Healthy Smoothies 3 ways

Since I have a big batch of granola to make good use of, I have been making smoothies this week. I post way more on Instagram than I do here, so if you like my pics and posts, I recommend you to follow me on IG to get a daily update and nutritional tip 😀

A smoothie bowl is one of those things that look awesome, tastes great and it is very easy to put together. It is also nutritious and quite low in fat (depending how you make it of course) and  high in protein.

I have made these three options but there are endless possibilities that we will get to explore in other posts!

  1. Acai Bowl: really the amount of acai is one tsp. The rest is made of frozen blueberries, strawberry protein powder and coconut milk. It is vegan (if pea protein is used) and I squeeze half a lemon in it too in order to bring out the flavour. The toppings are fig and dried rose buds.img_7024
  2. Strawberry Bowl: the protein here comes from the fat free greek yogurt. Mix 150gr of it with a cup of frozen strawberries, half a lemon again and a pinch of sweetener (i have used liquid sucralose) I find that liquid sweeteners work better for really cold mixtures. Blend in the food processor until smooth, with a dash of coconut milk. For the toppings, fresh blueberries, home made granola and raspberry sauce (for this I mix 2 cups of raspberries with one cup of water, lemon and sweetener and boil until smooth, I removed the peeps with a shifter)

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  1. Matcha Vanilla Protein Bowl. Mix 1 scoop of vanilla protein with one tsp of matcha green tea and blend. Top with blueberries and kiwi fruit and some more granola.

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Have a happy weekend!

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Figs, Pine Nuts & Goats Cheese salad

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Well.. what is there NOT to like about this combination? In case as me you were not a massive pine nut fan, all you need to do is toast them in a pan, and then try them warm, they are supper nutty and delicious. This is a very summery dish, that can also lead well into autumn due to the cheese and the fact that the best time for sweet juicy figs is actually September.

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Figs are often considered a fruit that is extremely high in sugar,  and they may not be dieting material if you are planning on eating a whole plate of them. On the other hand, they have a lot of fibre and aid digestion, protecting our stomach at the same time. On the back of this, figs are excellent laxatives and they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, helping your body slow the ageing process.

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Additionally they have been proven to control the blood sugar levels and figs and their leaves are recommended for people with diabetes for this reason. They are also very effective to help you expectorate when you have a cold or the flu, this is, they help get rid of the mucus in the respiratory track.

Add some protein into the mix and green leaves to increase the fibre and satiating power and you will have an awesome starter or a light dinner.IMG_6528

Ingredients (serves 2)

3 figs

60 gr. of goat’s cheese or vegan alternative

2 tbsp. of pine nuts (toasted)

Mix leaf salad

Olive oil & balsamic vinegar

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How to…

Choose a pretty serving dish. People will be more willing to eat your food if it looks beautiful. It is what it is… we eat with our eyes!

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Lay your mix salad leaves on it forming a bed. Chop your figs in quarters and lay them on top of the lettuce alternating the tops and bottoms like in the picture, it will not alter the flavour, but looks better 😉

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Crumble your goat’s cheese or vegan cheese with your fingers and distribute evenly over the figs, then top it up with the pine nuts. To toast the pine nuts, simple place them in a hot pan with no oil until brown, and move them around every now and then so they don’t burn. If you want the salad to be warm toast put your pine nuts when they are still hot.

Dress with one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, and one of balsamic vinegar.

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Leek & Goat’s Cheese High Protein Quiche

 

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Because eating well is a daily effort, and because we don’t have as much time as we would like to cook and become domestic goddesses, we need to find the perfect balance between healthy delicious and quick & easy.

There is a few things that fall under these category and this is one of them. A quiche is by traditional standards a fairly easy thing too cook, although not so easy to make perfect, it does take time, specially if you are making the dough from scratch. The second problem is the high amount of saturated fat in it, first with the butter in the crust, and secondly the wooping amount of cream in the mixture and the fat contained in the egg yolks.

So basically not the best idea if you are trying to be “good” or watch what you eat, but it is so tempting, so delicious and versatile… it is good both warm and cold, can be stored in the fridge for days!

As I normally do, I have looked for substitutions that will not change the flavour much but they will make a huge impact on the nutritional count.

You can actually try these easy swaps when cooking pretty much anything!

Cream –> 0% fat greek style yogurt

Eggs –> egg whites (4 eggs per recipe? 1 egg and 3 egg whites will do just fine)

If you would really keep the crust on this you could try to make it with wholegrain spelt flour, almond flour or coconut flour, chick pea flour… or a mixture of them.

This recipe is dead simple, perfect party pleaser if you are going to a BBQ or a dinner party, it is like a giant egg muffin really 😉

The recipe is low fat and very high protein and has very low carb content.

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Ingredients (serves 5)

4 eggs

200 ml egg whites

3 leeks

1 tsp of butter/vegetable oil

120 grams of soft goat’s cheese or vegan equivalent

1 tbsp of parmesan cheese

170 grams of fat free greek style yogurt

Salt & Pepper

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How to…

In a pan, melt the butter or oil and cook the leeks, washed and chopped julienne style (this is in 1/4 cm wide rings) until they are soft and cooked throughout.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, the egg whites and the yogurt. Spray a round over proof container with olive oil and pour over the egg mixture. Add the cooked leeks spreading evenly over the surface, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Crumbling the goat’s cheese with your fingers, place all over the quiche, and then sprinkle with with parmesan.

Cook in the oven at 180/200 degrees celsius for about 35 to 40 minutes, then turn off the over and let it cool inside for another 10 minutes inside the oven.

Let it rest for another 10 minutes on a rack before serving with your favourite salad or veggies.

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Lowest Fat Superfoods: Mussels

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A lot of people are dont like seafood. This generally happens in areas with no sea shore where the access to them is generally not so easy and they are not part of the traditional way of eating. Big Mistake!

It also normally means that they are quite expensive since they are not readily available and if you haven’t seen them in your family as a standard food while growing up, the changes that you would consider eaten them when you are older is less.

Travelling is great to open your eyes to new foods, some are good and some are not so good. The first time I ate pizza I think I must have been 10 or 12 years old!! I had Thai food first time 5 years ago and for a while there I didn’t like peppers or aubergine.

We all go through bad food stages, especially when we are in our early teens, “don’t like this don’t like that” generally the no-go foods are the ones our mums say are healthy. I think it is the rebellious spirit manifesting itself. Fish and broccoli generally fall under this category, and mussels do as well. They are ugly little things, you have to admit, and they smell really strong of sea water when they are uncooked, and I get that it is not everybody’s piece of cake.

One the things we can do to try mussels without having to go through the pain of preparing them is to order them when we are eating out. They come in a pot, already made and they provide long entertainment through the meal, with plenty of opportunities for chatting.

The reason why it is worth giving them a go is because as most seafood, they are almost purely protein and they are incredibly nutrient rich.

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They provide a very good amount of B12 vitamin (340% of your daily recommended intake) in only a 80gr portion, but they are also rich in the other B vitamins group.They are also an important source of: Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and zinc.  Selenium plays a very important role in your thyroid function and manganese is involved in bone structure and the metabolism of energy.

When it comes to protein, around 15 mussels provide you with the same amount of protein that a 170 gr steak of beef, with a much lower fat content, so if you are trying to lose weight, mussels are the way to go. The have less than 2% of fat and it is all Omega 3, which helps protect your heart and arteries.

If this was not reason enough, they are a really high in Iodine which keeps your nails and hair strong and shiny! So what is there not to like about them??

I encourage you to try them if you haven’t done and expand your food horizons. Your waistline will thank you and your general health too.

If I have convince you, here is a little recipe, super easy, that you can do in less than 15 minutes!

