Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus, Barley Risotto & Sautéed Garlicky Rainbow Chard

picisto-20130808123419-418938A few weeks ago I was on a shoot with the healthiest catering I think I have ever experienced in my 20+ years of modeling. Thankfully, I never forget a dish or flavor. So tonight I’ve recreated one of the delicious sides. I adore hummus. The taste, texture and simplicity of it. It’s actually quite versatile, you can keep it original with chick peas and cumin, or you can be as creative as you like. This version is with roasted sweet potato, tahini, garlic, lemon and smoked paprika. Mmmm…

I’ve also made a healthier version of Risotto, another fav, using high fibre, high protein, Barley instead of rice. Balanced out with some sautéed super greens: Rainbow Chard.

This takes about 30 minutes to make, all you need is a mini prep or hand blender. Feeds 2 people.

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 2 large sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of rainbow chard (or swiss chard or kale)
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (or any hard cheese you like- 1/4 for the sweet potato humus and 1/4 for the risotto)
  • juice of 1 lemon (divided between the humus and rainbow chard)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • vegetable stock (homemade or cubes)
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch of fresh thyme, chopped
  • good quality sea salt & fresh cracked pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

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  1. Turn oven on to about 375˚F
  2. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into one inch pieces and rinse and drain. Place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and S&P and bake for about 20 min.
  3. Rinse the barley and place in a pan with 2 cups of water/vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer, cook for about 25-30 min.
  4. Rinse and chop the rainbow chard, make sure to remove the stems as they are quite bitter in taste. NOTE: Rainbow chard is very strong in flavor, you could substitute with kale or even spinach if you prefer.
  5. In a pan over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds. Set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add the olive oil and once hot add in the chard. Sauté for about 3 min, then add in the chopped garlic for another 2 min.
  7. Add the chard into a dish and top with pumpkin seeds, drizzle of olive oil, s&p and lemon juice. Ready to serve.
  8. Once the sweet potato is cooked, remove it from the oven and add it to a mini food prep (or bowl so you can hand blend), then add in the garlic, tahini, smoked paprika, cumin, s&p, olive oil, lemon juice and grated parmesan (or leave out the cheese for a vegan option). Blend until smooth. Ready to serve.
  9. Once the barley has finished cooking and has absorbed the liquid you can add in your grated parmesan cheese, s&p, thyme and garlic. If you would like it creamy you can add a bit more water/vegetable stock. Ready to serve.

Plate up! Healthy and delicious! What a combo 🙂

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Health Benefits of Barley

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Health Benefits

When the weather’s cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove warms the heart as well as the hearth. Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health along with the flavor of whatever soup or stew you’re cooking. In addition to its robust flavor, barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Barley’s Fiber for Regularity, Lower Cholesterol, & Intestinal Protection

Wish you were more regular? Let barley give your intestinal health a boost. In addition to providing bulk and decreasing the transit time of fecal matter, thus decreasing the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids, barley’s dietary fiber also provides food for the “friendly” bacteria in the large intestine. When these helpful bacteria ferment barley’s insoluble fiber, they produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which serves as the primary fuel for the cells of the large intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon. These helpful bacteria also create two other short-chain fatty acids, propionic and acetic acid, which are used as fuel by the cells of the liver and muscles.

The propionic acid produced from barley’s insoluble fiber may also be partly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering properties of fiber. In animal studies, propionic acid has been shown to inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved in the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering the activity of this enzyme, propionic acid helps lower blood cholesterol levels. 

*From http://www.whfoods.com

 

NOT your boring Pasta Salad- to go!

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I LOVE pasta! I don’t care what anyone says 🙂 There is a time and place for it, this I will admit. Preferably lunch time, so you can burn off the calories from the carbohydrates throughout the day and as for place, pasta in pasta salad should have a supporting role. I like to have equal amounts of veggies as I do pasta, to keep a good balance of nutrients.

It’s finally summer here in London and a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy the sunshine AND save some money, is to picnic in the park for lunch. I have these great little BPA free reusable containers, with the fork and knife built in the lid, I just fill them up, grab a blanket and off I go!

Be creative with what you have. This was a mid-week lunch made with veggies I found in my fridge. Lots of different flavors will work, so you can substitute depending on what you have at home.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried good quality pasta, I like penne or fusili for pasta salads, cooked al dente
  • handful of sugar snap peas
  • 1 heirloom tomato (if you can)
  • 1 small head of endive
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 can of artichokes
  • 1/2 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano (dried can be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small garlic clove raw
  • 1/4 cup of grated good quality parmesan cheese (or a veggie substitute or for vegans, try some toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds)
  • drizzle of good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp of freshly grated lemon rind
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper (you could also try some red pepper flakes if you want some heat)

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil for your pasta, cook for 10 min until al dente, drain and plunge into a bath of ice water to cool and stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
  2. Wash and chop all the veggies into bite size pieces, the peas I left whole.
  3. In a large bowl, add your pasta, fresh ingredients and lemon rind. Top with the parmesan cheese (or toasted seeds/nuts) and add enough olive oil and s&p to taste. Mix together well.

