Evie's Tips

Evie's Storecupboard Challenge Part 1

Hi health lovers

I hope you're all doing well and enjoying the run up to Christmas. I don’t mean to boast but I've done all my Christmas shopping - whop whoop, but that unfortunately includes buying and tucking in, well actually not tucking in more like demolishing the massive Celebrations and Roses tins (it was 2 for £10 and I love a bargain!) So no more will be bought, I'm still working on the willpower you see if I start eating the sugar laden little blocks of sweetness I usually finish them, Sugar is a drug and it makes us want more. When was the last time you saw a half-eaten packet of biscuits?

Anyway this week I'm delighted to share with you part one of THE STORECUPBOARD CHALLENGE. If you missed it on a past blog then one of you guys got in touch with me to say that you love how I'm always recommending stuff, spices, dried herbs, flavoured oils, rices, quinoa etc to have in the kitchen because with these staples you can create wonderful dishes by adding them to fresh produce, but the challenge was could I make an entire meal just using my store cupboard. Well yes I can, as can you if you've started to invest in your store cupboard. I added the freezer, but not fridge, to the challenge and for part 1 I have come up with a delicious quinoa and bean salad. It has all the elements of a dish that I love to create, it’s not exact with the measurements so I only give you a guide, and if you don’t have what I'm putting in in then you just put what you have into your Quinoa salad. This not only is a delicious stand-alone dish you can have it with a bit of chicken and leaves in a salad, or add it as a side or starter to almost anything. Plus it travels really well, so those looking for packed lunch ideas look no further! 

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The Tuesday tip is not and has never been a recipe, it is tips on how to make you a more confident cook and better able to use the things you have in your home, as well as educating us as to how certain foods work with our bodies. I've given you lots of tips on how to cook specific items, what goes with what and the very basics of cooking including the most basic omelettes and boiled eggs which you seem to love (thanks for all the feedback guys! xx) As we come to the end of the year I hope that you will have gained the knowledge and confidence to start to pull this together yourself using the clean foods you have bought. So, on with the dish!

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From the cupboard we have: 

  • 1 x espresso cup of wholegrain rice 
  • 2-3 handfuls of quinoa 
  • 1 x tin of organic mixed beans 
  • Organic olive oil - flavoured 
  • Dried mixed herbs / oregano 
  • Chia seeds 
  • Mixed seeds 
  • Organic unsweetened raisins 


From the freezer: 

  • Soy beans - my new fav item 
  • Green beans 
  • Parsley 
  • Basil
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So I've just mentioned soy beans, well ladies and gents I totally love these - they’re also called edemame beans and I used to buy them fresh in the health food store for £4 for a tub until I met the lovely Geraldine Mc Cullagh at a massage course I attended. She was the tutor (Me Time Therapy I can’t recommend them enough, for those MC&L Edinburgh readers, you might want to check it out for courses and treatments, it’s right up our holistic health street!) Geraldine fed us her delicious home cooked food with the soy beans in one of the soups and then told me Tesco do them for £1.60 a bag! Hello £1.60 v's £4 I'm down with Tesco. Now as you know I love to buy local, but sometimes the saving has just got to come first and these little babies are jam packed with 40% protein and they contain all eight essential amino acids. That is why we see them in superfood salads at M&S, Pret and various other outlets. Guys you have got to get these in your freezer. They are now firmly on the list of MC&L recommended foods!!!

