Spinach, Cherry Tomato & Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds

by Susan Smith in , , ,


Having initially accepted the challenge of featuring delicious, primarily vegetarian, Primal/Paleo recipes on Primal Plate’s blog, I now find myself obsessed with the idea of going one step further. Accordingly, it’s my intention to include many more vegan recipes that can be enjoyed as part of a Primal lifestyle. I’m excited at the prospect. With summer almost upon us, light and easy is the order of the day and it feels entirely appropriate for our meals not to be so dairy dependant. Vegan food eaten in this context, means moving away from Primal and more towards the Paleo diet, which excludes milk, butter, cheese, crème fraîche, cream, ice cream and yogurt.

I am too much of a hedonist to go the whole hog (strictly speaking, Paleo peeps don’t even drink red wine for heaven’s sake!), but I do want to consciously use dairy products less often. Sarah has coined a new phrase for what’s turning out to be a delicious voyage of discovery. She calls it ”Valeo”, which in my view perfectly sums up the logic of eating more healthily without exploiting animals. If there’s one thing that miffs me about the Primal/Paleo diet, it’s the emphasis on eating animal protein.  

Yesterday we enjoyed a valeo meal of soup and salad…a Roasted Beet Borscht with Horseradish Cream (recipe coming soon) and this amazingly tasty, healthful Spinach, Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salad. Vivid colours and packed with goodness, eating valeo is light years away from the high-carb pasta, rice, bread, potato and legumes that most vegetarians and vegans rely on. 

As I’m a complete novice entering the world of veganism, I’m sailing in relatively unchartered waters. Therefore, I make no apology for seeking out the best vegan recipes from other authors that obviously don’t contain meat, fish, eggs or dairy as well as all the Primal ‘no-no' foods such as grains, potatoes, legumes, processed soy and fats etc. It’s a tall order! Nevertheless, this Spinach, Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds, which I’ve borrowed from Annie Bell’s book Gorgeous Greens, immediately hit the culinary jackpot by ticking all the aforementioned boxes. Sod’s law that it’s been Primal Plate’s most popular posting on Instagram to date! 

Clearly this is not just a dish for Paleos or Vegans but also for meat-free Mondays, dairy free dieters and anyone that finds themselves somewhere in-between (me!). Full of punchy flavours, this hearty salad is a wake-up call for the senses that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.  

Spinach, Cherry Tomato & Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds (serves 4)

Ingredients - for the nuts

100g organic whole, blanched (skinned) almonds

1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp organic Tamari

1 tsp, organic fresh thyme leaves

¼-½ tsp organic chilli pepper 

 

Ingredients - for the salad

2 organic avocados

125g organic baby spinach leaves, or torn young spinach leaves

2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

a good squeeze of organic lemon juice

200g organic cherry tomatoes, halved

a small handful of organic fresh chives, finely chopped

sea salt (my favourite for serving at the table is fine Pu‘uwai Deep Ocean Hawaiian Sea Salt)

Instructions - for the nuts

Pre-heat the oven to 170℃ / 325℉ / Gas mark 3

Toss the almonds in a bowl with the olive oil and tamari, then toss in the thyme, scatter over the cayenne pepper and toss again.

Tip the nuts into a small roasting tin or baking tray and spread them out into a single layer. 

Toast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until deep golden and crisp. 

Transfer the nuts to a plate lined with a paper towel and leave to cool.

 

Instructions - for the salad

Remove the avocados from the stone by cutting in two halves and picking the stone out. 

Peel the skin off the avocado halves, then slice each half into four long segments (8 segments per avocado).

Toss the spinach in a large bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice, then carefully fold in the halved cherry tomatoes and chopped chives.

Pile the salad on to four individual plates and scatter over the spiced nuts.

Serve straight away, leaving each diner to season their own salad with sea salt. 

 

Notes

Impossible to resist, the spicy, piquant almonds make a superb stand-alone snack. I chose premium, organic, ready-skinned almonds from sunny Sicily for their larger size and superior creamy, sweet taste but any raw, organic, blanched almonds are fine.

Readers will notice that I always create Primal Plate recipes from organic ingredients. For your health and wellbeing, it’s extremely important you do likewise. Many nuts have a high oil content, which means that they easily absorb pesticides. It is always best to purchase organic. For more information read why you need to buy organic nuts and seeds.

 

Carbohydrate 15g Protein 8g - per serving


Bone Broth With Vegetables

by Susan Smith in ,


We don’t eat much meat because intrinsically we believe that animals belong in our hearts, not in our stomachs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t regularly buy meat. Almost exactly a year ago to the day, my cat Sushi was suffering from distressing symptoms that the vet diagnosed as the onset of renal failure. We thought her death was imminent. Rather than accept the vet’s unhappy prognosis, which meant subjecting Sushi to the ongoing stress of regular blood tests, injections and the daily oral administration of drugs for the rest of her life, I boldly decided that I would responsibly ‘manage’ her condition by fully taking care of her nutritional needs. It is no mean feat to hand prepare fresh, organic pet food from scratch, but that was what I committed to do and one year later (Sushi’s now 17), she’s completely free of symptoms and, as they say, “As happy as Larry.”

When people think the cost of organic food is too expensive and cooking is a bore, they need to also think about the future cost of healthcare for humans and animals once good health disappears - as it most surely will - when they choose to feed themselves and their pets chemically processed food made with heavily refined ingredients and artificial additives that essentially amounts to toxic crap. It’s this catastrophic dietary decision that makes so many people and animals sick and fat. Good for vets’ profits maybe, but not so good for a cash-strapped NHS when the lifestyle and dietary choices of an ageing population starts to catch up with them! Today I am out to prove a point. Even though my idea of pet food is freshly ground, organic, grass-fed beef, lamb and chicken made from meat cut off the bone by me, when you factor in a nutritious meal for four conjured-up out of the leftovers, 63 pence per portion for my pet food versus 45 pence for Lily’s Kitchen is, in my view, a monetary piffle. What’s 19 pence when I’ve saved £100’s on veterinary fees and my beloved cat’s quality of life?   

Bone Broth, or homemade stock as we used to call it, has been hailed as a trendy new superfood by the Paleo/Primal fraternity, but in fact our ancestors always used to have a pot of meaty bones continually brewing over the fire. Our modern day equivalent would be to throw some good quality bones (they must be organic) and vegetables into a slow-cooker in the morning, go to work and come home to a beautiful, clear, savoury broth. The longer bone broth is slow-cooked, the more nutritious and gelatinous the broth. Yet, for the forward thinking cook, this is healthy, fast food at it’s best because it requires nothing more than shoving a few ingredients into a pot and walking away. 

Renowned for healing the gut, fighting inflammation and strengthening bones and teeth, the numerous nutrients found in bone broth are easily absorbed and used by the body. However, today’s recipe is not just for the health conscious, it’s for foodies, cooks and those of us with darling pets to care for because from scraps and remnants, a few meaty bones, freshly filtered water and a handful of organic vegetables, Bone Broth With Vegetables is a fuss-free way to produce the most soothing, nourishing, warming ‘hug-in-a-bowl’ imaginable. 

Last week Sushi’s monthly meat order coincided with me working at a wedding fair with Mirror Imaging at the weekend and because Perfect Roast Chicken is one of the simplest of meals for my husband to prepare in our absence, I ordered an extra chicken for us too. Whilst it isn’t always about preferring to eat vegetarian, it is always about consciously eating less meat and fully appreciating it when we do. For me this this means not throwing out what most people think of as waste i.e. leftover raw bones, giblets and the Sunday roast chicken carcass. And, when it comes down to it, the more variety of bones, the better the broth. Simmered long and slow in freshly filtered water with a handful of vegetables, these simple ingredients are the makings of another meal. All that’s needed to elevate the delicious resulting broth into a visually appealing, light yet filling lunch or supper is some finely chopped vegetables, seasoning and a generous handful of fresh parsley.

Not so much a recipe, more ‘waste not, want not’ opportunism, bone broth can be made from the remains of Perfect Roast Chicken, including the roasted vegetables you cooked it with, plus a few raw, organic meat bones and/or half a dozen raw organic chicken wings, a stick or two of celery, a carrot and an onion. This super cheap, super satisfying ‘superfood’ is so good, you’ll probably be left wondering why you never thought of making it before.

Bone Broth With Vegetables (Serves 4)

Ingredients - to make the broth

The remains of a Perfect Roast Chicken including the vegetables/herbs you roasted it with

Raw, organic lamb/beef bones or 500g raw organic chicken wings

1 organic onion, unpeeled and chopped into quarters

1 large or 2 medium organic carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel) and cut into thick wedges

2 sticks organic celery, washed and chopped into large pieces

Fresh filtered water - enough to virtually cover the bones/chicken carcass  

 

Ingredients - for the vegetables (can be varied according to what’s fresh and in season)

30g organic butter or olive oil

I large or 2 medium organic leeks, tough green tops and roots removed, cut into fine dice

1 small organic sweet potato, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 organic carrots, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 medium sticks organic celery, washed, trimmed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

½ large organic courgette, washed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea) 

100g organic frozen peas, defrosted 

1-2 tbsp organic tamari

a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Ingredients - to serve

small bunch organic parsley, finely chopped

cold, roast chicken, cut or shredded into small pieces - optional

Instructions - to make the bone broth

Place all the ingredients into a very large saucepan (or you can use a slow-cooker, if you have one).

Add enough cold, freshly filtered water to virtually cover - push down any bits and pieces that are sticking out above the water line.

Set the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to boiling point. Keep your eye on it. As soon as the liquid starts to boil, turn the heat down to a very low setting and, using a metal tablespoon, skim off any scum that’s risen to the surface. 

Cover with the pan lid and allow the liquid to simmer very gently for at least 2 hours - although 4 hours would be better. N.B. It is very important that the liquid does not boil rapidly at any time because this will make the finished broth cloudy rather than clear.

After a couple of hours - longer if possible - the liquid will have turned into a clear, golden broth and will smell really inviting. Allow the contents of the pan to cool down a little before straining the hot broth through a metal sieve into a clean saucepan. Or, if you’re not planning to use it straightaway, a glass bowl. Leave to cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator, where it will turn into a savoury jelly.

 

Instructions - to cook the vegetables and finish the dish

In a large saucepan, melt the butter (or gently heat the olive oil) then add the diced vegetables and stir everything together well to lightly coat the vegetables in the oil.

Cut a circle of greaseproof paper to fit the pan and press this down directly on top of the vegetables. Put the pan lid on and cook gently over a medium-low heat for approximately 8 minutes or until the vegetables are just soft - they should retain their natural, vibrant colour.

Bring the bone broth back to boiling point, then season to taste with Tamari, sea salt and black pepper. 

Add the hot broth to the saucepan containing the vegetables and simmer over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. 

If using, add the diced chicken to the broth and allow to warm through for a further minute before ladling into individual pre-warmed serving bowls - making sure that the vegetables and chicken pieces are evenly distributed between each bowl. 

Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve. 

 

Notes

The broth will keep for up to 5 days covered in a refrigerator.

Before using jellied broth straight from the fridge, scrape off the top layer of fat from the surface.

You can freeze the cooled liquid broth in ice cube trays and then use the resulting frozen stock cubes individually to add depth of flavour to savoury sauces and gravies. 

 

Carbohydrate 21g Protein 5g - per serving


Caramelised Pineapple

by Susan Smith in


As much as I like the sweet-yet-tart, juicy freshness of a properly ripe pineapple, when I’m feeling down in the dumps this Caramelised Pineapple recipe lifts the spirit by transforming the pure and simple into something more like comforting confectionary with a flavour profile redolent of candy-floss. Yum! Very appealing, no matter what your age or state of mind.

Yes, I know that pineapples are full of natural sugar (fructose) and should be eaten in moderation but they’re also a good source of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, minerals and an enzyme called Bromelain, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer compound. 

In short, this wonderful, sticky, caramelised dessert is not only fast and simple to make, it’s really good for you too. For a zingy, nutritious taste of the tropics, I recommend you tuck in!

