Korean pancakes with leftover roast beef

As you can probably gather from my blog, I don’t have the sweetest tooth. In fact, I’d go as far to say I’m not really a fan of sweet things. THERE, I SAID IT!

I wanted to share with you my version of these savoury pancakes I made last night, a variation on this great recipe from the Three Little Pigs blog ❤ thank you, ladies!

This version serves 2 and takes about 20 mins from start to finish. It’s a great alternative to sweet pancakes, and possibly the best way of using leftover roast beef EVER.

What you need

For the dipping sauce

  • 1 tsp of sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 ½ tsp of rice vinegar

For the pancake mix

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water, plus a splash extra if the mixture is too thick
  • 1 large egg (preferably free range!)
  • 100g of cooked beef, shredded or thinly sliced (reserve some for serving if desired)
  • half a courgette, spiralized or use a peeler to cut into ribbons
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • handful of coriander leaves, for serving
  • Sunflower oil for cooking

What to do

For the dipping sauce, mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

For the batter, combine the flour, water and egg. Add a splash more water if the mixture is too thick. The add in the remaining ingredients, mix well and season with a little salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, ladle in half of the mixture and spread around the pan so it cooks evenly.

Cook on a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes until the bottom turns golden brown. Shake the pan every minute or so to ensure it doesn’t stick. Flip the pancake and fry for a further two-three minutes on the other side, until the cooked through and the pancake is crisp.

Repeat the process one more with the second half of the mixture. Cut the pancakes any which way you like, or serve whole. Top with the coriander leaves and extra shredded beef (if reserved), drizzle on some of the dipping sauce and serve with the rest of the sauce to dunk!

Garlic-roasted veg with whole wheat fusilli

In my opinion, meal prep is the only way you can guarantee eating healthy, tasty lunches throughout the week. At work, I’m super busy, so I don’t have time to faff about going out for lunch. Plus, I don’t want to spend unesseccery money on stuff that doesn’t make me feel good about what I’m eating.

This is one of my favourite desk lunch recipes. It’s quick and easy, full of texture and flavour and can be made ahead in bulk. Plus it’s a great way to use up nearly-stale bread instead of wasting it. Just wazz up one to two slices in a food processor and you’re away.

This recipes makes 2 hearty lunch portions and takes about 20 mins to rustle up.

I was recently sent some healthy infused rapeseed oils from Borderfields as part of their #IsBetter campaign. I already really rate rapeseed oil as an alternative to olive oil, as it’s much lower in saturated fat but still great to cook with. These infused oils are lovely and will be cropping up in a few of my recipes this month. Thanks to Bordefields for sending them over!

What you need

For the roast veg:

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 peppers (whichever colours you prefer)
  • 2cloves garlic, whole
  • 2tbsp. garlic infused rapeseed oil (I used Borderfields)
  • handful of cherry tomatoes

For the pasta:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused rapeseed oil
  • 140g whole wheat fusilli
  • 50g fresh brown breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano all work well)
  • handful of fresh basil, roughly torn, plus extra to serve
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Roughly chop the veg and arrange in a roasting tin along with the 2 cloves garlic. Drizzle with the oil and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is coated. Pop in the middle of the oven for 35 mins, tuning once halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta until al-dente. In a large saucepan, heat the other 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the breadcrumbs, dried herbs and minced garlic, stir well. Heat gently until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, but make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil leaves.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir well to ensure everything is coated. Add a little hot water if you feel the mixture needs loosening a little.
  4. Separate the pasta mixture in to two Tupperware’s and top each with the roasted veg and a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese. Keeps in the fridge well for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or re-heated in the microwave for lunch!

What are your favourite pasta dishes, or healthy make-ahead lunches? Use the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Cheshire Food Blogger

Fluffy Eggs and Mushrooms on Toast

Scrambled eggs on toast is a wonderful veggie option for brunch, especially at the weekend. Here is my recipe for a quick, simple and satisfying breakfast that you can rustle up in no time.

