Garlic & Parmesan Cauli Bites

You may have picked up on it by now from some of my previous posts but I am a big fan of Cauliflower as a healthy alternative to many of our beloved Complex and Simple Carbohydrates. It is an extremely versatile vegetable that is packed with goodness and healthy stuff for our lovely tummies to feast on.

You will also know by now if you follow this blog that two of my favourite things in this world are Garlic and Parmesan. So whilst brainstorming for my Spring/Summer recipes, I landed on the idea of making Cauliflower Bites – something crispy and tasty that you can dip into your favourite sauce (I mixed ketchup with Franks Hot Sauce OMG) and snack on while watching some TV at the weekend or whatever. I also think they would make a lovely side dish alternative to the Sunday dinner instead of roast potatoes. I know the roasties are sacred but it’s just an idea 🙂

They were pretty easy to make seeing as I was making it up as I went along and I must say I was delighted with the result. They lasted a few days in the fridge and also reheated well in the microwave. If I were to give any tips, I would say to leave them baking in the oven for as long as possible – you really want to reach the core of the florette and also crisp up the coating as much as possible to maximise the flavours and the overall eating experience.
Any other tips I could offer is just to enjoy making them and of course, eating and sharing them!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 medium-large Cauliflower head
2 Eggs, whisked
¼ cup Plain Flour
1 cup Bread Crumbs of choice
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius.
Chop the Cauliflower head up into small florets and add them to some boiling water in a pot on the hob. Cook until they are just about tender (approx 4-5 minutes).
In a bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and seasoning.
In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs or breadcrumb alternative and grated Parmesan Cheese.
In a third bowl, have your eggs whisked and ready.
When the Cauliflower has been cooked, pat dry and leave to cool for about ten minutes. You can run it under some cold water before drying to speed up the cooling process.
Firstly dip your Cauliflower floret into the bowl of flour and seasoning.
Then dip it into the egg and then onto the cheese and crumb bowl.
Ensure your floret is fully coated.
Place the coated floret on a lined baking tray and continue this process until all the cauliflower has been used up.
Drizzle the florets with olive oil and pop in the oven to bake.
Mine took about 15 minutes and then I let them stay in for another 5 just to crisp up that little bit more.
I mixed some Franks Hot Sauce and Ketchup together and the combination went great.

And there you have it, another simple, cheap and delicious healthy snack to keep you on the right track! Enjoy xXx

Advertisements

5 Small Food Swaps for a Healthier You

So we are well into our New Year now and hopefully still sticking to some of our New Year’s Resolutions that we made a few weeks ago with such enthusiasm and hope. My Resolutions are mostly career and travel focused this year but I am bringing my promise to myself to live balanced and eat healthy with me from last year with the aim of continuing to explore the healthiest ways to cook and eat the widest range of fresh foods I can find.

This post is just to share a little bit of both self-taught wisdom and knowledge learned from my Nutrition and Food Science class. It is a few simple hacks that I swear by to live a little healthier in the easiest ways I can think of. I hope this post inspires you to keep up the good work you are already doing and to enjoy living healthier by making small, simple changes to how and what you eat.

Soft Drinks
I am Diet Coke’s Number 1 Fan, I’ll admit it! But I have taken control of my love for this nasty can of fizz and will usually treat myself to one a week (OK maybe two). But I know people out there who cant go a day without cracking open a can of the fizzy stuff and I have read so many articles on how this can be seriously detrimental to ones health and a huge factor in weight gain for many people. To make a long story short, stay away from soft drinks!
A great swap that I found is infusing fresh fruit like berries or kiwi with Sparkling Water. You will get that familiar, fizzy sensation you’re craving with a subtle hint of fruity flavour. For any Irish readers, I’m also loving the new Ballygowan flavoured Sparkling Water cans if you want to try one of these first – delish!

infused-water

Pasta
Penne, Fusili, Spaghetti – we love them all! I think I speak for most of us when I say there is just something about Pasta that is irresistible and I for one will admit that this is undoubtedly my guilty pleasure, I just love the stuff! But as we also know, too much of the good stuff will give us nice little Pasta Bellys that will simply not go with that Little Black Dress we’ve been dying to wear 😉 So what do we do? Buy a Spiralizer! I know Ive raved about it several times in my posts but trust me when I tell you, it is the best money you will spend on a Healthier You this year!
Spiralized vegetables such as Courgette and Butternut Squash are an excellent swap for Pasta and Spaghetti and will keep you well on track with those New Year Goals. Check out some of my Spiralizer Recipes for some inspiration.

