Monthly Archives: March 2014

Carrot, Avocado and Wakame Salad

It seems like we have been eating this salad forever. We discovered seaweed when we used to frequent the Japanese restaurants in Antwerp, Belgium, a long time ago.  It became all the rage to play with seaweed in the kitchen, we’d cook Kombu with beans, make sushi with nori or toast it and crumble it onto soups and make salads with wakame .

Wakame is very easy to use. It’s sold dried so we keep it in the pantry and whenever we want to use it we just snip it into small pieces with scissors, pour boiling water over it and let it soak whilst we prepare the rest of the salad. It goes very well with cucumber but my personal favourite is grated carrots, avocado and toasted seeds. I eat it for lunch, it’s a great home alone dish and a real vitality buzz in the middle of the day.



For each portion;

200g carrots

about 5g of wakame seaweed

1 small ripe avocado

1tbs sunflower seeds

1tbs pumpkin seeds

a little soya sauce or tamari


For the dressing;

half tsp Dijon mustard

1 dsp white balsamic vinegar

3-4 tbs olive oil or rapeseed oil

a splash of soya sauce or tamari


Snip the wakame into small pieces with a pair of scissors and put it into a bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover.

Peel and grate the carrots and put them into the bowl that you’re going to eat from. Cut the avocado into quarters, remove the peel and chop it into small pieces. I let mine land around the carrots.

Put the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds into a dry pan and toast on medium heat until the seeds become golden – the pumpkins seeds will pop a little bit. When the seeds are golden remove from the heat and shake a little soya sauce or tamari over the seeds. Shake the sauce and the pan at the same time to get an even distribution. Drain the wakame and give it a good shake. Put a little pile in the middle, on top of the carrots and scatter the seeds on top.

To make the dressing put the Dijon mustard into small bowl. Whisk the vinegar in with a fork then whisk in the oil. Season with a little soya sauce or tamari.

Drizzle about half of the dressing on top of the salad and leave the rest close by in case you want more.



Paella Friday

Friday night was paella night, cooked by our Catalan neighbour. He makes a mean paella. It was so good, and we were so hungry that we didn’t remember to take any photos until we had eaten. We have one phone pic of a nearly empty pan and a pic of the contents of the nearly empty pan on the late diners plate.

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In fact by Friday night, rebellion had started to take grip and the detox began to fall apart. Five of the six fell by the wayside and had a glass of Rioja with the paella. The sixth neighbour was late and the bottle was empty.

It was an interesting week. We discovered that eating wheat, dairy and sugar free wasn’t too difficult but the funny thing that happened was the amount of animal protein that we suddenly consumed. On a regular week we might eat fish once and this would depend who cooks on a Friday as that’s the day the fish man is at the market  – last week we had two fish dinners and a chorizo hit. Maybe it was the lack of snacks that made us want to eat like that, who knows.

The community dinners are continuing but without such strict restrictions!

We eat so well and with so many variations that it doesn’t seem to make sense to deprive ourselves of food that we aren’t allergic to, each dinner is like a trip to a restaurant. Long live community dinners I say – it sure beats trashing our own kitchen every night!


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Chorizo – Wheat-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free!

‘Chorizo!. We can’t eat that can we?’ said the community dinner diner with a worried look thinking it must be off the list for the detox.he quickly broke into an eager grin when he realised that it was wheat, dairy and sugar free..


Last nights dinner was in two pots, chickpeas with vegetables for the vegetarians and chickpeas with chorizo, the tasty Spanish sausage that perks up any pot of beans for the chorizo eaters. Chorizo is like a flavour enhancer when cooked with beans. A little goes a long way and it takes the beans up a notch on the taste sensation front.  The vegetarian version has smoked paprika which gives a tasty Spanish kick to the pot.

It was accompanied with roasted potato wedges and butternut squash. IMG_1048

and a bowl bursting with vitality of green leaves from the garden.IMG_1045

Six happy diners once again.


