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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blue Cheese, Parma Ham and Pear Salad

Salads are quick, easy and in most instances quite virtuous. This salad is seriously impressive and makes a great little starter or a light main course served with a single slice of  toasted wholemeal sour dough. Moreover, this salad a brilliant fusion of some amazing Irish blue cheese, Irish pears along with Italian Parma Ham and Balsamic.

This salad  has a great balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy. I don't advocate any one source or supermarket but for this recipe Aldi has to be the place which offer premium products at the best price.

To explain how this salad fits in to the SkinnyLovesFood ethos - the big splurge here is the Blue Cheese. Although normally a very strong flavour this awarding winning Aldi specially selected mature blue cheese has a subtle flavour with just the right amount of impact. It is high in saturated fat but a little goes a long way.  Removing the visible fat from the parma ham makes it become quite a lean source of iron along with the spinach. Also,the pisatchios provide some fibre. Fresh pears would be great but I find tinned pears - although a lower nutritional value - are fine. Just ensure they are in a natural juice not syrup.
This salad has amazing taste and flavour for a low fat, healthy, filling meal.

Serves 2
100g mixed leaves (rocket, spinach, watercress, chard)
4 slices parma ham
25 pistachio nuts (shelled)
50g blue cheese
half red onion
1 tin pears
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic glaze (Lidl)

  1. Preheat oven to the highest setting  - 220oC. Open the tin of pears, drain. Place on an oven proof dish and drizzle with the maple syrup. Pop in the oven for 10 - 15mins.
  2. Rinse the lettuce leaves. Peel and finely slice the onion. De-shell the pistachio nuts. Remove the visible fat from the parma ham.
  3. In a salad bowl combine the leaves, parma ham, red onion. Crumble in the blue cheese.
  4. Remove the pears from the oven and thinly slice. Add these and the pistachios to the salad.
  5. Toss all the ingredients together with the balsamic glaze.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kick Start Eating Plan

As I have said Skinny Loves Food is not a quick fix. It will not help you to drop a couple of pounds by the weekend. 

This is not a diet – I repeat – THIS IS NOT A DIET!!!!!

These are ideas to slowly and consistently help you re adjust your diet to an all over healthier way of life.
Here are some healthy, low fat, high fibre meal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Use these suggestions to get you started and feel free to ask me any queries aboout ideas and suggestions you may have. 

The basic concept these options follow is lots of high fibre, wholegrain carbs, lean protein, low saturated fat, reduced sugar and salt, lots of fruit and vegetables and drinking lots of water.

o 30g serving of all bran/porridge, slim line milk , banana
o 1 weetabix, slim line milk, piece of fruit
o Smoothie ( 1 banana, handful of frozen raspberries, ½ tsp honey, 100g 0% fat natural yoghurt & handful of ice cubes or 100ml cold water) & 1 slice wholemeal bread and low fat spread
o Poached or boiled medium egg on slice of wholemeal toast with low fat spread
o 2 slices wholegrain calorie control bread (Nimble/Better for You/Weightwatcher) / 1 slice wheaten bread (soda bread/McCambridges etc) & 2 grilled lean bacon medallions.

o 1 slice wholemeal bread topped with Mediterranean Tuna Salad
o Food Dr. Wholemeal Pitta (or a low fat variety) filled with coronation chicken or chicken salad  ( 1 dsp extra light mayo, tomato, mixed leaves, red onion, 1 easi single and 2 chicken mini fillets (75g chicken)
o Toasted special – 2 slices calorie controlled bread . ( Dunnes “Better For You” is my favourite or Hovis Nimble), ballymaloe jalapeno relish, sliced tomato, 1 low fat easi-single, 1 slice crumbed ham.
o Roast sweet red pepper stuffed with bulgar wheat salad, topped with 20g goats cheese
o Bowl of vegetable soup & 1 slice of wholemeal bread with 1 tbsp low fat spread

o Low fat Seafood pie
o Low fat Carbonara
o Low fat turkey meatballs with whole-wheat spaghetti
o Salmon fillet on a bed of spinach with a creamy prawn and dill sauce
o Chicken & Broccoli Bake

o Fruit ( apple, 2 mandarins/tinned mandarins, kiwis,
o Pot of low fat yoghurt (see recipe)
o Melba toast crackers, 2 extra light laughing cow cheese spread, sliced tomato
o Handful (10 ish) cashew or pistachio nuts
o Handful of posh pop-corn

P.S Please I would love for you to post any ideas or great suggestions that work for you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Creamy Seafood Pie

I love seafood pie - when i started developing this recipe i began with the hard core traditional recipe including bay leaves, peppercorns, carrots and celery. Then one day due to a lack of ingredients in the fridge and a hunger for dinner this quick,ultra easy recipe emerged.

