Shrimp fried rice

Shrimp fried rice

My boys love shrimp and they love rice, so combined this is one of my go-to dinners in less than 30-minute meals that my family can’t get enough of. If you have any left over rice, the time cuts down to 15 minutes or less. My favorite cuisine has to be Asian because I just love the fresh spicy ingredients used to make healthy dishes. I’m classically trained in French cuisine, but gone are the days where I’d use lots of red meats, butter, cream and triple fat cheese. Now I prefer to use French cooking techniques and healthy ingredients.

You might be asking is stir fry healthy? This is my philosophy on food these days, if you purchase fresh food that has had little if any processing and you cook it at home then in my book it’s going to be a lot healthier than most store bought boxed processed (so called healthy) food. I try to use as many one ingredient foods as I can, so if you look at the ingredients list below you will see, long grain brown rice, shrimp, broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, onions, and garlic all classed as one ingredient, the remaining ingredients have had very little in the way of processing. By using 1 tablespoon of oil per person and a method called stir frying, the items cook fast retaining most of the nutrition within them, I’d say YES stir frying is quick and healthy!  So set the table, grab your ingredients and get cooking, because your family meal will be ready in minutes, with a healthy bonus of nutrition as a side – Enjoy

Shrimp fried rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups long-grain brown rice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil mixed 2 tablespoons sesame oil

16oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1lb broccoli roughly chopped

1 cup sugar snap peas roughly chopped

1 medium carrot, washed and chopped

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

¼ cup low in sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons chili sauce

How to make:

Take a medium size saucepan and add the rice along with 3 cups water, place on the stove and bring to a boil, cook for 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed, remove from the stove and place into a colander, pour over boiling water to remove any starch.

Next take a large wok or nonstick frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of mixed oil, place the wok on the stove over a medium to high heat, then add the shrimp and cook for 4 minutes, then transfer the cooked shrimp to a plate lined with paper towel.

Add the remaining oil, when hot add the broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrot, onion and garlic, and cook stirring frequently until tender about 5 to 6 minutes, then pour in the soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili sauce.

Add the rice and shrimp back to the wok and cook until the mixture is heated through, serve.

Homemade beans on toast

Homemade beans on toast

“Beanz Meanz Heinz” The phrase was created by advertising executive Maurice Drake and went on to become one of the best-known advertising slogans in the United Kingdom. Drake later said the slogan was “written over two pints of beer in “The Victoria” a pub in Mornington Crescent, England. I have to admit I was brought up on Heinz beans on toast as a kid-yes my mother was a fantastic cook and we always had a lovely home cooked meal each night after school. But the one essential was always there to fall back on was “a can of Heinz baked beans” in the pantry. If we were left to fend for ourselves over the weekend (while my mam sat for hours with her sewing machine making pillow case covers to make extra cash) my brother Michael and sister Julie would open a can each, warm the beans through in a pot on the stove, toast some white bread and savor a piping hot lunch of beans on toast.

Even in my early days a chef, it’s amazing how you would work all day in a kitchen preparing beautiful fresh food, but at the end of the shift you looked forward to opening a can of beans and eating them straight from the can or making a big breakfast (at 11pm at night) or even having them on toasted bread. For the past 20 years my focus has been more on nutrition and using fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and yes beans to improve not only my health but my family. Actually I can’t even remember the last time ate a can of Heinz baked beans, but when I get nostalgic, I still have beans on toast every now and again. Follow along this recipe and make your own version of this amazing food.

 Homemade beans on toast

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon maple syrup

2 cups mixed beans (black beans, chickpeas, butter beans or red kidney beans)

4 slices whole wheat bread

4 thin slices of Saint-André cheese

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

Sea salt

Black pepper

How to make:

Take a small saucepan and add the oil, place over a medium heat on the stove, then add the sliced onions, cook for 10 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, vinegar, maple syrup and simmer gently for 5 mins and season to taste. Add the beans and allow to-warm through, approx. 2 minutes.

