GUILT FREE PASTA – YIPPEE!!!
If there ever was a win-win with clean, healthy, filling and totally delicious food, this dish has got to be up there at the top of the hierarchy! Pasta is one of my absolute favourite foods but because it is so high in carbs (and wheat) it’s a food group that Andrew and I have been pretty much avoiding since we began our journey. Although I must say that my obsession for spaghetti bolognese while pregnant was certainly a contributing factor to the baby weight I had to work so hard to lose afterwards!!! In the past I would always look longingly at recipes for pasta dishes knowing that I’ll probably never try them.
But I have just discovered a REAL little gem – the Betty Bossi Veggie- Twister! It is a little gadget which I found at King of Knives (kitchenware shop in Australia) (but there are plenty of similar gadgets out there) where you can stick half a zucchini into it, twist it around a bit and it creates long strands of zucchini that make the most amazing substitute for spaghetti!!!
How cool does this look???
How to prepare the zucchini (courgettes)
I used about 3 zucchinis per person. I topped and tailed them, cut them in half and let the Betty Bossi work it’s magic. I twisted the strands into a colander, and sprinkled with some Celtic sea salt and let it rest (much the same as you would salt an eggplant). It’s a good idea to put the colander onto a paper towel while you do this as it will weep considerably. After about half an hour the bitter juices have leached out and your pasta is ready to be sauced!
Dina’s Tomato Sauce
This recipe comes straight out of the Food Coach’s first cookbook. It was the first dish that Judy Davie ever taught us how to make and I will never forget it – mainly because the little techniques used make you feel nurturing and clever and the end result – DELICIOUS! Promise me you will get your hands dirty with the tomatoes – it is just FUN!!!
I must admit, the first time I made the zucchini pasta I used a good quality pasta sauce out of a jar (which was actually very delicious too!), so when I started frying up my basil for the home-made version Andrew was a little bit sceptical. Well, let’s just say I have won him over – it is now his favourite dinner!!!
What you will need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I confess I use 3 teaspoons organic minced garlic)
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 chilli (optional) seeded and finely sliced (I actually could have left the seeds in to give it a bit of a kick if that is your thing)
4 1/2 cups mixed fresh Italian herbs (think thyme, oregano, parsley) chopped
4 X 400 g tins whole tomatoes (try to look for no added sugar or salt)
How you make it:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan until very hot, then drop in the basil and stir with a wooden spoon until crispy. (Stand back at first it might spatter!). Add the onion, garlic, carrot, chilli and herbs and sauté until the vegetables are soft.
Tip the tomatoes into a large bowl and break into small pieces with your hands. (The reasoning behind this is that this ensures they are not so bitter as they can be if chopped up with a metal spoon and is supposed to be the secret to this dish …) Add to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer (uncovered) for 45 minutes until the liquid has thickened and is reduced by almost half. You will end up with a rich, thick, delicious sauce. (You can store the sauce in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)
How to use the sauce with the zucchini pasta:
You don’t need to cook the zucchini, you can either toss the zucchini into the hot sauce and serve or as the sauce was quite hot we just piled some onto the zucchini pasta and let the sauce heat the zucchini as we mixed it through. You could steam the zucchini before adding the sauce I suppose – only for a minute or so though ..
To top it off I added a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan.
Seriously, how GOOD does this look????
Hands up if you have had a great time this festive season? Lots of barbeques, parties, cocktails??? Andrew and I certainly have had a lot of fun and obviously the diversion from our routine of clean eating has had a negative effect on our bodies. This is the perfect time of year to implement a short detox (7 days) to give your body a rest from the toxins and stresses that it has been exposed to during the festive season and to reset it for a happy and healthy year ahead!
When we give our livers a break from dealing with the toxins we expose our bodies to daily (such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol) our bodies become much more efficient at working to eliminate body fat which results in a happier and healthier you.
