Tag Archives: cucumber

Gluten-free & Dairy-Free Chia Seed Super Salad

Chia seed salad

The sun is streaming into the kitchen and it feels great to be making hot-weather food. Step forward salads – with zingy, fresh ingredients and clean, clear tastes. Making food in this heat becomes as simple as putting some ingredients in a bowl. And when it’s this simple, it’s supereasy to make healthy, nutrient-packed meals.

This salad is full of antioxidant-rich veggies. But the stars of the bowl are the chia seeds. They are literally bursting with vitamins, minerals and the highest amount of omega-3 in any fruit or vegetable. You can use chia seeds to thicken stews, soups, juices and smoothies, to bind flour mixtures together as a substitute for eggs when baking, but also very simply to sprinkle into stir-frys and salads. Ahhh, sunshine and superfoods – a wonderful combination!

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, nut-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150g/5½oz mixed salad leaves
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
  • ½ red, orange or yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 2 spring onions, white part finely sliced
  • 1 small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

Dressing:

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. To make the dressing, mix together the ingredients in a small jug.
  2. Using a teaspoon, deseed the cucumber by running the spoon down the centre of the cucumber. Discard the seeds and cut the cucumber into thin matchsticks. Put the cucumber and the remaining vegetables into a serving bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the dressing and the herbs and mix in gently. Sprinkle the seeds over the top and serve.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Sushi from Renée Elliott’s Me, You & the Kids, Too

Zoe loves nori which is great because it’s amazingly good for you. Like other sea vegetables, it is high in B vitamins, beta-carotene, calcium, iron and zinc, so it is brilliant at boosting your immune system. And it’s particularly high in vitamin A which helps prevent colds and sore throats, as well as maintaining healthy skin. She’ll eat the sheets of nori by themselves (and I’m inwardly cheering as she nibbles all those fantastic nutrients!) and is particularly keen on having it as sushi, especially with this avocado/mayonnaise filling.

I used to make sushi the more standard way, by rolling the nori over the filling and then cutting each roll into pieces. But then Renée Elliott showed me how easy hand rolls are to make – in fact, you can put all the ingredients on the table and let everyone (kids included) make their own rolls. This recipe is adapted from Renée’s latest book, Me, You & the Kids, Too – you can use any combination of veggies – we used the cucumber and carrots we had in the fridge this time (and added extra avocado), instead of the asparagus, sprouts and beetroot in Renée’s recipe.

The additional bonus about this recipe (like all the recipes in Me, You & the Kids Too) is that you can also make nutrient-dense purées for your baby, from this recipe. There’s no need for additional ingredients, you just take from the main amount. And bingo – a meal that feeds all. However, as Zoe told me this morning (on her first day at nursery/school), she’s not my baby any longer. So no more purées for her… Sob!

gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free

Makes: 20     Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 40 minutes cooking the brown sushi rice     Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 asparagus, woody ends removed and halved
  • 40 green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 200g/7oz/1 cup brown sushi rice or brown short grain rice
  • 10 nori sheets, halved lengthways
  • 12 tbsp wasabi (optional)
  • 1 beetroot, grated
  • 50g/134oz sprouts such as alfalfa, broccoli or mung (optional)

For the sauce:

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  1. Put the rice and 455ml/16fl oz/scant 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes until the rice is just cooked but still retains a slight bite.
  2. Put the asparagus and green beans in a steamer and steam, covered, for 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still slightly crunchy. Add the salt to the cooked brown sushi rice and mix well.
  3. To make the sauce, mix together the avocados and mayonnaise in a bowl until smooth.
  4. To make a hand roll, spread 1 tablespoon of the sauce diagonally down the centre of one nori sheet, then add a little wasabi on top, if using. Put 1 tablespoon of the cooked brown sushi rice, 1 piece of asparagus, 2 green beans and 1 tablespoon each of the beetroot and sprouts, if using, on top of the sauce. Take the nori sheet in your hand and roll into a cone shape. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Green bean, Avocado & Rice Purée for a 6–9 month old baby

  • Put 4 tablespoons of the cooked brown sushi rice and 135ml/4½fl oz/generous ½ cup boiling water in a saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add 4 green beans and cook, covered, for a further 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 2 tablespoons of the avocado and 3 tablespoons water. Blend for 30 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth. Serve warm.

Vegetables, Avocado, Sprouts, Beetroot & Rice for a 6–9 month old baby

  • Put 4 tablespoons of the cooked brown sushi rice and 135ml/4½fl oz/generous ½ cup boiling water in a saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add 2 green beans and 1 asparagus piece and cook for a further 10 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a blender and add 2 tablespoons of the avocado, 1 tablespoon each of the beetroot and sprouts, if using, and 3 tablespoons water. Pulse for 15 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a lumpy purée. Serve warm.

Leemei Tan’s Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Malaysian Coconut & Lemongrass–Scented Rice with Squid Sambal

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, making the same spice paste over and over again. So I tried a new one to make this recipe – from Leemei Tan‘s Lemongrass & Ginger. I have an all-time favourite Thai green curry that I make that is hard to drag myself away from. But it uses a lot of different ingredients so it was great to try this simple paste – especially as it delivers delicious flavours and tons of oomph.

Leemei Tan is a food blogger, stylist and photographer. Her blog is gorgeous – full of Asian (inspired by her upbringing in Malaysia) and French/Asian (inspired by her French husband) recipes. Her brilliant book covers recipes from all over Asia – Japan & Korea, China, Philippines & Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam and India & Sri Lanka. Here I’ve tried one of the Malaysian recipes as I’ve become increasingly interested in this particular cuisine.

Malaysian food reflects the country’s different ethnic backgrounds. The mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Nyonya, Eurasian and the indigenous people of Borneo has meant the cuisine majors on a fusion of Malay and Chinese ingredients and cooking techniques. Added to that is the effect of the spice trade in the 15th century that brought a wide range of exotic spices to Malaysia, including cardamom, cinnamon, clove and star anise, all of which often play a starring role in the dishes.

This recipe uses star anise, ginger and lemongrass, along with coconut milk, to make a truly delicious rice. (I made the rice the other morning, before I went to work, thinking that Zoe would love it for her lunch, as she loves coconut-flavoured rice. But when I came home and asked Peter whether she had liked it, he said that she’d eaten a fair bit of it but didn’t seem to enjoy it particularly. Later on, I realised that he’d given her the chopped up dried anchovies for this Sambal recipe that I’d had in the fridge instead. No wonder she hadn’t gone for it big time!)

This recipe is a great one for cooking squid. Squid can so easily be tough and rubbery when you’ve cooked it, so you have to either flash fry/stir-fry or cook it slowly, as you do here, to get a lovely tender texture. And the whole dish is full of punchy, vibrant flavours – delicious!

I went to New Loon Moon Supermarket in Chinatown, London, to get the dried anchovies, the pandan leaves and the banana leaves for this recipe. It’s always wonderful going to this store – and I generally spend far too long in there, drifting around the aisles looking at the wonderful selection of foods…

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, soya-free, nut-free

Serves: 4–6     Preparation time: 1 hour, plus soaking and resting time     Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 350g/12oz/1¾ cups long-grain rice, washed and rested
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves and stalk ends removed and crushed
  • 3 pandan leaves, tied into a knot (optional)
  • 2cm/¾in piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 100ml/3½fl oz/generous ⅓ cup coconut milk
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 4–6 banana leaves (optional)

For the Squid Sambal

  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 red onions, sliced into rings
  • 800g/1lb 12oz squid, cut into rings
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice or 1 recipe quantity Tamarind Water
  • sea salt

For the Sambal paste

  • 4 dried chillies
  • 5 red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 10 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp roasted shrimp paste
  • 2 macadamia nuts

