Tag Archive for Healthy

Mango ice-cream

For once, Jamie Oliver is good for something (again). I loved him when he first started to do tv series, with dinner parties in his apartment, all kind of quirky and fun things. But things got out of hand, and although I admire some of the things he does (helping disadvantaged youth, promoting healthy school meals, cooking fast, cheap and healthy meals), it seems that Jamie nowadays is more a brand, created to make as much money as possible through all kinds of different channels (worldwide tv, his own magazines as well as guest articles in lots of other magazines, a pre-made food range, kitchenware, etc; some of them quite contradictory with each other and the other things he does), than the fun, quirky chef with original ideas that he was.
24Kitchen, a Dutch food channel, shows some of the tv series of Jamie Oliver, so sometimes when I’m zapping (channel surfing) I see a bit of his series. In this particular bit of episode I saw, he used frozen fruit and yoghurt to make ice-cream. I’ve seen this method before, for example on Saturday Kitchen (a BBC tv series), and in lots of magazines, but I never came around to making it. But this time I had a tiny bit of yoghurt left that needed using up, so this was the perfect moment for trying out this method of making ice-cream. I used 250 gram frozen mango and 50 ml yoghurt, but you can add a bit more yoghurt if you like. When you add too much the ice-cream will become too runny (which is also nice, then you can call it a smoothie). Alternatively you could make this with frozen banana, and maybe also with other fruit, but it should have enough flavour, because things tend to get a bit bland when they are frozen. The preparation is easy, just throw the frozen mango and a splosh of yoghurt in a food processor (if your food processor is small, do it in batches) and blitz until smooth and ice-creamy. You may need to scrape down the bowl once or twice and blitz again to make sure everything is processed. Serve immediately (you cannot store it).
I knew it was easy, but I was still surprised how easy, and how well it worked even in my small, not so powerful food processor. The flavour was lovely clean and mango-y, and if I hadn’t known the ingredients, I would have thought it was an Italian gelato (but it is much healthier than that). Just keep some frozen fruit in the freezer and yoghurt in the fridge (two things I usually do anyway) and voilà: instant dessert!

Pearl barley porridge (pancakes)

A delicious breakfast, a bit different than normal, so perfect for preventing a breakfast rut. Make a batch, keep in the fridge, and take a portion for breakfast everyday. You can serve it warm (microwave it with a bit of extra milk to make it porridgy again), serve it cold with fresh fruit and milk, or make it in delicious pancakes as a special treat.

Pearl Barley Porridge Pancakes

Pearl porridge with dried berries (4 portions)
Adapted from a recipe from the course “The New Nordic Diet – from Gastronomy to Health (University of Copenhagen via Coursera)”

100 g pearl barley
500 ml milk
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100 g dried berries (cherries, cranberries, lingonberries, blueberries, raisins, etc)
Optional: tbsp flax seeds

Rinse the pearl barley. Put the pearl barley, milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir often, certainly at the last bit of cooking, because it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Mix in the dried berries and flax seeds if using. Serve immediately, or leave to cool and store in the fridge. Keeps for about 5 days.

Pearl barley porridge pancakes

1/4 recipe pearl barley porridge with dried berries
splash of milk
1 egg
some flour
a pinch of baking powder
1/2 apple, in very small cubes
a knob of butter
Optional: maple syrup, cinnamon sugar or blackcurrant marmalade to serve

There are no exact measurements for this recipe, just add the amounts that feel right.
Thin the porridge with a splash of milk and the egg. Add enough flour to make it a batter (optional, use a bit of protein powder together with some flour to add more protein to the recipe), then stir through the baking powder and apple.
Heat a skillet, grease with a little butter. Scoop spoons of the batter in the pan, cook on medium-low heat until the top has bubbles and gets dryer, then turn over and cook for another minute. If the bottom burns while the top doesn’t get dry, use a lid on your pan. The pancakes get dark quite fast.
Serve immediately, with the accompaniment of your choice.

