Getting Creative With Your Salad

Getting Creative With Your Salad

Lunch doesn’t have to be boring, or a sandwich, or a soggy wrap, or leftovers.  You certainly don’t need to fork out obscene amounts of money at a gourmet cafe for a quick healthy salad.

I am going to share a few of my favourite pull together salad ingredients in the hope that it inspires you to get creative, plan ahead and enjoy amazing lunches wherever you are during the day!

Firstly I always have a bag of mixed greens in the fridge.  I love the baby salad and beetroot from woollies because before you have even done anything else you have a rainbow of vegetables to start with.

Here are some other yummy salad ingredients to think about adding – there is no end to the number of options – these are my current favourites but they do tend to change regularly!

pumpkincaulisalad

Roast pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli and feta salad.

Some of these suggestions like the pumpkin or tomatoes I like to make in bulk and keep them in little containers in the fridge and I make a big batch of dressing for the week too.  Then pulling together a gourmet salad is incredibly quick and easy.

Some ideas for your salad:

Firstly, I always like to have a source of protein (apart from the nuts and cheese) such as chicken, leftover steak from the night before, tuna or tofu.  See below for some preparation tips:

  • Chicken: You can  steam/poach/grill/bbq/ or fry up some chicken breast in some coconut or olive oil.  Add some spices or a squeeze of lemon for some zesty flavour.  I have been steaming a few breasts at the beginning of the week and we have been using in salad, as snacks etc … great source of protein.  Choose free range or organic if you can …
  • Tofu:  I love to chop up a little bit of firm organic Tofu (make sure it is GM free) – say 75grams into little bite sized squares and cook it in some coconut oil until it goes brown and crispy – yum!  You can marinate it before cooking in a little tamari or lemon juice for added flavour …
  • Tinned tuna/salmon – always easy to take with you if you are on the go or at work.  If you are going to use the flavoured variety check the ingredients as some are cleaner (i.e. no nasties added) than others.  The lemon/pepper flavour, zesty vinaigrette or chilli ones are quite good.
  • Legumes – Some well rinsed organic chick peas, cannellini beans, kidney beans or lentils are great in a salad.

 

Here are some other yummy extras you can think about adding:

  • Chopped veggies – think capsicum, cucumber, mushrooms, tomatoes (if you aren’t using the roasted ones see below), snow peas, sprouts …
  • Steamed veggies – such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini …
  • Roast Pumpkin – chop up some pumpkin into cubes.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and chilli powder and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins or until cooked to your liking.  You don’t even need to spray with oil …
  • Roast Tomatoes – even the shrinking hubby (who professes to hate tomatoes) loves these!  I am loving the mini roma tomatoes at the moment. Slice them in half lengthways and toss in some olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.  We found a delicious basil infused olive oil which is great with the tomatoes.  Bake skin side down in a 200 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until they are cooked to your  liking…
  • Nuts and/or seeds:  Think sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts – although these are great dry roasted or tossed in a little bit of coconut oil, they are just as nice sprinkled over a salad straight from the container and add lots of nutrients, protein, good fats and yummy crunch to your salad.  You can also buy seed mixes from grocers such as Harris farm or Thomas Dux for salads which are just as yummy …
  • Olives – black or green add so much zest to a salad!
  • Feta – those who have  been following me for a while must have realised I have a serious feta fettish!!  I just can’t get enough of the stuff although I (try to!) limit myself to just a little bit …
  • Avocado – Avocados are just so brilliant – they provide so many essential nutrients, good fats, great for skin, hair, mood and taste so amazing.  One of my favourite things!

 

Dressings:

And there are loads of options for dressings – try these – you may want to experiment with quantities as per your taste …

  • This is my current favourite dressing (makes enough for about 4 salads):  shake the following up in a jar: 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 teaspoon organic maple syrup, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 tablespooon dijon mustard and some freshly ground cracked pepper.
  • Other great mixes are olive oil with apple cider vinegar, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Try a dash of greek yoghurt with some pesto or a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Or another alternative is some tahini with some lemon juice, water, salt and pepper.
Tofu cooked up in coconut oil with olives, chick peas, avocado, broccoli, pistachios, walnuts and my dijon/maple syrup dressing

Tofu cooked up in coconut oil with olives, chick peas, avocado, broccoli, pistachios, walnuts and my dijon/maple syrup dressing

So – hopefully that is enough to get you excited about what to have for lunch!  Feel free to comment below … and please if you have any suggestions of other great additions to salads please comment below or share on my facebook page www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby

Enjoy XX

Fresh Corn and Poached Chicken Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing

Fresh Corn and Poached Chicken Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing

A friend of mine, Alison, has just started a new business called The Little Grocery Service.  The philosophy behind The Little Grocery Service is that once a week (on a Friday) she visits the markets and selects the best seasonal fruit and vegetables she can find (conventional and organic when she can).  She provides enough fruit and vegetables to feed a family with 2 or 3 children and in addition provides a bunch of beautiful flowers, a home-made jam or preserve (which she herself makes) and/or a baked good.

