Healthy Eating on the Road (3): LUNCH

This post continues on from my earlier posts about how to stay healthy on the road. In post one, I shared some general thoughts on how to stay healthy when you travel a lot. Post two focused on some fun breakfast ideas. Today I’d like to focus on…LUNCH!

This one is tricky because you’re trying to find the sweet spot between buying stuff that lasts in the car/bus, but doesn’t contain a million strange preservatives and sugary crap. It also involves a stop at a grocery store. And preferably a knife and fork.

1. Look for whole, natural foods.

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My rule of thumb for travel snacks is to buy as many whole food snacks as I can before picking up a few healthy-ish processed ones like granola bars, dark chocolate, crackers, and very importantly, things to go on crackers. 

2. Bread and bread alternatives.

This one depends on whether you’re in the gluten-free camp or not. If gluten isn’t a problem for you, then choose a nice fresh bread to eat on the day, and stock up on some breads that won’t spoil as quickly, such as pita pockets or wraps that come in a vaccuum pack. The vacuum packs will allow you a couple of days storage before opening, and then should last a day or two once opened so long as you reseal the packs correctly!

If you are in the gluten-free camp, there are plenty of alternatives that last really well in the car. Rice or oat cakes are my go-to, or else rye crackers such as Ryvita or Finn Crisp (these are easy to find in most supermarkets in Ireland/Europe…maybe not so much in the U.S.).

Not a grain-eater? Not a problem. Buy a big bag of apples or pears and a knife. You can cut the apples into slices and eat them with cheese or nut butter on top. Yum.

3. Toppings.

My usual toppings are usually avocado, hummus and nut butters. So, for example you could stop to make a pita pocket stuffed with avocado slices and hummus, or a couple of rice cakes with peanut butter and banana slices on top, or apple slices dipped in almond butter. Some of my favourite combos:

  • Hummus on pita/rice cakes.
  • Nut butter or cheese on apple slices.
  • Nut butter on anything.
  • Avocado on rye crackers with a boiled egg or tuna (see 4 below!).
  • Rice cakes layered with peanut butter and banana slices on top.

4. Extra protein ideas.

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If you need something more meaty, tinned sardines, salmon or tuna is a handy option (just make sure you buy a can that has a pull-ring!). You can either eat it with a fork straight from the (drained) can, or mash it up with the avocado to make a super-healthy tuna-“mayo”. Be warned though- your travel buddies will NOT thank you for that one, especially if you try and prep it in a moving car! This one is DEFINITELY only doable if you are pulling over to the side of the road to avoid assaulting your bandmates nostrils.

IMG_7883And if you want to get even weirder, you could bring a couple of boiled eggs. I know what you’re thinking, ew. And who has time to be that organised? The reason I mention it is that when I traveled around Japan last year, you could buy boiled eggs as a snack in every 7-11 and Family Mart. They even sold them along some of the hikes to temples! It was brilliant. We were able to eat eggs for breakfast while walking to the subway! So, if travelling in Japan, you can buy some boiled eggs to bring with you as a snack. Anywhere else, you may have to boil them that morning, and eat within a few hours.

 

5. Snazzy Extras

Just in case you’re reading through this thinking ‘there is nooo wayyy a few crackers are going to fill me’, this section is for you.

After having a few rice cakes covered in whatever you fancy, try adding a few extras to your lunch. Kind of like how in primary school we used to have a sandwich AND an apple AND a carton of milk. Try a grown-up version of this: a few avocado crackers AND an apple AND a handful of nuts AND a couple of squares of quality dark chocolate. You could also buy a few healthy granola bars to keep you going (more on how to choose these in the next post). And maybe finish it all off with a green tea.

Teeny X

Banana-Oat Bars

These are my favourite granola bars at the moment. They are so easy to make, they hold together well, they last outside the refrigerator, AND only require THREE ingredients! 

SO…what’s the secret?

BANANAS.

I have recently discovered how amazing bananas are in baking because they can act as a binder and a sweetener in one, making your recipe really simple because you won’t need flour, eggs, sugar, or honey. So the recipe is basically just banana and oats, and then whatever nuts (or seeds) you feel like putting in it!

