Broccoli & Bacon Salad

20150725_153542
Think “salad” and I bet your immediate thought is lettuce, tomato, cucumber maybe some onion and pepper?? Well this does not have to be the case! Keep things interesting by varying your salads, and chances are you won’t get bored of them and will continue to enjoy them.

Summer is THE time for salads for many people. I think there’s something more satisfying about cold, fresh, crunchy vegetables on a hot day than having cooked vegetables. That said, I’ve always preferred raw vegetables, ask my nan, I used to live on raw carrots as a 2 year old! Anyway…I guess in summer having raw veg in salads saves us having a hot kitchen!

My SO introduced me to this salad, and it was one he discovered after a family friend made it for a BBQ. He was always going on about it, and, as I have a preference for raw veg, it wasn’t long til it became one of my favourites too. I’m not sure on the original recipe, but this is how we prepare it.

INGREDIENTS
1 head of broccoli
1 medium red onion
3-5 slices of thick bacon (cut into small pieces)
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons of creme fraiche & natural yoghurt (I use low fat versions)
Salt & pepper to taste

METHOD
1. Break the broccoli into small florets….and I mean small, like the size of your fingernail. Place this in a bowl to one side.
2. Chop the onion, also into small pieces, and add this into the bowl with the broccoli.
3. Fry the small pieces of bacon (or you can grill the whole pieces and cut them up afterwards). If you’ve fried, drain and pat the fat off before adding it to the bowl with the broccoli.
4. Scoop in the mayo with 1 tablespoon of yoghurt and 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche. Stir this in and see how it looks, it you feel it needs more “sauce”, add more creme fraiche or yoghurt.
5. Season with salt and pepper, and you’re ready to go!

NUTRITION (for 1/4 of above recipe):
CALORIES: 96 kcal
PROTEIN: 5g
CARBS: 7g
TOTAL FAT: 5g
SATURATED FAT: 1.5g

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Chickpea and spinach risotto

Risotto is a bit of a go-to for me. I like the whole one-pot thing it’s got going on, and I also find its gooey deliciousness indulging and comforting. Risotto is also easy to adapt by adding different vegetables and ingredients. This particular recipe is often one I use when I’ve forgotten to get meat out of the freezer, or one for meat free Monday!

IMG-20150304-WA0005Ingredients (serves 2):
100g risotto rice
100g chickpeas
1 large onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
100ml dry white wine
100g mushrooms
200g spinach
100g courgette
1 tsp oregano
Lemon zest
500ml stock + water
Salt and pepper to season

Method:
1. Heat the butter over a low heat in a large saucepan big enough to hold all of the ingredients. Add the chopped onion, garlic, oregano and seasoning. Stir the onions and keep cooking them till they become translucent, don’t let the garlic burn.
2. Add in the risotto rice and allow the grains to heat up slightly. Then, pour in the white wine. It will sizzle and smell amazing.
3. Let the rice take up the white wine, and when it is all absorbed add a small amount of the stock. This is where the continuous stirring comes in. Little stock, stir, let rice absorb, stock, stir, absorb…..
4. When you’re about half way through your stock, add in the mushrooms, courgette and chickpeas. Then, continue to add the rest of the stock little by little. (If your rice hasn’t cooked but you’re out of stock, continue the same process with water until the rice is cooked.)
5. For the final few minutes, add the spinach and allow it to wilt into the risotto before stirring in. I like to add a little lemon zest here too but that’s optional!
6. Taste, and season further if required. Serve and enjoy (a little Parmesan would also work nicely!)

The nutritional information below is per serving:
CALORIES: 430kcal
TOTAL FAT: 8g
SATURATED FAT: 4g
PROTEIN: 14g

Mediterranean Hotpot

I’m a big fan of Mediterranean food because it’s healthy, tasty, comforting and, typically, easy to make. You can pretty much throw in any veg and it goes well together. When it comes to dishes like this, I tend to just use up what veg we have left. Consequently,this recipe probably isn’t one for those who like precise, follow-to-the-letter recipes. However, it’s quick, sooo easy and packed with vegetables, fibre and protein.

