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April 11th, 2014

Two “Naughty but Nice” Recipes that Will Have Your Mouth Watering
by Jenni Hibbert

Many of our private chef clients love a hearty recipe but want them to be healthy.  Sometimes the best recipes seem like a bit of a contradiction: Think taking a healthy ingredient and adding a naughty twist- a sprinkling of chocolate here or a dollop of creamy mayonnaise there. Here are two charmingly “contradictory” recipes that will make your mouth water.

Recipe 1: Chocolate and avocado mousse

There is little doubt that avocados have a reputation for being very healthy. Although they are a little fatty, avocados famously contain oleic acid- a healthy monounsaturated fat. This type of fat actually lowers bad cholesterol in your blood. Your risks of suffering a stroke or from heart disease is lower. Avocados are also packed with more protein than the average fruit as well as vitamins and minerals like potassium, Vitamin B and Vitamin K. A final bonus is that avocados contain half the recommended daily intake of fiber. With its creamy, filling texture and distinctive flavor, avocado makes a great secret ingredient in a chocolate mousse! This is a great recipe and embodies an important truth when it comes to food- eating well using healthy ingredients does not always have to mean sighing over an uninspiring salad, something which the multiplicity of health-related food portals out there prove.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain chocolate chips or good quality dark chocolate

  • 4 very ripe avocados, peeled and with the stones removed

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/2 cup agave

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • A couple of drops of almond flavoring

  • A couple of drops of vanilla extract

  • A pinch of salt

  • Mint to garnish

Directions

  • Fill a saucepan about two to three inches with water then bring to simmer on the hob.

  • Put some dark chocolate chips or cut-up pieces of good quality dark chocolate in a bowl and then place this over the saucepan.

  • Let the chocolate melt, stirring every so often to help the process and prevent any one part of the chocolate burning. After all the chocolate has melted, using a dishcloth or oven gloves, take the dish off the pan and leave to cool. Of course, you can also switch off the hob at this point and dispose of the hot water in the saucepan (carefully!).

  • Take the avocados, melted chocolate, agave, almond flavouring, milk, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt into a food processor and blend them until you have a perfectly creamy, smooth mixture.

  • Take a large spoon and transfer the mixture into serving glasses. Once you are happy with the presentation but them in the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours.

  • Garnish with a sprig of mint and then serve.

Recipe 2: Mushroom and Spinach Lasagne

Since the Popeye cartoon, children the world over have been brought up to believe that spinach can make you strong. It is, of course, true that spinach is a wonderfully healthy ingredient. The leaf, which is believed to be Persian in origin, is extremely rich in iron- crucial for the transport of oxygen around the body and the generation of energy. Spinach, like avocado, is absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and magnesium. Spinach is relatively straightforward to grow at home too. It is hard to get around the fact that spinach has a reputation for being one of those healthy foods that nobody likes eating. In fact, it is possible to make it the staple ingredient for one of the world’s most popular comfort foods- lasagne. Mushroom and spinach lasagne is a delicious vegetarian dish that everyone should try.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • One normal-sized supermarket pack of mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves, chopped

  • 6 lasagne sheets, ideally fresh

  • One bag of pre-packed spinach

  • One, 300g tub of light soft cheese

  • 5 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Pre-heat your oven to around 180 degrees celsius or gas 6.

  • Put the olive oil in a big frying pan and cook the garlic in it for about a minute. Throw in the thyme and mushrooms and cook them until they soften. Toss in the spinach and cook until the leaves wilt.

  • Take off the heat and then add one tablespoon of the Parmesan, the soft cheese and season to taste.

  • Place a quarter of the mix into the bottom of a baking dish. Put two of the lasagne sheets on top carefully. Repeat until all the sheets are used up.

  • On top of the last serving of mixture, sprinkle the remainder of the Parmesan.

  • Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until cooked through.

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