Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Chorizo, chicken and sweet potato baked rice with paprika, mixed veggies and spinach leaves

During the week most of us need dinner suggestions that take little time and effort, but never do we want little flavour!

I think this dish meets the brief!

The recipe requires a little bit of sauteeing in the beginning, but the reward is delicious smokey, garlicy, caramelised flavours in the finished dish, and the oven really gives a lovely texture and flavour to the rice - not to mention it saving you any further effort for 50 minutes!

As with most of my recipes, take ownership and self belief, and make this dish your own.  If your family doesn't like the veggies I used, change them to suit your tastes.  Increase or decrease the garlic, use fresh tomatoes while they are cheap and in abundance in the summer months, add seafood if that's your thing (in the last 15 minutes of cooking), a drained tin of kidney beans instead of chicken, or even a garnish of freshly chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime before serving instead of the spinach leaves.  The important thing to maintain is the liquid to rice ratio and the rest you can play around with!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Black rice, seed and choc chip cookies - gluten and nut free

My eldest son starts school next year and already I think I have heard more about 'lunchbox etiquette' than anything else to do with school!!!

It seems gone are the days when pretty much every lunchbox consisted of a peanut butter or ham sandwich, cheese stick, Prima (Juice Box for many other parts of the country/world!), pack of chips and piece of fruit!  And that's probably a good thing on the whole!

These days you have to be 'nude food' compliant, 'rainbow food' savvy, cold chain compliant, and must have not a trace of nut in sight!  5 days of the week, 38 weeks of the year, 13 years straight! AAAUUUGGGHHHH.  How ever are we going to get out of the door each morning??!!  And will we be accepted by the lunchbox police? ( :

In all seriousness though, the allergy thing is a big one these days, with so many kids administered with an EpiPen in the case of an anaphylactic shock.  So not only do these parents understandably spend so much time and effort keeping their children safe and avoiding nuts, every parent who has school aged kids really needs to be mindful of the products they are sending to school in lunchboxes.  That can be tough for a family not needing a radar for nuts in their life (or any other allergens for that matter).

So given I use nuts a lot, I really wanted to start exploring the nut free world so that next year we can be armed with some yummy homemade snacks that might just win over not only the lunchbox police, but also the nutrition police (me!) and most importantly, the taste police (being my boys!!).

Nutrient wise, when it comes to bikkies, these little guys not only contain a lot less sugar than probably all store bought varieties and many home baked too, but also actually provide goodness, coming from the black rice, sesame seeds and chia seeds!  As I spoke about on Mellymaks Facebook page recently, 'black foods' are a powerhouse of minerals, isoflavones and antioxidants, helping to strengthen the immune system among other benefits.  And milling the whole grain means that not only do you get those immunity benefits, but the fibre and healthy fats from the bran, germ and endosperm!

I spoke a lot about the benefits of seeds in STEP 3 of Mellymaks STEPS program, and the chia seeds and sesame seeds in these bikkies will certainly boost the kids with energy and nutrients galore!