Bella's approach to good food is for it to taste as good as it looks, whilst packing some serious nutritional punch

Bella Carter is an inspirational mother of three and founder of top catering business Spinnaker Events, beloved of celebrity and British industry parties, with husband Hugh. Bella brought her fresh an exciting menus to the 2024 TROY retreat and served up a delectable feast of health boosting dishes.

"Cooking for the TROY Retreat allowed me to combine my passion for delicious tasting, nutritionally rich food with alfresco eating, which I love! I believe firmly that healthy food that balances the body and makes you feel well, does not have to be bland and dull. Here I share a few of my favorite themes for cooking and entertaining this spring."

Bold salads with bright colours and zingy dressings

I love combining seasonal vegetables with more traditional salad ingredients, alongside fruit, nuts and fresh herbs. The dressing is key.

My favourite salad combination for combining bitter, sweet and salty flavours:

Green bean, radicchio, blood orange and hazelnut with crumbled feta.

A lovely summer version of this is with rocket, white peaches, mozzarella and poppy seeds.

I like to use a chilli dressing with this. I pop it all in a jar and shake. Use enough to taste and the rest will keep happily in the fridge for a few days.

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INGREDIENTS: Radicchio Salad

1 radicchio (or 2 red chicory)
400g blanched green beans
3 blood oranges
100g toasted and chopped hazelnuts
Handful of crumbled feta
Some torn mint or basil

INGREDIENTS: Chilli Dressing

1/2 red chilli chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
1 spoonful of honey - to taste
4 limes squeezed
1 spoonful of sesame oil
2 spoonfuls of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Seeded Chia Crackers

These make a wonderful gluten free crisp crackers for dipping or using as a base for smoked salmon and cream cheese as a canapé.

Adding the water and soy sauce to the chia seeds glues the seeds together to form a dough. This is so simple but really impresses and makes use of all the seeds in your store cupboard and you benefit from all their goodness. I also add a pinch of kombu: a seaweed that adds a nice dose of iodine and gives a salty element. (I use this in my cooking for the children also!)

I like to keep the dips really seasonal. The favourite on the retreat was the blanched cavolo nero, wild garlic from the woods, olive oil and pine nuts.

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INGREDIENTS: Chia Crackers

100g pumpkin seeds
100g sunflower seeds
100g chia seeds
100g sesame seeds
50g flaxseeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons onion/nigella seeds
Big pinch chilli flakes
Big pinch dried oregano
200ml water
50ml soy sauce

METHOD: Chia Crackers

Take a large bowl and put in all the seeds and seasonings.
Add all the water and stir well.
Set aside for 20-30 minutes.
While the seeds are soaking:
Preheat the oven to 150oc

Take a shallow baking tray approximately 32 x 22 cm and line it with baking parchment

When the seeds have absorbed all the water and are starting to gel together, stir well then spread the mixture evenly over the lined baking tray.
Tip: scoring the mix into your chosen cracker shape now will help when it comes to breaking them up later.
Put the tray in the oven and bake until the mix is completely set, dry all the way through and lightly browned. This should take 55-65 minutes, but check after 30 min to make sure it isn't browning too quickly; lower the oven temperature if necessary.
Put the tray on a wire rack until completely cool.
Carefully peel off the paper. Break apart and store in an airtiairtight container.

Golden Goodness: Organic Bone Broth Ramen

I have a passion for quality broth and it here is contantly a stock pot on the go in my house. The nutritional benefits are amazing, and I use it in all of my cooking for the children, even cooking the rice and pasta in broth.

Ensure you have good quality bones. I used organic chicken wings from Daylesford, but veal bones are fantastic.

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Roast your bones with aromatics: onion, whole garlic, carrots

Cover with water and spice with star anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds. All off cuts of vegetables are great for the stock pot.

Simmer for approximately three hours with the lid off, skim off any impurities.

Organic bone broth ramen

Simply use your steaming broth to cook soba noodles (or courgetti)and chopped pak choi..

Miso mushrooms - these are so delicious and a spoonful on top of the broth adds such a good depth of flavour.

Serve with a variety of soy stained eggs, homemade kimchi, and some bean sprouts.

I tend to arrange little bowls of toppings on the table, including:

Sesame seeds
Wedges of lime 

Bella's Picks

What is next for Bella?

“I think at the moment everyone is waking up to the fact that it’s all about what you put in your body and good nutrition is key. As a busy mother, I am as interested in adult nutrition as children’s nutrition so I think I will write a really good children’s recipe book, featuring all the ways (sneaky and otherwise!) of getting good things into children… but close behind that will be a fresh and exciting look at healthy food for grown ups including zingy dressings, delicate (and easy!) presentation hacks alongside deeply nutritious bone broths, pro-biotic pickles and energy boosting snacks for every fridge.”

You can follow Bella at the NEW @bellacookslondon for more healthy food to inspire and delight.

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