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!

Tomato Soup

This went down a storm in my cookery demo this morning, and is a favourite soup in our house.  Quick to make and utterly delicious as well as not costing you much, so you cannot go wrong.  Always try to buy premium canned tomatoes where possible.  You can also substitute a couple of items should you wish.

 

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Ingredients

1 Can of tomatoes ( I use a real good quality brand)
Glug of olive oil
1 Onion finely chopped
1 Garlic clove crushed
Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Sugar
400 mls of vegetable or chicken stock
200 mls of milk
Handful of fresh basil leaves
(Optional) Good dollop of creme fraiche or a swirl of cream

In a medium saucepan add the olive oil, onion and garlic and sweat gently until the onions go translucent looking. Add the tomatoes, sugar, stock and pepper then cook gently with a lid on for ten minutes. Then add the milk and basil leaves and continue to simmer for five minutes. Then use a food processor or hand blender and whizz until you have the consistency you like. If too thick for you, just add a little hot water from your kettle to loosen it. You can also put it through a sieve to get an extra silky smooth soup. Eat this as it is, or add some creme fraiche or cream.

Lemon Curd

This is one of my all time favourite preserves to make, as not only is it delicious on toast or warm bread, but can be used in desserts.  Use it as a filling in a cake, swirl into a creamy fool or make up a quick lemon meringue pie.  Homemade lemon curd is relatively easy to make and store.  I always use unwaxed lemons and find that this recipe is a great way of using up left over lemons, that you are not sure what to do with!

 

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Ingredients
• 450g Caster sugar
• 4 Unwaxed lemons (zest and juice)
• 4 Eggs gently beaten
• 100g Butter
Sterilising Jars
To sterilise your jars you will need to wash and rinse in hot soapy water, or put in a hot cycle of your dishwasher.  Dry them, then place on a clean baking tray and put into an oven at 150 degrees centigrade for about 15 minutes.

You need to place a bowl over a pan of hot water, taking care that the water does not actually touch the bottom of the bowl.  Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix round.
Keep gradually mixing and eventually after about 25 minutes the mixture will start to thicken.  You can tell when the mixture is thick enough by taking about half a teaspoon out and placing on a cool plate for a few seconds.  As it cools it should start to thicken, if it is still too runny then keep cooking for a further few minutes.
Place into sterilised jars making sure you leave a good gap between the top of the lemon curd and the jar lid. Do not place the lid of the jar on immediately, just let it loosely rest on top until the lemon curd mixture has had a chance to cool down, otherwise you will end up with condensation.
I then place a disc of greaseproof paper on top before putting the lid on.

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.