Posts tagged nutrition

This dinner WINS nutrition (and the kids love it)

Walnuts are generally considered to be a pretty fantastic nutritional addition to the modern diet (unless, you know, you’re like anaphylactically allergic to them, in which case they’re a deady-bones type addition and worth avoiding). They’re full of awesome quantities of most stuff that’s good for you including omega 3 fatty acids and a range of minerals.

General consensus seems to be that introducing nuts to non-allergic kids is safe from 12 months. Serving kid-friendly pasta like this recipe is a good way to reap the health benefits without choking your little loves on whole kernels.

Also, this dish is like ‘Where’s Wally?’, except in a ‘Where’s zucchini?’ kind of way. If you have one of those fancy contraptions that will turn vegies into pasta twists then feel free to swap out all the pasta in this recipe. However my kids do love the tooth feel of a bit of traditional pasta and I find the zucchini just melts through effortlessly.

As is, this recipe is a total win-win-win at my place, but as always, I won’t take offence if you change it up to suit your household.

Herbs and capers 'adult' this dish up to schmancy levels.

Herbs and capers ‘adult’ this dish up to schmancy levels.

Broccoli & zucchini pasta with walnut sauce

This is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe.

1 1/4 cups whole walnuts (toast them in a dry frying pan if you have a few minutes, but don’t fret if you can’t be bothered)
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how stinky you like to be)
1 slice bread (no crusts) – soaked in 1 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
250g dry linguine or spaghetti
1 head broccoli – cut into dainty florets
2 zucchinis – use a peeler or mandolin to slice them thinly lengthwise then use a knife to cut them into long strips that are a similar size to your pasta.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Add the walnuts, garlic, soggy bread, milk and oil into a food processor (my little mini one just manages to fit everything). Season well and blitz to form a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. BUT – add in the broccoli 4 minutes before the end of cooking and then add the zucchini 2 minutes before the end of cooking.

Drain the pasta & veggies. Return to the cooking pot and tip over the walnut sauce. Mix through well. Season super well (this dish really does need tonnes of salt & pepper).

Mix through the parmesan. Serve the kids as is – adults might like to add some torn basil, parsley, anchovies or capers.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids (this portion size is dainty as the dish is rich – serve with a side salad).
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Then it’s the serious business of DINNER, since that happens tediously often…

I've converted a bunch of recipes so that there's oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions...

I’ve converted a bunch of recipes so that there’s oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions…

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Next chapter is full of ways to feed friends and family….

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And I finish off with celebrations with recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.

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Healthy desserts! Genius!

And you pop fruit on the top which makes them DOUBLY healthy.

And you pop fruit and yoghurt on the top which makes them DOUBLY healthy.

There’s a trend doing the rounds for nutritious and healthy desserts. Have you caught it? Hard not too – Instagram thrives on luscious pictures of gluten-free and refined-sugar-free treats. The key to them is omitting the current health-scare foods and ignoring the fact that what’s left is nearly-as-bad for us. Then, of course, there’s all those nutrients in nuts etc, so using them is entirely justified. And of course, the cacao powder is ORGANIC, which is a double tick and the virgin coconut oil is ‘healthy fats’, so that’s fine too.

Isn’t life great!

Of course some might argue that rather than waste our more-precious-than-gold spare time whipping up treats, our time might be better spent cooking up a healthy dinner from scratch, but hey, we can’t have it all. And you know, DESSERT.

Am I sounding too cynical? I am, aren’t I?! Actually the wave of new desserts are pretty great. I’m all for exploring ingredients and getting as much variety into your diet as possible, so I’m a big fan. Don’t fool yourself though, this isn’t ‘slimming’ food. This isn’t for every day.

It’s for happy days, when you want to make your family ooooohhhhh and aaaaahhhh and give them a bit of a thrill.

Mondo Organics Chocolate Tart (modified slightly from their gorgeous cookbook)

This recipe is incredibly simple to whip up in a thermomix.

1/2 cup dates (medjool if possible) – soaked in hot water for 20 minutes.
1 cup combined walnuts and almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder is also fine)
2 tbsp maple syrup (use the real stuff)
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted or quite soft.

250g good quality dark chocolate
300g silken tofu
1/4 tsp cinnamon (I use cassia, just because that’s what’s in my cupboard right now)
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey.

