Apricot coconut delight balls

apricot-coconut-delight

Bliss balls are my go-to when I need a sweet treat.

Blending the dried fruit with twice the quantity of nuts reduces the concentration of sugar and lowers the glycemic index meaning that the sugar is more slowly absorbed by the body.

Dried apricots are rich in potassium which helps the body maintain healthy blood pressure. They are also high in beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant that regenerates cells and supports eye health. Almonds and cashews are rich in vitamins and minerals, and provide a good plant-based source of protein.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 50g shredded coconut
  • 50ml coconut milk or coconut cream
  • 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut for rolling

Method

Add the nuts, dried apricots, shredded coconut and coconut milk/cream to a food processor and blend until all ingredients are well mixed but the nuts remain in small chunks resembling large breadcrumbs.

Remove the mixture and roll in the desiccated coconut creating balls – around 12 to 15 depending on how big you like them.

Protein Injection

To inject some extra protein, simply add a couple of tablespoons of your favourite vanilla protein powder plus a little extra coconut milk/cream when making the mixture.

 

Baba Ghanoush

baba-ghanoush
Baba ghanoush is a smoked eggplant/aubergine dish popular throughout the middle east. This particular style of baba ghanoush – made with tahini, garlic and lemon juice has its roots in Egyptian cuisine and is served with bread, however I love to eat it as a dip with fresh vegetables such as carrot, cucumber and capsicum.

Eggplants are high in phytonutrients and have powerful antioxidant qualities. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, eggplants contain significant amounts of chlorogenic acid which is credited for its cancer fighting properties and is also said to lower bad cholesterol and promote antiviral and antimicrobial functions within the body. Tahini is rich in minerals – particularly calcium and is said to aid the body with liver detoxification.

Enjoy this dish as a starter or a snack with fresh vegetables and you’ll be loading your body with vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large sized eggplant
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic or 2 large cloves of garlic
  • juice of one lemon (should be approximately 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Method

  • Heat a BBQ, chargrill or regular grill on your oven to a medium to high heat
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Take a fork and make incisions throughout the eggplant (around 10). This is a critical step – I’ve forgotten to do it one time and the eggplant exploded in my oven
  • Place the eggplant/aubergine on the bbq/chargrill or under the grill on your oven and allow the skin to blacken and wrinkle all over – this should take around 15 minutes
  • Place the eggplant in the oven and roast for 20 minutes until soft
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then peel (the skin should easily lift off at this stage)
  • Place the eggplant flesh and other ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth

Enjoy as is or drizzle with a little olive oil and some chilli.

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb

slow-cooked-lamb-shoulder

Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb

This is absolutely my favourite way to eat lamb. Slow cooking the meat makes it so tender and delicious, it just falls off the bone. I often serve to guests and it never fails to please.

Just as good as the flavour are the health benefits rendered by cooking the meat on the bone. Doing so creates a stock that’s absolutely packed full of nutrition and is great for boosting immunity, promoting healthy gut flora, reducing joint inflammation and promoting healthy hair, skin and nail growth.

It’s also an extremely quick and easy dish to make with a preparation time of only around 15 minutes. Make it on a Sunday morning and you’ll have a perfect Sunday night dinner to share with family or friends.

Ingredients

  • 1.8kg/4lb shoulder of lamb on the bone – this is just a guide, more or less is fine. The recipe also works fine with a deboned lamb shoulder.
  • 400ml/ 1¾ cup/ 14 fl oz beef stock (you can also use chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary
  • 1 x carrot (optional)
  • 1 x stick of celery (optional)

Method

De-skin the garlic cloves and cut into quarters (if the cloves are small you may only need to cut them in half). Make around 6 incisions in the lamb – if you’re cooking a bigger cut you may wish to make 8 incisions. Insert a half/quarter garlic clove in each incision along with a few rosemary spikes.

Heat a pan to medium high and add the lamb, fry until golden brown all round – this should only take a couple of minutes on each side but make sure you completely “seal” the meat, this will help lock in the flavour and moisture as the meat cooks. Once complete, add to the slow cooker (crock pot) or large casserole dish. Chop the onion, celery and carrot (if you’re using them – these will enhance the flavour of the stock) and add to the slow cooker/casserole dish. Pour over the stock and add any remaining cloves of garlic and rosemary to the dish.

If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 8 hours or if short of time cook on high for 4 hours. If cooking in a casserole dish in the oven cook for 4 hours at 140 degrees Celsius or 360 Fahrenheit (make sure you have the lid on the casserole dish).

This dish is so tender and delicious it does not need gravy. I generally just rub a few Maldon sea salt flakes into the meat which I find really brings out the flavour.

If short of time, I serve the lamb with a rocket and parmesan salad which makes a lovely, light compliment to this rich meat. This dish is also delicious served with steamed green beans and roast vegetables.

Drain and set aside the stock to use in soups or broths. It will keep in the freezer for several months.

Serves 4

Slow Cooked Spanish Chicken

slow-cooked-spanish-chicken

This dish is so full of flavour, it’s a versatile crowd pleaser. Make a big batch and freeze half, it’s just as good the second time around.

Ingredients

  • 6 skinless chicken thigh fillets (choose organic or free range)
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 capsicums/belle peppers (this dish works best with one yellow and one red but two red are fine too)
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ cup/120ml/4 fl oz crushed tinned/canned tomatoes or tomato passata
  • ¼ cup/60ml/2 fl oz of white wine or chicken stock (this dish is delicious with white wine but you can easily substitute for chicken stock)
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, sliced in half
  • 6 artichoke hearts – quartered
  • 3 tablespoons/45ml/1.5 fl oz good quality extra virgin olive oil

Method

Trim any fat from the chicken thighs and cut into pieces (I cut each thigh into around 6 pieces). Heat a frying pan to a medium heat and add half the olive then fry the chicken in batches until the meat turns golden brown. Once cooked, add to the base of the slow cooker.

Whilst you’re cooking the chicken, finely chop the onions and garlic and de-seed and the capsicum/belle peppers and cut into pieces. Bring another frying pan to a medium heat and add the remaining olive oil then cook the onion and garlic for around 3 minutes until softened. Add the paprika and capsicums/belle peppers and cook for another couple of minutes stirring continuously.

Add the vegetables to the slow cooker (place on top of the chicken), then mix the crushed tomatoes/tomato passata and white wine/vegetable stock and add this over the chicken and vegetable mix. It may seem that there’s not enough liquid but rest assured there will be plenty.

Cook on low for 7 hours.

Just before you’re ready to serve, transfer to a pan (over a low to medium heat), add the olives and artichoke hearts and reduce a little. Serve with steamed green beans and broccoli. This dish is also delicious on a bed of rice if you prefer a more substantial meal.

Serves 4

Note, I’ve tried cooking with chicken on the bone then removing the bones prior to serving but I find the chicken flavour over powers the vegetables. However, there are compelling health benefits associated with eating bone broth (as long as you choose good quality organic/free range meat). So if you don’t mind a strong chicken flavour, choose skinless chicken thighs on the bone and be careful to remove the bones before serving. The dish will end up with more liquid so you will need to reduce it on the stove a little longer prior to serving.