After thoughts…

It’s been nearly 4 weeks since lent ended, and i confess i jumped head first into my old ways… 1st stop? W.I.N.E!!! I probably drunk a bit too much of the stuff since as well! Ooops.

However, there are certainly a few things from my lent diet that have, and will continue to keep on:

1) Swapping white rice/paste for brown rice/pasta – i totally dig brown rice, it kind of bursts when you chew it:)

2) Seeds and nuts instead of a cereal bar in my lunchbox – definately keeps the hunger at bay!

3) Up-ing the amount of quinoa, beans and jumbo oats i have in my diet – some of the most interesting and delicious things that i cooked over the 6 weeks of lent contained these bad boys.

Ones that didn’t make the cut:

1) Bread replacement recipes: if you don’t have to, don’t bother. There will NEVER be a good bread replacement – if you have to go low GI, do the wholewheat wrap thing instead.

2) Coconut flour cakes. Dry and boring with more than a hint of egg. If you are doing low carb/low GI, almond flour is the way to go – Graze (www.graze.com) have even got on that band-wagon and now make an almond flour brownie, YUM!

3) No/Low fruit – i get that this is key for Lyme sufferers, but i can’t help but think that fruit provides goodness too and shouldn’t just be sidelined. I will of course, continue to eat fruit to my hearts delight!

Lessons learned:

Many. I have learnt more about health & disease-related food and diet in the last 3 months than probably my entire life – it’s amazing what you can control/cure/minimise just by changing a few dietary items or rules. I feel quite empowered with that knowledge and between Paulina and myself, have even had business-related ideas… watch this space!

Day 42 – Mexican Tuesday, Arrrriba!

I mentioned in my last post about wholemeal wraps having a pretty low GI, and still have 5 left in the packet, so thought I’d try something different to my normal fajita fix… and I fancied a bit of a red meat too, so decided on beef enchiladas. I have to say, because I love fajitas SO much, I never bother to make other Mexican dishes, so am not entirely convinced I’ve made enchiladas before!

Filling (made 5):

  • 300g beef mince
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 pepper or a few mushrooms
  • Chillis (to taste)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.

Fry all together in a splash of olive oil – set aside.

Enchilada sauce:

  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp all-purpose seasoning (could substitute for garlic and/or onion powder with a pinch of salt)
  • 2 sachets of arrowroot powder
  • ¾ carton of tomato passata
  • 50ml water
  • A few splashes of chipotle sauce (I used smoked;)

Heat oil, spices and arrowroot for a minute or two. Add tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Season with chipotle sauce to taste.

Construction:

Now, this might seem a little patronising, but I didn’t know how before googling it, so I don’t mean it in a ‘you’re a dummy!’ kinda way!

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  1. Spread a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of a lasagne dish.
  2. One-by-one, construct your wraps: filling, grated cheese and a little enchilada sauce. Roll fairly tightly into tubes and lay in dish seam side down. Repeat until dish full/run out of wraps!
  3. Pour remainder of sauce over the top – cover dish in foil and put in oven (150 degrees) for ~20 mins.
  4. Take off foil and sprinkle some grated cheese over the top of the sauce – a few more mins in the oven should make it all good and melted!

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Day 40 – You can’t always have a winner…

Firstly, i just realised that all my days are out – starting with Day 25 (which should b e Day 26) until now! I only realised this now knowing that 40 days from the start of lent was the Sunday before Easter (that post i did a couple of weeks ago about when lent ACTUALLY finishes should explain…!), but by my squiffy calcs, today was Day 39… clearly a low carb diet is affecting my maths skills…

And so the end is in sight… but I’ve exhausted my baked treats supply and so needed a small stash to keep me going until d-day (Thursday is going to be a total bread-fest, followed by an all-chocolate Easter weekend!). Baking some cookies was also the perfect excuse to use up some of the big bag of almond flour i have sitting in my nano-sized kitchen…

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Be warned – as great as these look ( i think!), they tasted pretty damn bland, which means you probably won’t want the following recipe (makes 6-8) – but they wouldn’t be half bad if you could add something sweet and/or flavoursome to them (chopped apricots, dark choc chips, walnuts??!!) because the texture was great!

