Vegetable Cheat Sheet L – Z

Continued from Vegetable Cheat Cheet A-K

Leeks
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Saute / Bake
Tips: Trim off ends before cooking. Split lengthwise for baking. Finished when tender.

Lima Beans
Season: Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Boil
Tips: While dried lima beans are a legume, the fresh beans are a vegetable. Hull your own or buy frozen. Put frozen or freshly hulled beans into boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and serve.

Kaiya checking out squash varieties for Mum's cooking

Mushrooms
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Saute / Grill / Bake / Raw
Tips: Must be very fresh. Delicious idea is to remove stem and stuff with butter, cheese, herbs, bacon, etc. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.

Onion
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Saute / Stir-fry / Bake / Slow-cooker / Raw
Tips: Usually partnered with other veg, but also tasty on its own! Use butter, olive oil and/or water to caramelise onions when sauteing or baking. Red onion is nice as a raw salad veg.

Parsnips
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake / Slow-cooker
Tips: Trim, peel and cut into sticks or chunks before cooking. Boil and mash with butter and cream just like potatoes. Or bake or saute just like carrots. Oven-baked parsnip sticks look like French fries!

Peas (Garden or Shell / Sugar Snap / Snow)
Season: Spring / Summer
Cooking: Raw / Grill / Stir-fry
Tips: Peas belong to the legume family and can be eaten fresh or dried. Shell your own fresh peas or buy frozen. Put frozen or freshly shelled peas into boiling water for a few minutes, until just tender. Drain and serve. Chinese or Sugar Snap Pea varieties can be trimmed and steamed for one minute and do not need butter as they are naturally buttery.

Potatoes
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Bake / Saute / Boil / Slow-cooker
Tips: Don’t peel, as most of the nutrients are just under the fibrous skin. Brush the skin with oil for crispy baked potatoes. Alternatively, wrapping in foil helps bake nicely. The smaller the potato chunks in the slow cooker, the mushier the finished potato. Can also slow-cook potatoes whole.

Pumpkin ( many varieties including butternut [see winter squash])
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Steam / Grill / Slow-cooker
Tips: Cut in half, chunks, wedges or slices and scoop out seeds before cooking. Easier to remove skin after cooking or scoop cooked flesh out of skin, though skin can be cut off beforehand. Butternut pumpkin can be served as a hot veg or cold cooked salad veg and makes wonderful soup. Roast seeds for a delicious snack: toss in oil and salt and bake on a baking sheet at 120 C until dry.

Rutabaga (Swede)
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake
Tips: Great lower-starch/lower GI alternative to potatoes. Dice, grate, or mash like you would a potato. Like other root vegetables, roasting in the oven brings out the sweetness.

Spinach
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Saute / Bake
Tips: Always have some of this versatile leafy green in the fridge. Baby spinach best for salad and throwing into mixed dishes. Saute like kale. Mix into stuffings, quiches and more for baking.

Summer Squash (Zucchini, Yellow)
Season: Autumn
Cooking: Saute / Bake / Grill
Tips: Seeds and skin are edible. Never steam or boil. Easily overcooked, so finish cooking when just soft.

Sweet Potato (Kumara/Yams)
Season: Year-round or cooler months
Cooking: Bake / Saute / Boil / Slow-cooker
Tips: Don’t peel, as most of the nutrients are just under the fibrous skin. Cook like potatoes. Roasting (baking) brings out the sweet flavour. Be sure to eat with butter (or egg yolks or cream) for highest fat-soluble nutrient absorption. Related to the morning glory family, not the potato! Comes in yellow, white and purple flesh, in addition to the popular orange variety.

Tomatoes
Season: Late Spring / Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Saute / Bake / Grill
Tips: Technically a fruit but usually eaten like a vegetable, tomatoes are incredibly versatile. Can be served both hot and cold.

Turnips
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Boil / Saute / Bake / Raw
Tips: A cousin of the rutabaga (swede). Lower-starch alternative to potatoes and can be cooked similarly. Baby turnips can keep their skin, otherwise tough skin can be peeled or cut off. Can also be grated raw in salads or sliced and eaten with dip or nut butter.

