lemon-scented cous-cous salad

Lemon-scented cous-cous salad

This fat-free, low-carb, low-calorie salad is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach

Lemon-scented cous-cous salad, served with seared tuna steak

I’ve created this salad for my pre-surgery diet before my weight-loss surgery, but despite the lemon-scent (obtained from grating in some lemon zest), if you take out the tomatoes and replace them with additional vegetables, e.g. cucumber, sweetcorn, freshly shelled peas etc, it is also suitable for anyone following a reflux diet.  I am tolerating tomatoes quite well now my reflux has settled down a lot, and as my diet is so severely restricted for these few days before my surgery, I have opted to use the tomatoes. 

You can have this salad on its own, or serve it with a variety of meat or fish.  In this instance, I served it with a delicious seared tuna steak, seasoned with sea salt, garlic and chilli. 

Ingredients (for one generous portion)

  • Three small tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (see note above if you are following a reflux diet)
  • 1/3rd of a red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3rd of a yellow pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 2tbsp cooked cous-cous
  • 1tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • zest of 1/3rd of a lemon, finely grated
  • sea salt, to taste

Method

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve & enjoy!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or medical professional.  These are simply ideas based on meals I have created to suit my own dietary needs and, as I’ve enjoyed them, I wanted to share them. If you are unsure about the suitability of any ingredients or recipes on my blog for your own requirements, please check with a health professional first. 

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Hearty vegetable soup with tomatoes and chicken

This is another one of my low-cal, low-carb, low-fat recipes for my pre-op diet before I have weight loss surgery next week. 

Hearty vegetable soup with tomatoes and chicken - gloriouslygoodfood.com

The recipe is one of those ‘chuck things in’ kind of recipes, so the vegetable quantities are approximate.  Play around with it and find what suits your palate in terms of actual vegetables used and ratio of one to another 🙂

Ingredients (for two hearty / filling portions containing virtually no fat and half the amount of protein I was advised to have in one day during my pre-op diet)

  • 1 chicken thigh (boneless, skinless, all visible fat removed), approx. 100g raw weight
  • 1l chicken stock (I make this with 2 Knorr chicken stock pots and 1l water, but you can make your own low-fat stock or buy other stock cubes / pots)
  • 2-3 baby carrots or one standard carrot, scraped, topped and tailed (cut into smaller chunks if using a standard size carrot)
  • 2-3 broccoli florets
  • Approximately 200g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 very small potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 small courgette, cut into chunky slices

Method

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until all ingredients are cooked and the harder vegetables are tender enough to break easily with a spoon. 

Once the soup is cooked, remove the chicken thigh and set it aside, then place the remaining ingredients (all stock and all vegetables) into a food processor.  Blend until smooth or, if you prefer, leave a few chunkier pieces in. 

Chop the chicken into pea-size pieces.  As this makes two portions,
place half the chicken pieces into a food storage container or bag and add half the soup.

If you don’t want that much soup in one go, you can of course split this into more portions.  If you are following a pre-op diet like mine, make sure you have enough protein in your other meal of the day if you have less than half the chicken thigh in one meal.

Serve the remaining half of soup, with the remaining half of chopped chicken pieces, immediately. 

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or medical professional.  These are simply ideas based on meals I have created to suit my own dietary needs and, as I’ve enjoyed them, I wanted to share them. If you are unsure about the suitability of any ingredients or recipes on my blog for your own requirements, please check with a health professional first. 

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

Rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes | Pomodori ripieni al riso con patate

This recipe for rice-stuffed tomatoes was originally my Nonna Wanda’s recipe, with the addition of potatoes made by my Zia Emilia to make it more authentically Roman.

Here is a photo of the recipe as cooked by my Zia Emilia in Rome on my last visit, in May 2017:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes made by zia Emilia | pomodori ripieni di riso con le patate, fatti da zia Emilia

And here is my latest rendition of this delicious dish:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

The quantities and timings etc in this recipe are, as many of the recipes passed down from generation to generation in our family, vague and open to interpretation / personal touch, but I’ve tried to be a bit more precise so you can follow it, too 🙂

Ingredients (for 3-6 people, depending on whether it is a starter, main course, or side dish): 

  • 6 large beef tomatoes
  • Arborio rice (approximately 2 small fistfuls per tomato)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley (a good handful)
  • Fresh basil (a good handful)
  • Half a medium onion
  • Freshly-grated parmesan cheese (a couple of handfuls)
  • Potatoes (5-6 medium sized ones) – watch this video for the best way to cut potatoes the Italian way
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Method

Here is the hand-written recipe written down by my Zia Emilia as dictated by her mum, my Nonna Wanda, when Zia Emilia was preparing to get married and leave home.  You can see the addition of the potatoes on page 2:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg1

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg2

Start by cutting the potatoes.  Ideally, do these the Italian way (watch video) – this allows them to cook slightly unevenly, giving you lovely crispy edges and soft centres.

Tip: Cutting potatoes this way and roasting them with rosemary and olive oil is a delicious Italian way to do roast potatoes!

Place these into an oven dish and set aside for now.

Then cut the tops off the tomatoes (think little ‘hats’).  Slice two thin strips off the ‘discarded’ tomato tops and set aside (you’ll use these later for decoration, to top your stuffed tomatoes), and chop up the remaining ‘discarded’ tops into small pieces.  Add these small pieces to the potatoes.  Season the potatoes and tomato pieces with a generous sprinkling of sea salt, add a generous glug of olive oil, toss, and place in a pre-heated oven (fan-assisted 180­°C) for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the rice: 

Place the rice in cold water, add a generous sprinkling of sea salt, and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so (check this as not all rice cooks at the same rate – you want to make sure the rice is still a little bit uncooked at the end of this stage).

While the rice is cooking, finely chop the half onion and soften it in a pan with a generous amount of olive oil, over a low heat (let the onion soften slowly, making sure it does not go brown). Finely chop the parsley and basil, and add these to the onion just as the rice is nearly ready at the not quite cooked stage. Make sure you don’t fry the herbs for too long.

Drain the rice, leaving it quite wet, and saving the cooking water.  Add the rice to the pan with the olive oil, onion and herbs and stir, letting the rice continue to cook like a risotto.  You may need to add some of the cooking water to allow it to remain moist and cook until it is cooked, but still ‘al dente’. Make sure you don’t over-stir as this breaks up the rice grains.

Take it off the heat once it’s cooked and stir in about 2/3rds of the parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

Return to the tomatoes you previously removed the tops from. Carefully hollow these out with a spoon (the insides with the seeds are my favourite part of the tomato – I always used to eagerly await this stage when my Nonna made stuffed tomatoes, and still do when my Zia does them, so I could eat them, seasoned with a bit of salt).

Lightly season the insides of the hollow tomatoes with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Once the potatoes have had about 25 minutes in the oven, take the oven dish out and give them a bit of a stir. Turn the oven down to 150°C (fan).

Take each hollow tomato and fill it as high as you can with the cooked rice mixture. Make a space amongst the potatoes and place the tomato in that space.  Repeat with each tomato, then sprinkle some parmesan onto each stuffed tomato and, finally, top each one with two strips of the tomato ‘lids’ you cut out earlier.

Place the dish back into the oven and bake until the tomatoes are very soft and the rice has a crispy parmesan topping.  The potatoes should be cooked and golden, not overly brown.  This takes approximately 40-45 minutes.

Serve on their own, as a side-dish, or as a starter.  These are also delicious once they’ve cooled down a little to luke-warm.

Enjoy!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!