One of my favourite pies is steak and ale. Unfortunately, its really not healthy eating friendly. A pub version of steak and ale pie with mash and peas can have you eating around 1,000 calories. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not waste my calories on a pie! I was having a flick through my recipe books and got an idea for my own beef pie from the Hairy Bikers. They use pizza base mix instead of pastry – genius! I wasn’t too keen on their ingredients, so I switched it up for my own version of a skinny beef pie. I know, shocker isn’t it?
I already had some Quorn mince in the freezer, so I tossed out the beef from this beef pie. By all means, use extra lean beef mince or even turkey mince if you like. I also didn’t want to use any sort of potato as the pizza base was going to make this quite a carby meal. So I swapped the ale for a flavourful thick beef stock and potatoes for cannellini beans. Each pie only clocks in at 318 calories and a massive 15g of protein. This can make up for the fact that this is a bit high in carbs. Every now and then you can allow an indulgent carby meal! Before attempting to make this dish I should let you know this is based off of 6 individual pies and you will need individual pie dishes. This is a time consuming dish due to making up the pizza base dough, so this may be best kept as a weekend meal or on a day where you have a free afternoon. Likewise, the pie filling can be made up in advance and put in the fridge.
Usually when I think up a new recipe it’s because I’ve craved something I shouldn’t really be eating. I then mess around with ingredients and cooking methods to come up with a healthier version. This time, my husband came to me with a request. He mentioned that his boss at work made a really good beef stew and he wanted Ian to try it. I had a look at the recipe and I have to admit, it sounded amazing. The original recipe came in at around 550 calories, so not too bad considering. I could have just made it straight from the recipe I was given, but there were a few bits I already knew I wouldn’t be using. The original stew called for loads of black olives and a tin of sardines. I love black olives, but I am the only person within a 10 mile radius of my house that does. I knew I needed to scrap these from the dish. The hubs and I are also not fans of sardines. Okay I say we aren’t fans, but to be honest we never tried them. I just couldn’t wrap my head around fish in beef stew, so out these went. The recipe also called for 1kg of beef – a whole kilo! That is a lot of beef to me, even for 6 servings.
So queue me mixing it up a bit and making this my own. I knocked the beef down to 400g and added in sweet potato, butter beans and spinach. I’ll touch on the hazelnut picada briefly here. I had to Google what picada was because this was foreign territory for me. Now I was expecting some time of sauce after reading Wikipedia. This baffled me a little considering this was going with stew. This picada is actually more like a crunchy topping and really adds a whole other dimension to the dish. I wish I could take credit for thinking this up on my own, but I can’t. I did change it slightly though. Hello decadent beef stew for under 450 calories! Now mind, this is a lengthy dish. I would suggest making this on the weekend. It also is a bit fancy for me, but sometimes you need to eat something out of your comfort zone to change things up a bit.
Tater tots where a common side dish growing up in America. Imagine it as the child equivalent of mush peas with fish and chips. I would normally have these in school with a side of ketchup for dipping. Classically, these are potato based and fried so that you have a crunchy outside and soft inside. Not like a chip mind you, as they are cylindrical and I suppose a bit like a hash brown. As you can imagine, not waist line friendly. Definitely not the worst offender in the world and can be had in their own right as an occasional treat. I got a random craving for them yesterday afternoon and I know from past experience, they aren’t easy to come by in the UK. It got me thinking if I could come up with a healthier version that I could make at home.
The first thing that came to mind was cauliflower. I swear I’m not obsessed with this vegetable, it’s simply a fantastic low carb substitute such as tortillas or a pizza base. I had a look at some basic homemade tot recipes and got to work on creating my own low calorie and low carb version. My take uses cauliflower, bread crumbs and cheese to create these skinny tots. Each serving, which is about 5 tots, comes in at only 67 calories! Tack on a few more if you’re using a dip, but to be honest I ate a few straight from the oven and they were divine. A batch will yield around 30 tots, depending on how big you make them. This recipe is quite time consuming and forming the tots can be a little tricky, but it is hands on fun and well worth the time spent.
Who doesn’t love pizza? If you don’t love pizza then I want to give you a sympathetic hug. I know for a lot of people, pizza is one of the foods they would put up on a list of something they could eat and calories not count. I can completely agree with this. Pizza is doughy, cheesy and packed full of flavour. Unfortunately, it’s also packed full of grease, calories and carbs galore. As a very occasional treat, there is no problem with having a few slices. However, if you’re like me, you could happily eat pizza every week. Doing this with your basic pizza from the takeaway, freezer or supermarket will quickly pack on the pounds. How dare you stab us in the back, you delicious pie.
There are loads of cauliflower pizza base recipes floating around. It is a great replacement to pizza dough and with the right flavours, you can hardly notice. The catch is, it tastes like cauliflower, duh. If you don’t like cauliflower I would be careful about trying this. Even though it doesn’t taste like you’re eating a boiled cauliflower floret, the taste does still come through. Making this pizza completely from scratch is a little time consuming, but I found the time flew by as I really enjoyed making it. There is something liberating about building the base of a meal on your own. Ha, base, do you see what I did there? Any, bad puns aside, this cauliflower chicken pizza comes in at 388 calories per serving. How many servings I hear you ask? 2 servings per pizza. You read that right, 388 calories for half a pizza! Yeah okay, it is quite a bit of food, but I promise you wont feel gobbed and greasy as you would if you ate half of a regular pizza. Also, the carb content in this is much lower than its doughy cousin and is all complex. Come here good carbs, get in my belly.