Tonight I assembled the best meal ever!!

This week for me has been pretty good but like most people this time of year, I feel like life is pretty constant. 

This evening after gym I decided to cook myself something awesome and healthy, I’m trying to improve my veg intake but I hadn’t cooked anything. I was also late home and a bit hungry. I knew it was a risk going to the shops a bit hungry so I decided on salmon before I got in there. 

So a quick excursion to the shops and I came home with: 

2 salmon fillets (skin on)

1 small (400gm) bag of pre packed Woolworths new (red) potatoes, the ones you can cook inside the bag. 

1 small (150gm) bag of baby spinach 

I had a bunch of asparagus and some broccolini and mushrooms in the fridge 

Step 1. Super tired and felt like I should have bought some sushi instead (hungry!) but decided this would be a time trial and prepared myself mentally. The first thing I did was put the potatoes in the microwave and set it to cook for 8 minutes. 

Then I washed the asparagus and broccolini and trimmed the stalks. I sliced two mushrooms and placed them into the non stick pan with a drizzle of rice bran oil. After tossing these around for a minute I added water and a lid to steam cook them. When the stalks were really green and the mushroom soft I transferred them to a casserole dish. 

Then, I washed the fish briefly under the tap and placed it on some paper towelling on a plate to dry it. Once it was dry, freshly cracked rock salt was added to the skin side. 

The same pan for the veggies was used to cook the fish – I used a little rice bran oil to cook this in, just so the skin can get crispy. You could use EVOO instead, but we have rice bran oil for its multipurpose nature. The fish took about 10 mins, I can’t say exactly how long but I think the microwave beeped a few times so it must have been at least 10 mins – I sautéed the skin side first until crisp then turned it to either side before flipping it over. 

Spinach & Walnut salad – I did this one a while ago but I should mentioned it again here – take the leaves of spinach and wash and dry them. Place in a small salad bowl. At this point I was thinking,”I’m almost there, plus I may have lunch for tomorrow which is a bonus !

In a small sauce pan heat 1 tablespoon of rice bran oil. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of walnuts or enough to cover the base of the pan. Heat on medium high until the aroma from the nuts is releasing, this recipe smells really good when you are making it!  Take the walnuts of the heat when they are changed in colour or a bit toasty. Place on top of the spinach leaves after cooling for 10 mins. Drizzle with balsamic or red wine vinegar and one teaspoon of honey drizzled ontop. Mix well. 

On your plate, arrange the salad leaves in a small mound in the centre of the bowl, add mushrooms and asparagus to the sides and a couple of new potatoes. 

Top with the salmon and season to taste. 

This made two salmon fillets and enough potatoes for tomorrow’s lunch! Operation get LEAN has officially begun with that wonderful receipe ! 


Jill x 


DIY, Healthy dinner ideas, Salads, Summer eating, What to eat when

Brown Rice Vermicelli Salad… Vietnam dreaming

Its been super hot in Sydney lately and I’m not able to take the heat!!  Having to wear an air cast in the heat is not so comfortable either – I’ve had it on for three weeks now and am starting to get a bit more used to it.
I have started a bit of pool walking so thats been really nice in between physio and developing recipe content from my couch. So I have been staying out of the heat and I posted a few simple leaf salads last week, but I decided to up the anti today and try to make a favourite salad of mine – Vietnamese vermicelli salad ( or BUN Bo –  which translates to  lemongrass beef .. ) but with a twist instead. So normally this is a beef or pork dish, and traditionally chicken mince is not really used. But it was on special at the shop so I decided to use it. If you’re a traditionalist and you would like the original recipe using steak, click on this link here from Taste.com.au to check it out.

Also, I am sort of craving a bit of Vietnamese food, mainly because I am supposed to be on a trip there right now. Due to an accident whilst attempting to run a trail in the National Park in Waterfall a couple weeks back, I was grounded by my Dr and had to stay behind. My awesome team left yesterday and I am looking forward to their updates. You can read more about my group who are on the trip here that raised $40,000 for primary school education programs in Cambodia and Vietnam and see my own page about why I was involved here – and then make this for your family or friends – its economical, refreshing, and yum!

