Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Not To Get Fat Your Daily Plan



It is of the up most importance when dieting to choose foods that not only are low in fat but are also nutrient rich. This is the basis of Ian Marber's new book- How Not To Get Fat Your Daily Plan. Marber - AKA The Food Doctor guarantee the reader a more stable and sustainable weight loss if they follow his programme.
Marber has many years of experience as a weight loss consultant and is a regular contributor to many leading magazines and papers in the UK. This book is a follow on from his first book - How Not To Get Fat which was well received worldwide.
The book is clearly divided into three sections. How food becomes energy; foods to eat and food planners. There are many easy to follow recipes to support all the daily diet plans with helpful tips on how to cook and serve many different foods. Throughout the book there is a constant reminder that everything one chooses to eat should be done so consciously, for example when choosing bread the wholemeal variety should be the one of choice.
I completely believe that choosing low-fat processed foods an an effort to reduce ones calorie intake is most definitely misleading. Marber echos this indicating that these foods generally contain more sugar which in turn leads to fluctuation in blood sugar levels. His diet plan all boils down to maintaining a steady blood glucose level.
In the book it is also apparent that combining the food groups correctly is vital for a healthy diet. One main focus of the meal plan is ensuring that every meal combines a protein with a complex carbohydrate as the energy they create lasts longer if eaten together.
So I put the book to the test and followed the plan for a few days. Surprisingly I didn't experience the normal hunger plans that I have come to recognize at the beginning of most diets. Within a few days I definitely felt less bloated and more energetic.
If you are considering changing the way you eat, for the better of your health, a read of this book would certainly be a good start!!

If you would like to buy Ian Marber's How Not To Get Fat-Your Daily Plan it is published by Quadrille Publishing and it is available to buy on Amazon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

'Me want Cookie!'... or a Chocolate and Hazelnut Drop


Without doubt homemade cookies are simply irresistible! When I stumble upon a new cookie recipe I always feel compelled to try it out. Cookie dough is extremely easy to make but the baking of these delicious gems can be a little tricky. A 'walnut', 'golfball' or 'drop' are often used to descibed as the size of dough to put onto the tray however my 'walnut' may not be the same size as yours! Therefore I have found that practice makes perfect with cookies and soon you will know what size ball of dough is perfect for the size cookies you wish to produce. I always tend to err on the side of caution and take the cookies from the oven before they have completely browned. They almost still have a little softness in the middle but while they cool they crisp up perfectly.


I have to say that the nicest cookies I have ever made are posted on a fellow bloggers' site Dinner Du Jour. This is a blog written by two working mums-one in Ireland (Kristin) and one in Milwakee (Kelly). According to Kristin the real trick to perfect cookies is to allow the dough to rest in the fridge for 3 days. This proved fairly difficult in my house but on my third attempt at making the dough I allowed it to 'rest'!! As I found out, the cookies were still fabulous when cooked straight away but were even better when made as instructed. Here is the link for these cookie but I pass this onto you with a warning- if you are trying to count calories or you are sticking to some sort of a Weight Watchers/Unislim diet then this is not the recipe for you! These cookies are so irresible that one will never be enough. However if you would like to treat yourself and your loved ones to the most delicious cookies imaginable then try these out New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies.




On the note of cookies and my never ending quest to try out new varieties Clodagh Mckenna has a really tasty recipe in her latest book HOMEMADE. According to Clodagh she spent two days perfecting this recipe and the results are pretty heavenly! (pictured above and below) Many cookie recipes have the tendency to be too sweet but these have almost a shortbread taste and texture to them which make them a supreme accompaniment to a cup of coffee.

I was thrilled to receive Homemade as one of my Christmas pressies! The book is packed with recipes for every occasion, from a lazy brunch to divine dinner parties. Clodagh has included 'cook's tips' with many of the recipes and all come with an informative introduction. The food is styled by Clodagh and the dishes are presented beautifully! Clodagh told me that she had a wonderful time making this cookbook as herself and her mother headed to the South of France and just cooked, ate and took photos for the full three weeks.
Another feature of the book that I find really appealing are the pattered pages. This would even be well placed on a coffee table as I often find myself picking it up just to flick through it as it is so visually pleasing!


Chocolate and Hazelnut Drops



Ingredients
250g butter, softened
120g caster sugar
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
80g good-quality dark chocolate drops, 70% cocoa solids
70g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Method
First prepare the hazelnuts by placing them in a towel. Using a rolling pin, forcefully tap the covered hazelnuts


1. Preheat the oven to 180C
2. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon until pale in colour.
3. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and then add the chocolate drops and hazelnuts. Bring the mixture together to form a dough.
4. Using your hands, roll the dough into small drops and place them slightly apart on two baking trays (there is no need to grease or line).


5. Flatten the drops with the back of a damp fork and bake in the oven for 13-15 mins or until they are light golden brown and slightly firm on the top.
6. Transfer carefully the drops to a wire rack to cool.



Monday, January 17, 2011

Carrot & Coriander Soup




  • There has been an unusual air of silence in my kitchen over the past few mornings as the boys are all back at school. I absolutely love my boys but after almost 4 weeks at home they were becoming almost allergic to each other. They were in bad need of a more 'structured' day so when it came time to get ready the school bags and uniforms for another term they were more than happy to help!

    The increase of temperature has also been warmly welcomed as I badly needed to restock my presses and fridge and with so many new cookbooks, ingredients were essential! There weren't many advantages to the 'big freeze' but one for me was the realisation that unknowingly I have been prepared for this for almost 3 years!! My larder presses are always bursting with produce and many ingredients, that aren't in my usually weekly recipe repertoire, were constantly being pushed to the back of the press. So as I was limited to the hubby picking up milk on the way home from work I started to cook my way through all these once dismissed ingredients. I must admit that not all the recipe would be considered ' blog worthy' but satisfying non the less!! However after a number of days my boys were getting quite tired of the 'another dish from all those hidden ingredients' tag line when I served them dinner! Needless to say we are all relieved to have access to the shops again and with the boys out of the equation Millie and I headed for a little grocery shopping and a much needed restock!


    I was delighted to pick up some very healthy herb plants in Lidl for a mere 1.49 which included a coriander plant. This Carrot and Coriander soup can be made without fresh coriander but for a fresher and fuller flavour I would recommend you pick up a little plant. The addition of cream isn't essential but as a self confessed cream addict I couldn't resist drizzling in a little into the soup before serving, but as this soup is so full of flavour it's inclusion isn't altogether necessary. I get my coriander seeds from a Cork based company Green Saffron and ground them in with a pestle and morter but you can buy ready ground coriander in any supermarket.
    After a big shop and with presses yet again full I'm fairly confident that if we are unlucky enough to encounter another big freeze I'm fully prepared for it!!

    Carrot & Coriander Soup

    Ingredients
    knob of butter
    drizzle of rapeseed oil/olive oil
    1 onion, sliced
    450g/1lb carrots, sliced
    1 potato, sliced
    1 tsp ground coriander
    1 litres/2 pints vegetable stock
    50mls cream
    large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
    salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Method
    1. Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and add the onions, potato and the carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
    2. Stir in the ground coriander and season well. Cook for 1 minute.
    3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
    4. Whizz with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth.Add the cream. Reheat in a clean pan, stir in the fresh coriander and serve.

      If you have got to this recipe by The Huffington Post I hope you enjoy the read and come visit the blog again some time.

Competition Winner Announced

    

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition! I was overwhelmed by all of your kind and complimentary comments. You all deserve to win but alas there can only be one winner! All the names were put in a hat and before the boys headed to school the 'draw' took place!




And the winner of Rachel Allen's Entertaining at Home is..........................................Greenside Up!!


Dee runs a fantastic 'Grow it yourself' business giving tonnes of online support to keen gardeners. Her website is Greensideup.ie. Well Done Dee- I hope you enjoy your new cookbook!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy 1st Aniversary Nessa's Family Kitchen!!!

It is exactly one year ago that I published my first post on my blog. When I started I wasn't sure whether I would write daily(very ambitious!!!!) or maybe I would only have a post once a week. However with 98 posts, 16,000 hits and 36 followers later this blog has become more of my life than I could ever have imagined!
I needed a way to catalog my recipes and a blog seemed the easiest way to do this. My eldest son Jack(age 8), who is fairly computer literate, designed and set up the blog and until I familiarised myself with it he completely managed it! He recently decided that he was investing too much of his time on Nessa's Family Kitchen and he set up his own blog iJack O D but still keeps an eye on mine, constantly updating layouts and adding songs to my play list!!
Before starting this blog I wasn't aware of the strong Irish Foodies presence on line, who are ever constant with their tips and advice, be it through Twitter, Facebook, Blogs or Websites. It was wonderful to put 'faces' to many of these lovely people at recent events. If anyone, in Ireland, is interested in venturing down the road of food blogging I would advice you to check out The Irish Food Bloggers Association which is a fantastic resource for bloggers and will help you to put your idea into practice!!
I love many aspects of blogging but never did I realise how much I would love setting up my photos for each recipe. I find myself regularly thinking about what I need for my photos- be it props, lighting or 'models' and all just to achieve a perfect shot!
My attitude to many things in life is 'Why not?' and if I can't find a reasonable answer to that question I generally will give something a go! Now that the blog is gaining momentum many opportunities are arising for me and I'm delighted to announce that this month I start my cookery column with The Westmeath Independent.
I would like to thank anyone who reads the blog, follows it, posts comments, try the recipes or lends me some encouragement! If you are included in this list I would love you to post a comment below(a simple hello will suffice!) and I will include you in a draw, to celebrate Nessa's Family Kitchen's 1st Anniversary!!
The prize is Rachel Allen's latest book- Entertaining at Home. I'm an avid admirer of Rachel's style of cooking and this book not only includes many impressive recipes but it is also packed with suggestions on how to host the perfect get-together!!!
Thanks agin for all your support and Best of Luck!!!!!!




The competition will end at midnight on Sunday 16th January.
The winner will be picked at random. Entrants must be resident in Rep of Ireland / UK. No cash alternative is possible. I will not share any of your details with a third party.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Homemade Recovery Remedy



Every second person in the country, including my other half, seems to be complaining of a Flu! For many it is a Common cold that doesn't require medical assistant but can be relieved by rest, fluids, vitamin C and some form of Analgesia -such as paracetamol- and of course lots of TLC!!!! 
When I was young, once anyone started to sniffle in the house my mother would juice lemons and oranges, add water and simmer with the peels for a few minutes. It was fairly bitter so a spoonful of sugar would sort that out. This remedy below is based on this drink and even tough it won't get rid of your cold it will help to improve some symptoms of a cold.
The Vitamin C from the citric fruits help to fight off infections and helps to build up your immune system when sick. It is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps the body to repair cells at times of sickness!
It has also been well documented that honey and ginger help the immune system and are recommended for times when you are feeling a little run down. It is so important to keep hydrated when sick so this drink makes the perfect tonic!



Homemade Recovery Remedy

Ingredients
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp honey
1inch knob Ginger, peeled and chopped

Method
1. Juice the orange and lemon into a pint glass.
2. Add the ginger and honey and top up with boiling water.
3. Allow to sit for a few minutes then pass through a sieve for a smooth drink.
4. Taste and add more honey, if required.



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