Friday, 20 May 2016

Spinach and Pineapple Smoothie

smoothie, spinach,  spinach smoothie, healthy breakfast, breakfast smoothies, pineapple, chia, chia seeds

Having tried (and fallen in love with) the Banana and Spinach Smoothie, I decided to experiment with different combinations of ingredients so that I could enjoy this drink as often as possible, but without getting bored with it. I still used spinach but I replaced coconut water with apple juice (preferably, you'd use a natural one without any sugar added). 
When it came to deciding about which fruit I was going to use, I chose a pineapple- an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese as well as a very good source of copper which, combined with some other nutrients, make pineapple a very healthy fruit. Its main health benefits include improved digestion, boosted immune system (less colds, infections, etc.) and antioxidant protection that helps against some types of cancer as well as improves the look of skin (reduces wrinkles, improves skin texture and fights damage caused by sun and pollution). I cannot imagine a tastier way of looking after my skin then having this wonderful smoothie!
P.S. If you would like to make this smoothie even more nutrient packed, add chia seeds.
INGREDIENTS (for 1 portion):
50g spinach,
1500ml apple juice,
150g pineapple,
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional).

METHOD:
  1. Place all the ingredients except for the chia in a blender and process till smooth.
  2. Stir in the chia seeds, if using.
smoothie, spinach,  spinach smoothie, healthy breakfast, breakfast smoothies, pineapple, chia, chia seeds

smoothie, spinach,  spinach smoothie, healthy breakfast, breakfast smoothies, pineapple, chia, chia seeds




Friday, 13 May 2016

Fish Pie with Prawns


pie, fish pie, prawns, shrimps, potato, puree, fish, recipe, recipes

I am surprised that this Fish Pie recipe hasn’t turned up earlier on my blog. My whole family loves it and I have been making it for years as it is so delicious. It is a bit of a cheat’s pie since it uses garlic and herbs cream cheese as a base of the sauce so the flavor of the pie is sorted right from the start.

This pie can be prepared a day earlier and just baked when needed. That is why it works really well when you know you will not have time to prepare dinner the next day but you still want to serve something really tasty really quickly. So as soon as you are in your kitchen after being away from home, you can put this dish to the cold oven, put the temperature up and bake it for 40 minutes. In the meantime, you can cook some vegetables to serve it with, lay the table and get everybody gathered at the table for a delicious meal. Really convenient when you are short of time.

INGREDIENTS (for 4 portions):

800g potatoes, peeled and cut into equal sized pieces,
50g butter,
200ml milk (plus 3-5 tbsp optionally, if the potato puree is too dry),
2 tsp cornflour,
150g garlic and herbs cream cheese,
400g white fish, cut into bite size portions,
200g prawns (cooked or raw), shelled and cleaned,
salt and pepper.

METHOD:
  1. Cook the potatoes in salted water till they are soft.
  2. Preheat a fan oven to 160 Celsius degrees.
  3. When the potatoes are cooked, add butter and mash them well, check the seasoning.
  4. Pour the milk in a frying pan, add the cream cheese and gently melt it on a medium heat.
  5. Add the fish, raw prawns, salt and pepper, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. If you are using cooked prawns.
  6. Transfer the fish to an ovenproof dish and cover everything with the mashed potatoes; decorate, if you wish and put to the hot oven for approx. 30 minutes until the top is nice and golden. If you prepared the pie in advance and kept it in the fridge, put it to the cold oven and then turn the oven on. You will need an extra 10-15 minutes.
pie, fish pie, prawns, shrimps, potato, puree, fish, recipe, recipes


pie, fish pie, prawns, shrimps, potato, puree, fish, recipe, recipes



Saturday, 7 May 2016

Gingerbread Spiced Apple Cake


gingerbread, gingerbread spice, gingerbread spices, apple, apple cake, recipe, recipes

Although gingerbread spice is more associated with winter, this cake is great for any season of the year. Firstly, it uses ingredients that are cupboard staples. Secondly, it is very easy to prepare. Thirdly, although it has to be in the oven for approximately 1 hour, that’s actually good news as it only means that your home will smell wonderful for even longer. And lastly and maybe most importantly, it is delicious!

The gingerbread spice works really well with apples that additionally make the cake moist without being doughy. And the demerara sugar and honey, that are mixed and spread on top of the hot cake, create a very tasty, slightly crunchy topping. The only problem with this cake is that after you have one piece, you immediately want to have another one.

