Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thai salad parcels

It must be at least 20 years since I first discovered Thai salad parcels at Wang Thai. Our family quickly made up their own version of the dish and have been making it with relish ever since. About two weeks ago for date night I rustled this one up for Adam and I. 

I bought three heads of iceberg lettuce and stripped the outer leaves away leaving just the smaller bowl shaped tender and crispy inner leaves. I keep the large outer leaves to use in a regular salad, but the inner leaves make the perfect 'bowl' to gather the filling and sauce in. 

The fillings in this case were - salted peanuts, toasted coconut, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, chopped fresh chilli, chopped lemon peel and chopped lemon segments. The sauce was a combination of soya sauce and honey (I don't like it too sweet, so only a dash of honey for me). I would usually add a little fish sauce too, but Adam doesn't eat fish so I left that out. 

The combination of flavours is so refreshing and exhilarating. It makes for a perfect light meal or starter, leaving your senses peeked and your tummy satisfied. If you think it looks weird, trust me - I have never served this to anyone who hasn't been wowed by it. You get to choose what and how much of anything to put into your salad wrapper so each person can tailor-make it suit their taste. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sensible satisfying snacks

I love to snack. I need to snack. I'm not a carrots or apple kind of snacker either, so now that I am trying to be all low-fat, low-carb its making it pretty hard to find satisfying snacks. 

These two have really hit the spot though. The first one is fat free cottage cheese mixed up with my spicy seed mix, scooped up with crunchy veggie sticks. Totally addictive and you don't feel like your compromising at all. 

The second is for my sweet tooth moments; which is fat-free yogurt with vanilla and almond essence, ground almonds and my artificial sweetening of choice. I sometimes even grate in some candarel chocolate to give it a chocolaty boost, but try not to do this too often.

Both are perfect to have pre-made in the fridge, so that when the snack attack comes around, it's an easy fix rather than chips or biscuits. 

One doesn't really need a recipe for these since they are so nice to mix and match and improvise with; and can be made to suit your needs best. But if you need a guide line to get started, or a plan to get your housekeeper to make them and leave them in the fridge for you, here goes:

Cottage cheese dips with veggie sticks

½ cup of mixed seeds
½ tsp of sesame oil
¼ tsp of salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp of cumin
¼ tsp of garam marsala
¼ tsp of turmeric
A pinch of smoked paprika
A pinch of chilli powder
250g tub of fat free chunky cottage cheese 
Extra salt to taste
Cucumber, carrots and peppers

In small pan on medium heat start to fry the seeds with sesame oil and spices until the seeds start to roast and make popping sounds.

Once the seeds have cooled combine them in a larger tupperware with the cottage cheese and extra salt to taste.

Cut up the veggies into sticks about 5 – 8 cm long and about 2 cm wide. Keeping them wide makes it easier to scoop up the crumbly cottage cheese. Store in a tupperware in the fridge.

Vanilla almond yogurt

2 cups of fat free plain yogurt
½ cup of ground almonds
½ tsp of vanilla essence
¼ tsp of almond essence (or less if you’re not crazy about the taste of marzipan)
Sweetener of choice (I like to use my home made xylitol stevia blend)

Combine all of the above. Add as much sweetness as you like. Store in a sealed Tupperware in the fridge.

I sometimes add grated candarel chocolate which adds that extra bit of almost guilt free decadence. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cauliflower wraps with cheesy bean mash and salad

I'm on a health kick and will be till I shed these 4kgs which sneaked up on me. I like eating too much to restrict myself to small portions of boring bland food. So I have been trying really hard to get as creative as possible around low-carb, high-protein, high raw-veg food and yesterday I totally nailed it. 

I read about these cauliflower wraps on Roost, a favourite blog of mine, months ago and only got round to trying them yesterday. I followed the recipe for the wraps exactly but I added a few drops of sesame oil (because I love the roasted flavour it adds) and some a black pepper. I was doubtful about how they would turn out as the batter was so runny; but they set perfectly. I added some colour by grilling them on high heat for a few minutes at the end. The resulting wraps are still quite tender and you need to eat them carefully to avoid tearing. They taste delicious and have an unusual but appealing texture. 

You can use these to add any of your favourite fillings to. I added a filling of a cheesy bean mash, salad veggies and leaves and drizzled them with yogurt. The wraps are baked, the cheese in my bean mash was fat reduced and the yogurt was fat free but the wraps were bursting with flavour and had a richness which belied their low fat nature. 

Cauliflower wraps with bean mash and salad
Makes 4 wraps

For the wraps
3 cups of cauliflower, pulsed in a blender till it forms a rice like consistency
1 large egg
4 large egg whites
½ tsp of salt
¼ tsp of sesame oil
¼ tsp of black pepper, freshly ground

Pre heat the oven to 200°C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Boil the cauliflower rice for a few minutes until just cooked. Drain it in a sieve and allow it cool a little. With a spatula press the cauliflower to the sides of sieve to release more water. Alternativly place the cook cauliflower in a kitchen towel and squeeze the excess water out.

Combine the cauliflower with the remaining ingredients. With a soup ladle spoon the mixture into four piles, on the two baking sheets. Two wraps per baking sheet. With the back of the spoon spread the mixture out into large flat circles.

Bake the wraps for 10 – 15 minutes until set. Grill for a few minutes until the top wraps start to turn golden. Remove that sheet and grill the second sheet of wraps until golden. Allow the wraps to cool before peeling them off the baking paper.

For the cheesy bean mash
2 cups of cooked beans of choice, drained and well rinsed
½ a cup of water (more if needed)
4 Tbsp of red pesto (I used pesto princess)
1 tsp of chilli sauce, use your favourite
½ tsp of cumin
½ tsp of smoked paprika
½ cup of fat reduced feta, crumbled
½ cup of fat reduced mozzarella, grated
Salt to taste

In small pot or sauce pan heat up the beans and water and mash with a potato masher until it forms a rough paste. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir on medium heat until the cheese has just melted.  

For the salad filling
1 cup of mini tomatoes, halved
¼ cucumber, cut into sticks
½ a pepper, cut into sticks
1 handful of baby salad leaves
Fat free yogurt, to drizzle

Arrange the wraps on large plates and fill with bean mash, salad veggies and drizzle with the yogurt, like in the picture. With clean hands fold over the sides of the wrap and eat. Have plenty of napkins available for your hands!