Tag Archives: healthy eating

Recipe: Spicy Okra

Okra is a vegetable that intrigues me. It is full of paradoxes. People either love it or hate it. It is a humble vegetable in many parts of the world, yet incredibly exotic in others. It can be both creamy and slimy, crunchy or soggy. It is quite pudgy and ugly and yet it is known as “lady’s fingers” which surely should be symbolic of innate slenderness and grace.

Okra is also the perfect vehicle for flavour, not having much of its own, it can dutifully carry the load of any spices you add to it. This recipe is an attempt at a simple dish where the okra is showcased. The end result is spicy yet fresh and crisp.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs (20ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 200g okra, trimmed and sliced into short lengths (3cm)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (or ½ tsp powdered/flakes)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a medium sized fry pan over medium heat. Add the the onions, cooking until soft (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the okra, tomatoes and chilli, stirring to combine. Cook for 10 minutes while stirring gently. (The okra will emit a sticky substance but this will reduce over time).
  3. Increase heat, add ground cumin and coriander and cook for 2 minutes while stirring to coat the vegetables with the spices and to provide contact with the bottom of the pan.
  4. Reduce heat and add 1 Tbs water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir through fresh coriander, season with salt & pepper, and serve.

Tips: 

  • This dish has been designed to keep the okra crisp, if you prefer it well cooked simply add more water and simmer for longer until done to your preference.
  • As the okra is still crisp, this dish is good for leftovers and can be eaten at room temperature.
  • This dish can be served as a main or a side dish.

Whole30 Day Twenty Three: Is This Really Winter?

Oh such a perfect day sings Lou Reed in my head (do you also get the image of the baby crawling up the walls when you hear that song? *shudder*). Due to exceptional weather, which I felt must be taken advantage of, I started hatching a plan this morning to hit the fish markets. I called a friend and convinced them that there really was nothing better to do on such a glorious day. It was also one of the few places I could easily lunch on the Whole30. I did take my own mayonnaise and lemon just to make sure I couldn’t be tempted by any sauces or condiments. I also took a bottle of water so that I wouldn’t turn around to find an almost empty glass of wine in my hand.

Breakfast: Chia Pot

I’ve found a great brand of Chia pots made without sugar or any sweeteners. I know that they are easy to make, and would be a hell of a lot cheaper, but I don’t have any pots. Weak excuse? OK I am even shaming myself into making my own from now on (once I’ve gone through my little store of them of course!).

Lunch: Prawns, Sashimi and Oysters.

My favourite prawns are crystal bay prawns. They are certainly not as vivid in colour nor as large as tiger prawns, however what they lack in size and colour they make up for in taste and texture. Very sweet and quite meaty for their size, they don’t seem to overcook or go as watery as tiger prawns are wont to do.

We had two enormous servings of salmon and kingfish (about 25 slices of each, I couldn’t keep up!!). Kingfish straight off the boat is sensational, the texture still has a bit of bite to it and the flavour is very delicate.

If we weren’t sure whether we had consumed enough protein at this point, we also scoffed down half a dozen beautiful Sydney rock oysters.

Dinner: Spinach and Mushroom Omelette

I was meant to cook some seafood tonight, but as I didn’t finish our lunchtime seafood feast until 3pm, I didn’t have much appetite and to be honest I was completely fished out.

Whole30 Day Twenty One: Magic Beans

Breakfast: Sliced Strawberries & Banana with Shredded Coconut

I couldn’t face eggs this morning, so unfortunately my breakfast lacked any protein. My standard morning bullet proof coffee took care of the healthy fats. All I really felt like this morning was my favorite brand of spiced granola with Greek yogurt. The closest I could get to it without breaking all the rules was the shredded coconut I added to my sliced fruit.

Lunch: Bean Fries

I love making bean fries, actually I think its the eating of bean fries I like, even though I’m not sure I’m allowed them on the Whole30. I think I may have skimmed over a warning that nothing should resemble pancakes or fries. However I don’t remember an explicit prohibition.

Recipe: Bean Fries

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Dinner: Mussaman Curry with Cauliflower Rice

I reheated some mussaman curry from last night and prepared some cauliflower rice using my fail safe method.

