I can’t quite believe that another school year is almost over and the summer holidays are now less than a month away. I am also struggling to come to terms with the fact that we are going to be holidaying in Europe for the first summer in many years and will be buying Euros in a post Brexit currency apocalypse. The kids can’t work out why the hedonist and I are so p****d off about the whole thing and I should hasten to add that it’s not just because of the overnight hike in the price of Sangria.
Anyway, back to the issue of the holiday. Despite my weight loss, I have happily consigned my bikini days to a distant pre-baby, pert-breasted and taut-abs past. The girls, however, seem to be spending an inordinate amount of their spare time at the gym which is I suppose better than having a fag behind the bike sheds which was my most popular teenage hangout. And one of them has embarked upon a Slimfast diet campaign with admirable commitment, no doubt assisted by the fact that all the meal replacements involve chocolate. Which is fine as it goes, but does mean I am back to rigorously counting calories for the evening meal as the diet regime specifies a 600 calorie healthy supper.
As it won’t harm the rest of us to shed a pound or two before we head off for a lazy two weeks in the sun that will no doubt involve all of us eating too much and drinking irresponsibly (me and the husband, not the kids) I am embracing this latest fad, on the condition it only lasts a month. It’s just as well it’s summer, the season of salads if not necessarily sunshine, as the provision of meals has to be crammed in between gym trips and the resulting taxi service which is my unerring joy to provide. So stuff that can be pre-prepared and eaten cold as soon as my starving post workout offspring hit the kitchen threshold is the order of the day.
Yesterday, I indulged the dieting daughter’s request to ‘cook’ something from the Slimfast website: the result was an incredibly tasty and gratifyingly healthy Greek Quinoa salad. Quinoa is a fantastic diabetic food and great for vegetarians so it ticks all our boxes and if you cheat and buy packets of it pre-cooked (I used the Merchant Gourmet red and white quinoa) it couldn’t be easier.
Quinoa is one of the most protein rich foods you can eat and, unusually for a grain (botanically speaking it is a seed apparently) it contains all the essential amino acids. It has a low GI of 53 and almost twice the fibre content of most other grains whilst packing in a decent amount of iron. It is also rich in potassium, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin E. Each portion of this recipe also contains just under 4 of your 5 a day and at just 445 calories, you can easily up the protein content of the meal by serving it with a tasty marinated chicken breast or, in the daughters’ case, a veggie bean burger bringing the total calorie count to 600. Job done.
- 500 grammes cooked quinoa I used Merchant Gourmet's red and white ready to eat
- 140 grammes feta cheese or a reduced fat equivalent
- 140 grammes olives
- 400 grammes cherry tomatoes halved or quartered depending on size
- 320 grammes Cucumber halved, deseeded and cut into 1/2cm slices
- 320 grammes red pepper deseeded and chopped into 1cm dice
- 80 grammes red onion halved and thinly sliced
- large handful fresh mint finely chopped
- 2 lemons juiced
- 4 tsp olive oil
- Prepare all the salad vegetables and place in a large serving dish. It is worth deseeding the cucumber if you are preparing this in advance so that the salad doesn't become soggy with the watery seeds.
- Add the quinoa and mint and combine well with clean hands to break down any clumps without squishing the salad.
- Add lemon juice and oil and stir through gently, before crumbling the feta over the top.