Monday, 29 December 2014

Green Kitchen Travels 'Sopa de Legumes Portuguese' with a Bacon and Chilli Flair

I was a happy sister when I received the Green Kitchen Travels cookbook for Christmas. What a beautiful book, full of wonderful traveling pictures and exciting simple recipes from around the world. For someone who rarely uses recipe books, it was very inspirational, and it's lovely to see a book with character and charm. This certainly doesn't mean I'm becoming GF, DF, Vegan or Vegetarian, but I'll stick to my motto of everything in moderation. I substituted a few things in the original recipe...beans for lentils, sage leaves for bay leaves, water for fresh turkey stock and cabbage for a chilli and bacon topping. 

Ingredients (serves 5-6 as a main)

for the soup -

- 3 potatoes (450g), peeled and chopped
- 1 small/medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 leeks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 bay leaves (or 10 fresh sage leaves as the original recipe requests)

- turkey stock (chicken or vegetable as a substitute)
- boiling water

- juice of 1 lemon

for the topping -

- 100g lentils
- 250g chopped bacon bits (I buy them already chopped from Lidl as they're cheap and easy)
- 1 chilli, deseeded and chopped

1. In a large saucepan start by frying the onion, garlic and leek in a little oil for a few minutes. Then add the chopped potatoes, carrot, and sweet potato. Stir for a few minutes and then cover the vegetables with 3/4 fresh stock and 1/4 boiling water (roughly 2 inches above the veggies); and finally add the bay leaves. 

2. Bring the soup to the boil with a lid on, then turn down the heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft (about 20/25 minutes). 

3. While the soup is cooking, boil the lentils in a saucepan according to the pack instructions. It doesn't matter if they're overcooked, as they'll get mixed into the soup anyway.

4. The lentils should cook quicker than the soup. When they are ready, drain and leave them to one side. Rinse the saucepan briefly and then use it to cook the bacon and chopped chilli. No oil is needed as the bacon will give off it's own. 

5. By this time, the vegetables should be soft and ready to be blitzed. Whack the soup mixture into a food processor (be careful as it'll be hot and might explode! Better to do it little by little) and blitz to form a smooth creamy consistency. Pour in the lemon juice and set aside. 

6. When the bacon is cooked (about 4 minutes), you can start to serve up. Simply spoon a little lentils and chilli bacon on top of the soup and finish off with chopped fresh parsley or coriander. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free - Date and Banana Flapjacks

A post that will hopefully make you feel even more festive the day before Christmas. If you're struggling with a few presents, why not cook these super quick flapjacks, wrap them up, and make someone smile tomorrow - there's still time! I found this recipe online a couple of months ago and have made a couple of batches of flapjacks since. Both of which were extremely delicious, super easy, and very quick.

Ingredients (makes 9 rectangles)

- 180g oats (gluten free if intolerant)
- 175g dates, chopped
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 80ml vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence

1. Start by turning your oven to 175°c. Mash the bananas well in a large bowl and then add the chopped dates and oil.

2. Next stir in the oats and vanilla essence, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes so that the oats absorb the oil.

3. Place the mixture into a suitable greased baking dish/tray (I used a rectangular glass one) and flatten it down. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until golden.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Sundried Tomato and Basil Houmous

This is a super easy recipe. I have used peanut butter as an alternative to tahini, as I feel it gives a smoother, softer flavour. Plus, peanut butter lasts for ages and is always stocked up in my lader.

Ingredients (makes one large ramekin)

 - 400g tin of soft chickpeas (I like to use TRS Asia Boiled Chickpeas) with 1/3 chickpea juice
- 140g sundried tomatoes, drained (from a jar)
- 2 tsp smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 chilli, deseeded
- 8 basil leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- poppy seeds to serve (optional)
- salt and pepper

1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or using a hand blender. 

2. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and a sprig of basil. 

Dangerous and Delicious Apricot Jam

A quick photo of the apricot jam I made with my mum - it's a dangerous batch as she broke her wrist falling from the tree. Recipe will be up soon!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Instagram Madness - Circles, Circles, Circles

Please have a look at my Instagram page - @hunting4health for some exciting food photography and recipe ideas. 

Easy Italian Baked Courgettes

If you like courgettes and Italian cooking, this is the recipe for you. Not only is it extremely easy, but tastes fresh, healthy and delicious. I like to eat these on their own, for a 'light' supper option, but they can also be accompanied with meat or fish; or as a starter for a dinner party. The great thing about this recipe is that you don't have to be exact with the'll taste good either way. 