#bestofthebrunch
#bestofthebrunch

Weekends are all about a lie-in and a decent brunch – if you ask me. Here’s a weekend breakfast classic which is quick, easy and not all that unhealthy. Fluffy scrambled eggs with herby mushrooms on granary toast. Mmmm. A splash of Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce at the end tastes great and helps if you have a hangover!

You’ll need a wok or a large frying pan for the scrambled eggs, and a little separate frying pan is perfect for the ‘shrooms.

This recipe serves 2, and takes about 10-15 minutes in total.

What you need:

  • 5 free-range eggs
  • a dash of milk
  • a small handful of finely chopped, flat-leaf parsley (or you could use thyme or coriander – whatever you fancy)
  • a big handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms
  • a shallot, very finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  •  2 knobs of butter or spreadable Lurpak
  • a little bit of olive oil
  • 4 slices of granary bread
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

What to do:

  1. prep your work station – get the wok and frying pan ready on the hob, toast in the toaster (but don’t toast just yet) and get your plates and cutlery out ready.
  2. crack your eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork, adding the dash of milk and salt and pepper. Mix in half of the chopped parsley.
  3. put one of the knobs of butter into small frying pan with the olive oil, and wait until it starts to foam. Then, add the sliced mushrooms and chopped shallots (if using). Leave them to fry gently, tossing every 30 seconds or so.
  4. add the other knob of butter to the wok and again, wait until it starts to foam (a medium heat should do it), pour in the eggs and using a wooden spatula start to stir them immediately, continuing to stir until they start to come together.
  5. pop the toast down in the toaster!
  6. as the eggs cook – turn down the heat, but keep folding them over with the spatula.
  7. check your mushrooms to make sure they are going nice and golden, and add the chopped garlic and the rest of the fresh parsley for the last 30 seconds or so.
  8. by this point you should be ready to bring it all together, get your toast buttered and serve the scrambled eggs on one slice, then a generous pile of the mushrooms on the other.
  9. season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of Tabasco hot sauce to taste! Enjoy!

Cheshire Food Blogger

Cheshire Food Blogger

Flat Iron steak with rocket, Parmesan & potato wedges

So it’s nearly the first ‘proper’ weekend after the Christmas and New Year break… How is everybody feeling? Are you ready for another feast yet? If not, fear not, as this might just get you in the mood…

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This recipe is a real weekend treat – Flat Iron steak with all the delicious gastro-pub style trimmings. Consider it a big, fat WELL DONE to you if you’ve been watching what you eat this week. It’s now time to treat yo’ self. This meal also really does make you feel as if you’ve just eaten out at your favourite pub or Italian eatery but for a fraction of the price too, which is even more brilliant in January of all months.

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400g Flat Iron steak from the butchers at the Cheshire Smoke House.

Flat Iron steak is also known as butlers’ steak or shoulder top blade roast. It’s from the top of the front leg of the animal (hence the name shoulder) and is packed full of flavour and marbled with a fair bit of fat. Make sure you ask your butcher to remove any excess fat or gristle so you can just get on with cooking and enjoying it.

I get mine from the Cheshire Smoke House (just outside Wilmslow) and at £5.99 for 400g that EASILY feeds two, this is such excellent value for money as well as down right delicious.

I cannot stress the importance of rest time in this recipe, so do not skip it and you should end up with something really tender, pink and juicy.

What you need:

  • 400g Flat Iron steak (at room temperature before cooking)
  • sea salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • chilli flakes
  • 2 medium potatoes (I like Maris Piper)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic glaze (I use this one)
  • half a punnet button mushrooms
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • half a pack of ready-to-eat rocket
  • 15-20g freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

What to do:

Lightly rub both sides on the meat with olive oil then season generously with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chilli flakes. I find one pinch of chilli flakes per side of the steak gives enough ‘heat’ but if you like it fiery, add more.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Cut your potatoes into even sized wedges. Add to a large pan of salted, boiling water and par-cook for 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander and allow the moisture to evaporate from them. Transfer to a roasting tray and drizzle/toss with plenty of olive oil, then season well with sea salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 30 mins – turning once to ensure they cook evenly.

