Ele Barker

STARTING YOUR CLEAN EATING JOURNEY

BACK TO BASICS

A friend of mine asked me for some healthy ideas for the kids’ dinners that can also be heated up again later when her husband gets home. So I said that I would help and also give her some cookery lessons as she feels unsure on how to prepare and use some of the ingredients.

It's very easy to forget the start of our own clean eating journey and how daunting cooking something new like quinoa can be.

No matter where you are in your own journey here are my top tips to get you off to a great start. We think its really important to get the whole family involved. 

  • Switch everything to wholemeal and wholegrain: the kids’ pasta, rice, noodles and bread. It’s just one shopping trip. Not expensive, not hard and will make a huge difference to their health. Don't make any excuses, they won't notice, I promise!
     
  • Buy more variety of vegetables and fruit. If you have them you will eat them.
     
  • Try new things. Don't be afraid to try new ingredients, cook new recipes or eat new food, if it doesn't work for you at least you have tried it.
     
  • Prepare in advance. I'm not one for batch cooking so instead I just cook an extra pot of lentils or freekeh when I cook dinner so that I have a good lunch planned. 
     
  • Store cupboard. Always have staples like tinned kidney and cannellini beans to hand for quick sides and lunches. Tinned tuna, olives & capers are also great to have at hand to add to dishes for extra flavour. 
     
  • Freezer. I've said it before and I'll say it again: frozen fish is ace. It costs less than fresh and cooks from frozen which means you’ll always be minutes away from something healthy to eat.
     
  • Make your own. I've never been one for pre-prepared and processed when it’s so easy to make your own pasta sauces, houmous or salad dressing. Find some of my recipes for dips here and you will wonder why you ever wasted your money on these. 

Keep up the brilliant work and remember, it's not our abilities that define us, but our choices.
Until next time
Ele x

NO FLOUR FALAFEL

After a holiday or break away it's always hard to get back on track despite how good you may have been while away. If the cupboards are bare or you need an easy recipe to get you eating well again then these no flour falafel could be just the thing. 

I had no idea how easy falafel were to make and this recipe doesn't really need any measures as its all about store cupboard ingredients. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of chickpeas (cooked in the tin water, I empty it into a microwaveable bowl and heat on high for 3 minutes)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ras al hanout
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp coconut oil to cook

Method

Place the cooked chickpeas into a bowl with all the other ingredients. 

Blend with a hand blender until it becomes a soft sand consistency. 

Form into pattie shapes and saute in the coconut oil until lightly browned on both sides. Take care when turning as they are quite fragile. 

Serve! I had mine with raw grated courgette and homemade greek yoghurt taziki dip. Easy.

Ele x

CHEAT'S GREEK MOUSSAKA

It's no secret that I love Greek food and it only takes a few tweaks to make our favourite dishes cleaner. 

Moussaka has to be the most well known and loved Greek dish but with layers of potatoes and creamy sauce it's got to be one to avoid. But the essence of the dish can be easily kept, just by removing these two ingredients. By replacing the sauce with a crumbling of feta and changing the potatoes it still can be one the whole family can enjoy.

MOUSSAKA 

250g lamb or beef mince
6 tomatoes, chopped or 1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
100g feta
1 aubergine or 2/3 courgettes
1 carrot, grated
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
balsamic vinegar - a splash
stock cube (optional)
salt and black pepper

  • Cut the aubergine or courgettes into long thin strips and cook in a splash of water until al dente. Chop up the end strips/slices that are not the most attractive and add into the mince mix later with the other vegetables.
  • Line a large baking dish with the cooked aubergine.
  • Add mince to a frying pan with chopped vegetables and cook until browned.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, cumin, oregano and cinnamon.
  • Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, a stock cube and a dash of water. Allow to gently bubble until it is the same consistency as bolognaise sauce then taste and season.
  • Pour onto the aubergine strips.
  • Crumble feta over the top.
  • Place under the grill until feta has browned and serve with some raw grated carrot.
  • Alternatively, keep aside for later and thoroughly reheat in the oven at 180˚C/gas 4.

This week I also had the most delicious lunch at a friend’s house who knowing I was on the Insanity programme, made me a special clean lunch – what a super friend! This is what she made for me:

 HALLOUMI & ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD

Halloumi is Greek goats or sheep's cheese bursting with a salty tang. If you can't find it, you can replace with grilled feta.

