04 August, 2011

High protein, high fiber breakfast pancakes

Have you ever thought about the word breakfast? I, for one, spend much time pondering random things such as word origins, and not long ago, my musings led me onto the word breakfast. The Danish word for breakfast, morgenmad, is as simple as can be. It just means morning food. The English word, however, is slightly more interesting. The word breakfast has nothing to do with breaking something swiftly. Instead, it indicates that with your first meal of the day, you break the period of fasting which you have undertaken since your last meal of the previous day (unless you are one of those sleep eaters; I watched a documentary once that showed a woman getting out of bed in the middle of the night, cooking a full on meal and eating it, and having no recollection of it the next morning. But that's a whole other story).

Personally I like to break my fast gently, and although many a health buff has tried to convince me that the ideal way to start a day is with eggs and beans, I just prefer my breakfast soft, comforting and mildly sweet. That being said, I can quite clearly feel the benefits of having fibre and protein with my breakfast in terms of how quickly I get hungry again, so when I stumbled upon the idea of making pancakes which were high in fibre and high in protein, I knew I had to try it. These pancakes are 25% protein, 63% carbs and 12% fat, and one portion (half of the recipe underneath) comes in at around 150 calories. I top that up with a huge pile of fruit and some almonds, and aim to land at 250 calories all together. Best of all, this portion keeps me full until lunch time!

Breakfast pancakes:

2 portions, 6 little pancakes all together

60 grams rolled oats
60 grams banana
3 egg whites (I use pasteurized egg whites, since they are already separated from the yolks, and happen to know that 3 weigh 100 grams)

Stick it all in a blender and blend until smooth. Add water until the dough has pancake consistency  - I use just under 100 millilitres. I cook them without oil or butter on a non stick frying pan. I find that the key to not making them stick is having the pan very hot. Watch them carefully, and turn them when the upper side is bubbling and you see little holes in the dough. It will take about a minute, if that.

Ps. I call these breakfast pancakes because in my world, if they are the small and fat variety, as opposed to the thin full-pan sized pancakes that are traditional in Denmark, they are for breakfast.  However, you are very welcome to enjoy them any time of the day :)

27 July, 2011

Pasta free spinach and ricotta cannelloni

On Monday night, I desperately fancied spinach and ricotta cannelloni, but with my current slimming efforts, having both pasta, ricotta cheese and bechamel sauce in one meal was out of the question. I couldn't quite let the idea go though, and I came to think of how raw foodists use julienned zucchini to replace spaghetti, which inspired me to take the same approach to my cannelloni craving (only with every intention of heating it to above 42 degrees!). It was a bit of an experiment, but it worked really well, and I would definitely make it again. I will never love it as much as I love the real deal, but you know, needs must!

The below recipe is what I made for one, and I had a little left over. I doubt it could have served two though.

Spinach and ricotta zucchini cannelloni:

Serves 1

1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400 grams)

1 tsp butter
1 tsp plain flour
150 ml milk

1 zucchini
150 grams frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted
100 grams ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper

First, make your favourite tomato sauce (or crack open the jar, if your favourite comes in one of those). I sautéed a finely chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, poured over a tin of chopped tomatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper, added some fresh basil and left it to simmer while I got on with the rest of it.

Next, prepare a bechamel sauce. Seeing as I was only making enough for myself, I used just a teaspoonful of butter, the same amount of plain flour, and 150 millilitres of milk. Regardless of the quantities you are using, make a roux by melting the butter and stirring in the flour, then add the milk gradually and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

T0 make the cannelloni, wash the zucchini and trim the ends off. Now cut it into thin slices lengthwise. I found this tricky and actually mauled an entire zucchini trying to make it work (thankfully I had bought two). I tried using a carrot peeler, but it wasn't wide enough. I ended up using my mandoline, which made slices that were far too thick, and then carefully slicing those in half.

In a bowl, mix spinach and ricotta, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Now lay out three or four zucchini slices next to each other on a cutting board, overlapping slightly by about half a centimetre. Place a couple of spoonfuls of the spinach and ricotta filling in a line across all the zucchini slices, close to the end nearest you, and roll up the zucchni slices into a little tube around the filling.

Spread out some of the tomato sauce over the bottom of an oven proof dish. Arrange the zucchini tubes next to each other on top of the tomato sauce, top with the remaining tomato sauce, the bechamel sauce, and perhaps a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Bake at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the bechamel sauce is golden and the zucchini tubes are soft.

I had this as is, but had I been less impatient, or maybe serving it to company, a simple salad with rocket leaves and roasted red peppers, and maybe a nice glass of red wine, would have suited this dish well.

23 July, 2011

Banana whipped oat porridge

For three or four weeks now, I've been slimming down for summer, as they say. Not that it looks like summer is planning on coming to Denmark any time soon, but I'm going to Barcelona in August, and surely it will be summer there! After a full two months of revising and exams, during which I had eaten literally nothing but s#!t, some serious effort was necessary to get me bikini-ready, so now I'm doing what I always do when things need to happen quick  - I'm counting calories!

I often find that counting calories is somewhat frowned upon, but frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn! Counting calories works for me, it has done before and it will do again this time, and what's more, I can see results quite fast, which is really the only thing that can convince me to keep going. Obviously I hope feel completely certain that this will be the time I don't gain the weight again, but we'll see.

Either way, as of now, I'm counting calories, and a few people inspired by the few kilos I have lost so far, asked me to share some of my favourite low calorie meals here. So I will, starting with what I've been eating for breakfast for the past couple of grey, rainy mornings: Oat porridge with banana and skyr (or fromage frais), topped with almonds and dessicated coconut. Oats for fibre, banana for sweetness, skyr for protein, healthy fats from almonds, and dessicated coconut for... well, I don't know if it's good for anything, but it sure does taste good! If anyone knows that it is good for something, do fill me in :) All together, it makes for a warm, comforting breakfast, which keeps me full until lunchtime.

Banana whipped oat porridge for one:

30 grams rolled oats
30 grams banana, thinly sliced
Just under 2 decilitres of water (1,8 decilitres, maybe?)
50 grams skyr (Or fromage frais of low fat Greek yoghurt)
10 almonds, roughly chopped
5 grams dessicated coconut

Add the oats, banana and water to a saucepan, crank it up to the max and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. As it starts to boil it will thicken, and as you stir vigorously, the bananas will disintegrate and become one with the oats, leaving no lumps but only the lovely sweetness of bananas. When your porridge has boiled for a minute or two, and the porridge has thickened, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Now, stir in the Skyr and top with chopped almonds and coconut. For extra luxury, add a sprinkling a cinnamon. Enjoy!

If you can't be bothered with the saucepan, I find it works just as well to add the oats, banana and water to a microwavable bowl and zapping it for 2 minutes on max, followed by a quick stir, but I do enjoy the old school method.

This portion is 250 calories.

14 July, 2011

Macaroni cheese

An American classic, which I have eaten from a tin when I was in England, but which tastes a gazillion times better when it's home made. It's not healthy by anyone's standards, but it's good old fashioned comfort food, perfect for a rainy day, which seems to be all Denmark has to offer at the moment. Using cheddar is textbook, but I prefer a combination of gouda and parmesan. My boyfriend prefers it topped with breadcrumbs, I prefer slices of tomato - so we do both!

Macaroni cheese:

Enough for four people, or maybe two if you're pigging out!

1 large tbsp butter
1 large tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tp paprika
500 ml milk
100 grams grated gouda cheese
50 grams grated parmesan cheese
250 grams pasta (I suppose you should use macaroni, but my shop doesn't have it)
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs or tomato, optional

Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Boil the pasta, preferably for a few minutes less than suggested on the packet.

While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. First, make a roux by melting the butter and stirring in first the cayenne pepper and paprika, then the flour. Cook for a minute or so, then gradually add the milk while whisking constantly. When all the milk has been added and the sauce has thickened, add the cheeses and season with salt and pepper.

Combine the cheese sauce and cooked pasta in an oven proof dish. For a crunchy topping, top it with a thin layer of bread crumbs and perhaps a few knobs of butter. Alternatively, top it with slices of tomato. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and your topping is starting to brown.