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Recipe: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin & Cashew)

Recipe: Cauliflower “Rice”

Recipe: Cauliflower “Rice”

This is my fail safe cauliflower “rice” recipe. I’ve tried far more complicated versions, but this is the one that works the best. It’s not really a recipe as it only has the one ingredient! It is simply a tried and tested method.

Ingredients

Cauliflower (any amount)

Method

  1. Using the large holes on a standard cheese grater, grate your cauliflower into “rice”.
  2. Put “rice” into a microwave safe bowl.
  3. Microwave “rice” for 3 minutes on high.

Tips

Do not add water or cover as you want to remove as much liquid from the cauliflower as possible.

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Recipe: Bean Fries

These are the perfect movie snack to replace potato chips, they don’t make a mess in the dark like kale chips, and they don’t annoy your neighbor like crunching on pork scratchings.

Ingredients

  • 500 gms green beans
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt *
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika*
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika*
  • 1 tsp garlic granules*
  • 1 tsp onion granules*

Method

  • Heat Oven to 190C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Put all ingredients into a plastic bag. Shake vigorously until all the beans are coated.
  • Divide beans in half and spread out in a single layer on the prepared baking trays.

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  • Bake for 10 minutes, check and turn the beans, cooking for another 5 minutes or until browned and crispy.
  • (Optional but recommended) Open the oven door for 10 seconds to let out most of the heat, meanwhile taking out the tray and giving the beans another turn. Then close the oven door leaving it a crack open. Let the beans cool and dry out further in the oven helping dehydrate them until they are very crispy. Check every 10 minutes to ensure you don’t overdo it.

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Tips

* Replace spice mix with your favourite spices. In this instance I tried to replicate a BBQ flavour. Parmesan is also another great option.

Whole30 Day Twenty: Spicing Up a Cold Day

Breakfast: Lamb Chops and Spinach with Aioli

I had some left over chops from last night for breakfast which I paired with steamed spinach. Luckily I also had some roasted garlic lemony aioli left over as well which was fabulous over the spinach. What an amazing breakfast!

Lunch: Boiled Eggs and Butter, Strawberries

Strawberries have been an exorbitant price lately, as high as $8 a punnet. I don’t like spending more than $4 for a large punnet but luckily today I found two punnets for $6 at Coles. It is unfortunate that I am not a massive strawberry fan, as they are one of the lowest carb fruits. I’m not sure why I think they are over rated, perhaps it is because they are either under-ripe when you need them, or over-ripe with mouldy ones on the bottom which have tainted the entire punnet. Maybe it’s because people seem to get so ridiculously excited about them that brings out my inner Debbie Downer. On the other hand it could have something to do with my brief teenage sojourn as a strawberry picker, where I managed to consume more than I put into the buckets, from which I was fired after a particularly awesome strawberry fight (which I totally won!).

Dinner: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin and Cashew)

I normally eat a lot of curries and predominantly Thai curries. My love affair with chillies becomes a marriage made in heaven when paired with the sweet-and-sour-and-saltiness of Thai food. Surprisingly my first curry attempt for the Whole30 was not an eye watering, nose running, brow perspiring spicy choice. Once again the weather has influenced my menu, and it being a cold day, I decided to do a melt in your mouth massaman curry.

I liked the challenges this curry raised. Firstly the meal choice was a decision made on the fly and I was going to need to prepare it quickly if it was going have enough time to simmer slowly for dinner. It was therefore impossible to source all the ingredients in time to make my own paste. I was going to have to cheat. This meant a trip to the local Thai grocery where I needed to find a Whole30 compliant paste. My normal emergency go-to curry pastes (Maesri) unfortunately contain both sugar and soybean oil. In the end, only one brand (Mae Ploy) had neither and fitted the Whole30 rules. Luckily it was one that I have had success with in the past, although it definitely needs some help to reach its full potential.

Secondly, peanuts which are such an integral part to massaman are a delinquent legume known to masquerade as a nut. This was easily resolved by substituting cashew nuts.

Thirdly, potatoes although technically Whole30 complaint, are very high in carbs in a dish already pushing nutritional boundaries. Therefore I decided to substitute pumpkin.

Finally, massaman usually includes sweetness from palm sugar which of course tops the list of Whole30 no-nos. This I hoped could be remedied by the use of the pumpkin, which should bring a little sweetness to the curry. I also decided to use lime juice instead of the traditional tamarind paste as it would have a little less tartness needing to be counterbalanced.

