Garlic & Parmesan Cauli Bites

You may have picked up on it by now from some of my previous posts but I am a big fan of Cauliflower as a healthy alternative to many of our beloved Complex and Simple Carbohydrates. It is an extremely versatile vegetable that is packed with goodness and healthy stuff for our lovely tummies to feast on.

You will also know by now if you follow this blog that two of my favourite things in this world are Garlic and Parmesan. So whilst brainstorming for my Spring/Summer recipes, I landed on the idea of making Cauliflower Bites – something crispy and tasty that you can dip into your favourite sauce (I mixed ketchup with Franks Hot Sauce OMG) and snack on while watching some TV at the weekend or whatever. I also think they would make a lovely side dish alternative to the Sunday dinner instead of roast potatoes. I know the roasties are sacred but it’s just an idea 🙂

They were pretty easy to make seeing as I was making it up as I went along and I must say I was delighted with the result. They lasted a few days in the fridge and also reheated well in the microwave. If I were to give any tips, I would say to leave them baking in the oven for as long as possible – you really want to reach the core of the florette and also crisp up the coating as much as possible to maximise the flavours and the overall eating experience.
Any other tips I could offer is just to enjoy making them and of course, eating and sharing them!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 medium-large Cauliflower head
2 Eggs, whisked
¼ cup Plain Flour
1 cup Bread Crumbs of choice
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius.
Chop the Cauliflower head up into small florets and add them to some boiling water in a pot on the hob. Cook until they are just about tender (approx 4-5 minutes).
In a bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and seasoning.
In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs or breadcrumb alternative and grated Parmesan Cheese.
In a third bowl, have your eggs whisked and ready.
When the Cauliflower has been cooked, pat dry and leave to cool for about ten minutes. You can run it under some cold water before drying to speed up the cooling process.
Firstly dip your Cauliflower floret into the bowl of flour and seasoning.
Then dip it into the egg and then onto the cheese and crumb bowl.
Ensure your floret is fully coated.
Place the coated floret on a lined baking tray and continue this process until all the cauliflower has been used up.
Drizzle the florets with olive oil and pop in the oven to bake.
Mine took about 15 minutes and then I let them stay in for another 5 just to crisp up that little bit more.
I mixed some Franks Hot Sauce and Ketchup together and the combination went great.

And there you have it, another simple, cheap and delicious healthy snack to keep you on the right track! Enjoy xXx

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5 Small Food Swaps for a Healthier You

So we are well into our New Year now and hopefully still sticking to some of our New Year’s Resolutions that we made a few weeks ago with such enthusiasm and hope. My Resolutions are mostly career and travel focused this year but I am bringing my promise to myself to live balanced and eat healthy with me from last year with the aim of continuing to explore the healthiest ways to cook and eat the widest range of fresh foods I can find.

This post is just to share a little bit of both self-taught wisdom and knowledge learned from my Nutrition and Food Science class. It is a few simple hacks that I swear by to live a little healthier in the easiest ways I can think of. I hope this post inspires you to keep up the good work you are already doing and to enjoy living healthier by making small, simple changes to how and what you eat.

Soft Drinks
I am Diet Coke’s Number 1 Fan, I’ll admit it! But I have taken control of my love for this nasty can of fizz and will usually treat myself to one a week (OK maybe two). But I know people out there who cant go a day without cracking open a can of the fizzy stuff and I have read so many articles on how this can be seriously detrimental to ones health and a huge factor in weight gain for many people. To make a long story short, stay away from soft drinks!
A great swap that I found is infusing fresh fruit like berries or kiwi with Sparkling Water. You will get that familiar, fizzy sensation you’re craving with a subtle hint of fruity flavour. For any Irish readers, I’m also loving the new Ballygowan flavoured Sparkling Water cans if you want to try one of these first – delish!

infused-water

Pasta
Penne, Fusili, Spaghetti – we love them all! I think I speak for most of us when I say there is just something about Pasta that is irresistible and I for one will admit that this is undoubtedly my guilty pleasure, I just love the stuff! But as we also know, too much of the good stuff will give us nice little Pasta Bellys that will simply not go with that Little Black Dress we’ve been dying to wear 😉 So what do we do? Buy a Spiralizer! I know Ive raved about it several times in my posts but trust me when I tell you, it is the best money you will spend on a Healthier You this year!
Spiralized vegetables such as Courgette and Butternut Squash are an excellent swap for Pasta and Spaghetti and will keep you well on track with those New Year Goals. Check out some of my Spiralizer Recipes for some inspiration.

