Spicy Minced Pork Stir-fry with Flat Beans

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P1030806If you want a delicious, satisfying meal in ten minutes, then look no further!  When I made this, I expected it to be good.  But this still surprised me.  I enjoyed every bite.  This would be great for a busy week night.

Just a little note about fish sauce : it’s really moving up on my list of favourite ingredients.  Health-wise it’s not a superstar – but I use it as a replacement for salt in a lot of the Asian-style dishes I make.  It just adds a little something extra.  It smells really strong…and maybe not that great out of the bottle.  But give it a chance – it’s really tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb flat green (or Italian) beans
  • salt
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 350 grams lean minced pork
  • 2 cloves garlic squeezed through a press
  • 1 inch of ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 2 scallions sliced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • the juice of 1 lime

How to:

Beans: Put 1 inch of water into a pan that’s big enough for the beans to lie flat in.  Bring water to a boil on high heat, then add salt.  Then add beans. Cook beans on high for 2-3 minutes and then drain.

Pork: Heat a sauté pan or a wok on high heat. Add the sesame oil to the pan along with the garlic and ginger. Sauté for a few seconds – until you can smell it. Then add the pork and sriracha. Stir until well mixed and cook on high until browned.  Turn heat down to medium and add all other ingredients. Cook for another 3 minutes.

Plate it up and if you like, garnish with pieces of red chiles, green onion and/or cilantro.  Yum!

The following information is based on 1/3 of the recipe.  When I made this, I divided it all into 3 servings.  You can certainly eat more of it though if you’re really hungry!

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Philadelphia Cucumber Bites

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A delicious bite-size snack perfect for your New Year’s Eve party or any other event.  These disappear quickly!  It’s an appetizer that won’t leave you feeling bad about yourself, which is quite important for bringing in the new year!  The contrast of crunchy and creamy and spicy and fresh will entertain the taste buds and make avoiding those deep-fried nibbles a little easier.

I’ve been working on snack foods.  I’m not the average girl – I have no sweet tooth, really. My weakness would be chips and cheese and crackers. Coming up with snacks that I’m happy to eat and leave me feeling satisfied rather than deprived is super important to me on my journey to sculpting the body that I want.

Two of the key aspects to my diet are low carbohydrate and low sugar. So when I choose my ingredients, I’m always looking at the labels for those two things. Of course eating whole foods would be better, but sometimes you need the convenience of prepared foods. In these situations, it’s particularly important to pay attention to whether or not there is sugar added, and if so, in what quantities.

I debated on using a sweet chili sauce – I thought it would be delicious with the cream cheese and cucumber. However the sugar content is quite high:

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I thought I’d check out some sriracha sauce.  It’s not perfect, but it’s much better.  Especially given that the first ingredient isn’t a sugar syrup…

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If you took the same amount of each product, you’d have 3 grams of sugar for the sriracha vs 8 for the sweet chili. And we will have 3 grams of carbs vs 10 for the sweet chili. Not bad.

The cream cheese is also not perfect – but it’s not bad. Per tablespoon, there is 1/2 a gram of carbs and negligible sugar. So not bad.

So here we go with our simple, yet delicious appetizer:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 container of whipped cream cheese with chives
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce
  • chili flakes and green onion for garnish (and added flavour)

How to:

1. Slice up your cukes:

IMG_04922. Mix the cream cheese and the sriracha.

IMG_04913. Add cream cheese mixture to a plastic bag (for piping). Snip off a corner and pipe onto the cucumber.  I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who could make it look nicer than I can…but I still think they look good enough to eat!

IMG_04934. sprinkle chopped green onion and hot pepper flakes for garnish and for taste – it adds a bit of spice.

IMG_0498-001In the future, I might make these again and add smoked salmon for extra protein, omega-3s and to make it even more like a Philadelphia roll.  In any case, they’re good the way they are. I served them at a small dinner party and they disappeared!  I made some more for my own personal snake and they definitely satisfied my cravings for savoury and crunchy. Hope you enjoy!

P.S. If you keep track of this sort of thing, per cucumber bite:

philadelphia bites nutrition per

And if you want to go crazy and eat 1/4 of the recipe (which is exactly what I did) :

philadelphia bites nutrition

Thai Green Curry Chicken Skewers with Ginger “Quinoa”

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Sometimes, especially when I’m busy, I lack creativity and ideas.  This is when I pull out my favourite cook books.  I have many favourite authors, but my go-to recipes are always by Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver and Giada DiLaurentiis.  When I flip through the pages of these cookbooks, I salivate because the food looks so fresh, flavourful and satisfying.  Although these particular chefs have healthy ideas, their recipes aren’t particularly low-carb.  So this is where I work my magic.  So today, I’m taking liberties with Donna Hay’s recipe of the same name from her latest cook book, Fresh and Light.

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My biggest change?  I didn’t use quinoa.  I used cauliflower.  This recipe is super filling because you really can eat as much cauliflower as you want with good conscience.  You’re also getting a nice big dose of protein because each serving is a whole chicken breast.

Why you should eat this :

1. Protein.  You need protein to build those nice, lean, sexy muscles and to recover quickly from your workouts. It also is satisfying, so you won’t need a midnight snack if this is your dinner.

