Savory Oatmeal with Italian Flavours

IMG_0348.JPGIn this quick and easy dish, oats are combined with red lentils which melt down to blend perfectly with the oats and offer an extra source of protein.  Enjoy this recipe for any meal of the day!

Savory Oatmeal with Italian Flavours

Oatmeal is popularly eaten as a breakfast meal with sweet flavours and additions such as fruit. But you are missing out if you have never tried a savory version – it is just as delicious and opens up a world of versatility and flavour combinations to use with this nutritious wholegrain.

Serves 1
Ready In:
20-30 min

Ingredients

* 1/3 cup rolled oats
*¼ cup split red lentils
*1 ¾ cup vegetable broth
*sprinkle of garlic powder and onion powder
*½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
*7 kalamata olives, halved
*small handful fresh basil
*few slices fresh avocado
*salt and black pepper to taste
*chili flakes (optional)

  1. Place the oats and lentils with the broth, onion and garlic powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover/half cover and reduce to a gentle simmer. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. The red lentils will need a little longer than the oats to cook should be completely blended in with the oats when done – add a little more water if it gets too dry and the lentils are not ready.
  2. Meanwhile slice the tomatoes in half, sprinkle with a little salt and place under the grill to cook.
  3. Prepare the other toppings.
  4. When the oat and lentil mixture is done, taste and add extra seasoning if necessary. Scoop into a bowl. Top with the tomatoes, olives, basil, and avocado.
  5. Enjoy!
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Roasted Ratatouille Veggies with Chickpeas

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Is there a more flavourful way to enjoy vegetables other than roasting them? This dish really brings out the flavours of juicy baby tomatoes, sweet capsicum, red onion, garlic and other complimentary vegetables intensified with Italian herbs and olives. Add in a can of chickpeas and you have a complete, filling meal, that not only is super quick to prepare, but will infuse your kitchen with the mouthwatering aroma of roasting veggies and herbs at their best.

Roasted Ratatouille Veggies with Chickpeas 

Preperation time: 5-10 min
Cooking time: 35-45 minutes
serves – 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish

Don’t be put off by the cooking in two batches, there is no need for perfect chopping and the veggies are super quick to prepare and can be ready to be added so the over-all effort is still minimal.

First batch

Ingredients

*1 red capsicum
*1 medium sized eggplant (or about 3 baby eggplants)
*2 small zucchini or about 5 baby zucchini
*1 large red onion

Method

  1. Place a casserole dish in an oven set at about 200 degrees celsius to warm up. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  2. Roughly chop the first batch of veggies then mix in the casserole dish and roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the second batch of ingredients.

Second batch

Ingredients

*100g roma baby tomatos (recommended)  or grape or cherry tomatoes
*1 tin chickpeas (400g) (or 1 ½ cups cooked)
*1/4 – 1/3 cup kalamata or Spanish black olives or other olives
*2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
*1/2 – 1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
*1/2 – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
*Salt (herb salt or sea salt) and black pepper

Topping: Fresh herbs (I love lots of fresh basil).

Method (continued)

  1. Add the second batch of ingredients, stir to combine. Cook for another 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are slightly crispy in some spots – but don’t let them dry out.
  2. Sprinkle with fresh basil, parsley, or oregano, or a combination of all three.
  3. Suggested serving: on top of a bed of fresh romaine lettuce / other greens, with some brown rice or quinoa, with a side salad or with a light soup.
  4. Enjoy!

Creamy Cajun Black Bean and Potato Soup

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This tasty, flavourful, creamy soup is the perfect filling comfort food that is filling yet low in fat, and high in protein and other important nutrients. Black bean soup isn’t very well known in Australia, and though the more traditional recipes use beans cooked from scratch, I could never seem to get the beans to cook soft enough when cooked with the rest of the soup, and many attempts turned out watery and lacking flavour. My secret to keeping strong flavour in soup (apart from using a good stock cube/or liquid stock) is to add only enough water to cover the contents during the cooking process (you can add extra later to thin the soup out). I’ve also added potatoes to make this soup thick and velvety. This soup pairs nicely with freshly baked cornbread, hot from the oven.

 

Creamy Cajun Black Bean and Potato Soup

Ingredients

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cans black beans (or three cups cooked)

2 large potatoes or 4 small ones, roughly chopped

2 tsp Cajun seasoning  (I like to make my own and used smoked paprika, but store brought will still be delicious)

1 veg stock cube + water

1 tsp red wine vinegar (use apple cider vinegar if you don’t have this)

3 tsp lime juice

Optional toppings: avocado, diced tomato, fresh coriander, parsley or green onion

Method

  1. Heat a little oil in a medium sized sauce pan then gently fry the onion until just starting to turn golden.
  2. Add the garlic and Cajun seasoning and stir for 30-60 seconds.
  3. Add the red wine vinegar and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the potatoes, beans and stock cube. Then add enough water just to cover the beans and veggies.
  5. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn to medium heat, half cover and simmer until the potato is soft, about 15-20 minutes (cut the potato smaller for quicker cooking time).
  6. Turn off the heat and stir through the lime juice.
  7. Pour contents into a food processor or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  8. Serve topped with optional toppings and a few slices of corn bread.

