Roast beetroot, sweet potato and baby spinach salad

spinach-roast-beet-kumera-salad

This is a delicious salad that’s packed with nutrition. Baby spinach is a rich in vitamins and minerals (particularly iron), beetroot is renown for its antioxidant qualities and is an excellent source of folic acid (essential for women in the early stages of pregnancy), sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene and vitamin B6 and pine nuts are rich in health promoting fats and vitamin E. Interestingly, the green beetroot leaves are richer in iron than spinach so reserve them and add to smoothies, juices or soups.

I often prepare the ingredients at the weekend so that I can mix up a salad either for lunch or dinner in around 5 minutes. The roasted vegetables last for several days in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized beetroots
  • 1 large sweet potato (or kumera)
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 50g/2 oz pine nuts
  • 50g/2 oz goat’s cheese
  • 30ml/2 tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

Dressing

  • 1.5 tablespoons quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees for a fan forced oven).

Peel the beetroots and sweet potato/kumera. Cut the sweet potato sideways into coin shaped pieces that are approximately 1.5cm or half an inch thick. Once complete, quarter each of the coins so that they’re around 2cm x 2cm in width. Add to a large bowl, toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add to the back end of a baking tray.

Next cut the beetroot into chunks that are around 2.5cm x 2.5cm. Add to a large bowl and toss in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place at the front of the baking tray that you’ve already added the sweet potato to (the reason for putting the sweet potato at the back and the beetroot at the front is because the beetroot takes slightly longer to cook so placing in the hotter part of the oven should address this).

Roast for around 1 hour and 15 minutes until the sweet potato starts to brown and the beetroot has turned a deeper shade of purple. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Just before you’re ready to serve, warm a frying pan to a medium-high heat and once hot add the pine nuts. Toast for around two minutes, tossing the nuts every 30 seconds or so to ensure they don’t burn. Note that pine nuts cook quickly so as soon as they start to turn brown remove from the heat and transfer to a large salad bowl. Add the baby spinach, roast beetroot, sweet potato and goat’s cheese (crumble this through) and mix through the salad dressing.

Makes 2 large salads or 4 side salads.

spinach-roast-beet-sweet-potato-salad

How to make a delicious kale salad

rainbow-salad-2

Hailed as a super food for good reason, Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition. One of nature’s richest sources of Vitamin K, it helps the body fight heart disease and osteoporosis. Its high beta-carotene content (which the body transforms into Vitamin A) aids cell growth and supports the body’s immune system. It’s also mineral dense, high in antioxidants and full of fibre. Best of all, Kale grows easily and is generally inexpensive to buy.

Personally, I have found that regularly incorporating Kale into my diet has helped improve my digestive health and boost my overall wellbeing.

Three tips for making a great kale salad

It took me a while to work out how best to regularly incorporate Kale into my diet. It’s a cruciferous vegetable with a dense texture that needs a lot of chewing and tends to have a somewhat bitter flavour.

I’ve found the secret to making a good kale salad lies in a three simple steps:

    1. Firstly you need to finely chop the kale, this reduces the chewiness and makes it more manageable to eat
    2. Secondly you need to add some tasty ingredients to balance the flavour.  Sweet vegetables like carrot and beetroot balance the bitterness of the kale and the addition of avocado balances the texture. I also really like to add some good quality goat’s cheese to the salad – the slightly tart flavour compliments the bitterness beautifully
    3. Finally, it’s important to get the dressing right. In my opinion a lemon based dressing works best.

kale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of finely chopped kale (around a third to half a bunch)
  • 50-60g /2oz goat’s cheese
  • 1 medium to large carrot – grated
  • 1 small beetroot – grated
  • Half an avocado
  • Optional: 1 cup of cooked quinoa (ideally activated) OR
  • Optional: half a cup of tamari almonds (ideally activated)

Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Equal parts olive oil (this will depend on how much juice your lemon renders but should equal around 3-4 tablespoons)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of dijon mustard

Method

Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems, wash and drain thoroughly. Finely chop and add to a large salad bowl. Cut the avocado into cubes around 1cm /half an inch in size and add to the bowl, then grate in the carrot and beetroot and add the quinoa if you’re using it (if you’re using tamari almonds instead, avoid mixing these through until just before you’re ready to serve).