When in season she looks for interesting items to add to the regular selection and in order to help you get the best use from the produce from her box  and to encourage you to try new foods she also includes recipes and cooking tips.

Alison wanted me to try her service to see what I thought, so last Friday I arrived home to this beautiful sight:

box

Needless to say I was delighted!!!  At first I was a bit sceptical of the idea of somebody else choosing my weekly produce but I found that in addition to the usual staples that I would buy anyway there was an abundance of seasonal items that I now felt compelled (and happily so) to use.  The box contained so much stuff!  In addition to the fresh fruit and veggies which we are still happily working our way through, there was a jar of chilli sauce with garlic and ginger (that Alison herself made), a beautifully wrapped bunch of mixed herbs …  and as a special treat there was the added pleasure of putting a huge bunch of amazing dahlias into a vase and enjoying them all weekend!

It’s a great service and one that will encourage you and your family to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and encourage you to step outside of the comfort zone and try new things!

The recipe included in this week’s box was for a fresh corn salad with prawns, red onion and crème fraiche which inspired me to make this delicious chicken and corn salad below.  All of the fresh produce I used was provided in the box apart from the chicken, soba noodles, greek yoghurt and lemon (which I already had).  It made for a lazy Saturday morning cooking something a little bit different for lunch for hubby and I  (but so yummy we were fighting over the leftovers).

Poached Chicken and Corn Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

What you will need:

  • 2 cobs sweet corn, husks removed
  • 375g organic soba noodles (I actually only used 2/3 of the packet which is 375g)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 poached/steamed chicken breast chopped into chunks. (I usually poach a few chicken breasts a couple of times a week – it makes such an easy protein source for salads, sandwiches or even on its own as a mid morning/afternoon meal)
  • ¼ red onion finely sliced
  • 1 lebanese cucumber quartered and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons greek yoghurt
  • 3 shallots peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves shredded finely
  • 2 tablespoons coriander shredded finely
  • A couple of handfuls baby spinach

How to pull it together

Fill a saucepan with 1 ½ litres of water (I used filtered as I intended to use the water for stock later), add the corn and some salt and bring it to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Once cooked, turn off the heat and allow the corn to cool in the liquid.  When cool, shave the kernels from the core using a sharp knife, and  place in a large bowl.  You can hold onto the water to make a stock (see note).

Cook the soba noodles in rapidly boiling water for 4 minutes.  Drain, then rinse well with cold water and drain again.

Add the onion, cucumber, yoghurt, chicken, spinach,  lemon juice, soba noodles, herbs, spring onion to a bowl and mix together thoroughly.  Season with sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.  I found this was perfect for 4 servings.

NOTE:  To make the veggie stock, add the corn cores back to the water and simmer for 10 minutes.  Now you have a delicious vegetarian stock to use in soups or purees.

If you are interested in speaking to Alison about her service you can either visit her website www.thelittlegroceryservice.com.au or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Little-Grocery-Service/383614048377833?fref=ts

Enjoy your salad!

XXX

Baked Barramundi with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Black Olives and Herbs

Baked Barramundi with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Black Olives and Herbs

For those of you who follow me on Facebook you might have seen the delicious dinner I whipped up on Monday night – baked barramundi on a bed of zucchini with cherry tomatoes on the vine, black olives and herbs.  It was so easy to prepare – it only took about 5 minutes – but it was vibrant, colourful and very impressive.  I was inspired by a recipe in Tessa Kiros’ beautiful cookbook ‘Limoncello and Linen Water’.

If you don’t like barramundi you could use an alternative white fish (think cod, snapper, flathead etc) or if you don’t like fish then it would be delicious with chicken!  Next time I am going to try this with salmon …

I served it with blanched asparagus, but a mixed green salad would be just as delicious, and if you really can’t be bothered you can relax because the zucchini and the tomatoes mean that this dish really is a one-pot-wonder!

