Zucchini Pasta with Walnut Pesto

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This recipe was actually created based on default. With a lot of my recipes and initially when I first started cooking I would substitute items in the ingredient list if I had forgotten to pick them up at the supermarket. In the beginning this worked against me, having no knowledge of food and cooking I had the tendency to substitute or choose to ignore essential ingredient items – almond meal for baking powder anyone?? I would then spend quite some time staring at the picture in the magazine and then my own creation bamboozled to why it looked so different.

Now I find substitution a great technique for coming up with new recipes when you get tired of the same old versions. This recipe is extremely easy to make and is great for a weekly dinner as it only takes about 10 minutes (tops) to make. It is also a great gluten free option or when the body is feeling a bit sluggish or needing a break from heavy carbohydrates. Super star ingredients include:

Coriander (Cilantro) is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C. Some of the health benefits include its anti-inflammatory capabilities and the reduction of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). It is also a great relief from stomach indigestion problems and helps reduce nausea. It has quite a strong flavor (so if it is not for you replace with basil leaves or parsley).

Zucchini is a great source of vitamins C and A, potassium, fibre and folate. It is also low in kilojoules so feel to fill your bowl to the top.

Garlic is one of the most powerful immune system enhancers out there and has been used for years for its natural antibiotic, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties. This gem is enriched with antioxidants and has been shown to promote the well-being of the heart and immune systems and helps maintain healthy blood circulation. The smell “breath” we most often associate garlic with is due to the sulphur compound of allicin which is produced when garlic is chopped, chewed or bruised and has been shown to assist the body to inhibit germs to grow and reproduce making it a fantastic ingredient to add to dishes when the body is feeling less than perfect.

Ingredients:

Serves 4 – 6

  • 2 zucchinis

Walnut Pesto

  • 1 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 cups of almond milk
  • 3 medijool dates

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients listed in the pesto into a food processor and pulse to combine. The consistency should be quite thick, however not thick enough to use as a spread. If too thick add more almond milk or if too thin add more walnuts.
  • Using your mandolin slice zucchini into pasta pieces.  If using a knife slice zucchini vertically in half then slice thinly. Once completed stack zucchini slices on top of each and slice once more vertically.
  • Steam zucchini or serve raw (I don’t mind either way however some people may prefer to have the zucchini slightly cooked). Tip –  Zucchini has quite a large water content so if cooking make sure your pesto is slightly thicker.
  • Combine and serve with a handful of chopped walnuts and salt and pepper.

i heart Muesli

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Those who follow me on my instagram page are well aware how deep my love for breakfast goes. I wake up every day excited for breakfast and my muesli recipe combo is sufficient to fill me up until lunchtime. I can’t stress enough the importance of breakfast it gets our metabolism up and going after 8 hours (on good days) of sleep, increasing our blood sugar levels to prevent feeling lethargic later in the day and more inclined to reach for that sugar treat.

Breakfast for many Australians is typically a coffee with a couple of pieces of white toast dosed with vegemite and butter “shoved into our gobs” as we hurriedly make our way out the door. Unfortunately this will not only lead to feeling hungry again in an hours or less time but due to the spike and drop in blood sugar levels will also make us extremely tired and most likely looking for some sort of caffeine hit to function productively again.

My typical weekly breakfast is one that is oats related and changes seasonally from the summer muesli/bircher to the winter porridge. The ideal breakfast should be one that is rich in protein and good fats providing a fantastic source of energy to kick you off to a great start to the day.

Generally this muesli has several staple ingredients with a few optional elements that are changed when required. Let me introduce you to some these superstars;

Oats are rich in dietary fibre and in particular a soluble fibre called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has a number of proven benefits particularly relating to heart health. Based on extensive studies it has been proven to have the ability to lower cholesterol levels, in particular, through the re-absorption of LDL (bad) cholesterol that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This genius little grain is also a blood sugar stabilising food, keeping spikes in blood sugar levels under control for the rest of the day and therefore us out of the cookie jar.

Chia Seeds contain Omega-3 essential fats, protein, antioxidants, extra fibre, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. They also expand when combined with liquid so you feel fuller for longer (YES!).

