Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Low carb Christmas side dishes

I am feeling well and truly Christmassy at the moment, having spent the last week or so doing lots of things that made me feel extremely festive, including:

Christmas food shopping at Borough market in London

Spending evening wrapping presents and writing cards

Visiting a Christmas tree festival in a church

To name just a few!

All these activities have obviously got me thinking about food that will be festive but will also not be too high in carbs, though it's worth mentioning that I anticipate having quite a lot of carbs this Christmas both because I love Christmas and couldn't bear not too indulge but also because I will eating a lot of other people cooking and you can never guarantee what is in other peoples cooking.

Now, I am planning on doing separate posts on Christmas main dishes and party nibbles so this post will focus on side dishes. Though as you know with vegetarian food a main dish is not always quite as clear cut as all the food is pretty much comprised of vegetables so the meal tends to come together when all the different components are put together on the same plate. 

Keep reading for ideas that will be perfect for Christmas day and any meal this holiday...

Sprouts with buttered chestnuts and cranberries

This recipe is so delicious and you can of course add bacon or lardons for a non vegetarian version. Equally you can also substitute the butter for a vegan substitute for a vegan version. 

You will need:
  • 500g Brussell sprouts- trimmed 
  • 200g vacuum packed chestnuts 
  • 50g butter
  • A handful of cranberries- optional 
It's then very simple:
  • Boil a large pan of salted water 
  • Pop the sprouts in the pan and then boil for 5 minutes
  • Take the sprouts out, drain and then cover with cold water to stop them cooking. Repeat this a couple of times as they will warm the water up straight away the first time. You can of course cook for slightly longer if you like them very soft, but I prefer them to have some crunch. 
  • Add about 3/4 of the butter to a frying pan and add the chestnuts and the sprouts. 
  • Sauté together for about 5 minutes, add the cranberries for the last minute if you're using them
  • Put into a dish, season well and pop the last knob of butter on the top 
  • Enjoy!

Mashed cauliflower 

This recipe is so good and tastes so much like mashed potato that you really won't miss the potato at all! I add some roasted garlic but this is optional if you prefer a plainer taste- I just like garlic with everything!

You will need:
  • One large cauliflower broken into florets 
  • About 25g of butter- more if you like it richer- the amount you use really is optional. You can also use 2 tablespoons of olive oil to make the recipe vegan
  • A splash of double cream- this is optional but it will make it extra creamy!
  • A couple of roasted garlic cloves 
Then you prepare it basically in the same way that you would make mashed potato:

  • Put the cauliflower into a bowl with the butter or olive oil and cream if using. 
  • Put the bowl in the micowave and cook on hig for about 7 minutes, taking it out half way through to stir and coat with the melted butter/oil/cream
  •  Take out after 7 minutes and use a sharp knife to cut the cauliflower, the knife should slide through easily as the cauliflower should be very tender, if it isn't put it back in the microwave and cook for a minute at a time, testing each time until it is at the right consistency. 
  • Remove the bowl, add the roasted garlic by squeezing the garlic from it's skin if using, and use a hand blender to purée the cauliflower until completely smooth- you can do this manually with a hand blender if you prefer but it will be hard work to get it as smooth
  • Serve with a knob of butter and plenty of salt and pepper. 
Red cabbage with pomegranates 

I love red cabbage and a lot of the Christmas recipes that include it have a lot of sugar and apple in which make it very high in carbs, however this recipe doesn't have either and is equally delicious and so easy to make.

You will need:

  • 1/2 a red cabbage
  • A very generous knob of butter
  • A big handful of mixed herbs- dill and thyme work well, all chopped well 
  • 1/4 of a pomegranate 
  • A tablespoon of sweetener (you can of course use sugar if you prefer).
The method is then very simple:
  • Slice the cabbage into fine strips
  • Place in a steamer with the butter (saving a small amount to serve) and about 1/4 of the herbs
  • Steam for about 10 minutes until it's softened but still has some crunch 
  • Add the sweetener and stir in well untll it's all dissolved 
  • Place in a bowl and top with the butter, the remaining herbs then scatter the pomegranates over the top- easy! 


