New blogger Mandy Panesar cooks up Chicken Saag

Super excited to be writing my first blog for the MC&L team. I'm just nearing the end of my 10 day Beach Ready plan and I'm feeling fabulous, clean, lean and positive so there couldn't be a better time to get this out!

For those of you who have done a MC&L plan (and those who haven't, why ever not?!) you'll know that you're encouraged to add pics of the meals you make to share ideas and build a bond with fellow MC&Lers through encouragement and support that you're all living and breathing clean eating.

I have loved this element of the plan as I've picked up some fab tips (quinoa flapjack from a group member, yum!) but also found that the dishes that sparked the most interest from my dinner table were those inspired from my mum & dad's Punjabi kitchen.

Growing up, it was all about hearty lentil soups, fabulously fresh dry veg curries like aubergine, okra, marrow or spinach along with what seemed like decadent meat curries: rich lamb, creamy prawns, and aromatic chicken dishes.

When I embarked on MC&L I realised that pretty much everything I was fed  as a child and taught in the kitchen (from the age of 10!) naturally followed a clean approach to cooking. Nothing processed, relying on fresh produce, dried spices and amazing ginger, chilli and garlic combos in practically everything. So provided you always had a supply of store cupboard essentials, you could pretty much whizz up a cheap nutritious meal with almost anything left in the kitchen even a couple of eggs!

My kitchen feeds me, my husband, 2 growing hungry boys (4 and 10) and this is done whilst holding down a full time demanding job, regular running (I'm training for a marathon) and walking our very energetic boxer Missy.

This is my second MC&L plan and I love it as it fits my manic lifestyle brilliantly and helps me get back on track after a few too many chips nicked off the kids' plates,  mid week 'I need it cause I'm stressed' vinos and my insatiable sweet tooth. The exercises are short bursts which you can fit in anywhere (in the kitchen whilst the sweet potato is in the oven!) and the food is fresh, healthy and family friendly so I'm not eating 'diet food' whilst everyone else tucks into 'real food'. I really think my recipes will tick all those boxes and I hope you all agree!

Pretty much all the ingredients I use can be found in any supermarket. The recipes may look like a ton of spices and a lot of bother to gather but getting these store cupboard essentials in will give you dozens of great fresh tasting curries and Indian inspired dishes so worth every penny! 

To start with, today I made a spinach and chicken dish which went down a treat with the MC&L Beach Ready group who asked me to share the recipe. Here it is for you too, enjoy!! 

Chicken Saag - serves 4 

500g - 1kg spinach chopped 
4 chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks
I tablespoon coconut oil 
1 large onion finely chopped 
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic minced 
1 thumb of ginger grated or finely chopped 
1-2 chillies (or more) de seeded or seeds left in according to taste
2 large fresh tomatoes or 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes or 1/4 carton of passata
1 tsp coriander seeds crushed 
1 tsp cumin seeds crushed 
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric 
Sea salt to taste 
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek
Squeeze of lemon 
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Coriander stalks from garnish finely chopped 

  1. Heat coconut oil in large pan or wok, add cumin and coriander seeds and heat until they pop. 
  2. Add garlic and onion and fry until translucent. Add dried fenugreek and keep stirring onion mix on medium heat until onion turns golden. 
  3. Add chopped spinach and stir in until spinach begins to wilt. Add turmeric, garam masala, tomatoes, coriander stalks and season with salt and squeeze in some lemon juice. 
  4. When mixture is a scrummy smelling paste and you can't stop yourself tasting and re-tasting to check flavour (!) add chicken, mix well and cover with lid on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes  (or stir frequently if no lid) until chicken cooked though. 
  5. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Brown rice adds starchy carbs, or on a non starchy carb meal, replace with quinoa flavoured with lemon, mint and coriander.

Until next time, 
Mandy x