Monday, 17 September 2012

At this time of year, with summer fast approaching, most of my friends are frantically trying to diet. Healthy food can often be monotonous and boring, but not always. In fact, with a little inspiration you can turn the most boring and plain 'diet foods' into a gourmet feast. I thought I'd start by sharing one of my favourites....

First let me tell you about Quinoa-

While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. Quinoa is great for three reasons: First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains.  Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and - yum! Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain.

Lemon Quinoa and Coriander Chickpea Salad
Adapted from: The Diva-Dish

1/2 cup dry quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 cup rosa cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 avocado, sliced and diced
2 cups of baby spinach
1 handful of coriander
1/4 cup red onion
2 small cloves garlic

For the dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
dash of salt and pepper

1. Make your quinoa first. Soak the quinoa in a pot in the stock for about 15 minutes. After that, turn on the heat to medium high and let the quinoa come to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium/low and let quinoa simmer. Stir every so often, and cook quinoa for about 20-25 minutes just until the liquid is absorbed.

2. In a food processor, blend the baby spinach and the coriander until they are finely diced. 

3. Add the greens to a bowl, and set aside. Next take your onion and garlic and finely dice those, and add to the greens mixture. Next add your chickpeas and stir until everything is combined and coated. If the quinoa is cooled, you can add it to the chickpea mixture next.

4. Make your dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. Pour over salad, and mix until combined. Add in tomatoes and avocado. Leave to cool in the fridge before serving.


Serve with an uncomplicated chardonnay- I like the KWV Classic Chardonnay or Graham Beck 'Waterside'

Thursday, 13 September 2012

This is it... the easiest, most delicious cheese cake I have ever tasted. They are SO nice for tea parties or you can serve them as mini can try and use different cookie bases but i LOVE Oreos so for me this is a definite winner!

Cookies and Cream Mini Cheesecakes

  (original recipe by Martha Stewart)

18 Oreos 12 left whole and 6 coarsely chopped
500g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 140°C. Line standard muffin pans with cookie cases (white). Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each case.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed using an electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. 

Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving. Best served really cold! You can garnish with fresh whipped cream and crumbled Oreos if desired.

Makes 12 cheesecakes.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The delicious recipe has all the flavour and half of the calories of a normal Mexican meal. I am a huge fan of Mexican food but often find it very rich and oily. This dish is simple to make and can be served as snacks, a starter, or a main meal with a side salad.

600g pack of chicken breasts
500ml chicken stock
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 green chilli or jalapeno if you can find one (chopped)
3 cups baby spinach
5 large flour tortillas (cut in half)
150g of grated low fat cheese (reduced fat)
Olive oil cooking spray
Homemade salsa to serve- optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 180'C
  2. Put the chicken breastin a deep sided pan and cover with the stock and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and shred it (either pull it apart or blitz in the blender). Mix together the chicken and seasonings.
  3. Pour out all but 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the spinach and cook over low heat until for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Cut the tortillas in half. Spoon 1/10th of the chicken (about 1 tablespoon) along the long edge of a tortilla. Repeat with the spinach and cheese. Sprinkle in chopped chilli for those that want a burn! Roll the tortilla up, starting with the straight edge. Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  5.  Spray with Olive oil cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for until 10 minutes, or until crispy. Serve with salsa.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Attention cookie addicts and chocolate fiends!!!

This takes the brownie in a mug to the next level...

I came across this recipe on one of my favourite blog sites No.2 pencil and I am now addicted. I thought it would only be fair to share it with you!

Choc chip cookie in a cup...

Doesn't it look delicious? 

Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup
created by Melissa at No. 2 Pencil

1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Granulated White Sugar
1 Tablespoon of firmly packed Dark Brown Sugar
3 Drops of Vanilla Extract
Small Pinch of Salt
1 Egg Yolk (discard the egg white)
Scant 1/4 of All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Start by melting your butter in the microwave. Add sugars, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine. Separate your egg and add the yolk only to your cup. Stir to combine. Add flour, then stir again. Add the chocolate chips, and give a final stir. Cook in microwave 40-60 seconds, start checking for doneness at 40 seconds. Mine takes 50 seconds.

Don't forget to add a spoonful of vanilla ice cream before serving!

Visit Melissa's blog to see more glorious 'treat in a cup' recipes.