This Week I’m…

It’s all about me, folks!

Is anyone’s week of that much interest to anyone else? Blogging demands a certain conceit – that yes, your activities and opinions are either interesting or useful to others*. I’m HUGELY entertaining, but only really to myself. Sometimes, my mum and husband laugh along too, if they are feeling kind.

Nevertheless, I experimented with this blog form elsewhere and decided to run with it on the Diabetes Diet. So, this week I’m…

Trying out new recipes. Like most folk, I’ve been stuck in the same ol’ recipe rut for a while. Prawn cocktail Monday, seabass with avocado Tuesday, sausages at some point. (Well, they are so flippin’ good.) I decided to try out lots of new recipes recently, and I’ve enjoyed the process.

Some of them worked wonderfully – steaming seabass and dressing it with ginger, soy sauce, sliced chillies and sesame oil gave me something new to do with fish. And the crust-less pizza was fun too. I tried Good Food magazine’s budget-friendly pot roast recipe, using silverside of beef, carrots, celery and stock, which would have been good if I hadn’t overcooked it.

It was as tough as old boots. My jaw still aches remembering the workout it got. Still, the gravy and the veg that came with it was MARVELLOUS!

Re-discovering running. I started running 13 years ago, did it regularly, entered a lot of 10k runs and even a half-marathon, and then lost the love. It was hard, it needed a massive amount of willpower to make myself get out there and do it, and it was dull, dull, dull. Seriously, there are good reasons why runners look so miserable. Then, four weeks ago, I decided to go for a run anyway.

Just to see if I still could.

And I could! Two days later, I thought I’d try again. I still could! And here I am, four weeks later going for a run every two days, and LOOKING FORWARD TO IT.

What’s different this time? I run so slowly, your granny could probably overtake me. If you take it super-slow, you don’t get that nasty struggling with the breathing thing. Or the lead-like calves. And I listen to a podcast while I do it. Anything comedic is a good bet, though you try listening to Radio 4’s News Quiz as they tear into our politicians and Donald Trump, and run at the same time. Laughing like a loon and heavy breathing is HARD.

Adjusting to the dark nights. For those of you outside of Scotland, by the start of November, it’s dark by 5pm (and it’s only going to get worse). You can do worthy things, such as making sure you do get some daylight at lunchtime if possible. On the other hand, it’s a great excuse to park your a**e on the sofa and binge-watch your way through Stranger Things 2.Image result for stranger things 2

 

*The stats for any blog serve as a great reality check, should you ever find yourself under the illusion that your opinions/activities ARE fascinating to anyone else…

What to Eat in October

We’re still working our way through home-grown courgettes (!!), tomatoes and carrots, but what else is seasonal at this time of year?

At the Diabetes Diet, we try our best to eat seasonally (it’s not always easy in Scotland), as seasonal food locally grown and produced tastes the BEST. It also helps you do your bit for the environment, by cutting down on food miles (the distance food travels to reach your plate) and it benefits your local economy. Wouldn’t you prefer to put money directly in a farmer’s pocket, than add to the vastly-inflated profits of a supermarket?

Anyway, October brings many of the benefits September does. While many fruits and vegetables are now gone for the year, there are plenty of delicious other options.

MEAT

  • Pheasant
  • Lamb
  • Partridge

FISH

  • Mussels
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters

VEGETABLES

  • Wild mushrooms (if you’re going to pick these, please make sure you know what you’re doing!)
  • Root vegetables, such as celeriac and carrots
  • Kale
  • Beetroot
  • Cabbage
  • Fennel

FRUIT

  • Apples
  • Damsons

Looking for some ideas for what to do with your seasonal ingredients? Puzzled about how you can make them low-carb so they fit with the way you eat? We have some suggestions for you…

Make gluten-free gravy using carrots and onions, and serve with pork and chicken.

Our carrot and almond soup recipe is an established family favourite. If you want to make it a main course, add some boiled eggs or poached chicken for added protein (and satiety). Or make yourself a delicious salad with the recipe for a Carrot and Dill version.

Love lamb? Our low-carb, gluten-free moussaka makes the most of lamb mince (making it more affordable too). Try this African stew, also.

Jovina Cooks Italian has inspired us hugely, and this Brindisi Fish Soup uses mussels and is packed with flavour. It also uses aubergines, which are seasonal in October too.

Hate cabbage? Add bacon, cheese and sour cream, and you can make anything palatable to even avowed cabbage loathers. Try this Cabbage Casserole recipe and convince the brassica haters it’s true.

Celeriac has a very distinctive taste. Make the most of it in this braised celeriac recipe. You can use it as a replacement for potatoes to accompany your roast dinner. We also have a yummy recipe for soup.

Courgette, Feta and Mint Soup

Heaven only knows what my husband fed those courgette plants this year, but the monsters keep on coming…

To this end, I have needed to come up with a LOT of courgette recipes. I don’t really fancy them spiralised (which is the trendy treatment de jour), so this week I made soup instead.

