Tag: spinach

Breakfast bread & butter bake

held back on the alliteration in that title – after all, I used brown bread, and British vegetables, and considered some bonus bacon. But I figured just the four Bs would be cheesy enough.

Having the time and space to make a proper breakfast feels like a funny little luxury to me. It’s the pottering around in a quiet kitchen, coffee brewing on the table while I whisk ingredients. It’s the joy of keeping one eye on what’s cooking and your mind on how the day might unfold. Breakfast is the reason I dream of having a big kitchen with lots of natural light – as much as I love the challenge of a layer cake or the satisfaction of making a complicated dinner, it’s those mornings sipping sweet tea and flipping pancakes in pyjamas that I fantasise about.

There’s a possibility it’s the wrong week to suggest making breakfast in your oven, but I’ll say this: at least it isn’t waffles. I spent Monday morning sweating away in the kitchen making waffles for breakfast, stood over the iron and in front of the oven keeping them warm and occasionally putting my head into the fridge. Worth it? Yeah, especially when I realised I had leftover crumble topping to throw on them, but I can’t say I’ll be repeating it while the weather is so warm. This recipe means you can pop it in and leave the room to avoid overheating.

It makes the most of leftovers – the half pack of mushrooms, a handful of spinach, a few slices of bread, however much cheese you’ve got kicking about – and uses the vegetables that are in season right now.

We do it like this.

Serves four, or three quite hungry people.

Breakfast bread & butter bake // The Dinner Bell

Ingredients

100g mushrooms, sliced
12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed and stems cut into thirds
3 large eggs
375ml milk
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
6 slices old bread, halved diagonally
A generous handful of spinach
Chunk of cheese (as much as you like! I did not get these thighs by measuring cheese)
Seasoning
Butter, for greasing

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C, and grease a medium sized baking dish.
  2. Over medium heat in a large pan, cook the asparagus pieces and mushroom slices until just softening. As they cook, whisk together the eggs, milk, and mustard.
  3. Remove the mushrooms and asparagus from the heat. Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture, transfer to the baking dish, almost-standing, and layer with mushroom, asparagus and spinach, and repeat. When all the bread and vegetables are arranged in the dish, grate as much cheese as you fancy over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

Seasonal greens & chorizo – two ways

Can we be super honest? I’m a lazy cook. When it’s not bashing out a batch at the weekend, cooking means evening meals, and that window of time between work and bed is one that I cherish. It’s for reading, or baths, or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. It’s not the time to create a masterpiece in the kitchen.

But there’s room for not-quite-recipes: the food you can prepare with one knife and one pan, making the most of seasonal veg at its simplest. This is one such throw-these-things-together plan, which allows you to prep tomorrow’s high-protein breakfast frittata(ish) while you eat dinner.

Go forth and exercise that scrolling thumb. Read More

Spicy spring pasta with spinach and pea pesto

Did I add those ingredients just so I could have a fun title? I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t part of the equation — but mostly it’s about the snuck-in secret veggies, because there’s something weirdly satisfying about being able to tick off your five a day very swiftly by whipping up spinach and pea pesto.

Spicy spring pasta with spinach and pea pesto // The Dinner BellWhat can I say? I lead a thoroughly rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

Honestly, this week we’re all craving green things, whether it’s because we’ve acquired a lot of chocolate or just down to the brighter skies that come with switching the clocks back, (although that always seems to mean losing an hour’s sleep).

But it’s time for fresh starts, again, and rediscovery — the “tomorrow” we were awaiting the arrival of before it’d be sensible to look to getting in shape is here. And so we shake off the darkness of winter, peeling it away like soggy shoes after a rainy commute, and we dig into recipe books, reminding ourselves what vegetables look like, and we chuck in some extras.
Read More

In season: September (the immune system support edition!)

Litres of orange juice and tea. Mugs of soup and bowls of crumble. Olbas oil-drenched hankies. These are the things we’re really clutching this month, as the “back to school” cold sweeps the country, whether you’re actually at school or not.

So, September’s round up is a bit different to the usual, focusing more on what we can eat to help give our immune systems a helping hand in fighting against the sniffles. Read More

In Season: October

In season

So, it’s not really a matter of “in season” but it’s the season for pumpkin, right? This year, the hoopla around pumpkin seems to have come to a peak – my local supermarket was overrun with them from the first of October and, well, the telltale sign is the bizarre backlash in the media. I’ve seen for-and-against. I’ve seen pumpkin spice hate. This, on the cultural significance of it all, was a really interesting read. But more importantly, the food! One of my favourite pumpkin finds was pumpkin spice chocolate muffins with maple cream cheese frosting (Flourishing Foodie).

