Miss Iceland & Healthy Vegan Melomakarona

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Today browsing through Facebook, I have found an article about Miss Iceland, apparently she has quit the Miss Grand International. Whatever ridiculous pageant this is, to tell a perfectly beautiful, slim woman to eat “water” for the finals, skip breakfast and have a salad for lunch, is plainly criminal.

In a world like the one we live in, acts like this should not go unpunished. Enough of this already. Her goodbye letter in social media says it all. She actually explains that her shoulders are bigger than some other participants because she was in her country’s athletic team. We should be encouraging this type of healthy beauty and not perpetuating anorexic stereotypes that only cause harm to our younger generations.

 

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I went out for dinner last night and I drank almost half a bottle of an excellent Spanish wine with my friend and hell of a lot of fresh bread, a bit of a cheese platter and we even shared dessert. We were so full we texted each other about it afterwards. Today I was probably a bit heavier than usual, but you know what? It was totally worth it. It was an awesome time, with a great friend and fantastic food. I am just as beautiful (or ugly) as I was yesterday, with or without the extra weight.

This web is about eating and keeping a healthy weight, but above all, it’s about understanding that there has to be a balance and life is meant to be enjoyed, and to have proof that there are big faceless organisations that work relentlessly to make women feel like s*** just because they are not in a catwalk  shape should be punished. For that, we have the Victoria’s secret Model show and that is more than enough.

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So today I was going to share with you a recipe of a not so skinny-me cookies and I think it is perfect considering the mood 😉 so go ahead and make a batch of these. The are not low fat, in fact they are quite high in it, but they are still pretty healthy. They are wholegrain, refined sugar free and plainly delicious. The are Greek and called Melomakarona. They are apparently eaten over xmas, so here we are starting the celebration early!

I looked for a recipe online and I made some adjustments to make a little less taxing on the hips. I hope you enjoy them, so far the feedback has been really positive from all the test subjects!

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Ingredients (makes 35 biscuits)

7/8 cups or 500 gr. wholegrain flour (I used Saracen wheat which is an ancient grain)

1 1/2 cup Olive oil 

3/4 cup xylitol

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup cognac or brandy

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

For the syrup:

2 cups water

2 cups honey

2 cups xylitol

1/2 a lemon juice

Crushed walnuts for decoration

How to make it…

It is actually pretty simple to make these cookies, mix all the dry ingredients shifting them so they mix throughout. In a large bowl, mix the oil with the orange juice, the xylitol, the cognac and mix well. Once the mixture is homogeneous start adding the flour little by little. It will start to be drier by the end and ready to be shaped into biscuits.

These are quite large, the are a bit elongated and fit in your closed fist.

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Set them on a baking parchment and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 175C. They should be a bit cracked on the surface.

While they bake, you can bring to a boil in a saucer the honey, xylitol and water and let it boil for a couple of minutes, then add the juice of half a lemon.

When the biscuits come out of the oven, give them a short “bath” in the syrup in batches of 4 and let them absorb the juice over a cooling rack and then sprinkle with crushed walnuts for decoration.

In case you want to make these vegan or totally non sugar skip the honey and just use more fruit juice and reduce the syrup a bit more to make it more dense.

Just so you know, xylitol is a natural sugar, it comes from birch. It has some real benefits for the health to the point of being used as medicine. It also prevents tooth decay and it is good for diabetes since it doesn’t cause a rise in Glycemic index (blood sugar). It is also quite pricey but an excellent sugar substitute.

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Healthy Vegan Peanut Butter & Banana Breakfast cake bars

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Today I would like to share with you an easy and super healthy way to start the day, o a good snack for mid morning or mid afternoon. I believe it will be particularly interesting for those with children because they are very easy to make, and they can be stored in the fridge and be a grab & go option.

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There are two ways about this recipe, the one with an egg and the vegan option that swaps that egg for a mix of chia seeds and water. Mine is dairy free but I have used some agave nectar for sweetener, but you can easily avoid it and use any non caloric sweetener or just use one more banana.

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I have made these with oat bran to make them extra low carb and high fibre but you can use oat meal or a mixture of the two, it is entirely up to your preference.

