Quirky Quinoa Salad

We have posted about how much we love the super grain Quinoa before (check it out here) so I thought we should post another recipe for you all to try!  I made this for a family Summer BBQ we had last weekend.  I knew my sisters would love it however I was less certain about the boys in my family.  Our boys love salad – but they are very quick to tell you how much they hate the way we add ‘all that other junk’ (i.e chickpeas, fruit, noodles) to them – they just want normal green salads ‘like mum makes it’.  Time to think outside the box guys!

The result? My husband was at first cautious about this strange looking salad but I think it was proof that he loved it when he scoffed all of the salad leftovers before any of the others the following day!  SUCCESS!

If you’d like to make this more substantial (i,e as a complete meal), add some chicken or boiled eggs. Perfect for lunches as it can be pre-made just leave the dressing in a separate container until ready to eat.

This salad is GLUTEN FREE, LOW GI HIGH FIBRE.  Leave out the white part of the spring onions and the chickpeas to make it LOW FODMAPS.

quinoa salad

What you need…

  • 170g (1 cup) mixed coloured quinoa as desired, soaked in enough water to cover for minimum 30 minutes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tin (425g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ sweet potato or pumpkin (approx. 250g), sliced approx. 1 cm thick pieces
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 4 spring onion/shallots, sliced on the angle
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced thinly
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 100 g reduced fat feta, cubed
  • 100g (approx) mixed toasted nuts and seeds, (I used walnut, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pepitas lightly roasted in the oven on a baking tray)
  • ½ bag mixed salad greens or baby spinach
  • Few Italian parsley leaves (optional)

 

Dressing:

  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) tamari or soy sauce
  • 40g fresh lemon juice (or juice of approx. 2 small lemons)
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil

 

How the magic happens…

Doing it the traditional way:

  1. Combine water and quinoa in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat chargrill or oven grill on med-high. Spray lightly with oil. Cook the sweet potato/pumpkin for 8-10 minutes or until slightly tender. Break up roughly into large pieces.
  3. Add the all other ingredients to the quinoa.
  4. Blend together the lemon juice, garlic, oil and soy sauce until well combined.  Add the dressing to the quinoa mixture.
  5. Toss salad gently.  Top with extra seeds and serve!

 

Thermomix magic:

  1. Drain quinoa and place into simmering basket. Fill Thermomix bowl to 1L mark with water and set basket into bowl.
  2. Place the lid on the bowl, with Varoma on top, and pumpkin/sweet potato spread evenly in Varoma dish. Ensure it is spread apart enough that steam can get through.
  3. Steam quinoa 18 min/Varoma temp/speed 2. Remove basket from bowl and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the salad by combining all remaining salad ingredients.
  5. Make dressing by placing all ingredients into Thermomix bowl and blending 20 sec/speed 8.
  6. Pour over prepared salad and add quinoa. Toss gently.
  7. Garnish with additional seeds, nuts, spring onions etc.

 

Recipe inspired by Quirky Cooking and Tenina

 

Date and Almond Protein Balls

I always get asked by my clients for some easy and healthy snack options and when I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try it. A great thing about this recipe is that it uses Cacao (pronounced ka-kow). I love Cacao powder.  If you don’t know much about Cacao, it was eaten by the ancient Mayans and is considered a “Superfood”.  It has 14 times more antioxidants than red wine, 21 times more than green tea and 7 times more than even dark chocolate!  It is never heated above 40°C, so all of the cacao’s natural goodness is retained. Use it instead of cocoa powder to add a rich chocolately taste to your favourite recipes (like this one!)

These protein balls are very easy to throw together and can be kept in the fridge for those times you feel like something a little chocolately but healthy and guilt free.  I carry these in a zip-lock bag to nibble on between clients when I don’t have time for a proper snack break.  Try them and tell me you don’t love them too! 

PROTEIN BALLS RECIPE

Ingredients

330 g raw whole almonds

protein ball ingredients

1/4 cup other seed – such as linseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds

60 g vanilla protein powder (low sugar)

8-10 pitted dates

2 tablespoon cocoa/cacao powder

½ cup desiccated or shredded coconut

3 tsp natural vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

1/4 cup of water

 

 

How the magic happens…

  1. Add almonds, seeds, protein powder, cinnamon and cacao into food processor bowl and process until untiprotein ball mixturel the mix looks crumbly.
  2. Add dates, coconut and vanilla extract and process until mixture starts to come together.
  3. Add water while processing until mixture comes together and looks sticky.
  4. Roll into 3 cm diameter balls.
  5. Store in fridge. They last up to 4 weeks.

 

Variations…

  • Instead of almonds, try other nuts like walnuts, brazil nuts or cashews.
  • Add other raw seeds such as sunflower seeds and chia seeds to add extra nutritional value – especially protein and good fats. Around 1/4 cup would work well.
  • To make the balls FODMAP friendly, swap dates for dried figs, sultanas or dried berries like goji, cranberries or blueberries.
  • Include 1-2 tablespoons of a super greens powder like Vital Greens to add vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and probiotic goodness!

Special Notes…

  • Gluten free
  • High protein
  • Low sugar
  • High fibre
  • Low FODMAP (option)
  • Dairy free (depending on protein powder used)

 

Adapted from a recipe on the Thermomix Recipe Community.

Easy food swaps to a healthier you!

To have healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be quite as complicated as you may think. There are some tasty and really simple swaps you can do to achieve it.

One very simple swap, which I use every day, is instead of having butter or margarine, swap it for a thin spread of avocado – cheaper and definitely tastier!

Snacking on a healthier option can sometimes seem impossible with all the quick and easy fixes around, especially when you’re in the office and you spy the cookie jar!  But instead of having that biscuit swap it for some fruit, a cup of tea or a handful of natural nuts which are high in essential fats and a good source of fibre.

