Chicken cacciatore with spelt pasta

Chicken cacciatore with spelt pasta

This is our new family favourite, midweek pasta meal.  If you don't want pasta it is just as good over zucchini noodles.  For a warm lunch the next day I like to put in a tin of drained cannellini beans to the sauce mixture to increase the fibre content and make enough for left overs.  Depending on how much energy I have at dinner time I either serve with a big salad or stir a large handful of spinach leaves through the sauce at the end.  I get four types of veggies into this dish, plus chicken thigh fillets which are a good source of iron.

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Gado-gado with Chicken sates

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I adore chicken sates and gado-gado, both firm favourites from learning Indonesian at school and many many visits to our northern neighbour.  I love gado-gado as a fantastic way of having a filling salad at dinner with plenty left over for lunch the next day.  Here's my recipe, adjust it to suit your favourite veggies.


Ingredients

  • 600 gm, chicken, cubed
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tab lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sml knob of ginger peeled
  • 1-2 fresh red chillis (seeded if you don’t want it too hot)
  • 1/3 cup tamari
  • 1 tab brown sugar
  • 270ml coconut milk
  • ½ cup 100% crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 4 soft boiled eggs
  • 6 new potatoes, boiled until soft, about 10 mins
  • 2 carrots
  • big handful of green beans
  • 2 lebanese cucumbers, cut into long batons
  • bean shoots

Method

  1. In a food processor blitz the onion, garlic, ginger, chili. Mix in the tamari, lemon juice and sugar. Add to a ziplock bag with the chicken pieces. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge. Soak 12 bamboo skewers.
  2. Prepare your gado-gado salad by assembling the veggies that you like, I’ve included a suggested list in the ingredients, but use the gado-gado to clean up your fridge. You can also include quickly fried firm tofu pieces.
  3. Remove the chicken pieces from marinade (reserve the marinade) and thread onto the skewers.
  4. Pour the reserved marinade into a saucepan, add the coconut milk and peanut butter. Bring to the boil and heat through until thickened. Taste and adjust for lemon juice, tamari and chili.
  5. Barbecue the chicken for 6 minutes or so until they are browned and cooked through. Serve sates with the gado-gado salad.

Wholemeal Spelt Pizzas

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I love homemade pizza on a hot summer night.  I use a wholemeal spelt flour in my pizza base to improve the fibre content, and because I find the wholemeal spelt gives better results than wholemeal flour.  If you have a sensitive tummy spelt can sometimes be better tolerated than a traditional wheat flour as it has less gluten (but it is NOT gluten free).  If you're pushed for time you can use wholemeal pita breads - however a Thermomix or stand mixer means the making the dough is very painless as long as you have time to let it rise.


ingredients

  • 200 grams wholemeal spelt flour
  • 200 grams bakers flour
  • 125 grams semolina
  • 5 grams salt
  • 1 sachet dry yeast (7 grams)
  • 300 ml mineral water
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • passata
  • a mix of grilled veggies, I like eggplant and capsicum
  • fresh bocconcini, drained
  • prosciutto
  • A big rocket and spinach salad, with sliced pear and parmesan shavings, dressed with lemon and EVOO to serve

Thermomix recipe

  1. If the mineral water is fridge cold, cook for 50 seconds at 90 degrees on speed 1
  2. Place the water, yeast, oil and salt in TM bowl. Mix for 5 seconds on speed 3.
  3. Add flours, mix for 6 seconds on speed 8.  Set dial to closed lid position. Knead the dough for 2 minutes on Interval speed.

Stand mixer recipe

  1. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour, semolina and salt. Whisk the yeast, mineral water and oil in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer to slow, add the liquid all at once, and bring together to a soft dough. Once combined, turn the speed to high and mix for a further 6 minutes until you have a smooth, silky, springy dough.

METHOD

  1. Cover and allow to prove for 45 minutes in a warm spot.
  2. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  3. Knock back dough and shape into 4 small balls. Allow to rest for another 5 minutes, then roll out thinly. 
  4. Top with passata and pizza toppings bake for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve with a big green salad.

Spanish gazpacho - drink your veggies

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A couple of years ago we had a beautiful holiday in Andalusia, Spain.  We'd sit out in the garden and start our meal with short glass of gazpacho which you could buy in tetra packs from the supermarket.  I've come up with this recipe which gets some veggies into everyone before the meal has started.  I tend to use tomato juice (no added salt or sugar), it would be better to use real tomatoes but I can't get that lovely rich tomato flavour from the disappointing supermarket tomatoes.  The advantage of tomato juice is there is no de-seeding or peeling.  Think of it as a red green smoothie!


Ingredients

  • 2 slices crusty bread

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 small garlic clove, crushed

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1L tomato juice

  • 1 red capsicum, seeded, chopped

  • 1 lebanese cucumber, seeded, chopped, plus extra finely chopped as a garnish

  • 1/2 long red chilli, seeded

  • 3 green onions, chopped

  • 2 tabs olive oil

METHOD

  1. Break bread into large pieces and place in a bowl (or your thermomix bowl). Pour over red wine vinegar and set aside for 10 minutes

  2. Place bread in a blender or food processor. Add garlic, sugar, tomato juice, capsicum, cucumber, chilli and green onions, and blend until combined (1 minute speed 10 in thermomix). With processor running, pour in olive oil in a thin stream

  3. Transfer gazpacho to a large jug, cover and refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, stir well with ice cubes and add extra finely chopped cucumber as a garnish.

 

Chicken fajitas

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The weather is warming up in Sydney so I am making some quick chicken fajitas featuring lime and capsicum (peppers).  This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's "Kitchen".  Capsicums (red peppers) are low in fat, carbs and calories and high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene a precursor to vitamin A, helping to promote vision and support a healthy immune system.  Capsicum is also packed full of vitamin C and their sweet flavour means they are a favourite with kids.


 ingredients

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, sliced into long strips (or you can use precut stirfry chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tab extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 capsicums (red, yellow or orange) cored and cut into strips
  • hot chilli sauce, avocado, baby spinach, coriander leaves, 4 soft wholegrain tortillas (to serve)

METHOD

  1. Combine the chicken with the oregano, cumin and lime juice. Leave to marinade while you slice up the onion and capsicum. Pop the tortillas in a low warm oven
  2. In a frying pan, saute the onion over medium heat with a little olive oil and one crushed garlic clove for five minutes.  Add the capsicum to the frypan and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and put in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 1/2 tab of olive oil and other crushed garlic clove to the pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and its marinade. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Check that the chicken is piping hot and cooked through, then add the onions and capsicum. Stir together, then transfer them to a serving dish.
  4. Take the warmed tortillas out of the oven and put them on the table alongside the chicken mixture, chilli sauce, avocado, baby spinach leaves and chopped coriander for everyone to assemble.
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Quinoa Tabouli

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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.

Ingredients

  • 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!)

METHOD

  1. 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.
  2. Combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt.
  3. 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.
  4. Drain any remaining water.
  5. 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.
  6. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of black pepper. Add half of the dressing to the quinoa.
  7. 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.

Serves 4

Simon's baked beans

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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!

Ingredients

  • 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)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Check seasoning but probably could do with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and put the pot in the oven for a 1 1/2 hrs.
  6. 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.
  7. Dish it up with crusty bread and green salad

You can also cook this in the slow cooker on low for 4 hours.  

Serves 8

Salmon, mussel and fennel stew

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I love a fish stew and this is my simple one.  After watching a documentary last year about the fish farms in Vietnam I only buy Australian fish that has been sustainably farmed.  You can buy cleaned bearded mussels in the supermarket.  Mussels are a good source of omega -3 fatty acids.  These fats have many beneficial effects, including improving brain function and reducing inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. Mussels are also a great source of vitamins such as zinc which helps build immunity.  Plus they are fun to eat, the kids love them! http://gty.im/175816512

Salmon, mussel and fennel stew
Author: rachel
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 red onion
  • ½– fresh red chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 700 g passata
  • 1 small bunch of fresh basil
  • 400 g mixture of fish fillets, scaled and pin-boned. I used salmon but snapper or whiting would be good. Cut into large chunks
  • 1kg mussels scrubbed, clean and debearded
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep frypan (with lid) heat a splash of olive oil. Finely slice the fennel, onion, chill and garlic and add to the pan. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
  2. Add the white wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes then add the passata and most of the basil (chopped). Simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Add the fish and simmer for a couple of minutes
  4. Add the mussels. Put the lid on the frypan and allow the mussels to open. When the mussels have opened (throw away any that remain closed), the fish will be cooked through (roughly four minutes).
  5. Serve with crusty bread and a big green salad.

 

Oven baked sausages with ratatouille

This is a fabulous recipe for a night where you are tired - the oven can do all the work.  Our oven has a reliable oven timer so I often pop this on to cook while I am driving around to pick the kids up from rugby practice etc.  It won't spoil if you leave it in the oven for 10 more minutes.  You can vary the veggies depending on what the team will eat and also add a tin of cannellini beans to make a cheats' cassoulet.

LF, GF

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 whole head garlic
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 2 red capsicums
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins canned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme and rosemary leaves
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 6 good quality pork sausages
  • 1 x 400g tin cannellini beans (optional)
  • 12 kalamata olives, unpitted
  • fresh rosemary and thyme for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Cut the onion into quarters, and the head of garlic in half crosswise.
  3. Cut the eggplant into half and then rounds, the zucchinis into diagonal slices and the capsicums into thick slices, discarding core and seeds.
  4. Arrange in a large oiled baking tray, burying the garlic halves cut-side down. Add the canned tomatoes and their juices, and a dash of water.
  5. Tuck in the pricked sausages, drizzle with olive oil and scatter with thyme and rosemary, sea salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, then add the zucchini and turn the sausages. Cook for another 15 minutes, until the veggies are cooked and sausages are browned.
  7. To serve, scatter with olives, rosemary and thyme. Squeeze the roasted garlic on top, and drizzle with the pan juices.

Serves 4

Calories: 290 Fat:16g Saturated fat:4 Carbohydrates:28g Fiber:9g Protein:12g

 

Roasted tomato and white bean soup

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Today I've got two sick children so I'm making soup for dinner.  Soup, particularly vegetable based soups are a great option nutritionally as they combine lots of key nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories.  Tonight's soup is full of tomatoes, my son is happy to eat this although he will "never, ever eat a tomato". Tomatoes are a wonderful source of vitamin B6, C, K, beta-carotene, potassium and manganese. The lycopene in tomatoes has been linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

Ingredients

  • 1kg tomatoes, quartered or halved depending on size. I like a mixture of truss and romas.
  • 1 red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tab maple syrup
  • 400g tin cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 250 - 500 ml water to taste
  • Pesto to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200degrees.
  2. Put tomatoes, garlic and onion in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Season to taste.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft
  4. Squish garlic out of skin, and discard skin. Add all vegetables and juice to saucepan.
  5. Add the canellini beans and process the mixture with a stick blender.
  6. Add water (I tend to use closer to 250 ml as I like a thick soup) and heat through gently.
  7. Serve with a dollop of pesto

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Cauliflower and potato mash

Cauliflower and potato mash

It's not that I hide veggies from my children, it's just that they haven't asked what's in my mash!  By adding in some cauliflower into my mash I can get an extra serve of veggies in with our dinner.   Potatoes have been given such a bad rap, but they are a great source of fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals.  Cauliflower is high in antioxidants and a great source of vitamin C.

