Warming Prawn Curry — with Turmeric and Coconut

There’s something beautifully familiar about a Le Creuset casserole bubbling away on the stove. When two of my very best friends gave me my first ever cast-iron casserole, they called it ‘the heart of the household’ and they couldn’t be more right. If the kitchen is filled with the smell of a delicious something cooking away, it’s impossible not to feel completely relaxed and at home.

This winter warmer is perfect for the cooler months, and can be cooked in either the shallow or deep casserole. Or even the skillet. The most important thing for me is to cook with cast iron—it heats evenly and cooks perfectly.

Bonus points if you serve this dish in the Nature’s Kitchen kale colourway to complement the mountain of herbs that I can’t help but pile on everything!

Created for Le Creuset, using their new Nature's Kitchen collection.

Serves 4.

Recipe 2.jpg

Ingredients

24 large prawns, shelled and deveined, with tails

2 tb coconut oil, melted

8 golden shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tb finely grated ginger

2 coriander roots, finely sliced

1 lemongrass stalk, white portion finely chopped

2 long red chillies, stems removed

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp tamarind paste

12 curry leaves

400ml coconut cream

½ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

1 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into ribbons

1 lime, cut into quarters

large handful each fresh coriander, mint, and Thai basil

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Method

1)    Combine the shallots, ginger, garlic, coriander root, lemongrass, and chillies in a food processor along with one tablespoon of melted coconut oil, and process until it forms a thick paste.

2)    Add the remaining oil to your Le Creuset casserole (or round skillet) over a medium heat. Allow to get nice and hot before adding the curry leaves and frying for 30-40 seconds, or until they get crispy. Remove them with tongs, and place on paper towel to drain.

3)    Pour in the paste and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring continuously, until nice and fragrant. Add the turmeric and tamarind paste, and cook for a further minute.

4)    Add your coconut cream, stir well, and bring to a simmer.

5)    Place your prawns and half the curry leaves into the dish, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until prawns are cooked through.

6)    Serve over wild or long-grain rice with plenty of shredded coconut, cucumber, fresh herbs, and the remaining fried curry leaves. Squeeze a lime quarter over the top and season to taste before you dig in.



How to Meal Prep Like a Boss

You’re killing it at work. You get to the gym most days. Still though, you’re not quite on top of your health the way you’d like to be. Sure, you know you could be eating better, but therein lies the struggle: how do you fit healthy eating into an already hectic schedule?

With a little preparation, you can get on top of diet for good, plus save some money along the way. Read on as I break down my own weekly food prep habits. 

 

1)    Turn it into an appointment. 

With busy work schedules, family demands, and a social life to maintain, it’s easy to see how healthy eating can slip down the to-do list. The only solution? Make it a priority. Food prep will never do itself, and if we’re honest our busy lifestyles are unlikely to get less busy any time soon.

 

The way I do it is to book food prep in as an appointment on my phone, just like any other. That way there’s no way to “accidentally” agree to something more fun. For me, it’s 2-4pm on a Sunday. By then I’ve already had my Sunday brunch with a friend, and it leaves me free to make evening plans to see out the last bit of the weekend.

 

Then I stick to it.

 

2)    Choose two proteins, four veggies, and a whole grain.

Don’t make it more complex than it needs to be. An easy way to remember how to build a balanced meal is the 50:25:25 rule. Your plate (or container) should be 50% colourful vegetables, 25% healthy whole grains, and 25% protein source. It’s also important to eat a varied diet, so I suggest having a few options. That way you’re not eating the same thing all week long.

 

Lastly, find simple ways to make your meals—especially the vegetables—taste exciting, so that you’re actually looking forward to them. Herbs, spices, and different cooking techniques can help you here.

Meal Prep GROW.jpg

 

3)    Cook things with similar methods at once to save time.

This one just makes sense, but streamlining the cooking process saves time and makes food prep a less daunting task.

 

Here’s what my prep looked like for this week:

 

Protein #1: Chicken tenderloins coated in olive oil, smoked paprika, and loads of black pepper. I cooked them on a heavy iron griddle, but you could barbecue them too. There’s no need for extra oil when you’re cooking them.

 

Protein #2: Salmon fillets, simply grilled and then given a squeeze of lemon. Eat these early in the week, as they won’t keep as well as other meats. After they were done, I kept the grill on for my first two veggie dishes.

 

Vegetable #1: I prefer my broccolini charred rather than steamed. I coated mine in olive oil, plus a few cloves of crushed garlic and a thinly sliced red chilli, then cooked it under a medium grill until done. If you really want to get fancy, you could sprinkle it with some sesame seeds afterwards—yum!

 

Vegetable #2: I put whole red capsicums under the grill just as they are, then turned them once the skin was black and blistered. Once all four sides were done and I’d left them to cool, I peeled off the skin, scooped out the seeds, and thickly sliced the flesh.

 

Vegetable #3: I was finished with the grill now, so instead turned the oven to a medium heat. I then roasted some skin-on slices of butternut pumpkin that had been coated with a little olive oil and sprinkled with dukkah.

 

Vegetable #4: Let’s face it: steamed cauliflower can be boring. Instead, coat the florets in a little olive oil and a generous sprinkling of turmeric, then roast them at the same time as the pumpkin. It takes on a much richer and more delicious flavour like this.

 

Grain: To make my brown rice more exciting, I cook it in a 50:50 mix of chicken stock and water.

 

4)    Piece it all together.

