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Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Delicious Light Lunch

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Mama and Papa Gorgeously Grain-Free came over for lunch the other day. I knew I was going to make the Chorizo Meatballs from Diane Sanfilipo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox, but the vegetable accompaniment was completely dependent on the contents of my veg box which had been delivered that morning. I have to admit I was slightly disappointed when I opened it up to find 2 large heads of chicory and a bag of watercress (amongst other things). Neither are my favourites, however I was suddenly hit by a moment of inspiration to combine the two into a salad with some crunchy toasted pecans and a light and refreshing blue cheese dressing. Sorry all you Paleo people, but you will have to substitute some homemade ‘baconaise’ dressing (which would no doubt be equally as delicious).

Watercress and Chicory Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Toasted Pecans (serves 3)
Ingredients:

2 large heads chicory, quartered lengthways
3-4 cups watercress
Handful of pecans, toasted in the oven, under the grill or in a dry frying pan
For the Dressing:
2 heaped dessert spoonfuls Greek yogurt
Juice of half a lemon
1 cm thick slice blue cheese
Salt and pepper

Whizz all dressing ingredients in a blender.
Arrange watercress as the bottom layer in a serving bowl.
Arrange the chicory quarters on top.
Drizzle dressing on top.
Squeeze the toasted nuts in your hand to break them up and sprinkle over the top.
Grind a little fresh black pepper over the salad and serve.
Easy peasy!

January Blues

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Last night the weather was horrendous! The rain was fairly heavy, but the wind was blowing so hard that the rain was coming down horizontally (therefore blowing into my face as I was teaching bootcamp). Only two hardcore dudes were brave enough to venture out into it! The ground was really squelchy too, after all the snow melting into it. Nice! After that less-than-pleasant experience, I wanted something tasty and fairly quick to take away the January blues when I got home!
This little baby did the job! If you are hardcore Paleo you can omit the mozzarella or replace with some fresh basil leaves.

Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breast (serves1)
Ingredients:

1 organic chicken breast, sliced widthways and butterflied
3 slices organic prosciutto di Parma (aka Parma ham)
3 slices organic buffalo mozzarella
A drizzle of EVOO
sea salt and pepper for seasoning.

Preheat oven to 180C.
Butterfly chicken, open it out and season both sides.
Lay 1 slice of prosciutto on one side of the opened up chicken breast.
If using, layer all slices of the mozzarella on top of the ham.
Close up the chicken breast and wrap remaining ham around it.
Secure chicken breast shut with 2 toothpick.
Drizzle a little EVOO in an ovenproof shallow dish and place chicken in it.
Bake at 180C for 30 mins.
Serve with some steamed green veg tossed in melted butter. Delicious!

An American Classic gone grain-free

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It’s a horrible blustery, rainy day today and the ‘joys of Spring’ I felt yesterday have completely disappeared! Bootcamp tonight is going to be most unpleasant! Wet and muddy!

I may have been born and raised in London, but my mum is actually from Pennsylvania, and my grandmother hailed from Birmingham, Alabama. So I grew up eating a mixture of Pennsylvania Dutch and Southern dishes. One of my favourite comfort foods is meatloaf. It’s a very easy dish to make ‘Paleo-friendly’ and it is delicious and satisfying, especially when served with mashed turnips and cavolo nero or kale (it’s not easy to find collard greens in the UK!)

Meatloaf (serves 6)
Ingredients:

500g pork mince
500g beef mince
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
Bunch of fresh sage leaves, chopped
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
Sea salt
Pepper
1 tsp mustard powder (gluten free)
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 egg, beaten
For the tomato sauce
50 g tomato paste
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp allspice
3 tbsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 180C.
Place meat and all other ingredients (except the ones for the tomato sauce) in a large bowl and mix well using your hands until everything seems evenly dispersed.
Tip mixture onto a baking sheet covered with foil and lightly greased with a little oil or fat of your choice.
Form into a loaf shape with your hands, making sure it is uniform in size and shape so that it cooks evenly.
In a separate small bowl, mix together tomato sauce ingredients.
Completely smother the top of the loaf with the sauce.
Bake in the oven for 1hr 10 mins
Serve with root veg mash and steamed greens.

