Cooking deelitefully

Welcome to  the deelitefull blog.  I am a cooking and nutrition coach based in Dublin, Ireland.   Food should both taste great and make you feel great. My experience of some healthy eating guides & books is that they can be a little worthy, bland and humourless. Eating should always be a pleasure both to the senses and to the soul. There is nothing worse than eating a meal and feeling like you need a crane to hoist you out of your chair but on the other hand there is nothing more dreary than a meal that is assessed purely on the reduced calories and fat grams it contains. So on this blog you can follow my search for delicious healthy recipes with soul.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Healthy habits for shrinking your waistline: eat with your eyes and share with your friends

Healthy habits for shrinking your waistline: eat with your eyes and share with your friends
As I have probably mentioned before I don’t believe healthy food and tasty food are mutually exclusive.  Incorporating healthy habits into your life have a far more effective long term benefit than any diet.  

One area we can probably all take a look at is our portion sizes.  Rather than cutting things out completely,  cutting down portion sizes may help us all be a little bit healthier.  Take for example scones.  Scones used to be the width of say the lid on a jar of honey,  recently I bought  scone that was almost the size of a saucer. It was very tasty but it was enough for about 3 people.   At home the size of our plates are steadily increasing.  As result our idea of a normal portion has got somewhat skewed.

One of the best things we can all probably do for our waistline is downsize our plates.  A recent study in Cornell University found that switching from a 12 inch to a 10 inch plate ,  lead people to eat 22% less calories.  Just by shrinking your plate , you could eliminate more than 5,000 calories a month.
These picture here show a dinner of Thai flavoured steamed salmon, brown basmati rice and stir-fried veggies on three different plates.  Moving either to a smaller dinner plate or to a small salad plate mens we eat less without being really aware of it. 
Large dinner plate no rim

Same size dinner plate with rim

Small dinner/salad plate

On the other hand if you are struggling to eat enough vegtables than maybe put your salad on a large plate,  you might eat more.
In relation to drinks,  again the type of glass will have an influence on how much you drink ,  these glasses including 2 glasses in the last case are all holding the same amount of liquid.  So a bigger wider glass for your water as most of us are not consuming enough water and either a smaller glass or a long thin slim one for those drinks you are trying to consume less of.

The portion of rice above looks pretty satisfactory to most people however when it comes to pasta we tend to overeat big style. Though I am not really into weighing food out,  it can be useful with pasta until you get the idea of what a healthy portion looks like.  This is the reason Italians can eat pasta and stay so healthy , they eat much smaller portions than us, often as a starter.  Italians also tend to take more time over their meals, sharing and   eating with company and not inhaling food in front of the TV.  These pictures all show a 80g of pasta.  Supposedly blue plates also make you eat less,  though the science on this is a bit sketchy,  I need to read up more.  Something to do with blue suppressing your appetite while warm colours like red and yellow increase it.  That explains the MacDonalds restaurants then.
80g of pasta before its cooked

80g of pasta cooked on large plate with no rim

80g of cooked pasta on blue plate with rim,  small dinner/salad plate size

A comparison 
Deep bowls can be misleading- here is 160 g a portion really for 2 people!

In fact that brings me to another tip for managing out portions.  We should all try and share when we are eating out.  Sharing a starter and a dessert is a great way of enjoying a meal without overeating.  And with larger groups, order a few starters for the table,  you get to try lots of different things.  A few people for different reasons are very uncomfortable with this so probably best not to push them but for most people it will increase the sociability of the meal while also ensuring you don’t overeat.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fishy Tales

Salmon - Nobu-ish style
Nobu was the restaurant of the beautiful people in the 90’s. It now has outposts on most continents and will be packed to the gills any fashion week. Not quite as cutting- edge as it was once considered,  many of its dishes have moved from hip territory into classic territory.  And quite rightly so.  One of these dishes is their Black cod miso.   Unfortunately even in our bling-bling celtic tiger years , Dublin was never hip or rich enough for a Nobu.  So if you wanted to try this dish you had to travel.  
The recipe below is very , very , very, very  distant relative to Nobu’s classic dish.  Firstly in Nobu its made with Black cod ( also called sablefish), not available here   .  I use either salmon or halibut.  You really need to use an oily fish.  
Here I have served it with a salad using the last of the asparagus and sesame seeds.  Its delish.  While the glaze on the fish should definitely should be crisp ,  maybe not quite as crisp as mine,  I got distracted looking for a sieve while it was cooking.  Lesson learned -  always use a timer ;-)
You should get most of the ingredients in an Asian supermarket.   
Salmon Nobu-ish style - Serves 4
1/2 cup sake ( 1/2 cup of white wine if you are really stuck)
3/4 cup mirin
2 cups white miso paste
1 cup granulated sugar
4 salmon/halibut fillets, about 200g each
1.Boil sake and mirin over high heat for 20 seconds to evaporate alcohol.

2. Reduce heat to low and add miso paste, mixing with a wooden spoon until it has dissolved. Then increase heat to high and add sugar, stirring constantly to ensure bottom of pan does not burn until sugar has dissolved.   Cool to room temperature.
Keep 1/2 a cup of sauce for serving with the cooked fish the next day, and use the rest as marinade.  

3. Pat fish thoroughly dry with paper towels. Cover with marinade and place in a glass dish or bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Marinade overnight.

4. Preheat grill to high and preheat oven to 200c

5. Lightly wipe off and excess miso clinging to fillets, but do not rinse it off  Discard marinade. Place fish on grill plate, and grill until surface of fish turns brown, about 2 minutes.

6. Place in oven at 190 c.

7. Move fish to center of oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes depending on thickness

8. Transfer fillets to individual plates. Add a few drops of reserved sauce to each plate
Asparagus with sesame seeds
Serves 4
400 grams medium asparagus spears
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds ( toast on a baking tray)

1. Snap off the woody ends of each asparagus spear. 
Add the asparagus to boiling, salted water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes depending on thickness.  

2. Drain in a colander, then immediately transfer to the cold bath to cool. This helps the asparagus stop cooking further and also keep its green colour.  Drain again, pat the asparagus dry with paper towel or a clean tea towel.

3. For the dressing, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl, stirring or whisking to dissolve the sugar. The  flavour should be balanced between being rich, salty and sweet. About 2 hours before serving, toss the asparagus in the dressing and to let flavours absorb 

4. Right before serving, transfer to a plate and garnish with a shower of sesame seeds.