Lime + herb salad with quinoa

Lime herb quinoa salad

We all know the feeling; you’re committed to staying healthy this time, but you can’t always make friends with the same old salad. You’re seriously weighing up if you can stand the monotony of yet another garden salad with grilled chicken. Kale doesn’t have the same shine as it used to. Yet you know vegetables are good for you.

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And you would be right, my friend. Fruit and vegetables are chock full of antioxidants, which basically protect you from “oxidative damage” that is inevitable as we age. As well as playing an anti-ageing role, a diet high in fruit and vegetables also protects you against cardiovascular disease, what kills more people than anything else.

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Having said all those lovely things, fear and loathing shouldn’t be what drives you to eat healthy. It should be something you enjoy, i.e. the food should taste yummy and it shouldn’t be boring. Sometimes that means trying something new. We teamed up with Dan and Laura, the beauties behind The Vault Online to give you work lunch ideas to spice up your working weak. Check out the full feature here.

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Just add a protein of your choice (chickpeas, lentils, chicken, seafood or meat) and you have yourself a party (in and around your mouth).

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Lime + herb salad with quinoa

  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • Handful each of roughly chopped parsley, mint, coriander and fennel
  • 2 spring onions, chopped to the ends
  • 2 limes, skin removed and flesh chopped
  • Handful of raw almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Feta (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil for drizzling

 

Method

  1. Cook quinoa by adding 2/3 of boiling water (from the kettle) into a pot. Once it is boiling on the stove, turn heat down to a simmer, then cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to stand, covered. Allow to cool.
  2. In a large salad bowl, add the herbs, peas, quinoa, spring onions, limes, almonds and cumin. Toss.
  3. Crumble desired amount of feta on top.
  4. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To finish, drizzle desired amount of olive oil on top.

Silverbeet curry with haloumi

Spinach curry with haloumi

Like Vegemite and avocado, this dish is an unlikely collaboration of India and Greece that surprised and negated my initial scepticism. Palak paneer is the traditional Indian dish: a pureed spicy spinach curry with paneer cheese. With this meal in mind, one day I found myself at a grocer with no paneer. “Don’t panic Jacqui, they have haloumi. It’ll be fine, right?” I couldn’t hide my hesitation.

Much to my delight, it turned out better (in my opinion) than the original! The saltiness of the haloumi accompanies the coolness of the yoghurt to create a perfectly balanced palate. Jacqui = 1, lack of time management = 0.

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Once I had perfected my recipe and shoot day came, my “misfortune” continued when the market stall I went to did not have spinach, only silverbeet. “Surely it would be ok?” Again, I was skeptical.

To be honest, this time I couldn’t claim it to be any better, since it didn’t taste markedly different. Having said that, it’s nice to mix it up and it teaches me that shopping for the season you are in can be easier than you expect. Substitute the silverbeet for spinach if that is more available to you, or any other fantastic variety of green. Here it is, my amalgamation of two cultures: Palak haloumi with silverbeet.

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It makes a big difference to the flavour if you can make your own curry powder, but if you don’t have time you can substitute for Indian curry powder. Serve this with rice as a vegetarian main, or with a mix of chicken, beef or pork curry, dahl, raita and poppadoms as a banquet.

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Silverbeet curry with haloumi

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 cloves
  • 5 cardomom pods, seeds taken out
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric
  • 30g organic, cultured butter
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5cm ginger, chopped
  • 1-2 thai chillis
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 bunch silverbeet
  • 5 curry leaves
  • ½ organic, unsweetened greek yoghurt
  • Brown rice, to serve

 

Method

  1. Dry roast the cloves, cardomom seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and tumeric for approximately 5 minutes or until fragrant, stirring continuously (be careful not to burn!).
  2. Blend spices until powder is formed.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat, add onion and sauté covered until soft. Add powdered spice mixture, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt and silverbeet and cook until silverbeet is wilted (approximately 5 minutes).
  4. Put mixture into blender and blend until desired consistency is achieved (I find this is a very individual taste, but I like it pureed).
  5. Add mixture to the saucepan again, add curry leaves and yoghurt and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.

seven tips to staying healthy + chocolate hazelnut smoothie

chocolate hazelnut smoothie
You already know how to be healthy, but you just can’t seem to actually do it and stick to it. Here’s our simple tips on how to prevent yourself from falling off the bandwagon, for good.
1. 80/20 = moderation!