Caramelised Pineapple (V) (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 organic, fair-traded pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges

20g organic coconut oil (or organic unsalted grass-fed butter)

2-3 tbsp organic maple syrup

To Serve

A sprinkling of organic ground cinnamon

A sprinkling of Sukrin Icing sugar

Fresh mint leaves, torn

Organic creme fraîche - optional

Ingredients primal recipe.jpg

Instructions

Melt the coconut oil (or butter) with the maple syrup in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat.

When it is hot, add the pineapple wedges to the pan and with a pair of tongs, turn to coat all the pieces evenly with the syrup.

Continue to fry the pineapple for about 4-5 minutes on each side, frequently turning them over with in the pan until they’re caramelised to a deep golden brown. 

Stack the wedges onto a warm serving platter or individual plates and dust over with a little cinnamon and Sukrin icing. Decorate with torn mint leaves scattered over. 

Serve immediately with creme fraîche, if liked

 

Notes

Whole pineapples should be stored at room temperature, while cut pineapple should be stored in the refrigerator. 

 

Carbohydrate 35g Protein 1g - per serving


Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart

by Susan Smith in


I am never one to say “No” to an invitation to dinner and last week Sarah surprised me by inviting us over to her’s…twice! It just so happens that’s she’s become a dab hand at making today’s recipe for Taleggio, Broccoli and Leek Tart - although after years of perfecting the art, neither of us can remember where her original inspiration came from. As with all things Primal, there have been enough modifications to allow me to confidently call this deeply delicious, satisfying tart “Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart.” 

Firstly, being Primal, there are no grains allowed and secondly, she’s confidently upped the ante on the eggs and cheese to make this a really luxurious and filling family dinner - albeit it’s not unknown for us to eat the whole of this tart, which is supposed to feed six, between the three of us. 

As it turns out, it was much trickier to get the recipe out of Sarah’s head and into written form than it is for her to bake it! It took her a couple of hours to write the recipe down and me twice as long as that to decipher what she’d written before it could make an appearance on Primal Plate’s blog! Nevertheless, as you can see from the picture of my serving of tart, it is very worthy of its honorary place.

Taking on the ‘huff and puff’ of food blogging is very much akin to photographing the finished food on the plate. From time to time, this strong mother-daughter team, of which I am so proud, will attempt to walk a mile in each other’s shoes. Sometimes Sarah passes me her camera, but on this occasion she volunteered for a day in the life of a food blogger. This is what workplace equality is all about and as I write, epitomises the spirit of today’s ‘International Women’s Day’ (8 March 2017) but more than this, it is always a privilege to have Mirror Imaging Photography create such beautiful images to bring to life all of Primal Plate's recipes. 

This one is an absolute winner. It’s also much easier to make than a conventional tart because the nut-based pastry behaves itself so much better than a normal wheat flour pastry does. Sarah learned this lesson very early on in life from Mrs Bainbridge, her home economics teacher at secondary school, who thought that the way to get a crumbling flour pastry mix under control was to bash it around on the worktop until it surrendered itself up as a pliable piece of dough, which then cooked out to something resembling a brick. Did I miss my vocation? Is this why so many of Sarah’s generation have given up on cooking their own food? Over-handling or adding too much water to normal flour is the sure-fire way to achieve pastry disaster. This can’t happen with nut-based pastry. Provided that you add the diluted milk judiciously - just enough to bring the mixture together (see instructions below) - you cannot help but achieve a crispy, golden, melt-in-the-mouth almond pastry because, without gluten, it’s impossible to overwork. Perfect for the novice cook and, without any grains or gluten, it's much healthier for you too.

Sarah’s Taleggio, Broccoli & Leek Tart (serves 6)

Ingredients - for almond pastry

400g organic ground almonds

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder 

50g organic butter, melted + a little extra for greasing

4-6 tbsp diluted whole organic milk (to dilute the milk, mix 3 tbsp milk & 3 tbsp fresh filtered water together)

 

Instructions - to make the pastry case

Preheat oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5 

Grease a 25cm / 10inch round, fluted, non-stick, loose-bottomed pastry case with a little melted butter, then line the base with a round piece of non-stick baking parchment for good measure.

To make the almond pastry - sieve the baking powder into the ground almonds and mix together well. 

Stir the melted butter into the almond mixture, then add the diluted milk - one tablespoon at a time - and stir everything together with a fork. N.B. We’ve found that 4 tablespoons of diluted milk is usually enough to bind the mixture without the pastry becoming too wet.

When it starts to clump together, abandon the fork and use your hand to bring the mixture together into a firm but moist dough (the warmth of your hand will help to do this by releasing the oil in the nuts). Shape into a ball.

Lay out a large sheet of clingfilm onto a work surface (you may need two sheets overlapped), then place your smooth ball of pastry in the middle and flatten it out slightly.

Lay a second sheet of clingfilm over the top of the pastry (this will stop it from sticking to your rolling pin) and roll out evenly to about 3mm-5mm thickness. As you roll, turn regularly to achieve an even round shape that is approximately 2½cm/1” larger than the circumference of your tart tin (this allows for the sides of the tart). 

Carefully peel off the top layer of clingfilm, then loosely wrap the pastry around your rolling pin removing the bottom layer of clingfilm as you do. Then using the rolling pin to support the pastry, lift it in one piece directly into the tart tin. If it splits or breaks in transition (as it often does!), don’t worry, just patch it back together by pressing it firmly and evenly into the base and up the sides of the tin with your hands. You can add smaller pieces of pastry to fill any gaps and particularly to reinforce the top edge - just press any seams together with your fingers so there are no gaps and it’s as even as you can make it. N.B. Since almond nut flour is gluten-free it’s easier to handle than normal shortcrust pastry, because it doesn't get harder and tougher when you re-work it.

Once it’s settled in the tart tin in an even thickness, prick the base with the prongs of a fork, then lift the pastry tin into the air and, rotating the tin with one hand, use a sharp knife to trim any raggedy bits of pastry off the top edge to create a neat finish. Form any leftover pastry into a ball, cover in clingwrap and store in the fridge for up to a week. You can then re-roll and make into almond biscuits, which are perfect served with cheese after dinner, or as a base for pre-dinner smoked salmon canapés.

Bake the pastry case blind i.e. place a large piece of baking parchment on top of the pastry - it needs to be big enough to cover the entire pastry case - and weight down with ceramic baking beans (rice grains, dried peas or dried beans will do just as well) then bake in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 mins. 

After this first baking, remove the baking beans and parchment and cook for a further 5-6 minutes - you’re looking for an evenly baked, pale golden case without any wet pastry showing in the middle. N.B. Keep a careful eye on it to ensure that the top edge doesn’t get too brown - nut-based pastry can scorch easily and if it’s over-browned at this stage it will be too dark after it’s filled and re-baked. 

When cooked, remove from the oven and set aside. 

Ingredients - for filling

Head of organic broccoli (about 350g)

200g taleggio cheese

6 tbsp organic whole-fat milk

2 tsp English mustard powder

6 organic eggs

120ml organic double cream

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp organic butter, melted (or organic olive oil)

2 organic medium-sized leeks

1 tbsp organic fresh thyme leaves, chopped 

 

Instructions - to make filling

Reduce the oven temperature to 170℃ / 325℉ / Gas mark 3

Cut the broccoli into small florets. Steam for about 4-5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and put straight into ice cold water (or run under the cold tap) to stop the cooking process and to keep their colour.

Trim off the roots and coarse dark green tops of the leeks, then with a sharp knife slice them lengthways halfway through i.e. from top to root without actually cutting them in half. Wash under a running tap, fanning the layers out with your fingers to rinse away any grit or soil trapped between them. Drain thoroughly and then slice across into 1cm thick rings. 

Place the leeks and the olive oil into a large saucepan, give the leeks a quick stir to make sure that they’re evenly coated in the oil, then cover with a circle of greaseproof paper cut to fit the pan and the pan lid. Cook over a gentle heat for about 8-10 minutes until the leeks are soft and tender but not coloured. 

Remove the paper lid and stir in the broccoli and thyme then, whilst continually stirring, turn up the heat to cook off any excess liquid. You need to make sure the mixture is as dry as possible without browning the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the taleggio cheese by removing its wrapping and cutting off any of the rind as thinly as you can (it will have a mould-like bloom, which you don’t want in the tart). Slice into thin pieces, and set aside.

In a Pyrex jug or bowl, first whisk the mustard powder into a little of the milk until smooth, then add the rest of the milk, cream, eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture until the eggs are broken up and all the ingredients are well combined. Set aside.

 

Instructions - to assemble the tart

Lay a sheet of tin foil on a flat baking sheet, then place your pastry case, still in its tin, on the sheet. Scrunch the tinfoil up a little around the base of the tin because if your pastry has any gaps at all, this will prevent the filling running out all over your oven!

Evenly distribute the vegetables in the base of the pastry case. 

Give the egg custard mixture a quick stir (sometimes the mustard settles at the bottom) and carefully pour into the pastry case over the vegetables. Lay the slices of taleggio cheese evenly over the top. 

Bake immediately in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the custard is lightly set and the surface of the tart is nicely golden.

Remove from the oven and let the tart cool for 5-10 minutes. Then, using a small sharp knife, loosen around the top edge of the tart before releasing from its tin.

Slice and serve warm or cold. 

 

Notes

Sarah doubles up on the quantity of Primal Plate’s original almond pastry recipe to make sure there is plenty to roll out without scrimping; this means that there will be about a third left over for almond biscuits etc. The remaining raw dough can be stored in a refrigerator for up to a week. 

Taleggio cheese is made from non-vegetarian rennet, strict lacto-vegetarians could substitute a soft-melting cheese such as Duchy’s organic brie.

 

Carbohydrate 12g Protein 33g - per serving


Beef Stroganov

by Susan Smith in ,


Because I didn’t get around to grinding-up Sushi The Cat’s finest, organic steak in time for her to enjoy last week, I was forced to put Beef Stroganov on our Saturday night dinner menu so that it didn’t go to waste. It’s come to something when our puss-cat is apparently more of a fussy eater than her health conscious owners, but there you have it. According to Sushi, if anything is left in the refrigerator for more than 3 days before mincing and freezing it down for cat food, it’s not fit for her to eat. Her loss. 

However, I hadn’t just been lackadaisical in prepping Sushi’s meals. Every week there is a last minute panic for me to create something fabulous that will use up all the previous week’s Riverford organic fruit and vegetables so we have enough fridge space to store the current week’s delivery. Inevitably, I get so excited when I’m placing my regular Riverford order that I double-up on fruit and veggies still not eaten from the week before. On this occasion, I had mushrooms, onions, a pack of salad leaves, organic cream, lemon and cauliflower leftovers. I suppose it’s a testament to the lack of air miles and their just-picked freshness, but I always marvel at how Riverford’s produce stays ‘alive’ for so long - especially their bags of organic salad leaves. Truly, the salad you see in the photos had been sat in my fridge for over a week! Anyway, I had everything I needed to put together, what is for us, a rare treat.

It must be in the 1960’s that I last made Beef Stroganov. Back then it was the height of sophistication to order this dish in a posh restaurant and have it cooked at your table in an elaborate chafing dish by the maître d’ (headwaiter). As rich-tasting and as luxurious as this meal is, if you don’t even need to be in the kitchen to cook it, it’s clearly not that difficult to make!

Beef Stroganov is named after Count Pavel Stroganoff (1774–1817) or should that be Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov? I think it should, and named my recipe accordingly. The ridiculously wealthy, Europe-hopping, Russian Count Pavel Stroganov was born in Paris and later employed French chefs. For me, just one delicious mouthful of lightly sautéed, tender beef in its creamy, tangy sauce tells me that Beef Stroganov’s origins are clearly French. It was in fact gourmet Pavel’s renowned French chef who adapted a simple beef fricassee from a textbook recipe by adding Smetana (a type of soured cream from Eastern Europe), and then christened it Beef Stoganov after his Russian employer. Rich food for rich people! I like to think that Beef Stroganov was perhaps one of the first fusion foods to be invented.

Pure, simple and indulgent, don’t be tempted to make Beef Stroganov with anything other than prime, organic, grass-fed steak. Fillet steak is best, but the good news is that you need about a third less meat for this recipe than you do when cooking individual steaks, and the finished dish is so deeply satisfying that you won’t even notice that ‘less’ has remarkably transformed itself into ‘more’. Partnered up with cauliflower ‘rice’ and a fresh green salad drizzled over with the finest olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it’s a dish fit for Counts, Kings and all of us that are primally-orientated towards turning our bodies into fat-burning mode rather than sugar-burning.  

Enjoy with a decent bottle of organic no-added-sulphur red wine and you’ll soon see why this quick to make, full of flavour, ultimate comfort food earned itself the reputation of fancy-pants dining in restaurants in the 1960’s. Because it can be on the table in less than thirty minutes, I think it’s a classic that’s perfectly suited to make a comeback in our kitchens, with or without my kitty’s approval!

Beef Stroganov (Serves 4)

Ingredients

45g organic unsalted butter

3 organic onions, very thinly sliced

250g organic chestnut mushrooms, sliced

600g organic beef steak, cut into strips 

sea salt

organic black pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp organic whole grain or Dijon mustard

250ml organic full-fat creme fraîche, sour cream or fresh organic double cream soured with the juice of ½ an organic lemon

small handful of organic flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

Heat half the butter in a heavy frying pan and fry the onions slowly over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and golden brown. Lift out with a slice and keep warm.    

Add the mushrooms to the pan and quickly fry over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Keep warm with the onions.

Add the rest of the butter to the frying pan and turn the heat up to high. Very quickly stir-fry the steak for 1-2 minutes on each side until it is seared brown on both sides. N.B. Take care that the juices don’t run. To avoid this, fry the meat in two batches - overcrowding the pan will ‘steam’ the meat rather than fry it.

Return all the meat to the pan, season well, then add the mushrooms and onions. Shake everything together over a high heat, then pour in the soured cream and add the mustard, stirring it in well.   

When everything is bubbling, finally stir in the parsley and take off the heat. 

Serve with mounds of cauliflower ‘rice’ and a fresh green salad dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over.

 

Carbohydrate 6g Protein 25g - per serving


Feel Good Berry Smoothie

by Susan Smith in


Bio-tiful’s organic kefir is made from organic whole milk from my beloved Riverford Organic Farmers’ own dairy herd. Kefir is a two thousand year old, bio-live, smooth, tangy, cultured milk drink that’s long been revered in Russia and Eastern Europe for its health benefits because it’s full of beneficial bacteria a.k.a ‘friendly’ or ‘helpful’ bacteria (the good guys) that help displace the harmful bacteria (the bad guys) in your gut. 

For people who are less than vigilant about eating healthily, the bad guys have no problem invading your body via your bloodstream causing chronic inflammation and ultimately disease. The good guys in kefir (known as probiotics) help to protect the delicate cells lining the gut, to efficiently move food through the gut, to synthesise certain vitamins and to ferment indigestible foods. In short, they are essential for good digestive health, strengthening the immune system, improving nutrient uptake and the absorption of minerals.

In addition to organic kefir, I’ve used raw organic milk (you can use goat’s, cow’s, coconut or homemade nut milk), fresh organic blueberries and frozen organic mixed berries. I then supercharged my Feel Good Berry Smoothie with a powerful antioxidant powder to create the most delightfully cool and luscious, nutritious drink. 

The word kefir means ‘feel good’ in Turkish. Precisely so. I find this quick-to-make Feel Good Berry Smoothie the most cheerfully delicious, fruit-packed way to energise my day. 

Feel Good Berry Smoothie (makes 2 large glasses)

Ingredients

250ml Bio-tiful kefir (or natural coconut yogurt)

250ml organic raw whole milk (or other milk of choice e.g. coconut, almond, tiger nut cashew etc.)

150g organic mixed frozen berries (I used Duchy Organic Berry Mix)

125g fresh organic blueberries

2 small/medium organic bananas

2 tsp organic Berry Radical Antioxidant Powder or organic Amla Powder (Indian Gooseberry powder)

2-3 drops natural liquid steviaoptional

 

Instructions

Using a high-power blender, whizz all the ingredients together for about 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. 

Pour into two tall glasses and don’t wait to enjoy!

 

Carbohydrate 43g Protein 20g - per large glass serving


Nutty Parsnip Gratin

by Susan Smith in , ,


I am fully “living life on the veg” courtesy of Riverford Organics, and I could not be happier with my regular supply of the freshest, tastiest organic produce that they deliver every Friday straight to my door. An absolutely brilliant service!

Notwithstanding my new-found addiction to drinking a large glass of freshly pressed juice every day - which I’m convinced is far more life enhancing than the proverbial ‘apple a day’ that’s reputed to ‘keep the doctor away’ - I’m having a ball creating new recipes from a plethora of organic fruit and vegetables that you can never reliably find on supermarket shelves.

Because eating Primal is what my close family prefers, we never succumb to eating white potatoes or even compensate very often with other high-carb root vegetables. However, last week I couldn’t resist ordering some new season parsnips for inclusion in my weekly Riverford box of goodies. When they arrived, I thought I’d go all out and make a main meal of them.

Totally delicious, this creamy Nutty Parsnip Gratin has a gorgeous sweet spiciness about it that pairs beautifully with salty Parmesan cheese and crunchy roasted hazelnuts. In fact, I think I’ve succeeded in elevating the humble parsnip to giddying new heights with this dish! Let’s just say, when you dive in with your fork you might not even recognise that you’re eating parsnips - it’s just the most perfectly balanced, tasty, autumnal meal that ticks all those cold-weather comfort food cravings without a potato or grain in sight. How good is that? 

Nutty Parsnip Gratin (serves 3-4)

Ingredients

500g organic parsnips (trimmed and peeled weight of approximately 3 large parsnips)

2 large organic shallots

300ml organic whole milk 

125ml organic double cream

1 dsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (about 2 decent sprigs of rosemary)

1 tsp English mustard

¼ tsp organic nutmeg, freshly grated 

1 tsp Celtic sea salt

80g Parmesan cheese (I used Gran Moravia vegetarian Parmesan-style hard cheese), finely grated

50g organic roasted, blanched hazelnuts, chopped

40g organic ground almonds

15g organic unsalted butter

Freshly ground organic black pepper

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 6

Peel and finely slice the parsnips lengthways into 2-3mm thick strips using a mandolin. If the parsnips are large, first cut them in half across the middle, then cut the top half into quarters and using a vegetable peeler, trim away the fibrous core before slicing.

Peel the shallots and still using the mandolin, slice them very finely.

In a large, wide, lidded sauté pan heat the milk to scalding point (just below boiling) then add the parsnip and shallot slices, pressing them down into the milk (the vegetables won’t be completely covered at this stage).

Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 4 minutes until the parsnips are soft but not broken up. Tip: Gently stir the vegetables around after 2 minutes to ensure that everything cooks evenly. Take off the heat and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream, rosemary, mustard, nutmeg and salt, then stir in half the grated cheese. Pour the mixture over the parsnips and shallots and gently combine everything together. Tip into a gratin dish, press down with the back of a spoon and level off the top.

In a small bowl mix together the rest of the cheese, ground almonds, chopped hazelnuts and a good grating of freshly ground black pepper. Scatter evenly on top of the parsnip mixture.

Dot all over with small pieces of cold butter and bake the gratin for 30 minutes until lovely-bubbly, crisp and golden.

Eat and enjoy.

Notes

Nutty Parsnip Gratin tastes special enough to serve as a vegetarian main course with all the trimmings on Christmas Day. It’s also a brilliant make-ahead vegetable side dish for carnivores - I imagine that served alongside something meaty, it would be an absolute winner.

It doesn’t matter so much for this recipe because you’re boiling the milk anyway, but because it’s kinder to cows and much healthier for humans, I only ever buy whole milk that’s raw and organic from Gazegill Organics This is what they say:

Here at Emma’s Dairy we believe that cows should have the freedom to roam, grazing our pastures and producing raw organic milk that is naturally high in omega 3. Our cows produce a natural amount of milk and are not intensified in any way to produce more, thats why our milk is rich in butterfat and protein. We do not homogenise our milk but believe that in leaving a cream line you can enjoy simply put an un-tampered with natural product that is full of natures best, we also offer raw organic milk and pasteurised milk as well as cream and offer UK wide delivery, we hope you enjoy it.” 

 

Carbohydrate 31g Protein 15g - per serving


Perfect Roast Chicken

by Susan Smith in ,


Everyone’s favourite, it’s been said "A kitchen is not truly your own until you’ve roasted a chicken in it." Simple and delicious, the perfect roast chicken is aromatic, succulent and tasty with golden, crispy skin. 

Harking back to my childhood, white chicken meat was considered superior to red meat and would most often grace the table for special occasions. Worlds away from the pitiful, intensively reared chickens that now predominate most supermarket shelves, my remembrance is of free-range, pastured, happy hens that, when their time had come, were slaughtered out of sight of the rest of the flock. 

When I was very little, my parents shipped my sister and I off for a month long summer holiday to Gear Farm in Helston, Cornwall. It was here that I endured what at first felt like abandonment but turned out to be a most edifying exposure to farming life. It was rustic. There was no running hot water so we had a washbowl in our bedroom and once a week we bathed in a tin bath in the front sitting room. The only flush toilet was outside. At night if we needed to pee we used under-the-bed chamber pots. The only in-house entertainment was a piano, which is where the family and farmhands gathered in the evening for a sing-along. My all-time favourite was our rendition of a Doris Day song ‘Que Sera Sera’, which to a little girl full of imagination and uncertainty seemed to resonate. Come to think of it, the lyrics still hold good! 

It was a simple but good life. To be woken up very early in the morning to the whinnying of a majestic shire horse stood immediately below my bedroom window, helping to herd the cows from field to farm and back again for their twice-daily milking, hand-collecting fresh, warm eggs from straw filled nests in purpose-made wooden henhouses, walking through fields of ripening wheat, gathering pure white field mushrooms ankle-deep in morning dew, peacefully watching a sow suckling her piglets. And, on the dark side, taking care to avoid the padlocked shed that housed the farm’s very large and vocal bull, lying in bed listening to the sound of a chicken trying to escape having it’s neck wrung and the squeals of terrified pigs being forced onto the slaughter truck. After all these years, I have still not managed to come to terms with the variance between life and death. 

Accordingly, at Primal Plate the vast majority of our meals are vegetarian. However, we do still occasionally eat organic, grass-fed meat, which I also buy to make into healthy, raw pet food for my cat Sushi. An occasional treat for us, a Perfect Roast Chicken is probably what most people think of as the best meal in the world!

I’ve avoided all the ‘faff and fiddle' that many classic roast chicken recipes call for, so you don’t need to be a seasoned cook to bring a perfectly roasted chicken to the table in all it’s golden glory. In fact it’s so easy to cook, it almost beggars belief. However, please don’t be cheapskate when buying chicken. Honour the bird you’re about to eat - and yourself - by paying extra for free-range, pastured and preferably organic, then follow the instructions step-by-step for the best roast chicken you’ve ever tasted.

Finally, there’s nothing much more useful to have in your refrigerator than a cold roast chicken. I like to pile juicy bite-sized pieces of cold roast chicken mixed with lemony mayonnaise, crunchy celery, fresh tarragon and crisp lettuce leaves between slices of grain-free bread to make the most deliciously satisfying sandwiches to take on a picnic with a bottle of chilled champagne. Simply add English strawberries and cream for the ultimate celebration of summer.

Hot or cold, I guarantee that once you’ve learned how to roast a chicken to finger-licking perfection, it’ll be a friend for life!  

Perfect Roast Chicken (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 organic onion, halved

2 organic carrots, cut into chunks

1 free-range, organic chicken about 1.5 kg / 3lb 5oz

40g grass-fed butter, softened

Celtic sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, pricked all over with the point of a sharp knife & microwaved for 30 seconds

small bunch thyme - optional

 

Instructions

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30-45 minutes before you want to cook it to allow it to come to room temperature. 

Remove any plastic packaging and stand the chicken on a plate lined with paper-towel. Pat the chicken dry - inside and out - using more paper towels. N.B. Do not rinse under the tap, the chicken needs to be really dry for its skin to crisp up to a beautiful golden-brown.

Heat the oven to 190℃ (175℃ fan) 375℉ / Gas mark 5. Have a shelf ready in the middle of the oven without any shelves above it.

Scatter the vegetables over the base of a roasting dish that fits the chicken snugly (see photograph).

Season the underside of the chicken (its back) and inside the cavity with salt and pepper, then stuff the cavity with the lemon and thyme, if using. 

Sit the chicken on top of the vegetables and smother it all over with the butter. Then, liberally season it on the outside with a generous amount of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. 

Place in the oven and leave, undisturbed, for 1 hr 20 mins – this will give you a perfectly roasted, crispy-skinned chicken. 

To check, pierce the thigh with a skewer and the juices should run clear.

Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and carefully lift the chicken onto a dish or board to rest for at least 15-20 mins. As you lift the chicken, let any juices from the chicken pour out of the cavity into the roasting dish - you can use this to make delicious gravy, soups and sauces. 

 

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 70g - per serving

Cold roast chicken with tarragon mayonnaise and crispy lettuce between our  Grain-Free Bread

Cold roast chicken with tarragon mayonnaise and crispy lettuce between our Grain-Free Bread

Or serve warm roast chicken with a simple salad and our  Fast & Easy Vinaigrette  

Or serve warm roast chicken with a simple salad and our Fast & Easy Vinaigrette 


Almond Milk

by Susan Smith in ,


Almond milk and other milk alternatives are becoming increasingly popular as people turn their backs on dairy in search of a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. I personally enjoy cow’s milk and other dairy products but this is conditional upon the milk, butter and cheese being organic, grass-fed, full-fat, vegetarian (no animal rennet in my cheese please!) and preferably raw (unpasteurised).

Mass produced dairy products involve the use of antibiotics, bovine growth and milk producing hormones, feeding cows an unnatural diet of soy and other grains that have been grown with fertilisers and pesticides, and continuous milking, even throughout pregnancy. Treating dairy cows as mere ‘milking-machines’ rather than as intelligent animals, forces the animal to overproduce milk and robs mothers of their baby calves - the male calves (considered a waste product of the dairy industry) are shot, and the females are reared only to suffer the same fate as their mother. From a human health perspective, the cheap milk that’s produced is not only nutritionally inferior, it is also contaminated with the hormones, antibiotics and other toxic chemicals that have been forced upon these suffering animals throughout their short lives.

Unfortunately, most industrially-produced alternatives to dairy milk are not as healthful as you might imagine. Firstly, there is never a good reason to drink soy milk. But also shop-bought almond, rice and oat milks are frequently packed with chemicals - flavourings, thickeners, sugar or toxic sugar substitutes like aspartame. Organic coconut milk is a healthy drink but only reliably so if it’s free from BPA (a potential toxic found in the lining of canned goods containing coconut milk, soup, tomatoes etc.) and guar gum (that can cause digestive problems). As far as I’m concerned, if it’s a choice between factory-farming or industrially-processed dairy substitutes, they can all milk off! 

Fortunately, with just two ingredients, a decent blender and a nut milk bag it’s easy to make a healthier, better tasting ‘milk’ at home by simply blitzing nuts with water. 

Rich and creamy almond milk can be drunk straight, in tea or coffee, poured over Primal Plate’s Nut & Seed Granola or as a substitute for cow’s milk in recipes for soups, smoothies, shakes, sauces, ice creams etc. It is particularly good when made into our Cream of Cauliflower Soup

A delicious health-food option for everyone, I think nut milks are an absolute boon for vegans, anyone who is lactose intolerant and not least of all, cows! 

Almond Milk (makes 750ml)

Ingredients:

200g raw, organic, unblanched almonds, soaked overnight in cold water

600ml freshly filtered cold water (see note below)

 

Instructions:

The next day, drain the soaked almonds and rinse well under cold water. Drain again.

Tip the almonds into a blender and pour in 600ml of filtered cold water. Blitz for 3-4 minutes until completely homogenised and smooth.

Open up the nut milk bag and set it inside a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour the mixture from the blender directly into the bag. 

Tighten the tie at the top of the bag to hold everything inside, then using your hands firmly squeeze out all the liquid until you’re left with only dry almond pulp.

Transfer the milk into a lidded glass jar or bottle and chill. 

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Stir or shake well before using. 

 

Notes

The above recipe is for unsweetened almond milk. To sweeten, add 2 teaspoons maple syrup (or raw organic runny honey) and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 2 roughly chopped stoneless Medjool dates to the soaked almonds and water before blending. Alternatively, add organic liquid stevia to the finished milk to taste (approx 4-6 drops). 

You can make cashew nut, macadamia nut, hazelnut, tiger nut (see our recipe for Horchata) and coconut milk (with organic coconut chips instead of nuts) using the exact same method.

I strongly recommend freshly filtered water for making nut milks. I think this warrants the separate blog post entitled ‘Cool, Clear, Water’ to tell you why and how!

 

Carbohydrate 2g Protein 2g - per 100ml serving (unsweetened)



Cream of Cauliflower Soup

by Susan Smith in , , ,


Back in the 1960s, for one brief year, I attended catering college. During our daily student briefings, prior to lunch service in the college’s public restaurant, I learned culinary French. For example, today’s recipe for Cream of Cauliflower Soup would have appeared on the restaurant menu as Crème Dubarry. 

It’s funny how half a century later the words ‘Crème Dubarry’ kept haunting me when, due to an oversight, I’d defrosted too much milk. A glut of defrosted milk taking up too much fridge space is not a good thing, so I knew I needed to conjure up a ‘cream of something’ soup and do it quickly. A foray into my second fridge (I have one solely dedicated to storing fresh fruit and vegetables!) revealed an organic cauliflower and a couple of leeks left over from last week’s food shop. Clearly my subconscious was trying to tell me something, because at this point cream of cauliflower soup was a foregone conclusion! And, since I really like the story of how cauliflower soup came to be known as Crème Dubarry, so was today’s blog post.

Madame du Barry was a very beautiful, highly desirable courtesan - a high-class prostitute to the men of the French court - before officially becoming King Louis XV’s last mistress. Later she lost her head during the French Revolution and was guillotined in December 1793. Cauliflower was first introduced to the French court during Louis XV reign and having tasted it boiled in stock, flavoured with nutmeg and served with melted butter, the king liked it so much that he dedicated it to his mistress Mme. du Barry. It is said that if she was ever served anything other than cauliflower soup for a starter, she would send it away and demand that it be replaced. Subsequently, cauliflower soup became known as Crème Madame du Barry and, given its origins, it is a veritable ‘upper-class’ soup, to say the least! 

Silky smooth, milky-sweet, almost nutty flavoured, this elegant soup is destined to become another Primal Pronto classic. For a special occasion it can be garnished with sautéed wild mushrooms, pan-fried king prawns or a poached egg, but for a family meal it really is a lovely, luxurious soup that’s best kept simple with a drizzle of melted butter and a dusting of fresh nutmeg. Since it was this simple pairing of nutmeg and butter with cauliflower that so impressed King Louis XV and popularised it in France, I hope it will impress you too!

To make a meal of this soup you need something more that can hold its own against cauliflower’s potency and nuttiness. I thought Cheddar Muffins might do the trick, and they did. Spread with butter and still warm from the oven, Primal Plate’s cheesy, savoury muffins with their ‘crusty’ tops are a cross between a bread roll (they don’t fall to pieces when you spread cold butter on them) and a muffin. Just the thing if you’re on a low-carb diet and haven’t figured out how to satiate your appetite without a slab of bread with your soup. I’ll be posting the recipe soon!

Cream of Cauliflower Soup (Serves 6)

Ingredients

1 medium/large cauliflower, stalks discarded and florets broken into small pieces (about 450g prepared weight)

2-3 medium leeks, white part only, finely sliced (about 165g prepared weight)

20g butter

2 tbsp olive oil

600ml vegetable stock (made with freshly boiled filtered water and 2½ tsp organic Marigold Vegetable Bouillon powder)

500ml full-fat milk

1 bay leaf - optional

sea salt 

freshly ground white pepper

50g raw cashews

100ml double cream

a little melted butter, freshly grated nutmeg and single parsley leaves. to garnish

 

Instructions

Put the cauliflower florets and leeks into a large saucepan with the butter and the olive oil. 

Gently heat the contents of the pan, stirring the vegetables around in the melting butter and oil until they are evenly coated and they start to sizzle. 

Cover with a lid and sweat over a low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. At the end of this cooking time, the vegetables should be softened but not browned.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then pour in the milk and return gently to a boil. Turn down the heat, season to taste and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add the cashews. Leave to stand for a further 10 minutes - the hot soup will help soften the raw cashews.

Add the cream (if using) then blend everything together in a food processor or blender. 

Pass the puréed soup through a fine metal sieve into a clean pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

When you’re ready to serve the soup, gently re-heat to just below boiling point, stirring occasionally. 

Ladle the hot soup into individual warmed bowls, then spoon or drizzle a little melted butter on top, dust with grated nutmeg and add a parsley leaf to each bowl. 

 

Notes

If preparing ahead, cool, cover and chill for up to a day.

Primarily a vegetarian, I am in a constant state of flux trying to achieve a balance between fulfilling my nutritional needs (organic, raw milk and cheese is an excellent source of Omega-3, calcium and protein) and pacifying my sensibility towards animals (the cruelty involved in the dairy industry per se breaks my heart). Gentle souls and vegans rejoice! I made a second batch of Cream Of Cauliflower Soup using just almond milk instead of cow’s milk and cream. And, because the flavour profiles of cauliflower and almonds have a natural affinity, it turns out that the finished soup was equally as creamy and delicious as when it was made with full-fat dairy milk and cream! 

However, this does necessitate making your own almond milk before making the soup. I do not recommend shop-bought almond milk that’s been industrially-processed and loaded with stabilisers, emuslifiers, thickeners and sugar! Meanwhile, for all cow’s milk naysayers, the environmental ravages of siphoning off water in California for their almond crops isn’t boding well for the planet either! I don’t pretend to have all the answers!

If you do eat dairy and are not up for making your own nut milk, please seek out the best quality cow’s milk you can buy. By the best, I mean milk that’s good for you, has been ethically produced and is environmentally-sustainable. At Primal Plate we don’t consider purchasing cheap milk from abused cows an option. The cheap, mass-produced, heat-treated (pasteurised) stuff found on supermarkets shelves is not a nutritious health-giving food, furthermore animal welfare is ignored and the environmental cost is too high. 

I buy my milk online from Gazegill Organics’s happy cows because there is simply is no substitute for clean, full-fat, organic, grass-fed, raw milk. The more expensive price you have to pay for real milk is worth every penny. It contains all it’s vital nutrients, tastes more rich and creamy and behaves differently to the watery substance that passes for milk in supermarket chiller cabinets. For months Sarah complained that her chocolate banana milk shakes (made with organic pasteurised milk purchased from a supermarket) didn’t come out nearly as thick and creamy as my Raw Chocolate Banana Milkshake. When I finally realised what was going on, I substituted some of my supply of raw milk for her pasteurised milk and…Voila! No more thin milkshakes! Remember, pasteurisation not only destroys harmful germs but kills off useful bacteria and a high percentage of vital nutrients too. It also makes the calcium contained in raw milk insoluble, so there’s little point in feeding it to your kids to build strong bones!

Then there’s the horrific reality of mass milk production - one of the most exploitative and cruellest industries in Britain today. Sad cows, housed en masse in concrete confinement feeding centres, fed an unnatural diet of corn, soy and other grains that their bodies aren’t designed to eat. Overfed, over-milked and kept alive on a chemical cocktail of hormones and antibiotics, they are pushed to their limits 24/7. When these poor animals are finally worn-out - literally milked-dry of their profit potential by humans - they are dispatched to the abattoir, where their vastly shortened, miserable lives end violently. I have to ask myself, who in hell wants to drink this stuff?

Meanwhile, the oldest, luckiest, milk-producing cow on Gazegilll Organics farm, where she has access to 16 acres all year round and a diet that's kept as natural as possible, is twenty-one years old already! How fabulous is that?  As consumers, we have a choice. Please do yourself and farm animals a favour. Only support dairy farmers that produce organic, grass-fed milk from cows that are treated with this much love and respect. Thank you.  

Carbohydrate 13g Protein 6g - per serving


Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf with Port Wine Sauce

by Susan Smith in , ,


In just three weeks time we’ll all be sitting down to (or feeling replete from) one of the most planned-for meals of the year; Christmas Day. I love it!  I especially love it now I’m fully committed to eating vegetarian. 

Notwithstanding that I’m not getting the goodwill vibe of the ritualistic killing of 10 million factory-farmed UK turkeys immediately before Christmas, I’m actually somewhat bewildered by people’s obsession with eating a traditional turkey dinner. If you’re not an experienced cook (and all the feedback I get tells me they’re few and far between) roast turkey has to be be one of the trickiest, most labour intensive, time consuming meals to get right. Then there’s the expense of putting a decent, organic, free-range turkey on the Christmas table (albeit, in my opinion, nothing less will do).

Putting my money where my mouth is, four years ago I blew almost an entire week’s housekeeping (£120) on a medium-sized (6kg) organic Kelly Bronze turkey for our celebration meal. To meet my self-imposed lunchtime deadline of 1pm, I set my morning alarm call for 7:30am so I could switch the oven on at 8:00am. A pre-prepared bird that size (firstly you have to stuff it and lubricate it up-to-the-nines, inside and out, in butter) takes 4.5 hours to cook, including five essential clock-watching interruptions of rather more pleasant social interactions, such as opening presents and drinking Champagne, if you want to be certain of a ‘tah-dah’ moment and gasps of appreciation when you present your perfectly roasted and dressed bird at the table. In retrospect, all the effort required now seems a bit passé and Bah Humbug for my taste! 

This year I will not be found up to my elbows in turkey early on Christmas morning, nor will I be on tenterhooks waiting for the kitchen buzzer to repeatedly call me to my basting duties. Instead, I will have pre-prepared for our delectation a leisurely, spectacular-looking, vegetarian lunch full of the flavours of Christmas, without the fuss. 

The star of the show, a Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf, isn’t altogether my idea. The original recipe for Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf first appeared in Good Food Vegetarian Christmas magazine, December 2009 and, as you can see, I’ve borrowed its presentation (sort of!). However, being a Primal-phile, my version had to be grain-free (no breadcrumbs allowed), refined sugar-free (found lurking in their cranberry sauce) and, for my taste, much more umami-savoury. Without the addition of the mature Cheddar that I’ve added to my recipe, the original seemed boringly bland. I believe that this is why many people eschew eating vegetarian, especially on special occasions, because all too often what you end up with is second-rate stodge - pastry, pasta, potato or rice and other grain-based dishes - that in their mundanity simply don’t sing-out ‘celebrate’, or entice you to eat them, even if you could. Which, being staunchly Primal I can’t - though sometimes I could kill for a decent roast potato!

In reality, vegetarians do not need to be short-changed. Even followers of the Primal/Paleo diet, who don’t eat grains or potatoes and, for compassionate reasons are reluctant to eat meat, can feast just as well, if not better than, their carnivore counterparts. This is how Primal Plate’s Christmas lunch is shaping up (although the starter and dessert may still yet be subject to further flights of fancy!): A red, green and white starter of Red Pepper Rolls with Goats Cheese, which looks like Christmas on a plate. Then, today’s amazing recipe for Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf with Port Wine Sauce, accompanied by Braised Red Cabbage, Creamed Celeriac and Baby Brussel Sprouts. Followed by cinnamon-laced Horchata Ice Cream with Stuffed Baked Apples in Clementine Syrup. Maybe, a platter of cheese with seasonal fruit and finally, coffee and mince pies. 

All this fabulous food with absolutely no added sugar, no grains, no legumes, no potato, no meat and, if everything goes according to my ‘get-ahead’ menu plan, definitely nothing to drive me into a cook’s frenzy on Christmas morning. In fact, I intend to spend less than an hour doing hands-on cooking on the day itself, and even that will largely involve primping the food so it looks its best on the plate! 

This should help to make Christmas everything it promises to be - a happy, food-filled celebration that everyone, including the cook, can enjoy. Almost every component of this lavish, rainbow-coloured, festive vegetarian feast can be made oven-ready and/or stashed in the fridge/freezer and ready-to-go by Christmas Eve and, in most instances, well before. By my reckoning, that means the most exacting thing I’ll have to do on Christmas day is core and stuff the apples through a Champagne-induced haze of alcohol! As much as I love cooking, not spending almost the entire day in the kitchen sounds like the best-ever Christmas to me!

Parsnip, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf (Serves 8)

Ingredients

45g butter, plus a little extra for greasing

3 onions, finely chopped

15g pack sage, 8 leaves reserved, the rest finely chopped

180g pack cooked chestnuts

120g walnuts

100g ground almonds

1 tsp ground mace

100g good quality vegetarian Cheddar cheese, finely grated

2 eggs, beaten            

600g baby parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut in half lengthways (or choose standard parsnips - long, thin ones if you can - peeled then halved lengthways) 

1 tbsp honey

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

180g Low-Sugar Cranberry & Orange Relish

Fresh cranberries and flat leaf parsley - to decorate 

 

Instructions

Boil a kettle of water. Grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with some butter, line with a long strip of non-stick baking parchment to cover the bottom and the two ends of the tin.

Melt 15g butter in a non-stick pan, add the onions and gently cook with the lid on the pan for 10-15 mins over a medium low heat until very soft and just starting to turn golden. Stir in the chopped sage, cook for a further 1 minute, then tip into a large mixing bowl. 

Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until chopped into small bits, then tip these into the bowl with the onions and repeat with the walnuts. Now add the ground almonds, cheese, mace, beaten eggs, 1½ tsp salt and a generous amount of freshly grated pepper and mix everything together well.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom half of a steamer. Put the halved parsnips in the top of the steamer, put the lid on and steam for 3 minutes.

Tip the parsnips onto a clean dry tea towel and pat them dry. Line up the best looking halves of parsnip (you’ll need about 10 halves) and lay them widthways, cut side down, along the bottom of the loaf tin. You will need to alternate the parsnip halves ‘thick ends to thin’ and pack them tightly side-by-side, so they fit snugly in the base of the tin. N.B. If you’re using normal-sized parsnips, cut off lengths of parsnip from the thinner ends and fit across the base of your loaf tin in the same way. Keep going until you have enough parsnip halves to snugly line the base of the tin. 

Take the parsnip halves back out of the loaf tin and set aside. Chop all the leftover parsnip into small neat dice and mix into the nut mixture. 

Melt the remaining 15g of butter in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. When it starts to foam add the honey and the reserved parsnip halves laying them cut side down in the pan. Fry gently in the butter (on the cut side only) for about 5 minutes or until they are lightly browned - they should be just turning golden. Take off the heat and set aside to cool. 

Heat oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan) / 350℉ Gas mark 4

When the fried parsnip are cool enough to handle, fit them back into the loaf tin, as before (cut and browned side down). Top with ⅓ of the nut mixture – pack it down well and smooth the surface. 

Spread the cranberry and orange relish on top, leaving a small space around the edges. 

Top with the remaining nut mixture and pack down as before. Cover with tin foil. 

The loaf can be made up to 24 hrs ahead, then covered and chilled, before continuing. 

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour. Take the loaf out of the oven and remove the foil, then put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 15g butter in a small frying pan and sizzle the reserved sage leaves for 1 minute. 

Loosen around the sides of the loaf with a round-bladed knife if you need to, then turn the loaf out onto a warm serving platter. Peel off the parchment paper. 

Brush the top of the loaf with the hot sage butter then decorate with cranberries, fried sage leaves and sprigs of flat-leaf parsley.  

Serve in slices with extra Cranberry Orange Relish and Port Wine Sauce.

 

Carbohydrate 30g Protein 12g - per portion

Port Wine Sauce (Serves 6)

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

600ml (1 pint) soft, fruity red wine (I used McGuigan Estate Merlot)

1 dsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

2 tsp arrowroot powder 

3 tbsp port wine

1 dsp sugar-free redcurrant jelly

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g cold butter, cut into small pieces

 

Instructions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion, cover and fry over a low-medium heat for 10 minutes until it is tender but not browned. 

Stir in the bouillon powder and then pour in the wine, bring to the boil, and leave to simmer, without a lid, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has halved in volume i.e. reduced to 300ml (½ pint). Take off the heat and strain through a sieve into a small clean saucepan

Put the arrowroot into a small bowl and mix to a paste with the port. Add a tablespoon of the hot wine mixture, stir, then quickly pour the slaked arrowroot into the saucepan with the rest of the wine mixture and stir briefly until it has thickened slightly (just below boiling point). 

Stir in the redcurrant jelly. Taste, then add salt and pepper, if necessary

You can make the sauce up to this point in advance. Either freeze and defrost overnight the day before you need it, or keep in the fridge until you want to serve.

Just before you want to serve the sauce, re-heat in a small saucepan to just below boiling point, then quickly whisk-in the cubes of cold butter to make it glossy.

 

Carbohydrate 5g Protein 0g - per portion


Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread

by Susan Smith in ,


No grains, no dairy, no eggs, no yeast…no kidding! Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Seedy Rye Soda Bread in the River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook this super-speedy, seedy bread is my Paleo/Primal-friendly grain-free ‘take’ on Hugh’s original recipe. I’m loving the fact that you can knock it up in about 15 minutes then bake and eat it within the hour. 

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall just happens to be my man of the moment in more ways than one. Pioneering war on waste and taking to task the supermarket's ridiculous stance on wonky veg, he is also a brilliant, down-to-earth, imaginative chef that seriously cares about the environment and sustainability. I salute you sir!

For this blog post, my job was to figure out which no-grain flour alternatives would emulate River Cottage’s inspirational rye-based bread i.e. to create a dense, semi-sweet, almost malty, rye-tasting soda bread, without the rye flour or honey that the original recipe calls for. I think I’ve done it! With the help of Sukrin and their fantastic range of alternative cold-pressed, fat-reduced nut and seed flours (I particularly like the cold-pressed sesame flour in this recipe for it’s distinctive depth of flavour), I was fully equipped and ready to go.  

This nutty tasting bread is deliciously satisfying, can be eaten in the context of either sweet or savoury, and is so quick and easy to make I’ve ended up making 4 loaves in the past 5 days! 

Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread (makes 1 small loaf - serves 6)

Ingredients - dry

20g organic pumpkin seeds

20g organic sunflower seeds

20g organic sesame seeds

20g organic golden linseeds

1 tbsp organic chia seeds

150g organic ground almonds

50g Sukrin sesame flour  

50g fine milled organic tiger nut flour

20g Sukrin reduced-fat organic almond flour plus a little extra for dusting the finished loaf

½ tsp sea salt

1½ tsp baking soda

 

To finish the loaf before baking

1 tsp seeds - for sprinkling

1 tsp Sukrin almond flour, for dusting

 

Ingredients - wet

100ml apple juice (I used Coldpress)

1 tsp raw cider vinegar

50ml water

2 tbsp avocado oil 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan-assisted) 

Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and, using a fork, mix everything together really well.

In a jug, whisk together the wet ingredients. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and quickly mix everything together with a fork.

Allow the mixture to stand for 1-2 minutes, during which time the chia seeds will help thicken out the mixture. 

With the help of a spatula, tip the sticky but malleable dough onto a sheet of non-stick (parchment) paper and, using both hands, form into an approximate 15cm / 6” round. Slide or lift the shaped bread, still sat on its parchment paper, straight onto a baking tray.

Make a deep cross in the bread round (cutting at least halfway down through the dough) then sprinkle a teaspoon of extra seeds on top and lightly dust with a little more almond flour. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes in the pre-heated oven, or until a cocktail stick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the crust is a really dark brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Tuck in!

Top left: Make a well in the centre of the combined dry ingredients, then pour in the combined wet ingredients. Top right: Mix everything together with a fork. Bottom left: After shaping, score a cross in the dough. Bottom right: Sprinkle with extra seeds and dust with sifted almond flour before baking.

