Sweet Potato and Cottage Cheese Fritters (gluten free)

I wanted the first recipe of 2014 to be something healthy, something nourishing, something wholesome. Don’t get me wrong, I have been eating cookies and lollies like a madwoman – the evil of proximity to deliciousness, but now is the time to reign things in a little and focus on eating more of nature’s goodness and less of the buttery, sugary goodness that sometimes takes over my plate. I have been filling my lunch bowl with greens and beans until it overflows, snacking on apples while reading stretched out on my parent’s couch, eating carrots by the bag, and treating myself to sweet and plump dried apricots and prunes before bedtime. When it comes to dinner though, sometimes I need something a little more hearty than a salad.

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These sweet potato and cottage cheese fritters are plump and chewy and spiced with cumin and coriander and paprika. They are high in protein (from the cottage cheese and the egg) and provide a decent amount of vitamin A and complex carbohydrates (from the sweet potato and the whole grain flours used). Most importantly they are high on flavour too. I served mine with a salad and on one night a drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise. They would also be excellent with a poached or fried egg, and if you are being a little naughty (and are not a vegetarian) a few slices of bacon are always welcome with a plate of fritters. They heat up well and make great lunch box snacks (just make them a little smaller than these ones) for back to school and back to work.

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Sweet Potato and Cottage Cheese Fritters (gluten free, vegetarian)

Note: If you do not require these to be gluten free, simply replace the buckwheat and rice flours with a total of 1/2 cup of wholemeal plain flour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
  • 1 small brown onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • Pinch each of salt and pepper

Method:

  1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together cumin seeds, coriander seeds, paprika, baking powder, buckwheat flour, rice flour and salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together cottage cheese, milk and egg.
  3. Add cottage cheese mixture to dry ingredients and beat together. Then add grated sweet potato and onion and stir until well combined.
  4. Heat a non-stick frypan over medium heat, and grease with a little spray cooking oil.
  5. Spoon about 1/3 cup of batter onto the pan for each fritter. Cook until golden brown. This will be about 2- 2.5 minutes per side. Remove from pan to a covered plate to keep warm while you cook the remaining batter.

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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.

Lunchbox Love: Blueberry, Chickpea, and Kale Salad

Warm summer days with plenty of sunshine means tables laden with produce every Saturday at the farmer’s markets. Which, naturally, means that I am enticed into buying beautiful vegetables that I don’t necessarily always cook with, or know how to get creative with.

Wandering through the colourful stalls last weekend I picked up a thick curly bunch of kale.

Oh kale, purveyor of so much healthy goodness. Held up and praised for its anti-cancer potential, high levels of calcium, flavonoids, fibre, and vitamins C, D, and K – and most importantly for me: high levels of iron.

A well-balanced vegetarian diet can provide the daily requirement for iron, but if you have funky blood like I do, which doesn’t absorb iron really well, you need to pay special attention to getting as much iron in your diet as possible.

Iron from vegetable sources (called non-haem iron) is helped in its absorption by pairing it with a source of Vitamin C – the technical term is ‘increasing bioavailabilty’. Fancy nutrition stuff, huh.

So, I may know about kale’s deep green secrets, but when it comes to inspiration for getting it from my fridge to my belly I need to consult one of my favourite bloggers.

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Today’s salad was inspired by Tracy from Shutterbean. Tracy lives in San Francisco (my favourite place in the world), takes awesome photos, makes my favourite listen-to-while-running podcast (with her cool best friend), and conjures up amazing food for her family. I have been inspired by (in no particular order) Tracy’s baked donuts, her Instagram feed, and her tasty salads.

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Tracy knows how to wrangle kale from pretty flower looking stalks into delicious, moreish recipes. So when I was looking for some Lunchbox Love this week, I was inspired by Tracey’s Broccoli Kale Slaw, which become the Thoroughly Nourished Life Blueberry, Chickpea, and Kale Salad.

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Blueberry Chickpea Kale Salad (gluten free, vegetarian)

Inspired by Tracey’s Broccoli Kale Slaw from Shutterbean

Serves 4 and keeps quite well for 3 days in the refrigerator. I made this at the beginning of the week and had a delicious, healthy packed lunch all week long. You will need a very large bowl for mixing this salad. This salad can be made vegan too. Just leave out honey, or replace with maple syrup or agave nectar. If you can’t find dried blueberries, you can use dried cranberries instead. I found my blueberries at a health food store.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 250 gram bag rainbow salad (also called ‘beetroot slaw’)
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale
  • 2 spring onion stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 x 400 gram tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Method

  1. Empty rainbow salad into your very large mixing bowl. Add finely chopped kale, spring onions, blueberries, and sunflower seeds.
  2. Add well rinsed chickpeas and using salad servers (or freshly washed hands) toss salad to disperse all ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper.
  4. Add dressing to bowl and toss very well so that everything is coated in dressing.
  5. Serve, or divide between airtight containers and store in refrigerator for up to three days.

See – healthy lunches can be quick and easy! Come and be part of my cool lunch crowd, won’t you?

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…).

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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.