12 23rd, 2008

This soup is adapted from Rosemary Conley’s ‘Low Fat Cookbook’ and is excellent for a warming lunch and very good for you – just 193 kcals and 1.9g fat.

Serves 6

1 onion finely chopped
225g or 8oz leeks halved lengthways and then sliced
225g or 8oz carrots diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
175g or 6oz red lentils, rinsed
1.2 litres or 2 pints vegetable stock
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons tomato puree
salt and pepper

Spray a large saucepan with a little oil and then fry the onion and leeks for 3-4 mins.

Add the carrots, cumin, lentils and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Then add the herbs and chili powder.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 mins until the lentils and vegetables are tender.

Stir in the tomato puree and season well with salt and pepper. Have a quick taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Healthy and delicious!

This is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Nigella Express’ an absolutely excellent book that positively makes your mouth water as you read!

Makes 12 large cookies

125g or 5oz dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids
150g or 6oz flour
30g or 1oz cocoa
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g or 5oz butter
75g or 3oz light brown sugar
50g or 2oz white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg cold from the fridge
100g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 160 fan forced and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.

Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the bowl does not touch the water.

Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.

Cream the butter and sugars into another bowl and then add the melted chocolate and mix – Nigella uses her food mixer here!

Beat in the vanilla extract and the cold egg, and then add the dried ingredients and chocolate chips.

Place 12 equal sized mounds of cookie dough onto the baking sheets – about 6cm apart. Do no flatten them!

Cook for 18 mins – test with a skewer and it should come out semi-clean not wet – if it does give them a couple more minutes.

Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheets for 4-5 mins and then transfer to a cooling rack. Yum!

Thanks to my mate Sharon for providing the recipe for this sweet treat – delicious, quick and easy!

2 cups rice bubbles

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1/4 cup sultanas

350g white chocolate, chopped and melted … Sharon recommends Cadbury’s Dream

Line 2 x 12 hole deep mini muffin pans with paper cases.

In a large bowl combine rice bubbles, coconut, apricot and sultanas.

Place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and put the bowl over a pan of boiling water to melt the chocolate.

Mix melted chocolate into the dry ingredients and then spoon the mixture into cases and chill for 1-2 hours.

Remove from paper and pop into mouth!

This is a wonderful winter meal and great for entertaining as you can just leave it cooking away in the oven whilst you have a glass of wine with your family and friends.

Serves 4

4 lamb shanks – trim off any fat if you can

1 onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic crushed

several good sprigs fresh rosemary

300ml lamb stock

300ml red wine

400g or 14oz tin chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with a little water

For the mash:

4  medium-sized sweet pototoes peeled and chopped into cubes

salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 160 fan forced.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and spray with oil. Add the onions and garlic and fry for a few minutes until soft.

Place the shanks into a large casserole dish – I usually use a cast iron casserole with a lid.

Mix the stock, wine and tinned tomatoes together and then add the cooked onion and garlic and the pieces of rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Pour this over the lamb shanks.

Cover and place in the oven. I usually check on the shanks every half an hour or so to turn them in the sauce to ensure they don’t dry out.

The shanks need to be in the oven for at least 2 hours. An extra hour wouldn’t hurt though! The meat needs to be falling off the bone and melt-in-you-mouth tender.

The mash only takes about 10-15 minutes to make. Simply cover the sweet potatoes with water and bring to the boil then let them simmer until tender. Drain well, then mash and season with salt and pepper (add some butter here if you wish but I don’t think it needs it).

Once you are ready to serve, remove the shanks from the sauce and cover them with foil to keep warm.

If using cast iron casserole dish, place it with the gravy on the hob (if using a ceramic dish, pour the gravy into a saucepan). Bring the gravy to a simmer and add the cornflour stirring constantly to thicken. If the gravy is too thick, just add a little water. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Now divide the mash onto four plates or deep dinner plates. Place a lamb shank on the top of each and then drizzle the gravy over and around the plate or dish. Serve with a side dish of green beans if desired. Delicious!

12 21st, 2008

This is a very simple but effective way of jazzing up chicken. Again, great for entertaining as you prepare in advance and it can continue to marinate until you are ready to cook. Best of all it’s low in fat and calories – just 350 kcal and 8.5g fat per serving.

Serves 6

2 seedless oranges

1/2 cup or 185g honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

4 cloves garlic crushed

1.5 kg or 3lb chicken pieces or use chicken breast if preferred – one per person

Squeeze the juice from one orange into a bowl and add the honey, mustard, rosemary and garlic and mix well.

Cut the other orange in half and then slice so you have semi-circular slices.