Separately, make the dressing by juicing the lemon and adding the juice to a jar with a lid along with the olive oil and dijon mustard. Shake well.

Pour around a third of the dressing over the salad and mix through. Taste to ensure there’s enough dressing for your palette, if not add a little more. Once you’re happy with the flavour, crumble the goat’s cheese into the salad and mix again. At least half the dressing should remain – reserve this for your next salad.

If you’re using almonds, mix these through just serving to ensure they retain their crunchiness.

Serves 2 for a large salad each of 4 as a side dish.

Corn Fritters

corn-fritters-3

These corn fritters make a delicious savoury breakfast, and help you get your vegies in early in the day. Choose organic corn (unfortunately regular corn is typically genetically modified), and if you’re vegan choose an egg substitute.

Ingredients

Corn Fritters

  • 2 organic corn cobs (medium sized) OR one 400g tin or 14oz can of organic tinned corn
  • 2 large organic/free range eggs
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped (or substitute with half a leek, finely chopped)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 x tablespoons olive oil (30ml, ¼ of a cup)
  • Half a cup of buckwheat flour (around 70g)
  • ½ teaspoon of good quality mineral salt such as Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra oil to grease the frying pan (around a tablespoon)

Topping

  • half an avocado
  • 2 tomatoes or half a dozen cherry tomatoes (choose red and yellow if available)
  • half a dozen basil leaves, chopped

Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon good quality aged balsamic

Method

If you have time, steam the corn for 20 minutes, allow to cool then with a knife remove the corn kernels from the cob and set aside. The corn will keep in the fridge for several days so you can steam in advance. If you prefer, use a tin of organic corn kernels, draining the liquid.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork for around 20 seconds, then add the oil and stir in the buckwheat flour, salt and pepper until the dry mixture has been completely absorbed by the wet mixture. Add the corn kernels, spring onions and parsley, mix well.

Heat a frying pan to a medium heat. Once hot, add enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan. The mixture will make 6 fritters around 5cm or 2 inches in diameter. Fry the fritters in 2 batches (making 3 at a time). The first side will take around 5 minutes and the second side around 3-4 minutes.

While you’re cooking the fritters, chop the tomatoes and basil and separately mash the avocado. Mix the olive oil and balsamic to make a dressing.

Once the fritters are cooked, spread with mashed avocado and top with the tomato and basil mixture then drizzle with the balsamic dressing.

Serves 4

corn-fritters-4

 

Chilled Chia Breakfast Pudding

chia_porridge

Hailed as a super food with good reason, Chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, loaded with antioxidants and high in fibre.

If you like the texture of tapioca, this is a tasty and nutricious breakfast option that only takes a minute or so to make before you go to bed. Pop it in the fridge and it’s ready to eat in the morning. Serve with your favourite fruit and nuts and it will keep you satiated all morning.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 cups coconut milk (you can use almond milk if you prefer but I find the coconut milk gives a better flavour)
  • Half a cup of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of stevia (equivalent to one heaped teaspoon of sugar) OPTIONAL

Mix ingredients together well, pop in the fridge overnight (around 8 hours is good but anything over 6 is ok).

Serve topped with your favourite fruit and activated nuts (hazelnuts and almonds work well).

Simple sugar-free Thai salad

thai-salad

If you love Thai salads but prefer not to use processed sugar, this recipe is a great option that doesn’t compromise on taste. The dressing is made with rice malt syrup which is fructose free, and if you choose a high quality fish sauce – naturally fermented and without sugar – you can’t go wrong.

For the salad itself, I’ve suggested ingredients that work well for me but play around with whatever you like and what’s on hand at home.

Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lime (around 3 tablespoons)
  • 1.5 tablespoons fish sauce (choose a good quality, unsweetened variety – Red Boat 40°N from Vietnam is wonderful if you can find it)
  • 1.5 tablespoons rice malt syrup

Place ingredients into a small jar, seal and shake well. Set aside.