 

Cornbread

I was so happy to find this cornbread recipe below, as it is both vegan, and less sweeter than most other recipes which use up to 1/2 a cup of sweetener. It was so delicious straight from the oven. I halved the recipe and cooked it in a smaller glass dish and as you can see from the photo it still made quite a lot.

Thank you to The Health Family and Home for this recipe.  

Ingredients
•2 cups organic cornmeal
•1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
•2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum-free)
•1/3 cup organic coconut oil (melted/liquid)
•2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
•2 cups homemade almond milk (room temperature)
•2 teaspoons organic apple cider vinegar (or fresh squeezed lemon juice)
•1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Directions
1. Combine the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) in a medium-sized bowl and wisk together. Set aside.
2. Combine all dry ingredients together (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt) in a medium-sized bowl and stir until well combined.
3.Add the melted coconut oil and maple syrup to the non-dairy milk mixture and wisk until foamy and bubbly.
4.Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. (The batter will be somewhat thick).
5.Use a spoon or spatula to transfer the batter into an 8 x 8 glass baking dish. (I lightly greased).
6.Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 – 35 minutes.

Enjoy!

Note
This recipe will make approximately (9) large squares.

Let me know if you enjoyed this recipe!

 

Warm Kale Medley with Tahini, Soy and Lime Dressing

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This colourful dish was inspired by a dish I enjoyed at an lovely café in Adelaide, Australia called Pollen 185 (highly recommended a visit for creative, fresh, tasty, healthy food and friendly service). Lots of different flavours and textures will absolutely wow you (you got to try it to believe me but trust me your socks will be knocked off that greens can taste so good! And it’s a super quick meal to whip up too!

This dish has got to be one of my favourite ways to enjoy the super nutritious albeit fairly tough textured kale. For a while I struggled to find ways to eat a lot of it at once, there is only so much you can put in a smoothie before it turns the drink too bitter, and while the addition of salad dressings or massaging with avocado does a great deal to soften it up, I find I can’t eat too much of it in this form. However, lightly stir-frying softens the leaves right up and it’s an even better choice of a cooked leafy green than spinach or chard because while it does wilt a lot down in size, it does so to a much lesser extent. In addition when you want a big bowl of greens in winter, this is a nice warming alternative to salads.

Warm Kale Medley with Tahini, Soy and Lime Dressing 

Serves: 1-2 people.
Ready in: 30 minutes or less (Tip: If your short on time chop/prep the kale, carrots, cabbage etc. and dressing before hand will mean when meal time comes around you can whip this up in only 5-10 min!)

Ingredients

*1 tbsp pepitas (4 tsp)
*1 tbsp almonds (4 tsp)
*½ tbsp sesame seeds (2 tsp)
Or your choice of seeds/nuts

*½ bunch of kale (about 2-3 cups shredded)
*1 small carrot, grated
*¼ small red cabbage sliced
*1 small onion, sliced
*1 tsp ginger, grated
*2 cloves garlic, sliced

Dressing:
*1 1/2 tbsp tahini  (6 tsps)
*1 ½ tbsp soy sauce (6 tsps)
*½ tbsp (2 tsps) fresh lime juice

Method

1. Place the seeds and nuts in a dry pan and toast gently on medium heat until lightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside (Note: you may wish to do the almonds first as they will take a little longer to toast).
2. Prepare all the vegetables.
3. Place a tablespoon of oil in a large fry pan. When heated, add the onion and fry until lightly brown.
4. Add the garlic, and fry for 1 more minute then add the kale, cabbage, carrot and ginger.
5. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water then cover for 2-3 minutes to allow the kale to wilt (depending on your stove top and pan you are using you may not need to do this i.e non stick can usually keep it up higher and don’t need to cover)
6. Remove the lid and stir the vegetables. Continue to cook 2-3 more minutes until the vegetables are just soft but have not lost their colour or gone too mushy.
7. Whisk together the tahini, soy sauce and lime then toss through the vegetables. Remove from heat.
8. Add the nuts and seeds back to the pan, tossing to combine.

Serve and enjoy immediately.

 

Pita Pizzas with hummus “cheese”

 

pitta pizzaQuick and easy to prepare using pita bread, hummus and a few basic toppings such as tomato, olives and onion this healthy pizza alternative contains a good balance of protein and carbs making it an ideal post-workout snack, light lunch, or side dish. 

Chickpeas replace cheese as a healthier and lower-fat option with the benefit of being a good source of iron and protein! For a quick option you can use store brought hummus or try the healthier version below. For a speedy meal, prep the hummus and the toppings before hand, so all you have to do is assemble and pop under the grill when you are hungry.

