Archives for the month of: March, 2013

The cheese adds a real depth of flavour to this simple soup: blue cheese is great in this, too, but a mature Cheddar is just fine. My teenagers love this soup and so do I!

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Recipe for Broccoli and cheddar soup (serves 3)

Ingredient Calories per serving
10g/2 tsps butter or oil 24
60g (1 small) onion, diced 8
335g (2 medium) potatoes, diced 86
750ml vegetable stock 10
135g (1 small head) broccoli, broken into florets 13
70g Cheddar cheese, grated 40
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 180

Method: Cook the onion in the oil or butter over a low heat until transparent. Add in the diced potato (I didn’t bother to peel mine) and stir until coated in the fat. Pour in the stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, then add the broccoli florets and cook until tender (about 5 minutes more). Remove from the heat and liquidise the soup to your desired consistency. Stir in the grated Cheddar, reserving a little to decorate the top of the soup, if you’re so inclined. Taste, season if you think it needs it and serve.


Winter Vegetable Soup

This soup takes less than ten minutes to prepare, and then you can leave it alone to cook and it will be ready just 30 minutes from when you started. I made it before I went to work and put my portion into a Thermos flask for lunch.

Recipe for Winter Vegetable Soup (serves 2)

Ingredient Calories per serving
10g/2 tsps butter or oil 36
225g parsnips, peeled and trimmed 84
100g carrots, peeled and trimmed 21
100g leek, trimmed 31
1 tsp cumin seeds 4
1 tsp fennel seeds 3
500ml vegetable stock 3
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 190

Method: Cut the trimmed vegetables into similar-sized chunks of about an inch/2cm. Heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and stir in the chopped vegetables and spices. I went for a fragrant mix of cumin and fennel in this soup, but add whatever spice or herbs you fancy – spices and herbs have the great fasting-day advantage of being both low-calorie and high-flavour! Cook over a lowish heat for a minute or two, stirring, until the spices are fragrant, then pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Blend the soup to the consistency you like in a blender or food processor. Season to your taste and serve.

Pasta, pepper and feta salad
Recipe for Pasta, pepper and feta salad (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
75g wholewheat penne 250
20g feta cheese, diced 53
100g red pepper, seeded and diced 31
2 kalamata olives, sliced 10
pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 345

Method: While the pasta’s cooking, slice and dice the other ingredients and put them in a bowl. Drain the pasta and toss with the cold ingredients. Grind fresh pepper over the salad and serve.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara

Carbonara traditionally includes ham or bacon. Here I’ve replaced the meat with mushrooms, for a vegetarian, lower calorie version of the dish without any compromise on flavour.

Recipe for Vegetarian spaghetti carbonara (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
300g wholewheat spaghetti 261
25g/1oz butter 45
220g mushrooms, diced 12
3 eggs 47
65g cheddar 28
20g parmesan 22
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 415

Method: Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms until soft. Beat the eggs and grate the cheeses. Put a little of the parmesan to one side. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it, return it to the hot pan and stir the eggs, cheeses, seasoning and cooked mushrooms. The heat from the pasta will turn the eggs into a thick sauce. Dish up the meal and sprinkle the spaghetti with the reserved parmesan.

I served this with broccoli. 200g of broccoli adds 15 calories to each portion.

Sweet Potato and Lentil SoupRecipe for Sweet potato and lentil soup (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
2 tsp butter or oil 17
220g onion, diced 22
2 tsps cumin seeds 4
1 tsp turmeric 2
2 cloves garlic, crushed 2
1 chilli pepper, sliced 1
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated 5
570g sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped 128
1 litre/4 cups stock 10
¼ cup red lentils 42
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 235

Method: Heat butter or oil and gently fry the onion until soft. Stir in the cumin, ginger, turmeric, chilli and garlic and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the pieces of sweet potato, then add the stock and lentils. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potato pieces are tender. Blend the soup to a thick purée, taste, add seasoning if needed, and serve garnished with some fresh coriander/cilantro or parsley leaves.

Quick Pitta PizzaQuick Pitta Pizza (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 wholewheat pitta/pita bread 170
50g cherry tomatoes, halved 9
40g light ricotta cheese 40
3 kalamata olives, sliced 15

Total calories per serving: 235

Method: Toast pitta on one side, then flip over, arrange the tomatoes, cheese and olives on top and toast under grill/broiler for 2-3 minutes, until hot.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Bake

I happened to have more cauliflower than broccoli, but you could use equal quantities of each, or just one of them.

