Poached Chicken Salad with Lemon Herb Dressing

We’re into Week 2 of lighter lunches. So far, so good. Getting enough flavour in there to keep me entertained.

I’ve always been a big fan of poached chicken. I tried it for the first time a few years ago at work funnily enough (yes, sometimes office catering is decent) and I really liked it! As someone who always quadruple checks that my chicken is cooked properly, i feel this is a pretty foolproof way to cook it properly and have it taste good. I do use breast meat but it still stays incredibly juicy even if you feel like you may have poached it for too long.

I have used similar ingredients to my other salad (sweet potato was $2.50 per kg on the weekend!) and I am obsessed with the Coles brand Marinated Danish Feta so that made a comeback.

Alright, let’s get stuck in.

Poached Chicken Salad with Lemon Herb Dressing (makes 3 lunches)

What you’re going to need

Salad

2 chicken breasts

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup quinoa

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into small, even pieces

generous handful baby spinach

30g feta

Dressing (rough estimates, adjust to taste)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano, sage and parsley)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

pinch of salt

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, place the chicken stock and breasts on a medium heat to poach. (Note: Cooking time will vary but if you are using fresh not frozen chicken, it will take at least 30 minutes. Ensure you have enough liquid to cover the chicken. Add tap water to adjust.)
  2. Whilst the chicken is cooking, roast the sweet potato in the oven with olive oil and salt to season. Cook until you can stick a fork through and it comes out easily.
  3. While your chicken and sweet potato are cooking, prepare the dressing. In a jug, add all of the dressing ingredients to taste. Whisk well and store in a jar/reusable container.
  4. After the chicken has finished poaching, remove from the saucepan and set onto a chopping board. Keep the liquid as this can be used to cook the quinoa.
  5. Cook quinoa as per packet instructions. (Note: I personally find quinoa pretty bland and tedious to cook. However, I have found cooking smaller quantities in the microwave works wonders. Added bonus, use the chicken stock to add more flavour.)
  6. Once everything is cooked and cooled slightly, you can start to assemble. Slice the chicken into even pieces. Place into a large bowl.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix well. If serving straight away, add as much dressing as desired. If storing for later, add dressing each time you serve it to avoid the dressing sitting at the bottom of your salad.

 

Pasta Salad with Greens

It has been way too long since my last post. Life got busy but I am so glad to be back.

I’ve had a bit of a change with my meal prepping routine for work lunches. Have shifted from fully loading my freezer to prepping fresh food for at least 3 meals of the week and then I can delve into my freezer stash.

I’m a big believer that a salad should always have carbs (don’t @ me). These can be any carbs you want, whatever makes you feel happy. I chose pasta this week but mixed it in with plenty of other tasty stuff.

I absolutely loved this salad and I hope you do too.

Pasta Salad with Greens (makes 3 lunches)

What you’re going to need

3 cups pasta

generous handful baby spinach

100 g green beans, chopped into smaller pieces

3 slices prosciutto, chopped into smaller pieces

handful kalamata olives

20 g feta (or as much as you like…you do you)

juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

cracked pepper

Method

  1. Cook pasta as per packet instructions.
  2. Whilst pasta is cooking, cook the prosciutto and beans in a fry pan with a small amount of olive oil. Remove pan from the heat once cooked.
  3. Once pasta is cooked, place the pasta in the pan with the prosciutto and beans. Add in the spinach and olives and stir well.
  4. Add in the lemon, olive oil and cracked pepper to taste. Top with feta.

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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

 

 

 

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad

Long time no see! I have been cheating on my kitchen with my credit card lately and it is now time to put a stop to that! I feel like my latest obsession is cheese (well it’s been a long running thing but it’s definitely concentrated at the moment). Last week, a couple of friends and i ventured out to Carriageworks for Bon Fromage a cheese festival which were giving out free samples of a diverse spread of European cheeses! It was actually heaven and unlike most places that offer freebies, this was a table absolutely filled with all you can eat cheese. It was the place of dreams.

Alas, stemming from that, i have eating a lot of haloumi lately because a) it’s delicious b) it serves as a filling sub in for meat c) it cooks in less than 2 minutes! The only downside to haloumi is that it doesn’t travel well. It is best eaten straight off the pan. So for my Sunday lunch where I am at home, it works a treat.

Grocery day today means I had minimal supplies in the fridge which is perfect for me since I find I am the most creative when I have a  limited number of ingredients. (very Masterchef mystery box type of thing).

If haloumi and sweet potato are sounding good to you so far, keep on reading and you can whip this salad up for yourself!

