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Category Archives: Recipes

Farmers market rice salad

When I worked full time I used to visit a farmer’s market close to where I worked. I’d always go and lunchtime and pick up a rice salad from Natural Vitality, who sell organic dips and salads.

I’ve not had one for years but randomly started thinking about this delicious little pot of healthy goodness recently and today had a go at replicating it.

It wasn’t as good, I’ll happily admit that but all the same it was delicious and perfect to pack in a little tub and take to work, as I have done today. Sorry for the rubbishy iPhone pic by the way, I’m camera-less at work.

Serves 2, you will need:

150g Brown/wholegrain rice
Handful dried apricots, chopped
Handful dates, chopped
Handful cashews
Handful mixed seeds
Large handful parsley, finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes

1. Cook the rice according to the pack instructions
2. When the rice is cooked, drain and add the remaining ingredients
3. Give it a good old stir, allow to cool and enjoy!

Squash & Chickpea Stew

My carnivorous husband tolerates our mostly-veggie meals. We only have meat a few times a week, partly because I want to eat good meat and couldn’t afford to do so every night but mostly because there are so many meat-free recipes out there which are so healthy. High in nutrients, packed with protein and low in saturated fat, this is one I did for the first time tonight and is definitely a keeper.

It’s taken from a recipe in the River Cottage Veg Every Day book. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, it took me about half an hour to prepare and is dead simple.

You will need:
2 Tbsp oil
2 Onions, diced
1 Stalk of celery, finely diced
1 Tsp ground black pepper
1 Tsp Turmeric
Half tsp ground ginger
Half tsp ground cinnamon
100g red lentils
Tin chickpeas
8 Saffron strands, toasted and crushed (I just chucked mine in non-toasted, sorry Hugh)
500ml Passata
Handful chopped fresh parsley
Handful chopped fresh coriander
300g Squash or pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into large cubes
1.2l Veg stock
1 Bay leaf
50g Orzo

1. Heat the oil and cook the onions until soft
2. Turn down the heat and add the spices, garlic and celery. Cook for a few minutes
3. Add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, passata and fresh herbs
4. Cook on low for about 15 mins (I added a bit of water at this point as it started sticking)
5. Add the squash or pumpkin and bay leaf
6. Cover and simmer for 30 mins
7. Add the orzo and simmer until cooked
8. Season, serve and enjoy!

Cake Club: Healthy(ish) Malt Loaf

Months ago, when Andy was feeling poorly my Mum gave me a jar of Malt Extract for him. She’d bought it on a nostalgic whim remembering how her own Mother would line her and her brother up for their daily dose, as was the trend in post-war Britain, as a cheap dose of nutrients for Fifties’ children. A spoonful in, however and the vile taste diminished her rose-tinted memories and the actual memory of being forced to down spoonfuls of this thick, disgusting elixir hastily found the jar heading our way. Thanks, Mum.

Needless to say Andy never did dare take any (have you smelt it?) and it’s been lurking at the back of the cupboard with the rice vinegar and green teabags (swamp juice) ever since.

My endless quest for healthy snacks to give my kids, and with the days of creating interesting and nutritious lunchboxes on the horizon saw me seeking out malt loaf recipes. A click on to the failsafe BBC Good Food site led me to a recipe and FINALLY I could make use of this hideous goo and make it into something nice.

It’s turned out a treat. A big hit with the kids, it’s a-sponge-which-thinks-it’s-a cake-but-is not-actually-a-cake. It contains a considerable amount less sugar and no fat (bar the eggs, but that’s minimal). Give it a go, it’s gooey, sticky and great spread with butter. Everything a malt loaf should be.

You will need:

150ml hot black tea
175g malt extract (sold in health food shops)
85g dark muscovado sugar
300g mixed dried fruit (I only had sultanas)
2 large eggs, beaten
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Half tsp bicarbonate of soda

1. Heat oven to 150c/130 fan/gas 2 and line 2 1lb loaf tins
2. Add the tea, fruit, malt extract and sugar to a bowl and stir well
3. Mix in the beaten eggs
4. Tip in the flour, quickly followed by the baking powder and bicarb
5. Stir well and pour into the prepared tins
6. Bake for 50 mins until firm and well-risen
7. Remove from tins and cool

The recipe says to then wrap and keep for 2-5 days before eating as it becomes more sticky but really, who can wait that long? We tucked in as soon as it was cool enough for the butter not to melt and it was perfect. A definite lunchbox thumbs up.

N.B. I don’t have 1lb loaf tins so just did the whole thing in a 2lb tin. I baked at 140c (fan oven) for 1hr 20 mins

His, his and hers

I used to struggle with lunch ideas but now the boys are older and eating what I eat, I like to sit and enjoy a proper meal with them, not just a quick sarnie. More so since trying to include more superfoods in my diet, as I mentioned in this post.

So today we had one of our storecupboard staples, roasted veg cous cous with lime and mint. I added some rye bread, cheese and grapes for the boys and accompanied mine with a big leafy watercress salad.

Serves 4, you will need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 courgette, thinly sliced
Tin chickpeas
100g cous cous
200ml veg stock
Handful cherry tomatoes, sliced
Juice of 2 limes
handful fresh mint leaves, very finely chopped

1. Drizzle the veg with oil and roast for 20-30 mins until starting to brown
2. Put the cous cous in a bowl, add the stock, cover until all the water is absorbed then fluff up with a for
3. Add the chickpeas, veg and tomatoes to the cous cous
4. Mix the mint into the lime juice, pour over the cous cous, stir well and serve

This is also lovely with feta or goats cheese and you can add whatever veg you have in. Red peppers and aubergine also work well. You can use quinoa instead of cous cous for an extra protein hit.

A diet overhaul

I’ve been doing loads of research recently on nutrition for an eBook I’ve written at work. I trained in nutrition as it played a big part in my previous job as a personal trainer but work aside, I’ve always taken care to eat well and ensure my diet is as good as it can be, even more so now I have children who eat the same meals as me.

I try to include as many nutrient-rich foods (often referred to as superfoods) as I can. This means a high nutrient to calorie ratio and re-thinking my approach to meals so I eat for health, not calories. This way, I optimise my diet so I know my body is getting all the micro-nutrients it needs as well as a healthy carb, protien and fat ratio to maintain a healthy weight.

Since making the shift and including more of these superfoods in my diet I’ve noticed my energy levels increase, I’m sleeping better and my anxiety levels have plummeted (I was experiencing frequent palpitations and dizzy spells which have stopped completely). I’m also spending less on my weekly shop, roughly £50 a week for a family of four.

So what do I eat? My basic rule is to try and eat food in it’s natural state as much as possible. Lots of salads, brown rice, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and tons of fresh fruit and veg. It’s unintentionally a largely vegan diet with beans, nuts, lentils and quinoa as my main protien sources. If I do have something processed like cake then I’ll make it myself as that way I know there are no preservatives or other nasties in there. Same with bread. I’ve got a huge repertiore of recipes so as I’ve had a few requests recently for I’ll start sharing them with you on here.

Tonight I made a smoky butter bean stew, adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe.

You will need:

250g kale, spring greens or swiss chard
Can butter beans
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Half tsp cumin seeds
Tsp smoked paprika
tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil

1. In a large pan, heat the oil and sweat the kale until wilted
2. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes
3. Tip in the butter beans
4. Add the paprika and cumin seeds and stir well
5. Tip in the tomatoes and simmer gently for 5 mins until warmed through

Serve with brown rice or quinoa. I had some sourdough to use up tonight so used it to top a couple of toasted slices. Quick, healthy, cheap and delish.

For loads more information on the nutrient-dense diet, including why it’s important, the impact on our health, which foods to choose and more recipes, you can buy the eBook here (plug, plug) 

Flu Soup

So today I took a sick day. Actually I didn’t take a sick day because I don’t work (in the traditional sense) Wednesdays and it turns out you can’t call in sick to anyone when you have kids. Except your Mum. But mine was off sick. Oh, the cruelty.

As my appetite is non-existent but I need to get me some vitamins, I made soup. Flu-soup if you will. It’s so easy that even the most flu-riddled can probably manage to make it (in between dizzy spells and trying not to die* as I did). It’s packed with nutrient-rich foods and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

You will need:

250g yellow split peas, green or red lentils
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 sticks of celery, chopped
2 handfuls of kale
2 handfuls of peas
A thumb-sized piece of root ginger, grated or finely chopped
Half tsp turmeric
Half tsp garam masala
1.5l vegetable stock

1. Pour the stock into a large pan and bring to the boil.
2. Add all the veg, lentils, ginger and spices to the pan.
3. Bring to the boil, season to taste and simmer for 20-25 mins until the lentils are soft.
4. Remove from heat and blend to a purée. I like my soup mega-thick so add more water if you prefer it thinner.

See, told you it was easy. Now eat, and get better.

* I was not nearly dying. I’m a bit melodramatic when I’m ill