Category Archives: Salads and light bites

pearl grace life tomato and goats cheese tart

Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart

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Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart

pearl grace life tomato and goats cheese tart

If you’re looking for a dish to impress but actually is super easy to prepare then my tomato and goats cheese tart will be right up your street.

I always make sure I have a roll of puff pastry in the deep freeze that I can pull out the night before and all the other ingredients are easy to grab from your local supermarket or green grocers.

Ingredients:

320g Puff pastry sheet (this is the one I use)
125g Spreadable goats cheese
425g Ripe vine tomatoes
1 tsp Dried mixed herbs
Crush of salt and black pepper (if desired)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
A drizzle of olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven 180 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes and leave to one side.
  3. Pour the goats cheese into a bowl and stir to soften slightly. Add the dried herbs and stir some more.
  4. Grab a flat baking tray and roll the pastry out onto the tray. Using a sharp knife lightly trace a 1cm width border around the edge of the pastry. (This will create a puffy edge after cooking)
  5. Pour the goats cheese onto the pastry and using the back of a spoon gently spread the cheese to the edge of the knifed border, creating a thin layer of cheese.
  6. Then assemble the slices of the tomatoes on top of the goats cheese. Add some salt and black pepper, fresh thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Pop in the oven for 40-45 mins.
  8. Enjoy either hot or cold with a side salad and some new potatoes – dee-lish

pearl grace life tomato and goats cheese tartSwitch it up!

You could modify the toppings to include a variety of roasted vegetables like courgettes and sweet peppers.

A while ago I made it with some thin slices of peppered salami nestled between the tomatoes, and it was delicious. The edges of the meat got ever-so-slightly charred and crispy, which was very nice.

If goats cheese ain’t your thing then you could always use Philadelphia spread instead and achieve equally tasty results.

I hope you like it.

Lov Nat x

Choose to use organic and local produce when possible :)

Pearl Grace Life, Salad

Zesty Salad

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Nat’s Zesty Salad

Pearl Grace Life, saladI know, it’s January and it’s cold outside and the last thing you probably fancy eating is a salad.

But January also provides us with a great opportunity to start the year off right in terms of leading a more healthy and balanced lifestyle.

When it comes to what I eat, I don’t really pay attention to what the weather is like. It could be chucking it down with rain and I’ll rustle up a salad or a bowl of summer berries or it could be hottest day in summer and I’ll choose to make a soup or a fish pie.

It doesn’t really matter in our house and although I try to eat consciously and choose ingredients that are local and as seasonal as much as possible, I often cook and eat dependant on how I feel and dependant on what my body needs most at that time.

Now after an over-indulgent holiday season I know that what my body needs right now are clean ingredients, lots of water and green juices to flush my system out and eliminate as  many toxins and nasty stuff as possible.

So, although a salad may not get you buzzing right now, believe me when I say, after you wolf down a bowl of this goodness your cells will be buzzing with glee and you’ll feel amazing.

If you’re like me and the mundane and repetitive task of washing and chopping veggies is relaxing and therapeutic then great.

However if setting aside 20 minutes to make this bad-boy-bowl-of-colours fills you with dread and a sense of boredom then whack on your favourite tunes and chop away to the music and the time will fly…

like this sweet little number:

Tweet it out peeps: “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients” – Julia Child via @PearlGraceLife

And the great part of tucking into a cold salad is that all the ingredients by their very nature are raw, which is great for you and the planet.

Eating raw and fresh ingredients ensures that your body gets the optimum level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients so you can function to the max.

Now, guys, at the risk of stating the obvious, its a salad so you can jazz it up or tone it down with whatever ingredients you fancy. My zesty salad just gives you an idea of how creative you can be.

There’s just one little tip that I’d like to share when it comes to making a brilliant salad and that is to find a balance.

You’ll see from the list of ingredients that I love to partner up soft textures with a little bit of crunch, and some sweetness with a dash of sour and as many gorgeous colours that I can find in my fridge.

So, beautiful people, here it is: Nat’s zesty salad:

Pearl Grace Life, SaladIngredients and Method:

Grab a large bowl and begin:
2 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves (a selection of baby spinach, red lettuce and lambs lettuce is what I had in my fridge today) You could add some romaine lettuce as well for extra crunch.
1 small handful of chopped parsley
1 small handful of chopped mint
1/2 a cucumber
8 cherry tomatoes
8 radishes
1 yellow pepper
1 avocado
1 red chilli (optional and deseed if desired)
Seeds of 1 small pomegranate
2 kiwis
A handful of dried cranberries
Sprinkle of mixed seeds
Juice of half a lime
A drizzle of oil (extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil are two my favourites on salads)

Grab yourself a large fork and tuck in or if you’re feeling generous, share with friends or family and enjoy as a side dish.

Switch it up!

You could add as many ingredients as you like. Olives, peppery rocket leaves and some salad cress work nicely.

For additional healthy fats scatter over some walnuts and crushed pistachios.

