Monday, 3 August 2015

600 Calorie Meal 4 - Gnocchi Puttenesca

Whilst shopping in my local Tesco for healthy low cal foods I was delighted to come across one of my favourite pasta's which is low in calories. Gnocchi is a delicate spongy pasta full of flavour so very versatile and very underrated. Tesco happen to do a very good quality *finest fresh Gnocchi, Well worth paying for.
This dish in particular I am pleased with because it was made with left overs from previous dishes, if you can make something for little cost, make something fresh, and tasty its a win win win.

150g Chicken Breast            150 Kcal
200g Fresh Gnocchi             231 Kcal
60 g Fresh Spinach                12 Kcal
22g Puttanesca Sauce            25 Kcal
2 Slices Pepperoni                 60 Kcal
30g Mascarpone                    73 Kcal
40g Chopped Onion              16 Kcal
1/4 Medium red Pepper         18 Kcal
                                             585 Kcal

Slice the Chicken breast in half length ways but not all the way through so it opens up this is called butterflying. Place the 2 slices of pepperoni inside, add 5 whole leaves of spinach and finally 10g or a heaped tea spoon of mascarpone. Fold the breast back so its closed and place on a baking tray pre heated to 200 degrees Celsius and bake for 25 min's.

After 20 Min's rapid boil a pan of water, Add the Gnocchi for 90 seconds and drain straight away, put the pan back on the stove and add the onions, peppers and cook until tender and the onion is slightly translucent, add the pepperoni, the paprika inside will cook out and turn the mix a lovely golden colour, add the remaining spinach roughly chopped, Add the Puttanesca and mix until hot then remove from the heat and stir in the Mascarpone until it turns a beautiful velvety autumnal orange.

Arrange on the plate pouring the sauce last if the sauce is too thick add a little warm water and stir.

A little lengthy in time to prepare and cook but trust me it is well worth it,

600 Calorie Meal 3 - Ribeye Steak

Spending time researching food & calories paid off, I wanted something mid week as a morale boosting treat but not going over 600 calories.

When eating steak the calorie counter tends to be high, this said its about shopping around finding the right cut the right size to suit your needs. My preference on a cut of steak is Rib Eye, I love rib eye but I don't often eat steak out, I am too fussy and particular.

Rib-eye steak, once excess fat has been trimmed, 8.5oz uncooked weight comes in at 330 kcal, with Rib Eye in particular is lean fatty content melts away as it cooks, being cooked on a George Forman or a ribbed frying pan will reduce the fat content and calories further.

With steaks, they tend to be pricey, so cook the steak exactly how you prefer. You should enjoy food you cook, if that's well done than so be it, words of advice, if you are eating steaks cooked further than medium, shop for the right thickness, the length of time the steak cooks the tougher it will be, if you buy or ask your butcher to butterfly the steak you can cook the meat for less time.

Once you have cooked the steak it will benefit the meat to allow it to rest for a few minutes, the juices will absorb back giving a fuller better taste.

8.5oz Rib Eye steak          330 Kcal
7 Cherry Tomato's in half 110 Kcal
90g Florida Salad              90   Kcal
1 Medium Poached Egg    70   Kcal
                                          600 Kcal

As I previously stated cook your steak to your preference just be aware of the timing so you can get the poached egg right.
I have mine Medium Rare which in a high heat takes about 3 min's, once steak is cooked take out of the pan and rest on a plate, add your tomatoes to the cooling pan.
Have a pan of boiling water ready, add a splash of vinegar and stir quickly watching not to burn your self on splash's, when the water is circulating crack the egg and drop in to the water instantly reduce the heat to a simmer.

Assemble the ingredients and enjoy.

