Category Archives: Kitchen

3 Bomb-Awesome Salads: The Slow Kitchen

It’s the last month of summer here in Australia (in terms of the official seasons anyway – it tends to stay warm here until late-April at least) and that means it’s the season of salads. Since I stopped eating meat I found I need more from my salads than just leafy greens, cucumber and tomatoes, so I’ve pulled together three of my favourite salads that won’t leave you gnawing on the tablecloth once you’re done.

Aside from satisfying, these awesome salads all accompany other dishes really well and are also great to keep for work lunches and those hot lazy nights when leftovers are just what the doctor ordered.

Plus, like all other recipes in my Slow Kitchen series, they’re simple, easy, healthy and full of real ingredients. Enjoy!

3 Bomb-Awesome Salads: The Slow Kitchen

Packed Salsa
(Makes a big bowl – enough for 4 people as a side)

You’ll Need:

  • 2 ripe avocados – diced
  • 2 corn cobs – steamed, kernels sliced off
  • 2 large tomatoes – diced
  • 400g tin red kidney beans – rinsed and drained
  • handful fresh coriander – roughly torn
  • lemon juice
  • glug of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Simply:

  1. Combine all ingredients and top with good squirt of lemon juice and a glug of olive oil.
  2. Mix.
  3. Eat with abandon.

Try serving with:

  • A baked potato topped with melted cheese, natural yoghurt and baby spinach.
  • Chilli con carne or my lentil and vegetable chilli.
  • Steamed fish or a BBQ.

 

Garden-in-a-Bowl Salad
(Makes a huge salad – enough for dinner and lunch the next day)

You’ll Need:

  • handful brussel sprouts – shredded
  • medium-sized beetroot – peeled and grated
  • 1/2 small head broccoli – chopped into florets
  • a few handfuls baby spinach, kale or other leafy green
  • avocado – diced
  • 2 cobs of corn – steamed, kernels sliced off
  • cucumber – sliced
  • tomatoes – sliced
  • 1/2 small head cauliflower – chopped into florets
  • handful green herbs – coriander, basil or mint
  • cup of cooked quinoa or other grain
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Simply:

  1. Combine all ingredients (if you aren’t eating immediately, keep the beetroot out until just before serving).
  2. Add or subtract ingredients based on seasonal availability and add more pulses or legumes as desired. (Black beans or kidney beans are also a great inclusion, as is crumbled goat’s cheese).

Try serving with:

  • Pita bread, felafel, pickled jalapenos and natural yoghurt
  • Grilled field mushroom
  • A piece of fish or BBQ

 

Quinoa and Roast Vege Salad
(Makes enough for 8)

You’ll Need:

  • 400g packet quinoa – cooked
  • 1/2 butternut pumpkin – roughly chopped (skin left on – it’s quicker)
  • 3 large beetroot – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 handfuls kalamata olives – drained (I love olives but you can leave them out or have less in your salad if you’d prefer)
  • goat’s cheese
  • baby spinach
  • baby rocket
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Simply:

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C / 420F.
  2. Place the pumpkin and beetroot on a roasting tray in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until bottom of vegetables begins to colour.
  3. Pull the vegetables out of the oven, flip and add a few handfuls of kalamata olives to the tray. Return to oven for another 20-ish minutes or until the veges begin to caramelise and crisp up.
  4. Remove vegetables from oven and leave to rest for a little while.
  5. Combine quinoa, vegetables, baby leafy greens and goats cheese in a large bowl and combine well. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Enjoy!

Note on cooking (and pronouncing) quinoa:

It’s pronounced KEEN-wah, and the best way to cook it for most savoury needs is:

  1. Rinse in a fine sieve under warm water. Use your fingers to swirl the seeds around and ensure the water runs clear from the bottom of the sieve or there will be a slightly bitter, soapy flavour.
  2. Put in a saucepan on high heat and add double the amount of liquid to quinoa. That is, if you’re cooking 1 cup raw quinoa, add 2 cups of liquid.
  3. You can cook it in water, but I prefer to cook in vegetable stock. Gives it a little more flavour.
  4. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Remove saucepan from heat, put the lid on and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Quinoa should be nice and fluffy, with the white ‘germ’ visible in the cooked seed.

Try serving with:

  • Tortillas and natural yoghurt.
  • Lamb or chicken skewers.
  • Felafel and pita bread.
  • Nothing! This is a delicious meal on its own and keeps very well for weekday lunches.

 

Feeling hungry (and strangely virtuous) just writing about these. Bon appetit, my friends!

M is for Meal Planning: A-Z of Simple Living

Meal Planning Image via Kyla Roma

{via Kyla Roma on Flickr}

 

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

——

Meal planning.

You understand the benefits. You know it’s a good idea. You can see it helps save both money and energy.

But, honestly…

  • Thinking of endless new recipes?
  • Keeping everyone’s preferences in mind?
  • Finding good, seasonal produce?
  • Remembering what you have on hand already?
  • Shopping for specific ingredients?

