Monthly Archives: September 2013

A week of breakfasts; gluten free, vegan options

I’ve given you a week of lunches the last couple of weeks, so I thought I would change things up with a week of breakfasts this week.

I was told in the week, that I’m always brimming with energy.  Said person put it down to my age – being one of the youngest in the office.  But I think it’s as much to do with the yummy breakfasts that I have to start my day.

I always eat breakfast, and I always eat within an hour of waking to make sure my metabolism is boosted.  I like a good bowl of oats – overnight oats or porridge, but I also like to change things up.  So here is my week of breakfasts:

I’d never had a chia pudding before.  I’ve seen them on various blogs including Oh She glows and Sarah Wilson, but I thought chia seeds were too high fat to have as a meal on their own.  But I was wrong – as long as you eat fat within moderation, it’s all good!

breakfast, chia, pudding,

Monday breakfast

Ok, so my eyes were clearly a bit blurry on Monday morning.  Check out this gorgeous post on Culinary Colleen of what a chia pudding should look like.

Mine was topped with strawberries for sweetness and pecan nuts for crunch.

tofu scramble, porridge, strawberry,

Tuesday breakfast

Tuesdays’ breakfast was porridge made with almond milk and linseed, topped with strawberries and buckwheat groats.  On the side I made tofu scramble with a dash of mild curry powder and a tiny dribble of sriracha sauce.  A totally vegan breakfast – but I think this was a bit much for my digestive system to cope with first thing in the morning: I had a really gurgly tummy afterwards – oops.

overnight oats, omelette, yoghurt

Wednesday breakfast

I learned my lesson, and by Wednesday I had overnight oats, made with oats, probiotic yogurt drink and half a discovery apple.

Have you seen discovery apples?  My colleague bought me in one to try – he told me they have pink flesh, but I was still surprised!

discovery apple

discovery apple

In the morning I topped the overnight oats with yogurt and cacao nibs for crunch and served it alongside a 1 egg and egg white omelette on the side.  My tummy coped better with this one.

On Thursday I made a ‘healthy breakfast cheesecake’ 🙂

healthy, chocolate, banana, cheesecake, breakfast

Thursday breakfast

I topped a piece of Raw Living Chocolate bread with some mashed banana and ricotta cheese. I popped it in the oven for a few minutes to soften the bread and make it a bit easier to chew.  I topped it with a sprinkle of buckwheat and cacao nibs, and had some healthy mint cocoa on the side.

On Friday I had some chocolate pancakes with the rest of the discovery apple, grilled, on the side with a sprinkle of cinnamon – YUM!

breakfast, chocolate pancakes, apple, cinnamon, yogurt

Friday breakfast

So that’s what my breakfasts looked like.

And as I usually share my farmer’s market purchases on these summary posts:

kale, aubergine, squash, golden beetroot

Farmer’s Market

I decided I wanted to try one of the funky long aubergines, two bags of different types of kale, a squash – I think this is a Delicata squash, as seen on Oh She Glows – and the last golden beetroot.  I love to try something different.

Of course, I still have some goodies left over from my lovely colleague, so I don’t think I will be going hungry this week!

veg, present

from my colleague

He also brought me some cucumbers

What did you have for breakfast?  Do you have a favourite, or do you like to change it up?  Do you know anyone who shares their produce with you?  Good, isn’t it!

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Low carb, gluten free brownies

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I’ve got you a present…

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Lower fat lamb pie

Ooh, thunder and lightening, very, very frightening 🙂

No, I’m not scared, but there is a thunderstorm going on outside my window.  When I’m feeling safe, I’m quite happy to move the laptop towards the window so I can watch.

When I was little and staying with my Nanny, if there was a thunderstorm we would sit in the stairs and watch the lightening through the window at the bottom of the stairs.