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad (serves 1)

What you’re going to need

1 small sweet potato (~ 100 grams), sliced small and evenly

75 grams haloumi, sliced evenly

4 perino tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways (cherry tomatoes would work here too)

handful mixed green leaves

1 tablespoon walnuts, roughly chopped

extra virgin olive oil for baking + additional for drizzle

salt and pepper, to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a lined baking tray add the sweet potato and tomatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil and bake for ~ 10 minutes (baking time will vary depending on how big you cut your potato!)
  3. With two minutes to go, cook the haloumi in a non stick fry pan on a medium heat. (Haloumi burns easily so don’t take your eyes off it)
  4. Once the haloumi is cooked, plate up everything and finish off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad

 

Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

For the most part, I am trying to eat healthy. I am quite a bit fussy about salads though. They can just be so ordinary and unfulfilling. I always need something to give them a bit more substance. For example, quinoa, pearl couscous or a starchy vegetable like in this case, sweet potato. I cook with sweet potato quite a lot because it’s flavoursome, healthy and most importantly filling.

I was out shopping earlier for groceries and noticed that my local store had pomegranates! I’ve eaten them numerous times but have never actually bought one. Decided to take the plunge and buy one. With a bit of manual labour, I managed to get out all the seeds ready for use. I normally don’t like fruit in my savoury salads but pomegranates are the exception. So in went a handful of fresh pomegranate seeds. Now for a dressing. I wanted something tangy but not with too much vinegar so went with a honey mustard style dressing. Easy to make with ingredients that most people will have in their pantries staples.

Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

What you’re going to need

Salad

½ gold sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small even pieces

Generous handful of mixed green salad leaves

1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds

20 g feta cheese

Dressing (note: these are rough measures so taste you as go until you’re happy)

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a baking tray, add the sweet potato with a drizzle of oil and pinch of salt. Bake until soft. (15-20 minutes roughly)
  3. Whilst the potato is baking, place all salad ingredients on your serving plate.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined (you’ll find that the dressing will split if you leave it sitting on the bench so whisk just before serving as well)
  5. Once potatoes are cooked, allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving with the rest of the salad and dressing.

 

 Sweet Potato Salad

 

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

It’s my first week in Sydney for work in what seems like ages! This means meal prep is back on to start saving my coin for my holiday to New York City early next year. I do like salads for lunch, but only if they’re filled with lots of good carbs! A bowl of lettuce and raw vegetables can fill me up for a total of about 45 minutes.

My favourite salad bulky items I love to use are quinoa and sweet potato. It’s amazing how much you can stretch one medium sized sweet potato. This batch of salad I’ve made is enough food for three days worth of lunches! Perfect.

To compliment the sweet potato and quinoa, I have paired it up with a balsamic mustard dressing. Homemade dressings are the way to go to avoid all the preservatives and other assorted ingredients that end up in off the shelf dressings.

So here it is!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

What you’re going to need

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into even pieces

1/2 cup quinoa (I used tricolour for this recipe but feel free to use white, black or red)

1/4 cup pistachios, shelled

50 grams danish feta, roughly chopped

fresh rosemary

fresh thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing (to taste but here are some rough measurements)

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

cracked salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a lined baking tray, add the chopped sweet potato, olive oil, rosemary and thyme. Season with cracked salt then place tray on a high shelf in the oven.
  3. Whilst the potato is baking, prepare quinoa according to packet instructions. In addition, prepare the dressing in a small bowl/measuring jug
  4. With ideal timing, the sweet potato and quinoa should be ready at the same time. Set aside and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  5. In a large bowl place the sweet potato, quinoa, pistachios and feta. Add dressing to taste.
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

sweet-potato-and-quinoa-salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

So it’s the day that you’re due to do the weekly grocery shop, you open the fridge to what looks like a measly bunch of ingredients which will not pair up together. Wrong. Well let’s just say 85% of the time, I reckon you can still whip up something delicious even if it seems like all you have is the stuff that gets forgotten about in the fridge until the end of the week.

Of course, the dream would be plan meals so efficiently for the week that you end up with nothing left on grocery day. However, as most people work and have other activities planned for their days, there often isn’t much planning around this.

So instead of forcing yourself into planning your meals a week in advance which may not stick, try introducing yourself to the creative opportunity of leftover ingredients. (In saying that, if you are finding every week that you are throwing out the same unused ingredient, then cross that item right off your shopping list please).

Today, I was going in blind. I really hadn’t looked in the fridge properly for a few days and so it was very much a mystery as to what to create for lunch today. I had just arrived home from martial arts training so was craving something fresh and filling. I didn’t want to wait around all day for my food so I saw the cauliflower and used that as a base for the dish. The rest was just odd bits and pieces. Slowly, a dish was coming together.

Cauliflower. Check. Fundamental salad ingredients. Check. Dressing? It is always a satisfying feeling to make your own dressings from scratch. You know everything that goes into it, it will be fresh and most importantly, it will taste fabulous. With dressings I find measurements a little bit redundant at times, it’s a bit of a taste as you go experiment until the flavours match your palette.

