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.

Healthy Smoothies 3 ways

Since I have a big batch of granola to make good use of, I have been making smoothies this week. I post way more on Instagram than I do here, so if you like my pics and posts, I recommend you to follow me on IG to get a daily update and nutritional tip 😀

A smoothie bowl is one of those things that look awesome, tastes great and it is very easy to put together. It is also nutritious and quite low in fat (depending how you make it of course) and  high in protein.

I have made these three options but there are endless possibilities that we will get to explore in other posts!

  1. Acai Bowl: really the amount of acai is one tsp. The rest is made of frozen blueberries, strawberry protein powder and coconut milk. It is vegan (if pea protein is used) and I squeeze half a lemon in it too in order to bring out the flavour. The toppings are fig and dried rose buds.img_7024
  2. Strawberry Bowl: the protein here comes from the fat free greek yogurt. Mix 150gr of it with a cup of frozen strawberries, half a lemon again and a pinch of sweetener (i have used liquid sucralose) I find that liquid sweeteners work better for really cold mixtures. Blend in the food processor until smooth, with a dash of coconut milk. For the toppings, fresh blueberries, home made granola and raspberry sauce (for this I mix 2 cups of raspberries with one cup of water, lemon and sweetener and boil until smooth, I removed the peeps with a shifter)

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  1. Matcha Vanilla Protein Bowl. Mix 1 scoop of vanilla protein with one tsp of matcha green tea and blend. Top with blueberries and kiwi fruit and some more granola.

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Have a happy weekend!

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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Super Food Vanilla Caramel Chia Pudding

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I recently came across Chia seeds, you can find plenty of pictures on Pinterest, Instagram and other social media claiming the miraculous properties of this tiny little seeds. I read a bit about them and they really seem to be amazing, the key benefit is the high density of their nutrients, one serving is around 1 ounce (28 grams) and within it, you have 4 gr. Of Protein, 9 gr. Of fat (this is a lot, but 5 of those are Omega 3 which you would want to incorporate to your diet anyway) and 11 gr. Of Fiber. Not to mention that apparently they have more antioxidants that Blueberries, and more calcium gram on gram that dairy, which makes them specially good for people that don’t dairy, like vegans.

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Even when protein and fats can be sourced alternatively within your meals, fiber can be an elusive one specially on low carb diets when no bread, flour or pasta is included. Fiber is essential to keep you fuller for longer, so a dessert made of chia seeds could very well top up a light dinner or lunch, and keep you satisfied until the next morning/dinner.

They are packed with vitamins and all of this for only around 100 calories per serving and the best thing is that they are very versatile. You can sprinkle them on cookies, over porridge, you can have them with drinks and make desserts with them!

They don’t need to be cooked, they absorb so much liquid that they just need to be immersed in it for 24h and let them become a dessert by themselves!

This is my first attempt at them, so I only used half a portion to make one pudding, which made them more liquid than I have seen in other recipes. I think this basically comes down to personal preference and the texture that you like.

When I first tried it I was a bit wary, but it turns out it is actually pretty good! It reminded of those tapioca balls in bubble tea, but in a lot more interesting nutritional package. I totally recommend it!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 tablespoons Chia Seeds (8 if you want a more dense texture)

450 ml of Light Soya Milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon Caramel flavouring no added sugar

4 tablespoons coconut milk (reduced fat)

Sweetener of your choice to taste

How to make them…

So easy! Just mix all the liquid ingredients, if the coconut milk is not liquid, warm it up to mix it with the soya milk first, taste the flavour and add sweetener until you are satisfied.

Pour the chia seeds at the bottom of the containers where you will be making them, I have used the one from Weck because they can be closed and secured with metallic piec

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Add the liquid to the pots, close and shake each one for 30 seconds. Leave for 10 minutes and shake again. Shake again one hour afterwards and then you can leave them in the fridge overnight. They will be ready in the morning!

The seeds will fill up with water and duplicate their size several times. They have a gooey texture but not unpleasant and these soft vanilla and caramel flavour really make them delicious.

Don’t be scared to try new things!

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.