Top left: Make a well in the centre of the combined dry ingredients, then pour in the combined wet ingredients. Top right: Mix everything together with a fork. Bottom left: After shaping, score a cross in the dough. Bottom right: Sprinkle with extra seeds and dust with sifted almond flour before baking.

Notes

I regularly purchase organic nuts and seeds online (more availability and at a better price than most supermarkets) These are my go-to suppliers: Healthy SuppliesReal Foods; Red23; and, for tiger nuts, Na'vi Organics.

This bread will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container. After a couple of days, it can be used to make croutons or made into breadcrumbs for coating. 

If you want a nutritious, no-hassle, low-carb, home-baked bread for breakfast, simply measure out all the dry ingredients into a bowl and the wet ingredients into a jug the evening before, then cover with cling film. Next day, combine everything together and bake…good morning Primal Pronto!

 

Carbohydrate 15g Protein 12g - per serving

Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread is delicious served simply with lashings of organic butter.

Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread is delicious served simply with lashings of organic butter.


Horchata Ice-Cream with Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats

by Susan Smith in ,


The countdown to Christmas has begun and I have so many festive recipe ideas whizzing around my head that I am struggling to keep pace with my imagination. As for the quantity of ingredients I have to purchase for testing and tasting all of Primal Plate’s foolproof meal alternatives in readiness for the most anticipated meal of the year, they threaten to blow my housekeeping budget!

In our house, all the traditional Christmas food favourites - meat-based, grain-based, high carb and loaded with sugar - are off the menu because we find no joy in eating anything that’s going to harm us, or hurt another. We take the view that since it’s the season of goodwill, this should include all our furred and feathered friends. 

You may be thinking that without the turkey and all its trimmings, the Christmas pudding, cake, trifle and mince pies, what’s left? The answer is, probably too much deliciousness for me to have sufficient time before the big day to share all my ideas with you…but I’ll give it a go. The recipes I’ve created, tested and/or adapted to make them low-carb and primal are the answer to all your entertaining problems if you want to eat well and stay healthy. The aim is to make your festivities more delicious, more fun and less stressful. 

Today’s blog post for Horchata Ice Cream is something I conceived back in July but since the homely warmth of sweet cinnamon is so Christmassy and the exotic spiciness of nutmeg so enlivening in combination with all things sweet and creamy, I think the timing of this brilliant get-ahead frozen dessert is even more appropriate for now. And everyone can join in the fun. Gluten-free, grain-free, no eggs, no dairy or nuts (coconut cream can be substituted for cashew nuts - see note below) and no sugar added, this decadently delicious, sweet-tasting ice cream almost beggars belief. Even the Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats that accompany it are a sort of fortuitous accident. 

Peeled organic tiger nuts are an extremely moreish, nutritious, sweet-tasting tuber packed with resistant starch (the unpeeled ones are too hard for most people to chew and are best reserved for making tiger nut milk) so I now always have the organic skinned variety on hand for a quick and healthy sweet treat that can be eaten guilt-free between meals. 

However, if you try to eat more than one or two of them simultaneously they can be a bit dry, so for some time I’ve been toying with the idea of making skinned tiger nuts into an even more desirable snack by enrobing them in dark chocolate. I had in mind that I’d keep them separate (like chocolate covered coffee beans) but oh, the fiddle and the faff! Initially, I tried submerging each individual tiger nut into melted chocolate with the aid of a cocktail stick but then couldn’t get them back off the stick without pinging them across the kitchen table and splatting melted chocolate everywhere! Because I was attempting to do all of this in the time it took to make a cup of tea, I gave up and resorted to throwing all the tiger nuts into the bowl of chocolate in one go, giving the mixture a quick stir then dolloping teaspoonfuls onto a pre-lined tray and shoving the whole thing in the fridge to set. 

Fifteen minutes later I invited John to sample my now-solid chocolate-coated tiger nut ‘splats’ with his second cup of tea. Much to Sarah’s chagrin (she wasn’t around at the time), they only survived a single, brief, taste-testing session. It seems that melding tiger nuts together with dark chocolate is a recipe for gluttony! However, the sense of over-indulgence is more in the mind than an actual reality. With this dessert, everything simply comes together beautifully - cool, creamy ice cream made even more delectable with the first cold snap of chocolate melting into a silky smooth lubricating combo of dark chocolate and coconut oil that makes eating multiple raw tiger nuts effortless (less chew more swallow!). But best of all, because the resistant starch in both the Horchata Ice Cream and Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats can’t be digested by the body, this particular Christmas confection will never find its way onto your hips, so you can still stay on target for a slim and healthy start to your new year!

I think ice cream is the perfect way not to cook at Christmas. Make and freeze it the week before to save time later. This refreshing Horchata Ice Cream with Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats doesn’t really need any other accompaniment (though a baked apple or poached pear would be nice) - simply serve spiked with a mini-star sparkler to razzle-dazzle ‘em as a fabulous festive finale to Christmas lunch. 

Horchata Ice Cream (Serves 8)

Ingredients

250g organic tiger nuts, soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours (or overnight) then rinsed in fresh cold water and drained

75g raw organic cashews, soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours (or overnight) then rinsed in fresh cold water and drained

8 plump Medjool dates, stoned

1 tbsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp organic ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

 

Instructions

Put the tiger nuts into a heavy-duty blender with 600ml fresh, cold filtered water and blend until smooth and creamy - about 3 minutes.

Take a nut milk bag (or a double layer of muslin) and set over a deep bowl. Carefully pour the blended tiger nut mixture into the bag/muslin cloth and secure the top of the bag (or gather the ends of the muslin cloth together) to hold the liquid inside. Using your hands twist and squeeze out all of the liquid until you’re left with only dry tiger nut pulp. Rinse out the blender jug.

Tip the tiger nut milk back into the rinsed-out blender. Add the dates, cashew nuts (or coconut cream - see note below), vanilla essence, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend again until the mixture is completely smooth.

Pour the horchata cream into a bowl, then cover with cling film and chill until very cold.

Churn the cold horchata cream in an ice cream maker (according to the manufacturers instructions) until it forms a soft-set ice cream (mine took about 35 minutes to get to this stage) then spoon into a freezer-proof lidded container and put in the freezer for 2 hours to set completely.

If not serving immediately, take the ice cream out of the freezer 30 minutes before you want to eat it and put in a refrigerator to allow it to soften slightly.

Scoop the Horchata Ice Cream into glass sundae dishes, add 2 or 3 Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats and a light dusting of cinnamon, if liked. 

Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats (Makes about 12)

Ingredients

75g organic peeled tiger nuts

50g good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (at least 70% cocoa solids)

1 tsp organic coconut oil

 

Instructions

Put the chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water to allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to come into contact with the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until it is completely melted and smooth.

Take off the heat and add the coconut oil. Stir the coconut oil into the melted chocolate, then add the tiger nuts and keep stirring until all the tiger nuts are evenly coated in chocolate. 

Spoon rough teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper and refrigerate until set. Peel the cold-set Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats off the paper and store in an airtight container in the fridge until required. 

Notes

You need a decent high-powered blender such as a Vitamix to blitz the tiger nuts into a smooth creamy milk and then to completely break down the cashews and dates to make a rich smooth custard. Pass the finished ice cream mixture through a fine sieve before freezing if you’re in any doubt that your blender isn’t up to it.

An ice cream machine does make for a smoother, creamier, airier ice cream but if you don’t own one it is still possible to make decent ice cream at home as long as you plan ahead. Firstly, chill your prepared ice cream mixture over an ice bath or for several hours in the fridge. Meanwhile switch your freezer onto fast-freeze. Pour your ice cream mixture into a deep freeze-proof container and freeze for about an hour until the edges start to get solid. Take out of the freezer and stir vigorously with a fork or whisk to break up the the ice crystals completely and combine with the still liquid centre. If you have one, a hand-held blender will give the best results. Straightaway, put the mixture back into the freezer for another half-hour then take it out again and repeat the mixing and mashing. Continue doing this every half hour until the ice cream is soft-set throughout, then let it freeze solid.

I used dark chocolate chips to save myself the hassle of chopping chocolate. 

Do not take the chocolate tiger nut splats out of the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. Quite apart from the fact that you’ll be missing the satisfying ‘snap’ of cold chocolate when you bite into them, they melt really quickly in your fingers or when left out at room temperature.

The celebration star sparklers are fun but you need to have a couple of people on hand to help light them and to get your dessert to the table in time to surprise your guests - it took me three attempts to get my sparkler to light for Sarah to take the photograph and, once lit, it didn’t sparkle for very long! Frustrating! Next time I’ll try these!

If you are allergic to nuts, you can substitute the cream off the top of a 400ml can of full-fat coconut milk for the cashew nuts. Put the unopened tin of coconut milk in the refrigerator to chill overnight. When you’re ready to make the ice cream, simply scoop off the top layer of solid coconut cream from the can of chilled coconut milk and add to the blender with the cold horchata milk and the rest of the ingredients before blending until smooth and then churning in an ice cream maker. You can use the coconut water that’s left to make a curry sauce or smoothie.

10th December 2015 update: I made Horchata Ice Cream again today for our Christmas day festivities. And, because we're all-grown ups, I added 2 tablespoons of vodka to the cold cream before churning. It isn't for the sake of imbibing more booze! The idea is that adding a little alcohol should help to keep the ice cream a little bit softer (alcohol doesn't freeze) whilst it's stored for the next couple of weeks.  

 

Carbohydrate 34g Protein 3g - per serving ice cream made with raw cashews

Carbohydrate 12g Protein 2g - per serving (3 chocolate tiger nut splats)


Tiger Nut Horchata

by Susan Smith in


In the heat of summer our thoughts are often wont to turn to ice cream. However, with my new found friend the tiger nut, otherwise known as chufa (pronounced Choo-fah), I’ve discovered a serious contender when making my first batch of ice-cold Tiger Nut Horchata. There can simply be nothing more refreshing, or good for you, than downing a glass of this Spanish-style refreshment on a hot day.

Tiger Nut Horchata a.k.a. tiger nut milk is a delicious creamy, milk-like drink that can be best described as ‘liquid gold’ for the health conscious. Tasting so good and loaded with resistant starch, raw tiger nut milk (and whole organic tiger nuts eaten as a snack) are a veritable powerhouse of nutrients (see my last two blog posts for more information). Suffice to say, tiger nuts are an original Paleo superfood with a ratio of carbohydrates, fats and protein so similar to human breast milk it almost beggars belief. Tiger nuts are, after all, just a brown, wrinkly vegetable tuber!

In spite of its name, tiger nut milk is both nut and dairy free, which is an absolute boon for people who are lactose intolerant or who suffer from a nut allergy. It’s also gluten-free so coeliacs needn’t go without either. You can use Tiger Nut Horchata as a milk replacement in tea, coffee, poured over our Nut & Seed Granola for breakfast, and pretty much for everything that calls for normal milk. Naturally sweet, tiger nut milk is non-allergic, safe for diabetics and, since tiger nuts do not contain inflammatory omega-6 fats, Tiger Nut Horchata makes for a much healthier alternative to dairy milk or other nut milks.

Most recipes I’ve found for Tiger Nut Horchata (Horchata de Chufa) are full of refined sugar (up to 200g of sugar per 250g of tiger nuts) but because tiger nuts are intrinsically sweet-tasting, I think it’s debatable whether tiger nut milk actually needs any added sugar at all. In the end I decided to stay true to Spanish tradition (I confess my tiger nut milk did taste a little ‘thin’ without) but I have so moderated the amount and type of sweetener in my Tiger Nut Horchata, it still faithfully follows Primal and Paleo dietary guidelines. My sweeteners of choice in this unique recipe are small amounts of raw organic honey and liquid stevia, which both make the grade (to see why, please read The Definitive Guide To Sugar on Mark’s Daily Apple). The end result is a slightly thickened, rich, creamy, sweet (but not too sweet), seriously satisfying vegetable milk that’s fit for the gods.

