Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Tender roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas coated in spice come together in this salad with a sweet mustard dressing for a light seasonal dish with colour and flavour.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! I don’t have any leprechaun/whiskey/shamrock inspired treats to share with you today, but I do have a big green salad with potatoes. Well, they’re sweet potatoes, but just concede the point to me please. I woke up at 4.30 a.m. and wore my shirt inside out to the gym this morning and didn’t realise until I got home again. In other words, it’s Tuesday. Salad might not be a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day meal, but March in Queensland is most definitely not cabbage and corned meat weather (currently 29C/85F), and stew is still a foreign concept on the faraway winter horizon. Thus, I humbly offer you a sweet potato and spiced chickpea salad.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCubes of sweet potato are transformed into tender roasted morsels in the oven while the chickpeas get rolled with spices and crisped in olive oil on the stove top. Once they’ve both come to room temperature they unite with fresh baby spinach and thinly sliced onion before the whole salad meets sweet and spicy honey mustard dressing. I am not a huge fan of too-sweet honey mustard sauces, so this one packs a double mustard punch with both Dijon and wholegrain mustards and gets an extra flavour boost from a squeeze of lemon.

We enjoyed this as part of our family feast on Saturday night and I had leftovers for lunch for the next two days. I would recommend adding the dressing to each serving as you go so that the leaves don’t get too soggy. The salad holds up quite well for about three days as long as you keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you are looking for a fresh and light dinner tonight try this salad, I hear it tastes great with a generously buttered slice of Irish Soda Bread on the side and maybe some Irish Coffee Ice Cream for dessert?

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 4 as a light meal or 2 more substantially

Make it vegan: replace honey in dressing with maple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 750 grams / 1.6 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (400g) can chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion
  • 5 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Peel sweet potato and cut into large cubes (1.5cm cubed). Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bake until golden on the outside and soft in the middle. This should take about 30-40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Drain and rinse chickpeas and drain well to remove most of the water. Place on several layers of paper towel and pat dry. Allow the chickpeas to dry on towels for about 10 minutes.
  4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed fry pan over medium heat. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and stir well to coat. Fry chickpeas for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid them sticking and burning. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  5. Peel and thinly slice red onion and place in a large bowl with the baby spinach. Add chickpeas and sweet potato and toss well to combine.
  6. To make dressing: combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously to combine.
  7. Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Spiced Chickpea Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry

Recently I met a new friend at the wedding of two other new friends. This last weekend we all gathered in our newly-married mutual friend’s house sharing some wine and talking late into the night, really early into the next morning. This new friend is a busy professional woman and she often doesn’t get home until 8 o’clock at night! That doesn’t leave much time for making and eating dinner before falling into bed. Her dilemma got me thinking, after all, dinner is one of my three favourite meals of the day…

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I am lucky in my job that I get home after the gym most days with plenty of time to potter about the kitchen and make dinner for Chris and myself, but there are nights when I get caught up in something and don’t make it home until late. I feel like they become more common in autumn and winter as the days grow shorter and the night gathers her arms around us more quickly. I come home in the dark and still want the comfort of a home-cooked meal but I also want to be curled up on the couch with a book or watching television with Chris. Rather than pulling out the takeaway menu, or settling for beans on toast (which are a totally acceptable comfort food sometimes) I like to have some quick, healthy recipes on hand that I can throw together with barely a thought while I am catching up with Chris and trying to transition my brain from work mode to home mode.

This stir-fry is a recipe for one of those nights.

Anna, this one is also for you. (Thanks for reading my blog)

The chunky-cut mushrooms will provide B vitamins and minerals and fill you up without weighing you down. Easy-to-prepare rice noodles are my favourite way to imitate comforting takeaway without all the mystery ingredients and the sauce coats everything in a spicy sweet splendour. You can make this even easier by using pre-sliced mushrooms and broccoli, or even a stir-fry mix. From start to finish this meal takes about 20 minutes. I served Chris’s with some grilled lamb and mine in its original vegan state.

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Serves 2 with leftovers | Gluten free | Vegan

If you do not have Gourmet Garden Thai Stir-In Seasoning simply leave it out.

