Monday, 14 April 2014 - , , , , , , , , 0 comments

Easter Bento Boxes!


Every year, I try to come up with a funky idea for Easter.
I've been longing for an excuse to buy some of these brightly coloured egg boxes in the supermarket, so my gorgeous
Easter Bento Boxes
gave me a great reason to do so!

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A bento box is a traditional Japanese selection of edible goodies packed beautifully into little boxes in single portion sizes. Some are simple, some very ornate.

I've come up with my own version especially for Easter- a savoury one, a sweet one and a mixed one.
You can go to as much or as little effort as you wish with these-I've used shop-bought dips, little crackers, fruit, vegetables, sweets and treats.
You could use homemade dips, make tiny little sandwiches-whatever takes your fancy. Just try to make them colourful and vibrant and you can't really go wrong!

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All of my Easter Bento Boxes work out to between 5-7pp/approx.230-320kcal per box-much less than most Easter eggs and much more fun!

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YOU WILL NEED


Colourful egg boxes.

(You could use plain ones and decorate them with pens or washi tape. (My favourite!)


Colourful plastic eggs.

These were from The Works and cost £1 for a pack of six eggs.
I washed them thoroughly in hot soapy water and left them to dry on paper towels. 
Six eggs are enough for two boxes as you use both halves separately.


Fluffy easter chicks.

I would say these are optional but I don't really believe it. They are so cute and an absolute necessity! 
This whole box was £2 from The Works.

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Simply pop the clean, dry plastic egg halves into the egg boxes. Try and use a variety of colours in each one.

***

The Savoury One


Take a selection of goodies and decide what you are going to fill your little egg-shapes with.


I weighed the dips into the egg containers. Just pop the whole box onto your scales, recalibrate back to zero and dollop in the dips. The plastic egg containers I used held 30g of dip.


These lovely Tesco Healthy Living dips worked out to 1pp per 30g portion.


Add veggie sticks, slices of mini peppers and for a Springtime look, some chives and fresh mint.



If you have the time, decorate the lid of the egg box with washi/decorative tape and a couple of cheeky chicks!
The lid won't close fully once you've filled the boxes, but still look inviting and amazing like this.


I used:

30g Roasted Garlic Dip 1pp
30g Coronation Dip 1pp
30g Beetroot Dip 1pp
1/2 bag of  Tesco Vegetable Crackers 2pp
Fresh veggies; cucumber, carrot & peppers

TOTAL: 5pp/approx.230kcal

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The Sweet One


Repeat the process with sweet treats and plenty of fruit.


You could make some little washi tape flags using cocktail sticks. These look gorgeous and also help to pick out the grapes and marshmallows-especially if you fill one of your containers with fruity yoghurt for dipping.
The flag picks make it more fun to eat too!


Egg boxes have perfectly-positioned holes to pop the flags into! It reminds me of a little sand castle.
Note the funky carrot-shaped paper napkins in the background! These were from Tesco's Easter range.


Decorate the outside of the box.

I used:

1 box mini smarties 2pp
1 mini packet iced gems 3pp
10g mini marshmallows 1pp
Fresh fruit;mango, grapes, strawberries

TOTAL: 6pp/approx.300kcal

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The Mixed One


If you prefer, you can pop a mixture of savoury and sweet goodies in one box together...snack followed by pudding!


I used:

30g Beetroot dip 1pp
30g Coronation dip 1pp
1/2 bag Tesco Vegetable crackers 2pp
1 small bag Malteasers 3pp
Fresh fruit and veg

TOTAL: 7pp/approx.320kcal

***



Remember, you can make these to fit in with any aspect of the plan you are following by using appropriate ingredients! 

Have fun and Happy Easter to you all.

Saturday, 12 April 2014 - 2 comments

USEFUL STUFF : Potato Ricer


I like to think of myself as a pretty competent home cook but there are a couple of things I still struggle with...well, I tell a lie-I've finally mastered poached eggs (vinegar in the water!)
But mashed potato?-I make the lousiest textured mash you've ever seen!

That was until I discovered the potato ricer.
This simple tool has restored my reputation as Mrs.Slice-of-Slim as now I can finally make a smooth mash!


Actually, I've had this a while but had forgotten about it and found it lurking at the back of one of my kitchen cupboards recently.
You can buy them from many kitchen outlets and supermarkets.
They usually start at about £10-12.



I find that in a low-fat recipe where I'm not using lashings of butter and milk to help the texture of the mash, this is why I struggle.
But this giant garlic-press style tool turns cooked potatoes into a lovely, smooth consistency which you can then add some low fat spread, skimmed or soya milk to -even some quark, light cream cheese or cottage cheese to add the creaminess back in.


Seasoned with lashings of black pepper, dried herbs and garlic granules no one would ever know that it was once a struggle!

