Everything Tastes Better With A Dollop Of Pesto!

Everything Tastes Better With A Dollop Of Pesto!

I LOVE the smell of fresh basil – it sends my taste buds and endorphins crazy!  I also love whipping up a batch of homemade pesto – not only because it is super quick and easy, but it tastes delicious and adds zest and oomph to anything, it is super healthy, and when you make your own you can make sure you know what goes into it.  (Most commercial pestos use harmful vegetable oils rather than olive oil.)  So now I make my own!

Pesto is great as a dip with carrot sticks, spread over some salmon fillets (check out this yummy recipe here), in a mountain bread toasted wrap with some poached chicken or smoked salmon, tossed through zucchini pasta as a meal or salad (see how to make zuccini pasta here), mixed with some olive oil and vinegar for a zesty salad dressing, tossed through roast veggies or added to some scrambled eggs for a twist – there is just so much you can do!

Here is my simple recipe.  Feel free to play around with the quantities (the quantities here are really only a guide – the amount of basil for example might vary according to the size of the bunch etc (I tend to use as much as I have)…  You might also wish to experiment with the ingredients.  I love a lemony zesty flavour but the lemon isn’t a necessity here.  Also you might want to add some chilli (flakes or fresh) or play with the greens (think coriander, parsley, etc) or the nuts (think cashews, walnuts, pistacchios, macadamias) or even the cheese (think fetta, goats cheese, gruyere – oh yum!).

PS – I have added a Thermomix version below for those wanting to use their Thermomix or Bellini …

Basil Pesto

What you will need:

1/4 cup pine nuts dry roasted (you can do this in the oven on some baking paper or in a non-oiled pan on the stove – keep an eye on them – they can burn quickly!)

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves

2 small garlic cloves (or 2 teaspoons good quality organic minced garlic)

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

How to pull it together:

Place the pine nuts, basil, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Gradually add the olive oil while the motor is running in a thin stream until well combined.

pestoprocessor

If using a Thermomix:

Put an approximately  65 gram (2 ounce) chunk of Parmesan into the mixing bowl and blitz, speed 10 for about 8 seconds or until evenly grated.

Add the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix speed 6 for about 3 seconds or until it reaches your preferred consistency.

You will end up with a deliciously chunky pesto.

thermomixpesto-300x300

Notes and tips:

You can freeze the pesto for up to 4 months in an airtight container.  (You could also freeze in a seal-able ice cube tray for easy portion sizing.)

Drizzle with a little olive oil to cover.  To thaw, place in the fridge for 3-4 hours, stir to combine and serve.

Enjoy (and if you haven’t already don’t forget to head over to my facebook page and LIKE it!  You can also follow me on instagram @theshrinkinghubby xx

Super Tasty and Healthy Sang Choy Bow

Super Tasty and Healthy Sang Choy Bow

This is one of our favourite mid-week staples.  It is quick to make, easy to double and freeze (usually get about 4 dinners from 1 quantity), tastes delicious and is really light – so is a great dinner to have if you feel you have been over indulging lately.  I have tried to measure the ingredients so that you won’t have to think too much, however due to the nature of the dish (i.e. throw whatever you can in) you may wish to play around with the flavours to suit your own tastes.   If we feel that there is not enough left over for dinner for both of us a second time I have been known to freeze what’s left and when reheating I add a can of organic lentils (well rinsed) to bulk it up.

I have also made this as a vegetarian meal with minced tofu rather than chicken.  I boil some organic firm tofu cubes for 2 minutes in a pot of boiling water then drain well and blitz in the food processor.  It becomes a similar consistency to minced meat …)

The cashews add a delicious crunch to this dish that the not so healthy versions might get from fried noodles …  Trust me – it is seriously tasty!

Healthy Chicken Sang Choy Bow – serves 4

What you will need: (again note that these quantities are all approximate and can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes or what you have on hand)

Coconut Oil

Aprox 500 grams (1 pound) organic/free range chicken mince (I use  a packet of Macro Free Range chicken mince from Woolworths)

5 Shallots or 1 onion or 1 Leek – chopped

1 chilli chopped finely (with or without seeds depending on how you like your heat)

1 clove garlic or 1 teaspoon organic minced garlic

2 carrots peeled and finely chopped

2 zucchinis (courgettes) finely chopped

2 sticks celery finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/2 bag of bean sprouts (optional) and/or 1/2 – 1 Bag of baby spinach leaves

3/4 cups cashews dry roasted

1 iceberg lettuce

Marinade: (shake in a jar or whisk in a bowl)

1 Tablespoon Kecap Manis

1 Tablespoon Tamari

2 Tablespoon Spiral Miso Hoisin (or organic Hoisin)

1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil

If you would prefer to make this dish completely clean, rather than using the kecap manis and hoisin, you could create a marinade from tamari, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and salt and pepper – have fun experimenting!