Friday, 31 July 2015

600 calorie meal 2 - Tomato & mascarpone with wholemeal Penne

My second 600 calorie meal was made using up ingredients from last night's food, with the exception of the pasta. As I previously mentioned food is not cheap, as a family I couldn't afford to be spending ridiculous money on 1 meal recipes the house hold waste would surge. In a very geeky definitely a true foody way I find it nice and  envigorating to experiment and create a recipe which you can use again and again but something which is nutritious healthy and new. 2 things which excite me when cooking is creating that dish which pleases, whether it's me or a colleague better yet a family member or a customer it's very rewarding to know you have made them feel good if not great with 6 or 7 ingredients. Secondly I love making something my own even if it's a variation of a recipe to make it your own and from scratch is unique.
This dish is a both a variation but also unique the sauce I used just like my puff pastry dish last night the sauce contains tomato basil and the kick of olives and anchovies giving the rough bitty texture but yet elegant salty taste.
This meal is not just tasty and healthy weighing in at 557Kcal it is also speedy. 10 mins top to toe.
90g Wholemeal Penne   215 kcal
3 slices of Pancetta        135 kcal
90g Spinach                     24 kcal
3 slices of Pepperoni        60 kcal
30g Mascarpone               73 kcal
40g Puttanesca sauce        50 kcal
                                        557 kcal
So.....get a small pan on the go with cold water small pinch of salt and rapid boil. Once boiling add the pasta stir occasionally, in a frying pan high heat flash fry the Pancetta until crispy, no additional oil the natural fat in Pancetta will lubricate the pan enough. Place on to kitchen roll to absorb the fat, next add the Pepperoni the oils infused in the meat will aide cooking itself with out any other fats required. Once crispy add to kitchen roll and soak up the fat. Carefully wipe out the frying pan with a piece of kitchen roll and return to a gentle heat. Roughly chop the meats into pieces, add the Mascarpone and the Puttanesca and stir in together they will combine into a beautiful smooth paste. Drain the pasta into a collandar and set aside, add the meats back to the pan and add the spinach, spinach will wilt quickly so work quickly and add the pasta back to the pan and stir/toss together and serve immediately.
Due to the olives added anchovies no additional seasoning required so tuck in.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

600 calorie meal 1 - Mixed Salmon & Pepperoni pizza puff pastry tart

So as I said in a previous post doing this cleanse I had to eat 600 calories meals once a day, after plenty of research into low calorie foods and a little time spent planning here is the first meal.

All these products were sourced at my local Tesco's.


Tesco finest Puttanesca sauce - 2 Dessert spoons 28g 30Kcal
Baby spinach                                                         30g 18Kcal
Reduced fat mature Cheddar                                 15g 40Kcal
Pepperoni                                                         2 slices 35Kcal
Smoked Pancetta slices                                    1 slice  40Kcal
Smoked Salmon slices                                   1/2 slice 27Kcal
2 sliced cherry tomatoes                                               30Kcal
Low fat Mascarpone                                               30g 73Kcal
Lower Fat Puff Pastry                                         90g 300Kcal
                                                                        Total    593Kcal

Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees celicius, my oven is fan assisted if yours is not add 10 degrees.

As you can see I have weighed and portioned everything out, you might find this helps, when using pastry its essential to be at room temperature but not over heated or over worked. The minimal effort the better for pastry, line a cold baking tray (non stick) or use some parchment paper. Score a boarder around the edge of the pastry this will help the edges rise, smear the base with the tomato paste, I chose Puttanesca sauce as it contains olives and anchovies which are full of omega 3 oils and are naturally salty so removes the need to season.
           Next arrange the ingredients in a fashion that suits you, I added cheese first then the meats followed by tomatoes and the mascarpone lastly placed the salmon and the spinach.

Pop this straight into the oven and bake for 11 min's.

Meal for 1 or easily in half for a sharing number with a salad.

This meal is genuinely gorgeous but does require a lot of small ingredients which can only be brought in medium to larger quantities so plan ahead and plan meals around these ingredients to minimise waste. You want to make your money go further.
see the scoring around the edge, for perfect rising do not spill over on to this edge



Forever C9 Cleanse

My partner took part in a "cleanse" which in part cost her £120.00, I have to be honest I didn't really understand fully why or what it was let alone justifying the initial outlay, to say I was sceptical would have been an understatement. However her 9 day cleanse came and went and she lost a significant amount, following the completion she continued and has since lost a stone, gained an amazing amount of confidence and gained enough positivity to change her lifestyle and pick up a few new skills such as cooking.

Seeing the impact this had for her I felt obliged to research and look into the "cleanse" the Aloe Forever C9 cleanse in their own words "can make you look and feel better in just 9 days". Can it or is it written crap? "The programme is designed to help to jump start your journey to a slimmer, healthier you. The effective, easy to follow programme will give you the tools you need to start transforming your body"

The programme is 9 days long, there are of course after programme sales and add ons but no hard sell. Day 1 you measure parts of your body, waist, chest, hips, biceps, calves & thighs. you weigh your self.......easy right, days 1 & 2 your diet consists of the following. Breakfast - 120ml of aloe Vera gel, 2 x forever Garcinia plus softgel tablets and 1 x Forever Therm tablet, and 30 Min's of a low intensity exercise. Mid-morning you get a little treat, a water soluble Forever Fiber packet mixed with water. For Lunch, you repeat breakfast except you have 1 scoop of forever lite ultra protein mix, mixed with 300ml of skimmed milk. Dinner you have 2 more Garcinia softgels and another dose of 120ml aloe gel. before bed 120ml of Aloe gel and a glass of water.