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I know what you’re thinking, how could they possibly taste good?! You’ll be surprised. They have a light banana-y sweetness combined with an awesome chewy texture that make them taste like more. But don’t take my word for it, try them and see for yourself!

 

Banana-Oat Bars

 

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*This recipe is vegan-friendly, dairy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free & gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats*

PREP TIME: 5 mins | COOKING TIME: 20-25 minutes | MAKES: 12 bars

INGREDIENTS

2 large ripe bananas, peeled.

2 cups rolled oats (jumbo oats)

1/2 cup nuts and/or seeds of your choice*, roughly chopped

optional extras: 1/4 teaspoon sea salt; 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* I use just walnuts most of the time,  but in these photos I’ve used a combination of walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/160C fan.
  2. Lightly grease a 9 X 9-inch square baking tray with coconut oil or butter.
  3. Mash the bananas in a medium-sized mixing bowl using a fork until they are mostly liquid, without any big chunks remaining. If using sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla, add them in now and stir through the banana mixture.
  4. Toss in the oats and whatever nuts/seeds you are using. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are evenly coated with banana.
  5. Transfer the mixture into your greased baking tin. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the mixture down firmly and evenly.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to crisp (It took 22 minutes for me, but every oven is different).
  7. Allow the baking pan to cool on a rack. Once cool, remove the mixture from the pan and cut into 12 rectangle bars. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Try with a cup of tea or with some almondbutter slathered on top. Yum.

 

 

 

Healthy Eating on the Road Part 2: Breakfast!

 

A while ago, I shared part 1 of Healthy Eating on the Road, giving some basic tips for staying healthy while travelling. I know I have a lot of musician friends out there who struggle to find healthy options while on tour. I’ll be doing a few Friday posts sharing my favourite health nut tips and recipes to help you plan ahead so that you don’t have to eat crap and feel like crap on the road!

Part 2 is all about BREAKFAST. If you travel a lot for gigs and the food options are pretty slim, these tips might be just what you need to start off your day on tour!

Leaving at 7am to make it to your next venue by 6pm is no fun, and doesn’t leave much time or brainpower for making a good breakfast.  The trick is to be organized the day before! Below are loads of delicious, simple foods you can make or buy in advance and bring with you to avoid the seemingly inevitable 9am McDonalds’ pitstop. 

1. Nature’s Breakfast: fruit, berries, nuts and seeds

Ready-to-eat whole foods such as fruit, nuts and seeds make an awesome breakfast because they involve no preparation at all, and don’t even need to be refrigerated! You just need to buy them in advance. Choose local and/or organic veggies if you can, as these have more of the good stuff (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) and less of the bad stuff (pesticides and weird textures from being picked before ripening).

Try keeping fresh fruit such as apples, bananas or berries in your bag for a quick morning brekkie. Berries are amazing because they contain lots of protective antioxidants such as vitamin C, and they also contain less sugar than other fruits! Just make sure you aren’t storing them right beside your gig clothes as that could get messy. 

One problem with a fruit-only breakfast is that it can spike your blood sugars and leave you feeling hungry an hour later. To avoid this, try pairing your berries with a handful of raw nuts and/or seeds for a more balanced breakfast. Raw nuts and seeds are an excellent energy source because they contain lots of protein and good fats, so are the perfect snack for keeping you going without spiking your blood sugars too much. 

2. Make your own granola

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If you’re travelling more long-term and get access to a kitchen, you can make your own granola to last you for the week, and BOOM that’s breakfast sorted for ya! I have stayed in a few hostels where backpackers shared their granola recipes with other guests by sticking them on the fridge! You can find healthy granola recipes on my blog here and here. Once you’ve made and cooled the granola, store it in a ziplock bag and keep in your car or bag for a quick breakfast or snack!

3. Make your own travel treats.

The day before you leave, set aside some time to premake a few healthy snacks for your trip. 

One really easy option is trail mix: Just combine your favourite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits in a plastic bag and bring it with you! (e.g. almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and maybe some fruit like grapes, raisins or dates). Make sure to buy your nuts raw and unsalted, with no suspicious extras in the ingredients list. Unfortunately, store-bought roasted nuts are often made using unhealthy oils such as canola or sunflower oil that you’re better off avoiding. 

