Posts tagged ‘recipes’

December 2, 2013

Warming Winter Soups

by lrmetcalfe

minestrone_0No time of year is finer, than Winter to whip up a delicious vegetable soup, using in-season British vegetables. Soups are easy to make, friendly on the purse and full of nutritional goodness.

Why not try one of these delicious warming soups, they are some of my favourite Winter recipes:

 

Minestrone Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 oz spaghetti, broken into smaller pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, washed and finely chopped

6 oz carrots, washed and finely chopped

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1.5 litres vegetable stock

6 oz savoy cabbage, washed and finely shredded

1tbsp tomato purée

salt and freshly milled black pepper

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, gently fry the onion. When golden add the celery, carrots and tinned tomatoes.
  2. Stir in the crushed garlic, add some salt and pepper, then cover and cook very gently for 20 minutes or so to allow the vegetables to sweat – give it an occasional stir to prevent the vegetables sticking. Then pour in the stock.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer gently (covered) for about 1 hour. After that add the cabbage, tomato puree and spaghetti, cook for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with crusty warm bread.

 

 

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 large onion

1kg orange-fleshed sweet potatoes

25 g fresh root ginger

1 tbsb mild curry powder

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 litres vegetable stock

1 lemon

Fresh corriander

  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion and sweet potatoes.
  2. Peel ginger and chop finely.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and ginger and fry gently until softened.
  4. Stir in curry powder and cook gently for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to coat with the spicy onion mixture.
  6. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.
  7. Blend soup in pan using a hand blender.
  8. Add grated zest and juice from the lemon and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  9. Serve garnished with roughly chopped fresh coriander.

 

 

Chorizo & Chickpea Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

400g can chopped tomatoes

110g pack of chorizo sausage

140g wedge Savoy cabbages

sprinkling dried chilli flakes

410g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 chicken or vegetable stock cube

1. Put a medium pan on the heat and tip in the tomatoes, followed by a can of water. While the tomatoes are heating, quickly chop the chorizo into chunky pieces (removing any skin) and shred the cabbage.

2. Pile the chorizo and cabbage into the pan with the chilli flakes and chickpeas, then crumble in the stock cube. Stir well, cover and leave to bubble over a high heat for 6 mins or until the cabbage is just tender.

Ladle into bowls and eat with crusty bread.

October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween- Pumpkin Recipes

by lrmetcalfe

PumpkinPumpkin.  This delicious winter squash, is not only great for a spooky Halloween decoration, but is bursting with health benefits too.

Pumpkin’s bright orange colour is due to its beta-carotene content, a provitamin that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Known for its immune-boosting powers, beta-carotene is an antixoxidant essential for eye health and has also been linked to preventing heart disease. Pumpkin is also a rich source of fibre and protein.

It’s not only the sweet orange flesh that has health benefits, the seeds are packed with goodness too. Pumpkin seeds are renowned for their zinc content, an essential mineral for immune health, and men’s health. The seeds also contain the minerals, magnesium and potassium; as well as phytosterols, which can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Why not try one of these delicious recipes, and make the most out of your Halloween pumpkin…

Pumpkin Pittas

Serves 4

Ingredients
• 1kg pumpkins or butternut squash, deseeded and cut into wedges
• 400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• ½ tsp chilli flakes
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
• 2 slices white bread, whizzed to crumbs

For the salad
• 2 carrots, coarsely grated
• ½ small red onion, finely sliced
• 100g feta cheese, crumbled
• 4 wholemeal pitta breads to serve

1. Put the pumpkin in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with cling film. Cook on High for 10 mins or until soft. Tip the chickpeas, garlic, chilli flakes, cumin and half of the parsley into a food processor, then whizz until the chickpeas are finely chopped but not smooth.
2. Allow the pumpkin to cool slightly, then scoop the flesh from the skin and add to the chickpea mix with some seasoning and the breadcrumbs. Give everything a good stir, then shape into 12 little patties with your hands. Put the falafels on a plate and chill for 10 mins.
3. Meanwhile, mix the remaining parsley with the grated carrot, onion and feta cheese, then set aside. Heat the grill to Medium, then cook the falafels on a baking tray for 3-5 mins on each side until golden. Split the pitta breads lengthways and fill with the warm falafels and some of the feta salad.

Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 1kg pumpkins or squash (try kabocha), peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
• 700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
• 142ml pot double cream
• 4 slices wholemeal seeded bread
• handful pumpkin seed from a packet

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook 2 finely chopped onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured. Add 1kg peeled, deseeded and chopped pumpkin or squash to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.

2. Pour 700ml vegetable stock into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the squash is very soft. Pour the 142ml pot of double cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can now push the soup through a fine sieve into another pan. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.

3. While the soup is cooking, slice the crusts from 4 slices of wholemeal seed bread, then cut the bread into small croutons. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the bread until it starts to become crisp. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to the pan, then cook for a few mins more until they are toasted. These can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container. Reheat the soup if needed, taste for seasoning, then serve scattered with croutons and seeds and drizzled with more olive oil, if you want.

Pumpkin, Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

Ingredients

• 225g peeled and deseeded pumpkin or butternut squash, cubed.
• 4 tbsp full cream milk.
• 1 large egg.
• 175g self-raising flour.
• 1/2 tsp baking powder.
• 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
• 150g caster sugar .
• 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice.
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg.
• 50g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
• 2 tbsp poppy seeds.
• Grated zest of 1 small lemon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper or greaseproof paper, then grease well once more. Cook the pumpkin in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Drain well and leave until the steam dies down, then blend to a smooth purée in a food processor. Scoop into a mixing bowl and mix in 3 tablespoons milk and the egg.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, mixed spice, nutmeg and seasoning into the cleaned bowl of the food processor. Add the butter and process until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add to the purée and stir until just mixed, adding the remaining milk if the mixture seems dry. Stir in the poppy seeds and grated lemon zest. Spoon the mix into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until well risen and golden.

3. Remove the cake from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Remove the paper and serve cut into slices.

September 23, 2013

Healthy Eyes

by lrmetcalfe

My mother took a trip to the opticians today, for her Spinach-photoannual check-up. Worryingly he has said that her eyes are showing the beginnings of cataracts. My mum dismissed this as just a part of the ageing process, however, there are dietary changes we can all make to improve the health of the eyes.

Increasing the levels of certain essential nutrients which are important for maintaining eye health, can help. Antioxidants are important- Vitamin A,C, E, selenium, lutein is particularly important as it has specific properties for protecting the eyes.

So, I thought I would look at some yummy foods and recipes which contain these antioxidants.

Popeye never wore glasses- Spinach is a great source of the antioxidant, Lutein, along with other leafy dark green vegetables.

Palak Paneer (Spinach & Paneer Curry)

Ingredients

4 cups of fresh finely chopped spinach

1/3 lb paneer

2 medium tomatoes

1tsp chopped ginger

1tsp coriander powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon oil

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp salt, or to taste

2 tbsps of whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups of milk

  1. Blend the tomatoes and ginger to make a puree.
  2. Mix coriander, turmeric, and red chili with tomato puree and set aside.
  3. Mix whole-wheat flour with milk and set aside.
  4. Cube the paneer into pieces and  fry them on medium high heat just for few minutes so paneer becomes golden in colour, take paneer out, and put on kitchen towels
  5. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds.
  6. After cumin seeds crack, add the tomato puree mixture, and let it cook for a few minutes until the tomato puree is about half in volume.
  7. Add the spinach, and let it cook on low medium heat for about 10 minutes covered.
  8. Add milk mixture and let this cook another four to five minutes.
  9. Add paneer and fold it gently with spinach and let it simmer for a 2-3 minutes, keeping the pan covered.
  10. Serve with rice or chappatis.

