Food Friday *cough* Monday: Spinach & Quark Lasagne

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 9 - 2012

Until I started Weight Watchers, I thought Quark was just an old skool page layout program.  Or a particle.  Turns out it’s a cheese that’s approximately half as disgusting as cottage cheese, which makes it pretty edible when you’re looking for lower-fat cheese alternatives.

I’ve been craving pasta like crazy since I’ve been following the weight watchers plan and whilst I can totally still have pasta (perhaps not my favourite mega-bowl of pasta shells and pesto), it just feels like such a damn waste of points.  Have you ever weighed pasta?  It’s surprisingly heavy.  You need to play that pasta at its own sneaky game and get clever.

Instead of spirals, bows and shells – opt for lasagne sheets and cannelloni tubes – you can construct a hefty portion of your favourite pasta dish without feeling short-changed just by making this simple substitution.  On the menu last night was this, Spinach & Quark (just pretend it’s ricotta) Lasagne.

My husband hates fresh Spinach but he tolerates (and secretly enjoys) the frozen stuff.  I don’t understand why, but I figure that it means at least I don’t have to wash the leaves.  Pick your battles.

Serves 2:

5/6 “lumps” (technical term) Frozen Spinach
80g Lasagne Sheets (that’s approximately 4/5 sheets)
250g Quark
2 cloves of garlic
1tsp Smoked Paprika
80g low fat Mature cheese, grated (i’m still loving the Cathedral City one best)
1 tomato, sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste (quark is generally unsalted)

Finely slice the garlic and defrost the spinach in the microwave, retaining any excess water (if you’re stuffing cannelloni tubes with the mixture, drain the water).  Stir in the Quark, Smoked Paprika and garlic until well-combined.  Grab a shallow dish and spoon 1/3 of the spinach mixture on the bottom.  Layer the lasagne sheets ontop and repeat the process. I usually get two layers of pasta and three layers of spinach from the above quantities but your mileage will obviously vary depending on the size of your dish!

Top the final layer of spinach with the sliced tomato and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Cook in a pre-heated (190 degrees celsius) oven for around 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.

We had a red pepper looking a bit wrinkly in the fridge, so I halved it and sprinkled with balsamic vinegar before popping it in the oven alongside the lasange for around 25 minutes.  Serve with a side salad.

9 Weight Watchers Pro Points for a super-cheesy, easy-peasy lasagne.

Do you buy Quark?  What are your favourite recipes with it?


Weight Watchers Friendly Pizza!

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 25 - 2012

Pizza is one of my (many) vices… hot, cold, hot then cold then warmed up again – however I eat it, I love it.  The spicier and more garlicky, the better – jalapenos are a must, I helpfully remind myself that spicy foods raise the metabolism, therefore burning fat more quickly no?  I excel at self-delusion.  When I first joined Weight Watchers, I read the most horrifying piece of information that my eyes had ever digested: one slice of stuffed-crust pizza is 10 points.  That’s a single slice… a single fucking slice, I’m only allowed 26 points a day!  I can hoover up a whole pizza (what, 8 slices?) in the time it takes my husband to work through one slice.

So pizza was off the menu then.  Except it so isn’t.

The pizza you see above scores an incredible 7 points.  That’s 7 points for the entire pizza.  I think we all need to take a moment….

…for those of you who don’t know follow Weight Watchers, we’re talking around 350kcal.

You don’t need to make your own pizza dough and it only requires about 10 minutes in the oven.  Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Warburtons Square-ish Wrap
1 tbsp Tomato Puree (I mix a tsp of garlic puree in too!)
Your choice of 0 point topping (onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomato, jalapenos)
50g “wafer” ham
Dash of Worcester Sauce/Tabasco/Balsamic Vinegar (whichever you prefer)
Sprinkling of Italian herbs
30g Cathedral City Light Mature Cheese (this is the only ‘light’ cheese I’ve found to melt properly)

I keep my wraps in the freezer and just take one out and cook it from frozen.  Spoon the Tomato Puree onto the wrap and spread evenly to the edges.  Top your “pizza base” with the ham, veggie toppings and Italian herbs before sprinkling the cheese over the top.  Finish off with a sprinkling of sauce before cooking it in a pre-heated oven at around 200 degrees celsius for around 10 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and feel ridiculously virtuous about it.

