Thursday, 8 June 2017

Courgette, Bacon and Cheddar Slice

A tasty, treat that's good hot or cold, as a dinner or a lunchbox snack.

Fairly quick and easy to prepare, you just need to mix all the ingredients together, pour into a tray and pop in the oven then go and put your feet up while it cooks! This is my low carb take on the Aussie favourite - 'Zucchini slice'.

Or, of course, you could make a nice big salad to go with it while it's cooking, and pop some jacket potatoes in the oven before you start - on a cold day, good with chips and baked beans too (especially for the kids!), or be more sophisticated with Jersey Royals and green beans.

It's so versatile, you can eat it hot or cold, and if you pop the leftovers into the fridge, it's perfect cut into squares for lunchboxes the next day, or as a snack when you get in from work and need something to eat NOW (or even freeze it in portions).

Serves four to six as a main. more as snacks / light lunches.

Calories: From 254 calories for a sixth, or 336 calories for a quarter portion, using fat free yoghurt. Using full fat yoghurt only makes 13 to 20 calories difference per serving.. For a smaller portion (lunch), it's 168 calories for an eighth.

Slimming World - Syn free for up to a quarter (if using the cheddar as a healthy extra, and 0% fat Greek yoghurt. Full fat Greek yoghurt for a creamier taste is 1.5 syns for a quarter).

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Frozen Daiquiris - Strawberry, Mango etc. ( includes Thermomix instructions)

Just the thing for a hot summer's day!

Maybe it even counts as one of  your five a day? There's certainly plenty of fruit in it (oh yes, and alcohol!). I was making these a couple of years ago, and had perfected the recipe to our tastes and memorized it - but not blogged it! D'Oh! So given that it has been a couple of years since I last made daiquiris, and my memory is blighted by age (and a summer of daiquiris, probably!) I had to guess at what I roughly remembered the ingredients to be, then add to them to get the balance right for our tastes again, and THIS time I have done the 'sensible' thing, and written it down, so I don't forget again next time.

Delicious strawberry daiquiris... or as I told my children, strawberry smoothies...

I think my favourite is mango, but we had one of those last night, and strawberries look so pretty, so obviously I had to make a batch of strawberry daquiris today to take a photo... remember to drink sensibly and all that, darlings!

Contains 8 units of alcohol (UK 25ml measures of 40% spirits), and makes four servings of 140ml.

For the calorie / Syn counters, the values are as follows for one serving (a quarter of a quantity as per the recipe below):

1 serving of strawberry daiquiri - 169 calories / 8 Syns
1 serving of pineapple daiquiri - 176 calories / 8.25 Syns
1 serving of mango daiquiri - 189 calories / 8.75 Syns

Friday, 19 May 2017

Stuffed Baby Peppers with Spinach and Ricotta

These little gems are a surprisingly healthy treat that are very more-ish and great for sharing (or NOT sharing if you want them all to yourself!).

I must firstly thank a friend, the lovely Audra, for the inspiration for this recipe. She shared a lovely recipe for roasted  piquillo peppers stuffed with goats cheese and spinach, which I changed around a bit (because that's what I do quite often) to suit my own purposes.

I think they're pretty easy to make - certainly not as fiddly as you might think! And they're definitely worth the effort for such a tasty morsel that's full of healthy yumminess - I ate half a quantity for my dinner last night!

The filling makes enough for two batches (as I prefer to use up certain things when I open them where possible, such as ricotta, so that the remains don't waste away in the fridge!), and will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so you can make a second batch fresh when you've eaten the first one! (Or just double up on peppers and make two trays - they are nicest eaten freshly cooked though).
Also delicious served with a selection of mouthwatering antipasti!

This quantity of peppers serves two, if eating as a light lunch type of thing (nice with some dressed Italian leaves on the side) or as a large side dish. It's also great as party food, and compatible with calorie-counted diets, 5:2, LCHF (all green list food, and you can use extra parmesan and a good drizzle of EVOO to top it off if you like) as well as being Syn free for the Slimming World diet (if you use up your healthy extra A choice for the ricotta cheese and up to 9g finely grated parmesan cheese per portion (this is a lot more than you think, especially if you use a microplane grater!).

207 calories per serving (with weights as below, calories in square brackets).

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Nutty Chocolate Bark

So simple, it's cheeky to call this a recipe - but helpful for those counting calories, or sticking to allowances to be able to weigh out portions.

As a self-confessed chocoholic, I can easily inhale what should last several days within the space of an evening, without even thinking about it!

If I'm trying to lose weight, chocolate tends to be my nemesis, so I have to find ways of making it last / stretch and pad it out with things that will make it more satisfying, and add a more healthy element, without compromising on deliciousness!

Calories: 150 calories per portion (26g), makes 12 portions.

Slimming World: makes 12 portions (weigh out at 26g each), where the nuts and seeds can be your healthy 'B' choice for the day, and the chocolate part is 3.5 syns. If not counting the nuts and seeds as your healthy 'B' choice, add on 4 syns per portion (so 7.5 syns in total).