Baked Barramundi with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Black Olives and Herbs

This made enough for the 2 of us (we did have a lot of tomatoes) but if you wanted to double it for 4 people and again for 8 etc it would work just as well.

What you will need:

Olive oil

2 small zucchinis – thinly sliced lengthways and tossed with some sea salt and cracked black pepper

2 barramundi fillets (or fish of your choice, or chicken)

200 g (7 ounces) cherry tomatoes (on the vine).  (This was actually a lot of tomatoes for 2 people – keep in mind if you are not mad on tomatoes ..)

1 heaped tablespoon chopped parsley

6 basil leaves – torn

1/2 cup of white wine or chicken stock.  (I used stock here but I think that white wine would be even more delicious)

A couple of handful of black olives (I used the pitted kalamata olives from the deli at Woolworths – they were perfect!)

Zest & juice of one lemon

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

How to pull it together:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).

In a baking dish (which I lined with baking paper), drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and lay out the zucchini.  Season the fish on both sides with a little salt and pepper andlay it over the zucchini.  Top with the tomatoes and herbs.  Pour the wine or stock around the fish and toss in the olives.  Finish with the zest of the lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice.

barramundipre-cookedBake in the oven for about 40 minutes until the tomatoes are roasted to your liking and the fish is nice and brown.

And enjoy!!!

To keep updated with The Shrinking Hubby and for more inspiration for your healthy eating, don’t forget to like me on Facebook by heading over to www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby.  Do you know anyone who loves cooking and eating healthy food, or who struggles with their weight or has a loved one who does?  Please refer them to my page – I love hearing stories of those who have been inspired by our journey.  Living a healthy lifestyle does not have to mean that you sacrifice wonderful food and good times!  For those who follow me on Facebook – if you didn’t see this posted earlier in the week, it may be because Facebook is restricting the number of people who are exposed to my posts on their news feeds.  To make sure you receive my posts it is a really simple process.   To keep receiving all my posts, hover your mouse on the “Like” button near my name (The Shrinking Hubby) on Facebook. In the drop-down menu select “Add to interest lists.” Then create an interest list.

Thank you again for your support – we continue to be overwhelmed by the positive response from so many of you!

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

XXX

Healthy Comfort Eating – Clean Nachos!

Healthy Comfort Eating – Clean Nachos!

Oh my goodness!  I made these clean nachos on Saturday night.  Hubby and I were having a lazy Saturday night in and we were feeling indulgent but although we felt like spoiling ourselves with a yummy dinner we didn’t want to order takeaway and feel awful in the morning.  They were seriously FANTASTIC!  Our new favourite ‘treat’ and I do use the word treat lightly because they are very clean so you really don’t need to feel bad about eating them – at – all!

The chilli recipe I have posted on an earlier blog post here but to save time and paper (because I know you’ll want to print this one off) I am going to write it all up again here.  If you don’t want to eat meat (and next time I am going to try them meat free) you can use the same spices etc and just increase the amount of beans and legumes for a vegetarian option.  I’ll definitely put the vegetarian version up here once I am happy with the recipe.

The components of the nachos are as follows:  The nachos ‘chips’, chilli con carne, salsa, guacamole and a handful of grated cheese.  I will set out how I organised each component below:

Here’s how I made them:

Nachos ‘Chips’

I cut a few sheets of mountain bread into corn chip sized triangles with some kitchen scissors, laid them out on a cookie tray lined with baking paper and sprayed with some olive oil and sprinkled with celtic sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper.  I baked in a hot oven (under the grill) for about 3 minutes.  I highly recommend watching them though as I burnt a few sheets going over just a few seconds!!!

Chilli Con Carne

(this makes more than enough for nachos for 2 plus extra for lunch the next day AND enough to freeze for another meal – the legumes really bulk it out)

You will need:

1 diced Onion

2 diced carrots

1 diced zucchini

2 diced sticks celery

500 grams organic lean beef mince

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin chickpeas (Drained and rinsed well)

1 tin red kidney beans  (Drained and rinsed well)

1 tin cannellini beans  (Drained and rinsed well)

1 tin lentils (Drained and rinsed well)

Spice mix

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Chilli flakes to taste

To make the chilli

1.Cook mince in a large pan until brown.  Drain.

2. In same pan fry up the onion and celery in some garlic infused olive oil (or olive oil and 1-2 crushed garlic cloves)

3. Add the chopped veggies and saute.

4. Add the mince and spices and cook until flavours come together.

5. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, beans and some salt (to taste) and simmer for 30 minutes with lid on.

