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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Cauliflower

Whilst I am no / low wheat, I am not really low carb.  However one or two days per week I follow the "fast diet" which is also known as the 5:2.  This means that for two days a week I eat 500 calories or less, so not very much.  So lots of veggies, a little protein.  Mango and a couple of spoonfuls of Greek yogurt for breakfast; homemade vegetable soup for lunch.

Fish for tea with broccoli and cauliflower mash.

Hang on, what mash??

Cauliflower is great for a low carb day / diet.  It is so versatile.  I sometimes have a veg curry with cauliflower rice (half a head of cauliflower each, grated or blitzed to a fine crumb state in the food processor.  Either put in the micro for a few minutes or spread on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 10 - 15 mins); apparently you can make a cauliflower crust pizza, though I haven't tried.  Today I cooked several florets (about a third of a large cauli) and a clove of garlic in a pan of boiling water.  When cooked I put it in the food processor and blended till smooth.  You could mash it.

It looked like this





Pretty convincing, huh?  And tastes good too.  Because the garlic is cooked it isn't very strong.  You can use on its own like this or as topping for a fish lie, or shepherds pie.  If I'd had some spinach I would have steamed it lightly and stirred it through.

So dinner looked like this




So a normal looking dinner for under 200 calories.  I know it could have looked a bit more enticing, maybe some carrot instead of the very few peas, or a tomato sauce for the fish but I didn't have time to prepare.  That's how it goes sometimes.

Am I hungry? Well yes, as bit, but I always sleep well and I don't wake up hungry.





Sunday, 14 September 2014

Date and banana sugar free flapjacks

Warning!! These are lush!

I like a flapjack, theory are quick and easy to make, perfect for lunch boxes, freeze really well and absolutely, totally packed full of sugar !  I would usually include sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk into mine.

So a quick Internet search for sugar free ones led me to mums net - not a site I usually frequent, even though I am a mum.  As you see from the photo, it doesn't make loads so I will double it all next time, and I do the banana and dates in the food processor so they are a lot finer.

Hope I am ok to post the link


http://www.mumsnet.com/food/recipe/259-Sugar-free-banana-and-date-flapjacks


And the recipe


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 180g oats
  • 175g dates, chopped
  • 2 bananas, sliced

Method

  1. Mash the bananas in a large bowl.
  2. Add the dates and oil to the bananas and mix together.
  3. Stir in the oats and the vanilla essence and 
    leave for 5 mins, so the oats absorb the oil.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a well greased baking tray and bake at 175C/Gas Mark 5 for about 25 minutes.
  5. Serve.

Handy Hint

Cut into squares while still warm.




Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Nursery food


Sometimes I just need to have "Proper food".  Yesterday, I didn't eat properly in the evening - no real reason why not, it just  didn't happen.  As a consequence I have been hungry today - hungrier than on a fast day on my 5:2 diet for some reason.

So, it was porridge for breakfast - made with soya milk, a twist of salt and a swirl of cream.

Broccoli soup for lunch, followed by a left over orange from a work buffet.

Then a binge-fest of nuts and dried mango, chicken from the fridge, lump of sugar free "cereal" bar, and and...... STOP

Made myself cook the above, a couple of sausages, mash from the freezer and broccoli and green beans.  That's better, nicely full, no more food necessary.  The mash wasn't the best, if i'm honest - I wouldn't normally eat frozen mash on it's own like that but i had to be quick in order to stop the binge.

It happens sometimes, tomorrow is another day - and what can be better than sausage and mash?

Monday, 8 September 2014

Using up more stuff - veg curry!

So I have managed to avoid supermarket shopping at the weekend, as I am still trying to use up bits and pieces from the fridge and veg box.  I did visit the butchers to stock up on meat.  I really enjoy a visit to the butchers, you always get a good conversation and they seem to know just what I want - even when i don't.  So after a browse of the shelves and purchasing the usual chicken, mince and bacon to go into the fridge and freezer for future use, they recommended some beef olives.  Steak rolled up and stuffed with stuffing.  I know, I know, stuffing has breadcrumbs but i have decided to give them a whirl anyway.  I will let you know how they taste soon!  I also bought some barnsley chops - lamb is always free range and grass fed.

As to non-meat things, I like to give meat a rest at times.  It is also, of course, more economical and better for the environment to avoid it at times - and I had a load of stuff needed using up.

So in the fridge I had

leeks
carrots
cauliflower
And in the veg box

Onions
potatoes
sweet potato

So I chopped two onions and two cloves garlic and fried them off in a little coconut oil.  I threw in a dash or more of turmeric, garam masala, cumin, ginger, a little cayenne, coriander.
I added about 5 chopped up carrots, half a cauliflower broken into florets, two potatoes and one sweet potato and about one and a half leeks.