Spring is in the air

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Well it’s a beautiful morning here in West London, although supposedly it’s going to rain later on. The birds are twittering in the trees, the squirrels are scampering up and down my trellis and my spring bulbs are coming along nicely! It’s starting to feel like Spring may not be too far away (after last week’s “big freeze”). I’m sure I will have spoken too soon though and we will have more snow in February.

I’m a big fan of salads for lunch at any time time of year. Last week’s veg box contained lots of good ingredients for hearty, filling salads, so this is what went into one of my lunches last week.

Rainbow Salad with Tuna (serves 1)
Ingredients:

2 handfuls mixed baby leaves
4 slices raw red cabbage
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 mini orange pepper, sliced (you could substitute with 1/4 of regular orange pepper)
2/3 to 1 whole can tuna steak in spring water, flaked (depends how hungry you are)
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning
For the dressing:
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Create a bed from the mixed baby leaves. Layer on the veggies and then the tuna. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Season to taste.
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the top.
Job done!

Best chocolate ice cream ever!

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I know it was only a couple of days ago that I posted a recipe for vanilla ice cream, but this chocolate one I made the weekend before last was too good not to share with you. It is not Paleo but you could easily substitute the milk and cream for coconut milk to make a strict Paleo version, and I’m sure it would be just as delicious.

Chocolate chocolate chip ice cream (serves 4)
Ingredients:

200ml double cream
200ml whole milk (substitute both milk and cream with full fat coconut milk for a Paleo version)
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
7 medjool dates microwaved in 3 tbsp water
2 heaped dessert spoons cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids), chopped
1/8 tsp salt

Heat the milk and cream (or coconut milk) in a pan, but don’t let it boil.
Blend cooked dates and water into a purée.
Beat egg yolks, add in dates, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder.
Pour hot milk mixture onto eggs, mixing constantly.
Return custard to pan and cook on low heat, stirring all the while until custard starts to thicken. Do not let it boil as it will curdle.
Allow to cool completely then chill in the fridge or an ice bath.
Churn custard and chopped dark chocolate together in ice cream maker until it reaches desired consistency. Transfer to freezable container and freeze until needed.

Quick and easy weeknight meal

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During the week I’m all about quick and easy meals, however I’m not willing to compromise on taste. This roast duck was not only delicious, but very quick and easy. Get the cabbage cooking first if you like your duck still pink inside and your cabbage soft. If you prefer your cabbage to still have a little crunch, get the duck in the oven first. This dish, to me, epitomises winter comfort food. The spices in the cabbage remind me of Christmas!

Roast Duck Breast with Braised Red Cabbage (serves 2)
Ingredients:

For the duck:
2 duck breasts
1 tbsp Chinese 5-Spice powder
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.
Rub half of the 5-spice powder over the bottom of the duck breasts and season with salt. Place in an ovenproof dish.
Make diagonal criss-cross cuts about 2cms apart on the skin. Only go as deep as the meat, don’t actually cut through the meat. This will help to release the fat and helps the skin go crispy. Rub the remaining spice powder over the skin side of the duck breasts, pressing it into the diagonal cuts.
Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven.
Cook for 25-35 minutes, depending on how you like it cooked.

For the cabbage:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
2/3 of a large red cabbage
A generous knob of butter
1/8 tsp allspice
4 juniper berries, roughly chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp water.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.
Then add the cabbage and apple. Stir well to coat with the butter.
Add the spice, juniper, vinegars and water,then season with salt and pepper.
Put the lid on and let the cabbage cook in the steam from the juices over a medium heat. This can be left to simmer on a low heat for up to an hour if you want the cabbage really tender, however make sure it does not boil dry or burn.
Serve with the duck breasts. Don’t you dare not eat the delicious crispy duck skin!

Pie on my mind!