Just for the added comfort while I watch the lightening, I’ve made myself a nice comforting bowl of chia and banana porridge – yummy!  Topped with buckwheat and almond butter.

oats, almond butter, milk, porridge, comfort food, buckwheat, almond butter

comforting porridge

Now, while we are talking comfort food, someone commented that I like to ‘experiment’ and I don’t eat ‘normal’ food, so here you are.  A lamb pie for all you ‘traditionalists’ out there!

I took a leaf out of the Hairy Bikers ‘book’ (I don’t have their book, I watched their tv show and they featured in my Healthy Food Guide magazine) and used filo/phyllo pastry for the topping.

This pastry has 144 calories per sheet (43g) and 1.3g of fat, of which 0.1 saturates.  In comparison, a serving of shortcrust pastry (50g) is 280 calories and 19.2g of fat, of which 6.8g saturates. So an upgrade in the health stakes.

I noticed mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids in the ingredients lists of the shortcrust pastry – meaning the worst trans fats.  Now you will avoid that by making your own, but unless it’s a special occasion I do tend to revert to bought in. It’s not listed for the filo/phyllo pastry – WIN!

I gave Ben the option of chicken and stuffing, chicken and sweetcorn or lamb pie,  as you can tell from the title of the post – he went for the lamb pie 🙂

lamb pie, pie, low fat pie,

lamb pie filling

I started by preheating the oven to 190C and making the pie filling – I softened and browned some onions in a non-stick frying pan.  Add the cubed lamb – or filling of your choice. Don’t move the meat around too much, just allow it to seal on each side – i.e. when it starts to cook and changes colour.  I added in a drizzle of honey here to caramelize the onion and lamb, and a teaspoon of dried rosemary because it is Ben’s favourite.

Add in your veg – I used frozen peas – and some water.  Add gravy granules or thickener of your choice, and bubble until it is cooked off.

I took two sheets of pastry, and ripped each into thirds.  Layer each of the thirds of pastry on top of each other, with a couple of spritzes of low calorie spray in between.  Pour the pie filling into a baking dish and loosely drape the pastry over the top, tucking in at the edges.

Give the top a drizzle of oil or butter, or a few spritzes of low cal spray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the pastry is brown and the filling is bubbling.

lamb pie, low fat, pie

I would normally serve just with vegetables, but Ben had been a busy boy so he got a jacket potato along side.

lamb pie, jacket potato, vegetablesNow I hope that the storm passes before I have to go out to my exercise class…

What’s your favourite comfort food? 

High protein triple soya and quinoa salad, gluten free

I’m not sure I have much to say today.  I’ve had a busy week, and I think my brain is now on go slow.  Roll on the weekend!

Here’s a recipe that I was surprised was as good as it was.  I bought some red quinoa, and I’m enjoying that more than the black I bought, which was a bit crunchy in my opinion. Maybe I could combine my three quinoas – black, red and white – and have a triple soya and triple quinoa salad.

This delicious dinner contains 33g of protein – leave out the egg white and you still get a good 25g of protein.

Enjoy!

tofu, soya, quinoa, edamame, carrot, egg white

Triple soya and quinoa salad
Serves 1

  • 100g firm tofu
  • 50g soya beans
  • 80g carrots
  • 10g miso paste, I used unpasteurised
  • 50g quinoa, dry weight
  • 75g egg white (optional)
  1. If you have time, wrap the tofu in kitchen paper and a clean tea towel and press to get out as much water as possible.  This step is not essential, but makes for a firmer tofu.
  2. Cook the quinoa according to pack instructions.  You could use precooked quinoa if you like.
  3. Meanwhile steam the soya (edamame) beans – I did this over the cooking quinoa in a tiered steamer.
  4. Heat a health grill to medium-hot.  Slice the tofu and grill.
  5. Steam the carrots in a non-stick frying pan with a splash of water, cover with a lid, glass if possible.
  6. If using the egg white , once the carrot has softened, add the egg white, and stir until it scrambles to your liking.
  7. Stir the miso paste into the carrot or carrot and egg mixture.
  8. Combine the carrot and egg with the quinoa and soya beans and top with the grilled tofu.

