Getting back into cooking
New year, new health kick!! Now I know that's a little bit of a cliché, but I'm pretty sure most of you will have made some kind of commitment to exercise more, eat healthier or drink less. Perhaps you're even doing 'Dry January"? How's it going?
I've jumped on the bandwagon and want to be able to wear my favourite skirt with confidence again. So, I've started using MyFitnessPal religiously. For me, it works as I like the idea of having a set calorie limit and like even more, that the more I move the more I can eat as it works on a net calorie intake.
I wear an Apple Watch so all of my steps are tracked and, as you read this, I'm on the 'London Winter Walk', so I'm kick-starting my 2018 with an energising 20km around the heart of the Capital with 2,000 other people! I've also signed up for the Jurassic Coast Challenge & Thames Bridges Trek later in the year. I figure if I'm signed up it will make me do it.
I've also invested in Carly Rowena's Get Gorgeous Guide so I'm planning on giving that a bit of a go too. it's on sale at the moment so a good time to buy it.
I have to admit, I had got a bit lazy when it comes to cooking and kept taking the easiest option which was not always the healthiest choice. I was given the perfect Christmas present by both my Mum & good friend Annabel (great minds think alike) and it couldn't be more perfect to get me back into the cooking groove.
Jamie Oliver's 5 Ingredients is literally the only thing I am reaching for at the moment. The fact that you just need 5 ingredients means making a mid-week supper from scratch is actually really easy. Everything I have tried so far has been really tasty and most of the recipes are super healthy too so fit in with my healthy living regime. So far, I have tried a few and there are lots more I want to try, but for now I thought I'd share the best ones I've found so far. All serve 2.
If you do go for this book, you need to make sure you have these five ingredients in your store cupboard as they do pop up in quite a few of the recipes. You will need: Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, salt & pepper.
Creamy Mustard Chicken
This was the first recipe I tried and I've done it several times already. It feels much naughtier than it is, especially as it has single cream in it, but it's a such a small amount it's not something to feel guilty about.
5 ingredients : 200g mixed mushrooms, 1x red onion, 2 x 120g skinless chicken breasts, 2 x tsp wholegrain mustard, 60ml single cream
The Basics: put all the mushrooms in a pan on a medium/high heat, let them get a bit golden whilst you slice the red onion & chicken breasts. When you're happy with the mushrooms, add the onion & chicken to the pan with a little bit of olive oil & cook for 5 mins. Add the wholegrain mustard, cream and 150ml of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes so the sauce thickens a little but don't be surprised if it doesn't thicken much, that's what it's meant to be like. Season to taste and serve with whatever you fancy - I think it's delicious with a baked potato & some veg.
Garlic Mushroom Pasta
This is a quick, easy and really low calorie as you don't need anything else to go with it.
5 ingredients : 150g dried pasta, 2 gloves of garlic, 250g mixed mushrooms, 25g parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
The Basics: Cook the pasta & drain, keeping a mug of the water from the pan aside. Finely slice the garlic (although I used very last garlic) and put it in a pan on a medium/high heat with a little olive oil followed by the mushrooms 1 minute later. Season & cook for around 8 mins until everything is golden. Toss the pasta into the pan with some of the leftover water from the pan. Finely grate in the parmesan, stir in the crème fraîche and season to taste. Eat!
Quick Steak Stir Fry
If you fancy a bit of a treat, you can't go wrong with fillet steak. I even managed to cook it perfectly which is not something I thought will happen. As I type, I'm about to cook this for supper tonight so let's hope I can do another good job.
5 ingredients : 4 cloves of garlic, 4cm ginger, 350g asparagus, 2 x 125g fillet steaks, 2 tbsp black bean sauce
The Basics: Peel & very finely slice the ginger & garlic and put into a cold pan with 1 tbsp olive oil on a medium heat. Once crisp & golden, scoop out of the pan and keep to one side, leaving the garlicky oil behind. Trim the woody ends from the asparagus (I used asparagus tips so no trimming required) and add to the hot pan. Season the steaks, add to the pan alongside the asparagus and turn up the heat. Cook for 3 mins. Add the black bean sauce and 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar and toss for 1 minute which will give you medium-rare steaks. Slice the steak & serve with asparagus with the crispy garlic & ginger on top. If you want to add some bulk, serve with some rice. I had it with one of those microwaveable pouches of wholegrain rice which only takes 1 min to cook!
Sticky Pork Stir Fry
Firstly, I should say, I replace the carrots with broccoli as I wasn't sure how I felt about adding carrots to this dish even though I love carrots. I guess that's the beauty of cooking from scratch, you can adapt the recipe to suit your tastes. I couldn't find pork shoulder so I used lean pork medallions which tasted yummy but were perhaps a little dry so I would cook a little less next time. I served this with rice although I do wish it had a little bit more sauce, I might add a bit more next time.
5 ingredients : 200g pork shoulder, 200g mixed-colour heritage carrots, 4 spring onions, 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce, 2 tbsp runny honey
The Basics: Put a pan on a high heat whilst you chop the pork into 3 cm chunks. Add to the pan with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper. if you're going for the carrot options, trim & add the whole baby carrots (halving any larger ones), then cook for 12 mins, or until everything is golden. Meanwhile, trim & slice the spring onions. Add a splash of water to the pan to deglaze it, then stir in the spring onions, teriyaki sauce & honey. Cook for another 3 mins, tossing regularly until it's all sticky & shiny. Season to taste.
Smoky Pancetta Cod
I wanted to love this but I didn't find it that tasty and the cod I used really stuck to the pan. I forgot the rosemary last time so I think that would definitely help and I have also bought a proper non-stick pan so I have every intention of trying this again. I had it with veg instead of the lentils as I couldn't find them in the supermarket!
5 ingredients : 8 rashers of pancetta, 2 x 150g white fish fillets (pin boned & skinned), 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 1 x 250g sachet of cooked lentils, 200g of spinach
The Basics: Season each fish fillet (I used cod) and wrap in 4 rashers of pancetta, overlapping slightly. Place in a large non-stick pan on a medium heat and cook for 8 min, turning occasionally and adding the rosemary to the pan for the last 2 mins. Remove the fish and set aside. Add the lentils to the pan with 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar and heat - they will soak up all the flavour - moving them to one side of the pan. In the other half of the pan, wilt the spinach with a splash of water. Season & serve.
There's a good selection of the recipes on the Jamie Oliver website so if you want to try before you buy the actual book, it's worth a quick look, although, if you do just jump in and buy the book, you won't be disappointed.
There are so many recipes in this book but hopefully that has given you a flavour of what's in the book and maybe you might even try one or two. The next one on my list is the Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Cups, they sound delicious and have mango in, which is one of my favourites!
Have you got any great fitness or food tips? I'd love to hear from you so do leave me a comment below or get in touch.
Thanks for reading. Until next Sunday....
From Charlotte x