How to make kale taste nice

hmmm kale… not something you hear often right?

I’ve been trying to make vegetables just as nice to me as carbs and sugar are. I’ve had varying levels of success, but I’m determined to make it all work for me. Not one to back down from a challenge, I decided to try and make kale a thing and I think it might have worked! (this time)

You don’t have to use the exact same seasoning ingredients, but what was key in helping to cut the bitterness of the kale in this dish was the addition of lemon juice, so I’d keep that in as a staple.

Be warned – I sometimes cook with a lot of pepper, and my version of this dish has three kinds in it so if you want something milder please adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. Happy cooking!

What you need:

a bag of kale from the supermarket

two red onions, sliced

one shallot, sliced

a small handful seasoning peppers (a sort of mild chilli), chopped

three cloves of garlic, crushed/minced

a handful of fresh coriander, chopped

two teaspoons of turmeric powder

a strong pinch of cayenne pepper powder

a strong pinch of ground black pepper

a small teaspoon of scotch bonnet pepper sauce (or a hot chilli sauce) or alternatively a quarter of a scotch bonnet pepper finely chopped (use gloves)

a strong pinch of general all seasoning powder

a generous sprinkle of dried mixed herbs

lemon juice from half a lemon

Method:

Wash and drain the kale in a colander and set aside.

Pour roughly half a tablespoon of a cooking oil of your choice into a large pot and melt on a medium heat.

Add all the ingredients except for the kale and lemon juice. Stir until the onions and shallot have softened a bit.

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Add kale and cook until stalks have softened slightly – you want to retain some crunch. Drizzle lemon juice all over kale and continually stir around pot over a higher heat for a few minutes. Be sure to watch the colour of the kale. Once it turns bright green it doesn’t have long to go and you don’t want to overcook it so it turns kinda dark and mushy.

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Turn off heat and you’re ready to go.

Until next time,

V

 

 

 

 

When you want to be naughty…

Rotis, bakes, cakes, bread, pasta etc… it’s just life to me you know?

So in my opening blog I mentioned how I had undergone a transformation of sorts – I’d made a decision to make healthier choices with regards to my eating and started a regime of regular workouts. That’s still the case. I haven’t fallen off the wagon. However, I am still very much human, and sometimes that means I need to indulge.

Cue the Caribbean take away.

Yeh. I did it.

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So ok, this was not the healthiest of meals, but it also wasn’t the worst. It’s all about balance. This is a once in a while thing and I’m picky with what I get off the menu and how much of it I eat. I deliberately chose vegetarian options and I tried not to go too carby. Well, sorta.

Callaloo – a leafy green similar to spinach, also known as taro leaves (at least this version of callaloo is taro leaf – in other parts of the Caribbean different leaves are used, but also called callaloo).

Sweetcorn salad – a simple mix of sweetcorn and chopped lettuce with a vinegary dressing.

Channa – curried chickpeas.

Buss up shot – a paratha flatbread that’s been torn up – this is the ‘naughty’ part of the meal. I ate the whole thing. Yes I did. (There was more of it than what you see on the plate and I feel no shame).

So as you can see, most of my choices were relatively healthy and low in fat and carbs. But the buss up shot. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an unnatural obsession with flour. White flour in particular. I don’t know. Rotis, bakes, cakes, bread, pasta etc… it’s just life to me you know? But obviously, since my diagnosis regarding my blood sugar levels about 7 months ago, all that has had to stop. And I miss it so. More than miss. I yearn. With all my being.

For the most part, I’ve actually been quite impressed with my level of discipline, but maybe once a month or once every two months I allow myself the luxury of having something gorgeously floury and full of clarified butter (ghee) – usually in the form of a roti or a paratha or something. I just can’t cut it completely out – and that’s ok.

One thing I’ve learned on this journey is how to recalibrate my relationship with food. Before my relationship with eating was a pretty destructive one. I had no restraint and I didn’t really care.

