greek egg & lemon soup (with a green twist)

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nourishfoodlife.com.auThe weather has given us a perfect rendition of spring in all its glory in Adelaide just lately. A delicious patch of almost hot days were brought to an end last night with the most spectacular lightening display that had us all out on the balcony ooh-ing and aah-ing as the sky split and shattered and lit up the gum trees surrounding our house like a bevy of strobe lights. It went on and on, sending our already slightly mad cattle dog into a frenzy as he tried his best to scare it all away. Today followed cool, fresh and peaceful.

I am finding myself in love with all foods green at the moment, and I think that it’s a craving for an internal spring clean that’s doing it. Shaking off the cobwebs of winter perhaps. So when an abundance of eggs and lemons had me making Greek Egg & Lemon Soup, known as Avgolemono, I couldn’t help but throw some gorgeous green spring veggies in there too.

The secret to making this dish perfectly delicious is to have everything prepped beforehand, so that no overcooking happens and your greens veggies come out the brightest green, without a hint of brown or the unpleasant sulphurous flavour that accompanies it. I’ve used broccoli and asparagus in this version, but you could use any quick-cooking greens that you have on hand. If you have any edible flowers in the garden they look pretty on top too – I’ve used lemon thyme in the picture.

Greek Egg & Lemon Soup (with a green twist) – serves 4-6

  • 2 litres vegetable stock
  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into thirds
  • ½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Put the stock and the rice into a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer gently until the rice is just tender.

Place the eggs into a medium-sized heatproof bowl and whisk well. Add the lemon juice and whisk to combine.

While still whisking the egg and lemon mixture, gradually add a ladleful at a time of hot stock mixture, until you have added about half of the stock. Take care to do this step gradually, mixing all the while so that it doesn’t curdle.

Add the egg mixture to the remaining stock in the pot and heat gently until the soup thickens slightly.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the broccoli and asparagus and cook for a minute or two until they are the brightest green and just tender.

Serve at once scattered with mint and parsley.

fennel, orange & mint salad

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nourishfoodlife.com.auKids are famous for their refusal to eat their greens, to the endless frustration of their parents. However there’s a good reason for this innate fussiness and it even has a name – food neophobia.

The theory of food neophobia has it’s roots in our ancestral history. If we rewind back to our early beginnings we can see that for the most of the time that we’ve been in existence, humans have lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

In those times, babies and very young children would have been carried by their mothers while they sought out and gathered the foods available to them. When the children reached an age when it was no longer practical to be held, they would have played alongside their mothers as they worked. The age that this would have happened coincides with the peak fussy eating age that we see in kids today – about 2-4 years of age.

The theory goes that children who were more hesitant to eat whatever they came across at this young age were the ones more likely to survive and thrive, given the wide variety of poisonous plants that exist in the natural environment. Those who did eat them and ended up getting sick (but not dying) would have had a strong conditioning experience and most likely been very reluctant to put unfamiliar plants in their mouth for a long while afterwards – as anyone who has gotten sick after eating a particular food will know all too well!

We also know that this fussy stage doesn’t last, with children becoming more accepting of different foods as they move past this stage – provided they don’t get stuck there. So what can adults do to help?

See it as a passing stage. It’s helpful to see fussy eating as just a normal developmental stage, in much the same way we view tantrums. Rather than imagining our toddler as an adult kicking and screaming when they don’t get their way, we know that they’ll grow out of it. So instead of seeing food refusal as an indicator that they don’t like that particular food, see it as a passing stage and continue to offer that food regardless of the screwed up face, or if the reaction from your child is too strong, bring it back in a month or two. Remember that it can take up to sixteen tastes of a new food before it is accepted, so be patient.

Lead by example. When kids see the adults around them taking great pleasure in the foods they eat, they are more likely to do the same. Make a conscious choice to show your children that mealtimes are a time for enjoying the nourishing foods you love, sharing stories about the day and for bonding with one another.

These little, daily mealtime moments create the food memories they will take with them into adulthood.

Take away the pressure. Studies have shown that even small amounts of pressure to eat foods can turn children off those foods. So many adults have foods that they can’t eat because they were forced to eat them as a child. Food can too easily become a power struggle; don’t let it. Let them know that their food choices won’t win either your approval or disapproval.

