Category Archives: Sides & Salads

Cheese & Bacon Loaded Fries

The saltiness of the bacon with the slight heat from the potatoes covered in melted cheese makes these pretty irresistible. 

This is one of those dishes that you know you shouldn’t eat very often, but when you do give into your cravings and make it, it is oh so worth the consequences! 

I have made some very small steps to try and reduce the calories where possible. For example making your own oven-baked chips is healthier than a lot of shop bought chips and definitely healthier than fried chips. But I suppose that is where the ‘healthy choices’ end! You could use reduced fat cheese, but I find it doesn’t melt as well. So I will let you decided on whether you are looking for melty goodness, or less calories. 

I used my Actifry to make these chips as it makes delicious chips using minimal oil. If you do not have one of these, make the chips as I have written below, just make sure you turn them a couple of times to make sure they don’t stick to the baking tray. 

I know I keep referring to these as chips, but have called the recipe Loaded Fries. This is because as a whole we refer to them as chips here in the UK, but thinner chips like you would see in fast food restaurants, are often referred to as fries. If you prefer thicker chips, just cut them thicker and cook them for longer. 

You can have these as an indulgent side dish or how I envisage eating them is when you’re having a lay day on the sofa watching movies under a blanket and you fancy something a little bit naughty. Pause your movie, prepare these and then sit back and watch the rest of your film with the most amazing snack.  

Serves 2 

400g potatoes
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp garlic powder
4 rashers of streaky bacon
50g cheese, grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. After cleaning the potatoes, cut them into slices and then each slice into strips to form chips
  3. Toss with the oil, chile powder, garlic powder and salt. Line the chips on a baking tray and cook for 20 mins making sure you turn them a couple of times so they don’t stick

  1. While the chips are cooking, line the bacon on another baking tray and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until really crispy

  1. Once the chips and bacon are cooked, add the chips to an ovenproof dish. Using scissors, snip 3 rashers of bacon onto the chips

  1. Top with the cheese and the other rasher of snipped bacon
  2. Cook in the oven for 5 mins or until the cheese has melted 

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Giant Couscous, Tomato & Rocket Salad

 

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Fresh, light and summery, this makes the perfect salad as part of a BBQ or a tasty lunch.

Like a lot of people, I tend to eat a lot of salads in the summer, especially for lunch. After a while, I start to get a little bored of the standard  involving variations of lettuce, cucumber and tomato. That is why I came up with this Mediterranean inspired alternative.

I really love tomatoes marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt. I sometimes just mix these together to add to a normal salad because it makes the tomatoes even tastier and acts as a dressing at the same time. If you can leave them to sit for at least ten minutes, the flavours will really develop. Another reason for marinating the tomatoes is it acts as the dressing in the final salad which I was looking for as I think that couscous can sometimes be quite try. The olive oil in the marinade also helps keep the couscous from clumping together in the way that couscous likes to do!

I sometimes find that salads aren’t as filling as you would like because they don’t tend to include any carbohydrate. So I wanted to include something that would give the salad some substance so it would keep you fuller for longer, but also not something too unhealthy. Couscous is a great because it is low in calories but really helps bulk up a dish. I use normal couscous a lot, but wanted to use giant couscous in this recipe so it really stood out as one of the main ingredients. It is slightly softer than normal couscous really absorbed some of the marinade.

I would class the salad as being relatively healthy. The only aspect which is higher in calories is the olive oil which you can always reduce, as long as you reduce the balsamic vinegar as well. This would mean the salad may be slightly drier, but still tasty.

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Serves 2

100g giant cous cous
1 tsp concentrated chicken stock

230g plum tomatoes
1 large pepper
4 tbsp olive oil (plus ½ tsp)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic, crushed
10 basil leaves, shredded

A couple of handfuls of rocket
A few shavings of Parmesan

  1. De-seed and cut the pepper into large slices. Cook them in the oven on 200ºC for 15-20 mins until they have softened and coloured slightly. When cool enough, dice the peppers
  2. Cook the giant couscous as per the packet’s instructions with the addition of the concentrated chicken
  3. Cut each tomato in half and add to a bowl along with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, pepper, garlic and basil. Stir and leave to marinate

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  1. Once the couscous has cooked, drain and toss with ½ tsp olive oil and using a fork, stir through. Leave to cool slightly
  2. When all ingredients have cooled so they are warm, add the couscous to a bowl along with a couple of generous handfuls of rocket, the peppers and the tomatoes with their olive oil mixture
  3. When ready to serve, garnish with a few shavings of Parmesan

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Tenderstem Broccoli with Oyster Sauce & Garlic

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Delicious crisp Tenderstem broccoli flavoured with garlic and oyster sauce – what’s not to love?!

