I love soup and pumpkin soup has been among my favourites forever. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Its sweetness, accentuated by roasting it instead of just boiling it, pairs well with the zing of ginger, lemongrass and lime juice.
This recipe is gluten-free and can be made vegan/vegetarian by using vegetable broth and omitting the fish sauce. It’s low in fat (if you don’t add the optional coconut milk) and protein. You can add some cooked chicken or boiled eggs to bump up the protein content.
Banana pancakes are the perhaps the easiest pancakes you’ll ever make. This recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free.
The basic recipe has only 2 ingredients: banana and eggs. That’s 1 serve of fruit and 1 serve of protein foods ticked off for the day. I add cinnamon because I love its taste and it helps control blood sugar.
Ripe bananas work best for this recipe, as they are easier to mash. Smaller pancakes are easier to flip. If you are like me and the sweetness of the banana is enough, you can use unsweetened yoghurt (e.g. YoPro or Rokeby Farms) or peanut butter (e.g. Mayver’s) as toppings. These will also increase the protein content of the meal. Otherwise, feel free to use honey, maple syrup or any other topping of your choice.
Lamb and chimichurri are common items in Argentinian menus. Although they do a lot of asado (BBQ), lamb is more often eaten slow-cooked by open fire. I wanted this recipe to capture the essence of Argentinian food without sacrificing practicality. These lamb chops with chimichurri can be easily made on a weeknight with ingredients that are easy to get.
Following the “meat and 3 veg” tradition, I used romanesco, carrots and kale for this recipe. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have handy that are suitable for roasting, for example: cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, Brussel sprouts, celeriac, parsnips, swedes, turnips, green beans, radishes, etc.
One additional note: the chimichurri recipe will make more than enough, keep the leftover sauce in a glass jar in the fridge and use it later. Besides meat, you can drizzle it on baked potatoes, bread, salads, etc.
One pan lamb chops with vegetables and chimichurri
2 small-medium heads of romanesco, cauliflower or broccoli
5-6 medium carrots
1 small bunch of kale or other dark leafy green
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 red capsicum, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt
Prepare the chimichurri by mixing all ingredients. Let it sit at room temperature for flavours to marry.
Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced).
Chop vegetables in large chunks and place in a roasting pan (you can line it with baking paper for easier clean-up). Season lamb chops with salt and pepper on both sides and place them on top of the vegetables.
Roast for 20-30, flipping the chops midway through.
Serve purist-style (vegetables with chops and sauce on the side) or rebel-style (vegetables with chops on top, drizzled with sauce).
Mum is a great cook. Pollo con piña (pineapple chicken) was one of her go-to meals, possibly the one she made the most often. We had it for dinner on regular weekdays and also on special occasions, such as my dad’s birthday.
I have to confess that at some stage of my life I got tired of eating this dish. However, I’ve been away from home long enough for me to miss it. Last time I visited my family I asked mum for the recipe. Of course, she gave me general directions with no quantities nor times. I’m still amazed that the dish tasted the same every single time. I decided to give it a shot given that it’s dad’s birthday month and I like to do something every year to remember him.
Notes on ingredients: mum uses regular soy sauce and ketchup (tomato sauce), potato starch and pineapple in syrup. I used tamari, sugar-free tomato sauce from Richard’s Country Kitchen, tapioca starch and pineapple in juice. From memory, my version is pretty close to the original and a little healthier.
Black sesame baba ganoush is also (see my recipe for black sesame hummus) my kind of dip. Tasty, healthy, black. It looks scary enough for people to avoid it, so there’s always more for me. Make it for Halloween or any other day.
Black sesame seeds are widely used in Chinese medicine. Science suggests they may lower blood pressure and protect against oxidative stress (1). They may also reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels as well as protect cardiovascular, liver and kidney function, among other positive outcomes. Scientists have found at least 20 metabolites that are higher in black sesame seeds than in the white variety and might be responsible for their health benefits (2).
Baba ganoush can be spelled several different ways and I’m sure there’s some controversy regarding which country invented it. Regardless, it’s delicious and also healthy, vegan, gluten-free and it contributes to your daily vegetable intake.
Optional but recommended: Wrap garlic cloves in foil and bake for 20-40 minutes at medium heat (160-170°C).
If you decide not to roast the garlic, mince it.
Set oven to grill or broiler, place eggplants on a baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes, turning it every once in a while until the skin is charred on all sides.
Split eggplant in two lengthwise and scoop the flesh out.
Place in a blender or food processor with the rest of ingredients. Process until desired consistency is reached.
Check seasoning, serve in a bowl sprinkled with chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crudités (fancy for raw vegetable sticks) and/or crackers.
Wichitsranoi J, Weerapreeyakul N, Boonsiri P, Settasatian C, Settasatian N, Komanasin N, et al. Antihypertensive and antioxidant effects of dietary black sesame meal in pre-hypertensive humans. Nutrition Journal. 2011;10(1):82.
Wang D, Zhang L, Huang X, Wang X, Yang R, Mao J, et al. Identification of Nutritional Components in Black Sesame Determined by Widely Targeted Metabolomics and Traditional Chinese Medicines. Molecules. 2018;23(5).
You can serve it in any of the traditional ways: with rice, in nachos, topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc. I like to serve it with vegetables (e.g. steamed or roasted broccoli and/or cauliflower), topped with coriander, avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. However you decide to serve it, I hope you enjoy it.
I realise Asian baked chicken wings is not a very descriptive dish name but bear with me. This recipe was inspired by a Peruvian dish called “chicharrón de pollo”. As you may or may not know, there has been a large influx of Chinese migrants in Perú, particularly between the late 1800s and the early 1900s.
I tweaked the recipe to use chicken wings instead of breast and baked instead of fried. The wings have enough fat (and there’s a bit of sesame oil in the marinade) so they don’t need to be fried. Serve it with steamed or stir-fried vegetables of your choice.
Double chocolate, that’s all you need to know. Don’t worry about the hippie stuff 🙂 Ok, ok, as you can gather from the recipe name, these balls have beans in them. Beans are a great source of fibre, low GI carbohydrate and a decent source of protein. They can cause gastrointestinal discomfort to some people, which can be minimised by preparation steps such as soaking, sprouting and fermenting.
This recipe came about because I had rescued some adzuki beans from going in the bin. Since these beans are commonly used in desserts, I thought I’d make myself a healthy treat with them. I though I would continue with the Asian theme by adding black sesame seeds (in the form of tahini) and added chocolate to the mix for good measure. You can use other beans (such as black or red kidney) and regular tahini or nut butter instead. Also feel free to use chocolate with a different cacao percentage depending on your taste.
These balls taste great at food temperature, but I prefer them chilled or even frozen. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and raw. Enjoy!
Double chocolate, adzuki and black sesame bliss balls
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
Trim and halve Brussel sprouts, trim and slice fennel. Place vegetables on a tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.
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.
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.
Flip fillets using a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness.
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.
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.
Other suggestions include:
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