15-Minute Primal Gourmet Bacon-Wrapped Chicken & Vegetables

I’m a firm believer that in order to have healthy and delicious meals, you don’t need fancy recipes, special ingredients or a lot of time. All you need are quality real foods and a few tricks in the kitchen for making amazing food in little time. Here’s a perfect example: a gourmet looking and tasting dish using only basic ingredients, barely any cooking skills, and as little as 15 minutes. Let’s do it!

15 Minute Primal Gourmet Bacon-Wrapped Chicken & Vegetables

My secret weapon in this recipe is the oven. The oven does all the cooking for me so I don’t have to stir, saute, sear or simmer anything. I hardly even have to use my knife. The time involved for you to get the food on the oven trays is only about 15 minutes. The oven will do the rest, and then you just put the food on the plates and eat!

Another secret you’ll learn about quick quality cooking is to be flexible with recipes using whatever ingredients you have available. You’ll get better at this in time, and for now, I will lay out plenty of options for you so you can get the idea.

Gourmet Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Ingredients

– Chicken thighs
– Bacon
– Mushrooms & Tomatoes,
or other soft vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant or yellow squash (optional)
– Pumpkin, or sweet potato (optional)
– Leeks, or brown or red onions (optional)
– Stuffing for the chicken: pesto, salsa, chutney, mustard, asparagus, capsicum (bell pepper), raw cheese, pine nuts, chilli, seasonings, fresh or dried herbs, etc. (optional)
– Flavourings: sea salt, pepper, lemon juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, ginger, dried or fresh thyme, sage, oregano, parsely, paprika, turmeric, curry powder, lemongrass, chilli, butter, ghee, chicken stock, etc. (optional)

Variations
As you can see, besides the chicken and bacon, the ingredients can vary widely. Just use what you have in your fridge and pantry!

You can stuff the chicken, but you don’t have to. You can add soft vegetables to the baking tray with the chicken, or not. You can add as much or little as you like and swap out or omit different vegetables and seasonings and sauces.

So really, you can make this dish 10 different ways, without one single fancy recipe.

15 Minute Primal Gourmet Bacon-Wrapped Chicken & Vegetables
15 Minute Bacon-Wrapped Chicken & Vegetables

Gourmet Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Recipe

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180C (350F). If you want to ‘stuff’ the chicken with some of the stuffing options above (or something else), lay the chicken thighs open on your baking tray, put some stuffing on each thigh and fold over the thighs to make little parcels.

Step 2: Wrap each thigh in a thick piece of bacon.

Step 3: Chop or dice your mushrooms and tomatoes, or other soft veggies, and scatter around the chicken.

Step 4: Cut the pumpkin (or sweet potato) into slices or larges wedges and lay in a single layer on another oven tray. No need to peel the pumpkin (but remove the seeds). If you want leeks or onion, slice them and scatter around the pumpkin, and around the chicken if desired.

Quick oven roasted pumpkin and leeks
Easy oven-roasted pumpkin and leeks

Step 5: Add any desired seasonings from the ‘flavourings’ list above, or anything else you want to use. Some flavourings, such as fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil can be added now AND/OR after cooking.

Step 6: Put both trays in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. The pumpkin is done when a fork or knife goes through it easily. The chicken is done when you prick it with a sharp knife and the juices come out clear (not pink).

While the oven does all the cooking, you have time to help your kids with their bath or homework, take a shower and unwind from work, or do a 20 minute meditation or yoga session in the living room!

Oven-baked bacon wrapped chicken & veggies
Oven-baked bacon wrapped chicken & veggies

Loving the Leftovers

You’ll notice I didn’t use amounts in the ingredients, but I recommend you always make enough to completely fill the oven trays. This way, you only have to do the prep once and use the oven once, but you will have plenty of food leftover for a couple more meals the next day. Here are 3 completely different ways to enjoy leftovers from this one meal.

1/ This meal is great cold the next day as a scrap salad. Just chop everything up and mix it together to pack for your lunch. You can drizzle over some olive oil and vinegar too and add lettuce greens or baby spinach if you like.

2/ Another leftovers variation is to mash up the pumpkin and serve the bacon and chicken on top. Reheat everything in a little pan or under the grill first. Yum!

3/ Lastly, you can heat up the oven-roasted pumpkin and leek with some chicken stock, then blend it all to make a delicious soup. Chop the meats and veggies and put into the soup.

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza, Plus 4 More Grain-free Pizza Crusts

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Recipe

You know what makes pizza so delicious? That perfect combination of italian tomato sauce and melted cheese, plus meaty or veggie toppings. The pizza base is nothing more than just a gluten-filled, over-processed plate to put the good stuff on. And it fills you up too fast to enjoy more of the good bits. So here’s an idea – use veggies as your pizza base!

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza

Eggplant is a fun place to start with this idea, as it’s easy to slice, quick to cook, and the flavour goes well with your pizza sauce and any toppings.

Get the Good Cheese

To make it a really primal pizza, all that’s left is to replace processed cheese with some unpasteurised (raw) parmesan cheese like Grana Padana or Parmigiano Reggiano. We have found these in our local supermarket, but you have to make sure to get a European brand that says unpasteurised in the ingredient list.

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Ingredients

– 1 Eggplant
– Olive oil (or melted butter or ghee)
– Tomato paste
– Italian dried herbs like oregano, thyme, sage, parsley
– Raw parmesan cheese, grated
– Optional: fresh basil leaves, finely diced chorizo or other meat.

 

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Recipe

Step 1: Slice eggplant into rounds of even thickness. Not too thick, not too thin. Or you can slice your eggplant lengthwise to make bigger ‘pizza bases’.

Step 2: Lay eggplant slices on a baking tray or on your broiler (oven grill) tray. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter/ghee.

Step 3: Turn broiler (oven grill) to med-high heat and cook eggplant slices until lightly browned.

Step 4: Flip eggplant, brush or spray again with olive oil or butter and cook until lightly browned.