What is your biggest foodie vice and do you have a healthier alternative for it?

Tuna Melt (weight watchers style!)

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 21 - 2012

I usually blog my food posts on a Friday (a.k.a food friday!) but this week has been all over the place and I’m currently in the North East for a fortnight visiting family.  Subsequently, I’m limited with what I can blog – it’s quite alright to stand in my own house taking a billion FOTD / nail pictures / swatches but quite another looking like a crazy in someone else’s house!  Until I can sneak away somewhere where I’m not overlooked, I’m blogging some older photos that are left-over on my hard-drive – bear with me!

Since I’ve been doing Weight Watchers, I’ve amazed myself at how devious I’ve become when it comes to discovering ways to stuff my face (with the most amount of food) for the least amount of points.  I’m not sure that this is truly helpful in the long run (portion control anyone?) But it’s keeping me on the plan day-to-day, so I won’t knock it too much!

My favourite ‘find’ (courtesy of minimins forum) are the Warburton’s Square-ish Wraps…

They make fantastic wraps, pannini alternatives and pizza bases – they’re super versatile, are a little more filling than a normal wrap and “weigh” in at only 4 points a-piece – roughly the equivalent of two slices of bread.  Before I discovered these, I thought pizzas were off the menu for good!  Hallelujah for square-ish wraps!

One of our weekly meals is a Tuna Melt, served up with a big side salad.  It’s obviously not the most complicated meal in the world, but it’s both satisfying and quick to rustle up!

You’ll need:

1 tin of tuna in brine (I only buy tuna steak, chunks are for cats)
2 tbsp light/extra light mayonnaise
1 small onion, finely chopped
30g cheese (I use full-fat version because low-fat doesn’t melt properly)
black pepper

Combine the drained tuna, onions, black pepper, and mayonnaise in a bowl.  Spread the ‘filling’ over half of one of the square-ish wraps before scattering the cheese ontop.  Fold the wrap in half and either place under a hot grill or use a panini press.  I love my press, healthy toasted sandwiches!

Grill/toast until the cheese has melted and serve with a side salad.  I’m a sucker for a splodge of chilli sauce with mine, don’t tell anyone.

The entire meal comes in at a very respectable 10 Pro Points, less if you use low-fat cheese.

What are your favourite filling-but-low-fat meals?

Low Fat Mango Frozen Yoghurt (without an ice-cream maker)

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 24 - 2012

First of all, I want to apologise for another foodie post.  I realise that Lipglossiping isn’t a food blog and that I may be alienating many of you by posting recipes and such but after three years of daily blogging, you have to blog about what is making you passionate or else you’ll burn out.  Currently, I’m rediscovering a love (as opposed to obsession!) for food and trying to hone it into a love for food that won’t put me in an early grave.  Thinking about it, planning it, shopping for it and actually cooking it is taking up a lot of my real world time, so it’s only representative to blog about it too.  So please indulge me, if I keep feeling the desire to do foodie posts, I’ll probably include a separate section on the blog, specifically for this but for now, I’m far too disorganised to sort any of that out.

So, who’s for some Low Fat Mango Frozen Yoghurt?  You with me?

I was treated to some delicious fresh mangoes after moaning on Twitter that I hadn’t had a decent mango since I was last in Australia in 2003.  That’s a long time to go without a good mango.  But the thing is, I don’t really know anything about mangoes – I didn’t even realise that there were so many different varieties and that the stuff we got in UK supermarkets are basically impossible-to-ripen, bland things.  What I should have done is ignore Tesco et al and headed straight to my nearest Asian supermarket/convenience store where some of the best mangoes in the world are currently in season.  There’s a really great article here on why UK supermarket mangoes are pretty sub-standard and detailed information on all the mango varieties in the world (which is an astounding number!)

I made this batch of frozen yoghurt with Kesar mangoes, and the taste is incredible.  To be honest, we actually got through about 5 mangoes just with our hands and a knife before I’d gotten as far as bringing the other ingredients down from the cupboard.

So why frozen yoghurt?  Well, I’ve pretty much done a U-turn on my stance on frozen yoghurt.  I used to think that it was a trendy pud that simply didn’t live up to the greatness of ice-cream.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that I am an ice-cream fiend.  I live for the stuff.  When you hear the ice cream van in the distance, it’s not Leila doing a jig with excitement.  Having said that, ice-cream is rarely good for the waistline – full of sugar and fats, frozen yoghurt is an excellent alternative.  But be aware, there is a great frozen yoghurt swizz, often marketed under an umbrella ‘healthy alternative’ to ice cream stance, a lot of it really isn’t much different in terms of calories, fat and all that other good bad stuff.

So make this instead.

Low Fat, Low Sugar Mango Frozen Yoghurt – 24 Weight Watchers Pro Points for the entire tub (around 2 points a 100g serving)

6 Mangoes (get a good variety!)
200ml Low Fat Coconut Milk
1000g 0% Fat Plain Yoghurt (Greek has the lovely tang – two large pots)
1/2 cup of Splenda (you don’t need much because of the sweetness from the mango)
2tsp Vanilla extract
3tbsp Malibu (vodka works as a tasteless alternative – you use the alcohol to get a softer freeze)

1. Prepare 5 of the mangoes and scoop the flesh into a food processor.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz until smoothly pureed.  You may need to do this in two batches if your food processor is a small one.  Simply divide the ingredients between the two batches, it will all come together at the end anyway!

 

Once blitzed, I don’t mind admitting that I stuck a teaspoon in there to have a taste and check that everything was sweet enough/mango-ey enough for me.  Your mileage may vary… if it does, adjust the recipe to suit your taste-buds at this point.

3. Pour the yoghurt mixture into a freezable carton.  You could use an old ice cream tub or a tupperware container.  I like to use a wide, shallow container which allows me to drag my ice cream scoop over a larger surface area as this will freeze quite hard (I’m going to experiment with adding some glycerin to my next batch in order to get a softer freeze).

4. Pop the container into the freezer and bring it back out every hour or so to stir and break up the ice crystals.  This part is a little tedious and essentially, here you’re doing the job of an ice-cream maker which continually churns the mixture as it freezes.  My timings for getting it out of the freezer usually go: 1.5 hours, 1 hour, 1 hour, 1 hour (leave to freeze solid).  When you’re mixing the partially frozen yoghurt, use a large metal spoon and scrape down the sides, breaking up any chunks and incorporating them back into the mixture.  After the second or third freeze, add chopped up pieces of the remaining mango… if you add them too early, they’ll sink to the bottom!

5. When it’s fully frozen, you’ll need to allow it around 15/20 minutes to defrost enough so that you can serve.  I generally put mine in the microwave (on the fruit defrost setting) for around 10 minutes – if you do this, please keep an eye on it, you’re not trying to cook it!  When you serve, it should still be very hard – but soft enough that you can actually scrape the scoop across the surface!

Guilt-free frozen yoghurt with a beautifully tropical taste.  If you’re on the Weight Watchers plan you can scoff a 100g bowl of this for around 2 points (the shop bought alternatives are around 4/5 points for less!).  Calorie-wise, I worked it out to be around 90kcal for 100g (the majority of the calories come from the fruit), but I’m not a nutritional expert, don’t hold me to it!

Do you like frozen yoghurt?  Ever make it?

Courgette Chocolate Brownies anyone?

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 21 - 2012

In my vain attempts at shedding the remaining 3 1/2 excess stones that are hanging from my bones, I’ve been customising various recipes and generally bastardising them until they’re less likely to (fat) bastardise me.  My latest batch of chocolate brownies packed a concealed weapon of the green variety.  Courgette.  Zucchini… whatever you want to call it.  A veggie commonly used in cakes n’ stuff because of it’s moisture giving properties.

You wouldn’t know it to look at them though huh?

They’re sublimely moist, beautifully chocolatey, could do with a little more sweetening and have a satisying, though-not-very-cakey texture.  Half of you will be grimacing at your screens with an “Ugh, sick!” expression, the other half will be piqued by the possibility of being able to indulge in chocolate brownies whilst wearing a smug look of virtue on your faces.  At least I hope.

Courgette Chocolate Brownies (makes 24-ish, approximately 104kcal each piece, 3 Weight Watchers Pro Points)

2 1/2 large courgettes (pulverised in a food processor)
140g Apple Sauce
200g Caster Sugar (I’d add about 50g Splenda to this next time)
300g Plain Flour
100g Cocoa Powder (I used Tesco’s Fat-Reduced Cocoa Powder)
100g Plain Chocolate (broken into little pieces)
1 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Add the apple sauce to a bowl and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and bicarb.

3. Stiry the dry ingredients into the wet and combine.  The resulting mixture, will be very dry but don’t worry, here comes the courgettes to save the day!

4. Add the courgettes to the mixture, followed by the plain chocolate pieces.

5. Pour the mixture into a greased brownie tin and bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees celsius for around 25-30 minutes.

6. Allow to cool a little before turning out and cutting.  Remember, 6×4 = 24!

What treats are you enjoying this weekend?

Recipe: 7-Spice Pork Fillet with Brown Rice

Posted by Lipglossiping On April - 17 - 2012

When I opened the fridge last Friday, I was greeted by a tired-looking cauliflower and whilst I adore a regular Aloo Gobi, I fancied something a little bit different.  I thought I’d take some of my favourite spices from the delicious middle-eastern makloubeh and make them fit around the ingredients I had to hand.

Because I’m following the Weight Watchers plan (still doing the same uber-veggie thing but calculating it all Pro Points stylee), I couldn’t seriously deep-fry the cauliflower whilst keeping a straight face, so I sprayed the florets with some 1cal cooking oil and roasted them in the oven until they began to turn black on the tips, about 35-40 minutes on full whack.

I fried off some onion (more spray) and added the roasted florets which were still a little firm.  As the oil became absorbed, I added a few Tbsp of water to prevent things from sticking and loosely covered the pan with a lid.  It was time to get the spice mix ready!  Once prepared, tip the spice-mix into the pan and stir well to coat all the ingredients.  Add the brown rice and half a cup of water, re-cover.

You’ll need to check the water levels regularly, so just keep a mugful of water to hand and add more as the rice needs it.  Cook until the rice is al-dente.

Arrange the pork fillet around the edge of the pan and re-cover.  After 6 minutes, turn the pork… and allow to cook covered for around 8 minutes.  If the rice is still too firm, you can simmer on a low heat for a little longer, just add more water as you require.  Remove the lid for the final 3/4 minutes of cooking to allow any excess water to reduce.  Before serving, stir a little room-temperature soured cream into what should be an almost-dry mixture.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 cauliflower, floretted and lightly salted
4/6 pork fillet medallions (you can substitute other cuts/meats – lamb would be delicious)
90g brown rice
1 large onion
60ml soured cream (I used light)
1kcal cooking spray
water

1tsp allspice (not mixed spice!)
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnammon
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground clove

Honestly, I never want to eat cauliflower boiled again.  And incase you’re on WW too – that’s 9 Pro Points.

What lovely things have you been cooking recently?

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