Low Carb, Wheat Free Spaghetti Squash Turkey Bolognese……

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This picture is a disaster, but I assure you the recipe is not. This is a clean eating gem: low carb, gluten-free, dairy free, temple food of a comforting type at a time of year when temperatures are plummeting and feasting is just around the corner…..

We have recently changed our veg box supplier and to my delight the range of veggies has been welcome change, spaghetti squash wasn’t something I had had much experience with but the prospect of using it like actual spaghetti really wet my appetite. I was serving this up to sceptical kids so decided not to make a regular bolognese, so that comparisons were less likely to be drawn. Child one found it hard to get past the fact he wasn’t eating actual spaghetti, (why bother) but they all admitted it tasted good in its own right. My better half and I REALLY enjoyed it and in fact I would suggest it is as least as tasty……..

You will need (serves 4)

For the Spaghetti:

1 Spaghetti Squash, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of Olive Oil – pre-heat the oven to 180°C, half the squash having given it a quick wash and scoop out the seeds, sprinkle with the salt and oil, cover in foil and bake both halves in the oven for about an hour, remove the foil after about 30 minutes. It’s cooked when a knife inserted into the flesh meets little resistance.

For the Turkey Bolognese sauce: 400g Turkey thigh mince, 1 medium Onion, chopped, 1 clove of Garlic, crushed, Oil, pinch of dried Chilli Flakes, 1 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tin chopped Tomatoes, 1/2 tomato tin of Water, any amount (within reason) of chopped veg such as Pepper, Peas, Courgettes and a handful of baby Spinach Leaves, Salt and Pepper.

So fry off the onion in the oil and once transparent add the garlic, chilli flakes and turkey mince. Stir around until the mince has browned and then add the Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, water, and all the veg you are planning to use apart from the Spinach, stir around and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The sauce will keep of course until the squash is cooked. Once you are sure the squash is tender, remove from the oven, add the spinach to the sauce, season and stir around until the spinach wilts. (Add a splash of water if the sauce becomes too dry).

To serve, loosen the squash from the skin with a spoon/fork combo and fluff the squash up to shake out the individual strands. Divide between the pasta bowls and ladle sauce to over to taste. Serve with or without Parmesan.

I won’t leave it so long to post next time……..

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Romanesco Cauliflower: The most loved veggie of all

Look what turned up in the veg box this week!! My better half and I adore these for some reason, which is curious as it’s more prevalent cousin, the bog standard cauliflower, usually gets whizzed up as soup round here.

The whorliness must make a difference.

So in order to extract maximum enjoyment from this patterned perfection we have it with pasta, and I can’t stress enough how delicious a dish this is; you will need (for 4): 1 Romanesco Cauliflower, cut into bite size florets, Olive Oil, 1 tin of Anchovy Fillets in Olive Oil, drained, 3 cloves of Garlic, crushed, 10 finely sliced Button Mushrooms, ½ Red Pepper, sliced, 2 tbsp of chopped Flat Leaf Parsley, Black Pepper, Parmesan, a few Green Olives (optional).

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil for the pasta (Penne or Rigatoni work best) and once you have a boil, add the florets of Romanesco instead and return to the boil. Meanwhile into a large frying pan, over a moderate heat, warm some oil and add the anchovy fillets (minus their own oil) and the crushed garlic and stir round until the anchovies are mush. Transfer the florets from the pasta saucepan with a draining spoon to the frying pan.

Weigh out however much pasta you need and add that to the boiling water left behind by the florets and cook in the usual way.

Back with the frying pan, add the mushrooms and red pepper, sprinkle in the parsley and a grinding of black pepper, stir round, add a splosh of water and either cover with a lid or large plate. Turn the heat down a little. Allow the ‘sauce’ to steam/fry until the pasta is cooked, the florets should still have some bite and there should be the merest hint of liquid in the bottom of the pan. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce and olives if using. Serve with Parmesan.

Buon Appetito.

Tempted by a Tomatillo? Only if they are Curried.

Tomatillo? What’s that I here you cry… Well the official answer is the Mexican relative of a cape gooseberry and here are some examples:

Now I know they look under ripe and not very tempting, but after a couple of weeks of experimenting due to their arrival in our veg box, I think I might have the measure of them.

We started off trying them raw in a salad, always a good place to start I think. They are fairly hard and quite sour so whilst that was fine, we moved on to incorporating them in a guacamole style salsa to go with a chilli.

