Monday, June 13, 2016

Cooking For Busy Mums & A Great Soup Recipe

Cooking, working and managing a family can often be a tough job. So when Amanda Voisey started sharing her quick and easy recipes for busy Mums via her successful blog and Facebook page we listened. 

Naturally, a cookbook followed and here it is:



With over 150 easy recipes which are super quick and easy to prepare and they taste great too.

" This is a resource that will allow you to cook your family real food that is made from everyday ingredients" says Amanda.

The cookbook also has some great information on kids nutrition, great school lunch ideas, how to save money when shopping for food and how to cope with fussy eaters.

The talented and lovely Amanda Voisey

I recently asked Amanda what her number one go to meal was for fussy eaters and she said her Hidden Veg Spaghetti Bolognese was her choice because it gets eaten every time.

I personally love this recipe, its packed with a variety of vegetables and I make double each time and freeze it in a number of glass containers. It is a great standby to help us ease into the working week knowing we can come home and dinner is already made.

Bliss. 

Thanks Amanda.

I also love a good soup and this one hits the spot. Its full of carrot goodness (Vitamin A and C - which I try and increase during the Winter months. ) and has turmeric in it which we can't get enough of at the moment. It's another great one to make and freeze or use for work lunches.


CARROT AND COCONUT SOUP
SERVES 4–6

Image Source: Cooking for Busy Mums - Murdoch Books
These three ingredients, when combined, create the most perfect winter soup that is budget-friendly, tasty and, most importantly, good for you.
Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) carrots, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) chunks
1 onion, sliced
400 ml (14 fl oz) light coconut cream
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
400 ml (14 fl oz) vegetable stock
Let's put it all together
1. Put the olive oil, carrot and onion into a large saucepan over high heat and cook for a minute or two.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking with the lid on for 20 minutes or until the carrot is tender.

3. Using a stick blender, blitz until smooth. If it is too thick, add a little water.



‘This is an edited extract from Cooking for Busy Mums by Amanda Voisey, published by Allen and Unwin, available now.’ RRP $ 24.99


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Breville - The Boss To Go Plus - A Review

I have recently been putting the new Breville Boss To Go Plus through its paces. 



The Goods
The kit includes:
A durable stainless steel grinding container;
1 x Mega 700ml Tritan Tumbler
2 x Large 500ml Tritan Tumblers
3 x handy lids to make transporting your smoothie easy and secure.

Tritan refers to the material the tumblers are made from.  Copolyester - a safe, tough, BPA-Free polymer that can stand up to extreme use making them shatter resistant and they stay clear even after hundreds of dishwashing cycles.

It comes with a 12 month replacement guarantee and a great little recipe book.

The Science
With Heston Blumenthal behind them, Breville believes it is all about particle size ( think granulated sugar vs icing sugar) . You see, apparently some ingredients need tough treatment to break through the cellulose walls in order to turn them into silky smooth drinkable ingredients.  The combination of the 1000W motor and the blade structure of this blender promises to really pulverise fruit, vegetables and nuts to create the ultimate smooth smoothie.

Micro bubbles is another secret weapon Breville believes this blender helps create. These they tell us, create a silky creamy like texture in the smoothie making it lighter and more enjoyable to drink.

The Green Smoothie Club
It's all about the green smoothie with the Breville Boss To Go Plus. Whilst it does a whole range of things ( which I will explain further on) the green smoothie is where this beauty truly shines. I found that despite the tougher fruit skin ( grape and apple) and the English spinach - the results were indeed super smooth and very palatable. 

I also made a lovely green pesto with basil, roasted garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan and resulted in a super smooth sauce - more so than any blender or food processor I have previously used.

Green smoothies are low GI and have a fantastic alkalising effect on the body.

My favourite green smoothie guide looks something like this:

Liquid
Coconut water
Unsweetened almond milk
Rice milk
Herbal tea infusions - green tea or caffeine free 

Fruit
Lemons
Limes
Bananas
Dates
Grapefruit
Avocados
Orange
Pomegranates
Peach
Cherries
Raspberry
Blueberries
Watermelon
Grapes

Greens
Spinach - Regular or English
Kale
All kinds of grasses 
Lettuce
Cucumber
Kiwi
Avocado
Celery

Extras
All kinds of spices - cinnamon, vanilla, 
Herbs - Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Lavender, Parsley, Basil
Coconut oil
Avocado oil
EVOO
Ice ( 2-4 cubes depending on preference).



For this green smoothie I added the following:




Handful of red seedless grapes ( green is better if you have them);
1 large Lebanese cucumber ( can peel if you prefer (if not organic));
1 whole lime (skin removed)
1/2 green apple ( cored and seeds removed)
2 large handfuls of English Spinach
1.5 cups coconut water



( This one was quite tart which is how I like it but if you prefer it a little sweeter - add 1 fresh date OR 1/2 a frozen banana OR 1 tsp raw honey).

