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Tag Archives: healthy

Red Lentil Vegetable Dahl

I am describing myself these days as a “flexitarian”, as I support the philosophy of vegetarianism and try to follow its precepts, at least for some of the time. I am finding that I am becoming more and more interested in vegetarian cooking, as well as really enjoying eating meat free. I regard my forays into vegetarian cooking as an ongoing project!

My Saturday morning trip to Orange Grove Market often results in the acquisition of some delicious Indian fare from a couple of market stalls. One of these stalls makes a great red lentil dahl – so delicious! So I thought it was about time I made my own.

I found this recipe from Vegan Sparkles and made it with a few tweaks. The link to the original recipe is here. My main variation was adding water as well as stock to the recipe, as the dahl really needed the extra liquid.

It’s super easy to make, looks colourful and enticing, is both vegetarian and vegan and best of all – tastes great!

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½  onion, finely chopped

1 cup sweet potato, chopped into cubes

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)

¾ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1½ tsp ground cumin

1½ tsp ground turmeric

1½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground coriander

1 clove garlic, chopped

1½ cups dried red lentils

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups water

1 tsp honey

1 cup grated and pulped carrot

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby spinach leaves

½ tsp nigella seeds

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and sweet potato and fry gently until onion is soft. Add ginger, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, garam masala  coriander and garlic to the pan, and cook, while stirring, until mustard seeds begin to pop.

Add the lentils, stock and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the honey. Put the carrot pulp, broccoli  and cherry tomatoes into the dahl and simmer for another 15 minutes.

The dahl will be cooked and somewhat reduced. If it’s looks a little too dry, add more water, or if it’s too liquidey, reduce down a bit more.

Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the spinach leaves until they are just wilted. Scatter the nigella seeds just before serving over the dish. They will give an interesting black fleck to the dish!


		
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Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese

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This variation on traditional Mac ‘n’ Cheese is from Jamie’s Super Food family Classics. It’s a lighter version of the dish and is full of tasty veg in the form of butternut squash (pumpkin), so it’s very healthy!

I have included Jamie’s recipe with only some slight tweakings here. I made the recipe without the crumbs and popped beans topping, adding a few seeds and basil leaves as garnish.

The photos I took are of a HALF quantity – which was a pretty gernerous dish. The recipe below is for the FULL quantity.

Ingredients

l leek

1 onion

olive oil

1 butternut squash

1 heaped tbls plain wholemeal flour

500ml semi-skimmed milk

450g dried macaroni

2 tsp English mustard

300g cottage cheese 40g Parmesan cheese

For the topping

1x 400g tin of cannellini beans

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp dried red chilli flakes

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 slice of wholemeal bread

My topping

A handful of toasted seeds (pepitas, linseed, sesame or what ever you have in the store cupboard).

Basil leaves

Method

Wash and trim the leek, peel the onion, then finely chop and place in a pan on a medium heat with 1tablespoon of oil. Cook and stir while you carefully halve the squash lengthways and deseed, reserving the seedy core. Chop the squash into 2cm chunks, leaving the skin on, and stir into the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the flour, followed by the milk and 500ml of water. Simmer with a lid ajar for 35 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Parboil the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drain and tip back into the pan. Carefully pour the contents of the veg pan into a food processor and blitz until smooth (working in batches, if necessary) to make your sauce. Taste and season to perfection, then pour over the pasta, add the mustard and cottage cheese, finely grate over most of the Parmesan and mix well. Transfer to a high-sided baking dish (30cm x 40cm), then grate over the remaining Parmesan. Bake for around 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

For Jamie’s crumbs and popped beans:

With 15 minutes to go, drain the beans, then toast and dry fry them in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until popped, shaking occasionally. Peel the garlic and put in the processor with the chilli  flakes, seedy squash  core,  rosemary  leaves  and  bread  and  blitz  into  crumbs.  Add to the beans, then toast and toss until crisp and gnarly. Serve the pasta with the toasted beans and crumbs on the side. Good with a lemon-dressed salad.

For my topping:

Serve with a handful of toasted seeds scattered on top and a few basil leaves.

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Bircher Muesli Trifles

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I get to work quite early and really enjoy having breakfast at work after I’ve done the first round of emails. I bring in all sorts of tasty treats – home baked sourdough, treacle soda bread, fruit rolls and scrolls, all with lots of my jams and marmalades, and different combinations of cereals, muesli and granola that I put together in the store cupboard for quick breakfasts.