Now, let me tell you honestly about my day 1.........its about discipline and breaking habits, I am a chef I work with food, I taste, test and nibble. I am also a police officer where food can be quite minimal depending on how busy the shift is, when you do eat it can be rushed and normally quite unhealthy such as is fast food. My day 1 I struggled I really struggled, I progressively got hungrier as the day moved on. By the end of the day I felt rubbish, I felt defeated I was an angry guy with no control of my emotions. My partner found this hilarious as she found her day 1 easy. I battled through and went to bed.

This programme cleanses you, it kicks starts your metabolism by means of a good old flush, this so, the amount of water you drink times the tablets it literally explodes your bladder. You will never urinate as much as day 1 of this in your life!

Day 1 I also struggled with the Aloe gel. 120ml x 4 is a lot, you have a 60ml cup so 2 doses each time, not a problem ordinarily how ever the Aloe gel has the texture colour transparency of well, sperm. the smell is one of a very clean hospital ward, disinfectant! the taste is indescribable its one I would never want to experience again, my first shot I gagged swallowed and threw up a chunk.

Day 3 weigh in day, I lost 4lbs in 2 days, I lost 1 inch off my chest, 1.5 inches off my waist, 2 inches off my thighs and a half inch off my calves. 5.5 inches total, not bad for downing a litre of disinfected sperm!!! You continue then on by having the following - breakfast 120ml aloe gel, 1 x scoop of forever lite protein powder and 300ml of skimmed milk, the 3 tablets as before. Mid morning snack of the soluble fiber powder, Lunch the tablets and another shake, Dinner 2 softgels as before plus a 600 calorie meal, followed by a final glass of water.

I am currently on day 5 weigh day tomorrow, I am still struggling a little but mainly with mismanaging food, my first 2 days meals were not researched or planned out I scraped by with a wholemeal pasta  and stuffed peppers on day 3 and an omelette's with a cous cous salad last night. Today was a rest day so I had time to plan meals and do some shopping. with time, a little patience and a good shop its easier to plan properly, research and resource low calorie foods which can make a substantial meal.

So why forever cleanse.........

I am 30 years old, 6ft 15 stone 4 lbs, I am very self conscious of my body weight, shape and size, my weakness is discipline I struggle to keep to diets, I struggle to eat healthily. with no real motivation for the gym or regular exercise I really needed something to educate me. So far I am pleased with the progress and development, I have a better understanding of meal patterns which might sound stupid being a chef for 15 years but through this and nutritional help from my boxing mentor I know now what I have been doing wrong in terms of a structured meal plan and skipping meals.

I am a little excited about my weigh in tomorrow day 6, I am looking forward to completing this next week. The discipline involved goes a long way and instantly can see and feel I will continue forwards after with more control in mind, I wont miss the Aloe gel nor swallowing the horse tranquiliser sized tablets, I will increase my calories after too but will  monitor what and when I eat. I shall be continuing the protein shakes and using them in place of a skipped meal or as a snack.

One thing about this cleanse is the support, its sensational my contact is a lady called Claire Summerton, you purchase the kit, extras and everything you need from her, I was added to a social media group where at first I felt a little apprehensive and I thought it was a little patronising, but the intentions from these supportive strangers were in the best interests. I had 3 or 4 notifications from random's giving me morale support and wishing good luck, I felt like an addict, I thought I was in a circle of strangers and I had to stand up and say hi my name is jeff and I am addicted to food! the reality was after 1 day It was good to vent and talk to these random's who had actually been there or were going trough the process, suddenly my sceptical mind was at ease.

Claire is both supportive and knowledgeable but also considerate and caring, I feel at ease to talk to her even though I have never met her.

I will post a blog at the end of the cleanse and update on the final losses and views but I 100% recommend if you have any doubts, you need a kick start or even a crash diet before a holiday you try this.

