So it’s time to talk nutrition.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start writing recipes for flourless vegan paleo radish no-cheese cheesecake.
I am, however, still concerned about what I put in my mouth and the effect it has on my mind and body. Even more so now I have two young kids. I want to set them healthy eating examples, and present a balanced relationship with food that isn’t marred by feelings of guilt, or, even, dare I say it, comfort.
I love feeling, and yes, looking, healthy. I don’t like my trousers being too tight or feeling lethargic and sluggish. I make time to run regularly (albeit not as much as I’d like) and try to walk rather than use the car as much as possible. I don’t snack between meals, enjoy fresh salads and wholegrain carbs, eat plenty of fruit and veg, and try to limit my intake of red meat to roughly once a week. And my portion sizes are modest (unless we’re talking cake that is…).
But I’m not obsessed with weight or calories (it’s taken a while to get there…), and certainly don’t follow any specific diet. I eat dessert every day (my sweet tooth is ridiculous) don’t cut out any food groups and certainly don’t label any food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Cream cakes aren’t responsible for mass genocide, and kale certainly doesn’t have any messianic properties. Only humans have a moral compass; food is neutral.
So in our home we celebrate all food in moderation. All types of food have their time and place and can be celebrated with joy.
This recipe is designed to help you do exactly that. It’s a feel good, vitamin filled, nutritionally balanced meal. Sweet potatoes are fibre packed, high in vitamin c (especially when boiled) and contain an antioxidant called beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body.
These latkes also contain carrots and onions, more wonderfully nutrient dense veggies, and the ginger and garlic add not just a touch of heat, but have age old anti-inflammatory properties.
Served alongside a poached egg, some beautifully flavoursome tahini yogurt and salad leaves, a tasty meal full of protein and fibre is created.
I’m in love with middle eastern flavours at the moment, and the mildly spiced pancakes are wonderfully complimented by the sesame rich, garlicky yogurt. I don’t think chilli is needed here as the punch comes from the raw garlic in the accompanying dressing.
I fry the latkes first, then dab off the excess oil and place in the oven to crisp up. You want to make sure the onion and sweet potato is cooked through well to ensure the sweetness and crispness of the veggies are brought to the fore.
So go and enjoy some nutrient dense food. Enjoy it, celebrate it, savour it.
And have some cake for afters.
Sweet potato latkes, poached egg and tahini yogurt (serves 4)
For the latkes
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
- 200g carrots, peeled and grated
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove
- thumb size piece of ginger
- 1 tbsp cumin (freshly toasted and ground)
- 1 tsp za’atar
- handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 3 eggs, beaten
- rapeseed oil
- 4 large eggs (for poaching)
For the yogurt dressing
- 6 tablespoons natural yogurt (full or low fat according to preference)
- handful fresh mint, finely chopped
- juice of one lemon
- one garlic clove, finely chopped and crushed with some rock salt
- one tablespoon tahini
Mix the sweet potato, onions and carrot in a bowl and squeeze out the excess liquid. Mix with the spices and coriander, and grate in the ginger and garlic. Season well, adding the flour and beaten eggs to the bowl. Mix well to combine.
Heat one tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a frying pan and add fist size mounds of the mixture to the pan (don’t crowd it). Flatten with a spatula and carefully turn when nicely browned on one side (a few minutes should do it). Once the other side is also browned, transfer to a baking sheet and cook in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the yogurty dressing. Mix all ingredients in a shallow dish and allow to mingle for approximately 20 minutes.
Put a saucepan filled with water on the hob (ensuring the water comes at least 5cm up the sides). Bring the water to a simmer and add a dash of vinegar. Crack an egg onto a dish. Create a whirlpool by stirring the water clockwise, then slip the egg in. Simmer for roughly 5 minutes, then remove the egg with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining eggs, keeping the previous eggs warm until serving.
Dress your plates with salad leaves, place a latke in the middle and carefully put your egg on top. Add the tahini yogurt as you wish, liberally dressing the salad leaves, or dolloped on top of your egg.