Here’s the chickpea and chorizo recipe. If you want to make vegetarian version, leave out the chorizo, put in a teaspoon of smoked paprika and stir in some sautéed courgettes at the end (so that they don’t go soggy)

Chickpeas and Chorizo

400g cooked chickpeas

olive oil

1 large onion

2-3 sticks celery

3-4 cloves garlic

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

500g tomatoes or 1 can chopped tomatoes

2-3 chorizo sausages

Salt and pepper

Chopped parsley to serve

Peel and chop the onion and gently sauté in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Wash the celery, slice lengthwise then chop and add to the pan with the onion. Chop the peppers and add to pan, all the time cooking gently so the vegetables soften Add the garlic, peeled and chopped then slice the chorizo and add to pan. Cook gently until the chorizo begins to release its oil. Add the cooked chickpeas and tomatoes and bring everything to the boil, You may need to add a little water/ reserved cooking liquor from the chickpeas, if you cooked them yourself. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes


Mangoes and Salmon

IMG_1009It’s funny how we give something up only to crave for something else. I don’t know what it was that bought this dinner on, apart from the delicious mango sauce, as we usually avoid eating salmon because it’s farmed. This used to be quite difficult when the salmon fishing ban first came in. I enjoy eating salmon now and then but apart from the very occasional wild salmon that is available in the summer season we normally boycott the farmed salmon as it’s unsustainable.  The detox diet has overcome that protest It  seems to have jumbled these ethics. All I could think of was grilled salmon with fresh mango sauce – a sublime combination – so that’s what we had for dinner last night.IMG_1002

Stir fried sprouting broccoli, sugar snaps and courgettes, and brown basmati on the side.


Cutting out dairy, wheat and sugar doesn’t seem to be a problem on the what we really need to eat menu, i.e. breakfast, dinner, lunch. It’s the snacks and drinks that suddenly become inaccessible, most of what is in them is on the banned list. We seem to be snacking on an extraordinary amount of crisps.. We should probably put the crisps on the hit list as too many of them are definitely not good for you even if  they are wheat, dairy and sugar free

The mango sauce is the perfect fit for this kind of regime – the recipe has only ingredients that we can eat and it’s very simple to make. The difficult part might be finding the ripe mango but even green mangoes ripen in time so if it’s a bit hard, just stash it in the fruit bowl for a couple of days. Best put a large DO NOT EAT me sign on it if you don’t live alone to make sure someone else doesn’t discover it as it’s ready to go.

Mango Sauce

1 ripe mango

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 red chilli

3 cms ginger, peeled and chopped

2 lime leaves, (optional but very good), sliced very thinly

2 limes, juiced and also zested if you don’t have any lime leaves

75mls rapeseed or sunflower oil

1tbs nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

a handful of chopped coriander

Put everything except for the chopped coriander into a liquidiser or into jug and a hand held blender and buzz until smooth.

Stir in the chopped coriander and serve with grilled salmon or tuna – best cooked a little rare.


Community Dinners gone Mad

We have been taking it in turn to cook dinners in our little neighbourhood. There are six of us so this means we only have to cook once a week each with the day off every week in five. Saturdays and Sundays are left to our own adventures. It’s great system and we eat extremely well. So well that last week we were groaning and beginning to feel like teletubbies. Someone had the bright idea of a detox, no wheat, no sugar and no dairy for a week and we allowed ourselves to be coerced into this little plan.

It started today. I had cup of tea when I got up and rushed off to work. I don’t usually eat before I go as it’s too early to be hungry and I don’t get up early enough to sit down and eat. This was a bad start considering that I work in a kitchen. We had an extremely busy day and I couldn’t eat my usual fresh scone mid morning as it’s made with wheat – and the butter and jam would have been out too. By the time I got to eat my lunch my usual salad bowl was down to two choices as we had made a noodle salad and that was on the no no list. I was ravenous and had a bowl of Ronan’s special cole slaw and mango and chickpea salad, this sated my hunger until around four thirty when I was hungry again. At this stage most of the food that we had made was sold and all that remained had the three forbidden ingredients – wheat , dairy or sugar in them – and I ended up scoffing a bag of salted crisps. Hardly the healthy option.


Dinner was as usual a glorious feast. I don’t think this diet is going to make us eat any less, the only thing we won’t be doing is eating any left over sweet tarts that come home from the shop.


Our dinner was roasted vegetables with rose harissa, burnt aubergines ( baba ganoush) and brown rice. Absolutely delicious. Our plates were licked clean and I’m looking forward to the next dinner