Monday, October 9, 2017

Healthy Autumn Recipes For Those Chilly Nights In

Just because the skies are growing grey and dark, doesn’t mean that we have to resign ourselves to pulling the duvets up over our heads and burying our faces in a selection bag of chocolate bars. While we may be in the grip of Seasonal Affective Disorder, that’s no reason why we shouldn’t resist the temptation to be insular and inactive and subsist on junk food. The reality is that there are plenty of healthy and nutritious yet warming and comforting foods that are perfect for chilly nights in either alone, with the one we love or as friends as part of a cheerfully cozy dinner party.

The trick is moderation

Remember that we have the seasonal excess of Christmas to look forward to, so it’s important to remember that as well as trying to be as active as possible we remember the virtue of moderation. As much as our hibernation instinct may be telling us to load up on empty calories and crawl into bed, there’s a great deal of value in portion control. Many of us also find ourselves drinking more at this time of year and (for obvious reasons) it’s important to be responsible here too. Alcohol can slow your metabolism and compromise your fitness goals so it’s important not to accompany your alcohol intake with yet more empty calories. For a less caloric option go for spirits with high fiber juices or sugar free mixers like the recipes this review Kikori Japanese whiskey gives us. By embracing moderation, the battle’s already half won.

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Roasted squash, pancetta and chestnut risotto

All the flavors of autumn are reflected in this healthy, high fiber dish. Cut the peeled squash into slender spirals and accompany it with quartered roasted chestnuts alongside your favourite seasonal greens, shallots, sage garlic, 6-8 slices of crispy pancetta and warming chilli flakes amidst a base of arborio rice (or pearl barley for a healthier option) cooked in vegetable stock or bouillon. This dish is quick and easy to make as well as being a great comfort food on dark, drizzly evenings.

Moroccan squash, chickpea and cavolo nero stew

A great protein and fiber rich option that’s great for veggies and vegans accompanied with steaming green beans and carrots. The large chunks of butternut squash lend the dish substance while the flavor comes from a combination of bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, toasted fennel seeds and warming harissa paste. Not only is this great, warming comfort food but it’s super nutritious, too! In fact, one portion of this represents three of your five-a-day portions of fruit and veg.

Roasted cauli-broc bowl with tahini hummus

The reason many of us find ourselves seduced by high fat, high sugar, nutritionally void convenience foods is because we tell ourselves it’s too complicated and time consuming to prepare healthier fare. This dish, however, proves that nothing could be further from the truth. The combination of quinoa, baby spinach, cauliflower and broccoli means that the dish is incredibly nutrient rich while a drizzling of olive oil, tahini and hummus will ensure a great balance between healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and good quality protein.





Monday, October 2, 2017

Eating Yourself Slim? It’s Easier Than You Think!

Many people think that dieting and losing weight is all about getting enough exercise. While it’s an important part of your weight loss routine, it’s also important to keep an eye on what you’re eating. Your food and drink choices have a huge impact on your weight, and if you’re not careful then you’ll keep putting on weight despite working out and trying to keep the calories down.

Image: Pexels

Count those calories

People don’t realise how many calories they actually take in until they start counting. Use a simple smartphone app or an online website to track your calories so you can monitor how much you’re actually eating. You’ll find that certain snacks and foods, such as soda and biscuits, contain a lot of calories but very little nutrients. In fact, many of these foods are known as empty calories because they contribute to your weight gain but don’t contribute to your health. It’s been said many times, but cutting out these types of foods is important, and the only way to realise how big of an effect they have on your health is to count calories and learn it the hard way.

Let’s take an example to really show how bad these calories are. A bowl of cereal is roughly 300 calories. A bowl of oatmeal with a banana is about 350 calories. A baked potato with some sour cream and salsa is around 300 calories. These are all fantastic lunch and breakfast options, but now let’s compare them to common snacks. A 500ml bottle of coke contains roughly 210 calories and regular Snickers bar has almost 230 calories. As you can see, these sweet snacks and drinks have so many calories that they could account for an entire meal, yet they are less filling and don’t pack the nutrients that a proper meal does.

