This post follows on from my previous one, where I incorporated fennel in a recipe.
Fennel is an unassuming vegetable with a fantastic aniseed taste - the bulb is delicious roasted or blanched and can even be whizzed up to form fennel mash. In my opinion, it goes best with fish or chicken.
The seeds are used more widely than the bulb, especially in Indian and Chinese cooking. The seeds or bulb itself can be made into a tea to relax the intestines and reduce bloating caused by digestive disorders, in adults.
Following the raw theme I have created a recipe using just raw ingredients and fennel is one of them:
Tuna, Green Bean and Fennel Salad: (Serves 1-2)
A Tin of Tuna in Brine
1/4 Packet of Green Beans
Half a Fennel Bulb
1 Small Red Onion
Open can of tuna and drain
Chop beans into bite size pieces
Slice fennel and red onion
Combine All ingredients together
Dress with lemon juice, peanut oil and paprika salt
I don't know why I think these two go so well together - maybe it's the contrasting colours or the fact that both have neutral tastes to begin with, but once they absorb different flavours they can taste quite extraordinary.
Beetroot, in my opinion, is underestimated. I know when I was growing up the only form of beetroot I was accustomed to, was the pickled and sliced variety in a jar - which I loved! Now that I can no longer eat it - I have been introduced to a whole new world of baby beetroot; roasted and even raw.
The two recipes below are newly created by me and are equally delicious, fresh and light.
The current fad it seems is to use as many raw ingredients as possible - I therefore decided to use some raw beetroot in this salad, to see what all the fuss was about.
Grilled Chicken and Raw Beetroot Salad: (Serves 2)
2 Chicken Breasts (skinless)
Macadamia Nut Oil
Citrus Flake Sea Salt (Woolies)
Half a Packet Baby Beetroot
Half a Packet Tender Stem Asparagus Spears
Half a Packet Rocket Leaves
2 Tablespoons Macadamia Nut Oil
2 Tablespoons Honey
Juice of a Lime
A Sprinkling of Citrus Flake Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper
A Drop of Water
Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Tear two squares of tin foil
Place one chicken breast in the middle of each square
Place a drop of Macadamia Nut Oil onto each breast and a liberal sprinkling of Citrus Flake Sea Salt
Rub the oil and salt over the breasts, so that they are entirely covered
Wrap up the breasts loosely into a tinfoil parcel
Cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes (the breasts must still be moist)
Blanch asparagus spears in boiling water for about 5 minutes, so that they are still al dente
Grate the beetroot into a bowl
Tear up the rocket leaves and add to the bowl
Add the blanched asparagus
Cut the cooked chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and add to the salad
Coat the salad with the dressing (if you find the dressing a bit sweet, I like to use the juices from the chicken as well - you can even use the juices instead of using extra oil in the dressing)
Top with poppy seeds and toss
Roasted Beetroot, Sweet Potato and Fennel with Grilled Chicken Breasts: (Serves 2-4)
4 Skinless Chicken Breasts
Half a Packet Baby Beetroot
Mixed Dried Herbs
A Bulb of Fennel
A Sweet Potato
A Squeeze of Lemon
Heat Oven to 220 degrees Celsius
Cover the bottom of a baking pan with tinfoil and add a bit of water to the pan
Toss in the baby beetroot, along with a drop of olive oil, a sprinkling of cinnamon, sugar, herbal salt and mixed dried herbs
Cook in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes until the beetroot is tender
Make chicken parcels with the breasts, as in the above recipe. This time use olive oil, paprika and herbal salt
Place in the oven when beetroot has been cooking for about 25 minutes (and cook breasts for about 10 to 15 minutes)
Peal sweet potato and cut into rings
Rub each ring with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and herbal salt
Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until tender
Cut Fennel into slices and rub each slice with a small amount of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbal salt
Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until tender
When all ingredients are cooked, dish onto a plate and squeeze over some lemon
This dish is perfect anytime, but especially when you're on a budget.
There is just something about the golden inviting cavity of a half butternut that begs to be stuffed. The contrasting colours of tomato and spinach with the speckle of white from a sprinkle of pine nuts, makes this an impressive spectacle to behold.
These succulent Mediterranean flavours will transport you to the garden of an Italian Villa - why not try this dish at your next dinner party, although simple, it will surely be a talking point?