Salad

  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 medium size carrot
  • 6 snow peas
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 4 medium sized button mushrooms
  • handful coriander leaves
  • handful mint leaves
  • half a cup of cashews

Method

Peel and julienne the carrots (cut lengthways into sticks that are around the size and thickness of two matchsticks put together). Similarly, cut the cucumber lengthways into pieces a little bigger than the carrots. Peel and chop the mushrooms and add to a salad bowl with the other vegetables and beansprouts. Tear the mint and coriander leaves and add to the vegetables then stir through the dressing (you’ll only need a third to a half – the rest will keep in the fridge for several weeks). Just before serving, sprinkle with the cashew nuts.

This salad is lovely topped with garlic prawns or with some poached or roast chicken.

Serves 2

Crispy Skin Fish

IMG_2510-0.JPG

Steven Hodges at Fish Face restaurant taught me how to make crispy skin fish. This is a simple recipe that’s incredibly tasty and takes less than 15 minutes to make. It works with a variety of different fish fillets so choose your favourite and serve with salad or vegies for a light evening meal. Add some boiled new potatoes, brown rice or quinoa if you need something more substantial.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 x fillets of your preferred fish, skin on – I use snapper, bass grouper, salmon or ocean trout
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Quarter of a lemon

Method

Note: these instructions are for fillets that are around 2.5cm in thickness, cooking time will require longer if you use thicker fillets.

Heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees for a strong fan forced oven – it’s generally recommended to allow 10 minutes for the oven to reach a full, even heat.

A few minutes after you’ve turned your oven on, heat a stainless steel pan on high for 3-5 minutes – until hot.

Add ghee to the pan and allow to heat for around 30 seconds or until sizzling hot. Add your fish, skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. Your fish will cook evenly if you can put a weight on the fillets or if it’s safe use your fingers to push down on the fillets.

Remove from heat and place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes if you like your fish just cooked or 7-8 minutes if you like your fish well done. If you’re not confident putting your pan in the oven, quickly transfer the fillets from the pan to an oven-proof dish and cook skin side down for 6 minute or 8 minutes if you like your fish well done.

Sprinkle the Maldon sea salt over the skin of the fish and serve with a slice of lemon and a salad or vegies on the side, plus something more substantial if you need it.

Easy Turkey Bolognese

turkey-bolognaise-3

This is a quick and easy recipe for turkey bolognese which is substantially leaner than its traditional counterpart without compromising on taste.

It can double as a dish for the health conscious as well as a more conventional family meal. I eat mine with cauliflower rice (pictured) and a side of broccoli, while my partner likes his served in a more traditional way with pasta and parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons/60ml extra virgin olive oil (choose first cold pressed)
  • 500g/approx 1lb turkey mince (free range or organic if you can find it)
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of finely chopped garlic or 1 heaped teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of dried Italian herbs
  • 800g /approx 27 fl oz of tinned/canned tomatoes – crushed or diced (I choose organic as they’re generally easy to find in the supermarket)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper (depending on how much you like – I use around a quarter of a teaspoon of himalayan crystal salt)

Method

Heat a pan (preferably stainless steel rather than non-stick) on a medium high heat for around 3 minutes. Add the olive oil and let it heat for 15 seconds or so, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until golden brown. Add the turkey mince and cook for around 90 seconds on each side (it should brown and look cooked through), then add the tinned/canned tomatoes, Italian herbs, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Reduce to a low to medium heat and cook for another 20 minutes. It will be ready to serve now, however if you have time leave it for an hour or even overnight and the flavour will develop.

Chicken Souvlaki

chicken-souvlaki

This is one of my fiancé’s favourite home cooked meals. Succulent chicken skewers served with a fresh salad and plenty of tzatziki. It takes only around 10 minutes to prepare and marinate the meat then another 25 minutes to prepare and cook

Note that this dish needs to be cooked either on a BBQ or in a grill pan.

Ingredients

  • The marinade will suffice for up to 8 good size boneless chicken thighs (choose organic or free range, if using organic they’re generally smaller so you may like to use a little extra)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (I find this usually makes about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon minced garlic or 2 good sized garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 – 8 skewers (I use bamboo but if you have stainless steel skewers these are great too)

Marinating the Chicken

You’ll need to marinate the chicken – preferably in a glass dish, for at least 2 hours but ideally overnight (the longer the better really).

