I never used to love sauerkraut. In fact, I kind of hated the stuff. I never really got it, until I fell in love with fermented foods ( kimchi was the real gateway drug in this story). Now, I love the stuff. The sauerkraut I had in Germany was amazing…
This is lovely and can’t wait to give it a go. Healthy, easy and delish!
On the table in under half an hour, these parcels are a quick and healthy supper. Cod and watercress together are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and iron. Served on a bed of Mediterranean brown rice, this main course will keep you fuller…
For some reason, back in 2012, in an attempt to eat more vegetarian meals I bought a bag of dried mung beans without knowing anything about the best ways to cook them. Come to think of it I can’t even remember why they are supposed to be good for me! 😀
At first I thought I’d use them to make a mung bean salad and they were sort of revolting so I gave up eating them altogether for a while. However, “knowing” that the original plan was a good one I set out to find recipes that would make these beans taste interesting.
Lo and behold after a lot of Googling I found a recipe that managed to make mung beans taste good (with a few mods) and so here it is, rather appropriate for when the sun goes down and we are reminded that it’s only April and we are closer to the North Pole than the Equator.
Mung Bean Soup
A heart warming dish for when we can't be asked to go out shopping and all we have in the pantry is a bag of mung beans.
In a small pot add the onion, the garlic, the ginger and the olive oil and cook on a low heat for a few minutes until the onions look transparent and they are soft. Add the turmeric, the cumin powder, the lime juice and some of the coriander then season to taste.
Add the soaked mung beans and lightly fry for a couple of minutes, then pour in the vegetable stock and allow to simmer for 30/40 minutes until the beans are cooked but not soggy.
Remove from the heat and allow to rest for a couple of minutes. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle some more coriander on top before serving.
Today is an uncharacteristically warm Spring day and we didn’t fancy anything too hot to eat but at the same time we wanted something nourishing to help us recover from the lack of excitement in today’s Chinese GP (Forza Seb, Forza Kimi).
My other half suggested a refreshing rice salad which took a whole 18 min to prepare. There will be plenty more of these to come as the temperatures go up so I shall be making them in i dustrial quantities and keep them boxed up ready to use when I have a busy week.
You could say this is the Italian version of Special Fried Rice, except it's not fried.
Rinse the rice to remove some of the starch and then add to a pan with boiling water. Add salt.
Meanwhile in a large bowl add the Frankfurters cubed, the olives, the mixed antipast (I used sun dried tomatoes, sweet peppers and artichokes) and the cheese also cubed (ideally I would use Emmenthal but couldn't find any so I used some Cheddar and Double Gloucester).
At this stage you could also add some boiled eggs (chopped up) and some anchovies or even substitute the oily antipasti with fresh vegetables.
When the rice is cooked drain it and rinse it with cold water to keep it al dente.
Yes you read that right: you can make delicious cakes mixing fruit and vegetables.
On this occasion I used potatoes to substitute part of the flour to help retain some of the moisture that would otherwise be lost if I just used ordinary gluten free flour. And the combined flavour of apples and potatoes goes so well together it should be made illegal.
In a feable attempt to mitigate the damages done by all the sugars in the cake I replaced some of the gluten free flour with mixed nuts flour (made by simply mixing a bunch of mixed nuts in the blender until they resemble flour) and with my unflavoured whey protein powder. This way I have increased the protein/carbs ratio slightly with the aim of reducing the massive insuline spike (i.e. fat storing) that will inevitably follow.
This recipe is NOT for you if you are desperately trying to lose fat and get into an awesome shape in time for your holidays. However, if you are not bothered by any of the above AND you want a treat that’s better than anything you can buy from a store then have a go without regrets.
Btw, this apple and potato cake recipe comes from my book of ancient Italian recipes. I don’t even know where it came from but I often find little gems in it and in addition I get to practice my ancient Italian as that’s how the recipes are written. The final product is soooo delicious that it’s very difficult no to eat the whole lot in one go.
