Home-made Tandoori Paste

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IMG_4681Sick of buying commercial marinades that are more often than not loaded with artificial flavours, preservatives and additives? Why not try whipping up your own? This easy peasy tandoori paste recipe takes just minutes to prepare and pretty much leaves those store bought pastes for dead when it comes to flavour and overall nutritional value!

What you need…

–       1 tsp coriander seeds

–       1 tsp black mustard seeds

–       1 tsp fennel seeds

–       1 tsp cumin

–       2 tsp paprika

–       1 tsp turmeric

–       1 tsp cayenne pepper

–       1 tsp dried chilli

–       2 garlic cloves

–       juice of a lemon

What to do…

Throw all the ingredients into a mortar and pestle and bash and grind away until the mixture forms a thick paste. Note: You may need to add a dash of water to help it come together.

Smear the marinade over your favourite cut of lamb, pork or chicken and you will have the smells of India wafting through your kitchen in minutes! Deeelish!

NOTE: you may also like to mix a dollop of natural yoghurt through the marinade for a slightly more subtle, creamier texture!

Enjoy!

A

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Zucchini Noodles with Healthy Bolognaise

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IMG_4663MMMmmm MMMMMmmm a big bowl of steaming spag bol on these chilly winter nights? Yes please!!! Traditionally not always considered the healthiest of evening meals, my healthy spag bol is low in fat, “carb friendly” and packed full of veges making it sure to please even the most health conscious of guests! Swapping the traditional wheat based spaghetti for some green goodness this veggie based “pasta” dish is gluten free and looooaaaded with fibre and essential nutrients to help keep us looking and feeling our best from winter’s beginning til end! Give it a whirl..I promise it wont disappoint!

Zucchini Noodles with Healthy Bolognaise

(Serves 4 people)

 

–       4x zucchinis

–       1 large red chilli, seeds removed, finely diced

–       2 cloves garlic, crushed

–       1 brown onion, diced

–       400g lean beef or pork mince

–       2 tbsp salt reduced tomato paste

–       1 can diced tomatoes

–       1 large carrot, grated

–       ¾ cup brown lentils

–       ½ capsicum, diced

–       1 cup mushrooms, chopped

–       ½ cup torn basil leaves

 

Firstly, to prepare your zucchini noodles use either a peeler, julienne peeler or mandolin. For wide fettuccini style “pasta” use a standard vegetable peeler. Spaghetti-like noodles can be achieved using a julienne peeler or mandolin.

Whichever you choose, cut the ends off the zucchinis and start peeling lengthways. When you approach the seeds, turn the zucchini and continue slicing. Discard the middle section with the seeds, as they will prevent the noodles from holding together. Once you have finished, set the noodles aside until ready to serve. Note: You do not need to cook the noodles, as the hot bolognaise sauce should warm them up nicely!

Place a large heavy based saucepan over high heat on the stove and add a dash of oil before browning the mince. Remove mince from the saucepan before returning pan to the heat.

Next sauté the onion until soft before adding the crushed garlic and the chilli. Once fragrant, add the mince back in and cook over medium heat for 1-2mins.

Then add the mushrooms, carrot and capsicum, followed by the tomato paste. Stir to combine and then add the tin of crushed tomatoes. Throw in the lentils and allow to simmer on low heat for as long as you desire. Just before you are ready to serve, season well with salt and pepper and add in the basil leaves.

Serve on a bed of fresh zucchini noodles and garnish with some fresh parsley and parmesan cheese if desired.

Enjoy!

A

 

Gluten Free Zucchini Crust Pizza

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IMG_4137Wow this pizza may not look like much but boy was it tasty!!! Though the base tastes nothing like normal pizza dough…I have to say I think it taste a whole lot better!! Packed full of flavour with all the herbs and spices and with a lovely chewy texture this pizza crust is perfect for all those die hard pizza fans out there who are unlucky enough to have a gluten intolerance! Though I am do not have coeliac disease myself, I really enjoy trying and creating gluten free alternatives for some of our usual not so gluten free friendly favourites so that no one has to miss out!

The base was super easy to whip up and then the toppings??…well that is entirely up to you but I will give you an idea of what tasty morsels I sprinkled over my pizza last night to make my pizza so irresistibly tasty! This recipe below makes 2 decent sized pizzas, but I must warn you..dont expect any leftovers as you are likely going to be able eat a whole one on your own they are just so delicious!

What you need…

For the base:

  • 2 large zucchinis, grated
  • 1/4cup almond meal (or you could use brown rice flour)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (you can adjust this based on your spice preference!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried oregano
  • salt n pepper
  • 1 egg

Suggested Toppings:

  • 90g smoked salmon
  • 2 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • bunch of fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 50g fetta cheese
  • fresh argula leaves and some homemade basil pesto to garnish

What to do…

IMG_4126Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (fan forced).

