Gnocchi with morel sauce
900g potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
2-3 tbsp spelt flour
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
300g fresh morels, sliced
150g crème fraîche
Salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water until tender. Drain and mash or rice the potatoes.
Turn out the mash onto a work surface, season with a pinch of salt and white pepper and add the herbs. Slowly add the flour in batches, kneading gently by folding the edges of the dough into the centre and pressing down lightly before sprinkling in each further addition of flour, until the dough is soft.
Roll the dough into a long sausage and cut the sausage into 3cm pieces. Press each piece of dough against the back of a fork so that it curves slightly and the prongs leave indentations.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add a few drops of olive oil and the gnocchi. Cook for a minute, or until the gnocchi rises to the surface. Remove from the pan, plunge into a bowl of cold water and drain.
Heat the butter and the remainder of the olive oil together in a frying pan until melted. Cook the shallot and garlic until just softened. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for five minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraiche. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper, add the gnocchi and gently toss together. Serve with a green salad.
Golden beetroot and blood orange salad
For the dressing:
2 tbsp Red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Freshly squeezed orange juice
Grated zest of half an orange
3 tbsp Olive oil
Half a tsp of brown sugar
Pinch of salt and freshly milled pepper
For the salad:
450g Fresh golden beets
50g Walnut halves
3 Blood oranges
1 Large head of chicory
4 Spring onions
2 Colourful apples
Put all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar and shake well until blended.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/GM6. Put the beets in a roasting tin with half an inch of water in the bottom. Cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes, so they are tender when pierced with a knife.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins, top and tail then and slice into rounds. Toss them in a little dressing. With a sharp knife, trim the top and bottom of each orange, pare off the rest of the peel and pith and slice thinly.
Core and quarter the apples and cut into thin slices. Thinly slice the spring onions. Cut the stalk end from the chicory and discard the outer leaves.
Separate the leaves and arrange in a salad bowl and then add the other salad ingredients. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and garnish with the walnuts.
Fennels are a great source of fibre, vitamin C, folate and potassium and contain some very powerful antioxidants that have cancer preventing properties. If you’re not sure how to use them, here is my recipe suggestion for a meal, which I love to cook for my family:
Pork chops with fennel, apple and walnuts
4 Pork chops
Zest and juice 1 lemon
1 tsp Fennel seeds
Drizzle of olive oil
1 Large fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 Apple, cored and sliced
1 Red onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp Walnut pieces
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp Wholegrain mustard
Splash of white wine vinegar
Rub the pork with the lemon zest and fennel seeds, then heat the oil in frying pan. Brown the chops for 3-4 mins on each side, then remove from the heat. Pour over half the lemon juice, season, then leave to rest . Mix together the yogurt, mustard and vinegar. Add the fennel, apple, onion and walnuts and toss together. Season with black pepper and add the remaining lemon juice to taste. Serve the pork on the fennel mixture.
Black Kale and Feta Tabbouleh (serves 4)
100g Bulgar wheat
100g Black kale
Large bunch mint, roughly chopped
4 Spring onions, sliced
½ Cucumber, diced
4 Tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
Half tsp cinnamon
Half tsp allspice
4 tbsp Olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
100g Feta cheese, crumbled
4 Baby Gem lettuces, leaves separated, to serve
Put the bulgar wheat into a heatproof bowl and just cover with boiling water, then cover with cling film and set aside for 10-15 mins until tender. Put the kale in a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Stir the kale, mint, spring onions, cucumber and tomatoes through the bulgar wheat. Season with the cinnamon and allspice, then dress with the olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Scatter over the lemon zest and feta. Scoop the salad onto leaves of Baby Gem lettuce.
Potatoes have been given a rough deal and lumped together with refined carbohydrate foods such as white pasta, bread and cereals. In fact they contain much less carbohydrate than these foods and a lot more fibre so they are much lower in calories. In my view they should count as a vegetable and not a starchy carbohydrate as depicted by the eatwell plate. In fact, if you cook a potato and then allow it to cool much of the carbohydrate turns into resistant starch which is a type of fibre and passes through the body, this both lowers the calorie count and has health benefits for the gut.
