Snapper with capsicum, olive and caper salsa and wilted spinach

snapper-salsa-spinachThis is a delicious, light and tasty dish that’s easy to prepare and bursting with nutrition. Here are some of the health benefits.

Capsicum/belle peppers are rich in vitamin C and contain an abundance of carotenoids. Cartonoids are antioxidants that help the body fight free radicals, boost the immune system and if consumed regularly through diet help protect the body against cancer and heart disease.

Capers are high in antioxidants and are an excellent source of the flavonoid rutin which strengthens capillaries and support healthy blood circulation.

Olives are rich in a diverse range of phytonutrients noted for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, some of which are unique to olives. One special unique quality of olives is that they contain properties that have been shown to act as anti-histamines at a cellular level, which is particularly beneficial for those suffering from allergies.

Basil contains unique antibacterial qualities that have been linked to helping inhibit several species of pathogenic bacteria that have become resistant commonly used antibiotics  (types of bacteria that can cause infection).

Spinach is well known for being rich in iron but it’s also an excellent source of magnesium and folate and just one cup serve (which is slightly less than that used in this recipe) contains almost 1000% of the RDI of vitamin K, which is plays an integral role in optimal bone health.

Snapper and other white fish fillets provide a good source of lean protein.

INGREDIENTS

Fish

  • 4 x 180-220g (roughly 7 oz) snapper fillets with skin on (or you can use any other similar tasting white fish fillets)
  • 2 x tablespoons ghee or if you prefer you can use grape skin oil (both have a high smoke point)

Salsa

  • 1 x red capsicum/belle pepper
  • 1 x green capsicum/belle pepper
  • Half an onion (I like to use red/Spanish onions)
  • 1 tablespoon small capers
  • 50g / 1.75oz pitted black olives
  • 1.5 x tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 x tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Good handful of fresh basil leaves (around 15g/half an oz)

Spinach

  • 200g/7oz baby spinach leaves
  • 1 garlic clove finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

METHOD

Salsa

  1. Place the capsicum/belle peppers under a medium-high grill until the skin starts to turn black. Turn until blackened on all sides then place in a plastic bag (ideally a sealable plastic sandwich-type bag) for 10 minutes or so and allow to cool. You can achieve the same effect by cutting the capsicums/belle peppers in two, removing the seeds and placing on a bbq (skin side down) for around 10 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the onion, capers and black olives and place in a bowl then cover with the red wine vinegar and olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper
  3. Once the capsicums/belle peppers are ready, remove from the plastic bag and peel off the skin. Remove the seeds from the middle and roughly chop then add to the salsa mixture
  4. Finely chop the basil and mix through the salsa

Fish & Spinach

  1. Bring a stainless steel frying pan to a high heat. Once hot add the ghee or grape seed oil then add the fish, skin side down. It will want to curl up so if possible add a fish weight (the same effect can be achieved by pressing the fish down with a heavy stainless steel).
  2. Allow to the fish to cook for a couple of minutes until you can see it’s cooked almost half way through then turn and cook the other side for a couple of minutes
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the spinach by bringing a separate frying pan to a medium high heat.
  4. When the fish is almost ready, add the the olive oil to the pan and fry the sliced garlic for 30 seconds or so then add the spinach and flash fry until it’s wilted (this shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to a minute)
  5. Season the spinach with a little salt and pepper

Transfer the spinach to 4 plates, place the fish on top and top the fish with the salsa. If you prefer, this dish works nicely on a bed of steamed green beans or with a mixed leaf green salad.

Serves 4

 

Pear, parsley, lime and ginger green smoothie

Green-smoothie-ginger-pear-parsely-lime3

This smoothie is one of my favourite hangover tonics. The ginger helps alleviate nausea and is wonderful for the digestive system, stimulating saliva and digestive enzymes.

Green leafy vegetables (including parsley) are rich in vitamins and minerals. Kale is claimed to be one of healthiest foods on the planet and is extremely high in vitamin K (a one cup serving of raw kale gives more than 600% RDI of vitamin K!). It’s also extremely high in beta carotene which the body turns into vitamin A. Green leafy vegetables are high in antioxidants and have an anti inflammatory on the body. There has been a great deal of research in modern times into the cancer fighting effects these types of foods have on the body.

Cucumber has an extremely high water content so is great for hydration, and is wonderfully alkalising so perfect on a hangover when your body will likely be acidic. Much modern literature points to the benefits of consuming a diet of ~60% alkalising foods (or more) from the reduction of yeast and fungus in the body to helping fight cancer.

Lemons and limes are also alkalising, rich in vitamin C and contain folate which plays a role in the body helping repair DNA damage.

My partner and I enjoy this smoothie on regular basis but it’s a real winner on a hangover!

Ingredients

  • Approx 170g/6 oz dark green leafy vegetables (I use a mixture of kale, baby spinach, asian greens. Basically whatever I have on hand.)
  • 15g or ½ oz ginger
  • Generous handful parsley (around 15g or ½ oz)
  • 1 x medium sized lebanese cucumber or around a third of a telegraph cucumber (around 150g or 5.25 oz)
  • 1 x small lime or half a lemon
  • 300ml coconut water
  • 250ml water
  • half a cup of ice (or more if you like it really cold)

Method

Add all the ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth.

Serves 2

Green-smoothie-ginger-pear-parsely-lime

Quinoa and chia seed breakfast bowl

quinoa-chia-breakfast-bowl

This recipe makes a delicious, versatile breakfast that can be enjoyed chilled in summer or warm in winter. It’s wonderfully portable so can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for several days. Top with your favourite nuts, fruit and seeds and mix with coconut or almond milk.

I’ve included oats in this recipe but if you’re gluten free you can simply substitute with more quinoa and chia seeds. If using oats I suggest you soak them separately over night (this helps neutralise the phytic acid which can be hard for the body to digest), however if you’re short on time just mix everything together an hour in advance and you’ll be ready to go.

Health Benefits

A staple food in Central and South America, quinoa is a gluten-free grain revered for its health benefits. It’s rich in minerals and antioxidants and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which is thought to lower the risk of cancer. Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids and is therefore considered a whole protein, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians.

Considered a superfood by many, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, high in fibre, minerals and antioxidants and make an excellent inclusion in the diet.

Oats are high in beta-glucan fibre which is said to lower the risk of bad cholesterol in the body. They also contain unique antioxidants which have been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Throw in some nuts and berries and this breakfast bowl is teaming with a range of nutrients that will help you power through the morning.

Ingredients

  • 50g/1.75oz cooked quinoa (I like to soak my quinoa before cooking and then freeze in batches – you can use pre-cooked quinoa straight from the freezer in this recipe)
  • 20g / 0.7oz / 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 20g oats / 0.7oz (optional – you can substitute with an extra 10g of chia seeds and 10g of quinoa)
  • 250ml /8.5 fl oz drinking coconut milk (I like Coco Quench) or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or natural vanilla essence
  • half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 large ripe banana

Toppings of your choice

  • 30g chopped mixed nuts (I like almonds and hazelnuts)
  • Mixed berries or other fruit in season

Method

As noted above, steps 1 and 2 below are optional. If short on time simply add all the ingredients listed in steps 1 and 2 together and chill for an hour then move to step 4.

  1. If using oats, cover them in filtered water (room temperature) and allow to soak overnight, ideally for 12 hours
  2. Place the quinoa, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg in a bowl and cover with the coconut or almond milk – leave to soak overnight in the fridge
  3. Drain the oats, rinse and add to the quinoa mix
  4. Mash two thirds of the banana into the quinoa mixture (leave the rest to garnish) – your breakfast bowl is ready
  5. If you prefer a warm breakfast, place the mixture in a saucepan over a low heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes until warmed through (you may wish to add a little extra milk)
  6. Serve topped with the reserved banana, nuts and berries or other fruit in season

Serves 2

quinoa-chia-breakfast-bowl2

White cabbage and iceberg salad

white-cabbage-iceberg-salad3
I’m loving this white cabbage salad at the moment. The combination of herbs, capers and toasted sunflower seeds coupled with the white wine and lemon dressing give it a really unique flavour. I’m not usually the biggest fan of dill but it really works well in his recipe.