Stick to your ribs protein porridge, gluten free

This is a super way to start your day.  it’s a real stick-to-your-ribs type porridge that will fill you up for hours.

Porridge used to be my favourite breakfast, and I would have it every morning without fail, often topped with banana slices for sweetness.

I tend to enjoy a bit more variety in my breakfast these days, but porridge remains a popular choice for me.

I’ve often heard that protein at breakfast is a great way to start your day, and keep you satisfied until lunch, but eggs don’t always hit the spot – especially when you don’t eat bread.  In the past I would have enjoyed eggs on toast, or boiled eggs with soldiers.

porridge, oats, ingredients, banana, egg white, almond milk,

Porridge ingredients

I like to tweak a recipe and although I made pumpkin oats before, I thought there was too much pumpkin.  This time I added chia seeds for added omega 3.  Chia is rich in protein and high in Omega 3s so it is great for those who don’t eat oily fish as part of their diet.

porridge, oats, egg white, banana, chia seeds, breakfast, stick to your ribs, oatmeal

high protein porridge

High protein porridge
Serves 1

  • 40g jumbo oats, certified gluten free if necessary
  • 100ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 small banana, about 75g
  • 10g chia seeds
  • 75g egg white
  • honey and cacao nibs to serve
  1. Combine the oats, chia seeds and almond milk in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Mash or slice the banana into chunks.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they are light and fluffy.
  4. By now the oats should be bubbling, stir the egg white and banana into the oats, and beat vigorously.
  5. They’re done when the liquid has been absorbed and there is no sign of egg whites.
  6. Serve and top with your desired toppings – I like a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cacao nibs.

WIAW: Vegetarian Day

Did you see my first What I ate Wednesday post?

What I ate Wednesday, WIAW

I found it quite cathartic, so I thought I would document a vegetarian day – just what do I eat when meat is off the menu?

What I ate Wednesday, WIAW, banana soft serve, I started my day with cacao pancakes made with raw cacao powder, oats, and egg white, served with banana soft serve on the side. I love these pancakes – I thought pancakes were forever off the menu for a healthy diet – I was sooo pleased when the recipe worked!

I get up early (about 6am) and get to work at about 8.00.  I had a cup of tea with skimmed milk when I got in – You know what a coup of tea looks like, I don’t need to show you a photo.

Because I’m up early, it can mean 7 hours without food (6am-1pm) so I have a morning snack to keep me going until lunch.  I am still enjoying the rawmeo balls I bought back from Germany – the cocoa onese are just like a chocolate truffle, but healthy!

rawmeo ball, yoghurt, snack, morningCome lunchtime I went for a walk into town – for a breath of fresh air and to get away from my desk.

When I got back I had some yummy cheesy lentil and aubergine salad, topped with a hard boiled egg.  This kept me going all afternoon, and kept me out of the cookies which seem to haunt the office (especially when I’ve been baking)

WIAW, What I ate Wednesday, egg, lentil, aubergine, saladI was off to the gym straight after work for a BodyCombat class followed by yoga, so I took an afternoon snack to keep me going until I got home at 8.00 and had to cook dinner.  I really enjoyed this homemade hummus – made with chickpeas, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and some probiotic yogurt.  It gave me enough energy to get me through the class.  I just hope it didn’t stink out the train carriage – I’m sure I didn’t add too much garlic :-/

WIAW, What I ate Wednesday, snack, hummus, nooch, nutritional yeastWhen I got home, I wasn’t in the mood for messing – so I had a stir fry, which I’ve demonstrated as a quick dinner before. In this one I had tofu for protein, a few toasted cashew nuts, mushrooms (another great source of protein – who knew?!), orange pepper, broccoli and 100% buckwheat noodles.  Because I don’t eat wheat, I like to change up my noodles with either 100% brown rice spaghetti, or these buckwheat noodles.  I flavoured it with a splash of tamari sauce.