Blitz together the drained dates, nuts, seeds, cacao, syrup and oil. Add in a bit of the date water if you need to loosen it a bit.

Line a 22cm tart tin with cling wrap. Wear kitchen gloves and use your hands to press the mixture evenly into the base and sides. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Melt the chocolate either in a bain marie (a metal bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water – don’t let it touch the water) or the microwave. (This is the bit of the recipe where the thermomix comes into it’s own). Leave the chocolate to cool slightly then blitz in the tofu, cinnamon and sweetener. Pour the mixture into the tart base and return to the fridge to set. (needs a good hour, several hours is better).

Serve with berries and a nice tart yoghurt (these healthy desserts tend to be insanely rich, so the yoghurt cuts through nicely).

**This recipe also works in a 20cm flan tin – double the tofu, cinnamon & syrup.

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Liked this?
Try making my Cacao bliss balls, or my Dairy-free coconut muffins, or this coconut, coconut, coconut, coconut and banana cake.

real-healthy-families

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Those elusive, healthy & yummy 10-minute dinners….

Almost there!

Almost there!

It is not lost on me that the reward for completing my kitchen renovation is a return to the everyday drudgery of feeding the family. Don’t get me wrong, I’m entirely grateful for my lovely new surroundings – and they make my daily tasks easier – but I’ve quite enjoyed having 5 weeks off from the kitchen.

Lunchboxes were whatever we could find, dinners were strange, cobbled together affairs, with whatever gadgets were available. And somehow this slackening of standards seeped through to the rest of my domestic life. Suddenly the urge to keep us stocked with groceries disappeared (well, where was I going to put them, anyway?) and even my determination to keep my home vaguely clean dissipated too – as if there was any point dusting the piles of junk that covered every surface.

So while I still might be waiting for the splash back & new lights, everything in the kitchen is back to operational. There’s a lovely new oven and stove to master. Drawers that close themselves (which is lucky, since I keep opening the wrong ones all the time) and enough bench space to have both my slow cooker running AND a spot to pack lunch boxes. And it’s all a relief really, to be returning to normal. While the first couple of weeks of the reno were a glorious guilty pleasure of packaged food and takeaway, the shine tarnished somewhat by the fourth week as my battered taste buds longed for simple, fresh flavours.

So… to my promise to deliver a bunch of 10 minute meal ideas, making the most of supermarket convenience in a healthy way… and how I wish I could deliver. But I can’t really. The challenge of cooking well with a microwave, thermomix, no bench space or wash up space and a fridge down a flight of stairs and out in the garage, defeated me.

There were some winners here and there.

• Pre-mixed, pre-washed salad and BBQed meat is always a winner. But that wouldn’t have worked for my kids until a year or so ago once salad became popular.

• BBQ chicken meat, shredded in wraps (or tinned tuna) with salad was eaten often. A bit of tzatziki helps.

• The frozen salmon portions that can be microwaved were good. Expensive though, but broken up through microwave rice and frozen vegies and you’ve got a good quick dinner. Although you are cooking stuff in plastic, which always feels weird.

None of the soups I tried compared to home made. Regardless of whether they were tinned, in sachets or gourmet, their salt contents were all extreme and left me thirsty.

Of all the takeaway we ate, the clear winner was sushi, but there’s only so much cold fish I want to eat on cold nights. The kids’ first prize would be awarded to McDonalds. We had it twice and they got good toys, both times.

None of us enjoyed Pizza Hut. What’s happened there? It used to be ok, but has dumbed down to be in the running for worst takeaway around. Price wars, I guess. $4.95 for a pizza is hardly going to buy you anything good.

And the thermy? Well, I like Quirky Jo’s creamy rice & chicken soup. It’s a clear one-pot winner. And really the only yummy TM meal that I made (dinner porridge featured too often – I know, I could have cooked my own recipes, but I was wanting to just try new things). Possibly there are a bunch of good one-pot meals on the recipe community that I missed (let me know if you have any favourites).

So as much as I’d love to continue on as a mum-who-doesn’t-cook, seems I’m being forced back to work by my own damn standards. Curse you tastebuds.

What do you think? Did I miss the world’s easiest supermarket compilation meals? What are your 10-minute wonder recipes that keep you going on the more hectic days?

