Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ful Medames

It is thought this dish dates back to Pharaonic Egypt, and it is now a staple for breakfast in large parts of the North East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. I fell in love with ful in Yemen, where we were served it most mornings along with their wonderful freshly baked flat bread. 

 Ful in Yemen, served with bread for scooping up. Cutlery was rarely provided. 

Some people like it completely mashed up with the consistency of mushy peas or even a smooth mash, but if I am not serving it with bread I prefer it with some of the beans retaining a little of their original shape, just for some texture. I am not sure how authentic the fried egg is, but who cares...

Husband said he wasn't convinced about beans for breakfast, until I reminded him he loves baked beans with his fry-up. “But that's baked beans, they're OK” was his reply. Ugh, you can't win...

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

1 cup dried fava beans, soaked overnight
2 tsp bouillon powder
2 small onions, chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
handfal flat parsley leaves, chopped
2 eggs

You need to really start this two days before you want to eat it, soaking the beans overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans and cook them in a large saucepan with water and bouillon powder for an hour until the beans are nice and soft. Drain and retain the cooking liquid. You can of course get up early on the morning you want to eat this to cook the beans, but I am so not a morning person that I prefer to cook them the day before. I suppose you could leave them overnight in a slow cooker.

Heat a pan with Fry Light and sauté the onions and cumin seeds until soft. Add the cooked beans and mash using a potato masher; or if you want a smoother consistency, use a hand held blender. Add enough of the cooking liquid or water to get a consistency of porridge. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Leave on a low heat while you fry the eggs.

Stir the parsley in to the bean mixture, dish out on to two plates, and top with a fried egg. 


Friday, 29 June 2012

Carrot cake

My favourite cake is very much out of bounds while trying to lose weight, so I thought I'd try a little experiment, by combining the ever-so-succesful oat pancake recipe, the half-syn roulade recipe and a traditional carrot cake recipe.

The result was way better than I had hoped for. The cake was light, moist and tasty, with the consistency of a bread pudding, and the taste was very much carrot cake.

I made one with icing and one without, and we both preferred the naked version.

I bought some 4-inch children's cake tins yesterday in The Range for £1 each, and they were ideal to make two small cakes. I am sure it would work with one slightly larger tin too, but you will have to adjust the baking time accordingly.

Serves 4*
1 Syn on Extra Easy**
** Providing you use the oats as your Healthy Extra B

* I made two cakes, and we did eat a whole one each, but half a cake would be enough for one person really, we were just being greedy.

You could, of course, omit the sultanas and make the cake almost syn free, as there is only ¼ syn in the baking powder. I thought the sultanas were worth the syns though.

70g porridge oats
1 tub Müllerlight mandarin yogurt
2 small carrots, finely grated
½ cup sweetener or to taste
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
20g sultanas (total 3 syns)
2 eggs, separated
½ tsp baking powder (total ¼ syns)

Icing (optional)
2 tbsp quark
2 tbsp sweetener

Start the day before you want to eat the cake. Soak the oats in the yogurt with 1 tbsp water, the spices and sweetener overnight. In a separate small bowl, soak the sultanas in just enough water to cover them.

The next day, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the baking powder. I find it is best at this stage to taste the oat mixture and adjust the spices or sweetener if necessary. Mix together the oats, grated carrots and sultanas with the egg yolks and stir thoroughly. Carefully fold in the egg whites and pour into two greased 4-inch cake tins. Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the top feels spongy. Mine took a bout 17 minutes in total.

Mix together the quark and sweetener for the icing if using, and spread across the cake.

Enjoy a guilt free cake with your morning coffee! 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Crêpes Suzette

This is the Slimming World version of this wonderful French classic recipe. You can add Grand Marnier or brandy should you wish, but don't forget to calculate the syn value if you do. 


Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp sweetener
2 heaped tsp quark
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 oranges
fat free mandarin yogurt to serve

First remove the skin and pith from the oranges and cut into segments. Keep in a microwavable bowl. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Whisk together the egg yolks, quark, sweetener and vanilla essence in a separate bowl and fold in to the egg whites. 


Heat a frying pan with Fry Light and pour half the mixture in – the batter will be much thicker than normal pancake batter so you will need to spread it out using a spatula. Cook for a couple of minutes until set – do not be too impatient as it seems to cook slower than normal pancakes – then carefully turn and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side. These pancakes are quite fragile, so it pays to be gentle when you turn them.

Fold the pancakes on to a plate, briefly heat the orange segments in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and serve with the mandarin yogurt. 


Beef Stroganoff

Traditionally stroganoff is served with chips, but I decided to serve the it with plain boiled rice and some broccoli to ensure I get plenty of superfree.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra easy

300g lean beef
2 onions
1 green pepper
125g baby button mushrooms
200ml fromage frais
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp bouillon powder
½ tsp sweetener

Rice and vegetables to serve

Thinly slice the beef into sliver and chop the onion and pepper. Sauté with the mushrooms in Fry Light until the beef is browned and the onion soft. Meanwhile boil rice for ten minutes and the vegetables to your liking. Take the meat off the heat for a couple of minutes, then stir in the fromage frais, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, bouillon powder and sweetener. Stir well to ensure it is all mixed and heated through.

