Slim-Waist-OK Moussaka

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The Greek traditional recipe for Moussaka is not complex but as with many traditional dishes in the Mediterranean cuisine, is very high in fat and quite time consuming. A bit of history of nutrition here that explains why these dishes are generally so highly energetic, they originated in a time of our development when most of our Jobs happened in the fields or taking care of cattle. The energy needs of the peasants and housewives in the old days, were likely to be twice as high as the one of us, sedentary human beings of today.

When you need to find a way to consume 5000 calories a day, a plate of moussaka dripping in oil providing 1000 calories per portion, was actually very good news for our body!! This is the reason why we are programmed, as a race, to rejoice in hyper caloric meals such as a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or a full McDonald meal with French fries and a Sundae. Our caveman brain loves it!! The brain doesn’t know that we don’t have to go to the forest to cut logs for the next 5 hours to prepare for the winter, but to watch Netflix for 6 hours instead while laying on a sofa, and so when we eat such a high amount of nutrients it produces a kick of happy hormones, endorphins, dopamine… Not good!!

We are the only race that eat for emotional reasons and these sneaky hormones might just be the reason for it. I feel sad, I eat chocolate ice cream, I feel better! Magic? No. The problem is that we also the only race with the capacity of abstraction and suffering related to body image issues.

Moussaka and the likes of it, are absolutely delicious scrumptious recipes that we should keep enjoying, however, I prefer to adapt the recipe to make it more fit the needs of our bodies, and I have come up with a low carb, low fat alternative to the traditional one, that tastes really really well and takes significantly less time that the original one.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250 gr. Ground Beef under 5% fat content

500 gr. Canned tomatoes

½ onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Fresh or dried thyme/oregano/basil

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

Salt & pepper to taste

4 drops of sweeter

1 Eggplant

40 gr of grated cheese

100 gr of 0% Greek yogurt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To prepare this recipe I use two small over proof non sticky plates, each one serves 2 and I freeze one.

First of all, turn on the over at 150 C degrees and let it warm up. Wash the eggplant and cut it in slices, ½ a cm thick. Cover an oven tray with baking paper and spread the aubergine slices evenly. Sprinkle with salt and leave them “sweat” for 5 to 10 minutes while the over gets to the right temperature.

In the meantime, chop the onion very finely and poach it in 1 tbsp of olive oil at medium heat. Add the 2 cloves of garlic & salt and when they are all transparent and soft, add the canned tomatoes.

By now the oven should be hot, put the aubergine in the middle and let it roast for 10 minutes while you finish the tomato sauce.

Add the spices to the tomato sauce, the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, sweetener and herbs, smashing the tomatoes to pieces with a fork. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. After 10 minutes in the oven, turn the eggplants around and let them cook for another 5 minutes.

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Take the aubergines out of oven but don’t turn it off.

Now, we are not using any white sauce or oil to cover the base of the plate but some of the tomato sauce instead so reserve one or two tablespoons. Then add the ground meat to the remaining tomato sauce and let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes, and correct the salt and pepper.

Once you have the aubergines, the meat with the tomato and the plain tomato, is time to build up the moussaka!

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Put the plain tomato on the base of the plate, then line it up with roasted aubergine. It might look a bit dry, and considerably drier than if you would have fried it in oil, but once in the oven all the juices will mix and they will be soft and melty. Set a layer of meat over the aubergine and then drop 3 or 4 hazel sized dollops of 0% fat Greek yogurt, on it, this substitutes the white sauce and it will add a creamy taste to the dish without any added fat and with lots of protein instead. Then add another layer of aubergine pressing down to make sure everything is nice and tight and if your dish is full, sprinkle with the grated cheese for the gratin.

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If you have a higher dish or a larger one, you might want to have 2 layers of meat and aubergine, in any case is the same!

One is ready, just cook in the oven for 20 minutes and serve with a green salad.

Enjoy!

Turkey Parmesan Salad

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TGIF! One of those days… this week has been sooo long, and sooo many things have happened that it feels like it has been a week and a half. Those days is it hard to bring yourself to cook or do anything at all.

So today just a quick lunch or light dinner idea! A simple green salad with a pan fried turkey steak on top. Add some shaven parmesan (just 2 or 3 sleeves for a hint of saltiness) and a bit of red cabbage for added fiber.

Two spoonful of cooked quinoa to make it more filling and dress with lemon juice or white wine vinegar (balsamic vinegar is generally very high in sugar) a pinch of salt and 1/2 a tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and that is it!

So easy, so healthy, so delicious. No need to think any further.

Happy weekend to all of you.

Chicken & Quinoa Superfood Stir Fry

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Today I would like to talk about “food prep” which is a widely known concept in the bodybuilding community and it is not a new concept at all, but a modern way of calling the good “lunch box” that most have taken to school at some point or another.

It does take a bit of planning and effort to start doing it, but the benefits are many.

