Eggplant Lasagne with Cauliflower sauce

Eggplant Lasagne with creamy Cauliflower sauce

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce
Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Old I stumbled upon this http://pinchofyum.com/creamy-cauliflower-sauce recipe for Creamy  Cauliflower Sauce, and it sounded great. I’d already had in mind to make a Lasagne this week for one of my low calorie meals, and thought this sauce could potentially replace the traditional Bechamel sauce. 

Eggplant Lasagne with Cauliflower sauce
Eggplant Lasagne with Cauliflower sauce

I’ve altered the original recipe as it appeared to have too much vegetable stock. I also I wanted this to sauce to have a neutral flavour, so omitted the garlic (8 cloves!) and added  a small amount of grated Parmesan cheese.  The only other change I would make next time would be to give the Cauliflower a few more minutes in the blender and pass it through a fine sieve. My sauce was a little grainy and had a slightly unpleasant mouth feel (it tastes fine)

 

Eggplant Lasagne with Cauliflower sauce
Eggplant Lasagne with Cauliflower sauce

 

Apart from the cheese, all of the other ingredients in this Lasagne are extremely low in calories,  so much so that 1 serving is only 130 calories, which is ideal for one of my 5:2 diet day meals. I baked this on a Sunday and had it for lunch the following day with a side of fresh salad.  The Lasagne re-heated well in the microwave oven, and combined with the salad made for a reasonably filling lunch. 

Forgetting the calories for a minute, this dish is also vegetarian. If you double the serving size, it would make a great main for meatless Monday’s.

Verdict: So it’s not  a “real” Lasagne, but it’s a good healthy substitute, tastes great, is very low in calories.  The garlic powder adds a little bit of back heat to the dish, which was an unexpected bonus. 

Recipe(s) Follow.

 

Eggplant Lasagne with Cauliflower sauce
Eggplant Lasagne with Cauliflower sauce

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Prawn Cakes

Prawn Cakes – Oven baked, Crispy, Fluffy, Delicious

 

Prawn Cakes
Prawn Cakes

I love Prawns, you can cook them any way you like, Boiled, on the BBQ, in a Gumbo, stir fired, stick em in a wonton and steam them, coat them in Breadcrumbs and deep fry, or mince them and make a Crispy Prawn cake out of them.  

Prawn Cakes
Prawn Cakes

Today is a low calorie diet day, and Prawns are a really low source of protein with very low calories, so I wanted to incorporate them in tonight’s dinner. I also wanted to keep this recipe really simple, and not overpower the prawn flavour with heaps of herbs and spices unlike this recipe http://www.45degrees.co.nz/thai-fish-cakes-low-cal-smash-hit/ 

Prawn Cakes
Prawn Cakes

Nine simple ingredients including the salt and pepper make up these delicious patties. The Prawn flavour is kept intact, they are crispy on the outside, the Panko breadcrumbs keeps them light and fluffy in the middle. These are grilled (broiled) in your oven at the highest temperature your oven can manage, this allows the outside to brown an crispen, while the center is just cooked. Even if I wasn’t watching my calories, I would oven grill them, that’s how  good they turned out.

Prawn CakesPrawn Cakes
Prawn Cakes

The picture show the generous helping you get from this recipe. These are about 100 calories for each large Prawn Cake.

Prawn Cakes
Prawn Cakes

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Spicy potato and cauliflower patties

Spicy Potato and Cauliflower hash patties

 Spicy potato and cauliflower patties

Spicy potato and cauliflower hash patties

These spicy potato and cauliflower hash patties are low calorie, vegan, gluten free and paleo but don’t let that put you off, they are really delicious. Serve them with a spicy tomato chutney on the side for a bit of heat.

 I’ve prepared these specifically for a 5:2 lunch time meal, and at 200 calories per serving (including the Chutney) these are relatively filling (320 grams), and have a wonderful flavour thanks to the addition of the Madras curry powder.

These patties are very delicate to handle, hence the hash reference. If I had more calories to spare, I’d probably add some flour and an egg to bind then better – which would also make the non Paleo and not Vegan. 

Serve these with some store bought, or better yet homemade tomato chutney for an extra flavour hit. I’ll post a recipe for the tomato chutney  shortly – in the meantime, here’s a picture.

