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

 

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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!

 

Food & Colours

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We all like to eat pretty. We are more willing to try new foods when those are presented to us in a nice way, we eat with our eyes. Colourful arrangements are more succesful than boring brown bowls of lentils, delicious as those may be!

The key to helping others or ourselves try and love new foods or make our meal times for enjoyable, is to find little tricks to make our food as attractive as possible. Think about eye candy since this works for everything in life, from beautiful people to expensie clothes… everything displayed nicely is desired, and costs more.

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I have been playing around with colours lately and this is my take on green, a colour that wouldnt necessarily make part of desserts until you get familiarized with Matcha, the japanese green tea that is packed with antioxidants and stimulants that is great to burn fat and minimise the effect of the free radicals.

So what about combining the great properties of matcha powdered tea with another superfood, the chia seed?? Well then we have a lovely dessert that is full of protein, fibre, good fats, antioxidants and fat burning properties.

In case you havent heard it before, matcha is not a tea as such, it is a vibrant green powder that is made with the green tea leaf in its entirety, that is why it has such powerful benefits compared to the infusion of the leaves.

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You can find this powder in any asian shop and also in most health food stores now a days, it is quite expensive but very little goes a long way. Just half a teaspoon is enough to make a full cup of it.

The recipe for this dessert, as simple as it gets is as follows:

Ingredients (4 small portions)

4 tbsp. Chia seeds

400 ml coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

Sweetener

1 tsp matcha powder

Cherries or any other fresh berry to decorate

How to?

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the fruit, mix well with a whisk and let the chia seeds reach their full size (they absorb the liquid) until they take a loose pudding consistency.

Distribute in your ramekins or serving pots and when you serve, decorate with a cherry or berry. Very sweet, and healthy! Oh, and totally vegan so perfect for Meatless Monday!

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Tuna Tataki

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Sorry it has been a while, sometimes, life gets on the way of more important things like blogging 😉

The positive outcome is that i am having a lot more time to cook, which is obviously good news. Back in the day I used to be a picky eater, as an adolescent living at home, I didnt like fish and I didn’t like many different vegetables, it is a phase that a lot of people fo through. My redemption came by eating out. When I would refuse to try roasted red peppers at home because my mum didn’t put too much effort into making them interesting, I would give them a go in a non committal way when we were eating out. I did this through trying other people’s orders… that way if i didn’t like it there was no harm done and I could eat my own safe option.

I am sure many of you have gone through similar experiences one way or another. The reason why I am mentioning this is that one my all time claims was that everything I ate had to be very well cooked, and I would never ever eat something raw or rare… little i knew I would grow up to love sushi and sashimi and intermediate things like this tataki.

Ingredients (serves 2 -3)

100 to 150 gr. of excellent red tuna

1 scallion

Jalapeños to taste

Sesame seeds

Fresh Coriander

 

How to…

First cut and clean your tuna in a long square piece almost ready for sashimi as uniform as possible. Then tub the outside with sesame seeds.

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In a very hot pan, heat up a very small of olive oil or sesame oil if you prefer a stronger flavour. Seal the tuna on all sides for about 20 seconds on each one of then.

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Cut the piece in really thin slices, of 1/4 to a 1/2 of a centimeter and array in a tray as shown in the picture.

Chop of the scallion very thinly, the jalapeños and the coriander, keeping some full leaves to decorate and arrange on top of the sliced tuna.

Serve with soy sauce with a bit of wasabi to taste on the side.

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This recipe provides a lot of protein and it is very low in fat with barey any carbohidrate in it, so perfect for a late light dinner or to complement some plant based platter.

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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!!

Super Food Vanilla Caramel Chia Pudding

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I recently came across Chia seeds, you can find plenty of pictures on Pinterest, Instagram and other social media claiming the miraculous properties of this tiny little seeds. I read a bit about them and they really seem to be amazing, the key benefit is the high density of their nutrients, one serving is around 1 ounce (28 grams) and within it, you have 4 gr. Of Protein, 9 gr. Of fat (this is a lot, but 5 of those are Omega 3 which you would want to incorporate to your diet anyway) and 11 gr. Of Fiber. Not to mention that apparently they have more antioxidants that Blueberries, and more calcium gram on gram that dairy, which makes them specially good for people that don’t dairy, like vegans.

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Even when protein and fats can be sourced alternatively within your meals, fiber can be an elusive one specially on low carb diets when no bread, flour or pasta is included. Fiber is essential to keep you fuller for longer, so a dessert made of chia seeds could very well top up a light dinner or lunch, and keep you satisfied until the next morning/dinner.

They are packed with vitamins and all of this for only around 100 calories per serving and the best thing is that they are very versatile. You can sprinkle them on cookies, over porridge, you can have them with drinks and make desserts with them!

They don’t need to be cooked, they absorb so much liquid that they just need to be immersed in it for 24h and let them become a dessert by themselves!

This is my first attempt at them, so I only used half a portion to make one pudding, which made them more liquid than I have seen in other recipes. I think this basically comes down to personal preference and the texture that you like.

When I first tried it I was a bit wary, but it turns out it is actually pretty good! It reminded of those tapioca balls in bubble tea, but in a lot more interesting nutritional package. I totally recommend it!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 tablespoons Chia Seeds (8 if you want a more dense texture)

450 ml of Light Soya Milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon Caramel flavouring no added sugar

4 tablespoons coconut milk (reduced fat)

Sweetener of your choice to taste

How to make them…

So easy! Just mix all the liquid ingredients, if the coconut milk is not liquid, warm it up to mix it with the soya milk first, taste the flavour and add sweetener until you are satisfied.

Pour the chia seeds at the bottom of the containers where you will be making them, I have used the one from Weck because they can be closed and secured with metallic piec

Chia mas

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Add the liquid to the pots, close and shake each one for 30 seconds. Leave for 10 minutes and shake again. Shake again one hour afterwards and then you can leave them in the fridge overnight. They will be ready in the morning!

The seeds will fill up with water and duplicate their size several times. They have a gooey texture but not unpleasant and these soft vanilla and caramel flavour really make them delicious.

Don’t be scared to try new things!