Add the orange slices and the chicken to the orange juice mixture. Season and mix well and leave to marinate for at least 4 hours.

When you are ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 180 fan forced.

Line a large baking tray with foil and then arrange the chicken and the marinade in the tray.

Bake for 40-50 mins or until the chicken is golden, turning once in the marinade whilst cooking.

This versatile dish goes well with roast potatoes and vegetables or rice and salad.

You can make this main course in the time it takes to cook your rice to accompany it – just 10 mins! Very tasty and good for you – I don’t have the kcals or fat content breakdown as this is my own concoction, but it is almost certainly low in fat and calories. Enjoy!

Serves 4

2 x 400g or 14oz tin of green lentils drained and rinsed

2 x 400g or 14oz tin of chopped tomatoes

1 block paneer cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 rounded tablespoon curry paste

1 rounded tablespoon tomato puree

salt and pepper

a good handful of fresh spinach leaves

Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and spray with a little oil. Add the paneer pieces  and allow to brown all over.

Place the lentils, tomatoes, curry paste,  tomato puree, salt and pepper in a pan . Give it a good stir and heat gently. You may wish to add a little water if the mixture is thick (depends on how juicy the tinned tomatoes were!)

Just before your rice is cooked, add the browned paneer cheese and stir gently to mix.

Then add the spinach literally 2 minutes before serving (to retain all the goodness) stir into the curry and allow to wilt.

Have a quick taste to adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve with rice and mini poppadums* if desired – yum!

*Mini poppadums are a great low fat companion to your curry – just place 8 on into your microwave and cook on high for one minute – too easy!

12 21st, 2008

This is ideal to serve alongside cold meats and pate and will keep in the fridge for a week or so – just place in an airtight container or jar in the fridge.

115g or 4oz soft dark brown sugar

150ml or 1/4 pint cider vinegar

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon allspice

juice and zest of 1 lemon

pinch salt

450g or 1lb fresh dark plums (preferably Victoria)

In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the cider vinegar over a low heat.

Add the spices, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.

Cut the plums into quarters and remove the stones. Add the plums to the pan and then cover. Simmer gently for 15 mins and then remove from the heat and allow to cool with the lid still on.

Pour into your container and place in the fridge until needed. Tangy and delicious!

12 21st, 2008

Bored of the same old potatoes on your plate? Or want something different to serve as a side dish when entertaining? This is perfect! Best of all it’s low fat – just 0.8g fat per serving and 185 kcal.

Serves 4

450g or 1lb potatoes

1 onion finely diced

600ml or 1 pint skimmed milk

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove crushed

50g or 2oz fresh breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped

salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 fan forced.

Wash and peel the potatoes and then cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice.

Place potatoes in the bottom of an oven dish, then add the onion and season with salt and pepper.

Place the milk into a saucepan and add the bay leaf and garlic. Heat the milk until boiling and then pour onto the potatoes.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins and then remove from the oven and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parsley over the top.

Return the oven for a further 10-15 mins until golden brown.

If you wanted to, a handful of finely grated parmesan in the breadcrumb and parsley topping would be great – but obviously increase the fat and calorie content.

12 21st, 2008

This is adapted from a Rosemary Conley recipe and it is very quick and so low in fat and calories – just 58 kcals and 1.2g fat per serving! For a more substantial meal you could add some cooked noodles and chicken to the bowl.

Serves 4

225g or 8oz frozen sweetcorn

2 fresh red chillies seeded and finely chopped or 1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 red pepper seeded and finely chopped

6 spring onions finely sliced

1.2 litres or 2 pints vegetable stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon clear honey

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer for 15-20 mins.

Have a taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve. How easy is that!

This is a great light starter if you are entertaining or a side dish for a BBQ. It’s also incredibly easy to put together and very attractive on the plate.

Serves 4

1 large jar roasted red peppers, drained

100g or 4oz of goats cheese or feta

50g or 2oz pine nuts lightly toasted

4 good handfuls of rocket

4 teaspoons red pesto

splash of white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Plate a non stick frying pan onto a medium heat and once warm, add the pine nuts and swirl around in the pan for a few minutes until lightly toasted. Do not take your eye off them or they will be black!

Place the rocket leaves in the centre of four large plates.

Drain the jar of peppers and then tear the peppers into pieces – use as much as you feel appropriate! Lay the pepper strips onto the rocket.

Break up the goats cheese with your fingers and sprinkle over the peppers and rocket. Then  scatter over the pine nuts.

Mix the red pesto with a little white wine vinegar until you have a dressing consistency. Add salt and pepper and have a taste – adjusting the quantity of pesto or vinegar if needed.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and around the side of the plate and finish with a grind of black pepper over the top.


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