Recipe: Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Salad

Ah, beetroot. My new favourite thing. I know I probably say that an awful lot when it comes to food, but I do think this is my absolute favourite. For now at least. I love the vibrant colour, the earthy yet slightly sweet taste, and how it goes so well with some of my most lovely ingredients. Pair it with black pudding, mix it up with goat’s cheese, use as a pizza topping, even whip it up into a brownie. Oh, and it makes the best ‘tomato’ sauce substitute I’ve tried, but more on that another day…

 photo Beetroot Black Pudding Salad 4_zpsh4lfhiuw.jpgThe only bad thing? Ringing your mum in a panic one weekend, thinking you have a serious medical issue. Then realising you’ve eaten beetroot six days out of seven…

This salad has become a bit of a go-to when we’re planning meals. It’s pretty quick, nice and light, but still filling. I’m finding it’s the perfect February balance between healthy and comforting.

 photo Beetroot Black Pudding Salad 3_zpsl2wknelb.jpg photo Beetroot Black Pudding Salad 1_zps6hgnzjpo.jpgIngredients (for 1)

  • 2 beetroot, either fresh or vac-packed
  • 50g goat’s cheese (or less if you want to be healthier)
  • 2 handfuls of salad leaves
  • Dressing (makes several servings) – 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon djion mustard
  • Optional – black pudding, green lentils, nuts (hazelnuts and walnuts work well)

If using fresh beetroot, wash, peel and chop into 2cm cubes. Drizzle with a teeny bit of oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes. If using vac-packed, chop, season (you may not need oil) and roast for 20-25 minutes. Mix together the dressing in a small jar; taste and adjust if you like. Cube the goats cheese.

Toss the roasted beetroot with the salad leaves, drizzle over a little dressing and scatter over the goat’s cheese and nuts. If you want to eat it cold, let the beetroot cool before adding it to the leaves (no one wants a wilted salad!). To add black pudding to the mix, simply cube and fry until crisp, and toss together with the beetroot. Green lentils are lovely warmed up with some of the dressing stirred through, and taste even better the next day. Basically, it’s a pretty versatile salad!

 photo Beetroot Black Pudding Salad 2_zpsxvm17aqr.jpgThis has fast become a favourite meal of ours, it’s so quick to make after work, doesn’t break the bank (you can often get 4 beets in a vac-pack for around 50p) and is just so tasty. I know beetroot is a bit of a ‘ew’ vegetable, so if you’re not sure about it, I’d recommend trying a different recipe first – I’ve got a great one scheduled for in a few weeks!

Are you a fan of beetroot? What’s your favourite salad recipe?

Healthy Eating: The Snack Edit

I’m not an overly snacky person, I just have very little self-control. You know the Pringles slogan “once you pop, you just can’t stop” – that sums up my relationship with just about every snack. It’s easier for me just to avoid snacks entirely.

 photo IMG_3601_zpstnrbwxmc.jpgHowever since living with W things have had to change slightly. As a Type 1 Diabetic snacks need to be on hand in case of low blood sugar. He also seems to be always hungry. And of course, if he is eating a biscuit, I want a biscuit. It doesn’t help that the OCD in me doesn’t like leaving an odd number of biscuits in the packet either…

As a compromise I’ve been searching for healthy snacks, something I can nibble on instead of feeling deprived.

 photo 2015-07-08 18.53.57_zps9vpfqugf.jpgSeeds are a great way of keeping me occupied – I’m a boredom eater (car journeys are the worst!), so as seeds take ages to eat they always seem to satisfy me. I’ve loved these mixes, which I was sent as part of a Ladbroke’s brain training kit (which you’ll hear more about soon). The slightly savoury ones are pretty addictive, but the dried-fruit-hater in me has discovered I love goji berries. Who knew?!

Filling up at mealtimes is also a good option as it really does prevent snacking, but I’ve found a breakfast option that also works really well as a mini-desert if I realllyyyy need it. Overnight Oats have become a BIG obsession for me since I started commuting, and now I’ve started sneaking spoonfuls just before bed too. So good. A whole post coming on overnight oats soon, I promise you.

 photo IMG_3602_zpsptievcq0.jpgNow, Nakd Bars*. I was sceptical about these as (1) the ingredients aren’t exactly my cup of tea, and (2) the flavours seem a little odd. That said this box of 18 is diminishing fairly quickly. They are pretty expensive in shops, in fact way out of my budget, however buying a box of 18 via Natural Balance Foods is a lot more affordable. I like the fact you can pick up multipacks too, including chocolate multipacks – I adore the mocha flavour! Healthy cereal bars (that are yummy too!) are so hard to find, I feel a little order coming on!