6150jpgkrl-_sx425_

White Rice
Again, another “white food” that we sometimes can’t help ourselves with. Rice is a wonderful accompaniment to so many family favourites but like Pasta, too much will send our healthy eating plans back to 2016. So what to use instead? There are a few different options here.
Quinoa would be my go-to grain, it’s simple and versatile and is very good for you. Other grains like Bulgar Wheat or even Wild Rice are great alternatives too. These ingredients are also cheap to buy and easy to cook so they’re certainly worth trying out.
Another great swap is Cauliflower Rice. You can find some simple instructions on how to make Cauliflower Rice in one of my earlier Posts on how good Cauliflower is for you. I would highly recommend giving this one a go.

img_0705

Sweets and Chocolate
I consider myself very luckily that I was born without a sweet tooth. I rarely crave sweets and chocolate and am more a savoury, cheese and crackers girl myself but I have seen friends and family fight the craving and it is Painful! Like all food, everything in moderation is more than allowed but many a friend has told me that once that packet of sweets or bar of chocolate has been opened, there is no stopping them until it has been obliterated. I’m sure you ave all had your fill of the sweet stuff over the Christmas and maybe even the sight of a sweet tin you will still find repulsive so now would be a good time to make the switch – while you still have the willpower!
Good quality Dark Chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is a good alternative to keep hidden in the door of the fridge for when the craving just gets too much. I always buy the Lindt or Green & Black brand and tuck it away in the fridge case of emergencies.
Another good swap for sweets is Dried Fruit such as Figs, Cranberries or Goji Berries. They will kill the craving and help you stick to your goals with their more natural sugar content. Go easy on them all the same though as too much will lead to a build up of these natural sugars that will turn into stored energy and eventually fat.

dark-chocolate

Minced Beef
Certainly a true Irish staple, minced beef is used for so many delicious dinners – Bolognese, Burgers, Cottage Pie, Lasagne – it can be the main ingredient to some of our favourite meals. Poor quality mince and even some regular mince has a very high fat content and this can of course have adverse effects on our body’s health.
An ideal swap is making the change to Turkey Mince. This is just as versatile and far leaner than its beefy counterpart. Use it just as you would regular mince and you will be feeling leaner in no time. I have some great recipes including my most popular post to date – Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers – for some inspiration.

https://clodaghscountertop.blog/2016/06/11/turkey-quinoa-stuffed-peppers/

Of course, if you’re not up for trying a different meat, Lean Mince products are available. You just may need to seek out a good butchers or well stocked supermarket to get your hands on it.

turkey-burgers

Creamy Spinach & Garlic Chicken

Next up for a fresh and healthy 2017 is this delicious oven bake. With all the usual suspects in the line up – spinach, garlic, parmesan, this chicken wonder will leave you feeling full and satisfied. I have used coconut cream as the healthier alternative to regular cream here and it worked a treat but as always, this is more a guideline than a recipe so feel free to use whatever cream or cream alternative you want.

I loved making this dish as it was super easy to put together. I stormed home tonight after a full on day at work and big gym sesh and almost fell over with exhaustion but knew that dinner had to be cooked and was glad I had planned ahead with this one. I popped the oven on to preheat, prepared the chicken and the cream sauce as per the method below and threw this yummy looking dinner into the oven. Now with 40 minutes to kill, I got myself organised for tomorrow, showered and into my pjs and was back in the kitchen just i time for the oven timer to tweet.

