SOMETHING FOR NOTHING : Aubergine 'Noodles'


It never ceases to amaze me when inspiration strikes...it can come from the most obscure places!
I've been trying to find a way to make zero-propointed 'noodles' out of aubergines for some time now, without much joy. My julienne peeler doesn't cut through the spongy flesh... and I didn't want short ones made from the length of a standard aubergine....I wanted long, bendy 'noodles' - like proper udon-style!


Having put the idea on hold for a while, I was struck with a EUREKA moment last week! My husband showed me this photo he had taken on a trip to a Romanian wood-veneering factory. The trees are placed at the top of this huge cutter and are sliced thinly to form the long wooden sheets or veneers.
This is what gave me the idea!


Try to buy long-shaped aubergines for a start.
Cut the gnarly top off.


Using a sharp, medium-sized knife, angle the knife and start to slice in a spiral. Try to keep the thickness even. Keep cutting for as long as you can without the piece of aubergine breaking. 


Make as many long spiral slices as you can.


Lay each piece out flat.
(Use the ones with skin too).


Roll up tightly from one end.


Cut the spiral into slices the thickness you require.


Each spiral can now be unfurled to form a perfect mock udon 'noodle'!!!


Slice any remaining aubergine.


Cut the slices into strips.


They will blend in with the long ones when cooked.


Stir-fry simply in some Frylight oil with a little crushed garlic, coriander, spring onions and low salt soy sauce.


The 'noodles' can be served like this as a side dish, or mixed with other vegetables in a delicious stir-fry.
They also make a wonderful accompaniment to any seafood, chicken or beef dish.

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Aubernoodles!


Wednesday, 29 August 2012 - , , 2 comments

CUPBOARD LOVE : Velvet Crunch Cassava Snacks


I found these delicious little snacks the other day. They are made from tapioca flour and cassava and seem to really hit the spot!


I thought 70% less fat seemed pretty good. The propoints and calories reflect that.
One 20g bag is 2pp/83kcal. Two bags are 5pp.
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The flavours are really tasty;

 Cheddar Cheese & Spring Onion
Thai Sweet Chilli
and
 Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar 

***

Crunchy Munchy
Monday, 27 August 2012 - , , , 2 comments

RECIPE : Italian Caramelised Yellow Peppers with Capers


When I was 18, I spent my summer as an Au-Pair in Livorno, Italy. This is the dish that I couldn't wait to cook for my family when I returned as I had never tasted anything like it before!
I'm still making it 30 years later.

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 I suppose it's a kind of sweet and sour mix of flavours but not in the way we would normally associate them. This is sweet, salty, tangy, pungent and distinctive. It works as a beautiful side dish to accompany roast meats, or something like my shredded poached chicken. (Click HERE for recipe).
That Summer, I learnt not to rush a good dish - this one takes time. I also realised that you don't have to eat everything piping hot. This is best served warm to appreciate the complex flavours.
(It's also great cold but not chilled, like a relish or chutney).

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This is 3pp/approx.400kcal for the WHOLE amount,
2pp/approx.200kcal per portion if you divide the amount into 2 portions,
1pp/approx.100kcal per portion if you divide the amount into 3 or 4 portions

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You will need : (For 3-4 Portions)

6 yellow peppers
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
(or any mild white wine vinegar)
Artificial granular sweetener to taste

***


Heat the olive oil and sugar in a large frying pan. This is one recipe where the olive oil and the sugar can not be replaced by low-fat alternatives as they form a syrup that caramelises the peppers, although I have reduced the amounts significantly. Having established that, some extra Frylight oil can be used if necessary, when frying the peppers. A little artificial sweetener can also be added later in the cooking process when fine-tuning the flavours.


Cut the peppers into chunky strips and fry on a medium heat. It may seem like a large amount, but they shrink down to about half the volume when cooked, and always seem to get eaten! As the juices start to release from the peppers, give the occasional stir. Allow to cook slowly for 40-50 minutes.


Eventually, the peppers will take on this beautiful, caramelised hue. This is when to add the capers with a little of their pickling juice, the vinegar and some artificial sweetener to taste.


Turn the heat down, cover the pan with a lid, (even an ill-fitting one). Allow to steam and soften, cooking slowly and stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow to sit and start to cool down, until you are ready to serve it.


I served mine on a bed of salad leaves with my poached, shredded chicken on top, but this is a robust dish and works equally well with hot or cold roast beef, pork, lamb, or even salmon as a delicious relish/side dish.
It's a great vegetarian dish too-perhaps served with some ricotta, half fat mozzarella or griddled halloumi.

***

Bellissimo!

