After the first couple of weeks of summer being a total let down of rain and jumper weather, Sydney has finally been slapped in the face by the summer we know and love! High-30-degrees and sunshine!
The summer weather always makes me crave seafood, so over the weekend when I was planning a quick casual dinner for an impromptu catch up with friends, I decided to do a super easy, low fuss but totally delicious take on the Prawn Cocktail (or Shrimp Cocktail for all my Northern Hemisphere mates).
fresh prawns (I use large Australian Tiger Prawns); 3-4 per person
iceberg or cos lettuce, shredded
fresh dill, roughly chopped
fresh avocado; quarter per person, sliced evenly
cocktail sauce; I use store bought but there are some good recipes out there if you prefer to create it yourself
layer lettuce, avocado, prawns & sprinkle of dill in a pretty formation in your fave cup, glass or bowl
a quick week night dinner using veggies from my weekend market bag
start with your choice of fish (I’ve used Australian wild snapper), a lemon, fresh herbs (I’ve used parsley, coriander & fresh turmeric), olive oil, salt & pepper
place a bed of sliced lemon and herbs on a sheet of foil, lay fish fillet on top, scatter salt, pepper and grated turmeric and drizzle olive oil.
fold foil into a pretty parcel and cook in a preheated oven (180 degrees Celsius) for 15-20 minutes.
serve with your choice of veggies or salad. i served tonight’s dinner with a selection of veggies sautéed in sesame oil (green beans, mushrooms, asparagus, red onion, radicchio & topped with orange segments)
A year ago, if someone had suggested that I “quit sugar” I would have literally dropped to the floor and rolled around laughing. Me, the eat-a-full-bag-of-gummy-bears-maybe-two-in-one-sitting, quit sugar? Yeah right! But after reading Sweet Poison and being kinda obsessed with Sarah Wilson’s blog and books and instagram for a while, I thought it made complete sense to join her I Quit Sugar (#IQS) 8 week program (#IQS8WP) when it came on offer. When I say sugar I mean fructose. The evil stuff that effects and is processed bio-chemically the same in your body whether its from a can of Coke, a handful of peanut M&Ms or from fruit.
So, how’s it going? you might ask….
Piece of cake, well not literally of course, is what I thought when I read the weekly newsletter that included all the details for the first week ahead; meal plan, shopping list and big Sunday cook-up. It actually was really enjoyable to have someone else plan out the week’s meals and they were damn good! I can’t begin to describe how delicious the Paleo Inside-Out Bread is. The Sunday Cook-Up was fun! So much food that I had to set up guard to save Jay eating it all! And the aromas wafting out of my kitchen…think whole roasted chicken, pumpkin & sweet potato puree, 2 loaves of paleo bread and paleo muesli.
The instructions were to gently & gradually wean myself from the sweet stuff; ditch sugar in my coffee (1 point for Melly; I dont take sugar in my coffee), eat a piece of whole fruit instead of drinking a glass of juice (1 point for Melly; I generally dont drink fruit juice unless Jay’s BFF comes to stay in which case I buy almost every version of expensive juice under the sun because that’s our Husbands-BFF-and-wife thing) and opt for whole-fat dairy instead of skim because manufacturers add sugar to low-fat dairy to create the same full-fat flavour. I know. Bastards! (0 points for Melly but ditching the skim I would go!).
This is where it got interesting. (1) No fruit for 4 weeks! To baseline our no-sugar-bodies so that we can reintroduce later. (2) Make better alcohol choices ie: a glass of red instead of my precious sparkling (WTF?!) and strictly no fizzy drink mixers like Coke or Lemonade (no issue there, yuck!) or dessert wine, which actually was harder to ignore than I expected as I went out to dinner with friends and they all shared a really nice, expensive bottle of champers AND dessert wine. Dammit.
But my face looked thinner and I felt less bloated. And the paleo muesli….oh the paleo muesli…..
Okay. So I might have had a little slip. Maybe a big slip. My darling best male friends, King & Dobbo, have been feeling a little stressed about our upcoming separation from them (you’d think we were moving countries and not just a little apartment move 15 minutes away), so they’ve been saturating themselves in our company. We had a Friday night out dancing (champagne), Saturday dinner out (more champagne and I may have had a scoop of icecream floating in a shot of Frangelico), mid-week dinner at their place to help them choose a feature wall paint colour (yet more champagne, this time a fancy bottle of Perrier-Jouët that they had been saving to give me on my birthday in October) and then breakfast on Sunday which was more like brunch which involved a brioche beef burger. Grains AND sugar. Save me Jebus.
That gets us to Week 4…
Today, quite literally, I would murder my own grandmother for a giant gummy python. Let’s put it down to me coming off an epic crash from last week and the fact that week 4 includes a 5-day detox from all that is good in the world ie: no fruit, coffee, alcohol, grains, and did I mention no coffee??? Did I also mention that today is Day 1 of Week 4? Did I mention no coffee or alcohol? Oh, how will I survive…
On the upside, this is what I had for breakfast – jealous?