Recipe for Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Bake (serves 3)

Ingredient Calories per serving
480g cauliflower florets, cut into even-sized pieces 40
100g broccoli florets 12
25g/1oz butter 60
25g flour 30
1 cup/250ml milk 41
1 cup/250ml water 0
80g cheddar, grated 46
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 230

Method: Steam the cauliflower for around 15 minutes and the broccoli for around 5 minutes, until they are tender. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a pan and stirring in the flour. Cook over a low heat for a minute or two, to allow the flour to expand a little, then gradually stir in the milk and the water. Cook over a medium heat until the sauce is thick, then remove from the heat and stir in two-thirds the grated cheese and seasoning.

Tip the steamed vegetables into a shallow, ovenproof dish, pour the sauce over, and top with the remainder of the grated cheese. Broil/grill for 5 minutes or so, until the top is starting to brown, then serve. I served this over a baked potato each, bringing the total calorie count to 380 for the meal.

The list of ingredients for this looks long, but it’s really easy to make and keeps well in the fridge if you prepare it a day or two in advance. We’ve still got snow on the ground here, but at least I can pretend I’m somewhere warmer when I’m eating this!

I used some leftover roast chicken in this, but you could also use uncooked chicken – just brown it with the sausage.

Recipe for Jambalaya (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 cup brown basmati rice 169
50g hot dry-cured sausage such as chorizo, diced 57
100g (1 large) onion, halved and sliced 10
2 red peppers, cut into large chunks 9
4 cloves garlic, crushed 4
1 chilli pepper, sliced 1
2 cups/500ml chicken stock 5
400g tomatoes (canned or fresh, blended to a purée) 18
1 tsp cayenne pepper 1
1 tsp thyme 1
1 tsp oregano 1
few drops Tabasco Sauce 0
salt & pepper 0
225g cooked chicken, diced 85
150g cooked or raw shrimp/prawns 45

Total calories per serving: 405

Method: Pre-cook the rice by simmering it in a pan with a cup of water for about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to one side. In a big frying pan, heat the sausage pieces over a medium heat until lightly browned, then put them to one side. The pan will now have a light coating of fat from the sausage, which you now use to gently cook the onions and peppers for a few minutes, until the onions are transparent. Add the garlic and cook for a few more moments, before adding the chicken stock to the pan, followed by the herbs and spices and the blended tomatoes.

Next, add the partially-cooked rice, the sausage and the diced chicken and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about half an hour. Stir in the shrimp/prawns in the last five minutes or so (and for a little bit longer if they’re raw, obviously).

Bean burger, fries and salad

Recipe for Bean Burgers (serves 3)

Ingredient Calories per serving
250g cooked beans (I used white haricot/Navy beans) 117
1 onion 15
70g carrots 10
70g red pepper, cut into small dice 7
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground 3
2 cloves garlic, crushed 2
1 tsp chilli powder 5
salt & pepper 0
1 egg 21
2x75g breadcrumbs 200

Total calories per serving: 380

Method: Grate the onion and carrots (easiest if you have a grater attachment for a food processor). Mash the beans until there are only about a quarter of them left whole (ideally, use a processor for this too). Mix the beans with the onion and carrot mixture, then stir in the spices, one of the portions of breadcrumbs, garlic and red pepper. The mixture should be firm enough to form into burger shapes. Add water or flour if it needs moistening or firming up.

Form the burgers and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. I froze them for an hour or two to make them easier to coat with the egg and breadcrumbs: they’re a bit soft to handle otherwise. Beat the egg and tip it onto a plate, with the remaining breadcrumbs on another plate. Then coat the burgers with the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs. Put them back on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F/180°C.

I served this with the fries I’ve made before. With those fries and the salad, the whole meal came to about 550 calories. I just gave more of the fries to the others to bring my portion under the 500.

Another very simple dish with a good slug of protein in it, which makes it an excellent way to break a fast if you’re delaying your first meal of the day for as long as possible. I ate this at 11am, which was 16 hours after my last meal. More of an early lunch, really…

I’ve never eaten an egg with a crumpet before, but it was a fantastic combination – definitely one I’ll be having again. I can’t get nice crumpets here, so I have to make my own, but you could replace the crumpet with an English muffin for roughly the same number of calories. I used lean peameal bacon here, but a thin slice of good ham would work well, too. If you can get hold of back bacon, just use the lean part for this recipe. If you’re vegetarian, you could replace the meat with 50g sliced mushrooms, cooked in a teaspoon of butter, for the same amount of calories.

Breakfast stack

Recipe for Breakfast Stack (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 crumpet or English muffin 120
1 slice ham or lean bacon (50g) 50
1 egg 65

Total calories per serving: 235

Method: Toast crumpet and dry-fry bacon (if using) and egg. Assemble in a stack and enjoy!