Cinnamon Cookies

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g almond flour
  • 25g coconut flour
  • 6 tbsp stevia
  • 5-6 drops vanilla essense
  • 1 tsp (heaped) cinnamon
  • 30g margarine (melted) 
  • pinch of salt

1. Melt the marg, whisk the egg and combine all ingredients to a dough.

2. Make into little balls and pat/fork down on a baking tray/greaseproof paper.

3. Bake at 175 degrees for 12-15 mins.

 

I guess i’ve been missing the bread side of my old diet today as after a flax muffin melt for lunch…

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…i REALLY wanted fajitas for dinner. Problem was, the last time i tried to make fajitas, they were pretty disastrous! I thought i might have a winning ingredient up my sleeve in the form of soy flour however, which meant time to head back to google:

http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Low-Carb-Flat-Bread-Recipezaar?columns=3&position=1/20

Looks great, right? Imagine my excitement! Except the dough never went dough-like, despite my adding flax meal and water (vegan recipes often substitute eggs for this combo, so figured it couldn’t do any harm in the binding stakes) and leaving it for 10 mins to see if it just ‘kneaded’ a little encouragement. Nope – crumbled like an old wall.

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Frustrated, i confess, i turned to the cupboard where i had, last weekend, bought emergency wholewheat and linseed fajita wraps (new at Tesco’s, if you were wondering) and got through two of those instead! Failed!!! Or had i?? I had a quick look online at the GI of wholewheat wraps, and to my utter amazement, one source came up at having a GI of 30! All that effort, and there was a suitable, pre-made product on my doorstep the whole time!

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Why so different to other bread (GI 60 – 95)??? Apparently (without going into details) it’s because of the fat content:

http://www.gnolls.org/1029/fat-and-glycemic-index-the-myth-of-complex-carbohydrates/

So there – i had my first bread sample (and wheat-containing product) in 40 whole days and didn’t even break the Lyme diet code!

 

Day 35 – The curry secret.

I’ve been away with work this week, and lucky for me, booked some self-catered accommodation (this diet isn’t exactly restaurant friendly!). A few of the recipes i’ve tried over the past five weeks came with me in the form of a frozen ready meal – one of them i haven’t yet written about – the humble curry.

A friend of mine was given a ‘secret’ recipe for curry base, supposedly the start of any curry you’d find in a curry house. Luckily, i became privy to it and admit, i’ve made everything from korma to jalfrezi with it, taken a frozen portion out of the freezer when i want something quick to cook (i usually make a batch and freeze into portions!) – i’ve even used it to feed 30+ guests for a housewarming party!

Makes approx. 10 portions

  • 900 g chopped onions
  • 50 g chopped garlic
  • 50 g chopped ginger
  • 1.5 ltrs boiling water
  • 1 tsp salt

Simmer the above in a large saucepan (lid on) for 45 mins. Blend (hand blender) until REALLY smooth (make sure you are wearing an apron!). Next:

  • 400 g tin of tomatoes
  • 8 tbsp vegetable oil (i use olive oil)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric

In a small saucepan, blend the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add oil and spices and cook for further 10 mins. Add to the onion sauce and simmer for about 20 mins – skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

There you have it! A base you can add whatever meat, veg and spices to to create your perfect curry-house-style curry! And you know what? Poppadums are made with LENTIL FLOUR! Eat away!!!

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Day 33 – Treats… sweet and savoury.

Sometimes you just need a cheeky pick-me-up, you know? Like when your other half gets to eat garlic bread with Bolognese and you can’t, or when you really have a craving for some haribo sweets….

Unfortunately, I’ve not come up with any amazing solutions, but maybe something that will take the edge off, starting with aubergine crisps:

Those vegetable crisps you can buy in the supermarket might seem like a good option on the face of it, but they are typically made up of beetroot, parsnip and carrot – all of which have a high GI when cookedL So I tried frying aubergine slithers, but because they are quite a wet, spongy vegetable, probably absorbed a bit too much oil for my liking and even after 8 mins, didn’t crisp up amazingly. Looking on the internet, I may try brushing the aubergine with oil and baking until crispy instead.

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One less fiddly way of getting a ‘naughty’ treat however – sugar-free jelly! One little Hartley’s sachet gets you four puds, or make the mixture with a bit less water and you end up with something that has a closer texture to some jelly-sweets:D

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Day 30 – Thai (not-Gangnam) style.

My parents went off travelling for a year at the start of Feb and I inherited most of their spice cupboard. Amongst the jars was some lemongrass paste, which I’ve decided (from the increased frequency that I have found myself cooking up Thai dishes) that I quite like – especially when teamed with the ‘Thai Spices’ I bought from Aldi 6 months ago and didn’t find a use for until the lemongrass came to stay (when making a Thai curry for example, I would usually just bang in the pre-made paste with some coconut milk).  

I think that having a coconut base, which is obviously a well-used ingredient in many of the things I’ve posted so far, lends itself to trying some new Thai dishes – last night’s dinner was actually inspired by a recipe that was published in the Metro (free newspaper for those who don’t live in a major UK city!). I hope the text in the picture is legible… naturally, I made some amendments!