When looking for a selection of fish don't make it a big deal - especially if its for a weekday dinner - frozen fish is fine (defrosted obviously)or some supermarkets do a prepared seafood pie mix. I don't particularly like squid and mussels in my seafood pie - however i do feel the prawns are worth the little extra luxury.Liquid fish stock concentrate is great and if not a stock cube is perfect. The dried dill actually works surprisingly well.

When poaching the fish be careful not to boil the milk as it will split. To poach simply means to keep it at a medium to low heat and have gentle bubbles breaking the surface. If it does split its not the end or the word - take it off the heat and stir through the cream cheese.

Serves 4

200g smoked haddock

200g cod

200g salmon

200g prawns

800ml skimmed milk

20g cornflour

1 fish stock cube

50g extra light cream cheese

1 tsp dijon mustard

15g fresh/ 5 g (1tsp) dried dill

2 handfuls frozen peas

50 ml skimmed milk

1 tsp low fat butter

8 potatoes

salt and pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.

2. Peel and half the potatoes. Boil for 25 – 30 mins. (Alternatively steam in the microwave for 12mins)

3. Dice the fish into large cubes (2cm x 2cm)

4. Pour the milk into a shallow frying pan. Crumble in the stock cube. Add in the fish and bring to a simmer for 6 mins.

5. After 6 mins – using a colander over a bowl strain the milk and fish.

6. In a small ramekin blend 20g of corn flour with 3 tbsp of the warm strained milk until it forms a smooth paste.

7. Pour the milk back into the saucepan and continually stir in the corn flour paste until the milk thickens into a smooth sauce. Gently stir in the dill, mustard peas and all the fish. Taste and season with a little black pepper. The stock cube has already added salt.

8. Strain and mash the potatoes. Gently warm the butter, milk, salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. (small bowl in microwave) Stir into potatoes.

9. When transferring to the oven proof dish try to pour as much of the creamy sauce to the bottom of the dish as possible. Add in the fish. Dot small amounts of mashed potatoes over the top and gently spread out. Score the back of a fork - clean down the edges of the dish.

10. Bake in the oven for 30mins until bubbly and golden brown.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sexy Chocolate Mousse

This chocolate mousse is the perfect seductive dessert - gorgeous, creamy, smooth, dark, rich & chocolatey. The good news is it is so quick to prepare, tastes amazing - way better than any of the processed ones and is minus all the calories & saturated fat. For this recipe I use Normandy 0% fat fromage frais. This exact product can be bought in Tesco. Please don't try and use low fat yogurt or natural yogurt. I have tried both without any sucess. The only other alternative I can think of is the Weight Watcher cream or Avonmore do a light cream (this is not ideal if trying to lose weight as it is still high in calories, but way better than regular cream). Presumably half fat creme fraiche might work too.

Serve these in champagne flutes or martini glasses for some extra seductive impact.

125g 70% cocoa solids chocolate (buy the best you can afford - it makes a huge difference) I love Lindt or Black n Greens
2 eggs
140g Normandy 0 % fat fromage frais
1 tsp honey
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 sachet (4g) gelatine
20mls boiling water
Optional: 2 tbsp cointreau (orange liqueur)

  1. Prepare everything in advance. Boil the kettle. Stir the honey and brown sugar into the fromage frais.
  2. Pour some boiling water into a small saucepan. Sit a heat resistant bowl on top to create a bain marie. Pop the chocolate in and allow to simmer as the chocolate melts.
  3. Seperate both eggs individually. Whisk the 2 egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks. (turn the bowl upside down and they shouldn't move)
  4. When the chocolate has colled a little ( about 2 mins) using a spatula stir in 1 egg yolk. Discard the other. Stir in the cointreau if using.
  5. Pour 20mls of boiling water in a small bowl/ramekin. Sprinkle over the gelatine and stir briskly until the powder has dissolved.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
  7. Stir in the froamge frais.
  8. Drizzle and quckly stir in the gelatine.
  9. Pour into glasses, clean down the edges.
  10. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 4 / 5 hours.
  11. Enjoy . x

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken and Ham Pie

Comfort food !!! This is the most AMAZING, perfect comfort food for a rainy day. Chicken and ham pies are normally loaded with cream and butter and consequently have way too much saturated fat, cholestrol and calories.
This low fat version is loaded with an intense creamy flavour with a fraction of the fat and calorie content.
Chicken meat leftover from a roast chicken is ideal - just ensure to remove all the skin. Alternatively one large or two small chicken  breasts are fine. Ricotta is a rich italian creamy cheese. Athough it has a significant saturated fat content a little goes a long way. Otherwise, extra light cream cheese is ideal. In relation to the sauce ,slim line milk is perfect however ,if you have just introduced yourself to the skinny way of life and slim line milk is too hard core at the moment, wean yourself down to the low fat milk option.

