Is there anyone who doesn’t like chips and dips. Nope? Good.

Recently T and I hosted dinner. We did a bits and pieces dinner. Frittata, flat-breads and salad which gave me the chance to try two dips. One an aubergine, yoghurt combo and the second a thick white-bean citrus mash. Both were delicious. Yes, they were.

These are wonderful with flat-breads and chips, but you could also serve with vegetables. The white-bean mash could also be served as a mash, with steak/sausages/quorn pepper steaks. Perfect.

Aubergine Dips

Put in your trolley

For white bean mash

Olive oil (plus 2 teaspoons)

Half a head of garlic

Fresh rosemary

One green chilli

Grated zest 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon

2 x 400g of Cannellini beans (or white beans)

Salt and pepper

For Aubergine and Yoghurt Dip

2 medium aubergines

half a bulb of  garlic,

2tsp of ground cumin

2 tsp of paprika

Salt

4 big tbs of Greek natural yoghurt

6 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Jalapenos for topping

Method for White Bean Mash

Chop off the top of a bulb of garlic (to use with both recipe.) Pop the oven on 200 and slam in the garlic and leave to roast. While you’re waiting, drain the cannellini beans and chop the chilli. Once the garlic is soft (only takes 5/6 minutes,) squeeze half the garlic into a blender. Add the beans, lemon, chilli, rosemary, salt to season and blitz. Use the lemon juice to your taste and to help with consistency. I like it thick but not chalky. Serve!

Method for Aubergine and yoghurt dip

Oven should be nicely warm. Chop up the aubergines into slices, season well with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven, turn over regularly until they are cooked. Take from the oven, and once you ‘can’ chop into smaller chunks. Then add all the ingredients into the nutri-bullet/blender until mixed. Whiz until blended and serve. Top with jalapenos if you so wish.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

Both of these are very calorie friendly coming in at 50 calories per portion for the aubergine and closer to 90 for the white bean mash. (Depending on how much you demolish.)

One of the most used things in my kitchen is a vegetable sharpener.

I mean you could call it a spiralizer but to me it looks like a pencil sharpener. But, you use it on courgette/carrot/sweet-potato, not crayons.

Recently I bought a meat hamper from Campbell’s. It was stuffed with sausages, black pudding, haggis and bacon. Due to buying it through Wowcher it cost me only £10. I told myself I would revert from my tried and tested bangers n’ mash and make something different. This is my Tomatoey Courgette Spaghetti and Vegetable Medley.

Tomato and Herby Sausage Courgetti Spaghetti

Put in your trolley

Serves 4 hangry people 

400g of sausages (I used Campbell’s haggis sausages but a good herby sausage will do.)

A couple of spritzs of low Cal cooking spray

400g of Chestnut mushrooms cut into slices

1 tbsp of Paprika

2 Birdseye chilies chopped finely (adjust to your taste.)

Salt and Pepper 

600g of courgette

280g of sweetcorn

700g of chopped tomatoes (with basil/garlic/chilli.)

Step One

Take the sausages out of their casings and roughly chop. Fry in a small pan with the low Cal cooking spray till browned. Add the mushrooms and cover the pan with a lid to create moisture. Cook for a minute. Add the paprika, chillies, and a sprinkle of salt and cracked black pepper. (Lots of it.) Cook for another minute.

 

Step Two

Spiralise the courgettes. Just pop them in the end and then twist until you get pasta like ribbons. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a potato peeler (works just as well.) Set aside ready for cooking.

Step Three

 

Add the sweetcorn to the pan and cook for a minute then tip in the chopped tomatoes and heat until bubbly hot. Then add the courgette spirals and toss in the mixture. Cook for a two minutes. You don’t want them to go too soft but you don’t want them crunchy.

Step Four

Take off the heat and pile high in gorgeous bowls.

Tomato and Herby Sausage Courgetti Spaghetti

Tomato and Herby Sausage Courgetti Spaghetti

Numbers if you’re bothered!

This works out to around 500 cals a portion (depending on the sausages. But this is the perfect dinner that’s filling but not full of carbohydrates. Using the courgette instead of pasta allows you eat a lot more (which is always good non?)

