Food Prepping: Mung Beans

FOOD PREPPING WITH MUNG BEANS 

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There has been a lot of hype in the media of late about food prepping – and rightly so; thmung beansere’s no better way to ensure you eat well in the midst of a busy, working week! So, this week, I have used mung beans, as they have many health benefits. They are high in calcium, magnesium, iron and B-6 – and best of all, they are high in protein. Mung beans are pretty bland on their own, so I have used some of my favourite spices to add flavour, along with onion and garlic.

To begin, rinse your beans in water to remove any residue. Next, boil your mung beans in slightly salted water until they are soft. I use half of this bag at a time. Drizzle with olive oil.

While your beans are boiling, add one chopped, brown onion into a frypan and fry in olive oil, along with some garlic. When soft, add a teaspoon each of the following spices:

 

spices

You will end up with this – see image below. Set aside.

onion

Mix your onion mixture into the cooked mung beans, and presto, a nutritious base for a meal. Pop your cooled beans into the base of a container. Add salad items, such as tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber, and some feta cheese. Or, you might like to steam some green beans and capsicum to eat with it too.

 

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Enjoy, like I will this week back at work!

Satisfying Beef & Cabbage Soup

Beef soup

 

Beef and Cabbage Soup

As a child, I never ate red meat, so this recipe would come as a shock to my old, anaemic self. Today, I believe eating meat is an important part of giving my body the protein, iron, and nutrients that it needs. I used to argue that you could pop an iron tablet, so there’s no basis for eating meat. After listening to my body, I no longer believe this. I’m not a fan of taking artificial vitamins. My philosophy stems from a desire to provide my body with goodness from foods – the natural way. Besides, I’m pretty sure that taking iron supplements sparked an episode of SVT – but that’s another story.

So, why this recipe? Well, my daughter dances 10 hours per week, meaning she needs a balanced diet, giving her protein, iron etc. to ensure her muscles can cope with the physical demands of strenuous exercise, and my son is a teenager whose growing body also needs fuel. And me, well, I’m constantly striving to stem anaemia, so what better way to nurture my red blood cells than with red blood cells!

Besides the meat factor, we rarely eat cabbage, so I wanted to include this vegetable into our diets – hence why there’s a lot in this recipe, along with Brussel sprouts.soup

Here’s how I made this:

  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 500g good quality beef fillet, chopped
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 cabbage
  • 5 Brussel sprouts
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • Fresh thyme and rosemary (I love thyme and cook a lot with it. I’ve also added rosemary in here as it goes well with beef).
  • Parsely
  • Salt, pepper

Method

  1. In a big pot, fry your onion, garlic and celery.
  2. Add the beef and cook until browned.
  3. Fill pot with hot water and stock.
  4. Add the cabbage, sprouts, herbs, salt and pepper.
  5. Cook until cabbage is soft.
  6. Enjoy!

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Chicken, Veg & Herb Soup

Chicken, Veg & Herb Soup

Veggies

Seriously, how divine do these vegetables and herbs look! I love to cook with lots of colours. I couldn’t go past these yellow squash, onions, and herbs. Aside from basil and thyme, tarragon is my other favourite herb to cook with. In Australia, it is seasonal and not available all year round, so I buy it whenever I see it. I love the aniseed flavour! The smell of this soup is sweet and inviting. This is simple, healthy, home-cooking at its best: ideal for busy, working mums!

IngredientsVeggies in bowl

  • 4 organic chicken thighs, chopped
  • 4 shallot onions – see above photo
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 5 potatoes
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 100g pancetta
  • 1/4 cup of soup mix: lentils and barley
  • At least 11/2 litres of chicken stock
  • A handful of tarragon
  • 6 stalks of thyme
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper

To makeSoup

  1. Fry your onion, garlic and pancetta in some olive oil until translucent
  2. Add your chicken and brown
  3. Throw in your chicken stock, wine, herbs, soup mix and vegetables
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Simmer until vegetables are soft – at least half an hour. Add lemon juice.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

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Warm, Immune-Boosting Quinoa Salad

Warm, Immune-Boosting Quinoa Salad

Quinoa 2

I’ve been feeling a little tired lately as a busy working mum and felt like I needed some quinoa and fresh herbs to give my immune system a boost. Quinoa is bursting with amino acids, making it an excellent source of protein, along with iron, B vitamins, and some minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

In addition to the health properties of quinoa, this recipe also includes fresh herbs: basil, thyme and oregano. Oregano is high in calcium, vitamin A, B-6, iron and magnesium.  Basil is high in vitamin A and C, along with others. Of all three herbs, thyme has the highest concentrate of vitamin C, and also includes iron, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and B-6. Add the health benefits of these three herbs to the nutritious quinoa and you can see why this is an awesome, immune-boosting recipe.

The recipe also includes crushed hazelnuts, which can be omitted for people with nut allergies. They add a nutty, crunchy consistency to the dish. Hazelnuts include potassium, dietary fibre (no, not spelt incorrectly. Aussie spelling), protein, and vitamins.

You need only jump on the net to read the health benefits associated with apple cider vinegar. Whilst some claims may be dubious, vinegar has been around for thousands of years and it is made up of acetic acid, a property which has emerged in recent studies to improve health.

Quinoa 1Like vinegar, garlic has also been associated with health benefits, with some also referring to it as nature’s antibiotic. While this may be debatable, many people over the years can attest to its healing properties. Garlic contains manganese, B-6, vitamin C, selenium, iron and more.

Last of all, I’ve used my favourite ingredient: savoury yeast flakes which are popular with vegans and vegetarians. They contain significant amounts of B-group vitamins and ttrace amounts of other vitamins and minerals. Savoury yeast flakes are different from yeast extract, used in baking breads. Best of all, this ingredient includes all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Find these in your health food store.

So, if you’re keen to boost your own health, here’s how:

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion
  • 3 yellow squash
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts
  • 700 mils of vegetable stock
  • 250g quinoa
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh oregano, 3 stalks of thyme, basil
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • Zest 1 lemon and juice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons of savoury yeast flakes

Putting it all together

  1. Fry your onion and garlic in some olive oil until translucent
  2. Add the squash and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes
  3. Add the quinoa, vegetable stock, hazelnuts, tomatoes, herbs, vinegar, lemon and nutmeg and cook until quinoa is expanded and ready to eat
  4. Stir in your savoury yeast flakes
  5. Eat and enjoy!

*Note: this recipe was adapted from a recipe that I saved many years ago, and have lost the source!

 

 

 

Tasty, Irish Lamb Stew with Dumplings

Tasty, Irish Lamb Casserole

Stew 3

I’ve just popped this delicious-smelling, tasty lamb stew in the oven and I can’t wait to eat it. I have some Irish ancestry, so I’m going to call this an Irish Stew. I’ve been making beef and chicken stews and the kids are starting to get sick of the same ones, so I wanted to make a stew using lamb for a nice change.

Like all good stews, you begin by frying your onions, garlic and celery in butter and olive oil. Next, you add your floured-meat to fry the edges of the meat, so that the goodness within is sealed, so to speak. Then, you add your veggies, stock, herbs and pop in the oven for ages, until the meat is tender and soft.

Stews are my favourite to make, as they are incredibly rich and flavoursome, they make a big potfull so that you can eat leftovers, or freeze, and they are ultimately very healthy. They provide a balanced meal, with meat, veggies, carbohydrates and a small amount of fats.

Here’s how I made this Irish stew:

Ingredients Veggies

  • 4-5 bacon rashers, without fat, finely chopped
  • a cup full of good quality lamb, chopped up into bite size pieces
  • Flour to coat the meat before frying
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 brown onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 5 medium-sized potatoes, chopped
  • 4 medium-sized carrots, chopped
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 11/2 cups of beef stock

Method

  1. Throw a generous amount of butter (3 tbsps.) and some olive oil into a cast iron pot, along with the bacon. Fry.
  2. Next, add the onions, garlic, and celery. Fry until onion is translucent.
  3. Coat your meat in flour and fry to seal the goodness within.
  4. Add your beef stock. When I make my beef stew, if I’ve added too much water and it looks like my stew will be too runny in the end, I take excess out and freeze to use as beef stock in future. I have used this beef stock in this recipe, but you can use ordinary beef stock if you don’t have any home-made stock on hand.
  5. Add all the vegetables, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper.
  6. Pop in the oven for at least an hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Frustrating mum moment: Now, I could swear that I bought fresh thyme at the shops, but I can’t find it anywhere. I vividly remember selecting some but it’s not in the fridge. So annoying! I suspect my groceries were piled so high on the conveyer belt that it may have fallen off and been missed. Darn it! I’m going to have to use another herb instead. I’ve chosen oregano, purely because I don’t normally use oregano in my stews, so I suppose it will give it a different flavour. I’d definitely use thyme over oregano.

