Butter Beans and Spinach

Tinned beans are such an easy way to get protein and fibre into your diet. Butter Beans have a creamy texture that pairs beautifully with bright flavours like tomato and lemon. As I need to get lots of iron into my meals Butter Beans and Spinach is a power dish that also tastes amazing. I serve this side dish with meats and fish or with a whole roasted cauliflower or veggie sausages.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: NUTS, BEANS & SEEDS
Some nuts, beans and seeds contain good levels of omega-3 which is an essential nutrient for your brain to function, especially when managing depression.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids

1 400g tin of butter beans
1 head of garlic
10-14 small tomatoes
1/2 lemon
30ml single cream
1 tsp rock salt
2 tbsp olive oil
optional: 1/2 tsp chilli flakes

  • Peel and finely chop the garlic. Put the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat then add the garlic (and chilli if using) and cook slowly for a few minutes (you don’t want the garlic to burn so keep the heat low.) Halve the tomatoes then add the to the pan, cut side down and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Drain the butter beans and add to the pan then sprinkle over the salt and stir. Cook for 3 minutes before adding the spinach and squeezing over the juice of half a lemon. Once the spinach has wilted, add the cream and stir then heat for another minute before serving.

BBQ Rump Steak

Rump Steak has so much flavour and one is usually enough to feed the four of us (bear in mind my bubs are still young) so it’s very economical. Rump has a lot of flavour because it’s well marbled with fat and comes from the hard-working back legs which imparts more flavour than the less hard-working parts of the cow. Flavouring your steak whilst it comes to room temperature (never cook steaks straight from the fridge because they’ll be tasteless) is extremely easy with a good rub. This recipe has my go-to rub for rump steak no matter what I’m serving it with. My favourite accompaniments are Avocado Salsa and Crunchy Wedges.

Iron: Red meat contains iron that regulates your blood sugar levels which improves your energy levels.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids

200-300g rump steak
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
olive oil, salt and lemon to finish

  • Put all the flavourings in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the steak on a plate or a piece of greaseproof paper. Tip the seasonings onto the steak and rub in then lift the steak so the excess falls then press the uncoated side in the mix. Press until the whole steak is covered then leave to rest for at least 30 minutes (not in the fridge).
  • Heat the grill as hot as it will go before putting the steak on the BBQ. Rub some olive oil into the steak on both sides then place onto the grill and do not move for 4 minutes then flip over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the steak to a plate or resting board and leave it for 6 minutes before carving, squeezing over some lemon juice and serving with your favourite salads, salsa, potatoes, veggies and dips.

My top tips for BBQing steak

1) Don’t BBQ steak straight from the fridge, let it come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes

2) Season more than you normally would. Be generous with the salt and seasonings

3) Make sure your grill is very hot before cooking

4) Rest your steaks for at least 3 minutes, preferably 10 after they’re cooked, it will be SO much more juicy

Lime Prawn Salad

Limes pair wonderfully with prawns and the flavour takes me to Mexico and the feeling of sunshine on my skin. During these months where travel has been simply impossible I have revisited countries, towns, rivers and restaurants through the food in my kitchen. Cooking is the cheapest form of traveling. Lime Prawn Salad is gloriously beautiful and packed full of ingredients that do your body good. I use Holland and Barrett’s Seed Mix to finish salads as the blend is just right.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: NUTS, BEANS & SEEDS
Some nuts, beans and seeds contain good levels of omega-3 which is an essential nutrient for your brain to function, especially when managing depression.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults

150g cooked prawns
1 lime
50g mayo
4 tomatoes
3 radishes
1 avacado
100g washed baby spinach
olive oil, salt and pepper
seeds and micro greens to finish

  • Put the mayo in a small mixing bowl then squeeze in the juice of the lime and drizzle in a tablespoon of olive oil. Grind over with salt then whisk the sauce together. Taste to see if it needs more salt.
  • Chop the spinach then divide between two bowls . Quarter the tomatoes, finely slice the radish and divide between the two bowls along with the prawns. Halve the avocado then hit the pit with the sharp side of a large knife (be careful of your fingers) twist and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh then slice and divide between the bowls. Drizzle over the dressing then finish with seeds, micro greens and a good grind of pepper. Give everything a gentle toss together with your fork and enjoy.

Tarted Up Soup

I don’t cook every single meal from scratch but I tend to add my own twist to pre-made dishes either to add more flavour, texture or substance. I love making soup but I also buy tins of good soup that keep for ages on a shelf for the days that I was a veggie hit without the effort. You can tart up soup from a tin by adding toppings that boost the flavour and texture. Choose toppings that match or compliment the flavour of the soup. To turn tinned soup into a more lavish meal I buy a wheel of camembert then warm it up along with a ciabatta loaf then serve them alongside the soup with a big bunch of grapes.

