Tag Archives: healthy

Risotto for Autumn

Autumn is here in London, we have been super lucky with the weather this week, it has been sunny and crisp cold – perfect for me to find an Autumnal dinner for us. I chose a Jamie Oliver recipe from his Jamie’s Kitchen book which my Mum has. Roast Squash, Pancetta and Chestnut Risotto. It is a little faffy to cook but well worth it – I have simplified the recipe a little here to make it easier to write down and follow.

Serves 4

1 Squash – cut into chunks, save the seeds

2 dried chillies – diced (1tbsp dried chilli will also work)

1tbsp crushed coriander seeds

Salt & Pepper

12 slices pancetta

100g Chestnuts – diced

1 handful Sage leaves – sliced

1 Onion – diced

2 Cloves Garlic – diced

300g Risotto Rice

2 tbsp butter

1l Vegetable Stock –keep heated

60g Parmesan

Coat the squash chunks in the coriander seeds and chilli with some olive oil and pop into the oven at 200 degrees to roast for 30 minutes. You can keep the skin on as everything gets mushed up at the end. Meanwhile start to make the risotto by slowly frying the onion and garlic in some butter until softened (usually takes 10 minutes or so). Add the rice and stir, when the rice begins to turn translucent add in a little of the stock with some salt and pepper. Gradually top up the stock each time the liquid starts to be absorbed. 

Whilst multi-tasking and keeping an eye on the squash and the risotto, layer the pancetta on a baking tray and scatter over the chestnuts, sage, seeds and a little olive oil. Pop these in the oven until the pancetta is cooked through and crispy – this shouldn’t take any more than 15 minutes.

After 30 minutes the rice should be cooked through at which point stir the parmesan through and reduce the heat.

Ok – so now to assemble everything. Take the squash out of the oven and chop up so its chunky and mushy – add this to the risotto and stir through – season to taste. Spoon this into a lovely bowl and then top with the crispy, fragrant pancetta, chestnut and sage mix.

Enjoy!

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Summer Puttanesca

Wow! I haven’t blogged for ages! I have been cooking loads but doing so for myself without the pressure to blog at the same time – i used to use my commutes to write blog posts but am using my tube time to watch TED talks, listen to podcasts and read aswell as watching the occasional episode of This Is Us!

Anyway – Summer is here and i fancied a light, fresh pasta dish. Inspired by the NYT Cooking app I cooked Summer Puttanesca – chilli kick, fresh lemon and rich anchovies were lovely in the South London heat tonight!

Serves 2

  • 1 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – sliced
  • 1 tin anchovies – chopped
  • 1/2 jar of capers
  • 1 bag rocket
  • 1 Tin tuna
  • 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
  • 2 servings wholewheat spaghetti

Put the spaghetti on to boil as per instructions. In a separate frying pan heat some olive oil and gently fry the garlic and chilli until sizzling and softened. Add the anchovies and capers and allow the anchovies to melt. At this stage, keep mixing all together and add a ladle of the pasta water and add the rocket . Mix together, adding extra water if needed to loosen. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the mixture and stir in the tuna. Finally stir the chopped parsley through ensuring everything is mixed together and the pasta is smothered in the sauce.

I served my dinner with some toasted lemon zest breadcrumbs on top and a side salad of asparagus, parmesan and pinenuts.

Enjoy!

  • Baked Eggs & Baked Beans

    Today for my brunch/lunch after a long and very tough workout at the gym i came home to a fridge full of left over vegetables and various bits and bobs remaining not eaten by my clan whilst they spent Christmas with me in Toots.

    After a good rummage through the fridge and the cupboard- baked eggs and beans it was!

    A filling meal, packed with goodness from courgette, spinach and tomatoes and a good dose of protein to help my post workout recovery. I used borlotti beans which are also a great source of protein but are also packed with iron and magnesium – good for blood pressure and also help digestion (needed after Christmas feasting!)

    Serves 2
    Olive Oil
    1 tin borlotti beans
    1 tin chopped tomatoes
    1 onion – diced
    Pinch of Chilli Flakes
    1/2 Courgette – diced
    2 Handfuls of Spinach
    4 Eggs
    Yoghurt & Sumac to serve

    Start by pre-heating the oven to 200 degs and popping the serving dishes in to warm up. This is important to ensure the eggs cook quickly and well. In a cold oven/dish the eggs will take at least 30minutes to cook and will likely go hard on top remaining uncooked inside.

    Fry the onion in a little olive oil and as it softens sprinkle chilli flakes and add the courgette.
    Once softened, add the beans and tomatoes and mix well. Add the spinach and season to taste.

    Split the mixture between two hot bowls and crack two eggs into each. Place in the hot oven and bake for 8-10minutes until the whites are no longer translucent.

    Once cooked, top with some yoghurt and sprinkle with sumac – eat with some chunky bread soldiers!

    Harissa Roasted Aubergine with Couscous & Feta Salad

    Recently I have been experimenting with vegetarian meals in a bid to cut down on my meat consumption. I could never totally give up meat – i value the protein, nutritional content and my roast dinners too much but am trying to have at least 2 veggie days per week especially on days when i dont exercise.

    Aubergines are an excellent aource of vitamin C – good for healthy skins and cells and wound healing. Aubergines also contain Vitamin K and B6 which are needed for healing, healthy blood cells and energy.

    This meal was made up of food needing to be eaten from fridge and stuff already in the cupboard and was quick, easy, light and very tasty. It was also surprisingly filling so if you are looking for a light dinner give this a go.

