Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Beef Strips in a Fat Free Mushroom and Red Pepper Sauce

We all love mushroom stroganoff but the cream that is in the traditional recipe is not all that good when you are trying to lose weight and your husband needs to reduce his cholesterol. Thankfully there are ways that this delicious meal can be made healthier.

By making a few simple swaps most meals can be made healthier and better for you. When cooking with meat get better, leaner cuts, when having chicken remove the skin and have more plant based proteins. I know that good cuts of meat can cost more so just add more vegetables, pulses or grains to bulk out the meal. That is what I did with this meal. I used more vegetables, namely mushrooms, which are a great 'meaty' vegetable. Instead of full fat cream I have used quark to make it a creamy sauce.

This recipe was inspired by Gino D'Acampo's beef strips in porcini mushroom sauce from his Pronto book. In Gino's recipe he uses 150g of dried porcini mushrooms which would have cost a whopping £15, just for the one ingredient! This led me to reassess the recipe and make my own changes. I decided to go for a mixture of mushrooms that would all bring their own twist to the dish. The nutty flavour from the chestnut mushrooms, combined with the distinct flavour from the shitake mushrooms and the sweet almond like flavour from the delicate grey oyster mushrooms created a deliciously rich base. Topped with a few porcini mushrooms to add an extra depth of flavour, this sauce is not only cheaper but is also a perfect combination of mushroom flavours that together create a rich sauce that, with the beef, makes a really special meal!

This is what I did...

Monday, 29 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 5

Hello and welcome to week 5 of #MealPlanningMonday.

So, last week, did not go to plan at all! Sunday evening I was struck down by the bug and ended up being off work until Thursday. I had absolutely no appetite so needless to say the meal plan went out of the window! Thankfully we are all better now and starting afresh with a new weeks meal plan.

Last week our shopping was done between Riverford organic deliveries and Asda. We ordered a bumper veg box and a fruit box from Riverford and ordered everyday essentials, such as milk, bread, yogurts from Asda. We are hoping that having the delicious organic veg boxes will encourage us to try more vegetable based meals and having vegetables that we may not always think of buying. I have planned this weeks meals around the vegetables that came and I have to say, I am really looking forward to our dinners this week!

This is what we will be enjoying this week...

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Quick and Easy Feel Better Soup

The dreaded bugs are doing the rounds at the moment and they have hit our house. First Little I had a bad tummy, followed by T and ending with moi!

While Little I was poorly all she wanted was a bowl of tomato soup so I had to get cooking. As much as I love spending time cooking a soup from scratch, using fresh vegetables there are often times when you need to just rustle something up quickly using what you can lay your hands on. But sometimes they make the best meals! On this day, it was the day before we were due to receive our online delivery order so we were running out of fresh vegetables. So I used some of my trusty store cupboard essentials.

This soup recipe uses 5 simple ingredients, is ready in 20 minutes and is a delicious bowl of comfort.

This is what I did...

Monday, 22 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday 2018 Week 4

Hello and welcome to week 4 of #MealPlanningMonday.

What a manic week we have just had! I have been struggling all week waiting for my new glasses, which I have finally got. Yay! On top of that I had a busy week at work, a sicky twin, being mum's taxi and a health scare for the hubby. All in one week! As you can imagine we are pleased that it is the weekend.

Last weeks meal plan was a bit of a flop. We did have a lovely leftover chicken dinner and the chilli con carne but that was all. Life took over and I did need easier meals and even an Indian takeaway. But this happens some weeks. This week and onwards our meals are having to change a little but not in a bad way. The hubby has recently found out that his cholesterol level is too high and after writing about National Cholesterol Month last November I know how serious this is. So from now on gone are processed meats, such as sausages which will be replaced with soya alternatives, any full fat dairy, animal fats and fatty meats. I do always ensure that meats that we have are all lean and if there is any fat on it I do cut it off but I will be keeping an even closer eye on what I buy. After reading into it more on HeartUK I can make a few simple changes which will make a big difference. By having more fruit, vegetables and wholegrain starch and replacing saturated fats with healthy unsaturated fats. By following these steps his cholesterol level could be reduced by 5 - 10%! I will be adding more cholesterol lowering foods into our meals. HeartUK have got a fantastic plan called ULCP, Ultimate Lowing Cholesterol Plan, which consists of 4 groups of foods:
  • Soya Foods
  • Nuts - unsalted and unsweetened
  • Oat and Barley Beta-Glucans such as porridge oats, oatcakes, pearl barley, brown rice and wholegrain breads
  • Foods fortified with plant sterols/stanols such as dairy free drinks, plant based spread and yogurts
Thankfully we like these foods so they should not be too hard to incorporate into our diets. The changes will not only benefit the hubby but will give us all a boost!

This is what we will be enjoying this week...

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

#CookBlogShare 2018 Week 3 - Plus Four

Hello and welcome to week 3 of CookBlogShare 2018!

I hope that 2018 has started off well for you all. For me, it has been a bit up and down, hence the minimum posts at the moment. Before Christmas I was getting a lot of headaches but I knew that I was getting ready for an optical check up so put it down to that. During the Christmas holidays I went for my check up and found that my eye sight has changed but they have also seen some signs of glaucoma. This is something that both of my grandmothers had, but I am only 39, could this really effect me? At the moment I do not know if I have got it or not but I do know that I am getting headaches and eye ache and cannot wait until my new glasses arrive so I can see properly again. In the meantime I am waiting for a hospital appointment where, I should, get a lot more answers! We all take our eye sight for granted until we have problems. I am planning to write a more detailed post during World Glaucoma Week during March, where I hope, I can tell you that I do not have it! But this has been a wake up call and has made me realise how important it is to get your eyes checked even if your sight is good!

