Carrot and Saffron Soup

Fiona Kirk Carrot and Saffron Soup.jpeg

(makes 4 servings)

Ingredients

10-12 saffron threads soaked in a small cup of water
2 tablespoons light olive oil
450g carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
2 level teaspoons ground coriander
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good squeeze of fresh orange juice
1 level teaspoon whole cumin seeds (optional)
1 small carton low fat creme fraiche (optional)

Method

  • Warm the oil in a large pan, add the carrots, onion and garlic and saute gently until they begin to soften (donʼt let them brown). Add the ground cumin and coriander and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes, add the strained saffron liquor and the stock and bring slowly to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Transfer to a liquidiser and blitz thoroughly until the soup is very smooth and frothy. Pass through a sieve before returning to a clean pot. Heat through, check the seasoning and add the orange juice.
  • To serve, dry-fry the cumin seeds briefly in a pan until they begin to pop, ladle the soup into bowls, top each with a good dollop of creme fraiche, if using and scatter over the roasted cumin seeds.

Courgette, Apple and Carrot Bread

courgette bread.jpg

(makes 1 standard loaf)

If your mornings are always a rush, a couple of slices of this fruit and vegetable bread alongside a cup of deep, dark and rich coffee with a good dollop of cream should answer your prayers - filling, packed with nutritional goodness and downright delicious - particularly when the coffee is piping hot and the bread is toasted!

Ingredients

1 medium apple, peeled, cored and roughly grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly grated
1 medium courgette/zucchini, wiped and roughly grated
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
40g fresh pecan nuts, roughly chopped
550g wholemeal flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon all-spice powder
pinch ground nutmeg
2 eggs, whisked
80g brown sugar
The seeds/paste from 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line a standard loaf tin with baking paper (or use a non-stick silicon mould if you have one). Prepare the apple, carrot and courgette/zucchini, put in a bowl, add the lemon juice, mix well and cover the bowl with cling film so the apple doesn’t brown.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg.
  • In another bowl, whisk three quarters of the beaten egg, the sugar and the vanilla extract together before thoroughly combining the mixture with the dry ingredients.
  • Fold in the grated fruit/vegetable mix and lastly the pecan nuts.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and place in the middle of the oven for around 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out cleanly. Check after 35 minutes then every 10 minutes until perfect.
  • Leave to cool a little before turning it out onto a wire tray to cool thoroughly.

Quinoa Vegetable Bowl

quinoa vegetable bowl reduced.jpeg

Ingredients

(makes 1 serving)

  • 50g quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • 4 florets broccoli, finely chopped
  • ½ small red onion, peeled and very finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, scrubbed and roughly grated
  • 1 tablespoon coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions, very finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh peanuts, chopped or roughly crushed

For the Dressing

  • Zest and juice of half a lime
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • ½ tablespoon tamari or light soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced/grated
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced/grated

Method

  • In a large bowl toss the cooked quinoa, broccoli, red onion, carrot, coriander, spring onions and peanuts together. Mix until combined.
  • In a small bowl combine dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the whole lot and mix until all the ingredients are well coated.
  • This is such a quick, tasty and protein-rich salad which you can happily mess around with dependent on your tastes and what’s in stock. I have tried calves liver, shiitake mushrooms and blue cheese plus duck breast, dried cherries and mozzarella with good results - experiment!

Fresh Fruit Salad with Crunchy Yoghurt

Fresh Fruit with Crunchy Yoghurt.jpeg

You can make your own ‘crunchy mix’ in bulk using grains, nuts and seeds of choice and store in a glass jar or other airtight container in the fridge or buy a ready-prepared muesli-type mix for convenience. If you go down that route, make sure it has no added sugars - label-reading is vital here and I recommend you head to a health store as a great many of those on the supermarket shelves are bulked out with dried fruits and involve difficult to spot sugary syrups!

