Cook this: quick & healthy – everything-but-the-kitchen-sink omelette

This isn’t so much a “recipe” as your friendly Monday morning reminder that healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated, or time consuming. By Monday morning, most of us have probably enjoyed a bit of weekend indulgence (I know I did, after attending a gorgeous wedding with amazing food!), and we’d like to get back to eating something a bit healthier and lighter. But the thought of eating a boring salad sends most of us back to the heavier food we’d indulged in to start off with; it’s a vicious cycle.

This is one of my go-to recipes when…
a) I’m craving something healthy and lots of veggies but I don’t want a salad
b) I’ve got leftover veggies and rice that are at the end of their lifespan in the fridge and want to use them up rather than wasting them (and more money on more food)
c) I’ve got other delicious odds and ends in the fridge or pantry that I want to use but can’t think of another dish to tie them all together
d) I can’t really be bothered working too hard to get a healthy meal on the table

Eggs are also a pretty great source of protein, and it’s not a bad idea to give your gut a break from digesting meat all the time. With my food intolerances, beans and legumes are sadly off the table for me now, so eggs are the perfect back up option (they’re also pretty cheap compared to meat). Aaaaand if you double to recipe, you’ve got dinner for 2 and leftovers for lunch!

Ingredients:
– 2 large eggs
– cooking spray oil
– salt & pepper & your favourite dried herbs
– whatever else you want to throw in! I used (for this omelette) a cup of (cooked) brown rice, leftover roast red capsicum and zucchini, a few cherry tomatoes, a handful of baby spinach leaves and a few Kalamata olives. I’ve also used everything from leftover roast vegetables, antipasto mixes and cheese left behind from weekend platters, even leftover stir fried vegetables and noodles in an Asian style omelette!

Method:
1. Preheat your grill to high and leave it waiting.

2. Whisk the eggs together, season with a little salt, pepper and dried (or fresh, if you have them) herbs, and stir in everything else you want in there.

3. Heat a large, non-stick fry pan over medium heat and spray with cooking oil, making sure to coat it well (otherwise you’ll leave half the omelette behind in the pan).

4. Pour in the omelette mix, and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until you start to see the egg getting whiter rather than translucent. At that point, you can flip it, but I prefer putting it under the grill to slowing cook through from the top and forming a nice golden crust. This is also a good time to sprinkle some cheese on top, if you’re that way inclined.

5. Once cooked through, let it cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan, slicing up and serving – a little sauce on top is always a good touch, and we use everything from mayonnaise to mustard to hoi sin sauce to chili paste; anything goes!

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Make this: quick & healthy – green smoothie bowl (gluten, lactose & fructose free)

Ahh Monday morning. The time of the week when you resolve to do better after reflecting on a weekend spent in stretchy-waisted pants indulging in delicious food, with your only exercise being lifting another donut to your mouth. No judgement; we’ve all been there. And we all will be again. But if, like me, you like to start the week off strong (knowing full well things will descend into anarchy come Thursday night), this breakfast might be a good place to start.

Let me preface this recipe by saying that I absolutely bloody hate smoothies and juices. A smoothie is not a meal. Neither is soup, for that matter. You eat a meal, you don’t drink it. UNLESS you can add some stuff to it to make it chunky and crunchy and substantial. So I added stuff on top. I also love a good chia pudding, so I make this smoothie the night before and stir chia seeds through it, so by morning it’s basically a big, thick, healthy, green chia pudding with crunchy bits on top. And, because there’s green stuff in it, it’s obviously healthy. Happy days!

 

Ingredients (for 1):
– ½ cup milk (I use an almond coconut milk blend)
– 1 tbsp rolled oats
– 1 tsp matcha powder
– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
– 2 blocks of frozen spinach
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– all of the toppings!!!! On this one, I used homemade muesli, toasted cacao nibs, shredded coconut and frozen raspberry, but lets be honest – anything goes!

Method:
1. Throw the milk, oats, matcha, protein powder and frozen spinach into a blender/Nutri-bullet/that type of device and blend until smooth and combined.

2. Pour your mixture into a plastic tub and stir through the chia seeds. Place the lid on, into the fridge, and rest over night while you go to sleep and dream of breakfast.

3. In the morning, pour it into a bowl, top with whatever you want, and enjoy your fancy, health breakfast that didn’t cost $20 and a 45 minute wait at a café 😉

Cook this: quick & healthy – vanilla polenta “porridge” 

I wasn’t too concerned about the pain of getting a wisdom tooth ripped out (thought I really don’t relish the memory of having my head held down by the dental assistant while the dentist tried 4 different pliers to twist and yank one awfully big, long and deep set tooth from me), but I didn’t anticipate the headaches and migraines that came with it. I figured a few days of mushy food and soup, and I’d be good to go again.

Nope; a constant headache with severe light sensitivity, punctuated by migraine spells has seen me laying around a dark house in my PJs for the past 5 days. I got out of the house for an hour yesterday after begging and pleading for a quick breaky, then returned to the darkness for most of the rest of the day. I’m actually a vampire now.

Anyway, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and when you’re restricted to soft, mushy foods that won’t get stuck in the big, bleeding, gaping hole in your gum, your options are few and far between. Thank goodness for polenta! After seeing a recipe on my blog feed a while ago using polenta as a sweet ingredient (kicking myself for not being able to remember who’s blog it was, sorry!), I thought about making some porridge with polenta.

Instead of going the milk, butter and salt route for a savoury version, I added almond milk, vanilla and sugar instead, and it turned out perfectly! It’s actually a really great change from regular porridge, too, and it’s a nice gluten free alternative for the Coaeliacs out there. Super easy and quick to make, here’s how I did my version…

Ingredients (for one bowl):

– 1 cup almond milk

– 1 tsp caster sugar

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– pinch of vanilla powder (optional)

– 1/4 cup of polenta/fine cornmeal

– 1/2 cup mixed berries and a little maple syrup to serve

 

Method:

1. Heat the milk, sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat.

2. When the milk stars to simmer, turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the polenta, whisking as you go. Once it’s all been added, whisk continuously over low heat until it thickens up to a consistency you’re happy with. If it thickens up too quickly, add a little more water to thin it out.

3. I served mine with mixed berries that I microwaved for 30 seconds, mashed up a little, and mixed a little maple syrup through.

 

On that note, I’m off to work now hoping that the pretty white lace top I’m wearing will disguise the fact that I was too busy throwing up and squinting at the open windows to do my hair or put some mascara on this morning! Ohh, it’s a glamorous life  >.<  hehe

Eat. Travel. Blog. The 2015 highlights :)

Holy wow, 2015 is over… I never believed mum when I’d hear her say “the older you get, the quicker it goes!” I hate to admit it, but she’s kinda right… It simultaneously feels like it was only a few weeks ago/it was all a big dream that we were on our way to America for our mega-trip, but it was this time last year we were half way through it all!

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It’s been a pretty big year for me. Among other things, this year has seen me:
– turn thirty  >_<
– travel to America, Canada, Mexico and Japan
– get closer to some friends and finally shed some toxic ones
– start a new job
– finally acknowledge my depression/anxiety/disordered eating and get help for it all
– acquire a few new tattoos
– complete my first 5km fun run, and a consequential 8km run
– thoroughly enjoy Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club
– discover that I’m lactose and fructose intolerant
– start getting back to who I used to be

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It’s been big. It’s been fun. It’s been challenging. It’s been heart breaking and joy bringing and all the rest of it. Because that’s what life is. The other thing 2015 gave me was the opportunity to write. I love blogging; I love being able to do what I love, whenever I want. And the fact that there are so many of you out there interested enough in what I have to say to read along means more than you can possibly imagine! From the bottom of my heart, thank you all so much for reading along from time to time; I’ve been writing and recording since I was old enough to put pen to paper, and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I can still hold a pen in my hand 🙂

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I thought that I’d follow suit with so many other bloggers and take a little walk down memory lane at some of my most popular posts over the last year…

It seems that my readers enjoy my food review posts the most, with these Melbourne eats getting the most views:
1. Yu-U
2. Kustom Burgers
3. Supernormal
4. Cheshire
5. Mamor
6. Bad Boys
7. Leyalina
8. Addict Food & Coffee
9. Mankoushe
10. Good Ovening

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For the record, my favourite Melbourne eats of the year are a little different; my favourites were, in no particular order:
1. Lievita
2. Sookie La La
3. Rockwell & Sons
4. Gypsy & Pig
5. 1090
6. The Gem
7. Shortstop Donuts
8. Addict Food & Coffee
9. Tipo 00
10. Two Little Pigs

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This year’s most popular international eats looked like this:
1. Bangkok’s ice cream truck
2. Nong Ploy, Koh Samui
3. The Halal Guys, New York City
4. Eataly, Chicago
5. Momofuku, Toronto
6. Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington DC
7. Eggslut & Tumbras, Los Angeles
8. Shake Shack / In-N-Out
9. Central Grocery, New Orleans
10. Kanga, Toronto

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Again, my favourites looked a little different:
1. The Joint, New Orleans
2. Four & Twenty Blackbirds, New York City
3. Tartine Bakery, San Francisco
4. The Great Burger, Tokyo
5. Tsukiji Fish Market sushi, Tokyo
6. Yummy Yummy, San Francisco
7. Momofuku, Toronto
8. The Halal Guys, New York City
9. Au Cheval, Chicago
10. Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

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Recipes weren’t as popular as reviews, but the most viewed recipes were:
** Pork, macadamia, cranberry & sage sausage rolls – even though this wasn’t a 2015, it had over 350 more views than the next most popular recipe this year!! Amazing!
1. Red beans & rice
2. Poached egg & polenta
3. Tea infused porridge
4. Peanut butter granola
5. Zucchini choc chip cake
6. Quick 6 ingredient cookies
7. Coconut matcha porridge
8. Spring onion zucchini omelette
9. Cornbread pudding
10. Roy Choi’s ketchup fried rice

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And just for the record, the recipes I enjoyed most this year were:
1. 6 ingredient fried rice
2. Microwave matcha pudding cakes
3. Cranberry gingerbread granola
4. Coconut pandan oat & matcha chia parfait
5. Cornbread pudding
6. Crispy salted sage, hazelnut and cacao nib cookies
7. Olive oil chocolate zucchini cake
8. Fluffy protein pancakes
9. Chocolate pretzels
10. Tea infused porridge

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Your favourite travel related posts?
1. Dong Xuan Night Market, Hanoi, Vietnam
2. 10 Books Every Traveller Must Read
3. Through my eyes: Nutella crepes in Phuket, Thailand
4. Through my eyes: Santa Monica & Venice Beach, Los Angeles
5. Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a weekend in Beechworth part 1
6. The New Orleans School of Cooking
7. USAdventure days 26-33- New York
8. TBT: Crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
9. Pure freedom: cruising Isla Mujeres
10. iPhoto essay: The Californian Redwoods, Warburton

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And my favourite travel experiences this year (other than those 10)?
1. “Finding myself” in St Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans
2. Inside the hospital of Alcatraz
3. Through my eyes: Jomyo-in Temple, Tokyo
4. Through my eyesL crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at sundown
5. Through my eyesL New Orleans, 10 years post-Katrina
6. Urban paradise: Milton Lee Olive Park, Chicago
7. Toronto Islands, Canada
8. Through my eyes: The streets of Kagurazaka, Japan
9. Greystone Mansion & Park, Los Angeles
10. Flashback Friday: A night at the Temple of Edfu, Egypt

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And last but not least, because I do my very best to keep it as real as possible on here, the most viewed personal musing posts this year have been:
1. Sometimes you DO get to choose your family
2. I believe the time has come for me to re-introduce myself
3. The importance of pizza and a strong father-daughter relationship
4. Welcome to my book nook
5. You’re not alone
6. Wanderlust 108: Melbourne 2015
7. Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? [Escape part 2]
8. S2, Ep2: Eat. Travel. Blog. It’s been a big weekend
9. Ways to keep your love & friendships strong: Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club
10. There is NOTHING wrong with being real

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From the bottom of my heart guys, thank you so much for reading this year 🙂 Writing is my biggest love and passion in life. It’s what I’ve always done, truly, since I was as young as I can remember. I write primarily for me, but having other people read and appreciate my work is absolutely the biggest, kindest compliment I have ever been paid. So, whether you’ve been reading most days or just read one or two posts this year, thank you so so much 🙂

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s Eve saying farewell the year that has been, saying thank you for the lessons learnt, and getting ready to take on 2016 with reckless abandon xoxo

Cook this: quick & healthy – Greek lamb meatball salad

Finally, the warmer weather of summer is coming to Melbourne… a little inconsistently, but it is coming! At the change of seasons, I like flicking through my More Please cookbook by Delicious Magazine’s Valli Little. Mum gave me this book years ago, and because it’s handily divided up by seasonal recipes, it’s one of those books I always go back to. As with most cookbooks I own, I don’t usually follow any of the recipes all the way through, but it’s great for a bit of inspiration. I based this recipe on one I saw in there for a Greek lamb meatball salad, trying to keep it quick, simple, FODMAP friendly and healthy – perfect for a mid-week summer dinner and left overs for lunch  : )

You’ll need (for 2 serves):

For the meatballs
– 250g lamb mince
– 1 tbsp sweet paprika
– 1 tbsp cumin powder
– 2 tsp dried oregano
– 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil OR regular olive oil + 1 minced clove of garlic
– salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands.
3. Shape into small meatballs.
4. Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs for a few minutes, until browned on the outside.
5. Transfer to the oven tray and finish cooking for around 10 – 15 minutes, until cooked through (this will depend on the size of the meatballs).

 

For the dressing
– ½ – ⅔ cup plain Greek yoghurt (depending on how much you want to smother your salad with) – you can also use lactose free yoghurt if need be
– juice of ½ a small lemon
– 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, roughly shredded

1. Stir it all together in a bowl and leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

 

For the salad
– 1 – 2 cups cous cous, cooked according to packet instructions and cooled (depending on how hungry you are). You can also substitute this for quinoa if you need to be gluten free.
– ½ punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 cup sliced cucumber
– ¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
– ½ cup grilled, sliced capsicum (you can buy this from most delis if you want to make life even easier for yourself)
– 2 heaped cups of iceberg or cos lettuce, roughly chopped
– a few thin slices of red onion (leave this out if you’re low FODMAPing)

1. Depending on your preference, you can either combine everything in a large bowl and serve, or layer your salad like I did (cous cous on the bottom, followed by the other salad ingredients, then the meatballs).
2. Finally, spoon the yoghurt dressing on top, and you’re good to go!

Cook this: quick & healthy – citrus & coriander snapper on baked corn & pineapple rice (gluten free/low FODMAP)

After our crazy busy Saturday of Christmas shopping, normal people would have spent Sunday chilling out. But we’re not normal people; we’re idiots. After crawling into bed just before midnight, we set the alarm for 7am so we could get a work out in before heading back to the shopping centres to find some Christmas decorations for the tree and the house. The alarm went off, we both groaned and rolled around not wanting to move too far, but we dragged ourselves out of bed anyway. We decided to make it a big walk with Marley so he could get his walk in too, and so we could enjoy the sunshine while it was out. We laughed at the idea that normal people wouldn’t be doing this to themselves – normal people would be sleeping in on a Sunday, enjoying a lazy breaky, making no concrete commitments to doing anything much. But there we were.

On reflection, the pursuit of being fit and healthy has always been there for me. I always checked out magazine articles that had the little workout tips or healthy eating ideas in them. I researched exercise plans online when we got the internet (around when I started high school). I studied calorie counts when the Calorie King website got popular. Despite the fact that I’ve always been at a healthy weight, my family has always been healthy, we were never fed anything but fruit and veggies and home cooked, balanced meals as kids (thanks, mum!), and none of us have ever been close to overweight, it’s always been a bit of a preoccupation of mine. I guess that’s why setting my alarm for 7am on a Sunday to exercise doesn’t really strike me as odd. As kids, we were always active. Basketball training, tennis lessons, dance classes, taekwondo. Whatever it was, it wasn’t questioned. Time to go to basketball? Sweet, let’s go. There was never the option of “nah, I can’t be bothered, I’d rather sleep in, play video games for 3 hours and eat 4 bags of chips while I’m doing it.” We just got on with it.

So, we got up, we got moving, we got a little overenthusiastic and may or may not have started decorating the house in red and green already… But at the end of it all, we still needed dinner. It needed to be quick, healthy, nothing too heavy, fructose free, and use the snapper fillets we’d bought at the market on Friday night. I have a few notebooks in the kitchen with recipes I’ve cut out of magazines and collected over the years – in  the one with the seafood recipes in it, I found a recipe from an old Women’s Health magazine from years ago, and it looked just about perfect. As usual, I messed about with it to make it more tummy friendly and quick and simple, so here’s my take on their Costa Rican snapper!

Ingredients (makes 4 serves):
– juice of 1 small orange
– juice of half a lemon or lime
– 2 tbsp oil (I used garlic infused oil)
– 1 clove garlic minced (leave it out if you’re a low FODMAPper)
– 4 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
– 1 tsp caster sugar
– salt and pepper
– 4 snapper fillets, approx 120g each
– 2 cups cooked brown rice
– 2 green capsicums, diced
– 1 ear of corn kernels
– small tin diced pineapple
– 2 tomatoes, diced

Method:
1. Combine the orange and lemon or lime juices, the oil, garlic, coriander, sugar and a little salt and pepper in a large tub. Add the fish fillets and shake the tub to coat well. Marinate for 15 minutes.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and grab a large baking dish out.

3. In a large bowl, combine the rice, green capsicum, corn kernels and pineapple (I left the pineapple out because husband and I both like cold pineapple more than having it warmed up, but you can go either way), and spread it over the baking dish.

4. Lay the fish fillets on top of the rice and spoon the rest of the marinating mixture over the top.

5. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked through – serve fresh out of the oven with fresh diced tomatoes (and the pineapple if you didn’t put it in the rice).

Treat yoself breakfast: overnight coconut pandan oat & matcha chia parfait

So, last Saturday night was Oktoberfest. The man cave was transformed into a beer hall. Several batches of pretzels were baked. Several more batches of pretzels cookies, too. And schnitzels, potato salad, gravy… There was a lot to do, and while Friday night was reserved for the bulk of it, but there was still plenty left to do Saturday morning before everyone arrived.

With all that coming and my inability to work on an empty stomach, I knew I was gonna need a decent breakfast. It had been a pretty long, challenging, sleepless week, so by Friday night I was mentally and physically exhausted. With a big day ahead, I wanted to treat myself to something a little nicer than my regular overnight oats to start the day.

My usual overnight oats consists of oats, chia seeds, protein powder, almond milk and yoghurt thrown into a tub, shaken violently, and topped with whatever is in the pantry – coconut flakes, pepitas, goji berries, chocolate chips, anything goes. I also found this absolutely unreal pandan kaya custard type stuff at ARC Asian Grocers at the Preston Market that I’m loving with my morning oats at the moment. I thought I’d try to add that in with the shredded coconut (because matcha and coconut are delicious together) and seperate the chia and oats for something a bit different – takes a bit of effort, but the different layers makes it look and taste great! Actually, that’s not entirely truthful – it doesn’t take much effort at all…

For one serve:

Chia layer:
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– ½ tsp matcha powder
– 5 tbsp milk (again, I use almond milk, but coconut milk would be perfect as well)

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar or plastic tub and shake well to combine. Set it aside for 10 minutes, going back to give it a quick stir every few minutes.

 

Oat layer:
– 1 heaped tbsp plain yoghurt
– ½ cup milk (I use almond)
– heaped ⅓ cup oats
– 1 scoop (approx 8-10g) protein powder of your choice – I really love the Amazonia vanilla for this!
– 1 tbsp shredded coconut
– 2 tbsp pandan custard

Put the yoghurt, milk and protein powder in a jar or plastic tub and shake until well combined. Add in the oats and coconut and shake again, the set aside.

Once the chia pudding has set and gelled a little, the oats should have soaked up a bit of the milk; stir the pandan custard through the oats.

To assemble, just spoon half the oats into a glass or jar, followed by half the chia, the rest of the oats and the rest of the chia on top. That simple!