Beet-ing the country into shape.

August 6, 2011 § 9 Comments

The times in life when I wished I had a camera:

  1. Watching a man on a stand-up paddle board be surrounded by dolphins at Bondi Beach, from the cliffs above.
  2. Many nights of laughter with friends, just to capture the moment.
  3. Seeing the sunset over Charlotte’s skyline from the middle of a traffic jam

And something I never thought I would see, a squirrel sitting in the middle of the road eating Bojangles!
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I kid you not,  a ballsy little squirrel was sitting in the street with both paws around a biscuit and a packet of Bojangles seasoned-fries. I had to give him a little toot in my car because he would would NOT move! Finally he upped and carried his lunch to the sidewalk, where he sat back down and resumed his munching.
What does this mean?
  1. I should never leave my house without a phone or camera.
  2. Michael Moore will release Fast Food Animal Nation in the fall of 2011.
  3. The next Man vs Wild will see Bear Grylls holding his own in a chain restaurant.

Following this experience it seemed only natural to watch Supersize Me & Food Inc. I was hoping to learn whether rodents prefer drive through or counter service.
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Instead I was bombarded with a distressing reality check. Kids as young as 4 and 5 are being diagnosed with diabetes. Chickens are being pumped so hard with steroids that their little legs can’t support their overgrown bodies. And poor Alexandra Jameison (vegan chef) had to sleep with a man who consumed nothing but McDonalds for 30 days…shudder.
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If everyone ate more vegetables the kids would be fit and carefree, Sunday lunch wouldn’t be the result of a science experiment, and Alexandra Jameison would have better sex.
There is this great raw food restaurant in Charlotte called Luna’s Living Kitchen. It is second-to-none. They have this one dish called Lunasagne, which is layers of raw zucchini ‘pasta’ with sundried tomatoes, cashew nut cheese and crimini mushrooms.
Check out the full menu here.
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I have had some beautiful zucchini from our vegetable garden recently so I thought I would turn my hand to a similar dish, using a filling of nuts and sundried tomatoes and topping it with a cashew-beetroot ‘cheese’.
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Now if I could just get some to that squirrel ….
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Raw ‘meaty lasagne’
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  • Slice 2 zucchini lengthways using a mandolin
  • Use the grating attachment in a food processor to grate 2 carrots. Set aside. 1 beetroot.
  • In a blender, mix a handful of walnuts, 2 tbl sundried tomatoes, the carrot and 1 tbl coconut oil until chunky. Set aside
  • Next process 1/2 cup cashews and enough water to make a smooth consistency. Add the grated beetroot.
  • In a glass square dish make a single layer of zucchini ‘pasta’. Add 1/2 nut topping and another layer off zucchini. Add remaining nut topping, final layer of zucchini and top with beetroot cheese and a sprinkle of chia seeds.
Serves 1-2.
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Smoothie Love.

June 13, 2011 § 4 Comments

Gosh I can be silly sometimes.

This Saturday past we travelled up to Raleigh for a wedding. Considering that the weather was sweltering I had packed a bag with a pretty light summer dress, a pair of strappy sandals and a hundred pins to sling up my hair and  keep my neck cool. Makeup would be bare summer essentials: bronzer, clear lipgloss, mascara. The next day I would have a fresh change of shirt and shorts for the drive home. How cool, calm and collected did I sound?

That was until we were driving into Chapel Hill, two hours from home, when I turned to NB and asked:

“Did you put my bag in the car?”

NB: “Did you ask me to?”

BS: “No….ohh gosh!!”

I had a mental image of my overnight bag sitting on our bed beneath the ceiling fan and light that I also didn’t turn off (add electricity bill woes to wardrobe disaster!)

NB looked and me and I looked at NB. NB looked down at the (now unflatteringly sweaty) skirt, singlet and flip flops that I was wearing and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

NB: “How did you forget your bag?”

And this is where food comes into the story, once again addling my brain and dominating my attention.

BS: “I was hungry and decided to make a smoothie before we left…I brought the smoothie with me at least!” I said, holding up a long empty glass. “It was delicious!”

Luckily NB saw the funny side and was happy to make a detour into Macy’s. I’m not adept at clothes shopping on a good day but under a time constraint with the thought of appropriate wedding attire hovering over my head, talk about pressure! It was on like Kong. 10 minutes, a knee length blue dress and a pair of wedges later and we were back out the door. And thank goodness for RH, who hooked me up with makeup, shampoo, jewelry and all the other essentials. Beware, having me as a house-guest may result in a raid on your bathroom cabinet!

But as they say, all’s well that ends well. The wedding was beautiful, full of song and beauty and love, good food and fine company. As for my little faux pas, if I had the time again I probably would still choose the smoothie. It was just really good.

Tell me Blushers, what was your biggest OMG fashion moment?

Banana & Berry Smoothie

Serves 1

Blend:

1/2 frozen banana

1 cup mixed berries (blueberry and raspberry used above)

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup milk (almond milk used above)

Pour into chilled glass.

Add 1/4 cup cold coconut milk

Swirl with a teaspoon to combine.

Remember your bag.

Healthy Salads: Cheap and Cheerful

May 12, 2011 § 17 Comments

Last week I started a Cheap&Cheerful category on Blushing Strawberries’ with these fritters, and thank you to everyone who gave me tips on making a more ‘attractive’ fritter. I’m looking forward to trying again tomorrow, once I buy corn at the farmer’s market.

Lately NB and I have been looking into the Paleo Diet and the Primal Blueprint diet. In the coming weeks I will share one or two in depth posts on the subject, but for now let’s just summarise them as eating the way a caveman would eat – if it does not run, fly or swim, or if it isn’t green, then don’t eat it. Of course that is a wild generalisation and there are many nuances to the theory, which that statement has denied. But basically it is about eliminating all carbohydrates, grains and legumes, all processed foods, most sugars and dairy (a little bit of fruit is ok).

Before NB and I make any grand statements about how ‘We soo, totally eat Paleo now’, I thought I should recap on my history of sticking to a diet:

B/S on Detoxing – “Remember that this diet is not meant to impinge on my sociability”

B/S on Vegetarianism – “I remember once when I was a teenager, maybe 13 or 14, I decided to become a vegetarian. The memory is sadly clear. At breakfast I declare myself vegetarian. Five hours later I smell my dad cooking bacon. I renounce my newfound diet.”

Or this post shortly followed by this slice of pizza.

Not that NB can claim to be high and mighty: Do you think Cheerios or Cheetos are more Paleo? 

But we are slowly trying to include meals that fall in line with this way of eating, at maybe a 60/40 or 70/30 ratio. Which brings me to last nights Cheap&Cheerful dinner – a primal blueprint salad.

Now while Paleo may seem a little extreme for beginners, the Primal Blueprint diet offers a little more leniency, and Mark’s Daily Apple is a great starting point if you are interested in more information. One of the ‘sensible vices‘ allowed under PB is cheese. Here is what Mark has to say:

“While we aren’t diehard fans of all dairy, “the power of the cheese” is right on. However, we do believe in skipping the weirdo processed stuff reminiscent of school lunches. Play it snooty and go for the good, aged stuff. Not only is aged cheese a fermented food, it contains little to no lactose. It’s also got good fat, essential nutrients, and a wallop of protein. But this will all be mere peripheral chatter once you’re actually enjoying. The satisfaction surpasses all of the above.”

Truer words were never spoken! The satisfied look on NB’s face when he bit in to a sesame-chilli goats cheese balls, and his following proclamation that this is the BEST healthy meal I have ever made,  is enough to keep this chef satisfied all summer long. Because after all, why would we want to eat healthily if it doesn’t taste delicious?

Goats cheese salad with spinach stuffed chicken breast

(serves 2)

The money-saver aspect in this dish comes from using whatever you have on hand in your crisper or your garden. By using up leftover spinach and tomatoes from the previous nights dinner, I was able to stuff the chicken and wrap them in bacon from the freezer. You might have some sundried tomatoes or mushrooms lying around, which would work a treat. Choose whatever herbs are in your pots, garden or fridge and buy the goats cheese from a deli, not the supermarket, to save money on packaging.

2 medium sized chicken breasts, halved crossways

2 tablespoon of pesto (optional)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

large handful of english spinach, washed and roughly chopped

8 cherry tomatoes, thickly sliced

4 slices bacon or prosciutto

1/2 butternut pumpkin or acorn squash, diced into 3cm cubes and tossed with olive oil, thyme and salt

2 large handfuls of baby spinach or mixed mesclun

1/2 red apple, finely sliced into fans

Herb goats cheese balls

50g goats cheese

(‘Crumbing’ mix)

1/4 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

1/4 cup Italian parsely, finely chopped

zest of one lemon

cracked pepper

Sesame Goats cheese balls

50g goats cheese

(‘Crumbing’ mix)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 tablespoons chilli flakes

1 tablespoon toasted fennel seeds (optional) or poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 160C, 350F and roast pumpkin on a large baking tray.

