Dec 042016
 
Muhammara (Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

    It is sometimes hard to accurately trace the origins of a dish to a specific city, but that is not the case with Muhammara. This spicy red pepper and walnut dip originates from one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world – Aleppo in Syria. Muhammara combines sweet, sour and tangy ingredients to create an addictive multi-layered flavour. Traditionally, Muhammara uses Aleppo chilli peppers to bring a mild smokey spiciness to the dip. However, if Aleppo chilli peppers are not available then using a mixture of red chilli powder and paprika, like I have done, is a good alternative.     MUHAMMARA (makes 1 cup)   Ingredients: 2 red bell peppers (capsicum), roasted and peeled (directions below) 1 plump garlic clove, peeled and cut into 4 large chunks 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, lightly toasted (I toast a medium-sized piece of pitta bread and let [Continue reading…]

Oct 212016
 
Product: 'The Olive Oil Diet' book

    If you follow my blog, I am almost certain that you have a bottle of extra virgin olive oil sitting in your kitchen right now. But how much do you really know about the olive oil you have bought?   Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but not all extra virgin olive oils are created equal. Anyone who wants to get a better understanding of why it is important to buy olive oil which contains the optimal level of health benefits should read ‘The Olive Oil Diet‘ (available as a paperback or e-book on Amazon). Knowledge is power, and that is definitely the case when it comes to olive oil.   ‘The Olive Oil Diet‘ is written by two experts who have a lot of experience with healthy eating. Dr Simon Poole is a General Practitioner who regularly writes and speaks about primary care in medicine and nutrition. Judy [Continue reading…]

Oct 112016
 
Recipe: Beetroot Hummus

  A platter of freshly made Beetroot Hummus is always a show-stopper when you serve it to friends and family. The strikingly vibrant shade of pink is thanks to the pigment betacyanin which is the antioxidant responsible for giving beetroots their reddish colour.   Combining roasted beetroot into your favourite hummus recipe not only adds colour but also brings a deliciously subtle earthy sweetness to the dish. It is a great way to add extra nutrients and fibre to an already healthy dip.     BEETROOT HUMMUS (makes 500ml)   Ingredients: 1 medium-sized beetroot (150-200g / 5-7oz) 240g cooked chickpeas (tinned or freshly boiled) 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste) 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (no seeds) 1 plump garlic clove, cut into 6 pieces 1 tsp coarse sea salt 2 Tbsp cold water 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling on top of the hummus) Fresh herbs and toasted nuts, to garnish (optional)   Directions: Preheat [Continue reading…]

Sep 252016
 
Recipe: Roast Chicken, Beetroot and Fig Salad

    This is a wonderful salad to make when you want to turn some leftover roast chicken into a delicious and healthy meal. I love roasting my chicken with lemons, garlic, bell peppers, fresh thyme, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, so these flavours come through in my salad. Use your favourite roast chicken recipe or buy some good quality ready-roasted chicken from your supermarket or deli.   Beetroots can be conveniently roasted in the oven at the same time as your chicken. Simply trim the stems (without cutting into the beetroots), wrap the beetroots in some aluminium foil, and roast in an oven-proof dish at 200°C/400°F for approximately 30-60 minutes (depending on the size of the beetroot). The beetroots are ready when they can be easily pierced with a skewer. Allow the beetroots to cool to room temperature and then pinch off their skins. They are now ready to eat. Beetroots can also be [Continue reading…]

Sep 062016
 
Recipe: Chicken and Cress Spread

    After a long and relaxing summer holiday, school has started again. While it’s nice to get back into the routine, one thing which can get a bit tiring is the daily task of figuring out what to put in my child’s lunchbox. I avoid processed lunch meats because of the preservatives and artificial ingredients in them, which means that I often rely on turning dinner leftovers into quick sandwich fillers. But then there are days when dinner just doesn’t translate into a sandwich filler.   Because of this, I often prepare my own sandwich spreads which last well in the refrigerator for three days. A simple homemade sandwich filler which I sometimes make is ‘Chicken and Cress Spread’. The chicken is gently poached in salted water with some aromatic spices and garlic cloves. Adding fresh cress (also called garden cress) brings a distinctive peppery taste to the sandwich spread. Don’t confuse it with [Continue reading…]

Aug 012016
 
Seasonal Snacks: August - Watermelon

  Watermelon is the quintessential summertime fruit snack. True to its name, watermelons are more than 90% water so are extremely refreshing and hydrating. However, despite their high water content, watermelons are powerhouses of nutrition as well.   Lycopene – Lycopene is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants, usually found in pink and red fruits and vegetables. It helps keep a variety of diseases at bay by clearing your body of harmful free radicals and has been shown to protect your skin against harmful UV rays. While tomatoes are especially well-known for their lycopene content, watermelons have an even higher concentration of lycopene than tomatoes. Vitamin A – Vitamin A is good for maintaining the health of your eyes, skin and bones. Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps support your immune system, maintains skin elasticity, and helps your body heal and repair itself. It is also believed to increase your blood flow [Continue reading…]