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4 steps and you’re done! Pack into lunch containers and head to your special spot for a healthy, homemade, inexpensive lunch under the sun.

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Quick & Easy Thai Yellow Curry for One.

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Being home alone doesn’t mean having cereal or take out for dinner. This quick and easy Yellow Curry is ready in about 20 min and packed full of fresh veggies. I always keep a jar of Thai curry paste in the fridge and a can of low fat coconut milk in the cupboard. All you need are the veggies and some brown rice and your’e ready for a deliciously spicy, healthy and hearty meal.

I love cooking, mostly for a large group of people, that way I can make many dishes and flex my culinary skills 😉 So when I am home alone, cooking just for myself, I’m not as inspired to create something amazing. Having simple ingredients on hand makes coming up with dishes for one simple and less labor intensive (hey, cooking for one means there is no one else to share the clean up!).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp of Thai Curry Paste (yellow, red or green)
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 3 baby eggplants, about 3/4 cup chopped
  • 2 heads of baby bok choy (or 1/2 cup of chopped cabbage)
  • 3 shitaki mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 handful of sugar snap peas (or green beans)
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful of  fresh Thai basil or regular basil will do
  • 1/2 cup of low fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of water or coconut water
  • 1 tbsp of tamari sauce (thats Gluten Free soy sauce)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced fine
  • Plus a portion of cooked brown rice for one (about 1/2 cup of brown rice, I used basmati, 1 cup water, simmer for about 15 min, lid on)

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INSTRUCTIONS:

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  1. Wash and chop all of the veggies except the sugar snap peas, leave them whole.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, add the oil and curry paste. Cook for about 1 min.
  3. Add in all of the veggies except the peas and bok choy, plus the garlic and ginger. Stir and cook for about 3 min.
  4. Add in the coconut milk and water. Cook for about 5 min.
  5. Add in the peas and bok choy, cook for a further 2 min.

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At this point you can add a little corn starch to thicken it, as I water down my coconut milk to keep the fat content down, but you can thicken it back up if you prefer.

Heap some brown rice into a bowl and pour on the hearty veggie curry and you’re delicious dinner for one is ready! Much better than a bowl of Special K right?? 🙂

English Pea Bruschetta on Toasted Whole Grain Bread

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Beautifully bright green- they must be good for you! I love English peas (also known as Garden Peas, Green Peas) but my other half isn’t a fan. I think he might have the same attitude toward peas as many of us, weird little green things that are in a tasteless pile on our plates as a side dish. Usually bought frozen and then boiled to death. Sad.

Solution #1: Buy fresh peas (if you can). They are so fresh and tasty that you can actually eat them raw.

Solution #2: If you buy them frozen, boil them for about 1 minute and then dunk into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and keep that intensely green color and crispness.

Solution #3: When dealing with ultra skeptical guests: garlic and parmesan on everything! That’ll usually do the trick 🙂

This now happens to be one of his (and mine of course) favorite snacks, and look at that, its made with peas! Changing peoples minds about foods is an amazing thing. Especially for them, as they have just added a new vegetable into their culinary world. Exciting!

This recipe literally takes about 2 minutes to make. You’ll need a mini food processor. Enough for 2 people, 2 toasts each.

IMG_3058Into the food processor:

1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (I cut a chunk off and let the processor do the grating for me)

1 tsp of fresh rosemary

1 cup of fresh English peas (raw or cooked for 1 minute and then placed in an ice cold water bath)

1 small clove of raw garlic

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of balsamic vinigar

S&P

4 slices of whole grain bread, toasted

IMG_3063In it all goes, blend together until relatively smooth. Spread on toast, drizzle with a little good quality olive oil (optional) and serve. Delicious 🙂

Just wait until you read about the Health AND Environmental benefits of Peas! Amazing…

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Peas are naturally low in fat, about 1/3 of a gram per cup and full of vitamins and nutrients as you can see from the chart above. Thirty percent of your daily fiber requirement in just one cup of peas! An anti-oxident and anti-inflamatory food, peas have been known to help reduce stomach cancers, type 2 diabetes and promote a healthy heart.