Using heathy sweeteners rather than refined sugar, I can well imagine Tiger Nut Horchata justifiably becoming the world’s next healthy-drink ‘craze’. And, with that thought, I drink to your good health. Salud!

Tiger Nut Horchata (makes 1000ml / 1 litre)

Ingredients

250g organic tiger nuts, covered with cold water by 5cm (2”) and left to soak overnight at room temperature

1000ml (1 litre) fresh, filtered water

40ml raw organic liquid honey (I used mild-tasting Raw Health organic acacia flower honey)

2 drops liquid stevia (*see note below for Vegan Tiger Nut Horchata) 

Organic ground cinnamon

Fresh ice cubes

Whole cinnamon stick(s), if liked

 

Instructions

Take your Nut Milk Bag and set it over a deep bowl. 

Drain the tiger nuts, rinse them well under cold water then drain again and tip into the blender container. Add the filtered water, the honey and 2 drops of liquid stevia, then secure the lid and blend on high speed until completely homogenised and smooth - this will take about 3-4 minutes (depending on your blender). After blending, if the mixture seems a little too hot to handle, allow it to cool down before proceeding to the next step.

Carefully pour the blended tiger nut mixture into the nut milk bag, tighten the tie at the top of the bag to hold everything inside, then using your hands firmly squeeze out all the liquid until you’re left with only dry tiger nut pulp.

Cover the bowl containing the tiger nut milk and cool completely, then transfer to a glass bottle or lidded container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

To serve, third-fill a glass with ice (small ice cubes are best), shake or stir your chilled horchata well then pour over the ice and sprinkle a large pinch of organic ground cinnamon on top (**see note below) 

For a final flourish, add a whole cinnamon stick to each glass and use as a swizzle stick to distribute the cinnamon flavour throughout your drink.  

Notes

You’ll need a powerful blender and a strong Nut Milk Bag to ensure this simple Tiger Nut Horchata recipe is a breeze for you to make on a regular basis. You can use 2 or 3 layers of wet cheesecloth or cotton muslin to strain your tiger nut milk through but the Nut Milk Bag sold by Love Tree Products is strong, re-usable and easy to clean. it also produces a silky-smooth milk with no bits in it. I personally wouldn't want the mess, the faff or the unpredictability of making a DIY version!

*To make Tiger Nut Horchata vegan, simply leave out the raw honey and double the drops of liquid stevia (to 4) for the same level of sweetness.

It’s recommended you don’t discard the tiger nut pulp, instead dry it out in an oven and use as a substitute for desiccated coconut. Alternatively, convert into nutritious Tiger Nut Energy Balls

** I actually prefer to put my refrigerated horchata into a blender with half dozen ice cubes and whizz together for about 10 seconds to break up the ice for a super-cold drink that doesn’t smack you around the mouth with ice cubes every time you take a sip (it was Sarah that insisted I put a single ice cube in the glass for the photographs!) You can also put the horchata into the freezer for about an hour to turn it into a ‘slushy’. Which suggests to me that I should be creating a tiger-nut-milk-based recipe for ice cream, sooner rather than later!

To calculate the carbohydrate content of this recipe I’ve referenced whole tiger nuts, not tiger nut milk. Although carb grams per serving looks relatively high, there is a significant amount of tiger nut sediment that’s discarded after squeezing out the milk. Also, some of the carbohydrate content in raw tiger nuts is in the form of a unique fibre known as resistant starch, which cannot be absorbed by the body in the process of digestion. This means it passes through your system without deleterious effects on blood sugar or insulin levels. Similarly, you don’t obtain significant calories from resistant starch either.

However, resistant starch is a highly beneficial pre-biotic that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut, which in turn provides numerous health benefits that can ultimately assist in weight loss. Your healthy gut flora actually need this ‘food’ to survive and thrive, Thus, Tiger Nut Horchata is recommended for even the most carb sensitive individual. Even if you are trying to lose weight, it’s more important to focus on eating real, nutritious food than to worry unduly about counting grams of carbohydrate or calories. The message is: ditch all grains, legumes, refined sugar and unhealthy processed seed oils and fats, and your carbohydrate and calorie intake will happily take care of itself!

Caution: Tiger nuts and tiger nut flour have very high amounts of resistant starch which, if you’re not used to, can cause discomfort and bloating when eaten in large amounts. It is therefore advised that you slowly introduce resistant starch into your diet (less than a teaspoon per day) and gradually increase your tolerance to your particular comfort level, which will hopefully be about 15-30 grams a day. 

 

Carbohydrate 55g Protein 5g - per 250ml serving of Tiger Nut Horchata (without ice)


Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino with Parmesan Crusted Chicken / Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés

by Susan Smith in , , , , , , ,


There’s a debate going on in our household. A sort of ‘Daddy or Chips?’ to-ing and fro-ing. Sarah thinks I should feature more meat recipes on Primal Plate’s blog and I’m not finding any reason to do so. In fact, the opposite is true - I am not interested in promoting meat consumption.

Mass cruelty is going on, and millions of factory-farmed chickens, pigs and cows are suffering the consequences, without any encouragement from me. Most people don’t want to know how the food they eat arrives on their plate, because if they become fully aware of the heartrending, unmerciful, intense farming methods, kept ‘under wraps’ by agribusiness and food advertising agencies, natural empathy will force them to change their eating habits, or at least make them willing to pay the extra price for compassionately and ethically reared farm animals. I have a solution. If you think you can’t afford to buy organic, free-range, grass-fed meat, stop eating meat! Or, if you must eat it, save it for special occasions when you are happy to pay a little more for the privilege.

So now my intention is clear, I can indulge Sarah and look to those people who like to draw attention to the fact that meat is most often missing on Primal Plate’s blog. Today’s post should make the point admirably. 

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino is a fresh, light-bite that’s been slightly modified from an original Waitrose recipe. More than a cold salad but not quite a hot dinner, this dish captures all the flavours of summer with the minimum of fuss. With the exception of griddling the asparagus spears (which only takes about 6-8 minutes) everything else can be pre-prepared and quickly assembled when you’re ready to eat. 

It’s delicious with Parmesan Crusted Chicken (buy your chicken here) assuming you’ve taken on board the importance of provenance - but here’s the thing, it’s twice as good (and a lot more convenient to serve) teamed with Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (recipe adapted from Rose Elliot’s book Vegetarian Four Seasons).

This is my sort of food - tasty soft pillows of all-protein goodness, topped with golden, crunchy, cheese - and no animal suffering in the making thereof! When it comes to deciding which is more enticing to eat, I think the photographs here say it for me!

Still, I’ve included the recipes for both chicken and soufflés, so you have the choice. However, I entreat you to please stop supporting the horrors of intensive animal farming by paying the extra money for free-range, outdoor bred, organic chicken - without exception. Thank you.

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino (V - see note below) (Serves 2-4)

Ingredients

250g tomatoes, halved (I used Pome dei Moro)

500g asparagus, trimmed

Fast and easy vinaigrette

30g pine nuts, toasted

25g pack fresh basil, shredded if leaves are large, or left whole if small

30g Pecorino, Parmesan or Twineham Grange cheese, finely grated

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 150 ℃ / 300℉ / Gas mark 3

Arrange tomato halves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment . Cook in the pre-heated oven for up to 1 hour. N.B. Because oven temperatures can vary considerably, check the tomatoes progress after 45 minutes - they should be semi-collapsed, semi-dried and slightly caramelised when they’re done - definitely not scorched! Remove from the oven and set aside.

Gently toast pine nuts in a small dry frying pan over a low heat until golden - watch like a hawk, don’t let them burn!

Make the fast and easy vinaigrette. Set aside.

Wash asparagus, drain and dry. Snap off the bottom of the spears and peel the lower third with a potato peeler. Drizzle the prepared asparagus with olive oil, coating them evenly, then season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Just before you’re ready to serve, heat a griddle pan to hot. Cook the asparagus in a single layer until lightly charred and tender (takes about 5-8 minutes)

Arrange the cooked asparagus on a large serving plate, scatter with the tomatoes. Drizzle generously with the vinaigrette then top with pine nuts, shredded basil leaves and grated cheese…in that order.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Serves 2) 

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts 

1 egg white, lightly beaten

60g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

A generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Clearspring organic sunflower frying oil

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃. 

Combine freshly ground black pepper with grated Parmesan.

Dip each chicken fillet into the beaten egg white and then firmly press the chicken into the combined Parmesan and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a non-stick oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat. When it is hot, cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Do not be tempted to move the chicken around the pan - it will be crispier if you leave it alone. 

Put the frying pan into the pre-heated oven for a further 8-10 minutes until cooked through. N.B. if you’re not sure if it’s completely cooked, cut through the middle of one of the chicken fillets with a sharp knife and check.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving. 

 

Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (V) (Makes 8 soufflés - serves 4 for a main course, 8 as a starter) 

Ingredients

Butter for greasing 

8 tbsp ready-grated Parmesan cheese

225g full fat cream cheese (I used Longley Farm)

4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

150g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

5 large egg whites

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4. Boil a kettle of water.

Generously grease 8 ramekin dishes, then sprinkle the insides with 4 tablespoons of the ready-grated Parmesan.

Put the cream cheese into a large bowl and mash with a fork until it’s smooth. Gradually mix in the egg yolks, then add half the grated Gruyere. Season with sea salt and black pepper. 

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a clean grease-free whisk (preferably electric if you’re not feeling energetic) until they stand in soft peaks.

Stir one tablespoon of the whisked egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it, then using a metal tablespoon gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins to come level with the top, but don’t pile it up any higher.

Stand the filled ramekins in a roasting tin, pour the boiling water round to come halfway up the sides and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are risen and set.

Remove from the oven and allow to get cold - they’ll sink a bit. Loosen the edges and turn them out. It’s easiest to turn them out into the palm of one hand, then transfer them to an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere cheese, then with the rest of the Parmesan cheese. 

They can now wait until you’re ready to bake them. Then, pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Notes

It’s impossible to make Pecorino or Parmesan cheese without using animal rennet, so they are not suitable for vegetarians. Twineham Grange cheese is made with a vegetarian rennet in place of the animal rennet and is the only cheese of its type to be Vegetarian Society Approved. For more information click here.

Twice-baked cheese soufflés are excellent for a special brunch served alongside slices of wild smoked salmon and accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange and pink grapefruit juice. They can even be made and frozen in their dish, ready to be quickly defrosted and baked.  

The cooking times for chicken breast fillets depend on their size and thickness so I have allowed some latitude in my timings. Try to ensure that both fillets are the same weight so you’re not juggling around with different timings for each. Ultimately, you have to use your discretion but, if in doubt, nothing will spoil if you cut one open, just to make sure it’s nicely cooked all the way through.

 

Carbohydrate 6g Protein 8g - per serving of Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino/Twineham Grange cheese

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 44g - per serving of Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Carbohydrate 2g Protein 28g - per main course serving of 2x individual Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (1g carbohydrate 14g protein - per soufflé)


Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese

by Susan Smith in , ,


I love British asparagus. It has to be one of the most distinctly delicious vegetables ever, and right now is the time to be taking advantage of its very short season - traditionally between St. George’s Day (23rd April) and Midsummer day (21st June).

Magnificent whichever way you cook it, perhaps my favourite way is to lightly steam it and serve it with salty dairy ingredients such as butter and cheese. Asparagus also has a particular affinity with eggs, so hollandaise sauce - a heavenly combination of eggs and butter - is for me the ultimate indulgence. 

Suffice to say, I’ll be going mad for British asparagus for the next few weeks…steaming, roasting, boiling, chargrilling, in salads (like the Spanish are wont to do) or raw, this seasonal treat is seriously good! Clearly I’m not the only one to appreciate English asparagus’s delicate, fresh, sweet taste (eaten raw it reminds me of young freshly-podded peas) because sales of this trendy vegetable have sky-rocketed in recent years. So, whilst British asparagus is currently enjoying its truly deserved ‘best in the world’ status, I think it would be remiss of me not to feature some of my pick-of-the-crop recipes.

