Tootoomoo Whetstone

I love Pan Asian food it’s got to be one of my favourites.  The mix of flavours, textures and colours is so enticing and the types of dishes that can be made are endless.  It’s also pretty healthy too which is an added bonus.  Not all restaurants are able to pull off Pan Asian cuisine to a reasonable quality but for those that would love to try a good one and live in London it I would strongly suggest going for a meal at Tootoomoo in Whetstone.  I went years ago with some other mums but as there was a large group of use we had to have the set menu which I don’t normally do and the restaurant wasn’t very big so it was a little tight but since then they have recently refurbished and the restaurant looks far nicer and was a bit more spacious.  It’s not an enormous restaurant but it is nice and cosy and has a and relaxed atmosphere.  This is a great place to go on a date or with friends and even for parties.  Staff are exceptionally welcoming and available when needed and extremely willing to help with explaining items off the menu as well as advising about popular dishes.

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I popped along to review this site and was extremely pleased that I had revisited, you will see why very soon.  First of all let it be said that their Lychee Martini is gorgeous it’s a fabulous drink for lovers of sweet fruity cocktails and one fans of sweet drinks must all try it!

We ordered a selection of starters which arrived at our table quickly.

The Starters

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Edamame (soya beans)

Packed with natural phytooestrogens and fibre these tasty beans are a lovely healthy way to start a meal.

Yuzo Salmon Maki (cold dish)

The flavours and textures were indicative of fresh food and were made well with the maki being firm and not falling apart when we picked them up with our chopsticks.  These were a good size too as some restaurants serve ones that are too big and not so easy to cram into one mouthful.  Food needs to look good, taste good and it helps if it’s easy to eat too.

Salmon Sashimi (cold dish)

This came accompanied by a small bowl of soy and kizami wasabi (fresh wasabi) and some salad leaves.  The fish was clearly fresh and cut to order.  The pieces were a touch thinner than the ones I have been served at other restaurants, yes I noticed but this was something I quite liked as it as that bit easier to eat all in one go.  The salad garnish and wasabi had been freshly prepared and the mix of fresh flavours was lovely.

Duck & Watermelon Salad (cold dish)

This is a well balanced dish with a mix of flavours and textures that work well together.  It’s delicious and super healthy too, simply take a look at the photo and you can see red lettuce, watermelon, nuts, nice fat free chunks of duck, cucumber, radish, carrot and lettuce.  This is a firm favourite of mine and I could eat a large plate of it all to myself as a meal.

The Mains

Black Cod Miso

This was delicious and for those that haven’t tried it it is a must.  Everyone I know (and I know a fair few people) that has been introduced to this dish loves the succulent, soft, moist, flaky fish and gorgeous flavour.  In many cases this will become one of you favourite dishes if it isn’t already.

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Singapore Noodles

These Singapore noodles must be one of the best I have ever had.  There was plenty of flavour, a good kick of heat and they had king prawns rather than the teeny shrimp that some others use.  In addition take a look at the size of those squid pieces!!!!!  Seriously, the quality of the dishes that came out was very good and the photos really help me give you an insight into this.

Thai Green Prawn Curry

This gorgeous coconut based soup with just the right amount of heat is full of flavour and nice sized pieces of seasonal vegetables and again those nice big prawns.  This was well made and I really couldn’t fault it.  I really do love this dish and there is also a chicken and a vegetarian version too if you prefer.

Egg Fried Rice

This was not overly greasy and had some nice bright coloured pieces of vegetable in it too which I quite liked.  This was great for soaking up all the yummy juices from the green curry and beef rendang.

Beef Rendang

Again rich in flavour this dish was fantastic.  You can taste the lemon grass coming through as well as coconut.  This is one of those warming comfort dishes that really make you feel great on eating them.  There were nice big chunks of beef that was tender without a trace of fat. The beef literally melts in the mouth.  There were also nice big chunks of sweet potato which really did work well in this dish.  This is also available in a chicken version and I think a vegetarian version with sweet potato and some other vegetables would be a lovely addition to the menu.

