Coconut, cranberry & orange cookies

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I'm bursting with Team GB pride, but sadly what has been a wonderful and all consuming Olympic Games is now over. So with the time I would have spent glued to the TV, I instead set out to create a short video for one of my favourite cookie recipes - I hope you like it.

These coconut cookies are super simple to make and very adaptable. In the past I have made them with chocolate chips or sultanas - but this cranberry and orange combo always comes out on top.

Ingredients, makes nine cookies
2/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut + a little extra to sprinkle (optional)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup of dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 large (or 4 small) eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
Zest of one orange

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the coconut flour, desiccated coconut and dried fruit in a bowl and roughly combine. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, salt, maple syrup, coconut oil and orange zest and mix well. The mixture will appear quite wet at first but quickly thickens into a dough.

Roll the mixture into balls then press slightly to flatten into cookies. Place the cookies on a lined baking sheet and scatter a little extra desiccated coconut on top if desired.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are golden at the edges. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Note: The cookies also freeze well. I often pop half the batch in the freezer - mainly to stop myself eating them all within a couple of days. Recipe easily doubles for a bigger batch.

Chicken & kale salad with peanut dressing

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When visiting San Francisco last month, I had one hell of a kale salad that was served with roast chicken and a peanut dressing. Maybe it’s because I'd spent all day walking around the city and my then tired and hungry state would have had me appreciating any chair in any restaurant with anything edible in front of me, but… I have to admit this simple salad was one of the best meals I had during our four week trip to America. 

Now I’m home and eager to recreate the recipe adding a few extras like the carrot ribbons for sweetness, red cabbage for crunch and ginger to the dressing for more heat. I can see this raw salad becoming a new lunchtime favourite and as it’s made with hardy vegetables, easily keeps in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients, serves two

For the salad
8-10 stems kale with stems removed and leaves roughly torn
1 large carrot, shredded into ribbons using a potato peeler
1/4 red cabbage, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, skins removed
1 free range organic chicken breast
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt and pepper

For the dressing:
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lime juice
Thumb size piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1/3 cup of water

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C. Use the melted coconut oil to grease a baking dish and also to coat the chicken. Season with salt and pepper then cover the chicken with baking parchment tucking the edges into the sides of the pan so it's snug around the chicken. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Place the kale in a large bowl and pour over the lemon juice. Using your hands, massage the kale for a few minutes so it becomes more tender. Add the carrot ribbons, sliced cabbage and spring onions to the bowl - gently mix with the kale.

Once the chicken is cooked leave it to cool slightly before slicing into thin strips, then add to the salad bowl.

To make the dressing simply place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with fresh coriander, peanuts and sesame seeds.

The recipe makes a good amount of dressing which keeps well in the fridge for up to a week if not all used on the salad.

California road trip

Last month I spent three weeks traveling around California with my family. We started our trip in San Francisco then rented a car and drove down to San Diego, stopping at Monterey, Yosemite, Sequoia and LA on the way. We had so much fun exploring each of these beautiful and distinctively different areas of America's west coast.

Along with taking hundreds of photos (here are a few favourites) I was keen to create a little holiday video - it's turned out to be the best way of sharing and remembering our adventures. Thanks for watching.

Red lentil dhal

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I know, I know, it's spring, so why on earth am I posting a Dhal recipe. The truth is I'm like Old Mother Hubbard this week and when the fridge is bare I have to turn to my trusty pulses and spices - no bad thing I'm sure you'll agree. I've been making this recipe regularly as a homage to one pot meals that are quick, effortless and pack a flavour punch.

Making the most of my store cupboard essentials, the last white onion and a bag of past its prime spinach, I set to work. The result is a warm and comforting bowl of goodness with heat from the ginger and spices and wonderful colour that only turmeric can achieve.

Now I'd best get over to the market or we'll have turned yellow from living off this dhal for too long.

Ingredients, serves 4
250g red lentils
400ml tin of coconut milk
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 white onion
1 large sweet potato
3 large handfuls of baby spinach
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tsp garam masala
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
5 cm piece of fresh ginger
1 chili
4 cloves of garlic
500ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Method
Heat the coconut oil in a large pan (one with a lid) on a medium heat. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan. Finely chop the garlic and chilli and add to the pan with the onion. Grate the ginger and add in with the cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric and paprika. Give everything a stir to combine.

Peel and roughly dice the sweet potato into thumb size pieces, not making the chucks too small and add this to the pan. Allow the sweet potato to cook for a few minutes before pouring in the lentils, tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and bring the pan to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and place a lid on the pan. Cook on a low-medium heat for about 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and the sweet potato is soft.

Remove the lid and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Throw in three large handfuls of baby spinach and gently stir this through the dhal.

Serve and enjoy.

Baked eggs with Feta & kale

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There's no shortage of farmers markets in London, which is great, but what's really great is that a new one has opened up just minutes from my house, no exaggeration, it's literally around the corner. We go every week - Neil heads to the meat stall and I hunt down the best of the seasons veggies. We've been impressed by the quality and the prices and enjoy being able to talk to the people who grow food for us.

The market began in autumn last year and at times, especially during January, has been quiet and struggling for customers. I'm desperate for this little market to do well, and hope that as spring and summer arrive it will become more popular.

If by any small chance you’re reading this from your home in Clapham or Battersea            then head over to the Lavender Hill Farmers Market, SW11 5UW, 10:00am - 2:00pm every Saturday. You won’t be disappointed.

This week our farmers market haul included free range eggs and organic kale.

Ingredients: serves two
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 white onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
2 large handfuls of kale (I use curly)
1 large handful of spinach
Juice of half a lemon
4 medium free range eggs
50g feta cheese
Handful chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat the coconut oil in a good sized frying pan (the type which can also go in the oven) over a medium heat. Finely chop the onion, add to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Next finely chop the garlic and chilli, add to the pan with the onion and mix well. Allow this to cook for a minute.

Turn the pan down to a low heat. Wash the kale then add this to the pan with a small splash of water to create some steam. Cover with a lid and allow the kale to cook for 15 minutes.

Once the kale has cooked remove the lid and add the spinach, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well then place the lid back on for a minute allowing the spinach to cook.

Remove the lid and make four little wells in the pan, cracking an egg into each. Season the eggs with salt and pepper then place the frying pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are firm but the yolks are still runny. This can take 1-5 minutes depending on your oven.

To serve crumble over the feta and chopped walnuts.

Week day breakfast jars

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So far February has been non-stop. A packed working week and weekends spent away from home, have at times left my fridge bare, my washing unwashed and the house certainly not looking its best. But it feels good to be busy.

Neil and I often find ourselves talking about what life would be like, if we didn’t live in London. I long to be closer to my family and best friends, and even though they only live a couple of hours drive away, the distance can sometimes be overwhelming. I dream of a big garden with a vegetable patch, fruit trees and chickens roaming around, but most of all just being able to drop by my mum’s house in the evenings for dinner. For Neil, it’s a garage, well actually a double garage and a large driveway for him to indulge in his love of cars and mechanics. One day it will happen, I’m sure of it.

But for now it's the London life. This city is unbearably busy and at times very angry. It’s difficult not to be affected by the negative mood of grumpy and frustrated travellers or to block out arguments and police sirens. But there are things about London that I do love and will miss if we do move away - the little side streets with unfamiliar coffee shops, faded lettering on old signs and the way beautiful landmarks appear out of nowhere when you turn a corner. My current commute takes me into Waterloo station, I then make a 20 minute walk along The Cut and Union Street with the Shard growing intimidatingly in front of me, to a small studio next to Borough Market – one of my favourite areas of the city.

As soon as I wake up I’m thinking about food. I love to eat, which is probably why I get so excited about the first meal of the day. These breakfast jars are ideal for busy mornings and totally adaptable to what’s in your cupboards and fruit bowl. There is no excuse not to have a healthy breakfast and I promise these jars will fill you up until lunch, something a croissant certainly wouldn't do.

I make my jar and Neil’s, the night before and leave them in the fridge. In the morning I add some fresh fruit which takes minutes and we simply put the jars in our bags. I prefer taking my breakfast to work as the commute allows me some movement before eating, also the jar is back up to room temperature, making the most of the flavours.

This post shares three of my go-to breakfast jars as I couldn’t pick a favourite.

Overnight oats
Ingredients
1/3 cup oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ tsp ground cardamom
2/3 cup milk (I use oat or almond)

Toppings
Strawberries
Fresh mint

Method:
Measure out the oats, chia seeds, flax, coconut and cardamom into a jar and stir to combine. Add the milk and mix well. Place the lid on the jar and leave it in the fridge overnight. In the morning top with chopped strawberries and some fresh mint.

Chia pudding
Ingredients
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup milk (I use oat or almond)
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Toppings
Greek yogurt
Nut butter
Blueberries
Pomegranate seeds

Method
Measure the chia seeds, milk and vanilla extract into a jar and mix well. It’s best to then leave the jar to sit for five minutes then stir again as the chia seeds may sink to the bottom.
Place in the fridge overnight. In the morning top with Greek yogurt, nut butter, blueberries and pomegranate seeds.

Beetroot and berry smoothie
Ingredients
½ beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup of frozen berries
Handful of spinach leaves
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ cup water

Toppings
Greek yogurt
Fresh raspberries
Walnuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Method
Simply place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a jar and top with Greek yogurt, fresh raspberries, coconut flakes and some nuts and seeds for added crunch.

Note: I use a standard jam jar as I find them to be the ideal size.