Friday, 16 January 2009


Since starting the new diet I've been eating all kinds of healthier foods and one of the mainstays of mealtimes for me are whole grains, instead of the usual potatoes or pasta. Whilst grains are better for you they can be a tad unexciting so I've been experimenting a little on different ways to cook them, to make them more interesting. I thought I'd share a couple of things with you.

Cous Cous - though my DH will eat it on occasion my DS likens it to eating sawdust. LOL

Measure out the amount of quick cook cous cous you want and put in a bowl, along with 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a crushed garlic clove. Give it a quick stir before adding the recommended amount of hot fluid (I usually add hot water but you can use vegetable or chicken stock) and leave it to stand as per packet instructions. Stir again, fluffing the grains with the fork - then serve as an accompaniment to fish or meat. Very simple but it does add a little more taste. :0) A sprinkle of ginger, paprika or cinnamon would give it a little added kick too.

Brown Rice - again DH will eat it but DS doesn't like it.

This rice takes much longer to cook than Basmati, so it needs a bit of planning, but the nuttier taste makes it well worth it. Boiled brown rice can be a bit boring so I downloaded a baked rice recipe from the net and adapted it to meet the food restrictions I have to follow. Here's what I came up with:

Ingredients: 1 cup of brown rice; 2 1/2 cups of veg stock (Kallo yeast free cube used, from Health Food Shop); 1 onion, finely chopped; butter, for frying onion; paprika.

Method: fry the onion in the melted butter until just going soft; add the rinsed brown rice and saute until onions start to brown; add stock and bring to boil; add paprika, to taste (or you can use ginger or cinnamon or curry powder - whatever your preference) and stir. Transfer all to a lidded casserole dish then bake in the top of the oven at 350 Degrees or Gas Mark 4 for around 1 to 1 1/2 hours (depends on your oven). Stir a couple of times during cooking - ensures everything stays mixed (rice sinks to the bottom and stays there otherwise). Serve with meat or fish and veg or salad.

I got really inventive the other day and made an eggy stir-fry mix as a filler to tortillas - an easy and quick meal for two before we went to see the Pantomime at our local theatre. I enjoyed it so much I shall be having it again. :0)

Ingredients: a pack of garlic tortillas (get mine from Aldi); a pack of Chinese Style stir fry mix (Tesco - enough in there to fill six tortillas); 3 medium eggs; 2 slices of cooked sandwich ham; milk; butter; black pepper.

Method: tear the slices of ham into smallish pieces. Next break the eggs into a bowl, add milk (to suit your taste), a little black pepper and whisk. In a frying pan melt the butter, then add a third of the stir fry pack to the pan; saute, stirring continually, until everything is warmed through; add half the ham pieces and fry until everything is warmed through thoroughly; pour in half the egg mixture and continue stirring - this isn't an omelette, so the aim is to scramble the eggs and combine them through the veg and ham. Meantime heat two tortillas, which should be sprinkled with a little water first, in the microwave - about 1min 25secs on High in a 650w oven. Share the mix between the two tortillas and wrap. Repeat all steps for the next two tortillas. Eat warm. :0)

There will be a third of a pack of the stir fry veggies left over for another day - or you can add another egg (or two) to the bowl, along with a little more milk, and another slice of ham and make up enough for six tortillas. Or, if you're really hungry, you could just split the pack between two of you and really stuff those tortillas! LOL A variation for those without dietary restrictions: add a little of your favourite cheese, grated, to the pan just before adding the eggs.

Butternut squash was new to me until recently and here's one of my favourite ways of cooking it.

Ingredients: 1/2 of a large butternut squash; 1 red or yellow bell pepper; 1 large red onion; 8 or so small cherry tomatoes (or 4 slightly larger ones, cut in half); around 5 garlic cloves; extra virgin olive oil; dill seeds; ground black pepper. A large, reasonable deep baking sheet or roasting pan.

Method: peel and deseed the butternut squash then dice into about 1cm chunks and spread over the baking sheet. Next top and deseed the pepper, chop into approx 1" pieces and spread over the squash. Prepare the onion and slice it into small wedges and spread that over the mix. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them into 3 or 4 pieces (depends on the size of them) and dot the pieces throughout the veg mix. Wash the cherry tomatoes and pop those on top of the mix and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with the dill seeds, to your preference, and grins a little black pepper over that. Pop into the top of a pre-warmed oven at Gas Mark 6 (sorry, don't know the electric oven settings). It usually take around 25 - 30 minutes to cook through but you can leave it a little longer if you like the veggies a little crispier around the edges. Enjoy!

I shall keep on trying out different recipes and experimenting. Who said a healthy eating regime with dietary restrictions had to be boring? LOL

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