On top of all this potatoes as a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin and pantothenic acid. Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals.
Easy homemade chips –serves 4-6 people
6 large floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, King Edward, Desirée
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp celery salt
Heat oven to 200C/gas 6. Scrub the potatoes but leave the skin on and cut them into long chip shapes – the thickness you do is entirely up to you, though the width of your finger is ideal. Rinse under the cold tap and pat dry with a tea towel.
Spread the chips on a large non-stick baking tray and toss with oil and celery salt. Lie them flat in a single layer – use two trays rather than overcrowd one. Roast for 45-50 mins, turning now and then. When cooked they should be golden brown and crisp with a light fluffy centre.
Cauliflower cheese with spinach and walnuts
Cauliflowers are an excellent source of potassium and provide other minerals including phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. On the vitamin front they provide vitamins C and E and some B vitamins including folate
1 cauliflower, trimmed and cut into chunks
200g baby leaf spinach
200g soft cheese
2 tsp Dijon mustard
100g feta, crumbled
50g walnut pieces
1-2 tbsp grated Cheddar
1 large tomato, sliced
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the cauliflower and cook for about 8 minutes until tender. For the last minute, add the spinach, then drain, and return the cauliflower and spinach to the pan.
Mix the soft cheese and mustard with the cauliflower, then stir in the feta. Season with plenty of pepper. Pour the mixture into a shallow gratin dish. Scatter the walnuts on top, then cover with the cheddar and slices of tomato. Place under a preheated hot grill for 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Spinach and chickpea gratin
4 slices wholemeal bread
1 tbsp olive oil
4 small red onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
400g tin chickpeas, drained
300ml vegetable stock
300g crème fraiche
4 large tomatoes, sliced
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
50g toasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Place the bread slices into a food processor and whizz until you have breadcrumbs.
Wash the spinach and place in a pan with just the water clinging to its leaves. Cover and steam for 2–3 minutes until the leaves have wilted. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then stir in the flour. Add the chickpeas, stock and crème fraiche to the pan, season to taste and stir to warm through. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute before transferring to a ovenproof dish. Arrange the sliced tomatoes over the top and then scatter over the grated Parmesan, pine nuts and breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is golden and crunchy.
Drizzle of olive oil
4 spring onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300g Portobello mushrooms, chopped
150ml vegetable stock
Generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp soured cream
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and soften the onion for about 5 mins. Add the garlic and paprika, then cook for 1 minute more. Add mushrooms and cook on a high heat, stirring often, for about 5 mins. Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, bubble for 5 mins until the sauce thickens, then turn off the heat and stir through the soured cream. Serve with brown basmati rice.
Moroccan jewelled baked aubergine
Aubergines contain plenty of fibre, the type that is able to boost the friendly bacteria in the gut and keep it healthy as well as improving immunity. The dark purple skin contains a powerful antioxidant called nasusin, which can protect cells against damage from pollutants.
Per portion 68 cals, 2g fat (0.5g saturated), 0.2g salt
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
4 aubergines, thinly sliced lengthways
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls each of mint and parsley, chopped
100g pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Place the aubergine slices on a baking tray. Lightly score the top side flesh of each slice, smear with the crushed garlic and lemon zest, drizzle with the olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with the lemon juice and remaining oil and scatter over the mint, parsley and pomegranate seeds.
Aubergine and tomato gratin
The tastiest aubergines are young and firm – about 2-3 inches in diameter, with a shiny smooth skin and a fresh green cap and stem. Avoid larger, older aubergines as then can taste woody and bitter. Aubergines are easy to cook with, no need to peel or deseed, just slice. They are also extremely low in calories, each one is only about 45 kcal, but avoid frying them as they have an incredible capacity to soak up oil, this recipe grills them, which keeps the fat content to a minimum. The chickpeas are a good source of manganese (needed for the production of some enzymes and hormones) as well as providing iron, folate and vitamin E.
Per portion: 432 kcal, 22g fat, 6g protein, 50g carbohydrate
- 1 aubergine, cut into 1cm thick slices
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced
- 4 tbsp. thick hummus or chickpea pate
- 1 small tub of fresh cheese sauce
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Crush the garlic into the olive oil using a pestle and mortar. Place the aubergine slices on a grill rack, season, brush with half of the garlic mixture and place under the grill for 8 minutes until golden. Add the slices of tomato to the grill rack, turnover the aubergine slices and place on top of the tomato. Brush with a little more garlic oil and grill for another 8 minutes. Arrange the aubergine slices into a shallow heatproof dish and dot with the hummus or chickpea pate. Arrange the tomato slices on top and then repeat with another layer of aubergines and tomato. Heat the cheese sauce in a pan and pour over the aubergines and tomatoes, sprinkle with the Parmesan and place under the grill for 5 minutes. Serve with a green salad.
Spinach and chickpea gratin
Spinach contains a number of valuable nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, potassium, iron and calcium (although the latter two are not very well absorbed). It is also a rich source of an antioxidant known as lutein which is important for eye health and may help to protect against cancer. Kids and spinach don’t always work well, but this is a tasty way to get them to eat it! The chickpeas are a good source of manganese (needed for the production of some enzymes and hormones) as well as providing iron, folate and vitamin E.
Per portion: 527 kcal, 20g fat, 25g protein, 53g carbohydrate
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 400g can of chickpeas, drained
- 4 red onions, roughly chopped
- 4 large tomatoes, sliced
- 2 clove of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp. plain flour
- 450g spinach
- 300ml vegetable stock
- 300g half fat crème fraiche
- 90g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 50g fresh breadcrumbs
- Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic and leave to cook gently for 10 minutes until soft and then stir in the flour. Meanwhile, wash the spinach and steam in a covered pan for 2-3 minutes until the leaves have wilted. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Add the chickpeas, stock and crème fraiche to the pan, season and bring to the boil. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute and then transfer everything to a large baking tray. Arrange the slices tomatoes over the top and then sprinkle with the grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes.
Pomegranates have reached superfood status owing to their high content of antioxidants. Vitamin C and beta-carotene are provided by the tomatoes and pepper, the pine nut are a rich source of zinc and olives provide healthy fats and vitamin E, everything you need for super immunity!
Per portion: 450 kcal, 15g protein, 20g fat, 50g carbohydrat e
- 125g Mediterranean flavoured couscous
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow pepper
- 125g frozen peas
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 1 apple, peeled, grated
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 black pitted olives, halved
- 25g pine nuts
- 100g feta or goat’s cheese, diced
- Fresh parsley, chopped
Make up the couscous according to the packet instructions. Allow to cool and then fluff with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and toss gently together. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.
Roasted vegetable delight
Per portion: 276 kcal, 13g protein, 10g fat, 28g carbohydrate
- 100g fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese
- 1 small butternut squash, seeds removed, chopped into large pieces
- 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed, cut into large chunks
- 2 courgettes, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 leek, outer leaves removed, sliced into bite-sized chunks
- 2 carrots, sliced into bite-sized chunks
- 4 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- A handful of rocket
- A handful of watercress
- ½ a ripe avocado, stone removed, sliced
- Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Put all the vegetables into a roasting tray. Sprinkle over olive oil and put into the oven roast for about 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft – turning occasionally, to ensure even cooking. When roasted, season with some freshly ground black pepper. Serve over the salad leaves, and place slices of the mozzarella and avocado on top, finally drizzling with the lemon juice and a dash olive oil.
Braised chicory with walnuts
Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for good mental health. They also provide appreciable amounts of vitamin B6 and selenium, which can help to decrease tiredness and anxiety. Another key mood-related nutrient is folate, which is provide by chicory. Depression is a common symptom of folate deficiency and many people experiencing depressive behaviour have been found to be folate deficient. Increasing the consumption of folate rich foods or taking a folic acid supplement can alter, and in some cases, completely eliminate mood swings and depressive behaviour.
Per portion: 348 kcal, 9g protein, 20g fat, 27g carbohydrate
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 tbsp. white wine
- 4 heads of chicory, trimmed and halved lengthways
- 1 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
- Few sprigs of thyme
- 4 tbsp. fresh breadcrumbs
- 4 tbsp. walnut pieces
- 40g crumbled Stilton
- Fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Place the chicory into a greased shallow baking dish in a single layer, cut sides up. Whisk the oil and wine together, pour over the chicory and add garlic and thyme, cover with foil and cook for 1 hour. Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs with the walnuts, cheese and parsley. When the chicory is cooked, drain off the liquid and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the chicory. Bake for a further 15 minutes.
Spinach and ricotta lasagne
We all know spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables we can eat, bursting with vitamins, mineraks and antioxidants. A pinch of nutmeg enhances the subtle flavours of the spinach and the ricotta, and the pine nuts add crunch and are an excellent source of zinc needed for growth.
Per portion: 464 kcal, 22g protein, 28g fat, 32g carbohydrate
- 850ml semi-skimmed milk
- 50g olive oil spread
- 50g plain flour
- 1 bay leaf
- 60g grated Parmesan
- 600g spinach
- 225g ricotta
- 12 lasagne sheets (ready to cook)
- 50g pine nuts, toasted
- Halt a tsp. of nutmeg powder
- 100g blue crumbly cheese
- 100g grated Mozzarella
Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Place the milk, butter, flour and bay leaf in a saucepan, season, and whisk together over a medium heat continually until it comes to simmering point and has thickened. Turn the heat down to its lowest possible setting and allow the sauce to cook gently for 5 minutes. Then, stir in most (50g) of the Parmesan, then remove it from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
Remove the stalks from the spinach, then wash the leaves thoroughly in 2 or 3 changes of cold water and shake them dry. Take a large saucepan, add a little butter and the spinach leaves. Place the pan over a medium heat, put a lid on and cook the spinach for about 2 minutes.
Drain the spinach in a colander and, when it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze it in your hands to get rid of excess liquid, then chop finely. Put it into a bowl, add the ricotta, 150ml of the sauce, season and add the nutmeg. Mix together and then fold in the crumbled blue cheese.
Assemble the lasagne by spreading a quarter of the sauce into the bottom of the dish then a third of the spinach mixture, followed by a scattering of toasted pine nuts and place sheets of pasta on top of this. Repeat the whole process, this time adding a third of the grated Mozzarella along with the pine nuts, then the lasagne sheets. Repeat again, finishing with a layer of pasta, the rest of the sauce and the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbling.
Snacks between meals should have a low glycaemic index, that way they won’t send blood sugar levels rocketing only to crash down again and leave you feeling even hungrier. This delicious olive dip is high in monounsaturated fat, which is good for blood cholesterol. Olives are also a good source of vitamin E, which acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body, protecting against diseases like cancer and heart disease. Serve with vegetable sticks or warm, griddled flatbread.
Per portion: 108 kcal, 1g protein, 10g fat, 5g carbohydrate
- 250g pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- ½ red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
Steep the olives in a bowl in freshly boiled water for 1 minute. Drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the tomato, garlic, onion and tomato puree and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the paprika, cayenne pepper, olives and 3 tbsp of water. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the mixture thickens. Chill before serving.
Quick and Easy
Feta and pommegranate couscous
Pommegranates have achieved superfood status and their tangy sweet flavour works just as well in savoury as sweet dishes. Pommegranates have three times the antioxidant power of red wine and green tea, which are able to ‘mop up’ damaging free radicals generated by a poor diet, pollution and cigarette smoke and give good protection against heart disease and other illnesses. The pumpkin seeds and walnuts are a good source of essential fatty acids, including omega 3, further boosting this dish’s heart health properties.
Per portion: 495 kcal, 11g protein, 25g fat, 43g carbohydrate
- 125g couscous
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 150g ready prepared pomegranate seeds
- 50g walnut pieces
- 1 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
- 0g baby spinach
- 150g feta, diced
- 25g black pitted olives, halved
Put the couscous into a bowl and cover with 150ml boiling water. Cover with cling film and leave to stand for 5 minutes. When ready, fluff with a fork and stir in the lemon juice, oil and black pepper. When cool, add the pomegranate seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds spinach, feta and olives.