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Aromatic Duck

The piece of duck presented was lovely and tender and moist with perfectly crisped skin on top allowing for a nice mix of textures when this was added into the pancake with the pieces of vegetables and the hoisin sauce.  I’ve never had this with pieces of carrot and beetroot which was a lovely idea and adds colour and more nutrients to the dish.  This is a great dish for sharing and also keeping all for yourself.

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Dessert

Pistachio Creme Brulee

This was heavenly.

If I was to sum this up in two words they would be “Loved it!”  The creme was lovely a velvety smooth and simply amazing.  There as a lovely pistachio and vanilla flavour to the custard and although I had felt pretty full at the end of the meal I was so glad that I had attempted to squeeze this in too.  I wouldn’t hesitate to order this again and again it was the first time I had tried a pistachio creme brulee but I really don’t want it to be the last.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the meal at Tootoomoo and am hoping to take my husband and friends who have yet to go along to enjoy the food too.  What impressed me the most was the thought and care that went into the presentation of each dish.  Each dish looked great and this made them exceptionally appealing.  The ingredients were also of a good quality and these guys didn’t seem to take any short cuts to create their fabulously delicious food.

Have you visited one of the various Tootoomoo branches yet?

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I was invited to this restaurant to sample the lovely food and provide and honest review, all thoughts and opinions are mine own.

Courgetti with Tomato, Chorizo and Olives

As some of you may be aware I have been playing with a new spiraliser from UK Juicers.  This is a great gadget for making vegetable pasta and ribbons.  Using vegetables in place of pasta is a great way to not only cut your calorie intake but also to increase your fibre intake and nutrient intake.  With the new year and the time of new years resolutions approaching many of us are looking for inspiration for low calorie meals that do not compromise on flavour.  This dish does just that, my latest recipe comprising of courgetti, garlic, tinned tomatoes chorizo and more not only gives a pasta style dish with lower calories it also provides antibiotic qualities – garlic, anti-ageing effects – tomatoes and iron from the chorizo as well as a wealth of other vitamins and minerals.

Courgetti with Tomato, Chorizo and Olives

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Serves 2

Ingredients

4 courgettes

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

100g cooking chorizo

400g tinned tomatoes, chopped

16 pitted kalamata olives (66g) sliced into 3 or 4 pieces

150-200ml water

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Method

Spiralise the courgette and set aside.

Slice the chorizo into bite sized pieces and pan fry without out as it will release oil as it cooks.

Remove the chorizo from the pan.  Soak up some of the oil with a kitchen towel.  Leave a little of the oil and throw in the red onion and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes then add in the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add in the tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper and water then throw the chorizo back in and cook for a few minutes for the flavours to infuse.

Add the courgetti and stir in well to thoroughly coat it.

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Cook for a few minutes and serve hot.

Enjoy x

Cous Cous with Basil, Tomatoes and Mozarella

I know that recently I have been posting more recipe posts but what can I say I do love my food.  I wasn’t always a fan, it was only once I began cooking for myself that my love affair with food began and we haven’t looked back since.  Having come from a Mediterranean background I do love foods with a wealth of flavour rather than bland food.

Cous cous is a great ingredient especially as an addition to salad.  I do rather enjoy experimenting with it as it is extremely versatile.  Cous cous is a whole grain so you get more vitamins, minerals and fibre each serving than those that have been refined.  It is a great source of protein so fabulous for vegetarians.  Cous cous also contains fibre so helps to prevent constipation and also catches fats within the fibres and helps remove them from the body helping to reduce cholesterol levels.  Cous cous contains selenium which is an antioxidant that protects cells from toxins and helps fight cancer.  It is though that a deficiency in selenium is linked to prostate cancer and also possibly lung cancer.

Ok enough of the science lesson, now for the recipe and it’s a good one.

Ingredients

400g cous cous cooked in chicken stock, cooled and fluffed (this is the weight before cooking.)

90g semi dried tomatoes, place on kitchen towel to remove excess oil

60g kalamata olives (pitted)

7-8 fresh basil leaves

125g mozzarella

Piece of basic for a garnish

Method.

Chop the tomato pieces into 2 or 3 pieces depending on how large they are and toss them and the olives into the cous cous.  Tear the basil leaves and chop the mozzarella into bite size pieces, add both to the cous cous.  Stir well and garnish with a little extra basil as in the photo.

