Now that the New Year is in full swing, you’ve probably already firmly set your customary resolutions. Perhaps you’d like to try and eat healthier, exercise more, or maybe you’ve bookmarked a few blogs and cook books and you’re busting to get back into the kitchen and reacquaint yourself with your food processor?
Healthy cooking can be a breeze when you have time on your hands, the luxury of being able to source fresh ingredients and the desire to cook. The challenge is striking the balance between affordability and quality, ensuring you’re not spending all your free time preparing food and finding recipes that are not only convenient and easy on the wallet, but simple to make with ordinary nutritious ingredients.
So often we’re strongly encouraged to buy an ingredient or health product because it’s good for you, or because someone has told you that it’s healthy, but healthy eating shouldn’t be about strategically placed health claims. It is really just about simplicity and keeping it real. Buying fresh ingredients in their truest form and preparing them to your liking is the key to being healthy as is leaving packeted processed foods with a string of unfavourable ingredients on the shelf.
When it comes to ‘healthy eating’ why not make this year, the year to discover what YOU believe in? Make a stand to eat by your own rules, your way, without self-doubt or others trying to persuade you otherwise?
In the new year, instead of being overly health obsessed and bounding in with gusto to try the next “super berry from the Amazon” or being hoodwinked by a more restrictive, bigger, better fad diet, you know the ones that hustle, race and elbow each other out of the way to weasel their way into your apprehensions and anxieties faster. Maybe it’s time to begin to believe in you and your inner sense of self knowing and wisdom when it comes to being healthy?
I believe that finding real food that makes you feel happier, more energised, alive and other adverbs can be produced easily without all of the punchlines and sensationalism. It certainly feels like the right time to throw 2014’s faddish ‘optimal’ diets out the door, broaden your horizons and do what feels right for you. If that means natural boosters or meal replacement shakes to energise you, thats ok too.
Healthy eating is not about deprivation and it doesn’t mean that yummy dishes like nachos need to be abolished. These angelic nachos from my new book Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian are an easy to make healthy alternative to traditional nachos that are often laden with dodgy ingredients and leave you feeling bloated afterwards. I’ve reinvented traditional nachos to give them a renewed sense of freedom that the new year can bring. Nachos can be enjoyed regardless of how old you are, in fact they’re the kind of dish which improves with age; much like kombucha, good cheese or Dominic West. Yes really. 🙂
By now I’m sure you’re well aware of the vices of deep fried store bought tortilla chips, each mouthful packed with unnecessary amounts of troublesome ingredients in the form of inflammatory fats and salt. In contrast, these speedy free-spirited nachos only take a few minutes to prepare and simply bung into a mixing bowl before baking.
Whilst they’re in the oven getting all toasty and crispy, it’s the perfect time to hover in the kitchen and create the Cashew Sour Cream and Creamy Avocado Dressing. Both avocado and cashews are high in the essential good fats and dietary fibre our body needs to function.
It takes two to taco...
Preparation is the time to get your creative juices flowing. When serving, I like to lay mine out on a wooden chopping board with all the various components. Scatter chips in a basket, then decorate your board with small bowls of diced tomatoes and cucumber, Cashew Sour Cream and Creamy Avocado Dressing, ready for a free-for-all. If you’re a messy cook, why not place lashings of each of the ingredients into a communal serving dish, ready for everybody to enjoy.
Getting your hands dirty, avo and salsa dropping onto your t-shirt and sour cream being everywhere but in your mouth is a pre-requisite for devouring.
WF DF GF SF VEG
To veganise this recipe, substitute the egg with 3 tablespoons ground or whole chia or flaxseeds soaked in 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) of water for 15 minutes.
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) almond meal
- 1 large organic egg
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- To make the chips, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
- Place all the chip ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough.
- Place the dough on a clean work surface between two pieces of baking paper. Roll the dough out until it is 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick.
- Remove the top piece of baking paper and transfer the dough and bottom piece of baking paper to a baking tray. Using a sharp knife, deeply score the dough every 3 cm (11/4 inch), then do the same in the opposite direction so you form squares.
- Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
- Allow to cool before breaking them apart.
- To assemble the nachos, place the Nachos chips on a chopping board, and top with the remaining ingredients.
- Any leftover chips will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Cashew Sour Cream
WF DF GF SF VEG VG
Makes 1 cup
- 155 g (51/2 oz/1 cup) raw, unsalted cashews
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 1 teaspoon extra
- 11/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- Soak the cashews for 2 hours in filtered water. Rinse and drain.
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor with 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) of filtered water and blend until smooth.
- You may need to add a little more filtered water to reach your desired consistency.
- This will keep for 2–3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Creamy Avocado Dressing
WF DF GF SF VEG VG
Makes 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup)
Avocados are uniquely decadent dwellers in the plant world. Silky, buttery and smooth, they
supply high fulfilment, even when eaten alone. Blended into a dressing, they offer your salad
a gorgeous pop of yellowy green and a burst of good fats that will moisturise your body from
the inside out.
- 1 avocado, peeled and stone removed
- 1 heaped teaspoon cumin powder
- juice of 1 large lime
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- big pinch of Celtic sea salt
- 1 tablespoon cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
- Blend all the ingredients except the olive oil with 2 tablespoons of filtered water in a food processor until
- With the motor still running, add the olive oil very slowly in a thin stream until the desired creaminess
- This will keep for 3–4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to serve