TOPPINGS TO TART UP SOUP
bacon bits/shredded roast chicken/crumbled black pudding
peas/cress/edible flowers
sour cream/plain yoghurt/greek yoghurt/single cream
chilli oil/garlic oil
seeds: pumpkin and sesame especially
croutons
feta/grated parmesan/stilton
chopped mint/basil/coriander
chilli powder/nutmeg/paprika

  • If you’re serving cheese with your soup then warm the oven to 170°C (150°C fan). Remove any packaging from the camembert and place it in an oven proof dish. Cut a small hole in the top of the cheese to let steam escape then pop it in the oven on a middle shelf for about 10 minutes.

Loaded Hummus

This is one of my favourite dishes to make because it goes with so many other foods. I serve Loaded Hummus with roasted chicken, pan-fried cod or a head of roasted cauliflower. It’s perfect as a dip by itself or as part of a mezze platter. The expression ‘we eat with our eyes’ has scientific merit as food that looks beautiful stimulates our gastric anticipation which in turn improves digestion. Scattering over the various toppings for this Loaded Hummus is not only fun but it’s incredibly beautiful. The hummus and decoration in this blog post was done entirely by Evelynne which makes my heart happy.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
400g tin chickpeas
2 tbsps tahini
1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
30ml water
70ml olive oil
toppings: pistachios, pomegranate seeds, chives, smoked paprika, sesame seeds, pine nuts

  • Drain the chickpeas and tip into a food processor. Add the water, tahini, salt and the juice of the lemon. Add the lid and blitz on medium then gradually add the olive oil through the funnel. Blend until you have the consistency you want, the longer you blend the smoother it will be. If you need to loosen the consistency add more water. Taste to see if it needs more salt and/or lemon.
  • Shell and chop the pistachios, chop the chives and loosen the pomegranate seeds from the fruit (cut in half and whack hard on the bottom with a wooden spoon over a large bowl). Sprinkle and scatter over the pistachios, pine nuts. pomegranate seeds, chives, paprika and sesame seeds. Add a drizzle of extra olive oil to finish then serve.

Simple Burgers for Kids

Paul and I don’t eat burgers very often but when we do they’re loaded with everything going; cheese, bacon, lettuce, pickles, tomato, onion and sauces. The kids, however, like their burgers as basic as possible. Henry splashes out on some melted Red Leicester but that’s it. I make burgers for them once a week and have the whole process down to a fine art. They don’t need a lot of bread, as I serve the burgers with chips and that’s enough carbohydrate, so I make the buns out of white, sliced bread and a large scone cutter. Nothing goes to waste as I turn the leftover bread into breadcrumbs that I use for lots of other dishes.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Kids

100g 10% fat ground beef
10g breadcrumbs or simple crackers
1/2 a beaten egg or a little milk
salt and veg oil
4 slices of white bread
red leicester slices and ketchup

  • Once a month I buy 400g of 10% fat ground beef then cut it into quarters, wrap each quarter in greaseproof paper then foil and write ‘mince’ on the front’. I keep one package in the fridge for that week and freeze the other three to use one a week for a month.
  • I use a large scone cutter to make the burger buns out of white, sliced bread then I leave the cut out pieces to dry for 48 hours on the kitchen counter until they’re stale then I whiz them up in the food processor to make breadcrumbs.
  • Put the ground beef in a small mixing bowl then add the breadcrumbs, or you can use crushed up crackers, then add a little milk or half a whisked egg. Use your hands to mix the meat, liquid and crumbs together then divide into two equal pieces.
  • Heat some oil on a medium high heat in a frying pan. Form the burgers then cook for 2.5 minutes on one side (grind over a little salt) then turn and cook for 1.5 minutes (add the cheese slices if using, so that they melt). Turn the heat off, place a lid on the frying pan and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
  • Assemble your burgers and serve with chips, cucumber and pepper sticks.

Parsley and Lemon Pork Chops

A well cooked pork chop served with a bright salad and a chilled glass of white wine is my idea of a perfect Friday night supper. My 3 tips for cooking great pork chops are 1) a good rub 2) a very hot pan or grill 3) proper resting time. This parsley and lemon rub is simple and delicious. I use thick cut pork chops so that they can get a good colour on the outside without drying out inside.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
2 thick-cut pork chops
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp salt
1 lemon
1 tbsps olive oil and a generous knob of butter

  • Mix the garlic powder, parsley, onion salt and salt together in a bowl then grate over the zest of the lemon and mix together. Rub the pork chops all over with the mix and leave it to absorb the flavours, at room temperature, for about 10 minutes.
  • Put a large frying pan on a medium high heat then once it’s hot add the olive oil and butter. As soon as the butter is foaming add the pork chops to the pan (make sure there’s some space between them) and cook for 3 minutes then turn and cook for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, cover with a lid and leave to rest in the pan for 3 minutes. Move the chops to a resting board or plate and rest for another couple of minutes before squeezing over the lemon juice and serving with a yummy salad or salsa (like Avocado Salsa).

