4 minute Crispy Tortilla Pizza

Being a bit of a foodie, but short on time, I love to find something new to feed the family.

I would love to be more organised with food shopping, but am usually juggling dietetic clients, lecturing (that’s teaching actual real-life university students, not giving my own 3 children the third degree, although I also do that most of the time), looking after said children and generally running the house.

It was 2.55pm, I had been at my laptop most of the day writing patient reports, and I had to pick my the children up from school at 3.15. No snacks of any use in the house to satisfy ravenous little people’s large appetites. All I could muster was some frozen tortilla wraps, a near empty jar of pesto and some cheddar cheese.

Sometimes the best results come from these moments of desperation. Like when you have to panic buy a top to wear from the supermarket (for whatever reason), and it becomes a favourite that lasts for years.

Child and adult friendly, these tortilla pizzas are fabulous as a snack, in a lunch box or on a picnic. These are very adaptable so you can add or subtract ingredients (although keeping the wraps is kind of fundamental to the whole operation).
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I find that with fewer ingredients the filling of the ‘pizza sandwich’ is less likely to fall out while walking. If we’re at home or if it’s in the lunch boxes, I might add grated carrot, ham or tuna. Experiment to your heart’s content!016417

Ingredients:

  • 2 tortilla wraps
  • tablespoon of pesto or ready made tomato sauce e.g. Dolmio
  • Fillings of your choice (optional)
  • grated cheese

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Method:

  1. Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan, allow to heat up on a fairly high heat.
  2. Add one tortilla wrap to the pan, spread on the pesto/tomato sauce.IMG_0886
  3. Sprinkle on the cheese and other fillings.
  4. Add the top tortilla.
  5. When the bottom tortilla is browning and a bit crispy, carefully flip the tortilla sandwich over with a spatula
  6. Cook for two minutes on the other side.

The cheese will have melted and the wraps should be nice and crispy. Chop in to quarters or sixths. Can be eaten hot or cold.

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.

Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake

On Friday, we had two of my children’s friends over to play after school. So with five little, but very hungry mouths to feed, I needed to produce something quick, easy and a lot
of it! When I suggested told my crew that they were having pasta bake, they were a bit “meh”, as I serve this up once a week. But our 7 year old and 4 year old guests were delighted (my children: take note of their beautiful manners) and everyone devoured second/third helpings. These simple things in life, like a stress free dinner and happy, full up children make me very happy!

Pasta Bake

This is a easy combo of pasta, sauce and tuna. Pasta is a fabulous source of energy for growing and hungry children; tuna for protein and cheese sauce for extra energy and calcium. I make the white sauce from scratch – but it is a very easy method that doesn’t involve making a roux (and the potential for lumps).

Here are 5 ways you can add extra health oomph:

  1. tinned salmon/poached fresh salmon/smoked salmon for healthy omega 3 fats – anti inflammatory, beneficial for brain, heart and eye health
  2. add in some vegetables e.g. sweetcorn, peas, steamed broccoli
  3. use a tomato sauce instead of the white sauce – lowers the fat and calorie
  4. gluten free pasta and flour – for those following a low FODMAP diet, or with gluten intolerance/coeliac disease
  5. high fibre pasta – most people don’t get enough fibre which is important for digestive health and is more filling than white pasta

 

Ingredients (serves 4-5)IMG_0864

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • about 500ml milk
  • about 250ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • handful of grated cheese
  • Pasta shapes, about 500g dried (a whole bag) – cooked
  • 2 tins of tuna, drained

Method:

  1. In a sauce pan, put the butter, flour and milk.
  2. Whisk so that the flour dissolves in to the milk
  3. Over a medium heat, allow this to heat so the butter melts. As the mixture heats up, make sure you keep mixing. It will thicken as it gets towards boiling point. Keep stirring. Stir, stir, stir. Turn the heat down as it thickens. Keep stirring.
  4. When it has thickened, add the stock and cheese.
  5. Add the tuna, and extra veg e.g. sweetcorn/peas etc.
  6. Put the cooked pasta in a dish and pour over the sauce
  7. Grate some bread to make bread crumbs, sprinkle over pasta
  8. Sprinkle on some grated cheese
  9. Grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese and make the breadcrumbs crispy. Watch carefully as it can burn quite quickly!

Oaty Banana and Date Cookies

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Crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle, with a lovely sweetness from the bananas and dates. These healthy no added sugar cookies are chocca block full of fibre, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium.

Many of my dietetic clients and friends ask me about fruit being full of sugar and therefore being ‘bad for you’. Yes, fruit is sweet, but the sweetness comes from ‘intrinsic sugars’ which the body processes and responds to differently to the sugar found in biscuits, cakes, sweets and fruit juice (extrinsic sugar). Whole fruit is a wonderful source of essential vitamins, minerals and phyto chemicals that are very nourishing for the body. The fibre is also important for the digestive system – not only does fruit keep things ‘moving’ along, it also maintains a healthy micro biome (the beneficial gut bacteria).

 

Ingredients:

2 large ripe bananas

½ cup datesIMG_0866.JPG

¼ cup vegetable oil or coconut oil

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups of oats

small handful raisins or dark

chocolate chips
 

Method:

  1. In a food processor, put the bananas, dates, coconut oil, cinnamon and baking powder and whizz up until smooth.
  2. Mix in the oats and raisins/dark choc chips with a spoon.
  3. Spoon generous dollops (about 2 tablespoons) on to a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Gentle press down so thy splodge out a bit.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes at 170c.
  5. Remove from the hot baking tray and let cool on a cooling rack (no one likes a soggy bottom!)

