Posts Tagged healthy

Seasons Eatings: Wild Rice and Cranberry salad

I have just taken part in Seasons Eatings, organised by the lovely Katie of Thyme for Cooking. Its a worldwide holiday gift exchange to spice up our holidays! The idea was that we sent a small gift of a herb, spice or food from where we live, with a recipe of how to use it to someone somewhere else in the world.  I received a wonderful, generous array of wild rice, dried cranberries, some wild rice seasoning and spud seasoning (see picture above) from Kate in Minnesota.  With the holiday season busy as it is I am only just getting around to my Seasons eatings post after Christmas. But that turned out to be a good thing as after the indulgent few days (weeks!) I’ve had I was craving something healthier and my new wild rice is perfect for healthy recipes!

I cooked the rice using the wild rice seasoning in the water. The seasoning contains salt, raspberry granules, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, orange peel and herbs. If you aren’t lucky enough to have this I’m sure you could use stock in your cooking water as an alternative. When looking for wild rice recipes I came across many salads, lots were creamy which didn’t appeal to me, I really just wanted the rice and cranberries to be the stars of this salad so I didn’t add to many other ingredients.  I ended up with a lovely simple salad that I thoroughly enjoyed, Id forgotten how much I like wild rice! Thanks Kate for the lovely package and Katie for organising!

Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad (2 servings)


  • 100 grams Wild rice
  • 1 litre cold water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp Lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp Flat parsley, chopped
  • 30 grams Dried Cranberries
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the rice in a medium saucepan and pour over cold water. At this point add some stock or salt as you wish to the water. Bring to a hard boil, reduce heat cover and simmer for 30 minutes. I stirred a couple of times during cooking.
  2. After 30 minutes turn off the heat and leave to stand with the lid still on for 20-30 minutes until the rice reaches the desired texture.
  3. Meanwhile make the dressing by adding the olive oil and lemon zest together and whisking well.
  4. Drain the rice and place in a dish, adding the chopped spring onion, olive oil and lemon zest dressing. Stir gently to coat
  5. Add the parsley and cranberries, stir gently and season with pepper to taste.

I enjoyed this salad at room temperature with a mix of green leaves.

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Tomato salad

After a two week holiday of over eating unhealthy types of food I am in need of cleaning up my diet.  All good things must come to an end!  One of my favourite summer dishes is tomato salad. So easy, tasty and healthy. It goes with everything.

I first experienced tomato salad many years ago on a holiday to Greece. We were served the most delicious tomatoes and bread with every meal. This was back when mass-produced tomatoes in the UK had lost all flavour, thankfully, if you look carefully tomatoes have improved since then.  I asked in one of the tavernas how they made the salad and was surprised to find only 4 ingredients, yep just tomatoes, local olive oil, salt and local oregano. This was also back in the day when you could bring litres of olive oil home in your hand luggage, which of course I did! If  I can get it I like to use olive oil from the Kalamata region of Greece, its peppery taste takes me back to Stoupa every time!

I recommend having tomatoes at room temperature, the fridge kills their flavour!  Any tomatoes will work, large or cherry just choose the ripest/reddest you can find, the cost doesn’t matter as long as they are good and ripe. If the basics range in the supermarket look redder than the organic, best of range then get the cheap ones! Even expensive tomatoes can be duds!

Tomato salad for 2 (easily doubled)


  • 300 gram (11 oz) room temperature tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Pinch dried oregano (Greek if you can get it)
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. Wash and chop the tomatoes into large chunks or is using cherry tomatoes chop in half, add to your bowl.
  2. Pour over the olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, oregano and pepper.
  4. Stir gently and leave for a minimum of 10 minutes to let the flavours infuse. The salt will also draw the tomato juice out which is delicious for dipping bread into.

Serve with bread as a simple lunch or alongside grilled chicken or fish for a healthy main meal.


