Chicken and chorizo hotpot

Chicken and chorizo hotpot

This is one of our favourite meals which cooks itself while I drive my kids to rugby or swimming practice.  I usually make enough for two nights,   the second night I serve this with basmati rice and it tastes a bit paella-ish.  The red capsicums (sweet peppers) are rich in vitamin C,  and high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, helping to promote vision and support a healthy immune system.

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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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Your vegetarian teenager

Your vegetarian teenager

Has your teenager recently announced they are a vegetarian?  Mine has!  The rest of the family eat meat and I'm too busy to be cooking 2 meals every night so here's some ideas for how I cope.  I've also seen quite a few vegetarian clients recently with iron deficiency so I'll outline some common nutrient concerns with a vegetarian teenager and how to avoid them.

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Thai style beef salad


This is how I like to eat in summer - a big salad topped with delicious steak.  I discovered this salad when I was pregnant as I was trying to increase my iron stores and eat lots of leafy greens.  It's now a firm family favourite and perfect for my teenage children who need zinc and iron for growth, energy and immunity.

GF, LF, FF - see below for notes


  • 400 g lean beef (I like sirloin or porterhouse)
  • plenty of black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 large handfuls asian salad mix or baby spinach leaves
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 20 green beans, sugar snap peas or snow peas, blanched
  • 2 red capsicums,sliced
  • 2 Lebanese / Japanese cucumbers sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 small bunch coriander picked
  • 1 small bunch mint picked
  • Cashews to sprinkle over


  • juice from 2-3 limes
  • 1 sliced red chilli (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoon palm sugar (or castor sugar)


  1. Season the steak with the pepper and cook in a hot pan with a little olive oil until medium rare. Remove from the pan, cover loosely and allow to rest for about 5 minutes then slice thinly.
  2. Combine the salad leaves, tomatoes, green beans, capsicum, cucumber, onion and herbs.
  3. Add the sliced beef.
  4. Make the dressing by mixing the lime juice, chilli, fish sauce and sugar.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix through. Top with a small handful of cashews.
  6. Divide between serving bowls and enjoy. Lean chicken breast, grilled fish or grilled firm tofu can be used in place of the beef.

Serves 4

GF - check fish sauce,

FF (FODMAP friendly) - substitute green tops of spring onion for onion, limit portion of snow peas to five pods, substitute peanuts for cashews



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.



  • 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


  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


Lamb with lentils, feta and mint



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.

Lamb with lentils, feta and mint



Prep time:

10 mins

Cook time:

15 mins

Total time:

25 mins




  • 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


  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.


405 (1704 kJ)



Saturated fat:











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


  • 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


  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.



Chicken, barley and lentil soup



Prep time:

15 mins

Cook time:

1 hour

Total time:

1 hour 15 mins




  • 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


  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.


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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Lamb cutlets with chili and black olives


Today I thought I'd share another gorgeous Nigella recipe from her Express Kitchen cookbook.  I marinate these in 2 bags, one with chili for the adults and one without for the kids.


Lamb cutlets with chili and black olives

Author: rachel


  • 12 lamb cutlets

  • 1 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for frying

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Zest and juice of 1 small lemon

  • 1 teaspoon Maldon salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt

  • 15 black olives, pitted and sliced

  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)


  1. Layer the lamb chops between clingfilm and flatten gently with a rolling pin or mallet. Unwrap and place the chops in a large dish, so that they all fit in a single layer.

  2. Pour the 4 tablespoons of oil over the chops and add the sliced garlic, chilli flakes, oregano, lemon zest and juice. Sprinkle with the salt and the olives, then turn the rib chops in the marinade so that both sides are coated.

  3. Cover and leave the lamb to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature.

  4. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, and add the chops, scraping off the marinade before you put them in the pan. (Reserve the marinade.) Fry them for a couple of minutes a side on quite a high heat so that they take on some colour.

  5. Turn the heat down to medium and pour the reserved marinade into the pan over the now coloured chops. Add 2 tablespoons or so of water and cook for about 5 minutes for rare cutlets or a little longer if you like your lamb well done (this will also depend on the thickness of the chops).

  6. Transfer the chops to a serving plate, pour over the juices from the pan and sprinkle with the chopped red chilli, should you feel like enhancing the dried chilli with the pep of fresh.


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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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Lower carb hamburger

photo credit

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

  • pepper

  • olive oil spray

  • small wholemeal burger buns (in Australia, cape seed rolls from Baker's delight are delicious)

  • baby spinach

  • tomato sliced


  1. 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.

  2. Lightly spray a non-stick frypan and heat on medium. Cook the patties for 5 minutes a side until browned and cooked through.

  3. Toast the bun halves, line each bun with baby spinach leaves. Top with a patty and tomato.

  4. Did you notice there are no fries on the side? You can have extra salad though!

  5. I like to cook an extra patty for lunch the next day, to serve on a mountain bread wrap with relish, salad and tomato.

Serving size:

1 burger and bun


319 (1342 kJ) Fat:7g  Saturated fat:2.4g Carbohydrates:30g Sugar:3.7g Sodium:677 Fiber:4g Protein:31g


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