Month: September 2016

Spiralized Greek Salad with Harissa-Roast Aubergine, Homemade Hummus & Toasted Pitta

Spiralized Greek Salad with Harissa-Roast Aubergine, Homemade Hummus & Toasted Pitta

A wave of holiday-nostalgia hit hard last week after a few particularly hectic and stressful days. I absolutely love mediterranean/middle-easterny style food, so I thought that enjoying some tasty Greek/Cypriot/Turkish food would be a perfect way to de-stress, and a nice excuse to pretend that I could still be sitting on a beach somewhere hot.

Like my Courgetti Pad-Thai, the authenticity of this food isn’t necessarily spot-on, but that doesn’t stop it from being fresh and exciting and goddamn yummy.

Spiralized Salad, Aubergine and Hummus

 

Cucumber is one of my favourite foods in the world. I could honestly probably eat one whole which I realise is pretty weird. As well as having a super-high water content, making it perfect for re-hydration, cucumber contains lots of minerals and B vitamins, which are thought to be an aid to stress relief. Spiralized Cucumber is a great alternative as a salad-base to lettuce leaves, although you can bulk this out with some spinach or shredded kale.

The hummus is also great for vegetarians because it’s an ideal meat-free source of protein. Apparently just 100g chickpeas packs in a good 20 grams of protein, plus a whole load of fibre, calcium and potassium.

Aubergine & Hummus

Harissa Paste is a Middle Eastern seasoning made from chilli, garlic and various spices. It’s absolutely delicious as a marinade for the aubergine (I think), but go easy on it if you aren’t a fan of hot foods. If you can’t get hold of any, or if you are unsure about buying it in case it never gets used again, feel free to use a mix of garlic, chilli flakes and paprika instead.

There’s lots of components to this dish, but it’s definitely worth it, plus it can all be packed into a tupperware and taken into work for lunch the next day. I promise that my next recipe will be nice, easy and quick!

 

Spiralized Greek Salad with Harissa-Roast Aubergine, Homemade Hummus & Toasted Pitta

Harissa Aubergine, Salad, Pitta

Ingredients

For the Greek Salad

  • 2 Cucumbers
  • 4 Large Salad Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Small Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Bell Pepper in a colour of your choice
  • Pitted Halkidiki Olives, Sliced
  • 100g crumbled feta cheese
  • Some fresh, finely chopped mint (optional)
  • Sourdough or Pitta Croutons (optional)

 

For the Dressing

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 150 ml Olive Oil
  • 150 ml Red Wine Vinegar
  • A splash of water
  • Salt, Pepper and Oregano to season

 

For the Aubergine

  • 1 Small Aubergine
  • 2 tsps Harissa Paste
  • 1 tbsp either Olive Oil or Melted Coconut Oil

 

For the Hummus

  • 1 500g can Chickpeas
  • 1 tbsps Tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt, Pepper and Paprika to season

Serve with toasted white or wholemeal Pitta Breads. Should be enough for 2-3 generous portions.

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160-180 Celsius (about 340 or so Fahrenheit)

Pour all of the ingredients for the dressing into a small jar and shake vigorously until combined. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and add more lemon if you like (I like mine quite sharp). You can then set this aside for later; I like to make the dressing first because you can toss the remains of the lemon into the roasting pan to cook with the aubergine – it gives it such a lovely citrusy flavour.

harissa aubergine

 

Slice the aubergine into rounds that are approximately 1 cm thick, and arrange them in the roasting pan with the lemon. Pour over the oil and dollop the spoonful of harissa on top – you can then use your hands to make sure the all the aubergine slices are covered in chilli and oil. Put them in the oven for around 20 minutes, until they’re nice and soft in the middle and a little bit crispy on the skin.

Cook the chickpeas in either a pan or a microwave for 2-3 minutes with about a cup of water until they are soft. Rinse them through a sieve when cooked to get rid of any excess starch and put the whole lot in a blender with the tahini and garlic. Blitz until smooth and lump free, and then spoon it into bowl so that you can sprinkle over the paprika, salt and pepper. Taste it whilst you’re going along to make sure that you’re happy with the flavour.

Aubergine & Hummus

For the salad, roughly dice the tomatoes and pepper, but make sure that the onion and olives are quite finely sliced, as these have a much stronger flavour. Spiralize the cucumbers and mix the whole lot in a big mixing bowl. Add as much feta as you like – I like to have a few large chunks, along with a few bits that are finely crumbled. You can also chop up some mint leaves in there for a really fresh, crisp taste. Pour over the dressing and make sure everything is well-combined.