Serves 4

20150303_184130Ingredients

Chicken (I used 2 breasts, diced into bitesized chunks)
2 large onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
1 aubergine
1 courgette
Mushrooms (a couple of handfuls)
1 pepper
1 chili
2 cloves of garlic
Cherry tomatoes (a couple of handfuls)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Water
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

1. Add the oil to a large pan and heat on low.
2. Dice the onions, finely chop the garlic and add to the pan. Leave to soften for a few minutes.
3. Add the bitesize chicken chunks to the pan and leave for 5-10 minutes to cook. Meanwhile, chop all your remaining vegetables.
4. Put the vegetables (aubergine, mushrooms, pepper, courgette and tomatoes) into the same pan, along with the chili, herbs and spices. Season if desired.
5. Add the tinned tomatoes and water (I add a further tin full of water). Stir well and leave for 5-10 minutes with the lid on.
6. When the vegetables have begun to cook and the contents of the pan has reduced a little, add the chickpeas. Stir again, and leave for 10-15 minutes with the lid on, stirring periodically.
7. Check the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is piping hot. Your hotpot is ready!

HINT 1: If you want, you can use this dish as a ‘sauce’ for pasta (as pictured above)
HINT 2: A little crumbled feta tastes great on this dish!

The nutritional data below is based on the above ingredients yielding 4 portions (not including pasta):
CALORIES: 300kcal
TOTAL FAT: 9g
SATURATED FAT: 1.2g
PROTEIN: 19g

One-pot chicken saag

I love curry! Be it lamb, chicken, prawn, spicy, mild…I just love how diverse they are. I enjoy making curries from scratch, but what I don’t enjoy is the amount of time and effort that it takes to make the paste (and the extra things you have to wash up afterwards!)

But, fear not!

I’m a one-pot dinner kinda girl, and this recipe can be made in one (or rather two!) pots as you can add the spices straight to the pan. No paste making = less washing up. AND it tastes amazing. It’s also up to 150 calories less than you would consume in a takeaway version of the same curry.

WIN WIN WIN!

Serves 4

curry1Ingredients

Chicken – (I used 4 breasts, but have also made this using leftover meat from a roast chicken)
Spinach – 300g
Onions x 2 large
Garlic x 5 cloves
Vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
Fresh diced ginger – 1-2 teaspoons
1 tin of tomatoes
Splash of milk
1 fresh chili
Ground coriander – 2 teaspoons
Cayenne pepper – 2 teaspoons
Ground turmeric – 1 tablespoon
Garam masala – 1 tablespoon
Cardamom pods x 4
Cloves x 4
Bay leaf x 2
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

1. Add the oil to a large pan big enough to hold all of the ingredients. Finely chop the onions and the garlic, add to the pan and fry on a medium heat.
2. Slice the chicken into bitesized chunks, add into the same pan as the onions. While the chicken is cooking, place the spinach in a separate saucepan half full with water, boil for 5 minutes then remove from heat.
3. Once the outside of the chicken is browned off, add the ginger, chili, tinned tomatoes, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves and seasoning (told you you’d need a big pan!) If there’s not enough liquid in the pan to cover the chicken, add a dash of water.
4. Simmer for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the curry is piping hot. Meanwhile, drain the water from the spinach and roughly chop it.
5. Add the spinach and milk along with the garam masala and stir into the curry.
6. Cook on a low heat for another 10-15 minutes.
7. Serve with brown rice or baked potato! Yum!

The nutritional data below is based on the above curry ingredients yielding 4 portions:
CALORIES: 300kcal
TOTAL FAT: 12g
SATURATED FAT: 2g
PROTEIN: 33g

Leek and potato soup

20150122_131523I had a couple of ingredients that needed using up so adapted my usual leek and potato soup recipe a little. It tasted delicious so I deemed it blog-worthy 🙂

As usual with my soups, I make on bulk and freeze what we don’t eat. The ingredients below make 6 generous servings.

