Tag Archives: low calorie

Japanese Pancake – Okonomiyaki

Last Sunday the weather was so lovely that my husband and I decided to be tourists in our own city and went for a wander through The Rocks.  Of course we couldn’t miss walking through the market there and worked up quite an appetite doing so. 

There were plenty of food venders there to choose from and we set about finding a ‘healthy’ snack option.  That was when we saw these delicious looking pancakes being made.  Even though we frequent Japanese restaurants, I had never seen these pancakes before.  Called Okonomiyaki, there were 4 varieties to choose from – chicken, beef, seafood or vegetable.  All were chock full of vegetables and you know what a fan of vegetables I am, so that was it, decision made.

Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese style pancake that is made with a batter, shredded cabbage, other fresh grated/sliced vegetables & some type of meat/seafood – batters and fillings vary between the different regions of Japan. 

According to wikipedia, the name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked”.  Normally they are served topped with mayonnaise, a Japanese style barbecue sauce and are sprinkled with bonito flakes which appear to ‘dance’ as they move around in the heat rising from the pancake.

The one we ordered contained chicken as well as a stack of vegetables and we asked for only a little of the bbq sauce on top.  It was so yummy I couldn’t wait to try making them at home.  So after googling for ideas, I set about assembling my own version this afternoon, copying the vegetables in last weeks version (but you could pretty much use whatever you like – whatever is in the fridge) but omitting the chicken, and they turned out great.  Quick, easy and oh so healthy with all of those veggies tucked inside.  They were so tasty that they didn’t need any sauce or topping.

They make quite a decent sized snack which fills you up, but doesn’t leave you feeling heavy.  Perfect!

Please, Enjoy 🙂

My version of the Japanese (Vegetable) Pancake “Okonomiyaki”

  • 1/6 of a cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup green beans, sliced into 3cm lengths
  • ½ small red capsicum, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthways and sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup water (supposed to be dashi, but I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tspn Massel vegetable or chicken stock powder (for flavour since I didn’t have dashi)
  • pepper

In a large bowl mix together all of the chopped vegetables

In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, then gradually add flour.  Add water slowly and when fully mixed in and smooth, add stock powder and pepper.  Pour onto vegetables and mix well

Heat a small non-stick pan (with a matching lid – I used a saucepan lid) over low heat. Add a small amount of oil (1/2 tspn approx) and swish around to spread across base of pan. Using a large spoon, spoon about 3/4 cup of mixture into pan and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.  Place the lid on the pan and cook over low heat until golden brown about 3-4 minutes.

Carefully flip pancake over and cook other side for 2-3 more minutes.

And there you have your delightful, delicious, chock full of veggies – japanese pancake ready to eat 🙂

Each pancake has 160 calories, 8g protein & 6g of fibre

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Vegetable Pikelets with Avocado Topping

Avocadoes have been lovely lately and very reasonably priced 🙂

Avocadoes are a wonderful source of many important nutrients such as Vitamins A, C & E, folate and fibre.  They are also one of the few fruit that contain fat, however this is monounsaturated fat which is a healthy fat that our bodies like and use.  This fat helps to provide the creamy texture which makes avocadoes a wonderful topping on toast, bruschetta, dry biscuits and in this case, vegetable pikelets. 

The idea for these pikelets came from a visit to the Harvest Picnic in Werribee Park, Melbourne about 5 years ago!  The people on the stand promoting avocadoes could not make these pikelets fast enough.  The original recipe actually had avocado in the pikelet mix and used carrots instead of pumpkin and tomato instead of red capsicum.  I think they taste just as good my way.  Another adaptation would be to add some grated tasty or parmessan cheese to the mix.  This would however greatly increase the fat content and consequently, calories.

As it is, this recipe is really quick and easy to whip up and could also be a good one for the kids to try.  They would make a great after school snack and what a great way to get more vegies into the kids!! Enjoy 🙂

Vegetable Pikelets

1 small red onion, diced finely

1 cup of grated pumpkin

1 medium zucchini, grated

1 small red capsicum, finely chopped (1/3 cup approx)

3 Tbspn wholemeal self raising flour

1 egg, beaten

3 Tbspn low fat milk

Small amount of oil or spray for cooking (approx 2 teaspoons)

1 ripe avocado, mashed

1-2 Tbspn fresh coriander, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon or lime to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste


Combine vegetables and flour.  Mix through egg and milk.  Season with salt and pepper.

Brush non stick frying pan with a tiny amount of oil or spray and place over heat.  Drop tablespoonfuls of batter into pan and cook until brown.  Flip over and cook a further 2-3 minutes. 

Place on a baking tray and bake in pre-heated moderate oven (160 degrees) for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with avocado topping.  Serve immediately.