Stuffed Roasted Butternut: (Serves 2)
2 Small Butternuts
1 Large Onion
Punnet Cherry Tomatoes
Packet Baby Spinach (I have used a packet of mixed leaves: rocket, watercress and baby spinach before, which also works very well)
Herbal Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
Brown Wild Rice
Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
Cut butternuts in half and scoop out the seeds
Brush butternut halves lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika
Roast in the oven while you are getting the filling ready
Dice onion and fry in a little olive oil with a sprinkle of salt
Wash baby tomatoes and cut in half
Add them when the onions are translucent
Sprinkle half a teaspoon of sugar over the tomatoes to release the juices
Rinse baby spinach and add to the pot
Fry a little until the spinach has wilted
Add the pine nuts
Season with herbal salt and cracked black pepper
Remove the butternut halves from the oven and stuff with the mixture (reserving some to add at the end, when the butternut comes out of the oven)
Return to the oven covered in tin foil
Cook for a further half an hour or until the butternut is cooked through
Top with the reserved mixture
Serve with wild brown rice
For a little bit extra add crispy bacon bits (if your budget allows)
I was quite happily (well not exactly happily, let's say obliviously) living my life the way I was, thinking it was normal to feel that way, until a continuous string of dizzy spells, made me think twice and start to re-evaluate how I had been living.
These were my symptoms:
It was like I had constant PMS. My happy moods, which were few and far between, were always closely followed by anger or sorrow. I was a nightmare to live with and the worst part was that I couldn't understand why I was feeling the way I was feeling so this confusion would put me into a worse mood and without realising it I would take it out on the people closest to me, like my boyfriend. I was also an emotional wreck, bursting into tears at the most inopportune times like at work, while in a meeting with my boss. When I started to experience my dizzy spells, I went to a GP and he told me to go onto anti-depressants - at the time I was so out of it and willing to try anything to make myself feel better that I was about to go through with it, until my mother put her foot down and told me we could fix it another way. She introduced me to Dr Davidson and since doing the blood tests and eliminating the toxic foods, I am a much happier person and far easier to live with.
After eating I generally experienced bloating - where I was so uncomfortable I wouldn't know what to do with myself, sometimes I would need to unbutton my pants; sitting down was even a mission. It was always far worse when I went out to restaurants - I know now that the combination of drinking alcohol and eating foods that you are allergic to always makes the bloating worse. I constantly felt fat - I couldn't understand how girls had flat stomachs because no matter what I did or what diet I went on, I never seemed to lose the stomach - it always looked bloated. Since January this year, I have lost 6kgs (I had to restart my diet because in December I went to Europe on holiday, for a month, and didn't follow the diet as closely as I should have, which made me put on all the weight I lost last year) and my stomach is getting flatter and definitely doesn't look as bloated as it did. This weight I am talking about is mainly water retention (when you eat a food that you are allergic to, your body retains water, mainly in your abdomen, which makes you look bloated) that is why I was able to lose the weight so quickly (and also put it on so quickly). I weighed 59kgs when I came back from holiday and I am 5'2. All my life I have been thin, that's another reason why I couldn't understand why I kept putting on so much weight and not being able to lose it.
Stomach Pain and Discomfort:
Together with the bloating, I would experience extreme pain in my lower abdomen - this pain was either a constant dull ache, bursts of shooting pain that would have me doubled over in agony, or a knot in the middle of my stomach that would tighten up as if a fist was clenching it. The pains got worse after I ate or if I was stressed. Most nights I would lie curled up in the foetal position to try and ease the pain. I very seldom get these pains now.
Along with the bloating and pain, I experienced excruciating heart burn and acid reflux. In my early twenties I had a Gastroscopy (where they put a camera down your throat and look around in your stomach and intestines to see if you have any ulcers) where they told me I had a Hiatus Hernia and a Duodenal ulcer. I was told that nothing could be done about the Hiatus Hernia (a hole in my diaphragm), that I would have it for life. I was given pills for the ulcer, which didn't work. So, I assumed I would have to live with this constant pain - after eating; I would pop a Rennies or drink a glass of hot water to try and ease the pain. Today, I am virtually pain free (avoiding the foods I am allergic to) - I would never have imagined living my life with my body in comfort.
The bloating, pain and the heart burn were always accompanied by funny gurgling noises in my stomach and throat - the noises embarrassed me no end. But there was nothing I could do about them - I would just laugh nervously when someone I was eating with gave me a strange look. If I do not eat anything I am allergic to, I do not get these funny noises - what a relief!