How to pull it together:

Heat a large pan/wok and add about 1 tablespoon coconut oil.  When heated add onion/leek/shallots and chilli with garlic and cook until translucent.  Add the remaining veggies (except for spinach and bean sprouts) and chicken and mix well until the chicken is browned.   Add the marinade ingredients and cook well.  (You can do all of this earlier and reheat before serving)

To serve:

Cut the iceberg lettuce into little cups.

Toss the roasted cashews, baby spinach and/or bean sprouts through your chicken mix and reheat until the spinach is wilted and the dish is nice and hot and then spoon into the lettuce cups and enjoy XX

Mimi’s Lamb, Lentil and Tahini Salad

Mimi’s Lamb, Lentil and Tahini Salad

My friend Robyn runs a cooking demonstration/catering business called Mimi’s Kitchen – you can find her here.  She has many delicious recipes in her repertoire but this tasty salad is truly sensational.  I made it the first time for hubby a little while ago and he said it was one of the best things he’s ever eaten!  If you don’t want to use yoghurt you can whisk up some hummus with lemon juice and a bit of tahini for a dairy free dressing.

Lamb, Lentil and Tahini Salad

What you will need:

400g lamb (either lamb steaks, loin or back straps)

1 leek, halved and finely sliced

250g sliced mushrooms

2 zucchini, halved and cut into crescents

1 bunch asparagus (chopped into 2 cm pieces)

1 tin lentils, drained and rinsed well

sumac

salt and pepepr

olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1/4 cup tahini

1/2 cup greek yoghurt

Juice of a lemon

Large handful of mixed leaves (spinach, rocket work well)

How to pull it together:

1.  Generously sprinkle sumac, salt and pepper on both sides of the lamb.

2.  In a large pan, heat some olive oil and garlic, then add the leek and fry until translucent and starting to brown.  Add the zucchini, asparagus and mushrooms and continue to fry until they soften (about 10 minutes).

3.  In a separate pan (or on the bbq – this is my preferred option) cook the lamb for a few minutes on either side until cooked through, but tender.  Set aside and slice into thin pieces.  (try not to eat it all at this stage – it is very yummy!)

4.  Meanwhile, whisk the tahini yoghurt and lemon juice in a small bowl with some sumac, salt and pepper.

5.  On a platter/in a largebowl place the mixed leaves, followed by the vegetables.  Add the lentils, then the lamb.  Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve.

 

lambveggiesMmmm cooking up the veggies …

Enjoy – and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby and instagram @theshrinkinghubby!

XX

Something Sweet – Super Healthy Chocolate Balls

Something Sweet – Super Healthy Chocolate Balls

Here is an incredibly easy recipe for chocolate balls which are a great alternative to a sugary treat when that sweet craving hits.  They are full of superfoods and very rich so you won’t want to over indulge, yet they really do the trick.  I find they get me through that post lunch/afternoon slump perfectly or as a treat to have with a cup of tea after dinner.

I added protein powder to the recipe below but that is entirely up to you.  Also you could jazz it up with some chopped nuts (pistachios, almonds etc) or chia seeds (for more fibre), maybe some peppermint extract instead of vanilla – really the options are endless.  This is a great base recipe to work with and I quite like them like this …

Chocolate Balls

What you will need:

3/4 cups water

1/2 cup chopped dates

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

1/2 cup raw cocoa powder

1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut butter

Optional:  1/4 cup – 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used Theresa Cutter’s all natural vanilla – pure whey protein sweetened with stevia – no artificial nasties)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

How to pull it together:

1.   Put the dates in the water and bring to the boil.  Remove from heat and soak for 30 minutes.  Blend dates in a food processor/blender until smooth.

3.  Warm the jars of coconut oil and butter until runny.  Measure out amount required and add to the date mixture.

4.  Add vanilla, salt and cacoa powder and mix to combine.

5.  If using, add the protein powder and mix well.

6.  The mixture will be really runny, you’ll need to chill in the fridge for a good 45 minutes – hour or until the consistency is fudgy (i.e. easy to roll).

6.  Roll mixture into balls and roll in the coconut and then I like to to put them in mini cupcake patties. (Don’t be frightened the rolling part gets quite messy – once they are in balls and in the fridge they harden up beautifully and make a great little snack)

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy!!!

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

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