Turn on the grill and toast the slices of bread, when toasted add even amounts of the beams and tomato sauce, and then dot the Saint-Andre cheese on top. Place back under the grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling.

Remove from the grill and sprinkle the oregano over just before serving with an extra pinch of black pepper.

 

Baked trout with vegetable noodles

Baked trout with vegetable noodles

The first things that hit you with this recipe are the amazing colors of the ingredients – fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, beans and trout. The aroma is also amazing when you open the oven door and inhale the smell of this beautiful family meal. An added plus is that its easy!!!! You basically throw everything into a sheet pan that has been lined with foil, fold over the edges to form a parcel and pop it into the oven, bake for 20 to 30 minutes and its done. This could be one of the meals where you prepare it the night before, get home from work, turn on the oven, pour yourself a glass of wine, place the tray of goodies in the oven, set the table and in under 30 minutes your dinner is ready.

Packed with nutrition this is a sure fire winner with everyone, it tastes just how it looks incredible, believe me you’ll be making this dish more than once, in fact in my house we generally have this dish once a month, we might change up and use cod, halibut, salmon or sometimes even shrimp, and it always turns out amazing. Enjoy!

Baked trout with vegetable noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon harissa

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 lemon, zest and juice of

1 cup orange juice

sea salt

2 cups spiralized carrots

2 cups spiralized zucchini

1 cup low in sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

4x 6oz trout fillets

Preheat oven to 385’F

How to make:

Take a medium size bowl, add the olive oil, harissa, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, zest and orange juice and whisk together.

Take four large pieces of foil, and place equal amounts of the noodles, chickpeas and chopped cilantro in the center of each piece of foil, season each piece of trout with salt and freshly ground black pepper, place one piece of trout on top of each pile of noodles.

Fold the sides of each piece of foil, to make an envelope, place the four parcels onto a deep sheet pan, carefully pour in the marinate, fold the foil to seal the opening of each parcel. Place the tray into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the fish and vegetables are cooked, remove from the oven and serve.

Acorn squash stuffed with wild mushrooms and goat cheese

Acorn squash stuffed with wild mushrooms and goat cheese

I  love this time of year with its bright sunny cold days and dark evenings! I love being outside breathing in that cool air, having rosy cheeks and puffing steam out your mouth each time you exhale, and wearing winter gear while taking the dog for a brisk walk at night. It’s always nice to get home, throw off that coat and warm up by the fire with a glass of wine, then turn on the oven and make a heartwarming family dinner with seasonal produce like acorn squash stuffed with wild mushrooms, spinach and sprinkled with goat cheese. The 1st of February bring it on!!!!

I’m serving my squash with an arugula salad, lightly seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. You could add some carrots, parsnips, turnips or swede to the sheet pan while you’re roasting your squash, making it an even more nutrition packed family dinner. I’m giving you quick easy nutritious family recipes for you to enjoy at home, just like my 3 boys do, but remember you can add your favorite foods to complement my recipes or change one or two of the ingredients in my recipes to suit your eating habits. Recipes are only blue prints-you have to like the food to stick to a good healthy eating plan! That way you can lose weight, feel better about yourself and realize that following a predominantly plant based diet can be tasty fun and easy to do. Enjoy your squash!!!!

Acorn squash stuffed with wild mushrooms and goat cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

3 cups wild mushrooms, roughly chopped

3 cups baby spinach

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

½ cup cheese, crumbled

4 cups arugula

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup goat’s Cheese

Preheat oven to 425’F

How to make:

Take a parchment lined sheet and place the squash cut side up, brush the flesh with 1 tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper. Turn each squash over so the cut side is now on the parchment paper then pop into the oven for 20 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, take a large frying pan and place on the stove over a medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil, followed by the shallots, garlic and mushrooms, cook stirring occasionally until tender about 5 to 6 minutes. Then stir in the spinach and oregano, cook until the spinach has wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Remove the squash from the oven, carefully turn each squash over, equally divide the mushroom mixture between each squash, sprinkle over the goat cheese, then return the squash back to the oven and cook for a further 10 to 12 minutes until the squash is fork tender and the goats cheese has browned.

