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Quinoa & Roast Vegetable Salad October 19 2014

I just love the colour in this salad and think it's a beautiful dish to take to a social event such as a summer BBQ or shared dinner. The flavours of the salad go beautifully with grilled fish, chicken and lamb. Or of course you can have it as a main dish for a vegetarian meal (#meatfreemonday). 

Nutritious and versatile, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient food indigenous to the South American Andes. Here are a few reasons to include quinoa in your diet.

*This superfood is one of the most perfect grains you can eat as it contains almost twice the fibre content of any other grain.

*Quinoa is a great source of magnesium, which is a vital mineral required to help promote a healthy metabolism and cardiovascular functions.  It’s also kind to your blood vessels, helping you to have a happy heart.

*Quinoa is a rich source of protein and it also contains all 9 essential amino acids, including the rare lysine, which makes the protein levels in quinoa on a par to those found in milk.

*As quinoa has no relation to the wheat family, it’s a great choice for gluten-free folk.  

*Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate, which slowly releases energy. Not only does this mean that it helps regulate your blood sugar levels, but it can actually help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

*Quinoa is fantastically low in fat. What’s even better is that the fats that are found in quinoa are healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, which boost your health levels while helping you lose weight.

Ingredients: 

1 cup uncooked quinoa (red or a mix of colours)

1 cube vegetable stock

2 cups pumpkin, 1cm cubes

3-4 fresh beetroots, 1cm cubes

1 large red capsicum

1 red onion, quartered

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Good quality salt* & freshly ground black pepper

2 cups fresh baby spinach

Wedge of danish feta to crumble over the top (optional, leave out for a dairy free salad)

Green tahini dip (see recipe below)

*Use a mineral rich salt such as sea salt or himalayan pink salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Rinse quinoa a couple of times (I use a sieve and a large bowl).

Dissolve 1 cube of vegetable stock in 2 cups of water, add rinsed quinoa, and bring to the boil. Simmer covered for 10-15 minutes (or according to instructions on the packet). Once cooked, leave to the side to cool while you prepare vegetables and dressing.

Toss the diced pumpkin, beetroot and red onion in the coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Use the remaining oil to coat the whole red capsicum. Place on a baking tray in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until well roasted. The red capsicum should blacken and bubble which is fine (we want this). Once cooked, place vegetables to the side to cool.

Once the red capsicum has cooled, remove skin, seeds, and slice in to thin strips.

Gently combine the cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables and baby spinach. Present the salad in a colourful bowl or platter and then crumble the feta over the top.

Serve with the green tahini dip on the side. 

Green Tahini Dip

Ingredients

1 cup tahini

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup parsley 

1 clove garlic

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice - use more or less according to taste

crack of salt and pepper to taste

Method

Add everything in to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. This makes a thick dip, if you want more of a dressing add as much water as you need to bring it to the desired consistency.

 

 

 


Hot Smoked Salmon & Rocket Gluten Free Pasta July 22 2014

I struggled yesterday afternoon to find inspiration to cook. I didn't feel like anything in particular, and I was tired after a big week of work so didn't want to spend too long in the kitchen. This is my go-to pasta recipe that I cook every so often as it is really tasty but also so easy. It is also good winter comfort food! The flavours all go so well together and you get a good serving of vegetables and greens in the dish as well as protein, vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids (good fats) from the salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the heart, for those with high blood sugar levels, and for those who wish to lose weight.

Ingredients:

200g gluten free fettuccine (I used San Remo)

180g hot smoked salmon fillets (I used Coles brand)

1 small red onion

handful of sliced button mushrooms

150g rocket

6 finely chopped semi sun-dried tomatoes  

1/2 lemon zest

2 tablespoons creme fraiche

chilli flakes (optional)

Method:

Flake the salmon fillets and leave to the side.

Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.

Finely cut the onion and saute using a dash of olive oil. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Once pasta is cooked al dente, drain off the water and add pasta back to the pot. Add in mushrooms, onion, salmon, lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes, creme fraiche and rocket and gently stir together over a low heat. Once everything is well mixed and heated through, serve with a wedge of lemon and garnish with cracked pepper and flaked chilli (optional). Serve immediately. 

Serves 2 - 4.

 

 

 


Gluten Free Ricotta Fritters with Raw Zucchini Salad June 01 2014

I am enjoying cooking with ricotta at the moment after discovering really well priced fresh ricotta at my local market (EQ Village Markets in Sydney). 

