Review: Good Clean Food by Lily Kunin

Good Clean Food front cover for review

I’m not a huge fan of the concept of ‘clean food’. I’m not gluten-free or dairy-free, and I am sceptical about claims made for the latest trendy ingredients and new diets. I eat meat, fish AND (horrors) sugar, and I am very partial to a piece of home-baked cake (as you know, from all my cake recipes!). So maybe I’m not the best person in the world to be reviewing this book, by Lily Kunin, blogger at Clean Food Dirty City.

On the other hand, I am a big fan of real food (by which I mean unprocessed food without loads of added extras), interesting tasty ingredients, well-written recipes, and meal ideas that put the focus fully on delicious veg, fruit, nuts and seeds, which I am very happy to eat a lot more of. It’s for that reason that I’m really glad that Good Clean Food (published by Abrams) has come into my life, because it ticks all those boxes.

The photography, by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls, makes everything look incredibly appetizing, as does the styling by Carol Cotner Thompson, as you can see:

Good Clean Food review dip

All the recipes I have made and eaten from the book so far have been delicious and have worked really well, something that I appreciate very much – so many recipe books I have used in recent years seem really under-tested.

Good Clean Food review Med feast

It’s thanks to Kunin that I have finally conquered the holy grail of falafel that don’t disintegrate or taste like chick-pea mush. I’ve made her recipe twice now, and been delighted with the results. The measurements in the all instructions, where applicable, are given in grams and cups, so it’s really hard to mess up the quantities. There’s great ideas for combining different elements to create feasts like the Mediterranean Mezze above. I made falafel with salads this weekend for friends and they were highly enthusiastic.

The concept of ‘Bowls’ seems to be super-trendy just now, so we, contrary as ever, served Kunin’s ‘Power Bowl’ recipe on plates earlier in the week. I haven’t done a taste-test of salad in bowl versus salad on plate, but I imagine it tastes as good either way.

Good Clean Food review Power Bowl

In her intro to the recipe Kunin talks about wanting to create a bowl that’s bursting with flavour, and this yummy combination of veg, beans and grains with a delicious cashew-nut dressing really does just that. It’s very filling, and because crunching through the veg takes a bit of time, if you are trying to lose weight, it’s a very satisfying eating experience too.

Good Clean Food review Winter Bowl
We haven’t tried this one yet, but looking forward to giving it a go – the balance of flavours and textures is just the kind of thing I like.

Good Clean Food review chilli

The chilli recipe looks fabulous, as you can see, but the recipe I really wanted to try, as soon as I saw it, was Lentil Tacos with Simple Slaw and Corn Avocado Salsa. It sounded perfect for a fun, tasty meal, to enjoy with friends, using the kind of healthy, spicy food I love to eat. It really didn’t disappoint… I could eat the Salsa on it’s own, it’s so delicious – here’s my version.

Good Clean Food recipe sweetcorn and avocado salsa

It’s so quick to make – just combining some fresh sweetcorn, chopped avocado, red onion, coriander (cilantro) and lime juice. Mmmmm. The whole combination of lentils, salsa and slaw is a crunchy, tasty feast. My friends loved that too!

I confess, although I am glad to know about the nutritional value of the ingredients used, I haven’t read much of the theory behind why some recipes/ingredients fit, for example, into the ‘detox’ category and others in the ‘nourish’ category. I’m only really interested in the quality of the recipes, and, slightly in spite of myself, I am really impressed. So, I’d say, if you are interested in new, very tasty, ways of getting more fruit and veg into your diet, or if you are a vegan or veggie, I’d recommend this book with enthusiasm.

 

Recipe: No-bake Easter Crunch Cake

Easter Chocolate Crunch Cake no-bake

A super-fast recipe just in case you don’t have enough chocolate in your life this weekend. Fun to make with kids too. If you want to make it gluten-free then you can use gluten-free digestives – they work really well.

Easter Crunch Cake no-bake

Easter Crunch Cake

Ingredients

  • 200g 70% chocolate
  • 100g butter
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 200g mini eggs
  • 50g dried cherries (optional)

Directions

  1. Line a 20cm x 20cm (8inch) baking tray (I use one with a loose bottom which is really helpful when getting the cake out of the tin) with foil or baking parchment – the liner needs to come up the sides of the tin.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put into a heatproof bowl with the butter. Put the bowl over a pan of water on a very low simmer and stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth a glossy. Take the bowl off the pan and leave to cool for a minute or two.
  3. Put the biscuits in a large bowl and smash them up, using the end of a rolling pin. Alternatively put the biscuits in a strong polythene bag, tie closed and bash with a rolling pin. Don’t reduce the biscuits to crumbs, you need smaller and larger pieces.
  4. Stir the syrup and cocoa powder into the melted chocolate, along with the broken biscuits and the 3/4 of the mini eggs and the cherries (if using).
  5. Put the mixture into your prepared baking tray and press down. Sprinkle the remaining mini-eggs over the cake and press them down a little.
  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then cut into 12-16 pieces. You will need a very sharp knife, so watch your fingers.
  7. This will keep for up to a week in an airtight tin. I tend to keep it in the fridge so it stays fairly firm.

