Sunday, July 7, 2013

Clean eating - Chicken with peanut sauce

With so much emphasis on eating clean, raw eating, fresh produce and non processed foods i'm continually looking at ways to refresh and reinvent my favourite dishes without using pre-made sauces and dressings that can be high in sodium/sugars and usually have lots of hidden carbohydrates.  Using fresh produce can easily reduce your calorie consumption, not to mention be better for your body in general. 

Serves 4

1/4c unsalted natural creamy peanut butter
1/4c light coconut milk
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves, plus additional for garnish
1 Tbsp raw honey
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp tamari (or reduced-sodium soy sauce)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil cooking spray
250g green beans, ends trimmed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes 
(Note: Potatoes should cook through in the same amount of time as the chicken.)
1 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces


Preheat oven to 230ºF.

In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, coconut milk, rice vinegar, 2 tbsp coriander, honey, lime juice, ginger, soy sauce, chilli flakes and garlic. Set aside.

Cut 4 30 x 40cm pieces of foil and spray with cooking oil.

Divide green beans, potatoes and onion evenly into the center of each piece of foil.

Divide chicken and peanut butter mixture between foil pieces, over top vegetables.

Bring the short edges of the foil together, fold inward a few times along each long edge to seal.

Place foil packets on a large, rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Grill or bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender. 

Carefully open a single packet to check, then reseal if needed.

Transfer contents of packets to serving bowls and garnish with additional coriander.

Nutrients per serve
Calories: 335
Total Fat: 10g
Sat. Fat: 2g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g
Carbs: 30g
Fiber: 7g
Sugars: 9g
Protein: 33g
Sodium: 169mg
Cholesterol: 65mg

Top 20 superfoods for weight loss

Top 20 superfoods for weight loss

There are a lot of foods out there today that can make you gain weight – particularly fast foods high in carbohydrates. But there are some foods that can also boost your metabolism and help you feel better and may even assist you to lose weight. These beneficial foods we call “superfoods”.

Here are ten of the top superfoods that may assist in weight loss:

1. Apples
An apple a day can help keep weight gain at bay. People who ate an apple before a pasta meal ate fewer calories overall than those who had a different snack. Plus, the antioxidants in apples may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by excess belly fat or an “apple shape.” Apples are the ideal on-the-go low-calorie snack.

2. Steak
Beef has a reputation for being a diet buster, but eating it may help you peel off pounds. Try to consume local organic beef. It’s healthier for you and the environment.

3. Eggs
Dig in to eggs, yolks and all: They won’t harm your heart, but they can help you trim inches. Omelets and scrambles are obvious choices, but if you can’t cook before work, bake a frittata on Sunday; chill it and heat up slices for up to a week.

4. Kale
This green has been buzzy lately. One raw chopped cup contains 34 calories and about 1.3 grams of fiber, as well as a hearty helping of iron and calcium. Mix chopped raw kale into cooked black beans. Or slice kale into thin strips, sauté it with vegetable broth and top with orange slices.

5. Oats
All oats are healthful, but the steel-cut and rolled varieties (which are minimally processed) have up to 5 grams of fiber per serving, making them the most filling choice. Instant oats contain 3 to 4 grams per serving. Instead of using breadcrumbs, add oats to meat loaf—about 1 cup for a recipe that serves eight.

6. Lentils
Lentils are a bona fide belly flattener. Eating lentils helps prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat, especially in the abdominal area. There are many varieties of lentils, but red and yellow cook fastest (in about 15 to 20 minutes). Add cooked lentils to pasta sauce for a heartier dish. Their mild flavor blends right in, and because they’re high in protein, you can skip meat altogether.

7. Goji berries
These chewy, tart berries have a hunger-curbing edge over other fruit: 18 amino acids, which make them a surprising source of protein. Snack on them mid-afternoon to stay satisfied until dinner. The calorie cost? Only 35 per tablespoon. Mix 1/4 cup of the dried berries (from health food stores) with 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup walnuts for a nourishing trail mix. Or for dessert, pour 1/4 cup boiling water into a bowl with 2 tbsp dried berries; let sit 10 minutes. Drain, then spoon over 1/2 cup low fat frozen yogurt.

