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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Salsa style Quinoa two ways!

Certain flavour combos are just magic and here I have two Quinoa salads based on the same theme: Mango, Chilli and Lime!

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If you haven’t used Quinoa before click the link and you can not only see how to make it, but also learn about its awesome health benefits!  The beauty of Quinoa is that you can really have fun dressing it up, with all sorts of flavour combos as it has a natural, nutty, neutral base!

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In one salad I used garlic prawns and avocado and in the other I used gammon steak (although beef minute steak would also work really well) and rocket leaves.  I also added to both a bit of extra crunch with some chopped pistachios.  Both were sensational and a perfect lunch box filler!

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Salad 1

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250g cooked tri-colour quinoa, cooled.

1 x mango, scored like pic below, then flip “inside out” and slice off the cubes

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1 x chilli, chopped (deseeded if you don’t want it too hot)

1-2 limes, juice (depending on how juicy they are)

250g raw tiger prawns, pan fried in a little coconut oil with 1 x clove of garlic, about 2 mins until they turn pink, allow to cool.

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1 small bunch coriander leaves, chopped

1 x avocado, chopped

1x sweet romano pepper, chopped

handful of pistachios, roughly chopped (optional)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

pinch of himalayan salt

Combine all the above for a real taste sensation!

Salad 2

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250g tri-colour quinoa,

1x mango, chopped

1x chilli, chopped (see bracket note above)

1 -2 limes, juice (depending on how juicy they are!)

50g rocket Leaves,

1 sweet romano pepper, chopped

1x gammon steak pan fried, cooled & cut into strips or beef minute steak if you prefer

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

handful of pistachios, chopped (optional)

pinch of himalayan salt

Combine all the ingredients for salad 2 – no excuses, say goodbye to boring lunch boxes! 🙂

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Flying Steak Crispy Kale Salad

As a teenager I dabbled with being vegetarian, I then made life a little easier for myself by eating fish and chicken – being gluten-free can be challenging enough and cutting out other food groups by choice, perhaps made my life a little harder than it really needed to be – particularly on the social side of things.  I actually think your body has a good sense of what it really needs.  It was in a rather fancy restaurant in LA with my then boyfriend (he’s now my husband) that on scooting through the menu to see what I could eat (without having to make too many adjustments for my dietary requirements) my eyes fell on steak – a big juicy 28 day aged sirloin.  When the waiter arrived to take our orders even before I could think about the words coming out, I had ordered this large juicy steak, with a salad and sweet potato wedges – to say my boyfriend’s jaw hit the floor was an under statement!  I still remember that meal and can honestly say my body thanked me.  Since then I have gradually introduced all sorts of meat cuts alongside fish, seafood and poultry and of course I still eat a lot of vegetables, a little fruit, nuts, seeds, and home-made low GI cakes & treats and of course dark chocolate – and I believe that it is with this variety I have seen the most improvement in my general health and wellbeing not to mention my skin and hair.  This was my personal journey but I understand it is individual for everyone.

I have found that ordering good quality meat direct from a farm and knowing and understanding their farming practices really gives you peace of mind that you are getting a quality product. Also that the animals are treated humanely. From a cost perspective it often works out cheaper to order this way, than from buying individual cuts at the supermarket.

This super simple little salad I created goes along this theme of broadening the palate.  So bearing in mind the above paragraph I am not suggesting you head off to Trafalgar Square and pick up a pigeon from there… So I thought I would try some pigeon also known as flying steak – as it does indeed taste like a cross between a good steak (and duck I think!)  Super nutritious crispy Kale and a few sweet plums makes this a real showstopper of a salad.

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Ingredients:

4 wild pigeon breasts, seasoned with himalayan salt and black pepper

1 tbsp Coconut oil

1 onion roughly chopped

4 ripe plums sliced into bite sized pieces

1-2  200g bags of Kale, (if not pre-washed, rinse, salad spin & pat dry with kitchen paper, you want it to be as dry as possible)

2-3 tsp light olive oil

good pinch of himalayan salt

pinch of hot smoked paprika (optional)

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 100C,

Serves 2 or 4 if having as a starter.

