Cucumber Salad with Chilli & Lime

Today I have a basic cucumber salad recipe for you. Don't let the word 'basic' put you off, as it's very, very good - tasty, crunchy and quite delicious, plus it doesn't go soggy in the fridge overnight, so I often make a big bowl-full and use it to supplement my meals for a couple of days.

I've eaten this with a frittata; it's quite delicious for breakfast, piled onto a piece of toast spread with avocado; and I've also stuffed it into rice paper rolls, together with some panfried tofu. I reckon it would go well on top of a bowl of ramen soup, or tossed through some cooked buckwheat noodles and topped with an olive oil fried egg.

Cucumber Salad with Chilli & Lime

Essentially, to make this salad, I thinly slice the cucumbers, season with salt and add a pinch of chilli flakes, some lime juice and sesame oil. That is it. Ingredient quantities and proportions are very loose, so feel free to adjust according to your taste buds. These quantities make about enough for a side salad for two people, although I'd happily eat the whole lot myself.

Ingredients:

3 small cucumbers
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 fresh lime

The ingredients you'll need, together with a pinch of salt.

The ingredients you'll need, together with a pinch of salt.

What to do:

Prep the cucumbers: Thinly slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl - I use a mandolin to slice the cucumber, as it's faster and I like the really thin slices it gives. However, a knife and a tinge more patience would also work.

Add the rest of the ingredients: Add a pinch of salt to the cucumbers, together with the dried chilli flakes and sesame oil. Squeeze over the lime juice and then, using your hands, toss the ingredients together making sure the cucumber slices are thoroughly coated with lime and sesame oil.

Serve immediately or place in the fridge for up to 48 hours.

I love my mandolin for the thin slices it makes.

I love my mandolin for the thin slices it makes.

Cooking Notes:

I do find tossing the salad with my hands makes a difference. There's something about slightly massaging the ingredients into the cucumbers that makes the flavours more delicious.

There are loads of ways to vary this salad. I think some chopped coriander would make a lovely addition, as would a little grating of fresh ginger. A splash of shoyu instead of the pinch of salt would work and you could replace the lime juice with rice wine vinegar.

Nutrition Notes

  • Vegetarian and Vegan friendly.
  • Suitable for gluten intolerants and lactose intolerants.
  • Unfortunately, I think the pinch of salt is important, so I am not sure I'd recommend for those following a low salt diet.
  • Low in FODMAPs.
Using the cucumber salad in rice paper rolls is a  very  good idea.

Using the cucumber salad in rice paper rolls is a very good idea.

Banana, Maple & Ginger LSA Porridge

There's been much talk of “Polar air” on the weather forecast this week. A simple phrase which can't help but make me feel cold, and shivery. 

It's also made me change my normal breakfast routine of muesli or toast, to something warm and nourishing.

I can't remember where I first found the idea for this porridge, made from LSA – ground up linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds – but it's something I've been making for a couple of years now. On a cold morning, when I find myself wanting something hot and hearty for breakfast, this is perfect.

Banana Maple & Ginger LSA Porridge - perfect for a winter's day

Banana Maple & Ginger LSA Porridge - perfect for a winter's day

I make it with many, many variations and I've included some more suggestions below, but this version is my current favourite.

Banana, Maple & Ginger LSA Porridge

LSA and milk cooks into a lovely porridge, in a matter of minutes. You only need a relatively small amount of LSA and it expands and thickens into a hearty and filling breakfast. Ginger spices up the flavour, while the banana and maple add a little sweetness. Serves 2.

Ingredients:

500ml almond, dairy or soy milk
½ cup (125ml) LSA * 
Pinch of ground ginger
1 banana
Maple syrup

What to do:

Make the porridge: Combine the milk, LSA and ginger in a small saucepan. Place over a medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Stirring regularly, cook for 2 - 3 minutes, until the mixture is thick. 

To serve: Slice up the banana and scatter over the top. Drizzle over the maple syrup and serve immediately.

Cooking Notes

LSA is ground up linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds. It's available from almost all supermarkets, where it's usually found in the health food section. Keep your open packet of LSA in the fridge, to ensure it stays fresh.

I don't have a microwave, but see no reason why this couldn't be cooked in one.

I love this made with maple syrup, but it's expensive stuff. If I've run out and don't have the budget to buy a new bottle, I'll often drizzle over golden syrup or honey. A spoonful of marmalade is also quite delicious.

Feel free to replace the ginger with cinnamon, allspice, mixed spice or a pinch of nutmeg.

If I want more fruit, I often grate half an apple and add it to the cooking porridge. Berries and passionfruit flesh are also delicious.

Nutrition Notes

  • Gluten free – although check the ingredients if you're using non-dairy milk
  • Suitable for vegetarians
  • If you use a non-dairy milk, suitable for vegans
  • As long as you use a lactose free milk, this porridge is lactose free
  • Low salt

What's your current breakfast?

Spiced Peanut Butter Muesli Bars

Muesli bars make a great snack, however many of the brands available from the supermarket are crammed with dodgy sounding ingredients, so why not make your own?

Spiced Peanut Butter Muesli Bars

I've been making these muesli bars for a couple of years now. They originated from a recipe on Teresa Cutter's site. However, over time, I've tweaked the original, adding ingredients and changing the method until they've morphed into this current incarnation. 

My latest change has been the addition of peanut butter to the mixture which, along with the spices and golden syrup, gives a spicy and treacley flavour to the finished bars.

The bars are slightly crumbly, which is a texture I like. If this is a problem for you, then just add another egg which will help further bind them together. Makes 16 serves.

Ingredients:

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup golden syrup
3 cups natural muesli
½ cup ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs
¼ cup pepitas* or flaked almonds

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Melt the peanut butter & golden syrup: Spoon the peanut butter and golden syrup into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Melt the ingredients, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly combined and smooth - you do need to watch this, as the syrup has a tendency to start boiling, before the peanut butter has become runny.

While the peanut butter & golden syrup are melting: In a large bowl, roughly combine the muesli, ground flaxseeds and mixed spice.

Whisk the eggs: Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk together. 

Mix all the ingredients: Once melted, pour the peanut butter and golden syrup into the muesli. Add the whisked egg and then, using a spoon, mix all the ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined and gloriously sticky.

Get the bars ready for baking: Spoon the muesli mixture into the prepared baking tin and press it down firmly – I find it easiest to do this with the back of a wet spoon. Scatter the pepitas or almonds over the top, squashing them down slightly into the muesli mixture.

Bake the muesli bars: Cook for 30 – 35 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack until they are completely cooled. Cut into 16 squares using a sharp knife and enjoy. 

Store the cooked muesli bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze them individually. 

Cooking Notes

Pepitas are dried pumpkin seeds. While you can find them un-hulled, salted and / or roasted, I always buy the raw hulled seeds. These are green and flat-ish in shape. Pepitas can be found in some supermarkets and all health food shops.

There are lots of ways to vary these muesli bars and make them your own. You could use different muesli blends, or make up your own muesli from rolled oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. One of my favourite combinations is dried fig and ginger. I make this with a combination of oats, walnuts, chopped dried figs, together with ground ginger and chunks of crystallised ginger.

Nutrition Notes

  • Can be made gluten free by using a gluten free muesli.
  • Suitable for vegetarians.
  • Lactose free.
  • Can be made low salt, as long as you use a no added salt peanut butter.

Have you ever made your own muesli bars?