All Posts By:

Patricia Bloj

Sides & salads/ Snacks

Beetroot dip

Healthy snacking couldn’t be easier when you are presented with this gorgeous purple dip. This beetroot dip it’s not a hummus, but it’s made with buttery beetroots and nutty walnuts.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Beetroot – Liver cleansing action by stimulating the production of glutathione;
  • Walnuts – Rich in omega 3 and antioxidants and serotonin which lifts depression;
  • Thyme – Helps fight colds and flu by helping to loosen the mucous. Aids digestion and also useful for treating colic in babies.

Beetroot dip

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 45min

Ingredients

  • 4 large beetroots
  • 100g walnuts (makes 2 handfuls)
  • Small bunch of thyme (10g) – leave a few to decorate
  • 1 1/2 tbps balsamic vinegar
  • One glug of olive oil

Instructions

1

Wash the beetroot and place in a pot and cover with water. Simmer for around 40min. If you are pressed by time you can use pre-cooked vacuum beetroot.

2

After they cooked, cut the top (where the leaves were) and then quarter. Put all ingredients in a food processor fitted with an S blade. Blitz until smooth.

3

Place in a bowl and serve with rocket and warmed tortillas or with raw veggie sticks.

Sides & salads/ Snacks

Turmeric hummus

Turmeric hummus is great dip to snack on, to have it on a slice of sourdough in the morning or even as a side with salad for lunch. You can add whatever flavours you want; adding turmeric is a great way to just have some anti inflammatory goodness.

As this is done in 10min you can easily do it a night before and take some into work to snack on. And with raw veggie sticks it’s a great way to get some extra vitamins and nutrients in the afternoon. Just remember to have it before 6 o’clock as raw food is quite difficult to digest.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Chickpeas – Good source of protein, folate iron and phosphorus;
  • Turmeric – Contains curcumin (an antioxidant) thought to help reduce inflammation;
  • Tahini – Made of sesame seeds, is a good source of protein, fat and carbohydrates and magnesium. The sesame seeds labelled as “natural” are unhulled and contain phytic acid. Therefore for good digestion best to be soaked;
  • Cumin – Good source of monounsaturated fats, vit B1, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, phosphorus and Zinc.

Turmeric hummus

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 10min

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas or 240g of chickpeas
  • 4cm root fresh turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • To serve with:
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Celery

Instructions

1

Lightly toast the cumin seeds and grind in a pestle and mortar (ground cumin works as well but will not have the same flavour).

2

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a S blade. Add 5 tbps of water. Blitz until smooth and light. If mixture too thick add extra water and blitz again.

3

Place the mixture on a slate and create a well in the middle. Drizzle with olive oil.

4

Cut the carrots, peppers and celery in long sticks.

Mains/ Quick meals

Salmon Thai style

I created this salmon recipe with my husband in mind…he doesn’t really like fish (what?!?). Besides being absolutely delicious, oily fish contain specific Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which are vital for brain function, for kids when they grow up and also for adults through their lives. So I come up with a fragrant sauce to cover the salmon with, inspired from my travels to Thailand as well as Jaime’s laksa recipe.

You might raise an eyebrow at the amount of ingredients going into this dish…however, these are ingredients I use often in my recipes and I have in my pantry.I would encourage you to have the same as they are great to just build a recipe whenever you don’t have a recipe in mind.