    Serves 1
    1 Aubergine
    1tbsp olive oil
    1tbsp harissa
    1tsp honey or agave
    1tsp lemon juice
    60g Couscous (bulgar or quinoa would also work)
    20g Feta – cubed
    Handful of Greens – i used tenderstem broccoli, asparagus and runner beans
    Handful of pomegranate seeds

    Halve the aubergine and score the flesh with a knife into criss-cross pattern. Mix together the olive oil, harissa, lemon juice and honey and generously  brush over the flesh of the aubergine. Place in the oven at 180degs for 25 minutes or until softened. To assemble the salad, cook the couscous to instructions – I usually cover with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes until cooked through. Steam any greens that you are using. Simply mix the grains, greens, feta and pomegranate seeds adding a little lemon juice, oregano and sumac for extra zing and flavour.
    Serve with the aubergine on top for a tasty, healthy, vegetarian dinner.

    Tofu Time

    I love tofu! I’m on a one woman rampage trying to convert everyone – Elix has just about gotten on board with it and the tofu rice bowl i made for dinner helped in encouraging her into the tofu fan club.

    Tofu – made by curdling fresh soya milk and allowing it to firm up as it cools is a great source of protein, calcium and iron. It helps to keep bad cholesterol low and is good for hormone balancing. Great to incorporate into your diet if you are trying to cut out meat but still want a decent amount of protein.

    Serves 2
    250g Firm Tofu
    4tbsp Cornflour
    Salt & Pepper
    Vegetable Oil
    1 Red Chilli – sliced
    1 Carrott – julienned
    1/2 Cucumber – julienned
    150g Shitake Mushrooms – sliced
    150g Spinach
    3tbsp Soy Sauce
    3tbsp Mirin
    1tsp Grated Ginger
    2tbsp Sesame Oil
    1tsp Grated Garlic
    2 servings brown rice – cooked to instructions

    This recipe requires a couple of pans to be on similtaneously so I advise prepping, chopping and measuring all the ingredients before you start to cook anything. Mix together the cornflour, salt and pepper and coat the tofu pieces. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and gently fry the tofu pieces with the aliced chilli – turn them to achieve a golden, crispy coating.
    Whilst the tofu is cooking, mix together the soy, mirin, garlic, ginger and sesame oil – fry the mushrooms in this sauce and as the mushrooms soften, mix in the spinach.
    To assemble the rice bowl, place the rice at the base and the raw carrott and cucumber on top. This gives some fresh crunch to the dish. Now place the saucy mushrooms and spinach on top and finally the crispy, chilli and tofu. Pour any remaining sauce from the mushrooms over the top for extra flavour – almost like a gravy! If you fancy, make this into a bibimbap and top with a fried egg and sriracha chilli sauce! Mix everything together into a giant mess before eating – this way you get a mouthful of all the textures and temperatures aswell as chilli and sweet, sticky sauce.

    Chicken & Vegetable Noodles with Mushroom & Miso Broth

    Summer has officially ended and I write this post on a wet Wednesday morning having had to dig my rain mac out of the wardrobe. One of the positives that this means……its the start of Elix’s favourite time of year…..SOUP SEASON! Granted she isnt here to enjoy it as she is sunning herself in Italy but I have commenced Soup season in her absence and yesterday made a tasty, comforting, healthy and nutritious Asian Chicken soup.

    Two ingredients which form the base of the soup and create a depth of earthy, umami flavour are miso and  mushrooms.

    Miso is a Japanese fermented soya paste – known for aiding digestion as it is packed with good bacteria so is a probiotic. Miso is also a good source of vitamin K which is great for healthy skin, bones and heart. For any vegetarians out there – miso is a protein source too and great for energy.

    Mushrooms are one of the best ways to get vitamin D into your diet – when we dont see the sun as much now that Autumn is upon us, this is much needed and mushrooms are the only vegetable which makes it’s own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Mushrooms are also a good source of iron, vitamin C and antioxidents.

    The recipe is fairly speedy and easy –  feel free to switch in other veggies or meat (pork would work well) – even add a soft boiled egg in if you are looking for something more filling.

    Serves 4
    2tbsp Coconut Oil
    1 leek – finely sliced
    1 clove garlic – finely diced
    1 tsp grated ginger
    3 large handfuls of mixed mushrooms – chopped. I used portobello, shitake, oyster and enoki
    1 small handful dried porini mushrooms soaked and diced
    1.5 litres vegetable stock
    1 large roast chicken breast – shredded (i used leftovers from my Sunday Roast!)
    1tsp Soy Sauce
    1tsp Mirin
    1tbsp Miso
    2 handfuls of chopped veg – i used mange tout and mini-corn
    1 handful coriander – shredded
    2 nests noodles – i used soba noodles but rice noodles or ramen would work well too
    4 Spring Onions – sliced

    Start by gently frying the leeks, garlic and ginger in the coconut oil until softened. Add the chopped fresh mushrooms and mix together. Add the porcini mushrooms – keep the soaking liquid to one side (drain through a fine seive to remove any sedement).
    Add the soy, mirin and miso stirring through and once mixed 1- add the stock and porcini liquid. When the soup has reached a simmer, add the veggies and coriander and leave bubbling for 20 minutes. For the final 5 minutes add the noodles and check for seasoning – if you want more depth, add more miso and a tiny sprinkle of soy.
    Once the noodles are cooked al dente, serve with a scatter of spring onions on top for some freshness.

    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!