Pomegranate, Pepper and Quinoa Tabbouleh

img_0147Quinoa, Red Pepper and Pomegranate Tabbouleh
Here is a fantastic quinoa salad to have on hand over Christmas, beautiful rich twinkling colours, full of antioxidant-dense nutrients (read on for more on that…) from the pomegranates and of course the protein packed quinoa, which helps balance blood sugar levels keeping you feeling full but not lethargic… sounds just about the perfect salad doesn’t it?

 

Ingredients
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250g quinoa (I used the mixed reds, blacks and white)
2 red peppers
1 yellow pepper
(1 garlic clove and a sprig of thyme to roast with the peppers)
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 fresh pomegranates (or 2 tubs of pomegranate seeds)
Coriander
Pre heat your oven (and roasting tray) to about 200^ for roasting the peppers.
Method
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Bring the quinoa to the boil in a pan of cold water and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the quinoa is cooked but still retains some bite.
Drain and set aside to cool.
While the quinoa is cooking, place your peppers in your preheated roasting tray with a couple of tbsp. of olive oil, an unpeeled clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme. Roast until the peppers are softened but still retains some bite, 10 minutes or so.
Discard the garlic and thyme but keep the lovely scented oil.
Add the peppers and the garlic/thyme scented oil to the drained cooled quinoa.
Add the pomegranate seeds
Add a handful of fresh chopped coriander
Toss everything together with your hands, the olive oil from the peppers and the fresh pop-tang-kapow from the pomegranates serves as a dressing by itself, you can of course season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
This would be perfect served with cooked ham or leftover turkey on boxing day and I’m just going to put it out there now that I will be serving this on Christmas day itself, so pretty will it look on the table! So road test this now guys and let me know what you think!
Potent Health Benefits of Pomegranates
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Pomegranates are in season at this time of year although you can of course also buy the little packs of seeds. To get the seeds out of a fresh pomegranate, cut it in half, lightly pull the bowl shaped halves apart a little, cracking them softly to release the seeds from the claws of the pith and then turn the pomegranate-half upside-down over a large bowl and tap, hard, with a wooden spoon, watching the seeds come tumbling out!
Pomegranates have got to be up there as one of the original Superfoods. And don’t just take my word for it, research Reviews espouse the potent antioxidant benefits of pomegranates for the prevention of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, reduction of oxidative stress, hyperglycaemia and inflammation markers and for the prevention and treatment of several cancers (Zarfeshaney et al. 2010). Greater in anti-oxidant activity than either Green Tea or Red wine,(both of which I’m certain will also feature over the Christmas period)! pomegranates are rich in anthocyanins and will make for a really beneficial addition to your diet at this time of year. Clink on the link below for more information on the cited article.
*As always with the potent superfoods, be aware of contra-indications with certain medications includingWarfarin and ACE inhibitors where it may have additive effects.
Zarfeshaney et al. (2014) Potent health effects of pomegranate. [Online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007340/ [Accessed: 25 Nov 2016].

Protein Brunches

img_1375 I wanted to share a few pretty plates of brunch. I’ve been going to the gym a bit more of late, probably because  I am thrilled and delighted to have been asked to help develop the Nutrition programme at my Crossfit box. For those of you unfamiliar with Crossfit, it is a crazy mix of cardio, strength and agility training, every day a surprise to keep your mind and body on its toes, but best of all, it treats each and every participant as an INDIVIDUAL, every movement can be scaled, our greatest competition is ourselves and this crosses over into every aspect of a healthy lifestyle; Healthy nutrition and a positive mindset being as important as the hours spent exercising. This level of challenge and achievement encourages me to aspire higher, in just about every aspect of img_1397my life! I have pushed myself this year in ways I never imagined possible. but back to the food xx these plates represent exactly what I want to eat for brunch when I get back from a work out; protein from eggs, goats cheese or salmon, be that baked or smoked (and folks, this is always taken straight from the fridge’ i.e. I will have pre prepped my salmon the night before saving leftovers for breakfast), always married with some healthy fats from avocado, nuts and seeds and a delicious smattering of fresh leaves and herbs. It probably sounds extraordinary to anyone enjoying a sweet palate of toast or cereals for breakfast but after such a short while, this is the food my body craves the most ?

