Recipe: Mediterranean Couscous Cake

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Mediterranean Couscous Cake

Mediterranean Couscous Cake

Ingredients

  • 500g couscous
  • 650ml boiling water
  • splash of orange blossom water (optional)
  • 200g finely chopped apricots
  • 200g mixed dried berries (I used golden berries, blueberries, golden raisins and cranberries)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • juice of one lime and one orange
  • 450g clear honey
  • 3 tbsp flaked almonds
  • Low-fat Greek yoghurt to serve

Instructions

  1. Line a square baking dish with greaseproof paper. About 22cm x 22cm is ideal.
  2. Put the dry couscous into a large bowl, pour over the boiling water and add the orange blossom essence if using
  3. Leave for about 10 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, place all other ingredients except the almonds and yoghurt into a large saucepan and warm through for 5 minutes on a moderate heat
  5. The fruit should soften a little and everything should be well combined.
  6. Add the fruit mixture to the couscous and mix well
  7. Press the mixture into the tin using the back of a large spoon
  8. Leave to set at room temperature (I left mine overnight)before cutting into squares

Notes

The secret to this cake is probably to cut the fruits into small pieces or possibly blitz in a food processor. If left larger they tend to disrupt the cutting of the cake so that it doesn't form neat squares. Don't worry if it doesn't cut perfectly. It is fabulous deconstructed as a dessert or breakfast dish, drizzled with the yoghurt and topped with the flaked almonds.

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/28/recipe-mediterranean-couscous-cake/

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Recipe: Pasta Quattro Stagioni

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Recipe: Pasta Quattro Stagioni

Recipe: Pasta Quattro Stagioni

Ingredients

  • 500g pasta shapes. I used gluten-free fusilli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g button mushrooms
  • 2 packs of mozzarella, sliced
  • 280g jar of roasted peppers in oil, drained
  • 280g jar of artichoke hearts in oil, drained (Aldi do inexpensive anti pasti ingredients)
  • 1 portion of Tomatotastic sauce (see previous recipes on FB) or quantity of any basic tomato pasta sauce, home-made or bought
  • 50g parmesan or Grano Padano, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan/Gas Mark 5
  2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions
  3. Tip into large oven proof dish ( about 20cm x 30cm)
  4. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms until golden, add to the pasta
  5. Add the drained artichoke hearts and roasted peppers, stir through
  6. Add the tomato sauce, stir through and check seasoning
  7. Lay mozzarella slices on the top and finish with parmesan
  8. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden and bubbling

Notes

Can be frozen after step 6, wrapped in cling film. Top with the cheeses once defrosted and cook as above.

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/27/recipe-pasta-quattro-stagioni/

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Recipe: It’s Never Too Cold For Salad

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Recipe: It’s Never Too Cold For Salad

Recipe: It’s Never Too Cold For Salad

Ingredients

  • Root vegetables: Any combination of the following: raw beetroot, baby turnip, swede, parsnips, carrots (I like purple carrots for their colour but orange work fine), red onions and celeriac. Once peeled and chopped you will need enough to cover two baking trays.
  • Half a head of garlic, cloves unpeeled
  • Olive oil to drizzle over veg plus 4 tbsp for dressing
  • Packet or tin of cooked green or puy lentils (I like Merchant Gourmet's puy lentil pouches)
  • Packet of rocket
  • 100g of feta cheese, cubed
  • I chilli (red or green), deseeded and chopped
  • Juice and zest of at least one lemon
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200oC/Fan 180oC/Gas 6
  2. Place peeled, chopped vegetable selection and unpeeled garlic on baking trays, season and drizzle with a little olive oil
  3. Bake for 30-45 minutes until nicely browned and tender (the exact time will depend upon size of chopped pieces and combinations used so keep an eye out for burning)
  4. Remove from oven, leave to cool
  5. To make the dressing: combine the 4 tbsp olive oil with the chopped chilli, lemon juice and parsley and seasoning and whisk together. If you like your dressing more tart add extra lemon juice.
  6. Prepare the lentils according to the packet or warm through rinsed tinned lentils in a pan.
  7. Dress each plate or bowl with the rocket, top with still warm roasted root vegetables, lentils and feta and drizzle over the dressing

Notes

This is excellent for using up leftover veg from a Sunday roast or just using up fridge leftovers. Makes loads so there will be plenty left for a lovely bright and nourishing salad for lunch at work the next day. If taking to work cold you can assemble it all together in a sealed container. If you prefer to warm through, store the rocket, feta and dressing in one container and the veg and lentils in another for heating through. Then combine.