Serve with the rice and vegetables. 


Lentil and Vegetable Medley

Lentils are frequently on the menu in this house – they are cheap, nutritious, low fat and delicious! I often use them instead of potatoes or rice as an accompaniment to meat dishes. In this instant it is the lentils themselves that are the star of the show.
I used urid dal for this recipe, but any lentils would do. I often add an extra onion in dishes such as these, partly because I love onions, partly to bulk the dish out a bit, partly to make suer I get my superfree in.

Serves 2
½ Syn on Extra Easy

1 cup lentils
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
handful green beans, chopped
2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ bunch basil leaves, torn
2 tubs Müller Light coconut and vanilla yogurt
bouillon powder or stock cube

Fry the onions in Fry Light for a few minutes, then add the lentils, enough water to cover and the bouillon powder or stock cube. Bring to the boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it does not boil dry. Add more water if necessary. Add the carrots, green beans and chilli and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked to your liking. I like mine only just cooked with a little bite in them still. Add the tomatoes and stir well for a minute, then take the pan off the heat. Let it cool ever so slightly for a couple of minutes, then stir in the yogurt and basil. 


French Toasts with Bacon and Banana

I love the combination of fruit with savoury dishes, and banana and bacon goes remarkably well together. Of course, this would have been even nicer made with thick white bread and drizzled with maple syrup......, but considering the difference in calories and syns, I think it is worth it.

Serves 1
Syn Free on Extra Easy

2 slices wholemeal bread from 400g loaf
2 eggs
cinnamon (optional)
sweetener to taste
2 slices bacon, all visible fat removed
1 banana, sliced

Whisk the eggs with sweetener to taste and add cinnamon if using. Soak the bread in the egg mixture and fry in a little Fry Light until nicely browned on both sides. Grill the bacon until cooked to your liking. Serve with the banana. 


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Baked Spaghetti 

This is an excellent way of using up leftover meat and vegetables. You can of course use any kind of cooked meat – gammon goes particularly well.

Serves 4
Syn Free on Extra Easy*

* Providing you use the cheese as you Healthy Extra A

300g wholewheat pasta
400g cooked meat
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 leek
4 eggs
100ml fat free fromage frais
2 tsp bouillon powder
180g mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Boil the spaghetti for 10 minutes, drain, and using scissors, cut into smaller lengths by sticking the scissors in the drainer randomly.

Sauté the onions and peppers in Fry Light until soft. Add the leeks and fry for a couple of minutes more. Mix in the spaghetti and stir well.

Whisk the eggs with half the fromage frais and 1 tsp of the bouillon powder. Stir into the spaghetti mixture and place in an oven proof dish. Mix the rest of the fromage frais with the remaining bouillon powder and enough water to give it a pouring consistency. Drizzle over the spaghetti and top with the mozzarella slices.

Bake at 200°C for 35-40 minutes, until the egg is set. Serve with a salad. 


Smoked Salmon with Jewelled Scrambled Eggs

I often find it difficult to ensure that I get my one-third superfree in with my breakfast, so I am always trying to think of ways to add extra fruit and vegetables to the first meal of the day. Adding the tomatoes and spring onions to the scrambled eggs helps me out this time. Husband is not keen on smoked salmon, so I served it with Parma ham for him. You can also have bacon with it of course.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

4 eggs
4 smallish tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
200g smoked salmon
a few dill sprigs
lemon to serve

Arrange the salmon on the plate. I always like to take my smoked salmon out of the fridge half an hour before serving, as it has so much more flavour when it is not so cold. Mix the eggs well together with a fork and add the spring onions, tomatoes and chopped dill. Scramble in a pan with a little Fry Light until just set. Sprinkle a little freshly ground black pepper over and serve with half a lemon each for squeezing. 


Barley 'Risotto' with Carrot and Celery

This a slight twist on the standard risotto, and makes a pleasant change. If using pearl barley, you need to adjust the cooking time accordingly; I used barley grain which required a cooking time of 45 minutes.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

½ cup barley grain
1 ½ cups hot flavoursome stock
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
½ pkt basil leaves, torn
3 tbsp fat free fromage frais

Sauté the onion in a little Fry Light for a few minutes, then add the barley grain and celery and stir well. Add the hot stock, a ladle full at the time, stirring well and ensuring all the liquid is cooked in before adding the next. This will take longer than normal risotto made from rice, but doesn't seem to require quite so much attention. About half way through the cooking time, add the chopped carrots and continue cooking in the same way until all the water is used up and the grains have a softer consistency but still retain a little bite. Take the pan off the heat, add the fromage frais and basil leaves and adjust the seasoning. 