To serve

  • 100g/3½oz/scant ⅔ cup raw, skinless peanuts
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • 1 small cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 80g/2¾oz dried anchovies
  1. To make the Sambal paste, soak the dried chillies in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain, deseed and roughly chop. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. To make the Squid Sambal, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add the spice paste and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 10–15 minutes until fragrant and the oil starts to rise to the surface. Tip in the squid, stir until well coated and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and season with salt, then add the lime juice and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and turns a dark reddish brown. Leave to one side and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, put the rice, star anise, lemongrass, pandan leaves, if using, ginger, coconut milk and salt in a large saucepan and pour in 300ml/10½fl oz/scant 1¼ cups water. Put the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil for about 20 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent the rice sticking to the base of the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, leaving the lid tightly closed, and leave to one side to steam for 10–15 minutes until cooked. Fluff the rice with a fork and discard the star anise, lemongrass and pandan leaves, if using.  Leave to one side and keep warm.
  5. While the Sambal and rice are cooking, heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add the peanuts and dry-roast until fragrant and starting to brown. Tip the peanuts onto a plate, sprinkle over the sugar and leave to cool. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and fry the dried anchovies until slightly browned.
  6. Serve the rice on plates or banana leaves. Ladle the Squid Sambal over the rice and top with the eggs. To the side, heap the cucumber, toasted anchovies and sugared peanuts. Serve hot.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Kelp Noodles with a Chilli Lime Dressing

Last night I made a recipe from Christine Bailey’s new book The Raw Food Diet. A raw food diet is increasingly recognised as a superhealthy way to eat (and followed by many celebs, including Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore). Raw food is basically food that hasn’t been heated above 47.7°C/118°F. It’s all about pure, unadulterated, whole food that is rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients – mainly from lots of veggies (especially green leafy ones), fruit and nuts. Processed or refined foods are out, and alkaline foods and drinks are in, especially those that are nutrient-dense, such as kale. And by not cooking any of the food above 47.7%, the valuable enzymes are preserved. Raw foodists swear that their diet improves their digestion and immune function. Many lose weight and say that their skin and hair looks much better, and that their energy levels are much higher. They also claim that it can bring relief to allergies and intolerances, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. You don’t have to follow a raw food diet 100% of the time. It makes sense to eat food in its natural state and devotees reckon that even if you can only eat 40-50% of your food raw, this will make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing.

I made Christine’s Kelp Noodles with a Chilli Lime Dressing. I’ve never tried kelp noodles before but I’ve been wanting to try them because they’re so good for you. Kelp noodles look and taste very similar to glass noodles and are simply made of the sea vegetable, kelp, and water. They’re beloved by many people, including raw foodists, as an alternative to pasta or noodles because they are totally unprocessed don’t need to cooking, (People looking to lose weight also love them because they’re very low in calories and carbohydrates.) Plus, kelp is a true superfood, like all sea vegetables. It’s rich in minerals, including iodine, plus enzymes, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and amino acids. It’s also very cleansing and detoxifying for the body.

Kelp noodles have a very mild taste and soak up flavours beautifully. In this recipe, Christine has added delicious shiitake mushrooms, red pepper and cucumber and created a strong, vibrant dish, full of punchy flavours, especially from the chilli lime dressing. This recipe uses dried kelp noodles, but I used noodles that were immersed in water and sodium alginate, so I didn’t need to soak them.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free

Preparation time: 20 minutes plus 20 minutes soaking time     Serves: 2     Storage: will keep in the fridge for up to 1 day

Ingredients:

  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 225g/8oz/1½ cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, halved lengthways, deseeded and julienned
  • ½ cucumber, deseeded and julienned
  • 1 tbsp chopped Thai basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 large handful baby spinach leaves
  • 350g/12oz kelp noodles (soaked for 20 minutes, then drained)

Chilli Lime Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1 tbsp xylitol
  • 1 tsp deseeded and finely chopped red chilli
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  1. Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a bowl, then chill until needed.
  2. Put the onion, mushrooms and pepper in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Leave for 10 minutes to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 84kcal • Protein 4.2g • Carbohydrates 16.2g • Fat 1g (of which saturates 0.2g)