Having spent a week in beautiful Menorca recently and arriving home to empty cupboards and an empty refrigerator, I felt particularly uninspired whilst writing a meal plan and shopping list for the week. We ate some delicious food during our holiday and a wide variety of different fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. I also must mention here the desserts and sweet treats. Wow! We definitely made the most of the huge selection, proudly displayed to tempt us, during breakfast, lunch, dinner and pretty much every hour of the day if you so wished. Back home it was time to feel inspired by our go-to meals again and also lose a few pounds of holiday weight!
Being a busy family, with a 5 year old who can sniff out even a hint of something healthy, it's not always easy to cater for everybody. I opened the cookery books, searched the foodie websites and blogs and came up with a plan for the week and hoped for the best! It worked; healthy meals that packed a punch, helped us to feel like we were sitting beachside in the Menorcan sunshine again and even the 5 year old enjoyed them.
Something simple but very tasty is Chicken, Potatoes, Tomato and Olive traybake. I choose to roast a chicken first rather than using raw chicken breasts/diced chicken. (There is a funny story behind this reason so feel free to ask me if you would like a good laugh!) Very simply:
- Cut enough potatoes into small chunks (leave the skin on for greater nutritional value), coat with a little oil, salt and pepper (or you can use the 1 Cal Spray as an alternative) and bake, in a roasting dish, in the oven for 25 minutes. Stir every few minutes to unstick the potatoes from the bottom of the dish
- Once this is complete, add some chopped cherry tomatoes and green olives to the cooked potatoes along with the cooked chicken (pulled into pieces). I haven't given amounts here as you can judge and choose how much you will need depending on how many people you are cooking for.
- Sprinkle over some Peri-Peri seasoning, Cajun Spice or similar, give it all a good stir and bake in the oven for a further 20 minutes.
Next up is Tuscan Butter Salmon. The sauce can also be used for other meats, fish or even vegetables for a meat-free option:
- Oven bake your fillets of salmon according to their cooking instructions (or your alternative choice of meat, fish, meat-free alternative or vegetables)
- Whilst the above are baking, melt a little butter in a frying pan
- Add 4 cloves of crushed or chopped garlic to the butter. For an even simpler method, add a tablespoon of garlic granules instead
- Add 225g halved cherry tomatoes and stir
- Add 100g baby spinach and stir again
- The original recipe asked for 120ml of double cream but I opted for the same amount of a healthier plant-based alternative and couldn't tell the difference
- Once the mixture is bubbling, turn the heat down slightly and stir through 25g of grated parmesan.
- Season with salt and pepper, if required, then pour the sauce over the salmon (or alternative) and enjoy!
Wednesdays are a busy evening for us and we tend to sit down for our meals at different times so it needs to be a grab and go, quick and easy kind of dinner. Having tried something similar at a local café-bar I came up with our idea of a Superfood Super Bowl which can be eaten by itself or wrapped up in some delicious new 'BFree Sweet Potato Wraps' that are only 83 calories, gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, nut, egg-free, high in fibre and so good that I would never buy regular wraps again:
- Fill a large bowl, serving board or large dish with the following: mashed up avocado with a sprinkle of chilli, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, lettuce or spinach leaves, sweetcorn, feta cheese or alternative, mixed seeds, beans, chicken, tuna or an alternative meat, fish or meat-free alternative and anything else you think may work or that you would like to add. Beetroot or pomegranate seeds would also be tasty options to add
- Serve as it is and enjoy this delicious healthy mixture or wrap up and devour in the recommended sweet potato wraps
- The beauty of these is that even the fussy 5 year old could pick and choose her ingredients or they could be hidden away in the wrap without her seeing them!
Baked Pancetta and Aubergine Risotto sounds simple but it includes a large variety of veg not mentioned in the name:
- Preheat oven to 180/160 fan
- Heat a small amount of oil in a large heavy-based ovenproof saucepan and add a chopped leek, two sticks of chopped celery and 50g of pancetta. Cook for 5 minutes
- Add 150g of chestnut mushrooms and cook, whilst stirring, for 2-3 minutes
- Stir in 2 chopped garlic cloves, a whole chopped aubergine then add 250g arborio rice and stir to coat
- Next, add 60 ml white wine to the mixture (this can actually be missed out as I never included it and it wasn't needed) and simmer for a couple of minutes until it has evaporated
- Add 750ml of chicken/veg stock to the mixture and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally
- Cover and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the rice is cooked
- Take out the oven and stir through 20g grated parmesan, 50g baby spinach and salt and pepper to season if required.
Friday is always treat night after a busy week when neither of us feel like cooking and we need something comforting. An alternative to the usual takeaway is a delicious toasted, filled sandwich with a variety of sides of your choice. Salami, Mozzarella, Rocket and Pesto Ciabatta never disappoints!:
- Find the most delicious chunky rolls from your local bakery, market or supermarket. We usually opt for long ciabatta rolls that can be sliced open, lightly toasted then rubbed with a little oil, salt and garlic
- Smother one side of the roll with a delicious crunchy pesto
- Place a layer of rocket along the bottom
- Top with salami (or an alternative Italian/Spanish meat such as parma ham/prosciutto or chorizo
- Next up is some great-quality mozzarella chunks, pulled straight from the mozzarella/burrata ball layered on top
- You could also add some sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers to add a sweet, mouth watering flavour
My mouth is watering after describing our favourite sandwich to you. I really hope the above meals have given you some inspiration! I'm already searching through the cookbooks, blogs and food websites for next week's meals and will also be having a look through my husband's new cookbook that he received from 'the children' to inspire him to rustle us up some BBQ beauties - Dan Toombs The Curry Guy BBQ; 100 Classic Dishes to Cook over Fire or on Your Barbecue. As always, I will pass on our recommendations and favourites!