Now that worked really well: into a bowl combine some chopped avocado and equal quantities of chopped tomato and tomatillo. Mash together a little and add some chopped coriander and a little salt and pepper. The sourness of the tomatillos removes the need for lime juice.

Then last night I thought they might work well in a curry and so made my version of Cornish Chicken Curry. Cornish Chicken Curry!! What can be Cornish about Mexican fruits or Indian Curry. Ah well, Cornish Chicken Curry is by definition a dish of ‘using up stuff’ and what do we all have half a jar of in the fridge? A jar of curry paste, along with a few bits and pieces of veg which are looking long past their sell by date and the omnipresent store cupboard staple, a tin of tomatoes.

So this version of the curry went something like this (for 4): fry off a couple of smallish thinly sliced onions in a slug of oil for 5 minutes or so until soft and then add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a sliced green chilli and 1 cm or 2 of grated fresh ginger. Stir all that around for 2 or 3 minutes, add some diced chicken (around 400-500g) and stir frequently until the chicken has coloured on all sides and then add a couple of tablespoons of curry paste, the tomato based ones work best like Balti or Rogan Josh. Add a diced pepper, 5 or 6 chopped tomatillos and any other veg you fancy, a tin of tomatoes and a cup of water, allow to come to the boil and simmer until the chicken and veg are cooked through. Season if required and serve with rice. The tomatillos again give a lovely sharp tang to the dish and do retain their form like peppers, a real winner.

Chicken curry essentially all looks the same so I haven’t taken a picture of that, but here’s the salad we tried: baby beetroot, potato, smoked salmon, samphire, dill and goat’s cheese. The tomatillos were superfluous frankly but the rest was nice enough. Top with a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds.

More from the Unloved Vegetables: Stir Fried Kale with Leeks and Garlic

I feel I should start with an apology; I promised pumpkin cupcakes last week for this weeks blog post, however we are moving into fruit cake baking season and my oven could do with deep clean. I have decided to try the bicarbonate of soda route which is in fact a longish process taking a few days. I am uncertain as yet whether it will truly work but am hopeful as ‘Mr Muscle’ seems to be loosing his mojo and you have to put up with that dreadful smell. So baking is currently on hold which is fine but this process has pushed any cupcakes off the agenda for now.

So I am returning to a favourite topic, the unloved vegetables.

Kale really is a bit of a nightmare: bitter, tough, always seems to come in large quantities, the cooking possibilities seem few and far between. I don’t believe there is much point in pretending is possible to convert it into a undiscovered gem of a vegetable, but in terms of bulking dishes out and using it up over throwing it out I do have a few ideas up my sleeves.

Stir Fry Kale with Leeks and Garlic

This is an accompaniment type dish, good with things like pies or roasts. Take a washed trimmed leek and slice quite thinly, heat a slug of olive oil and a similar slug of garlic oil in a medium-sized frying pan and add the leek, stir around for 5 minutes or so, until soft and then add the washed and chopped kale having removed the thick central stems. Stir around for 5 to 10 minutes until the kale has wilted and softened. It takes on a ‘wet’ appearance. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and season with a little salt. The leek adds a sweetness to the proceedings which frankly is much needed.

Kale New Potato and Blue Cheese Pizza topping

I am assuming that you are making pizza here  so rustle up a Margherita and then add sliced, cooked new potatoes, chopped, wilted, drained and dried kale and diced blue cheese (Dolcelatte, Stilton, Danish Blue whatever you like) and bake for 10 minutes or so. Now this really is delicious.

I will come back to making pizza a some other point.

Sweetcorn and Chilli Oil

Finally, a cute little food marriage with the corn on the cob season upon us, boil or BBQ your corn on the cob and then instead of adding butter, drizzle chilli oil instead. It’s fantastic!

What to do with a Pumpkin

Two for the price of one this week. Pumpkin season is upon us and apart from making lanterns, or perhaps as well as, a few recipes using up the flesh appear to be in order.

Pumpkins themselves do have a fairly bland flavour so the best tactic is to spice it up. Here are a couple of recipes to such an end.

Thai Red Vegetable Curry

This is heavily based on a Nigella recipe: Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry in her book Nigella Bites.

You will need (serves 4): 400ml tin Coconut Milk (full or half fat), 1 heaped tbsp Red Curry paste, 300ml Vegetable Stock, 2 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Sugar, 1 heaped tsp Lemongrass paste, 2 Lime Leaves (if you can get them, dried will do), ½ tsp Turmeric, 350-400g Pumpkin, chunked, 300g waxy Potatoes, chunked a little smaller than the pumpkin, 1 Red Pepper, thickly sliced, a couple of handfuls of Spinach, shredded Swiss Chard or trimmed Green Beans, juice of ½ Lime, Coriander leaves to serve.

You should be able to buy the Thai ingredients in Tesco or Sainsburys; Barts make the lemongrass paste and Blue Dragon the fish sauce. Lime leaves will be with the spices or specialist ingredients of larger supermarkets.

So, open the tin of coconut milk, don’t shake the tin before opening, and scope out the coconut cream which collects at the top reserving the coconut water. Plop this in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over a moderate heat and add the curry paste, stir that around for a minute or two and then add most of the coconut water, the stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass paste, lime leaves, turmeric, pumpkin, potatoes and peppers and simmer until the pumpkin and potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Then add the greens and cook for another 5 minutes or so and finally add the lime juice. Serve on rice or with naan bread and sprinkle with the coriander.

You can add prawns with the greens if you want and cook until piping hot. This has that lovely sweet, hot tang to it. Yummy.

Easy Peasy Carrot and Pumpkin Curried Soup

This is quicker to make than say the title.

You will need: a small Leek, finely sliced, a splash of Sunflower Oil and an even smaller splash of Garlic Oil, 2 tsp Ginger, grated, 300g sliced Carrots, 300g Pumpkin,chunked, 1 litre Vegetable Stock, 1 tbsp medium Curry Powder, ½ lemon, juiced, Coriander leaves (optional)

In a large saucepan, gently fry the leek in the oils and after a minute or two add the ginger, stir that around and then add the pumpkin and carrot and sweat over a low heat with the lid on for 10 minutes or so. Stir in the curry powder and then add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or so until the veggies are tender. Blend. Season if required (but I doubt it) and add the lemon juice. Delish.

Now, I will tell you how to make the little pumpkin cakes above next time, I am still trying to refine a pumpkin cupcake as the Hummingbird one is frankly a disaster. Those above are plain cake with orange flavour butter icing, but more of that next week…….

Peto Garden Risotto

The Gardens at Iford Manor were designed by Harold Peto. Harold Peto was strongly influenced by Italian gardens he had visited. I adore anything Italian. Therefore, I love the gardens at Iford Manor. Luckily for me Iford Manor is literally down the road.

I took some pictures on Easter Sunday, so around a month ago. Here are some of the best, it’s the easiest place to photograph, picturesque barely covers it but the light was as flat as a mill-pond so I’ve done what I can in Photoshop.

First off the architectural ones:

I like the strange leaded lights and the shadow the branch produces

Gorgeous embellishments

Loving the Loggia

The overriding smell was that of wild garlic that grew in such abundance that it flowed like a river in places and so that got me thinking about risotto as a perfect use for it.

Both wild garlic leaves or wet garlic which is like a giant spring onion can be used in following recipe and the flavour is subtle here not punchy, sharp and leaving you reaching for the mints.

Butternut Squash and Garlic Risotto (serves 2)

As is usual with these things begin by bringing 600ml of vegetable stock (use a stock cube) to simmering point in a saucepan on the back of the hob and then fry off a small to medium finely chopped onion in a large heavy bottomed saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Once transparent, add a sliced wet garlic bulb (prepare as you would a spring onion) if using and a finely chopped stick of celery. Stir that around for a minute or two and then add 200g of Arborio or Carnaroli risotto rice and stir again to coat the rice with the oil. Add a slug of white wine if you wish and then begin adding a ladle full or two of stock and stir regularly as the liquid is absorbed. Add half a chopped medium-sized butternut squash and some more stock and keep stirring regularly again until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock and stir repeatedly for 10 – 15 minutes until the rice is almost tender. If using wild garlic leaves, you will need a good handful, washed and roughly chopped, add these now and allow to wilt. Grate in a little parmesan cheese and a knob of unsalted butter and continue to stir until everything is combined and melted. Check the seasoning and serve in bowls with additional parmesan grated over and a little black pepper.

If you feel you need to make this a little more substantial: chopped bacon can be added with the celery, shredded, cooked chicken towards the end of the stock absorption process (check it is piping hot before serving) or steamed purple sprouting broccoli can be laid on the rice once cooked. A multitude of options to suit.

Back to a few more pictures:

They hold Opera and Jazz concerts here on barmy summer evenings. Idyllic… Check Iford Arts link for details.

More from the Unloved Vegetables – No.4: Carrot and Ginger Soup?

Now with this series of posts about unloved vegetables I do fully appreciate that what is unloved for some is probably much beloved for others. Timing is probably also a factor in this regard too. I can well imagine carrots receiving a warm welcome alongside kohlrabi, turnips and swede, but just at the moment when the other inhabitants of the veg box are purple sprouting broccoli, mushrooms, aubergines and if you are really lucky asparagus, carrots will induce and sigh and droop of the shoulders. It has been a long winter with the root vegetables and still having to deal with carrots is starting to feel a bit much. Suddenly they are a little more difficult to use up as the hearty winter meals which lend themselves to featuring carrots as an accompaniment are now fewer and further between.

A seasonal dish using carrots such as coleslaw only needs one!

Soup is the answer. It is often the answer as you can make it and freeze it if you don’t really fancy it or the weather is too warm. Not something we are likely to be struggling with this Bank Holiday. Soup really will be the answer as temperatures are due to plummet. But something zesty and bright might help.

Carrot Soup I think might also assist if you are on a hidden vegetables campaign. A blended orange coloured, velvet-y smooth soup is really not going to seem unappetizing surely and if you can coax the target consumers into having a little taste that may well lead to the drinking of an entire bowlful.

You will need: 1 medium Onion, chopped, 2cm length of fresh Ginger or more if you like the flavour and zesty heat, grated or finely chopped, 1 medium Potato, roughly chopped, 6 or 7 medium Carrots, roughly chopped, 600-800 ml  Vegetable Stock, juice of ½ Lemon, 1 tbsp of Oil, Salt and Pepper.

It’s dead easy: Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, cook over a moderate heat until transparent, add the ginger and stir round for a minute or two. Add the potato and carrots and sweat gently with the lid on the saucepan for 5- 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Once the vegetables are tender, blend the soup with a hand held blender for preference, check the seasoning, add the lemon juice and a little more stock or warm water to achieve a preferred consistency. Done.

Sorry for the lack of photos today, I can’t seem to get the iPad to let me load anything else up from the media library – best laid pans plans, blah, blah, – and I am not at home. But I’m sure everyone can guess what carrot soup will look like.

Photofest coming very soon …..

Enough Flavour to Keep it Simple

A good friend of mine has just returned from her first trip to Italy. First trip to Italy. It’s like some adolescent awakening a first trip to Italy. You will never be the same again.

My Mother will probably disagree here but I regard my time spend working as an au pair in Milan, at the age of 19, as my culinary awakening and the way I think about food now is defined by lingering memories and habits formed at that time. I saw a great quote on another blog site where the author remarked ‘well I’m off to make more food from food’. I think the author is American, but that sentiment would apply to the British too. Sufficient flavour in some foods can be an issue and the contrast if you are lucky enough to be eating in Italy is marked.

Now I know that the situation here has improved a lot over the last 10-15 years say but the Italian fruit, vegetables, cheese, cured meats and wine, all those deli items which can make a delicious lunch, have a depth of flavour which is hard to match except possibly by the French. One of the reasons for this is I suspect is the ambient temperature. Fruit and vegetables ripening on the plants, the intensity of the sun, storage methods, coupled with better collective culinary know-how, it all makes a difference. Before the restrictions on transporting liquids a few bottles of red wine would be heaved onto the plane as carry-on, you remember? In our case it was cases of the red in the car as we drove the 1,500 miles back up through France to the ferry at breakneck speed. Once home the wine would be presented as a rarefied object at some special event and it was supposed to transport us all back to our holiday. It didn’t really work though, England is too cold. It’s even worse with Languedoc Rosé, what was fruity and thirst quenching down in the South-West of France, seemed more like paint stripper in Blighty. It was always very disappointing.

Cheeses, salad ingredients and cured meats also travel about as well as the French Rugby Team. We in the UK tend to keep everything in the fridge and don’t let the food even warm up to our ambient temperatures before we consume it. Tomatoes are a case in point. Virtually tasteless straight from the fridge, yet given a couple of hours at room temperature, sliced and drizzled with Olive Oil and the merest pinch of salt they are transformed.