For the base, place the grated zucchini in a bowl sprinkle over about 1/2 tsp salt and mix well. Allow to sit for 20mins to draw the moisture out. Then place the zucchini in a clean cheese cloth (chux cloth) and squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can. Note: You want your zucchini to be as dry as possible so that the base doesn’t become soggy!

Next throw all the base ingredients together in a bowl and mix well to combine before turning the mixture out on a piece of baking paper. Use you fingers to press the mixture down to form a large flat circle about 1/2 an inch thick.

 

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You need to pre-cook the base before adding your toppings, so when ready, carefully slide the pizza base on the baking paper onto a rack in the oven and cook for 8-10mins or until nicely browned around the edges. Once cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool.

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While your base is in the oven, crack on with preparing your toppings…whatever they might be! I have included what I threw on my pizza last night in the ingredients list above but go crazy and throw on what ever toppings you like! That is really the best thing about pizzas…there is just ENDLESS possibilities of tasty topping combinations, making it possible to tailor each pizza to suit the palette (and cravings) of each and every diner! So let your imagination run wild and throw on whatever you can find in your garden, pantry and fridge!

 

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Once you have concocted your ultimate pizza combo, slide the pizza (still on the baking paper) onto a tray and into the oven and cook on high heat for 5-8mins or until your toppings are cooked to your liking.

Remove from the oven, top with some fresh argula leaves, slice and dice your pizza and you’re good to go!

Oh and don’t forget to team your meal with a lovely glass of red if you’re looking for the ultimate Italian feast experience!!

Enjoy!

A

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Red Rice and Quinoa Salad

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quinoa + red rice saladWith a delicious whole baked coral trout on the menu last night I decided that this salad would make the perfect accompaniment..and being the food fanatic that I am decided to make an extra big salad so we could all eat leftovers the next day…turns out the salad was just a little too moreish as there wasn’t a grain left in the bowl by the time we left the table!

Loaded with fibre, heart healthy fats and essential nutrients this is not only the perfect accompaniment for just about any type of fish, meat or chicken dish, but it would also be a perfectly balanced meal just its own!

This dish serves 4 people.

What you need….

– 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

– 1/2 cup red rice (or can use a mixture of red & brown rice like I did for a little extra texture contrast!)

– 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

– 1 small lebanese cucumber, sliced into quarters

– 1 red onion, thinly sliced

– 1 clove garlic, crushedfish and salad

– rind and juice of 1 orange

– juice of 1 lemon

– 2 tbsp preserved lemon, finely sliced

– 1/3 cup currants

– 1/3 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

– 1 tbsp pepitas (optional extra)

– 1/2 punnet rocquette or spinach leaves

– 1/2 cup mint leaves

– olive oil

-salt and pepper

What to do….

Firstly, cook your rice in one saucepan and the quinoa in a seperate saucepan as per packet instructions. Rinse, drain and set aside to cool. This can even be done ahead of time, just make sure you bring the rice and quinoa back to room temperature before assembling the salad.

Meanwhile, heat a small non-stick frypan and add a dash of oil to the pan before adding the red onion and sauteing til soft and slightly translucent. Set aside to cool.

Next add the juice of an orange, 1.5 tsp of orange rind, the juice of one lemon, about 2 tbsp olive oil and the crushed garlic to a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Then throw in the rice, quinoa, rocquette leaves, cucumber, tomatoes, mint leaves, currants, preserved lemons and toss to combine.

Finally, sprinkle over your pepitas and toasted almonds just prior to serving and there you have super light summer salad that will be sure to please even the toughest crowd! Oh and did i mention its gluten free for all those with gluten sensitive tummies!

Here is sneak peak at the delicious whole baked coral trout that was served up last night with the salad! Yum yum yummm!

 

fresh fishbbq'd trout

Happy Sunday Everyone!

A

Roasted Beetroot and Mint Dip

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This dip is seriously delicious if I may say so myself! Had some left over roasted beets that needed using up from a salad the night before so this is what I threw together!! Not only is this dip easy on the eye but it is also packed full of fibre, essential vitamins minerals (like magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium), good heart healthy fats and powerful antioxidants! Did you know that the vibrant purple colour of beets is due to the high levels of anthocyanins, a powerful type of antioxidant found in most blue and purple fruit and vege. Beets are also believed to help control blood pressure along with a myriad of other health benefits! So, if you’re wanting to give this simple, tasty dip a go here is what you’ll need!

What you need…IMG_3607

– 4 cooked beets, skin removed

– 1 tbsp tahini paste

– 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

– 2/3 cup low fat natural yoghurt

– salt and pepper

 

NOTE: if you dont have time to roast the beets yourself (they usually take about half n hour or so) try picking up a packet of the freshly cooked beets in the fruit and vege section of your local supermarket. There is a great brand that sell just this called Love Beets Australia that I have seen just about everywhere and they are great for those with busy schedules!

What to do…

Throw the cooked beets, yoghurt, mint leaves and tahini paste into a food processor or blender, season lightly with salt and pepper and whiz away until it reaches the consistency you’re after! Check the balance of flavours and add extra seasoning or tahini if required!

And there you have a delicious, nutritious dip in less than 5 minutes!! Yum!

Enjoy!

A

Pesto Chicken Zucchini Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

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Trying to cut down on carbohydrates but just can’t seem to give up those delicious big bowls of steaming pasta? Well, now you don’t have to, thanks to this simple culinary creation transforming the humble old zucchini into a nice pile of nutritious noodles!  Gluten free, “paleo-friendly” and packed full of flavour, this meal is a winner all round!

Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Chicken and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 4 people

What you need:Image1_Ingredients

–        4 medium zucchinis

–        500g chicken breast, fat trimmed

–        250g tub cherry tomatoes

–        1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted

–        2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

–        Extra virgin olive oil

 

For the pesto:

–        2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

–        2 cloves garlic, peeledImage2_pesto

–        ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

–        2 tbsp water

–        1/4 cup pine nuts

–        1/4 walnuts

–        juice of 1 lemon

–        salt and pepper

 

What to do:

To make the pesto, simply place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until well combined. Check the balance of flavours and add extra seasoning or lemon juice or olive oil as required. Cover and set aside.

NOTE: Although your regular basil pesto is usually just made on pine nuts or cashews, I also added some walnuts into mine to add some extra heart healthy omega 3 fats without compromising on flavour! I also left out the parmesan cheese to cut down on saturated fats and calories, and I can promise you, you wont even notice the difference! 😉

chickenPre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Next take a large baking dish, line with baking paper and fill with the chicken breasts and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle over the sliced garlic and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cover with alfoil.

Place in the oven to cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the alfoil and cook for another 5 mins or until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are soft and are starting to blister. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into thin slices.

Next place a large saucepan of water on the stove and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, use either a peeler, julienne peeler or mandolin to prepare your zucchini noodles. For wide fettuccini style “pasta” use a standard vegetable peeler. Spaghetti-like noodles can be achieved using a julienne peeler or mandolin.

Whichever you choose, cut the ends off the zucchinis and start peeling lengthways. When you boiling noodlesapproach the seeds, turn the zucchini and continue slicing. Discard the middle section with the seeds, as they will prevent the noodles from holding together. Once you have finished, pop the noodles into the boiling water to blanch for 1 minute and then drain.

To serve, divide the noodles into pasta bowls and top with the sliced chicken breast, cherry tomatoes and pesto.

Garnish with the toasted pinenuts and some fresh sprigs of basil. You could also add a sprinkling of good quality parmesan cheese for a slightly more authentic Italian experience.

 

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New Years Resolution # 1: Getting a Handle on Sugar Cravings!

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Sugar cravings.. just about everyone gets them at some point or another, but what can you do to Mixed-lollies_Lge-01override them? For some it is a daily battle to overcome that 3pm sugar craving slump and if this is you, here a few simple suggestions on how you can take control and stop the cravings for good!

1) Make sure you eat every 2-3 hours

Though it may be easy to get distracted at work and before you know it, its 3pm and you still haven’t had lunch, this is a serious recipe for disaster! Going long periods of time without eating causes significant drops in your blood sugar levels, often leading to intense sugar cravings. This is because glucose or sugar (which is what carbohydrates are broken down into in your gut) is your body’s primary energy source. So, when energy levels become too low, your body starts to crave sugary foods as these are easily broken down and released into your blood stream to be used as energy, providing a super quick energy fix. The problem is, the energy release from sugary foods is short lived and you often end up feeling sluggish  and craving even more sugar before you know it! Moral of the story?… eat regularly to prevent your blood sugar levels dropping too low and the sugar cravings from creeping in!

2)    Always keep a packet of minty chewing gum on hand

Popping in a piece of gum after a meal not only keeps your breath minty fresh but it also serves as a great distraction from sweet foods and it also helps to cleanse the palate, making sugary foods seem less appealing.

3) Opt for herbal or black tea between meals

Virtually calorie free and oh-so soothing herbal or black teas are the perfect distraction after meals to prevent those sugar cravings from creeping in! Herbal teas like peppermint are especially effective at curbing the cravings as they help to refresh the palate in much the same way as chewing gum!

4) Curb the cravings with healthier, more nourishing alternatives.

Instead of feeding your cravings with sugar, which will only cause you to crave MORE sugar, try opting for more satisfying, protein –rich snacks like nuts, a slice of cheese or celery sticks with peanut butter. Or, if you absolutely feel you need something sweet, opt for a couple of squares of extra dark chocolate. The richness of dark chocolate should prevent you from eating as much and it is also far less sweet than normal milk chocolate, which may help to prevent a total sugar blow out!

5) Ride it out

Though it may sometimes feel like sugar cravings are going to last a life time and the only answer is to give in, I can promise you those feelings will pass! In fact, studies show most cravings last a maximum of 20 minutes. So, why not try distracting yourself with something non-food related for a few minutes and you might just find those cravings might just pass faster than you think!

Happy New Year!

A