3 energising Amelia Freer recipes for a busy working week
When it comes to healthy eating, Amelia Freer knows first hand how significant the benefits can be.
After securing one of her first jobs as PA to the Prince of Wales, no less, she moved from her home in Northumberland to the bright lights of London. And it soon took its toll.
‘I just went crazy with convenience food,’ she says. And while a diet of croissants for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and ready-meal for dinner might be OK for some people, it certainly didn’t suit Amelia.
‘I started to get all sorts of health problems,’ she says. ‘I got chronic acne, I was always exhausted, I had terrible digestive issues. And so there I was, this young girl with a brilliant job but I just wasn’t vibrant or healthy at all.’
Then her flatmate at the time suggested that the root of her problems may be her diet. ‘I went to see a nutritional therapist who looked at my diet and related what I was eating to my symptoms,’ Amelia says. It was clear changes needed to be made so out went sugar and snacking, processed meals were changed for nourishing organic food and water replaced the 10 or so daily cups of tea (with sugar).
The improvement, she says, was ‘dramatic’. In fact, it completely changed her life.
‘I really believe the medical profession needs to accept that food can have a huge impact on people’s health beyond diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.
‘I’m not saying food is always the solution, but I believe it’s always worth trying,’ she says. ‘And I’m definitely a big fan of organic food. I really care about how my food is grown, where it comes from and the soil it’s grown in. Many local farms will deliver organic boxes these days.’
Chicken Za’atar Skewers
* 1kg chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
* 2 red Romano peppers, cut into chunks
* 2 courgettes, cut into chunks
* Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the marinade:
* 3tbsp za’atar
* 1tsp dried chilli flakes
* 1tbsp honey
* 2tbsp dried mint
* 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
* Zest of 1 lemon
* 2tbsp olive oil
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut each chicken thigh into 3 or 4 pieces and add to marinade. Stir well, then either leave for a few hours or keep in the fridge overnight in a ziplock bag.
Preheat the grill as hot as it goes. Thread the chicken on to metal skewers with the vegetables, then place on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Grill for 6–8 minutes each side. This will create a lot of smoke and crackles.
* 400g fresh white fish, deboned and skinned
* Juice and zest of 2 limes
* 400ml coconut milk
* 140g cucumber, deseeded and diced
* 1 mild red chilli, deseeded and diced
* 1 mild green chilli, deseeded and diced
* 2 spring onions, sliced
* Fresh coriander
* 1tsp sea salt flakes
Chop the white fish into 1cm dice and squeeze the lime juice over them. Leave in the fridge for 10 minutes (no longer), while you chop the rest of the ingredients.
Gently combine the fish and lime juice with the coconut milk and stir in the salad ingredients, saving some to garnish. Check for seasoning and add the coriander, salt or lime juice if needed.
Divide between 6 glass tumblers or small bowls.
Top with sprinkling of the salad and serve.
* 100g pumpkin seeds
* 100g fine green beans
* 300g mixed heirloom carrots
* 1 candy beetroot
* 1 golden beetroot
* 150g spinach, finely sliced
* 3 spring onions, sliced
* 1 red Romano pepper, cut into long strips
For the dressing:
* 10g ginger, peeled and grated
* 2tbsp sesame oil
* 2tsp fish sauce
* 1tsp honey
* Juice and zest of 1 lime
Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients into a jam jar and shaking vigorously.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a large, dry frying pan on a medium heat, shaking so they turn over.
They are done when they begin to puff, pop and change colour. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
Blanch the green beans in a large pan of boiling water for 2 minutes, then refresh in ice cold water.
Peel the carrots and beetroot and chop into fine julienne strips. I use a mandolin with a julienne setting, but you could try shaving off long strips with a peeler and slice these to get pretty strips.
Combine all the salad ingredients with the dressing and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top.
Cook. Nourish. Glow. Step into Summer is published as an ebook by Michael Joseph at £2.99. For more, see ameliafreer.com