Put Some Music In Your Food – Pulled Chicken Reggae Stew

Your Monday morning alarm pulls you away from that warm beach with the waves gently washing over your feet. A quick glance out of the window brings you back to reality as it’s raining and you can see the wind making the trees sway. There’s nothing quite like a miserable cold day in England to get you geared up for a week at work!

There are always ways to cheer up dull days like this, and food is one of them! Give yourself something to look forward to when you get home; Something that doesn’t need lots of preparation. Guess what… I’ve got just the ticket! Pulled Chicken Reggae Stew. Oh yes! Thank you Mr Levi Roots 🙂 A prepare-ahead, easy, warming bowl of comforting goodness! You’ll have your feet up in no-time and ready to take on the rest of the week.

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I don’t have any specific rules to follow when making this dish. It’s great for using up leftover veg in the fridge and it doesn’t have to be chicken either. Mix it up a bit! Pork, Fish, Beef… Experiment! That’s the beauty of Reggae Reggae sauce, it goes well with almost everything. If you are using fish, there is no need to dig the slow cooker out as it will only need 20 minutes when you get in from work. Otherwise, chuck in as much veg as you can, whatever meat you have decided to use, pour over a bottle of Reggae Reggae, turn the slow-cooker to medium and leave your worries at the door. When you get home, the wonderful smell of spices will fill your nostrils and your mouth will water in anticipation! Choose your accompaniments, and tuck in! On this occasion I boiled brown rice with water and truffle oil and served with a generous helping of fresh spinach. Another favourite of mine is to have the stew with sweet potato wedges. The natural sugars in the potatoes fit perfectly with the heat from the sauce. Absolutely delicious!

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What are you waiting for? Go and buy yourself a bottle of Levi’s magical sauce and get adventurous in the kitchen!

Serves 2 (With Leftovers)

Ingredients –
– x2 Skinless Chicken Breasts (Can use thighs too)
– 1 Carrot, roughly chopped
– 1 White Onion, roughly chopped
– 1 cup of Frozen Peas
– 1/2 Fennel Bulb, diced
– 1 jar of Reggae Reggae sauce
– Salt and Pepper to season
– 1/2 tsp of Dried Chilli Flakes (optional if you like it HOT)
– 1 packet of Chestnut Mushrooms, roughly chopped
– 1 cup of Brown Rice w/ Truffle oil (optional)
– x2 handfuls of Spinach
– Few sprigs of Basil to garnish (optional)

Place the chicken breasts in the slow-cooker along with the chopped carrot, onion, peas, fennel, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Turn dial to ‘Medium’

Pour the Reggae sauce over the top and swill the remaining sauce left in the bottle with a little water. Pour this over the chicken too and mix all ingredients together. Place the lid on the dish and leave to cook until you get home from work. Mix in the chopped mushrooms and leave for another half hour whilst cooking the rice.

Once the rice is cooked, thicken the reggae sauce with a little cornflour and water if it’s showing a loose consistency and leave for a couple of minutes whilst you plate up the rice and spinach.

Pull the meat apart with 2 forks and ladle the beautiful stew over the rice. Garnish with a few basil leaves and tuck in!

If it’s a little too spicy, you can always accompany with a spoonful of natural yoghurt to cool the tastebuds.

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Delicious! Next time, I’m going to be using king prawns with chopped pineapple and flatbreads. In fact… it won’t hurt to put some music in my food 2 days in a row… Why wait!

As always, please let me know what you think 🙂 or if you have any ideas/improvements.

Love and Lemons xxx

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Honestly Healthy 3 Day Cleanse

You will have seen in a previous blog that I have become a huge fan of Natasha Corrett and her way of thinking about food. She has inspired me to research into the Alkaline Diet and the lifestyle that comes with it. There is a link further down from the Telegraph about the Cleanse 🙂

I can’t claim that you’ll be a convert and live a beautifully healthy life with ease, but I know for me, Natasha has encouraged me and helped me tackle my relationship with food.

For a couple of years now, feeling bloated and in pain has become a regular occurrence after eating. I’m left feeling tired and drained of energy. Because of this though, I have read up a lot on different ‘diets’ and lifestyles, tested many recipes and developed my love of food. I am even doing short courses in diet and nutrition, and sports nutrition. I’ve adapted my lifestyle and eat a lot healthier, as well as exercise regularly. I have felt an improvement in my energy levels and the way I generally feel but my bloating and occasional pain has stayed to haunt me.

