I love food and I love cooking, and I’m also very interested in nutrition. Unfortunately, I’m starting to realise that these interests aren’t always compatible, as the more you learn about eating well, the fussier you become about the nutritional value of your meals. These days, the recipes and cooking methods I regarded as ‘healthy’ in the past just don’t cut it, and the cookbooks on my shelf do very little to inspire me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a little indulgence here and there, but when it comes to the day-to-day I want to know that I’m giving my body everything it needs to thrive. That said, I’m not the kind of person who can live off kale and alfalfa sprouts, so what’s a girl to do? Well, I get lots of great ideas from the wonderful web (particularly Shira McDermott’s great blog, In Pursuit of More), but there’s nothing quite like having a beautiful cookbook to lay on your worktop and deface with splatters and sploshes of stock and sauces. It’s for this reason that I was excessively excited when I came across Dale Pinnock‘s new book, The Medicinal Chef. It’s packed with delicious but easy recipes, all of which are made with lovely, healthy ingredients. It’s gives you the lowdown on a whole host of easily obtainable, nutrient-giving foods that you can include in your daily meals, as well as a list of common conditions and how to treat/prevent/manage them through your diet. There’s a mix of light bites and heartier meals, edible cures and more glamorous fare, and even a few sweet treats thrown in for good measure. It’s already the most-used cookbook on my kitchen shelf, and I’m steadily working my way through all the recipes. Here are three of my favourites below… a little exclusive for JustALittleJoy readers. Enjoy!
FAMOUS FLU-FIGHTER SOUP
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5cm piece fresh root ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced, skins left on
1 punnet shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 handfuls goji berries
vegetable stock, to cover
salt and black pepper
Put the onion, chilli, garlic and ginger in a large saucepan with the olive oil. Cook over a medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens.
Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms to the pan along with the goji berries. Stir well, then add enough vegetable stock to cover all the ingredients. Simmer well for 10–15 minutes, until the potato is soft.
Season with salt and pepper. Carefully add the soup to a jug blender in batches, and blend into a smooth, vivid orange, spicy soup.
SESAME SOY SALMON WITH VEGETABLES AND COCONUT RICE
2 tablespoons low-salt soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 large salmon fillets
150g brown rice
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
olive oil, for cooking
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely sliced
1 small carrot, cut into thin strips
1/2 courgette, cut into thin strips
handful baby spinach
Mix together 1 tablespoon soy sauce with the sesame oil and honey, and stir well to create a marinade. Pour over the salmon and leave to marinate for at least an hour, or overnight.
Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with salted boiling water. Simmer over a medium heat until half cooked, about 10 minutes (check the instructions on the packet). Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer until soft and tender. You may need to add a little extra water. Add the desiccated coconut and stir well. Transfer to a warmed dish and set aside.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the salmon and its marinade and cook for 6–8 minutes, turning regularly.
Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a large pan or wok and add the garlic, onion, carrot and courgette. Stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, until soft. Add the spinach and remaining soy sauce, and cook for 1 minute. Once the salmon and vegetables are cooked, serve immediately with the coconut rice.
BLAST-OFF BREAKFAST BARS
MAKES 6–8 BARS
light olive oil, for greasing
2 tablespoons honey, plus extra for drizzling
4 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter
(a good-quality one, with no added salt or sugar)
280g porridge oats
3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon goji berries
2 tablespoons chopped dates
1 tablespoon chopped dried figs
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and lightly grease a 23cm baking tin.
Melt the honey, coconut oil and peanut butter together over a gentle heat in a pan. Remove from the heat, add the rest of the ingredients (reserving a few seeds and dates to sprinkle over the top), and stir well to form a sticky mixture.
Press the mixture firmly into the prepared tin.
Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and dates. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container. They will keep for up to a week. Serve with a little honey drizzled over, if you like.