Sunday, 30 September 2012

No Mayo spicy coleslaw and hot hot jerk chicken

I had a lovely night last night, good food, good friends, Cuba Libres with fresh mint and the X-factor! It doesn't get much better than that!

By some freak of nature we had a rain free evening (almost unheard of in Manchester) so we made the most of it and got the barbecue out for probably the last time this year to cook some spicy, juicy jerk chicken. I served it with rice and peas, salad and some home made coleslaw. I not usually a fan of coleslaw. Mainly because I really don't like mayo. In my opinion it doesn't taste nice enough to warrant how fattening it is. Not that Im a complete health freak who wont eat anything fattening ever. I love cheese for example (Very fattening but so worth it!). Mayo just tastes to me like added extra grease so I never eat coleslaw but i like the idea of all the crunchy raw veg so i put together a much lighter version and threw in some chilli and coriander to make it a bit more interesting. I bound it together with low fat creme-fraiche instead of mayo and it was a perfect refreshing accompaniment to the fiery jerk chicken.YUM!

Here's what I did:

Low fat spicy coleslaw:


1 carrot
Half a white cabbage
1 white onion
150mls creme-fraiche
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon caster sugar
half teaspoon slat
Half a red chilli (seeds optional)
handful of fresh coriander


Grate the carrot and finely chop the onion and cabbage chilli and coriander.

Mix the creme-fraiche, salt, sugar and lime juice and add to the vegetables and that's it! Done! This makes loads though and we had tonnes left over so if I make it again I will scale down the quantities a bit

Jerk Chicken


Chicken pieces with skin on
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 scotch bonnet chilli
1 red chilli
4cloves garlic
1 inch chunk fresh ginger
handful fresh chives
handful fresh thyme
juice of 1 lime
100ls dark rum


Blend all the marinade ingredients and rub on the chicken and leave for a couple of hours for the flavors to develop. Then cook in the oven or barbecue.

**Be warned though it is REALLY spicy. The scotch bonnet chilli can be left out or de-seeded if you cant handle to much heat. Also its worth mentioning that I would never usually cook chicken with the skin on. This can be made without to cut fat but as it was cooked on the barbecue i felt that keeping the skin on would keep it moist and juicy ad also be a great vehicle for the marinade to stick to. It turned out juicy and moist in the middle and crispy and spicy on the outside so I would recommend keeping it on. 

The rice and peas was made from a Simon Rimmer recipe, check it out here. It was seriously good! To scale down on fat I used low fat coconut milk.

The perfect drink to wash this spicy feast down with was Cuba Libres made with Sailor Jerry's. For a refreshing twist on the classic drink my friend Matt added lots of fresh chopped mint.They were delicious Unfortunately i definitely had too many and I'm feeling less than fresh myself this morning. Its a good job there's a fridge full of delicious left overs to ease my hangover. Yum yum!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

High Fiber Apple Muffins

I've always thought of muffins as being really easy to make but the last few attempts I made at making them have been pretty disastrous and turned out heavy and tough. I think trying to make them wholegrain makes it more difficult for them to rise but even so i still got something pretty wrong. I've been thinking all week that I'm determined to make light and fluffy wholewheat muffins (I know I need to get out more!), and so that's what I set out to do today. I wanted to make some of the giant, light and fluffy muffins that you get in Starbucks that rise so much that they spill over the side of the muffin case. I tried every tip i could find to make them as light as possible and filled the muffin cases nearly to the brim but I still didn't get the muffin top I was after.

However they did still rise quite a bit and the texture was the lightest and fluffiest I've ever been able to achieve in a whole wheat muffin so I thought I'd share how I made them anyway even though I wasn't 100% satisfied and I have definitely not finished on my quest for a healthy, Starbucks style muffin recipe. 


200g Wholewheat self raising flour
50ml sunflower oil
80g golden caster sugar
2 apples
2 medium eggs
120 mls semi skimmed milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon.


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Mix flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder well and then sift into a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then add the milk oil and sugar and beat together.

Grate the apples and add to the wet mixture. Leave the skins on.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients until only just mixed.

Fill muffin cases to the brim and bake for 25mins. This should make 8 muffins

The general consensus seams to be that the trick to getting muffins light and fluffy is to sift the flour and not over-mix the batter. That is why I mixed the dry ingredients and then sifted them to keep as much air in the flour as possible. I also read that a good tip to help them rise is to lightly grease the muffin cases which I did but seeing as they didn't rise that much I don't think that helped.

Health-wise 1 muffin contains around 225 calories. Although they do contain a little bit of caster sugar 80g make 8 muffins so that's 10g per muffin. OK that's still fairly high but compared to a Starbucks apple and cinnamon muffin which contains 28.4g sugar and 430 calories its not looking so bad. My muffins also contain 4.2g of fiber, over a quarter of the recommended daily amount. I leave the skins on the apples when I grate them as they add more fiber and I don't mind the texture. They are a great pre workout snack. In fact I had one today about 30 minutes before I went running and I had loads of energy.
Plus they taste really nice!

If anyone has any tips on how to get muffins to rise better please do let me know.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Skinny Breakfast Sundaes

I'm really getting into this food blogging! Apart from the fact it means I have a record of my recipes (I used to be so bad at writing things down before I started doing this), one of the best things about food blogging is that I've discovered loads of food blogs I'd never come across before and got some great ideas from them.

Here are a few of my favourites. : First off a friend of mine. Antonia probably loves food as much as anyone I know and her passion really comes across in her blog. She's a weight watchers leader so theres a great mixture of healthy ideas and twists on indulgent treats. She has two websites at the moment. The second link includes a restaurant blog with her own reviews of some great Liverpool restaurants. Keep it up Ant, loving your work! : Another friend from Liverpool. Some fab food photography and some gorgeous vegetarian food ideas. Love the blog Kirsty! I've posted a link to this one before but its still one of my favourites. All vegan and all about the desserts. I couldn't get enough of her chocolate chip blondies made with chickpeas. (Sounds weird I know but it really works!) She's given me so many ideas. Amy's blog description reads, "A little healthy, a little sweet, a lot delicious!" I couldn't agree more. She does like healthy alternatives and wholesome ingredients but some of the recipes in her 'Sunday Sweets' section are unapologetically naughty. Her latest post of Kahlua Brownies looks absolutely to die for! This blog is all about food, health and nutrition so its right up my street. There are some gorgeous vegetarian meal ideas and she uses some unusual healthy ingredients. I cant wait to try her Socca flatbreads. I recently made her banana nut granola. It was completely free from refined sugar and absolutely delicious. The sweetness came from the banana but as I have a really sweet tooth I added a generous squeeze of agave nectar.With milk, this granola tasted like crunchy nut clusters but with a fraction of the sugar. I also used this granola in this simple breakfast idea: My skinny breakfast sundaes! A light nutritious breakfast that tastes like a real treat. It would be great for a snack or a dessert as well.

Skinny Breakfast Sundaes:


100mls fat free Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons homemade sugar free jam or fresh fruit.
3 tablespoons homemade granola (recipe above)


Its easy, layer the fruit or jam, and yogurt,top with the crunchy granola and tuck in!

The jam was really easy to make, basically boil some strawberries or other berries with a generous squeeze of agave nectar and a little water just covering the bottom of the pan. Let this boil fairly fast for about 10 minutes until the fruit has started to break down and the liquid has reduced. Chill n the fridge until thickened to a jam-like consistency. It will keep in the fridge for about a week. The agave nectar makes it really sweet without the artificial taste of other sweeteners but keeps the GI low. In case you hadn't realised yet its one of my favourite ingredients and I seem to be putting it in everything at the moment. This tastes better than real jam, with half the calories and more of the real fruit goodness. SWEET!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Low fat Tiramisu

Last weekend I did a lot of cooking, a lot of eating and and no excercise so wasn't feeling too perky sitting at my desk on Monday morning. But what the hell! Sometimes you just need a weekend off right?

I love weekends like that and Sunday is usually my day for pottering about in the kitchen and experimenting. I posted on Facebook a week or so ago that I'd had a brainwave for a low fat tiramisu recipe. Its always been one of my favourite puds but the idea to try and healthify it came from one of Andy's work colleagues. He's been taking my cakes in to work. Partly to be nice (everyone likes the guy who brought cake!) but mainly so that the two of us don't it all ourselves. For me though its always nice to get feedback especially from people who don't know you. (Although they do work with my very nice but very grumpy boyfriend so they could just be being polite!)

Anyway last week, one of Andy's colleagues who left some particulary positive comments on my blog, asked him if I'd ever made a low fat tiramisu. I hadn't every really thought about it if I'm honest. I tend to think that desserts like tiramisu are there to be indulgent and so if your going to worry about calories you probably shouldn't be eating them. My philospohy isn't usually to cut down on calories, as much as it is to get something positive for your body from everything you eat and cut back on the negatives without compromising on the overall enjoyment of what your eating.

However I like a challenge so I scoured the internet for low fat tiramisu recipes to see what was already about. As I suspected they all used things like, low fat soft cheese, creme fraiche, and greek yogurt in some cases! Surely that would just taste sour, like a low-fat- not-as-good-as-a-real-dessert version of a tiramisu! Whats the point! If your going to have something that tastes like a 'healthy dessert' why not just have some fresh fruit and greek yogurt?

Theres no getting around it in my book! A real tiramisu is made with mascarpone and ther should be no compromising there. However when I found a lighter mascarpone cheese from tesco with 30% less fat, my brain suddenly came accross the answer of how to make a lower fat, great tasting tiramisu that doesn't taste like your on a diet but that doesn't require a 10 mile run then next day to burn off a small piece.

You can go on the 10 mile run if you want to though and you will be a better runner than me at the moment if you do!

So here it is:


250g tub Tesco lighter mascarpone cheese
250g tub quark
2 individual pots of Alpro Soya creamy vanilla dessert
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 sponge finger biscuits
300mls freshly brewed espresso
25-50mls brandy (to taste)
1 tablespoon dark agave nectar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder.


Whip the mascarpone, quark, soya desserts and vanilla extract until you get a smooth thick consistancy. Leave in the fridge.

Mix the espresso, brandy and agave in a shllow dish. take half of the sponge fingers and soak each biscuit in the coffee mixture for a few seconds then place them into the bottom of a medium sized serving dish to cover the bottom of the dish.

Take the mascarpone mixture and carefully spread half of the mixture in a layer on top of the soaked biscuits.

Repeat the two layers again and and finish by sifting the cocoa powder gently over the top.

This recipe makes 6 generous servings but you could easily get 8 out of it. It weighs in at 282 calories per 1/6th of the recipe and 6.5g saturated fat. Compare this with a Pizza express serving which has 539 calories/ slice. (These calorie calculations came from myfitnesspal.)

I think its a winner and I swear you couldn't tell it was low fat. The mascarpone made it super creamy and luxurious while the quark and soya desserts bulked out the mascarpone without adding excess saturated fat. The soya dessert did contain sugar but that was the only sugar added. It gave the mixture a lovely vanilla sweetness which cut through the quark stopping it from tasting to cheesy. It also cut down on the amount of dairy in the recipe which is great as I sometimes find really creamy dairy desserts can be difficult to digest.

All in all I was so pleased with it I took it outside and posed for a loving portait with it.... before we got stuck in and it didn't look so pretty.

Really proud of this one and can't wait to make it again! Perfect with a glass of red wine! Enjoy!


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Courgette, roasted red pepper and basil risotto (under 600 calories!)

Last night, for the first time in ages I spent Saturday night in on my own. Andy was out and I couldn't recruit anyone to come and keep me company so there I was home alone. I wasn't looking forward to the prospect but then I decided to use the opportunity of a night by myself to indulge in the things that Andy doesn't like, namely X-Factor and risotto!

First things first lets talk about X-Factor! I didn't watch any of it last year. Andy really doesn't like it and we only had one TV. I could have put my foot down and watched it anyway but then I would have had to put up with the complaining. It didn't seem worth it.

