Coconutty Salmon, Quinoa and Greens

Coconutty Salmon, Quinoa and Greens

This is one of my favourite go to meals.  It is quick, easy, tasty and healthy – so it ticks all boxes!  The coconut oil gives it a delicious coconutty flavour.  I love making this on the weekend for us for lunch, or it makes the perfect lazy dinner.  I love it with quinoa, but it is delicious with brown rice too …

Coconutty Salmon, Quinoa and Spinach

(serves 2 – but easily halved/multiplied depending on how many you are feeding)

What you will need:

1 cup cooked quinoa (or cooked brown rice if you prefer) *

2 fillets of fresh salmon

1 tablespoon coconut oil

a couple of big handfuls baby spinach leaves or rocket (arugula), or  baby kale works well too

Fresh lemon juice (to taste)

Salt and pepper (and chilli flakes or sambal to taste)

How to cook your quinoa:

In a saucepan add in a ratio of 1:2 quinoa and liquid.  (I.e. 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water).  Bring to the boil and reduce heat.  Simmer, covered for 15 minutes.  You should end up with fluffy perfectly cooked quinoa.  (You can cook with a squeeze of lemon juice, some grated lemon zest, or in chicken stock for extra flavour if you like.)

I like using both white and red quinoa, but whatever you can get your hands on is fine.

How to pull it together:

Steam the salmon fillets for 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking.  You could also poach in boiling water for 5 minutes.  When done,  chop it up or pull apart into flakes with a knife and fork.

In a large pan heat the coconut oil.  Add the quinoa (or brown rice) and toss until well coated.  Toss through the flaked salmon, greens and lemon juice and stir until the spinach has slightly wilted.

Divide into bowls and serve with more lemon juice and chilli (if desired).

Enjoy XX

 

My Greek-Inspired Shepherd’s Pie With A Cauliflower and Pumpkin Crust

My Greek-Inspired Shepherd’s Pie With A Cauliflower and Pumpkin Crust

What can I say – this was absolutely delicious!  It is The Shrinking Hubby’s new favourite meal and is a great one to make double and freeze half, or take to work for lunches the next day.  The flavours work really well here and make a refreshing change to the traditional shepherd’s pie.  The cauliflower and pumpkin crust is really yummy but you could definitely add your own touch with what you use here (think zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli etc).  Who said you needed a potato crust on a pie?  You wouldn’t even know!!

Greek-Inspired Shepherd’s Pie

With A Cauliflower and Pumpkin Crust

What you need:

For the Base:

  • 1 kilo lamb mince
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped (I used 2 tsp organic minced garlic)
  • 2 onions diced
  • 1 700 ml bottle passata (tomato puree)
  • 1 tablespoon homemade vegetable stock paste (I made mine in the Thermomix) (or you could use a good quality bouillion powder like Marigold, or  1/2 cup chicken or beef stock – but you may wish to use 1/2 cup less of the passata mixture if you don’t like your sauce too liquidy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons choped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 carrots peeled and finely diced
  • 2 zucchinis finely diced
  • sea salt and cracked pepper

For the Crust

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower (chopped/broken into florets)
  • 1 cup diced butternut pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon organic grass fed butter or Ghee (optional)
  • a small handful of cheese (tasty, feta, parmesan) – optional

How to pull it together:

For the base

In a large pot heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onions, garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt (to stop the onions burning) and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Add the carrots and zucchini and cook for a further 3 minutes stirring frequently so that the onions don’t burn.  Add the lamb mince and cook until browned.  (about 5 minutes).  Add the tomatoes, stock, cinnamon, mint, parsely, salt and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes or until reduced and thickened.  Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Moussaka bubbling away on the stove

Moussaka bubbling away on the stove

For the crust

Steam or boil the cauliflower and pumpkin until soft.  Drain if necessary.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter and blitz in a food processor or with a hand held blender until smooth. You may need to add a bit of liquid to improve consistency (water, stock, milk – whatever you would prefer)

Thermomix version of crust

If making in a Thermomix cook the cauliflower and pumpkin for 20 minutes speed 1 at 100 degrees.  Make sure it is cooked through.  Add the butter or ghee.  Attach the butterfly attachment and blitz for 20-30 seconds speed 3-4.

To assemble, place the meat evenly along a deep baking tray.  Top with the mash and sprinkle with a tiny bit of grated tasty cheese, parmesan or feta (optional).  Bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes until the crust is brown and bubbly.  Enjoy!

Eggplant and Tomato Bake AKA as ‘Buba’s Eggplant’

Eggplant and Tomato Bake AKA as ‘Buba’s Eggplant’

I honestly have to say (and this is not an easy call for me to make), that of all the cookbooks and recipe e-books that I own, The Monday Morning Cooking Club is my all time favourite.  Not all the recipes are clean, but there are some great healthy meals in there.  It is a compilation of recipes contributed by eager cooks from all over – each recipe has its own story/history.  I love the fact that every recipe was hand picked from hundreds and has been quality tested time and time again by a dedicated and talented group of women devoted to the preparation and offering of delicious food.  You know that if it’s made it into the book it’s going to be good.

When I bought this cookbook, the first recipe I made was Buba’s Eggplant.  A simple yet amazingly tasty dish of baked eggplant with a rich tomato sauce.  This dish has become one of our favourites, always wins compliments and is clean and healthy.  A  great option for midweek dinner, or even a dinner party.  And freezes beautifully too.  The Shrinking Hubby loves this dish!

I have recently (with much excitement) purchased a Thermomix.  I am hesitant to post about this on here because my blog is a place to share clean and nutritional recipes and motivation for a healthier lifestyle, not promote/become about an appliance.  I have decided though (where relevant) that in future, if I have managed to alter recipes to suit the Thermomix I will just add the thermomix version as an option in addition to instructions for cooking without it.  That way everyone is happy (and nobody misses out).

This eggplant dish is wonderful with salmon or grilled barramundi, perfect with schnitzel (check out my recipe for almond crusted schnitzel here – soooo good!), roast chicken, or even by itself – makes a great dinner party starter.

Here is the recipe from The Monday Morning Cooking Club.  I have tweaked it a little.  I’ve reduced the garlic, I don’t fry the eggplant in a cup of oil, and I’ve added some chilli.  But if you are feeding kids, or aren’t partial to a bit of heat then leave the chilli out.

Buba’s Eggplant (from the Monday Morning Cooking Club)

What you will need:

2 large eggplants

Olive oil

A bunch of fresh basil

Buffalo Mozzarella or parmesan cheese (optional)

Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes or 1 fresh red chilli finely diced

1 small onion finely diced

4 cloves garlic crushed

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 X 400g tins tomato paste

How to pull it together:

Slice the eggplant into rounds.  Lay the slices on baking paper and salt with celtic sea salt.  Let sit for 10 minutes until it is weeping, then wipe off moisture with a paper towel.

 

Lay the wiped eggplant on a lined baking tray, use a pastry brush to coat with olive oil (or you can dry bake without oil if you would prefer – it doesn’t really matter) and bake for 30 minutes.

salting-eggplant

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan/pot.  Add the onion and garlic and chilli and cook for 5 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and let simmer for 30 minutes (a rich sauce will form).  Check the seasoning for taste and set aside.

When the eggplant is ready, assemble the dish by layering as follows.  Spoon 1/3 of tomato sauce into baking dish, add a single layer of eggplant, and repeat until all ingredients used.  Make sure you finish with a scant layer of tomato sauce.

(If using) scatter some torn basil leaves and/or torn buffalo mozzarella or a sprinkling of parmesan.

buba-uncooked

Bake for 45 minutes or until a crust as formed.

Thermomix version:

Slice the eggplant into rounds.  Lay the slices on baking paper and salt with celtic sea salt.  Let sit for 10 minutes until it is weeping, then wipe off moisture with a paper towel.

Lay the wiped eggplant on a lined baking tray, use a pastry brush to coat with olive oil, and bake for 30 minutes.

For the sauce:

1.  Put 2 dried chillies, 1 onion and 4 cloves garlic into the thermomix.  Blend 5 seconds, Speed 7.

2.  Add 60 ml olive oil and saute 100 degrees, 4 minutes, speed 1.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste (30 grams).  Cook 90 degrees, 2 minutes, speed 1.

4.  Add 2 tins organic tomatoes (400 grams each).  Cook 100 degrees, 30 minutes, speed 1.

When the eggplant is ready, assemble the dish by layering as follows.  Spoon 1/3 of tomato sauce into baking dish, add a single layer of eggplant, and repeat until all ingredients used.  Make sure you finish with a scant layer of tomato sauce.

(If using) scatter some torn basil leaves and/or torn buffalo mozzarella or a sprinkling of parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a crust as formed.

Easy and Fuss Free Chicken Soup/Stock

Easy and Fuss Free Chicken Soup/Stock

Well they say that home-cooked chicken soup is the original penicillin when it comes to fighting sickness and it really does seem to work wonders when the winter blues get us down.  My chicken soup also doubles as a home-made chicken stock (or my home-made chicken stock doubles as a chicken soup whichever way you like to look at it!).   I really hate  using store bought chicken stocks – most of them are full of nasty chemicals and MSG (or MSG equivalents), not to mention sodium and preservatives galore!  I do understand that the thought of making your own chicken stock can seem so tiresome, and who has time???!   But with this nifty little recipe (that really looks after itself) being too busy or time poor is no longer a worthy excuse!