You’ve got the pieces of the puzzle, now put your meals together. Mix and match things the way you like them; they don’t all have to be the same as long as you follow the 50:25:25 rule.

 

Don’t fret if you don’t have ten or fifteen individual containers to split your meals into. You can also store each different mix-and-match ingredients in the fridge, and then put together your meal in your container as you’re on your way out the door each day.

 

You may even want to freeze half of it and then reheat it on Wednesday or Thursday.

 

It’s that easy! Do the grunt work on a Sunday, and the rest of your week is sorted. No more dodgy takeaway lunches or after-work binge dinners.

 

This blog post was written in conjunction with my mates at Grow Super, to help you take charge of your personal health—as well as your financial health.



 

 

The Lowdown on Intermittent Fasting

What is it? What should you expect? And is it worth it?

IMG_1249.jpg

 

Since boldly announcing my grand plan to hit reset on my heath using intermittent fasting, I’ve been inundated questions on social media: how long do I fast for, and how often? Is it sustainable? Does it even work? So I decided to write this little blog to explain what I’m up to, and to take a look at the research behind this wellness trend.

 

My decision to give intermittent fasting another go (I first tried it five or six years ago) was pretty simple: I had enjoyed my summer of backyard barbecues, birthday celebrations, and holiday festivities—with maybe a few more wines than I was used to. I was still working out and eating reasonably well, but I just wasn’t quite as consistent as I usually would be, and it left me feeling a bit ‘blergh’. That’s the scientific term.

 

So I decided to give the 16:8 version of intermittent fasting, also called time-restricted feeding or TRF, another go. Let’s face it: I was 24 last time I did it, so looking and feeling healthy came without too much effort. This time, post the big 3-0, was going to be the real test. I made a deal with myself to do it for twelve weeks, and that by the time I return to New York in June, I should know whether it’s something I want to maintain.

 

My guidelines:

 

-       Eat my usual healthy diet (yep, that means no reduction in calories or changes in protein, carbohydrate, or fat intake) but restrict my eating hours to eight in a day. That leaves sixteen hours of fasting. Most people opt to eat only between midday and 8pm, but I go bonkers without breakfast, so I chose 9am-5pm.

-       Use this 16:8 fasting protocol for starting on Sunday evening, and finishing on Friday morning each week. That gives me five fasts throughout the week, then the weekend to relax a little around food and enjoy a few meals out with friends.

-       Eliminate alcohol consumption for twelve weeks. This includes weekends.

-       Undertake two HIIT (high-intensity interval) workouts, two 5km runs, and 3-4 resistance training sessions at the gym each week.

 

The research:

 

Intermittent fasting is attracting a lot of attention lately because there is some really solid research to back it up as a sustainable and effective method of fat loss. One study that looked at healthy resistance-trained males found that over eight weeks of TRF, their body fat was reduced considerably more than those who ate the same diet without fasting. Muscle mass was retained in both groups.

 

There are also early signs that suggest different forms of intermittent fasting (not necessarily TRF) may be an effective anti-aging approach. Watch this space!

 

 

My experience:

 

I’m on week five of twelve and can confidently say that I’m loving it. My upper body looks considerably leaner and more defined, but the scales say I’ve actually put on two kilograms. My goal was to lose body fat but retain hard-earned muscle tissue. So while weight isn’t a perfect measure, it is promising.

 

I’ve also noticed a huge change in my skin. This is likely down to the reduction of alcohol on weekends, but whatever it is I’m very happy with it! People have commented how clear and fresh I look, and I’ve even been told my eyes are brighter.

 

Most importantly, I still feel good on this plan. I haven’t noticed any difference in my sleep or energy levels, but both of those were pretty good to begin with anyway—good gut health is key to managing those concerns! But my appetite and energy have remained normal so far. The final few hours of a fast can be a bit of a pain (I’m usually watching the clock and waiting until I can eat again) but as soon as I’ve had my first meal, I feel completely satisfied. There’s no temptation to binge, and no cravings. Again, this is only my personal experience, but I was surprised how much my appetite normalised and adapted to TRF after the first week.

 

Will I continue?

 

Absolutely! I’ll see the rest of the twelve weeks out, and then decide how to keep it as a piece of my overall approach to health. I’m not a believer in yo-yo dieting, so any health plan should be something you can implement in a sustainable way. At this stage, I’m thinking it might be a matter of using TRF Monday-Wednesday. Let me know if you’d like an update on my maintenance plan!

 

­NB: Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Feeding may not be for everybody. This is my experience, but you should always check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before commencing any new diet plan. 

 



Golden-Spiced Cauliflower Salad

I'll admit it: I used to think of cauliflower as being among the saddest of vegetables. It was bland. It was boring. That is until I put the steamer to one side and roasted it instead. Now it's my FAVOURITE! The flavours are just so much richer when you roast it until it's brown and almost caramelised. I'm a big fan, and it's so healthy too!

In this recipe, I combine it with loads of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spices, a mountain of fresh herbs (I use them more like a salad green than a garnish) and sweet little beads of pomegranate. All that is rounded out with a simple yoghurt, garlic, and lime dressing—delicious!

Serves four, with each serve providing 330kcal, 17g protein, 15g carbohydrate, and 14g unsaturated 'good' fats.

IMG_1569.JPG

Ingredients

1 medium cauliflower, rinsed and cut into florets

80g flaked almonds

150g Greek yoghurt

flesh of one pomegranate

1 1/2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tb turmeric powder

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tb extra virgin olive oil

1 tb fresh lime juice

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Method

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or 180 fan-forced).

