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feel good food that's good for you

Forget stirring and stirring to get your perfect risotto, try baking this barley version, studded with Tenderstem broccoli and topped with garlic-butter langoustines or prawns. An easy, midweek dinner.

This is a partnered post.

Forget stirring and stirring to get your perfect risotto, try baking this barley version, studded with Tenderstem broccoli and topped with garlic-butter langoustines or prawns. An easy, midweek dinner.If, like me, you are more likely to associate risotto with the typical cooler months than with July, then you may be surprised to see this recipe.

A proper risotto does after all involve standing over a hot stove, attending a gently bubbling pot until the requisite creaminess is attained – not something to be recommended when you are already a bit hot and bothered.

But many of us in the UK are right now dodging in and out of blustery, hair-mussing showers, shivering in our sandals and sleeveless tanks. Was it ever thus. Continue reading

Any easy way to get your five-a-day in one hearty bowl - a rainbow of colourful vegetables + healthy freekeh and delicious pan-fried chilli halloumi. Oh, and a knockout South American-inspired dressing. Makes great leftovers too. A proper meal salad for lunch or dinner.

Any easy way to get your five-a-day in one hearty bowl - a rainbow of colourful vegetables + healthy freekeh and delicious pan-fried chilli halloumi. Oh, and a knockout South American-inspired dressing. Makes great leftovers too. A proper meal salad for lunch or dinner.This is just the sort of bowl of food I crave after a period of indulgence or zig-zig travelling – textural, colourful, every mouthful a different flavour. The fact that it is highly nutritious and exactly what my body needs is almost incidental.

If I have time I love to go to a chi-chi, upscale food market and inhale with my eyes and nose all of the colourful produce that inevitably spills from rustic woven baskets and hand-hewn wooden crates. I will read the smudged chalkboard signs, pick up (and sniff, and squeeze – gently) new seasons’ specimens, and basically lose all sense of perspective and bank balance, cramming as much of the rainbow as I can into my own basket. That creamy, tight-curded cauliflower; those misshapen and slightly ogre-like striped tomatoes; and certainly a scoop of Italian Nocellara del Belice olives (current savoury food crush).

I get rather giddy at my momentary poshness, if I am honest. Until I look down at my scruffy, supermarket-bought trainers and my un-manicured hands. “Ach well”, as we say in Scotland. Continue reading

Pineapple (and melon) goes a bit savoury in this simple lime-scented salad. The key is to slice thinly, scatter with torn herbs and, just before serving, spritz over fresh lime juice and douse - and I mean douse - in best extra virgin olive oil. Salad as healthy dessert or classy starter. So easy and elegant, too.

Pineapple (and melon) goes a bit savoury in this simple lime-scented salad. The key is to slice thinly, scatter with torn herbs and, just before serving, spritz over fresh lime juice and douse – and I mean douse – in best extra virgin olive oil. Salad as healthy dessert or classy starter. So easy and elegant, too.

Pineapple (and melon) goes a bit savoury in this simple lime-scented salad. The key is to slice thinly, scatter with torn herbs and, just before serving, spritz over fresh lime juice and douse - and I mean douse - in best extra virgin olive oil. Salad as healthy dessert or classy starter. So easy and elegant, too.I don’t want to rub it in if you are having rubbish weather today (hello down south), but it’s pretty sunny up here in Edinburgh.  I know! Crazy, huh? It’s not always raining up here, you know.🙂

But, if the rain is pouring and the wind is lashing where you are, why not make your own sunshine? Just like it is hard to feel down while out walking in the hills, or even just somewhere interesting, it is hard not to smile when cutting up a pineapple or watermelon. These are just the cheeriest fruits I know. Continue reading

Chocolate and rosemary are really wonderful partners and very healthy too. Why not add them to your next banana bread making session. And pour it alli into a skillet while you are at it. A great breakfast or healthy snack for the whole family. Naturally gluten-free too.

Chocolate and rosemary are really wonderful partners, and very healthy too. Why not add them to your next banana bread making session? And pour it all into a skillet while you are at it. A great breakfast or healthy snack for the whole family. Naturally gluten-free too.

Chocolate and rosemary are really wonderful partners and very healthy too. Why not add them to your next banana bread making session. And pour it alli into a skillet while you are at it. A great breakfast or healthy snack for the whole family. Naturally gluten-free too.Do you – like me – often have a bowl of over-ripe speckled bananas hanging around, mocking your efforts to get your five-plus fruit and veg a day?

Nature’s second most perfectly-packaged food (after eggs, of course) is a must for any fruit bowl, helping to ripen other fruits and just generally being happy to play second fiddle to more seasonal fruits. But does it get the love it deserves, having come all the way from Honduras and very likely to be extinct in our lifetime? Certainly not in my house.

Yes, I buy them. I even eat them occasionally, especially before going to the gym. But I really don’t like them that much. I  don’t hate them, but there are fruits* I would much rather spend calories on. Cherries, peaches (only perfect ones), pineapple, to name a few.

But bananas have their uses other than just peeling and eating on the spot, or bunging in a gym bag. Deeply blackened bananas destined for the compost heap are, by the on-the-ball cook, re-purposed into a breakfast bread or healthy snack without much effort or skill (yay!). If they aren’t stashed in the freezer for adding to a smoothie that is. Continue reading

sweet-potato-falafels1

sweet-potato-falafels1aEnjoyed with salad and a drizzle of tahini dressing, or stuffed in a wrap with pickles, spicy sauce, pickled cabbage plus a side of hot chips, falafels are the world’s second favourite way to eat chickpeas – after hummus, of course.

