The war against my expanding stomach continues to wage full throttle and despite receiving an obscene amount of Easter eggs and chocolates over the last few days I have hidden them all in an effort to be good before the wedding. In the desperate hope of shedding a few pounds in the next nine weeks I have been eating and cooking lots of salads. Were anyone to analyse the actual calorific contents of these ‘low fat’ delights I think I would be rumbled and my imaginary diet bubble well and truly burst but let’s ignore that and on to the recipes:
One of these which takes a matter of minutes but which is utterly delicious is what I call Japanese Broccoli salad. Cut a broccoli into small florets and boil until soft/al dente/crunchy depending on what you prefer, in a pan with added salt and a splash of sesame oil. Drain thoroughly and add a splash of soy sauce, Japanese sesame dressing and sprinkle with chilli flakes and sesame seeds – I think this may be my least fattening recipe and despite this, it is delicious!
Although just weeks away from my 30th birthday, I have a probably, rather unhealthy, need to constantly see and talk to my parents. Having been abandoned by them over Easter I comforted myself with creating some of my mum’s recipes. My mum is an amazing and established cook and her recipes and amazing family lunches and dinners are a key inspiration behind my own love of food and cooking. Whenever I make this dish, people ask for the recipe as it is so moreish and perfect as a starter or a side dish: Lentil, bacon and avocado salad
Finely chop some bacon and fry in a pan, add roughly chopped shallots and garlic. Add the lentils (any variety is fine – I used green tinned lentils) and add mustard, balsamic vinegar and seasoning and a little extra olive oil. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes to infuse the flavours and then leave to cool. Once cool add chopped avocado and a splash more olive oil and it is ready to serve.
My final recipe for this week has a cous cous base – you could swap any of the things I have added for your own favourites – I find cous cous so versatile and perfect for salads that are more of a main course – this is also great for packed lunches.
Add boiling water and a drop or two of chicken stock to the dry cous cous. Allow to absorb the water for 5 minutes and then fluff up with a fork you can add a knob of butter at this stage too depending on how strictly you are following your healthy eating plan! Meanwhile finely slice chorizo and fry until crisp. Remove from the pan and using the chorizo fat in the pan lightly fry chopped yellow and green peppers and spring onions so they are only just cooked but still have crunch. Add the chorizo peppers and spring onions to the cous cous as well as some cubed feta. In a separate bowl squeeze half a lemon and mix with 2 parts olive oil and salt and pepper. Add to the cous cous and mix all the ingredients together. Finally sprinkle with very finely chopped mint leaves.
I actually served this as a side with chicken breasts that i coated in Tracklements Chilli Jam (which i am finding a million uses for as I adore it – also lovely mixed with Philadelphia to make a dip) and then baked in the oven for twenty minutes. As well as another salad – spinach leaves with avocado, pine nuts and balsamic glaze dressing.
Roll on week 11 when I can go back to filling my face with such delights as peanut butter ice cream and cheese, but as dieting goes all this lovely summer food makes it a lot more bearable!