Recipe: Apple and Potato cake
A delicious way to use up your stash of apples and potatoes. Incorporating some damage limitation.
First of all you’ll need to steam and mash the potatoes with some added butter and perhaps some milk if they are too dry.
You can then add the sugar (or agave syrup), the vanilla extract and the eggs one at the time. How many eggs you use depends on how big you want the cake. For this one I used 4 eggs.
The next step is to add the gluten free flour and mix it well with the eggy potato mixture, when it’s starting to gain consistency it’s time to add the mixed nuts flour (mixed nuts blitzed in the food blender). When the cake mixture has reached the correct consistency (soft not too dry) it’s time to add the baking powder and the raisins (previously soaked in warm water).
Take the cake tin and smother it with butter and then dust it with flour. Add 2/3rds of the cake mix and cover with a layer of sliced apples. Spread the remaining cake mixture over the apples and then cover with another layer of sliced apples in a decorative way. You can sprinkle some more nuts on top or gloss the apples with honey water or egg whites.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 40 mins or until a matchstick comes out dry.
Today is Easter and as part of my boyfriend’s Italianship (learning to be like an Italian) we are spending all day in the kitchen cooking awesome food. Just like my mum does.
After eating insane quantities of chemical Tiramisu’ bought from various supermarkets, we decided to try and make our own using real ingredients that had never been in a lab. BUT for the first attempt we waited until we arrived in Milan (back in March) where we would be able to buy locally produced everything. Organic.
One of the awesome things about our trips to Italy is that regardless of where we are headed to we always swing by the mega food store near where my parents live on the outskirts of Milan (the area where I grew up). That’s how sad we have become: we get excited about going grocery shopping. The truth is that if you like food going to the supermarket is like taking a kid to a candy store: it’s full of exciting food that tastes awesome but it’s mostly bad for you.
The gluten free aisle is massive and the fruit and veg area is to die for. The selection of organic food available is also much bigger than in any store I have been to in the UK and the price difference is minimal. So for me it’s really a no brainer to opt for the organic produce. Our dessert tasted so much better because of it and my grandmother would have been really proud of my efforts.
Tiramisu’ is super easy to make and relatively healthy despite the sugar and biscuits which you can keep to a minimum anyway. All it takes is approximately 20 minutes of whisking and layering and then it’s all down to the fridge. The key to success is to be super quick in dunking the biscuits in the coffee & liquour before layering them. If you let them get soaked in coffee you are buggered and you need to eat them because otherwise they will give you a mushy base to your Tiramisu’. This is wrong and if you do it a unicorn will die farting rainbows.
The other tricky aspect is that you need to get the mascarpone/eggs ratio correct or, again, the creamy part will stay liquid even after being refrigerated. Hence it’s best to make it thicker and use appliances to whisk it instead of elbow grease. The good news is that the high fat content from eggs and mascarpone will help you stay satiated for a long time and the combination of carbs and fats will make you fat but will give you a lot of energy (hence the name Tiramisu’ = Pick me up).
PLUS life is short and it’s good to enjoy the finest foods from time to time without worrying about the waistline all the time. Unless you are a supermodel and make millions from being slim. Then you should read the next post. There is always next Monday to make things right anyway…
REAL Italian Tiramisu' come una volta
This is how my grandmother used to make Tiramisu'.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks and place in two large bowls.
Add most of the sugar to the yolks and the splodge of vanilla extract. Beat the lot until you get a smooth and firm cream.
Fold in the mascarpone and mix the two together thoroughly and patiently until they have formed a smooth cream.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk them until they are very firm. Ideally if you turned the bowl upside down they would stick to the bottom and not fall out.
Again, carefully and patiently, add the egg whites to the mascarpone cream and mix the two together until you have a lovely cream. Resist the urge to eat the whole lot right now.
