Archive | Healthy Eats RSS feed for this section

Kaffir Lime and Nutty Rice Salad

10 Feb

20140211-062643.jpg
Tasty and quite easy, this salad is a nice change from my usual greenery based salads. I find it serves well on its own for lunch, or for dinner with a side meat of choice. Tonight we went with honey, soy and sesame chicken cooked under the grill in the oven, and that worked a treat.

This recipe is from the Woman’s Weekly: Salads cookbook.20140211-062651.jpg

Beetroot and Feta Dip

6 Jan

Dip it! Yeah, Dip it Good! 🙂

20130106-211424.jpg

I’ve never liked Beetroot, for various reasons, one being that I have probably only ever been exposed to tinned beets, but more probably because my Mum doesn’t like it. Isn’t that so the way as we grow up? 🙂

But there were fresh beetroots at my Farmers Markets and I thought, “Come on, Sam. You are old enough to give it a go.” And so I did. I admitted cluelessness to the man at the stall, and he said that I could also use the leaves for salads, which I did – and they were ok; peppery like rocket.

But my plan was to make dip, and it went really well, so here we go.

What’s the deal?

Wrap fresh, real (not tinned), uncooked beets in aluminum foil, putting a little water inside each package. Pop them on a tray, also covered in foil, as they leak a bit and (as I discovered) create a sticky mess. Into the oven they go at 180 – 200 degrees for at least an hour and a half. Turns out, beets are surprisingly slow to cook (who knew?), so you need to think ahead a bit for this one.

I used 4 beets and this made twice as much as I really needed. I think I would halve this recipe next time.

Allow the beets to cool down a bit and then blend them in your blender. Add 200 grams of Feta Cheese, and blend it all together. It becomes this beautiful purple/pink colour. So lush. Season to taste, salt, pepper etc.  You’re done! Dip in with fresh bread and raw veggies! 🙂

A Few Notes:

  • There are versions of this recipe that bake the beets with oil and salt and pepper and herbs – I haven’t tried it, although it sounds delicious. The way I am explaining here (above) worked perfectly well, and lead to a very tasty dip.
  • These are the two Farmers Markets I shop at in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, NSW. They are both excellent and worth a visit.
  • My husband says I am a Feta snob. 🙂 I am ok with that, you can really, REALLY taste the difference. I’m not into advertising, but I have tried a lot of Feta and these days I only use Dodoni Feta. It is the only one (easily available in supermarkets in my world) that is amazing. It looks like this, keep an eye out for it and if you have it, spend the few extra dollars sometime to try it:

dodoni

A Seasonal Note: Beetroot is pretty much in season all year round in Australia! 🙂 Yay Beetroot!

Summer Fruit Blendies!

23 Dec

20121223-163318.jpg

It’s hot here. Like, I mean it is really hot. Summer has arrived and for me that means it’s Fruit Blendies (smoothie) time. The “Boost Juice” places that are around are so yum, there is no denying that – but do you know why? Its called sugar, people. 🙂 The one thing my dentist really tells me to avoid is those places. Sigh and sadface, Mr Dentist. But never fear, and alternative is here! Have a go at these two blendies. Less sugar than those places, and full on delicious anyway.

In both cases add all ingredients to a blender. Blend. Pour. Drink. Enjoy.

Recipe 1 – What you need:
1 mango
1/2 banana
1/2 lime (juice of)
Handful of berries (whatever you have)
2 mint leaves (I use more, but I like mint)
Handful of ice
1 cup of milk (can leave this out if you would rather dairy free.)

or/

Recipe 2 (Dairy Free) – What you need:
1/2 banana
1 orange (juice of)
2 strawberries
2 mint leaves
6 blueberries
Handful of watermelon chunks (remove seeds)
1/2 slice of pineapple or wedge of rock melon
Handful of ice

Yummo! Obviously these blendies can be made year round, but summer fruits actually being in season at the moment is too good an opportunity to miss! 🙂

