Best Pea & Spinach Soup

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I promise you it is the best you will ever have. Well maybe you are very stubborn and will not be willing to admit it, but it will be at least top 3! What is special about this soup, is that is based on a traditional Finnish soup that I tried many years ago.

I had never been a massive fan of peas… I guess like most children, those mushy, green little balls were mainly something I had to patiently remove from paellas, rices, other foods that I liked…mainly an annoyance this is. Luckily for me, I developed a brain later on in life, and I became more adventurous with food, this paired with an excellent parental education that engraved in my brain the fact that “If you go to someone else’s house, you eat what you are given and you say how good it was” led me to trying for the first time the winning combination that makes this soup special. Mustard!

I know now you are still reading out of curiosity, so please know that Ham and Pea soup has been a traditional northern European speciality for centuries and traditionally, incorporates this seasoning into it, giving it a tart, vinagre like punch that is just so delicious! Since I don’t eat meat, I have developed a vegan alternative to this traditional soup, also incorporating spinach to make the traditional soup a bit lighter and removed the ham. If you are a meat eater, don’t hesitate to add a bit of ham in the cooking process and blending it together and you will get a smoky, delicious flavour.

Peas are also a very respectable source of many things. At only 74 calories per each 100 gr. of product, you get 5 to 6 gr. of fibre, 6 gr. of protein and very good levels of iron, calcium, vitamin C and magnesium along with multiple vitamins. It is also low in sugars and the carbohydrate content is of slow absorption making them perfect for weight loss diets, low carb diets, and diabetic patients (regardless of their medication of course).

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What else can I say… it is also very easy to make so totally worth trying and including this soup into your every day diets, without a doubt!

Ingredients (serves 5)

300 gr. frozen or fresh peas

300 gr. frozen spinach

1 Onion finely chopped

1 l. of vegetable stock (if doing the vegan option, if going for the traditional one, just add a 200gr. clean piece of smoked ham or a ham bone)

Dijon Mustard

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

How to…

In a very small amount of olive oil, cook the onion finely chopped until transparent. Then add the frozen peas, the spinach and add the vegetable stock (or the ham and water), salt and pepper and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Remove one cup of the peas and set aside and blend the rest of the mixture correcting the level of water, it could be too dry or too liquid and therefore your soup would be too liquid or too chunky. We want the soup to be a little chunky though, kind of thick, but of course this is a personal choice! Once the soup is roughly blended is ready to be served.

In a bowl, serve the amount of soup you wish, add a teaspoon of dijon mustard on top and some drops as decoration. Garnish with some of the peas you had set aside and if you want, with a bit of mint and enjoy. img_9888

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!

Protein Choc Pot Recipe

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Breakfast is a wonderful part of the day but sometimes is difficult to stick to healthy habits when one is half sleep with a toddler at his or her feet or simply rushing out the door to go to work or do the daily chores.

For me, the key to this is planning. I normally cook my breakfasts of Sunday for the entire week and leave them in the fridge all cute and ready to go.

In this case, I have created this scrumptious chocolate pot high in fibre, filling, super high in protein and low in fat, carbs and calories. It is also sugar free and gluten free, what a winner!

So simple to make as well!

Ingredients (per portion):

30 gr. Oat bran coarse texture

200 ml. unsweetened coconut milk

100 ml. coffee

1 tbsp pure unsweetened cocoa

1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder

How to…

Simply heat up the milk, add the coffee and mix in the cocoa and the protein powder. When there are no more lumps, add the oat bran and turn the heat off. Serve in pots and add some granola as decoration at serving time if you wish.

This will give you if the recipe is followed precisely around 210 calories, 16 carbs, 8 Fat, 15 Protein.

 

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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Healthy Smoothies 3 ways

Since I have a big batch of granola to make good use of, I have been making smoothies this week. I post way more on Instagram than I do here, so if you like my pics and posts, I recommend you to follow me on IG to get a daily update and nutritional tip 😀

A smoothie bowl is one of those things that look awesome, tastes great and it is very easy to put together. It is also nutritious and quite low in fat (depending how you make it of course) and  high in protein.

I have made these three options but there are endless possibilities that we will get to explore in other posts!

  1. Acai Bowl: really the amount of acai is one tsp. The rest is made of frozen blueberries, strawberry protein powder and coconut milk. It is vegan (if pea protein is used) and I squeeze half a lemon in it too in order to bring out the flavour. The toppings are fig and dried rose buds.img_7024
  2. Strawberry Bowl: the protein here comes from the fat free greek yogurt. Mix 150gr of it with a cup of frozen strawberries, half a lemon again and a pinch of sweetener (i have used liquid sucralose) I find that liquid sweeteners work better for really cold mixtures. Blend in the food processor until smooth, with a dash of coconut milk. For the toppings, fresh blueberries, home made granola and raspberry sauce (for this I mix 2 cups of raspberries with one cup of water, lemon and sweetener and boil until smooth, I removed the peeps with a shifter)

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  1. Matcha Vanilla Protein Bowl. Mix 1 scoop of vanilla protein with one tsp of matcha green tea and blend. Top with blueberries and kiwi fruit and some more granola.

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Have a happy weekend!

Healthy Black Bean Vegan Burgers

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Recently I went through some documentaries that enforced previous notions of what is healthy eating and how to go about it. What i didn’t know, was the impact that those decisions make in the world we live in.

The vast majority of people turn their heads to the other side, not to see. They KNOW that reality that lies within, but they do not want to acknowledge is there, because if they do, they might feel bad about themselves. They might even want to change something, and changing habits is not easy.

I have spoken about it before in this blog, you can find a long article about veganism scrolling down the page if you are interested.

However it is not really about becoming vegan, it is about gaining awareness. Awareness over the fact that according to the UN, 53% of our CO2 emissions come from the meat industry (I mean all types of meat and dairy), that is way larger than the cars, planes and industries of these world. The impact on the planet of the excessive animal protein consumption is vile. As always, there are two sides to this coin, the economic development  of certain areas depends on cattle and related business so it is not about not eating meat. It is about making the meat you consume count.

Why not start by having a vegetarian/vegan day a week? Just give it a go! It is fun, it is easy and it will spark your cooking creativity. You don’t know where to start?? Here is where. Make note on today’s recipe and try it out next Monday for a good start of the week.

Also, in terms of health benefits, these way of eating tends to be cholesterol free and lower calorie/fat so it may even help you shred a few pounds.

About these burgers, I took the recipe from another blog and I have to say, it would probably benefit from a bit of egg white to hold it together since cooking them can be a bit messy, therefore the uneven shape of mine.

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Ingredients (makes 4 large patties)

250 gr. butternut squash

1 can of black beans washed and rinsed

1/2 an onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp of cumin

1 tbsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of oats

Veggies to accompany, I used broccoli stems, lettuce leafs, avocado, hummus.

How to…

In a pan, cook the chopped onion until transparent, then add the butternut squash cut in small cubes.

Let it cook until is soft and then add the beans and spices, rinsed and let the water evaporate as much as possible, this will make the patties drier and easier to work with.

With a food processor or a hand blender, mix all the ingredients and add the oats, this will give your mixture a lot more texture. Add more if required, you want the resulting mixture to be slightly firm.

Form the patties and cool in the freezer for 30 minutes.

You can cook them in the oven for 45 minutes, or in a non sticky pan for about 15. In the oven, they could melt and become a mess, so I would rather the pan, flipping them around a couple of times and bearing in mind they will expand and become bigger so they could invade each other’s personal space. If this is something burgers feel touchy about lol.

Another solution is too cook them with metallic rings around, like the ones that restaurants use to form vertical salads.

You can use these patties to make proper burgers or just eat them with veggies and some avocado as me, because I am a low carb-er. Your choice.

I promise you, no one would be asking for a steak if you serve these.

Happy next Meatless Monday!IMG_6140

 

200 Calorie Dinner ideas: Pisto

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Spanish traditional cooking is one of the healthiest in the world, it belongs together with the Italian and Greek traditional cuisines to the Mediterranean diet  which has been acclaimed as of the best balanced in the world, together with the Japanese.

Even though both contain fair amounts of fats they are mainly monounsaturated, the Mediterranean diet with a predominance of olive oil and the Japanese cuisine with an enormous amount of fish (specially fatty fish) in it, which protects the brain and the arteries. Another commonality between the two of them is the high amount of low fat high fibre carbohydrates that they consume, traditionally wholegrain rice and wholemeal bread respectively.

Nowadays both have moved on to refined carbs, white rice and white breads, which comes with a reduction in the amount of fibre, and the respective weight gain in the population. This is also related to the younger generations buying into the burger & chips culture imported from less healthy diets like the Anglo-Saxon one.

 

In any case, it is always a good idea to revise the classics in order to rescue and reuse the best bits that we might have forgotten on the way, and today I would like to share with you a delicious recipe that I have rescued from my childhood and updated to make it lower fat and higher in protein. Since I don’t seem to have a better name for it, there you go, Pisto!

 

It’s a super easy recipe, really quick that also can be preserved in pots if you know how to do it and just open one and heat up for a super quick and healthy turn around.

Since it is really low in calories and fat, it is ideal for a light dinner or as a starter for a two course lunch.