Half the mushrooms and add to a small frying pan with the ghee, garlic paste and dried thyme. When the wedges have 15 mins cooking time remaining, turn on the heat beneath the mushrooms to the lowest setting. These will now cook slowly until everything else is ready. Keep and eye on them and stir/toss when necessary.

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Mushrooms with ghee, garlic paste and dried thyme

Heat a heavy-based griddle or frying pan read for the seasoned steak. When the pan is nice and hot, add the steak and cook for 2 mins on each side. And no more than that for a nice, rare and juicy steak.

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steak on the griddle with the mushrooms sizzling away.

Immediately remove the steak from the pan and wrap in tin foil to rest and keep warm for up to 10 mins (but at least 5 mins). This bit is the key to epic steak – so don’t skip it!

Arrange the rocket on each plate, sprinkle with Parmesan shavings and drizzle with the balsamic oil. Add the wedges and mushrooms to the plate and slice your steak diagonally with the sharpest knife you own.

Dig in & enjoy.

Sophie -x-

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Brad’s juicy portion with plenty of wedges and loads of garlic mushrooms!

#HBBakeOff with Ugne, Holland & Barratt

If you follow @SpamellaB or I on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook you will probably be aware that we went to a rather excellent food event this Sunday just gone.

It was a Holland and Barratt ‘free-from’ bake off, hosted by no other than Ugne – who was one of the stars of this years’ Great British Bake-off series.

Getting excited on the train down to London, my good friend Pamela and I chatted the whole journey, all about our excitement for the event, the fear of losing and baking in front of so many other bloggers, and wondered what Ugne herself would be like. Oh, and we took loads of selfies… Of course 🙂

Travel was fairly fuss-free, so when we arrived to Cactus Kitchen in North Clapham, a quick tour of the building and we were ready to meet the team and get stuck in. Everyone else was already there (OK, so our train was 20 mins late) so we set about with quick introductions – then straight to the kitchens upstairs to get baking.

The place itself is beautiful, quaint and quicky whilst also having some really impressive facilities and swanky kitchen gadgets. I’d expect nothing less from the legendary Michel Roux Jnr’s London based cookery school! We learnt that the place was also the set of Saturday Kitchen from BBC1, a show I watch almost religiously at home – so it was straight behind the scenes to get a few photos in. The lovely staff were happy to let us pose and even offered to take the photos for us!

The kitchen upstairs was out of this world. A beautiful, airy space in the loft of the building with high ceilings and stunning exposed beams painted in the cutest, pale, duck-egg blue shade.

The surfaces were polished, natural wood and all our ingredients were set out before us. Complete with Cactus Kitchen aprons and our own name tags to mark our individual workspace.

Ugne was warm, friendly and seemed as excited as we were. She told us about how she loved free-from cooking as she is passionate about baking with a healthy twist, saying that baking such beautiful, tasty treats shouldn’t always be full of fat, sugar, dairy and gluten/wheat.

We were baking an Apple, Pear and Cranberry cake – a Holland and Barrett recipe that Ugne was to judge at the end. Baking was a lot more relaxed than we had first imagined, with some bloggers less experienced than others. It was soon apparent that this was all just a bit of fun, although our competitiveness was quite difficult to suppress at times!

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Time for a quick selfie with Ugne in the midst of baking!

Whilst our bakes cooled – we were treated to a fabulous ‘free from’ lunch. Everything on the spread was gluten and wheat free and much of it was also dairy and sugar free too. It was all delicious, particularly the avocado and quinoa salad and the stunning cheese that was served with pickles and chutneys. There was also sliced ham, hummus, tortilla chips and various tasty salads that were all truly outstanding. Ugne of course joined us for lunch, and it was great to be able to ask her questions and enjoy her company whilst we covered all topics from food, weddings, blogging and GBBO.

