Recently I was asked to review the afternoon tea menu of a group of Out of School Hours Care Centres. I thought this was a fabulous initiative by the centre because such centres are valuable in promoting healthy eating to children and their families. For busy working parents it would be a godsend to know that when you pick up your kid they have had something decent to eat. But maybe your kids don’t go to after care -what should you be including in afternoon tea at home?Read More
We love soup for Meatless Monday or after Saturday morning sport. However often a plain vegetable soup can be low in protein and leave you hungry later on, so I’ve added chickpeas which are a terrific source of plant based protein and fibre. Adding pear brings a beautiful sweetness to this dish. This soup is very simple to put together with the oven doing the bulk of the work.Read More
Are you a snacker? Do you like something sweet with your morning coffee? I am, especially as I am up early with the kids and do my exercise then, so by morning tea breakfast is a distant memory. A nut bar can be a handy shelf stable option that will survive be kept in your handbag or office drawer. Here are my favourite supermarket finds.Read More
I'm always on the look out for shelf stable products that are healthy and delicious that I can serve up for a quick lunch or dinner. Since my daughter became vegetarian I've explored some new areas of the supermarket and came across this product in the fridge section which she and I both think is delicious!Read More
Does this sound like you? Can I guess why? Like a lot of the women I see, you've had a coffee and maybe a slice of toast for breakfast. You've chosen a tuna salad for lunch - because you are trying to be "good". By 3 pm you are all about the easy carbs - picking at the kids’ leftovers and in and out of the kitchen after dinner. That's because you've barely eaten enough to make it from your bed to the sofa let alone provide yourself with enough energy to do all the things you need to do in your day! Crowd out the junk food by getting your lunch right.Read More
A tin of tuna is a popular lunch choice as it is a good source of protein, cheap and shelf stable. A lot of people eat tuna for lunch assuming they are getting a serve of omega 3s – essential fatty acids. However tinned tuna is very low in omega3s - tinned salmon or sardines provide much more.Read More
This is my new favourite dinner that I could eat every day for a month and not tire of. You will desperately hope there will be enough for leftovers for lunch! This recipe is full of veggies, black beans and quinoa so it delivers plenty of fibre and plant based protein which is a winner for preventing lifestyle diseases such as some cancers, cardiovascular disease and stroke plus it tastes amazing and will keep you full for ages.
This recipe was inspired by marin mama cooks but I've increased the veggies and beans a bit and "Australianised" the ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red chilli, half the seeds removed and sliced
1 cup well-rinsed and scrubbed quinoa
1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 rinsed and drained cans of black beans
1 can tinned diced tomatoes
1 medium zucchini diced
2 red capsicums, diced
1 tablespoon Mexican spice powder (I used Herbies but masterfoods do one too or use 1/2 tsp chilli, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander)
pinch of salt
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
juice of one lime
chopped fresh coriander leaves, greek yoghurt and shredded sharp cheese to serve
Heat the olive oil in a large frypan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and fresh chilli and cook for one minute stirring well.
Add in the chicken stock, quinoa, black beans, tinned tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum, salt, and spices.
Stir well, then bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and leave to simmer for 20 -25 minutes until cooked.
Before serving stir through the lime juice and chopped coriander. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and a dollop of greek yoghurt.
Did you know that quinoa is a complete protein which means it contains all the essential amino acids? It's also a rich source of B vitamins, a good source of carbohydrates and easy to digest. For these reasons it is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied space flights! If you've had a quinoa fail before it might be because you haven't washed off the bitter tasting saponins on the outside of the quinoa. Lightly rubbing the quinoa under running water gets rid of the saponins and improves the flavour.
With the lovely warm weather we've been enjoying a tabouli salad most nights. I cook a cup of quinoa and use about 2/3 in the salad and then use the leftover quinoa for quick salads for lunch.
I like to serve the salad for dinner with some seared lamb loin fillets marinated in a little lemon and olive oil, perhaps a touch of sumac or smoked paprika. For a portable lunch the next day the salad is delicious with some feta or almonds.
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 1.75 cups of water
- pinch of salt
- generous handful of parsley, leaves picked, roughly chopped
- generous handful of mint, leaves picked, roughly chopped
- two big handfuls of baby spinach
- 4 spring onions, white part only, chopped
- 2 lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways and chopped
- 250g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- Seeds from half a pomegranate (optional)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional, if you don't have it omit, do not substitute!)
- Soak the quinoa for 15 minutes in plenty of water. Drain in a fine wire colander and gently rub the seeds to remove any saponins.
- Combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes, partly covered. The quinoa is cooked when the grain starts to spiral.
- Drain any remaining water.
