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.

Garlic prawn/chicken salad

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I’m beginning to notice that lots of my recent recipes are fish-orientated – I just seem to be in the mood for fishy dishes right now. But this great lunchtime treat is just as delicious served with chicken, goats cheese, or avocado if you want a more meaty / vegetarian option.

Ingredients (to serve 2):
1/2 iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2 rings of red onion finely chopped
2 tbsps coriander
Generous sprinkling of pumpkin seeds
Squeeze lemon juice, splash of hemp oil

2 tbsps Natural Yoghurt
1 clove garlic (or as I didn’t have any in stock, I used “Lazy Garlic”)

50g dry-weight quinoa, cooked as per instructions

Handful prawns / grilled chicken breast, sliced / goats cheese / 1/2 avocado

Method:
Divide the lettuce, tomatoes, onion, coriander, pumpkin seeds and cooked quinoa between 2 plates, and mix with lemon juice and hemp oil.

Mix the natural yoghurt with the garlic, then mix with your prawns, chicken or avocado. (The garlic yoghurt doesn’t go quite so well with goats cheese, so serve that naked).

Serve:
Top your salad mix with the yoghurt-covered prawns, chicken, or avocado, or goats cheese. Crack some black pepper on the top, and enjoy!

 

 

Easy tomato salsa

iStock_000014598298_ExtraSmallInspired by yesterday’s spicy bean burger, I decided to make some salsa using a classic recipe I picked up when I lived in Mexico for a few months in the late 90’s.

Salsas are a great way to bring many meals to life with masses of flavour – sometimes they’re great in a pile on top of a dish, sometimes on the side, or even sprinkled all over so that you taste it with every delicious mouthful. There are a million different salsas made and eaten in Mexico – this just one, and a very satisfying and easy to make one it is, too!

You can make this as spicy or mild as you like by varying the amount of chilli.

Ingredients:
4 tomatoes, skinned if you have time and finely chopped
small-medium red onion, finely chopped
3 tbsps fresh, chopped coriander
Chilli, finely chopped (about 1/4-1/3 chilli)- I tend to use habanero or scotch bonnets in my kitchen – and if I don’t have any in the fridge “Lazy Chilli” does the job
Juice of 1/2 lime

Method:
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and put in the fridge for an hour or two.

Serve:
Bring to room temperature before serving, and eat as much as you like – whilst being high on flavour, this is an accompaniement which is very low on fat! Great with burgers, salads, fish, and meats.

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.

Hearty clean minestrone soup

When the weather turns cold, sometimes there’s simply nothing better than a hearty soup to see you through the day. But rather than fill up with one containing pasta which may leave you feeling bloated, a couple of tweaks provides you with an equally delicious, clean version of it which you can turn to whenever you fancy a warm comforting meal!

Ingredients:

Dessert spoon coconut oil
1 medium red onion
1 clove garlic
1 medium carrot, diced in half cm-ish squares
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
4 skinned, chopped tomatoes (to skin, cover in boiling water until skin ‘cracks’ & feels loose, then peel) 1/2 tin cannelini beans
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 mug quinoa, rinsed
1.2L vegetable stock / bouillon

Salt & pepper to taste

Generous handful of spinach, finely chopped
1 level tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Method: Soften the onions, garlic, carrot, pepper and celery, thyme and bay leaf. When the veg are tender, add the tomatoes, beans, rinsed quinoa and 1L stock and cook on a medium heat for around 15-20 mins (until the quinoa is tender, but not overdone). Add more stock if required.

When cooked, remove from the heat, and remove the bay leaf. To serve: Season with salt & pepper and stir in the spinach & fresh basil.

Add a few parmesan shavings if you fancy.

Parma-ham-wrapped salmon on lentils

I’m afraid I haven’t had a chance to photograph this one yet, but it is a very delicious, nutritious and sustaining meal, great eaten alone or with friends and family.

Ingredients to serve 2:

Salmon fillets x 2
Packet of Parma or serrano ham

200g puy lentils – either Merchand Gourmet pre-cooked, or use dried from health food shops / the supermarket – they usually need boiling for around 30 minutes, but sometimes need soaking, so do check the label first.
3 tbsp fresh parsley
3 tbsp fresh basil
Juice of 1 lemon
200g spinach, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsps organic natural yoghurt

Method:

Salmon: Preheat the oven to 170degrees. Wrap the salmon in parma ham, and place on a baking tray. Bake for about 15 mins, until the flesh is cooked yet yielding inside.

Lentils: Chop the spinach, basil & parsley and set to one side. Cook dried lentils as per the instructions on the packet (sometimes they need soaking, sometimes it’s bringing to the boil, them simmering for around 30 mins). Or heat the Merchand Gourmet ones.

When cooked, keep on the heat and stir in the spinach, until it softens slightly. Then add the basil, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper until the mix glistens.

To serve:

Pop the lentil mix on a plate, the salmon on top, and serve with a dollop of organic natural yoghurt. Enjoy!

Nutrition info & shopping tips 

Salmon is packed full of Omega 3 fatty acids – which cannot be synthesised (made by the body), so need to be included in our diet for optimal body function. These gems may help lower the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and arthritis, and can also aid brain function! Buy the best you can afford so that it contains the most nutrients,

Lentils are high in fibre and protein, low in fat, and are a cheap, filling, and sustaining food to keep in your store cupboard. For ultimate speedy dinners, you can buy them pre-prepared in the supermarket – Merchand Gourmet pre-cooked is the one to look out for. Alternatively, you can buy dried easily and online here: puy lentils. I buy in bulk, and if you’re looking to cut back on your weekly shopping budget, it’s a very effeficient way to shop!

