Vegetable Fritters (v)

Courgette Fritters

(makes 10-12 burger-sized fritters)

Fritters are so quick and easy and these ones are baked in the oven making them super-convenient and pretty darned healthy. You can play around with different vegetables, cheeses and herb mixes and as long as you stick to the recommended proportions, you get perfect fritters every time to have as a quick snack or with a lightly-dressed mixed salad for lunch or dinner - and - a dip really does add that extra something special!

Ingredients

2 medium-sized courgettes, cleaned and coarsely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated or minced
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 small red chilli, de-seeded and very finely diced
2 large eggs
80g feta cheese, crumbled
140g Panko breadcrumbs or finely-cut oats

Method

  • In a bowl, mix the grated courgette with a good pinch of salt, cover with cling film and leave for around 20 minutes to allow the courgettes to release their water content.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 then mix the olive oil, garlic, baking powder, dill, chilli, eggs, feta and breadcrumbs or oats in a bowl.
  • Using a clean tea towel, squeeze as much of the water out of the courgettes as possible then add to the bowl with a few good grindings of black pepper and a pinch of salt and thoroughly combine the lot.
  • Form 10-12 fritters with your hands (make a ball first then slightly flatten with the heel of your hand) place them (leaving space between each) on a baking sheet lined with baking paper or a non-stick sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning halfway. It all depends on the size of your fritters, so check after 20 minutes (best way to test them is to eat one!) and give them another 10 minutes if required.
  • Serve them piping hot with a dip (yoghurt and mint works well as does sour cream and chives) and a lightly-dressed mixed green salad.

Spinach and Watercress Soup (v)

Spinach and Watercress Soup

(makes 4 servings)

It is almost impossible not to start slurping this soup straight from the blender the minute you have blitzed it - the rich, green colour, the velvety smoothness and that subtle ‘irony edge’ that you just know is providing vitamins and minerals in abundance makes this a quick-fix elixir you have to repeat again and again! And the oats add some protein making this a soup that fills you up for a good few hours…

Ingredients

2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1 heaped tablespoon porridge oats
2 bags spinach leaves
1 bag watercress
Fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Warm the oil in a large soup pot and sauté the onion gently until soft.
  • Add the stock and the porridge oats, bring slowly to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and watercress and keep stirring whilst bringing the soup back to the boil then turn off the heat.
  • Blend the whole lot until you have a smooth, foamy soup then return to a clean pan.
  • Heat through gently, add a good squeeze of lemon juice and check the seasoning.
  • You can grate a little lemon zest on top of each bowl for added zing.

Fruity Oaty Bake

Fruity Oaty Breakfast Bake

(makes 4 generous servings)

Chewy, tasty and filling, this is a breakfast that you can make ahead and dive into when time is not on your side or take with you when you are out and about for a quick and filling snack -  experiment with whatever fruits are in season. 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil
180g rough cut oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon sea salt
60g fresh nuts of choice, roughly chopped
60g unsweetened, shredded/flaked coconut
300g fresh or frozen mixed berries
1 egg (Omega 3-rich preferably), lightly whisked
1 tablespoon maple syrup or runny honey
350mls cows, almond or oat milk
Natural live/bio or Greek-style yoghurt to serve

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
  • Put the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nuts, coconut, berries and coconut oil (melt it quickly in a small pan first) in a large bowl and and stir gently until everything is thoroughly mixed.
  • Add the whisked egg, maple syrup or honey and milk and keep stirring until everything is well-combined.
  • Transfer to a baking dish, lightly smooth the surface and place in the middle of the oven and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes. If it is still slightly runny, give it another 5-10 minutes.
  • Allow to cool a little before serving with the yoghurt.
  • NB: It will keep in the fridge (covered) for a week so all you need do in the morning (or whenever!) is just  take a good slice from the dish and heat it through in the oven or microwave before digging in. It is also delicious cold as a flapjack-style snack.