Spicy Indian tomato chutney
Spicy Indian tomato chutney

Spicy Potato and Cauliflower hash patties

Ingredients

250 grams potato, peeled and chopped into 5 cm pieces

250 grams cauliflower florets

50 grams frozen peas

½ onion chopped

3 cloves garlic crushed

1 inch ginger minced

½ tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp coriander powder

1 tsp curry Madras powder

Spray of cooking oil

2 tablespoons tomato chutney to serve

Spicy potato and cauliflower patties
Spicy potato and cauliflower hash  patties

Method

Cook the potatoes and peas in boiling water for 5-6 minutes until cooked through. Drain and mash together.
Cook the cauliflower florets in a separate pan of boiling water until tender, or microwave for approx. 6 minutes with on high until cooked.

Spray a pan with oil, and gently fry the onions garlic and ginger until the onions are soft, but not browned.

Add the cooked Cauliflower, onion mixture and spices to the mashed potato and pea mixture and combine thoroughly.

Shape the mixture into 1/3 cup size patties. Place on parchment paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes for the mixture to firm up. (can be frozen at this stage)

Spray a non stick pan with cooking oil, and fry the patties a few at a time until brown and crisp.

Yields approx. 8 patties. Approx. 45 calories each.

Serve hot or at room temperature with a tablespoon of tomato chutney for a low calorie meal.

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Spicy potato and cauliflower patties
Spicy potato and cauliflower patties

 

CAULIFLOWER RICE – NASI GORENG STYLE

Cauliflower Rice – Nasi Goreng style – Mega low calorie

CAULIFLOWER RICE – NASI GORENG STYLE
CAULIFLOWER RICE – NASI GORENG STYLE

I’m back to Cauliflower in my never ending search for low calorie ingredients that are filling and have the potential to be delicious. This time I’m going to find out if the much read about Cauliflower Rice is actually any good or just another gimmick dish. I’m a little skeptical so I’m going for something with a lot of flavour first up – Nasi Goreng.  

Nasi Goreng is Indonesia’s National dish, and is quite spicy. I’m confident the strong flavours will mask any of the inherent Cauliflower taste, and from everything I’ve read the texture is very similar to real rice, so I shouldn’t need to worry on that front. 

I’ve had hit and miss results with Cauliflower before, I liked the Pizza crust recipe I made last year but my wife was not a fan. On the other hand, the Cauliflower Cumin fritters were really very good, and got the thumbs up from both of us – I must make them again soon.  I’m hoping this recipe can become one I’m happy to repeat. 

I found this recipe http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/paleo-nasi-goreng-indonesian-fried-rice-recipe/ and not only did it look good, it also sounded great.  It’s the first time I’ve visited Irey’s website which focuses on Paleo recipes. Surprisingly quite a lot of Paleo recipes translate very well to tasty low calorie dishes with little or no modification. I’m sure to get quite a few inspirational recipes cruising her site.

Sauce and "Riced Cauliflower"
Sauce and “Riced Cauliflower”

The recipe becomes extremely low calorie by simply removing the meat (chicken and prawns)I substituted Ketup Manis for Tahini simply because I have it in the cupboard, which meant I didn’t need the Honey either. If you stick with the Tahini, this will also be Paleo.

Here is the recipe with my modifications – approx 80 calories per serve (serves 4), or 150 calories per serve if using the optional fried egg. This gives you plenty of scope to add meat protein if you desire, or have this as a healthy lunch, and spoil yourself for dinner.

Cauliflower Rice – Nasi Goreng style

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 medium white onion, peeled and diced
  2. 6 cups diced cauliflower (600 grams)
  3. 1 small carrot, peeled and diced
  4. 1 garlic clove, peeled and diced
  5. 2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
  6. 2 tbsp Ketup Manis
  7. 1 tsp fish sauce
  8. A little salt
  9. 4 eggs (optional)
  10. fresh coriander
  11. 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
CAULIFLOWER RICE – NASI GORENG STYLE
CAULIFLOWER RICE – NASI GORENG STYLE

Method.