Jul 242016
 
Recipe: Saffron Couscous and Chickpea Salad

  ‘Saffron Couscous and Chickpea Salad’ is a great summertime salad to bring to a picnic. It is packed with flavour, delicious at room temperature, and doesn’t get soggy. By steaming the couscous in saffron-infused stock (chicken or vegetable), all the delicious flavours are imbued directly into the grains so there is no need to make a separate dressing.       SAFFRON COUSCOUS AND CHICKPEA SALAD (Serves 4)   Ingredients:   200g dried coucous 250ml hot stock (vegetable or chicken) ½ tsp loosely packed saffron strands 1 tsp sea salt 2 Tbsp EVOO + 3 Tbsp EVOO 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 240g drained tinned chickpeas 8 cherry tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into bite-size pieces 6 radishes, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces 1 small or ½ large cucumber, quartered and chopped 2 Tbsp coriander leaves, chopped 2 Tbsp mint leaves, chopped   Optional garnish (pomegranate [Continue reading…]

Jul 012016
 
Seasonal Snacks: July - Cherries and Peaches

    Summertime is prime stone-fruit time and my two favourites are cherries and peaches.   Cherries: When I was a little girl, I remember eating cherries straight out of a colander, freshly rinsed. I was taught that the darker cherries were sweeter and I would spend time examining the pile looking for the darkest cherries, with extra joy when I found twin-cherries joined by the stem. However, there are many varieties of sweet cherries which  come in a variety of colours from deep burgundy to bright red to yellow. When buying cherries, look for glossy firm skin and green stems. Cherries stay freshest in cold storage so make sure you keep them in your refrigerator rather than on your countertop (unless you plan on eating them straight away, in which case your countertop is perfectly fine). Cherries freeze well if you remove their stone, place them in a single layer on a tray [Continue reading…]

Jun 172016
 
Recipe: Grilled Aubergine (Eggplant) Salad with Spicy Maple Dressing

  Grilled vegetables give salads a lovely depth and heartiness and one of my favourite vegetables to grill is aubergines (eggplants). To get lovely tasty grill-lines on your aubergines, you will need to use a griddle pan, panini press or barbecue. If you don’t have any of these, fear not. Roasting your aubergine slices in a hot oven or pan-frying them in a little olive oil also works well (although you won’t get the coveted grill-lines).   Whether you decide to salt your aubergines before cooking them (to eliminate bitterness) or not is entirely your decision. I don’t salt aubergines before cooking them and I have never experienced the bitter flavour which people talk about. However, I do tend to buy small or medium sized aubergine, so it is possible that these don’t have as much of a problem as the larger variety.   This aubergine salad recipe has a nice punchy Spicy Maple Dressing, and is easy [Continue reading…]

Jun 012016
 
Seasonal Snacks: June - Berries

  June is the start of summer and the month to look out for all types of berries. There are probably 1,000 great reasons to eat berries by the handful while they are in season, but the best reason is that they will be at their sweetest and juiciest at this time of year.   Look for shiny firm berries with a strong colour and avoid ones which are soft, bruised or leaking. Eat them on their own, or add them to yogurt, cereal, desserts or salads for a boost of fiber and the antioxidant Vitamin C.   Strawberries  ·  Raspberries  ·  Blueberries  ·  Blackberries Mulberries ·  Bilberries ·  Black Crowberries ·  Boysenberries Elderberries ·  Loganberries ·  Gooseberries ·  Blackcurrants ·  Redcurrants     * The produce above is in season in June in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, June seasonal produce includes pears, kiwifruits and kale.   Follow Me:

May 182016
 
Recipe: Kale and Spring Vegetable Salad

  Kale is one of my favourite green leaves to put into a salad because you can pre-toss it in dressing and it won’t get limp for days. My general method with most kale salads is to massage the kale leaves by chopping them and then squeezing them between my hands for about three minutes. It makes a world of a difference because the relaxed kale leaves become softer and more flavourful.   These days, I’m tossing my kale salads with roasted spring vegetables. Any three vegetables that roast well would work in this recipe, but do try and look for different coloured vegetables to get the most variety. Here I used carrots, leeks and beetroots. I’m using some irresistibly cute mini vegetables which I found in my market, but if you can’t use mini-sized vegetables feel free to use the regular-sized ones and simply cut them into bite-sized chunks.     Kale and Spring [Continue reading…]

May 022016
 
Recipe: Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote (with a hint of rosewater)

  Rhubarb and strawberries come into season at almost the same time, with rhubarb making its appearance first and strawberries following soon on its heels. Their flavours work beautifully when lightly stewed together. At its simplest, all you need to add is some brown sugar and a little water. I like to incorporate other flavours into it as well. This recipe for ‘Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote’ uses vanilla essence and rosewater to bring some Eastern flair to the dish. The compote stays fresh in the fridge for upto a week, and is delicious spooned onto yoghurt, smoothies, porridge, custard, chia pudding, pancakes or meringue.   RHUBARB AND STRAWBERRY COMPOTE (with a hint of rosewater) (Makes 3 cups)   Ingredients: 250g fresh strawberries 450g fresh rhubarb (discard leaves as they are inedible) 3/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 tsp sea salt 1/4 cup water 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla essence 2 tsp rosewater [Continue reading…]