A painless pre-Christmas detox

It’s not too late to feel great this Christmas

Christmas doesn’t just start in December anymore. It seems to get gently rolling shortly after Halloween, with the pace picking up week by week, until this full throttle crazy week before Christmas. There’s more ‘Tis the season’ drinking, way more naughty nibble consumption and therefore a subtle slide into a ‘So what it’s Christmas’ behaviour.

I keep bumping into people saying they feel like they’ve already overdone it. I certainly started this week feeling like the wheels were nearly falling off,  that’s before a turkey has been cooked or a cracker has even been pulled.

Don’t panic, you can still make a few changes that will make an enormous difference to how you feel by Christmas Day.

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A simple, pain free, 3 day detox.

Here’s the plan. For 3 days follow this guide and you will slash your calorie intake, take on masses of vitamins and minerals and give your digestive system a much needed break. The result will be that you’ll feel energised, leaner and probably pretty pleased with yourself. It’s as much about sharpening your mind and mood as it is fitting into your snazziest Christmas dress.

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Firstly make sure you organise your equipment (you need a juicer and a blender) and stock up on the ingredients. Don’t drink alcohol or over indulge on sugar the night before. It won’t be easy if you start this with a sugar hangover and spiking insulin levels.

Each day:

  1. Have a hot water and lemon to start the day. (Have a black tea or coffee if you feel you can’t give up caffeine right now!)
  2. Follow with the green detox juice below
  3. Don’t snack all morning
  4. Another green detox juice for lunch
  5. Don’t snack all afternoon
  6. Finish with a very light evening meal such as soup and green salad, stir fried vegetables, poached salmon and salad.

Make sure:

  1. You avoid caffeine
  2. You don’t drink alcohol
  3. You avoid all sugar and don’t have any processed foods in the evening meal

The trick is not to think to hard about it. Just get up and get on with it and you’ll be fine.

A gorgeous green juice

This  is truly the most delicious green juice. It’s packed with good stuff and it’s easy to make as there’s not a lot of peel and faffage.

Get your ingredients out the night before and prep as you need for your juicer. Put them in a food bag in the fridge, so all you have to do is throw them in the juicer in the morning.

For each serving, juice the following:

  • 2 green apples
  • 1/2 a large cucumber
  • 4 celery stalks
  • A lemon
  • A decent chunk of ginger

Then add 2 handfuls of spinach to the blender and blitz. Add ice and away you go.

Mix it up or make your own

There are plenty other juice recipes you can try on this plan. I have just kept it basic to make it easy for myself. There’s so much going on with the Christmas prep that this approach makes it so simple.

Have a look at some other great juice recipes online:

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/wellbeing/galleries/34328/healthy-juices

http://www.juicemaster.com/recipes/juices/

http://ifocushealth.com/juice-detox-recipes/

Enjoy x

 

 

One pot chicken wonder

I am so in love with this recipe. Making this one is like a mini adventure, with a brilliant delicious reward at the end.

It’s a tender, heart warming chicken dish, perfect for Sunday supper. Prep this one early afternoon so it’s ready to roll a few hours later with steaming vegetables and a mellow glass of red rioja.

Taken from the amazing Nom Nom Paleo Cookbook, this clever slow cook chicken recipe delivers you beautifully succulent chicken, with a rich and incredibly more-ish vegetable gravy. It’s ever so simple, delightfully healthy and is now a thumbs up dinner winner for kids and grown ups in our house.

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I have adapted the Nom Nom recipe slightly. I found the gravy too thick on the original. It’s a forgiving dish to change, so have a go and tweak away if you need to.

My preferred ingredients to make this are as follows:

  • Nice family sized chicken – one that can fit in your slow cooker!
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 chopped leeks – white parts only
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 a mug of chicken stock
  • A tablespoon of dried herbs – I use tarragon, rosemary and thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce – trust me it works wonders here!
  • Pink salt and black pepper

And here is how to prepare the vegetables:

  1. Fry the leeks and garlic in the oil till soft, before adding the tomato paste and chicken stock. Allow to simmer for a further 4 or 5 minutes.
  2. Pop the soft vegetables in the bottom of your slow cooker and then move on to prepare the chicken.

Here’s how to prepare the chicken and finish the dish. It’s nice and easy:

  1. Season the chicken inside and out with your herbs, salt and pepper.
  2. Place the chicken breast down on top of the vegetables and sprinkle over the fish sauce.
  3. Put the lid on and leave on the low setting for around 4 hours. You need to check on things towards the end. A larger bird will take up to 5 hours.
  4. I turn my bird over for the last 30 minutes, just to ensure that all sides have been covered in the juices.
  5. When the bird is beautifully steamed and soft, take it out to rest for 15 minutes, before breaking off the meat.
  6. You need to ‘degrease’ the sauce. I do this by simply putting kitchen roll on top to soak up the fat.
  7. Once you are happy, simply blitz up the vegetables with a hand blender. Check the flavours and season if required. If you want a lighter sauce add a little bit boiling water to thin it out.
  8. Serve up with whatever works for you. Sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli makes perfect sense to me.

