Tag Archives: nutrition

Even more awesome muesli: strawberry and pistachio style!

Just a quick post today to show you guys that I do mix up my daily muesli fix sometimes, depending on what I have in the cupboard, and today it was such a winner. I sauteed the strawberries to make a bit of a (sugarless) coulis but kept the bananas raw to change up the textures a bit, and added roughly chopped pistachios on top instead of my customary flaked almonds. It’s kind of a healthier, everyday version of my ricotta pancakes recipe – basically, I discovered how great strawberries and pistachios taste together and wanted to experiment more. (Also, I have all of these pistachios now). Image

And, although it isn’t immediately obvious from the photo (if you can tell, I am seriously, seriously impressed and confused), I’ve started mixing my oats with half apple juice and half water, instead of all apple juice. It started out as a necessary improvisation when I ran out of apple juice, but I think it’s an improvement – it cuts down on the sugar content a little bit and means you get to taste the oats a bit more, and them oats is dee-licious.

I have exciting new recipes to share (think dukkah-encrusted… oh my god) but now it’s time to put that breakfast energy to good use and go for a quick run before uni! Happy muesli-ing, everyone!

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Veguary day 11: healthy pizza time!

The other day I posted about making healthy swaps so you can still eat the foods you love. Because, really, who wants to live on salads forever and ever? Even if they are freaking delicious. One of my favourite swaps was introduced to me by my friend Chris at a pizza-making party (four people and a bottle of wine makes it a party, right?): using lebanese bread as pizza bases!

1 standard pizza base: 657 calories
1 piece of wholemeal lebanese bread: 287 calories

How good is that? It means you can eat twice as much pizza and still be consuming less calories than if you were using normal pizza bases. And this is for the full-size pita pockets, not the mini versions, although if you’re cooking for one and don’t want to make leftovers, you can always use those instead. Not only is wholemeal pita much lower-GI than traditional pizza bases (meaning you’ll get longer-lasting energy from them, and feel fuller for longer) but they’re physically thinner too, so your topping-to-bread ratio is much better. And I’m sure we all know that making food at home is better for you than if you were to buy takeaway pizza… for comparison’s sake, a veggie pizza from Pizza Hut packs a delightful 1472 calories. Eeek. Anyway, I love making homemade pizza – it’s so easy, you can add whatever toppings you feel like and/or have in the fridge, and next-day-pizza is famous for being just as good (if not better) than fresh from the oven!

Here are a couple I made the other night – a traditional veggie pizza and a slightly more ‘pizza nouveau’ option. You might as well make two pizzas at once for a bit of variety – if you’re an omnivore, you can do one with meat or one without, or if not you can do what I did and go for a tomatoey one and a cheesy one.

 

 

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Pumpkin and ricotta pizza

  • Half a butternut pumpkin
  • Light ricotta
  • Grated parmesan (or any other sharp cheese)
  • Grated mozzarella
  • 1 large wholemeal pita pocket

Preheat your oven to 180C. Roughly chop the pumpkin, cover with water and microwave for 5 minutes. Add a good sprinkling of parmesan and mozzarella to the ricotta (enough to thickly cover your pita bread) and combine. Drain pumpkin and mash roughly. Spread the cheese mixture on the pita, top with pumpkin mash and season with pepper and any herbs you have lying around. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the pita is golden and slightly crispy.

Roast veggie pizza

  • 1 large portabella mushroom
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 eggplant
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1/2 small tub pizza sauce (I’m a Leggo’s girl, myself)
  • Grated mozzarella
  • 1 large wholemeal pita pocket.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Slice veggies thinly and roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until slightly softened. Spread pizza sauce on your pita. Add veggies, top with mozzarella, season with pepper and herbs, and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the veggies are soft and the pita is golden and crispy.

Serve with a side salad (or perhaps some cauliflower soup!) and enjoy the smug satisfaction of having made something delicious and super healthy. Smug face, GO!

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Almond ricotta pancakes with strawberries and pistachio crumble

It’s pancake day! It’s pancake day! It’s p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p pancake day!

Just me? Okay then.

Such are the joys of being on holidays that, despite it being a Tuesday, I could spend a lazy hour making and savouring these delicious pancakes. I was inspired by a post on Esme and the Laneway featuring banana bread covered in lashings of yoghurt and raspberries and topped with crumbled pistachios. It just looked so pretty (the colours!), and I knew it would taste delicious, too. So I thought, since it’s Shrove Tuesday today, I’d do a pancake version instead. And I think I’ve hit upon a new weekend breakfast standard. These things are way too good to just have once a year…

Almond ricotta pancakes with strawberries and pistachio crumble

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Makes 2 serves

For the pancakes:

  • 1/2 cup white self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp natvia (or 2 tbsp sugar)
  • 2 tbsp light ricotta
  • Cooking spray

For the topping:

  • 200g strawberries
  • 30g pistachios
  • 80g low-fat vanilla yoghurt
  • 20g honey

Mix the two types of flour together in a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and quickly stir until well combined. Lightly spray a pan and add 2-3 pancake-size dollops of batter at a time (depending on your mad pancake skills, and/or how big your pan is), turning when the batter starts to bubble. Hull and slice the strawberries and roughly chop the pistachios. When your pancakes are done, stack and assemble: dollop yoghurt on top, drizzle with honey, add your strawberries and top with pistachios.