 

Ingredients (serves 2):

750gr of mussels with their shells

2 garlic cloves

1 stalk of celery

1 bunch of fresh parsley

½ a small glass of white wine

Extra virgin olive oil

 

In a high pot (you will need the space) heat up one tablespoon of olive oil. Peel the garlic and mash it and chop the celery stick in small slices. Chop the parsley and when the oil is hot, add the garlic and celery. Add most of the parsley but reserve a little bit to garnish at the end.

The mussels should be clean (they sell them clean too, so that would help) and drained from all liquid. The best way to keep them is in water with some salt in the fridge and cook them in the 24 to 48h after buying them. When you are ready to cook them, drain them from the water and add them to the pot. Put the lid on!! This is very important because the mussels cook in the hot steam, and the lid will make the open easier and cook faster, leave them there for 2 to 5 minutes until open, add the white wine and let it boil for another couple of minutes.

Taste the flavour, but they should be salty enough as it is.

Serve immediately in the same pot (if it’s nice) or in a deep serving tray that allows the sauce to come with them garnished with the rest of the parsley, and set a bowl next to you for the empty shells.

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Enjoy!

 

100 Calorie Tacos.

 

 

Tacos (2)Last week I had a sudden crave for Jalapeno peppers. Don’t ask me why, I don’t even know but I just had this absolutely unstoppable impulse of eating really tart spicy Mexican peppers.

I went to 3 supermarkets only to find out that they don’t sell jalapenos here!! I couldn’t believe that in this day and age it was impossible to actually find such a basic and universal ingredient, but what I did find was some Tabasco Mild sauce, jalapeno flavour. 😀

Finally a mexican friend of mine pointed me into the direction of a little mexican shop that sells any type of spice pepper you can imagine, and I am now a happy Jalapeno owner.

If you are reading this, you probably know I am a very firm believer in eating the type of carbs, and avoiding them at night time. For this reason, having tacos for dinner is not really generally an option, but then I thought that maybe I could have my cake and eat it too, just by swapping the taco wrapping for some more inoffensive lettuce leaves. Not the same you would say?? Well no, but you still get the flavour and it is just as delicious.

 

This is a very easy and quick no taco taco for Mexican food lovers!!

 

Ingredients (serves 1):

100 gr of chicken breast

1 gem lettuce

1 tomato

½ a spring onion (depending on size)

1 small bunch of fresh cilantro

½ an avocado

The juice of a lime

Salt & pepper to taste

½  a tsp. cumin

½ a tsp. paprika

Jalapenos or Jalapeno flavour Tabasco to your liking.

 

Simple chop very finely the tomato, cilantro, spring onion and jalapeno and mix in a bowl. Season with lime juice and salt and set aside.

Wash the gem lettuce and split it in leaves without breaking them and set them on a serving plate.

In a pan, cook the chicken breast cut in small slices with the cumin and paprika and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Chop the avocado in small pieces and lay on the lettuce, then add the chicken and top with the salsa.

 

You can add a bit of grated cheese to the chicken if you wish, I didn’t find it necessary, especially for dinner, but of course it is a possibility!

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Enjoy!

Peas, Ham & Bacon

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This is an express post with a quick recipe for busy people! Just a quick recipe with 4 ingredients that takes 15 minutes to make and it is super healthy and delicious. It is a traditional Spanish recipe and the main ingredient is peas.

Peas are a low GI carbohydrate which means that they are good at maintaining your blood sugar levels under control, avoiding those peaks that send you directly to the cookie box. They are rich in fibre and protein and they have a lot of vitamin C , calcium and magnesium.

To make the most of their protein content, it is good to add some rice or bread to it, or mix a bit of animal source protein (this is depending on your personal preferences). In this case, we mix them with ham and or bacon and it does the trick.

Vegetable proteins are not as readily available for the body to use as the ones from animal sources, they need the addition of other amino acids to make them “complete” this can be achieved by adding: cereals (bread, rice) or combine with meat or fish or some cheese or dairy product.

Without further ado…

 

Ingredients (serves 2)

 

500 gr of fresh peas (if already peeled, 300 gr)

2 rashers of bacon

1 slice of cured Spanish ham

½ a red onion

1 clove of garlic

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

 

Boil the peas for 10 to 15 minutes until soft (that will depend on the quality of the peas), drain them from water and reserve. Chop the onion and garlic very finely and poach in ½ a tbsp. of olive oil until soft. Add the bacon and the ham cut in small bits and let it sweat the fat & flavour. Add the boiled peas and let them shimmer for 5 minutes.

The shouldn’t be completely dry so don’t drain them completely.

Enjoy.

Best Crustless Quiche

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In order to properly plan your meals, there are many different diet types out there, if someone is trying to lose weight, and slightly desperate to do so quickly, you can find a myriad of options that promise quick results all with a flat tummy as an advertising. Flat as in fitness model flat, not normal person on an empty stomach flat. This has been of some concern to me for a while, because I have been through many of these diets, recommended by friends, or advertised through a magazine, you name it, the choice is endless.

Now I am older, and I am wiser and I know better and I fight against these misconceptions on a daily basis, because some of this diets are just lies or stupid approaches to eating with minimum real impact on your body composition, but others, are straight harmful for your metabolism, your body and if sustained long term, some are life threatening.

The worst of these are the cleanser diets based on syrup and cayenne pepper. A combo that is meant to “activate your metabolism due some components on the cayenne pepper” and some other idiocies I have read. Our metabolism is not as naïve as we are, and the only thing that he is going to do in such case is slow down. All these juices, meal replacements, chemicals that people try to sell us with the promise of a beach body will certainly do something for you:

  1. Make you lose water (therefore the perceived weight loss)
  2. Muscle mass compromise: 90% of the time your body will consume your muscle mass for energy

So here is what happens: you don’t incorporate the nutrient x through your diet because you are master cleansing for a week for example, but your body needs it to keep normal bodily functions such as body temperature, structural cell maintenance, your heart beat… and it will start using the reserves that are available, this might be a bit of fat, but it will also be muscle tissue. Muscle in this case is not a priority for your body because muscle is a metabolically active tissue, this means that to sustain it, it requires additional energy to be sustained, whereas fat doesn’t. You see where I am going?

Your body will burn whatever is on hand to keep you warm and alive and when you are done with your diet you will have: a compromised metabolism that will literally jump over any calorie you give him, a few less pounds of water, a little less fat and a lot less muscle. The problem is that regaining muscle takes a lot longer that regaining the fat and the water, which will be restored within 1 or 2 weeks once the starvation period is over.

Basically, you are much better off eating a varied balanced and healthy diet, not only will respect your body, it will also keep you mentally on track without those dangerous feelings of deprivation that lead to binge eating.

Today, I would like to share with you a very easy recipe for a really tasty dish, a quiche but with no crust to make it a bit lighter. The carbohydrate content comes from the vegetables in the mixture and is literally packed with protein. It is also very pretty so if you have guests and you are trying to stay on track, it helps to cook things that even though are healthy, look like they aren’t.

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Ingredients (serves 6)

8 eggs (or 4 eggs and 12 egg whites for lower fat)

4 cubes of frozen spinach (fresh is better but I didn’t have any)

4/5 cherry tomatoes

1 small roulade of goat’s cheese

2 slices of smoked bacon

10 gr. of grated parmesan cheese to gratin

200 ml. light soy milk (or your milk of choice but low fat)

1/2 red onion cut in thin rings

Cut the bacon in strips and sauté them in a pan for a couple of minutes until the fat has dissolved. Add the spinach and stir well.

In a bowl, beat up the eggs and add the bacon and spinach and the milk. Mix well and pour into a quiche mold. Spread your onion rings over the surface then cut the goat’s cheese into thin-ish slices and place them nicely on over the surface of your quiche.

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Finally put the cherry tomatoes strategically to give it a bit of colour and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

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Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes at 150C.

Enjoy!!