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

    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…]

Nov 182014
Restaurant Review: Vogue Cafe, Dubai (UAE)

      Total Salads’ verdict: Vogue Cafe is a calm haven hidden away in Dubai Mall’s Level Shoe District. The quality of the food is excellent and the presentation is worthy of a Vogue cover. Like the fashion world, Vogue Cafe plans on changing their menu every season. I tried their Winter 2014/2015 Menu and I was glad to see there are many healthy options to choose between. I love Vogue Cafe’s approach to Main Course salads this season, offering four types of salads plus the option to add some freshly grilled protein to create a balanced, filling and healthy meal. I really wish more restaurants did this. I would recommend Vogue Cafe to anyone who wants to eat well and is looking to escape the hectic crowds of Dubai Mall.    Restaurant: Vogue Cafe   Location: Shoe Level District, Dubai Mall, Dubai, UAE   Price Range: The price range varies considerably depending on what you order. [Read more…]

Nov 142014
Recipe: Citrus Salad with Shrikhand

      My recipe ‘Citrus Salad with Shrikhand’ was featured in The Guardian (UK) and was winner of the Beat Diabetes Healthy 3-Course Meal Challenge.      Wintertime is prime citrus season and you can find a great variety of citrus fruits in the market these days. I usually stick to clementines, my all-time favorite, but I wanted to incorporate other citrus fruits into my diet as well. This salad forced me out of my comfort-zone to try pomelo (for the first time), grapefruit (after a long time), and navel oranges (I forgot how good they could be!).   My recipe for Citrus Salad with Shrikhand is a wonderful way to make a fruit salad which is more then simply tossed fruit. By slicing up the citrus fruit and laying it out flat, you get to see the beautiful array of colors which each fruit brings. My method for slicing citrus fruit is very quick and [Read more…]

Nov 102014
Recipe: Puy Lentil Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic

    It’s that time of year again (autumn/winter) when pumpkins and winter squash are piled high in farmer’s markets and supermarkets. I love seeing all the different varieties of pumpkins, some with smooth bright orange skin, others with knobbly green skin, and some pale yellow or even white.    My favorite variety of winter squash has to be butternut squash. I use it in soups, pasta sauce, pumpkin pie and of course I roast it to use in salads. Remember not to throw out your pumpkin seeds. They are packed with zinc and excellent for helping you fight off infections and germs which are so prevalent throughout the colder months. Here is my easy recipe for How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds.   When roasting butternut squash, I often throw in a couple of heads of garlic cut in half. The garlic cooks at the same pace as the pumpkin, so they are ready at [Read more…]