My allotment is really coming alive lately, so to use up my glut of berries here is my tried & tested strawberry & peanut butter flapjack recipe. A match made in heaven.
Seasonal Eating – Strawberries
Seasonal eating is something that I am passionate about. It is one of the best things I have learnt from growing my own produce. Over the years I have become familiar with what crops will ripen and when. So now that the sun has started warming our bones the strawberries are out. It’s a no brainer that this is the best time of year to eat them. You just try to find strawberries in the winter, they’re practically anaemic. For top flavour it pays off to follow the seasons.
Strawberry & Peanut Butter Flapjacks
I only ever make these flapjacks when my strawberry patch is producing more than I can manage (which is like, every year). I have so many to use up that I simply can’t get through them all otherwise! There is something about a homegrown strawberry that is just that little bit nicer than shop bought. For one the taste is far more intense. What’s more is that they pair perfectly with a big dollop of peanut butter in this recipe.
These flapjacks are rustic, to say the least. They taste divine when warm & fresh out of the oven. Beware, though, they are mega crumbly, so with this in mind you might want to put them in the fridge before you slice them up as it helps keep them from turning into granola!
Make sure you fold in the strawberries gently to stop them breaking up. Also, to add that extra bit of texture and sweetness I cut up medjool dates and add them to the mix. However, you can jazz this up with other additions if you prefer. Raisins or chocolate chips would work really well too.
Want to Vegan-ize?
This recipe can easily be made vegan friendly:
- Sub the butter for coconut oil
- Sub the honey for maple syrup
As I write this post up I am finishing one of these bad boys off with a cup of coffee, perfect.
Strawberry & Peanut Butter Flapjacks
Delicious rustic flapjacks, dotted with fresh strawberries and medjool dates.
- 3 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Peanut butter
- 1 Tsbp Honey
- 1 Tsbp Maple syrup
- 3 Medjool dates, chopped
- 2 Cups Oats
- 1 Cup Chopped strawberries
Set you oven to 180 degrees.
Line a baking tray with non stick parchment paper.
In a pan, add the butter, peanut butter, honey & maple syrup. Heat on medium-low for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined.
In a bowl, combine the oats together with the dates and butter mixture. Once combined, stir in the strawberry chunks gently.
Tip the mixture into the baking tray, smoothing out into the edges.
Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes. They are ready once the top begins to turn a golden brown.
Leave to cool in the tray. These flapjacks are crumbly, so would benefit from being cooled in a fridge before slicing. Also great warm if you don't mind the mess!
Tortilla Pizza Base – A Reduced Calorie Alternative
Who doesn’t love pizza? Although it’s not always the healthiest option, so when you’re craving some glorious cheesy goodness why not try a skinny tortilla pizza instead? Tortillas double up as a great pizza base alternative, plus they are extra crispy.
This is probably one of my favourite ways to use tortillas in cooking. It was something a friend recommended to me ages ago and ever since I have always kept a pack in the freezer. If you are trying to cut back on calories but still enjoy what you eat, you will love this recipe.
What About The Calories?
That is saving you a huge 234 calories! Enough to allow you that Kitkat chunky for dessert, right? To be honest, I am a terrible calorie counter, having not been on a diet for years. I’d recommend trying to change the way you act about your eating as a whole, rather than have to do diets. However, if you are on a plan and calories are important then this is a good incentive to make the swap to a skinny tortilla pizza.
Feeling sorry for myself the day after a boozy work party, a skinny tortilla pizza was the comfort food I totally needed. I made two varieties using what I had available in the fridge, but you can really go all out and add whatever toppings you like. Bear in mind though they can add tonnes of calories so try to keep it light!
As I usually order a thin base it’s right up my street to use tortillas. If you’re a deep-pan kinda guy, obviously, this is not going to be like your Domino’s or Papa Johns but it’s still a worthy alternative.
Preparing this and some sides to eat al-fresco yesterday near enough killed me (did I mention how hungover I was?). In the usual way though, this is an easy one to put together. No faffing around making pizza dough or buying pre-made pizza bases that are always a little bit cardboard-y! I have put the recipe below but left the toppings up to you (although you can see at the bottom what I used to make mine).
Skinny Tortilla Pizza's
A basic recipe for a lighter tortilla pizza. A versatile recipe, invent your own toppings!
- 2 Tortilla bases
- 1 tbsp Tomato puree or pesto
- 2/3 Cup Shredded cheese or mozzarrella slices
- Toppings of your choice
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Whilst waiting for the oven to warm up, set out your two tortilla bases on baking trays (or ideally pizza trays).
Spread the tomato puree/pesto evenly on the tortillas, coating the entire base but leaving a little around the edges.
Add the grated cheese/mozzarella & customize the rest of the ingredients to your liking! (My personal favourite is pesto, mozzarella and italian herbs!)
Once you have added all the toppings you desire, put the pizzas in the middle of a the pre-heated oven. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the base crisping up at the edges.
Cut into slices and enjoy.
For a bit of inspiration, here’s my two topping mixes:
Italian Pesto, Tomato & Mozzarella Skinny Pizza
- 1 Tbsp Pesto
- 1 Mozzarella ball, cut into round slices
- 1 Large vine tomato, cut into round slices
- Pinch of Italian herbs
Tomato, Caramelized Onion Cheese & Ham Skinny Pizza
- 1 Tbsp tomato puree
- 4 Slices quorn ham, chopped into chunks
- 2/3 Cup of mature caramlized onion cheddar, grated
- Pinch of salt & pepper
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.
