Spice-ful Polenta Chips

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There are a few steps involved in making these polenta chips, but they are great to have in the freezer ready to pop in the oven when you need an easy side dish. You can experiment with using different spices and stocks, and even adding ingredients like cheese. But, here is a basic starting point to get you going.

Ingredients: 1 cup of polenta, 2.5 cups of boiling stock (for extra flavour) or water, 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1 tablespoon of sumac, 1 teaspoon of salt.

Steps: 1) Add all ingredients, apart from the sumac, to a saucepan over a medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon for a few minutes or until it forms a creamy mash. 2) Pour the polenta mixture into a medium sized slice tin or glass storage container and spread it evenly like you would a slice. 3) Place the slab of polenta mash into the fridge to set. 4) Remove from the fridge and slice into even, thick chips. 5) This next step is optional, but will achieve perfect chips that are crunchy on the outside… Place on a tray in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. Once frozen, you can store in the freezer in a bag, or use immediately. 6) When you are ready to cook them, remove from the freezer, coat in sumac powder and additional salt if desired, and bake for around 30 minutes on 200 degrees Celsius, or until the chips reach your desired level of crispiness!

By Jasmine Trafford at Franklee Healthy

*Looking for a recipe for something different? Comment below and I will develop the recipe in my kitchen!*

Choose Your Own Curry Adventure: make a real-food curry from scratch

 

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Curries are delicious first and foremost. When made from real ingredients, they’re also super good for you. They are easy to make. They are cheap to make. And, they are easy to vary depending on what’s in the cupboard. So let’s get started.

I begin all of my curries by sizzling some sliced onions and chopped up garlic in a generous (like, really generous) amount of oil or fat. (I use a good cast-iron pan and a wooden spoon). Think ghee, butter, coconut oil or olive oil. I do this on a medium to low heat until they are nice and soft. Yeah, this is an enjoy-the-process kind of meal; the longer it takes, the better the flavours. Put on some music and get into it.

 Next, I add an array of dried and ground spices and salt. You can mix it up here, choosing from any combination of cumin, turmeric, ground ginger, garam masala, ras el hanout, curry powder, chilli flakes, ground coriander and paprika. Or, use a quality curry paste that contains only good things (my favourite is massaman). Fresh ginger and lemongrass can be welcome additions here, too. Stir your selection (as many as you like – a cumin, paprika, turmeric, ginger combo is a starting point – TBSP of each) through the oil, onions and garlic until it starts to smell amazing.

Some creamy goodness and some stock come next for me; about a cup of each. Pour in a can of coconut cream (my favourite), some yoghurt, or full fat cream, and some homemade stock if you have any made up; chicken or veggie stock for white meats and beef/lamb stock for red meats. Or just ignore that rule. Alternatively use water and a little extra salt. Add it to your pan and let it simmer for a wee bit.

Now add some chopped meat (or not – veggie curries are great too. Try chickpeas, lentils or paneer cheese! If using paneer then add it at the end). My favourite has got to be white fish – but add it at the end instead. Let the meat cook through in the creamy curry goodness until half cooked.

Time for the veggies – add any that you like, chopped up small, and continue to simmer away for another 20 minutes or so.

Taste your curry regularly until it has the perfect flavour and consistency for you!

Remember if you are using fish or paneer, add it towards the end as they take a lot less time to cook.

You can add some fresh coriander at the end too.

*Tip: Baby spinach stirred through at the end adds a nutrient boost!

*Tip: You can just throw it all in the slow cooker, give it a stir and cook on low for about 8 hours. Easy!

Enjoy your curry adventure!

 

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

 

HOMEMADE BAKED BEANS

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Baked beans are a big kiwi favourite. Unfortunately, the ones on the shelves are full of sugar – I mean who puts sugar in savoury beans?! Luckily, these ones here are even more delicious and versatile. And easy.

Serves: About 2 – depends how you’re using them.   Time: About 10 minutes

Ingredients: Chopped chives, a can of cannellini beans (or your bean of choice…), a chopped tomato, half of a chopped chilli, paprika, fresh rosemary or thyme, a chunk of butter, a chopped rasher of bacon (if you want it), a handful of baby spinach, salt.

Steps: Put all of the ingredients into a little frying pan, bring to a medium heat and stir, simmering, for about ten minutes or until juices start to reduce. Done! Enjoy.

Use these for baked eggs, a side for your brekkie… or lunch or dinner, brekkie itself, a snack… anything really! You can even make a big batch in advance and freeze for later in portions.

 

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!

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.

 

 

 

Cheat’s Sauerkraut

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A quick version of sauerkraut (without the fermented benefits) – a fabulous side vegetable dish (I love it with my pork roasts!)

Serves: You choose! -Adjust amount of cabbage accordingly.   Time: 30 mins (cook it up while your meat is cooking)

Ingredients: Purple (or variety of choice) cabbage (finely sliced/grated), a sprinkle of caraway seeds, roughly 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, water, salt, pepper.

Steps: Place sliced cabbage in a suitable sized pot. Pour water to about half way up the cabbage. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to the boil then simmer on a medium heat until cabbage is soft, stirring occasionally. Drain and serve with whatever meal you have whipped up! It goes beautifully with meat.

Suggestion: I put my leftovers in a small container and topped with squares of tasty cheese and goat’s cheese for an at-work snack the next day. Especially yummy when melted for a few seconds in the microwave!