So when you catch those moments when you achieve a flash of those heady delicious Mediterranean lunches it’s always a surprise as much as a treat. Believe it or not a trip to Tesco recently produced such a lunch. Bread, cheese and tomato was about the size of it. However due to the fact that I had been shopping, the deliciously ripe looking beef tomatoes weren’t fridged anyway, the Spanish Manchego cheese out of the chiller for long enough and my new basil plant emitting the most pungent aroma, I felt compelled to assemble the following:

The tomatoes were sliced and oil, from a long since eaten jar of artichokes, drizzled over them (I do store such remnants in the fridge for such moments). A few torn basil leaves topped the dish off. The Manchego (ewe’s milk cheese, nutty and delicious) was in slices too and the Panini, Tesco own brand which I toasted, released a faint smell of Olive Oil. Pear, from the veg box and just ripe, has an affinity with sheep’s milk cheese, something understood by the Italians of Pienza, the home of Pecorino and some pear based jelly like condiment I can’t remember the name of……

Child 2 was with me and chose a grilled ham and cheese Panini. It is mildly irritating to me that he hates tomatoes.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Stirfry and the curious case of the ‘Blue’ Noodles

I have actually just finished eating this and it was so delish I cannot wait to share.

Something I learned very early on in the food business is that generally blue food is regarded as unappetizing and consequently is usually avoided. The theory goes that as there is no blue food in nature it is perceived as unnatural. Even with cakes, which can easily look unnatural indeed are often supposed to, blue coloured ones are the last to go and Thomas the Tank Engine cakes are rarely finished. However, those foods naturally with a blue/purple hue such as blueberries or purple sprouting broccoli are actually some of the most nutritionally beneficial.

Purple Sprouting broccoli is very much in season at the moment and my better half and I are so in love with it we are happy to munch it as the feature of a main course. Due to the ongoing attempts to declutter the house in spare moments I was in need of a quick meal in time for the start of The Apprentice and so a stir fry seemed the best option. I would say this took no more than 20 minutes from start to finish.

I shall start off by listing the ingredients today, serves 2:

2 layers of medium Egg Noodles, a handful of Purple Sprouting Broccoli spears, ends of the stalks removed, 3 Spring onions, chopped, 2 cm piece of Ginger, finely chopped, 2 cloves of Garlic, crushed, a few dried Chilli Flakes, 1 Carrot, finely sliced, ½ Red Pepper, sliced, 4/5 Mushrooms, sliced, 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil, ½ tbsp Sesame Oil, 25g Peanuts and/or Cashews, roughly chopped, salt and pepper, juice of ½ Lemon, 4 tbsp fresh Coriander, chopped.

Start off by boiling the kettle and pouring about a pint of boiled water over the prepared broccoli spears in a saucepan. Place saucepan on the heat, return to the boil and then simmer for 2/3 minutes. Fish the spears out after this time and remove to a plate. The water will be purple-y blue in colour, try not to be put off by this and add the layers of noodles. return to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile in a wok, dry fry the nuts over a moderate heat until lightly toasted and remove to a plate.  Measure the oils into the wok and over a moderate heat fry the spring onions, ginger and chilli for a minute or two. Then add the garlic and after another minute the carrot, mushrooms and pepper. Stir fry that around for 2/3 minutes and then add the lemon juice, purple sprouting broccoli and 3 tbsp of the coriander. Stir again. Drain the noodles and divide between 2 bowls, give the vegetables a final stir, season if required and likewise divide between the bowls. Sprinkle with the nuts and the remaining coriander.

So the broccoli water did colour the noodles to some degree. At school or by my Mother, I can’t remember which, I was told to try to use up the water vegetables were cooked in as the liquor was nutrient filled. Interestingly for once, one could see this advice in action. Don’t worry the effect is not too marked, unappetizing is not the word that will spring to mind.

D’ya like my new wok? I’m very pleased with this. After 6 years of trying to make stir fry in a frying pan on my ancient and temperamental induction hob, I have found the answer. I’m sure it has a name, I can’t remember the official title, but the description would be flat-bottomed wok and you don’t need gas.

Finally, beneficial foods: I seem to be surrounded by people with nasty coughs and colds at the moment. Fresh ginger is supposed to be highly beneficial for such afflictions. A tea of fresh ginger, grated and boiled in a cup full of water, strained,  then lemon juice and  honey added to taste should help.

