Healthy Lemony Lemon Pie

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I can think of at least three songs that mentioned lemons and lemon trees from the top of my head. Small wonder since it is one of those rare fruit trees that seems generous in excess when it feels like it. Some lemon trees just don’t produce a single thing whereas others are a miracle of constant fruits hanging from its branches. All year long!

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We used to have such a tree in the garden and it was fantastic to just pop out and grab one when in need. My sister in law even built an extension on her house around the existing lemon tree but if you had seen this one you would probably have done the same. Lemons have saved more lives through history than penicillin, without the data to back it up, you are just going to have to take my word for it. Its very high vitamin C content was the antidote for the scurvy which was a lot more prevalent that you may think, specially in countries were citrus fruits don’t thrive and the winters are long and hard.

Squeezing a lemon juice into warm water and have it first thing in the morning is a sure way to boost your inmune system, it has become very popular in social media to recommend  such practice as a way to live 100 years. I don’t know about the longevity, but it has proven benefits, with the only caveat of the acidity in your teeth, so it is better drank through a straw.

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If you want to make it sweeter, this cake is actually a really way of doing it. It has high amounts of lemon juice although vitamin is highly sensitive to heat so cooking it for a long time will destroy its content. The meringue is made with egg white, or aquafava if you are vegan and thus very high in protein. It has an artificial sweetener I normally wouldn’t use, Splenda, but it is the only sweetener I have found that has the right texture for a meringue. To compensate, the amount is has is less than half of the sugar the cake would normally take. If you prefer, you can use warm honey to sweeten it.

Ingredients

For the pastry

– 225g wholemeal flour

– 175g butter/margerine

– 2 tbsp xylitol

– 1 egg

For the lemon layer

– 4 lemons, finely grated zest & juice

– 40g corn flour

– 150g birch sugar

– 4 egg yolks

For the meringue topping

– 4 egg whites (remaining)

– 3/4 tbs splenda/honey/agave

– 1 tsp corn flour

How to…

To make the mix the flour and butter in a food processor if you have one and blend together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs you can do this by hand too. Add the birch sugar, egg and one tablespoon of water and mix again again until combined to a ball.

On a work surface roll the dough to a 3mm thick sheet. Transfer it to line a 20cm loose-bottomed tin. Cover in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and trim the excess pastry.  Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment and bake for another five minutes.

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Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C.

For the filling, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a paste. Add 300 ml of water into a small cooking pot and bring to the boil. Add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water and stir until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat. In a bowl mix together the birch sugar and egg yolks and add them to the lemon mixture in the pan. Stir over a medium heat until thickened.

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For the meringue, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisker until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the Splenda one tbsp at the time, and try it for sweetness, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.

Spoon on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue to cover the lemon filling. Get creative to create a swirl on the top of the meringue.

Toast the top of the meringue with a burner. Allow to cool completely before serving.

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Holy Guacamole!

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Basic recipes are what pull apart the apt from the masters. My better half told me once that he had met someone so bad that could screw up some scrambled eggs. Blimey! They are very easy to spoil! Leaving aside the fact that cooking points for eggs, as for meat, are a very personal choice, it is commonly accepted that scrambled is meant to be creamy, slightly runny and moist. I have can count of one hand the amount of times I have been served truly satisfying scrambled eggs.

For me Guacamole falls on the same category of dips that can change dramatically on the  blink of an eye, however we only have ourselves to blame. The amount of times I have heard ” I don’t put cilantro in mine because I don’t like” or “No jalapeño, too hot” and then when they actually try my guacamole they raise their eyebrows and praise it.

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Of course you like it! It is the real deal, and is delicious, and unless you have a real allergy, there is really no reason to leave any ingredient behind because you see, it is only a matter of how much you put in the mixture that will make you hate it.

If you don’t tolerate hot food, with 2 or 3 slices of pickled jalapeño you will get all the flavour and almost a negligible amount of heat. If you don’t like cilantro, add only a few leaves and chop them incredibly small. Those flavours, when mashed together will give your guacamole and unbeatable taste. You may try it and hate me forever, but I have never (so far) had a complain. I hope you guys won’t be the first ones!

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Ingredients

1 extra large or 2 medium ripe avocados

5 slices of pickled jalapeño 

1 tomato, peeled, deseeded and chopped very finely

1/2 red onion, chopped teeny tiny

4 stalks of cilantro, leaves only, chopped

1 lime (juice)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of ground cumin

How to…

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients mash until they resemble a dip. Bear in mind this is a chunky guacamole. If you want it finer, you can put it in the food processor however it affects negatively the texture of the avocado in this instance.