- Leave in the saucepan with a clean tea towel or paper towel between the saucepan and the lid for 5 minutes or so. You'll need about 2/3 of the cooked quinoa for the tabouli, the rest will keep in the fridge for 48 hours.
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of black pepper. Add half of the dressing to the quinoa.
- Put spinach, herbs, spring onion, tomatoes and cucumber in a salad bowl. Add the quinoa. Toss and add remaining dressing. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds to serve.
Having a rustle around in the freezer I found the ham bone I had saved from Christmas. I asked my husband to make his amazing baked beans and he also wrote down the recipe as we can never quite remember how he makes them. These make a delicious breakfast, lunch or easy dinner. You can cook an egg in the bean mixture as well. If you don't have a frozen ham bone left over from Christmas then you can get a ham hock from the butcher or make a vegetarian version. A diet rich in legumes such as cannellini beans is associated with lowered blood sugar and reduced harmful LDL cholesterol. They’ve been linked to reduced risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon and other cancers, as well as improved weight control. Plus my kids love eating them!
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 red onions roughly chopped.
- Splash of olive oil
- Ham bone (frozen from after Christmas) or ham hock.
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 x 400gm tin of crushed tomatoes
- 3 tbsp of maple syrup
- 2 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp of smokey paprika
- 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes (this gives it just a hint of heat but up to you)
- 1 tsp of dry mustard powder
- 4 x 400gm tins of Cannellini Beans (drained and rinse beans from 3 of the tins, but use liquid and beans from 4th)
- Preheat oven to 160 deg C.
- Fry up garlic, onions and oil over a medium to high heat (choose a big pot that is also able to go in oven). Whack in the ham bone. Pour in 2 tins of tomatoes and the bay leaves. Then add the maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and spices.
- Drain the beans in a sieve and rinse off the briney liquid from 3 of the tins, but chuck liquid and beans from the 4th. Give it all a stir.
- Check seasoning but probably could do with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
- Cover and put the pot in the oven for a 1 1/2 hrs.
- I like to cook it the beans long enough so that the meat has fallen off the ham bone but not so long the dish becomes too dry. I switch off oven and just leave the pot in until I'm ready to serve.
- Dish it up with crusty bread and green salad
You can also cook this in the slow cooker on low for 4 hours.
These make a delicious brunch and are perfect for lunch boxes. My children enjoy them after an early morning swim squad or netball session and I love knowing I've got them in the fridge or freezer for an easy lunch.
- 6 eggs
- 6 slices of prosciutto
- baby spinach
- chopped herbs - parsley, basil and oregano (or herbs of choice)
- sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
- muffin liners - optional but does help with cleaning up
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- If using, line 6 muffin pans.
- Cut each slice of Prosciutto in half and wrap into each cup to hold the egg mixture.
- Put a few baby spinach leaves on top of the prosciutto
- Crack in an egg to each muffin cup. Add a heaped teaspoon of ricotta.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and chopped herbs.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until done.
My basil plant is looking very healthy at the moment and as soon as I brush past and smell it I immediately think of pesto. A huge bowl of pasta topped with an oily pesto isn't a great dinner, but in his "15 minute meals" Jamie Oliver has a wonderful pesto pasta served with chicken and a wide variety of veggies. I have changed this recipe around a bit as I find in the 15 and 30 minute meals Jamie jumps all over the place and I need to cook in a more orderly fashion! This is a meal that my children adore and I like to serve it the night before a cross country carnival or rugby comp. If I am feeling particularly energetic I add some zucchini noodles in the place of some of the pasta. Green beans and spinach are a wonderful source of dietary fibre which helps lower LDL cholesterol. Chicken breast, almonds and parmesan are all good sources of protein which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
- 2x 200g skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4- 5 cloves of garlic
- punnet ripe cherry tomatoes
- Pasta & Pesto
- 250g green beans
- 1 big bunch of fresh basil
- 50g blanched almonds
- 50g parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 clove of garlic
- 250g dried pasta, pappardelle is nice
- 200g baby spinach
- Put the basil leaves, almonds, parmesan, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice into a food processor and blitz until smooth. You might need a spoonful of pasta cooking water (see step 5) to loosen.
- Cut the chicken breast horizontally in half so that it is butterflied out. Season your chicken with salt, pepper, fennel seeds and rosemary leaves over greaseproof paper and then bash to flatten with a rolling pin. Put it in to the frying pan with your olive oil and the bashed, unpeeled garlic cloves. You will need to turn it after about 4 minutes and cook until golden.
- Cook your pasta in a large saucepan according to packet directions. Trim your beans, and add them to the pasta for the last 5 minutes.
- Halve your cherry tomatoes, add them to the chicken and shake the pan. Stir the spinach into your pasta pan and drain but reserve a little of the water.