Those of us who love falafels probably have a distinct memory of our most favourite one. Or maybe that is just me.

The best one I can remember was early last summer. Our niece Madison was over from Florida and, capitalising on some fair weather, we were doing a bit of sightseeing and errand running in the studenty Southside district of Edinburgh.

Anyone who knows Edinburgh will know that this university area is dotted with cheap and cheerful cafes, restaurants, bars, walk-up windows, and even the odd converted police boxes selling crepes and coffee. Suddenly, absolutely starving, we were fairly desperate to get some food – and fast.

It was a bit windy and cool so hot food, hot fast-ish food, was what we craved. We walked into the tiny takeaway space on the side of a quiet Lebanese restaurant and were immediately assailed by wonderful spicy aromas, the smell of frying oil and the sight of a young man tending a revolving spit of lamb. We definitely weren’t up for a kebab but we spotted a grandfatherly gentleman hunched on an old wooden stool, digging gloved hands into a big plastic bowl of what I can only describe as “stuff”. He rolled large pinches of it in his hands then dropped the cricket ball-sized hunks into a deep fat fryer, where the beige, nondescript balls spun in the heat, turning deep golden and delectably crunchy.  Continue reading

Earthy beets married with roasted, feta-stuffed Padron/shishito peppers make a delightful and simple starter anytime of the year, but especially when beets are in season where you are.

DSC_0462.jpgEarthy beets married with roasted, feta-stuffed Padron/shishito peppers make a delightful and simple starter anytime of the year, but especially when beets are in season where you are.

I am not a tidy gardener. By this I don’t mean that I have tools and plants scattered hither and thither, more I guess that I am a scatter-brained gardener. How else can I explain not realising I still had beetroot in the ground from last year?

Anyway, I was absolutely delighted to find whilst cutting some kale that hidden amongst its frothy leaves were the distinctive maroon-veined deep green leaves of my erstwhile beetroot crop. The ruby and yellow beets, ranging in size from golf ball to cricket ball, seemed not to have suffered for my poor stewardship. Continue reading

Creamy avocado, crunchy cashews, soft herbs and drinkable salty-sweet-sour Thai dressing for a light vegan supper. Plenty of protein and healthy fats. Loads of ideas to make it suitable for everyone in your family.

Creamy avocado, crunchy cashews, soft herbs and drinkable salty-sweet-sour Thai dressing for a light vegan supper. Plenty of protein and healthy fats. Loads of ideas to make it suitable for everyone in your family.I have mentioned the avocado and cashews, but didn’t want to scare you by mentioning one of the other key ingredients in this rather heavenly salad. It is an ingredient that I usually cannot abide with anything other than a bowl, and perhaps a squirt of lime.

Not to sound like Dr Suess, but I don’t want it upside down on a cake, embedded in a perfectly good pizza, or plonked into a Chinese meal. No, no, no. Can you guess what it is?

I am assuming that you are like me.😉 Continue reading

Brimming with fresh apples and with a hint of cinnamon, this easy cake makes a great pudding served warm with custard, or tucked into a lunchbox for a welcome treat.

A partnered post

Brimming with fresh apples and with a hint of cinnamon, this easy cake makes a great pudding served warm with custard, or tucked into a lunchbox for a welcome treat.Brimming with fresh apples and with a hint of cinnamon, this easy cake makes a great pudding served warm with custard, or tucked into a lunchbox for a welcome treat.

When I think of Dorset, the coastal county on the English Channel, I think of sweeping beaches, Jurassic fossils and cider. A bit of a generalisation perhaps, but as someone who has never been there – flown over it but not travelled in it – these sound pretty enticing to me.

This scenic county is also famous for its apple cake. Searching around there doesn’t seem to be a definitive recipe. However the hallmarks of a typical-ish cake appear to be loads of chunky apples (peeled), brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon. Continue reading

asparagus-tomatoes-preserved-lemon-ricotta-pasta1

asparagus-tomato-preserved-lemon-ricotta-pasta2I’ve pretty much just given the recipe away in the title – asparagus, tomatoes and cheese! This S/S recipe is really that simple: the tail end of spring married with the best of summer. And pasta!

Okay, it’s a bit more involved than that, but it still is a near-instant meal: perfect for a midweek supper.

Read on for the recipe, including the perky little herbaceous oil that is more than the sum of its parts. Continue reading

Have an aromatic (but not hot) and very easily put together Sri Lankan fish curry with green rice any day of the week with this recipe using quality frozen fish. Don't eat fish? This is also superb with tempeh.

A partnered post

Have an aromatic (but not hot) and very easily put together Sri Lankan fish curry with green rice any day of the week with this recipe using quality frozen fish. Don't eat fish? This is also superb with tempeh.Have an aromatic and very easily put together Sri Lankan fish curry with green rice any day of the week with this recipe using quality frozen fish. Don’t eat fish? This is also superb with tempeh.

Fish on a Monday? Really? Is this wise?

Like going out to eat on a Monday, eating fish on a Monday is one of those things that food-savvy folk don’t tend to do. Certainly in the UK. As the boats don’t go out on Sundays, proper fish shops are shut the following day. Of course supermarkets will sell you fish, especially in finger-slitting vacuum packs (do you struggle with these too?), but fresh fish with plump eyes and shiny scales will not be found unless you catch it yourself.

You can however have the next best thing (and sometimes it is the best thing) if you open your freezer.

Frozen fish can be a byword for mushy fish, but if treated right frozen is as good as what you can get fresh Tuesday through Saturday. Pinky promise.🙂 Continue reading

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