WHY IS THIS GOOD AT DINNER TIME

Dinner time is a time to unwind, with your body preparing for sleep. So the last thing your body needs is a large portion of food with all macros combined. Animal protein and raw food is the most difficult to digest. During the week I tend to have bowls of nutritious soups as cooked vegetables are the easiest for your body to break down and also the food is already pureed (lazy meal). To make an animal protein more digestable, poaching is a much better method because liquid carries heat rather than fat. In this case because the fish is already oily you don’t need to add any additional oil to gently cook in the oven. Also combining with complex fibrous carbodydrates like veggies and contain less of simple carbodydrates like glucose and fructose which helps with blood sugar levels and therefore weight control. Also, don’t hold back at the amount of veggies you put onto your place. Veggies should always make the majority of your plate, while the animal protein should be around 15% of your plate.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Salmon – Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids family (EPA and DHA) which are essential for proper brain function, control blood cholesterol, improve immune function, reduces inflammation and maintain water balance;
  • Garlic – Allicin and diallyl sulphides are the main beneficial ingredients with antibacterial and antifungal properties;
  • Ginger – Fights colds and flu. It also protects and heals the gut;
  • Turmeric – Contains curcumin (an antioxidant) thought to help reduce inflammation;
  • Chilli – Capsaicin helps remove toxins and reduces hunger, boosts metabolism;
  • Coriander – Detoxifying, antibacterial & immune enhancing oils;
  • Spring greens – High in vitamin C, vit K which helps the blood coagulate, and Ca. Combining spring greens with a source of protein ensures it gets absorbed;
  • Asparagus – Contains inulin, a prebiotic which encourages healthy gut flora. Aspartic acid neutralises excess ammonia which could otherwise result in feeling drained (boosts energy).

A word on coconut:

Coconut is a very debated fruit (it is a fruit not a nut, similar to peaches). All recognised health organisations advise against consumption due to the high saturated content. Coconut contains high proportion of lauric acid (a medium chain fatty acid) which can also be found in breast milk, palm kernel oil, certain nuts and in small amounts in cow’s and goat’s milk. It was believed that lauric acid mainly increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (or the “good” cholesterol) (source: Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2oo3) . The same study also concluded that the effects of the lauric acid on heart disease are uncertain. The reason behind this is there are multiple factors affecting heart disease which cannot be studied in isolation. For this recipe I recommend using light coconut milk so you don’t get the same fat intake as normal coconut milk and in this way you are controlling what you are eating. Also, this recipe also contains half of can of light coconut milk so per portion you don’t get that much.

Salmon Thai style

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 25 min

Ingredients

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • ¼ of lime per person
  • 1 tsp fish sauce per person
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cm ginger root
  • 1 chilli
  • 5cm turmeric root (or 2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 3 spring onions
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • Small bunch of coriander (10g)
  • 2 tbps olive oil
  • 1 tbps soy sauce
  • 400g (1 can) chopped tomatoes
  • 200g (1/2 a can) light coconut milk
  • To serve with:
  • Bunch of asparagus
  • 4 spring greens

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Make the sauce: Place garlic, ginger (don’t bother peeling it), chilli (take the top out), turmeric, spring onions, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, olive oil and soy sauce in a food processor with an S blade. Blitz until a smooth paste.

2

Place the salmon fillets on a tray and bake at 180 degrees foe 20 min.

3

Heat a deep pan and when hot pour the paste in and fry a min or so until it slightly changes in colour. Add chopped tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to simmer and cook for 20 min or until the salmon has cooked.

4

Steam the greens. Wash the spring greens and asparagus. Slice the spring greens in 5 cm thick slices and leave the end where the leaves become a bit too thick. Don’t throw the end away but keep them in the fridge to cook the vegan broth. Break the asparagus close to the end (it will break where it’s most freshest). Cut at an angle to create some nice shards. Put the steamer on a pan of simmering water. If you don’t have a steamer just use a colander with a lid on top. Start with the asparagus first. After 2 min put the spring greens. These will take another 2 min to cook.

5

Place one fillet of salmon onto a warm plate. Pour a ladle of sauce on top of salmon. Add 1 tsp of fish sauce and serve with ¼ of lime and a generous side of veggies. Veggies should always make the majority of your plate.

Notes

Instead of salmon you can try wonderful tofu and just place it in the sauce 5-10 min before the sauce is ready to get infused with all the flavours. Another great method of cooking the salmon is just to poach it in the wonderful sauce. So just slide the fillets 5 min into the sauce cooking and cook for further 20min. If you have any leftover sauce you can always freeze it or use it straight away to give flavour to cooked quinoa or lentils or even beans.