Note 1: You could also throw in some fresh parsley and a dash of white wine.

Note 2: Feel free to make my home-made dumplings to throw in towards the end of cooking. To see how to make these, click on any of my other stew/casserole recipes. I made these ones today with oregano. You can see them in the cover photo. I can’t make a stew without dumplings! They really are the highlight of the dish. I reckon my kids would refuse to eat stew without dumplings too!

Dumplings

 

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Buttery Chicken Stew with Dumplings

dishh

Hearty Chicken Stew with Dumplings

You may have guessed by now, but I’m a big stew fan. Why? Because you essentially throw all your meat, veggies, and herbs in a pot and cook. Honestly, they’re so easy! The only time consuming part is cutting up the meat and veggies. And, well, if you want to eat healthily, you want to eat vegetables, and so, of course, this is going to mean you have to chop them up. No way around that.

stewwI’ve already shared a couple of stews, AKA casseroles, with you, but this is my favourite chicken stew. Not many people cook chicken stews. I don’t know why. Perhaps because the white meat cooks quickly, unlike red meat, so there’s an assumption that you can’t cook it over a longer period of time? Not true…in this case, anyway.

Basically, make your stew. When it’s been in the oven for 55 minutes, begin making your dumplings (see below recipe). Add these into your stew and cook for a further 20 minutes. So, without further adieu, here’s the recipe:

What you’ll need: pot

  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bok choy
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • Fresh or 1tsp dried tarragon
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 3 tablespoons of cornflour or flour
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese

Magic Method

  • Note: Ideally, you will need a pot that can be used both on the stove and in the oven. If you don’t already have one, check this one out:

 

  1. Fry your onion, garlic and celery in some butter and olive oil until soft.
  2. Add your chopped-up chicken and brown.
  3. Coat the chicken with the cornflour and stir in pot.
  4. Add all your chopped-up veggies, herbs, salt and pepper.
  5. Add your stock, milk and parmesan. Stir.
  6. Transfer pot into the oven and cook for approximately 55 minutes.
  7. Add you dumplings and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!
  • Note: Check that you have some liquid still in the pot before putting in your dumplings.

To make the dumplings

Put 1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour in a bowl. Add 50g of soft butter. Rub butter into flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Like this:

crumbs

Next, add a few tablespoons of milk, until it forms a dough. Roll into little balls and drop into stew. They should look like this:

dumplings

  • Note: This stew can be popped in the freezer. It can also be kept in the fridge for one day. It does not contain preservatives, so must be eaten no later than the day after it is made.

 

 

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Banana Cupcakes with a hint of Cinnamon

Banana Muffins

I love baking so that my kids have home-baked items in their school lunches each day. The problem with being a busy, working mum is that I simply don’t have time to bake on school nights. So, I make these cupcakes whenever I get a chance, then freeze them. Make sure cakes are totally cool before freezing. Then, each night before school, as I’m preparing school lunches, I take one of these little lovelies out of the freezer and pop in a lunch box. Too easy!

These cupcakes are light, fluffy and sweet. They are best made with bananas that are very ripe. I usually pop the ripe bananas that the kids haven’t eaten in the fridge, this way they last a few more days, until I have time to bake with them. The skins may turn dark in the fridge, but when you peel, they’re still white and fresh inside.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 160g butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4-5 ripe bananas
  • 3 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Magic Method

  1. Pop your butter and sugar in a bowl and beat.
  2. Add your eggs.
  3. Mash your bananas and add these too. Mix.
  4. Take bowl out of beater.
  5. Add your flour, salt, soda, milk and cinnamon. Mix with wooden spoon.
  6. Pop your mixture into muffin cup trays.BANANA MIXTURE
  7. Bake in moderate oven for around 22 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Make pancakes/pikelets for lunches!

pancake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from baking and freezing muffins for school lunches – see my Banana, Choc Chip, Oat Muffins post – I also love making pancakes on the weekend and freezing leftovers for school lunches. They freeze really well and I can’t taste the difference. Take them out of the freezer the night before school and move into the fridge. In the morning, pop in lunchboxex and they’re perfect by lunch time.

I call them pancakes on the weekend when we eat them fresh, then pikelets when I pop them in school lunches. Just a bit of fun.

This is my staple pancake recipe. When I feel like I need a bit of a change, I mix it up by using some buckwheat flour in with the self-raising flour. I also throw in different types of fruits, whatever I have on hand that’s ripe in the fruit bowl, especially bananas and berries: blueberries are our favourite. I love this recipe because it uses ingredients that I have in my household and don’t need to especially buy, so I can make pancakes whenever I feel like it. It also doesn’t use a lot of sugar. If you love almond meal, you could throw a little of this in too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten with fork
  • 11/2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

My Method

All you need to do is mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl – the flour and sugar. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients – the milk, vanilla and egg. Then combine wet and dry together and whip with a whisk until a smooth batter. Add in your fruits if you wish. Pan fry in some butter. Add whipped cream if you wish. Enjoy!

Note: None of my cooking has artificial preservatives, so these need to be eaten within 24 hours from the fridge.

 

 

 

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Chocolate Cupcakes with a Twist

choc cupcakes 4

Honestly, is there anything better than chocolate? Every working mum and dad needs a little indulgence at the end of a busy working day. You’ve finally put the kids to bed, you pour a glass of wine, you sit down to finally enjoy a little me-time. Come on, you know you do! Well, these ripper, little cupcakes may be just the thing!

In addition to my own indulgences, my kids love these cupcakes. They freeze really well for school lunches, and I admit, I have one in my own lunch at work too. Yep, I make all my colleagues jealous of my morning tea! If you’re really nice, you might like to bring these into work to share around. Me? Nah, I’d rather keep them all for me and the kids! [insert surprised emoji] I may or may not be kidding here!

And what’s the twist, I hear you ask? Well, check out the recipe and look for the unusual ingredient. Hint: it’s a little something I can’t do without in the mornings to get my mind into gear!

Note: Big ‘Hello’ to my Singapore neighbours who are following! I love your  city. I love Sentosa. Take me back!

Choc Cup CakesIngredients

  • 175g butter
  • 11/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsps. instant coffee
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water

Magic Method

  1. So, to make, you beat your softened butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Remove bowl from mixer.
  2. Next, mix the coffee in with a tsp warm water to dissolve.
  3. Pour the flour, bi-carb soda and cocoa in with the butter mixture.
  4. Pour in the coffee.
  5. Mix all together.
  6. Put in muffin cup trays
  7. Bake at around 175 degrees celsius for around 17 minutes.Choc cup cakes 3

Is there any icing, I hear you say?

Icing is easy. Mix a cup of icing sugar with a few tablespoons of butter and cocoa. Add a bit of milk if needed. Stir until the right consistency. ENJOY!

 

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Pasta Salad with Anchovies & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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My signature pasta salad!

Whenever my friend Amanda invites me over to one of her soirees, I always make this pasta salad to bring along. It’s always a hit! And today when I was at my hairdressers, I shared this with Stacey, as she has a BBQ on tonight. Now, let me share it also with you all!

It’s divine when  it’s warm and just been put together. It also tastes amazing the next day after having been in the fridge, when all the flavours have had time to blend together and sink into the pasta.

It’s a great dish to make as a busy mum because it makes quite a lot, so there should be plenty of leftovers for the next day. The colours are really pretty and appealing, so the kids love it too. Don’t mention the anchovies in it and they probably won’t even know about them!

Without further ado, here’s how to make it.

spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • A Spanish onion (the purple ones)
  • Spring onions (I have a feeling these have a different name in the US too?) – about 6 or one bunch
  • A can/jar of anchovies in olive oil
  • A jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 2 Red capsicum (I think you call them peppers in America, but I might be wrong)
  • 2 Carrots
  • Tri-coloured pasta – as in my photo
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Now, I use Fettuccine, but you can also use Linguine – see here:
Antico Pastificio Toscano MORELLI – Italian linguine (250 gr)

The Magic Method

First of all, cook the pasta, so that it is soft but still a bit firm – hope this makes sense! You don’t want it to be too cooked and gushy. Drain and set aside.

Put the chopped up Spanish onion, 3 chopped spring onions, half the jar of sun-dried tomatoes and all the oil from the jar, all the anchovies and oil, the 1/4 olive oil, and vinegar in a blender and … yep, what it’s for… blend it!

Toss this yummy sauce through the warm pasta, along with the half remaining jar of sun-dried tomatoes.

Next, cut up your carrots and red capsicums, along with the remaining 3 spring onions and toss into salad. You could add salt and pepper if you like, but I don’t do this. Pasta salad! There you have it. The best pasta salad you’ve ever eaten! Add it to your family favourites!

Note: pasta salad tastes amazing in bread rolls with butter!