Well Friday has come around again. It’s been a positive week. I’ve been pushing myself and training in new ways. I feel absolutely goosed, but thankfully for all the right reasons. Although after this mornings pasting, I may struggle to walk in the morning and then I won’t feel so special.
I’m posting an easy snack recipe this week. I had a little play around and worked out that you can create a brilliant seedy cracker using water as the binding agent. Crispy, snappy and super seedy, these crackers are gorgeous on their own, but really moreish with a bit of cheese, a smidge of honey or dunked in a good dip.
To make 12 crackers, each with around 75 calories, here’s what you need:
150g seeds. Equal measures of the following works well – sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds and flaxseeds.
125 ml water.
Generous sprinkle of Himalayan salt.
Optional addition of 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes and a teaspoon of dried rosemary.
It shouldn’t be this easy but it is…
Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C.
Add 125 ml water to your seeds and leave for 15 minutes for the water to absorb.
Spread as thinly as you can on a lined baking tray. I’d say you want to aim for a thickness of 3 or 4mm.
Sprinkle with salt.
You can then add the rosemary and chilli flakes on one half of the cracker mix – creating 2 types of finished crackers.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove and cut into the sizes you want the crackers to be.
Pop back in the oven for about 20 further minutes until they really crisp up.
Store in a really good airtight container.
This is one of those ones that gives back massively based on the ratio of effort vs. end result.
I’ve not been very consistent with my posts this past few months. We’re winding into gear now. No really we are. We’ve got a timetable of post-school activities on the fridge. That is most definitely the green light, the go go go for routine and structure.
It doesn’t mean I’ve not been experimenting and trying out new recipes. In fact I’ve enjoyed not thinking too hard about it all and leaving the notepad and pen to one side for a while.
This week’s post features a fabulous Indian dish. I like the dry warmth of spices in this one, it’s lively but not powerful enough to take your breath away. In fact although spiced, this dish is rather fragrant and light.
It works well with both lamb and turkey. I’m just not a big meat eater personally and enjoy the lighter, leaner turkey version. To make enough for 4 people you will need:
For the meatballs:
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
500g turkey mince or lamb mince
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of hot chilli / regular chilli powder
2 birds eye chillies, chopped finely
1 large egg
For the rice:
A little coconut oil
1 large white onion
4 teaspoons of cumin seeds
4 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
200 grams basmati rice (white or brown)
450 ml water
A handful of fresh coriander
A good squeeze of lime
1 ripe sliced mango, natural yoghurt with chopped mint
To make, you’ll need around 45 minutes in total.
In a large bowl combine the meatball ingredients and season.
Wet your hands, then shape between 12 and 20 meatballs depending on preferred size.
Cover and place in fridge till you need, or at least for a few minutes to settle.
On a medium heat fry the meatballs in a pan till completely sealed with a brown finish.
Leave to one side until you’ve completed step 8. At this point place in oven for 20 minutes on 150 degrees Celsius.
To make the rice fry the onion in a frying pan till really soft – give this at least 10 minutes.
Add the cumin for 5 minutes before adding the bay leaves, cinnamon, water and rice.
Bring to the boil, then drop the heat low and pop the lid on.
Keep on the heat till the water is absorbed and the rice is steamed, soft and tender. This should take 20 minutes, but you need to test, potentially adding a little water too. Keep an eye on the process for the last 5 minutes.
When the rice and meatballs are ready, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon. Plate up with a generous squeeze of lime, some sliced mango, plenty of fresh coriander and a dollop of minted yoghurt.
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.
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
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:
Start the day with hot water and lemon
Follow with a juice/smoothie, thinking about what’s missing from a nutrition perspective
Exclude caffeine, alcohol and all refined sugars
Incorporate a different juice/smoothie or a soup for lunch
Eat a simple and light high protein evening meal.
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.
I think I am fairly late to the Nutribullet party. I bought one this summer, long after people started telling me how good they are. I’ve been happy with my juicer and blender, so I wasn’t sure I needed one.
Fool me. This thing is awesome. It’s both nifty and neat. Nifty, with patented powerful blades that make light work of hard vegetables and nuts. Neat, due to its ergonomic design. Thankfully you don’t need to consider a kitchen extension to accommodate all the gear that comes with it.
