A change in season calls for a meal plan rethink and this is the perfect antidote to the shorter, cooler, darker days. This chunky, traditional soup is hearty comfort food the whole family will enjoy. I like to keep the veg chunky so there is some bite to the dish but you could blend to smooth if preferred.
What you'll need:
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I have been making variations of this salad since I backpacked around Turkey in 2012. Known locally as a ‘Shepherd’s Salad’ it is served with everything, all over Turkey. It combines all the seasonal local produce (cucumber, tomatoes and pomegranate) with parsley and mint.
The thing that truly sets this salad apart is the pomegranate seeds, available in abundance in Turkey throughout summer. These pink little jewels burst in your mouth and combined with the palate cleansing parsley make a deliciously juicy and refreshing salad.
To make one large salad bowl:
Dice all the vegetables.
Quarter the pomegranate and remove the seeds.
Finely chop the parsley and mint (remove the stalks if you have the patience, I just chuck it all in).
Toss all the ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and the juice of one large lemon.
I love to make a large bowl of it and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. It pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or fish, feta cheese, chickpeas or hummus. And it’s a beautiful rainbow of colour!
Health benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranates are a rich source of vitamin C (important for skin healing, anti-ageing and immunity) and thanks to their unique polyphenols have shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and support healthy hearts and prostates.
Get them while they’re in season and available in the UK - summertime! If you can’t get pomegranates you can put a Moroccan spin on the same salad here.
This summer salad is satisfyingly crunchy and makes a great alternative to the more traditional leafy green salad. It introduces lots of vibrant colours like bright orange and deep purple and adds a beautiful sunny centrepiece to any dining table.
Feed your "friendly" gut bacteria and help balance out those hormones.
Cabbage contains a substance called DIM and indole-3-carbinol. These phytochemicals have a balancing effect on female hormones and have shown to reduce the risk of cancer. The sulphur content of cabbage also supports liver detoxification pathways. Cabbage (and vegetables in general) are a rich source of fibre which gut bacteria thrive on.
Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans and is a staple in Japanese and asian cultures. Unpasteurised miso paste can contain "friendly" bacteria, like Lactobacillus, which supports digestion and reduces the risk of food intolerances as it balances the immune response. It's also worth considering miso paste for bone health because fermented foods can create vitamin K2 which helps transport calcium into our bones.
Fennel helps to reduce gas and bloating thanks to its anti-spasmodic ability in the digestive tract, reducing the risk of cramps. It also helps stimulate bile which supports digestion and the breakdown of fats.
For the salad:
For the salad dressing:
Blitz the following in a blender or food processor:
How to cook mackerel
Mackerel is an oily fish which is a source of DHA - very important for brain health, memory and concentration.
If using fresh raw mackerel fillets they cook incredibly fast on the grill. I use a George Foreman grill and they are ready in 2-minutes at a medium heat.
If using a regular grill try grilling them for two minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook them as they can dry out.
You could also use ready-to-eat smoked mackerel fillets to save time.
Drizzle any leftover salad dressing over the fish. Yum!
This delicious lentil dahl is perfect for lazy kitchens. It simply requires heating antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rich spices with lentils and simmering in water for 20 minutes. Easy! Antioxidants mop up free radicals which help reduce signs of ageing in the body.
There are so many wonderful variations of lentil dahl (it’s basically Indian style soup); often with garam masala or curry powder, onion and garlic. This one is even simpler because you won’t need to chop an onion or crush any garlic. Instead I’ve used mustard seeds, nigella and fenugreek seeds to create a warm and fragrant flavour.
I started experimenting with onion and garlic free flavours because I have many clients who can’t tolerate them (they may have onion/garlic sensitivity or they might be following the Fodmap diet for IBS relief).
If you have a slow-cooker, you can look forward to coming home to a warm, welcoming meal after work.
Planning stews or hearty soups like this into your week is so fabulous because you'll have plenty of leftovers for either lunch or dinner the next day (and again the next day!) Simply double the ingredients if you want more servings. It freezes really well too, so I often make a double batch so that I have some healthy options ready to go for busy weeks.
What herbs and spices do you like to use when making a lentil dahl?
A note on measurements of the spices: a little guessing won't go amiss and won't make too much difference if you are slightly out.
Hope you love this recipe as much as I do! For more food inspiration please head over to my Instagram and Facebook page or get in touch with me via the contact page or in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you!
If you listened to my interview with Kaye Adams on BBC Radio Scotland recently you'll have heard me recommending how she should add almond butter to her morning porridge for protein. Here are a few other ways to pimp your porridge and stay fuller for longer.
Swap the sugary, processed and over-priced 'two-minute porridge pots' for your own two-minute porridge pot filled with your favourite toppings. Porridge is nicest on the stove but if you're in a hurry these can be made in two minutes in the microwave and you won't pay a premium for the plastic packaging.
What you'll need:
Here's a few of my favourite ways to pimp my porridge:
How to make porridge
Porridge is just as easily made on the hob the old fashioned way!
Not a fan of porridge? Try making this delicious, protein rich banana bread for breakfast instead.
My favourite banana bread happens to be high protein and grain free. You’ll need a food processor or blender to grind the pecans into a flour-like consistency.
This bread can be toasted if preferred and is delicious with some St. Dalfour or Follain (sugar free) jam or a little coconut butter. It's also delicious on its own for a breakfast on the go! The recipe is adapted from a recipe by author and Nutritional Therapist, Christine Bailey.
What you'll need
How to make high protein banana bread
Meal Planning Tips
Once cooled you can cut it into slices and freeze individual slices for when you need them. Simply defrost in the toaster in a couple of minutes. This will also help prevent eating the entire loaf which is easily done, trust me!! Get my top 15 tips on successful meal planning here.
