An Eclectic Rainbow Salad

Variety is the spice of Life. It also happens to be really good for your body.

That’s why it’s one of the drivers behind the meals I make: the greater the variety of food in a meal, the higher its nutritional content (generally speaking). That’s why ‘they’ say “Eat a Rainbow”.

Well, today’s lunch certainly nailed the colour bit. Which is interesting, considering it all began with a thought about boiled eggs as I drove home from yoga. You see, I often boil a few up and keep them in the fridge (…for moments just like these – instant gratification meals). Mum used to make an avocado, tomato & cottage cheese salad that I loved and even though it didn’t relate directly to my egg craving, I began to envisage a meal based on this combination.Food Fervour

This is how it came together:

Scattering a large handful of roughly chopped baby spinach on my plate, I then topped it with 3 quartered cherry tomatoes, 2 quartered hard boiled eggs, about 5cm of chopped lebanese cucumber and chunks of flesh from ½ large avocado.

Next I piled on about 3 heaped tablespoons of (my homemade) sauerkraut to please my gut bacteria, then a mound (approximately 2 tablespoons) of grated vintage cheddar …simply because it goes so well with avo and sauerkraut (have you ever tried a Reuben’s Sandwich? Here’s a link to my recipe for one of them: https://foodfervour.com/2014/11/25/a-probiotic-toastie/)

That’s kind of edgy enough for a salad but I felt like pushing the boundaries a bit further so, instead of my standard vinegar & oil dressing, I drizzled the plain EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) over everything but followed it with a dollop of homemade sweet chilli sauce on the top. And if that wasn’t daring enough, I sprinkled approximately a dessertspoon of nutritional yeast flakes over the whole lot. BOOM. Gut-lovin’!

Now admittedly, even before I tucked in, it crossed my mind that I might’ve gone too far: gone overboard with elements & confused the flavours …but I wasn’t disappointed. I ate the lot. Maybe I was too hungry to notice whether the flavours really worked together or not? So please, by all means, if you decide to try this meal for yourself, and you come to a different conclusion, feel free to remind me that sometimes nutrient density should take a backseat to simplicity…

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Sustainable Eating

Let me just say, from the outset, that this may sound weird to most: I just got excited about making beef stock.

food fervourWell, that’s not exactly true. I have thought of jumping on the ‘bone broth’ wagon for a little while now, but only grabbed my grass-fed cow-parts a couple of days ago. Via a recipe on Jo Whitton’s old Quirky Cooking website, I prepared it and left it to simmer on the stove for almost 24 hours. Er, yes, even when I vacated the house & overnight while sleeping… (I know, a bit of a dodgy move) But now I have 3 litres of nutritious, gut-healing broth.

The exciting part is, I feel great knowing I’m using parts of the animal that a vast majority of people waste. Now I’m no saint (because offal & sweetbreads I just will not be able to manage) but considering I don’t usually consume a lot of meat anyway, I feel like I’m “doing my part” for the environment …and the cows. (Ok, so I’m nowhere near as virtuous as the Vegans and Veggos…)

food fervourWhat made me super excited however, was discovering there was more than just a few litres of broth in this process: there was lard. Well, not exactly; having never used it before, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it…

What I meant to say was beef. Slow-cooked (braised) beef, from the stock bones. So not only did I have lots of broth, but also a substantial amount of protein left to eat. Meals for DAYS! That means my $8 for 2 kilos of cow bits has also saved me a fair bit of dosh.

The ready-cooked (falling-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth) meat just needed a ‘theme’ and from the moment I saw & felt its texture, I knew I wanted Mexican. So all I had to do was fry up garlic, onion, spices, add the tomato passata, and some of my fresh broth before adding in the ‘shredded’ meat, to warm & soak up the flavours.

food fervour

Mexican Shredded Beef with grated cheddar & tomato guacamole on a bed of baby spinach, cucumber & capsicum

Making a quick guacamole in the meantime, my Mexican Shredded Beef salad dinner was ready in a matter of minutes. (Alright ….discounting the fact that it took nearly 24 hours to cook the meat in the first place….) And I have enough left for two more meals. I think that’s called “value for money”. And maybe also “sustainable eating” 😉

You Don’t NEED Ice Cream…

I have a sweet tooth, there’s no doubt about it. So satisfying the night-time urge I usually get can be tricky, considering I generally try to avoid sugar.

food fervourThe best thing to do is …make something yourself. This is pretty much my entire philosophy towards food anyway. If YOU make it, you KNOW what’s in it. It’s that simple (aside from being really important).

I used to looooove ice cream. I could eat whole tubs in one sitting, no joke. But I just don’t need to, don’t WANT to, buy it anymore because I have found the perfect, more nutritious substitute. Greek yoghurt.

Full fat Greek yoghurt. Because fat really does satiate. And I find Greek yoghurt less tart than natural yoghurt (maybe it’s just me, but it makes me feel like I’m eating thick cream…). Unlike its other dairy relatives, yoghurt is full of natural probiotic organisms = Good for the Gut!food fervour

I’ve made so many varieties in the past, but my favourite usually involves blueberries, banana, cacao in some form and a teensy bit of either maple syrup or coconut sugar (IF I even feel like I need added sweetness). Like this one I’ve just gobbled down tonight.

It’s too easy and too quick and these are two of my favourite things! Quick. and. Easy.

I sliced one banana, grabbed a handful of blueberries and plopped them in a bowl with 3 heaped dessertspoons of yoghurt. I scattered maybe a dessertspoon of cacao nibs over the top then drizzled about 1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup over it all. Bloody yum!

Vanilla Brazil Nut Cream

Mmmm, this stuff goood! I’ve only discovered nut creams recently (thanks to a fellow food blogger’s amazing creations) and they are ridiculously easy to make…why did it take me so long?!

This particular version is the one I used in the Cinnamon Buckwheat Pancakes I  suggested might make a great Mother’s Day breakfast treat. I’ve made a few varieties in the past, and the simplest way to enjoy them is with fresh fruit. I’ve used them as ‘dips’ at parties and smeared them on fruit for afternoon tea (see pic). food fervourWhat I haven’t yet tried is a savoury version (well, I AM a sweet tooth!)… apparently cashew nut cream is the best: I’ve seen it used to replace sour cream in mexican meals, for example.

Brazil nuts are another ‘cumbersome’ nut in that they don’t taste great and some people even object to their size (!) but again, they are extremely nutritious – right up there with the almonds and walnuts – so I usually opt for them for that reason.

My basic ratio for nut creams is 2:1, nuts to water. The amount of water simply varies the thickness of the cream. If you want ‘whipped’ cream – or a ‘spread’ –  use a little less water. Simple!Food Fervour

For this Vanilla Brazil Nut Cream I used:

1½ cups Brazil nuts (approx 220gms), ¾ cup water, 1 tspn natural vanilla essence, 6 drops stevia liquid

Pulverise the nuts in your blender (approx 20 seconds, Speed 7 for Thermies) to create meal, then add the remainder of ingredients and blend & scrape as many times as you feel you need to, to create the consistency you desire. I don’t mind my cream a little ‘grainy’ so I didn’t spend a heap of time on that.

Pop it in the fridge as soon as possible to prevent (slow down the process of) nut fat rancidity, unless you are ready to spread it on your pancakes!

NB: I have yet to make my own vanilla paste so I can ditch the processed sugar- & preservative- laden essence product AND I’ve read something recently about stevia NOT being as great a sugar substitute as we all thought (if I can find the article again I’ll post a link to it) so eventually (on my journey to ‘Re-sensitise my Taste Buds’) I’d like to drop all added sweeteners…