Recipe: Salmon with roasted Brussel sprouts, fennel and pesto

This is an easy recipe that combines some of my favourite things: crispy skin salmon, Brussel sprouts and pesto. This is a meal packed with healthy fats, including omega-3 from the salmon and monounsaturated fats from the extra-virgin olive oil. This dish is gluten-free and low in carbs. Feel free to swap the vegetables for your favourite ones or whatever you have available.

I used Pecorino cheese (made from sheep’s milk) instead of Parmigiano Reggiano because I prefer its sharp taste, but you can use regular Parmesan. I also left out the garlic – I prefer using roasted garlic instead of raw in sauces but wanted to keep this recipe as simple as possible. You will have leftover pesto to enjoy with your morning eggs.

Salmon with roasted Brussel sprouts, fennel and pesto

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Salmon and vegetables

  • 3 salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 600 gr Brussel sprouts
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pesto

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 30g grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  2. Trim and halve Brussel sprouts, trim and slice fennel. Place vegetables on a tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  3. While the vegetables cook, place washed basil leaves, pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor. Process to desired texture. Check seasoning, add salt if needed and several grinds of black pepper.
  4. Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Place the salmon fillets skin side down, season flesh with salt and pepper. Let cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.
  5. Flip fillets using a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness.
  6. Serve fillets skin side up to preserve crispness or skin side down with a dollop of pesto on top for colour contrast. Serve roasted vegetables on the side, seasoned with salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

portable breakfast

Portable breakfast ideas

I was recently motivated to come up with some portable breakfast ideas. Based on recommendations by Dr Valter Longo and others, I’ve been aiming to keep my food intake within a 12 hour window every day. The main reason I’ve struggled to comply with this rule is that sometimes I get home pretty late (8pm or later) after working out.

The solution

To solve this, I’ve adjusted my breakfast time to ~8am, which means I now eat breakfast at work. This means my breakfast has to be: a) portable and b) not too weird (okay, maybe just a little).

The breakfast ideas

Below is the nutritional breakdown of several combos that work for me. Keep in mind that I eat low(er) carb in the morning and high(er) carb at night because that’s what works for my work/training schedule. Also, the nutrition information is taken from generic foods rather than specific products (except for the soups)

Breakfast Energy (kJ) Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs (g) Calcium (mg)
Yoghurt + peanut butter 2067 21.8 35.3 20.2 341.5
Yoghurt + peanut butter + collagen peptides 2251 32.8 35.3 20.2 341.5
3 boiled eggs + 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil mayonnaise + greens 1480 18.44 30.4 1.2 70.1
3 boiled eggs + 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil mayonnaise + kimchi 1469 18.1 30.4 1.3 63.1
1/2 avocado + 2 eggs + kimchi 1494 13.8 32.3 1.1 55.7
1/2 avocado + 2 eggs + 1 tsp fish roe 1504 14.2 32.5 0.4 51.2
1/2 avocado + small can of tuna in springwater 1307 19.8 25.2 0.4 19.0
1/2 avocado + small can of salmon in springwater 1533 20.6 30.9 0.4 205.3
1/2 avocado + can of sardines in springwater 1225 10.6 27.2 0.4 230.0
Macadamias + coffee (long black) 1822 5.8 44.4 3.0 37.2
Cup soup (Pho) + 1 boiled egg 395 8.5 5.4 3.6 18.3
Miso soup + 1 boiled egg 287 5.9 4.5 0.9 18.8

Notes

When buying foods that come with labels, always read the ingredients list at the minimum and the full nutritional panel if you’re more invested in managing your nutrient intake. More natural and less sugar is generally better. For example:

  • Yoghurt: choose Greek or natural, with no sugar or thickeners. Rokeby Farms and YoPro are brands I tend to buy because they’re higher in protein.
  • Peanut (or other nut butter): choose those made with nuts +/- salt, no sugar or oil. I like Mayver’s.
  • Nuts: choose raw or dry roasted
  • Canned fish: choose fish in brine, springwater or 100% extra virgin olive oil (evoo) if you can find it (I haven’t been able to find canned tuna in evoo lately – sardines are still available). When buying canned salmon, make sure it has the skin and bones because that’s where the vitamin D and calcium come from.
  • Mayonnaise: make it at home with egg yolks, evoo, lemon juice and mustard or use a high quality product such as Primal Kitchen avocado oil mayonnaise. If you’re afraid of mayo, use plain evoo or some homemade pesto.

Beyond breakfast

Despite the old adage that “breakfast is the most important meal” and studies that show that people who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight, it is possible that skipping breakfast (ala 16:8 diet) works for you.

Recipe: Supercharged Bolognese

This Supercharged Bolognese might look like a regular Bolognese but it’s got a secret ingredient to make it extra nutritious: Feather and Bone’s organic beef mince with organs. You can use your own mince + organ meat blend, of course.

