Monday, 26 January 2015

Sweet Potato, Rice and Quinoa Salad

Fires, devastation, floods and now we have Santos Tour Down Under.

Adelaide is crazy at the moment and it wont stop until April. February and March are taken up with Adelaide Festival of Arts and the Fringe Festival. Oh, and did I mention Adelaide Writers Week?  And, they have kept day light saving well into April too!

How is one supposed to concentrate on food? I suppose when your tummy rumbles it's time to consider making a beeline for the kitchen to make something fast, easy but amazingly tasty and nutritious. No time for baking, pastry making or getting out the ice cream churner!

So here is a little tip; this whole salad will take you 30 minutes to make. It's something really tasty and nutritious and with any luck you will score some left overs for another day. It keeps perfectly well covered in the fridge for a couple of days. Serve with an 'Omelette aux fine herbes' (omelet with herbs) and you have a meal fit for a queen

Sweet Potato, Rice and Quinoa Salad


2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup of low GI brown rice
1/2 cup of Quinoa - I used mixed colours; white, black, red
1 onion finely chopped
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2teaspoon chilli flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 cup of stock or water
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

The rice takes the longest to cook, so once the rice is on, put in your sweet potato and start cooking your quinoa.

Cook rice in whichever way you normally do until it is cooked. I usually use a rice cooker and it takes around 20 -30 minutes. I add salt to the water prior to switching it on. This is the low GI rice I found in the supermarket.

Take an oven proof tray, cover with baking paper and add the chopped sweet potato. Give the potato an nice sprinkling of olive oil and 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and roast in a moderate oven 180º for 30 minutes or until it is cooked and browned on all sides. 

In a fry pad, add 1 teaspoon of oil and add the minced garlic and the onion. Allow to cook until soft and it is just beginning to turn brown around the edges. Add quinoa and stock or water and continue cooking for around 15 - 20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and there is no stock left. I used Coles Tricolour Quinoa for extra colour, but you can use whichever you have available.

Take the potato out of the oven. By now your rice should be cooked and your quinoa should be ready to serve. It is just a matter of putting everything together now.

Add the quinoa and onion mixture to the rice in a nice bowl and stir together. Add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, the red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes. Mix together. Top with the roasted sweet potato a handful of chopped parsley and chives. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to suit. Serve.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Facelift for Your Feet**

How much time and money do you spend on your feet? By that I am referring to pampering rather than how much you spend on shoes.

If you think about how much work our feet do, it is surprising how little attention we pay to them. Advice from my Podiatrist has been invaluable.  Here's a summary;

He believes that all walkers will at some time get an ingrowing toe nail, so keep your toe nails short and in good condition.

Wear breathable socks that have good padding, not too thick and not too thin.

Make sure you have good quality, well fitting shoes. Go to a reputable retailer and get them to fit your shoes properly for you.

Important to have days wearing different shoes to give your feet a rest and to change the pressure points.

Stretching after walking while you are still warm will prevent injuries - yes you need to stretch your feet as well as the rest of your body.

I also asked my Podiatrist to check out how I walk to make sure that my gait was not going to impact more on my knees and hips. We did this by using a treadmill and checking my heel strike and stance over a 10 minute period. He was good enough to pick up that my walking gait was only slightly off and after questioning has put this down to my back problems. However, there were no changes needed and agreed that my walk was not impacting on anything else.

So that's a few pointers worth thinking about before you start.

These are the shoes I bought for walking on and off road Brooks Adrenaline 14 and they are like walking on clouds. A definite good buy!

I have walked a fair distance in them and so far have had no issues. They are still feeling comfy when walking on rough trails or normal city footpaths. As you can see I haven't cleaned them since my last walk in the park 2 days ago! It was rather wet underfoot so I have waited for them to dry off before giving them a good brush.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Clear Vegetable Broth with Soba Noodles and Chilli Tofu

After two weeks of utter stinking hot temperatures and raging bush fires, the weather plunged into the depths of what can only be described as an autumnal week. Rain, fog and high winds.

Native animals have faced the devastation of their environment and food sources with local fires and now they are threatened with flood waters. What ever next? Eucalyptus trees are losing their bark at an alarming rates shredding into strips as the wind picks it up and hurtles it into the streets and on to neighbouring roof tops.

Although there is some compensation; the vegetable patch is enjoying the rain, we might actually get some tomatoes this year now and just yesterday I noticed that the beetroot was showing signs of recovery.

This had led me into thinking that it might be a gentle soup kind of day. Unable to get out and finish the weeding, I decided the pantry needed its annual clean out and right at the back I found two packets of Soba Noodles.

I had planned on making a Green Tofu Curry and had bought Tofu already, but it was time for something a little different.

This soup can be made in stages and when you have a little time in the kitchen you could make the broth/soup a day or couple of days before putting it all together. It makes enough for 4 or 6 people, is easy to adapt for more  or less people and any left over stock can be kept in the freezer for another day.

As you can see I don't worry about getting all the tofu the same size. I just dice it up quickly and throw it in the wok. It all tastes the same anyway.

