Category Archives: healthy

Sea Salt and Pepper Oatcakes

I made these Sea Salt and Pepper Oatcakes for our Christmas Eve evening cheeseboard and beyond, not that they ever last that long.  You can add any herbs of your choice or chilli flakes and such like, delicious plain or packed with flavour,  these are relatively plain as they will be served with an assortment of very wonderful but quite strong smelly cheeses!

oatcake Collage

A batch of Oatcakes can be knocked up in under an hour, usually I just produce the classic round shape but as it’s Christmas I’ve busted out the star and heart cutters!  You can also make these up to a week before you need them if kept in an airtight box.  They make great little foodie gifts when paired up with some home-made chutney and small cheeses.   

oatcakes4

Sea Salt and Pepper Oatcakes

Yields:  around 25-30
Making time:  20 minutes
Baking time:  30 minutes

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan, gas 4 and lightly grease 2 baking trays with butter or olive oil.

Ingredients

220g oats
50g plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp golden caster sugar
60g unsalted butter, melted
175ml hot water

Method

Mix the oats, wholemeal flour, sea salt, black pepper and golden caster sugar together in a large bowl.

Pour the melted butter into the hot water and mix, then pour into the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly to form a soft dough.  

Dust your worksurface with flour and roll out the dough to your desired thickness, mine are around 5mm.  

Cut out shapes using pastry cutters and carefully arrange on the baking trays and bake for around 30 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool.

Think I should leave some out for Santa Claus tonight?…….

santas oatcakes

Nutritional Info:

Oats:   good source of soluble dietary fibre, vitamin B1, phosphorus, selenium, manganese, iron and magnesium.

 Linking up with Simply Food – Let’s Cook Christmas

Cod and Chorizo Risotto

We eat a lot of fish at our house, Mr ND is a vegetarian and I mainly eat chicken and fish and the little one usually joins in with one or the other. When buying fish I like to take out a small piece and make another separate meal for her, a little plainer as we do like to spice our food up sometimes!  So with less fish available our Cod and Chorizo Risotto is an ideal way to stretch it out. I’ve added peas and mushrooms but you can beef it up with more vegetables too.

Serves 3 adults

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: around 30 minutes

Ingredients – 1 onion, chopped, Chorizo, sliced, mushrooms, sliced, Cod, cubed, 1 teaspoon each of Turmeric and Paprika (more to your own taste), 1 vegetable stock cube, Peas, 1 cup Arborio Rice.  Ingredient quantities are flexible depending on what is left in the fridge, so please adjust to your own quantities, the rice quantity will easily feed 3 adults.

risottoingredients

Method

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, I add a splash of water half way through to steam fry, which softens the onions without them catching.  

Add the Chorizo, Mushrooms and Cod to the pan and gently fry for another 5 minutes until softened.  

Add the Arborio rice, Turmeric, Paprika and stock made up with around 600-700 ml of boiling water (use more or less as necessary).  Cover and simmer gently for around 20 minutes until the liquid has nearly all been absorbed, leave the lid off for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

codchorizoCollageND

 

Serve with a fresh, green salad and a chilled glass of white wine!

Quick Nutritional Info:

Cod – Protein, Omega-3, B3, B6, B12
Turmeric – see here for details
Paprika – Vitamins A, C & E, Calcium and Iron, good source of B1, B2, B3, B6, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese, and Potassium.
Peas – Protein, Vitamins A,  C,  K,  B1, B3, Folic acid, Iron & Manganese, very good source of Fibre.
Mushrooms – Protein, Vitamin C,  B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic Acid, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Selenium. Very good source of Vitamin D & fibre, 

Linking up with A Mummy too Recipe of the Week, Honest Mum Tasty Tuesdays and Anyonita Nibbles Tasty Tuesdays.

 

Link up your recipe of the week
 

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

 

 

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Butternut Squash Ginger Soup & the 5:2 diet

Soups deliver such concentrated nutrition, even the little girl is amenable to soup even if it is a few mouthfuls, I can be assured that my homemade soup is full of natural goodness.

