Zucchini noodles with basil pesto

basil-pesto
This is a super light and tasty dish that works beautifully topped with your favourite protein and smashed avocado for a good serve of healthy fats.

Zucchinis. known as courgettes in the UK, are wonderfully alkalising vegetables rich in antioxidants. They are beneficial for eye health and contain a special type of pectin which has been linked to helping the body regulate insulin and protect against diabetes. They’re also very low in calories so perfect for those trying to lose weight or on a low-carb diet.

Like many other green leafy vegetables, basil is rich in vitamin K which plays an important role in the body helping blood clot, building healthy bones and providing support for the cardiovascular system. Basil contains flavonoids that help protect the body’s white blood cells against DNA damage and have antibacterial qualities that help protect against unwanted bacterial growth. Basil oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that may be beneficial for those with arthritis.

Basil pesto

  • 2 cups basil approx 50g
  • 50g / 1.75oz parmesan
  • 50 / 1.75oz pine nuts
  • 1 large clove of garlic/1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or 4-5 tablespoons if you like a runnier pesto that will keep a little longer in the fridge)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Place the ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth. You will end up with the consistency of a thick paste. To thin I add water when cooking but prefer not to add it when making the pesto as it doesn’t tend to keep as long. Alternatively you can add a tablespoon or two extra of olive oil when blending and this will result in a runnier, more traditional style pesto and will also help it keep longer in the fridge.

Zucchini noodles

  • 6 medium to large zucchinis / courgettes (approx 600g / 21oz)
  • 18 cherry tomatoes
  • 30g /1oz pine nuts
  • OPTIONAL: half a ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 5 minutes
  2. Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes until soft
  3. Heat a pan to a medium heat and dry cook the pine nuts for a minute or two, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Create your zucchini noodles using either a food processor, mandolin slicer or if you don’t have one you can use a good old fashioned cheese grater (obviously this won’t be as pretty but the effect will be the same)
  5. If you have time and you wish to drain out the excess liquid from the zucchinis, place them in a food colander, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so then rinse thoroughly and pat dry (I’m happy with a little extra liquid in my noodles so don’t worry about this step)
  6. If using avocado, mash it with a fork (and if you have a little fresh lemon, sprinkle a tiny bit of juice over the top to keep it nice and green)
  7. Heat a saucepan to a medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the zucchini for a minute until lightly warmed through then set aside
  8. Place 3 generous tablespoons of pesto in the pan. If you used 3 tablespoons of olive oil when making the pesto you will need to add approx 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. If you made the pesto with extra olive oil, you won’t need the water. Allow to heat and if using pesto and water stir with a wooden spool until mixed to a thin paste
  9. Return the zucchini to the pan with the pesto for a short time (less than a minute) until the pesto is mixed through the zucchini
  10. Top with the roasted baby tomatoes, pine nuts and smashed avocado (if using avocado)
  11. Serve with your favourite protein (I like poached chicken – if you’re vegetarian chickpeas work well)

Serves 2

zucchini-noodles-basil-pesto

Coconut & Lime Ceviche

IMG_7139
Ceviche is a deliciously light dish that tastes amazing and is wonderfully quick and simple to make.

Made by marinating white fish in lime juice and coconut milk, the lime juice cures the fish so that there’s no need to cook (hence no nasty fish smells in your kitchen).

Best enjoyed in summer – when limes are tasty, abundant and cheap – limes have many health promoting properties. They are rich in vitamin C and are excellent for digestive function, thanks to their natural acidity which stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes. Limes are high in flavonoids, best known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties – the latter making them good for arthritis sufferers. Limes are also said to be good for the skin (especially the oil in the skin, which is present in this dish thanks to the zest) and help regulate sugar absorption in diabetic patients.

Coconuts are a superfood of the moment and although the milk can be a little on the heavy side, you don’t actually consume a great deal in this recipe as you discard much of the marinate.

The cucumber is light and alkalising, the chilli is also good for digestion and the coriander/cilantro contains helps the body reduce swelling and inflammation.

Make sure you choose a good quality firm white fish for this dish – if unsure check with your fish monger.

