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!

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.

 

healthy salad recipes

Healthy salad recipes: 3 tasty ideas to try

I eat a lot of salads, even when it’s freezing. I just find my own healthy salad recipe is the easiest way to get a perfectly balanced nutritional meal with the least hassle. You can tweak it to perfection, adapt to your own taste, and make it as big (or small) as your appetite requires.

Admittedly however, sometimes I make rather ‘standard’ healthy salad recipes. Plain tuna and pesto chicken I am somewhat over. Those are order of the day when I’m in a rush and I just stick to what I know, or what’s left.

Last week, I made a real effort to try out some new things to add to my salad repertoire. So here’s some healthy salad recipe inspiration as we head into Spring (at last!).

As you will see, I have a pretty staple basic salad with the same ingredients. It’s makes the weekly shop easy and practical (I like easy and simple).

Healthy salad recipes

Roasted squash, goats cheese and seeds

healthy salad recipes

  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Raw mushrooms (one of my favourite salad ingredients!)
  • Red pepper
  • Olive oil drizzled over
  • Goats cheese
  • Mixed seed mix
  • Roasted squash (roasted in coconut oil and cinnamon = delicious)

 

Smoked trout & rocket salad

healthy salad recipes

  • Spinach
  • Rocket
  • Cucumber
  • Yellow pepper
  • Raw mushrooms
  • Half an avocado
  • Smoked trout
  • Quiona/ryvita/slice of rye bread (optional)

For the dressing:

  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Black pepper (lots)

 

Wasabi prawn salad

healthy salad recipes

  • Spinach
  • Rocket
  • Cucumber
  • Red pepper
  • Raw mushrooms
  • Olive oil drizzled over
  • Quiona/ryvita/slice of rye bread (optional)

For the prawns and sauce:

  • Cooked prawns
  • 1tbls sour cream
  • Wasabi paste (to taste)

Prawns tend to need sauce. Shop bought sweet chilli is usually sugar ridden and marie-rose usually has ketchup, which has sugar. Mayonnaise is OK but it isn’t the best, mainly because it’s processed and it does contain a little invisible sugar (Note low fat mayo usually has more sugar than regular).

So…I made my own wasabi sauce with no sugar, based on sour cream. You could do something similar with creme fraiche or full fat natural yoghurt. It turned out OK and wasabi gives a tasty kick.

Healthy salad tips and tricks

If you make a big salad base in one go, you avoid excessive chopping everyday and it makes the whole affair a bit quicker (my geeky past as a process consultant coming out here).

Suffice to say salads really don’t have to be boring, unsatisfying or lack in taste. If yours looks so amazing, your colleague/friend/partner is eyeing it up over their cheese and ham baguette, I’d say you’ve done well with your healthy efforts.

Good luck my salad friends!

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

2013-02-18 13.37.02

  • 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 casseroleIt’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 casserole3 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 casseroleEnjoy 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!

Experiment with toppings to make it interesting..

Why Homemade Soup Beats the Shop Variety

Lovely and warming, can’t beat soup in Autumn and Winter!

Soups can pack in the portions of vegetables and they officially increase your satiety – the fullness feeling that means you eat less calories to feel satisfied. Many advise towards the soup starter in a restaurant to stop you gorging later on in the meal – just watch it’s not a ridiculously creamy number which can whack up the calories. For more weekly tips like this sign up to the Happy Sugar Habits mailing list.

Although making your own homemade soup does seem like extra hassle and time, it has some serious plus points against the old shop bought variety. The main benefit is that you know exactly what’s going into it. Shop bought soups these days seem like a healthy choice but not all are on equal par and this is another one not to be wrongly mistaken on i.e. eating something healthy when it’s not as much as you think!