I am obsessed with Tenderstem broccoli. Absolutely obsessed. It started about six months ago when I was watching what I was eating as part of my wedding diet. I’ve always liked broccoli, but Tenderstem broccoli is on another level. The stems are delicious and as the same suggests – tender! It also has a slightly different taste to normal broccoli which is hard to describe so you will need to try it for yourself if you haven’t already!

A couple of months before my wedding, I decided to really reduce the carbs I ate. I’m not suggesting everyone should do this, but it worked for me and I actually didn’t miss carbs and it has helped change my view on food. Reducing my carbs meant I was eating a lot more vegetables which consisted of eating Tenderstem broccoli at least 6 days out of 7. I would go to numerous shops searching for it if it was sold out at the first shop I tried. The obsession was real.

We went on our honeymoon for 2 weeks to the Maldives and there was no broccoli in sight, let alone Tenderstem! I ate the most amazing food but my time away from my beloved broccoli made me think new recipes as before I had just boiled it. That is when I came up with this recipe and loved it.

Yes I went and brought some Tenderstem broccoli the day after we got back from our honeymoon!

This recipe is so incredibly quick and delicious that I have now had it a few times instead of a salad or sandwich; its a tasty meal in itself!

The quantities below make enough for one large portion; which in my opinion is the only size portion you need of this!

100g tenderstem broccoli
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp finely diced garlic
1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
Sprinkling of sesame seeds 

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat and when hot, add the Tenderstem broccoli. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes allowing the stems to get slightly brown and toasted

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  1. Add the garlic and oyster sauce and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of water if the broccoli tops are getting a bit too crisp
  2. Put on a plate and garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Garlic

 

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Crispy bacon with charred sprouts with a delicious hint of garlic, this is not a boring side dish.

Sprouts have quite a bad reputation here and a lot of people don’t seem to like them. Like a lot of people in Britain, I used to only tend to eat brussel sprouts at Christmas.  When we have them at Christmas, they are usually just boiled so they aren’t the most exciting vegetable.

I decided to come up with a brussel recipe a couple of months ago. It came about when I decided to try out a low carb diet to help me drop a few more pounds before my wedding. I didn’t want to cut out carbs altogether, but dramatically reduce them. This meant I was eating a lot more veg – I mean a lot more. I became slightly obsessed with tenderstem broccoli; I can’t get enough of it! But I couldn’t just eat broccoli, so I decided to come up with a sprouts recipe. I’d heard of combining bacon with sprouts before so thought I would give it a go. The recipe turned out great and I now have it at least once a week; my boyfriend now even asks if he can have some when he wouldn’t go near brussels before!

My diet has gone well and with the last few weeks of eating far less carbs, I have managed to loose just over three stone in five months. This recipe is great for everyone to enjoy, not just people trying to loose weight!

500g brussel sprouts
200g bacon lardons
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp rapeseed oil

  1. Trim the sprouts and get rid of any outside leaves that don’t look great. Cook in salted boiling water for around 10 minutes so the sprouts are just cooked but not soft. Drain the sprouts and leave to cool slightly

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  1. Cook the bacon in a frying pan on a high heat until crisp

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  1. While the bacon is cooking, cut the sprouts in half or quarters depending on how big they are. Add them to the bacon along with the oil and stir occasionally
  2. Once the sprouts have started to get crisp, add the garlic and allow to cook for a five or so more minutes

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Yorkshire Puddings

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So incredibly big, fluffy and delicious! These are so quick and simple you will never use ready-made Yorkshire Puddings again!

I came across this recipe as a video that came up on my Facebook timeline. The recipe is from Pinch of Nom: Slimming World Recipes so I thought I definitely had to try it if it was a healthy Yorkshire! So I made the extremely easy batter and they turned out great – so light and fluffy. I then wanted to work out just how healthy they were because I don’t use Slimming World so didn’t know what 1.5 syns meant. After working it out, each Yorkshire Pudding has around 65 calories; so not really that healthy.

I then asked my Mum how she makes her Yorkshires which was interested in itself. She learnt how to make them from her Mum and doesn’t measure ingredients but makes the batter by eye. Hers are always fantastic, but I need something with measurements to make sure I get it right as I don’t have the years of practice my Mum has. She did say that her recipe only uses one egg and not two and she uses oil instead of spray oil. Simply changing to spray oil would reduce the calories significantly which is always a good thing!

