Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Rice and Chickpea Salad

I'm heading up to Auckland to try to find somewhere for me and the boyfriend to live next year so this will just be a short post today.

I popped into an Asian food store the other week as I wanted to grab some sushi rice and seasoning. As I was wandering round (which I love doing in foreign food stores) I spied some black rice. I remembered reading somewhere that black rice has a great nutrition profile, so I thought that I would grab some to make myself some lunches for the week. This salad was my first go using black rice and I absolutely loved it. It has a lovely nutty flavour, with a slightly chewier texture than white rice. Black rice is also full of amino acids and antioxidants from the black colour.

When it cooks up it turns more of a purplish colour, and as you can see in the photo, it does turn other things a bit purple too. This salad is bulked out with chickpeas, avocado, red capsicum, celery and baby spinach, making for a perfect take-to-work lunch.

1 cup black rice (sometimes also called forbidden rice)
2 cups water
1 red capsicum
1 avocado
2 stalks celery
2-3 spring onions
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or you can use any dressing that you like)
Few large handfuls of baby spinach to serve

In a pot place the rice and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the rice for around 20 minutes or until almost all of the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

In the mean time dice the red capsicum and avocado. Slice the celery and spring onions thinly.

Once rice is ready add the apple cider vinegar or dressing, vegetables and chickpeas and mix well.

Serve on top of baby spinach.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lunchbox Solution- Leek and Blue Cheese (or feta) Mini Quiches

After a few painful weeks of waiting, I have finally gotten back the results for my honours dissertation and also my overall results. I am so happy to tell you that I will be graduating with first-class honours! It feels so amazing that all of the hard work, long hours and occasional melt-down has really paid off for me. So now I suppose I really need to get focused on my move away from my hometown to the big smoke of Auckland to start my marketing career. Apart from the excitement of starting this next stage of my life, I am also very excited to have a huge, huge range of places to eat my way around..... taste buds and camera, get ready!

Continuing on this exciting note, I also seem to be getting my food inspiration back! For quite a few weeks after finishing, I would look into the pantry and instead of my brain kicking into overdrive about all the potential things that I could make, all it saw was a bunch of random ingredients that just seemed like a hassle to put together. Anyway, I have been putting this creative streak to good use, so in the next few weeks you can expect to see recipes for Homemade Japanese Rice Bowls, Walnut and Almond Butter, Lentil Bolognaise with Zoodles, along with a post on budget-friendly $2 lunches and a spotlight on strawberries, since they are available in abundance at the moment in New Zealand (sorry Northern Hemisphere, but you can just dream of warmer times).

Onto these quiches! I had something similar at a cafe the other week and really enjoyed the flavour combination. I also thought that it would make a really fantastic portable lunch meal. You could prep some of these for the week and just grab and go in the morning.

I understand that blue cheese is one of those polarising foods. I used quite a mild, creamy blue cheese in this recipe and I really liked the flavour, but if you are really hating on blue cheese, some feta would also work really well in this recipe.

1 leek
1 tsp butter or olive oil
4 eggs
100g mild blue cheese or feta
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup baby spinach (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease around 10 muffin holes, or line with baking paper.

Cut the leafy end off the leek, cut in half lengthwise, and then give it a really good run under the tap to get rid of any remaining dirt. Slice leek into thin half rounds.

Heat butter or oil in a medium frypan and add the leek. Over a low heat, gently sauté until beginning to soften. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, self raising flour and milk until well mixed. Crumble in the blue cheese and feta and give another good whisk. Add the leek and baby spinach if using and give one final mix to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans and then place in the oven for around 20-25 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through (they should spring back when you press the top).

Serve warm or cold with salad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Food 101: Avocado

I thought that since we are coming into the Avocado season in New Zealand, I thought that I would put the spotlight on this nutrient dense fruit. I would definitely say that I am one of those people who go through avocado phases. Sometimes I just can't get enough of them and other times they will sit there go soft and mushy (even if this happens I never throw them out!).

So what is so great about avocados?

  1. The are a great source of heart-healthy fats
  2. This sort of good fat is great for helping you feel satiated and keeping you fuller for longer
  3. They are so versatile! They can be used in a huge range of both savoury and sweet dishes (scroll down for some ideas on how to use them).
  4. As with other fruits and vegetables, they are high in fibre while also providing a whole host of vitamins and minerals, including B and E vitamins.
  5. These vitamins, along with the antioxidants in Avocados are great for your skin. Basically they help to nourish your skin from the inside-out.
  6. They have phytochemicals in them that may help to prevent certain types of cancer.
Pretty much they are just awesome!

