XinXim (de Galinha)

Brazil is infamous for three things: Football, Carnival and Cuisine. I forgave them for their disappointing yet memorable defeat at the World Cup when I discovered their champion dish whilst dining in Las Iguanas during the football season.  Apparently one of Pele’s favourite dishes, Xinxim is a chicken stew which captures all that Brazil represents: a blend of  Portuguese, African and native Latin American Indian flavours. The marinated pieces of chicken are quickly browned and then cooked in this marvellously delicious thick rich sauce which is a combination of nuts and one key ingredient: Palm Oil.

Palm ‘fruit’ oil (as opposed to palm kernel which does not carry the same health benefits) is now sold in most supermarkets, and is commonly used in West African recipes from what I have tasted. I was surprised to find its distinguishing rusty red colour and mild fruity taste makes it healthier than olive, avocado or even coconut oil. Its colour is attributed to its high carotene content, the same antioxidant that gives tomatoes and carrots their rich red and orange colour. Palm oil is very high in vitamin E also.

My version of this recipe is made without crayfish as I don’t eat seafood, but you can still enjoy this rich stew with a side of fried plantain and rice.

XinXim

Ingredients

1 KG of Chicken thighs (de-boned and cut into medium pieces) or breast

1/3 cup palm oil

1/3 cup roasted peanuts

1/3 cup of cashew nuts

1/3 bunch chopped Coriander

1 tbsp spoon of grated ginger

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 large onion – finely chopped

1 Tbsp of lime juice

1 Can of coconut milk

1 whole scotch bonnet

salt to season

Method

1. Cut the chicken into medium chunks, clean and marinate (in a combination of lime juice, salt, black pepper, salt, dried thyme, paprika, grated onion, garlic) overnight or at least 3 hours.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the palm oil and cook the chicken pieces for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally

3. In a blender add cashew nuts, peanuts, ginger and garlic. Blend it into a rough paste and add it to the chicken with the whole scotch bonnet pepper.

4. Cook over medium heat for a further 10 minutes, if the paste gets too dry, add some water

5. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 15 min.

6. Serve with garlic and lime rice and a side of fried plantain

Nutritional value of 1 serving of XinXim

1 bowl
Calories(Calories from fat) 256
Sodium 148 mg
Total Fat 10 g
Potassium
Saturated Fat  4 g
Total Carbs
Polyunsaturated  1 g
Dietary Fibre 1 g
Monounsaturated  2 g
Sugars
Protein 29 g
Vitamin A
Calcium
Vitamin C
Iron 5%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Guyanese: Pine Tarts

A friend of mine ‘returned home’ to get married in Guyana and a couple of our mutual friends joined her for the experience. For most of them, this was their first trip to Guyana; although of Caribbean descent themselves, I had to admit I was slightly nervous for them as Guyana is a very different experience to say Jamaica and Trinidad and so I was interested to hear their take on the country, especially as I hadn’t seen the country for over 10 years myself.

They all came back smiling I am pleased to say, not only for our friend whose wedding was beautiful and heart warming, but also for the love of the country. “Those Pine Tarts were so amazing!” recalled one of my friends, also the Chief Bridesmaid at the wedding. “And although I don’t eat a lot of meat, I really enjoyed the pepperpot stew”.

I was curious to hear how much Guyana had really developed since I last visited. When I was there, it felt very rural yet lively with friendly, approachable people and social events that brought out the whole community. But those Pine Tarts, yes I had to agree, are pretty good. My mother use to make these during the summer holidays once the school term was done and would sometimes pack them into our bags for summer play-scheme.

Pine tarts a very easy to make with either fresh or canned pineapple. The sweet pastry really holds the filling together and tastes just as good as the jam inside. So if you have time during the summer holidays, I would recommend setting aside an hour or two to make some of these tarts for the family. You won’t regret it.

Guyanese: Pine Tarts

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients: 

For the Pineapple Filling

425g Pineapple Chunks (or fresh pineapple chunks)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

For the Pastry

1/2 cup salted butter (soft)

1/2 cup of vegetable shortening

2 3/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg (egg wash)

3/4 cup ice cold water

Method

The filling

1. If you are using fresh pineapple, then peel and cut the pineapple into large chunks and transfer into a food blender, pulsate for a minute until you have small lumps. You want to then measure out 2 1/2 cups of pineapple from that to use in the filling.

2. If using pineapple from a can, take the fruit and half of the juice and pulsate in the blender until you have small lumps.

3. Place the fruit into a sauce pan with the remaining juice and the spices and sugar. Simmer slowly for 30 mins under a low to medium heat or until the mixture thickens to a jam like consistency. Keep stirring regularly to avoid it burning. When ready, remove from the heat and set aside to cool down completely.