It’s been a slow but steady process. To use the cliche, my default mode would be to eat my emotions – and that’s just not good. I’m still working on finding other ways to deal that don’t involve eating, because my physical well-being has to be a priority now. I don’t think I’m completely in the place I need to be when it comes to my eating habits and how certain choices make me feel, but I’m in a much better position than where I used to be. So yay for progress.

Now time for another sunlit shot of gorgeousness:

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Until later,

V

 

Vegan food at Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien is very vegan- friendly for a mainstream chain of restaurants…

I’ve had to reconsider the types of places I go to when I want to eat out given my requirements, and sometimes it’s been a struggle, but now that it’s the ‘in’ thing to be more health conscious, it’s becoming more commonplace to see healthier options at restaurants.

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed Le Quotidien springing up in various parts of London – and I’m very happy about that. Initially, in my bad old days I was all about the deliciously sugary pastries, cakes and other baked goods the chain has to offer, but for the health-conscious individual the menu isn’t too shabby at all.

I recently stopped in one after work to do some blogging and I enjoyed the following:

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I had one of the vegan dishes, the chilli sin carne. This is a very wholesome and filling dish, packed with protein and not an animal derived ingredient in sight!

The menu describes it as ‘vegan bean chilli with fresh guacamole, soya sour cream, diced tomatoes and spring onions’. 

The only downside to this sin carne is that there isn’t the barest hint of detectable chilli in it. Unless my taste buds are broken, there’s no heat in this dish whatsoever. I think this would be disappointing for someone looking for a punchy, fiery meal. That being said, it’s still flavoursome and satisfying and very filling. I’d recommend it if you’re feeling particularly hungry but you don’t want what you have at home.

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Organic hummus with olives and some crusty bread

In addition to the chili, I also ordered organic hummus which comes topped with olives and a side of bread. This hummus is unlike any other I’ve tried in that it’s chunky, not smooth and is not too salty like a lot of ready made versions available in stores. It’s delicious and it’s something I order most times when visiting Le Pain Quotidien.

Look out for more reviews in the future of various dishes from Le Pain Quotidien.

Until later,

V

I think chocolate sweetened with stevia tastes better… a review

With this bar, I was in dangerous territory…

The downside to stevia (and which is a common complaint about it) is that it can have a rather interesting aftertaste when added to certain foods. In my opinion, I think different sweeteners suit different foods and with stevia, I also think the amount used affects how much of an aftertaste it has as well. Stevia when used right – can be very good. Especially in chocolate. So far in my search for alternative chocolatey goodness, I haven’t found a stevia-sweetened chocolate bar I haven’t enjoyed yet.

I discovered this brand called erm, ‘Discover’ which offers a range of milk chocolate bars in different flavours that have been sweetened with stevia.

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I was intrigued by the cinnamon flavour (I don’t think I’ve tried cinnamon flavoured chocolate before), and yeah it’s a pretty tasty bar of chocolate. I’ve been trying to exercise restraint with this one because while there’s no added sugar it still has the same amount of fat and dairy in it (which for me isn’t ideal what with my weight loss goals ‘n’all…).

With this bar, I was in dangerous territory.

It was creamy, dissolving into a silky smooth chocolatey butter on my tongue. The flavour was perfectly balanced in the level of sweetness with that hint of peppery cinnamon cutting through it. The intoxicating scent of it filled my head and gave me that serotonin hit I didn’t even know I was looking for. Gorgeousness. Bwah.

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I’m not sure it’s wise for me to purchase this one again.

Until next time,

V

Plamil Expressions – a minty dark chocolate that’s sugar-free…

I had such high hopes for this…

Plamil exp sugar free mint dark choc vegan

I had such high hopes for this. The initial flavour is deep and dark, very chocolatey and delightfully minty. It melts nicely in the mouth and has a beautiful aroma. But the aftertaste 😦 The sweetener in this is xylitol, which I guess doesn’t work well with chocolate.

I’ve tried another chocolate by this brand. It was a ‘milk’ chocolate but made with soy instead of dairy milk as well as being sugar-free. It was horrid. I couldn’t finish it and ended up throwing it away. Which to me is sacrilege. You just don’t throw chocolate away. Perhaps I’ll steer clear of this brand in future.

Plamil choc opened

The search continues.

Until later,

V

de Bron lifestyle candy – a review of poker fruit

Consuming too many of these jellies could create a laxative effect. Lovely.

Being on a constant search for sugar free low carb treats I can enjoy involves an awful lot of Googling. Google is wonderful isn’t it? I mean it really is the fount of all knowledge, especially sellers and makers of sugar free sweets.

Introducing, de Bron lifestyle candy. This is a brand I don’t know too much about, but I discovered it on http://www.sweetswithout.com and more recently I’ve spotted some of their products in Holland & Barrett stores.

Generally speaking, I have a tentative sort of relationship with foods that contain alternative sweeteners to sugar. I try to pick things that contain more ‘natural’ sweeteners like stevia or xylitol and limit my intake of them because I’m not fully persuaded of how ‘good’ these things are for you. But I’ve gotta have my sweets… so I compromise on occasion.

Debron jellies packet

I saw a selection of de Bron candies on the sweetswithout site,  and I thought I’d give the jellies a try. They’re called Poker Fruit, and they’re jelly sweets shaped like playing card symbols like hearts, diamonds, clubs etc.

Sugar free debron jellies poker fruit edited

To begin with I was very sceptical of these. I’ve never tried sugar free jelly sweets before. I wasn’t sure how the texture would be, and I was concerned just how artificial they’d taste because of the sweeteners. The jellies are sweetened with malitol syrup and isomalt. These are actually rather nice! They are squidgy and soft and chewy, but they don’t get stuck in your teeth. The granules dusted on the outside makes a very convincing ‘sugary’ coating, and the flavour is reasonably fruity and not sickly sweet and there’s no unpleasant aftertaste. Result!

One thing to bear in mind, (and I imagine this is because of the sweeteners), the back of the packet warns that consuming too many of these jellies could create a laxative effect. Lovely.

Anyway, if you’re looking for something to satiate that craving for something sweet, but without the effects of real sugar – look no further. Try these.

Until next time…

V

 

 

Perfect World: A review of a dairy free, no sugar added ice cream

it’s definitely recognisable as carrot cake, but I would’ve liked a little more of a peppery oomph from the cinnamon and the nutmeg…

So given my dietary requirements, I’ve had to give up on a lot of sugar-laden and carb-heavy foods in order to get and keep my blood sugar levels under control . It’s a change to my lifestyle that will have to be permanent, which in the beginning made me sad because I love carbs and sugar! But then I thought surely there must be some sweet treats that are still relatively healthy/low in sugar and can be had on the odd occasion when that craving hits. I’ve tried out a number of different treats over the past few months, and I’ll be reviewing them from time to time for you.

In this post, we’ll be looking at ‘a taste of carrot cake’ by Perfect World. This is a dairy free ice-cream made with no added sugar.

Ice cream in tub

I saw it on the Ocado website while doing an online grocery shop and had to give it a try.

You can find more information including the ingredients and nutritional values here: http://www.perfectworldicecream.co.uk/delicious-desserts/carrot

This is a relatively soft ice cream. It takes a few minutes to soften but can be scooped right out of the freezer if you’re not able to wait .. haha

Ice cream in cup

The flavour definitely is reminiscent of a carrot cake. I will say that despite it containing three different sweeteners, this wasn’t an overly sweet/sickly tasting ice cream. The sweetness was quite subtle and not too fake tasting as sweeteners can be. As for the spiced carrot cakey-ness, like I said, it’s definitely recognisable as carrot cake, but I would’ve liked a little more of a peppery oomph from the cinnamon and the nutmeg. There were enough juicy sultanas and crunchy nuts that were well distributed and added a nice variety of textures with each mouthful.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and will definitely re-purchase when I want to have dessert after a meal. If you’ve tried the other flavours by this brand, or any other dairy free/sugar free/low sugar ice-creams and other desserts, please share in the comments.

Until next time 🙂