Brown Lentil Soup with a Kick
A personal trainer in central London (who is also a vegetarian) gave me this recipe, and it's perfect for these dark winter evenings when it's cold and frosty outside.
1. The night before eating, soak half a coffee mug of brown lentils (whole lentils, not split) in a pan of cold water overnight. Use plenty of water, as the lentils will soak it up like a sponge.
2. Day of eating: finely chop one large red onion, likewise with 2 large cloves of garlic. Then fry these in a large deep pan (I use 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil)
3. Add 1 pint of boiling water to the pan containing the fried onions & garlic. Add chilli powder, paprika, and ground black pepper ( I'll leave the quantities of these spices up to you, depending on how spicy you like your food, but be warned, black pepper is very hot if you add too much, as one of my friends can testify)
4. Drain the lentils and add them to the pan of boiling water, fried onions, spices etc, and boil for an initial 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add 12 pitted black olives (ie- stones removed, vital if you want to keep your teeth) and simmer the lentils with the lid on for a full 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more boiling water if you prefer the soup thinner ( I like it quite thick and substantial).
6. Serve in a bowl with some wholemeal pitta bread on the side. Drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil into the soup.
Brown lentils are a great source of nutrients, they're packed with goodness. Countries where lentils and other pulses feature large in the national diet enjoy far lower levels of heart disease. This is largely due to the high levels of soluble fibre in lentils, which reduces the bad (LDL) cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL can lead to coronary heart disease. Lentils are a rich source of folate (vitamin B9) which is vital for DNA synthesis and repair, as well as red blood cell production. Other micronutrients in brown lentils include iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, copper and manganese. Lentils are truly nutrient-rich.
Breakdown of macronutrients per 100g of lentils:
If you're into gluten & dairy-free food, get yourself over to Indigo Restaurant at One Aldwych Hotel in London's Covent Garden. The bread they serve is made from buckwheat flour. The chocolate mousse is made with coconut oil. Dominic Teague, the executive chef, says that nobody has noticed the difference in taste. This smashes the myth that gluten-free or dairy-free means dull and boring. If Novak Djokovic were to ask me for a great restaurant to eat at in London, I'd recommend Indigo. Thanks to the personal trainer in London's west end who recommended this great restaurant.
Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world, which is due both to Icelanders' high levels of physical activity, and their healthy diet. Here's a typical Icelandic dinner:
Grilled Atlantic herring
Mashed turnips with butter
Lightly boiled cabbage
For pudding: a bowl of Skyr, an Icelandic dairy product very similar to natural yoghurt, rich in protein but low in sugar and other additives. Skyr is now available in Asda, and Skyr manufacturer Arla Foods plans to roll it out into other supermarkets too.
This is a quick and easy salad, ideal for a busy lifestyle.
Ingredients (serves 1):
1 can tuna
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
Half a can of sweetcorn
De-seed and chop the peppers into bite size chunks, add the rest of the ingredients, and serve with a dresssing of olive oil/red wine vinegar.
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
One of my personal training clients in Chelsea recommended this recipe, which is full of immune-boosting garlic and ginger.
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 small cloves garlic (or one generous teaspoon garlic paste)
finely chopped raw ginger
16 cashew nuts
Soak the cashew nuts in a glass of water in the fridge overnight.
Finely chop the onions, garlic and ginger and stir-fry in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft.
Chop the parsnips into small cubes and bring to the boil in a pan of water then simmer for 15 minutes or until soft.
Transfer all the ingredients into a pan with 6 mugs of boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
Serve with wholemeal pitta bread and a side salad.
This is my favourite quick meal. As a London personal trainer I'm often training clients in the evenings, and it's great to have a quick and easy recipe like this to make when I get home at 9.30pm.
I make a plain omelette, and make the other half of the meal in a separate pan, so they're both ready at the same time.
First, the baby tomatoes part: In a wok or non-stick pan, heat up some olive oil on the hob, then add whole baby tomatoes, garlic, black olives, and young leaf spinach. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat.
Then make the omelette. I have 5 egg omelettes, which most people think is too many eggs, but I think eggs are one of the best sources of good fats and protein, and a whole range of vitamins and minerals.
I got this recipe from one of my personal training clients in Cheslea, who spent several years in the Middle East.
half a mug of bulgar wheat
packet of fine trimmed green beans
handful of raisins
2 small chicken breasts
handful of fresh mint
handful of fresh chives
For the dressing: olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, ground black pepper
The night before:
Cube the chicken breast into bite-size pieces, and marinade in garlic paste in a sealed freezer bag, leave in fridge overnight.
Soak the raisins in water, leave in fridge overnight.
30 minutes before:
Rinse and cook the bulgar wheat for 12 minutes on high heat, drain and leave to cool.
Stir-fry the chicken cubes in a wok
Boil the green beans (chopped into bite size pieces) and leave to cool.
Drain the raisins
Just before serving:
Add the bulgar, chicken cubes, green beans and raisins to a salad bowl.
Mix the dressing and pour over the above.
Chop the mint and chives and add to the bowl.
Mix thoroughly and serve.
Sirloin steak and Vegetable Stir-Fry
300g sirloin steak (tenderise by beating with a rolling pin, and cut into strips)
2 red peppers (washed, de-seeded, cut into strips)
6 baby sweetcorn cobs
200g mangetout or fine green beans (trimmed)
1 clove of garlic (peeled and chopped into strips, or you can cheat with garlic paste)
1 red chilli (de-seeded and chopped into strips)
Whole-wheat noodles (Sharwoods are a good brand)
Heat a large non-stick pan or wok, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, wait until the oil is hot, and stir-fry the beef for 3 minutes.
Add all the other ingredients, and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
Add half a mug of boiling water, and continue to stir-fry for a further 3 minutes.
Take off the heat, cover with a lid, while you cook the noodles (follow instructions on the packet, usually takes around 4 minutes).
Drain the noodles, put in a pre-warmed bowl, and add the stir-fry. Makes a simple and tasty dish, and healthy too!
Algerian chicken salad
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 small chicken breasts (skinless and diced)
1/2 a mug of bulgar wheat (rinsed under tap)
Handful of raisins (soaked for 3 hours)
6 dried apricots (chopped into strips and soaked for 3 hours)
Fresh mint leaves, torn
Pot of hummus (ideally the low fat version)
12 pitted black olives
2 red peppers (washed and chopped into strips, seeds removed)
1 medium red onion (finely diced)
Garlic (2 cloves, chopped fine)
Red chillis (chopped, seeds removed, use 1 or 2 depending on how hot you want it))
Lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
Ground black pepper
A few hours in advance, stir-fry the red peppers and onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil.Then add the diced chicken, and stir-fry until cooked through. Then set aside in a bowl and allow to cool for 30 minutes, then put in the fridge for at least 1 hour, covered in cling film.
Cook the bulgar wheat for 12 minutes in boiling water, then drain, put in a bowl, allow to cool, then put in fridge.
When the stir-fry chicken mixture and the bulgar wheat have been in fridge for at least 1 hour, remove from fridge, place in large salad bowl, and mix together the bulgar with the chicken and stir-fried peppers/onion. Then drain the apricots and raisins, and add them to the salad bowl. Finally, add the other ingredients and mix together. The best way to mix in the hummus is to add it a teaspoon at a time in random dollops, then mix up with the other ingredients.
Finally chop up the red chillis, remove the seeds, and sprinkle on top of the salad. Drizzle some lemon juice (Jiff lemon is best, so you don't get lemon pips in your salad). Then grind some black pepper over the salad.
Here's a recipe of my own creation, which uses one of the most nutritious meats on the planet: lamb's liver. It also happens to be one of the cheapest meats available. Full of iron and very low in fat, lambs liver is a fantastic way to get your iron levels up without raising your bad cholesterol levels (which can happen if you eat fattier cuts of red meat).
Lambs liver (buy plenty, so you can throw away the stringy/gristly bits and just keep the tender bits)
I large onion
2 carrots (peeled)
garlic powder, ground black pepper, chilli powder, mixed in a cup of cold water.
half a cup of bulgar wheat (rinsed thoroughly in a sieve)
Cut the lamb's liver into bite size pieces, and discard all the gristy/stringy bits.
Peel the carrots and onion, and chop finely.
Chop the aubergine into bite-size pieces.
On high heat, fry the onions in a wok style pan in olive oil (2 tablespoons), then add the liver and stir until brown on both sides.
Add the aubergine and carrot pieces, stir, then add the cup of dissolved garlic/chilli/pepper.
Turn down the heat to medium, cover pan with lid, and simmer for 15 mins.
Meanwhile, cook the bulgar wheat, following instructions on packet (usually 10 mins in boiling water), then drain thoroughly and serve.
Perfect for this hot weather, a taste of traditional Serbia food.
Prepare the dressing the day before serving.
Dressing ingredients: (serves 2)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
freshly ground black peppercorns
half teaspoon each of dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil, dried marjoram
1 finely chopped red chilli pepper (2 if you like it spicy hot!)
Shake the contents thoroughly in a glass jar with sealed lid (an old jam-jar is ideal) and store in the fridge overnight.
