Celeriac base pizza

Low carb pizza based on the Blood Sugar Diet recipe book

This is one of those rare recipes that is actually given for one person, so it’s great for the solo dieter!

For the base, grate 80g celeriac. Mix with 2 tablespoons cream cheese, and a small amount of cheddar (I find the matchbox sized individual mature cheddar things are the perfect size). Stir in a beaten egg, and season with salt, pepper, and a good shake of Italian seasoning (or oregano)

making the pizza base

Spoon onto a greaseproof lined baking sheet, and bake at 200 degrees for 20-30 mins, keep an eye on to male sure it goes nice and gold without burning at the edges.

base after 25 minutes

Now go mad with your toppings! This can be a great one to use up odds and ends in the fridge. I had pasta sauce, anchovies, jarred mushrooms, cherry toms, capers, a little tapenade, some blue cheese getting past its best, and some parmesan.

Toppings from storecupbard odds and ends

Bake for another 10 mins or so – again, keep an eye on to make sure the cheese is melted, but the edges not too burned. Calories will depend on toppings, but around 350, with 25g carb from the celeriac, and 20g protein from the cheese and egg.

The final pizza!

Enjoy!

Cheese and greens mini muffins

These were adapted from the cheese and spinach mini muffins in the Fast 800 blue “easy” book, but I had no spinach. I did however have a bag of kale that I’d put in the freezer a while back, so I was interested to see how that worked out. I defrosted it a bit before using, but the act of freezing does break down similar green veggies, so this sort of recipe is great for using them.

Main ingredients – a tin of butterbeans and 3 eggs. Blend in a food processor. with salt and pepper. I was using my nutribullet, and sometimes it can be a bit fussy if the ingredients are too dry. But I was amazed by how quickly these 2 pulsed together to form a batter. I will definitely be exploring other options along these lines in future.

Next add 50g spinach or kale, and 75g grated strong cheese, and 4 spring onions (scallions, green onions, chopped). I didn’t think all of this would fit, so I kept back some cheese to sprinkle on top of the muffins to give a crispy finish.

I spritzed a low cal spray into each section of my muffin tin, and used my red scoop to portion out even amounts. This device came with a tub of porridge oats, but I find it really useful in making this sort of muffin frittata thingy.

Recipe says 12, I managed to only get 11.

Bake at 180 (fan) for around 30 mins, turn the oven off and let them cool before turning out. They are super tasty, and have a satisfyingly dense but moist texture. One or two for a late breakfast, or with a salad for lunch, they keep for a few days in the fridge, or can be frozen. I plugged the ingredients into MyFitnessPal, and the calories came out at 90 per piece, 9g carbs and 6g protein.

Fast 800-4-1 week 4

A week of main meals suitable for those following a fast 800 (low calorie, low carb) approach, but cooking mainly for one person. Recipes from the Fast 800 series unless otherwise stated.

Mon: Roast veg with cumin and goats cheese (easy p177). This was very tasty and straightforward, although the recipe at one point refers to “all the vegetables” when it really means “except the tomatoes”. You’re now going to tell me that tomatoes are technically a fruit, aren’t you. Meat-eating husband had his as a side, and it worked well as that. If I do this again I’d make more and have leftovers for lunch.

Goats cheese cumin veg

Tues: Mushroom omelette. A quick go to for the solo cook. Served with green veg on the side.

Wed: Prawn courgetti. (Easy p118) I had to change my plans at the last minute as husband wanted some too, and he’s not a fan of courgettes.

Thurs: Broccoli and paneer (easy p 182)

The recipe book gives this as serves 3, which always looks odd! Anyway, easy to adapt for one person, using 80g paneer. Following the recipe I fried the paneer cubes in oil first, but they were very spluttery, and I hope I haven’t ruined the frock I was wearing by having blobs of hot oil splashed on it, and my hands. Very simple list of ingredients, usually things I would have around.

simple uncomplicated ingredients

Fri: Indian feast. I tried the broccoli dish again, but dry fried the paneer first, which was much less splattery. I swapped the tomatoes for mushrooms, as I’m not a fan of scalding hot toms that burn the roof of your mouth. I adapted a Joe Wicks thai curry recipe using up aubergine and mushroom with red thai paste and coconut milk, served it with some shredded cabbage done in the microwave, a blob of yoghurt and some lime pickle. A sprinkle of cashews for added protein and crunch.

