Fit to Eat

Farro salad with a citrus parmesan dressing

This makes a great post-work out (or a speedy after-work) supper as it can be prepared ahead of time and just dressed at the last minute. Farro is a wonderfully healthy grain and has a slight chewy texture and a pronounced nutty flavour. However, it’s sometimes hard to get hold of so here it can be replaced with barley, buck wheat, red or brown rice, quinoa or whatever other healthy-ish grain you have to hand! Tofu or a low-fat cheese can also be substituted for the chicken. The flavoursome dressing really brings all the ingredients together. Serves 4-6.

300g farro

200g fine green beans

100g pine nuts


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Small head of broccoli

3 spring onions

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2 large chicken breasts, grilled or roasted

Handful of finely grated parmesan

Small bunch of tarragon

Small bunch of parsley

Small bunch of mint

1 lemon

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

1 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp agave nectar or honey

2 tbsp orange juice

Method

Cook the farro in boiling salted water for about 20 minutes or until just done, then drain and set aside to cool. Cut the broccoli into small florets and the green beans in half and steam them until al dente then spread out on a tea towel to cool. (I don’t refresh them in cold water here as this just waterlogs them and they need to be able to suck up the dressing.)

To make the dressing roughly chop the herbs and zest and juice the lemon. In a wide jug or bowl whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and zest, mustard and agave nectar until emulsified into a dressing. Gently stir in the herbs and parmesan, season to taste and chill in the fridge until you are ready to use.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly golden and chop the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Place these in a large bowl with the farro, beans and broccoli and pour over the dressing. Mix gently to combine (using your hands is the best way to do this) and then tip out onto a large platter and scatter with a few extra tarragon leaves or parsley.

Espresso Powerbars

These high-energy nut and seed bars are super-charged with a dose of ground espresso beans which gives them a pretty speckled top and very more-ish quality! Other than the fat that naturally occurs in the nuts and seeds these are fat-free and the sweetness comes from natural sugars in honey and agave nectar. Makes 16–20 pieces.

200g whole rolled oats

100g whole almonds

100g pecan nuts

50g pumpkin seeds

100g whole grain rice crispies

100g desiccated coconut

2 tbsp ground espresso beans

2 tsps vanilla extract

50ml agave nectar

100ml honey

Pinch sea salt

Method

Grease an 18 x 27cm non-stick baking tin and pre-heat the oven to 180ËšC/gas mark 4. Coarsely chop the pecan nuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds, place upon a baking tray with the coconut and bake for about 5 minutes or until the coconut is golden brown. Pour into a large bowl and when cooled tip in the rice crispies.

Place the honey, agave nectar, vanilla extract, salt and ground espresso beans in a small saucepan and warm over a gentle heat until simmering then bubble for 2-3 minutes. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir gently until well mixed. Tip into the greased baking tray and press down firmly with a potato masher (warmed with boiling water to prevent the mixture sticking) and leave to cool at room temperature. When solidified (a quick blast in the freezer helps this) cut into squares and store in the refrigerator.

Salmon and sesame burgers

These are high in protein and low in fat (the topping is even a skinny version of tartare sauce) and are a super-healthy way to make a ‘burger’. Although it might look as though they’re going to fall apart when you shape them, the egg white acts as a binding agent when they cook and holds them together. Makes approx. 12 small burgers.

3 x 3cm wide fillets of salmon

2 large egg whites

2 tbsps of sesame seeds

2 sticks of celery

Half a red onion

1 fat clove garlic

Handful of dill

Handful of parsley

2 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise

200ml low-fat Greek yoghurt or low-fat crème fraiche

2 tsps capers

2 lemons

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180ËšC/gas mark 4. Place the salmon fillets on a piece of greaseproof paper (the skin of the salmon conveniently sticks to this when they’re cooked allowing you to lift the pink flesh easily away from the skin), season then place on a baking tray and cook for approx. 15 minutes or until cooked through. When cool enough to handle flake the fish and refrigerate until ready to use.

Zest and juice the lemons and very finely chop the red onion, celery, clove of garlic and the herbs (keeping half the chopped herbs for the tartare sauce). In a large bowl mix together the flaked salmon red onion, celery, garlic, lemon zest, half the herbs and some seasoning. Then add the egg whites and sesame seeds and combine well. Shape in to small ‘burger’ shapes and chill in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

To make the tartare sauce: roughly chop the capers and mix together with the yoghurt, mayonnaise, the remaining chopped herbs and enough of the lemon juice to achieve the desired thickness of sauce. Season to taste and refrigerate.

To cook the salmon burgers lightly grease a baking tray or spray with ‘one-cal’ olive oil spray and bake at 180ËšC/gas mark 4 for about 8–10 minutes or until cooked right through and lightly golden. Serve on a bed of courgette ribbons with a dollop of the tartare sauce on top of each salmon burger.

This is a lose take on the term ‘Olympic’ with colours of the component ingredients roughly mimicking the colours of the Olympic rings. It’s a pretty way to present a salad and would also work well if you’re serving a selection of chopped fruit for a healthy dessert. I used blueberries here really just for the colour but they do add a  refreshing sweetness to a salad. Serves 6-8 as a side salad.

Olympic salad

2 small baby gem lettuce

3 large peppers (red, green and yellow or orange)

400g baby tomatoes (a selection or red, orange and yellow if available)

2 sticks celery

3 spring onions

Handful of blueberries

Large handful of kale

2 tsps honey

2 tsps whole grain mustard

1 lemon

3tbsp orange juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Handful of mint

Handful of dill

Handful of parsley

Method

Steam the kale and set aside to cool. Finely chop the herbs and the spring onion and then dice the peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and celery. Arrange the chopped salad vegetables in stripes on a large flat platter, cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

For the dressing, zest and juice the lemon and whisk together with the honey, mustard, orange juice, olive oil. Stir in the chopped herbs, season to taste, cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Avocado toast

This makes a great light lunch or snack dish and the creamy avocado more than makes up for butter on the bread. It’s also good topped with finely chopped nuts and a sprinkling of a crumbled salty cheese such as feta or goats cheese

3-4 slices of wholegrain bread

1 ripe avocado

2 sticks finely chopped celery

Small handful flat parsley

1 lemon

Method

Finely chop the celery and roughly chop the parsley. Cut the avocado in half then de-stone, peel and chop into thick slices. Toast the bread then top with the avocado slices (squashing down with a knife to mash them up a bit), chopped celery and parsley. Season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper then serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze over.

 

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