And now I’m sitting here after enjoying this delish dinner telling you guys all about it and encouraging you to add this to your meal plan this week. Cheap and cheerful, this one is defo for the clean and healthy January menu.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1kg (6-8 pieces) bone-in, skin-on Chicken Thighs
2 cups Fresh Spinach
1 can (330 ml) Coconut Cream
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. Shaved Parmesan
1 Tsp. Corn Flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a blender, processor or Nutribullet – whatever you have available – add the coconut cream, spinach, garlic, parmesan and seasoning and blend together until smooth and creamy.
Put the cream sauce to one side.
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add the chicken thighs with the top side facing down.
Sear the thighs until brown and sealed and then turn them over.
Repeat the above step with this side of the thighs.
Once the chicken thighs have been sealed, place them bottom side down in a large oven dish.
Remove any remaining oil from the pan in which you seared the thighs and add the cream sauce (don’t wash the pan as it will be full of rich flavour from the chicken).
On a low heat, gently stir the cream sauce and add the corn flour to thicken.
Once the cream sauce has heat through, pour it over the chicken thighs waiting in the oven dish.
Add a sprinkle of seasoning over the chicken and place the oven dish on the middle shelf of the oven.
Leave the dish to bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
Once thoroughly cooked, remove the dish from the oven.
Using a tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the dish and serve as desired.

Balsamic Brussels with Pancetta

One of my most vivid memories from when I was growing up is how much I absolutely HATED Brussel Sprouts and how they just had to be an obligatory element to the Christmas Dinner. There was no getting away with it at our table – if you wanted more roast potatoes or stuffing, the penalty was the consumption of “one or two more” of the dreaded greens. And now it couldn’t be more different – I almost look forward to the Sprouts the most! It may be a growing-up thing but I’m not the only one who feels like this. Over many-a-Christmas Dinner conversation, several of my friends and peers have the same memory. Now, lots of them still feel the same about the Sprouts but plenty will also admit how much they love them now.

It maybe that I have incorporated so many greens into my meals the past couple of years that I’m not even thinking about all those Christmas’ being bribed into eating them or the fact that they are one of natures little wonders when it comes to nutritional value. Brussel Sprouts are seriously good for you!

My mother and I were chatting about her plans for the Big Day’s Dinner and she was looking for some inspiration to jazz up the traditional. She loves her Sprouts too so I suggested this recipe to her. I told her she would have to watch out for the post so Mam, I hope you’re reading 🙂

Ingredients

60grams Diced Pancetta
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
300grams Brussel Sprouts, halved
60ml Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Real Butter
125ml Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a pan and add the pancetta.
Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the pancetta is crisp and golden.
Remove the pancetta from the pan but keep the oil in the pan.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan.
Place the halved Brussel Sprouts flat-side down on the pan in one layer and cook on the medium heat until slightly brown.
Add the water to the pan, cover and simmer for a few minutes until the sprouts become soft and tender.
Add a little extra water during this time if it starts to evaporate.
Remove the Brussels from the pan and set to one side.
Add the Balsamic vinegar to the pan with the remaining oil and any water.
Boil the vinegar until it resembles a syrup and has reduced to about 2-3 tablespoons.
This should only take about two minutes approx.
Return the pancetta and the sprouts to the pan and toss them through the Balsamic reduction.
Add salt & pepper to season.
Serve lovingly.

Curried Cauliflower & Potato

A hugely popular dish in its Indian Motherland, Potato & Cauliflower Curry or “Aloo Gobi” is a deliciously simple curry to whip up and is also great for those Meat-Free-Mondays or any other meals you would like to try al-veggie. I made this dish a few weeks ago and put it away in portions for lunch and ready-meals. The recipe below got me about 8 portions which is pretty great considering how little is required to put this together – you are defo getting serious bang for your buck!

Curries are such good dishes to make when you’re on a  budget or time poor and in need of something that will get that metabolism going. This one is packed with vegetables and spices so is a great all-rounder for when you want to get all your nutrients in and stay on top of your healthy meal plan.

Potatoes are a great addition to any curry, helping your curry sauce thicken and adding lots of texture. They’re also great in the classic Massaman Curry for those of you who venture to Thai cuisine for your curry fix. Cauliflower is such a superfood as it is and is welcome in any healthy meal you’re making if it fit the bill.

