Just Peachy

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This week I’ve increased my calorie intake to 20% above maintenance (SHOCK HORROR – not all women are trying to lose weight) in effort to get stronger and build more muscle. Eating so many calories of food that’s actually nutritious can get pretty difficult, especially when half of it is from sustainable carbohydrate sources. I’ve found that at the end of the day I usually have some carbs to make up in my macros and at 9pm in the evening, I don’t want more oats, sweet potatoes or brown rice.

I’m not good at eating fruit in general, I don’t particularly like it, especially not for dessert, largely because it’s not cream or chocolate. However, I absolutely love it cooked. Stewed apples, caramelised bananas and my latest obsession, roasted peach.

Peaches are so sweet and juicy at this time of year and easy to make into a delicious pudding. This dish is very high in carbs, which I know isn’t suitable for a lot of people, especially mid-cutting season!! But if you struggle with sugar cravings and want a fuss-free, delicious summer pudding, you can’t go far wrong. Yeah, it’s sugar, but at least it’s natural sugar and with the addition of greek yoghurt, you get a liiiiittle bit of protein too.

This isn’t even really a recipe as such, more of a construction. Just a side note – peaches are one of the fruits you really should buy organic. They’re so sweet that they require a gas tank of pesticide to keep flies away, so organically grown peaches are much safer and more delicious.

  • 1 peach per person
  • 170g Total Greek 0% fat yoghurt
  • handful pistachios, roughly chopped
  • handful blueberries
  • maple syrup
  • cinnamon

Approx macros per serving: Kcal – 221 Carbs – 44g Fat – 2g Protein – 6g

Method:

Heat the oven to 150C. Halve and stone the peaches, then fill the indent with blueberries. Put into a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with maple syrup (I could drown in the stuff, so use 2 tbsp per peach, obviously adjust it if you care about dental health). Bake for 40 mins, until peaches are very soft.

Serve with the Greek yoghurt and chopped pistachios. And maybe some more maple syrup…..

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Spring pea & bean salad with mint and feta

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In the warmer weather, I always crave fresh, green, light food that’s nutritious and full of summer flavour. I love small dishes and make this Spring Salad a lot for my vegetarian friends as part of a tapas table. It’s a great lunch or solo supper with wholemeal pittas and hummus cut with creme fraiche and paprika.

If you’re a carnivore, it’s a fantastic accompaniment to grilled chicken and won’t be out of place at a BBQ either.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can white beans (I use Canelleni)
  • 1 cup/ 300g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup/300g peas (fresh or frozen)
  • large handful mint
  • large handful corriander
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • glug extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • crumbled feta
  • Wholemeal pitta breads and creme fraiche mixed with hummus & paprika to serve

Method:

Drain and rinse the white beans and add to a large bowl. If using frozen broad beans and peas, simmer on the hob for approx. 3 mins, drain and immediately tip into a bowl of ice water to blanche and keep the vibrant green colour. Drain again and add to the bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, except the mint. This will turn black in a few hours, so keep it until you want to serve. Season to taste & preferably eat al fresco!

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What the super rich eat at Christmas (probably)

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What do you buy someone who has everything? An entire Iberico ham of course!

I love browsing the food & drink sections of London’s best department stores at this time of year and imagining all the delicious, yet seemingly pointless fayre I’d buy if the pot of gold was everflowing. These “gifts” as Harrods et al. like to brand them are absolutely ridiculous! I can’t contemplate how anyone could justify the price tags of the above (except maybe the gummy bear…?!) but it is fun to wonder. I mean, there must be a market for them, right?!

I do often wonder when I’m dressing a salad why I didn’t buy olive oil with 24 carat gold flakes in it, just a fraction more than ol’ Filippo Berio at £750. I could easily wash that down with a single malt or two, a snip at £987,500. THAT’S RIGHT, literally million pound whiskey…and I thought Jack Daniels Honey was pushing the boat out…

From left to right: 8kg Iberico ham on the bone, £975 Fortnum & Mason; World’s Largest 5lb Gummy Bear, $40 It’s Sugar at Selfridges; The Dalmore Peterson Whiskey Collection,  £987,500 Harrods; Golden Olive Oil, £750, Harrods.

 

Dark Chocolate Honeycomb

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Honeycomb is one of my top treats, especially at this time of year. The texture makes it so fun to eat and the dark chocolate adds interest to the saccharine flavour. I saw this on the front of Waitrose Kitchen magazine and just had to try it as a fab foodie gift for Christmas! I like to take it in little bags tied with ribbon and a parcel tag to all the random drinks parties I end up at over the festive season. It’s better than flowers, which don’t fit with most people’s Christmas decorations and is something more exciting than chocolates or another bottle of wine.

For one small tin:

+100g caster sugar

+ 4 tbsp golden syrup

+1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

+150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or more)

Mix the sugar and golden syrup together. The texture should be like wet sand, not a smooth paste.

