Thai Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:A Life in Words

1 tblspn coconut oil

1 onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 heaped tblspns red curry paste

4 cups chicken or veggie stock

½ cup red lentils

1 potato, chopped

700 grams pumpkin, chopped

300gm coconut cream

Method:

Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, adding the onion, celery & carrot cooking until softened. Add the curry paste, stirring until fragrant then add the stock, potato, lentils and pumpkin. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut cream then blend thoroughly and serve.

 

Indian Spiced Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup green/brown lentils

Spices: 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 tspn grated ginger, 1 tspn grated turmeric, 1 heaped tspn curry powder

1 tblspn coconut oil or butter

6 asparagus spears, cut into approx 2cm lengths1383015_10152057730506833_351550818_n

½ capsicum, chopped

6 mushrooms, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

3-4 kale leaves, roughly chopped

juice of 1 lemon or lime

handful of rocket, roughly chopped

handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 shallot, sliced

olive oil

Method:

Place lentils in a saucepan with 2-3 cups water, bring to the boil then simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes (or until soft, but not mushy). Drain, rinse & allow to cool.

Meanwhile, sauté garlic, ginger, turmeric & curry powder in coconut oil/butter for 1 minute over a medium heat then add the mushroom, capsicum, zucchini and asparagus. Cook for 3-4 minutes before adding the kale and a splash of the lime/lemon juice, until the kale has wilted

In a large salad bowl, place chopped rocket, spinach and shallots then add the cooled lentils. Add the spiced veggie mix, toss with a generous splash of olive oil and remaining juice and serve, seasoning with salt (Himalayan or Celtic Sea) & pepper if desired.

Notes:

Canned lentils may be used instead of fresh if you wish to save time. The lime juice is stronger and more tart than lemon so I’d recommend trying lemon if you have the choice.

 

Happy Birthday Mum

mummy koalaIt’s painful looking at this picture. It physically hurts. To think this beautiful little girl should have been turnings 69 years of age today, but she never made it. The big C, the very same disease that is taking so many other lives, ended hers just months after her 68th birthday. I’d never imagined, never dreamed that she would’ve left this world that early. She wasn’t a party girl, at all. She lived as cleanly as any other, with whatever health information is available out there to the Average Joe.
So what hurts is knowing that that little body ended up so inflamed that its immune system couldn’t win the fight. Granted, it wouldn’t’ve helped having an autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis). I suppose she was already “on the back foot”, so to speak.
It hurts but it’s also frightening. Just how toxic is this modern world? Mum was born in 1944. Where in the years between then and now did this happen? Cancer has always existed but it seems to me that its prevalence may have been kept in check because our environment (both internal and external) was never as toxic as it has become in the past century.

Mum had been a smoker. She hadn’t touched a cigarette for over ten years before she passed away, but the damage was well and truly done in the twenty-five years prior to that. Well before her death, she knew – we all knew – that “Smoking Kills” but I believe it is by far the most toxic, most inflammatory choice you can make. I recently heard a cardiologist, Dr Ross Walker, state that one cigarette triggers 3 trillion free radicals in your bloodstream. There’s no way I could begin to calculate the total of free radicals mum would have ‘triggered’ in her bloodstream – from smoking alone – during my life, let alone prior.

And she bore me and my sister from that inflamed internal environment? What does that mean for us, our individual immune systems? Billions of humans brought into this world since the middle of the last century have potentially begun “on the back foot” as well, whether their parents smoked or not. Passive smoking aside, environmental toxins have increased dramatically – or so the pro-climate change scientists would purport and the internal environment has never before been so heavily bombarded by the chemicals in our heavily processed food, pharmaceuticals, miscellaneous drugs and alcohol; the contraindications of significantly less movement, more sitting and Stress.

If there’s one thing mum’s death has brought me, it’s an added depth of intensity to my passion for health. If there’s a present I could give to her today, it’s to promise to continue encouraging individuals to change their lives, potentially better their chances for longer lives, through better lifestyle choices.

 

Mediterranean Roast Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:A Life in Words

Roasting Veg (in amounts preferred by you!):

beetroot / pumpkin / zucchini / red onion / tomato / capsicum / eggplant

Olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Baby Spinach or Rocket

Feta, crumbled or diced

Pine Nuts, toasted or not

Method:

Pre heat oven to 200ºC and chop veggies to preferred size. Coat lightly in olive oil* then bake for 30-40 minutes (depending upon how well you like your veg cooked) gently turning or ‘agitating’ them once or twice. In a screw top jar, make the dressing by adding vinegar & oil in a ratio of approximately 1:2.

To serve, toss veggies on a bed of spinach or rocket, add the feta and sprinkle over pine nuts. Add dressing and voila!

Notes:

Yes, this recipe’s directions are a LOT more blasé than others, because I constantly alter it. Even cooking temps and times differ substantially between recipes I have followed in the past: oven temperatures range from 190-220ºC and cooking times from a mere 20 minutes, to 45 minutes! It pays to check your veggies progress (but not so often that you are losing heat from the oven!) Experiment not just with the vegetable choices, but also the cheese & nuts. I’ve used Parmesan before, and chopped walnuts. You could also add minced garlic or honey to the dressing for tasty variations. Anyway you do it, make sure you choose a variety of coloured veggies and add some protein: cheese, nuts, ….imagine some tender lamb! Scrumptious.

* While I don’t like to cook with olive oil as a general rule (the heat destroys the goodness in it by altering its molecular structure) my usual choice – coconut oil – is a little at odds with these flavours. A better choice in this instance would be rice bran oil, since it better withstands heat, like coconut oil. Olive oil is of course AOK (& most suitable!) for the dressing.

GF Spinach & Pumpkin Loaf

Ingredients:A Life in Words

100ml milk (I used rice milk)

100gm baby spinach leaves

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 tspn bicarb soda

1 tspn mustard powder

dash Himalayan salt

2/3 cup grated pumpkin

2 eggs beaten

25ml (liquified) coconut oil

2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Method:

Place the milk and spinach leaves in a saucepan, cover and place over a medium heat. You are aiming to wilt the spinach in the warm (but not boiled) milk, and the time this can take will vary from stovetop to stovetop, so keep checking (and stirring). Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, bicarb & mustard powders in a large bowl before adding the grated pumpkin and beaten eggs. Once the spinach has wilted sufficiently in the milk, add to the mixing bowl along with the coconut oil. Mix well before folding in the parmesan cheese. Pour into a greased lined loaf tin, sprinkling extra cheese over the top if you wish and bake for 20-25 minutes at 190ºC.

Notes:

Originally a muffin recipe, I had the idea of a quiche or frittata recipe in mind as well so this loaf ended up super-moist. I cut mine before it had cooled (I always do that – “instant gratification”) grabbed a knife and enjoyed the melting butter on it! Since it solidifies a little more as it cools, it’s not only less crumbly and easier to handle when slicing but may cope well with toppings such as (mashed) avocado…

GREEN Thai Chicken Curry

Ingredients:A Life in Words

1-2 tblspn coconut oil

400gm diced chicken breast

2 heaped tblspn green Thai curry paste

1 270ml tin coconut cream + 150ml water (or 400ml coconut milk)

1 kaffir lime leaf, shredded

1 tblspn lime juice

1 tblspn fish sauce

1 tblspn sweet chilli sauce

The Veggies: 5-6 cauliflower florets, 5-6 broccoli florets, 1 diced zucchini, 6-8 snow peas, 1 spring onion (bulb roughly chopped, stalks sliced & set aside) and 1 large or 2 small roughly chopped bok choy,

handful of freshly chopped coriander

Method:

Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan then brown the diced chicken. Remove it from the pan (setting aside) and add the curry paste, stirring until fragrant. Add the coconut cream+water or milk and kaffir lime leaf and bring to the boil. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, sweet chilli, cauliflower & spring onion bulb, reducing heat and simmering (covered) for about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli, zucchini and snow peas, cover again and simmer for up to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, add the bok choy, spring onion stalks and coriander, gently stirring through for another couple of minutes.

Serve with your choice of rice.

Notes:

Be careful not to overcook the veggies, especially towards the end. The broccoli, zucchini and snow peas will cook pretty quickly, so keep your eye on them towards the end of the 8 minute simmer. If they begin to lose their vivid ‘green-ness’, add the remaining veg & coriander immediately and remove from the heat within the remaining 2 minute cooking period.

 

 

Warm Lentil, Kale & Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

½ cup quinoa994807_10151781489626833_261074475_n

1 cup vegetable stock

2 tblspns pine nuts

coconut oil

2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

½ capsicum (chopped)

½ bunch kale (or 6-8 large leaves) finely chopped

400gm cooked lentils

2-3 tblspns lemon or lime juice

Method:

Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan, add the quinoa reducing the heat, cover & leave to simmer for 12-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, toss the pine nuts in a dry deep frypan or large saucepan over medium heat until lightly toasted, then set aside. Add some coconut oil to the pan and cook the garlic & capsicum for a couple of minutes before adding the kale. Keep agitating & stirring until the kale is just wilted. Remove from heat. Your quinoa should be done, so add it, the lentils, pine nuts and the juice/s to the kale mix and combine well. Dish up straight from the pot/pan! Garnish? Hmm, if you can be bothered, basil leaves would be nice or…mmmm….crumbled feta/goat’s cheese.

Notes:

I didn’t use anywhere near enough capsicum in my dish (see photo) so I upped the amount in the recipe above, but as usual, play around with it! Also, very slack; I used tinned lentils. I normally try to avoid canned food but then growing up in Far North Queensland, we were trained to stock up on that kind of stuff in the event of catastrophic cyclones so I still have ’emergency guidelines’ at the back of my mind & tend to grab some cans when they’re on sale! Eat fresh whenever you can though – it’s obviously going to be much better for you.

 

Carrot Zucchini & Broccoli Slice

Ingredients:

2 carrots (grated)A Life in Words

1 zucchini (grated)

3 large florets broccoli (roughly chopped)

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

1 cup self-raising flour or Gluten Free SR flour

1 cup grated cheese

¼ cup chopped parsley

4 eggs (lightly beaten)

¼ cup milk (I used rice milk)

¼ cup coconut oil

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. In a very large bowl, mix the carrot, zucchini, broccoli, garlic, flour, cheese & parsley. Add the eggs, milk & oil and combine well, seasoning with salt & pepper if you wish. Pour mixture into a greased & lined slice pan, spreading and smoothing with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Notes:

I’ve made this a few times, and usually play around with the ingredients a little. This time I added a little cayenne pepper alongside of the Himalayan salt when seasoning the mixture. That gave it a hint of a bite. I have in the past changed the ratio of oil and milk by reducing the oil added and making up for it in the milk quantity. It still works but will just be a teensy bit drier. And that’s not an issue because it’s a VERY moist slice, with all the veggie fluid in it. Simply delish!

Sheepishly I must admit to some laziness in this last batch: I used dried parsley instead of my own fresh herb, and worse, I used olive oil instead of coconut because I didn’t want to have to melt it down. (Coconut oil solidifies at about 18ºC) Olive oil should not be heated above 120ºC as the heat energy destroys its health benefits (the phenols).

 

 

 

 

Lamb & Mushroom Casserole

Ingredients:

coconut oil1017080_10151768413696833_1166923509_n

300-400gm diced lamb

2 tblspn cornflour

1 onion (roughly chopped)

1-2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

2 stalks celery (thinly sliced)

1½ cups beef stock

1-2 tblspn tomato paste

1-2 tblspn Worcestershire sauce

2 potatoes (cubed)

1 carrot (sliced)

400gm mushrooms (roughly chopped)

1 bay leaf

1 tblspn rosemary

1-2 tblspn fresh chopped mint

Baby spinach leaves

Method:

Drop one tablespoon of coconut oil in a deep frypan or large saucepan over medium heat, then coat the diced lamb in the cornflour. Lightly brown the meat in the oil, then remove and set aside. Add more oil and cook the onion garlic & celery for about 2 -3 minutes, or until soft. Add the beef stock, tomato paste & Worcestershire, returning the lamb to the pan. Add the potatoes, carrot & mushrooms and bring it to the boil, before reducing the heat to simmer. Add the bay leaf, rosemary & mint, stir and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Prior to serving, either add spinach leaves (your desired amount) to the pan and stir through until wilted, or place the leaves in individual bowls and spoon the casserole over the top of the leaves so they wilt in the ready-to-eat meal. Season as required.

Notes:

As usual, I never use exact measurements, mostly because I like to up the veggie content in all my meals. If you prefer a thicker casserole, you could add a little extra cornflour (& water) just after you have turned it back to simmer after the boil. Or you could cook it down a little more if you don’t mind your potatoes disintegrating!

 

Thai Fish Cakes with Vietnamese Coleslaw

Ingredients:

FISH CAKES: 969070_10151766412331833_1455632639_n

500gm white fish fillets (I used Maori Cod)

½ cup fresh coriander (chopped)

¼ cup cornflour

2 tblspn fish sauce

2 tblspn sweet chilli sauce

1 egg

2 shallots (chopped)

extra cornflour (or, I used rice flour) for coating

coconut oil

COLESLAW:

2 cups shredded cabbage (wombok is ideal)

1 cup grated carrot

¼ cup snow peas (thinly sliced)

½ capsicum (thinly sliced)

2 shallots (thinly sliced)

¼ cup mint leaves

peanuts

DRESSING:

4 tblspn lime juice

4 tblspn fish sauce

4 tblspn sweet chilli

Method:

Place the chopped fish fillets in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the coriander, cornflour, fish sauce, sweet chilli and egg and process until well combined. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the shallots. Prepare a plate with the extra flour, take small handfuls of the mixture, rolling, coating and gently flattening each cake. Cook the fish cakes over medium heat in coconut oil, for approximately 4 minutes each side. Drain on paper.

For the coleslaw, simply toss all ingredients together (except the peanuts) and place the dressing ingredients in a screw top jar, shaking vigorously to combine.

Plate the coleslaw, scattering peanuts over the top, and placing the fish cakes on the salad bed. Drizzle the dressing over the fish cakes and salad. Dig in!

Notes:

I actually made the fish cake ‘batter’ a day earlier (keeping it covered in the fridge) so you can prepare early. I had in fact made over a kilo of it as well, so divided it into portions and popped all (bar one!) in the freezer for future meals.

The Vietnamese salad is SO easy – I’ve been making it for years. I always vary the ingredients and amounts, as long as the cabbage and carrot are prominent. It’s great on its own or with shredded chicken, and even as a filling for rice paper rolls. Admittedly the dressing is a lazy version of real Viet/Thai dressings, but I love it (again, because it’s simple & easy) and it also doubles as my rice paper roll dipping sauce.