2. Cauliflower.  A.k.a. cruciferous vegetables.  These should be a part of every diet where fat-loss and an increase in muscle are the goals. Just ask Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper. They both encourage eating these every day. Aside from all the nutrients cruciferous veggies provide, they may also increase testosterone.  This might sound scary for the ladies, however, this is a good thing for burning fat, increaseing muscle, and generally having an elevated motivation for physical activity. So eat up!

What you need :

  • 2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 4 chicken breasts sliced as evenly as possible into strips
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • a head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • lime cheeks and extra coriander to serve

How to make it :

1.  Soak your skewers!  If you’re using wooden rather than metal skewers, you must soak them for a long time.  I soaked them for 30 minutes and this wasn’t even close to being enough time.  At least an hour should help to prevent the skewers from burning.

2.  Start with your washed head of cauliflower.  Put it in the food processor on the grater setting.  I don’t have one of these nifty kitchen appliances, so I went to my mom’s house and used hers. This will save you so much time.  Honestly if I tried to grate it all by hand it would probably take me at least 15 minutes.  With the processor it was about 2.  The entire head yielded about 4-5 cups of shredded cauliflower “quinoa.”

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3. Make sure your chicken breasts are evenly sliced.  Mine weren’t, which lead to a bit of a hassle when it came to grilling them.  I made 4 slices per breast, but feel free to make more.  With the topping for the chicken, the meat stays nice and moist even if you cook them well and have small pieces.  IMG_0132

4. With that out of the way, mix up the coconut cream and the curry paste.  I used these brands and they worked well and tasted amazing:

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The creamed coconut has almost the consistency of lard, so it’s a bit finicky to mix it, but it’s definitely worth it in the end because it tastes so good.

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5. Now it’s time to smear it all over those breasts.  You’ve really got to work it in so that every square millimetre of surface area is covered to maximize the flavour.

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I know it looks a bit nasty, but it smells delicious!

6.  Now time to skewer the meat.  Make sure you do it well so that the meat stays on the skewer throughout the grilling and eating process. I sort of weaved mine onto the skewers.

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7.  Onto the grill!  I preheated my grill for about 10 minutes on high and then reduced the head to medium high.  The pieces are small enough that they cook through fairly quickly so a hot grill is ok.

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Grill for 5-7 minutes and then flip and cook for another 5.

8. Meanwhile, we can get going on the “quinoa” which isn’t really quinoa.  Now I know that quinoa is a super trendy health food with a very high protein content considering that it’s a grain.  My thing about quinoa is that it’s quite calorie dense and I don’t really care about it as a source of protein because I eat meat.  Not to mention the fact that it only has about 5 grams of protein per serving, when I’m looking a whole lot more than that for my meal.  So anyway, enough about that.  In a pre-heated pan on medium heat, heat some olive oil (or grape-seed or whatever you want).  Then add in your cauliflower and sauté.  Then add in your tablespoon of ginger, green onions and sesame oil.  Once some of the cauliflower gets a bit golden, add in your cilantro and then remove it from the heat.  This doesn’t need a ton of cooking time, really the purpose of the sauté is to add flavour and to mix all of these beautiful ingredients together.

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9.  Plate it up and enjoy!  This made 4 meals for me, each serving with a mountain of cauliflower “quinoa.”

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Low-Carb Toad in the Hole

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I’m a firm believer in the idea that you eat with your eyes first.  So even the most humble of dishes should be plated with care so that they look their best.  This way you’re happy to eat it – you don’t feel like you’re eating diet food!  I know that this isn’t one of the prettiest dishes that I’ve made, but it does look like comfort food and the use of fresh herbs elevates the flavours and the look of it on the plate.  I think Jamie Oliver would agree with me when I say mushrooms and thyme are best mates.  And garlicky buttery mushrooms have always been a favourite combo of mine.  This dish serves 4.

Ingredients:

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  • 3 tbsp butter (it’s low carb, not low fat!)
  • 4 shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A variety of mushrooms – I went for 2 packs of mushrooms – 1 of cremini and one of portabello.  Why not let the grocery store do the work?  Thanks Metro!  Mushrooms should be cut into small-ish pieces.
  • fresh thyme
  • Baby kale and baby spinach mix – you can of course mix your own.  I used about 6 cups of it.
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Melt 2 tbsp butter in pan on medium to high heat.
  2. Slice shallots and add to pan.
  3. Finely dice garlic. Add to pan.
  4. Add in more butter – I find these veggies just soak it up.
  5. Add in mushrooms.  Stir-fry them until they start to release liquid.
  6. Add in the spinach and kale.  Pile it in the pan until you can barely stir it because it’s so full.  It seems like we’re using a lot of veggies, but it reduces significantly.

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7.  Stir in kale and spinach until it wilts.  This will take about 5 minutes.

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8.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.

9.  Turn on the broiler to high (500 degrees).

10.  You have some options here.  For me, I was just making myself breakfast, so I took out 3/4 of the mixture to save for later.  But you can apply this step for 4 servings as well.

11. Pile up the veggies and make wholes for the number of eggs you will use.  If you’re making all 4, make 4 holes.  I made one hole for my 1 little toad in the hole.

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12. Crack the egg into the hole and let it cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat.

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13.  Put the dish under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

14.  This gave me a nice runny yolk and cooked whites.  If you like your eggs differently, adjust time/temperature accordingly.

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15.  Plate it up!  Sprinkle over some more fresh thyme.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do:)