 

Blueberries are a great source of bioflavonoids, which encourage eye health. Try this healthy smoothie…

Super-Berry Smoothie

50g blueberries

50g Canteloupe Melon, diced and de-seeded

Banana

Pure orange juice (not from concentrate)

½  tbsp ground flaxseeds

1. Place melon, blueberries, banana and flaxseed into a blender, and whizz. Use the orange juice to thin out the smoothie, making sure it is smooth.

 

Check out these other great sources and include them in your diet to improve your eye health….

Vitamin A liver, paprika, chilli powder, sweet potato, carrots, butternut   squash, dark leafy green vegetables such as- kale, spring greens, spinach
Vitamin C chilli peppers, dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cabbage,   brussel sprouts, kiwi fruits, oranges, strawberries, guava, papaya,   grapefruit, cantaloupe melon
Vitamin E Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, papaya, asparagus,   wheat germ
Lutein Spinach, kale, swiss chard
Selenium Brazil nuts, shellfish, liver, tuna, swordfish, anchovies, sunflower   seeds, bran
August 26, 2013

Back to School

by lrmetcalfe

It’s that time again!kids

The summer is coming to a close and September is getting; we need to start getting back into the routine. So, I thought I would mention a few holistic helpers to make September a little easier.

Unmotivated sleepy children?

If your children are constantly tired and unfocussed at school, there are two ways you could help…

1. Make sure they have a healthy breakfast.

We all know the importance of breakfast, this meal essentially breaks-the-fast, that we have had whilst sleeping. The brain and body cannot function without this morning hit of energy. Look for slow-releasing carbohydrates, and combine with a portion of protein, if you can get them to eat 1 of their five a day too- this would be an excellent start.

Try one of these:

  • Wholemeal toast, with good-quality peanut butter and a sliced banana/strawberries on top.
  • Low sugar cereal- Weetabix, ready-brek or shreddies, with milk- I like whizzing a banana in with the milk too and pouring this on my cereal- a banana milkshake with cereal!
  • Eggs are a great protein rich start to the day- try cheesey scrambley eggs and wholemeal toast or boiled eggs and soliders.
  • Smoothies- let them get creative, put out a selection of fruit, milk and yoghurt, and get blending.Nakdbars
  • If you’re really in a rush, I love Nakd bars- they are packed with dried fruit and nuts and come in a variety of delicious flavours. One of these with a yoghurt or a piece of fruit is a must have for a busy morning.

2. Make sure their diet is rich in Omega 3.

Omega 3 is all over the news, and is especially important for children. Omega 3 is one of the group of what is known as- essential fatty acids, these are the good fats, the ones we should be eating (!) they have so many health benefits, but we just aren’t consuming enough in our diets.

DHA, has been shown to be the type of omega 3 which is most beneficial for children. Multiple studies have been done into DHA’s importance for a child’s brain development and learning; links have been made between low levels of DHA and behavioural disorders.

These fats are ‘essential’ meaning the body cannot produce enough of them, we need to consume them in our diets- leading us to the main dilemma, the best source of Omega 3 is oily fish- tuna, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, salmon- not foods most kids love to eat!

Check out my ‘Getting Fishy’ recipe article for some delicious oily-fish recipes, or have a look at fish oil supplements, especially ones high in DHA. Many companies have become well practiced at disguising the ‘fishy’ smell and there are some pleasant fish oil children’s supplements around. My favourites are, ‘Biocare Childrens OmegaBerry’ and ‘Eskimo Kids Fish Oil- Tutti Frutti’.’

Children with itchy heads?

Head lice- eek! My skin is crawling just thinking about it, but September and back to school, often sees the return of these horrible creatures. Tea Tree oil is nature’s answer! To act as a deterrent use tea tree shampoo or rub a little oil behind the ears, around the hair line.

If the critters do invade, use ‘What Nits scalb rub’, which contains tea tree, eucalyptus and neem oil, follow with tea tree shampoo and conditioner, then use a nit comb to scrape out the invaders and their eggs.

