Good Mood Food : Ginger Spice

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine.

Wintry spices warm the soul, and none more so than ginger – synonymous with chilly weather and scrummy baked goods, now is the time to make the most of its health-boosting, cold-fighting goodness.

With it’s rich, warming flavour, ginger is a store cupboard saviour at any time of year, but particularly during the festive season, says nutritionist Alison Cullen: “Think gingerbread and lightly spiced drinks…’ One of its main benefits is improved circulation and increased blood flow which, couple with ginger’s zingy taste, is fantastic for sharpening your senses and bolstering brainpower. Boosting blood flow around your body, ginger helps keep your extremities – hands, feet and head – toasty on chilly days.

Inflammation evasion
‘As with many wonderful herbs and spices, ginger’s anti-inflammatory powers are a huge boon and work in harmony with its antibacterial and antioxidant properties,’ says Cullen. ‘Between them, they make this knobbly root a real health powerhouse; fighting inflammation and boosting antioxidant levels is vital for keeping our minds and bodies in balance,’ she says.

Nature’s cure-all
‘And there’s a good reason ginger is a spice hero during winter in particular,’ adds Cullen. ‘It’s high antioxidant levels and antibacterial properties not only help fight off cold-causing bacteria, they also soothe some of the most irritating symptoms, including a sore throat and congestion.’

Grate Stuff!
You’ll be surprised at the number of dishes that can be elevated with a sprinkle of ginger, and it works beautifully in some unexpected places. Try ginger grated ….
* In marinades and dressings
* On salads
* Mixed into yoghurt
* On toast under the grill with a dab of coconut oil
* Sliced into water (hot or cold)

Book Ideas : Sugar & Spice

Prepare a feast for the senses with these cookbooks.

  1. New Feast Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian by Greg and Lucy Malouf:

2. Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

3. The Essential Middle Eastern Cookbook by Michelle Anderson

4. My Little Persian Kitchen by Rebekah Jones

Rebekah Jones is a cook and Persian food enthusiast. Born to a Persian father and an English mother in Coventry, she loves to share her knowledge of Middle Eastern food. You’ll find easy and fragrant dishes at, influenced by her love of Eastern flavour and spice. Her cookbook ‘My Little Persian Kitchen) is filled with recipes, anecdotes and tips, plus a little about the history of the spices used in the book.

Food Focus – Spud-tacular !

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine – February 2019.

Mashed, baked, julienned … what’s not to love about the vitamin-rich potato? Nutrition Editor Eve Kalinik chips in.

From the floury Maris Piper to the velvety Vivaldi, to the perfectly proportioned Jersey Royal and the honourable King Edward, the potato may be deemed humble alongside its fellow veg but, as some of its more noble names indicate, it should be royally celebrated.

You might be surprised to know that potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, with one medium-sized spud providing around 70 per cent of the recommended daily intake. This helps to support energy, immunity and skin health. And they boast a decent amount of B vitamins and magnesium, too – the nutrients we need for energy, among many other physiological processes. Being one of the richest sources of potassium also makes them a good source of this vital mineral that has myriad functions in the body.

When it comes to gut health, potatoes provide fibre that is important for our gut microbes, as they flourish on a fibrous feast, and it is a healthy and thriving microbiome that we need to support. Try to enjoy your spuds with skins on, as there is a greater fibre content, which gives you more bang for your buck when it comes to the microbiome. Interestingly, when potatoes are cooked and fully cooled – think potato salad – the starch molecules transform into something called resistant starch, which behaves a bit like fibre, in that it resists digestion and finds its way to the microbiome, giving an additional potent ‘feeding’ effect.

There is a plethora of marvellous ways to cook, eat and enjoy your spuds. Personally, I can think of precious little else more delicious than a baked jacket potato with a generous hunk of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt. A roast dinner, particularly at this time of the year, is not complete without the glorious roast spuds that you could argue often steal the show! Just remember, as you tuck into your spud, that it is actually far from lowly and we should feature the potato proudly and respectfully on our plates.


Choose … Maris Pipers are ideal for mash, but you may want to try Jersey Royals for boiling.

Cook … Give Eve’s ‘Punchy potato salad’ a whirl, which is great for some of the leftover spuds from Christmas dinner. Find the recipe in her book Be Good to Your Gut.

Buy – The Malle W Trousseu Box, £50.16 is ideal for the discerning spud cook. It features a brush and stainless-steel peeler and masher.

A taste of Persia – Kabab Koobideh

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour.

