Salmon Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Herbs <200 calories

Salmon Stuffed with Pine Nuts and HerbsSalmon is one of my go-to ingredients for a fast day, when I focus on “mainly plants and protein” and I always have some fillets in the freezer. This recipe makes a good change from my usual technique of putting it on a pile of sliced vegetables and wrapping it in paper parcels. I will defrost the fish first.

This recipe is in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life, but as I had included it in this week’s meal plan, and highlighted the photo, I thought I should share it here.

The original idea came from a New Zealand cook, Annabel Langbein, from her excellently-titled 2003 recipe book “Cooking to Impress without Stress”. 

You can use walnuts instead of pine nuts and vary the herbs. I plan to serve it with a spoonful of tsatsiki (greek yogurt with salted, drained, finely chopped cucumber and mint), but it would be lovely with a chilli and tomato salsa or on a non-fast day, a hollandaise sauce would be super.

A rainbow of steamed seasonal vegetables and perhaps a few baked mushrooms add visual appeal, flavour and plenty of fibre. Today we will be having swiss chard and carrots, plus some slivers of raw vegetables – my new kitchen gadget, a super-duper Mandolin, is going to be put to use! 

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Breakfast ideas

There’s been a lot of buzz about high protein – low carb, especially since the BBC Horizon programme ‘What’s the Right Diet for You?’ recently. This programme explored some of the science behind why people put on weight and how they can best lose it. They divided a group of obese people into 3 types – Feasters, Constant Cravers and Emotional Eaters – and devised specific diets to suit them. 

Smoked Trout and Scrambled Egg _MG_3123 _MG_0303 Hot and Sour Chicken and Mushroom Soup

Each dieter underwent a series of scientific tests to find out the main reason for why they put on weight. The Constant Cravers have genes that mean they feel hungry all the time, the Feasters have a misfiring gut hormone that stops them from knowing when they’re feeling full. The final group, the Emotional Eaters, eat in response to stress.

They picked participants for the 8 week trial on the basis that they were quite strongly characteristic of one of the 3 types.  There is an online test which can help you to determine your own type. Most people actually are a combination of the 3 types to a greater or lesser degree and many people may not be significantly aligned with any of the types. The test can be found here http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z2csfg8, along with other related resources.

For the Feasters, a diet high in protein and low GI carbs, helps boost the lacking gut hormone and increases feelings of fullness

For the Constant Cravers, an Intermittent Fasting diet that restricts calories on two days a week, combined with very low carbohydrate intake on those days, helps to retrain the appetite and enables you to become more accustomed to not snacking or grazing.

For the Emotional Eaters, controlling intake by limiting high fat/high sugar foods and counting calories, combined with being part of a support group to help keep motivation levels high, is very helpful.

In my view, all the types will flourish by following an Intermittent Fasting diet (i.e 5:2), combined with limiting processed foods and cutting back on simple carbs such as sugar and white bread/pasta/rice. A diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, good fats and a variety of protein sources, with nuts and seeds, pulses and whole grains, is the way to go.

We have to be a little careful with the idea of high protein, as pointed out by Michael Mosley in ‘the fast diet’, as research shows that protein, and animal protein in particular, raises our levels of IGF-1, which is needed when you are young and growing but appears to accelerate ageing and cancer in later life. We should aim to keep our protein intake to within 0.8grams per kilo of body weight (per day) and aim to get as much as possible from plant based sources, says Prof Valter Longo. However, protein is very good at keeping you feeling full and so it is a very good choice for breakfast. 

So “revenons a nos moutons“, getting back to our sheep, or the main subject…. here are some ideas for sustaining breakfasts which have ample protein but are low in carbs or use low-GI carbs. I prefer not to have breakfast at all on a fast day, but I think it is a useful tactic when you are starting out with fasting and on any normal day it can stop you from reaching for the croissants mid-morning….

  • Get those little offcuts of smoked salmon and stir them into scrambled eggs… yum
  • How about going oriental and having a spicy broth with tofu?
  • Don’t forget nuts! Some oats soaked overnight in water with toasted chopped nuts and seeds and some fresh grated apple added in the morning makes a fab Bircher muesli
  • Make your own grunchy granola with whole rolled oats, wheat and rye flakes and add plenty of chopped hazelnuts. Stir in some honey or malt extract for a little sweetness and bake in the oven until golden. Then add in some luscious dried fruits. Serve it with natural yogurt.
  • Full fat greek yoghurt, with berries and nuts, or made into a smoothie with a banana 
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese, on a thin slice of rye bread or crispbread
  • Cottage cheese with sliced pear and chopped walnuts
  • One of my favourites – wholewheat toast with almond butter
  • Another frequent one for us, as our chickens are producing so many – a boiled egg, I usually have it with a slice of wholewheat toast, but you could have asparagus spears to dip in for a low-carb alternative
  • egg and bacon, or egg and ham
  • bacon and mushrooms
  • smoked haddock with a poached egg
  • banana pancakes (banana whizzed up with an egg, made into scotch pancakes), use a little coconut oil or butter in the pan
  • veggie pops – grated pumpkin or squash with some parmesan cheese and ground almonds, mixed with a beaten egg, add some chilli or spice for variety and bake in silicone moulds or cupcake cases

I hope this helps you to avoid the elevenses….

Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat’s Cheese Gratin

This is what we had for lunch today – totally delicious and lovely textures. This makes a great feature of Jerusalem Artichokes, which are in season now.  Not entirely plant-based proteins, because of the goat’s cheese….

_MG_3253 Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat's Cheese Gratin _MG_3309 Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat's Cheese Gratin

Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat’s Cheese Gratin

for 2 people (but we couldn’t finish it!). 490 kcals, 12.6g protein per serving

  • 450 grams peeled or scrubbed artichokes (keep under water to stop them going brown)
  • 3 small leeks
  • a grating of fresh nutmeg and black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g shelled walnut pieces
  • 2 rounds of fresh young goat’s cheese (called Cabecou here)
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme

Heat oven to 200C.

Slice the artichokes into rounds, about 5mm (1/4″) thick. Cook in boiling lightly salted water for about 3 minutes, until slightly soft. Drain.

Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until slightly coloured, then chop finely.

Trim, wash and slice the leeks finely. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the leeks and spices, stir fry for a minute or two, then add about 100ml of water. Put the lid on and lower the heat to minimum and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and luscious.

Put the leeks in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. If they have dried out, add a couple of tablespoons of water, then layer the artichokes on top. Sprinkle the nuts over and then crumble the goats cheese on top. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until the cheese is starting to brown.

Serve with a rocket and orange salad (half an orange), dressed with the squeezed orange juice and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.

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We finished our meal with Vanilla Soya Custard with Banana.

Vanila Soya Custard with Banana

Entered in At Home with Mrs M’s Recipe Link PartyMade with Love Mondays hosted by javelin warrior and Simple and in Season which is hosted this month by Caroline at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking

5:2 Fast Day Breakfast ~ Smoked Trout and Scrambled Egg

Quick and easy high protein breakfast for a 5:2 fast day

quick and easy fast day breakfast

Smoked Trout and Scrambed Egg – a quick and easy fast day breakfast

  • Smoked Trout (or Smoked Salmon)
  • Egg
  • Pepper
  • wedge of lemon (optional, to serve)

140 kcals ( 45g smoked trout, 1 egg) or 240 kcals (65g smoked trout, 2 eggs)

Use a good non-stick pan for the eggs and you won’t need to add any butter. Use the best eggs you can get, preferably organic free-range. Crack into a jug, whisk lightly with a fork, season with freshly ground black pepper. You can either cut the trout into pieces and mix in with the egg just before serving, or serve the slices with a wedge of lemon.