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I had a terrible craving for pie on Sunday! I can definitely tell I’ve been having too many treats recently, as I can normally get over cravings like this. I had intended to make an apple pie, however when I went to the farmers market to buy my apples, the apple-growers weren’t there due to the snow. I was devastated, but determined nonetheless to make my pie, so I trudged on in the snow to my local convenience store where I was able to find canned peaches in juice. Not very seasonal, I know, but I had to have pie! The crust is made from coconut flour, a little coconut sugar, grass-fed butter and egg whites (left over from the vanilla-date ice cream I made earlier, recipe to follow). It would also have been nice made from almond flour, but as I’ve explained before, my boyfriend has a serious nut allergy, so not an option unless I want to deal with a very sick man (I’ve seen the results of him eating almonds and it ain’t pretty!)

Peach Pie (makes 1 pie of 24cm/9.5″ diameter)
Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour
2 tbsp coconut sugar/crystals
1/8 tsp salt
100g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites (you could use 3 whole eggs instead)
1/4 cup cold water
3 cans peaches, drained, juice reserved

Preheat oven to 170C.
Stir the coconut crystals and salt into the flour. Add the melted butter, the eggs, vanilla and then if the mixture is still quite dry, the water. It should form large crumbs which stick together when pressed.
Press 3/4 of the crust mixture into a pie dish. Make sure you go all the way up the sides of the dish. You want the crust to be fairly thin.
Prick the bottom all over with a fork and place in the oven for 10 mins to blind bake.
Remove from oven and fill with the canned peaches. If the peaches have been really well drained, you may wish to pour a little of the reserved juice over, but this can make the crust go soggy.
Fork through the remaining crust mixture to make small crumbs and evenly distribute over the top of the pie as a kind of streusel topping.
Bake in the oven for 40 mins.
Serve warm with vanilla-date ice cream.

Vanilla-date ice cream (makes around 500-600ml)
Ingredients:

12 deglet nour dates
100ml single cream
300ml whole milk
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod
Pinch of sea salt

Pit the dates and place in a saucepan with the milk and cream and vanilla pod. Heat over a low flame until almost boiling.
Remove dates with a slotted spoon and whizz to a purée in a blender or food processor.
Briefly whisk the egg yolks, then mix in the date mixture. Slowly whisk in the hot cream and milk, reserving the vanilla pod.
Wash the saucepan and then transfer the custard back into it.
Cut the vanilla pod open and scrape the seeds into the custard.
Cook on a medium to low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens into a proper custard. DO NOT LET IT BOIL!
Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover and leave to cool completely for a couple of hours.
Once cool, churn in ice cream maker until desired consistency.
Transfer to freezer safe container and freeze until needed.

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Green Power

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After my rude awakening on Monday when I stepped on the scales, I did the unthinkable this morning and weighed myself again (I rarely obsess about weighing myself, but because I was so shocked on Monday, I decided to disprove my scales). Now, I have been good so far this week (ok, I know it’s only Wednesday). No dark chocolate, limiting myself to one or two lattes (homemade with organic milk in a small cup) per day, no treats of any kind, trying to be more conservative with my portions, plus working out pretty hard. So I was feeling quietly confident when I stepped on the scales this morning. I did it! I proved that my scales have a mind of their own and want to give me a reality check every so often as I was down 4lbs since Monday. There is NO WAY in hell that I have actually lost 4lbs in 2 days. My weight is now down half a pound since I weighed myself after Christmas. Half a pound less I can believe, so what the heck was that extra 4 lbs about? Anyway, the moral of the story is NEVER TRUST THE SCALES – how you feel, how you think you look and how your clothes fit is much more important. Having said that, it’s good to weigh yourself from time to time (once or twice a month) to check that you aren’t getting complacent and letting the pounds creep on.

Anyway, I digress. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m very much an “eggs for breakfast” kind of gal. From time to time, I do like a good smoothie though. I really enjoy a smoothie post-workout (mid-morning, having had my eggs a couple of hours before the workout). I made this little green gem on Monday. It was actually my lunch as I needed something quick to prepare and eat before I went to work teaching my lunchtime boxing class followed immediately by a one to one client. I don’t normally put vegetables in my smoothies, but I had a handful of baby spinach left in the fridge which was beginning to look like it had seen better days, so I felt inspired to chuck it in. The result was delightful!

Green Smoothie (serves 1)
Ingredients:

A handful of baby spinach leaves, washed
25g coconut mana/creamed coconut
1/2 frozen banana
1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 ice cubes

Put all the ingredients in a blender.
Whizz and enjoy!

As promised: Rosemary Roast Chicken Legs

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As promised, here is my recipe for Rosemary roast chicken legs. I absolutely love roast chicken legs! I eat them at least once a week. The skin goes so lovely and crispy and the meat is tender and juicy – what’s not to love. Plus every time I cook them, I am reminded of my niece who a year ago referred to them as “slimy chicken with crispy skin” (she was 4 at the time!) which makes me chuckle to myself. When I made them on Saturday night, I cooked them about 15 minutes longer than I usually do and the result was fantastic! The meat was even more succulent and juicy. And there I was worrying they would dry out and go tough as a result of the extra time in the oven! You can make this dish with any herbs you like, even dried herbs work, but the flavour of fresh rosemary is my favourite, plus you get an amazing smell wafting around your kitchen as the rosemary browns – it smells like incense!

Rosemary Roast Chicken Legs (serves 2)
Ingredients:

2 chicken legs, bone in, skin on
1-2 tbsp EVOO
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, sliced
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, cut in half
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.
Pour a little of the EVOO into an earthenware baking dish and spread all over the bottom.
Season the underside of the chicken legs with salt and pepper and place in the dish.
Tuck a piece of rosemary and most of the garlic slices underneath the chicken. Pour the rest of the EVOO over the chicken and massage all over the skin. Season with salt and pepper.
Place a sprig of rosemary and a couple of remaining garlic slices on the top of both chicken pieces.
Place in the oven and roast for an hour.
You can try eating theses with a knife and fork, but I prefer to eat them with my hand, gnawing the meat off the bones cave woman style!

An Italian favourite

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All this snow just makes me want to stay at home in the warm and eat comfort food! Unfortunately it means I have been indulging in more treats than I should. I was slightly alarmed when I stepped on the scales this morning! So I have decided to do Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox starting properly next Monday, but unofficially from tomorrow (I have an important birthday to go to on Saturday night, so not drinking then won’t be an option).

Last Saturday night I was really hankering after something warming and oozing cheese. Sorry any of you who are strict Paleo or lactose intolerant – this one’s not for you! Actually it was more a case of having 2 aubergines in the fridge and some buffalo mozzarella. Melanzana alla Parmigiana seemed like a great way to use up those ingredients. I lived in Italy years ago and while I was there, it became one of my favourite dishes (especially as I was vegetarian at the time). Now that I’ve gone back to my former carnivorous ways, it works for me as a fantastic accompaniment to some sort of simple meat dish. I served it with Rosemary Roast Chicken Legs (recipe to follow another day).

Melanzana alla Parmigiana (aka Eggplant Parmesan): serves 4 as a side dish
Ingredients:

2 aubergines/eggplants, sliced lengthwise
1 onion, finely chopped
Several glugs of EVOO
2 cloves garlic
1 & half cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 ball buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
sea salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.
Heat a glug of EVOO in a frying pan and cook the aubergine slices until tender. You will have to do this in batches, so keep adding oil when necessary. Set aside on a plate and season with a little salt.
Sauté the onion and garlic in a pan with another glug of EVOO and cook for a few minutes until tender.
Add the chopped tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper and allow to cook for around 10 minutes on a low heat.
Put a ladle-full of tomato sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish and spread so it covers the bottom of the dish. Layer the aubergine over the sauce and sprinkle a third of the Parmesan cheese over it. Repeat two to three times until you run out of ingredients, finishing up with Parmesan. Place the sliced mozzarella on top as the very last layer.
Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 45 mins at 180C or until the cheese has turned golden and the whole dish is bubbling nicely.
Serve as a main dish for vegetarians, or as a side dish with a nice piece of meat for carnivorous types!