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Easy Chilli con Carne (with Pressure Cooker method)

Chilli con Carne is something most of us have been cooking for years, without even looking at a recipe book...

I know I have - probably for the best part of two decades. I already have one chilli con carne 'recipe' on my blog here from over three years ago, back in the early days - so it's somewhat detailed on the method and goes on a bit! Although it does use soaked chipotle chillies and tastes bloody gorgeous, so it's staying where it is!

Anyway, I digress. This one is much, much simpler, has pressure cooker instructions for those who have one, and tastes equally amazing!

It's a decent sized batch if you're catering for friends, or want to put a few portions in the freezer (which is what I always do!), but you can easily halve it. It tastes even better the next day, if you've got any left! Last time I made this, I made half the quantity for a family of four and it all got eaten in one sitting, so I decided not to make that mistake again!

Serves 10 to 12 portions, at 265 to 318 calories per serving (depending on size).

Want a low carb / low calorie meal? 
Serve on top of 200g cauliflower rice per person (76 calories a serving), or 50g rice per person (raw weight, 176 calories per serving) or serve in a couple of taco shells (e.g. Old El Paso boxed tacos, for 67 calories per taco, check ingredients for GF), or mini-tortillas (87 calories each, for a 28g flour tortilla, not suitable for  GF)... or you could even use lettuce leaves to wrap it in - whatever floats your boat! All of these suggestions will bring you in at under 500 calories quite comfortably.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

South Indian Red Lentil Dhal with Spinach - Parippu with Spinach

Parippu is a favourite lentil dish of mine, that I've been cooking for years, and I love to add fresh spinach to it for a healthy twist.

This dish is so versatile - it's excellent as a meal in itself, if you just want a bowlful with or without flatbreads on the side; and also makes the perfect accompaniment to other Indian dishes if you fancy a good old 'curry night'. 

Not only that, I think it's a pretty simple dish to make - you just throw the majority of the ingredients into a large pot and leave it to simmer away, and then just make a quick 'tarka' to add near the end, along with some wilted spinach.

This serves ten portions (of approximately 250g, depending on evaporation), so if you want to serve it as part of a selection of dishes, you can double that (or more!).

Calories: 273 calories per portion (if divided into ten) 2,729 calories for the whole batch (so if you're only having a ladleful in a ramekin sized dish with a selection of other things it would be nearer 150 calories).

Sri Lankan Beef Curry - Harak Mas Curry

A delicious, simple-to-make braised Sri Lankan beef curry.

I am going through a real phase of loving Sri Lankan food at the moment, and this beef curry, adapted from a Charmaine Solomon recipe is so simple to make, and incredibly tasty, that I had to share it.

It's also naturally low in fat, as it contains no coconut and only a small amount of oil, so it's pretty guilt-free too!

This serves four people as part of a meal served with a vegetable side dish and rice (or cauliflower rice - although if you're a complete meat head and want it on its own, it would probably make two or three servings), but it is very easily doubled. Even better the next day, and freezes beautifully.

199 calories per serving (between four people). Slimming World Syn free.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Chicory, Courgette and Radish Salad with Orange, Coriander and Dill Dressing

Well, this wasn't supposed to be a recipe for my blog, but it turned out so delicious, that it would have been criminal not to share it!

The other half declared it the most delicious thing he'd eaten this year - and he doesn't like salads, so that's really saying something! The children also loved it, and I found it incredibly more-ish - especially the dressing, so I've had to write it down as accurately as I can, so we can recreate it again!

The only downside to creating something delicious, without planning it or thinking about it, is that you don't tend to get a very good photo of it, as you haven't set it up or made it at the right time of day - so apologies for the picture, but I can assure you that the flavours are divine! This was created to go with hot smoked mackerel, and hot smoked salmon (with a few new potatoes on the side, or some crusty bread would be nice too), and it really is fantastic with smoked fish. It would also be great with griddled, roast or barbecued chicken., and a sophisticated side to serve on a platter for people to help themselves to.

Mia's Easy Gluten Free Swiss Roll

A gluten free cake that's easy to make, and turns out beautifully.

I say easy to make, because this one was made by my 12 year old daughter, Mia, and with a little tweak to make it gluten free so she could eat it, the sponge turned out beautifully light and fluffy!

Because she made it gluten free, and it turned out so well, I wanted to record and save the recipe so that she can make it again, and also to share with anyone else who has to cater for gluten free diets and wants an easy recipe.

Serves 8 to 10 slices (above is just under half of what was left, when I realised I ought to take a photo!).

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Orange and Almond Cake with Goldenberries and Cardamom (Gluten and Grain Free)

A moist, decadent almond cake with a hint of the exotic.

As ever, I was on the quest to create delicious cakes that can be enjoyed without gluten (for my daughter) without any of the dryness or grittiness that can sometimes be a downfall of gluten free cakes.