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You can omit the cheese if you prefer or even simply add a vegetarian cheese.

Enjoy!

Chickpeas with Spinach and Tomato

In my quest to eat as much healthy food as possible, after looking at the tins of chickpeas in my cupboard I decided to grab one and then take a look in the fridge to assess how appropriate its contents might be for a tasty dish.  Hurray a bag of spinach.  That was me well onto my way for my next dish.  Recalling I also had tinned tomatoes I grabbed those and a few other ingredients to add a bit more flavour and set to work.

Chickpeas are a great bulking ingredient and are fibre rich.  They are also a great vegetarian friendly source of protein a good fact for vegetarians to know when confronted with any naive carnivores that think all should follow suit and eat meat.  I eat a range of foods including meat although not often although if you look at our teeth we were designed to eat both meat and foods originating from plants.  Of course some prefer to refrain from eating animal products for varying reasons and that is ok.  Each to their own as far as I am concerned.  Man wouldn’t have eaten meat often as it was harder to catch animals and would rely on mainly plant derived foods.

The trend was in the past to eat more meat based food but as we find out more about the health aspects of eating meats and what negative effects some may have on the body many are favouring vegetarian and vegan diets.

My Chickpea with Spinach and Tomato recipe is perfect for vegetarians and vegans just omit the yoghurt and you have a great dish that it tasty and healthy.

Serves 2 as a main but also makes a great side dish for 4 – 5.

Ingredients

1tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 white onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 piece of ginger 2cmx2cm in size

1 tin of chickpeas (400g)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)

150g fresh baby spinach washed and strained

1tsp Madras curry powder

1/8tsp cayenne pepper

Salt to season

Coriander (optional) I added in about 3tbs.

Method

Finely slice the onion and chop the garlic and ginger into small pieces.

In a preheated saucepan add in the olive oil and toss in the onion, garlic and ginger.

Stir fry for about 4 minutes then add in the curry powder and cayenne.

Stir for a further 2 minutes then add in the spinach and stir slowly until it wilts.

Add in the chickpeas, stir well.

Add the coriander and season with salt and serve.

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You can add a big dollop of Greek yoghurt if you fancy as it goes really well although the dish is very flavourful as it is.

Enjoy!

Pho and Bun restaurant in Soho

The appropriately named Pho and Bun restaurant in Soho serves authentic Vietnamese food in the heart of the theatre district.  Their menu is varied yet not excessive and as their name would indicate their menu features Pho which is a traditional broth that is not only healthy but also extremely tasty with its herb and spices as well as Buns which are rather yummy burger like creations.  There are of course other dishes to choose from but these are their best sellers and you will see why shortly.

The restaurant was busy when we found it.  There appeared to be a range of customers from people on their work breaks, people visiting London, families and foodies.

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On our arrival the duty manager Babis showed us to our table which was available within minutes gave us our menus and advised us on some of his favourite dishes.  What a fabulous fellow, clearly a foodie himself he was very passionate about the food served and quite rightly so as it is very healthy and also clearly very popular judging from the steady stream of new arrivals.  There is also a seating area downstairs so there is plenty of room.

After careful consideration we decided what we were to try and the ever attentive Babis appeared like magic just at the right time to take our order.  This guy was great giving all his customers attention and assistance.

The menu was varied and all the dishes sounded fabulous which made choosing what we were to order very difficult.  We decided as the restaurant was name Pho and Bun it would be wrong of us not to sample both.  We requested one tasting menu with the Pho Bo Tai and also the Lemongrass Beef skewers.  I opted for the Bun / Steamed Bao Burger with the 28 days dry aged beef, red onion relish, house pickle and smokey mayo.

Cocktails to start:

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My plus one tried the Chilli-Mango daiquiri.  This has a mild kick to it but isn’t too hot.  The heat is counterbalanced by the sweetness that makes this a great cocktail.  The Lychee Martini was my option and was amazing.  It was easy to drink, full of flavour and the various flavours worked well together.  I could have easily had another but I had food to review so needed to be able to concentrate on taking photos and writing notes.