Flavour comes, mostly, from the speck (also from Feather and Bone – you can use bacon instead), classic soffritto veggies (onion, garlic, celery and carrot) and red wine (you can use beef broth instead). The other flavour booster most Bolognese recipes don’t include is dried porcini, which adds to the umaminess of the dish. In Perú, ragú-style dishes are always made with dried mushrooms because they are included by default in the bay leaves bags that can be found at the herbs & spices section of the supermarket (this is called hongos y laurel). Finding dried mushrooms can be a bit more challenging in Australia but not impossible! – they’re available in most superkmarkets (and certainly specialty food stores), you just need to be patient to find them.

Most people serve Bolognese with spaghetti, but I prefer to serve it with vegetables for extra nutrition. I served them on top of sautéed Russian kale.

Supercharged Bolognese

Other suggestions include:

  • Higher carb:
    • roasted root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes, celeriac, pumpkin
    • vegetable “noodles” made from parsnip, celeriac, sweet potato, pumpkin
    • mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, celeriac, swedes or a combination
    • polenta
    • rice, quinoa or a combination (pro tip: add lupin flakes for extra fibre and protein)
  • Lower carb:
    • roasted or steamed broccoli and/or cauliflower
    • sautéed kale or cabbage
    • roasted Brussel sprouts
    • roasted zucchini, eggplant and capsicum
    • vegetable “noodles” made from zucchini
    • kelp or shirataki noodles

Finally, I prefer using Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan (or Parmigiano Reggiano) but you can use whichever hard cheese you prefer.

Supercharged Bolognese

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bolognese

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500gr beef mince with organs
  • 200gr speck or bacon, cut in stripes
  • 10gr dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine or beef broth
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • small handful of basil leaves, thinly sliced

To serve

  • your choice of vegetables or regular pasta substitute (see suggestions above)
  • freshly grated Pecorino Romano or other hard cheese

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pot or pan. Brown mince and speck/bacon.
  2. While meat cooks, place mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with hot water. When soft (5-8 minutes), drain but don’t discard the water. Chop mushrooms finely.
  3. Once meat is cooked, add onion, garlic, carrot, celery and leek. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add wine/broth and stir until almost fully evaporated.
  5. Add mushrooms and their water, tomatoes, bay leaf, season with 1 tsp salt and greshly ground pepper. Lower heat and cover cooking vessel. Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat, check seasoning and stir in basil.
  7. Serve sauce over vegetables with freshly grated cheese on top.

Recipe: Licorice salted chocolate mousse

I learned from a young age that salt accentuates sweet flavours (my grandma taught me to eat watermelon with salt). Later, in culinary school, I learned to always add salt to chocolate desserts – chocolate mousse included – and sugar to tomato-based dishes.

That’s why there was no doubt in my mind that Saltverk’s licorice sea salt would pair beautifully with a simple, rich chocolate mousse.

Licorice salted dark chocolate mousse

There are a million ways to make chocolate mousse. Classic ingredients include dark chocolate, eggs, butter and cream. Nowadays, there are lots of hipster versions using ingredients such as avocado, cacao powder (or even hipster-er: carob), coconut cream and cashews (of course, soaked overnight for that creamy texture).

I decided to go with a recipe that was given to me by a friend, which uses both water (Heston Blumenthal invented the chocolate + water mousse recipe) and eggs. I served it with a dollop of skyr to match the Icelandic theme. I haven’t tried real skyr so I’m not sure whether the ones sold in Australia are legit or not. Let me know in the comments if you do. Enjoy!

Licorice salted chocolate mousse




Mousse

  • 150gr dark chocolate (70% or darker, I used 78%)
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, whites and yolks separated
  • 1/2 tsp Saltverk licorice sea salt

To serve

  • A few spoonfuls of skyr (such as this or this)
  • Fresh or frozen berries (optional)

Directions

  1. Break chocolate in pieces, place in a bowl with the warm water and melt over a pot of boiling water.
  2. Remove from heat, let cool down for about 4 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whisk egg whites until firm peaks are formed.
  4. Beat egg yolks and salt in a small bowl, combine with cooled down chocolate.
  5. Using a spatula, gently add egg whites to chocolate mixture.
  6. Place mousse in glasses, cover with cling wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  7. When ready to serve, remove from fridge, scoop a dollop of skyr on top and garnish with berries (if using).

Recipe: Smokey poached salmon and potato salad

This is another recipe featuring one of the wonderful sustainable Saltverk Icelandic sea salts. Once again, I relied on the internet to tell me which foods are common in Iceland and put a bunch of them together in dish that is easy to make, healthy and delicious.

If you have never poached fish before, I encourage to give it a try. The trick is to use a flavourful sauce or dressing to make the fish shine.

I used Spud Lite potatoes for this recipe for a slighter lower carb meal, but you can use whichever potatoes you can get your hands on.

Smokey poached salmon and potato salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Salad

  • 400-450g skinless salmon fillets
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 5-8 chives
  • 4 small or 2 medium potatoes (I used baby Spud Lite)
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 handfuls mixed greens
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Saltverk birch smoked sea salt
  • ground pepper, to taste

Dressing


To serve

  • Fresh dill or chives, chopped

Directions

  1. In a pot or deep saucepan, pour enough water to cover salmon fillets. Add bay leaves, peppercorns and chives, cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Once water is boiling, turn off heat, add salmon fillets and cover. Set timer to 15 minutes.
  3. Peel and cube potatoes. Boil or steam until fully cooked (10-15 minutes).
  4. Make the dressing by whisking all ingredients or shaking them in a jar until fully emulsified.
  5. Serve greens and cabbage on a plate. Top with warm potatoes and salmon, drizzle dressing and finish with Saltverk birch smoked sea salt, pepper and chopped dill or chives.

Recipe: Arctic thyme lamb meatballs with roasted swede mash

I made these lamb meatballs using one of the wonderful Icelandic sea salts I reviewed recently. This artisanal salt is made by mixing Saltverk flaky sea salt with Wild Icelandic Arctic thyme, a plant that grows on gravel soils and in dry heath lands. According to the manufacturer, it pairs well with meat, especially Icelandic lamb.

I did not have access to Icelandic lamb but I figured grass-fed Australian lamb would make a fair substitute. I kept the recipe simple to highlight the flavour of the Arctic thyme sea salt. I chose swedes for the mash as this is one of the few vegetables traditionally used in Icelandic cuisine. The dish does take a bit of time to make if you roast the swedes like I did, but you can shorten the cooking time by steaming them instead.

Arctic thyme lamb meatballs with roasted swede mash

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Meatballs


Mash

  • 4 large swedes
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

To serve

  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh parsley or chives, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  2. Peel and cut swedes in large cubes. Place on a baking tray with 1 tbsp unsalted butter. Bake until tender, about 1 hour (stir the butter once it has melted).
  3. While the swedes cook, mix meatball ingredients and form golf-sized balls. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper or foil.
  4. When the swedes are cooked, remove from oven and rise temperature to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
  5. Place meatballs in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. While the meatballs cook, place swedes in food processor with the rest of the butter and salt. Process until smooth.
  7. Serve meatballs and mash with wilted greens, garnish with parsley or chives.

Recipe: Sudado de pescado (Peruvian steamed fish)

Sudado de pescado can be considered a soup or a stew. I guess it depends on how you serve it: with boiled cassava or with boiled cassava and rice. The verb sudar means “to sweat”… in this context, it means the fish is steamed on top of a bed of onions and tomatoes with a delicious broth.

One of the broth ingredients is chicha de jora, a fermented beverage made from malted maize (corn), commonly used in Peruvian cuisine. It is also served as a drink in many towns in the highlands to children and adults, despite its alcoholic content. Back in the day, the fermentation was kickstarted by chewing the corn kernels and spitting them in a bucket. Thankfully, these days it’s made through a more modern and hygienic process. Taste-wise, it’s similar to apple cider vinegar and plain kombucha. You can buy it from Latin food shops such as Tienda Latina in Ashfield.

Chicha de jora

Sudado de pescado was one of dad’s favourite dishes. I didn’t appreciate it until mum started making it with scallops. The addition of seafood elevates the dish to another level. I asked her for the recipe and she wrote down a paragraph with instructions but no quantities (for a change!). I think I got my version pretty close; dad would have approved.

As you can see below, sudado de pescado is a very simple and healthy dish to make, provided you have the ingredients at hand. I have indicated substitutions and ingredients that can be omitted.

Sudado de pescado

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 white fish fillets
  • 12 scallops (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red onion in thick slices
  • 2 tomatoes in thick slices
  • 1 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste, preferably smoked)
  • 1 tbsp ají amarillo paste (or other yellow chilli paste)
  • 3/4 cup chicha de jora (or plain kombucha or a combination of apple cider vinegar and white wine)
  • 1/4 cup fish stock
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) pisco (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500g frozen cassava, to serve
  • rice or cauliflower rice, to serve (optional)
  • fresh chilli, to serve
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Directions

  1. Boil cassava until tender (25-30 minutes).
  2. While the cassava is cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan at medium heat. Add garlic, onion, tomatoes, ají panca and ají amarillo. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicha de jora, stock and pisco (if using) to the saucepan. Place fish on top of vegetables and scallops on top of fish. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain cassava.
  5. Serve sudado with boiled cassava and rice/cauliflower rice (if desired). Garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Recipe: Chupe de camarones (Peruvian prawn chowder)

Soup season is back! I would be hard-pressed to nominate my favourite soup, but chupe de camarones is definitely in the top 5. As it happens with most Peruvian dishes, it all starts with onion, garlic and ají (chilli). Ají panca (dried red Peruvian chilli) paste can be found in certain ethnic markets or you can sub another red chilli paste.

