I have done something quite unprecedented recently…I’ve decided to cut out crisps, chocolate, cake (yes, really), burgers, butter…basically all the rich, fattening, decadent, indulgent food I feast on daily. I don’t want to bore you with the reasons why, but for now I’m just taking a little break so I can feel a bit cleaner and healthier. I’ve been at it for 4 weeks now and I must admit, I feel a lot better. I feel lighter, full of energy, I’m sleeping better, I’m able to focus at work better and therefore I’m being a lot more productive. Its amazing. I wish someone had told me this sooner!
Anyway, I’ve found it rather challenging coming up with different meals to have each day that are healthy, low in fat and calories, but also tasty. I find it easier at lunchtime as I work in Central London and I’m surrounded by hundreds of healthy lunch options, but dinner is a different matter. Turn back a few weeks and my usual after-work routine was to meet a friend somewhere in Soho for a bite to eat…a burger with fries one night, truffle mac n cheese the next night, tapas the night after that…you get the picture. Over the last few weeks however, I’ve been heading straight home to cook my meals from scratch. Nothing processed, nothing pre-prepared, just simple, good ingredients.
So with this in mind, I made some mixed stuffed peppers the other day. I had two sweet Romano peppers and decided to fill one with a mix of quinoa, cherry tomatoes, red onion and pine nuts, and the other with couscous, pistachios, olives, pomegranate seeds and mint.
I began by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, then slicing the peppers lengthways and removing all seeds.
I then placed them on a baking sheet and spritzed with a few sprays of cooking spray. If you’re not looking to cut fat or calories you can simply drizzle with oil. I placed them in the oven for approx 10 minutes, until they softened.
Whilst they were in the oven I made some couscous (I put 70g in a bowl and covered with hot chicken stock until it had been absorbed. You can use hot water if you prefer, the stock just gives it more flavour), added 10g of chopped pistachio nuts, a sliced spring onion, a grated garlic clove, some torn mint leaves, a squeeze of lemon and some seat salt and pepper. Then I decided to add a few black olives, sliced.
Next I cooked 30g quinoa and added to it 3 sun dried tomatoes (when I took them out the oil I pressed them in some kitchen towel to get rid of the excess oil), 40g fresh cherry tomatoes (chopped), 7g of toasted pine nuts, a finely chopped slice of red onion which I’d gently fried with a couple of sprays of cooking oil, a few torn basil leaves and salt & pepper.
Then I drizzled each half with a little olive oil and put the peppers back into the oven for about 15 minutes.
I then served with mixed leaves, and topped the couscous with pomegranate seeds.
This was so delicious and even better…healthy and low in calories and fat. Adding up the ingredients on the app My Fitness Pal, I worked out that the two couscous halves came to a total of 360 calories and the two quinoa halves came to 215 calories. So if you fancy a half of each with some salad leaves, the meal comes to under 300 calories. Not bad at all!