I know that there is an endless supply of possibilities to grab lunch for most of us, since canteens, take always and local delis abound and it is just too tempting to skip the hassle and just buy something off the shelves. While this is all well and good, eating like that every single way of the week can be taxing. Even if you are the person with the best intentions in the world, there are only so many healthy alternatives one can choose from, and the chances of ending up having a white bread sandwich or a BTL are just too big.

Even if you think you are going for a healthy alternative, you might be stepping into the dangers of not knowing how this particular food has been cooked.

For example, if a salad get added a sugary dressing, all the goodness of it might be compromised, and believe me, do yourselves a favour and read the ingredients of the labels to really be aware of what they are selling you as a “light” alternative, because most of the time, the reduced fat alternatives are loaded with sugars that are actually worse than the original oil content.

A simple olive oil, vinegar and salt dressing, is the best alternative if you can find it.

Same thing can be said for the fat content in two ways, the first one and more obvious is the sauces. A Thai curry sauce adds a huge amount of fat and carbohydrates to a meal and you may be thinking that what you are eating is “rice and chicken” when effectively there are about 300 calories of sugar and fat that you hadn’t taken into consideration, same goes for sweet wine reductions, caramelized things and satay sauces, but the list is truly long. The second is the way in which foods are cooked. Anything that has a coating, and has been fried is an obvious no go, doesn’t matter how light the coating may look to you, it adds a few undesirable grams of fat to your meal. Even if you are trying to control your weight, this additional fat constitutes a risk because in most cases, restaurants do not use extra virgin olive oil or other healthy fats, but cheaper alternatives that can affect your cholesterol and jeopardize your arteries and heart.

In a nutshell, whether or not you are trying to lose weight, a homemade meal is almost always a better alternative to a store bought one.

Later on this week I will be giving tips on what and how to prepare your food without too much hassle at all, with just a few easy tricks you will be able to improve the quality of your nutrition, save some money and maybe even loose a few pounds.

Today I would like to share with you a Chicken and Quinoa Stir fry, it is one of my favorite options to bring to the office because it contains everything that my body requires, it fills you up with slow releasing energy, with healthy fats, tons of protein and low GI carbs. Low fat, low carb, high protein, unprocessed and very high in fiber. What is there not to love!

Ingredients (serves 3)

450 grams of chicken breast

120 gr. Of quinoa

½ red pepper

½ green pepper

½ yellow pepper

1 red onion

3 mini bok choy

A bunch of green asparagus

A handful of snow peas

2 handfuls of Kale

5 fresh coriander stalks

1 red chili

1 green chili

1 tsp. of mustard seeds

1 tbs. crushed garlic

A little sesame oil

I have prepared a visual guide on how to add the ingredients but it is so easy that you may not actually need it.

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First boil the quinoa in water with a touch of salt, follow the packaging instructions but it should normally take 16 minutes at low heat (to keep simmering).

Once the quinoa is ready, chop all the ingredients (check picture) and heat up a little bit of sesame oil in a wok. Add fist the garlic, then the seeded mustard and then the chicken. Allow the chicken to get a bit golden and then add the rest of the vegetables except the bok choy and kale, that will be added at the end.

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Once all the veggies have been incorporated add the soy sauce, mix well to allow the flavours to mix and add the quinoa. Finally sprinkle with the juice of a lime.

Quinoa Stir Fry

Enjoy!

Skinny Savoury Pumpkin Fritters & Avocado Mash

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With Halloween almost upon us, I thought today it would be the best day to share with you a recipe that features (again) the star ingredient of the season, PUMPKIN!!

In this case a delicious one we had a couple of weeks ago for brunch in east London.

Asian style pumpkin fritters with lots of spices and avocado mash.

Great for breakfast or brunch, with healthy fats from the avocado, slow carbs and high in fiber, and if you make them like this, also very low in fat and quite calorie controlled!

This version is vegan but it was quite difficult to pan fry the batter, I think that adding a couple of whisked eggs to the mixture would help with the consistency.

It would also be great with a poached egg on top.

Ingredients (for 2 or 3 people)

350 grams of butternut squash or pumpkin

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of grated ginger

½ onion finely chopped

1 red chili

2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander

1 tbsp mustard with seeds

1 tbsp black sesame seeds

2 tbsp oat bran or oat flour

Salt & pepper

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For the avocado mash…

1 avocado

½ lemon

salt

To make these, boil the pumpkin until soft and add all the spices. Mash until everything is blended. Spray a non-sticky pan with extra virgin olive oil and when hot, add a dollop of the mixture, spread to form a 5 cm oblong fritter and let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes. With the help of a spatula, turn around and repeat. If your pan is big enough probably worth making 2 or 3 at the time.

It was delicious with a bit of Jalapeno Tabasco sauce too.

While they cook, you can mash in a bowl a whole ripe avocado with a dash of lemon juice and some salt (to your taste). Serve together with a slice of lemon and some salad.

Happy Halloween!