This is my entry to the
#TuscanyNowCookOff competition.
Here is a link to their page!
(Click HERE)

***


Sunday, 26 August 2012 - , , , , , , 2 comments

RECIPE : Garlic and Lemon-Infused Poached, Shredded Chicken



I've been meaning to attempt a poached chicken dish for some time now. It's such a healthy and succulent way to cook chicken and the flavour possibilities are pretty limitless. By 'pulling' or shredding the chicken before serving, it makes the meat go a long way and gives it a fabulous texture for salads or sandwich fillings, cold or hot dishes.
I'm going to show you this garlic and lemon-infused version today, but have a play with seasonings and flavours as I feel this dish has much potential for experimentation.
I served mine (above), with some delicious Italian Caramelized Yellow Peppers with Capers.
(Click HERE for recipe).


For the Poached Chicken
Each serving is 4pp/approx 180kcal

(Perfect for Filling & Healthy or Simple Start)

You Will Need: 
165g raw skinless chicken breast per person (4pp/approx.180kcal)
1 lemon
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon stock powder
White and Black Pepper
Cold water
Fresh herbs

***


In the base of a saucepan, place the stock powder, the lemon (halved and slightly squeezed) and the head of garlic with the top sliced off. Half fill the pan with cold water and add the chicken, seasoning and herbs.


Bring to the boil slowly, then allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the chicken sit in the hot water for a minimum of 30 minutes.


Once cool enough to handle, place the cooked chicken on a plate and 'pull' or 'shred' it using 2 forks. The beauty of this dish is that each breast is 1 portion, so you don't need to re-weigh to allocate your servings.


The texture should be really fine and soft but with some 'bite'.


Pop the soft, cooked, sweet garlic cloves out of their shells and mash into the chicken. Squeeze the jam-like, boiled, bitter lemon flesh onto the chicken and mix in. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

***

If the chicken is going to be used warm or cold in a salad or sandwich, add 1 tablespoon Extra Light Mayonnaise (0pp/10kcal)per portion to help bind it together.

***

The flavours are delicate, so you could add some chopped spring onion or soy sauce for a Chinese slant...some curry spices and sultanas for a Coronation chicken vibe... Just remember to add the propoints for any ingredients which contain them.

***

Soft, shredded, delicious and delicate.

Friday, 24 August 2012 - 0 comments

CUPBOARD LOVE : M & S Count On Us Range


I need you all to know that, although I'm totally obsessed with food, creating my own delicious dishes and blogging about it, I'm not infallible! Sometimes I'm completely exhausted at the end of a day or just don't feel like cooking....so occasionally I use ready meals to make my life easier!


I think M & S have really cracked it - their meals are imaginative, tasty, not outrageous on the salt-front and, best of all, they have the Weight Watchers Propoint values on them so you don't even need to use your brain to work them out!


M & S state very clearly that the Propoints are calculated by them for informational purposes only and that they are not endorsed by Weight Watchers...but I have checked all the products I use and they are spot on with their calculations.

***


If you feel the need to make the dishes look 'home-made', or want a larger portion, you could serve the salads like I have done above, in a large cabbage or lettuce leaf.
You could also chop some extra fresh spring onion into the risottos, or serve them on a large bed of wilted spinach to pad them out a bit. They really are delicious and although a little more expensive than some of the other supermarket pre-prepared meals, they are far superior.
You can often find them on a "3 for 2" deal which makes them much more reasonable.

***

No-guilt, put-your-feet-up cooking!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012 - , , , , , 6 comments

RECIPE : Banana Breakfast Bites


I had the idea for these little oaty, crisp, cinnamon-infused, squidgy Banana Breakfast Bites the other day.
I was thinking that sometimes, a bowl of porridge is not what we fancy first thing in the morning....occasionally, a little tasty nibble with a cup of tea or coffee fits the bill so much better!
These are really easy to make, very delicious, and produce a wonderful, warm 'freshly-baked' aroma for the household to wake up to....simply wonderful.

They are 3pp/approx. 200kcal per portion.

***

You will need: (per portion)

1 medium just-ripe banana
30g Porridge oats
Cinnamon (to taste)
Frylight Sunflower oil

***


Heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade.
Weigh out the porridge oats and mix with the cinnamon and a few sprays of Frylight Sunflower oil. Chop the banana into chunky pieces.


Spray the banana with a few sprays of Frylight oil. Pop each chunk into the oats. Roll and press the oats to coat each piece of banana.
Pop them onto grease-proof paper on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle any remaining oats onto the tray as they will go crispy and delicious.
Spray with a few more sprays of Frylight oil.
Try not to use more than 20 sprays of Frylight in total or you will have to add 1pp. However, if you do decide to add the propoint, you can use up to 40 sprays of oil!


Bake for 20-30 minutes until the oats look toasted and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down for about 5-10 minutes before eating as the baked banana is extremely hot and soft.

***

A very nutritious and filling little brekkie.
Monday, 20 August 2012 - , , , 2 comments

SMASH & GRAB : Nature's Gifts



I walk by the river near my home every day. Yesterday, the water was so still, like glass. I had never seen it like that before. I took this photo but I have 'flipped' it over so that the reflection is on the top.

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If you apply this thinking to the foods you eat, it may inspire you to do something differently, or change a habit. Just take a moment to really LOOK at the foods you eat every day. You may see them in a new light.


Nature is so clever. It provides us with these amazing foods that are just MEANT be combined. I was doing my food shopping today. I buy blueberries and raspberries every week, but today they screamed out to me
"PUT US TOGETHER!"
The little round blueberries just want to nestle perfectly inside the circular top of the hulled raspberries like a match made in Heaven.


It took me 5 minutes to prepare them onto cocktail sticks.
They remind me of stuffed olives!



...but this combo is pretty divine served with a melted mini pot of chocolate Philadelphia for 2pp/80kcal.


I just popped the chocolate Philly in the microwave for 15 seconds, then it softens into a melty goo, perfect for dipping these beauties into.

***

Time to reflect.

RECIPE : Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff Sauce


This delicious dish seems too good to be true, because it has that appearance of decadent creaminess we food lovers look for in a rich sauce.
It's the kind of recipe that absolutely sums up Slice-of-Slim because my quest is to retain the joy of food by reducing the fat but retaining the yumminess and the comfort we all seek from our food!

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My recipe works out to 1pp/approx 100 kcal per portion which gives you lots of scope and choice as to how you may want to serve it...perhaps with some wild rice, a portion of spaghetti as I have shown above...



...or even on some toasted bread 'crostini' style like this.
Because the main ingredient is zero-propointed mushrooms, you can have a really generous portion and feel totally satisfied without doing any damage to your weight loss or maintenance plans.

***

You will need : (For 2 servings)

1 average size punnet mushrooms (around 300g)
60g (2 mini pots) Extra light philadelphia
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chives/herbs to garnish
Paprika to finish

N.B. For Simple Start or Filling & Healthy, see below in
TIPS section.

***



This probably seems like an enormous amount of mushrooms for two portions, but remember that when cooked, they shrink down, plus the mushrooms are really the only bulky ingredient in this sauce.
Slice them into thin but chunky slices and fry in some Frylight Sunflower oil until really soft and brown. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the ketchup. This gives an amazing flavour kick which is then muted down by the cream cheese. Stir well.



Add the Extra Light Philadelphia and stir over a gentle heat so that the cheese melts into the pan and creates a smooth, creamy consistency. If it's too thick for you, just 'loosen' the sauce off with a drop of milk.
Finally, add some black pepper and snip in some chives, parsley or fresh herbs of your choice.

***


  
Decide on your preferred accompaniment and work out the propoints or calories accurately to add together with the sauce for your finished meal.
Remember you can always 'bulk out' a portion of rice or pasta with lashings of wilted spinach-I cook mine with crushed garlic-delicious!

***

Soft, creamy and comforting.

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TIPS


If you want to make this on a Filling & Healthy day, simply replace the extra light Philadelphia with quark and the tomato ketchup with passata. Don't let the sauce boil as it ruins the creamy texture.

Serve with brown rice or on a toasted crumpet for a crostini version.

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PRINT RECIPE HERE

   
Thursday, 16 August 2012 - , , , , , , 2 comments

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING : Sweet & Savoury Red Cabbage


This gorgeous side dish is a wonderful zero propointed accompaniment to meat dishes. It can be served hot or cold. It has a rich, deep, tangy flavour and a sweetness to compliment roasted or grilled dishes.
My recipe has a secret ingredient....


....A can of diet coke!
I bought this Coca Cola Zero and nobody liked it, so I had to think of a way of using it up! This may sound strange, but the addition of the coke along with savoury seasonings, gives this dish its sweet richness as it evaporates down when cooked.

***

You will need:

2 red onions
1/2 a medium red cabbage
3 tablespoons low salt soy sauce
1 can Diet Coke/Coca Cola Zero/Diet Pepsi
(any diet version of a cola drink will do)
Black pepper
Fresh basil

***


Slice the onions and fry in some Frylight Sunflower oil until starting to soften.


Add the red cabbage and the whole can of diet coke. Allow to bubble and boil until the cabbage is cooked and soft and the liquid had reduced down quite significantly. This takes 40 minutes to an hour. Keep stirring, don't allow it to boil dry.


Add the low salt soy sauce and black pepper. Chop the basil and add to the dish.


When cooked and ready to serve, the red cabbage takes on a deep dark colouring and a caramelized texture. It has a rich and delicious flavour almost like a sweet chutney.

***

A sumptuously surprising little side dish.

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