Sides & salads

Roast beetroot and lentil salad

If you ever thought salad is just some boring leaves or pasta with some kind of filling than think again. This roast beetroot and lentil salad is a great way to have a spectrum of macro and micro nutrients, flavour and not feeling hungry.

You might object to the amount it takes to cook/make this salad but I am suggesting some shortcuts like buying already cooked ingredients from your store. So the 2 ingredients that will take some time to cook are beetroot and lentils. There is an ok option of already cooked vacuumed beetroot which means it does’t have any preservatives. In terms of lentils you can find pre-cooked lentils that again do not have added preservatives so they make a good choice. However, I will always encourage to try and cook everything from scratch because you can control the quality.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Chicory – Rich in mucilaginous fibre helping lubricate the intestines. Aids digestions through its bitterness. The same substance (lactucopirin) has a mild sedative effect;
  • Lentils – High in molybdenum and iron which help oxygenate the blood. High in insoluble fibres which keeps the cholesterol levels healthy;
  • Beetroot –  has liver cleansing action by stimulating the production of glutathione;
  • Pomegranate – Contains polyphenols keep arteries elastic. Somestudies show that pomegranate extracts can block the production of an enzyme that destroys cartilage in the body. Seeds contain beneficial fats.

Roast beetroot and lentil salad

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 45 min

Ingredients

  • 500g green lentils (dry or pre-cooked)
  • 2 heads of red radicchio
  • 3 large beetroots
  • 1 orange
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 120 g chorizo (about half of a shop bought chorizo ring)
  • Dill (optional)

Instructions

1

Wash the beetroot and put in a pan and cover with water. Simmer the beetroot gently (don’t boil) for about 40min or until you can run easily a knife throught it. If you a pressed by time you can use a shop bought vacuum packed as this one is cooked in it’s natural juices and vacuuming means that it will not have added preservatives. However, I will always prioritize cooking your own as you have control over the quality of beetroot and also tastes a lot nicer than pre-cooked. If you cook your own make sure from time to time you top up the pan with some boiling water (from the kettle) as the water will evaporate and you want to ensure the tops of beetroot are cooking the same as the rest.

2

At the same time put the green lentils to cook in a pan with simmering water. The water should be comfortably 10cm above the lentils. Put a cinnamon stick, a few star anise and a 1tbsp of salt in with the water. This will ensure your lentils will have nice flavour and will not taste bland. Simmer gently (again, don’t boil) as you want the lentils to still keep their shape. Again, if pressurized by time you can buy the pre-cooked puy lentils (puy, green, brown, French or dark varieties will be fine). Just make sure to check the back of pack and see they do not contain any of the added preservatives or ingredients. After cooked, cut the end where the leaves have been and then cut in quarters or large chunks like you would with an apple.

3

Remove the larger outerleaves of the radicchio (discard any that really damaged or cut from where they are damaged). Keep those to decorate the outer edge of a bowl or platter. Cut the rest in fine shreds. Cut the chorizo in cubes and put them in a pan (no oil required as sausage will release fat) and gently fry to get a bit of colour. Remove from the pan and put on one side. In the same pan where you still have a bit of oil from the chorizo add the pine nuts and put the pan back on the heat. Shake the pine nuts until they get some colour. Put these on the side as well.

4

On a platter or a large bowl place the large radicchio leaves on the outer edge. In the middle place the cooked lentils, shredded radicchio, the beetroot slices/chunks and chorizo. Half the pomegranate and use the juice of half of it to squeeze onto the lentil mixture (just press tightly – you will need a good grip but good exercise ) and the other half take the seeds out. The easiest way to do so is by holding the pomegranate in your palm, your fingers holding the edge and your palm naturally forming a sieve, cut side down and bashing the top with a spoon or a rolling pin. The seeds will come out fairly easily. Grate the orange zest on top of the lentils. After that, juice half of the lemon and pour the juice on top of lentils while the other half peel and cut in nice roundels. Pour about 4 tbsp of olive oil and add some salt onto the mixture. Gently fold the lentils with the juices and other ingredients and decorate with pomegranate seeds, orange roundels, pine nuts and some dill springs.

