Quick and Simple Salads - Stick To Your Healthy Resolutions

Whether you are already a fruit, vegetable and earth-loving nutrition guru or you're working on improving the amount of fibre, vitamin and macronutrient rich foods in your daily meals, I've got you covered. The 5-Minute Salad Lunchbox has a whole bunch of kickass ideas around combinations of flavours and colours to make your lunch delicious, satiating and balanced. Far from bland or insubstantial, as sometimes salad can be, these recipes have a protein, fibre-rich vegetables or pulses, and flavour rich seasoning that will keep you satiated for hours. Eating healthily is not about compromising what you actually enjoy and want for something you feel you should have. This is about discovering meals and foods you DO enjoy and that you DO want, recognising that foods that are good for you are also freakin' delicious once you start experimenting and realising you can have so many things you hadn't factored into a healthy diet and really enjoy them. Sometimes, exchanging full fat butter for nut butters, or using roast vegetables and crunchy roasted chickpeas in place of chips and starchy, processed burger patties can be a revelation.

Without further ado, the recipes. What are you going to make this week? Let me know on Facebook.


LEFT-OVER ROAST VEGETABLE SALAD

Substitute toasted pine nuts or almonds if you don’t have cashew nuts.

200 g (7 oz) left-over roast vegetables, such as carrot, pumpkin (winter squash), parsnip, potato, sweet potato and beetroot (beets), sliced or cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large handfuls of baby English spinach leaves
small handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
30 g (1 oz) cashew nuts, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
               
TAHINI DRESSING
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.



LENTIL, HALOUMI & HERB SALAD

Cat's Note: as a vegan, I substitute vegan haloumi or chickpea tofu for the halouomi in this recipe. There's also nut-based vegan "cheese" or you could fry some tofu or add tempeh instead.
  
50 g (1¾ oz) slice of haloumi, fried in hot oil for 3 minutes, cubed * vegan halloumi recipe
150 g (5½ oz/⅔ cup) drained tinned brown lentils
1 tomato, diced
handful each of mint, parsley and coriander (cilantro), chopped

LEMON & CUMIN DRESSING
juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tightfitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.
RAW BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PEAR, HAZELNUTS & PECORINO


The sweetness from the pear and cranberries (also known as craisins) are the perfect foil for the peppery bite of the raw brussels sprouts. Apple will work just as well as pear and, while the hazelnuts bring something really special to this salad, walnuts are great here, too.

Cat's Note: as a vegan, I don't add pecorino but if you want an alternative, there's a cashew based vegan cheese alternative below.

150 g (5½ oz) brussels sprouts, shredded
1 pear, thinly sliced
30 g (1 oz) roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
30 g (1 oz/⅓ cup) grated pecorino
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

CIDER VINEGAR DRESSING
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Toss the salad ingredients together, then tip into your lunchbox.

2.       Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar or container with a tightfitting lid.

3.       Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.



Vegan parmesan cheese
ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted cashews (150 g)*
  • 4 tbsp brewer’s or nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

instructions

  1. Grind all the ingredients in a grinder or food processor until well mixed.
Extracted from THE 5-MINUTE SALAD LUNCHBOX by Alexander Hart, published by Smith Street Books, RRP AU$24.99 or NZ$28.99 Photography © Chris Middleton / Food styling © Deborah Kaloper. 

Boost Your Digestion, Make Your Skin Glow & Power Your Metabolism

Sound too good to be true?
There's no single pill you can take and carry on living exactly as you are if you want to tick the three boxes:
Glowing Skin
Optimal Metabolic Function
Smooth Digestion

It takes time for these processes to heal and alter too, but the habits you start today are going to kick in within months (some of us will feel the effects within days!) and that's one year sooner than if you started next year. If, like me when I'm not being more careful about what ingredients and fitness work for me, you find yourself tired, easily bloated and feeling uninspired, here's my tried and tested methods.

