Sunday, June 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 29th June

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I'm determined to get a menu plan done for this week - it gets really crazy around here at mealtimes otherwise! And my fridge fills up with wilting vegetables because I haven't planned my meals around what's in my vege box, or what's already in the fridge and freezer...

I've had lots of 'greens' to use up lately, as well as carrots, so the other day I made a really yummy Chicken Laksa in the Thermomix with steamed chicken, carrots, shallots and Asian greens on basmati rice, surrounded by a spicy coconut curry sauce. It was so yummy, and only took 20 minutes to cook in the Thermomix - all at once! What a machine! I'll post the recipe very soon. Meanwhile, because I love Thai curries with coconut milk so much, (and still have lots of Asian greens, which go so well with them), I'm going to make a baked Thai chicken recipe from Cyndi O'Meara's cookbook on Monday. The original recipe calls for diced thigh fillets, but I'm going to use whole chicken thighs instead. Yum, can't wait!

(When my husband works night shift we have our main meal at lunchtime, so don't be surprised by what we have for lunch some days!)

"TM" stands for recipes made in the "Thermomix".

For more menu planning ideas, check out Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com.


Monday: (lunch) Baked Thai Chicken (from "Changing Habits, Changing Lives Cookbook"); (dinner) baked potatoes and salad (TM).

Tuesday: (lunch) Fish strips (coated in cornmeal, spelt flour & sesame seeds - photo below) with salad; (dinner) Pasta e Fagioli (quick & easy! - TM).

Wednesday: (lunch) Vegetable rissoles (Cyndi's cookbook - prepared in TM) and raw vege sticks; (dinner) Steak with beetroot salad (TM) & baked veges.

Thursday: (lunch) Dairy-free pizzas with this crust (prepared in TM); (dinner) Dairy-free tuna mornay (using this white sauce - prepared in TM) & salad.

Friday: (lunch) Pumpkin soup (TM) & spelt rolls (TM); (dinner) Never-the-same-curry (using tuna - TM).

Saturday: (lunch) Steamed chinese buns (filled with meat - TM); (dinner) Crockpot chicken hotpot.

Sunday: (lunch) Roast lamb & veges; (dinner) leftovers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Changing Habits, Changing Lives

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The other day I went to a health seminar to hear Cyndi O'Meara speak on nutrition (and help out with the food, which was prepared in Thermomix machines)... Cyndi is a nutritionist, and author of "Changing Habits, Changing Lives," (as well as the cookbook of the same name). She is passionate about raising awareness of what's in the foods we eat, what the food industry is not telling us, why 'low-fat' is not all it's cracked up to be, and the vital importance of returning to basic, wholesome foods. If you haven't read her book, I highly recommend it! And I think I'm going to have to add her cookbook to my 'favourite cookbooks' list!


I love Cyndi's emphasis on eating foods as God created them, and avoiding the foods that man has altered beyond recognition. Eat real butter, not margarine. Eat real sugar (such as Rapadura), and not fake chemical sweeteners. Eat real sea salt, not refined salt. Eat wholegrain flours (freshly ground if possible), not refined flour. Eat cold-pressed oils, not hydrogenated fats. It's simple, and it makes sense. (And it tastes better too!)


I also love her emphasis on the preciousness of time with family and friends. I've always been a firm believer in eating meals as a family - meal times should be a special time together, even if you're only eating leftovers or sandwiches. Our attitudes and emotions affect our health as much as our food does, so when you sit down to eat, relax and enjoy the time with your family and friends! As the Bible says so wisely, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox with hatred." (Proverbs 15:17).


Here's a couple of quotes from Cyndi's recipe book (which is not just a recipe book, but also a lifestyle and information book):


"A family meal nourishes the body and soul, unites a family and defines love."


"We lead such hectic lives, caught up in gaining material wealth while sacrificing precious time with family and friends. A meal together can begin to heal family rifts and relationships. A healthy meal not only heals the body but the soul also benefits greatly."


"Responsibility for our health is in our own hands. Too often we do all the wrong things, like not eating properly, not exercising, not taking time off work, smoking a little and perhaps having a little too much to drink, and then when we gt sick we go to the doctor and expect them to fix us immediately. The doctor's answer is usually some medication that doesn't actually fix the problem but masks the symptoms instead. It's a bit like covering up the oil warning light on the dashboard of your car and thinking that will fix the lack of oil. But it doesn't, and eventually you break down when the medication no longer works."


If any of you would like to meet Cyndi O'Meara and hear her speak on health issues, as well as see us demonstrate her recipes in a Thermomix cooking class (and enjoy eating what we cook!), she will be here on the Tablelands for our next Thermomix cooking class in August. I will be posting the time and place soon.


[Photo at top of page: Cyndi and me (with a very goofy look on my face!); Photo above: Natalie Cook (Olympic beach volleyball gold medallist) and me at the seminar - yep, that's a real Olympic gold medal!!!]

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gemüse Eintopf (one-pot vegetable meal)

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This is a simple Algerian dish which is perfect for using up lots of pumpkin. It can be served chunky, or pureed. (I like it chunky.) Serve with a green salad and some crusty bread for a meatless meal, or as a side dish with meat. Tasty and easy!

1. Place into Thermomix bowl and chop 10 sec/speed 4 (or chop in food processor or by hand):
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 2 Tbspn fresh parsley
- 100g leek, cut into 3cm pieces
- 100g carrot, cut into 3cm pieces

3. Add remaining ingredients and cook 20 mins/100C/reverse/speed soft (or cook in saucepan on stovetop, stirring, until tender):
- 800g pumpkin, cut into 3cm pieces
- 1 Tbspn chicken stock paste (or vege stock paste if vegetarian, or just salt to taste)
- 30g butter (or duck fat, or olive oil if vegan)
- 50-100g chicken broth (or water)

4. Serve as is, or puree and serve as side dish.


Menu Plan Monday - 8th June

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Hi everyone! This week I'm trying to work on a few more budget meals (no meat, or low meat) and some raw (or almost raw) food. I also am trying to keep up with the veges in my vege box, and I have a lot of greens and pumpkin to use up. I'll post the recipes as I can.

For more recipes and menu planning ideas, go to Menu Plan Monday on orgjunkie.com.

Monday: (lunch) Lima Bean Bake & wholegrain spelt popovers; (dinner) Grilled salmon, salad & Gemuse Eintopf.

Tuesday: (lunch) Spelt wraps with Mexican Chereezo Stuffer; (dinner) Vege Quich-agna (a creation of my friend Vera's - cross between quiche and lasagna).

Wednesday: (lunch) Creamy Garden Green Soup & leftovers; (dinner) Beef-lentil bolognaise sauce on spelt pasta with salad.

Thursday: (lunch) Leftovers, bread rolls, salad; (dinner) Mulligatawny Stew with Fragrant Quinoa.

Friday: (lunch) Warm Potato Salad; (dinner) Curry Vegetable Fritters with Avocado Salsa.

Saturday: (lunch) Leftovers and bread rolls; (dinner) Grilled fish with almonds with salad.

Sunday: (lunch) Pot Roast with baked veges; (dinner) Salad and leftovers.

Dairy-Free Raw 'Cream Cheese'

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I love this tasty substitute for cream cheese - use it whenever you want a dairy-free, savoury, cream cheese. For example, try it on pizzas instead of cheese (pre-bake pizza without toppings, then spread with cream cheese and top with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capsicum, salad, etc). Use as a dip (or as a substitute for dairy cream cheese in dips) with raw veges, crackers or corn chips. You can also use it as a tasty substitute for sour cream by adding a little more water.

For best results, cover the nuts and seeds with water and soak at room temperature for a few hours. If you don't have time to soak them, you can start with dry nuts & seeds, grind them in the Thermomix, then add the remaining ingredients and blend. You'll need to use the larger amount of water for this method. Experiment with the amounts of water until you get the consistency you like. If you don't want the flavour quite so strong, add a bit less lemon juice.


I use my Thermomix for this recipe, but you could use a regular blender or food processor, although it will take longer to blend to a smooth paste, and you'll need to scrape it down a few times.



'Cream Cheese' used as a pizza topping with salad

  
- 180g (1 1/4 cups) blanched almonds
- 180g (1 1/4 cups) sunflower seeds
- 160g (3/4 cup) lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic
- some freshly ground black pepper
- 1 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 100-300g water

Soaked version:

- Soak nuts and seeds in water overnight, or for a few hours. Drain off water and discard.
- Place all ingredients in Thermomix bowl using 100g water, slowly turn dial to speed 8. Push mixture down into the blades with the spatula while mixing. Add a little more water if needed until you get the texture you like. Blend until you get a super smooth texture - takes 1-2 minutes.

Unsoaked version:

- Grind dry nuts and seeds on speed 9 for 10 seconds.
- Add remaining ingredients, using 200-300g water, depending how thick you like it, and mix on speed 8 until well mixed and super smooth. Use the spatula to help mixture along as it mixes.


Variation:
For a high protein, super-food 'green cheese', you can also add 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tsp spirulina powder and 2 TBS flax seed oil.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rice-Almond Milk

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One of the greatest expenses for those of us who are 'dairy-free' has got to be milk substitutes, such as rice, almond or soy milks. Our family used to go through 2 litres of bought rice milk most days, which cost us at least $2.50 per day. The other day I met a lady who has many allergies, and she buys organic almond milk which costs her $10/litre!!! EEK! So I am very thankful for my wonderful Thermomix, which helps me save money, as well as helps keep us healthy. Here is my recipe for rice-almond milk made in the Thermomix - it's very quick, and tastes good. And it's very cheap! The almonds help the flavour, and add calcium. I buy insecticide-free almonds bulk, for about $11/kilo, and bulk organic brown rice, and you only need a little of each to make a litre of milk. 

If you don't own a Thermomix, try and make friends with someone who does, so you can use theirs! (Ha Ha!) Sorry, but I can't think of any other way to easily make this recipe! If you cook the rice, then blend it, it gets too thick and 'ricey' tasting - I used to try that before I had a Thermomix. Doing it this way, you don't get that thick 'rice-water' consistency.  If you have time (and are thinking ahead), try the pre-soaked method below the recipe, for easier digestibility.


[Note: I was adding 20g lecithin granules to the rice and almonds before grinding, and it does make the milk very creamy, but I've done some research on soy lecithin lately and decided it was safer to leave it out. See this article for more information on lecithin.]


This recipe makes 1 litre of milk - to make 2 litres at a time, just double everything except the water and follow as per recipe; then after whizzing it up, strain into a large jug and add another litre of water and stir.


1. Place in dry TM bowl and grind for 1 min on speed 9:
- 50g brown rice


2. Add & grind on speed 9 for another 30 seconds:
- 40g raw almonds (or raw cashews for a smoother, creamier milk)


3. Add, and cook at 60 degrees, 6 mins, speed 4:
- 1 litre water (or a little more)
- 1 T coconut oil (or other oil - for creaminess)
- 30g rice malt syrup, optional (or honey, or pure maple syrup, or other sweetener, to taste)
- pinch of salt


4. Puree on speed 8 for 40 secs, then strain into jug. (If you want it completely strained, use cheesecloth.) Cool, and enjoy!

Pre-soaked method: Soak rice and nuts in the water overnight, or for up to 24 hrs, then blend with other ingredients on speed 9 for 2 minutes.  Cook as per recipe.

If you want your milk thicker, add more rice, or less if you like it thinner.

You can use the 'sludge' that's leftover in any cakes/muffins/cookies etc, especially the 'blender-batter' ones, or in custard or soup - I pretty much just put it into whatever I'm making next! (Something's always going into the TM, so it generally gets used straight away.) It doesn't leave a lot of 'sludge', just a handful, and less if you use cashews or if you soak overnight.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 1st June

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Hello everyone! Winter is here (in the south anyway) and we're enjoying the cool weather... especially me, because I love soups and stews and casseroles - comfort food! But I'm trying to be good and still eat salad too :) ... I'm getting my lovely organic vege boxes each week from our local community garden scheme, so I will be planning my menu around what's in the box, plus what's in the freezer this week.

I've been doing lots of experimenting lately with allergy alternatives, which has been fun. I've made a tasty 'cream cheese' out of pine nuts & sunflower seeds, an eggless mayonnaise out of blanched almonds, and a yummy rice/almond milk - all in the Thermomix of course! I'll be posting these recipes and more soon hopefully!

For more menu planning ideas, see Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com. Have a great week!



Monday: (lunch) Salmon patties (made like these but with tinned salmon) with raw vege sticks; (dinner) Chicken & vege stirfry with mung bean noodles.



Tuesday: (lunch) Creamy cashew chicken (crockpot - this sauce on chicken) on rice with raw vege sticks for the family, while I do a Thermomix demo; (dinner) leftovers & salad.



Wednesday: (lunch) Pumpkin Rice Laksa Soup (recipe coming); (dinner) Tuna a la King (recipe coming) on rice pasta with salad.



Thursday: (lunch) Quiches (vege & salmon, dairy free somehow!) with salad; (dinner) Lamb chops & baked potatoes & salad.



Friday: (lunch) Minestrone & spelt bread rolls; (dinner) Pan-fried fish in cornmeal coating with salad.

Saturday: (lunch) Baked lima beans & bread; (dinner) Roast chickens (2) with homemade BBQ sauce (naturally sweetened - recipe coming) & veges.

Sunday: (lunch) Leftover chicken with salad; (dinner) whatever!
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