Recipe Review: Chunky Bean Burgers

12814596_10156488503645386_3791003478694010511_nAs I’ve gone vegetarian for the month of March, I’ve dragged out all my recipe books and trawled the Slimming World website for dishes suitable for those eating a plant-based diet, and I knew that at some point I was going to have to try my hand at making my own bean burgers.

I found the recipe for Chunky Bean Burgers With Cajun Wedges on the Slimming World website (just follow the link – you’ll have to be a member, I’m afraid – I can’t re-post the recipe here as it would breach the copyright rules set out by Slimming World).

I did make a couple of little changes – I omitted the spring onions (because I don’t like them), used pinto beans instead of kidney beans (because it was what I had to hand), and used a green pepper instead of a red one (as I had one I needed to use up). I then served mine with roasted butternut squash and balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes instead of the Cajun wedges, as I wanted to add a little extra speed food to my plate (which would make it a good SP choice, incidentally).

The mixture before baking was a little sloppy, and I feared my burgers would just spread and drip everywhere, and be mushy when I served them, but to my surprise, they actually firmed up when cooked and had a very pleasant texture. They were a touch bland, so I think I would maybe add some paprika, cayenne, or chilli powder next time I make them, but I will certainly make them again at some point. I had toyed with the idea of using a small wholemeal bread bun as my HEB and some cheese as my HEA to have with one of the burgers – perhaps I’ll do that for lunch with one of the leftover burgers tomorrow.

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Ready-Made Review: Slimming World Chunky Tomato Sauce

12507227_10156332030040386_694198455419226872_nI was in a little bit of a hurry last night, so I thought I’d give the Slimming World Chunky Tomato Sauce a try, as the tub has been knocking about in my freezer for a little while now.

I had set my heart on meatballs and pasta, but as I’ve already mentioned, I was so pushed for time I couldn’t make my own from scratch as I usually do. Hello, Slimming World Meatballs – also in the freezer for dinner time emergencies such as this!

I chucked the meatballs in my trusty non-stick pan along with a chopped up onion, crushed garlic, some mushrooms, and diced red pepper (there would have been courgette in there too, but it had gone mushy in the fridge – gah!), and dry-fried the lot together till everything was cooked.

Meanwhile, I had pasta bubbling away in another pan, and I popped the pot of sauce in the microwave to heat up. Once that was done, I poured it into the meatballs and veg.

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There really are meatballs under there – you can’t see them in this picture, but they’re there – I promise!

It was a touch watery for my tastes, so I added a nice glob of tomato puree, and then threw in some dried mixed herbs, just because I like them, and stirred it all together. Once the pasta was done, I drained it and threw that in too.

I had already used cheese as my Healthy A option for the day (I made a crustless quiche the day before, and had the remainder for lunch with a large salad – delicious, by the way), so I did without my customary grated cheese on top, but it was rather tasty nonetheless.

I still prefer my own, made-from-scratch sauce, but the Slimming World Chunky Tomato Sauce will definitely have a place in my freezer for future use, as it’s very good indeed.

Please note, I WAS NOT PAID FOR THIS REVIEW, nor was I given this product for free – I bought it myself for my own personal use, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Calling all peanut butter fans!

OK, so you’re doing Slimming World. You love it, and you have fifteen syns to play with every day. All is well. Till you remember you love peanut butter. And peanut butter is incredibly synful.

One level tablespoon of peanut butter is going to cost you around 5 syns. Even the reduced fat stuff will set you back 4 syns. And one tablespoon of peanut butter doesn’t actually get you very far, especially if you love the stuff. Am I right?

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Chunks of apple with PB2 peanut butter – only 2.5 syns!

So, what if I told you the peanut butter in the picture here, with the cut up apple chunks to dunk in it, only cost me 2.5 syns? You’d be pretty stoked, wouldn’t you?

I know I was! I mean, after all, that’s a fairly large dollop of peanut butter, isn’t it? More than enough to make my very virtuous apple taste like a real treat.

