Raspberry Chia Sauce

I went to cooking school in Paris. While I was there, we learned how to make “Canard avec fruites rouge” (duck with red fruits), which was essentially a pan fried duck with amazing raspberry sauce. In my usual habit of trying to recreate things, I tried to make my own raspberry sauce, but with a slightly thicker texture – and so this raspberry ‘jam’ was born. Note that it is supposed to be tart like cranberry sauce rather than sweet like strawberry jam, so don’t get a fright if you put in on your toast and something tastes a little odd!

Ingredients 

  • 200g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/8 cup white chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 tsb balsamic vinegar (flavoured ones work well here, I used fig and guava with success)

Method

  1. Using a fork, gently mash the raspberries. Add the water and vinegar and stir to combine.
  2. Add the chia seeds and continuously stir until starting to thicken. Put aside in the fridge for 5 minutes and stir again (if too thick at this stage, add small amounts of water until it thins out). Return to the fridge until ready to serve.

For example – roasted turkey with spinach, slaw and a sweet potato and pumpkin smash! 

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!).


 

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!

Vegan Protein Cookie-dough Balls


Dangerously moreish and salmonella-free! 

Ingredients (makes 12) 

  • 300g can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup pea protein 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence  
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon Coco2 spread (or raw peanut butter) 
  • 3 tablespoons water 
  • Sprinkle of stevia (optional) 
  • Raw or vegan chocolate of your choice, a few squares chopped into rough chunks

Method

  1. Blend all the ingredients in the food processor until a dough forms. If you prefer it slightly sweeter, add the stevia to taste. 
  2. Mix in the chocolate.
  3. Roll into balls and chill in the fridge.
  4. Devour with guilt-free enthusiasm! 

Epic Raw Bliss Balls

IMG_2290

The recipe for these bliss balls was an experiment for a Mayver’s Food competition on Instagram. They turned out spectacularly well, and I’m stoked that I’ve found a delicious new pre-workout snack!

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons cacao powder (you could use cocoa or carob instead)
  • 2 teaspoons tahini
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup hot water

Method

  1. Soak the dates in hot water for 5 minutes to soften them, then remove from the bowl.
  2. Place the dates, oats, cacao, tahini and peanuts in the food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together. You may need to add a teaspoon of the water here and there if the mixture seems too dry. The mixture should not stick to the sides of the bowl, but should be just wet enough to stick together when firmly pressed.
  3. Remove the mixture from the processor bowl and roll into small balls (approx. 1 tablespoon mixture each) using your palms, before rolling the balls in the coconut.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or for an icy treat, stored in an airtight container in the freezer. Enjoy these little moments of bliss!