Low Carb Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

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Abrupt mountain slopes rise up to the sky as if trying to touch it. Clean cold air, open lungs, sore muscles, step step step up to the top.

The sun is ruthless, blisters, sweat, the view, the silence. It’s a different world up there.

We forget that traditional food was designed to fit traditional ways of living. Sheep and cows in the high fields, men and women up with the sun and walking with the animals, to the pastures. Small wonder things like a full english breakfast and the shepherd’s pie came about.  For me, sort of small, sort of sitting on my ass half of the day and vegetarian, not such a great option, nutritionally speaking, so I have this new vegan way of cooking one that turned out absolutely delicious, and so easy!

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Ingredients (serves 3)

1 medium cauliflower

250 gr. seitan mince false meat

1/2 red onion

1 carrot

1 glass vegetable stock

1/2 tbsp flour

Salt & Pepper

Pinch of cumin

1 dash of non dairy cream

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/3 glass of white wine

Nutmeg

How to…

In a pan, cook the onion and the carrot in a bit of olive oil, until tender and transparent. Add the mince and mix well, then add the flour and let stick to the ingredients for half a minute and then add the wine and the cumin. Let it run dry and then add the vegetable stock, let it cook until the water is gone and there is a thick sauce instead. Correct the salt and pepper and distribute in three ramekin or oven proof dishes.

Boil the clean cauliflower until soft. Drain all the water and blend with the cream, the nutmeg a a pinch of salt. Taste to make sure is creamy and top your ramekins with it. If you are not vegan, you can sprinkle them with a bit of grated cheese. If vegan, with a bit of breadcrumbs.

Bake until golden brown for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

How to eat Pasta

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Pinch with a fork, take fork to mouth, place pasta in your mouth, chew until the food has become a paste, then swallow. Possibly gush down with a bit of red wine. Easy right?

Now, pasta is healthy food. Most food is actually healthy food. Look at the Italians, they have it everyday and their country is rather slim and the life expectancy is one of the longest in the world.  For most of us non Italians though, pasta has come into our homes as a cheese and butter smothered mixture that resembles more a fast food option than a real meal.

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Pasta is meant to be eaten with vegetables, fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, fresh seafood and olive oil, with only a drizzle of grana padano or parmesano on top. Not a lot of people know that a carbonara sauce has no cream, but egg yolk. Of course everyone is free to enjoy pasta as they want, but if you are looking to enjoy pasta in a delicious, healthy way, check out this recipe, which I learnt in my last trip to lake Como.

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The pasta I have used is wholegrain rye macaroni which provides 14gr of fibre per each 100 grams and its manufacturing process makes it less taxing on the blood sugar levels. Cooks in 7 minutes and it should be cooled down after boiling, this brings the glycemic index even lower. The flavour is absolutely superb.

Ingredients (serves 2)

6 tbsp home made tomato sauce

100 gr. of uncooked pasta

3 cubes of frozen spinach

1/2 onion

1 clove of garlic

100 gr. ricotta cheese

2 tbsp grated grana padano cheese

Pinch of salt

How to…

Let the spinach unfreeze for a couple of hours. Boil the pasta according to the pack instructions with salt, wash with water and keep aside. In a pan, cook the onion with the garlic in a small amount of olive oil, make sure it’s very finely cut. xt19400.jpg

When cooked, add the spinach with a pinch of salt and mix well, until it’s incorporated. In a separate bowl mix the ricotta with the spinach mixture and the pasta.

In a plate, make a base with the tomato sauce, then pile up half of the spinach pasta mix and top with the grated cheese. You can microwave for 30 seconds to make sure all the elements are warm and to melt the cheese on top.

Enjoy!

 

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!

Protein Green tea Nice cream with Cacao Nibs

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I come from the best place in the world. It’s not (only) me who says this, we are very privileged, and i like to remind myself of that as often as possible. Being grateful is part of being happy. I was born in a misty coastal region in the most septentrional part of the Iberian peninsula, this place, never conquered, never surrendered is called the Basque Country.

