Katsu Curry

I remember my first visit to Wagamama’s in Soho c. 1994. In the days before the internet with online reviews, its credentials were confirmed by the queue on the wooden stairs that descended in to the bright basement. “Have you been here before”, was our brisk greeting as we were seated at a long bench in the starkly decorated, minimalist restaurant. Dining elbow to elbow with strangers to eat Japanese food was a relatively new concept, and an exciting/eccentric/weird experience for a Belfast teenager.

Fast forward nearly thirty years, and my love for this Japanese fast food restaurant that serves fresh, tasty, decently priced dishes has not wained. There are now 130 Wagamama’s in the UK, with two near me in Belfast. My kids are equally taken by Waga’s – including the fussy eater (halleluja) – whose go to on the menu is the chicken katsu curry. (It could be worth mentioning that the word wagamama (わがまま) is Japanese for “self-indulgent”, “self-centred”, “disobedient”, or “wilful” and is most often translated by the brand as naughty child).

The Kastu Curry is Wagamama’s most popular dish, and was bought 2.5 million times last year. If you ever sit near the service point it is hard not to notice the stream of Katsus being ferried out to diners. There’s even a mini kids version which comes complete with shredded carrot and cucumber, keeping parents happy that they’re getting their veggies.

You’d think that it would be hard to replicate at home. The rice and chicken component can be very simple – use ready cooked packet rice and shop bought breaded chicken fillets. Of course you can prepare these from scratch yourself using basmati or jasmine rice and bread-crumbing/crushed corn-flaking chicken breasts.

It is also possible to buy Katsu curry sauce in a jar, however this homemade adapted from the original Wagamama recipe is far superior.

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Soften the garlic, onion and ginger in the oil over a medium heat. Add the turmeric and curry powder, stir for about a minute. Add the flour, mix for another minute. Add the chicken stock a splash at a time, stirring to make the sauce. When all the chicken stock has been added, stir in the coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar. Allow to bubble for a few minutes, then blend with a stick blender (or whizz up in a foddering processor, I use my Nutribullet).

The original recipe says to sieve the sauce rather than blending to make it smooth, but it seems such a shame to remove the awesome goodness and flavour of the onions, ginger and garlic. Sure, it’s a diversion from the original recipe, but very much in keeping with the “naughty child” ethos of the Wagamama name, ha ha!

Also, by keeping the onions and garlic, as well as the turmeric and curry spices you will be making your gut microbiome very happy 🙂 and that’s a very good thing.

Flaxseed Bread

MIMG_0498.JPGy middle daughter, Evie (7), has serious issues with gluten (and oats!). She’s tested negative for coeliac disease, but if she has even a small amount food of bread, cake or pasta she will be doubled up in pain a few hours later. As for many people with gut issues, stress and worry are also a major factor in making the problem worse. She desperately misses London since we had to move to N. Ireland 8 months ago: our
house, her school, her friends, and most of all her Dad who still lives there.

It’s lucky that I’m a dietitian, as I’m well used to managing patients with coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, but practically it can be tough to avoid gluten. Birthday parties are notoriously difficult to negotiate (what kid can’t resist a tiny bit of cake!). The availability of gluten free foods is a million times better than 10 years ago, but they can be expensive and often loaded with sugar. I like making as much of my family’s food as possible, and this bread is fab for her……….the flaxseed is brilliant for gut health and constipation, and the eggs and almonds provide terrific sources of protein. And very importantly, it’s so easy.

If you are watching your carbohydrate intake, needing gluten free, or simply want a highly nutritious healthy bread, then I highly recommend this very easy ecipe. For anyone who has tried Irish wheaten bread, this has a very similar texture.IMG_0861.JPG

Flaxseeds for dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and omega-3 healthy fats. Almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high quality protein, fiber, and phytosterols. Eggs are a very good source of high quality protein, vitamin B2, selenium, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

There is about 1000 kcal, 54g protein, 5g carbs in the whole loaf. So if you cut 6 slices, that’s about 170kcal per slice.