Tinned vs. Fresh

Tinned soups are a great store cupboard emergency but do tend to contain more sugars to help preserve them and can also have a large amount of salt. They should really only be used when you can’t move a muscle to go any better i.e. suffering a miserable cold or flu. Those with a good protein source of lentils, beans or chickpeas are a better choice over just a vegetable variety as they will keep you fuller for longer and slow release energy into your bloodstream.

Fresh soups are a healthier option to tinned, but be aware you may be eating more sugars than you can directly taste or realise. Half a carton of Sainsbury’s fresh tomato and basil soup contains 17g sugar – the equivalent of just over 4 teaspoons. Tomatoes are technically a fruit so whilst most is naturally occurring, there are added sugars in the mix to be conscious of. Cooking your own means you know there is 0% added sugar and you can add some pulses which turn the soup into a more balanced meal containing a suitable protein amount. Bulk up with something like a sweet potato and you can eliminate the need to add a side of bread or toast, where your carbohydrate source is much more nutritious.

Experiment with toppings to make it interesting..

Another benefit of homemade soup is that you can cook near enough your weight in it, all in one satisfying go. Ok a slight exaggeration, but this means you can either share the soup love with friends, eat for lunch during the week, and still have portions left over to freeze for those ‘I can’t be bothered to cook’ emergencies.

Did you used to eat a lot of soup when you were younger? Did your mum used to make it homemade or was it always a classic tin of Heinz tomato pulled out of the cupboard? I know mine was the latter!

Portions of veg for the day...check!

A Healthy BBQ Suggestion

With the flurry of the Olympics and the ridiculous affair that has been this year’s British summer, it seems the sun is finally out and I am soon to head to a BBQ! Woo hoo :) The rarity makes it all the more exciting but I thought I would quickly post talk about a few healthy BBQ suggestions.

Now that I have newly started my ‘health blog’ (which I am loving :)), I am somewhat fearful of getting a slap on the wrist from friends when I dive into anything remotely associated with sugar! I guess they expect you to practice what you preach but seriously, not all the time – one of my friends regularly makes cupcakes so good I will never want to resist. My whole inspiration for starting the blog was to advocate some healthy habits here and there, particularly where sugar’s concerned – but ultimately just enjoy life as you would anyway.

However in healthy willing, I have made some haloumi cheese pesto kebabs for this afternoon, which I am ever so proud of. These will be accompanied by lamb and mint sausages (yeah didn’t fancy making those) along with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio as my contribution to the takings. Party on indeed!

Portions of veg for the day…check!

 

Sun, sausages and wine. Need I say more.

 

This morning I attended my very first British Military Fitness class. I was a little nervous as had this image of them frantically yelling at me do proper press ups (I can only do ‘girls’ press ups on my knees, which thankfully most of the other girls were doing too). Surprisingly I found it all quite enjoyable where the sun was shining, the grass was green and the instructor was a nice chirpy Australian guy. I ate some yoghurt with mixed berries and a little muesli when I got up and then my favourite weekend eggs-spinach concoction for lunch when I got back. Starting to read all the other health blogs out there this weekend I am excited to try out lots of new recipes and start to share some of my own.

Anyway, feeling at the moment I need to add in a few sugar/health notes to each post where this has been a more unstructured but excited ramble….On the topic of BBQs,  it’s a fun occasion that you want to fully relish (ha ha get it?!) for all it’s the glory. If you do want to be careful then load up on salads and proteins like chicken, lamb kebabs; watch out for sugary dressings or sauces; and go for brown rolls if you can. Otherwise just enjoy! Let’s hope this summer lasts till October – I will never forget last year being in a summer dress late September and catching mince pies in the supermarket – now that is keenness!

What are you up to this weekend in the sun? BBQs all round? I know over in the US they have a healthy summit. I would love to be there one day, not least because I have never even been to America, but to meet all these fabulous blog-savvy women that have truly inspired me this week. Ahhh one day!

A salad where getting about 7 different ingredients in one mouthful is actually possible...whoa!!