To top it all off, I wouldn't even be able to ease my discomfort by going to the toilet - sometimes I'd go days without going to the toilet. I'm sure this also contributed to the bloating. I'm happy to say that these days I am very regular, the majority of the time I even go twice a day.
Sore Throat and Sinus:
Most mornings I would wake up with a sore throat and stuffy nose, which would gradually ease as the day wore on, but it didn't make me feel too great.
After eating a food that didn't agree with me, I'd sometimes get such bad headaches, or migraines, that would make me feel nauseous and unable to operate properly.
I have suffered from insomnia for the majority of my life. When I was younger I would not sleep for entire nights or I would wake up at 4am, with my mind racing, and not be able to go back to sleep. Later on it developed into fitful night sleeps, which always left me feeling like a zombie the next day. I am slowly getting better at sleeping through the night, but now in the morning I wake up feeling more refreshed than I have for a long time.
Being Dazed and Confused:
For quite a while I lived in my own little world, happy just to listen to the conversation that was taking place because it was too much of a mission to co-operate. It felt as though my mind was cloudy and so was my personality. My memory seemed to be going and I even struggled to remember simple words - therefore having a conversation really didn't make much sense. Yesterday, my friend Kerry commented on the fact that I am a bubblier person than I was and far less blah!
Feeling Sleepy After Meals:
At work, after meals, I constantly felt sleepy. I was so lethargic; I had to force myself to concentrate and to think straight. These days, I have energy througout the day and don't understand how I used to live the way I did. I have so much energy that I now go to gym after work, most days, come home and cook my meals and even find time to write on my blog! I am no longer the couch potato that I was!
My life was ruled by stress. Sometime I'd struggle to cope with deadlines and bite fellow co-workers heads off because I was so stressed. My hands used to shake and I used to get heart palpitations as well. These days I am far less stressed, even though I have the same job. I now take everything in my stride and am a far nicer person to work with.
I have begun to listen to my body and look for the signs - as soon as I experience one of the above I know I have eaten something I am allergic to.
Eliminating the foods you are allergic to is hard at first - some days you will want to give up; take it from me, it does get easier as you start to find your feet and learn to adapt. If you have any of the symptoms above - I strongly advise you to go to a homeopath or dietician and to possibly have the ImuPro blood tests done.
Having the blood tests done has really changed my life and now you can see why! (I do not write this blog for any other reason, but to try and help people fix themselves and to start to feel as good as I do.)
I'm sure you've said the above at least once in your life, if not once a week :). I know I have, although my cravings were not for sweets, but rather for anything savoury.
In my previous post about oils, I briefly touched on cravings, so I thought I'd elaborate.
If you have type III allergies to foods, you might be aware that these foods can act like a drug, giving you a feeling of euphoria, or putting you on a high. This is how I lived for many years, without even realising it!
The foods you become allergic to are usually the foods you love the most - you may think that garlic is a strange food to be allergic to, but it'd make perfect sense if I told you that I used to eat it every day, sometimes twice a day (because of having leftovers for lunch). Your body builds up anti-bodies against these offending foods, which find their way into the blood stream through perforations, such as ulcers in the intestinal wall. In other words, the more you eat the foods, the more your body fights them, creating a constant battle in your body.
But, oblivious to what these foods are doing to your body, you crave them more; hooked on the way they make you feel. Although, as the saying goes, what goes up, must come down... And boy, did I hate the downs, therefore I would subconsciously eat more, to try and keep that feeling. My cravings never seemed to go away; I'd dream about devouring a packet of crisps while at work and when I came home, I'd do it!
I started buying salted pretzels because I thought they'd be healthier for me, but the wheat in them actually made things worse, as did the yeast in rice cakes and "Vita Snacks." But I couldn't seem to stop myself, I was out of control; hooked on the feeling.
Today, since eliminating the foods from my diet, I no longer have intense cravings - it actually feels like something is missing, but I convince myself that it's a good thing :).
Being allergic to dairy means that most chocolates are out, although some dark chocolates, such as Lindt do not contain milk, therefore a few squares are ok to eat every now and again. (Always read the ingredients though).
A good replacement for chips that contain yeast are flavoured nachos - you can buy these at Dischem or Health Shops, but just double check that the flavourants do not contain yeast.
After a few weeks of eliminating the toxic foods from your diet, take it from me, your cravings will have diminished considerably, if not have gone entirely. You will be satisfied with a piece of fruit, a handful of popcorn, some roasted chickpeas or nachos with a dip.
Don't despair, there are also many desserts you can make or eat that don't contain dairy, eggs, glutens or yeast - the one that springs to mind is tofu ice cream - this is as creamy as a normal ice cream - you won't even know the difference!
If you have your own craving experiences, please share them with us!
By now, I'm sure you're aware of the huge role that oils play in my diet. Because I am allergic to dairy, butter and margarine have now become a no no. A simple thing like mashed potato has to be reinvented to suit my diet.
That is why I LOVE Willow Creek Oils!! Just because my lifestyle has changed, I refuse to sacrifice on flavour. Food is still my passion no matter what my limitations are - therefore I need to enjoy it - otherwise there is actually no point in living - I might as well pack up now and go home...
"Willow Creek Estate lies in the Nuy Valley, in the Western Cape. Overlooked by the Rabie Mountain which forms part of the Langeberg Mountain range, the farm has been in the Rabie family since the late 1700s when it was first cultivated by Johannes Stephanus Rabie. His descendant, Andries Rabie, planted the first olive trees in 1999 and in 2002 the first oil was pressed.
In November 2002, with the goal of facilitating large scale expansion, Cape Town entrepreneur and owners of Alomzicht Olive Estate, Johan Pretorius, and his wife Mariette, became partners in the Willow Creek brand – forging a partnership with global potential and aspirations." http://www.willowcreek.co.za/
The Lemon-Infused Olive Oil is made by infusing the Willow Creek Extra Virgin Olive Oil with natural oils extracted from lemon rind. The lemon flavour zings and bursts on the tongue and is yet smooth and subtle at the same time. I love it with fresh asparagus, in dips such as hummus and butterbean, on warm crushed baby potatoes, as a marinade with fish, lamb chops, chicken, on salads, in fact I could go on and on. This olive oil in my opinion goes pretty much with anything.
The Basil-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil is equally as versatile and delicious. It has a fresh, summery flavour with an intense punch of basil - it cries out to be sloshed lovingly onto Mediterranean foods such as a caprese salad, used as a base in pestos, to finish off risottos and in marinades for fish, chicken, lamb and beef.
These oils can be bought from most supermarkets such as Checkers, Pick 'n Pay and Woolies.
My entire supply of oils has grown dramatically since I began my collection with one bottle of avo oil back in October last year; each one is as valuable to me as any precious metal. Healthy oils such as these are essential fatty acids and are important for the body, ironically enough in the right quantity, they even boost fat-burning.
Polyunsaturated fats found in seeds, their oils or fatty fish, are used by the brain and nerves, boost immunity, balance hormones and promote healthy skin. In fact, these fats are far better for you than butter and margarine and even when I am able to eat them again, I will still leave them out of my diet - as I do not miss them one bit. The reason for this is that because our bodies need these essential fats to perform functions, we have fat receptors in our mouths, which register if we have eaten what we need or not. We crave fats in the same way we crave sugar, but only when we eat the right fats do our bodies stop craving them. That is why you might get a craving for slap chips or a burger - but once eaten, you will still crave the fats, until you give your body what it really needs - healthy fats.
Omega-3 fats are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines as well as pumpkin seeds and walnuts and their oils - these help to control metabolism and fat-burning. Omega-6 fats are found in sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds and their oils and are especially good for healthy skin and hormonal balance. Omega-9 fats are found in olive oil, almonds and walnuts and they help to stabilise blood sugar levels. It is best to use these oils in their natural state where ever possible. (Taken from The Holford Low-GL Diet).
Dischem has a good selection of oils, but you can also buy them from most supermarkets or health shops.
Pork Chops with Butterbean and Potato Mash:
Willow Creek Lemon-Infused Olive Oil
Tin of Butterbeans
4 medium sized Potatoes
Brush the chops lightly with the olive oil
Sprinkle with herbal salt, rosemary and chilli
Grill in the oven until the rind is crispy (15 to 20 mins)
For The Mash:
Peel and cut potatoes into rough cubes and boil until soft
Blend a tin of butter beans with the boiled potatoes in a blender
Add a generous amount of lemon infused olive oil to the mixture
Season with herbal salt and chilli
The butterbeans create a creamy texture, therefore the use of milk is totally unnecessary
One of the foods I miss the most is a simple toasted cheese and tomato. Cheese and tomato, to me, is a match made in heaven - two ingredients that are quite boring apart, just seem to ignite in a burst of flavour when paired together.