Quick meals/ Sides & salads

Grilled sweet potato and asparagus salad

With the summer around the corner (ok, maybe not) you already start to sniff the smell of BBQ. So in celebration for a few rays of sunshine I came up with this summer salad that combines the flavour of BBQ from the grilled sweet potato but also the fresh taste of seasonal spring veg and a wonderful zingy dressing.

This grilled sweet potato and asparagus salad it’s great to enjoy by yourself, as a lunch option at work (as it works cold as well) but also to impress your friends over a lunch enjoyed al fresco.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Sweet potato – contains slow release carbohydrates and a hormone (adiponectin) helping to keep blood sugars level steady. High in beta carotene which is great for skin and immune system. The orange flesh ones have high levels of potassium which are great for stress and the yellow flesh/purple skin ones have the highest amount of antioxidants;
  • Asparagus – Contains inulin, a prebiotic which encourages healthy gut flora. Aspartic acid neutralizes excess ammonia which could otherwise result in feeling drained (boosts energy);
  • Chilli – Capsaicin helps remove toxins and reduces hunger, boosts metabolism;
  • Mint – Menthol helps relieve indigestion. It is also an adaptogen. This means it can be invigorating as well as a mild sedative, depending on the body needs.

Grilled sweet potato and asparagus salad with minty lemon dressing

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20min

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 8 spears of asparagus
  • For the dressing
  • Bunch of mint
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Half of chilli

Instructions

1

Put a griddle pan to heat. You want it to be really hot. Wash the potatoes and cut them lengthways in half cm slices. Without any oil, put the slices of the sweet potato on the griddle pan. Cook for about 1 min on each side. Don’t worry about the potatoes sticking to the pan. If the pan is really hot and after 1 min of cooking the potatoes will peal nicely from the pan and you will have the charred lines on each side which not only looks nice but gives a nice flavour. You might need to do this in a couple of batches. OK, what happens if you don’t have a griddle pan? This recipe works just as well and maybe quicker if you steam the sweet potato. You will have to cut the sweet potato in chunks (2cm aprox) and please don’t peal them (all the nutrients are just below the skin and also you save time).

2

While you wait for each batch of potatoes to cook on the griddle wash the asparagus and break the end (it should break at the point where it’s most fresh). Cut each spear at an angle to create beautiful shards. Put the steamer on (or a colander above a pan of simmering water)and pop the asparagus on to cook for about 1 min no more. You want it to still have a bit of crunch but also retain as many nutrients as possible.

3

Make the dressing. Pop all the ingredients of the dressing into a food processor with an S blade and blitz until smooth. Put the mint with storks and all as it will be blitzed and the storks still have flavour. If you don’t have a food processor just chop the mint really finely (you might need to remove some storks if very thick), grate the chilli and the garlic and then mix all together by hand.

4

Pour the dressing onto the mixed asparagus and sweet potato and voila!

Notes

If you don’t have a griddle pan, this recipe works just as well and maybe quicker if you steam the sweet potato. You will have to cut the sweet potato in chunks (2cm aprox) and please don’t peal them (all the nutrients are just below the skin and also you save time). If you don't have a food processor you can make the dressing by chopping the mint very finely and mixed it with grated chilli, garlic and olive oil.

Mains/ Quick meals

Poached coconut chicken and seasonal greens

I got the idea of this recipe as I was travelling to Bali where I had the most amazing poached coconut chicken salad. My version of the poached coconut chicken is quite different but I used the same kind of spices I tasted in the salad. It’s a great way to achieve flavour but also to make it incredibly good for you.