 

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Smoked Salmon with avocado, goats cheese and a carrot, coraiander and sesame side salad

Raw Rainbow Salad

Raw Rainbow Slaw: Quite a few of you have been chatting to me about planning ahead and needing to be prepared in order to make good food choices; rather than opening the fridge… starving hungry… no idea what to eat or make & then having (pack of) biscuits or a sandwich instead…. ring a bell?img_2356
So we are going to be addressing this a lot more in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year, but for now, one fantastic recipe to ensure that you have a Kick-Ass supply of super healthy veg to hand is to put 15 minutes aside to prepare this raw rainbow slaw. I use a Julienne grater, which makes fine matchstick slivers, (see pic) but you could just use an ordinary potato peeler or some super knife skills… you want to slice up any preferred combination of the following… just do add the apple and DONT add the Helmans!
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raw beetroot,
raw parsnip,
raw carrot, img_0669
raw fennel,
raw apple,
raw cabbage,
raw celeriac,
raw radish… and mix it all together in a large bowl.
Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon (stops the apple going brown),
a slug of olive oil,
lots of fresh chopped coriander
and a sprinkle of toasted seeds to serve….
Make sure you make a massive bowl, as this will keep really well in the fridge for 2 or 3 days. Its great for breakfast with an omelette, on its own for lunch, maybe sprinkle over some grumbled goats cheese, as a hearty side salad with roast chicken or salmon… Just make it.. then next time you are starving and open the fridge…ta-dah… something healthy delicious to ensure you make a great meal choice x Let me know what you think?

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TIP: if you have youngish children, recruit them to help you peel the veg, selecting their favourites… start with just the raw carrot at first… and sprinkle over your seeds… if you can get children confident to recognise and try new dishes you can then introduce something new, like raw parsnip.. even sweeter than carrots, or some peppers, until before long this is a dish they recognise, are familiar and confident with and you can serve up for all the family. Maybe try it this weekend as an alternative to baking cakes with children ( I was definitely guilty this for a long time)… Emboldened, my 6 year old twin boys, let loose with a sharp knife and a peeler (perhaps a potato peeler not the julienne slicer!!!!) just love it for the sheer danger factor!

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I use this Julienne Slicer, with the little sharp teeth. Its made by OXO Grips and costs less than £10:00 on Amazon (not sponsored by the way… I just know you can get bigger, swankier ones, but this lives in my cutlery drawer and is the simplest thing to use… just watch your fingers!

Asian inspired vegetable soup

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Small bowls big flavours

This was a nourishing bowl of restorative warmth this weekend. Two of the three children came down with a sickness bug from school and had mini appetites and no colour in their cheeks, the weather was cold and wet and I needed something quick and tasty. Coconut milk is such a great base for autumn soups, sweet and filling it pairs well with root vegetables for a delicious instant pick-me-up.

 

Ingredients

2 leeks

3 carrots

1/2 head Chinese cabbage leaf

1 tsp celery salt

1 400ml can fill fat coconut milk

1 tbsp nam pla fish saice

1 tbsp of tamari GF soy sauce

Kefir lime leaves (optional)

 

Method

 

take a large stainless steel pan & simmer the leeks, carrots and cabbage in a tablespoon of coconut oil with 1tsp of celery salt added until the veg are sweet and translucent (approx 10 mins)

add the tin of coconut milk plus then half full the emptied tin with tap water and add also to the pan, add the nam pla fish sauce and soy sauce and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes until the carrots are tender

blitz in a blender until smooth and creamy and serve with fresh coriander

 

you can substitute many autumn veg, butternut squash or sweet potato would be equally delicious

 

we served this is tiny  bowls as it was all my patients fancied but I love that they were nourished ?