When people ask me how I am so healthy, the first thing I say is that I am not strictly healthy 100% of the time. Yes, I do eat a lot of good food, but 20% of the time I don’t. I eat chocolate almost every day. I drink socially. I eat dessert at dinner parties. But I do all of this in moderation. I only have a couple of squares of (very dark) chocolate. I don’t drink to excess and I try to stick to less sugary drinks. I treat myself when people make an effort to cook for me. I love eating, it’s such a great part of life. The moment you start to deny yourself foods you love is the second you start to crave those exact foods and sooner or later you will get sick of using willpower to stop yourself. It’s exhausting, trust me I’ve tried it. Let yourself off the hook, but learn to treat yourself in moderation.

2. Preparation!

This one is sooooo important. You know the feeling, you get home from a 12 hour work day and the last thing you want to do is spend 10 minutes cutting up vegetables, then wait 45 minutes until they are cooked. So my hot tip is – twice a week spend an hour or so preparing food for the next 3 days. Every sunday I try to visit the local market, I cut up a ridiculous amount of vegetables and I bake them. Then I use these in frittatas, salads, soups, wraps, etc, for the next few days. For protein, I make up a big batch of hummus, or cook extra chicken or whatever I am making for that sunday meal. Another great thing to pre-prepare is snacks, such as bliss balls or raw brownies to stop myself snacking on processed sugar during the week. Make it a habit you enjoy, put on some music, do it in your underwear, whatever floats your boat.

3. Befriend your freezer

This one is linked to preparation, but every time you make a meal, make extra and freeze it for a time when you haven’t got anything prepared and you can’t be bothered to make something. Trust me, these times always creep up and it’s so nice to be able to reheat something you have home made.

4. Substitute

Substitute your favourite processed, refined sugar-filled foods with home made alternatives with natural sugars. For example, swap your chocolate bar for home made dark chocolate like this one on our website, swap battered and fried fish and chips for our marinated trout recipe or swap store bought chocolate milk for this chocolate and hazelnut version! There are always better alternatives and often they are even tastier!

5. Figure out your triggers

Most people when trying to get healthy have people, places or situations that trigger them to eat unhealthy. Whether it’s overeating with friends, or eating sugar when you’re alone, try to figure out where/when/whom are your triggers and just for the first few months, try to avoid them as much as possible. After a couple of months, you’ll be so used to eating healthier, it shouldn’t be such an issue.

6. Stop, breath and leave

When you do get the urge to eat something naughty (and you think you’re over your 20% leeway), the best advice I can give you is to stop, think about your goa, take 3 deep breaths with your eyes closed and leave the scene. Do something else. Have a glass of water instead, go for a walk, call a friend. Do something that takes you away from whatever is triggering you.

7. Forgive and forget

This one can be difficult, but I think it is the most important. If you slip up and you eat more crap than you would have liked, then please don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t let yourself sink into feeling guilty or like you have failed in some way. This is a dangerous road, trust me. The best advice I have been given is to use your sense of humour instead. Notice your thoughts and actions and try to laugh at how ridiculous it is instead. How silly are we?! Humans have such an enormous intellectual capacity, yet we can’t even stop ourselves from putting something in our mouth! Whatttt?!!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • ½ cup hazelnut milk (see previous post or substitute almond milk, coconut milk, cows milk or any milk your heart desires)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3 dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 raw eggs (protein/fat source to balance the sugars)

Vegan alternative to egg: chuck in the flesh of a coconut (1 whole young or 1/4 of a mature coconut) or a handful of nuts (preferably soaked overnight)

 

Method

  1. Put all ingredients into blender and…blend! :)

Raw hazelnut milk

Hazelnut milk

Before you embark on this journey, I feel I should impart some of my wisdom that I have picked up along the way. That is, telling someone you made hazelnut milk is apparently akin to a sort of social suicide. I honestly don’t know why. I know it’s a bit strange, but I don’t see where it crosses the border of being socially unacceptable. How does blending a handful of nuts in water cross more social standards than drinking liquid that has been squeezed out of a farm animals nipple? More than just a new trend, different nut milks have apparently been around since the Middle Ages!

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People are funny. It got me thinking, how much of our behaviour is dictated by what we think of as social norms and how much of it is purely free will? Go out past midnight in any city and people are doing crazy stuff because parts of their brain are being inhibited by alcohol. Is this weird stuff just in there all the time being suppressed?

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My grandparents are getting to that stage in their lives where dementia is starting to take an effect on their psyche. I notice little things that they do that are out what’s “normal” for them. They have emotional outbursts frequently and when they do, they scream and yell and to put it bluntly, act like children. Dementia is a process whereby the frontal lobe of the brain starts to degenerate. Your frontal lobe is where your inhibitions lie. It is your moral code, your societal norm and your logical sense. Is this where society has a hold on our behaviour? Maybe, but I tell you don’t knock this till you try it!

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If you are wondering about the ecological footprint of nut milks, this article explains it nicely. Basically it is saying that the dairy industry has a much more detrimental impact on the environment than plant based alternatives. The good news is hazelnuts use less water to grow and produce than almonds, so this alternative is more environmentally sustainable for that reason.

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Hazelnut Milk

Makes 2 cups!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 dates (optional)

(Essentially you want a 1:4 ratio of nuts:water)

Equipment

  • 1 muslin cloth
  • 1 sterilised jar (a wide opening helps)

Method

  1. Blend nuts, water and optional sweetener (dates) in a powerful blender for about 1-2 minutes or until frothy and no large “bits” left.
  2. Lay muslin cloth over jar, feeding a little into the body of the jar to hold some of the liquid.
  3. While securing the muslin cloth, slowly pour the liquid through the cloth into the jar.
  4. Squeeze excess “milk” out of muslin cloth until you are left with just hazelnut meal.
  5. Store milk and hazelnut meal separately in fridge.

Tomato braised fennel

Tomato braised fennelIt is the last week of winter here in Australia and I could not be more excited. The days creep seductively further into the night, the air becomes thicker with delicious humidity and best of all, the sunshine turns the atmosphere into a playground. Smiles come out of the woodwork. People come out of the woodwork. Sometimes I question the fact that humans are not a hibernating species. I know of many people (me included) that could testify against that fact.

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I have often thought how funny it is that we allow things like seasons and weather to dictate what we do and how we feel. In a philosophical sense, it could be seen as bowing to external circumstances. Not a very yogic way of living, when we are aiming for equanimity and all that jazz. On the other hand, maybe it is exactly what we evolved to do. After all, going out into a blizzard in animal skin and without the latest Helly Hansen jacket probably wouldn’t be the most effective decision. Maybe we evolved to be lethargic in the colder months in order to prevent us from braving weather to the detriment of our family tree. Or maybe it was common sense that prevailed. It makes me ponder, how much of our behaviour is controlled by us and how much of it is overlooked by ancient evolutionary traits that are beyond our conscious thought? When we are making our own choices, practicing freedom of will, how much of that is actually a conscious choice that we make?

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As the days become warmer, so our bodies crave different foods. Meals become lighter, fresher and cooler. This dish includes fennel as a star ingredient, which is technically still a cold month food. It contains loads of vitamin C, which is important in fighting colds especially during these last cold weeks, and folate, important for women of child bearing age especially. Interesting fact about fennel, apparently it was Thomas Jefferson’s favourite vegetable. If that doesn’t convince you to tuck in, I don’t know what will.

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We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Thanks to The Vegie Trail for the produce, it made the dish that much tastier! Make sure you source fresh, herbicide and pesticide free ingredients were possible.

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Tomato braised fennel

Serves two

Ingredients

• 2 bulbs of fennel
• ½ onion, finely sliced
• 1 tablespoon butter or EVOO
• 1 sprig of thyme
• 1 small garlic clove, crushed
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 cup vegetable stock
• a splash of white wine if you have some
• 5 large, ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 1 small teaspoon fennel seeds
• handful of small black olives (Ligurian or Kalamata)

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Clean the fennel bulb, trim the green leaves (don’t discard the leaves – they are good for a garnish) and remove the outer leaves. Cut in quarters lengthways and remove the hard inner core.
  3. Heat the butter in a large ovenproof pan over medium heat.
  4. When hot, add the onion, fennel seeds thyme and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
  5. Add the fennel and cook until golden, turning them regularly and making sure the onion doesn’t burn too much. This will take about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the splash of wine now and cook off til it stops smelling alcoholic.
  7. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, olives, stock, salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes break down. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until the fennel is tender.
  8. Serve with roast fish, pork or chicken.

