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Ratatouille – a celebration of Summer Vegetables.

Summer Vegetables match perfectly with the weather tending to be lighter and more enjoyable for this time of the year.  This ratatouille recipe combines all vegetables that are all in season in Summer.  This means you’ll be buying them at their cheapest and freshest, which means they’ll pack a bigger nutrient punch too.

Ratatouille

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 med-lge Onions quartered & sliced

2 tspns extra virgin olive oil

2 med zucchinis sliced in quarters lengthwise and chopped in 1cm thick pieces

1sml or ½ lge eggplant cubed (place on paper towel sprinkle with Himalayan salt, sweat for 10mins rinse and pat dry)

2 cloves garlic

1 red (or green, I prefer red) capsicum chopped into 1cm sq pieces

10 mushrooms quartered

3 celery stalks including younger leaves sliced

½ cup fresh basil chopped

¼ bunch continental parsley chopped

4 ripe roma tomatoes chopped (remove skins by cutting a cross in base & plunging in boiling water until the split opens)

1 tblspn Mirin

Celtic of Himalayan salt

Chilli (to taste)

Toppings

Roasted pepitas (Heavy based pan, heat and add pepitas and cook for about 3 mins shaking pan occasionally to prevent seeds burning, they will pop & puff up)

Method

Place onions in large pot, pour olive oil over and sauté for 2 mins, add zucchini, eggplant, capsicum & garlic and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes, then add mushrooms, celery, tomatoes, herbs, mirin and seasoning to taste. Cook for a further 10-15mins until tender but not mushy.

Serving suggestions

Ratatouille can be enjoyed on its own or as an accompaniment to some protein use as a topping to baked potato or cauliflower rice.

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Tasty Healthy Sausage Rolls (vegetarian)

Vegetarian sausage rolls (they’ll never know)

This is a recipe from Lindy a fabulous ayurvedic cook that I have served up at parties to ardent meat eaters who never guessed they were meat free.

Tempeh is a fermented soy product which acts as a prebiotic, improving the balance of your gut bacteria.

Makes 15 small sausage rolls.

Filling:

1 tbs olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

200 – 250 gms tempeh ( I often use a mildly marinated tempeh for more flavour)

2 tbs tamari

Generous 1/2 teaspoon of fresh sage, majoram, thyme and oregano. ( Again I use more – usually a good heaped teaspoon of each, sometimes more)

1/4 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp fennel seeds ( again I use more as I love fennel)

1 1/2  tbs flour

1/2 grated medium carrot

1 and 1/2 butter puff pastry sheets

Method

Preheat oven to 200

Cut the sheet of pastry down the middle – you should now have 3 sheets 4 – 41/2  inches wide and 9 1/2  inches long. The pastry needs to be very cold to work with otherwise it is very difficult to roll when too soft. I normally  work with it semi de frosted.

Place pastry on baking tray lined with baking paper and keep pastry well chilled until ready to use.

Filling:

Heat olive oil and gently saute onion for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook gently for another minute until onion has softened. Tip onion/garlic into food processor and add remaining ingredients and pulse until just combined, taking care not to overmix.

Divide the filling into 3 portions. Mould each portion into a sausage shape and lay down the middle of each pastry half. Gently fold the pastry over, making a nicer tight roll.

Cut each log into 5 smaller rolls and spread lightly apart on the baking try. Bake 20- 25 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden.

Serve with tomato chutney.

Hot sweet & spicy tomato chutney

( Makes about 2 – 2 1/2  cups)

Ingredients

2 tbs olive oil or ghee

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 5cm piece cinnamon stick

1 dried red chilli crushed (delete if making for children)

1/2 tsp turmeric

3/4 tsp fenugreek seeds,

2 tins of organic chopped

1/4 cup raw sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sultanas ( optional)

Method

Heat ghee or oil in large heavy fry pan over moderate heat. Saute mustard seeds until they begin to crackle. Add the cumin and cinnamon. When cinnamon darkens, add the chilli bits, turmeric and fenugreek ( don’t overcook fenugreek as it gets too bitter if it becomes too dark).