 

Chilli Con Carne

This chilli recipe works really well for the whole family. Fabulous for protein and iron from the beef mince, lycopene from tomatoes, vitamin C from red peppers, fibre in all the veg…..the list of health benefits could go on.

I’ll make it without the chilli powder for the kids and call it “Children’s Chilli”. It still images-3.jpegretains the chilli flavour with cumin and paprika but without the heat form the chilli powder. When they’ve been served up, I’ll add the chilli for the adults. It’s perfect with a variety of optional extras: rice, jacket potato, tacos, coleslaw, sour cream or grated cheese.

Watching your weight?

You can swap beef mince for turkey mince, cut right back on the rice (or skip the rice altogether) and images-2serve with coleslaw, salad or any other veg you fancy. Filling a few big iceberg lettuce leaves with the chilli and coleslaw is quite delicious. Aim to fill at least half your plate with veg/salad, and about 1/4-1/3 of the plate with the chilli.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lean minced beefphoto-5
  • 1 beef stock cube in 300ml boiling water
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • boiled rice or Tacos

 

  1. In a pan, heat the oil, add the onions and cook over a medium heat until soft
  2. Add the garlic, red pepper, chilli powder, paprika and cumin. Cook on low for a few minutes.
  3. Turn up the heat and add the minced beef, stirring and prodding for about 5 minutes to break up the mince.
  4. Pour in the beef stock
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, kidney beans and sugar
  6. Squirt in the tomato purée and stir well.
  7. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring to stop the chilli ‘catching on the bottom.
  8. Turn off the heat for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to develop and to cool down.

 

Easy Pad Thai (that beats Wagamama’s)

My (older) sis came to visit us today. It’s her birthday next week, so we took her to Japanese restaurant Wagamama’s for lunch. The three children had chicken katsu curry (loved the kiddies chop sticks!), and sis and I had pad thai.

Now I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but this home made version of Pad Thai is better. It is an adaptation of a much more complex recipe, for my own lazy time-strapped and health conscious purposes. I reduced the peanut butter and sugar, added vegetables  – spring onions and red pepper, and some lime juice for more zing (and vitamin C!). It can also be adapted for anyone with digestive issues (see below for how)

 

Easy Pad Thai

SAUCE:

2 cloves garlic crushed, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar/white wine vinegar

PAD THAI:
2 rice noodle nests
3 chopped spring onions, 1 chopped red pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2 chicken breast, cubed

handful of bean sprouts

Method:

  1. Whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. Cook noodles according to package direction. Rinse and set aside.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium heat and add some oil.
  4. Add chopped chicken breast, spring onions and red pepper. Cook until chicken has browned and cooked through.
  5. Push the chicken and veg over to one side of the pan and pour the beaten egg into the pan in the space you’ve created and use your cooking spatula to scramble the egg.
  6. Add the noodles to the pan and then pour the sauce over the noodles.
  7. Reduce the heat a little and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. The noodles soak up the sauce and it will thicken.
  8. Stir the bean sprouts in once everything has thickened and remove from heat.

 

For anyone who suffers with bloating, IBS or digestive conditions, e.g. Crohn’s or colitis, to make it Low FODMAP swap garlic for garlic infused oil (available in all supermarkets), only use he green part of the spring onions, and use Sainsbury’s own brand chicken stock (it has no garlic or onion)cee3d442a251da650bdbe6e7bacad71a.jpg

Super Healthy Flapjacks – no butter or sugar

It can be frustratingly difficult to find a healthy flapjack recipe that isn’t loaded with butter, sugar or syrup. If you would rather not load up on these ingredients, here is an alternative recipe to try.

Here’s why they are so great:

  • Super quick to prepare the mixture
  • No sugar, syrup or butter.
  • Ripe bananas and raisins add the sweetness.
  • If you feel the need for some extra sweetness, you can some honey, but you really don’t need too much.
  • Oats provide soluble fibre to keep you feeling full up, reduce cholesterol, keep your digestive system healthy and blood sugar levels steady.
  • Berries/Raisins are choca-block full of antioxidants and fabulous phytochemicals
  • Seeds/peanut butter are full of protein and healthy fats.

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Top tip 1 For a seriously healthy and delicious Bircher Muesli breakfast, keep a few tablespoons of the pre cooked mixture in a bowl overnight in the fridge. In the morning, loosen with more milk.

 

Top tip 2 Did you know that the chunkier the oat the slower it is digested and will keep you full up for longer?

 

Basic Flapjack Ingredients  (makes about 9): each provides 90 calories, 1.5g fat, 15g carbohydrate, 3g protein

150ml milk – or a milk alternative e.g. soya, almond, rice milk etc.

2 mashed bananas – the riper the better as sweeter and easier to mash

150g porridge oats (about 2 handfuls)

 

Ideas for optional extras:

  • a handful of whole/chopped/ground up sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
  • a tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • a handful raisins or cranberries
  • a few tablespoons of dessicated coconut
  • 1 cup frozen berries (defrosted)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed with a little extra milk (very good for constipation!)
  • For extra protein e.g. as post exercise snack, you can add a scoop of protein powder

 

Mix all the ingredients together. Put in to cake tin lined with greaseproof paper, or silicone bun cases. You can also make them in to cookies by placing the mixture in cookie shaped blobs on the greaseproof paper.

It can sometimes be a bit tricky to peel the greaseproof paper off, so you can grease the paper first with some oil.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 170 degrees C. Or until they are browning and you can smell the lovely aroma……..this is my method to check for readiness as I usually forget to look at the time I put them in! Enjoy playing around with variations of ingredients 🙂

 If you like these, you’ll also LOVE Seriously Healthy Pancakes (2 ingredients), and Low Sugar Biscuits