Meanwhile pour the coffee and the vermouth in a shallow container, add the remaining sugar and then start soaking the savoiardi one at the time. Be careful at this point: as we discovered the gluten free variety are more resiliant to absorbing the coffee but if you use normal savoiardi they will soak up the coffee extremely quickly, puff up and then disintegrate.
In your final presentation bowl add a first layer of soaked savoiardi, cover in cream, repeat until you run out of ingredients. Finish off with a layer of cream and then sprinkle some cocoa powder on top to finish it off.
Refrigerate for 3+ hrs before serving to let it set and allow the biscuits to soak up some more moisture from the cream.
If like me you have your seasonal organic fruit & veg delivered every week you may find yourself in the same dilemma from time to time: what to do with all the kale in the fridge?
This cruciferous vegetable (from the same family as broccoli and cabbage) has many health benefits: it is said to help lower cholesterol (when steamed), helps lower the risk of at least 5 types of cancer (breast, colon, bladder, ovary and prostate), helps with detoxification, is high in fibre and antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatories. In addition it’s low in calories and so it can be safely used to bulk up a meal without a significant increase in the total amount of calories consumed.
Personally I think kale is an acquired taste that only recently stopped eluding me. I used to eat it because it came in my winter weekly box and because I hate throwing food away but it never filled me up with excitement. Hence one of my recent missions was to find recipes that could make eating kale a pleasant experience.
I must say I succeeded and here is how:
Beef and Kale Soup
A quick and delicious way to make use of kale and enjoy its many health benefits.
There are many factors that can make or break your weight loss efforts. Eating the appropriate amount of food for your body type is just one of them but a very important one.
Whenever I meet a new client part of the process of establishing a base line is looking at their current eating habits. We look at both quality and quantity of food eaten every day. We count calories and we count macros (protein, fat, carbs).
It’s not uncommon for clients to be surprised when I tell them that they are not eating enough food in a day to be able to lose unwanted body fat. And I am not talking about healthy food yet!
You see, if you restrict your calories intake excessively you cause your metabolism to slow down and your stress levels to go up. This means that in addition to making your life miserable by feeling hungry all the time, you are more likely to accumulate fat around your waistline.
But what if you are not feeling hungry? Sometimes it can be difficult to rack up 1500+ KCal of healthy clean food when you don’t feel like eating!
The solution? A meal in a glass (the green smoothie)
I am sure you have read at least a gazillion articles in blogs and magazines about diets based on “the green smoothie“. I make mine using hemp protein powder as the main ingredient as it offers an excellent nutritional profile with 20 different amino acids including all 9 essential amino acids. Not only that, it also has a health 3:1 ratio of Omega-3 vs Omega-6 fats but because the Omega-6 are from a vegetable source they don’t metabolise in the same way as some of their unhealthier counterparts.
I then add whatever other ingredient(s) I fancy such as fruit or non-starchy vegetables (more green) and I finish it off with some almond milk if I want a vegan meal or I add some milk if I want to be omnivore. Here is the recipe for my favourite green smoothie:
RECIPE: Green Smoothie with Hemp
Not feeling that hungry but not eating enough calories to help you with your weight loss? Time to try a meal in a glass. Green smoothies are easy to make and delicious too.
Although I wouldn’t advise any of my clients to go on a liquid diet, green smoothies have a place in any good weight loss program. They are quick and easy to make and they can replace a snack or even a meal.
Many of the people I work with are busy executives always on the run. They don’t have the luxury of being able to prepare or even eat more than one full meal every day. As long as they can keep a small blender at their place of work they can quickly make one of these and receive all the nourishment they need to keep their metabolism working for them.
Got any interesting recipes for green smoothie? Feel free to share them in the comments below.
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Sometimes, when we work really hard and perhaps we are having a hard time in general it’s easy to start craving comfort food. When it’s really strong the urge can be very hard to resist and so the best tactic is usually to give in and stop stressing. We can make up for our “indiscretions” tomorrow.
