Butternut and chicken laksa

Have been knocked out with a cold for most of the weekend, so planned a healing dinner of laksa-style soup.

This is my go-to dinner when I get the lurgy as it’s easy to eat and packed with garlic, ginger, chilli and fresh herbs which can only be good for you 🙂
This time (inspired by a Jamie’s 15-minute dinner episode) I added grated butternut squash to bulk it out, and heavily garnished with fresh coriander and Thai basil which were lurking in the back of the fridge. No piccies as I could barely keep myself focussed for the half hour it took to make, but will be doing again and will write up the recipe soon!

Here’s what went into it……
In a big pot, 1.5 pints boiling water from the kettle and add 1 chicken stock cube and 2 tablespoons Thai curry paste, a tablespoon each of sesame oil, fish sauce and nut butter. (I used macadamia paste)
Stir to dissolve everything and bring it back to the boil and chuck in half a butternut squash (grated in the food processer), 4 sliced spring onions, finely shopped stems from a small packet of coriander (reserve the leaves for later) and a whole can of coconut milk. I got this back to a boil before adding 2 chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces, and simmered for about 20mins until the chicken was cooked.
Before serving, add the juice of 2 limes and scatter over the chopped coriander leave – because you’re worth it. x

Easy Summer dinner

Super-chuffed with this picture 🙂 ]

Too hot to cook last night, but had nothing prepped in the fridge so went for minimal effort.

Crispy skinned, oregano chicken with a rocket and pecorino salad spritzed with fresh lemon to serve. Lush 🙂


Discovery Chicken

After a bit of a stressy dinner the night before, I thought I’d better give myself a break and deploy one of my prepped dinners from the freezer. The original recipe this is based on calls it west African, but I can’t see why as the ingredients are more east African but then it’s a bit of a jumble anyway!

I prefer to call this Discovery Chicken as it includes tomatoes and chillies introduced to Africa by the Portuguese  explorers from their colonies in the New World. Why not just call it Portuguese chicken? That’s Nandos!


1kg Chicken thighs, skinless and boneless (about 10-12 pieces)

1 x onion, diced

Thumb-sized piece of root ginger, grated

6 cloves garlic, grated

1 tablespoon ground Coriander seeds

1 tsp Cayenne pepper (reduce or omit if you don’t like spicy)

400g can chopped tomatoes

85g Sunflower seed or Almond butter  (about half a small jar)

Half tsp vanilla extract


Heat a tablespoon of Coconut oil in a casserole pot, or large skillet with a lid. Generously season the chicken with S+P then brown, in batches. Set aside.

In the same pan, sauté the onion and ginger for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the garlic, coriander, cayenne (if using) and stir well to combine. Add the tomatoes plus half a can of water and bring to  a boil.

Return the chicken to the pot along with any resting juices and bring back to a boil before turning down to a simmer for 25-30mins.

When the time is up, carefully remove the chicken pieces. They will be quite tender. To the sauce add the nut or seed butter and vanilla, and give it a good stir. At this point you can break up the chicken and put it in the sauce to serve. I prefer to leave the pieces whole, as it’s easier to portion for freezing, then break it up in the sauce when reheating.

Crispy shredded chicken Asian veg salad

The only reason I called this “Asian” salad is because I was replicating the most amazing salad I had at Asian Box in Macy’s SFO. Who’d have thought you could get fresh, tasty, gluten-free food in a department store basement food hall?!

You start your “box” with a base of rice, noodles or salad – I go with the brown rice or salad depending on jet-lag levels – then add protein* of your choice followed by steamed or wok-fired veggies. If that’s not enough there’s a whole pick ‘n mix of toppings like crispy shallots, fresh herbs, pickled veggies and chillies. As it’s all built in front of you, you can easily opt out of bits your don’t want.

