Category Archives: Recipes

mediterranean chicken breast casserole

Mediterranean Chicken Breast Casserole

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Casseroles in a traditional Mediterranean diet are packed with flavour, with the use of herbs and beautiful produce like capers and olives over salt and cured meats. This makes them a much healthier option for any night of the week, and as dietitians we believe this is a great approach to cooking (and eating). This Mediterranean Chicken Breast Casserole is a beautiful weeknight meal, with the use of chicken breast making this dish a lower calorie and lower fat option. This recipe uses a sauce-first approach, allowing the sauce to thicken and flavours develop in the simmering, before adding chicken back in to cook until tender. The result is a healthy yet hearty casserole which can please the whole family.

If you have your own chicken stock frozen, feel free to use that. We love Momo’s free-range chicken stock, but really, any additive free chicken stock is great. Use a good quality red wine for cooking as you will taste the difference in the end result.

Kali Orexi!

Mediterranean Chicken Breast Casserole

mediterranean chicken breast casserole in pot

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 free-range chicken breast fillets, cubed or approximately 12 tenderloins.
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 can of  tomatoes (if using whole, crush with a fork in the pan)
  • 2 red capsicum, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 500mL Chicken stock (make your own or try Momo’s Free Range Chicken Stock)
  • 125mL red wine
  • 1 Tb capers
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method

  1. In a large casserole dish or heavy-bottomed lidded pan heat 1Tb oil over a medium-high heat.
  2. Cook chicken in batches until nicely browned on the outside only, leaving partially uncooked. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Turn temperature down medium to low, add 1Tb olive oil, and cook onion approximately 6 minutes until caramelised. Add garlic for last 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, paprika, thyme and oregano, cooking for 5 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock, wine and capsicum, stirring.
  6. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes to allow the flavours to develop and sauce to reduce.
  7. At this stage, if your sauce is not thick enough, you can thicken it with flour by making a ‘slurry.’ Start with approximately 1 Tb plain flour and a splash of water to make a paste. Add in 1 tablespoon of the hot sauce. Whisk until smooth before pouring the mixture back into the sauce. Let the sauce simmer and thicken for approximately 1-2 minutes. Repeat process if necessary until your desired consistency is achieved.
  8. Return chicken to the pan.
  9. Allow chicken to cook on a medium to low heat until cooked through but still tender – approximately 15-20 minutes.
  10. Stir in capers and olives and squeeze in lemon. Simmer for a further 3 minutes before removing from heat to serve.
  11. Serve with fresh green beans or asparagus drizzled with an extra squeeze of lemon.

Want more inspiration for healthy, flavoursome food?

Come along to our Mediterranean Diet Expo in Brisbane on October 21. We will have a range of cooking demos going on throughout the day, including a Greek Soup in the Thermomix; Moussaka; Greek coffee; and a demo on putting together the perfect Mezze Platter, complete with delicious wine! Experience a range of wonderful producers who can help you easily implement this diet.

Hear all about the concepts of Mediterranean eating from Tree of Life Nutrition’s Dietitians Desi Carlos and Lisa Peterson (Two Greek Girls Cooking). Learn how the Mediterranean Diet can seamlessly fit into your life for optimal health and vitality. As well, we offer you talks throughout the day from experts in the field of health and wellbeing on how beneficial this way of eating and living is for a long and healthy life.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET EXPO
easter bliss balls

Beat the Chocolate Cravings! Healthy “chocolate” bliss balls for Easter

By | Sweet treats | No Comments

The Easter bunny is on his way and that means chocolate is literally everywhere at the moment. When you have a particular eating plan in place, it can be quite hard to say no when confronted with those sugary, chemical filled distractions. If you are one who often gives into their sweet tooth, here is a yummy easter egg inspired bliss ball as a great replacement snack. These are still decadent and delicious but not nearly as bad for you as the supermarket, foil covered alternatives. In this recipe we’ve used cacao butter. This ingredient can sometimes be a little bit hard to find. However, your local Woolworths is a stockists or iHerb is a great and reliable online health food store.