INGREDIENTS:

180g softened butter,
200g dark muscovado sugar,
3 eggs,
300b plain flour,
3 tsp baking powder,
 2 tsp gingerbread spice mix,
1 tsp cinnamon,
300g apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2-3 cm pieces,
3 tbsp clear honey,
3 tbsp Demeraar sugar.

METHOD:
  1. Preheat an oven to 140 C (fan oven) and prepare a loose bottom round 23cm cake tin: line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the side.
  2. In a food processor beat the butter and sugar for 2 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the eggs, beat for 1 minute longer.
  4. Add the flour mixed with the baking powder and spices, and process till combined.
  5. Add the apples, stir well and transfer to the prepared tin, smooth the top.
  6. Bake in the hot oven for 60-70 minutes.
  7. Let it rest for 5 minutes, Mix the honey and the demerara sugar and spread on top of the hot cake.
gingerbread, gingerbread spice, gingerbread spices, apple, apple cake, recipe, recipes



Friday, 29 April 2016

Chinese Cabbage Salad [vegetarian]



Chinese salad, Chinese cabbage, salad, vegetarian, recipe, recipes, healthy

A few weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner. I was planning to make a Peking duck for the main course, and I knew what dessert I was going to make, but somehow I was stuck with a starter. I wanted to make a light salad without any meat or seafood, as having duck for main was already very meat-y. And this was when I realized that I had probably never made a Chinese salad fulfilling these requirements. I looked through some books and finally, I found a recipe that seemed just right.

In the book, a regular cabbage was used, so it had to be blanched after it was shredded. I decided to use a raw Chinese cabbage instead. The salad was very refreshing and light, just as I wanted it to be. And it was indeed a perfect starter for Peking duck!

INGREDIENTS (for 4-6 portions):

2 tbsp vegetable oil,
5 shallots, halved and thinly sliced,
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced,
0.5 chilli, thinly chopped,
1 Chinese cabbage (weighing approx. 0.5 kg), shredded,
2 tbsp coarsely chopped roasted peanuts,

Dressing:
2 tbsp fish sauce,
grated rind of 1 lime,
2 tbsp lime juice,
120ml coconut milk.

METHOD:

  1. On a medium size frying pan warm up the oil, add the shallots, garlic and chili, and stir fry on a medium heat for 12-15 minutes until the shallots are brown (but not burnt).
  2. In a bowl, mix the dressing ingredients.
  3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and stir very well.
  4. Transfer the cabbage onto a big serving dish, and sprinkle the top with the fried mixture and the peanuts.
  5. Voila!

Chinese salad, Chinese cabbage, salad, vegetarian, recipe, recipes, healthy

This recipe is based on a recipe from "The Complete Wok and Stir-Fry Cookbook"

Friday, 22 April 2016

Vegetable Salad [vegetarian]



salad, carrots, carrot, parsnip, parsnip, celeriac, apple, apples, mayonnaise, stock, vegetable stock, vegetarian, recipe, recipes, healthy


Although I realize that outside my country, this salad is often called 'Russian Salad', here we all know it as 'Vegetable Salad'. It was the most popular salad in Poland for many, many years. No party, celebration or social gathering happened without this dish. Even preparing this salad was a bit of a social occasion, as it was always made in big quantities and very often, at least 2 people were cutting the vegetables and chatting while they were doing it. I remember from my childhood that the women from my family were always cutting the vegetables very thinly because we believed that if the cubes were too big, the salad would not taste as good as it should ;) Nowadays, I actually prefer the salad not to be made of such tiny pieces. It still tastes great, but the preparation doesn’t take as long as it used to in the past.

What I also like about this salad is that you end up with a great by-product – good quality vegetable stock that can be used as a base for many different soups. Obviously, it also works the other way around: you cook the stock that you need and then you use the vegetables to make the salad. Whichever way you are going to do it; you will enjoy the two results!

INGREDIENTS (for 4-6 portion):

4 carrots, peeled,
2 parsnips, peeled,
0.25 celery (approx. 200g), peeled and cut into 2 pieces,
1 small leek*,
1 celery stalk*,
2 apples,
3-4 sour gherkins,
1 tin green peas,
3 tbsp mayonnaise,
salt and pepper.

