An update on my food, my adventures and my life.

So my latest couple of blog posts have been about the berry saga and providing nutrition through a tube.

But they didn’t give me a chance to talk about myself and what I’ve been up to. So read on if you’re interested.

I recently cut my hair…

(Don’t mind me, just slowly approaching my quarter life crisis)

I’ve gone back to school…

After 13 years of school and then 5.5 years of full time university study I am somehow wanting to fill my brain with more knowledge and assignment deadlines.

I am completing a single online unit with the University of Tasmania where I will be looking at the effectiveness of technology (such as the Lorna Jane running app or my handy-dandy FitBit) on healthy behaviour change.

I feel like it is a topic that needs to be researched. I always wear my FitBit and connect up to my health monitoring apps on a regular basis. But does it actually result in a healthy behaviour? Do we actually achieve our goals with it or is it just a fun way to measure how little we actually get moving throughout the day? … or how much we get moving on a good day!

I guess I’ll be finding out over the course of the semester.

My latest creations in the kitchen are…

Summer means making icypoles! Recently I tried a layered lemon juice and coconut water one. Very refreshing!

Summer means making icypoles! Recently I tried a layered lemon juice and coconut water one. Very refreshing!

I finally got around to baking a ginger slice, just like the ones I saw in cafe's and bakeries around New Zealand last month.

I finally got around to baking a ginger slice, just like the ones I saw in cafes and bakeries around New Zealand last month.

My tofu & brown rice bowl has been made a few times recently. Check out my recipe here.

My tofu & brown rice bowl has been made a few times recently. See the recipe here.

Brunching and indulging on the peninsula…

Brunch at Dees Kitchen in Dromana: Broccoli and feta fritters with toasted pepitas, natural labne and a poached egg.

Brunch at Dee’s Kitchen in Dromana: Broccoli and feta fritters with toasted pepitas, natural labne and a poached egg.

Afternoon tea at A Mini Kitchen in Rye: This slice of cake and this amazing cafe across from the beach is just too cute to handle. WARNING: Cake description may make your mouth water. Banana and walnut layer cake with peanut butter buttercream, ganache and salted caramel popcorn.

Afternoon tea at A Mini Kitchen in Rye: This cafe across from the beach is just too cute to handle. WARNING: Cake description may make your mouth water. Banana and walnut layer cake with peanut butter buttercream, chocolate ganache and salted caramel popcorn.

And food product of the week goes to….

CHOBANI.

Chobani have a new product range out. Perfect when you need to have breakfast or a snack on the go.

Chobani have a new product range out.

The new Chobani Oats come in  4 different flavours including Banana Maple, Apple Cinnamon, Coconut and Cranberry.

Chobani Oats are:

  • Perfect when you need to have breakfast or a snack on the go
  • Great tasting
  • High in protein (more than 10g per serve)
  • A source of fibre (more than 2g per serve)
  • Made with real, wholesome, steel-cut oats.

Hope everyone is enjoying their last few days of Summer!

– Jenna

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RECIPE: Chicken pesto pasta

As promised on Thursday when I discussed my warm weather menu, here is the recipe for my chicken pesto pasta.

I have made a very simple basil pesto recipe – figured out that I am not a fan of including parmesan in the pesto and prefer to keep the recipe as basic as it gets. The pesto goes great with many foods, but lately I have been loving it with pasta and a serve of protein and veggies for a filling main meal.

– CHICKEN PESTO PASTA –

Serves: 3

Ingredients

For basil pesto

  • 1.5 – 2 cups (1 large bunch) fresh basil leaves
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

For chicken pesto pasta dish

  • 2 cups raw penne pasta (I used Vetta High Fibre range)
  • 5 chicken breasts, sliced into pieces
  • Canola/olive oil spray
  • 1 1/3 cups frozen peas
  • 60g smooth reduced fat feta cheese

Method

  1. To make basil pesto, place all pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
  2. Place pasta in pot with water and cook until al dente.
  3. While waiting for pasta to cook, spray a pan with canola/olive oil. Grill chicken breast pieces until cooked through. Remove from heat once cooked.
  4. Place frozen peas in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes.
  5. Once pasta is cooked, strain water from pot and then place pasta back into the pot (turn heat off).
  6. Mix basil pesto into the pasta.

7.   Then mix in chicken pieces and peas.
8.   Split mixture into three separate bowls.
9.   Crumble feta on top to serve.
10. Enjoy!

As you can see, my secret ingredient is crumbled smooth feta on top to serve. Hardly a secret anyway as you can clearly see it sprinkled on top! Perfect addition to the meal in my opinion.

