Published on the 25th Aug, 2017 by Azmina
So, yesterday was National Burger Day. I decided to set off to review Mac & Wild, so that I could check out how you might make a healthier choice, whilst still enjoying the fun and frivolities of the atmosphere. Why Mac & Wild? I wanted to reconnect with my Scottish roots, and I must say the sensory stimulation did remind me of home. The tartan blanket over the bannister, the thistle pot on my table, and the Rabbie Burns poetry on the mirror, all added to the experience.
Let’s get down to the food…as with all menus, it’s easy to find the healthier choice if you’re looking for it. (BTW, I suggest you don’t go to eat out when you’re too hungry, as your salivary juices will just start oozing as you read the menu, and you might end up ordering more than you need. See my 5 top tips to help you make wise decisions). This blogpost isn’t about endorsing particular restaurants; it’s about helping you to make a better choice if you’re going there.
Starter – I recommend the smoked Scottish mackerel pate. It’s served with Melba sourdough toast (a low glycaemic index bread), and pickled cucumber, seaweed and chilli. Mackerel is an oily fish, so it supplies cardio-protective omega-3 fatty acids. If you want to pace yourself, put two slices of the sourdough toast aside (or give it away) and allow yourself generous dollops of the pate, drizzled with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Mains –the Mac & Wild story is about local food producers, and the menu changes daily according to whom the red deer was shot by, or the name of the farmer for today’s beef. The Wester Ross poached salmon and broad bean salad is the obvious nutritious choice, but I’m guessing if you come here, you’re probably attracted to the meats.
So, to my star choice:
Venison is lower in calories and fat than beef, lamb and pork. Roast venison has almost double the iron of roast lean topside of beef. And it has less than 25% of the cholesterol found in lean beef. I went for a small Venison steak. Here’s a tip: choose the 210 g if you’re watching your weight. Not because the meat itself is particularly high in calories (165kcal/100g roast venison), but because you’re likely to be adding calories from all your accompaniments. Order the Red John sauce rather than a creamy Béarnaise or blue cheese.
My suggestions for side dishes include charred leeks with coarse grain mustard (you don’t need to eat the egg yolk puree), and seasonal salad.
After all of that, you really won’t have room for dessert, esp. if you eat it slowly and allow the protein from the mackerel and the venison to signal your brain that you’re full. A nice mug of tea, immersion in the Burns poetry and good conversation with the staff about the brand heritage will complete your meal perfectly. Meet Harold…
My thanks to Mac & Wild for asking me to test the menu and give my honest opinion. This blog has not been influenced by Mac & Wild.
Data: nutritionselfdata.com and McCance & Widdowson’s Composition of Foods, 6th Ed.
Published on the 25th May, 2016 by Azmina
I’ve just published a brief feature on eggs, in my role as resident dietitian to patient.co.uk. Judging by the comments I received, it seems that the most surprising information was that “There’s no recommended limit on how many eggs you should eat in a week“. Yes, it’s true! Eggs are a great source of protein and essential nutrients, and although they contain cholesterol, this doesn’t have as much effect on your blood cholesterol as saturated fat.
I decided to test out Black Farmer eggs to see if they were in any way superior to regular eggs.
Published on the 1st Feb, 2015 by Azmina
In my quest to learn more about products and gadgets that help us to eat better, I decided to test out the new Ingenio range from Tefal*. I believe in using non-stick cookware that allows you to pan-fry in the minimum of oil, and being a busy mum, I’m always attracted to pots and pans that don’t need much effort in the washing up department…
What I made
My starter was one of my favourites – chicken samosas. I wanted to make them without added fat, and to bake them in place of deep-frying. So I started to use one of the pans and create the spicy low fat filling from this recipe.
Verdict: It was easy to use, and nothing stuck to the bottom. (more…)
Published on the 3rd Jun, 2014 by Azmina
In my quest to seek out places to eat whilst watching your waistline, I checked out the Four Seasons in Mayfair, for those times when you want to dine in style…I wasn’t disappointed. I discovered it was such a party for the taste buds that I write this blog in time for Father’s Day, incase you fancy treating dad to a nutritious and delicious sensory experience.
Warm continental bread was served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and I was mesmerised by the patterns on the specially designed plate. I should have asked him to stop drizzling that oil ages ago but it was so much fun to watch!