I was REALLY impressed at how smooth and drinkable the smoothie was. It didn't feel pulpy, too thick or unpleasant to drink. It was delicious.

I also made my regular breakfast smoothie.


My daily smoothie consists of the following:
In & Out Unsweetened Almond Milk
Frozen banana
Raw honey
Dr Mercola vanilla whey protein powder
Cashew butter
Fresh date
Ice

The Boss To Go Plus performed very well and blended everything together nicely. I think for this smoothie though,  a thrusting or pulsing action would be better suited to make sure sticky items like the fresh date are adequately blended. I found the fresh date wasn't as smooth as I normally like. I tried it twice to make sure - leaving it on a little longer the second time, this fixed it somewhat but it still wasn't as smooth as I prefer. 


Testing out the nut milling ( grinding) function was a breeze. I simply added some raw cashews and some organic coconut flakes to the milling ( grinding) attachment and within seconds I had a nice fine powder which I added to my gluten free banana bread recipe which I make every weekend. I make it differently almost every time but always add 2 cups of 'flour' - which usually ends up as a combination of whatever nuts I have in my pantry. In today's version I added the cashew and coconut combination flour, along with some tapioca flour and some spelt flour. Turned out perfectly! 


The Price
The Breville Boss To Go Plus can be purchased at a variety of retailers and its RRP is $299.00


Final Thoughts
Firstly, I've never met a Breville product I didn't like. They are known for their quality and performance and thats exactly what this product does - Perform. When it comes to green smoothies, smoothie bowls and nut and protein blends this blender is definitely the best choice. A must have for the health conscious consumer ( and green smoothie lover). 


Photo source: Breville.com.au

The Food Mentalist tested the Breville Boss To Go Plus compliments of Breville. 



Friday, April 22, 2016

Quick. Easy. Healthy with Callum Hann & Themis Chryssidis

I'm really loving the new cookbook  Quick.  Easy.  Healthy. by Adelaide food personalities Callum Hann ( ex Masterchef) and dietician Themis Chryssidis – It's a very versatile cookbook that I find easy to turn to when I'm looking for inspiration and something delicious and healthy for the family. 

The book is divided into chapters dedicated to each season, starting with Summer recipes. There is also a good section on health and nutrition, shopping tips and home cooking. 

There are too many delicious recipes to mention here but some of my favourites I have already made include Quinoa, Mango and Raspberry Pudding, Baked Fish w/ Pumpkin, Basil sauce and Feta, Mushroom and Ginger San Choy Bow,  Instant Banana Ice Cream w/ Sesame Praline, and this warming Chicken Ratatouille w/ Rocket Pesto ( see recipe below).

I love that the recipes are simple to follow, nutritious and require minimal prep, as time is often limited in our house. 

Hann and Chryssidis also run the Sprout Cooking School in Adelaide. 


CHICKEN RATATOUILLE WITH ROCKET PESTO
 ‘Recipe and Image from Quick.  Easy.  Healthy by Callum Hann and Themis Chryssidis (Murdoch Books).


Ratatouille is the perfect way to use up some of those vegetables left over in the bottom of the crisper. It stores well and can be a great light lunch or a satisfying dinner when paired with a protein.


1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 small eggplant (aubergine), diced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 zucchini (courgettes), diced
1 red capsicum (pepper), diced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) tinned tomatoes
2 x 250 g (9 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 cm dice
80 g feta cheese, to serve
crusty bread, toasted, to serve

Rocket pesto
3 handfuls basil, leaves picked
1 large handful rocket (arugula)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over high heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until translucent.

Add the eggplant and cook for 3–4 minutes until it starts to soften, then add the garlic, zucchini and red capsicum. Stir in the fennel seeds, leave to toast for a moment, then add the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15–20 minutes until the ratatouille thickens and the tomato sauce darkens in colour slightly. Add the chicken and cook for a further 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just cooked.

Meanwhile, combine half the basil, the rocket, lemon juice, lemon zest and pine nuts in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Stir in the olive oil.

Divide the ratatouille between bowls. Add a spoonful of rocket pesto to each of four bowls and crumble over the feta. Serve with a slice of toasted crusty bread.

Nutrition tip Most people know that for good health we should aim for five serves of vegetables a day. This dish will go a long way towards helping you meet your vegetable requirements. It also stores well, meaning tomorrow’s vegetables are sorted too!

Substitution Ratatouille is a versatile side dish and can partner with a range of proteins. Try baked white fish, which will soak up the sauce and flavours of the ratatouille.


Enjoy x



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Infused water for better health

A very simple idea indeed but one which I think everyone should try at home. Not only does it add a hint of flavour to your water but it is a great way to boost your daily vitamin intake.

I find drinking water pretty easy, but admit when I'm at home it often slips my mind. I know some others find it a constant struggle though - So this simple idea may help increase your fluid intake throughout the day.