Mix the old with the new. It’s important not to offer alternatives if they don’t like what’s on offer, so a good idea can be to serve a meal that has an accepted food along with an unfamiliar or disliked food. That way, they won’t leave the table hungry, but they will still get the opportunity to get used to new flavours. A good example is this Fennel, Orange and Mint Salad. Most kids love orange, but aren’t so always keen on salad greens. In this salad the silky sweetness of perfectly segmented oranges draws them in and wins them over, as my kitchen garden kids have proven. There have been no leftovers with this one!

What are your childhood mealtime memories? Have they shaped how you feel about food today?

Fennel, Orange & Mint Salad – Serves 4

  • 3-4 handfuls of mixed salad greens
  • 2 small fennel bulbs
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fennel fronds
  • Small bunch mint
  • Small bunch parsley
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Wash the salad greens and gently spin them in a salad spinner to remove excess water. Place into a large salad bowl.

Segment the oranges using a sharp knife, catching the juices in a small bowl. (You can see how to do it here, although if you’re working with kids, have them rest the orange on a board rather than holding it in their hand). Reserve juice and add the orange to the salad bowl.

Slice the fennel very thinly using the mandolin (always use a hand guard and ask for an adult’s help) or a sharp knife. Place sliced fennel into a colander and rinse under cold water to remove any dirt that may have been caught between the layers. Drain well and add to the salad bowl.

Add the lemon juice and olive oil to the bowl with the reserved orange juice. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Set a few fennel fronds aside, then remove stems of the parsley and mint and chop all the herbs roughly. Add to the salad, pour over dressing and use your hands to gently combine. Serve topped with remaining fennel fronds.

fried rice with broccolini & snow peas

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nourishfoodlife.com.auSpring in the Adelaide Hills so far has brought with it bursts of warm, sunshiny days followed by rain and hail even. A bit tricky for all those organised people who like to pack away their winter wardrobe come October (that’ll teach them for being so organised). But for the veggie gardeners around and about it’s meant that things are growing like crazy, and there’s an abundance of gorgeous green goodness to pick and eat.

Snow peas will be finished when the heat sets in properly, which will probably be any day now, and broccolini is sending out it’s last shoots before it bursts into flower. It’s only natural then, that they would find their way into this dish together, garnished to green perfection with a generous helping of fresh coriander and chives.

 Fried Rice with Broccolini & Snow Peas

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 3-4 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Small bunch broccolini, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Large handful snowpeas, sliced on the diagonal into 2 cm pieces
  • 4 cups cold cooked basmati rice (I’ve used brown basmati, but you can use white if you prefer).
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Small bunch chives, finely chopped
  • Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)

Heat a wok or large, deep frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil, then the spring onions, garlic and ginger. Fry until fragrant and the spring onions begin to soften but not brown, then add the brown sugar. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

Add the broccolini and snow peas and cook, stirring frequently, for another 30 seconds or so, until the broccolini has become a lovely bright green.

Use your hands to add the cold rice to the wok, crumbling it as you go so that it all the rice grains are separated.

Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add the lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil, pouring them down the side of the wok then tossing through.

Mix until well combined, then taste for seasoning, adding more soy sauce if needed. Serve topped with coriander and chives.

crunchy cacao & almond muesli

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Breakfast can be one of those tricky meals to get right, as time is usually short. It can be an easy solution to go to a box of cereal. The trouble I find is that even the better choices out there still tend to be high in sugar, or of low nutritional value, or perhaps if they do tick these boxes, they just don’t taste very good. And generally speaking, if food has been processed, there’s going to be a nutritional loss somewhere.

It’s been school holidays in South Australia, so mornings have been a bit slower, leaving me time to play around with different breakfasts. This one I thought worthy of a share.

The flavours of this muesli (or granola, as it’s also known) are delicious – chocolatey, coconutty –  but the real bonus is the good you’ll be doing your body by eating it. Cacao, which brings us the chocolatey flavour, is full of a whopping 621 different antioxidants (compared to blueberries’ 32) and is a great source of magnesium, which we all love for it’s stress relieving properties. Almonds bring calcium and more magnesium, chia seeds add valuable omega 3 essential fatty acids, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds add immune boosting zinc. Top it off with coconut’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and you have a fabulous way to kickstart your day.

My favourite way to eat this muesli is with natural greek yogurt and fresh fruit. It is barely sweet, so you can sweeten it up with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey if you prefer.

