ADDING flavour to nutritious ingredients transformed cooking from a chore to a pleasure, for author Amelia Freer
As the nutritionist explained the effects food can have on how our body functions, a flame lit inside me and I knew I needed to learn about this for myself. At 28 I went back to college, taking a diploma in nutritional therapy at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition for four years. I was nervous being the age I was and starting again, but on the first day I came alive and knew I was in exactly the right place.
It was there that I started to look at food as medicine. Not as something just to eat quickly to keep hunger at bay, but as something that can nourish and protect us, and also help us to get the best out of every day instead of enduring every day as I had been.
During the course I made many changes to my diet and began a mission to create meals that matched my new food knowledge and my health needs, but which also tasted great and comforted me in the way my old food habits used to. I hadn’t had any fancy training as a chef; I just called it food assembly. I chose the ingredients I knew my body needed and then I chose the flavours. It didn’t need to be complicated. For me it was about simplicity, enjoyment, taste and nourishment. I can never force myself to eat anything just because it’s healthy. It has to taste great – as the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water...”
• Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer (HarperThorsons, £16.99)
I make this curry in my slow cooker, but it works just as well in a casserole. I love to have melt in the mouth, tender meat and so the slow cooker is ideal for this. It’s just so easy but feels like a really delicious hearty meal – great for a Friday night with friends. Everyone always thinks that they need to have rice or bread with a curry but I add in lots of vegetables, so it’s actually more than enough on its own. I sometimes serve this with cauliflower rice, which works very well.
1 Put all of the ingredients except the sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach and fish sauce into the slow cooker. Stir and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
2 Set the slow cooker to high, cover with the lid and leave to cook for 5 hours. Alternatively, set the slow cooker to low and leave to cook overnight.
3 Before serving, add the sweet potatoes, tomatoes and fish sauce and cook for a further 20 minutes, then stir in the spinach.
4 Sprinkle the coriander over the top and serve.
LENTIL, BEETROOT AND HAZELNUT SALAD WITH GINGER DRESSING
Nourish your body with this welcoming salad complete with a warming ginger dressing. Lentils provide a fabulous source of protein and the beetroot adds that splash of colour I love so much.
Serves two to three
1 Put the lentils in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the lentils are not mushy and still with a bite.
2 As soon as the lentils are cooked transfer them to a large bowl and leave to cool. Once the lentils are cool, add the beetroot, spring onions, hazelnuts and herbs and stir until everything is combined.
3 For the dressing, put the ginger, mustard, oil and vinegar in a bowl and, using a handheld blender, blend until combined.
4 Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.
ALMOND, APRICOT AND ROSE “YOGHURT”
Almonds and apricots used to be my favourite snack as they go so well together, so I thought why not blend them and see what happens? The result is a yummy, zingy, creamy combination that feels like a naughty dessert. I have also added a little rose water, which works perfectly as a delicious breakfast alternative to a sugary yoghurt.
1 Soak the almonds in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes, or overnight.
2 In another bowl, soak the apricots, cardamom and rose water for 30 minutes, or overnight.
3 When ready to serve, drain all the soaked ingredients, put into a blender, add the coconut oil and milk and blend until it is a creamy texture.
4 Divide the mixture evenly between two jars or glasses, then top with the fresh apricots and a sprinkling of flaked almonds.
5 Put in the fridge and serve chilled.