recipes for a healthy life

Dark Chocolate Prune Tart


I make lots of chocolate cakes & tarts and while there is no way to make them completely healthy and caloriefree (is that a word?) I try make sure I have done a workout first and also used really good quality ingredients. If you keep the cocoa solids content high then the resulting bitter chewy chocolaty tart will be worth it. Made with a mix of gluten free flour and almond or hazelnut flour gives a delicious pastry. This tart will feed quite a lot and a small piece is enough with a dollop of cream on the side..unless you are my other half and a small piece is not enough at all :-)

200gr gluten free plain flour
100gr almond flour or ground hazlenuts
200gr butter
pinch of salt
3-4 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

600ml cream
300gr dark chocolate (at least 70%) use drops or chop a bar into small pieces
5 egg yolks
75gr butter
50gr coconut palm sugard or dark brown sugar
100gr prunes chopped and pitted
1 tbsp cocoa

Oven at 180C
Whizz flours and butter in a food processor
Add vanilla extract, water and whizz until it comes together – not too wet
Tip out, gently knead and wrap in cling and chill for at least 30 minutes
Roll out and line a 28cm tart tin. Prick the base and chill again before cooking
Line with greaseproof and fill with pastry beans and bake for about 20 minutes
Remove the beans and paper and bake for about 5 more minutes until golden brown and crisp
Melt the chocolate with the butter and sugar over a bain-marie
Stir until smooth and set aside to cool a bit
Whisk the eggs and add some of the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Then add remaining chocolate mixture and stir gently until incorporated.
Stir in the prunes and pour over the tart base
Bake for about 20 minutes until just set
Let cool and dust with the cocoa powder.

Quick Mini Quiches Perfect for the Lunchbox or a speedy supper


My other half is not a great pastry fan especially if it’s not gluten free. These mini quiches are the perfect fast and easy way to a lovely supper and the leftovers are a great lunchbox option. Full of great flavours, loaded with great nutrition and cook in about 15 minutes so what’s not too like. You can use any ingredients you like – the 2 varieties below are my favourites.

Makes 12 (6 of each)

5 eggs beaten with 100ml milk
Grease a 12 muffin tin
Oven at 170C

Filling 1
1/2 small sweet potato peeled and sliced into tiny dice
1 small onion diced
2oz Pancetta
1 Roasted Pepper peeled and sliced
2 tbsp oil
1 knob of butter
1 sprig of thyme

Heat 1 tbs oil in a pan and add the onion and cook until soft and translucent
Remove from the pan and add the pancetta and cook until it is crisy
Remove from the pan, add some more oil if needed and add the sweet potato, with the butter and thyme, season and cook until soft and caramelised. Add everything into a bowl, take out the thyme,taste for seasoning and set aside.

Filling 2
1 small onion diced and cooked in a little oil until soft and translucent.
3 handfuls of Spinach washed and drained.
2 oz Goats Cheese in small cubes
1 tbsp Chopped Chives
Mix all the ingredients together and season well.

Divide the two fillings into the muffin tins – makes about 6 of each
Pour over the egg milk mixture and into the oven for about 12-15 minutes until puffed up
and cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly – remove from the tins and serve with some salad on the side. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Roasted Root Veggie Curry

Summer may be on the way but the days can still be chilly and for me a Thai curry is still one of my favourite meals, pretty quick to prepare and really delicious. Roasting the vegetables in advance adds a delicious caramelized flavour to the veg and the end result gives a great bang of antioxidants from the spices plus getting lots of your 5 a day in. This is a no brainer – make it a regular staple in your house. Up the heat with more chillis if you like it hotter, me-I like it hot but have to hold back as my other half and Eva don’t like having their heads boiled :-)

Roasted Vegetable Thai Green Curry
1 large Sweet potato or 1/2 a squash of choice
1 large potato
1 small Cauliflower
2 tbsp of Ketchup Manis or sweet soy sauce

200ml Coconut Milk
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp Turmeric
1″ piece of Ginger peeled and chopped
1 medium Onion
2 big cloves of Garlic, peeled chopped and mashed
3-4 Lime leaves
1 big tbsp Green Curry Paste

to Finish
Fish Sauce, Palm Sugar and Lime Juice to taste

Peel the root vegetables and cut into large bit size pieces and tip into a bowl
Wash and trim the cauliflower, reserve half if very large and cut the rest into large florets
Tip into the bowl, season, add 2 tbsp ketchup manis and 2 tbsp rapeseed oil and mix to coat the veg. Tip onto a roasting tray and roast at 180 for 20 minutes

Meanwhile, Heat 2 tbsp rapeseed oil in wide bottomed pot over a medium heat
Add onion and cook gently until softened
Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes
Tip in the green curry paste and cook for about 5 minutes – add a tbsp or 2 of water if it gets a bit dry
Add the turmeric and stir and cook for another minute
Tip in the coconut milk and cook over a gentle heat for about 7 minutes
Add in the cooked vegetables, season with salt and cook until the sauce has thickened
Just before serving add fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice to finally season.
This depends on your taste but I added about 2tbsp fish sauce, the juice of a full lime and 1 tbsp of palm sugar, gradually, stirring each time and tasting before I was happy with it.
Serve as is or with cooked basmati rice if preferred.

Greek Style Lemon Roasties & a Delicious Chopped Salad

The only upside of an horrific holiday in Crete many years ago, was a walk down a dark beach towards a light at the end at the end of the beach, which we had been told was a great local restaurant. The simple Taverna with a huge brick oven in which they roasted whole chickens and potatoes with Greek lemons and herbs. The memory of that meal has stayed with me, long after the nightmare of the alco-fueled teenagers celebrating their leaving certificate has dimmed.


Greek Style Lemon Roasted Potatoes
100ml rapeseed oil
4oz butter, melted
Juice and zest of a lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tablespoon dried oregano (make sure it isnt really old!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 large potatoes peeled and halved

Oven at 200C
Combine the oil, melted butter, lemon juice & zest, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper.
Add the potatoes and toss to coat.
Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet and drizzle any remaining liquid from the bowl over them.
Bake in the preheated oven until potatoes are brown and crispy, about 45 minutes to an hour.
Serve with a roast chicken and the chopped salad – below.

Chopped salad with yoghurt dressing

For the Dressing
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 ts minced garlic
4floz Greek yoghurt

Mix everything except the yoghurt and set aside for a few minutes
Add the yoghurt and whisk to combine

For the Salad
1 cucumber deseeded and grated, squeezing out as much water as you can
1 head of lettuce of choice – I like romaine
4 handfuls of rocket
3oz walnuts toasted and chopped
2tbsp each of fresh dill mint and flt leaf parsley chopped
Salt and Pepper

Wash and dry the salad leaves then roll up like a cigar and chop
Toss into a bowl, add the cucumber, herbs, rocket and half the walnuts
Toss the dressing over the salad and season generously
Top with the remaining walnuts and serve

Chocolate Sable Biscuits …. Not your average biscuit



Its Lent and my daughter has given up jellies and her will power is admirable. Even when others are eating jellies around her, she remembers her promise. She asked her Dad to give up chocolate with her but I’m not sure how that is going as there was a box of these in the press last week and now the’re all gone…..

I’m not that surprised really, they are delicious and as a bonus really easy to make, can be cut and cooked from frozen in 13 minutes so are really handy to keep in the freezer and works equally well with gluten free flour. Throw in some chopped nuts instead of chocolate drops and they will also be lovely. I adapted this from a published recipe, reducing the sugar and using gluten free flour. Really easy to make, really delicious – just don’t eat them all!

Chocolate biscuits – recipe adapted from Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Sable Biscuits

Makes about 25
175gr all-purpose gluten free flour
30gr good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
150gr unsalted butter, room temperature
80gr light brown sugar
20gr granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur del sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150gr good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips

Oven at 170C
Sieve the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
Beat the butter until soft and creamy.
Add sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more until light and creamy
Pour in the dry ingredients and gently pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time.
Mix just until the flour disappears into the dough – work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t worry if the dough looks a little crumbly.
Add the chocolate and mix gently incorporate.
Turn the dough out, gather it together and divide it in half.
Shape each piece into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for a few hours.
(The dough will keep in the fridge for about 3 days or just pop into the freezer. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Using a sharp knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick
Place on a lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.
Bake for 12 minutes or an extra minute if frozen.
Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.


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