After lunch, it was back upstairs to put the finishing touches to our free-from bakes and get a demonstration from Ugne as she baked her Apricot, Chestnut and Coffee Cake that was soaked in a little rum, but was free from gluten, wheat, dairy and refined sugar. It was great to see Ugne in action, she’s very clearly a natural at baking and it was a privilege to see her talk through the recipe and have the opportunity to ask questions. We got to taste her bake at the end and it was stunning.

And so for the finale – judging our free from bakes! Ugne was tasked with trying all 8 of the bakes individually. They had been set out in front of her by the staff at Cactus Kitchen, as to not reveal the identity of the bakers…… It was a tense few moments as Ugne carefully considered each bite, commenting on the pros and cons of each cake (in the nicest way possible – not in any way like Paul Hollywood does on the Bake Off!)

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My final cake, topped with dairy-free dark chocolate melted with coconut oil (Pam’s idea!) and topped with crushed pecans and cranberry jewels ❤

It was clear to see Ugne found it tricky to pick, all the bakes were pretty good (well, most!) and after much deliberation a winner was picked for the prize. Sadly, it wasn’t Pam or I this time – although we did get some absolutely cracking feedback (including Ugne grabbing my face with both hands and telling me my cake was beautiful!) I will certainly be baking more free-from treats in the future as I thought they tasted fantastic. It was great to experiment with new ingredients under such expert supervision!

Overall, this was one of the best food events I have been to yet. Meticulously organised, great staff and Ugne herself was the true star baker. I feel really privileged to have met such a nice woman and I think we can all expect to see great things from her in the future!

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Presenting her own TV show one day…..? She’s a natural 🙂

Here’s a few more snaps from the day. And a massive thanks to the organisers Jade and Manisha for doing such an excellent job!

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Katie, one of the other bloggers who was baking next to me topped her cake with a chocolate ganache and cashew butter! ❤
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It’s all in the detail….
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Food bloggers doin’ what they do best……
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I could get used to this 🙂 on the set of Saturday Kitchen! And sporting the festive jumper…
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OK, just one more selfie…. 🙂
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Guest Post: Buffalo Blue Chicken Sandwich

Remember the guy who brought us that amazing bacon jam recipe? Well, he’s back. Back on the blog with a brand-new recipe from his super fresh sandwich truck in Liverpool. I’ve not tried it yet – but it’s pay day this weekend so I will be doing so. Let’s all do it together then compare results 🙂

#StesBuffBlueChick is the hashtag… Let is know if you give it a go! @sophiesscran and @HUSSSSandwichCo on Twitter. Take it away, Ste…

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Image source: saveur.com/article/Recipes/Buffalo-Wings

We love buffalo hot wings. Those crispy chunks of deep-fried chicken tossed in a mix of Frank’s hot sauce and butter, dipped in a bucket of blue cheese sauce. They’re an absolute classic, and the inspiration behind our Buffalo Blue Chicken Sarnie.

A few years ago I cooked an American-inspired feast for my cousin and his family who were visiting from Czechoslovakia. His son, Branag, had never had hot wings before. Turns out he liked them. So much so, that unbeknownst to us, he’d eaten ten wings, bones and all. Luckily he didn’t die. He wasn’t even ill. But it did make us try out boneless chicken thighs instead of the wings and soon after we thought of putting them in a sandwich. Thanks Branag!

Recipe Serves 4.

What you need:

For the chicken

  • 4 very large boneless (very important), skinless, chicken thighs
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the blue cheese sauce

  • 100g grated blue cheese
  • 100g soured cream
  • 100g mayo
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

For the buffalo hot sauce

  • ½ cup Frank’s hot sauce
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

For the sandwich

  • 4 ciabatta rolls, split in half
  • ¼ iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
  • Baby leaf salad
  • 1 beef tomato, cut into 8 slices

What to do:

Slice the chicken thighs into even slices about ½ inch thick. Season the chicken with 1 tsp of salt and ½ tsp black pepper.

Combine the flour, spices and remaining seasoning in a bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine.

Dredge the chicken in the flour a few pieces at a time and shake off any excess flour.

Spread the chicken out on a rack on a baking tray until all of the pieces are done. Cover the baking tray with clingfilm and pop it in the fridge whilst you make the sauces.

For the blue cheese sauce, add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it is thoroughly combined. Alternatively, whisk thoroughly in a bowl.

For the buffalo hot sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the hot sauce to the smallest compartment of a food processor with the salt and pepper. Switch the processor on and then very slowly start pouring the butter into the hot sauce to form an emulsification. The slower the better. You should end up with a perfect bright orange hot sauce-butter concoction.

Alternatively, you could just use a bowl, a whisk and your wrists but I find food processors are much more consistent.

Keep the sauce warm in a bowl tightly covered with clingfilm.

Preheat the grill in your oven for the ciabatta.

Preheat a deep fat fryer to 180°C. If you don’t have a deep fat fryer use a heavy bottomed saucepan and a kitchen thermometer. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer get one.

Take the chicken out of the fridge and fry for five minutes until crisp. You may have to fry in batches depending on the size of your fryer/pan.

Meanwhile, toast each side of the ciabattas. Spread a good dollop of blue cheese sauce on the bottom of each ciabatta, followed by two slices of beef tomato and the shredded iceberg lettuce.

Toss the crispy chicken pieces in the buffalo hot sauce then portion them out equally on top of the lettuce. Add a small handful of baby leaf salad then crown with the top piece of ciabatta.

Finally, cut each sandwich in half through the middle and enjoy.

Cheshire Food Blog

Brunch at No. 12 Easton, Bristol

A couple of weeks ago, Bradley and I went on one of our road-trips to Bristol to visit close friends. It was a bit of a Glastonbury reunion and also an opportunity to see our friends’ really cool new house. It was a weekend of epic proportions; they were amazing hosts and we really did enjoy ourselves… probably a little bit too much judging by the enormity of the hangover that was to follow! But, hey, it was all worth it…

We arrived on the Friday evening, ready bright and early for Saturday’s antics. Our hosts, Becky & Craig, know how much we like cool and quirky places to eat, so they picked out somewhere to take us for brunch on the Saturday morning. We needed something tasty, hearty and filling to keep us going throughout the day… So we headed to No. 12 Easton.

A cool, down-to-earth little coffee house and Deli, situated in the Easton area of Bristol, not far from Stapleton Rd station. The place was busy when we arrived (always a good sign) and the girls on shift were quick to welcome us. They helped us find some seats (as there was 7 of us) outside in the, bright, sunny little courtyard.

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Impressive selection of free range cured bacon, pork sausages, chorizo and free range chicken ❤
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Healthy selection of fine cheeses, butters, cooked meats and pickles ❤
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A stunning selection of cakes – the short bread was absolutely gorgeous ❤

We ordered a range of brunch/breakfast style dishes, and some of the guys opted for more ‘lunchtime’ options with sandwiches.

I opted for the sausage sandwich with mustard & red onion marmalade. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I have an unadulterated obsession with sausages. The bread was incredible, soft but sturdy slabs of white, bouncy bread – perfect to fuel a day of drinking alcohol in the sunshine! The onion marmalade was sweet and sharp, and the mustard was wholegrain which gave it a lovely, savory kick. The sausages themselves were thin, sliced chipolatas, but very meaty indeed. Delicious.

Brad opted for the waffles and bacon with maple syrup, of course! He tells me it tasted as good as it looked (amazing), even though the table was wobbly and he dropped it on the floor, quickly preceded by him picking it up and devouring the whole thing anyway… strictly adhering to the 3 second rule… of course.

Becky and Craig went all out for the sandwich option and both got the house smoked chicken and gammon sandwich with Pitt Cue sauce and pickles. It looked lush.

