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 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.

 

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!

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!

Chicken Parmigiana Makeover

There are not many people who don’t love a good Chicken in Pyjamas aka Chicken Parmigiana is there? The age-old parmi is an Italian recipe that has most definitely become an Australian pub favourite.

The thing is, the calories in that baby are right up there and can range anywhere between 400 – 800 calories depending on the recipe and who is preparing it. These numbers equate to between a third to half of my total daily calorie or energy intake and I actually like to eat several times a day, not just one meal.

Enter the makeover.

Making over such an iconic dish needs to be healthy but above all needs to taste good. I know this might be sacrilege for the die-hard fans but trust me, this is actually good.

Let’s start with chicken, which is an excellent protein source, an excellent source of vitamins such as niacin and contains important minerals including iron, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium. It is essential that the chicken used in this recipe is moist and juicy just like the regular Chicken Parmigiana. One of the secret ingredients here is cooked and pureed cauliflower combined with a little Parmesan cheese topped off with the classic tomato sauce and grated cheese.

Altering the traditional recipe just slightly means a huge reduction in the fat and calorie content. Believe me, this one tastes great, ticks the nutrition boxes and can be made in moments.

Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients:
1 chicken breast, sliced through horizontally into two pieces
2 large cauliflower florets, steamed and pureed
1 cup of your favourite pasta sauce
¼ cup grated reduced fat cheddar cheese

Method:
Place chicken breast pieces on a lined oven tray. Cover with the pasta sauce, followed by the pureed cauliflower, and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Cook in a moderate oven for 35 minutes or until cooked through and golden on top.

Click here to watch me make this super easy chicken parmigiana in a quick video.

In my house, this is a crowd favourite. Delicious and healthy – Buon appetito!

Lemon and Coconut Slice – a delicious makeover

There are some recipes that just about everyone loves and I think that the good old Lemon and Coconut Slice is one of them. It is the perfect marriage of buttery biscuit base with a zesty lemon topping scattered with coconut. This delicious slice can often be seen making its entrance at afternoon teas, bakeries, high teas and grandparents abodes.

Of course, this moorish treat is not something one should eat every single day but imagine if there was a healthier alternative that tastes just as delicious but is low in sugar, full of healthy fats and has a secret anti-inflammatory ingredient. I’m not teasing because I have just the thing that ticks both the nutrition and taste boxes. Really.

Lemon and Coconut Slice

200g raw unsalted cashews
100g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons turmeric
Juice and rind of one lemon

Place all ingredients into a food processor and whiz together until well combined. Press into a 15 x 20cm lined container and chill overnight. Cut into 12 pieces and serve.

If you would like to see me making this slice in action just click here now.

Turmeric might seem like a strange ingredient to add to a sweet recipe but because it doesn’t have an overpowering flavour, it works. Turmeric is a very distinctively coloured spice that has been around for thousands of years and is right up there in the ancient stakes. Although traditionally used in curries and savoury dishes, in recent times turmeric has found a new place in golden hued lattes, teas, tonics and smoothies in many cafes around the globe. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and it’s this compound that has been linked to many health benefits including:

  • Natural anti-inflammatory properties which can assist with inflammatory related disease
  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Possible breakdown of the amyloid plaques in the brain that contribute to dementia and Alzheimers Disease
  • Some research shows that curcumin may help to prevent some cancers by reducing the size and number of tumours
  • Helps to fight colds and flu’s
  • Assists with digestion by increasing the production of bile
  • Possible decrease in blood sugar levels in diabetics

In it’s natural form, turmeric is a root from the ginger family (and does in fact look very similar to raw ginger) and the roots and bulbs are generally boiled and dried to make the powder. The root can also be grated like ginger and added to food or taken as a supplement in the form of capsules, drops or fluid extract.

The other great thing about this Lemon and Coconut slice is the healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and the bundle of resistant starch that comes with the cashews. It’s no surprise that as the name would suggest, resistant starch is resistant to digestion and nourishes our gut bacteria, which naturally helps us to maintain our intestinal health. But that topic is another story for another day.

For now, spend the grand total of five minutes that it takes to make this Lemon and Coconut Slice with the added benefits of turmeric and sit back and listen to the ooh’s and aah’s of everyone that samples it.