So, this week, amongst the stress of packing, moving, going to my night course and preparing for some upcoming weekend project changes, I will be getting back on track. No grains (yay for Happy Paleo Melly!), no caffeine, no fructose & no debauchery of any kind.
Remember my New Years Resolution? Well it’s now March and I’m finding general life & eating fairly easy with the paleo way, however, I have noticed a few too many paleo treats creeping in and portion sizes creeping up, so I’m reading and listening to podcasts to realign myself. I have also let my regular intense exercise regime slip; mostly due to my ankle injury flaring up a bit but also because I’ve just been a little slack.
For my final post of A Week of Health & Fitness I’m going to share with you two of my favourite healthy meals.
Pea & Ham Soup
I have to admit to you that before I made this soup a couple of weeks ago, I had never eaten Pea & Ham soup! The idea of copious amounts of peas disturbs me; I’m not a fan of peas. But after my friend Mands bought in a delightful smelling pea & ham soup for lunch at work one day, I went searching for a recipe and found the most delicious, gourmet looking soup (above) from Gourmet Traveller. It makes 6 serves which freeze really well.
40 gm butter, coarsely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 ham hocks (about 800gm each)
750 gm dried green split peas
360 gm (3 cups) frozen baby green peas, defrosted
60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
1 baguette, halved lengthways and cut into 5cm pieces
60 gm softened butter
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp thyme
½ garlic clove, finely chopped
Heat butter in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (10-12 minutes). Add ham hocks, cover with cold water (about 4 litres), bring to the simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until ham is falling from the bone (1-1½ hours). Remove hocks from saucepan, set aside to cool and, when cool enough to handle, remove skin and bone (discard), coarsely shred meat and set aside.
Meanwhile, add split green peas to stock and simmer until very tender (45 minutes-1 hour). Add baby peas (reserve some for garnish if desired) and simmer until bright green (1-2 minutes). Purée in batches in a blender until smooth, add shredded ham to soup (reserve a little for garnish if desired), season to taste and keep warm.
Meanwhile, for herb butter, combine ingredients in a small bowl, season to taste and set aside.
Preheat a grill to high. Place baguette cut-side up on a baking tray and grill until golden (1-2 minutes each side), then spread with herb butter. Serve with hot soup topped with reserved baby peas (steamed until bright green) and shredded ham.
Roast Trout with Fennel & Orange
Apologies for the lousy photo quality. This was from my Instagram feed a few months ago. I can’t even remember how I came up with this salad. It doesn’t really matter how, it just matters that it’s damn tasty!
I generally just adapt the quantity of the ingredients by how many people I’m feeding. You’ll get the hang of it!
Roast trout (I buy it from the store already roasted and cold in a whole fillet side); flaked
radishes, sliced finely (I use a mandolin)
fennel; sliced finely (I use a mandolin)
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup orange juice
salt & pepper to taste
To make the dressing mix all ingredients well and set aside
Assemble all salad ingredients by layering; fennel, radish, trout, orange, mint & coriander
The saying goes that 80% of abs are made in the kitchen. This means that after all the hard workouts if your diet isn’t clean the majority of the time you ain’t gonna see no results! (preach)
In a world of supplements and quick fix powders & shakes, what we really should be packing our body with is superfoods; foods that are nature’s dynamite and pack a large variety of nutrients into a small natural product. E.G. kale.
I love to start my day off with a greensmoothie.
I remember the very first one Jay made for me apon getting our Vitamix. The taste was very green. Like eating grass! And a little thick which made swallowing that more difficult but after a few more tries & tweaks it became addictive. You feel healthy drinking it.
So I wanted to share a few of my Instagram photos of my green smoothies and give you some guidance and ideas for making your own.
Note that you don’t have to have a Vitamix to create gorgeous green but you will need to blend the hell out of it to get a good smooth consistency.
People at work do look at me funny when I’m carrying around my ‘to go’ bottle of the green stuff!
My go-to ingredients are:
– coconut water
– apple or pear
– flaxseed or chia seed
– water to get consistency as required
But here are some other ideas I found via Pinterest (aaaah Pinterest!).
I primarily use it to make green smoothies, as a side veggie for dinner (think sauteed kale & mushrooms) or in my scrambled eggs/omelette for brekkie.
But I’ve found a new use! Kale & Walnut Pesto; totally paleo friendly and great with grilled/steamed fish or chicken. Yum!!! Adapted from a recipe found [here]
Kale & Walnut Pesto
½ cup plain/raw, roughly chopped walnuts (or nuts of your choice like blanched almonds or macadamias)
1 garlic clove, smashed
about 3 cups chopped kale
1 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup grated sheep or goats hard cheese (or Parmesan cheese for those not inclined to the sheep or goat variety)
½ – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil or macadamia nut oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add nuts and stir constantly (or gently shake pan) until toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let the nuts cool.
Pulse garlic clove in food processor until it is chopped finely, about 30 seconds. Add kale, toasted nuts & cheese and pulse until chopped. You may have to stop the food processor, open the top, and push the kale down toward the blades.
With the food processor running on low, add olive oil in a steady stream until you get the consistency you want. I used just over 1/2 a cup of macadamia oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper (about 1½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper).