Category: Low fat

Harvest chicken tortilla soup

This soup is fun. Chicken soup is a wonderful, staple food. But whoever thought of mixing it up a bit, adding a whole lot of tomato, cumin, coriander and then topping it with tortilla chips is a genius.

There is something really cheeky about having a bowl full of vegies and chicken and then dipping tortillas in it. It’s like when you were little and used to dip the McDonalds fries in your ice cream. If you haven’t done that, I’m not an advocate of McDonalds, but you should go do it. Now.

I didn’t make this. I came home from work one day to find the apartment smelling fabulous – my boyfriend had been cooking. This is not unusual, he is a regular dinner maker in our house. But we both agreed this soup was especially good. So I got him to photograph it for me straight away so I could put it up.

Nowadays when I’m looking for recipes I do it via google images, or the search feature on TasteSpotting. That way it brings up results from fellow bloggers, who I know have tried and tested the recipe. And then you can be inspired by the pictures. I recommend it. This is how he found this soup, it came from Taste Food Blog. Thanks!

I’ve Australian-ified the recipe, so if you want to talk in ounces and cilantro, instead of grams and coriander try the original recipe. But I have tried to put common translations in brackets. The recipe has only been altered slightly from the original (more spices, and some vegies that were in season).

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium brown onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
1 red capsicum (pepper), diced
1 green capsicum (pepper), diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini (courgette), cut in 1/4 inch dice
4 cups chicken stock
1 400 grams can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 teaspoons ground cumin (I added more because I really like spice, original recipe has 2)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 chicken thighs – roasted them with a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil, then shredded
1 ear of corn, slice kernels off (about 1 cup)
1 cup cooked black beans (I used a tin of red kidney beans, as had it on hand)
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cilantro (coriander) leaves
Tortilla chips, broken up, to serve.

Method

  1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and celery and sauté until softened.
  3. Add the capsicums and continue to sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in zucchini and sauté briefly, 1 minute,
  5. Add the chicken stock, tin of tomatoes with juice, tomato paste and spices.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in corn, beans and chicken and simmer until heated through. Cook for as long as you like on a low heat, we had the luxury of a couple of hours which really let the flavours come out.
  7. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.
  8. Garnish with coriander and tortilla chips.

Cooks’ notes: Next time I make this dish I’ll make it with chicken thigh, as the chicken breast was a little dry.

Healthy? It’s 457 calories before you start adding tortilla chips. At which point it’s up to you how unhealthy it becomes. If, like me, you cover your soup in them, and then continue to add more as you eat, it becomes about 580 calories.

Gluten free? If you have gluten free tortilla chips, and gluten free stock, then you’re good to go.

Storage: Freezes well. We had this over two nights and it kept fine until the next day. As it’s chicken, I wouldn’t be tempting fate by keeping it longer then one day in the fridge, and re-heat well.

Perfect pizza muffins

I can say these are perfect pizza muffins. I’ve earned the right. They took me three goes to perfect the recipe to just the right amount of pizza flavour.

Sweet muffins are more my ‘thing’ than savoury. But the folks out there love a savoury muffin so I try and put a few up. The spinach and feta ones on here are awesome, and quite fool proof. A muffin with three different kinds of cheese tends to be.

But the olive and chilli ones are quite hard, and best served warm. I like them like that, they’re interesting, but I got a few comments back saying they were too hard. And I listen to comments. Really I do. Except if you’re the people that write in and say ‘this was great, I ended up buying the product after I read this’. Because you’re a stupid spammer head and I know it.

Back to the point, I was determined to make these pizza muffins moist enough that they would be a good take-to-work snack. The original recipe only used water to bind, so after three goes I’m pretty happy with the consistency. Hope you like them too…

Some things you will need:

Make them pretty by topping them with a quarter of a cherry tomato. If that’s your kind of thing.

And then eat them!

Ingredients
4 rashes of shortcut rindless bacon, fat trimmed (or the equivalent of ham)
½ – 1 onion, (purely depending how much you like onion flavour, I use ½)
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup lite grated cheese
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cherry tomatoes, to top, optional
1 teaspoon of Italian herbs

Add in some fresh parsley if you have some, but it’s purely for the touch of green, the dried herbs will give it the taste.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Slice up bacon into small pieces, if you are using onion, then chop finely.
  3. Fry bacon and onion until bacon is crispy.
  4. Mix together everything else, except egg and cherry tomatoes.
  5. Make egg up to 1 cup with water then mix with dry ingredients until just combined.
  6. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and muffins are golden. Makes 12.

Healthy? 157 calories a muffin, and they’re very filling. Not bad at all.

Gluten free? No, and they’re already quite crumbly so you may want to add more binding agent if converting.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days.

Chilli and olive muffins

Here’s a lovely thing. Heavy, dough like muffins with a cheesy spicy flavour and crispy polenta baked on top.

They’re not your average muffin. If you throw one at someone while they’re not paying attention it’ll hurt (I said I was sorry, I really thought they were looking at me).

Easy as pie to make.  Easier in fact, as pie is much harder to make than muffins (oh, come on, I had to say it!).

No need to stand on ceremony with these muffins. You just throw all your ingredients in a bowl and mix until just combined. It’s a good bicep workout.

Then spoon the mixture in to your prepared muffin tray.

And sprinkle the polenta on top.

Easy. And also quite low on calories. Bonus!

Ingredients
1 egg
3/4 water
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups grated lite cheese
1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced (I go for the ones in the jar that are already pitted and sliced, but cutting them up from scratch would be lovely)
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, or slice a whole dried chilli very finely
2 tablespoons polenta (cornmeal)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Mix together all ingredients except cornmeal. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more of water if needed – I often find it does. The mixture will be very solid and dough like.
  3. Spoon in to your well-greased muffin pan and sprinkle with the polenta. Press down on the top of each muffin slightly to help the polenta stick to the muffin.
  4. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Makes 12 smallish muffins.

Note: The muffins are quite small, but I wouldn’t recommend making fewer and larger muffins. As they’re quite solid, the small size and crispy top works well. Best served warmed.

Healthy? At 130 calories they’re a good little snack.

Gluten free? No, and I haven’t tried adapting.

Storage:  They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days. Store in airtight container.

Source: modified from the Muffin Bible olive & chilli muffins.

Low fat apple oatmeal muffins

These muffins remind me of warm apple and cinnamon porridge on a cold winter’s morning.

They also remind me of being backstage while in a play. My other love, besides baking (read: eating), is treading the boards in community theatres. It’s a very welcoming place where you instantly inherit an urban family. Something very handy when you tend to move home towns a bit.

I’m a theatre school drop-out. I switched to a business degree in my second year at university; I lacked the courage those in the arts have to embark on what is a rather uncertain career.

Luckily I really enjoy my day job in Communications. It was a good choice for me. Then I run off once or twice a year when a kindly director lets me pretend to be someone else for three weeks.

Globe theatre in London

These muffins, being full of oats and apples, tend to be my mid play snack of choice. They’re healthier than most and I kid myself that there as good as eating an apple. Then I follow them up with an entire pack of sour worm lollies. Mmmm.

I also learn lines while I bake. I used to bribe my little sister with said baked goods to sit in the kitchen while I cooked and test me. Now my dear patient boyfriend has inherited the task. Chocolate chip cookies work well on both of them.

So without further ado, let me present low fat apple oatmeal muffin!

Ingredients
4 large apples
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup quick oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain fat-free yoghurt
2 egg whites

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Peel and grate the apples, should make around two cups worth. Blot shredded apple on paper towel to get rid of a little of the excess moisture. Set aside.
  3. Place flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix with a whisk.
  4. Combine milk, oil, vanilla, yoghurt and egg whites. Stirring until well blended. Add wet ingredients to flour bowl, add apple and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  5. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and muffins are golden. Makes 12.

Healthy? Awesomely so. One of the most delicious and moist low fat muffins I’ve ever found. 165 calories per muffin.

Gluten free? I have done this. Substitute the flour and oats with GF versions of each and it converts across really well.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days.

Asian prawn salad

This type of salad is perfect for warm summer evenings. The crispness of the vegetables, saltiness in the prawns and sweet and sour flavours of the sauce makes this a party in a bowl.

I live in a lovely big old converted 1930’s mansion in London. We have the only one-bedroom place in the block and I love it.

The best part is the giant backyard which is kept in amazingly good condition. There’s even a little well up the back and family of foxes.

On warm nights all the various residents tend to come out from our separate little boxes armed with wine and sit around wooden tables together. 

More than anything, I will miss this yard when I leave London in a few weeks. This is not something many Londoners could say.

*sigh*

The night I made this salad the sun had already started setting and my camera wouldn’t do the dish justice. I gave up and went in to the garden to eat it. Hearing of my troubles, my neighbour, who is a smashingly good photographer, grabbed his much better camera and took the two shots at the top of this post. (Not the little ones of veggies below, they’re my handy work!).

A big thank you to Paddy. You’re a good egg. Even if you do like a sing-a-long at 4am. You can see his photography here.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients
A dash of peanut of sesame oil
20 grams of rice vermicelli noodles (it’s a token amount)
1 small carrot, peeled in to long strips
1/3 medium zucchini (courgette), julietted
100 grams green beans
1/3 red capsicum (pepper)
1/3 yellow capsicum (pepper)
4 large closed cap mushrooms
½ savoy cabbage
225 grams cooked prawns
A handful of coriander (cilantro)
1 cup bean shoots

Dressing
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small chilli, finely chopped (or a teaspoon of chilli flakes)
1 tablespoon chopped spring onion
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon of cornflour, to thicken.

Method

  1. Place your vermicelli noodles in a bowl of hot water and allow to sit while you prepare the rest.
  2. Cut up all your vegetables into thin sticks. Cut your cabbage in to quarters and chop very finely. For the carrot, hold it at the end and make long strips with a peeler. Place in large bowl ready to tip in your wok later.
  3. Pick a good handful of coriander leaves and chop roughly, set aside.
  4. Combine all ingredients for sauce in a mug, set aside.
  5. Drain your noodles. Make your wok good and hot with a dash of peanut or sesame oil. Fry the prawns quickly if raw, about 1 – 2 minutes. As soon as they’re orange, they’re cooked. If precooked heat through for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add vermicelli noodles. Fry for another 30 seconds. Throw in the rest of your vegetables with a tablespoon of water (to steam them a little while frying) toss for 3-4 minutes, stir sauce through then place straight in bowls.
  7. Top with bean shoots and coriander. 

Do: Add any veggies you fancy. Empty your veggie draw and make up your own customised salad. And if prawns are expensive, swap them out for chicken.

Healthy? 227 calories a serve. Lovely.

Gluten free? Check your sauce bottles (especially soy sauce), but otherwise you’re good.

Storage: Noooo…. Eat right there and then. You could take it for lunch the next day, bit it’d be a bit soggy.