Category Archives: Food Diary

Grilled Mackerel with Watercress, Fennel & Orange Salad

Mackerel with watercress, fennel and orange salad.

My mackerel flipping skills need work, but otherwise this was the perfect lunch following a tough workout at CrossFit Cirencester: grilled mackerel with a salad of watercress, fennel, orange, spring onions and pomegranate, dressed with a little olive oil and salt (the salt pulls out the juices in the fruit so you don’t need vinegar). Extremely quick to make. Big props to Ben at New Wave Fish Shop who recommended this ingredient combination. I feel restored!

And since I’ve been talking macronutrients lately, this was about 400 calories, 22g fat, 19g carbs, 30g protein.

Asian Inspiration

Caramelised Coconut Mackerel from Uyen Luu's book

I’ve just had a super terrific reunion weekend with three of my great friends, Kavey, Pete and Marie. We’ve been anticipating this meet-up for months (FYI: Pinterest is awesome for brainstorming foodie get togethers) and, as usual, hatched some ambitious plans for our menu. I can always count on Kavey to come armed with fun new cookbooks to try, and this weekend it was Uyen Luu’s My Vietnamese Kitchen, which became the focus of our cooking adventures and also inspired us to go with an Asian theme throughout the weekend. As a result, I’m feeling that dopamine high of having learned so many new things! Steamed fish, Shaoxing wine, fried rice, Vietnamese omelettes, Chinese salad dressings, tempura vegetables, new ways with tofu, not to mention some delicious drinks to go with them, and a few solid GAMES to keep us busy between courses (I. Love. Carcassonne.).

IMG_3796

I thought I’d share a few of the recipes that I particularly enjoyed.

We loved Uyen Luu’s Omelette Bánh Mi with quick pickled carrots; the perfect thing for Saturday Lunch. We also loved her Caramelised Coconut Sardines (which we adapted with mackerel, pictured above).

Saturday Lunch: Bahn Mi and Beer

Warm tofu with spicy garlic sauce, perhaps one of the easiest and most delicious preparations for tofu that I’ve ever come across.

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Miso Sesame Dressing, a sauce so nice we made it twice! First to go with panko fried vegetables on Friday night, and we liked it so much that we did it again on Saturday for veggie tempura.

Crispy Salad with Grated Carrots and a Ponzu Soy Dressing from Harumi Kurihara’s Everyday Harumi (another stellar book find).

Harumi Kurihara's Crisp Salad with Grated Carrots and Ponzu Soy Dressing

Steamed Sea Bream with Ginger and Spring Onion, adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s sea bass recipe on matchingfoodandwine.com (we couldn’t get a hold of whole sea bass so used sea bream fillets which worked a charm). This was very simple to make and totally outstanding. Plus, it added a new ingredient to my cooking repertoire: Shaoxing wine!

Steamed sea bream with ginger and spring onion

Spicy Peanut Noodles, another Fuchsia recipe and a perfect side dish for the fish. I’ll definitely be making the peanut sauce again to use on all manners of tasty things (veggie “noodles” come to mind).

Dutch Baby Pancake with Green Tea Ice Cream.

Clafoutis with Whisky-Soaked Dates (adapted from Kate Hill‘s recipe), served with Uyen Luu’s Vietnamese Frozen Yogurt.

Made @katedecamont's clafoutis last night, with whiskey-soaked dates. Leftovers going down well for breakfast with @lovelulu's frozen yogurt.

 

Do check out Uyen Luu’s book, My Vietnamese Kitchen, and while you’re at it, check out my friends’ awesome websites too: Kavey EatsPete Drinks and Lanyon Cottages.

There’s also a few more awesome pictures from our weekend (Banangrams, Pina Coladas, Yahtzee!) on Flickr.

Clean Detox Day 21: The end – or the beginning?

Clean detox day 21

Breakfast: Creamy fig and cardamom smoothie. 3 figs, 50g avocado, 1 tsp flaxseed, 7g almonds, 1 prune (from Gascony!), ice, water and a few crushed cardamom seeds. ~260 calories. I was hoping for a more vibrant purple than I got but the taste was nice.

Lunch: A curried soup made by pureeing leftover dal and curried courgettes with some veggie stock. Garnished with cilantro and coconut chutney.

Dinner: Mexican night. Refried black beans, roast butternut squash, cumin-spiced zucchini, guacamole, green salad.

