Roast Garlic & Parmesan Quinoa

So you’re probably catching on to my obsession with quinoa but it’s just soooo versatile and ridiculously yum!
It’s such a good grain to use and is so filling so it’s a great substitute to other white foods you might be used to using like pasta and white rice.

This recipe is a good one as you can use it as a side to your protein for a main dish, have it as a snack or add some more ingredients to it to make it a main meal of its own.
Like I said, quinoa is a very versatile ingredient so don’t be afraid to get imaginative and see what you can come up with.

Ingredients

4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
100 grams Quinoa, uncooked
300 ml Vegetable Stock
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan
1 Cup Baby Spinach, chopped (optional)
1 Tsp. Olive Oil

Method

Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a pot.
Add uncooked quinoa and stir through.
Once bubbling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer the quinoa for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil on a pan and add the chopped garlic.
Cook the garlic until brown and aromatic.
After the twenty minutes, remove the lid from the quinoa pot and leave it to stand for 10 minutes to absorb the remaining stock.
Use a fork to fluff the quinoa and then transfer from the pot to the pan with the garlic.
Heat up the pan again and add the spinach and parmesan and stir thoroughly until the mix has been cooked through.
Quinoa can be eaten hot or cold but this particular dish is best served hot.
You could maybe enjoy it with a grilled chicken breast or salmon darn and some steamed greens.
It’s all about personal preference for your serving suggestion!

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Infused Olive Oils

Olive oil is one of the good ones, full of the good fats and an essential cooking product for the healthy chef.

To heat on the pan when cooking or drizzle over salad as a dressing alternative, its just something you need to have in the cupboard.
A great way to enjoy olive oil more and use it more diversely is to infuse it with your favourite herbs and spices.
This is just a quick post to show you how to create some really interesting flavours that you can then add to your favourite cooked dishes and especially salads.
Essentially all you need is a big bottle of good quality olive oil, some smaller glass bottles or jars and your desired ingredients to add to the oil.
Below is the guide for:

Chili Oil
Garlic Oil
Basil Oil
Rosemary Oil

Basil Oil
3-4 sprigs fresh Basil
½ cup olive oil

Rosemary Oil
3-4 sprigs Rosemary
½ cup olive oil

Chili Oil
1 tbsp Red Chili Flakes
1 to 2 whole, dried Thai chilies
½ cup olive oil

For each of the above ingredients, the recipe is pretty simple.
Stuff your herb or chili into the bottle or jar you are going to use.
Warm the olive oil on a pan until it starts to bubble slightly.
Ten pour the oil into the jar and seal tightly.
Store in the fridge overnight and it will be ready to use.

Garlic Oil
4 cloves Garlic, peeled
Juice from ¼ lemon
1 to 2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Garlic infused oil is a bit more complex to put together as uncooked garlic can cause food poisoning.
So, half your garlic cloves steep them in the lemon juice.
Then roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Add the cloves to a small airtight container and pour the oil over the cloves until they are covered in oil.
Refrigerate overnight and then strain the oil into a jar or bottle and seal.
Do not add the garlic cloves to the bottle.

These oils can be used and stored for about 10-14 days. I would recommend storing them in the fridge also.

Homemade Fit Food – Granola

Granola is a really good contributor to a healthy diet – but only if its not loaded with sugar like so many brands available on the market now.
I remember thinking I was only brilliant having granola with my yogurt instead of cereal but it can pretty scary when you read the packet and see what’s actually in there.
So to save myself the bother, I experimented around in the kitchen instead and have started to make my own so I know exactly whats gone into it and I’m not loading up on hidden sugars.
Granola is one of those foods that you can keep versatile, there’s no set list of ingredients you have to abide by.
Nuts and seeds would be my main additions but that’s not to say you can’t use dried fruits among other ingredients, that’s just my personal preference.
Anyway, here is a quick breakdown of how I make my own granola. Hopefully it will inspire you to throw some of your own together for an energy filled breakfast.

