Herb tofu and avocado toast

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Don’t make this recipe. I mean it. By the time you’ve diced the veg, torn up the herbs and pulsed the tofu it’ll be all over. Seriously it’s not even worth preparing, you’ll have no gossip for your friends (or the odd frenemy) about how you were slaving in the kitchen to make this masterpiece.

There’ll be no excuse for you to break out into a tragically unbelievable anecdote about how you saved the ingredients at the last minute from the perils of a fancifully complicated yet apparently incomplete recipe, which had been slowly guiding you over a cliff (and your ingredients in the bin!). Using your sheer instincts (in my case since I lack skill/experience) you add a special ingredient or tweak the recipe which pulls everything together to once again save the tastebuds of the people of Townsville from evil. Oh what we aren’t in a cartoon? *Yeah I watched the ‘Powerpuff Girls’ as a kid*.

I don’t know about you, but I love being the hero. Cooking gets a bit boring (and difficult) and even though there are much better experienced and qualified people around me, I hate to ask for help. I’m trying to use this blog to develop and modify recipes for simplicity and taste while shedding as many excess kilojoules as I can from them. I think thats what this recipe is. I got It from Donna Hay’s ‘Fresh and Light’ book. 

Now that I’ve tasted it I’m going to consider some balsamic over the top next time. It tastes great btw! The lime juice is a must and works majestically with the chilli.

Ingredients

150g silken tofu (I used to other kind and it turned out okay)

mint and basil leaves about 1 Cup each (crush/tear/shred after measuring not before, that would be way too much!)

Heavy multi-grain bread (I didn’t have any, so I’ve used white bread. Also I have braces at the moment, grains and braces don’t get along well!)

1 avocado

cherry tomatoes (I diced a whole tomato. I wish I had a packed of medley cherry toms!)

lime juice

1 long red chilli (deseeded) cut into thin long strips. You could use carrot instead, if you don’t like chilli. (I’ve used chilli powder instead)

Method

Blend tofu and half the herbs with some pepper in a food processor. 

spread mix over toast. 

Build with avocado, tomato, and remaining herbs. Top with juice and chilli/carrot.

Until next time 

Jack

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

 

Two quick foods

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Tired? Stressed? Have a good old sammich (as my great grand-mother used to call sandwiches). Why? because as boring and un-cool as they are- (lacking the sexy-ness of a teriyaki-marinated chicken sourdough), sandwiches are a great go to food. You can put nearly anything on them and if you don’t pile them with meat and cheese they can be low-calorie.as well as filling. I like alfalfa sprouts but you have to be careful because they spoil easily. Also on this sammich is carrot, cheese, toms, and yummy meat-free veggie sausages packed with protein. I find they’re a filling afternoon snack; cut into quarters and share- afternoon tea style. 

Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Instead of reaching for a cuppa-soup*. Try something blended but still easy to prepare. If you like fruits with your milk for a twist try frozen bananas and mango with 10 mint leaves and a fibre mix (such as chia seeds, psyllium husk, and/or LSA).

I usually use only 1/2 a Cup of skim milk. You need to add just enough so that the blender doesn’t get stuck, it’s a fine balance! There is so little milk because it will achieve the best consistency, not because I dislike dairy (because dairy is great). After blending the mix is like icy soft serve, it reminds be of a luscious ice cream full of sugar, but this probably has less than half the calories and won’t leave your throat sticky and burning. 

You’ll be surprised that no honey is needed. You can get away with less sugar in cold things, especially with fruits which have natural sugars. Just remember that this type of smoothie contains foods rather than liquids so it can be quite dense. A serve would be a standard glass of 250ml.

* (I’ll admit they have their place and can be handy especially for dieters)

Until next time 

Jack

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

PIZZA Made Better

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IMG_1581 Cabanossi, capsicum, feta, corn, pumpkin

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Yes. Healthier pizza. But lets be clear….