Ingredients

1/4 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight

1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup organic desiccated coconut

30g chopped cacao butter, softened

3 tbsp premium coconut milk

2 tbsp honey

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup cashew meal

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp cacao powder

Handful sesame seeds

Method

  1. Soak almonds and cashews overnight in a large bowl filled with water. The following day, drain and rinse the soaked nuts
  2. Blend the soaked nuts with the coconut, cacao butter, coconut milk and honey until well combined in a blender
  3. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in the almond meal, cashew meal, cacao powder and vanilla
  4. Scoop up a tablespoon of mixture and circle into balls. Circle fully formed balls into the sesame seeds to make them look pretty and add texture
  5. Transfer into an airtight container to put in the fridge ready to set
  6. Enjoy without the guilt of consuming chocolate!

Did you enjoy this recipe? Do you have another delicious recipe that’s a great replacement for something sweet? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment in the reply box below.

Recipe inspired by lovelivenourish

healthy mini muffins

Banana Blueberry Oat Mini-Muffins

By | Healthy snacks | No Comments

Prepping for the day ahead can be difficult, especially if your household is a busy one. Sure, you can and should, always throw in some fruit and maybe some diced vegetables to your children’s lunchboxes (or yours!). But it is great to have a few snacks on hand to go into the lunchbox which feels a little more like ‘treat food.’ Here’s a beautiful and quick recipe for banana and blueberry mini muffins perfect for little hands.

We love both bananas and blueberries for their nutritional benefits. Bananas are the gold standard for filling up hungry little tummies and curbing blood sugar levels and have a huge number of nutrients in every sunny bunch. Whilst blueberries are high in antioxidants and support digestion, brain and heart health.

A point of view on cakes, slices and biscuits

When it comes to finding healthy snacks to add to lunchboxes, buying pre-packaged can be a minefield. There can be many claims on the health benefits of the item on the front of the packaging. But when we get to the ingredients and contents list, that’s where the real story is told. High sugar, high saturated fat, and not to mention a long list of unpronounceable and unadvisable additives can turn a so-called ‘healthy treat’ into a bad one.

Nevertheless, cakes, bars and slices are a much-anticipated part of a busy child’s day. They’re always the thing they eat above all else, and providing a healthy option often avoids the old ‘swap-e-roo’ at lunchtime. If you make them yourself, you always know what went into them.

So here’s our favourite recipe for muffins. We keep a batch in the freezer and add them in frozen to the lunchbox. They turn out perfectly defrosted by little lunch. Enjoy!

Banana blueberry oat mini-muffins

banana-blueberry-oat-mini-muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe Cavendish bananas
  • 1 cup (225 g) plain Greek yogurt (we like Olympus Greek Yoghurt or Chobani Greek Yoghurt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup honey (local if you can source it)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup of blueberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C and spray mini-muffin tin with cooking oil spray, brush with oil of choice or use muffin liners.
  2. Blend banana, yoghurt, eggs, oats, vanilla, baking soda and baking powder in a food processor or Thermomix on medium-high speed until a smooth texture is achieved.
  3. Gently fold in blueberries.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick into the centre. If it comes out clean – they’re ready.
  6. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before resting on a rack to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container for the week, or freeze them to use within 3 months…if they last that long!

Variations

You can replace the blueberries with raspberries, walnuts, or raisins in step 3 if you prefer!

We hope your children love this recipe as much as ours do.

Could your school benefit from nutritional education?

If you are interested in learning more about promoting great nutrition in schools, we also run seminars for schools, parents and carers of both primary school and high school-aged children.

For more information, head to our School Seminars page.

Chickpea energy balls

By | Healthy snacks, Sweet treats | No Comments

Energy balls are a healthy snack option, but they are often high in kJ due to the amount of nuts and dried fruits in them. Making them with chickpeas, reduces the kJ content,and keeps these little beauties soft and chewy. The chickpeas in them also means they have added protein and fibre, which help with stabilising blood glucose levels, and help with satiety.

 

Makes 10-12 balls

 

Ingredients:

400g tin salt-reduced chickpeas

1 ½ cups mixed raw nuts and seeds

1 cup medjool dates

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (no added salt or oil)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

3/4 cups shredded coconut

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cocoa powder

 

Method:

  1. Add the nuts into food processor, and blend until coarse. Add dates and blend again. Remove mixture from food processor.
  2. Add chickpeas, water, honey, peanut butter and vanilla extract, and puree to a smooth paste.
  3. Combine both mixtures, and remaining ingredients back into the food processor, and blend until combined.
  4. Using your hands, roll the mixture into little balls, which then can be rolled in shredded coconut, finely chopped nuts or cocoa powder.
  5. Store in airtight containing, and pop into fridge or freezer.

 

*recipe adapted from www.mckenziesfoods.com.au. Picture taken from same site.

 

 

Dark chocolate bark

By | Recipes, Sweet treats | No Comments

After a healthy and easy chocolate treat? We like to use dark chocolate as it is high in antioxidants, and is lower in added fats and sugars than milk and white chocolates.

Method:

  1. Heat up some good quality dark chocolate, be careful not to burn or overheat the chocolate – that would be such a waste! Then pour the liquid deliciousness into a lined baking tray, and spread evenly using a spatula.
  2. While the chocolate is still warm, add your toppings. Try adding chopped up unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts or peanuts), seeds (sunflower, chia or pumpkin seeds) and some dried fruit (cranberries, sultanas, chopped up apricots, or dates)
    I like to sprinkle some unsweetened coconut flakes on mine too. Then just pop in the fridge for a few hours to cool. When the bark is completely set, smash it up into smaller, pieces…then eat (in moderation of course!)

If wanting smaller, more controlled portion sizes, try making them into buttons – around the size of a 50c coin.

Enjoy!

 

*recipe adapted from http://amazingalmonds.com.au/2014/10/07/almond-coconut-and-cranberry-chocolate-bark/. Picture from same site.

Cauliflower mash

By | Recipes, Side-dish, Vegetarian | No Comments

Creamy and comforting, this is a twist to the original side dish. Lower in carbs and kJ, cauliflower is a great alternative to the much-loved potato.

For a low-FODMAP option, remove the garlic, and cook with water rather than stock, if it contains FODMAP rich ingredients.

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic (optional)

1kg cauliflower (about 1 medium head), chopped into 4-5 cm chunks

1-2 375ml salt-reduced vegetable stock /or water (enough to cover the cauliflower)

Fresh rosemary or thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

  1. In a large pot, bring the stock/or water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook for 5-7 minutes, until tender, adding the garlic cloves in the last minute of cooking. If using water rather than stock, reserve ½ cup of the water used for boiling, before draining cauliflower.
  2. Transfer cauliflower and garlic to a food processor (or use a potato masher). Add oil and reserved water/stock, 1 teaspoon at a time, and purée until desired texture.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add herb of choice and process/blend until just combined.

 

*recipe adapted from both taste.com.au and “The CSIRO low-carb diet” cookbook (2017). Picture from taste.com.au.

 

Banana, honey and walnut loaf

By | Recipes, Sweet treats | No Comments

This sweet and nutty loaf is a delicious afternoon delight, served with hot tea or coffee. If there is any leftovers, slice some up and pop into lunchboxes, or toast it for a special breakfast treat.

 

Serves 8

 

Ingredients:

225g (1 ½ cup) plain flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 teaspoons baking powder

70g (2/3 cup) rolled oats /or quinoa flakes (can purchase in most health food stores)

100g walnuts, coarsely chopped

175g (½ cup) honey, plus extra to serve

2 eggs

80ml (1/3 cup) canola oil (or other oil of choice)

65g (1/4 cup) low-fat Greek style yoghurt

4 ripe bananas, mashed

fresh ricotta cheese, to serve

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180. Lightly brush a loaf bar/bread tin with oil and line the base of the tin with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Into a large mixing bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add the oats and 2/3 of the walnuts. Stir to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine honey, eggs, oil and yoghurt, and banana. Into the mix, add dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture into prepared tin, and using the back of a spoon, smooth the surface. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the top.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the loaf browns too quickly, cover with come al-foil.
  6. Once ready, remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes, before turning onto a wire rack. Serve warm with fresh ricotta and a drizzle of honey.

Note: To make the loaf extra fruity, add either 1 cup frozen blueberries/raspberries or fresh strawberries (cut up), just before spooning the mixture into the tin for baking. Chopped almonds, cashews or pecans also work in place of walnuts.

*recipe adapted from “Supergrains” by Chrissy Freer (2013). Picture from taste.com.au and shows banana and walnut bread.

Spicy chickpea, tomato and quinoa soup

By | Meatless Monday, Recipes, Vegetarian | No Comments

This soup is bound to warm you up on a cold winters night. Packed with nutrients, it’s a great way to get 2-3 serves of vegetables from this dish, and it’s perfect for vegetarians! The combination of legumes (chickpeas) with a whole grain (quinoa) makes a complete protein, which makes it a balanced meal. For those who are not keen on vegies, this soup can be blended as an alternative.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large red onion, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and diced

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 capsicum (any colour), seeded and chopped

1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon tomato paste

420g tin no-added-salt chickpeas, drained and rinsed

65g quinoa briefly rinsed

400g tin no-added-salt chopped tomatoes

Large handful of parsley or coriander

Grainy bread

 

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion and celery, stirring for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, chilli, capsicum and spices and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Then add tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the chickpeas, quinoa, and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve up into bowls and sprinkle some fresh herbs onto. Enjoy with some crusty grainy bread.

 

*recipe adapted from “Supergrains” by Chrissy Freer (2013). Picture from bbcgoodfood.com and shows Moroccan chickpea soup.

Roasted spicy cauliflower with tahini sauce

By | Recipes, Vegetarian | No Comments

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried coriander

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

sprinkle of dried chili flakes

½ cup crushed almonds

 

Tahini sauce:

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

¼ cup water

¼ cup lemon juice

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

handful of chopped fresh parsley

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Blanch the cauliflower in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain in colander, allowing to steam dry (the cauliflower will take forever to roast if too moist).
  3. Combine all the spices, nuts and oil, and toss cauliflower florets in the mix.
  4. Place in ovenproof dish or tray and roast them for about 15-20 minutes, turning them a few times for even crispiness.
  5. To make the tahini sauce, mix tahini, water, lemon juice, parsley and garlic together in a bowl and stir until smooth. Drizzle over the cauliflower and serve immediately.

 

*This recipe is adapted from taste.com.au and jaimeoliver.com

 

Japanese pancakes

By | Recipes | No Comments

Japanese pancakes, or okonomiyaki, are a delicious option for a light lunch, but don’t be fooled by this picture. When I attempted these babies, they turned out to be more like fritters than pancakes, but were delicious nonetheless. This recipe is so versatile, and you can use lots of different vegetables. Try adding red cabbage, carrot, bean shoots, or mushrooms.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. (20ml) canola oil

2 cups green cabbage

3 cups (3-4 depending on size) zucchini

2-3 garlic cloves

2 cups (1/4 head) of cauliflower

1 onion, grated

2 spring onions

110g almond meal

6 eggs

2 tbsp. tamari

2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce

low-fat mayonnaise to serve

 

Method:

  1. Slice spring onions and set some aside for garnish.
  2. Grate cabbage, zucchini, garlic and onions. Chop up cauliflower. Mix vegetables together and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with tamari, sesame oil and sweet chilli sauce. Then add almond meal and vegetables to the mix.
  4. Heat oil in frypan over medium heat. Working in batches, drop tablespoonful of batter into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through.
  5. To serve, top each pancake with spring onion and a little low-fat mayonnaise.

Tip: to avoid having too much liquid in batter, squeeze out some of the excess liquid from the zucchini, and add more almond meal if needed.

 

*This recipe is adapted from kitchen.nine.com.au. Picture from kitchen.nine.com.au

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