Sea-Change in the Veg Box fuels Low-Carb Lunches

So we have been having a quiet time of it this Easter Holiday. The manic last week in March (two significant birthdays and the Help for Heroes Cake Sale) left us all feeling a little worn out in this house and completely distracted me from planning a vast amount of holiday excitement. Judging by Facebook this is not true for everyone. There has been much sharing of Disney Resort visits, ski-ing trips, Floridian escapades, family get togethers, camping or not as the temperatures plummeted, for one set of ex-pats (living in Australia) visiting other bits of Australia and finally counting the locally nesting swan’s egg collection (OK we could have done that last one too!).  I ♥ Facebook.

We did go ski-ing in the Tamworth Snowdome – that was good fun – surreal and invigorating, visited Studland beach for a day, made the best ever scones, tested some more chocolate salted caramel cupcakes (recipe coming end of the week), have caught up on lost sleep from the Child 1’s Camp In, went to see the Hunger Games and watched Child 2’s latest drama workshop performance:

Absolutely Fabulous Darling!

All perfectly exciting enough you might say, well yes it was and rather nerdishly from my point of view an additional highlight for me was the arrival of the veg box as (apart from the perpetual carrots and potatoes) there was not a root vegetable in sight.

Here are a few of the said highlights:

It’s all looking a bit green you might think and that would be true and at the time of year when we should be experiencing the ‘hungry gap’ –  very lush.

Now, I might be generalising here, but usually, when friends return from holidays, there are complaints about weight gained. Coupled with that my better half informed me that the largest upsurge in gym memberships is actually post-Easter not post-Christmas (how does he know this stuff – he regularly comes across as being the oracle). So I am thinking a low-carb recipe might be in order.

I am not going to get into a big discussion here on healthy eating and weight loss. I’m not qualified and currently fall within the ‘normal’ BMI range. I have dieted in my time, and get a lot of comments running along the lines of ‘surely you should be fatter as you are surrounded by cakes and buttercream’. I try to keep on top of weight gain by owning a pair of scales and using them regularly (monitoring really does make a difference I think), running (essential for me), and over the course of a week eating several low carb meals. As you get older this tactic seems to make the job of maintaining a steady weight much easier. If I see the weight creep up, so do the number of low carb meals.

However I don’t worry too much about essential fatty acids. These are the fats which are necessary to keep you healthy and are found in oily fish, olive oil, nuts, avocados that sort of thing. Animal fats: butter, cream, cheese and the fat on the meat have a different molecular structure and are the more ‘problematic’ ones. I don’t eat much in that department and try to keep my sugar consumption down. This last rule seems to be trickier the older I get! The other trick I have learnt is to stop eating when I start to feel full, and a need to feel properly hungry before I eat again. I understand that particularly for some eating food is wrapped up with issues such as stress and therefore this robotic approach won’t work for all, but over time some small shifts in behaviour can make a big difference. There was a weight-related motivational quote on Pinterest the other day ‘you will notice the difference after 4 weeks, your family after 8 and the rest of the world after 12’. 12 weeks is the beginning of the school summer holidays.

About perfect then.

So a salad recipe. In the bottom right hand corner of the picture is a Portobello mushroom and I believe these beauties are too interesting in their own right to be chopped up and put in Spaghetti Bolognese, let’s make a feature of them instead.

This can be made out of whatever you have knocking about really, or if you want to use half fat cheese (like those Mozzarella balls, grated Edam or even low-fat soft cheese) then do, but some easy melting cheese is essential.

  • Preheat the grill on a moderately hot setting.
  • Remove the skins from 2 Portobello mushrooms and place them gill-side down in a small roasting tin. Brush with a little olive oil. Pop under the grill for 3-4 minutes.
  • Meanwhile in a bowl mix together some chopped or grated cheese, I like Dolcelatte or Stilton mixed with a small amount of grated Jarlsberg or alternatively crumbled goat’s cheese, some chopped walnuts and some chopped parsley if available. In the picture above I also added some chopped avocado. (A lot of chopping).
  • Once the mushrooms are looking like they have softened and mushroom ‘juice’ is starting to run, remove from the heat, turn them over and pile on the cheese-y nutty topping. Return to the grill and continue to cook until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
  • Prepare some salad leaves and maybe some tomato and cucumber on a plate and drizzle no more than ½ a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over. Once cooked, transfer the mushrooms to the bed of lettuce and pour over the juices which will be running around the bottom of the tin. Squirt a little lemon juice over or, if you have used avocado particularly, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and tuck in.

Other types of nuts or chopped tomato can be substituted for walnuts. This is actually substantial enough for an evening meal.

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