At this time of the year the media is awash with “New Year New You” type campaigns, telling us all we must lose weight and get healthy. This can be helpful and unhelpful in equal measures. While eating more fresh fruit and veg and cutting down on processed food are certainly positive steps, we shouldn’t feel bad about the excesses of the Christmas season. Guilt is such a destructive emotion and being hard on yourself for indulging over Christmas is not helpful. In my view, it’s perhaps more constructive to look at what we are eating and focus on improving that rather than obsessing about all the weight we would like to lose. Think about nourishing your body and caring for yourself rather than depriving it. Forget calorie counting and think nutrient counting. The New Year brings new possibilities so why not why not try something new like an exotic fruit you were too scared to pick up in the supermarket. Stop counting how many maltesers you stuff into your gob from that leftover selection box and think how exquisitely gorgeous and refreshing a fruit salad can be. I’ve put together a couple of recipes to kick off the New Year in tasty, wholesome style. A joyous 2015 to you all xxx.
Pineapple Carpaccio Salad (serves 4)
1 medium sized pineapple
150g mango flesh (fresh or tinned if you can’t get a perfestly ripe, fresh one)
1 teaspoon caster sugar
juice and zest of half a lime
1 large clementine or mandarin orange.
1. Top and tail your pineapple with a large, sharp knife. Cut down the sides to remove the thick outer skin. Next, cut the softer flesh away from the hard core running down the centre.
2. Slice the lengths of pineapple flesh as thinly as possible and arrange on four small plates or one large one.
3. In a blender or food processor, blitz the mango flesh along with the lime juice and sugar. Add a little water if necessary to get a thick but slightly runny puree. Drizzle over the pineapple.
4. Peel the orange and remove the flesh from the skin. Scatter chunks of orange flesh over the pineapple. Finish by grating a little lime zest over the pineapple, mango and orange.
Bacon, Squash and Goats Cheese Salad (serves 3 to 4)
2-3 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped into lardons
1 small butternut squash
2-3 tablespoons honey
70g soft goats cheese
10- 15 cherry tomatoes washed
150g mixed salad leaves, washed
Half a cucumber
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
Approximately 6-8 tablespoons of sunflower or rapeseed oil.
For the dressing:
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons runny honey
1.5 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. On a chopping board, with a large sharp knife top and tail the butternut squash.
2. Carefully half the squash lengthways then scoop out and dispose of the seeds.
3. Cut each of the halves into large chunks and then cut the thick skin of each of these. (You could peel the butternut squash whole but I just find this way easier and safer!)
4. Cut the squash into smaller chunks and put aside for a minute.
5. Put the rapeseed or sunflower oil in a roasting dish and place in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Toss in the squash and sprinkle over the rosemary. Make sure the rosemary and squash get fully tossed in the oil as dry herbs will burn and become bitter. You could drizzle it over it and then place it in the oven but I find heating the oil first makes the squash crispier and tastier. Drizzle over the honey and place in the oven.
6. Roast for about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. While the butternut squash is roasting, fry off the bacon lardons and then pat with kitchen paper to remove excess grease.
7. To prepare the cucumber, slice it down lengthways and using a teaspoon, scoop out the watery seeds and bin them. Cut the cucumber into small chunks.
8. To prepare the dressing place all of the dressing ingredients in a container with a secure lid and shake vigorously.
9. Remove the butternut squash from the oven (once it has roasted for 20 minutes) and pat with kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Allow to cool a little.
10. To assemble the salad, place the leaves in a large bowl or 4 individual bowls. Scatter over the tomatoes, cucumber chunks, roast squash and bacon. Crumble over the goats cheese and drizzle over the dressing. Serve with fresh crusty bread.