The dough

4. Place the flour, butter, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix together until it forms a crumbly texture. Then little by little, add the cold water until you can form a dough. Knead the dough to a  smooth log (about a foot long), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for between 30 minutes and 4 hours before use. When you are ready to use it, leave the dough out the fridge for about 30 minutes to get to room temperature.

The assembly

5. Cut the log into 1 inch thick rounds, flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a 6″ circle (I used a plate).

6. Place 1 1/2 tablespoon of pineapple filling into the middle of the circle and brush the edges with egg wash.

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7. Fold the corners of the dough into the middle, to form a triangle. ensure the ends are sealed, you can use a fork to do this.

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8. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

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9. Bake in the oven (Gas Mark 5) for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

10. Serve hot or cold.

Spiced Walnut Butter

 

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If your anything like me, walnuts haven’t rated too highly on my ‘nut list’ either. But did you know that walnuts have the highest amount of omega 3- fatty acid of any nut? In other words it’s the all round hair, skin and nail food. Now does it sound a bit more appealing? Ok well I tried.

I still believe the walnut has the right to be released from the prison of banana breads and festive nut trail mixes; it has a hugely bold even bitter flavour, I agree, but when combined with sweet cinnamon and nutmeg, it seems to mellow down to a smooth pecan like taste. I say make the most of that trail mix and create the most irresistible butter you would have ever tasted. I’ve been enjoying it all week and feeling good!

This recipe can keep for up to 2 weeks if stored in an air tight glass jar in the fridge. This recipe makes just over a cup of walnut butter. Enjoy!

 

Spiced Walnut Butter

Ingredients

3 cups of raw walnuts
pinch of salt
40 mls Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2-3 tsp liquid coconut oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (350F). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Watch them carefully as you don’t want them to go brown. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, place the other ingredients and add the walnuts. Blend on a high speed until you have the consistency you want: crunchy or smooth butter. Taste the mixture and add more syrup or spice if desired.

Serve with warm toast or bagels.

Nutritional value of Spiced Walnut Butter.

Spiced Walnut Butter(2 tbsp)
Calories(Calories from fat) 258
Sodium 2 g
Total Fat 19 g
Potassium 42.8 mg
Saturated Fat 2 g
Total Carbs 17.4 g
Polyunsaturated 2 g
Dietary Fibre 3.2 g
Monounsaturated 3 g
Sugars 11.9 g
Protein 5 g
Zinc 5.5%
Calcium 4.8%
Manganese 33%
Iron 5% 9.3%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Vanilla Cardamom infused Mango w/ Honeyed Greek Yoghurt

 

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Greek Yoghurt has become my new obsession, especially now that I appreciate its health benefits a bit more. I have always been a lover of yoghurts: my family of 6 was split cleanly down the middle; 3 gulped it down by the gallons, the others couldn’t care less.

I experimented with soya yoghurts and even coconut ones for a while, the latter tasting mega delicious, but at £3 a small pot I couldn’t sustain it for too long. Maybe I’ll experiment a little with making my own…who knows. But in the meantime, this recipe works just fine. If you want to preserve some of the nutrition from the mangoes, you might only want to poach it gently, remove the fruit and then allow the liquid to simmer to a syrup like consistency.

 

Vanilla Cardamom infused Mango w/ Honeyed Greek Yoghurt

 

Ingredients:

1 Ripe Mangoes – cut into large chunks (1 cups)

1 tbsp honey

1 Vanilla Pod

1 cup water

1 cardamom pod – crushed

 

1 cup Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp honey

 

Method

Take the yoghurt and honey, blend together and set aside or place in the fridge to keep cool.

Take the remainder of the ingredients and place them in a pot. Simmer the fruit for 8-10 minutes. You can remove the fruit after 3 minutes to allow the liquid to thicken. Once you have the desired consistency remove the cardamom pod and transfer the fruit to a bowl to cool before serving with the yoghurt.

 

Nutritional Value of Mango w/ Honeyed Greek Yoghurt

Mango Greek Yoghurt Honey(2 tbsp)
Calories(Calories from fat) 107 100 120
Sodium 3 mg 65 mg 1 mg
Total Fat
Potassium 257 mg
Saturated Fat
Total Carbs 28 g 7 g 17 g
Polyunsaturated
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Monounsaturated
Sugars 24 g 7 g 16 g
Protein 1 g 18 g
Vitamin A 25%
Calcium 2% 20%
Vitamin C 76%
Iron 5% 1%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

 

Coconut Lentils w/ Honey Roasted Salmon

 

 

It’s with sadness that I have to announce that this recipe will be the final act in the ‘Beat the Bloat’ series. It’s been really special guys, I have loved the research and creating these recipes, I have learnt so much about correct food combinations and clean eating, all without losing out on taste and all within a reasonable budget.

