Thursday, 27 June 2013

The King

I think the humble EGG is the actual King of foods. It is so versatile,  nutritious and (my favourite) cheap. As a family we power through eggs on a monthly basis. There's barely a day goes by I am not cracking an egg. Between a bit of baking, hard boiled eggs as free snacks or with salad for me, boiled or mashed with mayo or made into eggy bread for the kids lunch we get through somewhere in excess of 50 eggs a month.

Sounds like a lot doesn't it? And yet it isnt like we live on eggs.

I definitely eat more these days than before my slimming world days, since they are free on all plans. We quite often have a cooked breakfast on a Saturday which waves goodbye to between 3 and 8 eggs depending who wants an egg and if it's going to be fried or scrambled (why do scrambled eggs disappear?) and I always keep hardboiled eggs in the fridge for snacks or to go with a salad and feta cheese or ham. It's not unlike me to have a baked egg for breakfast, maybe cooked in a hash brown or ham basket. Finally the classic carbonara (which i don't actually seem to have ever blogged about!) remains a favourite tea time choice for the whole family. Well I say finally, actually I have missed one major favourite, my brunchtime frittata. I call this brunchtime because I have it just as easily for breakfast as for lunch. It can be amended to whatever you have in (prawns and feta are lovely) but this is what I use most often to serve one as a hearty lunch.

1 sausage, chopped into chunks
1 rasher of bacon, fat removed and chopped
1 spring onion
1 or 2 cooked new potatoes, sliced or diced
3 or 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 asparagus spears, chopped
1/2 a pepper, mixed colours if possible, diced
1 spring onion, chopped
Chopped parsley (optional)
2 eggs, beaten

Spray a small frying pan with frylight or oil and add the sausage and bacon. Fry until almost cooked and add the chopped veg. Sauté until almost cooked but still with bite.

Sprinkle over the parsley if using, then pour over the beaten eggs. Tip the pan left and right to make sure the eggs fill all the gaps. Leave on the heat for a minute to allow to base to set, then put under a hot grill until the eggs are set and puffy and gloriously golden.

Season with salt and black pepper and lashings of good ol' fashioned brown sauce (or ketchup/chilli sauce if that's what tickles your fancy).

I do this at least once a week I'd say. This is a great fridge raider too... courgettes work well, as does ham, leftover chicken, chillies, roasted red peppers, white/red onions, cheese - literally whatever you have in. In honesty I prefer lots of filling (which is mostly superfree anyway) to less egg so it's less, well, eggy. You could easily do 3 eggs and less fillings though. Or more. Whatever... at the end of the day, it's your frittata.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Summer summer summertime

The sun is shining! In the west of Scotland where I live this is nothing short of a miracle. It's warm and glorious, and the clear skies brighten everyone's day. Of course, this puts planned cold weather casseroles and the likes out of the window because what everyone wants in this weather is barbecue food.

Generally speaking bbqs are considered less than great in the diet world. All the bread and mayo add up to a lot of excess calories. In the UK we seem to have an obsession with whacking all the grilled meat into its own bread receptacle, roll or wrap. Probably because we get comparatively little good weather, a lot of bbqs are little more than a couple of rubbish sausages, a burger, and maybe a burnt (yet raw) chicken drumstick. These days of course the supermarkets sell ranges of pre-marinaded and skewered bbq products, all perfectly prepared and ready to drop on your grill to ensure you enjoy an exotic tasting high syn feast.

There really is no need for a good bbq to spoil the diet. With a little bit of thought and by using your healthy extras you can do a bbq for very few syns. Chicken cubes can be marinated in garlic, lemon juice, bay and oregano or Cajun spice, soy and lime and seasoned with salt and pepper before threading onto skewers with chunks of peppers,  mushrooms and courgettes for syn free kebabs. Look about to find some low syn sausages so you can still have your snags - my butcher sells a great half syn sausage but supermarkets do them too. Burgers can be homemade for free, and just remove the skins from chicken drumsticks before marinating in spices of your choice or maybe a free bbq sauce. Chuck a lean steak on too. So far you have a pretty good feast, right?

So what about sides? Obviously a large side salad (with or without feta cheese as your A choice) goes without saying. A personal favourite of mine is corn on the cob, thrown straight in the grill and cooked until charred and salted to serve. Another favourite is barbecued halloumi cheese, although obviously this would be synned or an A choice. Coleslaw and potato salads are commonplace bbq sides but high syn usually. I blogged about Coleslaw recently - make your own for acouple of syns for the whole dish: it keeps a few days and is very handy to have in your summer fridge. Similarly potato salad - historically my own version was made with lashings of full fat mayo but I've managed to make a low fat version I am happy with. It's true to my original in taste and here in its simplicity, just for you.


500g baby potatoes - boiled until tender
2 tbsp extra light mayo
4 tbsp fat free yoghurt
Handful of chives, finely chopped
Handful of mint, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Mix the still slightly warm potatoes with the other ingredients and season generously to taste with salt and pepper (salt is the key here). Serve at room temperature. I am being bossy about this - potayo salad shouldn't be fridge cold.

It really is that easy to produce a lowish syn, healthy bbq without boatloads of bread although obviously if you want a roll or something go ahead and use your healthy extras or syns. Either way, it's perfect sunshine food.

Here's to the sun staying out!