There are heaps of idea for these drinks out there. If you have a tried and tested one, share it with us in the comments below. 🙂

Seed Lovers Salad w Roasted Pumpkin

5 Nov

20121105-122818.jpg
This salad is kinda a combo of my favourite salad and favourite muesli. Nuts and seeds offer us so many important nutrients as part of our everyday requirements, and too often they are missed out. While they can be super expensive from the supermarkets, I’ve found that they are surprisingly cheap from the farmers markets. If you’re not someone who is yet into farmers markets, have a Google around, and see where your local market is. They are much more accessible than they used to be.

Here is an easy, and tasty way of working seeds and nuts into your lunch.

What’s in it?

  • Pumpkin, cut into small pieces and roast in olive oil, salt and pepper

Get the pumpkin sorted first, while it is baking sort the rest out. The pumpkin will be ready by the time all else is chopped, mixed and in the bowl/s (or lunch boxes) ready to serve.

The rest of the tasty things:

  • Cashews
  • Flax seed (or linseed)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower kernels
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Baby spinach (or mixed lettuce leaves or rocket would work)
  • Carrot, peeled thinly
  • Baby tomatoes, halved
  • Avocado, in small pieces
  • Red capsicum, in small pieces
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil/balsamic/ranch dressing (whatever floats your boat)

A Seasonal Note just for us to keep in mind: (In Australia)
Capsicums – are in season in Summer
Carrots – Summer, Autumn, Winter
Pumpkin – Summer, Autumn
Tomatoes – Summer, Autumn
Spinach – Winter, Spring, Summer
Avocados – all year

Jamie’s Smash

20 Oct

20121020-203336.jpg

This is (our bastardised version) of one of Jamie Oliver’s quick meal ideas. We use it A LOT. It is, as he would say, “proper tasty”. We have his 30 Minute Meals book, but I couldn’t find it in there. We pulled this from his tv show.

What is in it?

  • 1 – 2 Potatoes halved or quartered
  • 1 – 2 Sweet Potatoes halved or quartered (or sometimes we use pumpkin, depending what is in the house.)
  • A handful of chopped Feta Cheese
  • A handful of chopped fresh coriander (The coriander really makes this recipe. We have a friend who doesn’t eat coriander and we replace it with parsley when they come to dinner. It really is not the same, but it does the job.)
  • Chilli (Fresh is best, but when we do use dried chilli we chop some red capsicums very finely and add them in too.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Cook the potatoes. Jamie cooks his potatoes (both kinds) in the microwave in a bowl covered in cling wrap. We just boil them and drain them (drain them well).

Meanwhile, “dress the board”. This is an expression Jamie uses when he serves things on a “rustic” wooden chopping board. Drizzle olive oil over a large board, add salt and pepper. Chop the coriander, fetta, chilli roughly. They will get more chopping later.

After the potatoes are cooked through put them on the “dressed” board, on top of the other ingredients. Using a large knife chop the potatoes mixing through the ingredients. Use the flat side of the knife to flatten the potatoes and flip the underside ingredients to the top. Leave some large chunks throughout. It is a smash, not a pureed mash.

Serve immediately. It goes cold really fast.

20121020-203326.jpg

Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

16 Oct

This is one of my fav dips. Awesome on its own, dipping with biscuits, bread or fresh cut veggies. Also great with lamb, kofta, cous cous etc. It is from The Australian Woman’s Weekly Cookbooks: Great Vegetarian Foods.

A tip on straining whey from yogurt:
You know that watery stuff that you get on top of natural yogurt? It needs to be strained before you can use it for dips etc.
I have strained yogurt the “proper” way before, but to be honest usually I don’t bother. I have a lot of food paraphernalia around my house, but seriously, cheese cloth… on hand… all the time? Yeah, that’s not happening.
Here is an alternative method, which works just fine.

