New year, new you
After Christmas many of us have eaten far too many naughty nasties and resolve to make ourselves better by vowing to make next year a healthier one. With all the delicious food on offer during the festive period its no wonder that many of us give into temptation and put on a pound or two. I don’t know about you but I definitely over ate this Christmas; On Christmas day alone I managed to squash in a full roast dinner followed by three sticky toffee puddings and numerous chocolates. At just five foot that’s a lot of food for a little person to consume. Intstead of the New Year being welcomed with new and exciting opportunities it often comes with an excess ten pounds that we are left feeling determined to shed. There are countless weird and wonderful diets out there but which ones actually work?
Atkins, low carb and starvation are all common crash diets but isn’t there a healthier way to lose weight that doesn’t involve depriving our taste buds of yummy foods and exercising on empty? This year I’ve chosen the I-diet which is based on a book written by Gino D’acanbo. ‘The Italian Diet’ is a fantastic book that focuses on eating tasty Italian dishes. The book has hundreds of healthy Italian recipes that not only help you lose weight but taste fantastic. Not only does the book give you healthy recipes but it also tells you what constitutes as a good sized portion. For example – did you know that just three dried apricots constitutes for one of your five a day? It’s acquiring knowledge about foods that really helps us to shed the weight and remain healthy. For every recipe the book tells you how many calories, fats, sugars and salts are present in each meal. You can buy this fantastic recipe and diet book for just £2.39 on Amazon. A tasty diet that you can stick to is definitely a winner in my eyes.
For all of you with a smart phone there are some excellent apps on the market that can help you take control of your weight. One of my personal favourites is ‘My Fitness Pal’ which is doesn’t cost a penny and can be downloaded from ITunes. When you first get the app it asks you to enter your current weight and your target weight and the time period in which you want to lose it. ‘My Fitness Pal’ will then calculate the number of calories, fat etc that you should eat each day in order to achieve your goal. The app has a massive database and you can find almost any food by typing it into the search bar – from cherry tomatoes to ocra to twix bars – it’s all on there. This app is great for people really interested in health and is nowhere near as time-consuming as it sounds. Careful not to become addicted!
‘The Italian Diet’ book and ‘My Fitness Pal’ application combine to make the perfect healthy weight loss plan. And at £2.39 for a book and a free app you’ve got no excuses not to make 2012 the healthiest year yet!
Chicken breast with parmesan, tomatoes and mozzarella
(Petto di pollo alla parmigiana)
349 calories, 16.7g fat, 6g saturates, 6.7g sugars, 1g salt
3 aubergines, about 200g each, cut lengthways into 0.5cm slices
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons skimmed milk
60g freshly grated parmesan
60g breadcrumbs, toasted
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 100g each
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
100g mozzarella, drained and sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 and preheat the grill to hot. Pour 2 litres of water in a large saucepan with 1 teaspoon salt and bring to the boil.
2. Cook the aubergines in the boiling water for two minutes and drain. Allow to cool slightly, then pat dry with kitchen paper and place on a baking tray. Brush with a little oil and cook under a hot grill for two minutes on each side until browned.
3. Mix the egg and milk together. Mix the parmesan and breadcrumbs together. Dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture and then coat with the parmesan breadcrumbs.
4. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the coated breasts for two minutes on each side until coloured. Drain on kitchen paper.
5. Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Tip in the tomatoes with the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together and continue to cook for a further five minutes.
6. Spoon the tomato mixture into a 2-litre shallow, ovenproof dish and place the chicken breasts on top. Cover with overlapping layers of aubergine and mozzarella and then top with any remaining parmesan breadcrumbs. Cook, uncovered, in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot.
Ricotta and vanilla tiramisu
(Tiramisu alla ricotta)
292 calories, 14.7g fat, 5g saturates, 23.5g sugars, 0.2g salt
250g fat-free Greek yogurt
80g caster sugar
6 tablespoons crushed hazelnuts
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200ml cold, strong coffee
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
24 savoiardi (sponge finger biscuits)
Cocoa powder, for dusting
1. Mix the ricotta cheese with the yogurt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the hazelnuts and vanilla extract and stir until well combined. Pour the cold coffee into a small bowl and mix in the cinnamon.
2. Quickly dip half the sponge fingers in the coffee and then place in the base of a rectangular serving dish (30 x 22cm, and at least 5cm deep). Spread half of the ricotta mixture on top. Repeat the process with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Cover the dish with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Just before serving, dust the top with the cocoa powder.