Meal prepping, will I ever get better at it?

Last year was a tough one for me. Being a first time mum, trying to keep the house moderately clean, cooking healthy foods, getting myself out there and keeping in touch with the world it was a juggling act.

There’s one thing I want to do well this year is eat better. Oh I don’t mean going cold turkey and eat healthy raw whole foods everyday (some people are great at it), but it’s not quite the way I’m built! I love foods with flavour and a little spice. I love all the different cuisines and food from all cultures.

I’ve thought about it for sometime and what I need to do well is meal prep and be conscious of the foods I’m choosing.

For example, I love soft drinks. I know it’s bad for me, I’ve heard the facts and I know a can of Coca Cola has 10 teaspoons of sugar. Yikes! But I reach out, knowing fair well it’s bad and do it anyway.

When the week gets crazy and I haven’t had a chance to think about what I’ll make for dinner, it’s off to the roast shop or getting some sort of take out. Because it’s easier. Because I’m lazy. So….. by posting this now, I’m going to commit to eating healthier.

I’ll indulge in my sweets, soft drinks and other naughty foods on occasion. However, What I will do differently is do more meal prepping. If I did this every week and PLANNED ahead, it’s going to reduce the number of times I make an excuse to reach out for bad foods.

Healthy choices.

So with your help, I’d love to know what your favourite freezer meals are that I can cook in batches and freeze. Or main dinner means that take less than 15-20 minutes to smash out.

Pop it in the comments below, even it’s a link to a recipe or something you’ve made before.

It’ll motivate me to get started and I’ll snap pictures of me doing it!

#sharingrecipes #goodfood #healthyeating #familylife #makingtime

Celebrating Lunar New Year 2018

The day before…

Hi everyone, tomorrow is Lunar New Year and for those who don’t know, it’s an important festival and celebration that falls on the first day of the new moon of the new year. Tomorrow is the upcoming, Year of the Dog, Friday 16 February.

I’ve grown up with many traditions but my absolute favourite is coming home to mums place and helping her prepare a feast to honour deities as well as our ancestors (we then share, eat and enjoy home cooked meal, all before the eve). The following day, we go from door to door, visiting our rellies and wishing everyone a happy, longevity, prosperous and wealthy lunar new year.

This year around, my sister and I worked harder to get the preparations going. In the end, the results are pretty spectacular. I honour my family and the long lasting friendships I’ve made throughout this lifetime. Here’s looking at you kid!

Green super juice, no waste

We invested in a juicer a year ago and this summer it’s been getting a work out. The great thing about it, is that it crushes up all the fruit and vegies and comes out compact on the other end that it’s perfect to go into a batter. Whether it’s carrots for carrot cake, this time around I had some pretty great ingredients for a super green juice:

1/2 cucumber
2 cups of spinach
2 cups grapes
1 Apple
2 kiwis

I turned the left over pulp into a savoury pancake and added 1 drop Cumin essential oil to give it a herbaceous flavour. Whoa – looks green, mean and bloody delicious!

I may have eaten more than the little guy, but he didn’t mind it with the cheese.

#homemade #pancakesarethebest #greensmoothie #iron#vitaminsandgoodness #healthyliving #winner

Slow cooker red lentil cauliflower curry

I’ve been wanting to make this for sometime now. My friend Cara had this recipe she used from ‘The Healthy Mummy’ which I’ve taken and adapted to suit me. I don’t usually have red curry paste sitting around so substituting it for mild curry powder was easy. You could also add coconut milk to this but I’m quite happy with the texture and taste without it.

Red lentils have now become a favourite ingredient. You can serve it with white rice, brown rice or quinoa. Why not some naan bread? The extra dollop of yoghurt really helps hit home with a nice creamy taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups of cauliflower (or half a cauliflower) chopped
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 drop of ginger essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 drop of black pepper essential oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground smoke paprika
  • 1 small can of creamed corn
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • Freshly chopped cilantro, for serving
  • Brown rice, white rice, cooked quinoa, farro, or similar for serving
  • Spoonful of natural yoghurt

Instructions
  1. Place the lentils in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Add the onions, garlic, cauliflower, ginger essential oil, black pepper essential oil, curry powder, salt, turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, and then stir to combine.
  2. Pour the tomato puree over the top of the cauliflower and lentils. Pour 3 cups of vegetable stock over the slow cooker ingredients so that they are covered with liquid. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours, until the lentils are soft.
  3. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or farro, topped with fresh cilantro and a spoonful of natural yoghurt. Enjoy!

Golden crispy pan fried Gyoza

Gyozas are one of my favourite dishes to make and it’s so easy once you get the hang of pleating many. The other day, I invited our mothers group to my place for lunch and made Gyozas! There are many different recipes on the internet and various ingredients to substitute with. The version I’ve got here is lovely because of the little crunch you get from the water chestnuts. You can also use a cup of cabbage or bamboo shoots, but water chestnuts is just simply divine! I’ve also included a vegan version below too.

Meat Filling

Ingredients: 500g chicken mince, 200g can of water chestnuts, 2 spring onions finely chopped, ginger essential oil (toothpick) or 2tsp of minced ginger, 1 small garlic clove finely chopped, 1 tsp caster sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, salt / pepper to taste, 30 pack gyozas, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, ½ chicken stock (or water), soy sauce to serve

Vegan Filling

Ingredients: 10 button mushrooms, ½ can 200g of water chestnuts, handful of green beans thinly sliced and chopped, 2 spring onions finely chopped, 1 small garlic clove finely chopped, 1 tsp caster sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, salt / pepper to taste, 30 pack gyozas, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, ½ cup water, sesame oil to serve (optional: grated carrots, chopped bamboo shoots, shredded cabbage).