detox digestion health

Detox Your Digestion

I believe in eating with nutritional balance at the core but ensuring that all your meals are foods you really love to eat and that there are no "bad" and "good" foods as long as you know how they make you feel and you're sure to get all the vitamins and minerals you need alongside your macronutrient balance over a week. If you happen to eat sponge cake for dinner now and again it really isn't a drama.
Consider why you make that choice and then when you eat a meal, feel energised and satiated, consider what you could do to make that a regular practice. Have equipment to make all your own juices, smoothies, shakes and condiments. I love Aussie made Froothie (1000W, no messing around here).Filling your pantry with the ingredients to make good meals, setting out a plan at the start of the week so you have everything you need at hand, reading books or magazines that inspire your food choices and exploring new flavours and combinations? I've been reading Paleo magazine for recipes - I am not paleo nor do I advocate any particular regime or take part in any! Their recipes are excellent though and they don't buy into the nutritional table of calories, protein, carbs etc that so many recipes do. It isn't necessary. Eat well, listen to your body and your appetite and get to know what satiates and what leaves you craving (ie. most diet foods and zero calorie beverages!) if you want a sustainably nourishing approach to food and life.
Daily, aim to get a decent serve of high quality protein (whether it's from food or a supplement) to ensure optimal muscle, bone, joint, skin, hair and organ function. I kick start most mornings with a vanilla protein smoothie and almond milk (I love the taste and I choose a high calcium one). Plus a good dose of coffee, black. Not only an energy kick pre-workout but also allows me to pretend to be Italian/French/ miscellaneously Euro.
To ensure you are getting the best out of your diet and that it is digested in such a way that the nutrients aren't wasted, supplement your diet with a probiotic. You may choose - like one friend - to take a big old spoonfull of kimchi daily, but I prefer a high quality pre/probiotic powder supplement. I add it to my protein shake in the morning.
My pantry is stocked with Nature's Sunshine supplements for preventing, treating and strengthening digestion and gut health. I'm as guilty as you are when it comes to overdoing it or allowing stress, poor sleep or jet lag to impact my food choices.
Try Bowel Calm, Activated Charcoal and Slippery Elm Powder. I also swear by Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother!) for the mega dose of protein, enzymes and the energising bitterness at the start of the day and after each meal. My pick is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.


skincare quality cosmeceuticals

Use High Grade Cosmeceuticals Alongside Your Usual Skincare

I don't consume many chemicals - my food is majority wholefoods (unprocessed veggies, fruit, seafood, legumes, meat, nut milks) and organic wherever possible. But when it comes to skin, I'm a convert to cosmeceuticals. You can usually only get the best ones in salon and they cost more than your supermarket beauty buys, but they also work. As someone who prizes her skin after teenage years of acne and sunburn, I don't skimp. Totally recommend medik8 for retinol based resurfacing cream (my choice is Retinol 1 TR) and moisturisers (Hydrate 360 please). I'll also be adding the new Dark Circles eye cream to my bedside table... no need to look like I've been tossing and turning for 8 hours!
alpha h cat13gram

Alpha-H does an amazing copper/B vitamin serum that I apply every morning under my moisturiser and makeup.


lean protein health fitness

Maintain A High Quality Protein Intake Daily

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or happily carnivorous, you must select high quality proteins. This means choosing lean, organic salmon rather than chicken wings deep fried and covered in salt. You want your
proteins to give you bang for their calorific buck, so to speak. Red meat, chicken and legumes are rich in protein. A serve of baked beans or chickpeas is an excellent alternative to meat proteins. While whey and milk-based protein powders are ideal for ultimate calcium and easily-absorbed protein, there's plenty of plant-based proteins that are worthy of cupboard space. Choose powders that have the least amount of ingredients listed and avoid sugar-loaded, toxic tasting candy powders unless you want to bulk up your guts more than your muscles.



crystals rock salt lamps energy
rock salt lamps cat woods

Embrace Rock Salt Lamps & Crystals In Your Home

Sure, I know it sounds all Gwyneth, but I can't tell you how peaceful my space feels when I have my rock salt lamps on and only natural lighting. It feels like bringing an ancient big old chunk of nature into my home. It feels restorative. I have both a 4kg lamp in my bedroom and a smaller sphere that plugs into my laptop USB port and lights up when I'm working.- totally recommended for travel and workplaces.
 Whether you believe the negative ions the salt lamps emit are genuinely beneficial is secondary. Just having that gentle glow emanating near you is calming in itself. My rock salt lamp and a Selenite crystal tower that I keep by my bed for the positive energy it symbolises and channels into my home are from Rock Salt Lamps

Fit Fuel Home Delivery : Thr1ve meals

fit food home delivery Thr1ve

This isn't the first time I've explored meal delivery services to support and encourage eating portion controlled and nutritionally balanced meals.
Why would a trainer and instructor, with thorough knowledge of how to buy, prepare and plan healthy, delicious meals opt to have them delivered to me? For several reasons.
Despite having enough recipe books to build a small community library, and also having the time to prepare meals, I often find that I fall into routines of eating the same meals, day after day after day. It's boring.
It can also be easy to opt for making the same, boring meals I know when I don't have the incentive of preparing meals for anyone other than myself!
lean protein no gluten thr1ve vegetarian meals

Here is where Thr1ve has come to my rescue. I first saw the promotions for Thr1ve at the fitness centre I work at. Curious and dreading the inevitable dinner that would be exactly the same dinner I ate lastnight and the night before, I looked up the website. The founder of Thr1ve is the entrepreneurial fitness and fashion industry veteran, Josh Spark. This is a man who knows how to move, live and eat fit. Goal. I also looked through the menu and thought, I WANT to eat that, and that...and definitely that. Goal two. It could all be delivered to my door without fuss. Triple goals. Sold!