Brocoli paneer, thai aubergine mushroom, shredded cabbage, yoghurt, lime pickle

Sat: Tuna stuffed peppers. (Easy p84) One pepper, one can of tuna, there’s a little bit of stuffing left over, depends on the size of your peppers. It was very salty with a lot of anchovies and capers in it, and again, those hot scalding cherry toms….

Tuna stuffed pepper

Sun: Cauliflower cheese and veggie sosig, celeriac chips. Linda McCartney’s veggie sausages are very tasty, and come in around 100 calories and 10g protein each, which is a good ratio to aim for. The cauliflower and broccoli cheese was from the BSD recipe books, and wasn’t that exciting, though I do like the addition of chopped jalapeños! It heated up well for lunch next day. The celeriac chips were not really crispy enough, other people say they do take a long time in the oven. I have lots of celeriac left, but I’m planning pizza bases and Spanish omelettes for next week.

F800-4-1 week 3

This weeks menu:

BSD blood sugar diet book, R red recipe book, E blue easy recipe book

Monday overnight oats, egg wrap with smoked salmon and cream cheese(R94) veggie bolognaise w edamame spaghetti and green beans

Tuesday: Greek yoghurt and granola ( joe wicks spicy nutty recipe) , bolognaise w green beans, mushroom omelette w soy asparagus and broccoli

Wednesday: apple and peanut butter, goats cheese salad, fish finger sandwich

Thursday: green ginger shake(R53), tuna apple salad, leek and barley risotto (R216)

Friday: ainsley Szechuan soup, pesto baked fish (E105)

Saturday: fry up, pesto fish

Sunday: scrambled egg, leftover barley risotto, prawn and egg curry (E 121) w roast cauliflower and raita

Now, the fish finger sandwich wasnt really on plan, it started as a bit of a joke, and is served with a curried yoghurt and a sprinkle of Bombay mix!
The egg wrap was really, good, triple protein and easy to make for one.

egg wrap w smoked salmon and cream cheese

Barley, leek and goats cheese risotto takes a bit of time to cook, but leftovers reheat well.

veggie bolognaise w edamame spaghetti

I really disliked the green ginger shake. I’m not a fan of shakes generally, but I’m still using up apples! They take too long to drink, I don’t like the icy cold temperature, I couldn’t bring myself to add the olive oil in the recipe so I added yoghurt instead.

goats cheese salad
green ginger shake

The pesto fish dish takes longer to cook than the book suggests, and I don’t really like reheating fish, it’s much better done fresh.

pesto fish

Prawns are a great protein to calorie source, but the size of packs they come in can prove difficult for single diners. My husband mistakenly bought 3 packs at 180g, so I’ll be using those up over the next few days. Again, I don’t like reheating prawn dishes as the prawns go too rubbery, and I don’t like freezing them, especially if the prawns were previously frozen. I also try to avoid taking fishy things to the office in case the smell is offensive. So I might just eat all the prawns myself and count the calories.

The prawn egg curry was very watery – a full tin of tomatoes and then a full tin of water makes it too liquid. I managed to overdo the prawns too, so I didn’t get a decent picture.

mushroom omelette

Fast800-4-1 week 2

A weeks worth of food following Fast 800 principles, but suited to cooking for one.

Menu:

Monday: Greek yoghurt and granola, veggie sausage, miso aubergine

Tuesday: mushroom scrambled egg, blue cheese and chicory, cauliflower rice paella

Wednesday: chia pot, thai curry, prawns w courgetti and edamame spaghetti

Thursday: chia pot, thai veg curry, prawn stir-fry

Friday: Boiled egg, smoked salmon salad, halloumi ratatouille

Saturday: Overnight oats, halloumi ratatouille, salmon fillet w hoisin roast cauliflower

Sunday: Overnight oats, smoked salmon salad, veg burger, turnip fries, cheesy leeks

Foods that to be used up this week include apples, oranges, cauliflower, turnip, smoked salmon.

Vegetarian sausages come in a pack of 8, and it’s usually easiest just to cook them all at once. So Monday’s lunch was leftover from the sausages I’d cooked at the weekend, in an onion gravy. This reheats quite well in the microwave. Miso aubergine is p178 in the Easy F800 recipe book. It was very salty, and I wasn’t keen on the edamame cooked open in the oven, I’ll just micro them next time. But a satisfying plate of food.

Having a load of apples to use up, I made one into cinnamon apple crisps, p 220 first recipe book. These take a long time in a cool oven, but are a nice crisp snack.

Tuesday- blue cheese and chicory. It may be very good for your gut, but boy this is bitter! I could only eat half of one raw with salad, kept the rest for dinner. I was adding in some seafood to up my protein, and I love little pickled cockles. Any seafood packs a good protein to calorie ratio. So I made a cauliflower rice dish with paella flavours of paprika and garlic. And added the rest of the chicory as a side.

Wednesday: due to spend the rest of the week in the office, so I made a pot of chia seeds and yoghurt to have mid morning, defrosted a tub of Thai curry for lunches, and had some olives leftover from the paella. One of the issues about cooking for one is the freezing of leftovers, which is limited by the size of tubs available. But having 2 portions in one tub is suited to bringingto work, where I have access to a fridge and microwave.

I found edamame spaghetti in Holland and Barrett. The calories are similar to normal pasta, but it does have a protein content. I mixed a small portion (25g) with some courgette cut into thin strips, and served this with garlicky prawns. Frozen prawns are always on hand in my freezer, but they come in different size packs, so do check. I used half of a 180g pack, saving the rest for tomorrow. From a bag of mixed leaves I used some rocket to garnish.

Thursday I still had the chia pot and curry in the office fridge, and for dinner I used the rest of the prawns to make a stir fry, using some spinach leaves out of my salad bag. I added some Konjac noodles – I’m not a huge fan of these, they need to be rinsed well, and then dry fried to get rid of the fishy smell. But they were in the cupboard and I hate waste! Kimchi on the side, I love this stuff.


Friday: I always boil more than one egg when I’m cooking them, so have hard boiled eggs ready to eat in the fridge. Had one for breakfast. Lunch was some more salad leaves with smoked salmon, and for dinner I was cooking for my husband also. He likes the ratatouille w halloumi p212 of the original recipe book. The recipe serves 4, but husband eats 2 portions, I eat one and there’s one leftover for lunch.

Saturday: I made a big bowl of overnight oats using one apple, to do over 3 days. I can’t remember why I had so many oranges, but I decided to try the orange and almond loaf, p 222 of the original recipe book, which would also use up some of the dates I had left from Christmas. 300g of ground almonds! And 300 calories a slice! I’m not sure this really fits well with a low calorie diet, but I was intending to freeze most of it to have as an occasional treat. It smelled good while cooking, but the end result is quite heavy, and not worth all those calories.

Lunch was the leftover ratatouille, which reheats well, and for dinner I was tying the hoisin roast cauliflower, p210 of the blue recipe book. This was unpleasant, the addition of vinegar to the marinade makes it pungent and sour, and hot vinegary chilli but still crunchy cauliflower is really nasty. Turning a perfectly good low calorie veg into a 250 calorie side dish is not a move I’ll be repeating. Recipe serves 2, I kept the rest to have cold as a salad next day.


sunday: overnight oats, salad with the cold cauliflower, boiled egg mixed with sour cream and horseradish, smoked salmon, and the rest of my salad leaves bag. I’d bought a slab of plant based mince, so I was making a burger to go with turnip fries and cheesey leeks. These are easy to make in the microwave, zap the sliced leeks, then stir in some soft cheese and grated mozzarella. I had actually made 2 patties, but I left the room at one point and when I came back there was only one! Not sure which dog is the guilty party, but I know which husband should have been paying more attention!


Fast 800-4-1: Week 1

I’ve been trying to follow the Fast 800 style of eating for a while now. I did the original 5-2 back in the day, and managed to get through a day on 500 calories based around fish, veg and eggs. Since then the diet has become more popular and has evolved into what is now Fast 800, where it is 800 good quality calories per day every day for up to 12 weeks. It gained even more popularity when a TV show Lose a Stone in Three Weeks was aired during 2020, and of course a whole series of books have followed.

For ease of typing, I will refer to the books as O (the original guide) R ( the first red recipe book) E (the new blue topped Easy recipe book) and BSD (the Blood Sugar Diet book).

I have a number of issues with the books. I don’t eat meat but I do eat fish, and I find the veggie recipes can be quite high calorie (600 cals for a curry?) and have a sizeable carb content. But the biggest issue I have is that I am often just cooking for myself. There are a few recipes my husband also will eat (the halloumi ratatouille R212 being a favourite), and there are a handful of recipes for one (miso soup, omelettes), but more often than not I’m making adjustments to the quantities to either have a portion leftover for lunch, or to freeze. Having single portions of something suitable in the freezer is great, but can be limited by the availability of suitable containers. This also leads to the problem of how to use up half tins of coconut milk, or an opened jar of pesto.

So this will be a blog series looking at how to get a week of recipes using up what needs using, without too much repetition or saminess.

So. This week’s stuff that needs using: tofu, half an aubergine, half a pepper, half a block of halloumi, end of a cabbage, pak choi, spring onions and coriander. Smoked mackerel, mushrooms, kale, beansprouts, half an avocado.

Sunday: I made little aubergine halloumi and pepper stacks, and served them with a quick salad with yoghurt dressing.

Monday: I got creative with the smoked mackerel. Half of it I made into pate (BSD 73) which did 2 lunches, and the other half I made into fishcakes (E 110).

The recipe served 4 but was simple enough to halve, served with sesame stir fry veg, and I cooked and kept a portion to have cold with a salad.

Tuesday: Loaded miso soup with tofu and mushrooms.

These little mini snack packs of dried seaweed are great for tearing over Japanese dishes.

Wednesday: I’d used a stuffed butternut squash dish for my Christmas centrepiece, and had chopped the remainder into chunks and kept in the freezer. I used some to make a Red Thai curry with the coconut milk, made 2 portions and froze one.

Thursday: stir fry with tofu, beansprouts, and some frozen stir fry veg. These packs are very handy when cooking for one, as you just use as much as you need.

Friday: The rest of the squash roasted with sage, and served with a portion of veggie bolognaise (R194) that I had in the freezer.

Saturday: The coriander is really getting past it now, but used to garnish a shakshouka

Sunday: Another use-it-up stirfry.

Overall verdict: This was pretty good, I had a colourful array of vegetables, but I always struggle with using fresh herbs before they go off. I may revert to buying them frozen. What would I do without my freezer!

A-Z of low cal heroes

Low calorie (and low carb) foods that I rely on when I’m watching the calories and carbs eg on the 5:2 or Fast 800 approaches.  Inspired by my friend Helen’s A-Z of  Scottish Dancing, here’s my list of foods I find help me enjoy cooking and eating this way.

A- Anchovies.  Yes, those wee fish you find on pizzas.  A few snipped into a salad add a real salty tang, as well as a hit of protein.

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B- Bovril.  Although I don’t eat meat I’m not a strict vege (or pesce-) tarian, and a mug of Bovril is very satisfying when hunger pangs strike. A 12g spoonful is 17 cals, and 4g of protein.

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C- Cottage cheese.  A useful non-egg breakfast, I like a spoonful of this with radishes, cucumber or tomato, and a sprinkle of za’atar (see later)

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D- dulse.  This dried seaweed is a bit of an Irish seaside tradtion, but Belfast wans can get it in Sawyers or greengrocers. Chewy and salty with a hint of the ocean, it packs a few useful vitamins as well,  Try it as an alternative to nori or other seaweeds in miso soup (see later) or a Bhudda Bowl.

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E – eggplant, or aubergine.  Very useful in making dips like baba ganosh, or cut into steaks and spread with miso (see later) paste as a “steak”.  Essential element of ratatouille, or as caponata.

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F- Frozen berries.  I try not to have too much fruit, but once a week or so I’ll make overnight oats or chia pots.  Mixed berries keep well in the freezer, and are ideal for this.  If added to the dish the night before they will have defrosted by morning.

G – Greek Yoghurt.  There is always a vigourous debate on social media about the “best” or “right” Greek yoghurt to get, unsurprising given the wide variety of natural, plain, Greek, Greek-style, Skyr etc available.  Check the label, avoid extra additives,  and don’t go for low-fat.

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H – Herbal teas.  I surf through the day on water (see later) black coffee, and herbal teas,  I keep a little “lucky dip” carousel at work, but the Yogi Choc flavour is heavenly when you need a hit of chocolate.

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I – Itsu brand.  Miso soup (see later) is a great standby for light lunches or quick pick-m-ups.  I like this brand, at 21 cals per sachet.

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J – jackfruit.  As a not-quite-vegetarian, I’m always on the lookout for ways to add more variety.  Jackfruit, available in cans, make a good sturdy textured addition to curries and stews.

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K – Konjac noodles.  Substiture noodles, pasta and rice made from konjac root are sold under names like Slim or Naked.  They are not to everyone’s taste, some say they taste like rubber bands, and can have a  fishy odour when the sachet is opened, but when well rinsed they can have the right look and feel.

L – lemon and lime.  Always in my fridge, add a slice of either to hot or cold water, squeeze over salads or in stirfries.  Keep some wedges in the freezer to add instead of an ice cube to cold drinks.

M – miso soup.  You can buy sachets to which you just add hot water, or make your own with miso paste.  I like to make a “fully loaded” version with thinly sliced mushooms, cubes of tofu, beansprouts, spring onions, and a sprinkle of dulse (see above).

N – nuts.  Useful for ading a wee bit of protein, though not as much as some people believe.  Cashews are great in stir fries, walnuts are lovely with a bit of blue cheese, and almonds have a satisfying crunch.

O – Olive oil.  The best oil to use.  I also use coconut oil, and locally grown rapeseed.

P – prawns. These pack an amazing protein to calorie ratio, are great hot or cold, in spicy dishes or in cool salads.  I try to keep frozen raw prawns as a freezer standby, they can be defrosting under cold running water.

Q – quinoa. I cut right back on cereals and grains, but quinoa has protein content as well, and cooks in 15 mintues.

R – rainbow.  Eat the rainbow!  Aim to get a range of colourful foods, like beetroot, peppers, courgettes, cauliflower, tomatoes.

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S – spices are key to maing food tasty.  And don’t underestimate the importance of Sleep.

T – Trout, Tuna, Tofu.  Great protein sources.  I prefer smoked trout to salmon, it is tastier and has slightly fewer calories.

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U – Un-alcoholic drinks.  Ok I know that’s not a real word!  There’s a great many not-gins on the market at the minute, add a frozen lime wedge and a diet tonic to a large glass and you’ll not feel you are missing out at all.

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V- vegetables.  Eat lots of them, especially those that grow above the ground.  Spinach, pak choi, broccoli, mushrooms, and salad veg like tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, are always in my veg drawer.  And onions!  But no potatoes.

W – water. Drink lots of water.  I aim for 2l a day, and try to keep a bottle by me at all times.  First thing in the morning, start with a  large glass.

X – F.U.N.E.X? S, V.F.X.  So goes the old Two Ronnies sketch, and S, I always have a plentiful supply of X.  I go for large free-range, local if possible.  I probably eat at least one a day, love a quick scramble with whatever veggies are about for breakfast.  My Sunday standard breakfast is a soft boiled egg with asparagus dippers, and I usually boil a couple of extras to have during the week.  I’ll also whip up a a batch of fritattas with eggs, cheese, and veg – spinach, cooked cauli, spring onions, roast peppers, olives.  They make a handy portable late breakfast to have at work, and can be frozen.

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Y – Yukata, is another brand I like for miso soups, sushi ginger, and other Asian ingredients.

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Z – za-atar, one of my favourite spice mixes to sprinkle on scrambled egg, soups, or cottage cheese.

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Jackfruit Curry

Low calorie, low carb, vegetarian or vegan.

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I’m always keen to try new foods and recipes, and I was intrigued by jackfruit, which is getting used in many vegetarian meals these days.  It’s most often seen as some sort of BBQ pulled dish, which I don’t care for.  So I made a curry instead.

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Ingredients:

1 tin jackfruit

1 onion (80-100g)

1 red pepper (100g)

100g button mushrooms, quartered

1 tin tomatoes

1 tsp coconut oil

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Curry spice – I used garlic paste from a tube, a tsp of chillies from a jar, turmeric, ground coriander, and cos I had them, curry leaves,  I also threw in a cinnamon stick and a star anise.