It’s a very summery soup – courgettes, feta and mint – and you could always make it more substantial with some shredded chicken, or a poached egg on top. Another idea is bacon ‘croutons’. Cut a rasher of bacon into small pieces, fry in a little butter until crispy and use to top the soup.

Courgette, Feta and Mint Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4-5 courgettes (or one ginormous one)
  • 2tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 75g feta cheese
  • 60ml sour cream
  • Salt and pepper

Chop your courgettes into even-sized chunks. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan and add the courgettes. Cook over a gentle heat for about 20 minutes until they are browned and softened.

Add the stock and the garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook for another ten minutes. Turn off the heat and add the mint, feta and cream. Stir well, so that the cheese melts.

Puree the soup till it’s smooth and season generously with salt and pepper.

15g net carbs per serving.

 

 

Spanish-Style Stuffed Marrow

We’ve had a glut of courgettes – we got so many of the blimmin’ things they turned into marrows as we couldn’t eat them fast enough.

So, what to do with them? This massive whopper pictured above I turned into a Spanish-style stuffed marrow dish, adapting it slightly from a recipe I found online to make it low-carb. Another trick is to salt the marrows for an hour or so before cooking. This will make the finished product less watery. Slice the marrow in half length ways and then width ways, scoop out the insides and sprinkle with salt. Place them on a rack, flesh side down and then wipe thoroughly with kitchen paper before using.

Spanish Style Stuffed Marrows

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 large marrow

  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 150g cooking chorizo, chopped
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100g Manchego cheese, grated (or use Parmesan)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onions. Cook over a gentle heat until soft and lightly browned – this won’t take as long as cooking normal onions.

Add the chorizo and cook until the fat begins to run – about a minute. Add the tomatoes, garlic, paprika, oregano and Cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes. You want a nice, thick sauce. Season to taste – you won’t need much salt because of the chorizo, cheese and the marrow already has some salt in it, thanks to the pre-salting.

Place the marrows in a large oven-proof dish, cut side up. Fill them with the tomato/chorizo mixture and top with the cheese and a good grounding of black pepper. Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Take the foil off and cook for another ten minutes to brown the top.

About 12g net carbs per serving.

 

Aubergine Parmigiana – Low-Carb Sides

Purple foods are good for us. According to the US Department of Agriculture, purple foods have nutrients called anthocyanins. These are antioxidants that protect against cell damage from free radicals.

I’m a big fan of the mighty aubergine. Curry it, roast it, grill it or turn it into ratatouille, this is a vegetable with a lot of uses.

I make my own version of Aubergine Parmigiana, that famous Italian dish. Buy the best quality mozzarella you can find, and top the dish lavishly with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve this as a side dish with roasted chicken. Or just cut yourself a ginormous portion and eat with salad.

Aubergine Parmigiana

  • Servings: 4 as a side dish
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 large aubergine, sliced
  • 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 2tbsp oil
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 50g grated Parmesan*
  • Salt and pepper

Turn your oven to 175 degrees C. Slice the aubergine into half-centimetre thick slices. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the oil and cook in the oven for about twenty minutes. You want the slices softened and lightly browned. Leave the oven on once the slices have cooked as you will be using it again.

While the aubergine is cooking, heat the other tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and cook the sliced onion for five minutes until softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes, garlic and dried oregano. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and leave for fifteen minutes. You want a thick, concentrated sauce.

When the sauce and the aubergine are cooked, rip the mozzarella ball into pieces. Layer up slices of aubergine, tomato sauce and mozzarella in a casserole dish. Grind on some salt and top with the grated Parmesan and a generous helping of pepper. Cook in the oven to heat through and brown the top – about ten to fifteen minutes.

Top with the chopped basil.

6g net carbs per serving.

*The cheese so good, Pepys buried a round of it in his garden during the Great Fire of London.

 

 

Carrot & Almond Soup

Soup, you say, that’s winter fodder, isn’t it? I could eat (drink?) soup any time of the year, so spring doesn’t put me off a big, warm bowl of comfort.

But during the warmer months, you might want to lighten up a little. This delicately-flavoured soup is perfect for spring and it full of goodies. I spotted these tempting-looking dirty carrots at our local farmers’ market on Sunday and pounced. They were always destined for the soup pot.

When I first went low-carb, I avoided carrots as there were some hardliners at the time who insisted carrots were too sweet. Then, I gave myself a good shake. “Nonsense! The carrot is delightfully delicious.” Carrots as a carb to be concerned about is very much sweating the small stuff. Avoid the cakes, sweets, pastries and overloads of pasta, rice and potatoes instead.

[It’s a bit of a cheek to call this a recipe, as it’s so easy it’s not true…]

  • Carrot and Almond Soup

    • Servings: 4
    • Difficulty: easy
    • Print

    2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 40ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-litre chicken stock
  • 100g ground almonds
  • Salt and pepper

Put the carrots, onions, garlic and stock in a large saucepan/stock pot, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until the carrots are soft. It should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on how small you have chopped your carrots.

Take the pan off the heat. Add the ground almonds and lemon juice, and puree with a stick blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I like to top this with a poached egg for extra protein/satiety*.

Allow about 11g net carbs for serving for four or about 14g for three.