‘Healthy’ British Fry-Up

A healthy fry-up? Despite the apparent oxymoron for low-carbers this one works pretty well. For me it covers all the areas that a good fry-up requires. It is very satisfying and it is my ultimate savory comfort food – so much so that occasionally we have it for tea (evening meal/dinner). I guess that would almost make it a mixed grill in theory? Either way it is one of my favourites – quick and satisfying, but impressive enough to serve to non-carbing breakfast/brunch guests.

Obviously the quantities depend on how many you are feeding…

Irish sausages (Clonakilty ones are the best, but Richmond are good too)

Rashers of bacon (for a traditional English/Irish breakfast this has to be back bacon)

Chestnut mushrooms (fried in butter)

Tinned Plum Tomatoes

Fresh free range eggs (I like Duck eggs for a treat)

Gallettes (makes 4 large gallettes) – 4 heaped tablespoons of oat bran; 3 tablespoons ground linseed; 1 beaten egg; 2-3 oz grated cheddar cheese; 1-2 tablespoons cream; salt and pepper.

Mix together all the ingredients for the gallettes– you should get quite a solid looking mixture. Fry tablespoon sized dollops of the mixture in some butter or coconut oil – both work well – for about 5 minutes until lightly browned then filp them to brown the other side.

While you wait for the gallettes to brown you can start to grill the bacon. I like it cooked until it’s nice and crispy (this takes about 20 minutes – I use the grill on my combi microwave, but you could easily use a conventional grill). Then put the sausages into a baking tin (use a deep tin if you have one) and bake them in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes – 200°C.

Once the gallettes are lightly browned you can pop them in the oven (on a low shelf) to finish off – give them about 10 minutes so they are completely cooked in the middle. I find these can be kept in the oven until you need them as the cheese just gets crispier, but I wouldn’t leave them more than 20 minutes without turning the heat down!

Tip the tinned plum tomatoes into a saucepan and heat them up.

Quarter the mushrooms and fry in butter and oil – it is essential to combine the butter with some oil to prevent the butter burning – I use rapeseed oil for this (for an even healthier option you can simmer them in a little vegetable stock if you prefer – the result is just as good).

Once all the elements are ready it is time to fry the eggs – I like them flipped (is that ‘over-easy’ in the States?), but cook them however you like them. If you prefer you could poach or scramble them.

With the gallettes at the bottom,  to soak up all those amazing flavours, pile up all those delicious cooked ingredients and tuck in!

Variations/additions: Try adding some slices of black or white pudding; pork chops or pork loin; fillet steak; or if you are feeling adventurous try lambs kidneys.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fajita Chicken

This is a really quick and tasty dish for those evenings where you just want something fast, simple and scrummy.

Fry chicken and bacon in coconut oil until cooked through and then smother with fajita seasoning. While the chicken is cooking, slice some onion and asparagus and fry in a little coconut oil. When the onion is just beginning to brown add a handful of button mushroom for the last few minutes of cooking and season. Use the last few minutes of cooking time to throw together a quick salad of iceberg lettuce, beef tomato, avocado, cucumber, red pepper and jalapeños and you’re ready to go. I like to serve it with a little houmous and some sour cream.

Mega-Omelette

We started ‘meatless Fridays’ to avoid the temptation of the evil Friday night takeaway that had become our mainstay. After a long week teaching, I resent having to cook when I get home on a Friday night and I needed something that was effortless, quick and very tasty as well as being speedy to prepare and cook. This Mega-Omelette is my ultimate fast food and can be prepared and ready to eat in about 10 minutes.

6 large eggs

1 packet asparagus (chopped)

1 medium onion (sliced)

4-5 chestnut mushrooms (sliced)

1 pointy red pepper (sliced)

2-3oz grated cheddar cheese (goat’s cheese also works well)

salt and pepper

1 tsp coconut oil

Serves 2-3

Preheat the grill on the highest setting. Using a frying pan that you can put under the grill safely, fry the onion, asparagus and pepper in the coconut oil. After 2-3 minutes add the mushrooms and fry for another couple of minutes while you beat the eggs. Season the vegetable and pour over the egg mixture. Keep the omelette on a high heat and use a spatula to slowly scrape the setting egg mixture into the middle to aid cooking. When the egg is still runny on top leave the omelette to set (or you’ll end up with scrambled egg – which would be just as tasty!). Once the bottom has started to brown (when the edges of the omelette will be beginning to brown the bottom will be too. Pop the omelette under the grill to finish off cooking the top. Then sprinkling over the grated cheese and allow it melt under the grill for a minute or two.

I like to sprinkle Sumac over the omelette to add an interesting twist and my husband likes to drizzle Balsamic Glaze over his.

This can be eaten on its own or you could serve it with a simple salad.

 

 

Moving forward

So, my fears of plateauing were fairly short lived – let’s just say the past month has been slow progress, but there has been movement. I’m now only 1lb away from my end of month target, which I didn’t think I’d manage to reach. That means that I am only 2lbs from having lost 2 stone (28lbs), admittedly about a stone of that came off in the first few weeks, but I’m pleased with the progress and for those of you who are undergoing a similar progress please don’t rely on the scales – I find that weekly measuring is key to not losing heart when the scales seem to be against you.

I found that when I was ‘stuck’ a few weeks back that I was still losing inches (it might only be 1/4 or 1/2 an inch but that is enough to help keep you motivated) and after a bit of research I discovered that your body can go through adjustment periods when it apparently holds onto water replace the lost fat, which it later expels when it realises it doesn’t need it. I don’t know if this is actually true but the idea really helped me get through those weeks of no movement on the scales. In addition, I found that a little bit of naughtiness can help you get back on the straight and narrow. I had a take away Balti with some rice and a chapati. I really enjoyed eating it, but I didn’t enjoy how I felt afterwards!! Within about an hour I felt sluggish, bloated and tired. I started overheating (this is something that I don’t get so much when I’m low-carbing) despite the weather being decidedly chilly. I decided then that eating carbs just wasn’t worth the awful feeling afterwards.

I’ve managed all this so far without adding exercise to the mix. I know this is something I need to make time for. I did think of giving you a list of excuses – I’m a genius at finding reasons for not doing it, but if I’m being entirely honest – I’m just too lazy. Eventually I will find the motivation and then I will be exercising everyday with a tendency to be just a little bit obsessive, but until then I’ll just stick to the lifestyle change/diet. (I’m trying really hard to see this way of eating as a lifestyle choice rather than a diet!)

It’s difficult to know for sure the full range of benefits healthier living will bring, but I definitely feel more energetic, much less uncomfortable, bloated and tired, and generally happier overall. Whether I reach my target weight by the end of the year will remain to be seen, but as long as I feel more confident, healthier and happier it will be worth the inevitable bumps and falls during the journey!

What about you? How do you keep yourself motivated and moving forward?

Slightly Spicy Cabbage

½ sweetheart cabbage (sliced thinly)

2 shallots (chopped finely)

1 pointed red pepper (sliced)

6 baby plum tomatoes (halved)

2 large field mushrooms (chopped)

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 tbsp. coconut oil

Ground Sumac (a good alternative for this would be ground paprika)

Serves 2-3

  • Brown the shallots in the coconut oil, then add the sliced red pepper and the minced garlic
  • Once the pepper is starting to soften add the plum tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • When the mushrooms are starting to cook add the cabbage and fry off for about 5 minutes or until the cabbage is just starting to turn translucent.
  • Tip into a warmed dish and sprinkle over the ground Sumac (or paprika).
  • You can keep this warm in the oven for 10 -15 minutes until your protein dish is ready if you need to.

I used Bart’s Ground Sumac. It adds a lovely flavour which is slightly spicy and gives a delicious warmness to the dish. It’s a good flavour to try if you fancy experimenting, but you don’t want to try anything too outrageous.

 

 

 

Spicy Chicken and Bacon Bake

2 chicken breasts (cut into bite-size pieces)

4 rashers bacon

2oz grated sharp cheddar (optional)

2 tsps. Bart’s Baharat spice blend (any Moroccan spices or even fajita spices would work well)

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp. Coconut oil

Serves 2-3

Preheat oven to 200°c

  • Brown the chicken and bacon the coconut oil. Add the Baharat spices and the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  • Once browned place in an oven proof dish and sprinkle over the grated cheese.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the chicken is fully cooked.

Serve with salad or Slightly Spice Cabbage.

This is the first time I have tried the Baharat spices, which give an exotic flavour to the dish. If you are unable to buy the spices (I brought it from Waitrose) I have also made it using fajita spices and Moroccan style spices.

 

 

 

 

Burger Stacks

I’ve tried several times to make my own burgers; it has never gone well. All too often they are bland and tasteless; I’m not actually sure quite where I’m going wrong. I suppose with some practice I could master it, but why should I when Costco do it so well for me!

2 burgers per person (I like to use Costco’s Aberdeen Angus Burgers or Minted Lamb Burgers)

3-4 rashers bacon per person

2 slices of cheese (in the Burger Stack in the picture I used stilton, but a nice strong cheddar is great too)

  • Turn the oven on 180°c
  • Start off the burgers by frying them (without oil) until they are starting to brown. Transfer them to a deep baking tray and pop them in the oven while you prepare the salad. I usually give them 15 minutes in a preheated oven.
  • If you like really crispy bacon – dry-fry it (without oil) until it is cooked through and then pop it on a baking tray in the oven on a shelf below the burgers. If you prefer your bacon less crispy you can cook it straight in the oven, just fry it or grill it. I often use the grill feature of my microwave and cook it for 15-20 minutes, which saves a lot of mess!
  • Slice your cheese ready for stacking.
  • Stack the burgers, bacon and cheese and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted. I stack them in this order – burger, bacon, cheese, burger, bacon, cheese.
  • You can of course add a slice or two of beef tomato, or perhaps some fried onions and mushrooms and, of course, you can omit the cheese if you prefer or if you are avoiding dairy. The choice is yours.
  • Serve with a simple salad and enjoy!