I let that sweat off for a while and then added some frozen spinach (to make room in the freezer for the finished dishes) and a tin of chick peas.  After consulting a blog I 250ml of orange juice and simmered till the veg was cooked, I did add a little more orange juice as it dried out somewhat.



It has made about 6 portions and they have all gone in the freezer for another day.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Soup!

I eat loads of soup - mainly vegetable based as I am quite fussy about "meat" things.  When I ate such things, i refrained from meaty pasta sauces or pizza toppings - except bolognaise strangely.  Also strangely, I would only eat oxtail soup as a child but wouldn't eat any meaty soup now - not sure why, I just don't.  THe only meat based soup i use is cream of chicken sometimes - in a recipe, particularly the chicken pie recipe posted previously.

Anyhow, I digress.  I make loads of soup - mostly it is "anything in the fridge or pantry that needs using up soup", sometimes carrot and coriander or Leek and potato.  V really loves broccoli soup and is hoping it will see her good at university.  I have even bought her a stick blender so she can make it.

So here is V's Broccoli soup.

2lb broccoli (stalks and florets)
1 onion
1 medium potato
chicken or vegetable stock - erm about 2 litres?
4 oz cheddar (or stilton)



Chop onion, potato and broccoli stalk and fry in a little butter, olive oil or coconut oil for a few minutes till soft.
Add the broccoli florets (separated) and sweat off (i.e cover the pan) for a few more minutes.
Add the stock and bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat



Blend with a stick blender and season to taste
Add the grated cheddar and stir until melted.

You might want to fiddle about with amount of stock (i.e. whether you want a thicker or thinner soup - V likes it very thick - ooh err :), but i tend to have a thinner one) and the amount of cheese.  Restrict the amounts of each at first and then add more if necessary.

Sorry, seem to have not taken a photo of the finished thing - anyway, it's green! :)

The "use up anything in the fridge" soup is just that, so no real recipe

Generally i will chop an onion or two, add a clove of garlic and maybe some celery, if I have it.  Then add whatever - carrot, potato, pepper, courgette, sweet potato, runner beans, parsnip, swede, leek - etc etc.  Put it all in a pan and add some stock.  If i have roasted a chicken, I may have some chicken stock - possibly from the freezer.  or i will use a cube or some bouillon (I have just changed from using the stuff with MSG to the stuff without as i am highly sensitive to MSG and nowadays even the tiniest amount sets off palpitations and either sends me to sleep, or stops me sleeping - shocking but true).  Boil this lot up and either eat as it is or blend smooth.  I tend to chop the veg small and leave the soup chunky, I seem to be more fulfilled that way.  I flavour it with herbs, or the end of the tomato ketchup bottle (just put water in, shake it and tip in the pan - nothing goes to waste here!), or anything else I have to hand - the other day's soup had some chilli sauce in).  The one below is bright yellow because i have added turmeric, having learned of it's anti-inflammatory properties.


As you see - I had my posh bowls out!  (the dishwasher hadn't finished when it was time for tea!)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Using the freezer

I like to make good use of my freezers.  I have two, one in the kitchen and one in the utility room.  Each is stocked with a variety of homemade food - soups, casseroles, mincey things, stewed fruit as well as the usual bags of vegetables and some raw ingredients - mince, beef, fish.

Each also has an unprecedented amount of breadcrumbs made from the french sticks I had overbought for V's 18th birthday party, and left over quiches, sausage rolls and chopped up cooked sausages.  These were frozen when I knew we couldn't use them up before they would go off - the french sticks were blitzed in the food processor to make crumbs and will be used to coat white fish and also chopped up chicken for chicken nuggets.  The sausages will become a casserole at some point.

What the freezers have very little of is any kind of ready made food.  Currently there is one pizza and 3 fish fingers along with two spoonsful of vanilla ice cream.  That's it.  I dislike it with a passion and it isn't a patch on food I can make.  I tend to make lots of portions and then freeze in individual containers - I rather like butter tubs like clover as they stack well.  One of the issues of my clean eating is that there won't be any more of those in the fridge as we only have real butter now - kerrygold as much as possible because that is the only brand that I know is from grass fed cows.

It is very useful to have these dishes when food is required after a long day at work. Tonight, for example, P and J had a two portion bolognaise I had frozen from left overs.  I had a jacket potato that had been cooked and frozen - three minutes in the microwave and it was done.  Served with tuna mayo (no, I don't make my own mayo).  V took care of herself - i think she had left over party sausage rolls with the smiley faces that I don't have to own up to as they are gone now (and she bought them, in any case).

