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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Skinny Bread's

These Skinny breads are fab - they look great and taste so good and they are quiet possibly the furthest thing from traditional "diet food".
Ciabatta - the traditional stone baked ones are beautiful. However, they are not very nutritious and when prepared trationally with olive oil they can be rather high in calories. 

These savoury breads can be created on a mutli-grain or wholemeal french bread or a rye or spelt bread to increase the nutrition.

These breads are ideal as a lunch, a light supper, canapes or a casual starter. Fitting in with the "skinny " ethos they are so quick, easy to prepare and they look and taste very impressive . Also they are low in saturated fat and calories.

Deli's, bakeries and almost all supermarkets sell these breads. These recipes use Aldi's 4 individual ciabatta breads. These are ideal because the doughy centre can be removed and discarded and all that remains is a beautiful crisp bread and obviously this is far healthier. 
In relation to the basil pesto if I dont have time to make my own I choose Dunnes fresh pesto. It is far superior to anything in a jar and because of the intense flavour only a small amount is needed again saving calories.

Basil Pesto, Oven Roast tomato and Cheese Ciabatta
Serves 1
2 slices ciabatta (thinly sliced) or 1 ciabatta bread roll
3 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp deli qaulity basil pesto
2 tsps low fat grated cheddar/mozzerella

  1. Preheat the oven to 180o C  /  Gas 7.  Wash, half the cherry tomatoes, seasoning, place on an oven tray and bake for 15mins.
  2. If using the ciabatta rolls bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. When they are baked, cut in half and scoop out the doughy centre. Spread each half with a little pesto, top with 3 cherry tomatoes and a small sprinkling of cheese. Bake in the oven for 5/7 mins until the cheese has melted. 
  4. Serve with a small green side salad.
Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Rocket Ciabatta
Again this tasty little bread can be divided into 8 and served as dainty canapes or it is ideal as a light lunch or starter. Smoked salmon is fine but I prefer the Hot Barbequed Smoked Salmon which won a Blas na HEireann award. Although, perhaps considered a luxury product these days I think it is so well worth the splurge for a treat. It is so important to dress the rocket leaves before serving these breads as it really does impact the flavour.

Serves 1
1 ciabatta roll
3/4 slices hot smoked salmon
40g extra light cream cheese
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper
1 tsp chopped chives
A small amount red onion
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper
Small handful of rocket

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC  /  Gas 7. Bake the ciabatta roll in the oven for 10 mins.
  2. While it bakes prepare the cream cheese and the dressing. For the cream cheese mix together the extra light philadelphia, mustard, chives and seasoning. Set aside. Thinly slice a little red onion.
  3. For the salad dressing in the bottom of a small bowl, using a fork whisk together the olive oil and white wine vinegar. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season.
  4. Remove the ciabatta from the oven, cut in half and scoop out the doughy centre.
  5. Dress the rocket in the lemony dressing.
  6. Spread the cream cheese on the bread, layer on two slices of hot smoked salmon.
  7. Layer the rocket and red onion on top.
  8. Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Skinny Omelette

Ok so I'm in the door, I'm starving, its Thursday and the fridge is getting a little on the empty side - what happens with this dinner situation? An omelette is a seriously good solution to my dilemma. This omelette can take on many forms however I'm going to stick to the classic combo of ham, cheese, tomato, onion and mushroom (or in other words what remains in the fridge)

The basic principle of a Skinny Omelette is using as little fat as possible. The key here is 1 whole egg and 1 egg white. ( if your very hungry go 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites)

I have tried the much talked about American " egg white omelette". I'm sorry it just doesn't do it for me. The whole concept of Skinny Loves Food is to have tasty, filling foods which we enjoy eating so that is why I'm using one whole egg.

Try where possible to get at least free range eggs and at best the free range organic eggs.
The other ways in which this omelette remains Skinny is by using low fat cheddar, wafos/be light ham, skimmed milk and frying in a non stick pan using spray oil.

Serves 1
1 whole egg
1 egg white
20mls (dash) skimmed milk
2 spring onions
2 cherry tomatoes
25g grated low fat cheddar
1 slice low fat ham / 6 pieces wafos ham / low fat rashers
10 button mushrooms
Fresh chives (if you have them)
Salt & pepper
  1. Prepare all the ingredients. Wipe and thinly slice the button mushrooms. Cut the cherry tomatoes into half, quarters and eights. Finely slice the spring onion. Cut the ham into small cubes. Grate the cheese.
  2. Heat up the non stick pan. Turn on the grill to get warm.
  3. Spritz 2 sprays of spray oil on the pan and saute (fry) the mushrooms.
  4. While they are cooking put the egg and seperated egg white into a bowl. Season with salt & pepper, add the milk and lightly whisk with a fork. Add chopped chives if using.
  5. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and allow to cool for 1 mins. Wipe out the pan with a piece of kitchen paper.
  6. Stir half the cheese into the egg mixture along with the ham, spring onion and tomato.
  7. Spritz the pan again with spray oil. Pour in the egg mixture. Allow to cook for about 2 mins then transfer under the grill. As it goes under the grill sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Grill for about 3/4 mins.
  8. Loosen the omelette around the edges with a spatula and and allow to slide onto a plate. Garnish with some chopped chives.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chicken Fajitas

I do not proclaim that these fajitas are by any means a direct translation from traditional Mexican hertiage however what I do promise is they make a seriously tasty, quick, low fat, healthy week day meal.
A basic fajita has a meat (either strips or mince) or just vegetables marinated in a smoky, mild sauce. This mix is filled into wraps with guacamole, sour cream and salsa. This Skinny Loves Food recipe has some serious changes to make this an appropriate meal

Ok first up the meat - I like to include meat as a source of protein. My preference is to stay away from beef or lamb mince and choose turkey mince, quorn mice for the vegetarians or chicken breast strips.

The convenience cheat I use to speed up this meal is that famous yellow packet that adorns our supermarket shelves - Old El Paso Fajita seasoning. But this is where the convenience stops. 
I beg of you please never, ever buy the squeezy bottles of guacamole or sour cream. Terrible, awful stuff.

These fajitas allow you to be as virtous as you wish. There is great scope to build them up with lots of vegetables and little meat. Some great vegetables to add include - onion/spring onion , peppers, mushrooms, courgettes and grated carrot.

In addition to this the guacamole made from ripe avocados is full of essential fats, vitamin E and links have been made to them preventing heart disease, lowering cholestrol, inhibit prostrate and oral cancer and benefits eye health. 

In relation to the wraps you choose be careful - alot of the varieties in the supermarket are loaded with sugar and salt. I have 2 recommendations - well 3, first choose a smaller size wrap (you do not need the big one). Second, try to get a tortilla (wrap) of the wholemeal variety and finally something like the weightwatcher or Tesco healthy living ones are a good choice.

PS - I am so sorry, so sorry for the quality of the photo - my photography skills leave alot to be desired and this time i was just starving to add insult to injury.

Serves 2 ( 1 fajita each)
300g turkey mince
150g  chicken breast
1/2 packet fajita seasoning mix
1/3 red, green and yellow pepper
3 tomatoes
1 cloves garlic
1/2 chilli or 2 pieces jalapeno pepper
2 tbsp natural yogurt
2 tbsp low fat grated cheddar
1 whole avocado
3 tsp extra light mayo
squeeze lemon juice
2 tortilla wraps

  1. Prepare all the ingredients. Deseed and thinly slice the peppers.
  2. Prepare the tomato sauce - in a food processor blitz 3 tomatoes, 2 spring onion, 1 clove of garlic, 2 tsp tomato puree and 1/2 chilli ( 2 piece jalapeno). Set aside.
  3. Make the guacamole - peel, remove the stone, mash. Stir in the extra light mayo, seasoning and lemon juice.
  4. Heat a non stick pan.Spritz with spray oil. Brown the turkey mince, add in 1/2 packet os fajita seasoning and stir in the tomato salsa. Cook for about 10 mins.
  5. Warm the tortilla wrap for 30secs in the microwave. Spread the guacamole on the base of wrap, top with low fat natural yoghurt, turkey mince and grated cheese. 
  6. Wrap up and enjoy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spicy Carrot Soup

I have adapted this recipe from this months Good Food Magazine. The basic concept is similar however the additional flavours added before serving take this soup to a whole new level of taste. As we are only using a very small quantity of reduced fat coconut milk  this keeps the calorie content low.  As an alternative some natural yoghurt of low fat/slim line milk would work fine too. This is a great tasty lunch time soup or indulge a little and have this as a main meal with some wholemeal brown bread and Mossfield Organic cumin seed cheese (a little goes a long way). Amazing.

Serves 2

4 large spring onions
1 clove garlic
4 large carrots
1/2 red pepper (sweet preferably)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
400ml boiling water
75mls low fat coconut milk
juice 1/4 lime
1 tsp brown sugar
Spray oil
1 tsp weight watcher cream
1 tsp spicy tomato relish ( ballymaloe jalapeno is a good shop bought choice)

  1. Slice the spring onions finely. De seed and dice the 1/2 red pepper. Peel, top and tail the carrots and cut into thin rings. Peel and dice the clove of garlic.
  2. Spritz a small hot saucepan with some spray oil. Add in the spring onion, garlic and red pepper and cook for about 5 mins. Then add in the carrot and spices. Cook for another minute.
  3. Pour in the hot stock - turn back up the heat to full and bring the soup mixture to the boil. 
  4. When it has reached the boil turn down and allow to simmer (gently bubble) for about 45 mins. You may need to add more boiling water as they soup cooks. About 100mls.
  5. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Allow to cool down a little, stir in the lime juice, coconut milk and sugar, then puree. 
  6. Reheat and serve ( it does tend to taste better the next day when the flavours have developed a little)
  7. To serve - ladle the soup into a bowl. Top with a 1/2 tsp of cream and spicy tomato relish.
  8. Stir through and savour the gentle warmth and heat from the spices which is set off by a subtle sweetness. Delicious.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Deciphering Food Labels

At this stage if you are beginning to come around to the Skinny Loves Food way of life you will have probably discovered that your food shopping is taking a little longer than before. Trust me, these extra few minutes in the aisles are well worth it.

However it is important to be aware that food producers and more so food marketeers use clever and even deceptive marketing tools to sell their product. They are not interested in your health and well-being, they are only interested in one thing - profit. They have the upper hand - we the consumer have entered into a  minefield. We are rushed, busy and anxious to get the job done. This is where they prey on our weakness. We glance at an array of products - see the all important  - LOW FAT, REDUCED FAT, LIGHT, REDUCED words and we are sold.

Whilst perusing this months Good Food Magazine I found this little article which I am now sharing with you to help you to demystify your weekly shopping trip. This piece explains the 3 key words used, what they actually mean and what to beware of.

Lite/light - this means the product must be at least 30% lower in a specific nutrient (e.g. fat) than the standard product.
However no reference is made to actually how much was in the original and to beware that alot of times to compensate for the  lower fat content and lack of flavour they increase the quantities of salt and sugar.

Reduced calorie/fat - this means that the product contains 25% less calories/fat than the standard product. It is again important to beware here that although it has less calories or fat it actually may not be low in calories or fat.

Low fat - this means the product must be no more than 3g of fat per 100g.  Any food with less than 3g of sat fat per 100g is normally a healthy food. I always find this a great rule of thumb when comparing varieties of product in the supermarket, particularly jars of sauces.

Hope this helps. Happy shopping .