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  1. Start the dish by running your quinoa and rice under the tap then placing them in a pot of boiling water, you can add a pinch of salt if you want, and cook according to the packet, for me it’s about 20-25 mins. My rice and quinoa take about the same time so that was good to put them in together. You'll know from previous blogs quinoa is ready when the little white circle around the end starts to come away and looks like a tail hanging off.
  2. Just before it was finished cooking I added the chopped green beans and then a few mins later the soy beans just to take the freezer out of them.
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl add some organic garlic olive oil, lemon oil, and a big pinch each of mixed herbs and oregano.If you missed the blog on how to create your own flavoured oils then check it out here: http://missioncleanlean.com/blog/2013/11/20/homemade-flavoured-infused-oils
  4. I really recommend having them in your cupboard. Lemon oil is great over green veg especially if you grate a bit of lemon zest and add black pepper too yum!  If you don’t have flavoured oils yet then normal olive oil will do, as long as you add a few herbs too.
  5. Then when the quinoa and rice has cooled just add everything together: the tinned beans, seeds, raisins, the frozen herbs and dressing. You can literally add this up as you go along; add any veg, seeds, nuts, dried unsweetened fruit, really anything you have in. You notice raisins aren't in the photo but after it was cooked I thought a little sweetness would be nice. Then there it is, a simple to make dish using what you have in. Mission accomplished!
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I actually did cheat before I ate it as I'd a big bunch of fresh parsley; I finely chopped that and sprinkled it through the dish. It just made it that bit fresher for me.  I didn’t cheat though I still made a meal using only my store cupboard! As always if you want to see a particular food item featured just let us know.

Love  & light 
Evie
xxx

'Mission Clean & Lean' your Christmas list

As I've written in my blog before, we are all on the road to MC&L nirvana, and we are all at different stages of that life journey. MC&L is a way of life; we're not just a 21 day detox plan (although what a plan that is!) Some of us have mastered getting the exercises in every day, some of us haven't done any exercise for a month, some of us know what foods are clean, others need to look almost everything up, sometimes we may lead the pack running on the road for months on end and others are to be found under a pile of crisp packets, biscuit crumbs and empty wine bottles having lost our way, but one thing we all agree with is that the love and support from all our lovely members has helped us along (I'm actually getting a bit emosh writing this).

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So something else that might help you on your way is to have more MC&L friendly things around you. Let me explain. There are loads of things I know are 'clean' in the kitchen but I don’t have them, so I've put them on my Christmas list, I love to cook so I actually will get excited if Santa brings me coconut flour but I understand I'm a bit of a special case there (I did once get a griddle pan from an ex's mum for Christmas and my mates were like I can’t believe she bought you a pan and a cook book but I loved it!)  MANUKA HONEY is about £13 a jar so it is a luxury when Sainsbury's basics honey is £1. So when you get told, I'm not buying you honey for Christmas, you can say yes but this is not just any honey this is the cleanest of all the honey and I need it in my life! So let someone buy you this clean, sweet delicious honey that is a luxury but essential for the clean kitchen. AGAVE NECTAR is another thing I've put on my list, it’s a natural sweetener and next year I want to start blogging snacks and treats so I've got that on there - it’s a sugar substitute - HELLO!

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The Beach Ready plan this summer taught us about the benefits of body brushing (improving circulation and reducing cellulite) so pop  A BODY BRUSH on your list too.  Mine is from the Body Shop but I'm sure you can get them from lots of places. Beach Ready also taught us that bathing in EPSON SALTS removes toxins from your body. They are £3.50 for 1 bath full or £10 for 3 baths from my health food shop so again a bit of a luxury and I've got them on my Christmas list. DEAD SEA SALTS are another good thing to have in your bath.  

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So we've all worked hard at removing toxins from inside our body, so why then are some of us putting cream bought in the £1 shop on our bodies? Easy tip on this is for things that touch your skin the most, like shower gel, body cream, face cream etc buy organic where you can, other things eye shadow, shampoo etc do not touch your skin quite so much so you won’t be taking in toxins via your skin. I love Liz Earle skin care products; they are all responsibly sourced and have no nasties in so I've got that on my list as well as just ORGANIC BODY OIL. I've also said anything from NEIL'S YARD their products are all full of goodness. ORGANIC LAVENDER OIL is a great way of relaxing, pop a few drops on your wrists and temples and relax, I often use a few drops on my pillow at night to send me off into the land of nod.

CANDLES are another lovely item to get as a gift. When cheap candles made with manmade chemicals are burnt they send chemicals round your room, so rather than breathing those in, why not get some good quality candles on your list. Body Shop does soy candles for just £10 which are natural and delicious.