The ultimate beauty of this is the way the chicken stays so moist, cooking gently and soaking up the gorgeous garlicky flavours. Of course, there are so many other ways you could twist this towards your own favourite flavours.

Have a go and make it your own.

Happy Friday xx

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The lean green breakfast juice

OK it truly has gone well. We’ve been to new places, seen people we love, learnt new things and laughed a lot. We’ve also let go more than normal, barely stopped and run with less routine…

…So ROLL ON SCHOOL. I am more than happy to move into September. I like getting a tighter grip on normality and claiming back a few more moments of peace, quiet and order.

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For me, week 1 of the new term is about getting BACK TO BASICS. I’m taking the first few days to replenish and nourish but also to give my digestive system and liver a bit of a break.

Here’s my favourite lean green breakfast juice. I default back to this one all the time. It’s my comfort blanket of juices and always makes me feel really good about myself. If I start the day on this one, I keep on track all day.

Using a centrifugal juicer, extract the juice from the following:

  • 2 green apples
  • 1/4 of a pineapple
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 1 lime
  • About 10 mint leaves (put inside 2 chunks of pineapple to get as much juice as you can)

Then add a quarter of an avocado, blend and serve with lots of ice.

Take your time over drinking.

Quick tip: We all get mission drift from time to time. When we wake up tired or in a rush it’s easy to dodge the promise we made to ourselves the night before. It’s a good idea to prep the ingredients in the evening and seal them in sandwich bags. It means the morning job is the easy part.

To get BACK TO BASIC’S:

  1. Start the day with hot water and lemon
  2. Follow with a juice/smoothie, thinking about what’s missing from a nutrition perspective
  3. Exclude caffeine, alcohol and all refined sugars
  4. Incorporate a different juice/smoothie or a soup for lunch
  5. Eat a simple and light high protein evening meal.
  6. Don’t eat in the 3 hours before bedtime

If you try a few days of this, you’ll be feeling brighter, leaner and sleeping deeper by the end of the week. It’s a great way to get completely back in the game and fuel yourself with optimism for the next chapter ahead.

Happy new term.

x

Pumpkin power bites

Sometimes you don’t need to complicate things with a hefty recipe and lots of stages, especially when you want your children to engage with the idea of healthy eating and good food. The window of focus can be pretty short in our house, so if my son asks to help I like to give some pretty instant gratification.

little ninja nibbles

These little bites took us 10 minutes to make using basic cupboard ingredients. They’re delicious, naturally sweet and ever so moreish.

Simply:

  1. Blitz together 100g raisins with 50g of pumpkin seeds and a teaspoon of cinnamon
  2. Roll 10 small balls in some linseeds/flaxseeds.
  3. Keep in the fridge

For me these little nibbles are good to have around for a quick energy fix and also to keep my digestion on track. I am putting in quite a few miles at the moment in training for an event in 2 weeks. (Take a peak at the crazy event) Sweet option snacks that can also aid good digestive health means I can perform without feeling bloated and tired.

Why are they so powerful and fantastic?

  • Pumpkins are a feel good seed, they provide a good source of protein, zinc and posses a wide range of anti-oxidant qualities.
  • Raisins provide good forms of fibre and also iron, which you need plenty of if you’re exercising regularly.
  • Linseeds are amazing little seeds. They work wonders for IBS and constipation and just one to two teaspoons a day can make a dramatic difference to your digestive health.

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It’s good to share healthy things with our kids. Sometimes I think we can forget to offer them the kinds of nutritional snacks we eat, because it wasn’t how it worked in our parents day.  I’m sure he’ll be eating icecream with his friends later too – I’d call that a pretty fair mixed bag.

Enjoy x

Courgette pickle pots

Wow. Seriously, check out the beauty of these vegetables. I’ve been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of two fantastic batches of produce from a finca in Spain. It excites me to cook with such honest fresh veg. I feel privileged to know the person that picked them and slightly embarrassed about some of the other packaged produce sat in my fridge from the supermarket.

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So the season brings us green beans, courgettes and peppers. In abundance! I’ve been flicking through some of my old recipes as well as reading about other peoples take on courgette cake, stuffed peppers, roasted vegetables, fritters and stews.

First up this week, a wonderful warming pickle. This lively sharp pickle carries a subtle heat and makes a perfect partner for summer plates. Try with cheese and salads, or put a pot on the table when you serve up your next BBQ.

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This recipe makes two 500ml pickle pots as shown here. If you have lots of vegetables, then double or quadruple the recipe to make more. If you use vacuum sealed kilner jars it will keep for around 4 months.

It’s really easy to make. Although I guess its fair to say that the better the vegetables, the better the taste.