8. Wild salmon
Not only do fish fats keep your heart healthy, but they shrink your waist, too. Omega-3 fatty acids improve insulin sensitivity—which helps build muscle and decrease belly fat. And the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns. Opt for wild salmon; it may contain fewer pollutants. Season a fillet with salt and pepper, then cook it in a hot pan with 2 tsp oil for 1 to 3 minutes on each side.

9. Blueberries
All berries are good for you, but those with a blue hue are among the best of the bunch. They have the highest antioxidant level of all commonly consumed fruit. They also deliver 3.6 grams of fiber per cup. Instead of topping your cereal with fruit, fill your bowl with blueberries, then sprinkle cereal on top and add milk or yogurt.

10. Chiles

One reason to spice up your meals: You’ll crank up your metabolism. A compound in chiles called capsaicin has a thermogenic effect, meaning it causes the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after you eat the chiles. Stuff chiles with cooked quinoa and marinara sauce, then roast them. To mellow a chile’s heat, grill it until it’s almost black, peel off charred skin and puree the flesh. Add the puree to pasta sauces for a one-alarm kick. Or stir red pepper flakes into any dish you enjoy.

11.  Almond butter
Adding this spread may lower bread's glycemic index (a measure of a food's effect on blood sugar). A study from the University of Toronto found that people who ate almonds with white bread didn't experience the same blood sugar surges as those who ate only the slice. Try it for a change from peanut butter in sandwiches, or make a veggie dip: Mix 1 tbsp almond butter with 2 tbsp fat-free plain yogurt. Or add a dollop to oatmeal for flavor and protein.

12.  Pomegranate
The juice gets all the hype for being healthy, but pomegranate seeds deserve their own spotlight. In addition to being loaded with folate and disease-fighting antioxidants, they're low in calories and high in fiber, so they satisfy your sweet tooth without blowing your diet. Pop the raw seeds on their own (many grocery stores sell them pre-shucked) as a snack at your desk. Use them in salads instead of nuts. They're especially delicious on raw baby spinach with lemon-poppy seed dressing. For another take on the seeds, use our easy recipe for sweet and spicy pomegranate salsa.

13.  Buckwheat pasta
Swap plain noodles for this hearty variety; you'll slip into your favorite jeans in no time. Buckwheat is high in fiber and, unlike most carbs, contains protein, so it's harder to overeat buckwheat pasta than the regular stuff. Cook this pasta as you do rice: Simmer it, covered, over low heat. For a light meal, toss cooked buckwheat pasta with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and onions.

14.  Yogurt
Dietitians often refer to plain yogurt as the perfect food, and for good reason: With its trifecta of carbohydrates, protein and fat, it can stave off hunger by keeping blood sugar levels steady. Use low fat plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise in chicken or potato salad, or top a baked potato with a bit of yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. You'll save 4.7 grams of fat per tablespoon. Look for Greek yogurt, which has more protein than other versions.

15.  Quinoa
Curbing hunger is as easy as piling your plate with this whole grain. It packs both fiber (2.6 grams per 1/2 cup) and protein, a stellar nutrient combo that can keep you satisfied for hours. Serve quinoa instead of rice with stir-fries, or try this take on a scrumptious hot breakfast: Cook 1/2 cup quinoa in 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup orange juice for 15 minutes. Top with 1 tbsp each of raisins and chopped walnuts.

16.  Sardines
These tiny fish are the unsung stars of the sea. They are high in protein and loaded with omega-3s, which also help the body maintain muscle. And they're low in mercury and high in calcium, making them a smart fish pick for pregnant women. If the flavor doesn't appeal to you, soak them in milk for an hour; it will remove any trace of fishiness. Use sardines in recipes you like that call for anchovies, including Caesar salad and stuffing. Or make a sardine melt: Toss whole sardines with chopped onions, fresh herbs and diced bell peppers. Put the mixture on top of a slice of pumpernickel or rye bread, cover with a slice of cheddar and broil.
17.  Tarragon
You can use this herb, a staple in French cooking, in place of salt in marinades and salad dressings. Plus, tarragon lends a sweet, licorice-like flavor to bland foods. Rub 2 tbsp dried tarragon on chicken before baking or grilling. Or make a tasty dip by mixing 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon into 4 oz low fat plain yogurt and 1 tsp Dijon mustard, recommends Jacquelyn Buchanan, director of culinary development at Laura Chenel's Chèvre, a fromagerie in Sonoma, California.