Crispy-topped Baked Fish, Tofu or Chicken

Crispy-Topped Baked Fish

(makes 1 serving)

The tasty topping can be made in advance, making this dish a real ‘no brainer’ when you’re tight for time. It works really well with fish, chicken or tofu but you can play around with the ingredients dependent on what’s in the fridge.

Ingredients

1 white fish fillet or
1 slice of tofu (around 2cm thick) or
1 medium-sized skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon oats
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive or coconut oil
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 heaped teaspoons tomato puree
1 medium-sized tomato, sliced
15g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  • In a small bowl, mix the oats, parsley and lemon juice, lightly season and set aside.
  • Warm the oil in a small sauté pan and cook the spring onions over a medium heat until soft then add the tomato puree and mix well. 
  • For fish or tofu: Place a sheet of baking foil in a small oven-proof dish, place the fish or tofu in the middle and pull up the sides of the foil so you create an open-topped parcel.
  • Top the fish/tofu with the spring onion/tomato puree mix, arrange the tomato slices on top and finally the oat mix (don’t close the parcel) then place the dish on a middle shelf in the oven and bake until cooked through.
  • Thin fish fillets and tofu will take around 5-6 minutes, thicker/denser fish fillets will take around 8-12 minutes. Have a peek and check that the fish flakes nicely and the juice is clear.
  • Remove from the oven, turn the oven off and the grill on (to a medium heat), scatter the cheese on top, grill on the lowest shelf until the cheese melts and is just beginning to brown (around 5 minutes) then with a fish slice, lift the fish/tofu onto a warmed serving plate and spoon over the cooking juices.
  • For the chicken: Place the chicken on the foil, lightly season, add a splash of oil, scrunch the foil so it creates a loose but sealed parcel and bake for 10 minutes then open up the parcel, top as per the fish/tofu and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Continue as before and serve.

Juices and Smoothies

Juices and Smoothies

Most juices and smoothies benefit from the addition of oats to add a little protein, fat and soluble fibre which all make them a little more filling and help to keep hunger at bay - experiment!

(each recipe makes 1 to 2 juices/smoothies)

Hot Lemon and Ginger

Boil the kettle, put 1 or 2 tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice in a mug (the stuff that comes in bottles or squeezy lemon/lime shapes is fine), add a good pinch of sea salt crystals, grate in some peeled fresh root ginger (you can peel it, cut it into chunks, bag these and freeze, then grate from frozen), add boiling water, stir well, leave to cool a little before stirring in a teaspoon of Manuka honey and sipping slowly.

Cleansing Juice

Mix equal quantities of water, unsweetened grapefruit, pomegranate and cranberry juices in a large glass. Add a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and allspice and stir well. You can also warm it through gently and have it as a hot drink on a cold day.

Essential Smoothie

Ingredients

2 tablespoons mixed raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax etc)
3 ice cubes
200g mixed red/purple berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, stoned cherries, brambles etc.)
100g fresh watermelon, seeds included
200g sliken tofu, drained and sliced
750mls rice milk or skimmed milk

Method

Place the seeds in a spice grinder and blitz until pulverised or use a mortar and pestle if you don’t have a grinder.
Place the ice cubes in a blender with all the other ingredients and run of low power until they start to come together, then on full power until the smoothie is creamy and frothy.
Add a little water if it is too thick and strain to remove the seedy, gritty bits.
Transfer half the mixture to a tall glass and refrigerate or freeze the rest for tomorrow. You may need to give it another blitz before serving the other portion.
NB: you can make more of the seed mix in one go and keep it in a dark glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 4 days for convenience.

Beta Carotene Cocktail

Ingredients

3 ice cubes
1 yellow or orange pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 orange, peeled and chopped
½ small cantaloupe melon, peeled and chopped
4 fresh apricots, cleaned, stoned and chopped
4 cos lettuce leaves, washed and torn
Fresh carrot juice

Method

Blitz the ice cubes, pepper, orange, melon, apricots and lettuce until smooth and add carrot juice until you achieve your desired consistency.

