How to eat Pasta

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Pinch with a fork, take fork to mouth, place pasta in your mouth, chew until the food has become a paste, then swallow. Possibly gush down with a bit of red wine. Easy right?

Now, pasta is healthy food. Most food is actually healthy food. Look at the Italians, they have it everyday and their country is rather slim and the life expectancy is one of the longest in the world.  For most of us non Italians though, pasta has come into our homes as a cheese and butter smothered mixture that resembles more a fast food option than a real meal.

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Pasta is meant to be eaten with vegetables, fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, fresh seafood and olive oil, with only a drizzle of grana padano or parmesano on top. Not a lot of people know that a carbonara sauce has no cream, but egg yolk. Of course everyone is free to enjoy pasta as they want, but if you are looking to enjoy pasta in a delicious, healthy way, check out this recipe, which I learnt in my last trip to lake Como.

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The pasta I have used is wholegrain rye macaroni which provides 14gr of fibre per each 100 grams and its manufacturing process makes it less taxing on the blood sugar levels. Cooks in 7 minutes and it should be cooled down after boiling, this brings the glycemic index even lower. The flavour is absolutely superb.

Ingredients (serves 2)

6 tbsp home made tomato sauce

100 gr. of uncooked pasta

3 cubes of frozen spinach

1/2 onion

1 clove of garlic

100 gr. ricotta cheese

2 tbsp grated grana padano cheese

Pinch of salt

How to…

Let the spinach unfreeze for a couple of hours. Boil the pasta according to the pack instructions with salt, wash with water and keep aside. In a pan, cook the onion with the garlic in a small amount of olive oil, make sure it’s very finely cut. xt19400.jpg

When cooked, add the spinach with a pinch of salt and mix well, until it’s incorporated. In a separate bowl mix the ricotta with the spinach mixture and the pasta.

In a plate, make a base with the tomato sauce, then pile up half of the spinach pasta mix and top with the grated cheese. You can microwave for 30 seconds to make sure all the elements are warm and to melt the cheese on top.

Enjoy!

 

Best Pea & Spinach Soup

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I promise you it is the best you will ever have. Well maybe you are very stubborn and will not be willing to admit it, but it will be at least top 3! What is special about this soup, is that is based on a traditional Finnish soup that I tried many years ago.

I had never been a massive fan of peas… I guess like most children, those mushy, green little balls were mainly something I had to patiently remove from paellas, rices, other foods that I liked…mainly an annoyance this is. Luckily for me, I developed a brain later on in life, and I became more adventurous with food, this paired with an excellent parental education that engraved in my brain the fact that “If you go to someone else’s house, you eat what you are given and you say how good it was” led me to trying for the first time the winning combination that makes this soup special. Mustard!

I know now you are still reading out of curiosity, so please know that Ham and Pea soup has been a traditional northern European speciality for centuries and traditionally, incorporates this seasoning into it, giving it a tart, vinagre like punch that is just so delicious! Since I don’t eat meat, I have developed a vegan alternative to this traditional soup, also incorporating spinach to make the traditional soup a bit lighter and removed the ham. If you are a meat eater, don’t hesitate to add a bit of ham in the cooking process and blending it together and you will get a smoky, delicious flavour.

Peas are also a very respectable source of many things. At only 74 calories per each 100 gr. of product, you get 5 to 6 gr. of fibre, 6 gr. of protein and very good levels of iron, calcium, vitamin C and magnesium along with multiple vitamins. It is also low in sugars and the carbohydrate content is of slow absorption making them perfect for weight loss diets, low carb diets, and diabetic patients (regardless of their medication of course).

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What else can I say… it is also very easy to make so totally worth trying and including this soup into your every day diets, without a doubt!

Ingredients (serves 5)

300 gr. frozen or fresh peas

300 gr. frozen spinach

1 Onion finely chopped

1 l. of vegetable stock (if doing the vegan option, if going for the traditional one, just add a 200gr. clean piece of smoked ham or a ham bone)

Dijon Mustard

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

How to…

In a very small amount of olive oil, cook the onion finely chopped until transparent. Then add the frozen peas, the spinach and add the vegetable stock (or the ham and water), salt and pepper and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Remove one cup of the peas and set aside and blend the rest of the mixture correcting the level of water, it could be too dry or too liquid and therefore your soup would be too liquid or too chunky. We want the soup to be a little chunky though, kind of thick, but of course this is a personal choice! Once the soup is roughly blended is ready to be served.

In a bowl, serve the amount of soup you wish, add a teaspoon of dijon mustard on top and some drops as decoration. Garnish with some of the peas you had set aside and if you want, with a bit of mint and enjoy. img_9888

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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Easy Healthy Dinners: Lamb & Spinach gratin

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This is a really easy way of using leftovers, when preparing some spinach from my previous post Almost Creamed Spinach, just cook some extra and keep it in the fridge to use the following nights!

For this recipe, just pan fry in a really hot pan a 350 gr lamb fillet, then slice in half and then each half in smaller pieces (around 1 cm thick). Reheat the spinach and sprinkle some grated cheese on top.

Bon appetite!

Healthy Almost creamed spinach

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So before we jump into the weekend, I would like to share with you an old favourite of mine. It is a spinach based dish that can work as side dish to a main of meat of fish or tofu, or as a starter, minding the portions of course.

Spinach is one of those super foods that deserves the name and lives up to it, anyone born in the 70s and 80s will remember how Popeye convinced us all that spinaches would make us big and strong and you know what? he was right!

This green leaf has plenty of desirable effects in our body, it is low in carbs and fat like all the vegetables, but also it is very high in protein, nearly 3 gr per 100 gr of product, and also very high in fibre. This means that we fill fuller for the right reasons, and it helps the intestinal transit. Over and above this, there is the high contents of iron, Vitamin A, C, K and some of the group B and high contents of magnesium, calcium and potassium, all these, key to strong bones, and to avoid water retention.

It is very antioxidant and helps improving your vision and has some components that are responsible for strength building on your muscles (Popeye!!)

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The downside is that is not very good for people with kidney stones since there is a component in them that could worsen this condition, but if you are in tip top condition, jump ahead.

Some people don’t like spinach because they consider them bland and can only enjoy them when they come as a side of creamed spinach, which is a shame because all that cream and cheese kind of take away the benefit of it.

My version of this dish is much lower in fat and much higher in protein since I add cooked ham to it, making it more of a starter or even as a light dinner option.

Excuse the fast taken pics, but I hope they look yummy enough to make you want to try it.

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 squares of frozen spinach (or two portions as stated in the packaging)

120 gr of cooked ham

1/4 onion

1 clove of garlic

1/2 tbsp. of olive oil

1 tomato

50 gr of gruyere/parmesan cheese grated

Salt

In a cooking pot, cook the frozen spinach for about 5 minutes or until the frozen blocks are totally undone. Then rinse and let in a strainer to loose the water.

Then chop the onion really finely and the garlic clove and sauté them in a pan on medium heat. Cut the ham in little pieces. My trick is to make rolls and then cut it with the scissors. Then chop the tomato in small cubes.

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Put the heat up and when the pan is hotter add the ham, ideally, it needs to be a bit toasted outside, then add the tomato cubes and salt. Let simmer in low heat fro 5 minutes, then sprinkle the cheese and let it melt on top for a couple of minutes. Serve immediately.