Cinnamon has been known to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), stabilise blood sugar levels and is a fantastic natural food preservative. It’s deliciously good smell has also been documented to boost cognitive function and memory and acts as an anti-inflammatory for the body. It is also a rich source of manganese, fibre, iron and calcium.

LSA = Linseed + Sunflower seeds + Almonds is a grounded powder and provides the body with a great source of vitamins and minerals. Adding this ingredient provides an excellent source of protein, fibre, omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, Vitamin A, E, D, B12, B2, B5, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, copper and zinc to name a few.

Greek Yoghurt is a great source of protein and calcium. When purchasing always go with the full fat option as the non-fat alternative is full of sugar. Rule of thumb when selecting yoghurt make sure you stay under 8g of sugar per 100g or 100mls. The first 4.7g is lactose sugar anything above that is added sugar. My brand selection is either farmers union or chobani.

Goji berries are a great source of fatty acids and B vitamins and have been shown to improve eyesight, protect the liver, increase immunity and prevent ageing.

Walnuts and almonds (nuts in general) and the benefits associated with these two rockstars are highlighted in my previous post however in a snap shot provide a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein and dietary fibre.

JB Muesli

Serves one

Ingredients:


  • ½ cup traditional cut oats (preferably wholegrain)
  • Tsp chia seeds
  • Tsp goji berries
  • Tbsp LSA
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pepitas
  • Tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup of almond milk
  • Tsp Rice Malt Syrup (optional – great alternative to honey, maple syrup and golden syrup due to lower sugar content)
  • Blueberries, granny smith apple, strawberries, raspberries or kiwi fruit (optional)

Directions:

  • Mix together oats, chia seeds, LSA and cinnamon.
  • Add chopped nuts and fruit.
  • Add milk of your choice.
  • Serve with a dallop of yoghurt.

Breakfast should also be an enjoyable time we can sit and reflect on the day ahead, recover from our morning exercise or chat with our significant other/family/roomie/colleague about some sort of crazy dream we had the night before or about nothing.

If you are unable to make on a daily basis on a Sunday night increase the portion size by about 5 times (5 days in the week) and pour into a mason jar or container and leave under your office desk. All you need to do is add your choice of milk, yoghurt and fruit when you get to work. Simple and free of excuses to why you are unable to eat a good and healthy breakfast.

Shown are a few of my morning combinations.

x


Vitamins and Minerals

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Before recipe posting any further I thought it may be useful to upload a nutritional chart so that you can clearly see why the ingredients used throughout all my cooking are not only for their srumpdiddilyumptiousness (sorry family word for tasty) but because they play such a large part in keeping our bodies and mind healthy. The following chart is based on the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand and provides a great overview of the nutritional benefits on some of the essential vitamins and minerals that will be highlighted throughout this blog. Remember specific advice for individual needs should be sought from a qualified dietitian.

“The term nutrient identifies those substances in food that provide essential nourishment to maintain life”  http://www.health.gov.au/internet/healthyactive/publishing.nsf/Content/vitamins-minerals 

Nutrient (Vitamins)

