Smoked Trout Paté with Carrot Salad & Pitta Chips

smoked-trout-pate-7

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks called The Diet for Food Lovers by Jennifer Irvine – it is a beautiful book of healthy, delicious recipes (and the pictures are beautiful too!). This particular recipe looks like there is a lot to it but it is actually very simple and easy – perfect with a glass of wine or as a starter if you were having anyone for dinner. The paté takes just 5 mins to make, the carrot salad,  10 mins and the pitta ‘chips’ take 5 mins to prepare and about 15 mins to bake in the oven.  Instead of making the pitta chips you could have some toasted wholemeal or rye bread or even some melba toast with the paté. The pitta chips are worth trying though as they are surprisingly tasty (and a healthy alternative to tortilla chips) and take only minutes to make – my daughter loves them and took them in her lunchbox when I made them recently. And who would ever have thought of a carrot salad? It looks beautiful and the dressing really turns it into something special. Continue reading

Curry in a hurry!

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There are few things that bring a little whoop of joy to my heart as much as when those magic words “that was soooo nice” are uttered at the dinner table. It makes all the time and effort that goes into planning and preparing a meal worthwhile. This high praise was given to the dish that I am sharing with you this week. The amazing thing about this dish is that it is one of the healthiest, leanest dinners that I cook. Continue reading

The wonders of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

ACV Irish

Apple Cider Vinegar is pretty incredible stuff. Commonly used in salad dressings, sauces, marinades, chutneys and preservatives, it also has remarkable medicinal properties. What I’m talking about here is raw, unfiltered, unpasteurised vinegar which contains the ‘mother‘. Don’t ask me to explain what the ‘mother’ is, all I know is that this is the real good stuff which is explained as strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance. This gives the vinegar its anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It means that any ailment that can be traced from bacteria, a virus or a fungus can be treated with the help of apple cider vinegar. The main reason this works is that apple cider vinegar, as acidic as it tastes, actually helps to alkalize your body (most of us are more acidic). A body that’s more alkaline may be more effective at fighting off viruses that cause colds and the flu. There is tons of information on the internet about this amazing stuff so why not ‘google’ it for yourself when you have a few minutes to spare.

Up to now I have been buying Bragg’s, made in the U.S. and widely available in Ireland in many supermarkets and health food shops and inexpensive at approx €5. However, I was excited to discover recently this wonderful Irish Apple Cider Vinegar from The Apple Farm of Tipperary (don’t you just love the bottle) which I bought in The Ballymore Inn* in Ballymore Eustace for approx. €10.

* a great spot for lunch or dinner plus they also sell a range of Irish food produce like this Apple Cider Vinegar.

I have used ACV to help relieve head colds, sore throats, urinary tract infections and I now take two teaspoons in a glass of water as a supplement at night time. If drinking apple cider vinegar straight up is too much for you (especially if your stomach is upset from the cold or flu) dilute it with a bit of warm water and some honey.

Cold Remedy
Drink a tablespoon or two of ACV (in a glass of water) at the first onset of a cold or the flu.

Urinary Tract Infection(UTI) (cystitis)
This is something I suffer from on a regular basis so I speak from (painful) experience! Apple Cider Vinegar can be useful in preventing the bacteria that cause UTIs from multiplying or growing. If you feel the a UTI coming on you can use apple cider vinegar to help relieve the symptoms.
1. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. You can also add lemon juice and sweeten with honey. Mix well.
2. Drink this at least twice a day for a few days.

Note: It is important to catch a bladder infection early. Although the incidence is low, if left untreated a bladder infection can travel up into the kidneys. So, if you are  still having symptoms after a couple of days of treatment with raw apple cider vinegar, go to your doctor for medical help

Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing Recipe
Mix 3 parts olive oil to one part vinegar. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and a splash of balsamic vinegar for a sweet taste if you like. Mix well and drizzle over your salad.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar Once You’re Already Sick
If you waited too long and are in the throes of a cold or the flu, keep drinking the vinegar anyway. It’ll help your body fight off the germs, give you some energy, and help improve your digestion.

ACV US

Feta Stuffed Butternut Squash


Feta & Butternut Squash

It’s all about green, white and gold today given the day that is in it, it feels like the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show support for our ‘boys in green’ as they play France in the Euros. This dish is another one to put on your list for your meat-free dinner day. It is easy to make as well as healthy, wholesome and really tasty as it contains a great combination of flavours. Many of the ingredients are ones that you can have in your store cupboard. Butternut Squash for example has a great shelf life – this particular one was in my vegetable drawer for at least a month! Feta cheese is also something you can have in your fridge as it has a long shelf life once unopened. To use the rest of a packet of feta you could make this Green Pea & Feta Cheese Omelette the next day. The other ingredients i.e. onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes in oil would always be staples in my kitchen with the only ingredient that I might need to buy being the fresh mint.

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40/50 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
½ – 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped
80g / 3oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
100g / 4oz feta cheese, lightly crumbled
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400° F / Gas 6

  • Prepare the butternut squash by cutting it in half lengthways and scooping out the seeds with a spoon
  • Place the squash on a non-stick baking tray (or a tray lined with baking paper)
  • Roast in the oven for approx 30 minutes or until the butternut is soft, cooked through and has a slightly coloured surface (a larger squash will take longer to cook)
  • While the squash is in the oven heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.
  • Sweat over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta, mint, cooked onions and garlic together.
  • Remove the butternut squash from the oven when cooked and scoop out some of the flesh to make space for the filing. (Keep the flesh for another dish). Fill the squash with the stuffing mixture, then return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with some green veg.

