Monday, 25 August 2008

Quorn Spaghetti Bolognese

Firstly I am sorry Rob, but I was determined to prove a point!

The dinner I made you last Thursday wasn’t meat it was Quorn, but you did say how great it was which proves that these vegetarian alternatives can in fact be just as good as the real thing.

I have heard that Quorn mince is so good that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and as last time Rob guest the Steak was corn I wanted to see if he would notice the difference once again! So until he reads this he is none the wiser!

Anyway I wanted to make a really super healthy version of Spaghetti Bolognese, so in order to do this I did the following:

• I substituted the meat for Quorn which is much lower in fat than meat
• I used wholegrain Spaghetti instead of white
• I made my own Duckeys Healthy Bolognese sauce from lots of healthy vegetables

So my friends if you wish to try this at home (or test it on someone you love) here is the recipe:

RECIPE: Healthy Spaghetti Bolognese made with Quorn mince simmered in a homemade vegetable sauce served with wholegrain Spaghetti

You will need:

Duckeys Healthy bolognese Sauce
1 pack Quorn Mince
1 Pack of Wholegrain Spaghetti

(that’s it!)

To Make:

1. Heat the packet of Quorn Mince from frozen into the Duckeys Healthy bolognaise Sauce

2. Heat for about 15 minutes and the sauce is complete

3. Simmer some Wholegrain Spaghetti in a saucepan for about 15 – 20 minutes

This meal really is that simple.

Try it yourself and let me know how you get on with the test!

Duckeys Healthy Bolognese Sauce

Are you tired of tomato sauces being packed full of sugars and added rubbish! Well here’s a good solution try and make your own.

This goes great with pasta or as a topping on your favourite chicken or meat dish!

RECIPE: Duckeys hearty vegetable homemade bolognese sauce... and its healthy!

You will need:

  • 1 Leek
  • ½ Onion
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 garlic bulb sliced
  • 1 beef tomato
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ pack mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt, Pepper, Oregano
  • Fresh Basil

To make the sauce:

  1. Chop up all of the vegetables and add to a sauce pan

  2. Add the chopped garlic

  3. One sautéed and soft add the chopped tomatoes and simmer

  4. Add the balsamic, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning to the sauce followed by some basil.

You can make this in advance and re-heat at anytime its also great as a simple pasta sauce.

Italiano Perfection!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Tummy Troubles

All of us can suffer from bloating, this is something that I have been experiencing lately with stress. There are few things we can do to help this, although every one of us is different some basic ideas are below:

* Some people suffer as they aren’t getting enough exercise and may suffer from constipation. This can also be affected by your amount of fiber intake. Exercise encourages food to move around our system and fiber keeps our inside working efficiently.

* Be careful when you introduce more fiber to your diet, do it gradually so your body can adapt, or this could end up bloating you more! I source fiber from use AllBran as a good source of fiber, or switch to wholemeal products and eat wholemeal toast.

* Dehydration can lead to constipation so drink lots of water at regular intervals.

* We often see now the introduction of pro-biotic yogurts they now have a “friendly bacteria” added to encourage things to keep moving.

* Salt can also cause the tummy to bloat; too much salt can lead to water retention.

I believe that to maintain a flat healthy stomach you simply need to maintain a healthy varied diet, but here are just a few tips to help you along the way.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

To snack or not to snack?

I hear so many contradicting arguments about snacking. We have all heard this is a good form of weight control, but can snacks add up as extra calories?

I think you need to be careful what it is that you are snacking on.

This snacking craze is now on the increase and more products are being released but not all I agree with.

When we have busier lifestyles we tend to grab snacks more but are we just feeding the snack food industry further?

When snaking becomes bad...

  • What people don’t realise is that snacking is to balance out our regular calorie in take not to increase it.
  • Snacking can either be a smart addition to a diet plan, eating fresh fruit or carrot sticks for examples, but cereal bars, crackers... they can be building more calories.
  • Eating three high calorie meals per day plus snacks will not help you but three low calorie meals with some in-between snacks is perfect.

Snacking can be a benefit...