Courgette Oatmeal Bars

And here is another recipe to use up courgettes. These bars are soft, sturdy and filling. I like it when things like this are not too sweet, but this recipe makes bars that are really just barely sweet. They were almost not sweet enough for my taste (although my husband adores them as they are), so when you like things to be sweeter, add more honey. They have quite an unique taste and texture, so it is quite hard to describe it accurately. Think more along the line of a sturdy baked oatmeal, than something like a cookie bar. They can be frozen very well, so you can make a batch and eat a square each day as a snack.

Courgette oatmeal bars (18 squares)
Slightly adapted from A Sweet Baker

2 cups grated courgette (about 1 large or 2 small courgettes)
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a 23×33 cm baking dish with baking paper.
Mix courgette, eggs, coconut oil, milk, honey, banana, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla well. Stir through the rolled oats, them fold in the raisins and walnuts.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and flatten with the back of a spoon until it is even.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from the baking dish (using the baking paper) and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for 2 days, or freeze them.

Carrot Courgette Muffins

Another recipe for the courgette surplus. These muffins are very moist, which means that they keep well and can be frozen as well. The moistness mainly comes from the carrot and the courgette, but the muffins certainly don’t taste like vegetables. They are barely sweet, and walnuts add a bit more texture. Because the muffins consist mainly of vegetables and whole wheat flour, and only have a little bit added sugar (in the form of honey/maple syrup) and fat, they are actually quite healthy and filling. My muffins are a bit darker than you can expect from the recipe, because I used stroop (Dutch molasses/treacle), which is darker than honey/maple syrup.

Carrot Courgette Muffins

Carrot Courgette Muffins (12 muffins)
Slightly adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
45 g butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated courgette
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a muffin pan with paper or silicon liners.
Mix flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda, and mix together butter, honey, egg and vanilla extract in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined. Add the courgette, carrot, raisins and walnuts and stir until just mixed. Divide the batter over the muffin cups.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Leave to cool 10 minutes in the muffin pan, then take out to cool further.
Store in an airtight container for 3 days maximum, or freeze.

Stuffed courgette

It’s courgette-time. The courgette plants in our garden are not that productive unfortunately (or luckily?), but they do tend to grow courgettes simultaneously, so you always have more than one, or none. So new recipes that use a lot of courgette are always welcome, and this is my new star.
I usually grill courgette or eat it raw, so when I ate a dish with courgette that was cooked in bouillon in a restaurant when I was on vacation, it was a big inspiration. Courgette can be a bit bland, so flavouring it with a flavoursome bouillon helps a lot. And cooking gives the courgette a completely different texture than when you grill it or eat it raw, it is juicy but firm. Usually with filled vegetables you put them in the oven to cook, but that takes a long time and tends to make the vegetables dry, so lightly cooking the courgette was a great alternative (and also nice to not have to turn on the oven in hot weather).
Couscous spice mix was something I turned to as a shortcut: one of my go-to superfast to cook and not to heavy on the stomach meals is couscous cooked with bouillon, with a “sauce” of beef mince, a bag of precut Provençal vegetables and a packet of couscous spice mix. It’s on the table in 10 minutes max, and is delicious too. And I keep couscous, stock cubes and couscous spice mix in my pantry, and Provençal vegetables and beef mince in the freezer, so it’s a backup dinner as well. But because I like the spice mix, I use it in other dishes too.

Stuffed Courgette

Stuffed courgette (serves 2 generously, or 2 + leftovers for lunch)

3 courgettes
1 vegetable stock cube
150 g couscous
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250 g beef mince
3 tbsp couscous spice mix (amount necessary may differ with the kind of spice mix you use)

Remove top and bottom from the courgettes and half lengthways. Scoop out most of the flesh, chop this up into cubes and set aside.
Bring 250 ml of water to the boil in a pan that can contain the courgettes. Dissolve the stock cube in the water. Add the courgettes and place a lid on the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain, but reserve the stock.
Place the couscous in a bowl or small pan. Reduce the stock to 150 ml, make sure it is boiling, then pour over the couscous. Cover the bowl or pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, sauté on low heat until soft and translucent. Turn up the heat, add the garlic and mince, and fry for a few minutes. Add the spice mixed and the chopped up courgette flesh, fry until fragrant and the courgette is cooked.
Scoop the filling into the courgette halves (you will have generous) and serve.