Can’t get up when the alarm clock rings?

So, we have dealt with the little ones, what about mum and dad? We all know that horrid feeling when the alarm rings, and you just can’t work up the energy to get out of bed, as the mornings get darker this feeling worsens.

You could try a supplement of 5HTP, it is a naturally occurring amino acid and is a pre-cursor for the production of serotonin- the neurotransmitter which is associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing and melatonin- essential for the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.

Low energy levels, can often be improved by supplementing with a high potency muti-vitamin and mineral. Make sure the supplement is high in water soluble B vitamins and vitamin C as these are essential for regulating energy levels and the nervous system. Look for a timed release supplement too, such as ‘Quest Super Once a Day’.

I hope this will help and give you some healthy ideas to get through September.

August 25, 2013

Getting Fishy

by lrmetcalfe

sTrying to increase your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids?

Check out these delicious easy fish recipes.

 

 

 

Neptune Pizza

For kids top with tuna, prawns and sweetcorn; for adults use tuna, anchovies, prawns and spinach leaves.

Serves 4-6

For the dough

375g plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon caster sugar

7g dried active baking yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

225ml warm water

For the topping

Tomato passata

Cheese

Tuna

Cocktail Prawns

Anchovies

Spinach

Sweetcorn

1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil and warm water to form dough. Spread out on a large circular baking tray.

2. Spread with a little passata, sprinkle with cheese and add toppings.

3. Bake at 190 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

For another omega 3 hit serve with a rocket salad, using a dressing of lemon juice and flaxseed oil (two parts lemon juice to one part oil).

 

Happy Cheesy Fish Pie

I find traditional cheese pie quite sickly with the white sauce; this cheesy version is moist and delicious. Easy to make with kids, get them to make mini pies in small dishes and decorate with smiley faces, use cherry tomato halves for eyes, a carrot slice for a nose, a pea pod for a mouth- get creative.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1kg potatoes

1 carrot

2 sticks of celery

150g any white fish

150g salmon

150g smoked haddock

125g prawns

150g cheese

Olive oil

1 lemon- zest & juice

Milk

Butter

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and bring salted water to boil in a pan.

2. Peel potatoes, cut into chunks and add to water.

3. Get an oven dish, (or do steps 3-5 in a bowl and distribute into smaller oven dishes to make mini individual portions). Grate, carrot, celery and cheese into dish (or bowl).

4. Cut fish into chunks and add to oven dish (or bowl).

5. Add lemon zest and juice to fish, drizzle with a little oil and salt and pepper.

6. When potatoes are cooked, mash with a little milk and butter- enough to make a smooth mash.

7. Top fish with mashed potato.

8. If making ‘happy’ cheesy pies, top with smiley faces.

9. Bake in oven for 40 mins.

Serve with salad, steamed green vegetables or baked beans.

 

Tuna Sweetcorn Burgers

Serves 4

Ingredients

85g white bread, torn into pieces

198g can sweetcorn, drained

2 x 185g cans tuna in water, drained

25g grated cheese

3 spring onions, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Wholemeal bread rolls or pitta breads, salsa and salad to serve

1. Whizz the bread in a food processor to crumbs, tip into a bowl, then whizz half the sweetcorn until finely chopped. Add the chopped corn, whole corn, tuna, cheese, spring onions and some salt and pepper into the bowl with the bread and mix well. Add the egg, bit by bit, until the mixture is sticky enough to be shaped into four even-size burgers.

2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, then cook the burgers for 5 mins on each side until golden and hot through the middle. Stuff into buns or pittas with salad and a dollop of salsa.

 

Sesame Haddock

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 slices white bread, blitzed into crumbs

1 tbsp sesame seeds

4 fillets skinless haddock or any white fish

2 tbsp plain yogurt

1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat oven to 220 degrees.

