July 1st 2016
Nina Parker is a London based chef, culinary writer and the director of food company, NINA. Having worked in some of London’s most prestigious kitchens including L’Anima, The Dorchester and Bocca Di Lupo, Nina now splits her time between catering for private clients, running a monthly pop-up restaurant and working on her second book, NINA Capri. For Project Bikini Nina worked with nutritionist Zoe Stirling to create 36 tasty recipes that will not only nourish your body but are super easy to whip up at home.
I would describe my cooking as having a classic Mediterranean style that has an unfussy, rustic feel. I like to use a few key ingredients to create bright, modern but simple plates. When I am cooking for myself I often eat the leftovers from either recipe testing or one of my pop-up dinners. I am cooking everyday for clients so I like to keep my food as quick and simple as possible wherever I can with lots of vegetable juices, avocados, poached eggs, greens and salads. Many of the recipes designed for Project Bikini are in fact the kind of food that I eat on a day to day basis. I love healthy food but I’m also a massive dessert person and I’m passionate about creating good quality indulgent cakes too. My motto is 80% healthy and 20% fun!
Breakfast: To make me feel better about Monday morning I start with my favourite smoothie. It’s the same one that I have created for Project Bikini and is made with avocado, spinach and cashew nut butter. Perfect for breakfast as it’s really filling.
Lunch: I had an early lunch meeting so I made this quick and simple chickpea salad with lots of parsley, lemon and tomatoes.
Snack: This was quite a naughty one but the weather was good so my sister and I went to the Chelsea Physic Garden. It’s so beautiful there and the cakes are top notch. They have an ex River Cafe chef so we felt it would have been rude not to try a few of the cakes! We shared a gluten-free brownie, an orange polenta cake and some lavender scones with raspberry jam.
Dinner: I’m researching and recipe testing for my new cookbook (NINA Capri) so for dinner I had the leftovers from my pesto trapanese with brown rice pasta.
Breakfast: I’m a big muesli fan and always looking at ways to make it more interesting. I added some poppyseeds, cashew nuts, grapefruit (I'm obssed with grapefruit at the moment) and honey.
Lunch: I work at my sister and her husband’s house a lot so often we make lunch together. It's normally a case of throwing together whatever is in their fridge! Today we made courgetti and added lots of cumin, turmeric, paprika and sunflower seeds. Healthy but also pretty damn good!
Snack: A couple of pieces of 70% Lindt dark chocolate.
Dinner: For my dinner I had two poached eggs with smoked salmon on rye bread with pesto and rocket. This is from the breakfast section of Project Bikini. Many of the dishes I’ve designed are actually my staple weekly meals.
Breakfast: Juice of carrot, turmeric, apple, kiwi and fresh ginger. I like having a homemade juice at least twice a week and this is one of my all time favourites - great when you need brekkie in a hurry!
Lunch: I was prepping for my pop-up restaurant today so I ate some leftover roasted chicken that my mum had given me and threw it into a kale balsamic salad with raw cauliflower. It was actually a good quick and easy lunch that I’ll definitely be making again!
Snack: I snacked on some freshly made roast cashew tarragon pesto with some rye bread toast that I was prepping for the pop-up.
Dinner: I finally made it to Artusi in Peckham - I loved the way they had a simple menu of the day with about 10 dishes to choose from. To start I had their beautiful tomato burrito starter and for my main I had the ragu.
Breakfast: I’m a total croissant nut. This morning I bought one from Poilane - arguably they do some of the best in town! I brought it home to have with butter and apricot jam to make me feel as though I was in the south of France!
Lunch: Raw cauliflower couscous packed full of grated vegetables and herbs. This was from recipe testing for cookbook two and it’s a wonderful way of getting all of your veg for the day into one dish. You have to dress it with quite a punchy vinaigrette to carry it off.
Snack: Writing a food diary like this makes you realise how many bad snacks you have! I had a pack of Walkers extra crunchy salt and vinegar crisps. Eek! I also had a banana though too!
Dinner: At my pop-up restaurant I cook a menu that is inspired by my books so it always has a Mediterranean feel. The staff and I just ate after we had done the service - I had one of the sides which was caponata.
Breakfast: I’m usually super tired and feel pretty drained the day after my pop-up restaurant so today I made some juice shots to sort me out. I went for beetroot, carrot and ginger. I put lemon juice in the ginger one and to say it wakes you up is an understatement!
Lunch: The great thing about doing a catering job is the leftovers. I’m constantly eating what I don’t end up serving which today was lemon chicken with roast cashew tarragon pesto, roast carrots, leeks, polenta and primavera minestrone. I mean, I definitely felt spoilt!
Dinner: I went out for dinner with my nephew and buddy Phoenix to a restaurant called Palomar. We had lots of delicious modern Jerusalem sharing plates. It was out-of-this-world!
Breakfast: I had chia porridge made with almond milk and cinnamon and topped with lots of fruit.
Lunch: Today I was doing some more recipe testing for NINA Capri and had a few friends over to help with taste-testing. I made a salad of roasted courgette, ricotta and a nice cold-pressed olive oil. I think it’s going to make the cut!
Snack: A cappuccino with a banana while I was typing up recipes. Not very exciting!
Dinner: I had a dinner at mine for some American mates and I made a simple roast chicken with roasted red onions, potatoes, carrots and a tarragon dressing from my cookbook NINA St Tropez.
Breakfast: Coffee at St Clements. I highly recommend their amazing organic breakfasts which are off the chain delicious! The eggs are so bright and healthy yellow and the bacon is so yummy - you can really taste the quality.
Lunch: Today was my sister’s birthday so we had a big family lunch at hers with my wonderful Uncle who is 96 years old. I made a quiche lorraine using a spelt flour base and filled it with pancetta and leeks. I served this with a parma ham and gorgonzola salad from my parent’s local Italian shop in Maidenhead. This kind of Italian style, easy lunch is one of my favourites - it just never gets old.
Snack: I bought my sister some stunning cupcakes from Sweet Bea’s Bakery. Lucia the owner makes these beautiful rosettes by hand. I ordered carrot, chocolate, red velvet and vanilla. They were very special and also not too sweet - I highly recommend them!
Dinner: I was still totally full from lunch so I ate pretty late. I snacked on some buffalo mozzarella with basil, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh black pepper.
July 1st 2016
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