Healthy Strawberries & Cream

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Not all strawberries are created equal. Nowadays they always look big red and gorgeous but they don’t always taste as they should. The best way to know if the strawberries are flavourful is to smell them! If they smell potently like they should, then you are on to something good.

Even so, if you want to make your strawberries shine and take them to a whole new level, or simply save some that weren’t all that good to start with, all you have to do is “confit” them.

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The problem with Strawberries & Cream is generally that the cream is incredibly high in saturated fat and well, it isn’t something to eat everyday in all honesty. The good news is that I found a great substitute that is super creamy and sweet but has a lot less fat than the original recipe.

For the Strawberry confit:

500 gr fresh strawberries

1 lemon ( the juice)

1 tsp. sucralose (or your sweetener of choice)

For the “cream”

340 gr. Fat free Greek Yogurt

50 gr. Mascarpone cheese

How to…

Chop the strawberries in very small pieces and place them in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lemon, and the sweetener and heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds. Take them out, whisk them with a fork to mix in the juices and then heat them up another 30 seconds. Leave them out to cool down and then keep them in the fridge.

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To make the cream, whisk the yogurt and the mascarpone together and split into 3 to 4 portions depending if you want it as dessert, snack or light breakfast. This is a high protein non added sugar recipe so feel free to give it to the kids, awesome way to eat more fruit!

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Oat-sotto, the Healthy Risotto

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Ok maybe not my best naming moment XD but I do think it’s funny. I am simple mind like that.

I love risotto, it’s one of my favourite things because I am a big cheese lover, but the combination of bacon, rice, and parmesan cheese well… it’s everything but scale friendly. Every now and then though, there is nothing wrong with having the real deal of course, I don’t have it with meat any more but it does come in pescetarian versions with seafood that are ok for me. Scallops and mussels are a great combo for example and they add lean protein and iron and lots of flavour. In this case I wanted to come up with a lighter version, one that you can eat 3 times in a week and it won’t make you feel bloated, gain weight or affect your goals in the slightest.

Instagram is a great source of inspiration for this things sometimes and a few weeks ago I came across this savoury porridge trend that I thought could work great for this purpose. The recipe here today is vegetarian since I used parmesan cheese, the real deal, but should you want to avoid it, there are some vegan alternatives that could work just as well.

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The rice in this recipe in actually oats, in case my clever naming got you confused. Then the recipe is exactly the same as an actual risotto, only with less fat, less cheese and significantly less cooking time, which is also a plus if you are short in time.

If the oats are the right ones, this is a gluten free recipe and low carb too.

Ingredients (serves 2)

100 gr. wholegrain oats

100 gr. finely chopped onion

1 smashed clove of garlic

1 cup white wine

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or half olive oil half butter)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup sliced mushrooms

4 chopped green asparagus

2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese or vegan alternative

Salt and pepper

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How to…

In a pot, heat up the oil and cook the onion an garlic slowly until tender and transparent. Add the chopped mushrooms and the asparagus. Two minutes later add the oats and mix well with the rest of the ingredients to mix the flavours. Add the wine when the pot is hot and let it evaporate. Then start adding the stock little by little and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, add the cheese and let rest for one more minute. Serve immediately to avoid the oats from going too soft.

Bear in mind the texture is softer than with normal rice, but still delicious.

Enjoy!

 

 

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 🙂

 

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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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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Healthy Black Bean Vegan Burgers

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Recently I went through some documentaries that enforced previous notions of what is healthy eating and how to go about it. What i didn’t know, was the impact that those decisions make in the world we live in.

The vast majority of people turn their heads to the other side, not to see. They KNOW that reality that lies within, but they do not want to acknowledge is there, because if they do, they might feel bad about themselves. They might even want to change something, and changing habits is not easy.

I have spoken about it before in this blog, you can find a long article about veganism scrolling down the page if you are interested.

However it is not really about becoming vegan, it is about gaining awareness. Awareness over the fact that according to the UN, 53% of our CO2 emissions come from the meat industry (I mean all types of meat and dairy), that is way larger than the cars, planes and industries of these world. The impact on the planet of the excessive animal protein consumption is vile. As always, there are two sides to this coin, the economic development  of certain areas depends on cattle and related business so it is not about not eating meat. It is about making the meat you consume count.

Why not start by having a vegetarian/vegan day a week? Just give it a go! It is fun, it is easy and it will spark your cooking creativity. You don’t know where to start?? Here is where. Make note on today’s recipe and try it out next Monday for a good start of the week.

Also, in terms of health benefits, these way of eating tends to be cholesterol free and lower calorie/fat so it may even help you shred a few pounds.

About these burgers, I took the recipe from another blog and I have to say, it would probably benefit from a bit of egg white to hold it together since cooking them can be a bit messy, therefore the uneven shape of mine.

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Ingredients (makes 4 large patties)

250 gr. butternut squash

1 can of black beans washed and rinsed

1/2 an onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp of cumin

1 tbsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of oats

Veggies to accompany, I used broccoli stems, lettuce leafs, avocado, hummus.

How to…

In a pan, cook the chopped onion until transparent, then add the butternut squash cut in small cubes.

Let it cook until is soft and then add the beans and spices, rinsed and let the water evaporate as much as possible, this will make the patties drier and easier to work with.

With a food processor or a hand blender, mix all the ingredients and add the oats, this will give your mixture a lot more texture. Add more if required, you want the resulting mixture to be slightly firm.

Form the patties and cool in the freezer for 30 minutes.

You can cook them in the oven for 45 minutes, or in a non sticky pan for about 15. In the oven, they could melt and become a mess, so I would rather the pan, flipping them around a couple of times and bearing in mind they will expand and become bigger so they could invade each other’s personal space. If this is something burgers feel touchy about lol.

Another solution is too cook them with metallic rings around, like the ones that restaurants use to form vertical salads.

You can use these patties to make proper burgers or just eat them with veggies and some avocado as me, because I am a low carb-er. Your choice.

I promise you, no one would be asking for a steak if you serve these.

Happy next Meatless Monday!IMG_6140