Ingredients
1 leek
4 carrots
1 head of broccoli
2 onions
3 potatoes
100g red lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon reduced fat creme fraiche
500mls of stock + water as needed
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

1. Peel the carrots and chop them up along with the leek, broccoli and the onions.
2. Cube the potatoes into small squares (no need to peel).
3. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and place on a low heat.
4. Add the carrots, leek, broccoli, onions, potato and garlic into the saucepan and give them a good stir. Leave them soften for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the lentils, the oregano, thyme and other seasoning and stir into the vegetables.
6. Pour over the stock and enough water to just reach the top of the vegetables. Leave simmering on a low-medium heat until the vegetables have cooked.
7. This soup tastes great blended, but it’s best to leave it cool a little before you do this (trust me!) Once it’s cooled, use a hand blender or a food processor to blend. If it’s too thick for your preference, add some more water.
8. Once blended, heat back up and stir in the creme fraiche before serving.
Mmm…Creamy deliciousness without the guilt 🙂

The nutritional data below is based on the above yielding 6 portions.
Per Portion:
CALORIES: 160kcal
TOTAL FAT: 2.5g
SATURATED FAT: 0.3g
PROTEIN: 5g

Hummus

Hummus is a healthy and handy food that’s packed with protein, high in soluble fibre and a good source of healthy fats. It’s so versatile too, it can accompany a meal, works great as a dressing or sauce, in sandwiches or even on its own.

Problem is, shop-bought hummus can vary hugely in terms of calorie and fat content. If you’re watching your weight, you can often be left wondering if it’s a healthy or less healthy choice (particularly in Belgium where the shop-bought hummus I’ve tried actually doesn’t have a calorie information on the label!).

Making your own means you know exactly what’s in it and saves you money too!

Like a lot of my recipes, I make use of my freezer and make this in large batches and freeze it. Hummus freezes well, just ensure you use an airtight container and leave a little room at the top to allow it to expand. When you come to defrost it, leave it in the fridge overnight and give it a good stir before serving.

I’ve made my own hummus for a while, and I adapt the recipe to create different flavours, but this recipe produces a good base for you to use and add your own flavours to.

Ingredients20150122_131113
400g chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200g low fat natural yoghurt
Salt & pepper to season
Paprika (optional)

Method
1. Crush the garlic and put into the food processor with the tahini and lemon juice. Blend.
2. Add the chickpeas and the yoghurt (I like to leave a handful of chickpeas out to have whole in the hummus, but you can add them all if you prefer).
3. Blend until you have a relatively smooth consistency (if it’s not runny enough you can add more natural yoghurt or a little water). Taste it and season it to your taste at this point too, you can also add paprika or other spices if desired.
4. Blend again, until desired consistency is reached.
5. Pop into an airtight container, remembering to add your whole chickpeas back in if you left some out earlier! It can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

The nutritional data below is based on the above ingredients yielding 8 portions.
CALORIES: 120kcal
TOTAL FAT: 3.5g
SATURATED FAT: 0.5g
PROTEIN: 6g

Spiced cauliflower soup

This one is a tasty, creamy warmer. An ideal autumn lunch, or perfect for a healthy meal on a cosy night in.

20141113_140023Ingredients
2 leeks
1/2 a cauliflower
80g almonds
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon of olive oil
150mls low fat milk
500mls of stock + water as needed
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

1. Chop up the leeks and cauliflower.
2. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and place on a low heat.
3. Add the garlic, ginger, spices and herbs to the saucepan for around 30 seconds until the seeds start to split open. You should be able to smell them!
4. Put in the leeks, cauliflower and almonds and give the saucepan a stir; coating the veggies in the spices.
5. Pour over the stock and enough water to just reach the top of the vegetables. Leave simmering on a low-medium heat until the vegetables have softened.
6. Add the milk and the lime juice to the saucepan and let the soup cool.
7. Once cooled, blend the soup using either a hand blender or a food processor. If it’s too thick for your preference, add some more water.
8. Reheat, refrigerate or freeze as desired.
9. Serve with a wholemeal roll for a healthy, filling lunch!

20141111_131132The nutritional data below is based on the above yielding 10 portions.

CALORIES: 92kcal
TOTAL FAT: 6g
SATURATED FAT: 0.7g
PROTEIN: 3.5g
CARBOHYDRATE: 8g