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.
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;
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.
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.
Place the salmon fillets on a tray and bake at 180 degrees foe 20 min.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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);
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).
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.
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.
Pour the dressing onto the mixed asparagus and sweet potato and voila!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have fallen in love with Pho before I went to Vietnam for my honeymoon in 2016 (so not that lomnh ago at the time of writing this), but it was here that I really learnt what Pho means to Vietnamese people as well as one of the authentic recipes…one because just like everywhere there are slight interpretations of the recipe.
I love Pho because it makes you feel nice and warm inside and the flavours are really delicate and fragrant from the mixture of thai basil, coriander and mint. Vietnamese food is well know to be the lightest, freshest of all cuisines in Asia as well as characterised by the use of fresh herbs. Pho is such a staple in Vietnam that people eat it as much as 5 times a day and it’s for sure it makes the start of the day.
The stock for this recipe you can find it here. But then the Pho you can easily put it together in less than 15 min and you have the recipe below. But before that why do I think this recipe is so good for us.
WHY IS THIS GOOD TO EAT FOR DINNER:
At dinner time your body is preparing to unwind. The last thing you want is to give your digestive system a challenge to break down vast amounts of food or complex, heavy dishes (mix of all food groups, raw food, animal protein, oily foods).
Vietnamese cuisine considered one of the lightest and freshest due to the use of fresh herbs which means you get the benefit of vitamins, minerals and essential oils with antibacterial effects.
Handful Mushrooms (you can use any kind of mushrooms)
Bunch of Thai basil
Bunch of Coriander
Bunch of Mint
¼ of lime per person
Heat the chicken bone broth until hot and steamy.
In a separate pot bring some water to boil and cook the rice noodles according to the pack instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Add a handful of rice noodles to the bowl. Top up with bone broth. Add 1 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tsp of soy sauce for each bowl. Top with sliced mushrooms, a few leaves of herbs (Thai basil, coriander, mint), slices of chilli (make it as hot as you wish). Serve with a slice of lime.
You can present each topping ingredients at the table and people can serve themselves. Makes it fun and engaging with kids as well.
It’s pancake day!! That time of the year when Nutella sales are going through the rough. Last year I posted one of my favourite pancake recipes with wonderful ricotta cheese. This time I decided to go the opposite way and share with you guys savoury pancakes. It uses a British favourite veggie, squash with it’s beautiful nutty and sweet flesh. To give this a kick I am using beautiful turmeric root.
About half of squash’s carbohydrates are complex in nature as well as high in fibre. Turmeric is known for it’s content in curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore beneficial for arthritis, cardiovascular health and diabetes. Curcumin is better absorbed in the presence of oil and heating it slightly aids absorption.
Grate the squash in a food processor as this will take seconds. Now fit the food processor with an S blade and add all ingredients. Blitz for 3 min until all ingredients combined and you get a bit of air in the batter.
Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan. Take 2 tbps of the mixture and carefully move them around in a 10 cm wide circle. After 1 min move onto the other side and cook for a further min.
If the mushrooms are small quarter them or slice them. In the same pan you cooked the pancakes, add a tsp of olive oil, the mushrooms, the sliced garlic and quartered tomatoes. Constantly move the ingredients in the pan. You want these gently cooked not fried.
Stack 3 pancakes on top of each other on a plate. Put the mushrooms and tomatoes around the pancakes. In the same pan crack an egg. Season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and cook on low heat for about 1 min or until egg white has set but the yolk is still moving. Pop the egg on top.
Ok…if you are familiar with shakshuka, I know the first thing on your mind will be – why? Why change a recipe by giving a North African dish a Mediterranean twist? Well…I would say because I think it’s worth it! Just give it a try and you will feel transported back to sunny shores and the smell of vineyards in Tuscany on a cold wintery day.
Shaskuka is a dish with eggs poached in a tomato and chilli sauce spiced with cumin, for those that did not have the pleasure to try it before.
This is the perfect dish for breakfast, lunch or brunch served along side a slice of sourdough to dunk in the rich tomato sauce. A perfect addition is a salad of whatever leaves you have in the fridge to add a few extra vitamins and minerals.
WHY SHAKSHUKA IS GOOD FOR YOU?
Shakshuka has also beneficial nutrients. Tomatoes are an amazing source of lycopene when cooked (actually it increases 5 or 6 times vs eating them raw, however you lose the betacarotene and vitamin C which are unstable with heat). It is not just easier but also better to use canned tomatoes in this dish. Let’s face it…the best tomatoes are in Italy (I don’t care if you disagree with me!) and they also are in season in summer. I’ve talked about eggs before so to reiterate, eggs are a complete protein. A bit of a quiz question for you: how many essential amino acids do eggs contain? ANSWER: 8. There are 25 types of animo-acids (molecules which form proteins) which combined make different kinds of protein and there are 8 essential amino-acids and the rest are semi-essential. 30g of egg protein provide 28g of usable protein so you can see how important it is to make eggs part if your diet.
Heat a small oven proof pan with 1 tbps of olive oil. If you have a cast iron pan use that as the taste of the overall dish is much better (cast iron disperses the heat more evenly than other materials so the flavour tends to intensify quicker – there you go, some science for you). Slice the onion and garlic and to the pan, stirring until it softens. Add the sliced chilli (leave the seeds for a gentle kick), sliced pepper and chopped rosemary and stir until the peppers start to soften (around 3 min). This base creates the flavours.
Pre-heat the oven at 200° Celsius.
Now, add the can of chopped tomatoes, the bay leaf and the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the pitted olives. Don’t worry if what you have are not pitted olives, just gently slice the flesh from around the stone. I know you might turn an eyebrow when I say adding balsamic vinegar but believe me, this intensifies the tomato flavour, making it even more tomatoey. Season with salt and pepper and let the tomatoes simmer for 5 min to allow all of these flavours to merge together. You don’t want this to just taste of acidic tomatoes. So a of patience will go a long way fir the perfect breakfast/brunch/lunch.
After 5 min, add the chopped basil to the tomatoes and make 2 small wells in the tomato sauce with a spoon. Crack open 2 eggs in the wells. Add a few shavings of parmesan and pop the pan in the oven for 3 min or until the eggs have just set when you give the pan a gentle shake. Don’t worry if you think the whites are not cooked…the residual heat from the pan will continue to cook the eggs but you will thank me for soft yolks. YUM YUM! Just decorate with chopped spring onion for an extra layer of texture and flavour.