Pasta Caprese

This recipe is for everyone out there who’s trying to cling on to the last few days of summery weather! It requires very little time standing over a hot stove, tastes amazing hot or cold, and is full of fresh tasty ingredients! It is inspired by all the amazing home-cooked Italian food we have had at my boyfriend’s parents’ house when I first moved upstate. The Italians know how to do it right!

You can use whatever type of pasta you like here- I used a gluten-free one but that’s not necessary unless gluten is a problem for you.

As you might have seen on my Instagram, we are surrounded by amazing locally grown food here in the Hudson Valley. A friend had us over for dinner earlier in the week and sent us home with about 4-5 giant tomatoes from her garden, along with some basil and other fresh herbs! I made this recipe to use them up, and I have to say having such fresh ingredients really makes a difference- the flavours were so zingy and delicious! I feel so grateful to be surrounded by such amazing food.

We devoured this with a side of steamed broccoli drizzled with lemon and olive oil, but it would also be amazing with a big leafy salad. For added protein, you could sprinkle some walnuts through it, try a soft poached egg on top, or maybe slice up some good quality Italian sausage and stir through. Delish.

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SERVES: 3-4 as a main/6 as a side |  PREP TIME: 10 mins | COOK TIME: until your pasta is al dente!

INGREDIENTS

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

4 very large tomatoes, roughly chopped

8 ounces fresh mozzarella mini balls, halved

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Freshly ground course sea salt and black pepper

1 pound pasta of your choice

METHOD

  1. Place the chopped garlic in a medium bowl. Use your fingers to rub the garlic all around the inside of the bowl.
  2. Once you’ve done all the chopping, add the basil, tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, and lemon juice to the bowl. Season with a few turns of salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Leave to marinade for about 20 minutes while you cook the pasta!
  3. Cook your pasta of choice in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
  4. Scoop 1/4 cup cooking water out of the pot before draining the pasta and put aside.
  5. Add drained pasta to the bowl with the other ingredients. Stir to combine, slowly adding in the cooking water until the sauce is a desired consistency, i.e. not too dry or too wet. You may not need the full 1/4 cup.
  6. Garnish with some extra basil if you have it, and serve on its own or with some extra veggies on the side!

 

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Raspberry-Lime Spritzer

This is my favourite summer drink. It’s the perfect thirst-quencher after a long shift at work or a sweaty run. It’s also a great pick-me-up when you don’t own an air conditioner and you live in New York (like me).

This non-boozy spritzer was inspired by an 8-pack of seltzers I picked up while I was out of town last week by a company called Spindrift. They makes really delicious sparkling water drinks using real fruit and no nasty additives (No, they have not paid me to say this, I just love their drinks).

Anyway, we went through the 8-pack of raspberry-limes in no time, and couldn’t find them in any of our local grocery stores to restock the refrigerator. Then one particularly hot and sweaty day, I was craving a refreshing fruity drink. There happened to be some frozen raspberries, sparkling water, and a lime in our loft, so I experimented to see if I could make a homemade version of the original. It worked really well! It is amazingly zingy and refreshing, and is ridiculously easy to whip up whenever you fee like it (I’m drinking one right now, actually).

This is a great way of fitting a little bit of fresh fruit into your day without spiking your blood sugars too much. Berries are known to contain less sugar than most other fruits, and they’re also packed with lots of protective antioxidants and vitamin C! One serving of this drink contains only about 1 gram sugar and 10 calories*, so it could be a good option for anyone who is trying to cut down on their sugar intake. It also makes a great designated driver drink at a party. Bring it along and your sober friends will thank you!

So, here’s the recipe! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

*Calories and sugar content estimated by using Nutritiondata.org- here and here.

Raspberry & Lime Spritzer

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PREP TIME: 5 mins  |  MAKES: just over 1L (about 4 servings)

INGREDIENTS

1L sparkling water/seltzer

32 frozen raspberries

1 lime, juiced

Enough ice for 4 glasses

METHOD

  1. Place the raspberries in a blender. Add a little water until they are barely covered. Blend until you have a sorbet consistency.
  2. Divide the raspberry mixture evenly between the 4 glasses.
  3. Divide the lime juice evenly between the 4 glasses.
  4. Divide the ice cubes between the glasses- about 4 cubes per glass.
  5. Top up each glass with sparkling water and mix well. Garnish with a lime slice to make it look even fancier.

 

 

 

 

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

 

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!

 

 

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!