Pesto Pasta

This is a pasta dish that hits the spot and is ready in next to no time.  You can use any pasta you like, but I like the fusilli twirled pasta for this, as the sauce gets stuck into the grooves with it.

This dish is reasonably healthy too and is cost effective, especially if you grow lots of basil like myself.  I also like the fact that most of this is store cupboard ingredients, and so is great for making when you are stuck with knowing what to cook.

 

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Ingredients

  • 2 Bunches of Basil – remove the leaves from the stalks
  • 100ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Seasalt – a couple of good pinches
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove
  • 50g Pine Nuts
  • 3 Large Tablespoons of Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Pasta of your choice (80g per person)
  • Vine cherry tomatoes on top to decorate (optional).

Boil your pasta to the packet instructions.  Whilst it is cooking you can make the pesto sauce.  In a food processor place all the ingredients except the tomatoes and blitz until fairly smooth.  You may need to stop a couple of times and go around the edge of the bowl with a spatula.  Leave the pesto to rest a few minutes, you will see that it will thicken slightly.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return it to the warm pan.  Do not put the saucepan back on the stove.  Place the pesto in with the pasta and mix well, ensuring it is all fully coated in the pesto mix.

Serve in bowls and add some vine tomatoes on top.

 

 

 

 

 

Low Calorie Section

I have added a new section that I am adding to my site called ‘Low Calorie,’ as I am being asked by people almost on a daily basis, to give them recipes and ideas to eat healthier.

I would like to stress at this point, that although the recipes are ‘low calorie’ I do this with health, rather than weight loss in mind.  Many will enjoy a loss of weight naturally when they eat well and ditch the junk.  Just testing some of my recipes over the last week, I have lost well over half a stone in weight, yet I do not feel deprived.  It is important to eat well and make sure that you get the right calories in your body for your height/sex/age/weight and activity level.  With that in mind, I have a few useful suggestions for you.

 

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First I purchased a pedometer quite cheaply from Argos for around £14.00.  It simply straps to your waist and you can forget about it and get on with your day.  I always aim for 10,000 steps per day but often it will end up being 12,000.

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Second, I placed the nutracheck app on my phone, which enables me to find out what my calories should be.  It also allows me to check food calorie/fat levels and I can add the food either from a bar code scan or manual input.  I also get control over how much weight I may wish to lose, whether I wish to stay at my weight or if I want to gain some weight.  It gives me lots of useful data and some of which has been surprising.  Simply swapping dairy yoghurt to a soya alternative reduced my calories by quite a substantial margin.  The biggest shock was that I really enjoyed the soya version, and do not find it in any way a sacrifice.  The next myth I wish to dispel is that fruit and veg are ‘free food’.  I need to be clear that they DO contain calories.  For instance 1 large banana is around 92 calories, whereas a nectarine is 36 calories.  Little swaps and changes can make a huge difference.  The app also gives you information on how many of your 5 a day you are eating, plus how much water you have drunk and still need to drink!

Third, I purchased a good set of digital scales as portion control is the biggest issue many people have.  Weigh out 30g the recommended amount of Special K cereal, and be truthful as to whether or not that is the amount you usually place into your bowl?

To be healthy and to lose weight is not rocket science.  What it does require is discipline and commitment.  Exercise (even brisk walking) and eating well, will not just help you shift a few pounds but will make you feel more alive and well.

Over time, I shall be giving you some recipes for low-calorie foods to help you.  These will be rough calorie guides and of course depends on your portion sizes.

Here is to health for 2016!

Kedgeree

I am not one for eating breakfast early, but I do enjoy a good brunch.  This recipe for kedgeree is great for a late breakfast or lunch and is reasonably healthy too.  Do try and get the undyed haddock.  I am no fan of the bright yellow stuff where dye was used years ago, as a way of reducing smoking time and cost.  Some of the dye used is an E number called E104 Quinoline Yellow.  People who suffer from Asthma, hyperactivity and dermatitis should probably avoid this like the plague.  This additive has been banned in certain countries such as Australia, Japan, Norway and the USA.  Still want to eat the dyed fish?  If so, the  you must be mad!

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480g Undyed smoked haddock fillet, cut in half
100ml Milk with 400ml of cold water
2 Bay leaves
200g Basmati rice
4 Free-range eggs hardboiled and peeled, then cut into quarters
80g Frozen peas cooked and left warm
40g Butter
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
1 Heaped tbsp medium curry powder
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp double cream
½ Lemon, juiced
Ground black pepper
Place the haddock, milk/water and bay leaves in a large frying pan and bring it to a gentle simmer. Cook for 8 minutes, then drain but making sure you reserve the cooking liquor and remove the bay leaves.

