Low calorie recipes

For years now the 'scientific' approach to weight loss has been calorie counting. After all, if your body requires 2000 calories of energy per day simply for maintenance and you supply less than that, where will your body acquire the rest of the calories? It will be forced to use some of the calories you have stored as fat. If, on top of that, you follow a regular programme of exercises which burns more calories, your body will have to use even more of the calories stored as fat. It seems so simple and logical and indisputable.

However, the calories we eat must be changed into glucose, because the body can only use glucose as a fuel to burn and produce energy. Highly refined foods are easily and quickly digested and result in a sharp rise in the glucose (or sugar) content of the blood. This will stimulate the pancreas to produce high levels of insulin to deal with the glucose. As the glucose levels decrease, you will feel the need for a quick stimulant (sugar) to boost your glucose levels again. If there is an excess of glucose for the needs of the body, this excess will be turned into fat.

On the other hand, meat and complex carbohydrates take a long time to digest so that small amounts of glucose are released into the blood over a longer period. Add fibre and the process is slowed down some more. The result is a sustained level of energy for a long time. The pancreas will produce small amounts of insulin, as well as some glucagon, which promotes fat burning. If you do this over a period of time, you can change your body from a fat-storing one to a fat-burning one.

The discovery that quite similar foods can have quite different effects on bloodsugar, led to the classification of foods as slow- or fast-releasing carbohydrates (or simple, refined carbohydrates versus complex carbohydrates). Because glucose does not need to be digested, it is the fastest releasing carbohydrate. It was given the glycemic index (GI) of 100 and other carbohydrates have a score expressed as a percentage of glucose. Therefore, just knowing the GI score of a certain food, is a good index of which foods to eat and which to avoid.

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For more information on the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of carbohydrates, see my article 'Fat burning foods.'

Now for some low calorie recipes based on complex carbohydrates:

1. Borlotti Bean Bolognese

Beans are a good source of protein, fibre and complex carbohydrate. Especially good is the soluble fibre, which slows down the release of glucose. They do not contain all the amino acids that make up protein, so need to be supplemented with whole grains. Serve this bean bolognese with wholewheat spaghetti.

Ingredients:

3/4 of 397g (14oz) can of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
125g (about 4oz) mushrooms, sliced
15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
5 ml (1 teaspoon) mixed dried herbs
5 ml vegetable stock powder
15 ml tomato puree
142g (5oz) can of whole tomatoes
salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

Fry the onion, garlic and herbs in oil for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and stir for a few minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes.
Serves two persons.

2. Chinese chicken with peppers

Ingredients:

2 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5 ml (1 teaspoon) finely chopped root ginger
15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
30 ml (2 tablespoons) soy sauce
2 small chicken breasts, skins and bones removed, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced into 1 inch lengths
1/2 green pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced into 1 inch lengths
salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

Fry spring onions, garlic and ginger in oil for 2 minutes.
Stir in chicken and soy sauce, and continue stirring until chicken is cooked.
Add onion and peppers, cover and cook until vegetables are done but still crisp.
Season with salt and pepper, and serve with brown rice.
Serves two.

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3. Thai baked hake

Ingredients:

2 medium hake fillets
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
15 ml (1 tablespoon) soy sauce
a pinch of chilli powder

Method:

Place hake fillets in a medium baking dish.
Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the hake.
Allow to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.
Cover and bake at 180°C (350°F ) for 20 minutes.
Serve with 1 small boiled potato per person, and a large green salad.

4. Barley soup

Ingredients:

1 litre (2 pints) vegetable stock
115 ml (1/2 cup) barley, picked over and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 stick celery, thinly sliced
1 courgette, thinly sliced
1/2 Chinese cabbage, sliced
5 ml (1 teaspoon) mixed herbs
5 ml Worcester sauce (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

Bring stock and barley to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer a further 30 minutes.
Serves 4 persons

5. Vegetarian shepherd's pie

Ingredients:

A 1/2 cup lentils
1/4 cup barley
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon yeast extract

B 1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
5 spinach leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with a little water

C 3 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed

Method:

Bring A ingredients to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes, or until soft.
Bring B ingredients (without the cornstarch) to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Thicken the B mixture with the cornstarch.
Combine the A and B mixtures, and season with salt and black pepper.
Place in an oven proof dish, spread mashed potatoes over, and grill until brown.

6. Soybean-stuffed Chinese cabbage

Ingredients:

A 10 cabbage leaves
150g (5.5.ounces) cooked, mashed soybeans
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch

B 15 ml (1 tablespoon) soy sauce
15 ml vinegar
30 ml (2 tablespoons) sugar, or artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon Aromat
1 cup vegetable stock
10 ml (2 teaspoons) cornstarch mixed with a little water

Method:

Microwave the cabbage leaves for about 1 minute. They need to be soft and pliable.
Mix well the remaining A ingredients.
Place one portion on each leaf and fold over twice.
Arrange in a circle on a plate, and microwave for 5 minutes.
Bring sauce mixture B to the boil.
Add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.
Pour over stuffed cabbage and serve on brown rice.

7. Tuna salad with black-eyed bean salsa

Ingredients:

For the tuna salad:
1 tin (170g or 6 oz) tuna in water, drained
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
15 ml (1 tablespoon) smooth, low-fat cottage cheese
5 ml (1 teaspoon) tomato puree
lettuce leaves

For the salsa:
397g (14oz) canned black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 2 lemons
10 ml each (2 teaspoons) of olive and sesame oil
30 ml (2 tablespoons) fresh coriander leaves, chopped
a pinch of cayenne pepper
black pepper

Method:

Mix together the ingredients for the tuna salad.
Divide into two portions, and dish up on two plates lined with lettuce leaves.
Mix together the salsa ingredients, and serve with the salad

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Posted in: Recipes by on February 14, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

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