Tag Archives: healthy

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

 

 

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

Creamy Banana Mango Breakfast Smoothie- Dairy & Soy Free!

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Smoothies are a great breakfast option for days when you don’t have time to cook, or want your breakfast to go or in a hurry.
I try to keep my blender in plain sight in my kitchen so I am reminded to use it in the morning to make nutrient packed smoothies (just a tip!).

I love creaminess in my smoothies, not a big fan of just pure fruit and ice. But I don’t want to use milk or soy, so instead I use coconut milk. It’s not the coconut milk from a can used in Thai cooking, but rather it comes in a milk carton and is low in fat and tastes refreshing. I personally like this brand, available in select grocery stores.

http://www.kokodairyfree.com/

This recipe is super simple, and I like the fact that there are no berries involved, unlike most smoothies.

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Ingredients:

1 banana
1/2 cup of frozen mangoes (now you don’t need any ice)
1 tbsp of honey
1 cup of coconut milk

Instructions:

Everything into a blender and blend until smooth(ie). That was easy! 🙂

From the KoKo Dairy Free website:

Unique, great tasting, dairy free alternatives to milk

+ Made from freshly pressed coconut milk.
+ Naturally free of lactose, cow’s milk protein, soya and gluten.
+ Ideal for anyone with lactose, cow’s milk protein, soya or gluten intolerance.
+ Suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and coeliacs.
+ Cholesterol free and with calcium and fat levels matched to semi-skimmed milk. A naturally healthy
option for all to enjoy.
+ Palatable and versatile to use as drinks and in cooking.

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Quick & Easy Lunchtime Hand Rolls with Sesame Tomato & Cucumber Salad

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I love hand rolls! What’s so great about them is they are actually a perfect snack or lunch time treat if you are bored with sandwiches but don’t want to splurge on Sushi. They are super easy to make at home with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Key ingredient of course: Nori (seaweed). But what you put inside is totally up to you and your imagination. I had a can of tuna and mayonnaise in the fridge. You could also add veggies to it, like your standard avocado or cucumber, but I decided to save mine for a salad on the side.

This literally took about 20 min to make, but if you happen to have leftover rice in the fridge you could be eating in about 5 minutes.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Sushi Rice, Brown rice or I used a mixture that I like which has Wild Rice and Lentils, rinse well, until water runs clear

1 1/2 cup water

1 can tuna fish

4 Nori wraps (make sure to have more handy, it takes a few tries to get them rolled just right without the insides dropping onto the floor!)

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp spicy red pepper Dijon mustard (you could use any type of hot sauce for this)

2 tsp Amino Acids (one for the spicy tuna and one for the salad dressing)

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 small tomato, diced

1/3 cucumber, skin on, diced (about 1/2 cup)

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp of tamari sauce

Instructions:

Boil the rice, with the lid on. About 15 min. If you have time to let it cool great, otherwise pop it in the freezer to cool down.

Drain the tuna, add the mayo, spicy Dijon mustard, 1 tsp rice vinegar, sesame seeds and 1 tsp of the amino acids in a bowl and mix together.

In a separate bowl add the sesame oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp amino acids, s&p,  mix together and add in the tomatoes and cucumber. Toss well.

The assembly!

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Now this part looks easier than it is. I went through a couple of these before I got it right. The key is you want to make a cone so when you pick it up, the rice doesn’t fall out if the bottom. So tear the square seaweed sheet in half and place a bit of the rice and tuna mixture on the left side, roll the left corner inwards, and as you roll bring it on an angle towards you to make a cone shape. No matter what shape you come up with- it’s still edible!

One thing to keep in mind is the seaweed will go soft the longer it sits, so try to prepare and eat right away. I also found that instead of dipping the hand-roll into the tamari sauce, you could also drizzle a little on before you roll it up. Lessening your chances of any more spillage! 🙂

Tamari vs Soy Sauce:

Both are made of fermented soy beans. However Soy Sauce actually contains wheat and gluten, where as Tamari is Gluten and wheat free. I find that taste very similar but to me, tamari tastes less salty yet richer. I only use Tamari now.

Nutrition for Nori Seaweed:

Nori has about a third protein and a third dietary fiber, and contains high proportions of iodine, vitamins AB, and K, and iron. (Wikipedia)