Tag Archives: low fat

Warming & Hearty Vegan Split Pea Soup

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Its fall. Yep, there is no denying it. Well, in London anyway. The leaves are on the ground, the air has a crispness to it and everyone has a cold. Yep, summer is over.

The good thing is: new season, new vegetables! Time for some hearty, warming, stick to your bones meals. One of my favorite dishes for fall is Split Pea soup. Growing up, like most people, it was made with a big ol’ham hock. I always thought that was what gave the soup its delicious flavor. Nope. It’s actually the split peas. Those little dried peas are absolutely bursting with flavor all by themselves. It’s quite shocking actually. They have this great smokey, deep, hearty flavor. So there is no need to add any meat to this dish. The split peas are certainly the star of this show.

IMG_3395INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of split peas, rinsed
  • 1 handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small leek (or 1 small onion)
  • 2 fresh sage leaves (or 1 bay leaf/remove before serving, or 1 tsp of dried sage)
  • 1 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • s&p
  • dash of balsamic vinegar

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Chop the leek, carrots and celery into 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Chop the garlic and herbs.
  3. In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, add a dash of olive oil and once hot add in the veggies. Cook for 5 mins.
  4. Add in the garlic and herbs. Cook for 1 min.
  5. Add in the split peas and 2.5 cups of vegetable stock. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins.
  6. Check the soup after 20 mins, if it is too thick add some water, if it is too thin you can add in a diced potato. At this point add in the chopped spinach.
  7. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and s&p.
  8. Options: If you want the soup hearty, then you can serve as is otherwise you can blend it to a creamy consistency.
  9. Ready to serve!

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Health Benefits of Split Peas

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Can we say “Fiber”!?  Just 1 cup of split peas equals more than half of your daily required intake of fiber. Wow. 

“Dried peas, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only can dried peas help lower cholesterol, they are also of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.

Fiber is far from all that dried peas have to offer. Dried peas also provide good to excellent amounts of four important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein–all with virtually no fat. As if this weren’t enough, dried peas also feature isoflavones (notably daidzein). Isoflavones are phytonutrients that can act like weak estrogens in the body and whose dietary consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of certain health conditions, including breast and prostate cancer.

Dried Peas are Packed with Fiber

Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you’ll see legumes leading the pack. Dried peas, like other legumes, are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds bile (which contains cholesterol) and carries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A single cup of cooked dried peas provides 65.1% of the daily value for fiber.

Dried Peas Provide Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, legumes like dried peas can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contains 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein–the most dangerous form of cholesterol) by 12.5%.

Take Dried Peas to Heart

In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that legumes were associated with an 82% reduction in risk!

In addition to their stellar fiber content, dried peas also feature other heart healthy nutrients. They are a good source of potassium, which may decrease the growth and development of blood vessel plaques and is also good for lowering high blood pressure. A cup of cooked peas will supply you with 20.3% of your daily need for potassium.

Sensitive to Sulfites? Dried Peas May Help

Dried peas are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them. A cup of cooked dried peas provides 196.0% of the daily value for molybdenum.”

Source: Whfoods.com

 

Baked Maple Syrup & Cinnamon Apples (minus the Pie) for Dessert

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Hot apples baking away in the oven with cinnamon and maple syrup…mmmm… Why go for the full fat apple pie when you can get all of the flavor with these “skinny” baked apples? Oh and did I mention it takes about 5 min to make?

Ingredients:

2 apples, skin on, organic

pinch of cinnamon

drizzle of 100% pure Maple Syrup

handful of raisins

handful of sliced almonds

1/4 cup of water

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Instructions:

Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius/430 F

Cut the middle out of your apples with a sharp knife, and preserve a little “lid” for the bottom (so the juices stay inside).

Place in an oven proof dish.

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Top with raisins, a pinch of cinnamon, drizzle over the maple syrup (making sure to get some inside the apple) and sprinkle on the almonds.

Add the water to the bottom of the dish, so the apples don’t get stuck to the bottom (and you get more of a sweet syrupy sauce).

Bake for about 15 min, until apples are tender.

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Serve alone or with a little cream (5.5g of fat per 30ml serving) or you can do vanilla frozen yogurt. Homemade, simple and delicious.

Health Benefits of Apples:

“Apple polyphenols (anti-oxidents) are standout nutrients in this widely loved fruit. These polyphenols include flavonols (especially quercetin, but also kaempferol and myricetin), catechins (especially epicatechin), anthocyanins (if the apples are red-skinned), chlorogenic acid, phloridizin, and several dozen more health-supportive polyphenol nutrients. Apple is a good source of fiber, including the soluble fiber pectin, and it’s also a good source of vitamin C. Apple nutrients are disproportionately present in the skin, which is a particularly valuable part of the fruit with respect to its nutrient content.” http://www.whfoods.org

Healthy Chips! Yes it is possible: Kale Chips

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I have to admit, I love crispy, salty potato chips. But I know as well as anyone how much fat and “bad” oils they contain, so they are eaten very very sparingly. However I don’t want to give up that crispy, salty, perfect snack. So instead I eat Kale Chips. They are super healthy, ready in minutes and really do the job when you have that snack like craving.

Plus Kale is fat-free! High in Fiber, Iron, Calcium, Vitamins A, K and C and it’s an anti-inflammatory food.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, washed
  • 1 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • sprinkle of good quality Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper

Feel free to get creative and add spices to your Kale Chips, for example some garlic powder or chili powder.

IMG_4570Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Wash kale and cut stems off. Cut into chip size pieces.
  3. In a large boil add kale, olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss around to coat the kale.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place kale on top, laying flat, try not to over lap.
  5. Bake for about 10-15 min. Keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn.
  6. Remove from oven and once cool, place in a bowl and try not to eat all in one sitting…but, hey, they’re so good for you its ok if you do! 🙂

IMG_4572Even Buddy the Cat likes them! 

Sunday Night Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas

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When I think of enchiladas I think of rising cholesterol levels…so much cheese! TOO much cheese!
I wanted the same comfort food cuisine, full of Mexican spices and dripping with sauce yet low in fat and good for me. So I came up with this healthy vegetarian version. It has creamy black beans, spinach and fresh cilantro and doesn’t compromise on flavor. I didn’t get rid of the cheese completely, as it is an integral part of the dish, I just gave it a small part and gave the black beans and spinach the starring role. It worked out perfectly 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

For 2 people

6 corn tortillas
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of black beans
1 cup of frozen spinach or 2 cups fresh
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp each of cumin, smoked chipotle and ancho chili powder
1 tsp each of dried oregano and espazote (espazote is an amazing Mexican herb, traditionally used in bean dishes to reduce flatulence caused by beans, a great ingredient!)
1 lime
Handful of fresh cilantro
1/4 cup of plain low-fat yogurt or soygurt
1/2 cup of grated mature cheddar cheese or Vegan cheese (the sharper/older the cheddar the stronger the flavor will be, therefore you can get away with using less)
S&P

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INSTRUCTIONS:

Turn oven on to broil at about 200 C/400 F

Dice the onion and mince the garlic.

Drain and rinse the black beans.

In a pan, over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Then sauté the onion for about 3 min. Add in the garlic and all of the spices. Cook for 2 min.

Add in the beans, tomatoes and spinach. Cook for about 5 min. Frozen spinach contains some water naturally, so if you are using fresh and find it too thick, add a little water. It should have the consistency of thick chili.

Stir in the yogurt, squeeze of lime juice and add s&p. Turn off heat.

Use a fork to mash the beans a little inside the pan. You don’t want them totally smooth, but mashed together well.

Warm the tortillas in pan on medium heat, 20 seconds on each side.

To assemble: place a scoop of the black bean mixture on the tortilla and roll. Place in a small oven proof dish that has been sprayed with olive oil. Repeat with all of the tortillas. Making sure to leave a few scoops of the bean and spinach mixture. This will be used for the sauce.

Add a 1/2 cup of water to the remaining bean mixture, machining it sauce like in consistency. Poor over enchiladas. Sprinkle with grated cheddar and chopped cilantro.

Place under the broiler for about 10 min until cheese is light brown and melted.

Serve alone or with a green salad.
The healthiest enchilada ever! (Delicious authentic flavor included)

Health Notes:

Black Beans– full of Protein, Fiber, Folate, Vitamin B1 and Iron

Spinach– full of so many Vitamins! Manganese, Iron, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Vit C, B2, K, A, B6 and E

Zucchini & Red Pepper Tacos with Creamy Tortilla Soup: low in fat and ready in 25 min



Taco & Tortilla Soup

I LOVE Mexican food. It has to be one of my favorite cuisines. It’s so fresh and expressive in its flavor. It just reminds me of summer and gives you that carefree “I’m on vacation” feeling, no matter what time of year it is.