Let me know if you try it. Would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Find me on Instagram @stellar_health_mary for more meal ideas.
Porridge lover? Learn how to Pimp your Porridge
Are you a breakfast lover or a breakfast hater? Find out what I had to say to Kaye Adams on this very topic here
If you're really not a breakfast person find out what to do about it here
This is my absolute favourite dish when I'm tired and just want to sit and watch Netflix. It particularly thrives in lazy kitchens because zero effort is required; roughly chopping three vegetables is about as taxing as it gets.
You simply whack everything into a baking tray, toss in coconut oil and spices and 50 minutes later you are tucking into a delicious and nutritious healthy meal.
*Vegetarian/vegan options available
What you’ll need:
*To make this vegetarian or vegan omit the chicken and reduce the paprika and cumin seeds to 1.5 tbsp. of each.
How to make one tray roast
That’s it. Any leftovers make an amazing dining-al-desko lunch at the office the next day. No need to submit to bland petrol station ham sangers or high street pharmacy 'meal deals' ever again :)
Recipe adapted from an Udo's Choice recipe
So why the Excitement?
Benefits of Kale
Benefits of Red Onion
Read about the benefits of coconut oil in this blog post
Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”) really goes with everything; it is the perfect gluten free and wheat free substitute (good news for food intolerance/allergy sufferers) and has a delicious, slightly nutty flavour. It’s really satisfying, easy to digest and just so healthy! Give it centre stage on your shopping list!
In this recipe I’ve glossed up the quinoa with a splash of coconut milk. If you’re not a fan of coconut a general rule of thumb for perfectly cooked quinoa is simply add one part grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan.
Where will I find quinoa?
You will find quinoa in any health food store and larger supermarkets in various forms: whole seeds (to prepare like a grain), quinoa flour (in combination with other flours for gluten free baking) and quinoa flakes (to make into a gluten free porridge). You need the whole seeds for this recipe.
Want to know more about the health benefits of quinoa? Find out here>>
Cooking with Quinoa
Ingredients - What you need
300g raw quinoa grains (can be the white or multi coloured stuff)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1.5 stock cubes (refil the empty can of coconut milk with water to make up the stock)
1 clove garlic crushed and chopped (optional)
Instructions - How to make quinoa
It is best to remove any leftover saponin compounds (quinoa's natural insect repellent) before you start cooking. Give the quinoa a quick rinse (30 seconds) under the tap in a fine-meshed sieve, gently rubbing it.
If like me, you are usually tempted to skip this part (guilty-as when cooking brown rice), don’t! You will end up with a bitter and slightly soapy flavour and texture to this otherwise delicious food. Not to mention the many disappointed open mouths to feed at the dinner table!
Now plonk the damp quinoa into a saucepan and dry fry it for five minutes. I really find this brings out quinoa’s natural nutty flavour.
After dry frying it, add one can of full fat coconut milk. Refil this can with stock (using 1.5 stock cubes) and add this too. If using chopped garlic, add this now also. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15-20. Give it a stir occasionally or just leave it to do its thing.
You’ll know when it’s cooked because the grains become translucent and the white germ will partially detach itself, appearing like a spiralled tail. The coconut milk and stock get sucked up into the grains and you are left with this lovely, satisfying and moreish dish.
While your quinoa is cooking away, prep this simple salad to serve it with.
Mix everything in a bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle with the oil. Crown with extra seeds.
Find out more about the health benefits of quinoa here>>
Why I recommend full fat coconut milk>>
If you like quinoa, tell me your favourite dishes to pair it with in the comments below. Maybe it’s with stew, soups, atop salads, or something else entirely! Let’s hear it!
Or, if you’ve got another delicious way to prepare quinoa, tell me about it. I really love hearing from you all.
Or come over to the Stellar Health Facebook page and join the conversation there. You'll also find more Stellar recipes and loads more tips on how to stay healthy throughout the week over on my Instagram page
Drip feed your energy cells and avoid 3pm vending machine benders with these yummy, nutritional hits. You'll get joint-loving omega oils, 'complete' protein hemp and immune boosting goji berries.
They are so so easy and literally ready in minutes. I like to keep mine in my gym bag and my locker at work so I know I won't go hungry. Perfect an hour or so before you hit the gym to keep your blood sugar and your energy levels balanced.
What you'll need:
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (sugar free, try Whole Earth)
1 tbsp hemp seed protein powder
1 tbsp ground pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp goji berries (soaked in warm water for 5 minutes)
1 tbsp desiccated cocnut
1 tbsp honey
Mash everything in a bowl with a fork. Roll into spheres and hide them in your fridge. Job done. Optional: sprinkle extra coconut on the outside so they look even more beautiful.
Ditch those dodgy energy bars and make a big batch of these instead!!
You may think that bringing a vegetable to a dessert is a step too far but I promise this cake won’t taste of sweet potato! The mere whiff of the chocolaty gooiness will have your nostrils levitating and your pulse racing. Any hint of vegetable is instantly consigned to oblivion. Packed with beta-carotene, antioxidants and vitamin C, sweet potato rocks this dessert.
The coconut flour makes an ideal substitute for gluten or grain flours (hello Paleo, hello coeliac). And you won’t beat this flour’s fibre content; it contains four to six times the amount of fibre in oat bran and twice as much fibre as wheat bran. (Goodbye haemorrhoids).
What you’ll need:
How to make:
But wait! There’s more! 5 great reasons to ditch your dairy chocolate for the dark variety.
Islay, my friend's dog's reaction to the Sweet Potato Chocolate cake :)
Hello! Welcome to Stellar Health
I hope you have fun exploring my recipes and feel inspired to experiment with them. Here you will see examples of how I cook with some of my recommended ingredients and experience the benefits for yourself.