So. Good. And these babies come in at only 483 calories per serve. And none of this ‘one pancake is a serve’ business – these are decent stacks! They use ricotta instead of butter (it tastes better, I swear – lighter and fluffier, which is ideal for pancakes!), almond milk instead of milk (again – pancakes that taste slightly nutty is a win in my book) and natvia instead of sugar (I didn’t notice the difference). I also substituted half the flour with wholemeal for longer-lasting energy. If I’d made these the ‘normal’ way, they’d be 737 calories per serve. Big difference! That’s the best thing about learning to make healthy substitutions – you can still eat the food you want, you just find ways to make it lighter and better for you. Having said that, I still wanted pistachios on top of these, and I wasn’t about to substitute them for no thing, no how! It’s all about striking a balance. Here’s a list of easy swaps you can make for day-to-day things:

  • Almond milk instead of milk (about half the calories, higher in protein – lower in calcium though, so make sure you’re getting your calcium elsewhere!)
  • Low-fat vanilla yoghurt in place of cream/ice cream with desserts (surprisingly awesome!)
  • Multigrain bread instead of white (Lawson’s seed and grain bread is the bomb)
  • Cottage cheese instead of cream cheese (I used to eat carrot sticks and Philly on a regular basis but cottage is much lower in calories!)
  • Cooking spray instead of oil (it’s the same thing but you use less and get better coverage)
  • Rice crackers instead of potato chips (rice crackers can still be a pretty high-calorie snack as they’re so moreish – check the nutrition label)
  • Brown rice instead of white (takes longer to cook but keeps you fuller longer, so you don’t need as much as you would white rice)
  • Light wholemeal pita bread instead of pizza bases
  • White corn tortillas in place of wheat ones
  • Homemade sweet potato chips instead of frozen chips/wedges (just chop, season and roast – easy as)
  • Multigrain/wholemeal anything instead of white (wholemeal will usually give you longer-lasting energy)

And some cheeky halves I enjoy:

  • Use half beans and half mince instead of all mince when making anything Mexican (lower in calories and cheaper!)
  • Substitute wholemeal flour for half the white flour when baking (see above!)
  • Half wholemeal pasta and half white (wholemeal can take a bit longer to cook – check the packet to be sure)

Substitutions I’ve tried or heard good things about, but have yet to cook myself:

  • Chocolate mousse made with avocado and cocoa instead of eggs (delicious, creamy, vegan, and doesn’t taste like avocados, I swear!)
  • Banana icecream, made out of nothing but bananas (also vegan!)
  • Nutritional yeast instead of cheese (again… vegan)
  • Quinoa instead of rice (higher in protein!)

Do you know of any good healthy substitutions? Or amazing pancake-spiration for Shrove Tuesday?

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Veguary day 6: Veggie soft tacos

I’ve already spoken about my obsession with soft tacos. I never understood how great they were until I left home and started cooking for myself. There’s no need for a side dish or any planning whatsoever – just chuck things into a tortilla and devour. My non-Veguary standard easy dinner is composed of: 2 soft tacos, 100g prawns (both of which can be kept in the freezer), enchilada sauce, spinach, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, capsicum, garlic and chilli (all of which I always have on hand in the fridge). The vegetarian version takes a little more forethought, but not much! It’s inspired (read: stolen) from Mad Mex, one of those Mexican ‘nouveau takeaway’ chains where you pick your burrito style, pick a protein, add one of a variety of salsas, and they make it for you on the spot. Kind of like a Mexican Subway, but… well, nicer, and somewhat less processed.

Roast veggie soft tacos!

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  • 2 white corn tortillas
  • 1 portabella mushroom
  • 1/4 eggplant
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 1/2 lebanese cucumber
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 125g can 4 bean mix (use black beans if you can find them!)
  • Old El Paso enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 brown onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 20g light tasty cheese
  • Olive oil and pepper

Pop the mushroom, capsicum, eggplant and zucchini in a baking dish, add a splash of olive oil, pepper and any herbs you have on hand, and roast on 180C for 30-50 minutes, depending on how hungry you are. When you’re 5 minutes away from hunger implosion, brown the onion and garlic in a small saucepan, then add beans and enough sauce to cover. In a dry (not oiled) frying pan, toast the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side. Layer each tortilla up with the roasted veggies and bean mix, with a few slices of avocado and a sprinkling of cheese on each one. Pop the tacos back into the oven to melt the cheese while you cut the cherry tomatoes in half, chop the cucumber into slices, and take the spinach out of its bag and put it onto a plate (salad: done!). Add the now-melty-and-delicious tacos to your plate. Arriba!