Egg and Bacon Salad

I wanted a quick and easy dinner tonight before we went out to a talk, so grabbed a packet of salad leaves from the fridge and had a quick look at what else was in there. The result was surprisingly nice for such a simple dish.

Serves 2
Syn Free on Extra Easy

packet of mixed spinach, watercress and rocket leaves
2 eggs
4 rashers bacon, all visible fat removed
½ tub fat free natural yogurt
1 tsp mint sauce
1 tsp sweetener

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, drain, peel and quarter. Grill the bacon to your liking, then roughly chop. Place the salad leaves on two plates, top with the egg and bacon.

To make the dressing, combine yogurt, mint and sweetener in a bowl and stir well, adding water until it reaches pouring consistency. Drizzle over the salad. 


Layered Raspberry Mousse

Served 4
1 Syn on Extra Easy

2 sachets of raspberry sugar free jelly crystals
2 tsp powdered gelatine
400g fresh raspberries
225g fat free natural fromage frais
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp sweetener

Place four wine glasses in the freezer to chill. Dissolve the jelly crystals in 150ml of boiling water according to the packet instructions, then top up with 400ml cold water.

Bring the glasses back out from the freezer, and place about 1/3 of the raspberries in the bottom of each glass. Pour in 1/3 of the jelly and put back in the freezer for 10 minutes to set.

Combine the fromage frais, vanilla essence, half the remaining raspberries, half the remaining jelly and the sweetener in a bowl and add this in a new layer to the glasses. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes to set.

Arrange the rest of the raspberries on top and pour in the last of the jelly. Leave in the fridge for at least two hours to set. 


Key Lime Pie

I have really got the fat free baking bug now, and decided to have a go at another adaptation of the original half-syn roulade recipe, this time turning it into a key lime pie. Waitrose do the best version of this American dessert, but I needed something that fits in with the Slimming World plan. The name comes from the small key limes that are prevalent throughout Florida and the pie dates back to the 19th century Key West – the original recipe used the chemical reaction between the lime juice and condensed milk to 'set' the pie. It is thought the local sponge fishermen created the recipe out of necessity – being at sea for days on end without a fridge or an oven, they took with them foods that weren't perishable or didn't need baking, such as canned milk, sugar, limes and eggs.

I am not sure if the same reaction would occur between fromage frais and lime juice, so I have used gelatine in my recipe. These days, because of the health scares of eating raw eggs, key traditional lime pie is usually baked anyway. Because the cheesecake I made became quite 'floppy' with just one packet of powdered gelatine, I played safe this time.

Serves 8
3 ¼ syns for the whole cake

generous ½ cup buckwheat
2 tbsp sweetener

¼ tub quark
2 eggs
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sweetener

500g tub fat free fromage frais
1 ¾ tubs quark
1 cup sweetener
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 packets sugar free lime and lemon jelly
zest and juice of 3-4 limes

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm spring form cake tin by spraying it with Fry Light. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and dry toast the buckwheat until they start to brown, 3-5 minutes. Switch off the pan, add 2 tbsp sweetener, the ginger and ca 1 tbsp water to mix it all in. Stir until all the water has evaporated. Quickly line the bottom of the cake tin with the buckwheat and leave to cool.

Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks with a quarter of one of the tubs of quark, the baking powder and 2 tbsp sweetener. Carefully fold in to the egg whites. Pour mixture on top of the buckwheat in the tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin. Don't worry if the cake looks very high at this stage, it will settle down when it has cooled.

Using an electric whisk, beat together the fromage frais, the rest of the quark, 1 cup of sweetener, the lime zest and vanilla essence. Place the lime juice in a non- metallic container and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Dissolve the contents of the packets of jelly powder in the lime juice and beat well to ensure it is properly mixed. Allow to cool a little before gently mixing in to the fromage frais mixture. Spread the mixture over the cake and leave for at least two hours to set. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Teriyaki Beef and Lettuce Cups

Makes 10 lettuce cups
5½ syns for all of them or ½ syn each

350g trimmed sirloin steaks
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce

75g basmati rice
stock cube or bouillon powder
4 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
1 tub Muller Light coconut and vanilla yogurt
1 tsp Thai red curry paste

10 little Gem lettuce leaves
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
a few coriander leaves to decorate

Slice the steak into thin slivers and marinade with the teriyaki sauce for at least 30 minutes. Heat a frying pan until very hot, spray with a little Fry Light and cook the steak slivers for a couple of minutes until done to your liking.

Boil the rice in stock for ten minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Mix the yogurt with the Thai curry paste and stir in the rice, chopped coriander and spring onions.

Break off the lettuce leaves and place them on a serving plate. Top with the rice mixture, then arrange the steak strips, red onion, chilli and coriander on top. Serve as part of a finger buffet, or they would make a nice starter for a dinner party.