If you want to get fancy, you could try my grain-free granola recipe, which tastes amazing on its own as a trail mix! It combines nuts, seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup and sea salt together to make an awesome sweet-salty snack!

Another great idea is to pre-make a bunch of energy balls and granola bars to bring with you. Although I LOVE making raw truffles and raw energy balls, they do tend to get a bit soft if they’re out of the refrigerator for more than a couple of hours, so might not work if you have long days and no way of keeping them cool. Granola bars are a far more portable option. I’ve shared a recipe here for some grain-free ones, and am still working on perfecting my favourite oat-based ones which will be up on the blog soon!

There we go. That’s breakfast taken care of. Stop by next week for some lunch tips!

 

Teeny x

 

Homemade Nut & Seed Butter

When there is no nut butter in the house you’ll usually find me looking forlornly into the cupboard where the jar once was, trying to think of a replacement snack. It has become a total staple in my diet. Since lashing nut butter on everything is quite an expensive habit, I’ve been on a mission to find a cheaper way to feed my addiction by making my own at home!

Mixed nuts tend to be cheaper to buy in supermarkets here than one type of nut, and seeds are cheaper than nuts. So I experimented with making a mixed nut and sunflower seed butter, and it was delicious!

LRM_EXPORT_20170511_094730Two cups of nuts/seeds yields 1 cup of nut butter, or roughly 220g (so if you imagine those tiny jars of nut butter that are sold by many different brands in Ireland, it makes about a third more than the quantity you would get in one of those). You can make it with any nut you like, or a combination of your favourites! I usually buy Dunnes Stores or Supervalu mixed nuts bags which contain a combo of walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.

The ratio of nuts to seeds is really up to you. I used about 1 1/4 cups of mixed nuts, and 3/4 cup of sunflower seeds here and you could definitely taste the sunflower seeds (which I liked!), but if you’re not into that then I would go with more nuts and fewer seeds!

Once you have chosen your nuts then all you need is a pinch of salt, a powerful food processor, and patience my friend! It takes anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes to transform the nuts into butter, so maybe grab your laptop so you can check emails.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups mixed nuts and seeds of your choice (always buy raw unsalted!)

a pinch of sea salt (optional)

you’ll also need a sturdy blender or food processor. I would go with a food processor over a hand-held blender as you can blend larger quantities more evenly this way. 

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C (130 fan/300F).
  2. Place your chosen nuts and seeds on a baking tray and leave to toast for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly for about 15 minutes.
  3. Put the toasted nuts and seeds in the food processor and blend for 15-20 minutes, stopping it occasionally to scrape down the sides and to let your blender cool. Please don’t give up and be tempted to throw in some water or oil to speed up the process because it will ruin the consistency of the but nutter! Here are some photos of the process so you know what you’re looking for:
  4. Once it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency, scrape it all out and store it in a clean airtight jar or container. Tastes great on banana slices, rice cakes, in porridge, or in these grain-free granola bars!

Recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.

Anne’s Salmon-Rice Dish

This dish was invented by my mom. She was looking in the fridge one day to decide what to cook for dinner, and found a packet of smoked salmon and some leftover rice. She threw them together with some veggies and an egg, everybody loved it, and so it made its way into our weekly rotation of dinners! It’s been such a hit that it has even featured at a few dinner parties.

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This was the first time I had ever tasted cooked smoked salmon before. It seemed a strange idea to me at first, but it actually works really well because the smoked salmon adds a great smokey flavour to the dish, and the saltiness seasons the rest of the dish perfectly! You could probably make it with leftover baked salmon too, although I’d imagine you would need to cook the rice in stock to make up for the lack of ‘smokey’ taste.

It’s a convenient dinner to make if you don’t have time to run to the shop and buy fresh fish. Also, the smoked salmon turns opaque and takes on a totally different texture to raw smoked salmon, so this is a good one for people who aren’t into the texture of raw smoked salmon.

