alchemysalad

Living lower sugar…in Bali

In this article today I want to give you a bit of a guide and lowdown to how I’ve been living a lower sugar diet in Bali and the practicalities of this.

If you ever come on holiday or to work here, this may be helpful. However, it’s also likely to show you general principles, tips and tricks for keeping a practical healthy when you’re away and reassure you that life can still be lived without overdoing it on sweetness.

Why am I in Bali?

Just quickly I’ll explain this. I’m not on one big holiday as it seems. I’m actually here to focus and get clarity on where, how and what I want to do with Happy Sugar Habits going forward (exciting things in the making!). I’m in a place called Ubud – which is also renowned for it’s yoga and health scene but also now a supportive business community. It’s inspiration on steroids, seriously.

There is a co-working space called Hubud (with a raw food café!), a network of support and a vibrant expat community. I’ve continued to blog, work on projects and coach over Skype much the same as I would in the UK (my clients just see a lot of bamboo in the background!)

You can read more about where I am in this Telegraph article that was published last weekend all about it.

So what’s the deal with the sugar and food out here…

I’m eating out 90% of the time

I don’t really have a fully functional kitchen here so I eat out most of the time. It’s affordable and social. I miss my kitchen and the process of cooking somewhat, and obviously I’m not overseeing what exactly goes in the food, how it’s cooked etc. I know to some this sounds like a dream (no cooking hassle) and to others it sounds like a nightmare (loss of control). I’d be interested to know what your personal thoughts would be if you were to switch to this for a period of time? I have to say I’m really enjoying it, especially now I know where I can get quality goodness at a good price.

The first picture below is a raw food avocado sandwich from Living Food Lab and the second is a DIY salad from Alchemy.

rawlunch

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Experimental vs. home comfort

When looking through my pictures of food I realise I don’t have as many of real local food as I would like. You’re really spoilt for choice in Ubud and can get a very wide range of healthy and international cuisines. One minute I’ll eat really local but the next I’ll just find a feta cheese salad or something. This comes with being away for longer than a month. Sometimes I just want to know what I’m getting and that it’s going to have enough vegetables to make me happy and not too much suspect oil that makes me feel unwell.

I keep largely to the basic principles of eating lots of veg, ensuring some healthy fat (usually avocado, olive oil dressing, nuts or seeds) and some protein (usually eggs, tempeh, tofu, tuna or chicken).

gadogado2

Breakfast

Eggs are in abundance here. Breakfast I’m often having eggs with sides or just some local fruit (banana, mangosteen) with nuts or seeds if I’m not that hungry. One time I ate an avocado and some coconut flakes which was a bit random. Over the past few months I’ve started eating avocado like a fruit (technically it is one anyway).

breakfast

In my homestay where I stayed early on I would have poached eggs, tomato and a watermelon juice plus some nuts I bought myself on the side for healthy fat.

eggsandtomato

The pictures below are breakfasts I’ve had at Clear Café Ubud and Atman Kafe – two places that are more touristy/expat centred but have understood well what the health conscious yogi’s here want.

clearcafeeggsbreakfast

scrambledvegeggs

On the cheaper side, most local warungs (restaurants) you can get a load of greens & a few boiled eggs for less than £1. I’ve also tried some interesting savoury breakfasts like the rice, ginger, peanut and green bean dish in the picture.

savourygingerbreakfast

Pancakes are a common breakfast option here I’ve seen many have. I’ve had a couple – one being at 2am before I climbed a mountain. They are usually dripping in honey and have sugar added to the pancake mix so are obviously not the best regular breakfast to have. Note that day I also had warm banana sandwiches and boiled eggs cooked by the steam at the top. Flipping cool that I had to share!

mountaineggsbanana

Vegetarian focus (Ubud)

I’m not a vegetarian but I’ve been eating a lot more vegetarian. Ubud is this super health conscious bubble in Bali and there’s a big vegan and vegetarian scene. Generally I like this a lot as it means an abundance of vegetables, however sometimes I do find I’m craving more fat and sometimes more protein. Ordering a side of avocado or maybe some tuna helps with this.

The picture below is a tempeh lasagne I had. It was amazing but I was starving after a hardcore yoga vinyassa class and found I was still a bit hungry afterwards – needed more satiating fat!

tempehlasagne

One of my favourite Indonesian vegetarian dishes here is Gado Gado – boiled vegetables, egg, tofu, tempeh and peanut sauce. I’m not sure exactly what they put in the peanut sauce from place to place – but I know it most (if not all) of the time contains two ingredients I’m not a massive fan of – sugar and vegetable oil. Both of these are not ideal but I let them slide as generally Gado Gado is a healthy, cheap local option and I now ask for the peanut sauce on the side so I can dip at my leisure (I once ordered it and it was like a few vegetables in peanut sauce soup!).

gadogado

Sugar on the side

Juices, teas and coffees you usually get a shot of sugar or sugar syrup on the side here. I quite like the concept of this as it gives people the option to add sweetness according to their own taste preference (where I can opt to add none). Wouldn’t it be great if everything had this option?

However sometimes they do automatically add sugar to something like a watermelon juice or iced coffee so I’ve got into the habit of just saying ‘no sugar’ or ‘sugar on side’ when I order. It’s quite widely accepted as a request here – so much so that some places they even ask me before I say it. The picture below is an organic red rice tea I tried – naturally sweet from the rice and no sugar needed (well for me anyway).

ricetea

Drinks

I find in hot countries drinks are tricky because you can crave something more than just water. I written about this here and some tips you can use.

One amazing thing over here is the abundance of limes and coconuts. As an alternative to good old water, my low sugar drinks of choice to quench thirst are fresh lime juice (no sugar added) and young coconut water. Both are low in fructose and super refreshing when cold. You can also get lime and mint blends, water with cucumber and coconut water that’s infused with cinnamon. All totally sugar-free.

limejuice

When I get home, I’m going to make a big bottle of lime infused water and keep in my fridge for the summer! For anyone that complains just water is boring or is still tempted by fizzy drinks, this is a great one to try.

I do also have the occasional watermelon juice. It’s got a high water content and so is really refreshing without being too sweet (just check they don’t add the sugar).

Green juices are all around here. I tend to drink them for added nutrition rather than to quench or satisfy thirst. I also double check how much % fruit they are but I have to say the green juices here are veggie hardcore compared to the 60% apple juice type you get a lot of places at home in the UK.

Watching out for natural sugars

Because of the thriving health scene here, there are lots of ‘healthy’ sweet treats made with healthier alternatives to refined white sugar. Whilst this is great, I recognise this as a potential danger zone for me. You’ll find it hard to get hooked on white ‘sugar’ here but you’ll find it very easy to build up a fructose preference if you’re not careful.

There are loads of bliss type balls made with dates, cakes made with coconut sugar, blended iced drinks sweetened with honey etc. I’ve had a few as a treat here and there because largely I can trust myself more with sweet food, however there are days when I notice cravings creeping up if I go too much on these so I’m still careful. Luckily on the whole my body does tell me when I’ve had enough.

blissball

Sometimes I buy something and just test it out with my own tastebuds to gauge the fructose. For example I found these low sugar biscuits at a place Dayu’s Warung that are sweetened more heavily with coconut. I also found some bliss bars that again use goji berries and coconut rather than dates to sweeten which suffices for less of a fructose hit.

Finally…chocolate banana pizza!

I know this isn’t healthy but I found it amusing. There is a popular pizza joint here and they serve a chocolate and banana pizza. Some of my friends go crazy for it. I would have previously gone crazy for it but actually it makes me feel a bit sick now (I did try one slice of a friends and confirmed this).

chocolatepizza

 

I think it’s a good litmus test to help you determine where you are with sugar. Do you want to eat the entire chocolate pizza? Are you just curious to try a slice? Or does it really not appeal to you for various reasons? I would love to hear in a comment below!

The final message

I know this is a random lot of info but I just wanted to share honestly that I’m not eating super super healthy all of the time but I am still eating a lower sugar lifestyle whilst enjoying myself, being social, doing everything I want to etc. I hope it helps you do two things 1) learn some tips and tricks to use when away 2) know that wherever you are in moving towards a life less sugar, it’s really not a life sentence and can be practically managed.

Any thoughts or questions? Could you eat that PIZZA!!?? LOL

P.S if you like this article then let me know as I’ve got enough material to write a Part II!

