recipes for a healthy life

Chickpea Curry with Spinach & Cashew Cream

It has become a habit for Monday to be meat free, a day of eating lighter and today was no exception and actually really welcome after what was a busy weekend of eating and drinking. (If you saw the lump of beef we shared yesterday I think you’d understand:-) )

Chickpeas are a staple in our house – I usually make a lot of dips and veggie burgers with them, today I decided on some heat and this chickpea curry was perfect for what I wanted. Filling, full of flavour with a great bang of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from all the spices as well as an extra boost of protein thanks to the cashew nut cream. I have been making this for quite a while either as a staple in my vegetarian cooking or as a cream base in chocolate tarts- if you don’t have it don’t worry , it’s not essential but I do include how to prepare it below.


Serves 4
2 tbsp coconut or rape seed oil
1/2 red onion finely chopped
2 tins of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
1 tsp each of finely chopped garlic and ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp degi mirch or other chili powder of choice
1 tin chopped tomatoes drained of half the liquid
5 large handfuls of spinach, washed dried and destalked

Heat the oil and add the red onion , garlic and ginger and a splash of water and cook gently until the onion is softened.
Stir in all the spices and cook for a few minutes until they loose their rawness.
Add the chickpeas and tomatoes and season well and cook for about 10 minutes. over a gentle heat – this gets the flavours nicely developed.
If you are using the cashew cream stir 2 large tbsp in well to incorporate and then add the spinach leaves and fold through to allow them to wilt fully.
Cook for a final 2 minutes, season well to taste and serve. This is also great the next day with a poached egg on top.

Cashew Cream
Cashew cream is made by soaking the cashew nuts overnight with cold water (enough to cover them) or by boiling the cashews until they are soft and leaving them to cool. Drain the water.
Tip them into a blender and blend really well until smooth and like a thick paste, Add some water to help this along.

This can be stored in the fridge or frozen until you need it. Stir it into vegetable stock for a lovely creamy sauce, into lentils or beans or indeed use it as the base for ice cream – simply blend it with your fruit of choice and freeze or add melted chocolate for a vegan ganache which you can pour into a chocolate tart base  – recipe coming soon!.



Eggs Bacon and Beans


Almost a Full Irish but healthier – not dripping in grease but a simple dish full of good fats, complex carbohydrates, protein and B vitamins full of great flavour and packs a real energy punch. This is so easy to make and can be knocked up in less than 12 minutes.

Serves 2 as a main or 3-4 for lunch.

Eggs, Bacon and Beans
100gr lardons
1 400gr tin each of butter and cannellini beans drained and rinsed
1 clove of garlic peeled chopped and mashed
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tbsp tomato passata
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp rape or coconut seed oil
2 eggs per person

Heat a pan over a gentle heat and add the oil
Add the garlic and cook for a minute until it starts to soften
Tip in the lardons and turn the heat up and cook for about 2 minutes until they start to release their fat and become crispy
Add the remaining ingredients and a splash of water and cook for about 10 minutes.
Season to taste.
Just before serving, fry 2 eggs per person and serve on top of the beans,
Season and serve.

Cauliflower Alla Primavera


Spring Vegetables full of colour make this dish a feast for the eyes and the taste-buds. Usually made with spaghetti but I fancied using some cauliflower instead just to keep it chock full of veggies. For the people in the house who don’t think they have been fed if there isn’t meat or fish then throw an oven baked salmon darne on top to keep them satisfied. I love this for all the goodness and flavour of the vegetables and its easy to prepare once you have your veg blanched.

Cauliflower Alla Primavera
Serves 3-4
1 head of cauliflower stalked and whizzed to ‘rice’
1 small head of broccoli cut into stalks and blanched and refreshed
1/2 courgette washed and cut into batons, blanched and refreshed
3 oz peas cooked and cooled
A handful of cherry tomatoes halved
1 oz toasted pine nuts
Herb oil to serve – see below
4 tbsp rape seed oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano

Peel chop and mash the garlic.
Heat 3 tbsp oil and tip in the garlic and cook over a gentle heat until it softens then tip in the cauliflower and the oregano- keep it at a medium heat for about 10 minutes until it softens. Keep warm while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and tip in the broccoli and courgette , season and gently cook until it is warm – about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and peas and cook for a further minute.
To serve, spoon some of the cauliflower rice into a bowl, spoon over a selection of the vegetables.
Sprinkle over the pine nuts and a few tbsp of herb oil.