Total calories: 367.

PS: this is a very easy dish to make twice the amount of for the next evening. Just make double the roast veg and use the whole tin of beans (plus two cloves of garlic and half an onion instead of a quarter) and keep the roast veggies and bean mix in containers in the fridge, ready to reheat – you can toast the tortillas and assemble it all in no time the next day!

I really do implore anyone committed to the ideal of being healthy while maintaining absolute laziness to keep a selection of roast-able veggies in the crisper, ready to go. There’s nothing worse than getting home from a massive day and knowing that, before you can even EAT, you have to think of something to cook, go to the shops, and then cook the damn thing. Any meal involving roast veg generally tastes like it’s taken a bunch of effort, despite being very much a ‘set and forget’ kind of situation.

Also, I discovered the wonders of white corn tortillas at my local Coles while comparing labels. I was tossing up between the ‘light’ and ‘multigrain’ options when I noticed these little fellas on the bottom shelf. They’re super low in calories (90 calories for two – even the 96% fat free tortillas are 130 calories for one) as they’re made from corn instead of wheat. You do have to toast them lightly in a pan before you use them or they’ll taste a bit gluey. But at 45 calories apiece, you can afford to go all out with your fillings, which is a much more satisfying way to eat anyway!

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Veguary day 5: raisin d’etre

Veguary is rocking my socks. I’ve made a lot of exciting new recipes over the past few days, as well as adjusting my stock-standard easy weeknight meals to be vegetarian, which is forcing me to be a little bit creative! But this post is not about that. This post is about the meal I’ve had by far the most feedback on: my muesli. Oh man, do I love muesli. I happily eat it pretty much every day – during summer, at least. The thought of caramelised bananas and delicious yoghurt is what gets me out of bed in the morning. But change is good, and the other day I was reminded of an amazing breakfast I had in Perth at a super-cute little cafe called Toast. So, I tried my hand at recreating it (with a bit of a healthy makeover, as usual)! Presenting:

Loaded Raisin Toast!

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  • 2 slices raisin bread (try to steer clear of bread that’s sliced super-thickly, sometimes sold as ‘cafe style’, or you’ll add a fair few more calories)
  • 1 banana
  • 100g strawberries
  • 25g light ricotta
  • 5g honey
  • 5g flaked almonds
  • dash of nutmeg

Lightly saute strawberries in a pan until they’ve softened a bit. Toast your raisin bread. Spread ricotta onto the toast, drizzle honey and sprinkle a bit of nutmeg, then load up with banana slices, strawberries and almonds.

I’m not a huge fan of toast in general, mostly because it’s usually served with a bit of spread and not much else. It means that your morning meal – the one that’s supposed to fuel you up to get on with the day – is pretty much all carbohydrate. I try to eat most of my meals according to the quarter plate rule, where half the plate is fruit or veggies, a quarter is protein and a quarter is carb. This take on toast, with the added ricotta and almonds for protein, gets a bit closer to that ideal! It comes out at a nice square 400 calories, too – not bad for a good, filling breakfast!

Light ricotta is pretty brilliant, too – 25g is only 23 calories, and it adds a great creaminess to the dish. I bought it with the intention of making more baked ricotta but it’s awesome with fruit on toast! I may try making ricotta pancakes next – pancake day is coming up, after all…

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Veguary day 4: roast pumpkin, hazelnut and goat’s cheese salad

 

 

Salads. Love ’em or hate ’em. I used to be a hater, I admit; the word ‘salad’ conjured up images of flavourless iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers that could barely fill up a rabbit – that, or bitter greens drowned in vinaigrette. Ugh. Fortunately, I learnt that there is so much more to salad than lettuce and raw veg – warm ingredients! Nuts! Cheeses! I started seeing exciting salads in restaurants and on food blogs (Sarah Becan’s comic, Sauceome, fuelled my salad excitement quite a lot). I began my love affair with spinach and roasted vegetables. It made sense. It was time to start making fun salads. I think my first venture was an overly optimistic garlic prawn / honey-roasted pear / parmesan / prosciutto / walnut / spinach number, which, although tasty, was loaded down with ingredients that didn’t necessarily go together. I basically walked through the supermarket adding things that I thought would be good in a salad. Yesterday’s salad, though, was something I’d had in my head and been keen to make for some time. Presenting:

Roast Pumpkin, Hazelnut and Goat’s Cheese Salad

 

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  • 125g pumpkin
  • 25g hazelnuts
  • 30g goat’s cheese (chevre)
  • A couple of handfuls of mixed leaves of your choice (I went with rocket and spinach)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Pepper

Chop up the pumpkin and pop it in the microwave in boiling water for 4 minutes (this way, it won’t take ages to soften when you roast it). Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare your vinaigrette – combine the olive oil, balsamic, a little squeeze of lemon and a dash of pepper and shake to combine. Drain the pumpkin and spread the pieces out on a baking dish to roast with a bit of olive oil, pepper and any herbs you have handy. After 10 minutes, add the hazelnuts on a separate dish. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until the hazelnuts are golden under their skins and the pumpkin is slightly crispy on the edges.