Anyway back to food. Last week the CookBlogShare linky was hosted by Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie and there were so many delicious recipes shared. There was a definite healthy feel to last weeks linky and as we are also on a health kick, my four favourite recipes from last week are all deliciously healthy recipes!

Here are my four favourite healthy recipes from week 2 of CookBlogShare...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday Week 3 2018

Hello and welcome to #MealPlanningMonday and week 3 of my weekly meal plan.

Last week I wrote about our new eating plan and am looking forward to our meals this week. I say new eating plan but it really isn't anything new. We are simply combining our favourite parts from various plans and having meals that we will both enjoy but are also healthy. I have tried so many 'fad' diets and none of them last. I stick to them for a while but seem to fall back to my old ways. With this plan I am hoping that it will be a lifestyle change and as we enjoy the meals and will not feel deprived of anything it will be something that we can stick to. We are going back to basics, cutting out processed foods, apart from as the odd treat, filling our meals with vegetables, meats, fish and grains. I am cutting out dairy as I have been having reactions to yogurts and cow's milk but the children will still be having plenty of dairy. Basically we are going to be eating cleaner, healthier meals that do not compromise on taste.

This weeks meals have got a lot of inspiration from Deliciously Ella's cookbooks. I love her recipes but will be adding meats and fish to make them more family friendly.

This is what we will be enjoying this week...

Thursday, 11 January 2018

New Eating Plan Plus Red Cabbage, Sprouts and Giant Couscous Salad Recipe

January seems to be the time of year when everybody either wants to get fitter, eat better, lose weight or simply make resolutions that they know they will not keep. We all do it at some point. I think that is because of all the over indulgence of Christmas and the promise of new times. But when they arrive we all realise that making resolutions do not work. We need to make changes that will last and make realistic goals. If you set yourself goals that are out of reach you will be disappointed when you do not do what you set out to.

As a family we have always been interested in eating healthier, better food. That was one reason that I started to write my food blog. It was my way of showing that even when you are on a budget, you can eat good wholesome meals. Cheap does not always mean processed and lower quality foods. Shop around, go to local independent suppliers, visit the market and find the best prices. In the past we have tried different diets from Slimming World, clean eating, FODMAP I think we have tried most 'fads'. I know that Slimming World is not a fad diet but there are parts that I do not agree with. After trying so many plans we have a good idea of what we like so we have decided to combine our favourite parts of different plans to create an eating plan that is both healthy and something that we know we can stick to.

One of my favourite foodie writers has to be Deliciously Ella. I love how she has changed her diet and improved her health dramatically. Her recipes are great but for us they are missing something. We are meat and fish eaters and this is one food that we will not cut out so meals similar to Ella's but with meats are an ideal choice. I also find that her recipes are quite strict and I understand that, for her, they need to be. So we will be going back to basics, cutting out processed food, cutting out dairy (apart from cheese every now and then!) buying fresh vegetables, fruit, meats and fish, using more grains to bulk out foods but still having wholegrain pasta and other gluten products. We feel that if this becomes a way of life, the health benefits will be worth it.

Today I am sharing with you a really simple, yet really tasty salad that uses some of the best produce that is available at this time of year!

This is what I did...

Monday, 8 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday Week 2 2018

Oh my goodness! I had so much planned for last week but after the Christmas holiday and returning to work and school we were all so tired so once we got home all we wanted to do was rest! We decided that we all needed to have a weekend where we did very little and it has been lovely. It was just what we have needed. We have been in all weekend, had lie ins and have been so lazy. But, for once, I genuinely feel rested. So now I am back on it and have lots of posts planned!

Last weeks meal plan was not a huge success. Life took over and I had to make changes. On Tuesday we did not have the butternut squash orzo risotto as I had a lot of leftover beef so I went for my trusty beef ragu which was a huge success. It really is a family favourite that I must share! On Wednesday we ended up visiting my mother in law and had dinner out with her so that was an easy start to the working week so I still have lots of soup in the freezer that will come in over the week for lunches. Thursday's meals went to plan, yay! Friday was a long evening thanks to an opticians appointment for me so to make life easier I popped into Iceland on my way home and picked up some Slimming World meals. I find that having the hubby on-board I am even more motivated with a healthy eating plan.

I selected my weigh in day to be Friday's and despite only starting my plan on Tuesday I did jump on the scales. The result wasn't great but I did maintain which I suppose is good as I had only been following the plan for three days. In hindsight I should have waited until this week to weigh in but I did not. But never mind, fingers crossed for a better result this week.

Now on to our meal plan. This is what we will be enjoying this week....

Monday, 1 January 2018

Weekly Meal Plan - #MealPlanningMonday Week 1 2018

Hello and welcome to week one of MealPlanningMonday 2018!

I am planning to continue meal planning throughout the new year. I find that having our meals planned it eases some of the pressure of daily life. That is one area that I do have under control, most of the time!

After way too much over indulgence over the Christmas holiday (and in the run up to) both the Hubby and I are going to be following the Slimming World eating plan to get some weight shifted. I have done it before so I know that I can do it again. We are also going to try and complete dry January, this in itself will be a challenge but will give our health a much needed boost. I will keep you updated with how we get on. As soon as January arrives we always crave healthier foods, I think that this is due to all of the sweet treats, drinks and snacks that we all have over the festive season. I for one and looking forward to no more mince pies or puddings!

I have a feeling that this week will go in a flash. Monday is about over, tomorrow the Hubby returns to work then all of the kids and I return on Wednesday. So by the weekend I know that we will have tired children but more settled now that we are all back into our daily routine.

This weeks meals are all easy meals that are Slimming World friendly. I am going to have my weigh in day on Friday so that I can have a treat at the end of the week.

This is what we will be enjoying this week...