WIAW, What I ate Wednesday, tofu, buckwheat, soba, noodlesAnd that was my day – I’m hungry again just thinking about it 🙂

Who else out there is vegetarian or vegan?  Or do you take a flexitarian, or even meatfree Mondays approach?

Carrot, pumpkin and coriander soup with vegan cheesy courgette; gluten free, vegan

I’ve seen lots of pumpkin posts coming up in my blog feed.  Particularly those bloggers from USA and Canada.  Living in the UK, pumpkin isn’t such a big thing, so I had no problem eating a pumpkin smoothie on the 4th July, and then again on my birthday 🙂

But now it’s starting to feel like autumn (but what’s with the heat???  Grey skies: check, drizzle; check 19C heat – what’s that all about, people were putting their heating on a couple of weeks ago)

Anyway, I was lulled into a false sense of autumn, so I made some soup.  I had some carrots, and some left over coriander, so I thought, perfect – carrot and coriander soup.

But, even better, I also had some pumpkin open (still on the tinned stuff I stocked up on when it was in on a special USA deal – what will I do when it is gone???)

I served my soup with nutritional yeast courgette crisps – which were great.  I wasn’t sure it would work, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The calories came out so low on this tasty soup, I was able to serve it with Breadshare bakery oatcakes that I got from Real Foods.  By the time I had finished, I was stuffed!  Healthy and satisfying – perfect!

carrot, coriander, pumpkin, soup, nutritional yeast, courgette

carrot, pumpkin and coriander soup

For the purposes of a review – I really liked the oatcake.  It was flavoured with Irish Dulse.  I was impressed by the simple ingredients list: oatmeal, water, rapeseed oil, Seaveg seaweed (3%) and made with organic oats and rapeseed oil.  I would have just liked to know the nutritional information, as I had to find a comparable product in MyFitnessPal.  Because they are handmade, they vary in size, but I hope they will be able to get information for 100g for example.

The website states that the Irish dulse variety has a mild but distinctive taste – I would testify to that.  Ben didn’t like them, but as a lover of sea vegetables, I liked the taste, and the buttery crumbly texture.

Breadshare Bakery Oatcakes

Breadshare Bakery Oatcakes

Now to the soup:

pumpkin, carrot, soup, almond milk, courgette, zucchini, pumpkinCarrot, Pumpkin and Coriander Soup
Serves 1

  • 100g carrots, peeled weight, chopped
  • 100g canned pumpkin – use fresh if you have it
  • 40g red onion – 1/2 small, 1/4 large, chopped
  • 150ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 10g fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

For the courgettes

  • 80g courgette – or more if you want lots
  • 10g nutritional yeast
  • apple cider vinegar
  1. I started by making the courgettes.  Preheat oven to 200C.  Sliced the courgettes into rounds about 1/4 cm thick.  You could use a mandoline to help you do this.
  2. One at a time dip the courgettes first into the cider vinegar to make them wet, and then into the nutritional yeast to coat.  Place onto a baking tray, spaced out.  Repeat until all courgettes are coated.
  3. Put in the oven for about 30 minutes until brown and crispy.
  4. Meanwhile make the soup
  5. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium hob.  Once it is warm add the coriander seeds. Toss them around for 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to look toasted and start to jump around in the frying pan.  Remove and crush in a pestle and mortar.
  6. Add the onions to your pan, and allow to soften for 5-10 minutes.  Add a splash of water if they start to stick.
  7. Add your chopped carrots and enough water to gently steam – about 1/2 on the bottom of the pan.
  8. Once the carrots have softened, add the almond milk and pumpkin.  Stir back in the toasted coriander seeds.
  9. Once everything is cooked blend the soup with a hand/stick blender – adding the fresh coriander at the end and giving it a good whizz.
  10. Add stock if the soup is too thick for you.
  11. Serve the soup topped with the courgette slices and with oatcakes.

