Apr 022017
Quinoa Salad with Thai Dressing

    In my opinion, the best quinoa salads are the ones which are slightly outnumbered by the other ingredients in the salad. I’ve been subjected to several quinoa salads in restaurants which were really not much more than simply a plate of cold bland quinoa with a few vegetables and a barely-there dressing. Quinoa is a wonderful carrier of flavours so virtually any dressing works well with it. The Thai Dressing used in this recipe is flavourful yet light. I tossed my quinoa with lots of fresh crunchy vegetables diced small enough so that each forkful gets a little bit of everything.You can use the same vegetables as I did (carrots, red bell peppers and cucumbers) or any combination of your choice as long as the total amount of vegetables comes to 3 cups.   QUINOA SALAD WITH THAI DRESSING   Dressing Ingredients: 40ml fresh lime juice 1.5 Tbsp fish sauce (nam pla) 1 Tbsp sesame oil [Continue reading…]

Mar 152017
Recipe: Basil Pesto

    Let’s just get one thing out of the way now. Fresh basil pesto will always be superior to the variety you buy in jars at the supermarket both in taste and in nutrients. The ingenious combination of six simple ingredients comes together to make a vibrant flavour that jarred pestos can only dream of having. And need I mention the intoxicating smell in your kitchen? Traditionally, pesto was made using a pestle and mortar but using a food processor works very well too. Making pesto at home is probably one of the easiest ways to get your kids to help out in the kitchen and contribute to a meal.   Basil Pesto is delicious tossed with freshly boiled pasta, spread in a sandwich, used as a dip for vegetables, or mixed into a salad dressing to add some vibrancy to it.     BASIL PESTO (makes approximately 1 cup)   Ingredients: 100g fresh basil leaves [Continue reading…]

Jan 252017
Recipe: Grilled Endive, 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 [Continue reading…]

Jan 152017
Early Harvest EVOO: Great for January Salads (Guest Post by Judy Ridgway)

  I am really pleased to share this guest blog post which Judy Ridgway has written for my readers. Judy is an independent olive oil expert and here she shares her knowledge about Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil including suggestions for which ones to look out for. She also includes two delicious salad recipes, ‘Greek Village Salad’ and ‘Tomato, Cheese and Mackerel Salad’. Judy Ridgway is co-author of ‘The Olive Oil Diet’ and blogger at www.judyridgway.co.uk. She can also be followed on Twitter @judyoliveoil.   If you want to check out my guest post for Judy (which includes the two salad recipes pictured above, ‘Sicilian Winter Salad’ and ‘Grilled Endive and Blue Cheese Salad’), go to http://www.judyridgway.co.uk/great-winter-salads-from-blogger-total-salads/.     Early harvest oils   I have just seen the first “early harvest” extra virgin olive oil of 2016 on sale on the internet, and the shops should see their first oils soon. The olive [Continue reading…]

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…]