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Chickpea Curry

Chickpea CurryChickpeas are great in curries; see my recipe for Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry. They have a lovely texture and carry spices well.

Chickpeas are also one of the healthiest foods around.

Smoked Salmon Pate

Smoked Salmon PateFollowing on from the success of my Sardine Pate starter, I found this very similar recipe for smoked salmon pate on the BBC Good Food website.

As mentioned, my weakness is deli-style snacks, and I’ve been looking for healthier alternatives to salamis and other fat-laden nibbles.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

Carrot and Ginger SoupThis is a great lunchtime soup I found on All Recipes UK: Carrot and Ginger Soup.

The ginger makes it both warm and refreshing - a cheap, simple year-round dish. Ginger has many healthy properties. It’s been used to ward off cold and flu symptoms, aid digestion and relieve nausea.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 finely chopped onion

Slow-cooked Pork Cheek with Chickpeas and Cider

Pork Cheek with Chickpeas and CiderMy local supermarket has recently started stocking pork cheek.

Pork cheek is a cheap cut of meat that ironically is more likely to be found on the menu of Michelin-starred restaurants than in less expensive eateries.

As with many other cheaper cuts of meat, pork cheek responds best to slow cooking. It has a lot of tough protein that needs to be broken down, but it also has natural marbling, which means the meat stays moist while cooking.

Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower and Potato Curry)

Aloo GobiAs you may have gathered, I’m very keen on my slow cooker. I’ve found it invaluable over the winter months.

I’ve made rather a lot of meaty casseroles and curries recently, so I tried slow-cooking a vegetarian dish for a change. I was concerned that the long cooking time would make vegetables too mushy, but they remained firm and kept their texture.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or ghee
1 large onion
4 or 5 crushed garlic cloves
2.5cm of root ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Summer-in-Winter Chicken

Summer-in-Winter ChickenThis is a lovely recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website: Summer-in-Winter Chicken.

Not many ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
200g pack cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp pesto
3 tbsp crème fraîche
Fresh basil

Not much to do:

New Year Coconut Beef Madras

Coconut Beef MadrasI decided to see out the old year and welcome in the new with a spicy celebration.

I laid on an Indian feast for New Year’s Eve that consisted of poppadoms, vegetable samosas, onion bhajis, hot chutney, tarka dhal, coconut beef madras and basmati rice. Not all of these were homemade.

The coconut beef madras was of my own making. Even down to the madras curry paste, which I concocted by tweaking this recipe on the BBC Good Food website.

How to Make Vegetables Deliciously Unhealthy: Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom StroganoffOkay, I know that technically mushrooms are not classified as vegetables. But for the purpose of this blog they’re going to be called vegetables purely so I can include this recipe in my Unhealthy series.

This is a great way to use up leftover mushrooms. Simply alter the quantities of each ingredient to work with how ever many mushrooms you have left.

Tarka Dhal

Tarka DhalThere are hundreds of different ways to cook dhal and many variations on ingredients. Some recipes use only yellow dried split peas (chana dhal). I generally use a mix of red lentils and yellow split peas.

Lentils are an excellent source of protein, fibre, vitamin B and assorted minerals. This makes dhal one of the healthiest dishes you can cook. It’s also one of the cheapest. It’s ideal comfort food and can be eaten with rice as a meal on its own or served as a side dish.

Jerusalem Artichoke: Friend or Foe?

Jerusalem Artichoke FlowerThe Jerusalem artichoke is a statuesque plant (it’s a relative of the sunflower) that can grow to 3m (10ft). There must be something about the soil in my garden as mine grew to nearer 12ft.

The flowers are pretty, although it’s a little hard to see them when they’re that tall. The plant is mainly grown for its tubers, which can be eaten raw or cooked. They’re not to be confused with the more commonly eaten globe artichokes.

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