Chicken & Peanut Buckwheat Noodles

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Another day, another tonne of carbs! Buckwheat noodles are the centre of this clean, gluten-free dish which satisfies cravings quickly and provides a steady supply of energy for hours afterwards (well, 2 hours…did I mention I’m bulking?!) You could use average noodles for this if you’re not fussed about eating clean, but buckwheat or soba noodles give it a Wagamamma’s feel and are much more nutritious.

Everything can be cooked from scratch and it’ll take about 30 minutes, or take a few short cuts and have it ready in 15. It’s a great one to whip up for a quick post-workout dinner, making extra for tupperware glory at lunchtime the next day.

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Ingredients (for 2):

  • 2 nests buckwheat noodles
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp nut butter (peanut or cashew work best)
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
  • 200g pack pre-cooked chicken (or 2 chicken breasts you’ve already cooked)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • handful sugarsnap peas
  • sprinkling of sesame seeds (I’ve used black sesame here for colour)
  • handful dry roasted peanuts, bashed up with a rolling pin.

Method:

If making from scratch, cook your chicken breasts at 170C (for 25-30mins). Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the noodles. Simmer for 4 mins. Meanwhile, combine the sesame oil, soy, lime juice, honey, nut butter, Tabasco and a splash of water in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 45 secs. Stir well to combine into a smooth sauce.

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Add the sauce to the noodles and then chuck in the chicken, pepper and sugarsnaps. Sprinkle with the dry roasted nuts and sesame seeds and serve!

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2 minute Guacamole

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There seems to be a bit of a dip theme going on at the moment on my blog, but hey, it’s Superbowl this weekend and so having a few speedy ideas for entertaining snacks is always handy.

I eat a lot of home made dips like this because they’re highly nutritious, satisfying and portable! Great to take to work with a few Ryvitas.

Guacamole is a great way of getting healthy fats via avocado and if you make sure they’re ripe enough, you can just squeeze the flesh out of the skin with your hand instead of fiddling around trying to slice it up. This recipe really does take minutes, just chuck everything in a blender, blitz and serve!

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 ripe avocado’s
  • 1/2-1 red chilli
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of corriander
  • 4 spring onions

I like to serve it with organic gluten free corn chips, so crunchy and way better than standard Doritos.

Quinoa & Halloumi salad with Harissa dressing

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I’ve been hearing a lot about quinoa since I started working out regularly, it’s a super grain that’s been a big deal for wholefoods health buffs for a while now; in fact the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has just announced 2013 as ‘The International Year of the Quinoa’ (no, really, true story). The health benefits are amazing, which is clearly the reason this ‘lil grain is making such a big fuss. Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wah’  (I have Lizzie of www.blueoctoberblog.com to thank for the pro-tip on pronunciation) is low in calorie content, but high in protein, making it a fab pre-workout lunch. The really amazing benefit though, is that unlike other grains, quinoa is gluten-free and anti-inflammatory, with a low glycemic index. Can you really afford not to be eating it?!
 
This is a really simple, healthy salad with plenty of tasty bits and the spicy kick from the harissa dressing makes it a perfect autumn lunch.
 
For the salad:
+ 40g quinoa per person
+ 1 block Halloumi cheese
+ 1/2 cucumber
+ large bunch of mint
+ handful cherry tomatoes
+ 1/4 red onion
 
For the dressing:
+ 1 tsp Harissa
+ 150ml natural yoghurt
 
Cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Check regularly to ensure it isn’t sticking. Meanwhile, chop all your salad ingredients up small and mix the harissa into the yoghurt.
 
Heat your pan to a high temperature. Halloumi sticks to everything – even some cheap non-stick coated pans. I was lucky enough to receive an Ozeri Earth Textured non-stick pan and have to say, it’s absolutely fantastic. Nothing sticks to it’s honeycomb patterned base, it’s easy to clean, high quality and best of all – contains no harmful chemicals or heavy metals often found in non-stick pan coatings. I was really impressed and have put the rest of the pan range on my Christmas list.
 
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http://www.amazon.com/Ozeri-Textured-Ceramic-Non-Stick-Coating/dp/B005473FMO

The quinoa shouldn’t need draining, just toss it up with the salad and coat in the harissa dressing. Add the halloumi pieces for the perfect hot/salty combination

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Oriental Beef Noodle Broth

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Nothing described as a ‘broth’ ever inspired me to eat it until one ‘under-the-weather’ Friday when I was totally knackered from work and wanted something quick, tasty and ultimately revitalising! I came across this on a recipe card as part of Waitrose’s Love Life range and have adapted it slightly. It’s the kind of meal that makes your body feel like a temple of goodness. I never got the ‘chicken soup’ thing, for me if something was going to heal me, it had to involve steak or liver. I was anaemic for most of my teenage years so I guess dinners to make me feel strong and healthy always revolve around red meat. This is GENUINELY tasty, unlike the majority of boring broths that are hard to get flavour in to. Nice as a light week night meal, or a Saturday lunch.