Mole in spanish means to mash, so there you go, the proof is in the pudding as they say 😉

I hope you enjoy it!

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Caprese Style Sandwich

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When I was little, my parents used to drive an hour to the closest mountain so we could play in the snow. Nothing fancy, just roll down a hill on a large piece of plastic. It was awesome, we ended frozen and starved due to the exercise and as a reward we used to stop at the old village bakery and buy a old fashioned loaf of bread. I have never smelled anything better than that wood burning in the cave-like oven and the resultant fresh bread.

Everything taste better between two slices of good freshly baked bread. Even though they are hard to come by, I have recently found an incredible new bakery that makes proper loaves of it, sourdough and wholegrain. My favourite is the spelt one, high in fibre and thus, more satisfying, slower burning carbs.

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Here you have my take on a vegan/vegetarian breakfast sandwich that borrows the flavours of Italy in this pesto, tomato and  mozzarella toastie with basil leaves.
The one trick to it is that the tomato needs a pinch of salt to bring out the flavour, for the rest, rub the pesto to both slices of bread, pile mozzarella (about 1/3 of the ball) tomato, basil leaves and toast on both sides on mid to low heat so the cheese melts but the bread doesn’t burn…

Easy peasy, and delicious.

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Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cups

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Give me a thousand shy Autumns like this one to cosy up in near a window with a cup of tea and watch the world go orange, red and a myriad shades of copper. I have been busy lately. Crazy busy I would say even, flying around, stressed out, digging up documents, chasing people and trying to organise a move. And thus, I haven’t updated this blog in ages, even my Instagram activity has suffered, and I endeavour to be better, but I am still in the middle of it and I can’t actually commit to it.

I have been writing too, the second part of a novel I wrote a while ago, and this is again an Autumn feeling. It is the nostalgia and quietness of it all that calls to me, that sends me spinning into the depth of my deepest darkest longings, back to my childhood.

As such, I have rescued a simple candy recipe, replicated over social media a million times, to share with you. Peanut butter cups. The scary bit is when you look at the nutritional values of the commercial brand Reese’s, so much everything you really don’t want to be eating too much of it.

These variation is a non added sugar one, I have used a sugar free chocolate brand as a base and no added sugar peanut butter and it just implies melting and pouring.

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Ingredients (for 15 cups)

1.5 No added sugar dark chocolate bars (150 gr)

3 tbsp of no added sugar peanut butter

2 tbsp. cocoa butter/coconut butter

2 tbsp of cocoa nibs

a pinch of salt.

How to…

In a small non metálico jar, put the chocolate broken in pieces and one tbsp of cocoa butter. Melt in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes or more if needed.

Line a small tray that fits in your freezer or fridge with small metallic chocolate liners and pour the melted chocolate on them, filling them up to 1/3 of their capacity.

Put them in the freezer and let them cool down for 5 minutes and in the meantime, melt the peanut butter with the rest of the cocoa butter and a pinch of salt in the microwave. Bring out the liners and fill them with the mixture for another 1/3. Cool down again, melt the chocolate and fill it up to the top and sprinkle with cocoa nibs.

The cocoa nibs add an extra crunchiness and fibre that is very yummy!

Enjoy!

Mediterranean Hake

 

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If you live by the sea you will know what I am talking about. It’s a sound every child that grew up with the scent of sea salt in the nostrils can identify. It is a faint, almost fading eerie sound of bells that come from the sea at down. Some days are clear but where I come from, fog is generally the background setting for the fishermen that return to shore. It grows in intensity as the waves rock the small boats and the engines buzz their way into the port. It means fresh fish. It means tired men. Fishing is done at night, is then when hakes are catch. They live fifty meters under the surface of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and they are closely related to cods. They are long, thin, slippery predators that feed on lanternfish on the continental shelf. They eat, and they are eaten, the circle of life.

They have a subtle flavour, soft and flaky that makes is a commercially important species and the star of a myriad of traditional dishes in the old continent. Modern fishing techniques, on those giant boats that carry no bells, have polluted the water with anisakis making a parasite that was seldom found in the fish an everyday problem. You see, I recently discovered why, apparently fish are processed as they are caught and the byproduct of the cleaning of the fish, it’s thrown back to the sea, where other fish feed on it. Sounds as an intrinsically good idea, until you realise that we are spreading a disease that was naturally contained before in the fish and that actually causes severe allergic reactions on human beings, well done us. Again.

If you buy your fish at a decent fishmonger, they will be able to spot the parasite if it’s there and remove it, and it is totally safe to eat. It is a highly nutritious fish, low in fat and very good for children. It doesn’t have too many bones and it’s not too “fishy” (if you know what I mean).

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I have paired my hake today with fresh tomato relish with herbs (and no sugar) and some wholegrain couscous. The fish has been cooked in the microwave (steamed) and has a lemon rind, fresh basil and olive oil dressing. All those flavours are very Mediterranean and pair perfectly with one another. It can be made in advance and just heated up in the oven so it’s great if you have people over, pretty easy and fuss free. This recipe is gluten free and low GI which makes it appropriate for low carb diets and diabetic patients. Should you be vegan and not eat fish, tempeh is a great alternative for this recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 large ripe tomatoes

2 fillets of hake

60 gr. of gluten free couscous

1 bush fresh basil

Fresh Oregano (or dried if you cannot get hold of it)

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper

How to…

Chop the tomatoes in small square pieces and cook them in 1/2 tsp. of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and the fresh herbs also chopped. Let the water evaporate until the it acquires the consistency of a sauce, tomatoes are very high in water and it could ruin your dish later on.

Prepare the couscous according to the packaging instructions, usually is twice the volume of water that the one of couscous, pinch of salt and a dollop of butter, you can use olive oil too instead. You can add some sultanas and some toasted pine nuts to the couscous to make it more a more substancial meal (for lunch instead of dinner for example).

Clean the hake fillets and wash them. To cook them in the microwave set them in a tray with 3 tbsp of water per fillet and cover them with transparent film. Cook at 800w for 2 minutes and check if they are ready. Be careful and don’t put them for too long the first time around because it is very easy to overcook fish in the microwave. You can always put more time on them if needed.

For the fish sauce: grate the lemon rind and put it in a mortar, add the fresh basil and mash with pestle. Add a pinch of salt, dash of lemon juice and then carefully mix in 2 tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil. serve the dish as per the picture if you wish or get creative.

Bon appetit!

Healthy Strawberries & Cream

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Not all strawberries are created equal. Nowadays they always look big red and gorgeous but they don’t always taste as they should. The best way to know if the strawberries are flavourful is to smell them! If they smell potently like they should, then you are on to something good.

Even so, if you want to make your strawberries shine and take them to a whole new level, or simply save some that weren’t all that good to start with, all you have to do is “confit” them.

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The problem with Strawberries & Cream is generally that the cream is incredibly high in saturated fat and well, it isn’t something to eat everyday in all honesty. The good news is that I found a great substitute that is super creamy and sweet but has a lot less fat than the original recipe.

For the Strawberry confit:

500 gr fresh strawberries

1 lemon ( the juice)

1 tsp. sucralose (or your sweetener of choice)

For the “cream”

340 gr. Fat free Greek Yogurt

50 gr. Mascarpone cheese

How to…

Chop the strawberries in very small pieces and place them in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lemon, and the sweetener and heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds. Take them out, whisk them with a fork to mix in the juices and then heat them up another 30 seconds. Leave them out to cool down and then keep them in the fridge.

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To make the cream, whisk the yogurt and the mascarpone together and split into 3 to 4 portions depending if you want it as dessert, snack or light breakfast. This is a high protein non added sugar recipe so feel free to give it to the kids, awesome way to eat more fruit!

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Blue Protein Nice Cream

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I write. I have been writing since I was about 11, when I finished reading The Lord of the Rings. I have always had a thing for fantasy and sci fi and a while ago. I have decided that maybe it would be a good idea to share some tales with you.

So since the aim of this blog is to provide nutritional advice to acquire and maintain a healthy weight, but in a delicious way, sharing tales is not really something you would expect from me. However, I am asking for permission, to all of you. I wonder if you would mind me doing so? And if you don’t, I would like you to challenge me with themes!

Hit me with your best shot and I will do my best to make a short tale with it. Who knows, maybe together we will come up with something good.

For now, let me share with you this protein nice cream recipe, perfect for the coming summer months! Low in fat, slow burning carbs, vegan and high in protein. No added sugar or nasties, great to make for the kids, and for the not so young too 😉

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Ingredients (serves 2)

1 frozen banana

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

100 ml coconut milk

1 tsp. blue matcha

How to…

Mix the blue matcha in the coconut milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir and filter to remove any solid residues. In a blender, mix the frozen banana, the blue milk and the vanilla protein. Mix well and place in a metallic container and back to the freezer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, check the consistency and if the nice cream is firm, scoop out with an ice cream spoon and serve with frozen berries.

Easy and delicious!