2) Place a small frypan over a medium heat and dry-roast the coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds for 60 seconds or until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and process until fine.

3) Combine this spice mix with turmeric and pour over the cauliflower in a bowl. Pour over the olive oil and use your hands to mix together and make sure everything is well coated.

4) Transfer to a roasting tray and place in the oven for an hour, or until browned.

5) Remove from oven, place the cauliflower in a bowl, and reduce heat to 150 degrees Celsius.

6) Scatter the almond flakes over a clean roasting tray and place in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove and leave to cool.

7) In a serving bowl, combine the golden-spiced cauliflower with the fresh herbs, almonds, and pomegranate.

8) Add the lime juice, garlic, sea salt, and pepper to the yoghurt and mix well.

9) Pour over the yoghurt dressing and toss well before serving. Enjoy!



Almond, Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Protein Truffles

Got a sweet tooth but want to make sure your treats also pack a nutritional punch? These choc truffles are delicious, easy to make, and are a great go-to protein hit after a workout...or just whenever, really.

Each truffle is 133 calories, and contains 6 grams of protein but only 3 grams of sugar. Makes 8.

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup chocolate-flavoured whey protein (or plant-based alternative)

1/3 cup almond butter

1/4 cup almond meal

1 tb chia seeds

2 tb water

1 tsp vanilla extract (or contents of one vanilla pod, scraped)

90g sugar-free dark chocolate

pinch sea salt

IMG_1390.JPG

 

Method

1) Combine the whey protein, almond meal, and chia seeds in a large bowl.

2) Add the almond butter, vanilla, and water. Stir until well combined.

3) Use your hands to roll the mixture into eight balls of roughly even sizes.

4) Refrigerate for one hour, or pop in the freezer for twenty minutes, until firm.

5) Place a glass bowl over a saucepan containing a little water, to create a double boiler. Chop up the chocolate and place in the bowl. Over a medium heat, melt the chocolate.

6) One at a time, and using skewers, coat the protein balls in melted chocolate. Sprinkle with a little sea salt, then place on a clean plate and put them straight back into the fridge to set.

An alternative to the sea salt is a few slivered almonds, flaked almonds, or even a whole one. Enjoy!


 

 

 

Chicken & Butternut Pumpkin Tagine

I'm calling this a tagine, but it may technically not actually be one since I don't actually own or cook it in one of the dishes that give the dish its name. But I love those Northern African flavours, and that's what this recipe is all about. Bold, warming, and totally delicious, I cook this on the stove in one of my trusty cast-iron pots.

I made this initially with a friend a few weeks ago. He's on a lower FODMAP diet so we had to avoid onions and garlic completely. Instead, some freshly chopped spring onions at the end lend a similar flavour. If you don't have preserved lemons on hand (they aren't always easy to find in the shops, either) you can omit that ingredient. The squeeze of fresh lemon at the end brings it all together, so that'll do the trick anyway.

Makes four serves, with each serve (including quinoa) delivering 712kcal., 55g. protein, 34g. fat (only 6g of which is saturated), and 40g. carbohydrate. Have a smaller serve or enjoy without quinoa if you want to keep it a little lighter.

IMG_1265.JPG

Ingredients

6 skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed

1/2 small butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2x2cm cubes

2 tb extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chicken stock

1 tin (400g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

100g dried apricots, halved

75g green olives, pitted

1/3 cup slivered almonds

2 tsp honey

3-4 spring onions, thinly sliced (green parts only)

large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

peel of 1/4 preserved lemon, thinly sliced

2 cinnamon sticks

1 bay leaf

4 cardamom pods

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander seeds

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1 lemon, quartered, to serve

 

IMG_0999.JPG

Method

1) Coat the chicken thighs in one tablespoon olive oil, and the turmeric, coriander seeds, ginger, paprika, and nutmeg. Season with sea salt and pepper, then coat well using your hands. Leave to come to room temperature before cooking.

2) Over a medium-high heat, seal the chicken thighs by cooking for two minutes on each side in a heavy-bottomed, cast iron pot. Remove the thighs and leave to one side.

3) Add the cubed pumpkin and other tablespoon of oil to the pot. Cook for five minutes, stirring regularly. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pumpkin, and place in a bowl to one side. Leave the remaining oil in the pot.

4) Thickly slice the chicken thighs. They'll still be uncooked in the middle, but that's okay because they're going straight back into the pot now, along with the bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and honey. Cover with the chicken stock and stir well, then reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer with the lid on for fifteen minutes. The chicken should now be well cooked through.

5) Return the pumpkin to the pot, along with the chickpeas, olives, dried apricots, and preserved lemon peel. Stir through to combine all ingredients, replace the lid, and cook for another ten minutes.

6) Meanwhile, preheat a fan forced oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Spread the almonds over a baking tray and cook for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven.

7) Taste your tagine, and season with sea salt and pepper according to your tastes. Take off the heat, then remove the cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, and cardamom pods (if you can find them!) before stirring through the fresh coriander, parsley, and spring onion.

8) Serve on a bed of quinoa (or mash) and top with a sprinkling of the roasted slivered almonds. Squeeze the juice of a lemon wedge over the dish, and enjoy!


The Best Financial Decisions I Made in My Twenties

Plus one of the worst.

 

            Last month, it finally happened. I passed the ominous checkpoint that had been looming on the horizon. You know, the one that makes you question just whether or not you’ve successfully morphed into a ‘proper’ adult. I turned thirty.

            Spoiler alert: I do not feel like a proper adult. But now that it’s come to it, I don’t think anyone really does. It was enormously reassuring to speak to friends and learn that everybody has their doubts—even the ones that, from an outsider’s perspective, look like they had the whole ‘grown up’ thing down pat.

            As it turns out, there isn’t a wisdom fairy who pops by on the eve of your thirtieth birthday, to deliver the skills you’ll need for the next decade. Nope, you wake up just feeling twenty-nine years and three-hundred-and-sixty-six days old. And for the most part it’s pretty great.

            It did, however, make me stop and seriously consider all things money-related. What had I done right so far? What had I messed up? And what could I change to make my financial future more secure?

 

The Good

 

I started a savings account with a second bank.

 

For many of us, our mid-twenties are when we start making ‘proper’ money. We’ve completed some form of study or training by then, done our time working part-time gigs, and finally got a job in the field we’re interested in—or, in my case, started a small business.

But it took me until my late twenties until I had a proper salary and had enough disposable income to enjoy the kind of lifestyle I wanted. But what about saving for my future? While I admit that I didn’t do this perfectly, I did do it.

I set up an account with a bank other than the one I did my usual personal and business banking with. Why a different bank? Because it meant a three-day delay on any transfers. It was the digital equivalent of freezing my credit card in a giant ice block: it meant that I couldn’t draw from it on a whim.

I still had a savings for short-term goals like travel, but this second account was dedicated for ‘the long haul’. By putting it out of reach, it meant that I couldn’t blow it all on impulse purchases.

Is it as much as I would like to have saved? No, not yet. But it is something.

 

I sold my car—and got out of the office more.

 

            I live in an inner-city, walkable area. My gym, grocery store, and workplace are all within walking distance of my apartment. Besides, with the arrival of car share and ridesharing services, I could have the best of both worlds. I added up how much it cost to keep and use a car of my own, then calculated how much I’d save by taking advantage of the sharing economy instead. It was a lot, so the car went.

            This sent me on a mission to consider what other ‘essentials’ I didn’t need. I realised I only really needed a physical office space for one or two days of the week, and so went on to find a flexible and casual arrangement for my clinic set up. All of my other work could be done from the local library or my favourite café.

growpic.jpg

 

I finally took my superannuation seriously.

 

Admittedly, this one took me until I was twenty-nine to get right. That’s when I was introduced to Grow Super. Until then, my superannuation was something I’d theoretically get to ‘when I had the time’. But I never did. I always found more pressing priorities. Which is ridiculous, because it’s my future retirement we’re talking about.

That all changed when I realised I could get involved with my superannuation through my smartphone. Like nearly everything else in daily life, my super now had an app! Suddenly, I could see exactly how much I had stored away for the future, easily make personal contributions using the round ups feature, and choose where I wanted my money invested. One-click consolidation pulled all my older accounts into one place as well. Easy!

 

The Bad

 

I didn’t do my research.

 

I’ll admit it, I didn’t realise until recently just how much I’m overpaying on the basics. From credit card and business loan interest rates to health insurance premiums, I didn’t do enough research. I lazily assumed that they were all roughly the same, and then got a shock when I tallied up all my unnecessary expenditure.

I guess fixing that will be my goal for my thirtieth year then. 



Leafy Greens Super Salad plus Thompson’s Hemp Seed Oil

Naturopaths often recommend certain leafy green veggies like watercress, kale, and rocket to stimulate sluggish digestion. I’ve used rocket this time, but you could really substitute in any of your favourites. I also avoided any high-FODMAP ingredients, meaning that this gut-loving recipe is suitable for most sensitive tummies. Of course, it’s supercharged with Thompson’s Hemp Seed Oil for omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fats. Enjoy!

 

Serves two as a main (full serve) or four as a side. Each full serve delivering 250kcal, 9g protein, 18g fat, and 8g carbohydrates (6g of which is sugar).

 

Ingredients

 

60g baby rocket

1 zucchini, thickly sliced

14 asparagus spears, trimmed

100g snow peas, trimmed

50g pea sprouts

4 spring onions, green part only, thinly sliced

½ avocado, peeled and sliced

handful mint, roughly chopped

handful dill, roughly chopped

handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

juice of ½ lemon

2 tsp Thompson’s hemp seed oil

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp ground cumin

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

pinch Thompson’s hemp seeds, to serve

 

Method

 

1)    Combine the snow peas, asparagus, and zucchini slices in a bowl with the olive oil. Combine well with your hands to coat, then lay out evenly over a baking tray.

2)    Grill for 3-4 minutes under a medium-high grill, or until lightly charred. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3)    In a salad bowl, combine your rocket with the grilled vegetables, sprouts, spring onions, mint, dill, and parsley.

4)    In a small jar or bowl, combine the Thompson’s Hhemp Sseed Ooil with the lemon juice and cumin.

5)    Pour dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

6)    Top with avocado slices, then sprinkle with Thompson’s hemp seeds prior to serving.

 

This recipe was produced for Thompson’s Nutrition using their new hemp food range, now available to sample at pharmacies and health foods stores. Click here to learn more about #healthyhemp.


Healthy Hemp Hits Shelves in Australia

What’s set to become possibly the biggest superfood trend for 2018 has arrived in Australia — and it was a long time coming.

