Google+ Forget dieting forever: 2016

If you love cooking and experimenting with new recipes - you've come to the right place! Not only do we have delicious recipes - we also share our SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS story.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

EASY SUMMER SALAD

TOMATO, ONION AND FETA SALADIf you can chop vegetables you can make this EASY SUMMER SALAD in no time at all.  It's tasty, cheap and colourful…  as well as cheerful.
If you have time why not try this simple dressing, otherwise pick up a ready made dressing.
We love summer tomatoes as they are so juicy and flavoursome, plus they are quite cheap compared to the rest of the year when they are out of season.
The basic salad is tomato and red onion.  We chose to add FETA CHEESE which is also inexpensive, but use your own favourite cheese! Omit the cheese and you have a great side salad that will go with many dishes, especially spicy ones.
The onions took the longest - as we soaked them for 10 minutes while we prepared the rest of the ingredients.
Serve with some crusty bread and you have a very easy, simple summer salad.

TOMATO AND ONION SALAD
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 large tomato per person
Large red (or white) onion
For the dressing:
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
half teaspoon mustard
sugar or honey (add to your preferred taste)
chopped fresh herbs such as basil and oregano (or dried provencal herbs)
salt/pepper
*
***
Slice the tomatoes and onion very thinly. We used a mandolin for our wafer thin onion slices.

Place the sliced onions into cold water for around 10 minutes, remove and pat dry.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together (double up on the quantity if you think you'll be using this again soon). Use whatever herbs you have - either dried or fresh. We used fresh basil and dried oregano today.  We love oregano for its sweetness, and if we usually have this dried herb to hand.

Arrange the tomatoes on a plate and top with the onions. Drizzle with the dressing and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes. 
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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

EASY PASTA DISH FOR ONE OR MORE

If you are looking for a quick and easy, colourful STUFFED PASTA dish for one - why not try this recipe.

Stuffed pasta shells
STUFFED PASTA SHELLSThe whole dish took around 15 minutes to make, and I thought the end result looked good enough to perhaps serve as a starter (2 or 3 conchiglie per person maybe with a bit of green salad on the side). I was very full after eating my way through 57 grams of dried pasta (around 8 pasta pieces).

The ingredients (serves 1):
35g grated cheese (I used Cheddar and Gruyere, but you could buy the ready grated mozzarella and Cheddar if you like
3 whole tomatoes chopped into dice
one whole garlic clove
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
small handful of spinach
1/4 bell pepper if you have one, finely chopped
spoonful of tomato puree
fresh basil
a good sprinkle of dried oregano if you have any (it's lovely and sweet)
salt & pepper
dried chilli flakes if you like a bit of heat as I do
and probably the most difficult item to source - large dried conchiglie pasta. I scoured the supermarkets nearby and eventually found mine in Waitrose.


Put the pasta into boiled water and while it's cooking, make the filling.
Begin by sautéing the chopped onion and pepper. Fry until soft then add the chilli flakes if using along with the minced garlic clove. Tip this mixture into a small saucepan with the chopped tomatoes, herbs, tomato puree, salt and pepper. If you want to you can deglaze the frying pan with a splash of red or white wine. If you don't do this then add a bit of water to the mixture. Simmer the filling for 5 minutes until slightly reduced. Add the handful of spinach and let that wilt down for a minute or two.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly while you drain the cooked pasta. Season pasta with salt and pepper before adding the filling.  Put a little grated cheese in the bottom of each shell (helps the sauce stick), then spoon in the tomato and spinach filling. Finish with grated cheese and put under a grill until it melts.

You could add some chopped cooked chicken, ham, mushrooms etc to the filling as this is a very versatile recipe.