I am working on some other food projects even as we speak, so if you don’t hear from me in the next few days it’s because I’m planning and experimenting away! All of these recipes have many more benefits to your health and well-being more than simply getting into those pair of jeans you bought a year ago, although that has its place too!

I hope the recipes have more than just inspired you…what would be truly amazing is if you tried making one of them and really liked it –  a lot! That would bring a smile to my face, your tummy would also be happy too!

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Honey roasted salmon. I love smoked honey roasted salmon and there is always a way to artificially re-create that flavour; but I didn’t want to add too many artificial condiments to this recipe.

I love the colour and texture of this dish, it really is one for sharing. Be sure not to over cook the salmon; make it the last thing that you cook and try not to re-heat it, otherwise it tastes all chewy.

Then bask in the sunshine on your plate and enjoy a fork full of honey roasted goodness…until next time!

 

Coconut Lentils w/ Honey Roasted Salmon

Ingredients

For the Salmon:

2 Salmon fillets

Thumb size piece of fresh ginger (finely grated)

1 Tbsp Honey

Juice of half a lime

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 tbsp Soya Sauce

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 Himalayan Pink Salt

2 garlic cloves crushed

1/4 white onion (finely grated)

 

For the Lentils:

1 cup Puy Lentils

3 cups water

1 vegetable stock cube/ jelly

1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper

1/2 tbsp Curry paste

1/2 Onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 tsp tomato paste

1 tbsp of coconut cream (from a solid block) or 2 tbsp of coconut milk

Pinch of salt

2 Kaffir leaves

 

For the Roasted Vegetables:

2 Sweet Peppers (one red, yellow)

1/2 White Onion

1 garlic crushed

5 Chestnut Brown Mushrooms (cut into quarters)

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 carrot cut into chunks

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp of Olive Oil.

 

Handful of Kale (steamed)

 

Method

Preparation:

Pre-heat the Oven (Gas Mark 6)

1. Chop up the vegetables for roasting (excluding the Kale and peppers) and place them in a bowl (without the oil).

2. Prepare the marinade for the Salmon. Once you have cleaned the fish marinade it with the seasoning and transfer to the fridge.

 

Cooking:

3. Take the Lentils, water and vegetable stock and transfer to a pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for 20-5 mins until the water is reduced and the lentils are firm but cooked.

4. You may roast the sweet peppers with the other vegetables or you can do so over an open flame as I did: take each of the peppers and rest it over a open flame on the cooker, turning the pepper as the skin begins to blacken.

5. When you have finished the first pepper, transfer it to a sealed container (or bowl with a plate over it), the steam will help to soften the skin to make it easier to peel off. Do the same with the second one.

6. Now take the baking tray to roast the vegetables in, add the oil and garlic and transfer to the hot oven. Bring out the tray when the pan is heated, you should be able to add the vegetables to a sizzling pan and return it to the oven for 10 minutes. Near the end, you can add the peppers so that all the flavours from the vegetables are soaked up.

7. When the lentils are cooked, take a separate pot and fry the onions, garlic, pepper and curry paste. Then add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute.

8. Then straining the lentils but keeping the water, transfer the lentils to the pot of onions and stir adding all the lentils in and stirring completely.

9. Then add the water from the lentils and coconut milk. Season to taste and simmer for 5 minutes leaving a little sauce in the stew.

10. Take the vegetables out the oven and throw in the Salmon for 10 minutes or until the salmon is cooked.

11. To steam the Kale, simply place it on top of the lentil stew and cover with the pot cover; the steam from the lentils will cook the Kale – it should be a nice bright green and slightly firm.

 

Plate up:

12. Place the Kale on the plate first with a sprinkle of lentils, then add some of the roasted vegetables and keep layering. Then flake the Salmon on top of the plate.

Sedano al Pomodoro

 

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This has to be the first time I have given celery centre stage in a dish. Most of the time it remains well hidden in a stir-fry, rice or soup; the only indication of its presence being its strong aniseed flavour or the random in-digestible stalk that gets caught between your teeth. But with its firm crunchy texture and fine grooves along its spine, celery ought to be used a lot more like pasta as it can carry a lot of sauce on its back without wilting under the weight.