Super Green Smoothie

Ingredients

½ cup/100g baby spinach leaves
½ cup/100g romaine lettuce leaves
½ cup/110mls chilled water
½ cup/110mls unsweetened pineapple juice
1 cup frozen green grapes (bag and put them in the freezer the night before)
½ tablespoon protein powder, powdered greens or chia seeds (quickly grind the seeds in a spice grinder or with a pestle and mortar before adding)

Method

Place the spinach, lettuce and water in a blender and whizz until smooth.
Add the grapes and whizz again until smooth.
Add the pineapple juice and protein powder, powdered greens or ground chia seeds and give the whole lot a final whizz until smooth and frothy.
Serve immediately or flask and sup later but if so, remember to give it a really good shake before serving.

Very Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup/200g frozen mixed berries
½ cup/110mls unsweetened pomegranate or pineapple juice (or a mix)
½ cup/110mls water
½ tablespoon ground almonds
½ tablespoon flaxseed or coconut oil

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until well-blended and very smooth and frothy.
Serve immediately or flask and sup later but if so, remember to give it a really good shake before serving.

Overnight Bircher Muesli

Overnight Muesli

(makes 1 generous or 2 smaller servings)

I learned how to make real authentic Bircher muesli whilst working as a waitress in the mountains of Switzerland in my early 20s. Since then, I have been playing around with the revered Dr Maximilian Bircher-Bennerʼs classic, restorative recipe and this is one that doesnʼt include much fruit but still has a wonderfully sweet edge. The big bonus is that you can make it the night before and simply dive into the fridge in the morning for a helping or take it to work!

Ingredients

6 tablespoons oats
140ml coconut water
2 tablespoons flaked almonds (toasted or un-toasted)
½ tablespoon Manuka honey
1 tablespoon 0% fat Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons lemon/lime juice
½ apple, peeled, cored and grated
4 fresh mint leaves, very finely chopped

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix really well, cover and place in the fridge overnight. Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon powder or grated nutmeg on top.

Perfect Porridge

Perfect Porridge

(makes 1 serving)

The fabulous thing about porridge is that there is no definitive recipe or cooking method - it’s more of a personal thing. I am a Scot and over the last 60 years or so have sampled many a bowl of porridge - some which take your breath away, some which glue your gums together and some which are way too thin and watery! Here’s one of my fat-busting favourites where you soak the oats overnight so it takes less time to cook, is quickly ready to scoff or can be transported in a wide-necked vacuum flask.

Ingredients

1 teacup medium-cut oats
3 teacups hot but not boiling water
Decent pinch of sea salt crystals
Double cream
Runny honey
Cinnamon or nutmeg

Method

  • Place the water in a heat-proof bowl and gradually but meaningfully whisk in the oats - you don’t want any lumps.
  • Leave to cool a little then cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • In the morning (or whenever), transfer the porridge to a non-stick pan and cook over a medium heat until bubbling, stirring all the time.
  • Add the salt and continue to stir for another few minutes - if it is a little thick for your liking, just add some boiling water.
  • Serve with a spoonful or two of double cream, a drizzle of runny honey and a good sprinkling of cinnamon powder or grated nutmeg.

Chicken and Barley Broth

Chicken and Barley Broth

(makes 4 servings)

A meal-in-a-bowl style soup but in no way heavy or overly-filling. I am a big fan of barley! My Scottish heritage? Probably! But also because this little grain packs a mighty punch nutritionally, has a lovely nutty taste and doesn’t occasion that bloated feeling that occurs with many wheaty grains.

Nutrition Bite: when compared to many grains, barley is lower in fat and calories and higher in dietary fibre and trace minerals and beats an equivalent serving of quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet or wild rice hands down - nutritionally-impressive and tasty!