Who has the energy?

But the reality is that without meal-planning, you have to do this each and every day.

Simple living is all about reducing unnecessary stress, and focusing on the good stuff. And a good meal plan will set you up for a week or more, meaning you only have to think about the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” once.

The trick? Think of meal planning like a good, hard work out – when you’re in the midst of it you curse the decision to ever start, but once you’ve finished and are benefiting from the results, you can see that the short-term pain was worth the long-term gain.

If You Don’t Know Where to Start:

1. Decide how often you will write out your meal plan.

Weekly? Fortnightly? I have a friend who plans her family meals 10 weeks at a time. It’s just important to establish what works best for you.

2. How will you write the plan itself?

I use the age-old method of pen and paper, but there are multiple apps, beautiful printables and online programs you can use if you prefer a more high-tech solution. Just make sure it doesn’t distract more than help you.

3. Write out the plan.

Take a piece of paper, write out the menu for the coming fortnight on the bottom half. Make sure to include lunches too, as well as any baking you plan to do.

4. Write out the grocery list.

On the top half of the paper write your shopping list for the week/fortnight. It’s easiest to do this at the same time as the meal plan – to ensure no ingredients are missed – and reduce the need for last-minute trips to the shop.

Meal-Planning Hacks to Make Your Job Even Easier:

 

Hack #1: It’s Perfectly Fine to Cook the Same Meal – Frequently.

If you have a family favourite there is no problem in repeating it consistently. My kids love these salmon patties (bonus Mum Points for their incredible vegetable-hiding ninja-skills) and we have them once a week at least.

I haven’t had a complaint yet.

Hack #2: Have the same ‘type’ of food on particular days of the week.

For example:

  • Monday: Pasta
  • Tuesday: Slow cooker meal
  • Wednesday: Left overs
  • Thursday: Seafood
  • Friday: Homemade pizza
  • Saturday: BBQ
  • Sunday: Soup

This simply reduces the stress of what to choose for each day when writing your plan. Obviously you can find a huge variety when it comes to each type of food, meaning you’re not locked in to the same seven meals every week.

Hack #3: Know your schedule.

You know your family’s work, play and school schedule better than anyone. Do yourself a kindness and use this knowledge to plan quick and simple meals for your busy days.

Hack #4: Try new things.

Set yourself a goal of trying one new recipe per plan.You’re certain to discover some new favourites, some not-so-favourites and to keep growing your repertoire over time.

All You Have to Lose is Time Spent at the Shop.

Meal planning really doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. After all, the reason we do things like this is to make life simpler, not harder. We want to free up time for what is important: like drinking cocktails and chasing unicorns.

 

 

 

The Slow Kitchen – Lentil and Vegetable Chilli

I’ve been eating a vegetarian diet for about 6 weeks now, and this hearty lentil and vegetable chilli (spice optional) has been on my menu every one of those weeks. It ticks a lot of boxes: it’s healthy, it’s easy to make, it pairs perfectly with lamb or chicken skewers so is great for those nights when I can’t face cooking two meals, it freezes very well and is also great for breakfast.

In short, this recipe is a winner that should satisfy most tastes in your home, and like all other recipes in my Slow Kitchen series, is simple, easy, healthy and full of real ingredients. Enjoy!

Tasty Vegetable and Lentil Chilli

Lentil and Vegetable Chilli

(Serves 6, Ready in 40min+ depending on simmer time)

You’ll Need:

  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 large carrot – grated
  • 1 cup mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 large zucchini – grated
  • corn cob – kernels only
  • 1-2 handfuls broccoli – roughly chopped
  • 1-2 handfuls cauliflower – roughly chopped
  • 2 cups leafy greens – roughly chopped
  • tin of black beans, red kidney beans or similar – rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup dried red lentils – rinsed
  • 1/2 cup passata
  • tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • Natural yogurt, chopped coriander/cilantro, to serve

Note: This is another of my “use any vegetables in the fridge” recipe, so feel free to change up the vege mix to suit.

Simply:

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic with some olive oil. Cook until onion has softened.
  2. Add the cumin and chilli powder and stir for a minute.
  3. Add your chopped vegetables and cook for a few minutes, until they begin to soften.
  4. Add your rinsed lentils, combining well.
  5. Add your passata, tomatoes, stock and beans. Bring to the boil.
  6. Cover and simmer on medium heat for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with yoghurt and coriander.

Note: This keeps very well and makes a great mid-week leftover meal or a healthy, substantial breakfast or lunch to take to work. 

Variations/Additions:

Need Meat?: Serve with a piece of steak or lamb cooked with some garlic and coriander. Marinated chicken skewers are also a good accompaniment and popular with kids.

More Vegetables: This recipe will work with virtually any vegetables you have on hand. Pumpkin, squash, kale, potatoes, carrots – they all cook up beautifully. Just note that you may need to add more crushed tomatoes or vegetable stock if you up the vege content by a lot.

Vegan: Leave off the yoghurt and you’re good to go with this dish. Try some sliced avocado on top instead.

Gluten-Free: This is a gluten-free dish, happy days!

Why I decided to stop eating meat

Why I decided to stop eating meat

This month I challenged myself to go vegetarian.

Truth is, I’ve always been curious about going vego and over the past few years I’ve been less and less likely to eat a lot of meat. But convenience and compromise got the better of me and I really, really didn’t want to be cooking two meals per night to accomodate for myself and Sparky and the kids. So I went along eating meat and cooking 2-3 meat-free meals a week simply because I enjoyed them more and it boosted the amount of vegetables we were all eating.

But I came to the realisation that it wouldn’t be too much of a change for me to shift to a vegetarian diet, so come the beginning of October I thought I’d give it a shot: 31 days of meat-free eating.

In the interests of complete transparency, there has been one bacon-related misstep. But aside from that (which I was surprised to discover wasn’t all that enjoyable anyway) it has been a simple and easy transition for me and I’ve decided to keep going with it beyond the end of October.

There are a few reasons why it’s been such a simple switch for me, and I want to be clear about them because they’ve definitely made life easier as I’ve made the change.

  • The kids are a little older now and I can find an extra 15 or 20 minutes to prep my meals every few days.
  • I’ve always enjoyed vegetarian food and was never a huge meat-lover anyway. If given the chance to cook what I wanted, it was almost always vegetarian or meat-lite. When we go out to eat, I always opt for the vegetarian dishes. So I was primed for the change anyway.
  • I’m more than happy to eat repeat meals and leftovers.

Moreover, I realised I wasn’t enjoying the meat I was eating. I have no real problem with the idea of eating meat but I recognised that resources were going in to producing this meat that I wasn’t even enjoying. Which really is the driving force behind my change. Why should something die for my food if I don’t actually want or enjoy it? It seemed wasteful and the opposite of mindful living.

Making the change to vegetarianism is not, strictly speaking, making life simpler. It is undoubtedly making the food I eat much simpler though, and that is agreeing with me.

I feel lighter and healthier. My digestion is better than it has ever been. I have lost a little weight. I’m eating more vegetables than ever before. I’m also making an effort to eat a much more balanced diet and not relying on meat to provide me with protein. I’m mindful of things like my iron intake, and eating a wider range of foods as a result.

I’m reading a lot more about nutrition and thinking about my food in a new way. Some resources that have been helpful are:

Later in the week I plan to ressurect my Slow Kitchen series, this time featuring some of the vegetarian recipes I’ve been eating a lot of lately. This week – lentil and vegetable chilli as given the thumbs up by a dedicated omnivore!

Are you currently eating a vegetarian or vegan diet? Or are you interested in trying it? Let me know if you have any questions about the transition or how to feed a meat-eating family while maintaining a vegetarian diet and I will try to drop some of my limited knowledge on you.

The Slow Kitchen: Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

Let’s say it’s Thursday night. You’re feeling a little worn out, you’re short on time and food-related creativity but you’re not ready to call for pizza. You still want to prepare a healthy, nutrient-packed dinner that everyone will love but, ugh, can’t someone else do it?

That’s where this super easy baked chicken breast and vege dish comes in. Just like other recipes in The Slow Kitchen series, this weeknight dinner is simple, easy, healthy and full of real ingredients. Enjoy!

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

(Serves 4, Ready in 45min)

You’ll need:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 sweet potato – skin on, roughly chopped
  • 1 zucchini – roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms – sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tin red kidney beans – rinsed and drained
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • brown rice

Simply:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/420F and put the brown rice on to cook.
  2. Chop the sweet potato, zucchini and mushrooms and spread over the base of a non-stick baking tray (a deep one with a lid is perfect, otherwise use a castiron pan. A regular baking tray or casserole dish is also fine – just make sure you can cover it well with aluminium foil).
  3. Lay the chicken breasts over the top of the vegetables and rub with garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  4. Top the vegetables with the beans and then the tin of tomatoes. Drizzle this with a little extra olive oil.

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

5. Cover the dish and put in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken is steamed all the way through. (It should be deliciously tender.)
6. Give the entire contents of the baking tray a good mix, add in the baby spinach and pop back in the oven for another few minutes.
7. Serve over rice, topped with more basil, chilli sauce or the topping of your choice.

Variations/Additions:

Meat-Free?: Leave out the chicken and add in some more veges. You could also up the protein content with some pre-soaked red lentils. (If this is the case, you may want to add a cup of vegetable stock to the mix too, as the lentils will soak up a lot of moisture.)

More Vegetables: This recipe will work with virtually any vegetables you have on hand. Pumpkin, squash, kale, potatoes, carrots – they all cook up beautifully in the tomato base. Just note that you may need to add more crushed tomatoes or a cup of vegetable stock if you up the vege content by a lot.

Vegan: Cut out the chicken, obviously, and you’re good to go.

Gluten-Free: This is a gluten-free dish, happy days!

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...