This main meal contains high fibre grains, lean protein and a healthy serve of fat (EVOO from the pesto). Not to mention that it’s loaded up with fresh green herbs and includes an old family favourite – peas! … Well it was a favourite of mine.

Make extra and enjoy as leftovers the following day (hot or cold).

– Jenna

My warm weather menu

The days are now longer, the weather warmer and there is a clear shift in the style of foods I am preparing these days.

Check out some new foods on my warm weather menu…

OATS

While the weather warms up, the season of hot porridge has sadly ended. Cafe’s around Melbourne are already taking porridge off their menu and replacing it with bircher and other Summer-friendly alternatives.

On the odd morning that I still feel like hot oats, porridge is on my personal breakfast menu. But mostly, I am making the switch to overnight oats – a refrigerated alternative.

 

PASTA 

Now I’m not sure if I am being ridiculously stubborn and just going out of my way to prove a point, but at the moment I am loving my pasta!

What point am I proving? Carbs and grains are good people! 

Read Felicity Curtain’s wrap up of the benefits of grains here.

So how have I been enjoying my pasta? This past month I have perfected my homemade basil pesto recipe and have been enjoying a chicken pesto pasta dish with a secret ingredient.

Chicken pesto pasta recipe will be on my blog in the recipes section soon.

MANGOES

Hooray, finally it is mango season! Unfortunately mangoes are still a little pricey at supermarkets and grocers, although some select farmer’s markets are selling boxes of mangoes for just $10! Mangoes will continue to get cheaper as they are coming into season, so enjoy the tropical taste in a range of ways.

I am loving my mango in the following ways:

  • Fresh mango slices with natural yoghurt
  • This simple chicken and mango salad recipe
  • Sliced mango on pancakes with shaved coconut and a drizzle of syrup
  • Homemade mango lassi (I am still perfecting my own recipe so watch this space!)
  • This lovely mango dressing that you can add to any salad or on top of grilled chicken breasts (I usually don’t include the balsamic vinegar though)

QUICK DINNERS ON THE BALCONY

I think Summer is all about making the most of the sunny evenings. So whether I am catching up with friends for an active walk before the sun goes down, or a late night ice cream catch up, I am more frequently in need of a quick go-to dinner before heading out the door. My favourite is poached eggs with sauteed spinach leaves on toast. Breakfast for dinner is the best kind of dinner in my opinion.


– SUPER SIMPLE OVERNIGHT OATS RECIPE –

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup wholegrain rolled oats
  • 1 cup low-fat natural yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit to top (e.g. sliced apple, strawberries or mango)

Method

  1. Mix into a bowl or jar the oats and half of the yoghurt. Store air-tight in fridge overnight.
  2. In morning when it’s time to eat, mix in the remainder of the yoghurt.
  3. Top with fresh fruit or sweet toppings.
  4. Enjoy!

Toppings can include:

  • Fresh strawberries and shaved coconut
  • Sliced apple and cinnamon
  • Sultanas and honey
  • Sliced banana and coconut sugar

What are your favourite food options now that the weather is warming up?

– Jenna

4 ways with Unsweetened Almond & Coconut Milk

While I am usually quite excited when shopping at the supermarket (sole reason being I am surrounded by food!), my excitement peaked the other day when I came across So Good’s Unsweetened Almond & Coconut milk.

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I had such a fun few days enjoying this great tasting milk alternative in so many different ways. But before we get to the fun ways I used this product, let’s take a look at it’s nutrition content…

COMPARED TO SKIM COW’S MILK

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The unsweetened almond & coconut milk is clearly lower in energy, about half of the calories than in a glass of skim cow’s milk.

There is also a very big difference in each products macro-nutrient composition:

  • Cow’s milk higher in protein.
  • Unsweetened almond & coconut milk higher in total fat, fairly similar saturated fat contents though.
  • Cow’s milk higher in carbohydrate and sugars (due to the sugar found in cow’s milk called lactose).
  • Cow’s milk has nearly double the amount of calcium than the unsweetened almond & coconut milk. For myself I know I need 840mg of calcium per day – so I can always trust that a glass of cow’s milk can provide me with over a third of my daily calcium needs. Drinking a glass of this almond & coconut milk, however, will only provide me with about a fifth of my daily calcium requirements.

Overall for me when I am buying milk, I tend to look for high protein and high calcium content, which is much more superior in my good old skim cow’s milk. But I am all about moderation and I love to enjoy a variety of food products in my diet. So while I plan to mainly stick to my skim cow’s milk, from time to time you’ll see me enjoying a tasty and different milk alternative to experiment with in the kitchen.

