Caramelised Carrot and Mung Bean Salad

IMG_7987Up until a year ago I had never seen (let alone cooked or eaten) mung beans. I had seen mung beans sprouts in the supermarket but I had never seen the actual dried beans which I think are quite attractive and look like glossy green gems. Here is what they look like uncooked:

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Mung beans are incredibly healthy and can be considered a functional food. This means they have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing numerous important nutrients like folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, and fibre, scientific studies have found that mung beans have certain physiological functionalites. These include antitumour activity (see here), antioxidant activity (see here), antidiabetic activity (see here), antihypertensive activity (see here), and the ability to lower plasma cholesterol (see here)  and inhibit LDL oxidation (see here). Wow, who knew? Continue reading “Caramelised Carrot and Mung Bean Salad”

Spiced Red Lentils with Cucumber Yoghurt

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This beautiful dish is another recipe I adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. I love that cookbook and am very excited about getting my hands on Plenty More, the sequel that is coming out in October. I love this dish because it relies on numerous exotic spices to flavour the dish instead of using a lot of salt. Most people in Western (and some Eastern) cultures consume excess salt above the level that is healthy. A high salt diet can not only lead to high blood pressure, but to osteoporosis, obesity, stomach cancer, kidney stones, and stroke. Check out the AWASH (Australia’s Division of World Action on Salt and Health) website here for more information on the health effects of excess salt and tips for reducing your salt intake. Continue reading “Spiced Red Lentils with Cucumber Yoghurt”

Mediterranean Clam Stew with Tuscan Kale and Cabbage


030The Mediterranean Diet has received a lot of press this year as countless studies have uncovered the numerous health benefits of this style of eating. Evidence has shown that the Med Diet can increase lifespan, prevent cancer, protect against metabolic syndrome,control diabetes, ward off Parkinson’s disease, lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated “bad” cholesterol levels, and even slash the risk of Alzheimer’s!  In fact, researchers found that women who followed a healthy Mediterranean diet during middle age were about 46% more likely to live past the age of 70 without chronic illness and without physical or mental problems than those with less-healthy diets. You can find that study here.

Continue reading “Mediterranean Clam Stew with Tuscan Kale and Cabbage”

Pan Fried Lima Beans with Feta, Spinach and Sumac

009Are you trying to incorporate more legumes into your diet and just don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you need an elegant dish to serve a vegetarian at a dinner party? Look no further than this excellent dish that I have modified from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I adore his recipes and love his mix of fresh ingredients and middle eastern spices. Do not be afraid of using Lima beans. These are not the “slima” beans we ate as kids in the school cafeteria. These beans are made from scratch and will melt in your mouth. I promise! And don’t forget legumes are important for maintaining blood sugar levels as they are among the lowest glycemic index (GI) foods, and they are high in soluble fibre which helps slow down the rate nutrients are absorbed into the body. Continue reading “Pan Fried Lima Beans with Feta, Spinach and Sumac”

Roasted Vegetables

The results of a comprehensive survey of the dietary habits of Australians were released this week with depressing news. Only 6.8% of Australians are eating the recommended number of serves of vegetables each day. What are the daily recommended number of serves of vegetables?

Age group # of Serves of Vegetables per day
Men 6
Women 5
Children aged 12-18 boys 5 1/2
Children aged 12-18 girls 5
Children aged 9-11 5
Children aged 4-8 4 1/2
Children aged 2-3 2 1/2

One serving equals a 1/2 cup cooked vegetables, 1/2 a medium potato (french fries and chips don’t count!) or 1 cup of raw vegetables like salad.

So how do you get enough serves of vegetables each day? Don’t wait until dinner because it is hard to fit them all in one meal. One way I get my family to meet the recommendations is to roast up a big batch of veggies on Sunday night, store them in a container in the refrigerator, and use them each day to create quick and healthy meals. I promise you, this is a HUGE time saver.

Start with a variety of vegetables. Choose the rainbow and try to pick what’s in season. You can change the mix each week to keep it interesting.
IMG_7609 Continue reading “Roasted Vegetables”

Persian Pomegranate Pumpkin Salad with Baharat, Bulgur and Brussels Sprouts

IMG_7555This colourful warm salad is a celebration of autumn. The flavours are so delicious and unique that I promise even the biggest Brussels sprouts haters will be converted! Bulgur, commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisines, is whole-grain and high in fibre. Pomegranate seeds add beautiful colour to the salad while also increasing the antioxidant content with their polyphenols and high levels of flavonoids that protect against heart disease and cancer. Brussels sprouts, a cruciferous vegetable is on the American Institute for Cancer Research’s list of “Foods that Fight Cancer.”(1) See their website here. They are full of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, vitamin K and glucosinolates (compounds that contain sulphur and nitrogen). Glucosinolates form isothiocyanates and indoles in the body. Isothiocyanates (like sulphoraphane) protect against cancer by binding to proteins in cancer cells and slowing their growth or causing the cancer cells to die. In addition, isothiocyanates and indoles have been shown to decrease inflammation in the body.(2) Continue reading “Persian Pomegranate Pumpkin Salad with Baharat, Bulgur and Brussels Sprouts”

Chipotle Sweet Potato & Bean Chili with Coconut Cornbread

IMG_7517This week is Meat Free Week here in Australia so I am posting a delicious smoky, hearty chili recipe that even the biggest meat eater will love!  I adapted this recipe from a cookbook called Spilling the Beans. The use of chipotle in adobo sauce gives it a smoky flavour, which when combined with beans makes an excellent meat substitute. Chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeño chilies. Here in Australia you can find cans of chipotle in adobo sauce from specialty fruit and veg shops. Continue reading “Chipotle Sweet Potato & Bean Chili with Coconut Cornbread”

Kale and Caramelized Onion Pizza

This pizza is a family favourite in our house. I adapted the recipe from the River Cottage Veg Every Day Cookbook. It is loaded with kale and onion and garlic, all nutritional powerhouses. Kale is especially healthy as it is loaded with the carotinoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that are important in preventing eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.(1)  When cooked at a high temperature, the kale comes out tasting almost sweet. This combined with the caramelized onions make this pizza irresistible!IMG_7489

Continue reading “Kale and Caramelized Onion Pizza”