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As you can see here, the rice is a bright yellow colour. My mom always adds couple of teaspoons of turmeric to rice while it’s cooking, and it’s a habit I’ve taken on too, so this is just standard rice in our household really. It’s gotten to the point where white or brown rice looks strange to us! Regular leftover rice will do, but the turmeric does add some great anti-inflammatory properties to the dish as well as a splash of colour and a subtle nutty taste, so I would recommend trying it if you’re cooking fresh rice for this dish.

We always change up the veggies in this one- spinach and mushroom is a favourite combination of ours, or carrot and celery, or the veg featured below. Use whatever you have really!

SERVES: 4 | PREP TIME: 10 mins | COOK TIME: 20-30 mins

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INGREDIENTS

for  the rice, you’ll need about 3-4 cups leftover cooked rice, or if cooking fresh:

1 cup dry basmati rice

2 cups water

2 teaspoons turmeric

for the rest of the dish:

1 medium onion, finely sliced

a selection of vegetables: here I used:

  • 1 ramiro pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 a courgette, chopped
  • about 80g spinach leaves

250-300g smoked salmon (from an ethical, sustainable source if possible)

1 egg (free range organic if possible)

1 lemon

a few turns of the black pepper mill

METHOD

  1. If you don’t have leftover rice, get your rice going first! Add turmeric to the rice and water at the beginning, then cook as you usually would.
  2. While the rice is cooking, prep your onion, pepper and courgette.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over  medium heat. Add the chopped onion, and sweat for 3-5 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the courgette and pepper, or whatever veggies you like! Cook for a further 4-5 minutes or until they are beginning to soften.
  5. Add the cooked rice to the pan. Lower the heat and stir rice in until it is evenly mixed in with the vegetables. Allow to heat for a minute, but don’t let it stick to the pan!
  6. Crack the egg into the dish, mixing around until the rice and veggies are evenly coated. Then add the smoked salmon by separating the layers of salmon and spreading them over the top of  the dish.  Cover, and leave to cook for a further 2 minutes.
  7. When you take the lid off, the salmon will be starting to firm up and turn opaque. Now you can break it up into smaller pieces and stir it in to the rice and veggies underneath. Mix in the spinach leaves at this point if using, cover, and leave to cook for another couple of minutes until the spinach has wilted and the salmon and eggs have turned opaque.
  8. Squeeze half a lemon over the dish, and serve with a salad, black pepper, and some extra lemon wedges on the side!

 

 

Super Berry Bircher Muesli

Bircher muesli is a quick and nutritious breakfast that could possibly save you an extra 10 minutes in the morning! Yes, you read this correctly, that means one extra hit of the snooze button! You prepare it the night before, leave in the fridge, and then boom. Instant breakfast in the morning. No cooking, no clean-up.

It was originally created around 1900 by a Swiss doctor called Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner. This smart dude fed it to the patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and veggies was a core aspect of his therapy. The original recipe included oats, apples, nuts, a squeeze of lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk. The oats were soaked overnight to make them more digestible, and then served in the morning with yoghurt.

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All grains, legumes and nuts naturally contain quite a lot of phytic acid. During digestion, the phytic acid binds to vitamins and minerals in our food, making them more difficult to absorb. By soaking our grains and legumes, we break down some of this phytic acid ahead of time, making the awesome goodness of grains and legumes more available to our bodies!

Of course, Bircher muesli has evolved over the years since 1900, and now there are dried store bought muesli varieties that often contain far more grains and sugar than the original light recipe, which was more focused on fresh fruit.

The good news is that health nuts are always finding creative ways to pimp up this awesome recipe.  The one I’ve made here replaces the apples with berries, and the condensed milk with homemade nut milk. I’ve also used a combo of nuts, seeds, and some fancy extras instead of just nuts.

This serves one small person, but feel free to one-and-a-half it or double it if you know you have a long day ahead of you!

*This recipe is vegan-friendly, refined sugar-free & gluten-free if you use certified gluten-free oats*

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SERVES: 1 | PREP TIME: 5 minutes | COOK TIME: 0 minutes!

