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Chicken Noodle Soup

 

Chicken Noodle Soup
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Serves: 4
 

This soup is really quick to make. Perfect for when you have some left-over chicken. The noodles will keep you full. You can vary the vegetables depending on what is in the fridge. You could add some finely chopped peppers at the start or some frozen peas near the end. If you don’t have noodles, you could use some cooked barley. You can make this in advance and it is perfect for your office lunch the next day.
Ingredients
  • Cooked chicken (roast leftovers are perfect), chopped
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped)
  • 2 sticks of celery (finely chopped)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 leek (finely chopped)
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock. Bunalun or other quality stock.
  • 150g Fine Egg Noodles
  • Large bunch of Parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil and some Butter
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the butter, carrot, celery, onion and leek and sweat for 5 minutes until soft
  2. Add the stock and bring to the boil
  3. Add the noodles and chicken
  4. If using frozen peas, add now
  5. Add salt and pepper, and chopped parsley

 

Kale Crisps

 

Kale Crisps
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Serves: 2
 

Like myself, you may not be the biggest fan of Kale, but I promise even the most hardened veggie-phobe will find these difficult to resist! You can make extra, but you will probably end up eating them all.
Ingredients
  • 70g (half a bag) of Kale
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch of Salt

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 140 C
  2. Tear the kale off the stem and into bite sized pieces. Wash and dry it well.
  3. Mix the other ingredients in a large bowl. It will have a thick consistency
  4. Add the kale and use your hands to cover the kale with the dressing.
  5. Place on a baking tray on some parchment paper
  6. Put in the oven for approx. 15 – 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, check every 5 minutes until they are all crispy but not burnt.

Porridge Bread

Oats are a superfood and are the best and cheapest of all breakfast cereals. They provide slow release energy as well as soluble fibre, which when eaten daily, can help lower your cholesterol by up to 20%. They also help regulate sugar metabolism. No flour or sugar is used to make this bread, so no bloating guaranteed. Top with your favourite toppings (some options are included below).

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Serves: 10
 

Ingredients
  • 1 x 500ml tub natural yoghurt
  • 2 tubs porridge oats (use the yoghurt pot as a measure)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 ml milk (approx.)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C (180 C for a fan assisted oven)
  2. Grease a 1 lb loaf tin and line with a strip of parchment paper
  3. Pour the yoghurt into a bowl
  4. Measure two tubs of porridge oats using the yoghurt pot and place in a bowl with the baking soda and salt.
  5. Add the yoghurt, milk and olive oil and mix well.
  6. The consistency could be dry, so you may need to add a little more milk.
  7. Place in the loaf tin and bake for approx. 1 hour. You can check if it is done by placing a skewer into the loaf. The skewer should come out more or less clean (not wet).
  8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing and placing on a wire rack.

 

Sample Toppings

  • Hummus, pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley
  • Peanut butter and banana
  • Chopped beetroot, crumbled goats cheese, mixed with a spoon of greek yoghurt
  • Avocado, goats cheese, strawberries and black pepper
  • Tuna, crème fraiche, spring onion, lemon zest and capers
  • Prawns and avocado with a dollop of crème fraiche
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives

The Sugar Rush

This week, social media and office canteens were full of discussion on 2 health related programmes on RTE. Dr Eva’s “Sugar Crash” and Operation Transformation, which is back for another year.

While I was not a fan of Dr Eva, I did find her programme very interesting. She has also written some interesting articles on sugar in the Daily Mail recently. It was quite shocking to see a 4 year old having all of their teeth pulled out because they were rotten. Even more fascinating was that the child hardly ever ate sweets. The culprit? Apple Juice. Now it is possible that there were other factors in losing all of her teeth, but the key message was that we need to be aware of what is in our food. Check the labels for anything sugar related (sugar has over 60 different names such as sucrose, corn syrup, maltose, rice syrup, etc), and understand how much sugar can be in common products. For example, a kid’s carton of juice can have 4 teaspoons of sugar, a fruit yoghurt 7 teaspoons, and a can of coke 10 teaspoons.

Moving on to Operation Transformation. It is a program that really engages the nation and it is great to see people out exercising in groups. You have to credit the leaders for putting themselves out there. They have some great characters on this year’s show. In particular Dan, who is 44, lives at home with his Mammy and likes his pints with the lads. He gave up the pints, cut out the crap and  started some moderate exercise. The end result: he lost 12 pounds in 1 week.

So what can we take away from these programmes. The key messages were:

  • Avoid processed foods. If it is in a packet, it is probably not good for you.
  • Reduce your sugar intake. Learn to read the labels and avoid non-natural sources
  • Exercise regularly. Take the stairs or get out for a walk.
  • And moderate alcohol. Follow the recommended weekly allowances (and not all in one sitting!)

 

Sugar Crash is available on RTE player at http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/sugar-crash-30003820/10515448/ and Operation Transformation is on RTE1 on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

#sugarcrush #operationtransformation

 

Farm to Table

Do you know where your food really comes from? What does “Produced in Ireland” really mean? And what about pre-packed gas-flushed meat in a supermarket? And what is dry or wet-aged beef?

Last week I was lucky enough to get a tour of a working farm in Inchydoney, Clonakilty owned by Leslie Beamish, followed by an informative speech by local butcher Mike O’Neill. Grazing along the sea are a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle. Their main staple is the naturally salted grass, which adds a fantastic flavour to the beef. The cattle will mature for 18 – 24 months, and are slaughtered just 2 miles away in his abattoir on the edge of Clonaklity town.

 

Talk to your local butcher to find out where your beef comes from.

 

What does Produced in Ireland or Origin Ireland really mean?

