Spring is here! Time to lighten up with lighter meals. It’s an opportunity to get in shape for summer. I want to be able to wear last year’s slim-fit ‘trou’ and shorts.
Although a recipe may specify a few tablespoons of oil, you can usually get away with using a lot less – think teaspoons rather than tablespoons. For frying, choose a non-stick pan and brush the base with oil. You can also use water in place of oil when frying onions or even for stir-fries. Water helps soften the onion and when it evaporates the onion starts to colour. For roasting, brush the pan with the oil then the meat or veg rather than sloshing it generously over the top.
Carbs are an important part of a balanced diet but if you want to go lighter use spiralised or noodled vegetables in place of pasta or use more complex carbs that will take longer to digest — think brown rice, quinoa, lentils, beans and oats.
Following the menu guidelines for a person with diabetes is a good option. This means a diet that is high in fibre and low in processed fats, supplies at least five servings of fruit and vegetables and a day and avoids excess sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and salt.
MEYER LEMON CHICKEN
I used bite-sized medley potatoes of different colours.
400g baby potatoes, halved
150g round green beans, trimmed
2 large skinned and boned chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
3-4 teaspoons olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
8 button mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons water
1 cup chicken stock
8 thin slices Meyer lemon
Steam the potatoes and green beans until crisp-tender. Remove and pat dry.
Pound the thick ends of the chicken so each piece is of even thickness. Season the chicken on both sides.
Heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Pan-fry the chicken for about 5 minutes each side on medium heat adding the thyme half-way through. Remove the chicken.
Add the remaining oil to the pan. Cook the mushrooms until browned. Add the potatoes — cut-side down — and cook for a few minutes until browned. Turn them over.
Return the chicken to the pan. Combine the cornflour and water and stir into the chicken stock. Gradually stir into the pan until thickened. Add the beans and lemon slices. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes, until cooked. Serves 4.
MUSSEL, CORN & CORIANDER FRITTERS
375g pot lime & coriander mussels
1 large shallot, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped coriander
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, separated
1 cup whole kernel corn, blanched
1 cup finely shredded spinach
1 teaspoon chopped chilli
1/4 cup each: self-raising flour, milk or coconut milk
1-2 teaspoons olive oil for frying
Drain the mussels and place in a food processor. Add the shallot, coriander, seasonings and egg yolks. Blend, until fairly smooth.
Remove to a bowl. Stir in the corn, spinach, flour and milk. Mix well.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Lightly fold into the mussel mixture.
Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan. Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan. Cook until bubbles appear on the top then flip over to cook the other side.
Excellent served with a light salad and lime wedges as a light meal or a starter. Makes 8 large fritters.
TOMATO & CHILLI LINGUINE
Canned cherry tomatoes could replace the fresh.
6 sundried tomatoes,
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
2 each: shallots, garlic cloves, finely diced
1/8-1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
100g dried linguini, cooked
25g baby spinach leaves
50g feta cheese, diced
grated parmesan cheese to taste
Drain the sundried tomatoes and pat dry. Coarsely chop.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Sauté the shallots and garlic, until softened. Add the chilli flakes and sundried tomatoes, heat through, then add the cherry tomatoes. Season. Toss together with the cooked pasta. When almost heated through add the spinach and feta.
Serve in bowls garnished with parmesan. Serves 2.