Ingredients

1 cup Porridge Oats
1/4 cup Chopped Almonds
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup mix of Chia, Flax and Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Dried Goji Berries
1/4 cup Raisins/Sultanas
1/2 cup Honey

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees C.
Pour the porridge oats, almonds and all your seeds into a bowl and mix around.
On some greased parchment paper on an oven tray, pour out the oast and seed mix to make one layer.
Place the oven tray into the middle shelf of the oven and toast your mix for about 10-15 minutes or until the mix becomes golden brown.
Transfer your oat and seed mix back into a bowl and add the berries, raisins and honey.
Evenly coat the mix with the honey and spread back out onto a flat dish.
Leave to cool and set in the fridge for a couple of hours and then move your granola into an aitight container.

This will keep for a good few days and can be used to mix through some yogurt for a really yummy breakfast.

Homemade Hummus

When making small changes to your diet to become healthier, another ideal food to add to the menu is Hummus. Hummus is mainly made from Chick Peas that are packed with protein, fibre and omega 3.
You can use it as a trusty condiment for snacks or as an alternative dip or side sauce for more substantial meals. One of the most well known ways to have hummus is with carrot batons but I also like to use it as an alternative to mayonnaise or butter on (porridge) bread, crackers, wraps. My favourite way to have it is with Falafel as a side sauce. The two are a match made in heaven.

You can also vary the flavours of hummus you have if you want to keep it interesting and enticing.
Flavours such as garlic & lemon, roast carrot, red pepper and my favourite, beetroot, are just some examples of how you can spice it up.

Here are the basic instructions to make it and I’ll include some tips on how to add the extra flavours further down.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas, rinsed
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp. Tahini
Pinch of Ground Cumin
1.5 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Simply combine all these ingredients into a food processor, blender or Nutribullet
and whizz until you reach the consistency you want.
You may need to add a tipple more of water or olive oil so keep going until you’re happy with how it looks.
Do a taste test and see if you want to add a bit more seasoning, its totes up to you how you want it to taste!

If you want to mix it up and make some beautifully coloured and flavoured hummus to show off, the recipe is easy to add to.

For roast carrot, pepper or beetroot hummus, simply chop up your chosen vegetable into small chunks, spread out on a baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes.
After you have made your base hummus, add the roast veg to the mixer and whizz it through.

For lemon & garlic hummus or sundried tomato and basil, again just chop up your desired ingredients and add them to the base hummus to combine.

Once you’ve made the base recipe, its hard to go wrong with adding different flavours so have some fun with it and enjoy the end result!

The Salad Bar – Tomato & Chick Pea Salad

This is such a good On-The-Go salad to have made up or it can be used as a side dish to a main meal.It takes 5 minutes to put together and tastes fab. Its super filling and packed with fibre too.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas
6 small – medium Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Sprig of Fresh Parsley

Method

Empty the tin of chick peas into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Leave to one side and let the excess water dry off.
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and add to a large mixing bowl.
Finely chop the fresh parsley and add to the bowl along with the pepper and turmeric.
Add the chick peas and the olive oil to the bowl now and then mix it all up so that your seasoning and oil covers the
tomatoes and chick peas evenly.
Easy Peasy!

The Slow Cooker Series – Nepalese Lentil Curry

This curry takes a bit more work than most of my recipes but its one I really want to share.
I went to Nepal in 2015 and as amazing as the views and the people and everything else that the country had to offer were,
the recipe for this dish is one of the best things I took away with me from that trip.
Known as Dahl Makhani in Nepal, this lentil curry is a staple dish to the people there and it just so happens its one of the most delicious dishes I have ever tasted.
I made it my mission when I came home last year to perfect this dish and create something special to keep with me from my short time spent there.
I use my Slow Cooker for this dish as I just think curries do so well when cooked over a long amount of time – slow and low.
If you don’t have a slow cooker don’t worry, I’ll put the regular temperatures and times at the bottom for your reference.
This dish really is so special and I really urge you to give it a go!

Remember this is a Sow Cooker recipe so you might want to make it in the morning or afternoon so that it’s ready in time for dinner (6-8 hours).