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons oats (use gluten-free if you’re gluten intolerant)

3 tablespoons nutritious nuts, seeds and dried berries! I used:

  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fancy extras (I used this superfood breakfast topper, but it’s not necessary! Use whatever you have lying around the house- chopped nuts? flax or chia seeds? cacao nibs? goji berries?)

Handful of fresh mixed berries (I used raspberry and some blueberries)

1/2 cup nut milk of you choice (I used homemade but store-bought is fine)

A squeeze of fresh lemon

METHOD

  1. Place all the ingredients into a breakfast bowl or kilner jar. Mix around and mash the berries into the other ingredients.
  2. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. That’s it! Instant nutritious breakfast awaits you the following morning. Eat it as is, or top it off with yoghurt and more berries, banana slices and drizzle of nut butter, or whatever you fancy yourself!

Homemade Nut Milk

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge fan of store bought nut milks as they tend to have a lot of preservatives and other nasties added into them to keep them shelf stable. That being said, I am guilty of buying the odd carton once every few weeks because they’re just so convenient and tasty.

This week, I tried making my own nut milks for the first time. And guess what? It actually is REALLY EASY! The things that were preventing me from doing it before were: a) having to soak nuts overnight before and b) needing a nut milk bag/piece of muslin cloth for straining the pieces of nuts out of the milk.

Once I bought myself some muslin cloth in a local fabric shop and got organized about buying and soaking whatever nuts I needed the night before, the rest was a doddle.

…so, here we go: cashew milk and hazelnut milk.

*These recipes are vegan-friendly, grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free*

Cashew Milk

YIELDS: 3-4 cups milk | PREP TIME: soak nuts overnight | MAKE: 10 minutes

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup cashews (raw & unsalted)

3 cups filtered water

….that’s it!

optional flavours: 

2 medjool dates

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

…you’ll also need some muslin cloth, cheese cloth or a nut milk bag. I used muslin cloth here.

METHOD

  1. Measure out 1 cup of raw unsalted cashews. Leave to soak in water in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next day, your nuts should be plump and soft to the touch. Drain and rinse the nuts thoroughly, then place them in your blender with 3 cups of fresh filtered water. Blitz for about 20-30 seconds until you get a milk-coloured liquid.
  3. Place a sieve on top of a bowl or measuring jug that holds about 1 Litre/4 cups liquid. Drape the muslin cloth over the sieve, and gradually pour the nut milk through the cloth and sieve, letting it drip into the container below. You’ll need to do this in stages as the bits of nut will gather in the cloth, slowing the process down. Towards the end, you can grab the four corners of the cloth, twist them together to form a sort of ‘bag’, and gently squeeze the milk down through the cloth until all the milk has passed through the cloth (make sure your hands are clean for this part!). Discard the pulp, or save to use for something else.
  4. If adding some optional flavours, rinse out your blender, pour the strained milk back in, and add the cinnamon/vanilla/dates until smooth. I used cinnamon and vanilla extract here, and it was yummy.
  5. You’re done! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Hazelnut Milk

YIELDS: 3-4 cups milk | PREP TIME: soak nuts overnight | MAKE: 10 minutes

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INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup hazelnuts (raw & unsalted)

1/4 cup almonds (raw & unsalted)

3 cups filtered water

….that’s it!

optional flavours: 

 

as above

…you’ll also need some muslin cloth, cheese cloth or a nut milk bag. I used muslin cloth here.

METHOD

  1. Measure out 3/4 cup of raw unsalted hazelnuts and 1/4 cup raw unsalted almonds. Leave to soak in water in the fridge overnight.
  2. The rest is the same as the cashew nut milk recipe above.

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

This is one of my favourite on-the-go lunch or dinner recipes. It uses quinoa instead of the traditional bulghur wheat used in tabbouleh. The cucumber combined with the fresh parsley, lemon juice and mint give it a refreshing taste. It makes a great side dish to bring to a potluck or BBQ, or you can take it with you to work as a tasty desk lunch!

Quinoa is a 5,000 year old grain that originated in The Andean region of South America. The Incas thought the crop to be sacred, and referred to it as “the mother of all grains”. Technically, it’s not actually a grain but a pseudograin. It has a pretty impressive nutritional profile, which explains its popularity among health nuts!

