Sunday, 18 June 2017

Chopped salad with Ginger Dressing

This is a delicious salad which is great on his own or as a side dish.  

Crunchy, healthy and delicious.  Great vegetarian food or a side dish with spicy grilled prawns.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Did you let 10 seconds ruin the whole day?

It was a great day today, loads got done, I managed to achieve more than I expected but then my mood crashed.  A throwaway comment passed onto me third hand brought me back down to earth with a bump and I did it, I very nearly let it ruin my day.

I saw a post on Linkedin a few weeks ago pointing out that if you had £10 stolen from you but someone gave you £86,390 in the same day, you'd feel pretty good about life.  We have 86,400 seconds in a day.  Why do we allow 10 seconds to affect the remaining 86,390?

People say and do thoughtless things, hurtful things at times but the majority of things which hurt us aren't intended to do so and even if they were, it is a decision (conscious or unconscious) to allow that 10 seconds to become a big deal.

So here are some tips to put it all in perspective.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Goats Cheese Salad

I love salads which combine warm and cold ingredients and this super special salad takes delicious, creamy, melting goats cheese and mixes it with a spiced dressing and pepperly leaves.  Delicious.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

How to motivate yourself to exercise in the morning

It can be tough fitting exercise into your regime, especially when you're a parent.  A great time to try is in the morning.

But lying in bed, it's comfy... I know, it's tricky to drag yourself out so I thought I'd give you a few motivations.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Vegetable Curry

I love vegetarian Indian food.  There are so many vegetarian people in India (a quick google search said 31%) and figures from the UN says India has the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world.  These has my favourite vegetables in a curry, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and cauliflower give substance and make you feel full without meat.  Long before cauliflower was trendy, Indians were using it in curries.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Mushroom and Bacon Pot Pie

May in the UK can be getting the sun cream out one minute then racing back indoors for an umbrella and a coat the next so my cooking swings from barbecues to heartier fare.

This pot pie is nothing fancy but it is very tasty.

Friday, 26 May 2017

My favourite barbecue recipes

I love a barbecue and as long as you follow barbecue food safety tips, there is no reason why it can't be a delicious and lovely way to eat.  I have been known to even fire up a barbecue just for me because I love them so much.

I am often disappointed though when a barbecue means a burned sausage or a dry as a hockey puck burger.  Barbecues can be so much more delicious and innovative than that!

So here are some of my top tips for barbecue deliciousness!

Tips for a safe and brilliant barbecue

I remember when I was learning about food safety early in my career being taught there were peaks in food poisoning incidents which correlated with barbecue season and Christmas.  If you think about it, some of the reasons are the same.  We are sadly a nation of people who don't cook as much as we used to and let's face it, the person manning the barbecue is not always the most experienced chef.

That said, some of the advice on cooking safely on barbecues does take the joy out of them (I'm not going to suggest cooking all the food in an oven first, I'm going to assume some common sense!)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Edible Flower Salad

This light savoury salad was inspired by the beautiful flowers responding to the sunshine in my garden.  I combined three different types of edible flowers into a really light early summer salad.  This was great as a really light meal or starter / appetizer on its own but would also be great as an impressive looking side dish.

The cucumber gives a lovely texture and removing the skin helps the flavour of the herb flowers sing out.

I wouldn't use commercially sold flowers for this as you don't know if they're ok to eat or if they've been sprayed with pesticides, only use ones you've grown yourself and know haven't been sprayed.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Slow Cooked Chunky Beef Chilli

I love chilli made with minced beef but I love this recipe even more with meltingly soft and tender chunks of beef in a rich, spicy sauce.  You get far more texture and variety making chilli this way and the slow cooking makes the flavour awesome.  Smoked paprika may sound like an odd ingredient but it gives a sweet smoky depth to the stew.  Just make sure you use sweet smoked paprika or test the flavour first as you can get spicy versions.

Chilli flakes and powders vary (mine was a pretty new jar and the more recently the jar or pack is opened, the spicier it will be) so you may find this less spicy than you like.  My top tip though is to use some tabasco or other hot sauce to bring up the spice at the end if you feel that it needs it.  The problem with slow cooking is it tends to intensify the flavours of chilli so it's easy to end up with a chilli at the end which is more "blow your head off" than "gently warming" so I'd err on the side of cautious then correct the flavour at the end.  The other benefit being you then have a more multidimensional flavour.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Lamb Kebabs

A recipe which is ideal for the barbecue or the grill (broiler) if the weather is disappointing.  Lamb is great for grilling; it has natural fat which keeps the meat tender but also, like steak it benefits from being served slightly pink.

This is a very simple recipe for some simple lamb skewers.  If the weather ever improves I'll be nibbling on this delicious lamb and hummus for the rest of the summer.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Roasted Vegetables with Feta Cheese

This past week I've been full of cold and generally off my food.  All I've been eating is anything with loads of spices to try and shift the bunged feeling.  Today, at last, I'm starting to feel better but the weather for the year is still cold and miserable so I put together this dish of lovely summery roasted vegetables.

My herbs are looking fabulous right now with all the wet weather this week and it helped cut through the lingering dullness from my snotty nose.

I mean, look at that?  How you can still feel anything but summery and healthy when that was your lunch?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Social Media Detox

Social media.  Love it or loathe it, it's become a huge part of our lives, some would say too big a part.  So how does it feel to wind back the clock and be without it for a while?  Believe it or not, Facebook is only 13 years old and Twitter only 11.  How quickly these things have become something which seemed essential yet, to my 21 year old self would never have occurred to me as necessary.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Chorizo Rice

I've been making this recipe for years.  Traditional paella does not contain chorizo but after trying an inauthentic recipe with it in, I realised that if I just made a rice dish with the chorizo, it would be a pretty tasty.  Also as you miss out the saffron, this makes this recipe pretty cheap.  The extra smoked paprika flavour means you don't need much chorizo for this dish either.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

King Prawn and Fish stew with Couscous

This is like an ode to the summer to come.  There is a hint of spring and summer in this dish while being comforting enough to take you through a cooler spring day.

This was also inspired by a trip to my local fish counter.  They had some beautiful looking large raw prawns and I decided to treat myself.  They were pretty expensive though so one way to have something which is a big treat like these prawns is to cook them in a dish with much cheaper fish, here I used mackerel and squid.

What's in season in May?

May is one of the seasons I love the most.  British produce is starting to creep back into the shops and although we still have the occasional cold day, summer feels like it really could be just around the corner.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Harissa Lamb Chops with Cous Cous

I had a sudden lusting for lamb while in the supermarket today.  Lamb isn't something I eat a lot of but there is something delicious about lamb with Middle Eastern and North African ingredients.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Roast Pepper Sandwich

I love a "different" sandwich.  My son, sadly, gravitates towards ham whenever he's given a choice but sandwiches can be as boring as white bread with wafer thin ham or as interesting as this little beauty.

This is a delicious but messy sandwich; have napkins nearby.  If you'd like to eat this with more decorum and less goats cheese on your chin, use cold bread and allow the peppers to cool before assembling.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Food Myths

A quiet Easter weekend got me thinking about some food myths which seem to persist however many times they are debunked.  I've discussed some here but please add your own or comment and take part in the debate!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Fruit Kebabs

An unashamedly childish recipe here.  I used to have a blog Mamacook all about food for kids and this was one recipe I made loads but never got round to blogging.  There are loads of ideas out there for healthy and fun foods for kids and one of them is fruit kebabs.  The downside though is the stick.  What is the fun in the boring stick and if you use a skewer it's a bit risky for younger kids too, you don't want sharp wooden sticks going in their mouths...

Well I have an answer I came up with a few years ago and it is so simple!

Monday, 3 April 2017

"Lack of exercise kills as many as smoking"

This was a quote someone said to me recently when she was talking about a mutual friend she'd been trying to encourage to exercise.

It's a shocking statement.  We all know that smoking kills you and while, hey, we all have to die of something, smoking kills you earlier than you would have died from perhaps something completely unrelated.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

White Chocolate, Irish Cream and Coffee Cheesecake

A delicious cheesecake recipe made even cheekier by a touch of Bailey's and subtle coffee flavour from the base.

I found myself at a restaurant recently and, unusually for me, I found myself not interested in any of the dessert options.  Had this been on the menu however, I would have jumped at it and probably asked for seconds.  This is a pudding to make for a loved one but only if they've been really lovely to you.  (Don't tell them how easy this is, there could be major brownie points!)

