Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Low Fat Spaghetti Bolognese (Spagbol)

The term "clean eating" makes me gag as much as "smoothie" and I don't know why. 

Especially since I've been leading a life of daily fruit "smoothies" and more often than not dine "clean", too. 

I also have other pet peeve terms that pisses me off to no end such as "at the end of the day" (dear lawd) and "basically". 

Am I the only one ? Perhaps. Perhaps not ! 

Please, share with me words or terms of the English dictionary that annoys your soul and let's commiserate on our weirdness together. 

OK enough gab. Here is a lovely and delicious recipe for a - ugh - somewhat clean eating spagbol dinner. 

It uses good grass fed beef, which I have drained and blotted the bejeesus out of its fats, and zero cooking oil during the sauteeing part.

Beef is perhaps not the most healthiest of meats but I have tried a bolognese sauce with chicken mince and it was the worst decision of my life (well, the top ten). Therefore, beef.

This is the first time I made a spagbol without the obligatory glug of olive oil and it's gratifying to know that I can do without (even though it's a - here it comes - clean eating oil) and not compromise on taste. From now on I vow to make my bolognese sauces sans oil. 

I also wish to never use canned tomatoes ever as well as I used fresh for these, and whilst the end product is missing that glorious, blazing, burnished, rich-red tone of a yummy looking bolognese sauce it is actually much better for you this way and furthermore you just stuck in a basket of fresh toms to your healthy eating cause.

The reason why I used a drawing of the spagbol nicked off the 'net is precisely because of that - a healthy and almost-clean eating pasta sauce I find looks terrible both in photography and in real life. 

Brownish, lumpy and opaque - not a triumphantly glistening oily red-red. So to not scare off myself and other potential cooks to this recipe I choose not to show the real product. 

Because by the time you've cooked it you have no choice but to eat it. But my dear friends I promise you you will love it - it's simply delicious and utterly good for you any time of the day. 

I usually add my trio melange of spagbol accessory favourites which are mushroom (usually dried but more often than not canned - not clean eating), minutely diced carrot and celery. 

I left out all three and it is delicious all the same. You may add these if you like - especially carrot as it gives that particular melting sweetness. For mushrooms, use fresh or dried. Not canned ey. 

Honestly speaking I have not been in the best of moods for a while and so I decided to cook this concoction for meself. 

After eating up a bowl of this my mood lifted and I actually experienced a sliver of that currently elusive emotion called happiness :) :) :) 

So my dear friends, this spagbol isn't just healthy and yummy, it's joy-inducing too. It's your typical recipe with only minor adjustments that you can live with - no, you may not brandish your meal with a cloud of parmesan and yes, it will still taste utterly good. 

Low Fat Spaghetti Bolognese 
Serves 4 

300 - 350gms lean grass-fed or any kind of fed beef mince 
4 medium sized ripe red tomatoes(or 3 large), unpeeled, blended with a little water til liquefied but not obliterated. Meaning, some tomato chunks are welcome. 
Double concentrated tomato puree - I used the squeeze type in a tube
1 large onion, diced 
4-5 cloves garlic, minced 
Your choice of herbs, fresh or dried (I used an Italian blend) 
5-6 bay leaves 
Salt and black pepper for seasoning
Fresh or dried mushrooms, sliced (optional) 
1 cup finely diced carrots and celery mix (optional)

1. Heat a dutch oven or your favourite cooking pot with a medium-low heat. 
2. Add in the mince and stir til no longer red. Drain as much fats as you can. Blot the mince with kitchen paper towels if need be (I did). 
3. Throw in the onion and garlic. Saute for a minute or so. 
4. Add the blended fresh tomatoes, bay leaves, herbs and tomato paste. Add in as much or as little of the herbs and paste as you like. Bring the sauce to a boil. 
5. Lower the heat to the lowest setting, partially cover and allow to simmer for an hour or more. 
6. Season with salt and black pepper. 
7. Serve with wholewheat pasta, quinoa pasta or corn pasta (a cup per serving).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Japanese Spaghetti Napolitan

Revisiting my favourite Japanese food category of Yōshoku yet again :)

It is a fascinating Japan-ised form of Western and European cooking.

I have previously traversed the Yōshoku road and made Doria (yummy baked rice gratin - French) and Nikujaga (a glorified mince n tatties rendition - Scottish/UK). And they were both as scrummy as can be.