 Hemp foods have been widely available for our friends in Canada, Germany, Japan, and the United States for years now, but it took us a little while to catch up. That all changed in November though, when Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) permitted low THC hemp seed foods for sale down under. Until then, our farmers had been able to grow the plant, but only for the use of the fibres in the clothing and textiles industries. Now, at last, the seeds can be harvested and used as food.

The news was greeted with much enthusiasm by health and fitness aficionados, due in no small part to hemp’s impressive nutrition credentials. Made up of over one third polyunsaturated fats, hemp is particularly rich in essential fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6 and Omega-9.

Another third of the seed is protein, and contains essential amino acids. This makes hemp a great source of protein, as well as being low allergenic and easy to digest, making it a good alternative option to other vegan protein sources available.

Add in the dose of fibre, making it a wholefood superstar, and you’ve got a newcomer that is very deserving of its place in pantries everywhere.

And it’s not just personal health worth considering, but environmental health too. Hemp is an exciting prospect for Aussie farmers, as it’s a fast-growing plant that doesn’t need a whole lot of water to thrive.

So if hemp is the nutritional powerhouse we know that it is, what took it so long to be given the green light? The answer is simple: misunderstanding. There was concern around whether hemp seeds would affect one’s state of mind when consumed. Hemp seeds grown for consumption however—like those contained in the Thompson’s Hemp range—are assessed to ensure they are low in the chemical THC. This means they will not affect one’s mental state or function, so low THC hemp seeds have been given the tick of approval for sale, providing Australia with a healthy and versatile food source.

If you’re new to hemp, you’ll find the whole seeds a great place to start. Their nutty flavour means they lend themselves perfectly to being used as a delicious smoothie topper, or being sprinkled over your favourite salad. And while you’re making that salad, why not try dressing it with a little hemp oil for a dose of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fats?

Most versatile of all though, is perhaps the wholefood hemp powder. Apart from being a potential substitute for brown rice or pea proteins, these powders also lend themselves for inclusion into your favourite healthy baking recipes—and of course, are suitable for vegans and vegetarians!

Thompson’s has released a top-quality range that includes all of the above—seeds, cold-pressed oil, as well as flavoured (chocolate) and unflavoured wholefood powders—which appeared on the shelves of Aussie pharmacies and health food stores last month, where you can head to trial the range. If you haven’t tried it yet, now might just be the time to stock up on what has been dubbed ‘one of the most nutritious plants in the world.’

Head to thompsonsnutrition.com.au for more information, and get ready for the hype around hemp to begin.

 

References

1. J C Callaway 2004, Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview, Euphytica 140(1-2):65-72, available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10681-004-4811-6. Accessed 19 February 2018.

2. Food Standards Australia New Zealand 2017, Australian, New Zealand and international hemp regulations (at Approval) – Application A10339: Low TCH Hemp as a Food, available at: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/documents/A1039_SD5.pdf. Accessed 19 February 2018.

3.   NHMRC - Australian Government - Nutrient Reference values for Australia and NZ (including RDI) https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n35-n36-n37



Black Bean & Hemp Burgers

Plant-based, protein-packed, and totally delicious; these burger patties are almost too good to be true. I’ve added a hearty dose of Thompson’s Hemp Seeds to supercharge the recipe with polyunsaturated fats and gut-loving fibre.

 

Enjoy with your favourite salad, or turn into a vegan burger with all your favourite fillings. Makes four serves of two burgers (8 burgers in total). Each serve containing 18g protein, 8g fat, and 60g carbohydrates (5g of which is sugar).

IMG_0127.JPG

 

Ingredients

 

2 cups tinned organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup gluten-free flour

½ cup Thompson’s hemp seeds

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

1 red onion, peeled and finely diced

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground paprika

1 tb coconut oil, melted

juice of half a medium lemon

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Method

 

1)    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2)    In a food processor or blender, process the black beans and coconut oil until they form a thick paste. It’s ok if there are some chunks or whole beans — in fact, it’s better because it adds texture!

3)    In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, Thompson’s hemp seeds, cumin, and paprika. Combine well.

4)    Add the black bean and coconut oil mixture, plus the lemon juice, carrot, onion, garlic, and parsley. Use clean hands to mix it all together. Season with salt and pepper, and give one last mix.

5)    Form eight evenly sized patties in your hand, and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

6)    Cook for twenty minutes, then turn them over and cook for another twenty until cooked.

7)    If you like them crunchy and brown (I do!) you may want to finish them off under a high grill for 1-2 minutes. Keep an eye on the so you don’t burn all your hard work.

8)    Remove from the oven, leave to cool slight, and serve. Or, refrigerate for later!

 

This recipe was produced for Thompson’s Nutrition using their new hemp range, now available at pharmacies and health foods stores. Click here to learn more about #healthyhemp



Summer Bircher

Grains are making a comeback, and rightly so. After a good few years of whole grains being shunned by parts of the health community, we're starting to see a return to what we already knew: that grains are good for us. The soluble, prebiotic fibres in this recipe (like pectin) preferentially feed our good bacteria and make them thrive. Beta-glucan fibres in oats bind excess cholesterol and help keep our heart happy.

This tropical-tasting bircher is easy to make in advance and then simply plate it up with fresh fruit each morning before you race out the door. Or make individual serves in jars so you can take it with you to the office. No excuse not to get a wholesome brekkie into you now! Makes four serves, each containing Xcal and Xg fibre.

