You’ve probably noticed that more and more people are paying attention to what they put in their bodies. We’re a nation inundated with faddy diet-plans and strict fitness programs, fat-loss pills, weight-loss teas, cellulite creams all of which supposedly hold the ‘secret’ to getting the bod of your dreams. I am no health expert but the idea of a quick fix just doesn’t sit well with me, call me a fuddy-duddy all you like but I’m doing it the old fashioned way.
I’m a fan of doing things organically, even if it takes a little longer. I wouldn’t say that my health is the best, however I feel generally good and any wobbly bits are definitely de-wobblyfying. Anyway, back to the point, healthy eating! I believe the real key to healthy eating is not to nibble on lettuce leafs for breakfast, lunch and dinner whilst sipping on a compost-like green sludge juice, (kudos to those of you who can stand those btw); but to find the healthy-foods that you genuinely enjoy, because trust me, they are out there! No I’m not talking about a new variety of salad or any other mundane and bland, stereotypical ‘health’ dish, I mean the foods you really enjoy, the cheesy pizzas and creamy pastas, doughy donuts- the real deals. You’re probably sat there thinking this must be a joke, how could I possibly call these ‘bad’ foods good? But just hear me out..
So first of all, of course, our faithful friend the pizza, the deviant that distracts us every time we embark on a new diet. What if I told you that there was a way to include pizza in your day to day life with out it being classed as a ‘cheat meal’… Look no further, I have searched high and low for a recipe that is low carb and low fat, high protein and full of veggies and still tastes good. The best recipe that I found was from a lovely blog called Lavender and Loverage, don’t be alarmed by the ingredients, it actually tastes like the real thing; all of the fun, none of the guilt! The base is actually made from delicious cauliflower, this helps with the no-carb aspect and also provides a yummy base with that authentic crispy pizza base texture. They kindly included all the calories for the recipe which serves two, it comes in at an astonishing 240 cals per person! Normal pizzas can vary from anything between 900-2000 calories, so this is quite the drastic drop.
- 340g raw cauliflower, fresh or frozen (60 calories)
- 1 large free-range egg (74 calories)
- 75g low-fat mozzarella cheese, grate 50g and slice the remaining 25g for the topping (225 calories)
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (44 calories)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil (1 calorie)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (1 calorie)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic granules or powder (2 calories)
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced (40 calories)
- 1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (20 calories)
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced (8 calories)
- 1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes (4 calories)
- fresh oregano or basil, to garnish
- Line a pizza stone or tray (or just an ordinary baking tray) with greaseproof paper. Pre-heat the oven to 210C/420F/Gas mark 7.
- Grate the cauliflower, or process it in a food processor; you are looking to achieve fine crumbs, but do not purée it. If using frozen cauliflower, squeeze excess water out of it and crumble with your hands if possible.
- Microwave the cauliflower crumbs for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft. You can also steam or boil the cauliflower, but you will need to squeeze the excess water out of it afterwards if cooked with water.
- Place the cauliflower crumbs in to an large mixing bowl and add the egg, grated mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, herbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well, you should have a fairly stiff but malleable dough, as seen in my photos.
- Place the cauliflower “dough” onto the prepared tray and pat out into a large circle, about 12.5cms (10″) in diameter and about 1.5cms (1/2″) thick. Spray the top with a little low-fat cooking spray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and firm.
- Place the sliced tomatoes on top, sprinkle the chilli flakes over, scatter over the minced garlic and onion rings, season to taste with salt and pepper, and then arrange the sliced mozzarella cheese over the top.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and the cheese has melted. Scatter fresh oregano or basil leaves over and serve cut into wedges with salad leaves.
The next saintly version of a classically sinful dish is this glorious Mac & Cheese recipe from Pinch of Yum, this is my personal favourite as it just tastes SO good, possibly even better than the real thing. If you’re a pasta fan then I strongly suggest that you drop whatever you are doing right now and go make this, you’ll never look back! The calories for one heaping bowl of this creamy dish is a stunning 369, the average serving of a naughty bowl would have around 500/600 calories at least and far less vitamins and minerals, so its a win-win.
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni – whole wheat, low glycemic, gluten free… any will work!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 small butternut squash (4-5 cups cubed)
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup shredded cheese – I like Gruyère but any kind will work
- parsley for topping
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Cut the onion into thin rings and add to the butter in the pan, sautéing over low heat until fragrant and golden, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove the skin and the seeds from the squash. Cut the flesh into small cubes. Bring the broth to a boil and add the squash. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup broth, and transfer squash to the blender. Add the onions, milk, salt, and reserved broth and puree until completely smooth and creamy. This should yield about 4 cups sauce.
- Pour the pureed sauce over the cooked noodles and add the shredded cheese. Stir to melt the cheese; add water or milk to adjust consistency as needed. Serve with parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.
Okay, so you’ve gathered that the most notoriously unhealthy meals can be made delightfully healthy with out sacrificing the taste, but sugary deserts are where it gets a little trickier. All those of you with a sweet tooth, please keep reading, I’ve got a little something for you as well- Ice-cream! This recipe is from my all time favourite healthy food blog, Chocolate Covered Katie. She actually provides a few different variations of the recipe, all of which promise to taste like Haagen Daz, you will not be disappointed. With only 192 calories per serving, this ice-cream is definitely not belt busting compared to the standard 450 calories per serving of regular vanilla ice-cream.
- 1 cup raw cashew or macadamia halves (120g)
- 1 1/3 cups milk of choice (320g)
- 3 tbsp xylitol or sugar of choice (30g)
- 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
- 1/16 tsp pure stevia, or 2 extra tbsp sugar of choice
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- In a cereal bowl, cover the nuts with water and let sit 4-8 hours. Drain, and pat dry very well with a paper towel.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until all cashew bits have disappeared and mixture is completely smooth. Pour the blended mixture into a large container, and freeze 30 minutes or refrigerate at least 4 hours. Pour chilled mixture into your ice cream maker or blender, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once a smooth texture has been reached, scoop out into individual bowls, using an ice-cream scoop for authentic presentation. Eat immediately, or freeze each bowl up to an hour for a firmer texture.*Caramel Ice Cream Recipe: Add 1/4 tsp caramel extract (JR Watkins brand is vegan)
*Peppermint Patty Ice Cream: Add 1/2 to 1 tsp pure peppermint extract + Cosmic Peppermint Patties
*Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: Do add the 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract. Also add 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
*Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips before blending the first time
On the topic of deserts, does anybody else just crave donuts? Maybe even cream-filled donuts?.. This recipe will blow your socks off, the impossible has been made possible from the wonderful Jar of Lemons.
- 2 Cups Whole Wheat (or Spelt) Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 3 Tbsp Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 Packets Stevia
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 8 Oz. Unsweetened Apple Sauce
- ½ Cup Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
- 3 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Tbsp Cream Cheese
- ¼ Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
- 2 Tbsp Erythritol Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- ½ tsp Vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (except for the yeast).
- Heat the almond milk in a small bowl or cup for about 20 seconds in the microwave, then mix in the yeast. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the stevia, sugar, and the remaining liquid ingredients. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix.
- Add in the yeast mixture (which should be a paste) and mix.
- Spray a doughnut pan (like this one!) with coconut oil. Place dough in pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
- Mix all ingredients together and put into an icing bag.
- Once the donuts have cooled poke a hole in each one, then squeeze the cream filling into each one.
- Top each doughnut with the glaze and sprinkles. These are best served immediately!
Last but not least, also from Jar of Lemons, is americas favourite camp-fire desert, need I say any s’more? Thats right, a healthy version of s’mores, because we all need a little chocolate fix from time to time. This recipe comes in at an around 100 calories, marshmallow and all- enjoy! (yield 20)
- ½ Cup Coconut Flour
- 1½ Cup Spelt Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 Packet Stevia
- 2 Tbsp Erythritol Sugar (or any sugar)
- 3 Tbsp Honey
- 8 oz. Applesauce
- Marshmallows (Homemade or store bought)
- Dark Chocolate
- Combine all of the ingredients for the graham crackers (everything except marshmallows and chocolate).
- Knead the dough and flatten to a very thin layer (VERY thin) on wax paper.
- Using a cookie cutter or pizza slicer, slice the dough into small squares, creating 40-50 crackers.
- Place on a greased (I used spray coconut oil) baking sheet and refrigerate crackers for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 and bake crackers for 30 minutes. Top with extra cinnamon if desired.
- If crackers have cooled before serving, melt 6-8 chocolate chips or chocolate square on a cracker in the microwave for about 7-10 seconds.
- Remove cracker/chocolate from microwave, let cool for a few seconds, then place homemade marshmallow over it and top with second cracker. If using store bought marshmallows, they can be heated in the microwave along with the cracker and chocolate.