Serves 1 – 2
Yet again in my house it’s time to start properly meal-planning and using up some of those ingredients in the freezer drawer – this occurs maybe 3 times a year and encourages me to get creative with store-cupboard/fridge/freezer ingredients and look up recipes online or in my many, dusty, mostly unused cook books! Quite often these are some of my tastiest creations and I feel inspired to get creative in the kitchen again – for a little while anyway!
I had some whole frozen trout lurking in my middle drawer and so, using a recipe found online and adapting it a little for frozen herbs I had in storage, I got all chef-y and made myself some protein-dense, low-in-saturated-fats baked trout for tea!
Trout is one of those magical ‘oily’ fish we hear so much about – rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids which have been found to have heart healthy properties such as decreasing triglyceride levels in the blood, slowing the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaques and lowering blood pressure. They have also been shown to improve the risk factors and heart health of those people who have already suffered from heart attacks or stroke.
I’d recommend serving this, as I did, with a fresh salsa made from a mixture of chopped herbs and salad ingredients. I used cucumber, tomatoes, sugar-snap peas, mangetout, radishes, celery, broccoli, green and black olives, coriander and parsley and a light dressing of white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. The whole meal around 500 kcal. You could also add some delicious lightly buttered new potatoes or roasties too.
1 whole trout, gutted and cleaned out
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
1tbsp. fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. paprika
½ lemon, sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil or olive oil based frying spray
½ tsp. salt
1-2 cups white wine, for cooking (top up during cooking if needed – not you, the fish!!!)
Preheat the oven to 240C / 475F / Gas Mark 9 (very hot).
- Finely chop the herbs and mix in a bowl with the minced garlic and paprika.
- Stuff the trout with 2/3 of the herb and garlic mixture.
- Place the lemon slices inside the trout on top of the herbs.
- Put the olive or spray oil in your hand and rub both sides of the fish with it, then rub the salt into the skin.
- Top the fish with the remaining herbs and garlic and squeeze any remaining lemon juice onto the fish too.
- Place the fish, herb-side up, on a raised slatted tray (I used the tray from my grill pan) over a deep baking tray. Pour the wine into the bottom of the baking tray.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the skin of the trout is crisped up nicely.
Per Whole Trout (oven-baked with olive oil)*
Energy 287 kcal / 1200 kJ
Total sugar 0.3g
The above nutritional information is assuming that you used olive oil to bake the fish with. If you use spray oil you will save approximately 70 kcal / 293 kJ, 8.0g fat and 1.2g saturated fat.
The aubergine is native to South and East Asia and is thought to have been introduced to the Mediterranean area by the Arabs or Africans in the middle ages. The first written record of it in England was in the 16th century when an English botany book of 1597 wrote “This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere… bringing forth fruit of the bigness of a great cucumber….”. I love that quote – cheeky!
There are a number of variants of aubergine; small, large, round, elongated ovoid, dark purple, pink, white, yellow, green, variegated colouring. The ones normally found in the UK and US are large, cucumber-sized elongated ovoid shaped, dark purple in colour although you can certainly find the small and round versions in South Asian supermarkets.
The flesh of an aubergine can be quite bitter so lends itself well to slow roasting and frying allowing the bitter starches to break down into sugars. The flesh can absorb a lot of oil during cooking – salting it can reduce the amount absorbed and draw out some of the moisture.
The aubergine is not especially high in any vitamins or minerals but is low in fat (when uncooked) and contains a decent amount of fibre and carbohydrate. It makes for a great meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan meals as its flesh has a good firm texture and it is fantastic in curries or stuffed for example with rice, nuts, vegetables, meat and herbs and spices.
In baba ganoush it is combined with tahini, a paste made of sesame seeds (which are a really good source of a variety of minerals: copper, manganese, calcium, phosphorous and fibre), which puts it in league with middle-eastern dips such as hummus as an amazing accompaniment to pitta bread or vegetable sticks as a healthy low in saturated fats snack. It goes great on the side of a middle-eastern or Greek style mezze with cous cous, tabbouleh or rice, salads, falafel, hummus, olives, etc. Perfect as part of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet.
