Avocado, Tomato & Cheddar Salad

As I’ve said before, salads are the quickest, easiest way to pack a wide variety of nutrients into one meal (see my ‘How To’ post, https://foodfervour.com/2015/12/01/the-quickest-easiest-nutrient-dense-meal/) and since it’s so humid today, I’m feeling lazier than usual. So salad for lunch it is. Cutting board, check. Knife, check. Bowl, check.

Food FervourCraving some cheese, (I’ve started buying vintage cheddars because I love the sharp saltiness of aged ‘tasties’) I decided to run with a traditional popular combo, cheese ‘n’ tomato. And since avocado is so good for you, as well as complementing both of these foods, it had to feature prominently too.

So, starting with a handful of watercress (you could use any green leaf you like) half a lebanese cucumber, quarter of a red capsicum, half a large avocado and 6 baby roma (or cherry) tomatoes, I roughly chopped them all ….chewing on a stick of celery at the same time… before gently tossing them in the bowl. Slicing about 40gms of vintage cheddar from the block, I used the wide-grater (see the photo) to ‘shave’ the cheese then, adding it to the bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and a dash of apple cider vinegar, I tossed the lot together with a little more gusto. A dash of ground black pepper and Himalayan salt and I was ready to dig in.

For something so simple, it’s a rich mix of flavour and texture: creamy, salty, moist and sweet all at once. But best of all, is it’s wonderfully filling thanks to the high fibre and healthy fat content.

The Meaning of Lunch

I have no idea why the word ‘Lunch’ brings up a particular meal description for me. Just like certain smells and songs have the power to evoke memories, for some reason, the word ‘Lunch’ to me means: a ham sandwich and cold chocolate milk.

I have, of course, eaten a huge variety of foods for ‘the midday meal’ in my 44 years, but for some strange & unknown reason, the ham sandwich, the chocolate (actually, Akta-Vite) milk and the time & place I consumed these, seems to have somehow forged an attachment to this one word.food fervour

Mum used to make our lunches for the most part. She would of course try to make us take responsibility ourselves, but ….lazy kids… say no more! Sandwiches were often the quickest, easiest meal and in that day-and-age of limited nutritional education, it stood to reason that these were what we were mainly fed.

Living in the tropics as well meant food preservation was a bit of an issue, but Mum got around that one with the help of the freezer. Making the lunches at night to freeze was also a time-saver in the mornings. Pack and go.

So my ham sandwich (cut in half horizontally, not diagonally, because it fit better in the lunchbox as two rectangles rather than triangles) and my Akta-Vite thawed out in time for ‘Big Lunch’. (In Australia, morning recess and lunchtime are known as ‘Little Lunch’ and ‘Big Lunch’. It’s fairly easy to work out, yes?) We would often eat most of our packed foodstuffs at ‘Little Lunch’ as well, leaving the morning tea fruit or whatever for the midday break.

The particular memory or image I have of myself consuming this specific menu is in my junior years at high school (so would’ve been twelve or thirteen years old). Ours was a brand new state school and there were as yet few places to sit and eat comfortably.

A couple of us are sitting cross-legged on some concrete at the rear of one of the classroom blocks and I have my lunchbox in my lap, and I’ve already vigorously shaken the plastic drink bottle full of the still-partially-frozen Akta-vite, ready to drink. I bite into the soft white bread sandwich, enjoying the saltiness of the ham chewing and swallowing before taking a swig of the sweet cold choccy milk. Ahhhh. Why do they go together so well?

While I’d now consider this kind of meal a bit of a ‘fail’ in the nutrition stakes, every now and then I decide to treat myself to those ‘sensations’. Today was one of those days. But the end product was slightly different; slightly healthier thanks to my swap-outs.Food Fervour

Instead of mass-produced ham, I used a nitrite-free product. I replaced the white bread with a high fibre gluten-free version; my pure homemade butter in place of margarine (ugh!) and instead of the sugar-loaded (but ‘mineral-dense) Akta-Vite, I mixed cacao and a little maple syrup with my fresh, homemade rice & almond milk. Admittedly, I broke from tradition and added some melted tasty cheddar to the sanger today (see pic)…. who doesn’t love a ham ‘n’ cheese “toastie”?!

Craving satisfied, without the added stress on my internal organs. But I will want a heap of veggies for tea tonight! 😉

Quick Quinoa & Haloumi Salad

I’ve already told you I’m lazy, right? Well this dish (it changes every time) is one of the easiest I know to make when I want something substantial – and slightly warm. Lunch in a hurry today…

I’m loving quinoa (most of you know by now its pronounced ‘keen-wah’ not ‘kwin-o-ah’) as much as the next healthy foodie and I’ve worked out it’s because it kills two birds with one stone: it has ‘complex-carb-functionality’ but an incredibly higher protein content than your average rice or couscous serving. So it makes for a great base to what would normally be a primarily veggie-based meal (what salad isn’t? Oh yeah….pasta salad. Urgh.)Food Fervour

You can throw in whatever you like, considering there are a couple of processes involved (oooh, very technical and not-so-lazy of me!) but make sure you pack in the vege. I’m loving the stronger flavour of red quinoa at the moment but the usual kind will do.

For a single serve of this messy little concoction (pictured) you will need:

1/4 cup rinsed -or previously soaked- red quinoa, 1/2-3/4 cup water, coconut oil, 1-2 tbspn cornflour, approx 100gms haloumi cut into chunks, 1/2 small red capsicum roughly chopped, 2 kale leaves de-stemmed & finely chopped, a decent handful of rocket or spinach roughly chopped, 1-2 tbspn pine nuts (toasted if you can be bothered), 1/2 avocado sliced diagonally, juice of 1/2 lime, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, Himalayan salt (if required)

Place the quinoa & water in a saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce to simmer partially covered for 12-15 minutes. (I actually use my Thermomix for this because it cooks quinoa than I ever have been able to). Meanwhile, pop the oil in frying pan over a medium heat and quickly roll your haloumi chunks in the cornflour. Add them to the pan along with the capsicum and cook for about 4-5 minutes, turning the browning cheese and stirring the capsicum. Add the kale, combining with the capsicum and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the kale has wilted.

Make a bed of the rocket/spinach in your serving dish, dump the quinoa on top, then the capsicum & kale over that (we’re not about ‘Looks’ here!). Arrange your avocado slices & haloumi chunks on top then sprinkle over the pine nuts. Add lime juice & olive oil separately by hand, or mix them if you want to add to the washing up.

Salt if you need it, and chow down.