A CRACKING GOOD EASTER!
Easter just happens to be one of my most favourite times of the year, even more so than Christmas. Perhaps it’s because it signals new beginnings, the weather is usually warm and spring-like, and the food on offer reflects the start of the new culinary year. I’m always itching to cook with new season lamb, fresh herbs, early pink rhubarb and tender spears of asparagus.
And then there’s the chocolate, the iced baked concoctions, and the candied treats to negotiate! And somehow we do….
After almost 5 years post-surgery I find that the easiest way to negotiate this holiday menu is to enjoy a little but not a lot. Some will find it better to just avoid the sweet treats if it means an avalanche of temptation comes in its wake but I find just a little treat means I don’t feel deprived nor miss out on the fun and traditions we enjoy in the family. You’ll know which camp you fall into. But just remember if you do over-indulge then just put it behind you after the break and make solid attempts to get back on track. The weight-loss surgery journey is no race to the tape, has its peaks and troughs, and often enough there isn’t a finishing line, just a steady trot around the track.
So my Easter newsletter this year offers some quick and easy ideas for Easter eating; some ways in which you can dispense with the chocolate fest and celebrate in non-food ways; and then some recipes that can grace your dining table this holiday time to be enjoyed with friends and family alike – and with the occasional treat!
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SO LET’S GET CRACKING….
Eggs have to be one of the best food choices for bariatrics. Full of protein and other essential nutrients, they are the one-person-sized, quick to cook, infinitely versatile and easy on the wallet option.
* this Easter we shall have them boiled for breakfast, but served rather decadently with cooked asparagus spears for dipping. Simply steam or boil spears for 4-6 minutes, depending upon thickness, until tender and serve with soft-boiled/cooked eggs. Wrap in a slice of Parma ham with a few slivers of Parmesan cheese for something more substantial for brunch.
* or make some all-in-one breakfast cups by lining each hole of a non-stick muffin/cupcake tray with a slice of ham, then crack in an egg and bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes until cooked. Add a little cooked sausage, chopped tomato, pepper/capsicum or spring onion/scallion, spoonful of baked beans or chopped cooked mushrooms before adding the egg for something heartier. These are also delicious cold with salad for a lunchbox or light lunch dish, so don’t be afraid to make plenty!
BE A JOLLY GOOD EGG!
There are lots of ways that you can be a good egg to family and friends at Easter without over-loading them with chocolate. Consider:
* buying them a special egg cup, piece of china (like a wonderful teacup) or one of my favourites a ‘handbag’ with a difference – a great talking point! Would also make a great hen-party gift!
* greet family and friends with an Easter themed door wreath rather than the usual bowl of chocolate treats (that are so tempting to dip into). Have a mini raffle and let the winner take it away with them. You could do the same with a table decoration.
* encourage children away from an all-chocolate egg fest by suggesting painting some eggs – it’s so easy and will keep them entertained for hours. Offer a prize for the best decorated egg!
* seek out none-food treats for your Easter egg hunt – the youngest in my family are getting slippers this year (although I might tuck a small chocolate egg in each). Wish they made these for adults…
* bariatrics and those wishing to cut down or control their portion sizes might also want a bariatric portion plate – it’s the gift they can continue to use all year round. Hop to it and order from www.bariatriccookery.com/product/bariatric-portion-plate
AND NOW THE EGG-CITING RECIPES:
QUAIL’S EGG AND 3 BEAN SALAD
I personally love quail’s eggs – they seem to have been designed, size-wise, for bariatrics, and they are now found in most supermarkets. If you prefer to use hen’s eggs then simply use 2 and quarter or cut into wedges to serve. I have deliberately kept this salad meat-less and suitable for vegetarians but some chopped ham, chicken, flaked fish or other deli meats can be added if liked. This is a salad recipe that I have tried and adapted from the Balance Box delivery service (which I have reviewed on the website before) see www.balancebox.com for more details.
150 g/5 oz baby potatoes, scrubbed and halved
150 g/5 oz fine green beans, trimmed
6 fresh quail’s eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp cold water
2 spring onions/scallions, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100 g/1 cup cooked or canned cannellini beans
100 g/1 cup cooked or canned butter beans
1 tbsp snipped fresh chives
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1. Place the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and simmer until cooked – about 10-15 minutes. Drain and cool.
2. Meanwhile, blanch the beans by adding to a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and cool under cold water then drain again.
3. Cook the quail’s eggs in boiling water for 2 minutes, remove, place in a bowl of cold water until cool, drain, peel away the shell then cut in half.
4. To make the dressing, mix the lemon juice with the chilli, cold water, spring onions/scallions and salt and pepper to taste.
5. To assemble the salad, mix the beans with the herbs, potatoes, green beans, quail’s eggs and prepared dressing in a bowl and toss to mix. Serve at once.