It also features Andean staples such as habas (broad beans), papas (potatoes) and choclo (corn). Rice is also an important ingredient, but you can sub cauliflower rice, quinoa, etc.

Chupe de camarones

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 whole king or tiger prawns (to garnish)
  • 450g peeled prawns (if you bought them unpeeled, follow the optional step below)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ají panca paste
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin, finely diced
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh broad beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup cooked rice or 2 cups cauliflower rice
  • salt, pepper and oregano, to taste
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • 4 poached or fried eggs
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Directions

  1. Optional: If you bought unpeeled prawns, peel them (remember to reserve 4 to garnish) and pop the heads and shells in a pot and heat until bright red. Add the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drain and reserve the stock.
  2. Heat 1 oil in a pot. add onion, garlic and ají panca and cook at low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add stock, potatoes and pumpkin. Cook at medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add broad beans, peas, corn and cauliflower rice (if using). Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add cooked rice (if using) and all prawns, cook until prawns are bright red (approx. 5 minutes). Add cream, check seasoning and turn off heat.
  6. Serve soup and garnish with one whole prawn, a poached/fried egg and a few coriander leaves per bowl.

Recipe: Peruvian spiced chicken

I would love to say this is a recipe for pollo a la brasa but that would be a terrible lie. First, I did not use charcoal to cook it and second, traditional pollo a la brasa can be made with no other seasoning than salt and pepper. That’s why I’m calling it Peruvian spiced chicken instead.

A couple of notes about ingredients:

  1. Peruvian dark beer (a.k.a. “malta”) is a bit sweeter than most dark beers here in Australia. I used O’Brien brown ale, which is not only delicious and gluten-free but also similar in taste to Peruvian malta. Feel free to use any dark beer you like.
  2. Ají panca is a dried red Peruvian chilli. In Perú you can buy it whole, ground or in paste. In Australia is more common to find the paste, which can be purchased online or in stores such as Fiji Market in Newtown and Tierras Latinas in Ashfield. I like the brand I bring from home every time I visit, which unfortunately is not available here (pictured below). If you can’t find it (or can’t be bothered), use any chilli paste you like… but don’t call it Peruvian chicken ;).

Finally, Peruvians would typically serve this chicken with chips and “salad” (maybe some iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato). I recommend serving it with your favourite vegetables or a nice salad, for example, this one.

Peruvian spiced chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (O’Brien gluten-free dark ale recommended)
  • 2 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or other gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/5 tsp rosemary salt (or 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp dried rosemary)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients and spread on and in chicken. Let marinate in the fridge for 3-12 hours.
  2. Take chicken out of the fridge and preheat oven to 215°C (185-195°C fan-forced).
  3. Place chicken in cast iron pot or roasting pan and roast for 70-90 minutes. Time will vary depending on the actual temperature of your oven and size of the chicken. Use a brush to baste chicken with the cooking juices approximately at the 45-50 minute mark
  4. Turn off oven and leave chicken inside for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve with vegetables.

Recipe: Anzac biscuits with protein

It’s that time of the year again, that time in between hot cross buns and Christmas pudding. That time when supermarkets display piles of tins of Anzac biscuits.

This is a variation of the recipe I shared last year: better (gluten-free) Anzac biscuits. As the previous recipe, it uses uncontaminated oats, which should be safe for people with gluten allergy/intolerance. You may also use other brands, such as Bob’s Red Mill, but keep in mind international standards for gluten-free products are less strict than Australian.

Uncontaminated oats

This recipe also uses a whey protein based product called 180 Nutrition Grass-fed Protein Superfood, which contains whey protein isolate, seeds, nut flour, coconut flour, psyllium husks and stevia. I’m pretty sure True Protein raw coconut WPC or WPI would work well, too.

Anzac protein biscuits

  • Servings: 9-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncontaminated/gluten-free rolled oats (see recommendations above)
  • 80g (about 3/4 cup) coconut protein powder (see recommendations above)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes or 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 75g butter
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced (180°C regular).
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in bowl.
  4. Melt butter and add to bowl. Add water and maple syrup, mix well with your hands.
  5. Form golf-sized balls and flatten between your hands. Place on baking tray.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Let cookies cool down and enjoy.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 41.3g
Servings Per Container 9

Amount Per Serving
Calories 186.1 Calories from Fat 122.4
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13.6g 21%
Saturated Fat 9.2g 46%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol mg 0%
Sodium 73.9mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 8.8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3.1g 12%
Sugars 2.4g
Protein 6.8g 14%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.