Recipe: Salmon Fishcakes and Cucumber Yogurt

Okay, so I suppose this isn’t TECHNICALLY a breakfast recipe, but don’t let that stop you!  I had some beautiful wild salmon fillets in the fridge that needed using up and there was nothing that was going to stop me having that beautiful fish for breakfast!

This recipe also lends itself wonderfully to tinned salmon.  If you have to make a choice between fresh farmed salmon and responsibly sourced wild tinned salmon, I would highly encourage you to go for the tinned!  I know I’ve encouraged farmed fish before where wild fish stocks are low or the fish is threatened, but even I have to admit there is no comparison between the flavours and if you can find responsibly and sensitively sourced wild fish, there is no reason not to use that.

If using fresh salmon in this recipe, you need to cook the salmon and let it cool.  If using tinned, just drain the fish before using.

Salmon Fishcakes and Cucumber Yogurt

Time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Calories: 175 calories per cake with yogurt

You will need:

For the cakes:

  • 2 tins salmon OR 2 large fillets of fresh salmon
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Kewpie mayo (or regular mayonnaise with a drop of vinegar)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 3/4 C breadcrumbs (I used brown bread)
  • 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp mint
  • salt and pepper
  • Panko breadcrumbs

For the Cucumber Yogurt

  • 4 Tbsp natural yogurt (non-Greek, as Greek would be too thick)
  • pinch of dill, parsley, mint, chives and ginger (optional)
  • finely chopped cucumber

Method:

  1. De-seed the cucumber and if desired, peel.  Chop it very finely.
  2. Mix the cucumber, yogurt and spices together.  For a bit of a twist add the barest pinch of ginger.  Set aside.
  3. Flake the fish into a bowl and add the egg, mayonnaise, lemon, spices and season.
  4. Mix in 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs and stir together.  If the mixture is too wet add the rest of the breadcrumbs.  The mixture should be moist but hold together when formed into patties.
  5. Divide the mixture into 4 parts and gently form into a patty.  Press each patty into a shallow dish of Panko breadcrumbs, and coat the patty.  Repeat for all four.
  6. In a wide, shallow pan, warm chilli oil until shimmering.  Carefully lay each cake into the pan and fry until the breadcrumbs have coloured and turned crispy.  Flip and fry on the other side until crispy, then lay on a paper towel for a few seconds before plating.
  7. Dribble the Cucumber Yogurt over the top of the cakes and garnish with lemon zest.

This actually made a great breakfast, but it could easily be turned into a tasty lunch with a rocket salad on the side or with some tasty steamed vegetables a satisfying dinner!

Recipe: Om Nom Rocket Salad

This has become hands down my favourite salad.  It’s easy, delicious and flexible and comes together in seconds.  Add in a sweet vinaigrette and listen to your tastebuds sing!

For those who think “Ew!  Fruit in a savoury salad!”  trust me on this one.  I used to be the very same, I couldn’t fathom the idea of fruit in a savoury salad, but this one WILL change your mind!

Om Nom Rocket Salad

Time: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Super Easy

Calories: 175 per 1.5 cup serving (85 without the avocado)

You will need:

  • 3 cups mixed organic rocket, cress and baby spinach leaves
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 medium sized avocado cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup radishes, sliced
  • handful of crushed walnuts
  • Parmesan flakes to garnish

My vinaigrette recipe:

  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 Tsp sale
  • 1/2 Tsp pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 C fine olive oil (the better the oil you use, the better the dressing)

Mix all ingredients together and allow to rest for 30 minutes before using.

Method:

  1. Assemble the salad and pour over the dressing.  EASY!

Recipe: Nutty Carrot and Broccoli Salad

15-Health-Benefits-of-Broccoli

The temperature is struggling to climb above zero. The wind is howling.  The fat raindrops plummeting from the sky verge on turning into ice pellets as they fall.  And despite it all, you want salad.

Sometimes there’s no accounting for what our bodies crave and when they’re craving nutrient dense foods, it’s best to simply give in, no matter how zany the craving. Actually, I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bad habit of answering the “bad” cravings too, especially the ones centring around cake…

Anyway, my point is that when your body is saying “some of this please” about fruits, veggies, even protein and carbs, it’s worth listening. You won’t often be steered wrongly when your body says it needs something nutritious.  If you aren’t sure whether it’s your body saying “I need this” or your head saying “You want this”, try this little trick; have a big glass of water and wait twenty minutes.  Still want that salad, apple, glass of orange juice as much as before?  Go for it!  Odds are however, that if it’s your head talking rather than your body, the craving will pass or will at least ease.