Ingredients
Grains and flaked grains of choice (oats, millet, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, rye etc)
Nuts and seeds of choice
Manuka honey
Natural dairy or non-dairy yoghurt
Fruits of choice
Powdered cinnamon or grated nutmeg

Method

  • If you are making your own ‘crunchy mix’, preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2-3.
  • Mix your chosen grains, nuts and seeds in a bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of runny honey and stir well until everything is coated.
  • Transfer the mix to a shallow baking tray and roast in the over for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, give the whole lot a good stir with a fork and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let the mix cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.
  • To serve, stir a couple of tablespoons of your homemade or ready-prepared ‘crunchy mix’ into 3 or 4 tablespoons of yoghurt, layer into a bowl or glass or transportable container with whole, sliced or diced fruit and top with powdered cinnamon or grated nutmeg.

The best thing about yoghurt, fruit and a bit of ‘extra crunch’ is that when you choose this as your first meal of the day, it is going to deliver an excellent balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate, make your tastebuds sing and keep you firing on all cylinders until lunchtime!

Soft Boiled Eggs with Sweet Potato and Avocado

Soft Boiled Eggs with Sweet Potato and Avocado.jpg

(makes 2 servings)

Ingredients

  • ½ large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 4 lengthwise slices
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large omega 3-rich or organic, free range eggs
  • ½ large or 1 small ripe avocado, stoned and flesh scooped from skin
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  • Paint both sides of the sweet potato slices with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake (turning regularly) until nice and crispy on both sides but still soft in the middle (around 15 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, boil your eggs.
  • My method: Prick the eggs on the rounded bottom, place in a small pan, cover with cold water, bring slowly to the boil and the minute the water starts to boil, turn the heat down so that it is just bubbling gently and set the timer for 3 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, remove from the heat, drain and run lots of cold water over the eggs, before draining and setting aside. Works every time!
  • If you want them a little less runny, go for 4 minutes, hard-boiled, go for 5.
  • Mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork, add the lime juice and coriander and mash some more until it has a chunky but silky texture.
  • Shell and half the eggs, place 2 slices of the sweet potato on each plate, top with a good scoop of the avocado mix then place 2 egg halves on top and another pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper.
  • A fresh tomato and basil salad simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and some salt and pepper goes really well with this.
  • NB: this may seem like quite an unusual mix but trust me, it tastes really good!

Stuffed Avocados

Stuffed Avocado

Firstly: take a ripe avocado, half it, remove the stone, scoop the flesh out of both halves with a spoon (make sure you scrape it clean as a lot of the goodness lies very close to the skin) and dice the flesh into a bowl with a good splash of lemon or lime juice to keep it from discolouring before deciding what to add. If it is a large avocado, leave the stone in one half, paint the flesh with lemon/lime juice and wrap it tightly in clingfilm for later (or tomorrow). If it’s a small avocado, use both halves.

Next: decide on what vegetables/fruit you want to add to the mix and dice, finely slice or grate them.

Then: add some protein and some sort of sauce or dressing and mix the whole lot into the diced avocado.

Finally: scoop your ‘combination’ into the empty avocado shells and top with some crunchy nuts and/or seeds.

Vegetable/Fruit Choices: tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, courgettes, carrots, peppers, chilli, roasted artichokes, olives, peas, corn, celery, spring onions, seaweeds, apple, pear, pomegranate, kiwi fruit, grapes, cherries.

Protein Choices: cold, cooked meats, cooked fish and shellfish, chopped egg, cooked beans, lentils and chickpeas, hummus, tofu, soft and hard cheeses.

Sauce/Dressing Choices: sour cream, mayonnaise, yoghurt, raita, salsa, extra virgin olive, avocado, nut and seed oils, horseradish, chutney, dressings.

Nuts and Seeds: fresh, roasted or toasted.

Here are a few of my favourite combinations:

  • Fresh prawns or crabmeat, sliced radish, chopped boiled egg, natural yoghurt and toasted pine nuts.
  • Tinned salmon, chopped boiled egg, sliced mixed olives, sliced cucumber, natural yoghurt, lemon juice and a good dash of smoked paprika powder.
  • Cottage cheese, grated courgette, grated apple, diced tomatoes, mango chutney and toasted flaked almonds.
  • Quickly sautéed bacon bits, sliced, ready-roasted peppers, raisins, parmesan shavings and shelled pistachios.

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.