WHY THIS IS GOOD FOR DINNER

Dinner time is a time to unwind, with your body preparing for sleep. So the last thing your body needs is a large portion of food with all macros combined. Animal protein and raw food is the most difficult to digest. During the week I tend to have bowls of nutritious soups as cooked vegetables are the easiest for your body to break down and also the food is already pureed (lazy meal). To make an animal protein more digestable, poaching is a much better method because liquid carries heat rather than fat. Also combining with complex fibrous carbodydrates like veggies and contain less of simple carbodydrates like glucose and fructose which helps with blood sugar levels and therefore weight control.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Chicken – Contains all the B vitamins, which help the body produce energy and form red blood cells . The breast contains higher potassium and phosphorus helping to build strong bones and tissues. B3 which chicken contains is relatively stable to heat and light.
  • Spring Greens – High in vitamin C, vit K which helps the blood coagulate, and Ca. Combining spring greens with a source of protein ensures it gets absorbed.
  • Asparagus – Contains inulin, a prebiotic which encourages healthy gut flora. Aspartic acid neutralises excess ammonia which could otherwise result in feeling drained (boosts energy).

A word on coconut:

Coconut is a very debated fruit (it is a fruit not a nut, similar to peaches). All recognised health organisations advise against consumption due to the high saturated content. Coconut contains high proportion of lauric acid (a medium chain fatty acid) which can also be found in breast milk, palm kernel oil, certain nuts and in small amounts in cow’s and goat’s milk. It was believed that lauric acid mainly increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (or the “good” cholesterol) (source: Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2oo3) . The same study also concluded that the effects of the lauric acid on heart disease are uncertain. The reason behind this is there are multiple factors affecting heart disease which cannot be studied in isolation. For this recipe I recommend using light coconut milk so you don’t get the same fat intake as normal coconut milk and in this way you are controlling what you are eating.

Poached coconut chicken and seasonal greens

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 30min

Ingredients

  • 4 organic chicken breasts
  • 2 cans of light coconut milk
  • 5cm ginger root
  • 1 chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • Bunch of Coriander
  • Bunch of Mint
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 Spring greens
  • 12 spears of asparagus

Instructions

1

Bring a pot of water to simmer. Carefully slide the chicken in for 1 min to ensure the scum is coming out. Discard the water and rinse the chicken.

2

Rinse the pot you used for the chicken and pour the coconut milk. Grate the ginger, slice the chilli and add ¾ of it with the rest reserved for decorating. Grate and add the garlic cloves. Place the chicken in the spiced coconut milk and poach for about 20 min. Poaching is a very gentle method of cooking so make sure the liquid is simmering gently.

3

After 20 min, take the chicken off the heat. Wash the greens and cut the greens in 4 cm slices. Break the end of the asparagus (it should break close to where it is still fresh) and then cut the rest at an angle so you get shards. Carefully steam these for around 2 min. If you don’t have a steamer just use a colander which you put over a pot of simmering water and cover with a lid.

4

Place the greens on the plate. Slice each chicken breast at an angle and place on the plate. Pour on the chicken the fragrant liquid. Add 1 tbps of fish sauce per person, juice from a ¼ of lime, sliced spring onion, a few slices of chilli and a few springs of mint and coriander. You don’t want to add the fish sauce or lime earlier because with cooking the taste of these will disappear and you want to have the salty, sour flavour when you actually eat it.

Mains/ Quick meals/ Smoothies & drinks

Vegan broth

Vegan pho

I am a flexitarian.  Whenever I say that to people I get some raised eyebrows and a confused face. Ok, so to clear the air of this massive confusion being flexitarian means you are consciously lowering your meat intake. 35% of brits nowadays are flexitarians so I am in good company :). So whenever I don’t feel like eating meat but I feel like having a warming broth I make this delicious vegan broth. It’s vegan because rather than using bones from chicken or beef to extract flavour I use veggies, mushrooms and seaweed.