IMG_2469.JPG

 

Ingredients

3 cups whole rolled oats

2 medium pink lady apples, grated

1 1/2 cups coconut yoghurt

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup flaked almonds

1/4 cup shredded coconut

To top:

Mango, peeled and cubed

Whole blueberries

Strawberries, sliced

Pepitas

Shredded coconut

Baby mint leaves

 

Method

1. Combine all the ingredients (except the toppings) in a large Tupperware container. Make sure they are stirred together well.

2. Replace lid and refrigerate overnight.

3. To serve, take a quarter of the overnight oat mix and place in a bowl. Generously top with the suggested toppings, or pick and choose your own favourites instead!



How Reconnecting With Nature Can Improve Your Health

The antidote to stressful, sedentary lives might be as simple as getting outside and into nature — even if it’s for as little as twenty minutes!

Originally posted at Lilydale Free Range.

 

IMG_1834_Facetune_10-01-2018-15-04-29.JPG

    

            There’s a new movement stirring in Australia, and it’s got a pretty cute nickname: forest bathing. It goes by a few other names too — biophilia and shinrin-yoku, for example — but the core philosophy is the same: that getting outdoors and surrounded by mother nature can work wonders for your physical and mental health.

This long-held wisdom may not seem revolutionary, but research has now surfaced that lends scientific support to what many of us already know instinctively: that time in nature is good for both our bodies and our minds.

            And with up to 93% of our lives spent indoors, there has never been a better time to change up bad habits and enjoy the many health benefits of living free range.

            But that doesn’t have to mean packing up, moving to the bush, and living off grid. In fact, research shows that even short bursts outdoors are enough to start reaping the rewards.

 

The Health Benefit: Better Concentration

 

            A twenty minute ‘dose of nature’ may be enough to create a shift in your brain, and see improved concentration. You don’t even need to stray far from home; local parks do the trick too. Just trade concrete and glass for couch grass and gumtrees, and enjoy the renewed clarity that comes from it.

 

Why not try

 

It could be as simple as taking your lunch break and going for a walk in a park near the office. Switch off, enjoy your surrounds, and wave goodbye to brain fog.

 

The Health Benefit: Better Mood

 

            Some clever scientists had the idea to use mobile EEG recorder to measure people’s brain activity as they moved between urban environments and green spaces. The verdict? That people had lower frustration in green spaces.

            Another study went further, and showed that people felt “comfortable, soothed, and refreshed” when viewing a forest landscape. Tests were performed that showed lower levels of stress hormones were released when people were taking in the forest views, and it was suggested that it may be part of the reason nature had this calming effect on people.

 

Why not try…

 

We all know that exercise is good for us, so why not take our thirty minutes of daily exercise out of the gym and into the wild? If you live near bushland, maybe go for a jog and enjoy the added mood-boosting benefits that come with all those post-exercise endorphins. Or if running’s not your style, you could practice meditation in nature to enjoy a heightened self of calm and relaxation.

 

The Health Benefit: Boosted Immunity

 

            This one is seriously impressive. The scent of plants is usually down to a family of natural compounds called phytoncides that the plant releases into the air. These phytoncides have been shown to increase the number and function of immune cells in the body after only three days immersion in the wilderness. And the effects last for up to a week afterwards!

 

Why not try…

 

This is the best excuse for a camping trip I’ve heard of in a long time. Give your immune system a boost by taking a long weekend and heading to your favourite nature spot.

 

The Health Benefit: Lower Blood Pressure

 

            If you’ve got a little more time on your hands, take seven days and a few friends for a holiday that will be as good for you as any health retreat. Both blood pressure and heart rate have been shown to improve with a little forest bathing.

 

Why not try…cabin/shared holiday (7 days+)

 

            Get out there and go bushwalking, eating, laughing, and having a good time with loved ones, in the knowledge that your heart might thank you too.

This article was originally written for Lilydale Free Range as part of their #jointhefreerange campaign. Visit their website for more ideas and inspiration to get outdoors, live well, and eat healthily!


Lilydale Free Range Chicken Burrito Bowls

It's been a little while between recipe posts (sorry!) but I can't think of a better one to return with than this. It's one of my go-to food prep recipes. I whip it up on a Sunday, and then I've got my lunches from Monday to Friday ready to go!

I make my own pico de Gallo (that's the tomato, onion, and jalapeño salsa) so there's a bit of preparation involved. But once you've got all the pieces, it's just a matter of assembling in a bowl and enjoying all those delicious Mexican flavours without the refined flour, cheese, or sour cream that you'll get with take away. Just good quality lean protein, low GI carbs, and a whole rainbow of vegetables to fill you up and deliver vital nutrition. 

Enjoy, and be sure to check out the Lilydale Free Range website for more recipe ideas, as well as a glimpse into their #jointhefreerange campaign, where we're working to get people active and enjoying the outdoors.

Makes five serves, with each one delivering 37g of protein and 627 kcal.

IMG_0780 2.JPG

Ingredients

For the chicken

500g (approximately two breasts) Lilydale Free Range skinless chicken breasts 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

 

For the rice

1 cup brown rice

1 cup (250ml) chicken stock (gold star if you made it yourself!)

2 cups water

juice of 1/2 lime

 

For the pico de Gallo

4 tomatoes 

1 red onion, peeled

1 jalapeno

juice of 1/2 lime

large handful fresh coriander

pinch sea salt

 

And the rest...