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Aubergine/ eggplant bruschetta

This recipe is so easy to make, especially if you cheated like I did (more of which later!) and tastes so so delicious. 

It is like a very simple very low carb version of bruschetta and though I’ve done it with only a few ingredients here it could certainly be jazzed up with cheese or anything else you may have hanging around. You can make extra of the salsa and keep it in the fridge and pop it on salads or into omelette mixtures. 

To make the basic recipe you will only need a few ingredients: 
 • Half an aubergine 
• A handful of cherry tomatoes
• A bunch of mint
• A bunch of basil- I used greek basil but any would do 
• A couple of shallots 
• Olive oil 

To make it you can either cheat like I did and buy ready chargrilled aubergine slices- mine were from the salad bar at Whole foods or you can chargrill them yourself.

• If you are not cheating, cut the aubergine into slices, brush both sides with the olive oil and place them onto a very hot griddle pan, leave them to cook for about 4-5 minutes, don’t lift them off during this time (unless of course you smell burning!) as you may get lots of conflicting lines. However if you are cheating then just take your pre chargrilled slices out of the packet and put them on your plate ready 
• Turn them over and cook on the other side for the same time. 
• Remove them and plate them up 
• Make the salsa- you might do this as the aubergine is cooking as it is so quick 
• Chop the tomatoes into about 4 pieces each and place in a bowl 
• Chop the herbs finely- or if you’re using the greek basil you can leave it as the leaves are already very small
• Pour a small-ish glug of olive oil into the bowl and add the herbs saving some to garnish and season the mixture well 
• Spoon generous amounts of the salsa onto the slices and enjoy!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Egg fried cauliflower rice

Well having not written a post for a while I made a recipe the other night that made me so inspired to share it that I’ve been dying to write it ever since! It is one of a rare breed of imitation recipes that literally is almost indistinguishable from the real thing… its that good. As a result of this enthusiasm the photos are not that good as they were taken at night in bad light and in a rush as I was desperate to eat it, I may update the photos at a later date! 12.11.14. Updated photos added. 

And the recipe… egg fried ‘cauliflower-rice’. So good I’m not even sure I could tell it apart from the real thing in a taste test, and definitely no cauliflower taste at all! 

Even better than how good it tastes is how few ingredients  are involved, as long as you have a cauliflower and tamari or soy sauce in you could quite easily whip this up with whatever else you had in your fridge (assuming you have at least some vegetables hanging around in there). 

Well enough talk, here’s how you do it, 

You will need:
  • One large cauliflower 
  • 2 eggs (optional as you could make this vegan easily as well)
  • A selection of finely chopped vegetables – I used ½ a red pepper and ½ a yellow pepper, a shallot and spring onions 
  • A few cloves of garlic- I put three in but I do like things very garlic-y
  • Tamari or soy sauce 
  • Oil- I used coconut and sesame oil as I like the flavour of these but any would do. 

  • Cut the stalk of the cauliflower and roughly chop it into florets 
  • Pop the florets into a food processor and blend until they resemble rice consistency- don’t blend for too long though as they can turn mushy
  • Heat the oil up in a wok until it’s very hot and dropping something into it will cause a sizzle
  • Add the chopped veg and garlic and stir until they’re starting to soften 
  • Drop the egg into the pan and stir quickly so it scrambles 
  • Cook the veg and egg together for about 2-3 mins (longer if you like the veg well cooked but I like it to still be a bit crunchy) then add the 
  • Add the cauliflower to the wok and cook for about 5 minutes stirring often to ensure that it all cooks evenly  
  • Add a few glugs of tamari/ soy sauce until the rice is all coated and has darkened 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste 
  • Enjoy – and believe me you will! 


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Chargrilled courgette/ zucchini salad

This salad is so delicious and so filling that it almost isn’t like a salad as it would definitely be fine for a main meal. I prefer it if you can chargrill the courgettes with a griddle pan or barbeque but that is of course optional and you could just fry the courgettes instead if you prefer.  It is also really simple and quick, the only thing that will take time is the fact that you can only fit a couple of courgette slices at a time on a griddle pan so may need to either use more than one griddle pan or do them in batches. This of course isn’t an issue if you are using a barbeque though as you will easily fit all the slices on a barbeque. 