Published on the 26th Mar, 2014 by Azmina
With Mother’s Day around the corner, I decided to check out restaurants that fit the bill for lovely mums who fancy a tasty yet healthy day out in London. Today I visited 21, situated in the heart of Covent Garden.
I instantly liked the natural surroundings – the restaurant is located underground and the setting is a series of rustic alcoves with brick walls and stone flooring. I was keen to experience the healthier Italian dishes on offer, as I believe Mediterranean cuisine can be one of the most nutritious in the world.
We started off with wild mushroom and truffle risotto with mascarpone and parsley. It was a big portion, so just right for hungry mums, and although it had the texture you’d expect from a risotto, it wasn’t too creamy or rich. I couldn’t taste the truffle, which was a bit of a let down, but it was full of flavour and had a generous amount of wild mushrooms. It didn’t look or taste like it had been smothered in cream, butter or cheese, so I’d say it seemed to be a healthier version of classic risotto.
Published on the 25th Mar, 2014 by Azmina
my new machine
Surveys suggest that people tend to add fruit and vegetables to their shopping trolley, they proudly display fruit in a bowl, or store a variety of veg in the fridge, but by the end of the week much of it ends up not being eaten. In my quest to help people reach their five-a-day target, I decided to check out whether having the appropriate equipment (in my case, a Nutribullet) at home would make a difference.
When I first got my machine, I must admit, the box and cookbook were displayed in the kitchen for a few days, waiting for me to read the instructions and give it its first wash. But once I had overcome that hurdle, I decided to keep the machine on the kitchen surface with all the cups and blades nearby. I’ve learnt that in order to make any change to your eating habits, you need to make it easy for yourself, so I made sure everything was ready and within easy reach. That was step 1. So, did it make a difference?
Published on the 19th Feb, 2014 by Azmina
I get so many requests from people wanting to eat out whilst on a gluten-free diet that I just had to check out the gluten-free offerings at Pizza Express. There were a few things that you’d expect to be gluten-free – like olives and toasted almonds. But I wanted to be sure that people who need to avoid all gluten could be guaranteed a gluten-free meal and be saved from any embarrassment when out with friends.
My pizza party included people on a gluten-free diet as well as those who were watching their weight and we ordered an array of dishes to see if they tasted as good as they sounded on the menu.
What we ordered
Our starters included huge olives, dough balls (which unfortunately weren’t gluten free) and a creamy gluten-free risotto, which was demolished in seconds by all.
Published on the 13th Jan, 2014 by Azmina
I’m always keen to test out healthier versions of classic recipes and was recently attracted to Good Food Good Health, the latest book by Fatima Patel. Colour photos of mouth-watering dishes are always a good selling point, but my interest lies in the traffic light coded recipes, as I believe this helps people to make healthier choices at a glance.
Being Indian, I do like my food to be, let’s say, well flavoured, and flicking through the book, I see Chicken Kofte cooked in cumin and coriander, Enchiladas spiked with cayenne pepper, and Chicken Kashmir smothered in aromatic spices like garam masala and cinnamon.
The traffic lights are easy to read and the nutrition analysis relates to 100grams of the recipe, so it’s easy to compare one recipe with another and choose the one with more green or amber lights. I think the book could be improved by adding nutrition data per portion. I believe for the recipes to be of real practical use, we need to know how many calories we’re munching through, how much saturated fat we get in one serving, and so on. Otherwise we could end up eating a dish that we think is one thing according to the nutrient info, yet the amount on your plate tells a different story.
Published on the 8th May, 2013 by Azmina
Thanks to my friend Sumant Bhal, I was invited to the launch of Moti Mahal Delux in London. I didn’t know what to expect – I’d been told they created legendary dishes but I needed to sample them for myself.
As we walked in, the atmosphere was buzzing. It seemed to me that customers had taken in the aroma of the freshly roasted spices and had been lured into the restaurant even before it was officially opened. We were directed to our seats and then offered a taster menu of various delights. I was particularly interested in the healthier items, so here’s a sample of those dishes that won’t go straight to your waistline.
I had a platter of goodies including some spicy roasted aubergine, grilled chicken tikka, charred tandoori lamb, spicy potato cakes and grilled paneer with roasted tomato. All accompanied by a fresh mint chutney and home-baked naan bread (no butter or ghee on top). (more…)