Tag Archives: nutrition

Pappardelle with Courgette, Squash & Ricotta topped with Basil Oil

Last night’s dinner was a summer pasta using leftovers – leftovers which happened to be packed with loads of good stuff – making this a super nutritious meal aswell as being very tasty too!

Butternut Squash contains tonnes of vitamin A which is great to keep the immune system on good form aswell as protecting cells with its antioxidant properties. The courgette is low in calories and a good source of potassium which is great for keeping blood pressure nice and regular. Basil is also great and is a wonderful source of Vitamin K which keeps our blood system working properly and keeps our bones healthy. Finally the ricotta is a great protein source also containing calcium and omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids helping prevent cancer and aiding body health.

Serves 2

2 servings Pappardelle

Olive Oil

1/4 Butternut Squash – diced

1 Courgette – sliced

3 Cloves Garlic – minced

Salt & Pepper

4 tbsp Ricotta

12 Basil leaves – roughly chopped

Zest of One Lemon

Pop the pasta into some boiling water and cook as per instructions- once ready, drain and leave to one side, reserving the pasta water.

Now make the basil oil. Mix together the torn or chopped basil leaves with two minced garlic clove, lemon zest, salt, pepper and olive oil – leave to one side to infuse.

For the main dish lightly fry the squash with the remaining garlic until softened. Add some black pepper for taste. Once the squash is cooked, add the fresh courgette for 2 minutes – its needs to soften slightly but not cook through. Finally add the pappardelle and mix together. If the mixture looks dry add some reserved pasta water to loosen. Take off the heat and stir in the ricotta – it doesn’t need to fully mix through, i find the little clumps of ricotta lovely and fresh with the pasta.

Drizzle over the basil oil at the table and serve alongside a fresh salad – i made lemon cavolo nero and tomatoes with fried garlic oil. Simply massage lemon juice and salt into chopped cavolo nero, add the tomatoes. Slice 3 cloves of garlic and fry in olive oil until crisp – drizzle this over the salad and mix together.

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What to do when you have too much Spaghetti

Since Elix moved to Singapore I have had to be more mindful of how much food I am buying/eating to ensure I am not being wasteful. After an unfortunate incident when some bicarbonate of soda fell out of my packed cupboard all over the beginnings of a noodle salad, I decided to start using up the food I already have in my fridge, cupboard and freezer to waste less, save more and create some much needed space.

The cupboard contained nearly every type of pasta you can imagine aswell as four varieties of dried italian herbs and spices that I had picked up during trips to Florence, Sicily and Bologna. I also found two bags of frozen broad beans in the freezer and 3 portions of chorizo from when we didn’t get round to cooking paella over Christmas.

Anyway – these recipes were made by using only food I already had in, were super easy and very tasty – even if I do say so myself.

Both recipes served just me and were made with wholewheat Spaghetti- boiled for 8minutes until al dente.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower, Chorizo & Broad Beans

Roast 1/4 head of cauliflower in the oven for 30minutes until caramelised. Boil a large handful of broad beans for 5minutes – de-pod and leave to one side. In a shallow frying pan, fry the diced chorizo (i used 1/4 of a whole one) as it begins to crisp up add a clove of diced garlic. Mix for a couple of minutes and add the cauliflower and broad beans. Drain the pasta – add in a teaspoon of dried chilli and oregano and mix together with olive oil. Finally on a very gentle heat, add the chorizo, cauliflower and beans to the pasta. Mix and heat through and serve.

Spaghetti with Garlic & Basil Courgettes & Tenderstem Broccoli

This one is super quick and simple. Boil the tenderstem for 4minutes. Meanwhile slice the courgettes and place in a dry pan letting them char a little. Turn the heat off, add the broccoli and a handful of ripped basil and mix together with a drizzle of olive oil. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and put back in the saucepan on a low heat. Add a generous glug of olive oil and some dried oregano, parsley and a little dried chilli. Mix together and add the greens. Serve with a sprinkling of grated parmigiana and 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!