PS – this reheats very well so you can enjoy it the next day as well !

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Bacon & Asparagus Frittata

Bacon & Asparagus Frittata

You know when you come home, hungry (in my case usually ‘hangry’!) and need food fast, well instead of dialling your local takeaway this is the perfect answer and will be on your table even faster.  Tasty, quick, healthy and satisfying.  I made this one with asparagus, bacon pieces and finished it with some rocket but once you have eggs in stock you can just use whatever ingredients you have e.g. chorizo, cheddar, parma ham, sausage etc etc.   It is a great way to use up leftovers too.

Make sure you use a non-stick pan  – I always keep one purely for omelettes, pancakes etc. Otherwise you may be scraping your dinner out of the pan!

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
250g or 1 bundle of asparagus tips
75g of bacon pieces
4 large eggs
50g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Cook the asparagus in a pan of simmering salted water or steam over boiling water
  • Remove after 5 mins (they need to be tender and still bright green)
  • Drain, run under a cold tap and cut into pieces (approx. 1 inch)
  • Heat the frying pan and cook the bacon pieces for 3 to 4 minutes (no additional oil may be needed)
  • Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl, add the asparagus, parmesan and chives, stirring well.
  • Season with salt & pepper
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook gently for 3 minutes, drawing back the edges with a wooden spatula and tipping the runny egg over the edge to help it set.
  • Cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes and then place under a pre-heated grill, cooking for 2 minutes or until the top is set and lightly golden.
  • Remove and serve. Enjoy!

Spinach & Ricotta Polpetti

Spinach Polpette 1

This is a really easy, comforting and tasty vegetarian dish – I adore the combination of ricotta and spinach in just about anything particularly in filled pasta like tortellini or cannelloni. Plus you get a whopping portion of all that iron (so essential for all us women) and nutritional goodness in the spinach particularly when you use frozen spinach. The average bag of fresh spinach weighs approx. 180g and there is 400g of frozen spinach in this dish so you get the picture. This is good for you! Don’t be tempted to leave out the nutmeg, it really does add something special to the overall flavour of the dish. Continue reading

Mason Jar Salads

Mason Jar Salad 1

These Mason Jar* salads are a recent discovery of mine. They are genius!  Since I went back working I have been buying my lunch out each day which is not something I can or want to keep doing. Apart from the expense I find I am eating stuff I wouldn’t normally choose to eat. In line with my 80/20 philosophy about food I like to eat healthily during the week so I can relax at the weekend and enjoy a few treats plus a few glasses of wine. This requires a bit of organisation and planning though during the week and these salads in a jar are a brilliant idea.  I make two at a time and they fit neatly in my handbag. With these salads it is all about the order of the ingredients – salad dressing first, this is so important as it guarantees that your salad ingredients don’t get soggy. Then put in a grain or a protein or something else big and chunky (e.g. chick peas, quinoa, sweet potato, butternut squash, pasta etc) layer your ingredients according to how heavy they are, e.g towards the top add nuts, grated cheese, seeds and lastly top it with your salad leaves. When you are ready to eat it then you just turn it out into a bowl, the salad leaves will be at the bottom.  Just mix it and there you go – a perfectly fresh and satisfying salad.   This website which I came across will give you some great ideas to encourage you to give this a go.

*PS – I bought the jar in SuperValu for €4.50 – however any clean jar that has a suitably wide opening will do.

In the one in the photo there is the following (from the bottom up!):

  • Spiralised / grated courgette
  • Shredded carrot
  • Black olives
  • Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Cucumber chunks
  • Cooked chicken
  • Mange tout(lightly steamed)
  • Broccoli (lightly steamed)
  • Mixed leaves

 

 

Tortilla de Patatas

 

Tortilla 1

This picture represents my perfect Friday night feast! Feet up, glass of something red and full bodied in hand, let the  weekend begin! (I suppose if I tried hard I could manage to enjoy this too at lunchtime somewhere sunny and warm !)  There is a Spanish theme going on here – I may have mentioned before that I go to Spanish classes every week so trying out the food is all part of the homework! Someone has to do it. In the photo along with the olives, sundried tomatoes, manchego cheese(my absolute favourite of all cheeses) and serrano ham, there is some Spanish tortilla or Spanish omelette. Continue reading

10 minute Energy Balls

 

Energy balls 1

It is no coincidence that this week’s recipe is quick, easy, with ingredients to give you an energy boost! My weekly post is later than usual this week due to work pressures however worth the wait I hope! These energy balls are delicious, made in minutes and quite addictive. They are full of good things and contain only natural sugars. I have been trying to cut down on sugar over the past year and I get my ‘sweet fix’ now from dark chocolate (74% cocoa solids), these energy balls and these sugar-free chocolate chip cookies from a previous post. (I am sure any goodness is negated however once you eat more than 4 of them in one go!).

Continue reading

Delicious Chickpea Burgers

 

Chickpea burgers 3

These burgers are a revelation – delicious, healthy, good for you, low in fat,  quick and easy to make. They also keep you feeling fuller for longer because chickpeas are full of protein and fibre and as if that wasn’t enough they also contain exceptional levels of iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. The burgers take only minutes to make so they are the ultimate healthy ‘fast food’.  Continue reading