Almond and Red Pepper Sauce

No matter how healthy I eat, there is nothing that can stop my hankering for pasta when I’m feeling the effects of an alcohol-filled Saturday night with my girls. This weekend we celebrated the first girl of our group’s Hen Weekend, it’s hard to believe one of us will be walking down the aisle in a few weeks and oh did we celebrate!

So pasta was on the brain for most of today and as usual, I caved and fired up that fusilli. To ease the guilt somewhat, I decided to team it up with a healthy, homemade pasta sauce and I must say, I was pretty impressed with the end result. Adding almonds to the mix gave this sauce a really creamy finish and gave me the feeling I was seriously indulging in a cream-based pasta sauce when really it was nothing of the sort.

I’m really chuffed with this one actually and I’m sure you will be too if you give it a try. Very simple and really yum – here is my Almond and Red Pepper Sauce.

Ingredients

2 Red Peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 clove Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
60 grams Almonds
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a frying pan.
Once hot, add garlic and peppers to the pan and coo for about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the peppers cool for about 10 minutes.
Add all of your ingredients including the garlic and peppers to a food blender, Nutribullet or you can use a hand blender and puree the entire mix until smooth and creamy.
Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions and drain.
Put cooked pasta back into the pot it was cooked in and pour in your pepper sauce.
Heat the sauce through until piping hot and serve.

This sauce can also be served as a dip too. I chopped up some carrots and had a dip and it was pretty delish!

Infused Olive Oils

Olive oil is one of the good ones, full of the good fats and an essential cooking product for the healthy chef.

To heat on the pan when cooking or drizzle over salad as a dressing alternative, its just something you need to have in the cupboard.
A great way to enjoy olive oil more and use it more diversely is to infuse it with your favourite herbs and spices.
This is just a quick post to show you how to create some really interesting flavours that you can then add to your favourite cooked dishes and especially salads.
Essentially all you need is a big bottle of good quality olive oil, some smaller glass bottles or jars and your desired ingredients to add to the oil.
Below is the guide for:

Chili Oil
Garlic Oil
Basil Oil
Rosemary Oil

Basil Oil
3-4 sprigs fresh Basil
½ cup olive oil

Rosemary Oil
3-4 sprigs Rosemary
½ cup olive oil

Chili Oil
1 tbsp Red Chili Flakes
1 to 2 whole, dried Thai chilies
½ cup olive oil

For each of the above ingredients, the recipe is pretty simple.
Stuff your herb or chili into the bottle or jar you are going to use.
Warm the olive oil on a pan until it starts to bubble slightly.
Ten pour the oil into the jar and seal tightly.
Store in the fridge overnight and it will be ready to use.

Garlic Oil
4 cloves Garlic, peeled
Juice from ¼ lemon
1 to 2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Garlic infused oil is a bit more complex to put together as uncooked garlic can cause food poisoning.
So, half your garlic cloves steep them in the lemon juice.
Then roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Add the cloves to a small airtight container and pour the oil over the cloves until they are covered in oil.
Refrigerate overnight and then strain the oil into a jar or bottle and seal.
Do not add the garlic cloves to the bottle.

These oils can be used and stored for about 10-14 days. I would recommend storing them in the fridge also.

Homemade Fit Food – Peanut Butter Dip

This little winner is so simple to make and will help you keep on track with all the healthy changes you’ve been making.
Packed with protein and energy, this dip will fill you nicely before or after a workout or will wait quietly for you in the fridge for when you have a burst of craves.
Give it a lash and let me know what you reckon?!

Ingredients

½ cup (Low Fat) Greek Yogurt
¼ cup good quality Peanut Butter (crunchy is better in my opinion for this but up to you!)
½ Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Method

Not even a recipe guys, throw all 3 ingredients into the blender or Nutribullet or even use a bit of elbow grease and mix until even.
Chop up some fruit or veg or whatever you want to dip in and enjoy the yummy goodness 🙂

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Homemade Hummus

When making small changes to your diet to become healthier, another ideal food to add to the menu is Hummus. Hummus is mainly made from Chick Peas that are packed with protein, fibre and omega 3.
You can use it as a trusty condiment for snacks or as an alternative dip or side sauce for more substantial meals. One of the most well known ways to have hummus is with carrot batons but I also like to use it as an alternative to mayonnaise or butter on (porridge) bread, crackers, wraps. My favourite way to have it is with Falafel as a side sauce. The two are a match made in heaven.

