Coconut Cauliflower Chicken Soup

There are times when people have questioned me on WHY do I need to eat clean and be on a “diet”. I find that really frustrating because when does wanting to live healthier = not wanting to enjoy life and food.

The word “diet” just means food that nourish self. Over the years, it seems to have become a weight lost mantra. Some comments I received was that I shouldn’t be thinking of losing weight or that I am being too restrictive in my food choices.

On the other side though, I received heaps of positive comments about what I am doing. It’s very encouraging to receive comments or notes that I am on the right track.

I am in a healthy weight range. I’m not over weight or underweight. I have a desire to have a lower body fat percentage- but that’s got to do with increasing my lean muscle density and being stronger. In fact, my weight at some point or another have increased while I gained more muscle fibres then gone back to my usual weight again. However, I looked leaner, as of course muscle takes up less space than fat.

The important point to note is that I am not on a restrictive calorie meal plan. I.e- i eat whenever i feel hungry, I eat normally except I limit my treats to once a week, and avoid processed food as much as possible (including grains as they have gone through processing).

It is very liberating. For the first time, I’m not overly worried about my weight, but feel more confident in my clothes and how I carry myself. I’m not into being in the gym for hours, but focus on activities that I enjoy doing such as boxing, zumba and konga. I enjoy my coffees and fruits on most days and love my dark chocolate.

Being back to basics means we have less package food into our panty too. When we moved into our new home, I have more containers than food in my pantry. Now that was funny. Then I went on and bought unsweeten almond milk, curry paste without sugar and coconut milk in bulk. oops. :p

So I went on, and made this soup in bulk too (to make use of my freezer space of course). Totally loved it. It’s so tasty and easy- in fact, it tastes a little like pea and ham soup. Now, ham is an interesting one. It is meat after all, but is it considered as processed? I think if I am totally strict and restrictive, I would have avoided it, but given that I am more of “moderation” and “do my best to avoid” and “90% good and 10% maybe in the grey area or not so good”, I think it is fine. I do try to find those that does not use nitrate or too much sugar or uses ham off the bone so it has the least preservatives as much as possible.

This cauliflower soup is creamy and filling. I went for convenience and bought a roast chicken for added protein. It’s my favourite quick protein fix by the way- roast chicken from the supermarkets!

Coconut Cauliflower Chicken Soup (serves 8-10)
3 piece of gammon ham diced
2 heads of cauliflower chopped
4 leeks chopped
1 bunch of celery chopped
1red onion chopped
2 tablespoon of mince garlic
1 roast chicken meat shredded
200 ml coconut cream
2 litre of chicken stock

Crack pepper and chill olive oil to serve if desired.

Start of sauté the ham till brown. Remove from pot. Brown onions and garlic, then cook all veges till slightly soft. Adding stock and bring it to a simmer for around 15 minutes or so. Cool for a few minutes, then blend the vegetables. Return soup to pot and simmer. Add chicken and ham back till it is cooked through-around 5 minutes. Then add coconut cream. Taste and season accordingly.

Ladle and serve with cracked pepper and chill olive oil if you like. 🙂

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Mini Banana Swirl Cinnamon Bread

I come across this recipe via Pinterest. Where do I start with my love of Pinterest? They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I believe this reflect it. It allows me to check out other interesting photos and recipes, ideas for the home… and when I feel like I need some inspiration of any kind, it’s there.

So Lovin from the Oven posted this recipe and I know that this would be the one that my new oven would be debuted. The first EVER dish my oven will cook.

This was my thought process when I was deciding what dish I should cook first in our oven.
– It has to smell heavenly. (ie cinnamon, something sweet probably)
– It has to make our home smell like a home (cookies, cakes?)
– it has to be fast (check out the dust that countless trades bring in)
– it has to make use of what I have in my pantry… as I had no time to grab anything from the shops
– it is to be made on the day I want to have treats
– something that is in my 10% of guilt free treats. got to make the most out of it. It has to be WORTHWHILE.