To serve, take the arugula and toss lightly with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, serve the salad with the squash.

 

 

Shrimp, clams and beans

Shrimp, clams and beans

When you take fresh ingredients like clams, shrimp, red onions, garlic, tomatoes, oregano and basil you know your family is in for a treat at dinner time tonight. Add a little olive oil, some vegetable stock and cannellini beans and you have just created your own soul food/comfort food. On cold dark nights, it’s nice to use luxury ingredients like clams and large shrimp to warm you through to the bones with something that’s delicious, full of flavor and cooks in minutes. I don’t know why we don’t use special ingredients more, yes they can be a little more expensive but every now and then, they are worth every penny, just for that WOW factor when the family sees what they are eating tonight. So go on and treat yourself to a warming satisfying meal that sends love around the table and makes everyone happy before bed time. Enjoy!!!!

Shrimp, clams and beans

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 cups tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

1 cup low sodium vegetable stock

12 large clams

12 large shrimp, raw and peeled

1 can low sodium white cannellini beans

1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil

How to cook:

Take a large saucepan and place over a medium heat, add the oil, followed by the sliced red onions, cook for 3 to 4 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and tomatoes, pour in the stock and add the shrimp and clams. Place a lid on the pan and allow to simmer gently for 6 to 8 minutes or until all the clams have opened and the shrimp is fully cooked.

Remove the lid for the pan and stir in the beans and herbs, bring to a boil to warm through the beans. Taste and season if needed, then remove the pan from the heat. To serve, spoon equal amounts of clams, shrimp and beans into four warm bowls and serve.

Flatbread, eggs, herb yogurt and sambal

Flatbread, eggs, herb yogurt and sambal

Quick easy tasty and nutritious are my cooking mantra words these days. Trying to get as many families back in the kitchen as possible is the best way to communicate with your spouse and kids, and it can be fun. I try to make things as simple as possible with my 3 boys, so Jon fills and empties the dish washer, Matt gives me a rundown of what we have in the fridge and pantry and James sets the table, as for me I’m deciding what we are having that evening.

Then the fun starts! I make a few suggestions, the boys chose and we all join in making dinner. It’s not only a great way to find out what the boys have been doing at school or work, but it’s also a great teaching moment, as you can normally tire any tit bites of wisdom into a food story. Plus it’s a great way for the boys to learn a life skill – like cooking!!!! Really we don’t learn this anymore at school. As important as food is, we don’t know how to prepare, cook and in some cases eat the food that our bodies need each and every day.

So let’s get the family in the kitchen and start with one day a week. You don’t have to be like me and leave the planning of the meal until that night. You can plan ahead, decide what the family meal will be, decide who in the family is doing what part of the recipe or better still draw straws, make it fun and exciting. Then roll up your sleeves, wash your hands and enjoy a night of trial and error, no matter what happens it’s going to bring the family closer together making that dinner a memberiable experience at least once a week, who knows just like me it might end up being five to seven nights a week.

I’m telling you it can be crazy, but in a good crazy way, when my wife passed away 3 years ago, this one act of cooking together, kept us from falling apart and made our bond as a family that much stronger. Happy Cooking!!!!

Flatbread, eggs, herb yogurt and sambal

Serves 4

4 large eggs

½ cup Greek yogurt (full fat or low in fat – you choose)

2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

2 warm flatbreads

2 tablespoons sambal sauce

2 cups arugula

Sea salt (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

How to make:

Take a medium saucepan and fill 2/3rds with water, place on the stove and bring to a slow boil, carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. Then transfer the eggs into a bowl of iced water and let sit until cool enough to peel off the shell.

Take a small bowl and mix together the yogurt and herbs, then gentle add the eggs and mash everything together until you have a chunky egg mixture.

Spoon the egg mixture on to the 2 warm flatbreads, finish by drizzling over the sambal sauce and scatter over the arugula, season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, cut the flatbread into even size portions, serve.

