Sunday 7 October 2012

Power foods #1 - spicy prawn stir-fry

This morning I decided to make the most of the autumnal sunshine and run round my local park in South East London.

You could tell there'd been a seasonal shift since my last race around the outdoor track - the air felt crisp, mist rose up from the boating lake, and the clear blue skyline was mixed with an amber hue from the trees preparing to shed their leaves. My route was dotted with spiky horse chestnuts and there were even a few bright red holly berries dotted amongst the fawn bushes.

Clearly we are now descending doggedly towards winter, which can only mean one thing...flu season isn't far away. But I'm launching a pre-emptive attack against sniffles, sore throats and fuzzy heads by packing my plate with turbo-charged "power" foods, which I recently learnt about thanks to Women's Health magazine.

According to Dr Elizabeth Somer, the nutritional properties contained in these power foods allow them to perform one or more of three useful functions: improving your mood; boosting your immune system; or increasing fat burn. Whilst I was aware of a couple of the "immunity boosters" already, I was keen to stock up on supplies from the rest of the checklist of ingredients that can keep you fighting fit both mentally and physically.

So over the next few months I hope to share with you a series of easy, speedy recipes to ensure that by the start of the festive season we are not only feeling merry, but trim and healthy too!

Spicy prawn stir-fry (serves 1)

100g frozen raw king prawns (mood improver)

45g broad beans (mood improver and fat burner)

75g broccoli (immunity booster and fat burner)

100g carrots

75g bell pepper

5g flaked almonds (mood improver and fat burner)

1 garlic clove (immunity booster)

1 small chilli pepper (immunity booster)

5g fresh ginger (immunity booster)

5g lime juice (fat burner)

10g agave syrup or honey

Groundnut oil and seasoning

Stir-frying is a rapid form of cooking, so it's important to have all of your vegetables prepared in advance.

1. Drizzle some groundnut oil into a wok, and whilst that's heating up chop the bell pepper into thick chunks, thinly slice the garlic, chilli pepper and ginger, break the broccoli into small bouquets and "turn" the carrots.

2. Once the oil begins to smoke, throw in the garlic, chilli and ginger and stir around the pan quickly. Then add in the carrot, broccoli and broad beans, and leave to cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly to prevent the vegetables from becoming over-charred.

Note: If you don't like your broad beans charred, you could boil them in salty water for 5 minutes and then add them into the stir-fried mix just before serving.

3. Once the carrots and broccoli have started to soften, add the peppers and the frozen prawns - as they cook the icy water will form a spicy liquor that stops the ingredients from sticking to the base of the wok.

4. Squeeze in the lime juice (add the zest for extra zing) plus the agave syrup and sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Stir the mixture in the wok for a couple more minutes until the prawns have turned pink and the spicy sauce has almost evaporated.

5. Check the balance of flavour in your sticky sauce, adding more lime juice or sweet syrup as required (throw in a couple of dried chilli flakes if it's not quite spicy enough). Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve alongside noodles or your favourite grain (use quinoa for an additional mood improver).


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