Grilled eggplant slices
You can cut the eggplant lengthwise for larger slices

Step 5: While eggplant is cooking, mix dried herbs into the tomato paste and season well with salt and pepper. Pizza sauce!

Step 6: Spread pizza sauce onto browned eggplant slices. Then sprinkle grated cheese on top of the sauce. Add any optional diced chorizo, chicken or other meat, if desired.

Step 7: Put eggplant pizzas back under the heat for a couple minutes, just until the cheese melts.

Step 8: Top each eggplant pizza with one basil leaf to serve. This last step is optional but highly recommended for amazing flavour, especially if you’re not using any other toppings.

Eggplant pizza rounds with chorizo

Best served immediately as an appetizer or side dish. Everyone is impressed with these when I serve them at dinner parties!

Unless you must have that crusty crunch in your pizza, why bother with all the gluten-free, paleo pizza crust recipes that are so time-consuming and don’t add any delicious flavour to your pizza? The best grain-free pizza crusts are the vegetables themselves!

 

Other Veggie & Meat Pizza Bases

Pizza zucchini boats from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Pizza zucchini boats from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Butternut Squash Pumpkin Pizza Crusts
Butternut Squash (Pumpkin) Pizza Crusts from Empowered Sustenance
Mushroom cap primal pizzas from Table for Two
Mushroom cap pizzas from Table for Two
Burger base pizzas from Big Red Kitchen
Burger base pizzas from Big Red Kitchen

 

What’s your favourite grain-free pizza idea?

 

How to Make Chicken Broth…Because Look What’s in Those Powdered Cubes

How to Make Chicken Broth

Chicken broth is insanely nutritious and healing. But only if you make it yourself! That’s because those chicken stock powders and cubes are made of nothing but deadly non-food ingredients. Fortunately, broth, or stock, is one of the cheapest and easiest things to make at home. Once you see how easy it is to make, and what’s in those cubes, you’ll never buy chicken stock again.

Chicken Broth went from cure-all to chemical concoction

From this…

Traditional Chicken Broth
Chicken or Chicken Bones
Carrot & Celery or Veg Scraps
Onion
Water
Fresh Herbs & Spices

To this…

Powdered Chicken Stock or Bouillon Cubes
Iodised Salt
Flavour Enhancer (MSG)
Yeast Extract (MSG)
Natural Flavours 621 (MSG)
Caramel Colour (150a)
Artificial Flavours
Dehydrated Onion
Hydrogenated Palm Oil
Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (possible MSG)
Mechanically Separated Dehydrated Chicken Meat

What are all those things in the powdered stock?
Now, we could go and look up all those ingredients to see what they are. OR we could just admit that we don’t recognise them as real foods and therefore they are likely not a good idea for humans to eat.

What we can see is that powdered stock is little more than processed salt and artificial flavours designed to taste like chicken. Many of which are forms of MSG, which has been linked to numerous illnesses and disease. The last ingredient of processed chicken meat is actually not very common in stock cubes.

What about buying liquid stock?

1/ Most store-bought liquid stocks are labeled “reconstituted”, which basically means you are paying for lots of water. Though not as fake as the powdered stock, many liquid stocks are still full of processed salt and artificial additives.

2/ Organic and “natural” liquid stocks are often made from real chicken/bones and vegetables, however it can still be hard to find ones that don’t contain “natural flavours” such as yeast extract, which is code for MSG.

3/ The best quality organic and additive-free liquid stocks will set you back around $3-5 per cup of broth, while homemade broth costs only about 0.37 cents per cup. That’s a huge mark-up for something you can make in your kitchen with about 15 minutes to spare and some leftover food scraps.

What’s so healthy about homemade broth?

Your grandma, or maybe your great-grandma prized chicken broth as a remedy for the flu, and modern research has confirmed that broth helps prevent and mitigate infectious diseases. It’s no wonder I list it as one of the only superfoods you’ll ever need.

Broth is a powerhouse of nutrition AND it’s very easy to digest and absorb the nutrients.

Bone broths in particular (opposed to vegetable broths) contain many minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium. During the long and slow cooking process, these minerals are drawn out of the animal bones and into the broth. So instead of fretting how to get your calcium without consuming processed dairy products, how about just incorporating delicious bone broths into your diet the way the Asians do?

Dr. Kaayla Daniels says: “Traditional bone broth helps you absorb MORE protein so you can get by on less. The gelatin aids digestion and is the same as collagen, so it’s great for the skin and to prevent cellulite. Broth has been used to heal every imaginable gut disorder including colitis and Chrons, plus autoimmune disorders. It’s a good way for vegans to lose their virginity.”

Gelatin, which naturally makes your homemade broth congeal when it cools, is a big part of broth’s superfood formula. As far back as the first century, gelatin has been used as a therapy for the body. It has been found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases. As Dr. Daniels says above, it is commonly used to heal the gut disorders so common today, from irritable bowel and leaky gut to Chrons Disease.

Though gelatin is not a complete protein, it acts as a protein sparer, meaning it helps your body more fully utilise any complete proteins you eat. This is why bone broths are a must for people who don’t have much meats in their diet or have trouble digesting meats, AND why so many cultures include bone broths as part of every meal.

Chicken or Chicken Bones?

There are a few ways to use chicken or bones to make your stock.

1/Use a whole chicken with the meat on.
At the end, you will have your broth AND loads of cooked chicken meat to make soups, curries, chicken salads, and scrap salads.

Chicken broth and leftover chicken for soups and salads
Chicken broth and leftover chicken for soups and salads

2/ Use the leftover chicken bones from a whole roast chicken, wings, legs, thighs, etc.
Every time we eat chicken, the leftover bones go into a bag or container in our freezer, so that when I go to make a pot of broth, there are plenty of bones to use. Instead of throwing out bones, you are now going to use them to make one of the most nutritious foods in your kitchen. How cool is that? And people say eating healthy is expensive!

Put your chicken bones in the freezer to save for when you make broth.
Put your chicken bones in the freezer to save for when you make broth.