Butternut Squash is one of my (many) favourite vegetables, with its dense, orange flesh, it is delicious and sweet with a nutty flavour.  I have wrestled with many a Butternut Squash and have now found the perfect peeler for the tough outer skin thanks to a visit to Lakeland, so now its less challenging and faster to prepare too!

Carrots can be used instead of the Butternut Squash or a mix of both is good too, soup has so many variations and each has their own place within each season.  Although this year the seasons have gone a little awry with snow in April here!

Butternut Squash Ginger Soup is satisfying and filling on my 5:2 fast diet days.  And just in case you haven’t heard about this yet, the 5:2 Fast Diet was brought to us by Dr Michael Moseley when he was researching the health and longevity claims for the BBC2 Horizon programme Eat Fast and Live Longer – for 2 days a week you aim for 500 calories for women and 600 for men.  I have got this down to a fine art now & can easily get around the 500 calorie mark with soups on the menu, I’ve gone a little soup loopy but they are just so easy and delicious, plus you can use up any lingering vegetables from the fridge so less waste!

I make up a pot which will last for the couple of days fasting and is extremely low in fat and calories.  The addition of Ginger gives the soup an interesting zing and warmth.  On non-5:2 days I add crème fraîche, chilli flakes and black pepper which lifts the flavours even more!

For my pot of soup, some of which can be frozen too, popped in ice cube trays for easy access to soup for kiddie meals, I used around 600g of butternut squash, I did weigh it for the benefit of this blog post but usually I just use a medium Butternut Squash.

 

Prep time:  15 mins

Cooking time:  20 minutes

Ingredients

half a tsp butter – I use unsalted
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
about an inch of root Ginger
600g Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small cubes
1 litre of homemade vegetable stock
black pepper, optional

Method

Gently fry the Onion, Garlic and Ginger for a couple of minutes in the butter then add a few tablespoons of water to steam fry for another 2-3 minutes. 

Add the Butternut Squash and steam fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the Vegetable Stock, I make my own which increases the nutritional value of the soup too, see my blog post on Stock.

Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the Butternut Squash is soft and tender.

Cool, then blend in a liquidiser. 

Nutritious and delicious.

Quick Nutritional Info

Butternut Squash – Vitamin A, C, E, B-complex – folic acid, vitamins, B1, B2, B3 and B6. Iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Ginger – anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, carminative, anti-microbial properties.  Potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Flavour Packed Vegetable Stock

I’ve been making my own vegetable stock forever especially in the colder months and this year being colder for longer I’ve made a small batch this weekend. It’s so simple to do and it’s a great way to use up excess vegetables.  Carrots, celery and onion make up the base of my stock and from there I add different vegetables depending on what’s usually in the fridge, parsnips, leeks and sometimes cabbage, swede and mushrooms have made their way into the pot.

I use parsley, bay and black peppercorns but also have used thyme, garlic and other herbs, there really is no set menu for making your own recipe vegetable stock.  The stock I’m making here is perfect for tiny tastebuds too, mine doesn’t like garlic very much yet so will leave it out of this batch.

Today’s pot of goodness includes:

2 organic carrots, chopped – I don’t peel, just give a good scrub
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 parsnip, peel and cut lengthways
1 small swede, chopped
1 leek including the green part, trim the end off and cut lengthways
3 cabbage leaves, the very outer greener ones
small handful of parsley including stalks
a few black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Put all the vegetables into a pan, I’m using my trusty old (and it is very old but still so good) Le Creuset pan and add 2 litres of water.   Depending on the size of your pan you can add more or less water, more will, of course, produce a more lighter flavoured stock and with less the stock will have a more concentrated infusion.  2 litres fills my pot nicely and produces a delicious, well-flavoured stock.


Simmer for 1-2 hours, I know this seems a bit vague but an hour is fine but if I have the time I do like to give it a bit more simmering time.  Stir occasionally to further blend the flavours.