Choosing the right foods to eat

One of the best ways to get the right foods is to look at diet plans such as the HCG diet, Mediterranean diet and Atkins diet. These diets are perfect for beginners because they are well-known, have plenty of research backing them and there are many websites that give out sample meal plans. This makes these diets easy to follow. Assuming you’ve got the discipline to follow them, you’ll find that they’re great for controlling your calories.

The aim of the game is to eat foods that are good for you and low in calories. This is how you “eat yourself slim”—by replacing bad foods with better ones that are equally as filling. Here are a couple of examples of good foods that are low in calories and packed with nutrients:

  • Celery - At 16 calories per cup, celery is a delicious and crunchy snack, but it’s not for everyone.
  • Kale - Kale is around 5 calories per cup and is packed full of nutrients that can keep us healthy.
  • Cucumbers - Cucumbers sit at roughly 15 calories per cup. They are mainly made up of water and are delicious and refreshing in salads and even drinks.
  • Broccoli - 31 calories per cup and packed full of fibre, minerals and vitamins.

These are just some of the important foods you should be thinking about when losing weight. They’re all low in calories, packed full of good nutrients and are cheap as well.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Planning The Perfect Girl's Night In

You’re bound to have had enough nights out with your besties, so why not switch things up a little and plan a girl’s night in at home, which can be as sophisticated or as relaxed as you want. You’ll save money on buying a new outfit or pair of shoes, and you won’t have to worry about everyone getting home safely afterwards. Staying in might just become your new going out, and you can all take it in turns to be the hostess.

As long as you’re with your favourite people, and there’s plenty of catching up, food, and atmosphere; there’s no reason why you can’t all enjoy a great girl’s night in together. The following are some ideas and inspiration for the ultimate evening of fun with your friends, in the comfort of your own home.

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Food

The food has to be worth staying in for, so think about delicious treats that you don’t eat every day, and hang out together as you cook up some fresh homemade cuisine. Baked delights, like cupcakes and cookies, are the perfect, pretty snack to nibble on together, and they’ll make the perfect partner for a glass of something special. Make sure there’s plenty of savoury snacks too; bowls of potato chips, nuts, and crudités with dips like guacamole and hummus, will ensure that everyone’s taste buds are satiated.Give a homemade pizza recipe a go, and partner it with an array of salads; your food doesn’t have to be complicated, just ensure it's tasty and moreish, so everyone will want to tuck in.

Drink

Try and provide an array of beverages to suit all your guests; soft drinks, mixers, and fruit juice are the perfect way to make some non-alcoholic punch or mocktails. For something a little more sophisticated; check out some fizz, white, or a red wine sale and stock up to save money, as you can keep some bottles for next time. Of course you can always ask people to bring their own if they have a specific preference; however, it’s always nice to have a selection on offer for your guests, to accompany and complement their food.

Fun

You could turn the night into a movie night; choose some of your guilty pleasure films, or perhaps a horror selection to celebrate upcoming Halloween. Maybe your group of besties prefer a board or card game, where you can sit around a table together with your snacks and gossip as you all play. Pamper evenings are another great excuse to get your comfy clothes or pyjamas on and indulge in some face masks, nail painting, and putting the world to rights.

Grab you duvets, throws, cushions, and pillows, and make your living area into a giant cosy-zone; everyone will enjoy the relaxed, laid-back vibes of the night, and will appreciate not having a hangover to deal with the next day. Be careful; your home might just become the most popular place to hang out on a Friday and a Saturday night, and you don’t want to have to start charging for your excellent hostess skills!






Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Morning After The Night Before: Food & Drink Choices

The morning after the night before.

It’s such a simple sentence. Self-explanatory; perhaps even over-explaining the simple progression of time. However, it’s a phrase that tends to bring a few memories to mind. It makes you think of the times you went out with friends and didn’t get home until 4am; or the nights when you couldn’t sleep for hours on end, before you finally admitted defeat and got out of bed. It’s a phrase that describe mornings we all encounter, but when we’re really not ready for a new day to be beginning.

On mornings when you’re feeling a lack of sleep, it’s important to select food and beverages that are going to be able to give you a boost. While food and drinks are never going to be able to replace a good night’s sleep, they can at least get you through the day without falling asleep at your desk. So when you don’t have any pre made banana oat muffins (and you’re definitely not feeling inclined to cook up a new batch), what are your best options for pick-me-up food and drinks?

Coffee

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Well, it was inevitable wasn’t it? Coffee is the drink of the modern world, and if you’re in need of a good jolt of get-up-and-go, then this is where you need to turn.

On mornings when you’ve had plenty of sleep, you’re not going to mind fiddling with a French press -- but on the sleep deprived mornings, you’re going to want a coffee machine. This is a worthwhile investment if you’re no stranger to late nights, but it needn’t be expensive; browse around and set yourself a budget, such as insisting on finding the best coffee machine under $200. You’ll thank yourself the next time you have a late night and then have to deal with an early start.

Nuts

Nuts are fantastic providers of energy. Not only are they nutritionally-dense, but they also operate slow-release energy. Studies have shown that people who consume nuts for breakfast are more energetic during the day and are less prone to snacking on food to keep them going. So if you only have time to grab a quick breakfast before rushing off to work, a handful of nuts will do you the world of good.


Water

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The more water you drink, the more alert you will feel. However, it’s important not to just drink without caution. If you drink more than a glass at a time, add a sprinkle of salt to each glass -- if you don’t, you could rinse your electrolytes, which will make you feel even worse. Even with salt, try not to drink more than one liter in an hour, or you might be at risk of water intoxication.

Cheese

Full of good, healthy fats and plenty of protein, cheese is the perfect morning after snack. It also feels a little indulgent, which might be just what you need if you’re feeling delicate!

One Thing You Don’t Want: Carbohydrates

Finally, a brief mention for what you should avoid on slow mornings. Carbohydrates are problematic when it comes to sustained energy. If you eat them, you might be in for an even rougher day. You’ll find yourself dealing with a sugar hit, which will feel good for a couple of hours… and then you’ll feel horrific. Stick with the first four items and save the carbs for your evening meal.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Celebrate The Change Of Season With A Cozy Dinner Party

Sadly, summer seems to have come to an end, and the colder weather is approaching. You’ve probably already packed the BBQ away, and are looking forward to spending cozy nights in, watching movies, and eating your favorite fall foods. However, just because the longer days are becoming shorter, and Halloween and the festive season aren’t quite here yet; you don’t have to become a recluse in your home and forget about the social side of life.

If braving the chilly air outside just isn’t going to happen when you want to meet up with friends and family; it’s the perfect excuse to throw a dinner party at home. Sharing food with your loved ones on a cold night will help you to ease into the new season happily and healthily. You won’t be sad that summer is over; you’ll be excited for all the new produce and delicious recipes you can cook. The following are some ideas for those who want to welcome fall in style and cook up a storm in their kitchen to feed their favorite people.

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The Theme And Ambience

Whether you fancy going all out and throwing a formal get-together, or you want a relaxed affair that focuses on the food and company; you’ll want to figure out where and how you’re going to serve what you’ve cooked. For something a little more special; use a linen tablecloth and lay the table with matching plates, side plates, and your best cutlery. You can polish the silverware (or whatever cutlery you’re choosing to use), and make sure that there’s a glass for every beverage. If you’re unsure about where to put what regarding your formal dinner table; see Martha Stewart and her advice for instructions.

Make sure the lighting is bright enough to see the food; however, stark, cold lights don’t feel very cozy, so try and stick to a warm glow from lamps and dimmed wall lights. Candles are the perfect addition to any dinner table. Whether you pop several tea lights in between dishes and condiments, or get your candelabra out and fill it with pillar candles; the flicker of them will add a snug touch to the dinner party. The little touches like place names and napkin rings won’t go unnoticed and can add to the theme of the party or tie in with your dining room or kitchen decor.

Make sure that seating is comfortable; you may be sat at the table for quite a while, long after the food has been finished, so add cushions and even throws for later in the evening, to give your guests a warm and cozy feeling. Remember that you’re the host or hostess; no matter how familiar your guests are, you’ll want to give them a special evening, so keep ensuing their drinks are topped up and they have everything they want throughout the night.

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Image credit

The Main Event (Why Everyone Came)

The food you serve will be the reason why everyone showed up; as well as your company of course. Therefore, you’ll want to plan your meal in advance and make sure that you can create each dish successfully on the night. The day of your dinner party is not the moment to be testing out a recipe for the first time, so stick to familiar meals and things that you’ve practiced beforehand.

Make sure you spend the week before gathering all your ingredients together and ensuring you’ve ticked everything off your list regarding what’s in the fridge, cupboards, and ready to be combined for a delicious feast. Save yourself time and energy by ordering quality, fresh meat or seafood online; you can see Citarella for more details, and reduce the number of trips to the grocery store. Order in any special ingredients in advance too; the more pressure you take off yourself on the day, the calmer you’ll be at your party, and you’ll be able to focus more on having the best time.

If you’re doing more than one course; ensure that the food flows well and the menu isn’t too heavy. Starters should never fill up a guest to the point they can’t enjoy the main course or dessert, so keep it light and packed full of flavor. Seafood is the perfect option to start; many dishes can be prepared in advance and served cold, so you won’t be rushing around putting items together on each plate. Salads, sides, bread, and nibbles on the table will give people the option to graze on as much or as little as they want, so fill the table with your favorite culinary choices to give them options and variety.

Your main meal should be the focus of the whole dinner party; whether you have Italian, Indian, or Greek heritage, enjoy a cuisine from a particular part of the world, or your mom’s stew is legendary; the starter and dessert should fit in around the main. Casual dinner parties can benefit from a big dish of food that everyone tucks into an decides on their own portion size; add sides in accompanying bowls and on plates and tell everyone to help themselves. Formal affairs tend to have plates of food that have been prepared in the kitchen and are brought out to the table; things like gravy, jus, and sauces can be added by the guests at the dinner table.

Something sweet to finish a meal off is always a welcome choice; choose a crowd pleaser, containing chocolate or fruit, or even both. If you’ve made a heavy main course; a lighter dessert, like a panna cotta, ice cream, or poached fruit will be a great way to end the meal. However, if there are some big appetites at the table; a pie or an accompanying cheese plate will fill your guests up, and they’ll leave smiling.

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Image via here

After Dinner Fun

The beauty of a dinner party with loved ones is that you can all stay and chat the night away after the food has gone, or continue to pick at that cheese plate while you put the world to rights. You don’t need to plan any major activities; maybe just think of some interesting topics of conversation, and let the evening flow naturally. A pack of cards can be fun, but gauge the mood and energy of the room before you choose to play any games. Prepare the best food you can and put your efforts into making your guests feel welcome, and you’ll have a great dinner party and welcome fall in style.







Tasty, Healthy Veggie Recipes That Will Make You Feel Amazing

Everyone knows that eating vegetables is good for you. They contain lots essential vitamins and minerals that keep the body working right, as well as being jam packed with fiber to help keep you regular. They also have the benefit of tasting delicious too. So what are you waiting for? Get cooking with the delicious vegetable recipes below!

Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts, not only do they taste great when they are cooked properly, hence the stir fry method in this recipe below. But they are packed with vitamin C and A, as well. Making them a tiny powerhouse of nutrients. So with that in mind check out the following recipe:  

Brussel sprouts - 250 g
Cashew nuts unsalted 50g
Soy sauce, light, reduce salt
Fresh ginger,
Sesame oil 1 tsp
Sesame seeds 1 tbsp
1 fresh chili
1 clove of garlic
Rice wine vinegar 1 tsp

What I love about this recipe it's that it is so easy. To start, add the fresh chili, ginger (peeled), garlic (peeled), and rice wine vinegar to a food processor and blitz until it’s a paste. Then add the sesame oil and stir.

Now on a low heat add this paste to a wok, to gently warm through and release all the flavors, while you chop the sprouts. Cut the bottom off each sprout and then chop into three prices length ways.

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Next, increase the heat in the wok, and add the cashew nuts, so they brown off a little. Then add the Brussel sprouts, and stir as until just cook through or are al dente. Before serving, season with a little soy sauce and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds for a delicious and very notorious meal in itself. As well as a fabulous accompaniment to another dish such as these tempura vegetables.

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Pasta

Have you had orzo pasta yet? It's sort of looks like rice but, yup you've guessed it! It's actually pasta. It tastes great too. Especially, when combined with some juicy tomatoes and grilled veg and just a dash of olive oil. Meaning you can enjoy a pasta hit with no creamy, calorific sauces in sight. Keep reading for the recipe:

75 g Orzo
1 Red pepper
Salt
Pepper
Lemon juice
1 large on the vine tomato
1 red onion
7 black olives
1 bunch chives
1 tsp olive oil

Simply cook the orzo as per the instructions on the packet. Then rinse, drain and leave to cool. While doing so, chop all the veg apart from the chives and olives in a food processor, and either dry fry in a pan, or pop in the oven to bake.

While this is happening, combine a ½ a lemon with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the olives and set aside.

Then chop the chives ready to use as a garnish. Once the veg has cooked; combine this with the cold orzo and the dressing. Add the chives to the top, and voila, you have your delicious and nutritious dish! It's that easy!


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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Drive Down The Cost Of Feeding Your Family


There’s no denying it, feeding a family (especially a large family) can be expensive. In fact, the average Australian family spends around $250 a week on their food bill. Sure, processed junk food is cheap, cheerful and convenient to cook but it’s also one of the surest ways to seriously damage your family’s health. For those of us who want to raise our families on a healthy diet with maximum whole foods and minimum processed convenience food things are a little more tricky… But not insurmountable. One might be forgiven for thinking that they have to make a fundamental choice between feeding their families healthily or feeding them inexpensively, but the simple truth is that you can have your cake and eat it… So long as you bake it yourself.


Yes, the simple fact is that the best thing you can do to drive down food costs is by cooking yourself. If you’re already rolling your eyes, don’t worry. This blog has already demonstrated how easy it is to feed your family healthily with a minimum of fuss. Here, we’re going to look at ways in which you can stay just as healthy while also driving down costs.

Ditch wasteful habits

As any Frugal Mom will tell you, eating healthily on a budget is much easier when you cut out bad habits. From aimless shopping in the supermarket to over reliance on restaurants and takeaways, we’re all guilty of forming wasteful habits when it comes to our diet. After a hard day’s work it’s easy to be tempted by takeout instead of cooking for the family but the monetary and health costs clearly outweigh the benefit of convenience.

Cut down on meat and dairy

Meat, fish, eggs, cheeses and milk are among the most expensive items on the supermarket shelf and they’re also the most damaging foods to the environment. Animal agriculture accounts for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the entire transportation industry. Loading up on whole grains and veggies will not only make your food shop cheaper and more sustainable but help the environment out too. A five bean chilli will feed your family just as well as a chilli con carne at a fraction of the price.

Have fun with leftovers

Leftovers are a great way to put yesterday’s food to good use but rather than just throwing them in the microwave you’d be astonished at how easy it is to repurpose yesterday’s food to make it even more delicious. A little imagination or invention go a long way. The carcass from yesterday’s roast can be picked and made into a delicious pie, yesterday’s chilli can be made into today’s burritos or old mashed potato can be pressed into delicious waffles for breakfast.

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Cook in batches

There will be some days when you have neither the time nor energy to cook. As such it’s important to have a backup supply of freezer food to prevent you from reaching for the takeout menu. If you’re making a curry, chilli, pasta dish or stew it makes good sense to make a little extra and stretch it across several meals.