Baba Ghanoush with Chilli Mince

I love love love bringing home ideas from different cafes. This idea was from Nanoosh which I enjoyed a fabulous hummus meal there.

 It was also in NYC, that I discover that my hubby did not mind baba ghanoush which is a dip made out of roasted eggplant. A big win for me as he usually dislikes the texture of one of my favourite vegetable. I decided to pair that two ideas together to make this dish.

I love the smoked flavour of the eggplant. I was probably a little too ambitious and left it on the stove a tad too long. Otherwise, this was my first time flaming eggplant on an open stove top (as I have not have a gas stove for years!).

Blitzing it with tahini, garlic, pinch of salt and cumin and a tablespoon of greek yogurt, it tasted fantastic. A word of caution, it is quite thick, so if you like it thinner, might be worth thinning it with some water or lemon juice.

I paired it with chill mince. A hit of protein makes this an easy dinner. Hubs had a shower and came down to dinner all done.

It’s also my way of bringing a piece of our holiday back home to us. A conversation filled with our little memories.. .such as walking in the snow storm, discovering mnm’s world, checking out central park for the 3rd time, discovering quirky places to eat, biting into awesome chocolate from La Maison. Ah. Memories of a good holiday.

But back to Baba ghanoush, it is usually serve as a dip. I chose to have this as my main. But I think this with some vege sticks makes a good party snack, don’t you think?

Baba Ghanoush with Chili mince (Serves 6-8)
3 large eggplants
3 tablespoon of tahini
1 tsp of garlic
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice
3-4 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tsp of cumin
1 tablespoon of greek yogurt

On the gas stove, chargrill the whole eggplant. Alternatively, oven roast it 20-30 minutes or so in 180C oven. Scoop the flesh up and place it into the food processor. Blitz it with the rest of the ingredients, tasting and adjusting. Serve!

Chili mince
500 grams of beef mince
1 tablespoon of garlic
olive oil
2 tsp of chill flakes
1 tablespoon of greek yogurt

Brown mince in hot pan. Add garlic and some water. Season with chill flakes and to thicken the sauce, add some yogurt. Season and taste. Serve with Baba ghanoush.

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Smoked Salmon Goats Cheese Rice Paper Roll

It was 10:30pm. I had 2 gym sessions that day (boxing and thejunglebody). I started feeling peckish and was raiding our fridge.

A packet of smoked salmon, some sprouts and goats cheese. A lightbulb came in my head. While paper-roll is not exactly “paleo”- i have some in my pantry from our housewarming “paper roll party”, it is low in sugar.

I placed 2 pieces of smoked salmon, some pea sprouts and a dollop of goats cheese, rolled it up and viola…. supper!

I think they look cute in a cocktail party or a dish to bring to a bbq this summer as well.

I wish I can come up with more healthy snack options. Some of my current other snack options are
– nuts
– apple with almond nut butter
– greek yogurt with my homemade nut muesli
– a few slices of cheddar cheese
– handful of popcorn

What are some of your snack options?

Smoked Salmon Goats Cheese Rice Paper Roll (Makes 3)
6 pieces of smoked salmon
1/2 cup of sprouts
2 tablespoon of goats cheese
3 paper roll

Wet paper roll. Place smoked salmon, sprouts and goats cheese in the centre. Roll, fold sides in and roll again. Wet ends to seal.

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Pumpkin Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Although thanksgiving is not celebrated here in Australia (as a public holiday), I personally think that it is a beautiful festival. A festival filled with good food, good time with families gathering together and simply, just being thankful.

What a concept. Being thankful.

As days get filled, and people get busier, it’s not very often that we wait for a second and be thankful. After all, life is pretty fragile? In 3 days, I was made aware of a birth, a pregnancy and a death. It’s times like that that make you realised how precious life truly is.

Then there are other things to be thankful of. Like having the a job, family to love, lovely weather, having the opportunity to travel, food to cook and enjoy, friends to spend time with and build memories.

Or perhaps negative experiences that deserved to be thankful of as well- like a family member’s close brush with cancer, any kind of operation (yourself or someone close), close shave from a car accident or bad financial decision.

Good or bad, these experiences shape who we are and what we do. Our thoughts influenced our behaviour and feelings, and I truly believe that how we perceive each situation lead us to different path ways.

Like food. Eating clean can be challenging with friends sometimes. Preparing a lunch for friends earlier, I made us a pumpkin loaf to compliment some seafood skewers and a chicken salad. This bread was a big hit. It tasted even better toasted the next day with just a sliver (or more) of butter.

Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Teresa Cutter’s Paleo Pumpkin Bread)
3.5 cups of grated pumpkin
4 eggs
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of mixed spice
1/4 cup of coconut oil melted
 3 cups of almond meal
2 tsp of gluten free baking powder
3/4 tablespoon of honey
pumpkin seeds

Preheat Oven 160C. Line loaf tin with baking paper.

Mix grated pumpkin, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together. In a jar, mix eggs, coconut oil and honey together. Fold through dry ingredients and sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of loaf.

Bake for 1.5 hours (check every 45 minutes).

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LA and NYC 2012

It took us some time, but when we finally did hit the “confirm” button to book our trip to LA and NYC, we were stoked. Traveling is a big burn of ours but between work, building of our home and other commitments, it took us some time before we were able to bite the bullet and splurge on a holiday. It was also my birthday trip, which made it extra special.

In total we travelled for 14 days. The first three was at Melbourne, followed by LA then NYC. Our plans were initially NYC then LA but due to Hurricane Sandy, plans have to change. We spent 6 8 glorious days in NYC, the additional 2 days courtesy of the secondary storm that hit NYC while we were there.

Highlights of LA?
– The Redbury Hotel. Truly a beautiful Art Decor accommodation.

– Walking along Hollywood Blvd on my birthday only to be told that there were road closures because there was a gun man on the loose!

– Food at Cleo and Katsuya! Seems that Katsuya is a celebrity watch restaurants. No luck for us.
– History of Hollywood.

– Universal Studios- behind the scenes tour.

What I really love, is our trip to NYC. The food, the lights, the people. Everything. Hurricane Sandy certainly brought out the tenacity of New Yorkers. By day 4, subway stations were partially open, and business were slowly chugging back into gear.

I love
– Walking into Bed, Bath and Beyond and wanting to buy the whole shop back.
– Smelling the aroma of William Sonoma
– Checking out the views of Empire State and Rockerfellar

 – Snow Storm!

– Behind the scenes tour of NBC studios
– Shopping at GAP, Victoria Secret, Century 21, Forever 21….
– Eating at Nanoosh, Dean and Deluca, Ma Peche., Balthazar..
– Desserts at Momofufu Milk Bar and Bakery, Spot Dessert and Kytofu.

(Spot Dessert Bar- Matcha Lava Molten Pudding)
(Spot Dessert Bar- Coconut Cheesecake)
(Kytofu- Black Sesame Tofu Pudding)

– Love the museum of Art

– Who can missed Central Park, Times Square and 5th Ave.  Times square is mesmerising.

(Times Square with Cookie Monster and Elmo)
(Central Park before the snow storm) 
(Central Park after the snow storm) 

-Broadway!!

-Brooklyn Flea Market.
– Brooklyn Bridge

(Brooklyn Bridge)

– Statue of Liberty

– Whole Food Markets
– Tasting Pumpkin Pie/tart for the first time.
– Love walking along Bleeker Street, SoHo (pity we didn’t get to explore it throughly)
-Bryant Park is beautiful!

So much more.

Things I learned..
– Starbucks serve decent coffee in NYC. Dean and Deluca is much better but we actually like this little coffee place call Oren‘s Daily Roast.
– I do not like American Cheddar
– Service is way better in USA. Perhaps it has got to do with the tipping system.
– Unfortunately Magnolia Bakery is over-rated. I did not enjoy their desserts as much as I thought I would. Next time, more calories spent at Momofuku Milk Bar, or Spot Dessert!
– I need more luggage space. It is so worth it heading to Century 21- I’m not into brand names shopping, but managed to grab some good quality basics for good prices.

While the storm means we were not able to explore SoHo, Nolita, Chinatown areas, it also means that we have to go back! Hubby and I are both planners, so we had to learn to relax and be flexible with our itinerary. Flight cancelled 3 hours before we were supposed to be at the airport? We smiled and said obviously God want us to stay in NYC for a bit longer, and enjoyed the snow.

Certainly a trip to be remembered. We will return!

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Date and Sesame Nut Slice- Take 2 and 3!!

Are you a snacker? I find that I can get by not having snacks in the morning, especially if I have a nice hearty breakfast. However, I seem to want a snack in the afternoon around 4pm or just before dinner time.

So I confess. I have been making no bake slices every week! They are a great protein hit and a quick snack fix. Hubs bring them to work nearly everyday. Here are some of my variations.

This version has no chocolate in it. Purely dates, and a mix of almond and brazil nut butter.

This is my favourite. I added heaps of roasted sesame seeds and also roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. There was 2 cup of almond butter, 1/4 cup of sesame seeds, 4 dates pitted and chopped, 2 tablespoon of coconut oil with headings of roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. mixed, spread on brownie tin and I chunk it into our freezer for 30 minutes or so.

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Lucky Nuts- Cinnamon Breakfast Clusters and Green Tea Cookies

hello there! I’m back from my holidays! We were in NYC and LA for 10 days which turned out to be 12 days due to Hurricane Sandy and the secondary storm that followed that. Fret not, we were safe. We swopped our NYC-LA itinerary to LA-NYC. Our flights were delayed but we managed to get to NYC when it started their recovery works. The last few days were adventurous as we managed to experience fall and winter weather in 24 hours. More photos to follow in the coming week. 
I came home to… THIS! 

Don’t you just like having presents waiting by your doorstep? 

Courtesy of Lucky Nuts (through NuffNang), I have the privilege to taste test more of Lucky nuts products and more importantly, their two new additions to their range- The Almond Crumble and Oven Roasted Almond Meal. Perfect for Christmas preparations. 

Given that we have just recently moved into our new home, this year, we are hosting Christmas lunch for some of our closest friends and family. Yes, you hear right. My in laws (including brother in law) will be staying with us as well. That means catering for around 26-30 people. Exciting as it is, it is also about daunting, so I have actually began thinking about the menu. This is a great chance to start rehearsing and practising! 
Now, you may think 27 hours of flight, 33 hours of travel will stop me from screaming in glee. How can I resist? Flipping through the recipe book, I am excited to see what I can do with the nuts. 
I have to also confess that I nearly missed the deadline for the write up for this post. Flying across 4 different time zones and needing to change all our plans due to flight cancellations means I am a little disorientated. So while my mind is running a million miles an hour with different ideas, physically, I could only muster up enough energy to make two. So I did the next best thing, review + write you a list of some things I will be making with these amazing nuts. 
You see, I miss my normal routine of eating and baking with all natural products. That is what I like best about Lucky nuts- it’s simplicity. No pretence there, just good quality nuts. I have sent my hubby into our nearby grocery store at 8:55pm at night because I have a sudden urge to bake flour less cakes, make our energy bars, or breakfast nut muesli (most shops here close at 9pm). My favourite of all would be the almond meal and almonds. They are my MUST have ingredients in the pantry. Lucky nuts also carry Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios..etc. They are also Australian grown. 
I have experienced a huge change since eating more paleo friendly foods. Now, I don’t subscribe to any “diet” per say. Just trying to eat clean and make better choices with food. Travelling means that I have chosen to indulge and as a result, I noticed I feel more bloated and gut discomfort. Almond meal is my must have, because it allowed me to bake and cook with texture. I’m really wanting to get back into using my nuts in my normal routine. I’m also into quality- and since I know that Christmas is a time when we are entertaining, I want to make sure we are serving guests meals made from ingredients that are fresh. 

Here are two ideas that could be interesting to you.
Presenting my Cinnamon Breakfast Clusters. I need something healthy and nutritious for breakfast after a 17 days indulgent trip. Combining the nuts with some coconut oil, almond butter and spices, I pressed them into little muffin cups. I love the crisp to go breakfast. Wouldn’t your guests like this for their breakfast after a night or afternoon of indulgence? Your house will smell amazing with the combination of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. (ginger aid with digestion so it will probably be useful after an afternoon feast). I would also add cranberries for some festiveness. 

Cinnamon Breakfast Clusters (makes around 7)
1 cup of coconut flakes
1 cup of walnuts crushed
1/2 cup of silvered almonds
1/2 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/4 cup of almond butter
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger
2 dried figs chopped
Preheat Oven to 180C. Line muffin tray with muffin wrappers. 
Melt coconut oil and almond butter together in a microwave. Combine all other dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix wet to dry. Spoon into muffin trays and press down. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating it after 10 minutes. 
My 2nd share: 
Are you bored of my almond bakes yet? I hope not!! 🙂 I’m such a fan of creating desserts and bakes out of almond meal that I am still amazed by what I can come up with or find on the net!
As you know, I like my green tea. Having some more green tea powder in my pantry that I want to finish using (to keep it fresh), I experimented and came up with a batch of cookies. This has a crisp outer and slightly chewy in the centre. I love the hit of matcha that comes with it. Somehow, I can see this as a Chinese New Year Cookie as well!

(can you tell I am jet lagged when writing the post? Holiday posts coming up!)