Ingredients

  • 250 gram packet dried rice noodles
  • 500 grams mushrooms (button, Swiss Brown or Cups are perfect)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • ½ head broccoli
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thai Stir-In Seasoning
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Prepare rice noodles as per instructions on packet.
  2. Chop mushrooms into quarters. Peel and thinly slice onion. Chop broccoli into florets. Slice capsicum into strips.
  3. Whisk together sriracha, brown sugar, soy sauce, Thai seasoning, and 2 tablespoons water.
  4. Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic and capsicum and cook stirring until onion just starts to turn opaque and mushrooms soften.
  6. Add broccoli and sauce and continue cooking until broccoli florets are al dente. This should take about 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat. Toss through fresh coriander. Serve with rice noodles.

Spicy Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup

The act of making soup in the middle of the week is a perfect relaxant, no drugs required. Even though a bowl of hearty nourishing soup can take just 45 minutes from chopping board to table you feel like you have accomplished a task that should have taken all day. We are just recovering from the shock of going back to work after two long weekends back-to-back – serendipitous events of the calendar happen every now and again – and that shock requires soothing, seemingly labour-intensive-but-not-really recipes to help us sink back into the rhythm of the week.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

When I saw this easy spicy carrot soup recipe while paging through a neglected cookbook that has now found itself shuffled over to the cottage by the bay I knew I had the perfect back-to-work dinner recipe. All the ingredients were in the cupboard already and I had only to chop and sauté for a few moments before I could leave the pot bubbling away merrily to itself. A shower and change out of my running clothes, and a welcome home kiss for Chris later and the soup was thick and ready to be ladled generously into bowls and be anointed with a final drizzle of coconut milk. In the dark of the night in our little house we slurped and dipped and nourished ourselves with conversation and spicy sweet soup. Every day is like a weekend when you share a meal with the one you love.

This Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup is thick and slightly chunky, layered with spices, and slightly sweetened by light coconut milk. It comes together in barely the time it takes to unpack the groceries. Once you have softened the onions and leeks you add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer away. Thirty minutes later you add the coconut milk, ladle the soup into your favourite bowls, and serve with an extra drizzle of coconut milk and maybe some toast (or bacon as Chris enjoyed his). Then, enjoy.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup

Adapted from Delicious: Home Cooking by Valli Little

Vegan. Gluten Free. Serves 4 generously.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks (white parts only), chopped
  •  5 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder (I used Keen’s)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and leek and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes until the onion is softened but not colouring.
  2. Add carrots, garlic, spices, tomato paste, lentils, and vegetable stock. Stir well.
  3. Bring soup to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. When the carrot is well softened and the tender red lentils have broken down the soup is ready. I mashed mine slightly with a potato masher, you can use a stick blender to purée to a smooth consistency, but I like my soup a little chunky and textured.
  5. Stir through coconut milk and ladle into bowls. Drizzle over extra coconut milk to serve.
  6. The leftovers will keep for 2 days covered in the refrigerator. Reheat well before eating.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Random Thoroughly Nourished Family story: When my mother was born the doctor thought she was jaundiced because she was orange all over; however, it turns out it was actually carotenaemia caused by my grandmother’s insatiable appetite for carrots while she was pregnant. Or so the family legend goes. The result of this incident is that my mother now refuses to eat any orange vegetables: pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots – anything that lies on the spectrum between red and yellow is not on her menu. Except pumpkin soup (secretly I think this is because it is an excuse to eat lots of bread and butter all in the name of ‘dipping’…this may be genetic…).

Quick Creamy Tomato Soup

As soon as I feel the slightest indication of rain or cooler, wetter weather moving in over our sun-bleached plains and golden crisp grass I insist on getting into comfort food cooking. I think I might have thrived somewhere that experiences four seasons. We get about two and a half here in Brisbane: Summer, not quite summer, and wint-eh (like winter but not quite as cold). On those days that there is a chill in the air, or the storm clouds start gathering on the horizon I take full advantage of the drop in temperature to make something that is only suitable when you can comfortably hold your face over a steaming bowl of something long enough to enjoy eating it.

Last week we had such an evening. I drove home beneath threatening skies with a hopeful thrum for rain beating in my heart. When I opened the door Dad was cooking something tomato-filled, spicy and hearty for himself and Mum – ‘Pork Creole’ he has since named it (I need to enlist his help with recipe names clearly).

Quick Creamy Tomato Soup

It seems Dad and I had the same idea. Something hearty and tomato-y was needed on such an evening. I pulled out the soup pot and started chopping, simmering, and taste testing.

I have made a tomato soup before. Something light and perfect for a summer night. This is heartier, richer, deeper and more satisfying. It has weight and heft from the lentils and potato, which also make it slightly creamy. It’s full of herbs both dried and fresh, and at the end you add a dollop of your favourite collection of antipasto things to give it a rich, salty, briny finish.