So here I have created this recipe: ‘Celery in Tomato Sauce’ basically, for the ‘Beat the Bloat’ series I’m running at the moment. All of this week I have been consuming only those recipes that I have mentioned in the series, and along with daily exercise I have to say, I feel amazing! Very refreshed and not ‘full’ to the point of wanting to sleep midday (if there’s any cause for sleep, its this beautiful hot sun we’ve been enjoying lately).

So enjoy this side dish with rice or maybe even spaghetti – the choice is yours!

 

Sedano al Pomodoro

Ingredients:

8 Celery Sticks – sliced

1 large Tomato – finely chopped

1 tbsp Tomato Paste

2 garlic cloves crushed

1/4 white onion, finely chopped

3 sprigs of fresh Thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

tbsp vegetable oil

3 Anchovy fillets (optional)

pinch of black pepper

Method:

1. Slice the celery and steam in a pot for 2 minutes or until the stalks turn bright green in colour. Then transfer the celery to an ‘ice cold bath’ of water to stop them cooking and to retain their colour.

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2. In a frying pan, fry the onion and garlic then add the anchovies and stir them in until they melt. Then add the tomato paste and fresh tomatoes.

3. Stir in the fresh thyme and then gradually add the celery stalks (drained from the water) to the saucepan, stir them in until fully drenched in the sauce. Then add salt and pepper to taste.

7 Recipes to Beat Bloating

 

 

I know I’m not the only one who has experienced the ‘bloated feeling’, when your tummy is stretched, puffy, uncomfortable and feels like a permanent rubber dingy round your waist. It often follows a big weekend of eating badly or late into the evening or some other festive occasion.

But for some people, bloating is more than an occasional inconvenience. If your stomach or tummy often feels bloated, it could be due to several things besides excessive wind and constipation.

Funny, I was always told as a child to chew my food properly and to drink peppermint tea and water, I wish I knew then what I know now that these are some of the aids to reducing bloating.

Medical advice is always advised if this appears to be your experience over a sustained period of time, but for many other people, there are moderate changes and intelligent ways we can incorporate ‘Bloat Beating’ foods into our diets and hopefully avoid the need for medical intervention.

This week I will be sharing with you 7 recipes that combine some of the many foods that help reduce bloating. Feel free to share your reviews and tips as I would gladly welcome them!

 

Breakfast:

  • Lemon Aid

Warm lemon or lime water is not only a good defence against the common cold, it also serves as the perfect ‘good morning drink’, to flush out toxins and kick start your digestive system. Lemon water also prevents constipation and diarrhea, by ensuring smooth bowel functions.

Lemon is also a rich source of vitamin C, which enhances your beauty by rejuvenating skin from within bringing a glow to your face, and helping to prevent the formation of wrinkles and acne.

One of the major health benefits of drinking lemon water is that it paves the way for losing weight faster, thus acting as a great weight loss remedy. So before anything else enters your system, have a tall glass of lemon/lime water every day.

 

  • Watermelon  and Bananas

All kinds of melons are beneficial to your health, but watermelon is known as one of the juiciest fruits on the stand. That’s probably because it consists of 92 percent water. It is also reported to have a natural diuretic property and is a great source of potassium.

Too high an intake of salt is one of the most common causes of water retention around the abdominal area. Foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, help combat bloating caused by salty food. When incorporating bananas into your anti-bloating diet, be sure to only eat ripe fruit — unripe bananas contain resistant starch which can cause wind and bloating.

Try the Watermelon ‘Brain Freeze’ Smoothie on the blog for a potassium rich start to the day!

 

  • Greek Yoghurt & Honey

Cultured natural yoghurt typically contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and/or Bifidobacterium bifidum (or ‘friendly bacteria’ as it’s otherwise known ). This probiotic bacteria lives in the gastrointestinal tract where they help digestion and fight the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, thereby preventing bloating. You can actually purchase Probiotic Acidophilus in a tablet form from good health shops or online; but a tasty package to enjoy this is Greek Yoghurt with Honey.

 

  • Bran Cereal and Oatmeal
Fiber helps relieve constipation, which is an all-too frequent cause of bloating. By adding bulk in the form of certain cold or hot cereals, everything moves through the intestines more quickly.  Just be certain to not add too much fiber to your diet too fast, or worsened bloating can occur.
  • Strawberries and Blueberries

Fiber also takes the form of certain delicious fruits and berries. Snacking on high-fiber foods such as strawberries and blueberries, can help clean out one’s system regularly.

Why not try the Peanut Flax Granola recipe on the blog with some of the Greek Yoghurt and berries for a perfect bloat busting breakfast! 

 

Lunch:

  •  Brown Rice

Some foods, especially certain carbohydrates, are either indigestible or only partially digested in the gut. These foods can cause gas buildup and therefore bloating. Rice however, particularly brown rice makes a good substitute for starches such potatoes. Rice is fully digested in the small intestines, giving it the least potential to form gases in the gut.