Aaaand onwards, to the rest of what’s in in October. Read More

That zincing feeling

As far as play on words go, that was pretty bad, I know. I’m sorry. Let’s move swiftly on, shall we? This is a longish story, and perhaps contains a little too much information. I’ll probably cringe as  I hit the publish button. It’s a story about my face, inspired by this post on adult acne by the oh-so-fabulous Laura Jane Williams, who also wrote an entire ebook on acne which is pretty damn good.

Now, I wouldn’t call my face situation adult acne, mostly because at 22 I don’t class myself as an adult, despite the fact that I now have to pay council tax. Sadly, to the rest of the world that’s probably what I am.

During my teenage years, the universe, not content with making me ginger, overweight, short sighted and a brace wearer, threw a healthy dose of pizza face my way. Really, it was never that bad and I’ve not been left with any acne scars, but it was enough that I spent 8 years on the hunt for a cure.

When I approached my doctor, they prescribed me with a roll-on solution, with an aroma much like chip shop vinegar, to apply to my face every morning and night. It worked. It made me smell like a fish and chip wrapper, and gave my skin the feel of a recently wiped chalkboard, but it really did help my skin.

Sadly, the last thing an 18-year-old girl wants is vinegar face, particularly when it comes to snuggling down for the night with a fella. Nothing says “Worship me, for I am a goddess” less than snogs that taste like that anti-biting nail varnish your mum made you use when you were 7.

At university, passed between doctors that saw dozens of students every day, things improved slightly, starting with a puzzled GP asking me why I was on the pill and applied acne medication. She looked at my records and saw that at no point had my doctors at home tried to merge these 2 medications by moving me onto a pill that’s better for skin.

It was a start. But none of them – none of the dozen or so doctors I’ve seen in the past 8 years about my skin – mentioned that I might not need medication for it at all.

Let’s back up a second. That original medication. The one that worked, but made my face smell distinctly unappealing. The active ingredients in that solution had 2 main functions: inhibiting bacteria growth (ew), and getting zinc into the skin.

The recommended daily allowance for zinc is 5.5-9.5mg for men and 4-7mg for women

So I did my research and it turns out that zinc is an unsung hero. Despite being one of the lesser vitamins and minerals in terms of recommended intake, it’s linked to a wide array of bodily processes: most notably, the immune system and cell renewal. It’s also linked with fatigue, which explained being constantly tired, and stress. The puzzle pieces all came together and, without any medical professional saying so, I knew that the problem wasn’t acne that needed meds. I just needed to get more zinc.

You could say that making the following changes means a generally healthier diet which would of course lead to improved skin. But when I flicked through my mother’s well-thumbed copy of “Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal”, I raced to the shops to buy supplements, not actual food, and within days the situation got better. These days, it’s all about getting it through small changes in diet, and if I fall off the wagon a few green smoothies sort me right out. Here’s my top 5 foods for getting more zinc without faddy eating.

Spinach

Spinach isn’t just for Popeye. I can’t say it’s made me particularly strong yet, but it’s one of my favourite ways to get a quick hit of zinc and a load of other vitamins, blitzed up in a green smoothie with apple juice and ginger. Zing!

But it doesn’t have to feel like a health food, as this deliciously cheesy spinach bake at Smitten Kitchen shows. Good news there, too – 100g of cheddar cheese will give you 3.11mg of zinc. I probably wouldn’t recommend eating that much cheese, though. Nobody likes the cheese sweats.

0.53mg per 100g
Also a good source of: vitamins K, A, C, B1, B2, B6 and E, and manganese, iron, and calcium.

Seeds

Roasted pumpkin and squash seeds and dried watermelon seeds provide a whole lot of zinc in a really small space, with about 10mg of zinc per 100g, so there’s no excuse for not eating those watermelon pips. Throw seeds into your breakfast, straight into your mouth, or on top of a cake (totally counts). There are also some amazing sounding recipes for pumpkin seeds here.

Dark chocolate

I know, I know, it just keeps getting better and better. High cocoa content (70-85%) dark chocolate contains up to 9.6mg of zinc per 100g, whereas milk chocolate contains around 2.3mg.

Chickpeas

Nope, that doesn’t mean eating a lot of houmous. Chickpeas can be worked into main meals really easily, by adding them to meat dishes and curries to make the most of their 3.4mg/100g zinc levels. For a sweeter tooth, honey cinnamon roasted chickpeas may be the way forward.