To make two pickle pots you need:

  • Around 500g courgette (ribboned with a peeler or you can slice thinly with a knife)
  • 4 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp english or dijon mustard
  • 500ml cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (about 250ml) maple syrup
  • Salt

To make:

  1. Cover the courgettes with water and sprinkle with salt, leaving for an hour.
  2. Heat the maple syrup and cider vinegar on a low heat to melt the syrup in to the vinegar.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the liquid, stir well, remove from the heat.
  4. Drain the courgettes and dry gently with kitchen roll.
  5. Mix everything together and divide into 2 jars. Pour the liquid in as equally as you can.
  6. Tighten the jars and leave the pickle to develop its flavours in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Fresh from the field:

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Enjoy x

Very versatile veggies

This is more of an idea than a recipe. It’s a great idea though. If it becomes routine, it will change the way you clear out all your leftover veggies, as well as help you fill those occasional creative spaces for mid week mealtimes.

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The idea is to use up all your vegetables in a simple rustic sauce, which can be used as the basis or accompaniment to lots of weekday meals. There are two tricks to this:

  1. Halve the end product – keep one half as a brilliant ratatouille and pulse the other to make a smooth ragu. Children LOVE this. It is jam packed with vegetables but with no evidence of ‘bits’. I have fooled my children with this one for some time now.
  2. Make more, way more than you need for one sitting. Portion up into freezer bags and label clearly. You can pull out as and when you need.

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Here are some of the ways you can use the sauces:

  • For the kids I use the ragu on its own as a sauce for gluten free pasta. You can finish it with crumbled soft cheese or grated parmesan.
  • Most commonly for the kids I use the smooth sauce to accompany meatballs or minced beef. Simply brown meatballs or mince and then add the ragu, simmering the sauce until the meat is tender. My children prefer both the texture and taste of this over any other sauce I make.
  • Liven up leftovers by pouring the sauce over shredded roast chicken. Serve with rice and corn on the cob.
  • The chunkier ratatouille is superb served really hot with a simple bowl of brown rice, yoghurt and a generous handful of chopped fresh herbs.
  • The ratatouille is also fantastic with fish. Place two piece of white fish in foil, sprinkle some halved olives and a squeeze of lemon, then cover in a generous helping of the ratatouille. Oven roast for 20 minutes and enjoy a fab meal for two.
  • Try a few spoonfuls on top of steamed asparagus. Sprinkle the dish with parmesan, grill for 2 minutes and serve with rocket leaves.

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To make this batch I used:

  • A tablespoon of coconut (or olive oil)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • A large white onion
  • 3 red peppers
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 large courgette
  • A handful of small tomatoes
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar
  • a teaspoon of oregano
  • 400ml of passata or chopped tomatoes
  • Low salt vegetable stock cube
  • Salt and pepper to season

To make:

  1. Chop the vegetables neatly into cubes.
  2. Fry the onions and garlic in the oil until soft before adding all the remaining vegetables.
  3. Add the herbs, puree, balsamic, passata and stock cube.
  4. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down, pop on a lid and leave to simmer for a good 45 minutes or so. The dish is ready when the vegetables are soft and tender. Add more water if needed, gauge the liquid based on how thick you want the ratatouille.
  5. Blitz up half, then store what you need in airtight jars and freeze the rest in bags.

Versatile and very scrummy veggies.

Enjoy x

‘Straight up’ hummus

Not ANOTHER hummus recipe! The internet isn’t short of hummus that’s for sure. I fell into the idea of making this particular hummus after a sidelines chat with a dad at our sons rugby sessions. He owns a great deli that makes amazing smooth and very authentic Israeli hummus.

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He wouldn’t part with his recipe ratios, but he did give me enough to go on. He also gave me these key important rules:

1. Don’t use canned chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas overnight and then slowly cook the them.
2. Don’t use oil to blend and loosen, but instead use the juice from the boiled chickpeas.
3. Make the hummus while the chickpeas are warm – this how you’ll get a smooth finish.
3. Keep it simple, stick to the traditions by just finishing with oil and paprika.

To make plenty of hummus (probably 4 shop size pot’s worth) try the following ingredients:

  • 250g chickpeas
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1.5 tablespoons of tahini
  • Juice of half to a whole lemon
  • Around 300ml of water from the cooking process – but this will vary from batch to batch.
  • 2 tablespoons of greek yoghurt – optional, I have made successfully both with and without

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in water. Then rinse well before cooking in water till soft. The water will need topping up and you need to keep checking on them. But it should take around 2 hours.
  2. Drain the chickpeas, but save the water.
  3. Add the crushed garlic (don’t be stingy if you like garlic, just go for it), half a lemon, greek yoghurt (optional) and then start pouring in the water while you blend.
  4. Taste, season and tweak as you need to for your own taste buds. I also think it’s best to walk away for a bit and leave all the flavours to settle in together and then re-taste.
  5. Try get some hummus eating action when it’s just been made. Generously drizzle with oil and sprinkle with paprika.
  6. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

Hummus is actually the Arabic word for chickpeas, which strictly speaking means you must have chickpeas in your hummus to make it a hummus at all. The varied alternatives out there are great, I’ll never turn down a quirky dip. However I do like the idea that this batch stayed close to the authentic ingredients and method.

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Enjoy x