The Journey Back

Week I

This year have gone back to healthy eating and exercise. My goal this year is to reduce my sugar intake, get back to the long-distance run and get back to my ideal weight. The last time I did a long run was two years ago.

Had a wake-up call last year when they found a blockage in my neck and they thought it was cholesterol and I had to do an MRI. Waited for my results, it disappointed me, haven’t looked after my body, not exercised and eaten clean. The results came back and thank goodness it was not cholesterol; I was born with the blockage on my neck.

Despite the good news, kept to my promise of starting the new year with clean eating, excreting and reducing my sugar intake.

Two years ago joined a patisserie course so I could learn to bake. After my course, I put on weight, baking and eating cakes, biscuits, pies, and everything sweet. Exercised little, didn’t do my usual morning jog because I had to bake. This year I have reduced baking and took care of my health. 

Started my first week by charging my Fitbit, which I haven’t used and recovered my fitness pal account to track my calorie intake. Checked my weight, which I haven’t checked for three years and as you guessed; have put on weight.

Since I haven’t jogged for over a year, I started my Monday morning with a one-hour walk around my neighbourhood and realised I missed waking up very early in the morning and enjoying a calm walk. Enjoying the sound of nature and the occasion dog bark, this makes you wonder where the dog is. Despite Perth’s hot weather, the morning is the best time to exercise because it’s cooler.

Wednesday was the second day of my walk, but did a quick jog between my walks. Have missed that hype feeling; missed jogging. Changed my route and walked/jogged to the neighbouring suburb. Forgot many people walk their dogs on that street. Why do small dogs bark the most and big dogs look at you and walk away? 

Glad to see the German sherd or Alsatian dog again (can’t tell the difference). Whenever I used to go for my jog, always passed a house where a giant German Shepard or Alsatian sat on the front lawn and watched me jog past the house. He/she has never barked at me or anything, he/she just stared. 

Friday was my last walk/jpg of the week. I jogged longer this time round and jogged to the train station and walked back home. It was going to be over 30 degrees on that day and I could feel the sun. My eating habits changed this week; I tracked my food intake and avoided food high in sugar; I didn’t realise I was eating too much sweet potato, so this week I had to measure all my food, check the serving size and eat healthy. Didn’t eat potato chips this week. I usually eat potato chip with cheese every Saturday. This Saturday I choose to have a healthier cheese with my egg and not have potato chips. I measured my ice cream and yes… measured my ice cream and my butter intake. Had to reduce my butter intake because I put too much butter on my toast.  

Mango Chia Pudding

I learnt something new, chia and almond milk has to be whisked after every 15 minutes when you let it set for two hours. The whisking helps to aerate the mixture, giving it a more creamy texture. I loved the creamy texture of the whisked chia pudding. I layered the pudding with mango, chia and muesli. When you layer it you get a crunchy texture from the muesli, sweetness from the mango and creaminess from the pudding.

Ingredients

200 g natural almond milk

25 g Chia seeds

2g vanilla essence

45 g toasted honey museli

140 g frozen mango (you can use less if you want.)

Method

Whisk almond milk and chia seeds together. Let it set for two hours, during the two hours make sure you whisk it after every 15 minutes.

Thaw the frozen mango. Once it is soft blend it to a smooth consistency.

Get a long glass and start layering. Place the mango at the bottom, muesli, chia, repeat the process for the second layer and third.

Note

This serve 1

Use other fruits such as blueberry. strawberry.

Use nuts such as slivered almonds instead of muesli.

Shakshuka

Whenever I go out for breakfast I order Shakshuka and on Sunday I decided to make my own at home. It’s a simply dish to try and delicious with flavours. Shakshuka is a Mediterranean egg dish cooked with tomatoes, capsicum and spices such as cumin, paprika and chilli flakes. Garnished with feta chesses, coriander, basil and green chilli.

Ingredients

I tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon paprika

pinch of chilli flakes or to your liking

3/4 Capsicum chopped (I added more)

1/2 onion chopped

1 garlic clove crushed

250g tin crushed tomatoes

4 eegs

To Garnish

25g chopped feta cheese

Chopped corriander

Chopped Basil

1/2 green chilli (optional)

Method

Heat oil in a frying pan. Cook onions and capcicum for 5 minutes or until soft.

Add garlic and cook for a few seconds, add spices and cook until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and season, and bring to a simmer.

Slowly add eggs to mixture, reduce heat and cover with a foil paper and cook for 4-8 or to your liking.

Once ready, garnish with feta, basil, coriander and chilli.

Note

You can bake the eggs instead of leaving it on the stove. Bake eggs for 7-8 minutes.

This dish serves 4

Tropical Fruit Sorbet

Sorbet is light and refreshing  and can be made a day in advance.  It is also a great summer dessert.  Another thing you do not need to make the sorbet from scratch.  I added fruits to the sorbet, roosted shredded coconut and passion fruit.

Ingredients

1 litre mixed berry sorbet

1 litre coconut sorbet

1 litre mango sorbet

For decoration to need

1/2 a mango sliced

140g canned passion fruit 

handful of roasted shredded coconut

handful of raspberry and strawberry

To make the sorbet

Line a baking dish with cling wrap.  This makes the sorbet easier to remove.

Remove the mixed berry sorbet for ten minutes to melt.  Once melted pour in the baking tin.  Put in the freezer for two hours to set. 

After two hours, remove the coconut sorbet to melt, and after ten minutes pour on the frozen strawberry sorbet and let it set for four hours in the freezer

After four hours remove the mango sorbet and let it melt for ten minutes and pour over the frozen coconut and mixed berry sorbet.  Place sorbet in the freezer and let it set.

When ready to serve, turn sorbet upside down on a serving plates and remove cling wrap.  Drizzle the passion fruit, sliced mangos. coconut and berries over the sorbet.  Slice and enjoy.  

Tropical Fruit Platter



After a heavy lunch on Christmas day I tend to have something light.  A fruit platter is easy to prepare and all you need is two large plates or a platter board.  Slice your favourite fruits or summer fruits. 

On my fruit platter I added summer fruits.  I started by placing the red and green  grapes on the middle of the plates.  I sliced mango, sweet melon, kiwi, grapefruit oranges and strawberries. I made some fruit rolls as well.  

To make the fruit rolls.  Use rice paper and sliced fruits.

You can be creative and add any two or three fruits on the rice paper and roll them.

Follow the rice paper instructions.  


Crumble Fish and Salsa



My third finale main dish for Christmas lunch is a delicious crumble fish with salsa.  The fish is marinated with lemon, rosemary and coasted in bread crumbs.  The salsa salad is a combination of tomatoes, red chilli, coriander and cucumber.



   Fish crumble you will need:

Two large snappers

1/3 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon rosemary 

1 lemon  juice

I teaspoon lemon zest

Salt and peer to season

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Place the rosemary and lemon zest in the breadcrumbs.  

Squeeze the lemon on the fish, season with salt and pepper.  Coat the fish in the bread crumbs.

Line a baking tray with non stick paper and place the fish on the tray.  

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

To make the salsa you will need.

250g cherry tomatoes

1 red chilli

125g fresh coriander leaves.

1/2 a lemon juiced

Salt and pepper to season.

Method

Chop the tomatoes in half. chop the chilli, chop the coriander.

In a salad bowl add the ingredients and season with salt. pepper and lemon juice. Mix well.

Beef log with Quinoa Salad

Another simple Christmas lunch idea.  The meat is marinated in  red wine vinegar, cumin, ground fennel and chili flakes.  The fennel brings out the flavour of the meat.  The quinoa salad takes less than thirty minutes to prepare, cook the quinoa, add spinach,  nuts and drizzle red wine vinegar,  The red wine chilli sauce is a great sauce to drizzle over the beef and salad. 

To make this juicy beef log you need:

2.5kg beef log

2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 tablespoon ground coriander

Method

In a large bowl add the vinegar, oil, soy sauce and spices.  Mix well.

Pour the marinade over the lamb and season with salt and pepper.  Cove the meat with cling wrap and place in the fridge and leave overnight.

Preheat oven to 220 degresss

Place meat in the baking tray and cook for 1 to 1.5 hours or to your liking.   

Remove the meat and let it rest for ten minutes than slice.

Tip

Before cooking the meat, make sure it is at room temperature after removing it from the fridge.

 

Quinoa Salad

The quinoa salad is a simple dish to make.  All you need:

1 cup Quinoa

Handful of spinach

1/3 cup olives

Handful of walnuts

Handful of dried cranberries

Method

Cook quinoa according to packet instructions.

Once quinoa is ready and cooled remove a salad plate and place the quinoa, spinach, olives, nuts and cranberries and mix.

To make the red wine vinegar chilli  sauce you need:

1/2 red wine vinegar

1 red chilli

salt and sugar to season.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Taste to your preference.  

 

Chicken Tikka and Vegetables

Christmas is usually a stressful time for the one’s who are cooking.  To ensure a relaxing Christmas, make dishes that are simple and delicious.  This recipe is simply to prep and all you have to do is put the chicken and vegetables in the oven and go and enjoy the day.  

To make the chicken Tikka you need to buy good quality Tikka paste instead of making one.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken

2 tablespoon Tikka Curry paste

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Rub the paste over the chicken and let it stand for half an hour.

Place Chicken on a baking dish and cook for two hours or until cooked through.

Tip

To check if Chicken is cooked, poke the thighs with a skewer if it is clear than it is cooked.  

To make the Tikka vegetables you need the same Tikka paste you used for the chicken and red wine vinegar.

Ingredients

750 g baby potatoes halves

1 large cauliflower chopped in florets

250g Brussel sprouts halves

Coriander to garnish.

1 tablespoon tikka curry paste

Red vinegar to drizzle

To make  the Tikka vegetables

Preheat oven to 180 

In a baking dish add the paste, vegetables and red wine vinegar amd combine.

Place in the oven and bake for an hour or until vegetable are tender and crispy.

Tip

If you are cooking the chicken and vegetables together.  Half way through the chicken cooking time add the vegetables in the second oven tray. 

To make the cucumber sauce

Chop cucumber, add yogurt, and a squeeze of lemon.

To make the red wine vinegar sauce.

Add red wine vinegar, salt and sugar and mix.  Taste to your preference.  

The asparagus salad will take less than ten minutes to make.

Ingredients

250g Asparagus

handful of walnuts

Handful of pine nuts

Handful of dried cranberries

Red wine vinegar to drizzle 

Method

Blanch asparagus for 5 minutes in boiling water.

Drain Asparagus

On a salad plate add the Asparagus , nuts and cranberries and drile with red wine vinegar.  


Kefta Shaksuka

_DSC4136

Today I tried another Moroccan dish.  Kefta Shaksuka, spiced meatball cooked in an aromatic tomato sauce.  I love Moroccan food because of the deep spicy flavours and the simplicity of making this dish.

Ingredients

500g extra lean beef mince

2 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1.5 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup chopped coriander (for the meatball)

2 tablespoon chopped coriander (for the sauce.)

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

400g canned chopped tomatoes

 

 

Method

For the Kefta Meatballs 

In a bowl, add the mince, one onion, ½ a teaspoon of the paprika and cumin.  Add the salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and coriander.

Knead and make small round balls.

For the Sauce

Heat the oil on medium heat.  Add onions and cook for five minutes.

Add the remaining spices, garlic, bay leaves and coriander  and cook for 1 minute.

Add the canned tomatoes, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the meatballs, ¼ cup water and cover for 20-30 minutes.  Simmer ntil the sauce is thick and the meat is cook through.  If the meat is not cooked but sauce is thick add more water.

 

Note 

This dish serves 4

Serve this dish with couscous

 

Try these meatball dishes  

Poached Chicken Meatballs

Pasta with Pesto and Meatballs

Beef Patties with Mashed Potatoes

 

 

 

 

 

Chermoula Chicken

_DSC4119

So this weekend I cooked for the whole family.   This recipe is perfect for large families coming over for lunch or dinner.  All you need to do is marinate the chicken the night before and when you are ready to cook place it in the oven or grill.  This dish is loaded with spices, cumin, paprika, dried chilli and coriander.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon crushed chilli

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 onions quartered

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

2 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoon chopped coriander

125g olive oil

½ lemon juiced

2 kg chicken thighs

salt to season

 

Method

In a food processor add all the spices, onions, ginger garlic, coriander, bay leaves and lemon.  Process until it is a smooth puree.

Place in a bowl for ten minutes to let the flavours develop.

Add the chicken thighs and mix well.  Let it marinate in the fridge overnight.  (The longer you leave it the better)

Preheat oven to 220ºC for ten minutes or until oven is hot.

Remove two trays and line with non stick baking paper.  Place chicken on the trays and place in the oven.

After ten minutes reduce heat to 200º.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked thorough.

 

Note

This dish serves 16