As the Story Goes

I often get asked about my story.  My reason or my passion for what I do.

If you have already heard my story, feel free to speed read to the end and I’ll speak to you next week.

If you haven’t heard my story, you will be thankful to know that it is no ‘Gone with the Wind’ tome.

It’s certainly not easy deciding what you want to do when you are a grown-up. Somehow, through a stroke of luck, a change in the wind or perhaps just chance, I decided what I wanted to do when I turned 14 years of age.

I did what I needed to do to make this happen through school and university but the real education and the passion for what I do, didn’t really start until after I had the piece of paper.

When I graduated from uni, work for Dietitian’s was thin on the ground in Perth and my only true hope of a job was someone falling off the perch. Harsh but true.

Given the cold hard facts, time was of the essence, so it seemed like a fine idea to put all my worldly belongings and my prized green Gemini on a truck and send it across the Nullabor. The lure of my very first grown up job took me to Cootamundra, a tiny little sheep and wheat town in NSW.  I found myself in the Nurses Quarters in my single room overlooking a parched paddock inhabited by three lonely sheep wandering around. As sad as they looked, I did note amidst a bucket of tears that at least they had two friends. 

And therein lay my first problem. I was a no mates with not a single prospect in sight. Enter the Hot Cross Bun. Their comfort was immense and my love affair was immediate and oh SO enduring.  I am thankful that way back then, the little fruity delights didn’t appear on the shelves on Boxing Day because the collateral damage would have been quite literally enormous. Whilst comforting myself with the Easter goodies (and perhaps a few other food delights) I set about formulating a plan to gather some friends.  

Cootamundra, like many other country towns had a happening pub scene and with ten of them in a 500m strip catering to 5000 thirsty townsfolk they were clearly the path to friendship. I managed to gather some lovely friends and we had some hilarious times (I think).  After six months of swilling beer and a concerted effort at eating every Hot Cross Bun that wasn’t nailed down, my boyfriend at the time started making comments about the extra ‘bits’ I had acquired.  I was indignantly upset. How dare he tell such lies!

More time passed and unbeknown to me, more bits tacked themselves onto my body. In hindsight I think the beer may have affected my vision. I can only imagine the shaky confidence that the locals had in their new and only Dietitian who was advising them on losing weight while she was fattening up like a little piggy.  Eventually the evidence became too great even for me and in a pivotal moment when getting out of the bath, I had to face the fact that I had morphed into something like a Shar-Pei dog, the breed with many folds of skin.  

With a successful deposit of 10kg of heavy duty weight, the golden run of beer and Hot Cross Buns was over. 

It’s fair to say that the road back was long and arduous and the vision of the first hot cross bun on the shelves each year on the 4th of January never fails to remind me of what could have been. 

Each year, when I look at those first batch of Hot Cross Buns on the shelves, I remember that nobody is immune from making poor choices whether they be about food, exercise or any other lifestyle behaviour or habit. Including me. That is what drives me to assist you.

I don’t have all the answers (as my kids keep telling me) but I do have a collection of experience and education that could just help you along your journey to health and wellbeing. The way I see it, we are all in the proverbial trench together here. But I might just have the shovel.

What about your story – do you have an experience that continually nudges you along the preferred path?

 

Raw Bliss Balls

Roll up, roll up, these bliss balls are super delicious and the perfect treat or post training recovery snack. All you need is 10 minutes and a blender.

 

Ingredients

12 Medjool dates

1 cup pistachios

1 cup almond or hazelnut meal

2 heaped tbsp cacao

2 tbsp dessicated coconut

1 tbsp chia seeds

 

Method

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until combined. If the mixture is not sticky enough to form balls, add a very small amount of water and process again.

Using a heaped tablespoon of the mixture form into balls and place into an airtight container and refrigerate until firm.

Easy Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

This recipe for meatballs is one of the quickest you could ever hope to make and perfect for a week night when you really need to hustle along! A good source of calcium, protein and deliciousness and loved by kids and adults alike.

Easy Chicken Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

500g chicken mince

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

200g cottage cheese

½ cup snipped chives

400g can mushroom soup

½ cup natural yoghurt

Method

Mix chicken mince, breadcrumbs, cottage cheese and chives together in a bowl.  Roll into meatballs and cook for 5 minutes on each size in a lightly oiled frypan.

Mix soup and natural yogurt together and pour over meatballs.  Return to a low heat for 10 minutes.

If you are not a fan of mushroom soup, you can always sub in another flavour. 

To see this recipe in action click here for the video.

 

Pizza Perfection

 

It is rare to find someone who doesn’t like pizza isn’t it? 

Friday nights in our household are sacred pizza nights. It’s pretty much a religion and on the odd occasions it is just not possible – there is every chance a riot can ensue.