What is your favourite winter soup?  I think Carrot and Coriander has got to be up there for me!

Marinated kale salad with avocado dressing, gluten free

Now the weather is getting colder, I wanted a more hearty salad.  I’ve not yet progressed to hot lunches, but a salad of romaine leaves is leaving me feeling a bit short (I know, I know, I AM short)

I bought some kale from the farmer’s market, and instead of serving it as a side vegetable, I decided to make a hearty salad for lunch.

It was quite good fun massaging the dressing into the kale – the directions I read said to keep at it until your hands hurt 🙂  I thought of it like kneading dough, a good stress relief, like using a stress ball.

kale, avocado, vinegar

kale salad with dressing

I kept my salad dressing quite simple, but you could throw in some garlic, which would be great, or in another meal I might add nutritional yeast – I love that stuff!

Marinated kale salad
Serves 1

  • 60g kale
  • 60g red cabbage
  • 60g beansprouts

For the dressing

  • 30g avocado
  • probiotic drink – to taste
  • apple cider vinegar
  1. Make your dressing by mashing the avocado with some probiotic drink and apple cider vinegar – add a few drops and taste as you go.  I had the yogurt left after making overnight oats.
  2. Pour or dollop the dressing onto the kale and start massaging – yep, get your hands in there and get dirty. It will probably take a good 5 minutes of rubbing.  Get your partner (if you have one) to rub your shoulders as you go 🙂
  3. Add the chopped red cabbage and beansprouts and season to taste with salad and pepper.
  4. serve with protein of your choice.

marinated kale salad, avocado, dressing, kale, beansprout, cabbageDo you stick to a cold lunch through winter – or will you have something warming?  Have you turned on your heating yet?

Marrow and pecan cake, lactose free

I bought the marrow a couple of weeks ago at the Farmers Market.  I enjoyed stuffing it, making soup and even roasting it with vanilla and cinnamon and stirring it into overnight oats – YUM!

But Ben refused to eat it, so that left me with half a marrow.  I found this recipe on BBC Good Food, and decided I had to give it a go.

marrow, pecan, cake, loaf, cupcake

marrow and pecan cake

My first instinct was ‘eurgh’!  Marrow in a cake?!?!?!

Incidentally, this was also the comment from one of my colleagues when I took it to work. (Sorry, Andy you didn’t cover it up well).  But he came round when he tasted the moist, lightly spiced sponge.  As did a number of other people in the office who commented how lovely it was – I THANK YOU ALL 🙂

When you think about it, no one thinks twice about carrot cake, or even pumpkin cake, and more and more people are coming round to the idea of courgette/zucchini cake.

This one was topped with a creamy cashew, ricotta and honey topping to contrast with the sweet cake.

I ran out of space in my loaf tin, so I made 4 accompanying cakes which I topped with a non-dairy topping of coconut butter, sunflower seed butter and icing sugar for those who can’t tolerate milk.

marrow, pecan, cake, loaf, sponge

Marrow and Pecan cake
Makes 1 large loaf cake and 4 small cupcakes

  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 300g self raising flour, gluten free if necessary
  • 3 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
  • 250g light brown soft sugar
  • 4 eggs – if you use egg replacer, let me know how it goes
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 300g marrow flesh, skinned and coarsely grated
  • 200g pecans

For the topping

  • 50g ricotta cheese
  • 100g cashew nuts, soaked overnight
  • honey/maple syrup to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 160C and prepare a loaf tin
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl.  Stir in the sugar.
  3. In a food processor, quickly combine the eggs, orange juice and oil.  Add the marrow and give it a quick whizz
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and combine.  Stir in about 3/4 of the pecans, leaving whole ones for topping.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin, use any remaining mixture to make mini cupcakes –  these will only take about 20-30 minutes to cook.
  6. Bake the loaf cake for 1hour 20 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool for 30 minutes in the tin before turning out
  8. To make the icing, drain the cashew nuts and put in a food processor.  Blend until a thick butter forms.  Stir in the ricotta cheese, and honey or maple syrup to taste.

