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”

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Super Rice

Are you tired of eating mundane brown rice everyday? Why not jazz it up with some quinoa and black or red rice. Quinoa is an excellent addition to rice as it adds protein, calcium, iron, and fibre. Black and red rice contain the antioxidant anthocyanin which can help fight against heart disease and cancer. Black rice creates a deep purple colour when cooked which can add a striking contrast to your dish. And this simple mixture of rice and quinoa has a complex nutty flavour that you will love!IMG_7642 Continue reading “Super Rice”

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.
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Kale and Freekeh Salad with Toasted Coconut and Mango Dressing

There is a new grain in town called Freekeh and it is freekehing delicious! It is actually an ancient grain from the Middle East but is relatively new in western countries. Freekeh is a type of wheat that is picked when green and then roasted which causes the grain to be higher in fibre, protein and nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Freekeh is also great for your eyes as it is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked with a reduced risk of macular degeneration. Freekeh is also very high in resistant starch, a type of fibre that has been shown to increase the production of ‘butyrate’ in your gut. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that has repeatedly been associated with a reduced risk of developing bowel diseases and is thought to help reduce cholesterol by suppressing cholesterol synthesis. See a CSIRO study on freekeh here.

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Macadamia Nut Dukkah Encrusted Pumpkin

This scrumptious vegetable dish will work well alongside any number of mains. Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix made up of nuts, seeds and spices. It is traditionally eaten by dipping bread in olive oil and then into the Dukkah mix.  You can use store bought Dukkah, usually found at specialty food stores, or you can make your own with the recipe below. It only takes a few minutes to make and lasts for up to a month. It is so versatile you can sprinkle Dukkah on vegetables, salads, fish, chicken, eggs and more!

The pumpkin I used is a Jarrahdale, a native blue Australian pumpkin, that sprouted voluntarily out of my compost pile. You can use any type of pumpkin or winter squash, like butternut. Pumpkins and winter squashes are so healthy they are included on the American Institute of Cancer Research’s list of foods that fight cancer. See link here. These vegetables are full of fibre, vitamins A, C, and E and B vitamins including folate. They also contain the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron . They are also loaded with carotenoids which are potent antioxidants that protect our genes and tissues from damage. In 2012, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that having optimal amounts of dietary carotenoids protects the skin from sun damage and helps maintain skin health and appearance.(1)
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