18.  Parmesan
Drop that rubbery low-fat cheese and pick up the real stuff. Women who had one serving of whole milk or cheese daily were less likely to gain weight over time, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds. Grate Parmesan over roasted vegetables. Or snack on a 1-ounce portion with an apple or a pear.

19.  Avocado
Don't let the fat content of an avocado (29 grams) scare you — that's what makes it a top weight loss food. The heart-healthy monounsaturated fat it contains increases satiety. And it's terrific party food. Add avocado to your sandwich instead of mayo for a creamy texture and a shot of flavor. Avocados do contain a lot of calories, so it's best to watch your portions.

20.  Olive oil
Like avocados, olive oil has healthy fat that increases satiety, taming your appetite. But that's hardly its only slimming feature. Research shows it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation in the body is linked to metabolic syndrome. Drizzle your salad with 1T olive oil and you'll increase the antioxidant power of your veggies, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition notes. Or toss pasta with a few teaspoons of olive oil, fresh basil and sauteed garlic.

What's in season for Winter (June/July/August)


apples (bonza ,braeburn, cox's orange pippins, fuji, gala, golden delicious, granny smith, jonagold, jonathan, lady williams, mutso, pink lady, red delicious, snow, sundowner, cumquat, custard apple), grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mandarin (ellendale, imperial) melons (champagne), nashi, nuts (chestnut, hazelnut, walnut), oranges (navel), papaya, pears (beurre bosc, Josephine, packham), persimmon, pineapple, pomelo, quince, rhubarb, tangelo.


Asian greens (bok choy, choy sum, gai laan, wonga bok), avocados (fuerte, sharwill), beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, okra, olives, onions, parsnip, peas, potato, pumpkin, shallot, silverbeet, spinach, swede, sweet potato, turnip, witlof.

A winter warmer - Slow cooked beef with parmesan dumplings

Slow cooked beef with parmesan dumplings (serves 4-6)

I love this winter warmer – you can throw everything into the slow cooker and you don’t have to worry about it again for hours! The recipe is easy to follow but most of all it tastes fantastic! 

Cooking time: approx. 5 hours (depending on your slow cooker)


Beef stew
2 Tbs olive oil
1.8kg gravy beef, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
400g button mushrooms, halved
5 (250g) bacon rashers, rind removed, coarsely chopped
1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1x 400g can diced tomatoes
1 1/2c beef stock
1/2c red wine
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (kept whole)
2 medium carrots – coarsely chopped
2 sticks celery – halved and sliced
2x medium potatoes – cut into 1cm cubes
1/3c tomato paste
1 egg, lightly whisked

Parmesan dumplings*
2c self-raising flour
80g chilled butter, chopped
1/4c chopped fresh continental parsley
3/4c shredded or grated parmesan
3/4c milk
1/2t cayenne pepper (optional)

Turn the slow cooker onto low.
Heat 1T of oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat.
Add half the beef and cook, turning until each side is browned.
Transfer to the slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining beef, reheating the pan between batches.
Heat remaining 1T oil in the pan over medium heat.
Add mushroom, bacon, onion and garlic and cook, stirring until onion is soft.
Add mushroom mixture to the slow cooker along with the tin of tomato, beef stock, red wine, rosemary sprigs and vegetables.
Stir to combine, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 hours or until the beef is tender.
Stir in the tomato paste.
Season with salt and pepper and increase heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, for a further 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the parmesan dumplings, place flour and butter in a large bowl and use your fingertips to rub butter into flour.
Stir in the parsley and 1/2c of the parmesan. Add cayenne pepper if using.
Add the milk gradually until mixture begins to hold together.
Divide the mixture evenly into 12 portions and roll to form small balls.
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Transfer the beef mixture to a 4L (16-cup) capacity ovenproof dish and place dumplings on top.
Sprinkle the dumplings with remaining parmesan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dumplings have risen and are golden.

Serve immediately with steamed green vegetables.


*You can omit the dumplings and serve the beef with your favourite pasta.