Let the mixture boil in a saucepan on the hob and when it’s very bubbly, gently shake the pan – do not stir as the sugar starts to crystalise.

Remove from the heat and add the bicarb. Stir thoroughly and quickly with a wooden spoon and then tip into a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

Wack it in the fridge for about 20 mins and then break it up with your hands or bash it with a hammer!

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Melt the chocolate and dip the shards of honeycomb in. Leave them to set on greaseproof paper in the fridge. Don’t worry – the chocolate won’t stick and they’ll be easy to peel away when set.

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Autumn Squash Soup

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Butternut squash is one of those amazing vegetables which tastes so good and is so versatile that it doesn’t need much seasoning or flavour. It’s sweet, velvety texture and cheerful colour is perfect for an Autumnal soup to warm up and snuggle down as the days get colder.

An easy-peasy recipe, a monkey could make this (and I’m sure they would love it too!) The hardest bit is cutting up the squash…I need to do some more bicep curls!

Tip: Keep the butternut skin to make little crisps

+ 1 butternut squash

+ 2 fat cloves garlic, chopped

+ 2tbsp olive oil

+ 3 tbsp butter

+ 500-600ml chicken stock

+ Smoked paprika, to season

Heat a large casserole dish on the hob over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and when warm, the garlic. Peel and cube the squash, remembering to keep the peel. Add the squash to the pan and stir to coat in the oil. Keep stirring to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn. After a minute or so, add the butter and coat the squash. Finally, add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Meanwhile, heat the oven to 140C and toss the butter nut skin peelings in some seasoned olive oil. Roast in the over for 20 minutes to crisp up.

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When the squash has softened in the stock, blitz with a hand blender, or in the food processor to the texture you’d like. I always choose thick and velvety!Season to taste with black pepper and smoked paprika.

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Blueberry Breakfast Muffins!

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I am absolutely crazy for blueberries at the moment. They’re in peak season and really delicious this year. Of course, their sweet, floral, burst-in-the-mouth juciness makes them fabulous on their own, with some natural yoghurt and granola. But they’re even better when baked into a dense, squidgy muffin. What better way to kick-start the day?!

I 100% condone eating cake for breakfast, if it puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day then it can only be a good thing. Energy slump, menergy slump; blueberries are FRUIT! Each muffin has 8 blueberries in, which must count as one of your five a day. Plus, there are only 85g of sugar in the entire recipe, which is no way near a cupcake.

MUSELI CAN DO ONE.

blueberry muffins

A Paul Hollywood Recipe

Makes 8 muffins:

+ 125g (ish) Blueberries

+ 2 large eggs

+110g unsalted butter

+ 85g caster sugar

+ 110g plain flour

+ 1 1/2 tsps baking powder

+ pinch nutmeg

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The next morning, take the mixture out of the fridge and spoon it into muffin cases set in a muffin tin. The mixture will be very firm and quite sticky, but you should be able to push it into the cases quite easily. Fill each case just under half-way up the case and then stud each with about 8 blueberries.

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Bake in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes, or until slightly golden on top. Serve with a generous mug of coffee and without a second thought to cereal.

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super quick – beetroot & mint dip!

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This dip is amazing – earthy, fresh and tangy. Perfect with bruschetta, spread on crusty bread, pitta, with tortilla chips or veg sticks; it goes with everything AND it’s bright pink! Ok, so I’ve used vac-pack beets for ease and speed, but beetroot is in season and you can’t beat the velvety texture of the fresh stuff, so if you’re not as lazy as me then get some. This is vegetarian and easily adapted for vegans too. Just replace the feta with almond feta and  instead of creme fraiche, use vegan cream cheese cut with a little lemon juice.

ingredients

Blend the beetroot and cumin together to get a course paste

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Decorate with a few small mint leaves and serve with..pretty much anything!DSCF4051[2]

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Broad Bean & Feta Bruschetta!

There is an abundance of amazing produce in season at the moment and it’s so fresh and full of flavour that not much needs to be done to create a simple, fast and fresh dish.

I’m not a fan of beans. I wish I liked them all, but I really cannot abide a stringy, lank runner bean, or a stodgy, floury kidney bean. But, broad beans I can get on board with. Fresh, earthy and sweet, all they ask for is a little prep work.

Ahh the prep work… slicing the beans from the protective pods they’re sewn into is novel, almost therapeutic. Popping them from their rubbery membranes is just fiddly and mind numbing. So, controversially, I haven’t bothered to with this recipe. And it’s bloody delicious, SO THERE!

If you’re a better person with (too much) time on your hands to shell them up, let me know how good the flavour is!

ingredients

Blanche the beans for 2-3 minutes in a pan of boiling water, then run under a cold tap until cool to the touch.

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Put the beans in a bowl with the garlic and olive oil. Blitz up to a chunky paste and season

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Stir in the spring onions, mint and feta

step 4

Toast your bread slices (do as many as you like) and drizzle with a little more oil.  Spread with the broad bean and feta and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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A fast, fresh and seasonal lunch or starter!

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