Totally Healthy Brownies

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Chocolate comes from the Cocoa Tree which is original from Mexico. Legend has it that Quetzalcoatl gave it as a present to mankind and so its name means God’s Food in greek. It had enormous political, social and religious meaning all across Central America and it first came to Europe in the hands of the Spanish conquerors.

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Initially it was consumed mixed with cane sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, and it was a beverage. It remained a liquid pleasure until 1928 when cocoa butter started to be extracted and at the end of the XIX century the first pralines were born.

There is something warm and cosy in a cup of hot cocoa in a rainy day, this might be because it is sweet and delicious but also because cocoa has a good dose of fibre and micronutrients that produce a feeling of wellbeing.

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Brownies came later. Most people that enjoy a healthy dose of chocolate know that the darker the better and that it’s not the healthiest thing you can eat, so for all of us that love a bit of that nutty, utterly chocolaty flavour, here you have a healthy version.

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Gluten free, refined sugar free, Low GI and very low carb. Win win win win and vegan.

I hope you like it. Best served with a cup of tea.

 

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Ingredients (makes 9 brownies)

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 60 gr. unsweetened dark chocolate 
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs or flax eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 espresso coffee
  • 10 walnut halves, crushed

How to…

In a pot, melt the oil, and the chocolate and add the cocoa powder. Then add the sugar, salt and the coffee. Let cool down for 5 minutes and then add the eggs and the rest of the ingredients and bake at 180C for 25 minutes.

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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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Fab & Healthy Rhubarb Crumble

 

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Crumbles are one of the easiest recipes to adapt to low carb and since they are mainly made of fruit, they respond very well to the change and you can barely tell the difference. In this case I have taken on the traditional rhubarb crumble and it has turned out delicious.

Can you believe that people in Spain have never heard of Rhubarb? A few years ago when I first tried to replicate this recipe, I struggled a lot to find it, I had to order it and it took a week to come. I started then to research why was that and apparently it is due to the fact that Spain has good weather and great soil. Ha!

According to my findings, rhubarb is a vegetable that grows in soils that are not great for other plants and they have enormous amounts of oxalic acid, which makes it potentially poisonous to humans, specially in summer and autumn when the concentration has become higher. Don’t worry though, the poison in the leaves, so as long as you stick to the stems, you should be fine.

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It is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cure for constipation and it is also good for mouth sores although the acid content attacks the enamel so be careful with consuming it very often. Due to this content, it can block the iron absorption so bear that in mind when composing your menu, it may not be the best dessert for a lentil soup.

Made like this, the Rhubarb Crumble is Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo friendly, low carb, has no added sugar and it is ok for diabetics. Perfect to have a sweet finish to your meal and super easy to make.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500 gr. rhubarb stems

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbsp. xylitol

For the crumble

80 gr. coconut oil or butter (if not vegan)

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. almond meal

1 tbsp. xylitol

How to…

Chop the rhubarb in 2 cm long pieces and heat up in a pan with the xylitol and the ginger until it is soft, about 8 minutes. Try for flavour, the rhubarb’s acidity varies and it could need more sweetener.

In a bowl, mix the oil/butter, coconut flour, almond meal and xylitol and work with your hands until you get a crumbly texture.

Distribute the rhubarb in 4 small ramekins, top with the crumble and place in the oven for 15 minutes at 160 degrees. Check that the tops of the crumble and nice and golden and take out when they look ready. The coconut flour takes longer to change colour so bear that in mind.

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Serve with soy cream or coconut yogurt mixed with cream (to lighten up consistency) on the side, or if not vegan, with normal cream or low fat yogurt mixed with milk. The sauce should be a bit liquid so you can pour it over the crumble while it’s warm, it gives a nice sweet and cold contrast.

Some people eat it with custard or vanilla ice cream so… take your pick!

I decorated mine with flowers from my garden and mint leaves.

Enjoy!

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!

 

 

Skinny Green Tea Cheesecake Recipe

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How is this even possible?  175 Calories per portion!! Wohooo!! Through the magic of low carb, birch sugar and low fat cream cheese. This recipe is not vegan, but there are some vegan adaptations that I will highlight, since it was not possible to me to get hold of coconut yogurt, I was unable to try it the vegan way. Some places are less supplied with these alternatives, unfortunately!

This is a traditional New York style cheesecake (baked) but with a twist, to please cheesecake lovers since a slice of this a day, if it fits your daily nutrition needs, wont jeopardise your weight loss efforts. It is also a great way to teach your children to cook and not be feeding them excessive sugar by the way.

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Instead of the traditional biscuits for the base, we are going to use a mixture of almond flour and coconut flour. Generally, low carb diets or keto substitute the flour with almond meal, I have swapped half of it for coconut flour because the later has an incredible nutritional profile if you are trying to lose weight or if you are sensitive to carbohydrates. It is incredibly high in fibre, it is literally pretty much the highest content on it. Pretty low in fat (surprisingly since all things coconut usually are very high in this macronutrient) and so it makes it our new best baking friend. It’s fine texture, no sugar, low carb, low fat, high fibre combo has made it a seriously good alternative for gluten free, paleo and general weight loss diets.