For extra depth of flavour you can also fry the vegetables gently first in a little oil before adding the water.  For soups though I prefer a simple, fresh and light stock.

Take off the heat and strain through a sieve and leave to cool.  The stock liquid can now be used as the base for soups or to make rissoto, quinoa, etc. 

Once cooled the stock can be frozen, mine is used up pretty quickly as I make a lot of soups which are fabulous for the 5:2 diet which I am still doing every week, it has become a habit now, part of my week and having low-calorie, highly nutritious soups to keep my appetite satiated has been amazingly helpful. 

The cooked vegetables can also be blended down and included in many recipes.  The vegetables will still contain plenty of fibre and a huge shame to waste.  I use them in soups for the tiddler, blended down or added to casseroles.  We also make veggie burgers, mixing the mashed vegetables with breadcrumbs and egg, seasonings and sometimes cheese.  So many uses for extra veg!

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5:2, Low GL – Breakfasts

Still on the 5:2/Alternate Day Low GL Diet.  Another lbs down, my BMI is now 23.  I am combining the two for a few weeks until I get to my target, total loss so far is 8lbs since the beginning of the year but the most important part is the health benefits of both diet plans.

I am currently doing 2 x fast days at 500 calories maximum and 1 day at 700 calories using Patrick Holford’s Low GL Plan. I find it much easier if I meal plan, below are a few of my breakfast choices. 

The rest of the week I try to keep to the Low GL plan foods following Patrick’s weightloss plan that I signed up for last week and try to count GL’s instead of calories.  All I can say is it’s working and I can carry on long term as a healthy weight control way of eating. 

All my breakfasts start with a mug of tea and 50ml of skimmed milk – 25 calories.

*Patrick Holfords Get Up and Go is a Low GL Breakfast Shake that has a wide range of vitamins and minerals with a blend of whole foods and is an ideal start to any day.  I have a shake about 3-4 times a week, sometimes for breakfast and sometimes for a light lunch.  On a fast day I make up a 20g serving which is 66 calories, made with 500ml of water, I can sip this slowly throughout the morning.

*A 30g serving is 99 calories and on non-fast days I will add a tablespoon of chia seeds and one of golden or brown flax seeds with 250ml of skimmed milk  for breakfast.

*A simple boiled medium egg on half a slice (22g) of toasted oatmeal bread = 139 calories. A lower calorie option would be to swap the bread for a slice of Ryvita crispbread (35 -44 calories).

*Total 0% yoghurt – 100g = 57 calories with 50g strawberries –14 calories or blueberries 28 calories or both would still only equal 99 calories!

*1 egg Omelette with 50g grated courgette = 99 calories, serve with a pile of watercress for an extra 5 calories.  And yes this is just one egg, the white is whipped up separately for a lovely fluffy filling breakfast omelette.



Alternate Day GL Diet

So my main aim this week was to keep the calories under 700 on alternate days and to follow the GL way of eating on the Patrick Holford GL weightloss programme.  I signed up earlier in the week and have been glued to all the information, videos, etc.  

The strange thing was that on the first day I managed 689 calories and on day 2 I clocked up a meagre 489!  For some reason I did not feel all that hungry so ate accordingly.  As I have another low-cal fast day tomorrow I weighed myself this morning and another 1lb loss a day early, so quite pleased with progress.

The GL way of looking at food is something I knew about but found a little confusing due to the GI ratings of food too, so I’ve put them out of my head and concentrated on the GL version. The low-GL (glycemic load) diet, coupled with alternate day fasting is a good way to keep your blood sugar levels even, which equates to losing weight, gaining energy and not craving carbs.

Keeping to 40 GL a day will help you lose weight, then 60 GL as a maintenance programme once you are happy with your weight level.

The meal plan is very easy to follow with a huge choice of food, all you have to do is get used to keeping breakfast, lunch and dinner at around 10GL which the meal plans give examples against each meal and as an extra you can have 5GL for puddings, snacks and drinks.  The meal plans are full of very easy to prepare, tasty foods.

During my last pregnancy I had Gestational Diabetes, you won’t be surprised to hear that I managed the condition with diet and did not inject insulin (the thought of injecting myself was enough to make me get my diet on track!). They manage you very closely from 28 weeks so it was a long 10 weeks but I got through.  Because of the GD I am now possibly more prone to becoming diabetic in the next few years so want to manage my blood sugar as much as possible without it being a chore – in other words I still want to enjoy my food!

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Quinoa Cookie-Cakes

 
 
 
 
 
 

These Quinoa Chocolate cookie-cakes are soft with a cake like texture rather than a hard biscuit.  You can add dried fruit or chopped nuts for more crunch but they are so good just as they are with chocolate!

I bought some Coconut sugar recently, I was intrigued to see how it worked in my baking, I tasted it first to see how sweet it was and was pleasantly surprised to find it far less sweet than white or brown sugar.

 

Coconut sugar is a healthy alternative sweetner that has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, agave or honey.   It is especially high in minerals including potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins B2, B3 and B6. 

The addition of Quinoa makes these little cakes protein-rich and with a little bit of chocolate a delicious treat at tea time, breakfast time or any time!
Great healthy toddler snack too, mine loves them.
Ingredients

125g unsalted butter – softened
75g coconut sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg100g wholewheat plain flour
75g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup cooked and cooled Quinoa (easier to measure in cups)
50g sugar-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.

Beat the softened butter and Coconut sugar until pale and creamy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat in until well combined.

In another bowl, combine the wholewheat flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and ground cinnamon.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a few tablespoons at a time and mix in until fully combined.  I used my hand mixer.

Stir in the cooked Quinoa and chocolate pieces to the cake batter and fold in until just combined.  These cakes are a great way to use up any left over Quinoa.

Pop small dollops of the dough onto your baking trays, I prefer to brush a smear of  butter over mine for biscuits or cookies, a tablespoon or teaspoon size whichever you prefer and flatten down a little.  Space evenly apart.

Bake at 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4 for about 12-15 minutes until the edges of the cakes are slightly browned.

Cool for a few minutes before transferring onto a wire rack.

I would normally use 70% dark chocolate in my recipes but I’m linking this post up to We Should Cocoa – The January Challenge where our remit was to come up with something that contains chocolate but is sugar-free including the chocolate. 

 

Nutritional Info:

http://nutritiousdeliciousness.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/quinoa-mother-grain.html
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5:2 Alternate Day Fast "Diet"

I’ve been very interested to try the 5:2 Fasting “Diet” (also known as the Intermittent or Alternate Day diet) after watching the BBC2 Horizon documentary with Dr Michael Mosley some time ago.  The premise is that you can anything you like for five days a week and still lose weight as long as you also fast for two days a week.  By fasting I mean calorie restriction for those two days.  There are also the health benefits that may go along with it too, reduced risk of some diseases and even positive effects on the brain. 

 



So with his new book “The Fast Diet” just arrived I’m busy reading it to get some more inspiration of what to eat on my fast days and to give me more structure, I started yesterday with a mini fast where I counted calories loosely keeping them around 900 (the recommendation is 500 for women and 600 for men) to see how I felt and I am delighted to say it went very well.  I carried my day on as usual and did not feel faint or tired.  I did, however, feel the rumble of my tummy a fair bit but then I usually take in more than double the calories!  I drank my usual 1½ litres of water and my tea with skimmed milk which helped to stave off the hunger too.

I’m not a calorie counter but with a view to starting the 5:2 diet I’ve been seeing what the calorific value of my everyday and treat foods are, some of it is quite startling!  I’ve also signed up to myfitnesspal which is a free calorie counter app to track my daily intake and it gives you a countdown of calories, very useful!  After putting in my personal particulars with how much I wanted to lose each week it gave me my personal daily calorie intake of 1210 plus factor in 2 days of the 5:2 Fast Diet of 600-750 calories (I may have to work my way down to 500!) could mean greater weight loss each week.

