Recipes

TASTY BRAISED LETTUCE WITH TOFU OR CHICKEN

I was watching a rare bit of television the other day (cooking programmes obviously) and the lovely Tom Kerridge was on cooking his usual decadent, meat, wheat, dairy fuelled creations which I am always frantically scribbling down to try and morph (some might say kill?) into something less meat, wheat and dairy like.   

When he started talking about how rubbish lettuce was and he found it boring my ears pricked up. I also struggle with the humble lettuce. Other than using a little gem lettuce as a wrap instead of a tortilla, I must say I am not a fan and would definitely turn to one of its darker leafed cousins. Tom however decided to braise his in a vat of butter and serve it with a roast duck. Wow. This needed to be pulled apart and turned into a ‘clean’ version.   

I used tofu in mine but some leftover roast chicken would work brilliantly here for a very quick mid-week supper.

 Tasty Braised Lettuce with Tofu 

Tasty Braised Lettuce with Tofu 

Ingredients – serves 1

1 little gem lettuce cut in half

splash of almond milk

1 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed oil

250 ml vegetable or chicken stock

1 clove garlic minced

½ leek or 2 spring onions chopped

1 tbsp rice vinegar

chilli flakes (optional)

salt and black pepper to taste

handful of frozen (and defrosted) garden peas

cooked tofu or chicken - palm sized amount 


Method 

  1. Heat the oil in pan and add garlic, leek or onions and cook until soft but not brown.
  2. Add rice vinegar, peas and chicken/tofu.
  3.  When the peas and protein have taken on the flavour from the caramelising onion   and garlic, add the lettuce cut side down.
  4. Allow to brown then turn over and add enough stock to scrape up all the juices in the pan but not flood the lettuce.
  5. Cook on a high heat to reduce down the liquid then add a splash of almond milk to add a touch of creaminess to the pan.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Plate up and squeeze over some lemon if desired. 

Until next time,
Mandy 

PHO SOUP

Hi all

It’s April, we’ve had our Easter break and now we’re all gearing up for that late spring sun… where is it?? Not sure about you but as much as I am desperate to get excited about zesty salads and fresh cold plates, I am still craving nourishing bowls of hot stuff. I am just back from a very wet, foggy, muddy run this morning and I am already dreaming about my lunch… a big bowl of spicy Pho soup.

Since discovering the ease of this recipe I must be making it at least once a week in a huge batch and saving the broth in the fridge to add whatever veg and protein I have. It is so versatile and my boys love it too. They prefer theirs with egg noodles and chicken or beef and I am definitely a prawn and rice noodle girl with my meat free (still!) wheat free preferences.

Veggies can be anything really but I find a dark green leafy veg like pak choir, bok choi, kale, cavelo nero is a great contrast to the spicy broth and coupled with the protein, you really feel like you’re putting some good into your body. This is also perfect to prep in advance and take to work, just tumble out the dry ingredients into a bowl, warm up the broth and pour over.

Ingredients
serves 1 (double/triple/quadruple as required)

·         Palm sized amount of protein of choice: chicken, prawn, tofu, as examples

·         Handful of dark leafy veg of choice

·         1 serving of rice noodles soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained

·         3-4 spring onions

·         ½ red onion sliced

·         Other veg of choice, beansprouts and mushrooms work well

·         1/2 litre of vegetable or chicken stock (this will make extra broth that you can keep)

·         2 chopped chillies (or less if preferred!)

·         1 clove garlic minced

·         Thumb sized ginger grated

·         1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)

·         Splash soy sauce

·         Handful coriander leaves torn

·         ½ lime cut into wedges

·         Tbsp coconut oil
 

Method

  1. Add red onions, and garlic to melted hot coconut oil in a large saucepan and quickly fry off until charring slightly, add ginger, chilli and protein of choice – and either brown off if chicken or flash fry if tofu/fish/prawns.
     
  2. Add the stock and all other ingredients apart from noodles, lime and coriander and cover.
     
  3. Simmer on a low heat for approximately 20 minutes (check protein is cooked through.)
     
  4. In a bowl assemble pho with noodles at the bottom, spoon on greens and protein and then pour over broth. 
     
  5. Garnish with coriander and a wedge of lime
     
  6. Enjoy!

Until next time,
Mandy

 

 

 

 

CAULIFLOWER CRUST

I'm into the final week of my 21 Day Detox and loving all the inspiration from my fellow MCLers on their clean meal ideas. I love how the group bounces off each other with encouragement and support when we need a boost as well as celebratory whoops as appropriate! The brand new Low Impact 21 Day Detox is coming up on Monday, be sure to check it out and join up if you need some motivation to get out of those bad habits we've all fallen into over Christmas! 

The plan coupled with my Pescetarian January month means I am downing veggies by the bucketload. I'm packing them in as main courses rather than just sides (made some fab veggie fritters this morning) and also as a carb substitute. 

My new best friend is the humble cauliflower. You can rice it and have it plain or warmed up with some added spice or seasoning for a perfect carb-free side to chilli or curry or you can create a crust which can be used as a base for pizza, veggie tarts or as I did recently for a MCL meeting, as a substitute naan bread. It really did the trick! 