 

Green breakfast with poached eggs

The Life Holistic kale egg breakfast

It’s been a few weeks since our last post… my bad. For those of you who don’t know, I (Jacqui; I usually write the posts and design some recipes, Nikki styles and takes the photo’s and Georgia does the other half of the recipes) started a medical degree at Sydney University this year, and we had our first major exam last week. To be honest, it was a lesson in balance and forgiveness. I lost it there for a bit. I spent too much time pondering the spirometry patterns for restrictive and obstructive lung disease than looking after myself. We all do it sometimes. As we get busier and take on more and more, the basic stuff sort of gets lost in the pile. This can be forgiven for short periods of time, our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt. However, if we continue down this path, like a mathematician that forgets basic algebra, we start to see cracks in our equations.

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It starts with things like feeling tired more than usual, maybe you notice your mood changing, then it progresses and you notice you are getting sick more often. Not looking after yourself is just another form of stress on the body. Like any stress, it will respond by using all of its resources in trying to outrun the stress. This means you are constantly in a state of deprivation. There is less immune protection, growth stops, libido wanes and if that is not enough, you start to look older. The body stops trying to repair itself and focuses more on survival. After all, a thousand years ago when that stress might have been a lion chasing after you, you don’t need to look good to outrun a lion (…your butt does maybe).

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This actually has a lot to do with this recipe (funnily enough). Greens are an easy way to sneak loads of antioxidants into your diet. Antioxidants are what our body uses to fight oxygen free radicals, which basically age us. When we are stressed, we produce more of these free radicals. Therefore during stressful times, we actually need MORE nutrition than normal. Unfortunately (like it was for me), it is often the other way around. I find the best way to combat cravings is to close my eyes and concentrate on 10 deep breaths. Then I remind myself that I can eat something nutritious the next meal time. I find it cuts the intensity out of the craving and brings back some self control. Another tip: when we are stressed, we use more brain power. Our brain normally uses 20% of our energy needs, so if you are going through an intense time, you will probably need to eat a little more. Listen to that and the cravings won’t be so bad.

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This recipe is a homage to my favourite cafe in Byron Bay, Bayleaf. If you are ever in the area, you have to hit up this locals favourite. This is my take on (in my opinion), the best dish on the menu. We hope you enjoy.

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Green breakfast with poached eggs

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup raw buckwheat
  • 1 small floret broccoli
  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of rocket
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 thai chilli
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley
  • Handful of pepitas, sunflower seeds and pistachios
  • ½ avocado
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 organic, free range eggs

 

Method

  1. First, soak the buckwheat in filtered water for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. When ready to prepare, rinse buckwheat with a strainer, empty into a pot with ½ cup water. Bring to the boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes until just tender. Drain any excess water and leave to stand.
  3. Steam broccoli for 5 minutes (should still be crispy). Leave to cool.
  4. Roughly chop kale, rocket, broccoli, shallots, chilli and parsley. Mix in a bowl.
  5. To the bowl add the pepitas, sunflower seeds, pistachios and buckwheat.
  6. Chop avocado and add.
  7. Top with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix and taste.

To poach the eggs:

  1. Bring a pot of water (deep enough to drop eggs into) to boil. Then turn down heat until bubbles are no longer forming and water is still.
  2. Crack eggs into two separate small bowls or mugs.
  3. One at a time, gently drop eggs into pan.
  4. Cook for approximately 4 minutes for a soft yolk (it depends on the size of the eggs – I wait until the whites are white).
  5. When they are ready, use a spatula to take them out and place them on a plate lined with a kitchen towel to dry.

To serve: place eggs over the green mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and voila!

Mushroom + thyme black rice risotto

Black rice risotto mushroomstory

In someone else’s tiny microcosm of a universe, they are experiencing something that will change their life forever, perhaps the birth of a first child, or the retirement from a lifelong career. On the other side of the world, a mother is having the birds and the bees talk to a very unimpressed tweenager who actually watches Game of Thrones every Monday night without her knowing. And then there is an old man who is seeing his great grandson for the first time.

With over 7 billion people on this planet, an overwhelming possibilty of experience is happening in parallel all the time. And yet we exist as single entities, pretending that we are mutually exclusive. Like bubbles, we slide past each other with only a hint of attraction, before floating away towards some other all consuming experience.

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I have always found it fascinating how on such a small spatial dimension there can be so many individual lives, each so separate from within. It is a scary thought. As the population increases (expected to be 9 billion in 2025), how are we going to live harmoniously on such a small space with such limited resources if we only think of ourselves and those closest to us? If we continue with our current habits of consuming supermarket produce and fast food meals, there is no doubt we will be pressing our own self destruct button.

That’s where the irony starts. To begin a global, necessary change, we must start with the individual. That one, tiny microcosm needs to shift. Then the next bubble, in its fleeting connection, might (hopefully) be shaped as well. And so the chain goes. We must begin with our own consumer habits if we are going to be able to give our (future, for me at least) children and grandchildren the beautiful planet we were born into. Conscious food choices = change the demand = global change from the ground up.

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So we are proposing to you to try something out… When you go and buy your groceries, spare a thought about where it came from. Try to choose options that make less of an environmental impact by buying from local markets or smaller vendors. Ask the stall/shop owner where the produce is from. If it has travelled in an aeroplane to get to you, why not use another vegetable or experiment with another product? To be honest, it may be more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be a lot more. We will do a blog post in the coming weeks that will give you tips on how to shop ethically, but cheaply. In the meantime, have a good think about what you are willing to spend money on and ask yourself if it is just as important. We need to make this change together!

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Of course, all this has little to do with black rice risotto. And even less to do with mushrooms. Nevertheless, mushrooms pack an almighty nutritious punch. They have been shown to enhance immune function, block inflammatory pathways and exhibit antioxidant properties. These three factors work together to reduce your risk of developing the chronic diseases that create the most disability in the developing world, conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia. Eat your mushies!

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Is your mouth watering yet?

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This recipe, created by Georgia, is a twist on the delicious mushroom risotto from Jamie Oliver. I hope it takes you to a happy place like it did me. We love to see your creations, so please share with us on our Facebook page or Instagram by tagging us!

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Mushroom and thyme black rice risotto

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

• small handful dried porcini mushrooms
• 2 tablespoons organic cultured butter
• ½ onion, finely diced
• 1 stick celery, finely diced
• ½ carrot, grated
• 200g black rice (1.5 cups)
• ½ cup white wine
• sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
• mixed mushrooms (three varieties – anything but button mushrooms), cleaned and sliced
• leaves from half a sprig of thyme
• 1 lemon, juiced
• vegan parmesan cheese
• parsley, for garnish

 

Method

  1. Bring stock to a low simmer.
  2. Put porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour stock in til they are covered
  3. Remove porcini mushrooms from the liquid after a few minutes, when they are soft. Chop up finely. Don’t discard the liquid.
  4. In a large pan on a low heat, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and add onion, celery and carrot. Fry until they are translucent, for around 7 minutes, then turn up the heat to medium and add the rice, stirring.
  5. Add the wine, continually stirring.
  6. Add the strained reserved mushroom liquid, the porcini mushrooms and salt and stir.
  7. Add all the stock, pop a lid on, lower the heat to low-medium and cook for 45 minutes, stirring regularly. You may need to add a little water if the rice doesn’t taste coked or it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on it.
  8. Place assorted mushrooms in a griddle plan and grill until soft. Do this in batches. In a separate bowl, toss the cooked mushrooms with the thyme and lemon juice and stir.
  9. Once the rice is done, place the mushrooms, another tablespoon of butter, and the vegan Parmesan into the rice and mix. Season to taste.

 

Vegan parmesan cheese

• ½ cup nutritional yeast
• 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
• 1 teaspoon sea salt

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blend with a stick blender until a smooth powder is formed.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge

 

Baked stuffed sweet potatoes: his + hers

Baked stuffed sweet potato story

I was talking to a friend a couple of nights ago, who was explaining to me how she is perceived to be the “healthy” one in her new workplace. She sounded very surprised because she never thought of herself as especially healthy and in her mind she wasn’t trying to be. She said she “just loves snacking on things like fruit and things, because I like good food, I grew up that way.” Now unfortunately for some of us, we can’t choose how we grow up and who our family is, and in no way should we be placing the blame on someone else for our unhealthy eating habits, but it does raise a very good point. My friend was explaining how she doesn’t have to think about it. She doesn’t even try. She just does it.

It made me think. If someone is healthy, most people will put it down to good self-control. But is it? Maybe it is in the beginning, but after a while a healthy lifestyle has nothing to do with control. It’s about habit. You just do it, there isn’t even a wasted thought about it. It is when you are at this space, that a healthy lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle. It isn’t a choice, or an effort.

