Sunday, May 22, 2011

Healthy Eating

Today am giving some low-fat recipes that can suit any occasion. Some can be made in 'bulk' to keep in the fridge to bring out when there is a need to ;snack'. More recipes will be given over the next few days.

The first recipe today makes a light meal, but can equally be counted as a 'snack' (depending upon the size of the portion). If intending to eat 'some now, some later', then best to add the fish to the salad when serving. The cooked (or canned) fish and the salads can be prepared then kept in separate containers in the fridge ready to mix and match.
Sweet and Sour Fish Salad: serves 4
8 oz (225g) cooked white fish
8 oz (225g) cooked salmon or trout OR...
...use canned salmon or tuna
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and shredded
4 oz (100g) pineapple chunks (pref fresh)
1 bunch watercress, long stalks removed
1 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
pinch of chilli powder (or a good dash Tabasco)
1 tsp runny honey
salt and pepper to taste
Flake the fish and place into a bowl with the spring onions, lemon zest, pineapple and bell pepper. Make the dressing by mixintg the oil, lemon juice, chilli powder and honey together, adding seasoning to taste. If you like the dressing 'hot' add Tabasco.
Wash and drain watercress. Place on a serving platter and pile the fish mixture on top, pouring over the dressing. Or keep cress, fish mix, and dressing separate and put the dish together when snack is needed. Should be eaten up within a couple of days. Always keep chilled.

Another 'make-ahead' dish that can be eaten as a main course, or dipped into as a 'snack' is one made with pasta. These can be any pasta shapes, and ideally (because of the fibre) brown pasta has the edge when it comes to healthy eating. As artichoke hearts are not on everyone's shelves (certainly not on mine), suggest instead using lightly cooked mange-tout peas and baby sweetcorn - or maybe even cooked cubed butternut squash. Whatever vegetable takes your fancy.
Although a vegetarian dish, adding canned and flake tuna (in brine) helps to fill a few corners - as all protein is 'satisfying' .
Pasta Provencale: serves 4
8 oz (225g) pasta penne (or other shapes)
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 oz (25g) pitted black olives, chopped
1 oz (25g) sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and chopped
4 oz (100g) raw baby courgettes, trimmed and sliced
4 oz (100g) tiny plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 x 450g can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
4 oz (100g) mixed salad leaves
4 tblsp passata (sieved tomatoes)
2 tblsp low-fat creme fraiche or Greek yogurt
1 tblsp orange juice
1 handful young basil leaves, shredded
Cook the pasta as per packet instructions, but don't over-cook. It should still be 'al dente' (having a bit of a 'bite ' in the centre.) Drain well and return to the pan, and stir in the oil, seasoning to taste (omit the salt if you wish,, the olives and the sun-dried tomatoes. Leave to cool. In a separate dish mix together the courgettes, plum tomatoes and artichokes.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together then assemble the dish. Fold the courgette mixture into the pasta mixture, and add the dressing - tossing the lot together. Arrange the salad leaves on a serving platter and spoon the pasta/courgette/dressing mixture on top.
If wishing to serve as a 'snack', keep the pasta, courgettes and dressing 'mixtures' separate then make the sih up as needed.

For this next dish always use freshly cooked (or vacuum packed) beetroot. Do not use beetroot that has been near vinegar as this will completely spoils the flavour.
Thrifty cooks will save the orange peel either in cup form (to use as containers - as mentioned in an earlier posting) or to make candiend peel. Or the zest removed to use as flavouring. Can be frozen to use later when decided.
Beetroot and Orange Salad: serves 4
8 oz (225g) long-grain rice
4 large oranges
1 lb (450g) cooked beetroot, peeled
2 heads chicory or Little Gem lettuce
salt and pepper to taste
snipped chives or chopped mint/parsley
4 tblsp low-fat yogurt or creme fraiche
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tblsp whole-grain mustard
half tsp grated orange zest
2 tsp runny honey
Cook the rice until tender, then drain and set aside to cool down. If not using immediately chill as rapidly as possible (the quickest way is to spread out in a thin layer on a shallow baking sheet, and flap with a piece of card, then put the rice in the fridge. When cold, put in a bowl, cover and chill. Use within 24 hours.
Slice off the top and bottom of the oranges, then slice down to remove all the peel and pith. Hold the ball of flesh over a bowl and slide a sharp knife down the side of a segment, turning the knife to slide under and along the other side to release it. Once all segements have been removed, squeeze the ball of membranes in your and so that the remaining juice drops over the segments. Cover and leave to chill in the fridge until required.
Sliced the cooked and peeled beetroot fairly thickly and then cut each slice into cubes. Cover and also leave to chill.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together, and leave this in the fridge until needed.
To make the salad, drain the juice from the orange segments and stir this into the cooled rice, adding seasoning to taste. Spread the chicory or lettuce leaves over a serving platter and top with the cubed beetroot and orange segments. Either spoon the dressing over the top and garnish with the chopped hersb, or just add the garnish and serve the dressing separately.
Red Hot Momma Slaw: serves 4
half a small red cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, grated
2 red apples, skins on, flesh finely diced then tossed in...
...1 tblsp lemon juice
1 red onion, grated
1 large cooked red beetroot, peeled
4 oz (100g) Edam cheese, grated
2 mild (or hot) Peppadew, diced (opt)
3 tblsp low-fat mayonnaise
3 tblsp Greek or low-fat yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp paprika pepper
1 - 2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
pinch cayenne pepper (opt)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the cabbage, carrot, onion and apple together. Fold in the cheese, and - when ready to serve , and if 'appearance' matters - add the beetroot after the salad has been dressed. Mixed in at the same time as the other veggies, the beetroot juice tends to stain them all red. Not that this matters in the least, the dish will taste just as good. Adding it separately is more for the appearance of the dish than for any other reason. Mix all the dressing ingredients together, start with a small amount of chilli then add more if you wish for more 'heat', remembering that cayenne also is a 'hot' pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss together. Cover and leave to chill for about an hour before serving to allow flavours to develop.

Penultimate recipe can be served either as a dip or a pate to spread on crispbread. Contains protein, so - as said before - will make a 'satisfying' snack. Fat content is low due to lean meats being used. This is a very good dish to make when we have scraps of chicken pulled from the carcase, and oddments of home-cooked ham left after carving. This pate can also be made using peeled cooked prawns, or canned fish such as salmon, tuna or crab meat.
Chicken and Ham Pate: serves 4
8 oz (225g) cooked lean chicken,
4 oz (100g) cooked ham
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
grated zest of 1 lime (could use lemon)
2 tblsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
1 clove garlic, grushed
4 - 5 fl oz (125ml) low-fat creme fraiche or yogurt
salt and pepper
Dice the cooked chicken and ham and place in a food processor. Add the parsley, citrus zest, and the garlic, then blitz until finely chopped. Can also chop the lot together by hand. Put into a bowl and stir in the lime (or lemon) juice and the creme fraiche/yogurt. Season to taste, then cover and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving. Either eat spread on crispbread or melba toast, or as a dip - by scooping up with tortilla chips.

And so we come to today's final recipe. This time a 'sweet treat', yet still low fat and healthy with it. When made these can be stored for up to four days in an airtight tin, but to avoid temptation, worth freezing in sealed bags where they can happily stay hidden for up to 3 months.
We don't normally snack because we are hungry, it's usually either from habit or because we 'fancy' something at that moment, so 'waiting to thaw' will often prevent us eating when the urge comes upon us. Suggest removing one muffin from the freezer early in the day (but never more than one) to thaw and either eat later or - if strong willed enough - can be eaten the following day.
Yummy Fruit Muffins: makes 10
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour (pref wholemeal)
2 tsp baking powder (1 if using white flour)
1 oz (25g) light muscovado sugar)
4 oz (100g) no-soak apricots, finely chopped
1 smallish banana
1 tblsp orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
half pint (300ml) skimmed milk
1 egg, beaten
3 tblsp sunflower or corn oil
2 tblsp porridge oats (opt)
Sift the flour and baking powder together, adding any coarse bits that remain in the sieve, then stir in the sugar and the apricots.
Mash the banana with the orange juice, and then mix this into the milk, sest, egg and oil. Pour this 'wet' into the 'dry' (flour, sugar etc), and mix together to make a thick batter. Like any muffin recipe, do not overmix.
Line muffin tins with 10 paper muffin cases (or place the paper cases side by side in a deep baking (roasting) tin, and divide the mixture between each case, leaving space at the top for them to rise.
Sprinkle top with the oatmeal (if using) and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 25 - 30 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch, then remove from tin/tray and leave to cool (still in their paper cases).
These are good served warm with a little honey drizzled over. Muffins can be reheated for a few seconds in a microwave, but they also taste good even when eaten cold. As anything sweet gives us the urge to eat more, perhaps best to avoid the honey unless the tip about thawing only one at a time has been taken.