Best of all the cabbage is super nutritious. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, cabbage is rich in antioxidants and like other cruciferous vegetables has been credited for its cancer fighting properties. Cabbage is high in glucosinolates, a group of natural plant compounds that help the body stimulate detoxification and fight inflammation, activities that are particularly beneficial in the fight against breast, bladder, colon and prostate cancer. Cabbage is also wonderfully soothing for the stomach and digestive tract.

I didn’t used to think too much about the health benefits of herbs but parsley is extremely rich in vitamin K which plays a major role in promoting healthy bones and supporting calcium absorption and blood clotting within the body. Dill is a great source of calcium and although the serve in this dish is small it’s important to consume nutrients from a wide variety of natural plant sources. The generous sprinkling of sunflower seeds provides a good source of vitamin E and a range of trace minerals.

Ingredients

  • 200g /7oz white cabbage (around a quarter of a small-to-medium sized cabbage)
  • 100g /3.5 oz iceberg lettuce (around a quarter of a small-to-medium sized iceberg lettuce)
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 small eschalots/scallions/small spring onions
  • generous handful of flat parsley leaves (around 10g / ⅓ oz)
  • small handful dill leaves (around 5g/ ⅕ oz)
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (approximately the juice of a small-medium sized lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon good quality white wine vinegar

Method

  1. Toast the sunflower seeds for a couple of minutes until golden brown (I do this under the grill or in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat). Check/toss regularly while cooking to make sure they don’t burn. Set aside to cool
  2. Wash the lettuce and cabbage and slice into long thin strips then place in a large salad bowl
  3. Finely chop the white part of the eschalots/scallions/spring onions, the parsley, dill and capers and mix through the cabbage and lettuce
  4. Drizzle lightly with the dressing (you’ll only need a couple of tablespoons, not the whole lot). Mix through thoroughly and add a little extra if need be
  5. Season with salt and pepper then add the sunflower seeds and mix through

This dish works well topped with some poached chicken or served with fish or with legumes for vegans/vegetarians. It also tastes great with half an avocado chopped and mixed through.

Serves 2

Paleo friendly strawberry and coconut muffins

almond-strawberry-paleo-muffin
I’ve been playing around with paleo muffin recipes trying to find something that tastes good but is relatively low in sugar.

Rice malt syrup (also known as rice syrup and brown rice syrup) has become popular in Australia over the last few years thanks to the I Quit Sugar program.

According to the Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar for Life, rice malt syrup is “a relatively slow-releasing sweetener so it doesn’t dump on the liver as much as pure glucose”.

The challenge when cooking with rice malt syrup is that it’s not as sweet as regular sweeteners so does take a little adjusting to if you’re just starting out on the path of sugar reduction. In this recipe, I’ve given the option to substitute with a little honey if you prefer or are strictly paleo.

In place of regular flour I use almond meal which is delicious but can be a little heavy so to balance this and make the texture of the muffins as light as possible, I whisk the egg whites separately and fold them in at the end. Be sure not to skip this step.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 220g/7.75 oz/2 cups almond meal
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz rice malt syrup (if you prefer a little sweeter, substitute 2 tablespoons of rice malt syrup with 2 tablespoons of honey) OR for strictly paleo use half a cup of honey instead of the rice malt syrup
  • 125 ml/4.25 fl oz/half a cup of coconut oil
  • 60g/2oz/half cup shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (or I use substitute with half a teaspoon of bicarb of soda and quarter of a teaspoon of cream of tartar)
  • Couple of drops of natural vanilla essence
  • 12-16 strawberries (depending on the size)

Method

  1. If the coconut oil is solid, place the container over a pot of hot water until the oil becomes runny
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/340 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Trim the tops from the strawberries and cut into quarters (or more if using large strawberries)
  4. Separate the eggs and place into two separate bowls
  5. Add the rice malt syrup to the egg yolks and beat for 2 minutes at a high setting, then add the almond meal, baking powder (or substitute), cinnamon, shredded coconut, coconut oil and coconut cream and blend again until mixed well
  6. Stir through the strawberries
  7. Separate, whisk the egg whites for a couple of minutes until peaks start to form
  8. Gently fold the egg whites through the muffin batter mixture and pour into paper muffin cups (you’ll need about 12 large muffin cups)
  9. Bake for 35 minutes then test – if firm to the touch, insert a skewer and if it comes out dry remove from the oven. Otherwise bake for an additional 5 minutes or so until cooked through.

Makes 12 large muffins – suitable for freezing

Coconut Berry Jelly

Coconut-berry-jelly
Looking for a light and healthy start to the week?

This coconut jelly takes just a couple of minutes to prepare and is a totally portable healthy breakfast or snack.

Made with good quality gelatine, it’s wonderfully nourishing for the digestive tract and contains 18 amino acids – including each of the essential 8 amino acids. Regular consumption of good quality gelatine can help restore the body’s mucosal stomach lining which is particularly beneficial for those with leaky gut syndrome, food intolerances, allergies and inflammatory conditions.

Gelatine is also a great source of absorbable collagen which promotes healthy hair, skin and nails and is beneficial for the joints and those suffering from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Ingredients

• 1 cup/250ml/9 fluid ounce of drinking coconut milk or almond milk
• 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatine
• ½ teaspoon of natural vanilla essence
• ½ teaspoon of stevia
• ¼ cup of fresh berries (I choose around 4 strawberries and 6 blueberries but if it’s winter you can use frozen berries or substitute with juicy citrus fruit such as navel orange)

Method

Chop the fruit and place in a small glass container such as an old jam jar.

Add the gelatine and half the milk to a small saucepan and heat to a low heat until the gelatine has dissolved, then add the rest of the milk and mix well then pour over the fruit and place in the fridge until set.

Eat alone or top with some linseed, sunflower seed and almond mixture (LSA). For LSA combine a teaspoon of linseeds, a teaspoon of sunflower seeds and approximately 15 almonds in a high powered blender, food processor or coffee grinder and blend until it forms a powder, then sprinkle over the jelly.

Serves 1

Red Grapefruit Green Smoothie

red-grapefruit-green-smoothieGreen smoothies are such a great way to start the day, your body and mind will love you!

Prepared in minutes, there’s really no easier way to consume a day’s recommended intake of green vegetables than by blending them together into smoothie.

I’ve played with dozens of recipes and this one is a clear winner in terms of taste and nutritional value.

  • The baby spinach and kale are loaded with Vitamin K, A, antioxidants and minerals
  • The kale and grapefruit are excellent sources of vitamin C
  • Red grapefruit is rich in lycopene which has been credited for its cancer fighting properties
  • Cucumber and coconut water are both alkalising and provide a delicate flavour
  • The avocado adds creaminess to the texture and its fat content helps your body absorb the high contents of vitamin A & K from the vegetables

My litmus test as always – I tested on my fiancé (who is driven by flavour over nutritional value) and it got his tick of approval so it’s a winner in our household.

Ingredients

  • 4 large kale leaves = approx 150g or 5 1/4 oz (leaves trimmed from stems)
  • 1 cup of baby spinach leaves (approx 80g / 2.8 oz)
  • 1 red grapefruit (you can substitute for yellow grapefruit if more readily available)
  • half a Lebanese cucumber or around a quarter of a telegraph cucumber
  • Half an avocado
  • 300ml / 10 fl oz coconut water
  • 200 ml / 7 fl oz water
  • quarter cup of ice

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth (depending on how powerful your blender is, this should take anywhere between 15-45 seconds).

Don’t stress if you don’t have the exact amount of greens, if I run out of spinach I’ll make with kale alone, or if I’m short of kale I’ll use extra spinach. Similarly, if cucumbers are abundant I might throw in a whole Lebanese cucumber. You can also experiment with different greens.

The smoothie is best consumed reasonably quickly as the ingredients gradually oxidise once blended.

Serves 2