Place the cooking liquor in a saucepan and add the rice. Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes. If the rice is using up too much of the cooking liquor too quickly then add a little extra hot water from the kettle. I use a lid on my pan with just a slight opening to let a little steam out. Turn off the heat and leave the rice undrained for a few minutes. The rice will then absorb much or all of the liquor.

In a large frying pan melt the butter and oil and cook the onion over a low hear for five minutes until softened and translucent. Then add the curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, making sure you stir constantly. Drain off any excess liquid from the rice, and then add to the pan along with the peas, cream and parsley.

Flake the fish into the pan, stir in the lemon juice and stir gently to heat through for around 1 minute. Then take the pan off the heat, and add some ground pepper and stir once more gently so as not break the fish too much. Place the egg quarters on top and place a lid or tin foil on top of the pan, and leave for around 3 minutes, so that the egg is heated slightly. Then serve.

 

Low GI/GL Foods

The Food and Health Club that I run, discovered more about Low GI/GL foods today

This is a list that gives people an idea of what food to avoid and aim for, with low GI/GL food.   Not only does Low GI/GL food help people with diabetes regulate their sugar, but you tend to feel fuller for longer and it can help you lose weight.  Low GI foods are the ones to aim for!

Bread

LOW GI Pumpernickel, rye, sourdough, soya and linseed, barley and sunflower, granary, seeded breads and pitta breads (moderate GL) oat cakes, rye crackers (moderate GL)

High GI White, wholemeal, French stick, rice cakes, cream crackers, bread sticks

Cereal

LOW GI Whole oats, oatmeal, porridge, no added sugar muesli, bran sticks, semolina, quinoa

HIGH GI Sweetened cereals, rice based cereals, bran flakes, wheat biscuits, shredded wheat

Pasta

LOW GI Egg-based pasta, mungbean noodles

HIGH GI Overcooked pasta and pasta ready meals requiring re-heating

Rice

LOW GI Long grain, wild, and basmati rice. Bulgur or cracked wheat, couscous, pearl barley

HIGH GI Short grain, sticky white rice

Potatoes

LOW GI Baby new potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, celeriac, swede

HIGH GI Large floury white potatoes, French fries, mashed potato

Some other interesting facts are:-

Eat small or moderate portions of starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice.
Include lots of low-GL fruit and vegetables at every meal. Aim for a minimum of five servings of fruit and veg per day. Lightly cook veggies for the minimum time or eat them raw. Fresh, frozen, or canned fruit and veg are all fine.
Make more of pulses including peas, beans, and lentils in soups, salads, and as a meal accompaniment instead of pasta or rice. Pulses, including dried or canned, count towards your five-a-day fruit and veg.
Always include a protein-rich food as part of your meal to reduce the GL. Chose from lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy foods, soya products, or quorn.
Adding acidic foods such as balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, vinaigrette, or pickles (for example, capers and gherkins) to your meal reduces the overall GL.

Adding a little monounsaturated oil such as olive or rapeseed oil also reduces the GL

Cut right down on highly refined snack foods such as sweets, crisps or corn chips, cakes, biscuits, and pastries made from white flour and sugar. Instead, choose nuts and seeds, or dried fruits such as apple rings or apricots. Instead of milk chocolate, snack on a couple of squares of dark chocolate with over 70 per cent cocoa solids.

Coconut Bean Soup

Low fat, spicy and packed full of good ingredients!  It is also a vegan recipe, so makes a good change to be off meat and let the body have a rest.  This recipe is popular in Africa and I understand it is particularly popular in Tanzania.  Today I made this for the Victory Health & Food Group and nothing was left over.  We decided to leave the salt out of the recipe, for those on a low salt diet (blood pressure) but you can always add a little for yourself.

 

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Ingredients

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 green or red pepper chopped
8 tomatoes chopped
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
1 x 410g can of kidney beans drained
800ml of water
100g of cooked brown rice
2 tsp of medium strength curry powder
2 chillis deseeded and chopped (use 1 chilli if you are not keen on heat)
Salt and pepper

Place the olive oil in a large pan let it melt, then add the onion and pepper for about 5 minutes on a moderate heat. Do not let the onions colour too much.  Add the tomatoes, curry powder, chilli’s (if using) and fry for a further 3 minutes.  Then add the coconut milk, kidney beans, salt and pepper and water.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the rice and cook for a further 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.