The cakes on offer also looked absolutely divine. We had a big slab of shortbread and it tasted amazing – chunky, sweet and buttery. It crumbled perfectly then just melted in your mouth as you washed it down with a cup of their delicious coffee, which they source from Extract Coffee  and Round Hill Roastery. I don’t know much about coffee – but compared to the usual Starkbucks or Costa, this stuff had such an epic depth of flavour somehow and really gave you a nice little wake-up buzz from the caffeine.

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Epic sausage butty and door-stop bread
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house smoked chicken and gammon sandwich with Pitt Cue sauce and pickles
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Coffee with a added art, which does look a little bit like a willy! ❤

Overall this place was great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee or cakes. If you’re in the area I would highly recommend!

Follow No. 12 Easton on Twitter.

No. 12 Easton, Bristol, 12 High St, BS5 6DL.

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Eat Well for Life: Top Tips for Healthy, Balanced Eating

You may have noticed that my latest blog post discussed what healthy eating is, and how we all (including the pros) take different approaches to it.

This time, I’ve decided to summarise my own key tips for eating well; things I’ve picked up over the past few years that I honestly think will stick with me for life.

My approach to healthy eating is simple; I’m considered in what I eat the majority of time, and treat myself the rest. After all, life’s for living, and it’s way too short for crappy diets that leave you feeling guilty and hungry. Another key to the balanced lifestyle is fitness – so I try to stay active as much as possible too (dancing in the kitchen most certainly counts!)

So here are my top tips for ‘eating well,’ I hope you find them useful!

Be selective with your oils

With its light and nutty flavour, Rapeseed oil can replace olive oil in pretty much every recipe. It’s especially good in curries, stews and classics like chilli con carne, or a great low-fat Bolognese ragu. It has the lowest saturated fat content of any cooking oil (half the sat-fat as olive oil), and as it’s mostly made here in the UK. So supporting local artisans like Calvia Rapeseed Oil (made in Cheshire) is also a big plus for me. Make sure you buy the high quality, cold pressed versions for the true healthier option.

Coconut oil is also a firm favourite in my kitchen. It is high in ‘good fats’ that are easily absorbed by the body, and is fantastic for frying eggs or roasting veggies, fish or sweet potato fries. I use Lucy Bee as I love her brand, recipes and the cute jars come with ‘easy-peel’ labels, so you can easily re-use them to stash tea bags, candles, dried chillies or whatever else you might have knocking around your kitchen!

Choose lean, good quality proteins

It’s common to want meat with every meal nowadays, as it’s so easily accessible in the supermarkets at cheap prices. However, it’s also good to give your body a rest from it, which is why I love the #MeatFreeMonday campaign that promotes this message.

Saying that, I do LOVE meat, so when I do eat it I make sure it’s of the highest quality available. Musclefood is an excellent option for meat and fish. It’s delivered to your door ‘super chilled’ so you can chose to eat it right away (refrigerate it) or store in the freezer. Their chicken breasts have won numerous Great Taste awards and they stock great quality Red Tractor approved British meats. There’s no added water in their bacon or chicken, and they have a greater variety of lean meats compared to the supermarkets. The chicken sausages I use in my Lean Sausage Shakshuka dish are delicious, and only 97 calories per sausage.

You should also never underestimate your local Butcher or Fishmonger for providing top-quality cuts of meat and fresh fish at very reasonable prices. They will de-bone it, slice it, portion it or skin it for you if you need them to, which can save you valuable time in the kitchen (for dancing, of course!).

Substitute heavy carbs where possible

You will have seen me do this a few times recently; using ‘courgetti’ instead of spaghetti, substituting potato mash for sweet potatoes and/or cauliflower or ditching white rice in favour of ‘cauliflower rice’ in this recent curry recipe. These simple approaches not only up your veg intake (getting more nutrients and fibre into your body), they also fill you up without the stodge.

When you do eat carbs like rice, bread and pasta – opting for whole grain varieties is best as they have a lower ‘GI’ (glycaemic index). This means they release energy slower, keeping you ‘fuller for longer’ as they are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar. Ask your local bakery if they do a low GI loaf option, or stick to whole grain, pitas or tortilla wraps where possible.