2. Tip crumbs into a bowl with half the sesame seeds.

3. Brush fish fillets with yogurt and coat in the crumb mix. Lay on a baking tray and sprinkle over the remaining seeds.

4. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then bake for 15-20 mins.

5. Serve with oven-baked sweet potato wedges & coleslaw or salad.

August 13, 2013

The Perfect Picnic

by lrmetcalfe

picnic

The Great British Picnic- a wonderful accompaniment to a summer outing in the UK, but how many times do you find yourself wanting more than the usual soggy sandwich?

There are so many healthy, delicious picnic ideas out there you could try. Here is a collection of my favourites:

 

Panzanella

Ingredients

700g very ripe, tomatoes

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

½ a loaf slightly stale s bread (300-400g), torn into chunks

About 25 black olives

1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into thick half-moons

1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced

1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed

A handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Tip them into a sieve and push through. Discard the skin and pips. Add the oil, vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper to the tomato juice to make a dressing.

2. Put the bread in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Add the olives, cucumber, red onion, capers and basil. Toss everything together well with your hands. Leave for 20 minutes and serve or pack up in lunchboxes for your picnic.

 

Minty Coleslaw

This quick, easy and fresh coleslaw recipe, goes well on crusty rolls with ham or cheese.

Ingredients

½ red cabbage, finely shredded

½ white cabbage, finely shredded

½ onion, skinned and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely shredded

6 tbsp natural yoghurt

3 tbsp mint jelly

Black pepper

1. Mix the yoghurt and mint jelly in a large bowl.

2. Add the vegetables and mix well, if the yoghurt doesn’t coat the vegetables, add more yoghurt and mint jelly.

3. Season with black pepper to taste.

 

Mini pitta pizzas

Great for kids, they can make their own combinations and add their favourite toppings.

Makes 8 mini pizzas

Ingredients

4 Pitta breads, chopped into halves

Tomato puree

50g cheddar cheese

Topping ideas

  • Mozarella Cheese, Parmesan Cheese
  • Tuna, prawns
  • Sweetcorn, Jalapenos, Peppers, Onion, Chilli, Olives, Capers, Cherry Tomatoes, Mushrooms
  • Chorizo, Ham, Chicken, Pepperami, Bacon, Turkey
  • Pineapple
  • Boiled egg

1. Heat oven to 200C and put a baking tray inside to heat up. Spread each pitta with 1 tsp purée, add your favourite toppings and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

2. Place the pittas on the tray and bake for 10 mins until the pittas are crisp and the cheese has melted. Leave to cool and pack in lunchboxes for your picnic.

 

Fruity Kebabs

You can get as creative as you want with these fruity kebabs, however I love this combination, it can also be drizzled with honey and grilled on a barbeque for a summer pudding.

Ingredients

Mango, nectarine,pineapple, banana, strawberries.

1. Soak skewers in cold water for an hour.

2. Cut the fruit into chunks, thread the fruits onto the skewers, alternating the different types.

August 5, 2013

Fun in the Sun

by lrmetcalfe

ImageTwo weeks in to the summer holidays- are you scratching your head as to fun things you can do with your children? I thought I would give you a few ‘holistic ideas’ of healthy ways you can have fun, which will make a difference to your health or to the environment.

Home-made ice lollies

Who needs the ice cream van? Make your own healthy summer ice lollies, easy to do and cheap to make, these refreshing lollies are great for hot summer afternoons. Just pick up a cheap lolly mould and save some old lolly sticks and get started. The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favourites:

Bananarama Lolly- Peel a banana cut in half. Push a lolly stick into the cut end and dip the pointed ends in a little melted chocolate, roll in desiccated coconut, hundreds & thousands or chopped nuts. Leave on a plate until the chocolate has set, then put in the freezer overnight.

Strawberry Yoghurt- In a blender, whizz up some strawberries with some natural or strawberry yoghurt. Pour into lolly moulds and leave to freeze overnight.

Juicy Orange- Pour in your favourite breakfast juice to a lolly mould, my favourite is orange, but this would work with lots of different juices. Freeze overnight.

Garden camping

OK I love camping, I know I may be in the minority here, but it’s great fun for kids and nothing is better than waking up to the sounds of birds chirping. Take the expense and hassle out of the experience my camping in the garden.

You could make a night of it; have a barbeque, toast marshmallows, sing campfire songs and settle down to a night under the stars. The next morning you have the added luxury that camping away from home is sorely lacking- the comfort of your own bath and loo!

Your garden becomes a new environment at night, one many of us may not have discovered before. I found that we had a resident toad in our garden, when we slept outside during the recent heat wave.  (Don’t worry it didn’t hop in to my sleeping bag, we heard a strange noise coming from the pond and I looked it up online the next day!)

From 9th-11th August, the RSPB are holding a fundraising event, raise money for conservation by sleeping outside, in their ‘Big Wild Sleepout’. For more information visit: www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout

‘Spring’ clean

OK, so it may be a little late for ‘spring’ cleaning, but a good clear out is very therapeutic and is a great activity for those rainy summer days.

Get the kids to sort through their old toys by playing ‘trash or treasure’, creating piles of unused and loved items. Any toys that are in good working order can be sold on eBay or at car boots, given to charity, or check out ‘Freecycle’, a swapping website, where you can advertise unwanted items to other like-minded recyclers.

You could also make your own natural cleaning products:

Multi-purpose spray- Fill a spray bottle with water until it’s nearly full. Fill the remainder of the bottle with distilled white vinegar and add a small amount of detergent and lemon juice. Shake well.  Use on countertops, sinks, stoves, floors, and toilets.

Air freshener- Add lemon or tea tree essential oil to some cheap vodka and pour into a spritzer bottle, squirt for a fresh, sweet smelling home.

Get on your bike

I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of cycling, many of us take our children to the park to ride their bikes, but do we ride with them?

Look for a cheap bike, if you don’t have one already, often you can pick one up second hand, or borrow a neighbours. Pack a picnic and set off on your bike for the day.

Cycling is a great form of exercise, its low-impact, so it’s easier on your joints, and gives you the chance to get out into the great outdoors.

Check out the national trust website for organised family bike rides, through picturesque settings all over the UK. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/activities/cycling

 

Create a wildlife haven in your garden

Make a wood pile- A wood pile is a great way to attract bugs and amphibians to your garden. Leave a pile of logs, garden cuttings and dead branches in one corner, preferably in a shady area. Fungi may start to grow on your rotting wood this is great for wildlife; it makes good food for slugs and snails which in turn attracts hedgehogs and garden birds.

Feed the birds- You can do this all year round, set up a bird table or bird feeders near to trees and hedges. You don’t have to spend lots of money on bird food. Birds will enjoy many of our kitchen leftovers, including: plain cakes, potatoes, stale bread, rice, soft fruits, apple cores and grated cheese.

You could even make your own bird feeder by pouring melted lard onto a mixture of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oats, cheese and cake. Stir well in a bowl and allow it to set in a container, an empty coconut shell for instance. Place on your bird table when set.

Leaving an area of your lawn uncut, attracts insects, which provide food for birds.

I hope I have given you some new fun ideas for those long summer days!

April 1, 2013

Quick & Healthy

by lrmetcalfe

greek

In my last post I mentioned the importance of eating healthy, balanced meals, and quick and easy recipes will make this much easier.

The key to a healthy meal is getting the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fruit or vegetables.

Imagine a plate divided into quarters. At meal times, 1 quarter of your plate should be protein, 1 quarter starchy carbohydrates and 2 quarters non-starchy carbohydrates (fruit and vegetables).

These combinations will give you a healthy balanced meal that will keep your blood sugar balanced and your energy levels high.

So now the question is, what do you fill the quarters of your plate with? Keep it as varied as possible, this will keep your meals interesting and will ensure you receive all the nutrients you require.

PROTEIN- Meat, fish, quorn, soya, tofu, shellfish, eggs, beans, lentils, quinoa, cheese

CARBOHYDRATES (starchy carbohydrates)- Pasta, rice, couscous, broad beans, sweetcorn, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin

VEGETABLES & FRUITS (non-starchy carbohydrates)- Obviously there are many varieties to choose from, but here are some ideas on how to serve them:- Stir fried oriental vegetables, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, salads, steamed vegetables, fruit salad, fruit compote, fruit and/or vegetable smoothies.

I thought I would also share some of my favourite quick and easiest healthy meals, try them for yourself:

 

Jacket potato with Greek salad

Serves 2

2 x Medium potato

100g feta cheese

½ red onion

1 tbsp black olives

2 tomatoes

10cm chunk cucumber

Black pepper

½ tsp dried oregano

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.
  2. Wash the potatoes and prick with a fork, put in microwave at full power for 10 minutes or until softened. (Alternatively you can cook your potatoes in the oven, obviously this will take longer!)
  3. Put in the oven to crisp us the skins for 10 minutes.
  4. While the potato is in the oven, prepare the salad.
  5. Chop the feta, onion, tomatoes and cucumber into cubes and put into a bowl. Cut the olives into halves and add, along with the oregano and pepper, to taste. Mix well.
  6. When the potato is ready cut in half and serve topped with the Greek salad and a green side salad.

 

Lamb and roasted vegetable pittas with mint and yoghurt dip

Serves 2

300g diced lean lamb

½ sweet potato

Red pepper

Green Pepper

Red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

150ml natural yogurt

2 tbsps mint jelly

2 wholemeal pitta breads

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.
  2. Chop the vegetables into chunks, put on a baking tray and drizzle with the oil. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
  3. Mix the mint jelly and the yoghurt together in a bowl and cut the top side of the pitta to create a pouch.
  4. For the last ten minutes of the vegetable cooking time, fry off the lamb in a griddle pan. Drain off any fat once cooked.
  5. When the lamb and the vegetables are ready, stuff into the pittas and drizzle with the yoghurt and mint dip. Serve with a green salad.

For a vegetarian option omit the lamb and add aubergine to the rest of the vegetables.

 

Honey Soy Salmon with noodles

Serves 2

2 Salmon fillets

2tsps wholegrain mustard

2tbsps soy sauce

100g soba noodles

Mangetout

Baby corn

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.
  2. In a bowl mix the mustard and soy sauce together.
  3. Put the salmon in an oven dish and spoon over the mustard mixture. Cover the dish with tin foil and put in the oven for 25 mins.
  4. Add the noodles to a pan of boiling water, if you have a steamer you can cook the noodles in the bottom of the noodles in the water and add the vegetables to one of the steamer pans above the water. Boil for 6 minutes or until the vegetables and noodles are cooked. (If you don’t have a steamer stir fry the vegetables in a pan.)
  5. Put the noodles and vegetables on a plate and serve the salmon on top, drizzling over any of the sauce left in the oven dish.

 

Mozarella Pesto Pasta with rocket salad

Serves 2

110g wholemeal spaghetti

2 tbsps pesto (there are many varieties available in supermarkets, my favourite is tomato and red pepper)

2 tbsps green olives, chopped

1 large ball of mozzarella, chopped into cubes.

Bag of rocket leaves

1 tsbp olive oil

2 tbsps lemon juice

Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling water.
  2. Whilst the pasta is cooking mix the olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl, grate the parmesan cheese.
  3. Add the rocket to the salad dressing and mix well.  Put onto plates and sprinkle with as much parmesan as you would like.
  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain the water and return to the sauce pan. Stir the pesto through the pasta and heat gently add the olives and mozzarella,  stir until the cheese has melted and the pasta is warm.
  5. Serve with the salad.

Enjoy….