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 …
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.
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.
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
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)
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)
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
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:
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!
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.)
How to use the sauce with the zucchini pasta:
You 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.
Seriously, how GOOD does this look????
I hope that you all had/are having a wonderful break and enjoyed yourselves over the holidays – if you celebrate Christmas I hope it was a lovely day!
Writing this blog has given me so much pleasure and I have been overwhelmed by the response I have received from so many of you! I am so passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and am really enjoying sharing everything we’ve learnt on our very long journey.
I would love to hear from you as to what you would like to see next year at The Shrinking Hubby. Would you like more recipes? Sweet or savoury? Exercise motivation? Dietary tips? More about Andrew’s journey? Feel free to comment below (your comments always make my day!) or you can post on my wall at www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby or drop me an email at theshrinkinghubby.gmail.com and let me know how you are going and what you want to achieve for you or a loved one.
I wish you and your family and friends a wonderful new years. Don’t be too hard on yourselves if you over-indulged at this time of year – sometimes you have to just relax and enjoy life a little bit! Don’t forget to keep exercising to make up for it and most importantly don’t let a few bad days ruin all your hard work – now is the time to get straight back on track and start getting excited for a great (and healthy) 2013 … Now is the time to set some goals for next year – it REALLY makes a difference if you write them down (and even more so if you share them with a supportive friend/loved one). Here’s to 2013 being a fabulous year for us all!