As this one is naturally gluten free because it is made with ground almonds, there is none of that - just a delicious moist and tasty cake that everyone will enjoy. In fact, it turned out so delicious that I didn't actually want to share it with the children!! (But I did, of course, because sharing is caring!!). This is based on a traditional Italian orange and almond cake, so if you can't get hold of goldenberries, you don't have to add them - or you could substitute some dried fruit of your choice. Cardamom is also an addition of mine, which is a spice I love to pair with oranges, so if you're not a fan, don't add it - although I think it's delicious!

It's very rich, and I think once it has had its dusting of icing sugar, with the complex flavours it is easily sophisticated enough to serve at a dinner party (and probably too posh for lunchboxes)! Either way, I highly recommend it, even though you might suspect me to be biased. I'd say there are at least 12 servings, given the richness.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Healthy Banana and Blueberry Muffins - Grain Free and Refined Sugar Free

Moist and delicious blueberry muffins without the guilt of refined sugar and flour!

I do like to pick up a bargain when out shopping (you might have already noticed this), and a bunch of very ripe bananas together with a punnet of blueberries picked up at the end of the day will give you a nice batch of muffins for the week (plus enough to freeze the extras!).

On top of this, I've been playing with different ways to bake tasty treats for my children without using wheat flour, as we found out not-so-long-ago that my daughter can no longer eat it. Plus, there's no harm in anyone cutting refined sugar out of their diets! There are of course natural sugars in the fruit, and the honey, so it's not a sugar free treat, therefore they are healthy compared with conventional muffins, and still to be eaten in moderation!

However, because of the high protein content in these muffins from the eggs and nuts, they are satisfyingly filling, so just one will keep you going for a while! 

Makes approximately 30 muffins. 140 calories per muffin (extra for optional crunchy topping, calories in square brackets).

Hearty Shepherd's Pie (including Instant Pot Pressure Cooker method)

There are few things more comforting for lamb lovers, than a decent Shepherd's pie!

After cooking an enormous (for us!) leg of lamb, I really wanted to make the most of the leftovers in a tasty dish everyone would love, including using up the lamb stock I had made from the bones too (although a decent lamb stock cube will do a good job too).

Shepherd's pie is such a classic way of using up roast leftovers, and really did ours justice. We like to cook our lamb leg roasts pink, and after braising in the sauce the meat leftovers came out really tender cooked this way, so I'd highly recommend it. I usually make Shepherd's pie from raw minced lamb, as there aren't generally enough leftovers after a roast for a decent-sized pie, but it's definitely worth making extra for this!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Cottage Pie (with Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker method)

Delicious, homely, comfort food for the whole family.

Who doesn't have a fond memory of eating home-cooked cottage pie as a child, on a cold winter's day? It's one of those quintessentially English dishes that most of us probably grew up enjoying around the table with the rest of the family.

This is my traditional family recipe with a splash of ale in the gravy and delicious buttery mash, that we love to enjoy together, usually at the weekend. And not only have you got the recipe for the indulgent version, I've given you a suggested alternatives tip to make an equally delicious skinny version from only 313 calories a portion!

Serves six, 580 calories per portion (based on maximum amounts of ingredients below, butter and cheese in the mash, and butter dotted on top. Adjust calories if grating cheese on top). If you only ate a smaller portion, i.e. an eighth, it would be 435 calories per portion.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Speedy Salmon, Broccoli and Leek Crustless Quiche (Syn Free)

With only a handful of ingredients you can easily make a healthy and tasty lunch, dinner or lunchbox treat.

Salmon and broccoli is a classic combination, and when I threw this together for dinner, everyone loved it and it was so simple I had to share it.

The irony is, when the other half went shopping tonight, I asked him to pick up a (gluten free) quiche, as I was tired and didn't want to faff about cooking anything too complicated - and while he was out, I was looking through the fridge and found a pack of smoked salmon and some broccoli and Greek yoghurt that needed using so... er.... I had made a crustless version by the time he got back!! (Good job too really, as they had ran out of GF quiches). It's not a classic quiche of course, but it's a very tasty alternative, which is much healthier, easier, and quicker to put together. Mere minutes of preparation before popping it into the oven to bake while you do other things.

Serves four, 210 calories per serving, Syn free.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Quick Chinese Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

This tasty soup is so simple to make, it is quicker to rustle it up yourself than pop to your nearest takeaway and bring one back!

Plus when you make it yourself, you know what's in it - and I like to make my version a little more filling and flavourful than the versions I've had in some Chinese eateries, which can err on the side of insipid at times. It's also a great way to use up roast chicken leftovers (although you might need to adjust the calories, if you're counting!).

We had this for our Chinese New Year starter (followed by my favourite of beef in black bean sauce) - the added bonus of making it at home being that I knew it was safe for my daughter to eat as I could guarantee it was gluten free - which won't make a difference to most people, as it's mostly a case of just making sure you use gluten free soy sauce (or tamari) instead. And before anyone says anything, my apologies to anyone of Chinese descent for the authenticity of this soup... it's very popular in the UK!

Serves four people from 195 calories a portion. (A quarter portion weighs around 350g, so you could make them smaller to serve more, e.g. six portions of 235g and reduce the calories to 130 if you like!).

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