Perhaps one of the most perfect things about this soup is that you can make it in the dead of winter, with tinned-at-their-peak tomatoes, and recapture that late summer feeling all year long.

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Quick Creamy Tomato Soup (vegan, gluten free)

Serves 4

Note: I used a pre-made Italian herbs paste here because I have it on hand all the time and it’s a great way to supplement the herbs that come out of my garden. And it makes dinners quick!

My antipasto mix was from the supermarket deli and contained my favourites: semi dried tomatoes, green and black olives, and feta. Use your favourite, or simply top with a generous spoonful of grated cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium washed potato
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
  • ½ cup uncooked red lentils
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs paste 
  • 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ cup your favourite antipasto mix, for finishing

Method

  1. Peel and dice onion. Dice carrot, potato, and tomato.
  2. Heat oil in a medium size pot (I used a 4L soup pot) over medium heat.
  3. Add diced onion and carrot and sauté until onion is transparent. Stir in potato and tomato. Cook for about 4 minutes with the lid of the pot on.
  4. To the pot add peeled tomatoes, red lentils, tomato paste, vegetable stock, and dried thyme. Stir until well incorporated.
  5. Leave to simmer on a low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring a few times, or until the lentils and potato have broken down.
  6. Add Italian herbs, balsamic vinegar, and sugar and mix well.
  7. Remove from heat, and using a stick blender (bar mix thingy) blend soup until creamy. Be careful, the soup will be very hot!
  8. Ladle into bowls and top with scoops of antipasto.
  9. Serve with bread or, as I did, with crackers and a slice of sharp cheddar.

Quick Creamy Tomato Soup

This yields spectacular leftovers, and only gets better after a day or two in the fridge. Perfect for winter work lunches.

Tell me, dear reader, do you dive straight into the comfort foods as soon as the weather turns? I know some of my northern hemisphere friends are probably ready to send winter our way by now – what have you guys been cooking to keep warm?

Charred Corn, Capsicum, and Quinoa Salad

You need to make this salad. You need to make this salad because no one really wants another iceberg lettuce concoction on the buffet table at Christmas time (except the one your Aunty makes because it tastes just like it did when you were a kid). You need to make this salad because when you bring it to a party all spread out on a pretty white platter it looks so festive and everyone thinks you put in way more effort than you did. You need to make this salad because while you are making it you have time in between to shower, find your prettiest party dress, and put on some mascara and shiny earrings. You need to make this salad because between the sweet baked concoctions that abound at this time of year you need to eat something fresh and healthy and equally delicious.

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The mix of red and white quinoa is probably unnecessary, but it adds a festive touch, in my humble opinion, and the grilled capsicum and corn a sweet jewels hidden among salty fetta and deeply toasted almonds.

You need to make this salad because it will help you keep a healthy festive glow and keep you in fitting into your pretty party dress. And, it makes an acceptable midnight snack when you get in from a holiday party that went exceptionally well.

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Charred Corn, Capsicum, and Quinoa Salad (gluten free and vegetarian)

You can of course use 1 ½ cups total of either red or white quinoa instead of half and half. Serves 6-8 as a side dish. This salad will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white quinoa
  • ¾ cup red quinoa
  • 3 cups room temperature water
  • 1 teaspoon powdered vegetable stock (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 230 gram jar red pepper relish (I love this new one by Always Fresh)
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 3 cobs of corn
  • ¾ cup almonds
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 100 grams Greek-style Fetta
  • Olive oil spray

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

 Method

  1. Rinse quinoa and drain well. Place in a medium-size saucepan along with the water and powdered vegetable stock. Bring to the boil over medium heat then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Heat a grill plate to high and oil lightly with olive oil spray. Grill corn for 10 – 15 minutes turning regularly until the kernels have turned darker yellow in colour and there are charred spots. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly. Chop kernels off the cob and place in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, remove core from capsicum and cut into four large pieces. Place skin side down on grill with corn until the skin is blackened. Remove from grill and place in a plastic bag for 5 minutes before peeling off the skin. Slice into thick ribbons and add to the large bowl.
  4. Heat oven to 180C (356F) and spread almonds on a baking sheet, when the oven is heated toast almonds for 5 minutes. Remove and chop roughly and add to bowl.
  5. To the corn, capsicum, and almond mixture add the cooled quinoa, baby spinach leaves and red pepper relish. Mix carefully with two spoons. Use a lifting and fluffing motion.
  6. For the dressing: whisk together all ingredients and pour over the quinoa mixture.
  7. Spread out on a platter and crumble fetta over the top. Serve immediately.

