When the clock strikes midday I love a tasty but quick & easy lunch to fill me up and this Moroccan falafel salad definitely ticks the box.
It’s basically been cobbled together with ingredients I had left in the fridge, yet it tastes lush and was quick to throw together. Using up fresh pomegranate and mint sauce has given this dish a lovely moroccan element and pairs perfectly with the falafel.
Worth noting, this recipe is for a quick lunch and as such I haven’t made the falafel myself. I usually make a whole batch and freeze them so they are to hand whenever I want. On this occasion though these ones came straight from a Costco shop, forgive me!
Moroccan Inspired Side Dishes
The sides can be made on their own or enjoyed with lots of other salad ‘buddha bowl’ type recipes. I’ve used up a tin of chick peas which are infused with fragrant red onion and smoky paprika. For a bit of greenery I’ve mixed in a minty shredded courgette ‘slaw’. Top with whatever you have in your refrigerator – in my case I had fresh pomegranate and sweetcorn. These two complement eachother and give this moroccan falafel salad some authenticity!
Another great thing about my lunch? It’s totally VEGAN. I’m not even a vegan but sometimes I’ll put together a meal and it is only half way through munching I will realise it has no animal produce, added bonus right?
Moroccan Falafel Salad
A tasty Moroccan inspired salad with pomegranate, mint & smoky hummus.
- 6 Falafels
Minty Courgette 'Slaw'
- 1 Courgette, shredded
- 2 Gherkins, chopped
- 1 Stick Celery, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Soya yoghurt
- 1 Tsp Mint sauce
- Salt & pepper
- 1 Tin Chickpeas, drained
- 1 Medium Red onion
- 1 Tsbp Tomato passatta
- 1 Tsp Smoked paprika
- 1 Tsp Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Handful Cherry tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp Pomegranate seeds
- 2 Tbsp Sweetcorn
- 1 Tbsp Fresh herbs
- 1 Tbsp Smoked hummus
Heat up your grill and set the falafels under it to heat through.
Whilst the falafels are warming you can start making the chick peas. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and chop the red onion into small chunks. Add the onion to the hot pan and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the chick peas and add in with the onion. Then add in the tomato passatta and smoked paprika. Leave to cook through for a further 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Next, the minty courgette slaw, shred your courgette and put in a bowl. Chop the gherkins and celery into small chunks and mix all together with the courgette. Add the yoghurt and mint sauce and give a good stir. If you have any of the herbs from the gherkins pickling juice you can add this in too. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Check on the falafels and when they are nice and hot you are ready to serve. Dish up the chick peas and slaw in a bowl, add a generous dollop of hummus and add the hot falafels. Sprinkle with the sweetcorn, pomegranate and your choice of fresh chopped herbs.
So if you’re thinking that another meal deal lunch or plain ol’ sandwich is just not gonna hit the spot, why not change it up and give this Moroccan falafel salad a try? You could double up the ingredients and then would even have a enough for the next day. It’s healthy, filling and perfect to eat now that the sun has started shining down on us. A great one if you’ve got some vegan buddies to cater for too.
My latest foodie adventure turned vegetarian disaster!
So as many of you know, I am a vegetarian*. So when I find a new vegetarian restaurant I do get a little bit excited. I always feel like a veggie burger from a true vegetarian restaraunt is going to be top-class rather than the standard overdone spicy bean burger on literally every single menu. But no. Think Again..This is a tale of how my lovely night out for dinner and music turned into a hellish 2 day bloat-fest.
* – Well, not quite, I am technically a pescatarian. Although pescatarian is a bit wordy so I tend to just say veggie when asked.
My Vegetarian Disaster Meal Begins..
Last week my beau and I ventured over to Camden to see some live music and thought what better way to start the evening than by grabbing some tasty food at a veggie restaraunt, convieniently very near by.
We sat down and took our time at the place, it was very comfortable and they had great organic beer, we sipped away happily and chatted for a while first and didn’t feel rushed – great. When we finally got to ordering our mains we both went for a classic, the burger.
A great burger menu – things are looking good
Now, let me tell you, the burger menu was top-notch. Halloumi burger – I thought no, even though halloumi is my second love I have it all the time, let’s be original. So it came down to a ‘chicken’ burger (yes, fake breaded chicken!) or a burger comprising of white beans and beetroot, flavoured eastern-european style with dill and pickled cabbage. So obviously went for the latter. Being that I am half Czech it’s too tempting not to have some flavours that my mama would make back in the day.
