#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, cafe food, Cardioprotective food, Easy Recipes, Healthy dinner ideas, Home cooked, Mid week lunches, Prepare ahead of time, vegetarian

My Cheat loaf … not for cheat days!!

This thing, this loaf, is not a cheat day meal – its a vegetarian meat loaf comprised of chickpeas, black eye beans and vegetables. I know I make a lot of loaf style things and its just because they are easy to make. Baking something is so easy to do in between emails and laundry, it basically cooks itself once the oven timer has been set!

I came across this recipe on the Connoisseurus Veg blog and its become popular with my home crew who usually love their meat. I didn’t have all the ingredients that Alissa used so this one is more basic that her recipe, I didn’t have flaxseeds or the liquid smoke either – it was a bit fancy for me. But still successful – particularly with the brothers and my mom who are usually huge meat fans. I also substituted out one of the cans of chickpeas for black eye beans which Edgell have finally started to be sell here in Aus now. I first tried these when I lived in the states and I loved them. They are a good source of protein and fibre and mix in well with the chickpeas in terms of flavour and legumes are usually quite economical as well. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it is super simple; all you have to do is fill your food processor and blitz until everything is a bit crumbly and broken down to a mince consistency.

You’ll need:

Food processor – large capacity – or you could use a small one but just blend it in batches.

1 x400g tin of chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 x400g tin of black eye beans drained and rinsed

2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 onion, 2 carrots & 2 celery sticks … all diced. I chop my veggies a bit larger so that some of them are still visible in the loaf once its cooked.
Salt & Pepper to season – you could add in extra paprika or other herbs if you like.

2 Tablespoons each of Olive Oil, Worcester sauce, Low Sodium Soy, Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Soy Milk or dairy alternative – increase to 1/2 cup if mixture is too dry after blending.

Maple Glaze Ingredients – in a small bowl, mix together
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika

Once the mix is blended, place into a lined loaf tin, top with tomato maple glaze and bake for 40 mins at 180 degrees. This will be quite soft so I would recommend eating it when its cooled for awhile, you could bake it in the morning and let it sit for bit.

I’ve taken to serving it with my other side dishes like some stirfried tofu or asian greens or sometimes have it with a green salad. Its even nice cold. My little brother who I think is actually a genius has taken to shallow frying it for an extra crunchy element, and served with polenta. And I also think it might be good with a serve of sweet potato fries *drools*!

Overall, its versatile. Give it a go and let me know your thoughts on it.. on a meatfree monday perhaps?

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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, Easy Recipes, Home cooked, Mid week lunches, Money Saving, Prepare ahead of time, Soup

on saturdays we make soup

Its been hard to find the time to sit down and write. In between work and gym, I’ve been doing some online studies. I am doing an online Diploma of Business and Entrepreneurship which has been good so far and gives me some good things to think about outside of hospital life. I’ve still been cooking but just not writing so much. So today I’ve decided to share my usual Saturday morning routine when I’m at home. Lately on Saturday mornings I’ve been making soup.

Here are my top four go to soup recipes for you… I’m going to put these into an PDF recipe booklet with some of my top healthy veggie bowl recipes and will share that link soon.

  1. CARROT & LENTIL SOUP (I did this for LIVE BELOW THE LINE)
  2. GINGER, TOMATO & TUMERIC LENTIL SOUP
  3. PORK & FENNEL MINESTRONE
  4. PUMPKIN & COCONUT (VEGAN)

1. CARROT & LENTIL (aka LIVE BELOW THE LINE soup) – a classic soup recipe you need if, like me you are trying to eat well but on a budget. I did this back in May when I did the Live Below the Line Challenge where you try to feed yourself on less than $10 a week or $2 a day. It was interesting but I kinda felt comforted by the simple flavours of this soup, so its become a regular recipe now.

You’ll need:

1 cup of red lentils
2 cups water, with a stock cube added
2 medium carrots, grated roughly
1 diced tomato
1 diced onion

Method:

Place all lentils, onion and stock in a medium pot and bring to the boil until lentils are soft and well cooked. This should take about 20 mins. Then add in the carrot and tomato and bring to the boil. Simmer on for another 10-15 and then serve with salt and pepper.

 

2. GINGER, TOMATO & TURMERIC & LENTIL SOUP

You’ll need:

1 cup red lentils
2 cups water plus an extra 2 cups for later
2 stock cubes
2 medium carrots
2 diced onions
1 Tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 diced tomato
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 Tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Method: In a medium pot, gently sauté the diced onions in a small amount of olive oil. When they are translucent, add in the ginger and turmeric powder and fry together for a minute. Add in the tomato paste, the stock, and the lentils.
Boil this for about 15-20 minutes then add in the carrots and tomatoes. Boil steadily on a medium heat and then reduce the heat. Add parsley and season to taste.
Serve hot.
PORK AND FENNEL MINESTRONE – This totally reminds me of a Bourke street bakery sausage roll. Next time I should pop a puff pastry lid on it.

Ingredients

150gms pork sausage or mince seasoned with salt and pepper and rolled into smaller than teaspoon sized meatballs
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, bruised and toasted
1 bunch of parsley
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tin of diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 celery stalks chopped
1 large carrot chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini chopped
1 cup elbow pasta

Method

Dice the vegetables and finely chop parsley and its stalks
In a medium pot, gently sauce the onion and fennel seed. Add in the celery, carrot and cook until soft. Then add in the meatballs, tomato paste, diced tomatoes and zucchini.

Cover with stock and add in the pasta. Bring to the boil until the pasta is cooked.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread.

4. PUMPKIN & COCONUT

Super easy to make, I’m sure we all have a recipe for this.

1 butternut pumpkin (about 700gms) cut into large squares and skin removed
2 cups water
1 stock cube, vegetarian
3 – 4 slices of fresh Ginger or 1-2 cloves Garlic (you can choose your own adventure here)
1 x 400ml can light coconut milk

Method

Place the pumpkin cubes into a large wide based pot.
Boil the water and dissolve the stock cube in it. Pour over the pumpkin and cover with lid. Depending on how much pumpkin you use, you may need to add more water, but be careful not to add too much or the soup may end up a bit watery.

Boil water until the pumpkin cubes are soft. Cool for 30mins.

Blend or use a hand mixer to puree the pumpkin. Replace in the pot and put it back on the stove. Add coconut milk and gently heat until warm but do not boil as the coconut milk might split.

Serve topped with crunchy croutons, smashed crackers or dry roasted edamame beans.

ALL SOUPS WILL SERVE ABOUT 6 so invite your friends around 🙂

 

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