By this time, the aubergine should be nicely good, and you have just enough time to toast a couple of bits of pitta bread whilst you put the rest of the salad and the hummus onto your plate.

Aubergine & Hummus

Aubergine & Hummus
There’ll be a lot of washing up to do (don’t say I didn’t warn you) but for the time being, just sit back and enjoy!

12 Top Gym Bag Essentials for the New School Year

12 Top Gym Bag Essentials for the New School Year

I have always been (and most definitely always will be) a pack-your-bag-the-night-before kinda person. I’m not talking about pre-holiday suitcase packing, which can take weeks of preparation, I’m talking about the “making sure you have everything ready in your schoolbag so that you’re not rushing about finding your planner and pencil case in the morning”. That kind of bag packing.

Around this time of year, despite the fact that I am now an ‘adult’ and have a job, a pension-plan and bills to pay, I always feel the tiniest bit nostalgic about the back to school feeling you would get before the new academic year.

You’d have bought a new pencil case from WH Smiths (or paperchase if you were really lucky). The pencils inside would be sharpened and the fountain pens ready-filled with ink. You’d be excited to see all the people you hadn’t seen over the school holidays, and crisp white shirts would be hanging up in your wardrobe, fresh out the packet.

The novelty of this would wear off pretty quickly, of course, usually around the time that the first piece of homework is set.

Nonetheless, I still feel such a sense of satisfaction and glowing pride when I can go to bed, secure in the knowledge that nothing needs to be organised or sorted out the next day – just up, shower, breakfast and go.

It’s not a schoolbag anymore, of course, and hasn’t been for a long time. But the gym bag requires just as much careful planning and preparation. And it’s just as satisfying when it’s sitting by the door ready to go as you get into bed the night before.

Gym Bag Essentials

1) Water

 I like to have a big bottle in my gym bag that I fill up when I get to the gym. It’s always important to stay hydrated during your workout and it’s just so much more convenient to have a bottle to carry around, rather than to-ing and fro-ing from the water fountains every 5 minutes.

2) Emergency Sugar

You never know when you might get lightheaded. It sounds ridiculous but sometimes you just need that little boost, whether it’s through a sports drink, supplements, pre-workout or just a cheeky bar of chocolate.

3) A Protein Kick

You always need protein to help your muscles repair, and this is especially important if you do lots of weights or resistance training. If you’re a morning gym-er, like me, then try to keep something in your bag so that you’re not waiting ages until your next meal for some protein. I either have a protein bar or shake or I make sure my breakfast is made with high protein yogurt or oats.

Gym Bag Essentials

4) Deodorant

Obvious reasons…no?

5) A Padlock

Some gyms provide locks, others don’t. I like to have one in my bag all the time, just in case.

6) Mini Towel

Again, some gyms give towels for free, but it’s useful to have a small one as well anyway, particularly if it’s a hair-wash day.

Gym Bag Essentials

7) Make up and Hair Brush

I’ve accidentally forgotten both of these on one of my ‘off’ days, and needless to say it was a bit of a disaster all round. I always make sure they’re sitting in my bag the night before so that it never happens again.

8) Mini Shampoo and Conditioner

Nothing is worse than needing to wash your hair but forgetting your Shampoo. Saying that, dry shampoo is a really useful gym-bag essential too, but I prefer keeping mini bottles in my bag all the time so that I don’t have to remember to pack my big ones and then carry them about everywhere.

Gym Bag Essentials

9) A Resistance Band

The gym suddenly gets really busy in September because people are full of new-Academic Year Resolutions. Having a resistance band in your bag is really handy for those rush hour periods when you can’t get on any of the machines or cables. Plus, it’ll add a bit of variety to your workout – it’s always good to mix things up a little.

10) Notepad and Pen

Sounds a bit weird for the gym, but it’s always useful to have in your bag in case you suddenly get the urge to record what you’ve done, or maybe jot down an exercise that you haven’t done before for future reference. Some people just use their phone, of course, but I’m a fan of the good, old-fashioned pen and paper.

11) A Spare Shirt

Because you never know when your water bottle will decide to leak.

12) Gym Member Card

There’s no point in having a gym bag if you can’t get into the gym…

Gym Bag Essentials

What are your gym bag essentials? I’d love to hear what you can’t live without!