 

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I am saying this, because I feel like the process of getting healthy is so effortFUL and tiresome, that must be part of the reason why people give up. They think, how can I keep this up forever? Well I’m here to say, you don’t have to. It’s called neural plasticity. The idea that the more you practice habits, the more that neural pathway is padded out, until that is the path of least resistance and it becomes the easier path. Pretend for a second you are driving to your old country holiday home. You have been going there for years, there is a big freeway almost to the door and you don’t really have to think about where to go. Then you sell that place and decide buy a new one in a completely different location. At first, it takes a lot of effort to navigate your way there. It’s a tiny dirt road which winds around and you get there feeling exhausted just from the journey. But after a while, the road becomes more familiar, people start paving it until it becomes another freeway and you find it easy. It’s like that. Initially, it is always going to be difficult, but it will get easier every time you practice it until it is like second nature.

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Our ingredient of the week is…drum roll please…sweet potato! We received some amazingly sweet sweet potatoes from our friends at the Vegie Trail and had a ball making these! We designed this recipe as a his and hers. You can use it how you like, but we liked the idea of one that is super healthy (the “her”) and one that is for the greedier pallet. For nutritional info about sweet potato, read this article where I have written about it previously.

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Scooping the flesh out is optional, but makes it easier to fit the mixture on top of the potatoes!

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The “her”- our favourite. I would actually have this for breakfast!

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The “him” – slightly more robust in flavour.

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Baked stuffed sweet potatoes

Serves 2 as a side or light meal

Ingredients:

-       1 teaspoon organic, cultured butter

-       1 red onion, chopped roughly

-       1 bulb garlic, chopped finely

-       Sea salt

-       2 sweet potatoes

-       4 olives, pitted and chopped

-       Small handful parsley, chopped

-       4 sundried tomatoes, chopped

-       Feta

-       1 strip organic bacon, chopped

-       1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you could also use sumac here or any other spice!)

-       Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Method:

  1. Prick sweet potatoes and bake in a 200 degree C oven for 1.5 hours or until soft. Take out and allow to cool slightly. Keep griller or oven on 150 degree C.
  2. While waiting for potatoes, in a pan melt butter and cook onion over moderate heat until soft.
  3. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.
  4. Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt into mixture.
  5. In a separate pan, cook bacon. Allow to cool on paper towels.
  6. When potatoes are cooled slightly, cut in half, scoop out a little lining of flesh (see pic).
  7. For “her” potato: mix half of garlic and onion mixture and half of scooped sweet potato flesh with olives, parsley and sundried tomatoes. Top two halves with mixture and crumble desired amount of feta on top. These are ready to serve.
  8. For “him” potato: mix the rest of the garlic and onion mixture and half of scooped sweet potato flesh with the bacon and cayenne pepper. Top two other halves with mixture and sprinkle desired amount of parmesan cheese on top and put under griller (or open oven) at 150 degree C until cheese has melted.
  9. Try not to fight over it.

For a vegetarian alternative: swap the bacon for chickpeas instead!

For a dairy-free alternative: omit the cheese and sprinkle with some nutritional yeast.

Marinated trout with kale, red rice + quinoa

trout kale quinoa red rice story

I did it, I crossed the dark side. I started watching Suits. Partly because Game of Thrones has finished and partly because every girl, boy and his dog (I know I can talk to dogs!) have told me to watch it. I’m addicted. It is to the law profession what Greys Anatomy is to the medical world, completely glamorised and unrealistic, but completely fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I love Game of Thrones, but if I have to see another war, I think I’m out. My cortisol levels watching the last few episodes of that show spiked so much I end up wired for hours afterwards. For me, television gives me an excuse to switch off from stress in my life and relax. So when it starts to do the opposite, I question it. Plus, the dudes are hotter.

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On a slightly different tac, this dish was inspired by my favourite menu item at Miss Chu. If you haven’t already been to one I recommend, they are a quick, relatively cheap and healthy Vietnamese take-out or casual dine in option in Sydney. In fact, I liked this dish so much, I went on a mission to try and replicate it. Lo and behold, my first try was a success! Not to brag or anything, but Dan, my boyfriend, claims it is even better than the original (sorry Miss Chu). I was and still am astonished at how easy and simple this is to make.

Miss Chu does this dish with salmon, but I have substituted in trout for taste. I looked it up and there are some kinds of salmon in Australia you can buy that are sustainable. If you are buying trout, buy wild caught coral trout (in Australia) or ask about the practices of the farm that you buy from (here is a great link to see if the seafood you are buying is sustainable).