I can’t step away. I’ve been trying out new recipes every day, including fruit and yoghurt based breakfasts to leafy green lunch drinks.
This golden gazpacho is a complete doddle and absolutely perfect if you’re after a light and healthy summer lunch.
For 2/3 servings you will need:
500g tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1/2 a white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 small sweet peppers, chopped (I used a mixture of colours
1/3 of a large chunk cucumber, sliced
Sea salt and white pepper
100 ml water
Place all the ingredients (excluding water) in a baking tin and roast for 30 mins on a moderate heat. This just ensures you to get the best flavours, especially from the tomatoes.
Once cool, add the ingredients to the Nutribullet along with the water. Whizz up for a few seconds until the soup is smooth.
Allow to settle in the fridge overnight, or at least for a few hours. This is important to ensure the flavours develop.
Serve by adding whatever toppings you prefer. It’s traditional to add cucumber, peppers or tomato. But the toppings vary in different parts of Spain.
Make the soup your own, by tweaking the ingredients to your own tastebuds. Just make sure that the vegetables are in good condition and taste good before you begin. With so few additional ingredients, this one really does need robust flavours from fresh vegetables.
This naked baking session produced the most memorable results in my kitchen this week. One minute there was relative peace and the next I had two bare bottomed urchins running around me causing havoc.
The aptly named Naked peanut butter bars were devoured before they made it to any form of storage tin. It wasn’t just the children, we all loved these. They’re oaty, crumbly, super peanuty and packed with slow releasing energy. I’m all over that at the minute. I’ve been training well and snacks like these massively help to get me through.
To make 12 of these simple peanut snacks you will need:
100g peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey
(Each one contains around 145 calories)
It’s barely a recipe:
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F (fan setting)
Mix everything together and press down in a baking tray or ceramic dish.
Try get the mixture to a fairly equal depth of around 1.5cm. If you don’t fill the whole tray don’t worry, the mixture will hold together well and keep its form. Just try keep a clean edge.
Bake for around 20 minutes until the bake turns a golden brown.
Let the tray/dish cool for 15 minutes but not completely hard before cutting into bars and lifting from the dish.
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.
These little bites took us 10 minutes to make using basic cupboard ingredients. They’re delicious, naturally sweet and ever so moreish.
Blitz together 100g raisins with 50g of pumpkin seeds and a teaspoon of cinnamon
Roll 10 small balls in some linseeds/flaxseeds.
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.
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.
Okay, tenuous link in the title because it’s Wimbledon men’s finals day, but this chutney is seriously for winners. I made a big batch of chutney a few weeks ago that just didn’t make the grade. So I’ve spent time trying out some tweaks this week. The result is this really sunny, crowd pleasing chutney. It’s a gem, delivering an intensity of flavour and a wonderful warmth with every bite.
To make around 3 x 500ml jars as shown above, you will need:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
5 garlic cloves
1 white onion
200g chopped aubergine
600g chopped ripe tomato (I used big fresh tomatoes)
200g runner beans chopped into 1cm pieces
800g chopped courgette
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tsp hot chilli powder
350ml cider vinegar
A little seasoning
Fry the onion and garlic in a large heavy duty pan for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
Add the spices and seeds then fry together for 2 – 3 minutes.
Add the chopped vegetables. The size of the these depends on your own preference. It’s nice to have some chunkiness to a chutney, but you don’t want it too rustic. Give everything a good stir before pouring in the honey and vinegar. The liquid should just cover the vegetables.
Let the chutney come to a boil, give it a good old stir and then turn down to a constant simmer, with the lid off. You need the liquid to evaporate over the next 1 1/2 to 2 hours and the vegetables gently soften. You can’t leave it to its own devices for the whole time. You need to give it the occasional thorough stir. Towards the end you’ll need to keep stirring to make sure it doesn’t dry out or start sticking.
The chutney is ready when the liquid has reduced right down, leaving you with a thick sumptuous pot of sticky vegetables.
Once you are happy, pop on a lid and leave to cool. Then re taste and check seasoning, before adding to jars. Make sure you stir well and distribute evenly in the jars.
I was lucky enough to pick my own vegetables for this chutney from the most idyllic working farm in Andalusia. The care and attention taken to nurture the produce is amazing. It undoubtedly makes a difference to the taste and romance of every dish made from such a wonderful place.
Spot the three of us in the sunflower field. Magical x