Some other really simple swaps you can do are;

  • having wholegrain bread instead of white bread
  • swap the ice cream after dinner for a low fat yoghurt you’ve frozen yourself or a fruity sorbet – lemon tastes amazing!
  • have a natural untoasted cereal rich in wholegrains and fibre
  • having cut up celery, carrot or capsicum with a salsa instead of a dip and crackers
  • instead of getting a large coffee, get a small one – and make it on skim!
  • swap a packet of lollies for a small punnet of berries such as blueberries as they can help protect your heart and improve your cholesterol
  • swap a handful of potato chips for a small bowl of plain popcorn and season it with something like cinnamon to give it a little flavour
  • for breakfast, make a smoothie instead of having buttered toast

Here is a great recipe using blueberries that I found on the Australia Blueberry Growers’ Association,

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup reduced fat milk
  • 125g punnet fresh blueberries
  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup reduced fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 small mint leaves

Method:

1. Place milk, blueberries, mango, yoghurt and mint into a jug. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Note: Mango can be replaced with other seasonal fruits such as bananas or
peaches which complement blueberries perfectly.

It is easy to make swaps toward a healthier you!  For even more great ideas, visit the ‘Swap It’ website.  Start to make the swap today!
Recipes. (2012). Retrieved July 15, 2012, from http://www.australianblueberries.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11:blueberry-and-mango-smoothie&catid=1:recipes&Itemid=37

Swap tips. (2012). Retried July 17, 2012, from http://swapit.gov.au/ways-to-swap/swap-tips#morning-nutrition

Low Carb Spaghetti Bolognaise

Serves – 4

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garli,c chopped
2 x 120g lean mince (try kangaroo!)
1 large carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 x 500g jar low carb pasta sauce – Leggo’s spaghetti sauce with beef  OR  tinned tomato passata
6 green zucchini
6 yellow zucchini
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of sea salt (optional)
light spray of olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in a little water until softened. Add the mince and cook, stirring constantly for 5 mins, until browned. Add carrot and celery and cook for a further 5 minuted, adding a little water if necessary.
  2. Stir through low carb pasta sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 mins.
  3. While sauce is cooking, use a potato peeler on the zucchini to create spaghetti
  4. Just before serving, blanch zucchini in a pinch of sea salt (optional) and bring water to the boil for 1 min to heat through, then drain.
  5. Toss with a light spray of olive oil (optional) and a tablespoon of the parsley.  Keep warm.
  6. Season saute with pepper. Fold in the rest of the chopped parsley just before serving.
  7. Divide zucchini spaghetti into serving bowls and top with bolognaise sauce.

 

OTHER IDEAS:

 ** Alternative to making spaghetti bolognaise is to make mince into a meatball mixture.  Add the below ingredients to the mince and roll to form meatballs.  Cook in a non-stick fry pan until becoming golden brown then continue at Step 2 to continue cooking meatballs in the tomato pasta sauce.

  • 1 egg
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • ¼ tsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk
  • pepper,
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • thyme

** Alternative to zucchini is to use carrot, cabbage (prepared in the same way) or SPAGHETTI SQUASH.  Directions for preparation of spaghetti squash as below.  (This was inspired by my client Gill who gave me her home grown spaghetti squash!)

  1. Prick the spaghetti squash all over with a skewer so it will not burst while baking.
  2. Place whole squash in a shallow baking pan.
  3. Bake in preheated 180*C oven for 1 hour.
  4. When cool enough to handle, cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a serrated knife.
  5. Scoop the seeds and fibrous strings from the centre of the cooked spaghetti squash
  6. Gently scrape the tines of a kitchen fork around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands.
  7. Cooked spaghetti squash is usually served with a sauce or gravy because the flesh is very bland in flavour.

 

Crunch & colour – Beef, beet, lentil and walnut salad

My sisters and niece came over for a surprise home warming lunch at our new house and I had to whip something up rather quickly.  I found some leftover beef strips in thr fridge and so I tossed together this amazing salad.  It is a very well rounded salad with crunch and colour – plus it is very filling.  Love the lentils and walnuts for the fibre and protein, not to mention the antioxidant punch you will get from the coloured veg such as the beetroot, sweet potato, tomato and baby spinach.  The best thing yet, it tasted even better for lunch the next day.  Enjoy!

 

BEEF, BEETS, WALNUTS AND LENTIL SALAD

[gluten free, low carb, high protein; omit onion and garlic (infuse in oil), beetroot and lentils for low FODMAP option]

Cooking Time   15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 500g beef fillet
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 medium beetroot, trimmed  OR  425g can baby beets, drained, halved
  • 400g can lentils, drained, rinsed
  • 1/2 sweet potato, chopped
  • 120g baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 75g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. If using fresh beetroot:  Preheat oven to 200°C/180C°C fan-forced. Wrap each beetroot in foil. Place on a baking tray. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Set aside to cool. Remove and discard foil. Wearing gloves, peel beetroot. Cut into 4cm pieces.
  2. Heat small amount of oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan or chargrill over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and 1 tbspn balsamic vinegar. Cook for 1-2 minute or until fragrant.
  3. Add sweet potato.  Cook until tender.
  4. Add lentils and beetroot. Cook, tossing, for 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove to a plate.
  5. Add beef to frying pan. Cook beef until cooked to your liking. Remove to a plate to cool slightly.
  6. Combine spinach, mint, feta, tomato and walnuts in a      large bowl. Thinly slice beef. Add to salad. Add beetroot and lentil mixture.
  7. Combine vinegars and remaining oil in a jug. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad. Toss to combine. Serve.