Monthly Archives: June 2014

Olive, herb and parmesan loaf

Olive, herb and paremesan loafThis is a bread that I keep baking over and over and all my lunch guests love!! Just the smell of this savoury loaf, packed with cheese, herbs, olives and roasted capsicums will make your mouth water!! It’s very easy to make and is delicious for lunch with a bowl of soup and a big salad.

It’s too good to keep

The bread is best eaten really fresh from the oven, but will keep for a couple of days. You can wrap it in aluminium foil and warm it through in the oven or slice it and toast it, though, if it’s like in my house, there probably won’t be any leftovers anyway.

Ingredients to serve 4-6 people

butter for greasing
75g stuffed olives
75g roasted capsicums (found them in jars at the supermarket)
1tbsp. thyme leaves
1tbsp. chives finely chopped
125g parmesan, grated (I always use Grana Padano but it’s up to you which one to use)
350g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp each salt and black pepper
1tsp dry mustard
2 eggs, beaten
300ml buttermilk or buttermilk and plain yoghurt, mixed
2-3tbsp olive oil
eggwash made with 1 egg and a little cold water, beaten
springs of thyme, slices of capsicums and flakes of sea salt for topping.

The equipment you will need is a 900g silicone loaf pan

1- Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the loaf pan and either line it with baking paper or lightly dust it with flour.

2- Cut the olives and the capsicums into slices, Strip the thyme leaves off their stalks and strip the chives into small pieces. Grate the parmesan.

3- Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper and the mustard powder together into a large bowl.

4- Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Whisk the buttermilk or yoghurt in a jug with the olive oil, then add them to the eggs and beat together.

5- Mix the olives, capsicums, herbs and cheese into the flour mixture. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir until you achieve a thick, sticky batter.

6- Use a spatula to scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.

7- Smooth the top of the loaf and paint with eggwash. Decorate with extra springs of thyme and slices of capsicums. Scatter with flakes of sea salt. Bake the loaf in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the top is risen and golden, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean,

8- Cool the loaf in the pan for at least 10 minutes and then turn it onto a rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve.

Cook’s tip

Substitute sun-dried tomatoes for the capsicums or, if you like a bit of bite, slice up some pepperoncini and add those. Which ever you choose, drain off any oil and brine and pat dry before using.


Hot chillies spice up your weight loss

chilliesAdd some hot chillies to your shopping list- recent studies show that spicy foods can help you to burn more calories.

The weight loss benefits of hot peppers have long been speculated, and now scientific research is backing it up. Hot spices increase your body temperature, meaning you burn extra calories and get a swift metabolism boost just from eating. This is because of the capsaicin contained in spicy peppers, which gives you that hot, powerful flavour.

So make your meal a little more exotic- Mexican, Thai, Indian and Chinese food do spicy quite nicely. Add that spicy taste and flavour and give your weight loss plan a little kick!

Why it works
Capsaicin is what causes that burning feeling in your mouth when you eat spicy food. That burning feeling, recent studies have suggested, cause the pain receptors in your mouth to send messages to the brain for fast relief. The brain reacts by pumping adrenaline through the body and speeding up the heart rate, which causes sweating and increased calorie burn.

The UCLA Centre for Human Nutrition recently conducted a study that demonstrated the potential health and weight loss benefits of hot chillies. 34 people trying to lose weight were put on a low-calorie liquid diet for 28 days, with half taking a placebo supplement, and half taking one of two doses of DCT or dihydrocapsiate, which simulates the effects of capsaicin.
The results showed that the particpants taking the highests level of DCT had the highest energy expenditure- burning almost double the amount of calories than those taking no DCT. They also showed significantly greater rates of fat-burning than the control group.
The amount of capsaicin that you consume with each pepper really does depend on the pepper, and the hotter the pepper that you are consuming, the higher the levels will be. But starting to include more jalapenos, habaneros, serranos and chilli peppers in your diet plan can have an impact on your weight loss.

Other health benefits

Hot peppers are also full of antioxidants, and are good sources of many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese. So adding more hot peppers to your diet not only boosts your metabolism, but can improve your overall health. Capsaicin has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used to treat many chronic health conditions, as well as migraines, arthritis and muscle pain. The average hot pepper also contains about 3 grams of fibre, which can help make you feel fuller, so you eat less.

Ways to enjoy hot peppers

One way to add more hot peppers into your diet is to crush them- or buy them crushed in flakes- and sprinkle them onto your food. You can add them to almost any meal, giving it an extra flavour hit as well as helping your metabolism. Some good ideas are adding them to your pasta sauce, or a stir fry, or a casserole. Or, explore more exotic foods. Indian, Mexican, Thai and Chinese cuisines are full of delicious hot spices, and there are lots of healthy varieties