Starters

Pork and Crab Spring Roll

These pieces were pretty large for spring rolls and crammed with fresh vegetables and crab meat.  The portion size wasn’t big but it was part of the tasting menu rather than individually ordered so the size was about right.  The flavour was more subtle than that of the other dishes and the sauce it was paired with as a result was light to allow for the various flavours including that of the crab to be tasted rather than overwhelmed.

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Chilli Salt and Pepper Squid

I must say this is one of the best versions of this particular dish I have had although the squid itself isn’t the softest I have tried the batter was nice and crispy, perfectly seasoned, not greasy and the freshly stir fried onion, spring onion and pepper with just the right amount of salt really did add the perfect finish to the dish.  This was a dish we both agreed would could have kept to ourselves.  You might want to order one per person if you pay these guys a visit as it was lovely.  This dish has so much flavour on its own it has no need for a sauce.

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Fresh Summer Roll with Tiger Prawns

I really do enjoy summer rolls.  The act of eating them makes me feel so healthy and the fresh flavours of the herbs and other ingredients not only look but taste great.  I have been making various types of summer rolls for years including ones with chicken, my recipe for which you can find on my Summer Rolls page.  The summer rolls at Pho and Bun were equally delicious and their appearance attracts attention.  The accompanying peanut sauce was better than many I have tried with a rich flavour and not at all oily.

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Mango Salad with Tiger Prawn 

This was simply amazing.  The fresh flavours of this create a fabulous dish and I was very pleased that Babis had given us a larger portion of this as my tastebuds were in heaven.  Seriously sitting here writing this now I wish I had a bowl to munch on as it is also very healthy and could make a great meal by itself.  The ingredients are quite simple but as you can see are all fresh which make a difference to the flavour of the dish.  Again fresh mint and coriander appear in the dish as does a little chilli to add a nice kick.  This is the epitome of healthy eating.  The sprinkle of crushed peanuts add a little crunch to the dish as well as additional flavour.  This salad was also great to cleanse the palette between dishes and also cool if you had eaten something spicy.

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Lemongrass Beef Skewers

The flavour within the lemongrass spear infuses with the juicy beef to create a mouthwatering dish.  Perfect for the meat eaters among us this is a great dish that is as delicious as it is beautifully presented.  The caramel and soy sauce like flavour of the sauce gives a gorgeous contrast of sweetness to the savoury meat.  The flavours of the fresh mint and coriander compliment it well.  Hardly surprising this vanished very quickly so if you are sharing this between two you will either have to share the third skewer in a civilised manor like I did with my plus one or have your fork at the ready to pounce so you don’t miss out.  The garnish with mooli is also delicious with a yummy dressing, we didn’t leave anything on this plate except the actual lemongrass skewers.  This was in addition to the tasting menu but well worth trying as far as we were concerned and we were very appreciative to Babis for recommending these.

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The Mains

Pho with Rare Sliced Beef

Again we listened to Basis’ advice and went with the rare sliced beef as we were advised that we simply needed to stir the soup in order for the beef to be cooked by the hot broth.  The broth has a secret combination of spices that give it a lovely rich flavour.  This dish is definitely full of flavour and comes with a bowl of fresh herbs, beansprouts, chillis and lemon.  You simply pull the leaves off the stems of tear them apart and toss the in.  The spiciness is controlled by each dinner as you choose how many chillis to add.  This was popular amongst other dinners and I observed quite a few with Pho of different types.

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Bun / Steamed Bao Burger

These are freshly made and served with salad, house pickle, fresh herbs and homemade mayonnaise and a choice or free range organic meats or crispy tiger prawns.  I asked for some sweet potato fries to go with this.  The fries are great with a soft inside, crispy outside and the are extra tasty with the chilli mayonnaise they are served with.  The burger although on the smaller side from what we may find in some burger chains is far superior to them in in it’s quality of ingredients, flavour and juiciness.  Burgers should be moist not like cardboard and these are not only moist but cooked to perfection as you can see in the photo below.  I think that a large size option should be available for those wanting to come for healthy burgers and chips as the other local burger restaurants simply can’t compete.

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We were pretty full by the time we had eaten all this and only just managed to squeeze in a dessert albeit to share.