Makes 5-6 large kebabs or 10-12 small patties

A signature Persian dish, the word kebab – or kabab, as the Persians call it – means ‘to grill’, usually over fire. Serve street food-style with flatbreads or as a satisfying dinner accompanied by grilled vegetables and flavourful saffron rice.

Ingredients :

1 kg minced lamb (30 per cent fat is essential)
2 large onions, minced in a food processor and drained of any liquid or very finely chopped
2 level tbsp ground turmeric
2 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
6 tomatoes
Flatbreads, to serve

Method :

  1. Put all the main ingredients into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, work them together well, pummelling the meat mixture for several minutes into a smooth paste.
  2. To make large kebabs, divide the mixture into 5-6 portions and form each portion around a flat sword skewer about 25cm long. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the meat widthways from one end of the kebab to the other to create the classic ridges.
  3. Cook the kebabs over a charcoal barbecue that has been burning for about 30 minutes, alongside the whole tomatoes. The trick is to cook them for about 10-15 minutes in total, until the meat is browned and cooked through, while turning them every 2 minutes to help the fat render and prevent the kebabs from burning.
  4. To make small kebabs, preheat your oven to its highest setting (with fan if it has one). Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Divide the mixture into 10-12 portions, form into sausages, then flatten and pinch to create ridges. Place on the baking tray with the tomatoes and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Serve the kebabs and tomatoes immediately on the flatbreads so the bread absorbs the juices.

A taste of Persia – Kidney Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour.

Serves : 4-6

The yoghurt in this veggie stew cools the heat of the mint oil, a traditional addition called nana daagh. Serve with rice or bread.

Ingredients :

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 large onion, diced
4 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes
690g (1 large jar) passata
500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
400g can kidney beans, drained
1 small packet (about 30g) flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried mint
150g Greek yoghurt
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Method :

  1. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and pour in enough oil to coat the base of the pan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent, then add the garlic, stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn. Continue cooking until both have softened without browning.
  2. Add the spices to coat the onion and cook, stirring, for a minute. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the passata. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  3. Stir in the sweet potato and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the potato is tender. Add the beans and most of the parsley to heat through.
  4. Place a separate pan over a medium heat, add the dried mint and 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat the mint for a few minutes, without letting it burn.
  5. Transfer the stew to bowls, add dollops of yoghurt and scatter over the remaining parsley, then pour over the hot mint oil and serve at once.

A taste of Persia – Yoghurt and Spice Roasted Salmon

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Simply written by British-Iranian cook and author Sabrina Ghayour.

Serves : 4

These oven-baked salmon bites are roasted quickly for slight charring on the outside and delicate flesh on the inside. Pop leftovers into your lunch box for the following day.

Ingredients :

500g skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4cm cubes

For the marinade :

4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp garlic granules
1 heaped tbsp rose harissa
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika
Grated zest of 1 lime and its juice
1 tsp olive oil
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

To serve :

Tortilla wraps
Sliced tomatoes
Finely sliced onion
Coriander leaves
Greek yoghurt

Method :

  1. Preheat your oven to its highest setting (with fan if it has one). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add the salmon and turn until well coated in the marinade.
  3. Spread the salmon out on the prepared baking tray and roast for 10 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with tortilla wraps, tomatoes, finely sliced onion, coriander leaves and Greek yoghurt.

Roasted Parsnip, Garlic and Haricot Bean Soup with Sage

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Soup Broth Bread by Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Serves : 6

This is a supremely smooth and silky soup, topped with deliciously crisp fried sage leaves. The garlic cloves, when roasted in their skins, deliver a sweet but rounded depth of flavour. This is the perfect soup for a cold and blustery day.

Ingredients :

3 medium or 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
6 very large, whole unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 x 400g tin haricot beans
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped sage

To serve :

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Handful sage leaves

Method :

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC, 180oC fan, gas mark 6. Place the parsnip and onion chunks in a roasting tray with the whole unpeeled cloves of garlic. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss the vegetables, seasoning with salt and pepper. Spread them out to cover the base of the roasting tray and place in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and a little golden around the edges.
  2. Drain the tin of beans and tip all but a generous tablespoon of beans into the vegetables. Return to the oven for 5 minutes more.
  3. Take the tray out of the oven and tip the beans and vegetables and any juices into a saucepan with the hot stock. Add the chopped sage and blend until smooth. Season to taste.
  4. To serve, pour the hot soup into warm bowls. Put the olive oil into a small frying pan and allow to get hot. Add the sage leaves and fry for 10-15 seconds, until they turn a couple of shades darker and become fragrant. Spoon the sage-flavoured oil and the crispy sage leaves over the soup with the reserved beans, and enjoy.

Pumpkin, Cheese and Rosemary Scones

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Soup Broth Bread by Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Makes : 9

Deliciously savoury and gorgeously light in texture, these scones are great served with a hearty bowl of soup. You can use any squash instead of pumpkin and, if you fancy, add lardons of crispy bacon or diced chorizo to the mix.

Ingredients :

175g peeled and deseeded pumpkin (weight when peeled and deseeded)
1 tbsp olive oil
200g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
50g finely grated cheese (Cheddar or a hard cheese such as Parmesan)
1 egg
100ml milk, plus 1 tbsp extra for brushing over the top

Method :

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC, 180oC fan, gas mark 6. Cut the pumpkin into 1-2 cm chunks and place on a roasting tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until tender. tip the pumpkin into a bowl (leaving the oven on) and mash very well with a fork, or blend in a food processor, then allow to cool. If using canned pumpkin puree, you’ll need 125g.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and cayenne pepper into a bowl and add the rosemary, salt and all but 2 tbsp of the grated cheese, reserving the remaining cheese for scattering over the scones before they go into the oven.
  3. Whisk the egg and mix with the pumpkin puree and milk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients add the wet ingredients then, with your hand in a claw shape, mix the two, making sure you don’t knead but simply mix until it comes together.
  4. Tip the mixture out on to a floured surface the tidy the sides, working it into a rough square and patting the dough out to 2 cm thick. Brush a little milk over the top and scatter with the remaining cheese, then cut the dough into 3 x 3 portions to make 9 scones.
  5. Place the scones on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. They should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

Cauliflower, Cashew and Coriander Soup

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Soup Broth Bread by Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Soul food – A humble bowl of soup is always a comfort, whether nursing a cold or a broken heart.

Serves : 6

This smooth and creamy golden bowl of goodness gets its silky texture from cashew nuts and its soothing anti-inflammatory qualities from the yellow turmeric. Serve on its own, or with toasted cashews scattered over the top.

Ingredients :

1 cauliflower head
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
100g cashews
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
A few good pinches salt
1.1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp chopped coriander (leaves and fine stalks)

To serve :

20g cashews

Method :

  1. First, prepare the cauliflower. Remove and discard the outer green leaves, reserving any smaller ones close to the cauliflower, and cut off and discard the base of the stem. Cut the cauliflower into slices, then chop it all: florets, stalks and any remaining leaves.
  2. Place the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the cauliflower, the chopped onion and garlic, the cashews and the turmeric. Season with the pepper and a few good pinches of salt (this soup needs careful seasoning, otherwise it can be bland).
  3. Cover the vegetables with the saucepan lid, then turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring from time to time, for 15-20 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, toast the cashews. Place them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toss them regularly for about 4 minutes, until golden. Roughly chop and set aside.
  5. Add the stock to the vegetables and bring to the boil, then blend well. Add the lemon juice, chopped coriander and more salt and pepper, if necessary. The soup should be smooth like velvet.
  6. Serve straight away or reheat, and scatter the toasted cashews on top.

Breakfast eggs with avocado and black beans

Recipe taken from Balance Magazine, published by

On the pulse – Pulses contain protein and fibre and, compared to other carb-containing foods, don’t give sharp rises to blood glucose levels. So if you have diabetes, there’s never ‘bean’ a better time to cook with them …

Serves: 2 Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 15 mins

Per Serving 322g:

Carbs: 24.1g Cals: 375 Sugars: 5.1g Fat: 20.9g Sat Fat: 4.9g Salt: 0.22g
Protein: 17.3g Fibre: 10.2g

2.5 portions of fruit and veg

1 large avocado
2 small eggs
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
200g canned black beans in water
8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp chipotle paste
2 spring onions, finely sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6. Halve the avocado, remove the stone and scoop out 1 tablespoon of flesh from each half (reserve for another recipe).
  2. Sit each half in a ramekin to keep them upright. Crack an egg into each and bake for 12-15 mins until yolk is set.
  3. Heat the oil in a small non-stick frying pan. Add the chilli and cook until softened. Add the beans and their can juices, the tomatoes and chipotle paste. Cook gently for 5 mins until warmed through and the tomatoes are starting to soften.

Tip: If your eggs are a bit big, separate the yolks, pop a yolk into each avocado, stir the whites with a fork to break them up, and use to top up the dip in each avocado.