Most recipes just use cauliflower but I find by adding some ground almonds to the mixture it's  easier to work with, holds beautifully when cool and creates a much softer lighter 'bread'. I served mine drizzled with hot coconut oil which had been flavoured with garlic and coriander to create a garlic naan bread of sorts. I've also smothered with passata and basil and topped with garlic prawns for an amazing mini pizza. I actually prefer the taste and texture to pizza dough and there is no bloated heavy feeling afterwards. 

Here is the basic recipe for the crust, use it in whatever way you like - use your imagination! Oh and get a candle ready for when you've finished... microwaved cauliflower stinks the house out!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower pulsed to a 'rice' in food processor 
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g ground almonds 
  • salt and pepper to season
  • any other seasoning of your choice, the following work well: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, mixed dried herbs

Method

  1. Microwave the riced cauliflower for approx. 4 minutes (until the kitchen pongs of cauliflower!)
     
  2. Spread out on a tea towel and allow to cool slightly. 
     
  3. Use tea towel to squeeze out as much moisture from the cauliflower as possible. I use a 'nut bag' from Amazon which I use for making oat or nut milk but a tea towel works fine. This is a very important step as the more moisture you can remove, the firmer the crust. 

4. Add the beaten egg and seasoning of choice and mix well. 

5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and grease liberally with coconut oil.

6. Make one large crust or several small ones by placing a mound of cauliflower onto the tray and shaping into a crust with the back of a spoon or your hands (hands work best), keep the mixture as compact as possible and about the thickness of a pound coin. 

7. Put tray (split between 2 if easier) into a preheated oven (200°C/180°C fan) and bake for 15-18 minutes. 

8. Allow to cool before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool underneath. 

9. This is the fun bit! Decide what you're going to use your crusts for, top and return to the oven, or use as an accompanying bread for a curry.

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Let me know what you decide to do with yours! 

Until next time, 
Mandy xx


 

CREAMY SPINACH STUFFED MUSHROOMS

I've got in touch with The Real Junk Food Project this week to see how I can help out with their amazing business venture where they intercept food from supermarkets and restaurants which would otherwise be thrown out despite being in perfectly good nick, and turning into delicious healthy meals. Their Pay as you Feel policy means everyone is able to enjoy a freshly cooked meal, rich or poor and take part in the fabulous community spirit which seems to exist at the cafe both with the volunteers and the customers.

I took inspiration from this ethos when looking in my fridge and seeing some sad looking spinach and some mushrooms which had seen better days. I didn't want to throw them out and wanted a veggie day so came up with these mushrooms. They're very basic but oh so tasty and could easily be a very satisfying main if you used large Portobello mushrooms (I had smaller portabellas in my fridge… I just ate more of them!) The smaller ones would also make a good starter. I put a slither of goat’s cheese on one to see what difference it would make. It added a lovely creamy dimension but for a clean meal, they taste just as good without.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack portabellas or 4 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 kg spinach, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • splash of almond milk
  • handful of parsley chopped
  • 1 tbsp oats whizzed in processor
  • 1 tbsp nuts chopped in processor
mushrooms.jpg

METHOD

  1. Melt coconut oil in pan.
  2. Add garlic and leek and fry until soft.
  3. Add spinach and almond milk and wilt.
  4. Add lemon juice and mustard powder and season to taste.
  5. Take spinach mixture off heat.
  6. Spoon spinach mixture into mushrooms placed on baking sheet (mine are on a very used pizza stone, excuse the state of it!) 
  7. Sprinkle over mixed oats and nuts and season.
  8. Place in oven at 200°C for approx. 10 minutes.  
  9. Plate up mushrooms on a bed of leaves, peppery rocket works well against the creaminess of the mushrooms.
sauteed.jpg

Add another splash of almond milk to the pan in which you made the spinach mixture, add a squeeze of lemon and scrape up the garlicky leftovers. Use this as a dressing on plated mushrooms. 

Until next time,
Mandy xx

GRAIN-FREE BUTTERBEAN BREAD

Soup season is upon us. A great way to smoosh up all those nearly off veg in the salad drawer, throw in some stock and herbs and create several healthy clean meals without much effort at all. Although not sure about you, but as much as I love a big bowl of steaming soup, whether it be a soothing chicken broth, a fresh pea or a spicy pumpkin soup, more often than not, the thing I love most is dipping a big hunk of bread into that bowl of goodness. Easier said than done when you’re trying to eat clean and stay away from too much gluten. Well, I think I have the answer here...

This butterbean bread is so versatile and you can try unlimited sweet and savory versions. In fact, the base of this bread is my bakewell tart recipe in the ‘MCL Everyday’ eBook which shows you how adaptable this recipe is. I added rosemary and garlic to my bread… see what you can come up with!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tin butterbeans (or cannellini beans or other white beans of your choice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g coconut oil melted
  • Tweaks of your choice: mine were a few sprigs of rosemary with a clove of garlic

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C
  2. Whizz all ingredients in a food processor
  3. Turn into a lined tin loaf and smooth top
  4. Place in oven for 50 minutes
  5. Check centre - knife/skewer should come out clean, if not, turn heat down to 160° to prevent top burning (or cover loosely with parchment paper) and check every 10 minutes until cooked through
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack before removing from tin
  7. Slice as required

This bread keeps well for several days. Slice as required and toast in the toaster or under the grill as needed and spread with toppings of your choice.

Enjoy!
Until next time,
Mandy