Garlic Chicken & Mushroom Pasta

This is a real tasty dish which is surprisingly good on the calories at approx 540 calories per person.  This may be because it’s not swimming in cream like I often find so many pasta dishes!  This recipe serves two adults.

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Ingredients:-

150g Wholewheat Spaghetti
1 tsp Fresh lemon zest plus half a lemon juice.
1 tbsp of Olive Oil
200g Chestnut Mushrooms sliced
4 Spring Onions sliced
2 Cloves of Garlic sliced
30g Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese grated
6 Sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
150g cooked chicken breast
Optional (2 tbsp) of single cream

Begin to cook your spaghetti as per the instructions.  In a large wok or frying pan place the olive oil, mushrooms, onions, garlic and cook for about 5 minutes on a low-medium heat.  Add in the cooked chicken breast, lemon zest and juice, 2/3rds of the Parmigiano cheese, a ladle full of water from the spaghetti which is cooking, and stir round to heat through and combine.  If using the cream add this now too.  Taste to see if you want to add any salt and pepper.

You can either add the spaghetti to the pan once it has cooked, or place the spaghetti in the dish and add the chicken and mushroom mixture on top.  I like to do the latter, as then you get more equal amounts of the chicken and mushroom mix.  I then combine the spaghetti and chicken and mushroom mix whilst in the bowl.  Then sprinkle over the remaining 1/3rd Parmigiano cheese over both bowls along with the flat leaf parsley.

 

 

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Portion Control

A major issue (in my eyes) concerning weight loss and health, is the subject of portion control. Once upon a time I was guilty of this. I mean why have a slice of cake, when you can have a dirty big wedge? Why have a scoop of mashed potato, when you can have something resembling a volcano on your plate? And why have a grating of cheese, when a slab is better on a cracker? When it came to portion control, I was ridiculously off the scale. Not only was I generous to myself, but to others including my family who were lured to my food. The problem was, that once I started my healthy eating regime and actually weighing stuff, my stomach and brain had some serious shrinkage to do.

As I discovered more on my journey, I realised I was not the only one with a warped sense of portion control. I would ask random people, what they thought a portion was, and they too were guilty as charged. In fact they were so shocked that one woman immediately went out and bought a set of scales. Like many others, she just went along with what her parents had put on her plate, and carried on the way she was brought up. Another startling fact was that many people felt they had to clear their dinner plates. This is another habit from their childhood. Phrases from their parents like  “don’t you leave any food on your plate or it will block my sink” and “you won’t get any after’s (dessert) unless you finish every mouthful.” It appears that many people were influenced by their parents.  The notion of stopping when they were full, did not come to mind.

One group of people who spring to my mind was the school dinner ladies.  My goodness, they were cracking cooks, and I shall fondly remember the Manchester Tart and custard, which was definitely adult sized portions than that for a child.  Was I going to complain? Was I heck as like! School dinners especially in primary school (before they were stopped) were so delicious.  I’ve always had a healthy appetite, and will pretty much eat anything.  So the generous school dinner lady portions of dinner were given a big thumbs up from me.  In fact, one lady was so wonderful that she would always give me a little bit more.  I liked her a lot!  The only time I wasn’t keen on the dinner ladies, was when we were given bottles of milk to drink with straws at morning break time.  It was full cream milk, and when the bottles were warm in the summer, I could positively feel my stomach lurching.  It is one food memory I would have happily had no portion of!

So what is a portion?  How do you know what amounts you should eat?  Most foods have a guideline on the packaging.  This gives you all the details such as what qualifies as a portion, along with calories, fats, sugars etc.  Not enough people pay attention to this.  However turning to portion control, I wanted to do an experiment.  Below is a photo of two bowls of shreddies.  The one on the left is how many people fill the bowl at 80g.  The one on the right is the correct 40g portion.IMG_1302.jpg

The next photo shows a 75g uncooked portion of whole-wheat pasta.  Most people eat double this amount.  Taking calories from what should be around 257 calories (75g) to 514 calories (150g).

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You can begin to see, that if we keep doubling up portions at each meal, how we can be overeating and soon have weight issues.  When on my “Health Is Your Wealth” eating regime, the first thing I suggest to people is to actually weigh out what they are eating.  This can be a real shock at first, but a real benefit as to how weight has been added without much thought.

I remember the first time I decided to weigh out guideline amounts of for food myself.  I must have spent ten minutes shaking the scales, hoping and praying that there was some mistake and fault with them.  There wasn’t.  The scales were accurate, it was my head not wanting to accept what a correct portion amount was, that was wrong.  Interestingly,  once my body adjusted to the proper portion amount, I no longer felt hungry.  Although at the beginning of my regime and exercising portion control, I could have easily snapped.  Willpower is vital, but if you crack it, you will feel the benefits.  It is all about removing the previous habits of portion size, and replacing those habits with your new lifestyle.  It isn’t easy, because over generous amounts seem to be woven into us.  I can only encourage you by saying that once you do get used to it, your body feels less burdened with the digestion of food, and you end up feeling more comfortable.

Most people are not good with portion control, when it comes to healthy stuff either.  They think 3 peas on a plate is a portion, and one sprig of broccoli is another.  I shall be looking at getting more than your 5 a day later on in this journey, but what is noted, is that we are more generous with naughty food than the truly good stuff.

Making sure you eat enough and don’t starve yourself is another subject.  People crash diet and this sends the body into chaos.  It doesn’t work long-term ladies and gents.  This is a whole subject of its own, which again, I shall be writing about very soon.  Your first goal at present, is to modify your current amounts of food you are eating.  So if say your cereal bowl is overflowing, start with altering that.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Win over small changes, and you are more likely to continue the plan and make other positive steps.

