Friday, 21 July 2017

Rach Eats Lunch: There's Going To Be Cheese



Why do we always feel the yuckiest on a Monday? I have no idea why either, it's been a question which has bugged everyone for centuries. Or at least, the 20th and 21st ones. Today I am feeling it. Really, really feeling it. I say this every week when I sit down to draft the post for the week: I am usually half asleep, staring at the post it note on my monitor, blearily trying to remember what I'm doing and what for. Of course I know what for: I'm doing this to lose weight (um...) and to regain energy (um...) - both of which hasn't quite had me swinging from chandeliers and running marathons. Does it mean I'm going to give up? Don't be daft, of course not!

What doesn't give me much joy is the way society uses your weight as a yardstick. You know... "If you lose weight, you'll feel so much better/gain more energy/look stunning/drop eight dress sizes." And yes, it might be true: but constantly shoving it to the front of our minds every time we switch on the TV/read a magazine/look at Instagram only makes us feel worse, not better. Whatever happened to gently working towards our goals, instead of pushing for a quick fix that claims to cure all our fears? (Is being overweight a valid fear, though? I think getting my toes stuck under the gap in the kitchen door is far more terrifying, to be honest.) I actively avoid the media where possible, because I'm less likely to beat myself up about how I look without it. You should try it too, it's kinda liberating.

Healthwise, I had the worst weekend - the front of my thighs were in agony, my legs were heavy and I felt pretty much unable to do much other than lie down. I couldn't settle to sleep properly on Saturday night because of the pain - and I swear they reminded me a little of growing pains, like the ones I had as a twelve year old - and by Sunday afternoon I was waddling around the house feeling very sorry for myself. Weirdly, after a big cup of sleepy tea, some paracetemols and eight solid hours of sleep, the pain dissipated and here I am now, stiff knees, heavy legs and a fuzzy, brain-foggy head. CFS is the worst and I hate it. Enough said. The last time I felt like this was when I ran the teachers' race during school sports day last year. I lost miserably and messed my legs right up. I also had kids hiding behind me so they could eat a packet of mini Jaffa Cakes, please don't ask...

This week is my last full week of recipes before the summer break - I predict lots of quick jacket spuds and cheese in my future for the next six or so weeks - but I cannot wait to one, have a break, but two... I desperately want to keep going, despite needing a short break for inspiration. It's actually so much fun putting these together. I have my workflow down now. Fridays are obviously the busiest of days, but oh my god, it is exhilarating. Will you be hearing from me over the six weeks, though? Definitely yes. This week's recipes are easy, cheesy and beany. I cannot wait to get cracking on them... buckle up, folks!


Monday

Lemon and Cucumber Not-Gin-I-Promise Noodles



SW Slimming World budget friendly easy lemon noodles recipe


Sometimes, a thought will come along while I'm eating. It's a bit like one of those computers that spits things out at random. Like that computer which named paint colours (spoiler alert: they were a bit dodgy) and the bot that created phone cases out of random Google image search results (it resulted in phone cases that no one would ever want) - while those two experiments weren't immediately successful, the words "lemon" and "noodles" appeared together at the right moment... like when both my toast and baked beans were ready at the same time, or when my cup of tea was just the right temperature. And so, here we are, creating a ten minute recipe that's zesty and tasty. I've complimented the noodles with cucumber, because it's cool, man... but please don't get this recipe confused for a glass of G&T. If you get drunk at lunchtime, it's not my fault. Don't blame me.

Take one packet of egg noodles, and break it up into a microwavable container. Boil up 300ml of hot water and pour it over the noodles. Do not add the provided noodle sauce sachet! Pop the noodles in the microwave for two minutes thirty seconds, and on short bursts of thirty seconds until the noodles have fully sucked up all the water. While you're waiting, zest and then cut an unwaxed lemon in half. Cut a slice off one of them and reserve it for a garnish. Cut into halves a one inch chunk of cucumber. Take the noodles out of the microwave and cover it to keep it hot. Put one half on a small plate, two if you love sour Haribo, and pop it in the microwave for thirty seconds. With a pair of tongs, because it will be hot, squeeze the lemon over the noodles and add the zest. Combine the juice and noodles immediately, add the cucumber and a slice of lemon. Eat as soon as possible, hold the gin.


Tuesday

Quick Carbonara



SW friendly quick carbonara recipe budget friendly recipe UK


I like carbonara - but, much like my aversion to too many baked beans, too much sauce is a weeny bit of a no go. I don't eat it too often, but when I do, I go alllll out. I might even have a bit of garlic bread to mop up the sauce. That's living on the side of danger if you ask me. In Italy, they don't go too heavy on the sauce either, instead their version is made of raw egg, hard cheese and black pepper. No cream to be seen here, people! I'm not sure I could do raw egg though. Anyways, today's recipe has the addition of a diet-friendly ingredient which makes it so simple: Quark! My Mum mentioned it to me late last week and I knew I had to stick it in the trolley because ooh, the possibilities! Quark is this wonderful, protein-rich soft yoghurty cheese that can be used for so many different things, both savoury and sweet, but today it's going to be playing the part of the sauce. You can make this in about half an hour as well, which makes it even better.