Green Tea Almond Cookies 
1.5 cup of Almond Meal
1 tablespoon of green tea
1/4 cup of coconut oil melted
1/2 tsp of vanilla paste
handful of silvered almonds

Mix everything together. Shape into cookie form and bake in preheated 180C for 15 minutes!

Some other meal ideas
– Salmon and Goats Cheese Avocado Salad with toasted walnuts
– Balsamic brussel sprouts with toasted pine nuts
– Almond and lemon stuffing in roast chicken 
– “cheesecake crumble” using the Almond crumble mixture.
– Toasted crumble for ice-cream or to sprinkle on yogurt. 
I guess I have just given you a preview of up coming recipes that I am working on! 
This post is part of “Product Talk” by Nuffnang but thoughts and recipes are from myself. 
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Lamb Meatballs Salad with Yogurt Chives Dressing

Eating from a plate is easier than eating from two plates. First up, there is less washing. Second, I only have to plate up one plate. Third, there is some pleasure from sharing a plate with someone that you love.

Making lamb meat balls and grilling them up are easy. Assembling a salad? quick and clean. One of the things hubby and I have been trying to do is to sit and enjoy dinner without rush and interruptions. That is a luxury- even with a couple without kids! Clutter and noise seems to fill our day and we are learning how to cut back on distractions.

As the weather warms up, our meals get lighter. But just barely. The other day, I had a salmon and brie cheese for lunch and I nearly forget how delicious simple salads are. I am sure, there will be more to fill our plate…and to share in months to come.

Lamb Meatballs Salad with Yogurt Chives Dressing 
500 grams lamb mice (I mixed mine with some pork mince)
handful of pine nuts
1/4 cup almond meal
1 egg
salt and pepper
few drops of tobasco sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Mixed salad leaves, avocado and cherry tomatoes

Chive Yogurt Dressing
3 tablespoon of greek yogurt
1/4 lemon juice
small bunch of chives chopped finely

Marinate lamb mince for 10 minutes or so. Shape into meatballs and pan fry them.

Meanwhile, assemble salad and make dressing. Place everything on one plate. Dig in!

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Healthy Carrot Cake

You heard it before. Carrot cakes are healthy. After all it has carrots in it! I have been guilty of it too- having indulge with a few slices of carrot cake in my life time- including having it as our wedding cake. Hubby would bring home carrot cake whenever I am sick to make me feel better.

I come across as Teresa Cutter’s recipe and instantly book marked it. It is a fabulous simple recipe with a lovely yogurt icing on it. I love the fact that this does not have any wheat and uses mainly almond meal. A mix and melt recipe means less washing and quick cake to whip out when guests decide to pop by on a weekday or on a lazy weekend. It could possibly even pass as a birthday cake.

I think a handful of raisins or even dates will go well with this cake. I increased the ratio of carrots and think it’s nice to have some chunkier strips rather than the thin down version. Give it a go. You may surprise yourself by how delicious healthy treats are.

Healthy Carrot Cake (Adapted from Teresa Cutter)
4 carrots
3 eggs
1/2 tsp or less of vanilla paste
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
3 cups of almond meal
handful of crushed walnuts
1/4 cup of coconut oil melted
2 tablespoon of honey
few dates or 1/4 cup of raisins (omitted)

Icing
1 cup of yogurt- I use lemon myrtle. Try to find a greek yogurt than is low in sugar
1/4 lemon juice
toasted walnuts

Pre heat Oven 280C. Line 9 inch cake pan.
Whisk oil and eggs together. Place dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour wet to dry and mix well. Bake for 45-50 minutes till done.

Whisk yogurt and lemon juice together.

Cool cake. Ice with yogurt icing. Serve!

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Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms

The best times at work are with my fabulous colleagues. I worked with the most fantastic people- always with a good joke on hand, caring gestures, good food and good conversation. That’s a lot of good here. 

So we had a team building and organised a bbq. You should have seen the spread. From lamb sausages, to steaks, marinated chicken drumlets, salads… it was truly like a big family gathering together enjoying some sunshine and quality time.

I decided to wrap a piece of bacon with water chestnuts around enoki mushrooms. That did create some conversation as it is not a normal bbq offering. I love the smokey flavour of bacon, matched with a slight sweetness from water chest nut and a bite from enoki.

ps- I’m on holidays but will be back soon!!! I have most posts coming up. Sorry if I reply a little later than usual but I will get to it!

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms
10 pieces of middle bacon
1 packet of enoki mushrooms
can water chestnut
toothpicks!

Slice middle bacon into half lengthwise. Wrap bacon and enoki mushrooms and secure with toothpicks. Grill or bbq for 10 minutes or so. Eat hot!

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