Vietnamese chicken mince vermicelli salad
Time: allow about 60 mins, you may need one helper in the kitchen

Meat – organic chicken mince 400- 500gm pack – if the organic is too expensive any (free range or other) chicken mince will be suitable
1/2 red onion finely diced
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1 spring onion, white and green part, sliced and chopped
3 Tablespoons Fish sauce
1 tablespoon Soy sauce
White pepper 1/2 tsp

Mix these ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside for 10 mins for seasoning to soak in.

1 x200gm packet of pandaroo brown rice vermicelli
3 lettuce leaves, shredded
1/2 cucumber, cut into sticks
2 carrots, spiralised

1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 medium lemon)
2 tablespoon lime juice  (1 lime)
1 clove garlic
1 small chilli, deseeded and sliced (I didn’t have this so I used chilli jam)
3 tablespoons grated palm sugar

Topping (for the table, to serve 4-6 people)
1/2 cup Mint
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
1/2 cup shallots, sliced and fried (or you could use prep prepared ones from the asian grocery store), for sprinkling
Put these into small dishes and place on the table.

Step 1.
Prepare the pandaroo vermicelli according to directions on the packet. Drain and wash with cold water., for a few minutes until the heat of the noodles reduces or place in a bowl of iced water for 5 mins.
This will prevent the noodles from becoming soggy and help them to stay nice and crisp. Drain and set aside.

Step 2.
While the noodles are cooling, take the mince which has been marinated and stir fry in a hot pan or wok. I used rice bran oil as that is the oil I use at home predominately and also the fish sauce in the meat has a strong aroma. Sunflower or another vegetable would also be a good one to use. I wouldn’t use EVOO for this salad as the heat can be quite high and if its a nice grassy one, it might not complement the fish sauce flavour. Cook the mince in batches (I had to do two separate ones), until it is light brown. Cooking the mince in batches can reduce the water that comes out of the meat and gets it a bit brown rather than soggy but that is my preference for the meat to be dry and little crispy. Place in a dish and set on the table.

Step 3. Salad Plate
In a bowl or on a plate, placed shredded lettuce, spiralled carrot and cucumber sticks next to each other.

Step 4.  The dressing
In a small bowl combine 1 chopped garlic clove, fish sauce, chopped chilli and brown sugar. Add lemon juice to taste (I added extra as I like more of that, and wanted to have a less salty overtone). Its important to taste the dressing as you make it so you can adjust it to your taste.

Step 5. Assembly
In your bowl, layer the brown rice vermicelli at the bottom and add the lettuce, cucumber, and cooked meat pieces., Top with the mint leaves and peanuts and shallots, and the spoon over 2 teaspoons of dressing. Mix your bowl up, ensuring the dressing covers everything well, and enjoy!!!

Hope you like it – let me know how you go by placing a comment below.



baking, breakfast, Cardioprotective food, Healthy treats on the run, Uncategorized, What to eat when

Breakfast on the run: Giant Sultana and Oat cookies

Yum – I’m missing these giant sultana and oat cookies I baked for work a few months back for a fundraiser. Sometimes if you don’t have time for breakfast a baked item can be ok occasionally. You just need to watch for the oil or fats used in the treat as they be a super nourishing cookie, which could be a drawback for your diet and your daily fat total can add up quickly before lunch, especially if you are watching your weight, it all adds up. I originally made these cookies for the nurses I work with, as they are always working hard without having had breakfast. This cookie would also suit anyone who is working hard, working out, or learning hard on the schoolyard. With the nurses I work with, a lot of them work long shifts and because they have to put other people first, they sometimes skip breakfast and lunch too. So I got the idea to make a breakfast cookie, but healthy. I used a recipe from the taste website – you can view it here. -> Taste recipe

For this recipe I replaced butter with Meadow Lea buttery cook and bake click here for product info which is better for your heart. I’ve used rice bran oil in the past as well to make these and my Vegan Anzacs and they still always come out on top taste wise. I have no affiliation with Meadow Lea, the Rice bran oil company or Taste. Just saying.

