Herby lentil and tomato salad with griddled halloumi

Halloumi and Lentil Salad

When I think of lentils, hearty winter stews, indian dahl and my favourite vegan shepherds pie spring to mind. Salads are probably the last thing I would put lentils with but they go so well! I’m always trying to come up with new salad concoctions to keep things interesting and this one is easy to do, filling and really tasty.

I never used to cook with them as the idea of pre-soaking for hours on end was a no go. Sometimes you don’t always know what you are going to fancy the following day for dinner! So luckily you can buy them cooked, canned and ready to go, so all you need to do is gently heat for a few minutes or you can drain them and serve cold.

They are a great source of soluble-fibre, plant-based protein and iron, in fact per 100g, they contain more iron than steak! Lentils are really filling too so they go well in salads to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

You can opt out of the halloumi all together for a vegan option, replacing with tofu or another meat free alternative. Or use another type of cheese, goats cheese would work really well or paneer too.

Serves 2

  • 1 pack of Halloumi
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach/salad leaves of choice
  • 1 can of pre-cooked lentils
  • 2 cloves of garlic or 1 tsp of powdered
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes – not essential but goes really well
  • 1 large handful of baby plum or cherry tomatoes
  • juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon.
  • 2 tbsp of Balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh parsley and thyme

Method

Cut the courgette in half length ways and then cut those halves into further strips. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper onto a chopping board and then rub the courgette slices in this so they are nicely coated and then put onto a griddle pan over a medium heat, turning after a few minutes to cook on the other side.

Whilst that’s cooking, pour the lentils and their water into a microwavable bowl and cook in the microwave according to their instructions. Once cooked add to a separate pan over a medium heat with olive oil and chopped garlic (you can use fresh or powdered) the dried herbs and the vinegar. After a few minutes add in the fresh and/or sun-dried tomatoes and season well.

Once the  courgette slices are done put them into the oven on low to keep warm whilst you cook the halloumi. Cut the halloumi into approximately 10 slices and then rub each slice in the olive oil from the courgettes and place into the griddle pan, turn after 3-4 minutes once they start to brown (the griddle pan is just to make it pretty so if you don’t have one just use a regular frying pan).

Whilst the halloumi is cooking, add the lemon juice and zest and plate up the salad leaves. You can add any of your favourite salad ingredients now such as cucumber, beetroot, radishes, spring onions etc or you can keep it simple.

When everything is done, divide the lentils between the two plates, then top with the courgette and finally the grilled halloumi.

If you don’t finish it all, it’s a great dish to have cold the next day for leftovers. On top of this salad I’ve also thrown in some crispy Cajun chickpeas as a little added extra, if you want to make them then just click here.

juice: rebalance & refresh

greenjuice

Having a glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice is my favourite way to start the day as it makes you feels so healthy on the inside and gives you a massive boost of raw nutrients!

Why is juice good for you?

The process of juicing involves removing the pulp from fruit and vegetables and this enables your body to consume a huge amount of vitamins and minerals in one go without having to do the hard work of digesting all of the fibre they contain. Although fibre is an important part of a balanced diet it’s good to give your stomach a break as it works pretty constantly throughout the day, taking up to 18 hours to break down one meal, even when we are sleeping our stomachs are still active. So by juicing and drinking what we would normally eat this allows the nutrients to be absorbed quickly through the stomach and intestines allowing our digestive system to be fully cleared and refreshed.

Vegetable based juices are so good for you as they contain lots of essential nutrients, many of which are best consumed raw such as B Vitamin’s which are required for cell regeneration and keeping our nervous systems healthy. Folic acid, another name for vitamin B9, is found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, orange and lemons, all of which are great for juicing and is so important for your bowel to enable it to absorb the nutrients.

Most juices are vegetable based with a small amount of fruit to sweeten, this is because fruit contains fructose and although this type of sugar is naturally occurring, it still will have an impact on your insulin levels if you have too much. If you are making one or two a week then I wouldn’t worry about this but if you were doing a cleanse I would try stick to more veggies to keep your blood sugar steady.

Fresh juice bars are popping up all over the place which is great for when you are out and about and want a healthy hit of goodness in one drink but if you can make them at home it’s even better. Having a juicer is a bit of a luxury but if you already have one the good news is that it doesn’t have to be expensive! I did a one day juice cleanse last week which consisted of 5 different juices and for two people it cost under £20! When I did a 3 day cleanse it cost around £60 for 2 people so you are talking roughly £10 per day, per person but compared to buying one juice from a cafe at almost £5 a pop you definitely get a lot more for your money! You can also experiment too with different flavour combinations and quantities, for example I’m not a huge fan of celery in my juices, so I will substitute with cucumber for a more refreshing taste.

Planning what juices you are going to have in advance is essential and it does make things a lot easier when preparing them. Doing a 5-7 day cleanse is quite a big commitment so if you are new to juicing I would recommend doing a one day cleanse and then maybe build up to 3 days depending on how you feel/your budget and what you have going on at the time. Honestly, even if you were to just do a one day cleanse, you feel so refreshed and rebalanced afterwards and because you consume such a small amount of natural sugar, it reduces your cravings too so it has a knock on effect on your overall wellbeing once you have finished.

Juicing can be part of your everyday diet though, it doesn’t have to be just for the purpose of a cleanse. I try to incorporate fresh juice into my diet once or twice a week and it really hasn’t impacted my shopping budget either. See below for one of my favourite juices that’s super tasty, cheap to make and really wakes you up in the morning!

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5 medium-sized carrots 

1 1/2 lemons

1 thumb sized piece of ginger

4 small apples

 Serves 2 people