On my trip to Fruits and Roots, I found something called No-D Cheese, which is a dairy free alternative to cheese; made from baby marrow, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, agar agar (a natural binding agent made from seaweed) and non-iodised salt. This product is made by Free Food.
On the packet it promises to grate, cube and melt and I was willing to put it to the test.
The likeness test: It looks like cheese, like mozzarella or a white cheddar. It feels like cheese, when still in its packaging, (when taken out of the packaging it is a little wet.) It slices like cheese.
The taste test: Unfortunately, it falls short of the real taste of cheese; it doesn't have that creamy tang that I love, instead it has a strong taste of olive oil, but all will be forgiven if it melts!
The melting test: It melts!
The toasted sandwich test: Also while visiting Fruits and Roots, I acquired a sour dough bread, which does not contain any added yeast - made from buckwheat, millet and rye, another option would be sour dough rice bread (rye is a gluten, but one that I wasn't highly allergic to - 4 months have past without eating rye in my diet - therefore I can introduce it back and study my body to see if there is a reaction).
Armed with my arsenal of sour dough bread, no-d cheese, a tomato and toasted sandwich machine - I was
ready for action...
I am pleased to say that my healthy alternative to a toasted cheese and tomato did the trick for me. Hooray! In my opinion all the flavours work hand in hand to create a sandwich almost on the same level as my all-time favourite. Now, I can live with that!
I love asparagus; especially the fresh, emerald green spears. There is something quite therapeutic about finding the breaking point, where woodiness and tender stem meet, and then snapping!
Asparagus is sort of like the king of veggies as it is a good source of many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, niacin (which plays an important metabolic role in living cells and is involved in the repair of DNA) and folic acid (our bodies require folic acid to help produce red blood cells and has even been linked to preventing cancer).
Asparagus is extremely versatile and easy to prepare. My best is cooking the asparagus in the tiniest amount of water, until the colour pops and the stems are still crunchy - squeezing over some lemon juice and sprinkling with salt and pepper. This is so simple to do and is a great accompaniment to anything, such as lamb chops and chicken breasts.
Rosemary encrusted lamb chop with crunchy carrots and asparagus
Because I am all about the simplicity of food - the lamb chops are equally as simple to make
Set the oven to grill on about 200 degrees celsius
Sprinkle the chops with a generous amount of dried rosemary and herbal salt
There is no need for extra oil
Grill in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the rind has crisped up, but the meat is still moist
Squeeze over lemon juice
And serve with al dente carrots and asparagus
Another quick and easy lunch or no-fuss dinner is my:
Zesty Lemon and Asparagus Pasta:
Maize, rice or any other gluten free pasta (I have used spinach and maize pasta)
Willow Creek lemon infused olive oil
Tender stem asparagus
Juice and zest of a lemon
Salt and pepper
Cook the pasta as directed, rinse and drain
Cook the asparagus in a little water for 5 minutes, until al dente and then drain and cut into pieces
Zest a lemon
Add the asparagus pieces to a pan with a little lemon infused olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and pine nuts
Fry for 2 minutes until the flavours infuse
Toss in the pasta and coat it with the ingredients
Amaranth. Did you say Amaranth? What in the world is Amaranth?
Amaranth is a gluten free grain (or rather a seed), which I stumbled upon quite by accident. I found another health shop in Bryanston called Fruits and Roots - which is very similar to Fresh Earth.
I love these shops; I take ages perusing the shelves for something new and exciting to try and on this visit I found, yip - you guessed it, Amaranth!
I knew nothing about Amaranth - I had never even heard of it before. So, I did what any self respecting person would do and I googled it (after I bought it and took it home that is).
It is a tiny grain, which I assumed would fluff up like couscous, but it doesn't - in fact it goes sticky - so it would be perfect as a breakfast porridge. It can also be ground into flour, popped like popcorn, dry toasted, or used as a coating for fish, lamb, etc
But I decided to make an Amaranth and Roast Veggie Salad:
Half a Cup of Amaranth
Willow Creek Basil Infused Olive Oil
Cook the amaranth with about a cup of water until it reaches a sticky consistency
Cut the onion roughly into chunks
Add the onion and diced pumpkin to a tinfoil lined baking tray
Drizzled over the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbal salt and pepper
Put into a hot oven and roast until the edges of the pumpkin go crispy
Just before the veggies are done, throw in the baby tomatoes
Coat the veggies in the cooked amaranth
Tear a few rocket leaves
Toss together and there you have it, an unusual roast veggie salad!