Pita Pizzas with Hummus “cheese”

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients 

4 wholemeal pitta breads

Hummus (use packed store brought or try recipe below)

Veggie toppings such as onion, olives, capsicum, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, jalepenos

Fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or oregano

Hummos:

400g tin chickpeas, drained

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons Tahini

1 garlic clove, pressed

Approx. 60ml water

Salt and pepper

 

To make the hummus: 

Blend all ingredients in a food processor adding the water slowly till a smooth thick consistency is reached.

 

To make the pizzas:

 

  1. Spread a thick layer of hummus on the pitta breads.
  2. Sprinkle with dried herbs and spices such as paprika if you wish
  3. Top with thinly sliced veggies
  4. Pop in a hot oven for 15-20 min until the veggies on top are cooked
  5. Sprinkle over fresh herbs such as basil during the last minute of cooking
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

Quinoa Puttanesca

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This dish is a flavourful combination of tomato, dried and fresh herbs, garlic, olives, chilli, capers and red wine.

My Quinoa Puttanesca is a delicious version of the Italian dish Spaghetti alla puttanesca (literally “spaghetti in the garbage style” or “spaghetti in the whore’s style” in Italian) which is a tangy, somewhat salty Italian pasta dish invented in the mid-20th century.

In this version I use quinoa instead of pasta. Quinoa is an ancient seed which is a great gluten-free alternative, less processed than pasta, an excellent source of fibre, low in fat and a good source of protein. 

Quinoa Puttanesca
Serves: 2 people 

Ready in: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients
*1 cup quinoa + 2 cups filtered water

*1-2 tsps oil (eg. extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil) 
*3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced (preferable, but can use 1 heaped tsp minced garlic from a jar) 
* 2-3 fresh tomatoes (preferably Roma) 
*1 tsp dried Italian herb mix 
*1/2 tsp-1 tsp chili flakes OR 1-2 fresh chillies, finely chopped 
*1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (soaked in 1/2 cup hot water, then finely chopped – reserve the water)
*1/3 cup Kalamata olives 
*1 Tablespoon (4 tsp) capers
*1 Tablespoon (4 tsp) tomato paste 

* 1/4 cup red wine 
* Salt and black pepper to taste 
* A handful of fresh herbs such as basil, parsley and/or oregano

Method
1. Rinse and drain the quiona, then place in a small saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 min then fluff with a fork.

2. Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients. Gently heat the oil in a large fry pan and add the sliced garlic. Stir for 30-60 sec until the garlic is golden (be careful not to burn). 
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, dried herbs, and chilli flakes then cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the tomato softens. If pan gets too dry, add some of the reserved liquid from soaking the sun-dried tomatoes. 
4. Next add the sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, tomato paste and the red-wine. Continue to cook on medium-high heat for another 2-3 minutes. 
5. Fluff the quinoa with a fork then add, 1/2 at a time to the fry pan and stir until combined. Stir through some roughly chopped fresh herbs. 
6. Taste, and add a little salt if desired along with freshly cracked black pepper. Place into two bowls, top with more fresh herbs and enjoy!

Almond Butter Satay with Beans, Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes

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This tasty and quick dish makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is full of flavour yet can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes! Enjoy on its own, on top of wholemeal toast, over brown rice or quinoa, or accompanied by a fresh garden salad. It also tastes good the next day cold if you have left overs!

Almond Butter Satay with Beans, Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes
Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Cooking Time: 10 minutes.
Serves: 2-4 depending on if you have it on its own or with something else.

Ingredients
*2 cans beans (recommend mild tasting beans such as cannellini beans (I used), pinto beans or butter beans)
*1 leek
*1 clove of garlic
*1 bay leaf
*1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
*Small head of broccoli
*1/4 cup almond butter
*1/2 tsp smoked paprika
*1 cup water
*2 tbsp soy sauce
*Sea salt or herbsalt + freshly cracked black pepper

Method
1. Wash and finely slice the leek, peel and crush the garlic.
2. Slice cherry tomatoes in half and cut the broccoli into small florets.
3. Heat a teaspoon or two of mild tasting oil in a medium sized saucepan and then add the leek and garlic. Cook on low heat for 1-2 min or until just going soft and golden – be careful not to burn.
4. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, the bay leaf and salt plus a little water if needed to prevent sticking. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the beans, broccoli and 1 cup of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 3-5 min until the broccoli is bright green and tender but not overcooked.
6. Add the almond butter and stir through until melted and you have a creamy consistency. Add the soysauce and pepper.
7.  Time to eat!

Tips:
*Peanut butter will of course taste great as well if you have no almond butter on hand
**If you don’t have broccoli try substituting spinach or zucchini, if you don’t have tomatoes, try red capsicum