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/25/recipe-its-never-too-cold-for-salad-2/

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Recipe: Magic Bean Bake

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Magic Bean Bake

Magic Bean Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 4 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 400g tin of cherry tomatoes (larger supermarkets or deli's will be more likely to have these)
  • 200ml vegetable bouillon
  • 8-10 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Half a large or 3 small turnips, peeled or scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter (or soya butter)
  • Splash of milk (preferably soya or non-dairy)
  • 1 tbsp dried coriander

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/Fan 180oC/Gas 6
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan
  3. Soften the onions, pepper and celery for 5-10 minutes over a gentle heat
  4. Stir in the harissa paste and fry for a minute
  5. Add the drained beans and tinned cherry tomatoes, stir and season well
  6. Spoon the mixture into a large ovenproof dish (at least 2 litres) and pour over the stock
  7. Meanwhile, place potatoes and turnips into a large saucepan, cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt
  8. Boil until tender
  9. Mash with the butter and milk to a smooth consistency and add the dried coriander and seasoning to taste
  10. Spoon the mash over the bean mix
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbling and nicely browning on top

Notes

Can be made ahead, chilled and baked later and also tastes even better a day old if kept in the fridge!

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/19/recipe-magic-bean-bake/

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Recipe: Posh Pesto

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Recipe: Posh Pesto

Recipe: Posh Pesto

Ingredients

  • 280g Jar of artichoke hearts in oil (Aldi do a very reasonable antipasti range including these)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 slices of bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs
  • Handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley and basil, chopped
  • 100g of spinach
  • 3 lemons
  • Wholewheat pasta (fusilli, conchiglie or penne would work best)
  • Grated parmesan to serve

Instructions

  1. Drain the artichokes and reserve the oil
  2. Zest and juice two of the lemons
  3. Heat 2tbsp of the artichoke oil in a large frying pan
  4. Add half the garlic for a minute then add the breadcrumbs, stirring well
  5. Cook for 5 minutes until browning slightly
  6. Remove from heat and add the chopped parsley and add the zest and juice of one of the lemons
  7. Using a blender, whizz up the artichokes, rest of the garlic, basil, juice and zest of one lemon and seasoning.
  8. When combined, start to add the spinach in handfuls. Depending upon your blender you may need to add some spoonfuls of water or perhaps a dash of olive oil (I use a lemon infused oil)
  9. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions
  10. Stir ladlefuls of pesto into the pasta, it should turn the pasta a gorgeous bright green!
  11. Top with the breadcrumb mixture, grated parmesan and freshly ground pepper to taste

Notes

The Pangratto-style breadcrumb topping and the pesto can both be made ahead of time and just assembled with the hot cooked pasta for the ultimate fast 'after work' food!

Top with lemon wedges and enjoy!

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/18/recipe-posh-pesto/

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Recipe: Hash not Mash

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Hash not Mash

Hash not Mash

Ingredients

  • 800g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • A small savoy cabbage, shredded

Instructions

  1. Using a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and fry the potatoes in batches over a medium hot heat (You may need to do this in batches depending upon the size of your frying pan)
  2. Turn potatoes over in the oil so that they colour all over, remove
  3. Replace a little oil if necessary and add the onions, fry until golden
  4. Add the beans and fry until lightly browned and a little crispy
  5. Return the cooked potatoes to the pan
  6. Add the cabbage and stir to combine with the rest of the mixture, cook for a few minutes until the cabbage wilts a little but is still crisp

Notes

Comfort food! A change from mash but still with the starchy goodness of the humble potato!

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/08/recipe-hash-not-mash/

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Can You Read the Label?

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It’s January – we’re surrounded by advertising for diets, detoxes and friends signing up for weight loss programmes and slimming clubs. It’s easy to understand the temptation. Someone else has done the planning for you and you can reap the benefits just by sticking to it, then there is the support offered, which is of course valuable.

If everyone could understand nutritional labelling though, would there really be a need for organised diets?

nutrition-trans-fat-panel-1329029-639x751

I’ve perfected the art of dissecting labels like this over years. There ain’t no way I’m going to be able to communicate that in one blog post but I can give you some heads up help because it seems like various slimming clubs, ‘diet’ products and ‘cleanse’ programmes are banking on their members to not have a flipping clue what they are recommending you to eat/drink!

For example:

Low Fat – you’d think that was a green flag for health wouldn’t you? Not necessarily. Manufacturers only have to comply with a rule that something ‘low-fat’ is 30% lower in fat than a standard product and almost a third less of something very high in saturated fat is still pretty high in fat! In terms of signalling fat content though ‘reduced’ or ‘lower’ or ‘lite’ is probably better for you though – right? Wrong! I’ve blogged about this in more detail before (What Your Slimming Club Doesn’t tell You: http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/?p=196). Low-fat foods are often packed full of salt and sugar to compensate for the taste lost through reducing fat. The sugar can be in all sorts of strange places too. Weight Watchers chilli has sugar in it. Marketed as low in fat (which it is) but why sugar? Who puts sugar in chilli? Why would a ‘weight loss’ savoury product contain sugar?