I also added some peas and green beans as they are a great filler for any curry. You can add other greens like snap peas, mange tout or baby broccoli too if you like 

Another great thing about this dish is that you don’t need to add a rice or noodle side-dish due to the presence of the potato and cauliflower. Now that’s not to say you can’t either – go for it if you want 

The great thing about a home-made curry is you can make it as mild or as spicy as you like so make sure to play around with the seasoning until your happy. Be careful too though as the flavour will develop as the curry cooks so try it intermittently to make sure it doesn’t get too hot for your taste buds.

Keep this in the fridge for up to 3 days and you can freeze it off too if you don’t think you’ll get through it all in this space of time. It defrosts quickly and reheats well so is an all-round great recipe for the quick and convenient health-at-home approach.

As always, enjoy my dears! xX

Ingredients

100ml Vegetable Stock in Water
1 Brown onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. Tomato Puree
1 Large Cauliflower, broken into florets
1 Tbsp. Curry Powder
8 Baby Potatoes, quartered
1 cup Frozen Peas
1 cup Green Beans
1/2 Red Chilli, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Add the chopped onions and crushed garlic to a heated, oiled pot on the hob and cook until the start to brown and are aromatic (about 1-2 minutes).
Add the stock water to the pot and bring to the boil.
Reduce to a low heat once bubbling.
Add the cauliflower florets, diced potatoes and curry powder to the pot and stir thoroughly.
Feel free to add a pinch of your favourite spices at this point too – maybe some chilli flakes for an extra kick?
Let the curry mix fuse and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato purée and some more water if desired, stir through and leave to cook on low for about 10-15 minutes.
Do some taste testing during this time and add any seasoning you want to reach the perfect flavour.
Right at the end, add the peas, green beans and chopped red chilli.
Let these heat through for a couple of minutes and then remove the pot from the heat.
Your curry is now ready to serve-straight from pot to plate!

 

Roast Vegetable Lasagne

Lasagne is one of my all-time favourites comfort foods. It’s hearty and filling and packed with flavour. It’s a great one to make for meal prep too as it freezes well and one large lasagne tray can give you about 6 portions – ideal!

I have been packing in the carbs since the weather turned, I know I know, I’m so ashamed but I couldn’t fight the cravings any longer and these cold winter nights were just asking for it. So I wanted to balance out the badness a bit by adding more vegetables.

I tried a gorgeous Mediterranean lasagne in the Happy Pear restaurant during the summer and I also make a mean zucchini lasagne so I started the thought process with both of these ideas and the below was their love child.

A colourful combo of roast veg, tomato and white sauce and lots of cheese, this vegetarian lasagne alternative is definitely a Winning Winter Warmer of a meal.

It’s also economical to buy with all the ingredients coming to about €10 and its quick and simple to put together.

A basic jar of tomato sauce will do if you’re not up to making your own and I’ve also put in some different ways to create your own white sauce from scratch too if you want to keep up the healthy buzz.

I would also recommend using parmesan cheese to bank the calories but feel free to drown it in mozzarella if you so please. These sub-zero temperatures leave a little extra room for the good stuff 😉

I served mine with a few handfuls of spinach leaves and a drizzle of balsamic which went really well as a side. There’s loads going on in this dish though so it can be served on its own too if you want.

A lot of the recipes I was researching included eggplant but I’m not a fan so I didn’t use it but if you want to mix it up a little, there’s plenty more vegetables like eggplant you can use.

Whatever way you decide to make it, this dish is going to taste great and leave you feeling warm and full – enjoy!

 

Ingredients

2 Red onions, chopped into large wedges
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Pepper, chopped
2 Zucchini, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
500 ml Tomato Sauce*
500 ml White / Bechamel Sauce*
225 grams Lasagne Sheets
50 grams Parmesan, finely grated
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash of Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 220 Degrees Celsius.
In a large oven dish, mix all of the red onions, peppers and garlic with dash of oil and some seasoning.
Place the dish in the middle shelf of the oven and cook fr 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add some oil to a hot pan on the hob and fry the zucchini for about 4 minutes or until browned.
Transfer the fried zucchini to some kitchen towel and set aside.
After the 30 minutes, remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add the zucchini.
Lower the oven to 200 Degrees Celsius.
If you are making your own tomato and white sauces from, do so now.
Here are the links to my own homemade sauces if you want to give them a try (the jars are usually OK too so whatever suits!)

Tomato Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/clos-bolognese-sauce/

You can just leave out the chopped veg – mushrooms, carrots and peppers. This will make a delish tomato sauce!

White Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/zucchini-lasagne/

There are a few white sauce alternatives you can use in this recipe. I also found this great link from another blogger’s website for lots of other white sauce ideas;

https://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/04/white-sauce-10-ways/


 

When both lasagne sauces are ready, remove half of the vegetable mix from the oven dish and spread the remaining veggies in one layer in the dish.
Pour half of the tomato sauce over the first layer of veggies and add a layer of lasagne sheets.
Add half of your white sauce mix.
Add the remaining veggies and repeat the step of adding tomato sauce, lasagne sheets and remaining white sauce.
Sprinkle the lasagne with the parmesan.
Place the lasagne in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown.
Serve your delicious vegetable lasagne with some side salad or on its own, whatever way you want – there is so much going on in this dish!

 

Metabolic Monday – Mexican Bean Chilli

This Bank Holiday Monday was about getting super productive in the kitchen for me. Trying to find the time and energy to cook up all the yummy ideas that have been swirling around in my head the last few weeks has been next to impossible so I promised myself I would take this Halloween Day and dedicate it to my darling little Countertop that I love so much.

It’s funny, I’ve missed being able to post fun photos and yummy recipes the past couple of weeks and I have had the best day just cooking away in the kitchen today, splashing sauce everywhere and stirring in all this love I have for cooking into the big pot on the hob.

It’s so great to enjoy something so good for you this much, I really do love creating and cooking these meal ideas and I especially love sharing them with you all. I’ve felt so guilty the last couple of weeks about how little time I could give to the Countertop so today really was a good day. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend the day off.

I wanted my theme of recipes today to keep us all hot and fired up now that “Winter Is Coming” 🙂 My grocery shop this morning had lots of chillis and peppers and metabolism-friendly vegetables and there was an array of yellows, oranges and reds covering my trolley – the perfect colour scheme for the last day of Autumn and of course, Halloween.

A cheeky weekend of fun and food requires a sincere apology to my gut-health and I thought what better way to say sorry but with a nice, spicy vegetarian chilli. Lots of plant-based goodness combined in a large pot with lots of spice and flavour – the digestive system’s dream!

If you fancy a meat free feast that will leave you all fired up then give this baby a lash!!

Ingredients

1 large Brown Onion, chopped
½ Red Chilli, finely sliced
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
50 ml Vegetable Stock in Water
½ tsp. Chilli Powder (personal preference here)
1 Tbsp. Tomato Puree
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1 400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 400g can Red Kidney Beans
1 400g can Cannellini Beans
2 Carrots, sliced
1 Red Pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Pepper, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Method

Heat the stock water in a large pot on the hob.
Saute the onion, garlic and fresh chilli in the stock water for about 5 minutes.
Add your tomato puree, paprika and chilli powder to the mix and stir for about two minutes.
Pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes, rinsed and drained beans and sliced vegetables.
Stir the whole lot until all the flavour are combined together.
Add some salt and pepper to taste to your liking (add more chilli if you’re like me and cant get enough).
Lower the heat on the hob, cover your chilli pot and let the mix simmer for about 20-30 minutes – until the veggies are tender.

This dish is absolutely packed with fiber and carbohydrate (don’t worry, it’s the good kind you get from your veggies) so I haven’t served it with anything – just chomping down on a nice big bowl of chilli here while I type this but if you do want to add a little something, I would recommend serving it with some brown rice.

Almond and Red Pepper Sauce

No matter how healthy I eat, there is nothing that can stop my hankering for pasta when I’m feeling the effects of an alcohol-filled Saturday night with my girls. This weekend we celebrated the first girl of our group’s Hen Weekend, it’s hard to believe one of us will be walking down the aisle in a few weeks and oh did we celebrate!