What's in season in April

How is it April already?  There is blossom on the trees and it genuinely feels as though spring is here and summer can't be far away.  Spring is such a great part of the year, lighter evenings, the promise of warm weather to come, summer holidays may be months away but they feel measurably closer than a few months back.

The shelves of the shops start to change too and by the end of the month greenhouse soft fruits become more common and more flavourful.

Here are my pick of the ingredients to cook with this month.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Chicken with Haricot Beans

I love haricot beans, pulses are a great way to contribute towards your 5 (or 10 a day) while also getting a great source of energy, a fantastic alternative to pasta, rice or potatoes.

This recipe is not exactly healthy but it is delicious and reheats surprisingly well.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

What I love about London

Last week a man took a car in a part of London I know well and drove it into the crowds.  He then stabbed a police officer to death.  This was near where I'd been only days before along with the millions of other people who pass through Westminster every day.

If this is all you read it may make you fearful or lacking in hope.  For me, it didn't.  Last week was a fantastic example of the spirit of London and of British people.  It took me years to "get" London.  When you only travel at rush hour, it can feel cold and unfriendly.  It's not all that surprising because if you have your body pressed up against strangers for an hour, it's not the most pleasant feeling.  It would be wrong though to see London and Londoners as unfriendly, it's not true.

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Ultimate Steak Sandwich

This morning I went on a 6.5 mile training run.  I had a plan for a healthy lunch but in the supermarket there was a beautiful looking fillet steak which was reduced so this was my delicious lunch.

Yes, this is indulgent, no way is it healthy but this is all about one of the greatest sandwiches you'll eat.  It's a bit messy to eat so have a napkin nearby.  Cucumber and tomatoes are optional, some rocket leaves would be lovely as well.

This is also a great way to pad out a small steak.  If you served this with one or two side dishes this would be a great meal for two.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Spring Forward

The clocks go forward this weekend.  I mentioned this to a member of staff in my local supermarket called Anne.  She had said to me.

"Oh it's getting dark already!"
"Yes but next week the evenings will be much lighter, isn't that great?"
"Oh the clocks going forward?  So we lose an hour.  I hate that"

Monday, 20 March 2017

Sherry Trifle

People who know me well know I hate trifle.  I've even ranted on this blog on why trifle is so wrong.  Why don't I like it?  It's sludgy like babyfood but with a whack of sherry.  I tend to prefer food which requires my teeth!  People often use really cheap ingredients into a dish which is basically assembly rather than cooking and expect the finished result to be great.  This is a dish where no ingredient can hide.

So I challenged myself, is it possible to make a trifle I would enjoy eating?  Well it turns out that yes, it is and this is it!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Vanilla Cupcakes

I love vanilla.  It is a much underrated spice.  Vanilla is associated with "plain" or "not exciting".  I think it's time to give it more love.

Vanilla is the flavour people leave in a Neopolitan pack it equates with "no flavour" which is wrong... well I think it deserves more than that.  It is the delicious fragrance of patisserie.  It's time to rediscover it.

Friday, 17 March 2017

10 a day. What have I learned?

First of all, I've learned never to do another stupid challenge like this!  Seriously.  Anyway, I put my body through this so you can see what it's like kind readers!

Day 10 of 10 a day

The last day of this ridiculous challenge!

I'm joking but of course this has been a challenging thing.  Eating 10 different fruits and vegetables a day for 10 days in the quantities recommended by "official guidance" has been a challenge for my body, my mind and my wallet.  So I would be lying if I said I wasn't happy to be on the last day.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Teriyaki Salmon with Salad

I used a pre made Teriyaki sauce for this recipe and it was brilliant.  It made the fish delicious and juicy.  It's also great cold if you want to cook two pieces and save one in the fridge for the next day.

Day 9 of 10 a day

On the home stretch and today I feel fantastic.  It's like I've gone through the lull and come out of the other side.  I woke up at half past 5 with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Day 7 of 10 a day

7 days.  I swing between feeling this is an easy challenge and a really difficult one.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Day 6 of 10 a day


Learning from my experience so far, I went all out for 3 portions today.  80g pineapple, 120g melon (which still only counts as one portion) and 40g each of strawberries and grapes.  Surprisingly filling and satisfying and exactly what I wanted today.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Slow Cooked Chinese Style Pork

I had some pork belly strips in the fridge and wanted to treat them so they'd end up in a sweet, sticky and spicy glaze.  This is what I came up with, with the crunchy vegetables it turned out to be a delicious feast.