Ingredients

  • Approx 500g / 18oz (2 -3 fillets) of firm white fish
  • 4 eschalots (Australia) /scallions (US) /spring onions (UK)
  • half a bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
  • quarter bunch fresh mint leaves
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 150ml/ 5fl oz coconut milk
  • 1 long red chilli (deseeded)
  • half a lebanese cucumber
  • Salt and pepper to serve
  • Extra lime wedges to serve

Method

  1. Finely zest the lime using a grater, then juice the limes and combine with the coconut milk
  2. Remove the blood line from the fish and cut into small cubes just under 1cm each side or about a third of an inch
  3. Place the fish into a glass or non-reactive bowl, cover with the lime and coconut milk marinade and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This process will cure the fish. I like to leave mine for an hour but ideally you should not leave for longer than 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, remove the inner part and finely chop the flesh then place in a sieve over a bowl and lightly salt – this will leach the excess water from the cucumber
  5. Remove the seeds from the chili (i like to use gloves for this so as not to burn my hands), wash and finely chop
  6. Finely chop the white and light green part of the spring onion
  7. Once the fish has cured, remove from the fridge and drain ensuring that you keep the coconut and lime marinade
  8. Mix the chilli, cucumber, spring onion, coriander and mint leaves through the fish and top with a little of the coconut and lime marinade (although not too much, you don’t want it to be soupy)
  9. Serve with fresh lime wedges

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish.

BBQ Steak with BBQ Vegetable Salad

steak-bbq-vegetable-salad
What better than steak on the BBQ in summer?  Steak with BBQ vegetables of course!

I love this dish as it’s another one that’s quick and easy to make with very little prep time and a relatively short cooking time.

For cooking steak on the BBQ opt for a good quality premium cut – I choose eye fillet, known in the UK as fillet steak and in the US as beef tenderloin. Always choose grass fed and grass finished beef, it tastes better and is much better for the animal and better for the planet.

Beef steak is an excellent source of protein and is high in B12, zinc and iron and the iron is steak is highly absorbable by the body.

BBQ with your favourite vegetables – here I’ve suggested capsicum (belle pepper) and eggplant (aubergine) but zucchini (courgettes) work really well too, as does broccolini drizzled with some chilli oil.

Ingredients

  • 2 x eye fillet steak fillets – approx 150g – 200g / 5.5oz – 7oz each (these instructions are for fillets around 3cm or 1 ¼ inch thick)
  • 1 medium sized eggplant/augergine
  • 1 red capsicum/belle pepper
  • 1 yellow capsicum/belle pepper
  • 80g / 3 oz rocket/arugula
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons good quality balsamic
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Heat the BBQ to a high heat (for most BBQs you’ll need to allow at least 5 minutes to heat)
  2. Slice the eggplant/aubergine into slices approx 1.5cm or just over half an inch thick and drizzle with a little oil
  3. Cut the capsicum/belle pepper into chucks approx 2cm or ¾ of an inch thick and also drizzle with a little oil
  4. Place on the BBQ – the eggplant will need to cook for approx 10 minutes each side until golden brown. The capsicum will need to cook turning several times for about 12-15 minutes until lightly charred but not too black
  5. Season the steak on both sides and drizzle with a little olive oil olive oil (it should be lightly covered in oil all over)
  6. Place the steak on the BBQ and cook for approx 3 minutes each side then turn and cook for an additional 1.5 minutes each side for a medium-rare steak or an additional or 2-3 minutes each side if you prefer it more cooked.
  7. Remove the steak from the BBQ, cover in foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes
  8. When the vegetables are done, remove from the BBQ
  9. Cut the cherry tomatoes in two and place in a large salad bowl with the rocket/arugala
  10. Mix through half the capsicum/belle peppers and eggplant/aubergine (place the other half in the fridge, it will keep for several days and make a delicious marinated-style vegetable addition to your salads)
  11. Mix 1.5 tablespoons olive oil and 1.5 tablespoons balsamic, drizzle over the salad and mix through well
  12. Serve with the BBQ steak

 

Serves 2

Tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad with eggplant and poached chicken

poached-chicken-buffalo-mozzarella-salad

In my opinion, buffalo mozzarella is one of the most delicious foods on earth – particularly when served with fresh ripe tomatoes and basil. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that milk and milk products from the domestic buffalo are easier on the digestive system that cow’s milk and cheese. Buffalo milk (and cheese) is also thought to help those with eczema and psoriasis and be beneficial for those with irritable bowel syndrome.

