recipes for healthy living

Spinach and Chickpeas



This is such a delicious tasty and filling dish perfect for Autumn. Easy and quick to prepare it is the perfect vegetarian meal if you aren’t a meat eater or pair with fish or chicken if you wish. I always keep frozen spinach in the freezer and it is perfect for this dish, you don’t even have to defrost, simply stir in for the last 5 minutes. This dish is a super meal with protein carbs and good fats and would be perfect for a large family gathering as you can easily double up and make ahead without adding the spinach, then simply reheat and add the spinach as below.

Spinach and Chickpeas

Serves 4 hungry or 6 as a side

1 white onion peeled and sliced
2 cloves of garlic peeled chopped and mashed
1 thumb size piece of ginger peeled and chopped finely
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp each of turmeric, ground cuimin and coriander
1 400ml tin coconut milk
2 medium tins of chickpeas drained and rinsed
200gr frozen spinach
2 tbsp oil
Salt to season

Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the onion until softened but not coloured
Add the ginger and garlic and cook out for about 5 minutes
Dont be afraid to add a splash of water if it looks too dry
Stir in the tomato puree and spices and cook for about 2 minutes
Then add the drained chickpeas and coconut milk, season well and cook for
about 10 minutes until the flavours are well developed.
Taste and be sure to add some more salt if you think it needs it.
Just before serving, add in the frozen spinach and stir through and cook for about 5 minutes.
If you have some fresh coriander, sprinkle this on top.







Blackberry Bakewell Tart

The lanes and fields are lined with blackberries and this is a perfect tart to showcase their beauty. I have picked loads and open froze them before popping into bags in the freezer to keep over the next few months. I love them in smoothies and they are great for enhancing  the taste of the more robust tasting green vegetables which are good to include but can be a challenge to get down. Best though to save the nice big ones for dessert like this delicious tart. It’s a a real winner, looks gorgeous, tastes great and is easy to make and if you are really not into making pastry, there are plenty of options in the supermarket – just buy the shortcrust type. So how is this conducive to a fit and healthy lifestyle…. to be honest, I love to bake but we really don’t eat dessert in our house any more than once a week and when we do, it is home made so we know the quality of the ingredients and where they came from. Baking gives me joy and I always think when you have put the effort into baking something and the family is sitting down together to enjoy it then it is a time for joy and happiness and not for guilt about eating something sweet.

Shortcrust pastry

6oz plain flour
pinch of salt
3ozoz chilled butter, cubed
60-70ml approx cold water

Tip flour butter and salt into a food processor and pulse gently until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the water and gently pulse again until it comes together
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Once rested, roll it out on a lighlty flour dusted surface to a 3mm thickness.
Line a 200mm tart ring or tart tin with removable bottom.
Trim any excess, line with parchment and baking beans and bake at 170C for approximately 10 minutes.
Remove the beans and cool.

Almond Filling
140gr butter
zest of a lemon
140gr icing sugar
140gr eggs (approx 3 but beat them together gently and weigh)
140gr almond flour (almond meal)
50gr plain flour – you can use gluten free if you wish

Beat the butter lemon zest and sugar together.
Add the eggs then the almond meal and flour and beat together until smooth and incorporated fully.
This keeps if you want to make a few days in advance – store in the fridge.

To complete the tart
300gr blackberries
3 tbsp blackberry jam
2 handfuls of almonds

Spoon 3 tbsp blackberry jam into the base of the partially cooked tart.
Spoon or pipe over the almond cream and arrange the blackberries on top of the cream pushing them in slightly. Sprinkle over the almonds then, bake at 170C for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 160C and bake for about 10 more minutes.
The tart is cooked when the tart is a light golden brown.
Enjoy warm with some cream and savour the taste of autumn.

Autumn Vegetables

This is actually my favourite time of year, hopefully not too cold and still the odd gloriously warm day hanging round to take you by surprise. I think as a race, we tend to look better in Autumn too, all wrapped up, rather than with with our Irish exposed to the sunshine. The biggest plus though is that you can really get cooking again, people tend to be hungrier when the days are cooler – none of this ‘I’ll just have a salad’..

Veg are really coming into their own and this time of year and I love them. In response to people who tell me they get a bit bored with vegetables or never know how to cook them – a few recipes below to help you up the veg intake in your diet.