Clear Vegetable Broth with Soba Noodle and Chilli Tofu 

For 4 people you will need:


Soba noodles
4 cups of water
1 large carrot, very finely sliced
1 onion, very finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, very finely diced
2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
3 spring onions very finely sliced
1 small leek, very finely sliced
Soy Sauce - I use Tamari
a few handfuls of Kale, very finely sliced
1 small tin bamboo shoots
1 lime or lemon
A small bunch of parsley, fresh thyme and bay leaves, tied together with string


350g Firm Tofu
pinch chilli flakes
salt and pepper
zest of a lemon or lime

There are two ways to cook the tofu. Either baked in the oven or in a wok. I prefer to use the wok but it does mean that you need to use a little more oil. I think the tofu is crispier when it is cooked in the wok. However, it is your choice. The preparation is the same.

Take the firm tofu and dry it with paper towel. Cut it into cubes and sprinkle liberally with salt, chilli flakes and the zest of the lime or lemon. Using your hands gently rub the marinade into the tofu and set aside for about one hour.

To make the broth, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan and on a very low heat cook the garlic and onion until the edge start to turn brown. This will take about 8 minutes. Add celery, carrot and leek and mix this around for a few minutes until they start to caramelise. Then add 4 cups of water, salt and pepper and the herb bundle.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat to a very low simmer and cook for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool. Strain out the vegetables, retaining about half of the carrots.

If you wish to bake the tofu,  place on a baking tray, spray with oil and place in a hot oven 190 - 200 degrees/ 350 - 400 until it starts to brown. Turn over and continue to bake. This will all take around 30 - 40 minutes. Or if you have decided to fry using a wok, add oil and cook in batches until brown and crunchy.

Boil a large pan of water, add a pinch of salt and add the soba noodles. Bring back to the boil then simmer for  around 15 minutes , but check the label for cooking times. While these are cooking, heat up your broth, adding the bamboo shoots.

To assemble;

Once the noodles are cooked, add a small quantity to each serving bowl. Divide the tofu equally into each bowl. Divide the kale between bowls and then using a ladle, add broth to each bowl. Squeeze with lime or lemon juice, a teaspoon of soy sauce and a sprinkling of spring onions. Serve.

You may wish to adjust the seasonings with additional salt and adding a wedge of lime or lemon.

This is so heartwarming, low calorie, high protein and so full of goodness it will put a rosy glow on your cheeks and a smile on your face.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A New Year - Time for Salads

Happy New Year to you all. A big THANK YOU, to everyone that has been so supportive over the last 12 months especially my family and friends and the many visitors and comments from people I do not know. 

Winners of the Birthday Celebration Cook Book Give Away are: -

Diana from Geelong, Victoria - the 'Organic Book' is on its way and Malcolm from Plympton, South Australia - just posted 'Spain,' to you - enjoy! Thanks to all of you that entered, it was fun selecting winners!

I hope you had a great Christmas, Hanukkah, festive holiday or just plain absence from work. Are you enjoying the sunny summer in the southern hemisphere or skiing, log fires and Gluhwein in the north? Either way I hope you have safe and happy holidays and a great 2015!

I spent a lovely Christmas with my family in the mountains near Sydney - it was hot, rainy, foggy and cold ,all in one day! Here's a few photos showing how lovely the area is. We stayed at this place, nice, comfortable and plenty of room to spread out.

 Foggy start to the morning, Blue Mountains

Echo Point, Katoomba at dawn

Dawn, Echo Point, Katoomba 

Sunlight on a Banksia

Planning 2015 things to do! Do you make a list every year, month, week? I love lists, they keep me focussed. I haven't yet got into lists of lists, but maybe one day I will get that crazy!

In 2015, I plan on spending more me time with my cameras. Time to play, explore and have fun.

The gym will also be seeing me a lot more - gosh, that sounds like a chore - but it isn't really!  Then there is food! Yes of course I will be spending more time testing out ideas and recipes. But I am back into a 5:2 fasting period, so I will be posting a few photos of what I eat on my 500 calorie days.

But enough about that. We needed a salad in a hurry over Christmas, this is what I came up with. - It has great flavour,  easy to prepare and very low in calories. A good salad to start off the New Year!

Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Pea Salad


1 head of cauliflower

2 cloves garlic crushed
1 brown onion, finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
handful of pine nuts
3 tbls basil, chopped
1 400g tin of chick peas
dash of olive oil
knob of butter
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon

Pre heat oven 180º fan forced/350º degrees.  

Take one cauliflower and slice across it into 4 or 5 slabs and place into a baking dish. I used about 3/4 of  large cauliflower. Add a sprinkling of olive oil, salt and pepper and cinnamon and roast until it has a nice golden colour, approximately 30 - 35 minutes.

Take out of the pan and let it cool.

While the cauliflower is roasting, dry fry the pine nuts until golden and set aside.

Add knob of butter and olive oil to fry pan and add onions and garlic and cook on a very low heat for around 20 -30 minutes or until the onions are golden and caramelised. Set aside.

In a large serving bowl, add drained chick peas, basil, onions and garlic, pine nuts. Break up the cauliflower and add this to the bowl. Adjust seasoning. Add lemon juice, so the cauliflower is pretty tangy.

Add a sprinkling of olive oil and toss thoroughly and you are ready to serve.

Serves 6 as a side salad.