Place a smaller strainer (just the kind you would drain pasta in, or wash small veggies or herbs) over a bowl. Make sure it can balance there on its own. Line the strainer with about 4 layers of good quality paper kitchen towel. Dump the yoghurt onto the paper. Place the whole “thing” into the fridge. The paper and bowl will draw out/catch excess whey from the yogurt, making a thicker, more delicious end product. 20121103-233713.jpgLeave it in the fridge for a few hours at least, but over night is ideal. You can loosely cover the whole thing in glad wrap, I suppose, if that’s your sort of thing.

Make this dip at least one day before you want to eat it. It gives all the ingredients time to make friends and invade one another’s personal taste space. 🙂

20121016-231350.jpg

HOW TO: Make fresh pasta

13 Oct

Here is a link to a video of how I make fresh pasta.

What’s in it?

  • 200 grams of plain flour (plus extra to use during process)
  • 3 free range eggs

A Tip on cooking fresh pasta:

Whether you are cooking it fresh straight after you have made it, or whether you are pulling your fresh made pasta from the freezer (it freezes excellently UNCOOKED) this tip is the same.

Add salt and a drizzle of olive oil to water and get it boiling. The olive oil stops the pasta from sticking together. The salt adds muchly important taste. Remembering that it is not a processed food with salt added at the factory to preserve it for a 100 years on a shelf.

Once the water is boiling add your pasta. As you stir and separate the pasta with a fork, watch it. The water will stop boiling for a little bit. Once it returns up to the boil, then your pasta is pretty much ready to be strained. Obviously this takes longer with the frozen pasta, but the same rule applies.

You will know if you have over cooked your fresh pasta because you will be eating a sloppy mess of unpleasantness. Try not to overcook it, it makes me sad.

It should only take a few minutes  and the correct result should be silken pasta that you bite into and think, “Oh man. Seriously? THAT is what pasta is supposed to taste like? All those years!! All those wasted years!!”

No pasta maker machine? No problem.

Never fear, roll the dough out with a rolling pin or (dare I suggest) a wine bottle. 😉 And then simply cut strips with a sharp knife. Wide strips work really well.

Fabulous Fruit

9 Oct

I find it heaps easier to remember to eat fruit if it’s cut up and looking ridiculously stunning.

20121019-061036.jpg

Sure, I could present it in a beautiful white bowl, with some natural yogurt and honey in the background (YUM btw), but that’s not what this blog is about. It is about me, at 6am, making my lunch for work and thinking, “Gosh, that is just too easy (and delicious!) not to share!” That’s all.

What’s in it?

  • An orange (segmented)
  • A handful of blueberries
  • Half a punnet of strawberries (halved with their greens removed)
  • A few mint leaves from the garden thrown in at the last minute.

Just you try NOT (healthily) snacking on that all day, I dare ya! 🙂

Seasonal Note: While different varieties of oranges are available throughout the year (Navel in the warmer months and Valencia in the cooler), in Australia blueberries and strawberries are only in season in Summer. That’s December, January, February. Just something for us all to keep in mind. 😉

Museli should be toasted – got that?

7 Oct

20121020-163954.jpg

My fav way to start the day (or finish the day, or spend the day) is in the sun, with a pot of tea and a bowl of this – my homemade toasted muesli. I like it with natural yoghurt, honey and fruit. It’s really filling and really good for you. I have tried really hard to like the soggy so called “trendy” bircher muesli that circulates in cafes, but I just can’t enjoy it. I like my muesli to go *crunch munch munch crunch mmmmm* True story.

This one sorta actually kind of IS my recipe. It is a combination of various other toasted muesli and “granola” recipes that I have read, and it’s also inspired by a Low GI muesli recipe that a friend gave me. Over the years it really has become a “whatever is in the cupboard becomes that week’s muesli” situation.

What’s in it?

You can use a combination of any of the below. The apple juice and the oats are kind of the backbone though. Obviously if you add ALL the fruit options it is much sweeter than just one or two of them. Each to their own though, you might really like dried fruit.

