Roast pumpkin, spiced chickpea and pomegranate salad

Posted on January 04, 2018 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

January is a month of new beginnings, whether it is creating new habits, taking up a new hobby or starting a new healthy eating plan after an indulgent Christmas period. Sometimes, we become over fastidious about the food being healthy rather than tasting good and getting your taste buds tingling. I always think that people forget that eating well should taste good, and not just be good for you. We eat with so much more than our mouths so I created this salad which smells fragrant and looks delicious. For those of you participating in Veganuary, this recipe ensures that you have a good balance of both macro and micro nutrients, ensuring that you give yourself the optimum nutritional balance.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For salad

500g of pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and sliced into 0.5cm wedges

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 tsp sumac

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 a pomegranate, deseeded

3 spring onions, finely sliced

I bulb of fennel, finely sliced

10g each of mint, flat leaf parsley and coriander leaves

50g baby spinach leaves, washed


For dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp za'atar (I use Zaytoun)

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 180c/ 350F/ Gas mark 4 and prepare some lined trays.
  2. Mix the chickpeas with 1 tsp olive oil and sumac and roast for 15 min until lightly crispy.
  3. Arrange the pumpkin wedges on a tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
  4. Arrange the fennel slices on a tray, drizzle with the remaining oil and roast for about 15 minutes until softened.
  5. In the meantime, make the dressing by adding all the ingredients to a small jar and mixing well.
  6. Once the vegetables are cooked and slightly cooled, the salad can be created by arranging the baby spinach leaves on a large platter and layering with the pumpkin wedges, cooked chickpeas, fennel, spring onions, herbs and pomegranate.
  7. Drizzle over the dressing just before serving.

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Speedy Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Posted on September 17, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments


300ml good quality chicken stock (I like to use Ossa Organic)
2 star anise
1 small thumb of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 small head of pak Choy
1 spring onion, sliced on the diagonal
50g bean sprouts
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
some sprigs of fresh coriander
50g rice noodles (King Soba pumpkin and ginger are my favourite)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 tsp toasted sesame oil (I prefer to use Clearspring)
Juice of ½ lime
100g chicken breast

  1. Heat the chicken broth gently in a pan with the star anise.
  2. Meanwhile, marinate the chicken breast in the soy sauce and garlic.
  3. Heat a frying pan and cook the chicken until it cooked through.
  4. Meantime, wilt the pak choy in the same pan.
  5. Add the noodles to the hot stock and heat up until almost boiling and the noodles are cooked (about 6 min).
  6. Pour the stock into a bowl with the noodles and add the Pak choy, noodles and ginger matchsticks.
  7. Slice the chicken and arrange on the broth.
  8. Garnish with the bean sprouts, chilli, coriander, spring onions and drizzle with sesame oil and lime juice.

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Spanish style rice & grain salad

Posted on September 06, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

This quick and easy salad using one of Merchant Gourmet's convenient grain pouches is perfect for plant based eaters, and anyone else as an accompaniment, after work. I like to serve this with a seared piece of salmon but it works equally well with chickpeas or grilled halloumi. The perfect after work pick me up!

Ingredients (serves 2 as an accompaniment)

1 packet of Merchant Gourmet Spanish style grains and rice
1 roasted red pepper, finely sliced
1 small (100g) red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp spicy smoked paprika
1 tbsp  red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp flat lead parsley, roughly chopped
1tsp extra virgin olive oil
50g spinach leaves


  1. Heat up a frying pan, add the olive oil and add the red onion and cook until slowly caramelised which will take approximately
  2. When the red onion is softened, add the paprika and red wine vinegar.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes until the vinegar has been absorbed by the onion.
  4. Add the pouch of rice and grains and cook for a further 3 minutes. Season well.
  5. Mix in the roasted peppers, extra virgin olive oil and herbs before arrange on a bed or mixing in the washed spinach leaves.





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Blueberry protein pancakes

Posted on August 13, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments


Sunday 13th August is #blueberry day so what better day to brunch on these heathy protein packed blueberry pancakes? Blueberries are packed with antioxidants which can prevent heart disease and cancer and other age related diseases.

Ingredients (makes about 20 pancakes)

100g oats

300g Quark

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

1 tbsp agave nectar

200g punnet of blueberries

maple syrup to serve

  1. Blend together the oats, Quark, eggs, vanilla and agave nectar until you make a smooth batter.
  2. Add in 100g (about half) the blueberries to the pancake batter.
  3. Heat a trying pan and brush with a small amount of olive oil or butter.
  4. Add 1 tbsp of batter to make each mini pancake and allow to cook for about 90 seconds or until there are small bubbles on the pancake.
  5. Flip the pancake and then cook for another minute.
  6. serve with more berries and maple syrup.


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Vietnamese Minced Chicken Salad

Posted on June 14, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

This light salad is a refreshing update on the traditional Vietnamese or Northern Thai ‘ larb salad’ that is often made with chicken or pork. The dressing uses the classic South-East Asian flavours of hot, sweet, salty and sour to flavour the simple chicken filling.


Serves 4-6 as a main

For the salad:

4 chicken breast fillets or 6 chicken thigh fillets
3 tbsp groundnut oil
1 red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp grated root ginger
2 small red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 handful of coriander, finely chopped
4 little gem lettuce

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tsp sweet soy sauce


1. Mince the chicken breasts in a food processor.

2. Heat a large frying pan and add the oil.

3. Add the chicken and ginger when the oil is hot and cook for about 5 minutes, until is turns white. Season to taste.

4. Drain the chicken and mix with the onion, chillies and chopped coriander and mix well.

5. Prepare the dressing by adding all the ingredients to a small jar and mix well.

6. Toss the chicken salad with the dressing and check the seasoning.

7. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving platter and spoon the chicken filling into the leaves.

8. Serve immediately.


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Avocado brownies - a healthy (sort of) weekend baking recipe

Posted on May 17, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

If avocado and brownie are two words you never thought you'd see together, then think again. If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth with some relatively guilt-free homemade chocolate treats then these avocado brownies are a must-try.


Makes 20 brownies (159kcal, 4g protein, 10g fat, 12g carbs)

225g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
4 medium eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
25g cocoa powder (make sure it's gluten free!)
50g ground almonds
2tsp vanilla extract
2 very ripe avocados, thoroughly mashed


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan). Line a 10 X 12 inch tin with greaseproof paper. Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water- making sure that the bowl doesn't touch the water. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Using an electric beater, whisk the eggs together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

3. Mix the cocoa, almonds, vanilla, mashed bananas and avocados into the melted chocolate. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk together until combined. Pour mixture into the prepared tin and level. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set.

4. Allow to cool completely in the tin, before cutting into 20 squares.

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Spiced Summer Chickpea Salad

Posted on May 13, 2017 by Toral Shah | 0 Comments

Chickpea salad

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week (15th-21st May) I wanted to share one of my most loved (and meat-free!) summer dishes. This delicious seasonal salad is inspired by the vibrant flavours of the Middle East and was one of the first recipes I created after leaving my City job in 2004 and starting my MSc in Nutritional Medicine. It remains one of my favourite salads as it's so simple and healthy and makes a great lunch or even a fresh addition to the typical barbecue fair.

Better yet, chickpeas are beneficial for the body as they are high in nutrients such as calcium, potassium, beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamin C.  Chillies are thought to speed up the metabolism by up to 15%, which is particularly useful for anyone trying to lose weight.


Serves 6 as a starter or accompaniment
For the salad:
1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and diced
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
15g fresh coriander, finely chopped
15g fresh mint, finely chopped
Freshly ground salt and pepper
For the dressing:
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 clove of garlic, crushed
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

To garnish:
100g feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Coriander leaves, shredded


1.         Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl.

2.         Add all the dressing ingredients to a small jar and shake to mix thoroughly.

3.         Pour the dressing over the salad and garnish with crumbled feta cheese.


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