I’m also a massive fan of quinoa and bulgur wheat which you can substitute for rice in many dishes. Or if you want to avoid wheat and gluten but love pasta, I highly recommend Rizopia’s brown-rice pasta. It tastes amazing considering it contains neither wheat nor gluten!

Never compromise on flavour

To ensure proper satisfaction after each meal – you need to make sure you haven’t compromised on flavour too much in order to keep things ‘healthy’.  I try to make sure my food is full of fresh or dried herbs and spices where possible. Adding a kick with fresh chillies (if you like it hot) or a hint of freshness with some freshly picked herbs can often transform a dish from mediocre to average, without affecting the calorie count. My favourite herbs and spices are;

  • Basil (great in Italian dishes or Thai curries)
  • Coriander (perfect in any type of curry dish, as well as to freshen up rice, quinoa or bulgar wheat salads)
  • Thyme (great with roast meat or veggies, or as a fragrant subtle kick in my Thyme and Tabasco sausage rolls!)
  • Fresh chillies (in my opinion, a superfood as it speeds up your metabolism as well as adding flavour)
  • Bay leaves (last for ages in the cupboard, and go perfectly with minced meat dishes like spag bol or cottage pie)
  • Garam Masala (perfect to add a beautiful curry flavour)
  • Oregano (fresh or dried, great with Italian dishes or on top of veggie pizza)
  • Harissa (dried or paste, you only need a bit to add a wonderful depth of flavour)
  • Piri piri/Cajun or Jerk (great to spice up chicken or sweet potato fries)

Remember, it’s all about balance!

Healthy eating really is all about finding your own way and sticking to it, until it becomes a healthy habit. I find that it’s all about staying on track as much as you can, and eating your favourite ‘treat’ foods in moderation. Food is meant to fuel you and make you feel good, so I don’t beat myself up trying to eat the perfect ‘healthy diet’ 100% of the time, nobody should!


 

What are your top tips for eating healthy? And what are your favourite indulgent, ‘treat’ foods? Use the comments below to let me know, I would love to hear from you! ❤

Cheshire Food Blog

Campfire Gourmet Challenge: British Macaroni Cheese

I was recently asked by Park Resorts to create a gourmet, campfire-inspired recipe using British produce; something a family could easily rustle up on a camp site holiday in the UK.

My initial thoughts were of a family sat around a campfire in the middle of the woods, toasting marshmallows on long sticks, singing along to a gentle guitar-strummed rendition of kumbyyah… Then I thought, hang on a minute, nobody actually does that any more… and did they ever?!

These days, a more common way to get all gourmet when camping is to make use of gas camping stoves. I take them with me whenever I go camping, as they are a safe and easy way to cook up favourite staples like pasta, but still with the fun novelty of outdoor cooking. Win win!

For my take on the ‘Campfire Gourmet Challenge’, I decided keep it simple with a British take on the all American family classic, “Mac and Cheese”. This is a stove-top version, so no need for an oven and it really tastes just as great (if not better!)

Using a generous mix of Welsh cheddar and English Red Leicester, British pancetta rashers, English mustard and some hearty oregano to season, this recipe is delicious, easy and cost-effective. Making a Mornay sauce (Béchamel with cheese) using the French roux technique in front of your fellow campers is sure to show off your gourmet skills, and might even get you out of doing the washing up. I should hope so anyway!

If you prep your ingredients before you leave and arrange them in your cool bag, once you’ve set up camp getting started couldn’t be easier. For a really quick and easy gourmet campsite dinner, cook the pasta at home before you leave and take it along with you in an airtight container. Then all you have to focus on is cooking the pancetta and getting the cheese sauce perfect to feed all your hungry campers after a long day of fun and adventure ❤

Serves 4, 30 minutes.

