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Davina lays her carbs on the table; Confused about carbs? Mum-of-three Davina McCall is on a mission to help clear up the confusion - and dish up some tasty grub in the process. KEELEY BOLGER tucks in.


AFTER 15 years of marriage, Davina McCall surprised her husband Matthew by arranging to renew their vows in Las Vegas last Spring.

Romantic as it sounds, the TV presenter and fitness fanatic insists it was quite the opposite. In fact, the whole day was a family affair, with their three children - Holly, 14, Tilly, 12 and nine-year-old Chester - secretly writing the vows on the plane, and two "really great friends" who couldn't come to their wedding in 2000 joining in on the surprise.

"I said to Matthew, 'We're going to renew our vows', and his face sort of fell," Davina, 48, recalls with a laugh. "He said, 'Oh my God, that's so cheesy. No!' "I said, 'Darling, we're just going in our clothes, you don't have to change into anything, we're going to have a real laugh, the kids have written the vows', and he went, 'Actually, that's quite cute', and we all piled down to the Little White Chapel and laughed our way through our wedding vows.

"It was brilliant because it was very casual, we didn't make it into a great big thing."

After this long together, the couple have a good rhythm at home - but Davina notes that there's always room for improvement...

"It's funny because recently, when I've worked a couple of nights, Matthew's cooked for friends or cooked for the kids, and I think, 'Hang on a minute, how come you never cook when I'm there?!' "He's actually quite a good cook, so I was like, 'Right that is it - you are going to cook for me a bit more!'" Davina - who can currently be seen hosting Channel 4's winter sports show The Jump - is also a dab hand in the kitchen of course, recently adding another healthyeating cookbook to her repertoire.

Written out of frustration at the confusing advice surrounding carbohydrates, Davina's Smart Carbs seeks to simplify the issue.

"I've always been telling everybody about eating a balanced, healthy diet [one that includes carbs], and then I suddenly thought, 'Have I been telling people the wrong thing?' Then a nutritionist told me that there are good carbs and bad carbs, and we came up with smart carbs.

"It makes total sense; there are some very simple changes we can make."

These changes include swapping white bread, rice and pasta for brown varieties ("That's a no-brainer") and using sweet potato in place of regular spuds.

"It's interesting, you think, 'Oh well, the kids aren't going to like it', but the kids have got more adventurous with the new stuff I give them. They're into trying new things."

Here are three tasty recipes...

| Davina's Smart Carbs by Davina McCall is published by Orion Books, priced PS16.99. Available now.

BUBBLE AND SQUEAK (serves 4) INGREDIENTS 300g carrots, cut into chunks 300g swede, cut into chunks 10g butter 150g spring greens, cabbage or Brussels sprouts, shredded 1tbsp olive oil 1 small onion, finely chopped Olive oil spray Poached or fried eggs, to serve (optional) Salt and black pepper METHOD BRING a saucepan of water to the boil.

Add the carrots and swede and cook them for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly, then tip them back into the saucepan and leave them over a low heat for a few minutes, just to help steam off any excess liquid. Swede in particular can get quite waterlogged, so this is important.

Mash the carrots and swede with the butter until fairly smooth. Tip the mash into a bowl and leave it to cool, then chill it in the fridge for a while to firm it up.

Wash the greens thoroughly, put them in a saucepan with a little water and cover the pan. Place the pan over the heat and cook for a few minutes until the greens have wilted down, then drain them thoroughly and leave them to cool.

When you're ready to cook the bubble and squeak, mix the root veg mash and the greens together and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and gently fry the chopped onion over a medium heat until it's softened and caramelising around the edges. Add this to the vegetables, then tip everything back into the frying pan and spread the mixture out into a large round.

Cook the bubble and squeak over a medium heat for several minutes until it's nice and brown underneath and cooked through.

Meanwhile, preheat your grill to its highest setting. Spritz the top of the bubble and squeak with olive oil spray, then pop it under the grill for three to four minutes until it's browning around the edges and in patches on top. Cut it into wedges and serve as part of a brunch with poached or fried eggs, if you like.

LAMB AND AUBERGINE CASSEROLE (serves 4) INGREDIENTS 2 aubergines, cut into 2.5cm cubes Olive oil spray 1tbsp olive oil 1 large onion, finely sliced 600g lean lamb leg or shoulder, trimmed of fat and diced 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/2 tsp ground allspice 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tsp cayenne or hot chilli powder 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 400g can of chopped tomatoes 200ml chicken stock or water 1tbsp pomegranate molasses 1tbsp lemon juice Small bunch of parsley, leaves only, to serve Salt and black pepper METHOD PREHEAT the oven to 2200C/2000C Fan/Gas 7. Put the aubergines in a bowl and spritz them with olive oil spray, then turn them over and repeat. Spread the aubergines on a baking tray and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until they're starting to brown.

is Heat the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Add the sliced onion and cook it slowly over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, until it's soft and translucent, then turn up the heat and add the lamb. Cook until the lamb is well browned, stirring regularly, then reduce the heat and add the garlic and spices. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes and the stock or water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, put a lid on the casserole dish and simmer for an hour until the lamb becoming tender. Add the aubergines and the pomegranate molasses, cover again and cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove the lid from the casserole. If the sauce is very liquid, simmer until it has reduced slightly, then add the lemon juice. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

BAKED PLUMS (serves 4) INGREDIENTS 25g butter, plus extra for greasing 8 ripe plums, halved and stones removed 25g honey 75g ground almonds 25g flaked almonds, plus extra to garnish Seeds from 3 cardamom pods, ground 1/4tsp ground ginger Pinch of cinnamon To serve: 1tbsp honey (optional) 150g creme fraiche or yoghurt METHOD PREHEAT the oven to 2000C/1800C Fan/Gas 6. Grease an ovenproof dish with a little butter. Place the plums, cut side up, in the dish.

Put the 25g of honey with the butter in a small saucepan and warm them over a gentle heat until they've melted together. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the almonds and spices into the butter and honey. The mixture should be quite crumbly, but it should clump together when squeezed.

Spoon about a dessertspoon of the mixture into the centre of each plum half. Bake the plums in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they have completely softened and the topping is golden brown.

Whisk the honey, if using, into the creme fraiche or yoghurt. Serve the plums with dollops of the sweetened creme fraiche and a few more flaked almonds as a garnish, if you like.

A nutritionist told me that there are good carbs and bad carbs, and we came up with smart carbs


| Davina gets to work in her kitchen
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2016
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