Have you used Amaranth before; if so, what is your favourite recipe?
It's good to know that my entire self has not changed on this diet - my fears of not being able to entertain are unfounded.
In fact, I want to entertain more!
Because I am feeling so good and have discovered so many new and different ingredients, since the start of my journey, I want to share it all with my friends.
I invited my friend Tarrin over one Sunday afternoon for one of my healthy, yet tasty salads.
I must say I was a little nervous - here was me sharing a piece of my new self with someone other than my boyfriend, who has no choice but to eat everything I put in front of him :)
Here goes nothing...
On the menu:
Honey Glazed Chicken Breast Salad:
3 tablespoons of honey
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
Mix all ingredients together and brush over the chicken breasts.
Grill in a preheated oven, I set mine to about 200 degrees celsius, until the chicken has gone golden brown from the glaze and is still moist - about 10 to 15 minutes (cut one breast open just to make sure it is translucent inside and is not still pink - if still pink cook for another few minutes, but take care not to burn the breasts)
Dry toasted pine nuts
Make a dressing using a bit of olive oil, lime juice, orange juice, honey, chilli flakes and a dash of salt to counter balance the sweetness, and a grind of black pepper
Cut the chicken breast into pieces
Toss the salad together, arrange artfully on the plate, layer the chicken around and drizzle over the dressing
For a little bit of naughtiness I made us a watermelon cocktail:
o Fresh watermelon
o Lime cordial
o Teaspoon of fructose
o Blend all ingredients in a blender, pour into martini glasses and add a few mint leaves or cucumber shavings for decoration
If you haven't realised by now, the essence of this way of eating - is simplicity! Simplicity in the number of ingredients (due to the 4 day cycle) and simplicity in the way the food is prepared because time is of the essence.
Gone are complicated, creamy concoctions and in their place are raw ingredients bursting with flavour.
This is where I introduce the star player in my weekly routine - the pesto.
I was never big on pestos - they didn't lure me in like a bowl of creamy macaroni cheese or a Napolitano sauce sprinkled with generous shavings of fresh parmesan.
But boy, was I missing out! The tangy, zingy get smooth and creamy flavours of a basil pesto, in my opinion beat most pasta sauces hands down.
So, to entice you to the pesto side of life - I have creating some pestos below, which will have your taste buds crying out for more!
I do not include garlic in any of my pestos, as I am allergic to it - but please feel free to add it to yours! Or instead use spring onions, chives or red onion.
The most fantastic thing about a pesto is that anything goes and it is so quick to make - mix a few ingredients in a blender and voila - you have a topping for pasta, fish, chicken or even lamb!
Blend together fresh basil, dry toasted pine nuts (put pine nuts in a frying pan with no oil and toast until golden brown for about 30 seconds to a minute - be careful not to leave them on too long as they will burn), lemon juice, a healthy oil such as olive or avo, salt and pepper
Another great oil to use for this is macadamia nut oil
Basil and Coriander Pesto:
Blend together fresh basil, coriander, lemon juice, a handful of cashew nuts, a healthy oil, salt and pepper
Rocket and Sorrel Pesto:
Blend together fresh rocket, fresh sorrel, cashew nuts or dry toasted sesame seeds, lemon juice, healthy oil, salt, pepper
Pea and Spinach Pesto:
Blend together al dente peas and spinach, pine nuts, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, sesame seed oil, salt and pepper
Pea, Rocket and Mint Pesto:
Blend together al dente peas, fresh rocket and fresh or dried mint (use half a teaspoon of dried mint), dry toasted pine nuts, lemon infused olive oil and paprika salt
Celery, Onion and Soya Bean Pesto:
Blend together al dente celery, onion and soya beans (boil in a little water until all three are tender, but still crunchy), dry toasted sesame seeds, sesame seed oil, lemon juice, paprika salt and pepper
I hope you eat your pestos with as much gusto as I do. And remember when it comes to cooking there is no right and wrong with experimenting so I encourage you to try as many different ingredients as possible to make the best pesto for you!
Here is a challenge for you; come up with an amazing pesto and I will write a blog post dedicated to you and your pesto. So go, go, go - and get creative!
