano and garlic but dried chilli is also just fine.

Serves 2
12 Fresh Scallops – keep the roe to one side
220g Cherry Tomatoes
100g Chorizo – cubed
200g Spinach – shredded
2 handfuls Linguine
1tsp dried chilli/dried arrabiata mix

Start by boiling the linguine – this is a quick dish so by the time the pasta has cooked everything else will be ready!
In a frying pan, dry fry the cherry tomatoes – keep an eye on them. When they start to char and soften, turn down the heat and add some olive oil. At this stage, add the dried chilli or dried herbs (depending on how much spice you fancy) and also add the chorizo. I also added in the scallop roe – many people dont like to eat this but it adds a mild scallop flavour to the sauce which saves having to add extra seasoning for those trying to limit their salt intake. As everything sizzles, gently mash the tomatoes to make a chunky sauce. Add the spinach and let it wilt down into the sauce.
Allow the sauce to simmer on a low heat and get on to the scallops.
I fried my scallops in a little olive oil in a frying pan – I cooked for 2 minutes on one side until they had a lovely golden sheen and then flipped to cook on the other side for another minute.
To serve, I mixed the sauce with the linguine and placed the scallops on top. A perfect Summery comfort dish.

Hormone Balancing Sesame Tuna Salad

During a stressful time where i am a moody little wotsit; tired, teary and lethargic I wanted to use ingredients which would help to bring me balance – cheer me up, keep my skin and hair healthy, calm me down and taste delicious. Balanced hormones keep weight down, keep us happy, ensure our skin and hair are clear, healthy and strong. Hormone inbalance can disrupt sleep, deplete energy and reduce the strength of our immune system so you can see its important to look after our hormones all the time!

This tuna salad did just that. Just cooking and putting it together cheered me up – its a very colourful salad. According to some research, Omega-3 rich foods such as tuna can have a positive effect on mental health reducing depression. Cooking the sesame tuna in coconut oil rather than another oil also helps to balance hormones – good for the skin, easy to digest, quick source of energy and protects against bad bacteria. The avocado is also great – its high potassium, vitamins B and E and folic acid are also essential im maintaining hormonal balance. Dark green veggies are powerful sources of antioxidents – here i use kale and broccoli. I could use up a whole blog post on how fabulous kale is so i’ll go into detail another time – suffice to say its amazing! The brightly coloured veggies including radish, mango and carrot are great sources of vitamin C too.  

Serves 2

Tuna

2 Tuna Steaks
1 Garlic Clove – finely sliced
2 Red Chillis – finely sliced
2cm Ginger – peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1tbsp Sesame Oil
2tbsp Coconut Oil
Handful Fresh Coriander – chopped
20g Cashew Nuts
3tbsp Sesame Seeds (I used black and white)
2 Spring Onions – sliced

Salad
200g Kale – I massaged this is a little cold water to soften the leaves slightly
1 Mango – chopped into chunks
8 Radishes – sliced
½ head broccoli – chopped into florets and cooked to al dente to retain crunch
1 avocado – diced
Handful of Coriander – chopped
1 nest of Whole-wheat Rice Noodles – to cook, place in boiling water for 3 minutes

Dressing
1 Chilli – diced
2tbsp Soy Sauce
1tbsp Lime juice
1tbsp Maple Syrup
3tbsp Sesame Oil
1tsp AllSpice

This is the straight forward part! Marinate the tuna in the chilli, ginger, garlic and sesame oil – place in the fridge for at least an hour. Make the dressing my mixing all ingredients together and seasoning to taste. Bring al the salad ingredients together making sure everything is mixed together and pour the dressing on the top. Leave in the fridge to infuse – not for too long though as you don’t want everything to go soggy – I would say 20 minutes whilst you prep and cook the tuna is fine. Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a dry pan for a few minutes, let them brown slightly and start to smell toasty! Leave to one side. Once the tuna is marinated remove from the marinade (I poured the marinade into the salad for extra taste and so as not to waste as those lovely flavours). Mix the sesame seeds together in a bowl and place the tuna steaks into the seeds to cover on all sides. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the sesame coated tuna for 3 minutes on each side. This should ensure the steaks are cooked medium and the sesame seeds are nice and toasted.

To bring together, place the dressed salad on the base of the bowl and top with the tuna steak. Scatter the cashews, remaining coriander and spring onions on top. I defy anyone not to enjoy this salad – its fabulously nutritious, tasty, light and pretty!

Elix had a Blinder!

Last week, after a tough few days, Elix treated me to a dish which I had seen on the Delicious instagram site. Watercress, Bacon and Goats Cheese Risotto. It was AMAZING! Fresh, comforting, tasty and with an entire bag of watercress used was packed with Vitamin K which helps healing, it also contains Vitamin C good helping maintain healthy cells, skin and bones and also Vitamin A which we need for a strong immune system.