Ingredients: 

Ground flaxseed – 1 cup

Ground almonds – 1/2 cup

Eggs – 4

Baking powder – 1 teaspoon

Method:

1) Beat together eggs & 3 tablespoons of water

2) Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl: 1 cup ground flaxseedUnknown copy 9, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 cup ground almonds

3) Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix well. Put in a loaf tin, cook for 20 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Seriously Healthy Pancakes (2 ingredients)

It’s Shrove Tuesday, yay for pancakes! But do they seem like a chore to make? Would you like a super speedy, easy AND healthy pancake recipe??

This pancake mix takes about 1 minute to prepare using a banana and 2 eggs. It’s ready to cook immediately! They are awesome with a big dollop of greek yogurt and some warm berries……I use frozen berries that have been blasted in the microwave to defrost 🙂

The pancakes mix is easier to make with a blender – just blast all the ingredients together,  but it can also be done with a fork.

Ripe bananas

1 Ripe banana

2 Eggs

2 Eggs – high protein

  1. Mash the banana very well – the more ripe the banana the easier this is
  2. Crack in two eggs and mix with a fork. (You can also do this in a blender).
  3. Optional: add in a handful of oats to increase the carbohydrate and fibre for sustained energy.
  4. Pour some mixture in to a lightly greased frying pan (ideally a non-stick one), allow to cook on a medium heat for a minute or two. You’ll see little bubbles appearing, take a peak underneath to see if it turning brown. Flip over and cook the other side.

Extras: a simple drizzle of honey/maple syrup, or greek yogurt topped with berries.

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Take to work or school (pic courtesy of my sis!)

 

Tip: if you are watching your weight, studies show eating eggs for breakfast can help. Eggs seem to help you to feel full up for longer and keep your blood sugar levels steady.

 

Wee Bytes – Ready Brek

Ready Brek – it’s such a kiddie food, surely no self respecting grown up would be eating
this for breakfast?! And isn’t it loaded with sugar?

Well you could be missing out…….this is pretty great stuff, and doesn’t deserve to be tarred with the same brush as other sugary breakfast cereals.

Ready Brek is simply ground up oats with vitamins added (there is no added sugar). The ingredients are: Wholegrain Rolled Oats (60%), Wholegrain Oat Flour (38%), Calcium, Niacin, Iron, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B6, Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12. Add some milk, and you’ve a wonderful combination of carbohydrate, protein, soluble fibre and all those lovely vits and minerals.

Two ways with Ready Brek:

In a bowl: Put a mug full of milk in a bowl, microwave for about 90 seconds, or until boiling. Sprinkle in the Ready Brek and mix until you get your desired consistency. Tasty extras to add:

  • cinnamon
  • raisins
  • chopped banana
  • a scoop of protein powder
  • a teaspoon of cocoa powder
  • an egg – yes really, crack one in and mix well while the RB is piping hot

Add more milk if it’s too hot or you like it extra milky.

Smoothie: Blend together 200-300ml milk, 1 banana or some berries, 1/2-1 mugful of Ready Brek, drizzle of honey. Quantities of ingredients depends on how hungry you are, or how hard you training. I came up with this smoothie idea for one of my little GB gymnasts who was struggling with fatigue due to training coming up to the World Championships…… they got a Gold by the way 🙂

Perfect for sport

Because the oats are ground up, Ready Brek is easily and quickly digested, therefore brilliant to have 1 hour before an intentse training session e.g. a swim, run or bike; or after for recovery refuelling.

Before a 6am run or swim, I usually have a ripe banana and milky coffee, and then have a Ready Brek Smoothie as soon as I get home. I need very quick recovery food otherwise I feel very tired later in the afternoon.

 

 

low sugar biscuits

Hob Nobby Biscuits (low sugar)

Here is a recipe for biscuits that are low sugar, high in fibre and very importantly: high in taste and crumbliness! The original recipe is one from my Mum’s very old and battered ‘Belfast Cookery Book’. I’ve simply replaced half the sugar for desiccated coconut. If you compare these biscuits to HobNobs (an oaty biscuit you can buy in the UK) they are 60% lower in sugar.

They are very popular with my kids, and popular with me because I don’t have the ‘mummy guilt’ about them having a biscuit with too much sugar.

Ingredients:

4oz butter/margarine

1 oz caster sugar

1oz desiccated coconut

2oz plain flour

5oz porridge oats

Method:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together
  • Add the dry ingredients
  • Roll in to a ball. Flour a surface and your hands.
  • Roll out the dough to biscuit thickness with a rolling pin
  • Cut out biscuit shapes.
  • Put on baking tray, and put in oven (180 c) for approx 20 minutes or until starting to turn crisp and golden.

