Friday, 23 June 2017

Rach Eats Lunch: So Much Sun


Right, who's had a heatwave this week? *raises hand* And who is struggling to cope with the heat? *also raises hand* I remember saying about the hot weather the other week, and how I felt like I was living in a greenhouse, and how the temperature was twenty seven degrees (celsius, for anyone who doesn't live in the UK!) in the middle of the night. Last night (Sunday, I write up my recipes on a Monday and then tweak them throughout the week when I make them. You can't say I'm not organised!) I looked at the clock and the temperature had hit the heady heights of twenty nine. It was eleven at night. It felt like a swimming pool changing room, all muggy and hot and steamy and yuck. I swear us Brits are not built for hot weather. I absolutely love that we have a north-facing living room that barely gets the sun, though. It's the coolest place to be, and not just because there's a comfy seat with my name on it and barely any weird and wonderful bugs landing on your arms, like there is in the garden. (Does anyone know what the point of flies are, by the way? Or wasps, for that matter...)

In other news, I've been right properly grumpy - it started with crying and buying two emergency Whole Nut bars on Thursday and empty, frustrated rage on Friday, and now I'm clear-skinned, spot-free and I've had a huge stomach ache. But I've eaten a whole lot of cookies over the weekend to try and soothe my symptoms. (I also had a Dairy Milk icecream on Saturday and they're delicious.) As you can imagine, a heatwave plus grumps plus CFS and a lack of sleep equals feeling absolutely rubbish! Also, my fingers have healed up completely after that grating incident, although there's a fabulous scar on my thumb. Yay.

This week's recipes are ready and waiting for any hot weather that comes your way. The cooking is minimal, the oven remains mostly switched off... well, mostly. But they're all extremely delicious, so it's time to dig in.


Chilled Tomato Soup and Salad

SW Slimming World friendly gazpacho soup

Today's soup is being served chilled. Yep, you heard me. Chilled. Cold. Frozen. (Not quite frozen, but close enough) On days like today, where the weather is set to remain stunningly hot and the fan's running really fast, the idea of putting the oven on is basically my idea of hell. Who wants to add more heat to a heatwave? The best part about this recipe is that it's so incredibly easy. I even surprised myself making this yesterday - it took about fifteen minutes, maximum, and I had all the ingredients in the cupboard and the fridge. You will need to make this ahead so that the soup can chill out a bit, the colder the better I say! Also, make sure you've got some ice cubes on hand. You'll see why in a moment.

In a big mixing bowl add a handful of chopped red, yellow and green peppers. Tear up one slice of wholemeal bread and add to the bowl. Pour over one 400g tin of chopped tomatoes with garlic and herbs, and blend everything with a stick blender until smooth. Put the mixture into a sealable container and leave it in the fridge, preferably overnight. Before eating, make up a separate salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, olives and ham on a plate. When it comes to serving, put the soup into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Gently drop in two ice cubes with a teaspoon, and eat straight away.

Bonus recipe!

Minty Iced Tea

SW Slimming World friendly diet mint iced tea

Because it's summer... because we all need to cool down... here's a cheeky drink recipe that's both caffeine free and diet friendly. Honestly, it's delicious, sweet and cooling and you should make it immediately.

Put a bottle of diet cloudy lemonade in the fridge. Add one peppermint teabag per person plus one for the pot (keeping it English, y'all) to a measuring jug. Next, add 200ml of boiling water. Allow the teabags to steep for five minutes, remove and let the water cool down completely. When you're ready, pour the lemonade to the top of the jug. In a glass, add several ice cubes and pour the iced tea over it. Add a straw and enjoy immediately. Yum!


