Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad

With the cooler weather settling in we are all heading towards comfort food…I can hear you say “but salad is not comfort food???” Well, this one is filled with comfort goodies, and perfect as a side for a cool evening braai. This is also a great vegetarian meal with substance.

This is very versatile, you can add or take out flavours you do not like, just remember to balance the flavours.  I used my Froggit salad dressing, but you could use any light dressing. Or make your own, I would love to know what works for you!

Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad
served 15 – 20

2kg cubed butternut
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
honey
seasoning
olive oil
1 tbsp garlic butter
250g sliced white mushrooms
Seeds from 2 pomegranates
100g crumbed feta
200g baby spinach
1 packet rocket & watercress salad mix (from Woolworths)
100g cherry tomatoes
100g sugar snap peas
3 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds
Froggit Pomegranate dressing

Pomegranate Dressing

Preheat the oven to 200°C

In a large roasting pan, place the butternut, garlic, olive oil, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, seasoning and honey.  Mix until the butternut is well coated and roast for 45 minutes.
Remove and set aside to cool down completely.
Fry the sliced mushrooms in garlic butter, season and set aside to cool

Once the butternut & mushrooms are cooled down completely, mix together, you can now build the salad.

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and mix with the butternut & mushrooms.
Layer the salad now, at the bottom of the bowl put some baby spinach, rocket & watercress, a few pomegranate seeds a few sugar snap peas, the feta, pumpkin seeds, repeat layering.

Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad

 

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Skinny Broccoli & Mozzarella Muffins

Breakfast, to me at least, is such a hassle.  Not for the reasons you are thinking, for me it is not about time or creativity, or how long will it keep me full for…for me it’s about deciding what I want to eat that morning.  Every morning is a challenge.

Do I want to be traditional and have eggs?
Do I want to pretend to myself that I am healthy and have a smoothie / juice?
Do I want to be boring and have toast?
Should I just have cereal, if I do, do I really want milk, should I use yogurt?

…all these questions go through my mind…and often I will just roll over and close my eyes, giving it a skip and have a cup of tea.  But now, I am on a healthy eating operation.  I will eat breakfast, I will exercise, I will make the right food choices and while doing all this…I will not be boring with my food.

Which brought me to today’s recipe

Skinny Broccoli & Mozzarella Muffins
serves 2

2 cups fresh broccoli, steamed and roughly chopped
40g mozzarella
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
2 tsp fresh oregano
1 tbsp water
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
seasoning

Preheat the oven to 200°C
Spray 2 ramekins with Cook n Spray

Whisk eggs and egg whites together, add cheese and seasoning and balsamic vinegar, leave some cheese out to put on top to form a nice cheese crust when baking.

Place steamed broccoli into ramekins, pour in whisked egg mixture and bake for 25 – 30 minutes

I prepped everything and popped it into the oven while I got ready for work, by the time I was dressed I had breakfast ready and waiting.

Use whatever vegetables you feel like, and experiment with the herbs, use flavors that you enjoy and your mind wont go close to the

skinny broccoli and mozzarella muffins

The nutritional value of this recipe was created with Recipe Nutrition Calculator on MyFitnessPal.

Skinny Broccoli & Mozzarella Muffins calories

Healthy, Aromatic Chicken Curry. My Ultimate Comfort Food

The seasons are changing, the mornings are dark when we wake up, the sun sets earlier and we are slowly turning to comfort food.  For me…my ultimate comfort food is curry.  I love aromatic curries with that slight tingle on your tongue which brings a hint of a blush to my cheeks.

One of the earliest dishes I remember cooking is curry, I use to help my dad, get things ready for him, and slowly learnt how to manipulate the spices to achieve certain flavours.

Curries I make per feeling, I do not have a fool proof recipe, I don’t have a secret, there is no magical answer to the best curry…it is a feeling, it is a mood thing, and most importantly it’s your spice combinations.

Now the rule of thumb for a good curry is fresh ginger & garlic and onions.  This is how I would start a good 90% of the curries I make, unless I am doing a Korma, in which you fry your spices first to release the oils in the spices. Along with your ginger and garlic, you need fresh spices.  Keep your spices closed in an air tight container, the older your spices, the less potent they are.

Many people have mentioned that they are scared of spices, they don’t know how to use them right, unfortunately I can’t tell you how to use spices “right”, but I can tell you that you don’t need to be afraid. You can always fix it…that I can tell you how to do…easily.

Healthy, Aromatic Chicken Curry
Serves  4

4 skinless chicken breasts , cut into chunks
(if you are not healthy conscious, use thighs – gives absolutely wonderful flavours – in my opinion you should always use bone in chicken for that something extra in your curry)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large clove of garlic, diced
1 thumb of fresh ginger, diced
2 large potatoes, skin on, cut into chunks
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1.5 tsp ground nutmeg
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin
2.5 tbsp turmeric
2.5 tbsp medium curry powder
1 tbsp whole cardamom pod
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Please note that these spice measurements are as close as I can guess, I cook by feeling and cannot give accurate measurements as the flavours change and I adjust as it goes)

Preheat your oven to 150°C

Mix all the spices together and set aside

In an oven proof dish, layer the onions, garlic and ginger over the bottom of the dish.
Layer the chicken on top, sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken, pour in the can of whole peeled tomatoes.
Fill the can quarter of the way with water and pour that into the dish.

Place in oven and let slowly cook for 3 hours.  Remove from oven and add the potatoes, put back into the oven for another hour, crank up your heat to 200°C and finish off for 30 minutes.

The meat will be soft and juicy, without being shredded, the flavours will have developed nicely over the long slow cooking period.

Healthy, Aromatic Chicken Curry

 

Roasted Butternut, Caramelized Onion, Danish Feta & Mixed Herbs Quiche

Quiche and myself have a love hate relationship.  I love the idea of quiche, but I hate that eggy flavour of quiche.  So I am always sceptical at ordering quiche at restaurants, but am all for making quiche at home.

This was a meatless Monday dinner, so feel free to adapt the ingredients if you insist on using meat.  I would add a little crispy bacon bits to satisfy the carnivore in you, but otherwise just as it is pretty delicious.

Roasted Butternut, Caramelized Onion, Danish Feta & Mixed Herbs Quiche
serves 8 – 10

Enough shortcrust pastry to suit the size of the dish you are using to make your quiche in
1kg butternut roasted (I roasted it the same was I always do when making my butternut soup)
2 large onions, chopped pole to pole
200g Danish feta, roughly crumbled
chopped mixed fresh herbs of choice
200ml milk
100ml cream
3 eggs
seasoning
1 tsp sugar
1 clove of garlic, diced
200g grated cheddar
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C

I made my quiche in a large spring form tin, you don’t need to grease the tin as the pastry won’t stick.

Roll out the pastry and cut to desired size. You want to ensure that you have a pie like crust for the quiche, so ensure your pastry comes up the sides of the tin.  Remember your pastry shrinks when baked so leave a little room for shrinking.
Blind bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

While the butternut is roasting, fry off the onions in a drizzled of olive oil, sprinkle the sugar over the onions and let caramelize, add the garlic and sauté gentle.  Do not burn the garlic as this will make your quiche bitter.
Mix the butternut, onions and feta, with the herbs in a bowl, season to taste.

Mix the milk and cream together and add the eggs.  Ensure that the mixture is well incorporated.

Place your butternut mixture evenly in the pastry base, pour the milk mixture over, tap the tin once or twice to get the mixture to seep through the butternut, sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for 45 minutes.

Turn your oven up to grill for 2 – 3 minutes just long enough for the cheese to form a nice crust over the top.

Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, release spring form clasp.  Let sit for another 5 minutes.

Cut and serve with a beautiful garden salad.
IMG_20130312_115911

Oven Baked Biltong, Citrus & Thyme Chicken Schnitzel

I saw a post on Facebook a few weeks ago which asked…what is healthy eating…there were so many different answers, and all great ones…then I stood back and thought to myself, what is healthy to me…and I remind myself of my motto for healthy eating…choose right

I chose right when I made this healthy alternative to a deep-fried chicken schnitzel.  This is an easy, healthy and quick light dinner for the beautiful summer evenings we have been experiencing…let’s hope it lasts (touch wood)

Oven Baked Biltong, Citrus & Thyme Chicken Schnitzel
Makes 2

2 chicken breasts, about 130g each
135g bread crumbs
3 tbsp biltong powder
zest of one orange
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
seasoning
2 eggs
1/8 cup water
1 cup flour
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Butterfly the chicken breasts.  See end of post for tips

In a bowl mix the bread crumbs, biltong powder, orange zest, thyme and seasoning

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and water together (this is the egg wash)

Place the chicken breast in the flour, then into the egg wash, then into the bread crumb mixture.  Make sure the chicken breast is well coated in the flour and egg to ensure the bread crumbs stick to the chicken breast.

Place on an oiled baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, place in the oven for 15 – 25 minutes, until cooked and has a good gold colour to it.

Serve with sides of choice, I enjoyed this with rosemary and garlic baby potatoes and a Greek salad.

** Store the left over bread crumbs in an air tight container for next time.

How to Butterfly a Chicken Breast
Lay the boneless & skinless chicken breast on the surface of your cutting board.  You can remove the tenderloin or work around it.  With the edge of your knife parallel to the cutting board, begin cutting down the length of the side of the breast. Carefully slice the breast in half, almost to the other edge. Open the chicken breast like a book.  If you have ticker parts of the breast, repeat the process until you have a nice thin chicken breast.

A Healthier take on Chocolate Milk

September 27th celebrates National Chocolate Milk Day, and who does not like chocolate milk.  But we do worry about the calorie intake, but how about a guilt free glass of chocolate milk.

Don’t you sometimes feel like something nice, but because you are so busy watching your calorie intake, or sugar or fat…or or or…well now you can relax.  You can enjoy this without any extra stress to your eating plan. All ingredients are diabetic friendly.

My healthy Decaf Soy Chocolate Milk

Makes 2 drinks

4 tbsp Soy Milk Powder
1 tbsp Decaf instant coffee
2 tbsp Nomu Skinny Hot Chocolate
1 sachet Canderal Yellow (optional)
2 cups ice
2 cups cold water

Place the soy milk powder, instant coffee, hot chocolate and sweetener into a blender.  Pour in the 2 cups water and blend, add ice.  Blend until ice is broken up enough to resemble crushed ice.

Pour into a glass, and enjoy an eating plan approved glass of chocolate milk!  This drink is a mere 120 calories, so allow yourself a little spoil on your diet!  This will be a great cooler when the weather finally warms up!

Again, keep in mind, balance is the key, and just because it’s low in calories, doesn’t mean you can have 3 portions.  All in moderation!

Enjoy!

Healthier Chocolate Lava Cake

It has been a hard month, a month filled with sadness, fears, self assessment, self realization and change, and of course filled with so much gratitude for all the many wonderful people I have in my life who are without a doubt true friends.

I did a quick crash course in diabetic cooking, although I have always been into healthy eating, diabetic eating is very different to just enjoying a healthier lifestyle.  I have since started a further study to work on a few recipes that are diabetic friendly but not boring or just steamed up.  I will in future mark all recipes which are diabetic friendly, or not, as I wish to still indulge in sinful deliciousness! I will slowly supply more and more information about diabetics.

This recipe is a play on the Chocolate Lava Cake, otherwise known as chocolate fondant.  After seeking a little advice from my fellow blogger and friend over at Lavendar & Lime, Tandy steered me in the direction of Canderel Yellow.  It’s a great substitute for sugar when baking and cooking, made with sucralose.

Wikipedia has the following to say about sucralose

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener. The majority of ingested sucralose is not broken down by the body and therefore it is non-caloric.
Sucralose is approximately 600 times as sweet as sucrose (table sugar),
 twice as sweet as saccharin, and 3 times as sweet as aspartame. It is stable under heat and over a broad range of pH conditions. Therefore, it can be used in baking or in products that require a longer shelf life. The commercial success of sucralose-based products stems from its favorable comparison to other low-calorie sweeteners in terms of taste, stability, and safety
Sucralose is a highly heat-stable artificial sweetener, allowing it to be used in many recipes with little or no sugar. Sucralose is available in a granulated form that allows for same-volume substitution with sugar. This mix of granulated sucralose includes fillers, all of which rapidly dissolve in liquids. While the granulated sucralose provides apparent volume-for-volume sweetness, the texture in baked products may be noticeably different. Sucralose is not hygroscopic, meaning it does not attract moisture, which can lead to baked goods that are noticeably drier and manifesting a less dense texture than those made with sucrose

Now onto the recipe for a healthier Chocolate Lava Cake
serves 6 – 8

200g Nomu Skinny Hot Chocolate
6 eggs, separated
200g cake flour (stone ground)
2 tsp baking powder
40g butter (please use proper butter, margarine just doesn’t work – this will be your fat portion for the day)
1 cup Canderel Yellow

Preheat the oven to 180°C
Generously spray your ramekins with spray and cook

Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly
Cream Canderel and egg yolks until light in colour.
Whip the egg whites until stiff
Sift the flour, baking powder and hot chocolate.
Mix the dry ingredients and egg & sugar mixture, fold in the egg whites.  If you find the mixture a little stiff, add tablespoons of water until it is well combined. Do not add to much water!

Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven let stand for 4 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Dust with a little Canderel Yellow and serve.