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Like this!

Roll the hazelnuts between your hands in paper towel to get rid of the skins. If they don’t all come off, that’s fine – just get rid of the majority of the flaky stuff.

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And it’s salad assembly time! Throw those leaves in a bowl, add the pumpkin, chuck in the hazelnuts, crumble the goat’s cheese on top, drizzle your vinaigrette and serve with a few lashings of pepper, if that’s your thing.

Man, this salad was delicious. Not to mention filling! I challenge all you salad haters to give this one a try. I made double the pumpkin to make today’s salad a bit quicker, but you should roast the hazelnuts fresh each day or they’ll lose their crunch. Not a pumpkin fan? The great thing about salads is that you can throw in whatever you like (although you might want to learn from my mistake and not throw in too much). A good, simple salad will have one thing from each of these categories:

  • Leaves (spinach, rocket, pre-packaged salad mix, butter lettuce)
  • Veggies or fruit (pumpkin, roasted capsicum, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, snow peas, mushroom, pear slices)
  • Cheese (goat’s cheese, blue cheese, parmesan, feta)
  • Protein (hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, roast chickpeas, slices of leftover roast chicken, garlic prawns, prosciutto, boiled egg)

You can also add a grain (like quinoa, rice or pasta) if you want to beef up your salad a bit. If you stick within those parameters you can come up with some pretty awesome combinations – my mum makes a salad with chicken and beetroot that not only tastes delicious but stains the chicken a bright jewel pink! I think my next salad will be a beetroot, goat’s cheese and walnut number. And by ‘next’ I mean after I have exhausted all supplies of pumpkin in my house, because damn it, this salad is rockin’.

Got a food/fitness/nutrition question? Leave it in the comments or email it to luluintherunningshoes@gmail.com! I’ll be answering all your questions in an upcoming ‘Ask Lulu’ post, so keep ’em coming!

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Veguary day 3: ‘Accidental Salad’.

Remember how, the other day, I posted about failing happily? Well, today’s culinary experiments were a great example of that. I had been planning on making these vegan spiral wraps:

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Don’t they look tasty? And, well, easy? The recipe is pretty foolproof: spread some roasted capsicum spread on lavash bread. Add various other ingredients. Roll. Consume.

still managed to screw these suckers up.

The key ingredient, as you can see above, is edamame – delicious little Japanese beans that are pretty popular in the foodie world (you can find a billion recipes incorporating them on Pinterest). I expected to at least be able to find canned or frozen edamame, but neither Coles nor Woolworths came up with the goods, and even the local Asian supermarket (surely!) had nothing. Oh well. I shelved the idea until today, when I figured the wraps would be a good way to use up various leftovers. With edamame out of the picture, I scoured my shelves for some other protein, and came up with a can of chickpeas. Brilliant! Off they went into the oven to be roasted, along with a red capsicum and some pumpkin that I parboiled in the microwave first to save time.

For my wraps I used mountain bread, which I’ve been keen to try out for a while now. It’s only 74 calories per wrap, which is teensy. If you’re following the rule of quarters and want to up your veggie quotient while decreasing carbs, it’s a good substitute for bread! I do love me some nice, silky-soft grain bread, but every once in a while it’s good to change things up.

First step: spread the wrap with roasted capsicum spread, add 1 grated carrot, then go nuts with whatever veggies you want to use up. I added spinach (as per usual), 1/4 avocado and the aforementioned red capsicum, pumpkin and chickpeas. Look at it, all ready to roll!

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Aaand then I tried to roll it up. Turns out mountain bread, due to its thinness, has a tendency to completely rip to shreds if you try to roll too much stuff in it. Whoops. After a brief detour via the toasted sandwich maker to try to salvage the situation, this was the end result:

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Yup. That’s a fail. I accepted the embarrassing fate that I’d have to eat my ‘wrap’ with a knife and fork, so it was really more of a salad with large mountain bread croutons than anything else. Having said that, it was still super tasty! Next time I may have to streamline the ingredients somewhat, rather than trying to stuff as many veggies in there as possible. And maybe I’ll manage to track down some edamame before Veguary is out and make these things according to the recipe!

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