Well sorry Andy but I watched it last night and I'm hooked! OK so I know its super staged and cheesy but its so much fun and I get quite emotional watching it. (nothing to do with the whole bottle of wine I drank of course!) It was the Liverpool auditions last night which was special to me because I lived there for 5 years. I don't think you will find people more passionate than scousers and they didn't disappoint. My favorite by far was Christopher Maloney, the older guy who came to the auditions with his lovely Nan and was massively nervous. I actually cried when he sang because he was so good. I cant help it, I'm an emotional wreck with these things and a sucker for a good sob story. Anyway my Saturday nights are sorted for the next few months now!

So along with my emotional reality TV fix, I made myself something else that Andy wouldn't like but that's always been one of my favorite things to eat- risotto!.

I sometimes order it in a restaurant but not often as it is really carb-heavy and restaurants usually finish it with lots of butter, cream and cheese so they can be really stodgy and fattening. Also because of the high fat content in some risottos, you often get a relatively small potion. I don't do small portions and I wanted a big bowl of silky risotto, with loads of flavour and minimal fat. The perfect comfort food dish for one! It comes in at around 550 calories which may sound like a lot but actually for a complete meal its not bad, also it makes a MASSIVE portion so most people would probably be able to scale it down (or even serve 2 with it) to suit smaller appetites. It does have cheese in it but only 20g and you really don't need any more than that as hard Italian cheese like parmesan or pecorino have such a strong flavour.

Here's how I did it:


75g Arborio rice
100 ml white wine
600ml chicken/vegetable stock
1 Medium sized courgette
1 Red pepper
1/2 Onion
20g Pecorino or any had Italian cheese
1 Large clove of garlic
2 Teaspoons olive oil
Handful fresh basil


Preheat the oven to around 180 degrees C. Chop the red pepper into 1cm pieces and roast in 1 teaspoon of olive oil for 15 minutes.

While the peppers are roasting, fry the onion, garlic and courgette in a saucepan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil for about 3-4 minutes until the volume is reduced and the veg is translucent. 

Add the rice and cook for a further 2 minutes making sure the rice is all fully coated.

Add the wine and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed. Then add the stock a bit at a time, adding more when the liquid has been absorbed and stirring occasionally to stop it sticking to the pan. It should take around 20 minutes until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked but still firm.

Add the roasted peppers at the last minute, stir in the grated pecorino and chopped basil and season to taste.

I saved some of the pecorino and basil to sprinkle over the top to make it look pretty!

I treated myself to a bottle of white wine to go with it. It was on rollback at Asda so I got it for a fiver when it should have been about £7.As I've said before I don't know much about wine especially white wine but I loved it. It was dry but really fruity and light. I finished the whole bottle by myself!

The perfect Saturday night in by myself. Wine, risotto and my choice in TV. I wouldn't want to do it every week but as a one off it was actually really nice.

Today I'm going to go to the gym and then reward my hard work with a low fat tiramisu! See you soon! xxx

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Easy chocolate cake thats good for you!!

No its not too good to be true!

I really have made a yummy, soft, light and really chocolatey cake thats not just 'not too bad for you', but actively good!!!

And the best thing is that people who aren't health food fans wont suspect a thing! It tastes totally indulgent!

OK I'm not saying its calorie free, or that you should eat the whole thing or anything, but if you taste it you wouldn't believe that it was made with whole wheat flour, no sugar and no butter!

To top it off its really simple to make!

What are you waiting for?!?!?

I iced this fatboy cake with lower fat peanut butter frosting which does have sugar in it (although not as much as traditional buttercream and a LOT less saturated fat!). If you wanted a completely sugar free version you could finish it with fresh cream and raspberries or cherries which would make a gorgeous summer dessert. My version has some sugar but about 60% less than a traditional sponge cake with buttercream, not to mention around 60% less saturated fat as well and an extra protein hit from the peanut butter! (I'm just guessing the percentages based on the percentages of fat differences in butter and low fat spread so may not be 100% acurate but they should be about right.)

I've just had a slice after a particularly hard gym session and it ticks all the right boxes,
  • complex carbs
  • protein
  • low sugar
  • delish!

