Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad

It’s probably too late to be saying “Happy New Year” since it’s past the Australia Day long weekend but will say it anyway. Happy New Year! Hope you are all feeling refreshed and ready to give your best in 2019. As January seems to be a time when people decide to form a list of resolutions that they will keep for two weeks, I figured there was no better time than now to share a wonderful healthy recipe for you all.

I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist but there is definitely a good balance of flavours and food groups here – protein, carbs and the good types of fat.

It is also good enough that you can eat it for lunch multiple days in a row! (where normally I strongly dislike doing this in order to avoid having FOMO when someone has a better lunch than me in the office)

The challenge I’ve had in the past with eating salad for lunch is the lack of feeling full afterwards. Turns out if you put enough grain and carby vegetables in, this issue is alleviated.

Alright, enough blabbing. For those who are feeling the whole “new year, new you” mentality or even the “new year, same you” mentality, this salad is for you.

Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad (makes 3 lunches or 4 side dishes)

What you’re going to need

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1 medium sweet potato chopped into small, even pieces

3 baby beetroots (sold in a pack at the supermarket), roughly chopped

50g feta cheese, chopped into small cubes

handful walnuts, roughly chopped

6 basil leaves, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. On a lined baking tray, add the sweet potato, 1 tablespoon of EVOO and salt. Bake until soft and slightly more golden in colour
  2. For the quinoa, I cooked it in the microwave as per the packet instructions. Simply rinse the quinoa in a strainer, then place in a heatproof bowl that fits in the microwave with 1 cup of water (1:2 quinoa water ratio). Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Stir and then pop it back in for 2 minutes. Leave to stand with the lid/plate still on until most of the water has absorbed. Strain remaining water and set aside.
  3. Once the quinoa had cooled down a bit and the sweet potato is ready, place these plus all the other ingredients into a bowl. Mix well until all flavours are combined. Add seasoning where appropriate. Note: if you’re storing this for work lunches, keep the beetroot separated so the colour doesn’t run through the whole salad. 
  4. Serve immediately at a warm temperature or eat cold later on.

quinoa sweet potato salad

 

 

 

Eggplant, Kale and Feta Lasagne

So this one will be a polarising recipe! People tend to love or hate eggplant so if you’re one of the haters, this one isn’t for you sorry!

For the lovers, there is plenty of eggplant goodness! Layered up with lasagne sheets, crushed tomatoes, kale and feta this is perfect for dinner or in my case, work lunches!

This one is so easy I’m going to jump straight into it! Recipe conveniently vegetarian for those interested!

Eggplant, Kale and Feta Lasagne (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

1 medium eggplant, sliced thinly into circles (5mm)

1 cup kale, roughly chopped into small pieces

100 g Danish feta

6 lasagne sheets (I used San Remo)

1 tin tomatoes (whole, peeled Italian tomatoes)

tasty/cheddar cheese, grated

salt and cracked black pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a large measuring jug, add the tin tomatoes. Crush using a stick blender until it becomes a chunky liquid. Add the kale, mix through and set aside.
  3. Heat up some olive oil in a medium sized frypan. Cook the eggplant until it is almost fully cooked. Set aside.
  4. In a large square baking dish, start with 2 lasagne sheets on the bottom. Next, add a layer of eggplant and pour half of the tomato and kale mixture over the top. Spread evenly. Crumble feta evenly across the top then season with salt and pepper. Repeat. For the third layer (the top), place the last two lasagne sheets and then add the grated cheese evenly.
  5. Place in the oven with dish covered in foil for 45 minutes. When there is 10 minutes to go, remove the foil to get crispy golden cheese on the top.
  6. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely before storing for work lunches.*

*This recipe is freezer friendly.

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Spinach Fritters

Firstly, I’d like to say I hope you all had a lovely holiday season! I had a very relaxing three weeks off work where I ventured off to New Zealand for the first time and fell in love with the exquisite landscapes and sense of adventure. Now it’s back to work, routine and most importantly, cooking!

It has been a little while since I’ve shared a recipe and this tends to happen when I get really comfortable with things I have already shared so I end up making mostly the same types of meals. Alas, new year and time for something different!

As usual, I was really keen to leverage on ingredients I had at home with only minimal additional purchases required. I go through phases where I enjoy eating certain types of food and then go off them for a while and in this instance, it’s quinoa. I had half a packet of perfectly good quinoa ready to go but wasn’t feeling a salad or adding it to my granola so went with this recipe today!

For any type of patty or fritter (if you want to keep it vego), potato works as the glue to keep it all together so I used sweet potato to give it some solid flavour!

This recipe is will take approximately 30 minutes as the sweet potato and quinoa require cooking first before making the patties.

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Spinach Fritters (yields 6)

What you’re going to need

1 medium sized sweet potato (mine weight approximately 600 grams), roughly chopped into small pieces

1-1 1/2 cups quinoa, cook according to packet instructions

generous handful baby spinach

zest of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, crushed

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for baking

Method

  1. Bake the sweet potato at 200 degrees Celcius on a lined tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt. At the same time, cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Both of these should take 20 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, add all the ingredients. Pulse blend on medium until well combined but not too smooth. (You don’t want a paste, more of a chunky mixture that can be moulded in your hands)
  3. Using gloves or clean hands, grab a handful of mixture and shape into a ball then flatten with your palm until approximately 1cm thick. Repeat until all mixture has been used.
  4. In a non stick/lightly oiled fry pan that is on a medium heat, add the patties and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. (Note: the mixture is already cooked, this is mainly to add the crispy outside)
  5. Serve with sweet chilli sauce or a simple yoghurt sauce*

Sweet Potato Quinoa and Spinach Fritters


*Simple yoghurt sauce

What you’re going to need

2 heaped tablespoons Natural Yoghurt

juice from ~1/2 a lemon

sea salt

pinch mixed herbs

extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients at desired quantities. Serve cold.