Keeping a food diary was my wake up call. It’s clear that I have a sensitive stomach and I needed to see what foods I consumed frequently. I knew that most of the things I ate were healthy, but I didn’t quite realise that the majority of my intake was carb and dairy related. The obvious conclusion was to eat more plant based food! Everything I make is from scratch using fresh ingredients, but half of my plate would be full of white rice, pasta or potatoes. Just being aware of this and reducing the portion sizes of these has made a massive difference. I feel much better now that white bread/pasta/rice has been swapped to wholemeal and takes up less space on my plate. And I LOVE sweet potato! Why had I not been eating this before!

When I came across Natasha Corrett, I bought her book straight away. The recipes were accessible, easy and delicious! She showed me that it doesn’t have to be a challenge to get more plant based produce into my daily life. I didn’t have to eliminate anything from my diet. I just had to swap the ratios around. For those that know me, you’ve seen the amount I can stack away sometimes! Never ending pit…

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This brings me onto the reason for this blog in the first place… The Honestly Healthy Cleanse.

3 days of soups, smoothies, and juices. When I saw this, I instantly told myself that it wouldn’t happen. There’s no way I could live off liquid for 3 days! My desire to constantly eat would take over and I wouldn’t get to the end. But after reading a little more on the reasons for doing a ‘cleanse’ and the benefits, I decided to give it a go. The boost of nutrients nourishing my body would help improve my skin, my hair, give me a glow, help get rid of water retention, reduce bloating, increase my energy… oh the list goes on. There wasn’t a reason I could think of not to do it! It’s only 3 days… how hard can that be! I drink a smoothie for my breakfast every morning already. I eat soup as well (might be accompanied by a big slab of buttered bread… but that’s not the point ha!)

I did have to make sure I prepared everything a day in advance because there wasn’t enough time first thing in the morning before work to start chopping veg for a smoothie. They tasted just as good kept in the fridge overnight until ready to drink.

Give this a read and see what you think 🙂 There are recipes attached too! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/11307754/Cleanse-your-body-with-the-alkaline-diet.html

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If I said it’s been plain sailing, I’d be lying. I found it tough at first. Not because I was hungry, but because I felt as though I needed to physically chew something. I haven’t felt hungry once! That was my biggest fear. I’ve even had to skip a few of the mid-afternoon snacks because I just couldn’t manage anymore liquid! Everything I’ve tasted has been delicious too! In the day, I never gave my soups and smoothies a second thought, but when it came to the evenings, I struggled. The other half would make himself dinner and sit next to me whilst I was slurping my soup. The smell from his food would send me insane! But I got through it because I knew how proud I’d feel that I had accomplished the Cleanse and I was looking forward to seeing what a difference it made. In all honesty, I never craved junk food once. What I really looked forward to was the act of chewing and a variety of flavours in one meal instead of your whole meal tasting the same.

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On the first day I felt a little irritable because I was battling with myself. Half of me wanted to give up and admit defeat. I tried to tell myself that I didn’t need to do it and it was pointless. But the other half of me was really intrigued as to whether there would be any benefits. My curiosity won! Thankfully!

It became a little easier on the second day as I was trying soups I’d never had before. Discovering new flavour combinations is wonderful! I was also very surprised at how full I felt! I had to skip the mid-morning juice and ended up having the mid-afternoon smoothie for my evening meal instead of the soup I’d planned to have originally. I can normally consume a fair amount of food! So this was a shock because I didn’t actually want or need anything else. Sitting and watching cookery programmes and reading through my new cookery books was a breeze too! I may have starred longingly at a few of the photos (particularly Jamie’s Everyday Superfood Mushroom Curry *drools*), but it never once made me feel like faltering. I went to bed tired and with a headache but feeling good.

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As I never managed to finish all of the allocated soups and smoothies the previous day, I skipped making the mid-afternoon smoothie as I knew I wouldn’t need it. I was correct. Thick blended soups really do keep you full! Good job really! I’d be making claw marks on my desk with my fingernails by now if not! I couldn’t get hold of any gluten-free oats for my breakfast smoothie, so I unfortunately had to use regular ones (does this mean I failed?). As mushrooms are one of my favourite foods, I was actually really looking forward to tucking into a big bowl of mushroom soup for my dinner and curling up on the sofa to watch the Great British Bake Off final! Not to mention the excitement at being able to eat solid food the day after! The mushroom soup isn’t on the Cleanse but I stuck to the Alkaline way of eating and created it to replace some of the suggestions Natasha makes. I can’t say I’m a fan of Cauliflower, although mixed with Pink Peppercorns, it does sound delicious (Page 38). Maybe I’ll give it a try next time!

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I made the decision to carry on with the soups and smoothies for breakfast and lunch Thursday and Friday. Each soup I cooked made 2 portions so I wanted to make sure they didn’t go to waste J And as I already drink smoothies for my breakfast, I just chose some more from the Honestly Healthy Cleanse book. The 1 of the solid evening meals I chose was adapted from from the Cleanse. I savoured every single mouthful! Nutritious and delicious!