Oh, and with all this time on my hands I’ve taken the plunge and joined Facebook! I’d love it if you’d like to Like and connect with me there.

Sam xo

www.nourishfoodlife.com.auCrunchy Cacao & Almond Muesli

  • 4 cups (400 g) wholegrain oats
  • 1 cup (140 g) raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup (75 g) shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup (155g) honey
  • 1/2 cup (80 g) coconut butter or dairy butter
  • 1/2 cup (45 g) cacao powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) cacao nibs*

Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a large baking dish combine the oats, almonds, shredded coconut, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and pepitas. Mix well.

In a small saucepan gently heat the honey, butter, cacao powder,  vanilla and salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth, glossy and runny.

Pour the honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well immediately to coat everything in the chocolatey mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring the whole lot well a few times during the cooking time. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before stirring through the cacao nibs. Don’t worry if the muesli is still soft when you take if from the oven – it will become crunchy as it cools.

Store in an airtight container.

* Cacao nibs have a bitter chocolate flavour that I love, but you can leave them out if you like if it sweeter.

a fresh take on coleslaw

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www.nourishfoodlife.com.auDespite its German origins, coleslaw has somehow become classic Australian fare, and is now as much a part of the traditional Aussie barbie spread as snags, tomato sauce and tinned beetroot. To make matters worse, the coleslaw that is served up is most often smothered in a rich sugary mayonnaise that all but drowns out the flavour of veggies within and eclipses any health benefits they might offer.

Luckily though, Australia is moving on and is starting to live up to the foodie reputation we’ve been gaining around the world lately. The weekend back-yard barbecue is becoming more sophisticated, as we become inspired by celebrity chefs, dine at the plethora of fabulous restaurants popping up everywhere and experiment with the amazing produce that our farmers are bringing to our local farmers’ markets for us to buy.

With just a tiny bit of reworking, coleslaw becomes a gorgeous, mouthwatering salad in its own right that you’d be proud to share with friends and family; colourful, antioxidant rich and delicious.

This recipe is fairly close rendition of Fiona Inglis’s New Wave Coleslaw, which features in her book The Garden Cook. Fiona went from being a Masterchef contestant to teaching kitchen garden cooking to kids at an Adelaide Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program school (just like me…minus the Masterchef bit!). I think this recipe reflects her delicate approach to combining flavours, textures and colours, as well as her crowd-pleasing abilities. Crunchy and fresh, with a little burst of sweetness here and there from the currants, you’ll find that kids and adults alike will be coming back for seconds.

A Fresh Take On Coleslaw

  • ½ small red cabbage
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 red capsicum, white membrane removed and finely sliced
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped mint
  • 1 cup greek-style yoghurt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and wash well. Remove the core and finely shred. Add to a large bowl along with the carrot, capsicum, onion, currants, parsley and mint.

To make the dressing, whisk together the yoghurt, lemon juice and vinegar, along with a good pinch of salt and some pepper, until silky smooth.

Pour the dressing over the salad and then mix the whole lot together until evenly combined. Serve at once, or pop in the fridge until needed. This is one salad that works well to make ahead as the flavours develop beautiful upon standing.

kale & feta frittata

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Let’s face it, many of us are time poor these days and eating well can be a challenge when life gets too busy. So it’s good to have a few recipes up our sleeves to throw together a quick, healthy meal without too much thought or effort.

Frittata is a great lifesaver recipe for these times. It that can be prepared in minutes at the end of the day, and the veggies and herbs in the recipe are interchangeable with whatever you have on hand – just follow the basic process and it will work a treat. And it’s good cold the next day, so make two and you have tomorrow’s lunches sorted too.

Kale & Feta Frittata

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Small bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 120g feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup (20g) freshly grated parmesan
  • ½ cup roughly chopped parsley
  • Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to high. Heat the oil in a 23cm non-stick ovenproof frypan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion has softened but not browned. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with a fork until combined, then season with salt freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the feta, then add the mixture to the pan. Tip pan to spread egg mixture evenly, sprinkle with parmesan then return to a low heat on the stovetop for 10-15 minutes until almost firm.

Place the pan under the grill for a further 5 minutes or until the frittata is golden-brown and cooked through.