4-6 aubergines (approximately 900g)
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 heaped tbsp. light tahini
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
Ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
Smoked paprika (optional garnish)
1 red onion, finely chopped
40 black olives, chopped
- Heat oven to 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2.
- Cut the top off the aubergines and slice them lengthways. Pour a little oil into your hands (from the 1-2 tbsp.) and massage it onto the skin side of each half aubergine. Do the same with the salt.
- Lay the aubergine halves skin side up onto a lightly greased baking tray and place in the oven. Bake for 40 mins – 1 hour, until the flesh is soft.
- Scoop the soft flesh of all aubergines out into a bowl. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, 2 tbsp. olive oil, ground cumin and black pepper to taste. Blend all ingredients together. I use a billy-whizz handheld blender for this – just make sure you have a deep enough bowl so it doesn’t splatter all over your kitchen and shirt-frontage!
- Serve in a bowl topped with the chopped parsley. Have the chopped red onions and black olives as an optional extra topping for people to add as they wish. Serve with toasted pitta bread.
per whole recipe (dip with parsley)
Energy 1105 kcal / 4623 kJ
Total sugar 18.8g
per serving (dip with parsley) – if serving 6
Energy 184 kcal / 770 kJ
Total sugar 3.1g
Black olives will add: 14 kcal / 59 kJ, Carbs – Trace, Fat – 1.5g, Protein – 0.1g, Fibre – 0.4g, Salt – 0.8g
Onions will add: 9 kcal / 38 kJ, Carbs – 2.0g, Fat – 0.1g, Protein – 0.3g, Fibre – 0.4g
I ate a lovely, warming, filling brunch of huevos rancheros (or mexican ranch-style beans) in a Chiquitos restaurant near the O2 in London recently. This was in preparation for my ascent to the top of the O2 – that’s right, you can climb it to a viewing
platform mountaineering style and get fab views of London City and the river on a clear day (we got lucky with the weather)! Awesome fun, and the breakfast set me up a treat!
I digress! This is my own home-cooked version that I have only just got round to making 2 weeks later because I’ve not had time to soak and boil my beans!
This is a well-balanced brekkie plate with plenty of fresh anti-oxidant-rich veggies for fibre and vitamins, black beans for muscle-building protein and a bit of a kick to wake you up for the day. Who said hot breakfasts had to be bland, unhealthy, stodgy and full of saturated fat?! Black beans are high in fibre (aids weight loss because it fills you up, and boosts the health of the gut), low in fat, and contain a decent amount of iron (important for building red blood cells and preventing anaemia), folate (important for red blood cells and transport of oxygen to the muscles and prevents spina bifida in unborn children), magnesium and potassium.
If you have to get the dried black beans that need soaking I would recommend preparing more than you need as you can always freeze them once cooked for easy use at a later date.
400g black beans, cooked (use canned pinto beans, drained, if you cannot find black beans)
200ml vegetable or chicken broth, made with ½ a 10g stock cube
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 large red onion, chopped (185g)
1 large red pepper, chopped (145g)
1 clove garlic, minced (4g)
1 can chopped tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped (400g)
1 can of sweetcorn kernels (160g)
1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh coriander or cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt, to taste
4 tortillas (40g each)
- Soak the black beans in cold water overnight (24 hours). Place in a large saucepan, cover with double the amount of water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and leave to cook for at least 2 hours or until the beans are softened but not breaking apart. Add more water if it starts to dry out. Drain and leave to cool.
- To make the salsa, stir the tomatoes, red onions, red pepper, sweetcorn, coriander or cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, minced garlic, and salt to taste, together in a bowl until well blended. Cover, and refrigerate until needed (at least 1 hour).
- Place the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook 1 minute until light brown. Mix in the black beans or drained pinto beans if using these instead, the broth and 1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper. Simmer until beans are heated through (about 5 minutes). Turn off heat, and keep warm.
- Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5. Place tortillas on a baking sheet with greaseproof paper underneath. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until warmed through and softened. Alternatively, heat in microwave on full power for 30 – 45 seconds.
- Poach or scramble the eggs and cook to desired firmness.
- To assemble huevos rancheros, place a tortilla on each plate. Top each tortilla with black bean mixture, a layer of salsa, and an egg (or ¼ of the scrambled eggs). Serve immediately.
– Add 1 inch of chorizo, chopped into small squares = additional 68 kcal / 285 kJ
For a main meal, per portion:
– Add 20g of grated cheddar cheese = additional 83kcal / 347 kJ
– 50g of shredded roast chicken (instead of the eggs) = 89 kcal / 372 kJ
– 50g of shredded roast pork (instead of the eggs) = 91 kcal / 381 kJ
– 50g of shredded roast beef (instead of the eggs) = additional 110 kcal / 460 kJ
per whole recipe
Energy 1495 kcal / 6255 kJ
Total sugar 53.3g
Salt 8.4g (check canned beans for added salt)
per serving (if serving 4)
Energy 374kcal / 1565 kJ
Total sugar 13.3g
Salt 2.1g (check canned beans for added salt)
The humble date often makes an appearance at Christmas – about the only time of year that you seem to be able to buy the gorgeous, sticky, squidgy Medjool style date, as opposed to the small, shrivelled, dry ones you are forced to be content with the rest of the year round!
Dates are a fruit in their own right, not the dried version of something else. Although higher in calories than most fresh fruits, they do also contain a fantastic range of nutritional benefits and so are definitely a good alternative to chocolate if you are craving something sweet this Christmas.
Fibre: dates are high in fibre which helps our digestive systems to function smoothly (pardon the pun!), prevents constipation, promotes gut health and also can help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
B Vitamins: Dates contain a good amount of niacin, riboflavin and folate. These are all part of the B Vitamin family which help to support a range of bodily functions.
Riboflavin (B2): supports the health of the nervous system and can help promote skin and eye health as well as helping our bodies to release the energy from carbohydrate.
Niacin (B3): helps to promote the health of the digestive and nervous systems
Folate: helps to support Vitamin B12 to promote the production and health of red blood cells, therefore supporting the transport of oxygen to the muscles and preventing fatigue. It is also a vital vitamin during pregnancy as it prevents conditions such as spina bifida from developing in newborns.
Iron: Dates contain a decent amount of iron; any foods containing iron are good to eat as this is one of the minerals that we can so easily become deficient in, especially if we do not eat meat. Iron helps to build red blood cells which carry oxygen to muscles as a source of energy. If we are deficient in iron we can develop anaemia, a symptom of which is extreme fatigue and lack of energy.
Calcium: Dates contain a small amount of calcium, which promotes bone health, growth and development and is involved in cardiac function, so can help to keep the heart strong and healthy.
HOW TO STUFF A DATE!
1. Slice the date down one side, being careful not to cut all the way through as you want to keep it whole.
2. Carefully remove the stone. A good treat here, as there is often some date flesh still on the stone – it’s chef’s perogative to suck the stones! Just as satisfying as licking the spoon!
3. Take one whole almond, pistachio, walnut half, cashew or a nut of your choosing and place this where the stone used to be. Alternatively, stuff the cavity with chopped nuts.
4. Roll the stuffed date in grated coconut or sprinkle some on top for a delicious treat and a beautiful festive, snowy look
5. Alternative stuffings are:
* cream cheese (low fat, if you want to keep it healthy)
* blue cheese
* thick, lowfat greek style yogurt and honey
* bacon, wrapped around the date like pigs-in-blankets (obviously the bacon needs to be cooked first)
per one date, stuffed with an almond and rolled in coconut (per one date stuffed with blue cheese)
If you love food and hate the idea of wasting anything then I am starting a series of ‘Waste Not Want Not’ blog posts, in honour of the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ national campaign to get people shopping and cooking smart to prevent food waste and save people money.
