It was my turn to cook dinner last week and I decided to be adventurous and try something new. I have eaten quorn on numerous occasions when I lived away from home as a student but my family hadn’t so I thought there’s no time like the present to serve it to them. I knew my brother would pull a face being the meat-lover that he is and not the most willing to try vegetarian options, but I hoped to change his mind about this sustainable protein source!
I found a recipe for “Quorn Meat Free Mince & Vegetable Curry” on the quorn website and thought it sounded delicious, I just adapted it slightly in terms of veggies used. I liked the fact this recipe had an abundance of herbs and spices to add flavour, because I know quorn can be quite bland and not have much of a taste. This was also a positive when trying to convince a stubborn meat eater that quorn tastes good.
Ingredients (serves 4):
300g Quorn mince
1 tspn olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tin chopped tomatoe
1 tspn tomato puree
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 can green lentils drained
1 tspn chilli powder
1 tspn ground ginger
½ tspn ground coriander
½ tspn ground cumin
½ tspn ground turmeric
Combine the spices together and set aside in a bowl. Fry the veg and garlic in oil and then add the spice mix. Add tinned tomatoes and tomato puree. Add the quorn mince and green lentils. I served with brown rice.
Unfortunately I did not win my brother over completely with the quorn in that he still prefers beef due to the flavour. I mean I prefer the flavour of beef mince but I think of the health and environmental benefits when consuming quorn!
I’m not usually a smoothie fan, mainly due to the fact that I feel hungry around an hour later after consuming them as a meal. However I have now discovered that drinking these as a snack are perfect and satisfy my hunger between meals.
I decided to make one on Friday as a post-workout snack and it was delicious! I think I will start consuming these more as a post-workout snack.
This one consisted of:
1 frozen banana
200ml milk (use the milk you like but I don’t have an intolerance so cows milk does me fine)
1 heaped teaspoon of peanut butter
A handful of spinach
1/2 scoop My protein chocolate peanut butter whey (my absolute fav)
I blended the banana and the milk first to make a thick almost ice cream like texture, then added the other ingredients one at a time. I just drank it out of the Blend-active cup with a straw, although it does get quite thick at the bottom I’ll warn you.
If like me you love banana, peanut butter and chocolate this flavour combo is to die for. It also really satisfies those sweet cravings!
Chill is one of my favourite meals to batch cook! You can choose how spicy you want it and have a choice of any veg too, most vegetables go very well in chilli. Make sure you choose one of the leanest beef minces you can find in the shops. I went for Asda’s “typically less than 12% fat mince”. They also have a “typically less than 5% fat mince” within their range but it is completely down to personal preference. You may feel that lower fat options compromise on taste, I would however recommend choosing what I did and go for around 12% fat. Remember Fat isn’t bad, if you eat too much of it it is but the same goes for carbohydrates and protein. Try not to exceed 70g of red meat per week which beef is included within.
It’s all about my favourite word at the moment – BALANCE. It’s about finding the balance of macronutrients that works for your body. Generally no more than 11% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat, which beef mince is high in. Adding lots of veggies to the sauce such as carrot, onion and pepper, and choosing to make the sauce form scratch and not a jar – all make the meal healthier. Kidney beans increase the protein content and also add fibre!
500g 12% beef mince
15ml sunflower oil
1 red pepper
400g kidney beans
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tspns chilli powder (the quantity completely depends how spicy you want you’re chilli!)
2 tspns mixed herbs
Brown the mince, add the veggies until semi-cooked, add the chopped tomatoes until boiling. Add herbs and spices. Add the kidney beans and let it simmer for 10 minutes stirring in between. Portion up into 5 portions, let it cool and freeze!