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These are quite moist and have very much the texture of a sponge cake, with the nutty flavour of the peanuts to give it a kick. They are high in healthy fats and low in the less good ones and quite a high protein option too. All in all, a balanced and nutritious alternative to sugary cereals or other treats. You can also use them as a sweet tooth trick because they do taste divine and they wont take a toll on the scales.

Ingredients (makes 12 portions)

1 1/2 cups oat bran

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg/ 2 tbsp chia seed in 3 tbsp of water

1/4 cup of unsweetened peanut butter

2 ripe bananas (or 3 if you dont want to use sweetener)

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or almond or soy)

1/4 cup agave nectar/maple syrup

1 tsp baking powder

How to…

Mix in a medium bowl all the dry ingredients so they are homogeneously mixed and set aside.

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In a larger bowl mix the bananas (I used some I had frozen and i blended them in the food processor first) but you can also just mash them in the bowl with the peanut butter, then add the egg and mix until the mixture is like a dough (or the chia seeds). Then add the vanilla extract and coconut or almond milk. When everything is well mixed, add the dry mixture, combine and set in a pre-greased bowl.

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Bake at 175C for about 25 minutes. Decorate with peanut butter and peanuts and anything you may think of. Chocolate sprinkles could be a nice addition too.

Let me know if you try it!

Enjoy 🙂

 

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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Guilt Free Protein Pizza

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Yes you read correctly. Pizza and guilt free together. And what if I tell you it is also low in fat and high in protein? too good to be true?? And what it i add that is also gluten free so if you have a friend that has an intolerance, you can cook this for him or her??? Even better!!

To top it up, it is also completely plant based, so you can use this recipe on your meatless days or if you have high cholesterol and want a healthier alternative to the normal high saturated fat cheese and pepperoni pizza. Of course, needless to say, what you put on your pizza as topping will make all the difference but the base will always be low fat, gluten free and higher in carbs than normal pizza.

And how is this miracle possible? Well there is no miracle, just a smart little substitution of normal white flour (lacking nutrients and just as bad as sugar) for some more nutritious alternative that is also higher in protein and fibre. Chick pea flour!! So yeah, no magic here, just chick pea flat breads to bring pizza to a whole new level, one that you could enjoy every day if you wanted to because it is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and a very complete meal with a very good ratio of protein and carbs. Chick pea flour has a very low GI that keeps your blood sugar levels stable, so perfect post workout meal if like me, you are a bit of a fitness fan.

I took the base recipe for the flat breads from BBC Food which is my go to website for base recipes, they always come up perfect and they are very easy to follow, their recipe was for 6 flatbreads but I could only make 6.

The topping is made of caramelised onion and vegan cheese with rocket on top, but if you are not vegan you could use any low fat type of cheese you have home, like feta or mozzarella and add the rocket once the pizza is out of the oven.

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Just a note on the caramelised onion, a lot of people put sugar in it to make it caramelise and become really brown quicker, it is not necessary! You just need to be patient. There is enough natural occurring sugars in onion to ensure caramelisation, so just let it sit on the pan for a long time, about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes on low heat and you will get there with no help from added sugar. Also adding salt at the beginning will help, since it will make the water come out of the onion quicker.

Without further ado… here it’s how you do it!

Ingredients (for 6 pizza bases and 3 toppings)

For the flat bread:

250 gr. of chick pea flour

400 ml cold water

salt & pepper to taste (doesn’t need much salt)

For the topping

1 & 1/2 onions

15/20 gr. cheese

1 handful of rocket

In a bowl, put the chick pea flour, the salt and pepper and start adding water and whisking with a fork to make sure your dough is homogeneous. Once it is all mixed, let it sit overnight so the flour can really absorb the water.

Spray a non sticky pan with olive oil and make a flatbread like if you were making a pancake, letting it cook about one and a half minutes per side.

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At the same time, you can slice up your onions and in a large pan, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and let them cook on low heat for 30 minutes. It could help to put high heat first to start the cooking and it doesn’t matter if the onion sticks to the bottom of the pan since this dark brown residue will add to the colour later on. If it is too dry, you can add a couple of tablespoons of water. Once your onion is brown and caramel like,  you are ready. You can keep this onion in the fridge for a few days too, and the flatbreads can be frozen, so you don’t have to eat all at once.

