There has been a growing backlash over the past few weeks surrounding 'wellness' bloggers and cookbooks advocating restrictive diets. I've stayed out of it on the whole, because while I do agree with a lot of what is being written, these articles are also attacking people I know personally and have a lot of respect for. The reason I'm bringing this up is because the cookbook I want to share with you today features this type of food, written by someone on a restrictive diet. However, the reason I really want to recommend teenage blogging sensation Alessandra Peter's book The Foodie Teen to you all is because it is a book that ticks all of those boxes while also genuinely being full of easy, delicious and healthy recipes, all the while accepting that diets are individual and there is no healthy one size fits all approach.
The Foodie Teen is a healthy cookbook designed for teenagers and students: people cooking for themselves for the first time. However, it is still full of so many things I want to cook and eat when I come home from work like Mexican Burgers, Meatballs in Moroccan Tomato Sauce, Honey Sesame Chicken with Baby Bok Choi and Spiked Chocolate Chilli with Coriander-Spiked Avocado.
In her introduction, Alessandra advocates fresh ingredients and from scratch cooking (which is what I am all about), as well as sourcing the best quality local ingredients you can find and afford. She has an auto-immune disease and lots of food intolerances, so the book is gluten and dairy free. She also only uses natural sugars. I found myself smiling as I sat curled up reading the introduction to her notes on Dairy, Grains and Legumes for the first time because I'd never heard a 'healthy' book point out that this approach is not for everyone before:
"Although I don't eat them myself and they're not a big part of my recipes, dairy, grains and legumes are considered to be part of a balanced diet, so feel free to include these in your meals. My way of eating might be slightly different to what works for you, but I think we can all agree that the most important things is to eat a more unprocessed, colourful and healthy diet."
The Foodie Teen is a book any of us who like to eat fresh, bright and healthy food that is quick and easy need on our bookshelf. Okay, so while Alessandra needs to eat courgetti with her meatballs, the book does not make you feel like you're letting yourself down if you make yours with good old traditional pasta. There are also some pretty great ideas in there, too. The addition of coconut milk to a classic balsamic vinaigrette dressing to keep the fridge has transformed my salads recently.
A new weeknight favourite of mine from the book that is super quick and easy to knock together when I get home is this Almond & Lemon Crusted Salmon, roasted on the same tray as some on the vine cherry tomatoes. I serve it with Alessandra's Cucumber and Red Onion Salad, with my addition of cubes of ripe avocado. Who does not need more avocado in their lives? It is literally ready in 20 minutes, and bursting with flavour.
The salad itself is great if you eat both portions yourself for a light lunch; I came to add avocado to it in the first place as I wanted to make the salad more of a meal for a mid-week lunchtime when I wanted a bowlful of something crunchy and fresh. The slightly adapted recipe below will serve two of you, but it is easily halved.
For the Salmon
- Big Handful Flaked Almonds
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- Juice of 1/4 Lemon
- Zest of 1/2 Lemon
- 1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Few sprigs of Dill
- Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Salmon Fillets
- 2 Handfuls Cherry Tomatoes, on the vine
For the Salad
- 1 Cucumber
- 1/2 Red Onion
- 2 Large Spring Onions
- 1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
- 1 Large Ripe Avocado
- Sea Salt
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (400 fahrenheit). For the salmon, roughly chop the almonds, and combine them with the mustard, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and the dill, also roughly chopped. Season well with salt and pepper, and divide the topping between the salmon fillets, pressing it gently into the salmon to form a crust. Lay the salmon out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment along with the tomatoes. Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the salad. Half the cucumber down the middle and thinly slice. Also thinly slice the red onion and spring onions, and toss everything together with the white wine vinegar and a good pinch of sea salt. Just before serving, cube and stir in the avocado.
While this recipe is made for salmon, you could also use trout, or even a chunky piece of cod. The salmon is originally served with lemony greens along with the tomatoes, so wilted spinach or greens would also be a good call. For a different cucumber salad, why not try my Cucumber, Chilli & Poppyseed Salad, or for an all in one side, my Radish, Caper & Semi-dried Tomato Salad with Homemade Lemon Garlic Dressing would go great with this.