When it’s not avocado season you could top them with a really good tomato or mango relish

Avocado topping…

Mix coriander through avocado, then add juice to taste.  Spoon onto pikelets just before serving

Makes 20 pikelets

Each little pikelet has 188kJ or 45 calories when topped with avocado (a little less if you use relish)

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Muffin Mania

Muffins are one of my favorite snacks as they are so quick and easy to make, you don’t need to make much mess when making them, they don’t take long to cook, are easy to portion control and freeze well. 

I use over-ripe bananas when cooking as they are tastier and help with the raising.  When bananas get over-ripe, peel them, wrap them in glad wrap and freeze.  Allow around 20 mins to thaw when you want to use them (chopping them up a bit will help defrost them faster).  Frozen bananas whizzed with some yoghurt make a delicious snack in summer too.

These muffins are deliciously soft and squidgey with a lovely crunch from the walnuts.  Walnuts team really well in carrot cakes and muffins and have the benefit of containing the all-important omega 3 fatty acids. Enjoy 🙂

Carrot & Banana Muffins

1/2 cup white self raising flour 

1/4 cup wholemeal self raising flour 

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2  tspn cinnamon  

1/4 tspn nutmeg   

1 tspn vanilla

1 large egg                                                                                                                                        

2 1/2 Tbspn olive oil

1 over-ripe banana, mashed  

1 large carrot, grated  

1/4 cup dessicated coconut  

2 Tbspn raisins

2 Tbspn walnuts, chopped roughly

Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees.  Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

In a large bowl, sift flours together with spices.  Add sugar, grated carrot, walnuts, raisins, coconut and stir together.

Whisk egg, add oil, vanilla and banana in medium sized bowl.  Mix well.  Pour into dry ingredients and fold through until JUST combined.

Spoon into prepared pans and bake in moderately hot oven for 18 mins approx.

Makes 12 muffins with 115 calories each, 5g fat (1g sat fat) & 1.2g fibre

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Banana Bread (or it is really cake?)

When was it that banana cake suddenly became known as banana bread?  And is there really any difference?

My understanding is that banana bread is really a low fat banana cake cooked in a loaf tin, rather than a round cake pan.  However I don’t think there is any clear definition of that, especially after I checked on calorie king and found that a serve of banana bread at McDonalds has a whopping 581 calories!  That is more calories than a Big Mac (493 calories) or a standard dinner of meat and vegetables (around 450-500 calories), yikes!  Muffin Break isn’t much better with a 107g serve having 346 calories. Mind you, 107g slice is a rather large serve.  Still again that is more calories than most sandwiches!

My banana ‘bread’ recipe is a combination of a few different recipes that I have played around with, including the one on the institute of sport website and it is really a lower fat banana cake.

I cook the cake in a large square tin rather than a loaf tin to reduce the cooking time as overcooking low fat cakes can make them tough.  It is also easier to slice into smaller slices this way.

I have to admit that I prefer to use butter as I find that using butter in low fat cakes improves the texture and flavour.  If you are watching your saturated fat intake, substitute it with margarine or oil. It will still be yummy!

Banana Bread (low fat banana cake)

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ½ cup wholemeal self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 ½ tablespoons (approx 50 g) butter, melted
  • ½ cup low fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed banana (made from 2 large or 3 medium-sized, very ripe bananas)

Grease and line a 9-inch (23 cm) square cake tin.

Preheat the oven to 170 C.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, bicarb soda and cinnamon. Mix in the sugar.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg and egg white.  Continue whisking while you add in the yoghurt, vanilla and banana puree.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and stir in the wet ingredients with a spatula until just combined; don’t over mix as this works the gluten and can make the ‘bread’ tough.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the centre feels lightly-springy and just done.

Cool on a baking rack.

Easily cuts into 16 slices at 120 calories per 50g serve

This recipe can also be used to make individual muffins if preferred

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Vegetable Soup

Need to increase your vegetable intake?  This is a terrific way to do so.

There are many ‘diets’ or ‘detoxes’ that promote the use of soups like this one, however this is all you get to eat while following them.  Those diets and detoxes are a load of rubbish, but this type of soup actually makes a good snack 🙂

It is full of delicious, nutritious vegetables and it is very low in calories.  However it is also very low in carbohydrates and protein so it won’t keep you full for very long.  To make a longer lasting snack, team it with slice of fresh or toasted sourdough rye or wholegrain bread (wholegrain = wholemeal base with a mixture of grains added).  Both of these breads are excellent low GI choices. Or you could add a can of any type of bean (kidney, butter, cannelini) or chickpeas.