I was initially inspired by Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) Mickey Trescott who has just published a new cookbook called The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook

According to Mickey, to get the most out of your infused water, you must add an acidic fruit, a sweet fruit and a herb.

So with that in mind I make a new batch every second day and keep it in the fridge. It reminds me to drink water when I'm at home. It's also nice to offer any guests that may pop in.

It's best to make it the night before if possible as it allows the flavours to intensify. 

My favourite combination at the moment is sliced lemon or lime, raspberries and mint. 

I also add extras depending on how I'm feeling. With this batch I added a few slices of fresh ginger as I had been feeling a little under the weather.




Here are a list of a few different ideas to get you started - simply add a few slices/pieces to 1-2 litres of filtered water and store in the fridge:

Acidic Fruit
Lime
Lemon
Ruby Red Grapefruit
Orange

Sweet Fruit/Vegetable
Raspberries
Blueberries
Mango
Nectarine
Cherry
Peach
Cucumber
Pineapple
Granny Smith Apple

Herbs
Mint
Lavender
Rosemary
Thyme
Sage


Tell me, what are your favourite combinations?



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Supercharged Food for Kids


Supercharged Food for Kids by Lee Holmes is the answer to fresh, wholesome meals that are their favourite foods – Pizzas, nuggets, pasta and desserts, and there’s lots of advice for parents on how to avoid added sugar and processed foods as well as eating for allergies and intolerances.



Lee Holmes is a mother, holistic nutritionist, wholefoods cook, recipe writer, author and former teacher and knows how important it is to build kids both academically and physically by providing them with all the energy and nutrients they need throughout the day. Lee recommends a sensible 80% approach to wholesome meals, keeping room for treats and indulgences. Her approach is to develop good eating habits that children can maintain for the rest of their lives.

We recently caught up with Lee, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.


What are you favourite 3 recipes in the book?

I love the pirate muesli bars, crunchy chicken drummers and watermelon ice pops.

What is your go to main meal recipe for fussy little eaters?

I usually try and make it as simple as possible. The neapolitan meatball pasta always goes down well with kids. Lets face it there aren't many kids who don't eat pasta!


What one ingredient do you love cooking with and why?

I love cooking with sweet potato for kids there are so many things you can make with them, from fries to mash, you can even use it in ice-cream and pizza bases.
Lee also shared her Ham & Cheese Pizza recipe with us. Gluten and sugar free, its a beauty!
Ham and Cheese Pizza 
Makes 2

Recipe and Image from Supercharged Food For Kids by Lee Holmes (www.murdochbooks.com.au).


PIZZA BASES
150 g (512 oz/112 cups) almond meal, plus extra as needed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
12 teaspoon dried oregano
12 teaspoon dried basil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
14 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

TOPPING
2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
105 g (334 oz/12 cup) oven-roasted tomatoes (optional)
65 g (214 oz/23 cup) grated cheddar cheese or goat’s cheese
80 g (234 oz/12 cup) chopped ham
dulse flakes, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) and lightly grease two small pizza pans.
To prepare the pizza bases, combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl to form a loose dough. If it feels wet, add a little more almond meal. Dust the bench with almond meal and knead the dough with your hands until smooth. Shape into a ball. Cut the dough in half and roll each portion out into a thin circle about 15 cm (6 inch) in diameter, working from the inside out in a clockwise motion. Add more almond meal if it becomes too sticky. Place the bases on the prepared pizza pans and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the bases from the oven and spread with tomato paste, leaving a 1 cm (12 inch) border. Scatter over the tomatoes, if using, and the cheese and ham, and sprinkle with dulse flakes, if using. Return the pizzas to the oven for 7–10 minutes, or until crispy.
SUPERCHARGED TIP  
You can freeze the bases before rolling and defrost when required.


Here are some additional tips Lee suggests for rebooting your child's lunchbox.

Enjoy x


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Walnut Cacao Smoothie

This recipe is so good, you'll thank me for sharing it with you. It comes from the new Superfoods 24/7 Cookbook by Jessica Nadel, creator of the food blog Cupcakes and Kale



What I love about this smoothie is that it uses good old plain water to blend it all together. I was skeptical as to how it would taste given this fact, but I was really happy with the end result and make this most mornings when I'm at home. 

Sweet, chocolatey and full of omega-3's and antioxidants - you will absolutely love it!

Walnut Cacao Smoothie
Makes 2





ingredients
25g walnuts
250ml filtered water ( chilled if possible)
1 frozen banana
2 pitted medjool dates
2 tsp cacao powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
2-3 ice cubes

Sprinkle with
1 tsp cacao nibs

method
I literally throw it all in together and blend. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with the cacao nibs.

Jess suggests you first blend the first 4 ingredients and then add the remainder and blend again. See how you go.


For an extra boost add a shot of cooled espresso and blend. 

Enjoy x