I’ve left out the unimportant kilojoule calculations. Pizza is fun and was invented to be enjoyed (right?). I had a great time cooking these with friends, and that IS important.

yesterday’s teaser about healthy pizza was captivating but when you stop and actually think about eating the ‘healthy’ option, you would soon find no resemblance to real PIZZA. I’ve tried to find an acceptable middle ground.

Having fun with cooking, and having a supportive, happy environment can really take the pressure off thinking and worrying about food. Being in the moment, rather than worrying about the bigger picture all at once can also make the insurmountable achievable. *Enough philosophising*.

My Tips:

  • Don’t deprive yourself.
  • Less than 1/3 Cup cheese per pizza
  • Limit processed meats such as cabanossi and ham. Give each slice a taste, learn to appreciate that flavour as something special. After all, these may not be sweet but they are treats.
  • Lots of veggies, maybe 2 or 3 varieties per pizza: corn, pineapple, capsicum, rocket etc.
  • Be careful with the tomato base. It can really add kilojoules as it’s sweetened with sugar
  • Choose thinner bases. Less bread = More Crispy! (oh and also Less kilojoules)
  • Serve two slices and no more. Know your limit and stick to it.
  • Try having water before or after your meal.
  • Made a small side salad, it can go further than you think in creating those happy feelings of fullness.
  • Don’t be scared of tinned vegetables, just give them a rinse to remove excess salt.

Until next time

Jack

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

 

 

 

Lemon polenta cake

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Serves 16. Energy: 723kJ (1460kJ /100g), Total fat: 13.1g (26.5g /100g), Saturated Fat: 4.2g (8.5g /100g), Sugar: 7g (14.2g /100g), Sodium: 97mg (197mg /100g).

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This is a yummy tangy delight! Its gluten free too, which is good for anyone with intolerance or coeliac disease. 

I got this recipe from mum (I hope I don’t have to pay royalties if you’re reading this mum).

With less sugar and butter than the original, this cake has been modified to have fewer calorie. I want all the recipes that I promote to be enjoyed by all. With such high rates of obesity world wide, I reckon everyone should be doing there bit and eating as best they can. At the same time I don’t think that means people need to eat like robots. Food is special and should be enjoyed. needless to say, it’s a complicated issue. 

Of course even with those modifications a small piece (as pictured) will still be around 723 Kj. This might be okay for some people and not for others, all depending on the way you eat and what else you may have snacked on through the day. 

Personally I don’t find this very filling and will soon be reaching for something else. That something else is probably fruit, because as my best friend says “I’m disgustingly healthy”. Back to you now; if you want to still enjoy this lemon polenta cake but would like even fewer calories you could try using sweetener such as stevia for the syrup instead of sugar. 

Because the butter has been cut the cake is a bit dry so I suggest you serve with a large tablespoon of low fat natural yoghurt (as I did) , for some brands this would add only 50 Kj. Either that or a large cuppa.

Overall I’m happy with this one. There are further modifications that I would like to try next time to add moisture, perhaps an oil over butter? Also I’d like to work out a way to make the top nice and brown how we expect it to look, again the butter problem!

Until next time

Jack

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

Ingredients

For the cake

100 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)

50 grams caster sugar

sweetener (as desired)

200 grams ground almonds

100 grams fine polenta (or cornmeal)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (gluten free if required)

3 large eggs
zest of 2 lemons (save juice for syrup)

For the syrup

juice of 2 lemons

50 grams icing sugar

Method

Line the base of a 23cm / 9inch springform cake tin with baking paper. (although I just used a square pan)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped.

Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs.

Beat in the lemon zest and pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.

Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a smallish saucepan.

Once the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, you’re done.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.

Lower Energy BIG brekkie – scrambled eggs, sausage and cooked tomato.

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I love this brekkie! Its quick easy and filling. Cooked tomatoes might have some people turn away either for the taste/texture or for diminished nutrition, but I love it and thats what matters.

