recipes for a healthy life

Lunchbox Snacks – No Bake Fruit & Oat trail bars


Lara bar or Nakd bar anyone? If you are a fan of these as a handy healthy snack on the go, but like me, not to fond of the price then try this recipe below for a quick and easy home made version and much better value. There are endless variations possible to this recipe – any nuts or seeds of choice, any dried fruits. Just remember to chop them small so that you can cut the bars easily when they are set and make sure your mixture is quite wet. If you think it is a bit dry then melt another spoon or so of coconut oil and add to the mix. These would also be great covered with melted chocolate. Just remember not to eat them all on the same day !

No Bake Fruit and Oat Trail Bars

2.5oz butter
8oz nut butter
2large tbsp coconut oil
2oz honey
10oz oats
2oz each cranberries and nuts of choice chopped quite small but not obliterated!

Melt the butter, nut butter, coconut oil and honey together over a gently heat.
Put oats, nuts and berries into a big bowl.
Add the melted ingredients and mix well.
Tip into flat baking tray about 10 by 10 lined with parchment
Press down well and chill overnight in the fridge.
Tip out and cut into bars – That’s it, super easy and great to pop in the bag or a school lunchbox.

Pan Fried Salmon, Confit Potatoes and Pickled Peppers


‘Those were the most amazing potatoes’ I was told. Yes, well if you were gently simmered under a load of olive oil with garlic and thyme….. Not low calorie for sure , extravagant and absolutely delicious, just the right about of give, salty, infused with a hint of garlic and thyme and perfect with salmon and peppers peppers which add the right about of sharpness to cut through the oil. Full of goodness from the salmon and perfect for an easy impressive looking dinner.

Pan Fried Salmon with Confit Potatoes and Peppers
Serves 2
2 Salmon Darnes about 250gr each seasoned really well on both sides
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp butter

Pickled Red Pepper
2 Cooked Red Peppers thinly sliced
1 spring onion
2 tbsp white wine vinegar – I use Forum
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp chopped coriander

4 medium waxy potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil to cover

Pour the oil into a pot
Add the potatoes and bring to a gently boil
When bubbles are just rising to the surface, reduce the heat low
and cook for about 10 minutes
Test with a knife – they will just give and you know they are done
Set aside still under the oil

Combine all the Escabeche ingredients and set aside until needed

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a hot pan
Place the fish in the pan skin side down and leave to cook without moving it
It will get golden and crispy after about 3 minutes
Add the butter, turn the pan down a bit and baste your salmon until it is cooked to your liking about 5 minutes more

Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place on to serving plate, place salmon over the top and add the pepper escabeche and serve.

Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder Mexican style

We have a strong Mexican heritage in my family :) The students from the Legionaries of Christ used to stay with us for almost a year to learn English – God love them, when I think about what it must have been like landing into a family of 6 kids with almost no english and the most exotic thing in our family would have been him and the sherry cookie dessert my mum used to prepare for dinner parties (it was the ’70’s) . They used to bring presents – heavily embellished Mexican hats and wraps as well as a wooden yoke that you used to make hot chocolate – they are all still at home, if I raided the presses, I’m sure I would find them.

We had never head of Mexican food but my mother persevered, I have strong memories of her trying to make tortillas for him one day and serving up dinner with a side plate loaded up with tortillas (Irish style).

Anyway, we have moved on a bit in Ireland and mexican food is not longer a great unknown – thanks to this Irish website, I am able to stock up on all the mexican essentials including chipotles, mole poblano, pipian, mole verde and all and next day delivery was great – (no kickback being received for naming it!). Link here

Slow Roast Port Shoulder in Chipotle Adobe Sauce

2 whole Large Onions
1 Pork Shoulder about 2.5kg
3 tbsp Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
2 tbsp moLe poblano paste
1ltr Beef or Veal stock
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper

Oven at about 150C
Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large Le Creuseut style pot
Generously season the pork then place on top of the onions in the pan.
Add the veal or beef stock, stir in the chitpotle peppers and the poblano paste, followed by the brown sugar.
Place lid on the pot and into the oven.
Cook for about six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not return to the oven for another hour. If it needs more liquid, top up with water or stock if you have it.
Remove meat from pot and use two forks to shred discarding any large bits of fat.
Strain the fat off the cooking liquid and discard.
Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve.
Serve on warm tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa, sour cream, red cabbage slaw, pickles…. Enjoy!

Coconut Prawns with Orange Dipping Sauce

Who can resist prawns? – I know I love them, just not the price. I have made a similar recipe before but this marmalade dipping sauce for me works better than else. You need the biggest prawns you can get for this recipe, don’t bother if you only have the tiddlers. This is such a moreish dish so be prepared for a scramble for the last one. If you are living in Dublin, Can I recommend the Asia Market – I often buy the frozen prawns there especially if I’m making this for a gang.

OO&L Coconut Prawns

Coconut Prawns with Orange marmalade dipping sauce
Serves 4-6

4oz coconut flakes
6oz bread crumbs – I use panko but use normal if you cant get it
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
24 large prawns, peeled and deveined
Vegetable oil, for frying

4 heaped tbsp marmalade
1 tbsp dark rum
Pinch of chilli flakes

In a large bowl, combine coconut and the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper.
Place flour, eggs, and bread crumb mixture into 3 separate bowls.
Dredge the prawns in flour, followed by egg finally, coat liberally with the bread crumbs.
(This order is important, as I have learnt!)
Lay them on parchment until ready to fry.
Ban all kids from the kitchen, then heat several inches of oil to 350 degrees F in a heavy bottom pot.
Fry the prawns in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Be careful not to overcrowd and drain on kitchen roll.

For the Dipping Sauce: heat the marmalade in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the rum and add a few pinches of chilli flakes if you want some heat. Cook for a minute or two and serve with the prawns.

Summer Veg Carbonara

We are just back from a visit to Lake Garda, stunning scenery, amazing food and 12 days of work free bliss. I have a dream that some day I might spend more of my days enjoying La Dolce Far niente but in the meantime the memories of stunning scenery, delicious food, local markets as well as the extra few pounds and 23 mossie bites I brought home with me, live on.

The markets in Verona were full of courgettes and various other squash which inspired this recipe for a summer time carbonara. Use a gluten free pasta if you can as the flavour of the vegetables and the carbonara sauce more then mask the slightly sluggish taste of the pasta.


Summer vegetable carbonara
Serves 4-6
6 slices of pancetta cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tbasp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 clove of garlic peeled chopped and mashed
8 oz courgette or other squash of choice cut into long slices about 2″ each
1 large red pepper deseeded and cut into long strips
4 oz mascarpone whipped and loosened with a further 4 tbsp olive oil
1oz Parmesan grated
1 lb Spaghetti or Linguine – preferable gluten free

Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.
Cook the pancetta over a medium heat until crisp about 5 minutes.
Pour off most of the fat which renders, add 2 tbsp oil and cook shallot and garlic until they soften about 5 minutes.
Add the peppers and courgette and cook, stirring occasionally until tender.
Season well, remove from the heat and keep warm.
Cook the pasta according to instructions until al dente.
Drain reserving some of the pasta water and put the pasta back into the pasta pot.
Add the peppers and courgette and gently mix toegher.
Add the mascarpone mix and using 2 large forks bring the pasta and veg through the mixture.
Add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen, add the grated Parmesan and bring to the table to serve.


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