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And while I’ve been slack with blogging here, I did post over at Mother & Baby the other day, explaining the story behind this craft masterpiece.

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You can read all about it here.

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OMG, have I just become a paleo convert?

There is such a kerfuffle in food land this month, isn’t there! And on my Facebook page I’ve been receiving a bit of hate from both sides. Being moderate in my approach, I’m confusing people. So for the sake of transparency, I thought I’d be CLEAR on just what I think about the current Pete Evans/paleo ‘debate’.

I HATE that we are having a ‘debate’ at all, and that sides must be picked in a healthy food war. It’s silly and ridiculous that food has become so ‘either or’. Apparently if I am not eating paleo and drinking raw milk, I am sat on my fat bum eating as much processed food as possible, and washing it all down with Coke. The fervour of this debate exhausts me.

I LOVE that a person with such as large following as Pete Evans is inspiring people to lift their game, cook, eat fresh produce and rethink what goes in their mouths.

I HATE that he doesn’t share a bunch of recipes for free, online. They’re all in cookbooks, or in tv shows that he’s being paid to do. It makes me suspicious of the motives. Or just aware that he’s surrounded by very smart people. And hey, we’ve all got to make a dollar, and possibly I’m just jealous that he makes more out of a speaking engagement than I do all year.

I LOVE that he has such twinkly, lovely blue eyes. He’s quite handsome.

I HATE that certain foods are now ‘poison’. Even lovely foods straight out of the ground, like potatoes. Poor little potatoes.

I LOVE that he’s questioning the role big business plays in food production. Although there is a point where we DO have to feed everyone on this planet. Resources are strained, especially with all these healthy people living longer and needing to be fed for so many years.

I LOVE that the paleo/wholefoods movement is offering alternatives. I’ve read ‘Wheat Belly’ and have to agree that processed flour is overly prevalent and bad for us. There are other ingredients that we can use instead, although not in a sponge cake. Sad.

I HATE that food and fashion are so intertwined. Maybe I’m just jaded, but at 42 I’ve seen a bunch of fads come and go and I consider kale to be similarly aligned to shoulder pads in terms of taste and longevity.

I LOVE that Pete Evans is prepared to put himself on the line and be one extreme end of this debate. He’s shaking things up and I have a sneaking suspicion that the general consensus will end up resting somewhere in the middle between food evangelism and pragmatism.

I HATE that people are so uptight about food. It’s masking a bunch of problems. Heard of Orthorexia? It’s like a socially acceptable anorexia and it really concerns me. It comes complete with food group exclusion and obsession with what you’re putting in your mouth. I hate to see people being anxious rather than grateful over food.

I HATE that there’s no sense of humour around this topic. NONE. And this is possibly what I hate most, because while food definitely is thy medicine, so too is laughter.

So am I turning paleo? No. But there are some fantastic ideas in paleo in terms of ingredients and cooking methods that I’m happy to incorporate into my own long-term healthy approach to food and life.

So don’t hate on me if I decide to post a ‘paleo’ type recipe from time to time and don’t fret. Because next week it might be vegan, then sugar-laden, then vegetarian then raw. And that’s ok. I’m going to be the ultimate mum and not pick a side, but to urge you all to use your words, stop whining and play nice.

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A nutritionist is ordering us to eat more chocolate

The kids can’t believe their luck!

A few weeks back I had a fantastic chat with nutritionist Anna Lynch. I have a bit of a girl crush on her. She’s an awesome combination of approachable, passionate and knowledgeable. Unlike me, who is full of opinions that are backed up by… well, nothing really, Anna has opinions based on, you know, facts and science-y knowledge.

I asked her if she’d mind giving me a list of ‘5 foods that nutritionists want us to eat more’. And not only did she oblige me, but she sent through such a great article explaining why, that I’d be doing her an injustice to cut it down to a blog post length. So I’ve prettied the entire article up into a PDF download instead. It’s really great reading, with recipe links for each section.

The best news is that last on the list is CHOCOLATE! Yay, more proof why I think she’s so great – she matches my philosophy that a little of everything in life is good for you.

Which I wish I’d reminded myself of last night, before my fifth glass of Prosecco.

Download Anna’s article here.

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