Ingredients (serves 2)

- 2 courgettes, cut in half length ways

- 10 cherry or small tomatoes, cut in half
- a handful of pine nuts
- a handful of grated cheddar cheese (or any cheese)
- 6 basil leaves, chopped or torn into small pieces
- a dribble of olive oil
- salt and pepper

1. Start by turning the oven to 200°c. 

2. Once the courgettes have been cut in half, make a small triangular cut length ways down the centre to remove some of the seeds - in order to place your mixture on top. Some recipes will tell you to remove all the seeds when stuffing a courgette, or similar vegetable, however I feel this is a bit wasteful. 

3. Place the two courgette halves skin side down on a baking tray and dribble with a little sunflower or vegetable oil. Put them in the pre heated oven for 20 minutes to soften them.

4. While the courgettes are baking, you can begin to make the topping. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until combined. 

5. Once the courgettes have been in the oven for 20 minutes, remove them and pour your topping neatly over each half. Place back in the oven for a further 8 minutes and enjoy hot or cold. 

Add a few chilli flakes if you like things spicy.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Elderflower and Lemon Ice Cream

I made this ice cream (Belvoir Fruit Farms website) over the weekend and had to make it again today it was so delicious. It's very light and creamy, with a bit of zing; and tastes great with my carrot cake:

Ingredients (serves 6)

- 3 egg white
- 2 oz caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 7 tbsp elderflower cordial
- zest or peel of one lemon
- 300ml double cream

1. Start by separating the eggs into two bowl (one with whites and one with yolks).

2. Beat the egg whites until fluffy and then gradually add the sugar.

3. Next, lightly beat the egg yolks (until they start to get thick) and then mix in the elderflower cordial and lemon peel.

4. To finish, whip up the cream and fold the egg mixtures into it. 

5. The ice cream can either be placed into a tupperware and popped in the freezer overnight, or poured into an ice cream maker until set. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Amaretti, Almond and Chocolate Cake

This recipe is from and makes a great alternative birthday cake. It is absolutely delicious and slightly healthier than normal chocolate cake because it doesn't contain added flour. 

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

- 1 1/4 cup of amaretti biscuits (about 25 small ones)
- 3/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 a cup of unsalted butter, softened (about 100g)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 8 oz good quality chocolate, melted
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1. Start by preheating the oven to 180°c and greasing a 9" cake tin.

2. Place the amaretti biscuits and almonds in a food processor and whizz until a fine meal forms. A bit of crunch is good! Put this mixture into a bowl, stir in the cinnamon and set aside.

3. Heat a little water in a small saucepan. Put a bowl on top of the saucepan and make sure that it doesn't touch the water. Break the chocolate into the bowl and stir until it's melted. Leave this to cool while you finish the rest of the cake.

4. Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the eggs one at a time (with the motor running), and scrape down the sides with a spatular. 

5. Finally add the almond mixture and melted chocolate to the food processor, and stir in the vanilla essence. 

6. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. 

For the topping, I mixed melted chocolate with a little cream and icing sugar, but you can also dust it with coco powder. This cake is great with creme fraiche, yoghurt and fruit.

Strawberry and Mint Smoothie

Smoothies and juices are seriously easy, delicious and healthy. Any fruit and veg mixed together seems to taste amazing, so you can afford to be inventive.

Ingredients (serves 2)

- 1 banana, fresh or frozen (chopped into pieces and frozen for a few hours makes the drink nice and cold)
- 6 strawberries
- 1 orange
- 2 tbsp apple juice
- a few mint leaves

Mix everything up in a blender for a few minutes until completely combined. Add more apple juice if you want it to go further.

Homemade Rye Soda Bread with Turkish Inspired Broad Bean, Yoghurt and Dill Dip

This soda bread is super easy, and once you have all the ingredients, you'll be able to make it every week - saving yourself lots of pennies. No kneading or it takes very little time.

Ingredients for the Soda Bread (roughly 14 slices)

- 8oz rye flour or brown flour
- 4oz white flour or gluten free white flour
- 2oz oatmeal
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- half a 500ml natural yoghurt pot (250g), the rest filled with milk to the brim
- a handful of mixed seeds (like pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds - mixed inside or sprinkled on top)
- poppy seeds for sprinkling (optional)

1. Start by pre heating the oven to 205°c.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add the yoghurt and milk. Stir well until fully combined.

3. Pour the mixture into a large-ish greased loaf tin (I use a non-stick rubber one which doesn't need greasing), and cook at 205°c for 10 minutes.

4. After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 185°c and cook for a further 35 minutes. 

5. To check that the loaf is ready, take it out of the oven and tap it's top. If it's firm, remove it from the tin, and pat its bottom. If the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, its ready to cool down on a wire rack and serve as and when you want it. 

This dip is extremely easy, as well as being super healthy. Frozen broad beans are sold in most supermarkets and taste pretty good too. Great with toasted soda bread!

Broad Bean, Yoghurt and Dill Dip (serves 4)

- 250g thick yoghurt
- a handful of broad beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- a few sprigs of dill, chopped

1. Simply cook your broad beans in boiling water until soft, then cool them down with cold water.

2. Put the yoghurt into a bowl and sprinkle with the cold broad beans. Pour over the olive oil, top with chopped dill and finish off with salt and pepper. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Broad Bean, Coriander and Chilli Houmous Dip

This morning was spent picking runner beans from my mum's vegetable garden, and I thought I ought to make something delicious for lunch. I love it when you get half way through making something, only to realise that you don't have all the ingredients you want, because it calls for a little experimentation. From this slight blip, I concocted a new, exciting, and very healthy dip recipe. This has a kick, so if you're susceptible to spice, add less chilli

 Ingredients (makes two pots)

- 400g tin soft boiled chickpeas (I use TRS Boiled Chick Peas) with 2/3 chickpea water
- 2 handfuls of cooked broad beans (with skins)
- 1/2 a large clove of garlic
- juice of half lemon
- juice of half a lime 
- 1/2 a fresh chilli
- a handful of fresh coriander (stalks included)
- a good glug of olive oil
- pepper

1. Place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blitz for a few minutes.

2. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more olive oil or lemon juice.

3. Sprinkle with flaked almonds, linseeds or poppy seeds to make it look pretty and serve how you wish. I'd like to try this smothered on pumpernickle bread and topped with smoked salmon.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

My New Granola Recipe - How to Make, Store and Use it!

It's so satisfying making your own granola, and of course, much healthier! Even brands like Dorset Cereals pack their cereal and granola with added sugar (often 15%), and they cost a fortune for what is essentially: oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruit. Once you've made your own, you won't want it any other way. If you're a foodie, you should find all the ingredients in your cupboard, and if not, try and be creative.

Ingredients (makes about 750g)

- 300g plain oats
- 50g quinoa (optional)
- 100g pumpkin seeds
- 170g mixed whole nuts
- 25g sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp linseeds
- 175g maple syrup
- 2 tbsp honey (optional)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp if you love cinnamon)

1. Turn the oven to 150°c. Start by mixing all the ingredients together in a large bowl. 

2. Once everything is combined, divide the mixture in two. Place half onto a big baking tray and into the oven for 40-60 minutes.

3. With the other half of the mixture, you can be a bit inventive. I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ground ginger. Another alternative is to add vanilla extract or almond extract.

4. Pour the mixture onto another baking tray and put it in the oven. Cook both batches of granola for roughly 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and crunchy. After removing the trays from the oven, bunch the mixture together and leave them to cool thoroughly (uncovered for at least a few hours). This will help create clusters. 

This granola should keep fresh for a month or so in an air-tight container, but no doubt it'll be eaten up quickly! Add some raisins, banana chips or dried fruit to jazz it up, or layer it with desiccated coconut.

3 quick ways to use it:

     With milk or yoghurt for breakfast.

Layered up with yoghurt and fruit as breakfast or pudding.

Sprinkled on top of a delicious salad. 

Or as a light snack...

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Spring Salads with a Variety of Dressings

Quinoa and Barley Salad with Ratatouille and Roasted Nuts

Ratatouille is so simple to make, and I love putting it in salads. Add it to quinoa or barley, mix in some chopped coriander and a few squeezes of lemon juice, then top it with roasted nuts for a yummy alternative to standard salads. 

Cucumber and Pomegranate Salad with Mixed Nuts and Seeds

Pomegranates add that extra sweetness to salads, and if matched with a sour lemon dressing, you can't go wrong. Mix 2 tsp mayonnaise with 2 tsp dijon mustard, then add the juice or half a small lemon. Gradually pour in good quality olive oil until it reaches a good consistency.

Seafood Salad with Chicory, Grapes, Tomatoes and Fresh Coriander

Seafood mixes are a great way to bulk up salads and make them look and taste exotic. Use the dressing mentioned above, and add some honey to sweeten it up a little.

Mushroom and Pomegranate Salad with an Assortment of Nuts

Match the sweet pomegranate seeds with a balsamic dressing. Shake up 4 tbsp good quality olive oil with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, half a garlic clove (crushed), 1 tsp dijon mustard, a few dashes of worcester sauce and a pinch of sugar in a jam jar. If you shake it well, the ingredients won't separate. Add another sprinkle of vinegar if you want it extra tangy.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Rhubarb and Almond Cake


Just nipped out to get some rhubarb from the garden and made two of these delicious rhubarb and almond cakes. I adapted the original recipe ( a little, to make two delightfully moist and almondy cakes.