Winter Squash ( Butternut Pumpkin, Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash)
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Grill / Slow-cooker
Tips: Cut in half, chunks, wedges or slices and scoop out seeds before cooking. Easier to remove skin after cooking or scoop cooked flesh out of skin, though skin can be cut off beforehand. Butternut pumpkin can be served as a hot veg or cold cooked salad veg and makes wonderful soup. Pumpkin seeds can be dried or roasted to eat as a snack.

Happy Cooking!

References:

– Simply in Season Website: http://simplyinseason.org/season/guide/pumpkins.html
– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.


Vegetable Cheat Sheet A – K

Vegetable Cheat Sheet - A to K

Arugula (Rocket)
Season: Spring / Early Summer
Cooking: Raw / Saute
Tips: Great for salad and throwing into mixed dishes. Saute like kale. Mix into stuffings, quiches and more for baking.

Asparagus
Season: Late Spring / Early Summer
Cooking: Steam / Saute / Stir-fry / Grill / Bake / Raw
Tips: Must be fresh; don’t buy if the tips have gone mushy. Before cooking, snap off hard ends and discard. Steams quickly (about 5-8 minutes). Finished cooking when stalks turn bright green. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Makes nice soup.

Cooking is easy once you get to know your veggies

Beans, Green
Season: Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Steam / Saute / Stir-fry / Bake / Raw
Tips: Before cooking, trim ends and discard. Steams quickly (about 8 minutes). Finished cooking when tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.

Beets (Beetroot)
Season: Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Bake / Boil / Raw (grated)
Tips: Baking takes a bit longer but retains more nutrients and flavour. Finished cooking when sharp knife or skewer goes through easily (1-2 hours depending on size). Skin peels off easily after beets are cooked and cooled. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Great with drizzled olive oil. Leaves are slightly bitter but can be prepared and eaten like kale (below).

Bell Peppers (Capsicum)
Season: Summer / Autumn
Cooking: Raw / Grill / Saute / Stir-fry
Tips: Great raw as a snack or in salads. Skin peels off easily after char-grilled and cooled. To keep fresh longer, store remaining cut pieces wrapped in paper towel in fridge drawer. Grilled or roasted bell peppers (capsicum) can be used to make sauces.

Broccoli
Season: Autumn / Winter / Early Spring
Cooking: Steam / Stir-fry / Raw
Tips: Cut into flowerets. Cooks quickly (about 5-8 minutes). Finished cooking when flowerets turn bright green and tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg. Makes nice soup.

Brussel Sprouts
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Saute
Tips: Cut off ends and remove loose outer leaves. Make a little cross in the end to help cook evenly. Steams in about 5-10 minutes. Or steam for 1-2 minutes then saute to finish. Finished when tender.

Cabbage
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Raw
Tips: Remove outer leaves and hard core. Shred or grate cabbage finely for best results (food processor makes it easy). Steam with minimal water for about 5 minutes. Finished when just wilted. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg (slaw).

Carrots
Season: Year-round
Cooking: Raw / Steam / Saute / Boil / Stir-fry / Bake / Slow-Cooker
Tips: Most convenient raw snack veg as doesn’t need cutting. Peeling skin off does not remove nutrients. Finished cooking when tender. Can serve as a hot veg or cold salad veg.

Cauliflower
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Bake / Raw
Tips: Cut into flowerets. Steams in about 10 minutes. Finished cooking when flowerets are tender. Makes nice soup, or mashed as an alternative to mashed potato.

Celery
Season: Late Summer / Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Raw / Slow-Cooker
Tips: Convenient raw veg snack; nice with nut butter or homemade dip. Breaks down nicely in slow-cooked meals. Leaves and top of stalks can be used in making stocks, broths and soups.

Corn
Season: Summer / Early Autumn
Cooking: Steam / Bake / Grill
Tips: Remove husks (shuck) before steaming. Steam covered in small amount of water for about 5-10 minutes until just tender. When baking, corn is finished when green husks turn straw colour. Cold cooked corn works well as a salad ingredient or as a snack.

Eggplant
Season: Summer/ Early Autumn
Cooking: Grill / Saute / Bake
Tips: Easiest cooking method is to slice lengthwise or into rounds, put under grill until hot, rub on butter, then grill until golden (one or both sides). Eggplant slices make nice layers in veggie stacks, or used to pile meat and veg on as an alternative to bread.

Kale
Season: Autumn / Winter
Cooking: Steam / Raw (in shakes/juice)
Tips: Remove stems and tear leaves off ribs. Steam with minimal water for about 8 minutes until wilted. Then squeeze out liquid in a strainer before serving. Can be used raw in green shakes or veggie juices.

The rest of the veggie alphabet is at Vegetable Cheat Sheet L-Z

Happy Cooking!

References:

– Simply in Season Website: http://simplyinseason.org/season/guide/
– Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 1999.

17 Primal & Portable Protein Snacks

17 Real-Food Primal & Portable Protein Snacks

Healthy protein snacks keep your energy and metabolism thriving all day long (no mid-afternoon slump!), help you avoid cravings, and ensure that you’re never left hungry when there’s only junk food options around. Forget expensive and fake packaged protein bars, and get primal with these 17 real-food portable protein snacks (they are all naturally gluten-free, too!).

17 Primal & Portable Protein Snacks

1. Leftover chicken wings or drumettes: Chicken is yummy cold and full of protein to satisfy you for longer. Always make extras when you cook meals, so you have leftovers to pack for easy snacks. Just remember to take a small ice block to keep the chicken cold, especially in warm weather. Here’s an easy and yummy way to cook your wings and drumettes.

2. Hard-Boiled Eggs: Hard-boil at least half a dozen eggs once a week, so you always have this protein and nutrient rich snack to grab on your way out the door. You can even pre-peel them at home for no egg shell mess at work or on the train. Here’s a novel way of making hard-boiled eggs without boiling.

3. Mixed Nuts: One of the easiest snacks to throw in your bag and eat virtually anywhere, and you’ll never get bored with the wide variety of nuts available. Nuts have a pretty good protein content, plus some healthy fats to satiate you. Just be sure to not eat too many nuts that haven’t been activated (soaked and dried). Here’s how to easily activate your nuts at home (no dehydrator required!). I love to toss my finished nuts in oil and sea salt. Yum!

4. Rocky Shake: Thinking about Rocky Balboa drinking raw eggs during boxing training may make you gag, but if you put those raw eggs in a delicious shake, you get the protein and nutrition benefits without any egg taste whatsoever. Shakes become  portable snacks when you make them in the morning and pour into a glass jar with screw-top lid to take with you! Never ever use cage eggs, only the finest quality eggs you can get (worth the extra money, if you value your health), and have fun with a variety of primal shake recipes.

5. Meatballs: Again, the best way to continually eat well when time-poor is to love your leftovers. Whether you’ve used beef, pork, lamb or chicken mince (ground meat), you will be guaranteed a huge amount of protein for snacks. So this is an especially good snack for after a workout, when you have to go long periods between meals, and for insatiable kids. Try my original Coconut Meatballs, which are delicious cold the next day, or get a basic meatball recipe.

6. Pumpkin Seeds: Half a cup of these tasty seeds have about 14 grams of protein! One popular variety called Pepitas can be found in many health food stores, or you can make your own at home by rinsing and oven-roasting the seeds from your pumpkin. You can mix these with your nuts if you like, and add oil, sea salt, tamari or spices for varied flavour.

7. Canned seafood: Clearly, tinned food is not the most primal option, but it might be worth the exception now and then for convenient protein-filled and highly nutritious snacks. Just be sure that the fish is packed in spring water or olive oil, never vegetable oil. Though salmon and tuna are the most common, sardines, mussels and oysters are especially nutritious, or try mackerel (kippers) for a less fishy taste.

8. Two-Ingredient Pancakes: These banana and egg pancakes are making the rounds on the internet because how awesome is it to have a pancake with no flour at all! And the eggs will give you protein. They are small size pancakes, so they’re perfect for taking as snacks in your bag.

9. Jerky: Native peoples were snacking on beef jerky and salmon jerky long before it came in a package, and today most commercial jerky contains horrors like MSG and corn syrup. If you can’t find a brand that has nothing but meat and spices, here’s how to make your own jerky without a dehydrator.

10. Mini Fish Cakes: A more primal and delicious version of the canned seafood, this just takes a little bit more prep time, or you can again just use your awesome leftovers. You can make fish cakes a million ways to suit your tastes, including veggies or herbs to add even more nutrition to these protein and fatty-acid filled snacks.

11. Mini Egg Muffins: We are a huge fan of egg-muffins for breakfast and lunches so how about making them in mini-muffin tins to take for snack time? Simply throw your leftover chopped veggies in a bowl with 4-6 eggs and salt and pepper, mix it up and ladle into the mini muffin tins. After 20 minutes in a 180C (350F) oven, you have a bunch of real food protein snacks ready to go.