This is what snacking can do for you:

  • To maintain a healthy weight regular eating controls your appetite so your less like to binge eat!
  • It aides weight loss, eating smaller meals more frequently will keep your metabolism working all day long, your metabolism is likely to conserve more calories by eating twice a day.
  • It satisfies the hunger bug, this is your bodies way of telling you it need nutrients. Skipping meals can make you prone to food cravings and will cause you to over eat or make the wrong meal choices.
  • It will make you feel less cranky, when I get hungry like most people I get snappy so missing breakfast or eating a irregular times can throw your energy levels all over the place. Spreading out nutrients will keep you temper at bay.
  • Snacking lowers your cholesterol, research shows people who eat little and often five times a day have lower cholesterol levels than a person having two meals a day.

Smart Snacking...

Some quick tips for some daily pick me ups:

Switch from three large meals a day to six smaller meals that contain carbs and protein. I recommend the following:

  • Vegetable crudités and low fat cheese spread
  • 1 apple
  • ½ pitta bread and low fat hummus
  • 1 teaspoon of peanut butter and whole wheat crackers

Keep single serving foods so you can put them in your gym back or to eat on your way home from work:
  • Low fat yogurt (from the fridge)
  • Muffins or Crumpets
  • Rice cakes
  • Instant low fat soup
  • Low fat organic cereal bars (not the sugary ones)
When you go for a night out have a light starter sized portion like soup or a small salad and you can also have as a single snack.

Snack consciously... Don’t do anything else while eating so you can focus on your food.

If you sweet tooth is beaming then replace this with something in place try these alternatives...

  • Small bowl of low-fat frozen yoghurt or ice-cream
  • 1/2 bag caramel-flavour rice cakes
  • A few squares of Green and Blacks dark chocolate 85% (if you must have chocolate)
  • 3 Jaffa cakes
  • Dates
  • Fruit
Remember snacking is only bad when you over snack on the wrong foods. Keep it in moderation and within your balanced diet.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Duckeys famous stack

Last night I made a simple but fancy dish using my homemade wholemeal crumpet recipe.

I must admit I think its probably the most aesthetic dish I have created to date and I was impressed with the textures flavours and tastes.

RECIPE: Duckeys famous stack, created on a bed of rocket salad, with a homemade wholemeal crumpet topped with spinach a salmon fillet and poached egg layered with a mustard and yogurt sauce, topped with a herb from my herb garden.

You will need:

2 of Duckeys homemade crumpets

2 salmon fillets
Cooked spinach
2 tbsn fat free yogurt
1 bag of Rocket salad
1 teaspoon of Wholegrain and Dijon mustard
2 eggs poached

1. I started off by cooking the salmon fillets for 20 minutes in the oven, I sprinkled these with Dill and Chilli flakes for extra flavour

2. I then warmed the crumpets and cooked some frozen Spinach in the microwave

3. Poach an egg for just over one minute using my Duckey egg poaching technique

4. On a plate cover the base with a Rocket Salad

5. Apply a warmed crumpet

6. Add on top the spinach followed by the cooked Salmon fillet

7. Then apply the poached egg and cover in a sauce made from simply mixed yogurt and mustard.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can eat it hold or cold so perfect summer / winter food for any occasion.

If you pre-make the crumpets this recipe will not take longer than 20 minutes for the Salmon to cook. Of course you could always use cold smoked Salmon or shop bought crumpets but I wanted to try a healthy alternative to the white shop bought crumpets.

Let me know what you think of the recipe.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A healthy mind... Make your goal list!

Sometimes becoming healthy is not just reliant upon the physical aspects. If your mind is healthy then I believe this is sure to have an effect on the state of mind when physical improvements are made.

The mind is like a chameleon, not only does it daily change but by the hour, minute or second in colour, shape and thoughts.

In my experience it always helps me when I'm feeling stressed or have lots of ideas I want to unleash to make lists.

I think it is important to us a people to have a list of goals we want to achieve, so to start the ball rolling I have listed some of mine below.

Things I want to do....