Ingredients

2 cups Black Lentils / Black Dahl
6 cups water
1/2 cup tinned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
150 grams tomato puree
2 Tsp. Cumin Seeds
1 Tsp. Coriander Seeds
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Garam Masala
1 Tsp. Fenugreek Seeds
2 Dried Red Chilis
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
4 thumb piece of Ginger
2 Tsp. Salt
2 fresh Green Chilis
30 gram Real Butter
100 ml Greek Yogurt

Method

IMPORTANT: You need to soak your lentils overnight. Rinse them until the water runs clear and leave to soak in a bowl overnight.
Add the soaked lentils along with 6 cups of water to the Slow Cooker and cook on low for 4 hours until soft.
Once soft, mash the lentils with a potato masher of give them a quick whizz with a hand blender to break them up until they give a creamy texture.
Using a pestle and mortar, food processor or coffee grinder (I use my Nutriullet milling blade), grind your cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black pepper and dried red chillies into a finee powdery paste.
When you’re happy with that, add your spice mixture to the lentils and stir through.
Back in the food processor or pestle and mortar; add the garlic and ginger with about a teaspoon of water and combine to make a paste.
Pour in your rinsed kidney beans and your garlic and ginger paste to the slow cooker along with the tomato puree, salt, butter and fresh green chilis (cut in half).
When everything has been stirred together, add enough water so that there is about 1/2 an inch of water covering the mix.
Dont worry if it looks too watery, the curry mix will drink it up.
Leave the curry to cook away on low for about 2-4 hours depending on how much time you have, everything is pretty much cooked by now and you cant overcook a curry this way – the longer the better!
Check in on it maybe every 30 minutes to an hour for a quick stir.
Do a little taste test each time to determine if you need to add a little bt more of anything.
About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, stir through the Greek yogurt and maybe a little bit more butter if you like.
This dish goes really well with basmati rice or naan bread but serve it with whatever you fancy.
You should have enough for about 8 serves so it’s a great meal prep dish or else you can show off to your friends if they’re over for dinner.
I’ve made this for quite a few people now because I’m so eager to share it and it’s been empty bowls all ’round.

*If you dont have a Slow Cooker you can still create this dish on the hob in a large pot.
Cook on low (1 or 2) and just cook for half the time of the Slow Cooker e.g 4 hours on the Slow Cooker is 2 hours on the hob.
Instead of adding 6 cups of water to the lentils at the beginning, add just enough to cover the lentils by about an inch but be sure to keep an eye on them adding a tipple of water now and then when neccessary.
The same applies for after you add the spice mix and kidney beans until the last hour or so when you just add a trickle and the water is almost fully absorbed before you add the yogurt.
Make sure you dont let it get too watery but if you do, just take some of the water out with a ladle or something – get creative (I had to do it plenty of times until I perfected it so dont panic).

I’d love to know your feedback on this one if you do attempt it so make sure to leave a comment!

Homemade Fit Food – Granola Bites

Another bangin’ treat bursting with energy and flavour, these granola bites are as quick to make as they will
be to eat. As usual, the optional extras can be whatever you fancy or whatever you have handy in the pantry.
They are also a no-bake recipe so they’re ideal for those who are time poor. I actually put them together in the time it took to boil the kettle and make a cuppa.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (toasted) porridge oats
1 cup raisins or sultanas or 50/50
1/2 cup Almonds, chopped
1/2 cup Hazelnuts
1/2 cup Mixed Seeds
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Honey
(any optional extras e.g. chocolate chips, walnuts, goji berries, dried cranberries, peanuts etc)

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Method

If you are toasting your oats, preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C and pour the oats onto some greased parchment paper.
Put the paper on an oven tray and pop in the oven once preheated for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
If you are not toasting the oats, skip to the following step:
Pour oats, hazelnuts, almonds, raisins/sultanas and mixed seeds into a large mixing bowl.
On a low heat, warm both the honey and peanut butter together in a pot and mix together.
Once combined, pour the mixture into the mixing bowl and mix all of the ingredients evenly.
Add the chocolate chips at the end and mix through (the warm honey and peanut butter will start to melt the choc-chips if you add them too early).
Once you’re happy with the mixture, line an appropriate sized baking dish with parchment paper and transfer the mix onto the paper in the dish.
Press firmly down on the mix to fill up any cracks and gaps and smooth out evenly.
Keep pressing until it’s fully compressed.
Cover the dish with cling film and pop in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.
*After about an hour, I melted some dark chocolate in a pot and poured it over the top of the bar for extra yumminess.
Once fully chilled and set, remove from the dish and cut up your bites into whatever size you like.
I did about 1 inch X 1 inch so I could make loads and share them out.
These guys will be good to store for a few days as there is very little to them.
Keep stored in the fridge in a lunchbox to make them last.