Note: The key to making it sugar free was that I used one of my favourite ingredients, agave nectar, for sweetness. Both honey and agarve are both good natural sweetners however Agave Nectar is low in GI and doesn't make the insulin levels spike which can cause fatigue and cravings for more sugar soon after you've eaten. Its also lower in calories than sugar or even honey. You can get it in most health food shops and even in some supermarkets now. Its awsome on greek yogurt or porridge for breakfast.

Anyway, back to the cake!
Want to know how I made it??

Thought so... here it is:


100g self raising flour
150g whole wheat self raising flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbinate of soda
150mls sunflower oil
100 mls semi skimmed milk
200mls dark Agave Nectar


Grease and line 2 sandwich tins and preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.

Weigh the flour, salt, bicarb and sift the cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and mix well.

In a seperate bowl whisk the eggs, then add the milk, oil and agave and whisk until combined. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, combine and then whisk with and electic whisk for a few minutes.

The mixture will be quite sloppy. Pour it into the two tins and then bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins.

To make the lower fat peanut butter frosting:


150g lurpak lightest spread
2 heaped dessert spoons of peanut butter.
100g icing sugar


Whisk all the ingredients, taste and add more sugar if you like it sweeter and then chill in the fridge for an hour.

Once the cake is completely cooled, ice with the frosting in the middle and on the top. I finished mine with a little grated dark chocolate.

You can get 10 genorous slices out of the cake or upto 14 slimline pieces. the calorie counter I usually use didnt list Agave Nectar so I couldnt work out the exact calories but an educated guess I think the cake alone works aout at around 230 cals/slice, moving upto 300 with the frosting. Compare that to a similar sized slice of chocolate fudge cake and you would usually be looking at around 450 Cals. Then add in all the extra goodness thats packed into this cake and its a no brainer, my cake wins hands down!

I'm really proud of this cake because it came out loads better than I expected and the texture was really light, soft and moist!

I posted a picture of it on facebook last night and my friend Jo has requested I make her one for her birthday next month. I'm going to see her on Friday (cant wait to catch up) so have promised to bring some of this one over with me if any survives that long that is!!! 

Peace (of cake) out! xxx

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Warning! Highly addictive substance! My mums famous marsbar crispie cakes!

Kate Moss once famously said that "Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels."

Well Kate obviously hasn't tried these! They are seriously dangerous!

Now usually I'm all for trying to give recipes a healthy twist, replace a bit of the fat or refined sugar or simply add some extra fibre or protein but with these bad boys, there is no redemption.

My mum used to make these foolproof treats for birthday parties and special occasions when we were kids. I have no idea where she got the original recipe from but i know she didn't make it up so I can't claim the credit for it even on her behalf. I have actually pimped the recipe a little from the way mum used to make it by adding a layer of chocolate topping making it even richer and naughtier. The opposite of what i usually do but what the hell!

I have made these for lots of my friends for birthdays, parties or just if they need a little cheering up and they always go down a storm. They are so easy to make as well and I have been requested by Anna Dunstan and Claire Williams to share this recipe so even though its absolutely not in any way healthy so not really in keeping with this blog, here it is. I reckon it tastes so good that its pure happiness in every piece so thats bound to be good for you anyway. Enjoy ladies!


4 mars bars
4oz salted butter
400g rice crispies
100g milk chocolate


Grease and line a 20cm square dish or cake tin with baking paper.
Chop each of the mars bars into 5 or 6 pieces and dice the butter nto smal chunks. Melt the butter and marsbars together in a pan mixing until smooth and combined.
Measure rice crispies into a large mixing bowl and pour over the mars bar mixture. Combine everything s that the rice crispies are evenly coated and press into the lined tray.
Melt the chocolate over a bowl of boiled water and then spread evenly over the crispie cake.
Leave in the fridge to set for at least an hour then take ut of the fridge for 20 minutes before cutting into squares. Best to store at room temp or in the friedge but take out and leave to warm up a little before eating.

I have yet to find anyone who doesn't love these little bites of naughtiness!

Just dont even think about the calories in this one!