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Rhubarb and apple crumble

When it comes to indulgence, for me it’s about what choices you make. With this rhubarb and apple crumble recipe you can feel a lot better about your choice as it has minimal sugar. Also, it is jam packed with fruit.

 

This is an amazing recipe that takes little time to prepare and then you can sort of forget about it in the oven (for about 40-50 min depending on your oven). It caters for adults and children alike and with copious amounts of fruit and rather than a refined flour and full of butter topping this has a more interesting version: oats and nuts which get a delicious roasted flavour in the oven.

Late spring and early summer in Britain is the season of rhubarb, a vegetable with reddish edible stalks. Most recipes I found say to use fair amounts of sugar as the stalks a fairly sharp in taste but what I found with this recipe is that you actually you don’t really need to go overboard. By gently roasting it and adding the apple you will get enough sugar. When choosing rhubarb make sure you choose the most reddish stalks as the unripe ones contain high levels of antinutrients which interfere with the absorption of nutrients in our gut. From a vitamins and minerals perspective rhubarb contain few amounts which mainly will be lost through cooking, however, it also contains anthraquinones which have laxative properties.

The apple I used for this recipe is Royal Gala as this is still in season in the UK. When cooked Royal Gala holds its shape nicely and give a nice peachy flavour. Apples contain more fructose than glucose which make them the perfect choice in terms of desserts as it doesn’t shoot your blood sugar up.

 

Rhubarb and apple crumble

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 40min

Ingredients

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 500g apples (use British season – I used the last of Royal Gala season)
  • 1 ½ tbps coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 300g oat flakes or rolled oats blitzed a couple of seconds in a food processor
  • 120 g pistachios
  • 1 ½ tbsp honey
  • To serve
  • 200g coconut yogurt
  • 1 tbsp elderflower cordial

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Wash the rhubarb and cut in 4cm strips. Wash the apples, don’t peel them as most of the good stuff is underneath (although some of it will be lost with cooking so be mindful of that) but it also saves times and gives a nice almost peach like texture. Royal Gala variety still holds its shape nicely once cooked. Cut them in 2cm chunks and discard the core.

2

In a pan put ½ tbsp of coconut oil (the oil will be hard but you will be melting it in the pan), 1 ½ tbsp honey, 2 tsp vanilla paste and 2 tsp of cinnamon powder and gently melt over a low heat. Pour the liquid on top of the apples and rhubarb and mix together well. Place in an oven proof dish.

3

Take the rest of 1tbsp coconut oil (again the hard one) place it in a pan and gently melt. Take of the heat and add the oats and mix well. Don’t worry if you think there isn’t enough oil. You don’t want the oats to be very heavy, but it’s more to help the oats achieve flavour in the oven. Add the pistachios and mix well again. Take the mixture and sprinkle over the fruits until well covered.

4

Bake in the oven at 160 degrees for a good 40-45 min or until you see the mixture bubbling and fruit breaking down (if you have a transparent oven dish) or you see the fruit juices bubbling in the corners of the mixture and the top is nicely browned but not burnt.

Healthy desserts/ Snacks

No bake granola bars with chocolate topping

These no bake granola bars are the most indulgent snack and definitely more like a dessert. This is because they contain a high level of dates and raisins which have a high level of glucose available for the body. If this glucose is not used then it will be stored by your body in the form of fat.

So these should definitely be enjoyed in moderation, although I must admit it will be hard because they just so amazing:).

There are few health benefits vs a normal highly refined dessert.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Oats – Contain gramine, a natural sedative, treating depression, anxiety and insomnia. They are also easy to digest (contain the most soluble fibre than any other grain);
  • Buckwheat – Gluten free, contains mucilaginous fibres which lubricates the digestive tract;
  • Hemp seeds – contain a perfect balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids which help in brain function and heart health. They contain fibre but also essential amino acids.

No bake granola bars with chocolate topping

Print Recipe
Serves: 20 bars Cooking Time: 20min

Ingredients

  • For the granola bars
  • 250g oats
  • 60g buckwheat
  • 200g medjol dates
  • 100g hemp seeds
  • 250g raisins
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • For the topping
  • 100g 85% dark chocolate

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Put the oats, buckwheat and help seeds on to a baking tray. Roast for 10 min or until a slight golden colour.

2

Pit the dates and put them along side the oats, buckwheat, raisins, cinnamon, ginger and coconut oil in a food processor. Blitz until all combined and hold their shape when pressed together.

3

Take the mixture out of the food processor and pop it on a baking paper. Take another baking paper and pop it on top. Level the mixture with a rolling pin until you get a 3-4cm high block.

4

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Take a spoon and pour the chocolate over the block and push it carefully to the ends. Cut the block in neat bars or just in shards.

Healthy desserts/ Snacks

Chocolate and orange energy balls

Whenever I made these chocolate and orange energy balls people absolutely loved them! The texture of these are slightly more crumbly and that is because I don’t use as many dates as shop bought ones. While dates contain dietary fibre which helps relieve constipation, Wathey are also very high in glucose, which means your blood sugar will sore high and whatever it’s not used by your body for energy it is stored by your body for later in the form of fat. So these energy balls a lot kinder to your waistline:).

However, nuts are in incredible source of good fats which are essential for our health.

HEALTH BENEFITS:

  • Almonds – High in monounsaturated fats, have a high content of fibre which regulates blood sugars as well as vitamins and minerals;
  • Walnuts – Rich in omega 3 and antioxidants and serotonin which lifts depression;
  • Hazelnuts – High in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), manganese essential for development and metabolism;
  • Sunflower seeds – good source of polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin B6 and some iron.

Chocolate and orange energy balls

Print Recipe
Serves: 20 balls Cooking Time: 20min

Ingredients

  • 250 g almonds
  • 100 g walnuts
  • 200 g hazelnuts
  • 7 medjol dates
  • 50 g sunflower seeds
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 3 tbps of cocoa powder

Instructions

1

When at home: soak the nuts and seeds over night to remove the phytic acid (found within the hulls of nuts, seeds and grains). This is indigestible for humans so the best way to reduce is by soaking. Another way is via lightly toasting the seeds and nuts. Place the almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts on a baking tray and put in a heated oven (at 180 degrees) for 4 min. In the last min of toasting add the pumpkin seeds. These will quickly toast.

2

Pit the dates and place with all other ingredients in a food processor. Blitz for around 4-5 min or until fine crumbs and hold together when pressed.

3

Shape the mixture into balls.

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.