Now, there are various plans to opt for but here is the approach I took. I have ordered a 7-day week of meals along with probiotic water to support digestion. My prime goals are:
balanced macronutrients with wholefoods, plants and lean protein as the prime ingredients!



  • flavour rich, simple meals that I can be inspired to recreate in my own kitchen on an ongoing basis
  • well proportioned meals - tiny frozen blocks that are masquerading as lunch and dinner are a no go. I won't be sitting around watching netflix all day so I need food that fuels my active life
  • FRESH, non-frozen meals ready to eat (Thr1ve is one of the rare meal delivery services that delivers food freshly made, non-frozen so that if you don't get through it in the 7 days from delivery, you can choose to freeze it yourself)

My Thr1ve options are also intended to maintain my weight but for anyone who has a tendency to eat high-carb, multi-servings or excessive portions or desserts, you'll lose weight on these meals (if you're not eating extra meals between the planned meals!).

The Thr1ve meals are paleo and ketogenic friendly.

What's a ketogenic diet? High in protein and fats, low in carbohydrates and gluten free.

As you all well know, I do not advocate for strict diets of any nature. While I see the health benefits of kickstarting a healthy approach to meal planning and nutritious eating with a low-sugar, minimally processed food approach, it is not ideal to maintain a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet in the long term. While some fitness and bodybuilding fanatics will swear black and blue the ketogenic diet is the ultimate way to eat, the high protein and fat content is violently unhealthy on the liver and kidneys and the extreme lack of complex carbohydrates (brown rice, wholewheat bread or pasta, fruits) can cause fatigue, lethargy, poor function of the nervous and hormonal system.
Thr1ve vegetable frittata meal delivery
Fortunately, Thr1ve meals are well balanced to include smart, wholefood carbohydrates with thorough nutritional density (brown rice, quinoa, root vegetables, potato) and even the classic Atkins' diet advocated eating sweet potato, moderate servings of fruit and complex carbs after the initial week or so of high protein meals. The meals I've opted for, and the meals generally, are moderate carbohydrates, lean and moderate protein and low-fat. As a healthy-fats advocate (they promote vitamin absorption, hormonal balance and appetite fulfilment!) I have been adding sweet potato and raw cashews and almonds to my meals but you must read your own appetite and decide what you want to add. Unless you're trying to shed weight, you'll want to be adding smart snacks between meals as they are small serves.

Disclaimer: Of 14 meals (over a 7 day trial) FOUR meals went rancid by the fourth day and had to be thrown out. The "fresh greens" in two more also went bitter, flaccid and were inedible. I let Thr1Ve know and they made the excuse they were new to the meal delivery business and offered no remedy. Hopefully this issue is resolved but be warned.

Digestion: What We Can Take From Paleo, Raw Food, Vegan and Plant Based approach to eating

From the outset, let me make clear that I don't follow any food regimen strictly and zealously nor do I advocate a restrictive approach to eating, movement or living at all.

I believe - as I hope you will - that each of us needs to make choices that align with our values, our beliefs, our needs and our enjoyment and engagement with life. That means that your approach will likely differ over time and I've known many people who go from meat eaters to vegetarians and have periods of returning to seafood or meat if they feel their nutritional needs aren't being met sufficiently without it, or just because they want it and choose it.

It's not for any of us to say what is right and wrong for anyone else - so this post is not advocating a dietary approach, rather it is looking at the importance of gut health to quality of life and the ideas and lessons we can take from each of these approaches and consider when preparing and sharing meals.

I've been reading The Complete Gut Health Cookbook by Pete Evans and naturopath, Helen Padarin. While the book does strongly follow paleo guidelines to eating, there is a recurring reminder that these are suggestions and not a strict advocacy of one way to eat or live. Regardless of your preconceived ideas around Pete, his genuine desire to share a love of eating well and with awareness of how food affects overall health is contagiously joyful.

The consistent message across paleo, vegan, raw food and plant based eating is that food is more than simply calories and fuel. Food has medicinal and spiritual value. Choosing to eat to truly nourish rather than just to curb the appetite reflects a greater commitment: choosing to live in a way that nourishes our selves and those around us.

However, back to the gut.
gut health foods

Many diseases and lifestyle-based illness including diabetes type 2, angina, leaky gut, obesity and metabolic syndrome are the result of eating diets high in processed foods, lacking in vital micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes) and the approach to eating food on the run, with little consideration for how important it is to sit down, savour and enjoy food as part of feeling genuinely satiated, nourished and allowing food to digest without the impediment of stress hormones creating a maelstrom of poor digestive consequences: bloating, indigestion, leaky gut, constipation etc.

There's much research to show that gut health is intrinsically connected to brain health and the strength of the immune system and all other systems of the body. When you get a moment, have a look at this TED talk: Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain.