Needed for

Vitamin A

  • maintaining normal reproduction
  • good  vision
  • formation  and maintenance of healthy skin, teeth and soft tissues of the body
  • immune  function (has anti-oxidant properties).
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
  • supplying  energy to tissues
  • breaking down and using the energy and nutrients in carbohydrates, proteins and fats
  • nerve function
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • obtaining energy from food
  • making Vit B6 active in the body
  • reducing a key cardiovascular risk factor
  • production of red blood cells and body growth
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • obtaining  energy from food
  • breaking down and using carbohydrates, proteins and fats and their building blocks
  • maintaining healthy skin and nerves
  • releasing  calcium from cellular stores
Pantothenic acid
  • making, hormones, vitamin A and D and substances that help make nerves work
  • helps make new fats and proteins in the body
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • breaking  down,using and reforming the building blocks of proteins
Vitamin B12 (Cyano-cobalamin)
  • normal nerve function
  • normal blood function
Folate
  • breaking down and using the building blocks of proteins
  • the processes of tissue growth and cell function
  • maintaining good heart health
  • preventing neural tube defects in newborns
Biotin
  • breaking down and using the building blocks of fats and proteins
Choline
  • making nerve cell transmitters and cell membranes
  • inflammatory and allergic response
  • healthy kidneys and liver
  • reducing the risk of heart disease
  • fat and cholesterol transport and break down in the body
Vitamin   C (Ascorbic acid)
  • protects against oxidative damage
  • aiding absorption of iron and copper
  • formation of collagen
  • healthy bones
  • helps fight infection
  • helps regenerate and stabilise other vitamins such as vitamin E or folate
Vitamin   D
  • absorption of calcium and phosphorus
  • maintenance of calcium levels in blood
  • immune function
  • healthy skin
  • muscle strength
Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
  • acts as antioxidant particularly for fats
  • keeping heart, circulation, skin and nervous system in good condition
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
  • normal blood clotting
Calcium
  • development and maintenance of bones and teeth
  • good functioning muscles and nerves
  • heart function
Chromium
  • enhancing the action of insulin to regulate blood sugar
Copper
  • the functioning of several enzymes
  • formation of connective tissue
  • iron metabolism and blood cell formation
  • nervous system, immune system and cardiovascular system function
Fluoride
  • healthy teeth and bones
Iodine
  • normal thyroid function (important in the growth and development of central nervous system)
  • energy production
  • oxygen consumption in cells
Iron
  • Haemoglobin in red blood cells (important for transport of oxygen to tissues)
  • component of myoglobin (muscle protein)
Magnesium
  • the functioning of more than 300 enzyme systems
  • energy production
  • regulating potassium levels
  • the use of calcium
  • healthy bones
Manganese
  • healthy bones
  • carbohydrate, cholesterol and protein metabolism
Molybdenum
  • breakdown of proteins
Phosphorus
  • forms part of DNA and RNA
  • buffers the acidity of urine
  • protection of acid/base balance of blood
  • storage and transport of energy
  • helps activate some proteins
Potassium
  • nerve impulses
  • muscle contraction
  • regulates blood pressure
Selenium
  • antioxidant
  • thyroid metabolism
  • part of several functional proteins in body
Sodium
  • maintain water balance throughout the body
  • nerve impulses
  • transport of molecules across cell walls
Zinc
  • component of enzymes that help maintain structure of proteins and regulate gene expression
  • needed for growth, immunity appetite and skin integrity

The Raw Chocolate Brownie

ImageHaving some difficulty deciding on what my first blog post should be I couldn’t go past the ridiculously delicious and ever so simple raw chocolate brownie.

This recipe was adopted from one of my all time favourite blogs and served as a dessert for a dinner party. They were a hit and even enjoyed by my male friends who we all know tend to shrug and grunt whenever the word “raw” or “healthy” is put in front of a menu item.

These brownies are enriched with goodness raw cacao is well documented for its nutritional benefits being very high in antioxidant flavonoids, sulphur and magnesium and its benefits range from reducing cataracts to improving heart function.  Dates (my favourite natural sugar) contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium and can assist when having intestinal issues and a great healthy alternative for when the 3pm sugar craving hits.  Walnuts are packed with omega 3 fatty acids and are rich in fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and a rich source of protein. Almonds, also a star nut is a great source of Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, fibre and are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fat. They contain more calcium than any other nut, which make them great for vegans and anyone with an intolerance to dairy products.

So what are you waiting for get cooking good looking!

Ingredients:


  • 2 cups whole walnuts
  • 2 ½ cups Medjool dates, pitted (store bought dates work as well but soak for 4 hours prior to use)
  • 1 cup raw cacao
  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt

Directions:


  • Place walnuts in food processor and blend on high until the nuts are finely ground.
  • Add the cacao and salt. Pulse to combine.
  • Add the dates one at a time through the feed tube of the food processor while it is running. What you should end up with is a mix that appears rather like cake crumbs, but that when pressed, will easily stick together (if the mixture does not hold together well, add more dates).
  • In a large bowl combine the walnut-cacao mix with the chopped almonds.
  • Press into a lined cake pan or mold. Place in freezer or fridge until ready to serve
  • Serve with dusting of dark chocolate powder and a sprinkle of sea salt.

http://mynewroots.org/site/2011/04/the-raw-brownie-2/.