We do have an enduring love affair with Italy and we constantly strive to make pizza in the Italian way.  I say the royal ‘we’ but my role in the pizza making is solely to prepare the dough.  It is a very important job though!

It is actually my husband who is the expert chef and he produces simply delicious pizza from scratch. Right now, Friday night is imminent and perhaps you too have a tradition like mine.  Maybe you don’t but you would like to.

So, I am sharing the love – our family pizza dough recipe is coming right up so that you can experience the Friday night pizza religion too.

Pizza Dough (makes 6 large)

Ingredients

2.5 cups OO pizza flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons yeast

200ml water

Pasta or other tomato based sauce

Method

In the following order place the water, flour, salt, oil and yeast into the basin of a bread maker or Thermomix and put on Dough Setting.  This process takes around 90 minutes depending on the equipment you are using.  You could mix the dough by hand and leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen (whether it is in a bread maker or otherwise) divide into six equal portions. Using a heavy rolling pin (we use a marble one) to roll and shape into a base the size of a large dinner plate. Spread each with four tablespoons of pasta sauce.

Our favourite toppings include:

  • Tuna, onion + grated cheese
  • Olive oil, fresh rosemary and salt (the delicious image above)
  • Thinly sliced cold roast beef or lamb + mango chutney
  • Prosciutto + artichokes + sliced mushrooms
  • Ham, pineapple + grated cheese (apologies to all the Italians as this is NOT the Italian way but it is the kids way)
  • Salami + capers + grated cheese

Don’t forget – the golden rule is simplicity and keeping the toppings to a minimum.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls – they are the bomb

 

There is something so cute about a raspberry with it’s unique scrunched up shape in such a vivid colour.  It is hard not to love them simply for their looks but when we start talking about what they can do for our bodies, they reach star status.

The Nutrition Goods

Nutritionally speaking, a raspberry has all the goods. This little fruit is super low in calories with very little sugar, high in fibre and good to our gut plus a bunch of vitamins and minerals including copper and manganese.  There is Vitamin C all round with these guys too – 1 cup of raspberries dishes up almost half of our daily allowance for this vital vitamin.

It is true that eating a raspberry or two is not cheap, even when in season but they are certainly juicy little morsels when you do. The good news is that you can also purchase them frozen, store them in the freezer and grab them out whenever you need them.

So, we know that popping a raspberry or several into our diets will make our bodies happy.  We also know that they are super versatile and can be used simply as they are or in desserts, baking and even in savoury dishes.

Recipe + Raspberry

Which leads me to recipes. Is anybody with me when I say that I do love to look at recipes, mix and match ingredients and come up with my own variation? This favourite pastime lead to the recipe that I am sharing with you day.  Bliss Balls have been on the popular list for many people for a few years now but lots of them feature nuts and dried fruit (which I also love) but sometimes it is good to have a change right?

The Raspberry Combo

My Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls are a delicious combination of frozen raspberries, rolled oats, coconut and skim milk powder.  Super easy to make and a sweet way to get a dose of fibre, beta-glucan, protein, vitamins and minerals.  Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre which can assist with reducing LDL cholesterol that can accumulate in the arteries and can also lower blood glucose levels.

Raspberry Rough Bliss Balls

Ingredients (makes approx 18-20 balls)

2 cups slightly defrosted frozen raspberries

2 cups rolled oats

1.5 cups shredded coconut

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 tablespoons water 

4 tablespoons skim milk powder

Method

Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until combined. If the mixture is not sticky enough, add a little more water. Using a tablespoon, roll the mixture into balls. Refrigerate until set.

 

 

How to make your salad sing

 

I love to cook but my motivation is at all time low right now.  I want the ingredients to get themselves together and just make something already. You know what I mean? Enter salad.

Salad vegetables (and all kinds too of course) are full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, which all help our mind and bodies working day-to-day and reduce our risk of chronic disease.

That said, getting enough of those vegetables does become a little tricky if you leave your daily dose to one meal like dinner, so spreading the vegetable love across the day is key. Of course, you can tick off  a bunch at breakfast by adding mushrooms, tomato, spinach or baked beans to a poached egg and then gather speed by adding a crisp, crunchy salad to lunch.

We can most certainly make salad fancy but the question is, do we need to? 

Just like a coordinated wardrobe, there are some easy ways to mix and match colours and ingredients to put together a salad that everyone around you will be wishing they had too.

For an all seasons salad mix any of the following:

+1…Go Green – baby spinach leaves, crunchy Cos lettuce, beetroot leaves or tatsoi for a fibre, magnesium and folate boost
+2…Orange all over – roasted warm chunks of orange sweet potato, pumpkin or carrot, all excellent sources of the powerful antioxidant carotene.
+3…Go Fast Red – cherry tomatoes, sliced ripe Roma tomato

And don’t forget to add Exceptional Extra’s like – crunchy cucumber, baby roasted or canned beetroot, sliced mushrooms and crunchy combo sprouts.

Toss your choice of salad ingredients and add:

  • Protein Power – lean chicken, sliced cold leftover lamb or beef, lean ham, boiled egg, small tin of 4 bean mix/chickpeas or lentils.

Quick Salad Ideas

  • Lentil, Ricotta and Beetroot – combine 220g canned, drained lentils with 3 baby beets, a handful of baby spinach and 100g low fat crumbled ricotta
  • Orange, capsicum and avocado – toss a handful of mixed salad leaves with 1 orange peeled, segmented and sliced, ¼ of a sliced avocado and ¼ medium red capsicum topped with 40g crumbled low fat feta

Along with the rest of the world, the distinct green leaves of kale have been one of my favourites for a while. Kale going solo does lack appeal but in this recipe – kaboom!

Try my fave healthy Kale Caesar Salad recipe below and you will see what I mean.

Kale Caesar Salad (serves 6)

Ingredients
½ bunch curly or Tuscan Kale (washed, dried and leaves trimmed of stalks)
4 slices proscuitto (fat trimmed), grilled
4 slices sourdough bread

Dressing
½ cup low fat natural yoghurt + 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard + 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil + 1 large garlic cloven + ¼ cup lemon juice + 2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese

Method
Once trimmed, roll up kale leaves, slice finely and place in large salad bowl. Break the grilled proscuitto into small pieces and scatter over the kale leaves.

Tear the bread roughly into 1 cm pieces, place on a baking tray and spray with cooking spray. Bake in a moderate oven for approx. 10 minutes until crispy.

For the dressing, mix all ingredients together in a shaker or jug and pour over kale leaves. Using your hands, mix the dressing through the salad and serve.

 

Camel milk and the health benefits – one hump or two?

It is fair to say that Australia has no shortage of camels. It is estimated that there are approximately 1 to 1.2 million camels roaming free (or feral depending on your outlook) in the land of Oz. These camels are spread far and wide across an area of around 3.3 million square kilometres of diverse terrain and their numbers are projected to double every 8-9 years.  The mind boggles does it not?

Enter the cameleer. A cameleer is someone who can ride, train and handle camels and that is exactly what a gentlemen by the name of Stephen Geppert is expert in. Whilst in the Australian desert, he noticed how many camels were running wild and aware of the governments culling program to control numbers, Stephen got to thinking about harnessing these mammals for their milk.

This idea was further developed by joining forces with others who had experience within government and the agricultural industries and the Good Earth Dairy in Dandaragan that produces camel milk was born.

I first tried camel milk at the Perth Royal Show a few months ago and I was surprised to discover that I liked it. I may have been persuaded by the cuteness overload of two baby camel’s swaying on their gangly new legs and their l o n g eyelashes but nevertheless, it tasted good.

Camel milk has some impressive nutrition stats.  It contains half the saturated fat of cows milk and is a rich source of protein and calcium.  Good news for those intolerant to the A1 protein in cows milk too  – camel milk contains only the A2 protein. It contains 60% of the lactose in cows milk, making it a viable option for those who are lactose intolerant and the mineral content including zinc, magnesium, manganese and potassium is high too.

Then there is lactoferrin. Various strains of harmful bacteria need iron to reproduce and lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that limits the availability of iron to bacteria in the gut – allowing the beneficial bacteria survive. Camel milk uniquely contains 10 times the amount of lactoferrin that is found in cows milk.  

There is no doubt that the camel milk industry is in its infancy and with that comes the substantial stresses of a start-up business, which of course includes consumers being aware that it exists.

Aside from the nutritional benefits, I do appreciate innovation and the use of an existing resource that can survive in very tough conditions, minimising the impact on our environment. 

If you would like to listen to my review on air and all the funny jokes that one would expect with a review of camel milk, check it out here. By the way, you can grab this milk at a number of specialty stores around Perth, listed on the Good Earth Dairy website.

What about you – have you tried camel milk yet?

 

 

 

Egg Goodness – It’s World Egg Day

Happy World Egg Day! It’s time to bring out the balloons and streamers because today is the day to celebrate  and be reminded that the humble egg is an amazing source of energy and vitality.  These little goodies are packed full of  fat soluble vitamins, essential minerals including iron, phosphorus and protein.

The egg has suffered from an undeserved bad boy reputation over the years, mostly in the area of cholesterol. Egg yolks do contain a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat. However, research conducted over the past 50 years shows that egg consumption has only a negligible effect on raising total blood cholesterol levels in healthy people. For most people, eating an egg every day is a healthy addition to a diet that includes wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Of course, it is a different story if you are frying eggs every day and eating them with lots of bacon! 

An egg can be a great snack or meal full of protein and is the richest source of choline, which is essential for the manufacture of neurotransmitters in your brain. The National Heart Foundation has recognised the egg as a nutritious food being eligible for the healthy eating ‘Tick of Approval’ and they are recommended daily as part of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

I grew up with chooks around my feet and I loved finding an egg hidden in my cubby house amongst my dolls and blankets.  Our chooks were very much free to range wherever they felt like it. Cubby, chook pen, prams – you name it. To be honest, these feathered birds completely freak me out BUT I do so appreciate their produce!

You can check out some interesting and fun facts about the little egg here at World Egg Day.

The egg would have to be on of the easiest foods to prepare but for some weekend eggpsiration, you might like to try my Noodle Omelette.  This recipe is part of my new recipe e-book, ‘eat, energise, repeat’ which can be downloaded for free at 

Noodle Omelette

Ingredients

1 packet 99% fat free 2 minute noodles, (cooked according to directions but without flavor sachet)

2 free range eggs, lightly beaten

40g grated reduced fat cheese

1/4 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 large zucchini, thinly sliced

1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

Method

Spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and arrange onion, zucchini and tomato in layers in the pan. Top with cooked noodles, distributed evenly over the vegetables and pour over egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook over low heat until egg starts to set at the side of the pan and then place fry pan under grill to finish the top of the omelette and brown the cheese.  Cut into quarters and serve with a green salad.

Serves 1-2 adults or 2 kids under 12              Cost = $1.90

 

 

 

Healthy Pastry – How to Make a Delicious Meat Pie Scroll

Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere will have noticed that the air is getting a little crisper these days. Colder air means winter sports and warmer food doesn’t it? It does in my foodie world. Enter healthy pastry.

In Australia, winter sports like football, soccer and netball are often associated with spectator fare like meat pies, sausage rolls, hots dogs and hot chips. The thing is, these guys are not exactly bursting with goodness and should really only be a treat food, not every weekend afternoon.

So what is the alternative? The good people over at Legendairy have given me some inspiration for a quick, super easy recipe for healthy pastry that can be used for scrolls, pies or anything that you would like to wrap some pastry around!

Easy Healthy Pastry

1 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup natural yoghurt

Combine yoghurt and flour and mix together until combined. Knead into a ball and rest for 5-10 minutes.

On a floured bench or board, roll out the pastry in a rectangular shape 30 x 20cm.

Quick Meat Pie Filling:

1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g lean beef mince
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
1 tsp beef stock powder
2 tsp gravy powder
1 tablespoon water

Heat the oil in a pan and then add garlic, onion, mince, sauce and stock powder. Stir until well-browned and then add combined water and gravy powder. Stir until thickened.

Putting it all together

Spread rolled out healthy pastry with the meat pie filling or your choice of pasta sauce and grated cheese or leftover bolognaise sauce, leaving 2 cm around the edge to avoid oozing (unless of course, you want it to ooze!). Roll from the longest edge, continually until the dough forms a sausage shape and use a little milk to seal the edge.

Cut into 2 cm wide pieces and place face up on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle with grated cheese if desired and bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

You now have a meal made with healthy pastry that is a good source of calcium, is much lower in fat and salt but high on taste. Enjoy!

How to Make Healthy Easter Chocolate Bliss Balls

The truth is, its hard to avoid all the Easter chocolate isn’t it? Despite the deliciousness, I do know that Easter eggs are jam packed with calories and it is very hard to stop at just one, especially the little teeny tiny ones.

Enter the Easter Chocolate Bliss Ball. The concept of ‘balls’ have become very popular over the last few years and it is very common to see them adorning the glass display cabinets of many a cafe. The thing is, although the ingredients in these so called ‘healthy and natural’ treats, may look good on paper they still contain a bunch of calories and are not actually healthy.

Todays recipe is my own for Easter Chocolate Bliss Balls and a modification on my Festive Chocolate Balls (which may contain a little alcohol…). These guys are so quick and easy and make the perfect Easter chocolate gift. If there are any left of course. These balls are high in fibre and a great source of healthy fats and antioxidants too.

Easter Chocolate Bliss Balls

Ingredients
10 Medjool dates + 8 dried apricots
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 cup raw hazelnuts or mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) or
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Method
Throw ingredients into a food processor and blitz for a few minutes until nicely combined and sticky. Make tablespoons of the mixture into balls, roll in extra shredded coconut and enjoy.

Wishing you all a safe and hoppy Easter!