Gut flora is a term that refers to the environment of bacteria within the gut which is highly sensitive to foods, environment, stress and overall fitness and health. The healthier and richer our gut flora, the more energy we have, the greater absorption of nutrients from food and the greater ability to CREATE nutrients. It also feeds the immune system, fending off disease and allergic responses as well as maintaining a fit metabolism and regulating weight.

The most common and preventable factors that damage gut flora are continual use of NSAIDs (ibuprofen, over-the-counter and prescription pain killers and anti inflammatories), chemicals found in processed foods and commonly used in agriculture, household cleaners and beauty products, preservatives and food colourings and flavours, excess fructose and simple carbohydrate consumption, chronic stress and lack of sleep and routine sleep and meal times.

Raw food - food not heated above 36 degrees - contains the richest source of nutrients and enzymes. These enzymes allow for foods to be digested without requiring the body to use up its own enzymes in trying to break down foods and extract micronutrients during the digestive process. With sufficient quantity and diversity of raw vegetables and plant-based foods (nuts, legumes, etc), these simple protein chains create complex chains of proteins that fuel the body adequately and ideally. It is common for vegans to be deficient in iron and B12 though and in these situations, it may be wise to supplement with the recommended daily dosage or with the assistance and advice of a nutritionist, dietitian or medical practitioner.
gut health

Here's the essential spices to start including in your meals to boost gut health

Turmeric
Cinnamon
Ginger
Fennel
Cumin
Coriander
Peppermint
Chilli
superfoods


Here's the essential prebiotic & probiotic foods to include in your weekly meals (bitter and fermented foods are superpowered gut medicine, don't be afraid to try them)


Dandelion Greens
Jerusalem Artichoke
Leeks
Asparagus
Garlic
Onions
Bananas
Apples
Walnuts 
Almonds
Cacao
Flaxseeds
Kelp & Seaweed
Bananas
Pickled ginger
Quinoa
Miso


Plant Based Food Melbourne

Plant Based Food Melbourne

There's so many places for great food and great vibes in Melbourne. If you're vegan, vegetarian, gluten, lactose intolerant, paleo, raw, any and all of the above or NONE of the above, you will find options that cater to you and do so with flavour, joy and generosity.

Herewith, and I must confess I haven't tried all of them, are some great finds in Melbourne. Some I have dined at, some I am YET to dine in, but all of them come highly recommended by friends, colleagues and fellow Melburnians.

I'm also going to give a shout-out to my raw food workshop on February 7 at Kotch Lane Cafe in St Kilda. For $45 you get a handbook, goodie bag of products, entry to a doorprize, hands-on raw food meal making, and the fun of being in a group of curious, inspired people.
Plant Based Food Melbourne

Fed Up Project
South Melbourne


Good food, local produce. This relative new-comer is a haven of nutritious and yummy offerings located right near the South Melbourne market so you can dine and then be inspired to go and buy your own ingredients. OR you can walk in circles around the market to build up an appetite and then go nourish your body and soul. Visit Fed Up Project.

Uncle & Jak
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

Easy parking, yes please. This is a menu that doesn't turn into a novel, which is promising. Doing the menu options you offer WELL with fresh, carefully selected produce is worthy of respect. Pretty easy to park this end of Johnston Street, especially on weekdays. A brunch or lunch post yoga is easily catered to. I can vouch their coffee is excellent and George is a sucker for the turmeric latte here (I can vouch it LOOKS cool.) Visit Uncle & Jak.

Fourth Chapter Cafe
Prahran

Plant Based Food Melbourne
All day breakfast menu? Yes, please! Lunch available from 11am. There's meat for your carnivorously inclined friends and fam. There's some absolutely belly loving bounty on the menu here and like most things in Prahran, the venue is super chic. Environment is vital! Visit Fourth Chapter Cafe.

Vegie Bar
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

This is a stalwart of Fitzroy and you simply must. Their raw food offering is genuinely divine. Raw Pad Thai, tacos, cheesecake. This is an offering that goes beyond superfood salads and proves raw food is creative, expansive and exciting. Visit Vegie Bar.

Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook Allergen Free Treats

Another afternoon, another 3.30pm "WHERE ARE THE TREATS" dilemma.

Never fear. I bring treats with nutritional credit so you can feel satisfied AND highly self-righteous. And who doesn't need a bit of that during the mid-afternoon crawl to the finish line?
Coming to you from The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott (Murdoch Books) - I know, it sounds very Pete Evans, hipster Crossfit what-have-you, but once you get beyond the title, the recipes are fabulous. Everything from salad to post-workout snack to dinner for 10.

Here's two of the fabulous finds - my favourites. I hope you love them and share them. I highly recommend popping the fig balls in a tupperware container and keeping in the fridge at work. They also make for some very happy post-school snack time and school fete fare.

FIG ENERGY BITES

Time: 1 hour
Yield: 16 Bites
Tools: Food Processor

370 g unsulphured dried figs
130 g fine shredded coconut, divided (unsweetened)
80 ml coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

1 Place the figs, 100 g of the coconut, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse on and off until a thick paste forms (you may have to stop and scrape the sides of your food processor a couple of times).

2  Form into 2.5 cm balls, then roll them in the reserved 30 g of shredded coconut.

3  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the coconut oil set.

Note: Feel free to play around with the dried fruit in this recipe-—dates, dried apples and apricots are all good substitutions for the figs.

Storage: Keeps for a week or two stored in the refrigerator. Also freezes well.

SEARED BROCCOLINI WITH COCONUT BASIL PESTO


Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4

2 tablespoons solid cooking fat
450 g broccolini, washed, ends of stems removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
250 ml Coconut-Basil Pesto (page 124)

1 Heat the cooking fat in a large frying pan on high heat. When the fat has melted and the pan is hot, sear the broccolini for a couple of minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and let cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the broccolini is tender.

2 Serve with coconut pesto drizzled over the top.

Storage: Keeps well in the refrigerator.


coconut-Basil Pesto

Time: 15 Minutes
Yield: 375 mls

125 ml coconut water or filtered water
100 g fresh basil leaves
60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
4 cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2–3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
A few sprigs of fresh mint

1 Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 15 seconds, stopping to scrape the sides if needed. If you want a smoother pesto, continue to blend until desired consistency is reached.

Variation: Use apple cider or coconut vinegars and add sea salt to taste, as those vinegars are not as salty as the plum.

Storage: Keeps for a couple of days, sealed, in the refrigerator.

Real Delicious Food

Too often in fitness and in food, there is a message from media, friends, family, personal trainers, supermarkets and pretty much everyone, that you need to follow a specific plan.

Usually, a specific plan that reaps plenty of money and devotion to a brand or individual. Drink our shakes! Purchase our appliances! Follow our instagram! And so forth.

What if you really considered what foods you like, what makes you feel good, what enables you to feel energetic enough to do what you have to do and what do you have the time and the enthusiasm to prepare?

I do have some paleo cookbooks and some raw food and vegan ones. I am not paleo, raw foodist or vegan. I think they have some fabulous recipes and I absolutely respect their ethos. I just know that I find I need animal based protein to feel truly satiated and energised.

I want to share some of the awesome books that are giving me recipe and happy, healthy food love at the moment. They are beautiful to look at and the recipes are not complex. They are not pushing a regimen on you - there's no self righteous eat THIS and NOT THAT! There's just a genuine celebration of flavour, fresh food and great combinations. Divided up between salads, main meals, sweet options and side dishes. Here's the lowdown on Real Delicious and Deliciously Ella.

Real Delicious by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books) is fabulous. The images are gorgeous - but don't be fooled by all the colour and prettiness - the recipes are simple and really good for both singles, small groups of friends and also feeding the whole family. Here are two of my must-try recipes: Japanese Pancakes and Fish and Sweet Potato

Japanese pancakes with mushrooms and chicken
Filled with shredded vegetables, minced lean chicken and protein-packed eggs, this version of a Japanese pancake makes a nutritious and filling lunch or light dinner. In Japan it’s traditionally served with mayonnaise, but I prefer to skip this in favour of a little sweet soy sauce and some salad leaves.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes 8


75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) wholemeal spelt flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs
11/2 tablespoons peanut or  macadamia oil
200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) chicken  or pork 
150 g (51/2 oz) mushrooms,  finely chopped 
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
130 g (41/2 oz/13/4 cups) shredded  savoy cabbage 
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
Sweet soy sauce, for drizzling
2 teaspoons sesame seeds,  lightly toasted
Sliced spring onions (scallions),  to serve
Baby kale leaves, to serve

Whisk together the flour, eggs and 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) cold water until smooth. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add the mushrooms, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool completely.

Stir the chicken mixture, cabbage and carrot into the egg batter.

Heat half the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat. Ladle 1/2 cup of batter per pancake into the pan  and spread out to 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Cook for 3 minutes each side  or until golden. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook  the rest, adding a little more oil when necessary.

Serve the pancakes drizzled with a little sweet soy sauce and scattered with the sesame seeds, spring onions and kale leaves.

Fish and sweet potato cakes with dill dressing
These fish cakes are made with mashed sweet potato instead of regular potato, and they’re coated in wholegrain oats instead of breadcrumbs. I love using sweet potato because it doesn’t need any butter or salt to taste great. It has a lower GI than regular potato and it’s packed with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Preparation time: 20 minutes,  plus 30 minutes chilling
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

400 g (14 oz) orange sweet potato,  cut into 3 cm (11/4 inch) dice
400 g (14 oz) firm white fish fillets
4 spring onions (scallions),  finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 long red chilli, seeded and  finely chopped
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) rolled  (porridge) oats
1 tablespoon olive or macadamia oil
Baby English spinach leaves, to serve

Dill dressing
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon salted baby capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of caster (superfine) sugar

Steam the sweet potato in a steamer over simmering water for  12 minutes or until tender. Drain, mash roughly with a fork and cool.

