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.

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

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!

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.

Veggie for November: the final week (and a bit)

First things first, and why I’m doing this, the fundraising link!

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/lindas-veg-pledge-7

 

So, into the final week and a bit.

Thursday – breakfast toast with almond butter and banana

Lunch leftover shephereds pie – note to self, plastic Chinese takeaway cartons are not microwave proof!

Veg box delivered – did a stir fry for dinner.

Friday – used the other half banana and some kale in a smoothie for breakfast.

Lunch was some broccoli blue cheese soup from the freezer

Dinner -a vegan pad thai recipe which was gorgeous, and I will be doing this again!

Saturday

Pre parkrun toast and cottage cheese.

Lunch was cheese and crackers

Dinner was sausage mash and onion gravy (Linda McCartney bangers for me);  Love my red onion gravy.

Sunday – had a lazy relaxed morning, and made myself a fry up with potato bread using the leftover mash.

Found a meal that we could both eat for dinner -mushroom ravioli with a tomato and roast pepper sauce, with garlic cheesy bread.

Monday: I wasn’t feeling too good, and managed a boiled egg and some dry toast, but spent most of the day in bed.

Tuesday – I explored the options in Boots, and was sdaly disppointed – cheese or egg sandwiches, or a veg sushi snack.  I did get excited at the idea of a higedy pie roll with feta and red pepper.  It was rather dry and claggy – a bit better when microwaved. But not something I’d be rushing to eat again.

I still had tofu to use up, so replaced it for mozarella in a caprese salad – with fresh basil, this was rather good!

You say tomato, I say tofu, crazy, caprese, let’s eat the whole thing up!

Wednesday – I’d bought some quorn cocktail sausages, so I’m using them up.  Had a couple for breakfast, and a couple more in a salad lunch.

I was at a party in the evening, and I have to say the veggie options were slim pickings.  The only sandwiches I could eat were egg (thank goodness with no raw onion).  Though the desserts are where it’s at for veggies!

 

Thursday – last day of the month!

I treated myself to lunch at Yo Sushi,and I struggled to get round the veg menu, having to get help from the staff. Too much mayo and deep fried–ness in the mix.

Final Thoughts:

This really wasn’t a hardship.  But it took some planning.  Cooking for myself, bringing my own lunches – great options.  Relying on what’s available in supermarkets and when travelling – limited and poor nutritional choices.

I’m keen to bring more veggie dishes into our repertoire.  My dyed in the wool carnivore husband may take some convincing, however….

Veggie for November: Week 3

Veggie for November: Week 2

Veggie for November: Week 1

 

 

 

Veggie for November: Week 3

I can feel I’m getting into a bit of a swing here – I know what works for me at home, and I’m tuning in to the letter V on dishes advertised on menus and cookbooks.

Wednesday:

This was a low calorie day.  I had a veg ploughmans for lunch ( carrot sticks, mini babybel, pickle and a tomato), and a stirfry for dinner with zero calorie noodles.

Thursday:

Blueberry and chia seed oveernight oats. Lunch with Mum and Dad and sis at Howard Street – had the goast cheese croquettes with salad.  I was staying in town to go to my running club’s evening at Pure Running (where I bought some new trainers) and then on to Dundela Scottish Dance Class, so dinner was kind of …crisps and a cereal bar en route.

Friday:

Breakfast – blueberry and chia smoothie.

Snacky lunch of Boots sushi, Holland and Barrat meat free pepperoni, crisps and apple.

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Dinner was a Jamie dish of roasted cauliflower with pineapple, chickpeas and almonds, with a mango chutney and yoghurt dip. This was really good, and I wll be doing this again!

Saturday:

After parkrun I had some toast and marmalade. The afternoon included a sandwich and bun extravaganza at Portadown Scottish Dance class’s 60th anniversary do! Dinner was a tapas affair with cheese croquettes, saute potatoes, and a bean and kale dish.

Sunday:

It was finally dry enough to do some gardening, after which I tucked into boiled egg and soldiers. Late lucnh was a goats cheese pizza, and supper of baked camembert and harissa parsnips.

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Monday:

A low calorie day.  Lunch was a rather tasty “Look What We Found” soup of sweet potato and coconut. Dinner after running training was a few rye crackers with cottage cheese.

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Tuesday:

After laughing my way through “Carry On Nigella” last night, I was inspired to do a sort of pasta dish with a sauce made with tomatoes and quark.

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Huge thank yous to Emma and Beth, who have got the fundraising off to a start!

Veggie for November: Week 2

Veggie for November: Week 1

Veggie for November: Week 2

On Wednesday I had a wonderful day off!

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I started by making a super smoothie finishing off my frozen red berries, with some cacao powder and quark.  I had a dance class in the morning, and was heading straight to the Chinese supermarket afterwards, so lunch was a snacky mix of cereal bar and cheese.

I stocked up on all sorts of goodies at the supermarket, including various forms of bean curd for protein.

For dinner, there was some leftover cheesey pasta, to which I added some spinach, and topped with a poached agg and a slice of processed cheese.  These tend to accumulate in the fridge and I hate to waste them!

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On Thursday I was having a low calorie day.   I made myself a 100 calorie salad for lunch with 1/3 tin of white kidney beans (they were 15p in BM bargains), with red onion and tomato, and my new fave seasoning, red pepper flakes.

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Dinner was a super spicy stirfry with zero noodles, including strips of carrot, and some rose bean curd.  It was gorgeous, if a little spicy!

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Thursday was also veg box delivery day, so I had fun thinking of the various meals I could make, and puzzling over what to do with a giant turnip.

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Friday, and my lunch was a “bitsa this, bitsa that”, including homemade guacamole and carrot sticks, and some fabulous Iranian dates stuffed with walnut.  I have a glut of carrots at the minute, so I am making myself eat a carrot a day.

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I love Friday evenings spending my time in unhurried cooking, and so I stuck on some old school tunes from The Corrs and Seal, and danced around the kitchen making Jamie Oliver’s Keralan curry.  I wouldn’t normally put pineapple in things, but this was really tasty.  And I made enough to freeze a portion.  Result!

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Saturday morning was another dance class –  I set myself up with a slice of wholemeal toast with cottage cheese and blueberries, and lunch was a cheese and crackers working affair duing a committee meeting.

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I then made a vegan shepeherds pie, using some of my turnip in the topping along with parsnip.  I made half of it totally vegan, to give my sister, but I added cheese and butter to the topping on my half.  Again, there was a portion for the freezer.

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My usual Sunday morning brunch is a boiled egg.  I often do more than one, so that there’s hard boiled eggs ready to go for lunches and snacks – handy portable protein for 80 calories. I usually paint a face on the hard boiled ones to avoid confusion!

For dinner, I tried a Deliciously Ella dish of saute potatoes, wilted kale, tomato and humous.  An unusual mixture, but I would repeat it. There were supposed to be some jarred artichokes as well, which my storecupboard astonishingly lacked.

Monday was another low calorie day.  I’d made a sort of coleslaw with grated turnip and carrot in quark, but I couldn’t manage to eat it –  the first real disaster on this journey.

Dinner was good old eggs again, made into a fritatta with potato and mushroom, and a  few tasty cubes of feta.

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As often happens, the day after a fast day I don’t really feel hungry, counter intuitive as that sounds. So on Tuesday I just had a handful of blueberries with my cup of tea.

Lunch was high protein cottage cheese with tomato, kale and walnut, which was a satisfying mix of textures.

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And there may be no such thing as a free lunch, but I managed to get a free dinner at a new chip shop, by checking in on Facebook at Chipmongers – and they were grrrrrrrrreat!

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Summary: Still on the hunt for veggie haggis, so I can make neeps and tatties to use up my turnip mountain. Still on the hunt for seitan, another protein source.  Still no donations to my fundraising site.  But one happy vegan sister and two handy homemade meals awaiting in the freezer!

Donate here!

Veggie for November: Week 1