Pea Pesto – a delicious yet healthy nibble!

Pea pesto
Nibbles can be a challenge when trying to lose or maintain your weight.  When you are hungry and cheeses, pastries  creamy dips and chippies are the only things on offer (as is so often the case), any resolve to be healthy can easily go out the window.
Solution – next time you entertain, keep your nibbles very light. Vegetable and fruit based options allow people to be sociable without killing their appetite for food to come.

Pea pesto is a favourite of mine  – it can be whipped up in a couple of minutes and is yummy served with vegetable sticks, wholegrain french bread or rice crackers.   The vibrant green colour looks good too. Try it next time you are entertaining!
Makes 1 cup

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Roast beetroot, chickpea and haloumi salad

This recipe uses my friend Georgie’s roast beetroot recipe (see below). Since we first tasted it at Georgie’s place – warm with roast lamb, I have made it several times.  I used leftovers to make this salad and found the flavour and texture combinations of the beetroot, haloumi and chick peas particularly good.  With protein from the chickpeas and the haloumi, red and green vegetables providing antioxidants, vitamins and minerals it is also a complete, nutrient rich meal – great for your health and your weight as well.  Enjoy!

Georgie’s roast beetroot

1 kg beetroot,  cut into chunks (I peel all the nasty bits off but leave skin on where possible)
1 red onion, cut into quarters or segments
1/2 cup prunes, or more if you like
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Seasonings to taste
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Mix ginger, oil, vinegars, honey, orange juice and zest and cinnamon together.  Pour over other ingredients in a roasting dish and mix through.
2. Roast, covered until beetroot is cooked and sticky.  Serve hot as a vegetable with lamb or cold as a salad

Roast beetroot, chickpea and haloumi salad

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Cr*p award to our government for its stance on food labelling

Despite having a trans Tasman authority (FSANZ) for the setting of trans Tasman food standards, our government in its wisdom has decided to break away from Australia on the issue of front of pack food labelling.  Once again demonstrating how deep in the pockets of the food industry it is, it has instead set up a local committee to investigate this issue and report back by the end of the year.  Surprise surprise, of the nine members on this committee, 5 of them are food industry representatives and 4 are nutrition specialists (one with food industry sponsors). I wonder what their decision will be?????!
Food and Grocery chief executive Katherine Rich says  “the role of labels in food choice is hugely understated”.  An interesting comment from someone hell-bent on preventing front of pack labelling! Continue reading

Thai meat balls with satay sauce

Thai meat balls with satay sauce
I love the smell of Asian cooking so it is always a treat to walk past our local Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants.  Last night we were treated to delicious wafts of satay sauce which took me back to a recipe I used to make ages ago.  As I had some mince in the fridge  I dug out the old recipe and guess what we had for dinner – meat balls with satay sauce!   I used beef mince but you can use any mince  – pork, chicken or beef -  just make sure it is lean.  While satay sauce can be very high in fat and kilojoules, this version is trimmed right down.  By using less oil, just enough peanut butter and light coconut milk instead of regular coconut cream you get a sauce that is much better for health and weight while still  big on taste.
Time to make 45 minutes

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Baked apricot custards

Baked apricot custards
This is my current favourite dessert to make if people are coming for dinner or if asked to bring a pudding for a dinner out.  It is so easy,  so tasty and easily made from ingredients on hand.  You do need a set of small ramekin dishes however.  I serve them warm or cold with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and some toasted chopped almonds.  I always make double quantity as they last well in the fridge – if we let them!
Serves 6
Time to make 45 minutes

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A tick to North Korea!

Even though they are not doing it out of concern for their population, one thing that North Korea is doing right is not allowing coca cola into the country.   It is one of just 3 countries in the world that do not currently allow it in – the others being Cuba and Myanmar.  Sadly now that Myanmar has relaxed its rules, coca cola is being allowed back in.  Haven’t the poor people in Myanmar have suffered enough???

Bottom of the fridge soup!

Lentil and chorizo soup
It’s Sunday night and the same dilemma – what to have for dinner! Checking out the fridge I notice stray carrots, celery stalks and capsicum halves and decide its time for “bottom of the fridge soup”.  I make this soup regularly to use up all those things that have a tendency to linger -  raw and cooked veges, pasta sauce, tomato paste, bacon or chorizo.  In this case I had a large chorizo which with the left over veg and red lentils made a winter warming soup that would stand up with the best.  Delicious!
Serves 8
Time to make 1 hour

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GOLD STARS to Disney Corporation and the New York Mayor

When it comes to creating healthier environments it seems the USA is way ahead of New Zealand. While both governments seem to be in the pockets of the food giants, at least we are seeing some positive action in the states thanks to the Walt Disney Corporation and the Mayor of New York.

A gold star to the Walt Disney Corporation for vowing to ban ads sponsored by junk food from its TV channels, radio stations and websites intended for children. That means kids watching Saturday morning children’s shows on Disney’s ABC network will no longer see ads for fast foods and sugary cereals that don’t meet the company’s nutrition standards. The guidelines won’t go into effect until 2015 because of existing advertising agreements. At an event announcing the push, first lady Michelle Obama called the move a “game changer.”  “Just a few years ago if you had told me or any other mom or dad in America that our kids wouldn’t see a single ad for junk food while they watched their favorite viva Must, chairwoman of the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts School of Medicine, said Disney could succeed where government thus far has made little progress.  Given the lack of government regulation around advertising to children, a large company like Disney taking a stand is a great step forward.

A gold star also to New York Mayor Michael Bloombery for proposing to ban sugary drinks bigger than 16 ounces in New York City restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums. City officials say they believe it will ultimately push governments around the U.S. to adopt similar rules.

Hot pudding on a cold day!

Apple and blueberry strudel
There is nothing nicer than hot pudding when there is snow outside (which there is!).   WIth plenty of stewed apple in the freezer (thanks to the generosity of our apple tree) and a packet of filo pastry needing to be used in the fridge, strudel was a logical choice. I tend to use filo rather than regular pastry as with filo you can control how much fat is in the dish – the fat comes from the butter/oil brushed between layers rather than being present in the pastry itself (as with regular pastry).
Regular apple pie can have around 30 – 40g fat per slice while this strudel has no more than 5g fat per serve. You can have the same sized portion for way less kilojoules and fat.  And it tastes just as delicious!
Blueberries are an optional extra which as well as boosting flavour contribute valuable antioxidants for the brain.
Serve with yoghurt cream instead of regular cream and you have a dessert that wins on all counts!
Serves 6-8
Time to prepare 45 minutes

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