I got a little lost along the way to finding my healthiness…..

I’ve been asked a couple of times in the past month or so why I stopped writing my blog. And the truth is, I got a little lost. I fell into a bad habit of bad eating and I figured it was ok because I was training for a marathon and I needed the extra bit of sugar and those extra carbs…

Sadly, my body doesn’t work like a regular athlete and my age doesn’t help either…all those extra carbs and little bits of sugar here and there have caught up with me.

I have a little tyre around my waist. My skin and hair are dry. My body is sluggish and my constant shoulder pain is increasing. All of this is due to bad diet.

I also fell out of love with cooking. With both my husband and I training hard, I didn’t have the time to cook like I used to…. at least that was my excuse. But with better planning and time management it can be done.

And so, after a blissful week away, just hubby and I and a motorhome, I’ve found my passion for cooking again. I’ve found my spark. And luckily, I found my blog password!!

I am back, for now… but I know myself and I know that the moment this blog feels like a chore, I’ll push it aside and forget about it. So I won’t be putting pressure on myself like last time. I will post meals as and when I feel they deserve to be seen by others. When I am truly happy with them and I am confident that they live up to the standard of healthiness that I am searching for (I am by no means an expert in this area, I just know, through trial and error, what works for me). My biggest problem is that I usually don’t cook from recipe books. I cook out of my head. And so if a meal comes out great, the pressure is on to try and remember what I did because I never cook the same meal twice….

I do have one or two meals from recipe books that I absolutely love and I’ll definitely be sharing those along the way too.

But for now, that’s all I have for you. No recipe to share at this point in time. Althought I do have a meal in the oven and if it’s delicious, I’ll post it for you.

Chicken pasta with tomato sauce

  • 12 chicken drumstick fillets
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large clove crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 3 Tbsp double cream plain yoghurt
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • Butter for frying
  • Pasta of your choice – cooked as per packet instructions

  • Season chicken drumstick fillets with salt and pepper and gently fry in butter until just done. Remove from heat and retain the butter and any bits of chicken left in the pan.
  • In the same frying pan, add the crushed garlic, coriander and the tin of chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the juices from the chicken are incorporated into the sauce.
  • Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  • Add the yoghurt and stir well.
  • Add the chicken back to the pan and stir to ensure it is well coated in the sauce. Allow to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Serve on top of your desired pasta. (Gluten free pasta is my preferred choice and there is a large variety of rice pasta, corn pasta as well as chickpea pasta available these days.)

Homemade Peanut Sauce

  • 50g peanuts
  • 2 sprigs fresh coriander
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • A “dash” of unsweetened almond milk
  • Purée peanuts in a blender until a rich butter forms. The consistency is up to you. Do you prefer crunchy? Smooth?
  • Add honey and coriander to the peanut butter and blend together.
  • Add almond milk and blend. (The amount of almond milk depends on the consistency of the sauce you’d prefer. I added approximately 2Tbsp)

This sauce can be used as a dipping sauce or over your dinner. I used it over a Buddha Bowl consisting of Couscous, butter-fried chicken medallions and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

Roast chicken pieces with crispy roast potatoes, beetroot, baby gem squash and asparagus

This was delicious! Standing in the shop this afternoon I had no idea what I was going to cook. I picked up a pack of skinless, free range chicken pieces and walked over to the veggies. And then inspiration came to me in the form of asparagus and a bag of beetroot on sale. Wham! I knew what I was for supper!

Roast chicken pieces

  • Coat chicken pieces in freshly ground black pepper, salt and rosemary. 
  • Place in a pre-heated oven set to 200’C for 1 hour, turning after 30mins. 

Crispy Roast Potatoes

  • The key to perfect roast potatoes is to not salt them before they go in the oven – a little trick I learnt watching Australian Master Chef. 
  • Peel and quarter as many potatoes as you want to eat (I could peel an entire pocket of potatoes – no that’s a lie! I could ask my husband to peel an entire pocket of potatoes)
  • Place in a microwave safe dish and cover with water. 
  • Microwave for 20 mins on high. This ensures your potatoe are soft on the inside when you get that crispy outside 
  • Remove from water and place in an oven-proof dish coated with a little olive oil. Not too much though – just enough to lightly coat the potatoes but not so much that the potatoes need a snorkel and goggles. 
  • Place in an oven pre-heated to 200’C for between 1 and 1&1/2 hours, turning after 30mins and if necessary after another 30mins.  
  • Remove from the oven when crunchy and golden brown and lightly salt the potatoes. 
  • For an extra wow-factor, sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper.

Beetroot

  • Peel beetroot and place in a pot of water.
  • Bring to the boil and allow to boil “gently” (just above simmering) for about 25-30mins. 
  • Remove from water and cut into pieces. 

Baby Gem Squash

  • Place while baby gem squash in a framed and steam for about 20mins. 

Asparagus

  • Place asparagus in steamer for 3mins. 

Pulled Chicken Buddha Bowl

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Inspired by a discussion at lunch with a colleague, I decided to try my hand at 2 new styles of cooking – pulled chicken and roasted butternut with the skin on.

I’ve never thought of eating butternut skin and because cutting and peeling it is such a tough task I don’t often cook it, unless my husband is around to do the hard work. My friend told me that she always eats the skin, so I thought I’d give it a try.

The second item I’ve never tried before is Pulled Chicken. I’ve done Pulled Pork and I’ve done Pulled Brisket, but never chicken. It’s quite simple really and makes the humble chicken breast go a lot further than normal.

By trying these 2 new styles of cooking I had to think of a way to combine them into a delicious meal…. Buddha Bowl! The Buddha Bowl is the best way to combine any random ingredients into a healthy, wholesome, delicious meal.

My Buddha Bowl, contained pulled chicken, roasted butternut with skin, roasted sweet potato, spinach and a can of mixed beans, however any beans would work.

What’s great about this recipe is that all the ingredients can be cooked in the oven at the same time, with the longest part being the butternut. Careful planning should see all the ingredients coming out of the oven at the same time.

Roasted Butternut

  • Pre-heat oven to 200’C.
  • Place butternut into a roasting dish and coat on all sides with olive oil, ground salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Place in the oven for an hour, turning after 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cut  2cm thick slices.

Sweet Potato Chunks

  • Wash 1 large sweet potato well.
  • Cut in half and then cut each half into halves.
  • Cut each slice into quarters.
  • By now you should have chunks that look like this….

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  • Place sweet potato in an oven proof dish and coat with olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and cumin.
  • Place in an oven, pre-heated to 200’C, for 30 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.

Pulled Chicken

  • Season chicken breast fillets with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Place in an oven-proof dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Place in an oven, pre-heated to 200’C, for 30 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.
  • Once cooked, place chicken in a bowl and pull apart with 2 forks.
  • Drizzle with a little of the excess oil from the butternut and mix in.

Beans

  • Place your beans of choice (red kidney beans work really well) in a saucepan and heat gently over a medium heat.

Spinach

  • Place spinach leaves onto a lightly greased baking tray and place in the oven for 5 minutes, just before you’re ready to dish up.

The Presentation

  • Place beans in the bottom of your bowl.
  • Next, arrange your reaming ingredients around the bowl, in any order you prefer.
  • Enjoy!

 

Herby Burger Sliders

Store bought burger patties often contain wheat and/or gluten as well as hidden sugars. For this reason I like to make my own burger patties. A great substitute for hamburger rolls which not only contain wheat and gluten but also leave me feeling heavy and uncomfortable, is to use sweet potatoes. Simply slice the sweet potatoes to your desired thickness and gently fry in a little olive oil or bake in the oven until soft and cooked through.

This simple recipe for burger sliders can be used for bigger patties as well as for meatballs and is a great meal for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 500g free range beef mince
  • 1 egg
  • 10ml origanum
  • 10ml rosemary
  • 5ml cumin
  • 5ml coriander
  • Himalayan pink salt – to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper – to taste

Method:

  • Add all ingredients together in a mixing bowl and use your hands to mix well.
  • Break off small balls of mixture and shape into small meatballs.
  • Gently flatten with the palms of your hands into patties.
  • Fry in a little olive oil on a medium heat, turning occasionally until cooked through.
  • Serve on sliced, cooked sweet potato, layered with lightly wilted spinach, fried mushrooms and sliced tomatoes. *Alternate toppings include avo, fried onions, fried egg…. anything you want (even cheese)

I’ve fallen off the wagon… but that’s ok.

I’ve been asked a lot lately why I haven’t blogged anything for a while. The honest truth is that I don’t have many new recipes to share. Life has been stressful for me the past month or so and I’ve been “cheating” and eating a lot of meals with dairy, gluten and hidden sugars. But there’s nothing wrong with eating “cheat” foods so long as it’s done in moderation. I’ve eaten potato bake with cream and scrambled eggs with milk. I’ve eaten chocolate and I’ve eaten rusks. I’ve eaten biscuits and I’ve eaten cake. I’ve had fruit and yoghurt and I’ve also used a lot of the same recipes that are already published on this blog.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past few weeks is that my body definitely doesn’t respond well to dairy, gluten or wheat. I’ve had indigestion, stomach aches, bloating, dry itchy skin as well as pimples. This just reinforces my reasonings for living each day in pursuit of healthiness.

I need to go back to the basics and increase my water intake while decreasing the dairy, gluten and sugars.

Tonight’s meal was a step in the right direction. While not fully compliant with my idea of healthy eating, it was 1 ingredient away from being blog worthy. I made mushroom and cheese stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in spinach leaves which I baked in the oven and served with steamed cauliflower and broccoli and fried mushrooms and courgettes.

I didn’t get a photo of the meal as I wasn’t happy with it enough to write about it, however after eating it, I wish I had. It was delicious and the cheese so minimal that I really shouldn’t have worried about it being “unhealthy”

I will attempt this meal again in the near future and will be sure to blog about it then. Even with the cheese!

Meatloaf

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt, cayenne pepper, cumin and coriander to taste
  • 1 large tomato, quartered (this is to give a bit of juice for the meatloaf to cook in)
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180’C 
  • Mix mince, onion, garlic and spices together in a bowl. 
  • Once well mixed, work into a loaf ensuring it holds its shape. 
  • Place loaf into an ovenproof dish and surround with tomatoes.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and place in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes. (Every oven is different so it depends on your oven.)
  • Slice and serve with steamed veg and mashed sweet potatoes. 

Rice Salad

Delicious on its own for lunch or as a side dish to your weekend braai/barbecue this is super simple to make and there’s sure to be no left overs.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 grated carrot*
  • 1 grated cooked beetroot*
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • mixed seeds
  • handful of peanuts (unsalted)

Method:

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry onion and celery until softened.

Mix all the ingredients, except the lemon juice together in a bowl and stir.

Pour lemon juice over salad and roughly mix with a fork.

*These ingredients can be substituted for red/yellow peppers.  I used beetroot and carrots as I had store bought packets of ready prepared grated carrot and beetroot in my fridge. 

The quantities stated, produced enough rice salad to serve 2 large lunch portions.

Chicken Stir-Fry

This is another of those meals that you can prep early and cook in 20 minutes. Full of veg and full of flavour, this is sure to be repeated on my menu.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Breast Fillets, cut into strips
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • veg of choice; I used 2 packets of pre-prepared mix veg, containing brocolli as well as long stemmed brocolli, baby marrow, baby corn, red cabbage, green beans, peas and julienne carrots.
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5ml dried crushed chilli
  • 5ml ginger
  • salt
  • olive oil

Method:

  1. Mix the lemon juice, chilli and ginger in a bowl. Season with salt and set aside
  2. Cut chicken breast fillets into strips.
  3. Heat olive oil in a wok and fry onion until soft.
  4. Add chicken and fry for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Add chickpeas and fry for 5 minutes before adding the mixed veg.
  6. Add mixed veg and fry for a further 5-10 mins, until veg are cooked but still crunchy, stirring regularly.
  7. Add the sauce and stir well to ensure the veg and chicken are well coated.
  8. The sauce cooks away, but the flavour stays.
  9. Once the sauce has cooked away the stir fry is ready to serve.