Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Warms the soul as well as the belly!

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 200g butternut pumpkin
  • 4 large carrots
  • 125g can coconut cream
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • Chives to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C and roast the pumpkin and carrots until soft and golden. Allow to cool slightly.
  2. Place the roasted pumpkin and carrot, sage, rosemary, stock and coconut cream in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively, place the mixture in a large bowl or saucepan and blend with a stick blender until smooth.
  3. Serve hot with chives on top.

Spiced Protein Porridge

Hooray! The weather is FINALLY cool enough for the first protein porridge of the season!

Ingredients (serves 1-2)

  • 3/4 cup rice flakes or oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp vanilla pea protein
  • 1/2 tsp chai spice (or cinnamon / cardamom)
  • Banana and almond butter for serving

Method

  1. Mix the rice flakes, milk, protein, flaxseed and spice together in a bowl.
  2. Microwave on high for 2.5 minutes.
  3. Serve topped with banana and almond butter. Easy!

Breakfast berry oat protein bars

A mouthful to say and a mouthful to eat! Another delicious creation on my never ending quest to keep my scrub pockets full of snacks….

Ingredients (makes 8)

  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup vanilla pea protein (I use Botanika Blends)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 and 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 2 tablespoon liquid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Method

    Preheat the oven to 200*C. Line a slice tray with baking paper.
    Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
    Add the wet ingredients and stir well.
    Add the frozen berries and mix through.
    Spoon and flatten the mixture into the slice tin, bake until set (about 30-40 minutes) and allow to cool before slicing into 8 pieces. Store wrapped in baking paper in the freezer or in an air tight container in the fridge.

Lemon quince Pterodactyl wings

Sorry for the radio silence! Between studying for fellowship and moving, I’ve barely had time to function this year.

Now, I know this is not my normal kind of recipe, but if these make dinner easy and delicious for anyone else who’s busy like me then I’ll be happy!

These enormous turkey wings were cooked in my brand new oven, and what can I say, I’m impressed!

Ingredients

    Turkey wings (about 800g which was 5)
    • 2 tablespoons lemon infused olive oil (I used

Cobram Estate

    )
    2 tablespoons quince paste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170*C.
  2. In a bowl, mix the lemon olive oil and quince paste together. Spread the mixture on top of the turkey wings.
  3. Wrap the turkey wings all together in a parcel of baking paper (so that the quince doesn’t burn) and bake until cooked through (about an hour). Allow to rest before serving with your favourite greens!

Granola-Crusted Salmon

I know, it sounds ridiculous, but trust me, it works! The trick is to use a granola that’s nut-based and doesn’t contain added refined sugars.

Ingredients (serves 2) 

  • 2 salmon fillets, skin off
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 bunch asparagus (I prefer raw, but it can also be blanched in boiling water for 1 minute just prior to serving)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Chop the sweet potato into rough chunks and place on a lined baking tray. Bake until soft (20 minutes).
  2. On another lined baking tray, place the salmon and bake for 10 minutes. Crust the granola in a small bowl, and while still hot, place the salmon skin side down into the granola and press firmly to stick. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, and allow to rest before serving.
  3. Serve the salmon with potato, spinach and asparagus.

Breakfast On The Go

This is a follow on from my ‘Sexy Salads’ and ‘Meal Prep for Professionals’ pieces, as I am out to prove that if a sleep-deprived and ridiculously busy doctor can make the time to organise her food, then there’s nothing holding you back too!

My colleagues at work have both teased and praised me for my breakfast choices at work. I tend to arrive hurriedly at 7 am, still in my gym clothes, madly eating a jar of breakfast while attempting to change into my scrubs and make my hair and makeup presentable. Yes I did say a jar of breakfast.

The breakfast parfait / layered breakfast jar is one of the ultimate nutritious breakfasts on the go, and surprisingly easy to make. Some of the most beautiful breakfast jars on social media have to be seen to be believed, but us mere mortals don’t often have the time for that. But if you’re keen to start the day on the wholesome foot, here are a few ideas to get you started!

Overnight Oats 

Essentially the cream-less version of Bircher Muesli. Place 1/4 cup of oats in the jar and mix with a yogurt of your choice (stick to the plain ones with less sugar, I like the plain fat reduced Chobani or Paul’s natural style yogurt) and add a scoop of your favourite protein powder if you’re that way inclined. You can also kick start the metabolism with a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric or ginger, or really mix things up with some matcha powder or grated carrot / zucchini (don’t knock it until you try it!). Then top with fruit (frozen berries work well here but also try banana, mango or stonefruit) and your favourite granola or nuts. These don’t have to be left in the fridge overnight but they thicken when they do. You can easily make a stash of them a few days in advance and enjoy a run of less-stressful morning rushes to work!


Chia Pudding

Similar to overnight oats in terms of the process, however it does require the added step of being mixed with a fork. Soak 1/4 cup of chia seeds in a milk of your choice (I find the nut and soy milks work better here for some reason) and mix well with a fork. Let it sit for five minutes and stir with a fork again and you’ll notice that the seeds develop a gelatinous coating and stick together as pudding. Allow to rest for another five minutes before topping with fruit, granola, nuts and / or yogurt, and let it sit overnight in the fridge for the ultimate thick consistency.

Want a decadent breakfast without the calories and guilt? Try 1/4 cup of chia seeds mixed with 1/2 cup of almond milk and 1 tablespoon cacao. Top with coconut yogurt, cacao nibs and a dollop of your favourite natural peanut butter – absolute bliss!

Baked Eggs

A less fancy but no less tasty variation on Eggs en concotte or Shakshuka. Pre-heat the oven to 180*C or so. For a single serve, take a large oven proof jar or ramekin and spray with olive oil. Line the base with spinach, kale or silverbeet, then add whatever tidbits take your fancy (like leftover roasted vegetables, fetta cheese, haloumi, sundried tomatoes, capsicum, mushrooms etc). Then crack two large free-range eggs over the top (don’t scramble!) and season with salt, pepper, dukkha / dried herbs / a sprinkle of cheese, then bake until the whites are firm. These can be made en-masse and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days ahead, or can even be frozen. Just reheat when ready to eat, although many combinations actually taste good cold too!


Vegetable slice alternative: Preheat the oven to 200*C and line a small brownie tray with baking paper. In a bowl mix 6 eggs, 1/2 cup of plain flour of your choice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tsp baking powder and then throw in 1 cup of whatever finely chopped vegetables you like – chopped spinach, rocket, tomatoes, mushroom, roast potato / pumpkin, steamed broccoli, grated carrot, zucchini etc. Sprinkle with your choice of cheese and seasoning, then bake until just set (10-12 minutes). The result is 4 servings of a portable, delicious, fluffy, quiche-like slice!


Smoothie Jars 

As long as you use an airtight jar, these can be made the day before for the ultimate portable liquid breakfast (and you usually get two servings out of each). Try blending 1 cup of nut milk, 1 cup of spinach, 1/2 cup of frozen berries and a 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to increase your daily intake of leafy greens. Need refuelling after your morning workout? Try blending 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of plain yogurt, a scoop of protein powder, 1/4 cup of oats and 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter. Skip the banana bread and instead use 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 banana, 1/4 cup of oats, and 1/2 tsp each of cinnamom, cardamom and ginger. It’s pretty hard to stuff these up nutritionally, just use fruit instead of sweeteners and limit the amount that goes in. Also stick to blending rather than juicing as this tends to extract the flavour and sugar from the fruit / vegetables without retaining the amazing fibre that helps to keep you full (and your bowels regular!).


 

Meal Prep For Professionals

The meal preppers. We’ve all seen one. Those mystical people on Instagram who manage to make a month’s worth of meals in one go, leaving themselves organised and thus carefree to do whatever they like instead of wasting time on cooking. If you’re a fan of eating chicken, broccoli and brown rice every day for the next month, this may seem like a fantastic idea. But for many of us, this seems both daunting and tiresome.

I am one of those people who enjoys ‘meal-prep’ but within reason – I have figured out a method that works for me. I love cooking, it’s my way to unwind and de-stress after work. However, I hate the morning rush to work (which starts before 5am for me on a day shift) so if I have any chance of a healthy lunch at the hospital, I need to be prepared.

Enter the Frozen Salad. Yes you heard me correctly.

These are salads that you can easily make ahead, with little cooking, that can be customised to any dietary requirements, that freeze well and just require some reheating when ready to be consumed. Now obviously there will be no lettuce featured here, but if you replace the foliage with various vegetables that are able to be eaten heated,  then you’ll open your mind to a whole different world of salad creativity!

Constructing The Frozen Salad 

  1. Choose your base: I cook quinoa in the microwave and then mixing it with Dijon mustard and tomato paste, and I’m also a huge fan of those 2 minute brown or black rice packets from the supermarket (the Ancient Grains from Coles is particularly good). Easy!
  2. Choose your foliage: I tend to stick with spinach, rocket or kale because they withstand the freezer well and taste reasonably palatable when reheated.
  3. Choose your protein: Chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils, black eyed beans, salmon and tofu are all firm favourites of mine here! But you could also throw in your leftover chicken or beef from the night before, whatever takes your fancy!
  4. Choose your vegetables: I know you’ve already got foliage but trust me, once you realise the many different options available, you’ll want to experiment! Roast whatever vegetables you have with some olive oil, salt and a sprinkle of herbs or seasoning of your choice and add them to the mix – think sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, turnips and carrots. It’s also a great way to use up the vegetables that are edging slowly closer to their used by date but won’t all be eaten in time. Don’t forget your canned vegetables if you’re short on time as well, particularly corn and beetroot.
  5. Choose your miscellaneous flavoursome toppings: Cherry or semi-dried tomatoes, roasted or finely sliced raw capsicum, pickles, dukkha or a sprinkle of strong cheese all work magnificently as your finishing touches!

You will quickly get the hang of this as you discover which flavours you like (and I’ve attached a few ideas below!). When an hour of meal prep can save you a week’s worth of stale cafeteria sandwiches or deep fried junk, then why not give it a go?!


Black beans, chick peas, roasted sweet potato, leafy greens, grana padano cheese.


5 Ancient Grains mixed with mustard and tomato paste, with red kidney beans, sundried tomatoes, leafy greens and capsicum.


Panfried salmon with crunchy Asian slaw and wilted greens


Sauteed silverbeet and kale with celery, dukka and grana adano cheese (eaten with eggs on the side).


Pearly barley cooking with crushed tomatoes, with kidney beans, corn, celery and kale.


Roasted vegetables with sage and thyme, with Mayver’s Super Spread (a blended mixture of nuts and chia seeds).


Pearl barley and lentils with kale, asparagus, capsicum and tahini.

The Secret to Sexy Salads

There is nothing sexy about soggy lettuce (unless you have a niche fetish for damp foliage, in which case, best of luck to you!). We’ve all had those superb salads that make us revalidate healthy eating as a delicious life decision, as well as those other inferior salads that leave our souls and stomachs empty inside.

So what is the secret to constructing a truly sexy salad? It’s all to do with balance. Balance the textures, balance the flavours, and rejoice in the tasty nutritious harmony that results!  For the novice home cooks, this may sound easier said than done, but fear not – follow this simply guide and you’ll be well on your way to salad stardom.

Balance the macros
First of all, make sure to include a mixture of carbs, protein and fats; this will ensure your salad will actually keep you full. Some suggestions include;

  • – carbs: quinoa, rice, buckwheat, pasta, freekah, potato, pumpkin
  • – protein: beans, lentils, chicken, salmon, tuna, lean cuts of red meat, haloumi, tofu
  • – fats: avocado, olive oil, nuts



Add the foliage 

There’s no rule saying you must use lettuce! Try different varieties of fancy lettuce, beetroot leaves, spinach or kale for something mild, rocket for something spicy, or celery leaves for a more aniseed flavour.



Balance the flavours

This is the slightly tricky part but it gets easier with practice! Aim for three of the five tastes of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury. Some suggestions include;

  • – sweet: mango, orange, peaches, tomatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin, a drizzle of honey
  • – sour: apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • – bitter: lemon, lime, grapefruit
  • – salty: salt obviously, seafood
  • – savoury: miso, grains


Balance the textures

Now this is how you boredom bust your salads! Think about what you’ve already got and go through a little mental checklist. Have I got something crunchy? If not, add nuts or seeds. Have I got something soft / squishy? If not, add soft cheese, tofu, avocado, pumpkin etc. Have I got something in between? If not, think about your vegetables like capsicum, corn, beans etc.



Dress your salad

Always leave the dressing until you’re just about to serve to prevent your bottom from going soggy (the salad I mean). Rather than the calorie laden high sugar dressings from the supermarket, I often choose for a small sprinkle of oil (try macadamia, avocado, olive or rapeseed) and a spritz of vinegar (like balsamic, apple cider or white / red wine vinegar).

Ta-dah! You are now well on your way to slaying at salads. See, you can make friends with salad after all!