1) Dehydrated Kale is really trendy right now and for good reason it tastes so darn good, not to mention it’s a crazy, super-power, vit hit!  You can buy a special dehydrator but for those on a budget or without the kitchen space, it is easy enough to do in the oven! I have said 1-2 bags of Kale – it really depends on how hungry you are, also it does tend to shrink when you dehydrate it; so I would say 1 bag is fine for a light salad for 2, but you might want to add a bag if doing a starter for 4 or you just want a larger salad for 2.  Spread the kale out onto two baking sheets (you might need more if using extra bag)  put a teaspoon or so of light olive oil on your hands and kind of massage the kale with it, really just a light coating – do the same with the other baking sheet of kale. Sprinkle with himalayan salt and if you like a little heat add the hot smoked paprika too.  Put into the preheated oven and turn the oven temp down to about 65C – bake or rather dehydrate the kale for 50-60 minutes until evenly crispy. You will achieve this by tossing the kale every 10-15 minutes to get an even crispness.  My oven is fan assisted, but it might depend on your oven settings to achieve the crisp level you want – with more or less time. I can literally eat a whole bag of crispy kale it tastes so good! 40 minutes into this process you can move on to stage 2!

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2) At the 40min mark, while the kale is still doing its crispy ‘thang, heat 1/2 of the coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until it is transparent about 2 minutes, then add the sliced plums and cook until they have a little colour approx 2 minutes.  Put the onion and plum mixture in a bowl to one side.

3) Then add the last bit of coconut oil to the pan, turn the heat up, you want it your pigeon breasts to sizzle when they hit the pan – cook these medium rare so they are a little pink in the middle (however if you prefer, cook a bit more – but too much and they might get a bit tough).  They should get a good golden browning on each side, I found it took about 2-3 minutes each side to achieve this. Once cooked to your liking, put them to one side to rest.

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In this pic you can see I sliced it quite thick, but I ended up slicing it thinner before adding to the Kale. My husband likes it this rare – but you can cook to order and plate up separately.

4) While the pigeon is resting add the onion and plum mixture back to the pan to warm through and soak up the meat juices.

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5) Finally get the Kale out the oven and add to a large bowl.  Slice the pigeon breast into bite sized slivers and add back to the onion and plum pan to get a good coating.  Finally toss the whole lot together in the large “kale” bowl.

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Inspired to try something different?

Why does Apple Cider Vinegar have a mother?

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Well, we have all come from a mother and I would hope for most people a loving one at that; but it does sound strange that a vinegar would “have/need a mother.”  I hope to bring some insight here.

Not many people would think of vinegar being particularly useful from a medicinal point of view but choose the right one and you have yourself a very powerful tonic for your body!  Yes vinegar can be bought in a wide variety of shops and many of us think of it as a good mixer for salad dressings or for chips or even for polishing windows! Unfortunately a lot of these vinegars are refined, filtered and pasteurised which gets rid of a lot of the health boosting properties that are beneficial to us.

Apple Cider vinegar is totally natural, resulting from the fermentation of apple juice to apple cider and then a second fermentation produces apple cider vinegar.  The mother is a web like formation that floats in the vinegar – it is full of beneficial bacteria, living nutrients and enzymes.  The vinegar although it has a low acidity (5%) to it, it actually has an alkaline effect on the body – apparently an overly acidic body can lead to more disease and illness.

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I have also read that it aids detoxification, is anti-fungal, lowers cholesterol, and can be beneficial for people suffering from arthritis – again I am sure that is related to balancing out the acidity in the body – acidity apparently can also mean more inflammation…

So you may ask how to take this powerful tonic?  Some people like to take it in a shot glass first thing in the morning and last thing at night – this is a strong approach!  Personally I put a splash into a glass and top it up with water – if I’m at home I’ll have 3-4 glasses a day.  For those that have a sweeter tooth, I recommend perhaps trying it with a little honey or a teaspoon of maple syrup.

I also use it to make my salad dressings and my home-made mayo:

Bella’s Vinaigrette:

4 tbsp Hemp oil (omega 3 fatty acids)

2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mummy!)

Pinch of Himalayan salt (84 trace elements)

Pinch black pepper

And how about a few snips of fresh dill

and a teaspoon of Wholegrain mustard to clinch it – see bracket below*.