Some Good Shop Bought Lunch Recommendations

I have always maintained my opinion that in the UK we do ‘on the go’ lunch options pretty damn well. So what are some good shop bought lunch recommendations? The selection and choice is fantastic and the rate retailers are innovating to make things healthy is pretty handy, although sometimes you do find you pay a bit of a premium for it. Nonetheless, as others catch on to popular healthy options the prices start to come down or special offers pop up (Yipee!).

Working in Canary Wharf in London for 6 months I was literally overwhelmed by potentially having over 100 options for lunch everyday within two minutes walk of the office. After some careful analysis of many of the options I have come up with some favourites that you might like to try if you find yourself physically stunned at the choice the next time you pop out….

EAT Superfood Salad

Cals: 486

Protein: 24.7

Sugars: 16.9

 

A salad where getting about 7 different ingredients in one mouthful is actually possible…whoa!!

Verdict: A really nice salad with a wide variety of ingredients that I would rate as ‘super’ – some serious greens, pumpkin seeds, lentils etc. The sugar content is high, due to the dried cranberries and pomegranate in this salad. Cranberries are good for cleansing the digestive system and help prevent urinary tract infections, so if you know you are prone (you will know), the sugar amount can be somewhat justified. If you are low on your fruit count in the day then it also isn’t a bad choice as it’s unrefined sugar. Adding only half the dressing you can bring the calorie and fat count down to nearer 400 cals.

M&S Fuller for Longer King Prawn and Lochmuir Salmon Cous Cous

Cals: 320

Protein: 32g

Sugars: 6g

Verdict: I was quite excited when I first discovered this range because M&S really do make some interesting and mega delicious salads. The protein is very high so it will keep you fuller for longer but I do feel this range up on protein so much, they lack on the portions of vegetables (boo), which for a perfectly balanced meal should make up at least 40%. Cous cous is a refined carbohydrate and brown rice would be better (M&S are you reading?!) .The sugar count is low and if you are a die hard seafood fan and are aware you haven’t had your portions of oily fish during the week, this could be a good choice.

Innocent Veg Pot Daal Curry (Microwave required)

Cals: 326

Protein: 10.9

Sugar: 6.6

Hello Mr Daal Veg Pot :)

Verdict: This is an excellent choice in winter as it warms you like putting on a bit sweater when you’re chilly. It really does fill you up and with three portions of veg you are well on your way to 5 a day. You are forced to eat it quite slowly and it takes a while to get through, which help you stay full and satisfied. Thumbs up for vegetarians too. One slight issue is that if you plan to eat at the desk, it is rather obvious that you are eating curry which may not be kindly received by your colleagues. If you have a communal kitchen, a staff room or you are at home, then a highly recommended choice. Keep an eye out for special offers on these, particularly in Sainsburys – helping you save the pennies.

I could obviously go on with this list but hopefully my verdict and some of the facts will help you understand what to look out for. Something with low protein and under 300 calories is not going to sustain you long through the afternoon – the risk of 3pm cake crave in significantly increased. There are also some lunch shockers out there that have refined sugar amounts you really wouldn’t imagine so definitely worth a check next time.

Please comment on this post and let me know if you have any lunchtime favourites and share the love on your finds.

colourful salad

Making a Colourful Salad

This week, I am working at home everyday where The Olympics have officially closed my office. I have stocked up the salad ingredients and am making a different but totally awesome colourful salad everyday. With all the colourful produce you can even get an Olympic ring theme going, although I thought about this then got a little stuck on blue and black so suggestions welcome!

Mixing up ingredients and trying new things means boring salads are a thing of the past. When you have shops like Whole Food Stores to hand, new ingredients are even a pleasure to buy (see last post on my secret pastime).

So today, see my salad as per illustration. Simple, speedy and delicious.

Salad Ingredients: Spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red pepper, raw mushrooms with Langley Farm chive cottage cheese and a dark Ryvita with organic hummus. Dressing made with olive oil, white whine vinegar, salt and pepper.