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

 

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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

 

 

 

 

Nutella Slim Nice Cream

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I love ice cream. It is my guilty pleasure, it is the one thing I cannot put down, i just cannot. My husband has to take it from my claw like hands and and look at my how-do-dare face when this happens and I have to fight against it, so simply give in every now and then, because let’s be honest, and life without ice cream, is just not worth living, in my opinion.

Recently I came across this vegan idea for making what has been called nice cream. I guess the nice part comes from the fact that is totally cruelty free, no animal products, nothing chemical… just full of goodness and truly delicious! I promise you it is. I couldn’t believe it myself but it is true.

So this is a very good alternative to the traditional gelato that is made with cream and sugar and you can make it in 3 minutes. I am compiling a series of flavours that work. So far I have mastered Peanut Butter and Nutella, but I have the feeling that the coffee caramel will be amazing too.

Sun is shining upon us today so why not give this a go?? Do you have a ripe banana? You have most of the work done then 😉

Ingredients (for one big portion or two smaller ones)

1 large ripe banana

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 small handful of hazelnuts

A pinch of sweetener

 

How to?

Peel and chop the banana in edible pieces and freeze for about an hour. Then put the frozen banana in a food processor with the hazelnuts and the cocoa powder and the sweetener and blend until you have a smooth deep chocolate colour paste. Serve with your choice of toppings. I tried no topping and some coconut flakes and sliced almonds, but with more time the sky is the limit.

This recipe is sugar free, unprocessed and raw and if you make sure you cocoa is gluten free, it is also gluten free, vegan very low in fat and fabulous.

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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!

 

Lean Sunday Roast

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One of the most important barriers when taking control of one’s diet, is the excuses to one self that come from absolutely rightful issues. My favourite of all times is the lack of time one.

Lack of time is actually a fallacy, we all have 24h in the day, the only difference is how do we make our use of them, which is generally according to our priorities.

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When you have kids, the time seems to disappear between your fingers and the things that suffer the most are generally your own wellbeing and more and more in our society, the home cooking.

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There is simply no time for it. This is a mistake because our children are learning what we are teaching them as parents, if we do not cook at home and we don’t take care of our diets, they will learn the same patterns and they will grow up to be individuals with really bad habits.

 

Today I want to share a recipe that will allow you to both, home cook and teach your children some good nutrition basics, and also will enable you to get easy access to a healthy lunches during the week, even if you don’t have kids, this is the foundation of food prepping.

It is as simple as cooking extra. Are 2 at home? 4?? Then cook twice as much and simply pack away the extra portions in neat Tupperware in the fridge. On Sunday I generally cook my lunch and breakfast for Monday to Thursday and on Thursday eve, I cook extra and make another portion for Friday.

 

Today’s super easy recipe is a Lean Sunday Roast.

The particularities of this roast versus the one served at the pub is that this one doesn’t contain simple carbs, so we will not have the traditional gravy, but a lower fat and carb alternative, and we will also be skipping the potatoes in favour of some celeriac root. With regards to the Yorkshire pudding, I skip them altogether, but you can bake your own using wholegrain spelt flour, however, if you have enough veggies and roast, you won’t actually need it, it will just make your digestion heavier and you will end up feeling bloated!

 

Ingredients:

1 lean cut of beef to roast (1.5 kg would feed 4 and 4 portions would be leftovers)

3 peppers of different colours

4 onions peeled and cut in rings

1 courgette/zucchini

1 aubergine

2 carrots

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

½ a celeriac root

Fresh rosemary

½ a glass of white wine

Salt & pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

 

Pre heat the oven at 180C and in a big oven tray, set all the chopped vegetables. Chop them in medium chunks trying to end up with similar size pieces so they cook evenly. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary and sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and some water.

Rub the piece of meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, set in a tray or directly on top of the vegetables and roast for about 45 minutes depending on the size of the piece.

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Bear in mind that all the juices of the vegetables and the meat will be in the tray so you can recover them from the parchment. In order to make the gravy, take a piece of the roasted courgette and a piece of the celeriac and mash them with the sauce so it becomes a bit thicker. Add more salt to it if needed and serve with the meat.

 

Serve a good portion of roasted vegetables and 2 or 3 thin slices of meat.

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For the rest of the week: boil some lentils and in a Tupperware divide the remaining meat and vegetables and complement with one or two tablespoons of boiled lentils and you will have a full size meal, with lots of protein, low in fat and in simple carbs that will keep you up all afternoon.

Happy week dieters.

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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