Sunday, 18 January 2015

Raspberry Overnight Oats

My Mum is Wonder Woman. OK, so she doesn't get around in a tiny leotard and a cape, but I think she probably could pull it off if she wanted to. No, in all seriousness, I think she is a very stylish lady. And a very hardworking and dedicated lady at that. You see, my Mum and Dad own and run their own business, as they have done for the past 18 years. Their work hours are far from your typical 9-5, but they just suck it up and continue to work their butts off. In my eyes, that is a feat in itself. Yet somehow on top of their mammoth workload, Mum and Dad also raised my sister and I; running us to sports training and part time work, helping with homework, keeping us in line. Now that my sister and I are older and slightly less needy and demanding, Mum now simply does more for her own parents instead. It is a seemingly never-ending workload, yet somehow Mum has always managed to maintain our household, do the shopping, the washing, the cleaning, the gardening and most importantly keep her family well nourished. I honestly don't know how she continually does it, and this is a question I often ponder.

Mum has taught me that there is no such thing as luck - just hard work and determination. She also reminds me that your health is paramount, and that begins with what you put in your mouth. My love for fresh, healthy and nutritious food stems from my Mum, and she has taught me that great fresh produce, planning and preparation are the key to a healthy lifestyle.

With this knowledge under my belt and a whole lot of love for my Mum and her wondrous ways, I feel it is time I started to look after her a little, since she has cared for me for so very long. My contribution? Food, of course. A nourishing breakfast each and every morning, to power Mum through her enormous days. The recipe below is made to Mum's taste, but is adaptable.

Raspberry Overnight Oats
Serves 7
Preparation time: 5 minutes

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup apple juice
1 cup plain natural yoghurt
2 cups frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon honey (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight to allow oats to absorb liquid and for the flavours to combine.
2. The next morning, serve your portion of oats; you may wish to add a little additional milk and/or top with banana or more berries.

- You could use LSA mix instead of almond meal
- Chia seeds can also be added, however I would recommend adding extra fluid as chia seeds are highly absorbent   
- Any type or combination of nuts could be used; Mum enjoys slivered almonds as a change from walnuts 
- Sweetened dried cranberries are a sweet addition to this mix 
- You can utilise any type of milk; I usually use full cream, though I have experimented with almond, quinoa and coconut milks 
- Any type or combination of berries can be used

Ingredients for Raspberry Overnight Oats 
Ok, so this really ain't pretty right now, but it will be when you're in a rush tomorrow morning 

Topped with extra raspberries and ready to be enjoyed

These overnight oats are a really dense, nutritious breakfast which certainly powers you through the morning hours. Taking a little time to prepare this recipe over the weekend ensures you have no excuse to skip breakfast during the week. These oats are utterly delicious; Mum says she looks forward to eating them each and every morning, whilst I often enjoy a couple of dollops for dessert too! I hope you enjoy these oats, or enjoy coming up with your own delicious combination.

- Em xx

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Gettin' My Game On....

I've got to admit I'm usually not a huge fan of red meat. You'll never find me ordering a steak or lamb rack for din dins. Seafood, tofu, tempeh, eggs and chicken are my usual go-to options. Sure, I still eat red meats but generally they need to be smothered in a mushroom gravy or hidden in a casserole or bolognese. I'll source a majority of my iron from other foods, thanks.

However, there is always an exception to a rule! My exception to my red-meat disfavour certainly packs a nutritional punch to compensate for my ways. What is this mystery meat of which I speak? It is none other our Aussie icon, kangaroo!! Now, before you vehemently refuse and say "I could never eat Skippy," take a look at a few little known facts about kangaroo:

1. Kangaroo Meat is 'Open Range' - this means the animals are allowed to live in their own natural environment and are harvested without added hormones, chemicals or antibiotics. They live good lives (though you won't find them dressing up in clothes, stopping thieves or saving lives, as Skippy did!).

2. Favourable Kilojoule content - kangaroo meats have a kilojoule (calorie) content similar to that of other lean meats, making them a great inclusion if you are watching your weight. 

3. Low fat content - kangaroo meat is considered low fat, especially low saturated fat (saturated is the least favourable type of fat). Did you know kangaroo meat contains less than 2% fat? That is very impressive!

4. Protein - kangaroo is a wonderful source of protein which is crucial for appetite regulation, muscle strength and thus weight management and wellbeing.

5. Omega-3 fats - omega 3 fats are heart-friendly fats which can help to optimise your cholesterol levels and contribute to healthy eyes and brain power! Typically, omega-3 is associated with fish and fish oil, however kangaroo is a great source of omega 3s too- bonus!!

6. B vitamins - remember B1 and B2 from Bananas in Pyjamas? Well, in the nutrition world, we call B1 thiamine, B2 riboflavin and also consider their other B family friends, niacin, B6 and B12.  These are the vitamins which keep our blood, brain and immune system healthy. B vitamins also help our bodies to use the energy we put inside them, thus giving us more pep in our step. The good news is that kangaroo is great source of B vitamins, to keep you on tour toes.

7. Source of minerals - kangaroo contains the essential minerals, iron and zinc, which give you energy, help you grow, keep the immune system strong and assist with the healing of wounds (should you have any) and condition of your skin.

Sounds great, but where can I get it? - The best news is that kangaroo is easier to buy and prepare than you may expect. I have purchased kangaroo products from Woolworths, Coles and even Aldi. Kangaroo is also available from IGA, Food Land and Supa Barn, according the distributor's (Macro Meats') website:   Macro Meats distributes a variety of kangaroo products, so you can ease your way into eating and enjoying this great Aussie icon. Available are kangaroo sausages ("Kanga Bangas!!"), kangaroo burgers, steaks, meatballs, mince, fillets, roasts, kebabs and diced kangaroo. Such variety! These products are also economical; I buy mine from Coles supermarkets where I've recently been picking up 2 trays of products for just $9!!  (individual supermarkets will likely vary).

I'm quite partial to the kangaroo burgers or the kangaroo meatballs, as these are convenient and make an easy meal for one when combined with some veggies or salad. Next on my agenda is to use the kangaroo mince to make a spaghetti bolognese or even the kangaroo pieces for a curry or stew. As usual, culinary adventures ensue. I have been on a bit of a kangaroo fad recently..... I did consume it about 4 times last week. I came up with a super easy, nutritious and cost effective dinner of Kangaroo meatballs in tomato salsa and vegetables. My recipe is as follows:

Easy Kangaroo Meatballs in Tomato Salsa 
Serves 1
Cooking time: about 10-15 minutes

- 4 kangaroo meatballs (or sufficient to satisfy your individual appetite)
- 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- chilli flakes, to taste
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- 3 button mushrooms, diced 
- 1/2 can (200g) diced tomato
- 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese
- selection of vegetables or salad

1. Pre-heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Add   crushed garlic, basil, oregano, chilli, pepper.  Add the kangaroo meatballs and combine.
2. Flatten the meatballs into 'patties.' Cook for roughly 5 minutes each side, or until browned through.
3. Add the mushrooms and half can of diced tomatoes, combine all ingredients and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer.
4. Meanwhile, prepare a selection of vegetables or salad to serve with the meatballs and salsa.
5. When vegetables or salad is ready, serve kangaroo meatballs, topped with tomato and mushroom salsa. I also like to add a teaspoon of parmesan cheese on top for some cheesy goodness.

Kangaroo meatballs in my tomato and mushroom salsa with a generous dose of colourful veggies. Eat a rainbow, people!!

So good I had to have them for a second (or fourth) night in a row... this time with salad. Kanga!

Should you be game (pun intended) to trial kangaroo, I hope you enjoy my recipe. It is such a nutritious and convenient protein option which I highly recommend, so 'get your game on' and cook up some kanga!

- Em x

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Goodness, it's a wrap!

Sometimes lunch can be a tricky meal to plan, create and execute. Is anyone else with me on this one? I mean, you're busy rushing around doing things, but you're hungry and the tummy is starting to rumble. You want something quick, but still satisfying. Not too satisfying, else you risk feeling heavy, sluggish and tired in the afternoon. But you need to make it through 3.30-itis and avoid caving to the chocolate bar as an afternoon pick-me-up. If you have your nutrition priorities right, you'll be seeking a lunch composed of low GI carbohydrates, some protein and a filling dose of veggies. So what takes your fancy?

I must admit I have fallen into a bit of rut with lunches. The ol' tin of salmon and a salad is a great quick, nutritious and filling staple. Recently however, I've been in search of something different, so I revisited an old favourite: Goodness Superfoods wraps.

Goodness me, there is a lot to love about these wraps. For one, they are a Victorian based, Australian owned and run company; and what's not to love about that? Even better is that the star ingredient of all Goodness Superfoods products, their BARLEYmax resistant starch, was developed by the CSIRO. This means Goodness Superfoods products are unique, supplying twice the amount of dietary fibre as regular grains and four times the amount of resistant starch, with an impressively low GI to boot.

"Yeah, so what?" you may be thinking. Well, did you know that fibre is needed to keep you full, help with weight management and promote a healthy digestive system? Plus, just one Goodness Superfoods Barley wrap provides 35% of your daily fibre requirements - how good is that?

Now, aside from the nutritional aspect of these wraps, they are also super convenient as they can be kept in the pantry until opened - meaning you can snap up a packet or two when you can and keep them handy for when the tummy grumbles at lunchtime. Once opened, they can be stored in the fridge. Importantly, these wraps also taste gooood and lend themselves to really any filling, so it's up to you as to how you wrap. Some tasty variations I've created are:

1. Cream cheese, avocado, smoked salmon, cucumber, spinach leaves and red onion
2. Avocado, spinach, tomato, beetroot, cucumber, grated carrot and chicken
3. Hummous, spinach, felafel, grated carrot and cucumber
4. Salad with tinned tuna/salmon or boiled egg 
4. Avocado, spinach, warmed roast chicken, mango and sweet chilli sauce
5. Spinach, chicken breast, roast pumpkin, roast capsicum, chargrilled eggplant, chargtilled zucchini and fetta cheese, all toasted in the sandwich press
6. Natural yoghurt, sliced apple, sultanas and cinnamon warmed in the microwave for about 30 seconds
7. Peanut butter and sliced banana toasted in the sandwich press

Wrap under construction

Chicken and Salad wrap 
Salmon and salad wrap

 What to look for in the supermarket: Goodness Superfoods Barley wraps

As you can see from these few options I've trialled above, these wraps can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You could also use them as a healthier pizza base, a high fibre crepe or toasted crisps... the possibilities go on!

Goodness, these are a convenient, healthy and tasty meal option which I certainly recommend you add to your repertoire. You can find out more about Goodness Superfoods Barley wraps and their range of breakfast cereals, porridge, muesli bars and grains at their website (you can pick up some more tasty recipe ideas there too).

Happy wrapping!

- Em x 

** Please note the thoughts and information provided in this post are my own and I have no affiliation with the Goodness Superfoods company. If you would like more information about any Goodness Superfoods products, you can check out there website, as mentioned above.