Also, it has to be said that sometimes when we get cravings it might be simply be that we haven’t been eating enough to support our daily activities. In the quest to achieve the ultimate beach body it’s not uncommon for people to cut back the calories too much and for too long. This can be counter productive and even prevent us from reaching our goals and so, once again, it’s a good idea to “cheat” for a meal or a day to actually keep us, happily, on track.
Having been born and raised in Italy I often resort to pizza, red wine and pasta for comfort but always with an eye to staying within the boundaries of healthy eating so I get the best of both worlds. 😉
Below is my version for a (almost) guilt free carbonara.
Guilt Free Carbonara
My almost guilt free version of the classic Carbonara recipe.
Fill a medium sized pot with fresh water and bring to the boil, add some sea salt and then the pasta. Let it simmer and stir from time to time.
Meanwhile in a small pan melt the butter and allow to go brown-ish, add the spinach and let them wilt for a couple of minutes. Cut the bacon rashers into small chunks and add to the spinach and let it go slightly crunchy. Whisk one of the eggs in a bowl and then add to the bacon and spinach.
Keep on stirring until the content of the pan resembles a tricolore scrambled egg.
Depending on manufacturer it can take up to 20 min for the past to be perfectly "al dente". You have to be very careful at this stage as gluten free pasta has a habit of resembling concrete up until a few nanoseconds before it starts to disintegrate. So after 12 min of it cooking you need to keep checking for progress. When the pasta is ready remove the pot from the hob, drain the pasta and chuck into a large bowl.
Dump the content of the pan on the pasta and stir carefully. Quickly add the other egg and keep on stirring until both pasta and bacon are coated in egg.
Add the previously grated cheese and stir the pasta a bit more then, finally, add salt and pepper.
As far as seasonal produce goes Autumn sees the beginning of the squashes and pumpkins season. I love all of them as they have a sweet and warm flavour that’s perfect to give us some comfort as we progress through to the colder days and nights.
Soups and roasts are perfect destinations for our squashes but have you ever tried making cakes with them? They are absolutely gorgeous as a partial substitute for flour adding moisture and colour to the finished items. Using them in cakes is also a great way to actually using them, especially if your weekly delivery of produce includes at least one of them between October and January.
When we are not watching our waistline too much, my partner and I enjoy eating scones in the afternoon. We go all British with them: clotted cream, strawberry jam, tea, the lot (but not the silly hats). As nice as they are it’s always good to have some variety and so I decided to combine something from my book of ancient Italian recipes with an equally traditional dish and came up with butternut squash scones.
The result is incredibly yummy and initially the scones were met with skepticism by my other half leaving them all for me. But sadly it didn’t last long as after I emotionally blackmailed him to take a bite I had a job to stopping him from eating them all. I call this a resounding success and will be tweaking the recipe further next time I try it.
Oh yes, yours don’t need to be triangular like mine. We are both big fans of rotary powered cars and somehow (I wonder how) my beautiful round cookie cutters became rotor shaped.
Have a go and enjoy and please let me know how you get on in the comments below! 🙂
Butternut Squash "Scones"
These are a slight variation on the more traditional scones eaten with clotted cream and strawberry jam. In my opinion they offer even more comfort thanks to the warm flavour of roasted butternut squash. They are very easy to make and will keep in an air tight container for a few days.
Start off by mixing the butter and the flours in a bowl until you get crumble consistency, add the sugar, then the yoghurt, then the eggs, then the butternut squash and finally the pre-soaked sultanas. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and then leave to rest for a few minutes.
Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 175ºC, dust the work surface with some flour, cover the oven tray with greaseproof paper and get the rolling pin out. Work the dough for another couple of minutes and then work it with the rolling pin until you have obtained a large square approx. 1-2 cm thick. With your cookie cutters start digging out shapes and if you don’t have the proper tools you can always use a glass for making the scones. (We like rotary shape scones)
Place the scones on the greaseproof paper and the tray in the middle slot in the oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes. You can brush the top of the scones with milk or egg prior to baking for some extra glazing. Leave to cool down on a rack and then enjoy them with brandy cream.