- Return everything to the pan, pour in your pesto and splash in the water until smooth and silky. Slice your chicken breasts in half and serve with the tomatoes on top.
I love to make a bunch of these on a Sunday afternoon and freeze in snap lock bags to pop in the kids' lunches. Did you know you can usually modify your standard muffin or cake recipe by reducing the amount of sugar or butter by about half? The only change you will notice is that the muffin goes stale quicker, which is why I freeze them. I've been enjoying using wholemeal spelt flour (available from the supermarket), it has a higher amino acid profile then regular wheat flours, it’s also high in fibre with a low GI for sustained energy.
- 300g plain wholemeal or spelt flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 90g raw sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 egg
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 220ml buttermilk (if you don't have butter milk use 1/2 cup plain yoghurt and fill up with milk to 220ml)
- 80ml olive or macadamia oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 160g frozen (not thawed) raspberries
- Preheat oven to 180 C/160 C fan-forced/gas mark 3.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and sugar in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, honey, egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and honey until combined. Don't worry if it curdles!
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – don’t overmix.
- Gently stir through the raspberries
- Spoon the mixture into 12 1/2 cup capacity muffin tins lined with paper or silicon cases.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked. A skewer should come out clean.
- - replace the lemon with orange and add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Is it Taco Tuesday at your house? Here's the our favourite chilli recipe. I’ve boosted the fibre content with a mix of black beans and kidney beans. I've also added plenty of tomatoes and red capsicum in there (you can also add carrot or zucchini) for immune boosting vitamin C and to help with iron absorption. You can serve this in tacos, in burritos, over rice or cauliflower rice, and I love it over a baked sweet potato.Read More
This soup is based on a Bridgette Hafner recipe which I have added more veggies to. I usually double the recipe as it freezes well and is great for tired children. If you are vegetarian you could omit the pancetta. Cannellini beans are a great source of protein and fibre. If you are a fan of having a "meat free Monday" this is a great recipe to make. The original recipe used dried beans which were soaked overnight and added earlier in the recipe - I have tried it both ways and we like the tinned beans more.
- 2 leeks, washed and sliced
- 100g flat pancetta, thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 zucchini, diced
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small potato, peeled and chopped into small dice
- Sprinkle of dried oregano
- 2 tins of cannellini beans
- Splash of white wine
- 2 tins Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 3 cups water or chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- 1 sprig rosemary
- Small handful of risoni (dried pasta shaped like rice) or small pasta shapes or broken fettuccine
- Two or three generous handfuls of baby spinach or kale
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- extra virgin olive oil, to serve
- In a heavy-based pot, gently cook the leeks, carrot, zucchini, celery, pancetta and garlic in the olive oil until softened and lightly golden. Add the potato and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the oregano, white wine, tomatoes and water or stock, season with salt and pepper and add rosemary.
- Bring to the boil, skim the surface and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the drained and rinsed breans, risoni and, if the soup has become a little thick, more water. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the baby spinach or kale.
- Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.
Calories:286 Fat:7g Carbs:41g Fibre:8g Protein:13g
This is a great easy meal that the children love. The burger recipe comes from Nigella, although I've altered the quantities a little. I was a bit dubious about whether or not the burgers would stick together, but they work just fine. To lower the calories for me, I use a Michelle Bridges trick, which is to serve the burger on 1/2 a roll and hollow out the middle and fill it up with salad. The kids, and my husband get a full bun, plus salad.
for 5 burgers, which is dinner for 4 and then a quick lunch for the next day
- 500g extra lean minced beef
- 2 tablespoon caramelised onions (I use Beerenberg)
- 3 teaspoons buttermilk or natural yoghurt
- 3 teaspoons salt reduced soy-sauce or tamari
- 3 teaspoons BBQ or Worcestershire sauce
- olive oil spray
- small wholemeal burger buns (in Australia, cape seed rolls from Baker's delight are delicious)
- baby spinach
- tomato sliced
- Mix the minced beef with onions, buttermilk, soy and BBQ sauce. Season with pepper and divide into 5 portions. Shape by hand into burgers. I like to put them in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.
- Lightly spray a non-stick frypan and heat on medium. Cook the patties for 5 minutes a side until browned and cooked through.
- Toast the bun halves, line each bun with baby spinach leaves. Top with a patty and tomato.
- Did you notice there are no fries on the side? You can have extra salad though!
- I like to cook an extra patty for lunch the next day, to serve on a mountain bread wrap with relish, salad and tomato.
1 burger and bun
319 (1342 kJ) Fat:7g Saturated fat:2.4g Carbohydrates:30g Sugar:3.7g Sodium:677 Fiber:4g Protein:31g