LUXE / HEALTH salad series…

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Another day, another salad!  I promise you though, this one will hit the spot and solve any of those mid-week dinner dilemmas too…

x A

 

LUXE / HEALTH Lamb with Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

1 lamb backstrap
1/4 Kent pumpkin, sliced into wedges
Handful rocket
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 small Lebanese cucumber, shaved into ribbons (just use your vegetable peeler)
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Small handful pine nuts, toasted
Goats cheese
Olive oil
Balsamic reduction
Ground cumin
Sea salt and black pepper

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 then prep your pumpkin by slicing into thin wedges.  Pop on a baking paper lined tray then drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Once your oven is hot, roast the pumpkin for 35-45 minutes until cooked through and tender.
  • Drain and rinse your tinned chickpeas, then place them into a salad bowl with a large handful of rocket, the sliced onion and cucumber ribbons.  Toss with a little olive oil and set aside.
  • To prep your lamb, bring it to room temperature then generously rub ground cumin, sea salt and pepper into the meat.
  • Heat a frying pan or grill plate and once it’s piping hot, cook the lamb for two and a half minutes each side before setting aside to rest.  This will give you nice pink, rare lamb.
  • Once the pumpkin is cooked through, drizzle a little balsamic reduction over the pumpkin wedges – then you’re ready to plate up!
  • Place a couple of pieces of pumpkin in each plate, then heap a generous serve of the rocket salad on top.  Slice the rested lamb and place on top of your salad before sprinkling with pine nuts and a generous (read: very generous!) helping of goats cheese.  Dinner sorted!

 

 

How to slow down…

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Our world is moving at a faster pace than ever before and I for one, sometimes find it hard to gain traction.  Slowing down is not something I do well at all,  but without pausing for reflection, life can become overwhelming and stress and anxiety levels can seem out of our control.  We need to learn to absorb the present moment without any thought for the past or anxiety about the future.  Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but here are a few tried and tested methods which might help you…

  • Breathe – if nothing else, taking a deep breath just to collect your thoughts and calm your heart rate is vital, especially if you’re someone who struggles to get to sleep at night because your mind won’t stop racing.  If this sounds like you then try is the 4-7-8 breathing technique developed by Dr Andrew Weil.  Some people even claim it can help you fall asleep in just 60 seconds!  To try it for yourself, simply inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds then exhale for 8 seconds through your mouth…and repeat.
  • Tackle one task at a time – multi-tasking in the workplace is sometimes unavoidable,  but wherever possible, it’s important to try and focus on one task at a time.  By giving your full attention to a project it’s far more likely to be done properly the first time, even if it takes a little longer.  If your attention is being pulled in ten different directions at once however, inevitably the quality of your work is likely to suffer.
  • Disconnect – while technology is a gift, it can also be a curse and with so many of us connected to our smartphones and available 24/7, we never truly get the opportunity to disconnect and switch our brains off.  It may not be realistic to walk in the door at night and switch off your iPhone, but try to enjoy your dinner without the distraction of social media or the TV blaring in the background.  And, if nothing else, make sure you turn off your devices in the bedroom to help promote restful sleep.

x A

 

 

Is your weekend making you ‘fat’?

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If you often jump on the scales on a Monday morning and wonder why the numbers just won’t budge, it may all be down to how you’re spending your weekends. Here’s a few habits you might be guilty of…

  • Sleeping in – unfortunately, no matter how tired you think you feel from a long week at work, it’s a myth that you can simply ‘catch-up’ on sleep during the weekend. In fact, those extra hours in bed will only leave your metabolism feeling sluggish and come Monday morning, you’re likely to feel even sleepier. While you don’t have to bound out of bed at 5:30am on Saturday like you do Monday to Friday, try to wake within 30-60 minutes of your usual schedule and fuel up with a nutritious brekkie soon after to help you feel more alert.
  • #SUNDAYBRUNCH – everyone loves a foodie Instagram snap and while Sunday brunch might be the highlight of your weekend, in reality, big café brekkie’s are often laden with extra calories. To avoid derailing your diet on your brunch outing, try to be mindful of your food choices. Avoid pancakes, Turkish toast and chunky slices of banana bread and instead, opt for natural muesli, fresh vegetables juices and eggs with mushrooms, avocado and spinach.
  • Alcohol – I’m not suggesting you ditch the booze forever, but it’s important to acknowledge that if you have a weight loss goal in mind, all your hard work can be undone with a single bottle of wine. If it’s feasible, try to have a few alcohol-free weekends when you can, but if you must drink, skip the sugary cocktails and opt for vodka with fresh lime and soda or a couple of glasses of tasty red wine.

How to…eat healthier

How to eat healthier

It sounds simple enough, but when it comes to eating healthily, sometimes our minds, eyes and stomachs can sway us off course in the blink of an eye.  You may have gone searching for a salad on your lunch break only to be swept away by the smell of that delicious pulled pork roll as you wander by!

The truth is, we’re all human and while it’s unrealistic to stick to a perfect diet day in, day out, here are a few tips which may help you stay on course if eating healthier is one of your goals this year…

  • Healthy vs Unhealthy – whether we admit it or not, most of us are guilty of labelling everything that passes our lips as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Psychologically this can be incredibly damaging as we rate our daily diet by how much ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food we’ve consumed.  The first step is to try and break this habit.  Instead of thinking, should I eat that because it’s unhealthy?  Ask yourself, am I hungry?  If the answer is yes, then you will be in a much better position to assess whether or not you are making a healthy food choice.
  • Think in terms of nourishment – following on from the point above, it’s important to think about what your food can do for your body.  It may sound obvious but eating half an avocado or a lean portion of protein is going to fuel your body far more effectively than if you wolf down a slice of pizza or a fistful of chocolates.  Your food should make you feel good from the inside out, leaving your skin glowing, your immunity in tip top shape and give you enough energy to go about your day with a spring in your step.
  • Cook for yourself – not everyone is born a Masterchef, but practise makes perfect and time and time again, science has proven that those who cook and eat at home are healthier, on average, than those who regularly eat out.  Takeaways and restaurant meals are often laden with excess fat, salt and sugar, so by choosing to cook at home, you can save yourself countless calories.  Remember too, that the internet is your friend and if you’ve been wanting to try out a new ingredient, all you have to do is tap it into google and I promise you’ll be met with hundreds of recipes to inspire you.
  • Practise mindfulness – yea, I know, you’ve heard the term ‘mindfulness’ over and over, but that’s because it actually works.  When you’re trying to make healthy food choices, you need to practise mindfulness at every opportunity, staying aware not only of your food choices, but of every mouthful you take.  If you’re someone who eats dinner while staring blankly at the television, you’re probably consuming more calories, more quickly and enjoying it less than those who take a few minutes to cherish the ritual of enjoying their meal.  Yes, it’s easier said than done but maybe try to introduce a little mindfulness into one meal a day.  Eat slowly, chew properly and savour every bite.

x A

LUXE / HEALTH Asian braised chicken…

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After three wonderful weeks away, it’s time to get back to reality and back into the kitchen…so here’s the perfect dish to welcome autumn.  This Asian braised chicken is a recipe I found and adapted from an old cookbook years ago and to this day, it remains a firm favourite in our household and is often the dinner I revert to when I’m lacking inspiration or energy.  It’s literally a one pot wonder so let me know what you think…

x A

 

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LUXE / HEALTH Asian Braised Chicken
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

8-12 chicken thighs
1 cup soy sauce
1 litre water
4 generous tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Cinnamon stick
1/3 cup white sugar (or caster sugar – whatever you have in the cupboard)
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
Generous pinch of dried chilli flakes
Handful sesame seeds
1 bunch steamed broccolini or green beans
1 packet soba noodles

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, combine the soy sauce, water, vinegar, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, cinnamon and sugar and bring to the boil.
  • Add the chicken thighs to the pan, then reduce to a medium heat and simmer, uncovered, for 50 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pan, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown.  Set aside.
  • After 50 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through and braised a beautiful golden brown.
  • Cook the soba noodles according to packet directions and drain well (they usually take about 4 minutes)
  • To serve, place 2-3 chicken thighs on a small bed of soba noodles, add the steamed greens, a little broth from the saucepan and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Simple!

 

 

LUXE / HEALTH Chicken and Broccolini Zoodles…

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I love being in the kitchen, but some days I get home from work and stare into the fridge with little to no inspiration as to what for cook for dinner.  On days like that, this recipe is a godsend as it’s super quick to rustle up, it’s incredibly comforting and yet you’re not compromising on health as it serves up a huge dose of protein and greens.  Aaaand…it’s pretty as a picture too!

x A

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LUXE / HEALTH Chicken and Broccolini Zoodles
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 large chicken breast, sliced into strips
1 bunch broccolini, each stem trimmed into thirds
4 small zucchini, spiralised
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 small handful slivered almonds, toasted
Zest and juice of one lemon
Freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method:

  • In a wok or large frypan, heat a little olive oil and stir fry the chilli, crushed garlic and chicken strips until the chicken is cooked through.  Set aside in a small bowl.
  • Steam the broccolini in a little water in the microwave for 2-3 minutes until cooked through, but still crunchy.  Drain well and set aside.
  • Toast the slivered almonds in a dry saucepan for a few minutes until golden brown.  They will smell delicious!
  • Add a little more oil to your pan, then stir fry the zucchini noodles until they are heated through.
  • Toss through the lemon zest, then add the chicken, broccolini and cherry tomatoes to the pan and heat through.
  • Squeeze over the fresh lemon juice and toss well.  The cherry tomatoes will wilt nicely as they begin to cook through, adding moisture to the dish.
  • Once the zucchini noodles have softened a little, they’re ready!
  • Tip into two bowls then sprinkle over the toasted almonds and serve with a generous crack of salt and pepper and freshly grated parmesan.

LUXE / HEALTH coconut soba prawns…

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Prawns are one of the most versatile proteins and the fact that they cook in mere minutes, make them the perfect weekday dinner dish!  This recipe combines some of my favourite ingredients so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

x A

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LUXE / HEALTH Coconut Soba Prawns
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

12-18 large kind prawns, deveined but with tails still intact
1 packet soba noodles
2 red chillies, finely diced
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 small bunches pak choy
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 handful shredded coconut
Coconut Oil

For the dressing:

165ml coconut milk
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. coconut sugar
Juice of 1 lime

Method:

  • To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
  • Heat a small saucepan, then toss in the shredded coconut and toss for a few minutes until toasted.  Set aside.
  • Cook the soba noodles according to packet directions, then drain well.
  • Wash and roughly chop the pak choy, steam for a couple of minutes and drain well.
  • Heat a little coconut oil in a pan, add the chilli and spring onion and toss for a minute of two.
  • Add the prawns and cook for another few minutes until they change colour and are pink and juicy.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the drained soba noodles with the pak choy and coconut dressing.
  • Divide the noodle salad between two bowls, then spoon over the prawns and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and toasted coconut.

LUXE / HEALTH Lentil Dahl…

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With evidence suggesting that vegetarians live longer than their meat-eating counterparts, it goes without saying that we could all benefit from eating a few more plant based meals.  The worldwide movement #meatlessmondays has taken off and although I’m often met with rolled eyes and a sigh, I try to include one vegetarian meal in our dinner repertoire each week.

A firm favourite of mine is this super simple lentil dahl with brown rice.  Like most of my cooking, it tends to be a one-pot wonder which is adapted depending on what we have in the cupboard, but here are the basics…

x A

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LUXE / HEALTH Lentil Dahl
(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

375g bag of dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 red onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 stalks celery, diced finely
2 sheets of sushi nori (seaweed), torn roughly
2 tsp. dried turmeric
2 tsp. ground coriander
1-2 tsp. dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
750ml water
Sea salt and black pepper
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Brown rice
Coconut oil

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, heat a little coconut oil, then saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until it becomes translucent.
  • Add the spices and stir for another minute or two until fragrant.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, then add the rinsed lentils, celery, nori and water to the saucepan and stir well.
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has absorbed.
  • Add extra water as necessary, but the key to a good dahl is not to let it become too runny.  Overcook it and it will become mushy and stick to the bottom of the pan but undercook it and the lentils will be too firm.  My advice is to cook the dahl for 20-25 minutes before adding any extra liquid as usually it comes together perfectly in the last few minutes.
  • Once it’s ready, season to taste, then spoon over brown rice and serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.  A dollop of Greek yoghurt wouldn’t hurt either!

 

 

 

 

 

LUXE / HEALTH Lamb Rissoles…

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In our household, lamb is a staple – and by staple, I mean it’s virtually a food group all of its’ own – so as it’s Australia Day, I thought I better share one of my favourite lamb recipes with you all.  These rissoles are super simple to make, super healthy and packed full of flavour so let me know what you think!

x A

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LUXE / HEALTH Lamb Rissoles
(Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

500g good quality lamb mince
1/4 red onion, diced finely
2 tsp. dried mint
2 tsp. dried oregano
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
Sea salt and pepper
Hummus (I either make my own or Macro Organic from Woolies is delish!)

For the Greek salad:

1/3 cucumber, diced
10-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, diced finely
Olive oil
Feta

For the tzatziki:

1/4 cucumber, grated finely
Sea salt
4 tbsp. good quality Greek yoghurt
1/2 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed

Method:

  • To prepare the tzatziki, grate the cucumber finely and place in a bowl with a generous crack of sea salt and set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, add a good glug of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of feta and mix well with your hands.  Then, set aside.
  • For the rissoles, combine the lamb, onion, herbs, lemon zest and salt and pepper with one egg in a large bowl.  Use your hands to combine well and then roll into small balls.  You should be able to get 8-10 rissoles out of 500g.
  • Place the rissoles in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up while you return to the tzatziki.
  • The salt will have released all the water from the cucumber so squeeze all the liquid out of the cucumber and place it into a new bowl.  Add the greek yoghurt, garlic, mint and vinegar and stir well.  Taste and season – you might find you want a little more mint or need another dash of vinegar.  Then, pop in the fridge while you cook the rissoles.
  • In a frypan, heat a little olive oil and cook the rissoles, in batches, for 4-5 minutes each side or until cooked through.
  • To serve, smear a tablespoon (or two!) of hummus onto a plate and top with 3-4 rissoles and a small handful of the Greek salad.  Drizzle with tzatziki and devour immediately!

 

LUXE / HEALTH Prawn and Mango Salad…

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My love affair with prawns may be getting out of hand…but seriously, this salad is mouthwateringly delicious!

x A

Prawn and Mango Salad Compi

LUXE / HEALTH Prawn and Mango Salad
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

12-18 large king prawns, deveined but with tails intact
1/2 packet rice noodles
1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced into chunks
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 small bunches pak choy
Coconut oil

For the dressing:

1 red chilli, with seeds, finely diced
1 large tsp. raw honey
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • To make the dressing, mix the chilli, honey and lemon juice with a good glug of olive oil.  Mix well and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cook the rice noodles in boiling water according to the packet directions, then rinse and drain well.
  • Roughly chop the pak choy and steam for a few minutes in the microwave.
  • In a large bowl, place the mango slices, pak choy and cooked rice noodles.  Pour over 3/4 of the dressing and mix well with your hands.
  • To cook the prawns, heat a little coconut oil in a pan and then heat through until they change colour, brushing their flesh with the remaining dressing while they cook to seal in the flavour.  The honey in the dressing will help the prawns to caramelise and get nice and sticky!
  • Once the prawns are cooked, toss the fresh coriander through the noodle salad and tip into two bowls.  Top with the cooked prawns and drizzle over any remaining dressing.  Enjoy!

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