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What you really want to know is whether I felt a benefit to all of this…. And the answer is yes! I feel great! I’ve had a few comments on how good my skin looks and that I have an added bounce in my step. The few spots I had form being run down have faded and I’ve even lost a few inches! What’s not to like! But the main reason for the Cleanse was to give my stomach a rest from constantly digesting solid food and it has really helped. I haven’t felt bloated once and haven’t needed to undo that top button of my trousers after every meal! Just consuming liquid isn’t something I can do on a regular basis (and I don’t suggest anybody else does either), but every couple of months, I believe this is a great way to ‘Cleanse’ and put yourself back on the right track; with your mind as well as your body. Natasha recommends this cleanse of a weekend so you are relaxed and can focus your energy into really looking after yourself. It’s a great idea! I went to work every day and this made it harder because sometimes when you are having a stressful day at work, you don’t want liquidised kale! It just doesn’t cut it! My will power and determination stuck with me though and I’m glad 🙂

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There were certain ingredients that I couldn’t get hold of, so these were either substituted or left out altogether. Unfortunately, living in Stoke doesn’t lend itself to ‘exotic’ powders and ingredients! *dreams of big city life* They can all be ordered online with forward planning though! I did however take a sachet of pro-biotic everyday alongside the Cleanse. You’ll often see yoghurts with this as an added ingredient. It is a good bacteria that helps give the digestive system a boost and aids a healthy gut. I found it to really help and will continue to take every couple of months to make sure everything is working the way it should. If you’ve got IBS, taking this could really help reduce your symptoms (alongside a healthy diet of course).

Let me know if you decide to give any of the Cleanses in the book a go! I would love to hear from you! I’ll be following these as a guide throughout my food journey and discovery and I hope they help many others just like me to realise how easy it can be to really look after yourself no matter what your circumstance, budget, reason, lifestyle.

Love and Lemons xxx

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My Week – No Caffine/Solid Food (3days)/Alcohol/Dairy/Wheat or Gluten/Meat/Sugar/Processed Food

Day 1:

– Breakfast: Green Smoothie (Page 31)
– Mid-Morning: Red Juice (I don’t own a juicer so bought a pure red juice from supermarket)
– Lunch: Carrot + Coriander Soup (Adapted from Page 41 Carrot + Lime Soup)
– Mid-Afternoon: Avocado Smoothie (Page 57)
– Dinner: Spicy Butternut Squash Soup (My own, message me for recipe)

Day 2:

– Breakfast: Carrot + Tumeric Smoothie (Page 31, Acquired taste!)
– Lunch: Yesterdays leftover Butternut Squash Soup
– Dinner: Chia Green Smoothie (Page 33, Really good!)

Day 3:

– Breakfast: Kale & Oat Smoothie (Page 56, Swapped Spirulina for Matcha Powder)
– Mid-Morning: Green Juice (Shop Bought, pure)
– Lunch: Broccoli, Celery & Dill Soup (Page 42, Delicious! Chop Dill up finely unless you want it wrapped around your blender!)
– Mid-Afternoon: Fig & Almond Milk Smoothie (My own, message me for recipe)
– Dinner: Mushroom & Hazelnut Soup (My own, message me for the recipe)

Day 4:

– Breakfast: Beetroot & Blueberry Smoothie (Page 56, used shop bought red juice instead of beetroot)
– Lunch: Yesterdays leftover Mushroom Soup
– Dinner: Garlic, Kale & Spinach w/ Poached Eggs (My own, message me for the recipe)

Day 5:

– Breakfast: Beetroot & Blueberry Smoothie (Page 56)
– Mid-Afternoon: Peppermint Tea
– Lunch: Leftover Broccoli, Celery & Dill Soup (Piece of seeded toast w/ coconut oil)
– Dinner: Sweet Potato & Fennel Seed Rosti w/ Baked Eggs (Adapted from Page 110)

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Chicken Skewers w/ Yellow Pepper Sauce & Quinoa

Most of us have been in that situation where we’ve come home after a session at the gym, or stumbled through the front door after that long run, but then make the wrong food choice for dinner; such as cheddar cheese on toast (because oh! I really can’t be bothered to cook, just give me something quick!). I used to fall foul of this a lot, especially in the mornings after my workout before heading to the office. I’d grab some toast on the way to work or tuck into a huge bowl of pasta for my dinner!