Living in LA was a definite plus when it came to fresh and healthy food options. Mexican cuisine is obviously a major culinary heavyweight, due to the vast Mexican population and proximity to Mexico. The food is so simple thanks to the freshness of ingredients and simple cooking techniques, you don’t need to go to a 5 star restaurant to enjoy it (small, dive-joint looking places are the best anyway!) and you don’t  need to take cooking lessons to make it at home.

This is my recipe for super easy tacos and delicious creamy tortilla soup. I’ve adapted this recipe from my favorite Mexican hole in the wall in LA called Loteria. Their tacos and tortilla soup are truly incredible.

The ingredients are fairly basic, make sure to get corn tortilla’s instead of wheat (for that authentic flavor). Oh, and no Mexican meal is complete without a refreshing Mexican Beer! 😉

For 2 people

Tortilla soup ingredients

Soup Ingredients:

1 smoked, dried chipotle pepper, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 min and then chopped (if you can’t find these you can substitute with 1 tbsp of smoked chipotle powder)

1/2 cup each of diced celery, carrots and onion

1 can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes

1 tsp each of Oregano, Cumin and Epazote  (Epazote has a slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of oregano. It’s used both for flavor and for its ability to reduce the flatulence associated with bean and vegetable dishes. How COOL!)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of low-fat organic yogurt, low-fat organic sour cream or soygurt

1 squeeze of agave or pinch of sugar

1/4 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds

1 corn tortilla, cut up into slices (see photo)

a wedge of lime

Handful of fresh coriander (optional)

s&p

tortilla soup instructions

Instructions:

In a pan over medium heat add a tbsp of olive oil and the diced carrots, onions and celery. Cook for about 3 min until the onions are translucent.

Add in the garlic and spices, cook for 2 min.

Add  can of tomatoes, agave or sugar and s&p.

Chop the chipotle and add it in along with its soaking water. Cook on med-low for about 10 min.

Blend with a hand blender.

Stir in the yogurt, sour cream or soygurt.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over high heat until they start to pop.

In a small pan heat 1 tbsp of oil and once hot, add in the tortilla strips. Fry for about 1 min until golden brown and crispy, remove to paper towel and soak up access oil right away.

Taco ingredients

 Taco Ingredients:

6 corn tortillas

1 tsp of oregano, chipotle powder and cumin powder

1 tsp of coriander or handful of fresh coriander (finely chopped)

½ a lime

2 ripe tomatoes

1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into thick match sticks

1 bell pepper (any color will do), cut lengthwise into thick match sticks

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ a small onion, diced

½ head of small cabbage, shredded

2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ cup of low-fat organic yogurt, sour cream or soygurt

s&p

(hot sauce optional)

taco instructions

Instructions:

In a medium size sauté pan over medium heat, place a tortilla. Heat for about 30 seconds on each side. Set aside on a plate, covered until ready to serve to keep warm and soft.

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add in the zucchini and pepper. Cook for 2 min with lid on.

Add the spices (except coriander) and garlic. Continue to cook for about 6 min on med-low heat, covered.

If you have a mandolin (see photo) use this to shred the cabbage finely. Otherwise it can be done by hand. Place in bowl and add the 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and s&p. Toss and set aside.

If you have a food processor, great! Use that to make the salsa. If not you can certainly chop everything finely by hand. Add the tomatoes, onion, lime juice, and s&p to the food processor and blend until it has salsa consistency.

Add the coriander to the yogurt, sour cream or soygurt.

 READY TO SERVE!!!!

Place the creamy tortilla soup in a bowl and top with a dollop of cream (yogurt, sour cream or soygurt), place crispy tortilla strips on top and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Squeeze the lime wedge over soup and sprinkle with fresh coriander (optional) before eating.

Arrange a warmed corn tortilla on a plate, smooth on some coriander infused cream (yogurt, sour cream or soygurt), then a helping of zucchini and peppers, a scoop of shredded cabbage slaw and finally the salsa. Some hot sauce if you want to give it some extra heat.

No, there wont be any leftovers….. 🙂