2 corn cobs, peeled, washed, and dried

1 avocado, cut into cubes

1 tin (approx. 400g) black beans, drained and rinsed

Greek yoghurt, to serve

 

Method

1. Start by slicing your chicken breast into strips, then place in a bowl.

2. Add the olive oil, paprika, cumin, garlic, and chilli powders. Stir to ensure the chicken is coated evenly. Cover, and then leave to marinate for at least two hours, or overnight.

3. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. These can be discarded, as we just want to use the flesh so that our pico de Gallo isn't too wet.

4. Slice the jalapeño in half down the centre, then scoop out and discard the seeds and membrane.

5. Finely dice the tomatoes, red onion, and jalapeño. Mix them together in a bowl.

6. Roughly chop the coriander and add to the bowl. Season with salt, add the juice of 1/2 a lime, and then stir to combine.

7. Wrap your corn cobs in aluminium foil, then place directly on a gas stove using a low-medium flame. Cook them for 8-10 minutes, using tongs to turn them every two minutes so that they are evenly charred. Remove from heat and then leave to cool before unwrapping.

8. On a plate (or in a shallow bowl) stand the corn cobs upright and use a sharp knife to run down alongside the core to remove the kernels. Place to one side and discard the cores.

9. Rinse your brown rice in cool water before transferring to a pot. Pour in the chicken stock and two cups of water. Bring to a boil over a high flame, then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook (covered) for 45 minutes. If the pot dries out, add a little more water.

10. Once cooked, remove from the stove and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes. Drain off any excess water, and then use a fork to fluff the rice. Squeeze over the remaining lime juice.

11. Now it's time to cook your chicken. Place a fry pan over a medium-high heat and add the chicken strips. You shouldn't need to add any oil, because they're already coated. Cook for two minutes, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.

12. To serve, start with a bed of brown rice, then arrange the chicken, pico de Gallo, black beans, charred corn, and avocado on top. Finish with a big dollop of Greek yoghurt, then dig in!



Green Shakshuka

This yummy shakshuka recipe is a delicious way to get a big hit of greens in first thing. It's perfect for those on a lower carbohydrate eating plan, and is packed with protein and healthy fat (in the form of olive oil) to keep you fuller for longer.

Serves two. One serve delivers 450kcal, and 19g protein.

IMG_0035_Facetune_17-11-2017-07-09-29.JPG

Ingredients

2 tb extra virgin olive oil

1 small brown onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

300g baby spinach leaves

4 eggs

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced

1 tsp mint leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

pinch red chilli flakes

sea salt and pepper, to taste

 

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

2) Boil some water in a saucepan. Blanch the spinach for 20-30 seconds, then refresh in iced water. Remove from water, and then set aside on absorbent kitchen paper until excess moisture is removed.

3) Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Lower the heat to its lowest setting, then add the garlic and continue to cook for at least five minutes, or until caramelised. Add the remaining oil, paprika, and cumin and stir for 20-30 seconds, until fragrant.

4) Add the wilted spinach to the frying pan with the onion, garlic, and spice mix. Add the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Stir well until all is combined, then remove from heat.

5) Make two indents in the mix, and carefully crack the eggs into them. Place the frying pan in the oven and bake until the whites are set but the yolks still runny. This should take five minutes or so.

6) Top with chilli flakes, chopped parsley and mint, the avocado. Yum!



Easy Cannellini Bean and Tuna Salad

Let's face it: it's not always reasonable to expect we'll have the time to make an organic, home grown, slow cooked meal. Sometimes, healthy means putting together the healthiest, whole food ingredients that we can get our hands on in a pinch. And I encourage that. Rather than throw your hands in the air and grab some unhealthy takeaway because you're busy, having a go-to healthy recipe or two that you can whip up guilt free while on-the-go can make all the difference.

This is one of mine. It's so easy and absolutely delicious. I like to use sustainable, line-caught tuna. The capsicum can be cooked and sliced in advance, and stored under olive oil in the fridge until ready for use. 

Serves four, with each serve delivering 29.5g protein, 28.2g carbohydrate, 15g fibre, 21g fat (16.25g of which is unsaturated) and a total of 457 kcal. It also packs a punch in terms of vitamin C, at 120mg per serve (more than your entire daily requirement).

IMG_1104.JPG

Ingredients

250g tinned tuna in olive oil, drained

800g canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium red capsicum

1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped

1 shallot, finely sliced

large handful flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

2 tb extra virgin olive oil

1 tb balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper, to taste

 

Method

1) Start by preheating your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place your whole capsicum on a roasting tray and cook for 30-40 minutes until the skin is black and blistered, and the flesh is soft. You may need to rotate it every 10-15 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly. Leave to one side to cool.

2) Combine your beans, tuna, olives, parsley, and shallot in a bowl.

3) Once cool, remove the skin, seeds, and membrane from the capsicum and discard. Slice the flesh intro strips and add to the salad. 

4) Pour over the dressing ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.



Calendula Ointment

For scratches, better skin healing, and eczema and dermatitis.

he resins from calendula are a common addition to many high-end beauty products. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's one of the most frequently use botanicals in skincare. And for good reason. Calendula is a wonderful traditional skin healer, and possibly my all-time favourite herb for the job. And as an added bonus, sweet almond oil is full of antioxidant vitamin E, which your skin will just love!

This simply ointment is perfect for small patches; for larger areas I recommend making a cream (recipe in my book) or a light lotion. While the method for this is super simple, you'll need a couple of weeks to infuse the oil. 

