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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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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Quick Healthy Paella

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Paella, one of the most easy yet complex dishes to master.

Every home has it’s ingredient mix and particularities that make it that little bit special and just better than everyone else’s!

In the context of a low fat, low carb diet, a paella is simply an impossibility. By definition, made with round grain white rice, which behaves like pure sugar in your system, and the high amount of olive oil used to make it sweet and soft is the anti diet dish. However, as with everything, there are ways around it to achieve, with very little compromise, a low GI, low fat, high protein dish that you can enjoy whenever you want.

I have substituted the traditional white rice with the black rice alternative I mentioned some time ago, and I have reduced the amount of olive oil to the bare minimum.

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Ingredients (for 1)

60 gr. of black rice (uncooked)

100 to 120 gr. of diced chicken breast

1/3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

50 gr. finely chopped onion

50 gr. finely chopped red pepper

1/3 chicken stock cube

Salt

In a small cooking pot, heat up the olive oil and add the onion and the pepper at the same time. Let them cook for 3 to 5 minutes until they have started to soften. Salt the chicken and add it in, let cook for a couple of minutes.

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Add the dry rice and mix well for another minute. Then add the same volume of water as the rice occupied in its container. Add the stock cube, let simmer for 25 minutes without moving it any more.

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I like my rice a bit al dente, once cooked, check if it’s cooked to your taste and if not, add 5 more minutes. You might need to add some more water as well.

The water you add should last the full cooking time, it not, you might be cooking at too high heat, that will affect the outcome so lower heat and soft simmering is better.

Spanish Lentil Soup

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There are two ways of cooking this absolutely delicious but not very good looking dish. The vegetarian way, or the traditional way. The difference is the chorizo and the type of stock. I will describe here the non vegetarian version, but if you want to avoid meat, just avoid the chorizo and swap the beef stock for vegetable stock.

This is a high fiber, high protein, low GI, Spanish traditional dish that every grandmother takes pride in. It tastes like “home” and can make grown ups feel like children again. On top of that, belongs to the acclaimed Mediterranean diet, because it’s packed with low energy release lentils and due to high fiber content, is very filling.

Lentils are at their best the day after they have been prepared, since all the flavours have then had the chance to mix properly.   You can prepare a big pot and it will last for 4 days in the fridge, but if you have leftovers, you can freeze them.

This is an easy recipe, but it takes a little while to prepare since I don’t use the pressure cooker, but a normal pot, looking at them every 10 minutes to make sure they are going as they should… of course, you don’t need to do this, but this is one of those dishes to which the secret ingredient is… LOVE 😉

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Ingredients:

Brown lentils (around 50 gr per person)

1 tomato

1 leek

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 carrot

1 l. beef stock (or more depending on the size)

Salt

1 piece of Chorizo per person (cured chorizo, one inch long pieces)

Sweet paprika powder

Olive oil

In a big pot, put the tomato, leek, carrot, onion and one clove of garlic, all peeled and clean but NOT CHOPPED. The vegetable in whole, wash the lentils in water and add them. Then add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Check regularly that it has enough water and if you see that is getting dry add some more water, you don’t want a loose soup but more of a stew consistency, but this will be achieved at the very end so it needs to be somehow loose at this point.

Take out the vegetables (onion, leek, tomato and carrot since the garlic will have dissolved by now) and blend them with a hand blender until they are a puree. Add half of the puree back to the soup, and the rest, you can reserve in a plastic container and freeze to make another pot of lentils in the future.

Let the soup keep boiling and in a separate pan put 2 tbsp. of olive oil and fry the rest of the garlic (whole pieces) in it until golden brown. Then remove the garlic and add one or two teaspoons of paprika powder to the oil, then add the oil to the soup and expect some smoke. No worries, it’s all good. Mix well and try the lentils. If they are soft, and melt in your mouth, they are ready! You can then add the chorizo and cook very slowly for another couple of minutes. Let them sit there for a few minutes before eating, or wait until cool and enjoy the next day.

Enjoy!!

Spanish Fish Stew

 

 

 

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Happy Monday, so to speak!

Today I would like to share with you a typical Spanish dish, that I have adapted slightly to be just a little bit healthier. It’s origin is in the north of the country, which being on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, it has one of the most stunning cooking styles (and ingredients) in the world.

This is a dish that can be prepared in advanced, making it very handy when you have people over, but also very good to have a warm delicious dinner waiting for you at home during the week. It is a bit time consuming, and has one step that even if it’s difficult, it can be intimidating for beginners…

Ingredients (serves 5):

100 gr of prawns (uncooked)

250 gr clams (with shell)

100 gr calamari rings

100 gr. mussels

250 gr monkfish (or hake if you can’t find it or as a cheaper alternative)

2 leeks

2 onions

1 carrot

A pinch of tarragon

1/2 a small glass of Brandy

1 cup fresh chopped tomato

2 cubes of fish stock

1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Kitchen equipment: a blender and a match

First prepare the fish stock. Traditional recipes can be found to do this the old fashion way, I personally don’t have the time and I always find it impossible to make it taste strong enough, so I cheat and use fish stock cubes. 2 dissolved in 1 liter of hot water. Be my guest if you want to create your own fumee… you have all my respect!

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Once the stock is ready and waiting to be used, we need to peel, clean and chop roughly our onions, leeks and carrot and cook them on medium heat until they are soft, then add salt and a pinch of tarragon. Bring up the temperature to the max and after 1 minute, add the brandy liquor and be prepared with the match. Light it up and let the alcohol burn until the flame dies for itself, it wont take more than a few seconds, don’t worry.

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Then add the tomato and mix and immediately after, the fish stock. Bring back to medium heat and let boil for another 20 minutes.

In the meantime, wash and chop the fish and the seafood except the clams, that should remain in water until it’s time to use them. Add salt and pepper to the fish and reserve.

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When the soup is ready, blend it all together until smooth and then add the clams, and then the seafood and fish. Then try the it and correct the salt only if necessary. Let cook for 3 more minutes and leave it to rest until cool. You can serve immediately, but I recommend waiting until the next meal time or even next day. You can also freeze it in portions.

Normally the recipe has bread to thicken the sauce, I have added one more onion for this purpose to avoid unnecessary carbs.

This is an absolutely delicious treat for those in a diet, and simply for anyone looking to impress dinner invitees!