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Best Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

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Easy start of the week… Mondays have an awful fame for taking us all back to reality and to a world of obligations. What we have to do, our jobs, homes, groceries, children, families, noises. Lazy Sundays leave way to a feeling of having to be back on track. No more ice cream watching that movie and a bit of guilt. This is why I love cooking a bit pot of soup of Mondays that will last me until Friday. Today I would like to share with you an Autumn recipe that is hearty, filling and delicious and of course it’s been made with love and little fat to keep your hearts happy and your hips tight.

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Autumn is the season of falling leaves, of yellows and oranges, or warm cozy jumpers of blankets, of Halloween, and in the midst of all this, of Pumpkins!! Starbucks brings their inglorious Pumpkin Spice Latte and I bring the glorious Butternut squash Spice Soup, as they say, each to their own.

A bit on the nutrition side of things… Butternut squash is a pumpkin that has an elongated body and a big butt, a bit like most women 😉 pumpkin are very sweet, like carrots, when cooked they are perfect to bake pies and cakes due this high content of natural occurring sugars, so in principle I wouldn’t recommend having too much pumpkin if you are trying to lose weight, however, their glycemic charge, this is the total amount of carbohydrate that they contain, is relatively low so if the portions are controlled there is no reason to avoid it. This soup is still very low in fat, low in carbs and GI and perfect starter. Additionally it contains a fair amount of curcuma, which is highly antioxidant, helps digestion and it has been linked to Alzheimer prevention and glucose absorption reduction on people with diabetes.

Personally from a taste point of view I find pumpkin soup a bit too sweet so I much prefer the curried version that has a bit of a spice kick and it is much nicer. This version is vegetarian but I have come across the exact same thing but including bacon and I will surely try it in the near future.

Ingredients (serves 4)

½ Butternut Squash

2 Onions

1 vegetable stock cube in 1 liter of water

½ tsp Paprika

1 tsp curcuma

½ tsp ground pepper

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

¾ tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Green Tabasco Sauce

Salt to taste

A few sesame seeds & coriander to decorate

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Peel and chop the onions and cook them for a couple of minutes in olive oil. Add the butternut squash, mix well and add the spices. Let them soak for 1 or 2 minutes and add the stock. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer until the squash is soft and melty, around 15 to 20 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt to taste if needed. Since this recipe has so many spices you might as well skip the salt, it does wonders for water retention to eat lower sodium.

If you are happy with the taste, blend together with a hand blender until the soup is a smooth silky consistency and there are no “boats” floating around.

These soups and anything that contains multiple spices will taste better after a few hours, but if you can’t wait it will still be delicious!

Follow me on Instagram for daily tips & recipes @noledigasanadiequeestoyaqui

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Easy Heathy Dinners: Fake Black Truffle Carbonara Pasta

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I don’t know about your homes, but at mine, some people like to eat pasta for dinner. I can’t blame them, it is delicious and if you get hungry to dinner time, it will make you feel full with no doubt. For me though pasta for dinner is too heavy and it is not healthiest option before bed. As an alternative, a friend recommended me one of those special graters to cut vegetables in the shape of noodles.

What a great idea! So this was my first go at it! A healthier carbonara alternative to traditional pasta.

This was made with zucchini, low fat cream mixed with non-fat soya milk and English smoked bacon, trimmed of the excessive fat.

I promise you it will feel like you are doing something wrong! 😉

Ingredients (serves 2)

4 bacon rashers trimmed of fat

2 zucchinis peeled and cut in noodle shape

2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese grated

1 tbsp. of chopped onion

1 black truffle, grated

Pan fry the bacon with no fat at all, when toasted, add the onion and when this goes transparent, add the cream and milk mixture. Let it simmer for 5 minutes so the sauce gets some consistency and the flavours mix. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, serve and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

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This dish is a bit high in fat, but since the content in carbohydrate is so low, it is not a bad options. Avoid having it on days when your other meals have been fat heavy.

Enjoy!

Easy Healthy Dinners: Stuffed Portobello mushroom & chicken salad

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I have to come clear on this one, I didn’t actually cook this. I went out for a drink with a friend and my husband stayed home and took care of dinner.

It was a lovely surprise to come back to such a delicious display specially when it involved zero effort from my side 😉

I thought it was so good and so healthy, that it was worthy of this compilation of dinners!

So here you go, this is what he swears to me that he put in it.

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 big Portobello mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic

Salt & pepper

A pinch Parsley &

1 tbsp. olive oil

A little dash of vinegar

50gr. Crumbled feta cheese

For the salad

Gem lettuce

Spring onion

Tomato

Roast chicken breast sliced

Dressed with: sesame oil, salt and vinegar

Chop all the ingredients to the minimum and mix in a bowl until you have a paste, wash the mushrooms, fill them with the mixture and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes in 160C. Use this time to assemble the salad and dress it.

Bear in mind that sesame oil is very intense and you only need a little bit of it to make it flavourful

Chicken salad

Garnish the mushroom with a parsley leaf for decoration.