I'm interested in trialing a few different cuts of beef as I found the gravy beef to take quite a while to become tender - but that could have something to do with the temperature of my slow cooker.

This recipe could also be amazing with chicken - just swap the beef and stock for chicken (I would suggest thighs as they are more tender and won't dry out like the breast). 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cajun spiced chicken pizza with rocket, avocado and mango salad

Cajun spiced chicken pizza with rocket, avocado and mango salad

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)
6 (about 180g each) skinless/boneless chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
2 tbs Cajun or Creole seasoning
2 tsp olive oil
2 pizza basest
300g (3 cups) grated mozzarella
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, chopped into 1cm cubes
2 ripe avocados, chopped into 1cm cubes
1 red onion, halved, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1 fresh long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
Baby rocket leaves, to serve


Preheat oven to 180°C. 
Combine the chicken and Cajun seasoning in a large bowl. Toss to coat the chicken in the seasoning.
Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. 
Add one-third of the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown all over. 
Transfer to a heatproof bowl. 
Repeat, in 2 more batches, with the remaining chicken, reheating pan between each batch.

Place pizza bases on 2 baking trays. Sprinkle chicken evenly over both bases then top with mozzarella cheese. 
Bake both pizzas for 7 minutes swapping trays around and cook for a further 7 minutes or until golden brown.

Combine the mango, avocado, onion, coriander, lime juice and chilli in a medium bowl with lime juice.
Sprinkle the pizzas with avocado and mango salsa and rocket leaves and cut into slices to serve.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Egg white quiche

Egg white quiche - serves 4

1 sheet of ready rolled reduced-fat puff pastry
spray oil to grease the quiche pan
3 cups of egg whites* (approx. 27 egg whites)
4 medium button mushrooms sliced
4 cherry tomatoes sliced
100g spinach wilted
6 spears of asparagus trimmed to 4cm 
cheese to sprinkle on top
salt and pepper to season

*you can buy egg whites in the frozen section of your local supermarket.

  • Preheat your oven to 180C. 
  • Grease your quiche pan.
  • Lay out your sheet of ready rolled puff pastry. Once softened (slightly defrosted) press lightly into the corners of the pan.
  • Whisk together your egg whites in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the egg white mixture into the pastry casing.
  • Place a layer of sliced mushrooms over the egg whites followed by a layer of tomatoes. Season the mushroom and tomato layers.
  • Add the wilted spinach evenly across the top of the mushroom and tomato layer and gently press down into the egg mixture. 
  • Lay the asparagus spears on top of the spinach.
  • Finally sprinkle cheese on the top.
  • Bake for 30 - 45 minutes (until the egg is cooked and set in the centre of the quiche)
  • Once cooked leave to cool before slicing.
  • Serve with salad of your choice.

Nutritional information per serving of quiche
Carbohydrates: 19.5g
Protein: 14.6g
Fat: 5.2g

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bacon and Vege slice

Bacon and Vege slice (serves 6) 
205 calories per serve 

2 tsp olive oil
150g sliced ham, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
100g button mushrooms - sliced thinly
1 red capsicum - finely diced
6 eggs
1/3 cup (80ml) low fat milk
Salt & freshly ground pepper
3 zucchini, coarsely grated, excess moisture squeezed
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour (or rice flour for gluten free alternative)
Salad, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line an 18cm-square cake pan with non-stick baking paper or spray with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add ham and onion, and cook for 1-2 minutes then add mushrooms and capsicum and cook a further 3-5 minutes until soft. Drain off any excess moisture on paper towel and set aside to cool.

Once the ham and onion mixture has cooled, whisk the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the zucchini, carrot and ham mixture into the egg and milk and combine. Finally stir in the flour.

Spoon the mixture into the pan and smooth the surface.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set and golden brown. Set aside in the pan for 15 minutes before cutting into slices. Leaving to cool slightly allows the slice to stay firm (cutting into a hot slice will probably fall apart).

Serve with salad.


This is one of the easiest recipes and I love it. You can add different seasoning to it (cayenne pepper for a bit of spice, curry for a bit of tang) just to give it a bit of lift. 

Removing the excess moisture is important for the slice to hold it's shape - a soggy slice may not stick together - just sayin' 

With only 205 calories per serve you can enjoy this slice at any time of the day with your favourite side salad.