Feb 192015
Recipe: Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad with Capers and Olives

      I have had a potato salad revelation (yes, there is such a thing!).   Up until now, I have always boiled my potatoes whenever I made a potato salad because, well, that’s just what you do, isn’t it? But this time, I decided to try roasting the potatoes for my salad instead, and I was amazed at what a difference it made. The potatoes went from simply being a carrier of flavors to being an integral taste component of the salad, bursting with flavor and texture.   I often roast potatoes for dinner as an easy side dish, and we always eat them hot straight out of the oven – crispy and flavorful on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. I had never even considered eating them as part of a cold dish until one late afternoon last week when I decided to make a potato [Read more…]

Feb 172015
5 Great Reasons: Eating Avocados Gives You Beautiful Skin

    Avocados are nutrient-dense fruits full of monounsaturated fat (the good type) and packed with close to 20 vitamins and minerals. It’s no wonder that they are great for nourishing your body in so many different ways. We know that they are supposed to be excellent for maintaining healthy youthful skin, but what exactly do they do?   Skin ageing is caused by internal factors which we can’t control (ie. our age and genetics) and external factors which we can control (ie. sun exposure, environmental toxins, stress and diet). There are various lifestyle changes which can be made to help keep your skin looking beautiful and certain foods, like avocados, stand out as champions.   Here are 5 great reasons why eating avocados is a great way to make your skin look young and beautiful.   1 – Prevents the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing skin density. From around the age [Read more…]

Feb 122015
Recipe: Leafy Green Salad with Garlic-Parmesan Croutons

    Most people associate Valentine’s Day with romantic foods like chocolates, strawberries and oysters, but I think that dark green leafy vegetables should be up there on the list too. Dark green leaves are great for the heart, which is an excellent reason to eat them on Valentine’s Day! If you don’t want to mix your own leaves, you can buy pre-mixed bags of leaves which have 4-6 varieties in them.   To make an easy and delicious Valentine’s Salad, try tossing mixed leaves in balsamic vinaigrette and topping them with some delicious home-baked garlic-parmesan croutons. (To learn how to bake croutons, see my Cooking Tutorial: How To Bake Croutons.)   Home-made croutons are so much tastier and healthier than store-bought ones. They are also very easy to make and you can prepare them in large batches and store them (tightly sealed) in your refrigerator to throw onto salads for the whole week!   Some people [Read more…]

Feb 102015
Recipe: Hummus

    It has taken me a long time to get around to whipping up my own homemade batch of hummus from scratch.   One reason is because I live in Dubai, which means that I have easy access to good prepared hummus virtually everywhere I go, from supermarkets to take-aways to restaurants. They vary in quality, at best lightly whipped and flavorful and at worst heavy but still tasty. I recognise that this is a poor excuse and just constitutes laziness on my part.   The other reason it has taken me a while to make homemade hummus is because I think I over-researched the recipe. I discovered that what I thought would be a simple and quick recipe is actually a very hotly debated topic with different people having their own strong opinions on the technique which leads to the smoothest and airiest hummus.   All the recipes agreed on one thing – you need to [Read more…]

Feb 042015
Recipe: Mashed Avocado on Toast

    ‘Mashed Avocado on Toast’ has become a modern classic which can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or a light dinner. Avocados are full of fiber and monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat which reduces bad LDL cholesterol and promotes a healthier heart). They also help you maintain beautiful skin (see 5 Great Reasons: Eating Avocados Gives You Beautiful Skin). Mashing them onto toast is probably one of the simplest healthy meals to make but, as we all know, the simplest recipes are often the ones where we have to be most fastidious about the quality of our ingredients.   First of all, the avocado has to be perfectly ripe. Without a perfectly ripe avocado, there is no ‘Mashed Avocado on Toast’. You can tell that your avocado is ripe if the skin just gives under light pressure from your thumb. If it is rock hard, keep it aside and check on it every day until it is ready. Avoid [Read more…]

Jan 292015
Recipe: Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

      Salads are evolving. The idea of a salad as a diet food of tasteless leaves seasoned with a low-fat tangy dressing to hide the fact that it is just so boring is starting to be replaced by a completely new concept. Now, salads are seen as nutrient-dense meals packed with a variety of colors, flavors and textures. A salad dressing is no longer a cloak to hide the mediocrity of a salad, but an exciting way to experiment with flavors from different cultures. If you feel like Mediterranean flavors, whip up a lemon and olive oil dressing. Want to make it North African? Add some cinnamon and red chilli. Make it Mexican with cumin, lime and jalapenos. The possibilities are endless.   Despite this trend in salads, friends still tell me that although they love salads they just don’t find them filling enough. And I suspect the reason is because they are not eating salads with enough protein [Read more…]

