JUST MEAT ‘N’ VEG BEEF STEW

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It is amazing how beautiful just meat and vegetables can taste when they’re cooked all day long! Even better the next day. The perfect winter meal.

Serves: About 4    Time: 5-10 minutes prep and alll day to cook in the slow cooker

Ingredients: Cubed stewing beef (I used topside), a chopped onion, crushed fresh garlic, cubed pumpkin, chopped broccoli (including the stalk!) chopped zucchini, a couple of pieces of ripped up salami (just for some added flavour), a sprinkle of nutmeg, mix herbs, a few bay leaves, salt, pepper, a good drizzle of olive oil and a cup of warm water.

Steps: Layer all of the ingredients in your slow cooker; meat on the bottom and then hardest to softest. Pour water over top. Cook on high for the day – about 8-10 hours will be great! If you are home you can give it a little stir from time to time. Otherwise, just let it do its thing and enjoy, without much effort at all, after a hard day’s work!

JAFFA PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

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Orange and chocolate. Not a bad flavour combo… let’s put it in a smoothie!

Serves: About one or so   Time: About 2 mins

Ingredients: Two mandarins, one small banana, a couple of tablespoons of raw cacao (or cocoa) powder, a scoop of protein powder – Nuzest Clean Lean Protein works beautifully! Some milk of your choice – or water – just use as much as you need to reach your desired thickness. For me, the thicker the better!

Steps: Blend all ingredients together well until lovely and smooth. Drink!

ITALIAN CHICKEN ‘PARSTA’

Yeah… Parsta! Parsnip pasta. Spiralising vegetables is my new favourite thing! So many great ways to replace pasta with healthy vegetable (spiralised) alternatives.

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Serves: 4ish      Time: 30-45 mins

Ingredients: Butter, chopped onion, crushed/finely chopped garlic, a couple of rashers of bacon, chopped chicken, a few chopped tomatoes, some fresh green veges chopped small, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, a couple of spiralised large parsnips (you’ll need a ‘spiraliser’ – a FANTASTIC kitchen contraption that creates noodles and pasta from veges) salt and pepper, olive oil to serve.

Steps: Saute the onion and garlic in a bit of butter on a medium heat. Add your bacon and cook for a couple of minutes. Add chopped chicken until almost cooked through. Add tomatoes and as many chopped fresh greens as you please. Green means GO! Once the tomato is forming a bit of a sauce, add your spiralised parsnips. Stir it all in together so that the parsnip is getting simmered in the juices. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the parsnips are softening (or al dente). Towards the end, add as much basil, parmesan, salt and pepper and your heart desires. Serve with more parmesan cheese, and a good drizzle of olive oil. Oh, and some fresh chilli is an option too! Enjoy ~

HOMEMADE YOGHURT

Homemade Yoghurt Yoghurt

Servings: Your choice, depending on how much milk you use.

Hands-on time: 15 mins,Developing time: 4-8 hours.

I had my first attempt at making homemade natural plain yoghurt last weekend. I was over the moon with the final product! And pleased with how absolutely simple it is. I encourage you to give it a go too, so here is a quick guide.

Ingredients: Whole, full-fat milk (I used about 2 litres – it depends on how much yoghurt you want), 1/2 cup natural plain yoghurt (greek is fine too).

Steps: Pour your milk into a sturdy pot and gently heat on the stove, stirring to prevent it from cooking to the bottom. Continue to heat until just before boiling point (I just guessed by feeling the temperature with my finger and noticing a few tiny bubbles on the top). Take it off the heat and let it cool down for about 15 mins, until just warm. Whisk your yoghurt into 1 cup of the warm milk until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the warm milk in the pot. Pop a lid on the pot, and simply let it sit in a warm temperature for 4-8 hours until it has developed into yoghurt – all by itself! I heat my oven to 50 degrees celsius, then turn it off, and let the yoghurt-to-be do it’s thing in the cooling oven. The oven cools pretty slowly and seems to keep it warm enough. Once it is at your desired thick-ness, put it into the fridge in a container and let it cool. If the whey (liquid stuff sitting on top) has separated, just pour it off or, like me, mix it in. It’s that easy. I hope you give it a go!        

Side Story: My very first attempt wasn’t so great – I chose to heat my milk in the slow-cooker liner on the stove… two minutes after I had gotten stuck into the process and thought it was steadily heating up… BANG! The pot exploded and milk swiftly made it’s way from my slow cooker pot to the stove top and bench, like a waterfall. Not just on the stove top – inside the gas fittings and all, so it just bubbled milk when I tried to ignite the gas top. But I persisted, cleaned up my newly formed milk-lake and had a much more successful experience on round two. So, don’t use your slow cooker pot/liner on the stove top. And if first you don’t succeed – tweak it and try again!

HIDDEN VEGE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Veges for Dessert!! Chocolate flavoured veges… that you can’t taste.

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A nice and light chocolate mousse with only three essential ingredients (and more optional ones).

Ingredients: Carrots (boiled until super soft), raw cacao powder or cocoa, gelatine. Optional extras: vanilla essence, a couple of teaspoons of dextrose or rice malt syrup (glucose based sweeteners). I feel that the carrot gives it enough sweetness!

Steps: Blitz the soft, boiled carrots, cacao and gelatine in a food processor (as well as vanilla essence and sweetener if using) until super smooth. Leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours or so. Enjoy by itself or with a dollop of coconut cream~

HEALTHY MEXICAN BEEF BURRITO BOWL, AKA A BOWL FULL OF SPRING!

Usually I will create a hearty baked meal like my pork pie or Mexican mince bake when I am using some form of mince… but today was such a beautiful, warm, blue-skied Spring day that I just wanted something light… but still super flavoursome. Enter, Healthy Mexican Beef Burrito Bowl!

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Serves: About 4 (adjust accordingly)    Time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients: Beef mince (about a KG-ish), a chopped onion, a garlic clove or two, chilli if you please, olive oil (be generous), a tablespoon or so of cumin, a teaspoon of paprika, a teaspoon of ground ginger, a tablespoon of dried or fresh thyme, salt, two chopped tomatoes, some chopped mushrooms.

Steps: Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil on a medium heat until softening. Add the spices and salt and continue to cook, stirring with a wooden soon until aromatic. Add mince and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon as you go. Once mince is nicely browned, add chopped tomatoes, mushrooms and thyme. Simmer on a low-medium heat for about 15 minutes until it is nicely cooked  and saucy and flavours have developed.

To serve, layer a base (like quinoa, cauliflower rice or regular brown rice, for example), then Mexican mince mixture, fresh chopped salad (I have used spiralized carrot, chopped baby spinach, tomato, parsley), cheese if desired, and Greek yoghurt. Definitely add some mashed avo too… they are just out of season here at the moment. Enjoy your fresh, healthy meal!

If you want it to be paleo, opt for cauliflower rice and just use guacamole instead of yoghurt, and of course omit the cheese!

GREENS ‘N’ GOOD FATS

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This delicious, satiating meal packed full of greens and good fat is great for any meal. But today it was perfect for lunch. So scrumptious!

Serves: As much as you make.   Time: 10 mins

Ingredients: Chopped bacon, chopped broccoli, chopped zucchini, half a fresh cilli – chopped, spinach, some butter, a touch of grated cheese, lemon juice (fresh), salt, pepper.

Steps: Throw all of the chopped ingredients into a pan and fry, stirring for about 10 mins or until cooked to your liking. Oh – but add the spinach, cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice at the very end! Grind some salt and pepper on top if desired. Yum!

GINGER CHICKEN

I had Ginger Chicken countless times while travelling South East Asia, and needed it when we got home. Ginger is one of those foods that I hated with a passion as a kid (ah, mum… did you put ginger in this?!), and can’t get enough of now.

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Serves: 4ish      Time: About 30 mins

Ingredients: Coconut oil, a chopped onion, a fair bit of grated fresh ginger – about 5cms or more maybe, a crushed garlic clove or two, a finely chopped fresh chilli, a tablespoon of fish sauce, about a kilogram of chopped chicken breast (or whatever cut you prefer), finely grated zucchini and some baby spinach, salt and pepper.

Steps: Heat a generous amount of coconut oil on a low-medium heat in a frying pan or wok. Add onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and fish sauce, and saute (stirring) for a good 10 minutes at least. It will become soft and aromatic, but shouldn’t be browning. If it is, turn down the heat. Add your chicken and continue to stir until the chicken is almost cooked through. At this point, add grated zucchini and spinach, salt and pepper, and continue to stir until the chicken is just cooked and still juicy. I served mine with oven-baked kumara chips and steamed broccoli. Mmmm mmm.

FUDGY GINGER DARK CHOCOLATE

Ginger Chocolate Ginger Chocolate Slab

Rich, bitter dark chocolate, spiced with a hint of ginger. The best thing – it only takes ten minutes to whip up – seriously!

Makes: About a standard block of chocolate   Time: 10 mins

Ingredients: 3/4 cup cacao (or cocoa) powder, 1 tablespoon of ground ginger, 1/4 cup coconut oil (semi soft is best, but work with your climate!), 2 tablespoons of honey (or more if you’re  not sweet enough) a small grind of salt.

Steps: Combine cacao, ginger and salt in a bowl. Add in your coconut oil and honey and stir it up well with a wooden spoon – it will look kind of like a very thick paste. You should only just be able to stir it. Add more cacao if it seems too wet, and more coconut oil if it seems too dry. Jam all the chocolate paste between two bits of baking powder, then roll it out with a rolling pin. Pop it in the freezer for a few minutes. Take it out and slice with a sharp knife. Enjoy!

FRIED ZUCCHINI

Fried ZucchiniFried Zucchini Pan

Servings: As much as you want!  Time: 5 mins

Here is a yummy, easy option for a vegetable side dish, and it goes with almost anything! A great side when chicken is the star of your meal.

Ingredients: Zucchini, thinly sliced, full fat butter.

Steps: Simply heat about 2 tablespoons of full fat butter in a frying pan. Once melted, add sliced zucchini. When the first side is golden brown, flip and cook the other side until golden brown. All done! Enjoy.