Fit for my Fork

Fit food, fit body, fit mind!


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Happy Belated Macaroon Day!

I saw on a few blogs that yesterday was National Macaroon Day. I assumed the ‘national’ bit applies to the USA, but I saw that Mrs Crimbles was celebrating and I love macaroons, so I decided to celebrate too!

From Mrs Crimbles website: Although National Macaroon Day was originally celebrated in America, coconut macaroons were a British invention and the average Brit eats more macaroons than a typical American, so if anyone should be celebrating – it’s us! 

Who knew? Though obviously Mrs Crimbles is not familiar with a lot of the blogs I read, because some of those lovely American ladies seem to eat plenty of macaroons ;)

I made my macaroons earlier in the week, but in homage to Her Majesty the Queen, whom we are celebrating this weekend, I dunked them in chocolate yesterday. I read in The Times that the Queen is a bit of a chocoholic and therefore concluded that you must be a chocoholic to be a long-reigning head of the British Monarchy.

I then made a very tenuous link between my chocolate obsession and the Queen’s love of chocolate and declared that, naturally, I should be next in line to the throne. Clearly an appreciation for good chocolate is the best quality for a monarch to have!

(Let’s ignore the fact that I’m not even British).

Anyway…

I found a great recipe over at Edible Perspective that I used as my inspiration. I don’t have any almond meal or flour, I only have ground almonds, which have a lot more texture than the flour. Previously when I have made macaroons with ground almonds and shredded coconut, they have been quick to fall apart – even when I’m just trying to shape them on the baking tray.

I solved this problem by backing off on the shredded coconut and adding a bit of coconut flour to help keep them together. It gave the macaroons more of a cookie texture, but I love them and they don’t fall apart in my lunch box!

Orange and Chocolate Macaroon Bites

Adapted from Edible Perspective

Ingredients

2 egg whites or 4 tablespoons liquid egg whites
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tbsp orange zest
3 large squares (30g) of orange-flavoured dark chocolate
1 tsp coconut oil

Beat egg whites until fluffy, then add honey and beat for a few more minutes.

Add all other ingredients and mix gently. The dough should be slightly wet but if it is soupy, add more desiccated coconut not more coconut flour!

Dampen your hands and form the mix into small balls, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake 15-20 minutes at 175°C (350°F) until there is a ‘lightly toasted’ look to the top.

Let the cookies cool and then put them in the fridge for a while (you want to be sure they are truly cold!).

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together (if you do not have coconut oil, just use the chocolate – do not try to substitute any other kind of oil!) and dip your cookies into it, or drizzle the chocolate over top.

Obviously I went for the dunked method, because the more chocolate you can cram onto a cookie, the better!

These look very lumpy because the chocolate I used has pieces of orange peel in it.

After you have made a very big mess and have chocolate all over your fingers, put your cookies in the fridge to set. They keep best in the fridge and the coating tends to get a bit slippery if left out for too long.

A chocolate bar with pieces of flaked almond and orange peel is tasty, but it did make for a very lumpy coating. Luckily lumpiness doesn’t affect taste, because these are one of the best cookies I’ve ever made! They’re also the only macaroons I’ve made that have ever kept themselves together despite being thrown around on my bike ride to work.

Note: If you want to be sure that this recipe is gluten-free, make sure your ingredients are certified gluten-free. The chocolate I used, which was part of an Excellence Orange Intense bar from Lindt, is not gluten-free.

I even crumbled two of these over my oatmeal this morning for an indulgent breakfast. It’s been a very looooong week and I love any excuse to put chocolate in my oatmeal.

Any big plans for the weekend? Will you be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee or watching any of the festivities on the television?


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Meal Planning #1 – Week of May 21

I love meal planning, and I will never go back to throwing random things in a cart and then attempting to put something together on the fly after a long day.

Because we sometimes have to make an effort to satisfy us both, I thought I’d show you what a typical dinner menu looks like in our house and the modifications we make to keep both of us happy.

This week was pretty straightforward, but if nothing else it might give you some ideas for what could include on your own dinner menu.

I should state again that I am not trying to lose weight and generally eat about – or at least, depending on exercise – 2000 calories a day. Obviously if you are trying to lose weight and are looking for a meal plan that will suit your goals, this probably isn’t it. But a lot of our meals could be served in smaller portions if you are cutting calories.

We try to have a balance of meat, fish, and chicken, and sometimes will have a vegetarian meal one day per week. This was not one of those weeks!