6150jpgkrl-_sx425_

White Rice
Again, another “white food” that we sometimes can’t help ourselves with. Rice is a wonderful accompaniment to so many family favourites but like Pasta, too much will send our healthy eating plans back to 2016. So what to use instead? There are a few different options here.
Quinoa would be my go-to grain, it’s simple and versatile and is very good for you. Other grains like Bulgar Wheat or even Wild Rice are great alternatives too. These ingredients are also cheap to buy and easy to cook so they’re certainly worth trying out.
Another great swap is Cauliflower Rice. You can find some simple instructions on how to make Cauliflower Rice in one of my earlier Posts on how good Cauliflower is for you. I would highly recommend giving this one a go.

img_0705

Sweets and Chocolate
I consider myself very luckily that I was born without a sweet tooth. I rarely crave sweets and chocolate and am more a savoury, cheese and crackers girl myself but I have seen friends and family fight the craving and it is Painful! Like all food, everything in moderation is more than allowed but many a friend has told me that once that packet of sweets or bar of chocolate has been opened, there is no stopping them until it has been obliterated. I’m sure you ave all had your fill of the sweet stuff over the Christmas and maybe even the sight of a sweet tin you will still find repulsive so now would be a good time to make the switch – while you still have the willpower!
Good quality Dark Chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is a good alternative to keep hidden in the door of the fridge for when the craving just gets too much. I always buy the Lindt or Green & Black brand and tuck it away in the fridge case of emergencies.
Another good swap for sweets is Dried Fruit such as Figs, Cranberries or Goji Berries. They will kill the craving and help you stick to your goals with their more natural sugar content. Go easy on them all the same though as too much will lead to a build up of these natural sugars that will turn into stored energy and eventually fat.

dark-chocolate

Minced Beef
Certainly a true Irish staple, minced beef is used for so many delicious dinners – Bolognese, Burgers, Cottage Pie, Lasagne – it can be the main ingredient to some of our favourite meals. Poor quality mince and even some regular mince has a very high fat content and this can of course have adverse effects on our body’s health.
An ideal swap is making the change to Turkey Mince. This is just as versatile and far leaner than its beefy counterpart. Use it just as you would regular mince and you will be feeling leaner in no time. I have some great recipes including my most popular post to date – Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers – for some inspiration.

https://clodaghscountertop.blog/2016/06/11/turkey-quinoa-stuffed-peppers/

Of course, if you’re not up for trying a different meat, Lean Mince products are available. You just may need to seek out a good butchers or well stocked supermarket to get your hands on it.

turkey-burgers

Creamy Spinach & Garlic Chicken

Next up for a fresh and healthy 2017 is this delicious oven bake. With all the usual suspects in the line up – spinach, garlic, parmesan, this chicken wonder will leave you feeling full and satisfied. I have used coconut cream as the healthier alternative to regular cream here and it worked a treat but as always, this is more a guideline than a recipe so feel free to use whatever cream or cream alternative you want.

I loved making this dish as it was super easy to put together. I stormed home tonight after a full on day at work and big gym sesh and almost fell over with exhaustion but knew that dinner had to be cooked and was glad I had planned ahead with this one. I popped the oven on to preheat, prepared the chicken and the cream sauce as per the method below and threw this yummy looking dinner into the oven. Now with 40 minutes to kill, I got myself organised for tomorrow, showered and into my pjs and was back in the kitchen just i time for the oven timer to tweet.

