The skies have finally gone gray in Brisbane and the wind is chilly enough to cook warm, wintery foods! What usually comes hand-in-hand with winter weather is a few extra kilos that often lands right in the places we don't want it to (such as our stomach, inner thighs, butt, hips). What if there was a way to cook delicious warm wonderful winter food without stacking on the kilos? This is definitely achieveable, if you steer clear from certain ingredients, which are listed below:
Cream: AVOID it at all costs. In Australia the levels of fat in cream are not regulated, therefore labels are solely under the control of the manufacturers. Therefore the fat content in cream products may be considerably higher than what is actually listed on the label. Cream is basically fat skimmed off the top of milk and is no good for us. As a substitute, use vegetable, chicken or beef stock. Massel makes a great stock that is gluten-free, dairy-free, preservative-free and low in fat and is available in all major supermarkets.
Butter: Skip it. The problem with butter is that it contains two cholesterol-raising ingredients: dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. High-cholesterol is a serious issue that many Australian's face. It is recommended that a healthy person consumes no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day. Butter has 33 milligrams of cholesterol in just one tablespoon! Saturated fats increase the 'bad' cholesterol in the body. Alternatives you could use include healthy oils, such as coconut, grapeseed and avocado oil.
Fatty meat: Always buy lean meat. Avoid meat that has ample amounts of fat in it, such as rump steak, gravy beef, ribs, chicken wings and chicken thighs. Purchase eye fillet steaks, chicken breast, turkey breast and fish. Try to purchase meat that has an Extra Lean sticker on it whenever possible. Even if the lean meat costs more, consider how much healthier it is for your insides and rationalise it.
Below are two healthy and satisfying recipes for you to use this winter. All are gluten-free, dairy-free and preservative-free.
Potato & Leek Soup
800g sebago potatoes, peeled and diced into 4cm equal pieces
1 leek, finely sliced
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
sea salt & black pepper
1. Place the potatoes, leek, onion, garlic, rosemary and stock in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the potato is very tender (that is, you can stick a fork into a piece of potato without any force or trouble). Take the saucepan away from the heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
2. Place the potato stock mixture into a food processor or blender and process/blend for only a few seconds until smooth and no lumps remain. Serve warm with sea salt & pepper.
Serves / 4
Total Preparation time / 10 minutes
Total Cooking time / 25-27 minutes (including cooling time)
Creamy Pea & Basil Soup (without the cream!)
500g frozen peas, thawed
2 x 400g cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Place 350g of the peas and the cannellini beans, garlic and stock in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, simmering for 10 minutes.
2. Transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Add the remaining peas and return to the stove, bringing to the boil again. Cook for 3 minutes until the peas are soft.
3. Place the basil, sunflower seeds, lemon rind and juice in a medium bowl and mix well to combine.
4. Transfer soup to serving bowls. Top each bowl with a spoonful of the fresh basil and sunflower mixture. Serve warm.