3/ Buy cheap chicken bones from your butcher.
Most butchers sell chicken carcasses, or chicken backs for only a couple dollars. If you can find chicken feet as well, grab those for your broth, as they are full of gelatin!

How to Make Chicken Broth

How to Make Chicken Broth

Ingredients:
– Chicken or chicken bones (free-range or organic!) About two carcasses, or one whole chicken plus some more bones.
– 1-2 carrots, roughly chopped
– 1-3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
– 1 onion, skin on, cut in half or quarters
– Water to cover everything in your pot
Optional: 2 tbsp vinegar, sea salt, 1 tsp peppercorns, lemon peel, 1 bunch parsely, additional herbs and spices

Chicken broth ingredients

You can also use veggie scraps instead. When you cut carrots, celery, leek, and onion for other meals, save the ends, skins and scraps in a bag in your freezer. Instead of throwing them out, use them to make broth! You really won’t need salt if you are going to make soups and other meals with your broth, as you will add seasoning then.

STEP 1: Put everything in a large pot or slow-cooker.

STEP 2: Cover all ingredients with COLD filtered water.
*Note – if using vinegar, letting everything sit in the vinegar water for 30-60 minutes before cooking will help extract calcium and other minerals from the bones.

Throw chicken broth ingredients in a pot of cold water. Then let it cook!
Throw chicken broth ingredients in a pot of cold water. Then let it cook!

STEP 3: If using a slow-cooker, simply turn on low. If using a pot on the stove, slowly bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat so it just barely simmers. Impurities in the form of frothy scum will rise to the surface during the first hour or so. Skim this off with a large spoon and throw away. Leave to cook for 8-24 hours.
*Note – if using a whole chicken, remove the chicken after about 4 hours so the meat doesn’t overcook. You can put on kitchen gloves to remove the hot meat and put aside, then throw the bones back into the broth.
*Note – if using parsely, add the bunch for the last hour or so of cooking to add additional mineral ions to the broth.

STEP 4: Strain the broth and throw away the bones, vegetables and herbs.

Strain the broth directly into containers for the fridge
Strain the broth directly into containers for the fridge
Or strain the broth into one large container to then divide up
Or strain the broth into one large container to then divide up

STEP 5: Put broth in the fridge and when cool, skim off and throw away the fat layer that forms on top.

Put broth into the fridge to cool
Put broth into the fridge to cool
Skim the top fat layer off the cooled broth
Skim the top fat layer off the cooled broth

If this all sounds too time-consuming

If you are in a hurry at any one of these steps, feel free to change the order around! I often throw my ingredients in the slow-cooker in the evening after dinner and let the broth cook all night. In the morning, I scoop out most of the bones and veg with a slotted spoon, then throw the whole slow-cooker bowl into the fridge to let cool while I get on with my day. When I get time later or that night, I can skim off the fat from the cooled broth, then strain the broth into containers or ice trays. A few minutes at each stage are all that is needed!

Storing your chicken broth / stock

Keep your broth in containers or jars in the fridge for up to 5 days (longer if reboiled), or in the freezer for several months. You can use ice cubes trays to make stock cubes that are easy to throw into your pan when cooking, or even make ice blocks (popsicles) for a very nutritious cold snack.

Store broth in jars in the fridge for 5 days
Store broth in jars in the fridge for 5 days
Make broth ice cubes to add when cooking
Make broth ice cubes to add when cooking
Boost your health and digestion with a broth popsicle!
Boost your health and digestion with a broth popsicle!

 Drink Your Broth!

Of course, broth adds liquid and delicious flavour to many of your favourite casseroles, stews, and soups. You can also cook veggies in it for extra flavour and nutrition, and use it instead of water when cooking rice and other pre-soaked grains.

However, if you also need an immune boost, help with your digestion, or some extra healing in times of illness or stress, simply heat a cup of your homemade broth in a small pot on the stove and drink it in a mug like a cup of tea. Magic healing tea, that is. 🙂

 

References & Further Reading on Broth:

– “Broth is Beautiful” by the Weston A. Price Foundation
– “Stock Reviews” by Choice.com.au
– “Chicken Broth: No MSG Labels are False” by The Healthy Home Economist
– “Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Recalls…” by The Health Ranger
– “Nourishing Traditions” book by Sally Fallon

 

How will you make your homemade broth? What do you use it for? Share your thoughts and ideas!

Christmas Salads for a Healthy Summer Holiday

Christmas Salads for a Healthy Summer Holiday

I’m dreaming of a light Christmas. No bloating, sugar hangovers or weight gain. Fortunately, celebrating the holidays below the equator means lots of red and green summer vegetables and fruits which look festive but feel light. Plus, these Christmas salads and sides are so quick to make that you’ll have plenty of time for all that holiday fun in the sun.

(Americans, Europeans and other Northern hemisphere residents, there are a couple awesome ideas for you at the end – scroll down!)

Christmas Salads for a Healthy Summer Holiday Meals
Have a healthy holiday with beautiful Christmas salads

So for you Southern Hemisphere dwellers, here are some ideas that I came up with simply by pairing fresh red and green produce. The combinations and possibilities are endless, so use your imagination and let your taste buds lead the way.

Start with Christmas coloured salad ingredients

GREEN: Asparagus, zucchini, green beans, green capsicum (pepper), spinach and other leafy greens, basil and other wonderful herbs.

RED: Red Capsicum (pepper), all types of tomatoes, watermelon, chili peppers, strawberries and cherries.

Then mix and match!

This can be as simple as blanched or steamed green beans with raw red capscium.

Green beans and Red Capsicum
Simple as Green beans and Red Capsicum!

Start with a basic combination of red and green, then add herbs, nuts, salt and pepper, oils and vinegars, or homemade dips.

This beautiful salad took 5 minutes to make and is delicious! It’s drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkled with sea salt and pepper.

Spinach and Tomato Salad with Walnuts and Grated Zucchini
Spinach and Tomato Salad with Walnuts and Grated Zucchini

Another variation is to use large sliced tomatoes, and arrange with the green beans on a plate. My arrangement here is very basic, but you can jazz it up however you like. This is also delicious drizzled with oil, vinegar, sea salt and herbs.