  • Turmeric Powder

You’re probably familiar with turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders. But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine. Turmeric is used for many ailments including to treat, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, heartburn and liver problems.

This week on the blog: A quick Pilau Rice recipe which combines these ingredients for an easy tasty way to a flatter stomach!

  • Rosemary and Garlic

Rosemary has been used to treat everything from heartburn and headaches to toothaches and high blood pressure. But it also treats intestinal gas and helps digestion. Garlic helps reduce the levels of fat in the liver, whose main functions include detoxification and the production of biochemicals necessary for digestion — major aspects of the prevention of bloating.

Try the garlic and rosemary infused sweet potato chips, the crispiest chips every time!

 

Dinner:

Celery:

Over the years this green crunchy stalk has been used as a digestive aid to regulate bowel movements and to control intestinal gas because its chemicals are known to decrease fluid retention. Because of its high water content with a detoxing system, this helps purge your body of toxins.

Check out this tasty celery recipe on the blog this week!

Beans and Lentils:

Most of us grew up believing beans was the source of all bloating and flatulence, but don’t be too harsh on the little gems, their high amount of fiber, are a good choice for aiding with digestion. The potassium-rich foods are also naturally high in both estrogen and protein and can relieve period-induced bloat.

Kale and Spinach
These green leaves, in addition to lettuce and chard, require ample chewing and provide a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also help with acid indigestion, constipation, and urinary tract infections.

Another healthy recipe combining these ingredients will be coming your way this week…

 

 

 

Delicious Peanut Flax Granola

Rome was not built in a day, neither was Granola, or so it seemed. The secret to good granola is to cook it slow and low!

I learn from my mistakes very quickly! The first time I made this, I put the oven on so high, the granola cooked to a crisp; rather than throw all my hard work away, I grimaced and ate the bitter cereal the rest of the week. Never again.

Top tip: after 20 minutes in the oven, take it out and turn the mixture, making sure to push the granola from the edges inward toward the middle. Then place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove and stir it one final time before returning it to the oven for the last 10 minutes: a total of 40 minutes!

Long wait but the reward is so great; your breakfasts (or even snacks) will leave you feeling so satisfied. You can thank me later…enjoy!

Peanut Flax Granola

Ingredients

* Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees

3 1/2 – 4 cups Whole rolled porridge oats

1/2 cup pecan nuts – roughly chopped

1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped

1/4 cup golden flax seeds

2 tbsp almond meal

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raisins (or your choice of dried fruit)

1/4 cup peanut butter,

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tsps vanilla extract

1 tbsp almond extract

1 tbsp cinnamon powder

Pinch of salt

Method: 

1. Combine all dry ingredients (minus the raisins and brown sugar) in a large mixing bowl

2. Combine all wet ingredients plus the brown sugar in a small sauce pan and stir occasionally until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

3. Pour hot mixture slowly over oat mixture and stir until the mixture is moist and the liquid is evenly distributed throughout.

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4. Spread mixture evenly onto heavy baking tray and place on middle rack in heated oven.

Total baking time is 40 minutes – Remove from the oven and place a clean, heavy pan on top of the granola while it’s cooling.

Now you can break apart, add to a large bowl and add the raisins or any other dried fruit. – Keep in air tight container.

Crispy Sweet Potato Chips…Every time!

I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy crispy sweet potato chips until now. Sweet Potato has a very high water content which is why it can’t naturally achieve the crispy status of a regular chip…without some help from its little friend corn starch.

The key to achieving ultimate crispiness is to eliminate moisture, so make sure you pat the potato sticks dry before adding the corn starch and seasoning and more or less toss them straight into the oven soon after that with only a drizzle of oil.

Crispy Sweet Potato Chips


Method

* Pre-heat oven to 425 F. (Gas Mark 7)

1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch sticks leaving the skin on.

2.  Soak your fries in cold water for around 45 minutes to an hour for maximum crispiness! This draws  out the excess starch from the sweet potatoes, helping them to cook all the way through better so they are crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside without burning.

3. Drain the fries and allow them to dry on kitchen towel absorbing all the excess moisture.

4. Mix together cornstarch, rosemary, garlic salt  and salt. Add the fries to the mix and  seal the container and shake!

5. Place fries on baking sheet.

6. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt

7. Spread chips out on baking tray. Make sure they are not touching to achieve ultimate crispness.

8.Bake for 15 minutes. Turn over if necessary. Bake for a further 5 minutes.

Recipe inspired by Southern Fatty