Add tomatoes and,stir occasionally, cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes or until chutney begins to thicken.

Stir in sugar, sultanas and salt. For a moist chutney cook for another 5 minutes.

 

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Meditteranean Style Eating -Chickpea Kale Tabouli Salad

Chickpea Kale Tabouli SaladChickpea Kale Tabouli Salad

(gluten free Meditteranean style meal)

This salad is packed with antioxidants and nutrients.  Chickpeas & almonds provide vegetarian protein sources as well as fibre and micronutrients.  Tabouli style salads are a great way to eat larger amounts of parsley, an amazing food rich in Vits A, C, K, folate, as is kale, as well iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and potassium and all the B vitamins (except B12) and zinc.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tins chickpeas or 1 cup cooked dried chickpeas

5 Roma tomatoes chopped

1 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped

4 leaves of kale (cavalo nero) shredded

5 eschallots (spring onions) finely sliced

3 sticks celery sliced

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon flaxseed oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

S & P to taste

2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted almonds

Method

Add all vegetables to large bowl

Rinse chickpeas and place in bowl with other vegetables.

Pour in oil and lemon juice mix through and combine all ingredients, adding in cumin seeds, almonds and seasoning last.

Serving suggestions

This salad can be eaten on its own, topped with a tablespoon of homous or slices of avocado or served with some grilled meat or chicken.

This salad is packed with antioxidants and nutrients.  Chickpeas & almonds provide vegetarian protein sources as well as fibre and micronutrients.  Tabouli style salads are a great way to eat larger amounts of parsley, an amazing food rich in Vits A, C, K, folate, as is kale, as well iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and potassium and all the B vitamins (except B12) and zinc.

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Chickpea and vegetable patties

Chickpeas are a great vegetable protein source, rich in fibre and a good source of folate and vitamin B6 required for a healthy heart & nerves.

Add to this the array of nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, C & K,  Iron, Magnesium & Potassium to name a few, from the included vegetables and you’ll be satisfied and

brimming with health.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1cup mashed precooked potato, pumpkin or sweet potato or combination

½  large spanish onion finely chopped

1 clove garlic

1 grated carrot

1 grated zucchini

1 400g can chickpeas

½ cup chopped fresh coriander

Egg (delete if vegan)

polenta to coat patties

Salsa

2 chopped tomatoes

½ red capsicums seeds removed

1 lebanese cucumber diced

1 avocado

½ Spanish onion

1 tblspn toasted pine nuts

2 tblspns flaxseed oil

1 tblspn lemon juice

vegetable seasoning or salt and pepper to taste if desired

Method

IMG_2609

Mash chickpeas in bowl, add mashed potato mixture, onion, garlic, carrot, zucchini and coriander and form into patties.

Coat with polenta

Place on lightly coated baking tray and lightly spray tops of patties. Cook in oven for approximately 20mins on 180oC until heated through.

Meanwhile mix salsa ingredients together.

Serving suggestions

Serve patties on a bed of salad leaves and spoon over salsa

Uncooked patties can be frozen for when you need a quick meal.

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Meat Free Monday (MFM) Minted Pea and Spinach Soup

Minted pea and spinach soup 

A light and delicious vegetable soup packed full of vitamins and minerals including vit A, K, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, iodine, B & C vitamins. Iodine is critical for a healthy thyroid & metabolism.  Magnesium relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, relieves stress and improves nerve transmission and heart health.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups or vegetable stock or  filtered water with low salt vegetable stock cube

1 large brown onion

2 cloves garlic

3 cups frozen green peas

3 cups baby spinach

1 stick dried kombu seaweed

½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

Vegetable salt or celtic sea salt

½ cup of almond, soy or low fat milk

½ lemon – juiced

Method

Bring stock to the boil.

Add chopped onion and garlic. Simmer for 5 mins

Add peas, roughly chopped spinach, kombu (cut into small pieces with scissors), mint, and himalayan or celtic sea salt to taste.

