Monday, May 27, 2013

Recipe: Farfalle Genovese

A lot of people think that putting two starches together on a plate is a little weird. I suppose I do too in some cases- like when you see people have curry with rice AND chips- straaange! This is a classic traditional Italian recipe. It is called "Genovese", because pesto was originally invented in the italian town of Genoa. I often make my own home made pesto for this dish, but this time (because of me being good on my diet) i made this with Sainsburys Own "Light" pesto- and it was really nice actually- couldn't tell it was lowcal really! A traditional pesto is made with gurt loads of fresh basil, good olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic- if you fancy making your own. What's great about this too, as a student is that it is a one pot dish! Less washing up for Mel!

Farfalle Genovese (serves 1)

90g farfalle
125 small new potatoes, halved
80g French beans
50g green pesto (homemade or shop bought)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan and fresh basil for garnish (optional)

1. Cook the farfalle according to the packet instructions. 10 minutes before the farfalle is cooked, add the potatoes. 5 minutes before the end of cooking time add the green beans.
2. Drain, return to the pan, mix with the pesto, season to taste and serve- with parmesan and fresh basil for garnish if desired.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Recipe: Turkey Bolognese

Yummy- I love turkey so much! Cheap, tasty, and low in fat! Bit of a random recipe I suppose- I added butternut squash soup to it because I had some in a tupperware left in the fridge to use- gave it a really nice sweetness actually. Also some people think it might be odd to add chilli to a bolognese, but I remember when i had that masterclass with Marco Pierre White he added red chilli to his turkey bolognese- I suppose great mind's think alike, haha!! I have used farfalle as my pasta of choice- but go ahead and use whichever shape you fancy!

Turkey Bolognese (serves 4)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Knob of butter
1 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
Large handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp herbs du Provence
500g turkey mince
30g tomato puree
Splash of white wine
200g passata
200ml beef stock
100g butternut squash soup
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
400g pasta (of your preference!)
Fresh basil for garnish (optional)

1. Fry the red onion, garlic, chilli and parsley in the olive oil and butter for 5 minutes. Add the turkey and tomato paste, and cook on a high heat for about 10 minutes, or the mine is beginning to brown.

2.  Add the wine, let it bubble a little, and then add all the other ingredients. Simmer on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, and season to taste.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain and serve topped with the Bolognese sauce, garnishing with fresh basil if desired.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Diet: Slim Fast- a Dietary Review.

Hey guys! So due to being very overworked over the last two months, with numerous essays, revising, and rather traumatic exams! Over that time, I definitely did not have time to exercize, and i've got to admit i was fairly lazy when it came to healthy eating. I drank a bit too much booze, to combat the stress, ate a fair amount of junk food, and to help work/study, I drank a hell of a lot of energy drinks. So, in order to lose a certain amount of weight, I thought i would try a diet- but be a professional nutritionist about it (as i am), and write a report of my experiences. I have decided to do a diet trail on the Slimfast Diet plan. Like any nutritional report, it is important to look at the previous medical success of these sorts of diets. Here are 5 medical journal reports regarding the success of Slim-Fast and other similar "Meal Replacement" based diets:

Truby et al (2006) "Randomised controlled trial of four commercial weight loss programmes in the UK: initial findings from the BBC "diet trials""- This was a six month trial studying the effect of Slim-fast, Weight watchers, Atkins, and Rosemary Conley diet plans. The conclusion of this study that was that successful weight/fat loss can be achieved in adults following commercial diet plans for a substantial period. Average weight loss was 13 pounds over 6 months, which doesnt seem a lot-but on average 9,7 of those pounds were fat, which shows these diets seem to be quite successfull in improving fat/muscle ratio.

Ditschuneit et al (1999) "Metabolic and weight-loss effects of a long-term dietary intervention in obese patients"- This was a 3 month and 24 month study based on those following the Slimfast program. After 3 months, 7.1% of total body weight+ 7.7 pounds was the average weight loss. (If i based this on myself, in 3 months I would lose 16.9 pounds in three months). After the three month study, up until the 24 months patients lost a further 0.07% body weight every month. Over the study, the obese patients also had also improved their blood pressure and insulin response.

Heber et al (1994) "Clinical evaluation of a minimal intervention meal replacement regimen for weight reduction"- Around 250 participants were involved in a 12 week weight loss study, wherein the average weight loss was about 10% of total body weight, (with an average 13.8 pound loss over the study period). This study also showed an improvement in hypertension (high blood pressure) and insulin response. It was noted that meal replacement diets advantages include low cost and minimal professional dietary intervention.

Rothacker et al (2001) "Liquid meal replacement vs traditional food: A potential model for women who cannot maintain eating habit change"- In a study of 64 women, the group on the slimfast diet lost much more weight than the control group, and there was a decrease in total fat mass. Over 12 weeks, there was a loss of 6.3% of total body weight + 1.5 pounds.

Ditschuneit et al (2001) "Value of Structured Ready Meals for weight management: Risk Factors and Long Term Weight Maintainance" A 3 month, and 4 year weight loss study, using Slimfast. Very much a long term study, people following the diet lost weight over the three month period (about 17.2 pounds and 0.5% of total body weight). Cholesterol was also reduced, and the conclusion of the study was that meal replacement diets had a postitive long-term effect on dietary disease risks.

So there you go! Rather a lot of studies claiming that Slimfast, or "meal replacement" diets, are quite successful in weight loss, as well as long-term health effects. I intend to be on this diet (replacing two of my meals with Slimfast shakes or bars, snacking only on fruit, veg, or "slimfast" snacks, and eating a well balanced under 600kcal meal) for 2 weeks, or more, depending on how successful the diet is. I have about 11/12 pounds to lose to my goal weight, and would like to achieve this around 5 weeks. In the meantime, i will review information regarding this diet, and post up healthy "under 600kcal" meals that i consume whilst on the diet.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Recipe: Chicken Chop Suey

This is as close as I could darn-well get to one of my favourite chinese takeaway dishes! I think it's a good stir fry dish, because i swear whenever you buy beansprouts, unless you use them all at once, they go off far too quickly. I think supermarkets really ought to sell them in smaller packets. Eh, they're cheap anyway i suppose, but i really hate food waste! Cornflour/cornstarch gives that strange thickness you get in takeaway food that some people dislike, but I love! I had this with red pepper thai rice, but it's very nice mixed into egg noodles too.

Chicken Chop Suey (serves 4)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
8 spring onions, sliced
3 chicken breasts, sliced
8 garlic cloves (and/or garlic powder to taste!)
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 tsp minced ginger
½ tsp celery salt
400ml chicken stock
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with water
200g beansprouts
1 tin water chestnuts, drained, rinsed and sliced
1 tin bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
Soy sauce and pepper to taste

1. Fry the spring onions, garlic, chicken, chilli and ginger for 5 minutes. Add the beansprouts and celery salt and cook for a further 2 minutes.
2. Add all the other ingredients and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste and serve!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Recipe: Spicy Chicken Arrabbiata Pasta Bake

The spicy chicken pasta bake- what a canteen staple! This would knock the socks off anything any of the dinner ladies cooked for us at school though! It is just the most delicious thing, it really is. Feel free to make it spicier, by adding chilli flakes and another fresh red chilli- i've only used 2 because as you guys know i'm a bit of a spicy wimp! I have served this with a pea shoot, tomato and red onion salad- a very nice accompaniment.

Spicy Chicken Arrabbiata Pasta Bake (serves 2)
1 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
2 red chillies, diced finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chicken breast, diced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
100g diced green olives
300ml beef stock
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
170g farfalle
50g breadcrumbs
4 tbsp grated parmesan.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Fry the chicken, chillies and garlic in the butter and olive oil for 6 minutes. Add all the other ingredients (except pasta, breadcrumbs and parmesan) and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.
2.Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Mix the pasta into the sauce, season to taste, and pour into a baking dish. Top with the breadcrumbs and parmesan, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Recipe: Crispy Buttermilk Chicken, with Tomato and Chive Bulgur Wheat

This recipe is great for those who are allergic to egg, as normally one would put the chicken in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs. Using buttermilk is a great way of keeping chicken moist and flavourful, whilst still creating a nice golden crispy crust on top! Kentucky Fried Chicken eat your heart out, ha-ha!! The bulgur is a very pleasant, tasty and healthy accompaniment to the chicken too. I have garnished my plate with a handful of pea shoots (because I love them!) but feel free to serve this meal with your favourite salad/ green veg. 

Crispy Buttermilk Chicken, with Tomato and Chive Bulgur wheat (serves 4)

The Chicken
4 chicken breasts
120g plain flour
140ml buttermilk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp celery salt
150g dry breadcrumbs
¼ tsp garlic powder
Salt and cracked black pepper

The Bulgur wheat
300g bulgur wheat
900ml beef stock
1 tsp tomato paste
4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
Large handful fresh chives, diced
Splash red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Get three deep plates. Put plain flour on one plate, put the buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce and celery salt (mixed) on one plate, and the breadcrumbs with garlic powder and seasoning on the other.
2. Coat the chicken breasts first in the flour, then in the buttermilk, and then into the breadcrumbs. Place onto an ovenproof tray, and repeat for the other chicken breasts. Place tray in the oven for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the bulgur wheat in the beef stock until the wheat is cooked, and all the stock has been absorbed (add more water during the cooking process if necessary). Put into a mixing bowl, and mix with the tomato paste, tomatoes, chives, vinegar and seasoning.
4. Remove the chicken from the oven, and serve with the bulgur wheat, and a green salad on the side if desired.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Recipe: Miso Roast Beef, with Garlicky New Potatoes, and an Onion Gravy

A proper nice roast beef dinner!! Nomnomnom! It sounds very unusual to incorporate miso paste into a traditionally english meal- and to be honest I wasn't sure it was going to work- BUT MY GOD YES IT DOES!!! It gives the beef the most scrumtiously savoury flavour, and the smell of it cooking whilst it's in the oven is divine!! I reccomend to cook the beef for 50 minutes for medium. I overcooked this a little when I first made it actually, because the packet told me 1 hour 30 for rare, Delia reccomended 1 hour 10 minutes (for rare) but after 1 hour, it was medium/well! I guess trusting your own judgement with these sort of things is best! I would say this serves 3, but it depends how large your roast dinner portions get! I myself am a roast supersizeser, I practically use those large Toby Carvery plates and always go up for seconds, haha!!

Roast beef, with the perfect gravy, and garlic roasted new potatoes (serves 3)
1.1kg silverside beef joint
1 tbsp white miso paste
2 celery sticks, diced
½ white onion, diced
1 pint water
1 bay leaf
Pinch Garlic salt
Salt and pepper
1 tsp duck fat
1 pint water

300g small new potatoes, halved
3 tbsp duck fat
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp garlic salt
Black pepper

1 tbsp wild garlic butter (or just use 1 tbsp butter + 1 garlic clove)
½ white onion, sliced
Pinch sugar
2 tbsp plain flour.
100ml white wine
Liquid from the beef
300-600ml beef stock
Pinch herbs du Provence
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the onions, celery, bay leaf and water In a roasting dish. Smother the beef all over with the miso. Put the beef on top of the vegetables, season with garlic, salt and pepper, and put in the oven for 50 minutes, basting half way through.

2. Meanwhile, boil the new potatoes for 5 minutes. Drain, allow to cool a little, and mix with the liquid duck fat, rosemary, garlic and pepper. Put on a roasting tray in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, until crisp.

3. Remove the beef from the oven, and from the roasting tray, and put covered on a plate for 5-10 minutes, to rest. Drain (and keep) the liquid from the beef roasting dish. Discard the celery/onion.

4. In a saucepan, cook the onions and sugar in the butter until it is caramelised. Stir in the flour, add the wine, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the beef liquid, stock, and herbs, and cook on a high heat until thickened (use more flour, mixed with water, to thicken it further if necessary).

5. Carve the beef, and serve with the hot roasted potatoes, gravy, and whichever veg desired.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Recipe: BBQ Beef Chilli Dawgs!

Love these!!! When American food is done properly, it is just the best! High in fat, not generally very good for you, but the perfect kinda food to fill you up, or line your stomach ready for a big night out on the town! I'd love to have my own american themed restaurant or something- call it "Mel's Diner" and it would have all sorts of yummy dishes like home made burgers, decent juicy steaks, meatloaf, malt shakes and Cherry pies and things- so retro and cool! I tend to eat two, but if you are particularly hungry/greedy go ahead and have three. Use whichever sausages are your favourite, I like to use Linda McCartney veggie sausages for this recipe personally.

BBQ Beef Chilli Cheese “Dawgs”! (serves 4)

50g wild garlic butter (or 50g butter + 2 cloves garlic)
2 banana shallots, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced finely
2 celery sticks, diced finely
4 rashers smoked bacon, diced finely
2 tsp dried rosemary
500g beef mince, preferably organic
500g passata
2 tbsp sundried tomato paste or pesto
2 rounded tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp barbeque sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Few drops toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp dark brown or Demerara sugar
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper to taste

8 sausages, cooked.
8 white floury rolls.
120g grated cheddar

1. Fry the shallots, carrot, celery, bacon and rosemary in the butter for 5 minutes.  Brown the mince for a further 10 minutes.

2. Add all the other ingredients and cook on a low heat for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. Put the sausages in the rolls, and top with the chilli, and grated cheese.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Recipe: University Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Tagine!

Hey guys. So this recipe i've written up here is causing me the biggest amount of stress at the moment! Me, and my friends Jack and Kelly (Kelly took the lovely piccys!) as part of a University module had to create a low budget, healthy convenience meal, suitable for a standard range at a UK supermarket. We are having to write up a 4000 word report about it's development for next friday- eep!! At the end of it all, we found that a portion of the product supplies you with 2 portions of your 5 a day fruit and veg, it has high fibre, high protein, low in saturated fat and provides a 1/4 of your vitamin C and folic R.D.A. So to summarise, it tastes pretty darn good, and it's also pretty darn good for you too- and thank god I don't have to reference a medical journal just to write this post down, haha!!
Chicken and Chickpea Tagine (serves 2- makes 860g)
20g olive oil
100g chopped white onions
10g minced garlic
10g minced ginger
250g raw diced chicken breast
4g ground cumin
3g cinnamon
4g ground coriander
25g tomato puree
6.5g vegetable stock powder (low sodium)
300ml water
150g chickpeas
5g cornflour, mixed with 15ml water
15ml lemon juice
40g diced apricots
25g red pepper
25g green pepper

1. Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil, for 5 minutes, covered. Add the chicken, spices, and tomato puree, and fry for a further 4 minutes.
2. Add all the other ingredients, and cook on a medium heat for a further 15 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Uncover, and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring often.
3. Serve, with our serving suggestion of buttered couscous.