And now I’m sitting here after enjoying this delish dinner telling you guys all about it and encouraging you to add this to your meal plan this week. Cheap and cheerful, this one is defo for the clean and healthy January menu.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1kg (6-8 pieces) bone-in, skin-on Chicken Thighs
2 cups Fresh Spinach
1 can (330 ml) Coconut Cream
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. Shaved Parmesan
1 Tsp. Corn Flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a blender, processor or Nutribullet – whatever you have available – add the coconut cream, spinach, garlic, parmesan and seasoning and blend together until smooth and creamy.
Put the cream sauce to one side.
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add the chicken thighs with the top side facing down.
Sear the thighs until brown and sealed and then turn them over.
Repeat the above step with this side of the thighs.
Once the chicken thighs have been sealed, place them bottom side down in a large oven dish.
Remove any remaining oil from the pan in which you seared the thighs and add the cream sauce (don’t wash the pan as it will be full of rich flavour from the chicken).
On a low heat, gently stir the cream sauce and add the corn flour to thicken.
Once the cream sauce has heat through, pour it over the chicken thighs waiting in the oven dish.
Add a sprinkle of seasoning over the chicken and place the oven dish on the middle shelf of the oven.
Leave the dish to bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
Once thoroughly cooked, remove the dish from the oven.
Using a tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the dish and serve as desired.

Aubergine, Red Pepper & Olive Pasta Sauce

For those of you who have read some of my previous posts, you will know that I am allergic to a zillion different foods and have had to cut out the majority of these from my diet. That unfortunately means that I have slipped into the habit of creating recipes based on the foods I am allowed eat. But have no fear! When creating my plan for 2017 for this little blog, I vowed to try and incorporate some of my forbidden foods into my recipes again so that you don’t have to miss out like I do. Even thinking about what I can’t have anymore is making me pine for them! I actually miss yogurt so much. And eggs…and mushrooms…and tomatoes 

So this little creation sticks mostly to my list of allowed foods but I have also used some tomato puree from concentrate in the recipe so you guys are not deprived. This is a great recipe for a really rich and filling Pasta Sauce using chunky vegetables with intense flavours to create a very indulgent meal without most of the naughty additions.

The key to this sauce is to keep the vegetables whole and not to pulverise them down during the process. You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it either. Whatever you decide to do, decide to make a batch either way – it’s just gorgeous! This sauce is full of flavour and healthy vegetables and will leave you feeling super satisfied. I used Spaghetti as it was all I had in the pantry but I would also recommend Penne as this always goes well with Pasta Sauce. I also added a sprinkle of chilli flakes to the mix as I can hardly have any meal without them these days but this is up to you if you want to add them. The same goes for any other of your favourite seasonings you might want to add.

As always, this meal is cheap to prepare, quick to cook and so comforting to eat so go ahead and give it a try! Thanks for staying tuned xXx

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 medium sized Aubergine AKA Eggplant
2 large Red Peppers
½ cup Black or Green Olives, halved
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. concentrated Tomato Puree
1 cup Vegetable Stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ Tsp. Chilli Flakes (if desired, optional)
2-3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (maybe a little more)
Enough Pasta of your choice to serve

Method

Finely dice the Aubergine and Peppers – about 1cm cubes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and add the crushed garlic.
Stir the garlic until it has browned and then add the diced vegetables to the pot.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil and stir it in to coat the vegetables.
Continue to stir the mix until the vegetables start to soften and cook through.
Add the seasoning and tomato puree and stir through the mixture.
Pour approximately half of the stock into the pot and bring it to the boil.
Once bubbling, reduce the heat to a low-medium temperature and stir the mixture occasionally.
Put the pasta of your choice on to cook as per the packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, continue to stir the sauce mixture every now and then.
About half way through the pasta’s cooking time (approx. 6-7 minutes), blitz the sauce quickly with a hand blender to break up the vegetables and combine the sauce to make it thicker.
*Do not fully blend the sauce as you would if you were making a soup – only blitz for about 30 seconds – you want the sauce to remain chunky.
Return the pot to the heat on a simmer with the lid off to reduce the excess moisture.
Slowly pour in small tipples of the remaining stock, stirring it through and letting it absorb.
You may be left with some excess stock but it’s better to have made a bit extra than not have enough.
By the time you have cooked and strained your pasta, your sauce should be just about ready.
Add the cooked pasta to the pot of sauce and  stir it all through so that the pasta is fully coated.
Serve piping hot.