Bring back to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 mins.

Allow to cool a little then blend together until combined well.Minted pea & spinach soup

Add milk and lemon juice and warm gently so milk doesn’t separate

Garnish with mint leaves and add ground black pepper to taste

Delicious served with walnut sourdough bread or if gluten free top with chopped walnuts
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Meat free Monday – Asian Inspired Teriyaki Soy Salad

Ingredients

½ cup Snow pea sprouts

½ cup mixed sprouts or 1cup bean sprouts (type used in asian cooking)

8 Mushrooms sliced

8 Snow peas

Asian Inspired Teriyaki Soy Salad

½ Spanish onion sliced

1/3 Red Capsicum sliced

1/3 Yellow capsicum sliced

1 stick Celery sliced on diagonal

2 Slices Nutrisoy teriyaki tofu cut in half and into 1cm wide long strips

2 clumps of fresh coriander finely chopped

2 tblspns Toasted pine nuts

Dressing

2 tspns Mirin

1 tspn Salt reduced Tamari

1 tablespoon Flaxseed oil

1 tspn Sesame oil

1 sml red chilli deseeded and finely chopped (optional)

Method

Place all vegetables and the tofu into a bowl

Mix together dressing ingredients in a glass jar

Pour over salad, mix and sprinkle with the pine nuts.  ENJOY

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Trim Tasty Fish Tacos – Healthy gluten free meal

Eliminate Boring and discover how tasty Cabbage can be.

Cruciferous Vegetables and their benefits

Here’s a few reasons why you might want to include more cabbage in your meals.

  1. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage contain phytochemicals,  that appear to help eliminate carcinogens from your body reducing cancer risk
  2. Contains Sulforaphanes that has been shown to cause cell death in human colon and prostate cancer cells
  3. Also contains Indole-3-carbinol  that improves liver detoxification to help balance hormones and also appears to have chemoprotective affects on breast cancer.
  4. Very good source of Vitamin C, K, folate  and fibre
  5. Low in calories
  6. May reduce oxidative stress further reducing cancer risk

Cruciferous vegetables also contain goitrogens which can adversely affect thyroid function if you are not having sufficient iodine in your meals.  Don’t let this be a reason for not including these healthy vegetables.

Solution – Ensure you include some seafood or seaweed in your diet as these are excellent iodine sources.  This recipe does both.

Fish TacosHealty Gluten free cabbage and fish tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients
500g white fish fillet cut into bite size pieces ( I use ling fillets)
2 cloves garlic minced
juice and zest (finely grated rind) of 1 lemon
1 tblspn total of cold pressed macadamia oil
2 leeks trimmed, halved lengthwise, washed and sliced about 3mm wide (both white and green part, discarding thick outer green leaf)
1 red capsicum cut into juilienne strips (diagonal strips 45cm length x 4 cm wide)
1 yellow capsicum cut into juilienne strips
2 cups of shredded white cabbage
Himalayan salt or Herbamare (reduced salt vegetable seasoning)
Handful of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
10 large taco shells or tortillas

Method
Toss the fish pieces in the garlic and lemon zest and ½ the oil.

Toss the vegetables with the remaining oil and put into a nonstick large pan

Sprinkle on the salt and sauté for 5mins until just wilted.  (Don’t overcook as this is what releases the sulphur smell that people associate with cabbage if you can remember Grandma’s boiled cabbage.)  Remove from pan & set aside

Saute fish pieces for 2-3 mins.

Add back vegetables over top of fish cover pan and cook for further 5 mins or until fish is just cooked through.

In the meantime heat taco shells in oven as instructed or steam tortillas in a steamer basket if preferred.

Add lemon juice and coriander to fish & vegetable mixture.

I assemble the tacos at the table so they don’t go soggy.

It’s fun, quick and tasty and children enjoy them too.

To make them a little more indulgent the tacos can be served with tomato salsa and/or guacomale.

Variations

If vegetarian use tofu instead of fish.

Try other varieties such as salmon or tuna instead of white fish.

Vary the vegetables to make own combination, particularly if you have children that only eat certain vegetables, a good option could be carrot, zucchini and corn niblets. Add some chilli if desired to spice up the dish.

Guacomale

1 ripe avocado

½ sml Spanish (red) onion finely chopped

¼ green capsicum finely chopped

few drops of Tabasco sauce to taste

lemon juice to taste

2 tspns of coriander leaves finely chopped

 Method

Mash avocado in a bowl with a fork

Mix through onion and capsicum with avocado

Add Tabasco and lemon juice  to suit your palate

Lastly, mix through the coriander leaves keeping some aside to garnish dip.

 

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Wellness 102 Iron – A vital nutrient for energy and more.

Wellbeing 102 – Iron

A vital nutrient for energy and more.

Iron deficiency in the No.1 most common nutrient deficiency. 

Fitness goals not being reached?

If you are not able to sustain your stamina during your workouts, particularly if you are a women in the reproductive stage of life, you may be iron deficient?

Maybe you’re planning a pregnancy?

It’s best to make sure you have good levels of iron before you fall pregnant.

Iron requirements increase during pregnancy as your blood volume increases up to 30% and more is lost during childbirth.  If you start off deficient you will more than likely end up anaemic.

If you suspect you may be lacking in iron, get a blood test and seek professional advice before taking supplements.

Too much iron can be toxic. 

The recommended upper limit is 45mg/day.

Iron overload can also cause fatigue and apathy, tissue damage of liver and increased risk of infections.  Haemochromatosis is a common genetic disorder that causes iron overload, resulting in excess iron depositing in joints and organs. Left untreated it can increase risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and liver cancer.

How Much?

Daily requirements for men and women of non reproductive age is 8mg/day, for reproductive age women it increases to 18mg/day and if you’re pregnant, 27mg/day.  Children going through rapid growth also need more iron, depending on the stage, from 8-11mg/day.

If you suffer from any gastrointestinal disease, e.g. coeliac, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, you may only be absorbing as little as 2%.

Anyone with digestive disorders should have their iron levels tested regularly and are likely to need supplementation.

Where do I get iron from?

You don’t need to be a meat eater to get iron but it helps as it is absorbed more effectively from animal flesh.

Vegetables sources only contain non-haeme iron.  Animal sources also contain haeme iron which helps increase the amount of non haeme iron absorbed from the animal and vegetable sources that are eaten at the meal.  It also contains MFP factor the promotes absorption.

The amount you absorb will vary depending on the food type and your requirements.

If you have compromised digestion you may be absorbing as little as 2% of the iron content of your foods.  Anyone with digestive disorders should have their iron levels tested regularly and are likely to need supplementation.

How can I maximize my intake if I am a vegetarian?

Vegetables, legumes and grains  all contain varying amounts of  iron, with your dark green vegetables being a stand out.  Eating vitamin C rich foods at the same meal will enhance iron absorption.

Cooking in an iron skillet will also increase the amount of iron in your meals.

If you would like to know more about how to adjust your meals to include and absorb more iron, seed advice from a nutritionist.

Roles in the body

Oxygen transport and energy.

Apart from it’s primary role in the body as part of haemoglobin, in red blood cells, it is also part of myoglobin , required by muscles to contract, carrying oxygen around the body to cells to be used in energy production.  It;s also involved in energy production via the mitochondria (your cell’s power houses), acting as an electron carrier.

Co-factor for Metabolism

Iron is utilized by numerous metabolic enzymes including those that make neurotransmitters, e.g. your feel good serotonin, adrenaline & dopamine, that give you mental clarity and alertness.  Likewise enzymes for making collagen,  amino acids and hormones also use iron.

Iron is vital for energy. 

Too little and you’ll run out of steam but beware too much can be toxic.  If your levels drop too low you will develop anaemia.

So remember if you suspect you may be lacking in iron or are planning a pregnancy get a blood test and seek professional advice before taking supplements.