Avocado on its own doesn't have a huge amount of flavour, which makes it so easy to add to lots of different dishes. Here are some ways that I love to use avocado.

  1. Throw an avocado into a smoothie. It gives the smoothie a lovely, creamy texture while upping the fibre and nutrients in it. Try this great smoothie from Healthful Pursuit
  2. Mash it up with some lemon juice and spices to put on toast or crackers. I love using some cumin and smoked paprika.
  3. Mash it with marmite, top with cheese and grill for 5-10 minutes to make delicious cheese on toast.
  4. Whiz it in a blender to make a heart healthy chocolate mousse shown here
  5. Cut an avocado in half, scoop out a little more of the centre, crack an egg into the hole and then bake for around 20 minutes at 180 degrees C. Top with some lemon juice and salt and pepper.
And there are heaps more great ways of using avocado.

What is your favourite use for avocado? Let me know in the comments below

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Nourishing Granola

Hi everyone

I did intend on publishing this post a little sooner, but unfortunately I got knocked back by quite a nasty bug, which involved having absolutely no inclination towards food (which for me is just insane!).

On a side note, here are some pretty cupcakes I made. I made lemon and raspberry ones adapted from this recipe and they were delicious!!

Today I thought that I would share with you a recipe that I adapted for granola (or muesli if you live down the bottom of the world). I really love granola/muesli in the morning, however, almost all of the packaged ones contain refined sugars and quite a lot of it! That's why when I can I try to make my own. Unfortunately, when I get busy I seem to forget how quick and easy it is to actually make your own, even the toasted variety.

I would note though that if you do decide to make your own, watch it like a hawk when it is in the oven! It only takes a minute for your delicious, toasted muesli to turn into bitter, burnt stuff. If it looks like it is getting overdone, take it out! It will crisp up more as it cools.

I adapted this recipe from My New Roots based on what I had in the pantry. I also didn't add any extra sugar aside from the rice malt syrup, but you could add in around 1/4 of a cup of brown sugar or coconut sugar if you feel the need.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup puffed millet, puffed brown rice or similar
1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup rice malt syrup (or honey)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

In a large bowl combine oats, puffed millet, chopped hazelnuts, and chia seeds. Mix well.

In a small saucepan combine salt, rice malt syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract and cocoa powder. Heat over a low heat, stirring often, until melted and combined.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and mix well until all of the dry ingredients are coated (I used a bit of a smushing-movement with my spoon).

Press the mixture onto the baking trays so that there is a thin, even layer of mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, watching it closely. Remove from the oven, give it a really good mix around and then pop back in the oven for around 10 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes or so. The mixture should feel nice and dry.

Leave to cool and then store in an airtight container.

Friday, October 24, 2014

What's been happening

Woohoo! Finally a blog post. After nearly 2 months of silence this feels quite momentous! I thought for my come back post I would just give you a bit of a personal update about what has been happening, the things that I am loving at the moment and just a general kind of catch up.

The Dissertation and Finishing Uni

I somehow survived and got this handed in along with about 6 other assignments. I am really pleased with how my uni has gone this year, despite the pace and chaos of it all! I am still waiting to hear back on 3 assignments and the dissertation, but I am currently sitting on an A average. My dissertation is worth around 1/4 of my overall mark, so things can change a lot, but at least at the moment I am on-track for first class honours.

Finishing off my honours year also means finishing off 5 years of uni. Where did 5 years go? While I am not ruling out further study, for now it is time for me to step out into the professional world (exciting and terrifying at the same time).

Catching Up on Sleep (Kind of)
I was pretty exhausted after finshing up my dissertation. I haven't quite had the lazy sleep-filled days that I initially imagined. I seem to still have quite alot on as I have picked up extra hours of work, as well as 5 full days of data collection work through uni. After handing in my dissertation I also had 2 blow-out weekends, which meant arriving back home in the early hours of the morning. I was actually quite excited by the fact that I didn't get home until 4:30am the other weekend. I haven't done that in years!! Luckily from about next week I should get a bit more lazy time (hello baking!).

New House, New Kitchen
One of the reasons Hungry Male and I moved back home this year (apart from the money savings and having some extra support) was the prospect of living in the brand new house that his parents were building. After set-backs and delays we are finally in! The entire house is absolutely lovely, but my personal favourite is this gorgeous new kitchen that I get to use!!

Getting back into the kitchen (properly)
I got to bake and ice these cupcakes in the weekend....