Meanwhile, to stuff chicken, make a wide insertion into each half, making sure that the knife does not puncture through the breast. Rub 1/2 tablespoon of pesto inside each cavity. Heat 1tbl oil a large based frypan over medium heat and begin to saute garlic. Add in spinach and cook until just wilted. Allow to cool before stuffing each chicken cavity with 1/4 of the tomatoes, and spinach mixture. Wrap to enclose with bacon and secure with a toothpick.

For goats cheese balls, take a tablespoon of cheese and shape into a round using the palm of your hands. Coat half the balls in the herb mix and half in the sesame mix. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Serve chicken, pumpkin and goats cheese atop baby spinach, tossed with a dressing of equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of dijon mustard. Garnish with extra herbs and apple slices.

The Duck’s Winning Meatballs.

April 14, 2011 § 6 Comments

Allegory of Spring, 1871 by Henri Pierre Picou

 

Spring weather has officially arrived and I could not be happier! I love spring, mainly because I love seeing people shaking off their winter coats and spending afternoons sipping drinks in a beer garden, or long, lazy Sundays lounging in the park with the picnic basket, a couple of bottles of Proseco and a good book. It is a time of rebirth, renewal, regrowth and reconnection.

 

 

 

I have been bowled over with the beauty, and energy, that spring has brought here in Charlotte. Cherry blossoms and dogwoods were thick with blossom for most of March, and daffodils made blankets of yellow on the lawn of many homes. What I loved most was returning from our weekend in Pennsylvania and seeing that the city had exploded with a thousands shade of green. It was breathtaking and reminded me of growing up in the country, where after ten days away at the beach in September we would return and see that our garden had been coloured in with every green from bright apple to deep eucalyptus. I never experienced the same oomph during the change of seasons in Sydney, so this really was a sight for sore eyes.

NB and I have certainly felt ourselves energised and have taken on many projects to prepare our home for hosting spring parties. Weekends have been spent digging garden beds and planting seeds, trimming hedges and mowing lawns. To be honest I think NB was relieved when my lovely friend @ FoodieFresh came over to help me paint the porch on Sunday, and talk about women power! What a job! I also love that FF paints with the philosophy of a friend’s father – it is necessary to drink beers while painting as a form of time management. When you’ve had a sufficient amount to drink and can no longer climb up the ladder, it is time to call it a day!

 

Using grocery bags as dropsheets!

 

The local farmers markets have also started, and we are fortunate enough to have two at the end of our rode, a stones throw away. Warm evenings and fresh produce call for keeping meals as simple as possible. One meal that ticks all the boxes is this Spring Meatball Salad. This meal was actually made by The Duck in my last two weeks in Australia and nearly all the salad ingredients were picked straight from our garden before we set the table. I simply love the nasturtium flowers 🙂

 

The Duck’s notes.

 

In winter, these meatballs are made and cooked in a tomato sauce made rich and delicious with cream and homemade stock. In the warmer months however they are perfect for a salad, a meatball sub or skewer them and have them as part of a cocktail party with garlic aioli. From the number of taste testings we have done on the recipe, this one is the winner!

 

The Duck’s Winning Meatballs:

500g or about 1 pound beef mince

2 rashers bacon, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 red chilli (ditto!)

 

 

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs (make your own with day old bread in the food processor and freeze individual cup-portions in ziplock bags)

1 egg

Any scraps of herbs from the crisper or garden

Any spice flavour that you like: e.g Moroccan, Cajun…

 

 

Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl with your hands. Form into small meatballs using the ‘Metro Method’, i.e. toss from hand to hand like a baseball player!

Put on a glad-wrap lined tray (=no washing!) and have a 2nd tray beside it. Once meatballs are all formed, have a pile of flour and lightly roll each one on it before setting on the 2nd tray.

To cook meatballs, heat a splash of olive oil in a large based fry pan over med-high heat. Once browned on one side, turn the meatballs over and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with foil and cook about 10 minutes until cooked through but still juicy inside (if using the meatballs for pasta, only cook 2/3 of the way through and finish cooking in sauce).

Sit meatballs aside while you toss together a salad (leaves, lebanese cucumber, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes, olives, red onion, cannelini beans etc). For dressing, combine some of the juice from the jar of artichokes with Greek yoghurt and garlic aioli.

 

 

(note: It is worth taking the extra time to roll the meatballs nice and small so they cook faster and stay juicy. To freeze meatballs, line a baking tray with paper and evenly layer the meatballs, repeat with another layer of paper on top if needed. When frozen you can toss the meatballs into a ziplock bag and freeze. To defrost, shake them back out on to a baking tray so they don’t get squashed, and thaw in the fridge overnight.)