Do you want to know what it really is?

OK, I’ll tell you. It really is peanut butter! It’s not a tweak or a substitute, it’s real, honest-to-goodness peanut butter, and it tastes intensely peanutty.

It is, quite frankly, all kinds of awesome.

It actually comes in powdered form, as it’s dehydrated, and it has a whopping 85% less fat than regular peanut butter. To take two level tablespoons of the powder (12g), and mix it with one tablespoon of water (or slightly more or less, to get whatever consistency you desire), and it is only 2.5 syns for all that!

It’s a product called PB2.And it comes in two varieties – peanut butter, and peanut butter with chocolate. Yes – that’s right – chocolatey peanut butter! How awesome is that?!

Now, it’s not on the Syns Online system – I had to use the Syns Calculator to work it out, so you don’t have to take my word for it, you can put the info in yourself and see it’s true – just 2.5 syns for a massive dollop of peanut butter! And the chocolate flavoured one is the same!

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Peanut butter porridge, made with 35g oats (HEB), some almond milk (from my HEA), and PB2 peanut butter (2.5 syns), then topped with fruit.

Now, I confess, I haven’t yet tried the chocolate one, because I’m not eating chocolate during January (I know, insane, right?!), but as soon as we tick over into February, I’m going to be all over that stuff like snow on a ski slope in winter!

EDITED TO ADD: I’ve since tried the chocolate one too, and it is GORGEOUS! Seriously, it’s so delicious I nearly fell right over when I tried it!

I put some of the regular one into my porridge (which I made using 35g of oats as my HEB, and some almond milk from my HEA), and it was absolutely lush! I topped it all with raspberries and cherries, just to keep to the plan 100% by adding some speed.

Now, it is a little pricey – I paid £8.00 plus delivery from Amazon for the two jars (one of each), but I can honestly say I think it’s worth it, because you can make a hell of a lot of peanut butter with that amount. And because it’s powder, you don’t have to worry about it going off any time soon either – you just make up the amount you’re going to use, and it only takes a few seconds to do it. And to be honest, if you’re as bit a fan of peanut butter as I am, I think paying a little bit extra for a product that tastes AMAZING and costs you roughly half the syns of the regular stuff without filling you up with loads of junk is absolutely worth it.

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You know you want it!

 

Please note, I WAS NOT PAID FOR THIS REVIEW, nor was I given this product for free – I bought it myself for my own personal use, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Ready-Made Review: Slimming World Beef and Three-Bean Chilli Con Carne

Continuing with my reviews of the latest additions to the range of Slimming World microwave meals, today we move on to the Beef and Three-Bean Chilli Con-Carnie.

I HAVE NOT BEEN PAID FOR THESE REVIEWS, NOR WAS I GIVEN ANY PRODUCTS FOR FREE – I BOUGHT THEM MYSELF AND ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE ENTIRELY MY OWN.

11116395_10156060234990386_7130241732120503459_oBeef and Three-Bean Chilli Con-Carnie
Chilli is one of my favourite meals, but I tend to make mine quite explosively hot, so ready-made versions always seem to taste very bland by comparison. However, despite the Slimming World chilli being, understandably, rather mild, that does not detract from the impact of flavour!

There is a good meat and bean to sauce ratio, and the sauce isn’t watery at all, which is often a problem with microwave meals, and although at first glance it looked smaller than the original meals in the range (it weighs in at 450g), it’s actually rather deceptive, and there’s a very generous sized portion in the package.

As with most of the meals, there is no pasta or rice in this meal – it’s left to the individual slimmer to add whatever they want depending on what kind of day they plan to have, so if you’re having an SP day, with no rice, pasta, or potatoes, etc, this is a great meal to grab if you’re in a hurry, and you can feel confident that you won’t be eating anything off-plan, even if you are avoiding carbs.

