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Asian Baked Salmon Wrapped in Pandan Leaf with Roasted Chilli Broccoli

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I’m feeling so exhausted today. Those of you who don’t know me personally probably don’t know that before I became a personal trainer, I used to be a professional belly dancer. Yes, you read that right! To cut a long story short, I had a dancing job last night in a casino for an Arabic event. I was supposed to dance at 11.45 (yes, pm!) but I ended up going onstage at 12.15 and finishing at 12.45! There was a time when I would have thought “great, an early finish” as I often used to finish at 3 or 4am! Nowadays I generally follow my bodies circadian rhythms not go completely against them. Therefore I am really suffering today, despite having had 8 hrs of sleep! I haven’t even had the energy to workout today. It has really driven home to me that I could never go back to that nocturnal, sleep deprived lifestyle! Once in a while is fine though.

This was a pretty simple and quick dish, and if you don’t have any pandan leaves to hand (let’s face it, unless you live in Southeast Asia, it’s pretty unlikely), you can just bake the salmon uncovered.

Asian Baked Salmon Wrapped in Pandan Leaf with Roasted Chilli Broccoli (serves 2)
Ingredients:

For the salmon:
1 shallot
1 1/2″ piece ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 red chilli, deseeded
1/2 tsp palm sugar
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp water
1 tbsp coconut aminos
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 salmon fillets
2 pandan leaves

For the broccoli:
1 head broccoli cut into florets
1 red chilli, sliced
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Himalayan salt

Put all the ingredients for the salmon except the salmon fillets and pandan leaves in a food processor and blitz until it forms a smooth but slightly runny paste.
Pour the paste into a ziplock bag, add the salmon and leave to marinate for an hour or more.
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Wrap each salmon fillet in a pandan leaf and secure with a toothpick. Place in an ovenproof dish.
Put the broccoli florets into an ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle over the chilli, salt and sesame oil.
Place both dishes into the oven and bake for around 20 mins.
Remove the pandan leaves before devouring the salmon (they aren’t edible, just for flavour)

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Banana Rum Cupcakes with Primal Cinnamon Frosting

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I am still exhausted after the mammoth undertaking that was catering an entirely Primal/Paleo party. It was a roaring success and everyone enjoyed the food. A lot of people didn’t even realise that everything was grain-free! All my guests ate (delicious homemade food), drank and made merry. My boyfriend’s excellent cocktails went down a storm too!

As I have mentioned before, said boyfriend is deathly allergic to nuts which means Paleo/Primal baking can be quite limited if I don’t want to kill him! As I had already made quite a few coconut based cakes, I decided to try using sunflower seeds as the base for one batch of cupcakes. The result was a fairly light and slightly nutty flavoured delicious cake. The rum adds a little something without being overpowering. If you don’t do dairy, I’m afraid the frosting isn’t for you, but the cakes are quite delectable without it!

Banana Rum Cupcakes with Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting (makes 15 cupcakes)
Ingredients:

2 cups sunflower seeds, ground to fine powder in a food processor
4 ripe bananas
1/2 cup Sailor Jerry or other spiced rum
60g butter, melted
4 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 170C. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Blitz the bananas with the rum in a blender or food processor. Avoid the urge to just drink it!
Mix all the wet ingredients into the dry to form a batter.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill the baking cups 3/4 full as these cupcakes will rise a little.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting (makes enough to generously frost 15 cupcakes)
Ingredients:

150g butter at room temperature
100g cream cheese
100g mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
The mixture has a tendency to curdle, so keep processing until it comes together. I started off making this with a hand held whisk, but it curdled and would not smooth out until I blitzed it in the food processor. Don’t be a hero, just use a processor straight off!
Once you are happy with the consistency, plus your cupcakes are completely cooled, spoon the frosting into a piping bag and frost away!
Now stuff your face!

Individual Banoffee Pies

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This was my ‘cheat day’ sweet treat. It was even better than I thought it would be (although maybe part of that was the anticipation as I made it the day before). I constructed each one in an individual ramekin, so that there would be no leftovers to tempt me after my cheat day was over. You could easily increase the ingredients and make an entire pie if you are catering for more than 4 people. For those of you who don’t do dairy, place a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Remove the solids and save the liquid for another use. Beat the coconut solids with a whisk or hand mixer until light and fluffy. Use this whip instead of whipped cream.

Individual Banoffee Pies (serves 4)
Ingredients:

For the base:
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
2 tsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coconut flour
40g butter, melted

1 1/2 cups caramel sauce (recipe to follow)
227ml whipping cream
2 bananas, sliced
1 square dark chocolate to grate over the top

Preheat oven to 170C.
Place all dry ingredients in a food processor and blitz until dry crumbs form.
Pour in the melted butter and blitz again to incorporate.
Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins and press down firmly into bottom and slightly up the sides.
Place in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool completely.
Divide the caramel sauce evenly between the ramekins.
Place sliced bananas on top of the caramel sauce.
Finally, smooth whipped cream over the top and grate a little dark chocolate to garnish.

Caramel sauce (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
12 medjool dates, pitted and torn in half
Boiling water
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put dates in a saucepan.
Just cover with boiling water.
Bring up to the boil and allow to cook on high heat, stirring occasionally until the water has evaporated and the dates are mushy.
Turn off the heat and add the coconut milk to the hot dates and allow to melt.
Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.
Allow to cool completely.
Any leftovers can be frozen for another recipe.

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!

Sunday morning banana bread

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I get my organic fruit and veg delivered weekly. This week in my fruit box, were about 10 bananas. I’m not a massive banana consumer, so they were starting to get very ripe before I could eat them all. I decided to make a little treat which, as usual, I will make my boyfriend take to work with him tomorrow, so that it’s no longer a temptation for me! It is nut-free as my boyfriend has a serious nut allergy, but I added some seeds for crunch and a nutty flavour. You could easily substitute walnuts or pecans for the seeds, and even almond meal instead of the coconut flour.

This recipe is very simple and easy to assemble – about 10 or 15 mins to make the batter.

Ingredients (makes 1 small loaf):

4 bananas, mashed
4 pitted dates
4 eggs
2 tbsp coconut milk
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Put the dates in a bowl with 3 tbsp water and microwave for a couple of minutes until soft. Mash and mix in the coconut milk.
Add the eggs one at a time into the mashed banana. Mix in the date mixture, coconut flour, and then all remaining ingredients.
Spoon batter into a greased, lined loaf tin and bake for 45 mins at 180C.
Can be eaten still warm, or allowed to cool completely before serving (if you can wait that long!)