Ingredients

1 small chicken
20 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons light olive oil
I medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 celery stalks, finely sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced or diced
1.5 litres chicken stock
5 small sprigs fresh thyme
150g barley, rinsed
150g green split peas, rinsed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bag spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Method

  • Roast the chicken until cooked through, allow to cool slightly then remove the skin and chop the flesh into bite-sized pieces (or buy a small ready-roasted chicken).
  • Roast the tomatoes in a low oven for around 15 minutes or until they start to caramelise around the edges then remove from the oven and let them cool.
  • Warm the oil in a soup pot, add the onion, celery and carrot and gently sauté until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. 
  • Add the stock and thyme, stir in the barley and split peas, bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the barley and split peas are tender but still have a slight ‘bite’.
  • Check the seasoning then add the chicken flesh, the roasted tomatoes and the spinach.
  • Stir everything very gently making sure the tomatoes don’t break up too much then simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.
  • Check the seasoning again and serve.
  • NB: like all broths, the longer you leave them, the thicker they become so add boiling water before serving to achieve desired consistency.

Aromatic Lamb Casserole

Fiona Kirk Aromatic Lamb and Chickpea Casserole.jpeg

(makes 2 servings)

It’s all about the long, slow cooking here. Even those who have an issue with ‘healthy’ alternatives love this stew and it’s even better if you leave it in the fridge for a day or freeze and bring it back to the table. Careful though, the temptation to mop up the juices with crusty bread can be hard to control!

Nutrition Bite: Sesame seeds have powerful hormone-balancing and cholesterol-lowering effects, coconut oil improves digestion and helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins plus calcium, and magnesium and warm spices are rich in antioxidant plant chemicals which help to protect us against inflammation and boost our defences against disease - a casserole that's got the lot!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
400g lean lamb or beef, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Lamb/beef stock
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 level tablespoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon saffron powder
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Manuka honey (optional)

Method

  • Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan, tossing until golden then set aside (watch them as they burn very quickly).
  • Put the meat in a medium-sized pan, barely cover with stock and add the onion, oil, saffron, ginger, coriander and cinnamon.
  • Stir well, bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer very gently until the meat is very tender and the liquid has become a rich sauce (about 2 hours but check after an hour and a half and add more stock if necessary).
  • Season to taste, stir in the honey (if using) and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Cool and refrigerate/freeze at this stage if desired.
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Adzuki Bean Soup (v)

Adzuki Bean Soup

(makes 4 servings)

This a great lunchtime soup, is easily transported and does a splendid job of filling you up nicely to get you through a taxing afternoon. A good dollop of Greek yoghurt stirred in at the last minute before topping with the parsley creates a light creamy look and taste and marries extremely well with the beans. This soup can be cooked on the hob if you don’t have a slow cooker.

Nutrition Bite: Adzuki beans are an awesome source of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, are packed with protein, fibre, folate, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, thiamine, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, calcium and more and have been shown to help manage diabetes, increase antioxidant intake, boost muscle mass, improve heart health and help manage weight.

Ingredients

1 x 400g tin Adzuki beans
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
450mls chicken/vegetable stock
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
8 button mushrooms, cleaned and roughly sliced or chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon smoked or unsmoked paprika powder
A generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
A generous splash of soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Put all the ingredients other than the salt, pepper and parsley into a slow cooker, stir well and cook on the low setting for around 5 hours.
  • Season to taste and if you wish, add more paprika, Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce before serving topped with the parsley.
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, gently sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper in a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot until soft. Add the remainder of the ingredients other than the salt, pepper and parsley, bring slowly to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 30-40 minutes.
  • Season to taste and if you wish, add more paprika, Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce before serving topped with the parsley.

Open Sandwiches

Open Sandwich Toppings

An open sandwich means half the bread, loads of healthy protein and fat-rich toppings, lots of vegetables and a really filling snack or small meal!

Start with a slice of wholegrain rye, millet, spelt or other non-wheat bread or a sprouted grain bread (Essene or Ezekiel). You can toast it first if you wish as toasting often stops any possible sogginess if you are making your open sandwich a while before you plan to demolish it! Try some of these:

  • Sliced cooked beef, tzatziki, toasted flaked almonds, fresh mint leaves and a drizzle of honey.
  • Fresh prawns or crabmeat, sliced cucumber, chopped boiled egg, natural yoghurt and toasted pine nuts.
  • Parma ham, sliced raw mushrooms, sliced tomato, scrambled egg or sliced boiled egg and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Tinned tuna, coarse grain mustard, lime/lemon juice, anchovy sauce, sliced tomato and Greek yoghurt.
  • Tinned salmon, chopped boiled egg, sliced mixed olives, sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, natural yoghurt, lemon juice and a good dash of smoked paprika powder.
  • Smashed avocado, cottage cheese, grated courgette, cherry tomatoes and chutney.
  • Smoked salmon, raita, a dollop of horseradish sauce, watercress and sliced apple.
  • Nut butter, mashed fresh berries and watercress leaves.
  • Creamy goats cheese, baby spinach leaves, caramelised onions and crunchy, sliced radish.
  • Hummus, sliced avocado, grated raw carrot and toasted pine nuts.
  • Sliced banana, ricotta cheese and a good sprinkling of cinnamon powder.

Top Tip!
Remember to scribble down some of the combinations you come up with - it’s all too easy to forget what works for you - build up a list of them so you can be sure you have your favourite ingredients in stock!

Crisp Breads

Crisp Bread Toppings

Select plain wholegrain rye crisp breads or the ones with added grains (particularly oats) and/or mixed seeds and top with one of the following delicious combinations or simply get creative and become a crisp bread guru!

  • Sliced cooked beef, tzatziki, toasted flaked almonds, fresh mint leaves and a drizzle of honey.
  • Fresh prawns or crabmeat, sliced cucumber, chopped boiled egg, natural yoghurt and toasted pine nuts.
  • Parma ham, sliced raw mushrooms, sliced tomato, scrambled egg or sliced boiled egg and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Tinned tuna, coarse grain mustard, lime/lemon juice, anchovy sauce, sliced tomato and Greek yoghurt.
  • Tinned salmon, chopped boiled egg, sliced mixed olives, sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, natural yoghurt, lemon juice and a good dash of smoked paprika powder.
  • Smashed avocado, cottage cheese, grated courgette, cherry tomatoes and chutney.
  • Smoked salmon, raita, a dollop of horseradish sauce, watercress and sliced apple.
  • Nut butter, mashed fresh berries and watercress leaves.
  • Creamy goats cheese, baby spinach leaves, caramelised onions and crunchy, sliced radish.
  • Hummus, sliced avocado, grated raw carrot and toasted pine nuts.
  • Sliced banana, ricotta cheese and a good sprinkling of cinnamon powder.

Top Tip
Remember to scribble down some of the combinations you come up with - it’s all too easy to forget what works for you - build up a list of them so you can be sure you have your favourite ingredients in stock!

One-Pot Chicken and Chorizo

one-pot chicken and chorizo1.jpg

(makes 4 servings)

I love a one-pot dish that does it’s own thing in the oven! Preparation time is quick and you can get on with a pile of tasks whilst the cooking happens. You can also create something equally delicious with chunky fillets of fish but as fish cooks quickly, don’t place them on the bed of vegetables and chorizo until 15 to 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time (less if you are using thin fish fillets).

Nutrition Bite: Avocado oil is pressed from the fleshy pulp surrounding the avocado stone, making it one of the few edible oils not derived from a seed. This pulp produces an oil full of healthy fats, including oleic acid and essential fatty acids. Additionally, it has a high 'smoke point'. When an oil reaches its 'smoke point', the structure of the oil begins to break down, nutrients are lost and compounds are created that may damage our health. Avocado oil’s high 'smoke point' make it a great choice for cooking.

Ingredients

400g peeled and diced sweet potato
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
4-6 organic chicken thighs, skin on                                                                                  
75mls chicken or vegetable stock                                                                               
Half a lemon cut into wedges
2 tablespoons extra virgin avocado or olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small courgettes, wiped and cut into good-sized chunks
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
100g chorizo, sliced
1 small bag baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7
  • Spread the sweet potato and garlic over the base of a fairly deep roasting tin and place the chicken (skin side up) on top.
  • Pour the stock in, pop the lemon wedges around the tin, drizzle the oil over the whole lot, season with a good pinch of salt and lots of pepper and place the roasting tin (uncovered) in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and add the courgettes, chilli and chorizo, mix everything well but still keep the chicken (skin side up) on top and return to the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are ‘al dente’.
  • Remove the tin from the oven again and stuff the spinach and parsley leaves in and around everything - seems like there is way too much (and they can be tricky to control!) but they soon wilt - then return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Parcel Baked Fish

Fish in a Parcel

(makes 1 serving)

Fish was born to be baked in a parcel. All the juices meld together creating a delicious, quick and super-healthy meal. Get friendly with your local fishmonger, buy fish and vegetables in season and add herbs and spices to sharpen things up. This is one of my favourites.

Nutrition Bite: Asparagus contains significant amounts of the nutrient inulin, which doesn't break down in the digestive tract. Instead, it passes undigested to the large intestine, where it becomes a food source for healthy bacteria which is responsible for better nutrient absorption, a lower risk of allergies and a lower risk of colon cancer. 

Ingredients

1 white fish fillet of choice
1 generous handful fresh spinach leaves
1 small onion, peeled and very finely sliced into rings
6 fresh asparagus tips
1 ripe tomato, sliced
1 small red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or coriander leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons good olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  • Lay out one piece of aluminium foil about 12-14” square and place the spinach on it.
  • Lay the fish fillet on the bed of spinach followed by the onion, asparagus, tomato, chilli (if using) and herbs.
  • Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Fold the foil to create a parcel, leaving plenty of space around the contents, place on a baking sheet and bake for around 25 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the juices run clear.
  • Timing will depend on the thickness of the fish fillet so take a peek after 25 minutes. Be careful when opening the foil as hot steam will escape.
  • When cooked, lift the contents of the parcel onto a warmed plate and spoon over the delicious juices.

Fabulous Warm Salad

Fabulous Warm Salad

(makes 1 serving)

There is something about adding freshly-cooked and warm elements to a salad and/or a dressing that you warm through just at the very last minute that can turn what might have been a good salad into a really great salad - here’s one that I never tire of creating... and eating!

Nutrition Bite: Pine nuts contain lutein, a plant chemical that may help us ward off eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein is one of the predominant pigments in the retina and numerous studies have found that consuming foods rich in this nutrient can significantly reduce our risk of damage and degeneration.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
½ red pepper, de-seeded and finely sliced
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 skinless chicken breast, carved into bite-sized slices
Crunchy lettuce leaves, torn into edible bites
½ cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and thinly sliced
½ courgette, wiped and grated
A handful of frozen peas, soaked in boiling water for 5-10 minutes
A handful of beansprouts
Large tomato, sliced or quartered
½ avocado, stoned, peeled and sliced
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse grain or Dijon mustard
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Method

  • Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan over a medium heat until golden and set aside.
  • Sauté the peppers and spring onions in the oil until soft and slightly caramelised around the edges then remove with a slotted spoon, cover and keep warm.
  • Add the chicken to the remaining oil and sauté gently until cooked through but still juicy.
  • Meanwhile, mix all the dressing ingredients in a small pan or microwaveable dish and very gently heat through.
  • Load a good helping of the lettuce leaves into a wide serving bowl, add the cucumber, grated courgette, peas and beansprouts then top the salad with the hot onions and peppers followed by the hot chicken and finally the tomato, avocado and pine nuts.
  • Drizzle the warm dressing over the whole dish but don’t soak it, sit yourself down and enjoy!

Curry Soup

Curry Soup

(makes 4 servings)

This soup is a glorious colour and packs a real punch - and - you can turn it into a curried rice dish by leaving out the remainder of the milk!

Nutrition Bite: The many health benefits of spices due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties include helping to maintain a healthy heart, improved cognitive function, healthy blood glucose concentrations and pain reduction - and, using spices in cooking generally reduces the amount of salt we consume - win, win!

Ingredients

100g white basmati rice
100mls chicken or vegetable stock
200mls full cream milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 dried red chillies, crushed
6 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 green chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
10 curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Sea salt
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced
Fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Place the stock and 120mls of the milk in a medium-sized pot, bring just to the boil, turn the heat to the lowest possible setting, add the rice, stir well, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 10 minutes then turn the heat off completely and let the rice sit while you make the soup - don’t remove the lid!
  • Meanwhile, warm the oil in a soup pot over a medium heat and toss in the seeds and dry red chillies. Stir well and let them ‘pop’ and infuse for a minute or two.
  • Add the shallots, ginger, garlic, green chilies and curry leaves and sauté everything gently until the shallots are soft but not browned.
  • Add the turmeric followed by the rice then while continuing to stir over a low heat, add the rest of the milk and keep stirring until it just begins to bubble (don’t let it boil) then turn the heat off.
  • Check the seasoning, remove the curry leaves and serve topped with the red chilli sautéed in a little oil plus the coriander leaves.

Light Chicken Broth

Light Chicken Broth

(makes 3 servings)

There is not much I can say about this chicken soup other than that it feeds much, much more than the soul! My best friend and trusted soup guru, Jean threw this one together one evening when she had a few chicken thighs that were nearing their use-by date and the rest is now history. Trust me, you could live on this soup for 2 weeks and never get bored with it!

Nutrition Bite: food synergy is when food combinations produce a health boost greater than if the foods were eaten separately. Monounsaturated fatty acids (in this case, olive and avocado oil) and beta carotene (in this case, carrots) combined have been shown to result in a 13 times boost in beta carotene absorption which helps protect us against cancer and heart disease.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs, skin on
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
2 stalks celery, peeled and finely sliced
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
600mls chicken stock
40g brown rice
1 teaspoon horseradish sauce
A generous bunch parsley, stalks removed and leaves very finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Roast the chicken pieces in a medium to hot oven until the skins are crisp and the flesh is cooked through while you make the soup.
  • Warm the oil in a soup pot, add the celery, onion and carrot and sauté gently until the vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes).
  • Add the stock and bring slowly to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the rice and simmer, covered until the rice is cooked (around 20 minutes).
  • Skin the chicken pieces and shred/chop the flesh before adding to the soup with the horseradish sauce and parsley.
  • Stir well and season to taste.
  • NB: As rice soaks up a lot of liquid, you will probably have to add more stock or water to achieve the light, brothy experience if you are not supping this soup immediately and have refrigerated/frozen it for future use.

Chicken, Chorizo and Greens Soup

Chicken, Chorizo and Greens Soup

(makes 4 servings)

Only thing i can say about this soup is that you really have to make it - it’s top dollar!

Nutrition Bite: greens are a fabulously rich source of vitamin K and those who are deficient in this vitamin have repeatedly been shown to have a greater risk of bone loss and fracture. Post menopausal women are particularly vulnerable.

Ingredients

1 large chicken portion (with leg and breast, skin on) or 2 chicken thighs and 2 chicken breasts, skin on - you can use ready-cooked chicken if time is tight
100g chorizo, finely sliced
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped/sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 medium floury potatoes, peeled and diced
750mls chicken stock
1 head spring greens, cleaned, white cores removed and roughly chopped or two thirds of a bag ready-chopped spring greens
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional)

Method

  • Roast the chicken in the middle of a medium to hot oven until the skins are crisp and the flesh is cooked through then set aside, covered to cool slightly.
  • Very gently sauté the chorizo in a dry soup pot until the oils are released and the chorizo is crisp but not dried out. Remove the chorizo from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper to absorb any extra oils.
  • Add the light olive oil to the oils that have been released from the chorizo and warm through before adding the onion, garlic and salt. Cover and leave to sauté over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes (the longer the better) without browning until the onions are soft. This method brings out the delicious juices of the onions and garlic.
  • Add the potatoes and half the stock, bring to the boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through (bite into one to make sure - hard potato is horrible!)
  • Add the greens and the rest of the stock to the pot and continue simmering for 5-10 minutes or until the greens are just cooked through but still have a bit of bite.
  • Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken and dice, slice or shred the flesh before adding to the pot along with the chorizo. The liquid should just cover the ingredients so you may need to add a little boiling water.
  • Keep simmering over a low heat until everything is piping hot, check the seasoning and gently mash the soup with a potato masher until some of the potato and chorizo are slightly mushy - or to your desired consistency.
  • If the soup is slightly too thick for your liking or you have left it in the fridge overnight, you may wish to add more stock or water.
  • Serve with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a generous grating of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Apple Almond Leek and Celery Soup