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Coconut Snow with Vietnamese Ice coffee

With the weather being warm this was not only delicious but also very refreshing.  A welcome addition and lovely end to a fabulously tasty meal.  The coconut can be tasted although is overpowered a little by the coffee here.  Either way it was very nice and we were pleased we managed to find space in our pretty full stomachs to fit it in.

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Babis insisted we try a Matcha Green Tea soft ice cream as we left.  Armed with a match cone in hand we proceeded into the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of London ready to do a little walk to help our food go down.

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Basis also kindly gave us a portion of the Flan Caramel with Vietnamese coffee and also Pandan and Coconut Panna Cotta with Peanut and Pineapple Salsa to take away and try later.  These were both very good.  The flan was lovely and thick yet creamy and went well with the coffee.  The Panna Cotta was amazing the flavours worked incredibly well together and is a dessert I may have to look into recreating at home.

Service at the restaurant was friendly and efficient.  I loved that all the dishes had a lovely selection of fresh ingredients which was obvious from the flavour and the portion sizes were good.  The prices for the location are reasonable and this is really a great place for food lovers to pay a visit when in London.  This has to be one of my favourite London restaurants so far with a great mix of flavours and many more dishes I would love to try.

We would love to say a big thank you to the wonderful Babis without whom I am sure our visit would not have been as enjoyable even though the food was fabulous.

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If you have not been here yet you really are missing out!

My Score: 4.5 / 5

This meal was complimentary but our views were not influenced in any way.

Thai Style Minced Chicken In Gem Lettuce Baskets

We don’t have a clue what goes into preprepared foods nowadays.  Companies combine all sorts including fats, skin, large blood vessels, intestines etc. to create our sausages, burgers, minced meats on sticks, meat balls and other foods.  We have to trust that all these foods are above board and safe to eat until the next food scandal that is.  For those of us that care about what goes into our bodies there is good news.  I have found the perfect device to help make making your own our own burgers etc. simple so we no longer need not rely on companies whose main purpose is to make money over and above their customer’s health.

I recently got my hands on the Eddingtons Mincerpro!  This super kitchen gadget is great to help me make a wealth of home cooked meals and this way I know exactly what is going into my food.  With the mincer I control all ingredients within my recipes including fats which is great and helps me keep my meals healthy.

It was love at first use with the Eddingtons Mincerpro, not only was it simple to use and clean but it also enabled me to make the most amazing Thai inspired recipe EVER!!!!!  If you love Thai you will love this, even if you don’t you’ll probably love this as it is literally bursting with flavour, super simple to make and tastes in a word AMAZING!!!!!

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Simply clean the machine and you are ready to get mincing.  The machine can be taken apart and washed in a dishwasher which is very convenient.  Ready to use it?  Simply pop pieces of chicken breast pieces into the top of the mincer and push down with the meat pusher.

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Turn the handle and out comes the minced chicken.

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This is really easy to do and you don’t need to press down hard to get the chicken to travel through.

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And finally one of my favourite recipes ever:

Thai Style Minced Chicken In Gem Lettuce Baskets

Serves 2-3

Make that 2 it’s so good you will want as much as possible.

Ingredients

600g Minced Chicken (I minced it myself with my Eddingtons Mincer pro)

To add whilst cooking

1tbs Coconut oil

1ts soy sauce

4 finely chopped kaffir lime leaves

3tsb brown sugar

3 cloves of garlic chopped

2x2cm cube of fresh ginger, chopped into small pieces

1tbs fish sauce

2tbs sweet chilli sauce

1 stem of lemongrass the white part only, finely sliced

To add once cooked

3 tbs chopped coriander

1 s chopped spring onion,

2tbs chopped fresh mint

Zest of 2 limes

Juice of 1 lime, use the other zested one as a garnish (can be added if needed to individuals meal)

To Serve

4 baby gem lettuces washed and the larger outer leaves removed and left to dry.

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Method

Mince the chicken breast, cover and set aside.

Make sure you chop all ingredients that need chopping / slicing, zesting, jucing etc.

Place 1tbs coconut oil in a heated saucepan and add the chicken, stirfry for 3 minutes.

Add in the soy, lime leaves, sugar, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, sweet chilli and lemongrass and cook for a further 5-6 minutes (medium heat).