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One serving of trout exceeds your daily recommended requirements for omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and certain types of cancer. Omega-3 fatty acid consumption may also help prevent neurological disorders like dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also a great source of protein, which is important in satiation, meaning if you eat the correct amount you won’t overeat. It also contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals, If it is wild-caught, try to limit your consumption to a maximum of twice a week due to mercury content. Farmed fish doesn’t seem to contain as much.

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Marinated trout with kale, red rice + quinoa

Serves four

Ingredients for marinade:

-       4 fillets trout (you could use any fish, I used snapper and loved it!)

-       2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped

-       3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-       2 lemons, juiced (150ml)

-       30ml tamari (or soy sauce)

-       1 Thai chilli, chopped (optional)

-       2 Tablespoon honey (optional)

Ingredients for dish:

-       1 cup quinoa

-       1 cup red rice

-       2.5 cups chicken stock (optional, can use water instead)

-       1 bunch kale (or 2 bunches spinach)

-       Handful fresh coriander, chopped

-       1 lime, quartered

-       Fried onions*

 

Method:

  1. As early as possible in your day, purchase the fish, cut into 10cm cubes and pour over marinade. Cover dish and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Half an hour before wanting to serve, take fish out of refrigerator to warm to room temperature.
  3. In two separate saucepans, bring 2 cups and 1.5 cups of chicken stock to a light boil. Pour quinoa into first and red rice into second saucepan, turn heat down to a low simmer and cover.
  4. Leave quinoa simmering for 10-15 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed, stir, then turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes with lid on.
  5. Leave red rice simmering for approximately 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed, stir, then turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes with lid on.
  6. While rice is cooking, pour all of the fish with the marinade into a saucepan on medium heat. You don’t want to overcook the fish, so as soon as it comes to a simmer, add the kale and cover for approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Check that the fish is JUST cooked through (if it is fresh, it doesn’t have to be!), turn heat off.
  8. Mix quinoa and red rice together.
  9. Spoon quinoa and red rice mixture on the bottom of the bowl, then kale and fish on top. Pour a generous amount of marinade over.
  10. To serve, top with chopped coriander, extra chilli if desired, a lime wedge and fried onions.

*I use the fried onions you get in a jar from most Asian supermarkets – not the best for you, but I only sprinkle a little on top for texture. If you would rather not use these – add some toasted sesame and sunflower seeds instead!

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Grain-free chocolate + beetroot cake

paleo chocolate beetroot cake

I know what you’re thinking. Beetroot. Chocolate. Beetroot and chocolate. Chocolate with beetroot…really?

Like the combination of Birkenstock sandals with socks, you are skeptical and I don’t blame you. They are an unlikely pair. To steal the words from some wise, anonymous person an indeterminate number of years ago, “Don’t knock it ’till you try it.”

I remember the first taste of this cake like it was yesterday. I was in our kitchen in Manly, sitting on the cold stone step leading on to the remarkably small balcony out the back, with sharp shavings of afternoon sunlight hitting me between generous leaves. It was summery and I was considering whether I had overdressed for the occasion. I was feeling skeptical and also like I needed to clean the balcony of debris within the next few days. It was a good moment. Forever on from there, beetroot and chocolate would no longer exist in my mind as lonely individuals. They could be together.

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Beetroots are perhaps most well known for their detoxification benefits. The betalain content has been shown to stimulate an enzyme that aids in the elimination of toxins in the liver. The same phytonutrient has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and is what gives beetroots their amazing colour. They are high in collagen-boosting vitamin C, fibre, and essential minerals like potassium (supports nerve and muscle function) and manganese. Lastly, they also contain folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

Sustainability tip: Did you know you can use the greens attached to beetroots too?! Minimise food waste and use beetroot greens in place of spinach or kale in your recipes!

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Chocolate + beetroot cake

Ingredients:

-       4 medium sized beetroots

-       100g shredded coconut (look for no additives)

-       65g cacao powder

-       90g coconut sugar

-       60g coconut oil

-       4 eggs

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Wash beetroots and wrap whole in foil. Place in oven for approximately 1 hour or until soft to touch.
  3. Allow beetroot to cool before peeling and chopping roughly.
  4. Put roast beetroot and all other ingredients into a food processor or kitchen aid and mix well.
  5. Line a springform baking tray with baking paper and melted butter.
  6. Pour cake batter in.
  7. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until skewer comes out clean.
  8. Serve with yoghurt and toasted coconut flakes if desired.

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