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!

 

 

Protein Vegan Pasta Bolognesa

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If you read my blog on a regular basis, you probably know by now, I am slightly obsessed with protein. This is because I know for a fact that in this particular macronutrient is were the basis for a more balanced diet lays.

Since I stopped eating meat and I only fish on occasions, how to get high amounts of protein in my meals has become a concern and I am always looking for alternatives to traditional lean proteins (your poultry, red meat etc.)

Even though the body can survive on a much smaller percentage of protein than we think, when we are talking about diet and weight control, protein has the ability to keep us fuller for longer and our body uses up about 30% of its total calorie content in digestion. This is called the foods thermogenic effect. I am constantly striving to offer you delicious, yet healthy alternatives to traditional foods, in case like me, you are on the unfortunate part of the world that puts weight easily.

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In this case I wanted to show you a pasta dish that is made with chick pea fusilli. That is it, I swear to you that this is the only ingredient, 100% chick pea flour. It provides 6 gr. of fibre, 50 gr. of carbohydrates and a whooping 20gr. of protein per 100 gr. My portion though is 50 grams and I add to it some vegan “mince” with home made tomato sauce, fresh cherry tomatoes, yellow and red pepper and fresh basil. I cook my pasta for 9 minutes with a handful of broccoli florets thrown in half way, to increase the size of my plate adding goodness but not calories.

I am sure you will be able to find similar alternatives in supermarkets near you, they are increasingly popular. You can find them lentil, soja and chick pea based and even though the brands have different flavours, you can try until you find your favourite. This one tasted just like regular fusilli. The added benefit is that these are gluten free!

This is a way to get your family to eat less meat and no one will notice the difference!

Ingredients (serves 2)

100 gr. chick pea fusilli

200 ml. home made tomato sauce (no added sugar)

5 cherry tomatoes

1 cup red and yellow pepper chopped

Fresh basil

2 cups broccoli

2 tbsp. of parmesan cheese or vegan alternative

115 gr. of vegan “mince” or extra lean mince meat

How to…

In a cooking pot, boil some water with salt and add the fusilli, let cook for 4 minutes and then add the broccoli and let boil for another 5 minutes (check your pasta cooking instructions and add the broccoli just 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time).

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Once cooked, throw away the water and reserve the pasta. In the same cooking pot, add the cherry tomatoes and the chopped peppers and spray with olive oil, let cook for a couple of minutes and add the tomato sauce. Add the vegan mince, this is already cooked so you wont have to wait long. Mix in the pasta and broccoli and 1 tbsp of the vegan or parmesan cheese.

Divide in two plates and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and fresh basil and enjoy.

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

Skinny Lentil & Carrot Thai Soup

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In this unusual “heatwave” for the time of the year, I am in the midst of looking for healthy alternatives to some of my favourite foods. I don’t know about you, but I have put on some weight over xmas and I am still in the process of getting rid of it.

For this, I have started a bodyweight training program with a couple of friends together with some weight training and cardio, up to 6 days a week on a good week. How are you guys dealing with your xmas excesses? Or even better… don’t you have any regrets and now you are laughing at all of us? Lucky you if so!

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If you are like me and want to drop a few pounds and go back to your weight, you can have this super healthy soup for you lunch three days a week with some salad, it is very filling and well balanced and quite low in calories. One bowl will provide you with around 260 calories depending on how much fat you add when you cook. If you stick to this recipe that is more or less what you will get!

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Ingredients (serves 5)


1 onion finely chopped

2 carrots grated 

1/2 red pepper finely chopped

1 cm fresh grated ginger 

1 cup red lentils

2 tsp Thai red curry paste

1/2 can coconut milk

Fresh coriander to garnish

1 liter vegetable stock

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt to taste

How to?

In a large cooking pot, heat up one tbsp of olive oil and cooj the onion with the grated ginger, after a couple of minutes add the pepper and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the carrot and the red curry paste. Once you can smell the curry aroma, add the lentils and the stock and let cook for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook for another 10 until the lentils are tender.

Serve with fresh coriander and Enjoy!

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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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Mediterranean Summer Vegetables & Herbs

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This is one of those recipes that is classic, easy, delicious and uber healthy. Why is this? it is low in fat, it is made solely of fresh veggies. There is a similar version of it in most mediterranean countries, it is called ratatouille in France, Pisto in Spanish and Kapunata or Ciambotta in Italy, Shakshuka in the Middle East and Menemen in Turkey. Take your pick! The differences in these recipes are less than the similarities. They can incorporate potatoes or aubergines, be more or less spicy and the herbs utilised vary a bit depending on the region.