Although these aren’t exactly weight loss material they are an excellent treat for the cold and dark winter afternoons when we really fancy some comfort food. By adding coconut flour we have increased the amount of fibre and protein in the mix and by adding protein powder we are slowing down the release of sugars into the bloodstream plus we can benefit from some of the superfood properties of the butternut squash. A little bit of damage limitation never hurts.
I must have said this already but I’ll say it again… one of the best things about where I live is that the local supermarket occasionally has little gems in the Reduced to Clear section. One of my recent treasure troves were a bunch of octopuses that nobody (else) wanted.
When I was a child I remember my uncle used to go fishing at the crack of dawn on the Italian Riviera and come back around lunch time with freshly caught octopuses. Apparently these are buggers to catch as their tentacles are like superglue on rocks and can be dangerous to handle.
Octopus is not the easiest of seafood to cook as it can go rubbery very quickly. It also shrinks significantly during the cooking process so if you find yourself thinking that the octopus you are about to buy is big enough, think again. It will most likely become half the size by the time it’s ready to serve.
The best way to cook it is to boil it but since I fancied something with a much stronger and hearty flavour I decided to make myself an octopus risotto FTW.
Fantastic seafood dish full of hearty flavour and natural goodness.
Chop the onion and garlic and chuck in a pan with a splodge of olive oil. Gently fry on low heat until the onion has become translucent then add the rice (2 handfuls of dry rice per person) and again allow to fry until it has become transparent. At this point add the white wine and let it sizzle for a few minutes stirring continuously to prevent it from burning or sticking to the pan (it will do that even with non-stick pans).
When the wine has been absorbed by the rice it’s time to season with salt and pepper, add the vegetable stock cube and a ladle of hot water. Reduce the heat and let it boil gently.
In the meantime clean and chop the octopus into 2″ chunks and add to the rice. Stir well and add more water as and when needed. At this point you can adjust the seasoning and add herbs and spices to the risotto. I like to add cayenne pepper, hot chili powder and paprika to my seafood risotto. Just like they used to do at the only restaurant we found open in September when we went to Isola d’Elba (Tuscany).
Next it’s time to wash and cut the chard leaves into 1″ thick strips and add them to the risotto. If I was making this for more than one person I would probably add the stalks too to bulk it up but if it’s only for me I just use the leaves of the chard. Add more water if needed.
Depending on the type of rice used it could take anything between 10 and 20 minutes for this to cook. When the rice is “al dente” it’s time to add a splodge of super concentrated tomato paste to give the whole dish a bit of colour and finally, just before serving, turn off the heat and add a little bit of butter for creaminess.
Energy: 498 Kcal
Protein: 33 g
Carbs: 28 g
Fat: 21 g
You can finish the dish off with a sprinkling of coriander and a few drops of lemon or lime juice for added twang. Either way this is awesome and nutritious.
Yesterday I had a lovely afternoon wandering around the streets of Londinium as I joined my other half in the waiting game to get a new passport for our imminent Italian adventure version 2.0 (bigger, better, faster). One of the biggest problems I face when I am out and about is hunger and specifically being able to find food that a) isn’t going to sabotage my slimming efforts and b) agrees with my intolerance to gluten. Usually this means being granted the honour of a couple of suitable choices from a large menu while I watch my other half eat whatever he wants. Although I enjoyed my gluten free pasta despite being almost 1000KCal I really wanted something else from the menu that would have made me very ill.
Today, as I join my parents and friends in Italy in celebrating Ferragosto, I decided to experiment in the kitchen and prepare a meal that would be a little bit indulgent but without causing me to consume 2/3rds of my daily calories in one serving. This is what I came up with:
Potato Cakes with Piri-Piri Chicken Thighs and Chard
A slightly indulgent but healthy meal for when a salad just won't do.
In a non-stick frying pan on medium/low heat sprinkle some piri-piri spices and let them warm up a bit, add the chicken thigh and let it cook slowly in its own juices. Meanwhile boil the potato in salt water until soft enough to break up with a fork. Drain and let it cool down for a couple of minutes. Chop the chard and cook it in salt water for 5 minutes or so.
In a bowl place the spring onions, the butter, the potato and the flour. Mix well and season with some salt and pepper.
Knead the potato mix and split it into 2 or 3 balls, flatten them with the palms of your hands and set aside to rest for a minute.
In a non-stick frying pan warm up the coconut oil and when it's bubbling add the potato cakes. Drain the chard and when most of the water has gone add it to the pan. Turn the potato cakes and let them cook on a medium heat until they are golden and crispy on the outside.
By this point the chicken will also be cooked and ready to serve and enjoy!
Energy: <600 KCal
Because this recipe is high in fat content I wouldn't use it too often, however on the plus side I can expect to feel full for longer and enjoy steady levels of energy for the rest of the afternoon. The potato cakes were absolutely yummy and more than made up for the lack of choice I had yesterday.
If you are concerned about the fat content you could easily substitute the chicken thigh for a chicken breast and use a tbsp of protein powder instead of flour to mix the potato cakes if you wish to alter the carbs to protein ratio.
These are favourites of my other half who is a bad influence as he “forces” me to eat as many as he does every morning… which is a lot. Way too many if we want to stay lean and mean. A word of warning: if your family members have a sweet tooth don’t make these cookies or you’ll find yourself forever in the kitchen making more!
The original recipe comes from the Able and Cole website but I have adapted it to suit my food allergies and it now looks something like this…
Oats and Raisins Breakfast Cookies
Want to wake up to an indulgent breakfast next weekend? Have a go at these super healthy oats and raisins cookies.
Chuck all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until they have reached the desired consistency and moisture.
Line an oven tray with grease proof paper and then, using two spoons, divide the mixture into a number of cookies (you should be able to get at least a dozen or more). Bake for 15 minutes max in a preheated oven (180ºC).
Leave to dry on a rack and then place in an airtight box.
Today’s simple recipe is a sneaky little tactic to employ if you hate eating cabbage but you want to because of the many health benefits it brings. Although I wouldn’t advise anyone to go on a cabbage soup diet, I am confident that this dish would allow anyone to survive unharmed and well nourished for ages. Most importantly, this dish is low in calories but has a substantial helping of proteins and fat which will help prevent an insulin spike and will in fact help shed some extra body fat.
Cabbage soup with chicken and bacon
A sneaky little tactic to employ if you hate eating cabbage but you want to because of the many health benefits it brings.
Peel the onion and wash the carrot then chop both of them very fine. Add a splash of olive oil in a non stick pot, warm up and add the onion and carrot. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. In the meantime peel and chop the potato and add to the pot. Stir the lot and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Wash and shred the cabbage leaves and then add to the pot. Cover up with enough vegetable stock and season to taste (I like to add some Tamari soya sauce to the mix).
While the vegetables simmer in the pot, it’s time to chop the chicken and bacon rashers in small bites. Warm up a non stick pan, add both chicken and bacon and cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes stirring continuously until they have gone a little bit crispy. It's important to avoid using butter or oil to cook the chicken and bacon as they are both likely to have had water added to them which will be released as the heat increases. It's much better to cook any type of meat in its own juices rather than adding to the already inherently high fat content. If you want some extra zing from your food you can add some spicy seasoning, I love Jamaican Jerk so it usually finds its way to the pan when I make this soup. Remove from the heat.
When the veggies are cooked blitz them in a blender and pour in a bowl together with the chicken and bacon. Add some raw extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with coriander.