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.

 

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.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Choc-chip Cookies with a Hint of Healthy

What do Choc-chip Cookies have to do with healthy living and high performance?

A lot more than you might think. Firstly, I can’t actually imagine living without the recipe I am about to share with you and secondly, balance is such an important part of living a healthy life isn’t it?

I know that perhaps like me, you will be anxious to get back to the Choc-Chip Cookies but before we do…..Last week, I shared some lupin love with my Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne, a pretty darn delicious dish. Lupins are almost 40% protein and 40% fibre, with just a little carbohydrate and fat, which makes them a nutrition powerhouse.

To me, it seems a natural progression to go from savoury to sweet and throw them into Choc-Chip Cookies. This recipe has been scribbled on a piece of worn paper for many years in my recipe folder and if I don’t make them most weeks, there is the threat of a riot in my house. I don’t know whose recipe this was originally but if was you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Aside from the chocolate, the vital ingredient in these Choc-Chip Cookies are the oats. The oats give the cookies a soft chewy texture that matches perfectly with the gooey yumminess of dark chocolate. By the way, don’t be tempted to use milk chocolate as it makes the cookies too sweet and without flavour contrast. For this recipe I substituted The Lupin Co. lupin flakes for the exact amount of oats and the result was exactly the same – delicious. Oats are also a nutrition powerhouse but the lupins have significantly more protein and fibre. This is so important in a Choc-Chip Cookie!
Of course, Choc-Chip Cookies are not designed to be an everyday food (especially in the size that I seem to make them) but as a treat they are divine. The extra protein and fibre in the lupins do fill you up more than the average biscuit and they can also be a handy recovery snack post training (although not required after a walk around the block just in case you were wondering).

Choc-Chip Cookies

Ingredients
125g poly/monounsaturated margarine or butter
175g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 and 1/4 cups lupin flakes

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 ºC. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Using electric beaters, beat butter/margarine, sugars and vanilla until pale and thick. Beat in egg until just combined. With a wooden spoon, fold in the lupin flakes and then the sifted flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and then fold the whole lot in. When almost done, gently fold in the chocolate until just combined.

Scoop heaped tablespoons of the mixture about 5cm apart onto the prepared trays, flatten down a little and then bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden. Don’t worry of the cookies feel or look soft, as they will get crisp when cooled (it is hard to wait but worth it I promise).

Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne aka Lasagne

Lasagne gets me thinking about Italy, cheesy sauce, accordion music and red and white checked tablecloths. You might not have exactly the same vision but lasagne is a true crowd pleaser and one of those dishes that just makes you sigh with happiness doesn’t it?

Traditionally, lasagne can be loaded with béchamel sauce (delicious yes but high on the fat side of things), sheets of pasta and cheese upon cheese.
That might seem like a good thing (and as an occasional food, it really is) but for an everyday kind of dish, a few tweaks is all it takes to bump up the protein and reduce the fat, to tick the nutrition boxes and turn it into the ideal recovery meal post exercise.

Perfect timing because there is a new protein rich kid on the block, which packs a serious nutrition punch. This little goodie is the humble lupin – a unique legume that contains 40% protein, 40% fibre with a small amount of carbohydrate and fat and is completely gluten free. 85% of the world’s crop of lupins is grown in Western Australia which is pretty cool. Yay for the sandgropers.

So after a bit of experimenting, I have concocted Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne and it tastes fantastic! This recipe is high in protein and fibre and is packed full of vegetables and flavour. It uses lupin flakes produced by The Lupin Co. which are so versatile and have so much to give our bodies, including a protein punch.

Chicken, Ricotta and Spinach Lupinsagne

Ingredients
1-tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 x cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1 x 400g tin canned, diced tomatoes
20 basil fresh leaves
500g lean chicken mince
1-cup chicken stock
1-cup lupin flakes
1kg reduced fat ricotta cheese
150g baby spinach leaves,
2 eggs, beaten
5 x fresh lasagne sheets
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Method
Cook the onion and garlic together in the oil until golden brown and then add the chicken mince and stir until cooked through.

Add the carrot, zucchini, tomatoes, chicken stock and basil, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is reduced a little. While the mixture is simmering, cook the lupins in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes and then drain and rinse in cold water. Just before you take the chicken mixture off the heat – add the cooked lupins and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the spinach leaves in a microwave proof bowl into the microwave and cook for 1 minute until wilted slightly. Once cooled, squeeze out excess water and add to the ricotta along with the beaten eggs. Stir the ricotta mixture until smooth.

Spray a large lasagne dish with cooking oil and place some of the mince mixture on the bottom of the dish followed by lasagne sheets to fit and then half of the mince mixture on top of this followed by half of the ricotta mixture and repeat these steps once more finishing with the ricotta layer.

Cover with foil and cook in a moderate oven for 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Nutrition Per Serve:

Energy 312 calories, protein 27g, fat 12g, carbohydrate 19g, fibre 8g

This Lupinsagne is perfect for an everyday dinner and also a great recovery meal post exercise.

Watch this space for more lupinlicious recipes.

Buon appetito!

Looking for a quick dinner?

Growing up, one of my staple after school snacks was the good old 2-minute noodle pack. If you were on the same page, you will understand the attraction of something that is so quick and simple and requires virtually no cooking skills whatsoever. Never mind a snack – what about the night’s where time is short and all you want is a quick dinner?

The thing is, while the noodles themselves provide a source of carbohydrate, they are very limited in their nutritional value and that little foil flavour sachet is high in salt. Too much salt is associated with high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. The average Australian eats around three times more salt than we need for good health so we certainly don’t need to be adding more. Historically, the noodles were fried but now we have access to the 99% fat free versions that are vastly improved in the fat department.

With all of these things in mind, I gave some thought about how to utilise some 2-minute noodles hiding in the pantry, whilst adding some protein reducing the salt and the 2-minute noodle omelette was born.

Layers of freshly sliced onion, tomato and zucchini provide a ton of natural tastiness eliminating the need for adding the flavour sachet to the noodles. Eggs and melted cheese bring all the ingredients together for a super tasty dinner (or even a snack or lunch).

The 2-minute noodle omelette dishes up at least three serves of vegetables, quality protein, carbohydrate and a serve of calcium all in one super easy meal that everyone will love. This omelette is a quick dinner and a great alternative to cruising past and picking up a take-away meal. It’s super- easy on the pocket too. For the video on how it’s all put together you can check it out here.

A quick dinner – Two Minute Noodle Omelette

1 packet of 99% fat free 2 minute noodles, cooked according to directions but without flavour sachet
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
40g grated reduced fat cheese
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

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.

Serves 1 adult or 2-3 kids under 12

Cost = $1.94

Nutrition in the News

In the early part of the year, it shouldn’t be surprising that nutrition and well-being is at the top of the list in the media. Many of us may have been lured into making those rash New Years Resolutions, which lasted for a couple of days at the most and yet, we are still looking for ways in which we can boost our health and well-being. Thats a good thing. I have been doing some writing and contributing for various publications over February and some of the nutrition in the news below might just contain the tip that can help prepare you to do amazing things. This year is the International Year of Pulses and we are not talking about whether your heart is beating, but those little nutritious treasures such as baked beans, lentils, chickpeas and their friends. You can see what I had to say about them as a Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador here. You might also like to check out the resources of Pulse Australia and grab some recipes here too. The school year took off with a bang a couple of weeks ago in Western Australia and ‘Today Tonight’ ran a story on an innovative concept called BakeSw@p – initiated by a group of women and mum’s at a West Australian primary school.  Each parent registered with BakeSw@p brings a plate of their own healthy snacks for school, meets at the designated meet-up spot and swaps their own kids snacks with other parents. Each family then takes home a variety of healthy school snacks for the week.  The story than ran on Channel 7 a couple of weeks ago, generated huge interest – I always love hearing about people being engaged in improving the health of their children by home cooking and limiting the use of prepackaged foods.  You can check out the segment here and what BakeSw@p are all about here. Lastly, lets not forget the annual issue of getting back to work after taking a festive break – this one can most certainly be a tough gig. Getting traction and enthusiasm can be all too elusive at the beginning of the year but never fear, there are ways and means to enhance our focus and concentration while at work. My article over on WatchFit runs through some strategies to do just that – you can take a look here. Not all news is bad right?    

Five Breakfast Idea’s to start your engine

Five Idea's for Breakfast We often hear about breakfast being awarded holy grail status in the race of ‘who is the most important meal in the day’ competition.  Of course, all meals we eat are important but breakfast is right up there don’t you think? I know for a fact that bad things will happen to me and to others if I don’t tick that box in the morning. Not everyone feels the same way as me.  There will be some of you reading this while your stomach is currently doing flip-flops at the thought of eating first thing and there will be others who don’t experience even the tiniest twinge of appetite or hunger upon rolling out of bed. And then for some, the nice idea of breakfast gets trampled in the rush to get out of the door and into work or school. I do love a bit of scientific evidence and thankfully research shows that:

  • People who skip breakfast are significantly heavier than those who do eat it
  • Missing breakfast may diminish mental performance (that’s me right there) and eating breakfast can aid learning (important for kids and adults)
  • Those who set sail without breakfast are more likely to make poor food choices for the rest of the day and in the long-term too
  • We can lose two-thirds of our energy stores overnight while sleeping, which means we can wake up needing to get to the petrol station, stat.