This recipe is a great one for when you’re staring out the window at the wintry weather and you start craving a crunchy salad. It really ticks all the boxes, the brightly coloured broccoli and carrots, the salty peanuts and the tangy mustard.  The best part is, this salad can be customised in so many ways and always be great.  Replace the carrots or broccoli with Romanesco cauliflower, the peanuts with hazelnuts or oily macadamias, add fresh, chopped coriander for a bright kick or fresh parsley to pack in extra vitamin C.  Mix honey into the wholegrain mustard or leave out the mustard completely, it’s as flexible as you want it to be.  Do keep in mind any changes or additions you make when accounting for calories!

Nutty Broccoli Carrot Salad

Time: 5-10 minutes prep and 30 minutes chilling time

Makes five servings at approximately 96 calories per serving

You will need:

  • 2 cups raw broccoli florets (if you find raw broccoli a bit tough, steam it gently for 3 to 5 minutes, just enough to soften it)
  • 1 whole carrot, chopped, shredded or sliced, as per your preference
  • ½ c salted peanuts
  • ½ Tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp light mayo

Method:

  1. Mix the mustard into the mayonnaise and set aside.
  2. Combined the vegetables and nuts into a bowl, then stir in the mustard and mayo.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before eating, then enjoy! It’s that easy!

Recipe: Herbylicious and Creamy Salad Dressing

Dressing

It may not look like much, but above is the recipe for what I think is the tastiest, creamiest and most refreshing salad dressing ever.  It’s a great alternative to store bought ranch-style, house or garlic and herb dressings, it’s inexpensive and you can fix it up in seconds using the things you would normally have lying around (I can’t be the only person with a slight sour cream addiction, can I?!).

Herbylicious Salad Dressing

Preparation Time: 35 minutes including chilling time

Calories Per Serving:  Using this recipe, approximately 25 per tablespoon

You will need:

  • 1 c light sour cream
  • 1/4 c semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 tsp garlic granules
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried chives
  • 1/2 tbsp dried mint
  • 1/4 tbsp dried dill

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add more milk if you find the mixture a little too thick.
  3. Cover the bowl with cling film or transfer to a bottle and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Enjoy!

This dressing works great as a dip too, simply reduce the amount of milk in the recipe or omit it all together.  I find that not only does it work with salad, but it’s great with crisps, chips, raw veggie snacks and used in most savoury dishes as a sour cream substitute.

 

Recipe: Breakfast Taters!

Anyone who’s read my blog long enough knows I’m big into my breakfast, but knows I also hate cold cereal as a breakfast (cold food makes me ill in the morning) and toast is boring. The problem is, how do you find a quick, easy and nutritious breakfast that you can either cook or warm up in the mornings without taking forever?

Simple, breakfast potatoes!

breakfast spuds

There are several variations you can do with these. My favourite is the simple baked potato version, and even that can be done in two ways.

The first method, my personal favourite, is to bake the potatoes, then cut them in half and hollow them out, leaving a shell of the skin and a thick lining of potato. Mix this potato with scrambled egg, chopped, cooked rashers or sausage, a bit of cheese, some chives or spring onions and a dollop of low fat sour cream.  Spoon the mixture back into the potato skin and refrigerate.  These store really well and two only two minutes to heat up in the microwave in the morning.  A good sized potato (3-4 inches in diameter) and mixed with light cheese and sour cream will only set your back around 3oo calories.

If you would like to cut out a few of the calories, discard or use the scooped out potato in another recipe, and simply fill the potato skin with the egg mixture of your choice. Again, two minutes in the microwave is all this requires in the morning.  Discarding the inside of the potato can knock as much as 40 calories off each half potato, so in my opinion not really worth it, but I think the difference between these two methods is more personal preference regarding the amount of potato and how you want to eat it.

Top either with a mixed salad of rocket, cress and spinach for a vitamin packed, warm and tasty breakfast.

You can also turn your potatoes into a mini casserole for breakfast. Rather than baking the potatoes whole, cut them into chunks and season with a light oil, paprika, a dash of garlic and chilli and roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until tender.  When cooked, take them out and divide them among 5 casserole dishes.  Top with some spicy salsa, then eggs and a sprinkle of cheese.  Again, two minutes in the microwave should heat these through nicely.  Serve topped with some sliced of avocado and you’ve got a tasty breakfast casserole for under 350 calories.

However you want to prepare them, potatoes and eggs can be great friends and an inexpensive, healthy and quick breakfast!

Happy New Year

I think it was Garfield that said “January is the armpit of months”. I can’t disagree either. . .

January, in Ireland at least, is the coldest month. It’s when we are most likely to get winter weather after mild Decembers.  It’s dark and the darkness is made even worse because there are no longer any fairly lights sparkling in the trees, no frenetic pre-Christmas energy.  The holidays have come and gone and December’s paycheque has been long ago spent.  January brings credit card bills, resolutions that are broken as quickly as they have been made and depression.  The hope of New Year’s Eve is quickly dissipated by the fact that no matter how carefully you managed your money, you’re broke already and there are still three weeks until payday.

In short, January is awful.

Especially this January. Some of the deaths – Terry Wogan, Black, Glenn Frey – didn’t affect me deeply, as I didn’t have a very close relationship with their work.  Others, such as David Bowie and Alan Rickman, shook me to my core.  No matter your relationship with them however, January 2016 has been a black month for the music and acting worlds.

Just another reason why January is awful.

About a week into January, I saw a meme going around Facebook, that January is fired and 2016 is restarting in February. I chuckled and shared it, because even then I was already feeling the January blues creeping on me but didn’t really think any more on it.  Until a few days ago.  The 27th of January was the last straw.

You see, with Gar out of work things have been pretty stressful. Add into that mix college and an insanely busy work year, well, you get the idea.  I started feeling rough in November.  Not anything dramatic, just a bit tired, a bit slow.  Waking up in the mornings congested.  As the month drew on, it got worse.

And then it got better.

And then it got worse again.

And then – it kind of stayed the same for a while.

And then it got REALLY bad.

By the second week of January, even I had to admit it was something more than a lingering cold. Crossing from one end of the apartment to the other left me breathless.  I would wake up out a restless sleep because I couldn’t breathe.  I would sleep all day propped up on the couch, then drag myself to bed where I would toss and turn all night, torn between vivid, hallucinogenic dreams and suffocating wakefulness. I was only a little congested, only coughing a little, but when I coughed, it spattered my hand with little sprays of red.  One exhausted Saturday, my fever peaked at 39.6* (103.3).  And behind all of it was the pain.  My chest hurt.  Breathing hurt.  Not breathing hurt.  Sitting up, laying down, at my desk, on the couch, it always hurt.  My own heartbeat beat a slow, steady rhythm ache.  I confessed to a friend that I was in pain, and ever since that conversation have carried aspirin in my bag, because I was just waiting for the heart attack to hit.

I’m 33.

The constant pain, the exhaustion and the sense of helplessness started to lead my thoughts to very dark places. I was becoming more and more confused at work and the vertigo was pulling me off balance continuously.  Through it all, I tried to hide how unwell I was, to joke away the strain on my face or the moments of confusion.  Laugh whenever co-workers expressed concern at how pale I was, or complained about how high I had the heat in the office (I felt cold from the inside, so it didn’t help, but I was desperate).  Daily life boiled down to one goal: get to the 27th.  Payday.  My treat to myself this payday was to get help.

Finally it arrived and I went to my GP. She took one look at me, put on a face mask.  Took my blood pressure, listened to my heart, then to my lungs.  Asked me several questions, then listened to my lungs again, asked me to breathe deeply, then to cough, then to cough harder.  Stepped back, said in a frankly accusing manner that listening to my lungs was like listening to dubstep.  She suspected pneumonia and I was sent on my way for a chest x-ray, clutching a prescription for Clarithromycin and a Ventolin inhaler.

The x-ray confirmed pneumonia. That was it.

January is officially fired, and today is New Year’s Day for me. And it’s already off to a much better start.  Gar has a temporary job (here’s to many more until the right permanent position comes along!), Deadpool is coming out in 11 days and most of all, I’m feeling better.  For the first time since nearly Christmas, I’ve gone hours at a time without pain.  I can breathe and if I feel breathless, I have the inhaler.  I’m still lacking in both strength and energy, but I’m getting better every day.  I’m looking forward eagerly to picking up yoga again, to free weights and eventually, to running again.

2016 starts in feb

I’m starting 2016 over. January has been dismissed, erased from my browser history, so to speak.  This cold, wet, wild and very, very windy Monday is my new beginning and I’m going to power ahead.

Happy New Year’s Day everyone. I hope your 2016 only gets better from here.

NaNoWriMo

Otherwise known as the perfect excuse for us aspiring writers to sink every spare moment into writing, guilt free.
Otherwise known as the perfect excuse for us aspiring writers to sink every spare moment into writing, guilt free.

For those who don’t know, I’m a passionate NaNo-er.  Consequently, every ounce of free time this month (November) will be dedicated to getting my 50,000 words in a semi-legible form.

Therefore, Ethical Food Muckery may be a bit, shall we say, inactive for the next 30 days.  MAY BE.  I might get fed up and come back to post, or I might get inspired or I might just miss it too much not to post something, all of that has happened before.

However, in the meantime I hope you will bear with me and I’ll see you in December, if not before.

If you’re curious, come see what I’m up at at the NaNoWriMo Dashboard.

If anyone else is writing a NaNo novel this month, the best of luck, and do please speak up, let’s be writing buddies!

Paige x