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Jamie Oliver's green curry of prawns

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We were lucky enough to see Jamie Oliver present at the Sydney Opera House on the weekend.  One of the delicious dishes he prepared was a beautiful fresh green curry.  Green curry is one of Australia's most popular take away dishes.  Jamie's version which I made last night took about 20 minutes (quicker than take-away!) and included lots of beautiful green vegetables. FullSizeRender

 

Green curry of prawns
Author: rachel
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • for the green curry paste
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3cm fresh ginger
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • optional: 4 fresh or dried lime leaves
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon fish sauce
  • Curry ingredients
  • a large bunch of asparagus
  • a large handful of snow peas
  • ½ a fresh red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 16 prawns
  • ½ x 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 1 lime
Instructions
  1. Green curry paste - Trim the lemongrass stalks, peel back and discard the outer leaves, and crush the stalks by bashing them a few times with the heel of your hand or a rolling pin. Trim the spring onions. Halve and deseed the green chillies. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and ginger. Set aside a few sprigs of fresh coriander.
  2. Toast all the curry paste ingredients in a frypan until fragrant (3 minutes) then whiz in a food processor until everything is finely chopped – the smell will be amazing!
  3. While whizzing, pour in the soy sauce and fish sauce and blitz again until you have a smooth paste.
  4. To make your curry: - Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and discard them. Chop into thirds. Trim the ends off your snow peas. Finely chop the red chilli and put to one side.
  5. Place a large pan or wok over a high heat. When your pan is really hot, add the groundnut oil, swirl it around, then carefully drop in the prawns. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, then add your green curry paste, and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  6. Add the asparagus and snow peas and stir-fry for a further 30 seconds.
  7. Pour in the coconut milk. Give it all a good stir, bring to the boil and cook for a few minutes. Have a taste and add a bit more soy sauce or fish sauce if you think it needs it.
  8. Add the lime juice and serve with the coriander leaves.

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Lamb with lentils, feta and mint

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Given the choice I am sure everyone in my family would be able to eat at least 4 or 5 lamb cutlets at a go.  However they are expensive and we just don't need to be eating such large amounts of protein at the expense of vegetables and pulses.  Lentils are a great way to balance out the proportion of meat to non-meat on your plate.  This is a delicious quick dinner and if you are having vegetarian guests you can increase the lentil salad size.  While you are prepping dinner you can add another tin of lentils and increase the quantities of tomatoes, cucumbers and feta and prepare a quick lentil salad for lunch the next day. IMG_4519

 

Lamb with lentils, feta and mint
Author: rachel
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 250g punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tab olive oil
  • 12 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 12 lamb cutlets, frenched
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 400g can lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 1 lebanese cucumber diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 50g sheeps' milk feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves
  • 200g baby spinach
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Toss tomatoes in 2 teaspoons oil, season and place on a baking tray. Roast for 15 minutes until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, rub lamb with rosemary and 2 teaspoons oil. Season, then cook in a frypan over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until browned. Turn and cook for a further 3 minutes for medium-rare, or until done to your liking.
  4. Rest the lamb, covered loosely in foil, while you warm lentils in a small pan of simmering water for 5 minutes. Drain lentils and toss with diced cucumber, lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil. Season.
  5. To serve, place baby spinach on platter, scatter lentils on top, top with slices of lamb and scatter with feta, tomatoes, olives and fresh mint.
Calories: 405 (1704 kJ) Fat: 25 Saturated fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 13.7 Sodium: 382 Fiber: 6.3 Protein: 29

 

Rosemary chicken with pesto pasta

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 which is a much better balance for dinner.  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.  I often add in some zucchini noodles along with the pasta. Green beans and spinach are a wonderful source of dietary fibre which help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and helps prevent bowel cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  Best of all fibre helps you feel fuller for longer, helping you manage your weight more easily.   Chicken breast, almonds and parmesan are all good sources of protein which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

taken from Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals

taken from Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals

Rosemary chicken with pesto pasta

Adapted from Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals, Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 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

METHOD

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain.  She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers in person or online consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks. 