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Week of May 21, 2012

Meal #1Grilled lamb skewers with yogurt mint dipping sauce*
We’ve had this a few times and both of us love it. We’ve also had it with chicken but we preferred the lamb. We make lots of kabobs with pieces of peppers, onion, and the meat and put them under the grill. This one does not require any tweaking and we make enough to have a whole meal of meat and vegetables.

Meal #2 – Barbecued haddock in a parsley, garlic and olive oil marinade with corn on the cob and peppers
Cooked and eaten outside on a gorgeous evening, this meal was definitely a hit. We threw everything on the barbecue which also saved on dishes. Nothing had to be added or changed to suit.

Meal #3Chicken biryani* with steamed broccoli
This was a new recipe for us, but we both really liked it. We love curry, so we’re not too hard to please in that department! It’s a one pot, and since I don’t completely deprive myself of anything, I ate this as is, including the rice.

Meal #4Jerk beef burger with pineapple relish* with mashed sweet potato and broccoli
These burgers are wonderful, and so is the relish. I just eat my two burgers without buns – I didn’t miss them with all the flavours going on!

Meal #5 – Cider braised pork in the slow cooker with cauliflower
This recipe is in the cookbook The Slow Cooker Collection by Canadian Living magazine. We followed this recipe as it was laid out since it was our first time trying it – in future I may try to thicken with something other than plain white flour since it’s an ingredient I try to avoid. The pork was moist and tender, and the sauce was delicious.

Meal #6 – Chili with rice
We don’t follow a recipe when making chili – ours involves kidney beans in chili sauce, ground beef, canned tomatoes, peppers, onions,  spices, and whatever else we feel like throwing in or have sitting in the fridge. I usually skip the rice and just eat the chili.

Meal #7Smoky chicken and bean stew with wholemeal pita bread
Another new one for us. We both love one pot meals… especially the person in charge of doing the dishes! Sometimes I’ll have a pita with something like this, sometimes I won’t. But usually I will. ;)

A recipe with an asterisk (*) means we both would recommend it and have had it at least once before. I’d definitely encourage you to give them a try!

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Meal planning is something I really enjoy, and it has a lot of benefits that aren’t just economic. We started meal planning to save money but now we both like it for other reasons. Dubsy hates grocery shopping and only wants to do it once a week. I like knowing what I’m having for dinner and thinking ahead means I can ensure it fits into my way of eating. It takes the guess work out of dinner and means we rarely discover we are out of a necessary ingredient.

As you can see from the above, we tend to make things that we can both agree on, and just make a couple sides that one or both can eat with the main part of the meal. This was on my list of suggestions about cooking with your partner because it’s a super easy way to satisfy everybody. We cook every night (unless we decide to go out for a meal, which is not often a spontaneous decision because we are not very spontaneous people!) and rarely rely on pre-packaged foods. Though I know this is not an option for everyone, it makes it easier to keep an eye on what you are consuming.

Do you plan your meals every week? What’s your main motivation for meal planning?


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Meals with your Dirty-Eating Partner

Don’t be put off by the title – Dubsy doesn’t really eat dirtily, and if you don’t ‘eat clean’, I don’t actually think you eat dirtily either. I was just trying to think of the opposite of ‘eating clean’, so for the case of this post, he eats dirty!

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If you live with – or at least cook with – your partner, you are probably very familiar with making compromises when it comes to meals. And if you’re not the compromising type, you might also be used to having regular disagreements over ingredients.

Dubsy and I have finally figured out how to make both of us happy, and even though he eats a lot of things that I don’t – and I eat a lot that he turns his nose up at – we are making it work for us. I like to eat clean, with a Primal focus (which means fewer starches and grains and more protein) and Dubsy eats… well, nearly everything.

I won’t lie, finding out what works for us took a while. Dubs questioned my food choices when I gave up regularly eating pasta and bread and I balked at packaged sauces with sugar as a main ingredient. But we are a household that cooks our meals from scratch every night (with the occasional help from Pataks or some frozen vegetables) so altering our menus to suit both of us wasn’t actually that difficult.

