Is it really 2013? Where does the time go? Christmas and all the celebrations are over and it’s time to think healthy again. I had some lovely comments about last year’s healthy options in January, so I thought I would try a few more. By making a few changes to a recipe or meal, you can reduce the fat or carbohydrate content.

For example, the Walnut and Date Cake has Olive oil instead of Butter, Fructose Sugar which is lower in calories and Skimmed Milk, so much less fat. The Vegetable Curry is an easy recipe and a great way to use up left over vegetables. It is almost Fat Free and by making your own Curry Paste, you cut down on the carbohydrates. My favourite is the Beef Stew, cooking the Beef in Red Wine gives the meat lots of flavour and surprisingly reduces the calories as there are no thickening ingredients.

Buen Apetito

Vegetable Curry
200g Basmati rice
Any fresh or cooked vegetables
5cm root ginger
6 spring onions
1-2 tbsp cardamom
2 tbsp olive oil
1tsp ground coriander
1-2 tsp chilli paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp flaked almonds

Put the rice in a pan with 600ml cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 12 minutes or until the rice is tender but not sticky. Peel and cut the vegetables into bite sizes if using fresh. Peel and finely chop the ginger if using fresh and chop the spring onions. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the vegetables, ginger and spring onions for 2 minutes. Add the cardamom, coriander and chilli paste and cook for a further minute. Stir in 100ml of cold water and simmer for a further 2 minutes if using cooked vegetables. If using fresh vegetables, allow 20 minutes to simmer. Add Soy sauce and almonds at the last minute and serve with the rice.

Roasted Peppers
4 large red peppers
4 plum tomatoes
4 tbsp pesto
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pine nuts
Black pepper

Cut the peppers in half, remove the pith and seeds, wash and dry with kitchen towel and place in a shallow dish. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds, remove tomatoes, peel and cut into quarters. Place two tomato quarters inside each pepper half. Mix together the pesto and olive oil and drizzle over the peppers. Scatter the pine nuts and black pepper over the peppers and bake in over 180º for 45 minutes.

Tuna and Sweetcorn Bake
50g butter
50g plain flour
450 ml milk
2 tsp lemon juice
410g can sweetcorn
185g tuna in sunflower oil
25g parmesan cheese
2 tbsp brown breadcrumbs

Melt the butter in a pan, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually add milk. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in lemon. Drain the sweetcorn and put in the bottom of an oven proof dish. Drain the tuna and flake over the sweetcorn, then pour the sauce over them both. Grate the cheese and mix with breadcrumbs before sprinkling over the sauce. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Beef Stew in Red Wine
1.4kg rump or chuck steak
150ml red wine
1 onion
2 parsnips
2 carrots
3 garlic gloves
3 parsley stalks
8 black peppercorns
30ml olive oil
150ml beef stock

Cut the beef into chunks and place in a bowl, pour in the wine and add the chopped onion and crushed garlic, thyme, peppercorns and parsley stalks. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 5-6 hours or overnight. Strain and retain the marinade liquid separately. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the beef and onion mixture. Add the chopped the carrots and parsnips to the pan and cook for a further ten minutes. Pour in the beef stock and add the wine marinade and bring to the boil. Pour into a casserole dish and cook in an oven at 150º for 2-3 hours checking the liquid does not need topping up with water or stock.

Walnut and Date Cake
300g wholemeal self-raising flour
1tsp mixed spices
150g chopped dates (fresh is best)
50g chopped walnuts
60ml olive oil
115g Fructose sugar
300ml skimmed milk
Walnut halves to decorate

Mix the dates and walnuts with the flour and spices. In a separate bowl mix the oil, sugar and milk, then mix into the dry ingredients. Spoon into a prepared tin and arrange the halves of walnuts on the top. Bake in 180º oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until cooked.