If you are a work in progress in the breakfast department or even if you have it nailed, you might like one of my Five Breakfast Ideas to start your engine.

1. Overnight Oats When you are making dinner, surprise yourself with your efficiency and get breakfast organised at the same time.  In a bowl with a secure lid for easy transport if needed the next day, add 1/3 cup rolled or quick oats + 1/4 cup natural or greek yoghurt + 1/2 cup water + 1 teaspoon chia seeds + 1 tablespoon sultanas + a sprinkle of shredded coconut (optional) + 1/2 grated apple.  Mix the lot and store in the fridge overnight.  The next morning you can add a spoonful of your favourite yoghurt and this bowl of deliciousness can be eaten at home or taken anywhere you need to go. The perfect breakfast on the run. 2. High fibre cereal Some of my favourite and healthy cereals include Weet-Bix, oats made into porridge or natural muesli, Mini-wheats, Shredded wheat, Sultana Bran, All Bran Flakes and Special K Wholegrain Clusters with Protein.  All you need to do is add some reduced fat milk and some sliced fresh fruit or a handful of berries and you have a healthy dose of fibre, calcium and vitamin C to kick-start your day.  If time is short, pack your cereal and fruit and add milk when you get to the office. 3. Whole grain toast or sandwich with power protein 1-2 slices of your favourite whole grain bread, toasted (check the label for a fibre content greater than 8g per 100g serve), topped with 1/4 of an avocado, a handful of baby spinach leaves, 3-4 cherry tomatoes, 1-2 poached or sliced boiled eggs and a dusting of cracked pepper.  Other great protein sources include a small tin of baked beans, 50g smoked salmon or 1/2 cup fresh ricotta. If time says no to eating this combo at home, simply sandwich all ingredients between the bread, brown bag it and take to work to eat as is or pop it in the sandwich press. 4. Super Smoothie Blenders and bullets are one of the most popular appliances in the kitchen these days and for those crazy whirlwind mornings, they can be the answer to your one minute breakfast dilemma. For the basic mixture, throw together 250ml milk of choice + 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 2 tablespoons natural or Greek yogurt + 2 tablespoons skim milk powder or non dairy protein powder (for a protein boost). To this base you could add 1 banana + 2 teaspoons of honey + sprinkle of nutmeg OR 1/2 cup frozen raspberries + 1 tablespoon cacao powder or 1/2 cup frozen blueberries + 1/2 banana + a large handful baby spinach. These super smoothies can be taken with you or enjoyed at home. 5. Chocolate Chia Pudding I love the idea of chia puddings for breakfast but sometimes the flavour (or lack of) leaves me less than inspired.  Last week I shared my recipe for Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding because it is super tasty.  It is also ideal for preparation the night before and the perfect on the go meal (or snack too). If you don’t have time to finish it off with coconut whip like I did, try topping with frozen thawed raspberries or blueberries and a little bit of grated dark chocolate.  D E L I C I O U S

Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding Recipe

chia puddingIt might seem like I am a little obsessed with chia seeds lately as it’s not long ago that I was whipping up a batch of Blueberry Chia Jam. The thing is, I can’t help it.  These little seeds are just so good for our health with their bundle of healthy omega-3 fats, fibre and protein.  Chia seeds can be added to so many dishes, including puddings which are pretty hot right now.  I have tried a few of these, but none that I really loved.  In my search for recipe idea’s I came across a handful that promised the taste and texture of cake batter and given that I was a helicopter kid waiting for that hotly contested mixing spoon, I was quite keen on the idea.  The problem with some of these recipes though, is that although promoted as ‘healthy’ they sometimes contain way too much fat and sugar even if they do originate from a ‘natural’ source. So, I created my own version of the Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding, which I made for breakfast this morning and then launched on the Morning Show on 6PR 882Am radio.  It is very delicious and I think that you might like to try it.

Chocolate Cake Batter Chia Pudding

Ingredients: (Serves 6) 6 tablespoons chia seeds 6 Medjool dates, seeded and chopped 1 x 400 ml can evaporated light milk with coconut 1/4 cup rolled oats 1 tablespoon of nut butter (whichever takes your fancy) 1 x 400 ml can light coconut milk Method: Mix all ingredients together except the coconut milk and place in the refrigerator for one hour.  Place mixture into a blender and add 2 x tablespoons of cacao powder, 1 x teaspoon vanilla extract and a splash of milk if more liquid is required.  Pour into six small bowls, jars or cups and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning: Open the tin of coconut milk and carefully scoop out the solids at the top of the can, placing in a mixing bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and using electric beaters, beat until smooth and soft peaks form. Spoon a little onto the top of each pudding and finish these cute little bundles with a sprinkling of finely grated dark chocolate. Nutrition per serve = 230 calories, 8.5 g fat, 23.5 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein and 250 mg calcium