And so I decided on a simple cinnamon swirl banana bread. It smells fantastic, it’s a measure and mix recipe, and it took me 20 minutes to whip it up. Easy. And then I threw all my equipment in my dish washer, made us a cup of tea…

and enjoyed it with ice cream.

I halved the recipe as I didn’t want too many treats lying in our house. I made 4 of these mini loaves and savoured every bite of mine.

Mini Banana Swirl Cinnamon Bread (Makes 4 mini loaves)
3 bananas
1/6 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
3/4 cup flour

Swirl:
1 tablespoon of cinnamon (yes I’m crazy)
1/6 cup of brown sugar

Preheat oven 180C.

Mash bananas. In a jar, mix melted butter, egg, vanilla and banana together. In a bowl, mix flour, pinch salt and sugar together. Fold banana mixture to dry mixture.

For the swirl- small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together.

Spray oil in small loaf tin. Spoon the banana mixture into the tin-fill to half. Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon mixture and then spoon the rest of the mixture on top. Repeat for 3 more loaves. Sprinkle the remaining mixture on top of each loaf.  Bake for 15 minutes.

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Lamb Bolognese – Clean Eating

This was one of the meals I cooked before we moved. It’s freezer friendly, and one of the reason why I like it is that I can cook in bulk and it tastes better the next day. It’s sort of a bolognese recipe- an adaption if you like, except that I have it with vegetables and not on any pasta/rice.

For the past 6 months or so, I have been slowly reducing my intake of processed food. Perhaps you noticed that I have not been posting food consisting with noodles or rice recently. Or think that I am on a low carb diet. The reality is that I am going back to basics, and eating less food that have gone through any manufacturing. I still get my carbs through fruits, vegetables, and root vegetables (Sweet potato, pumpkin..etc). I’m not anti carb or anti- treats. I still enjoy my desserts and sweets!

Eating clean to me is to eat wholesome, healthy food as much as I can. I’m not perfect and I dare say that I try my best to practise it 90% of the time, and 10% of the time, I enjoy some treats. The rule of thumb is that if it is man-made (like gone through any form of processing) then I try to avoid it.

While on most days, I avoid sugar or any sugar added products, I do enjoy my treats once a week or when I feel like it. One thing though,  I enjoy my treats the way it should be enjoyed- without guilt.

But back to this lamb bolognese. I paired it with some lightly stir fried zucchini and broccoli. Delicious. Simple and fresh. Too simple that I nearly didn’t want to write a post about it, but thought I could share what I have been doing on days that I have been tired and just want a quick fix meal. And it can be healthy too.

Lamb Bolognese- Serves 4
500 grams lamb mince
1 can of tinned tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 fresh tomatoes diced
1/2 cup of beef stock
2 chili chopped
1 red onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 cup of mushrooms chopped
salt/pepper

Saute onion and garlic. Cook mince till brown and done. Add in tinned tomatoes and fresh. Fold in all vegetables. Add stock and simmer for 15-20 mins. Serve with veges or salad.

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Capsicum and Carrot Soup with Meatballs

Welcome to my new kitchen.

A home that we have been waiting for. We finally moved into our home around a week ago. Thankfully, and praise God that it went smoothly and we are slowly settling into our space. My favourite room(s) in the house would be our kitchen and bedroom. Kitchen, in particular feature my 1.5 oven, massive pigeon pair fridge and freezer and the ultimate…. a dish washing machine.

I am always a hand washing kinda gal, but this machine is totally a God-sent. I meant, we calculated that we saved over 30-45 mins a day by just having this aid. why we didn’t have one of those earlier, I have no idea.. no wait, I do know… it is because we were on a total budget and couldn’t bear the thought of spending more than what we needed to.

So much to do, so little time. As I write, I’m sitting our our dining table- would you believe we NEVER had a dining table? What a luxury right? By no means we are still pinching ourselves that we are savouring our little reward of a home from the years of thinking/saving/budgeting. It keep us grounded for sure. This home means we can actually have friends over, and family can actually stay with us (and no, it was really a space reason and not because we don’t want you here!!). (just in case one of you are reading this! LOL). And a proper table to have dinner on.