We actually both went for the same thing, so out came our burger and fries. They looked totally devourable and tasted divine. They were a fair size but nothing we couldn’t handle. I mean, eating is like my hobby so I took my time and polished off most of it (minus some chips). Obviously immediately after we both felt full, however usually it subsides after a bit of digestion…
1 hour post-dinner
Okay, we’ve left the restaraunt now and are having a pre-gig drink at a pub. My stomach actually feels bigger than when I first finished my food. I’m looking at my G&T with a sense of dread as I think I might pop Henry 8th style if I finish it. What is going on? It was a burger and fries not a food challenge! I look at my boyfriend and can tell he is in the same boat. The faint hope is still there that we will start to feel a little more comfortable if we give it enough time.
2 hours post-dinner
We felt so challenged at the digestive process that even holding a conversation at the pub seemed laboured. We finished our drinks and left, walking up and down Camden High Street in the cool air for some relief before heading to our venue. It begins to dawn on us that this is no usual post-meal feeling. This is something way, way, worse. But how could it be? We didn’t eat any more than we usually would. We suffer from no digestive ailments and the food was clearly cooked well so it couldn’t be due to that. We’ll just ignore it any go about our business as usual..
3 hours post-dinner
At the venue now, listening to some cool blues music courtesy of Ian Siegal (check him out if you haven’t already!). The g&t is still looking more like a punishment than a treat. We’re both standing but even that is difficult, my belly is pressing against the cute faux-leather skirt I wore especially. I can’t bear it, I just want to sit down and unzip my gut so it can hang free in all it’s gargantuan glory. Enjoyment of the gig is severely effected, can’t quite get in the mood.
3.5 hours post-dinner
Mid-set now, probably 8 tracks in, I look over to my boyfriend, kinda hoping that he is feeling normal again and enjoying the gig but also kinda hoping that his guts are just as bad so we can bail out and go home. He confirms the latter. Literally, we felt so awfully bloated and full it killed the vibe of the evening. Got the tube back home and would describe the feeling of walking through the front door, removing my tight skirt and flopping out on the sofa as somewhat orgasmic. So the vegetarian disaster meal has turned into a vegetarian disaster night.
I am a seasoned professional at burgers and beers. I know some might argue that the beers didn’t exactly help the situation but honestly I have never felt so bloated in my whole beer-drinking life so I knew that couldn’t be it. Out of curiosity I start to think ‘well, what else was in that burger?’ I check back at the menu and see that the patty is primarily made out of white beans.
Moral of the story..Don’t EVER order anything made entirely out of white beans
‘Beans, beans, the musical fruit’. Yes, we all know the song but let’s face it, no one ever really thinks like that when you pick some food with beans in it. I’ve had beans plently of times with no ramifications, so what gives? White beans are super difficult to digest, as my Google search confirms. They are very fiborous and will sit in your gut and ferment causing that lovely tight-belly feeling. Queue suddenly feeling about 7 stone overweight or actually in the latter stages of a pregnancy. If only there was some warning on the menu like they do with crustaceans or gluten...’Warning, vibe-killer meal, liable to excessive bloating’. Honestly I have never known anything like it!
It was actually such a shame. I was trying to impress my boyfriend with some cool vegetarian food to turn him away from his beef burger eating ways. Needless to say the opposite has happened, he’s insisting that next time we’re out he picks the restaraunt. A total vegetarian disaster. The second shame is that I reckon the restaraunt is actually pretty sound (hense why I haven’t name-dropped them in this rant-post). The food was really nice! Although I do wish I had never eaten it because of all the trouble afterwards. It took about 48 hours before I felt back to normal.
A word of warning for all of you vegetarians though, beware of the beans. I am seriously blacklisting any bean-based food from my menu for a long while.
I am officially running a cacti hospital. Which is proving quite challenging. Despite the fact I have kept cacti before, I have never had any that are on their last legs. So I’ve had to learn along the way with how to fix their issues (with a lot of help from my forum buddies in the US!).
How I Acquired 11 Unloved Cacti
A few weeks back I was wondering around the high street and found a hand written advert that was selling off a cacti collection. A ‘mature’ cacti collection. So obviously I took down the phone number as the prospect of having mature cacti plants is super cool. Usually if I buy them new I can only afford the little tiddler cacti you see in garden centres. But mature cacti? Immediately I was envisioning towering plants and my lounge looking like it’s been taken over like a desert, something that would usually only be achievable after years and years of cacti ownership.
When I told my other half he was equally as keen. See, just another reason we are perfect for each other…When you can approach your boyf saying ‘I think we should invest in lots of cacti plants’ and he is just as excited as you are, you know you’ve found a keeper.
Anyway, back to the story. So we call this chap up to see if the cacti are still available to buy. He actually went on to say we were the first people to call in weeks. So it was meant to be, we had to rescue these cacti or they would meet their demise! 11 plants that he’s had for up to 20 years(!) but had to sell as he only has a little flat now.
Cacti Transport – Help!