This mum certainly doesn't go here


That's right - Iceland!  Doesn't look that icy does it?

i have been fiddling around with the blog, so presentation may change as I learn.  Bear with me.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Baking days!

As a lecturer my time is reasonably flexible.  I work a 0.8 contract which gives me a day off a week.  I like it to be a Friday if possible, but this week there is a "three line whip" meeting on Friday so i had today instead.

In reducing the sugar in our household, I still have to be mindful of the teenagers - particularly the 15 year old, strapping 6' male one who has hollow legs and to whom this is all a bit of a shock.  I have said that they can buy anything themselves - after all, I can't really stop them, but i will not bring fizzy drinks, crappy cereals or commercially baked products or sweets into the house.  There are also no more flavoured crisps, though I do buy ready salted (ingredients: potatoes, oil, salt.  I know the veg oil isn't great healthwise but they eat one pack a day - at most), and there are no more flavoured yogurts - I buy full fat greek and will mix in some flavours for when J wants a yogurt.  V isn't too fussed on such things and is leaving for uni soon anyway.  Today's flavour is apple and blackberry as we went blackberrying at the weekend and i made some.  The apple and blackberry "jollop" is sweetened with agave syrup.  Again, I know that agave isn't great but i bought some before I had fully researched and need to use it up.  After it's gone, I will just use Xylitol.

The rest of the "jollop" has been frozen for future use.


Next I made some raw "naked" bars.  Recipe courtesy of "Mrs Lurcherwalker" from the Oldstyle Forum from Moneysaving Expert.com - thanks Mrs LW, they are sublime

4.8 oz pitted dried dates
2.9 oz raw cashew nuts (pieces are fine)
1.7 oz seedless raisins / dried cherries
0.6 oz cocoa powder
2 teaspoons honey

Blitz ingredients together in a food processor.  When they have "come together" remove and shape by hand into a sausage shape, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.  Cut a slice off when it's, in the words of Winnie the Pooh "time for something sweet".

I didn't have enough  cashews, so I used 2 oz almonds and 1 oz dessicated coconut.



Then came apple and cinnamon bars - the recipe came from the internet somewhere, I hope it's OK to reproduce

Ingredients

8oz pecans
6 oz rolled oats
8 oz pitted and halved dates
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz chopped eating apples

Instructions

Preheat an oven to 180 degrees c7
Line a baking sheet with parchment, and spread the pecans and oats out on it in a single flat layer.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until toasted and fragrant.
Keep the oven at 180 degreesC.  Line an 8" squae pan or a 12 x 5.5" pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the sides so the finished bars can be lifted.
Place the toasted nuts and oats in a food processor along with the dates, cinnamon and salt.  Process until the mixture is coarse and crumbly, with no large pieces remaining.  Add the chopped apple and pulse in until there are no chunks left.  Continue to process until everything starts to clump together, using a spatula if necessary to move things round.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and, using a spatula smooth over the top carefully.

Bake the bars in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Cool for 10-15 mins and then slice into bars.  Once completely cool, lift out of the pan and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Except I used walnuts instead of pecans (really must update my stocks) and I soaked the dates for a short time as last time I made it, it was rather dry.




I made some chocolate crispy cakes after that

1oz sugar - i used 3/4oz xylitol
1 tbsp syrup (I used agave syrup)
2oz butter
1 oz cocoa or very dark chocolate

Melt all together in a pan or microwave and then add

4oz rice crispies

Spoon into cake cases and chill

these haven't held together very well, though they taste OK.  I am guessing the agave isn't as effective as golden syrup.  I also used a mix of cocoa and dark chocolate, so might be better with all chocolate.

So that has replenished the baked goods stocks somewhat.  Some of the apple and cinnamon bars have gone in the freezer as the teenagers are unlikely to eat too many of those - too healthy, they said. P and I find them great with a chunk of cheddar!






I also have a sourdough starter on the go.  I have never made one before but so far it's looking as it should be for day 2.



 Image courtesy of http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337 from where I got the recipe

I know the sourdough will be made from wheat flour, but I am doing this as a trial to see if a traditionally made loaf, even with wheat, will be better than the shop bought "Chorleywood process" bread.  And, in any case, I am about 95% wheat and sugar free so will allow myself some occasionally.

Afterwards, a quick trip into town saw me at the market where they were selling berries - a punnet of strawberries, 2 of raspberries and 1 of blueberries cost under £3.  So when I got home I treated myself to a bowl.


 YUM!