These things count no? 🙂

It’s full blown winter here now, and I find myself making more soups in our kitchen. The space helps, and having a fridge and freezer means I can properly cook in bulk and freeze. I love the our kitchen bench as it means I can spread it out as I bake or when I have multiple things going on at the same time. Take tonight for instance, I had soup simmering on the stove and a casserole cooking in the oven.

Yes. Someone told me there is never such a thing as too big a fridge and freezer. Do you agree?

The soup that I do want to tell you about today, is this heart warming capsicum and carrot soup with meatballs. Fresh vegetables blended together and simmered with a hint of chill. I love a good bite in my soup, so I decided that I could shape some pork meat balls to go with it.

I also found a very handy helper- my hubby is meticulous and actually did shape these meatballs for me. I would have just thrown it in the soup. He actually made it look pretty.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be slowly changing the focus of this writing space. Just to reflect where I am right now- 90% clean eating and 10% treats that I eat without guilt. Of course, there could be more treats than clean eating posts at times- no guarantee there. But I thought I could also share with you some of my lifestyle changes and hopefully, a few little projects around our home.

Change is exciting no? 🙂

Capsicum and Carrot Soup with Meatballs (serves 6)
1 kg of carrots peel and chopped
5-6 red capsicum
2 red onions chopped
1-2 tablespoon of garlic
4-5 chili padi
1 bunch of celery chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 ltre of chicken stock

Meatballs
600 grams of pork mince
2 tablespoon of almond meal
1 egg
salt/pepper
2 tablespoon of crushed pistachios

greek yogurt to serve.

Marinate and mix pork mince. Set aside.

Saute onion, garlic and chill in a huge pot (or two pots if you are me) with tomato paste. Add in celery and cook till soft. Cook through other veges. Simmer with stock for around 10 minutes till cooked through. Cool and blitz it through hand blender or blender and return to pot. Meantime, shape meatballs and dropped into soup to cook.

Serve with a tablespoon of greek yogurt.

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Chicken Cacciatore

There is just something about cold weather that I want saucy food. Stews, soups, casseroles..they appeals because it just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I have been wanting to make chicken cacciatore for some time but for some odd reason, kept postponing it.

Having some wine in the fridge, and wanting to clear it asap, this recipe came naturally to me. It’s probably not the original version but it does the trick. I think adding some bacon or pancetta will give it a deeper flavour but I like this version nonetheless.

It’s ver tomatoish and I reckon the bite of olives just makes the dish. Again, olives are something that I never thought I will like but it has grown on me quite abit in recent years. This is one that I cook in a big batch and freeze it- ah, yes, I love it on those days when I know food is already waiting for us in the fridge/freezer.. and the kitchen is clean.

Chicken Cacciatore (serves 8)
1 kg of chicken thigh trimmed into bite size pieces
1 red onion chopped
1 tsp of garlic
2 red chili
1/4 cup of white wine
100 grams of kalamata olives sliced
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoon of tomato paste

Saute red onion and garlic. Brown chicken. Add wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Toss through tomato diced and paste. Cook for 10 minutes or so before adding in olives. Simmer for 15 minutes till mixture thickens.

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Almond and Coconut Cookies

I stumbled on to Teresa Cutter’s website recently and am in awe. They are full of healthy and gorgeous food ideas. Best of all, there are many of them that are paleo friendly.

Take these gorgeous cookies. She called them Anzac Cookies- but they are like little parcels of macaroons. Coconut nutty and so morish. The recipe calls for honey to sweeten the cookies so I can’t have too many of them on non cheat days but they are worth it. And so easy to make!

The mixture can be a little crumbly so I added around 1/4 cup of water. A tip is to use a measuring spoon to pack the mixture in before shaping it into a cookie shape. I sprinkled some additional almond flakes before baking which added the extra crunch.