Recipe: Camp stove British Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients

  • 300g dried spirali pasta (cooked beforehand)
  • 60g Welsh cheddar, grated
  • 60g Red Leicester, grated
  • 50g dried mushrooms
  • 12 rashers pancetta
  • 500ml semi skimmed milk
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 50g butter
  • good handful fresh oregano, roughly torn into small pieces

Method

  1. Fire up your stove and first of all, cook the pancetta over a low heat in a frying pan. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, but cook until crisp then set aside on some kitchen paper. Heat a cup of water to the boil, and pour over the dried mushrooms to rehydrate while you make the Mornay (cheese, to you and me) sauce.
  2. Gently heat the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and mustard powder and stir until combined and you have a smooth paste-like consistency. Cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and continue to stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Give it a bit of elbow grease as it thickens, you don’t want any lumps! Season to taste.
  3. As the sauce comes to the boil, drain and squeeze out any moisture from the mushrooms and add them to the sauce. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes over a low heat. Take off the heat and add the grated cheese. Stir until the cheese has completely melted.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce along with the pancetta (break the crispy pancetta into small pieces so it distributes evenly throughout).
  5. Just before serving, stir through the torn oregano and check the seasoning. Serve immediately with extra oregano to garnish, if desired.

 

Cheshire Food Blog

Recipe: Lean, Hearty Turkey Curry with Cauliflower ‘Rice’

As part of my move towards a healthier lifestyle, I have tried to rely less on carbohydrates at meal times and focus more on lean meats, fresh veggies and lots of FLAVOUR. At first, the concept of cauliflower rice did not appeal to me in the slightest. Cauliflower isn’t the most exciting of vegetables in terms of flavour… Which is probably why it’s often teamed with cheese in the classic cauliflower cheese dish, to jazz it up a little.

However, I was blown away when I first made the so-called ‘cauli-rice’. I do have a food processor, so I must admit, to make it this way is very easy. To get to grips with it, I first read this great article by BBC Good Food which sets out all the different ways you can make it, both with and without a food processor. Below is the method I follow (with a food processor) but feel free to check out the link to see which method is best for you. I find the method below turns out great each time both in terms of taste and texture. 1 large cauliflower head can make anything up to 6 portions of ‘rice.’ It can portioned up and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen, so great to prep-ahead on a Sunday if, like me, you have more time then!

This recipe serves 2, with some leftovers for lunch or the curry can be frozen. It takes about 40 mins to prep and cook. Let me know if you give this recipe a try!

What you need:

  • half a medium-sized cauliflower
  • tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 400g turkey breast (or chicken), diced into 2-3cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup organic chicken stock (I use Kallo)
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp Rapeseed oil (I use Calvia)
  • 200g steamed broccoli
  • 1 few handfuls spinach
  • fresh coriander (optional)

What to do:

To make the curry…

  1. Heat 2 tbsp Rapeseed oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Add the diced red onion and cook for 3 minutes, until it softens and begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and chillies and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the spices and stir well for 2 minutes, until the fragrance is released. Add the diced turkey breast and stir well to coat well in the spices, cooking for 5 minutes or so over a medium-high heat so the meat browns.
  3. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and the chicken stock, cover and simmer for 25 minutes over a low heat. Check occasionally and stir as needed.
  4. Once the timer is up and the sauce has thickened, add the cooked broccoli and spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes until hot. Serve with the ‘cauli-rice’ below.

To make the cauliflower rice…

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and get out a large, flat roasting tray.
  2. Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and most of the thick core. Roughly chop into large chunks.
  3. Add a few pieces of the cauliflower chunks to the food processor at a time (as not to overload). Using the pulse setting, blitz for 30 seconds or so, until the cauliflower resembles fine rice, or couscous.
  4. Toss the ‘rice’ in a drizzle of Rapeseed oil and season with a tsp of ground cumin and some freshly ground black pepper. Tip: don’t add salt, apparently that tampers with the texture!
  5. Spread the ‘cauli-rice’ out to a thin, even layer on the roasting tray, and roast in the oven at 200C for 12 minutes, mixing it up halfway through cooking.
  6. If desired, top with some chopped fresh coriander and serve with the above curry recipe.