Spicy Sweet Potato
Serves 4
4 medium sweet potato
1-2 tbsp Harissa paste
2 large handfuls of Coriander, stalk and all, chopped

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into equal size pieces
Add to a pot of water ensuring the water covers them
Add 2 tsp salt and bring to the boil and simmer until tender
Drain and reserve a cup of the water
Tip into a blender, add the harissa, coriander and season well.
Blend, adding some of the cooking water if needed
Taste and if you need to up the heat further, add some more harissa paste

Variations – This can be made with many other root veg, parsnip, squash, turnip
Sweet potato is full of potassium so it helps with heart health.


Green Beans with Garlic and Onion Seeds
Serves 4
1bl green beans trimmed
1 tbsp Nigella (onion) seeds
2 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp salt

Blanch the beans in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain and plunge into ice cold water – this sets the lovely green colour, nothing worse than grey beans.
Heat the oil in a pan, Add the onion seeds and when they begin to pop add the garlic and stir to ensure it doesn’t catch. Put the heat down low and add the beans stirring until they are warm and have taken on the flavour of the garlic and the onion seeds. Season well and serve.

You can blanch the veg ahead of time and they will keep in the fridge for a day or 2. Variation- Broccoli is also delicious like this. You can also add 2 handfuls of slivered almonds in with the garlic and hold back the beans or broccoli until they have toasted a little.

Broccoli with Walnut Vinaigrette and crispy shallots

The nut oil coats the broccoli giving it a delicious flavour. You can also use Hazelnut oil – equally delicious.

1lb tenderstem or purple sprouting broccoli trimmed
2 tbsp walnut oil – or hazelnut oil
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of a lemon
1 garlic clove peeled and finely chopped
pinch sugar
4 small shallots finely sliced (or use the pre fried shallots available in Ikea and some Asian markets)

To make the fried shallots, Heat a small layer of vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the shallots for about 10 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt and set aside
If you are using pre made ones, heat on a dry pan over a gently heat, season and keep warm.
Whisk the lemon juice with sugar garlic and lots of seasoning. Whisk in the olive oil and walnut oil
Blanch the broccoli or steam until just tender. Drain well
Pour over the vinaigrette and scatter over the shallots and serve immediately.

Halloumi Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

I love the flavour from the saltiness of this cheese and the great thing about it is that it has a very high heat tolerance so it works really well fried or baked. This makes a delicious lunch for these early days of autumn when there are still a few summer days hanging round. Chargrilled broccoli works well here in this salad but equally some courgette or aubergine would be great.


Grilled Halloumi Salad
Serves 2
2 oz mixed nuts – I used pine nuts, walnuts pecans and hazlenuts would be great.
4 big handfuls prepared mixed salad mix
Small head of broccoli blanched and cooled
4oz Halloumi cut into about 1″ slices

Raspberry vinaigrette
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
pinch salt
Mix these ingredients together until emulsified and dress the salad with the vinaigrette.

Toast the nuts in a non-stick pan over a low heat, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute until golden – beware they burn really easily.
Heat griddle pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes
Oil the Halloumi and broccoli and place onto the griddle until the halloumi is getting browned on all sides and vegetables are getting nicely charred.
In the meantime, place salad leaves and pine nuts onto salad plate
Once Halloumi is browned evenly on all sides, add to salad.
Drizzle with Raspberry Vinaigrette and enjoy!

Raspberry Vinaigrette

Breakfast Flapjacks


With Autumn here and back to school around the corner, I’m posting my favourite recipe for flapjacks because I get so many requests for it on my FB and Instagram. These are not the sugar laden variety you see in most baking books as I have eliminated all cane sugar and rely on honey and dried fruit for plenty of sweetness. These are perfect for breakfast as is or with some yoghurt and as a lunch snack when time is short and you need to grab something also perfect in school lunchboxes. From a health point of view, these are much better than shop bought variety, there are no nasties and though they are high calorie, In my opinion they are worth it. They keep for about a week in an airtight  container though they don’t last that long in our house.

Flapjacks – Makes 20
Oven at 180C

1kg porridge oats
300gr butter
250gr honey
400ml water
100gr dried fruit of choice
(optional extras include flax pumpkin and sunflower seeds – a couple of handfuls total)

Melt the butter and honey together over a gently heat – ensure you dont boil the butter
Mix the oats with the dried fruit and add a pinch of salt
Make a well in the middle, add the melted butter honey mix and the water and mix together until all the oats are incorporated. If it is a bit dry, don’t worry just add some more water until it is all mixed in.
Tip into a flat baking tray which has a lip all round, dampen your hands and press the mixture firmly flat, pressing into all the corners.
Bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown.
Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then mark out the cut marks for the flapjacks and leave to cool completely.
Makes 20.

392 cals per piece

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