Next morning remove and discard the garlic cloves, as the garlic will be sufficiently infused into the dressing.
Salad ingredients: (serves 2)
2 fresh tomatoes
1 medium size white onion
half a cucumber
1 red pepper
3 small matchbox size blocks of fetta cheese
romaine lettuce, washed
Dice all the ingredients (except the romaine lettuce), and mix together with the dressing (but first remember to remove and discard the garlic cloves from the dressing)
Then serve on a bed of romaine lettuce. Some people prefer to sprinkle the fetta on the top, but I prefer it mixed into the salad.
Summer is here at last, so here's a great salad to prepare for the weekend.
Young leaf spinach
1 tablespoon pine-nuts
cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
2 heaped tablespoons of crumbled goats cheese
Dressing of olive oil, crushed garlic, red wine vinegar, and dijon mustard
Quick and easy to prepare, just make sure you wash the young leaf spinach to get rid of any dirt/grit.
Bulgar wheat (a third of a coffee mug, a quarter if you're looking to lose weight)
raisins (a heaped tablespoon, soaked overnight in water)
skinless chicken breast, cubed into bite size pieces
2 red peppers
6 cherry tomatoes
dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, ground black pepper
Soak the raisins overnight in a coffee mug, covered in clingfilm.
Bulgar wheat: rinsed, cooked for 10 mins in a pan of water, rinsed again in cold water and drained thoroughly.
Stir fry the chicken cubes for 10 mins in a wok or nonstick pan, with garlic if you like, stir regularly and check cooked through.
You could also stir-fry the red peppers separately, the day before, and leave to cool in the fridge, or chop them up raw in the salad.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, add the mint and chives, and drizzle with the dressing.
Toss the salad and serve.
My personal training clients often ask me for healthy snack suggestions. Fancy something spicy and fresh to liven up your snack time between meals? Mexican guacamole is hard to beat.
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 ripe avocados (de-stoned and finely chopped)Half a red onion (finely chopped)
1 ripe tomato (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)
1 red chilli pepper (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh corriander, finely chopped
Lemon or lime juice
Mix up these ingredients thoroughly, and serve with brownwholemeal bread/toast. You can experiment with the proportions of the ingredients until you find the mix you like best. In Mexico, they put a whole lot more chilli into theirs.
If you don't eat it straight away, store in a glass bowl, and cover with cling-film. The cling-film prevents oxidation of the avocado, and also stops your fridge smelling of onions and garlic. The lemon/lime juice delays the oxidation process. In Mexico, guacamole is a standard part of breakfast.
You can either use Hass avocados (small, rough dark-skinned) or Fuerte avocados (larger, more pear-shaped, smooth light green skin. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which have many health benefits. They're also rich in the B vitamins, also vitamin E (great for skin health), and vitamin K (good for bone health). As well as all these vitamins, avocados are also rich in the mineral potassium. This mineral helps regulate fluid balance (it's one of the electrolytes), brain function, and your nervous system. And avocados are a good source of soluble fibre, which helps lower LDL cholesterol levels.
You're better off making your own guacamole rather than buying it ready-made from a supermarket. The actual avocado content of some supermarket brands is as little as 2%, and they usually contain excessively high salt levels. You don't need to add any salt to home-made guacamole.
I had the best Thai green chicken curry I've ever tasted when I stayed at the Halekulani Hotel, while on holiday in Honolulu, Hawaii. (I had not yet started out as a personal trainer at this time, but I was already living in London). When the waiter came to the table to ask if we were enjoying our meal, I jokingly asked for the recipe so I could cook this amazing curry when I returned to London. The waiter smiled. When I returned to my room an hour later, there was an envelope pushed under the door, with the following recipe inside:
Green curry paste
Chicken breast (chopped into cubes)
Fine green beans (chopped)
Stir and fry the garlic, shallots, lemongrass and lime leaves with butter for 2 minutes. (I use chicken stock cubes in 2 cups of water, but I suspect the hotel restaurant uses fresh chicken stock)
Add green curry paste, and stir fry for a further 1 minute
Then add the coconut milk and chicken stock
Simmer for 1 hour and strain
Then stir fry the chicken cubes with a dash of olive oil for 5 minutes, add the strained sauce, add the fine green beans, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve on a bed of rice. For an extra healthy version, make it brown rice for the slow release of energy and higher fibre content.
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Check this page for a new recipe every week. You can print it out too. Enjoy!
Why not stock up on basics like tinned chopped tomatoes and other tinned foods, using MySupermarket.com - simply go to the website, find the cheapest price, buy online, and have it all delivered to your door.
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