Steam the fish in a steamer over simmering water for 6–8 minutes  or until just cooked through. Set aside to cool, then flake with a fork.

Combine the sweet potato, fish, spring onion, herbs, lemon zest and chilli in a large bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Form the mixture into eight 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick patties.

Place the oats on a large plate. Press each fish cake into the oats  to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm.

Combine all the ingredients for the dill dressing.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat and cook the fish cakes for 2–3 minutes each side or until golden brown, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Serve with spinach leaves and dill dressing.

TIP
Young children love these fish cakes, but you might need to leave out the chilli.
Recipes and images from Real Food by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books)


Deliciously Ella Every Day (Hachette) is exactly what it promises: simple recipes from wholefoods that are totally delicious. Some of you have followed Ella's blog and she has a massive social media following. You don't need to be familiar or a fan to find this recipe book totally reliable and enjoyable though. In fact, I am blissfully new to Ella and her wholefood approach. I love it though and want to share some of my fave recipes with you. Enjoy!

Pad Thai

Such a delicious dish, I think it may end up being a favourite recipe for lots of you... it’s certainly very popular in my house! It’s inspired by a recipe that a friend sent to me; I fell in love with it and adapted it over time to create this version. The sauce is definitely my favourite part, as it’s so incredibly rich with the most amazing array of flavours.

Serves 2

For the noodles
2 large courgettes
2 large carrots
100g buckwheat noodles
1 red pepper, cut into very thin strips 
handful of sesame seeds
30g cashew nuts 
10g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

For the sauce
8 tablespoons olive oil
15g bunch of fresh coriander
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon tamari
juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peel the courgettes, then use a vegetable peeler to peel the flesh into strips around the core. I normally discard the seedy centres, as they’re hard to peel. Do the same with the carrots.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Simply place everything into a blender or food processer with 9 tablespoons of water and whizz until smooth.

Once the noodles have cooked, drain them and let them cool for a few minutes.

Place the noodles, carrots, courgettes, pepper, sesame seeds and cashews in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix everything together, then sprinkle the mint on top.

Cauliflower Pizza

Makes 2 large pizza crusts / Serves 4–6
4 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cauliflowers (about 1kg), roughly chopped
200g Apple Purée (page 40)
300g brown rice or buckwheat 
flour
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons tamari
salt
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons dried basil

For the toppings, I like:
tomato purée
sliced tomatoes
canned sweetcorn
sliced mushrooms
fresh basil leaves
handful of rocket 
salt and pepper
olive oil

Place the chia seeds in a bowl with 280ml of water. Leave for 10–15 minutes, until the chia has formed a gel.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C).

Place the cauliflower in a food processor and blend it until a flour-like substance forms; this should take about a minute (you may need to do this in 2 batches). Place in a nut milk bag (page 53) and knead out excess water: it may take a few minutes but it’s a really important step, so please don’t skip it!

Add the cauliflower to a mixing bowl with the chia and apple purée and stir until blended. Mix in the flour, lemon juice, tamari, salt and dried herbs. Slowly pour in 150ml of ice-cold water, using your hands to mix it to a sticky dough. Divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and spread each piece of dough out over it, to form a pizza base. Bake the crusts for 20–30 minutes.

Once they are firm and slightly crispy, add the tomato purée and your toppings (except any basil or rocket), then cook for another 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the leaves, if using, and a drizzle of olive oil, then slice and serve!

Kitchen Know-How
I know it sounds strange to tell you to take the water out of the cauliflower and then add more water to the mix, but – trust me – it’s vital for the recipe to work, as it means you get exactly the right amount of liquid needed for the crust to bake properly.

These recipes are from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward, published by Hachette Australia RRP $29.99.

Coffee In A Juicebox - Welcome To Melbourne Minor Figures

Minor Figures deliver extraordinary, single-origin cold pressed coffee with a focus on the ethical origins and production of their product.
As a Melbourne coffee lover, this wouldn't have been enough to swivel my head normally. There's a barista for every 10 people in this neighbourhood, after all! BUT.
Minor Figures cold pressed coffee doesn't come in a fancy apocathery jar - which means it won't look fancy and boost your hipster credibility while sitting on your desk. Instead, it comes in a secure juicebox carton that you can toss in your gym bag or on the back of your bike. You can lob a few in the glovebox safely!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, coffee is proven to boost your workout endurance and ability to perform explosive and dynamic moves.