  • Start my own business
  • Start my own cake baking business
  • Visit Italy
  • Buy my own property
  • See my blog grow and grow
  • Get engaged one day to the perfect man and have a family
  • See my family more
  • Earn more than £35,000 a year
  • Stock my kitchen with funky products and add to my home
  • Write my own cook / health book
  • Eat in Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant
  • Visit New York

Well guys today is day one of my mission to slowly achieve these goals, remember they aren't there to be completed by tomorrow but to give your life more purpose and giving you a target to aim for.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Duckeys Easy Homemade Crumpets

Crumpets are not only great as part of a meal but also as a healthy snack. These little babies can be frozen for anytime and can be a great side dish to a main meal. I would say they are multi-purpose really and so natural.

So here’s how to make my healthy version of homemade crumpets! Remember also its not just the crumpets what you put on them can have an effect too! So keep a healthy mind and don’t go for the sugary toppings!

RECIPE: Homemade wholemeal crumpets with earl grey tea.

You will need:

225g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 pint skimmed milk
55ml water, lukewarm
1 dessert spoon dried yeast

To Make:

1. Start of by Sifting the wholemeal flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl

2. Dissolve the dried yeast in luke warm skimmed milk and water then add sugar add sit for 10 minutes

3. Add to dry ingredients and beat until a smooth batter is formed, I have a special gadget on my mixer that makes dough - leave to sit for half an hour this will allow the batter to rise

4. Then pre-heat a pan and grease with some 1 calorie spray - lgightly grease some cooking rings and put them in pan to heat through

5. Fill three-quarters of the hot rings with the batter

6. Allow to cook on a low heat for around ten minutes until the surface appears covered with holes (I never knew that’s how crumpets got their holes)

7. Remove the rings

8. Then cover the pan, and cook a further 2 - 3 minutes or until the surface is set

9. Remove them from the pan, cool on a wire rack

10. When cold, you can then toast and serve with butter.

These may be frozen.

I think crumpets are so versatile and you can adapt meals around them or eat the alone. They are great served with a cup of earl grey tea.

Crumpets are low in calories and these wholemeal versions elimate the “white bread” effect!

Try them yourself! You can also make main meals using Crumpets such as Duckeys Stack.

Review... The Gardeners Arms in Ardingly

Since moving to West Sussex in February we have explored the local area and whats around. I have to stay 'The Gardeners Arms' in Ardingly had to be my favourite place to visit.

I think mainly because of the following reasons:

1. They serve a healthy range of meals along with some hearty ones
2. The service is quick
3. They do great coffee
4. The pricing of the food is good
5. The quality of the food is good.

Usually I will order a Cappuccino here because I really like the coffee and they serve it with fudge which is the traditional way to serve coffee!

On this occasion I wanted a healthy meal out, so I decided to go with a Salmon Salad. I was quick impressed actually as it was a good sized portion and as it was served with new potatoes it was very filling too.

I can say after eating it I was very satisfied without feeling too bloated.

They do such a range of food I am sure I will be reviewing more in the future, but in the meantime I would like to know what is it that is so appealing about our English pubs over the chain eat outs.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Duckeys Healthy Carrot Cupcakes...

Cupcakes are often associated as a little naughty treat, however I have adapted a recipe so that you can eat these muffin cupcakes and not have the guilt trip!

This recipe was taken in inspiration from my Duckey Carrot Cake recipe it is near enough identical but in cupcake form!

The slight difference I had this time was that I treated myself to an electric whisk! This made my mixture so much easier to work with and obtained better results.

RECIPE: Moist Carrot Cupcakes, fluffy in texture with the crunch from walnuts and chopped fruit lightly topped with a low fat cream cheese topping decorated with carrots.

You will need:

60g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk, 2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large grated carrots
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g brown sugar
110g wholemeal flour
50g drained, canned, crushed pineapple
50g raisins
50g walnuts chopped

For the icing:

112g low-fat cream cheese softened
100g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To decorate:

Halved baby carrots and walnut pieces

To make the cake:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Remove the unsalted butter and eggs from the refrigerator to allow them to warm to the room temperature, in a bowl add the butter and sugar

3. In a mixing bowl and beat until creamy

4. Gradually add the egg yolk and beat until the mixture becomes very fluffy (save the egg white)

5. Then whisk the egg white in a separate bowl until stiff peaks are formed! My new whisker was great and did this in no time!

6. Add the egg whites to the mixture

7. Whisk in the cinnamon and nutmeg until the mixture is bouncy!

8. Then add the grated carrot to the mixture

9. Once mixed in add the pineapple, sultanas and chopped walnuts

10. Place the batter into the mold, I used one of these great flexy molds it was really easy and clean to use.

11. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes

12. To make the icing add the sugar, lemon, low fat cream cheese into a bowl and whisk until thick and creamy. To make mine a little different I poked a hole in the middle of my cupcakes and added some of this sauce.

13. Once dry I covered the top with the icing and added half a baby carrot to decorate along with some chopped Walnuts.

These make great little tea cakes or something to impress your guests with when you have company. Better still they taste even better in the fridge so you can keep them for longer.

Due to the moistness of the pineapple in the mixture the cake stays moist for longer.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Sushi the natural way...

I like to experiment with different cuisines so here is a traditional adaptation of a Japanese dish... Sushi anyone?

So let’s talk Sushi… you love it or you hate it!

I thought that Sushi would be quite complex to make but I was shocked when I realised how easy and healthy it was.


Traditional Japanese Nori filled with Sticky warm Sushi Rice lined with tuna fish and sesame seeds

You will need:

2 Sheets of Nori
100g of Sushi Rice
1 can of Tuna
10g of Mayonnaise
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 carrot
1 spring onion

Now if like me it would make you feel squeamish using raw fish simply take a can of Tuna in spring water, add to a tiny bit of light mayonnaise for consistency and this will be your fish base

Take a Sushi mat and lay out a sheet of Nori (seaweed) this is incredibly healthy for you. In Japan they eat Nori daily as it contains 28% protein, more than sunflower seeds, lentils or wheat germ.

It is known as a sea vegetable and is the highest in B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 as well as vitamins A, C and E along with being a great source of calcium, iron, manganese, fluoride, copper and zinc.

1. Cook some Sushi Rice in a pan for 30 minutes, before cooking you should allow the rice to soak the water for around 5 minutes

2. Once cooked apply the rice onto the Nori leaving a gap around the edges

3. Sprinkle over some sesame seeds

4. Then across the centre of the rice trail a line of the tuna mixture along

5. Then add a layer of peppers and celery or vegetable of your choice

6. Then taking the mat slowly and carefully roll the Nori into a cylinder (the sticky rice should seal it)

7. Once you have the tube simply cut into sections you can usually get about 8 pieces of Sushi from a roll

The other benefit in using canned tuna is you can always put the left over’s in the fridge for the next day. It is great with some Soya sauce or sweet chilli dip, as a main or simply a meal accompaniment.

Saki also compliments this dish nicely. You could even be really healthy and finish with some Japanese Green Tea.

Click below to view a detailed Sushi making demonstration!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Delicious Tuna Baked Bagels

This makes an interesting spin on the bagel!

Now when I think of a bagel... I think USA, big fat piled bagel but nope, bagels are actually very healthy for you if you find the right ones!

So I though why not try and make a yummy bagel recipe which mimics that of a pizza such as I did with my mini healthy pizzas on nan bread - it only takes four easy steps.

RECIPE: Tuna toasted wholemeal bagels sprinkled with Paprika on a bed of fresh healthy salad with a light French dressing.

You will need: (for 2 people)

3 bagels halved (3 slices per person)
1 can of tuna
1 tspn of light mayo and wholegrain mustard
1 bag of fresh salad

To make:

1. Toast the bagels under the grill

2. Add the tuna mixed with light mayo and wholegrain mustard then sprinkle with Paprika

3. Insert back under the grill for around 2 minutes

4. Add your salad to a plate and serve with the warm Tuna Bagels.

Now how simple was that! It makes a great lunch or light dinner.