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In terms of nutrition, sure some of the nutritive value will be lost, but that doesnt mean that these tomatoes don’t have anything to give. Ultimately its important to eat food that YOU enjoy, prepared the way that YOU like it. 

 

This is why dieting is so hard, people think that they must obey the food gods who whisper gospel into their sleeping doctor or dietitians ear. But this isn’t my idea of dieting at all, its not even about food really. If you can look at your lifestyle and feel good, knowing that your keeping your body in check then good. If not then a dietitian or psychologist will work with you on lifestyle factors and the way you live to match this with foods relevant and healthy to you. So food doesn’t really come into it until the end, once all the other work is done, for me its really the boring bit which should come easily when a person has accepted a new way of life without abandoning who they are. 

 

What does dieting mean to you?

 

Ingredients

2 large or 3 small tomatoes

2 Vegie sausage

4 slices of heavy multigrain grain bread

2 eggs

1/4 Cup skim milk

Herbs and spices (I used oregano, sage, and paprika)

 

 

Method

In a bowl add eggs, then milk and whisk. Add herbs and spices/

Heat a pan then spray cooking spray for 3 seconds. Add egg mix. Stir to prevent sticking. 

Once eggs are cooked set aside and using the same pan brown the sausages (cut lengthways) and tomato (very thickly sliced).

Assemble on toast and garnish.

*Serves 2 * 

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Until next time 

Jack

 

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

Palak Paneer

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Coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, chilli; as the intense aroma of curry paste filled the house they came running! Well not quite, but honestly the beautiful smell that comes from this paste needs to be experienced by everyone. It’s life changing! This curry, like most, is all about aroma. You aren’t constrained by the ingredients list, with a little care, palak paneer can be taken down any number of avenues. It can be spicy or mild, packed with fat or full of veggies, its a white canvass that needs no improvement. For this reason I attempted a palak paneer with a healthy spin.

This variation has been designed for both weight-loss and muscle-gain diets. It is also ideal for those seeking a diet low in nutritional factors contributing to cardiovascular risk. This includes low saturated fat, adequate fibre, lower sodium, and includes vegetables2. I was able to decrease total energy3 by 42%, decrease fat* from 13g to 4g (saturated2 from 10.4g to 2.1g), and decrease salt2 from 265mg to 163mg. Fibre and protein content was increased2. I would like to note that for muscle gain this meal is really only appropriate as a protein-loading entree and would need to be adapted if consumed as a main due to extra energy requirements.

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The first and most obvious step for me was to completely remove the ghee. Now, I know you’re thinking, ‘you can’t just remove the fat, that’s what mixes the flavours and intensifies the curry. It holds everything together!’. This is what my friend, Karina told me. At first I was concerned, but there was no need to be. Let me tell you that it DID work out perfectly, the dish was delicious, aromatic, and unforgettable. Frying the onion and paste without ghee was a little difficult, and I recommend a non-stick pan. The onion in particular was tricky but with LOW heat and a spray of olive oil, it can be achieved! If you’re scared about the onion browning try adding the fluid part of the paste, it helped quite a lot. Precious calories were also saved using a creamy evaporated milk or even skim milk in place of pouring cream.

Salt had to go. Not only is salt a cardiovascular disease risk factor but may dehydrate you, giving a sluggish feeling which may just be the trigger to give the gym a miss. If you still made it to the gym you might not reach your full potential due to dehydration and tiredness. By radically reducing the amount of paneer (to 70g) fat and sodium content are markedly reduced. It’s a high protein cheese, so it gets us part of the way to our goal. While the original recipe called for 200g of paneer, I needed to bulk up my version with a disproportionate amount of chicken, tofu, and paneer (now sitting at 370g compared to 200g paneer). By adding chicken (200g) and tofu (100g) the paneer’s fat and sodium content is diluted, while protein is gained. Protein is great for feeling full, and for re-fueling after (or before) the gym.