Pre-packaged options are all very well and good, but I also like whipping up some snacks of my own.

 photo 2015-07-18 18.16.38_zps5gj51qd1.jpgPopcorn is my current favourite, and in fact has been a favourite for several months. It’s easy to do a small bowl just for me, or a big bowl for sharing with friends. Not to mention alllllll the flavour combos you can make. I have kept it simple, just sprinkling with sugar. Add a bit of cinnamon if you’re feeling fancy. Grating over a square of dark chocolate is an easy way to get your fix. And if you’re feeling really naughty? Stir through toffee sauce and bake until crispy. Me and my sister shared a whole bowl of toffee popcorn over the Hunger Games (I’m late to the party!), it was far yummier than shop bought.

On the savoury side there is something I never thought I would find myself trying. Baked crispy chickpeas were definitely a good shout and, whilst I need to perfect the recipe, they certainly satisfied a savoury, crunchy, munchy craving. I covered mine with cajun spicing, but I’m sure virtually anything would work. Yum yum.

 photo 2015-07-18 20.27.51_zpsr0welb9i.jpgHealthy snacking has definitely added something extra to be diet, and I’m looking forward to taking these options to university in September (I definitely need to snack during a full day of lectures!).

What are your favourite healthy snacks?

Recipe: Cauliflower Pizza

Yep, the person who “doesn’t jump on foodie bandwagons” jumped on probably the biggest one of the last year. Admittedly I’m a little late to the party, but cauliflower pizza has been doing the rounds on most of the healthier food blogs.

 photo 2cc7c627-4994-4676-bfa0-ad9cf0fa3fc8_zpsvf0obofp.jpgEssentially it cuts out most of the carbs involved with a pizza, with the crust being made of cauliflower, egg and cheese. I was sceptical to say the least. One, I don’t like cauliflower. Two, I REALLY like pizza. Three, if I can’t have tomato on my pizza I’ll damn well have everything else as normal, thank you very much. But I had a lot of cauliflower left from my mac’n’cheese (no idea why I picked up the biggest one Morrison’s had) so decided to give it a go.

It wasn’t a bad decision. The pizza tasted pretty good. I could tell it wasn’t a normal pizza base, but it didn’t taste of cauliflower. I could pick it up no problem. It tasted fine. I actually enjoyed the ends of the crust. I didn’t spend the rest of the night feeling bloated. In a nutshell, I’d make it again.

 photo 45be56a3-6a1d-4290-b4e9-0c90d4dd4cb6_zpsvykur3wf.jpgIf you love pizza but hate the bloatedness it brings, are intolerant to flour, or just fancy eating less carbs, I honestly recommend giving this a go.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole cauliflower. Mine was missing around 5 florets, but it was a monster of a cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful of grated mozarella
  • 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan
  • Seasoning – Italian seasoning works really well here
  • Normal pizza toppings – I went for my trusty Pepper & Almond pesto, red chillies, chorizo and more mozarella

Now, this might be a low-carb pizza, but it takes pretty much the same amount of work as making a reugular pizza. I found it made hell of a lot more mess too…

 photo 860aa3a7-26a2-4d3f-8f47-78701b250a8b_zpsqrvbqb8x.jpg photo d158d1ca-35be-496b-a59f-7f8631893838_zpsjh2711i0.jpg photo 9558b367-935c-4c4c-9cb8-de63f6428002_zpsbogbqxya.jpgFirst up, blitz your cauliflower florets in a processor until you have ‘rice.’ Apparently you could also grate it, but I wouldn’t have the patience. Tip into a bowl, cover with cling-film and microwave for 3 minutes. Allow to cool (learn from my mistakes!), tip into a clean tea towel and wring out all of the moisture. I got a huge amount of water out of my cauliflower.