Rocket (known in the US as arugala) is a lesser known cruciferous vegetable (think broccoli, cauliflower and kale) and is high in vitamins K and A and provides a bitter flavour that is complimented wonderfully by the balsamic dressing.

For extra protein, I like to mix through some poached chicken breast which on its own can be bland but in this dish provides a good textural balance and a light flavour that doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 large chicken breast (choose organic or free range)
  • 1 buffalo mozzarella (approximately 125g)
  • 100g rocket (you can substitute with mixed salad leaves)
  • 14 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced horizontally so that the pieces are about 1.5cm or half an inch thick
  • half an avocado
  • half a dozen basil leaves
  • 4 medium sized button mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons good quality balsamic
  • 3 generous tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt and pepper
  2. Add the chicken breast and ensure that it’s completely covered by the water, then cover the saucepan with a lid and reduce the heat to a low simmer
  3. Allow to cook for 15 minutes and check to make sure the chicken is cooked through. If not cook for a few minutes more ensuring not to overcook (otherwise it will become rubbery). Remove from the heat and allow to cool
  4. Meanwhile, bring a char grill pan to a medium high heat and while it’s heating brush the eggplant with ~2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place in the pan and cook for approximately 7 minutes each side until nicely charred then remove from the heat and set aside
  5. Place the remaining olive oil and balsamic in a small glass jar with a lid and mix well
  6. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and tear the basil leaves so that there’s enough to place on each of the tomatoes. Add to a salad bowl and combine with the salad leaves, avocado and mushrooms if you’re using them, then mix through half to 2 thirds of the dressing as required
  7. Divide into 2 bowls and place half the eggplant on top of each
  8. Tear the buffalo mozzarella and divide evenly between the two bowls
  9. Once the chicken has cooked down slice it and place half on each of the salads then drizzle with the remaining dressing

Serves 2

Cauliflower cous cous salad with rocket and goat’s cheese

cauliflour-rocket-moroccan-salad
This salad is another mid week star. It’s delicious, quick and easy to make and loaded with nutrition plus it’s wonderful for the digestive system thanks to the cumin seeds and fresh mint leaves.

I’ve written lots of posts on this blog about the health benefits of cauliflower. It’s a cruciferous vegetable that’s high in vitamin C, rich in antioxidants and has been credited for its cancer fighting properties.

Rocket/arugula is a lesser known cruciferous vegetable that contains some of the common compounds that give cruciferous vegetables their bitter taste. It’s thought that these compounds (glucosinolates) may be key to their cancer fighting properties. Rocket also contains high nitrate levels which are thought to help lower blood pressure.

Add this dish to your repertoire of recipes to help support your body in obtaining nutrients from a wide range of unprocessed foods.

Ingredients

  • Half a small to medium cauliflower
  • Half a medium sized onion (choose brown or red), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 100g/3.5 oz rocket/arugala
  • Good handful of fresh mint leaves
  • Good handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 60g/2oz good quality goat’s cheese
  • Palmful of tamari almonds (around 30g or 1oz) – roughly chopped
  • OPTIONAL: palmful of dried currants (around 30g or 1oz)

Method

  1. Trim the cauliflower florets from the stem and place in a food processor. Whizz until the cauliflower resembles the consistency of cous cous
  2. Heat a frying pan to a medium-high heat and add the olive oil then fry the onion and cumin seeds until translucent
  3. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and fry for around 5 minutes until the cauliflower is tender (taste it – it should taste lightly cooked). Add a little water if the pan starts to get dry
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and place in a large mixing bowl, allowing to cool slightly
  5. Add the rocket, mint and coriander to the cauliflower mixture and dress with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice
  6. Crumble the goat’s cheese and mix through – if using currants add them at this time also
  7. Sprinkle with the choped tamari almonds and serve

Delicious topped with poached chicken or served with white fish

Serves 2