In the UK the average household throws away £480 of food waste per year (£680 for a family with 2 children) and almost half of this is estimated to be food that we could have eaten. The foods we waste the most are vegetables, fruit, drinks and bakery items such as bread and cakes. A lot of the wastage is down to either preparing too much food and having to throw it away or buying too much food in the first place.
The Love Food Hate Waste website has some brilliant ideas, including recipes and ways to store food better, to prevent waste and save us all money.
Here are my suggestions for something that tends to sit in the fridge for a long time in our house….the humble jar of mint sauce (please note, this is not the same as mint jelly – mint sauce is more of a vinegar-based dressing usually used with lamb).
1. Courgette and mint salad
- Trim the ends off 1 courgette and grate it lengthways into wide(ish) strips.
- Thinly slice 4 spring onions.
- Make a dressing out of 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 2-3 tsp. lemon juice (fresh or bottled), fresh black pepper and a tsp. of mint sauce.
- Mix courgette into the dressing.
- You could add bits of diced red pepper too.
2. Pea, Mint and Ham Soup
This is a recipe I have previously posted on Relish Health’s blog (September 2013)
3. Yogurt and mint dip
Mix 4 tbsps of low fat plain or greek yogurt with 1 tsp of mint sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice, ¼ – ½ tsp of ground chilli powder and a handful of coriander chopped fine.
Use this as a salad dressing for tinned chickpeas mixed up with diced spring onions, red pepper, and shredded roast chicken or as a dip for falafel or samosas. If you want to have a thinner sauce, blend – it will go a nice shade of green.
4. Mix 1/2 – 1 tsp. of mint sauce into a portion of fresh or frozen garden peas to serve as a side to your sunday roast.
5. Mix 1/2 – 1 tsp. of mint sauce with 1/2 – 1tsp of melted butter or olive-oil based spread. Dress some boiled new potatoes with this mixture and serve with your sunday roast or on the side of some baked or grilled white fish (haddock, cod, bass, bream, etc.)
This is, essentially, a plug of my breakfast from this morning but it was delicious, balanced and healthy fulfilling all major food groups! Figs are a really good source of fibre so great for lowering cholesterol and preventing constipation (sorry, perhaps not the best breakfast topic but an important one none-the-less!). They also contain a good amount of potassium which can help to keep the blood pressure normalised – potassium is found in most fruit and vegetables in varying quantities so if you’re eating your 5-a-day then you’re probably getting enough potassium.
If you can’t find fresh figs then you could use dried ones but the texture and flavour of fresh figs is definitely more subtle, sweet and fresh. If you wanted to substitute the cinnamon pancake for an American-style plain or lemon flavoured one that would work just as well or you could make your own thin (English or French-style) pancake. To keep the calories similar just make sure the weight of the pancake is no more than 65g and that you don’t use too much fat when cooking – 1 tsp. of oil or butter in a hot pan should do.
INGREDIENTS (per person)
1 american style cinnamon pancake (65g)
2 tbsps of reduced fat creme fraiche or low fat greek yogurt
2 sliced fresh figs
1-2 tsp. of flaked or chopped almonds (or about 6 whole)
1 tsp runny honey
pinch of ground cinnamon
There’s not much to it really!
* Lightly toast the pancake if you’ve bought a pre-prepared one (mine were from the Asda bakery counter, but any other brands would do or you could make your own – don’t use too much fat to cook them)
* Layer the creme fraiche or greek yogurt on top (mine was reduced fat creme fraiche at around 50kcal per 2 tbsps)
* Layer the sliced fresh figs in an attractive manner on top – or simply chuck them on! Fresh figs can be pricey but if you look out for them around autumn (fall) time then they are a bit cheaper – I got 4 for £1
* Throw the almonds over the figs, drizzle the honey on top and sprinkle the cinnamon over everything
* Serve and enjoy – mine was wolfed down in less than 2 minutes!
Energy 455 kcal / 1904 kJ