I borrowed copy of Ready, Steady Glow from my local library last year in a last-ditch attempt to get some extra veg and healthy food in my diet before winter started wreaking havoc to my immune system. I love cooking, especially since moving into my own place a few years ago and getting a kitchen space all of my own; but healthy cooking hasn’t really been my strong point. I’m definitely more of a baker and love nothing more than spending an afternoon trying out a calorific cake recipe. Munching on lettuce leaves and trying to make healthy choices taste delicious just seemed like a lot of hard work, but with the pounds piling on, and my skin requiring a much needed pick-me-up, I thought it couldn’t hurt to have a go at some healthier meals to balance things out.
The book certainly looked pretty. The photography is fresh and attractive and makes Madeleine’s recipes look enticing, which was a good start for a health food cynic like me. However, the introduction almost put me off. In a section about not feeling embarrassed about making healthy choices (i.e. picking a salad rather than a burger when out with friends – who does that anyway?), Miss Shaw tells us ‘Don’t worry about what others think; they’re whining because they feel bad about their food choices.’ So far, so smug. I was almost put off, but was quickly assured that the odd naughty meal isn’t the end of the world as we can climb back on the healthy eating wagon and keep going.
Anyway, on to the food. This is why I had borrowed the book, after all. I’m not going to lie – IT WAS ALL DELICIOUS. I haven’t made every single thing in the book, of course; my aversions to bananas has seen to that. But I’ve tried a good 10 or so recipes already and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed them all, with a few becoming regular dishes at home. The mantra ‘cook once, eat twice’ is the book’s philosophy, and I embraced it wholeheartedly, meaning that I usually had a tasty lunch from my leftovers of the night before – win! Here are a few of my favourites:
- Sticky Asian prawns with quinoa and peanuts. Quick, delicious and easy to make – this bloat-free stirfry is one of my favourites now, and doesn’t need many ingredients once you start filling your storecupboard with healthy coconut oil, sesame oil, and honey.
- Chicken and olive tagine with cauliflower and date couscous. My absolute favourite thing from the book. I love Morroccan food, having visited Marrakech twice, and I’ve always wanted to make something resembling a tagine. The cauliflower and date couscous was a revelation too. I’d never even tasted a cauliflower before picking up this book, and this way of cooking them is quick and surprisingly filling. I’ve made this loads of times already and it’s perfect in a Tupperware for reheating the next day – I think it tastes even better once all of the flavours have soaked in overnight.
- Fig granola bars. OK, I cheated a little with these as I couldn’t for the life of me find dried figs anywhere (and I live near three different supermarkets). But Madeleine reassures us that we can use raisins instead, which is cheaper anyway, so that’s what I did. The recipe makes loads of bars, which my other half likes for breakfast on the go instead of his regular flapjack bars, so this is a great batch recipe. I love these with a cup of tea (slapped wrist for me – I’m sure caffeine is frowned upon but I’m eating granola bars instead of cake, so cut me some slack).
I loved the book so much that I asked for it for Christmas and since then I’ve made loads more including chickpea curry, chicken cashew stirfry and whole apricot-glazed chicken. The book is currently on sale for a fiver at A Great Read, so I recommend snapping it up while it’s on offer. Several of the recipes use similar base ingredients such as coconut oil, dried herbs and spices, sesame oil and honey, so once you have stocked up your store cupboard, most recipes become pretty inexpensive.
Last week I was lucky enough to grab a ticket to meet Madeleine at a hump day event at Twitter HQ, where she took a group of us through a short yoga class, gave us a gorgeous goody bag, and then fed us a lovely lunch of sweet potato wedges and a delicious slaw from her upcoming book, A Year of Beautiful Eating, which I will definitely be buying. Madeleine was lovely and she was kind enough to sign a copy of her other book, Get the Glow, which came as part of my goody bag. I came away feeling totally relaxed and recharged and ready to try out a stack of new delicious recipes.
Thank you Madeleine – this healthy food averse blogger is converted!