Lamb and halloumi kebabs

IMG_5718I was at a friend’s house for dinner just last week, and she served me this dish. Upon complimenting her on it she reminded me it was one of mine! I’d completely forgotten about it, but I decided to take a quick snap of it, and thought I’d share the recipe once more.

A favourite from my detoxes, this delicious lamb dish is just great for lunches, and dinners. Cook under the grill or in the summer on the bbq, it’s clean, lean, and filling (and has a squeaky cheese treat!)

Ingredients (serves 4)

Kebab:
1/2kg lean boneless lamb leg or shoulder, cut into 2.5cm/1inch cubes
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint or oregano
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
100g halloumi cheese, cut into small cubes

Salad:
1 bag local salad leaves
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
Handful coriander / thyme
1/2 mango, cubed
Balsamic vinegar to dress the salad

Place all the kebab ingredients into a large, shallow dish, toss gently, cover and leave to marinate for up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Thread the lamb and cheese on to 8 short or 4 long wooden (previously soaked in water) or metal skewers.

Cook the kebabs on a prepared barbecue or preheated grill for 12-16 minutes, turning occasionally until any meat juices run clear.

Assemble the salad. Serve kebabs with the salad and enjoy!

Warm early Spring quinoa salad

IMG_5722Spring keeps showing it’s tells – the flashes of colour from flowers, warm sun in sheltered spots, and yet, and yet – it’s still teasing us.

When it comes to eating healthful meals, I know I’m not quite ready for salad season to begin. I still need some bone-warming comfort foods to see me through the day.

The other day I happened upon winter purslane and wow! It’s a slightly strange beast, but utterly delicious. Kind of spinachy, yet not as tough. Kind of watercress-like but with a curious mild flavour. Watery, yet firm. Juicy.

I thought I’d investigate further and then create a recipe that’s quick, clean, lean, and packs a nutritional punch.

Winter Purslane, miners lettuce, or Claytonia Perfoliata (spring beauty, miner’s lettuce, winter purslane, or Indian lettuce; syn. Montia perfoliata) can be grown before the sun warms the soil – in fact, it can be grown all year round. Used raw in salads, (or it can be steamed – personally that seems like a waste to me, so delicious is it raw) it is rich in vitamin C, essential for growth and repair in your body.

To grow, you sew the seeds in August for harvest November to March, so it’s one I’ve noted for my winter sowing this year!

To eat, you could pair it with so much, it’s a truly versatile leaf. In this case, I wanted to create a comforting, quick-to-prepare quinoa ‘stew’ flavoured with garlic and the greener part of the leek. With jewel-like gratings of sweet potato to add depth, and pumpkin seeds to add a crunch and omega-3 boost, Here’s my recipe (pictured)

Warm early spring quinoa salad (serves 2)

Ingredients

Salad:
Large portion of winter purslane, washed carefully and dried

Dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 dessert spoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard (I prefer french)

Quinoa:
2/3 mug quinoa
1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon (or cook with homemade vegetable stock if you have some)
Half sweet potato, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
3″ green part of leek, finely chopped
Teaspoon coconut oil
Generous sprinkling pumpkin seeds

Method

Carefully wash the winter purslane, and divide between two bowls. Whisk up the dressing ingredients, and coat the purslane in it.

Rinse the quinoa, and then place in a pan with double the amount of water. Bring to the boil on a medium heat, then add the grated sweet potato simmer gently until the water has boiled away (about 10-15 mins).

While this is cooking, in a frying pan, gently fry the leek in some coconut oil, adding the garlic 5 minutes into cooking. You’re looking for the leek to be softened, rather than browned.

Once they’re both cooked, mix the quinoa and the garlic leeks together, and throw in a handful of pumpkin seeds.

Sit, savour the flavours and enjoy, knowing that warmer weather is on the way.

Goats cheese and fennel omelette

A fabulous quick lunch which will keep you full well into the afternoon.
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 desert spoon coconut oil
2 eggs, whisked (with a splash of milk and salt & pepper)
Small handful broccoli, cut into small (1-2 cm florets)
Small handful fresh fennel, sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
Sprig thyme
1/2 small round goats cheese
Portion baby spinach
Squeeze of lemon
Sprinkle of seed mix (for this recipe I use ‘Omega sprinkle’ from Holland & Barrett)

Whisk the eggs, splash of milk, and seasoning. Set to one side.

Heat half the oil in a pan on a medium heat until melted, then add the broccoli, fennel, and spring onion, and fry until softened, and just starting to brown. Remove from pan.