Preheat the over at 180 degrees C and set your flat bread with the onion and cheese under the grill for 6 minutes until the cheese starts to brown too, take it out and add a handful of rocket, this will give the pizza a lot of freshness and a slight peppery flavour that is sooo yummy.

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The nutritional content for the flatbreads are: 183 calories, 19 carbs, 3.6 fat, 8.1 protein

The fat content is based on cooking them with very little oil. almost nothing, but if you add more, bear in mind this could change.

Let me know if you give them a go! 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!

Detoxing for ever

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The word in everybody’s mouth this January, and every single January if we are being honest, because new year resolutions seem to last only as long as this first month, then the reality of a lifetime of built habits come to haunt us and drag us back to the snack section of the supermarket and to hang our gym clothes until the summer pops its head around the corner.

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The problem with these so called “detox” is that they often do more harm than good.¨

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So instead of talking about what is bad about detox diets that will leave you with less muscle and starving for sugar, not to mention in a perfect metabolic condition for a yoyo effect, (if you are interested on this, you can check my previous post about Bulimia and other diets) I will offer you and alternative method of detox that will help you:

  • Cleanse your body after a period of overindulging eating
  • Return to your previous weight or start a weight loss diet without risking your health
  • Fill you up with energy that will not peak and then leave you tired, but a consistent rate through the day
  • Increase your metabolism so you burn more calories even when you are not exercising
  • A more toned physique, that will your body a beautiful shape

 

If any of those appeal to you, continue reading.

This is a starters guide to a healthier life, and I will be digging deeper in the forthcoming weeks on each one of the principles of the method, which is just based on the implementation of some healthy habits in your life, just one by one. Today we will speak about the diet, since this is what will make the biggest impact on your life. You might have heard that “no amount of exercise can outdo a bad diet” this is very true, and for some of us, the percentage might as well be higher, the good part about this, is that if you cannot do exercise or sports during a particular period of your time, you still get to manage your weight just by learning to eat better and clearing some misconceptions.

 

The first rule of the good eater is… To know EXACTLY how much you should be eating. Nutritional recommendations have promoted the idea that most of us women need 2000 calories and day and most man 2500, this for a person that is physically very active might be true, but there are many variables that affect your nutritional needs:

  • Your height
  • Your current weight
  • Your body composition
  • Your level of activity

 

In order to calculate your needs, you can find some very useful online calculators, I like one in the site bodybuilding.com. You can access it here and just fill in the information required:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm

Which takes me to the second rule: to know exactly WHAT you should be eating. This affects the amount of each food group you should be eating (Protein, Carbohydrate and Fats) and how much of each should you be eating, since the right split of them will do an awful lot of a difference to your body composition.

For example, someone that eats too little protein, will have trouble maintaining their muscle mass, which might make them lose weight but look sick and undernourished and not healthy and toned, which is a lot more appealing. Not eating enough fats can put your health at risk and removing the carbohydrates is not a permanent solution and most likely will just deplete you of water.

The above link will tell you the exact number of grams and calories from each nutritional group that you should be eating every day.

 

Wait!! Don’t get frustrated just yet, learning to count your nutrients is not for beginners, but it is good for you to know it, so you can follow it broadly when composing your meals.

A normal split for people that are trying to lose weight but not in a competitive sport, would be 40% carbs, 35% protein and 25% fats.

How do you then do this??

A simple way of calculating is by filling a small to medium size plate with: 1 portion of protein (this is about 120 grams of chicken, 100 grams of red meat, or a 150- 200 gr of white fish, same as red meat if its blue fish which has a higher amount of fat) this should occupy ¼ to 1/3 of your plate then fill up with vegetables (greens and tomatoes, peppers etc but no starchy vegetables) these should take up ½ your plate.

The rest, should the ¼ of your plate more or less, should be filled with carbs, normally this is a couple of spoonful’s.

 

Simple rules to choose your food:

 

Protein: lean sources are best!! Chicken, turkey, lean pork loin, white fish, lean beef (less than 5% fat) and cottage cheese, 0% quark and 0% Greek yogurt Other proteins that are higher in fats such as lamb, cuts of meat with a lot of fat, or even salmon and eggs are best eaten in moderation (twice a week for eggs and salmon and only occasionally for the others)

 

Carbohydrates: complex or slow burning carbohydrates are always the best choice, this is because their unprocessed nature respects the integrity of their nutrients and have kept all their fibre and vitamins, this makes them keep you fuller for longer and feed you better at the same time that have less impact on your weight loss plans by not spiking your blood sugar levels. This is important because when that happens, your body activates a series of metabolic processes that in the end, make your body more likely to store fat.

 

Good carbs: peas, beetroots, beans (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans…) pumpkins, wholegrain pasta, wild, brown, black rice, 100% wholegrain bread particularly made of ancient cereals like spelt, oat specially oat bran and quinoa.

(most of this also have a significant amount of protein, specially the beans, but they have a lower bio availability than those of animal protein so they have to be consumed with them or cereals to complement them, this is particularly important for some on a vegetarian or vegan diet). Fruits are excellent sources of carbs, but I will comment on them separately.

“Bad” carbs: potatoes (although sweet potato can be used as a good carb), white bread, white rice, pasta, particularly fresh pasta, any refined sugar or sugary product.

Fruits: they are mainly composed of carbohydrate so they need to be eaten in moderation and avoid them after 6 or 7 pm. The best ones amongst them are the ones with higher amounts of fiber.

Best fruits: apple, pear, all berries (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry, these can even be eaten at night because of their very low sugar content) kiwi fruits, nectarines, peaches and citric fruits.

Higher sugar fruits: mangoes, khakis, bananas, grapes, all dried fruits, fruit juices even if freshly made.

 

It is perfectly fine to eat a couple of pieces a day and this counts as carbohydrate so for example if you have a salad with steak for lunch, you can complement with a couple of mandarins.

 

Fats: always bear in mind that all the fats count, the cooking fats and the ones that belong to the food you are eating. Some foods contain little to none fat (fruits and beans or cereals) and others contain a lot like salmon and avocados. We need ALL types of fat to function correctly but it is true that from the “bad fats” we need so little that we get it in our diet regardless, what we do not get enough of if we don’t make an effort, is the omega 3 monounsaturated fats, that contribute to optimal cardiovascular function. Always prime these as sources of fat in your diet.

Best fats: avocado, blue fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna) chia seeds, olive oil, coconut oil

“Bad” Fats: animal origin fats from milk (butter and whole milk) and fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb. Poultry skin.Bad fats can and must be part of the diet, but it is better to eat only sparingly, specially if you are trying to lose weight.

 

Third rule: when should you be eating?? This is a difficult questions and there are many approaches like fasting etc, some swear that their approach burns off fat but there is no scientific diet that validates one or the other, So I will simply say, do whatever works for you. As long as during the day you are eating enough of the foods that you are supposed to be eating, you are ok. If you are someone that is happy with 2 meals a day, maybe that is fine for you!

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However, for a normal human being, a frequent intake of food (every 2 to 4 hours) of smaller amounts is best because:

  • Makes your digestions easier, the heavier a meal, the longer and more work will take your body to digest and this can lead to the terrible “after eating” effect of needed a nap.
  • Keeps your energy levels
  • Helps with the blood sugar levels
  • Activates the metabolism and burns more calories since the digestive system is also a group of muscles, that burn energy when they move.

 

My recommendation: Have a breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, light dinner, after dinner snack.

Of course you could also have a mid morning snack and no after dinner, or both or eliminate one if you are not hungry… for me these food intakes happen at 9:15 am, 12:30 am, 4 pm, 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm and my bedtime is 10:30 pm. I wake up at 6:30 every morning to work out which I find easier fasted and helps me boost the fat burning effect of the exercise.

So this is the task for this week:

Eliminate unhealthy snacks, processed drinks, carbonated drinks, juices, and sugars and try to have a set of 5 smaller meals a day. Each one of them has to have a small amount of carbs, a big portion of vegetables and a portion of lean protein.

No alcohol of course and try to get 8 hours of sleep.

This will detox you way more effectively than any juice fasting out there.

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In order to help you build your own menu, I have here the example for one day, all the recipes are available in the blog.

 

Breakfast: Oat bran porridge with light soy milk and a kiwi fruit

Lunch: Hake fillet, pan fried with green beans and boiled lentils.

Afternoon snack: Protein yogurt and a small apple

Dinner: tuna steak oven roast with green salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar

After dinner snack: 1 square of 70% cocoa chocolate with 5 almonds and a cup of tea

 

Breakfast: Yogurt with almond butter, ½ a banana and sprinkled sliced almonds

Lunch: Chicken paella with black rice, onions and peppers and cauliflower

Afternoon snack: a small pear and 10 almonds or 20 peanuts or 1 tbs no added sugar peanut butter

Dinner: zucchini soup and prawn skewer with lemon

After dinner snack: 1 square 70% cocoa chocolate

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Next week I will take another step into our healthy lifestyle, stay tuned! And remember if you have questions about your particular case, please get in touch!

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!!

 

 

Healthiest Shepherd’s Pie

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Nutrition is a funny thing. There are many misconceptions out there of what is healthy and what isn’t, and I am often surprised by how little people know about how what they eat impacts their body.

Back in the 70s, mothers all around the world, whose traditional role was to take care of the family and nourish the children so that they would grow nice and strong, used to cook plenty of stews and traditional dishes, filled with potatoes, that provided carbohydrates and lard or oils to make sure that it was substantial enough.

Today, unfortunately, children and adults do not play on the streets any more and have a very sedentary lifestyle, which translates in a reduced calorie intake need, so most of the traditional recipes, have therefore become outdated or something that is generally too heavy for most people. Still we love those beautiful dishes and if cooked properly or adjusted to our needs, they are a great way of getting into our body the nutrients that we need to fuel it.

In this case, I have tackled the British all time favourite, Shepherd’s Pie, with a view on keeping it nice and light.

In case you wonder how do I take my decisions when it comes to making a dish less fattening or taxing on your body,  I normally try to strip all those elements that are high in sugar or fast digesting starch and I reduce the fats to a minimum. That way, the dish retains most of its flavor and protein together with slow burning carbs, and only good fats in a small amount, to ensure a well balanced meal that will sustain you until your next meal.

One very important part of nutrition is digestion, if anybody is interested, I cam develop the subject more in depth in another post, but just a little clarification, you body digests first the carbs, then the protein and lastly the fats, and it takes your stomach between 1 and 4 hours to do so. The bigger the amount of food, the higher the content of fat, and less you chew your meal, the longer it will take your stomach to do so, and the heavier you will feel. Ideally, we should split our meals in 5 smaller ones, to speed up digestion and make it as easy as possible for your body, and also to distribute your energy levels throughout the day.

Have I bore you enough already?? 😉 So on to the recipe then!!

I took a traditional lamb shepherd’s pie recipe and I swap it for lean beef. Cooking it with lamb would be fine as long as you are not trying to lose weight or maintain it because lamb’s meat has a high fat content. If you choose to cook with lamb, consume in more moderation.

The other important swap is the mashed potato, that I have changed for cauliflower mash. This means that the glycemic impact (ie. your blood sugar levels and the concentration of carbs) is a lot lower, which will make this dish much easier to digest and a hell of a lot less fattening.

Ingredients (serves 4)

350 gr. lean ground beef

150 gr. celeriac chopped in small cubes

3 small red onions

1 clove of garlic

1 tomato, peeled and deseeded

1 carrot

Salt & pepper

1 liter of beef stock

1/2 cauliflower

Nutmeg

30 gr. of grated gruyere cheese

150 ml. soy milk/milk low in fat

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

 

First of all, peel and chop finely all the vegetables, poach them in a large pan with the olive oil (onions, celeriac, carrot, garlic & tomato) with a pinch of salt, this is important so they loose their water content quicker. Poach them for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft and caramelized.

Add salt & pepper to your ground beef and incorporate it to the vegetables. Cook for a couple of minutes until it’s well mixed and add the beef stock. Reduce to medium heat and let boil for 30 to 40 minutes (until the water has evaporated).

 

In the meantime, steam your cauliflower and when it’s done, add a pinch of salt, nutmeg and the milk, and blend it in a food processor until you have a thick uniform mash.

Once your meat is cooked, pour it on an oven proof dish and layer the cauliflower mash on top. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Cook in the over at 160C for 35 to 45 minutes and serve with a side of salad, peas or any green of your liking.

Enjoy!

Diet Apple Crumble (but just as good)

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I have been toying lately with sweet recipes trying to find and fine tune healthy alternatives, I blame the weather, which makes me much more receptive to warm hearty dishes and baking than the summer. It is soup and baking season.

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For this recipe, I looked at one of my all time favourites, apple crumble and I tried a lowfat, low carb, low GI alternative to the traditional one, which is loaded with butter and sugar and a white flour crumble. Big task indeed and something had to give, so I kept some butter in the mix. However, I have to say that we don’t actually need nearly as much butter as we normally use. I only used 25 grams of butter for a two portion crumble which turns out to be very little when divided by two.

Because of the ingredients used, it is also paleo & gluten free. What else you can ask for?

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 apples

3/4 tbsp. of cinnamon

2 tbsp. granulated fructose

25 gr. butter

3 tbsp. whole oats or oat bran

For the 0% Fat Cream alternative

0% fat greek yourt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. liquid sucralose

100 ml. soy milk

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This is obviously a very simple recipe 🙂 Peel and chop the apple (no core or seeds) into 1 cm squares. place 10 grams of butter in a pan and heat up, when melted, all the apple, stir in and add 1/2 a tbsp. of cinnamon and 1 tbsp. of granulated fructose. Let it cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

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In a bowl, mix the oat bran or oats with the rest of the granulated fructose and the rest of the butter with your fingers until you have a crumbly (Dr. Obvious) mixture. Fructose is a natural occurring sugar from fruits and has the advantage of having a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. It still has a significant calorie content and it’s high in carbohydrate, so it is meant to be consumed occasionally.

Once your apples have made your house smell like a bakery and they are nice and gooey, place them in an oven proof container and spread the crumble on top.

To finish it off, bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven and serve with the 0% fat cream alternative (which is a simple mix of all the mentioned ingredients).

Enjoy!

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The Ultimate SUPERFOOD Salad

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Maybe I should actually say superfoods, given the fact that there is not one but several highly nutritious foods in a plate of this beautiful and colourful salad.

Broccoli which we already talked about it the past, salmon, a powerful source of Omega 3 fatty acids to protect your arteries, spinach, full of protein and vitamin c and iron, feta cheese, low in fat but high in protein and calcium and edamame beans, which have all the benefits from the soy and all the benefits of a bean, making you fuller for longer and helping your digestive system with their high fiber content.

Salads a wonderful thing, they exist in an infinite possible combination, some of them more successful than others and very easy to adapt to one’s personal taste by swapping ingredients for something that you might like more.

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This recipe is very high is protein and good fats and has a small amount of low GI slow burning carbs that can be increased depending on your macronutrient needs. As you will see it is a pretty simple thing, with only a slightly different dressing that makes all the difference by bringing the flavours together and make this a salad that is better than the sum of its parts.

Ingredients (serves 2)

200 grams. poached salmon

50 grams. low fat Feta cheese

2 tbsp. of pine nuts

2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 cups of steamed broccoli

1 tbsp. edamame beans (loose from the pod)

For the dressing

2 pinches of Salt

1/2 a tbsp. Dijon mustard in grain

1 tbsp. White wine vinegar

1 tbsp. Soja sauce

4 drops of Sweetener

Lay the spinach on a plate to make the base of the salad, scatter the broccoli evenly over it, then the poached salmon in flakes, sprinkle with fetal cheese and pine nuts.

I buy my pine nuts raw so I toast them myself on a pan with no oil whatsoever, just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!

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Mix the dressing well and dress the salad with it and serve immediately. This particular mix of ingredients is meant to give it a slight Asian touch, which goes very well with the salmon and the edamame but of course you can avoid this just by removing the sweetener and soy sauce from the mixture.

Enjoy!

 

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