This cake’s flavour, as you can probably guess by the electric green colour is Matcha tea, but you can adjust the ingredients to your own tasting, I might try the peanut butter chocolate flavour next week, I will let you know how it goes.

It is very easy to make, and the only trick is to be accurate with the time, or have the eye to know when is time to take out of the oven!

This recipe provides per serving if cooked like explained below: 175 Calories, 9.7 gr. of Fat, 13.5 protein, 8.5 Carbs (of which net 3.5)

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Ingredients (serves 12)

For the filling

500 gr. Low fat cream cheese (or coconut yogurt)

2 tbsp matcha tea

2 eggs (or eggless substitute as per pack instructions)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup xylitol (birch sugar)

For the crust

150 gr. Almond meal

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. xylitol (birch sugar) or your favourite sugar substitute

1 tbsp. butter or coconut oil

How to…

In a bowl, mix the crust ingredients and press down to form the base of your cake in a removable mold and bake in a pre heated oven (200 degrees) for 12 minutes. Let cool down completely.

In a large bowl mix the cream cheese with all the rest of the ingredientes, adding the eggs at the end, and saving one tbsp of matcha tea to decorate. Once the base is cold and solid, pour the mixture and bake at 180C for 30 to 45 minutes and this will depend on the depth of your mold. The deeper it is, the longer it will take. The key to knowing when it’s ready is to move the cake a little and when the centre wiggles a little, but it is firm for the rest, then it will be ready. Let sit in the oven with the door open for another 10 minutes and then let cool. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating and decorate with red berries and the rest of the matcha tea (you can use a shifter).

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Protein Vegan Pasta Bolognesa

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If you read my blog on a regular basis, you probably know by now, I am slightly obsessed with protein. This is because I know for a fact that in this particular macronutrient is were the basis for a more balanced diet lays.

Since I stopped eating meat and I only fish on occasions, how to get high amounts of protein in my meals has become a concern and I am always looking for alternatives to traditional lean proteins (your poultry, red meat etc.)

Even though the body can survive on a much smaller percentage of protein than we think, when we are talking about diet and weight control, protein has the ability to keep us fuller for longer and our body uses up about 30% of its total calorie content in digestion. This is called the foods thermogenic effect. I am constantly striving to offer you delicious, yet healthy alternatives to traditional foods, in case like me, you are on the unfortunate part of the world that puts weight easily.

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In this case I wanted to show you a pasta dish that is made with chick pea fusilli. That is it, I swear to you that this is the only ingredient, 100% chick pea flour. It provides 6 gr. of fibre, 50 gr. of carbohydrates and a whooping 20gr. of protein per 100 gr. My portion though is 50 grams and I add to it some vegan “mince” with home made tomato sauce, fresh cherry tomatoes, yellow and red pepper and fresh basil. I cook my pasta for 9 minutes with a handful of broccoli florets thrown in half way, to increase the size of my plate adding goodness but not calories.

I am sure you will be able to find similar alternatives in supermarkets near you, they are increasingly popular. You can find them lentil, soja and chick pea based and even though the brands have different flavours, you can try until you find your favourite. This one tasted just like regular fusilli. The added benefit is that these are gluten free!

This is a way to get your family to eat less meat and no one will notice the difference!

Ingredients (serves 2)

100 gr. chick pea fusilli

200 ml. home made tomato sauce (no added sugar)

5 cherry tomatoes

1 cup red and yellow pepper chopped

Fresh basil

2 cups broccoli

2 tbsp. of parmesan cheese or vegan alternative

115 gr. of vegan “mince” or extra lean mince meat

How to…

In a cooking pot, boil some water with salt and add the fusilli, let cook for 4 minutes and then add the broccoli and let boil for another 5 minutes (check your pasta cooking instructions and add the broccoli just 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time).

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Once cooked, throw away the water and reserve the pasta. In the same cooking pot, add the cherry tomatoes and the chopped peppers and spray with olive oil, let cook for a couple of minutes and add the tomato sauce. Add the vegan mince, this is already cooked so you wont have to wait long. Mix in the pasta and broccoli and 1 tbsp of the vegan or parmesan cheese.

Divide in two plates and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and fresh basil and enjoy.

Slimming Matcha Vanilla Breakfast

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On an evolution of one of my favourite smoothies, I have created a new breakfast that is super easy, very healthy and can be prepared in advanced.

Preparing breakfast in advance is the best way to control your diet and start the day how it should, with a protein rich breakfast, high in fibre to keep you fuller for longer. It is not difficult, and you can change the flavour rather easily.

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Last week I posted a chocolate one, today a Vanilla Matcha one and I will keep posting variations and different recipes you can use to get your diet under control.

Ingredientes (per person)

30 gr Oat Bran

1/2 vanilla protein powder

250 ml unsweetened coconut milk

1 tsp matcha green tea

1 tsp Maca Powder (optional)

How to…

In a blender, mix the milk, the protein and the matcha until it is smooth. When mixed, heat up and add the oat bran, when is hot, turn it off and distribute in ramekin dishes or any container for the fridge. Serve with a small array of fruit to decorate.

This provides 17 gr. of Carbs, 5 Fat, 15 gr Protein and 195 calories.

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Happy Valentine’s day!

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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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!