Jan 252015
Product Review: 'Terra Creta' Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Greece)

    Traceability is a buzzword in the food world these days, with more and more people wanting to know exactly where their food is coming from. Terra Creta is a Greek olive oil company which incorporates traceability into each bottle of olive oil that it produces, connecting its consumers to the olive groves and farmers in Kolymvari, a region in western Crete.   Kolymvari has been recognised by the European Union as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) due to the high quality of their extra virgin olive oils. PDO essentially means that the quality of the olive oil being produced in Kolymvari has very specific characteristics which cannot be replicated using olives or production processes from any other region. It connects the quality of the olive oil directly to the land where it was produced – the soil, the climate and the people.   Terra Creta has a strong focus [Read more…]

Jan 192015
Recipe: Beetroot and Orange Salad with Labneh and Zaatar on a Blue Plate

    I usually buy and cook beetroots before I even have a recipe in mind for them. I get several bunches of beetroots and then cook them all together. They are easy to cook and then can be stored in your refrigerator for 5-7 days, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice for a salad, side dish or stew. If you manage to buy beetroots with their leaves and stalks, cut them off and keep them to use as you would use spinach.   There are several ways to cook beetroots, from steaming or boiling to baking or roasting. I used to bake them wrapped individually in foil, but then I started cooking beetroots so often that I began to feel that I was using way too much foil and there must be a better way. I recently started baking them in a covered cast iron pot (Dutch oven) which saves me from using foil and has the [Read more…]

Jan 152015
Recipe: Grilled Endive (Chicory), Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Salad

    Growing up on both sides of the Atlantic, I have always vacillated between whether to use American spellings (ie. flavor) or British spellings (ie. flavour). I am certainly guilty of mixing it up here on my blog.   I have spent more time than I need to trying to decide which type of spelling to follow. And my final decision is that I can’t decide. My formative education was in the US (and American spellings are just so simple for everyone to follow) but I went to University and worked in the UK (and British spellings are just so elegant). Either way, I feel like I am betraying one side of the pond.   It gets even more complicated when it comes to names of food. An ‘aubergine’ in the UK is an ‘eggplant’ in the US. A ‘courgette’ in the UK is a ‘zucchini’ in the US. And don’t [Read more…]

Jan 082015
Recipe: Roasted Aubergine (Eggplant), Mozzarella and Vine Tomato Salad

    While Christmas is a time for giving gifts to others, I have always thought of New Year’s as a time for giving a gift to yourself in the form of a New Year’s resolution. It is a promise to yourself that you will finally get around to making a change which will improve some aspect of your life. Of course, making the resolution is the easy part – it’s sticking to it beyond the first month of the year which proves harder for most of us.   Millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions, and ‘eating healthier’ consistently comes in as one of the most popular resolutions (along with ‘Go To The Gym’, Quit Smoking’, and ‘Spend More Time With Family And Friends.’)   Yet again, ‘Eating Healthier’ is one of my own New Year’s resolutions this year. Sure there are lots of things that I could do [Read more…]

Dec 162014
Recipe: Noodle, Kale and Orange Salad with Plum Sauce Dressing

  Rice noodles are probably one of the easiest things to cook ever. Well, maybe ‘cook’ is an overstatement. Rice noodles simply need to rest in a pot of boiled water for 2-3 minutes and they are good to go. Make sure not to leave them in the water for too long otherwise they may turn mushy.   The nice thing about noodle salads is that they are more filling than many other types of salads and they don’t get soggy, so they are a great little treat to keep in the fridge for a few days. They are also handy to have when you have house guests staying with you, so they can graze on the salad whenever they feel like it.   Noodle salads are extremely versatile and there are so many different combinations of flavors and vegetables that work. In this recipe, I used kale, spring onions, bell peppers, [Read more…]

Nov 252014
Restaurant Review: Balance Cafe, Dubai (UAE)

    Total Salads’ verdict: Balance Cafe is a good restaurant for anyone looking to eat a healthy meal at a reasonable price. They offer many popular international dishes cooked in a contemporary healthy way. The unique thing about Balance Cafe is that it follows Ayurvedic dietary principles. According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes which must be present in a dish for it to be considered well-balanced: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. It is believed that if a person eats a dish with all six tastes, then they are less likely to find themselves snacking or craving more food because all of their taste-buds have been satisfied. Balance Cafe’s commitment to promoting healthier eating goes beyond their restaurant – they also offer cooking classes (daytime and evening) and a door-to-door meal plan food delivery service.   Restaurant: Balance Cafe   Location: 3rd floor, Oasis Centre Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE [Read more…]