 photo 8897c228-bf27-4153-a2cb-6cded76af906_zpsvypvzmi6.jpg photo c7b23605-6bfe-421a-9fc2-b3dee843a371_zpsghbqitnu.jpg photo 7fa758e1-193e-4e99-b4e6-7ee078c83eaa_zpsvynnhzlo.jpgTip the dried cauliflower into a large bowl, check it’s cool (though if the squezing hasn’t burnt your hands you’re probably fine), and add the egg, cheese and seasoning. Mix well with your hands

Tip out onto a tray lined with greaseproof and pat into a pizza base shape. It looks impossibly crumbly but it will come together. Bake at 200C for 25 minutes, until golden brown and starting to crisp.

 photo 79535e87-def2-46af-bfc3-5ea112aeafe7_zpskbwb6w5b.jpg photo a950863a-acaa-4f6d-ad9f-f0748085308d_zpswptkffzg.jpgAdd your toppings and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes (again, learn from my mistakes. It falls apart if you try to slice straight away). Slice up and enjoy just as you would any pizza!

I’m planning on making mini bases and freezing at some point soon too – if I’m willing to make it again that says a LOT about a cauliflower recipe! PS: I’ve done a fair few cauliflower recipes recently. It may seem like some kind of sponsored series, but I assure you it’s not. I’m just forcing myself to try out more veg!
 photo 88c7b886-a54a-449e-a284-54712b08b39d_zps9qhqqkb6.jpg

Have your made a cauliflower pizza base before? What’s your favourite pizza topping?

 

Recipe: The Healthier Mac’n’Cheese

I loveeee Mac’nCheese. There’s just something so comforting about soft pasta, silky sauce, and an almost crunchy topping. Possibly mixed with bacon as per my boyfriend’s recipe, maybe with some spices added. I’m wanting to experiment with a fresh-chilli mac after the gorgeous side I scoffed from Mother Clucker. But it’s not the healthiest meal, and as a result it’s saved for a special treat.

 photo 4fb9dacd-00b9-4020-ab50-d1deb97658db_zpsb7644b64.jpgMy version of The Londoner’s one-pan mac is definitely good for saving a few calories, and is probably the healthiest one I’ve found. But it lacks for me what is the best bit, the baked top. I’ve tried baking it but the sauce just solidifies. A couple of tries later, all in the name of research, and now I present you this recipe. Creamy, tangy, cheesy sauce, lightly spiced. Perfectly coated macaroni pasta. And a cheesy top that goes delightfully gooey and crispy. YUM.

 photo 859778e8-1e38-421f-b244-8a332c9c7634_zps48ee24cb.jpgIngredients

  • Pasta – I went for 50g of macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat creme fraiche
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard
  • 1 small matchbox sized chunk of cheese (i.e. a ‘proper’ serving)
  • A sprinkle of polenta

 photo a91929f3-a68c-4487-a872-255507925aa3_zps1d300b67.jpgFirst off, cook your pasta. You want to slightly undercook it, so chop a minute off the cooking time. Drain, but leave a little water in the pan (just enough to cover the base).

 photo 7ff743b0-1d0c-4a19-af22-5205619048fe_zpse1176bae.jpg photo 25884205-d907-4291-b358-2b830388487d_zps26ac0f16.jpgReturn to a low heat, and add the creme fraiche, mustard, and lots of black pepper. Add 3/4 of the cheese to the sauce, and stir until melted, combined and creamy.

 photo 2b0fd4cb-2388-4c31-bef4-de94f26eff20_zps5ed8dc32.jpgPour into a baking dish, and top with the remaining cheese. Slice it very thinly so it covers the whole dish. Sprinkle lightly with polenta, then bake for 15 or so minutes, until bubbling and golden. Yep – silly me forgot the polenta when I made this to photograph. It tastes damn good without it, just slightly less crispy.

 photo 3bf1c5f6-6442-4dad-a4aa-fbd3b2a55952_zps2e1cf470.jpgServe with a big crunchy salad, and you’ve got a comforting meal without the guilt. And it’s quick, and the pan doesn’t take half as much elbow grease to wash up as a proper cheese sauce. I know what I’m having for dinner tonight…

What’s your favourite meal? Do you have any tricks to make it healthier?