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Cornish sole - MEGRIM - a budget sustainable fish

Megrim Cornish Sole
Pan fried MEGRIM CORNISH SOLE. Until now we had never heard of this fish. We saw the fish in the supermarket and as we chatted the woman on the fish counter came over to us and relayed her enthusiasm.
We love fish in general so heeded her advice on how to cook the fish. She said to cook simply, eat off the bone and we will not be disappointed. She said the fish was underrated and all we had to do was cook for 4 minutes each side on a medium heat.
She was right. Off home - with a medley of vegetables to accompany the fish. We couldn't agree more!
The fish was extremely delicate and tasty and at a bargain price compared to  dover or lemon sole. If you like either of these fish you will love this too, as well its price (think bargain basement).
Here it is in all its glory. It really did take just a four minutes to pan fry each side. And… we will be having it again. Some things are so nice to discover - and this is one of them. This type of dish helps us keep the weight off even though its pan fried in butter and oil, with a little squeeze of lemon juice.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Using up fresh herbs

If you are fed up wasting fresh herbs, here is a very simple and easy way of putting them to good use! Fresh herbs can make all the difference to many recipes, although they can be expensive and quite often you will have some left over. Today we made this very refreshing and flavour intensive BASIL OIL. It certainly put a smile on our mozzarella salad.
We made the oil by blanching the basil leaves in boiling water, then dropping into cold water. Dry the leaves with kitchen paper and add to the blender with oil. We used approximately 50ml of olive oil to a bunch of ready cut supermarket basil. Once blended, pour contents through a sieve. Keep the oil in the fridge.
We can't wait to use it on poached eggs with fresh asparagus next time.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

CALORIES IN SALMON EN CROUTE

Salmon en croute insieCreamy salmon en croute is possibly something of an unlikely choice for a diet but there are ways to enjoy this without depriving yourself.
We found the preparation a little time consuming but not at all difficult. The result was an attractive dish that would adorn any dinner party table.
A quick search of shop bought varieties gave us an indication of just how much (or little) salmon is used in this dish; salmon content was around 25-30% of the total dish.
Salmon is approximately 2 calories per gram and quite filling and we opted for 90g of salmon per person (180 calories each).
We lowered calories in two ways:
1. Use one pastry shell to cover two portions of salmon rather than wrap individual portions with pastry. Sharing one large dish saves calories.
2. Roll the pastry thinly.
We used just one quarter of the puff pastry pack (125g) which was ample for two servings.
Most recipes suggest using a 500g block of puff pastry for 6 individual servings (that's 83g of pastry per portion). We used 62.5g of pastry per serving - a saving of 75 calories each.
Give your salmon en croute a bit of a kick if you like by marinating the salmon in chilli pesto mixed with a little lemon juice and olive oil.
The pastry puffed up quite nicely and had a lovely flaky texture and not a soggy bottom in sight. Each portion of salmon en croute finally worked out somewhere around 500 calories, with more salmon (protein is filling) and less pastry than shop bought. This is what we prefer. Serve the dish with salad at little extra cost in calories.


SALMON EN CROUTE 
Serves 2
Ingredients
180g salmon fillet
50g frozen spinach (or double the amount fresh and wilted down)
60g cream cheese
just a spoonful of breadcrumbs (to help soak up the liquid and help stop soggy base)
125g puff pastry
beaten egg
Chilli pesto (or your preferred pesto - there are many varieties)
Olive oil 
Lemon juice
Salt/pepper
Greaseproof paper
*
Heat the oven to 200ºC.
Put the baking tray into the oven while heating. Ideally use two baking trays together to hold the heat. The reason for this is to cook the pastry base as quickly as possible to avoid it going soggy.

Slice the salmon fillet horizontally and (OPTIONAL) marinate in your chosen pesto mixed with olive oil and lemon juice. You don't have to marinate but do season with salt and pepper before placing in parcel.

Mix the cream cheese with defrosted spinach. Just remember to squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach. Add pepper. Put in the fridge to allow the flavours to develop and the cream cheese to firm up again.

Roll pastry base about an inch bigger than the salmon. 

Place the pastry base onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Place the first half of the seasoned salmon onto the pastry base. 

Spoon over half the spinach mixture.

Top with salmon and cover with rest of spinach mix. 

Roll out pastry topping. Brush base of pastry edges with beaten egg. Press pastry together. Make a couple of slits in the top to allow steam to escape then brush with beaten egg.

Carefully transfer the greaseproof paper and contents onto the HOT baking tray.