15g Fat (5g saturated fat)
So we’re five days into January now, how is everyone’s healthy diet and exercise regimes going? All I can say is I have upped the exercise, I have been to the gym twice this week so far and have started eating my usual diet again. I have not cut out chocolate or biscuits completely. I mean how can I when there are still lots left over from Christmas still needing eaten? It’s all about the B word – balance. Eating healthily all the time and cutting out indulgences in life such as chocolate works for some people. But for the majority of people it just doesn’t and we need those indulgences as treats to make us feel good! I’m not saying go out and eat a 300g bar of chocolate but the odd 45g bar is perfectly fine.
To help with the balanced eating I have shared a lunch idea which was my lunch yesterday. It still tastes great and is full of the vital vitamins and minerals needed for optimum bodily health.
Avocado on toast has appeared to make a great name for itself in the world of blogging and instagram but I’m so glad it has. Avocados are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats – around 15g per half avocado, also a great source of vitamin K and folate. Scrambled egg are my favourite way to eat eggs (probably because I cannot poach eggs very well!) and I find it goes well with avocado and another great source of monounsaturated fat.But also quite high in saturated fat so don’t eat them in large quantities. The egg acted as my protein source for the meal too. I added my fav salad veggies/ fruit on the side – cherry tomatoes and cucumber to up the nutrients.
For dessert I sliced up an apple and added some almond butter and cinnamon. Was like Christmas again with the cinnamon but tasted so good!
All together this lunch comes to around 460 kcal and 17g protein.
Tonight’s dinner was delicious and nutritious!
A fillet of salmon as my protein source, sweet potato as the carbohydrate source and veggies of courgette and mushroom. It’s so easy and quick to make the only effort really is cutting up the veg. Courgette is a great source of vitamin C and B vitamins. It is also very low on the calorie side so a large portion won’t cost you too many calories! Mushrooms are also low calorie and a great source of micronutrients such as selenium and B vitamins. Sweet potato is higher in fibre than the classic white potato especially if you keep the skins on, they are also a great source of vitamin A and C. And of course salmon is an oily fish full of good fats, this meal would give you the recommended intake of oily fish for the week!
Simply wrap the fillet of salmon in tin foil with a bit of sunflower oil. Chop all the vegetables and also drizzle in a bit of oil and paprika, mix all this in a bowl and add to a baking tray. Cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven at 180 degrees C.
27g Fat (4g saturated)
When you have a free Saturday afternoon with nothing much to do, what’s the best thing to fill your time? Experimenting with baking of course! (well in this case it’s no bake recipes).
There are so many recipe ideas for energy balls all over the web. I tend to use recipes I find and adapt them if the ingredients are difficult to find or expensive (student life and all). That’s exactly what I did with these two energy ball recipes!
The first (to the top right of the plate) are brazil nut protein energy balls and the other is sunflower seed peanut energy balls. A food processor is the best thing to use to make these as fine food particles are created easily. I used my Breville VBL062 Blend-Active Blender which actually worked well!
- Brazil nut protein energy balls
35g Brazil nuts
25g Cocoa powder
2 tspns vanilla essence
1 scoop (25g) unflavoured protein powder
Around 2 tbspns water (depends on dryness)
Firstly blend the brazil nuts until a very fine consistency remains almost like flour. Then add the dates and blend again. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla essence and blend. Finally add the whey protein and 1 tbspn water and blend. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and if too dry add up to 1 tbspn water until the mixture is easy to roll into balls in your hand.
Macros (per ball):
5.8g Fat (1.9g saturated)
2.Sunflower seed peanut energy balls
60g peanut butter
1tspn vanilla extract
35g sunflower seeds
25g cocoa powder
Blend the oats to begin with again until a fine flour like consistency is produced. Add the other ingredients and blend again. It doesn’t matter which order the ingredients are put in. Again then transfer to a bowl and roll into balls.
Macros (per ball):
6.2g Fat (0.6g saturated)
Whey protein, something my friends and family are always asking about “Do you really need it?”. My opinion is if you struggle to get enough protein from your diet alone for your activity level then you may need it. If you have a high volume of muscle mass you are also likely to need it as eating your whole protein requirements can be quite difficult and time consuming compared to drinking a protein shake. I would always say try as hard as you can to get your protein from food sources and not supplements. Use supplements as a last resort! If you rely too much on whey protein you are likely to be causing unnecessary deficiencies such as calcium, iron and B vitamins all found in food protein sources such as eggs,meat and beans. Do Not use them as a meal replacement!
Remember building muscle or getting “toned” takes effort in the gym. Taking a protein supplement alone will not do this and will be a waste of time.
I usually only consume whey protein on a day that I know I am going to be training, or a recovery day after I have trained as I need an increased protein intake for muscle repair. I am not a huge fan of protein shakes and prefer to add whey protein to my porridge in the morning to increase the protein content of that meal.
Anyway, enough of the important facts and more about my favourite whey proteins!
My favourite brand is muscle food as they also sell other branded products like my fav nut butter so I tend to try and save money and buy all these things in one order. My favourite has got to be Cherry Bakewell. Keeping in the theme of a previous blog post I do love cherry bakewell flavoured products and bakewell tarts as a treat! I also currently have Unflavoured which I sometimes use for baking or is great with porridge and some honey. I also have Cappucino which is tasty but slightly sweet for my liking.
My second favourite brand is good old Myprotein. Chocolate peanut butter is by far my favourite flavour of theirs! It contains flavours of my fav foods so I knew it was likley to be a winner before even trying! Myprotein also have Stevia options instead of sucralose if you prefer the taste or prefer a natural sweetner.
Before you buy whey protein think if you really need it or could you get protein from more food sources in your diet? Speak to your GP/ dietitian if you are unsure.
I’m embarrassed to say this is my first time trying tuna steak but the good thing is I loved it and will be having it again!
I bought a pack of frozen tuna steaks that will do four portions. It’s the cheapest way to buy it and freezing preserves all the good oily fish nutrients like omega 3!
I cooked it by wrapping the steak in tin foil with a little oil and Italian herbs along with some chopped peppers. I baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees C. I served with cous cous and some frozen mixed veg cooked in the microwave.
It was super tasty and the best way to eat tuna nutritionally! Remember canned tuna isn’t an oily fish as the canning process removes most of the omega 3!
I’ve seen these two ingredient pancakes all over the web and have always wanted to give them a shot. I have always thought that if I tried to make them, that they would come out a lot different than expected and quite frankly a mess. But you never know until you try right?
So they are made of two medium eggs and a banana, that’s it!
Simply break up a banana into small chunks and place in a blending cup/ food processor and add crack in two eggs. I used my Breville VBL062 Blend-Active Blender for this. Blitz until a liquid consistency resembling pancake batter is formed.You can use an old fashioned mixing bowl as long as the banana is mashed thoroughly, whisk the eggs in a separate bowl then mix together in one bowl. Heat oil of your choice in a frying pan, I used sunflower oil for this. Once the pan is hot and the oil mostly melted, pour in the batter.Leave for around 5 minutes before attempting to turn over. It may take longer/ quicker than 5 minutes depending on the heat of your cooker but you should pretty much be able to judge if the top is less liquidy and steam starts to protrude from the batter.
Transfer to a plate with a fish slice and add toppings of your choice.
As you can probably tell from the picture I turned mine over a bit too soon, that’s why there is a hole on the surface. You can hide this with your toppings though! (sneaky I know).
I topped mine with sliced apple, peanut butter and honey. Delicious!
Macros (for pancake without toppings):
17g Fat (3.8g saturated)
I’ve recently given Buff bake nut butters a go. My favourite was definitely the snickerdoodle almond butter with added flax and chia seeds. It’s delicious!
There are different ways to enjoy trying the nut butter. My favourite way is on top of porridge with some sliced banana (pictured above), but you can have it with apple, eat it straight out of the packet or even have it with veggies like celery as the packaging suggests (not sure I’ll be giving that a go though)!
It has added whey protein too which makes the macros quite incredible:
14g Fat (2g saturated)
The product is available in jars or 32g sachets. I go for the sachets which come in packs of 10.