Recommended Reading

I recommend reading Angela Carter’s book of dark fairy-tales. I saw a gorgeous copy featured on Katy’s blog and it reminded me it’s been forever since I dived into that rollercoaster of a book! PERFECT MATCH. 

I read somewhere that you should have one signature dish that you can always whip up.

Writing this I think Hannah Gale wrote in one of her very fab blog posts. The idea being that on a Saturday at midnight, when you’ve missed the last train home, you can still make this recipe. You can perfectly create it every damn time. You don’t need to weigh out 59603059220 different ingredients. You’ve made it so many times it’s inscribed on the cookery book you keep inside your noggin.

For me that did is homemade pizza. It started last year when I oddly had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I then lived off homemade pizza for six months. (Almost.) T and I recently celebrated two years together and I suggested making pizza. T pulled a face thinking it would take 98 hours. But, I whipped it up in half hour or so. So I’m sharing how you can do the same.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

Put in your trolley (For the dough.)

200g strong white flour

50ml of lukewarm water (Give or take.)

1tbsp of olive oil

For Toppings

Tomato and basil passata

Sweetcorn

Deli Chicken (We used chicken tikka, T had quorn.)

An egg

Mozzerella

Anything else you fancy topping your masterpiece with.

You may have noticed there is not yeast in this recipe. I like very, very thin and crispy pizza bases so I don’t wait for the dough to rise. I’ve done it before and (with yeast and proving,) and found it unsuccessful. (If you were wondering.)

Step One

Measure out the flour into a bowl, spoon in the oil. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water bit by bit. I add very little amounts at a time – you don’t want it too sticky. Stir with a spoon until it comes together and then use your hands.

Step Two

Put the oven on to pre-heat at 200C.

Take the dough from the bowl and knead. Youtube helps if you’re struggling with the motion. Knead until it resembles mashed potato. Then roll out using a rolling pin. (Or a bottle of tomato sauce.) It will spring back, so keep rolling until it’s circular(ish) and the thickness of a pound coin. Liberally sprinkle a baking tray with flour and place the dough on-top.

Step Three

Top with the passata (quite a lot) and then add your toppings (minus the egg.) We added a mixture of the toppings featured but just use your favourites. Mushrooms, olives, artichoke – whatever you fancy. Pop in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.

Step Four

Once the base is cooked – give it a prod, crack the egg on top and then whip back in the oven. T likes his quite cooked so he put his on a couple of minutes earlier. Once egg is cooked take out, slice and devour.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

Depending on how many toppings you use this comes to between 450 – 500 calories which is higher than a lot of the recipes I’ve been posting. But compared to ordering a large dominos you’re onto a winner. It’s a brilliant way to treat yourself without ruining your healthy eating mission.

Recommended Reading

I’m not going to suggest reading for this one. Pop on Project Runway with a glass of diet coke and while the evening away. Perfection.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

I’ve been using the Campbell’s Breakfast Box regularly over the last few weeks. It’s been a really great inspiration for me. During the week of pancake day I made herby haggis sausage pancakes. They were delectable. This week I was really, really craving them. So, guess what I made.

You can use any sausages that you have hanging around but I found that these herby haggis sausages worked perfectly. With the vegetables, you could use whatever you find in your fridge. I used mushrooms and peppers because they were on offer. You could also use vegetarian sausages (T asked me to write that.)

Herby Haggis Sausage Pancakes

Put in your trolley

100g plain flour

1 large egg

300ml Soy milk

Low Cal cooking spray 

300g Campbells Herby Haggis Sausages 

400g of courgettes 

100g of mushrooms 

100g Chopped tomatoes with garlic/chilli/basil 

2 birdseye chillis

1tbsp Jerk Seasoning 

Step One

Take off the sausage casing and roughly chop. Fry in a saucepan with the mushrooms. Once browned/soft add the chopped tomatoes and chilli. Keep on a low heat and although to cook through. Add in a tbsp of jerk seasoning to add extra seasoning. I cooked mine until it was quite thick, but I’ll leave the consistency up to you.

Step Two

Sift the flour and add the salt. Put in a nutri-bullet/blender and add the egg and milk. Heat the low cal spray in a frying pan, pour the batter into the pan until it thinly coats the base. Cook over a medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute. Then flip! I made two and then popped the mixture on top but make as many as you like. Oh, and remember, keep a few for sweet pancakes.

Step Three

Once cooked – fill the pancakes with the mixture and devour. Sprinkle on feta if you so wish.

Numbers (If you’re bothered.)

These ended up being super healthy. If you still to the above it comes to under 400 cals and will keep you full till the evening. Nothing worse than getting up at 2am to munch on Malteasers. You could also add lots more vegetables; sweetcorn, peppers, peas. Think of this as a great way to use up things in your vegetable draw.

Recommended Reading

I’m going to suggest The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey. I love this book so much and I’ve found recently reading books that bring back childhood memories really help to get rid of reading blocks. You can see my review of The Fire Within here. 

Herby Haggis Sausage Pancakes

Herby Haggis Sausage Pancakes

I love to cook. Like really like to cook.

But I also want to look after my weight/health, so tend to buy cookbooks that reflect this. I go home every couple of weeks and one trip back I unearthed this book. I don’t know a lot about Nadia Sawalha (I think she was once in Eastenders.) However, the book is wonderful and a brilliant tool for cooking delicious recipes that are healthier for you. Thumbs up.

Blurb

Nadia Sawalha has always loved cooking, but until recently rarely ate her own food. Like a lot of women, whilst her family tucked in to delicious dishes, she nibbled on diet food. Later, ravenously hungry, she binged, somehow convincing herself that the calories didn’t count if nobody saw her eating them. Two years ago, after decades of fluctuating weight, she decided enough was enough: She wasn’t going to start a new diet tomorrow. She wasn’t going to start a new diet ever again. She was going to eat normal meals with her family and, most importantly, she was going to do so for the rest of her life.

Since then, Nadia has lost and kept off 3 1/2 stone, by simply throwing away the diet books. Instead she shaved off the hidden calories, all without anyone noticing. A little less oil here, a different cut of meat there; brown rice instead of white, more herbs, spices and colour; and a dessert every day! The result is ‘The Greedy Girl’s Diet’, which is packed with more than 100 delicious recipes, and Nadia’s invaluable tips and advice on how to achieve a slim, fit and healthy body.

My Review

I was skeptical about this book to begin with. Celebrity diet books often tend to be suspect. But I really like Nadia’s approach. The book begins with a very down to earth explanation of how she’s lost and kept off the weight. Many of the feelings and habits she described hit home for me. I have been the lazy girl who lived of low cal ready meals or takeaways in front of the box. Yo-yoing between weight-loss and gain. This book encourages you to re-think your eating habits and re-align your goals with your personal life. No, we won’t lose 2 stone in two weeks – but you might in a year. The book focuses on giving us fuel through food but making it tasty. (And moving around too.)

It seems obvious but Nadia makes your foodie favourites better for you. Mac and cheese for 400 cals  portion just by upping the strength of the cheese and using semi-skimmed milk. Or creamy scrambled egg – just stir in light cream cheese instead of nobs of butter. Very few of the recipes have tens of ingredients making the recipes super easy to make. The book details breakfasts (Lazy Weekends, Breakfast on the run) lunches, (soup glorious soup, ladies who lunch, spectacular sandwiches) dinners, (yummy mummy, dinner for two) and desserts. Yes it’s a little tongue in cheek but Nadia’s down to earth, friendly descriptions of the recipes make it feel genuine.  Oh and all the nutritional information is listed, making it very accessible.

 

My favourite recipes include the creamy advocado soup, salad nicoise sandwiches and the tandori chicken. But, the desserts are also fantastic. Coffee and walnut cake, chocolate cheesecake and mousse pots all feature. Nadia doesn’t make you cut things out she just makes very simple but clever changes. Changes that you and your family won’t notice but your waitstline will.

Final Thoughts

In terms of delivery, the images are beautiful but there could be more of them. Secondly the recipe don’t have a complete cooking time (which would be helpful.) Saying this, the book is fantastic for those attempting lose a little weight but not lose their favourite recipes. I think it’s wonderful.