***

Mash perfection. 
Wednesday, 9 April 2014 - , , , , , 1 comments

SMASH & GRAB : Tesco Spicy Lentil & Chickpea Dip topped Mushrooms


I've had a really busy week and it's only Wednesday!
I haven't had much time to plan ahead or prepare meals. Thinking about food prep and propointing can be time-consuming, so sometimes it's handy to have food in the fridge that does all the work for you.

***

There's nothing wrong with using convenience foods to help you save time, especially if you know they're packed full of great ingredients.


This yummy

Tesco Healthy Living
Spicy Lentil & Chickpea Dip

fits into this category perfectly and even has the propoints worked out for you on the packaging!

It's only 2pp/81kcal for quarter of the pot, made with an interesting combination of ingredients and tastes fab too. 
If I had to describe the taste, I'd say it's a little like a vegetarian coronation chicken flavour with a houmous texture.

***


I spread a serving onto large raw mushrooms, added a few chopped chives, a grind of black pepper and hey presto!
An instant, filling little snack.

I often use raw mushrooms in this way-they have a great texture and you save a huge amount on propoint/calorie-laden crackers or toast!

You could even go the whole hog and dollop with 15g of mango chutney for an extra 1pp/40kcal

***

Mushroom magic. 
Friday, 4 April 2014 - , , 0 comments

Eating Out : Pho Restaurants


I love being a food blogger.
It is a creative and inspiring process and I never want to do anything else with my life!

One of the unexpected aspects I love about it is that there is the most amazing foodie social network out there-not just with other bloggers, but with brands and restaurants.
I'm building relationships with some inspirational companies and one of these is a small group of restaurants called Pho.

They contacted me a few weeks ago as they love Slice-of-Slim, and invited me to sample some of their low-fat dishes.
They even have all their nutritional information on their website now-fantastic!
You can view it HERE 
This means that you can work out the propoints and see the calories before you even get there-which is exactly what I did!



***

Pho opened its first restaurant in Clerkenwell in 2005 as London's first Vietnamese street food restaurant.
It's family run, small, informal and serves great value, deliciously healthy and authentically prepared Vietnamese food.

They now have 9 restaurants in London, one in Brighton and one in Leeds.

***

As someone living the WeightWatchers plan on a daily basis, when eating out it is so refreshing to experience wonderful, freshly prepared food which is both filling and economical on propoints/calories.
It makes a real change to try somewhere new that is not just another one of the large chains. If you find yourself in any of the areas where there is a Pho restaurant, I can highly recommend it.

***

I went to the Soho branch on Wardour Street.


As with all Pho restaurants, it's an informal, cafe-style atmosphere. You can't book, so you just walk in off the street.
It is popular so unless you mind waiting, try and choose less busy times. This particular branch is open from 12-11pm every day and 12-10pm on Sundays. The branches vary so check the website HERE before you visit.


The manageress, Magda gave me a warm welcome and sat me down in a sunny table by the window-perfect for taking photos.
She allocated me top waiter, Troydan, who was not only enthusiastic about the food but extremely knowledgeable and was able to advise me on certain dishes and how to eat them. Even though I'd been to a Pho restaurant in Brighton before, it was great to be recommended dishes I may not have tried otherwise. 

***


While I was perusing the menu, I ordered a fragrant jasmine flowering tea. Now, some real tea connoisseurs may say this is a gimmick but I'm a real sucker for these hand-tied pretty tea balls that, on contact with water, open up before your very eyes to form this beautiful work of art in a cup!


I started with a portion of

Tender Fried Crispy Squid

This is one of my favourite dishes.
Even though us weight-conscious foodies tend to shy away from the fried stuff, this generous starter worked out to only 5pp/196kcal, which was worth every morsel.
It cost £6.50.


Troyden advised me to squeeze the lime juice into the chilli and pepper mixture...


...then mix with chop sticks and either use as a dipping sauce...


..or pour over the crispy squid.
Hot, crisp, spicy, pungent- if I could live on this dish for the rest of my life, I honestly would!

***


I also ordered these

Fresh Rice Paper Summer Rolls

They come in Veggie, Prawn or Chicken options. I went for the prawn.
These were only 3pp/115kcal for the whole, generous portion.
This dish cost £4.75


I tried both dipping sauces-sweet chilli and peanut which are 2pp/70kcal per dish but I used a really small amount.
I'd charge 1pp/40kcal extra for the sauce if you use sparingly.

The Summer rolls are cold, deliciously refreshing and so fresh. Not only were they stuffed with succulent prawns but also with generous strips of julienned carrot, cucumber and fresh mint-amazing!

If I had known how large my main dish was going to be, then one starter would definitely have been plenty!
These work very well as sharing dishes.

***



The Vietnamese salads all sounded incredible-I really didn't know which to choose. So the lovely Troydan advised me to try the

Shredded Chicken Salad with Asian Herbs, Peppers & Ginger Dressing

This was 6pp/219kcal including the dressing.
It cost £6.75-amazing value for a main course.
As I chatted to him, I could see that he was a real foodie-and, like me, into flavours, textures and contrasts, so I also took his advice and ordered some

Stir-Fried Water Spinach in Garlic.