Also, as with all the Slimming World meals, we are advised to add extra speed food, so I served mine with stir-fried onions, mushrooms and julienne carrots, and topped it with a little cheese from my HEA allowance, and it was delicious. The recipe is also on the reverse of the pack in case you want to replicate it from scratch when you have more time. As usual, the recipe on the back is for four portions, whereas the portion in the package is for one person. And it’s entirely syn-free (as are all the Slimming World meals), which is great!

This is actually one of my favourites so far (right up there with the Chicken Tikka Masala), and I will definitely keep one in the freezer for those lazy days when I can’t be bothered to cook from scratch myself. I’ll also certainly try the recipe on the back, although for personal preference, I’ll probably add just a touch more chilli to mine. 😉

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Ready-Made Review: Slimming World Chicken Saag

The latest additions to the Slimming World ready meal range have now been released, so I’ll be trying some of them out and giving my opinion on them here at Kell’s Slimming World Adventure. I’ll admit, I’ve been looking forward to having a taste! I’m a huge fan of Indian food, so I’m starting with the Chicken Saag…

I HAVE NOT BEEN PAID FOR THESE REVIEWS, NOR WAS I GIVEN ANY PRODUCTS FOR FREE – I BOUGHT THEM MYSELF AND ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE ENTIRELY MY OWN.

chicken saagSlimming World Chicken Saag
After enjoying both the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Sweet Potato Curry a great deal, I was expecting something pretty good from the Chicken Saag – and I wasn’t disappointed!

At first glance, there seemed to be not an awful lot of chicken in an awful lot of sauce, but once I’d got it on the plate, it turned out there was actually a fair amount of meat in there, and in good sized chunks. The sauce wasn’t very thick, but it wasn’t too runny either – somewhere in the middle (I think I would have preferred a little thicker, but that’s personal preferences).

I served mine with rice and stir-fried onions and red peppers, as the recommendation (as with all the Slimming World range of meals) is to add extra speed food. There is also the recipe on the back of the packet if you should decide you want to make it from scratch in the future.

The meal in the package is for one person, but the recipe on the reverse is for four people, which I know has sometimes caused a little confusion with some people who then assume the meal itself is for four people. Fear not, however, you can scoff the lot in one sitting all by yourself, and it’s all completely free!

It’s not a strong spicy curry – more a very mild, but flavoursome one – and I will definitely keep one or two of these in the freezer for nights when I can’t be bothered coking from scratch. A very tasty addition to the range!

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Recipe Review: Beef Kofte Curry

I tend to cook most meals from scratch. It’s a running joke that my cupboards are full of ingredients, with no “real food” in them at all – and it’s true – you’ll find tins of tomatoes and chickpeas and kidney beans, herbs and spices, fruit and vegetables, condiments and seasonings galore, but not much of anything you could just reach in and grab to eat straight from the packet. And I like it that way – it helps keep me on track if I have to actually make something to eat – I stop to ask myself if I can really be bothered, and it’s 50/50 as to what the answer will be!

On the whole, I tend to use recipes I’ve developed and adapted to my own tastes and those of my family, rather than making something straight out of a cookery book, or I’ll attempt to make my own version of something someone else has mentioned, but sometimes it’s nice to have a recipe to follow, so every now and then, I’ll post how a recipe I’ve tried worked out. On those occasions, I won’t post the actual recipe, as to do so would be to breach copyright, but I will point you in the direction of where it can be found, and mention any changes I made. and why I made them.

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My new favourite curry!

This week I thought I’d try one of Slimming World’s official recipes from their website, and as I adore a good curry, the one I chose was the BEEF KOFTA CURRY, which serves four people and is syn-free.

I dutifully went out and bought a few ingredients I didn’t already have to hand, and followed the recipe, which was easy enough. I didn’t have a mortar and pestle, so I ground the newly-purchased fennel seeds in a ramekin with the end of my rolling in (I’m nothing is not resourceful). I then realised, I didn’t have any curry powder in the house after all, so I used red Thai curry paste (1 syn per tbsp) – instead of the 2tbsps mentioned, I upped it to 4tbsp, as I like my curry spicy. This took the syns total to 1 syn per portion. I also added onions and mushrooms, which I lightly fried in a little Fry Light Coconut Oil before adding to the sauce with the beef, just to put some extra speed food in there, as I couldn’t be bothered with a side salad on this occasion.