So pasta was on the brain for most of today and as usual, I caved and fired up that fusilli. To ease the guilt somewhat, I decided to team it up with a healthy, homemade pasta sauce and I must say, I was pretty impressed with the end result. Adding almonds to the mix gave this sauce a really creamy finish and gave me the feeling I was seriously indulging in a cream-based pasta sauce when really it was nothing of the sort.

I’m really chuffed with this one actually and I’m sure you will be too if you give it a try. Very simple and really yum – here is my Almond and Red Pepper Sauce.

Ingredients

2 Red Peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 clove Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
60 grams Almonds
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a frying pan.
Once hot, add garlic and peppers to the pan and coo for about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the peppers cool for about 10 minutes.
Add all of your ingredients including the garlic and peppers to a food blender, Nutribullet or you can use a hand blender and puree the entire mix until smooth and creamy.
Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions and drain.
Put cooked pasta back into the pot it was cooked in and pour in your pepper sauce.
Heat the sauce through until piping hot and serve.

This sauce can also be served as a dip too. I chopped up some carrots and had a dip and it was pretty delish!

Honey Soy Chicken

So we are well into Autumn at this stage and I have lots of new recipes I want to share with you all. I’ll admit I have been a bit neglectful of my Countertop as life has been pretty hectic the last couple of weeks. But the dust has now settled and I am back sharing with you all my latest flavour favourites.
We all associate Autumn and Winter with big steamy bowls of stew and soup and as much as I love these kinds of dishes and have shared my take on some of these with you already, I thought I would take a little detour and share with you one of my top ten favourite meals. I know my Aussie readers will like this one as Japanese food is so popular on that side of the world and you guys are also just coming into your Summer months and wont be cooking any soups any time soon! We are not jealous at all over here are we??!! 

It’s clear to you guys by now that I am a bit obsessed with Asian food. The flavours are amazing and they’re usually very easy and economical to cook so for me, it makes so much sense to love this food!
Although I have yet to master Japanese dishes, this one I found to be so easy and just so good to taste! Honey Soy Chicken or Teriyaki Chicken upholds the Japanese cooking ethos perfectly with clean, basic flavours and ingredients that combine to give you an amazing fusion of flavour and taste with the finished product. I was so pleasantly surprised when I started researching this dish at how simple and minimal the ingredients were.

It makes for a great meal prep dish as it has a great balance of protein, carbs, fats and lots of veggies. I made 5 portions and froze them off, taking one out each night for a week of work and it was such a nice lunch! Plenty of envious faces in the canteen.

This is a good one for newbies at the meal prep game or even the Asian cooking game as the flavours are not too overpowering or spicy.

All in all its just a fab dish and you just have to try it out for yourselves!!
As always, I would love and feedback you might have or photos of your finished product so don’t be shy!

Ingredients

450 grams skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts
1 clove garlic, crushed
200 ml Soy Sauce
90 ml Honey
3 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds
2 cups Brocolli Florets
1 Green Pepper, sliced
1 Red Pepper, sliced
1 Brown Onion, sliced
200 grams Brown Rice, uncooked
100 grams Red and Black Quinoa Mix, uncooked
Dash Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

In separate pots on the hob, follow the instructions on both the brown rice and quinoa mix and cook both accordingly.
Heat the olive oil on a large frying pan or wok.
While waiting for the oil to heat, dice your chicken fillets into nice, bite size pieces.
Add the chicken to the frying pan and start to cook, stirring consistently.
Add the crushed garlic, salt and pepper to the chicken.
As the chicken starts to brown, add the soy sauce, honey and sesame seeds to the pan and stir to evenly distribute.
Continue to cook until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
Using a tongs, remove your chicken pieces but keep the honey soy sauce in the pan.
Reduce the heat to low.
Check your rice and quinoa, how are they doing?
Add your peppers, onion and broccoli to the pan and toss through the sauce to coat evenly.
If the chicken drank up a lot of the sauce, feel free to add a dash more of both the soy sauce and honey.
If the pan you are using has a lid, cover your pan and leave to steam/simmer for about 5 minutes.
If it doesn’t have a lid, transfer the whole mix to a pot that does have a lid and then steam/simmer for about 5 minutes.
The trick is to cook the veg for as little as possible to retain as much nutrition as possible.
As soon as they soften, remove from the heat.
Your rice and quinoa should be also done by now.
Add the quinoa with some salt and pepper to taste to the rice and mix thoroughly.
Quinoa and brown rice are a brilliant combination of carbs to keep you feeling full of fiber and energy.

