Healthy homemade beef burgers – gluten free version

I made the decision to give up Macdonald’s and junk food 10 years ago. Since then I have been making my own burger for good, I say that because I only used to do it ocassionally. Cut a long story, I love making my own burgers, when I tell people they are usually surprised. This is usually because they think it’s a lengthy process and a waste of time, but when I tell them what it entails they change their minds. Last year, I actually made mini burgers at the first birthday party of a friend’s daughter, whilst the kids were playing party games. It went down a storm, some of the mothers were asking for the recipe before they left. 

I have adapted the recipe over the years as I got healthier, the popular version is with bread crumbs, but for this recipe I have used couscous for a gluten free version. However, do feel feel to go down the breadcrumbs route if you prefer.

The ingredients I used were cooled cooked couscous, mixed dry herbs, black pepper, red onion, and lean minced beef.

I placed all the ingredients in my wooden bowl, ok I admit I was multi tasking as all the other bowls were used up for proving bread. Back to the recipe, the onion was chopped, all the ingredients were mixed with my fingers and that was it. By the way you can add other spices into the mixture, eg; curry but make sure you are wearing gloves as you don’t want it going into your eyes if you accidently rub them, neither do you want to end up with stained hands.

Once all the ingredients are combined, roll the mixture into balls. There, you have just made your first burger. It’s that simple, continue until you have used up the mixture.

I wrapped each burger individually in cling (plastic wrap) film. As I had made a batch, I froze them. However, if you want to eatyours straight away, place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to ‘set’. Or in a freezer for about 15 minutes, like I did at my friend’s party. 

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RECIPE

HOMEMADE BEEF BURGERS

Ingredients

500g Minced (Ground) beef or turkey, pork or chicken

1 Red or regular onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh herbs of choice – mixed, or parsley.

Cooked couscous, cooled  or fresh breadcrumbs if preferred

Dash of ground black pepper 

Method

In a bowl, add the ingredients until incorporated into the mince beef. Take a handful and roll into small to medium balls. I made 9 burgers out of mine. Cut pieces of Cling (plastic wrap) and wrap each burger indiviudally. Put in a fridge for 30 minutes or an hour to ‘form’, freeze the left over wrapped burgers in a large freezer bag, you don’t want it to split and come into direct contact with other foods. To cook burgers from frozen, allow to thaw overnight as this makes it easier to cook. 

Grill the burgers for 3 minutes, flip to the other side till it is thoroughly cooked and the juices are running, ensure the burgers are cooked through. Enjoy with wholemeal burger buns, pitta bread or as a naked burger with salad or low fat vegetable chips – see my last post for ideas.

If using chips, parboil for 5-7 minutes in boiling water. Drain and place in a baking tray drizzle with olive oil and salt. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven temperature, mine was 250c. 

  • Alternative ingredients – 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon of Worcester or BBQ, applesauce if using pork or turkey. Bulgur wheat instead of couscous.

Prepping chips for the freezer 

I got carried away with my food shopping as usual. It was only when I unpacked that I realised I had bought so much vegetables. The question was what do I with all this excess, light bulb moment – chips. 

So I choppe the vegetables into chunky chips and wedges, the result you can see below.

Swede, Carrot,  Celeriac chips and Sweet Potato wedges, before ‘heading’ for the freezer. I have to admit I have tasted carrot chips I am just jumping on the bandwagon, it will be interesting to see if it lives up to the hype!

Baked Swede chips with omelette, sausages and homemade baked beans.

Making use of leftovers 

 

I was in search of something to eat for lunch, on my day off. My fridge was a little (by my standards, I like it fully packed, lol) bear. As I looked I found one plaintain, corn cob and eggs, as I put the ingredients together I had a light bulb moment. I got out the grater, frying pan and olive oil, then began grating the plantain.

Next I beat two eggs, added the grated plaintain, mixed spice, all mixed together, however, I realised the fritters may break so I decided to add a teaspoon of gluten free, while the oil was heating in the frying pan, I decided to boil the corn on a cob.

Below, the mixture or dare I say batter.

