May 2013

Do you like your … snacks?

If you like grabbing an afternoon snack you probably wonder if snacks are healthful?

Snacks can make a healthful eating plan even better. Snacks can shorten the time your body goes without fuel and keep you from overeating at meals. Plan for snacks every three to four hours, about the length of time a meal keeps you fueled.

In addition to when you do it, what you snack on also makes a difference. Experts recommend that you choose snacks that provide a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, one gives quick energy, the other slower fuel. Try a piece of fruit and a graham cracker, a bagel topped with low-fat cheese, lowfat yogurt mixed with whole grain cereal, or dip pretzels into a low-fat yogurt dip.

When you work snacks into a healthful eating plan, you’ll find controlling portions at meals gets much easier. So snack for health.

Starters & Salads

There is nothing better than a fresh salad full of vitamins. But if you don’t like salads, don’t worry. Vegetables can be prepared in different ways and can be served as a tasty appetiser or a side dish.

Egg & Spinach Lunch (StartersSalads)

Ingredients:

2 eggs
300 gr fresh spinach, washed, big stalks removed
2 tbsp creme freche
200 gr mushrooms, washed and dried
mixed italian herbs
salt & pepper
2 tbsp butter

How to prepare:

In a large lidded pan melt 1 tbsp butter, add the spinach and cover. Stir after a minute and saute for further 2-3 minutes until the spinach is cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl mix 2 tbsp creme freche with italian herbs

In a pan melt 1 tbsp butter, add the whole mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionaly.

Fry 2 eggs in a frying pan with a little oil.

To assemble the dish – arrange half the spinach, top with half the creme freche mixture, place the fried egg on top and arrange half the mushrooms around. Serve with toased bread.

Serves 2.
Tuna & Avocado Salad (StartersSalads)

Ingredients:

1/2 pack mixed salad (rocket, lettuce, lollo rosso etc.)
1 avocado (the one with the softer skin), sliced finely
1/3 cucumber, chopped in small pieces
2 spring onions, cleaned and chopped finely
1 can tuna flakes, drained
2-3 mushrooms, washed, dried and sliced

Dressing:

3 tbsp Hellmans Light Mayonaise
1 tbsp original Dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp basil & rocket pesto (or normal pesto)

How to prepare:

Prepare the dressing by mixing all dressing ingredients.
Arrange the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl and mix well with the dressing.

Enjoy as a starter on its own or a refreshing light lunch or dinner.

Serves: 4 as a salad or 1-2 as a lunch/dinner
Cherry Tomato and Anchovy Bruschetta (StartersSalads)

Ingredients:

2 small French sticks
2-3 crushed garlic cloves,
extra virgin oil
salt
black pepper
225g/8oz cherry tomatoes, sliced
75g/3oz anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained

Preparation:

Cut the bread diagonally across into thin slices. Heat a ridged cast iron griddle pan over a medium heat, add some of the bread slices and grill for about 1 minute on each side until golden. Alternatively, use your toaster.
As soon as the bread is ready, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle crushed garlic, some salt and pepper.
Finally, top each slice of bread with 2 slices of tomato and 1 anchovy fillet.

Serve warm.
Bacon, Corn and Avocado Salad (StartersSalads)

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

8 slices bacon
2 heads butterhead lettuce
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato
2 avacados – peeled, pitted and cubed
1 can sweet corn (drained)
2-3 spring onions
2/3 cup red wine and vinegar salad dressing
3 tablespoons blue cheese salad dressing

How to prepare:

Saute bacon in a large, deep frying pan over medium high heat until evenly brown. Set aside. Cut into strips.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, chopped tomato, red bell pepper, spring onions and corn, and mix together. Carefully stir in the cubed avocado.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the red wine and vinegar dressing and the blue cheese dressing.

Pour the dressing mixture over the salad and toss. Add bacon just before serving to keep it crunchy.
Bruschetta (StartersSalads)

Brushetta (pronounced ‘brusketa’ in Italy) are very easy to do and you could use your imagination as to how to prepare it. Below is a recipe for the most popular bruschetta with garlic and tomatoes. But you can use soft cheese, fried aubergines, pesto and/or parmesan instead of tomatoes for your topping.

Ingredients:
450g tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
6 slices french bread, toasted
salt and pepper to season.

How to prepare
Mix together all ingredients apart from the bread. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon tomato mixture on the hot toasted bread and serve.
Spicy Croutons for any salad (StartersSalads)

Ingredients to make 1 1/2 cup of croutons:
4 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dry mixed herbes (thyme, oregano, rosemary etc.)
or if using fresh herbes, please chop very fine
pinch of hot paprika
3 thick slices French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

How to prepare:
Preheat oven to 175C.
In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat, stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute, add the bread cubes, sprinkle the mixed herbs and hot paprika and toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp and dry. Cool and serve with your favourite salad.
Bulgur Salad (StartersSalads)

Ingredients for 4:
1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 cup chicken stock/broth
1 small cucumber chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
3 green (spring) onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 tablespoon chili powder
1 pinch garlic powder

How to prepare:
Place bulgur in a colander, rinse under cold running water, drain and transfer to a small bowl.
In a saucepan bring the chicken stock to a boil, stir in the bulgur, remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour.
Stir in the cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and onions into the bulgur.
In a small bowl whisk the lime juice, chili powder and garlic powder together. Pour over the bulgur mixture and mix well.
Cover and chill for 2 hours before serving.
Asparagus with Tarragon Butter (StartersSalads)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons tarragon (fresh or dry)
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus spears
1 leek

How to prepare:
In a small bowl combine butter, tarragon, onion salt, and lemon pepper seasoning. Set aside.

Wash asparagus and remove tough ends. Divide into 8 bundles; tie each with a leek leaf. Place bundles on your BBQ or under a grill for about 10 minutes or until tender, turning once halfway through grilling time. Serve with the prepared butter.