Put 100g of dried pasta per person in a saucepan. Pour over hot water and start boiling that pasta until it's doubled in size and super soft. While you're waiting, chop up a slice of ham into tiny pieces. If you're so inclined, you could use a pair of (clean) scissors to make the pieces more uniform... or if you're short on time, just rip it up. Once the pasta has been cooked through, drain the water and add in two massive tablespoons of quark. Stir it all together, add the ham and 30g of grated cheddar cheese, and stir it through some more until the cheese melts. Cover it in black pepper, serve it in a bowl and eat.


Wednesday

One-Pot Chickpea Bolognese



Easy SW friendly Slimming World chickpea stew recipe


Every time I think about this recipe, I think of that sad little egg yolk with the scrunched up face from last week. It still makes me chuckle. Although incredibly I didn't get sick after eating it around it! Woohoo! I was gutted because the recipe itself, without the egg, tasted amazing. Instead of mixed beans, I'm using up my chickpeas, pouring over a lot of chopped tomatoes, adding veggies and making it into almost a bolognese. If you're so inclined to really make a meal out of it, you could put rice or pasta underneath it, or even serve it with a jacket potato. I'd say it's filling either way. I absolutely fell in love with the flavour of this sauce - yes it does seem weird adding a bit of brown sugar to it, but it kind of mellows out the tomatoes and gives it the best flavour. It's delicious and I fell in love with it!

Drain a 400g can of chickpeas, reserving the aquafaba for a future recipe as desired. Put 200g of chickpeas in a pan along with 200g of chopped tomatoes, one sliced salad tomato, and a big handful of chopped peppers (red, yellow and green). Add a teaspoon of paprika, demerara sugar, garlic, salt and lemon juice to the mixture. Put the hob on a medium to high heat and stir like crazy until the mixture bubbles. Simmer it until the sauce is piping hot all the way through, cook your chosen carb as a base (rice, pasta or a jacket potato) and serve it on top. That's it, it's done - go and eat it!


Thursday

Cheese and Onion Quiche Fingers



SW Slimming World friendly cheese and onion tart fingers


I really wanted to call this "Cheese, Cheese and More Cheese Quiche," but I restrained myself just in time. It has three cheeses in it, people. Three of them. It reminds me of a cartoon my brother showed me of a to do list where all the big stuff gets replaced with cheese (get cheese, have cheese, be cheese) - if we're all honest, cheese is top on the list of everybody's favourite foods. If it's got cheese on it, it's bound to be good, no matter what it is. (Although ice cream is a fail.) So of course I'm going to make a massive deal out of it and make a quiche, except I lost my cake tin so I used a loaf tin instead. It also has red onion in it as well, just to counteract all that cheesiness and add an extra bit of texture. And it looks great if you're going out on a picnic somewhere or just want a summery lunch. Cutting it into fingers makes it perfect for bitesized snacks. You need the strongest cheese possible to really get the best flavour out of it - don't forget the salt and pepper too!

Preheat the oven to 180℃ and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Beat together three eggs in a jug and add in three heaping tablespoons of quark and 50g of grated strong cheddar cheese. Peel and chop up half of a red onion into small pieces and add to the jug. Give it another stir and add to the loaf cake tin. Grind plenty of salt and pepper over it, stir it in and top up with a tiny splash of soya milk. Finally, add several thin slices of a reduced fat mozzarella ball to the cake tin, carefully floating it on top. Pop the cake tin in the oven for 30 minutes until fully baked all the way through and the egg is neither wet nor wobbles. There will be water, but that will come from the mozzarella! Pull it out, cut it up into fingers and add it to a plate complete with salad (if you're still eating it... like I'm not...)


Friday

Mozzarella, Pesto and Tomato Toastie



Easy SW Slimming World friendly mozzarella tomato and pesto toasted sandwich


After the Red, White and Green noodles I had a fortnight ago, a friend kindly pointed me in the direction of making it a toasted sandwich, which sounds both devilish and delicious. After yesterday's shenanigans with the cheesy tart, a quick and easy recipe like this is perfect for a quick lunch. Plus it keeps my workflow (as in getting this post out on time or earlier) in check. Have you ever wondered what my workflow is for this series of posts? I think I'll write about it one day, but it definitely involves hard work, patience and a lot of time slaving over a hot keyboard. Would I have it any other way though? I think not. Anyways, think cheese when it comes to this toastie: the cheesy-herbiness of the pesto mingles with the mild, smooth mozzarella, combining with a tang of the tomato and it all gets very delicious and I'm going to stop you there Rach, you're drooling. You will make a mess making this toastie - there will be cheese everywhere, tomato threatening to fall out and pesto staining the bread green - it looks unappetising on the plate but it's worth getting messed up for. Believe me.

On two slices of wholemeal bread, spread green pesto liberally on one side. Add slices from a reduced fat mozzarella ball to one slice of bread, taking care not to spill too much over the sides. Next, add a few slices of a salad tomato and pop the second slice of bread on top. Don't overfill it or it won't melt! Fire up the panini press or sandwich toaster and put the sandwich in. Press down and wait for the cheese to melt and bubble up. Remove it, taking care not to burn yourself, cut it down the middle and enjoy hot. Yum.


Well, that's it until September: I can hardly believe it! Forty - yes, forty - recipes all nailed (mostly) and ready for you to read. This isn't the end of my food posts, I will be here at least once a week with some easy and sweet recipes I think you're going to love. You'd best stock up on chickpeas while you wait... have you made any of my recipes? Let me know in the comments!

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