Add the remaining oil, keeping the pan on a medium heat.

Put the eggs in the pan, and cook for a minute, then add the cooked veg. Tear the goats cheese and distribute on the omlette, along with some thyme leaves. It should look a little like this:

Goatscheeseomlettecooking

When the egg is still a little runny, fold the omelette and cook for a few minutes longer.

Serve with the baby spinach, a squeeze of lemon, a handful of seeds, et voila! Bon apetit!

GoatsCheeseOmlette

Clean vegetable thai green curry

This simple, yet delicious dish serves 2-4. Great to eat as leftovers – not so great to freeze due to courgettes and peppers it has become a firm favourite in our house especially when we’re in the mood for being indulgent!

Prep time is around 15 mins, and it’ll take 2-25 mins to cook.

 

Ingredients:
1 medium onion
1 large / 2 small courgette, sliced
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1” squares
1/4 butternut squash, cut into 1” squares
1 small packet mange tout / green beans
1 red pepper, sliced
1-2 tsps Thai green curry paste

Prawns or other fish to add if you fancy it.

2 cans coconut milk (or if you’re on a budget, you can swap a tin of coconut milk for a tin’s worth of vegetable, chicken or fish stock)

1-2 teaspoons thai green curry paste (depends on how hot you like it! If you start with one, you can always add a second once you’ve tasted after adding the coconut milk).

Method
Sweat the onion for a couple of minutes, then add the sweet potato, and squash and stir. Add the curry paste, pepper, courgette and mange tout/green beans, stir, then add the coconut milk, cooking for around 20 mins until the veg are soft and yielding.

If you fancy some meat or fish in it, add in chicken at the beginning, or fish 5 mins before the end of cooking time.

Serve on a bed of steamed kale, or broccoli florets, or wilted spinach.

Spicy mexican red kidney bean burgers

Spicy Mexican Bean Burgers

Today, I’ve been trying to figure out a simple bean burger recipe without breadcrumbs, which maintains a nice firm texture, and all the magnificent flavours mexican cooking brings.

The recipe which follows hits the mark, I reckon!

I like my burgers pretty spicy, so you may like to reduce the amount of chilli to give just a hint of spice. And don’t hold back with the herbs and seasoning – it’s what brings the magic to these tasty burgers.

Ingredients (makes 4 burgers):

1 medium onion
Generous handful coriander
1 clove garlic
2 tsp lazy chilli (or fresh chilli to taste)
1/2 lime
Salt & pepper to season

1 egg, beaten

100g oatmeal (plus extra to roll burger in)
1 tin red kidney beans, rinsed

Baby spinach / lettuce, 1/2 avocado, 1 sliced tomato, coriander to serve.

Method:
Preheat your grill to a medium heat, and grease the tray / foil you’ll cook on.

In a food processor, mix up the onion, coriander, garlic, chilli and lime to a paste. Mash the kidney beans roughly with a potato masher.

Mix the onion, garlic, chilli and lime paste into the beans, along with 1 egg and the oatmeal thoroughly. At this point, the mixture will seem pretty gloopy, but don’t worry, cooking it firms it up beautifully.

On a separate plate, sprinkle a generous handful of oatmeal, evenly. Carefully take a burger-sized portion of the mix, and shape it into a burger shape then put it onto the oatmeal. Shape the mix into a pattie, then very carefully, turn it over so the entire pattie is covered with oatmeal.

Drizzle a little olive oil over the burger, then transfer to the grill and cook on one side until the topping is golden brown, carefully turning to finish the other side. All in all, around 10-15 minutes under a medium heat grill.

Serve:
On a bed of baby spinach or crispy lettuce, with sliced avocado and tomato and some fresh coriander.

If you feel the need to splurge a little, melt some goats cheese on top, or add spoon of natural yoghurt.

Store the mix in the fridge, and you can use it the following day. A delicious, sustaining lunch or dinner!

Salmon, avocado & goats cheese salad

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If you’re after a light lunch in between a day of heavier festive fare, a starter, or snack, this fits the bill a treat and feels indulgent, even though it’s a great clean meal which delivers a whole host of nutrients – from vitamins, to omega 3’s and healthy fats.

Ingredients:

4oz smoked salmon
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/2 capricorn goats cheese
Generous portion baby spinach and rocket
Squeeze lime juice, splash olive oil
Generous handful of pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Method:

Mix the baby spinach, avocado, rocket & seeds in a a bowl with the lime juice and oil. Top with torn goats cheese and rolls of smoked salmon, arranged attractively on the plate.