Beetroot, Orange and Bulgur Wheat Salad

Ever since I was little I have had a deep love of beetroot and this salad reminds me of the tiny cubed beetroot salad I ate in primary school. I think that salad was served with spam but I serve mine with grilled meats, fish or warmed cheese and fruit. Salads are an easy way to get whole grains into your diet and the bulgur wheat in this salad does all sorts of lovely things for your heart, digestion and blood sugar levels. It keeps very happily in the fridge for a few days so the leftovers are great for lunch.

You can buy pre-cooked beetroots but if you want to cook your own then steaming them gives a lovely result. If you don’t have a steamer get a large saucepan or Dutch oven (the pan needs a lid) then place a small colander upside down in the pan. Pour water into the pan until it reaches just below the top of the colander. Scrub the beetroots clean then trim off the root and all but 2cm of the stalk then place on top of the colander, place the lid on and cook on a medium high heat until you can easily piece the beetroot with a sharp knife. Leave the beetroots in the pan with the lid on to cool for 30 minutes then the skins will easily peel away leaving you with a tender, cooked beetroot.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids

250g cooked beetroot
55g dry bulgur wheat
1 large orange
40g chopped shallot
55g feta
30g pistachios (shell on weight)
small bunch of mint
15ml balsamic
30ml olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
coarse sea salt to finish

  • Put the bulgur wheat in a small saucepan that has a lid then cover with 120ml of water and grind over with salt. Bring the water to the boil then immediately turn the heat down to low, put the lid on and set a timer for 20 minutes. Once the bulgur wheat is cooked fluff the grains with a fork and leave until the salad is ready.
  • Peel and finely chop the shallot then put into a small jar along with the balsamic, olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Give the jar a shake then leave until the salad is ready.
  • Cut the beetroot into cubes, shell and chop the pistachios, segment and chop the orange then finely chop the mint and put into a mixing bowl along with the crumbled feta. Squeeze the juice out of the remaining orange membrane and pulp into the balsamic dressing jar and give it a good shake.
  • Add the bulgur wheat to the bowl then pour over the shallots and dressing then toss everything together. Finish with a generous grinding of coarse salt and some small mint leaves if you’re feeling fancy.

New Potatoes 2-Ways

As soon as new potatoes start cropping up in supermarkets I am compelled to buy bags of these firm, creamy delights. I cook twice as many as I need so that we have one meal with simply boiled or steamed new potatoes scattered with chopped parsley then I save the rest to pan fry in butter a couple of days later. Once the potatoes cool the texture changes a little and they’re perfect for pan frying.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
750g new potatoes
running salt and sea salt
parsley
butter

  • FIRST ROUND Put the potatoes whole in a large pan and cover with water and pour in a teaspoon of running salt then bring to a gentle boil for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender to push a sharp knife through. Drain then toss in 20g of butter and scatter with chopped, fresh parsley and a little sea salt.
  • SECOND ROUND Melt 30g of unsalted butter in a large pan on a medium high heat. Cut the cooked potatoes in half then place flesh side down in the butter. Do not move the potatoes until they are golden and crisped then turn over and brown the skins for another 3-5 minutes.

Hot Feta and Chilli Sandwiches

I first made this sandwich after seeing it on Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers and it instantly became one of our favourites. The heat of the chilli and the coolness of the feta with its warmed edges is amazing. You can serve the block of feta whole and spread spoonfuls onto warm bread or divide between warmed rolls. The colours are so bright against the white feta.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Spice
Certain spices contain chemical compounds that aid brain function and repair. The post-baby brain works extremely hard and spices help support the changes that happen.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults

1/2 head of garlic
1 red chilli
1 tbsp olive oil
150g feta
30g coriander
2 spring onions
1 lemon

  • Peel and finely chop the garlic. Chop the chilli (take the seeds out if you want less heat). Heat the olive oil in a medium hot pan then cook the garlic and chilli for about 4 minutes until they are fragrant and soft. Add the feta, either as a whole block or in slice and warm for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Roughly chop the coriander then add to the pan along with the chopped spring onion. Gently toss the chopped ingredients over the feta then squeeze over the juice of half a lemon.
  • Spoon the feta and chilli mixture into warmed rolls or serve in a dish to be eaten with a large sharing loaf.