Happy Easter to you all!

Recipe: Oat Bran Buns

This is one of those happenstance baking recipes that worked out really well. I often fiddle around with bread and cake recipes, trying to add more nutrition or use up ingredients that I bought for something else that didn’t work out. So, this time round, I had oat bran in the cupboard, and remembered how delicious the rolled oats are in my Sticky Oat and Currant Buns, so thought I would try some everyday buns for sandwiches etc. using the oat bran.

Oat bran buns header

Oat bran is one of those foods where the rather dull appearance belies the great nutritional value it has – it reduces bad cholesterol, the risk of coronary heart disease and some studies say it reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes because of its calming influence on your blood sugar levels. It’s a great source of dietary fibre, contains protein, and has the effect of making you feel fuller, for longer, if you are trying to lose weight. The bran gives these buns and slightly sweet, nutty flavour which we all enjoy, so it’s a really easy way to add oat bran to our diet.

Oatbran buns recipe

I use Dan Lepard’s intermittent method of kneading bread dough (outlined in the recipe) – feel free to ignore and just knead in your usual way (or in a stand mixer) if you prefer. I also boil the milk and let it cool, rather than just bring it up to the right blood heat temperature – again, I follow the Lepard advice here, which says that boiling the milk (to destroy a particular enzyme in they whey protein) produces a lighter crumb. Again, feel free to go your own way – and of course you can use a non-dairy milk and not have to worry about this at all!

Oat Bran Buns

  • Servings: makes 12 buns
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 400g whole milk/non-dairy alternative weighed directly into a saucepan
  • 100g oat bran
  • 450g strong breadmaking flour (I use a combination of 250g wholemeal and 200g white, anything works!)
  • 50g olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp fast action yeast (if you want to use fresh, you need about 10g – dissolve it in the milk when it is at blood heat).
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil for kneading

Method

  1. Bring the whole milk to the boil and then leave to cool until just at blood heat (you can put the pan into cold water to speed this process up). If you are using non-dairy milk, just warm it to blood heat.
  2. Measure the oat bran, flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl.
  3. When the milk is cool enough, add it to the flour/bran mix, along with the oil, and stir the ingredients together (I find a knife works really well, or you can just go in with your hands), until combined. If the dough seems a bit dry and crumbly, feel free to add an extra tablespoon of liquid – wet dough is ALWAYS better than dry. Cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  4. Put a little oil on your work surface, turn the dough out onto the surface and knead for about 10 seconds. Put the bowl over the dough and leave for another 10 minutes. Knead again, then leave for another 10 minutes. Knead briefly again, then leave the dough in the bowl, with a damp cloth over the bowl, until it has doubled in size. In my always-chilly kitchen, this took another hour – but check after 30 minutes if you have a nice warm kitchen!
  5. Divide the dough into 12 pieces (about 80g each) and shape into buns. Put the buns onto a baking tray lined with baking paper/parchment, then cover and leave the buns to rise for 30 minutes or more. My usual method for this is to put the entire tray into a large carrier bag, and fold it closed, making sure the bag doesn’t touch the buns, but you could use a floured tea-towel or your own preferred proving method.
  6. Switch on your oven to pre-heat to 220C/Gas 7 part way through the second rise. The buns are ready to bake when they have risen appreciably and have batched (i.e. they will be touching each other on the baking tray – unless you have an enormous oven and baking tray of course!). To tell if they are really ready, poke one of the buns very very gently with the tip of your finger, if the little indentation stays, then the yeast is slowing down, and the buns are ready to bake – if the indentation springs back up quite rapidly, you can leave the buns for a bit longer. Don’t be tempted to rush this phase, if they are not risen properly, the buns will be leaden!
  7. Bake for 5 minutes at 220C, then turn your oven down to 200C and bake for another 10-12 minutes. If you feel that the buns are getting a little over-brown, you can rest a piece of foil gently on top of them.

Oatbran buns recipe close up

Hope you enjoy these!

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