Et voila! A quick, refreshing, yet festive, and deliciously healthy meal. Enjoy, taking time to savour the flavours.

Chicken, avocado & fig salad with cinnamon rice

Chicken, avocado and fig salad with cinnamon rice

This is a firm family favourite with delicious and satisfying flavours which will thrill your tastebuds as well as keep you full and satisfied for a long time.

The cinnamon rice is adapted from a Tott family recipe handed down through the generations and influenced by Greek Cypriot roots – where cinnamon is a favourite spice. The recipe traditionally uses white basmati, but I have modified it and now use wholegrain to lower the GI and make it more sustaining.

Portion size for one. (Double quantities for two)
Fist-sized portion of cooked chicken (lean breast)
1/2 avocado
1 fig
Generous serving of raw spinach
A slice of lime
Crack of black pepper

Cinnamon rice to serve 4
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
1 clove finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 mug wholegrain rice
2 mugs chicken stock

Method:

Cinnamon rice: Soften the onion and garlic in a pan with the coconut oil over a medium heat. Rinse the rice thoroughly. When the onion is translucent, stir in the cinnamon and rice until everything is coated evenly in the oil and spice. Add the rinsed rice and chicken stock (‘real’ – click here for my easy recipe, or from a cube) and stir. Bring the pan to the boil, then turn down to a simmer until the water has boiled away and the rice is cooked (approximately 20 minutes). Keep a check on it as you may need to add more water – wholegrain rice can be quite thirsty! )

To serve:
On a large bed of spinach add a fist-sized portion of the rice. Arrange the chicken, avocado and fig. Squeeze the lime over the salad, add the black pepper and enjoy!

 

Salmon with ginger & thyme butternut squash, green beans & broccoli

As my husband will testify, I have become more and more interested in the food we eat, and how it can affect our health. A few months ago, I began to experiment with ‘eating clean’ – that is, to eliminate pretty much all processed foods from our diets, and prepare meals based on loads of health-giving, nutrient-rich organic greens and veg, lean meats, oily fish, the ‘right’ fats, and wholegrain foods – complex carbohydrates with a low GI.

In combination with a new exercise regime, I found that my weight dropped, my hair & skin began to glow more, and my energy levels skyrocketed. It was almost unbelievable to see the changes, so I’ve set myself a little mission to start compiling my experiments in the kitchen, as well as things exercise-wise I’m learning and sharing it online so that you can benefit from my experience. I’m not quite sure yet where this blog is going to take us, but I hope you’ll join me for some delicious experimentations in the kitchen and a small step towards living a healthier life. It’s worth it, I guarantee.

So today, I wanted to share a quick and simple recipe, which I usually enjoy for dinner but would also be a yummy lunch too. The warming ginger & comforting thyme complement the sticky, caramelised butternut squash beautifully, and complement the soft salmon flesh and crunchy al-dente veg perfectly.

For many reasons, in all my recipes, I will be recommending that you buy the best quality ingredients you can afford, ideally local, and organic. This will help to ensure they are as nutrient-dense as they could be. The better quality soil a food is grown in, the more nutrients it will contain, and the better it will be for your body. Think about buying from your local fishmonger, or greengrocers, or maybe even a local market – there are also some great bargains to be had by buying towards the end of the day.

I also recommend steaming the veg to maintain their nutrients.

Steamed salmon with ginger and thyme butternut squash, green beans and broccoli 

8oz butternut squash, cubed, 1cm
Generous handful of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 dessert spoon coconut oil (you can buy it in Holland and Barrett. Make sure you buy organic).
1 teaspoon Agave nectar (a natural, organic syrup from cactus – you can find it in Holland & Barrett)
Top and tailed green beans

Generous serving of broccoli

Method: Salmon: Take each salmon fillet and slice of lemon and wrap in it’s own large square of tin foil – secure it tightly so no air can escape and leave enough airspace space for the salmon to steam. Place in the oven and cook for 12-15 mins (I usually check at 12 mins to make sure it’s not overcooking). You’ll know it’s ready when it’s a paler pink than when raw, and yielding to the touch. Butternut squash: add the cubed butternut squash and thyme to a medium sized pan of cold water, bring to the boil, continue boiling for 2 minutes, then take out the cubes and set aside. Heat your coconut oil in a medium sized frying pan until hot, then add the thyme, butternut squash, agave nectar and ground ginger. Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook until golden and beginning to caramelise (approximately 10 minutes). Don’t touch the contents of the pan too much as you want the cubes to remain intact. Steam your veg, then serve the meal. Enjoy, taking the time to savour the flavour!