 

To ge the best of the fritters, I allowed it to to bubble before turning it over, this was to prevent breakage. The tip is to ensure that the fritters is well cooked on both sides because unlike bananas, plantains should not be eaten raw as it could lead to stomach ache.

Although, an unusual combination I really enjoyed my lunch. You can also use bananas for this recipe, but you will have to mash it instead of grating as it is a lot softer than plantain.

I went food shopping afterwards to stock my fridge and cupboard. It was back to eating properly once again.

 

Banana or Plantain Fritters

Ingredients.

 

1 ripe plantain or 2 small over ripe bananas

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of olive or rapeseed

Pinch of cinamon

1 tea spoon of gluten free or Rice flour (optional)

Accompaniment of your choice

 

Method

Heat oil in a pan

Grate if using plantian or mash banana

Beat egg

Add grated plantain or mashed banana, cinammon, and flour of choice if using.

Mix all ingredients together.

Spoon batter to the pan on medium heat, ensure its bubbling before turning.

Once you notice the bubbles turn and continue to cook on the other side.

Both sides should be slightly golden brown, plate and serve with accompaniment of your choice, enjoy your fritters.

 

 

 

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5 Days of Sandwiches – exciting ideas for your lunch time

​ I often hear people say they don’t like making their own sandwiches because it will mean eating bread everyday. I have told them that sandwiches is not boring it is not all about using sliced bread or rolls everyday but using a variety of breads, wraps, and low carb ingredients.

For example, I buy a packet of turkey wafer to use for the week. Please note I make my sandwiches in the morning not overnight but that’s my preference. You can make yours overnight if that is what works for you.

Below is how I add variety of ways using various (fresh or left over roasted) vegetables and spread.

Day 1 

2 slices of wholemeal bread, spread with Dijon mustard, spinach or lettuce leaves, finish with ham. I don’t add tomatoes as it makes my sandwich soggy.

Day 2

Pitta bread or rice cakes, top with tomatoes or any other vegetables of your choice. Don’t over top up it or it will be difficult to eat.

Day 3

1 wholemeal bread roll or bagel –  with spread of your choice, tomatoes, rocket or watercess or kale, add your filling.

Day 4

Wraps or lettuce leaves. Take another break from bread, split lettuce leaves open, top with tomatoes, and filing. It’s important not to overfill or the leaves will split! For traditional wraps, fill up with ingredients of your choice. 

Day 5

Baguette or panini – What better way to get into the weekend mood than a baguette. I freeze mine on the day of purchase or buy it from the mini supermarket on the way home. If it is from frozen, I put it in the oven for 10 minutes in between getting showered or getting dressed. I like the crispness. With a baguette I just fill it up with all the left over vegetables from the week, wrap it tightly in cling film.

At home

If you don’t work full time or have left over ham at the weekend. You can make yourself a hot toasted sandwich with cheese. Or ham with cheese on toast or toasted panini, etc.

Can I emphaise this article is for illustration purposes only, I am not trying to dictate to anyone. I’m aware that some people don’t like lettuce or tomatoes, so please feel free to use vegetables of your choice. I use other vegetables such as radish, cooked beetroot, fresh herbs, etc.

Sides

I don’t know about countries but us Brits like to eat our sarnies with crisps and a piece of fruit. However, as this is blog is all been healthy, I will recommend baked crisps, mini ryvitas, rice cakes, vegetable crisps, the list goes on, the most important thing is that is it is baked not fried. If you are not a fan of crisps, then carrot batons, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, sliced fruits. Personally I alternate as I like variety.

Tips for newbies 

Invest in a very good quality tupperware, I invested in a brand name which although, expensive I am still using two years, I actually have a wide range of their products to suit my work and picnic needs.

However, if you will rather stick with the traditional – foil, freezer bags, cling film, then be sure to invest in a good lunch bag or box if you don’t want to end up with flat soggy sandwiches.

When making sandwiches overnight keep it in the fridge to maintain freshness.

If your place of work has a fridge, leave your sandwiches in there till lunch time.I have discovered the temperature from the work area can leave sandwiches warm as they have been left out for hours. Otherwise, place cool packs in your lunch box to maintain freshness.

Freeze your breads on day of purchase, take out what you need the night before and keep it in the fridge to defrost.

I hope my example has given you ideas on how to create your very own ‘personalised’ sarnies. You will not only know what has gone in your sarnies but you will be saving money too. 

Have fun creating your very own sarnies

Tips for good smoothies

As we continue to enjoy the summer, my smoothie intake increases. However, we all know how tedious it  can be if we want to have it everyday. I came up with a great way to save myself the hassle of chopping fruits every morning before, waking up extra early was no longer ‘exciting’. So here are my suggestions, which has worked so far. I hope you find it useful.

Chop fruits of choice overnight

Freeze fruits in zip lock freezer bags

These act like ice cubes

If you are short on time, make smoothies (different flavours for varieties) in advance using mason jars. They can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Or in a freezer for a month however, this is not ideal with glass jars. You don’t want to end up swallowing fragments of glass.

Add lemon juice to prevent discolouring if adding fruits such as bananas, avocados, apples and pears

Add old fashioned oats to make your smoothie more filling

Nut butter is a great addition due to its protein and energy content. 

If you run out of milk or juice, just add water. You will still end up with a delicious. This is a good, great idea if you don’t  like sugar or trying to cut it out

Like your smoothie really sweet? Just add a teaspoon of honey or any other liquid sweetner.

Happy smoothie making

Sweet potatoes and avocado brownies

 

I have tried a few healthy brownie recipes but never really like them as they were either tasteless or not healthy enough. So I came up with my own ‘invention’.

 

Here is my take.

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The ingredients I used here are my personal preference. The good thing about this recipe is its versatility you can add whatever you  like as long as the main ingredients are either sweet potatoes or avocados. Vegans can use egg alternatives.

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Cooked sweet potatoes and avocados go into the food processor. You can use a potato masher if you don’t have a processor but prepared for a bit of elbow crease.

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Add cacao powder and the remaining ingredients until smooth

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Pour on to baking tray. In this picture you will see that is not the case,  I invested in a brownie tray cos the brownies are equal. But a regular tray is fine again this is just my personal preference.

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Delicious. Baked brownies,  looks rustic I promise they are yummy-lious

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The brownies rustic on the outside, moist on the inside

Sweet potatoes and Avocados brownies

Ingredients

Sweet potatoes – cooked with skin off
Ripe Avocado
1/2 cupGluten free flour and
1/2 rice, coconut flour
Or Regular plain flour
Buckwheat
Or Oat flour
3-4 teaspoons of Sweetner – stevia, honey, agave
Apple sauce or coconut oil if you don’t like apples
Vanilla essence
2 Eggs, vegans can use egg alternative
Salt
5 teaspoons of cacoa or unsweetened cocoa powder
Pitted dates or carob
1 teaspoon of Cinammon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Blender or potato masher if you don’t have a blender, this may require a bit of elbow grease.
Method

Blend sweet potatoes, avocado, pitted dates (if using) until smooth
Add stevia or your chosen liquid sweetner
Crack one egg at a time, and blend
Add oil or applesauce, vanilla essence
Follow by putting all the dry ingredients and blend until smooth
Pour into your baking or brownie tray
Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven temperature
Allow to cool slightly for about 10 minutes, then slice, serve when it is completely cooled. If you can wait that long.
If you are using a brownie tray, place the slightly cool brownies on a baking rack. Well that is if you have not already eaten about two brownies like I did.
Enjoy with your chosen hot beverage, mine was coffee.
Tip

If you are short on time or like me can’t bothered peeling sweet potatoes, bake them in the oven ahead or on the day. I baked mine the night before, took it out of the fridge the following day and took the skins off.

 

 

 

 

Trans fats – suprisingly good fats

Anyone who is into healthy eating knows how difficult it is to get to grips what to eat or not to eat. So mentioning Fats will actually make someone want to give up, this is because fats  (I had the same experience when I first started) is considered forbidden. I mean the reason for wanting to lose weight in the first place is to give up fatty foods, replacing it with healthy alternatives.  If the phrase good and bad fats had been mentioned when I was starting out I would have given up.

I don’t want anyone who is new to healthy eating reading this to ‘run away’,  please that is not my intention I’m just making a point. I am sure you have heard or read about good and bad fats anyway. There is a lot of confusion/misconception as to what constitutes good and bad fat. The ‘theories ‘ are enough to make anyone ask if it is worth the effort in the first place. Fright not dear friends, I have done a lot of research on the subject, in addition, I have spoken to a nutritionist about this. She was the one who recommended I bring back some of the foods I had omitted ( I think I mentioned this a year ago) such as avocados, low fat spread, light frying with olive oil. You see I had given up on every food with any ounce of fat in it. This made me do more research on fats, I have also spoken to my doctor about, yes I do ask a lot of questions when it comes to my healthy, why shouldn’t I?

I have put together examples I found online which gives an insight into the foods we eat and what trans fats means.  I also found one very surprising fact Ricotta cheese is lower in fat than Peanut butter. I don’t like ricotta much because I have always considered it to be very fattening. For someone who thoroughly reads food labels before dumping in her shopping basket at the supermarket I can’t believe  I never linked both products, it is probably because I shop for them at various times, in addition, one is a cupboard item the other is for the fridge. I did stop eating peanut for a while but it was one of the products I was advised to re-introduce into my diet, I only go for the pure version as the popular brands are loaded with sugar.  See the break down below of these and other foods. I decided to go with one source (BBC Food online) for a change as I found the articles easy to understand, nothing to do with my Britishness, I promise, lol.

Ricotta
Per serving: 28g
Calories: 49kcal
Fat: 3.7g
Sat fat: 2.4g
Protein: 4.6g
Salt: 52mg

Peanut butter
Per serving (one tablespoon/16g)
Calories: 94kcal
Fat: 8g
Sat fat: 1.7g
Protein: 4g
Salt: 6.25mg

Other foods
Egg
One medium egg is 65 calories, mostly made up of protein and only 1.3g of sat fat, 1.7g of monounsaturated and 0.7g of polyunsaturated fat. Eggs are also very nutritionally dense – providing Vitamin A, C, D, B, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Walnuts
These nuts are full of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which we can’t get into our bodies any other way other than through what we eat. One serving (28g) contains 183kcal and 18g of fat, but 13g of that is polyunsaturated fat. A few walnuts are a satisfying snack with a lot of good fats.
Olive Oil.
Olive oil is held up as one of the healthy fats you should eat more of. If you have one tablespoon of olive oil a day (say in a salad dressing) which is 13.5g, you’ll take in 119 calories and 10g of monounsaturated fat. But be warned – it is still calorie-dense and too much of it will affect your waistline.
Toast: Butter v spread
Butter is about 80% saturated fat, or 30kcal per teaspoon, and this high fat content meant that in the past people were actively encouraged to use lower-fat spreads instead.
Saturated fat is made up of saturated fatty acids, which are thought to pack tightly together in your bloodstream and increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
Butter is now thought to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, at the same time and is a good source of vitamins A, D and E.
Meanwhile, the average saturated fat content of a spread is about 60%. It contains fewer calories than butter – about 21kcal teaspoon. One myth surrounding spreads sold in the UK is that they contain high amounts of trans fats, made when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation.
Trans fats can raise bad LDL cholesterol levels and actually suppress the production of HDL, or good cholesterol.

But in recent years spreads sold in the UK have been reformulated and now contain no or minimal amounts of trans fats, according to the British Nutrition Foundation.

Some nutritionists believe spreads with high polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are generally plant-based – for instance, olive oil – are the best for your health.

End of BBC Article

My final thoughts, I am still staying away from butter, in spite of the research, I have an olive  based spread  instead. I have it this once or twice a week or sometimes not at all, as this I don’t eat bread every week, it is also because I prefer avocado as a spread. This is another article for another day. Whichever one of the items Iisted you decide go to or not go with, always remember the saying ‘everything in moderation’.