Lime, Ginger & Lentil Soup

  • I figured the sweet potato was there to thicken the soup (in addition to providing a bit a sweetness), so replaced it with 100g red lentils.
  • I didn’t have any fish stock , so made up a weak vegetable stock (1/2 cube to 500ml boiling water) and added 4 tbsp of soy sauce.
  • Added ½ tsp lemongrass paste and 1 tbsp Thai Spices (spring onion, ginger, coriander, lemongrass, chilli & garlic)
  • Finally, 1 chilli isn’t quite enough for our tastebuds;)

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And wowee!!! This is a keeper!!! Thank you Metro!!!

 

Next up: Thai fishcakes

The BF had some ready-made, potato-based fishcakes in the freezer, and remembering how well the spicy bean and quinoa burgers turned out, figured someone somewhere would have a non-potato fishcake recipe. Ahhh, the wonders of the Google search – found a whole heap! I can’t really attribute these little beauts to any one recipe though as they were certainly the result of a recipe mish-mash:

–          200 g fish of your choice (I had both salmon and basa fillets to hand, so used one of each)

–          50g uncooked quinoa

–          1 onion (finely chopped)

–          2 tsp soy sauce

–          2 tsp sweet chilli sauce

–          1 small handful of chopped coriander

–          1 egg

–          1 garlic clove (chopped)

–          Juice and zest of 1 lime

–          1 tsp lemongrass paste

–          1 tbsp (heaped) of Thai spices (as above, could use fresh instead!)

–          Pinch of salt

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  1. Boil up the quinoa in a 1:2 ratio with water (the water needs to be fully absorbed, or the fishcake will end up a little on the gooey side!)
  2. Fry onion until translucent (~10 mins) – add garlic and fish chopped into small chunks (WITHOUT skin) and fry for an extra 1-2 mins.
  3. Combine all ingredients into a bowl – the egg is particular useful at keeping the fishcake together during/after the cooking process, so don’t worry too much is the mixture is a bit sticky!
  4. Split into 5-6 portions and pat out into 2cm-thick patties using some almond flour to stop it sticking so much – this also makes it go nice and crispy once they are fried up in a sauce pan:) 

Day 27 – The easy options.

As much as this Lyme diet lent has made me think outside of the box, try new recipes and buy ingredients that I never knew existed, there have been times when I simply can’t be bothered to cook – which can pose an issue, given the list of things you shouldn’t eat on a Lyme diet. To clarify, I don’t necessarily mean opting for a takeaway, but more like having pasta & pesto – which requires far less effort that preparing a lasagne from scratch, for example. However, some simple swaps have gotten me through – just a few of the easier, less experimental things I’ve made over the last 4 weeks have included:

Onion-based chicken curry & brown rice (I should confess, I usually make a BIG batch of curry base and freeze in portions for those times I can’t be bothered! Recipe to come!)

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Chicken & Chorizo Jambalaya (brown rice or buckwheat) – Shove a mug of brown rice/buckwheat, two mugs of chicken stick, some chicken, chorizo, garlic, onion, pepper, ½ tin chopped tomatoes and a tbsp of cajun spice in a saucepan – simmer for ½ hour – done (2-3 people).

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Thai vegetable stir fry (no noodles) – Fry whatever veg you can find in a wok with coconut milk and thai spices (can thicken sauce with lentils if you wish!)

 

And last night, sausages, lentil mash & peas – For mash, simmer 1 mug of lentils in 2 mugs of vegetable stock for 20 minutes. The other bits should be straightforward;)

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Day 25 – The Sugar-Free Bake-Off.

What to do on a cold, grey Saturday? Baking. Yep, yesterday was a baking day! I had depleted my stores of peanut butter cookies, chocolate brownie muffins and 85% dark chocolate and the one thing that grey cold Saturdays demand is treats;) I decided to try some sugar-free, low-carb versions of some of my favorite puds – starting with the classic carrot cake.

Carrot Cake

I didn’t really bother to ‘shop’ around for a recipe I liked the look of – I was sold on a picture I found on a pinterest board full of coconut / almond flour desserts (banking this page – there are a few more ideas I want to try!): www.pinterest.com/heiditrejo/coconut-almond-flour-recipes-or-gluten-free/

The direct link to the recipe: www.cupcakeproject.com/2012/03/paleo-diet-carrot-cupcakes-gluten-free.html

My amendments: * 4 heaped tablespoons of stevia instead of maple syrup, * pureed dried apricots (GI of 30) instead of dates (GI of 105!!!), * walnuts instead of pecans, * olive oil instead of the others suggested. I admit, I didn’t get as far as the frosting, but it tasted damn fine to me without it! (If a little on the short and crumbly side;)

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Cheesecake

The picture of the key lime pie on the pinterest board (drool!) also got me thinking that a low-carb cheesecake shouldn’t be out of the question, right? After all, almond flour would surely make a perfect base?

Oh yes, bang on;) www.diabetesdaily.com/forum/recipes/60492-low-carb-cheesecake-crust

Now, I don’t really have a cheesecake baking vessel per se, just a few crockery and odds and sods and tins, so I decided to split the base mix into a med-sized tin with the idea of making a chocolate cheesecake (I added some cocoa powder to the almond base) and a one-man sized ramekin for a lime version (that damn key lime pie picture kept creeping into my baking periphery!).

Next up, daaaan daaaan daaaan………………. Cottage cheese!! Yep – COTTAGE CHEESE!!!

  • But isn’t that dairy?! Yup – and I think I’ve stumbled upon something AMAZING – read the end of this section for enlightenment!
  • But isn’t it lumpy?! It doesn’t have to be – this recipe calls for it to be whizzed in the blender until smooth.

I was a bit wary of this, so only made ½ the quantity that the recipe below makes (which was also pretty convenient as my 250g pot of cottage cheese is approx. the equivalent of 1 cup)

www.allrecipes.com/recipe/omas-cottage-cheesecake/

My amendments: * almond milk instead of milk, * ground arrowroot instead of flour, * for the chocolate mix, no lemon, but two tablespoons of cocoa powder instead, * for the lime mix, no vanilla, juice of 1 lime and grated lime zest instead of lemon.

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Verdict – the textures were spot on (for a baked cheesecake) – i was really impressed! I was a little disappointed in the flavour of the chocolate cheesecake as it was quite bitter – i have found this a few time with the recipes calling for cocoa – i guess the stevia is not quite good enough to counter the cocoa’s bitterness. The lime on the other hand was wonderful! I wish i’d made a bigger version as this got snaffled up straight away!

The cheese story

Cheeses are made from the solid-like curds that result from churning milk. What I didn’t know before today is that lactose is water soluble, thus when the water-like whey is removed, so is the majority of the lactose: cheeses start with only ~10% of the lactose found in milk. In particular, cottage cheese contains ~0.3% lactose – compared to ~5% lactose in milk, I think we can say that it’s a safe ingredient (in addition to being high in protein and low in fat!) What a superfood;)

You know what else? Because of the aging and fermentation involved in making cheddar cheese, it has next to ZERO lactose (~0.07%, in fact!) Vintage cheddar here i come!!! Total game-changer!!!

Day 23 – Ker-pow!

Browsing the isles during my food shop the other day, i came across some pumpkin seeds and oat ryvita crackers… now, i know seeds are good, oats in their whole form are also good, but i’ve not touched rye for fear of it being bad (i have made the mistake of buying beetroot, butternut squash and parsnips recently only to find out they all have relatively high GI values and so have been palmed off on my other half or made in to soups and frozen for post-lent eating!). What prompted me to buy them was the whopping 18.5g fibre per 100g product (i’ve mentioned in a post before that you can subtract these from the carb content to get the net carb gram-age… in this case 56g carbs – 18.5g fibre = 37.5g net carbs per 100g, or 37% carbs) and knowing that rye bread has a lower GI than other breads (although not knowing what that value actually was!). Seems it has a low GI after all:)

Having forgotten the ‘main’ part of my lunch the other day, it’s great to know you can actually pick something up whilst you are out and about. Even better is when your office buddy comes into work having made a positively delicious accompaniment!

Paulina’s totally awesome probiotic sauce for all occasions (in my opinion!):

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250g Natural Yogurt

50g Olive or linseed oil

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tsp green pesto

Salt & pepper to taste…

Don’t be put off that it looks a little radioactive… that’s the turmeric talking! And turmeric is a super-spice as it has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties (and may even help prevent head and neck cancers!) – Take THAT Lymes!!!

Day 22 – Michelin-Star Approval!

There I was, considering my next race, so went straight to the Runners World website when… WOAH!! What did I stumble across?? Only an article about low-carb alternatives to refuelling after a run, complete with recipes from a Michelin-starred chef!! Completely by accident too!!

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/recipes/carbs-reloaded/9328.html

Unfortunately, the recipes containing spelt (#3) and polenta (#5) are a no-no (although they could easily be a yes-yes by substituting the respective offenders for brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, lentils or beans…!), but I’m as pleased as punch to have some new things to try!!

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(Recipes online)
1)      Salad of beetroot, broccoli, quinoa, pomegranate, sunflower & pumpkin seeds

2)      Soft poached egg and ratatouille with buckwheat

3)      Baked aubergine, fresh sheep’s ricotta, millet, parsley and radish salad