#winter, baking, DIY, Easy Recipes, Fruit, Healthy treats on the run, Home cooked, Prepare ahead of time, summer, Summer eating

Christmas Pudding Bliss

WARNING – These are highly moreish, very festive, and a little bit addictive. I have served these around at work today and they have been highly rated by everyone and even got the Drs approval! But seriously, unlike everyone else in the online health space, I am not going to tell you to eat this instead of chocolate because they are gluten free, and dairy free, and they don’t contain refined sugar, but I would rather show this as an example of health marketing and how it can change our perception of health. This recipe is originally adapted from one by The Healthy Chef Teresa Cutter. She’s got a great site and recipes but I just wanted to say that perception is everything.

I may be perceived as unhealthy for typing eat the chocolate, but I truly believe that you should sometimes, eat the chocolate. And I am sure Teresa would agree. When we try to deviate from what our body tells us to eat, sometimes we can place an unnecessary restriction on ourselves and thats sometimes the thing that can feel like deprivation. This is not healthy. It is good to try to make healthy choices but probably not good to sacrifice preference. The outcome should probably be a means of making healthy preferences instead of rules. BALANCE.

But anyways, being overly healthy because of marketing is by no means the point of this post; which is on Christmas in Australia and what it is like for all the Northern Hemisphere, cold Christmas goers. So now that we have that straight, disclaimer – they are in no way a chocolate replacement – just more of a hot pudding replacement and easy to eat alongside the chocolate!

Part of being healthy is eating the chocolate, and balancing it out with things like these fruit and nut truffles. Given its so hot in Sydney for Christmas, these can be really refreshing cold straight from the fridge. Its also a bonus not to have to steam a pudding (sweat alert!).. Plus we have a pudding maker in our family and she is the best at it with her years of experience, I really wouldn’t want to challenge her.

Another good point about this recipe is that this is versatile and it doesn’t take a lot of time out of the overall busy season. Its also something you can make into something else for whatever the occasion – so I am going to try to roll this into a log to be  served alongside some different cheeses tomorrow. There is one negative and that is the price of dried fruit and almond meal – you might need two batches of this as its yummy so go to your local community bulk buy store to get some cheaper prices than in the supermarket to help the Christmas budget.

To everyone in the Northern Hemisphere cooler climate, you might like to leave them out of the refrigerator and serve them at room temperature alongside a nice glass of warm mulled wine….  transforming them into wintery Christmas Pudding that you don’t have to bake. Time saving, delicious, and AMAZINGLY versatile!! Heres the recipe.

YOU’LL NEED:
A food processor with a sharp blade. Measuring cups. A wooden spoon for scraping the sides. And a large mixing bowl. 2 plates, one for rolling and the other for coconut. And a Christmas CD of your choice. Maybe a glass of wine.

INGREDIENTS:

DRIED FRUIT
250 grams diced apricots
20 pitted dates, diced

NUTS
1.5 cups almond meal, plus an extra half cup in case of emergencies with the orange juice.

1 small orange, zest removed, and set aside, and half of its juice – around 1/4 cup.
1 tsp vanilla extract, essence or vanilla bean paste
2 tsp cacao powder

SPICES EVERYONE HAS AT HOME BUT NEVER USES UP, EVER:
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

HOW TO MAKE:
Place the chopped dates and apricots into the processor first.
They should be room temp for easy processing. Don’t do what I did this morning and use hardened and refrigerator cold dates, as they don’t combine well and any cold fruit will rattle around in the processor. Annoying.
Make sure they are at room temp so that mix in the same consistency. SUPER LAZY TIP – If you haven’t diced them you could blitz them a little before to get them together.
After they are mixed, add almond meal, cacao, orange zest, spices, vanilla and blitz together until it resembles a mince. For about 2 mins. Seriously. Then add in the orange juice and process until it forms a sticky ball. If its too wet and you can’t hold it without it sticking to your hands a lot, add in the extra half cup of almond meal at this point and blitz into the mixture.

Turn it all out into a bowl and form into whatever shape you like. This should only take about 15 mins if you are a fast roller.

Dust with cacao and cinnamon or icing sugar. To dust: in a bowl, mix together 1 desert spoon of cacao and 1 tsp cinnamon. Then dust them with the mixture and some icing sugar. Or roll them in 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut on a plate (untoasted).

Refrigerate in a container for a bit before you eat them, for the max effect on a hot day.
My favourite is with the coconut as I think it adds something to the flavours. I used McKenzies coconut flakes, they are a much larger and thicker shredded style of coconut, not so dry and generally more dense than desiccated coconut usually is, so they stick on better overall and taste way better too.

I hope you will try this, its really easy and really delicious!!!

Thanks for reading and your likes and follows this year. Its been really cool to build the Healthy Little Kitchen page up and Ive got a few more in store for 2017!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas,

Jill  x

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baking, BBQ accompaniments, DIY, Easy Recipes, Healthy dinner ideas, Home cooked, Prepare ahead of time, vegetarian

Lentil and Quinoa Stuffed Capsicums

These make a good veggie lunch or can be a side to any roast dinner.

You’ll need:

5 or 6 traffic light capsicums all around the same size
3/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup aborio rice
1/2 cup French (blue) lentils
1 medium onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 -3 cups chicken or veg. stock
salt and pepper

This is an absorption method recipe. You could also use a rice cooker for this mixture.
Heat up 1 Tablespoon of oil in a heavy based deep pan. Fry the onions in the oil until they are translucent. Make sure the heat is not high as you don’t want to brown the onions. Then add the rice, quinoa and lentils. You could rinse these in a sieve before you add them in if you like. Mix to combine with onion and add in the stock. Place the lid on top and let simmer for 5 mins. Stir the pot every 5-6 mins. it should take around 15 mins to cook.
You can vary this recipe by adding different seasoning or combinations like bacon and onion to fit the occasion. You could also add toasted almond slivers, sultanas or walnuts in the rice.

When cooked, allow to cool for 5 mins or so while you prep the capsicum.

Line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper. Wash the capsicums and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the tops off about 1 inch from the stalk and remove the seeds inside and in the top. Place them on the tray.

Stuff each capsicum with the quinoa and lentil mixture.
Replace the lid of the capsicum.
Spray with olive oil spray and season with salt and pepper.
Baked in a mod. oven (180 deg) for 15-20 mins, or until the outer skin of the capsicum has cooked.

Serve with a side of your favourite protein or salad.

Enjoy!

 

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#winter, DIY, Easy Recipes, Healthy dinner ideas, Home cooked, Money Saving

When you don’t really feel like cooking

Lately its been quite crisp and the wintery weather has made me feel like warm food.

Last month I posted a mexican bowl as some of you will remember. I probably make this about once a month but the mixture lasts awhile if you add a couple of beans and other extras to it. It freezes nicely too which is handy when you have a mid week work disaster and can’t cook, just get it out and defrost it. This recipe is a healthy source of protein and iron, and the addition of the legumes, rice or vegetables plus salad provides a valuable source of fibre.

1 pack of lean, reduced fat/heart healthy mince, about 600gms
1 tin of red kidney beans, or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 white onion, diced
1 Mexican seasoning mix (or if you don’t have any or don’t want to buy it, you can use a mix of paprika, cumin and chilli powder, I would use equal parts cumin and paprika and a small amount of the chilli powder)
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 Tablespoons water

Method
Gently cook the onion until soft. Add in the seasoning mix or herbs and the mince. Cook mixture until brown. Add in the tomatoes and water and simmer..

To Serve – my favourite suggestions

  1. bake a plain potato – leave the skin on and make a cross mark in the top. Heat in the microwave or oven it if you have time – when cooked, top with some cheese and the mix. Enjoy. You could also use a sweet potato cut in half, with some of it scooped out – like a souped up potato skin. Alternatively, you could get a large courgette – halve it lengthwise and scoop out a small canal in the middle – add the mix, top with vegetables of your choice and add some grated cheese – and bake in a 180deg oven for 15 mins.
  2. in a small bowl place a cup of cooked brown rice. top with 1/2 cup of the mince mix, and about 1 tablespoon of chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, 1 tablespoon of rinsed and drained corn kernels, coriander leaves, grated tasty cheese and a generous dollop of natural yoghurt. Top with sriracha sauce.
  3. Make nachos  – but especially serve the mince with corn chips and a freshly made guacamole – take one ripe avo and mash it with a squeeze of lime, chilli flakes, and a tablespoon of finely chopped red onion -assemble and serve. Enjoy with friends!
    For more recipes including a lasagne recipe from the Womens Weekly NZ site click  Here  or the Foodtolove.com.au site  Here
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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

Ingredients:
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.

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

Dressing
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.

 

 

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Bananas, breakfast, Breakfast Rituals, cafe food, DIY, Fruit, vegetarian

B is for .. Banana

Banana bread is another Aussie cafe staple. There are many variations that you can make, my latest variation is to add berries and chia to give it a bit of tartness and texture. I’ve also added lemon before which can complement the blueberry, as it gives it more of a lift and works well with yoghurt.

Oven – 180 fan forced

Loaf tin, greased and floured (this creates a good crust)

Recipe

3 large bananas (just over 1 cup) mashed

2 eggs

1/4 cup rice bran oil

3 dessertspoons chia seeds

1/4 cup yoghurt (I use passionfruit vaalia)

1 cup self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix the mashed banana with the wet ingredients together and add chia seeds

Add in the self raising flour and baking powder and mix together until combined

Pour into loaf tin and bake for 40 mins. You may need to put some foil over the top for the last 10 mins

Share with a friend and a mug of your favourite tea or coffee

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