My latest addiction is Bircher muesli, piled into jars with fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and anything else I fancy, plus a drizzle of honey. This becomes a Bircher Muesli Trifle. The basic muesli can be made on the weekend, enough for the week, and the individual jars or pots put together in the morning ready for transportation to work. Just add some milk to pull the whole thing together. An incredibly easy, tasty and very healthy breakfast!

Here is the basic recipe for the Bircher muesli, and my suggestions for what to layer your trifle with. The quantities will make 4 jars. Just multiply for bigger amounts.

Bircher Muesli
Ingredients
75g rolled oats
100g no fat yoghurt
1 apple or pear, grated

Trifle additions
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, passionfruit, quinces, apples, pears
Macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios
Any seeds you like
Drizzle of honey – raw if you can get it

Method
Combine oats, yoghurt and grated apple or pear in a bowl. At this stage you can cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or you can use straight away.

When you are ready to make your jars, start layering. It really doesn’t matter what order you use. I start with fresh fruit first as it’s much easier to turn out the trifle into a bowl – if you go Bircher first, it tends to stick to the bottom of the jar!

Suggested order – fruit, Bircher, fruit, nuts, seeds, honey.

Pop the lid on tightly and that’s it! When you’re ready to eat, loosen with a splash or more of semi-skimmed milk. You can eat straight from the jar or tip into a bowl. Depending on how hungry I am, I sometimes add a banana or a chopped apple to the bowl. That makes a really substantial breakfast to get me through the day.

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Cinnamon Buttermilk Muffins

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I have just discovered the secret to great muffins – keeping the mixture in the fridge overnight or longer before baking. Matt Stone in his fabulous book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste” gives this tip in his recipe for Greenhouse Muffins, which I recently wrote up in a post, see here. This trick of leaving the mixture in the fridge definitely gives the muffins their gorgeous flavour.

My other discovery came about when I realised that I didn’t have any buttermilk. You just add lemon juice to milk to create the separation process. So easy!

My recipe uses ground cinnamon and cinnamon honey. I bought this honey made by Beelish Honey (http://www.beelish.com.au/) at a hand-made market in the Hunter Valley recently.  It has an unusual strong cinnamon flavour. You can just use ordinary honey instead and maybe add a little more cinnamon to the mixture.

Ingredients
1 Granny Smith apple or similar tart apple
150 gms self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
50 gms almond meal
50 gms rolled oats
75 gms dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50 gms melted butter
1 egg, beaten
225 mls buttermilk or semi-skimmed milk with the juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp cinnamon honey or ordinary honey
2 handfuls sour cherries or cranberries or raisins

Crumble topping
50g cold butter
70g plain flour
50g rolled oats
3 tsp honey

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a 6 cup muffin tin with muffin papers or grease muffin pan.
Mix flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, almond meal, rolled oats, dark brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl.
Combine melted butter, egg, buttermilk, vanilla paste and cinnamon honey or ordinary honey in another bowl.
Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.
Fold in the chopped apple and cherries or other dried fruit. Ideally, if you can, leave the muffin mixture overnight for the flavours to develop. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge.                                                                                   Fill the 6 muffin cup muffin tin with the mixture.
For the crumble topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, mix well, then mix in the honey. Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture.
Bake for about 25-35 minutes in the preheated oven. Check after 25 minutes with the skewer test, but they will probably need a further 5 -10 minutes. These are quite big muffins and need decent cooking time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Serve with lashing of butter and maybe a little honey!

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Greenhouse Muffins

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This is Matt Stone‘s recipe for really delicious muffins! The recipe is from his great book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste”, see here for link. He’s an interesting, sustainable chef, who has been involved in innovative kitchens such as the Greenhouse in Perth, Western Australia.

The recipe is full of grated apples and carrots, with walnuts and cinnamon, with an oaty crumble topping. What I liked too, was that Matt suggests making a big mixture, baking some straight away and keeping the rest of the mixture to bake in a day or two. Genius, if you want freshly baked muffins for breakfast, without having to make the mixture from scratch in the morning. He even suggests that it’s best to make the muffin mix the night before anyway, to let the flour and baking powder work overnight.

Matt’s recipe uses freshly milled flour and freshly rolled oats, as he is an advocate of using ingredients in the freshest possible state. I didn’t have access to these techniques, so I used regular plain flour and rolled oats. But I am seriously thinking about acquiring the equipment to mill and roll at home!

The first batch I made in a regular muffin tin but I made the second batch using a texas muffin tin. From one mixture I got 6 regular muffins and 4 texas sized ones. The recipe below refers to using a regular, 12 hole muffin tin. Obviously you can make different sizes, as I did, if you want.

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Ingredients

100g nuts (I used walnuts)

4 eggs

280g raw sugar

200g carrots, unpeeled and grated

200g apples, unpeeled and grated

150ml vegetable oil

300g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

Topping

50g cold butter

70g plain flour

50g rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

1 tsp vegetable oil

3 tsp honey

Method

Dry-toast the nuts in a heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat for 3–5 minutes until fragrant and golden, then roughly chop.

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and once things start to get foamy, slowly begin to pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the carrot, apple, oil and toasted nuts. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge so it’s not a bad idea to make a double batch and bake every second day so you can have fresh muffins all week with little fuss.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, seeds and oil, mix well, then mix in the honey. You want a crumble-type mixture. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water to get it to a lovely, crumbly consistency.

Grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.

Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture. Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there. The good ol’ skewer test is the perfect way to see if they’re cooked through.

Once cooked, remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin, peel off the baking paper and place on a wire rack.

Serve warm, pretty much after baking, with butter!

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Butternut Squash Pancakes

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This is a lovely recipe from Jamie Oliver perfect for the new year when you’re tired of eating holiday food and once something tasty, simple and healthy!

Jamie posted this recipe before Christmas, calling it “Leftover Squash Pancakes“, a suggestion for what to do with leftover veg after Christmas Day. Here is the link to the original recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetable-recipes/leftover-squash-pancakes/#fxL81qWfXkFy7k2C.97

Here in sunny Sydney, while I didn’t have leftover butternut squash after Christmas Day – we had our Christmas fare served cold and lots of lovely salads – I really wanted to cook these pancakes as an antidote to all the rich food I have been eating! So I baked a butternut squash on its own especially for this recipe.

The pancakes were great, and the “leftover” leftovers pancakes, actually refrigerated well and were nice eaten cold the next day.

I served them with sage, thyme and oregano sprigs, and some sweet chill sauce.

Ingredients

250 g roasted squash

1 fresh red chill

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

30 g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

1 large free-range egg

280 ml semi-skimmed milk

150 g self-raising flour

1 whole nutmeg , for grating

Olive oil

Fresh herbs for serving

Sweet chili sauce  for serving

Method

Remove the skin from the roasted squash, then de-seed and finely chop the chili. Pick and finely chop the rosemary leaves, discarding the stalks, and finely grate the Parmesan.

In a large bowl, mash the squash with a fork, then whisk in the egg, milk and flour. Add the chili, rosemary, Parmesan and a grating of nutmeg.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and, once hot, add half a ladle of mixture per pancake into the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden and crisp.

Keep warm in a low oven until ready, then serve with and extra grating of Parmesan and some fresh herbs. Sweet chili sauce goes well with the pancakes, too.

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Jamie Oliver Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts

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Super food, super easy and super good! Jamie’s latest book Everyday Super Food is a bit of a revelation, crammed full of beautiful, colourful, easy recipes that are really healthy.

The research, the nutritional information, and the carefully planned and written recipes make this book a must-read and a must-cook. I’m big on flavour, and what I’ve cooked so far is bursting with it …I can’t  wait to cook more!

If you love cooking, love really tasty food, and would like to feel that you are doing your bit to eat healthily, then get Everday Super Food. It’s common sense, not faddish, and do-able!

I made Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts today. I went for blueberries, next time I’ll try raspberries. I didn’t realize till I was making the recipe that there was no sugar – the blueberries are sweet enough – even for the sweet tooth of this quirky writer! The drizzle of honey on the pancakes themselves when serving adds that little extra sweetness which is nice. Here is Jamie’s recipe very slightly tweaked.

Ingredients

320g blueberries or raspberries

1 ripe banana

170ml semi-skimmed milk

1 large free-range egg

250g wholemeal self raising flour

To serve

4 tbs natural yoghurt

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

30g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped

Drizzle of honey

Method

Blitz half the berries, peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a food processor or blender to make a smooth pancake batter. Fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, put some batter into the frying pan to make large pancakes or small ones. I went for smallish. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp and browned. Jamie suggests flipping them for an additional 30 seconds each side to ensure they are super crispy. This seemed to work for me.

You can serve whole, or slice the pancakes in half so you can see the fruit. Serve with a spoonful or two of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey over the whole lot. Delish.

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