I made cookie monster cupcakes and one pretty rose one. The icing took about 5 minutes as you have to ice each individual petal, hence why there is only one of them. Over the weekend I also made a batch of American Shortcakes (like a cross between a scone and a biscuit). All I have to say is om nom nom. Not exactly real food, but I still believe that treats like these have a place in a balanced lifestyle. I also got to make these in a pretty, pretty new oven.

Loving Smoothies
I have developed a little bit of a sugar and caffeine thing over the past few months, so I am definitely trying to cut back now. My nutrition, while still pretty good wasn't always fantastic when I was tired a stressed. Because of this I developed quite a thing for smoothies in the morning. They were quick, easy and I new that even if the rest of the day turned to crap nutrition-wise, I was at least getting a nutrient dense breakfast.

One of my favourites was banana, berries, chia seeds, vanilla protein powder, vital greens and almond milk. So easy and so good.

Oh yes, one of the fun, fun side affects of stress (not!) is a flare up in acne. This has led me to a few other products that I love.

The first is my discovery of Epiology skincare. Using many acne treatments causes my skin to get really tight and flaky. Epiology is amazing as I have that perfect skin feeling afterwards of feeling clean yet soft and moisturised. It is also quite effective on my sore hormonal/stress acne.

I am also now in love with this Elf concealer. It has fantastic coverage without looking too heavy and the best part? It was only $5 from K-Mart. Bargain!

And finally, I'm not sure yet if it's a product that I am in love with, but it is something that 
I will keep you posted on. I have recently started taking Vitex to help balance out the hormones contributing to my acne. It is meant to take a couple of months to really see a difference, so as I said will keep you posted.

And Finally.....
I can now announce that Libby's Real Food is moving up to Auckland! I have gotten myself a graduate marketing role with Reckitt Benckiser, so Hungry Male and I are packing up and heading North in the New Year. This means that the blog may evolve a little bit further to include some more reviews as I attempt to eat my way around the North. Can't wait!

Well that is probably all that you need to know for now. I am getting working on some new recipes for you and I plan to really get underway with my Food 101 series.

Watch this space!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Putting the blog on hold for study

As you may have noticed from the lack of blogging/facebooking and instagramming I have just been so busy lately!! By the time I have finished working on my dissertation, doing readings and completing assignments, all I feel like doing is crashing, or escaping in some trashy romance novel (while I love reading, this is all I can seem to manage at the moment). I'm finding that I barely have time to get good, nourishing food into myself, let alone try to be in my usual, creative food developing state.

While I hate to do this, because of my time constraints, I have decided to put the blog on study leave for the next month or so. But I promise that I will be back with a vengeance (and some delicious recipes of course!!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Homemade custard

Whoops! I am so overdue for a post!! I have been pretty busy these last two weeks, first going on a field trip for one of my papers and secondly preparing and doing my experiment to collect the data that I need for my dissertation. Unfortunately I only managed to collect half of what I need, so I will have to do one more day of data collection. To make things scarier, we were told today that there are only 8 weeks left until we have to hand in our dissertations. Eek! 

But of course I can't let that stop me making good food....

Up until earlier this year, custard to me was going to the cupboard, finding the custard powder, adding milk and cooking it up. Sometimes, if I wanted a really nice and creamy custard I may even add a few eggs. Because I relied on a package that had lots of numbers on it, it didn't really factor in as part of my whole food diet, it was more of a treat. However, because I really love custard, especially when I get sick, it made me determined to find a better way of making it. So I went searching on the internet and came away absolutely gobsmacked that I have been making it from a packet for so long.

It is so easy to make!!

I really didn't find it any more difficult than using pre-made custard powder. What's more, making it from scratch I know exactly what is in it and can use a more natural form of sweetner. Now I don't feel bad about enjoying custard all the time and it most definitely counts as a part of a real food diet.

2 cups milk (full fat works best)
2 Tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence (or vanilla bean paste, which makes it taste awesome!)
1 egg
1/4 cup rice malt similar (or othe liquid sweet```ner)

In a small bowl whisk together the cornflour, egg and vanilla essence.

Place the milk in a pot and place over a medium-low heat unitl the milk gets nice and hot but not boiling. 

This next part you need to do quickly. Add the egg mixture and thoroughly whisk the mixture so that the egg white doesn't scramble. Keep whisking until the custard gets nice and thick.

Stir in the rice malt syrup, adding more or less to taste.

Serve immediately (Delicious with some grated chocolate)


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