Serves 2/3
1 or 2 chicken fillets
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic
150 mls slimline milk
2 slices ham
75g frozen peas/sweetcorn
50g ricotta
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 chicken stock cube/ 2 tbsp liquid stock concentrate
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
4 sheets filo pastry
1 tsp milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC / Gas 7.
  2. Spritz the chicken breast with a little spray oil, wrap in tinfoil and bake for 20mins.
  3. Prepare the other ingredients. Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Cut the ham into cubes. Dice the chicken into small cubes.
  4. Spritz a non stick pan with a little spray oil. On a medium heat saute (fry) the onion and garlic. If it starts to stick add a little water After 3 or 4 mins add in the ham, sweetcorn and chicken . 
  5. Pour in the milk, crumble in the stock cube, seasona and add in the thyme. Allow to bubble gently for a couple of mins. Then stir in the ricotta. Gently stir in the remaining milk. (It may look a liitle too wet but it will dry up as it cooks.
  6. Pour the mixture into the pie dish. Gently scrunch the filo pastry just a little and lay over the chicken and ham mixture. Brush with a little milk and bake for 25mins until golden brown.
  7. Serve with a tossed salad.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Posh Popcorn

We've all heard about the 3 pm slump from those very annnoying ads on tv!!! But we all probably have that point in our day where we want to reach out and grab something to munch on.

It is important to remember to use calories wisely. Eating a bag of low fat crisps is good for a treat if you are craving a savoury snack however there are more nutritious snacks for about the same calorie value. A healthier, more natural food would be a small handful, like 15 pistachio nuts or a small portion of wholegrain kelkin popcorn. These foods have no added flavourings or preservatives, a lower sodium content and a much higher fibre content.
This posh popcorn will totally satisfy that savoury craving and keep you fuller for longer.

P.S. Portion control is essential here.

This posh popcorn is an ideal snack to have - keep it sealed in a freezer bag and it makes an ideal snack while on the go !!
Kelkin Wholegrain Popcorn Kernels

Posh Popcorn
Serves 1
25g Kelkin wholegrain popcorn kernels
1/2 tsp canola / olive oil
5g (1tsp) grated fresh parmesan
tiny pinch freshly ground black pepper and salt

Heat the oil in the bottom of a small pan. Add the popcorn kernels. Place the lid on top. After 1 min  lift off the heat and shake to coat all the kernels in oil. Turn the heat to medium and allow the popcorn to pop.
Remove from the heat and add seasoning and parmesan while the popcorn is still hot.

Enjoy any time, any place!!!

Mediterranean Tuna Salad on Rye

In these days of frugality to quote a good friend of mine 'where everyone is watching their pennies' tasty lunch options are essential. Gone be good with the days of a fancy deli lunch or an over priced panini. However boredom sets in pretty quick when its Wednesday and the most exciting thing you've had is ryvita and apples. Here's where Skinny Love comes in. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I want to introduce you to a bunch of uber tasty low fat, high fibre sambo options.
The first is the faithful old tin of tuna - bye bye stodgy, fatty, calorie ladened tuna, sweetcorn mayo - HELLO  Mediterranean Tuna Salad on Rye. This lunch is low in saturated fat, low in calories, high in fibre and packed with brilliant lean protein.

Serves 1
70g tin tuna in brine
1 slice wholemeal/rye bread
2 tbsp extra light mayo
1/4 red onion finely diced
1/4 red pepper finely diced
1 hard boiled egg white + 1/4 yolk
4 olives ( stuffed with anchovy paste - AMAZING)
2 sun blushed cherry tomatoes
Pinch salt and pepper

  1. Hard boil an egg.
  2. Prepare the tuna mix - Drain the tuna.
  3. Dice the onion and pepper. Slice the olives into rings.
  4. Peel and separate the egg white by cutting around the egg vertically and splitting it open. Mash the egg white and crumble in the tiny piece of yolk. Discard the remaining egg yolk.
  5. Combine all these ingredients with the mayo. Season.
  6. Feel free to toast the bread, spread the tuna mix over the bread and top with sun blushed tomatoes and olives.
  7. Serve with mixed leaves and enjoy.