Bord Bia operates a Q or Quality mark. Ideally you want to see Origin Ireland on the label which ensures that it is produced and processed in the Republic of Ireland. You can find more info here http://www.bordbia.ie/consumer/qualityassurance/Pages/default.aspx

 

 

Dry-Aged vs Wet-Aged Beef

Dry-aged beef is meat that is naturally hung by most butchers after being slaughtered. This helps to break down the fibres in the meat to make it more tender. But dry-aging will lose moisture, and therefore weight, which is why the majority of supermarkets will wet-age their beef. Wet-aged beef is aged in a vacuum sealed bag. For more info see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_aging

What is gas-flushing

There is a lot of science around this, but in short, it is altering the amount of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide that is in pre-packaged goods, with the aim of prolonging the shelf-life. The oxygen content is reduced and carbon monoxide can even be added to maintain the red colour of the beef. I read separately that gas-flushing chicken can increase the shelf life from 6 to 18 days!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modified_atmosphere

Mike also mentioned that shoppers generally want the more expensive cuts, but the real flavour lies in the cheaper cuts. We seem unwilling to buy cuts of beef like brisket, oxtail or daube/cheek for a couple of euro, but would happily part with our hard earned euros for the same dish in a Michelin starred restaurant.

Yes, they need a bit more time to cook, but it is so worth it.

So no matter what your budget is, drop into your local butcher. You’ll find they are a world of knowledge and would be only too happy to suggest something different.

5 minute Pecan Chocolate Brownies

Once in a while, you come across a recipe that is so good, you almost can’t bring yourself to share with someone. But I’m a nice guy and I’m in a generous mood today; no cook, gluten free, dairy free (in fact everything free) chocolate brownies. My wife makes these with the intention of giving the kids a healthy treat, but they manage to get at very few of them. These brownies take all of 5 minutes to make and must be eaten from frozen. Hide well at the back of the freezer!

Check out the recipe here

http://terrylyons.ie/recipes/pecan-chocolate-brownies/

Pecan Chocolate Brownies

Pecan Chocolate Brownies
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Serves: 15
 

No cook, gluten free, dairy free (in fact everything free) chocolate brownies
Ingredients
  • 200g Pecan nuts
  • 10-12 Medjool dates (de-stoned)
  • 6-8 tbsp good quality Cocoa Powder (Green and Blacks)
  • Sea Salt

Instructions
  1. Blitz the nuts in a food processor until roughly chopped.
  2. Add a generous pinch of salt
  3. Add the dates one at a time and pulse until each date is combined
  4. Add the cocoa powder and pulse briefly until the cocoa powder is fully incorporated.
  5. Place on a lined baking tray and flatten with a spatula
  6. Put in the freezer for one hour, remove, and cut into squares.
  7. Place in container and store in the freezer. Eat straight from the freezer.

 

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Chocolate Beetroot Cake
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Serves: 16
 

A delicious and goo-ey Paleo friendly chocolate cake. If you don’t have gluten free baking powder, just use normal baking powder. But it will not be strict paleo. This is based on a Sara Jane White recipe
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pitted Mejool dates
  • 125g good quality cocoa powder (and extra for dusting)
  • 1 cup of puréed beetroot (about 3 beetroots from a precooked vacuum pack, make sure it has no vinegar!)
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 medium eggs
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180c /160c fan
  2. Grease and line the bottom of a 20cm round cake tin or springform tin
  3. Boil the dates in a small saucepan in about 3cm of water for 10 – 15min and then purée at high speed in a blender
  4. Add the beetroot, cocoa powder, and salt to the dates and blend until smooth
  5. Add the eggs, oil, vanilla and baking powder and blend until well mixed
  6. Pour the batter into the cake tin and place in the oven – NB once the cake is in the oven lower the heat to 170c / 150c fan
  7. Bake for 40 – 55 mins
  8. The cake should be more like a ganache torte so be careful not to over cook
  9. Once baked allow to cool completely before removing it from the tin
  10. Dust with cocoa powder before serving

 

I’ll have my cake and eat it!

So the #30daychallenge is over. It coincided nicely with a christening we were having, so I enjoyed the food, the cake and the wine even more. I found the last 4 days very hard. Probably because I knew the end was in sight and I was sick of limiting myself to certain foods.

Overall, I found it a very beneficial exercise. I’ve a lot more energy and I am sleeping sounder each night. I did lose weight at the start, but as that was not what I wanted, I added some extra food into my diet and finished at the same weight I started, although much more toned. I do have the before and after photos and the difference is very noticeable. (My wife won’t let me post the photo, so you will have to take my word for it!)

Will I keep to the changes? I’ll keep to the majority of them. First back into my diet is oats and dairy and having tried a few paleo/gluten free/sugar free attempts at cakes, I think I’ll just treat myself to the full on, sugar laden, fat filled authentic version of Tiramisu every now and then (and less than before.)

I’ll definitely be cutting out the bread, pasta, grains (excluding oats) and pulses, as well as significantly cutting back on sugar. But if a recipe calls for some soy sauce or some baking powder, then I’ll have no problem using it.

For something healthy-ish, here is a recipe for tasty banana bread.

http://terrylyons.ie/recipes/healthy-banana-bread/

 

Chicken and Chorizo Stew

Chicken and Chorizo Stew
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Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 100g chorizo, fresh if possible, sliced
  • 6 chicken thighs + 2 chicken breasts, chopped
  • Red and yellow pepper, chopped
  • 300ml Chicken Stock
  • 15 baby tomatoes

Instructions
  1. Cook the onion for 5 mins and then add the garlic
  2. After 1 minute, add the chorizo and cook for 1 minute
  3. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes
  4. Add the peppers and the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute
  5. Finally, add the chicken stock and cover with a lid, cooking for 30-40 minutes until the stock has reduced.