Facebook - search Bee Forever Aloe
email -

if I feel brave enough I will post before and after shots too!!
keep and eye out for 600 cal recipes.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

No Bake - Chocolate orange & vanilla Cheesecake

Personally I am not much of a dessert person, I found patisserie very boring very unsatisfying even though "back in the day" I was relatively good at it, I once got a gold certificate in wedding cake making, I cant stand marzipan! I think the biggest reason I don't have much love for desserts is my lack of a sweet tooth, being a complete habitual I do of course like certain sweet items like smarties, bourbons, lindt lindor chocolate etc but desserts cakes they don't really float my boat, I would rather have a savoury item instead.
Cake and all things sweet seem to be in the increase with home baking at the moment, I think its a cross over between the generous pleasure given by a treat such as a cheesecake or a cream cake and the joy brought us by The Great British Bake Off. Supermarkets have dedicated isles for ingredients you wouldn't have found a decade ago.

I looked through some of my recipe books and food magazines alike and there was one general similarity with baking for the mass audience every recipe cost an amount of money which tips over that point of reason, also each recipes highlighted took a length of time to make which was not practical. I don't have all the answers of course I don't but I did make this recipe for 2 reasons, 1 practicality and 2 taste. Making this around a hyper active almost 2 year old was not the easiest of things involving him in the process was tricky. When he is a little older it would be perfect for him to get stuck in make or at least contribute more than the tasting!

to make you require;

  • 1 pack Ginger Nuts
  • 1 pack equal size digestives
  • 1 pack 250g salted butter
  • 3/4 tub soft cheese I used mascarpone
  • 1 tub double cream 600ml
  • 3 dessert spoons of caster sugar
  • 4 drops of vanilla essence
  • 3 bars of cooking chocolate
  • 1/2 a terry's chocolate orange
  • 12 chocolate orange matchmakers
To start we need to create the base a buttery biscuit base! To do this put the biscuits in a blender and blend to a fine crumb. mean while heat up a pan and melt 225g of the butter until melted. Combine the 2, once mixed thoroughly pour in to your cake tin, smooth this mix out with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Put this in the fridge to cool and set.

Whilst this sets, time to make the chocolate orange. boil a pan of water and set a mixing bowl over the top making sure that no water can boil over, essential no water gets into the mix. break up all the chocolate and put in the bowl, leave 4 cubes of chocolate refrigerated. add 10 matchmakers and the terry's chocolate orange segments. Allow this mix to melt but don't overcook, add the 25g of butter and mix in to a velvety rich mix. Take this off the heat and take you base out of the fridge palm down ensure it is cold and press set, when you touch it, it should feel firm and not move. pour your chocolate mix on to the base and smooth this out with a spatula or a bask of a spoon. this needs to be refrigerated asap.

Whipping cream by hand can be quite a pain in the arms literally but speed and consistency add the cream to your bowl and add the sugar, not only does this the sugar give a sweet taste it also binds and helps the cream thicken quicker. whisk until firm fluffy peaks are formed, you can hold the bowl upside down and the cream will sit staring at you not moving. at this stage fold in and  mix the Mascarpone and then the vanilla essence.

Fold the mix in to your set chocolate orange base smooth over and decorate using the chocolate that's left, grate curl flake the chocolate over. Chill for 3 hours.

Serves 16 reasonable portions, its a fun easy recipe which like all recipes I do can be amended to your liking. Enjoy

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Brie, Mushroom & Cherry Tomato Tart

Whilst i love meat and if i am honest i eat meat probably most days of the year, I wanted to do a dish a recipe which was simple tasty and yet accessible for vegetarians which is not just a filler but a wholesome enjoyable dinner for veggies and non veggies alike. This recipe was a slight culinary accident as i planed originally to create a cheats Wellington, Stromboli or Pithivier, however i didn't have enough pastry so i had to improvise and settled for a puff pastry rectangle base, using whats available with out further expense is frugal to say the least but just also shows what can be done with a little imagination.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C or 190 for fan assisted ovens. lightly oil/grease a baking tray and set aside. Pastry is delicate and needs to be treated with a little respect, it doesn't like to be over worked also doesn't like heat, sometimes the temperature in your fingers is too much and can melt the pastry. Leave refrigerated until just before expected use. I used pre-made sheets which for home cooking is perfectly acceptable, they are easily available and are very good quality.

Peel, half and slice 1 medium onion and gently saute, slice 5 chestnut mushrooms and add to the pan on a medium heat allowing the vegetables to sweat but not brown, crush 1 clove of garlic and add to the pan, half 10 cherry tomatoes and to the mix adding a sprinkle of basil (fresher the better) oregano and seasoning. Once all soft take off the heat and allow to cool.

Unroll your pastry and put on to oil baking tray, add a tomato and basil sauce i used old El paso spicy sauce for a fiery kick. Apply evenly then slice the brie into thin strips and place randomly. add your mix to the top and pop in the middle of the oven for 18 to 22 Min's or until the pastry is golden.