Fit & Healthy Pumpkin Pie

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Hold my hand and fly with me over the night clouds, look at the ghost and witches running, the vampires and mummies lurking and the werewolves howling to the moon. Technological development means nothing tonight, we are back to being who we really are, we are unleashing our atavistic basic souls.

I hope your Halloween was nice and scary, I would like to share with you a version of the traditional Libby’s pumpkin pie that you can use to make the most of those carved scary squashes leftovers without feeling too guilty.

This spiced, warm delicious recipe has been adapted for diabetics shaping sugar for xylitol and the traditional crust for a rye flour one which is much higher in fibre and of course, wholegrain.

To be honest, the taste was fab and I think you will not notice the difference, but it the difference in nutritional values it’s very substantial.

Ingredients (serves 8)

For the crust

1 1/2 Cups whole grain Rye Flour

1/2 half a tsp salt

1/4 cup margerine

1/4 butter or coconut oil

a splash of cold water

For the filling

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

large eggs

1 can (15 oz.) Pumpkin Pure or roasted pumpkin 

1 can (12 fl. oz.)  Evaporated Milk

unbaked 20 cm  deep-dish pie shell

Whipped cream (optional)

How to…

Butter a 22 cm pie plate or skillet and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Add the shortening and butter (or coconut oil) un small chunks and blend with two spoons until the mixture resembles a coarse mixture.

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Add enough ice water to the mixture (a little at the time) while mixing with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough is formed. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Sprinkle with flour the top of the dough and cover with another sheet of plastic. Rolling from the center, roll until the dough is about a half a centimetre thick. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap, turn the dough over and lay onto the pie plate leaving the top  piece of plastic on. Press the pie dough lightly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to overnight.

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In the mean time, mix sweetener, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat the eggs in large bowl. Stir in the pumpkin and xylitol and spice mixture. Then start stirring in the evaporated milk.
Take the pie dough out of the freezer and let unfreeze for five minutes before pouring the mixture into it.

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Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 215C. Without opening the door, reduce temperature to 180° C and bake for another 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. I have topped it with sugar free whipped cream and caramelised pumpkin seeds.

To caramelise them, just toast them on a pan with a tsp of xylitol and then pour onto a stone worktop to let cool.

 

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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

 

Nutty Caramel Healthy Granola

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I have read somewhere that to make granola is so easy it can be hardly called recipe. Indeed is easy, however if you have never done it, some basic instructions would be appreciated even if is only useful to avoid having to try a couple of things before it works out.

Granola is very fashionable at the moment. When people are becoming more and more aware of how bad the breakfast cereals are for you (and your kids) in reality, ladden with refined sugars and hardly any real nutritional value other than lots of fast burning carbs, homemade things that SOUND healthier are rising in popularity. Problem? Well if you have a look at the amount of sugars contained in most store sold granolas, they should actually be considered a dessert. Because let’s be honest, non refined sugars like honey and syrups, are still sugars.

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Nothing wrong with a bit, but often difficult to eat the recommended dosage. The key to a granola versus a normal muesli is that has been oven baked and it is caramelised which makes it crunchy and sweet. In this recipe I have tried two things, one with a low carb sugar, Agave syrup, and the other one with birch sugar, xylitol. Both of them have the advantage of a low GI (Glycemic Index) making the carbohydrates slower to burn sustaining energy levels longer. The benefit of the xylitol over the agave is the amount of calories since agave has pretty much the same as regular sugar and is very high in fructose (not so good), so the version with xylitol is better but the flavour is different to the traditional ones made with honey and the sorts.

In any case, this is not breakfast cereal, this is something you can add to a smoothie bowl, a yogurt or a dessert. Is it not expensive, adds really good taste to your food and it’s visually very pretty which also makes you like more what you are eating.

For example, a whipped coconut yogurt with some berries and granola is  a fantastic alternative to a tradicional sweet dessert, a breakfast or an afternoon snack.

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Ingredients:

500 gr. oats

10 hazelnuts, chopped

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

1/2 cup raisins

2/3 tbsp. coconut oil

2/3 tbsp. xylitol syrup or agave nectar

How to…

Preheat the oven to 165C and in a large bowl melt the coconut oil and the xylitol. The add in all the ingredients except the sliced almonds and the raisins.

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Make sure all the ingredients are mixed with the oil and xylitol and spread evenly on an over tray. Bake for 15 minutes, then bring out and mix in the almonds and the raisins and get back into the oven  for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Wait until it is completely cold before storing. It can be kept in an air tight container for about 6 weeks.

Enjoy!

 

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.

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Skinny Savoury Pumpkin Fritters & Avocado Mash

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With Halloween almost upon us, I thought today it would be the best day to share with you a recipe that features (again) the star ingredient of the season, PUMPKIN!!

In this case a delicious one we had a couple of weeks ago for brunch in east London.

Asian style pumpkin fritters with lots of spices and avocado mash.

Great for breakfast or brunch, with healthy fats from the avocado, slow carbs and high in fiber, and if you make them like this, also very low in fat and quite calorie controlled!

This version is vegan but it was quite difficult to pan fry the batter, I think that adding a couple of whisked eggs to the mixture would help with the consistency.

It would also be great with a poached egg on top.

Ingredients (for 2 or 3 people)

350 grams of butternut squash or pumpkin

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of grated ginger

½ onion finely chopped

1 red chili

2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander

1 tbsp mustard with seeds

1 tbsp black sesame seeds

2 tbsp oat bran or oat flour

Salt & pepper

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For the avocado mash…

1 avocado

½ lemon

salt

To make these, boil the pumpkin until soft and add all the spices. Mash until everything is blended. Spray a non-sticky pan with extra virgin olive oil and when hot, add a dollop of the mixture, spread to form a 5 cm oblong fritter and let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes. With the help of a spatula, turn around and repeat. If your pan is big enough probably worth making 2 or 3 at the time.

It was delicious with a bit of Jalapeno Tabasco sauce too.

While they cook, you can mash in a bowl a whole ripe avocado with a dash of lemon juice and some salt (to your taste). Serve together with a slice of lemon and some salad.

Happy Halloween!

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