Almond and Coconut Cookies (Makes 22)

1 cup (100 g) almond meal (ground almonds)
1 cup (100 g)  flaked almonds
1 cup (75 g) organic desiccated coconut (see notes)
1/4 (80 g) cup honey
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 tablespoon water
Combine almond meal, flaked almonds and coconut.
Combine honey and oil into a small pot and heat gently.
Mix the bicarb and water then pour into the honey pot and mix until it starts to froth.
Pour into the dry nut ingredients and mix through until combined.  Add a little water if needed to combine which will help them stick together.
Form into 22 cookies
Bake in a low pre heated oven 120 C (248 F)  for about 30 minutes until golden.
Cool and enjoy.

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Lamb Bake with Cauliflower Crunch

I realised how versatile a head of cauliflower is. I came up with an idea one day, to make a lamb bake dish using cauliflower as a topping rather than the traditional mash potato. Instead of cheese, I sprinkled some dukkah for that roasted crunch texture.

The combination is surprisingly pretty good! I love the slight crunch of the cauliflower with the tangy lamb bake at the bottom of the pan. It’s not a very fancy dish, but it is a nice warm meal on a winter night.

You will notice that I am featuring a lot of baking dishes recently. So much that it is darn tempting to re name my blog to a “Many ways to cook using an oven” blog instead. Bear with me while I am in transition at the moment to a different home/different kitchen altogether.

This does push me out of my comfort zone and I am learning how to embrace our oven for sure! LOL

Lamb Bake with Cauliflower Crunch 
500 grams lamb mince
1 red onion
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 red capsicum chopped
1 cup of button mushrooms
2 red chill chopped
1/4 cup of red wine

Cauliflower chopped
1/4 cup of dukkah.

Preheat Oven 200C.

Saute onion and chill. Cook and break mince up. Simmer with some red wine. Add diced tomatoes. capsicum and button mushrooms. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Spoon into oven safe dish. Top with cauliflower and sprinkle with dukkah. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Oven Baked Curry Seafood

Is it weird to cook curry in the oven? I didn’t have the time to stay near the stove and have stored my magic thermal cooker away for the move. I decided to make the curry sauce and pour it over some seafood, and stuck it into the oven for some good own slow cooking (no, I don’t own a slow cooker either!).

I was surprised by how tasty it is. I didn’t use store bought curry paste, choosing to use some of the spices I have in my cupboard (amazing how many variations of spices one discover in the pantry while I was packing up). I think this has an Indian touch to it, with the tanginess of the tomato, but in all honestly I have no idea.

As long as I have food on the table right? :p

Oven Baked Curry Seafood (Serves 4)
3 salmon fillets
200 grams prawns-shelled

1 onion chopped
1 tsp of garlic
1 small knob of ginger grated
2 tsp of mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tsp of turmeric
2 tablespoon of fish curry powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of water.
1/4 cup of coconut milk

Saute onion, garlic and ginger. Toaste mustard seeds first with some oil. Then sauté all the rest of the spices for around 3-5 minutes. Stir in tomato and water. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add coconut milk. Season.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Place fish and prawns in oven safe dish. Pour curry over seafood. Bake for 20 minutes or so.

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Stir Fry Pork Mince with Brinjal

Did I mention that my husband do not like eggplant or brinjal? Yes, my mother in law was surprised too as it seems that we share a common fondness for this vegetable (in addition to my hubby!) and she tried on many occasions to teach him to appreciate it when he was growing up.

I sneaked this into one of our meals one day and he said he didn’t mind it as much as what he thought. Well, I grew to appreciate coconut so the least he could do is to enjoy brinjal right? Isn’t it what we call compromise?

It’s a simple classic dish I suppose. Nothing too fancy, but it’s a quick and budget friendly meal. He had it with his rice. I had some with a side of vegetables.

Stir Fry Pork Mince with Brinjal (serves 4)
500 grams pork mince
2 red chill chopped
1 red onion chopped
1 tablespoon of garlic
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
handful of pine nuts
3 baby brinjal

Heat oil in pan. Saute garlic, chill and onion. Brown mince, adding sauce and seasoning. Add brinjal and let it soak up the flavours. Taste and season. Toss through pine nuts.

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