There is nothing I love more than taking time out at the weekend to try experimenting with the latest superfoods and ingredients: Multiple attempts at “healthy” brownies (which never end up being that healthy), spending hours blending almonds in the hope that it will, eventually turn into something that resembles a nut butter… ya know the drill.
However, I certainly do not believer in forcing my love and passion for cacao, coconut oil and agave nectar on the general public/my friends. Cooking really delicious, impressive, satisfying food for friends and family can seem like a real challenge if you want to still keep it nutritious and healthy, but I’m here to tell you it really isn’t. A couple of weeks ago I decided to come up with a menu that incorporated some of my favourite ingredients, but still tasted normal.
I experienced some of the tastiest food ever whilst travelling around South East Asia last summer. The food was so unbelievably fresh, light and healthy. So for my first dish, I decided to make Thai prawns with a raw rainbow salad and a mango dressing. Letting the prawns sit in the marinade for a few hours made all the difference, and I think that next time I may even leave them overnight to intensify the flavour even further. The combination of ginger, lime and chilli is always a winner, and I feel like Asian food always tastes like more effort went in to prepare the dish than it really did.
For the main course, I decided on the classic “steak and chips”. Eating steak is a treat for me, but I still make sure to choose the leaner cuts of meat; look out for sirloin and round cuts if you’re fussy with too much fat. I went to the local butcher on Clapham Common and although I paid £24 for two steaks (yes, two steaks), it was enough for four medium portions, and so worth it. The steak was unbelievably tender and falvoursome… just make sure you follow strict timing with the cooking – you don’t want to ruin £12 of steak!
I was going to go for good-old oven-roasted wages on the side, but I decided to try something a little different. After rummaging through multiple cookbooks, I came across Madeline Shaw’s recipe for parsnip chips in Get The Glow; so simple and so, so tasty. I am still yet to discover something in this book that doesn’t make me want to eat it every single day thereafter. All the recipes are so nutritious and simple to make but still fill you up. So many of these books deliver on the health and nutrition front but often leave me unsatisfied and still hungry. Get The Glow certainly does not. If you don’t have this book, buy it.
Finally, I ended with another beauty from Madeline Shaw’s book – the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Custard. Now, I have to admit… the custard was a lumpy disaster, so I ended up resorting to using trusty Bird’s custard powder, but I will definitely be giving it another try! Second apology – we ate all the pudding before I could even take a photo. Says it all. Thank you Madeline Shaw.
Thai Prawns Recipe (serves 2)
50ml extra virgin live oil 1 red chilli, deseeded Juice and zest of 1 lime 1cm freshly grated ginger 1 tsp of finey chopped lemon grass 220g cooked prawns
Rainbow Salad: ¼ red cabbage 1 beetroot 1 carrot 2 salad tomatoes
Salad Dressing: ½ fresh mango ½ red chilli, deseeded Juice and zest of 1 lime Olive oil
Chuck all the marinade ingredients into a food processor and blend. Toss the prawns in the marinade and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
For the salad, shred/finely chop all the ingredients except the tomatoes (just chop these however desired)
Chuck all the dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add olive oil until the dressing reaches a desired consistency.
Just before serving, fry the prawns and marinade in a little olive oil for 5-6 minutes. Serve on a bed of salad and pour over a generous serving of the mango and lime dressing.
Steak & Parsnip Chips Recipe (Serves 2)
2 steaks (cut of choice) 3 parsnips 50g Coconut oil ½ tsp cayenne Pepper Salt & Pepper 50g 0% fat Greek yoghurt 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
Leave steak out to rest and season with salt and pepper.
Finely chop the parsnips so they resemble French fries. Toss in cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Melt the coconut oil in a roasting tray in the oven before adding the parsnip chips. Cook for 15-20 minutes (although cooking time will vary depending on how thick or thin you cut your chips).
For the steak sauce, add the yoghurt, mustard, tarragon and season to a saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring continuously for 10 minutes.
Just before serving, cook your steak in olive oil. Make sure the pan is extremely hot before adding the steak. The general timings I follow (for a 2cm steak):
Blue: About 1 min each side Rare: About 1½ mins per side Medium rare: About 2 mins per side Medium: About 2¼ mins per side
Leave the steak to rest for a couple of minutes before serving alongside the parsnip chips, greens of choice and steak sauce.