Shellfish

Shellfish are among the most zinc-rich foods out there. Oysters ranking as the most laden with 3.49mg zinc per oyster, whereas crab provides 5.5mg/100g. There’s a good excuse to go to that fancy seafood restaurant, eh?

Please note this does not constitute medical advice. I’m not trained in health in any capacity – this is simply what has worked for me and it is possible to overdo zinc consumption. Visit NHS Choices for more information on zinc and consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet! 

Main image courtesy of yannickgar/Flickr.

Wholemeal spinach, goats cheese and prosciutto pizza

At 4pm, every single day, my phone goes off. It’s that time of day when I’m at my desk, the weight of my lunch having left my stomach, considering a cup of coffee and something to eat. And then my phone vibrates somewhere off to my left.

It’s a text about pizza.

It’s not always a text – sometimes it’s an email. It’s not always Dominos – sometimes it’s Papa Johns or Pizza Hut, because I’m not that into brand loyalty. Sometimes within a five minute window I get two, from two different companies. It’s no coincidence of course – 4pm is when we’re in a slump, between meals and with flagging attention spans. But every time it makes me want a cheesy, gooey delight.

Wholemeal-PizzaTo make it clear, I’m not the kind of pizza eater that can sit down with a side salad and a glass of wine and have a sophisticated pizza-eating session. The vast majority of my pizza experiences in recent years have occurred in one of two ways. A) When I’m walking home after a night out, having repeatedly asked “But what is the rum gone?”, and in desperate need of all of the carbs; or B) 9 hours after A) having sat starring at my laptop whining, “But why doesn’t anyone deliver pizza before 12 o’clock? It’s 10am and I need a meat feast with cheesy crust NOW!”, and then spending two hours gazing forlornly at my un-knocked-upon front door, waiting for a man in a motorbike helmet to relieve my pain.

So you can see why, until recently, I’d never made pizza at home – honestly, it sounded kind of a pain in the ass. It sounded like all the faff of bread making but with added hassle with sorting out toppings. That’s not what you need at 6pm on a weeknight, let alone after one too many bottles glasses of wine. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This is the part of the post where I should be all “But it was so easy! So quick!” But a liar I am not.

It was kind of a pain in the ass. Even using a quick dough from Smitten Kitchen, it takes a while, although admittedly this is at least in part because I like to jam as much garlic into tomato sauce as possible. But being able to control exactly what goes into it makes the whole job more worth it, because there’s no uneven cheese distribution, and no mystery fat left pooling in a cardboard box when the rest has been hoovered up by your hungover face. You can’t get tricked into eating green peppers.

And the absence of peppers, alone, makes it worth it. See ya later, Pizza Hut. Sayonara, Papa Johns. Au revoir, Dominos.

Notes

Pizza dough recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
I used half plain flour and half wholemeal bread flour, but you could use 200g plain flour, or 200g white bread flour. If not using wholemeal flour, you will need less water.
Unearthed prosciutto is currently on offer in Waitrose!
I drizzled the cooked pizza with a little balsamic vinegar and served it with a rocket salad.

Serves 2

Ingredients

7g (one sachet) fast action dried yeast
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal bread flour
1tsp salt
Approximately 150ml warm water
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
3/4 cup passata or chopped tomatoes
30g cheddar, grated
50g mozzarella, sliced
A handful of spinach, or more as desired
50g goats cheese, sliced
40g prosciutto, chopped

Method

1) Stir together the flours, yeast, and salt, then gradually add the water, mixing with a wooden spoon, until the dough comes roughly together – you may not need all of the water. Gather the dough and tip out onto a lightly floured counter to knead it for about 5 minutes, so that the dough becomes smooth.
2) Coat a medium sized bowl with olive oil, place the dough in it, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to double in size (about half an hour).
3) While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 170C.
4) Lightly fry the onion and garlic until soft, and then add the passata or chopped tomato and simmer over a low heat.
5) When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out, lightly knead it. Tear off a piece of baking parchment just bigger than your baking tray and on this roll out the dough into a rough square the size of your baking tray, about half a centimetre thick.
6) Spread the tomato sauce onto your base, and then layer with the remaining ingredients – apart form the prosciutto – as you wish. (I went sauce, cheddar, mozzarella, spinach, goats cheese).
7) Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes before adding the prosciutto. Bake for a further 15-25 minutes, until the base of the pizza is mid-brown underneath.