Thursday, 12 June 2014

Roast Veggie "Grain-otto"

Does anyone else drive to work in the morning or drift off to sleep at night thinking about new recipes to create? Or is that just me? Anyhow, this recipe is the result of a few nights of restless sleep, a couple of trips to work, an addiction to roast pumpkin and a hankering for wholegrains and soft cheese.

Those who know me well are aware that I rarely follow a recipe. I find it, well, somewhat restraining, too prescriptive. I like to change things up and put my own spin, or the "Emily-touch" on things. So, instead of making risotto, tonight I decided to create "grain-otto;" a mixture of different wholegrains, for a unique flavour and a substantial nutritional boost. 

Roast Vegetable "Grain-otto" 

Serves 2 people

2 cups raw, diced pumpkin
1 fresh beetroot, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
2 tb black rice
2 tb pearl barley
2 tb freekeh
2 tb quinoa
1 tb sultanas
1.5 cups boiling water plus extra 1/2 cup boiling water.
1 tsp vegetable stock powder 
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup broccoli
1/4 cup walnut halves
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
cracked pepper
extra virgin olive oil 
1 handful baby spinach leaves
2 tb fetta cheese
1 tb pepitas

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celcius. Line a baking tray with foil. Place dice pumpkin and beetroot and garlic in baking tray and bake for ~20 minutes.
2. Combine black rice, pearl barley, freekeh, quinoa, sultanas and stock in a small saucepan. Cover with boiled water and heat over medium heat until water absorbed.Once absorbed, add additional 1/2 cup boiling water and continue to cook until absorbed.
3. Cut broccoli into small florets. Remove woody end from asparagus. Cut remaining asparagus stalks into 4cm lengths. Steam broccoli and asparagus for ~3 minutes.
4. Remove baked pumpkin and beetroot from oven after about 20 minutes, or when soft. Set aside to cool slightly.
5. In a medium frypan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add roasted garlic, diced onion, dried oregano and 3-4 shakes cracked pepper and cook until onion becomes translucent.
6. Add pumpkin, beetroot, sauteed broccoli and asparagus and stir to combine. Add baby spinach and cook until wilted.
7. Add cooked grains, walnuts and goats cheese and stir to combine all ingredients. Cook until cheese melts.
8. Divide mixture into 2 bowls and garnish with pepitas and extra cracked pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Note: This dish was quite satisfying as a meal in itself (due to the higher protein content of the grains, nuts and seeds), however would be delicious with the addition of smoked salmon, chicken, tofu, tempeh or chickpeas. It would also make a great warm side dish or cooled salad. Mum also had the innovative idea of using this as a stuffing in chicken breast fillets for a very satisfying meal. 

This dish provides lots of fibre, vitamin, some protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates and best of all will keep you feeling full for hours. I thought this was a delicious, quick dinner, however as mentioned above, there is lots of room for adaptation. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this recipe itself or any other creative ways you have to enjoy it. 

- Em xx

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Product Review: Be Natural Pink Lady Apple & Flame Raisin cereal

I don't often buy breakfast cereals, as I tend to stick to the au naturel rolled oats or spelt, homemade muesli or perhaps Weetbix (which I am aware is not strictly au naturel). My dedication to oats and muesli is quite obvious upon inspection of my Instagram account.....
Despite my love of oats and muesli, I must admit I could not resist a recent supermarket promotion which saw Be Natural breakfast cereals on special for $2 per 405g box. Bargain! What began as an innocent 'taste test' has lead to a highly desired new breakfast option!

You'll find Be Natural cereals in major supermarkets in 4 varieties: 5 wholegrain flakes, Manuka honey and spice clusters, cashews with almond, hazelnut and coconut, and the Pink Lady Apple and Flame raisin variation which I trialled and thoroughly enjoyed! 

Be Natural Pink Lady Apple and Flame Raisin fruit, flakes and clusters: What's good about it?

1. Wholegrains: This cereal is based on 5 high quality wholegrains - whole wheat grains, oats, triticale, barley and rye. Whilst a lot of breakfast cereals are highly refined and have minimal fibre, this one supplies 10.2g of fibre per 100g of cereal, which is quite impressive. (By comparison, 100g rolled oats supplies 9.5g fibre). This high proportion of wholegrains and great fibre content helps to keep your appetite and energy levels in check throughout the morning, assists the management of blood sugar levels, provides essential vitamins and minerals and helps keep you regular! 

2. Low sugar content - Delicious pieces of dried pink lady and granny smith apples, combined with raisins, give this cereal a suitably sweet flavour. There is some additional 'sugar' or sweetness added to this cereal in the form of raw sugar, brown rice syrup and honey, however these are added in seemingly low proportions. Impressively, this sweet tasting cereal contains just 15.5g of 'sugar' per 100g of cereal, which is well within the limits recommended by health organisations such as the Australian Government and Baker IDI heart and diabetes institute.   

3. Low in fat - The main sources of fat in this product would be the linseeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and a small amount of added oils. Rest assured, these inclusions provide valuable levels of healthy fats which can actually help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Having said that, this product is low in fat overall, providing just 4.5g total fat and 0.6g saturated fat per 100g - again well within the recommendations of the aforementioned organisations.

4. Low sodium - Sodium is another name for salt. Salt can be found in just about every processed food product, meaning that on average, Aussies consume well above the safe amount of salt each day. Consuming too much salt increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart complications. To minimise your risk of high blood pressure, look for food products with less than 400mg 'sodium' per 100g. The good news is Be Natural Pink Lady and Flame Raisin cereal contains 200mg sodium per 100g cereal. Yet another tick....

5. No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives - The ingredients list of this cereal certainly is free of any added artificial stuff, as is advertised on the front of the pack. It's reassuring to read that Be Natural "passionately believe that simple natural ingredients are the best" - so that is exactly what they supply! This company even supports Landcare and environmental protection; that's why the cereal box is made from 100% recycled material! Got to love an environmentally friendly company!

6. Great taste and texture - I really enjoyed both the taste and texture of this product. As mentioned above, it has a suitably sweet flavour, paired with that deep nourishing flavour of wholegrains. I liked the crunchy texture of the wholegrain flakes, however this was easily softened with a decent splash of milk and a few minutes standing time, if crunchy is not your thing. Most of all, I loved the addition of the 'clusters' of linseeds, pepitas and oats for some added crunch and sweet pop hidden amongst the flakes.

Overall, I would not hesitate to buy this product again, and I highly recommend it for a tasty, healthy breakfast cereal option. Actually, why limit it to breakfast? It makes for a great snack too!

Until next time, eat well, stay well and please send any comments or topic requests my way!

- Em xx

** Please note the thoughts and information provided in this post are my own and I have no affiliation with the Be Natural company. If you would like more information about any Be Natural products, you can check out their website