I had it with a breaded Quorn fillet and roasted asparagus, and you can bet your last Mcnugget it was delicous!

04 July, 2011

Kidney bean patties

These patties are really versatile, and could probably be served in any way you could imagine. As a perfect light summer meal with a filling salad, on a cold autumn day with potatoes, gravy and boiled vegetables, stuff into a pita bread with crunchy vegetables and a dressing - the possibilities are endless! I made them sort of meat ball sized, but if made slightly bigger, they would be great in a veggie burger as well. The taste great cold for lunch the next day too!

Kidney beans patties:

1 tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed (230 grams drained)
1 egg

1 onion
3-4 tbsp breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp finely chopped almonds
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme)

Place the kidney beans in a food processor and process until the beans are roughly chopped. Place the chopped beans in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients to make a dough. Leave the dough to rest for about 30 minutes, then shape the dough into patties. I used about a tablespoonful of dough for each patty. 

To bake the patties in the oven, place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes, turning after 10.  Alternatively, you could fry them in a bit of oil, in which case they would probably look much prettier and golden than mine did. However, they taste great baked in the oven, and you get 20 minutes to finish whatever you fancy eating with them.

29 June, 2011

Chilli sin carne

Long time, no blog! Today I finished my last exam of the season, and I am now free. Free to sit in the sun, should I so desire. Free to watch tv without feeling quilty. Free to roam the streets of Copenhagen, and free to cook food; glorious, glorious food!

Tonight, I had a scrumptious vegetarian chili, served with a tomato salsa and guacamole. Rice would have been delicious, but alas, I can allow myself no such luxuries! Two months of time consuming exams have led me to buy slightly too many take away pizzas, and as of yesterday, I am officially cutting down on carbs. Now let's see how long it lasts...

The photo is terrible, but a chilli is surprisingly hard to photograph, and I was too hungry to mess about.

Chilli sin carne:

Makes enough for about 4 people.

1 tbsp vegetable oil, I used olive
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tins of tomato
1 red and 1 green pepper, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 tin of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tin of borlotti beans (or another type of beans, whichever you prefer)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp samba oelek
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Sauté the onion and garlic in a bit of oil until soft and translucent. Add the two tins of tomato and about a tin of cold water. Add the diced peppers, celery, beans and spices, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes, while you prepare whatever you want with it: Rice, bulgur, a salad, tortillas, guacamole, creme fraiche  - anything you like. Remember to fish out the bay leaf before serving :)

19 June, 2011

Rye bread crisps with tomato salsa, pesto and fromage frais

I had this in a café a week or so ago, and it was so damn delicious, I had to attempt to make it myself. My efforts were not in vain! This turned out great and was really easy to make. I'm pretty sure I'll be having this for lunch a few times a month from now on.

I feel I should mention that most of the pesto in the picture went back in the fridge afterwards, I just didn't have any smaller bowls. But everything else was just right.

Rye bread crisps:

This portion feeds one hungry person.

2 slices of rye bread*
1 tbsp rape seed oil
Coarse salt

Heat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Soak the rye bread in water for about ten minutes, then let it drain in a sieve or colander. Place the rye bread in a bowl and use a fork to mash it with the oil  to make a thick dough.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Use the back of a spoon to make thin circles of dough. I use about a teaspoon of dough for each circle. You can place the circles as close to each other as you want, they don't change size or anything while baking. Sprinkle with salt and bake in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they go crisp and the edges are blackened slightly. When done, let them cool for just a few minutes before picking them of the baking tray.

*I'm sure there a many types of bread out there that go by the name rye bread, but when I say rye bread, I mean Danish style rye bread, similar to what I believe they call schwartzbrot in Germany. Check out this random picture I found on Google if you don't know what I mean.

Tomato salsa:

Tomato, diced (I used 8 of the plum and cherry variety)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Combine everything in a bowl. Mix. Done.

Serve the rye bread crisps and tomato salsa with fromage frais or similar and a green pesto. Mine was a parsley pesto, but to be honest I can't remember what I put in it, so you'll have to live without that recipe for now :)