Sun Blushed Tomatoes

Sun blushed tomatoes are an amazingly sweet and luxurious addition to any dish. They are fab in pasta dishes, salads, as a topping on home made pizzas and they make any sambo seem kinda fancy. Sundried have a much more severe taste, which personally i am not a fan off. Sun blush tomatoes are available from lots of delis but come with a hefty price tag so this way you get your own sun blushed tomatoes without the air miles. This is a great way to preserve tomatoes if you have a glut at the end of the summer season. Store in an air tight container in a little olive oil.
Cherry Tomatoes before sun blushing

  1. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting - 50o C. Cut the cherry tomatoes horizontally. Cut a cross diagonally in each half.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper
  2. Place on a wire tray and place in the oven.
  3. Leaave the door ajar and dry out the tomatoes for 5 hours.
  4. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Sunblushed tomatoes

Roast Vegetable & Chicken Bulgur Wheat Salad

Ok, to explain a little about bulgur wheat. Health shops and Tesco stock it in a dried grain form. Simply  - it is a grain very similiar to cous cous however it is a more wholegrain, high fibre, filling alternative. It has a slight crunch and a nice nutty flavour. So altogether a seriously healthy option for lunch or a light main course. 

I tend to use chicken legs for this recipe ( free range if at all possible) for a couple of reasons: they are a cheaper alternative to breast meat and as the chicken is roasted on the bone there is more flavour and the skin keeps the meat moist and juicy while cooking. Leftover chicken is also ideal. 

The harissa paste is a spicy chilli paste which makes a great rub for the meat. In other recipes they mix this with olive oil and massage into the chicken however that is just adding unnecessary calories. The harissa adds a gentle warm heat to the over all dish. I have suggested using celery salt - it justs adds another dimension of flavour to the dish.

Also, during these recessionary times being economical in the kitchen is not only very 'en vogue' but highly practical so by utilizing the oven to cook everything an at an overall cost of about €3.00 I think you will be very proud of your low fat, healthy, recessionista lunch.

Vegetables ready to be roasted
Serves 2
2 chicken legs/breast
2 tsp harissa paste
1 mug bulgur wheat
1 chicken stock cube
1 red onion
1 courgette
1 red pepper & 1 green pepper
3 cloves garlic
handful cherry tomatoes (2 buffalo tomatoes)
handful of olives
2 tbsp fresh/deli basil pesto
2 handfuls rocket

  1.  Boil the kettle, preheat the oven to 200oC / Gas 7. Rub the harissa paste under the skin of the chicken and spritz with a little spray oil. Roast in the oven for 45 mins.
  2. Prepare the vegetables. Deseed and dice the peppers, Dice the courgette into chunks. Add the garlic and vegetables to an oven tray. Spritz with spray oil and roast in the oven for 25mins.
  3. Pour 1 mug of bulgur wheat in a bowl and top with 1 mug of stock (1 stock cube & boiling water). Cover with cling film and allow to steam for 30 mins.
  4. Finely dice the red onion and the tomatoes. Slice the olives.
  5. When the chicken is cooked, remove the skin and discard.
  6. When the bulghur wheat is cooked strain off any remaining liquid and fluff it up with a fork. (it will be a more moist consistency than cous cous). Optional: chill in the fridge before serving.
  7. Squeeze the garlic from its skin, mix into bulgur wheat along with roast vegetables, tomato, red onion and olives. Toss through some rocket and serve.
  8. Enjoy.

Roast Vegetable Bulgur Wheat Salad with Leftover Chicken

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Getting Started

Ok to get started on your Skinny Buzz heres a little suggestion for some of the foods you should banish from your cupboard. Following on from that I have trawled the supermarkets to find the best tasting brands of low fat, high protein, high fibre foods. So now there is nothing left to do but SHOP!!!!

Get Rid Of :
Real butter
Sunflower oil
Full fat/low fat milk
Full fat yoghurts
All your cheeses
French stick/bagels/croissants

Stock up on :

Better for You Bread - wholegrain, granary
Hellemans - extra light mayo
Philadelphia extra light cream cheese
Dunnes fresh pesto
Connaught Gold low fat spread
Skimmed milk
70g tinned tuna in brine
Activa virtually fat free yoghurt
Ballymaloe country/jalapeno relish
Sugar free jelly

Breakfast muffins - wholegrain
Be Light bacon medallions
Turkey mince
Turkey breast
Be Light ham slices
Chicken mini fillets
Low fat easi - singles
Eggs - free range / organic
0% / fat free natural yoghurt
Brown rice
Lemon sole lightly dusted fillets
Frozen prawns

Jarred roast red pepper
Organic fruit & veg
Flavoured water ( same as M&S but about 1/3 of the price)

Cathedral Light Mature Cheddar Cheese ( no comparison to Low Low / Dubliner Light etc)
Food Doctor - multi-grain and seed Pittas ( higher nutritional content but will keep you feeling fuller for so much longer than other brands)
Sugar free beans
Melba toast crackers
Bulgur Wheat