Herb Oil (Perfect over salads, meat, quiches)
2 handfuls each of flat leaf parsley coriander and mint
Enough good olive oil to cover the herbs by at least an inch
Whizz in the blender and season with a drop of salt and a glug of apple cider vinegar.


Chipotle Sweet Potato and Butter Bean Casserole


This dish of chipotle beans and sweet potato make a delicious substantial meal, perfect for a mid week supper as is, or with a couple of eggs tucked into the dish as it finishes cooking amps it up for a very hungry gang. I love the smoky sweetness coupled by the heat which Chipotle brings to a dish and I usually have a jar of it on hand in the fridge.

Serves 2-3 people
1 large sweet potato (about 450gr) peeled and cubed
1 shallot sliced
1 clove garlic peeled mashed
2 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
1 tbsp tomato passata
1 tbsp chipotles in adobo or more if you like it with more heat
1 400gr tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole tomatoes or 5 cherry tomatoes washed and halved
2-3 eggs if using (Turn oven on 180C if so)

Heat the oil over a medium heat in an oven proof frying pan.
Add the shallot and garlic and cook for a few minutes until both are softened.
Tip in the diced sweet potato, season well and toss to ensure it is covered with oil.
Put a lid on the pan or a sheet of greaseproof paper and cook over a low heat to soften for about 10 minutes.
Stir ever now and then to ensure it is not sticking.
Stir in the tomato passata and chipotle and ensure they both are well distributed, add the butter beans, stir gently to
mix together, followed by the can of tomatoes or cherry tomatoes if using and add a splash of water if it seems a bit dry.
At this point you can finish cooking on the hob for about 10 minutes more – check the sweet potatoes are tender. If you are adding the eggs, make 3 holes in the mix, add a little oil into each and crack the egg in. Season with some salt and pepper and into the
oven to cook the eggs – about 7 minutes to firm the white and leave the yolk a bit soft.
Sprinkle over some chopped fresh herbs and serve. This is delicious, filling and with the eggs makes a great brunch dish too.


Spinach and Ricotta Dumplettes

Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings

This is an older recipe which I have tweaked a bit. If you like to be meat free a day or 2 during the week then this is a delicious option. I call these dumplettes and they are made with spinach, ricotta and eggs so there is plenty of oomph in these to fill you up. Add the fact that you are getting a good source of protein from the eggs and cheese as well as a boost of vitamins and good fats from the dressing… Great all round and delicious too.

Spinach and Ricotta Dumplettes

200gr baby spinach -washed, wilted on a hot pan then squeeze out excess water and chop well; (PS it is really essential you squeeze out all the water!)
200gr ricotta cheese;
50gr fresh grated Parmesan
50gr plain gluten free flour and a little more for rolling the dumplettes when formed
2 eggs;
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley;
1 clove of garlic chopped and mashed;

Combine all the ingredients and season well. Mix until a sticky dough forms – you could gently pulse in the food processor if you wished.
With damp hands, roll tablespoons of the mix small balls and roll to coat in the extra flour. Cook in batches in boiling salted water for about 3-4 minutes each. Flip them over half way and then tip them out onto parchment paper. At this point you can cool and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Then melt  some butter in a non stick pan and fry the dumplings over a medium heat for about 2 minutes each side until golden brown and crispy. Drizzle some of the  Tomato and Herb dressing onto the dumplettes and serve.

Tomato and Herb Salsa
300gr mixed cherry tomatoes  quartered
2 anchovy fillets chopped
Handful of mint chives and flat leaf parsley 25chopped
1 clove garlic chopped and mashed
1 tbsp white wine vinegar and olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place everything in a bowl, season and toss to combine.



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