Once the chicken is cooked through add in the coriander, spring onion, mint, zest and lime juice and stir in well.

Spoon some of the mixture over the gem lettuce leaves and serve with a wedge of lime.

Enjoy!

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Tomato, Mixed leaf, Lentil, Feta and Olive Salad

It’s salad season!  Thousands of us are trying to get into shape to look great for our holidays or for weddings etc.  It can be boring if you’re not sure what works well with a bowl of mixed leaves but there are so many salad variations that you need not worry.  This is one of my favourites and is also very healthy at the same time.  Why?  Well it has ingredients that help detoxify your body, boost collagen in your skin to help make it look younger, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, stimulate the breakdown of fats and reduce fat storage and so much more so push aside those processed meals, don’t go out for lunch and eat foods containing ingredients high in fats, sugars and salt make your own lunch and live healthier lives whilst also saving some money in the process.

My recipe is not only super easy but also quick and tasty so take your health into your own hands and give it a try.

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 medium chicken breast

35g mixed leaves

20g feta

2.5 – 3 tbs green lentils (cooked)

20g sundried tomatoes bite size pieces

10 -12 pitted Kalamata olives

Method

Place a chicken breast on a piece of foil and fold over the edges so it’s like a tent.  Place in a fan oven for 25-27 minutes at 200 degrees.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little so it doesn’t burn the salad leaves.

Wash the salad leaves and place on your plate / bowl.

Break up the feta and sprinkle this and the lentils over the leaves.

Throw in the sundried tomatoes and olives.

Slice the chicken and add this to the salad.

Enjoy!

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Lentil, Feta, Tomato and Hummus Salad Wrap

In my mission to make people see salads in a different light I thought I should share one of my salad wrap recipes.  I like to throw my ingredients together to make a tasty and healthy low calorie meal that not only helps to satisfy my hunger but also helps to improve my appearance and health all in one.  How’s that for multitasking!  Today’s recipe is for a wrap that uses the following ingredients to make a meal that you will want to eat again and again and can also travel well, handy if you need a low calorie but tasty lunch for work or when out and about.

Serves 1

Takes approx 6-8 minutes to make.

Ingredients

1 wholemeal wrap

20g mixed leaves

14g chopped coriander

15g chopped / sliced white onion

30g Feta

15g oven dried tomatoes

2tp cooked lentils

3 tsp (heaped) hummus

Method

Rinse and dry the mixed leaves and place to one side of the wrap.

Add the coriander, onion, lentils, tomatoes.  Break the feta into chunks and place evenly over the leaves then spoon over the hummus.

Wrap tightly and enjoy.

DSC03049Health Benefits

Firstly it is important to use a wholemeal wrap when making this not a white wrap.  The wholemeal wrap will give you the fibre, minerals and nutrients found in the wholegrain before processing.  You need fibre in your diet as it helps to bulk up stool allowing easier transit out of the body.  Fibre catches water in its fibres in order to do this and can help to give the surface of the bowel a bit of a clean as it passes thorough.  As well as this the fibre can also catch sugar and fat and help reduce levels of this in the blood stream.  For another recipe containing fibre and a tiny bit more on its benefits in the body take a look at my Breakfast Smoothie recipe.

As well as being delicious hummus is packed with protein, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids, iron and fibre.  So not only can it help keep our bowels healthy it can also help lower cholesterol, improve muscle and bone health (due to the protein), reduce symptoms of anaemia thanks to its iron content and is also rich in antioxidants which have numerous positive effects on the body most importantly something that many will be happy to hear is that they can reduce free radical production thus improving the appearance of the skin and helping delay wrinkles.  Bet you are all loving this recipe right now!

I won’t go into each ingredient but one last one that again works on the skin appearance is the humble tomato.  Once cooked the quantity of lycopene increases and this is wonderful for great looking skin.  Want to learn a little more about lycopene and also checkout two more great recipes then why not take a look at my Melanzanes Parmigiana recipe and also my Focaccia with Oak Roasted Tomatoes recipe.

For strict vegetarians and vegans you can simply leave out the feta and add more lentils and hummus.  For hardened meat eaters you can always add a few thin pieces of grilled chicken or beef fillet to keep this healthy and also tasty.