Most things you can get on Amazon so look something up and create yourself a wish list. If you're not familiar with Amazon wish list it’s a service where you log what you want other people to get you, then people just look your name and location up and they can see it. I do sometimes use Amazon but I hate the way they are dominating the global market I'd much rather buy local,  but it is great for putting exactly what you want out into the ether, so people who have no idea what to get you can get you something. This year on my Amazon list I have a professional SPATULA, I used one when I was at Michelin cook school and loved it, it’s so much better than a wooden spoon, it’s like £6 and I NEED it. I've got a few NUTRITION BOOKS on there too along with a new PROTEIN SHAKER.

Courgette pasta has been loved by our MC&L community so get a JULIENNE PEELER on your list too so you can make it. I'm going to start to do some Asian and raw food salads next year so you'll need one. They start at about £3 on line - perfect stocking filler. You might have rubbish KITCHEN KNIVES, so get some new ones so it’s not a chore to cut veg. I just have IKEA ones and they're really good.  

My absolute favourite thing in my kitchen is my wok/come-big-pan thing (or to give it its proper name Executive Stir-Fry Skillet) my sister bought for me, it was expensive but boy do I love it and use it all the time. Here is the link to it: http://www.pamperedchef.co.uk/ordering/prod_details.tpc?prodId=18670&catId=8&parentCatId=8&outletSubCat=   it’s just brilliant and you'll have no doubt seen it in many of my blog photos.  I will have it for years so even though it was £108 if I was to cost it out in pence per use over the 20 or so years I hope to have it, it will work out extremely worthwhile. I love cooking up a big chilli or fajitas and just serving it from the pan at the table. Because it has a lid and is made of good quality stuff, the food stays hot in it for ages. My other favourite kitchen helper is my CAST IRON GRIDDLE, guys get one, it will last forever and you've seen how amazing my tuna and beef steaks look with the griddle lines on. Just get one you won’t regret it. I also have Pampered Chef KITCHEN SCISSORS which are fab, I use them to cut meat and trim veggies. A zester or FINE GRATER is another thing we use in clean cooking a lot, for ginger, lemon, lime or orange zest, fresh nutmeg etc… it’s worth getting one. 

If you’re in need of some recipe inspiration to use all your new kitchen kit on, do check out our eBook ‘21 DAY DETOX: THE RECIPES’. We wrote it to accompany our 21 Day Detox plan but it will become a kitchen essential, it contains over 100 recipes, snacks and drink ideas, all sugar, wheat, gluten and dairy free.  It’s full of vibrant dishes made with fresh colourful ingredients including curries, fajitas, stir fries, courgetti and salads, wholesome soups and nutritious green tonics and smoothies. We teach you what snacks and drinks are best to keep energy levels up and cravings down and even have a chapter on mocktails, you know we love a little sparkle! It’s just £12.99 and an instant download to your PC, iPad or Kindle Fire. Just click here 

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And yes I do write a Christmas list, I don’t want to have stuff I just pretend to use, I really try not to lie and in fact I hardly ever do, my friends who read my blog will vouch for that (yep I've actually said 'I'm not going tonight cos I'm so tired and I just can’t be ar5ed', I'm sorry I'm no company as opposed to ahhhggg crap I've had to work late. Although if I'd made a commitment and it was important my conscience would kick in and force me to go). So be direct guys, aim for what you want in life and go get it. A clean, lean, strong body is so within your reach it’s you that is making it happen, we here at MC&L HQ just give you the tools and support to do it! So this week’s homework guys, sit down and think about what you want to help you be healthier, NEW TRAINERS, GYM CLOTHES, iPOD, KETTLE BELL SET, YOGA MAT as well as kitchen and beauty products will help you get to MC&L nirvana far quicker than a Terry's Chocolate Orange. 

I'm so excited about the build up to Christmas.  I'm desperately trying to stay clean so I can really indulge on the day but I will be having loads of clean veggies to fill up on!