I also added some pepitas and other nuts into the mix like a couple walnuts. You could also add pecans or dates if you like for a fudgey hit.

The verdict: Not bad! I had some nurses comment they were pretty awesome, a couple even went home for their kids lunch boxes.

The fibre content in the cookie from the oats is also very good for hitting the daily fibre requirement to protect against cholesterol and other nasties like bowel cancers.

I call them the cardio protective, healthy cookie. These cookies raised about $200 towards my fundraiser for the cycle for education which is a world vision fundraiser for primary school education kits. You can read more about this if you like via this link.

But yeah, healthy baking can be done and it’s something so many people should know more about. Especially when you feel like you need a healthy treat!




Sushi at home

Today I made slow roasted pumpkin, sun dried tomato and cream cheese sushi. Sushi at home is so easy to make in summer and such an easy meal to make on a budget.  Its a good recipe to make while you are at home during the day, if you are working on a project, or if you are simply chilling, as there are a few steps to do and different stages. At the moment I’m at home recovering from an ankle sprain so I have the time, and a couple of helpers to help me with the cooking. I once had this combination at a great little Japanese restaurant in Randwick and its one of my favourite combinations for vegetarian sushi.

You will need:
Sushi rice (medium grain brown or white rice), cooked and cooled
1 sushi mat
1 packet of nori (seaweed)

Pumpkin, 2-3 large roasted pieces
Sun dried tomatoes, 50gm
Cucumber, sliced
1-2 slices from a block of Philly cream cheese (I used the light one), you won’t be eating the whole block over lunch

Cook the rice according to the directions on the packet and after the rice is cooked, sprinkle the rice with 3-4 Tablespoons of sushi vinegar and leave to cool.

We used 4 cups of rice for 6 people and probably about 1/2 a cup of vinegar.

I would recommend using a small amount of vinegar initially like 2 Tablespoons per cup of cooked rice. This step is best done in the morning, before anything else.

At the same time, I would also prepare the pumpkin. My local shop has pre peeled and cut wedges of pumpkin which are always convenient for roasting. I still have a big bunch of herbs from when my friend Elda the dietitian came to visit last week to see how I was going and showed me her recipe for home made pesto so I used some of the rosemary and sage to make the roasted pumpkin extra fragrant.
I crunched the herbs up in my hands (called bruising), to release their herb oils, and rubbed them onto the pumpkin. With a drizzle of olive oil plus some salt, the pumpkin was ready to go.
I roasted it in the 200deg. oven for about 40 mins, or until it was soft and starting to brown.

Once you have the rice, and the pumpkin ready, and they have both cooled bit, you are ready to roll. Use a clean plate or a chopping board.

Place the nori on the mat then add the rice, about 1/2 cup per sheet.
Use the back of a spoon to spread the rice out over the surface of the sheet, leaving a small space about 2 inches, uncovered. Think of it like an envelope flap.

Once you have the rice evenly spread out on the nori, in the middle of the sheet, place your fillings in a small area about 2 cm. You want to stack it a little rather than spreading it out.

Alternate your vegetables and protein – on this one I put the cucumber down first, followed by the cream cheese, pumpkin, and sun dried tomato.

Once its lined up, you’re ready to roll.

Pull the nori sheet up with the mat and roll it overtaking sure to keep a firm grip on the sheet as you roll it. Use the mat to help you to keep the roll structured. Keep rolling it until the nori flap seals the sushi in.
Cut in half to serve as rolls or into individual slices for share plates.

We also used tomato and onion tuna with sundried tomato and cucumber which was nice, and classic tuna, avocado and tuna and mayo.

We also have made aburi salmon sushi at home with the help of my brother and his trusty blow torch but thats a recipe for another time!