This is a traditional summer dish for a very simple reason, the ingredients used mature in summer! If you are lucky enough to ever have had a vegetable garden or have friends and family who do, you probably know that there is about a month, in which tomatoes, green beans and zucchinis come out of your ears. You will be stuck with way more zucchinis than you would possibly be able to eat in three months. When your vegetable garden is big and the amount of veggies is well… overwhelming, you have to find creative ways to preserve it and this was one of them in the past.

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The same way you can make fruit preserves, you can make preserves for vegetables, so this recipe was made in bulk and then set in jars to be consumed during winter, when there was scarcity of fresh ingredients.

In this case, since i do not have a vegetable garden, I have just made enough for a few portions that can be kept in the fridge or frozen if needed. The base recipe is just vegetables, but in most cases some protein is added to make the dish complete, so it is served as side dish to meats, fish or my favourite, with an egg. You can just crack the egg on top of it and let it poach in the hot vegetables, or fry it separately and add it later, like I have done in this case.

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It takes some cooking time to make this dish, but it is uncomplicated and pretty much anyone can master it, no problem.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 zucchinis 

2 large onions

2 cloves of crushed fresh garlic

1 red bell pepper

800 gr. of ripe peeled and chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Sucralose sweetener

Herbs & spices: fresh basil, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger and fresh oregano

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Start by washing all the vegetables and peel the onions. Chop the onions in small quarters of less than 1cm. In a large bowl, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook the onions for a few minutes, while you cut the other vegetables. Straight after the onion, add the red pepper, the crushed garlic and sprinkle with salt. while it cooks, chop the zucchinis in small pieces and add to the pan too. After 3 to 5 more minutes, add the chopped tomatoes and the herbs together with the salt, pepper and sweetener to tamper the acidity of the tomatoes. Now how much of the herbs? only you can answer this, but it is very much a matter of personal taste. As a guidance, I would add a tsp of each one of them, a little more ground of the ground coriander and a little less of cumin, because it is quite overpowering in this dish.

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Let cook for about 1 hour, at low heat so it simmers slowly with a lid on and stirring every 10 minutes.

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Serve with fresh basil and an a fried egg for a low fat, low carb, high protein, super nutritious lunch or dinner. Happy weight loss!

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Figs, Pine Nuts & Goats Cheese salad

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Well.. what is there NOT to like about this combination? In case as me you were not a massive pine nut fan, all you need to do is toast them in a pan, and then try them warm, they are supper nutty and delicious. This is a very summery dish, that can also lead well into autumn due to the cheese and the fact that the best time for sweet juicy figs is actually September.

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Figs are often considered a fruit that is extremely high in sugar,  and they may not be dieting material if you are planning on eating a whole plate of them. On the other hand, they have a lot of fibre and aid digestion, protecting our stomach at the same time. On the back of this, figs are excellent laxatives and they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, helping your body slow the ageing process.

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Additionally they have been proven to control the blood sugar levels and figs and their leaves are recommended for people with diabetes for this reason. They are also very effective to help you expectorate when you have a cold or the flu, this is, they help get rid of the mucus in the respiratory track.

Add some protein into the mix and green leaves to increase the fibre and satiating power and you will have an awesome starter or a light dinner.IMG_6528

Ingredients (serves 2)

3 figs

60 gr. of goat’s cheese or vegan alternative

2 tbsp. of pine nuts (toasted)

Mix leaf salad

Olive oil & balsamic vinegar

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How to…

Choose a pretty serving dish. People will be more willing to eat your food if it looks beautiful. It is what it is… we eat with our eyes!

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Lay your mix salad leaves on it forming a bed. Chop your figs in quarters and lay them on top of the lettuce alternating the tops and bottoms like in the picture, it will not alter the flavour, but looks better 😉

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Crumble your goat’s cheese or vegan cheese with your fingers and distribute evenly over the figs, then top it up with the pine nuts. To toast the pine nuts, simple place them in a hot pan with no oil until brown, and move them around every now and then so they don’t burn. If you want the salad to be warm toast put your pine nuts when they are still hot.

Dress with one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, and one of balsamic vinegar.

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