Micra’s are not the best vehicles for transporting numerous large cacti all in one go, but that is what we did. We drove 15 miles in my little car with the prickly fella’s in the boot, footwells and pretty much anywhere they could fit! It was a tight squeeze and god forbid if we had to break hard during the journey. Oh and mustn’t forget to mention, we were both terribly hungover for this part of the mission. Plus it was raining. Plus the cacti guy lived on the third floor of a block with no lift. That is dedication.
So we got them back, although we weren’t really in the mood for cacti saving (we actually unloaded them, then went to get milkshakes!). The in-laws were pretty surprised to see two grumpy hungover people trudging back and forth offloading cacti into their house. (Hey, their place is much bigger!) We left them there for a few days whilst we took stock. Kinda thinking ‘what have we done!’ ‘Where are we gonna put them?’ ‘Why did we just spend £100 on cacti?’ and ‘This is pretty cool!’.
A Bad Discovery – These Cacti Needed Urgent Attention
When we took the time to start sorting through our new plants we discovered just how in need of atttention they were. The man who had them before us wasn’t an expert and you could tell these plants were still in their original pots, despite some being over 20 years old. Some had wrinkly bits that had died, some had roots desperate to burst out of the container and some were sitting in soil that was far too wet. Here we go. This one below was probably one of the worst. I’ve detached the dead stems and re-potted, but have a sneaking suspicion that there is rot at the base, ah! I will have to build up the courage to cut it out if so..
Stage 1 Of Cacti Resuscitation
So now we are nursing the cacti back to health. We are newbies, so initially re-potted them all in big pots. Then had to do it again with pots just one size up from the old ones – we didn’t realize that too much soil in a big pot means extra water gets retained, doh! We’ve found some super helpful American folk who are more familiar with cacti who have been a lifesaver (Check out Houzz forums for great cacti advice). Although even with this help everything takes so long, you go to re-pot one, discover a problem, have no idea what to do so take photos to post on forums and re-pot in the mean time. All the forum buddies tell you what to do and then often we find ourselves performing surgery! Gulp!
Keep in touch to find out the latest cacti progress! We are determined to grow these into big bad boy cacti and will succeed! It’s so exciting to be learning so much about these amazing plants too.
PS: There is nothing more painful than handling cacti. It’s like a splinter but 100 times worse, ouch.Yum
Now that the nights are becoming longer and summer is around the corner I’m getting the taste for fresh flavours over the hearty winter meals I’ve had so many of. So here is the first of many, my pan fried salmon & mediterranean veg. The veg is roasted and served with quinoa/salad.
My favourite veggie combo – Salmon & mediterannean veg
I absolutely love mediterranean vegetables after they have been cooked to perfection in the oven. There is a fair amount of chopping to do but aside from that you can chuck it all in a roasting dish, splash with olive oil and just leave it in the oven until it’s done. I always make med veg when we have summer barbeques, as you can prep ahead of time then just decant into a big bowl for everyone to help themselves to. It beats the lonely bowl of cherry tomatoes you often see..
But alas, we are not quite in barbeque season yet. To be frank, most of the time it doesn’t even feel very spring like with the grey skies and rain, but we’ll get there eventually. So the accompanying salmon was cooked in a pan. I like salmon to be crispy and favour the grill or pan over the oven. I use a non-stick pan so you can put the salmon straight in without the need for any extra greasing. The fish is naturally oily and will be fine on it’s own.
A great source of protein
This is a great mid-week meal, healthy, filling and often there’s leftover veggies you can add to your lunch for the next day. Plus the salmon and quinoa are high in protein, so perfect after a work out also. Although do be aware there is some prep work with the chopping so it isn’t the quickest meal. Worth the effort though! You could always use ready cooked salmon and microwave quinoa to save time, although my recipe includes the steps to make these. Keep it simple, do what suits you and enjoy!
Mediterranean Veg & Salmon
A healthy, protein rich dinner of pan fried salmon with delicious roast mediterannean vegetables. Served with pumkpin seed quinoa and salad.
For the pan fried salmon
- 2 Fillets Salmon
- Salt & pepper
For the Mediterreanean Veg
- 1 Courgette
- 1 Red onion
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1 Sweet potato
- 10 Cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 tsp Mixed herbs
- 1 tsp Garlic salt
- Salt & pepper
For the quinoa
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 1 cube Vegetable stock
- 2 cups Water
- 2 tsbp Pumpkin seeds
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 handful Mixed salad leaves
- Salad veg of choice (cucumber, artichoke, etc)
Roasted Mediterreanean Veg
We'll start with the mediterreanen vegetables. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees / 180 fan and set aside a large roasting tray.
Wash all your vegetables and chop into chunks, aside from the red onion which can be cut into wedges and the cherry tomatoes which can be left whole.
Chuck all the prepared vegetables into the roasting tray and drizzle over 1tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle on the mixed herbs and garlic salt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Put the tray onto the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and becoming crispy. Turn half way through cooking.
