At the start of Jan I embarked on a 7-day super cleanse to rid my body of all that holiday partying. The gin, champers (even before 12pm!) trifle for breakfast and leftover gammon had my joints aching and I felt so bloated and uncomfortable that I was SO ready!
I wouldn’t recommend a super cleanse – it was tough as BALLS – but it did teach me how to pack flavour into veggies, kept me disciplined (I have to go all-in, cold turkey or nothing!) and it gave me some yummy side-dish ideas.
When you’re on a budget, you may feel that fancy dishes are out of the question but with a little meal prep and browsing Google, it’s not that far out of reach. A delicious salad dressing or fresh herbs are seriously underrated!
A lot of the ingredients can be used for two, even three dishes. And I made my own chicken stock/broth beforehand by just frying some onion and garlic with chicken pieces, carrots and celery! A tasty GMO-free broth in minutes, that can be frozen for another time. These dishes are all low carb (because bloating!) but feel free to replace the “tacos” or lettuce with a lipsmacking wrap!
I’ve had to use images from the net because
a) I am a giemba and stated eating before I took pictures
b) when I did take food pics, they weren’t nearly as beautiful as these
Here’s my Shopping List
3 chicken breasts, R22.99
Brown lentils, 500g, R16.99
Chickpea tin, R12.99 each
Sweet potatoes, R22
Green peppers, R17.99
Flaked almonds, R8.99 (small pack)
Avos, (bought 2 for R10 on the side of the road because DAMN!)
Herbs like mint, parsley and coriander (super easy to grow at home!)
Little extras you should have in your fridge or pantry already
An assortment of spices
Monday: Lentil and Vegetable Stir-fry
Image from the heathfulideas.com
1 cup Lentils
Diced sweet potato
Cook lentils for about 25 minutes, strain then set aside. Stir-fry diced sweet potato for a few minutes, then add chopped peppers and broccoli florets and cook until just tender. Combine with cooked lentils. Make a dressing made by mixing a little olive oil, 1tsp chopped ginger, and 1tsp soya sauce and drizzle over the dish. Delicious eaten hot or cold!
Optional: Sprinkle with sesame seeds. I highly recommend adding chopped cucumber, parsley and mint and cucumber, even quinoa to stretch this to two lunches!
Tuesday: Chickpea soup
Image form bonappetit.com
a can of chickpeas
1 stick celery
garlic clove, minced
ground cumin, coriander and harissa paste (I just used chilli flakes and fresh chilli instead of harissa paste because who has money for that in Jan?)
Lightly fry the chopped onion and celery in olive oil until soft. Add one crushed garlic clove, ground cumin, coriander and chopped chili then stir. Add about 500ml home-made chicken stock, 200g chopped tomatoes, 2/3 of a can of cooked chickpeas, drained (save remainder), and simmer for 20 minutes. Save half for another time. You can blitz in a blender or do what I did and only blend half so that the soup is still chunky and filling. Stir in a little Greek yoghurt to serve.
Optional: Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander, and a few roasted chickpeas.
Wednesday: Low-Carb Cheesy, Spicy Tacos
Image from wholesumyum.com
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Chicken breast (ask your butcher to mince it for you, it’s healthier than store-bought mince which has added spices, pork fat and preservatives)
salt and pepper
Not gonna lie, these shells are a biets to make so if you have a little more patience than I do, the results are crispy heavenly tacos!
Preheat the oven. On a silicone mat (so that it just doesn’t stick) lined with wax wrap, grate some cheese (1/4 cup each) into little piles. You can grate this cheese into a mould so that it comes out in perfect circle but it’s not essential. Press down lightly and place into the oven . Bake until golden brown and crispy on the sides, roughly 7 minutes. In the meantime, fry an onion in some olive oil until brown and add minced garlic. Add the chicken mince and chopped fresh chilli and fry until done. Season to taste. Take the cheese out of the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two. It should be firm enough to lift easily but still able to form a curve. Place the cheese over a ladle mounted on two cups. Let the cheese cool completely then remove.
Smash an avo and add the both the chicken mince and avo to your “tacos”.
Optional: Add a few lashings of sour cream and finely chopped cherry tomatoes.
Image for damndelcious.net
What you’ll need
Baby lettuce cups
Tear off the lettuce into little “cups”. You can stuff the leftover mince from your tacos into each lettuce cup and add some fresh coriander and a little soy mixed with honey. Or, make your own pesto! Simple pop a handful of fresh basil, flaked almonds, 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and one clove of garlic into a blender and voila! You can add a teensy amount of water to the blender if needed. Mix the pesto with your chicken mince and place into lettuce cups. Crunchy and delicious, you can have as many as you want!
Optional: Top with dried cranberries for a bit of sweetness.
Friday: Crispy Crumbed Chicken Breasts and golden sweet potato fries
Image from paleorunningmomma.com
¾ cup cassava flour (or regular flour if you’re not about that low carb life!
¼ coconut flour
onion or garlic powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika (this adds such a bacon-y taste)
salt and pepper
In a bowl mix your cassava flour and coconut flour, salt and spices., In another bowl whisk and egg. Dip your chicken breast as is or cut into strips into the egg and then your flour mixture.
Heat some olive oil in a large pan and cook the chicken until crispy and golden brown on each side. Season to taste and serve with your favourite dip.
For the sweet potatoes, cut into “chips” and a little tip I learned from Nigella so that they’re soft and fluffy on the inside yet crispy on the outside is to start them off in cold oil on the stove. Add garlic and dried rosemary or thyme for a delicious flavour. You can also add dried rosemary or thyme to the chicken crumb mixture before frying. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
I have added a few more ideas for next week
- Spiralled zucchini “noodles” mixed with thai/basil pesto and spinkled with parmesan and flaked almonds
- Cashew nut chicken
- Jamaican jerk pulled chicken with steamy buns. For the buns, mix a 500g pack of self-raising flour with one can coconut milk and salt. Blend then place into cupcake moulds over a bamboo steamer. Mix all spice, garlic, 3cm ginger, spring onions, coriander, honey, lemon juice and half a chilli in a blender. Cook chicken as you normally would, shred and add the mixture just before your chicken is cooked. Stuff into the steamy buns. Yum!
- ‘Breakfast’ stack – burger patti, topped with poached egg and smashed avo
- Honey and lime prawns with sweet potato fries.