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PS: You should also make these Spirit of the Season Blondies to take along to the party as well because, more is always more.

Garden Vegetable and Olive Pasta Bake (gluten free)

Reason number 40,598,235 why I love Chris: he loves pasta as much as I do. In fact, one of the first things I ever cooked for him was some sort of tomato and pasta dish. We ate it sitting cross-legged on his bed talking to each other, learning about each other, still fresh and new and unsure of where this was all going to lead. And now here we are on a Monday night still making pasta and sitting among tangled sheets; talking and laughing and debriefing about our day and making the most of every moment we have to be together.

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This pasta bake is perfect for those nights when you want to spend less time in the kitchen, and more time catching up with your family. You simply boil the pasta and at the same time make the sauce, then add the two together and leave it in the oven for half an hour. A half hour in which you could make a cup of tea for yourself and your loved one and de-stress, or play fetch with your dog, or even take a glorious nap (just remember to set your timer volume to loud!).

The resulting dish is satisfyingly dense with a sweet and savoury tomato flavour punctuated by the vegetables, which melt into one another during their time in the oven. I like using tinned cherry tomatoes because I love being surprised by a mouthful of baby tomato sometimes. If you aren’t a fan of olives you can leave them out, but they do add a certain umami flavour that banishes any Monday blues.

This pasta bake is great the next day too, which is perfect if you love leftovers after your Tuesday gym date (like Chris and I), or if you want something delicious for lunch that will make all your colleagues jealous.

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Gluten Free Tomato and Olive Pasta Bake (gluten free, vegetarian)

Serves 6. This is delicious accompanied by a large leafy salad (or meatballs if you are that way inclined). Be sure to only cook your pasta to al dente because it will continue to cook while it is in the oven, and you don’t want mushy pasta. A good guide for this is to choose the shortest cooking time suggested on the box/bag of pasta that you choose to use. I love the San Remo gluten free range because it tastes and feels like gluten-full pasta – and Chris likes it too.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams dried gluten free pasta
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 medium capsicum
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 x 400 gram tins cherry tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup black olives, sliced in half
  • ½ cup shredded cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (356F) and put a large saucepan of water on to boil. There should be enough water that your pasta will be able to float freely. I boil the kettle first and use this in the saucepan as it boils much faster.
  2. Once the water in the saucepan is boiling add your dried pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente (see notes above). Then drain well and set aside until needed.
  3. While the pasta is cooking finely dice the carrot, onion, celery and garlic. De-seed and thinly slice the capsicum.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add carrot, onion, celery and capsicum. Cook until the carrot has softened a little and the onion is translucent.
  5. Add garlic, herbs, tinned tomatoes, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Then turn the sauce to low and simmer for ten minutes. Add olives right at the end and stir to distribute.
  6. Combine pasta and sauce and spoon into a medium-size ovenproof dish. Sprinkle cheese on top and place in pre-heated oven.
  7. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Spoon out onto plates and serve with tossed green salad.

 

Paprika Chicken (or Chickpea) Stuffed Capsicums

I am not going to lie to you. Most nights there are two meals cooked in my kitchen: one for the omnivores and one for me.

Sometimes I cobble together something out of parts of their meal, but most of the time I make something completely separate.

While I don’t mind this sometimes – omnivores gotta have their chicken wings and ribs after all – I really miss the act of making something that we can all eat and then sharing the same meal when we come to the table.

As part of my renewed commitment to focussing on whole-food vegetarian-friendly recipes I really want to start making meals that we can all enjoy: Vegetarian and omnivore alike – one meal with two little twists to suit both appetites.

I personally like thinking of these posts as Nourished Me, Nourished You. Perhaps a little too ABBA? Let me know. If you have a better title for it, then I will gladly adopt the moniker.

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Mum and I found bags of capsicums at a ridiculously great price at our farmer’s market on the weekend. The sweet red veggies were begging for more than just being a second thought in a casserole or a crunchy addition to a salad. They demanded to be the statement piece. Now, I know I have proffered a stuffed capsicum recipe before, but it is rather simple, and to be honest while it is a lovely side dish it doesn’t have that much punch. These capsicums are stuffed with either chicken or chickpeas that have been simmered in a tomato and paprika (see, more capsicum) sauce and then topped with cheese. So much savoury smoky flavour. I served ours alongside some rice and sweet early summer corn. Now, you do use two different pots here for cooking the chicken and chickpeas, but after that it’s very simple and everything goes into the oven while you set the table (or put your feet up and make someone else set the table…).

Capsicum 1

Paprika Chicken (or Chickpea) Stuffed Capsicums (gluten free, vegetarian option)

Choose capsicums that have tight, shiny looking skin without any soft spots. You can of course cut of the little green stalk before you stuff them, but I think they just look so pretty on the plate as they are. If you are catering for all omnivores, just leave out the chickpeas and proceed with the whole amount of spices, tomato puree and cheese and increase the chicken breast to 500 grams. If you are cooking for all vegetarians, leave out the chicken, and proceed as above with two 400 gram tins of chickpeas. This dish is lovely with rice, pasta, or mashed potato, or a salad for a light meal. These capsicums are also excellent for lunch the next day.

 Ingredients

  • 4 medium red capsicums
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 350 grams chicken breast
  • 400 gram tin of chickpeas
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 400 gram tin tomato puree
  • 2/3 cup (packed) grated cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (390F) and pull out a large oven-proof baking dish and a small and medium saucepan.
  2. Cut capsicums in half and remove seeds and membranes. Place capsicums in the oven-proof dish hollow side up and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside until needed.
  3. While the capsicums are roasting, finely dice onion, carrots, celery and zucchini. Set aside. Then finely dice chicken breast and leave on board until required.
  4. Warm the olive oil in the medium saucepan over medium heat and gently sauté diced vegetables until the onion is translucent.
  5. Remove 2/3 cup of sautéed vegetables and place in the small saucepan. Add drained, well-rinsed chickpeas, 1/3 cup of tomato puree, and ½ teaspoon each of paprika and dried thyme. Warm over medium-low heat until the sauce begins to bubble.
  6. Add diced chicken to the medium saucepan and cook until chicken is white all the way through. Add remaining tomato puree, paprika, and thyme.
  7. Once the chickpea and chicken mixtures are both completed you are ready to fill the capsicums. This mixture will make two capsicum halves filled with chickpeas and four halves filled with chicken. Sprinkle all capsicums with cheese and place tray bake into oven for another 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and serve right away.
  9. Enjoy with your choice of sides.

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A Simple Bowl of Millet and Spiced Vegetables, and Thoughts

Welcome friends, can I speak a little about something that has been bothering me? Thank you.

Lately, I feel like I haven’t been doing justice to this little space I love so much. I haven’t been tending the seedling that is my Thoroughly Nourished Life address with as much care and discretion as I possibly could. When I first began writing here I promised wholefood vegetarian recipes, sweet treats (with a focus on gluten-free), active living, and fuel for the mind. I feel that I have wandered a little off course, and I want to right the ship a little. I have piles of cookbooks that I have bought and never cooked from, cooking and bake ware that still have the price tags attached, and notebooks full of ideas, but something keeps holding me back. No longer. This is my renewed commitment to Thoroughly Nourished Life. To whole foods, fitness adventures, books, articles, and ice cream (I bought an ice cream maker recently – and it is pink!) – here is to sharing it all with you.

I want this space to grow from this tender beginning into something more. I want to reach out to others in the vast void in which our digital lives take place and make a real connection. I want Thoroughly Nourished Life to mean something to people, and give something back to all who grace me with their presence here. I want the words I write and recipes I share to contribute to the bounty available to us all here on the world wide web. In the realm of food blogs I stand in the shadow of giants, and they in the shadows of titans. Rather than being intimidated by their power and influence I am inspired to find my own little niche. I want to contribute my unique Australian-vegetarian-gluten-free-baker-runner-over-thinking voice to the chorus of glorious blogging voices that sing through the windy online halls.

I want to bring joy to your tables; highlight the extraordinary in the everyday; start a conversation about how we nourish ourselves mind, body, and soul in this crazy modern world; share adventures and yummy sweets; and above all be authentic.

So, today, I renew my promise, I refocus my aims for this little corner of the online world, and commit to living a Thoroughly Nourished Life online and off.

Last night while all of these thoughts circled in my head I needed something grounding in my belly. I bought a bag of millet on the weekend and, once cooked with care in some vegetable broth, this gluten free grain was a creamy and comforting accompaniment to vegetables sautéed in some of my favourite spices.

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A Simple Bowl of Millet and Spiced Vegetables

Serves 2.

When I was cooking my millet I found these instructions from The Kitchn very helpful to read before I started. I enjoyed this meal by itself, but I can’t wait to try it with a poached egg balanced on top and sprinkled with a little extra sumac.

 Ingredients

  • ½ cup uncooked millet
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 medium purple onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • ½ medium red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 5 sundried tomatoes (oil-packed)
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sumac
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

 Method

  1. Combine uncooked millet and vegetable stock in a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat with the lid on the pot, and simmer until millet is tender (about 25 minutes).
  2. While the millet is cooking dice purple onion and sundried tomatoes, and thinly slice zucchini and red capsicum.
  3. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and spray with olive oil.
  4. Add chopped vegetables, spices, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Sprinkle over sesame seeds and stir gently. Cook for another minute or two.
  6. Once the millet is cooked (all the liquid should be absorbed by this stage) add to sautéed vegetables and stir to combine.
  7. Spoon into two bowls and enjoy.

Thank you my friends for letting me get this off my chest. There may be some changes here as I figure out how to live up to my goals for Thoroughly Nourished Life, and please let me know if there is anything you would like to see more of.

x Amy.

Okonomiyaki for One and Road Trip Excitement!

This weekend Chris and I are heading up the coast for the long weekend, and I for one am looking forward to doing these three things: one – a walk on the beach; two – drinking a glass of white wine at lunch time; and three – sleeping in on Monday morning. All week long thoughts of standing barefoot on the sand with cool spring waves ticking my feet have sustained me through meetings and the fever of office-moving activity. So on Friday night, instead of thinking of my commute home, I will get in the car, kick off my shoes and crank the radio while my darling and I hit the highway and make a getaway for the Sunshine Coast. I don’t care that Friday freeway traffic is hideous because at the end of that black tarmac is a little house by the water with a light on just for us, and I will be travelling the road with my favourite companion.

 

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Now, enough about my excitement over the long weekend, and let’s get onto this recipe. Yesterday, while in a particularly long meeting with lots of old men in suits, I kept fantasising about something delicious for dinner, something that tasted naughty but wasn’t, and that could be prepared quickly after my evening run so that I could spend more time reading and lying on the couch serenading Mum and Chris with my own lyrics (just make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh…). The perfect cure for my quick-and-naughty-but-nice craving was okonomyaki, or really as close to it as I could make. Okonomiyaki are Japanese savoury pancakes whose fillings vary by region (or so Wikipedia says). My okonomiyaki are filled with pre-shredded vegetables and made with buckwheat flour and a touch of sesame oil and soy sauce, then topped with a cucumber and sesame seed salad.

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This recipe makes the perfect amount for one, but I imagine it is quite easily doubled or tripled. I have even used this to make smaller okonomiyaki as appetisers for a dinner party. This is the perfect dinner to make on those nights when you want to pack in the vegetables, but still think you’re eating something a little naughty. In fact, perfect for pre-long weekend swimsuit eating! (Or, for a Monday long weekend brunch!)

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Okonomiyaki for One

Serves One, but easily doubled. This is the gluten free version, but you can use wheat flour if not catering for those with allergies. I have recently been head-over-heels for Woolworths ‘Shredded Rainbow Salad’ and it makes this meal so easy to prepare. I also used Kewpie brand mayonnaise, which I fell in love with at my local sushi train. 

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce (check that it’s gluten free)
  • 2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup (packed) pre-shredded salad vegetables (without any dressing)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Asian mayonnaise to serve

Method

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, cold water, sesame oil and one teaspoon of soy sauce. Whisk in the buckwheat flour until there are no lumps.
  2. Add diced onion and pre-shredded salad and mix until the batter covers all the vegetables.
  3. Heat a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat and spray with a little cooking oil. Spoon all the mixture into the frying pan and spread out to an even thickness.
  4. Cover pan with a lid and cook for 3-5 minutes. Flip over and cook for 3-5 minutes on the other side. I have found the easiest way to flip the okonomiyaki is to slide it out onto a dinner plate, cover the plate with the over-turned frying pan and flip the uncooked side onto the pan.
  5. While the pancake is cooking slice the cucumber on an angle and then slice the slices so that you have cucumber matchsticks. Mix cucumber with remaining one teaspoon soy sauce and the sesame seeds.
  6. Place okonomiyaki onto plate, top with cucumber salad and drizzle mayonnaise across the top.
  7. Enjoy.

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I have found the best thing for keeping a body going while driving long distances is a well-selected playlist. I am usually a podcast girl, but to get in the mood for a relaxing beach weekend here are my picks.

I hope you all have a lovely long weekend! Any recommendations for my road trip play list?