The other reason you want to get your mitts on Minor Figures cold pressed (18 hours!) single origin OR single origin with milk, is because they genuinely form relationships with the growers and producers. This ensures a fair price is paid and the business is sustainable for Ethiopian producers. Rather than contributing to a whole lot of waste - the coffee grinds are used to make soaps and scrubs. No evidence so far that smelling like coffee makes you a better athlete, but I'm still in the research stage. Stay tuned.

http://www.minorfigures.com/
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Magnesium for Muscle and Mental Stamina

I read today that LeAnn Rimes downs 40 supplement pills a day.
40.

I feel extraordinarily tame in comparison. I have staple supplements that I stick to on a regular basis, and then there are supplements I will take for particular times when I know my diet or my health require the extra boost.

Magnesium is a staple. Not only is it vital for muscle recovery, but it also calms the nerves and aids in sleep. It is a vital ingredient in calcium absorption so to ensure your bones, muscle and nervous system are all in top shape, you want to be getting sufficient magnesium. It is estimated that approximately 80% of adults don't get the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of magnesium. Wholegrains, spinach, nuts and legumes are magnesium-rich but no food is especially high in magnesium .The rise of paleo and high-protein diets are also seeing imbalanced diet contribute to lack of vitamins and minerals in adults.


I can't spoon-feed you potatoes and almonds, but I can recommend that if you're not eating these foods daily as well as calcium rich greens and dairy, you source a high quality magnesium supplement. My choice is the bioavailable, marine-sourced magnesium in lifestream Natural Magnesium ($24.95). Because it's in powder form, you can add it to smoothies or take smaller or larger doses depending on requirements.

I'm also a big fan of supplements that support digestive health. I take probiotics, which I've featured previously, and I also take Vitamin B and when my gut needs some TLC after I've been particularly ill or even just indulgent, I'll drink aloe vera juice or chlorophyll (beware the green tongue!). I like a spirulina or supergreens supplement too - but I tend to do this when I'm especially busy and need the extra immune support. Check out Planet Health for stockists.

Crazy over Coconuts - 100% Coconut Water

I am coming to this whole coconuts for health thing a little late in the game, sure, but I'm going crazy for coconut water. The paleo peeps can keep their bone broth but they are definitely onto something with this pre yoga, post barre tonic. So fresh.
The selling point for me is the purity. I don't want any sugared up, chemical additives and flavours loaded mass-market junk. Raw C coconut water is 100% pure green coconut water, totally natural and no added sugar or sodium.

Pete Evans bought into Raw C as part owner and has since had his name and image associated - but coconut water is not just for the paleo and superfood geeks. It is a great basis for smoothies and it is a much smarter alternative to diet drinks, soft drinks and sports drinks which are often full of sodium and preservatives.

Most supermarkets and health food, organic stores and cafes are stocking Raw C - but to save yourself the hunt, you can look up stockists by postcode or buy online.

This recipe is republished from the Raw C website. Happy digestive system, happy brain, happy days. Mint, cucumber, coconut water are the basis. Substitute the kale for spinach if you prefer. I like kiwi fruit rather than mango. Have fun working out your own signature blend.

Minty Fresh Green Smoothie

1 big handful of Spinach
1 big handful of baby Kale leaves
3 inch piece of Cucumber, peeled
6 (or more if you like) Fresh Mint leaves
2 Mango Cheeks
1 Frozen banana
1 Cup of Ice Blocks
2 Cups Natural Raw C coconut water
Blend, Drink and Enjoy!
Recipe by: @cookcleancusine

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Protein for Body, Mind and Muscle

Protein is essential for building, maintaining and restoring your muscle, especially if you're active.
There's a lot out there about what types, how much and the timing around it. So I'm going to make it simple and you can take it or leave it, but do read it.

Eat protein in the morning to recharge with nutrients. Protein also satiates the appetite so you are less likely to find yourself craving jelly beans at 10am. This can be as simple as milk (protein fortified is good), a handful of nuts, miso soup or soy-based cereal. Rolled oats (WHOLEGRAIN) or eggs (boiled or poached!) are also a fabulous source of protein.

Consuming protein before a work out kickstarts muscle synthesis (repairing and building muscle) throughout and even after hitting the weights.

Drink chocolate milk after a workout. Eat within half an hour of your workout. A milk-based smoothie is an excellent choice. Throw in some berries and you've got an antioxidant fix too!

Eat a fish, lean meat, soya/tofu based lunch. Go heavy on the protein in the middle of the day to ensure you have the energy to restore from your morning and have ongoing energy through the afternoon until evening. Don't ruin your meal by choosing high-fat, overly processed foods and please don't think a protein bar is a healthy choice. Yuck. Choose lean meat with a high protein content, like chicken, beef, lamb or kangaroo. Trimmed of fat, these are power foods.
Combined with fresh vegetables and a healthy choice of fat, you have a well-rounded and nutrient rich fuel for living. Healthy fats might include avocado, walnuts, coconut oil or inherently omega-3 rich foods like salmon and trout.

Snack on protein before dinner. A 250g tub of yoghurt, a smoothie, a handful of walnuts... your body will use the protein to repair and rebuild overnight.

Eat a protein-rich dinner. All the lunchtime protein options are great. You might also include a chickpea or kidney bean salad, quinoia or boiled egg.

Great picks: Salmon, Skinless Chicken Thigh, Wholegrain Rolled Oats, Kangaroo fillet, Quinoa, Eggs, Steak, Chickpeas, Homemade Protein Balls or slices.

Try this recipe from The Naked Kitchen: Chocolate Almond Protein Bars


Paleo Basics: interview with Scott Gooding

I do not advocate fad diets. I'm not vegan or gluten/dairy intolerant. BUT I know that many people have sensititivies, allergies and reactions to particular foods and that is where the appeal of the paleo diet lies. I've just got my hands on Clean Living Paleo Basics by Luke Hines and Scott Gooding, published by Hachette Australia ($17.99).

There is a growing and valuable recognition that whole foods (unprocessed, as close to natural state as possible) are the best choice for optimum energy and health. For example, eating an organic apple from your local market beats an apple & nut muffin from the supermarket.

I love Luke and Scott's recipes - including smoothies, snacks, salads, dinners and sweet treats. It's a great reference for healthy, basic meals that are great for one or for the whole family. Luke and Scott are both qualified personal trainers in the fitness business too so they know food has to fuel an active, fit lifestyle.

I was really lucky to have Scott and Luke talk to me about their book and their paleo lifestyle. If you loved them on My Kitchen Rules, or even if you didn't catch it (like me!), here they are. Please note, these are OPINIONS on diet and health, not facts. What works for your body is different to your neighbour and your friend. 

I love Luke Hines' approach to lifestyle. "My mantra that I live by is Train Smart, Eat Clean and Feel Good. We must have synergy between how we move our body, what we consume and the way we think about life. It is about achieving balance, through mindfulness," he says.

While Luke gave me some fabulous information and opinion, it was Scott Gooding's responses on food, healthy mindset and wellbeing that really appealed to me. As a trainer, a chef, an author and a businessman, he's truly an inspiration.

Has your diet always been health-based or was there an event or issue that lead you to this focus?
I have always tried to eat healthy to the best of my knowledge at the time, looking back I can now see flaws from a health perspective in many foods I used to eat but I guess that is all part of the journey.  There have been a few events that have shaped what types of food I consume, one is particular was an injury I sustained in my back - my focus then became sourcing a diet that wasn't pro-inflammatory - hence the Paleo diet.

Dairy is a great source of calcium. How do you ensure adequate calcium in the Paleo diet?
Dairy may have calcium but it also contains many proteins and hormones which are designed for a growing calf, these compounds cause gut irritation and inflammation.  Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli provide an abundant source of calcium as does fish, shellfish, offal and meat.

A highly active and fit body usually requires adequate carbohydrate. Does it take time for the body to adjust to new sources of energy? What are the side effects?
If you are training at high intensity I believe you should be consuming some extra carbs, but generally minimal carbs is the way forward.  There is a transition between fuels sources which can leave you feeling unable to perform maximally and can leave you feeling fatigued but the body is quick to adapt.  Push through the transition period and then the body will acclimatise.

Beyond diet, what other approaches to exercise lifestyle and wellbeing do you recommend and live by?
I believe we should move our body everyday, whether its a gym session, walk, salsa, pilates or swim.  The session should be hard enough to work up a sweat and evoke a feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment on completion.  I think its paramount that we "switch off" from the modern world of social media, email and texts - this is vital for positive (real) communication.  Its certainly an area that I personally need to work on but I'm making in-roads

I have survived a deadly eating disorder and I am concerned by restrictive or extreme approaches to diet as I feel vulnerable people can vastly restrict their food intake under the guise of a healthy regime. Do you accept that there is a need to educate on paleo but not to demonise whole food groups?
Absolutely, knowledge is power ...and once you have knowledge you'll have the power to make informed choices around your health and lifestyle.  Its important to not demonize certain food groups but knowing why we eat some and not others is the key.

What's a great paleo lunch for someone without A lot of time to prepare but wants energy throughout the afternoon and before a 5.30pm workout?
Healthy food or paleo food often gets branded with the notion it takes time to prepare but it can be as simple as a fritatta, poached eggs with sweet potato fritter, lamb chops with broccolini, leftovers from the night before.

Here's a recipe from the book - Zucchini Linguine with Poached Rainbow Trout - fabulous choice for lunch or dinner!


Follow Scott and Luke on Facebook, Twitter and their website

Clean Living Paleo Basics by Luke Hines and Scott Gooding, published by Hachette Australia ($17.99)