Thus marks the end of my detox. I’m not exactly eager to finish this thing because I’ve been feeling so good on it so I don’t expect my diet will change very much. I am very much looking forward to re-introducing “nightshade” vegetables back into my diet (tomatoes and peppers!). But I’m not pining for coffee or alcohol as much as I thought I would. And I’m also really looking forward to my next breakfast smoothie. Detox for life? We’ll see… more to come in a follow-up post…

Related Links:

Clean Detox Day 20: Never mind the bread bowl

Clean detox day 20

Breakfast: Beetroot, apple & ginger smoothie. It kicks butt: 1/2 apple, 1/2 raw beetroot, 1 prune, 1cm piece of ginger, 30g spinach, 40g avocado, 2tsp flaxseed, fresh mint, ice, water.

Lunch: Black bean soup in a roasted butternut squash “bowl” with avocado and sprinkled with Piment d’Esplette. This was awesome!

Dinner: Middle eastern food with my Airbnb guests. Quinoa salad with raisins, olives and quinoa (adapted from Ottolenghi’s chermoula aubergine with bulgar and yogurt recipe, which I served to my guests). Plus hummus, green beans and salad. Enjoyable!

Related Links:

Clean Detox Day 19

Clean detox day 19

It is with SOME disappointment that I finish my days on the detox with Airbnb guests in town – they’ve wanted dinner each night of their stay. Good fun, but it also means I’ve been having my solid meals in the evening. No big deal.

Breakfast: Beetroot, avocado and date smoothie with cumin, cocoa & mint (inspired by Sumayya’s Chocolate Chilli Lassi. Recipe: 1 raw beet peeled and quartered (~100g), 50g avocado, two dates, 30g spinach, pinch of cinnamon, a few cumin seeds, a few mint leaves, a dash of cayenne, 1/2 tsp cocoa, ~1cup ice, ~2/3 cup water, small pinch of salt. Blitz on high until creamy and smooth!

Lunch: Black beans soup with avocado and pumpkin seed garnish. Ugly but tasty.

Dinner: Indian feast. Red lentil dal, cabbage and carrot sambhara, courgette curry, besan cheela and coconut chutney. (I forgot to take a picture of the meal so I’ve included a picture of the leftovers instead!)

Related Links:

Clean Detox Day 18: Peach smoothie, curried courgette soup and baked falafel

Clean detox day 18

Breakfast: Peach and mango smoothie with avocado (fie for shame I cannot remember what else went into this, but probably some nuts and/or flax seeds).

Lunch: Courgette soup again, a redux of Simi’s Curried Courgette Soup, this time with loads of coriander and lemon juice.

Dinner: One of my favourite things, detox or otherwise: Baked Falafel with a fattoush salad (sans pita), tahini sauce and pickles.

Related Links:

Clean Detox Day 17: Indian spices everywhere

Clean detox day 17

Breakfast: ”Peachy green” smoothie. 200g fresh peaches, 50g avocado, 20g kale, 7g almond butter, 1 tsp flaxseed, 1 date, ~1 cup ice and enough water to blend. The peaches could have been riper/sweeter – hence the date. But pretty good nevertheless!

Lunch:  Besan cheela with sambhara (Gujerati-style cabbage and carrots) and green coconut chutney . A delicious mess on the plate. But note to self: leftover besan cheela have very little structural integrity.

Dinner: A soup good enough to be blog-worthy: Indian-style pumpkin soup adapted from the ever reliable How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. (A good use for a spare can or jar of pumpkin puree.)

Related Links:

Clean Detox Day 16: Green apple smoothie, roast salmon and broccoli soup

Clean detox day 16

Breakfast: Green apple smoothie made with 1.5 apples (~150g), 50g avocado, 1 date, 30g kale, 5g almonds, 100ml water, ~1 cup of ice, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Very autumnal and no doubt the destiny for many of those apples ripening up in the OC orchard! I think some fresh ginger needs to come into play next time.

Lunch: Roasted salmon with sautéed vegetables, dill and lemon. Until now I haven’t been thrilled with my fish creations, but this I really liked. The lesson: keep it simple, stupid! I followed this very basic technique for the oven-roasted salmon. Also, I’m really into dill at the moment.

Dinner: Broccoli soup with avocado, wild garlic pesto and lemon. Another simple soup but I liked it. Another bonus to these pureed soups is you can make them all about ONE vegetable, one flavour profile, rather than a hodgepodge of veggie mush. And here, the wild garlic pesto is perfect with the broccoli (it’d probably also go well with cauliflower soup, too).

Snacks: Fresh figs, nectarine

Figs.

 

Related Links:

 

Clean Detox Day 15: Cream of all the soups!