Apple, Almond, Leek and Celery Soup

(makes 4 servings)

You know what they say... “looks can be deceptive”... no truer word could be uttered about this soup. Looks pale but tastes divine! It’s smooth, it’s silky and the addition of the toasted ground almonds gives it a nutty, gravelly edge. It’s a really good soup!

Nutrition Bite: Almonds are low in starch but high in protein and fibre. Studies show that eating almonds as part of a healthy diet can increase satiety and help you eat fewer calories over the course of a day. One study of 100 overweight women found that those consuming almonds lost more weight than those in the nut-free group. They also lost inches around their waistlines.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons ground almonds
2 tablespoons light olive oil
3 medium-sized leeks, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 sticks celery, peeled and sliced
1 Granny Smith apple (or a similarly-tart eating apple), peeled, cored and diced
700mls chicken or vegetable stock
4 tablespoons double cream
Sea salt and white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  • Scatter the ground almonds on a baking sheet and toast in a medium oven until golden (warning, they go from white to burnt in seconds - keep an eagle eye on them!) Set aside to cool.
  • Warm the oil in a soup pot and very gently sauté the onion, leeks and celery until soft (if you let them brown the soup wonʼt be the beautiful pale colour you want to achieve).
  • Add the apple and stock, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are all cooked through then remove the pot from the heat.
  • Allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes, stir in the cream then blitz until you have a very smooth, velvety texture, pass through a fine sieve and return to a clean pot.
  • Stir in the ground almonds, keeping some aside for topping the soup if you wish, season to taste with salt, pepper and the merest hint of nutmeg, reheat gently and serve.

Lamb, Rice and Spinach Broth

Lamb, Rice and Spinach Broth

(makes 4 servings)

This is good! It’s a brilliant combination of protein, good fats, vegetables and just enough starchy carbohydrate to keep you firing on all cylinders for hours. I regard it as a superb lunchtime soup but many of my ‘fitness enthusiastic’ followers tell me it makes a superb post-exercise meal and that a small bowl just isn’t enough - it’s got to be generous!

Nutrition Bite: Eating garlic regularly has been linked to reducing or helping to prevent 4 of the major causes of death worldwide including heart disease, stroke and cancer. And it's a mighty force when it comes to the common cold. In one study over 12 weeks, garlic eaters were less likely to get a cold and recovered faster than those on a placebo. The WHO recommends 1 clove a day.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 large leek, finely sliced and meticulously cleaned
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
500g lamb mince
750mls lamb or vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
150g pre-cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 x  200g bag fresh spinach leaves

Method

  • Warm the oil in a soup pot, add the leek, garlic and salt, stir well, cover and sauté over a very low heat until the leek is soft - around 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a hot pan, brown the minced lamb, stirring constantly until the pink colour disappears and it is slightly crisped around the edges. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
  • Add the stock and tomatoes to the soup pot, bring just to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the lamb (with its juices) and simmering for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice, Worcestershire sauce and a few good grindings of black pepper and simmer for a further 10 minutes then add the spinach and continue simmering until it has just wilted but is still bright green (it seems like a huge pile of spinach but it wilts down fast so just keep cramming the leaves in and submerging them or force them down with the pot lid!)
  • If the soup is a little thick for your liking, add more stock or water.
  • Check the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper and/or Worcestershire sauce to taste.
  • If you make the soup ahead of time and either refrigerate or freeze it you will likely have to add more stock or water as the rice will swell and absorb quite a bit of the liquid.
  • NB: the quickest way to clean leeks is to slice them first, place in a colander, rinse thoroughly under running cold water then roughly dry with kitchen paper or a fresh, clean J cloth.