 

 

Easy Peasy Healthy Ice-cream

 

 

Like most of the recipes on this website, I use this one a lot, and it definitely lives up to the Fast Fit Food ethos. It uses 3 of the basic ingredients that I always have a stock of: natural yogurt, frozen berries and bananas. It is perfect as a pudding or as a snack, and it’s one of the recipes I give to my athletes for pre or post workout as it contains great amounts of protein and carbohydrates.

Benefits: yogurt provides good bacteria for the digestion as well as calcium and protein,   the berries and banana provides fibre; potassium and healthy carbohydrates from the bananas, antioxidants from the berries…..I could go on! 

I try to use nice ripe bananas – they are sweeter and easier to digest that greener ones. If you can buy yellow ones with brown specks, or allow them to ripen in the fruit bowl, then there is no need to add any extra sweetness e.g. from honey.

The type of natural yogurt you use is up to you: I usually use full fat for my kids as it gives a thicker creamier texture. If you are watching your weight, then use a low fat natural yogurt which usually Unknown-10276994has about half the calories. Contrary to popular belief, low fat natural (plain) yogurt does not have any added sugar or sweetness. If you are trying to increase protein in your diet, then go for Total which have twice the amount of protein as standard natural yogurts. Liberte has the advantage of having some fruit added, without too much sugar. All of them have the healthy bacteria!

If you are lactose intolerant, simply swap the natural yogurt for lactose free yogurt. Vegan? then go for soya or coconut yogurt.

Healthy, easy ‘ice-cream’images-3

Ingredients:

  • 500g pot of natural yogurt
  • 2 frozen ripe bananas (peel before freezing)
  • handful of frozen IMG_0905berries/any frozen fruit

 

Method:

  1. images-3Chuck the ingredients in to a blender and whizz up until smooth.
  2. To make more ice-creamy, you can put the mixture back in to the freezer for a few hours, then give it a good stir before serving.

 

One Pot Chicken Chorizo Jambalaya

Who likes mess and lots of washing up? Not me!

Who likes tasty food? Me!IMG_0881

I love this meal because it has minimal faff and hassle: everything is chucked in to my lovely big Le Cruset pot that sits permanently on the stove. It has the perfect combination of carbohydrates from the rice, protein from the chicken and chorizo, with the tomatoes, onion, pepper and garlic providing super healthy phytonutrients. The original recipe used Cajun spice mix which in the words of my 3 year old is “a little bit spicy”, so I’ve adapted it to use smoked paprika, which provides a warming barbeque flavour. Unknown-1

For my wee people, I’ve renamed it ‘Barbeque Rice Treasure Hunt’. I know, I know. I don’t like pandering too much to this type of nonsense, but anything for an easier life. They’ve to find the chunks of chicken/chorizo in the rice. Also for a less stressful mealtime, I grate the onion as my eldest won’t eat chunks of the stuff. Sigh, raised eyebrow*

Did you know? One of the fabulous things about onion and garlic is that they are wonderful ‘foods’ for the healthy bacteria in your gut, helping to ensure they flourish. Healthy gut bacteria are very important for good digestion and your immune system.

Watching your weight or for extra nutrition oomph? Leave out the chorizo as it’s high in fat and usually has nitrates (not very healthy at all); add extra chicken, some prawns, extra vegetables, e.g grated carrot, red pepper, spinach, or another tin of tomatoes.

 

Ingredients:IMG_0895

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 onion, diced or grated
  • 1 red pepper, chopped in to cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 75g chorizo sausage, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp smoked paprika or Cajun spice mix
  • 250g long grain rice
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 350ml chicken stock

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or casserole dish with a lid. Brown the chicken for a few mins.
  2. Tip in the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft.
  3. Add the pepper, garlic, chorizo and smoked paprika. Cook for 5 mins more.
  4. Add the uncooked rice.
  5. Add the tomatoes and stock.
  6. Cover and simmer for 20-25 mins until the rice is tender. Add more chicken stock if it gets a bit too dry.

My favourite thing is when I let it ‘catch’ on the bottom of the saucepan, allowing it to crisp up a bit/caramelise.