EXPERIMENT IN THE KITCHEN?

Well I’m glad you’re curious… See my simple and super yummy creations using the unsweetened almond & coconut milk.

1. Chia Pudding

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Check out the recipe here.

2. Baked coconut and banana oats

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Rolled oats, milk, mashed banana, and a pinch of baking powder. Topped with coconut and granola.

3. Almond & coconut milk with cereal

Hints of almond and coconut with my current favourite cereal Kellogg’s Special K Nourish.

4. Berry Smoothie Bowl

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Frozen berries, yoghurt, honey and unsweetened almond & coconut milk blended together. Topped with chia seeds, shredded coconut and caramelised buckinis.


 

For more information on alternative products to your typical cow’s milk, have a look at my two-part guest article over at the Eat Sleep Dream Love Food blog where I researched different milk products on the market:

– Jenna

RECIPE: Chia Pudding

Fancy making your own chia pudding? Try this recipe out…

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons shredded coconut
  • 1 cup So Good unsweetened coconut & almond milk
  • Chopped fresh fruit to serve

Method:

  • Put chia seeds, brown sugar and shredded coconut in a jar or container.
  • Add milk and mix all ingredients together then put lid on jar/container.
  • Place in fridge overnight or for at least 3-4 hours.
  • After 3-4 hours, or when ready to eat, mix pudding once more.
  • Top with fresh chopped fruit and enjoy!

Prefer to leave the pudding making to the experts? Give chia pods a try.

– Jenna

RECIPE: Baked choc banana oats

What a busy week it’s been catching up on all of the work and tasks I was unable to do last week.

It’s also been a busy week food-wise as I have finally been able to eat all of the yummy, nourishing, and in a few cases naughty, foods that I was eyeing while unwell.

This morning I did some meal plan formulation work. My brain was filled with calculations of kilojoules (and calories), macro-nutrient percentage breakdowns and comparing Nutrient Reference Values to my formulated daily meal plans. It ended up being a stressful morning with too many figures running through my mind!

So when my tummy was growling at me because when I woke I got stuck straight into my work and forgot to have breakfast (how crazy of me), I knew it was time to make something good.

And good it was!

Warm and fluffy oats with hints of chocolate and banana… and a crunchy nutty topping.

Baked Choc Banana Oats

baked banana choc oats

Serves: 1 (just double the ingredients to make 2, etc)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (if you are short of time, use quick oats!)
  • 1 ripe mashed banana
  • 1 cup rice milk (any milk or milk alternative is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Topping:
    • 1 tablespoon crushed walnuts
    • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar

Method

  1. Place oven on 200C.
  2. Spray small oven-proof dish with canola or olive oil.
  3. Place mashed banana, oats, cacao powder, baking powder, milk into dish and mix together.
  4. Top with walnuts and a sprinkle of coconut sugar – OR top with anything you like! My next conquest is sunflower seeds and maple syrup!
  5. Place in oven. Allow to bake for 20-30 minutes (15 minutes if using quick oats).
  6. Once oats have risen and browned on top, enjoy warm!

Happy Friday everyone!

– Jenna

Saying ‘catch ya later’ to Winter with hot stuffed apples

At the beginning of the season, I welcomed Winter with some hot nutella-filled muffins. It seems I am sending Winter off with another baking session…

Last night was a yummy one, with good company too.

While it’s always great to catch up with friends, it’s even greater when it’s over good food. And it’s the absolute best when I get to cook it.

Dinner was my Honey soy tofu, pumpkin & greens rice recipe, sans the honey soy tofu as I completely forgot to buy some! So I just added a drizzle of salt-reduced soy sauce and a squeeze of honey and we made do without the tofu.

I also made ricotta and spinach pastizzis. They turned out really well. If you closed your eyes when eating them, you could say they turned out perfectly!

Dessert was baked apples stuffed with sultanas, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and brown sugar – just like my mother used to make for me on a cold winter night when I was younger. She would be proud I’m keeping up tradition.

baked stuffed appless

While I am longing for Spring, sunshine and warm days, I will miss the cold winter evenings… to an extent. Staying warm and comfy under a fluffy blanket and any excuse to keep the oven on longer to bake a few too many warming desserts is what Winter is all about in my opinion.