100g Thai Taste Rice Noodles
2 x Beef Stock Cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
3cm piece root ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
230g frying steak, trimmed of any visible fat
½ x 300g pack beansprouts
235g pack Green Pak Choi, thickly sliced
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve

Method

1. Place the noodles in a large bowl, cover with a kettleful of boiling water and leave to soak for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure the noodles don’t stick together.

2. While the noodles are soaking, place the stock cubes, onion, ginger, chilli, cinnamon, star anise and 750ml boiling water in a large pan and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

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3. Meanwhile, cook the steak in a non-stick frying or griddle pan for 2–3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned but still a little pink in the centre. Transfer to a plate, let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly. I cook it slightly rarer than usual as it does continue to cook slightly when added to the broth

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4. Stir the beansprouts and pak choi into the broth and cook for 2 minutes or so until the vegetables are tender.

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5. Drain the noodles and divide between 2 bowls. Ladle over the broth and vegetables then top with the sliced beef and coriander. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Incredible Indian – Super Curry Sauce!

DSCF6005[1]I first found Panjaban sauces on a recent trip to a farm shop near my mum’s in Northamptonshire, where they’re made. I have to admit, I’m not a huge curry fan. I like the odd takeaway but I’m not crazy about making curry at home, it takes so much practice and patience to get a good blend and balance of spices and aromats and after dealing with teenagers at work all day, I don’t have either of those in boundless quantities.

Panjaban makes it foolproof to whip up an insaaaane curry in no time. I’m talking absolutely delicious! In case you need more convincing, the sauces are free from gluten, nuts, sugar, ghee, yeast, wheat and dairy AND contain no preservatives, colours or additives. Just completely natural, simple combinations of ingredients.

For example, their Curry Base sauce contains…Onions, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, ginger, spices, salt, lemon juice and cumin seeds. THAT’S IT.

I know I sounds like a shameless PR rep and I promise, this isn’t a paid post or something I’ve been asked to do. I just think it’s incredibly refreshing to find a well priced, home made product that is easy to use and contains 100% natural ingredients. They also make fab chapattis and chutneys.

Visit http://www.panjaban.co.uk/home to order online or for stockist list

Almond and cinnamon cake : gluten & dairy free!

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I made this gorgeous cake using Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima app, which is fantastic; not least because every time you open it Nige pops up shouting ‘Ciao!’ in a fabulous, totally camp demeanor only she can get away with.

I have been obsessed with almond cake since I was living in Paris as an Au Pair. I had to stay with the baby’s grandma for a couple of weeks in the family’s Dordogne farmhouse, where she would condition me to eat like a real french person (I came close to death one day when I tried to put a Camembert wheel in the fridge…) Thus, I was only allowed 2 squares of plain chocolate per day, mid afternoon, with coffee, while the baby was napping. I mean, COME ON, that’s what they suggest you eat on diets, so you can imagine my frustration.

Now, at this time I was living the glorious life of an Au Pair; looking after a baby, full time (including through the night..) as well as 3 other kids under 10.  I had no energy and a serious sugar addiction. So much so that I used to walk the baby in the pushchair, 3 MILES to the nearest sign of civility – some caves with a tourist gift shack attached. They sold stalagmite paperweights and out of date 4 bar KitKats. I would bulk buy the KitKats, hoard them away in the baby’s changing bag and then transfer them to an under-bed hiding place in a cold draught when back at the farmhouse. I would eat one finger per day and wrap the rest up, so as not to look like I was having an affair with a cave tour guide.

One day, one glorious day, I went down to the kitchen for petit dejeuner and Catherine, the family’s cook and housemaid (yes that’s right…) had bought a huge frangipane-almondy-galette like cake. It was laid out on the table with the baguettes and coffee. I didn’t touch it until Grandmere Edith gave a slab, for fear that more than 2g of sugar would send me into a coma/ecstatic fit of joy, I don’t know which would have been worse.

It was the best cake I’ve ever tasted. Sweet, sooo sweet, dense and rich and buttery with that fragrant, almost floral nuttiness of so many almonds the cake could have been marzipan. I had 3 slices, shamefully, but it really was that good. When I asked why we had cake that day, Edith replied, in her stern french manner “because if you leave any more half-eaten KitKats under the bed the mice will come back”.

Nigella’s almond and cinnamon cake is the closest I’ve come to that cake, including raids in numerous french patisseries every time I’ve crossed the channel since. It’s really delicious and the almonds get sweeter and more pungent every day you keep it. PLUS it’s gluten and dairy free!

 

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ingredients

Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a mid-sized cake tin with a little olive oil. Line the base with baking parchment.

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Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins, but test with a skewer at 30. It can be tricky to know when a flourless cake is ready, but generally, when baked, the skewer will come out mostly clean, but with a few crumbs on it. If there is wet mixture on the skewer, you will need to return the cake to the oven and test every 5-10 mins from then on.

Let the finished product cool in it’s tin before gently removing. If it’s very sticky then you might be best leaving it in the tin, the meringue-type mixture is fragile and breaking a freshly baked cake in half is heartbreaking!

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