If you are not watching your weight, I recommend you sprinkle some good quality parmessan cheese on either the soup, or the bread/toast, or why not both!….yum 🙂

Chunky Vegetable Soup

Makes around 2.5 litres or 8 decent-sized snacks


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, diced
  • 1 cup of diced pumpkin (approx 150g)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups finely chopped/shredded cabbage
  • 1 x 400g can of crushed tomatoes (rinse out tin with water and add this too)
  • 1 litre of liquid stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh herbs if available (parsley, basil, chives)


Add onion and garlic to a large non-stick pot.  Sautee for about 4-5 minutes adding water as needed to stop it from burning or sticking (that’s right, no oil needed!)

Add carrots, celery, pumpkin, zucchini and tomatoes.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. 

(Sometimes, if short on time, I don’t sautee the onion and garlic first and just throw everything into the pot and start cooking.  Sauteeing first does develop the flavour though.)

Add cabbage and simmer a further 5 minutes.  Add pepper and herbs before serving.

(If you prefer your soups thinner, add a little extra water or stock)

Per serve of soup = 48 calories and 3g of fibre

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Banana and Blueberry Muffins


 Mmmm, muffins.  What a great snack they make 🙂 especially straight out of the oven and if they are healthy.

With a base of wholemeal flour, lots of fruit, low fat dairy and minimal amounts of sugar and oil, these muffins are moist and delicious, low GI AND a healthy choice!

Muffins are typically best on the day they are made, so I freeze any extras.  I prefer to wrap them individually in glad wrap.  I can then grab one out of the freezer, add it to my “lunch box” and it will be thawed ready to eat by morning tea time.

I also tend to make my muffins quite small, well small when compared to those that you normally get in a cafe.  I find a small muffins just as satisfying as a larger one!

I used over-ripe bananas in this recipe.  Over-ripe bananas are best used for muffins and cakes not only as they are easier to mash, but their flavour intensifies as the starch is converted into sugar.  They also help your muffins or cakes to rise more.  If I ever have over-ripe bananas and do not want to use them straight away, I peel them, wrap individually in glad wrap and freeze them.  They only take around 20 minutes to thaw.

Banana & Blueberry Muffins

  •  2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 large egg
  • just a bit less than 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup low fat yoghurt
  • ½ cup low fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 over-ripe bananas, mashed

 Preheat oven to 170 degrees

Line 2 x 12 hole muffin trays with patty pan cases

Into a large bowl, sift the flour, then add the sugar and blueberries. Toss blueberries to coat well with flour (this helps to evenly disperse them through the muffins).

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg with a fork.  Add oil, yoghurt, milk, vanilla and bananas and whisk until well combined.

Pour egg and yoghurt mix into flour mixture and using a large spoon, fold in until JUST combined (over mixing will make muffins tough).

Spoon mix into prepared pans and bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm when pressed lightly on top.

Makes 24 small muffins

Each delicious muffin has a mere 98 calories and nearly 2g of fibre…YUM!


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Zucchini, Corn and Fetta Fritters

Initially inspired by a lovely looking recipe I saw in the March issue of Notebook for zucchini, pea and haloumi fritters while out and about.  Only that when I got home I didn’t have any peas (but I had corn) or haloumi (but I had fetta), thus these were born.   

They were so quick and easy to make.  I used wholemeal flour to help lower the GI and boost the fibre (although with the zucchini and corn they are already quite high in fibre.)  If you want to limit the fat content, you could use low fat fetta (I only had full fat on hand)

I served them with a delicious homemade mango chutney, however tomato chutney, natural yoghurt or tzatziki would also go well with them.

They are definitely a delicious snack, but they would also make a great light lunch served with a green salad.

Zucchini, pea and fetta fritters

Makes 9 large (low calorie) fritters

  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ¼ cup wholemeal self raising flour
  • 50g fetta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 spring onion or 3-4 chives, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Massel vegetable stock powder (or you can use salt)
  • Pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked
  • Small amount of olive oil for cooking (2 teaspoons approx)
  • To serve: natural yoghurt; tzatziki; tomato or mango chutney

Place the zucchini, corn, flour, spring onion, fetta, stock powder and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the egg and stir until well combined.

Heat a very small amount of oil (as little as 1/2 teaspoon if possible) in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.

Spoon large tablespoonfuls of mixture around the pan, allowing a small amount of room for spreading.

Cook for 3-4 minutes or until fritters are golden. Use a spatula to turn and cook the other side for a further 2-3 minutes. To test if the fritters are cooked through, gently press the middle of each fritter to see if it is firm. 

When cooked, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Serve immediately, while fritters are still warm with yoghurt or chutney if desired.

Each fritter, cooked with minimal oil (and not including condiments) contains a tiny 60 calories  🙂 WOW!

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