Blanched green beans and sliced fresh tomatoes
Blanched green beans and sliced fresh tomatoes

Zucchini is plentiful and very cheap in the summer and can be prepared so many ways. It is delicious sliced and grilled or sauteed. You can also eat it raw, grated or peeled as a salad. Here, I’ve used a veggie peeler to ‘peel’ the entire zucchini, then added red capsicum for the Christmas colour. Again, add dressings, herbs, nuts, avocado, etc. as you wish!

Raw zucchini and capsicum salad
Raw zucchini and capsicum salad

Capsicum (bell peppers) come in both red and green and often plummet in price over the summer when supply is plentiful. We have already shown how it can be sliced and eaten raw with salads. Here, I’ve grilled the capsicum until the skin got black and blistered. Then let it cool thoroughly and pulled the skin off. Grilled capsicum can be added to any salad or eaten on it’s own, with fresh herbs like basil and some oil/vinegar/seasoning or dip.

Grilled Capsicum with Basil
Grilled Capsicum with Basil

Or hollow out the capsicums and stuff with salads or meat, like I talk about in the Lovin’ Leftovers article, ‘Same Food, New Dish‘.

Preparing stuffed capsicums for Christmas
Preparing stuffed capsicums for Christmas

Asparagus is another star summer veg which can be grilled, oven-roasted, sauteed or quickly blanched (dropped into boiling water for a couple minutes). It works well as the main component of the dish with red fruit or veg added for Christmas colour.

Roasted Asparagus with Red Peppers (Capsicum)
Roasted Asparagus with Red Peppers from Tastebook
Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes Christmas Dish
Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Asparagus and Strawberry Salad
Asparagus and Strawberry Salad from Tastespace
Asparagus, tomato and avocado salad
Asparagus, tomato and avocado salad

Tomatoes, as shown above, go with everything, come in many different sizes, and are so easy to prepare. Sliced, diced, marinated, roasted, grilled, sauteed, and raw. You can make a tomato salsa to pour over your green vegetables, or hollow out large tomatoes and stuff them like the capsicum. Here, I’ve halved some cherry tomatoes and topped them with my homemade pesto. Dee-lish!

Pesto-topped Cherry Tomatoes
Pesto-topped Cherry Tomatoes

Don’t forget the lovely red fruits – strawberries, cherries and watermelon. Throw cherries and berries onto your green salads. Chop up some watermelon and mint for a refreshing red and green fruit salad.

Veggie Christmas Trees

Broccoli is a mainly a winter veg, so if you are having a winter Christmas, or find some quality broccoli in your summer Down Under, try out these gorgeous Christmas tree veggie platters! I might try the top one with steamed broccoli drizzled with oil and sea salt. What could I use instead of pretzels for the tree trunk?

Raw broccoli and tomato Christmas tree platter
Raw broccoli and tomato Christmas tree platter
Raw vegetable Christmas Tree
Raw vegetable Christmas Tree from Creative Ideas on Facebook

Pair these Christmas salads with a roast ham, pork or lamb shoulder, roast beef, roast chicken or turkey, or grilled fish. Throw some prawns on the barbeque or peel and eat them cold.

Your Christmas feast will be gorgeous, delicious, nutritious and feel light in your body on a warm summer day. Plus, you’ll have room leftover for some primal style Christmas desserts (recipes coming next week!).

Merry Christmas Mate!

 

Does your family have the same foods for Christmas every year? Are you starting some new healthier traditions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Meals in 20 Minutes

3 meals in 20 minutes

Not enough time to cook? Want delicious, healthy and filling meals without fancy ingredients or complicated recipes? Then it’s time you started taking advantage of that amazing thing every single one of us has in their kitchen. The oven!

Roast lamb and onion, pumpkin and cauliflower vegetable medley with steamed green beans
I didn’t cook this meal. My oven did!

I am addicted to oven roasting for several reasons:
– The oven does all the cooking for me while I play with Kaiya or ‘get things done’
– I can fit lots of food in the oven to cook all at once and have plenty for leftovers
– Roast meats and vegetables taste amazing without fancy ingredients or recipes
– Roasts impress people and make me look like a gourmet cook
– I don’t have to stand over a hot stove, stir or saute, or even get messy!

How to Make 3 Meals in 20 Minutes

So on to the task at hand. I’ve promised you 3 meals in 20 minutes, and this is how you do it.

1/ 20 minutes is the maximum time it should take to preheat the oven and prepare the meat and veg for the oven. The key here is to prepare more than you will eat in one meal!

Prepping a roast meal takes very little time and no fancy recipes
Prepping a roast meal takes very little time and no fancy recipes
No need to peel vegetables before roasting
No need to peel vegetables before roasting

For this example meal, I have quickly chopped up some vegetables and rubbed some dried herbs on the meat. That’s it!

This is the amount I prepared for our family of 3, so we would have enough for dinner, breakfast and lunch.

NOTES:
– There is no need to peel pumpkin before roasting. The skin comes off much easier after it’s cooked and on your plate.  The same goes for sweet potato, potatoes, and beetroot.
– For a roast vegetable medley, just chop and throw in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. Here I used cauliflower, eggplant, red capsicum (bell pepper), and leek. Soft vegetables like zucchini, will roast much faster than hard vegetables like cauliflower. So you can either cut hard vegetables smaller than the soft ones and cook on the same tray, or put soft vegetables on a separate tray and put in the oven later.
– The green beans can also be roasted with the vegetable medley or the pumpkin, but we also like them steamed. I trimmed the ends and put them in a steamer in a pot of cold water on the stove during my 20 minutes prep time. Then right before the roast was ready to serve, I turned on the heat to quickly cook them.
– Here’s a list of which vegetables are great for roasting and tips on how to cook them in my Vegetable Cheat Sheet.
– Ask your butcher for a cut of meat that is good for roasting. We love lamb shoulder or leg (I think shoulder is much yummier!), beef topside or brisket, any ribs, and pork shoulder or belly. A whole chicken or any cut of chicken besides breast is great in the oven, and fish is delicious baked in the oven.
– For this lamb roast, I simply rubbed some olive oil and dried herbs all over the meat. It took less than a minute!
– Onion is delicious roasted. You can chop it up and mix it with your vegetable medley or put it around your meat. I find it’s best around the meat (or under the meat if you use a roasting rack), as the juices from the meat help flavour and caramelise the onion.

