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Recipe: The easiest, most veggie dense pasta sauce you ever did see

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Recipe: The easiest, most veggie dense pasta sauce you ever did see

IMG_4409

I'm a bit (...understatement...) of a YouTube junkie and lately I've really been getting into Jamie Oliver's FoodTube. Jamie and his mates around the world get back to basics and make delicious recipes in a format that is super easy to follow. One of those recipes inspired this one - and I have a feeling anyone with kids will love this one ;) IMG_4409

The Most Veggie Dense Pasta Sauce EVER

Ingredients:

  • Honestly, just grab whatever veg you have that is starting to look a bit dodgey
  • You'll want to have at least 5 or so tomatoes, halved
  • Garlic - as much as you like but it's essential for flavour
  • Chilli - optional
  • I also like using beetroot, celery, carrot, parsnip, onions, fennel, zucchini, cauliflower, peppers...
  • Spinach/kale/herbs etc
  • Olive oil
  • Good quality stock
  • Tomato paste - optional
  • Ground/minced beef, roo, chicken or turkey - optional

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to about 190c
  • In a baking pan, roughly chop all of the ingredients except the spinach/kale/herbs, and meat if you're using it. No need to be precious, no need to peel, just chuck them in the pan
  • Give them a good glug of olive oil (you can use coconut but I don't like how it messes with my Italiano flavourings) to coat all of the veg pieces
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper over the whole lot, then bung it in the oven
  • Roast for about half an hour, depending on how big your veggie chunks are. Basically, until they're all soft
  • Pull the veg out of the oven and leave to cool a little (at this point, if you're using meat, I'd start browning it off in a pan)
  • Using a blender or a food processor, pop the veg into the container along with the greens and herbs (I'd suggest oregano, basil, thyme, parsley or a combination) and add a little bit of stock (but not too much, you can always add more)
  • Blitz. Add more stock if it's too thick (you want the end result to be runny, but not watery), and blitz to your desired chunkiness. Kids will probably be more likely to roll with a super smooth sauce
  • Have a taste and add more salt and pepper if you need, or add some tomato paste if it needs more tomato oomph. If you're feeling adventurous, you can add some good quality balsamic vinegar to the sauce, which will sweeten up once you start simmering it
  • Add it to the pan with the meat, or a clean pan, and simmer it down until it has thickened slightly and the flavours have come to life even more
  • Use the sauce with pasta, veg, on top of zucchini/pumpkin/carrot/sweet spud noodles or as the basis of lasagne (you can even use zucchini or sliced eggplant as your pasta sheets!)

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Dukkah Salmon with Warm Moroccan Salad

Dukkah Salmon with Warm Moroccan Salad

dukkah salmon

I've been loving salmon lately, and it's glorious with this warm salad. Even in winter, it's important to get in a few raw vegies, so a warm salad strikes a nice balance between comforting and fresh!

Dukkah crusted salmon on a warm salad of charred sugar snaps, spinach and Chermoula roasted pumpkin, beetroot and red onion, with spicy toasted pepitas (wankfest over from this point on)

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 salmon fillets, skin on and scored
  • 10 or so sugar snap peas
  • 2 big handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 large beetroot, or 2-3 baby beets
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1 cup pumpkin (butternut or kent)
  • 2 Tbs dukkah
  • 2 Tbs pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Moroccan Chermoula spice mix
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cold pressed walnut oil
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Method

  • Chop roasting veg into consistently sized pieces
  • Pop on a tray, spray with oil, dust with Chermoula seasoning
  • Cover tray with foil, roast at 200 degrees celcius
  • In a fry pan, add Chermoula spice and cayenne pepper to a little bit of olive oil and get the flavours going. Turn to medium heat, add pepitas and toast until crunchy and coated with spice mix, then set the pepitas aside
  • Add a wee more oil to the pan, start frying off the sugar snaps on a high heat. Add salmon skin side down.
  • Pat dukkah on top of salmon. Remove sugar snaps from pan when they're dark on both sides and add to a bowl of baby spinach
  • Cook the salmon until two thirds cooked (you'll see the flesh turning pale up the side), then flip to finish cooking
  • Remove veg from oven, place on top of spinach and snaps. Top with salmon, drizzle with walnut oil, add pepitas. Serve with a wedge of lemon.
  • Happy days!

