Roasted Red Pepper Houmous

I’ve been busy…

Last week it was my birthday, and on my birthday boxing-day I immediately jetted off to the Cannes Film Festival. This basically involves a long weekend of massive over-indulgence. The first glass of rose tends to come out at midday on the dot, and then the steak and wine keep flowing until the sun rises the next day. My poor body is in turmoil. On my last full day, I sought out a healthier option and found the most incredible quinoa salad at Mocca (a cafe opposite the Palais in the centre of Cannes). It was a delicious light option to counteract the abuse I’d been doing to my body until 5am the night before.

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I returned to England on Monday, and by God have you guys had the weather! Cannes was alright, but London was steamy! I made my classic avocado-heaped wet salad for dinner and begun the slow process of returning to normality. After a whole day spent in bed yesterday (yes, it was completely necessary), I jumped up this morning in the mood for some home-cooking. 

I’ve been wanting to make my own houmous for some time now, inspired by one of my favourite health-food blogs, Deliciously Ella. She has a wonderful recipe for normal houmous, and for red pepper houmous, and I made a version of the latter today. It turned out absolutely spectacularly, and I would encourage everyone to get on and make it! Like with soups, things that involve blenders are much easier than we realise. Just get your hands on a blender and start puree-ing food. Make like a baby, and eat smush!

Here is my slightly adapted version of Ella’s Red Pepper houmous.          

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Ingredients

1 and 1/2 tins of chick-peas

2 long, sweet red peppers

1/2 a chilli pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon tahini

Juice from 2 lemons

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 cup of water

a generous pinch of salt

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Cut the red pepper into slices and roast for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees C. Meanwhile, add everything else to the blender and whir it all together. When the pepper is cooked, add it to the blender and blend it all together once more. You may need to switch the blender off and stir the mixture a couple of times; You may need to add a little more water – but always be careful with the latter, as too much water will destroy the mixture. Always add very little by very little.

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Enjoy dipping healthy crudites in. “Thank you Lucy”, said my body, with a sigh.

 

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San Francisco – My healthy recommendations

I am currently in the magnificent US of A again. I can’t get enough of this country!

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Me and Helen at a particularly extravagant buffet in Dubai last year

This time I’m in California visiting a very good friend of mine. Helen and I were at school together, then both went to Cambridge before finally following each other to London post-university. We’ve followed each other around for over a decade. As a result, I found it very sad when she revealed to me last year that she was going to move to San Francisco indefinitely. I promised to visit before the year was out, and so here I am.

I have been to San Francisco many times before with my family, but always as a tourist. As a result I’ve always liked the city but never loved it, because it’s hard to really get to know a place when you’re doing all the things the locals don’t do and none of the things that they do! Within a couple of hours of landing in San Francisco this time, and trundling my suitcase from the BART station to my friend’s house, I had fallen more in love with the city than I could ever have imagined. And I love it even more now that I have a better appreciation of health and fitness, because it has got to be one of the healthiest seeming cities in America. Last time I was here I was still at university, and eating family packs of crisps as a mid-morning snack! Suddenly I’m incredibly aware of all the joggers out with their dogs, all the amazing omelette options at brunch, and all the lovely organic deli shops on every street corner! Of course it’s always easy to be unhealthy, but in this city it seems that it’s also easy to be healthy and love it.

I am now on my way to LA (healthy and unhealthy in very different ways), and then I will be moving on to Vegas on Friday (hideously unhealthy) but my short time in San Francisco over the last week has changed my opinion of the city forever. As my bus pulled out of the city over Bay Bridge, I felt incredibly sad that I would only be returning a day before flying home to England. In my brief time here with Helen, I already have a few recommendations for the healthy foodies out there who are lucky enough to live in/visit San Francisco.

1.  Judy’s on Union Street for brunch. Get one of their omelette’s – it’s basically a pile of delicious food with a lid of omelette on it – like a literal egg pie. And if you have the choice of what bread to get on the side, have their home-made pumpkin loaf. It’s melt in the mouth good.

2. Go and help yourself to a sold-by-weight salad bar at the Wildflower Cafe near the famous TransAmerica building. I met Helen for lunch one day and she took me here. I’d like to publicly apologise online to her for not engaging in any conversation properly because I was constantly making sounds of delicious approval and pointing out that the eggplant salad/chillied broccoli/green bean salad/curried chicken/vietnamese noodles/beetroot wedges were to die for. If you want to fill your plate high though, do prepare yourself for the salad to come to over $10. Absolutely worth it though.

3. If you are a porridge lover, which I am to a dangerous level, and you need some food on the go, head to Blue Fog market and get their Oh! Meal! It’s porridge cooked with honey, ginger, lemon juice and a bit of cream cheese, and it’s honestly got to be the best porridge I’ve ever tasted. Again my enjoyment of the porridge rendered me incapable of conversation with Helen as we walked back to her flat. Sprinkle complimentary granola or blueberries on top to add the final touch.

4. Make sure you check out the farmers’ market at the Ferry Building. It’s open on Sundays and Tuesdays, and you have to hunt down the man selling home-made dips – houmous, babaganoush, pesto, aubergine dip. He will continue to ply you with samples of chunks of gluten-free falafel until you prize yourself away.

That’s all from me for now. Time for a little mid-journey snack – a fresh Californian orange and a packet of addictive lime and chilli flavoured pumpkin seeds. Wherever you are in the world, enjoy the rest of your week.

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