Pad Thai (serves 6-8)

This quick pad thai is full of healthy vegetables and proteins and is packed with flavour.

I used a bottle of pad thai mix from my local Asian grocery store but you can either make your own or mix it up using other stir fry pastes or sauces.

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Ingredients

  • 500g thick rice noodles
  • 1/2 small bag bean sprouts
  • 1 handful of snow peas, ends broken off
  • 2 small bunches pak choy, washed and cut in half vertically
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 bottle pad thai paste
  • 3 Tbsp kecap manis
  • 5 Tablespoons olive or peanut oil
  • 500grams chicken breast, cut into cubes (roughly)
  • 400grams peeled fresh prawns (tails on)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 50grams chopped cashews to sprinkle on top

Method

1.Prepare vegetables by washing, peeling and chopping (as above).

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2. In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and fry off onions and garlic.

3. Add chicken and cook for about 5-10 minutes.

4. Add prawns and cook further for about 2-3 minutes or until it changes colour and becomes opaque.

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5. Push meat to one side of the pan and add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Pour in half the pad thai sauce mix and fry off for about 1 minute, then stir and mix into the meat.  Put meat into a separate bowl and drizzle lightly with kecap manis (about 1 tablespoon).

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6. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the empty pan.  Start to add vegetables, tossing as you go. I added the harder vegetables first so they all cook evenly.

7. Again, move vegetables to the side, add the rest of the pad thai mix and fry off for about 20-30 seconds. Then mix into vegetables.

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8. Add chopped cashews and mix in.

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9. Boil rice noodles until cooked through as per instructions on the packet.

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10. Drain water, transfer noodles to a separate bowl and add remaining kecap manis.

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11. Place noodles in a dish, top with meat and vegetables.

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12. Add beansprouts (you cold also top with sesame seeds) and enjoy!

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Ten uses for chia

I have heard a lot about chia seeds in the past few months and it was with great excitement (and a bit of nervousness) that I finally bought a packet of chia seeds for my local supermarket.

Chia contains omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, calcium, potassium, iron, fibre, minerals and nutrients, and is gluten and dairy-free.

I have heard that chia is good for a number of things including:

  • reducing inflammation
  • lowering cholesterol
  • aiding in weight loss
  • protecting the body from free radicals and cancer
  • improving brain performance
  • boosting strength and endurance
  • reducing stress and
  • aiding with digestive health

Just google “chia seeds” and you will see for yourself that it is being touted as nature’s wonder food with a wide range of uses and benefits.

Chia Gel

I decided to try the white seeds and started off with the simple chia gel, which can be made by mixing 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds.

After stirring rapidly for about 2-3 minutes (you can use a hand whisk or shake the mixture in a bottle instead), the mix was ready.

This is what it looked like:

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The chia gel can be eaten on its own, used in smoothies and drinks, mixed into juices, salad dressings, porridge or soups.  

You can also use chia gel as a substitute for eggs!

Chia seeds

You could also use the chia seeds on their own, and sprinkle them over salads, pastas, in cereals and stir-fries or add them to cakes, and desserts.

It is a simple and easy way to fill yourself up and add some nutrition to your meals.

I’m hoping to use a lot more chia in my cooking and would love to hear what your favourite chia recipes are? 

 

Chicken, Avocado and Green Bean Salad with Tomato (serves 4)

This salad is perfect for work lunches or even as a side at a BBQ or lunch event.

Easy to make and pretty healthy for you if you add less mayonnaise!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bag baby spinach leaves (approx 200gr)
  • 60gr semi-dried tomatoes
  • 1 handful green beans, de-stringed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 Tsp spicy seasoning (e.g. cajun, paprika, zaatar, chilli, cumin etc)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbs seeded mustard
  • 1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise

Method:

1. Cut the chicken breast into cubes and rub the spicy seasoning in.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the chicken pieces off until cooked through.

3. Steam de-stringed beans until they go dark green and are cooked through but still a little crunchy.

4. Cut avocado into large chunks (I sliced it and then cut the slices in half).

5. Wash, de-seed and cut red capsicum into cubes.

6. Wash baby spinach leaves and put in a large mixing bowl. Add tomatoes, cooled chicken breast pieces and beans, and avocado.

7. Mix mayonnaise and mustard in a separate bowl. Add to the rest of the salad and mix well.

Enjoy!

Butternut Pumpkin & Zucchini Quiche (serves 8)

My brother is a fussy eater at the best of times. When he was younger he only ate things that were bland and unhealthy. Things with barely any flavour and certainly no spice. Things like pies, chips, and pizza. He would occasionally eat carrots, peas and corn, but no lettuce, no tomato and no onion.

He is now almost 18 years old and I am glad to say his eating habits have changed. He recently had a bit of a protein (for working out) and healthy food craze and has opened his mind to the wonders of vegetables and spicy food. He even eats my mum’s Sri Lankan curries now and then and can make a coconut (pol) roti on his own!

I decided to make a semi-healthy, high vegetable quiche for dinner to be accompanied with a side of salad. This recipe made one large quiche and about 6 smaller muffin-tray ones. I made sure to add plenty of cheese so my bro would be happy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 butternut pumpkin
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 cup low-fat tasty cheese
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 Tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Push a sheet of puff pastry into a greased quiche dish. Cut out circles using a cutter and press into greased muffin tins. Bake at 200C for about 10-15minutes or until lightly browned.

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2.Thinly slice onion and cook together with garlic and olive oil in a small pan. Once golden and opaque, sprinkle onion mixture over the puff pastry.

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3. Use a peeler to shave the butternut pumpkin into thick ribbons. Then add to the puff pastry.

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4. Use a grater to grate zucchini and spread evenly over the pastry.

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5. Grate cheese and sprinkle on top of quiche.

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6. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well combined. Pour over the quiche and bake in a 160C oven for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the egg has set.

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Enjoy with a side of salad.

Greek Salad

This delicious and healthy Greek salad is the perfect side dish for any meal. It is also great on its own!

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls of washed lettuce
  • 3 tomatoes or a punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 Spanish onion (1 used a brown onion as I didn’t have Spanish ones at the time)
  • 100grams of Danish feta cheese (you can use Greek but I prefer the saltiness  and firmness of the Danish feta)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/3 cup of black Kalamata olives (pitted)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Cut lettuce into 2cm wide strips and spread out evenly over a large platter.

2. Thinly slice the onion and spread over lettuce.

3. Cut the cucumber into 0.5cm slices and spread over the onion and lettuce.

4. Cut the tomatoes into 8 wedges per tomato (or in half if using cherry tomatoes) and sprinkle over the other vegetables.

5. Top salad with the olives and cubes of feta cheese (about 2cm x 2 cm)

6. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the salad and season generously with freshly ground salt and pepper.

7. Enjoy!

Tuna & Mixed Bean Pasta Salad

This healthy and delicious pasta salad is perfect for lunch and will give you plenty of protein to keep you going.

Ingredients:

  • 250g pasta shells
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/4 onion
  • 200g canned tuna
  • About 1/4-1/3 cup of light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 can of mixed beans ( I used 4 bean mix)
  • Pepper and salt to season

Method:

1. Cook pasta according to directions on pack.

2. Chop up onion, tomato, and cucumber.

Tip: You can add a handful of fresh parsley, grated carrot or whatever other vegetables you have on hand.

3. Rinse and drain beans, and drain tuna.

4. In a large bowl mix the pasta tomato, onion, cucumber, beans and tuna.

5. Add mayo and stir well, then season with salt and pepper.

Serve chilled.