Time for Baba

A go to guide on how to make the perfect babaganoush


We have already delved into my childhood trauma of domates so today I thought I would open the door on my next therapy session – my complete retching disgust of patlıcan (aubergine or eggplant or just bleugh!).  I mean seriously even this photo of my finished recipe of Baba Ganoush cannot make it look even slightly appetizing!

babaganoush 2Patlıcan is not a food that I would voluntarily consume.  It is slimy.  It is bitter.  Cooked it looks a bit goopy.  All black and weird and just ugh!  And just who would want to eat something that is named after an egg but is a plant?  Does that even make sense?  And while I am at it where did the name pineapple come from?  Practically everyone else in the world calls them ananas (including here in Türkiye) but again some crazy person came up with the idea of calling it a pineapple. 

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Rainbow Garden Quinoa Kale Bowls 

I work really long hours sometimes like most working people. So I find it important to have some basics in the fridge all the time. Last week I had some quinoa left in the fridge and kale from the pumpkin salad. I felt like bi bim bap but decided to make it with the quinoa to finish it off. This was the result. 

The day before I had eaten toast for dinner – leftover curry plus some extra veggies 

I pan fried one asparagus bunch and some cherry tomatoes and sliced up half an avo    
  Added feta cubes and then thought it could do with an extra protein hit- so I friend an egg on top 


breaking into the yolk


that runny yolk


my flatmate had this one with pork!


Then, packed lunch the next day adding some extra sweet potato and blanched red cabbage (topped with Sricha chilli sauce)  

I had sprouted mung beans I bought from the green grocers as well which added a fresh element 



Spiced pumpkin, kale and quinoa salad 


This easy to make five ingredient salad I just made this Halloween past ! I sprinkled cinnamon on the pumpkin.. Kind of a pumpkin spice theme 🙂

It was really very festive and I would consider bringing this back at Christmas! The leftover quinoa lent well to the base of some rainbow quinoa bowls I made for mid easy week mid week work lunches or post work out dinners. 


2 cups quinoa, cooked in 2 cups veggie or chicken stock

1/4 Japanese pumpkin, cubed and roasted

100gms Feta cheese  cubed 

A bunch of curly kale – tear the leaves of the stalk in bite sized pieces 

Optional cranberries for sprinkling, 1/2 cup  


1. Heat oven to 180 degrees – wash peel and cut pumpkin into large cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle some oil on. Sprinkle over a teaspoon of cinnamon, and some honey if you like. I leave the skin on while roasting it. Cut the feta into cubes  for use later. 

2. Boil water on stovetop and add the stock powder. When boiled, add quinoa and cook as per directions on the packet. Place the lid ontop as the water evaporates, and fluff with a fork. Season with salt and pepper and olive oil.

2. Place the quinoa on a plate and top with the kale and pumpkin. Sprinkle the cranberries over the top. 

tricoloured quinoa


gathering ingredients


blanched kale leaves


roasted pumpkin pieces


top with feta cubes

This was yum alongside some baked herb chicken and capers. 

The leftover quinoa was used as a base for my rainbow garden quinoa bowls  🌈



Peanut Butter, Banana and Sultana muffins 

Peanut butter, banana and sultana muffins are the perfect workout fuel or post training treat.. ! 

I bought this product called PB2 by Bell Plantation at my local health food store and it’s an interesting way to add peanut butter to your diet without as many calories from fat. The webpage had a lot of recipes. Essentially it’s like a powdered peanut butter replacement with 85% less fat than normal peanut butter

I just added a 3/4 cup into my usual blueberry muffin recipe but subbed in bananas for a fruity twist.

The best part about this is that it is one I mixed in two bowls without any fancy utensils 🙂


2 cups self raising flour (I use wholemeal) Or 2 cups plain wholemeal flour plus 1 tablespoon baking soda. Wholemeal will make the mix a little heavier and higher in fibre. I like the heavy texture as it’s more filling but sometimes it is not a light as white flour 

3/4 cup brown sugar 

3/4 cup PB2 powder or 1/2 cup peanut butter of your choice (melted)

3/4 cup sultanas – break these up a little if they are clumping together


2 large ripe bananas, mashed 

300mls buttermilk 

1/2 cup rice bran oil 

1 egg 

Pre heat oven to 180degrees 

Grease muffin two 12 cup muffin tins. As an option you can line with paper if you like. 