It took me a while to jump onto the overnight oats bandwagon. I had seen loads of posts of people making these scrumptious looking breakfasts in fancy jars, but whenever I made it mine just seemed too runny – but don’t worry! I made the rookie error of using too much milk, in reality overnight oats require far less liquid than regular oats. If possible I always add in some chia seeds as they soak up the
milk, or if not a dollop of greek yoghurt makes a good addition and thickens it up too.
This recipe is one of my favourite weekday breakfasts, as the name suggests, you do have to make the effort to prep it the night before. But it’s so worth it when you, sleepy-eyed in the morning, make your way over to the fridge and remember breakfast is sat there waiting for you! You can heat it up if you like but I tend to just take it out the fridge and leave it on the side to get to room temp for a little while before tucking in.
This flavour combination is one I made up when I had a glut of apples and they were starting to go a bit soft and wrinkly, still good and flavoursome but not the sort you can crunch into as a snack. I peel and shred them into the mix, so if you have kids that are shy of eating their 5-a-day you can try this method to sneak in some fruit without them even noticing. My boyfriend is guilty of avoiding fruit but he always counts himself in when I offer to make overnight oats.
This recipe is full of fruit and goodness, plus the sprinkling of walnuts adds in some all important protein which will keep you going until your lunch.
Apple & Blueberry Walnut Crunch Overnight Oats
Fruity oats with a crunchy walnut topping, make ahead and enjoy for a tasty, hassle-free, breakfast.
- 1 Apple Any sweet variety
- 1 Cup Oats
- 1 tsp Chia Seeds
- 1 Cup Milk
- 2/3 Cup Blueberries Fresh or frozen
- 8 Walnuts chopped
- Honey or Maple Syrup To dress
1) Wash, peel and shred the apple, place the shredded apple into a bowl (you can make the mixture up in one large bowl and divide it into two at the end, or split all it into two bowls to start with).
2) Add in the oats to the bowl, then the chia seeds and the milk. Give the ingredients a good stir and make sure they are all combined. Split into two serving bowls.
3) Gently mix in the blueberries, I use frozen blueberries but use fresh if you prefer.
4) Chop the walnuts and sprinkle over the top.
5) Cover the bowls and leave in the fridge overnight. Leave the bowls out of the fridge for 30 mins before serving, or warm through in the microwave. Add more milk in if the oats have absorbed everything up and sweeten with honey or maple syrup.
Let me just start by saying breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, it also happens to be my favourite meal of the day. Nothing quite beats the sip of your first cup of coffee followed by a nice fruit filled breakfast. I am actually a sweet tooth breakfast person, so this ‘Shakshuka’ thing, I’ll be honest, despite the fact it sounds great and I’ve seen it many a time on café menus, it’s not what I would usually go for at breakfast time. But my boyfriend is the opposite, he loves all things savoury, plus we had some eggs in the fridge that just had to be used so I though, hey why not give it a go.
Shakshuka is something that we can thank the Arabs for introducing, it’s essentially eggs cooked over a rich and spicy tomato sauce. Which, let’s face it, is far more exciting then a greasy fried egg! Plus you get an injection of vitamin goodness from the veg based sauce. I’ve included my recipe below but you can add your own variations, some people prefer to use fresh tomatoes, and can be a great dish to cobble together with any leftover veg, it doesn’t necessarily have to use bell peppers. I think next time around I am going to add a spoon of harissa spices in to add that Tunusian zing I love!
It’s good to take your time over the base of the dish, I like to add my spices in to cook off and release the flavour before I put any of the tomatoes in, but you might have your own methods. It’s a great dish to improvise with as you just need a few spice cabinet staples, a tin of tomatoes and some veg to go with your eggs.
Shakshuka for two
1 tsbp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ red bell pepper, chopped into cubes
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp of tomato puree
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp smoked paprika
sprinkle of cayenne
few dashes of tabasco sauce (to taste)
salt and pepper
fresh cut parsley and spring onion to season
- Prepare all the ingredients. Peed and dice the onion, de-seed the pepper and chop into small cubes, peel and crush the garlic.
- Heat up 1 tsbp of olive oil in a medium sized pan and when hot add the onion, let it cook through for a few minutes until starting to lightly brown
- Add in the garlic and the diced pepper, let cook for 3-4 minutes or until the pepper begins to soften
- Stir in the cumin, paprika, smoked paprika and cayenne spices and leave to cook for a minute or so.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and puree and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes
- Season with salt and pepper, this is the time to add your tabasco if you’d like a bit more of a kick
- Once the sauce is tasting how you like it and has reduced down a bit it is time to add your eggs, crack each egg into a cup and then make a little well in the sauce to plop it into (I forgot to make a well and my eggs were all over the place). Cover the whole pan over (if you don’t have a lid like me I used a chopping board!)
- Leave this to simmer now for 10-15 minutes, dependent on whether you want your eggs runny or cooked through.
- Lift the lid and now it is time to dish up! Separate in half and serve on two plates, garnish with the fresh parsley and spring onion. I like to serve with a clob of bread to mop up the delicious tomatoey sauce at the bottom!
The shakshuka went down a treat with the other half and I’m definitely a convert, although I think I’d be more inclined to have it for lunch.
PS: I know it’s supposed to be served straight up from the pan! But hey, it was just us two at the table so I went all portion-up with it, sorry purists!Yum