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken mince, finely chopped green onions, minced ginger (or using a tooth pick, dip into ginger essential oil and dip into mixture – it’s very pungent so 1 drop will be too much), garlic, finely chopped water chestnuts, sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper in bowl.

 

  1. Place a gyoza wrapper on a clean work surface. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of chicken mixture on to the centre of the wrapper. Brush the edge with a little water. Use your fingertips to pleat the edge 4-5 times. Fold over to enclose the filling. Place on a plate. Repeat with remaining mix and wrappers.

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large fry pan over high heat until just smoking. Remove from heat. Arrange the dumplings over the base of the pan. Return to heat and cook for 2 minutes or until the base of the dumplings are golden. Pour ½ cup chicken stock over the gyoza, cover with a lid (careful, it might splatter!). Cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes or until gyozas are cooked through and water has evaporated. Add a couple of drops of sesame oil, spread around pan and allow gyoza to get crispy. Remove from heat and set aside for 2 minutes.
  1. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with green onions. Serve immediately with soy sauce.

 

Porcupine Meat Balls

The other day, I asked Dusty for a list of favourite meals he’d like me to cook up. This included Porcupine Meat Balls and my first reaction was…. ‘what is that?’. Not long ago, his mum also made some of these and I think it triggered some childhood memories of simple delicious home cooked meals that won’t break a budget. All I can say is…. OH WOW! It’s incredible how much flavour there is! While it was easy to want to devour the whole lot, I saved us a doggie bag for next time and froze the rest off. This is definitely finger lickin’ goodness.

Ingredients

420g concentrated tomato soup (I got the Heinz one); 500g beef mince; 1 brown onion grated; 1/2 cup of long grain rice (rinsed); 2 garlic cloves crushed; 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley chopped; 2 drops of basil; 2 drops of oregano and steam veggies to go with it.

Instructions

  • Place soup and 1 3/4 cups cold water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil.

  • Meanwhile, combine mince, onion, rice, garlic and parsley in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Using 1 tablespoonful mixture at a time, roll mixture into balls.

  • Add meatballs to boiling soup. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until rice tender and meatballs cooked through. Stir through 2 drops of basil and 2 drops of oregano essential oils. Serve with mashed potato and other steamed vegetables.

Sue’s Famous Mediterranean Chicken Bake

A couple of weeks ago, we were so lucky to have the in-laws visit from Adelaide. This is Dusty’s mum’s famous dish. It’s always a favourite, comes out perfect and there is NEVER any left overs! The chicken’s tender, the potatoes crispy but soft on the inside and oh, I love the lemon that sits at the very bottom soaking up all the juices. Nom, nom, nom! I’ve included the use of essential oils in this one and it came out amazing!

Ingredients

6 chicken thigh skin off, 4 small potatoes, 2 tomatoes, 2 lemons, 2 cloves of garlic, ½ cup black olives pitted, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 drops Rosemary essential oil, 4 drops Lemon essential oil.

Instructions

Preheat the oven 220 degrees celsius. Slice 1 whole lemon and line the casserole dish. Slice chicken thigh in half and score thickest parts of meat. Line evenly in the casserole dish on top of the lemon slices. In a mixing bowl, add cubed potatoes (skin on), tomato in quarters, finely chopped garlic, ½ cup of black olives, juice of 1 lemon, grate half lemon rind, rosemary & lemon essential oils, salt, pepper to taste and olive oil. Mix well and add fill up the casserole dish covering the chicken. Put in oven and cook for 1.5 hours.

 

Steam BBQ pork buns

Last weekend, I made steam BBQ pork buns. It’s a rare treat as I don’t often make it and really missed authentic Vietnamese home cooking. It spurred me to get the steamer out and make something delicious! I’ve added a drop of ginger essential oil to help cut through all the sweet & saltiness of this dish. Try it, you’ll be surprised!

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder

For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots or red onion
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 drop of ginger essential oil
  • 1½ cup sliced pork belly

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment (you can also just use a regular mixing bowl and knead by hand), dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Sift together the flour and corn starch, and add it to the yeast mixture along with the sugar and oil. Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting and let it go until a smooth dough ball is formed. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 2 hours.
  2. While the dough is resting, make the meat filling. Heat the oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for a minute. Add in sliced pork belly and fry until cooked. Turn heat down to medium-low, and add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy. Stir and cook until the mixture starts to bubble up. Add the chicken stock and flour, cooking for a couple minutes until thickened. Set aside to cool. Add 1 drop of ginger essential oil and stir through while it’s cooling down. If you make the filling ahead of time, cover and refrigerate to prevent it from drying out. A neat trick is to also take a pair of scissors and cut up the meat so that it’s little bit sizes too.
  3. After the dough has rested for 2 hours, add the baking powder to the dough and turn the mixer on to the lowest setting. At this point, if the dough looks dry or you’re having trouble incorporating the baking powder, add 1-2 teaspoons water. Gently knead the dough until it becomes smooth again. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, get a large piece of parchment paper and cut it into ten 8cm squares. Prepare your steamer by bringing the water to a boil.
  4. Now we are ready to assemble the buns: roll the dough into a long tube and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Press each piece of dough into a disc about 4½ inches in diameter (it should be thicker in the centre and thinner around the edges). Add some filling and pleat the buns until they’re closed on top.
  5. Place each bun on a parchment paper square, and steam. I steamed the buns in two separate batches using a metal pot steamer (be sure the boiling water does not touch the buns during steaming process). You can use the wooden steamers too! Once the water boils, place the buns in the steamer and steam each batch for 12 minutes over high heat.