I called this 1pp as I only needed to charge for the oil. It's 172kcal but you could easily share this dish with someone else.
It cost £5.95

 I would never have thought to order the spinach but this hot side dish with the cold salad was the most incredible combination! 


I thought I made a tall 'Pile-it-High' salad, but this beats mine hands down! 
This is a dish I am definitely going to recreate for the blog sometime soon.
The salad was tasty, zingy, crunchy, soft...


 ...and the spinach was toasty and warm with sesame and garlic flavours-AWESOME!

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I couldn't finish everything as I over-ordered, but I hope you can see that you can eat extremely well here without using huge amounts of your daily propoint/calorie allowance. You walk away feeling full but in the knowledge that the food is full of fresh ingredients and prepared from scratch just for you.
It's so healthy, low-fat and delicious.


Before I sign off, I just want to highly recommend another dish that I have had on a previous visit to Pho.


Vietnamese Noodle Soup

(a.k.a Pho-hence the name of the restaurant)
is a meal in itself...It's a clear broth containing noodles and the filling of your choice- brisket, steak, meatballs, chicken, prawns or vegetables. It's served with an array of fresh herbs and vegetables which you add into the soup-an interactive and fabulous eating experience!

Chicken Noodle Soup
(shown above)
is 10pp/397kcal and costs £7.95.

Infact, I was so exhilarated when I ate this dish that I created my own, inspired by my trip to Pho in Brighton a couple of years ago.


(Click HERE for the recipe)

***

I have to say that Pho is one of my most favourite restaurants to visit. It's casual, buzzy, reasonably priced and so healthy it's almost too good to be true-but it's real and I can't wait to go back!

***

Pholiscious.

As
Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - , , 1 comments

Cupboard Love: Tesco Healthy Living Spiced Butternut with Fruity Pilaf & Feta


After my post on the Tesco Healthy Living launch last week
(Click HERE)
I've decided to review some of my favourite products from the range on a regular basis.

This Spicy Butternut with Fruity Pilaf & Feta is one of their
Beautifully Balanced dishes.
It comes with a sumac and yoghurt dip.
It cost £3.25 and has 9pp/349kcals per pack.

***

Although I love cooking from scratch and using fresh ingredients, even I have the odd day when I'm too tired or busy to make a meal. So I thought I'd give this vegetarian dish a try.
I have a few little tricks up my sleeve when using supermarket ready meals...


Cook according to the packaging but always take care to present it attractively in a proper dish.
It seems much more homemade this way!


Serve it how you like it-instead of using the yoghurt as a dipping sauce as shown on the packaging, I drizzled mine over the hot meal-enhancing the melted, creamy feta and complimenting the soft butternut squash.


Have a taste but never be afraid to jazz up a ready meal to your personal taste. This dish was delicious but I wanted mine with a kick so I added a little chilli sauce!


Garnish with a few fresh herbs...and if you're really hungry, bulk out the meal with a load of wilted spinach!

***

My verdict: filling, delicious, great textures, loved the melted feta-very 'homemade' tasting- a definite yes from me!

***

Tescoliscious

April Fool's Brekkie!


When I was little, my Mum once sat me down to what I thought was a boiled egg in an egg cup for my breakfast. She told me they were special eggs and I could eat the shell! I started to cry because it looked just like a real egg and I didn't want to eat the shell-but of course, it was a chocolate-filled sugar-coated egg and it was April Fool's Day!

***



Well, I have used real egg shells for my April Fool's Brekkie-but they are just the containers for a little Total 0% Fat Greek yoghurt and some of my homemade Lemon Curd.
(Click HERE for the recipe)
 Served with some cinnamon toast fingers, you could have some fun kidding unexpected family or friends for breakfast on
April 1st!

***

My idea works out to 5pp/approx.200kcal but if you choose different bread or shop-bought lemon curd, you'll have to adjust the values.

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To make the cinnamon toast, simply cut a Warburton's Squareish wrap into strips. Spray with Frylight oil then sprinkle with cinnamon and a little artificial sweetener before baking at 200C/400/F/Gas6 for 10 minutes until crisp.
(You could use any bread of your choice-or WeightWatchers Brown Danish/Warburtons brown sandwich thins if on SimpleStart/Filling&Healthy).



If you want the egg to look realistic, you just need to build it up carefully...
Fill the egg shell with Total 0% fat Greek yoghurt almost to the top. Leave a little space.



Smooth it flat with a knife and make a little well in the centre.



Carefully add about a teaspoonful of lemon curd.



Using a knife, spread a little more yoghurt right to the top of the shell to enclose the yolk-it just looks more realistic if you do this.



Serve to your unsuspecting victims, stand back and await the response!
It is really yummy too!

***

April Fooliscious