P.P.S If you’ve enjoyed these pictures then follow me on Instagram for more and say hello…

@happysugarhabits (lower sugar lifestyle tips and inspiration

@lauraj_thomas (my personal account – food, sunsets and cute stuff)

 

 

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Efficient meal planning & a spicy bean egg bake recipe

Last week I wrote a very long post on where I’m at, so this week I’d thought I’d give you some time back posting a recipe that is quick, easy and suitable for vegetarians. This dish is super efficient and simple to cook. If you’ve got a busy life going on but want to eat filling wholesome home cooked food, then try making a batch of this and see how you go.

I’ve already written about my experiments with a low-sugar vegetarian diet previously, and these days I still try to have the odd week or few days where I eat more vegetarian. This recipe also came about when I got back from being away for a while. I had just a few limited ingredients that needed to suffice until I did a bigger food shop and I needed to ease myself back into cooking more regularly again.

Fair to say, I always keep a couple of cans of tinned tomatoes and pulses in my cupboards ready for recipes like this.

Spicy bean egg bake

IMG_3834

Gluten free & sugar free

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can borlotti beans
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbls cooking fat (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp hot chilli powder (or a bit more depending on your spice preference)
  • 4 eggs (1 for each portion on the day you eat a serving)
  • ½ block of feta cheese
  • Fresh parsley (can substitute dried)
  • ½ lemon (for a squeeze of juice)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method

  • Heat the fat and fry the onion and the garlic for a few minutes until softened
  • Add the red pepper & fry for a few more minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, cumin, curry powder, chilli powder & seasoning to taste and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the 2 cans of pre-cooked beans and simmer at a low heat for 10 minutes.
  • If serving four, make four holes and crack an egg into each then cook over the hob (& finish under the grill) until the eggs are cooked then complete the last two steps.
  • If serving in single portions, divide the mixture into 4 portion sizes and put this portion into a small baking dish, then add the egg in the middle and bake in the oven at 180C.
  • Cook the dish in the oven until the egg is set (about 20 minutes).
  • Sprinkle with feta cheese and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley and add a squeeze of lemon juice to serve.

You can serve with an extra portion of green vegetables (like I did) or with some bread if you prefer.

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Using later in the week

I kept two portions in the fridge and froze another. To cook from the fridge, I came home, put the oven on 180, and put the basic bean mix in the microwave for 3 minutes. I then cracked the egg in the middle and put in the oven for 25 minutes, then added the feta cheese and cooked for another 5 before serving with the parsley and lemon. The frozen one, I just took out of the freezer 12 hours before I wanted to eat it the following week, then followed the above process to cook.

Efficient meal planning

This recipe is a prime example of efficient simple and very healthy cooking. A really geeky part of me loves making healthy cooking fast, easy and simple (but still delicious). I think it’s a freak combination of my process consulting experience combined with my love of healthy eating. This recipe was an absolute winner and when I know I’ve got a busy week ahead, I’ll be repeating it.

If you think you’d find weekly meal plans, shopping lists and full ‘what to do when’ notes helpful then have a look at my (just launched this week!) Mentor Me Off Sugar programmes. Now this is a bit of a plug, but I’ve created 6-weeks worth of very carefully thought-out meal plans & organisation for the programme.

To get everything nutritionally balanced (& of course all sugar-free), make efficient use of all the weekly ingredients, consider cost and make sure the plan keeps one sustained throughout the day was not a straightforward task!

It took time and was in places quite complicated (trust me, it really hurt my head on occasion!). The good thing is though, I’ve done that thinking for you now and I believe by following the meal plans, you’ll not only eat healthy, detox off sugar and the rest of it, you’ll also get loads of ideas on how to save time that will serve you forever (& save you hours).

If you don’t follow things exactly (I’m one of those too) then it will certainly give you a wealth of ideas to piece together your own weekly meal plans that suit your lifestyle. So check out Mentor Me Off Sugar for more details & comment if you’d be interested in getting the meal plans separate to the detox programme (as this is something I’m currently considering).

Anyway, what do you think? Do you find meal planning easy or hard? What do you do? Any good strategies that you use? I am loving your comments at the moment so please share :)

 

sugar-free pancakes

Sugar-free pancake day: Your comprehensive guide

Ok, so it’s nearly pancake day (Shrove Tuesday). One of my health coaching clients has already asked me for some options, so I’d thought I’d present a comprehensive guide around the strategies and options available. This is an area that can be a bit tricky, especially if you fondly remember eating a dozen lemon-sugar pancakes in one night (like I used to!).

