Tuna and spinach salad with fresh garden peas and feta

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Summer is here and here in Denmark we are experiencing one of those very rare heat waves (which means it’s above 25 °C for 3 days in a row). Denmark and Danes are not very well equipped for too much heat, and the temperatures don’t need to rise above 20 °C before people start complaining about it being too hot.

When the weather is like this I always have a hard time figuring out what I want to eat: everything just seems too heavy and cooking also feels like too much work. Which is where fresh summer salads come in! I love tuna sandwiches, but a tuna and spinach salad with fresh garden peas and feta seemed like a very good alternative to the classic sandwich option.

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This recipe is easy, cheap and diet friendly, and if you are serving your meal to non-dieters you can just switch out the spinach leaves with some Ciabatta bread or a baguette.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can tuna
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lime
  • 10 fresh garden peas (peeled)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat feta cheese (I use 3%)
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon capers (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Siracha (optional)

Mix canned tuna with low-fat sour cream, mayonnaise, juice of half a lime, 1/2 finely chopped onion, Dijon mustard, capers, Siracha, salt and pepper. Mix well and taste. Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed.

Wash spinach and place in a bowl. Top with garden peas and low fat feta cheese. Add as much tuna as you like and garnish with lime wedges and black pepper.

Enjoy!

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FOOD FACT: TUNA

TScreen shot 2013-07-23 at 1.45.19 PMuna is very high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which means it is a great option for lowering triglyceride levels as well as controlling blood pressure. Eating tuna may also help lower your risk for stroke, heart disease, cancer, eye disease as well as help fight depression.

Women who consume more than five servings of baked or broiled fish a week have the lowest risk of heart failure. via. Healthyeating.sfgate.com

Grilled chicken with pesto, capers and Shirataki noodles

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This was my first attempt at using Shirataki noodles, and instead of making a classic Asian meal I decided to try to whip up an Italian inspired pasta dish.

Although the texture of Shirataki noodles is slightly rubbery, all in all they are a great alternative to classic high-carb pastas and noodles. In order to get the best flavour out of them you should rinse the noodles thoroughly before boiling (for 2 – 3 minutes in warm water), then boil for 4 – 5 minutes after which you should rub the noodles with olive oil to keep them from becoming sticky.

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Shirataki noodles come in two forms, tofu Shirataki and regular Shirataki. Both types contain a yam flour base and the only difference between the two is that tofu Shirataki has a small amount of tofu (well duh!). Shirataki noodles contain 0 calories per serving as they are almost entirely made up of fiber. Tofu Shirataki noodles contain around 20 calories per serving (because of the extra tofu). The noodles I bought were regular Shirataki noodles, and apparently tofu Shirataki noodles have a more pasta-like texture.

Shirataki noodles are highly recommended (in my book) and you can look forward to many more Shirataki noodle recipes to come!

Grilled chicken with pesto, capers and Shirataki noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Shirataki noodles (enough for one person or two if you are not that hungry)
  • 1 piece of chicken breast
  • 1/2 glass of pesto (I was lazy, you can also make your own which would obviously taste way better)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Handful of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme or basil

Place the Shirataki noodles in a bowl and cover with warm water. Rinse for 2 – 3 minutes, then boil for 4 – 5 minutes. Rub one tablespoon of olive oil into the noodles and set aside.

Prepare the chicken breasts by slicing into chunks and marinating in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, thyme (or basil) and salt and pepper. Set aside. Slice up an onion and grate the cheese. Turn on the frying pan and wait until hot. Add marinated chicken (with garlic), and once almost ready add the onions. Fry the chicken and onions until done.

If the Shirataki noodles have gone cold heat them up quickly in the microwave. Add as much pesto as desired, as well as capers and the chicken and onion mixture. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

ENJOY!

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FOOD FACT: CAPERS

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 5.05.22 PMCapers are flower buds, which make them very low in calories (23 calories per 100 g.), containing phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins that are essential to your health.

Capers are very rich in quarcetin (180 mg/100 g), second only to tea leaves, a very powerful anti-oxidant. According to research studies quarcetin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Did you know? Usually the small, cream coloured caper buds are handpicked in the early hours of the day (otherwise the plants unfold into whitish-pink sepal flowers with long purple tassels). Not long after harvesting the caper buds are washed and allowed to wilt for a few hours in the sun before being placed in jars and covered with salt, vinegar, brine or olive oil. Via. Nutrition-and-You.com

Paleo Crisp Bread with Smoked Ham and Hazelnut Pesto

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I LOVE PESTO. Like I really, really, really adore pesto with a passion, and often find myself fantasizing about fresh pasta tossed with homemade pesto with lashings of parmesan cheese on top. But alas, I am staying away from the pasta, but that doesn’t mean I have to say no to pesto!

I recently made Paleo Crisp Bread, and decided to make a homemade hazelnut pesto to compliment some smoked ham I had bought as a topping for the bread. This recipe is inspired by traditional Danish Smørrebrød.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of Paleo Crisp Bread
  • 2 slices smoked ham (or whichever cold-cuts you prefer)
  • 1/2 hazelnuts
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cheddar or parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 spring onion

Blend the hazelnuts until finely ground. Add basil, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, and a dash of olive oil. Blend again, adding olive oil until desired consistency. I usually add a little water to thin-out the pesto a little bit, to save on the oil.

Slice the spring onion and set aside. Place two slices of Paleo Crisp Bread on a plate and put a piece of ham on each slice. Add desired amount of pesto and garnish with spring onion.

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And voila! There you have Paleo Crisp Bread with Smoked Ham and Homemade Hazelnut Pesto!

FOOD FACT: BASIL

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 5.02.43 PMBasil not only tastes great as a main ingredient in pesto, but it also has many surprising health benefits! Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, basil also has antioxidants that can protect the body from premature aging, skin complications and even some forms of cancer. Basil oil can be used to treat stomach complications such as constipation, cramps and indigestion as well as the common cold. (via. Motherearthliving.com).

Here’s a fun fact about basil: In Hindu cultures basil is considered a sacred plant.  In some cultures basil is a sign of love and devotion between young couples (it’s probably easier to find than mistletoe too).

Oven baked chicken with celeriac fries

Do you find yourself craving french fries, but you’re trying to follow either a low-carb or Paleo lifestyle, and all you can make is sweet potato fries? Here’s a low-carb alternative to making your favorite fried tots, and with no guilt involved.

You can literally eat as many of these celeriac fries as you wish, and your waistline will continue shrinking with every bite!

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Even though it’s summer I reside in Denmark, and there is never, ever a guarantee for sunshine or warm temperatures in the summer months, even at the end of June. As I sit here writing my next tasty update the wind is howling tirelessly against the windows and giant rain drops are pounding on the grey tinted glass. Although I would prefer sitting on the beach with a Skinny B*tch (my favorite drink at the moment) there is one really great thing about cold summer days: you can make comfort food! Screw barbecuing freshly roasted meats and tossing light zesty salads with a cold Carlsberg in your hand, when the weather is in a bad mood there is only one thing to do, treat yourself.

I was really hankering for fried chicken with french fries, but as I am on a health kick I had to come up with something else that would hit the spot. To satisfy my comfort cravings I decided to make oven baked chicken with celeriac fries and a side of what I like to call cabbage slaw (although it is in no way shape or form the same recipe as what you would consider traditional coleslaw), and I must say (with as much humility as someone who thinks they really are a great cook, can muster) it tasted DIVINE! So here it is, my healthy rendition of fried chicken with french fries.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts or thighs (up to you)
  • 1 celeriac
  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Coriander (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder

Preheat your oven to 350 °F / 180 °C

Marinate the chicken in cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, cumin and olive oil. Finely slice 2 cloves of garlic and add to the chicken. While the chicken is marinating cut up your celeriac into fries. You can do this as you please, and make them thin and crispy or big and soft, depending on your taste preferences. Once the fries are cut up toss them in olive oil, salt, black pepper and the remaining garlic.

Place chicken into a baking dish and put in the oven for around 45 minutes (depending on your oven).  Throw the celeriac fries on a baking sheet and place in the oven as well, turning after approximately 15 minutes (they should be done in around 35 – 40 minutes).

Slice up the cabbage, onions, carrots and remaining clove of garlic. Stir fry in a pot with olive oil, and add desired spices (I used cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and curry powder), but you can really use anything you please.  Serve with coriander on top.

FOOD FACT: CELERIACScreen shot 2013-06-26 at 4.17.40 PM

Celeriac not only helps you lose weight by boosting your metabolism, it also contains high amounts of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium besides containing vitamins B1, B2 and E. According to Giverecipe.com celeriac also helps cure kidney diseases and promotes healthy skin and hair.

Paleo Crisp Bread with Seeds and Nuts

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Paleo Crisp Bread with Seeds and Nuts is inspired by traditional Nordic crispbread, which is often served with cheese, ham or other light cold-cuts and toppings. This version is completely Paleo friendly, and contains no gluten or wheat at all. I chose to test something new with this recipe, and added half a head of cabbage to the seeds and nut mixture, giving the bread fill and lending enough mass to make Banana Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon with half the batch!

This bread can last up to a week when stored in an air tight container. Paleo Crisp Bread is perfect on its own as a snack, as an accompaniment to soup or salad or as a base for delicious sandwiches.

Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (or almonds, whatever nuts you have and like will do)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 1 cup flaxseed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Blend the walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and flaxseed in a food processor. Once finely ground, add the cabbage and coconut and continue blending. Mix in the eggs and oil slowly, and process until the consistency is almost like a smooth paste.

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Add the sesame seeds and mix by hand (this is so you have some varying textures in your bread, and added crunch).

Heat your oven to 300 °F / 150 °C.

Roll out half the mixture on a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of your dough, and roll the batter out until thin with a bottle or other object. Any additional dough can be added back to the other half of the mixture you still have (this can be used for Banana Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon or just to make more Paleo Crisp Bread with Seeds and Nuts).

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Roll the dough until you have a thin bread, and then cut it with a sharp knife (I usually make pretty small square like shapes, but you can also make larger or smaller pieces, it’s totally up to you).

Once you have bread that looks like this (below) you can put it in the oven.

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Bake in the oven for up to 40 minutes, preferably on dry heat, as this dries out the bread rather than burns it. Keep an eye on the bread as you go along, as oven time may vary. Store bread in an airtight container for up to a week.

FOOD FACT: FLAXSEED

Flaxseed is full of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and has been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.

flaxseedHere’s a fun fact about flaxseed: Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it.  Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say there is preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected. (via. WebMD.com)