In today's case, its an Italian inspired dish called Naporitan (actually Napolitan but localised with "r" instead of "l"... Just love that !). 

Here's a little Wikipedia tidbit on the history of Spaghetti Napolitan :

It was created by Shigetada Irie (入江茂忠), the general chef of the New Grand Hotel (Hotel New Grand) in Yokohama, when he was inspired by one of the military rations of GHQ, which was spaghetti mixed with tomato ketchup.

I had never tasted this style of pasta before but my goodness... It's so delicious.

Onions, bell peppers, fresh sausages and fresh mushrooms are flash-fried with pasta and flavoured with the umami combo of ketchup, Tonkatsu sauce (or just use HP sauce - tastes the same) and a splash of cream.

Quite, quite moreish. Mmmm :)

 There is a hoard of Naporitan/Napolitan pasta recipes out there but I chose this especially delectable one. As I have never tasted this dish prior to cooking it, for my first try I followed the recipe to a tee.

Delicious !

But, for good eating and good health's sake I have adjusted it a teeny bit.

This is an easy pasta dish to cook at home. And it tickles me to no end that it's a Yōshoku creation - adding that extra little spice and oomph to every fork-twirling bite.

Spaghetti Napolitan
Reproduced without permission from Just Hungry
Serves 2-3

150g / about 5 oz. dry spaghetti (please choose wholewheat)
4 fresh sausages (I used chicken)
1 large sweet pepper (use a trio of pepper colours for a more festive looking dish)
5-6 fresh button mushrooms
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1/3 cup low sodium ketchup
3 tbsp Tonkatsu sauce or HP sauce
3 tbsp low fat sour cream
Black pepper

1. Boil the spaghetti while you’re cooking the other ingredients in plenty of salted water. Stop at the al dente stage as this helps ensure that you minimise the GI from going higher. Strain and rinse under tap water to halt the cooking process. Set aside.
2. Slice the onion, pepper and mushrooms thinly.
3. Steam, bake or roast the fresh sausages and let cool. Slice the sausages in thin, diagonal slices.
4. Heat up a wok or large frying pan with the oil. Sauté the onion only briefly then add the peppers and mushrooms. Sauté for 15 seconds or so. Add the sausage slices and mix til incorporated. Add a dash of black pepper.
5. Combine the ketchup, Tonkatsu sauce and sour cream in a small bowl.
6. Add the spaghetti to the pan. Add the sauce mixture and toss well to combine. Sauté for a few minutes till thoroughly heated through.
7. Plate and serve immediately, topped with a little grated parmesan.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Foods that cause belly fat

The info below is compiled from here, here and here.

Made this blog post up as a reminder for me as well as for anyone out there who wants to  know :) 

1. Refined sugar - Carbonated drinks, table sugar, sweetened fruit juices, bottled iced teas and coffees, coffee sweeteners, sugar-coated cereals, energy or sports drinks, candy.

2.   Trans fat - Fast foods. Commercially prepared baked items such as crackers, cakes, pies, cookies, energy bars, cupcakes, croissants, doughnuts, pastries and breads. Snack pies and cakes, potato chips, butter-flavored pre--popped corn, cheese corn, tortilla chips, prepackaged foods. Gravy mixes, boxed cereals, boxed foods, canned pasta, pasta mixes, canned foods, packaged sauces, pizzas, frozen entrees, frozen bread dough and deli foods.

3. Salt - Too much sodium can cause your body to retain excess water weight, making it hard to achieve a flat midsection. Aim to keep sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg per day.

4. Full fat dairy - Milk (I love milk and would never do without. So thank the Lord for low fat and skim), cream, butter, hard and soft cheeses, yogurt and frozen dairy products. Cream based sauces, soups and gravies made with whole milk.

5.  Saturated fat - Beef, lamb, chicken (except for breasts I guess), poultry, veal and pork. Sausage, jerky, bacon, luncheon meats, kidneys, liver, heart, gizzards, spleen.

And, practise the three below :

1. Get sufficient sleep on a daily basis - 8 hours minimum

2. Sweat it up a few times a week - Join a programme that has any kind of high intensity interval training (HIIT)

3. Bulk up on magnesium - Reduces fluid retention aka tummy flattener. 320mg supplements for women over 30. Alternatively go at it naturally and eat more nuts, green leafy veg and beans.