The shortest and sweetest one I know involves nothing more than snapping off the bottom ends of the spears (they conveniently break just in the right place), placing them in a single layer in a large frying pan with a good knob of butter (25g / 1oz) and 150ml / 5fl oz water and cooking them over a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until the water has almost evaporated. Turn the heat to medium and continue cooking, turning occasionally, for another 6-8 minutes until the asparagus is glistening and tinged golden in a reduction of buttery juices. Served with lemon, a few flakes of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper, it’s simply irresistible. 

However, after my hyper-excitement about British asparagus now hitting the shops, it would be a bit of a tease to just leave it at that! So today’s recipe for Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese, is altogether a more substantial dish - a meal in itself. It is also a celebration of asparagus that marries it together with some of its most harmonious flavour pairings - eggs, cheese and mushrooms. 

Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese can be ready to eat in 45 minutes. It’s also fast and straight forward to prepare. The only tricky part is keeping the egg yolks still slightly runny whilst making sure the egg whites are properly set (though it’s infinitely better to have over-set egg yolks than it is slimy egg whites!) The best way I’ve found to get this dish just perfect is to use individual oven-proof dishes set in a bain-marie (water bath) and to be meticulous with the timing!

Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese (V) (Serves 2)

Ingredients 

350g asparagus (7-8 spears per person)

150g organic closed-cup mushrooms

1 tbsp olive oil

125 ml organic double cream

80g Parmesan or Twineham Grange (vegetarian) cheese, finely grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large organic free-range eggs

Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, to garnish

15g butter, for greasing gratin dishes (the dishes I use are 23cm x 17cm / 9in x 5in)

 

Instructions

Boil a kettle of water. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

To prepare asparagus, bend the asparagus spear (close to its base) until it snaps, then throw the woody end away. If the ends still feel tough, you can pare away the exterior with a potato peeler to reveal the more tender flesh beneath.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the base of a steamer. Lay the asparagus spears in the top of the steamer and, with the lid on, steam for 2-3 minutes until crispy-tender. Drain and plunge immediately in cold water to stop the cooking process (or place under a running cold tap). Drain again, then dry the spears between two sheets of kitchen paper and set aside.

Either quickly wash the mushrooms under a cold tap and dry on kitchen paper or clean them with damp kitchen paper and cut into thickish slices (4-5 slices per mushroom). Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and quickly stir-fry the mushrooms for 3 minutes or until softened and golden brown. Immediately tip the cooked mushrooms into a metal sieve set over a bowl (to drain off the excess juices), then lightly season the mushrooms with sea salt and black pepper and leave to cool.

Butter two individual oven-proof (gratin) dishes well. 

Boil another kettle of water.

Lightly season the cream with sea salt and black pepper. Divide all but 2 tablespoons of the cream equally between the two dishes. Swirl the dishes around so the cream is distributed evenly over the bottom of each dish then sprinkle over about three quarters (60 grams) of the grated cheese, again dividing it equally.

Arrange the cooked mushrooms and asparagus neatly on top, in that order. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese. 

Carefully break 2 eggs into each dish, then spoon the remaining cream over the top of each egg. 

Place the dishes in a large roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water from the kettle until it reaches about halfway up their sides. 

Bake in the pre-heated oven on the middle shelf for 10 minutes - since oven temperatures can vary considerably, check after 8 minutes - the egg whites should be just set (still wobbly but opaque) and, hopefully, the yolks slightly runny. N.B. Don’t overcook as the eggs continue to cook in the residual heat of the dishes after they’ve been taken out of the oven.

Carefully (I use silicone oven gloves), remove the dishes from the bain-marie directly onto a dry tea-towel.

Garnish each dish with a sprig of fresh parsley and serve immediately with a decent glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Deliciously sexy, unctuous food, or what?

Notes:

Choose asparagus spears that are uniform in size - not too thick and not too thin (definitely not sprue). Given a choice, I like my asparagus to err on the side of thicker rather than thinner because I think you get more flavour and texture. To check the uniformity of thickness within a pre-packed bunch of asparagus, tip it upside down and look at the base of the shoots. You want them all roughly the same diameter so that they will cook evenly. Fresh asparagus should have tight perky tips and shoots that are straight and firm. If possible, eat on the day of purchase - though asparagus will keep in a refrigerator for up to 4 days with the base of their stems wrapped in damp kitchen towel and placed inside a perforated plastic bag.

Asparagus packs a nutritional punch, with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium. They're also a diuretic and give your pee an unmistakable aroma (which, weirdly, not everyone can smell!).

Twineham Grange cheese is a delicious vegetarian alternative to Parmesan Reggiano. This full-flavoured hard cheese is absolutely perfect for cooking. It seems to me to have the melting quality of Gruyere with a similar flavour profile to Parmesan. Brilliant! 

 

Carbohydrate 9g Protein 35g - per individual serving


Stir-Fried Masala Chicken with Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes and Coriander & Mint Chutney

by Susan Smith in , , ,


I lost my mojo with regard to writing more recipes for the BBQ this past week, because when the weather turns cold, wet and windy, I really don’t want to eat outside thank you. This means the Halloumi & Vegetable Skewers promised in my last blog post will just have to wait, because I’m now more in the mood for something hot and spicy, like Stir-Fried Masala Chicken.

A packet of organic chicken thighs left too long in the fridge was actually intended for Sushi (my cat), but ended up being far too near its sell-by date for her to deign to eat them! Feeling under some obligation not to waste good food, Stir-Fried Masala Chicken just had to be! Accompanied by Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes, some baby salad leaves and a fresh, green, zingy, Coriander & Mint Chutney it has the cheer-up factor of spring with a little bit of heat for comfort. An all round winner I’d say, especially as Sushi got some fresh organic chicken breasts to compensate for her loss!

If you’re thinking “Is it okay to drink a lager/beer/cider with my curry when you’re following the Primal diet?” the answer is that none of these alcoholic drinks are strictly Primal (they also contain about 10-15 grams of carbohydrate per glass). However, an occasional, gluten-free, ‘light’ beer or lager (only 3-6 grams carbohydrate a glass) can be considered a bit of a ‘cheat’ and is obviously better for you than regular beers and lagers. 

Anyway, I’m off on a tangent because the drink shown in the picture below (just above Notes) is not alcoholic. It is a deliciously different and refreshing drink made from Thorncroft Detox Cordial  and San Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water. Having no artificial flavours or preservatives, no refined sugar and being a great detox to boot, this is how I manage to drink my full quotient of water every day! As a bonus for cider lovers, if you add 1-2 tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar (also recommended for detox and cleansing) you'll end up with a non-alcoholic cider that not only tastes good, but does you good!  

For ease, I have kept the recipes for the Stir-Fried Masala Chicken, Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes and Coriander & Mint Chutney separate. However, these dishes brought together on one plate work brilliantly. For those of us committed to a low-carbohydrate, grain-free Primal/Paleo diet, it’s safe to say that the rest of you can keep your traditional naan bread accompaniment, because when compared to this flavourful made-in-curry-heaven combination, it won’t even come close!

To help you avoid any last-minute kitchen frenzy, the Coriander & Mint Chutney can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, the sweet potatoes can be part-cooked, spiced and 'oven-ready' for a final roasting and the chicken sliced, all in advance. Then, with a pre-heated oven on standby, dinner can be on the table within half an hour or so.

Ingredients - for the  Stir-Fried Masala Chicken (Serves 3)

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped 

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 tsp (about 2.5cm / 1inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp organic curry powder (or garam masala)

1 tsp Marigold organic bouillon powder

6 x free-range, organic chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces / strips (alternatively, 2 organic chicken breasts, cut into strips)

2 tsp organic tomato puree

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Baby green or mixed leaf salad, to serve

 

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat.  Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the chillies and continue to fry for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to turn golden brown.

Add the grated ginger, bouillon powder, curry powder (or garam masala), coriander and cumin to the pan. Stir until well combined and continue cooking for 2 more minutes until the mixture is thick and fragrant (take care that it doesn’t burn).

Stir in the tomato puree, then add the chicken to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and over a medium/high heat dry-fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the chicken is cooked through and a deep reddish brown. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve immediately with baby green leaf salad. 

 

Ingredients - for the Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes (Serves 3)

700g Organic Sweet Potatoes

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp turmeric

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 250℃ / 480℉ / Gas mark 9. Boil a kettle of water.

Peel the sweet potatoes then cut them into approx 2.5cm x 5cm (1in x 2in) pieces and put into the top half of a steamer.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom of the steamer, cover with the pan lid and cook the sweet potatoes for 8-10 minutes until just tender (test with a skewer, they should just give without too much resistance). Don’t let them go too soft. Remove from the heat, drain well and set aside to steam dry. 

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large frying pan. Check that the oil is hot enough by adding a sprinkling of mustard seeds (they should pop when it is) then add the rest of the mustard seeds, the chilli flakes, the turmeric and a large pinch of salt. Fry for 1 minute until the spices are well combined and fragrant. 

Tip the sweet potatoes into the pan, give everything a good stir so that they are well coated in the oil, spices and mustard seeds then take the pan off the heat. Using a potato masher, squash and flatten the sweet potatoes down to about half their original size. You’re aiming for a coarsely crushed mixture that'll provide lots of crispy, roasted edges after blasting in the oven. 

Tip the spiced crushed sweet potatoes onto a large non-stick baking tray and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden. 

Serve hot with Stir-Fried Masala Chicken. 

 

Ingredients- for Coriander & Mint Chutney (Serves 4-6)

100g (4oz) bunch fresh coriander, rinsed and dried (I use an OXO salad spinner)

20g fresh mint, stalks removed

2 long green chillies, finely chopped

15g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tsp, grated)

½ large lime or ½ medium lemon, juiced (about 30ml / 1 fl.oz juice)

1-2 drop(s) liquid stevia

Sea salt, to taste

250g organic Greek yogurt

 

Instructions

Place the coriander, chillies, grated ginger, lime or lemon juice, a single drop of liquid stevia and a generous pinch of sea salt into a food processor or blender. Whizz together into a smooth, thick puree. 

Add the coriander mixture to the yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning and/or add another single drop of liquid stevia, if you think it needs it.

Serve as an accompaniment to Stir-Fried Masala Chicken, Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes and a baby green or mixed leaf leaf salad. 

Notes:

Although the recipes for Stir-Fried Masala Chicken and Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes serve 3 people, Sarah reckons she can never have too much! Therefore, I suggest that if youve only got two mouths to feed (and youre both hungry), don’t reduce the quantity of ingredients but rather knock yourself out and eat the lot! Just remember, if you're trying to lose weight, you’re loading up the carbs when you eat sweet potatoes!

Skinless chicken breasts are easier to prepare than chicken thighs because there’s no fat or sinew to remove prior to cutting them into strips. Eversfield Organic Farm is Soil Association Approved, deliver nationwide and has won many awards for their organic grass-fed meat from Compassion in World Farming, Food and Drink Devon and Great Taste. They’ve also had many recommendations from top food chiefs and writers and I am now about to add Primal Plate Blog to the list! If you eat a Primal or Paleo diet you will know that only organic, pastured meat is recommended, so this is your one-stop shop for the best fresh meat and poultry you can buy. 

Sweet potatoes are strong sources of beta-carotene, manganese, and copper. A small one has 22g carbs and 3g fibre, making it the perfect post-workout snack. They’re also Primal/Paleo and a lot tastier than a bland white potato (which isn’t!). In this Primal Plate recipe, they perfectly balance out the heat of the Masala Stir-fried Chicken and the fresh, green tang of the Coriander & Mint Chutney. Truly delicious!

Coriander & Mint Chutney, whilst obviously the perfect condiment for an Indian dish, also makes an utterly moreish dip for crudités and other finger-licking goodies. I’ve even recently used it as a dipping sauce for the first-of-the-season English steamed asparagus. My advice would be, never let a bunch of fresh coriander go to waste in your fridge - make some fresh coriander chutney with it instead - once tasted, you just can’t seem to get enough!

 

Carbohydrate 5g Protein 36g - per serving of Stir-Fried  Masala Chicken 

Carbohydrate 51g Protein 3g - per serving of Crash Hot Bombay Sweet Potatoes 

Carbohydrate 4g Protein 2g - per serving of Coriander & Mint Chutney