Nested between mountains and green as an emerald, this land goes to die in the winding, rocky cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean. Not a turquoise, sky reflecting sea… a wild, severe and feisty one more like that was claimed the lifes of many fishermen and sailors through the centuries. It’s an ancient land, one were its people speak the oldest, most mysterious language in Europe, of unknown origins. A secret language catalogued by the UN as “the hardest language to learn in the world” followed by Mandarin.

It rains a lot, that is why it’s kept it so clean and beautiful and the reason why the land blesses the inhabitants with flavourful vegetable products. The ample cold waters of the sea provide some of the tastiest fishes in the world, our green pasture feeds excellent cattle and we serve our steaks over coal in pieces that are in excess of 1 kilo of weight.

Maybe that is where my love of food first come. It is difficult not to be a foodie in the Basque Country, and it is difficult not to be disappointed when you travel. From here, I want to invite you all to come and visit my beautiful, peaceful and fantastic part of the world, you wont regret it.

Today, I want to share a small snack recipe that can double up as a breakfast of post workout meal. It is made with green tea, since Japan is one of the few places that I have travelled to and felt that the food culture was equally respectful of the raw material as my own. Different yes, but similar in its perfectionism, and for that, here is my Matcha Nice cream with Vanilla protein. I hope you like it.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 frozen chopped banana

1 scoop vanilla protein

1 tsp Matcha green tea

Dash of coconut milk

2 mini matcha choc chip cookies

Cacao nibs

Rose petals (dried)

How to…

In a blended, mix the banana, vanilla and matcha with a dash of coconut milk. Adjust the milk to your desired consistency, I wanted mine a bit firm so I put a little less.

Serve and adorne with japanese choc chip cookies, cacao nibs and rose petals.

Your children will love it, since it was cookies and everything is super healthy so win win! Have a lovely week peeps!

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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!

Mango Parfait & Food Pics

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There are very few things that beat the sweetness of a ripe mango. When I was little and globalisation wasn’t yet a thing, we only got local fruit and veg in my region. I am from the north of Spain, so that means a really good assortment of citrus, berries, melons and watermelons, and pretty much anything that grows in my sunny land.

However things like mangoes, passion fruits and avocados where completely unknown, we didn’t even know how they looked like!

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My dad on the other hand had to travel to exotic destinations for work and he brought some of those things for us to try when I was about 6 or 7. I remember that the first time I tried a Mango, I thought it tasted like “pine tree”. I was very creative describing flavours but i didn’t have any other reference. Let’s just say I wasn’t a big fan at the time. Nowadays it’s one of my favourite fruits and I get very protective of a good ripe mango I have been keeping for a special moment.

These pictures are 3 different settings with 3 different light situations for the same parfait. The breakfast is made of a layer of home made granola, greek yogurt, raspberry coulis and Mango.

To make the raspberry coulis you have to boil 1 cup of frozen raspberries with 1/2 cup of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon and some sweetener, I used sucralose in this case. Let simmer for 10 minutes and then use a ricer to remove the seeds. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 10 days and use as sauce for cheese, yogurts, cakes etc.

Lots of protein in this recipe, good sugars (very good pre or post workout) and fibre from the granola and the fruit.

About the photography, I just wanted to show you how much can a setting and the light change the look of a dish! Which one is your favourite??

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Quinoa Salad, Beet humus and Creamy Tahini dressing

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Long title for a laborious recipe. It is not difficult, but it does make the kitchen quite dirty since you have cook a few things separately. However it is great to prepare in advance and have it ready for later if you have invitees.

It is a vegan dish, with vegetable origin protein (chick peas & quinoa) and lots of fibre. It is also quite pretty and colorful and a great way to convince your children to eat their veggies.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the Quinoa Salad:

50 gr. of quinoa per person

1 fresh tomato peeled and chopped

1/2 spring onion

1/2 an avocado per person

Black sesame seeds to decorate

Crushed pistachios

Pomegranate 

For the dressing:

1 tbsp. Tahini

1 tsp. almond butter

1 tsp. soya sauce

1/2 tsp. curcuma

1 tsp. agave nectar

Salt & pepper to taste

Lemon juice

For the humus:

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups chick peas

salt

1 tsp beetroot powder

1 tbsp. tahini

Juice of one lemon

1/2 a garlic clove.