I like to keep my salads as “free from________(fill in the blank)” as much as possible.

But you could up the ante and make this less vegan and more vegetarian by adding a boiled egg or crumbles of feta cheese or stilton for additional natural saltiness.

And for the carnivores out there, cooked prawns, sliced chicken or turkey could work too. In fact this salad could go with just about anything, that’s why it’s so awesome.

You could use it as a filling in a wrap or as part of a quesadilla. I sometimes pour spoonfuls of it on top of slices of crusty bread like a soda crumb, spelt or rye variety. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top of each little portion to enhance the flavours even more.

I hope Nat’s zesty salad hits all the right notes for you.

To good health,

Nat x

Try Nat’s zesty salad with my baked mushrooms with cumin and paprika

Images courtesy of NatMillie

Pearl Grace Life: baked mushroom dishes

Baked Mushrooms

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Baked Mushrooms

Pearl Grace Life: mushrooms and a walnut saladI love food that is simple and delicious and my baked mushrooms tick both boxes in less than 20 mins.

Not only are mushrooms incredibly good for you.

After all, they’re packed with tons of nutrients such as iron, minerals and vitamins B & D. But they are also known to strengthen your immune system, improve bladder function and metabolise fats and proteins in the body.

In fact mushrooms are a fantastic alternative to meat for those of you looking to integrate more veggies in to your food plan in an easy and in and affordable way.

You can make some wonderful meals using mushrooms, from warm and comforting soups and risottos to light bites like ‘shrooms on toast and mushroom pâté.

I have to admit that mushrooms have become a fridge food essential in our house for the past few weeks and at the moment this recipe is one of my favourite things to whip up when my belly is rumbling and time is short.

For this recipe I use chestnut mushrooms because of their meaty texture and because they hold their shape so well after cooking.
Pearl Grace Life: mushroom dishes

My oven baked mushrooms however make a fabulous dish on their own with a side bowl of hummus for some dunkage action.

But it’s also very versatile dish because you could choose to serve it as a side dish with some protein, or mixed in with rice or tossed in a salad or on a bed of steamed green veg.

The ideas are endless and it’s entirely up to you!

I love to eat them with roasted sweet red peppers or wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves with avocado for a snack or a light lunch.

Pearl Grace Life: baked mushroom dishesAs a more substantial meal or for dinner, I like to serve them on a bed of curly kale and sweet potato. Mmm.

I have to confess, I make this meal at least twice a week because they are a massive hit in our house.

It couldn’t be easier to rustle up so here goes:

Ingredients:

250g Organic chestnut Mushrooms (or white button mushrooms work well too). I keep them whole but you can cut them if you like.  Hey, if you can dispense with using extra utensils the why bother!)
Olive oil (regular olive oil works perfectly well… save your precious extra virgin stuff for something else!)
Black pepper (and salt if desired)
1 tsp cumin (roughly – add to taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika (roughly – add to taste)
1 tsp mixed herbs (or herbs de provence)
1 tsp chilli flakes (roughly – add to taste)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Wash or wipe mushrooms to remove dirt. Pour into a non-stick baking tray.

2. Pour on the olive oil, pepper, herbs and spices. Using a spatula or wooden spoon toss the Pearl Grace Life: mushroom dishesmushrooms so they are evenly coated and spaced out.

3. Put the mushrooms in the oven on the top shelf for 15-20 mins, taking them out for a quick stir and toss at the half way point.

4. Take them out when soft and roasted but still firm to the touch. Grab a fork and tuck in, baby.

Switch it up!

I love using chestnut or button mushroom for this recipe because of their meaty texture but feel free to experiment with other mushrooms.

Also my choice of seasonings are simply what I like to use but you could throw on ground coriander or use chilli powder instead of chilli flakes for a more intense heat.

Or if you wish, you could strip it back to just some light herbs if you’re feeding little mouths or people with milder palettes.

Pearl Grace Life: mushroom dishesMy measurements are approximates so add the amounts that work for you.

For example, increase the amount of mushrooms according to the number of mouths you’re feeding.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce.

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie

Pearl Grace Life, Super green salad

Super Green Salad

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Super Green Salad

Pearl Grace Life, Super green saladIf you’re looking for a salad that’s brimming with green goodness then look no further than this super green salad.

I often make a big bowl of it for lunch and snack on it throughout the day.

It works perfectly as a side dish to meat or fish but is equally satisfying on it’s own.

I think the most essential part of a great salad is it’s freshness. Try to use fresh produce and prepare it just before serving. There’s nothing more depressing than a limp lettuce leaf!

Having said that if you hold off adding the dressing and avocados till just before you’re about to tuck into it then the salad will keep well in the fridge for a few hours.

This super green salad is light but packed with nutrients that your body simply can’t get enough of.

And because it’s a salad you can literally eat as much of it as you want – none of that calorie counting malarky! Look out for my post on the benefits of eating leafy greens coming soon.

As with all my recipes you can jazz it up as you see fit (cue vid). You can use this recipe as a starting point and have some terrific green endorsing fun by experimenting with different ingredients.

