My First FlavourFirst veg box

I’m trying to eat more veggies, and I like the idea of buying vegetables that have been grown locally, rather than those that have been forced to meet certain requirements and be flown here for supermarket sales.  So I was delighted to find that there’s a local veg box delivery srvcie, FlavourFirst.com.  Based in Donaghadee, their social media content was warm and welcoming and engaging, and I had no hesitation in signing up for a delivery box.

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My husband is away this week, so it’s just me, and I don’t eat a lot of fruit due to the high sugar content, so I went for the entry level veg box at £9.75

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Delivery was scheduled for Thursday, and as my house is hard to find, I was anticipating the phone call I got from the delivery driver making sure he was at the right place.  The food was all packed inot a wooden crate with minimal packaging, and a request to reutn any packaging there was  at the next delivery.

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I was really excited at the variety and freshness of the ingredients, and immediately started thinking about how I would use them all.

Thursday Supper – I already had a courgette that needed using, so I sliced it into rounds and fried them to colour.  I sliced 2 of the tomatoes from the box, and arranged them into a baking pot,  interleaved with some goats cheese.  Topped the lot with a mix of breadcrumbs, cheddar and parmesan, and baked until golden.  Twas delish (and leftovers for lunch the next day)

The veg box comes with some cooking suggestions, and on Friday I decide to do the roast cauliflower, humous, crispy onions and lemon oil recipe included.

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I steamed some cauli florets.

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I coated them in curry oil (rapeseed oil with some curry powder stirred in), and  roasted them in the oven for 15 mins.

The onions – I’m not a big onion fan, but wanted to stay true to the recipe for research purposes.  I thinly sliced half an onion, coated in oil, spread on a baking tray and put in the oven, turning frequently.

These were the most difficult part of the dish – the thin bits burned while the thicker bits were still raw.  If I were doing this again I’d use a mandolin or something to ensure the uniformity of the slices.

I’d bought some good humous and sourdough bread, and the end dish combining all the ingredients, with a lemon oil dressing using up the remnants of the curry oil, was a real triumph.

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For breakfast, I used some of the chard as a spinach substitute, and microwaved it with some of the mushrooms, and an egg for a tasty omelette.

On Saturday, I tried out a Jamie Oliver recipe I’ve wanted to do for a while.  The broad beans are very therapeutic to shell, even though the volume really diminshes.  And even more after they’ve been boiled and removed from their hard skin.

But served with some creme fraiche and a crispy onion/ breadcrumb toping, they were gorgeous!  I sauteed some of the rainbow chard in garlic oil to accompany it.

 

The final dish looked really good with its vibrant colours, and tasted fanastic, fresh and delicious.

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On Sundays, I go for a long run, and am always ready for a healthy brunch afterwards.  I sauteed a couple of mushrooms and the remaining tomato, and fried a free range egg, toasted some sourdough topped with avocado, and added a glass of V8 for another of my 5 a day.

I’d been insired by the Saturday Kitchen recipe of barbecued trout with samphire in a miso butter.  Google revealed a plethora of miso butter recipes, but it’s basically 2 parts butter to 1 miso, adjust to taste.  Helps if the butter is at room temperature.

I quartered some new potaotes, and steamed the brocoli florets above them, cooking a frozen salmon fillet in the microwave.

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The miso butter really brought everything together here, and I think it’ll be great on a baked potato, or on soldiers for a boiled egg.

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Overall verdict – I’ve had so much fun thinking up ways to use my delicious fresh vegetables, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home alone cooking: aubergine mushroom stirfry

This is a recipe from Gok’s Wok, a mix of Asian and fusion sorta healthy dishes.  The recipe calls for shitake mushrooms (I had a handful of chestnut ones needing used up) and also said it served 4. (ahahahahahha!)

I do love aubergines. They have such beautiful laquer black skins, and cook to such silky unctiousness (sorry, I appear to have turned into Nigella….)

Anyhoo.  I had most of the ingredients for this in my store cupboard, with a few substitutions, so off I went!

Chop the aubergine into cubes.  Cook in a wok with a splash of oil.  I like to add a lid so that it steams a bit, and reduces the acrid smell and smoke-alarm-setting-off factor.

I added a swish of sesame oil as they were almost done for added flavour.

Remove the aubergines, and add a chopped onion to the wok (half an onion for me).  Add some chopped mushrooms.  And 4 chopped anchovies.  For vegetarians, you could leave these out.  For veganishes who eat a bit of fish for environmental and health reasons, woohoo! And a chopped chilli (I used a spoonful from my jar of chopped chillies – it’s easier to control the heat with this method).

At this stage, the recipe wanted me to add a ton of straight to wok noodles.  I like the rice vermicelli ones, so I’d softened one nest of those, and added it.

The resulting panful was a substantial dinner, with leftovers for lunch.  I’m not convinced this would feed 4, as suggested in the recipe book (and who doesn’t have pictures of their dishes anyway…..)

 

Visually, it’s a bit brown, but it was darn tasty and I’ll be doing variations of this again.

Home Alone Cooking: Gok’s Broccoli Sesame Soup

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I was poaching an egg for my breakfast – it sat atop a bundle of asparagus, steamed in the microwave, wrapped in a slice of smoked salmon.  You don’t need a recipe for something so quick and simple, but it was very very good, and would work on a low cal day too.

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Anyhoo, I decided to poach an additional egg for use later.

Gok’s soup had as its main ingredients broccoli, split into stalks and tops,  and spring onions.  The stalks and spronions were sauteed in a little coconut oil, and then the tops were added, along with a cup of chicken stock, and a half cup of cooked rice (I use some from a pack of microwave rice, lime and coriander flavour). The recipe called for fresh ginger, but I didn’t have any so I added a few slivers from my sushi ginger jar.

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Simmer everything together for about 15 minutes, until soft.  Blend with a dash of sesame oil and soy sauce in my trusty stick blender. (I’ve been using this every day for the past while – I don’t even put it away any more!)

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Presentation is important for this one – put the egg in a bowl, and carefully pour the soup around it.  Drizzle with some sesame oil, sprinkle some sesame seeds, and a few dots of chopped chilli (I get mine from a jar).

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It looked really pretty!

If I was doing it again, I would do the egg fresh, so that it was warmer, and runny.  But the combination of smooth green soup, the soft egg, the crunch of seeds and a kiss of chilli was a winner.

 

 

Home Alone Cooking: Best Sweet Potato

After an all day dance course, I was pretty hungry this evening, and ready for a satisfying dinner.  So I decide to try what Ella called her “best baked sweet potato recipe”.

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The baked sweet potato bit was easy – the recipe suggested baking in the oven for an hour, I used the microwave option in 10 minutes.

The main filling was half a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, with some sliced mushrooms, and a whole 3 cloves of garlic! Other seasonings were a teaspoon each of chilli flakes and ground coriander.

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The dressing was made from tahini, honey, olive oil, and the juice of one lime.

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And I got to use my lickle whisk!

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The potato was split open, and half an avocado spooned into it.

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Topped with the bean and mushroom, and then drizzled with the dressing. Colour wise it was a bit brown.

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Was it the best baked sweet potato ever?  Well, I licked the plate clean….

Home Alone Cooking: Pad Thai

img_0544Ella’s recipes are pretty versatile, and it’s easy to swap in ingredients that you have to hand.  In my case, a leek, some button mushrooms, and a few radishes.img_0545

I sliced these finely, and sauteed them with some bell pepper in a little coconut oil.  Look at those vivid colours!

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I soaked some fine rice noodles in boiling water, and then stirred them into the veg.

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The sauce was delicious, and I’ll be making it again:

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For 2 portions

  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 15g fresh coriander
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Blend everything together in a food processor.

Stir the sauce through the noodles and veg.

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Not for a low-calorie day, but a very quick and easy satisfying dinner.

Home Alone Cooking: The Shappin!

Well, I have another week ahead of me catering for myself, so as usual I will be experimenting with some veggie/ vegan/ healthy/ low cal recipes.

To clarify, I’m not exclusively veggie or vegan, but I do like to experiment with dishes that are.  Lots of my friends and relatives follow this way of eating, and I like to have a range of dishes in my repertoire.

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Low cal wise, I  try to follow a 5:2 approach, though admittedly I’m not the best adherent.  But a tasty low-cal recipe is another handy addition to the recipe bank.

I’ve found that wheat and/or gluten does mess a bit with my digestion.  I’m not celiac, but I find my body does better when I limit wheat and carbohydrates.  As a runner and dancer, that’s quite important, as fuelling for intensive exercise sessions is crucial!

So my first step was to stock up with suitable ingredients.  Working full-time, I find that the click-and-collect option provided by supermarkets is a godsend, and Tesco do a collection spot right across the road from my house.  I was able to place my order while having my morning cuppa on Wednesday, and pick it up on the way home form work on Thursday.  No waiting, no hours and petrol spent going to the supermarket, and a very friendly bit of chit-chat with the delivery guy. Marvellous!

Now, Tesco didn’t have all the fancy ingredients I wanted, so I supplemented that with a call into Holland and Barratt, and the Aladdin’s cave that is Sawyers, Belfast, about 50m from my office.

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So here’s the whole haul of ingredients.

Leafy green veg – kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus.

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Other veg – squash, peppers, mushrooms, avocado, sweet potato

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Fruit – pink grapefruit, figs, pomegranate, lemons and limes

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Store cupboard – lentils, cacao nibs, cacao powder, and baobab powder

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Tins – black beans, coconut oil, coconut milk, ginger curd, almond butter

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Dairy and dairy-like – almond milk, oat cream, cottage cheese

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So, with all these jewels, plus a few things I already have….what shall I make first?

 

5:2 recipes: Cactus Salad

I’ve a terrible habit of picking up bargains when I see them, especially more unusual items.  I came across this jar of cactus tips in Dobbies sale, and couldn’t resist.

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It had a salad recipe on the side, which I decided to try out.

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The other ingredients were a spoonful of salsa, and a chopped tomato and onion.

I’m not a big onion fan, but as long as it’s finely chopped and has had time to marinate a bit, it’s OK.

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I nearly came unstuck (if you see what I mean….) by my failure to be able to twist off the lid.  But I discovered that this pokey device at the end of a tin opener

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is not just for taking stones out of horses hooves, it can be used to prise under a lid and break the seal.  Voila!

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The cactus tips were rather good, a nice crunch, not an overpowering flavour.

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Calorie wise this was a total winner.  I omitted the oil from the recipe, and honestly it didn’t need it. The whole jar of drained cactus was about 10 calories. The tomato and onion added 30, and the most calorific element was the spoonful of salsa, at 40.  But the whole big satisfying bowlful was under 100.  It would make a great accompaniment for a slice of ham or chicken, for non-vegetarians.

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I’ll definitely be looking out for bargain cactus in the future!