Thursday, 28 February 2013

Easy meal ideas to avoid prepackaged sauces

Whether it be Dolmio, Kan Tong, Maggi, Raguletto..... you name it, they have a sauce for it!

The demand has come from 'convenience' and 'time poor' consumer trends, which have driven the majority of new products to grace supermarket shelves over the last couple of decades.

Unfortunately saving a few minutes in the kitchen has come at a cost.  With these sauces/gravies/marinades come a whole heap of additives and 'fake' ingredients, and in many cases the end result is over complicated with ingredients that don't need to be there!

So here are some simple, natural, and quick to make recipes that will have you leaving the jars (and additives) on the shelf, and some money in your pocket!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Gluten free stone fruit tart

This tart is sure to impress when you present it to the table, as it will while it is baking, the smells making their way through your house and luring hungry mouths to the kitchen!

As we start to bid farewell to another beautiful stone fruit season, get in quick to celebrate these delicious fruits and make this colourful, tasty and yet somewhat healthy tart!  Don't despair though, when the stone fruit season is long gone, you can instead use apples and pears, fig and orange, or quince and rhubarb.  YUM!

Allow to cool until just warm (if you cut it up too early it will fall apart easily so let the butter solidify to hold the base together) and serve with a dollop of organic vanilla yogurt for afternoon tea, or ice cream or cream for a dessert.  It would also be delicious with a slightly sweetened (try honey and cinnamon) mascarpone or smooth ricotta. 

As I seem to be getting a reputation of doing, the base is, of course, loaded with nutrient packed grains and seeds - chia, flax, rice and buckwheat, as well as the goodness of almonds, coconut and chickpeas!  So you don't have to feel totally guilty for eating this tart!

If you don't have a Thermomix, don't despair, just use the flours, and if you can, grind the seeds in a food processor.


Gluten Free Stone Fruit Tart


15g Chia seeds
25g chickpeas (or chickpea flour if not using a TMX)
20g flaxseed/linseeds
30g brown rice (or brown rice flour if not using a TMX)
25g raw buckwheat (or buckwheat flour if not using a TMX)
40g raw almonds (or almond meal if not using a TMX)
35g rapadura sugar (or brown/raw/coconut sugar)
20g organic shredded coconut
100g gluten free SR flour
100g butter
stone fruit of your choice (I used approx 6 small fruits including yellow and blood plums, white and yellow nectarines)
coconut sugar to sprinkle over fruit (rapadura, brown or raw could also be used)

Method - Conventional

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Line a 20cm springform tin with baking paper and lightly grease the sides.
  2. Slice fruit into quarters or eighths (depending on how small your fruit is) and set aside.
  3. If you have a food processor, grind up the chia and flaxseeds until fine.  Add the coconut and process until finely chopped. (If you don't have a food processor, just add all flours and seeds in a large bowl and work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until a fine breadcrumb consistency).
  4. Add flours and sugar and mix to combine.  
  5. Add butter and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  6. Press mixture into prepared tin with your fingers to make an even base.  Place the sliced fruit evenly over the base and sprinkle sugar over the fruit to your liking (I probably used about 2 tbs)
  7. Place in preheated oven and cook for approx 45-50 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin until just warm.  Slice carefully and serve with organic vanilla yogurt, ice cream or cream.

Method - Thermomix

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Line a 20cm springform tin with baking paper and lightly grease the sides.
  2. Slice fruit into quarters or eighths (depending on how small your fruit is) and set aside. 
  3. Place chia, flax, chickpeas, rice and buckwheat in TM bowl and grind for 30 seconds on speed 9.
  4. Add almonds, sugar and coconut and grind on speed 8 for a further 5 seconds.
  5. Add SR flour and butter pieces and process on speed 6 until combined (approx 5-10 seconds).
  6. Follow steps 6-8 above.


About to go into oven.

Monday, 4 February 2013

STEPS 10 - Are your portions in proportion?!

So at this stage in the STEPS program we have made a lot of positive changes to our eating, on top of the good things we were doing even before starting!

But even those of us with the best intentions can find portion control a bit of a problem!  You can be the healthiest of eaters, but if your portions are on the larger side, you may find losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight a bit of a challenge.

For example, this Roast Vegetable and Brown Rice Slice is full of nutrients and definitely a good meal choice.  One serve would probably give you half a cup of rice, a couple of cubes of tofu, 1-2 serves of veg and a sprinkle of cheese.  The recipe serves six.  Not four, and not two!  But I have to tell you, when I first made that slice, I'd be lying if I said we got six serves out of it!!!  It was so moreish that we went back for more!

The problem is, when this becomes a regular occurrence, no matter how healthy your diet is, your body is going to store those excess kilojoules.  

And it certainly doesn't help when we eat ouside the home.  These days its all about 'value for money', 'the bigger the better' and 'upsizing for little money'.  The muffins are huge, the burgers are huge, the drinks are huge, and when eating snacks and/or meals outside of the home becomes a common place  occurrence, this really starts to impact on your balance of kilojoules in vs energy out. 

But this task is not only about reducing portion sizes, it's also about increasing portion sizes!  For example, a great deal of us don't reach the recommended 5 serves of veg each day (as we discussed in an earlier task) so the focus for this task will be different for each of us.  Some will be making an effort to increase veg and meat and proteins, while others may be reducing meat and proteins and 'extras'!

So what is considered a portion and how many portions of each food group should we be eating each day?

Here is a quick run down of the more common foods and their serving sizes - some you may be a little surprised at!  How do your serves stack up???!

1 serve of:

Cooked rice  =  1/2 cup
Cooked pasta  =  1 cup
Bread  =  2 slices
Muesli  =  1/2 cup
Potato  =  1 medium
Vegetables  =  1/2 cup
Salad  =  1 cup
Fruit  =  1 medium piece (ie apple) or 2 small pieces (ie apricots/kiwifruit)
Dried apricots  =  4
Sultanas  =  1.5 tbs
Mince meat  =  1/2 cup
Chicken  =  65-100g  (one breast fillet is normally around double this!)
Fish  =  80-120g (approx 1 standard fillet)
Eggs  =  2 small
Nuts/seeds  =  1/4 cup
Butter/oil  =  1 tbs
Milk  =  1 cup
Yogurt  =  200g (roughly 1 tub)

But how many serves do we need in a day?

For those of us between 19-60 years of age it is recommended each day we eat:

6-12 serves of cereals and grains (pasta/rice/bread etc)
5 serves of vegetables
2 serves of fruit
3 serves dairy
2 serves meat or meat alternatives (eggs/nuts/legumes)
1-3 serves extras (butter/alcohol/chocolate/cake etc)

The updated Australian Dietary Guidelines are due out early this year (2013) which I will go through with you all when they are published.

Check out this page which I thought was a nice visual way of understanding what a serve size is.  You could print it out and post it on your fridge as a reminder of how much is enough!!

Now always keep in mind that the bigger picture is the quality of the food that you are eating.  For example, focus on whole grains, minimally processed foods, a wide varieties of colours when choosing fruits and vegetables, good quality meats, and good quality fats and oils.

OK so lets get to work!  Write down your goals for this task in your journal, and draw a plate like the one below, dividing it up the way your portions would currently look (no cheating!!).

If this task is done correctly, and weight loss or maintenance is your goal, you may find this is the task that really starts to give you results!

As always, check in at Mellymaks Facebook page regularly for hints, tips and recipes!

Thought this was a cute way of showing portions on a plate!