Vegetarians love the stuff because it is one of the few grains that contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein! One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8g protein, which is good for a grain (but still lower than other protein sources, i.e. you could get 6g protein by eating a single egg, or 1oz raw almonds).

Quinoa also boasts an impressive 5g of fibre per cup, which is higher than what you’d find in one cup of long grain brown rice (about 3.5g per cup). This fibre-and-protein combo helps keep us full for longer and doesn’t spike our blood sugars quite as much as comparable grains.

You may have heard quinoa referred to as a superfood. As well as its protein and fibre attributes, quinoa contains a high level antioxidants, B vitamins, folate, magnesium and iron compared to other grains. One cup quinoa gives you an impressive 30% of your RDA of magnesium! Most people who eat a standard American Diet are not getting enough magnesium as it tends to be lost during food processing. Chronic magnesium deficiency can lead to leg cramps, muscle pains, insomnia and anxiety, so it is important to eat more whole foods to keep our magnesium levels up!

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So, anyway….back to the recipe. I usually add some kind of protein or good fat source to the dish if it’s going to be my lunch or dinner to make it more substantial. Here I added a can of chickpeas, but sometimes I put it in a lunchbox with a soft-boiled egg on top, or maybe half an avocado or some feta cheese. So once you’ve got the basic recipe down, feel free to add whatever protein you like to it, box it, and bring it with you when you’re on the go!

*This recipe is gluten-free, vegan-friendly, plant-based, and refined sugar free*

SERVES: 4-6 | PREP TIME: 30 mins |

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed well*

8 small-medium tomatoes (or 1 pint cherry tomatoes), diced

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 cup mint leaves (1 small bunch), chopped

1/2 cup parsley leaves (1 small bunch), chopped

Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon (depending on how juicy it is!)

3 tablespoons olive oil

a few turns of the sea salt and black pepper mills (to taste)

optional:

1/2 medium red onion, diced (unfortunately raw onion does not agree with me, but it is nice in the recipe!)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR a soft boiled organic free range egg OR some feta cheese from sheep’s milk)

*You can save time by cooking the quinoa earlier on in the day, or the night before. Sometimes I put on some extra quinoa for dinner, cool it and keep in the fridge to use for this recipe.

METHOD

  1. Measure out 1 cup dry quinoa. Rinse well in a fine sieve, then knock into a medium size pan. Cover with 2 cups water, bring to the boil, and leave to cook on medium heat for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and leave to stand for 3 more minutes until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork to separate grains. Transfer to a bowl or tray and allow it to cool.
  2. While your quinoa is cooking and cooling, prep your veggies! Peel and dice the cucumber, dice the tomatoes (and onion if using). Chop the parsley and mint leaves finely. Combine all veggies and herbs in a large mixing bowl.
  3. If using a can of chickpeas, rinse and drain thoroughly, then stir in to the veggie mixture.
  4. Prepare your dressing by adding your freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to a small bowl. Use a whisk or fork to combine.
  5. Once your quinoa is cooled, add it to your mixing bowl with the veggies and toss. Drizzle the dressing over it and toss again until evenly coated. Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for a handy on-the-go lunch or dinner!

Rainbow Frittata

Frittata is like a fancy version of an omelette, or a lazy version of a quiche. There’s no need to make pastry, but at the same time it takes a little more effort than just throwing everything in a pan.

It makes a great Sunday brunch. The leftovers can be used the next day for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Serve with a side salad or rice, topped with some goats cheese or an avocado, or just as it is depending on how hungry you are!

I like to make a substantial meal out of it by throwing in as many different veggies as possible, including some sweet potato. Since it turned out particularly multi-coloured, I named it Rainbow Frittata. You don’t have to use these exact veggies yourself- just use whatever you have in the fridge!

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Eggs are extremely nutrient-dense little foods. As well as being a great source of high quality protein, they contain heart-protecting omega-3, they are also high in lutein and which is great for eye health, they also contain good amounts of vitamins A, D, E and B 12 as well as iron.