METHOD:

  1. Put the carrots, parsnips, celery, leek* and celery stalk* to a big pan, pour 1-1.5l of water, add salt and pepper and bring to boil.
  2. Lower the heat and cook the vegetables until they are tender (approx. 20 minutes).
  3. Take the vegetables out from the stock, cool them down.
  4. In the meantime, cut the apples and sour gherkins into 0.5-1 cm cubes. After you chop the gherkins, make sure to squeeze out the liquid.
  5. When the cooked vegetables are cool, cut the carrots, parsnips and the celery into the 0.5 -1cm cubes (the celery stalk and leek can be discarded).
  6. Put all the chopped vegetables, apples and gherkins to a bowl, add the mayonnaise, seasoning and stir well.
* optional, required only if you are making the stock as well.

salad, carrots, carrot, parsnip, parsnip, celeriac, apple, apples, mayonnaise, stock, vegetable stock, vegetarian, recipe, recipes, healthy

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Banana Blondie with Chocolate [gluten free / vegan*]


blondie, blondies, banana blondie, banana blondies, vegan cake, chocolate, vegan blondie, banana, vegan, cake

My adventure with cooking really started with baking in my early teens. That is why it is difficult for me to imagine never eating cakes. However - since I know that cakes are better for your taste buds than your waistline - I try to test out healthier options where plain white flour is replaced by wholemeal or by almond flour. If possible, I also swap butter for healthy oil (e.g. rapeseed, though it doesn’t always work due to its strong smell), and I always try to use less sugar.

So I was extremely happy when I came across a recipe for blondies that neither requires butter nor flour. To make it vegan, I made some additional changes and at the end the cake turned out great: moist and fudgy. 

I know you may be skeptical about cakes without eggs, flour or butter. And I agree that they taste differently. But differently doesn't always mean bad. So even if you are one of the people thinking that vegan cakes are not really for you as they are “too healthy”, I think you will be nicely surprised.

* The cake is 100% vegan if you use vegan chocolate.

INGREDIENTS (for 16 small pieces):

2 bananas,
120g rolled oats,
1tsp baking powder,
40g demerara sugar,
60ml maple syrup,
150g smooth peanut butter,
1 tsp vanilla extract,
100g coconut cream (the thick part of the coconut milk that collects on top of a tin),
40g chopped chocolate (if the cake has to be 100% vegan, use vegan chocolate).

METHOD:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C for fan ovens) and line a 14x24cm (or similar small) baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Put all the ingredients except for the chocolate to a food processor and process till smooth.
  3. Add the majority of the chocolate pieces to the batter and stir.
  4. Pour it into the prepared tin, smooth the top and sprinkle with the rest of chocolate.
  5. Put the tin to the hot oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!
blondie, blondies, banana blondie, banana blondies, vegan cake, chocolate, vegan blondie, banana, vegan, cake


This cake was inspired by Cafe Delites recipe.


Friday, 1 April 2016

Spinach, Ginger and Banana Smoothie


smoothie, spinach, banana, ginger, spinach smoothie, banana smoothie, healthy breakfast, breakfast smoothies

I must admit that only recently I started making smoothies but I am already asking myself why I have waited so long?! Smoothies are a great way to very quickly have a delicious and packed with nutrients drink or – I would even say – light meal:
very quickly – because it takes literally a few minutes to put all the ingredients to a blender and process them till they are smooth,
delicious – because there can be so many different combinations of ingredients that surely everybody will find something to their liking,
packed with nutrients – because smoothies are made of fresh vegetables and fruit that are full of everything that is good for us, and finally
light meal – they are pretty filling so you can easily have it for healthy breakfast or even replace another meal with it, especially if you had (or plan to have) a heavier lunch or dinner.

The below combination of ingredients works beautifully and I am pretty sure that even somebody who is not keen on spinach will enjoy this healthy smoothie.

INGREDIENTS (for 1 portion):

50g spinach,
1 banana,
200ml coconut water,
juice from 0.5 lemon,
0.5 tsp grated ginger.

METHOD:
  1. Put all the ingredients to a blender and process on high for 1-2 minutes until you have a smooth drink.
smoothie, spinach, banana, ginger, spinach smoothie, banana smoothie, healthy breakfast, breakfast smoothies



Thursday, 24 March 2016

Chocolate Cupcakes [gluten free]


cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, gluten free cupcakes, chocolate gluten free cupcakes, gluten free

A few weeks ago I bought some new silicone cupcake forms. They are really cute as they look like forms for tiny Bundt cakes or Polish babka: fluted and ring shaped, perfect for Easter. I couldn’t wait to use them to see how the tiny babkas would look like.

