Tag Archives: fibre

Gluten free noodles

Courgette Noodles with Tomato Sauce (gluten, dairy and grain-free)

Pasta is the ultimate comfort food. A steaming bowl of fettuccine coated in a flavoursome sauce can make you fall in love, forget your ex or make a wintry Friday evening at home that much more cosy.

Unfortunately for some, a big bowl of pasta also signals bloating, cramps or spasms for hours or days later. If you are a coeliac or are sensitive to gluten, the pleasure sought in that delicious bowl is paid for – and it’s not pleasant.

Some get on just fine with gluten-free varieties of pasta, however, I just can’t. Some are too slimy and others have long lists of very refined ingredients I am not partial to.

So, this dish uses courgette noodles. Inspired by the paleo ‘scene’, it takes a wholesome vegetable and turns it into an excellent vessel for your favourite pasta sauce. There’s no mucking about with ingredients and kneading – all you need is a sharp knife and pasta joy is a few minutes away.

How many have you had today?

I developed this recipe for a client who struggled to comprehend how he could eat 5-7 portions of fruit and vegetables daily, so the sauce is heavy on the veg. However, as the courgette is relatively neutral in flavour, you can substitute any of your favourite pasta sauces.

This recipe delivers a whopping seven (that’s 7) portions* of vegetables! That’s 3.5 portions per serving. If you add in any of the other optional ingredients, you can shoot up the nutrient content of this delicious meal even more.

This dish is also a brilliant vitamin C boost. The peppers, tomatoes and courgettes will take you to pretty much 100% of your RDA (although you typically need a little more than that for great health) and the courgettes alone will provide you with around 40% of your vitamin A RDA (per serving)

This recipe is remarkably simple and the noodles are a great way to get young children to try a green veg.

Enjoy!

 

Courgette Noodles and Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

Serves 2

For the noodles:

  • 400g courgettes (about 2 med-large. The longer the better)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes or fresh chilli to taste
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 can cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Method:

  1. Prepare the courgette noodles. Cut the courgettes into long thin strips using a sharp knife, a mandolin, spiraliser or a peeler
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on a low heat. Add the chilli, garlic and the onion and cook until translucent. It is important that the oil doesn’t get too hot
  3. Add the anchovies if using. These cook away to nothing, but add a lovely flavour. Just two fillets also add about 160mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. While the onions are cooking, pit the olives and roughly chop.
  5. Add the peppers and sauté for another few minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, olives and vinegar to the pan. Stir well, cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  7. Now, cook the noodles. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the courgette noodles and sauté them for a few minutes until just cooked.
  8. Check the seasoning of the sauce – add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Divide the noodles into two warmed bowls and top with the sauce. Add a sprinkle of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil on top of each serving.

Optional extras: Boost the nutrient value of the dish by adding any of the following:

  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms at step 5 (=1 portion veg)
  • 2 cups of sliced kale – add to the sauce 2 minutes before serving (=2 portions veg)
  • 1 cup sugarsnap peas – add to the sauce 5 minutes before serving (=1 portion veg)
  • ½ cup frozen peas – add to the sauce 5 minutes before serving (=1 portion veg)

 

*Portions estimated based on the NHS fruit and vegetable portion guide.

 

This recipe is part of my Cleanse and Reset programme – a healthy start to the year with tasty, nourishing food. Get in touch for more details.

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High protein, gluten free pancakes

Super Banana Pancakes (grain free, diary free, high protein)

Super banana pancakes

I love pancakes. There is something about them that is comforting and feels like a treat. Since going gluten free, I’ve struggled to find a pancake that results in the same satisfaction as the ‘full flour’ versions.

Breakfast-style pancakes can definitely be made gluten free. However, in the past I’ve found that the grain-based versions taste odd, the coconut flour versions can be too dry and others can be too runny. I also prefer to use as many wholefood ingredients as possible (gluten-free flours can be very processed).

I came across a recipe on Facebook from which these banana pancakes are based: 1 banana and 2 eggs – mix together and fry off in small batches. Brilliant – protein and fibre with a bit of natural sweetness! The result was moderately successful, but I wanted a bit more fibre and a bit more protein to make it a more rounded breakfast (or snack). I added ground flaxseeds and ground almonds to the mix – these essential store-cupboard ingredients also up the vitamin and mineral profile of of the recipe. If you are avoiding flax or nuts, the plain egg/banana version does work, but you need a good hot pan, a good amount of butter and nimble wrists to flip without splatting!

So, after a bit of trial and error, here is my offering. Even the husband likes them!

The Good Stuff

These lovely pancakes pack a particularly good nutritional punch. The eggs and protein will keep you feeling satiated (avoiding sugar cravings!) and eating a full portion will provide half* of your RDA of vitamins B2, B6 and magnesium! The high fibre and magnesium content makes these a great addition to your diet if you’re feeling a little constipated. See the end of this post for nutritional details on each of the ingredients.

This truly is a super-delicious, super meal!

Gluten and grain-free banana pancakes

Ingredients (makes about 12)

  • 1 banana
  • 2 organic eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 1.5 teaspoons aluminium-free bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon almond or cashew nut butter (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Raw coconut oil or organic butter for frying

Method

All you need to do is combine the ingredients into a batter. There are a few ways you can do this:

Option 1: put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it comes together

Option 2: put all the ingredients into a jug and process with a stick blender (my preference as you can then pour the batter directly into pan (less washing up!)

Option 3: if you don’t have any of the electronics, you can simply mash the banana with a fork, then add the other ingredients and whisk together.

  1. Ideally, leave the batter to sit for about 15-20 minutes before cooking. This will help it mature and make flipping a bit easier.
  2. Heat a knob of butter or raw coconut oil in a pan on a medium-high heat and fry off smallish pancakes (about the circumference of an orange slice).
  3. Use a thin, wide egg lifter or spatula to flip – you need to get right under them without breaking the cooked film on the edge.

Serve with a light drizzle of good quality maple syrup or honey, some organic plain yoghurt, berries or even some bacon.

These are not just for weekends. Because of the nutritional profile, they are great for a replenishing snack after sport, an after-school treat or a quick breakfast any day of the week.

Nutritional facts

This recipe is full of nutritious, whole foods. Each ingredient is particularly rich in key nutrients that contribute to a balanced diet and keep your energy levels up.

Eggs: protein, vitamins D and B12, selenium, choline,

Bananas: magnesium, potassium, fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B6

Almonds: high in protein, fibre, omega 3, magnesium, vitamins B2 and E, and potassium

Flaxseeds: vitamin B1, iron, magnesium, selenium, omega 3 and fibre

Cinnamon: balances blood sugar

 

*RDA percentages are estimated using NutritionData.com. Actual percentages may vary based on age of product and country of origin.

I have updated the recipe slightly from the original post – the addition of 1 teaspoon of chia seeds really helps the batter hold together well!

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Butternut soup

Autumn Spiced Butternut Soup

Growing up in South Africa, butternut was (and still is) a regular part of meals. The beautiful orange squash can be used in soups, stews, salads, sides and even baked whole (or stuffed) in an oven or over coals. I was surprised to find that this versatile vegetable wasn’t as common in Europe as I expected (I’ve been asked a couple of times how to cook it – both times lined up in the queue to buy one!). I might be biased, but I think butternut has a far superior taste and texture to other varieties of squash, which can be watery and stringy. The cooked flesh of butternut is wonderfully dense and smooth – it is brilliant just roasted or steamed with a little butter, salt and pepper.  It has a slightly sweeter flavour than most squash – almost bordering on sweet potato. It marries very well with most herbs (especially mint, sage, rosemary and thyme) and spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, chilli) and can also be used for sweet baking.

Put away the peeler

For the vast majority of butternut recipes, keep the skin on. Yes, on. Don’t be tempted to peel butternut, it’s not necessary for most recipes. The skin cooks to a soft texture that is easy to eat and digest (if fully cooked). Why waste all that wonderful fibre? This soup recipe is no exception – you’ll be amazed that the skin blends into a wonderfully smooth and velvety soup. It’s a great way to ramp up the fibre in a meal without any hassle or impact on flavour and texture.

The good stuff

Down to business. Not only is butternut tasty, it is full of wonderful nutrients! It is particularly high in vitamins A and C, folate, potassium and has a good omega 3:6 ratio (i.e. is higher in omega 3 than omega 6). Leaving the skin on also means this soup is a good way to boost your daily fibre intake. If you’ve never cooked with this lovely squash, take a look at my post on choosing and preparing butternut.

Autumn Spiced Butternut Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or organic butter
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger (about 1 big knob)
  • 1 medium butternut – in chunks
  • 1 tablespoon bouillon (I like Marigold)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Water (or stock, omit bouillon)
  • Ground pepper and salt to taste

To serve:

  • 1 dessert spoon pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts) per serving
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Coriander
  • Sprinkling of feta or goat’s cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a saucepan and sauté the celery and onion until the onion is translucent
  2. Add the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, ginger and bay leaf and sauté until you can smell the aromas being released – be careful not to burn the spices
  3. Add the butternut chunks, stir and allow to sweat with the onion and spices for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the bouillon and enough water (or stock) to just cover the vegetables, a good grind of black pepper and bring to a simmer
  5. While the soup is cooking, gently toast the pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts) in frying pan, tossing every 30 seconds until you can smell them become ‘nutty’. Watch these like a hawk, burnt seeds are bitter!
  6. The butternut is ready when it is soft and easily gives way under the pressure of a fork. At this point, stir in the crushed garlic and remove the pot from the heat
  7. Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup until smooth with a stick blender, or in batches in a liquidiser (allow to cool a little if using a liquidiser)
  8. Return to the heat, adjust seasoning to taste and add more water or stock to reach the consistency you like

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with torn coriander leaves, toasted pumpkin seeds and a little drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. You can also add a crumble of feta for a slightly saltier result. Note: Watery butternut soup is nobody’s friend. I recommend that you start off with just enough water to cover the vegetables and then add more liquid (if desired) once you have blended the soup. Butternut soup with feta This soup can be frozen for a month or so (without garnishes). Cool and freeze in appropriate containers.

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Chia 1

Something to Chia about?

The word ‘superfood’ gets bandied about fairly easily and usually heralds the entrance of an obscure food substance from a remote part of the world that we now must eat to be healthy! I have always been a bit adverse to this way of approaching healthy eating.

For starters, I firmly believe that a healthy diet is one that includes a variety of fresh products, ideally as close to locally sourced as possible. The fact of the matter is, a lot of the in-vogue ‘superfoods’ touted by the media  don’t actually offer anything superior to the foods we have access to on a daily basis.

Chia 1

Whole organic chia seeds

So, given the above, why am I writing about chia seeds? Well, my initial reluctance to use them stemmed from the fact that they are grown and shipped in from South America. That’s a lot of food miles and I wasn’t sure that more local products couldn’t provide the same nutritional benefits that these little black seeds could. However, over the last 6 months, I’ve looking into chia a little more closely.  Yes, the seeds are flown a long way and yes, for the most part you can get the same balance of nutrients from other food sources. But what chia provides is a super-boost of nutrients that very few foods contain in one package. Here are the facts about chia seeds:

  1. Chia seeds offer a complete source of protein. That means they have all essential amino acids – very few plant sources can boast the full amino acid spectrum. This makes chia a very good source of protein for vegans, vegetarians and those looking to lower their reliance on meat and dairy products.
  2. They are an amazing source of calcium. Just 28g of chia seeds will give you 18% of your RDA. They are also excellent source of zinc, phosphorus and manganese.
  3. Chia seeds are full of fibre. Again, just 28g will give you 42% of your daily fibre needs! Fibre is brilliant for regulating blood sugar levels, detoxifying the system and keeping your heart healthy.
  4. They provide over five times more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon. Another win for vegetarians and vegans! These tiny little seeds are an omega 3 powerhouse. Omega 3 is a vital nutrient often missing from modern diets, but is essential for good hormone regulation, brain development and is highly anti-inflammatory.
  5. Chia seeds are versatile. I have used them in a number of recipes to great success – breads, smoothies, porridge, muesli and cookies. For vegans or those allergic to eggs, ground chia seeds can also be soaked with water and used as an egg substitute for baking.

So, you can see why I’ve been converted to a chia champion! I find that chia seeds are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. If you haven’t tried chia seeds before, here is something I whipped up this morning that can get you started.

Refreshing Chia Berry Boost Smoothie (makes 2 large smoothies)Chia Berry Smoothie Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon organic oat flakes
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup nut milk (or coconut water or filtered water)
  • 1.5 cups frozen berries
  • 6-7 mint leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 big handfuls baby spinach

 

Method:

  1. Mix the chia seeds and oats in a bowl with the cup of water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Once the chia seeds and oats are soaked (and the chia seeds have swollen), add all the ingredients into the blender (spinach leaves first) and blend until smooth.

This smoothie provides an awesome nutrient boost – a great way to start the day or a recovery smoothie after exercising. The mix of ingredients gives a vitamin, mineral, fibre and antioxidant boost that is delicious and refreshing. Enjoy!

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