When sweatpants become your fancy dress…

April 6, 2011 § 9 Comments

Here we are again. My dedication to food has wreaked havoc on my waistline.

 

 

Before I moved to America I was shocked by how many women told me that their time abroad resulted in pounds and pounds of weight gain. If you are unsure about the conversions, one pound is 2.2kg (The Duck’s method for roasting lamb: 15 minutes per pound, 15 minutes for the oven, 15+ minutes to rest) So pounds and pounds is a LOT of weight!  I wondered how they had allowed the scales to tip so rapidly. Now I know. Here are some of the warnings that were given to me:

 

  • “The portion sizes are huge”,
  • “Everything is packed with sugar and cheese”,
  • “The country rules Drive-Thru: food, banks, pharmacies. You will stop walking”

 

And now my own observations:

 

  • When you stop working/studying full time you sit at home and eat more;
  • When you don’t know many people, you sit at home and eat more;
  • When you move into the middle of winter, you sit at home and eat more;
  • Moving away from Eastern Suburbs yummy mummies greatly relieves the pressure of daily workouts;
  • When you move to the South I have two words: Paula Deen

 

But you know me, I love to rant and rave about healthy eating (some of the time) So I really don’t know what happened…unless it was this, or this or this? Or maybe it was this?

 

 

All that I can hope for now is that the extra pudding has made me look more like Nigella Lawson, Domestic Sex Kitten, and less like either of the Two Fat Ladies.

 

So maybe keep an eye out for a few health-kick recipes coming from amidst the strawberry vines. Or maybe I’ll just say to hell with it and chocolate coat those berries instead. Tell me, what would you do??

 

 

Disclaimer:

During the writing of this post the author gorged on cheese and crackers, peanut butter & celery, nuts, seeds, milk and chocolate. Simultaneously.

 

 

 

The Real Twinkie Diet

March 21, 2011 § 9 Comments

Last night I was messing about on the Internet, trying to think of something to write for the next VoulezVous post when NB asked me if I had heard about the Twinkie diet. Ummm, no! Truth be told I’ve never even seen a Twinkie, but I was intrigued. So I Googled it, as we all do these days, and hot damn there was a man who had lived on Twinkie’s for six weeks and lost a whole bunch of weight. I stared at my rocket salad with barely concealed disdain. Here I am, day in day out trying to be healthy (ok maybe not day in AND day out) and this guy grabs his fill from a packet every 3 hours and ends up a skinny minny. Not cool dude! Anyway, I thought I would share my findings with you and maybe I’ll start listening to the little voice that keeps telling me how chocolate will make me happy…SupaSista – heard!

 

 

What have you eaten today? Was it poached eggs on whole wheat for breakfast or a tuna salad for lunch? How about Twinkies, Oreos or some Doritos? You might remember Mark Haub’s Twinkie diet from December last year, which saw the Professor of nutrition at Kansas State University shed 27 pounds over six weeks. Yep, a ‘guilt food’ made him drop 27 pounds. Why? Because one Twinkie every 3 hours was nearly all he ate.

This isn’t the first time someone has lost weight on a crazy diet, I once had a Pilates client who ate nothing but oranges for a week to lose weight while her husband was away. Others claim that the potato diet worked wonders for their waistline.

Yet realistically the food irrelevant,  it is the overall calorie reduction that has led to the weight-loss.

Of course the long-term health effects of permanently existing on these diets would be disastrous (hair loss, organ stress, loss of bone density, cognitive impacts, malnutrition and potentially even death), but they raise an issue that is very close to my heart. Portion control.

 

The people of Okinawa, Japan, one of the longest-lived and healthiest populations in the world, practice a principle they call hara hachi bu: Eat until you are 80% full. This is a sensible idea but how on earth can we tell when we are 80% full? By the time our mind has registered satiety, we have generally OVEREATEN, with majority of Americans (and many Aussies Blushers…) needing some visual cue as to when they should stop eating (when the plate is clean, when the package is empty, when the TV show is over). It’s time we start learning to react to internal cues, instead of those external reminders.

In his book, In Defence of Food, Michael Pollan, author, journalist and healthy eating activist, explains how eating less has repeatedly been shown to slow aging and prolong lifespan in animals. It is also linked to the prevention of cancer as cutting back on calories slows cell division and stifles the production of free radicals.

 

Here in America we face a culture of cheap and abundant calories, as well as a lack of formality or occasion surrounding meals. While the French eat modest portions and observe that second helpings are taboo, America continues to ‘Super Size Me’.

We’re also living in a society that’s low on time and big on outsourcing their food preparation, yet eating out can really be the killer. Did you know that restaurant portions can be up to four times the size of a recommended dietary serve? And don’t even get me started on free soda refills.

Remember the last time you were at an all you can eat buffet and ate until you feel sick, just to get your money’s worth? (NB’s cool aunt makes the joke that it’s All You Can Eat, not You Eat All!) Or when dining out in a restaurant and you make yourself finish all the sides for the table so they ‘don’t go to waste’. The Duck has a terrific saying for this: If your body doesn’t need it, it’s just going to waste anyway. Huzzah! Or my Nan will wrap up half a slice of bread to take home if she can’t finish it (she also washes Glad Wrap but that’s a whole other story.) I would feel confident in saying that no restaurant or cafe would refuse you a doggy-bag. By packing it up not only do you save your waist from overindulgence, but you save money on the next days lunch.

This is just a little food for thought. I think you can have your cake and eat it too, just maybe ask for half a slice.

 

 

 

 

Superfoods.

March 7, 2011 § 7 Comments

Months and months and MONTHS  ago I said that I would start a superfoods section at the Strawberry Patch. Whatever happened to that?! Recently I used this idea and wrote a post for the blog that is connected to a magazine that I am writing for. You can see the online article here, but I’ve also copied it below. Who has the sudden urge for dark leafy greens?!

 

 

Reach Your Training Potential With Superfoods

Have you heard the term ‘superfood’ being thrown around the gym, the supermarket and in the magazines but you’re still unsure about what they are and what it means for your training? Don’t worry you’re not alone!

Last week the VoulezVousMag blog set you the challenge of fourteen-days sugar free. Now that we know what NOT to eat, this week we’ll discover what we NEED to eat for the health of our organs, bones, muscles and immune systems.

Superfood is a term that was originally used by the Japanese back in the 1980s to describe food that was dense in nutrients. These days, the word ‘superfood’ encapsulates any food that is dense in vital nutrients that the body needs to thrive.

Superfoods are packed with protein, that magic food group that helps keep us away from sugary snacks, and satisfy our daily vitamin and mineral requirements. What this means is that by eating superfoods you are fuelling your body with proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, phytonutrients, good fats and oils, amino acids and essential fatty acids. You’ll never have to reach for that multivitamin tablet again!

 

Your Superfood bible

When our bodies are fed with demineralised food, i.e. food that has been grown in poor-mineral soil, or food that is highly processed, high in sugar or low in antioxidants and natural cell repairing fats and oils, we begin to show these deficiencies physically, first through our breath, then through our skin, hair and nails, and finally the internal systems of the body will begin to breakdown.

 

But how can superfoods help your training? When you follow an intense training program your body becomes affected physically and emotionally. So when you’re back at the gym doing it all again, your body is still trying to play catch up for cell growth and restoration. By fuelling your body with superfoods you are giving it the nutrients and minerals it needs to recover as quickly as possible.

And most importantly, superfoods are low in calories and high in nutrients, which means even small quantities will help to detoxify the body, achieve your ideal weight and provide you with the much needed energy and stamina to reach your training goals!

 

 

Superfoods For Your Shopping List

America’s South: Harris Teeter carries a small range of health food but for a one-stop shop, head to EarthFare and don’t forget to check out the bulk buy section for great prices on all your nuts and seeds.

Australia: Woolworths stocks the Macro range now, but if you’re in Bondi Junction go to The Suv for the BEST value organic market.

  • Raw unsweetened cacao: High in sulfur and magnesium, cacao beans reduce appetite and strengthen nails and bones. Use this superfood to help curb those chocolate cravings and stay true to your ‘no sugar’ pledge.
  • Maca: Known as the Incan superfood, Maca root is packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins and tannins. Sprinkle it on your yoghurt or mix it into a smoothie.
  • Goji berries: Also known as the wolf berry, goji berries are high in Vitamin C and contain amino acids, essential fatty acids and 12 trace minerals. Just remember that these babies are reasonably high in sugar, so consume in moderation.
  • Chia seeds: An ancient food used by the Aztecs, which contain protein, calcium, vitamns and minerals. Sprinkle a tablespoon of chia seeds over your soups, salads and yoghurts, or into a bottle of water to keep you feeling fuller for longer (Miranda Kerr does!) link – http://www.koraorganics.com/
  • Brazil nuts: The only nut with a “complete” protein content. Limit your serve to 3 Brazil nuts per day as they are high in fat.
  • Broccoli: Possibly the most powerful weapon in the dietary arsenal against cancer. Broccoli boosts the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health, builds bones and fights birth defects. If that’s not enough, a cup of broccoli only has 30 calories, so get steaming!

 

 

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