Clean detox day 15

Breakfast: A variation on the black and blue smoothie, made with blackberries, mango, avocado, kale, flax seeds plus a dash of cinnamon and a couple drops of orange flower water.

Lunch: Besan cheelas (Indian chickpea flour pancakes) with Indian cabbage salad and coconut coriander chutney. Not sure why I took so long to make these pancakes – they’re quick, easy and awesomely delicious, plus that have that eat-with-your hands delight that makes them all the more satisfying. You can also make them non-Indian style (the Italian version is called farinata). I love to wrap the cabbage salad inside the besan cheela and eat with chutney, so I made some coconut coriander chutney following this recipe but it was a little mealy (the recipe uses desiccated/dried coconut). Maybe I should have soaked the coconut first? Or maybe I need to face a real coconut and bust out the hammer.

Clean detox day 15

Dinner: If I’ve learned one thing on my detox, it’s that if you saute any kind of vegetable with onions and garlic, then puree it with cashews and veggie stock, you get the most amazing silky smooth soup that’s basically a vegan version of all those “Cream of” style soups that I have such fond memories of. Today’s was a “cream” of celery soup inspired by my friend Sharon, garnished with that crispy kale I’m so into at the moment.

Clean detox day 15

I’m now scheming all kinds of other creamy soups I can make… cream of cauliflower… cream of broccoli… cream of asparagus! And let’s just give a shout out to the whole vegan protein bonus that the cashews bring to the soup. I reckon other nuts will be worth trying… almonds, brazil nuts… pistachios!

When tomatoes and peppers are back in my life, I’m thinking an almond version of the classic African peanut soup will be worth a try. Next week!

Related Links:

 

Clean Detox Day 14: One week to go

Clean detox day 14

Breakfast: Another green smoothie with mango, flax seeds, avocado and kale. I autumnalized this one with a dash of cinnamon.

Lunch: Pureed courgette soup with cucumber and dill salsa. Leftovers from day 12. Loved this.

Dinner: Black beans, avocado and a mixed fruit & veg salsa made with finely diced carrots, courgettes, white onion, mango, pomegranate, radish, cilantro and lime (it sounds weird but it’s actually very good). Not shown: the pretend tacos I made with all of these fixins and little gem lettuce leaves. Sort of like this.

Snacks: I never mention snacks but I should. I usually have a piece of fruit in the afternoon (today an apple with some almond butter) and another piece of fruit (or two) in the evening (today a pear and a nectarine).

Clean detox day 14

Only one week to go of the detox and I’m already feeling a little reluctant to “let it go”. I’m really enjoying this and feel good. The phrase “permanent detox” keeps spinning in my head. If I kept this up for a few months, I think I would be a solidly changed person, both physically and mentally. This won’t happen, because there are things coming up for which a “retox” is desirable (equinox and Marrakech just to name two) but aside from these anomalies, I can totally see keeping up with many aspects of this “diet” in the future. For example, I’m surprised by how much I’ve come to love smoothies for breakfast. And I can really groove on soup, which doesn’t have to be boring, especially when pureed with cashews and adorned with adequate garnishes like tahini and crispy kale.

The bottom line is something I’ve always known: I feel a lot better when I’m not eating lots of bread or sugar, and when I’m not drinking alcohol on a regular basis. The structure of the detox has made it fairly easy to undo those habits, however, I wonder how easy it will be to continue those habits without the detox-imposed restrictions. I guess I’ll just have to learn self control, and to choose my pizza-and-beer nights with care!

It will be interesting to re-introduce other foods into my life that I always thought “healthy” – tomatoes, tofu, eggs – and see how they make me feel. I don’t think I have any sensitivities to such things but who knows?

It’s too soon to know whether this detox has affected my progress at the gym and pool. I think it would take a few months to really test this out and see if I’m getting weaker or stronger. On some days I feel exhausted and hungry. Others (today at the pool) I feel great. I do know that it seems to take me a while to recover from a heavy weights session (2-3 days) but this is nothing new and begs the eternal question for a mostly-vegan person: am I getting enough protein?

I have been saving grocery receipts and will report on the cost of this detox at the end of the week. I’ve been doing this frugally and as mentioned, mostly vegan, saving money by using dried beans which cost very little, and of course the courgette glut which seems endless (but girl cannot live on courgette soup alone). The smoothies are expensive – the orchard apples and pears are still a little early yet, but I have foraged lots of blackberries which come in handy. Writing all this I’m feeling very lucky for the abundance of free food around at the moment! This detox would definitely cost more in the winter. Now there’s an ebook: How to Detox by the Seasons!

Related Links