STOP! We’re not quite finished yet! there’s still the 6 house made sauces to choose from! I normally have this as a treat so I’ll happily have a little sriracha sauce, even though it’s not sugar-free or soy-free, but they also have “Asian Street Dust” which is a mix of dry spices. Amaaazing!  Perfect mix of fresh, crunchy, spicy and comforting. Even if your body clock doesn’t feel ready for dinner time, it looks light enough to not be off-putting and just the thing for blowing away the long-haul flight cobwebs. Plus, it’s not in a restaurant so no expectation for you to interact with people or tip 🙂

So, back to dreary Berkshire, UK. Here’s what I threw together:

Asain Box Salad


Crispy chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 1 x whole Poached chicken breast (about 2 cups)
  • 1tsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1tsp Fish Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut aminos


  • 1 x Yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 handfuls Beansprouts (about 150g)
  • Half a Cucumber, peeled into ribbons
  • Hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved


  • 25g Cashew nuts
  • 4 x Shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 x Red chilli, finely chopped (as mild or spicy as preferred)
  • 2 x Spring onions, thin sliced
  • Half a Lime, in wedges
  • Sriracha sauce, shop bought or homemade


Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a wok or skillet. Tear the chicken into bite sized strips and fry in the oil until starting to brown and starting to get crispy strands. Add the 5 Spice, fish sauce and coconut aminos and stir well. You should get a slightly caramelised effect. Turn off heat, and set pan aside.

Assemble all the salad ingredients on a serving plate.

Now we work fairly quickly. Heat a small frying pan and dry roast the cashews until golden, then pour onto a chopping board to rough chop. Now heat the other 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the same pan and add the shallots. The natural sugars will start to caramelise and they’ll crisp up – keep them moving so they don’t burn. When you’ve achieved desired crispiness, remove from the pan and transfer to a piece of kitchen towel. They shouldn’t be massively greasy, but draining them prevents sogginess.

Serve up a portion of the chicken onto the salad, top with chilli and spring onions followed by a squeeze or two of sriracha and a spritz of lime. Sprinkle over the sweet and crispy shallots and the roasted cashews.

Asain Box Salad

*I couldn’t find any allergy info on their website, so I can’t be sure what’s in the marinades but I didn’t have any adverse reaction.

The Butter Chicken Experiment

After seeing a Paleo recipe for this Indian Restaurant favourite on My Heart Beets I wanted to see how it compared to a non-Paleo version. I have a couple of different recipes I’ve used in the past, all following a similar method:

  1. Marinade chicken pieces in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and spices
  2. Roast the chicken (chicken tikka style)
  3. Make a sauce with tomatoes, garlic and ginger, more spices and an enthusiastic quantity of cream and butter whisked in.

I’m going to pick the best one of those recipes and do a side by side comparison – for scientific reasons, of course 😉

Chinese lemon chicken

One of my favourite take-away meals, pre my attempted clean-living phase, was the lemon chicken you get from every “Chinese” takeaway. (quotation marks used there as I’m quite sure anyone from China would be baffled by the cuisines they serve up). Thinly battered pieces of chicken, coating slightly soggy from sitting in a tinfoil tray covered in sweet and zesty lemon sauce. The sauce always reminded me of lemon curd – and it probably was 🙂  All this was smooshed together with egg fried rice to form an easily shovelable sweet, MSG’y glob of deliciousness. Sigh…….

So many reasons why that’s a No now, but I do still get a fancy for it. Last time I tried it, about a year ago, I was really disappointed. Not sure if my nostaligia/ memory was failing me or if eating real food, and hugely reducing my salt intake, had massively affected my taste buds. Bit like how people who quit smoking have an epiphany when they “taste” a carrot for the first time in years.

The solution came when I spotted a honey and lemon sauce (paleo version) in my new cookbook. No weird ingredients; just honey, lemon and seasonings (I won’t give the whole recipe – buy the book!) with arrowroot to thicken. A-MAZE-ING!

Would have tasted great with a suitably-paleo coated, crispy chicken fillet but I had just poached a chicken that morning (jumped over a fence and everything…) . I pan fried the chicken breasts to heat and give a bit of colour, as poaching does leave everything a tad anaemic, and served it all with a pile of egg-fried cauliflower “rice”. The end result was spot on for flavour but did look a bit beige – I like to think “Authentic” 🙂