Although baking in the warm weather has never stopped me before…


[RECIPE] BAKED STUFFED APPLES

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons sultanas

Method

  1. Core the apples using a corer (or very carefully use a sharp knife to remover the core all the way through to the bottle of the apple).
  2. Place apples onto a greased oven tray (I tend to lightly spray the tray with oil, or just place onto baking paper).
  3. In a bowl, mix sultanas, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
  4. Stuff half of the mixture into the centre of the apple. Press down to ensure you fit as much stuffing as possible!
  5. Repeat with other apple.
  6. Place apples in the oven at approx. 180 degrees C. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the stuffing on top is browned.

Note: If you have extra time on your hands, I suggest baking the apples at 160 degrees C for 30-40 minutes – the inside will turn out softer. I am usually inpatient though.

Enjoy!

Sweet and spicy stuffing

Sweet and spicy stuffing

The end product

The end product

– Jenna

Brunch dates and falafel wraps

This week has been all about transitioning from holiday mode to work mode.

I’ll admit it could have been worse as I am just a little bit excited to start my dietetics career.

But oh how I will miss those days of sleeping in, long slow hikes and not a worry in the world.

The start of this week saw the long series of flights back home to Melbourne and now at the end of the week I am about to head off to work!

But what happened throughout the middle of the week you ask?

If you know me at all then I’m sure you can guess.

I got my fix of Top Paddock brunch when I shared the always amazing hotcake and the fluffy colourful porridge with my mum. It was a much-needed catch up, 5 weeks overdue.

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Following a yoga class mid-week, it was time for more socialising. This time at The Common Cafe in Burnley.

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This week my afternoons were spent organising my work life, paying bills, drinking lamington tea from T2 and buying a much needed winter skirt!

One afternoon I received a lovely delivery from Chobani – they have 3 new flavours that recently hit Aussie supermarkets (coconut, mandarin and banana). After trialing them all I have to say that coconut is a clear favourite of mine! Thanks to Chobani for the very generous gift and delivery.

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Thursday brunch was crispy poached eggs with a side of spinach at Lux Foundry in Brunswick. Very cool cafe, delicious chai latte (perfect combo of sweet and spicy) and those crispy poached eggs… Wow. Definitely recommend a visit if you haven’t already done so!

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Throughout the week I quickly visited St Ali North in Carlton for an English Breakfast tea to go. While I am usually not one to buy a takeaway tea (much cheaper to make my own), when there’s no Twinings English Breakfast in sight, it is a necessary purchase. This visit to St Ali was a very rare visit as it didn’t include a meal. However, I did see the corn fritters being served up to a customer – one of my favourite dishes.

The corn fritters really just remind me of falafels (which I love!) with whole pieces of corn throughout them. Upon replication back at home, using a basic falafel recipe and whole corn kernels, I was satisfied!

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Their crunchy outside and sweet yummy inside (thanks to the sweetcorn!) were amazing.

Down the track I plan to cook these again and include them in my favourite falafel wrap recipe. A super quick recipe where I usually use already prepared, pre-purchased, frozen falafels. Well not anymore.


FALAFEL WRAPS WITH A LEMON TAHINI TOPPING

Serves: 1 wrap (just double the ingredients to make 2, etc)

Ingredients
  • 3 falafel, shallow fried
  • 1 wrap (I like Mission Wraps, either Wholegrain Wraps or Garlic & Herb Naan Bread)
  • Handful lettuce/spinach
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly

Lemon tahini topping:

  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water

Method

  1. Fill a wrap with salad ingredients (feel free to use others in addition to lettuce, spinach and cucumber).
  2. Top with hot falafels.
  3. Pour lemon tahini dressing on top.
  4. Wrap up and enjoy!

Want to try make falafels from scratch?

  • My favourite homemade falafel recipe can be found here. Instead of dry chickpeas, I tend to just use strained canned chickpeas as it is easier.
  • If you are keen to try cooking the replicated corn fritters from St Ali North, make the above falafel recipe and then just before frying, mix in a can of strained sweetcorn (do not blend corn in the food processor).

FUN FACT:
If you say falafel three times super fast out loud, it sounds like you are saying “fluffle”.

– Jenna

MEAT FREE WEEK – haloumi & quinoa salad

Do you rely on a big piece of steak or chicken to fill you up at dinner each night? Do you insist on some sliced ham or turkey in your sandwich at lunchtime? How about that bacon with your weekend brunch?

From March 24th to 30th it’s MEAT FREE WEEK!

Meatfreeweek.org want us to be mindful of the amount of meat we eat and to think about the impact eating meat has on your health, the environment and the animals. Also have a think about exactly where the meat you eat comes from.

For this week, why not try eating a variety of protein-rich meat alternatives including tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes and low fat dairy. This will still see you meeting your protein requirements while eating a variety of foods!
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