(*try to find a mustard that is as natural as possible and gluten-free or alternatively crush a few mustard seeds bashed in a pestle and mortar)

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Power breakfast: left over chicken, avocado drizzled with Bella’s dill vinaigrette & radishes

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Power lunch: Smoked mackerel salad with Bella’s Vinaigrette

Bella’s home-made Mayo: with or without garlic: this makes enough to store in a jar in the fridge to use in other salads or for dunking crudites as a snack! Will keep for about a week.

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For starters? Prawns cooked in coconut oil & hot smoked paprika delicately drizzled in Bella’s home-made garlic mayo… Hungry yet?

Ingredients:

4 Fresh egg yolks (Organic Free-range if poss)

2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, don’t forget the mummy! 😉

1 small clove of garlic, crushed (optional)

2 tsp Wholegrain Mustard (again best to go as natural as you can here see above note *)

Approx 1/4 pint Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Salt (Himalayan if poss) & Black Pepper

Method:

Add the Egg Yolks to a food processor and blitz until the egg yolk starts to go a bit paler. At this stage slowly add the Olive Oil whilst the processor is still whizzing. The colour will slowly start to fade as the mixture starts to thicken. Next add the Apple Cider Vinegar one tablespoon at a time. After that add the crushed garlic (you can leave the garlic out if you don’t like it), Salt, Pepper and finally the Mustard – keep blending for another couple of minutes to further smooth and thicken the mixture. At this stage give it a little taste to check the seasoning – you might want to add a little more oil, salt or pepper or even a touch more vinegar – personal preference here but if you add anything more – just give it another whizz in the processor to make sure it is fully combined.  Add the mixture to jar and store in the fridge to chill down.

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Free range Gammon steak, steamed sweet potato and mixed chopped salad with grated carrot, celeriac, apple, lettuce, parsley, dill, toasted pumpkin seeds and Bella’s home-made garlic mayo!

Vegetables and salads should never be boring or tasteless and with the right combinations of dressings and textures your palate will be buzzing with joy and your body bursting with vitality and health! 🙂

Do you love me? Do you love me? Valentine Cookie Bites

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Heart shaped cookies for your valentine and the perfect red colour! If you love someone, you want them to be around for as long as possible! Just because it’s a “commercial” day of love, why not give them a delicious treat, that’s home-made and won’t ruin their health?

Ok here’s the scoop – one version can be done without the dark chocolate and these then actually become a delicious snack with creamy goat cheese.  Or with at least 72% dark chocolate you’re looking at that ultimate indulgence and of course adding lots of lovely anti-oxidants.  Super easy and great to share!

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Valentine Cookie Bites:

Makes around 50 small hearts or 25 large hearts

1 tbsp coconut oil

65g goat butter or more coconut oil if you can’t do dairy at all

juice of 1 lemon

1 large beetroot chopped fairly small

50g dried pitted dates

splash of water

1/2 a vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or a few drops of essence

45g cacao block, sugar free (I use Willis Cacao) roughly chopped

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pinch of himalayan salt

200g ground almonds

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (sieved)

40g 72% or more dark chocolate buttons (if you are adding) roughly chopped.

Method:

Preheat the oven: 140C

1) Peel and chop the beetroot, throw in a pan with the coconut oil and the lemon juice – lid on bring up to boil and then let simmer away for about 30 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool.

2) In the meantime put your dates, vanilla and a splash of water in another pan; cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes until most of the liquid has gone and the dates are soft. Allow to cool.

3) Blitz the softened, cooled dates in a food processor to make a paste.

4) Add the cooled beetroot including any liquid/juice left and the goat butter and blitz some more, until smooth.

5) Over a bain-marie melt the Cacao. Then add this to the beetroot mixture with a pinch of salt. Blitz again and then add the ground almonds and blitz briefly to combine.

6) Put the mixture into a large mixing bowl – add the bicarbonate of soda and fold in the roughly chopped dark chocolate buttons, if using.

7) Put a large ball of the mixture between two sheets of greaseproof paper – roll to about 3-5mm thick and get to work with your heart shaped cookie cutters – you might want to use a knife to cut away the excess mixture and leave the cookies on the sheet as you cut them – then you can just lift the sheet onto a baking sheet to cook. Repeat until you have no mixture left!

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8) Once they are all cut out bake in the oven for 20-25mins. Allow to cool before serving as the cookie bites firm up as they cool.

A little heart shaped gift box with home made cookies – who can resist?

And how about a little Love tea too?

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HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! 🙂