Sweat the finely chopped onion in the coconut oil until translucent.

Add the diced red peppers, and continue to cook on a low heat, covered, for 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and stir everything well together.

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Add in the curry spices and stir well.

Add the tinned tomatoes, the jackfruit, and give everything a good stir.  Break the jackfruit up as you stir. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer while you prep the rice.

Coconut Lime Cauli-rice

For each serving:

150g cauliflower florets, grated.  I use my special cauli Iron Maiden.

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Melt a tbsp coconut oil in a frying pan and add the cauli rice, stirring to get it covered in the oil.  Let it cook gently for 5-8 minutes, until itstarts to get a bit nutty.  Add salt and pepper, and half a lime squeezed.  I threw in some chopped parsley from my gardon for colour. Add in some grated coconut (10g)

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Serve with a blob of yoghurt (or vegan alternative) and a sprinkle of coriander leaves.

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I got 3 “my size” servings from this, 300 cals with the rice, but it would make 2 generous portions.

Note: I like the jars of easy chilli.  It’s easy to control the heat of the end result, as opposed to actual chillies.  When the jar is empty, I half fill it with water, give a good shake, and used that chill flavoured liquid to add a kick to soups, stews etc.

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Jamie’s 5 ingredients: Harissa Squash Salad

I’d been very impressed with the telly version of Jamie’s latest book, 5 ingredients.  The premise is that healthy, tasty food does not have to be complicated, so he has devised a range of recipes using only 5 ingredients (and a decent stocked larder).  So impressed, in fact, that I bought the book.  So pepare yourselves for an onslaught of recipe trial blog entries while I work my way through them.

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Harissa Squash Salad.

I’m a big fan of salads, especially ones that don’t go soggy before lunch.  I had half a butternut squash in the fridge, already had a jar of harissa, a ball of mozzarella and an avocado in the fridge, so the only ingredient I needed to buy specially was salad leaves.  I chose rocket, as the most versatile.

I was intrigued at the instructions to chop up the squash without bothering to peel, in fact add in the seeds as well.  I’m all in favour of using up as much as possible without waste!  I tossed the chunks of squash in a good blob of harissa paste, glug of oil, and salt and pepper.

Roast at 180 for 50 minutes – I gave them a bit of a stir around half way through.

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Serve on a bed of leaves and chopped avo, dresed in some olive oil and vinegar (I used sherry), with some mozzarella strewn over the top.

Verdict:

This was seriously tasty stuff!  I was perhaps over generous with the harissa, but once paired with the creamy avocado and cool cheese it was a lovely combination.  I found it a little on the soft and squishy texture wise, so I sprinkled some mixed seeds for added crunch and protein.

Half a squash was loads!  Even after my salad, there is still a generous amount left in the roasting pan.  It will be nice in another salad, or a wrap, or even in a “clear the fridge out” soup.  And not bothering to peel is a revelation.

Vegetarian friendly, could be made vegan by relacing the cheese with tofu.

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9 out of 10.

 

Spirulina pancake

IMG_2700I’d bought some powdered spirulina when I was “veggie for November”, but never got round to using it. Since then, I’ve been trying to find a palatable way of including it in my diet, but have struggled with its gloopy texture and vivid black green colour.

Added to a shake or smoothie it’s OK, but only cos it’s a small amount that I can choke down.
I’d tried it in porridge and took one mouthful before throwing it away.
But I’ve found an easy and acceptable way to eat it – mix it with egg and make a flat crepe.

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Ingredients – 1 medium free range egg, 1 tsp spirulina powder, and 1 heaped tsp milled chia seeds. These are all big protein hitters, so the resulting dish has 111 calories, 10g protein and 4g carbs.

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Whisk the egg well to make it as frothy as possible, before stirring in the spirulina and chia. Spray a flat pan with 2 squirts of 1 cal oil, and pour in the green batter. Let it cook on one side before gently flipping over to cook the other side. It’s fairly solid so you don’t need to worry about it breaking. I had it cut into triangles with some humous.

I’d definitely make a few of these at the weekend and use them for breakfast or even as a wrap for lunch They’d even come in handy on low calorie days.