Cook the quinoa on water with a bit of salt, boil for 16 minutes, whisk with a fork once cooked and let cool down. Add the tomato and the onion.

Blend all the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside.

For the humus, blend all the ingredients together and correct to your liking. More lemon juice if too bitter, more olive oil to make it sweeter. Prepare this in advance and let cool in the fridge.

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To build the salad place some lettuce leaves or rocket on a plate, add the quinoa in the middle. Cut and place the avocado on top nicely. Place the humus in a pipping nozzle and distribute them in your plate. Add one tbsp of the dressing over the quinoa and then sprinkle with the pomegranate and pistachios.

Voila!! Lots of going around but nothing terrible right??

Have a lovely rest of the week!!

Coconut Raspberry bowl

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Travelling means I am away from my kitchen so I haven’t been able to cook much at all, however before I left I made this very special cocobowl and I kept it for a rainy day.

Coconuts are an excellent for many reasons, everything about them is usable, you can eat the flesh and it’s filling and delicious, you can drink the water, full of electrolytes, use the oil to cook or in your skin or hair for hydration of nutrition and when there is nothing else to eat, you can use the shells to makes bowls or bikini tops (lol).

As a final giveaway, the coconut provides us with coconut flour which is absolutely fabulous to substitute regular flour with way more fibre than the regular wheat one and very low in carbs.

I (place big heart here) coconuts.

Peace & Love!

Fab & Healthy Rhubarb Crumble

 

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Crumbles are one of the easiest recipes to adapt to low carb and since they are mainly made of fruit, they respond very well to the change and you can barely tell the difference. In this case I have taken on the traditional rhubarb crumble and it has turned out delicious.

Can you believe that people in Spain have never heard of Rhubarb? A few years ago when I first tried to replicate this recipe, I struggled a lot to find it, I had to order it and it took a week to come. I started then to research why was that and apparently it is due to the fact that Spain has good weather and great soil. Ha!

According to my findings, rhubarb is a vegetable that grows in soils that are not great for other plants and they have enormous amounts of oxalic acid, which makes it potentially poisonous to humans, specially in summer and autumn when the concentration has become higher. Don’t worry though, the poison in the leaves, so as long as you stick to the stems, you should be fine.

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It is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cure for constipation and it is also good for mouth sores although the acid content attacks the enamel so be careful with consuming it very often. Due to this content, it can block the iron absorption so bear that in mind when composing your menu, it may not be the best dessert for a lentil soup.

Made like this, the Rhubarb Crumble is Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo friendly, low carb, has no added sugar and it is ok for diabetics. Perfect to have a sweet finish to your meal and super easy to make.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500 gr. rhubarb stems

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbsp. xylitol

For the crumble

80 gr. coconut oil or butter (if not vegan)

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. almond meal

1 tbsp. xylitol

How to…

Chop the rhubarb in 2 cm long pieces and heat up in a pan with the xylitol and the ginger until it is soft, about 8 minutes. Try for flavour, the rhubarb’s acidity varies and it could need more sweetener.

In a bowl, mix the oil/butter, coconut flour, almond meal and xylitol and work with your hands until you get a crumbly texture.

Distribute the rhubarb in 4 small ramekins, top with the crumble and place in the oven for 15 minutes at 160 degrees. Check that the tops of the crumble and nice and golden and take out when they look ready. The coconut flour takes longer to change colour so bear that in mind.

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Serve with soy cream or coconut yogurt mixed with cream (to lighten up consistency) on the side, or if not vegan, with normal cream or low fat yogurt mixed with milk. The sauce should be a bit liquid so you can pour it over the crumble while it’s warm, it gives a nice sweet and cold contrast.

Some people eat it with custard or vanilla ice cream so… take your pick!

I decorated mine with flowers from my garden and mint leaves.

Enjoy!