Spinach (when steamed, or raw) is full of iron, antioxidants, and vitamins including b vitamins, which can be useful in preventing fatigue. Again, best bought locally when in season (it’s not currently). In November, you could replace the spinach with kale, heavenly kale for a very nutritious substitute which will also taste great.

Kids won’t eat veg? Don’t stress, just outfox them!

Secret superfood shake: Milk (whole for kids); handful frozen raspberries; 1/2 banana; 1/4 avocado; 1/4 pear; 1 kiwi fruit; 1 teaspoon local honey. Whizz up, and drink straight away.

I’m a mum who wants my children to benefit from a healthy diet to enable them to be healthy and strong. So it’s always a stinger when my eldest refuses point blank to eat anything that resemble a vegetable. He just doesn’t ‘do’ them. ‘Yuk’ is his standard response when presented with anything with even a hint of green, and orange, oh and red.

Knowing what I now know about nutrition now, it’s hard for me to stand by and let him win this one, so I’ve begun to work out ways on how I can out-smart him into eating things which are good for him. It’s a tough one. He’s sussed out my hidden vegetable tomato sauces for pasta (it was great while it lasted!) – and won’t eat anything red on anything. I try and sneak in spinach to pesto – which sometimes works unless he pulls the ‘mummy I wanted plain pasta’ line, and digs his heels in. Faced with the option of giving him said plain pasta, or being woken up through the night by a hungry child, I must admit I usually submit. But adding and whizzing up veg into ‘pestos’ and ‘plain’ sauces can be a very effective way of upping veg intake.

Carbs are no problem for him, at all – he could eat them til the cows come home. So as a rule, he doesn’t get the opportunity to eat white bread and instead gets wholemeal, rye, and sourdough – which, thankfully he loves. His pasta is for the most part wholemeal now, which he also doesn’t seem to object to.

He LOVES jam, honey, chocolate, crisps, and other heinous, sugar and salt-laden snacks.  He doesn’t have much of an opportunity to eat them on my watch! I’m about to buy a mandolin to enable me to slice potatoes and sweet potatoes, and courgettes very thinly to turn into healthier versions of crisps. In the meantime, I have realised that he will eat roasted potato peelings when I tell him he has ‘crisps’ for dinner. Win!

I also have my sights set on a dehydrator which allows you to make all kinds of delicious crispy-type snacks which are bursting with health. He will not beat me, oh no!

Looking at the good stuff he likes to eat, he will eat chicken, apple, pear, cucumber, and healthy peanut butter (£5 for a kg from Holland and Barrett / Poppy’s Pantry if you’re local to Woodbridge, and no added nasties at all). So I capitalise on this, and this is what he tends to get for dinner, breakfast, lunch. I think sometimes you just have to accept they’ll be fussy.

My favourite way of getting goodness into him is through the milkshake or smoothie. I laughed (or was it a victory cackle) inside this morning as I gave him his requested raspberry milkshake (using full fat milk for calcium, frozen berries – full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants, cheaper than fresh, and they chill the drink) knowing that I’ve also put in half a banana, 1/3 avocado (packed with protein), 1/2 pear and a kiwi fruit (yet more vitamin C). I even manage to get spinach into them sometimes which he doesn’t notice, either. Ha!

Yesterday, I invented some ultra-healthy oaty cookies with no sugar in at all, containing oats, oatmeal, and even flaxseeds. A momentary look of uncertainty crossed his face as he bit into one, then he polished off three. They get my thumbs up for a health-laden sweet treat that I also enjoy.

Knowing that my son’s getting adequate nutrition is so important to me, and I shall continue to try and outwit him. With young children, you have to be prepared to jump on any hint of healthy that they are up for, and keep trying new things without forcing it upon them. They’ll come round when they’re good and ready, and I think life’s too short to battle. Fussiness, as with many things relating to children, is for the most part only a phase, and as smart, clever parents, let’s go forth and outwit our little resistors, making it the playful game that bringing up children should be.

‘Til next time.

Sophiex

Cocoa-heaven hot drink

Evening! I can’t resist posting this on a cold, blustery night when warming the cockles is the order of the day.

If you don’t want to load up on calories or send your blood sugar into overdrive, but need a soothing, warming, delicious drink, pop a spoonful of cocoa powder (organic, ideally but not essential – and NOT one of the ready-made ‘hot-chocolate’ drinks) into a mug. Pour boiled water into the mug, then sweeten with Agave nectar if you need to.

Sip and enjoy your antioxidant-packed, low cal, yet satisfyingly chocolatey drink. It’s particularly good when you’re flagging mid-afternoon and craving something sweet but are seeking a healthier alternative!

 

 

A warming way to start a winter’s day

Staying hydrated in the winter months can be tough, and there’s nothing better than a warming drink to brighten your spirits.

This ginger infusion will provide a boost to your body through hydration and is a great way to start your day (after your pint of water).

As well as the water in the infusion benefitting your skin, ginger is well documented to aid digestion, help nose and throat congestion, soothe gurgling guts, and according to Ayurvedic texts even gives you a boost in the bedroom!

 

Method

Simply grate about an inch of root ginger (powdered ginger won’t do in this situation), and steep in water for 5 minutes. It’s worth noting that slicing doesn’t release the flavours as effectively as grating.

Strain and enjoy!