Day 5 of 10 a day

Yesterday was tougher than I expected and part of the reason was starting the day with only one portion at breakfast rather than two.  The key to getting 10 portions in a day is definitely to have no fewer than 2 with every meal, 3 is even better.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Day 4 of 10 a day

Day 4 of eating 10 a day.  I can't believe it's already day 4.  It's been a challenge so far.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Cauliflower and Pea curry

Pulses are great in curries, I often make them with chickpeas which are great but I wanted to make something different.  I have to admit the substitution of carbs and meat for cauliflower somewhat passed me by.  I tried cauliflower rice and it was disappointing.  The idea of "cauliflower steak" also doesn't appeal so it was with some trepidation I made a curry with no meat, no pulses and as cauliflower with the main ingredient.

I needn't have worried.  This is delicious.  The great thing about cauliflower is it's like a flavour sponge, it just sucked in all the gorgeous flavours from the sauce.  Did I care or even notice this dish is vegan?  Nope.  Did I miss the meat?  Not at all.

Day 3 of 10 a day

Three days in and the 10 a day is still not easy but becoming routine.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Day 2 of 10 a day

I started the day with one of my breakfast bowls.

This is a great way to get more fruit into your breakfast and you can easily fit in two portions, even three if you're really hungry.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Edamame Bean Salad

I love edamame (or soy) beans.  I had a delicious dish recently of some edamame beans in chilli sauce at a Japanese restaurant, they were utterly addictive.

This salad is less messy but no less tasty.  What's great as well is despite being all vegetables, the dressing brings it all together to make it taste like more than it is.  Super healthy.

Day 1 of 10 a day

Wow, what a day to chose to start this challenge; a day when I was eating away from home for two meals.  I do like to make life hard!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

10 days of 10 a day

A while back I gave myself a challenge to eat 7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day for 7 days.  A recent review of research by Imperial College however, has now suggested increasing this to 10 portions is where we need to be.

Now this is a challenge when you consider that even the most positive survey (which I doubt) proudly proclaims "A third of us are eating at least 5 a day!"  Which also means two thirds, i.e. the vast majority in the UK are not.  I also have the sneaking suspicion the Daily Mail only published that article because we were better than the German's at something.  #Justsayin'

So my plan is to eat 10.  Yep, 10 portions a day.  Twice the amount the NHS recommend currently.  There is a quote I love from Michael Pollan, he's not a dietitian but a journalist, his quote sums up what these next few days will be all about.

So the challenge is, can I do it?  For 10 days can I eat 10 portions of fruits and vegetables?

Monday, 6 March 2017

What's in season in March?

March, the hungry gap continues.  March is a difficult month for the seasonal eater, especially if you would stick only to UK produce.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Beef Pot Roast

Pot roasts.  Gloriously, flavourful, delicious, falling apart beef gorgeousness.  Are you with me yet?

Is it pretty?  Not really unless you love hunks of meat (sorry veggies, sometimes I do, everything in moderation).  Does it taste great?  Absolutely.

I have to get my disclaimer in first.  There is no making a pot roast for one.  There, I've said it.  So why am I posting this recipe?  Well despite the fact I made this in my weeny household, I did seriously cook 1kg of beef and it was so blooming tasty I certainly didn't mind eating leftovers for a few days but see tips towards the end for more on that.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Mixed Bean Chilli

I love chilli, I particularly love vegetarian chilli, slow cooked meat chillis, frankly I just love the heat.  What is great about this chilli though is as well as being vegan, it also contains mostly store cupboard and "likely to be in your fridge" ingredients.  It's so cheap as well and freezes brilliantly making it the ideal recipe for when the month is nearly up and your bank balance doesn't look quite so healthy.

You could mix up the beans in this; I would have used pinto beans if I'd been organised enough to soak and cook them (I couldn't find any in cans in my local supermarket.)  Of course you can use dried beans here which would make this even cheaper, just soak and cook them first as I find cooking them with something acidic like tomato if they're not already cooked through makes them a little tough.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Excuses You're Telling Yourself Not To Exercise

I know what you're thinking.  There are reasons why you don't exercise.  I used to have reasons up to the age of 34.  Here are my reasons and why I now realise they were all excuses.