I read recently that safe weightloss, shedding fat not lean tissue, is around 1% of body weight so if you are 10 stone that equates to 1lb per week ongoing.  To do this you need to reduce calorie intake by 500 calories a day which over 7 days = 3500 calories which is what is needed to lose 1lb in weight!

Monday this week is my official first 5:2 Fast Day, very much looking forward to it, my days are busy so I’m hoping I won’t notice the lack of calories, it’s the evenings when I find the urge to nibble and even though it’s healthy nibbles like almonds, they are still highly calorific!

For the first couple of weeks I will have to formulate menus as I’m not used to the calorie counting.  I’ll post every Tuesday and Friday about what I ate on the fasting days and the health benefits and weight loss that hopefully come along with it. 

Let the fasting commence!

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Kale Crisps

Kale… it’s not my favourite green vegetable but knowing what a superfood it is I have been trying to incorporate it into my diet.  Bursting with vitamins and phytonutrients, so far I have got as far as just steaming it and adding a few pieces to a vegetable soup.   I’ve been looking for healthy snacks as I am a seasoned nibbler, I could graze all day, and I came across Kale crisps so decided to try them myself.

Kale is sold in such large quantities there is always too much for one sitting so the rest sits in the fridge patiently waiting and these crisps use up a good quantity.

  • Wash and dry a couple (or so) handfuls of kale – it does shrink in the oven to make allowances for that.
  • Coat lightly in olive oil, mix with your fingers so all the kale gets covered.
  • Spread thinly over a baking sheet and then add salt/pepper/chilli flakes, etc to your taste
  • Put in oven on a low heat for around 15-20 minutes to basically dehydrate, the longer they are in the oven the crisper they get.

    Kale crisps may not look very appetising, but I was pleasantly surprised how tasty they  were, especially with the seasonings I used.  A very enjoyable snack and super healthy too.  

    Nutritional Info:

    Kale Vitamins A, C, K, folate, magnesium, manganese, quercitin, fibre, antioxidants – carotenoids, flavonoids, sulphur, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, iron.

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    Sassy Water

    I drink a lot of water, about 1.5 – 2 litres a day.  It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, just plain water.  I really like it, simple as that!  Most of my friends think water is boring to drink on its own and like to go for the flavoured varieties and some don’t drink any at all.   Getting Miss ND to drink water is not that easy, but she is getting the hang of it and now refuses all spouted cups in favour of plain open cups, so water is good, she just gets wet sometimes!  We’re all “supposed” to be drinking 8 glasses a day but I never know how big the glass is supposed to be, so I’ll just stick with my intake.

    So Sassy water.  I came across it several months ago but its been around for a while now.  I keep meaning to try it, I always have the ingredients in the fridge apart from the fresh mint leaves which are optional.
    Sassy water is so named after Cynthia Sass, the co-author of The Flat Belly Diet.  It is said to help maintain a flat belly, helping to flush impurities out of your system and helping to shed the extra pounds around the tummy area (hallelujah to that!)

    To make, take:

    1 large glass jug
    2 litres of water – we have a filter plumbed into our kitchen supply but I’m using mineral water.
    1 teaspoon of grated ginger
    1 medium sized cucumber – sliced thinly
    1 medium sized lemon – sliced thinly
    a few fresh mint leaves, if you have them

    Ginger is to boost metabolism and helps calm your tummy (who can forget morning sickness, bleuch, I drank ginger tea then).

    Cucumber is a natural diuretic and is said to help the body release excess stored water.

    Lemon is a digestive aid and liver cleanser.

    Put all the ingredients into the glass jug, refrigerate overnight to let the flavours infuse.  In the morning, strain the contents through a sieve and drink throughout the day.  

    This was so very refreshing in the warmer summer days but I shall make up a jug 2-3 times a week and hopefully keep whittling down the tum.  Cheers!

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