According to Elix, the recipe was also easy to follow (always a good thing!) so here we go!

Serves 4
100g Watercress (plus a handful left reserved)
2 Garlic Cloves
Grated Zest & Juice of one Lemon
Olive Oil
200g Pancetta Cubes
2 Shallots – diced
300g Arborio Rice
1.2l Chicken Stock
2tbsp Grated Parmesan
30g Soft Goats Cheese
20g Pistachios – toasted in a dry pan

To start, make a pesto by whizzing the watercress, garlic and lemon zest and juice in a processor to a paste consistency. Add 1 tbsp olive oil with some salt and pepper and whizz again. Hey Presto – watercress pesto! Next in a large frying pan, fry the pancetta until crisp and remove to one side. In the same pan, add the shallots with a little olive oil until translucent and then add the rice. Mix together for a few minutes and then begin to add the stock a ladel-ful at a time when all the liquid has been absorbed. After around 20 minutes or so all the rice should be fluffy and cooked through and the liquid will have been absorbed. Now stir in the pesto, the parmesan and pancetta – the risotto will turn a lovely rich green colour with flecks of pink pancetta throughout. Stir through the reserved watercress for that fresh, peppery kick. Finally add the goats cheese in small chunks and sprinkle the pistachios on top.


This really was the best risotto i’ve ever eaten – I think I’ll be asking Elix to make this one again!

My last meal in my first Flat

I’m about to move house and leave my lovely huge kitchen for the delights of a “do-er upper”. I am not moving far but will have a whole house – i’ll be knocking some walls down and building some new rooms so will have a lovely new kitchen in no time but tonight – as the last time i’ll cook here it was quite emotional.

So my last meal was a vegetable curry and it was delicious. It ticks all the gluten free, dairy free, low fat, no salt, no sugar boxes and was packed with nutritious vegetables.

Serves 4
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
Coconut Oil
1 onion – blitzed to form a paste
1 carrot – diced
1 potato – diced
1 tin plum tomatoes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2tsp ground coriander
1tsp turmeric
1/2 cauliflower – chopped to florets
1 red pepper – diced
1 courgette – sliced
1/2 tsp Garam masala

For the Masala – blitz the below:
1 red chilli
2 cloves garlic
4cm Ginger

In a large pan heat some oil, once hot add the cumin seeds until they start to pop. At this point when fragrant, add the onion and gently cook until caramelised and dark. Add the carrot and potato along with the spices, mix in the tinned tomatoes and then half fill the can with water and add this too. Leave on a high heat, covered for 10 minutes.

As the vegetables begin to soften, add the cauliflower, courgette and pepper and a little water if needed. Mix together and add the chilli masala paste. Leave covered on the hob, bubbling away for another 15 minutes. For the final 5 minutes uncover to allow the sauce to thicken a little. The curry will be ready when the veggies are soft and the sauce is thick and punchy!

Serve with cauliflower rice and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.


And with that il say a fond farewell to my lovely flat in Toots and sign off….next time I blog it will be from my new house!

My Gut Makeover

Now that I completed my Nutrition diploma I thought it about time to put some of my learnings into practise and trial out some new eating habits.

I think I generally eat pretty healthily – the vast majority of what I eat is unprocessed, homemade and nutritious however I am prone to bloating, bad skin, lack of energy and catching every cold around so after reading Jeanette Hyde’s “The Gut Makeover” I decided to give it a go.

I have completed week one of the cleanse and thought I would share my thoughts and a couple of recipe ideas with you.

Firstly, the theory behind the book centre on the gut being central to our weight and health so it sets out a 4 week cleanse plan to help repair the gut, re-populate with good bacteria and have us feeling better, happier, more energetic and healthier.

Our guts are filled with trillions of bacteria, processed foods, dairy, gluten and sugar are some key foods which act as irritants to the gut lining and cause an inbalance in the levels of bacteria in the gut. By removing these foods from our daily diet we are giving our guts a chance to recover, rebuild and rebalance. Good bacteria will flourish and we will hopefully end up feeling rejuvinated and glowing. 

The author of this book makes it clear that this isnt a diet – it is more a makeover and whilst you dont need to follow the daily plans forever this cleanse will help form better food and eating habits and can be revisited periodically to routinely give yourself a bit of an MOT!

Essentially week one has involved cutting out caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, sugar, salt and processed foods. Every time I have told my friends about this they have been horrified asking what I am able to eat but, being honest, the only thing I have really missed is cappuccinos! I have followed the advice in the book by snacking on fruit, nuts and vegetables. The plan recommends trying to eat a wide variety of all fruit and vegetables – 20 a week and I think I have achieved this!