Salsa

Again – this was plenty for the nachos plus leftovers for the next day – delicious in a toasted mountain bread wrap or as part of a salad or served with scrambled egg whites for breakfast – the options are endless!

Chop and combine the following – you can add/leave out ingredients depending on your tastes…

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

1/2 red onion (optional)

1 cup corn kernels

1 cucumber

1 red chilli (optional)

A handful of shredded fresh basil

juice of a lime

Celtic sea salt and cracked pepper

Guacamole

Mash up the following together well:

1/2 Avocado

Juice of 1 lime

1 1/2 tablespoons greek yogurt

Salt & Pepper

To put the nachos together:

Start with a layer of nachos chips, add some chilli mixture, top with salsa, then a dollop of guacamole and finish with a handful of cheese … And enjoy!

 

Zucchini Pasta With Dina’s Tomato Sauce

Zucchini Pasta With Dina’s Tomato Sauce

GUILT FREE PASTA – YIPPEE!!!

If there ever was a win-win with clean, healthy, filling and totally delicious food, this dish has got to be up there at the top of the hierarchy!  Pasta is one of my absolute favourite foods but because it is so high in carbs (and wheat) it’s a food group that Andrew and I have been pretty much avoiding since we began our journey.  Although I must say that my obsession for spaghetti bolognese while pregnant was certainly a contributing factor to the baby weight I had to work so hard to lose afterwards!!!  In the past  I would always look longingly at recipes for pasta dishes knowing that I’ll probably never try them.

But I have just discovered a REAL little gem – the Betty Bossi Veggie- Twister!  It is a little gadget which I found at King of Knives (kitchenware shop in Australia) (but there are plenty of similar gadgets out there) where you can stick half a zucchini into it, twist it around a bit and it creates long strands of zucchini that make the most amazing substitute for spaghetti!!!

 

How cool does this look???

How to prepare the zucchini (courgettes)

I used about 3 zucchinis per person.  I topped and tailed them, cut them in half and let the Betty Bossi work it’s magic.  I twisted the strands into a colander, and sprinkled with some Celtic sea salt and let it rest (much the same as you would salt an eggplant).  It’s a good idea to put the colander onto a paper towel while you do this as it will weep considerably.  After about half an hour the bitter juices have leached out and your pasta is ready to be sauced!

Dina’s Tomato Sauce

This recipe comes straight out of the Food Coach’s first cookbook.  It was the first dish that Judy Davie ever taught us how to make and I will never forget it – mainly because the little techniques used make you feel nurturing and clever and the end result – DELICIOUS!  Promise me you will get your hands dirty with the tomatoes – it is just FUN!!!

I must admit, the first time I made the zucchini pasta I used a good quality pasta sauce out of a jar (which was actually very delicious too!), so when I started frying up my basil for the home-made version Andrew was a little bit sceptical.  Well, let’s just say I have won him over – it is now his favourite dinner!!!

What you will need:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I confess I use 3 teaspoons organic minced garlic)

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 chilli (optional) seeded and finely sliced (I actually could have left the seeds in to give it a bit of a kick if that is your thing)

4 1/2 cups mixed fresh Italian herbs (think thyme, oregano, parsley) chopped

4 X 400 g tins whole tomatoes (try to look for no added sugar or salt)

How you make it:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan until very hot, then drop in the basil and stir with a wooden spoon until crispy. (Stand back at first it might spatter!).  Add the onion, garlic, carrot, chilli and herbs and sauté until the vegetables are soft.

Tip the tomatoes into a large bowl and break into small pieces with your hands.  (The reasoning behind this is that this ensures they are not so bitter as they can be if chopped up with a metal spoon and is supposed to be the secret to this dish …)  Add to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer (uncovered) for 45 minutes until the liquid has thickened and is reduced by almost half.  You will end up with a rich, thick, delicious sauce.  (You can store the sauce in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)

dinastomatosauce

 

How to use the sauce with the zucchini pasta:

zucchini-pastaYou don’t need to cook the zucchini, you can either toss the zucchini into the hot sauce and serve or as the sauce was quite hot we just piled some onto the zucchini pasta and let the sauce heat the zucchini as we mixed it through.   You could steam the zucchini before adding the sauce I suppose – only for a minute or so though ..

To top it off I added a  sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan.

zucchinipastadinatomato

Seriously, how GOOD does this look????

Enjoy!

XX

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