Chicken, barley and lentil soup

This soup needs to be cooked when you have a bit of time on your hands as it takes about an hour to put together but you can just taste how nourishing it is.  I cooked it on a hot summer day in Sydney that had started off with a cool, overcast morning, can't wait to enjoy it on a cold winter's day.  This soup was based on a recipe by Jane Strode.
 lentil
Chicken, barley and lentil soup
Author: rachel
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 1 cup French green (puy) lentils
  • 6 dried bay leaves
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, sliced
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
Instructions
  1. Sear the chicken until browned all over for about 5 minutes.  Remove chicken and set aside.  Place oil, onions and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Season with pepper and cook until soft and starting to colour, about 20mins.
  2. Add barley and stock, bring to a simmer and cook a further 10mins. Add lentils, bay leaves and thyme; cook a further 20mins or until lentils and barley are tender. Add chicken and season with salt. Cook a further 5mins or until chicken is just cooked through.
  3. To serve, warm soup over medium heat, add spinach and cook until just wilted. Garnish with a dollop of pesto (see note).
  4. TIP:
  5. Place leftover soup in small zip-lock bags and freeze – the single serves are convenient for work lunches or a quick dinner. Add extra spinach and pesto just before serving. Will keep for up to 6 weeks.
Notes
To make pesto, place 1 cup basil leaves,  ½ cup pine nuts, ¼ cup grated parmesan and 2 cloves garlic in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Gradually add 1/4 cup (70ml) extra virgin olive oil, processing to combine. Place in a clean container, cover with a little extra oil and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 4 weeks.[br]Prep: 20mins. Cooking: 1hr 5mins. Makes 2L.
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Lemon - raspberry lunchbox muffins

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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.

healthy Lemon raspberry lunchbox muffins

Ingredients

  • 300g plain wholemeal or spelt flour

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 90g raw 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

method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C/160 C fan-forced/gas mark 3.

  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and sugar in a large bowl.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, honey, egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and honey until combined. Don't worry if it curdles!

  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – don’t overmix.

  5. Gently stir through the raspberries

  6. Spoon the mixture into 12 1/2 cup capacity muffin tins lined with paper or silicon cases.

  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked. A skewer should come out clean.

    Variations - replace the lemon with orange and add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Have you been thinking for a while that you would love to find out more about your gut health or why your weight won’t shift no matter what you do? Or maybe you just want to feel less bloated, have more energy and understand what food you are meant to be eating?

I’m offering a free 15 minute call to work out a nutrition action plan to get you feeling your best. There are no commitments just a friendly chat so we can work out if I’m the right person to help you reach your health goals.

Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain.  She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers private on line or in person consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks. 


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Sicilian caponata

A few years ago we had a lovely holiday in Sicily – I remember seeing miles and miles of eggplant farms and eating many versions of this dish.  I have tried many caponata recipes and this is my favourite .  This eggplant dish is lovely served warm or cool, it keeps well in the fridge so you have your vegies sorted for a couple of meals.  Caponata makes a beautiful side to some grilled lamb, tuna or swordfish.

 

18250_l
Sicilian caponata
Author: rachel
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • coarse salt
  • 1 tab olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, trimmed, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium (150g) onion, sliced thinly
  • 400g tin peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 2 red capsicums, diced
  • 1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, optional
  • a handful of black or green olives
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the eggplant into small cubes, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes. Pat dry.   *Heat oil in a large pan, add onion, capsicum and celery,  Cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes.   Add eggplant and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring.
  2. Add tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and crushed garlic.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add olives and capers, stir well.  Simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle pinenuts over to serve.
  3. *  To salt or not to salt? In Europe eggplant is salted before cooking to remove the bitter juices, but the improved varieties grown in Australia have lost this bitterness – unless they have been on a greengrocer’s shelf too long. Some say salting also helps to reduce the amount of oil absorbed during cooking.

 

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Cider-roast pork cutlets with apple and fennel

Cider-roast pork cutlets with apple and fennel

We love pork and this recipe keeps the cutlets tender.  Pork cutlets are a lot cheaper than lamb and are a great source of protein and full of B group vitamins, iron and zinc.  A quick, nutritious midweek meal.

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Taco tuesday

Taco tuesday

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.

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