WLS PORTION: ½
V suitable for Vegetarians
CALORIES PER PORTION: 208
WHAM BAM – THANK YOU LAMB!
Whether you prefer to stuff yours with rosemary and garlic, serve with redcurrant or mint jelly or keep it simple with just a dash of mint sauce, lamb is at its melt-in-the-mouth best at this time of year. Many butchers and supermarkets also have half-price deals too so it’s much more affordable.
I do like my leg of lamb roasted pink but the timing can be unforgiving. At times like this I therefore prefer to slow-roast a shoulder of lamb with shallots for a meltingly tender roast that barely needs carving (just pulling apart into chunks) to serve with the best of seasonal vegetables. This recipe is a real winner and is great with a fresh green vegetable like shredded cabbage and potatoes in any guise. Ask your butcher to take the bone out of the shoulder but to give it to you to use in the pan when roasting – it helps to flavour the juices for making a gravy.
SLOW-COOKED SHOULDER OF LAMB WITH SHALLOTS
1 large (about 2.5 kg/5 lb) shoulder of lamb, boned
1 head of garlic
½ bunch fresh rosemary
200 g/7 oz small peeled carrots
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 g/14 oz whole round peeled shallots
1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
pinch of flour
1. Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 300 F/gas mark 2. Cut away any excess fat from the lamb shoulder. Pierce several times with a sharp knife and insert a sliver of garlic and a sprig of rosemary in each incision.
2. Place the lamb bones in a roasting pan, top with the lamb joint and add the carrots and salt and pepper to taste. Cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 3 hours.
3. Remove the foil and cook for a further 1 hour.
4. Add the shallots and cook, uncovered for a further 1 hour or until the lamb is very tender and the shallots are cooked. Remove the lamb and vegetables from the pan to a heated serving plate, cover with foil and leave to stand in a warm place until ready to serve. Remove and discard the lamb bones from the pan. Skim the meat juices to remove as much fat as possible.
5. To make the gravy, add the tomato paste and flour to the pan juices and heat gently on the hob to cook the flour, stirring constantly. Gradually add the stock (the quantity depends upon how thick you like your gravy to be – anything up to 1 litre/4¼ cups) and bring to the boil. Strain through a sieve to serve with the lamb, carrots and shallots.
WLS PORTION: ½
CALORIES PER PORTION: 310
QUICK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
This has to be the simplest and quickest chocolate mousse recipe I know and all you require are 2 ingredients – chocolate and eggs (both in abundance at Easter). For each regular portion (or about 2 bariatric portions) you need 25 g/1 oz chocolate and 1 egg. I use a no-added sugar chocolate but it works with any – diabetic, regular, plain, milk and flavoured varieties.
Simply melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water or in the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Separate the egg and add the yolk to the chocolate and mix well. Whisk the egg white until it stands in stiff peaks and then fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon into a glass and chill to set.
The mixture can be flavoured with orange zest or chopped ginger if liked. Serve topped with a little low-fat cream or yogurt if liked and decorated with optional fresh fruit in season. Easy-peasy but looks a million dollars!
CALORIES PER REGULAR PORTION: 182
PROTEIN: 8.1 g
V suitable for Vegetarians
FINALLY … YOUR CHOCOLATE EASTER TREAT
You really didn’t think I would forget did you? Here’s another quick chocolate recipe – this time for something like a truffle. Only these bite-sized balls of scrumptiousness are loaded with fruit and nuts and would certainly pass muster with anyone looking for an Easter treat – bariatric or otherwise. I did press a chocolate candy-coated mini egg into one for a special non-bariatric treat but they really don’t need it.
FRUIT, NUT AND CHOCOLATE EASTER BITES
To make about 20, put 100 g/4 oz mixed nuts (that you have soaked in water for 8 hours – which reduces the need to add oil), 100 g/4 oz soft dried prunes and 100 g/4 oz soft dried apricots in a food processor and blitz until they are well broken up and have formed a soft doughy mixture that holds together in a ball. Remove and stir in 2 tbsp cocoa powder – it will take a little time but will mix in. Divide and roll into about 20 balls and coat each with a little extra cocoa powder to finish.
CALORIES PER TRUFFLE: 49
V suitable for Vegetarians
AND FOR MORE IDEAS:
There are more recipe ideas for Easter eating on the website see:
Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes (www.bariatriccookery.com/chocolate-easter-treat-enjoy)
Bacon crushed Jersey Royals with Roast Cod (www.bariatriccookery.com/bacon-crushed-jersey-royals-roast-cod)
Hot Cross Buns (www.bariatriccookery.com/easter-treat)
http://www.ukshallot.com for Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb with Shallots
http://www.balancebox.com for Quail’s Egg and 3 Bean Salad