The information that you should look out for on the packaging is similar to below.  Some food companies are extremely good, and give even greater detail.  Make yourself familiar with these boxes of information.  Check the calorie content.  Even some healthy foods have a high calorie content, so it is then that you need to check how much saturated fats, and everything else there is.  Not all fats are bad, but this is another subject which will be covered in future.  It is about striking balances and making better choices for you and your body.

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When Junk Food Sprung Up

Junk food is practically everywhere.  Such is our appetite for fast food to go with our fast living, that it is rare now to find a location, that does not have a takeaway or fast food joint in it.

What is interesting was that growing up as a child in the 70’s, we would have the local chip shop and the odd Chinese takeaway business, but ready meals to buy in shops were so extortionate, that only the “well off” people could afford it.  Fast forward to today, and you now find the opposite.  Ready meals are geared towards those with a limited income, plus there are so many takeaway options which can be ordered from your sofa, without having to move a muscle.

There is no doubt in my mind, that this junk food explosion is going to have a damaging effect especially on this young generation.  Food laden with fats, sugars, salt and additives are like a killer cocktail, because people cannot seem to stop their constant desire for it.

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Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

So how do you stop this junk food epidemic?  The simple answer is,  with great difficulty.  The people I have helped have had one thing in common, and that is that they are addicted.  I have noticed with many of them, that their taste buds seem unable to pick up delicate flavours, and they seem only excited by bad ingredients.

The answer is a complicated one, which has had many a person scratching their heads for many years.  Is better education in schools the answer?  To some degree it is.  Although the lure of teenagers going with their mates to the burger bars is always going to be there.  Is taxing such establishments the answer?  I have found that if someone wants to eat it, then they will find the money to buy it no matter what.  What about the traffic light and calorie info on foods?  Yes it is useful to the people who understand it, but to many it still appears confusing.  Plus some just don’t care.  They could have a set of red traffic lights and warnings, and still eat it no matter what.

For me and why I am not a fast food fan, has been all about having the knowledge of what some of the ingredients used can do to your body.  This information has to some degree helped people get on a healthier eating regime.  However, they have got to want to know.  Like the old saying says, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink.  I like to use simple ABC language too.  Nothing over medical which is not easy to understand.  For example with diabetics, many do not know the problems they could face, so I just lay it bare to them, that they could go blind and have limbs removed.  It is less about dancing around the bush and more laying it down straight.  I am never sure as to why in the UK we faff about with getting to the facts.  Maybe more hard-hitting campaigns is one of the answers.  I think there will be  proportion of people who want to be helped, but sadly a massive section of society that don’t.  Cheap, convenient and quick will always be the way for them.  That is a real problem.  However, the more people engage with healthy eating the more I find jump on the band wagon.  Surely that can only be a good thing?

 

What is the “Health is your Wealth” group?

For a long time, I have been concerned with the health of the nation, which may surprise some of you when you look at my catalogue of recipes.   I occasionally enjoy food and drink which leans towards the dark and naughty side, however, I consider such foods as “treats” and they are exactly that.  My daily diet consists of wholesome food, and only now and again will I indulge in things like cake and the more calorific meals.  It seems like we have a major problem in the UK with rising obesity levels and illnesses such as diabetes and heart conditions.  Something has to change as people are constantly eating treats and not fuelling their bodies correctly, this is then leading to many issues.  We need to distinguish between healthy food and bad food and learn more about what is going on nutrition wise.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have therefore decided to share some of the knowledge that I have already accumulated in the grey matter, as well as help motivate people as much as possible to get a healthy lifestyle on track.  Although I am not a physician, I have mentored a few people now with some success, hence why I have been so tardy with writing recipes for the website!  It is my aim to get more people feeling better, losing excess weight and avoiding unnecessary illness.  It is only too apparent that our NHS is struggling, but we can all play our part to lower the burden somewhat. Plus, what is there not to like about feeling healthy?  Who doesn’t want to feel the best version of themselves that they can be?  Why live feeling like rubbish?  It is time we started treating our bodies like a Ferrari instead of a local council dumpster truck.

I hope you enjoy reading in this section, and will join in with the discussion and more importantly a new healthy regime.  Your health truly is your wealth and many need to all value it far greater than what they do at present.

 

Chicken Noodle Stir Fry

I really love Chinese New Year for food.  That said, I will often make stir fry dishes in particular all year round.  I find that many home-made stir fry dishes are low-fat and healthy, but the best bit is that they are full of taste and texture.  The ingredients for the vegetables are not set.  If you have any mushrooms, courgettes etc to hand that you want to use, then chop them up and throw them in.  Just make a note that harder vegetables like carrots, need to be sliced into thin shreds so that they cook properly.  This dish also helps to combat food waste, which is a huge concern of mine.  If you need any further persuasion, then this dish is also quick to cook!

 

chicken nooodle stir fry

 

Ingredients

2 Cooked chicken breasts sliced or cut into pieces
1 Tbsp Sunflower oil
1 Red pepper, sliced
1 Handful of mangetout sliced
300g Ready Wok noodles
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 Tsp Sesame oil
3  Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
Juice of a Lime

Mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce and lime all together to make up the sauce.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan, and fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes.  Add the noodles along with 120ml of water.  Cook for a minute.  Add the chicken and stir, then add the sauce and continue to stir making sure that you coat all the ingredients.  Cook for around 3-4 minutes and then serve.