You will need:


  • 1 medium sized courgette 
  • 2 handfuls of lettuce- I used peashoots, chard and rocket
  • ½ a lemon 
  • 50g pine nuts
  • Olive oil 


  • 1-2 small chillies- I used a red and an orange one 
  • Olive oil 
  • The juice of the lemon you used for the salad. 




  • Cut the courgette lengthways into slices about 1cm thick- (any thinner and they will be difficult to turn over and may stick)
  • Heat a griddle pan up
  • Brush the courgette slices with olive oil so they are completely coated on both sides 
  • Put the slices onto the griddle pan and leave for about 5 minutes 
  • While you’re waiting arrange the rest of the salad- put the lettuce onto the plate
  •  Peel some very small sections of the lemon zest and set aside
  • Finely chop the chillies and discard the seeds. Scatter half over the lettuce and keep half back
  • Check if the courgette slices look like they’re starting to turn slightly transparent and if they are turn them over 
  • Next make the dressing- take a jam jar and put about three tablespoons of olive oil in, followed by the juice of the lemon you took the zest from, finally add the chopped chillies and some salt and pepper. 
  • Put the lid on the jar and shake well, taste and add some more seasoning/lemon/oil as appropriate.
  • Once the courgettes are cooked remove them from the pan and add  the pine nuts to it. Cook these for a couple of minutes until they are starting to turn golden and brown in places. 
  • Stack the courgettes over the lettuce, then scatter the remaining chillies, lemon zest and drizzle with dressing. 
  • Finally scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top and enjoy! 

You can also top it with an avocado to make it even more filling and nutritious! 


This recipe is vegan but adding feta or goats cheese goes really well and will make the salad vegetarian rather than vegan. 



Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Insalata caprese- tomato and mozzarella salad

This is such a quick salad to make and it’s also great if you really like it as lots of restaurants have it either as a starter or as a side dish so it’s a vegetarian low carb meal that you really can find quite often (quite a rarity). 


I sometimes mix it up and have goats cheese rather than mozzarella because goats cheese is my favourite cheese, and the salad works really well with any white cheese. It is so easy to whip up as if you’re like me, you’ll pretty much have the ingredients in for it most of the time. You can also make the salad in literally 5 minutes as it is so simple. 


One of the things I love about it is that despite it being really simple you can present it in lots of different ways to make it look really impressive.


I have included two methods, one of the first picture which is a lot tidier, and a second method which makes a really similar salad but is just tweaked a little bit and is a little less ‘uniform’ looking. 



  • Tomatoes/ beef tomatoes often work best but any size will do 
  • Mozzarella- burrata is really nice as it is less rubbery and tears really easily, which is good if you’re making a more ‘rough salad’, but you might prefer other types if you want more clean slices- as for this dish. You can also of course swap in other cheese like feta or goats cheese. 
  • Basil- I love mixing greek basil and normal, sweet basil. 
  • Olive oil 


Method 1:

  • Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella to similar thicknesses so they are quite similar in size. It will help if you pick tomatoes and cheese that are similar in size while they are whole
  • Present them on a plate- a long plate works really well as in the picture, or also placing them in a circle, alternating the tomato and cheese looks good too. 
  • Tear some basil leaves and scatter them over the top*
  • Drizzle with olive oil 
  • Serve and enjoy! 


*People sometimes prefer to choose some really big basil leaves and add these while layering the cheese and tomato so you have one slice of cheese, one slice of tomato and then one leaf of basil, then repeat this.


Method 2:


  • Chop or slice the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes work best for this salad, but you can use bigger ones and just chop them a few times till they’re quite small. 
  • Tear chunks of a ball of burrata mozzarella 
  • Add to a jam jar or sandwich box and then pour about a tablespoon of olive oil and lots of finely chopped basil, or a big tablespoon of pesto- I have a recipe for pesto here.
  • Put the lid on the box or jar and shake gently until everything is covered in the oil/basil or pesto. 
  • Tip gently onto a plate 
  • Scatter with some more basil and serve. 



Sunday, 28 September 2014

Peashoot and avocado salad with lime and basil dressing.