Check this out:

Green peas stand out as an environmentally friendly food. Agricultural research has shown that pea crops can provide the soil with important benefits. First, peas belong to a category of crops called “nitrogen fixing” crops. With the help of bacteria in the soil, peas and other pulse crops are able to take nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into more complex and usable forms. This process increases nitrogen available in the soil without the need for added fertilizer. Peas also have a relatively shallow root system which can help prevent erosion of the soil, and once the peas have been picked, the plant remainders tend to break down relatively easily for soil replenishment. Finally, rotation of peas with other crops has been shown to lower the risk of pest problems. These environmentally friendly aspects of pea production add to their desirability as a regular part of our diet.”  Source: WHFoods.com

 

 

Greece!! A Mediterranean Diet for a week. Holiday eating CAN be healthy!

picisto-20130712123315-525066After a wonderful week in Athens and Paros, Greece, I am home with many recipe ideas under my belt. Vacationing in the Med is one of the healthiest places to relax, eat and return to nature. Basically you swim, sleep, read a good book, go for walks and EAT! How nice to eat out in restaurants where the food is local, seasonal, fresh (sometimes straight out of the sea!) and mostly organic (produce coming from small family farms).

We had eggs that came from hens directly to our basket (haven’t tasted anything like them before), grilled sea bass that had been caught that morning, olive oil produced just down the street and cheeses from the local sheep on the island.  Mmmmm delicious!

The results of the Mediterranean Diet are obvious. Our skin was soft, hair shiny, moods happy and stable (ok the sun and beach had a little to do with that….um and the local wine), we didn’t gain weight, actually lost a little (and we ate to our hearts content!), woke up every morning at 9am without feeling tired, NOT one digestive problem (no gas, bloating or indigestion), just an overall feeling of contentment.

picisto-20130712130458-734044We ate plenty of fresh fish and seafood. We even bought a little BBQ so we could grill at home.

On the Menu:

Greek Salad, Tzatziki, Grilled Sea Bass, Grilled vegetables, Local Olives and Sheep’s Cheese’s, Grilled Octopus and Calamari, Fava Bean Dip, Local honey with fruit and Greek Yogurt, Local- straight from the Farm Scrambled Eggs with Greek Oregano, Stuffed Baked Tomatoes, Dolmades (rice rolled in vine leaves) and more Feta Cheese then I could count!

picisto-20130713063436-199334Recipes coming up soon! So stay tuned.

Baked Maple Syrup & Cinnamon Apples (minus the Pie) for Dessert

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Hot apples baking away in the oven with cinnamon and maple syrup…mmmm… Why go for the full fat apple pie when you can get all of the flavor with these “skinny” baked apples? Oh and did I mention it takes about 5 min to make?

Ingredients:

2 apples, skin on, organic

pinch of cinnamon

drizzle of 100% pure Maple Syrup

handful of raisins

handful of sliced almonds

1/4 cup of water

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Instructions:

Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius/430 F

Cut the middle out of your apples with a sharp knife, and preserve a little “lid” for the bottom (so the juices stay inside).

Place in an oven proof dish.

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Top with raisins, a pinch of cinnamon, drizzle over the maple syrup (making sure to get some inside the apple) and sprinkle on the almonds.

Add the water to the bottom of the dish, so the apples don’t get stuck to the bottom (and you get more of a sweet syrupy sauce).

Bake for about 15 min, until apples are tender.

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Serve alone or with a little cream (5.5g of fat per 30ml serving) or you can do vanilla frozen yogurt. Homemade, simple and delicious.

Health Benefits of Apples:

“Apple polyphenols (anti-oxidents) are standout nutrients in this widely loved fruit. These polyphenols include flavonols (especially quercetin, but also kaempferol and myricetin), catechins (especially epicatechin), anthocyanins (if the apples are red-skinned), chlorogenic acid, phloridizin, and several dozen more health-supportive polyphenol nutrients. Apple is a good source of fiber, including the soluble fiber pectin, and it’s also a good source of vitamin C. Apple nutrients are disproportionately present in the skin, which is a particularly valuable part of the fruit with respect to its nutrient content.” http://www.whfoods.org

Photo Shoot Lunch- Gluten-Free, Low Fat and Delicious!

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Although you would think a photo shoot would provide healthy, low fat lunches-not only for the models who are supposed to be fit and healthy, with glowing skin and thick lustrous hair, but for anyone in such an appearance based industry….sadly that is not always the case. Rarely ever really.

Well today I have been pleasantly surprised!

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On the lunch menu:

Roasted salmon with dill, asparagus and baby potatoes

Quinoa and feta cheese burgers with sweet potato humus

Watercress and zucchini salad

Steamed broccoli with pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sprouts

Red cabbage horseradish coleslaw

Fresh celery, apple, lemon and ginger juice

Berry frozen yogurt cheesecake with a seed and date crust

Everything is gluten-free and low fat. So delicious. Food that actually makes you feel good about eating. The way it should be! (Yes, I had seconds!)

Will be recreating some of these recipes soon, so stay tuned!

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Working it! 🙂