Doing a little research and following my nutritional studies, I began to realise how important these post-workout meals were. I now make sure I have the right choices in the house whether I am rushing to work or spending the evening preparing a feast. Keep a stock of homemade or good quality oat, seed and nut bars for breakfast! Think ahead and make smoothies to store in the fridge. They are a great on-the-go breakfast asked full of protein, vitamins and minerals to help repair those aching muscles.

The blog isn’t all about this way of thinking though so I won’t bore you anymore! But I will post a Blog somewhere along the line about good and bad food choices, so stay tuned if you’re interested! Or drop me a message if you’d like to discuss more.

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What did I come here for today? CHICKEN SKEWERS… That’s what! A brilliant quick and easy meal jam packed with nutrients to help heal muscles and refuel your body full of energy. Just look at some of those ingredients above. Can you feel the health?!

Chicken is a great source of protein and a brilliantly lean meat if you are looking to keep the calories down. It’s so versatile and can be used in virtually every recipe! In this particular instance, I chose to grill the skewers for quickness (and because my skillet isn’t long enough!), but if it’s a lovely summer’s evening… Get in the garden and fire up the BBQ, invite some friends around and have a feast fit for a king!

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As you can see, my creation doesn’t quite look like Jamie’s in the book above, but that doesn’t matter! Adaptation and variation are what lead to new creations and wonderful adventures in the kitchen! I do have to admit though, I’m not sure how Jamie managed to get his sauce so yellow! That’s impressive! Don’t let your pepper char….

In my last Blog, I mentioned Jamie Oliver’s new book ‘Everyday Superfood’, and this is a recipe plucked straight from there. First one I’ve made and I cannot wait to make some more! Fear not Vegetarians! There are some amazing meat-free options to choose from. The Mighty Mushroom Curry with Red Lentils, Brown Rice and Poppadoms will be on my dinner table next week without fail! I’ve only just eaten and my stomach is grumbling for more.

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If you have never eaten quinoa before, let me just tell you how good it is for your body! It has all the essential amino acids that we need making it very high in protein. Naturally gluten-free. Magnesium. Good for your metabolic health. Bursting with antioxidants… Do I need to go on? Even if you don’t fully understand what all of these do, you can just tell they are working wonders with every mouthful.

It can taste quite bland if just eaten on its own, so mixing it in a salad or accompanying it with other flavour packed ingredients is recommended. In this instance, I rubbed the mould (ramekin) in truffle rapeseed oil and then pressed in the quinoa. The tiny seeds/grains soaked up the oil and scented the plate beautifully. This little addition took the dish to a whole new level. I went from amateur cook to gourmet chef in seconds!

Are you ready to nourish that body and get those tastebuds tickled?

RECIPE (Exclusive!)
Serves 2
40 mins

  • 150g regular,  black or red quinoa (I used regular as it’s more widely available)
  • 1 fresh yellow or red chilli (I used red)
  • 2 yellow peppers (I used 3 small)
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 glove of garlic
  • 2 tbsps cider vinegar
  • olive oil (I used rapeseed)
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 sprigs of fresh coriander
  • natural yoghurt; optional (I didn’t use)
  • truffle oil (my optional extra)

Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, then drain.

Dressed the chilli and peppers, quarter the peppers, and put both into a shallow 25cm pan on a medium heat.

Trim the spring onions and add the whites to the pan (reserving the green tops). Peel, slice and add the garlic, along with the vinegar, 1 tablespoon of oil and a good splash of water.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until soft and sweet, stirring occasionally. Decant the contents of the pan into a blender, blitz until smooth, then season to perfection.

You can cook your skewers in a hot non-stick frying pan, griddle pan or even under the grill at full whack. Slice the chicken lengthways into 2cm strips, and chop the greens of the spring onions into 2cm chunks.

Checking that your skewers will fit inside your frying, griddle or grill pan, divide up the chicken and spring onions, weaving the chicken around the onions.

Strip the thyme leaves over the skewers, lightly season, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of oil and rub all over, then cook for around 8 minutes, or until the chicken is golden, charred and cooked through.

Meanwhile, peal and slice the avocado.

Pack half the quinoa into a small oil-rubbed bowl (this is where I used my truffle oil), the turn out onto a plate and repeat.

Divide the yellow pepper sauce, sliced avocado, coriander leaves and chicken between your plates, then tuck in.

This is delicious with a dollop of yoghurt on the side too, if you like.

CALORIES – 549kcal
FAT – 19.8g
SAT FAT – 3.3g
PROTEIN – 42.4g (Yes… Check that out! 46g per day is recommended for the average women)
CARBS – 53.5g
SUGAR – 14.6g
FIBRE – 4.3g

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Now you’ve had a sneak peak into Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Superfood, get  purchasing. You won’t regret it if you’re looking to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Love and Lemons xxx