  • 3 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of oat bran (I have also used “bran” cereal plenty of times too)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (100 grams each) of any of the following nuts: hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup (each) of any of the following seeds: flax seed (or linseed), pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, sesame seeds, pepitas
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 1 cup (each) of any of the following dried fruits: apple, cranberries, mulberries, sultanas… any fruit you want really. 🙂

Mix all the dry ingredients, except the fruit, together in a bowl. Spread out over a baking tray. Pour the juice over the entire tray and stir through. Bake for 40 mins at 160 degrees. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and stir through to get rid of the lumps. Don’t let it burn. There is no saving it once it tastes like burnt grossness.

You can add the fruit in at the very end while the muesli is cooling, or you can add it in for the last “10 minute baking block” if you prefer them a little toasted.

Serve with natural yoghurt, honey and fresh (or thawed, frozen) fruit. You could use milk instead of the yogurt, if that is your sort of thing.

20121020-164004.jpg

NEWSFLASH! Ravioli: It should not taste like cardboard

7 Feb

I’m always disappointed when I order ravioli at restaurants and you just know they have tipped it out of a frozen packet.

NO! Rah! Grr!

It’s not hard to make, and you CAN taste the difference!! Fresh ravioli is silky and soft. It melts in your mouth. The filling should be a feature, not just that, a filler.

Here is my fresh ravioli I made in the afternoon, awaiting my friends arrival for dinner. They are drying out a little on a chopping board. This helps them hold their shape when they are plunged into the boiling water.

20121008-022347.jpg

Here is the recipe I “base” my ravioli filling on. It is from the “Vegetarian: More than 150 Family Recipes” cookbook. Mostly for this one I throw stuff together in a bowl and taste test until its right though. I substitute Feta, instead of Ricotta (just a personal preference) and I use whatever fresh herbs I have around. Note also that this is not the method I use to make pasta, although I’m sure it would be fine. You can view how I make fresh pasta here.

20121008-023511.jpg

Edit: 22/10/12
Here is another I made last night. Roasted pumpkin (with salt, pepper and olive oil), mashed with nutmeg. Feta and parsley on top.

20121022-224700.jpg

Killer Salad, yo.

20 Dec

This one has become known as, “Sam’s Big Salad”. It’s actually one of the more healthy things I make. This one was for a christmas gathering, so it is HUGE. I works just as well for small lunches. I make it in layers, because I hate when you serve salad and miss out on all the good bits.

20121008-021708.jpg

What’s in it?

  • Rocket
  • Baby spinach
  • Mixed lettuce leaves
  • Carrot, peeled thinly
  • Baby tomatoes, halved
  • Pumpkin, cut into small pieces and roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Avocado, in small pieces
  • Red capsicum (blanched for 30 seconds just to soften it slightly)
  • Pine nuts, toasted
  • Cashews, toasted
  • Feta cheese, cubed
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil/balsamic/ranch dressing (whatever floats your boat)

What to do:

It’s a salad and you’re not an idiot. 🙂 Pretty sure you can figure it out. Have fun layering tasty delicious foods. 3 layers is good.

Seasonal Note: There is merit in knowing a little about the so called “fresh” foods we consume. What we really need is to start learning about (what our grandparents knew about) is when foods are actually in season, not just when the shops are selling them. In doing this we can begin to buy foods seasonally, ingest actually happy foods, and start to take back some of the control from the big chains. Just something for us all to keep in mind. 😉

A guide for this recipe: (for Australia)
Avocados – all year
Capsicums – are in season in Summer
Carrots – Summer, Autumn, Winter
Pumpkin – Summer, Autumn
Tomatoes – Summer, Autumn
Spinach – Winter, Spring, Summer
Lettuces – Summer, Autumn

So I’m thinking perhaps this is a “Summer/ Autumn salad”. 🙂 I’m learning in all this too.

%d bloggers like this: