Spinach, Mushroom and Pancetta Egg Muffins

Variety being the spice of life.. or so they say, I continue to search for ways of keeping food interesting while at the same time being nutritious and healthy. I came across a recipe for Egg Muffins at Kalyn’s Kitchen and adapted it slightly for our breakfast this morning :)

Breakfast Muffin Omlettes

Breakfast Muffin Omelettes

Serves 4

Preheat your oven to 180 C and lightly butter/oil a 12 hole muffin tray

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 200 g chopped Chestnut mushrooms
  • 70 g cubed Pancetta or bacon
  • 150 g washed spinach
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 60 ml whole milk (it’s OK to add skim milk here, I just like the creaminess that the whole milk adds)
  • 60 g reduced fat grated cheddar
  • Seasoning to taste

Method

  1. In a pan, gently fry the pancetta and onions until just starting to soften. Do not add oil as there is enough fat in the pancetta
  2. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mix starts to brown
  3. Add the spinach a stir till it’s all wilted and the liquid has cooked off (You want the mixture to start to fry again otherwise your omelettes will have soggy bottoms!)
  4. Season the mix to taste (dry chilli flakes at this point if you like it spicy :))
  5. Spoon the mix evenly into the bottom of the muffin tray and set aside
  6. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, milk and seasoning
  7. Ladle the egg mix evenly into the muffin tray. Each muffin hole should be around 3/4 full. The muffins will rise during baking and you don’t want a messy oven so rather save your egg mix and make more than over fill
  8. Sprinkle the grated cheddar into each muffin hole. It will probably sink, but that’s no matter
  9. Bake the muffins for around 15 minutes or until starting to brown and the egg being set.
  10. Serve with a grilled tomato and eat straight away

This dish is so easy to make. Best part is that we all get to sit down to hot food at the same time… usually when I make omelettes, I am the last to the table and everyone else is usually almost finished!

Some variations on what to flavour with include:

  1. Broccoli and blue cheese – steam the broccoli for about 7 minutes, chop up finely and mix in the blue cheese (just a little for flavour)
  2. Red peppers, feta and chorizo
  3. Smoked salmon and asparagus – grill the asparagus for a few minutes until just starting to colour then chop up finely with the smoked salmon
  4. Sweetcorn, mushrooms and chilli
  5. For something sweet, add 1/2 tsp of vanilla to your egg mix and replace the savoury seasoning with a tbsp of honey. You can add your favourite uncooked soft fruit (berries, peaches etc…) as your filling mixture and serve with a dollop of yoghurt
  6. To make them a little more soufflé like whisk the egg whites to soft peak stage and fold in just before filling the muffin holes (This will extend your mixture so prepare 15 – 16 muffin holes)

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Well, it’s not really a lasagna as it has no pasta and it’s not a cottage pie as it has no potato. It’s layered like a lasagna and tastes sort of like a lasagna AND it’s better for you :)

IMG_9928

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Serves 4

394 Calories per serving

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 200 g 10% Fat Beef Mince (or Quorn or Puy lentils if you want this to be vegetarian)
  • 125 g Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp Saccla Organic Red Pesto
  • 100 g reduced fat Cheddar
  • 1 Medium Aubergine, sliced thinly lengthways
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tsp Olive Oil

Method

  1. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half. Season and spray with a tsp of olive oil. Place on a baking tray and bake in a 200 C oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly so you can handle it. Scoop out the flesh and set aside
  2. Steam the Cauliflower florets until tender. Purée with a hand blender (or even mash). Don’t worry about making it too smooth as you wont notice in the finished dish. Having said that, try not to leave big chunks. Mix in half of the cheddar cheese and stir well. Set aside.
  3. Take the aubergine slices and lay them out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Season the foil first with salt and pepper and spray with a teaspoon of olive oil. This will prevent the slices sticking to the foil. Place in a hot oven (200 C) and bake till they are nicely coloured – approximately 15 minutes. Keep an eye on these as you don’t want them to burn. Once cooked, chop up into bit size bits
  4. Brown the mince in a heavy based saucepan with 1 tsp of olive oil and the 2 tsp of minced garlic. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 7 – 10 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the 2 tsp of red pesto. Stir well and set aside
  5. Just before layering up, add the raw beaten egg to the cauliflower purée as this will help to set the dish
  6. Using all the ingredients now prepared, layer as you would a lasagna (I used a small casserole dish 19 cm x 6 cm) – a layer of white sauce, a layer of spaghetti squash, a layer of aubergine, a layer of mince and repeat. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese and place in the hot 200 C oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the dish is warmed through.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagne

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Note: You can reduce the calories of this dish by reducing the olive oil used and use herbs instead of the red pesto. But that’s a personal choice.

Enjoy

x

Dinner tonight – Spaghetti Squash

So when I ordered my box of squash online, I received 10 kg or rather 12 squash :) Luckily they keep for around 6 weeks so we are good for 2 a week! I have been looking for different ways to cook spaghetti squash, but although I am avoiding gluten, I am also trying to keep my meals waistline friendly, so here is what I came up with for dinner tonight… Spaghetti Squash with roasted vegetables, lentils and Turkey breast

2014-01-23Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash (approx. 650 g) cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced (55 g)
  • 100 g chestnut mushrooms, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 125 g cooked Puy lentils
  • 250 g lean Turkey breast
  • Salt and Pepper to season
  • Olive Oil (I use a spray to reduce how much I use, but try to use no more than a teaspoon for the squash and a teaspoon for the veg

Method

Tonight, I tried roasting them cut in half and sprayed with a teeny bit of olive oil and seasoned with my favourite salt mix (Saison Wild Mushroom and Thyme Salt) and black pepper. I roasted the squash for 40 minutes at 180 degrees. They turned out brilliantly – drier than when I roasted the squash whole so the strands of “spaghetti” were a little more robust.

I made a mix of roast veggies (bell peppers, celery, red onions and chestnut mushrooms). I added some cooked puy lentils and when the spaghetti squash was done, I scooped out the flesh and added this to the veggie – lentil mix. I grilled a couple of small portions of turkey breast and this was dinner. High protein, low carb, high fibre

Serves 4

Calories Sodium Carbs Fibre Sugars Protein Fat
250.75 0.6445 32.7125 8.4375 7.7125 23.475 6.2375

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash

It is really hard to find Spaghetti Squash in the UK but I found a source and my first box arrived today. (Check out Big Barn Market Place – awesome site, speedy delivery, good value for money and locally sourced organic produce) I was so excited… must be getting weird in my old age, getting excited about a box of squash! Anyway, my first spaghetti squash lunch is in the making!

Lunch for 2 – Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash

This meal is gluten and wheat free and 309 Calories (34.8 g Protein; 33 g Carbohydrates; 7.6 g Fibre; 7.7 g Fat)

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash (approximately 650 g)
  • 150 g chicken breast cut into small cubes
  • 100 g finely chopped celery
  • 30 g finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
  • 100 g Curly Kale, well washed, shredded and any thick stalks removed
  • 1 clove of roughly chopped Garlic
  • 100 g plain Quark (Quark is a virtually fat-free cream cheese)
  • 2 slices low-fat, sweet milk cheese (I used Leerdammer Light)

Method:

  1. Place squash on a rimmed, lined baking sheet. Make 2-3 vents in the squash by poking deep slits with a sharp knife. Bake in oven for 35 minutes at 180 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Dice the chicken breast into small cubes and stir fry in the olive oil until it starts to brown
  3. Add the diced celery, spring onions and garlic and fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the shredded kale and continue to stir fry for another 5 minutes
  5. Turn off the heat and add the quark. Season with pepper but avoid adding salt if you can
  6. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Use a fork to loosen the squash strands.
  7. Add the “spaghetti” to the chicken and mix well.
  8. Place the mixture back into the squash shells, cover with the slice of cheese and place under the grill till the cheese has melted
  9. Enjoy
Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash

I have been following a gluten-free and wheat free diet for about 3 weeks now and I have to say that I really feel better for it. As soon as I have any form of wheat or gluten, I bloat and have lots of stomach discomfort. Substituting with foods like this makes me happier to go without. I know that there are now loads of gluten-free alternatives and they have improved in quality so much that you can easily go gluten-free these days. I am however trying my best to avoid processed foods and just go with as close to natural as possible. Looking for loads of inspiration here so let me know if you have any to share..

x

Don’t give yourself permission to quit

The hardest thing about getting off the couch is keeping off the couch! I started running a week ago to improve my cardio fitness before embarking on my Insanity Challenge and there are so many times when my thoughts have started with “I can’t” or “I’m not sure” but you know what… I got off that couch for a reason and if I hold on to that and dig deep then I WILL make it through!

My thoughts on beating those thoughts…

  1. Don’t give yourself permission to quit
  2. Have a plan, put it up on the wall where you can see it
  3. Note down your end goals. Make them visual
  4. Exercise to music that makes you want to move
  5. Don’t think about what you have to go through in order to achieve your end goals, especially while exercising, just concentrate on the job at hand
  6. Tell someone about your plan… in fact tell loads of people – no one wants to be a quitter and you’ll be less likely to do so if people you care about know what you want to do
  7. Do your best … your real best! Always be honest with yourself about how committed you are.
  8. Push yourself. There’s always room for improvement.
  9. Measure your progress
  10. Take a holistic approach – change your life and lifestyle. Eat right, sleep right, exercise and have fun

Just don’t give up

x

Chinese New Year 2014

Celebrating Chinese New Year in  a non-Chinese household makes for a fun experience. It’s an excuse for a party, a time to eat fun and interesting food and most importantly, an opportunity to learn something new about other cultures and their traditions.

Picture courtesy of partyshelf.com

 

So 2014 see’s in the Year of the Horse… my daughter’s favourite animal and so it’s extra exciting! The kids will be helping me to make some Dumplings, Spring Rolls and Wonton Soup (special thanks to a good friend, who taught me how to make all of these!!!). One thing that I love about the Chinese New Year celebrations are the meanings and significance behind serving the various types of foods. It is something to be planned and well thought out. We are opting for dumplings which signify family reunion (one which we have planned for October!), spring rolls which signify wealth since they resemble gold bullion (and we have to pay for said reunion) and wonton soup with pork which would signify strength, wealth and abundant blessing. Some other things for the table will be oranges which symbolise wealth and abundant happiness and peanuts in their shells which represent longevity in Chinese culture. For more “Symbolic Chinese New Year Foods” visit TLC or Nations online

Chinese New Year Foods

I found this recipe for San Choi Bau (Lettuce Boats) courtesy of Adora’s Box and it inspired me to experiment a little

San Choi Bau (Lettuce Boats) by Adora’s Box

As I am doing my best to stick to Gluten Free and also trying to include particular vegetables in my current eating plan, here is my version of Lettuce Boats (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 400 g lean minced Pork
  • 2 cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 courgette finely diced
  • 6 – 8 Shiitake mushrooms or 4 Portobello mushrooms finely diced
  • 1 red or yellow pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 chinese leaf cabbage or pointed cabbage finely diced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (preferably light soy sauce) (Gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated
  • Fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Gently fry the peppers, garlic and ginger in the olive oil, then add the mince and fry till starting to brown (5 – 7 minutes). Add the vegetables and stir fry till just cooked (3 – 4 minutes). Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and pepper to taste and serve with gem lettuce leaves and bean sprouts. Not authentic but very tasty and light (Oh, and lettuce symbolises prosperity, bean sprouts signify ‘to your hearts content’, Shiitake mushrooms signify sizing opportunities…)

Lettuce Cups

Lettuce Boats – my version!

I might have to think about including prawns for liveliness and noodles for longevity and perhaps melon for family unity… I can see an overflowing table come the 31st of January, what with all my New Years wishes!

A mini party wouldn’t be complete without some arts and crafts for the kids, so with some red and gold card, we’ll make some lanterns and decorate them with horse stencils in honour of it being the year of the horse! Some other ideas for fun crafts can be found at the following brilliant sites

Enjoy your Chinese New Year Celebrations

Cx

Something fishy…

I do enjoy eating fish, but where I am an adventurous cook with most foods, I am wary with fish. If cooked badly, it’s awful! With Insanity (as in the freakishly rigorous exercise programme) looming, I am getting to grips with their recommended eating plan and so have been working on some of the recipes. Here are a few that I have tried and really enjoyed… and that my kids have enjoyed too :)

Teriyaki Grilled Tuna – 295 calories; 36 g protein; 25 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat; 7.5 g fibre

  • 100 g Tuna Steak
  • 2 tbsp bottled, low-fat Teriyake sauce
  • 2/3 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup peas (Petits Pois)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup brown rice

Marinate tuna in Teriyake sauce. Grill tuna on both sides till done as you like. Serve with brown rice, wilted spinach and peas

Note: For gluten-free Teriyake sauce, it’s easy enough to make your own, although there are more companies now producing GF Varieties. Just be careful and read reviews. Check out About.com for a recipe for GF Teriyake sauce and also some thoughts on ready-made products. Another recipe for GF Teriyake sauce and how to vary it can be found at GFMagazine.com

Teriyaki Grilled Tuna

Teriyaki Grilled Tuna

Baked Mahi Mahi in red pepper marinade - 286 calories; 27 g protein; 28 g carbohydrates; 6 g fat; 4 g fibre

  • 100 g Mahi Mahi Steak
  • 2 tbsp Red pepper marinade (marinade contains sunflower oil, red pepper (18%), water, onions, white wine vinegar, parsley, Dijon Mustard, tomato purée, garlic, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, salt, turmeric)
  • 1 cup mixed carrots, corn and cauliflower

Baste Mahi Mahi in red pepper marinade, season and place on a baking tray. Bake in a hot oven (200 C) for 10 – 12 minutes or until it is cooked through. Served with a steamed vegetable medley

Feel free to use Cod or Pollock here (the calories are a little less), I just enjoy Mahi Mahi

IMG_9792

Prawn Cocktail Platter – 286 calories; 28 g protein; 33 g carbohydrates; 4 g fat; 3.5 g fibre

  • 100 g Raw Prawns, boiled and cooled
  • 2 tbsp cocktail sauce (extra light mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and French Dijon mustard to taste)
  • fresh lemon wedges
  • 1 whole wheat dinner roll
  • 1 cup mixed raw vegetables (carrots, peppers and cucumber)

Serve prawns with sauce and or lemon and have the roll and raw veggies on the side (Pic shows this packed for my daughters snack, hence the bear bento box!)

2014-01-15

I will definitely be adding these to our regular meals. They are all easy to prepare and tasty and of course, most importantly, healthy choices.

x

Tomato, split pea and pepper soup

So my little girl has a cold and in the interest of giving her something nutritious to eat that she can also manage with a stuffy nose, we made some hearty Tomato, Split Pea and Bell Pepper Soup … Its Gluten, Wheat and dairy Free too

Tomato, Split Pea and Pepper Soup in the making...

Tomato, Split Pea and Bell Pepper Soup in the making…

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 sweet bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 140 g Cubed pancetta
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes cut in half
  • 150 g yellow split peas
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 stick celery diced
  • 1 sweet potato diced
  • 6 spring onions diced
  • 1 garlic bulb (I used a smoked garlic bulb so we didn’t have to fry it first but you can use raw garlic too, just fry it with the carrots etc…)
  • 500 ml vegetable juice (I like Biona or James White Organic but you can use any that you prefer or just leave it out, but I think it would need a little bit of stock then)
  • 1 tin Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 L Boiling water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Dry Thyme
  • Olive Oil (approx 2 tbsp)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the pepper chunks, halved tomatoes and pancetta on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil (spray if you can so it’s light but covers the veg and pancetta) and sprinkle with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 min at 200C then turn the temp down to 150C and continue to roast for another 15 – 20 minutes. Just watch that the pancetta doesn’t become too crispy!
  • While the peppers are roasting, place the carrots, spring onions, sweet potato and celery into a pot with about a tbsp of olive oil and gently fry for about 10 minutes until you see the sweet potato start to soften around the edges. Season the mix with salt and pepper and add the thyme.
  • Add the split peas to the carrot mix with the vegetable juice, tin of tomatoes and water. The split peas need about 40 – 45 minutes to cook on a gentle simmer. When the peppers, pancetta and tomatoes are ready from the oven, add them straight to the soup mix and continue to cook until the split peas are done.
  • Puree the soup to the desired consistency and serve with gluten free crisp bread or anything you like really, or just have it on its own :)
  • If you want to keep this vegetarian, it tastes great without the pancetta too.
Tomato, Split Pea and Bell Pepper Soup

Tomato, Split Pea and Bell Pepper Soup

Kept us warm and full too

Cx

Waiting for Insanity

Since I turn the big 40 this year, I am determined to implement changes that I have been rattling on about for years but not following through on! So just to be sure that I give it a proper go, I have opted to try the Insanity Programme. My intention was to start last week but it seems that it is tougher to get hold of that I thought (loads of bods obviously have the same thoughts as I do :)) In any case, I am sitting here waiting for my DVD’s to be delivered and wondering how this is all going to go…

My husband has promised me a 10 day holiday in Mauritius to ring in my 40′s and so my goal is to make sure I can get there in a bikini! I don’t recall EVER wearing one but I am going with the motto of “it’s never too late to start” (So long as you have the body to do it justice!) and so while I sweat myself healthier, fitter and more toned, I am planning on dreaming of beaches, soft sands, beautiful sunshine and me in a bikini :)

Wish me luck

Cx

On the first Day Of Christmas…

Let the good times roll! Nothing like spending time with good friends, having some good food and even a few sips of Taittinger to turn a nothing day into a something something day! Had my first Christmas lunch today – my turn in the kitchen and even if I say so myself, it turned out great… the champers helped too ;) With Christmas Carols playing in the background and a festive spread to indulge in, there is absolutely no way to ignore the wonders of the festive season.

Awesome Foursome

From Left to Right: Rotchana, Richelle, Me, Michele

We are four friends who get together once a month for a meal served on a rotational basis at each of our homes. We are from different parts of the world and bring with us different backgrounds and influences and it really makes for a fun foodie experience. I have learned a lot from these lovely ladies and it has definitely made me up my game in the food stakes! It just so happened that I landed with the honour of hosting our December and therefore Christmas get-together! I think that I chopped and changed the menu at least a hundred times! So many choices of things to make and new things to try… my biggest challenge… weighing up the pros and cons of making something completely new but that I think will appeal to everyone or sticking to what I know and love! With it being Christmas, I decided to go with food that I love having at Christmas time with my family, because it elicits wonderful childhood memories and brings a sense of comfort and closeness at this time of year. We also agree to share some of the load, so the hostess is responsible for mains but guests will contribute starters, dessert and drinks at each occasion. So in the end, my menu played out like this…

Starters

Devilled Eggs

(courtesy of the lovely and sadly absent Michele J)

Mains

Stuffed Poussin with a wild mushroom and Madeira sauce

(stuffing – Bulgar Wheat, onions, mushrooms, pancetta, flaked almonds and Madeira)

Roasted carrots and parsnips

Brussel Sprouts with smoked pancetta, onions, sweet chestnuts and a dash of maple syrup

Devils on Horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon) and Pigs in Blankets (cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon)

Dessert

Pecan Pie with double cream!

(courtesy of the lovely Richelle D)

Drinks

Taittinger Brut Champagne

(courtesy of the lovely Rotchana M)

2013-12-09

I love my friends. If nothing else (well, there are loads of other things but that’s for another time …) they draw out my competitive nature and so there is the need to be sure to put on a decent spread, something to feast on, indulge in and enjoy! So, here’s to good food, good company and a happy festive season

Feeling full… and blessed

x