At first, I thought the sauce was a little runny, but by the time my Thai jasmin rice was ready, it had thickened a little, and it soaked into the rice very nicely, so my dish wasn’t swamped with liquid as I was expecting. Instead, the sauce was rich, and oozing rather pleasantly. I did not bother with the suggested natural yoghurt on top, as I’m not keen on it.

Final verdict: Absolutely delicious! I had three portions left over (I’m the only one in our house who likes beef curry, so this one was just for me!), so I kept one portion in the fridge for the next night (which I served with Slimming World chips), and froze the other two portions.

This is a recipe I will definitely make again in the future. Probably very regularly. It’s every bit as nice as a curry I’d get from a good take-away restaurant, but without all the syns you’d usually have from that. Actually, it’s quite possibly nicer than many a take-away curry – it certainly hits the spot!

Ready-Made Review: Fry Light

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My little collection of Fry Light varieties

OK, so Fry Light isn’t a ready-meal, but it’s something that many people on the Slimming World plan use a lot, as it’s FREE on the plan, whereas you’d have to syn regular oil.

At just one calorie per spray, it can make a significant difference to our weight loss efforts. It’s a concoction of oil, water, alcohol, and various other ingredients, so do check to see if there are any allergens included that might affect you before you use it, and there have been reports of pans being wrecked by it, but I’ve not had much of a problem that way so far (I got myself a really good frying pan and that’s made a difference). Yes, there are health benefits to be had from some real oils, such as olive or coconut, but we don’t always have the syns to spare to use them, so how do they shape up?

There are now quite a few varieties on the market, and I think I’ve managed to test them all, so here’s what I think of them…

Fry Light Sunflower
This one’s great for your regular, everyday frying. It’s a good all-rounder, and it’s the one I use for things like fried eggs, as there’s no unusual flavour or aftertaste that I’ve detected. Comes in a 190mls bottle (although it used to be available in a 250mls bottle!)

Fry Light Olive
When I’m cooking Italian food, this is the one I grab from my cupboard. It has a light olive flavour and scent – not particularly strong, but just enough to hint at it being different from the Sunflower version. Available in a 190mls bottle.

Fry Light Butter Flavour
I wasn’t sure the first time I tried this one, but it’s great if you’re doing baked potatoes – spritz the potato with the buttery oil and sprinkle with salt before popping it in the oven, and it’s lovely! Available in a 190mls bottle.

Fry Light Coconut
If you’re a curry fan, this is the one for you! A nice coconutty smell when you spray it (not as nice as the real thing, but not bad at all). Also lovely for dessert-style dishes, such as sweet French toast with cinnamon – it just adds that little bit something extra with the flavour. Available in a 190mls bottle.

Fry Light Garlic Infuse
This one is incredibly strong – seriously, you only need a little of it. I use a combination of this and the Fry Light Butter to make a low-cal version of garlic bread with my HEb bread allowance. This comes in a smaller 120mls bottle.

Fry Light Chilli Infuse
I like to use this one when I’m cooking Mexican or Cajun food. It has just a nice amount of spice kick to it.  Like the garlic infuse, it comes in a smaller 120mls bottle.

In conclusion, theses are very handy to have in your cupboard, although it’s best to try and get them when there’s a special offer on, as they can be a little pricey at times. I do still prefer to use real olive or coconut oil when I have the syns to spare, but to be honest, I’d usually rather spend my syns on chocolate than oil!

Those are all the versions I’ve found so far. If I spot any others, I’ll be sure to pick them up and give them a try too, and I’ll add them here retrospectively. Incidentally, if anyone else knows of any other versions of Fry Light available, please do let me know by leaving a comment below!

Please note, I WAS NOT PAID FOR THIS REVIEW, nor was I given any products for free – I bought them myself for my own personal use, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.