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together until well combined.  

In a smaller bowl mix the wet ingredients until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well making sure there are no dry lumps of flour. 

Spoon tablespoons of the mix into the pan and bake until cooked for 15-18mins 

If making larger muffins you should be able to make around 15

If smaller, makes about 18 -20

Enjoy ! 


Rainbow Salad & Slaw

Serve these rainbow salads at your next BBQ or dinner

Rainbow salad is served!

Rainbow salad is just that. Bring up your salad game by adding all the colours of the rainbow to your plate. Go beyond green and add blues, reds, and purple by adding blueberries, beetroot, and purple cabbage. Add some mint or coriander to influence the herb note of the plate. Serve with a classic French salad dressing using lemon, olive oil and Dijon seasoned to taste.

This salad is so fun to shop for and make or could even make different coloured plates according to the colours of salad ingredients. I first saw this serving style in South Africa when I was at a friends wedding at Bablyonstoren, a garden and  vineyard. It was so good to eat these beautifully bright salads. I always think of them when I make a salad now!

Green salad by Babylonstoren in South African wine country

Green salad by Babylonstoren in South African wine country. The inspiration for my rainbow 🙂

My Rainbow basket

My Rainbow basket

On this day I was invited to a friends for pulled pork burgers and volunteered to make the salad. I went to my local Coles supermarket and filled the basket with a couple of my favourite items. Yellow squash, asparagus and purple cabbage. Then mint, blueberries and a pomegranate. Zucchini is another favourite vegetable so I picked up some of that too. I had this idea for a rainbow slaw using red cabbage, zucchini and carrot which I also made on the day to go with pulled pork my friend Paul had made. Lots of lemons as well as a fig and a Fuji apple completed the basket. Simply wash and cut up your veggies and place them around the plate on your choice of lettuce according to colour. Serve immediately with dressing on the side. To make the dressing place equal parts olive oil, lemon and half the amount of mustard in a small jar. Shake and season with salt and pepper. Pour over to enjoy.

For rainbow slaw: grate or finely slice 2 cups red cabbage to one cup zucchini and one cup yellow squash or carrot. Mix together in a bowl and drizzle with dressing. To make the dressing: start with the juice of one lemon. Add 2 tsps of mayonnaise and one teaspoon of Dijon mayonnaise and perhaps a drizzle of olive oil if you like. Season with salt and pepper, and mix through the vegetable mix. Since I was going to my friends house, I transported it in a large jar and then dressed it there. It was fun to eat.  

 But here’s one of me with my rainbow plate! image

🙂 Enjoy!!


B is for.. Bliss!


Bliss balls

I made these recently for some yogi friends and they didn’t last long!

Based on a Lola Berry recipe, here is my version with some modifications. I added prunes and apricots for a more fruity taste (just dates makes it quite bland)

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup goji berries
1/2 cup dried apricots chopped
1/2 cup pitted prunes chopped
1 cup walnuts
1 cup almond meal

3/4 cup cacao 

2 Tblspoons coconut oil (melted)

2 Tblspoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cacao nibs (or dark chocolate chips I used Ritter sport chocolate the first time)
I have tried using the 2 cups dates in place of the prunes and apricots and it’s nice but more fudgey and a bit plain rather than fruity.

1/2 cup fine dedicated coconut for rolling

Method: place fruit, goji berries and nuts in blender with almond meal and blitz on high for about 2 mins or until it resembles a sand. You can keep blending if you want to make it into a brownie or just keep it chunky if you like nutty pieces.

image imageimage
Vanilla Almond Milk

Melt the coconut oil and pour it into processor while it’s on the low setting with the vanilla extract and almond milk. It will start to form a paste. Spread the coconut out on a shallow roasting tray and spread out.
Roll into small, medium or large sized balls, toss through the dedicated coconut. Freeze for thirty mins before serving and enjoy!!!
They will be best kept in the fridge or freezer, will last longer if frozen.. but honestly… freshly made bliss won’t ever last long! Enjoy 🙂