1. In a non-stick pan or wok, heat oil to medium and fry the egg until done to your liking – set aside
1. Add oil to a medium hot non-stick pan or Wok, add the onion and carrots & fry for 2-3 minutes, add garlic, fry for a further minute (add a splash of water if the vegetables are sticking). Turn the heat to high, add the Cauliflower rice and wet ingredients, cook for a further 6 - 8 minutes you need to allow the Cauliflower to crispen or brown slightly, then stir and rest so it has the opportunity to brown a bit more, you need a high heat.
4. Serve topped with chopped coriander.
5. If using egg, heat a spray of oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat and fry the egg until done to your liking.

CAULIFLOWER RICE – NASI GORENG STYLE
CAULIFLOWER RICE – NASI GORENG STYLE

 The Verdict?

I had this with fried egg, and some fresh chilli straight out of the Wok. It was good, but the Cauliflower was a little undercooked. I actually prefer raw cauliflower, so this wasn’t really a problem for me. The flavour and heat were there, but it did seem lacking in something, perhaps chicken or prawns and probably oil. 

I’m preparing this in advance as a side for tomorrow’s dinner. It will get a little extra cooking, and I’ll be serving it with grilled chicken and I think a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a little more salt will liven the whole thing up.

Additionally, in the context of the fast diet, ie. restricting calorie intake to 5 or 600 per day, this recipe delivers on the all important “quantity” factor, not to be sniffed at on you diet day (as you well know)

All in all I will definitely make this again, with just a few tweaks, I think this will be in the excellent category.

Close up
Close up

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Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebab

Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebabs

Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebab
Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebab

As write this, it’s the end of another 5:2 Diet day, and while I’m still hungry, I’ve just eaten a truly satifying meal. This recipe http://www.lavenderandlovage.com/2013/02/52-diet-215-calorie-kebabs-cajun-chicken-kebab-and-spiced-yoghurt-dip-recipe.html  comes from an inspirational “Fast Diet” food blogger Karen  Burns-Booth of www.lavenderandlovage.com 

This particular recipe so simple, but very, very tasty.  I’d happily eat 2 of these for a main meal on a non diet day, and that would still only rack up around 430 calories. Apart from a change in the brand of Cajun Spice powder in my dish, this recipe is faithful to the original.

Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebab
Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebab

Ingredients

 150 Grams Chicken Breasts, Skinless, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon Cajun Spice
Low Fat Natural Yoghurt, 100 g
2 x Weight Watchers Pitta Bread (or 2 x mini pitta breads)
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 Small Red Onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Fresh – Rocket Leaves, 40 g
1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp Ground Coriander
1 lemon, cut in half (one half cut into 2 wedges)

Directions

 Step 1   Spoon about a quarter of the low-fat yoghurt into a bowl and add the Cajun spice mix, and the juice of half a lemon. Mix well and then add the chicken pieces and allow to marinate for at least an hour or up to four hours.

Step 2   Just before cooking, take the chicken pieces out of the marinade. Heat a griddle pan over medium heat (or a grill if grilling the chicken) and put the chicken pieces in the pan. Keep moving them around so they don’t stick to the pan and keep cooking over a low heat until cooked. I cooked mine under the Grill in the oven.

Step 3   Mix the rest of the low-fat yoghurt with the ground coriander and cumin, and spoon in to a small bowl.

Step 4   Two or three minutes before the chicken is cooked, pop the pitta breads in a toaster or in a warm oven and heat them up. Arrange the rocket leaves, sliced tomatoes and sliced red onion on a plate.

Step 5   Divide the chicken pieces between two plates and allow the diners to assemble the kebab themselves by adding the salad and yoghurt dip to the chicken in a split pitta bread.

Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebab
Low Calorie Cajun Chicken Kebab

 

Philly Cheesesteak

Philly Cheesesteak Stew

Philly Cheesesteak
Philly Cheesesteak

It’s May in Queenstown, the last month of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, and things are looking decidedly Wintery. Snow is in the forecast and the view across the Lake backs up the Metservice forecast The  normally commanding  presence of Cecil Peak is barely visible through the sleety rain. It promises to be the first ground level snowfall of the year, which even for an old fella like me is still a little exciting.  Most of us aren’t very well equipped to deal with snow if it settles on the roads,  so there is always anticipation of a “Snow day” when snow is forecast to Lake levels. Will it dump a huge amount of snow and make it impossible for me to get to work on Monday? (probably not, 14 years in Queenstown and I’ve only had 1 snow day). It was quite a good dumping of snow – Here’s a picture 

Winter has arrived
Winter has arrived

The thought of cold weather instantly brings about a need for comfort food –  stews, roast meats and vegetables, warming pies, soups, breads and cheeses, that kind of stuff. So I started trolling around for a hearty slow cooked meal that ticked the Winter warmer meal box and found this delicious sounding recipe http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2014/02/06/philly-cheesesteak-stew/

I’ll take any excuse to put Steak on bread, and if you can add cheese you are on to a winner in my book, this Philly cheesesteak stew ticks all of the boxes. The original recipe calls for 4 Sourdough bread rolls to be hollowed out,  filled with the stew, topped with the cheese, and then grilled under the broiler. This I think is the superior way to serve these for presentation purposes, but I couldn’t get my hands on the sourdough rolls, so I’ve used a sourdough loaf, which I’ll toast and top with the other components.

I’m not sure if my stew was thinner than the original, but I was left with quite a bit of liquid in the pot. It tasted great, so I strained it and used it as a dipping sauce …. Delicious

Rump Steak
Rump Steak

Philly Cheesesteak Stew

Ingredients – serves 4 

2 pounds/1 Kilo beef top round (I used Rump)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or Sea Salt, plus extra
3/4 teaspoon Cracked black pepper, plus extra
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion, divided
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons canola, vegetable, or other neutral oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 onions, trimmed of both ends, halved, peeled, and cut into thin half moons
8-10 ounces white or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced (*See Notes)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
4 cups beef stock
4 sourdough bread bowls, centers cut out to within 3/4-inch of the bottom and sides and reserved for the crouton
4 slices provolone cheese
(I also added a splash or Worcestershire sauce when I added the beef stock)

Method

Cut the beef round into very thin slices that are about 1/2 an inch by 2 inches. Spread them out on the cutting board, sprinkle with the salt, cracked black pepper,, 3/4 teaspoon of the granulated onion, and 2 of the tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Toss together with your hands to make sure all the beef is evenly coated.

In a large soup pot with a heavy-bottom, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium to medium high heat. Add the butter in and swirl to melt. Immediately scatter half of the beef (**See Notes) over the hot fat. Move it only enough to get more pieces in contact with the bottom of the pan. You’re not going to stir it at this point. Let it cook without disturbing it for 2 minutes. Use a sturdy spoon to stir it and flip the pieces to the best of your ability, cook for 1 more minute, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a heat safe bowl. Add the remaining oil and another tablespoon of butter as before and repeat the browning process with the rest of the beef. Transfer the cooked beef to the bowl and lightly tent with foil. Return the pan to the heat.

There should be a decent amount of fat still in the pan. If there isn’t, add another teaspoon of butter or oil and toss in the onions along with a pinch of salt and a pinch of cracked black pepper. Drop the heat to medium low and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Take care not to crisp or burn the onions. If you find they’re browning too quickly, lower the heat.

Stir in the mushrooms with one more pinch of salt and cook for 6 more minutes. Add in the dried thyme and garlic and stir well. When the garlic is fragrant, sprinkle the flour over the surface of the onions and mushrooms. Stir well. It should become very pasty. Raise the heat to medium and let the mixture cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour the beef broth in all at once, stirring constantly, until it is smooth. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.

Let it boil for 2 minutes before adding in the cooked beef along with any accumulated juices and the remaining granulated onion. Drop the heat to LOW, once again, and simmer until the stew is thick and the beef is tender. Taste the stew and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Set your broiler for HIGH. Place the hollowed out bread bowls on a rimmed baking sheet. Butter the cut side of the caps of bread that you cut out of the bowls and set them next to the bowls on the baking sheet. Ladle the stew into the bowls, lay one slice of provolone cheese on top of each one, and place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in areas. Use a large, flat spatula to transfer the stew filled bowls to individual serving plates and serve each one with its toasted bread cap.

Philly Cheesesteak
Philly Cheesesteak

A food blog from Queenstown New Zealand