200g kale
1 butternut squash, chopped into bite size pieces
juice of a lemon
100g halloumi or feta
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 garlic clove, crushed
handful chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp coconut oil, melted

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  • Chop the butternut squash into cubes. 
  • Mix with the melted coconut oil and add the garlic, cumin and crushed coriander seeds, then mix together. 
  • Place into the oven at 180˚C/gas 4 for 15 mins, until lightly browned. Turn halfway through cooking.  
  • Mix the kale with the lemon juice and massage for a minute.
  • Cut the halloumi into thick strips and griddle or dry fry until golden. If using feta, put onto a baking sheet and place under the grill until golden.
  • Put the kale onto your serving plate and top with the butternut squash and cheese. Sprinkle nuts on top and a drizzle of oil if you wish.

I hope that you enjoy these two Greek inspired dishes and that it gets you thinking how you can change some of your favourites to make them clean too. 

Ele x

 

FIRE UP YOUR BBQ FOR A SLIMMER SUMMER

Summer BBQ season is nearly upon us and since we have changed the way we eat, it can be difficult to know what to cook or how to keep on track when we go to BBQ parties.

Fear not! I've got some great clean ideas that are not too far removed from what you're used to, and with a few small tweaks it will be a slimmer summer this year! 

Mains:

  • Sardines or whole mackerel, drizzled with herby oil and a big wedge of lemon to serve
  • Homemade burgers: get some great quality minced beef, add a clove of crushed garlic, oregano, mix and shape into burgers. I promise you will never buy them again and you know there is no rubbish in them!
  • Spatchcock chicken
  • Veggie/tuna/halloumi kebabs: mix olive oil, lemon juice and lots of finely chopped herbs and brush over
  • Large mushrooms 
  • Try my homemade sauce recipes:
    chimichurri sauce on steak and BBQ sauce on ribs or chicken

Sides:

  • Corn on the cob brushed with coconut oil
  • Healthy coleslaw: get rid of the mayo and mix it up with Greek yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon or lime, add coriander for a more Asian-feel and add in some chilli for an extra bite
  • Sweet potato chips - so easy even kids can do it!
  • Asparagus - add in herbs and goats cheese for a summer salad
  • Greek salad
  • Grated carrot with pumpkin seeds for extra crunch
  • Cauliflower rice with herbs and radishes
  • Freekeh with herbs, olives and grilled veggies
  • Tomatoes, capers and red onion

or why not try my Lamb Kofta? I served it with grilled vegetables and a freekeh salad. I also added a chimichurri sauce, which I'd never made before but was so easy and tasty and sprinkled over some green olives to serve. Delish!

Lamb Kofta

  • 400g minced lamb
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground almonds

Mix all the ingredients together and shape into kofta shape sausages.
Place under the grill or on the BBQ for 5-8 minutes turning until they are golden brown all over. Slice one open to check they are thoroughly cooked before serving.

Meanwhile chop your veggies (eg courgettes, peppers and mushrooms) and grill.
Cook freekeh according to the packet instructions.
Toss together when cooked. 

No barbi is complete without condiments so I've created these delicious sauces to spice up your lean meat, fish or vegetables. 

Chimichurri Sauce 
This is great on anything - you'll be making it all summer!

  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli (or fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Homemade BBQ Sauce
I've created this finger-licking version. It’s so tasty... and clean! The kids love it on ribs or try brushing onto chicken. 

  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 dsp tomato puree
  • 1 dsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in the meat or fish of your choice and marinate for at least an hour.
Cover with tinfoil and cook at 170˚C for an hour or cook on the BBQ grill. We like to serve it how it is with brown rice and pak choi and drizzle the sauce on top. Yummy!

When it comes to keeping on track and going to a party, why not take a big bowl of clean grain salad with plenty of herbs and veggies for everyone to dig into, wholemeal rolls for the kids and some beautiful pineapple carpaccio for desert. I'm sure your hosts will thank you!

Hopefully with these recipes and ideas under your belt, it will be a much slimmer summer.

Ele x

Chicken & Olives One Pot Wonder

There's nothing better than a meal that you can just shove in the oven for when you're about to hit the gym and have something ready for when you get home (I leave putting it in and checking on it to Mr B while I'm out!)

Super simple, quick and also an easy one pot dish for all the family to enjoy together. 

Chicken and Olives one pot wonder

  • 4 chicken thighs (or breasts if you like)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • a good handful of green olives
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • fresh basil to garnish 

Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Slice the onion.

Place all the ingredients into an ovenproof dish and place into the oven for 20 mins at 190˚C.

Check that the chicken is cooked through then serve with veggies of your choice and a sprinkle of basil to decorate. 

The onions will have gone lovely, soft and sweet and the olives give it a great tang.

Try it - I'm sure you'll love it! 
Ele
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