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Pickled Beetroot

My Mother in law has half of an allotment plot and although very green fingered she does not eat vegetables (seriously!) She just loves the outdoors and the hard work, she is happiest weeding and pottering!  Without knowing anything about growing vegetables she plants, waters and hopes and is mostly incredibly successful. Lucky for me she passes most of what she grows on to me. While this is a blessing I truly enjoy, sometimes its a little overwhelming, as I said my Mother in law is very green fingered so most of what she grows is abundant and of huge proportions! One of the vegetables she grows very successfully is beetroot. Last year I simply roasted them, which was delicious but this year we are on our 3rd crop of beetroot, too many to roast so I tried pickled beets for the first time, they were a triumph! I thought I loved store-bought pickled beetroot until I tried these! They are sweet and spicy but not hot. The recipe was inspired by the Ball Blue book of Preserving. This made 4  jars (500 ml size)

Pickled Beetroot (Adapted from the Spicy Pickled Beets in Ball Blue Book of Preserving)


  • 4 pounds fresh beetroot, washed, larger ones cut in half
  • 2 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 small chillies (1/2 a chile pepper for each jar of beetroot)

1 lb = 450 g

1 cup = 250 ml

  1. Put beetroot in a large pan, cover with water and cook until tender (15-20 mins depending on beetroot size)
  2. Drain the beetroot and peel, I scrape the softened skin away with a teaspoon. (wearing rubber gloves to avoid stained fingers)
  3. Cut the beetroot to desired size if, like mine, they are rather large.
  4. Add the onions, sugar, vinegar, water, spices and salt to a pan and  bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  6. Add the beetroot to the liquid and cook until heated through.
  7. Put the hot beetroot into sterilised, hot jars.
  8. Using a ladle pour the liquid into the jars, leaving about a 1/4 inch space at the top of the jar.
  9. Add half a chili to each jar.
  10. Making sure there are no air bubbles in the jars, put lids on.
  11. Process for 30 minutes in a water bath or follow your usual canning procedure.

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January Rules

Like the little girl in the rhyme when I am good I am very, very good but when I’m bad…
Well I’ve been bad for a long time and its showing so I decided I need to start off this year with a healthier diet! Unfortunately I cant seem to do that without having some rules to follow, I would love to be the kind of person who lives by moderation but I’m all or nothing so when I found out that Andrew Wilder from Eating rules was organising January Rules, I was more than happy to join in!

The rules are:

1. Eat only 100% whole grains
2. Don’t eat high fructose corn syrup
3. Don’t eat hydrogenated oils, trans fats or anything deep fried.

There is also a “once a week go ahead and cheat” part that is , frankly, a relief! Not focusing on the only unhealthy part, I just think this “cheat” option makes socialising so much easier- I can’t be the only one who hates explaining that I am being “good”, “healthy” or whatever the choice of word to avoid the word diet is at the time! So with this option I can go ahead and enjoy the occasion without beating myself up afterwards.

Well that seems easy enough, I have avoided hydrogenated oils for a long time. I  rarely eat anything deep fried apart from crisps (potato chips) so this rule is a good opportunity to banish that unhealthy habit!

I admit to only recently learning about HFCS. I believed  it to be banned in the UK- that meant I didnt eat it, right? Wrong! Its called Glucose-Fructose syrup here and it is in food we eat here (its in Jaffa cakes and Bran flakes!).  It think for the most part though I do rarely eat food containing HFCS.

Its the the 1st rule, eating only 100% whole grains that I will struggle with.  I even find the definition of wholegrain a little difficult- is wholemeal wholegrain? It seems that it is – wholemeal flour is created by grinding whole grains. What about wholewheat? It seems wholemeal is the same as wholewheat. If Im wrong about any of this please do let me know.

Andrew’s 3 rules were just the kick start I needed to start off my healthy January. I am also doing all the usual things I guess so many of us are such as avoiding sugar,  keeping things low fat and trying to get back to the gym!

I think for lots of working people lunch is the hardest meal to keep healthy. So let me share 2 delicious, easy ideas.
The 1st is for a  healthy soup. Vegetarian Pho made by Winnie Abramson This soup really is easy to make, Ive made it twice already.  I feel so healthy eating it. I doubled the recipe and put it into pots to take to work.

The 2nd idea also takes advantage of seasonal vegetables- a super healthy brussels sprouts salad. I made it without the pecorino as Im not a fan.  I have taken the salad  to work in a container and put into a pitta bread for a delicious lunch.

I am not finding this healthy start to the year at all difficult (yet!) I have that feeling of virtuousness that comes from being healthier. I know, for me, this is often short lived but I am enjoying it while it lasts.


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