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Here’s what I’ve learned about keeping the peace in the kitchen:

  • Be willing to compromise. Like any kind of relationship, the way you deal with dinner requires some give and take. Decide what’s important to you, and then decide what isn’t such a big deal. We rarely rely on things like bottled sauces, but when we do, I try to find the one with the least amount of sugar if there are no sugarless ones available. I also look for those that have only natural ingredients. A few grams of sugar in a pasta or barbecue sauce is not the end of the world so this is an example of something I am willing to compromise on.
  • Replace things you don’t want to eat with ones you do. I don’t have pasta often anymore, so if we are having spaghetti and meatballs, I have meatballs and broccoli instead. I used to love broccoli with tomato sauce, so this doesn’t feel like I am giving up much because it tastes really good! If we are having carbonara, I make myself some courgette noodles. It might take a little bit more work, but if it means you can avoid kitchen squabbles, it’s definitely worth cleaning one extra pot or pan.
  • Sides are an easy way to make sure you all get what you want. If you make the main focus of your meal something that you both agree on eating – for example, grilled chicken with a homemade marinade – then you can accompany it with a few sides you can mix and match. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for your or your partner’s lunch the next day.
  • Meal planning is your friend. We make a list every week before we go shopping, and on it we list our dinners, including the day we are having them (more about this in another post). Then there is no guesswork involved when it comes to cooking in the evening. Originally we started doing this for budgetary reasons, but it works really well in other ways too. If you give your weekly menu a bit of thought prior to shopping, it means you will have the ingredients on hand to ensure both of you are satisfied with every meal.
  • If you want to add more vegetables to your meals, make them vegetables your partner also likes. If you eat three meals a day, there are two meals other than dinner in which you can include the ones they don’t. If your partner hates broccoli, for example, don’t bother cooking it at dinner – steam it for lunch or throw it into an omelette for breakfast. But, if your partner loves broccoli, then this is a safe side to regularly include at dinner time.
  • Don’t be afraid to modify your favourite recipes. A lot of recipes can be modified without losing too much of what you already know you love. Experiment, add in extra servings of vegetables, leave out or replace ingredients you don’t want, swap a pre-made sauce or mix for one you can make yourself (Google for recipes similar to what you are trying to replace) or, if possible, make half the meal to the regular recipe, and half to your liking. This isn’t always possible, but sometimes it’s as easy as leaving off the topping.
  • Be creative with your lunch. I eat lunch at work, so obviously this means Dubsy doesn’t eat the same things I do at this time of day. I love taking things like meatloaf muffins, quinoa, salads, hummus, and so on – these are things Dubsy isn’t a big fan of, and if I eat them at lunch time, we don’t have to worry about trying to include them in our weekly dinner planning.
  • Try new recipes. By cooking something in a different way or having it in a new dish, your partner may discover they actually love (insert something you like eating here). Don’t be afraid to try something new because you never know, it may become a regular thing on your dinner plate!
  • Be willing to put in the time. Whether it’s meal planning or cutting up extra vegetables, eating well and eating the way you want to eat can take a bit of extra time. If you make a little more preparation part of your plan, it will go a long way to making sure you’re both happy. I’m not talking about hours here – it might be as small as peeling and chopping a few extra carrots to cook for yourself later in the week or cooking an extra chicken breast one night for you to eat the next while your partner indulges in something you’d rather avoid. That said…
  • Make it easy on yourself and your partner. Don’t like chopping veggies? Buy pre-chopped or frozen. Don’t have a salad spinner or can’t be bothered to chop and wash a head of lettuce? Buy pre-washed. I have lazy days sometimes, and if it’s easy for me to make poor choices because the better ones involve more effort, then chances are I will. So make it easy to eat well!

Most importantly, talk to your partner about how you would like to eat at dinner or any other shared meals. They may think you’re crazy, but if you show you’re dedicated to eating a specific way and that you’re willing to put the time and effort in to make sure their meals aren’t changed very much, cooking things you can both agree on can be reasonably painless.

I can’t stress how important compromising is, and even though I already wrote about it above, I want to talk about it again. I have stopped getting bent out of shape over additives in things that are included in our meals in very small amounts (for example, one pre-packaged ingredient in an otherwise homemade sauce). Dubsy has acquiesced to sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes on most potato-occasions. We still make a lot of the same meals we used to, but I modify recipes or serve my portions with extra vegetables instead of pasta or rice.

Every family and couple are different and you need to find out what works for you. There are tons of great recipes out there to suit any and all diets and lifestyles.

Any change to dietary habits can be difficult to accommodate at first, but it does get easier with a bit of practice. Eventually it will become second nature when you’re standing at the stove. Don’t give up!

Any tips you’d like to share for keeping everyone in your family happy at dinner time?


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Sam’s Avocado Adventure

Until about a month ago, I had never had an avocado. I hadn’t even tasted guacamole. I decided as a kid that anything that green should be left alone, so I avoided it and stuck with the salsa and sour cream with my nachos (mixed together into a pink puddle on my plate, naturally).

We had some good guacamole at this total dive of a bar earlier this year. I tried it – hesitantly – and really liked it. It made me think that maybe it was time to give avocado a chance.

With all the great Cinco de Mayo recipes popping up in the blogosphere, inspiration hit me this week and I picked one up at the grocery store.

It sat on the shelf all week. Honestly, I was a little afraid of it.

Yep, this harmless little thing totally intimidated me.

Today I decided to finally man up (MAN UP!) and make something with it.

I decided to use half for a Green Goddess dressing for raw vegetables. With the other half, I made Averie’s Cheater’s Guacamole.

The dressing was easy and is absolutely delicious. I didn’t have parsley or tarragon, so I only used basil. I thought the basil complemented the smoothness of the avocado well on its own though; they’re definitely a good match. I didn’t have any anchovies either, so I added a pinch of salt instead.

Another thing I am trying to eat more of is Greek yogurt, but I don’t like it all that much on its own. Using it in this dressing means I’m getting a little dose of healthy fat and protein every time I dunk. I’m pretty pleased about that!

In my head I keep thinking of this as Greek Goddess dressing.

The guacamole was super easy. I didn’t even have to chop up an onion or end up with garlic fingers, which seems to happen regardless of whether I use a garlic press or not.

I don’t have any tortilla chips or corn chips in the house at the moment, so I’ve saved half in case I go to the store tomorrow and can pick some up. Dubsy loves guacamole, so I know he’ll be happy to test it out!

The other half of my guacamole was used with my dinner tonight, Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas. I didn’t bother with the gluten-free tortillas because I was feeling pretty lazy by the time I got around to cooking. I just threw the sauce ingredients in the frying pan with the turkey, onions, and sweet potato, and called it a meal.

I don’t know why I avoided avocados for so long. They really aren’t anything to be afraid of! I’ve seen a lot of Primal smoothie recipes that include avocado, so maybe I’ll try adding it to my smoothie next time I buy one.

Next adventure? Artichokes, which I have only ever had in a dip (and loved).

What’s your favourite avocado recipe? Is there any vegetable you’ve always been a bit intimidated by?


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Sunday Sunday Sunday!

It’s been a slow Sunday over here. The weather can’t make up it’s mind and we had hail, thunder and lightning less than an hour ago even though it was absolutely beautiful this morning! Good ol’ England.

It was one of those days in which I really didn’t mind being inside for most of the afternoon. I got my workout in (one more week left of Lean phase on Chalean Extreme!), did some cleaning, and then got down to business in the kitchen.

What was I whipping up this weekend? Well, funny you should ask, because I was going to tell you anyway.

Courgette Tart
Original recipe by the Hairy Bikers

This was taken at the ‘mix everything together in the bowl’ stage. Then I spread it out in a dish and baked it in the oven. This went horribly wrong for me. It tastes good, but it looks awful so I decided to spare you the finished product. I tried to modify this recipe to make it Primal and replaced regular flour with coconut flour. I cut it down to half what the recipe called for and still had to use a bunch of extra liquid to try to thin the batter out.

Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

(And I’m going to eat the squidgy mess anyway.)

Quinoa Buckwheat Cereal
Recipe by Eating Bird Food 

This is the third time in as many weeks that I’ve made this granola. I love it! The protein content in quinoa is great and I have always loved making my own breakfast cereal. I am quite happy eating oatmeal, buckwheat and quinoa and it is such a wonderful, tasty change from my usual eggs!

ChocoChia Milkshake
Recipe by The Spunky Coconut

This was my post-workout snack. Since I’m still on a green smoothie kick I blended some spinach with the coconut milk before adding the rest of the ingredients. I also put in some desiccated coconut for more coconutty goodness and a whopping big tablespoon of my chocolate whey protein powder. Mmm!

I devoured this before I even thought of taking a picture.

Girl Scout Cookie Larabars LaraBalls
Recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie

Here they are, all packed up and ready to take in my lunch.

The original recipe made bars, however I rolled them into balls because I just couldn’t be bothered. My hand blender does not mix things very well and I should have chopped the dates up before I attempted to mix them with the other ingredients.

These coconut and chocolate balls are so good! I’m really pleased with how they turned out, even though they have big chunks of unmixed date in them.

I was going to make up a sweet potato salad as well but now that I have parts of the courgette tart left (since Dubs wouldn’t touch it) I’m going to take that as a side dish in my lunch instead. Planning ahead is such a pain sometimes, and though the recipes I attempt don’t always work out, it does keep things interesting. I love trying new foods and taking unusual stuff in my lunch.

Speaking of new, I found this at Waitrose today and decided to give it a try:

I’m always a bit leery of trying flavoured coconut water because sometimes it can go really wrong. This one is cherry vanilla… and it was actually really good! The other brand I’ve tried is Vitacoco, and I found their peach and mango flavour absolutely disgusting. This one has grape juice and cherry juice in it.

The best coconut water I’ve ever had was at a food festival in London. I purchased a young coconut with the top machete’d off and a straw. Oh, and there were also two shots of rum in there. Rum and coconut water is one of the best cocktails ever, and I may argue it’s one of the healthiest.

It. was. so. good.

I may be a bit late to the party, but I’ve also just discovered Instagram. I doctored a few of the photos above with it this afternoon. It’s pretty cool, and makes my mediocre pictures look almost good (if I do say so myself!).

Have you tried flavoured coconut water? What did you think? 


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Lime and Garlic Cauliflower

I love cauliflower. I’ve always loved it, even as a kid. Maybe that makes me a bit weird, but cooked or raw, cauliflower has been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember. I made up this butter yesterday to go with our steaks (inspired by this recipe), but I think I preferred it on my cauliflower!

(Picture Source)

Cauliflower with Lime and Garlic Butter

You will need:

1 head of cauliflower
1 tbsp of butter
the juice of one lime (more or less, depending on taste)
two garlic cloves
salt

Crush your garlic cloves in a garlic crusher or work them into your cutting board with a spoon until they form a paste. Ensure there are no really large chunks (unless you like that sort of thing!). Mix this with your butter, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a bowl and set aside. If the garlic and lime flavour is too strong or you need it to go further, add a bit more butter.

Cook your cauliflower however you like – steamed, boiled, baked, etc. While your cauliflower is still warm, drop the lime and garlic butter on top and let it melt. If the cauliflower isn’t warm enough for the butter to melt on its own, stick it in the oven or under the grill for a moment or two.

Serve up as a delicious alternative to boring old cauliflower.

So, cauliflower. Yay or nay? If you hated it as a child, do you like it now?


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Primal and Not-so-Primal Pot Pies

Sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge making dinner in this house postage-stamp sized flat – I try to eat as Primal as possible, and Dubsy doesn’t. In fact, if someone can possibly be against eating Primal, it’s him.

So making a meal that we will both eat, enjoy, and feel good about fitting into our lifestyles (mainly mine – he’ll eat anything), can be very, very difficult.

Thankfully, I have a lot of great places to get inspiration, and I’m not afraid to make a few tweaks or spend a bit of time preparing other side dishes for me if he’s having rice or pasta. One such place is BBC Good Food magazine, which is full of beautiful pictures and reasonably easy recipes. We have a pretty good track record with BBC Good Food: I think we’ve only disliked two things we’ve made from the magazine in over a year, and we tend to try out their recipes at least 2-3 times per week.

Anyway, I know you’re here for the food so let’s move on.

Sausage and Mushroom Pot Pies – Two Ways

From BBC Good Food, May 2012

You will need:

2 tsp coconut oil (or other fat of choice)
1 onion, chopped
6 sausages, ours were pork
250g chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
4 tbsp creme fraiche (or cream)
fresh parsley
some stale ciabatta or french bread, ripped into pieces

Preheat oven to 200C.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook until soft. Cut or chop the sausages into pieces and add to the pan. If you don’t want the slightly puckered look of chopped sausages with the outer casing, remove it first. Alternatively, roll sausage meat into balls with your hands (this is what Good Food suggests… I am too lazy for all that effort when I’m hungry). Allow sausages to brown for about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more.

Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the mustard and creme fraiche along with about 4 tbsp of water. Bubble away for two minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Put the sausage mixture into two small pie dishes – or one big one, if that’s all you have. Toss the ciabatta or french loaf with a bit more oil, scatter the pieces over the top of one of the pies or half of the pie if you are using one big dish (this will be for your non-Primal friend).

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the bread is golden brown. Remove and enjoy with something nice and green, like broccoli!

It was easy to make this work for us both. All I did was put the bread topping on one side and not the other! It was really delicious, and a good, quick mid-week meal. Dubs liked it and so did I – this doesn’t always happen when I try to Primalize something so I think this is a keeper.

I love sausages.

Mmm, sausages!

How do you modify recipes to suit you and your partner, friends, or family, if you don’t follow the same style of eating?

(Apologies for the quality of my food photos… I am trying to learn how to take better pictures!)

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