Juice the lemon and add to the marinating dish along with the olive oil, oregano and garlic.

Trim the fat from the chicken thighs and cut into even size chunks around 2cm/1 inch square or a little larger if you like. It’s important to try to cut the chicken into roughly even size chunks so that they cook evenly.

Add the chicken thighs to the marinade and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

To Cook

Preheat the BBQ to high for around 10 minutes. If using a grill pan I usually find it only needs to be heated to a high heat for around 5 minutes.

If using bamboo skewers, most recipes will tell you to soak them in water for a couple of minutes before placing them on the BBQ to prevent them from burning or catching alight, however I’ve never really found this necessary.

Skewer the meat into even size skewers. Depending on how much meat you marinated you should have at least 5-6 skewers, if you like smaller size skewers or are serving more people you can stretch to 8 skewers.

Place on the BBQ/in the grill pan. I find it usually takes around 15 minutes to cook. Start with around 5 minutes on one side then turn and cook for around 5 minutes on the other side then a couple of minutes each on the other sides (I like to cook my meat on all four sides as we love the char grilled flavour and of course it’s imperative to cook chicken through).

While you’re cooking the meat, make your tzatziki. Serve with a Greek or garden salad.

Tzatziki

tzatziki

Ingredients

  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • ½ cup natural Greek yoghurt
  • half a teaspoon of good quality, finely ground salt such as Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic sea salt
  • half a teaspoon minced garlic or a large garlic clove, finely chopped (if you’re a fan of garlic, add a bit more – tasting as you go to get the desired flavour)

Method

Peel the cucumber and finely chop it. Place in a sieve sitting over a bowl with enough room under the sieve to give the liquid space to drain. Sprinkle a little salt over the cucumber and allow to sit for at least 5 to 10 minutes (or a little longer if you have time). The process will leech the liquid from the cucumber and prevent the tzatziki from becoming watery.

Once complete, mix the cucumber with the Greek yoghurt and garlic and taste. If you like salt, add a little extra – same with the garlic.

The tzatziki makes a perfect accompaniment to my chicken souvlaki.

Quinoa and Chia Bread

quinoa-chia-bread

This is a delicious bread that’s dense and nutritious. I generally bake, allow to stand for a day then slice and place in the freezer. It’s great served with poached or boiled eggs, nut butter or a sweet preserve.

Before I had a food processor I used to make it in a blender (not ideal but it works fine enough).

Ingredients

  • 500g / 17.5oz quinoa (whole, uncooked – use any colour or a mixture of colours)
  • 100g / 3.5oz  chia seeds
  • 100ml / 3.4fl oz or 6.5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • decent pinch of salt and pepper (to your liking)
  • juice of half a lemon (approx 30ml or 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 x tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Method

Overnight:

  • Activate the quinoa by soaking it in water over night (cover the quinoa with plenty of water)
  • Soak the chia seeds in around 3/4 cup of water – the substance will set

To prepare:

  1. Grease a loaf baking tin
  2. If your coconut oil is set, place the container in some hot water to allow it to become runny
  3. Drain the quinoa and rinse thoroughly. Add to your food processor (or blender if you don’t have one)
  4. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 355 degrees Fahrenheit (10 minutes should be sufficient to allow the oven to fully heat)
  5. Add the chia mixture, coconut oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and 3/4 cup of water to the food processor (or blender)
  6. Blend on low for a couple of minutes until it forms a batter. Be careful not to liquify the whole mixture, at least half of the quinoa should remain whole
  7. Bake for 75 minutes. It should be firm but springy to touch. Insert a skewer to test, it should come out clean. If not bake for a further 15 minutes
  8. Leave to cool before slicing. I often leave overnight so that the bread doesn’t crumble when sliced, then cut into pieces approx 1.5com or half an inch thick. Keep in the fridge or place in an airtight container and freeze – it will keep in the freezer for several months

quinoa-chia-bread-2