The quantity of ingredients above should get you about 4-6 portions of this delicious dish.
Fill either your plate or lunchbox with ¼ rice, ¼ chicken and ½ veg and you have got yourself a well balanced and seriously tasty meal.

Bangin’ Blackbean Burgers

The idea for this recipe came from a few different sources over the past couple of weeks.

My sister and I visited The Happy Pear café in Greystones, Co. Wicklow a few weeks ago where they were being served and although I didn’t order one on my visit, I saw plenty of other people get them and they didn’t last long on their plates.

I’ve also been looking into ways to introduce new sources of protein other than chicken and turkey onto my plate and plant-based proteins and legumes kept popping up in my research.

This research also ties in with the new list of foods I can and can’t have due to my extensive food allergies and it ticks all the boxes!

Several Food Bloggers that I admire and take inspiration from have also tried their hand at this recipe so I figured I’d review several versions of this recipe and create my own.

 So I had the packet of black beans sitting in the pantry for the last couple of weeks and just couldn’t seem to find an appropriate time to try these bad boys out. The last few weeks and especially weekends have been pretty hectic for me with work and social plans and I wanted to dedicate my whole self to this experiment. The perfect opportunity came up at the weekend when a long lost friend made last minute plans for a flying visit and I decided to treat her to something special and homemade instead of heading out for dinner. I spent most of the Saturday morning prepping and tasting and setting and they were ready to cook just in time for my dear friend to arrive.

 We enjoyed the burgers with a lovely spiralized salad, sweet potato fries and a cool, crisp glass of white wine while we caught up with each other.

They were absolutely delicious if I do say so myself and I had a really strong feeling of fullness when I was finished, which is always a good sign!

IMG_1389

Ingredients

200 grams dried black beans, rinsed and strained
1 Litre of boiling water
Dash of Olive Oil
1 medium – large brown onion
1 clove Garlic
2 Carrots
½ cup almond flour, rolled oats, breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
½ Tsp. Ground Coriander
½ Tsp. Chili Flakes
¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste

To Serve:
Sliced tomato, grated cheddar, gem lettuce leaves, red onion, burger bun or whatever other condiments you like to serve with a burger patty.

Method

Add rinsed black beans to a large pot on the hob, add water and cook the black beans according to the packet instructions.
While waiting for the black beans to cook, chop the onion and garlic very finely and place to one side.
Shred or grate the carrots and also place to one side separate to the onion and garlic.
Combine herbs and spices in a small bowl and mix together.
Heat olive oil on a frying pan and once hot, add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
Once the onion is translucent, add shredded carrots and spice mix and cook until carrots are soft.
Remove pan from the heat.
When the black beans are cooked, rinse and drain and pour into a large mixing bowl.
Mash the black beans using a potato masher and add the contents of the frying pan.
Also add the soy sauce and almond flour/rolled oats and combine the entire mix thoroughly and evenly.
Create 4-6 burger patties depending on how big you want them by taking a large chunk of the mix and forming the patty in your hand.
Wrap each patty in cling film and place in the fridge for about 1 – ½ hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.
When ready, heat some oil on a frying pan again and cook each patty for about 4-5 minutes each side.
Once cooked and heated through, remove from the heat and serve as desired.

Innocent Ice Cream

I know this post is a bit late to the party as the weather has already begun to change on us but ice cream is nice no matter what time of year, let’s be honest!
I am a big ice cream fan, it’s one of the only deserts I actually considering ordering if I’m out for dinner and have any room left.
I have also been trying to brainstorm fun ways to get my 5 a day and to also adhere to my restricted food allowance.
As most dairy is now off limits for me, I thought I would use almond milk and banana as an alternative to yoghurt and regular ice cream and I was pretty chuffed with the results.
I am presently obsessed with pineapple and find myself buying a fresh one almost every week to snack on.

Pineapple is virtually fat free with 1mg of fat per 100 grams of pineapple and only 50 calories.
It is also high in fibre and Vitamin C which makes it an all-round good fruit to have.
When you combine it with banana and almond milk, you’re creating a pretty healthy and guilt free treat that tastes like it should be far naughtier.

So if you have 5 minutes to spare, why not give it a crack?

Ingredients

½ Sliced Banana, frozen
2 cups chopped Pineapple, frozen
½ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

Method

Take banana and pineapple out of the freezer and let it soften slightly for about 20 – 30 minutes
Pop all 3 ingredients into the food blender, Nutribullet or use your hand blender (a recent phenomenon for me).
Combine all the ingredients until smooth and creamy – or until it resembles ice cream.
Scoop into a desert bowl and enjoy.

Image result for pineapple ice cream

Simple, quick and tastes amazing!!

Hot Salmon Salad

I have been eating copious amounts of chicken recently so I wanted to switch over to something lighter for a change and I thus thought of salmon fillets. Salmon is one of the only fish I can now have on my new list of allowed foods so I wanted to play around with it a bit and not just steam it with some veg every day.
Salmon is such a great protein to put on your plate with its vast amount of nutritional value and super health benefits. Salmon’s high omega 3 content is one of its most notable attributes. Omega 3 fatty acids contribute to the healthy function of our brain with salmon being commonly referred to as “Brain Food”. This can also assist with the healthy function of the cardiovascular system, bone joints and an overall feeling of wellness.
Oily Fish that are high in omega 3 such as salmon are also said to contribute to the reduction of heart disease, cancer, depression, high blood pressure and arthritis.

Salmon is also crazy high in protein so it is an excellent choice when filling your plate with a healthy meal that will fuel you and keep you full for hours. There are 20 grams of protein in every 100 grams of salmon which is pretty awesome!
I have to say, in this recipe I cooked up 250 grams of salmon and had to divide the finished meal into two portions as I was absolutely full to the brim half way through! Anyone who eats with me will tell you that’s pretty hard to accomplish!

So with all my recipes, I wanted to get a bit creative but make sure I would be satisfied and full after I’d eaten. I also had to be mindful that I had to stick to the list of allowed foods to make this a dish I could share with you all but also enjoy myself as part of my diet.

The end result was my Hot Salmon Salad that was really delicious, easy to make, cheap to shop for and kept me full all evening – everything Clodagh’s Countertop is about! Hope you like it 😉

Ingredients

125 gram approx. fresh Salmon Fillet
100 grams dried Quinoa*
300 ml Vegetable Stock
1 ½ cup Frozen or Fresh Spinach
½ Fresh Red Chili
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

*I actually used the Tesco 60 second microwavable pouch of red quinoa and bulgur wheat for this and it worked perfectly but use the above size portion if you are cooking from scratch.

Method

In a pot, bring 300 ml vegetable stock to the boil and add the dried quinoa.
Cook quinoa in the stock as per packet instructions until all the water has been absorbed.
While the quinoa is cooking, steam the salmon fillet until cooked through.
I use the microwave steam bags for about 4 ½ minutes with some lemon juice but you can also use the more conventional method of using the steam pot on the hob.
To do so, add some water to a pot and place the steam pot over the water.
Carefully place the salmon fillet on the base of the steam pot above the boiling water and place a lid over the steam pot.
Steam the salmon fillet for about 5 minutes or until cooked through fully.
If using frozen spinach, add this to a pot of boiling water on the hob and cook through for about 3-4 minutes. Drain.
If using fresh spinach, also add to a pot of boiling water but only cook for about 1-2 minutes and drain.
In a bowl, add the cooked quinoa, salmon and drained spinach.
Add soy sauce and seasoning and toss until evenly mixed.
Thinly slice the red chili and deseed then garnish your salad with it.

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This can be enjoyed immediately and piping hot and can also be eaten later when warm or even cold – whatever you fancy!