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Warm Chickpea Summer Salad

The trillions of microflora that can be found in the gut play an essential role in supporting strong immune and digestive systems. At any one time, your gut can contain 1.5kg of bacteria. Giving them some TLC is pretty darn important in my experience, especially if you’ve had a recent course of antibiotics. I’ve joined forces with Bio Kult, bringing you a fibre-rich recipe to pimp up your pipes (see cookery demo at the bottom of this post) .

Fibre is a good source of fuel to get the party started for your gut’s metropolis of microflora. That, and a good serving of natural yoghurt on top. If you’re interested in learning more about the brilliance of our very own internal ecosystem, then I highly recommend Gut by Giulia Enders from your local book store. It’s so incredibly witty, intelligent and informative. Plus, it might just change your life.

Serves 6-8 as mains or side dish

2 tablespoons butter, ghee or olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 large onions, diced
6 fat cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 fat thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground curry powder
2 tins chickpeas
500g rainbow chard, baby spinach or cavolo nero, sliced
Natural yoghurt, to serve

.

Heat the butter over a hot flame and tumble in your cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop (30 seconds), turn down the heat and add the onion. Sweat for 10 mins until softened before adding the garlic and ginger. Cook and stir for another 3-5 minutes until the onions have caramelised and before the garlic burns. Pour in the tin of tomatoes and cook down for 5 minutes until thick (see video above).

Parachute in the curry powder, sliced greens, and the drained chickpeas. You can loosen up the dish by adding a little chickpea juice from the tin. The greens need a few minutes to wilt down into the dish. Cook for a further 5 minutes before seasoning, plating up, and serving with poppadoms or rice and natural yoghurt.

Lunchbox, Sides

That Beetroot Salad

Beetroot has long filled the cells of mankind with mega antioxidants, and enough iron to make Popeye quake.

Beetroot puts the super into superfood (and sometimes the hell into healthy, if not cooked adequately). Sometimes I wish Vanilla Ice had included them in his big hit.

This earthy vegetable is a real friend to the kidneys, we’re told. So don’t freak out when your pee turns crimson. That red plant pigment holds a compound called betacyanin, commissioned to do all sorts of fancy ripostes in your bloodstream. The Russians have long known beet’s secret. This might help explain how the Russians can survive Siberia’s winter temperatures, and yet another term of Putin.

Freshly juiced, beets appear to enjoy great repute in cancer care clinics across the globe. I reckon it’s because they taste so sweet and gorgeous, rather than their nutritional currency. Nevertheless, beets are still ranked as one of the most underused and misunderstood veggies. Both cooked and raw beetroot are easy to find in supermarkets, yet doesn’t always mosey their way into our shopping trolleys. Shame that.

 

beet salad healthy 

 

A side of beet, yoghurt and almond

Beetroot ain’t that fussy, so long as it has a lick of olive oil and lemon. This purple veg has helped propel Avoca into celebrity status on the restaurant circuit (you know the dish? Thinly sliced beetroot, thick yoghurt and flaked almonds). My husband once sang the soundtrack to Frozen in Polish for an extra helping from the dinner lady.

It really isn’t necessary to put your husband through that, so here’s the recipe. From them to me, and from me to you. Go bonkers.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons flaked almonds
4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
Squeeze of lemon, plus a little zest
A few twists of the salt and pepper mill
1 small clove garlic, crushed
4 cooked beetroot (vacuum pack are handy)

 

Start by tanning your flaked almonds in a hot oven for 6 minutes until kissed by a golden zephyr. 200 Celsius will do the trick. If they turn a shade darker, your taste buds will be deeply disappointed.

While the flaked almonds are on the clock, whip your yoghurt with a little lemon and zest to taste, salt and pepper as you like it, and the crushed garlic.

Take the almonds out to cool.

Thinly slice the beetroot and let the yoghurt join the party. Finish with a flurry of tanned almonds on top. That’s all there is to it.

Change it up from time to time with capers, segments of orange, diced red onion or grated boiled egg. It’s a fabulously handy recipe.

 

Salads & Suppers, Sides

Soft Goat’s Cheese Salad with Cherries & Toasted Tamari Seeds

Have you a low tolerance to dairy?

You needn’t quarantine it from your diet entirely, or tell every waiter in Ireland about it. Give goat’s cheese a go.

The fat globules in goat’s milk appear to be smaller than cow’s milk, making it easier to digest. There’s also less lactose in goat’s milk – not that lactose is evil or problematic. Some of us simply don’t manufacture lactase, the digestive enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose in our system. This tends to be genetically determined.

 

goats cheese bee pollen 

 

Whether you suffer from dodgy digestion or not, Irish goat’s cheese is unreasonably delicious. Lidl do a good one, but we have a special squeal reserved for Bluebell Falls and Ardsallagh. It’s a stealthy vehicle for Green Leafy Veg, especially with toddlers, husbands and other contrarians.

Or sprinkle with bee pollen, to confuse them. Looks so pretty (see above).

Interestingly, goat’s milk contains more calcium than cow’s milk. Its pH level is more favourable than regular dairy too, which seems to excite ‘alkaline’ eaters such as Sienna Miller, Calgary Avensino and Robbie Williams. The Alkaline Diet is a scorching-hot trend among the gorgeous brigade in London and New York.

Interested? Check out The Honestly Healthy Cookbook penned by two savvy ladies, Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson. You’ll need to resuscitate that roll of litmus paper from biology class, a sense of adventure, and that day-glow exercise leotard!

 

 cherries

 

 

 

Soft Goat’s Cheese Salad with Cherries & Toasted Tamari Seeds

It will probably take more time to read this recipe, than to make it.

No need to toast the seeds in soya sauce unless you are a bona fide umami tart like me. Umami is that lip-smacking mushroomy hit that obsessionistas crave (you know who you are). Soya sauce has loads of it. As does coconut aminos.

Umami is often referred to as our fifth taste sense, alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter. I’d argue we have a lot more than five taste senses – fear, pheromones, visa bills, CK One, and stink bombs. I can taste them all.

 

pumpkin seeds tamari roasted 

 

For the salad:

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Good splash of tamari soya sauce or coconut aminos

Handful of greens like watercress, sunflower sprouts or Russian kale

1 cup cherries

Soft goat’s cheese for 2

 

For the maple dressing:

1 teaspoon of maple syrup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Good squeeze of lime or lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns, crushed and pummeled

 

There’s enough here for two. Start by pre-heating your oven to 180 C / 350 F. Spread the pumpkin seeds across a baking tray and roast in the oven for 6 minutes. You’ll hear them popping. Toss the seeds with tamari or coconut aminos, and return the tray to the oven for another minute. Remove from the oven and allow the seeds to cool. This can be difficult.

I find leaving the kitchen helpful, to avoid repeatedly scalding my tonsils.

To assemble the salad, carefully peel the Russian kale leaves from its tough stalk and tear into rough pieces. You could use any leaves you fancy, but red Russian kale are strong, barrel-chested chaps. Spicy too. I used sunflower sprouts and cress in the photo, because I scoffed the kale before remembering to photograph it.

Tumble the halved cherries onto the salad leaves.

To make the dressing, whisk the elements together with a fork and drizzle over the cherry leaves. Gently turn the leaves to coat everything.

Crown with a generous dollop of goat’s cheese and bless with loads of roasted seeds.

 

 

 

 

A special announcement

Join me on Substack

Howdy! I’ll be deleting this website shortly. Gah! But please stay in touch – I so appreciate your loyalty and lovebombs.

You can continue to access my recipe drops over on Substack.  Hope to see you there, and to continue frolicking on this veggie-fueled dance floor.