Bake for  15 - 20 minutes. We checked after 15 minutes and found the pastry was not browned enough so went the full 20 minutes. The salmon was still very moist and not overcooked.

*




Saturday, 27 February 2016

Light and crispy spring rolls


Vietnamese spring roll
Here's what you can do with 54p of bean sprouts, Vietnamese rice paper and leftover veg. We added a little leftover chicken to ours too. The result was a very crunchy and light version of the usual Chinese spring roll and we loved the lightness of this starter.
We were going to buy Filo pastry until we found the rice paper in the cupboard. A quick look on the internet made us wonder if we could use this type of rice paper for frying, as its generally used for steaming.
Our experiment worked well and much much better than anticipated.
We used a double layer of rice paper the result was a crunchy outer layer and a chewy inner layer which was very enjoyable. We will be making them again!
Interestingly, although we weren't looking for gluten free products, we thought all rice paper would be gluten free naturally. To our surprise this wasn't always the case as some also contained wheat - so do check the labels if that's your requirement.
To make 5 extra large spring rolls (10 cm long/4cm diameter - similar to the size in a chip shop) you can cut corners and buy a ready made stir fry mix. We just happened to have some savoy cabbage (10g sliced - couple of leaves), carrot (1), spring onions (2) and mange tout (10). All we had to buy was a pack of bean sprouts and you will only need to use 60g. We thinly sliced everything and added some leftover cooked chicken. This was marinated in a teaspoon of five spice powder, a tablespoon of hoy sin sauce, 3 teaspoons of soy sauce and an inch of grated ginger. We made 5 large spring rolls to enable us to experiment with various coatings e.g. egg and breadcrumb or batter if necessary. As it turned out, au naturelle worked exceeding well and after tasting the first one, we had no desire to experiment further. One is enough to satisfy as a starter (as in the picture), it was very filling and extremely more-ish. OK we did share the initial sample. The remainder are in the fridge to see how they behave overnight.
Down to calories - if these were steamed they would be no more than 100 calories each. Even fried, they didn't seem to soak up the oil and were very light and crispy. As a starter we suspect these will be under 200 calories each - that's not bad in our opinion.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

CAN'T GET CLOTHES TO FIT

So you think you've put on weight? You are out shopping for clothes and nothing fits? It can be a nightmare finding clothing in your size but (as I've recently discovered) especially for us girls with larger or smaller busts than erm 'average'. Trying on, breathing and squeezing in, may provide you with a good workout - but how may times have you left the store without any purchases and a lot of frustration?
It appears I am a different size in most stores generally and I've got used to it being that way, but more importantly I realise I am not a standard size anywhere because my bust, or should I say 'cup size' in particular is out of proportion to the rest of my body. If the dress fits on top the bottom is too baggy and so on…
One solution could be to make my own clothes, time consuming I know but I've soon realised even this  idea is not particularly straightforward.
I was comforted by this 1930s 'Practical Paper Pattern' found in a charity shop.
The woman who owned this dressmaking pattern seems to have experienced the same sizing problems we still find today, despite being able to choose patterns in a particular bust size.
I love the way she has written 'cut wider' and 'waist and hips too narrow'. Sadly the pattern was never cut out, perhaps she was too daunted at the thought of altering it?After some research I discovered (to my joy...) there was perhaps an answer to why clothing doesn't fit: apparently all dressmaking patterns are designed for a 'B' Cup. I wonder if most clothing manufacturers do the same? Quite often for me a close fitting dress requires upsizing which doesn't do a lot for moral, and when the bust fits the rest of the dress doesn't.

Now my blog post wouldn't be complete without some talk of food. Today I'm making a LEEK & POTATO SOUP. If you have a moment it really is so simple to make. If pushed for time, use frozen leeks!

I'm going to use my usual recipe which I've linked to, although today I'll be adding a large spoonful of cream at the end and a topping of fresh croutons! Just a touch of luxury and a bit of extra filling.
Soup is often low in calories and not filling enough, leaving you open to hunger later.
If you are thinking of buying cast iron cooking pots for use on the hob and in the oven, I have to say they are fabulous to cook with.
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