After speaking to my friend that does use Slimming World I found out that they are considered a good option because eggs are ‘free’ or something like that so you don’t count them therefore the Yorkshires are a healthier option in their diet.

Ignoring whether they are healthy or not, these Yorkshires are delicious. A lot of the frozen and ready made Yorkshires you can buy do have fewer calories but they tend to be smaller and in my opinion thinner and crisper instead of light and fluffy. Personally I would rather have one of these Yorkshire Puddings every now and then rather than a ready made one more frequently. Try these and you will definitely understand why!

This recipe makes 4 Yorkshire Puddings.

spray oil 
30g plain flour
2 eggs
pinch of salt
75ml semi-skimmed milk

  1. Spray a muffin tin with the oil and heat in the oven at 210ºC until the oil foams
  2. Add all of the ingredients and whisk until smooth

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  1. Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 10 mins at 210ºC and then reduce to 190ºC for 5-10 minutes until golden and fluffy

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Guacamole

 

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Healthy, fresh and a great accompaniment to so many things. This is my sister’s favourite guacamole recipe that is really quick and packed with great flavours.

My sister, Ally, is definitely a fan of avocado. She had this tasty guacamole when she went to Wahaca in London and raved about it. She then ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’ by Thomasina Miers so she could make the guacamole herself as well as other tasty recipes.

Ally made this recipe for our Mexican Feast we cooked our Mum for Mother’s Day (I’ve been meaning to blog this recipe for a while as you can see!). The guacamole went perfectly with the nachos, chilli con carne and quesadillas we made as part of the feast.

Avocados are packed with healthy fats, vitamins and fibre which makes guacamole a perfect healthy snack.

1 – 2 green chillies, finely chopped
½ red onion, very finely chopped
1 small garlic clove
1 – 2 tsp sea salt
3 ripe Hass avocados (the dark green bumpy skinned ones)
juice of 1 – 2 limes
small handful of coriander, chopped
1 ripe tomato, de-seeded and diced 
freshly ground black pepper 

  1. Test the heat of your chillies by biting the tip off one. If they’re quite hot you may want to use less or remove the seeds
  2. Put a quarter of the onion, the garlic, half the chili and salt into a both and mush with a fork
  3. Remove the stones from the avocados and scoop out the flesh and add to the bowl with the roughly mashed ingredients. Mash the avocados adding half of the lime juice as you go. When you have a good rough texture, add in the rest of the onion, lime juice and chillies along with the coriander and tomato
  4. Season with plenty of black pepper. Taste the guacamole and add more lime juice, salt and coriander if needed

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Feta Stuffed Peppers

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Delicious, tasty and super easy these Feta Stuffed Peppers make an excellent light lunch or starter.

I found this recipe in my friend’s Weight Watchers recipe book which is always a good sign that it is going to be healthy! I really love the flavour of peppers when they are roasted as it brings out their sweetness so thought I would give this recipe a try. They did mention added chilli flakes, but I didn’t fancy this so I left them out but feel free to add them if you want a bit of a kick!

I didn’t have any fresh basil so I sprinkled on some frozen basil. I don’t seem to be very good at keeping plants alive so don’t tend to buy the little herb plants you see in the shop and I find that the fresh cut basil doesn’t last very long. So instead I bought a pot of frozen basil which is always there when I need it. Obviously fresh basil will be the most flavoursome and the frozen basil won’t be ideal for everything but it worked well in this recipe.

Each pepper (two halves) is less than 250 calories so it makes a perfect light lunch or you could use half a pepper as a starter.

2 red peppers, halved and de-seeded
16 cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil
Spray oil
Pepper

  1. Spray a baking tray with oil. Put the four pepper halves on the tray and divide the ingredients between them

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  1. Spray again with oil and put in the oven for 40-45 minutes
  2. Serve with a green salad

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Fig, Prosciutto & Rocket Salad

 

Peppery rocket draped with flavoursome cured ham and sweet delicious figs, this salad is definitely something a little special. 

I am obsessed with figs. Not only are they delicious, they are really pretty too. I spend all year waiting for them to come into season and then eat as many of them as possible. I am always shocked by how many people have never seen them let alone tried them. My mother in law had only tried them dried in fig rolls before and two of my friends at work had no idea what it was when I brought them into work. 

I am making it my little mission to make as many people aware of figs as possible so I insisted that my friends tried them. You should have seen their faces, you would have thought I was asking them to try something really weird. They both thought the figs were alright which is a much better reaction than I thought I was going to get!

This is a great recipe to try if you haven’t eaten figs before because it is so easy and includes familiar ingredients too. Most people may associate figs with sweet dishes, like my Honey, Fig and Mascarpone Cupcakes. However figs go really well as part of a savoury dish and add a great sweetness. This salad makes a lovely starter or light lunch and is really healthy.

This salad is really simple and quick to whip up. I first made this just for myself thinking it wouldn’t be Mr Curly’s kind of thing. He had a little bit to give it a try and really liked it so ended up eating half of it! In the week since I made it, he has kept asking when I am going to make it again because he loved it.

I decided to use Prosciutto, but feel free to use Parma or Serano ham instead – just use whichever cured ham you fancy. With the dressing, you can either use balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinegar glaze. This recipe is definitely not set in stone, the quantities below are just a guide so if you want more of one ingredient, go for it.

Updated October 2017

Serves 2 
1 bag of rocket 
3 – 4 figs 
4 slices of Prosciutto
20g Parmesan
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinegar glaze  

  1. Rinse the rocket if it hasn’t already been washed and scatter over your serving plate or bowl
  2. Cut the figs into quarters or sixths depending on how big they are and add them to the rocket
  3. Drape slices of Prosciutto over the plate
  4. Grate the Parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler so you get curls of cheese
  5. Drizzle the salad with balsamic vinegar

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Roasted New Potatoes

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Crispy skinned new potatoes which are fluffy inside flavoured with herbs make the perfect side dish for any meal.

New potatoes have always been my least favourite type of potato because to be honest I find them a bit boring. We used to have them quite a lot , especially in the summer, when I was a child and although they are nice for a change, it felt like we had them for every meal (I may be exaggerating slightly).

My preferred way of eating new potatoes is to roast them with herbs as the skin turns nice and crispy but they’re still fluffy inside. I almost feel a little bit cheeky calling this a recipe because it is so simple, it is more like assembling rather than an actual recipe! This way gives them a lot more flavour in my opinion than just boiling them in salted water. They are really simple to prepare this way, but I think it makes them look like you’ve put a bit more effort in.

I was lucky enough to be given these potatoes by Rien’s Nan who had grown them in her garden. She was so excited when I said I’d like them because I don’t think the rest of the family tend to use them. I think things like vegetables are always that little bit tastier when they have been home grown for some reason.

You can use whatever herbs you would like. I like to use a combination of thyme and rosemary because these are two of my favourite herbs, but often just use one of the other depending what I have. There is no need to pick the leaves off the stalks as during cooking, the leaves seem to fall off themselves. This then makes it really easy to just pick out the stems once the potatoes are finished cooking.

The below amount should be enough for four people as a side dish.

500g new potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp sea salt
A few sprigs of the herbs of your choice

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Thoroughly wash the potatoes and remove any black bits

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  1. Drizzle some of the olive oil into a roasting tin. Add the potatoes, cutting any large ones in half to make the potatoes roughly the same size
  2. Drizzle over the rest of the olive oil before sprinkling over the salt and adding the herbs

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  1. Roast in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, turning the potatoes half way through the time, until the potatoes are crispy on the outside but cooked through; I check this by poking them with a sharp knife. Remove the herb stalks and serve

Mexican Sweetcorn Salad

2015-08-02 19.50.35  Slightly charred sweetcorn with a slight chilli kick and freshness from the lime juice. This makes a perfect side dish for all Mexican food and is so easy and tasty.

If you follow my blog regularly, you’ll know a couple of things about me; I’m quite fussy and I love Mexican food. I was looking for a sweetcorn side dish and this recipe caught my eye on Pinterest. As with a lot of recipes, I had to make a few adjustments like leaving out the coriander and red onion (I can’t stand coriander and don’t like raw onions – see I told you I was fussy!) After adapting the ingredients it left a fantastic side dish using one of my favourite ingredients – sweetcorn!

When I was younger, like all children I often fancied a snack when I came home from school. One of my favourite things to eat was sweetcorn straight from the tin. My love for sweetcorn is quite specific though – it has to be tinned and it has to be with added salt and sugar. Frozen sweetcorn just doesn’t cut it and although I do occasionally have corn on the cob in restaurants I like, more often than not I don’t.

This recipe has quickly become one of our favourites. As there are only two of us, I started off by making half the amount but I quickly started making the full amount so that there are left overs but more often than not we have to stop ourselves demolishing the whole lot!

680g sweetcorn (2 large tins)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese to sprinkle on top

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the sweetcorn and let it cook until it starts to char making sure you stir it occasionally

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  1. In a bowl mix together the mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, chilli powder, salt and pepper
  2. When the sweetcorn is nicely charred, let is cool for a couple of minutes before adding to the mayonnaise mix
  3. Keep any leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days

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