What is the strangest ingredient that you’ve had in a cake?

A week of lunches #2 gluten free, meat, vegan and vegetarian options

I was insistent that this week I would buy different veg at the supermarket and Farmer’s Market.  A sure fire way of shaking things up and making sure I had something different.

Different veg this week included:

  • cauliflower instead of broccoli
  • sweet gem lettuce instead of romaine (ok, not much difference)
  • corn on the cob, marrow, courgettes, beansprouts, frozen soya beans, runner beans, radishes, kale
  • I still had leftover carrots, peppers, red cabbage, avocado, ginger and a few red onions

I’m keeping with salad based lunches at the moment.  But to warm me up I’ve enjoyed making miso soup to accompany my meals.  I’m not really a fan of using a microwave, and the one we have at work is filthy, so I tend to keep clear.  I have in the past brought in a thermos of soup or leftovers reheated at home, and I might turn to this when the weather gets colder.

edamame, soya bean, egg, beansprout, Thai,

Monday lunch

Monday’s lunch was a Thai soya bean and egg salad made with shredded carrots and beansprouts, piled onto sweet gem lettuce leaves seasoned with a dash of tamari and lime.  My Real Foods order came in the morning, so I made a dressing with a squeeze of lime, and a dollop of live miso paste – this is going to be a new favourite product!

chicken, marinaded, marinated kale, salad, red cabbage, beansprout

Tuesday lunch

I had a marinaded kale salad (on the blog soon) with red cabbage and beansprouts topped with an organic chicken breast I baked in foil.  I poured the juices from the chicken onto the salad.  I made a miso soup with the paste and hot water to warm me up.

chicken, kale, avocado, miso soupBy Wednesday I was getting a bit fed up with the beansprouts.  Ben isn’t a big fan so after our stir fry the rest were left to me.  With the last of them, I cooked them off and added egg to create an omelette which I wrapped up in nori to make egg and beansprout sushi.

Week of lunch, egg, sushi, miso, wasabi courgette dressing, salad

Wednesday lunch

I had it with a salad of runner beans, sweetcorn, soya beans and a bit of rocket.  The really exciting part of this was the dressing.  I steamed some courgette and when it was cool I blitzed it up with some probiotic drink left over from breakfast and a quarter teaspoon of wasabi powder. It was really runny, but by lunchtime it had thickened to a nice dipping consistency.

beansprout, egg, sushi, runner bean, sweetcorn, wasabi, courgette, misoI used the other half of my corn on the cob on Thursday to make sweetcorn fritters.  I made them with egg, oats and nutritional yeast.  When I made the mix I was really concerned how runny it was, but by the morning it had thickened.  They made a really filling dinner.  Radishes aren’t really my favourite, so I still hadn’t opened them.  I chucked them on some sweet gem lettuce to serve on the side.  The jar contains my daily dollop of miso for an accompanying soup.

sweetcorn, fritters, radish, lettuce

Thursday lunch

By Friday I had been to the Farmer’s market again so I shunned the last of the sweet gem lettuce in favour of some more organic lettuce leaves.  I baked a sweet potato, then scooped out the flesh and mixed it with nutritional yeast and some Tex Mex seasoning.  I was inspired by Angela at Oh She Glows to make a lentil and guacamole topping.  I was glad of that because the sweet potato seasoning was hot!

sweet potato, guacamole, lentil, salad

Friday lunch

Again, I had a miso soup on the side.

And what did I buy at the Farmer’s market this week?

farmer's, market, tomatoes, beetroot, onions, salad, honey, romanesco

Farmer’s Market

You should be able to spot the organic salad leaves, local honey, romanesco cauliflower, raw beetroot, onions and cherry tomatoes.

How do you keep your meal ideas fresh and exciting? Do you always buy the same foods or do you mix it up?