As the weather has been so nice recently I have still been eating as though it’s still summer which basically means lots of salads still! As well as the weather, I have been growing lots of veggies in my garden this year and as I am still getting lots from them I need to use them up and lots of the things I am growing lend themselves best to summery foods like salads. This salad is one I have made lots, occasionally varying a couple of ingredients but it has pretty much been one of my staple recipes as it’s so easy and so tasty!

You will need:

Rocket or peashoots- one big handful per person
Half an avocado per person
A quarter of a cucumber per person
Pumpkin seeds to serve
Olive oil
One lime
A handful of basil leaves- I used thai basil but any would do
None of these ingredients really need anything doing to them so you can assemble the salad in literally less than ten minutes!

First put the greens at the bottom of the bowl.
Cut the cucumber into slices and then quarter each one of these slices. I like to take small slices out of the outside of the cucumber first so the pieces look prettier, but this is obviously optional!
Then cut your avocado into cubes, I do this by cutting the avocado in half then removing the stone, cutting each half in half again and then peeling the skin off and then cutting each quarter into cubes.
Scatter the cucmber and avocado pieces over the lettuce then finally scatter a generous seriving of pumpkin seeds over the top.
To make the dressing, fill a quarter of a jam jar with olive oil, then squeeze the whole lime into it. Put the basil leaves into the jar and ‘muddle’ them using a wooden spoon (basically bash the basil over and over again to break it up and infuse the flavour into the oil lime mix). Put the lid on the jam jar and shake really well. Strain the mixture to get rid of the basil bits- or you can leave them in.

Pour the dressing all over the salad, ensuring the avocado especially gets covered. The lime in the dressing will ensure the avocado doesn’t go brown so it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and will still look pretty!


Monday, 22 September 2014

Edible flowers

You may by now know that I am ever so slightly obsessed with edible flowers at the moment. I literally can’t resist buying them everytime I see them and in addition I am growing lots of different types as well. They just make everything look nicer and add really interesting tastes as well that you can’t seem to find from other foods. 
On that note then I thought I’d share a few of the ways that I’ve been using them recently.

1. In salads

I have already shared my Samphire and rocket salad garnished with edible flowers which you can see here. I have also used them to garnish lots of other salads as you can see here. They add so much colour and lots of different tastes.

2.     In ice cubes

This is an especially good use when the flowers are coming to the end of their life and are starting to wilt slightly as putting them into the water makes them spread out and come to life a bit (or at least look as though they’ve come to life).to do this is very simple, as just fill an ice cube tray and put a flower into each section. It is better to use distilled and boiled water (that has cooled slightly) as this will ensure that your ice cubes are nice and clear and not cloudy. 

3.     In drinks

Some flowers with stronger flavours add a lovely unique taste to drinks and cocktails. For example lavender. You can either make a syrup from the flower by crushing the flowers and then steeping them in a sugar syrup, or just steeping the crushed flower into an alcohol like vodka or gin.
4.     To garnish cocktails

Adding an edible flower, or a couple of flowers, to the top of your cocktail looks lovely and will really finish it off.
5.     To decorate desserts/cakes etc.

Adding some edible flowers to the top of your desserts or cakes and them sprinkling with some icing sugar looks so lovely and is such a quick way to decorate that literally takes no effort.

I’m sure there are lots of other ways to use them but these are the main ones that I’ve been doing recently. Enjoy! 


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Samphire and rocket salad with edible flowers


I made this salad recently for a work lunch and enjoyed it so much that I have made it (or variations of it) several times since. It is so so easy to do and looks so pretty especially when topped with edible flowers which make it even more colourful.


