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

90 Calorie Protein Punch Easy Egg Muffins

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How did I never think of this is a mystery, but we all have lots to learn, and I have learned about these beauties this weekend. I use an app called Fitocrazy to log my workouts, it provides support for fitness purposes and it’s full of people with very inspiring ideas, one of them was these egg muffins. Even though I seem to be the last one to find out about them, I thought I would give them a go.

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Before sharing the recipe, which is very very easy, I would like to stress the importance of snacking as part of a well balanced and sustainable way of eating. Most experts recommend doing 5 to 6 meals a day, smaller in size, the main advantages of these are two:

1. Keeps your metabolism active: when you eat every few hours your body keeps receiving fuel and so he keeps using it freely.

2. Avoids cravings and overeating at the main meal times. If you get to lunch starving, you will jump on literally anything, from crisps to sweets. If you eat something before hand, you will have better control over your appetite.

What should a good snack then have? Protein for starters, it is very important for satiety and muscle mass maintenance. Carbohydrate to make sure that protein is used best as possible, it should be a healthy source of carb to keep you fuller for longer and then some type of fat, ideally the least abundant component.

Between your lunch and dinner, one or two of these with a piece of fruit (an apple for example) will keep you energized and full until dinner. I have made these with full eggs, but I would recommend also to substitute a few eggs with egg whites for more protein and less fat depending on your goals.

Finally, I have made these vegetarian but they are awesome with bacon or chicken in them for additional flavor.

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Ingredients (for 6 muffins)

6 eggs

1 cube of frozen spinach

1 tomato

1/2 onion

2 tbsp. grated Grana-Padano or parmesan cheese

Salt & Pepper

How to…

In a frying pan, sauté the tomato and onion with salt & pepper for 3 to 5 minutes. In he meantime, boil the spinach until is loose and then remove all the water. In a bowl, beat up the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper again and add the vegetables and one tablespoon of grated cheese.

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Mix well and pour into muffin liners, the metallic are best to avoid the egg from sticking to the paper (it does stick a lot). Sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese and bake for about 20 minutes at 150 C.

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They last in the fridge for around 4 to 5 days so it’s a great grab & go snack or breakfast if you are running late!

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Enjoy!

Super Light Detox Veggie Bowl

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This soup is specially designed for the following occasions:

  1. When feeling sick and nothing solid really appeals
  2. After xmas: when you feel that just about anything you put in your mouth will make you explode
  3. After any holiday when you have maybe overdone it a bit with the chips
  4. Before any holiday that requires you to show off the bikini body (and of course you are not ready just yet)
  5. In winter when you are starving to warm you up and fill you up so you don’t eat too much of any other thing on the table

The original name of this soup is Julianne Soup due to the way in which the veggies are chopped (Julianne style) and it is honestly the simplest soup you can possibly make, very difficult to screw up and genuinely yummy.

It has only super low calorie ingredients it is almost virtually fat free and the only ingredient that could be higher GI is the carrot (high GI when is cooked) which you can totally leave out and it will be just as nice.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1/2 white cabbage

1 large onion

1 leek

2 carrots (optional)

250 gr of mushrooms

2 tomatoes seeds removed

Handful of spinach

Salt

2 Vegetable or beef stock cubes

Ground coriander

Fresh ground pepper

Chop all the ingredients in fine stripes (see picture) and clean and peel the mushrooms, discard the pods (you can use them in an omelette later on) and chop them too.

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In a good cooking pot (I use Le Creuset, but any good anti adherent one would do) and grease the base with an olive oil spray. Cook the onions alone for about 5 minutes in medium heat and then add the other vegetables except the mushrooms and the spinach. Add a pinch of salt and let them “sweat” to get rid of the water, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes.

Boil 1.5 liters of water in a kettle and add to the vegetables with the 2 cubes of stock. If you want a vegetarian/vegan option stay away from the beef flavor but it is entirely up to your personal preference.

Let it boil on low heat for 45 minutes and season to taste with the spices and then the mushrooms. Turn off the heat and let it sit for another 5 to 10 minutes.

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This soup can be kept in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days and it is perfect to cook once and then just grab and reheat. Great for school nights and it comes at about 90 calories per portion, with a very filling result. WINNER!

Easy Healthy Dinners: Lamb & Spinach gratin

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This is a really easy way of using leftovers, when preparing some spinach from my previous post Almost Creamed Spinach, just cook some extra and keep it in the fridge to use the following nights!

For this recipe, just pan fry in a really hot pan a 350 gr lamb fillet, then slice in half and then each half in smaller pieces (around 1 cm thick). Reheat the spinach and sprinkle some grated cheese on top.

Bon appetite!

Healthy Almost creamed spinach

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So before we jump into the weekend, I would like to share with you an old favourite of mine. It is a spinach based dish that can work as side dish to a main of meat of fish or tofu, or as a starter, minding the portions of course.

Spinach is one of those super foods that deserves the name and lives up to it, anyone born in the 70s and 80s will remember how Popeye convinced us all that spinaches would make us big and strong and you know what? he was right!

This green leaf has plenty of desirable effects in our body, it is low in carbs and fat like all the vegetables, but also it is very high in protein, nearly 3 gr per 100 gr of product, and also very high in fibre. This means that we fill fuller for the right reasons, and it helps the intestinal transit. Over and above this, there is the high contents of iron, Vitamin A, C, K and some of the group B and high contents of magnesium, calcium and potassium, all these, key to strong bones, and to avoid water retention.

It is very antioxidant and helps improving your vision and has some components that are responsible for strength building on your muscles (Popeye!!)

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The downside is that is not very good for people with kidney stones since there is a component in them that could worsen this condition, but if you are in tip top condition, jump ahead.

Some people don’t like spinach because they consider them bland and can only enjoy them when they come as a side of creamed spinach, which is a shame because all that cream and cheese kind of take away the benefit of it.

My version of this dish is much lower in fat and much higher in protein since I add cooked ham to it, making it more of a starter or even as a light dinner option.

Excuse the fast taken pics, but I hope they look yummy enough to make you want to try it.

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 squares of frozen spinach (or two portions as stated in the packaging)

120 gr of cooked ham

1/4 onion

1 clove of garlic

1/2 tbsp. of olive oil

1 tomato

50 gr of gruyere/parmesan cheese grated

Salt

In a cooking pot, cook the frozen spinach for about 5 minutes or until the frozen blocks are totally undone. Then rinse and let in a strainer to loose the water.

Then chop the onion really finely and the garlic clove and sauté them in a pan on medium heat. Cut the ham in little pieces. My trick is to make rolls and then cut it with the scissors. Then chop the tomato in small cubes.

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Put the heat up and when the pan is hotter add the ham, ideally, it needs to be a bit toasted outside, then add the tomato cubes and salt. Let simmer in low heat fro 5 minutes, then sprinkle the cheese and let it melt on top for a couple of minutes. Serve immediately.