There’s nearly nothing negative to be said about this recipe! Mum didn’t like that I prepared it with chicken and tofu, but still enjoyed it. Its fun to prepared, tasty to eat and filling. Everybody enjoyed it, so I think this one will become a favorite.

Until next time!

Jack

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1. The original recipe http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/palak-paneer-0 (my recipe coming soon)

2. Reddy, K.S. and Katan, M.B.. (2004). Diet, nutrition, and the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Public Health Nutrition. 7 (1A), 167-186.

3. Lovett, G. (2004) MenuCoster [website]. Available at http://www.menucoster.com.au (Accessed 17 August 2013).

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

Don’t Hate Me

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http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/25056/gulab+jamun

Imagine the worst thing you can eat, now double it. That is what I thought would happen when I prepared Gulab Jamun, an indian dessert. I remember having it when I was a kid, we had an Indian friend and were visiting him in Melbourne and he made it on our last night there. It was lovely! Soft, moist, squishy, and bursting with sugar. Basically deep-fried cake which has been soaked in rose sugar-water. Seriously what ten year old wouldn’t love that!

Now lets jump forward 12 years. I have this great assessment to do and what better way to prepare a dessert than to revisit my childhood! The brief is to use an unfamiliar cooking method and while this doesn’t exclude non-core foods I did some research to see how this delicious dessert compared. I found that in fact Gulab Jamun has 1228* Kj (per 100g) which is less than chocolate (2206 Kj^) and mud cake (1415 – 2124Kj#). This was super surprising and interesting to think that my perception of a foods energy content was exacerbated to heights seen only from the window seat of a jumbo jet.

gulab jamun

I realised that most non-core foods we eat have been packaged up without a hint of the way they have been cooked or processed. Think of chocolates, lollies, and ice-cream, colourful packets and even brighter food! This buries the thoughts of sugar and fat (aka inherent ‘evil’) to the back of our minds. Even pre-made cake mixes can hide their sugar in bags of chocolate-coloured goodness. For gulab Jamun sugar and oil are unavoidable fact, maybe all foods should be made this way, making us more accountable! This was very apparent as followed the very first step; to combine the 2 cups of sugar with water and spice. As well as thinking “I’m gonna pay for this during my next workout”, it was also an odd concept for me. I thought It would be like cooking caramel which I did in cooking class at school, but this was miles from that. Most of us melt sugar into our tea and coffee and this was just like that but on a larger scale. One point of frustration was that the recipe calls for milk powder. Who uses milk powder any more? AND you can only buy 1 kg bags! This was definitely a weakness of the recipe.

The part that I was not looking forward to was the job of deep frying. I have never cooked with lots of oil before. I anticipated the oil spitting out at me because that’s what my cooking-buddy said happened to her while cooking chicken; super-annoying. I was pleasantly surprised about the lack of pain, finding that the oil doesn’t need to be super hot which is great (no spitting). Controlling the temperature of the oil was like patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time; taking several batches before I was able to cook the middle through. In hindsight I should have bought a thermometer, as the recipe gives a temperature for the oil (170 oC). While the recipe calls for a large pan, we would definitely go for a deep pot/pan with a smaller base. This would allow the oil to completely surround the Gulab Jamun, lessening the need for continual stirring and achieving even cooking.

I was anticipating efforts of a herculean proportion would be required, that this was the type of cooking that would have left me victim to my at-times-tyrannical behaviour. That I would be left sobbing silently and alone in the corner. But alas, no! I’m going to say that this one was 7/10 for success. We found that the middles were cooked but tough, and think that this could be because the dough may have been over worked. So not quite as I remember them, but edible!

Until next time!

Jack

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* The left over sugar-water component (50%) and left over oil component (67%) being accounted for and removed from the nutritional analysis.

NUTTAB 2010 ID: __02E10420 to ID: __02E10428

^ NUTTAB 2010 ID: __12C10352

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime