Healthy Chicken Lime, Chilli, Ginger, Garlic and Soy Stir Fry

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So it’s that time of year when you want to get healthy but you don’t want to be eating salads everyday just yet, it’s just not quite warm enough. Stir fry is the perfect solution, not only does it provide you with a great opportunity for mindfulness whilst chopping your vegetables, but it takes very little time to cook.

Now I know you can buy those lovely little packs of prepacked vegetables from the supermarket and they make the purchase all that more exciting by adding a free sauce to the mix, but there are a couple of reasons why this may not be your healthiest option. Did you know cutting vegetables increases the surface area where oxidation (contact with air) and nutrient loss can occur. Also, cutting a vegetable is “damaging” to the plant and some of the plant’s nutrients get used up in an attempt to repair the damage. These nutrients will then not be available to you anymore when you consume the plant. SO if you buy a prepackaged stir fry you may be eating vegetables that which are not as nutritious as you would want. 

As for those little packets of sauce provided so generously by your supermarket, just have a quick look at the ingredients, particularly the sugar content…not so healthy now hey!

So here is my simple recipe for Healthy Chicken Lime, Chilli, Ginger, Garlic and Soy Stir Fry

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1 inch fresh ginger, grated

3 cloves garlic, chopped

juice of half a lime

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

pinch of dried chilli flakes

2 small chicken breasts diced

 

 

Grate the ginger on the side of the grater that you would grate nutmeg, use a knife and ease all the juice and pulp into the bowl with the diced chicken.

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Chop garlic into really small fine pieces, add to chicken, add a pinch of dried chilli flakes, the soy sauce and squeeze over the lime juice, mix well and set to one side for about 20 minutes. This will give you a chance to chop your vegetables.

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Now with stir frys the key is to have lots of vegetables and lots of variety of vegetables, otherwise you will be bored when eating and starving about an hour after dinner.

Start by adding a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to your wok and heat on a medium to high heat, add the chicken and keep moving it around the pan until it is almost cooked through.

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Add the vegetables and keep stirring, make sure you flip the bottom contents with the top regularly so you can ensure everything is piping hot and that the sauce mixes with the vegetables.

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Now I did buy fresh noodles from the supermarket and added these straight to the wok so they pick up the flavour of the chicken and the chicken. It will take a good 3-4 minutes with rapid tossing and turning to ensure they are cooked through.

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Once cooked through stir straight away. This is quick, healthy and moreish. Happy eating xx

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Bonfire Night Burgers

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Bonfire Night, that smoky, noisy night when the cold air makes you absolutely starving. So what do you feed yourself and the rowdy rabble of a family…

Homemade Burgers that’s what.

500g minced beef (don’t buy the lean stuff it won’t hold together)

2 slices of bread made into bread crumbs

sprig of rosemary

salt

pepper

half a small onion chopped finely

The bread will make breadcrumbs easiest if it’s dry, toasting it is a great way to make it crumbly and a food processor does the crumbing in seconds

Place beef in a bowl with salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and onion.

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Then using scissors cut your rosemary finely, just the leaves not the stem.

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make the mince into patties/burgers with your hands, try to make them as flat as possible so they will cook through evenly. Pour over a little olive oil so they do not stick to the griddle. Cook them on a medium to hot griddle or BBQ, or place on an oiled tray in the oven. They need to be cooked for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the meat is cooked through.

If you fancy jazzing up your burgers you can add some chilli or garlic to the mixture, or maybe a little chipotle paste. 

 

Garlic and Chilli Pumpkin Soup (Warning…This Soup Bites Back)

Garlic and Chilli Pumpkin Soup

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2 onions

2 sticks celery

2 cloves garlic

1 green finger chilli

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 quarter of a medium sized pumpkin

1.5 litres stock, veg or chicken

In the pestle and mortar grind cumin seeds, garlic and finger chilli to a paste.

Chop onions and celery finely. Remove the pumpkin skin and cut into tiny cubes.

In a pan heat 2 tablespoons of veg oil, sauté onions and celery with the paste from the pestle and mortar, keep stirring until glossy and add the pumpkin.

Cook for a few more minutes and add the stock, bring to a simmer and cover. Leave to cook until the pumpkin is soft. You can then either use a masher to thicken, blend in the food processor or eat as a chunkier soup.

My Husbands Favourite – Leek and Potato Soup

So if you ask my husband what soup he loves the most with no hesitation he says “Leek and Potato”. He associates it with family get togethers and particularly Christmas and I have found it is a sure fire way to ensure a smile from him after he has had a long day at work. Plus there is always some left over for lunch the next day.

Leek and Potato Soup

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2 -3 medium leeks

3-4 medium potatotes

2 onions

1 ½ pint veg stock or chicken stock

2-3 oz non-dairy marg

 

Chop all the veg. Make the onions small like for a pasta sauce, cube the potatoes and slice the leeks finely.

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Melt non-dairy marg in a saucepan and sauté the veg until you get that gorgeous leeky/oniony aroma. Whilst the veg is sauting add freshly ground black pepper and some salt. I use a salt with seaweed and herbs for a bit of variety. Keep stirring and tossing the veg so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

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Add stock,  and stir thoroughly, leave to simmer. When the potatoes feel soft, like they would feel for mash, you can either use a potato masher and thicken or blend in the food processor.

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Hey Baby It’s Chilly Out There….Homemade Tomato Soup

When it’s starting to get chilly outside but not quite stodgy fill up food time I always find that homemade soup gives me warmth and comfort without making me feel tired and sluggish.

There is a little bit of preparation that needs to be done with this recipe but it is soooo worth it and you can make up batches to freeze great for easy warming cups on Bonfire Night or Halloween or even, like I did last year, for a family Christmas get together.

Homemade Tomato Soup

3lbs ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped, read about how to peel tomatoes easily here

1 large onion chopped finely

1 clove garlic crushed

1 large potato peeled and grated

500ml- 725 ml of veg stock, you can use chicken stock if you are not veggie

1 tbsp tomato puree

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Sweat the onions in a little olive oil until soft and glossy

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. If you want to spice it up add 2 dried crushed chillies at this stage. And stir well.

Pour over the stock and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.

Grate the potato ( get a child or your other half to help with the cooking and do the grating with a food processor) and stir into the soup, simmer for another 15 minutes.

Give it a short blast in the blender and it’s ready to serve. If making a large batch blend in batches and reheat as needed.

Homemade Vegetable Stock

2 Litres of Vegetable Stock

2 Large Onions

2 Large Carrots

4 Stalks of Celery

2 Large Clove of garlic or 6 Small Ones

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Coarsely grate all the vegetables and garlic (use the food processor if you can it will save you fingers)

Put oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the grated ingredients, cover them and let sweat for about 5 minutes until they are soft

Then add 2 litres of boiling water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer without the lid for 5 minutes.

Strain the stock and then it can be used immediately or frozen in smaller batches for use in soups, stews and gravies later.

 

 

I Need a Pick Me Up So….Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

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1 small butternut Squash or the top half of a medium sized butternut squash

1 Medium white onion

2 Celery sticks

1 medium sized potato peeled

½  a green chilli

1 tsp sweet paprika powder

3 cloves of garlic

1 Sprig of rosemary

Large pinch of cumin seeds

1 ¾ pint veg stock

Olive oil

In your pestle and mortar put garlic, cumin seeds, rosemary leaves, sweet paprika, ½ green chilli and grind to a paste.

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Then cut all veg into small cubed pieces, imagine how tiny the veg is in tinned soup and aim for that

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Heat olive oil in pan, add the paste until it starts to scent the room, add the veg and cook for a couple of minutes until coated in the oil and paste.

Add the stock, you can use chicken if you prefer. Now I tend not to add salt as stock cubes can be quite salty but adjust it to your taste and add some freshly ground black pepper, leave to simmer for a minimum of 45 minutes or until the veggies starts to soften.

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At this into you can either whizz it in the blender or eat it as a broth with veg or do as I do and use a potato masher to mash some of the veg so you have a slightly thicker broth, the choice is yours.

