Creamy Braised Lentils with Mushrooms and Kalettes

After a huge weekend, actually I should say this week of party celebrations. It was nice to get back to healthy eating and to kick off the week with a meatless Monday dish of braised lentils was just the thing I needed.

As I become more in tuned with my body and health over the past few years, I honestly do enjoy meat free meals more and more. I cannot say I am a totally converted vegetarian, though I have cautiously reduced my intake on red meat. My digestive system has notably changed for the better.

There are so many different "diets" "labels" of lifestyle these days. Apart from ethical reasons I believe you don't need a label to live your life the way you want, you know your own body and what makes you feel good and works for you. If you are eating a high quantity of protein and iron enriched foods from other sources such as lentils, brussels sprouts, other legumes and leafy greens then reducing or cutting out your red meat intake won't hurt you contrary to what we have been lead to believe over the years. Increasing your intake of plant-based foods you are providing your body with not just protein and iron but an array of vitamins and minerals that support a healthy, functioning body.

Whatever your dietary requirements this meal will make your taste buds sing and dance, leave you feeling full yet less sluggish and provide you with the protein your body requires. Enjoy on it's own as a meal or as a side with your meat or fish of choice if you prefer.

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Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Basil Pesto

 

I have been wanting to try this for a while now as it just looks so creative and artistic but is actually so easy!

I literally had no idea what was for dinner when I had these lonely sweet potatoes sitting on my bench and some chicken breasts waiting for me to whip something up for the family. It would have been the usual sweet potato chips but remembered I’d seen a few pics around on social media of these beauties and decided to give it a go. With only 5 mins prep and minimal ingredients it really was an ideal healthy side veggie.

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Eggplant Pizzettes

Yes it’s actually a thing I googled it! Β Really just meaning mini pizzas with eggplant as the base which can be eaten as a appetiser, snack or with antipasto.

With my influx of basil pesto in the house and the family eggplant delivery I received from my sister-in-law the other day I was eager to use them both. I was making a traditional eggplant parmigiana for dinner and had some eggplant left over so I decided to bake some extra thick cut slices with a drizzle of olive oilΒ and sprinkle of oregano in the oven for 15-20mins until was just cooked through without being mushy.

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Italian Minestrone with Quinoa & Crispy Pancetta

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It is a dreary day here today wet, cold and miserable. Not the most motivating weather for a Monday. Winter is making a sneak preview and reality is checking in that we actually do get cooler weather here on the Gold Coast. Of course nothing to get too distressed about compared to the Southern Australian states and well overseas snowy climates, but we do still get a winter even if the cooler weather is only for a very short time. I rather like it actually, it makes for a nice change to the sticky, hot humid days that engross us for the majority of the year. Who’s complaining we have it pretty darn good so the few months of chilly nights we can totally deal with. Also makes dinner time more cosy and enjoyable too in my opinion. Nourishing  wholesome soups packed with veg and flavour I just can’t get enough of which are rather easy to make as well.

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Minestrone is a hearty Italian classic soup which I have been making since I first started learning to cook. As has my mother  and her mother before that. It is a basic winter staple in our home something we have all grown up on. Except now I add the goodness of quinoa to the tomato vegetable broth which makes this soup even more nutritious than before and a gluten-free option. The pancetta gives the dish an extra salty depth of flavour which I quite like but you can always leave it out to make this a vegan/vegetarian meal. Serve with some warm crusty bread and a glass of red to make it a full authentic Italian meal.

Italian Minestrone with Quinoa & Crispy Pancetta

A traditional Italian Soup with the added goodness of Quinoa

Ingredients

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, diced

1/2 bunch cavolo nero, (Tuscan kale) finely sliced

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 cup red wine

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup tri-colour quinoa, rinsed

400g tin four bean mix or borlotti beans, drained and washed

100-120g pancetta, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot heat oil on high heat. Add chopped pancetta and cook for 2-3 mins until just crispy. Remove from pan and a side
  2. Add onion, garlic and saute for 1-2 mins until softened. Add carrot, celery, sweet potato, zucchini, cavolo nero, bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and half the pancetta to the pot. Saute for 3-4 mins stirring continuously until vegetables are just beginning to soften
  3. Add stock, wine and tin tomatoes stir to combine. Bring to the boil then add rinsed quinoa. Turn heat down low to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add beans cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve soup topped with the remaining pancetta, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, extra cracked pepper and some warm crusty bread rolls. If you like some heat I added some chilli salt also.

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Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Turmeric Quinoa Curry

imageContinuing my love of Turmeric with this healthy vegan one pan vegetable curry.  I am always attracted to one pan dinners, when our weekdays are busy enough it makes meal time that much easier to know you can throw a few quality ingredients in a pan and let it cook away for half an hour giving us some free time to do other things. With three children all wanting my attention this is very handy let me tell you. Seems to be always when I am cooking dinner when they all want my undivided attention  for one thing or another.

My husband isn’t a big fan of curries so I don’t get to make them as much as I’d like to but today I had a craving for it so I made it for myself and the rest will go in the freezer for when I have another curry craving moment. Leftovers are good for work lunches too as this keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days and the freezer 3-4 months.

Super healthy with added quinoa so no need for heavy rice. I do like something to soak up all the sauce though, I had some of my Homemade Naan Bread in the freezer. Quick heat up and it’s good to go!

Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Quinoa Turmeric Curry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 35mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

250g sweet potato peeled and cubed (around one small)

250g cauliflower florets (about half a small cauliflower)

2 cloves garlic crushed

3 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder (for a mild curry leave this out)

1 tsp ground ginger

400g can coconut milk

1 tbsp tomato paste

salt and pepper

1 cup white uncooked quinoa

1 cup water

400g can chickpeas

1-2 cups baby spinach

Directions

  1. In a large pan add garlic, turmeric, coriander, chilli, ginger, coconut milk and tomato paste stir all till well combined.
  2. Bring to the boil then add sweet potato, cauliflower, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add quinoa and water to the pan and mix well. Reduce heat to a simmer and place the lid on.
  4. Cook for 25mins stirring occasionally making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  5. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 5-10 mins. It is ready once the quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid and quinoa is tender.
  6. Stir through baby spinach. Serve with Homemade Naan Bread

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