This year, I’m actually going to be in New York for pancake day (let’s see how I handle that one!). I’m also having a mini celebration at home with some friends a little earlier before I go. I am likely to of course be in charge of the savoury options…

So the first sugar-free strategy I would recommend is to fill up on delicious savoury options as much as you can. There’s an incredible amount of choice out there on the savoury front and you can hike up the nutrition count with the addition of vegetables.

Here’s a round-up of some of my internet faves that I’ve vetted and collected. All are made with good healthy ingredients, many have some form of vegetable included and there are even gluten-free and egg-free options to suit other dietary needs:

Savoury pancakes

Sweeter pancakes – your sugar-friendly options

Now, if you’re not full from savoury wonders or you’re just still wanting sweet, you have a few ‘better’ options. Whip up a basic unsweetened wholemeal savoury crepe mix and fill with healthier ‘natural’ or lower sugar options:

  • Opt for lower fructose fruit like berries or warm them up in a pan to make a berry compote.
  • Swap a maple syrup for a brown rice syrup (lower fructose alternative).
  • Melt and drizzle a little dark chocolate (at least 85%) instead of the popular Nutella.
  • Make an thicker unsweetened apple sauce-based pancake using your own homemade unsweetened apple sauce (try this recipe).
  • Although a banana is higher fructose, a few slices in your pancake with some full fat natural greek yoghurt and chopped hazelnuts could satisfy the sweet spot in a more natural way than say banana ice cream!
  • Again, make a sweeter ‘base’ pancake using banana. Here’s a gluten-free almond butter based one.

Lemon and sugar

It’s the classic, I used to eat these every year. Not one, but probably about 12 of them. My mum would keep going until me and my brother could eat no more. I estimate about 10-15 teaspoons of sugar were consumed in one of these  pancake evenings…yikes!

If you still really really want your lemon and sugar, start looking at your portion size. Can you stick with just one or two? You could look to try some other more nutritionally charged sugar options like a date sugar or coconut sugar. There are also some more natural brands of stevia out there (like Natvia) that are granulated and can be used 1:1 like sugar if you want to experiment. For my approach on sweeteners in general read why I don’t stand by one single sugar substitute.

My view is that if you’re only having one of these pancakes and you’re not in period of detoxing and feel like you have somewhat got control of sugar, then just try to sprinkle on as little as possible. Half or a quarter teaspoon of refined sugar if you’ve kept things sensible during the rest of the week is a happy moderate amount for an occasion if it’s special to you.

Hopefully there’s an option or recipe for you whatever you’re feeling. As is my general philosophy with annual occasions, if you’re eating less sugar than last year, then you’re making progress. What are you planning on doing this pancake day? Hit me with any other questions in a comment below. Oh and please share it if you think others might find it helpful.

eat less sugar

Poached salmon salad & yoghurt dill dressing

I’ve always loved salmon, however I’ve never actually poached it before. Experimenting in the kitchen is an essential habit to get into and different cooking methods count as much as different ingredients. This salmon salad recipe looks impressive but is surprisingly easy. You can also make it ahead of time and serve later on.

To be frankly honest, I’m really not a super incredible gormet chef or anything. Many of my recipes are simple tasty classics that you can use time and time again once you’ve learnt the basics. Cook this a few times and it’s so easy you should soon learn it off by heart.

I made this last Sunday when it was scorching hot. I kept some of the salmon cold for my salads later in the week. Cook once and eat twice (even thrice); one of the best healthy, time saving tips I can give you!

Poached salmon salad & yoghurt dill dressing

Recipe adapted from www.health.com (pictures my own though!)

eat less sugar

Ingredients

  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 2 inch stalks

  • 5 spring onions, white bulbs left whole and the rest thinly sliced

  • 1 lemon, halved. Half cut into slices and the other half juiced with 1 teaspoon of grated zest

  • ½ tsp salt, divided

  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper, divided

  • 4 salmon fillets

  • ½ cup natural yoghurt

  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill

  • 1 tbls olive oil

  • 1 packet watercress

  • 10 asparagus spears

  • 4-5 radishes, sliced

Method

  • Fill a large skillet or pot with about 6 cups of water. Add the celery, spring onion ends, lemon slices, half of the salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the water with the delicate flavours.