Therefore, when I came across an interesting gluten free recipe* for cupcakes, I decided to give it a go. The recipe requires quite a lot of eggs and that is why even though there is no baking agent added, the cupcakes rose beautifully. They did fall afterwards but only a tiny bit. After they were baked, we couldn’t resist and tried them while they were still hot. And together with my husband we quickly agreed they needed something to be served with, like e.g. custard, as they were very delicate in texture. But when we ate them a day later, they had a completely different texture: moist and much heavier, and in truth, I preferred them that way.

P.S. There is not a lot of sugar used in this recipe. Therefore, if you prefer your bakes to be sweet, you may want to use some melted milk chocolate as icing on your baked cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS (for 12 pieces):

100g dark chocolate,
100g soft butter,
120 g sugar,
6 eggs, yolks and whites separated,
100g ground almonds,
butter and sugar for the cupcake forms,
icing sugar for dusting.

METHOD:
  1. Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water, set aside to cool down.
  2. If you are using silicone cupcake forms, you don’t have to prepare them special way, otherwise grease them and sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Preheat and oven to 180C (160C for fan ovens).
  4. Beat the butter with approx. half of the sugar for a few minutes until the mixture gets fluffy; one by one add the egg yolks and then the cool chocolate, beat till everything is combined.
  5. Whisk the egg whites till stiff, add the rest of the sugar and whisk for 2 minutes longer.
  6. Add the third of the whisked egg whites and third of the ground almonds to the bowl with chocolate mixture, gently stir with a spatula. Repeat the process twice till you have used the egg whites and almonds.
  7. Divide the batter between 12 cupcake forms and put to the hot oven for 25-30 minutes until a wooden stick inserted to a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Dust with icing sugar, or - if you prefer them to be sweeter – pour melted chocolate on top.
cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, gluten free cupcakes, chocolate gluten free cupcakes, gluten free

* The recipe comes from a Polish cookbook "Ciasteczka - wyszukane smakołyki z całego świata"

Friday, 18 March 2016

Smoked Salmon and Tomato Salad


salad, winter salad, tomatoes, smoked salmon, smoked salmon salad, tomato salad, healthy salad

Although when I want to have something light to eat in winter months, I usually choose soups, I do fancy salads from time to time. The below recipe is, in my opinion, a great option for a winter salad: it is light but - thanks to the smoked salmon - substantial enough to keep you going and not feeling hungry for a few hours. The tomatoes, capers and lemony, slightly spicy dressing balance out the oily fish so you end up with a pretty refreshing and very delicious salad that can be made in a few minutes and is impressive enough to be served to your guests too.


Smoked Salmon and Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • 50g rocket,
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters, if bigger,
  • 40g sundried tomatoes, cut into strips,
  • 150g hot-smoked salmon, flaked,
  • 1 tbsp capers,
  • 2 tbsp radish sprouts,
  • salt and pepper,
  • 1 tbsp olive oil,
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice,
  • 2 tsp sweet chilli sauce.
Serves 2.

Instructions

  1. Arrange on two plates the first six ingredients.
  2. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and sweet chilli sauce in a small bowl till combined to make a dressing and pour over the salad, season.

salad, winter salad, tomatoes, smoked salmon, smoked salmon salad, tomato salad, healthy salad


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Chia Seeds and Strawberry Milkshake [vegan]


Strawberry milkshake is surely a classic in its group although probably everyone prepares it slightly differently: some add cream, some - ice cream; some use very ripe bananas, some - frozen bananas. For a very long time I prepared it as either a treat/snack or - sometimes - as an accompaniment to breakfast.

This time I wanted it to be a wholesome breakfast and that is why I added chia seeds to my more-or-less usual ingredients. Why was chia supposed to make the difference? You may remember from one of my previous posts that chia seeds are not only nutritious but also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Additionally, these seeds are weight-loss friendly because:
  • due to a pretty high (for a plant food) content of proteins - approx. 16%, they reduce appetite and
  • since chia can absorb up to 10-12 times its weight in water, it becomes gel-like, expanding in your stomach making you feel fuller so you want to eat less calories.
That way when you have this milkshake in the morning you can be sure that not only you have a delicious and nutritious start to your day but also you will not feel hungry for a few hours. And did I mention it takes only a few minutes to make it?




Chia Seeds and Strawberry Milkshake[vegan]

Ingredients

  • 200g fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 200ml rice milk (or any other type of milk)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
Takes , serves 2.

Instructions

  1. Process everything in a blender for 40-60 seconds.

milkshake, strawberry milkshake, strawberry, chia, chia seeds, healthy, recipe, recipes, milkshake