Once you have put the vegetables in the oven it is time to start the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under a running tap of cold water for a few minutes and set aside.
Put the two cups of water into a pan and bring to a boil, crumbling in the vegetable stock cube. Once bubbling away add the quinoa.
Leave the pot of quinoa to bubble away on high for a few minutes, stir and then turn the heat down to medium-low. Put the lid on the pot and leave alone for 15 minutes.
Once cooked the quinoa should have absorbed all the liquid. Leave the pot to stand with the lid on for 5 minutes or until ready to serve as this will keep it piping hot. Before serving mix in the pumpkin seeds. Crush the garlic and stir this in also.
Pan Fried Salmon
This is the easy part. Use a non-stick pan and you won't require any additional oil. Heat the pan on a medium-high setting. Whilst the pan reaches the desired temperature season both sides of the salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
When the pan is hot add the two fillets of salmon, skin side down. Once the salmon begins to cook it will release it's own oils. Cook on one side until the skin starts becoming crisp (4-5 minutes) then flip onto the other side. Continue to cook until the salmon is done in the middle. You can cut it in half to check.
Prepare two plates with a leafy side salad. Add any extras you desire (I used cucumber, artichoke and a dash of salsa). Arrange a generous portion of the mediterreanean veg, a fist sized portion of the quinoa, spinkle some pumpkin seeds on top and finally the salmon fillet. Now you're ready to dig in!
For heat lovers, you can change up the seasoning for the mediterreanean veg by adding chilli powder. I also added chilli flakes to my salmon for a little extra kick.
This dish is made extra lovely with a fresh salad dressing or salsa.
After the indulgence of Easter I really wanted to start the new week with a fresh, healthy meal. Start as you mean to carry on and all that. So I whipped up this tasty lentil salad, flavoured with dill, capers & lemon. Serve with some peppery rocket and top with smoked salmon to turn this side into a quick but nutritious main meal.
Where I live there are lots of little convenience shops to buy extra food staples without having to go to a huge supermarket, but the problem with this is that sometimes the selection leaves a little to be desired. No fresh dill anywhere, I literally tried about 3 stores. So this recipe is using dried dill (which still packs a good bit of flavour), but you can substitute it for fresh if you are lucky enough to have some.
The great thing about this meal is there is a real minimal amount of prep to do. The only part that requires any cooking is the lentils, which literally take just over five minutes in a pan with the other fresh ingredients. This dish is tasty hot or cold, so can be made ahead too.
Lentils – Best for fibre and protein
I know lentils aren’t exactly everyones favourite, on their own I suppose they are a bit bland. So using some fresh herbs and infusing them with sauteed onions does the trick. Lentils are such a great source of protein and fibre, plus a nice lentil salad mix makes a change from serving your meal with rice/quinoa.
I also forgot just how nice of a herb dill is, it’s got such a lovely mild flavour that compliments fish perfectly. This is a real spring-time meal, gone are the days of hearty winter stews. It’s time to get creative with salads, which I love. Dill is definitely a new favourite of mine.
I made this lentil salad for my boyfriend and I earlier in the week and we both committed to keeping the health streak going until the weekend. We each have a huge foil-wrapped italian easter egg staring at us in the dining room though. The resolve is strong, well at least until Friday!
We’ve both let the healthy diet slip a bit over the weekend just gone. With Easter you can’t help but load up on hot cross buns & chocolate. Not only that but our friends love the novelty of not having to get up for work on Easter Monday. So perhaps a few too many beers were had on Sunday night (which obviously meant a trip to the fish & chip shop the next day, god it gets worse!). So I was super glad to load up on this nutritious meal.
Salmon & Lentil Salad With Dill & Lemon
A quick to make, fresh tasting salad. Serve with peppery rocket.
- 1 tin Brown lentils
- 1 Onion
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 tsp Dried dill
- 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
- 1 Lemon
- Salt & pepper
- 1 stick Celery
- 1 tbsp Capers
- 150 grams Smoked salmon
- 1 Handful Rocket
- Cherry tomatoes
Chop the onion into small cubes. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onions over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Add the dill to the pan and continue to heat for 1 minute.
Drain and rinse the lentils well under a running tap, then add them to the pan. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes then take off the heat.
Cut the lemon in half and squeeze. Drizzle the juice over the lentils. Then mix in the greek yoghurt.
Chop the celery and capers into small pieces. Mix into the lentils.
Taste and season with salt & pepper. Add more dill if you desire.
Plate up in two portions. Add a side of peppery rocket and smoked salmon. I also added some salad ingredients like cherry tomatoes and cucumber. Serve with a lemon twist.
The lentil mix can be kept in the fridge and served cold too.
In case you are wondering what the topping on the salmon is, I had some left over honey & mustard dressing which complimented really well too.