Ingredients (makes 16 slices) 

- for the cake

- 300g soft brown sugar
- 150 ml sunflower, or vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate or soda
- 225 ml milk
- 200g rhubarb, chopped
- 50g ground almonds

- for the topping

- 25g ground almonds
- 50g flaked almonds
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp butter

1. Heat the oven to 180°c and prepare two similar sized cake dishes, either round or square. If you are using glass dishes there is no need to grease them, but cake tins will need to be greased with butter or greaseproof paper.

2. In a mixer, beat the sugar, egg, vanilla essence and oil. Then add the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Gradually pour in the milk until smooth, finishing off with the ground almonds. 

3. Take the knife out of the mixer and fold in the chopped rhubarb. Once everything is combined, separate the mix evenly between the two dishes.

4. For the topping, stir the almonds and sugar together and rub the butter in with your fingers. Share the topping over your two cakes and pop them in the oven for 35 minutes.

Serve with yoghurt, creme fraiche, or soured cream. Hot or cold, this is a delicious dessert or afternoon tea snack.

Rhubarb is in season between April and September. It can be kept for up to two weeks in the fridge, and freezes well when cooked. An ideal purchase for you over the next few months!

Easter Energy Balls

Happy Easter everyone! This is a few days late but we've had a busy weekend. I wanted to make a healthy alternative to Easter eggs as I knew we would be eating far too much chocolate over the Easter break. I had previously been put off by energy ball recipes that add honey, or a similar substitute. Knowing that dried fruit contains lots of natural sugar and goodness, I decided that no extra sweetener should be added, and winged my ingredients. Great as a snack or energy boost, it's amazing what you can make from very little.

Ingredients (makes 30 balls)

1st batch -

- 50g almonds
- 70g dates
- 80g prunes

2nd batch - 

- 100g prunes
- 70g figs
- 30g flaxseed (check out my flaxseed post to make your own)
- 10g chocolate (optional)

- desiccated coconut to coat

1. For the first batch, start by whizzing up the almonds in a food processor until they resemble large breadcrumbs. Then add the prunes and dates. Blitz the mix for a minute or so and then shape it into small balls.

2. For the second batch, place all the ingredients in the food processor and mix until smooth and combined. Using your hands, roll the mixture into small balls.

3. Finally, place a tbsp of desiccated coconut onto a plate and coat some of the balls in it by rolling them on the plate.  

Now to decorate...

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Vegetarian Quiche with Goats Cheese and Tomatoes

Everyone seems to be scared of pastry, but it needn't be so daunting. It's one to wow the cavalry for sure. Quiche fillings are endless, so it's a great thing to try when you have a mish mash of ingredients in the fridge; and we all know using up leftovers will save the pennies. For those meat lovers, add some bacon bits or leftover roast chicken to the mix.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

for the pastry -

- 225g plain flour
- 100g butter from the fridge, cut into small pieces
- a pinch of salt
- 3-4 tbsp water

for the filling -

- 3 spring onions, chopped
- 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- one handful of mangetout
- 2 large broccoli florets, chopped
- 6 mushrooms, chopped

- 2 eggs
- 100g soured cream or single cream
- 60g milk
- 100g grated goats cheese, cheddar or parmesan
- pepper

1. Set the oven to 180°c and then start making the pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl, then add the salt and pieces of butter. Using your fingertips (your palms should be clean), rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and all the starch is mixed in. When adding the water, it is important to do it gradually so that the pastry isn't too wet. Once the pastry forms a ball, knead it for a minute in the bowl. This will also help pick up any excess pastry. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place it in the fridge for around 10-20 minutes. (If you are the organised type, you could prepare the pastry up to a day in advance).

2. While the pastry is resting, you can get on with the filling. Add a little sunflower oil to a frying pan and brown the spring onions. After a few minutes, put in all the other vegetables, apart from the mushrooms (as they need less time to cook). Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes on a medium/high heat.

3. Leave the vegetables on a low heat and begin to blind bake your pastry. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry. Place it over a suitable shallow dish and gently cut the excess bits off with a pair of scissors. (The excess can be used to make a smaller tart or saved for another occasion). You will need some baking parchment to separate the pastry from your blind baking beans (as shown below). Cook the pastry in the oven for 10 minutes.

4. While the pastry is in the oven, add the mushrooms to the rest of the vegetables and cook for a few minutes.

5. In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk, soured cream, grated cheese of your choice and pepper. Then add the cooked vegetables to the mixture, and pour everything over the pastry once it had been blind baked.

6. Cook the quiche in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and delicious, and serve with a light salad.