I use my trusty slow cooker – one of the best inventions ever.  Firstly I make my family a delicious roast chicken (one meal that we really do all enjoy to eat together).  And once everyone is finished eating, I collect all the chicken bones and carcus (like a scavenger!).  I then fill my slow cooker with filtered water, throw in the bones and veggies and let it do it’s own thing overnight and all the next day.  Then I let it cool, strain it, and portion it up to freeze in 1 cup, 2 cup and 1 litre quantities.  That way I always have my trusty homemade chicken stock (penicillin) on hand to use in risottos, stews, mornay, soups.  Too easy!

My Chicken Soup/Stock

What you will need:

Note:  This is an example of the veggies I would use.  Feel free to play around with different veggies and flavours.  If turmeric is in season this is an excellent addition to the soup as it brings a wealth of antibacterial, anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

  • The carcass of 1 organic/free range/ hormone free chicken, or a packet of organic chicken wings, or even a whole chook if you are planning to use the meat in sandwiches, torn into the soup or in salad.
  • 1 onion chopped into quarters
  • 1-2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 1-2 sticks celery roughly chopped
  • 1 leek roughly chopped
  • a handful of peppercorns
  • Sea salt or celtic sea salt
  • a handful of  parsley
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • Optional:  A tablespoon Marigolds Organic Vegetable Bouillon (if you have it).  You could also add other natural seasonings  here.

How to pull it together:

Fill the slow cooker (or soup pot) with filtered (if possible) water.  Add the chicken and vegetables and salt and pepper and cover pot and let cook overnight (if slow cooker) or for several hours on low heat (if soup pot).  When you are ready, let cool, drain and portion into serving sizes as required.  I usually make a few 1 cup, 2 cup and 1 litre servings.  If not using immediately freeze and thaw when required.

 

packaged-stock

Enjoy X

Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup

We have really been getting some cold weather lately here in Sydney (obviously not as cold as many other parts of the world!), but cold enough to make me crave warm and hearty meals.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of comfort eating at this time of year as the body craves nourishment (and thoughts of bikinis and skimpy clothes are far away as we rug up with our coats, boots and scarves).

Soups are a great winter food because they are highly nutritious and comforting yet despite being relatively low in calories they can be very filling so you won’t feel any deprivation.  And although I don’t subscribe to the calorie counting approach, as I do not believe all calories are created equally, it is important to watch portion sizes for obvious reasons.

I find that cooking a big pot of delicious soup at the beginning of the week is a great way to sort out dinners or lunches for work or home, and so easy to freeze in portion sizes, reheat and serve.  I prefer not to heat up my soup in the microwave (I actually prefer not to use the microwave at all unless really necessary), but if I have to I never heat it up in plastic.  There has been so much research to show that chemicals from plastic leech into our food when heated – and let’s face it we get enough nasty chemical exposure as it is!  Rant over!

Now for my absolutely delicious Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup.

I am fairly liberal with the quantities here, so feel free to experiment with your tastes.  Coconut milk/cream can be quite rich so be careful not to overdo it.  The cinnamon here gives the soup a delicous sweetness which will make it hard for you not to lick your plates!

Also – you can also roast the pumpkin a day or 2 before to make it quicker for you to prepare (but be warned – it won’t last long on it’s own in the fridge!!)

Note – if you own a Thermomix, I have included the Thermomix method below – enjoy!

Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup

What you will need:

1/2 jap pumpkin or butternut pumpkin.  I used a large jap pumpkin from my sister’s garden (love fresh produce!) and chopped it in half.

1 large or 2 small onions roughly chopped

Coconut oil

Cinnamon

About 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock, or vegetable stock (if you want to keep this vegan), or water would be fine too – the flavours are very rich!  Here is a link to my easy slow cooker chicken stock here.

About 1/2 can of coconut milk/cream (full fat organic if possible).  You may not wish to add as much as this – it depends on the amount of soup etc – so perhaps add according to taste.

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Chives to serve

How to pull it together:

Chop up the pumpkin into fairly even sized cubes and place on baking paper in a roasting tray.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, sea salt and pepper.  You can spritz with a bit of olive oil (but please don’t use those aerosol cans – they are so bad for you!) and bake in a 180 degree Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for about 40 minutes or until roasted through.

When the pumpkin is cooked or you are ready to make the soup, heat about 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large soup pot or saucepan and sauté the onion with a sprinkle of salt (to stop it from burning) until transparent.  Add the roasted pumpkin and toss through until well coated.  Add the stock or water until the pumpkin and onion are covered and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Allow to cool until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, blitz the soup with a hand held blender or in a food processor.  Bring back onto the heat and add the coconut milk/cream stirring until well combined.  Serve with a sprinkle of chives.

If Using A Thermomix:

Add the onion to the mixing bowl and chop speed 5 for 5 seconds.

Add the butter or coconut oil and saute for 3 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 2.

Add the baked pumpkin and broth or stock to cover.  Cook for 20 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 1.

Add coconut milk and blitz speed 9 for 1 minute.

Season to taste and serve sprinkled with chives.

 

Hmmmm enjoy X

 

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