You can also vary the flavours of hummus you have if you want to keep it interesting and enticing.
Flavours such as garlic & lemon, roast carrot, red pepper and my favourite, beetroot, are just some examples of how you can spice it up.

Here are the basic instructions to make it and I’ll include some tips on how to add the extra flavours further down.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas, rinsed
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp. Tahini
Pinch of Ground Cumin
1.5 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Simply combine all these ingredients into a food processor, blender or Nutribullet
and whizz until you reach the consistency you want.
You may need to add a tipple more of water or olive oil so keep going until you’re happy with how it looks.
Do a taste test and see if you want to add a bit more seasoning, its totes up to you how you want it to taste!

If you want to mix it up and make some beautifully coloured and flavoured hummus to show off, the recipe is easy to add to.

For roast carrot, pepper or beetroot hummus, simply chop up your chosen vegetable into small chunks, spread out on a baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes.
After you have made your base hummus, add the roast veg to the mixer and whizz it through.

For lemon & garlic hummus or sundried tomato and basil, again just chop up your desired ingredients and add them to the base hummus to combine.

Once you’ve made the base recipe, its hard to go wrong with adding different flavours so have some fun with it and enjoy the end result!

Green & Greek Yogurt Dips

If you are trying to make a few small changes to your diet but still find yourself unsure with certain condiments such as salad dressings,
what oils to use, full fat or fat free, this post might be able to help out a bit.
An ideal way to swap out the Ceaser or sour cream is to whip up some Greek Yogurt with a few other ingredients to fuse together a fine substitute.
Greek yogurt is a staple in my diet and I try to use it wherever possible. Below are a few ways I dress it up to make it even more delicious and versatile.

Avocado and Greek Yogurt Dip and Dressing

Ingredients

1 Avocado
150 grams (low fat) Grek Yogurt
1 Clove Garlic
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Sprig Fresh Parsley

Method

Throw all of your ingredients into a food blender or processor and whizz until smooth and creamy.
That is literally it!
If you want to use this as a salad dressing, just add the juice of another 1/2 lemon and 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil to the ingredients list.

Cucumber Dip / Tzatziki

Ingredients

1/2 regular Cucumber, chopped
150 grams (low fat) Grek Yogurt
1 Clove Garlic
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Sprig Fresh Dill
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Combine all your ingredients in a blender or processor until even and smooth.
Done!
This one goes great with lamb or in a wrap.

Yogurt and Mint Dip

Ingredients

1 cup Fresh Mint
150 grams (low fat) Grek Yogurt
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

You’ve guessed it – Throw it all in the blender and whizz until smooth.

I also like to add some garlic and herbs to his one and marinate some chicken fillets in it.
After about 4 hours of marinating, place chicken fillet in the oven and bake.
Guilt free and gorgeous!

Pesto Hey Presto!

Pesto is one of those inventions that, to me anyway, is truly life changing.
It’s just so damn good!
A pretty recent foodie phenomenon, this simple mix of ingredients transforms an everyday dish into something elegant and exotic, never mind frickin’ gorgeous.
The best part is, pesto is ridiculously easy to make and here I’m going to share with you some of my favourite pesto flavours.
I use my Nutribullet to make my pesto but you can use a pestle and mortar or a regular food processor or blender either, whatever is available.

Basil Pesto

1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 large knob parmesan
2 clove garlic
Large dash of olive oil
Lemon juice from ½ lemon
Small handful of pine nuts or pumpkin seeds for some crunch
Salt & Pepper to taste

Spinach Pesto

1 cup baby spinach
1 cup fresh basil
1 large knob parmesan
2 clove garlic
Large dash of olive oil
Lemon juice of ½ lemon
Small handful of pine nuts or pumpkin seeds for some crunch
Salt & Pepper to taste

Red Pepper Pesto

4 halved and roasted red peppers
1 cup fresh basil
2 clove garlic
Large dash of olive oil
Lemon juice of ½ lemon
Small handful of pine nuts or pumpkin seeds for some crunch
Salt and Pepper to taste

Literally just throw all of these ingredients into your appliance and whizz it all up until it reaches the consistency you like.
Toss through pasta, zucchini pasta or rice, serve as a dip with fresh bread or crudités or coat a salmon or chicken fillet before baking.
There are so many ways you can utilise pesto so get creative and have some fun with it.