All Pleasure, No Guilt: 3 incredibly yummy and healthy dishes

Published July 29, 2013 by The Feminist

We all know the feeling: you’ve just returned from your holiday and your standing in front of your scales, that thing of terror, utterly petrified and not ready to step on it just yet. You keep imagining one horror scenario after the other, freaking out over the possibility- no scratch that– probability- no scratch that again- undeniable fact that you will have gained weight. You try to talk sense into yourself, saying that it’s only natural to gain weight after the most amazing holiday in Italy, where you’ve spent most of your time eating pasta and gelato. And yet, you’re going crazy over the dooming prospect of having to go for those extra runs around the block and trips to the gym to get those extra pounds back off, in order to go back to your true all-abs-and-flat-tummy self again.
I took the leap. Slowly and scared as hell I was hovering my foot over the scales. (You know that thing we all do, when we want to step in our hot bath but first want to check the temperature by dunking our big toe into the water? Well, that’s how you have to envision me stepping on my scales. )Holding my breath and waiting for the hard truth to slap me in the face, I opened my eyes…
And guess what? It wasn’t even that bad. Okay, I gained a bit of weight, but considering the large quantities of sugar and carbs I ate during my stay in Italy, it is rather surprising that it all turned out to be just fine. Maybe all that hiking paid off in the end?
…Or maybe someone just tampered with the scales to spare me the horror of facing the consequences of all my scoffing.
Anyway, whether you gained weight or not, I believe it is always advisable to do a “healthy week” after you’ve just returned from your holiday. After days of ultimate indulgence, you often feel bloated and –dare I say it?- a bit slow. Both physically and mentally.(Is it just me, or is it indeed more difficult to do simple math after 14 days of nothing but math-free bliss?) This is not just a result of the food, however, but also just because you’re a bit tired of all those day trips and physically challenging activities. Yes, this is all very normal and therefore a “healthy week” is the perfect way to detox your body and re-boot.
However, don’t let the words “healthy” and “detox” scare you, because these dishes are incredibly delicious as well! (And not as drastic as spending a whole week drinking nothing but carrot and cucumber shakes)

Your “puffiness” will be gone, but your energy will have exploded!

Stuffed courgette with fragrant couscous and rose-tomato sauce

The secret of this recipe is in the spicing. The most wonderful blend of spices and herbs works so well with the soft mushy-ness of the courgette and couscous grains. Not to mention the rose-flavoured tomato sauce! You simply have to try this! It was without a doubt the best tomato sauce I’ve ever tasted! And trust me, it is not overpowering at all (so delete the prejudice that rose water will turn everything into a soap-tasting mess out of your head, because it won’t) , it will just lift an ordinary tomato sauce to an unseen level of brilliance.

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Ingredients (serves 4)

• 2 large yellow courgettes
• 1 tsp of lemon juice
• 1tsp harissa
• 1 tbsp honey
• 200gr of couscous
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped
• 1 red onion, finely sliced
• One handful of chopped coriander
• One handful of chopped mint
• Zest of half a lemon
• Handful of raisins
• One clove of garlic
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 1 tbsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp sweet paprika

For the rose-tomato sauce
• 500ml passata
• ¼ tsp rose water
• 1 tsp harissa
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• Juice of half a lime
• 1 tbsp honey
• Chopped coriander, optional

Method:

1. For the sauce, heat the passata on medium heat in a small saucepan and add the spices and other ingredients (except the coriander, if using). Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes so all the flavours can infuse the tomato sauce.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the courgettes in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh.
3. Mix the lemon juice, honey and harissa together and spread over the insides of the courgettes. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes until the courgettes are almost cooked through but still a bit hard in the middle.
4. Cook your couscous and meanwhile fry the onion and garlic in a pan with all the different spices. Once the couscous is cooked, add it to the spice and onion mixture and stir well until all the couscous grains are coated in spices. Add the rest of the ingredients and spoon the mixture into your courgette boats. Put in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes.
5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt.

Cozze con aglio e peperoncino

This dish is inspired by my trip to Italy. These mussels are truly amazing thanks to the addition of loads of garlic and loads of chilli. The cherry tomatoes and fresh basil complete the dish. Serve as a starter or eat as a main course with lovely foccaccia bread, pasta or quinoa.

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Ingredients (serves 4)

• 3 kg of mussels
• 250gr of cherry tomatoes
• Lots and lots of fresh basil leaves
• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 2 large red chillies, finely chopped
• 250ml white wine

Method:

1. Clean and debeard the mussels. If any mussels are opened, tap them lightly on a hard surface. If they don’t close, discard them.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a special mussel pot or a regular wide heavy-based pan (for 3kg you will need 2 pots) and sautee the tomatoes, chilli and garlic until soft.
3. Stir in the fresh basil and season with salt and pepper. Add the mussels to the pan.
4. Pour the white wine over the mussels and cover the pan with a lid.
5. Cook the mussels on high heat for 4 minutes. The mussels are cooked when they’ve opened.
6. Give the pan a final shake and then transfer the mussels to a large bowl or dish so all the lovely tomatoes and cooking liquid are on top of the mussels.
7. Dig in!

Frittata with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes with a Mediterranean salad

Healthy, light but oh so scrumptious: that’s how this recipe is best described! The salad is incredibly fresh and tangy and the fennel seeds add that little oomph. The frittata tastes like a quiche but without the buttery greasy crust (and accompanying calories). It’s healthy week, remember?

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For the frittata:
• 8 eggs
• 200gr cherry tomatoes, mix of yellow, orange and red, if possible
• 3 handfuls of fresh basil, roughly chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 100gr of monte vecchio cheese (brought this one with me from Italy, but if you can’t find it here, use a regular parmigiano)

For the salad:

• 1 can of flageolet beans
• ½ cucumber, finely sliced
• 2 red onions, finely sliced
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped
• 100gr radishes, finely sliced
• 50gr fat-free soured cream
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp fennel seeds

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 23cm spring-form tin with baking parchment.
2. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the grated cheese and stir in the basil.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and cover with the cherry tomatoes.
4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and let it set for 5 minutes before removing the edge of the tin.
6. For the salad, put all the vegetables in a large bowl. Mix the soured cream together with the cumin, fennel and season with salt and pepper and stir through the salad until all the vegetables have a lovely coating. (Remember, it’s supposed to be salad with a dressing, not dressing with a salad)

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11 comments on “All Pleasure, No Guilt: 3 incredibly yummy and healthy dishes

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