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.

 

 

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Dressing Up – 5 ways to add oomph to veg

A good dressing can transform a plate of salad or vegetables in to something quite spectacular. We all know that we should eat more veg as they have been shown beyond doubt that they are very, very good for us. Why vegetables are fab:

  1. Add amazing colours and textures to your plate
  2. Prevention of chronic health conditions  (heart, diabetes, strokes, obesity, cancer)
  3. Low in calories, you can eat LOADS
  4. Fibre prevents constipation
  5. Encourage the good bacteria in your gut
  6. Vitamins & minerals are needed by your body’s millions of metabolic processes
  7. There is a huge variety so you never need to get bored
  8. Vegetables can taste really good…………….

If you feel that veg can get a little dull, or need some extra oomph, here are 5 very simple dressings to turn a plate of the good stuff in to something pleasurable and delicious.

A big benefit of adding a dressing is that the oil helps with the absorption of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, therefore need fat for our bodies to absorb them. As for most things in life, don’t over do it with the dressing, use it to complement the salad or veg rather than drowning your plate in it. Unknown-1  

You don’t need any special equipment. Inspired by Jamie Oliver, I use an old jam jar……just put all the ingredients in the jar and shake well.

Extra virgin olive oils are a bit like wine as they can vary dramatically in taste, depending upon the type and quality of the fruit that is pressed, the time of harvest, the weather during the growing season, and the region from which the olives were produced. If you are feeling adventurous and budget allows, experiment! If you find the taste of extra virgin oil too strong, you can use olive oil instead. I prefer a ‘tangy’ dressing, so usually add more vinegar/lemon juice.  

Classic 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons of white or red wine vinegarimages-4 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil pinch of salt, pepper  

Lemon 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil juice of 1 lemontumblr_nb0yhi3gkn1tpkb57o1_500 pinch of salt, pepper  

Balsamic 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Pinch of salt, pepper  

Creamy 6 tablespoons natural yogurtimages 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil pinch of salt, pepper  

Thai 4 tablespoons lime juice 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 1 tablespoon soy sauceimages-1 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated/finely chopped 1/2 clove garlic, crushed/finely chopped

10 ‘all you can eat’ foods

Are you trying to eat healthily, but sometimes feel deprived and hungry? Bored with your food? Struggling to think of healthy meals and snacks?

If you want to lose weight, aid recovery from exercise, sleep better, have more energy, look fabulous, and most importantly FEEL FABULOUS eat these 10 foods in abundance, and then have some more! They are amazing power houses of nutrition with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, and low in calories. If there is one thing you do today (and for the rest of your life), eat these at breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between!

  1. Mushrooms – 1 large: 3kcal. Yes, you read correctly. Only 3 calories in one big mushroom! Choc a block with B vitamins and selenium, which are important for the digestion, hormones, skin, nervous system and red blood cells.
  2. Red Onions – 1 whole big onion: 60kcal. The humble onion, is without question one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. High in compounds such as quercertin, onions are good for muscle repair, skin health, and prevention of heart disease, cancer & diabetes.
  3. Broccoli – 1 cup: 30 kcal. Full of manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and vitamins A, C and K. One serving has 150% of your daily vitamin C requirement (helping to absorb the iron), 270% of your vitamin K and surprisingly, nearly 5g of protein!
  4. Red Pepper – 1 medium: 30 kcal. The deep, vivid colour gives a clue to the impressive nutrition credentials of the red pepper. With more vitamin C than an orange and one third of the calories, eaten raw or cooked, this is an easy addition to jazz up any dish.
  5. Spinach – a whole bag (100g): 23 kcal. Spinach is a true superfood of the vegetable world with more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. Vitamin K, calcium and magnesium work synergistically for bone health.
  6. Kale – half a bag (100g): 50 kcal – Kale provides a powerhouse of goodness that can be enhanced by steaming for 5 minutes. Kale is outstanding for antioxidants, anti inflammatory compounds and cancer preventing nutrients. Wonderful with garlic and a sprinkle of soy sauce.
  7. Red cabbage – 1 cup: 30 kcal The rich color of red cabbage reflects it concentration of anthocyanin, which is an antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory. Emerging evidence suggests that anthocyanins may provide cancer protection, improve brain function and promote heart health.
  8. Carrots – 1 large: 40 kcal. Carrots are a staple British veg. Carotenoids, essential for good vision, can be made more bioavailable by lightly steaming the carrots. Many people prefer the sweeter taste and texture of lightly steamed or boiled.
  9. Beetroot – 1 medium sized: 35 kcal – Both the bitter leaves (exceptional for calcium, vitamins A & C, and folate) and the sweet beetroot can be eaten. Betacyanin provides the intense deep purple colour, glutamine is essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract, while nitrate has been found to lower blood pressure and enables athletes to exercise for up to 16% longer.
  10. Tomatoes – a punnet of cherry tomatoes: 70 kcal (4 kcal each). It does not matter how you eat tomatoes, as all forms are low in carbohydrates and packed with vital nutrients such as lycopene (more easily absorbed if tomato is cooked), vitamin C and E, iron, potassium and fiber. Eat tomatoes as often as you wish!

So you treat yourself to a MASSIVE plate of food, safe in the knowledge that your indulgence is providing very few calories AND an awesome amount of nutrients. Have with some lean protein e.g. chicken, salmon, lentils, eggs, and healthy fats to make a superfood meal. If you’ve been exercising or will be working out in the next few hours, add in some wholesome carbohydrate. Preparing these doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some snack/recipe ideas that can be ready in minutes:

  • green smoothie: did you know that you can adding leafy green veg to smoothies is possible? For a breakfast veg hit, in a blender whizz up 200ml water/milk, a ripe banana, tablespoon peanut butter and a large handful of spinach.
  • snack on red peppers – keep it simple, chop and eat raw and crunchy with a tablespoon of humus
  • lightly steam carrots in the microwave to keep essential nutrients (put in a bowl or mug with a little hot water and cover). Benefits of cooking veg in the microwave
  • For breakfast: an omelette made with stir fried sliced red onion and spinach with 3 beaten eggs
  • stir fry kale, red peppers, red onions and mushrooms with a little olive oil, garlic, ginger and soy sauce.
  • For a healthier coleslaw, finely chop or grate cabbage, a carrot, slice some radishes, spring onion and a half handful of coriander, add bit of lime juice and half a squeezed orange. The orange and carrots give it sweetness.
  • Super Boost Carrot & Red Cabbage Salad
  • Tomato & Lentil Soup
  • Happy Carrots
  • Superfood Salad

Coleslaw

We all know that we need to be upping our veg intake, ideally aiming for about half of your plate. If time isn’t on your side, it can seem easier to grab a ready prepared ‘salad’ from the shops e.g. Coleslaw. Here’s one from my local supermarket that is mostly cabbage and oil, with only 14% carrot.

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Cabbage (47%), Rapeseed Oil, Carrot (14%), Water, Double Cream (Cows’ Milk) (3%), Sugar, Onion (2%), Pasteurised Barn Egg, Spirit Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, Salt, Stabilisers: Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum; Acidity Regulator: Sodium Acetate; Mustard Seed.

 

Having grown up on my granny’s homemade coleslaw (usually served with lasagne and garlic bread!) to me, the shop bought stuff is massively inferior with an overrepresentation of cabbage. These days, I’ve adapted The Granny’s recipe to make it a bit healthier…………..the dressing is made with light mayonnaise or humous, natural yoghurt and a splash of vinegar.

When I need something incredibly quick, this is an easy way to get a super serving of veg. I’ll have it with some pumpkin/sunflower seeds (good fats) and for protein I add a few spoonfuls of left over chilli, or a tin of tuna.

Here’s the recipe, it literally takes about 2 minutes:

about 1/4 white or red cabbage grated

image

Coleslaw – lovely colours!

2 grated carrots

1 tablespoon light mayonnaise/humus

1 tablespoon natural yogurt

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (optional)

No nonsense. Just mix it all together.