A detox can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it but basically by eliminating toxins you should find yourselves feeling energised, reinvigorated, less bloated and best of all you should definitely notice a positive effect on the scales.
You only need to implement this for 7 days to see and feel the results – it’s a fantastic way to start the year on a high. You may experience fatigue and headaches for the first couple of days but PUSH THROUGH as this is a sign that the toxins are leaving your body – and this is what you want!!
Things to AVOID on a detox:
- Caffeine (Green tea is acceptable)
- Red Meat
- Wheat – try swapping wheat for spelt if you struggle to avoid bread etc
- Anything artificial/processed
Things to INCLUDE on a detox:
- A glass of room temperature water (filtered if possible) with a squeeze of lemon each morning on rising
- At least 2 litres of filtered (if possible) water per day
- Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Organic Chicken
- Fish (e.g. salmon, cod, mackerel, herring)
- Healthy oils e.g. olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Apple Cider vinegar (delicious mixed with olive oil as a salad dressing)
- Free range organic eggs
- Tofu/ tempeh
- Herbal tea – many brands have a detox range
There are so many yummy and healthy options to ensure that you will not go hungry.
An example of a great day on this detox would be as follows:
Upon rising: Room temperature filtered water with a squeeze of lemon
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (2/3 whites and 1 yolk) whisked up and cooked with 1 1/2 cups of spinach OR a piece of spelt toast spread with almond butter or hummus and a cup of green tea
Snack: 1/4 cup raw nuts and a piece of fruit (the summer fruit is so delicious at the moment) OR 100 grams of chicken breast and 1/4 cucumber
Lunch – Healthy chicken and quinoa dish that I posted HERE OR a chicken and salad wrap (spelt wrap) that I posted HERE and a green tea;
Afternoon snack – A smoothie made by blending 1 frozen banana, 1 cup water and 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves OR a cup of carrot sticks with hummus (homemade or all natural ingredients) or almond butter;
Dinner – BBQ fillet of salmon served with pesto (homemade or all natural) and a big green salad dressed with apple cider vinegar/olive oil dressing OR the lentil and green bean salad (without the haloumi) posted HERE OR the almond meal schnitzel I posted HERE or my chicken and eggplant bake (without the mozzarella) that I posted HERE;
As you can see there is plenty of variety allowed and you will feel so much better for it. I always find that a detox is the best way to kickstart weight loss or break a plateau.
Good luck and enjoy
I have been making this mouth watering salad for many years now and I don’t think I have ever made it for a dinner party or lunch crowd without somebody leaving with the recipe. It is so deliciously moreish. It is quite a carby salad so don’t have too much of it if serving it at dinner, but it makes a fantastic lunch for the week (and is delicious served with grilled haloumi, a big squeeze of lemon and some sambal if you like it hot!). This salad goes beautifully with my Healthy BBQ Chook or marinated butterflied leg of lamb and a green salad such as my Chargrilled Vegetable and Haloumi Salad.
Brown Rice, Mint and Pine Nut Salad with Currants and Caramelised Onion
What you need:
120 mls (1/2 cup) olive oil
3 brown onions, halved and sliced
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
150g (2/3 cup) currants, covered with red wine vinegar and boiled for 3 minutes (reserve liquid)
3 cups cooked brown rice (I cook 1 1/2 cups brown rice with 3 cups water in rice cooker)
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves only – chopped
1/2 bunch mint leaves only – chopped
2 finely sliced green chillies
120 grams (1/2 cup) pine nuts, toasted
How to pull it together
Heat 30 mls (2 tablespoons) olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until caramelised. Add currants and vinegar and stir.
Combine cooked rice, parsley, mint and chillies in a large bow. Add remaining olive oil (90 mls or 1/3 cup) and lemon juice and stir. Add half the onions and half the pine nuts and toss to combine. Top with remaining onions and pine nuts.
Here is another wonderfully fresh and tasty salad for your summer (or winter) barbecue. I find that a delicious healthy salad is such a great way to get your veggies in (and can be an easy but impressive entertainer too). This salad is from Yotam Ottolenghi – a fabulous cook of middle eastern food. You will be seeing more of his recipes on this blog I promise!
It requires a little preparation of the vegetables before assembly, but I find it quite therapeutic standing over the griddle pan watching the little black lines appear on my veggies and as I said the end result is very impressive – you will be very proud of your creation!
This salad I made was plenty for 6 people, you can add or takeaway depending on how many you are making it for … I served it with a delicious baked sumac and zaatar chicken (watch for recipe to come) but would be just as delicious with my healthy bbq chook or a marinated butterflied lamb or any marinated meat or fish really …
Chargrilled Asparagus, Zucchini And Haloumi Salad
with Slow Roasted Tomatoes And Basil Oil
What you will need:
1 punnet (about 1 cup) mini roma tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes) halved
Olive oil, Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 bunches asparagus
1 block (250 grams/9 ounces) haloumi cheese (Ottolenghi uses manouri but haloumi was delicious here)
2 large zucchinis (courgettes)
1 bag baby rocket leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped (or 1 teaspoon organic minced garlic)
25 g (1 ounce) basil leaves
salt and pepper
How to bring it all together:
Firstly, mix the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the tomatoes out (skin down). Roast in the oven (180 degrees celcius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 50 minutes or until they are the way you like them. Remove from oven and cool.
Next, chop the woody ends off the asparagus and blanch in boiling water for 2minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water until the spears have completely cooled. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Slice the zucchinis very thinly lengthwise. Mix with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.
Heat a ridged griddle pan on a very high heat until really hot. Grill the zucchinis and asparagus on both sides (about 1 minute per side). You want to get beautiful stripes on these vegetables.
Once your veggies are prepared you can either set aside to assemble closer to serving time, or start preparing your salad now.
To make the basil oil – put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. If you only have a large processor you may wish to double ingredients so that the blades catch everything (you can keep half the oil in the fridge for future salads) but I find that my mini food processor is fine for this amount.
When ready to serve the salad, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in the pan and grill the haloumi on each side until golden (and deliciously stripey).
Serve the salad on a flat platter – start with the rocket and build layers of the vegetables, tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle with the basil oil and serve.
It looks beautiful and tastes even better!
If you’ve been following The Shrinking Hubby for a while now, you may have realised how much I LOVE quinoa! This salad is absolutely delicious on its own, or as an accompaniment to fish, chicken or beef. Try it with my delicious healthy BBQ Chook!
The first time I made it, I enjoyed the left overs with a tin of tuna for the next couple of days for lunch – it was really good.
This salad was inspired by food blogger Phoodie, but I have tweaked it a little bit to suit our own tastes.
Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
What you need:
1 cup quinoa
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 punnet grape/cherry or roma tomatoes – quartered
1 bunch parsley leaves chopped
1/2 red onion finely diced
1 cucumber diced
1 red capsicum diced
1 cup of pinenuts or slivered almonds (whichever you prefer) – toasted. (I dry roast them in a pan until they become aromatic)
2 tins organic chickpeas rinsed well and drained
150 – 200 grams of goats cheese or feta (whichever you prefer)
Whisk together (or shake in a jar) juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon sumac, and olive oil (to taste)
How to pull it together:
Bring 1 cup quinoa, 2 1/2 cups water, zest and juice of 1/2 lemon to a boil and simmer (covered) for about 10-15 minutes or until cooked. If it gets too dry you may need more water.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the onion, diced capsicum, cucumber, parsley, chickpeas and tomatoes. Add half the toasted nuts (almonds or pinenuts) and half the cheese (crumbled).
Add the quinoa to the bowl and pour the dressing over and mix well.
Decant into your serving dish and top with remaining nuts and cheese to serve.
Such a healthy and delicious salad – enjoy!