  • Add the salmon where the water just covers all of the fillets (you may need to do two at a time). Gently simmer for 5-8 minutes till the fish is cooked through.

  • Remove the salmon carefully (I did break one!) and let cool

  • Remove the ends of the asparagus and steam for 5-10 minutes until tender

  • Combine the yoghurt, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and remaining salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl.

  • Mix well together

  • Arrange the watercress, asparagus and sliced radishes on the plates

  • Add the salmon and a large tablespoon of the dressing

  • Sprinkle with leftover spring onions and add extra salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

eat less sugar

Take a picture and be proud of your efforts! You could also add some quinoa to this if you want to add a bit more to the meal. Let me know if you try this recipe, it’s great for hot summer days!

Laura x

 

Versatile Lentil Soup

Versatile lentil and vegetable soup

One thing on the sugar diet that makes life easier is avoiding processed or packaged food where possible. Yes, I mean clean eating. It just means that firstly, you don’t waste too much time analysing food labels and secondly, you know exactly what you’re eating. No horse meat, no odd ingredients and of course, complete control over the added sugar.

Fresh soups from the supermarket are often seen as a healthy quick choice. They are of course better than many other things but they are not entirely ‘clean’ and quite often have added sugar, especially tomato, sweet potato and squash varieties. If you’re going to eat a little sugar, wouldn’t you rather appreciate it than have it hidden in your soup!?

Admittedly, I used to eat these soups quite often. This was another shift in my diet over the last two years where I’ve moved more towards making my own. I promise you, it’s not as much hassle as it seems. With my budget and economical hat on, I will also point out that lentils are cheap and using up all the vegetables in your fridge is doing you bit against food waste.

This is my basic, super simple, super easy lentil soup recipe. I add whatever vegetables I have leftover in the fridge and cook an extremely large batch and I freeze a load of portions for emergency healthy ready meals that I can microwave straight from frozen when I am caught out.

Versatile lentil and vegetable soup

Versatile Lentil Soup

Makes approximately 6 portions of soup

• 1 1/2 cups of red lentils
• 1 3/4 liters of vegetable stock
• 2 diced carrots
• 2 diced onions
• 1 tsp thyme
• 4 bay leaves (I used dried)
• 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
• large knob of butter
• 1 tbsp cottage cheese (optional)
• 1 tbsp grated parmesan (optional)

Optional vegetables

Courgettes, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, spinach and peas. Add these vegetables with the lentils and stock.
Leeks and shallots. Fry these with the onion and carrots

Method

1. Fry the onions and carrots in the butter in a large deep saucepan (or two separate ones). Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent
2. Add the lentils, stock, thyme, bay leaves and pepper
3. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 35-40 minutes
4. Blend with a hand blender or you can even skip this step and serve as a ‘rougher’ soup (still tastes   nice!). If blending, add extra hot water to get the consistency you like (I like mine thick)
5. Add the cottage cheese and sprinkle with parmesan and black pepper

Never eat a ready meal again by cooking and freezing your own soup!

almond coated basa

The healthy take on breaded fish: Almond coated basa

When I was younger I used to love breaded fish, including fish fingers and the whole fillets you could bake straight from the freezer. Whilst it’s not the most unhealthy thing on the planet, the bread crumb coating tends to be both processed and refined. Coating fish yourself, you can make this popular favourite a lot healthier with relative ease.

Here’s a recipe below which uses ground almonds instead of refined breadcrumbs and still gives that nice, tasty breaded fish satisfaction (without the need for any breadcrumbs whatsoever). The ground almond coating also make it slightly sweet tasting and supplies that healthy fat element to a meal which will help keep you satisfied.

almond coated basa

 

Almond coated basa fillets (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 2 basa fillets
  • 3/4 cup of ground almonds
  • 3 tbls parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbls dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbls milk
  • knob of butter for frying

Method

  •  Beat egg with the milk in a wide flat soup bowl
  • Combine ground almonds, parmesan cheese and other seasonings again in a wide flat bowl
  • Coat the fish fillets in the egg mixture and then coat in the almond mixture, gently pressing the mixture all over the fish (this gets messy)
  • Heat the butter on a medium heat and fry the fillets 3-5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Fish should flake easily and be opaque in colour.
  • Try not to turn the fish too frequently as the crumb is quite delicate

almond coated basa

The side: Roasted red onion & shallots

I mix and match my veggie sides depending on what I have lying around. I had steamed broccoli along with roasted red onion and shallots which serve as another source of deliciously natural tasting sweetness. I love the fact my taste buds can really recognise all these sweet-savoury flavours properly now. Certainly another incentive to keep an overload of sugary food out of your life.

