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!

 

Tasty chicken stock

An absolute kitchen essential in my book. Once you know how to make a great chicken stock, you have a delicious base for all your soups and sauces. When you want to save the pennies too, it makes your chicken stretch out to another meal. Once you’ve made it once you’ll never want to chuck a chicken carcass away again.

My kids love it too – with cubed leftover chicken, and some angel hair noodles crushed into it, it turns into a super-nutritious and filling soup!

You will need:

1 leftover chicken carcass – include all the bones from legs, wings, thighs, body, the works.
2 large, or 3 medium-sized organic carrots, chopped roughly
2 sticks celery, chopped into 1/2″ slices
1 medium sized onion, peeled and quartered
2 small or 1 large bay leaf
The juice from the chicken, saved from cooking, fat drained off
1.5 litres cold water (or enough to cover the carcass)
Salt & pepper

A large strainer

Take a medium sized pan (10″ish diameter). Place all ingredients in the pan.

Bring to the boil, and boil on a medium-high heat for 20 mins, before turning down to a low simmer – just enough to see bubbles on the surface of the stock for 2-3 hours. It’s ready when you taste it and you can’t stop tasting it (and its slightly thicker than water in consistency)!

Strain, cool, and store in the fridge. Eat within a couple of days (if it lasts that long!).

Butternut squash & feta salad

Butternut Squash & Feta Salad

Serves 4

If you need a healthy, easy, yummy lunch which you can wow your friends with, this one fits the bill. I was served this by my friend who’s a bit of a culinary whizz a couple of weeks ago. It’s delicious, nutritious, fat burning and will keep you full well into the afternoon.

1 butternut squash, deseeded and cut into 1″ squares
200g feta cheese
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsps Pumpkin seeds
2 tbsps Sunflower seeds
1 tbsp Flaxseeds
Generous handful of fresh thyme
1 packet rocket/babyspinach mix
4 warmed pitta breads, cut in half
1 tub houmous

Dressing:
Mix 2 tbsp hemp oil with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method:
Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the coconut oil in a tray, and place in oven until oil has melted. Add the buttenut squash, stirring until all the pieces are coated. Roast for 25-30 minutes until lightly caramelised.  Towards the end of cooking, warm the pittas in the oven, or toast in the toaster if you prefer.
In a small frying pan over a medium heat, toast the seeds and then set aside.

Divide the rocket mix into bowls, add a sprinkle of thyme, 1/4 of the seeds, and dressing to each bowl, and toss gently.

To serve:
Crumble the feta over the salad mix, add the butternut squash and serve with a warmed pitta and houmous. Enjoy!

3 quick, easy, sustaining breakfasts

Morning folks, so this morning, I thought I’d share my top 3 quick, sustaining breakfasts with you.

1. Scrambled egg & avocado wrap.
Prep/cook time: 5 minutes.

When you need a quick, delicious breakfast, this recipe will certainly fit the bill and help you start the day the right way. The reason? It’s packed with protein, good fats, vitamins and nutrients which all contribute towards your body functioning well at a cellular level. And because it contains virtually no sugar (there will be a little in the wrap), your blood glucose levels will rise slowly, energy will be released slowly, and you will stay satisfied for longer.

You will need:
2 eggs, splash of milk, seasoning
A large handful of raw, baby spinach
1 large tomato, sliced
Handful of fresh herbs if you have them – (coriander works particularly well)
1/4 avocado
1 wholegrain wrap

Whisk, then scramble the 2 eggs, milk & seasoning in a pan with coconut oil. They should be glistening when you eat them, not hard and rubbery.

Pop your wrap on a plate, put the eggs, tomato, avocado, herbs (if you have them, they’re just there to add to the yum factor) and as much spinach as you can on the wrap, wrap it and eat it.

Enjoy it! And remember to eat it slowly and appreciate it.

2. Homemade granola.
Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 20. This granola is best pre-prepped and stored in an airtight box so you can grab and go. I usually make up 500g, but you could double up the quantities and make up a kg for it to last longer.

Why is this breakfast healthy?

Oats are a great source of dietary fibre, which aids digestion in your body. They will also provide energy from their carbohydrate content. The seeds provide a healthy dose of Omega 6 fatty acids, which are great for brain function. The nuts are a source of protein, and in combination with the oats provide your body with the essential proteins it needs for optimum function.

The berries provide anti-oxidant qualities which help in counteracting potential damage by something called free radicals. Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

You will need: 

500g jumbo oats
35g sunflower seeds
35g pumpkin seeds
2 tbsps coconut oil
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsps vanilla extract

To serve
5 Pecan/almond/hazelnuts
1 tbsp toasted coconut
Generous handful berries
Almond milk / dairy milk (but the almond milk is VERY delicious!)

Method
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Line 2 flat baking trays with greaseproof paper. Melt the coconut oil until it’s liquid in a pan over a gentle heat. Take it off the heat and add the ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. Stir in the oats, sunflower & pumpkin seeds until the oats are covered. Spread the mixture evenly over the 2 trays, and bake for 20 mins, checking regularly. Turn after 10 mins so you get an evenly cooked result.

Serve
With your choice of pecan, almond, or hazelnut, a tbsp of toasted coconut, a generous helping of berries – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries are all great choices and cold almond milk.

As a variation, this is just as delicious served with other fruits and natural yoghurt.

3. Healthy peanut butter on toast.

Okay, now’s the time to ditch the peanut butters you’re used to buying, and I’ll let you into a secret. They cost a FORTUNE in comparison to a healthy substitute. Search for Meridian natural peanut butter. It contains peanuts, and that’s it. And 1KG will set you back a fiver! £5. A bargain!

And no added sugars, palm oil or other nasties you sometimes find in more commercial brands.

To manage your expectations, it does taste a little different, but this is only because you’re used to higher sugar versions. I have switched, and even my 2 & 4 year olds now readily scoff this brand. The best bit is that it’s packed with health-giving protein!

You will need:
Rye bread (you can now buy this from most supermarkets – it’s yummy)
Healthy peanut butter
A tomato, sliced
Seasoning
Spinach (optional)

 

Toast 2 slices bread, spread peanut butter (note: no butter!), arrange sliced tomatoes in abundance. Crack of black pepper and salt over the top and serve on a bed of raw baby spinach. Enjoy!

You’ll note that I rattle on about raw spinach. It’s full of nutrients, including iron, so try adding it to any meal you can.

So there you have it, three delicious, simple, and sustaining breakfasts packed with nutrients to leave you feeling full of longer lasting energy, and which contribute to your body’s optimal health.

Bon apetit!

Sophiex

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!