Jingle bells and ho ho ho! 
Evie 
xxx

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Tuesday Tip: Make the most of your leftovers

Hey MC&L crew 

I hope you're all good today. I'm on top of the world at the moment, I'm on the Bootcamp week and I must admit while my butt is screaming at me almost every time I move, I'm feeling a-ok. I'm so happy cos I let it slip badly and put 12 lb on - 12 ruddy pounds! (That’s almost 1/2 of the total weight I've lost.) But I'm not moaning about it, no siree I'm back in the game and its grrrrreat. It just takes you to make the decision to crack on and get back to it. It’s only day 3 and I feel slimmer already!!! I'm in the group with a few guys I've been in groups with before and the banter and support is great. So if like me you let it slip, GIRLFRRRRIEND GET A NOTE OUT ON THE MC&L FB GROUP AND GET SOMEONE TO JOIN YOU GET BACK TO IT UHHH HUHHH!! I said 'girlfriend' as in my head I was actually speaking with a New York City Bronx accent there. I of course mean the boys too! We're loving all the men joining in on the Bootcamps and of course the weight they're shifting and muscle mass their gaining - GO BOYZ! (Notice the 'Z' I'm still street, even though I'm wearing an Austin Read suit and typing  from my office in the Corporate Real Estate department of a Bank!!!)

Anyway I've just pulled this little beauty out of my photo archive (my phone is full of photos of food) because we got a 'Help I can’t do packed lunches' from one of our new members who thinks lunch is a sandwich, crisps, maybe a Twix and a can of diet coke. We all remember that right! But fear not new member, below is a cracker of a lunch and the best bit is I made it with leftovers and store cupboard ingredients. You know I will never shut up about the store cupboard; it’s what makes a good cook great and Tuesday tips are to make us all GREAT in our kitchens!

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The packed lunch is a couscous salad bursting with flavour and health! As with most of my dishes you can substitute almost anything for what you have in, so don’t be scared with the huge list of ingredients I have. When I my first joined MC&L group I was so excited that I went ye-ha in Real Foods and bought a loads of seeds, nuts, dried grains and so on. I'm sure some of you have done the same so write in and let me know what you want to use more and we here at MC&L HQ will come up with some tasty dishes. God I can’t shut up today, I'll get listing!

I used:

  • about 50/60g of couscous
  • 2 broccoli florets (left over)
  • Roasted butternut squash (left over)
  • Mixed leaves
  • Organic sundried tomatoes in olive oil (drained)
  • Mini pimento peppers (jar)
  • Dried sage
  • Chai seeds
  • 1 spring onion chopped
  • Pumpkin seeds

Cook the couscous according to the packet, for me I poured one cup of boiling water with some veg stock granules and a big pinch of sage in it, over 1 cup couscous that was sitting in a Pyrex dish. I then covered it to let the couscous to swell for 5 minutes. After I then used a fork to fluff it, and left it to cool. Then before I went to bed when the couscous was cold, I added the butternut squash I'd saved from dinner to it along with stuff I'd in the cupboard/fridge: a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, a big pinch of chai seeds; a chopped spring onion, few sun dried cherry toms (I found an organic jar of these in the health food shop); some mini pimento peppers for a bit of spice, also from a jar preserved in oil. And that is it guys I put it in the side of my packed lunch box with some salad leaves on the other side and the broccoli on top.

Hints tips and Lessons 

  1. I like to use cups for measurements with rice, couscous and quinoa, but you need to have quite a small cup to do that as a massive mug is too much. I used a pretty small traditional granny style tea cup for this, but as long as you apply the 1-to-1 ratio for couscous you'll be fine.
  2. Sage goes very well with butternut squash.
  3. Other things you might like to add to couscous are: any nuts or seeds; roasted peppers; any leftover veggies; olives; raw red onion chopped fine; grated carrots / courgette.
  4. You can substitute the couscous for quinoa, works a treat.

Other leftover ideas: 

Rice
Let it go cold then pop it in a wok with some oil (coconut is best), 
crack an egg or two into the side of the wok and keep it moving so that you break the egg up into small pieces, add some peas and spring onions - delish! Goes with chicken, beef, chilli, ginger, garlic, any herbs or spices (although not at the same time - learn what goes with what) and you can add any veggies to it. Total winner for leftover rice.

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Frittata
So anything can go into a frittata to bulk it up: tomatoes seeds removed; greens; any veg really, in the picture I used leftover leeks and broccoli. Whisk your eggs, add oil to the pan, add the eggs and leftovers, and then cook on a low heat. Turn your grill on pretty high then when the frittata is almost done take it off the hob and under the grill to cook the top. I like to chop mine into squares, using a pizza wheel, and add to a salad for my lunch.

Vegetables
Add some stock and make a soup - you can even freeze it in portion sizes.

So hopefully today's tip guys will show you that even just the tiniest bit of leftovers (2 broccoli florets) can be used again in a clean meal. Let’s try and reduce food waste!!!

Enjoy playing with your left overs! 

Love 
Evie 
xxx

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Homemade flavoured & infused oils

With Christmas just 35 days away I thought this week I'd show you how to make infused and flavoured oils which you can make and use yourself, or give as homemade gifts for your foodie friends. Making them yourself means you know what's going into them and avoids anything artificial. Plus having them in your cupboard adds to that all important store cupboard that I always go on about. One of you guys has written in and challenged me to make a few meals using only my storecupboard. I will be able to do it e.g. Indian rice dishes, bean mixed salad, curried lentil soup etc. However, to make the challenge more relevant I'm going to add the contents of my freezer to that challenge, so I can show you how to make the best use of your storecupboard and freezer. That theme will be featured in a while, once I get round to cooking the meals, but it shouldn’t be too long. I travel a lot for work so sometimes there actually is nothing fresh in to eat, but I do manage to scrape something together because I have a freezer and cupboard full of staples I can just pull out. I know some of you are fantastic cooks and will be able to do this, but some of you guys are just starting out, and I firmly believe that cooking is so much more than just following a recipe or putting up a plate of edible food, its learning what goes with what and how to make the best use of what you have at home, adapting recipes and making stuff up out of what you have.

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So back to the flavoured oil. I love using them drizzling over a finished dish as it can really make a dish go from good to great. Last week I made courgette ribbons with crispy bacon and sundried tomatoes and drizzled lemon oil and grated a bit of lemon zest on it and it was just amazing. Next time I do that dish I'll blog about it so you can make it too, it’s really very good!    

Flavoured oils are also great on salads, fish, meat, pizza (Pizza? That’s not clean I hear you say, well no its not but I totally love it and I'm looking for clean, or cleaner, ways to make it. I'm not there yet gang but just like we brought you clean pasta we will bring you MC&L pizza, watch this space...)

LEMON OIL 

  • 2 lemons
  • 500ml extra virgin olive oil 

Zest the lemons making sure not to get any of the pith. Then lightly crush the zest to release some of the natural lemon oils. You can use a pestle and mortar if you have one or the side of a wide knife. Then pour the extra virgin olive oil over the lemon zest and preserve for at least 3 weeks in a dark place. After this time you can sieve the contents and transfer to a bottle, or as I've done here just keep the lemon in the bottle. I don’t mind a bit of lemon rind in my oil as I use it mainly to pour over green veg. Try this on green beans with some freshly milled black pepper - amazing! However, if I was making for a friend I might pour the oil thru a bit of muslin fabric, or a fine sieve. 

CHILLI OIL 

  • Dried chilli whole or flakes. Use as much as you like according to strength of chillies! 
  • 500ml extra virgin olive oil 

Just pour the oil in a bottle with the chillies and leave, the longer the chilli is in the oil the longer it will infuse.
Good for: pasta, pizza, Asian salads 
Some recipes encourage you to pan fry the chilli first in some olive oil and I’d do that if using fresh to get the flavour out. If you choose that way after frying with lots of oil for 5 mins leave it to go cold and then pour into the sterilised bottle. This is a good way to make more instant oil if you don't have time to let the chilli work its magic in the oil.  

GARLIC OIL 

I do this oil two ways. One is just to peel and rough chop the garlic and put into the bottle and let it infuse. The other is to peel the cloves of garlic and smash them with the back of the knife, then cook them whole in a frying pan for 5 mins in lots of olive oil, then take them out and use the oil.

The second I’d only do if I was doing a dipping oil, maybe not for a present, but remember just like the chilli brings out the flavour cooking the garlic does the same.

ROSEMARY OIL 

  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 500ml extra virgin olive oil

Wash the rosemary and pat dry with kitchen towel (or just leave to air dry, we do this as it stops it from growing mould. Put the rosemary and the olive oil in a bottle and leave for 2-3 months. Simple.
Good for: Roast lamb, game, soups, Italian dishes, chicken

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Top tips for great tasting oils: 

  1. Wash and sterilise any bottles and jars before using them
  2. Only use natural untreated ingredients so we have no added nasties, wash thoroughly and perfectly dry them before preserving to avoid adding mould
  3. If possible, store in dark glass bottles or if using clear glass bottles, store in dark place like a closed cupboard 
  4. To allow the oils to infuse store for a minimum of 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, with the bottle closed airtight
  5. If you notice something going on in the oil (e.g. if you start to see some little bubbles) discard the oil as something could have gone wrong and the oil could be carrying bacteria
  6. Only good quality extra virgin olive oil
  7. Use within 6 months

I bought my little bottles in Sainsbury's but I'm sure you can get them in almost every large supermarket, Ikea and the like. If making presents, why  not jazz up with some fancy labels and ribbons...

Love and light 
Evie 
xxxx



Tuesday Tip: Chillies - health benefits & how to use them

Well there is no doubt about it; the cold has hit us, so what better way to warm up than from the inside out. Chili is a great way of doing it, but until we learn how to use it, it can be a midfield. So today I'm going to tell you how to use it and how to prep it. Yep the burn of chili is one of the lessons I learnt the hard way, by itching my eyes with my unwashed hands, and making inedible food.

First the health benefits. Here at MC&L we want to bring you great tasting food but equally we want to tell you why we recommend these foods, so you can be informed about what’s going into your body and eat your way to a happier healthier life, to go with that new body Jo is helping us all to make.

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There are loads of benefits of eating chilli and if I was to go into them all, I’d be here for a week so I’m going to concentrate on the three that interested me the most; lowering blood sugar, curbing your appetite and burning fat. Yep gang you heard, it has been scientifically proven that eating chilli burns fat.

So how does it do these things? It’s because it contains a chemical called capsaicin and it’s this which gives chilli and spices like paprika and cayenne their heat. Capsaicin stimulates a natural process which means some of the food we eat is turned immediately to heat, that’s why we get physically warm/hot eating something spicy. That means that our bodies are burning up the calories automatically as opposed to storing them. To further encourage you to start including chilli The British Journey of Nutrition has said that that their studies show that when we eat chilli spiked food, we feel less hungry and eat significantly less at the next meal. BONUS!

But before you go ye-ha eating it, I’ll share one more bit of info which I learnt from the TV programme The Food Hospital and that is just like your body gets used to the same type of exercises so it gets used to the effects food have on it. So if you eat a lot of spicy food and have a hot curry and your friend doesn’t have chilli and eats the same curry, the fat burning benefits will be greater in your friend than you. They’re still there though, so get eating it!

Other benefits are:

  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved digestive conditions
  • Maintains bone health
  • Improves heart health, boosts circulation, thins blood and helps protects against strokes
  • Provides pain relief
  • Limits spreading of prostates cancer

 So enough of the chat let’s get chopping.

In professional kitchens they more than often than not wear rubber gloves, because chilli irritates the skin, burns and stings – remember the eyes Ouch! I know I won’t be the only one to have done that. So I guess to don your gloves would be the first thing to do. I don’t always wear gloves as a home cook but I always wash my hands and use a nail brush after I’ve hand chopped it.

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  1. As with all produce wash it first and pat dry.
  2. Cut chilli in half lengthways.
  3. Scrape out the stem, seeds and veins with the edge of your knife.
  4.  If you want strips of chilli then cut them again in half then you have 4 same sized strips nice for crossing on top of a Thai curry or something similar.
  5. If you want them diced then place them together and cut across to make small squares, you’d use this in say a seafood tagliatelle so you get nice red flecks in the dish. Courgette tagliatelle of course ;)
  6. Now the heat is in the seeds so if you want a hot dish then just add more, I’d recommend about ¼ teaspoon per portion.
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 What if you use too much chilli?

Natural yoghurt cools it down, so you can pop that into curries, chillis etc. Avocado also provides a nice creamy cooling.

With the nights getting colder and darker, I hope today has make you want a bit of spice in your life. Until Friday, stay clean & lean guys!

Evie xxx