 

Kumat Salad

Kumat Salad

Kamut (pronounced ka-moot) is a trademarked name given to khorasan wheat, thought to be the cousin of durum wheat as they both belong to the Triticum turgidum family. Kamut has a rich and buttery flavor, it’s easy for the body to digest, and very similar to bulgar wheat as it has more proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids than common wheat. It also has a clear advantage compared to modern wheat because it contains up to 40 percent more protein, is richer in zinc, magnesium and selenium as well as many polyphenols and fatty acids. You could say it’s a superfood, easy to cook and cheap and full of nutrition. To be honest I use kamut 2 to 3 times a week instead of brown rice or whole wheat pasta, I just love the mouth feel of this great product, so add some strawberries infused with balsamic and brown sugar, freshly chopped herbs and top with creamy goat cheese and crispy leeks. It’s a wonderful recipe my dear – and its healthy!!!!

Additional information – Kamut is an excellent crop for organic farming because it produces high-quality wheat without the need for artificial fertilizers or pesticides — this is because the crop has a high tolerance for diverse organic conditions, and similar to other cereals, it yields well.

Kumat salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups kamut

4 cups low in sodium vegetable stock

2 cups strawberries, hauled and cut into quarters

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, washed and cut into thin strips (optional)

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil

1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint

3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup goats cheese, crumbled

How to cook:

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat on the stove, add kamut and stock, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed and the kamut is tender. Remove the pan from the stove, and allow the kamut to cool.

Place the strawberries in a small bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with brown sugar, and allow to macerate for at least 15 minutes while the kamut cools.

Take a frying pan and place on a medium to high heat, pour in the oil, when hot cook the strips of leek in batches until crispy, remove and place on dish paper to absorb the oil.

To assemble, take a large salad bowl, spoon in the cold kamut, stir in the chopped herbs, oil, and cheese, scatter over the strawberries and top with the crispy leeks.

 

Flaked poached salmon with arugula salad and soft boiled eggs

Flaked poached salmon with arugula salad and soft boiled eggs

To help beat heart disease and improve brain function you need a good source of Omega-3’s in your diet. One of the absolute best sources of this important nutrient comes from wild salmon. Omega-3’s within salmon help combat against inflammation, improve blood circulation, help with memory loss and help to control blood sugar levels within the body. Salmon is an oily fish from the same family as trout, char and grayling or otherwise known as the Salmonidae family. Many species of salmon have been introduced to the lake Great Lakes of North America and the Patagonia region of South America. Salmon are anadromous which means they hatch in fresh water then migrate to the salt waters of the ocean, they then return normally to the exact same spot they were hatched to spawn (This is folklore, but actual studies tracking salmon have found this to be mainly true. A portion of a returning salmon run may stray and spawn in different freshwater systems.) The flesh of Salmon is generally orange to red, although white-fleshed wild salmon with white-black skin color occurs. The natural color of salmon results from carotenoid pigments, largely astaxanthin, but also canthaxanthin, the carotenoids pigments come from the salmon eating mainly krill as its main source of food, which is so important to the creation of Omega-3’s, as only wild salmon contain a healthy supply of Omega-3’s compared to farm-raised salmon that feed only on grain.

Flaked poached salmon with arugula salad and soft boiled eggs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4x 4oz wild Alaskan salmon fillets

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, cut into rounds

4 sprigs of thyme

8 sprigs of dill

4 star anise

4 shallots, roughly chopped

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup Pernod

½ cup low in-sodium fish stock

Arugula salad

Ingredients:

8 cups arugula

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 shallots or 1 small red onion, finely diced

1 lemon, juiced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 soft boiled eggs

How to make:

Season the salmon with the salt and pepper on both sides. Place the slices of lemon, thyme sprigs, dill sprigs, star anise and shallots in a pan along with the white wine, Pernod and fish stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes before adding the seasoned salmon

Poach the salmon for 3-4 minutes, then turn the fillets over and cook for 3-4 minutes longer.

