I think I have mentioned a few times that one of the things which has most helped me improve my blog (in my view at least, you may disagree), is the support and advice of a community of bloggers. Originally connecting through Facebook, many of us have now met in real life, attending events and sharing ideas.
One of those bloggers is Dannii from Hungry Healthy Happy, a blog that I followed before becoming part of the blogging community. For her the blog is a full-time job (probably more full-time than my day job is, as blogging can become all-consuming when you consider the cooking, recipe development, writing, photography, editing, social media engagement to name just a few aspects of the role), and that is reflected in the quality of her blog.
But not only does she have a blog … recently Dannii published her first book, also called Hungry Healthy Happy, and I received a copy of the book to review.
First thing’s first, I would have bought a copy of the book anyway. Like The Little Loaf’s Homemade Memories, I am a genuine fan and am delighted to support successful bloggers. But I do love a freebie, so I certainly wasn’t going to say no to receiving a copy of the book.
As you will see from Dannii’s blog, she has documented a weight loss journey which, for any of us who have ever lost weight knows, doesn’t end when you get to goal weight. She lost nearly 100lbs by eating healthily (not dieting), and exercising, and shares her menu tips in the book.
As I tend to eat healthily myself, a lot of Dannii’s tricks were things I already do, but there were a couple of recipes which particularly struck me as worth trying: the macaroni cheese, and the mediterranean cod bake.
First up was the mac and cheese, which uses cauliflower to bulk out the pasta, and greek yoghurt with cheese instead of a more traditional, buttery and floury cheese sauce. I have used a similar sauce for Jamie Oliver’s chorizo carbonara, but it hadn’t occurred to me to use it for a simpler cauliflower or macaroni cheese, so I will definitely give it a try again.
Although Dannii recommends serving the pasta hot, I had it for lunches last week and it was fine cold (one day) and reheated (when I was feeling the chill of winter).
I struggled a bit more to find recipes that Andrew would enjoy, as Dannii relies quite heavily on two ingredients which Andrew hates: cauliflower and sweet potato. I decided on the mediterranean cod, which is fresh cod fillets baked on a bed of peppers, tomatoes and olives. Dannii recommends serving the dish with garlic mash, but as that’s bulked out with cauliflower it was not an option for Andrew so I baked potatoes with it instead.
The cod recipe was really simple to make after a long day at the office, and was tasty and healthy. You simply sautee the sliced peppers and onions in some olive oil, before adding tinned tomatoes, olives and lemon juice. You could certainly adapt this part of the recipe so that it incorporates your own favourite ratatouille ingredients: next time I might use courgettes and aubergines. Personally I never pre-fry my veg – simply braise them in the tinned tomatoes, so this step is really optional as well if you want to save a few calories (although Dannii’s recipes are not about cutting calories – the focus is on healthy eating and olive oil is certainly a healthy ‘good’ fat to include in your menu).
You top the ratatouille with the cod and bake it in the oven until cooked through, and there you have your meal. I knew I would like it, but was pleased to see that it was such a big hit with Andrew as well.
There are tons of other recipes to try in Dannii’s book, including more decadent options such as hot chocolate and burgers, and plenty of avocado options should you be that way inclined (it’s not my favourite unfortunately … however much I want to love avocado I can’t get over the slimy texture).
If you don’t have the budget to splurge on Dannii’s book just yet, then please do follow her blog for some fantastic recipes, and if you ever have any comments or questions then Dannii is always very chatty on social media, so ask away!
Thanks very much to Dannii and her publishing team for a complimentary copy of the book!
And as for this week’s menu, well I am in Paris again on Monday and Tuesday, and Andrew’s family are visiting at the end of the week, so our options are looking a bit like this:
- Wednesday – fish pie
- Thursday – steamed salmon in my KitchenAid Cook Processor
- Friday – dinner with both sets of folks at Toffs fish bar in Muswell Hill
- Saturday – chicken kievs
- Sunday – beef stew with dumplings (got to make the most of the cold weather and get some dumplings in before it warms up)
I’ll also be eating my way through these Welsh-themed cupcakes, which sadly didn’t help Wales win their six nations match yesterday, much to Andrew’s disgust.