2/ While the oven is cooking the food… you don’t lose the time you needed to go do your workout, finish the chores, balance your finances, skype your mum, run errands or do a craft with your kid.

– The cooking time will depend on what cut of meat and which vegetables you are cooking. To keep it simple, I do almost everything on 180C (350F). For whole roast meats and whole chickens, I allow about 25 minutes per 500g (1lb). Vegetables chopped quite small average 20-25 minutes total, and whole, unchopped root vegetables such as beetroot (beets), sweet potato and potato take about 1-1.5 hours.
– Many people are afraid to leave home for a short time with a hot oven on, but with an electric oven at this temperature, the chance of fire is little to none so I don’t sweat it. Use your own judgement.

3/ Enjoy your gourmet roast meal that the oven cooked for you!

Roast lamb and onion, pumpkin and cauliflower vegetable medley with steamed green beans
Roast lamb and onion, pumpkin and cauliflower vegetable medley with steamed green beans

Let your meat sit for about 10-15 minutes before carving it up and digging in. Sea salt, pepper, butter and/or olive oil are the perfect condiments to add to your finished roast meat and veg. The roasting action gives such great flavour to your whole foods as it is!

4/ You now have two more meals worth of food with all the leftovers.

Put the rest of the cooked meat and vegetables into containers for the fridge.

Cook large quantities at once, then enjoy the leftovers
Cook large quantities at once, then enjoy the leftovers!

Chop up the leftover roast meat and vegetables to make scrap salad for packed lunches or on-the-go breakfasts. You can also add tomato, capsicum (peppers), avocado, fresh herbs, olive oil and vinegar to your scrap salad if you desire.

Chop up leftover roast meat and vegetables for scrap salad lunches
Chop up leftover roast meat and vegetables for scrap salad lunches

Learn the Basics of Lovin’ Leftovers to get the most out of your leftovers. Unless you use the same meats and vegetables every day and every week, there’s no reason that eating the same meal three times in a row should be boring. Especially if it’s so delicious!

However, if you want more variety with your leftovers, try Same Food, New Dish: Recipes Using Leftovers. Some examples for this meal:
– Chop the leftovers small and eat them inside lettuce wraps or hollowed capsicum (bell pepper).
– Mash the leftover pumpkin and pile the reheated meat and veggies on top of the warm mash.
– Chop the leftovers and warm in a pan with a homemade tomato sauce, or curry paste and coconut cream.

Cook when you have time. Not just in the evening.

Lastly, remember there are no rules stating that you must cook in the evening or only when you ready to eat. If you are home all morning but have a busy afternoon and evening, do your roast in the morning and have it for lunch, with leftovers for dinner and breakfast or lunch the next day. If you are off at work all week, cook up your roast on the weekend and pack up the leftovers into containers ready to eat during the week.

 

Let us know what you made in your oven how you enjoyed your leftovers!

Easy Leftovers Omelette Recipe

Easy Leftovers Vegetable Omelette

All you need for this recipe is your leftover dinner and a few eggs. That’s it! Once you’ve made your first leftovers omelette, you will be addicted to the simplicity and deliciousness of this meal.

Omelettes are not just for breakfast

Eggs are such a versatile and nutritious food, that we like to use them as many ways and as often as we can. This recipe is the same concept as egg muffins, but instead of a greased muffin tin and a hot oven, all you’ll need is a pan on the stove and a spatula. Most anything you had for dinner (or even lunch) the day before will go well in your omelette today. I have made omelettes with leftover curry, stews, casseroles, steak and potato meals, fish, chicken, pork, lamb, and a wide variety of vegetables.

Leftover mixed roasted vegetables can be used the next day in an omelette
Mixed roasted vegetables one night, leftover veggie omelette the next day!

Leftover vegetables make an easy and nutritious omelette

Leftovers Omelette Recipe

Step 1: Warm some butter or oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Put your leftovers in the pan.

Depending on the size of your leftover meat and vegetable pieces, you may not even have to chop them up before putting in the pan. If I’m making a small omelette, sometimes I will just chop the leftovers with kitchen scissors straight into the pan – no cutting board needed. As you can see in my leftover roasted vegetable omelette above, I have small pieces of pumpkin, strips of capsicum (red pepper), and larger pieces of broccoli and fennel. That is the way I made the vegetables to go with my dinner the night before. I might have also put some leftover lamb in the omelette, but we ate it all at dinner.

Step 2: While your leftovers are warming in the pan, beat your eggs in a bowl.

As always, only use the best eggs you can find, from free-roaming, pastured chickens. The egg provides great flavour and nutrition, and most importantly here, it holds all your leftovers together nicely. I recommend about 2 eggs per person, but this may vary, depending on how thick you’d like your omelette and how big your leftover pieces and pan are. You also don’t have to beat the eggs a whole lot. Sometimes it’s nice to just mix them lightly and then you can see the egg’s yellow and white colors separately in your omelette.

Step 3: Pour the eggs into the pan. Tilt the pan around or use your spatula to spread the egg evenly to the edges of the pan.

Use a nice sized pan, and don’t worry about making too much. That just means that you will have a new type of leftovers for your next meal or snack! Omelettes are not just for breakfast. They are quite yummy cold and therefore make a simple, healthy packed lunch. And since there really are no rules about eggs only being for breakfast, why don’t you whip up a quick leftovers omelette for dinner?

Step 4: Cut, flip or cover your omelette to finish the cooking.

There are a few ways to finish cooking the omelette after the bottom and edges start to firm up: 1/Use your spatula to cut the omelette into quarters, then flip each quarter. My daughter calls this pizza omelette. 2/ Flip the whole omelette over – this only works with very small omelettes. 3/ If you have a cover for your pan, put it on and the egg will finish cooking inside in a few minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you like a cheese omelette, simply grate your raw cheese over the top of the hot omelette and it will melt right into it. Delicious!

Flip, cut or cover your omelette
Flip, cut or cover your omelette to finish cooking

 

Primal Fish and Chips

Primal Fish and Chips

Ingredients

– White fish fillets
– Sweet potatoes
– 1-2 Eggs
– Shredded Coconut

Optional: – Paprika, turmeric, sea salt
– Broccoli, mushrooms or salad greens

Coconut fish and sweet potato chips with steamed broccoli
Coconut fish & sweet potato chips
with steamed broccoli

A modern-day order of fish and chips is usually a killer meal containing processed flours and harmful vegetable oils. You can always order grilled fish, but the chips or fries will still be fried in over-processed, rancid oils, which is enough reason to steer clear. This version, however, gives you all the nutrition and tastiness of fish and chips, with none of the nasties. You get a nice piece of fish with a light healthy crust, and homemade chips baked in the oven. Make this meal for your kids – they will love it!

NOTES:

– I used sweet potato instead of white potato because we prefer the taste (I think that’s why people need ketchup for white potato fries). Many people also prefer sweet potatoes because of their lower glycemic index (slower release of sugars in your body) which keeps blood sugar levels stable in the body and keep you satisfied for longer. Others avoid white potatoes as they are sensitive or intolerant to plants from the nightshade plant family. However, if you do well on either, feel free to substitute white potatoes in this recipe!

– Be sure to buy minimally processed, unsweetened shredded coconut. I mixed in a few spices with the coconut to add to the flavour of the fish crust, but the coconut has a wonderful flavour on its own if you choose not to use any extra spices.

– For the healthiest, most primal fish, always buy wild caught, never farmed. If you can’t find wild fish fillets at a reasonable price, buy a whole fish and ask the fishmonger (the fish butcher) to fillet it for you. You can even save the carcass for fish stock! There is usually no extra cost for this service, and the whole fish are significantly cheaper.

– The broccoli and mushrooms are merely side suggestions that are easy to cook up at the same time your fish and chips are cooking. You can check the veggie cheat sheet for more ideas, or a green salad is also a perfect side. Or just have the fish and chips on their own!

 

Baked sweet potato chips
Sweet potato chips ready to bake
Fish with egg dipper and shredded coconut
The fish gets dipped in egg and coconut
Pan-fried coconut crusted fish
Pan-fry the coconut covered fish

 

Primal Fish and Chips Recipe

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Cut the ends off the sweet potatoes and slice into long even rectangles like steak fries.

Step 2: Arrange sweet potato chips in a single layer on a baking tray. Spray or toss with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Put in oven and set timer for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Chop the broccoli or other vegetable sides and put in water-filled steamer or pot and/or under the grill. Don’t turn the heat on yet. 

Step 4: Beat eggs in a small bowl. Sprinkle plenty of shredded coconut onto a plate and mix in any desired spices. Try 1/4 tsp each of paprika and turmeric, plus a sprinkle of sea salt.

Step 5: Put a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and/or butter into a fry pan on med-high heat.

Step 6: Turn the heat on to steam/grill your side veggies so they will cook while the fish is frying.

Step 7: When pan is hot, dip each fish fillet into the egg, then into the coconut, then lay in the pan. Ensure both sides of the fish get coated in the coconut before putting in the pan.

Step 8: After a few minutes frying, flip the fish with a spatula and fry the other side.

Step 9: Let fish cook a few more minutes. The veggies and chips should be ready about the same time. Enjoy!

 

Coconut fish with steamed broccoli and grilled mushrooms
Broccoli steaming, fish frying, mushrooms grilling

 

How did your fish and chips turn out? Share any adaptations you recommend for this recipe.

Meat Part 1 – You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!

You Can Afford Grass Fed Meat

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video, ‘Meat Part 1 – You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!’

Bex:
Hi, we are here with Andrew Lupton at Brookvale meats in Sydney, where we have been buying our meat for quite some time and recommending to everyone we can. The main reason that we buy and we recommend the meat here, is that it is grass-fed, sourced from local farms, antibiotic and hormone-free. The meat is coming from animals that are raised well. Animals that are healthy, and that’s going to make us healthy. However, Andrew, lots of people are concerned that they can’t afford grass-fed, free-range meat. What would you say to customers about this concern?

You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!

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Andrew: I’d recommend they all come down here and have a look at the prices!

Bex: That will do it!!

Andrew: As simple as that.

Brookvale Meats - Free Range Grass Fed Meat

Andrew:
They’ll find the difference here. One lady customer was told by her husband not to shop here, because we’re very expensive. So, she went out and compared like for like in one of our well-known supermarkets around the corner, and we were 50 percent cheaper. So, let’s dismiss that myth, there’s no penalty for buying grass-fed meat. No, on the contrary, you can buy grass-fed rump meat, a whole grass-fed rump for $12/kg. That’s cheap meat. So, no it’s not more expensive and you don’t have to pay that.

Bex:
Do you think a lot of that might come  from the fact that people are used to only a few popular cuts of meat, and that those cuts might be the most expensive cuts?

Andrew:
It certainly could be possible, that could be a reason. I think perhaps more likely is that people are used to markets, where they buy similar meat, free-range meat from boutique producers, who because of the size of their operations, they have to charge a lot  more than we do (Brookvale Meats), and so here comes the perception, from perhaps buying free-range meat from markets and boutique suppliers, that it’s very expensive. It’s entirely a bit more expensive but it’s a very, very small price to pay at this point.

Bex:
Absolutely, and another thing that  might be able to help consumers in budgeting their meat purchases, is buying in bulk. How does that work and what are the best cuts for bulk purchase?

Andrew:
Well, I suppose the best cut for a bulk purchase, is to buy a whole cow! Indeed, it’s something that we do. We cut it up for them and they come in their ute (pick-up truck), and they take it away. So, people do buy whole pigs, they buy whole lambs, they do buy half cows. So, there are some people out there that buy in bulk.

Bex: Smaller families?

Andrew:
Smaller families, smaller freezers. Buying in bulk it is important but it’s not necessary, you just need to buy the cheaper cuts. If you want to reduce the expenses, then talk to your butcher. What do I do with a beef blade, how can I cut it? How can I cook it?

Bex: Exactly.

Andrew:
These are the things that you should be asking the butcher to try to reduce  the weekly spend. A lot of that is on our website, there’s a whole section of cheaper cuts and loads of recipes involved within the website on cheaper cuts. To me, it’s not necessary to fill your deep freezer to save a few bucks.

Bex: So, can you list off a few of these cheaper, less popular, lesser known cuts that you recommend?

Andrew:
Gosh, where to start? Okay, pigs trotters! They cost next to nothing. We give them away! They’re not for the faint-hearted indeed. You have to like your dose of fat, but it’s extremely cheap. The cheaper cuts would be anything that is a little bit tougher to cook that doesn’t cook quickly. Lamb shanks, lamb neck… lamb neck makes the best stew, it has the most flavour and when you cook it right it is a tender meat. I love it! I prefer it to loin chops which are three times the price. On beef, we’re talking about Osso Bucco, we’re talking about the shoulder, and the leg; these are the cheaper cuts. They do indeed involve longer cooking periods , most of the time, although we can tenderise it for you. We can get you a shoulder or leg and cut it nice and thin, bash it and tenderise it, and still be treated like a steak.

Bex:
Beautiful, and as you mentioned you have a wonderful page. A couple of pages on the website talking about cheaper cuts. Where they are all listed out with pictures and everything.

Andrew: There’s a few recipes too, I try to encourage people…

Bex:
Great recipes, and your website is, www.brookvalemeats.com.au. Have a look there and learn about the cheaper cuts, and realise that you’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck and you’re not going to have to spend more than you want to. It’s really about choosing quality food. Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks for your time!

 

Do you cook with cheaper cuts of meat? What are your favourites?

 

Healthy Party Food for both Kids and Adults

I used to think that the term healthy party food was an oxymoron.
How can you use healthy and party in the same breath?
Haven’t we all had a party throw us off our healthy eating goals?
Or felt like a party-pooper for not partaking in all the rich, sugary, processed party food?
Well it doesn’t have to be like that anymore.

Healthy party food ideas and recipes

First of all, getting healthy (instead of just skinny) is getting more popular, as people are realising how much better life is when you have good health. So you are not the only party-goer who wants to eat real food. Secondly, now that we’ve ditched the low-fat diet myths and embraced Primal diets, we have much more delicious and filling choices for our party menus!

Here are some of our favourite party food ideas, most of which would best suit casual get-togethers and kids parties, but can also be fancied up for a stylish cocktail party or any occassion. Either way, these party dishes can all be made very inexpensively, so your party doesn’t break the bank.

When you are trying to think of what to make for a party, just think of Primal food basics: animal food and plant food. Animal food is red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, wild game. Plant food is vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

 

Meats, Chicken, Fish & Eggs

Let’s start with some delicious animal food party dishes that are so simple to make. A good quality wholesale butcher is your best bet for getting grass-fed/free-range meats at cheaper prices. Never buy caged eggs, and always look for wild caught fish, even if you use canned fish.

Mini sausages (chipolatas)
A party favourite with kids and grown-ups alike! Some toothpicks are all you really need to serve these with, but you could also easily do a homemade ketchup or chutney, or a good-quality mustard for dipping the sausages. If you want a more sophisticated presentation, try skewering the whole sausages lengthwise, or use lemongrass to skewer diagonal slices, as shown above.

Sausages on lemongrass skewers
Sausages on lemongrass skewers

Mini sausages with chutney, relish or salsa
Sausages with chutney or relish

Chicken wings or drumettes
Just as easy as sausages, and all you need are lots of napkins. These can be baked in a 350F oven in 20 minutes, or you can turn the temp down and cook long and slow for up to 1.5 hours to make nice and crispy. For flavour, google a baked chicken wing recipe, or try my favourite simple coating of sesame oil, olive oil, cider vinegar or rice vinegar, soy sauce, grated ginger, and an optional touch of honey. Mix it all in a bowl, then simply brush it onto your wings before baking.

Chicken wings or drumettes
Chicken wings and drumettes
photo: mykitchensnippets.com

Meatballs
These can be as simple or fancy as you wish, depending on what you mix the meat with before rolling into balls. For basic meatballs, all you need is ground meat, one egg, onion, herbs and spices. No need for breadcrumbs or fillers; the egg in your mixture works well at holding the small balls together. Most recipes call for browning the meatballs first, before finishing in the oven. But if you are short on time, you can do the whole thing in the oven: 375F for 20 minutes should do it.

Meatballs are great party food
Homemade meatballs

Fish cakes
A good quality canned red or pink salmon can be used as a shortcut to fresh fish. Most recipes call for forming the mixture into patties and pan-frying, but it’s even easier to just spoon the fish cake mixture into a greased mini-muffin tin and cook in the oven for about 25 min on 350F (180C). Instead of breadcrumbs as filler, here is a great fish cakes recipe using almond flour, and another one using coconut flour. You can vary the taste with different ingredients, such as garlic, chili, ginger, lemongrass, fresh dill/parsely/cilantro, and ground spices.

Salmon fish cakes with coconut flour    Salmon Fish Cakes

  • 1 can salmon (8 oz)
  • 1 tbs. coconut flour
  • 1/2-1tbs lime or lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional:1 tbs. mustard

Egg Muffins
Beat 6 eggs in a bowl with choice of fillings: diced meat and/or veggie leftovers, herbs, raw cheese, seasoning. Bake in a buttered muffin tin for 20 minutes on 180C (350F). A mini-muffin tin is even better for party sized egg muffins and for little kids. Some favourite fillings include roasted pumpkin, bacon, leek, capsicum (bell pepper), sausage, and olives. Here are more ingredient ideas for egg muffins.

Deviled Eggs
This is an oldie but a goodie, and loved by kids and adults alike. It’s nothing more than hard boiled eggs with the yolks fancied up and restuffed into the egg. Google a recipe or just improvise. No need for mayo, but if you use it, best to make your own. Otherwise, mustard and seasonings work great, and you can dress the eggs up by topping with diced or slivered raw red capsicum (bell pepper), avocado and bacon, or just some fresh dill.

Deviled eggs with avocado and bacon
Deviled eggs with avocado and bacon

 

Fruit & Vegetables

Now for the plant foods. There are endless possibilities for enticing party presentations with all the colourful fruit and vegetables!

Fruit skewers and platters
These can be as simple or fancy as you wish. Simply peel, cut and skewer the fruits or arrange on a platter. If you’re feeling creative, make designs or do a colour scheme.

Fruit & veg Sesame Street party platters
Fruit & veg Sesame Street party platters

Raw veggie sticks and platters
The more types of veggies you use, the more colourful your platter. Try carrots, celery, cucumber and capsicum (bell pepper). You can also use purple or yellow carrots, various colours of capsicum, and jicama, if you can find them. Serve with homemade dips like babaganoush, hummus, beetroot hummus, (kids love the colour), guacamole, olive tapenade, or sweet potato and cashew dip. Google a dip recipe! For kids parties, you can arrange the fruit and veg into shapes on the platters, or do something like these clever Sesame Street faces.

‘Ants on a log’ is a very fun dish that especially appeals to children but can easily be fancied up for adults. For the log, celery is most popular, but carrots and banans sliced longways also work well. The traditional filling is nut butter, topped with raisins for the ‘ants’. If you don’t want to use nut butter, try hummus or another homemade dip, or tuna or chicken salad for a more filling dish. Variations on toppings (ants) include diced banana, strawberry, berries, shredded coconut, dried cranberries, olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

Tuna and cranberries ants on a log
Tuna and cranberries ants on a log

Grilled/marinated vegetables
Slice zucchini, capsicum (bell pepper), and eggplant, brush with olive oil and cook under a grill (broiler) or on the barbeque until soft. Add more flavour by adding crushed garlic, ginger and/or herbs to the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and lay colourfully on a platter. Asparagus, green beans, mushrooms and tomatoes also work well, and olives, pickles and dried tomatoes add a nice touch.

Grilled vegetable party platter
Grilled vegetables platter

Homemade popcorn
Put 1/4 cup certified organic popcorn kernels in a pot with 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Cover and shake every couple minutes until popping starts, then turn heat down slightly and keep covered until popping starts. Pour over some melted butter, sprinkle on some sea salt and you have a healthy version of a very popular snack! You can also get creative with your toppings, like adding ground cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne to the sea salt and butter for a spicy popcorn.

Homemade popcorn
Homemade organic popcorn

Homemade sushi
Making your own sushi allows for great versatility. You can make them with cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, rice, quinoa, meats, chicken, fish – it’s up to you. Cut your sushi rolls into small slices and you have a filling and healthy finger food everyone will love. Here’s how to roll your own sushi plus lots of great ingredient ideas for all different types of parties.

 

Party Sweets & Cake

For desserts, think “better bad” choices. For example, your coconut macaroons will still have sugar in them, but by making them yourself, you can choose to use good quality sugars, such as real maple syrup, coconut sugar or rapadura. You may want to make a cream cheese frosting for your cupcakes, which is not a great choice because it’s pasteurised dairy. However, it’s a much better choice than commercial frostings loaded with fake ingredients, and it’s only a small amount that each person will have. These are both better bad choices.

Thanks to the current Paleo and Primal food revolution, there are hundreds of delicious better bad desserts on the internet. Elana’s Pantry is particularly popular for her gluten-free, grain-free, low-sugar and raw treats.

Cacao Balls
These delectable bite-sized treats can be made many different ways, depending on your tastes and dietary restrictions. Start with our recipe for raw cacao balls, then try different versions using dates, various nuts and seeds, and even liquor. If you don’t have raw cacao, use minimally processed cocoa. As an alternative, dried apricots and shredded coconut make delicious apricot balls.

Raw chocolate and coconut balls
Raw cacao balls rolled in crushed almonds

Morning Glory Muffins
Instead of cupcakes for Kaiya’s 3rd and 4th birthday party, we made morning glory muffins with yoghurt cheese and honey icing. Soooo yum!

Healthy cupcakes for kids birthday party
Morning Glory muffins with cream cheese frosting and homemade sprinkles

Makes 12
2 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and grated
1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup raisins
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey (optional)
1/2 cup coconut or olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease a standard-sized muffin pan.
2. Combine almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add carrot, apple, coconut and raisins and combine well.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, honey, oil and vanilla extract together.
4. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and mix very well. The batter will be very thick.
5. Spoon the batter out into muffin pan and place on upper or middle rack of your oven for 40-50 minutes.
6. When a toothpick inserted into the top of a muffin comes out clean, the muffins are done.
7. Cool muffins in the pan for 8-10 minutes and then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

Recipe from: paleocomfortfoods.com

Cream Cheese Frosting – with no icing sugar! For about 12 cupcakes
1 cup softened cream cheese (or yoghurt cheese)
8 Tbsp softened butter
2-4 Tbsp Honey (depending on how sweet you like)
1 tsp. Vanilla
Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy (or just mix with a spoon!). Beat or mix in honey and vanilla.
Recipe from: helium.com

For kids parties, the best strategy is to keep things simple. A platter of watermelon slices, some popcorn and grapes are loved by all! The same can often be said for adults as far as simplicity is concerned. People love to go to a party and find recognizable and wholesome food. Don’t you agree?

 

Do you have a favourite healthy party food recipe?