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Lunchbox, Sides, Vegan &/or Raw

Celeriac and white bean puree

Not so pretty, these celeriac things. They look like a cross between the butt of a matted yak, and a swede with dermatitis. But damn, are they delicious.

Like Stephen Fry, you’ll find treasure beneath that exterior. There is a smooth understated elegance to a celeriac. And a faint nutty aroma. Indeed the celeriac is Yotam Ottolenghi’s favourite root vegetable, so I became a disciple faster than green grass through a goose.

For a carbalicious root, celeriac is rather light on the tummy and even lighter on the wallet. Whizzed up in a blender with creamy white beans, it provides a comforting alternative to mashed spuds, when the mood yodels.

celeriac butter bean puree

 

And get this. Beans carry a cargo of B vitamins and fibre, making them the heavyweight champion food for healthy hearts. Gastroenterologists – the specialists who look after your pipes – recommend thirty to thirty five grams of daily dietary fibre. One cup of the popular red kidney beans provides eleven grams, while butterbeans ring in at sixteen grams per serving. Want to know the average daily intake in Ireland?  A measly ten grams. So forget that hideous childhood rhyme, and start loving beans. They love you.

While your colon gets a good spring clean, so too will your skin. Nutritionists are quick to remind us that a build-up of toxins in the body often manifests in skin complaints – spots, rashes, blotchiness, tantrums. Our skin is our body’s largest excretory organ. With the added vitamin C from celeriac, you’ll be well on your way to giving Angela Scanlon some competition.

 

celeriac butterbean

 

Celeriac and white bean puree

Makes 6 servings

 

1 teaspoon bicarb

350g dried butterbeans, soaked for 8 hours

½ head celeriac, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

A few twists of the salt and pepper mill

 

Bring a pan of water to the boil with your bicarb. Add the butterbeans and cook until tender (20-45 minutes). Drain the cooked beans, reserving 150ml of the cooking liquid for later.

Meanwhile, steam the chopped celeriac for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a blender along with the cooked beans, and whip until sumptuously smooth. You will need to add the reserved liquid, salt, pepper and excitement as you puree.

Scrape into a serving dish, smoothing the top, and mmmizzle with olive oil.

 

celeriac butter bean

 

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Breakfast, Lunchbox, Salads & Suppers, Sides

Chilled Mango & Egyptian Gibna

I am snooping around the city for my supply of Indian and Pakistani mangoes, like a crazed version of an only slightly less bonkers self. Every store I go to, they’re sold out. These chaps are the Imelda May of mangos – perfumed and honeyed with inimitable attitude. Intoxicating stuff.

Generally, Pakistani and Indian mangos arrive on our shores ready to eat, as opposed to the solid Brazilian Kents that assault our supermarkets. The Alphonsoes in particular are cheaper, sweeter and jellier than any other mango I’ve tasted – you’ll need to sit in a bath tub just to eat one. Licky-sticky-yummy. Admittedly, they are quite the adventure to find. Your best bet is in a local Asian grocer or Halal store.

Although mangos are high in natural sugars – 30g on average – they service our system too. Good news for sugar junkies. Expect to get a shot of beta-carotene, zinc and vitamin C with each mango session. These particular nutrients are associated with luminous skin, without the price tag of La Prairie.

And get this. Mangoes are a surprisingly good source of vitamin B6. This vitamin helps our brain manufacture happy hormones called serotonin. Fist. Bump.

 

Gibna Mango Chilli

 

 

Feta – sheep’s and goat’s milk

Feta is practically giddy with calcium. This is the mineral responsible for sturdy bones and radical dance moves. Now that we know calcium-supplementation can carry some negative side effects (such as contracting artery walls), it might be wise sourcing calcium from our diet rather than relying on pill-popping.

 

feta cheese

 

If you’re not mad on feta, Irish goat’s cheese is unreasonably delicious. We have a special temple built for Bluebell Falls and Ardsallagh goat’s cheese in our fridge. It’s a brilliant vehicle for Green Leafy Veg, especially with toddlers, husbands and other contrarians. I’ve rapidly learned that if I put goat’s cheese on (insert healthy food here), all manner of boy will eat it.

Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk has a particular pH level that seems to excite ‘alkaline’ eaters such as Sienna Miller, Victoria Beckham and Robbie Williams. The Alkaline Diet is a scorching trend among the gorgeous brigade of London and New York. Apparently, alkaline foods help with the absorption of calcium from our foods. These include all fruit, veg, millet, and sprouted nuts, seeds and beans. On the opposing side sits acidic foods – beer, meat, chocolate, bread. Advocates believe that acidic foods interfere with the proper absorption of calcium.

Interested? Check out The Honestly Healthy Cookbook penned by Sienna Miller’s stepsister Natasha Corrett. It’s good. You’ll need to resuscitate that roll of litmus paper from biology class. And that day-glow exercise leotard. Good luck!

 

mint gibnamangos alphonsos

 

 

Chilled Mango & Egyptian Gibna

Gibna is a soft, white, salty cheese similar to feta but distinct to Egypt. It may not sound terribly exciting, but your veins will think otherwise. Chilli revs up your heart rate and metabolism, and helps release a cavalry of feel-good endorphins.

Socialise it with some licky sticky mangoes to experience alarming amounts of pleasure.

 

2 very ripe mangoes

200g gibna beyda or feta cheese (there’s a cracking recipe for pine nut ricotta on page 111 of my cookbook for vegan pals)

1 teaspoon lime juice

4 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6-8 medjool dates, stoned and chopped

Large handful of fresh mint leaves

Freshly cracked black pepper

 

De-stone each mango. To do this, cut the cheeks from each side of the stone. Slice these into strips, like melon, removing the leathery skin with a sharp knife. Try salvaging as much flesh from the stone as possible, but we usually resort to sucking this while we read the remainder of the recipe.

Arrange the mango slices on a breadboard, and leave to chill in the fridge.

Using a fork, mash the cheese into your lime, tahini, olive oil and cayenne pepper. Finely chop the medjools and mint leaves. Let them loose with the crushed feta. It won’t need salt, but a few cracks of the black pepper mill will bring it up an octave.

Taste, and add more chilli or mint to suit your mood. Serve in a small bowl beside lashings of fragrant mangoes and flat bread.