Before I started on this whole health kick, I was a terror for eating all of my meals in restaurants. Yep, I mean all: Danish pastries for breakfast, Jo Burger for lunch, Eddie Rocket’s / Skinflint / takeout for dinner… And it wasn’t even that I couldn’t cook! My Mum was a big home cooking advocate, and she taught me how to make loads of good recipes. I just wasn’t interested – why bother, when eating out was so much more delicious?
Well, I’ve had a bit of a turnaround – and now, I’d say I eat dinner out once a week, for a cheat meal. I have a few lunches out ‘n’ about but I always try to make a healthy choice (check out my top healthy eateries here), and the rest of the time, I cook my own dinner.
Food-wise, I tend to aim for a high-protein, medium-fat and low-carb diet – so I eat a lot of meat and rarely have starchy carbs (like rice, potatoes, sweet potato and so on) with my meals. But obviously, feel free! There’s nothing “wrong” with carbs, I’m just currently in a low-carb phase.
Anyway, clean eating recipes are the #1 request that comes in when I talk about my fitness and weight loss journey, and ask how I can best advise people
to be more like me to take some healthy steps. So here are four of my faves!
Cacao beef chilli
All of my recipes are kind of made up, or variations on recipes I’ve read online. With this one, I like to play around with the spices – although, if you’re not sure how spicy your chilies are, this can be a gamble! I serve it with chopped avocado, a dollop of sour cream and with or without brown rice. If I’m going without – and I have some to hand – I’ll serve it on a bed of baby spinach. The leaves wilt when the chilli gets plonked on top – yum!
Fry one chopped onion in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter with three garlic cloves, one chopped red chilli (or more / less if you like it spicy / less spicy), 1 tsp cumin and 2 tsp chilli powder, on a low heat until the onions are soft and see-through.
Add one packet of minced beef (I favour organic, and get it from either Aldi or Lidl – I think the pack is usually around 400g) and one chopped pepper. Fry for approx 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the meat is browned.
Pour in one tin of tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato purée, 1 tin of kidney beans and 1 heaped teaspoon of cacao (NOT cocoa!) powder. Put on the lowest heat, put the lid on, and let it simmer for about an hour.
Crispy duck salad
This is an all-time favourite. In my experience, Aldi does the best duck breasts – and they are so easy to cook, essentially, just follow the directions on the pack! But, basically…
Place duck breast, skin side down, on a cold pan. Place on the hob, turn it up to the highest and fry it for around 6 minutes, until golden brown. Flip it over and fry the other side for 30 seconds. You’re supposed to pour off the fat regularly – Stephen does, I rarely bother, and it always turns out fine!
Next up, you’re going to place the duck in the oven on a roasting tray. We’re short on oven, er, things, so what we do is take the grill rack and place it over a roasting tin, plonking the duck breast, skin side up, on top. Stephen likes his roasted for 10 minutes, so it’s still very rare; I do mine for 15.
While that’s cooking, slice one red onion into very thin slices – and fry in 1 tbsp coconut oil on a low heat, stirring constantly. The longer you fry your onion for, the more caramelised it’ll be.
Serve your duck on a bed of salad: I like rocket leaves, spinach leaves, shredded cabbage, 1/2 carrot, grated, and a few cherry tomatoes. Garnish with your caramelised onions.
This is a recipe I got from my trainer, Niamh, at Lift Training Studios. I can’t remember her recipe exactly, so this is my variation…
Using your hands (gross, I know), combine your minced lamb (again, I’d use a pack, around 400g) with a handful of chopped fresh mint, 5 minced garlic cloves (or less if you hate garlic), 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 beaten egg and a handful of fresh, chopped parsley. Roll them up into balls – I make mine around the size of a lime.
In a large, shallow pan, heat some coconut oil on a medium heat. Add one chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Drop in your meatballs; brown them on all sides (or as many as you can). Then pour over one tin of chopped tomatoes. Lower to a simmer, turning occasionally. Use the biggest one to check when they’re done; they’ll take about 10 minutes.
I serve mine with spinach, some more fresh mint on top and some natural yoghurt.
Turkey (or chicken / beef) curry
This is my Mum’s recipe, given to her by my great uncle Gerald, who grew up in Kenya and claimed that cooking the spices dry is the best way to infuse your recipe with their flavour. It’s a family favourite, so tasty and no nasties! Warning: this is spicy. So if you’re not into spice, I’d cut down on the chilies, curry powder and curry paste!
In a big pot, combine two chopped onions, two chopped peppers (I like to do two different colours, for variation, but it doesn’t really matter), two sticks of celery, chopped, three fresh chilies, chopped, about two inches of root ginger, peeled and chopped, three pieces of star anise, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tbsp red curry paste, 2tsp garam masala, 2tsp mace, 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 heaped tsp paprika, 3 cardamom pods, 2 tsps dried coriander, 2 tbsp tomato purée and the solid part from 1 tin of coconut milk (keep the liquid!). You want to cook these on a low heat, stirring constantly, for about half an hour.
When the time is up, add the rest of your coconut milk along with 1 pint of water, pouring it in slowly and stirring through. Add your meat then! I like to use this big lump of turkey breast I get in Aldi; not sure how much turkey there is, but it’s about the size of my head and it makes curry for 6-8 people. You can use this recipe to make turkey, chicken, beef curry… Whatever you like!
Lower it to a simmer, put a lid on it and leave it for a good hour, until the meat is cooked through and everything is nice and soft. It’s even nicer if you put it aside (you don’t need to refrigerate it if you’re just leaving it there overnight) and eat it the next day.
These pics are all (credited) stock pictures; as I make these recipes over the next few weeks, I’ll try and switch them out for my own photographs, but you’ll have to bear with me! I didn’t want to wait to post these recipes because a good few people had asked for them. Let me know if you enjoy, and tweet me your pics using #4WeekChallenge 👍