My measurements are approximates and makes enough for 4 greedy souls. Tweak the quantities to suit your needs.

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of baby kale
2 handfuls of baby spinach
2 handfuls of rocket leaves
2 handfuls of baby green leaves
2 handfuls of baby chard leaves
1 romaine lettuce or cos lettuce, roughly chopped
Half a cucumber, cut into quarters
3 salad onions, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped in small chunks
2/3 tbsp of pitted green olives (optional), chop if using large ones
1 handful of pumpkin seeds

Dressing:
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Green basil pesto (homemade would be divine but the shop bought variety works fine too)
1 small handful of Parsley, finely chopped and sprinkled on top (optional)

Method:

  1. Throw the kale, spinach, lettuce, rocket, baby greens and baby chard leaves in a large bowl.
  2. Toss in the cucumber, onions and green pepper.
  3. Add the avocado, olives and pumpkin seeds.
  4. Just before serving, add the olive oil, parsley and basil pesto. Add as much as desired

Switch it up!
Try mixing in some warm wild rice for a different texture and a beautiful nutty flavour. Plus it’s loaded with incredible goodness that you’re body will love. I’ll do a feature on wild rice in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

If you’re looking to boost your green intake then add some broccoli and cabbage to it. I normally steam them for about 10 minutes so they still retain there crunch.  Pure gold.

If you find it hard to find the leaves I mentioned above sold individually then you can grab a mixed bag of salad leaves from your supermarket. Most are already washed so you can just throw it in a bowl with minimal fuss.

Go green, baby! x

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie.

Pearl Grace Life recipe: Fruit bowl

Fruit bowl

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Fruit bowl with coconut yoghurt, seeds and berry compote

Pearl Grace Life recipe: fruit bowlThis is my absolute favourite way to start the day. (Well, straight after my hot water with honey and lemon).

My fruit bowl with coconut yoghurt, seeds and berry compote is brimming with vitamins, minerals and bags of goodness. And it’s pretty darn yummy too!

In fact it’s a bowl of everything you need to ensure you start your day off in the right way.

It’s super quick – literally only requires the act of  pouring and devouring – so it’s a fabulous choice if you’re short on time.

I’ve stated a handful of everything but you can add as much or as little as you wish.

Ingredients:
1 handful of blueberries
1 handful of raspberries
1 handful of grapes (green, red or black. I eat mostly black for their amazing health benefits)
1 handful of pumpkin seeds
1 handful of sunflower seeds
3 tbsp of coconut milk yoghurt (this is the one I eat)
2 tbsp of Nat’s berry compote (optional) Look out for the post on how to make this coming soon)

Method:
Ok, seriously, this couldn’t get any easier…

1. Throw all the fruit in your favourite cereal bowl.
2. Pour on the coconut milk yogurt.
3. Scatter over the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
4. Drizzle on the berry compote.
5. Mix together gently and enjoy every mouthful.

Switch it up!

One of the great things about fruit bowls is that you can include whatever fruits you like. I know I’m stating the obvious but it’s true. Bananas and apples work well too and offer their own additional health benefits.

Or you could top your bowl off with some dried cranberries and raisins or include cubed pieces of melon and pineapple. They all taste delicious and work really well.

And of course if you wanted to use fresh natural yoghurt or Greek style yoghurt instead of coconut milk yoghurt then that would work perfectly fine too.

Another idea that you might want to try is adding oats or flakes of almonds. And a handful of your favourite cereal for extra crunch can be equally satisfying too. Drew loves to add a handful of this to his bowl and it tastes especially scrumptious.

Experiment and have fun.

My only suggestion would be to make it as colourful and as texture-filled as possible. Make it a real breakfast treat.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce and wash the fruit thoroughly.

Title and content images courtesy of Nat Millie.

bruscetta

Bruschetta

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Bruschetta with a twist

bruscettaHere’s a special twist on the classic bruschetta.

In theory you could add your favourite toppings to satisfy your taste buds but this is one of my favourites.

Ingredients:

2 slices of spelt bread (or a crusty and seedy wholegrain option works beautifully too)

1 ripe avocado (diced or mashed – up to you)

2 large ripe vine tomatoes, chopped (or 4/5 small/cherry ones if desired)

A drizzle of Hemp oil (or Olive, Rapeseed or your whatever you like the taste of)

Crush of black pepper and Himalayan salt (or sea salt)

Scatter of chilli powder or flakes (optional)

Method:

1. Toast the bread

2. Top one slice with the avocado and the other one with the tomatoes

3. Season as desired and drizzle with your favourite oil.

Can be enjoyed at anytime of the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Switch it up!

For an alternative flavour, try a slice with a combination of pitted olives. It’s delicious.

Or add a healthy dollop of hummus on the toast before spooning on your topping. Nutritious and yummy.

Fresh herbs are also an option. Fresh thyme or basil work marry well with tomatoes.

Where possible use organic and locally grown produce