Not all eggs are created equal however. We don’t always think about it, but the conditions the chickens are raised in affect the health of their eggs. Eggs from free range chickens are far better for us that those from cage raised chickens.  A healthy chicken who can run around outside, perch, and have a relatively good life will lay much healthier eggs than a caged hen who is squashed into a tiny space with lots of other chickens, can’t stand up, and is fed out of a feed lot.  If you can get organic free range, then even better! Dr. Josh Axe summarizes the differences between the nutritional value of caged and free range eggs here, and it’s quite surprising –  Free range eggs contain 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, twice as much omega-3, three times the vitamin E, and 7 times more beta-carotene than cage raised! So there ya go, you’ve six more reasons to make more ethical choices in the supermarket.

*This recipe is grain-free, paleo-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, & gluten-free*

Rainbow Frittata

SERVES: 4 as a main (or 8 as a side) | COOK: 25 mins | PREP: 5 mins

 

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced into discs

1 medium courgette, thinly sliced into discs

1/2 a red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 a yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

8 medium eggs (organic and free-range if possible)

a few handfuls of baby spinach

salt and pepper, to taste

optional extra: parsley and chives (or some other fresh green herbs of your choice!)

 

METHOD

1. Heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes, cover, and leave for 6-8 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are beginning to soften;

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2. Add the courgette and pepper slices with a little salt and pepper, then cover and cook for another 3 minutes. Then stir in the spinach and cook for another minute until wilted;

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3. While you’re waiting, prep your eggs by whisking them thoroughly in a bowl with a fork and any pent up frustration you can muster! I added some salt and pepper here too;

4. Pour the egg mixture over your veggies in the pan. You can add half of your chopped herbs here too if you’re using them. Then cook on LOW heat for about 10 minutes until most of the mixture has set but the top is still a bit runny (if the heat is too high the eggs may go a weird grey colour so best to avoid this if possible);

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5. Finish by sticking it under the grill (broiler) for a couple of minutes until golden! (Warning, keep an eye on it as it can go too golden very fast! As you can see mine is more of a brown than a golden in the middle…)

6. Sprinkle with parsley, chives or whatever herb you fancy and serve!

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Guest Recipe: Sweet Potato and Quinoa Curry

I make this curry at least once every couple of weeks, so really wanted to share it with you all since it’s so delicious, simple, and healthy. It is adapted from Oliver McCabe’s book, The Fuel Food Cookbook. Oliver McCabe is the owner of Select Stores, a beautiful little health food store on the corner in Dalkey.  It has a great selection of healthy fruit, veg, pantry foods, household products, and a lovely little deli too! Well worth a visit. You can get McCabe’s cookbook here, or sample some of his delicious recipes by calling in to the shop if you live locally.

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The chickpeas and quinoa make this dish an excellent source of plant-based protein. The colourful array of veggies (sweet potato, spinach, red onion, garlic) mean that it is packed full of protective antioxidants. I love to serve it in bowls and eat it with a spoon for a comforting, nourishing mid-week dinner.

*This recipe is vegan-friendly, refined sugar-free & gluten-free*

Guest Recipe: Oliver McCabe’s Sweet Potato and Quinoa Curry

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INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 small onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh root ginger

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2-3 tablespoons mild curry powder (I made my own using 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons coriander, 2 teaspoons turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)

2 teaspoons of gluten-free vegetable Bouillon powder (or 1 cube vegetable stock)

500ml hot water

200g quinoa

3 handfuls of baby spinach

A few turns of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

METHOD

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and sweat for about 5 minutes until soft.
  3. While you’re waiting, make your stock in a measuring jug by adding 2 teaspoons Bouillon powder/1 stock cube to 500ml boiling water and stir.
  4. Add the cubed sweet potatoes, chickpeas and curry powder to the pan, stirring until the curry powder evenly coats everything else. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
  5. Add the quinoa, stock, and a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until the quinoa and sweet potatoes are cooked and all the water is absorbed. (If the curry runs out of liquid before the quinoa is cooked, just add a little more water).
  6. Add the spinach, stir through then cover again and let simmer until the spinach has wilted.
  7. Check seasoning and add a little salt and pepper to taste, then you’re good to go!