 

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Crunchy Bits

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Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Crunchy Bits

Soups are nourishing, warming bowls of goodness and this one is so rich and delicious, it's like a big cuddle from mum from the inside out!

pumpkin soup

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Crunchy Bits

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 butternut pumpkin, cubed
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 6 slices prosciutto (or the equivalent of pancetta)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Parsley

Method

  • Place the pumpkin, parsnip and garlic on a baking tray and lightly coat with olive oil
  • Cover the tray with foil and bake at 190 degrees celcius for until soft (time will depend on how small you've cubed the veg)
  • Pop the spices in a fry pan with a little bit of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the pepitas and toss until crunch. Set aside on some paper towel until serving
  • In a soup saucepan, sautee the onion in butter with a pinch of salt, on medium heat, until it is soft and translucent
  • In the last 5-10 minutes of the veg cooking, pop the prosciutto on a tray and add to the oven to crisp up
  • Pull the veg out of the oven and pick out the garlic cloves. Squeeze these into the saucepan with the onion - the flesh should be soft, mushy and sweet
  • Add the rest of the veg and mash lightly with the back of a wooden spoon
  • Add stock slowly until it covers the mash by about a centimetre
  • Use a stick blender to blend the soup until smooth - add more stock for a thinner consistency. Season as necessary.
  • Serve the soup topped with torn pieces of crispy prosciutto, the toasted pepitas and some freshly chopped parsley

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Guest Recipe: Soba Sensation!

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Guest Recipe: Soba Sensation!

kims noodles

The utterly gorgeous Kim (aka Kine) is a fashion/beauty/lifestyle blogger from my home town in Perth. She's on her way to becoming a chiropractor and enjoys a pescetarian lifestyle. Check out her blog here and delight in her playful posts and personable writing style!

kim lye

This is Kine's recipe for an incredibly quick and easy nutrient-packed soba noodle dish. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are a really tasty gluten-free alternative for regular noodles or pasta.

Kine's Soba Noodle Sensation (serves 1-2. gluten free. vegetarian.)

kims noodles

Ingredients:

  • Packet soba noodles (use the packet's recommended serving size)
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce (or coconut aminos for soy-free option, or tamari for gluten-free option)
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 small knob of ginger
  • Soft tofu

Method:

  • Boil a bunch of noodles according to the packet, run them under cold water for a summer dish.
  • Make a marinade using sesame oil, soy sauce, a dash of water, garlic and chilli.
  • Grate over some raw zuchini, ginger and soft tofu.
  • Add the marinade!

Takes me less than 10 mins and I love it so much! You can add whatever variations to it; sometimes I boil silverbeet in with the noodles.

 

 

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Meatza Sub

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Meatza Sub

meatza sub 4

I have pretty fond memories of buying pizza subs from the school canteen - tangy tomato sauce on a toasty thick piece of white baguette, smothered with melted cheese and occasionally a sprinkle of parsley and some chopped ham for good measure. It was quick, cheap, and a nightmare for my insulin and cholesterol haha.

But what were the vital components of this canteen favourite? A variety of textures, piping hot from the oven, tangy sauce and capable of being eaten sans cutlery. Fake-out mission accepted.

 

Meatza Sub (serves 1) (gluten/dairy/sugar free. low carb. low fructose.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini, cut in half lengthways
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • About 60g of lean mince (I used beef but you can use chicken/turkey/roo or even some chopped up ham. If you're vego, lentils will work but make sure they're dry after you've rinsed them)
  • 2 tsp almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium tomato paste or organic ketchup (watch the sugar!)
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional; you can swap out for parmesan if dairy's okay)
  • Yellow mustard (I use French's - just make sure there are no ingredients you can't pronounce, or anything ending with "ose"...aka sugar)
  • Chopped parsley

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees celsius
  • Scoop the middles out of the zucchini halves so that they turn into little boats (zuc-canoes?!). You want to take out the wet, seedy flesh and leave enough flesh that the zucchini will still be sturdy after baking (see mine below - I took a little too much out!)