Ricotta is a smooth cheese with a creamy mild taste and a thick texture. Its light flavour and low salt content make it perfect for using in sweet or savoury dishes. A great source of calcium and magnesium, ricotta is the ideal cheese for people watching their weight - its fat content of around 10 per cent is quite low compared to the 34 per cent in regular cheeses.

This recipe is inspired by a Jamie Oliver dish which I have made gluten free. The raw zucchini salad is such a healthy and fresh side dish.

Ingredients:

For the fritters

1 large free-range or organic egg

400g ricotta cheese

whole nutmeg for grating (you will only need 1/4 of the nutmeg)

zest of 1 lemon

40g grated parmesan cheese

1 heaped tablespoon coconut flour

olive or coconut oil

balsamic glaze

For the sauce

25g dried porcini mushrooms

1 dried red chilli

2 cloves of garlic

700g passata

8 black olives (stone in)

1/2 a bunch of fresh basil

olive or coconut oil

For the salad

400g firm green small courgettes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 fresh red chilli

1/2 a bunch of fresh mint

juice of 1 lemon

Method

Put the porcini into a mug and cover with boiling water (just enough water to cover the porcini). Leave to soak for approximately 20 minutes.

Fritters - Crack the egg into a bowl, add the ricotta and mix well. Add finely grated ¼ of the nutmeg, zest of 1 lemon, parmesan, coconut flour and beat together. Put mixture to the side while you prepare the salad and sauce. 

Salad - Grate the courgettes in a food processor (you can also use a box grater). Tip into a bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add juice of the zested lemon along with the extra virgin olive oil. Finely chop and add the fresh chilli, mint leaves and then toss together. 

Sauce - Heat 1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil into a large non stick fry pan. Crumble in the dried chilli, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute. Finely chop and add the porcini along with half of the water used to soak them. Add the passata, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Chop and add the olives, discarding the stones. Chop or tear basil and add to the sauce (leave a few leaves to garnish the dish). Leave on a low heat (simmering) while you cook the fritters.

To cook the fritters, heat 1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil into a frying pan. Use a tablespoon to spoon in 8 large dollops of the mixture. Make sure there is enough room around the fritters to flip (make 2 batches if your pan is not large enough). Cook for approximately 1 minute or until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn fritters carefully to cook the other side. The fritters should appear nice and golden. 

To serve, place the fritters on top of the sauce. Scatter over the reserved basil leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve with salad.

Serves 4.


Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Butternut May 14 2014

Butternut is the perfect addition to an autumn meal.  

Low in fat, butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. 

Butternut's tangerine colour indicates its most noteworthy health perk. The colour signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, butternut boasts very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration, as well as a supporter of healthy lung development in fetuses and newborns. What's more, with only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C. 

Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Butternut

This meal is very easy to prepare. The below recipe will serve 2 people as a hearty vegetarian meal with a green salad, or 4 people as a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 half of a butternut squash

250 grams ricotta

2-3 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves

6 sliced button mushrooms

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried basil

olive oil

Himalayan salt and black pepper for seasoning

Method:

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

With a spoon, scoop out the seeds of the butternut and rub flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on a sheet of baking paper or foil for approximately 1 hour or until butternut flesh is soft and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and scoop out any excess water. Put aside to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the filling. 

Mix ricotta, spinach leaves, mushrooms, garlic and basil together in a large bowl.

Scoop out most of the cooked butternut leaving 1.5cm around the skin so the butternut doesn't fall apart when you add the stuffing. Add the scooped butternut to the ricotta mixture and combine well. Season with salt and pepper.

Stuff the mixture back in to the butternut half. There will be more mixture so heap it on top and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Put the butternut back in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Let the butternut cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Photo from The Messy Chef.


Kale Chips December 04 2013

  

Kale is a dark leafy green full of amazing health benefits and nutrients. This recipe is so easy and is a tasty snack for yourself or when entertaining. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

Himalayan rock salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius.

Place coconut oil in oven for 1 minute to melt.

Pull kale off the stem, wash well and dry on tea towel or paper towel to absorb moisture.

Put coconut oil and kale in a bowl and mix until kale is well coated.

Lay strips of kale on a large tray and put in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until crispy (make sure they do not turn brown).

Remove from oven and sprinkle with rock salt.

If you don't eat them all straight away store in a glass or plastic container once chips have completely cooled.