Serves 8
Baba Ganouzh – A Lebanese Starter/Dip (StartersSalads)

2 medium aubergines
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste
2 tsp fresh garlic chopped finely
3 tbsp Sesame tahini paste (Health Shops sell it)
a small bunch of parsley shopped
1/2 cup Toasted pine nuts or peanuts
2 tbsp Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 220C and cook the aubergines (prick them first with a fork) until the skin gets slightly burned (about 30 minutes, turn occasionally). Remove from oven, leave for few minutes to cool, then halve and carefully scoop out the flesh. Blend in a food processor with the lemon juice until smooth, add the garlic, salt and the tahini paste. Finally add the chopped parsley and nuts. Drizzle with olive oil and serve. Serve with flat (pita) bread or toast.
Bulgarian Potato Salad (StartersSalads)

Serve as garnish to grilled or BBQ’ed meat. Or enjoy on its own.
Ingredients for 4:
4-5 large potatos
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 spring onions
juice of 1/2 a lemon
olive oil
fresh parsley or dill

How to prepare:
Peel and boil the potatos for about 20-25 minutes, drain and leave to cool.
In a salad bowl – add the finely chopped spring onions, salt, pepper to taste, the lemon juice and olive oil, and mix gently. Cut the potatos into cubes and add the the salad bowl. Gently mix, sprinkle with parsley or dill if you serve the salad with fish.
Stuffed Mushrooms – a great starter or a side dish (StartersSalads)

Ingredients

allow 3-4 mushrooms per portion
1 medium finely chopped onion
15-18 medium size mushroom or 4-5 jumbo mushrooms
salt, pepper
1 chopped garlic clove
paprika
oil

How to cook:
Wash and dry the mushrooms. Remove the stalks and chop finely. Mix with the finely chopped onion. Heat a pan, add little oil and fry the mixture for 3-5 minutes, add the chopped garlic, season with salt, pepper and paprika and remove from the oil.

Arrange the mushrooms in a greased roasting tin, fill them with the hot mixture and cook in a preheated oven 200C for about 10-15 minutes or until the mushrooms have softened.

You can serve on their own, you can pour over sour cream, or you can use them as a garnish with your favourite steak.
My Favourite Salad (StartersSalads)

150 gr. of mixed salad leaves
(iceberg lettuce, frilly endive, red radiccio etc.),
4 spring onions,
2 medium tomatoes,
3 mushrooms,
1 medium avocado,
chopped parsley (optional).

Dressing – 3 tbs. olive oil, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper, 1 tsp Dijon mustard – mixed well together.

How to prepare:
Arrange the salad leaves in a big bowl, add the finely chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, tomatoes and avocado. Sprinkle with parsley and dress. Delicious with hot garlic bread.
Aubergines in a Tomato Sauce – (StartersSalads)

Ingredients for 4

2 medium aubergines (cut in thin slices),
frying oil, 50-80 gr. of plain white flour,
1 can of chopped tomatoes,
2 garlic cloves (crushed),
chopped parsley.

How to cook:
This dish is best prepared at least few hours in advance. After cutting the aubergines into slices season with salt and leave aside for 10 minutes and drain any water. According to the original recipe, dip each slice into the flour and fry in a pan. You can also use a deep-fat fryer. Or you can just grill them for 5-10 minutes each side after brushing them with little oil. Leave to cool.

For the tomato sauce, heat little oil in a pan, add half of the crushed garlic and stir, add the can of tomatoes and simmer until the sauce has thickened, add the rest of the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Take off the hob and add the chopped parsley.

In a dish arrange a layer sauce followed by a layer of aubergines. Cool in a fridge for few hours or just serve.
Courgettes in a joghurt sauce – a great starter or a side dish (StartersSalads)s

Ingredients for 2-3

2 courgettes (cut in thin slices),
frying oil,
50-80 gr. of plain white flour,
500 gr. natural live or Greek style joghurt,
2 garlic cloves (crushed),
chopped fresh dill.

How to cook:
This dish is best prepared at least few hours in advance. After cutting the courgettes into slices season with salt and leave aside for 10 minutes, then dip each slice into the flour and fry in a pan. You can also use a deep-fat fryer but the courgettes may become a bit oily. Leave to cool. Mix the crushed garlic and chopped dill with the joghurt. In a dish arrange a layer joghurt followed by a layer of fried courgettes. Cool in a fridge for few hours or just serve.
Snezhanka/Tarator – (StartersSalads)

Ingredients for 2-3:

500 gr. Greek Style joghurt,
half a cucumber,
1 finely chopped garlic clove,
salt , 1 tbs. of olive oil,
fresh dill – finely chopped

How to prepare:
Snezhanka – dip style version. Peel the skin of the cucumber using a potato peeler, chop in small pieces, squeeze between your hands to drain most of the water, season with salt, add the chopped garlic, olive oil and dill, and leave for 10 minutes. Then add the joghurt and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Tarator – cold soup version. Prepare in the same way as Snezhanka, but do not squeeze the water. Dilute the joghurt with 1 cup of cold water, stir well and mix with the seasoned cucumber. Perfect for a hot summer’s lunch.
Shopska Salad – a Bulgarian favourite (StartersSalads)

Ingredients for 4:

4 spring onions,
4 medium size tomatoes,
half a cucumber,
1 green pepper,
1 red pepper,
optional: olives
chopped parsley,
grated feta cheese to sprinkle salad,
salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil

How to prepare:
Cut all ingredients in slices or cubes. Season with salt, pepper, add the chopped parsley, 1 tbs. of vinegar and 2 tbs. of olive oil and mix well. Sprinkle with feta cheese and enjoy either on its own or as a side dish.