Really want to eat low-fat foods? check the label and opt for products with 1.5g out of 100g as saturated fats and check the salt and sugar quantities. Or better still, eat naturally low-fat foods? Fruit, vegetables, rice, whole-grains, starchy veg, all are naturally low fat and no label to check 😀

No Added Sugar – this is a minefield people! Our favourite rice milk has no sugar or sweetener. They also do a ‘No Added Sugar’ version which has sweeteners. It makes no sense!! Our usual one has neither sugar nor sweeteners but isn’t labelled with anything. This is because manufacturers know that people like sweet things, if they say ‘no added sugar’ it can be code to consumers for artificially sweetened! You might still enjoy their product with the sweeteners yet the real ‘no added sweetness’ milk isn’t labelled as anything. Sugar is another dieters no-no, I’ve covered this in more detail in the above linked blog. Here’s the deal though – sweeteners; aspartame, sorbitol, acelsulfame can have some nasty and surprising side effects. There is some evidence that the sweeteners can increase weight gain, disrupt metabolism and encourage sweet cravings. An excellent article on these risks can be found here.

Natural – I’m bound to approve of this one though? Nope. Products labelled as ‘healthy’ ‘fresh’ ‘pure’ or ‘natural’ are not well governed or governed at all in cases of labels like ‘fresh.’ If you want fresh, natural, pure and healthy ditch foods with labels and go for the green stuff. The fruit aisle. You’re quite safe there!

In short. If you don’t understand the label, do some research. Read up a bit. Think about what you’re eating and how you are being manipulated by unscrupulous advertising or misled by ‘diet sounding’ products. If your low-fat yogurt has sugar in the top three ingredient like Slimming World recommended Muller Lite has – refer to the above guide and think about it. Do you really want to train your body to become accustomed to unnecessarily sweet foods? ‘Cos that won’t help your ‘diet’ in the long-term and that’s what we’re in this life for. The long-term.

  1. Read the label – make informed choices.
  2. Eat plentiful fruits and vegetables.
  3. Avoid packaged foods with any ingredient you cannot buy yourself in the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe: Baltic Weather Balti

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Recipe: Baltic Weather Balti

Recipe: Baltic Weather Balti

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp of balti curry paste (I used Patak's)
  • Half a butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • Half a small turnip/swede, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • One large or two small cauliflowers, broken into florets
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Half a pint of vegetable stock/bouillon
  • A large handful of fresh coriander, torn into pieces

Instructions

  1. Put all the veg, the curry paste, the choppped tomatoes and half the coriander into a large, lidded wok or pan.
  2. Add the stock and bring to the boil
  3. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes
  4. Remove the lid and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes or until all veg are tender and some of the liquid has reduced down.
  5. Season and add the remaining coriander to serve
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/05/recipe-baltic-weather-balti/

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Recipe: Love at First Date

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Recipe: Love at First Date

Recipe: Love at First Date

Ingredients

  • 250ml water
  • 200g stoned, chopped dates
  • 175g plain flour (I used 175g gluten-free plain flour and 1 heaped tsp of Xanthan gum)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g agave syrup (or 100g light soft brown sugar)
  • 100g rolled/porridge oats
  • 175g nut butter (I used almond butter) or 175g butter
  • 20cm x 20cm square cake tin

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160 C fan/Gas 4
  2. Grease and line the cake tin with baking paper
  3. Place the water and dates into a saucepan and heat until simmering for 10 minutes and the mixture is sticky and most of the water has been absorbed
  4. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl
  5. Add the sugar, salt and oats, mix well
  6. Add the butter and mix well in a food processor or rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips (I blitzed mine)
  7. Place half the oat mixture into the tin, press down with the heel of your hand
  8. Carefully pour the hot date mix over the oats
  9. Top with the remaining oat mix, press down again carefully as the date mixture will be very hot
  10. Bake for around 35 minutes, will brown round the sides
  11. Allow to cool in the tin and cut into squares
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/04/recipe-love-at-first-date-2/

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Recipe: Swanky Soup

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Recipe: Swanky Soup

Recipe: Swanky Soup

Ingredients

  • 500g spring greens, tough stem removed and shredded
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 celery sticks, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 x 400g peeled plum tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock (or bouillon)
  • To serve (optional)
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • parmesan, grated

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Fry the onions over a low heat for 10 minutes or until well softened
  3. Add the garlic and fennel seeds, cook for a minute or two
  4. Stir in all other ingredients except the greens
  5. Bring to the boil
  6. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes
  7. Stir in the greens and cook for a further 20 minutes until the greens have wilted down into the soup
  8. Season to taste
  9. Lightly blend with a hand-held stick blender or serve chunky if preferred
  10. Serve with parmesan and olive oil drizzle if desired.
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2016/01/04/recipe-swanky-soup/

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