Easy Lemon Beetroot Hummus

I’m of Lebanese heritage on Mum’s side, so hummus is in my blood. Some would say there is too much blood in my hummus stream even. But as much as I love the traditional recipes, I also love to experiment – and this tangy pretty-in-pink version is a great example of how to make better-than-store-bought hummus without the fuss!

Ingredients 

  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 x 200g can beetroot (drained and rinsed)
  • 3 tbsp lemon infused olive oil (or you can use normal olive oil and add lemon zest to taste)
  • 2 tbsp unhulled tahini
  • pinch of sea salt to taste

Method 

  1. Place the chickpeas, beetroot and tahini in the food processor and blend until starting to combine.
  2. While processing, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy, and add the sea salt to taste. Refrigerate before serving to allow the mixture to firm, then serve with your favourite crackers or vegetable sticks.

Meal Prep for Professionals #3

I’ve written before about easy meal prep recipes to make in bulk and freeze for easy meals at work and during the week. This edition of “meal prep for professionals” focuses on one particular kitchen appliance – the trusty oven!

“Baking” can seem daunting for some, and you may even be one of those people who uses their oven for storage instead (Carrie from SATC I’m looking at you). But the oven can be your best friend when it comes to meal prep, where you can roast multiple different proteins and vegetables at the same time to create any number of amazing dishes.

The trick to it is choosing proteins that cook quickly and vegetables that can be grouped into those which take a similar amount of time to cook. Remember this is all being packed away, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s not all hot at the same time!

An example of one of my recent meal prep afternoons:

Three dishes (making 3-4 portions of each = 9-12 meals!)

Pesto barramundi with carrots and sweet potato

  • 2 large barramundi fillets
  • 3 tablespoons of your favourite pesto
  • 3 large purple and 3 large orange carrots
  • 150g baby spinach leaves
  • 3 small sweet potatoes

Turkey with zucchini, beetroot, pumpkin and dukka

  • 500g turkey breast fillet
  • 150g spinach leaves
  • 3 medium zucchinis
  • 6 small beetroots
  • 200g pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons of your favourite dukkha

Ras el hanout spiced pilaf with pumpkin and honey mustard pumpkin seeds

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout (Arabic spice mix)
  • 200g pumpkin
  • 1 tin tomatoes (salt reduced)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 packet of microwave brown, black and red rice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

While the list of ingredients may seem potentially expensive, I save heaps by buying the “ugly” produce where I can (still tastes the same!) and by also shopping seasonally.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C.
  2. Wash and chop ALL of the vegetables! This may seem like the longest part, but it can be made much more enjoyable with Netflix or music playing in the background. Leave the skin on wherever practical to maximise your micronutrients, while also saving time on peeling.
  3. Don’t throw away the pumpkin seeds! Wash them, remove the pumpkin strands, then toss in the honey and mustard, and set aside ready for roasting.
  4. Proteins first. On separate oven trays, roast the barramundi and turkey until cooked through (about 15 minutes). Remove and set aside to rest to free up some oven space!
  5. Group the starchy vegetables (pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot) and group the slightly softer ones (zucchini and carrots) together on the oven trays (you may take up the entire oven!). The softer ones will take about 20 minutes while the starchy ones will take more like 30-40 minutes. The perfect way to keep track of this is to keep a timer on your phone. Put everything in at the same time and put your feet up until you need to take the trays out!
  6. While you’re waiting for this, now is the time to prepare the ridiculously easy pilaf. Microwave the rice according to the instructions, then mix in a large bowl with the chickpeas, Ras el Hanout and tomatoes. Simple!
  7. Leave the pumpkin seeds until last because they can burn if you leave them in for too long. 10 minutes should do the trick.
  8. And now, the assembly! Grab all of your airtight containers and lay them out on the bench. Put spinach in the bottom of all of them, then the vegetables as per the recipe above, then your designated proteins, then your toppings (pesto, dukka or pumpkin seeds). Put a couple in the fridge and a few in the freezer and you’re officially set!

Herbed Turkey and Cranberry Meatballs

Despite living in Australia, we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with our friends thanks to two of them spending a number of years working in Vancouver. While these turkey meatballs are no competition to the amazing roast turkey and myriad of sides our friends serve up, these meatballs do happen to make for super easy mid-week meal prep!

Ingredients (serves 2-4 depending on size)

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 1 piece stale bread (I use gluten free bread and it works well) OR 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup cranberries
  • herbs of your choice – I use 1/2 tablespoon each of fresh parsley, dill, chives and rosemary from our herb garden! But if you’re on a budget, just dried parsley is totally fine!

If you need to make these on a bigger scale, this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled by multiplying all of the quantities. 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the bread in the food processor and process until crumbed. Add the egg, herbs and mince and process until well combined.
  3. Place 2-3 tbsp of mixture on your palm and flatten, then place 3-4 cranberries in the middle, then close the mixture over the top before rolling. Roll the mixture into small meatballs and allow to set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Heat a large fry pan over a medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the meatballs, flatten slightly with the back of a spatula, and brown both sides (don’t need to cook through). 
  5. Transfer the browned patties to the oven tray and bake until cooked through (about 10 minutes or so).
  6. Serve with your choice of greens (or in this case, lettuce with red sorrel from the garden, with cauliflower roasted with a sprinkle of aged parmesan).

S’mores Brownies

Life is all about balance. And sometimes, that involves eating brownies that make your soul incredibly happy, even if your pancreas isn’t. After a little trial and error, I’ve discovered the perfect way to make your usual brownies taste just like s’mores – and wow do these little s’moresels (hehe) pack a punch!

Ingredients (makes 12-24 depending on how you cut them, I prefer mine smaller as these are pretty rich!)

  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 packet McVittie’s digestive nibbles (or similar, but essentially you need small balls of digestive biscuits that are entirely covered in chocolate – normal digestive biscuits will just go soggy in the mix!)
  • Your usual favourite brownie recipe (or packet mix, there is no shame in using a packet mix!)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven as per your usual recipe or packet mix instructions. Line a brownie tray with baking paper.
  2. Prepare your usual brownie recipe or as per the packet mix instructions.
  3. Just before baking, mix in the marshmallows and the digestive nibbles, stir well to combine.
  4. Pour into the tray and bake until just cooked through. Allow to set and cool in the fridge before cutting as the marshmallow will be incredibly sticky while hot!!

One Tray Chicken, Pumpkin and Mushroom Bake

This was a crazy Saturday afternoon experiment. While it didn’t turn out Insta-pic perfect, it did make for some fantastic meal prep with minimal washing up.

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 200g Kent pumpkin
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 500g mushrooms
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 150g baby spinach leaves
  • 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup reduced salt chicken stock
  • 1.4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 microwave packet of brown, red and wild rice

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Lightly spray a baking dish with oil.
  2. Wash and chop the pumpkin and potatoes into small pieces and add to the dish. Bake until starting to soften (15-20 minutes).
  3. Add the mushrooms, asparagus and chicken breasts to the dish and bake until the chicken is almost cooked through (20 minutes). Add the spinach leaves and herbs and bake for a further 5 minutes until the leaves are wilted.
  4. Just prior to serving, cook the rice as per the packet directions and add to the dish.

Peanut Butter Protein Brownies

Peanut butter, banana and chocolatey goodness with the added benefits of being high fibre, low in refined sugar AND high protein? These gloriously fudgy mouthfuls may just be the best brownies ever!

Ingredients (makes 9-12 depending on how you cut them!) 

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal (can substitute with LSA)
  • 1/2 cup cacao pea protein (I use hazelnut cacao pea protein by Botanika Blends)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs cacao (can substitute with cocoa powder, or carob for something sweeter)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 extra-ripe bananas
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter (i.e. no added oil, salt or sugar – I use crunchy PB by Mayvers)

Note if you prefer yours sweeter, you can also add 2 tbs maple syrup or coconut sugar.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a brownie tray with baking paper.
  2. In a bowl, mash the bananas, then add the eggs and oil and mix until well combined.
  3. Add the flour, flaxseed, pea protein, cacao and baking powder to the mix and again, stir everything until well combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the brownie tray, then swirl the peanut butter on top (place blobs about 1/3rd of the tray apart from each other, then use a fork to swirl into the mixture).
  5. Bake until a sewer comes out clean (about 20-30 minutes). Allow to cool before cutting.

For a bit of crunch, you can also add your favourite nuts or cacao nibs to the mix! 

Spanakopita-Style Frittata

One of my favourite meals growing up was Spanakopita: a Greek spinach and cheese pie, lovingly wrapped in filo pastry. There is no way I can replicate the sheer awesomeness of my mother’s recipe, so I improvised and made a Spanakopita style frittata instead. It’s packed with veggies and perfect for meal prep!

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 200g pumpkin
  • 150g bag baby spinach leaves
  • 4 large Swiss Chard / Silverbeet leaves
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup salt reduced chicken stock
  • 200g Greek or Australian style feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Lightly grease a roasting dish with oil.
  2. Wash, peel and chop the pumpkin and potatoes into chunks. Roast in the dish until soft (about 25 minutes).
  3. Chop the spinach and silverbeet leaves into large pieces.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, parsley, crumbled feta, yogurt and stock, and mix until well combined.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven, toss the roasted veggies with the spinach and silverbeet leaves in the dish, then pour the egg mixture on top.
  6. Return to the oven until firm (about 20-30 minutes). Enjoy hot or cold!

Muesli Banana Bites

Banana bites, doo-doo doo-doo-doo. (It’s a Muppet joke, sorry).

These tasty morsels are deliciously moreish, full of fibre and make for a satisfying snack that’s easy to hide in my scrub pocket!

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 2 large over-ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or mylk (I used hazelnut coconut milk for something different!)
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup raw muesli
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (can substitute with almond or hazelnut meal)
  • 2 tbsp melted cocoa butter (can substitute for Nuttalex or butter or coconut oil)

Method

  1.  Preheat the oven to 200*C and grease or line a 12 cup capacity muffin tray.
  2. Mash the banana and mix with the eggs, milk and butter until combined.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet ingredient mix and mix well.
  4. Pour into the muffin tray and bake until golden (15-20 minutes).
  5. Serve warm with natural peanut butter or a squirt of maple syrup!

If you like them a little sweeter, try adding 2 tbsp maple syrup into the mix, or experiment by adding some chopped dates or raw dark chocolate – yum!

Healthy ABC Cake with Lemon Ricotta Icing

I adore banana bread and carrot cake, but I wanted to make something a little different to use up some old vegetables. So here’s my version of an ABC (apple, banana, carrot) cake instead! Packed full of fruit and veggies and with no added refined sugar, this can be a rather nifty way to contribute to your 7 serves a day!

Ingredients 

ABC Cake

  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 large banana
  • 3/4 cup flaxmeal
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil Nuttalex

Lemon Maple Icing

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C.
  2. Grate the carrot and apple. Set aside.
  3. Place the banana, milk, eggs and Nuttalex in a bowl and mush until combined (the banana can stay in chunks).
  4. Add the carrot, apple, almond meal, flaxseed meal and baking soda to the wet mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. Place the mixture into muffin tins (or a 20cm cake tin) and press flat. Bake until golden and firm to touch (~30 minutes). Allow to cool before icing.
  6.  To make the icing, mix the yogurt, ricotta, maple syrup and lemon zest in a bowl (mix slowly to avoid lumps), the stir in the coconut. Spread on top of the cake / muffins and allow to set in the fridge before serving. I topped mine with honey roasted macadamia nuts for a little extra crunch!

Linseed and Strawberry Donuts

Linseed or flaxseed is something that I usually find at the supermarket but have rarely used in cooking until recently. It’s a shame, because it’s a great source of good fatty acids and fibre, and is also the preferred fibre supplement for those who suffer from IBS and are prone to bloating.

In light of that, I may have accidentally created the ultimate bloat-free donut! Free from dairy, refined sugar and gluten!

Ingredients (makes 6 large)

  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1/2 cup linseed meal (also known as flaxseed meal)
  • 1/2 cup teff grain 
  • 250g punnet strawberries
  • 1 cup almond milk (or you can use regular milk)
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 2 tablespoons of melted olive oil Nuttalex (or just use olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla pea protein powder (entirely optional and just to add a bit more protein, but if you do add it, add another 1/4 cup almond milk)
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or your choice of sweetener e.g. rice malt syrup, Stevia)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Grease a donut or bundt tray with your choice of oil or butter (or alternatively, NoDo Donuts make a great silicon mould!).
  2. Mix the quinoa flakes, linseed meal, teff grain, baking powder +/- protein powder until well combined.
  3. Add the almond milk, eggs, melted Nuttalex and maple syrup and mix well.
  4. Chop the strawberries into small chunks and add to the mixture, leaving some aside.
  5. Pour the batter into the tray, top with the rest of the strawberries and bake until they spring back when touched (about 15-20 minutes). Eat warm with your favourite natural peanut butter!