Pizza Frittata

Slimming World friendly SW ham olive and cheese pizza omelette

My absolute fave pizza is from the local takeaway in town, and it has a buy one get one free offer every day of the week. We only ever do pizza during powercuts though, and we've had quite a few of them on our street in the last two years, plus intensive roadworks. That said, you don't need to worry about my waistline or my bank account just yet! My favourite topping has to be chicken, peppers, tomato and onion. It's really succulent and flavoursome and I could just eat that soft, squidgy pizza base every single day. Anyways, this is based on my previous success of a recipe from two weeks ago (the pesto, ham and pea frittata) except this time it mimics a pizza, and there's not any dough in sight. It's also packed full of protein too, thanks to the egg. It's another great make-ahead recipe, because like pretty much all pizza, this can be eaten cold too. However, you'll want to enjoy it within twenty four hours. It is very tasty after all. It also falls apart extremely easily too, so be careful when transferring it to the plate!

Line a round cake tin with baking paper. Beat together two eggs and add plenty of salt and pepper to it. Pour the egg mixture into the cake tin and add a bit of unsweetened soya milk to bulk out the mixture. Stir it gently with a fork to incorporate the egg, and then bake for about twenty five minutes at 180℃ until the top is pretty much set and the whole thing doesn't wobble. When you're ready, spread over a tablespoon of tomato sauce and then layer on 30g of grated cheddar cheese, a handful of chopped black olives and ripped up ham, then return it to the oven for another five to ten minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Make a salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato while you wait. Remove from the tin, slice it up and serve. Eat it straight away and pretend it's the real thing.


Sausage Pancake Wraps

SW Slimming World friendly oat pancake sausage pancake rolls

SW Slimming World friendly oat pancake sausage pancake rolls

I've got a weird habit for cooking unconventional things in the microwave. I guess it started with that chocolate mug cake recipe that went viral a few years ago. In the process, loads of other recipes popped up. Chocolate chip cookie dough pots was one, chocolate fudge brownie was another. You can even make a pizza in the microwave! And pasta (but that went horribly wrong when I tried it, remember?) - one of my best discoveries was being able to make American-style pancakes in the microwave. It works! It actually works! I love pancakes, but am trying to step away from processed flour products to aid with my weight loss. That said, I still enjoy eating toast or crumpets for breakfast at the weekend. I believe in treating yo'self. And besides, you really shouldn't feel guilty about what you're eating or what you're not eating. Food is to be enjoyed, not calorie counted. I've decided to make an oat-based flour for today's savoury pancakes - all you need is a blender, whether it's jug or stick. There are no eggs in this recipe (score!), it can be made completely dairy-free, and it's cheesy. I've served it with sausages and microwave vegetables (what else?) to make it really filling. And yes, you can make the pancakes in the microwave! I tried rolling these into wraps, they fell apart fairly easily, so you might want to make a small stack of pancakes and serve it on the side instead.

Measure 90g porridge oats into a blender and grind it right down into a fine, floury powder. Pour into a mixing bowl and add 120ml unsweetened soya milk to the mixture. Again, mix it really well and season with a small amount of salt and pepper. You don't need to let this mixture rest like regular pancakes as it will soak up all the liquid! At lunchtime, arrange two low fat or vegetarian sausages on a baking tray and pop in the oven at 180℃ for twenty five minutes. Right before cooking time is up, find one flat toast plate and grease it with olive oil or low fat cooking spray. Add a small scoop of pancake mixture, and cook in the microwave on full for thirty seconds. It will be spongy, but don't be too tempted to flip it and cook for another thirty seconds or it will turn hard. Ask me how I know. Transfer to another plate using a fish slice and cover with a big mixing bowl to hold the heat in. Continue cooking the pancakes, greasing the plate between use, and transferring the pancakes to the next plate until the mixture is completely used up. You should end up with about two to three large pancakes. Next, microwave a bag of microwaveable mixed veggies. Add one sausage to the middle of each pancake, add a sprinkle of grated cheese (about 10g) if desired and gently roll the pancake around it. Finally, add the veggies to the plate and eat immediately!