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Almond Flour

Almond flour is fast becoming a go-to alternative to regular flour for many dishes that require some element of the ingredient, most notably breadcrumbs or flour.

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A much better alternative, almond flour or almond meal is so simple to make and provides far more nutrition to your dish than your every day white or brown flour.
It is also suitable as a part of a gluten free or low carbohydrate diet as it is literally just almonds.
Depending on what kitchen appliances are available to you, the simple method requires you to mill your almonds until you reach a flour-like consistency.
I use the Nutribullet with the milling blade to make mine but a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder are also suitable.

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Check out my recipe for Chicken Dippers using a spiced and seasoned almond flour to coat the chicken strips. They are absolutely delish and taste a lot naughtier than they actually are.

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Any of my recipes that have breadcrumbs or flour as an ingredient can use almond flour as an alternative but it is totally up to you which one you want to use.

I personally try to always use the almond flour just because Bread and I are not friends since I entered my mid-twenties.

What’s In Clodagh’s Cupboard?

To stay consistent with eating healthy when you’re on-the-go, it’s important to keep your pantry or cupboard stacked with handy, go-to items.

This way, you’ll always have something on hand even when the fridge shelf is looking a bit bare (it’s usually the week for payday for me, sometimes I have sleep for dinner).

The trick is to stay organised and have enough of the essentials on hand at all times. You can build up your collection a little bit over each trip to the supermarket or go all guns blazing and dedicate one trip to a full sweep.

A stocked pantry also helps me to make all my own sauces and seasonings so I’m less likely to reach for the flavoured powder packets and jars of sauce.

I’m also free to play around more and create some really interesting and delicious flavours by adding pinches of this and dashes of that as I go.

Below is a breakdown of what lives in my cupboard;

Welcome

 Dried Herbs and Spices

Parsley
Coriander
Basil
Chilli Flakes
Cayenne Pepper
Smoked Paprika
Paprika
Ginger
Turmeric
Garlic
Cumin Seeds
Ground Cumin
Cardamon Pods
Fenugreek
Ground Coriander
Ground Black Pepper
Salt

Stock Cubes are a great essential to have on hand but it’s important
to buy a good quality stock.
I have endless cubes of vegetable, chicken and beef stock cubes sitting on the shelf and
use them with almost all of my dishes whether it be for
dry seasoning or mixed with boiling water.

 Tinned Goods

Chick Peas
Mixed Beans
Chopped Tomatoes
Tuna in water or brine
Coconut Milk
Kidney Beans

Soup tins are good to have in an emergency as a back-up meal and also as additions for main meals such as chicken and broccoli bake (see main meals for recipe).

 Jars

Passata
Tahini
Thai Green Curry Paste (best to make your own from scratch but always handy to have if you are time poor. See my recipe for details).
Soy Sauce
Fish Sauce
Barbeque Sauce
Sweet chilli sauce
Franks Hot Sauce (Original)
Honey
Gravy Granules

herbsandspices

 Nuts, Seeds & Grains

Quinoa
Cous Cous
4 Seed Mix
Pumpkin Seeds
Linseed
Brown Rice
Brown Pasta
Medium Noodles (great for a quick stir fry)
Almonds
Walnuts
Hazelnuts

 Bits and Bobs

Large bag of porridge oats (used for so many of my recipes as you will come to see)
Brown flour
Baking soda
Artificial sweetener
Brown sugar
Green tea
Chamomile Tea
Dark chocolate chips
Pitted Dates
Dried Figs
Sultanas
Balsamic Vinegar
Good quality Olive Oil

 This list is not exhaustive and your pantry will certainly have more and differentiating flavoursome inhabitants to mine.

You can simply use this list for some inspo or to add to your already packed pantry. It’s totally down to you!