Roasted red onion and shallots (serves 2)

  • 3 red onions
  • 4 shallots

Preheat the oven to 180C. Toss vegetables in a roasting tray with either olive oil or preferably a teaspoon of melted coconut oil (which is better to cook with at higher temperatures). Roast for 25-30mins and serve.

avocado and cucumber soup recipe

Recipe: Cool avocado and cucumber soup

I think we’ve all got a bit excited this week in the UK, because the sun finally came out to play. Sunshine straight to my head, I suddenly felt the need for something unusual and refreshing. So when I spotted an avocado and cucumber soup recipe in my Integrative Nutrition book, I had to give it a try. Tasty, quick and super simple, it would be a crime not to share this recipe with you.

Cool avocado and cucumber soup

Recipe slightly adapted from Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 small white onion (or half if you want less oniony soup)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4-5 generous tablespoons of natural yoghurt (I used 4% fat)
  • 250ml water
  • salt and pepper to taste

avocado and cucumber soup recipe

Method

  • Roughly chop the onion, cucumber and avocado and toss in the blender
  • Add all the other ingredients and blend until smooth
  • Add more yoghurt, water, salt/pepper to reach desired taste and consistency
  • Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on top to garnish

Verdict

A cold creamy green bowl of goodness, I really enjoyed this and I can’t get over how easy it was. My age old blender coped fine. It was quite onion pungent though. I’d suggest going easy on the onion at first or maybe trying half of one, especially if you’re heading out later and don’t want to have onion breath. Just putting it out there!

avocado and cucumber soup recipe

Have as a mini starter or with a side of some ham and hummus on crispbread to make it into a more substantial meal. If it was really hot you could even have this first thing and you’d be getting some nutritious breakfast vegetable love. I’d definitely go easy on the onion though as this is one thing I still struggle to have earlier on.

avocado and cucumber soup recipe

The only problem with this soup is that I made two lots and it’s now raining today. I just don’t fancy it quite so much. However, I’m blaming the temperamental British weather rather than the soup for that.

 

I know I need to improve my food photography skills...but you can see it still looks nice!

Quick Easy Recipe: Lemon Lamb Meatballs

Wondering what to have for dinner tonight? I have a friend who quite often goes “Lauraaa…tell me what I should have for a healthy dinner tonight pleeeeasse?”. Katie, here you go…why not try these super simple Lemon Lamb Meatballs, a recipe that is now firmly featured in my staple collection for ease and convenience.

I know I’ve predominately blogged on breakfasts and snacks previously, mainly because these are the biggies to overcome with sugar. However, easy healthy homemade meals at anytime of the day, help you avoid any foodstuffs out of a packet that may contain ‘invisible sugar’, another important one to keep an eye on.

There are lots of reasons why I like this recipe. It’s probably fair to say these are general trends of the types of recipes I like…

  • I know I need to improve my food photography skills...but you can see it still looks nice!

    I know I need to improve my food photography skills…but you can see it still looks nice!

    There are not a load of obscure ingredients that I don’t have, or that I have to buy especially.

  • Lamb is very filling. This makes for a very high protein meal that is going to satisfy you, reducing the temptation for sugar or refined carbohydrates.
  • It’s so easy you don’t need instructions after cooking the first time. I’m pretty sure even the worst cook could not completely bodge this up.
  • Extremely versatile. Try with hummus, greek salad, haloumi cheese…or maybe even a tomato based sauce. Yum.
  • Save any leftovers for your salad lunch the next day (I did this yesterday!)

Lemon Lamb Meatballs

Recipe adapted from Balanced Bites

Makes 12-15 meatballs

Ingredients

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  • 1x pack of mince lamb
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Chopped garlic clove
  • 1x tbls of mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Put the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest in a bowl and mix together with the minced lamb.
  2. Form into meatballs and place in a glass casserole dish. Place over a few slices of lemon (this looks good)
  3. Bake in preheated oven of 180C for 15-20mins until the meatballs are cooked all the way through or slightly pink inside
  4. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, greek salad, hummus and even a little natural greek yoghurt.

Granted, it’s not down to a slick Jamie Oliver 15 minutes, but this is going to take you less than half an hour. With so few steps and ingredients, it’s a thumbs up for any busy bees like my friend Katie.

leek and feta breakfast casserole

Recipe: Feta & Leek Breakfast Casserole

As much as I’ve grown to like a cooked breakfast, time’s not always on your side. Scrambled eggs and avocado, whilst relatively quick, does take longer than a cop out bowl of cereal. However there is an excellent time savvy solution – the almighty breakfast casserole.

Once cooked, the breakfast casserole is, quite simply, brilliant for the following reasons:

  • leek and feta breakfast casserole

    It’s quick (microwavable)

  • It’s transportable
  • It’s high in protein
  • It’s a way of getting vegetables in your breakfast
  • You can chuck pretty much anything into it
  • It’s rather tasty (well mine certainly are)

Convinced?

Here’s my favourite breakfast casserole recipe to date. Note, you don’t have to use all these ingredients, you can swap and mix up what you’ve got leftover in the fridge. Economical and efficient. I like.

Feta and Leek Breakfast Casserole

 

Adapted from a base recipe from Our Life In Food

Makes about 6-8 portions

Ingredients

  • leek and feta breakfast casserole

    3 sliced shallots

  • 1/2 grated sweet potato
  • a few florets of broccoli
  • 1/2 courgette
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 1 pot of full fat cottage cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 block of feta cheese
  • Knob of butter or olive oil
  • Good tablespoon mixed herbs, salt & lashings of pepper

 Method

  1. Fry the shallots, sweet potato and courgette in the butter or oil for 5mins until softened and steam the broccoli
  2. Grease a large casserole dish with a little butter and preheat the oven to 180C (fan) and 200C otherwise
  3. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and add the cottage cheese, herbs, pepper and salt to taste
  4. Mix in all the other cooked vegetables and stir well
  5. Pour into the greased casserole dish and sprinkle the feta cheese on top
  6. Bake for 40-50 mins until the eggs are set and the top is golden. This might vary depending on the size of your casserole dish and the thickness of your casserole so check every now and then.

leek and feta breakfast casserole

Enjoy for dinner with some extra vegetables or for breakfast with some wilted spinach and tomato. In a rush? Wrap up a slice in tin foil and take for an ‘out and about’ breakfast or lunch. Even freeze a portion or two for the next week. You can never complain about time again!

If you liked this post, I’m collecting a load of great low sugar recipes, snacks and inspiration together on my Pinterest boards which you can go and check out. And of course, a shameless plug but sign up to my weekly tips and fortnightly newsletter if you haven’t already. I’m in the process of launching a new service around getting ‘sorting’ sugar as so to put it. At the moment it’s exclusively for my subscribers so don’t miss out.

Any suggestions for what would make an even better breakfast casserole? Sausage? Ham? Cheese? Please enlighten me!

Forget yogurts, these are the new way forward!

Super easy and quick almond & pear chia seed pudding

This weekend I played around in the kitchen a little and had a go at an adapted version of Sarah Wilson’s cashwey chia puddings from the Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Cookbook. They take minutes to put together and whilst they are somewhat unusual, the almond and pear combination is a classic that wins over with taste to make these delicious and satisfying. They are quite filling too.

Might be an interesting one to pull out if you are entertaining. Plus chia seeds provide a wealth of nutritional benefit as I describe here so these are a seriously healthy pudding option.

Forget yoghurts, these are the new way forward!

Pear & almond chia pudding

Ingredients (per pudding, scale up depending on how many you need)

  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 12 tbsp almond milk or normal milk
  • 1/2 pear
  • 1x sachet of stevia sweetener (I used pure via)
  1. Chop the pear and put into the cup or container you want to use
  2. Mix the seeds milk and sweetener together then pour into the cups
  3. Put in the fridge to set (preferably for 24hours)
  4. Serve from chilled whenever you fancy!