12. Raw Cheese: Who doesn’t love cheese?! Just make sure it’s always raw, never pasteurised! We have found two types of unpasteurised cheese in our Sydney supermarket and I saw loads of raw cheeses in the health food supermarkets in America. A little cheese goes a long way to satisfy your hunger, cravings and energy needs.

13. Spinach Bars: This awesome snack food has the protein of eggs plus the nutrition of spinach, garlic and herbs. Plus, it’s easy to take with you and not messy to eat. Make a big batch of spinach bars to enjoy throughout the week!

14. Nut Butter Spread: Nuts again, but now you’ve got a protein-rich dip or spread which adds variety and fun options for your daily snacks. Our favourite foods to dip or spread our nut butter on are apples, pears, bananas and raw carrots and celery. We pack the fruit or veg whole with our jar of nut butter and a little covered knife, then cut, dip and/or spread on the yummy nut butter at snack time. Or make any variety of ‘ants on a log’. Peanut butter is so old school, and legumes (yes, peanuts are not nuts!) don’t digest well for everyone, so try out some almond butter, cashew butter, mixed nut butter, or make your own at home in a food processor or Vitamix with your activated nuts!

15. Meat Rollup: On the night you make roast beef for dinner, cut a few thin slices of the roast beef and use them to roll up some thin veggies like capsicum (bell pepper) strips, carrot sticks or asparagus. Mustard, pesto or sauerkraut makes delicious meat rollups too, and if you eat dairy, you can throw in some raw cheese. Put the meat rollups in a small container to pack for snacks.

16. Homemade Sushi: More roll-up fun. Buy a pack of sushi nori from the supermarket or health food shop and have fun rolling up leftover meat and veg, avocado, whatever you like for your snacks. Rice or quinoa is totally optional. Here’s an easy lesson from me on how to make your own sushi.

17. Bliss balls or bars: If you’ve bought any of those date and nut bars or balls from the shop, you know they are amazingly delicious snacks. But did you know how easy they are to make at home? And SO much cheaper! Just mix in your food processor: 2 cups dried fruit to 1 cup nuts/seeds, plus your choice of cocoa, cacao, peppermint oil, coconut flakes, whatever you fancy. Roll into balls and keep in fridge or freezer until you’re ready to pop them into your snack bag. Just as yummy as those fake chocolate protein bars, but only real primal ingredients.

What’s your favourite real-food snack?

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!

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.

15 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

15 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

One of the most common reasons given for not eating quality food is the cost. We have become so accustomed to dirt cheap food, we have forgotten the true value of it. Then, as more and more of us demand better food, we are offered healthier options with very high price-tags. The result is that it seems our only two choices are cheap, chemical-laden foods OR expensive, organic foods. However, we must remember that many of our ancestors had very little money, yet ate very high quality food. So, let’s look to our roots and re-learn how to eat well on a budget.

Cheap and healthy food
Chicken wings and in-season spray-free market vegetables make a healthy, delicious AND cheap meal.

Buying Food

1/ Buy whole foods instead of packaged or pre-cut food
Whole fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken and cuts of meat are much more affordable than packaged food, as you are not paying for the packaging and marketing of the product. Resist the urge to buy pre-mixed salad, pre-cut fruit, and perfectly cut mini carrots. Animal foods are also much cheaper bought whole (see #11).

2/ Avoid superfoods and health-industry foods
Some of the most expensive “health food” you can buy are products with health-industry labels such as gluten-free, low-carb, organic, and superfood. Learn here how to decipher the marketing and Eat Healthy by Ignoring Health Food Labels. Also, remember The Only Superfoods You’ll Ever Need are not in that expensive health food shop.

3/ Buy chemical-free/spray free produce that is NOT certified organic
The process of certifying a farm to be organic is very costly for farmers, so they must pass that cost onto the consumer. Fortunately, all you really want is fruit and vegetables that have been grown in an organic manner, and you can find plenty of this at your local farmers market. Which brings us to…

4/ Shop at farmers markets
Local markets have very affordable food because you are rarely paying for a middle man or long-distance transport. These markets are not a guarantee of organically grown/raised food, but there is lots of it there. So get talking, ask about growing methods, and find the local farmer who sells chemical-free food at very affordable prices, like this inspiring elderly city farmer.

5/ Become a member of a co-op
This is another way to get cheap food and be part of a health-conscious community. Google co-op and your city name to find a co-op near you.

6/ Only buy produce that is in season
A lot of work and money goes into delivering produce to consumers out of season. Food is stored for months, transported great distances, and sprayed with ripening and waxing agents. On the contrary, when a fruit or vegetable is in season, it can be harvested in abundance, providing a huge supply at lower costs. Farmers markets and my veggie cheat sheet can help you learn which season to buy what. It’s so nice to look forward to different foods with the changing weather.

7/ Start with the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15
If you shop at a supermarket, where certified organic produce is most expensive, focus on the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. Then you can still greatly reduce your chemical intake, even if you can’t buy all chemical-free food yet. Keep in mind this chart is U.S. based, so may vary in your country.

8/ Grow your own
Imagine never having to buy carrots, tomatoes or parsley again. Just go out to your garden and pick them! More and more information and resources are available for learning to grown your own food, even in small spaces. Weed em and reap!

Plan meals and bring your lunch
Packing leftovers and some rice to take for lunch.

9/ Find a good butcher
Ask around, check our your nearest industrial area, and find a large-scale butcher with pasture-fed, free-roaming meats. As with produce, you don’t need the organic certification if you’ve gotten to know your rancher or butcher, and know where your meat is coming from and how it was raised. If they butcher meat on a large-scale, they will be very knowledgeable, have a wide variety of animals and cuts, and will be very inexpensive.

10/ Buy cheap cuts of meat

People are so used to lean, boneless, fileted, quick-cook cuts of meat, that the rest of the cuts have lower demand and MUCH lower prices. Try lamb neck or forequarter chops, chicken wings and legs, beef brisket or cheeks. The cheap cuts are often the tastiest, and easy to throw into the slow-cooker, oven or grill. Don’t forget the highly nutritious organ meats, and to ask the butcher for meat scraps and bones (often free) for your bone broth and soups.

11/ Buy the whole animal
Just like pre-cut fruit and vegetables, you pay extra to have someone pre-cut your meats for you. Instead, buy the whole chicken and use the carcass for broth. A whole fish is usually insanely cheaper than fillets, and the fishmonger will often fillet it for you for free anyway. Again, save the fish carcass for fish broth/stock! A whole cow, pig or lamb may be slightly big for your fridge/freezer, but if you get a handful of friends together, you can do a meat-share from a wholesale butcher or farmer. At the least, buy the whole beef rump, and ask the butcher to cut into steaks for you.

Preparing Food

12/ Plan your meals
Planning ensures you get your meat out of the freezer to defrost, your dinner in the slow-cooker before you leave for work, your leftovers packed for lunch. And all that will prevent you from buying expensive take-away food and throwing away unused food that you forgot to eat.

13/ Bring your lunch and snacks with you
This is part of planning, but doesn’t have to take much time or fore-thought and saves tons of money spent on restaurant and cafe food. After dinner, simply throw the leftovers into a container for breakfast and/or lunch the next day. Then in the morning, just add to your bag some snacks like: a piece of fruit, a whole carrot, a handful of nuts, half an avocado with a little spoon, a couple cold chicken wings or sausages. Become a pro at Lovin’ Leftovers.

Homemade chicken stock in jars
Made from a chicken carcass and some veggie scraps, homemade broth is virtually free.

14/ Make your own basics from scratch
Not only are homemade broth, yoghurt, dressings, sauces, sauerkraut, and nut butters/flours much healthier, but they are also incredibly cheaper and easy to make. Here are some recipes to get you started.

15/ Eat soaked whole grains if they work for you
Whole grains such as rice, millet and oats are a very cheap food staple that can be moderately enjoyed if grains work well for your metabolic type. Just ensure you always soak grains before cooking.

Lastly, whatever your budget, it may be wise to reassess what you are spending your money on, and reconsider if food deserves a healthy portion of your budget. Remember that nutrient-rich, chemical free food is essential to your life; nice clothes, gadgets, big cars, alcohol, home-furnishings and resort holidays are not. Doing without some material goods doesn’t have to hinder your happiness, but poor health surely will. However much money you have to live on, find a way to eat well.

What are some ways that you save money on food? Do you feel like you can afford the kind of food you want to be eating?

How to use Herbs & Spices + 6 Herb & Spice Blend Recipes

How to Use Herbs & Spices, Plus 6 Herb & Spice Blend Recipes

There’s no denying that eating healthy food is much easier and more enticing when you feel confident cooking it. Before I got more confident in the kitchen, cooking simply meant making food hot, and our healthy meals often consisted of dry bland chicken with dry bland vegetables. No wonder it was more enticing to buy ready-made meals, processed sauces, and packaged foods that were artificially-flavored to be nice and tasty.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a great cook to make healthy dishes taste great.

All you need are nature’s flavours – herbs and spices! Not only do herbs and spices add wonderful aroma and flavour, they also are full of immune-boosting nutrients. It can take a while to get confident with using various flavours in your cooking, so here is a cheat sheet to start you off.

Beef Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Coriander (cilantro), Tarragon, Bay Leaf, Garlic, Ginger, Lemongrass, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Chilli, Peppercorns, Paprika, Cayenne, Mustard
Lamb Thyme, Rosemary, Parsely, Coriander (cilantro), Mint, Curry Leaf, Garlic, Cumin, Star Anise, Cloves, Cinnamon, Chilli, Fennel Seed, Turmeric, Peppercorns, Lemon, Paprika, Cayenne, Oregano
Pork Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Coriander (cilantro), Bay Leaf, Sage, Dill, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Garlic, Ginger, Lemongrass, Cumin, Chilli, Paprika, Fennel Seed, Star Anise, Cloves, Peppercorns, Cayenne, Lime, Orange, Honey, Apple
Chicken Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Coriander (cilantro), Bay Leaf, Basil, Sage, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Oregano, Garlic, Ginger, Lemongrass, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Paprika, Cayenne, Chilli, Turmeric, Lime, Lemon, Orange, Honey
Fish Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Coriander (cilantro), Tarragon, Bay Leaf, Basil, Sage, Dill, Garlic, Ginger, Chilli, Pepper, Paprika, Fennel Seed, Curry, Allspice, Chervil, Mustard, Nutmeg, Lime, Lemon

You will notice that several herbs work well for all the meats, so those herbs and spices are the ones you’ll want to keep on hand all the time. You will also soon discover your own personal tastes, and so you may just want to use your favourite flavours as often as possible.

To know how much to add, it’s best to start with recipes, or use a recipe as a guide, until you become more familiar with appropriate amounts for each type of herb and spice. When no recipe is available, try starting with 1/4 teaspoon for about 4 servings; half that for cayenne.

Tips for cooking with herbs and spices:

– Dried herbs are best added early in the cooking process (especially good for longer cooking times), while fresh herbs have best flavour when added at the end of, or after cooking. Bay leaf and whole spices like cloves are best for dishes with long cooking times.

– For cold food like salad dressings, add spices and herbs several hours before serving (when possible) to allow flavors to blend or “marry” well.

– Dried herbs and spices are stronger than fresh. Use this guide when following a recipe: ¼ teaspoon powder = ¾ teaspoon dried = 2 teaspoons fresh.

– Crush dried and fresh leaf herbs, like oregano, thyme or basil, in your hand before use for a more immediate release of flavor.

– A mortar and pestle is handy for pounding herbs and spices to release the aromas and flavours before rubbing on meat or adding to dishes.

– If doubling a recipe, you may not need to double the herbs. Use just 50% more.

Tips for storing herbs and spices:

– Dried herbs and spices should be kept in a cool, dry, and dark place (like a cupboard not directly near the stove) in airtight containers to retain flavour and nutrients.

– Try to use dried herbs and spices within one year. If you can’t smell the aroma of a herb when you rub it between your fingers, it’s too old.

– Treat fresh herbs like a bouquet of flowers: Snip the stems, stand the herbs in a glass of water, and refrigerate. OR put them in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer, leaving some air in the bag so the herbs can get oxygen.

– Fresh herbs only last about a week at the very most, so to keep them for longer, you can freeze them. Simply wash and pat dry, pick the leaves off the stems and store the leaves in a freezer bag.

Which herbs and spices go well together?

Herb and spice mixtures in the store are often full of salt, additives and MSG, so it’s best to buy your herbs and spices individually and learn which go well together. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, so just be sure to read the ingredients to ensure that all your mixture contains are the actual herbs and spices. Moroccan spice mixes and Italian herb mixes, for example, are easy and delicious and you can learn from reading the ingredients how to make those mixtures yourself. Reading recipes is also a great place to learn combinations. Here are a few mixture recipes you can use often. Just put in a jar and shake well!

Italian Dried Herb Mix: 1 tsp of each: basil, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme

Middle Eastern Mix: 4 tsp black pepper, 3 tsp coriander seeds, 3 tsp cinnamon, 3 tsp cloves, 4 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp cardamom pods, 3 tsp nutmeg, 6 tsp paprika

Moroccan Seasoning: 5 tsp ground nutmeg, 5 tsp ground cumin, 5 tsp ground coriander, 2 1/2 tsp allspice, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Bouquet Garni (classic mix for stews/soups): 1/4 cup dried parsley, 2 Tbsp dried thyme, 2 Tbsp dried bay leaf + Optional: 2 Tbsp dried rosemary. Fresh version: 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme and 1 bay leaf tied together with kitchen string and left in the stew while cooking.

Chicken Seasoning Blend: 1 tsp dried sage, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 Tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper + Optional: 1tsp garlic powder, 1tsp onion powder (if not using fresh garlic and onion in the dish)

Mexican Mixture: 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp pepper + Optional: 1tsp garlic powder, 1tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp chili / red pepper flakes (or you can use fresh garlic, onion and chili in the dish). Great on mince (ground beef).

Do you use lots of herbs and spices in your cooking? What are your favourite flavours or flavour combinations?

Coconut Meatballs Recipe

Coconut Meatballs Recipe

Coconut Meatballs Ingredients

600g Grass-Fed Beef Mince/Ground Beef

1 Free-Range Organic Egg – beaten

1/2 Onion – minced or grated

2 inches Fresh Ginger – grated

1-2 inches Lemongrass, finely chopped

1-2 Tbsp Tamari (or other soy sauce)

4 Tbsp Coconut Oil or Pasture-Fed Butter

Approx 1/2 cup Shredded Coconut

Small browned Coconut Meatballs going into the oven

Though meatballs are traditionally thought of as eaten with spaghetti, the best meatballs usually have enough flavour to be eaten on their own with no pasta or sauce! We find meatballs to be the perfect size for any type of meal. We pair them with roast veggies and salad at home, with raw veggie sticks and cherry tomatoes for a picnic or school lunch, or just carry them with us in a bowl for a mid-afternoon snack. Meatballs are great hot OR cold!

These coconut meatballs were created as we looked for new ways to use a few of our new favourite ingredients: fresh ginger, lemongrass and shredded coconut. The result was so good that these meatballs have become a favourite not only in our home, but with  friends who have tried them at picnics and parties. They are fantastic party fare!

Mince beef / ground beef is inexpensive, versatile and fun to cook with. Just make sure your meat comes from a good source – pasture-fed, humanely treated animals – and the meatballs will be nutritious and delicious.

As with most of my recipes, the amounts given are quite approximate and can be played around with depending on your personal tastes. In this meatball recipe, it’s more important to have the key ingredients than to be exact with measurements. You can also make bigger or smaller meatballs each time, just vary your oven cooking time for different sized meatballs (as noted below). Bigger meatballs are quicker to make and good for main meals at home, while smaller meatballs take a bit more time to roll and brown, but are a great size for your picnics, parties, school lunches and on-the-go snacks.

Notes– You can do Step 1 & 2 in advance and chill meatballs in sealed container in fridge until ready to cook.

Coconut Meatballs Recipe

Step 1: Mix together all ingredients except oil/butter and coconut. I like to use my hands to do this! Put shredded coconut on a plate.

Step 2: Roll mixture into smallish meatballs, then roll each ball in the shredded coconut.

Step 3:  Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Fry meatballs in coconut oil and/or butter until well browned on all sides. Brown in batches so that meatballs are not crowded close together in the pan.

Step 4: Put browned meatballs on a baking tray (can use baking paper or grease the tray) and finish cooking them in the oven for 10-15 minutes. This timing is for small meatballs; the bigger your meatballs, the longer they will need in the oven to cook through.

Mixing up Coconut Meatball IngredientsRolling the Meatballs in Shredded Coconut

Browning the Coconut MeatballsFinishing the Meatballs in the Oven