Monday, 26 January 2015

Three Ingredient Pancakes!

Grandad is a diabetic farmer, so my home life is a constant battle between keeping blood sugars low and filling the vast pit that is a manual worker's stomach. That's why I'm always on the look out for filling recipes that will fit with his dietary needs.
These pancakes are also ideal for anyone who is on a low carb diet (bananas are carbs but a lesser evil than white flour), anyone on a low calorie diet, those suffering from celiac disease, and anyone just fancying something a bit different.

1 small banana (the riper the better)
1 egg
Pinch of baking powder (celiacs - double check yours is gluten free)

1. Put the banana and egg into a measuring jug and whizz with a hand mixer. Alternatively, chuck them in the blender.
If you don't have a hand mixer or blender then hand mash the banana. Try varying the consistency of the batter for lumpier pancakes...which sounds gross but don't knock it 'til you try it.
2. Put your frying pan on. You can dry fry if you're watching your fats. I would highly recommend coconut oil, but a knob of butter or swig of your preferred oil will work too.
3. Add the baking powder and give the mixture a good mix round. Why not add it before? Because the baking powder begins to work as soon as it hits liquid so to achieve the fluffiest pancakes you need to act fast.
4. Cook until golden on one side, then turn over. I assume unless you've lived in isolation your entire life you know how to cook a pancake.

Et voila! You have pancakes! The only thing left to do is scoff them. Next time you whip up a batch I recommend experimenting with different add-ins. Also, if you use a large banana add another egg to the mixture otherwise you'll have no hope of achieving a firm pancake (I speak from experience). It becomes a scrambled eggy banana mess, delicious but very ugly.
Cinnamon is banana's best friend, add a good dash to the batter.
Chopped nuts or desiccated coconut give a wonderful flavour and a great texture. Toast them a little by adding them to the pan before you put in any batter. Once they start to turn golden brown add the batter.
Dried fruits or chocolate chips also work well. To add these bad boys wait for your pancake to be cooked on one side then drop them onto the pancake before flipping. Chocolate chips will make the most unholy mess of your pan though so be warned.
To make these pancakes more filling add porridge oats to the mixture, about 2 tbsp will do it. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes (or longer) to give the oats a chance to soak. If the mixture become too dry add a little bit of milk. Alternatively, soak the oats in milk separately and either stir them into the batter or blend with the banana and egg. It's really down to what texture you prefer.
Finally, these pancakes are naturally sweet. There is no need to add sugar. If you're dead set on adding sugar promise me you will taste one bit before adding it, otherwise you could end up with an abominably sweet mess!

Is there a happier sound on a morning than a
batch of pancakes cooking?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

5 Diet Foods to Avoid Like The Plague

1) Low-fat yogurt. It might seem like a good snack option or a guilt-free way to enjoy something sweet but low-fat and fat-free yogurts are teaming with sugar. This leads to blood sugar spikes and the crash will leave you reaching for another fix.
But they're so low cal! I hear you shout. Full fat yogurt isn't actually much higher in calories. For example, Onken's full fat natural yogurt has only got 35 calories more per serving than its fat-free counterpart. 
The other advantage of eating the full-fat version is that it's thicker, creamier and more satisfying. Therefore you'll eat less (either of the yogurt or not need another snack later). Also, lower calorie versions of products can lead us to eating more simply because they're 'healthy'. I encourage you to shun the watery yogurts in the supermarket and embrace the satisfying full fat versions. 
2) Diet cereals. Cereals like Special K advertise as being diet-friendly, and to a certain point they are. That point is called elevenses. The healthiest (and cheapest) cereal out there is porridge. Boring? A tad, but its versatile nature means you can add almost anything to it to liven it up. Porridge not your thing? The second best would be Weetabix. 
Why are these cereals so much better? Well, their fibre content is high which, besides from the obvious benefit, helps keep you fuller for longer. Their low-GI nature prevents nasty sugar crashes (unless you top them with loads of sugar). 
The cereal aisle is quickly turning into a second confectionary aisle. You need to be careful about the choices you make. Read the labels but don't just check the calories; sugars (and the crashes they produce) are just as important. If in doubt use your common sense: 'honey', 'strawberry', 'frosted'...these are all red flags. Chocolate anything is to be avoided at all costs, I'm sorry but breakfast is just not the time. 
3) Meal replacement drinks. You aren't designed to drink all your calories. Your body will think you're in the middle of a famine if you stop going through the actions of eating, even if you're taking in a decent amount calories. These drinks are often around 250 calories, but it is so much more satisfying to eat 250 calories! Also, broken record warning, they're insanely sugary. 
4) 'Diet' biscuits and cakes. They're only lower in calories because they're smaller (I'm looking at you, Weight Watchers). They also give you a taste for sweet food which can lead to more cravings. Diet, by definition, means no cake. Reward yourself with your favourite nom as a special treat, don't try to sneak it into your daily routine. 
5) Under 100kcal snacks. Things like crackers crisps, low fat yogurts, cereal bars all come under this. They may be tasty and low calorie but they're not filling. If you're hungry between meals you should be eating bigger meals or better meals. You may think it's better to keep topping yourself up rather than taking in a lot of calories at a time, but constant grazing and never feeling full is a diet trap. Also, these low cal snacks rarely provide any nutritional value. So if you're having a meagre bowl of soup for lunch and tummy rumbles at 3pm maybe it's time to switch to pasta salad.