This isn’t about calorie counting, it is about 3 healthy, nutritious meals a day with healthy snacks, plenty of water and herbal tea.

When I am at work I have followed the following plan: 

Breakfast – Grapefruit with a Smoothie made with 3/4 fruits and vegetables – usually banana, kiwi, spinach and pear.

Lunch – Sweet Potato, Squash, Carrott and Chilli Soup

Snacks – a handful of nuts, an apple, melon and pineapple

Dinners this week have included Courgetti with Fresh tomatoes, chilli, garlic and anchovy

Warm Thai beef salad with Cauliflower Rice

Seabass with Chilli Greens and Mushrooms and Cauliflower Rice

Almond Crusted Chicken with Apple and Walnut Salad and Kale

Genuinely I think I am now a cauliflower rice convert – coarsley grate a quarter of a cauliflower and warm in a dry pan – I couldnt tell the difference between that and rice when it was mixed with the warm thai salad!


Again, by using ground almonds and crushed pistachios or walnuts to coat chicken instead of breadcrumbs you still retain a crispy coating – perfect for with a salad.


Weekend breakfasts have also been a treat – poached eggs, homemade guacamole made by mashing avocado, grated ginger, diced chilli with lime juice with sauteed mushrooms and spinach or salmon.


I have been drinking plenty of water, peppermint tea androoibos tea. 

So it really hasnt been too difficult at all despite sitting in the pub with my friends on water whilst they enjoy beer and wine and walking to the market near work seeing the lovely falafal stall (which i love!) and being unable to eat it!

So far i have lost 1.5kg in weight and have not felt bloated at all. My skin and sleeping patterns arent great but I am putting that down to the stress of moving house and a restructure at work.

I will blog again once I have finished week 2 which I am excited about! I am making a vegetable curry today for Elix and I to have for dinner tomorrow in fact and look forward to sharing the recipe!

Winter Salad

As my new year healthkick continues, I have tried to be more thoughtful about each and every bit of food im putting into my body. Saying that – after a long and tough last week and a success in avoiding caffeine, alcohol, salt and sugar – I finished off a lovely dinner last night at Cafe Monico in London, with a Paris Brest – a choux pastry filled with beautiful coffee and hazelnut praline cream – it was perfect and a real treat.

Anyway – back to being nutritious today and working on filling my body with goodness. Elix saw a salad in the Nopi cookbook with a base of sprouts and watercress so we decided to use this as inspiration for our lunch.

You will see shortly that the recipe is super simple and easy so I wanted to add on some info about why I chose some ingredients today. This is also good revision for me as I am close to completing my Nutrition diploma!

Sprouts – seasonal at the moment and high in anti-cancer elements. Sprouts are part of the cabbage family all of which boost skin health from the vitamins C and K as well as being packed with sulphur which can help to heal skin conditions including acne and eczema and keeps your digestice system healthy.

Watercress – grown all year round. The leaves are rich in Vitamins B, C and K meaning it’s a good way to process energy from protein, promote skin health, fight colds and flu aswell as acting as a natural antibiotic.

Mushrooms – support immune function, cleanse the digestive system and through their high vitamin D content, are good for bone health, cancer prevention and immune defence.

Serves 2
20 sprouts
10 mushrooms – sliced
Handful of Asparagus – chopped
100g Watercress
2 Eggs
White Wine Vinegar
50g Iberica Ham – diced
1 small Seeded Wholegrain Roll
Pecorino – shaved
1 1/2 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Rip up the roll into bitesize pieces, drizzle with a little olive oil and place under the grill for 10 minutes. Once crispy, remove and leave to one side.
Set 2 saucepans on with water to boil. In one, place 16 sprouts (8 each are 1 of your 5 a day) and the asparagus to cook for 5 minutes. In the other pan, add a teaspoon of white wine vinegar and bring to a rolling boil.
Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a frying pan and gently fry the mushrooms, adding the ham as the mushrooms start to brown. Shred the remaining sprouts by slicing finely and add these to the pan.
Crack the eggs into the saucepan of water to poach for 5 minutes until softly cooked.
Drain the whole sprouts and asparagus and add to the mushroom and ham to caramelise. They are really lovely with a little char.
To bring the salad together, place the watercress at the base and cover with the ham, mushrooms and shredded sprouts. Using a peeler, shave a few strands of pecorino over the top and scatter the croutons around.
For the dressing – stir together the vinegar, syrup and lemon juice and gently spoon over the salad.
Finally – place your poached egg on top and let the runny yolk act as an extra dressing to this warming, nutritious and tasty winter salad.