Chicken Pasta Bake

Meal prep madness continues once again. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that I cook a lot of pasta and have absolutely no regrets. I’m all for carbs and I do eat them in moderation even if it might not seem like I do.

What I love about pasta for meal prep is its ability to freeze. For people who want to prep but are relatively time poor or just lazy, something you can bake and cut into even portions works a treat. Alas, pasta bake is a staple meal for me.

I parked the tinned tuna for the time being and moved onto chicken. My second favourite cooking technique (after baking) is poaching! Poached chicken is a no fail technique for perfectly juicy chicken. I elevated this dish by poaching my chicken in chicken stock! If you do have the time, I would recommend making your own chicken stock (I will put a recipe below in case you’re interested***). Poaching in water will still render you with perfectly juicy chicken so don’t fret if you don’t want to use stock.

So pasta, chicken… what else? This time around I threw in some bacon, spinach and mushrooms to balance out the dish. Then comes the sauce that combines this altogether. My go to for pasta bakes is bechamel. So if this is all sounding like it will tantalise your taste buds, here is the recipe below.

Chicken Pasta Bake (serves 4)

What you’re going to need 

2 heaped cups of Fusilli pasta (I have used San Remo)

1 small chicken breast (~150-200 grams)

2 slices short cut bacon, thinly sliced

3 small cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

handful spinach, thinly sliced

cheddar cheese, grated for topping

Bechamel

2 tablespoons margarine

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock (or water) to a simmer. Place the chicken breast in and ensure it is fully submerged. Cook for 25 minutes
  3. Whilst the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Set aside once cooked.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the liquid and set to cool slightly on a clean chopping board. Once safe to touch, use a fork to shred the breast meat. Set aside.
  5. For the bechamel, in a small non stick saucepan, melt the margarine on a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until flour has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk until well combined. Add back to the heat and whisk until mixture has thickened.
  6. Using the large saucepan used for the chicken (rinse first), add all the ingredients except for the cheddar cheese. Mix well until all ingredients are covered in the sauce.
  7. In a large baking dish, pour the mixture and spread evenly. Top with grated cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and darkened (note that the bacon, spinach and mushrooms go into the mixture raw and require cooking whilst in the oven).
  8. Remove from the oven and either serve immediately or allow to cool completely before packaging up for the freezer.

Chicken Pasta Bake


*** Basic chicken stock recipe

What you’re going to need

1/2 kilo chicken wings/chicken drumsticks/cheap cut chicken with bones

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 carrot roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

12 black peppercorns

salt to season

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat up some olive oil on a medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned.
  2. Add all the other ingredients as well as ~2 litres of water (enough to cover the ingredients but not too much excess as this will dull down the flavour).
  3. Place on a lid then set and forget! (well not completely but for a while). This gets better with time so give yourself a couple of hours minimum to develop a strong flavour!

Chicken stock is freezer friendly so save your leftovers!

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells

Another weekend, another opportunity to stock my freezer with prepared meals for work lunches! Yes there is more to my life than meal prep I promise but I have always found cooking quite therapeutic so it’s always a breeze for me to prepare my own food for work and not worry about foraging every lunch time!

I find at home that we end up with bits and pieces leftover from where we have tried new recipes or have just decided to experiment with different ingredients. As a result, we at my household tend to end up with random portions of ingredients which often get neglected or unfortunately thrown out if they’re there for long enough…

Alas, leftover meal prep is my favourite. Ideally with this approach, you only need to purchase maybe one or two ingredients to make a complete dish. In this case, I only bought some basil as it is a seasonal herb and our current garden supply has died off. Our lovely next door neighbour kindly donated some of her homegrown spinach which I put to use straight away. An ingredient that goes perfectly with spinach, feta! Feta is basically a staple in my house. With these and a couple of other bits and pieces, we have a dish!

Let’s get into it!

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

12 giant pasta shells

1 bunch spinach, stems removed

150 g feta

1/4 cup walnuts

6 basil leaves

cheddar cheese, grated for topping

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Cook pasta shells as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a pulse blender/food processer, add the spinach, feta, walnuts, basil, salt and pepper. Blitz until well combined and a chunky paste is formed.
  4. Have a medium sized baking dish ready. Carefully hold a pasta shell (as they are still very hot) and place a spoonful of mixture inside. Place inside the baking dish. Continue until all shells and mixture have been used. Once all in, place as much or as little grated cheddar on top as you like.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese on top has melted and darkened.
  6. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and then package up in the freezer.

Spinach and Feta Pasta Shells

 

 

Zucchini and Feta Slice

I’ve been a bit slack with meal prepping lately. I’m working down at Barangaroo, Sydney at the moment and have just been overwhelmed with all the amazing food options there! (definitely a mark up from other areas of the CBD though). Anyway, have decided to get myself back on track and have dedicated this weekend to meal prepping my heart out.

I did some grocery shopping the other night and managed to grab a bunch of veggies that were super cheap! This included zucchini.

Zucchini is quite versatile and I love the taste of it. I wanted something that I could easily portion and freeze and so zucchini slice was the idea of the moment. My mum used to make this all the time in the past so I have adapted her recipe to suit what we had available in the fridge.

Zucchini and Feta Slice

What you’re going to need

6 eggs

1 cup self raising flour, sifted

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium zucchinis, grated

50 g feta

2 slices ham

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large bowl, add the eggs and sifted flour and whisk until well combined. Add all other ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. In a greased square baking dish, pour the mixture and gently shake the dish to make the top even.
  4. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre.

And that’s it! Easy peasy.

Zucchini Slice