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Home-made fizzy drink – A healthier option

With the spring in the air, longer and warmer (ish) days, I do make sure we are both well hydrated for our active lifestyle. We don’t buy any fizzy, flavored drinks. Those are full of sugar, artificial sugars and other ingredients which are not good for your body and mind.

We make our own flavoured fizzy (or still) drinks. It is so simple. Actually it doesn’t get simplier than this.

Take a big jug, a few slices of lemon/lime/orange, a handful of frozen berries, add either sparkling or still water. You can also add few extra ice cubes if you like a big cooler. Leave for 20-30 min so the flavours and colours come out of fruits. Done!

You can also use cucumber and add few herbs like mint, basil or parsley for more savory flavour.

Enjoy!

Irina. 🙂

Home-made drink

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Peas & Broad Beans Risotto – A classic with a twist

I love a good home-made risotto. And over the last few years I tried different versions all of which tasted slightly different but still delicious. But this one I made few days ago is topping all of them.

I used coconut oil for the first time ever and was slightly sceptical but the final result was a sense of pleasure, delight and cleanness… wanting more.

–          Coconut oil (twist No. 1)
–          1 shallot – finely chopped
–          2 garlic gloves – crushed
–          2 celery sticks – finely chopped
–          250 grams arborio risotto rice
–          1 big glass of prosecco (twist No 2) – taste first 🙂
–          1L of home-made hot chicken stock (twist No. 3) – this extra effort is worth it believe me!
–          200 grams of mixed frozen peas and broad beans
–          Basil, mint, chives finely chopped – a good handful in total
–          1 teaspoon butter (real butter!)
–          30 grams grated parmesan plus extra for serving (optional)
–          Lemon
–          Salt, pepper to taste

Instruction

I made my own chicken stock. I know that sounds a lot of work, but is actually not. See my blog here. It is worth the extra effort. Try it out and you will see/taste it for yourself!

Also I used heavy iron casserole pot (twist No 4). Heat the pot over medium heat (careful the iron casserole can get very, very hot), add coconut oil (and smell the amazing coconut flavour which takes you to a far far away land… twist No. 5). Fry shallot, garlic, celery for about 5 minutes. Add risotto rice and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add prosecco. Again smell the amazing flavour combination. Let the alcohol cook off than start adding chicken stock ladle by ladle. As we all know cooking risotto requires patient and close eye – somehow relaxing. So have a glass of prosecco to enjoy the task (twist No. 6). After 10 minutes add peas and broad beans. Keep stirring and adding more stock (if required). We like our risotto with a bit of a bite. Another 10 minutes the rice has the right bite. Turn heat off. Mix in herbs, butter, grated parmesan. Put lid on and leave for 5 minutes. This will allow the flavours to mix and risotto becomes creamy. Drizzle the lemon juice. Serve immediately! (you wouldn’t be able to resist it any longer).

I found using coconut oil gave risotto much cleaner texture and flavour rather than olive oil or rapeseed/sunflower oil. The reason is that coconut oil is a high heat oil where for example olive oil is not. Means coconut oil doesn’t burn and get smoky/greasy.

Also prosecco worked very well. I guess there isn’t much different between a good quality white wine and a good prosecco.

Happy cooking!

Irina

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Home-made humous

I love humous! But the ones from supermarkets are full of preservatives and other ingredients which I cannot even pronounce aka in my world it means chemicals and not good for you. Simple!

I tried doing the recipe with tinned chickpeas. It worked ok but then I did with dried chickpeas and I am not going back to tins ever again. Many of us think dried beans/lentils/chickpeas etc. are too complicated and take too much time. But actually they are the simplest ingredients to work/cook with. All you need to do is to soak them for 8-12 hours or overnight.

Here is the simplest humous recipe ever.

–          300g chickpeas – dried, soaked overnight
–          Big bunch of fresh coriander (I also had some leftovers of fresh parsley)
–          2 chillies – go for hot ones, like bird eye chillies (take the seeds out)
–          1 lemon juice – plus the zest of it
–          3 tablespoons tahini
–          1 tablespoon sesame seeds
–          ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
–          ½ teaspoon paprika (I used smoked)
–          Virgin Olive oil – a good splash or two
–          Salt

Instruction

Cook chickpeas as per pack instruction. I leave them soaking overnight which doesn’t require much effort apart from putting chickpeas in a bowl and pour cold water over them. Please, anyone can do that!

Once chickpeas are cooked (takes about 30-35 minutes), leave to cool in their cooking water (!). Then put them in the food processor, with other ingredients and some (5tbsp) of the kept chickpeas cooking water. Mix, taste, season if required, mix, taste. Perfect!

Tip: if you think more salt is needed, try adding more lemon juice first. Lemon brings the flavours out much more and you will avoid adding unnecessary sodium to your food! Genius!
Done! Easier doesn’t get it!

Humous will keep in the fridge for about 5 days (in our house it rarely makes it past 3). Serve with rye bread or ryvitta, celery, carrots, cucumber, peppers. Or I put it over green leaves (with extra splash of tabasco – yup I love it hot!).

Did you know that chickpeas are high in protein which is essential for recovery! But also good source of isoflavones (plant chemical) which can help to prevent hormon-related conditions incl. PMS and breast cancer. They also helping stabilize blood sugar. Rich in antioxidant vitamin E, which promotes the ability of white blood cells to fight infection. Chickpeas are also rich in zinc, iron, B Vitamins, Calcium and carbohydrate. So clearly chickpeas are Super-Food!

And Cayenne Pepper: is effective in treatment of arthritis, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney infection and other respiratory problems. Come on spice your food/life a bit!

Happy cooking!

Irina

 
 

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Christmas Eve Dinner for Two

Christmas is not far away and we are all looking forward to spend some quality time with our families and friends….. and of course not to forget the Christmas Dinner. I have to admit that I am looking forward to Christmas dinner since August (I know, not normal and very wrong…. :)).

In German culture the main event/meal is on the Christmas Eve. I try to keep the tradition alive, so Paul and I have two big-ish meals two days in a row (but I think Paul likes it :)).

Several weeks ago I received Christmas Edition of BBC Good Food magazine which does have some excellent Christmas meal ideas – healthy and the not so healthy. I got super excited and started planning our Christmas Eve dinner. For long I couldn’t decide to go for roast Turkey or Beef. But finally I made my mind up – Turkey! As not only is it delicious but also will give us some left-overs (hopefully) for days after the “battle”.

In the last few days I have been thinking about what technique to use. I want to keep each ingredient “alive” and bring out the maximum flavour of each one. But also about the combination and nutrients. And bearing in mind that we will start our training for Bath Half marathon just after Christmas I don’t want us to gain unnecessary pounds only because it is Christmas! But still want to have a delicious meal.

Christmas Eve menu for two – plus left overs.

(No starter as the meal itself will be enough)

Main course:

Roasted Turkey – In this case I will only use the Turkey breast. Watching MasterChef Professional the other night gave me the idea to poach the meat before roasting (one of the chefs poached pigeon before roasting it). This allows the meat to keep the moisture inside. So instead of using extra butter as an outer layer to trap moisture in, I think poaching is a very good alternative and much healthier.
So my take on the Turkey (with skin on). Poach in water bath (carrots, celery, bay-leaves, peppers, onion) for 15 minutes. Once out of water bath, salt the Turkey. Stuff some Thyme and Lemon under the skin. Lay with rashers of bacon (for extra flavour). And put in the pre-heated oven.

Sweet potato and Carrot bake with bread crumbs (rye bread crumbs for me please, which I have already made)
Roasted Brussels with bacon
Home made gravy
Cranberry sauce
– home-made with fresh cranberries

Dessert:
Pink grapefruit and dark chocolate mouse on a bed of berries compot and crushed pistachios with honeycomb swirl.

Drinks:

Water – good old water.
Prosseco with fresh Orange juice
(Since we started to train harder we reduced our alcohol consumption to a very limited amount. One reason is that we do have long runs on the weekend and alcohol just doesn’t fit with it. And the other reason is that during my course work I learned that you get a whopping 7 calories from 1 gram alcohol! And those calories you can’t burn off by doing more exercises the liver breaks it down and transport straight into the blood stream.)

As you can see Christmas doesn’t mean dreading the meals and finding time to burn all the calories consumed. It is all about balanced diet, making the most of the fresh ingredients, keep it simple but still delicious and of course nutritious. Pre-planning is the key and some of the items you can make in advanced and either freeze it or keep in the fridge.

The exact recipes for everything to follow. And I will be tweeting about my progress on the day! Can’t wait!

Irina

 
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Posted by on 9 December, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Beetroot Risotto

Carrying on the Beetroot theme… I made a beetroot risotto tonight. I love making risotto’s, and have got it down to a fine art nowadays. A good friend of mine suggested using beetroot in risotto after my beetroot post yesterday, so here it is for you to try out. It worked a treat and was delicious. Excellent pre-race fuel I think! As usual my recipe is for two people, so you might want to adjust the amounts accordingly…

Ingredients:

2 x raw beetroots, shredded into thin strips
1 x celery stick, diced
Half a diced onion
1 or 2 x crushed garlic cloves (depends on how punchy you like it)
1 x small glass of nice red wine Read the rest of this entry »

 

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