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Lentil and Squash Veggie Shepherds Pie

The trick to this recipe is the fine chopping so put on some good music and treat it as meditation/relaxation time as you chop and dice.

The base of this dish can be used for pies, pasties and just as a base for a shepherd’s pie with mash. As our days get cooler its nice to be able to have a warming and filling dish with multi purposes so we can decide what we feel like.

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Lentil and Squash Filling

1 tbsp Olive Oil

1 small Onion finely chopped

1 Celery Stick finely chopped

1 Carrot finely chopped

1 Garlic Clove finely chopped

100g green or brown lentils

300ml Stock I use veg stock but you may want to use chicken if you are not a veggie

250g Butternut Squash 1 cm diced

1 Bay Leaf

2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

2 tsp English Mustard

Salt and Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pan,  add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and some salt and pepper. I always add the onion to the oil before it is properly hot that way you dot burn the onion  but slowly sauté it.

Cook gently for 15 minutes until all the veg is soft and glossy.

Add the lentils and stock. Season well and add the bay leaf. Give the pan a really good stir and cover, let it simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Add the squash and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils and squash are tender, I tend to cook until you can squish the lentils between your fingers. If you think you have too much liquid in the pan take out a couple of spoonfuls of lentils mash them and add them back to the dish to thicken it.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar and mustard and decide if you want to add more seasoning.

You now have the base for shepherd’s pie, baked potato filling or make small pasties with some of the filling. Pasties are great as they can be frozen and taken to work to eat hot or cold.

How To Get I Really Love you From Hubby…Meatballs

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I text my husband whilst he was working and said “Meatballs for tea” his response is always the same…”I really Love you”. I really should cook this more often as it is a family favourite, even my Grandsons love it, but then again if it’s an occasional dish they appreciate it all the more.

450g minced beef

3 medium onions

2 tins chopped tomatoes

3 cloves garlic

3 dried chillies

Tomato puree

1 glass red wine

Mixed herbs

10-12 olives mixed colours

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Now as you can see from the picture the onions need to be cut so they are less than 1/2 a centimeter square in size. This may seem fiddly but it makes all the difference to pasta sauces as it gives them a thicker texture. I tend to use chopping herbs and vegetables as a sort of meditation, it’s a great task to do if your trying to be in the moment. About 1 1/2 onions needs to be added to the mince.

Chop garlic and chilli so they are a pulp, I prefer to chop rather than use the pestle and mortar ad I don’t like to loose the precious oils which add depth to the flavor of the dish. Pop a third of the onions and chill into the mince. Add salt and pepper and then form balls of mince with your hands, they need to be about 2 cm in diameter, if they are too big they will not cook evenly if they are too mall they will burn.

In a frying pan heat a small amount of olive oil, just to stop initial sticking, and brown the meatballs.  Have them on a medium to high heat and turn them occasionally. Put the oven on to 150 C and place a tin foil pocket ready in a backing tray so as the meatballs are browned they can be popped into the oven to stay warm until the sauce is ready.

In a large saucepan at about 2 tsp olive oil put on a medium heat and add the rest of the onions, you do not want them to brown, toss them gently in the oil until they start to look soft and glossy, then add 1 glass of good quality red wine. Let it gently simmer stirring occasionally untll the onions look like tiny shiny purple jewels in the pan.

In a large bowl put the tomatoes, add the remaining chilli, a pinch of mixed herbs salt and pepper. When the onions are lovely and shiny and purple, add the tomatoes. Gently simmer.

Chopped a mix of green and black olives into small pieces about the size of the cut onion. After 10 mins add the olives to the pan.

Remove meatballs from the oven and add them and all the juics caught in the foil pocket to the pan, stir gently ensuring all the meatballs are well coated in sauce. Simmer for about 30 mins.

The beauty of this dish is the longer you can leave it to simmer the tastier it is, unfortunately if I cook it whilst my family are home the aroma of the meatballs means they want them immediately.

Serve with spaghetti, or a pasta of your choice. You may like to serve with garlic bread but the dish is very filling on its own.