You will need


  • Rocket
  • A handful of fresh herbs, I used sweet basil, greek basil and mint.
  • Samphire
  • Pine nuts
  • Courgettes
  • Feta
  • Cucumber
  • Edible flowers (I used nasturtiums)




  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel the courgettes and cucumbers lengthways into long strips.
  • Add the courgette strips and samphire to a pan with a small bit of oil (I used the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes)
  • Once the strips have softened but not changed colour remove them from the pan and add the pine nuts to the pan- most of the oil will have gone but that’s fine, the pan doesn’t need to be oily. Fry them for a couple of minutes tossing them continually until they have changed colour.
  • Roughly mix the rocket and fresh herbs together so they are quite evenly mixed.
  • Then just pile everything in, starting with the rocket and herbs and cucumber strips
  • Then add the courgette strips twisting them as they put in- this serves no purpose but looks nice!
  • Scatter the samphire over the top
  • Crumble the feta roughly between your fingers as you add that to the top of the salad.
  • Sprinkle the pine nuts and pomegranate over the top
  • Finally, place a selection of edible flowers on the top
  • Enjoy!


I don’t use any extra dressing on this because the samphire and courgettes have already been cooked in flavoured oil so they add a lot of taste, plus the herbs that have been mixed with the rocket ensure that there is lots of flavour. You could, however add your own dressing to it and if you did then I think a lemon dressing would go best with this so you could mix some lemon juice, a small bit of olive oil and some crushed mint. Alternatively you could make a dressing from grated ginger, lemon and tamari which also work really well together.  


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Egg fast

Egg fast


If you follow my instagram or twitter you may well know that I have recently been following an egg fast diet. For those of you who don’t know what the diet is I first read about it on the ketogenic woman blog and also I breathe I’m hungry has also talked about it and put lots of recipes up which you can read. It seems pretty popular on instagram at the moment and is supposed to knock quite a bit of weight off in just three days and so I thought I’d give it a go!


The basics of the egg fast are as follow:


·        Eat between 6-12 eggs per day

·        For each egg you eat also have 1oz (approx 28g) of cheese (any full fat cheese)

·        For each egg also eat also have 1 tbsp of butter

·        Try and eat an egg meal every 3-5 hours

·        No eggs within 3 hours of bedtime

·        Drink plenty of water!


The diet seems to generally last 3 days though you can do it for a maximum of 5 days, and some people seem to follow it regularly for 3 days per week eating LCHF the rest of the time. Saying that after doing it the thought of doing it again every week seems a bit impossible to me at the moment, but I will perhaps feel a bit different next week!


From looking at people online it seems that people seem to lose anything between 5-10lbs in three days, typically gaining around 2lbs back the day after completing the diet.


My egg fast diet.


I documented everything that I ate while on it, which wasn’t hard as it wasn’t very much food, or not by my standards anyway! Hopefully this might help if you are thinking of going on the diet and can’t quite think what you’d eat. I will say though that the diet does feel very restrictive while you’re doing it, it is not easy and though I tried to make the food as good as I could there were some definite low points where I got so sick of eggs, also I had a couple of incidences of heartburn (which I’ve never had before and is absolutely horrible!) they were only very brief though thankfully! Without further ado, here is what I ate:


Day one


·        One three egg cheese omelette

·        A bowl of egg mayonnaise (2 eggs) with grated cheese

·        A boiled egg, a slice of avocado (I counted this as a portion of fat (!)) and some grated cheese

·        A boiled egg


Total for day one= 7 eggs and pretty definitely far more than 7 oz of cheese, largely because I had no idea how much 1oz of cheese (FYI its hardly anything!!) was and also because I was feeling very hungry and cheese seemed to satisfy that a bit better then eggs.


Day two


·        Four (greedy!) mini omelette/ egg muffins

·        A bowl of egg mayonnaise (two eggs) with grated cheese

·        1 mini mushroom and goats cheese frittata

·        About 10 peanuts


Total for day two= about 8 eggs, and probably around 8oz of cheese, I’m not completely sure because the mini frittata was shop bought from M&S so I couldn’t tell how many eggs or how much cheese was in it. As you can also see I slightly cheated with the peanuts, but again I counted these as a source of fat as I didn’t really have any butter though the frittata was quite oily. I also had some mushrooms in the frittata which I wasn’t meant to have but the frittata was small so I reasoned it would have only been about one mushroom in total as they were very small slices and mushrooms as mostly water anyway! Also the frittata had less than 6g of carbs and 200 calories in total anyway.


Day three


·        1 mini mushroom and goats cheese frittata not sure how many eggs were in this  

·        A bowl of egg mayonnaise (two eggs) with grated cheese

·        3 babybels

·        Two hard boiled eggs


Total for day three= about 6 eggs (as I'm guessing there were about 2 in the frittata)

 Day four


·        A bowl of egg mayonnaise (two eggs) with grated cheese

·        Two fried eggs with half a small avocado and some grated cheese

·        No crust 'cheesecake' made from cream cheese, egg and sweetener. 


Total for day four= about 4 eggs 

Weight loss


This is definitely the most interesting part for me!


Day two- I had lost 2lbs

Day three- I had lost 2 more lbs (4 in total)

Day four-I had lost 2 more lbs (6 in total)

Day five-I had still lost 2lbs so that's 6lbs in total!

I was so pleased with that loss as the diet really did get easier and though I had planned to only do three days when day four came I decided to stay on it because I was quite into it and my hunger had really reduced. I did mention heartburn above which I got briefly on day two but I didn't get that again. Also I was straight into ketosis on day two! 

I am now thinking that this will probably become one of my go to diets when I want to lose some weight fast and am also thinking of trying to do it regularly anyway for a couple of days per week to keep the weight going in the right direction. 

I'd love to hear how other people have got on with it! 




Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Packed lunches

I can see from my instagram and blog stats that the most popular posts still tend to be the ones around snacks and lunch ideas so thought I’d do a short post with the salads that I have recently been taking into work and how I made them. I work quite long days so it is always important for me to take in plenty of food for the daytime so that I can fill up and don’t get tempted by other food!


Anyway, without further ado, here is the last week or so of packed lunches:


1. Rocket, kale, yellow and green courgette/ zucchini ribbons, pesto, pine nuts and feta. Dressing: lemon, mint and basil.


This is a really easy salad to make, I didn’t cook the kale I just shredded it till it was really fine and then mixed it with the rocket. I cut the courgettes into ribbons and then briefly pan-fried them until they were soft and then added the pesto and pine nuts (which I had toasted previously). For the dressing, I just mixed two types of basil with lemon juice and a very small amount of olive oil. This salad really was good and I ended up having it for two days in a row and dinner one night!


2. Zoodles, samphire, tomatoes, peppers sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Dressing: pesto.


This was basically leftover from my meal the night before and just consisted of zoodles mixed with pesto, then topped with samphire which I pan-fried quickly, and chopped tomatoes and peppers and lots of seeds. Really easy to do as I had most of it already from the previous evening so I just popped it in a box and added the seeds. You can read lots of my zoodles recipes here where there’s loads of ideas!


3. Kale, avocado, yellow pepper, cucumber, linseed and pomegranate.

Dressing: tamari and lemon


For this one I just popped the kale into a blender and let it process till it was very fine and then topped with chopped avocado and cucumber. I then sprinkled it with golden linseeds and pomegranate seeds and coated it with lemon juice then tamari  (I didn’t bother mixing them together first) and then mixed it all together. This is one of my favourite salads, it’s so refreshing!


4. Spinach, basil, rocket, courgette/zucchini and pomegranate.

Dressing: lemon, mint and basil.


This one was done in a huge rush so I basically just threw in everything that I had I the fridge and mixed it well together. The courgette was sliced with a julienne peeler into very fine ribbons and was served raw. I used about ¼ of a basil plant which made it so tasty. The dressing was done by crushing basil and mint leaves in a pestle and mortar and then mixing it with lemon juice and a very small amount of olive oil.

5. Quorn pieces, zoodles in tomato sauce, rocket and mixed lettuce, cauliflower ‘rice’, and pomegranates


This salad did not have a dressing on it as most of the components were already in a sauce or dressing of some description. As you can also probably tell from the mixture of things in the meal, it was made up of leftovers from the previous couple of days. Basically it was quorn which I pan-fried in some rapeseed oil with garlic, zoodles which were pan-fried briefly then mixed with a sundried tomato and pepper sauce, cauliflower which had been processed to the consistency of rice and then mixed with sour cream, grated cucumber and mint, all served on a bed of lettuce. Again really quick as I basically scooped up things that I already had in the fridge from previous meals.


I hope this helps and gives you some ideas, I never spend more than about 10-15 minutes making my lunches and they are so tasty and save lots of money!



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