  • Pop the zucchinis on a baking tray, canoe side up, and into the oven
  • Meanwhile, fry up your mince with lots of spices of your choice. I used some leftover Moroccan-inspired mince that needed using up! (if you're using ham or lentils, don't worry about this bit!)
  • Pull the zucchinis out after about 10 minutes or just when they start to brown.
  • Spread your tomato paste or ketchup in the boats.

  • Mix your mince with the egg and almond meal. The egg will start to cook - that's okay :)
  • Evenly distribute the mince mixture between 2 zucchini halves and sprinkle the nutritional yeast or parmesan on top.

  • Return to the oven for about 15 minutes. You'll know when they're done when the mince mixture feels firm and there's nothing that oozes when you press it...
  • Pop onto a plate and squeeze over some mustard and sprinkle the parsley over with another pinch of nutritional yeast. Season with salt and pepper.

1 Comment

Meatza Sub

1 Comment

Meatza Sub

meatza sub 4

I have pretty fond memories of buying pizza subs from the school canteen - tangy tomato sauce on a toasty thick piece of white baguette, smothered with melted cheese and occasionally a sprinkle of parsley and some chopped ham for good measure. It was quick, cheap, and a nightmare for my insulin and cholesterol haha.

But what were the vital components of this canteen favourite? A variety of textures, piping hot from the oven, tangy sauce and capable of being eaten sans cutlery. Fake-out mission accepted.

 

Meatza Sub (serves 1) (gluten/dairy/sugar free. low carb. low fructose.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini, cut in half lengthways
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • About 60g of lean mince (I used beef but you can use chicken/turkey/roo or even some chopped up ham. If you're vego, lentils will work but make sure they're dry after you've rinsed them)
  • 2 tsp almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium tomato paste or organic ketchup (watch the sugar!)
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional; you can swap out for parmesan if dairy's okay)
  • Yellow mustard (I use French's - just make sure there are no ingredients you can't pronounce, or anything ending with "ose"...aka sugar)
  • Chopped parsley

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees celsius
  • Scoop the middles out of the zucchini halves so that they turn into little boats (zuc-canoes?!). You want to take out the wet, seedy flesh and leave enough flesh that the zucchini will still be sturdy after baking (see mine below - I took a little too much out!)

  • Pop the zucchinis on a baking tray, canoe side up, and into the oven
  • Meanwhile, fry up your mince with lots of spices of your choice. I used some leftover Moroccan-inspired mince that needed using up! (if you're using ham or lentils, don't worry about this bit!)
  • Pull the zucchinis out after about 10 minutes or just when they start to brown.
  • Spread your tomato paste or ketchup in the boats.

  • Mix your mince with the egg and almond meal. The egg will start to cook - that's okay :)
  • Evenly distribute the mince mixture between 2 zucchini halves and sprinkle the nutritional yeast or parmesan on top.

  • Return to the oven for about 15 minutes. You'll know when they're done when the mince mixture feels firm and there's nothing that oozes when you press it...
  • Pop onto a plate and squeeze over some mustard and sprinkle the parsley over with another pinch of nutritional yeast. Season with salt and pepper.

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Guest Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Burgers

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Guest Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Burgers

bean burgers 3

This inaugural guest post comes all the way from Canada! I spent six months studying in Toronto and safe to say, the maple syrup, poutine, bagels with cream cheese, endless aisles of "breakfast cereal" (...Cinnamon Toast Crunch oh.my.god.) and abundance of yummy breakfast haunts that serve waffles the size of your face loaded with cream...yeah, that ALL went to my face. I've always had chubby cheeks but check this out:

Normal chub face

After about 4 months in Toronto (so much face...and everything else for that matter)

My return home from Canada actually kick-started my healthier lifestyle. Anyway, I digress.