If you read my previous post you would have learnt that I really like pho. So basically this vegan broth is my interpretation of a meat free broth. Therefore I’ve packed it with the same kind of spices as my chicken pho. However, it will be a bit more subtle than the meat broth because it uses plant based ingredients to deliver flavour, however it’s just as delicious.

Don’t worry about the time it takes this to cook. It takes 10 min to prep and then you just forget about it in slow cooker or on the stove in a normal pot. And because you are doing a big batch you can then just freeze it in smaller containers and take out when you need it.

So what if I don’t want to wait 6 hours and I want something now!! Well, in that case you can follow the recipe but rather than using a slow cooker use a pot and rather than simmering bring the soup to a steady boil and cook it for about 1 hour. I haven’t personally tried it but I would imagine the soup is not as intense and most of nutrients will be lost as you are using high heat.

You can use the vegan broth to either just drink it like a tea, before a meal, in between meals or you can use to make a vegan pho and you can find the recipe here.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Seaweed – Rich in protein, iodine which is necessary for metabolism. Good source of fibre and chlorophyll which helps remove toxins. Magnesium and potassium protect blood vessels. Wakame has a high content of magnesium;
  • Mushrooms – Contain fibre and protein and ergothioneine an amino acid which helps reduce inflammation. Germanium enhances immunity. Shiitake contain lentian which has antiviral, antibacterial properties. Boosts the immune system by stimulating the production of white cells;
  • Chilli – Capsaicin helps remove toxins and reduces hunger, boosts metabolism;
  • Turmeric – Contains curcumin (an antioxidant) thought to help reduce inflammation;
  • Star anise – has potent antiviral properties;
  • Cinnamon – is a digestive aid that help normalise levels of glucose and triglycerides;
  • Cardamom – effective digestive stimulant and diuretic, boosting the metabolism;
  • Ginger – Fights colds and flu. It also protects and heals the gut.

Vegan broth

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 litres Cooking Time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots
  • 2 onions or 4 shallots
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 7.5 cm root of ginger
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Handful of fennel seeds
  • ½ Handful of cardamom pods
  • 2 chillies
  • 5cm turmeric root grated or 1 tsp of turmeric powder per person
  • Big Handful wakame seaweed (about 30g)
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Bunch of coriander
  • Slice of lime per person
  • Soy sauce (1 tbps per person)

Instructions

1

Cut the onions in 2 and put them in a pan (with no oil) along side the spices (star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds and cardamom). Gently dry fry these ingredients. This will help the onion to develop more intense flavour and the spices to start releasing the oils, helping to achieve flavour in your stock.

2

Bash the lemongrass to start releasing the flavour and put the following ingredients: 2 of the carrots (the rest will be added closer to serving), onion, spices, ginger, 1 of the chilli, lemongrass, seaweed and mushrooms in the slow cooker. The turmeric will be added later just before serving as this will help achieve flavour and you want the fresh taste from this. Cover with water according to the instructions. Turn on low heat and leave for 6 hours or over night. The longer you leave the more flavour it develops.

3

After cooking strain the liquid but retain the carrots, seaweed and mushrooms. Cut the carrots, slice the seaweed and mushrooms and put them back in the stock. This stock makes a perfect start to a meal just drunk from a mug or even as a “snack” in between meals. Or you can add some noodles, thai basil, mint, coriander, soy sauce and lime to make a vegan pho. (check my pho recipe here to see how to put together the pho. Just replace the chicken stock with the vegan one). Heat through enough stock for however many people you want to serve (enough to 1 mug per person). Grate the turmeric root or add the turmeric powder and stir well until it is dissolved. Add the soy sauce. Cut the coriander (stalks and all) and slice the chilli. Pour the stock into mugs, add the coriander, chilli and squeeze the slice of lime. Enjoy the savoury cup as a starter or a snack in between meals.

Notes

If you don’t have a slow cooker then you can just use a big pot. Half cover with a lid and just check it from time to time to ensure it’s not overflowing.