Best Spicy Butternut Squash

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Easy start of the week… Mondays have an awful fame for taking us all back to reality and to a world of obligations. What we have to do, our jobs, homes, groceries, children, families, noises. Lazy Sundays leave way to a feeling of having to be back on track. No more ice cream watching that movie and a bit of guilt. This is why I love cooking a bit pot of soup of Mondays that will last me until Friday. Today I would like to share with you an Autumn recipe that is hearty, filling and delicious and of course it’s been made with love and little fat to keep your hearts happy and your hips tight.

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Autumn is the season of falling leaves, of yellows and oranges, or warm cozy jumpers of blankets, of Halloween, and in the midst of all this, of Pumpkins!! Starbucks brings their inglorious Pumpkin Spice Latte and I bring the glorious Butternut squash Spice Soup, as they say, each to their own.

A bit on the nutrition side of things… Butternut squash is a pumpkin that has an elongated body and a big butt, a bit like most women 😉 pumpkin are very sweet, like carrots, when cooked they are perfect to bake pies and cakes due this high content of natural occurring sugars, so in principle I wouldn’t recommend having too much pumpkin if you are trying to lose weight, however, their glycemic charge, this is the total amount of carbohydrate that they contain, is relatively low so if the portions are controlled there is no reason to avoid it. This soup is still very low in fat, low in carbs and GI and perfect starter. Additionally it contains a fair amount of curcuma, which is highly antioxidant, helps digestion and it has been linked to Alzheimer prevention and glucose absorption reduction on people with diabetes.

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Personally from a taste point of view I find pumpkin soup a bit too sweet so I much prefer the curried version that has a bit of a spice kick and it is much nicer. This version is vegetarian but I have come across the exact same thing but including bacon and I will surely try it in the near future.

Ingredients (serves 4)

½ Butternut Squash

1 red pepper

2 Onions

1 vegetable stock cube in 1 liter of water

½ tsp Paprika

1 tsp curcuma

½ tsp ground pepper

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

¾ tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Green Tabasco Sauce

Salt to taste

A few sesame seeds & coriander to decorate

Peel and chop the onions and cook them for a couple of minutes in olive oil. Add the butternut squash, mix well and add the spices. Let them soak for 1 or 2 minutes and add the stock. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer until the squash is soft and melty, around 15 to 20 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt to taste if needed. Since this recipe has so many spices you might as well skip the salt, it does wonders for water retention to eat lower sodium.

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If you are happy with the taste, blend together with a hand blender until the soup is a smooth silky consistency and there are no “boats” floating around.

These soups and anything that contains multiple spices will taste better after a few hours, but if you can’t wait it will still be delicious!

Follow me on Instagram for daily tips & recipes @cook_yourself_slim

 

Oat-sotto, the Healthy Risotto

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Ok maybe not my best naming moment XD but I do think it’s funny. I am simple mind like that.

I love risotto, it’s one of my favourite things because I am a big cheese lover, but the combination of bacon, rice, and parmesan cheese well… it’s everything but scale friendly. Every now and then though, there is nothing wrong with having the real deal of course, I don’t have it with meat any more but it does come in pescetarian versions with seafood that are ok for me. Scallops and mussels are a great combo for example and they add lean protein and iron and lots of flavour. In this case I wanted to come up with a lighter version, one that you can eat 3 times in a week and it won’t make you feel bloated, gain weight or affect your goals in the slightest.

Instagram is a great source of inspiration for this things sometimes and a few weeks ago I came across this savoury porridge trend that I thought could work great for this purpose. The recipe here today is vegetarian since I used parmesan cheese, the real deal, but should you want to avoid it, there are some vegan alternatives that could work just as well.

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The rice in this recipe in actually oats, in case my clever naming got you confused. Then the recipe is exactly the same as an actual risotto, only with less fat, less cheese and significantly less cooking time, which is also a plus if you are short in time.

If the oats are the right ones, this is a gluten free recipe and low carb too.

Ingredients (serves 2)

100 gr. wholegrain oats

100 gr. finely chopped onion

1 smashed clove of garlic

1 cup white wine

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or half olive oil half butter)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup sliced mushrooms

4 chopped green asparagus

2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese or vegan alternative

Salt and pepper

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How to…

In a pot, heat up the oil and cook the onion an garlic slowly until tender and transparent. Add the chopped mushrooms and the asparagus. Two minutes later add the oats and mix well with the rest of the ingredients to mix the flavours. Add the wine when the pot is hot and let it evaporate. Then start adding the stock little by little and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, add the cheese and let rest for one more minute. Serve immediately to avoid the oats from going too soft.

Bear in mind the texture is softer than with normal rice, but still delicious.

Enjoy!

 

 

Slimming Matcha Vanilla Breakfast

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On an evolution of one of my favourite smoothies, I have created a new breakfast that is super easy, very healthy and can be prepared in advanced.

Preparing breakfast in advance is the best way to control your diet and start the day how it should, with a protein rich breakfast, high in fibre to keep you fuller for longer. It is not difficult, and you can change the flavour rather easily.

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Last week I posted a chocolate one, today a Vanilla Matcha one and I will keep posting variations and different recipes you can use to get your diet under control.

Ingredientes (per person)

30 gr Oat Bran

1/2 vanilla protein powder

250 ml unsweetened coconut milk

1 tsp matcha green tea

1 tsp Maca Powder (optional)

How to…

In a blender, mix the milk, the protein and the matcha until it is smooth. When mixed, heat up and add the oat bran, when is hot, turn it off and distribute in ramekin dishes or any container for the fridge. Serve with a small array of fruit to decorate.

This provides 17 gr. of Carbs, 5 Fat, 15 gr Protein and 195 calories.

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Happy Valentine’s day!

Vegan Chili con Carne

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Or should I say Chile Sin Carne (which means without in Spanish as oppose to con, that means with) because there is no Carne (meat) at all in this recipe!

This is a great way to start the week and an awesome recipe to cook in advance. It is very simple to make, perfect for busy people that would like to eat a bit healthier during the week since this is a meal that you can take to the office to reheat and it will taste perfect.

Like every dish that gets its flavour from spices, it always tastes better the longer it sits together. This chili will be perfect in the fridge for 4 or 5 days.

In these cold gloomy days of winter, there is nothing better than a warm plate of this spiced mexican style platillo. I have removed the meat to make it vegan which also removed all the saturated fats and colesterol, making it very low in fat and high in protein and slow burning carbs which is perfect to keep you fuller for longer.

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In case you are new to this site and you haven’t read this before, beans and beef have a very similar content in protein, even though the quality of the that protein is not as high since vegetable protein lacks some basic amino acids, making it less available for the body to use. In order to supply those missing amino acids, you add some animal protein to the dish, or some cereal. It is enough to add a small portion or bread, rice o a bit of cheese or even soured cream to make it complete.

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Since I am on a permanent journey to a leaner me, I haven’t add grated cheese on top as in the tex mex versions but depending on your goals you may want to do so.

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Ingredients (serves 6)

2 stalks of celery

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow pepper

2 red onions

800gr. can of chopped tomatoes

800 gr. red kidney beans

1 small can of sweet corn

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. ancho chili powder

1 tsp. chipotle powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

Salt to taste

Extra Virgin Olive oil

How to…

Peel and chop the onions in small squares, the peppers and the celery in small pieces and in a large pan, heat up 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Cook the onions first for a couple of minutes adding salt to it and then add the pepper and celery and cook for a further 7 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Add the chopped tomatoes, the spices and taste for salt and leave simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the beans removing part of the liquid first and keeping in aside in case the pan runs dry. Cook for a further 10 minutes, add the sweet corn and after another 2 minutes turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes for the flavours to mix.

You can eat straight away or way until the next day. I serve it with whole grain rice (the portion is around 30gr. of dry rice per person), fat free greek yogurt and fresh coriander and chilies for decoration and you can also add a side of avocado.

Enjoy!

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100 Calorie Tacos.

 

 

Tacos (2)Last week I had a sudden crave for Jalapeno peppers. Don’t ask me why, I don’t even know but I just had this absolutely unstoppable impulse of eating really tart spicy Mexican peppers.

I went to 3 supermarkets only to find out that they don’t sell jalapenos here!! I couldn’t believe that in this day and age it was impossible to actually find such a basic and universal ingredient, but what I did find was some Tabasco Mild sauce, jalapeno flavour. 😀

Finally a mexican friend of mine pointed me into the direction of a little mexican shop that sells any type of spice pepper you can imagine, and I am now a happy Jalapeno owner.

If you are reading this, you probably know I am a very firm believer in eating the type of carbs, and avoiding them at night time. For this reason, having tacos for dinner is not really generally an option, but then I thought that maybe I could have my cake and eat it too, just by swapping the taco wrapping for some more inoffensive lettuce leaves. Not the same you would say?? Well no, but you still get the flavour and it is just as delicious.

 

This is a very easy and quick no taco taco for Mexican food lovers!!

 

Ingredients (serves 1):

100 gr of chicken breast

1 gem lettuce

1 tomato

½ a spring onion (depending on size)

1 small bunch of fresh cilantro

½ an avocado

The juice of a lime

Salt & pepper to taste

½  a tsp. cumin

½ a tsp. paprika

Jalapenos or Jalapeno flavour Tabasco to your liking.

 

Simple chop very finely the tomato, cilantro, spring onion and jalapeno and mix in a bowl. Season with lime juice and salt and set aside.

Wash the gem lettuce and split it in leaves without breaking them and set them on a serving plate.

In a pan, cook the chicken breast cut in small slices with the cumin and paprika and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Chop the avocado in small pieces and lay on the lettuce, then add the chicken and top with the salsa.

 

You can add a bit of grated cheese to the chicken if you wish, I didn’t find it necessary, especially for dinner, but of course it is a possibility!

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Enjoy!

Lean Sunday Roast

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One of the most important barriers when taking control of one’s diet, is the excuses to one self that come from absolutely rightful issues. My favourite of all times is the lack of time one.

Lack of time is actually a fallacy, we all have 24h in the day, the only difference is how do we make our use of them, which is generally according to our priorities.

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When you have kids, the time seems to disappear between your fingers and the things that suffer the most are generally your own wellbeing and more and more in our society, the home cooking.

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There is simply no time for it. This is a mistake because our children are learning what we are teaching them as parents, if we do not cook at home and we don’t take care of our diets, they will learn the same patterns and they will grow up to be individuals with really bad habits.

 

Today I want to share a recipe that will allow you to both, home cook and teach your children some good nutrition basics, and also will enable you to get easy access to a healthy lunches during the week, even if you don’t have kids, this is the foundation of food prepping.

It is as simple as cooking extra. Are 2 at home? 4?? Then cook twice as much and simply pack away the extra portions in neat Tupperware in the fridge. On Sunday I generally cook my lunch and breakfast for Monday to Thursday and on Thursday eve, I cook extra and make another portion for Friday.

 

Today’s super easy recipe is a Lean Sunday Roast.

The particularities of this roast versus the one served at the pub is that this one doesn’t contain simple carbs, so we will not have the traditional gravy, but a lower fat and carb alternative, and we will also be skipping the potatoes in favour of some celeriac root. With regards to the Yorkshire pudding, I skip them altogether, but you can bake your own using wholegrain spelt flour, however, if you have enough veggies and roast, you won’t actually need it, it will just make your digestion heavier and you will end up feeling bloated!

 

Ingredients:

1 lean cut of beef to roast (1.5 kg would feed 4 and 4 portions would be leftovers)

3 peppers of different colours

4 onions peeled and cut in rings

1 courgette/zucchini

1 aubergine

2 carrots

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

½ a celeriac root

Fresh rosemary

½ a glass of white wine

Salt & pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

 

Pre heat the oven at 180C and in a big oven tray, set all the chopped vegetables. Chop them in medium chunks trying to end up with similar size pieces so they cook evenly. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary and sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and some water.

Rub the piece of meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, set in a tray or directly on top of the vegetables and roast for about 45 minutes depending on the size of the piece.

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Bear in mind that all the juices of the vegetables and the meat will be in the tray so you can recover them from the parchment. In order to make the gravy, take a piece of the roasted courgette and a piece of the celeriac and mash them with the sauce so it becomes a bit thicker. Add more salt to it if needed and serve with the meat.

 

Serve a good portion of roasted vegetables and 2 or 3 thin slices of meat.

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For the rest of the week: boil some lentils and in a Tupperware divide the remaining meat and vegetables and complement with one or two tablespoons of boiled lentils and you will have a full size meal, with lots of protein, low in fat and in simple carbs that will keep you up all afternoon.

Happy week dieters.

190 Calorie Super Smoothie

FullSizeRender (2)I have been bad.. really bad, and Christmas hasn’t even started! I have been travelling a lot for work and this normally means total nutrition chaos.

I am sure it has happened to you, it is normal. The moment you step out of your routine, and you don’t get access to the food you normally eat, or a kitchen, it spirals out of control and from one little spoonful of chocolate pudding we end up ordering our own dessert at every meal.

The problem with these binge eating comes mainly when we are following a restrictive diet the rest of the time, a bit of cake is worse for someone on an Atkins or ketogenic diet that for someone that is just overeating but eats a varied diet, it leads to the yoyo effect, and worse than that, it leads to your metabolism becoming “reinforced” against such behaviour. This means that the more times you try and fail a restrictive diet, the less effect it will have, so all that suffering for nothing!!

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Unfortunately, that is life. You get social, you have friends, you have a celebratory meal… that is all well and good, the key is to practice balance!! If you know you are going to have a big dinner, I suggest a really healthy breakfast followed by a light lunch and light afternoon snack, it would be terrible to get to that dinner to hungry and eat enough to give you a tummy ache! Then the next morning, leave the leftovers for someone else and stick to some fat free yogurt and fruits!!

I have never too keen on social media but about a month ago, I opened an Instagram account, I am not 80 years old, I am just a bit too busy for that!! But since I do love photography and food I thought it could be fun (you can follow me if you want for daily foodinspiration and nutritional advice at cook_yourself_slim) Anyway so in Instagram, I found the smoothie bowl fever. All those pieces of art that look sooo pretty and sooo delicious!! I couldn’t just not do anything about it!

The problem I saw with many of them is that they were very calorie and carb heavy, full of “natural” goodness but not good for someone trying to shred some fat (like me) so I looked for the lightest, most nutritional alternative available, and I am LOVING the results.

I have to confess that I will have this breakfast for dinner tonight as part of my post Spanish food overload last week, as a detox.

 

This smoothies are dead easy to make and quick too.

Take note!!

 

Ingredients:

1 pot of fat free Greek yogurt (I use Fage, 170gr and the best protein profile out there)

½ a cup of frozen blueberries

½ cup of frozen strawberries

A pinch of non-caloric sweetener

100 ml of milk (I use soy milk but you take your pick)

½ banana

1 tbsp. sliced toasted almonds.

 

Literally put everything in a blender, blend, and pour in a bowl. Add ½ a banana and some toasted sliced almonds as decoration, some chia seeds for extra protein if you wish and enjoy.

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It tastes like ice cream!!!

And it has around 190 calories, which is pretty impressive for something that tastes sooo good.

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You can change the toppings according to your personal preferences and whatever fruit you have laying around.

 

I am on holidays from tomorrow, so I might leave you alone for a while, but I will come back with a post xmas exercise and detox diet for the new year resolutions.

Stay tuned!!

Slim-Waist-OK Moussaka

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The Greek traditional recipe for Moussaka is not complex but as with many traditional dishes in the Mediterranean cuisine, is very high in fat and quite time consuming. A bit of history of nutrition here that explains why these dishes are generally so highly energetic, they originated in a time of our development when most of our Jobs happened in the fields or taking care of cattle. The energy needs of the peasants and housewives in the old days, were likely to be twice as high as the one of us, sedentary human beings of today.

When you need to find a way to consume 5000 calories a day, a plate of moussaka dripping in oil providing 1000 calories per portion, was actually very good news for our body!! This is the reason why we are programmed, as a race, to rejoice in hyper caloric meals such as a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or a full McDonald meal with French fries and a Sundae. Our caveman brain loves it!! The brain doesn’t know that we don’t have to go to the forest to cut logs for the next 5 hours to prepare for the winter, but to watch Netflix for 6 hours instead while laying on a sofa, and so when we eat such a high amount of nutrients it produces a kick of happy hormones, endorphins, dopamine… Not good!!

We are the only race that eat for emotional reasons and these sneaky hormones might just be the reason for it. I feel sad, I eat chocolate ice cream, I feel better! Magic? No. The problem is that we also the only race with the capacity of abstraction and suffering related to body image issues.

Moussaka and the likes of it, are absolutely delicious scrumptious recipes that we should keep enjoying, however, I prefer to adapt the recipe to make it more fit the needs of our bodies, and I have come up with a low carb, low fat alternative to the traditional one, that tastes really really well and takes significantly less time that the original one.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250 gr. Ground Beef under 5% fat content

500 gr. Canned tomatoes

½ onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Fresh or dried thyme/oregano/basil

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

Salt & pepper to taste

4 drops of sweeter

1 Eggplant

40 gr of grated cheese

100 gr of 0% Greek yogurt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To prepare this recipe I use two small over proof non sticky plates, each one serves 2 and I freeze one.

First of all, turn on the over at 150 C degrees and let it warm up. Wash the eggplant and cut it in slices, ½ a cm thick. Cover an oven tray with baking paper and spread the aubergine slices evenly. Sprinkle with salt and leave them “sweat” for 5 to 10 minutes while the over gets to the right temperature.

In the meantime, chop the onion very finely and poach it in 1 tbsp of olive oil at medium heat. Add the 2 cloves of garlic & salt and when they are all transparent and soft, add the canned tomatoes.

By now the oven should be hot, put the aubergine in the middle and let it roast for 10 minutes while you finish the tomato sauce.

Add the spices to the tomato sauce, the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, sweetener and herbs, smashing the tomatoes to pieces with a fork. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. After 10 minutes in the oven, turn the eggplants around and let them cook for another 5 minutes.

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Take the aubergines out of oven but don’t turn it off.

Now, we are not using any white sauce or oil to cover the base of the plate but some of the tomato sauce instead so reserve one or two tablespoons. Then add the ground meat to the remaining tomato sauce and let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes, and correct the salt and pepper.

Once you have the aubergines, the meat with the tomato and the plain tomato, is time to build up the moussaka!

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Put the plain tomato on the base of the plate, then line it up with roasted aubergine. It might look a bit dry, and considerably drier than if you would have fried it in oil, but once in the oven all the juices will mix and they will be soft and melty. Set a layer of meat over the aubergine and then drop 3 or 4 hazel sized dollops of 0% fat Greek yogurt, on it, this substitutes the white sauce and it will add a creamy taste to the dish without any added fat and with lots of protein instead. Then add another layer of aubergine pressing down to make sure everything is nice and tight and if your dish is full, sprinkle with the grated cheese for the gratin.

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If you have a higher dish or a larger one, you might want to have 2 layers of meat and aubergine, in any case is the same!

One is ready, just cook in the oven for 20 minutes and serve with a green salad.

Enjoy!

Turkey Parmesan Salad

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TGIF! One of those days… this week has been sooo long, and sooo many things have happened that it feels like it has been a week and a half. Those days is it hard to bring yourself to cook or do anything at all.

So today just a quick lunch or light dinner idea! A simple green salad with a pan fried turkey steak on top. Add some shaven parmesan (just 2 or 3 sleeves for a hint of saltiness) and a bit of red cabbage for added fiber.

Two spoonful of cooked quinoa to make it more filling and dress with lemon juice or white wine vinegar (balsamic vinegar is generally very high in sugar) a pinch of salt and 1/2 a tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and that is it!

So easy, so healthy, so delicious. No need to think any further.

Happy weekend to all of you.

Super Light Double Chocolate Protein Puddings

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Yesterday I was thinking about making some vanilla caramel creams (I did share the recipe a while ago in the blog). They are a nice dessert if you are having a light dinner, but if there is no other source of protein in your dinner, I thought they could probably do with some more punch.

 

As a result, I came up with an adaptation, adding some chocolate flavour isolate protein powder to the mixture so they became chocolate vanilla creams.

Each one of these has 21 grams of protein 5 grams of fat and only 2 grams of carbs and 140 calories so it is a perfect snack after dinner, mid afternoon etc.

Did I mention they are pretty delicious too?

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 scoops of Lean protein isolate (chocolate flavour)

4 eggs (for the vegan version you can substitute for corn flour although it changes the macros described above)

500 ml Soy Milk

1 tbsp. of no calorie sweetener

1 tbsp. fat free raw pure cocoa powder with no added sugar

Beat the eggs and in a shaker beat the protein powder and the chocolate protein isolate until they become a shake, add the sweetener and the cocoa powder and shake again. Add to the eggs, beat until it is homogeneous and pour in 4 ramekin oven proof dishes.

Bake at 150 C for about 20 minutes au bain marie ( with water at the bottom, up until 1/3 of the ramekin dishes)

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Once they are set, sprinkle with some 70 % chocolate for decoration. ½ an ounce should be enough for 4.

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One word about the sweeteners to be used, depending on your goals, certain sweeteners just won’t cut it. For example, honey or agave syrup, which are healthy and perfectly fine sweeteners, with a low GI in the case of the Agave syrup and with other great properties in the case of honey, still are very high in carbohydrate content and calories, so in a weight loss diet, they should be avoided in favour of other non-caloric option such as stevia.

They can hamper your efforts in the gym or all the good work in the kitchen the rest of the day! In this category you can find honey, agave syrup, maple syrup and rice syrup.

Stevia does add a certain amount of flavour so I don’t like to use it unless the flavour is going to be completely hidden. Since I use very little sweetener anyway, I don’t mind using Splenda for this type of thing.

Bear in mind that 1 tbsp for 4 portions comes up at a very low dose per each one of them way below the FDA or any other organism recommendations.

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Enjoy!