Allow the frittata to stand for 5 minutes, while you mix together the parsley and lemon zest. Now turn the frittata out onto a board to slice into desired servings. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon mixture before serving.

golden crispy potatoes

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www.nourishfoodlife.com.auPotatoes have gone and got themselves a bit of a bad reputation in recent years, but let’s face it, they taste so good. Do we really need to ditch the humble spud in order to be healthy? Not necessarily. Let’s have a look at some of the facts around potatoes, and you’ll see why I think we can enjoy them, deliciously, as part of a nourishing food life.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian eats 63 kg of potatoes a year. This is in comparison to just 2 kg of broccoli! (Really…? Who are these people…?) A good (or not so good) proportion of this 63 kg of potatoes is eaten as French fries or potato chips, which we all know are loaded with unhealthy fats and have little to no nutritional value.

But as a veggie in their own right, potatoes aren’t so bad as all that. They are a good are a source of potassium, vitamins C and B6 and also contain a decent amount of fibre. It’s important to note that most of the goodness in potatoes is in the skin, so keep it on wherever you can – just give them a scrub with a veggie brush to clean them up before using.

There are countless varieties of potatoes on the market. I tend to favour the Nicola potato, given that they are a lower-carb variety than others, they’re versatile to use and they taste great, but I can’t resist Sapphire potatoes if they catch my eye at the farmers market; they have an amazing violet colour which is an added visual bonus to their antioxidant properties.

One point that’s worth remembering when buying potatoes is that this is a case where organic is definitely best. Being a root vegetable, potatoes draw in deeply whatever nutrients and chemicals are present in the soil around them, storing them inside their flesh, which we then eat at the table. Conventionally grown potatoes tend to be heavily sprayed, both during the growing season, and again after they’re harvested to prevent them sprouting and so giving them a longer shelf-life. Organic potatoes taste so much better too.

So to sum up, I tend to think of potatoes as the carbohydrate portion of a meal, meaning that I wouldn’t serve them alongside other carbs like bread, rice, pasta or couscous. I certainly wouldn’t have them every day, and fries and chips don’t even get a look in. But when potatoes are in season, there’s no reason not to enjoy them as you would any other freshly harvested bounty from the garden.

This recipe has been adapted from one by Jamie Oliver, which brings together the heavenly flavour combination of potatoes, rosemary, garlic, and salt.

Golden Crispy Potatoes – serves 4

  • 1 kg organic potatoes
  • 6 large cloves garlic
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt flakes

Give all the potatoes a good scrub with a veggie brush and rinse off. Trim off any discoloured parts then cut them into 2-3cm pieces. Put into a large saucepan, and put a kettle of water on to boil.

Flatten the garlic cloves with the edge of a large knife, remove the papery skins, then pop the cloves into the pot with the potatoes.

When the kettle has come to the boil, cover the potatoes with the boiling water, and put the saucepan on the stove to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the potatoes are only just tender when tested with a skewer.

Drain the garlic and potatoes into a colander. Place a large frying pan on the heat, and add the olive oil. Add the potatoes, along with the rosemary and a good sprinkling of sea salt flakes. Fry the potatoes, tossing every now and then, until they are golden brown and crispy. Serve at once.

 

 

beetroot risotto

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nourishfoodlife.com.auVeggies can taste incredibly different depending on how they’re prepared, and beetroot is a classic case in point. It can be boiled whole and pureed, then whipped into Chocolate Beetroot Muffins or delicious dips; it can be grated into Borscht; or paired with apple, coriander and mint for an amazing salad.

In this recipe, beetroot comes into its own with the addition of basil – the oh-so-delicious result of having an abundance of both beetroot and basil at point of harvest in my garden one summer.

Beetroot’s vibrant colour and rich, earthy flavour is enough reason to get to know it better. An added bonus is that it’s full of immune-boosting nutrients and essential minerals, and has blood-purifying qualities as well.

Beetroot Risotto – serves 4-6

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely sliced then rinsed (you can substitute one finely diced onion if you prefer)
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ¼ cup of white wine or verjuice
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • A handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Extra fresh herbs, to garnish

Pour the stock into a medium-sized saucepan and heat to a gentle simmer.

Scrub the beetroot, and peel if needed. Dice into 1 cm cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the leek or onion to the large pot, along with the garlic, and sauté gently until the onion has softened. Add the beetroot and cook for a few minutes, taking care not to brown the onion.

Add the rice to the large pot and stir with a wooden spoon until all the rice is coated in oil and is a lovely pink colour. Add the wine or verjuice and stir through.

Use a soup ladle to add a ladleful hot stock to the rice, stirring all the while. As each ladleful of stock absorbs, add another, and continue like this until the rice is tender.

Remove the pan from the heat while there is still a bit of soupy liquid left in the pan, as this will continue to absorb on standing.

Add the cheese, basil and parsley to the risotto and gently mix well to combine. Sprinkle with the extra herbs and serve at once on warmed plates.

 

 

caramelised fennel with lentils

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Spring has well and truly arrived to the Adelaide Hills. The fruit trees that have stood bare all winter are now adorned in their blossomy gowns, sending out their petals on the gentlest breeze and scattering them like confetti. The sunshine is warm and delicious while the sun’s high; in the early evenings, a chill still sets into the air, and we know we’ll enjoy a few more nights yet with the fire roaring.

It’s at this exquisite time of year that fennel makes its appearance in the garden, and it’s as if mother nature created it with these golden days and frosty nights in mind. Raw, it’s crunchy, fresh aniseed flavour is delicious finely sliced into a fresh salad of raw greens and segments of late winter orange. But roasted to caramelised perfection it makes the ultimate warming comfort dish, lending itself perfectly to this hearty lentil base.

The lentil part of the dish is adapted from one I learnt from Simon Bryant, one of our local Adelaide food celebrities, of The Cook & The Chef TV series fame, and author of Vegies. I think Simon’s just awesome because one, he creates incredible recipes that let plant foods shine in their own right; two, he’s got a great ethical conscience around food and its production; three, he genuinely cares about the health of kids and young people; and four, when I summoned my courage and invited him to join us for the launch of one of the kitchen garden programs I am involved in, he said yes without hesitation, and showed up, despite hills weather so dark and wintery it was as if the sun had forgotten to rise.

Like I said, he’s awesome. And you’ll think so too, once you’ve tasted these lentils.

With Maggie & Simon at our kitchen garden launch (thanks N. Mullins for the pic!)

With Maggie Beer & Simon at our kitchen garden launch (thanks N. Mullins for the pic!)

Caramelised Fennel with Lentils – serves 4-6

  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 300g puy or french-style lentils
  • few sprigs thyme, tied into a bunch with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp sea or river salt flakes, plus extra for sprinkling (if using fine salt crystals you’ll need much less)
  • 1/4 cup verjuice (or white wine)

Preheat oven to 200°C

Trim the fennel, and cut the bulbs into quarters lengthways. Remove the cores, then cut the rest into 1.5 cm strips. Put into a colander and rinse under cold water, to remove any traces of soil that may have been caught between the fennel’s inner layers.

Drain the fennel well, then place into a large baking dish. Toss through 3 tbsp of the olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pop into the oven. Bake until well caramelised, opening the oven door now and then to let out the steam. Don’t worry if some of the ends of the fennel strips start to blacken ever so slightly – these little bits are just delicious!

Once the fennel is in the oven, place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining oil. Sauté onion until soft and translucent, then add the garlic. Cook to soften.

Add the water to the pan to cool it, then pour in the lentils. Toss in the thyme and bay leaves and stir the whole lot together. Cover, bring to the boil then simmer gently until the lentils are tender but not mushy, and the liquid has reduced.

Remove the thyme and bay leaves, then stir in the sea salt and verjuice.

Serve immediately topped with strips of caramelised fennel.

 

my new favourite seed crackers

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nourishfoodlife.com.auDo you ever come across a recipe that is so simple to make, so delicious to eat, and so nourishing for your body that all it takes is to make it just once for it to put down its roots in your kitchen and become a pantry staple? That’s how this recipe was for me when I first made it some weeks back. Now find myself whipping up a batch every few days or so, spreading them with creamy avocado and a squeeze of lemon, dipping them into soups, serving them up with scrambled eggs and popping them into lunch boxes.

I love that these little crackers are high in protein and fibre, low in carbs and full of nourishing micronutrients.

The recipe is by the very talented Sarah Britton, who named them The Life Changing Crackers. Now that I’m hooked I can see why she did!  As I’ve been making them true to her recipe, I’ll send you over here to get it. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 

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