I used to love my leftovers for lunch… and I still do, with one, slight difference – I now freeze my leftovers and eat them the following week. In fact, I freeze practically everything: my dips, the bread I buy from Fresh Earth, cooked sweetcorn on the cob, cooked beetroot, roasted chickpeas… It makes life way easier especially in those situations where you get home late and the absolute last thing you feel like doing is cooking; and it saves cooking the next week too! Freezing also prevents wastage - if you're like me and never quite get around to using that last sweetcorn or carrot in the fridge - cooking everything and then freezing is brilliant - there is no wastage and the food is ready to go whenever you are, give or take a little chill time.
I also enjoy eating, and making, a variety of salads as they are quick and very tasty.
Some of my favourites are:
Peppered Mackerel Salad
For this salad, I like to buy the Peppered Mackerel from Woolies
I shred the fish with my fingers and add it to chopped cucumber, mint and chives
I then add salt and pepper (being careful as the Mackerel is already salty and peppery) and a dash of squeezed lime to taste
Three Bean Salmon Salad
This salad can be made with any beans
I like to use borlotti, sugar and quickly-blanched green beans (to prevent over-cooking, run the green beans under cold water as soon as they are tender, but still crunchy)
I finely chop a red onion and add it to the beans
I then like to add watercress along with some poppy seeds or linseed, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
I then add a tin of salmon (high in omega 3 fatty acids, which your body needs to function optimally) to complete the meal
I mix together a tin of tuna with half a tin of kidney beans
I then finely chop a red onion and add it to the mixture along with rocket, avo oil, lime juice and paprika salt
Mediterranean Tuna Bean Salad
This is another tuna salad I like eating
I use green beans, kidney beans and soya beans and mix them with a tin of tuna, lemon juice, lemon infused olive oil (Willowcreek makes delicious oils - they also make a basil infused olive oil which is perfect on a caprese salad, chicken breasts, in pestos, marinades for lamb chops, etc), salt and pepper
Chicken, Sweetcorn and Beetroot Salad
I buy uncooked whole baby beetroot from Woolies
I then cut the bottoms off of the beetroot so that they don't wobble around when cooking
Add them to a baking pan along with a drop of water, grape seed oil, a sprig or two of fresh thyme and then roast in the oven until cooked - this takes at least 40 minutes until they are tender. Keep topping up with a little water as it does evaporate (because it takes pretty long to cook the beetroot, I recommend cooking the whole packet and then freezing the excess to use the following week)
Rub the raw chicken breasts with a little grape seed oil and sprinkle with fresh thyme, dried chilli, and salt and grill in the oven for about 10 minutes until cooked, but still moist (make sure the thyme and chilli are coated with the oil so that they don't burn)
Cook a sweetcorn or two and then cut the corn off the cob
Cut the chicken breasts into pieces, slice the beetroot and add it to the corn
Add a little more oil to moisten the dish, some more thyme, chilli and salt and sprinkle over with poppy seeds
(Sometimes I use dry tarragon instead of the thyme - you can use any herbs of your choice as well as any healthy oil)
Baby Potato and Crispy Bacon Salad
Boil some baby potatoes, wait until cooled and then chop into four pieces
Crisp up a few strips of back bacon in the oven (bacon has enough of its own fat, I prefer not to fry it in a pan - grilling is healthier) and then crumble the bacon into bits
Add half a tin of cannellini beans to the chopped potato and bacon
Make a dressing of lemon juice, lemon infused olive oil, salt, pepper, dried thyme and oreganum and add it to the salad
Spicy Beef Salad
Marinade beef strips in avo oil, paprika, soya sauce, lime and dried chilli
Fry the strips in a little avo oil
Make a dressing of avo oil, paprika, soya sauce, lime, dried chilli and a little fructose or castor sugar (half a teaspoon)
Build a salad of rocket, red pepper, avo and pine nuts
Add the beef strips and the dressing and toss
Coleslaw with a Twist
Because I can't eat mayonnaise I have had to find my way around it. I find that I don't actually miss the mayo in this recipe
Grate carrot and chop up some baby cabbage
Make a dressing of lime, honey, pecan nuts, lemon infused olive oil, salt and pepper - wiz up in a blender until creamy
Add to the grated carrot and cabbage
Serve with cold roast chicken or eat it on its own
Salads are so versatile. I love mixing and matching ingredients until I find a salad that tastes good to me. The excitement is in the creation.
So, why not mix and match your own ingredients to create your very own mouthwatering masterpieces and as always, please share them?