Egg-Free Cous Cous Burger

Slimming World SW friendly dairy free egg free simple cous cous burger

This sounds really odd, but cous cous as a burger? I didn't believe it was actually possible myself, but here we are. Also, everyone on the internet seems to suggest you should both fry the burger and use egg, but I am doing none of these things. Not everyone likes fried food or can eat egg. Yet egg is the most popular way of binding together ingredients - it's like the food equivalent of superglue! In cakes, you can use golden syrup as an egg replacement, but it's definitely not suitable for savoury recipes (eek, that would be a bit gross!) - I've decided to use sweet potato as my binding ingredient, which works! It's a miracle! It made forming the burgers super easy. The most important step to getting the burgers to bind is by clingfilming the bowl so that the moisture stays in. It's also being served with a healthy salad to keep things light. This recipe is absolutely perfect for Meat Free Mondays, for people who are dairy and egg free, and for vegetarian friends! It makes either two huge burgers or four small ones. It tastes really yummy too - sweet and savoury with a crunchy outer texture.

Boil up a large handful (150g) of cubed sweet potato for about ten to fifteen minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. Drain and mash the sweet potato, then make up a packet of cous cous as per the packet instructions, adding two tablespoons of light soya sauce to the mixture. Then, fluff the cous cous with a fork and add the sweet potato. Beat both ingredients together, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Next, and this is crucial: cling film the bowl and allow the cous cous to cool completely at room temperature (it takes about an hour.) Next, using a spoon and your hands, form two large patties and arrange on a baking tray. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking. Bake in the oven at 180℃, turning once, for about twenty five minutes until completely golden brown and piping hot inside. While the food is cooking, make up a salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato on a plate. Add a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese to the top of each burger and return to the oven until the cheese melts. Serve the burgers immediately in a bun, adding a splodge of tomato sauce if you fancy it!

As a serving suggestion, you could possibly wrap the burgers around a lettuce leaf as a bread-free bun, and serve with sweet potato chips or homemade wedges. Mmm, nice!


Rainbow Chicken Noodles

SW friendly Slimming World friendly easy rainbow chicken noodles

So, speaking of kitchen trends... who bought a spiralizer, and who still uses it? I acquired one, it's a bit like a giant pencil sharpener. I remember trying courgetti last year and not being too convinced by it, it gave me a funny tummy! When you're used to the carb bloat you get from pasta, having this empty feeling afterwards is really weird. Plus, I felt like I had a bit of indigestion. Anyways, there are veggie noodles in this recipe, and real ones too. You know how they say we should eat the rainbow? This is a pretty good crack at it. I always struggle when it comes to finding blue and purple in fruit and vegetable format though. Blueberries. Purple potatoes. Hmm. I've only made it as far as green on the ROYGBIV front, and I'm not too mad. In fact, it's pretty tasty. There's a pleasing sweetness and crunch from the veggies and it all feels mega healthy and summery. Speaking of summer... where did the sunshine go, anyway? (Weather forecasts, eh?)

Put in a piece of chicken breast in the oven at 180℃ for thirty minutes. In the last five minutes of cooking time, spiralize (or grate with a vegetable peeler into fine strips) one small carrot and a two inch chunk of cucumber. Slice up a small handful of yellow, red and green peppers. In a bowl, break up a packet of instant noodles. Discard the sauce sachet and measure out the boiled water as per the packet instructions. Add a non-MSG vegetable stock cube and two tablespoons of light soy sauce, whisking into the water with a fork. Add the boiled water to the noodles, as well as the carrot, cucumber and peppers. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions. It may take longer because of the veggies, if so keep cooking the noodles in thirty second bursts until the liquid is completely absorbed. Once the chicken is out of the oven, slice it into strips and add to the top of the cooked noodles. Enjoy!

Another very hot week down - how was it for you? Let me know if you try any of my lunches in the comments below or on the hashtag #RachEatsLunch - have a lovely week!

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