For the salad, simply place the arugula in a bowl and add the extra virgin olive oil, shallots, lemon juice and seasoning, toss lightly to coat

To serve, put 2 cups of salad in each bowl, garnish with a soft boiled egg, remove the salmon from the pan and flake each portion up into small pieces and add to the salad and serve.

 

Shaved Radish, pomegranate, pistachio nuts and mint

Shaved Radish, pomegranate, pistachio nuts and mint

Serves 4

You can always find these little gems of goodness year round in your local food store, so why not make a simple yet delightful salad out of them. The common radish dates back to pre-Roman times, is part of the Brassicaceae family (The family contains 372 genera and 4060 accepted spices). With a beautiful red outer color and round ball like shape this edible root vegetable has only 16 calories to a ½ cup with a moderate amount of vitamin C (18% of your Daily Value) but is busting with flavor. The radish normally takes a side role in a dish, just like a garnish, but today let’s gives it center stage and show off its talents. Supporting actors in this dish are a little extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, chopped mint, 1 cup of pomegranate seeds and an appearance from our crispy pistachio nuts to finish the lineup. Easy to make, with few ingredients, little time to prepare and tastes fabulous, always my type of FOOD.

Go on give it a try – you know you want too!!!!

Ingredients:

½ cup pistachio nuts

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2 cups radishes, thinly sliced

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint

Pre-heat 350’F

How to make:

Place the pistachio nuts on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, tossing once to brown evenly (be careful not to burn) remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then lightly crush.

Whisk together the oil and lime juice and add the mint.

Take a large platter or salad bowl toss in the radishes, sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds, season with salt and pepper if needed, pour over the dressing and serve.

 

Zucchini, tomato, goat cheese & pesto tarts

Zucchini, tomato, goat cheese & pesto tarts

If you like your pastry crisp and fluffy then I say puff pastry is the way to go. Spread the base with a lemony thyme goat cheese, add some thinly sliced zucchini and tomatoes and you have an easy to make full of favor lunch or dinner special for the whole family.

This time of year store-bought frozen puff pastry is a lifesaver, I always keep a package or two stashed in the freezer since I can knock up this recipe or an easy apple tart in no time at all for visiting guests if they happen to arrive on the door step over the festive period. After 37 years in the culinary arts I think most of us would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between store-bought and homemade puff pastry. I don’t use many processed products as you know, so when I do, I read the labels and ingredient lists very carefully and like most things I’m looking for a short list of good quality ingredients. So for puff pastry I’m looking for real butter, because shortening or any other kind of fat will have a far inferior taste to those made with butter alone.

If you can, take the package of puff out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight, as store brought pastry needs to thaw completely before using. If your running late and need to use last minute take it out the freezer, remove from the box and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before very carefully working with it, you don’t it too warm because the dough would be too limp to shape and the butter would start melting between the layers. It needs to feel slightly chilled when shaping.

Before you bake there are two things to remember: preheat your oven and make sure the temperature is very hot before you place your puff pastry inside the oven. You want the heat to rise the pastry quickly and give it that crispy texture your mouth is looking for.

Chef’s tip: To make a tart with a light crisp outside crust, lightly score a border around the entire edge with a paring knife and then prick everything inside this border with a fork. The edges will puff up while the center stays down.

Zucchini, tomato, goat cheese & pesto tarts

Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ cup goats cheese

½ to 1 lemon, zest and juice of (depending on how lemony you like things to taste)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

2 small zucchinis cut into thin rounds

16 cherry tomatoes cut into thin rounds

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, cut into four even portions

Pesto:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup loose basil leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled

Preheat to 425’F

How to make:

In a bowl, mix together the goats cheese, lemon zest, juice and thyme, until smooth.

Place the pastry quarters on a sheet pan. Spread each portion with the cheese mixture, leaving a ¼ inch border. Layer the slices of zucchini and tomatoes on top, leaving the border uncovered.

Lightly season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then brush the edges with a little olive oil, place into the hot oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden in color and crisp.

Meanwhile, make the pesto by blending all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and dot each tart with pesto and a twist of black pepper, serve.