Sunday 17 March 2013

Resisting the inner fat kid: Roasted Kumara and Almond Salad with Feta and Chickpeas

I have an inner fat kid.

Much like the proverbial angel/devil on one's shoulder, my inner fat kid whispers delicious nothings in my ear:  Go on, eat that whole family sized block of chocolate, you know you want to...

And from time to time, I succumb to its urgings.  Yes, I ate that whole bar of Whittakers Hokey Pokey Chocolate. On my lonesome.  For breakfast. 

What's more, I've found the more you feed the fat kid, the stronger they get.

Like when my two besties came down for a girly catch up weekend a couple weeks back.  It was a glorious weekend of gossip and giggles, wine and cheese and chocolate and churros.  An epic eat-a-thon weekend.

{harbourside markets, wellington, nz}

But, alas when one is knock, knock, knocking on 30s door, one finds that for every binge, there needs to be an equal and opposite detox.  So the plan was to atone my eating sins with exercise and healthy food for a few weeks. 

It was super hard.  Inner fat kid was not happy.  Inner fat kid resisted.  There was a lag period, a struggle for dominance, a battle of the wits with the casualties being a whole pack of hokey pokey flavoured marshmallow easter eggs, another whole packet of pineapple lump easter eggs, half a block of blue cheese, lots of ice cream and half a block of black forest chocolate.  Junk food: why you so tasty??

But eventually I triumphed, with the help of some delish salads like this Roasted Kumara and Almond Salad with Feta and Chickpeas.

The trouble with junk food is that it's so delicious and tempting.  So the trick is to make healthy food just as delicious and tempting.  I'm not going to pretend I find it easy coz I definitely struggle (have had a gnawing fried chicken craving since forever) but this salad is a rare kind of salad: it is actually filling, actually yum to eat, and still good for you.

Hits just the spot to keep those cravings at bay.  For now...

Roasted Kumara and Almond Salad with Feta and Chickpeas

serves 4-6

4 - 5 medium sized kumara aka sweet potatoes. (Also really good with pumpkin)
1 cup raw almonds
8 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil + extra olive oil to dress
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped.
2 cans chickpeas drained (or you can use israeli couscous)
2 cups dried penne (optional - will bulk it out heaps so add in if you are feeding a crowd!)
200g feta, (light if you can get it) crumbled
300g baby spinach leaves
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to season

1. Preheat your oven to 200oC.  Wash the kumara, and chop into roughly 2cm dice, leave the skin on for maximum vitamins.  Skin the garlic cloves but leave whole.  Add to a large baking dish with kumara and toss the kumara and garlic with rosemary, almonds and 3 Tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for around 30-40 minutes until softened, stirring at half time.

2. With around 10 minutes to go for roasting the kumara, bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil.  Add the penne and cook to the pack instructions, which is usually about 10 minutes.  At the 5 minute point add the drained chickpeas to the pasta and boil for 5 minutes to heat through.  Drain the pasta and chickpeas.

2. You can let the roasted kumara cool or serve it warm.  Just toss through the penne, chickpeas, baby spinach leaves, feta, lemon juice and zest and extra olive oil to dress just before serving.  Adjust the seasoning to your taste and enjoy the goodness.  It tastes even better the next day!


  1. I was just having a conversation with a co-worker about this sort of thing - we said giving in to chips or cakes occasionally is okay because we eat soooo healthy, all our vegetables and salads! in fact, more than okay, perhaps a necessity.
    this is my kind of dish - colourful and healthy, and i love the ease of roasting. the almonds would stand in well for my junk-food downfall, potato chips. I love their crunchy saltiness.

  2. "the more you feed the fat kid, the stronger they get" Ahhh I can sympathise that so much ahaha. The only thing that can make salad bearable for me is to put sweet potato and feta too! With heaps of avocado too of course...



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