Veggie Spaghetti – with £3.29 gadget!

Julieene Peeler, £3.99 Lakeland

Julieene Peeler, £3.29 Lakeland

Do you struggle to eat more vegetables?

Need fresh and inspiring ideas?

Are you watching your weight, or need to lose a few pounds?

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Spiraliser (£30 Amazon)

I very rarely recommend a gadget, but yesterday I was inspired by an article and recipe in this month’s Red Magazine, which used a gadget called a ‘spiraliser’ (£30 from Amazon).  It allows you to transform a healthy, low-calorie, low-carb vegetable into a giant bowl of pasta! Nutritious, filling and very, very easy. After a bit of online research, I was able to come up with a cheaper alternative to the Amazon Spiriliser…….a julienne peeler (£3.29 from Lakeland). We are lucky enough to have a Lakeland store here in Kingston, so after dropping the eldest two children at school this morning, the Little Man and I high tailed it to purchase the peeler.

Courgette, carrot and garlic

Courgette, carrot and garlic

Lunchtime saw a quick experiment with the new gadget. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical that the veggies would taste any different to simply chopping or grating. Just a few minutes of ‘julienning’ a carrot and a courgette, tossed in a pan with olive oil, some garlic and a tin of tuna produced a most awesomely delicious lunch for the two of us (I added some left over rice to Little Man’s to bump up the carbs and cals for him). The carrot and courgette had the most fabulous texture, a little al dente and juicy!

Result! in just 5 minutes

Result! in just 5 minutes

For anyone in to calorie counting, here is a comparison. One courgette julienned producing a big bowl of courgette noodles: 30 kcal. One bowl of spaghetti: 220kcal! And I can honestly say that, to me, it tastes miles better than standard pasta or noodles.

I’ll be testing the new spaghetti veg on the girls this evening. I predict it will be a big hit with them too!

A big hit with Little Man

Slurping up the courgette spaghetti!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 x Avocado-tastic!

I had the pleasure and luxury of pootling through Kingston Market this morning by myself. I don’t usually take the time to slow down and browse, so was delighted to come across 4 avocados, lovely and ripe, for £1.

Although very high in calories, avocados are little nutrition bombs with a multitude of health benefits:

  • monounsaturated fats which have heart health credentials (lower the bad blood cholesterol, raise the good)
  • Fats enhance absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K
  • Fats and fibre good for appetite control
  • High in vitamin E, A and B vits
  • Twice the potassium of a banana
  • Anti inflammatory compounds – may be protective against cancer
  • Very low in sugar
  • people who regularly eat avocado are more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI and waist circumference

So what the heck will I do with 4 ripe avocados?

  1. Green Smoothie Breakfast – blend 200ml water, 1/2 avocado, a kiwi, a handful of greens e.g. spinach or watercress, juice of half a lime, some ginger, and a tablespoon of Total greek yogurt (high in protein).
  2. Simply sliced and piled on wholemeal toast with some salt and pepper
  3. In Superfood Salad
  4. Mashed as a substitute for mayonnaise
  5. Freeze the rest! Best results if they are pureed with some lemon or lime juice and stored in an air tight container.

Apparently, avocados are also good for the wrinkles…….definitely something I need then (I think I have aged about 10 years in the last two). In fact, scrap the recipes I’ll be slapping this stuff straight on to my face!

Happy Carrots

The name alone makes me love this. It’s also very easy to make which makes me happy.

Happy Carrots

Happy Carrots

Why it’s happy: protein from the quinoa and seeds; antioxidants from the carrots, mint and coriander; essential fatty acids from the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a little bit of sweetness from the sultanas.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sultanas (soak in hot water for 5 mins to plump up)

3 chopped spring onions

3 grated carrots

handful coriander leaves, chopped

small handful mint leaves, chopped

handful toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds

a few tablespoons cooked quinoa/rice (optional)

dressing: 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 chopped garlic cloves (or teaspoon of the garlic in a tube). Make more dressing, if you like it more dressingy.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients together and add when about to serve.