Roasted paprika pesto

Normally I’m not really into the making pesto from other things than the normal basil, pine nuts and parmezan cheese trend, but this recipe caught my eye. Other than being a sauce type of thing, it isn’t related to pesto, it seems more like a romesco sauce (a Catalonian-Spanish red pepper and almond sauce). So why it is called pesto instead of romesco I’m not sure, but in the end a dish should be tasty, whatever its name is. And this sauce certainly is tasty! It has the sweetness from the paprika, the richness from the almonds and because of the smoky pimenton and roasted peppers it has a lovely depth of flavour. It can be served as a sauce for seafood, chicken, meats and vegetables, but it is also delicious as a dip with bread and crudité. Because of this versatility, and that you can keep it for a week in a clean jar in the fridge, it is worth it to make the whole recipe and use it for several different dishes.

Roasted Paprika Pesto

Roasted paprika pesto (makes a large jar)
Adapted from “Annabel Langbein – The Free Range Cook”

6 red paprika’s
4 tbsp extra vierge olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp pimenton de la vera
4 tbsp roasted almonds (use more for a thicker and richer sauce, and roast them for extra flavour)
salt and pepper

Place the paprika’s on a baking tray and roast them 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven of 240C, or until their skins become blistery and black. Take them from the oven and put them in a closed plastic bag, leave to cool for 20 minutes (they will be easier to peel this way).
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small skillet and fry the garlic and the paprika powders for a few seconds. This makes the taste more pronounced. Pour in a kitchen machine or blender.
Remove the skin and seeds from the paprika’s, but keep the juices. Add the paprika and juices to the garlic-paprika powder mixture, and add the almonds. Season with salt and pepper and blend to a smooth purée. Serve cold or gently heat it in a small pan to serve warm.

Summer couscous salad

Greek salad is a bit of a problem for me. I do like the idea, but I always find it tasting a bit raw and harsh (because of the raw paprika) and it tends to get very wet and soggy from the vegetables, draining away all the flavour of a dressing. Luckily, I found the solution: I made it into a couscous salad, roasted the paprika to make it a bit more mellow, and threw in some other ingredients that I like (roast courgette, almonds and dried apricots, some lettuce from my garden) to make it into a complete meal. Leftovers would be great for lunch the next day.

Summer Couscous

Summer couscous salad (serves 1 generously)

40 g couscous

1/2 courgette
1 red paprika
1 clove garlic
1/2 tbsp olive oil
few sprigs of oregano

2 tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
a few leaves of lettuce
50 g olives
75 g feta
30 g almonds, roasted
30 g apricots, sliced

Preheat the grill as high as it gets.
Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet (it varies between brands). I like to cook it in bouillon instead of water to give it more flavour.
Quarter the red paprika and discard the seeds. Place in a baking tin skin side up and place under the grill, meanwhile slice the courgette and grill the slices in a hot skillet. When the skin of the paprika is black, it is ready. Cover the baking tin with tinfoil and set aside to cool until manageable. Then peel of the skin. Slice in bite-sized strips. (for me, this is the easiest way to grill paprika). Crush the garlic, chop the oregano coarsely and place in a bowl together with the olive oil. Dump the paprika and the grilled courgette into the flavoured oil. Add the couscous and mix. Slice the tomato and cucumber in cubes and mix with the couscous-grilled vegetables mixture. Serve with the lettuce, feta, olives, almonds and apricots. Alternatively, serve the couscous-mix with the feta, olives, almonds and apricots mixed through, on a bed of lettuce.

Whole grain cinnamon swirl bread

Whole grain cinnamon swirl bread should say it all. A delicious whole grain bread base filled with a perfectly balanced swirl of sugar, cinnamon and raisins, to be enjoyed as it is or roasted smeared with butter. Extra perfect, because I could use up some of the grain flakes and other stuff that I had left. Unfortunately, I had some difficulties with this recipe. For some reason (probably my flours) the dough came out much too wet, even after adding lots of extra flour, making it quite impossible to kneed and roll. Luckily, the end result was (even though it didn’t have a perfect swirl) very jummy. I expect that making this recipe is a lot easier when you have a stand mixer. In the original recipe they add the water to the liquid ingredients, I adapted the recipe here to hold it back and only add it (or some of it) if necessary to prevent a very messy wet dough like I had.
The recipe makes two loaves, you can halve the recipe but you can also make both breads and freeze one of them for later use. My loaves are unequally sized because I do not have two loaf pans that are the same size. For that, I used a bit more dough and filling for the larger one, and a bit less for the smaller one.

Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Whole grain cinnamon swirl bread (2 loaves)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

635 g whole-wheat flour
160 g mixed whole grains*
2 tsp salt
50 g brown sugar
1 large egg
55 grams vegetable oil
300 ml lukewarm milk
13 g dry yeast (or 2 packets)
300 ml lukewarm water

100 g sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
85 g raisins or currants
5 g flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Combine milk, sugar and yeast, whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Add the egg and the oil and whisk until combined. Combine flour, grains and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and use a large wooden spoon to mix for about 1 minute. Gradually add the water while mixing, the dough will be coarse and wet, but should not be too wet. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes.
Mix the dough for another 2 minutes with the spoon. The dough should be firm and more smooth, supple and sticky. When it is very wet you can add more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it is very stiff/dry, add more water, a spoonful at a time. Mix another 4 minutes, using the large spoon.
Dump the dough onto your workspace. Knead a few times, form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes (cover with the empty bowl upside down). Repeat this process two more times. Then transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl that is large enough for the dough to double. Cover with cling film and place on a warm spot to rise for about 60 to 70 minutes. The dough should be doubled.
Prepare the filling by mixing the sugar, cinnamon and flour. Prepare your loaf pans by greasing them.
Divide the dough in two. Roll one of the pieces into a rectangle of 40 x 20 cm. Brush the dough with the egg and water mixture. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough, then half the raisins. Beginning with a short edge, roll the dough into a log. Press the seam and ends to close them, and place in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Cover the pans with cling film, placing it loosely on top to keep room for rising. Place the loaf pans on a warm place and leave to rise for about 1 hour, or until the dough crowns about 3 cm over the rim of the pan. Meanwhile heat the oven to 190C.
Place the loaf pans in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. When done, it will sound hollow when tapped.

*Which whole grains to use: rye flour, rye meal, rye flakes, cornmeal, cooked grits or polenta, rolled oats or oat flour, amaranth, uncooked ground quinoa, cooked whole quinoa, quinoa flakes, whole or ground flax seeds (limit this to under 30 grams of the mix), or cooked brown rice, bulgur or barley.
I used 35 gram cornmeal, 30 gram of flax seeds, 30 gram amaranth, 30 gram quinoa flakes and 40 gram of millet flakes.

Pre- and post-workout meals

Did you know that you can maximize the results of your workouts with food? You may think that eating the right foods is only important when you are a big and bulky bodybuilder or an elite sporter, but actually it is beneficial for everyone to think about what you eat before and after exercising, because it is an easy way to get more out of your workouts.

There are several factors important when considering food and exercise. What your body will need pre- and post-workout depends on what kind of exercise you will be doing and for how long.
Hydration is very important in all sports, without enough fluids you will perform considerably less. Water is perfectly fine, because you don’t need extra sugars and the electrolytes you lose can be replenished by the food you eat. Only when you exercise very intensive, for a long time, or on a very hot day, a sports drink can be beneficial to prevent the loss of too much electrolytes. So make sure that you are hydrated before you start with exercising, keep drinking small sips of water during exercising (large glugs can give gastrointestinal trouble) and make sure you keep drinking enough after exercise.
Pre-workout food is meant to make stock up on the important nutrients for exercising. When you’re doing mainly cardio, you need carbs to have enough power/energy to complete an intense workout. Carbohydrates are metabolized quickly into glucose, which is the fuel for your muscles. This also means that you cannot eat them too long in advance, the optimal window is 30-60 minutes before exercise. For a steady energy supply eat some protein and fiber as well, this also prevents a sugar dip. Whole foods like fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are best, because they are nutritionally rich and release energy more slowly than processed/sugary foods.
When you’re mainly doing strength training, you need carbs to have enough power/energy to complete an intense workout but you also need enough protein to for tissue repair/to build up muscles. Because protein takes longer to digest, eat 1-2 hours before workout. Lean proteins like eggs, skimmed milk products and chicken are best.
Make sure you eat not too much, not too fat, and not just before exercising: your body will be busy with metabolizing, which will make you feel tired and will give you gastrointestinal troubles during workout. For the same reasons, don’t eat during exercise. Only during something like a triathlon you will need extra fuel during exercising, special products for such purposes exist.
Post-workout meals are important to supply the body with protein (within 2 hours) for muscle repair and to replenish carbs and electrolytes (within 30-60 minutes) that were used/lost during exercise. The good choices are the same as the pre-workout meals.

I always do a combination of cardio and strenght training when I exercise, so I eat carbs as well as proteins. Because I usually exercise in the evening, just before my evening meal, I really need to make sure that I eat enough before workout. When I don’t, I feel sluggish and tired and cannot do as much as I like. But, when I eat too late or too much, I will feel sluggish too, so I need to eat about 1-1.5 hours before exercise. Try to keep in the advised time ranges, but make sure you listen to your body too, as not everyone works the same. My evening meal is my post-workout meal, that I prepare in advance to make sure that I can eat it when I get home from workout. I make sure that it contains enough protein (a bit more than I usually eat), lots of vegetables, not too much carbs and only a little fat (you do need some fat!); it tends to be a smaller meal than my normal evening meal because I already ate the extra afternoon snack.

When you’re doing mixed exercise, the pre-workout (small) meals and post-workout snacks can actually be quite similar. Here are some ideas:
– Omelette with spinach (or other veggies) and whole grain toast
– Smoothie (with Greek yoghurt, fruits and flaxseeds)
– Greek yoghurt with fruit and a little honey (optional: home-made granola)
– Oatmeal or quinoa made with (coconut) milk, served with (dried) fruit and a little honey
– Whole grain bread/pita/tortilla with vegetables and houmous
– Whole grain toast with nut butter (almond, peanut, etc, choose a natural variant with no additions) and fruit (apple, pear, banana)
– Whole grain toast with fish (canned tuna, canned salmon) and tomato or grilled paprika
– Sandwich with slices of chicken (or ham or turkey) and tomato (optional: cheese)
– Cooked eggs with cajun seasoning (or another spice mix you like)
– Homemade quesadillas
– Baba ganoush with grissini
– Tortilla with ham, (cream) cheese and garden cress/alfafa sprouts
– Tortilla with raw ham, mozzarella and (dried) tomato
– Tortilla with smoked chicken, cream cheese and rocket
– Tortilla with guacamole, tomato, lettuce and smoked meat/pastrami
– Tomatoes or dates filled with goats cheese
– Small portion of leftovers like pasta or rice salad

Pasta with tomato and chicken

This dish is fast, easy, fresh, tasty and healthy. It is perfect for a weeknight dinner on a sunny day, or on a day you want to remind yourself of sun and holiday. Important with simple dishes like these is the use of good ingredients, because you will taste everything. So go for the best pasta, the best chicken, the nicest tomatoes, the nicest olive oil and the best parmesan cheese. I found out that the parmesan I bought at the cheese-monger is not only more tasty, but it is also cheaper and keeps better than the cheese I bought previously from the supermarket. So now I can buy it and use it bit by bit without worrying about the cheese spoiling after a few days!

Pasta with Chicken and Tomato

Pasta with tomato and chicken (2 servings)

150 gram farfalle or penne
1 chicken breast
300 gram small tomatoes, cut in halve
olive oil
salt, pepper
parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta al dente. Meanwhile cook the chicken breast: heat a frying pan with a little olive oil, fry on high heat until brown and crisp on the outside. Season with salt and pepper. Cook further on low heat with a lid on the pan. Take the chicken breast from the frying pan, slice or cube. Fry the drained pasta on high heat in the frying pan used for the chicken (don’t clean!), add a little more olive oil, some salt and pepper, the chicken and the tomatoes. Fry only slightly longer to warm up the tomatoes a little. Put on a plate, grate some parmesan over everything and enjoy.