Most of us start our day with coffee and a commute; Finn starts hers with surfing. With her twin passions of food and the sea, Finn’s philosophy is that as long as she is never far from either, it’s been a good day at the office!
Having grown-up on the wave-less east coast of Ireland, with only boys for company on my surfing jaunts to the Atlantic, I was lucky to meet a group of like-minded surfer girls in my college year. Over the last eight years we’ve surfed together in North America, Portugal and all around the Irish coast. We’ve learned to dive, free-dive and duck dive – maybe someday we’ll even try a sky dive.
While I still have flashbacks to the ‘hotdog Bolognese’ we ate when were particularly skint on a trip to Peniche, we’ve since realised how what we feed our bodies affects our performance in the water. Here you’ll find two of my absolute favourite recipes from my new cookbook Finn’s World.
The Buckwheat Date Chocolate Heaven Granola tastes like Coco Pops and is perfect to keep you going for a long morning session, with lots of slow-release carbs. To float a little lighter in the water try serving it with coconut yogurt, as dairy can be harder to digest if you’re hopping straight into the sea.
The Siren Sea Spaghetti is something the girls and I prepped when we did our free-diving course. It’s brilliant after you’ve been in the water all day and need to whip up something quickly using the basic equipment to hand in a hostel kitchen. The protein in the salmon helps your muscles repair after a hard workout. You’ll also feel like a bit of a mermaid serving up sea spaghetti!
Buckwheat Date Chocolate Heaven Granola
I am a complete granola snob or, probably more accurately, a grump. When I pick up a pack of granola in the shop – especially the fancy-looking ones – I’m downright miffed. It’s basically a tiny box of s grains mixed with a shed-load of sugar and a few sad-looking raisins. Not so with this delicious chocolaty version. Good friends who’ve gone home with bags of it call it ‘Finn’s Healthy Coco Pops’!
MAKES ONE 2-LITRE JAR
- ½ cup (120ml) coconut oil melted, or sunflower oil
- ½ cup (120ml) date syrup
- 3 cups (500g) toasted buckwheat
- 1 cup (100g) GF (gluten-free) oats (leave out if you can’t have oats and add an extra cup of buckwheat instead)
- 1 cup (140g) sunflower seeds
- ½ cup (70g) hazelnuts
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ cup (80g) raisins
- Preheat your oven to 160°C.
- Mix the coconut oil and date syrup in a small jug. Lash all the dry ingredients into a bowl except the raisins (as they go all weird and burnt in the oven). Pour the oil and syrup over the dry mix. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and spread the granola mix out evenly on it.
- Bake for up to 25 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes to ensure even browning. The longer you cook it, the crunchier it will be. Some people like it extra crunchy, but I prefer the chewiness when taken out after around 15–20 minutes. Add the raisins, stir through and allow to cool before storing.
Delish by the handful. Also perfect over stewed fruit and Greek yogurt, or served simply with milk.
Siren Sea Spaghetti
This is one of my specialties – it’s simple and earns you some serious foodie credit. The secret is my favourite ingredient – sea spaghetti. This stuff is the pasta bomb. Forget messing with spiralizers, this is GF, insanely low carb and, best of all, it actually has the consistency of pasta – kind of like the durum wheat variety – and it’s packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Hello, lovely skin!
For absolute knock-your-socks-off taste, use freshly made vegan almond pesto (recipe in the Finn’s World cookbook); but in a pinch, a nice store-bought pesto does the job. I hate the phrase, but this is a fantastic ‘free from’ meal if you’re feeding any folks with food intolerances. It’s dairy and gluten free, and can also be made paleo/vegan friendly if you ditch the regular pasta or salmon and just use the sea spaghetti.
I served this up to my surf girls on a recent free-diving trip and they were very amused that we were eating what we’d just been swimming in.
SERVES 5 – OR 4 HUNGRY FOLK JUST OFF THE BEACH
- 100g sea spaghetti – from a health food store, or, if you’re an experienced forager you can also get it yourself (the spring growth only needs 1/3 the cooking time)
- 125g gluten-free spaghetti – corn-based varieties hold their shape best
- 400g smoked salmon
- ½ quantity Vegan Almond Pesto (recipe in Finn’s World cookbook) or 1 whole jar (190g) store-bought green pesto
Plate up the spaghetti mix and top with the salmon and pesto. Add a little sprig of fresh basil if you’re feeling fancy. A super-quick meal that looks snazzy, is low in carbs and has lots of healthy fats and proteins. Nothing fishy about that! When I make this recipe with a store-bought pesto I add a few handfuls of baby leaf spinach in with the salmon and pesto for some added greens.
- Soak the sea spaghetti in water just off the boil for 5 minutes’ – this gets rid of that overly seaweedy smell. Then drain, add fresh boiled water and simmer as you would regular spaghetti for 9–12 minutes until al dente.
- In another pot of boiling water, add the regular spaghetti and a little salt. I like to keep the two spaghettis separate in case one of them takes a little longer to cook. GF pastas can vary greatly in cooking times!
- While your spaghetti is bubbling away, chop your smoked salmon into thin strips. I prefer to use smoked salmon, not salmon darnes, as someone else has already done most of the slicing. Smoked salmon also has more flavour, but this can mean it’s fairly salty – so if you’re watching your salt intake, don’t season with salt or use the salmon darnes instead.
- Put a big pan on a medium-high heat and add a little of the oil from the pesto (it separates a bit in the jar). When the pan is hot, lash in the salmon and the pesto. When the salmon changes from dark pink to a light pink, it’s cooked. It only takes 2–3 minutes!
- Now check the spaghetti pots and, if you’re happy – mine need to have a little bit of bite – put the two together in one colander and rinse under the hot tap or by pouring boiling water over it (this removes any starch). Add a wee splash of olive oil and mix around to stop them sticking together.