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.

Roast Pumpkin and Eggplant Bake

This is one of my favourite meal-prep dishes ever, and I have been known to exist off it when I’m on a week of night shift. This is vegetarian soul-food at it’s finest – packed full of veggies and unbelievably tasty, plus easily adaptable to suit the vegans, dairy-free and coeliacs among us!

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 250g kent pumpkin
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 tin of diced tomatoes
  • 4 fresh basil leaves or 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 clove of garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup salt-reduced stock (use either veggie or chicken  – use a gluten free stock to make this coeliac friendly!)
  • 1 yellow capsicum
  • 2 large carrots
  • 150g bag of baby spinach leaves (can also substitute for green kale)
  • shredded mozzarella for sprinkling on top (portion dependent on how cheesy you like it, can be substituted for dairy-free cheese instead) 

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Slice the pumpkin into 1cm thick slices and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake until just soft (about 20 minutes – continue the rest of the recipe in the meantime!).
  2. Prepare the sauce: Place the tomatoes, stock, garlic and herbs into a mixing bowl and stir until well combined. If you like your sauce thicker, you can also add 1 tbsp tomato paste or substitute the tinned tomatoes for passata instead. 
  3. Prepare the rest of the veggies: Slice the eggplant width ways into discs. Dice or slice the capsicum into small strips. Also slice the carrots length ways into small discs.
  4. In an oven-proof baking dish, start by laying down a layer of eggplant slices. Top with the spinach leaves, then a layer of pumpkin, followed by the capsicum and carrots, then half the sauce and a small sprinkle of cheese. Repeat the process with another layer of eggplant, then spinach, pumpkin, capsicum and carrot, with the rest of the sauce spooned over the top and sprinkled with cheese to your liking.
  5. Bake until the eggplant is soft and the cheese on top is golden brown (about 20-30 minutes). Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Note that even when it has been cooked, the eggplant skin can be a little tough to slice, so go slowly with a big knife! Also feel free to experiment with different types of cheese – I have used combinations of Jarlsberg, Edam, feta, mozzarella, ricotta, goats cheese and provolone with great success! 

Vegan Mushroom and Cauliflower Soup

Soup-er easy, nourishing, heart-warming and vegan – it’s just like a big hug in a bowl!

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 250g mushroom cups
  • 1 small whole cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 litre stock of your choice (vegetable if you’re vegan, chicken if you’re not)
  • 150g shimeji or enoki mushrooms
  • brown rice to serve

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Chop the cauliflower and the mushroom cups into small pieces of roughly equal sizes. Leave the shimeji mushrooms whole. Spray the vegetables with olive oil, and roast on a lined baking tray until the mushrooms are squishy and the cauliflower is browning / crispy around the edges (approximately 15-20 minutes).
  2. Cook the brown rice as per directions on the packet.
  3. Place the roasted mushroom cup pieces, cauliflower, garlic and stock in the blender, and blend until smooth. Top with the brown rice and shimeji mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meal Prep for Professionals # 2

As a busy shift worker, I am a fan of making and freezing meals in bulk, particularly when I know I have a hectic week or two of work ahead. Following on from my original Meal Prep for Professionals post, here is another collection of make-ahead ideas!


Healthy Fish and Chips – Salmon with Sweet Potato and Pretty Tahini Slaw 

Ingredients (makes 4 servings) 

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 300g dry coleslaw salad mix
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 200g spinach
  • 4 x salmon fillets, skin off

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Roughly chop the sweet potato into wedges, spray with olive oil and bake until just soft (15 minutes). Add the salmon onto the same tray and return to the oven until the salmon is baked through (12 minutes).
  2. Place the coleslaw mix, tahini, salt and mustard in the food processor and blend until finely chopped and mixed through.
  3. Serve the slaw with the spinach, salmon and sweet potato.

Broccoli, beetroot and balsamic salad 

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 200g fat-reduced feta cheese
  • 200g tin beetroot slices, drained and rinsed thoroughly (or alternatively, roast and slice 2 large beetroots yourself)
  • 200g can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 200g spinach
  • balsamic vinegar (I used Pukka Estate fig balsamic for this recipe)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Chop the broccoli into florets and bake until soft and slightly charred around the edges.
  2. To assemble the salad, place the spinach on the bottom, followed by the beetroot, broccoli, chickpeas and feta. Drizzle with balsamic and add the almonds just prior to serving to ensure they stay crunchy!

Chicken with Teriyaki Quinoa and Greens 

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 1 bunch pak choi
  • 1 bunch bok choi
  • 4 large kale leaves
  • 1 glove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup tricolour quinoa
  • 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 4 chicken breasts (skin off)
  • Nori seaweed to serve

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Place the chicken breasts on a tray, season with salt / pepper to your liking, and roast until cooked through (~ 15 minutes). Set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the vegetables and sautee in a fry pan over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil and garlic until just wilted. Set aside.
  3. Place the quinoa and 1 cup of water in a microwave proof dish and cook for 12-15 minutes until the quinoa is soft.
  4. To serve, place the vegetables on the bottom, top with the quinoa, drizzle with teriyaki sauce, then add the chicken (sliced) and top with crushed nori seaweed or bonito flakes.

Spiced Potato and Pumpkin Salad 

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 1 large potato, skin on
  • 1/4 large pumpkin
  • 300g can corn kernels, drained
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly torn apart with stems removed
  • 200g feta or goat cheese
  • Moroccan style seasoning (I used Sahara by Mingle Seasoning)
  • Dukkha to serve (choose something earthy and ideally sesame / tomato based here)

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Slice the potato and pumpkin into small chunks, coat in a spray of olive oil and seasoning, and bake until soft and golden (~ 20 minutes).
  2. To assemble the salad, place the kale on the bottom, then layer the corn, pumpkin and potato on top. Add the cheese and sprinkle with the dukkha.

 

Sassy Shakshouka

I bake these ahead of time and freeze them for the perfect quick, protein-loaded, ‘throw in the microwave and then eat in the car’ style breakfast while I’m rushing to work of a morning!

Baked eggs with mushroom, cherry tomato, spinach and seeds 

Makes 2 servings (of 2 eggs each). Preheat the oven to 200*C. Grease the ramekins with olive oil, then line with a small handful of spinach. Place 2 button mushrooms and 2 cherry tomatoes on top of each ramekin, followed by the eggs (1 each in a small ramekin or  2 in a large). Sprinkle with 1 tsp of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, then bake for 10 minutes until the egg white is cooked through.

Baked eggs with broccoli, peas, beetroot and macadamia dukkha 

Makes 2 servings (of 2 eggs each). Preheat the oven to 200*C. Grease the ramekins with olive oil, the roughly chop the broccoli florets and place at the bottom. Add 1/8 cup frozen peas in each ramekin, then 1 baby beetroot finely sliced. Top with the eggs and a sprinkle of dukkha, then bake for 10 minutes until the egg whites are cooked through.

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.