Tag Archives: healthy balanced diet

Healthy Pork and Bean “Tacos”

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A slightly healthier take on one of my all time favourite dishes….Tacos!! These little babies are not only LOADED with protein, fibre and other essential nutrients but they are also very low in carbs and fat yet still taste pretty damn out of this world! They’re also super easy to prepare and make great leftovers! And yes if you haven’t guessed already, I am a pretty solid Mexican food fan! But then again..who isn’t?!

Pork, Bean and Vegetable Tacos with allll the trimmings…only a much healthier version! 

(For 4-6people)

What you need…IMG_6828

  • 1 iceberg lettuce, washed and leaves seperated
  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 carrot, diced or grated
  • 1/2 red or yellow capsicum, diced
  • 1 zucchini diced or grated
  • 5 button mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 tin brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tin red kidney beans
  • 1 avocado, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup low fat plain greek or natural yoghurt

For the salsa:

  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • lemon

What to do…

Heat a large non stick fry pan or casserole dish over med-high heat. Add a dash of oil and then add then add the pork mince. Once just cooked through, remove from the heat and transfer the mince to a bowl and set aside.

Place the fry pan back on the heat and add another dash of oil. Sauté the onion until soft then add the garlic and taco seasoning. Cook for a further 2 mins. Throw the mince back in, followed by all the vegetables and stir over medium heat until well combined. Then add in your tomato paste and mix through, followed by the tinned tomatoes.

Finally add the beans and lentils and then allow to simmer over medium heat for 5-10mins.

Meanwhile, throw all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Place on the table along with the lettuce cups and  bowls of diced avocado and natural yoghurt.

Once the taco mix is ready, remove from the heat and you are ready to dig in!

Enjoy!

A

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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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Why I’m Not Going Gluten Free

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My thoughts exactly!!!

Chances are if you have been around any kind of media source lately you have heard about the gluten-free fad. A recent poll done by a marketing research company found 30% of adults claim to be going gluten-free. Do you know someone who has gone gluten-free? Have you tried to go gluten-free yourself? Do you even know what gluten is? Before you decide to give up gluten it is important to know all of the facts.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is important to our foods because it is what gives baked products elasticity. Without gluten you would not be able to shape your pizza dough or knead your bread dough. Contrary to what you may have heard gluten is not a toxin and it is not a harmful particle.

So why would cutting this little protein out of your diet help you feel better? For…

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My Views on Vegetarianism

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So I made it! 7 days with no red or white meat!! and to be honest I probably shouldn’t really have called it a challenge, as I was able to fill myself (and Mark) up on an assortment of healthy, nutritious and balanced meals without too much trouble! Though I do not advocate for vegetarianism, I certainly do NOT not condone it either as I feel everyone has the right to make their own food choices. My concern however, is that if one chooses not to eat red and white meat (and seafood for many) that they understand the importance of eating meals that are well balanced and include bioavailable sources of essential vitamins and minerals, particularly easily absorbable sources of iron and vitaminB12, both of which are primarily found in animal sources.

Firstly I will look at vitamin B12 which is an essential vitamin that cannot be synthesised in the body. Vitamin B12 is primarily only produced by bacteria and fungi particularly in the gastrointestinal tracts of ruminant animals (so sheep and cattle). The major food sources of B12 are therefore: Beef and lamb, liver (highest source), egg yolks, muscles and oysters and mushrooms (however the B12 in mushrooms is questionable as it is not a biologically active form and is from soil contamination not in the actual mushrooms themselves).

Vegan sources of VitaminB12 include:

– Seaweed and the root nodules of some legumes.

There are also a select handful of fortified food products including:

Some breakfast cereals, some plant milks and a few soy products.

If you are vegetarian or even more so, if you are vegan, it is therefore really important that you do one of the following to ensure that you consume adequate amounts of VitaminB12….

1. That you consume at least 3 serves of the natural sources and fortified products just mentioned above to reach a total of 2.4 micrograms of B12 everyday. OR

2. Take an oral supplement which you can buy at your local chemist.

Getting enough VitaminB12 is essential for a number of important bodily functions including DNA synthesis and cell division, the conversion of Folate into its bioactive form, normal nerve function. A deficiency in VitaminB12 can therefore lead to anaemia, elevated plasma homocysteine levels (which is implicated in premature heart disease), peripheral neuropathy (nervous system damage) and degeneration of brain matter causing confusion, depression and psychosis.

Ok now for IRON! This is a pretty obvious one..if you don’t eat meat, you are far less likely to meet your daily iron needs without careful planning and dietary management. This is because the type of iron found in red meats in particular but also white meats (known as haem iron) is much more bioavailable or in other words is easily absorbed by the body. It is really important therefore, that those who choose not to eat meat include food combinations throughout the day that provide them with adequate amounts of all of the 20 essential amino acids required for protein synthesis. This means eating plenty of the following nonhaem iron sources:

Fortified breakfast cereals, fortified drinks and protein bars/supplements, wholegrains, legumes,  soybeans, gluten based vegetarian meat alternatives, textured vegetable protein (TVP), nuts and green leafy vegetables.

It is also a good idea to consume plenty of foods high in vitamin C, which aids the absorption of iron from foods. This means including plenty of the following sources:

guava (highest source), kiwi fruit, paw paw, lychees, citrus fruits, chili, parsley, broccoli, spinach, capsicum and liver. And remember there are significant losses in Vitamin C content of foods after preparation processing methods such as freezing, cutting, heating etc. So eat whole and with as little preparation and processing as possible if you can!

And if this all seems to hard or you don’t like to eat many of these types of foods, PLEASE at least think about taking an iron supplement, especially if you are a woman or are very physically active!

Calcium is obviously another essential nutrient that vegans must be mindful of in avoiding all sources of animal products including dairy. It is possible to obtain your daily calcium needs by including 2-3 serves of the following foods:

Soy and other dairy alternative milks (rice/almond milks etc) that are fortified with calcium. (note: soy milks etc need to contain greater than 100mg of calcium per 100ml).

If soy/other milk alternatives are not an option it’s important that you include as many non-dairy calcium rich alternatives as possible such as set tofu, soy yoghurts/cheeses/ custards etc. Tinned salmon (mainly the bones), breakfast cereals, almonds and green leafy vegetables including spinach,broccoli and bok choy) also all contain calcium but obtaining adequate amounts from these foods is essential and can be difficult to measure!

So as you can see, being a vegetarian or vegan does not mean you are doomed to become deficient in all sorts of essential vitamins and minerals….it just requires a little bit of careful planning and being mindful of the types of foods you need to ensure you include in your diet everyday! Or at least take oral supplements if you are worried you are not obtaining the nutrients you need from your usual dietary patterns!