The end result was spectacular.

Recipe: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin & Cashew)

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Recipe: Massaman Curry (Beef, Pumpkin & Cashew)

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This recipe was born out of a cold winter’s day and the desire to recreate some comfort food which was Whole30, Paleo and low carb. I have varied from tradition by substituting peanuts for cashews in this recipe, and pumpkin for the potatoes. Not only is pumpkin lower in carbohydrates than the traditional potatoes used in this dish, but it also helps to overcome the omission of sugar by partly dissolving into the curry and adding a natural rich sweetness to the finished dish. I’ve also chosen to use lime juice instead of the traditional tamarind paste or concentrate as it is slightly sweeter and provides less of a sour note to counterbalance.

Ingredients

(Serves 8)

  • 2 tablespoons (40mls) coconut oil
  • 1kg shin, gravy beef or chuck steak, trimmed and cut into medium sized chunks
  •  2 cups coconut cream
  •  3 tablespoons (60mls) massaman curry paste (see related recipe)
  •  1 cup coconut milk
  •  1 ½ cups good quality chicken stock
  •  1 cinnamon stick
  •  3 Star Anise
  •  3 bay leaves
  •  ½ tsp ground cardamom or 6 cardamom pods lightly crushed (see note)
  •   1 tablespoon (20 mls) lime juice
  •  1 tablespoon (20 mls) fish sauce
  •  1/2 cup roasted cashews
  •  600 gms peeled and pumpkin cut into medium sized pieces*

Method

In two batches, heat half of oil a large saucepan or casserole pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned all over. Remove beef and liquids to a bowl, and repeat with remaining oil and beef.

Add 3 tablespoons from the top of the coconut cream (do not shake) and cook until hot and bubbling, approximately 30 seconds. Add curry paste and cook stirring for 1 minute or until aromatic. If the paste will not loosen add a little more coconut milk, but account for the cooling down of the paste by cooking slightly longer.

Return beef and juices to pan. Add remaining coconut cream, coconut milk, stock, cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves, cardamom, lime juice, and fish sauce. Stir to combine.

Bring to near boil (do not boil). Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook for 1 ½ hours. Add cashews and pumpkin. Stir to combine. Cook until the beef is tender and the pumpkin is very soft and starting to fall apart approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir a few times to break up some of the pumpkin so that it dissolves into the sauce. This will sweeten and thicken the sauce.

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Tips

*600 grams of peeled pumpkin is approximately 1kg of whole pumpkin.

In Australia I find the Ayam brand of coconut milk and cream is the only one I have found which does not have nasty additives as it is made from 100% coconut kernel.

I used the Mae Ploy brand of curry paste as it does not have sugar or soybean oil.

This freezes exceptionally well and tastes better the next day reheated.

Nutritional information is available here.

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Whole30 Day Nineteen: A Discovery in the Freezer

As an inner city apartment dweller I am incredibly space challenged. My kitchen in particular has very poor storage amenities. As a foodie who loves to cook, insufficient kitchen size and storage is the downfall of apartment living. I am also a renter so I am unable to alter poor design plans. Consequently I have cooking gadgets hidden behind the dining table and my hallway is lined with surplus kitchenware. I agree, this is not very glamorous!

On the front line of this war for extra space is my fridge/freezer. The kitchen carpentry has pre-defined my fridge/freezer space and size, and thus there is a daily battle for space for every item I bring home requiring cold storage. The situation has become precarious as this Whole30 experiment has meant I’m adding a lot more to my freezer than I’m taking out. However, during a routine reorganization today I found some lovely lamb chops languishing in the bottom of the freezer. Not only would I spoil myself with lamb chops tonight, but I’d also make much needed room in my freezer. Win win!

Brunch: Spinach, Onion and Garlic Omelette with Olives and Tomato

I think it was the memories of the lovely garlicky roast lamb last night because I was craving garlic. Garlic and chilies are like a drug for me, the more I have the more I want. I softened some garlic and onion in a fry pan, before wilting some spinach and scrambling some eggs into it. I served it with a couple of olives and a tomato.

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Dinner: Lamb Chops, Garlic Aioli, Asparagus and Chermoula Pumpkin

Oh chermoula how I love thee! If I had to choose between harissa and chermoula in a Solomonian test it would break my heart but I’d probably have to give up both. I’m not as fanatical as I was during the great chermoula Love Affair of 2013, but I still believe chermoula makes almost everything better.

I was tempted to make a harissa mayonnaise to go with this dish, just so there was no competition for my two favourite condiment’s affections. In the end I sensibly opted to go with a simple roasted garlic lemony aioli to compliment the lamb and let the chermoula coated pumpkin shine. The aioli was also perfect to dip my asparagus spears into. Yes it’s true, no one was here so I ate most of this meal with my fingers, and we all know food eaten with bare hands always tastes so much better!

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Whole30 Day Eighteen: Being Entertained

Today was a little nerve wracking as I had agreed to go to a friend’s house for dinner. This would be my first time on the Whole30 where I was not in control of what I would be eating. I explained before accepting that it may be too difficult to cook for me while I am eating this way, however my friend seemed keen to play host with the most and was very supportive.

Trust is paramount before accepting an invitation to eat at someone else’s’ home. People can have good intentions, but if they do not support what you are doing, they are liable to skip some of the rules, and at worse even get offended because you are being “silly” about what they consider to be unnecessary arbitrary rules. I knew I’d be safe with this friend as he is an engineer, and therefore has an affinity for being creative within a provided framework and abiding by rules. He is also very health conscious so is supportive of this experiment and even wanted to learn more about it.

Once what I could eat and couldn’t eat was explained, and the menu verified, the next hurdle to overcome was what beverage to take. What non-alcoholic, non-sweetened beverage was worthy enough? Why a bottle of the finest Kombucha you can find at your local whole foods store of course!!!

Breakfast: Salmon & Roasted Tomato Scrambled Eggs

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Using leftovers form last night, I flaked my salmon and quartered my baby roast tomatoes, and added them with some spinach into a fry pan to heat through. I then added a couple of eggs to make a luscious scrambled egg dish.

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Lunch: Seed Crackers with Tuna & Celery Mayonnaise and an Apple

I had my lunch mid-afternoon to ensure it got me through to dinner tonight. As I was eating at a friend’s house I thought it would be best to make sure I did not arrive starving because I would not be in control of when or what we ate. Arriving without desperate hunger ensured I would not be tempted to try a little piece of cheese or make any other poor decisions.  If I was unable to eat the entire meal due to non-compliant ingredients then I would not be famished.

Dinner: Roast Lamb & Vegetables

I had a wonderful dinner at Mr Engineer’s house. The lamb was cooked to perfection with wonderful roasted potatoes, Dutch carrots, pumpkin and onions. It was wonderful to leave my Whole30 self-imposed house detention and catch up with friends and enjoy wholesome food in great company. As an added bonus there were no carb babies or hangovers afterwards to be endured!

I took along a ginger and lemon Kombucha which Mr Engineer pronounced “not very sweet”, which is a little bit of a reality check for me, as it tastes very sweet to me! My palate has become incredibly sensitive to anything with trace sugar or even natural sweetness. According to the bottle any residual sugar was eaten during the fermentation process.

Whole30 Day Seventeen: Simple Salmon

Breakfast: Fruit Salad & Coconut Cream & Flakes

I pre-bought a tub of fresh fruit salad yesterday, as I had a hankering for some pineapple, which this morning I paired with some coconut cream and coconut flakes. This provided a good light start to the morning. I couldn’t think of any protein that I could bear to face this morning, so it certainly wasn’t the perfect well rounded breakfast.

Lunch: Cos Salad Whole30 Style

Cos leaves, poached chicken, macadamia nuts and mayonnaise blended with an anchovy fillet made a nutritious lunch. Once again I surprised myself by making this ahead and taking out with me for the day. Go me and my preparation! However, for the record, I wish I could find some Whole30 compliant bacon

Dinner: Cajun Salmon, Spicy Coleslaw, and Roasted Baby Roma Tomatoes

Dinner took less than 5 minutes to prepare tonight. Bonus! I prepared my salmon by coating it with Cajun spice mix, topping it with lemon slices, and wrapping it tin foil. I then put it into the oven with some baby roma tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.  Finally I added some hot smoked paprika to my basic mayonnaise and opened a packet of coleslaw mix for my salad. So easy, it shouldn’t have tasted so good.

Another bonus about dinner tonight, I made enough salmon to have some for breakfast tomorrow, well that is that taken care of!

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