I met Emma in Toronto as a fellow journalism student and we've kept in touch. She's wonderfully intelligent and recently lost some weight with a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Not one wanting to give up old favourites, Emma made changes in the kitchen to kick things up a nutrient-dense notch and make vegetarian food exciting and satisfying. And so her Spicy Black Bean Burgers were born.

Take it away, Emma!

As a girl who grew up eating burgers, chicken fingers and pork chops, I will freely admit to loving imitation-type foods. I love maple-infused 'bacon' tempeh, tofu, and yes, veggie burgers. I like food that pretends to be something else while giving me a similar experience. Veggie burgers let you pile on all the typical burger toppings without sacrificing a ton of the taste, as basic beef patties don't taste like much anyways!

It doesn't help that since I became vegetarian in 2010 (my sister followed in 2011), my mom started buying lots of fake veggie products when we came home to visit. I know that it helps her plan meals better by just giving us the veggie alternative of whatever she and Dad are eating, and I appreciate the effort she's making. However, I'm a bit wary of the ingredients in some of these products.

It's been widely reported that many big-name makers of soybean products use a chemical called hexane, a chemical pollutant and neurotoxin, to bind their products together in place of the fattier soybean oils, which are removed in processing.

There's no REAL reason to worry... Environment Canada says the amount in our food doesn't contribute hugely to our hexane intake (way more of it comes from inhaling paint and gas fumes) but it's still concerning that the producers of your veggie "chicken" burger are contributing hugely to the levels of hexane being pumped into the atmosphere.

Also, most soy patties taste like cardboard. 

:(

Sooo... what's a reasonably skeptical yet clean-eating girl who likes good food to do?

Make some yummy REAL burgers!

I've made it a bit of a mission to search out the best veggie burger in Toronto and have found that some of the best ones incorporate quinoa, mushrooms and onions. Something about the way those foods smell when mushed together and sauteed makes me a bit weak in the knees.

But the one I turn to the most at home is this stellar black bean burger recipe from Gina at Skinny Taste. They're spicy, hearty and hold together well - something that's often hard to achieve in a burger with a lot of ingredients.

They're also divine served with some sliced avocado and salsa, or as Gina recommends, a dollop of chipotle mayo.

 

Spicy Black Bean Burgers (serves 4) (vego. low fructose. dairy free. low fat.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz (2 cups) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro (aka coriander)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup quick oats* 
  • Burger buns (Ed's note: you could use a large grilled field mushroom or thick slice of eggplant instead)
  • 1 small avocado, diced thin (optional)
  • Salsa
  • Mayo stirred with canned chopped chipotle pepper (Ed's note: Aussies, if you can't find this in the same aisle as beans/canned tomatoes or Mexican food, there are usually cans of milder peppers you can buy. Add some cayenne powder for va-voom heat.)

 

* You can use rolled oats, but the burgers won't hold together as well, as the pieces are bigger

 

Method:

  • After washing the beans, dry them well, as the moisture will keep them from sticking together. Mash them in a bowl with a fork (I use a potato masher as they're hard to squish) until they form a paste.
  • Chop the red pepper, scallion, garlic and cilantro then blend using a food processor or blender.
  • Add spices, oatmeal and egg to the pepper mixture and then pour into the bowl with the beans:

  • Shape into 4 patties and place on a sheet of baking paper. Freeze for at least two hours before cooking. 

  • I usually use about a tablespoon of olive oil or oil spray. Set the burner on medium heat and cook about 7 minutes on each side.
  • Garnish with avocado and salsa or chipotle mayo.

 

Emma Prestwich is a recent grad of Ryerson University's journalism school in Toronto, Canada. Emma loves writing, running, and talking it out over a few beers. She is passionate about balance, trying to eat clean, and dessert. You can find her on Twitter at @emma_prest.

 

 

 

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