IMG_0958.jpg

Ingredients

30g dried Calendula flowers

1/2 cup sweet almond oil

12g unrefined beeswax

 

Method

1. Grind you calendula in a coffee/spice grinder until fine, then pour into a sterile glass jar (plenty of tips on how to sterilise your own jars in my book).

2. Pour over the sweet almond oil, replace the lid, and shake until well combined.

3. Leave to infuse for 2-3 weeks in a warm, dark place. 

4. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth. You'll need to have clean hands to start with and do plenty of squeezing to make sure you get as much oil out as you can. The solid herbal material can be discarded, or added to your compost.

5. Measure out 60ml (1/4 cup) of the infused oil into a small pyrex bowl. The rest can be stored in a clean glass jar or bottle in the fridge, for later use.

6. If you're using a block of beeswax, finely chop it; if you're using pellets there is no need to do this step.

7. Add the beeswax to the infused oil and place over a small saucepan with a little water in it. The water should not reach the base of the bowl. This 'water bath' method ensures that the mixture is heated gently. Heat over a medium flame.

8. Stir gently over the heat until the beeswax is completely melted and combined with the oil. Carefully pour into a sterile glass jar and leave to cool.

9. The ointment will solidify over 15-30 minutes. You can then replace the lid and store in the fridge for up to three months.

10. To use, apply a generous amount to skin as needed.



Warm Roast Chicken, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad

Salads make up a pretty huge part of my diet, due to the fact they are light, healthy, and super quick and easy to make. This is one I made on a whim recently, and I certainly didn't regret it.

Serves four. Each serving contains 573 kcal, 50g protein, 38g fat, and 5g carbohydrate.

IMG_0818.JPG

Ingredients

1 whole chicken

1 brown onion, peeled and quartered

2 tb organic butter, softened

2 cloves garlic, crushed

salt and pepper, to taste

100g baby rocket

1 large pink grapefruit

1 ripe Hass avocado, peeled and sliced

2 tb pine nuts

 

For dressing

1 tb balsamic vinegar

2 tb extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

 

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, combine the garlic and butter. Rub over the chicken's skin. Place the onion quarters in the cavity and tie legs together with kitchen twine.

2) Roast the chicken for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 180 degrees Celsius for one hour. To check whether it's cooked through, pierce the thickest part of the thigh and ensure that the juices run clear. If they don't you'll need to return to the oven to roast, and continue to check every 10-15 minutes until done.

3) Leave the chicken to sit for 20 minutes while you prepare the grapefruit.

4) Peel the grapefruit and then break into its segments. Carefully remove the membrane so you're left with chunks of jewel-like flesh.

5) Remove the meat, without skin, from the chicken, and roughly shred. 

6) Combine the chicken, rocket, grapefruit, and avocado in a salad bowl.

7) Mix your dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Toss well to combine.

8) Top with pine nuts prior to serving.



Strawberry Almond Milk

This recipe is so simple, that I shouldn't really call it a recipe. I actually made this so that I'd have something to wash my Choc-blueberry muffins (see below) down with, and it didn't disappoint. Making your own almond milk is so easy, and I used the leftover strawberry milk (which is sweetened with nothing except the wonderfully ripe strawberries themselves) for an after-gym protein shake by adding some vanilla whey protein powder. Easy...

Makes 1.5L (or six 250ml serves, at 124 kcal. each.)

Ingredients

250g raw almonds

3L filtered water 

pinch sea salt

1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries, greens removed

Method

1) In a large container, soak the almonds in 1.5L of water with the sea salt. Leave overnight.

2) In the morning, strain off the water and rinse the almonds 2-3 times until the water runs off clear.

3) Transfer the almonds to a blender, and pour over the remaining water (hint: you may need to of this in batches!). Blitz for 2-3 minutes.

4) Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, collecting the almond milk in a bowl below. You'll be left with homemade almond meal that you can either discard or incorporate into a recipe (like the one below!)

5) Store the almond milk in the fridge in a clean glass jar until ready to serve. To serve, return the almond milk to the blender, add the strawberries, and process until smooth.



Dark Choc-Blueberry "Muffins"

High protein (7.8g) and lower in carbohydrates (9.2g), these dark chocolate and blueberry muffins are actually more like a friand, making them dense and deliciously satisfying. It's worth keeping in mind that although these are a healthier option, all sweet treats are a 'sometimes' food, to be enjoyed alongside a balanced, whole foods diet rich in colourful veggies and lean protein sources!

This blog has been a long time coming, after a lot of encouragement (and some gentle nagging) from friends and family to share recipes other than those in my books and in my web series. Eventually though, it was all my wonderful new mates on Instagram who encouraged me to start sharing these weekly recipes online. So here goes!

Makes eight muffins, 270kcal. each.

 Dark choc and blueberry muffins with homemade strawberry almond milk.

Dark choc and blueberry muffins with homemade strawberry almond milk.

Ingredients

2 cups almond meal

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tb melted coconut oil

2 tb rice malt syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (not essence)

pinch sea salt

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and grease a muffin tray with a little coconut oil.

2) Combine your dry ingredients — almond meal, baking powder, and sea salt — and mix thoroughly.

3) In a separate bowl, gently whisk your eggs and almond milk together, then pour over the dry ingredients.

4) Add the rice malt syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract and combine well.

5) Stir through the blueberries, chocolate pieces, and lemon zest.

6) Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown, then remove from oven.

7) After 5-10 minutes, gently remove from the moulds and cool on a wire rack.

8) Enjoy!