Okay so let’s have a look at what I created today from a bits and pieces collection of ingredients.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad (serves 2) Cook + Prep time: 20 minutes

What you’re going to need

Salad 

1/4 floret cauliflower, cut into small pieces

generous handful mixed leaves/salad mix/lettuce

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half longways

1 medium cucumber, grated

2 teaspoons pine nuts

Dressing

1 tablespoon tahini

1 teaspoon honey

extra virgin olive oil, to taste

salt, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Place the cauliflower on a lined baking tray with a small drizzle of olive oil and salt to season.
  3. Place in the oven and bake until golden.
  4. While the cauliflower is baking, prepare all the other ingredients and make the dressing. I decided to season my tomatoes with cracked pepper just for an added level of flavour.
  5. In a bowl, throw in the mixed leaves, tomatoes and cucumber. Place the baked cauliflower on top with the pine nuts and then drizzle the dressing over the top.

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Israeli Couscous Salad

Long time no see! (Apologies for that). I am most definitely still cooking away but have been mostly making the same things so figured I’d wait until I could bring something fresh to the table. Alas, my Sunday lunch!

I’ve eaten Israeli Couscous numerous times and have absolutely loved it! I stumbled across it in a supermarket today and thought “Yep, there’s a lunch idea!” So, since Sydney’s weather is doing its usual four seasons in one week thing and today happened to be a cold, dreary day filled with rain, figured a warm lunch with roast vegetables would be perfect! I also thought it would be an amazing accompaniment to have a layer of hummus at the bottom to mix in with all the goodness that’s already happening! Completely optional but highly recommend!

This dish can be made in about 20 minutes, stored in the fridge for later consumption and for future work lunches (YES!). So here it is:

Israeli Couscous Salad (serves two or one very hungry person – no judgement here)

What you’re going to need

1/2 cup Israeli Couscous

50 g grams shredded chicken breast (I used leftover BBQ chicken for this)

50 grams pumpkin, skin removed and cut into 2 cm cubes

5 cherry tomatoes, halved

handful rocket

20 grams feta cheese

half handful parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt, to season

Optional: heaped wooden spoonful hummus (preferably homemade – click the link here for my recipe:  Hummus)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Place pumpkin on a lined baking tray with the olive oil and salt. Bake until soft.
  3. Cook couscous according to packet instructions.
  4. When the pumpkin and couscous have about five minutes to go, throw the cherry tomatoes onto the same baking tray with the pumpkin and mix in with the oil and salt.
  5. Once the vegetables and couscous are cooked, you are ready for assembly. On a plate, spread the hummus in an even, thick layer.
  6. Then, in a separate bowl (or in the saucepan you used for the couscous), mix the couscous, chicken, pumpkin, tomatoes, rocket and parsley until well combined.
  7. Place bowl mixture on top of the hummus then serve with crumbled feta cheese and some additional parsley if you’re feeling it!

Israeli Couscous Salad

Tahini Dressing

You know when you just have a vision of something in your head and then when you go to make it, it 100% meets your expectations? Well that happened today with this ahhhhmazing tahini salad dressing I made using one of my favourite brands Mayver’s Foods! My tahini stash is mostly reserved for the hummus production in my household, but I thought i’d try whip up something with it just because there was just enough in the jar to create something new! This dressing is gluten free and dairy free! I’ve used it in a quick salad I whipped up for lunch today featuring quinoa, carrot, tomato and rocket!

Tahini Dressing (yields about 1/4 cup)

What you’re going to need

1 tablespoon Tahini

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 clove garlic, crushed

sea salt and cracked pepper to season

Method

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until desired consistency is achieved.

Easy as pie!

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Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

So I bought a box of sweet potatoes from the markets a couple of weeks ago. They’re still in great condition but it is taking me an eternity to eat all of them! I love them simply roasted, the flavour is phenomenal. To create a bit more depth and texture for my lunch today, I decided to incorporate my roasted spuddies into a salad. This also comes in handy when it’s grocery day and you’re left with the bare minimum in your fridge…half a tomato, leftover rocket, half an avocado that I had forgotten about until this morning… You catch my drift. Obviously you can make this anytime of the week and not just when you’re fridge is looking bare. This salad has no dressing and I find that it doesn’t need it as the flavours all marry together quite nicely without the extra liquid element! If you’re looking for salad inspo, try this one out

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

What you’re going to need

1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced 0.5cm thick

generous handful rocket

1 tomato, sliced then quartered

1/2 avocado mashed (save washing up by mashing the avocado whilst it’s still in the skin with a fork)

handful walnuts (or any nut of choice)

10 basil leaves, chopped finely

drizzle olive oil

sprinkle sea salt

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius

2. Place your sweet potato on a lined baking tray. Lightly drizzle some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for about 15 minutes

3. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, you can combine all the other ingredients except the avocado and basil.

4. When the potatoes are ready, add them to the rest of the ingredients. Top with a heaped spoon of mashed avo and garnish with the basil.

Clean and simple

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