 

Ingredients (serves 3)

1 courgette

4 small onions

1 clove of garlic

1 red pepper

1 can of peeled tomatoes (500 gr)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp ground coriander

A pinch of sweetener

3 eggs

Olive Oil

 

Optional

Sliced truffle

Truffle oil

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In a medium to large sauce pan, heat up ½ a tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and add the onions, roughly chopped, add some salt to make them “sweat” and dry a bit, once they have turned transparent, add the pepper and the garlic and let them cook for another 5 minutes. Add the chopped courgette/zuchinni, no need to peel it, as long as you wash it well. Let them cook for another couple of minutes and add the tomatoes. Mash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and add the spices to taste. The sweetener is to reduce the acidity of the tomato and it makes a huge difference in the taste.

Let the vegetables reduce for another 5 minutes.

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Pre heat the oven until 175C and fill two oven proof dishes with the vegetables. Crack an egg on top of each one of them and cook them for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven, don’t worry if they are not completely cooked, once you mix it, the heat from the vegetables will finish the job.

To give it an extra touch of glam, you truffle it up like I did yesterday.

When the eggs are cooked, take out from the oven and sprinkle with truffle, Maldon salt and olive oil infused with truffle (they sell it already like that) 1 tsp is enough.

And voila! Ready to serve!! This will serve you around 210 calories of pure vegetables and protein with some good fats, perfect to go to bed well fed and without that feeling of bloating.

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Oh, and so delicious!

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!!

Best Crustless Quiche

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In order to properly plan your meals, there are many different diet types out there, if someone is trying to lose weight, and slightly desperate to do so quickly, you can find a myriad of options that promise quick results all with a flat tummy as an advertising. Flat as in fitness model flat, not normal person on an empty stomach flat. This has been of some concern to me for a while, because I have been through many of these diets, recommended by friends, or advertised through a magazine, you name it, the choice is endless.

Now I am older, and I am wiser and I know better and I fight against these misconceptions on a daily basis, because some of this diets are just lies or stupid approaches to eating with minimum real impact on your body composition, but others, are straight harmful for your metabolism, your body and if sustained long term, some are life threatening.

The worst of these are the cleanser diets based on syrup and cayenne pepper. A combo that is meant to “activate your metabolism due some components on the cayenne pepper” and some other idiocies I have read. Our metabolism is not as naïve as we are, and the only thing that he is going to do in such case is slow down. All these juices, meal replacements, chemicals that people try to sell us with the promise of a beach body will certainly do something for you:

  1. Make you lose water (therefore the perceived weight loss)
  2. Muscle mass compromise: 90% of the time your body will consume your muscle mass for energy

So here is what happens: you don’t incorporate the nutrient x through your diet because you are master cleansing for a week for example, but your body needs it to keep normal bodily functions such as body temperature, structural cell maintenance, your heart beat… and it will start using the reserves that are available, this might be a bit of fat, but it will also be muscle tissue. Muscle in this case is not a priority for your body because muscle is a metabolically active tissue, this means that to sustain it, it requires additional energy to be sustained, whereas fat doesn’t. You see where I am going?

Your body will burn whatever is on hand to keep you warm and alive and when you are done with your diet you will have: a compromised metabolism that will literally jump over any calorie you give him, a few less pounds of water, a little less fat and a lot less muscle. The problem is that regaining muscle takes a lot longer that regaining the fat and the water, which will be restored within 1 or 2 weeks once the starvation period is over.

Basically, you are much better off eating a varied balanced and healthy diet, not only will respect your body, it will also keep you mentally on track without those dangerous feelings of deprivation that lead to binge eating.

Today, I would like to share with you a very easy recipe for a really tasty dish, a quiche but with no crust to make it a bit lighter. The carbohydrate content comes from the vegetables in the mixture and is literally packed with protein. It is also very pretty so if you have guests and you are trying to stay on track, it helps to cook things that even though are healthy, look like they aren’t.

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Ingredients (serves 6)

8 eggs (or 4 eggs and 12 egg whites for lower fat)

4 cubes of frozen spinach (fresh is better but I didn’t have any)

4/5 cherry tomatoes

1 small roulade of goat’s cheese

2 slices of smoked bacon

10 gr. of grated parmesan cheese to gratin

200 ml. light soy milk (or your milk of choice but low fat)

1/2 red onion cut in thin rings

Cut the bacon in strips and sauté them in a pan for a couple of minutes until the fat has dissolved. Add the spinach and stir well.

In a bowl, beat up the eggs and add the bacon and spinach and the milk. Mix well and pour into a quiche mold. Spread your onion rings over the surface then cut the goat’s cheese into thin-ish slices and place them nicely on over the surface of your quiche.

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Finally put the cherry tomatoes strategically to give it a bit of colour and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

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Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes at 150C.

Enjoy!!