Lunchtime Vegetable Pasta Bake

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Lunchtime Vegetable Pasta Bake

Lunchtime Vegetable Pasta Bake

For the first time in a very long time I am working a 9-to-5 job. I worked like this years ago, back in the days when I barely knew what balanced life was left alone balanced nutrition. Now I am older and wiser (and far more sensitive to what goes in my body), I have been putting in the time and effort to make sure I meal prep a nutritious lunch meal that keeps me fuelled as well as keeps my body feeling good. 

My number one criteria is ensuring I am hitting my protein needs. Without it, I slink off inside my head at around 2:30pm and don't come back to the desk mentally for the rest of the day. That said, it doesn't mean I completely discount carbohydrates as your brain and body need carbohydrates to maintain good mental output and concentration. The carbohydrates I do include I make sure are from sources that offer complex, slow-release energy instead of the quick-hitting stuff and I try to get my carbs mostly from whole food sources. On top of those two key components, I make sure I am getting vegetables in to hit my 'five a day' as this is regularly missed in meals I don't have as much control of. So, to hit top marks on all three criteria, this pasta bake has been created- high in protein, rich in complex carbs and full of vegetables (three types!) with an optional extra of greens on top. 

One serve of this bake gives you 25 grams of protein as well as a good hit of complex carbohydrates from the pasta and sweet potato. I try and use a pasta made from spelt, corn, quinoa or lentils to make sure it is as low GI and high in protein as possible. I also ensure the vegetables far outweigh the pasta with a ratio of 5:1 making it more of a vegetable bake than a pasta one. This way I can be sure I am getting plenty of vegetables in and not just loading up on pasta. Once baked, it serves me four to five times depending on how hungry I am or what I have to do that day. Once re-heated, I always top it with fresh leaves such as roquette or baby spinach, a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar to make it the perfectly balanced meal of protein, complex carbs, vegetables, greens and healthy fats. 


makes 4-5 lunches

Lunchtime Vegetable Pasta Bake  

500g zucchini, cut into 2cm chunks 

300g eggplant, cut into 2cm chunks 

200g sweet potato, cut into 2cm chunks 

1tsp smoked paprika 

Salt and pepper 

200g small shaped pasta such as macaroni or penne, use gluten-free if needed

2 eggs, lightly whisked 

250g whole-milk cottage cheese 

2tbsp pesto (jar or homemade) 

Grated vegetarian parmesan, as topping  

Optional extras

Once reheated, you can top your lunch with some of the following:

Fresh roquette leaves, baby spinach leaves, olive oil and apple cider vinegar, pumpkin seeds, fresh avocado slices

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 200 degrees (celsius). Toss the chopped up vegetables in olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and spread them evenly out on an oven tray. Place in the oven to bake for 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and going golden. 

  2. While the vegetables are baking, cook your pasta as per the instructions on the package. Once cooked through, drain the pasta and set aside. Then, combine the eggs, cottage cheese and pesto in a large mixing bowl and also set aside. 

  3. Once the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and turn the oven down to 180 degrees. Add the cooked pasta and the baked vegetables into the mixing bowl of eggs and cheese and toss together until everything is evenly coated in the egg mixture. Season if required and then pour the mixture into a large baking tray or pan, sprinkle over some grated parmesan and place back in the oven to bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

  4. Remove the bake from the oven and allow it to cool completely before cutting it up into four or five evenly sized pieces. Package them up into tupperware to grab and go during the week. 

Storage

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Notes

You can substitute vegetables for ones you prefer or are available in your area's season. Just aim for around one kilogram of vegetables and ensure at least one of them is high in starch such as potatoes or sweet potato. 


Lunch vegetable pasta bake 3

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Spicy Tofu Miso Cups

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Spicy Tofu Miso Cups

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Overindulged during the Silly Season? Now is the time to pair back your diet and get your systems back on track with easy-to-digest, wholesome and healthy food. Eating a diet rich in whole foods that is plant-based and gluten free will help your system detoxify, reset and rejuvenate. 

This recipe is a light and quick meal which is packed full of protein and gut-loving probiotics. Not only that, it tastes like it shouldn’t be good for you with a rich and luscious spicy sauce that coats the tofu and will have you coming back for more. Tofu is one of the best plant-based sources of protein and it provides all the essential amino acids your body needs whilst being low in fat and high in fibre making it the perfect food for when you’re resetting your system. And the miso, a fermented soybean paste from Japan, is a probiotic-rich food perfect for reintroducing good bacteria to the digestive tract after the upheaval that may have been caused from common festive activities including alcohol consumption and eating rich or sugary foods. 

With both your liver and digestion getting some loving, this recipe is the perfect way to treat yourself post-Christmas.

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Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian

Makes around 10 cups, depending on the size of your lettuce

Tofu Cups

500g extra firm organic tofu, drained and cut into 1cm cubes 

2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil  

 

A whole iceberg, cos or butter lettuce  

Spring onions, tops discarded  

Fresh red chilli 

Sesame seeds, black or white  

Spicy Miso Sauce  

2 tbsp organic gluten-free white miso paste  

¼ cup hulled tahini  

1 tbsp maple syrup or honey  

2 tbsp sriracha hot sauce or other chilli sauce  

1 tbsp tamari 

1 tspn sesame oil  

1 tspn rice wine vinegar 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

½ tbsp fresh ginger, grated 

3-4 tbsp water

 

Instructions

  1. Prepare your lettuce by breaking it apart into cups, gently washing each cup if needed and arranging them on a plate ready to be filled. Thinly slice the spring onion and fresh chilli for garnishing and have your sesame seeds ready to go to sprinkle on top.  

  2. In a food processor or blender, blitz together the sauce ingredients excluding the water until everything comes together as a smooth paste. Then add the water, one tablespoon at a time until the sauce is loose enough to pour. Set aside.  

  3. To cook your tofu, heat the oil in a medium-sized fry pan on the stove over a high heat. Add the tofu cubes, frying them for 5 minutes and turning them throughout until each side is golden and crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sauce to the pan, tossing until everything is well coated in the sauce and it starts to smell fragrant. If you need to add another one or two tablespoons of water to loosen the sauce again, you can.  

  4. Divide the sauced tofu across the lettuce cups, garnish with spring onion, chilli and sesame seeds and enjoy immediately!  



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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Carrot and Chia Cupcakes

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Carrot and Chia Cupcakes

Please the little ones with a bite-size treat loaded with nourishing ingredients including hidden vegetables they won’t take a second glance at. These carrot and chia cupcakes provide your children with fibre, omega 3 healthy fats and iron as well as a little bit of happiness which all our little ones deserve. These cupcakes are the healthy treat they’ve been asking for. 

Fibre is important when it comes to treats. Sweet foods with a high fibre content mean the sugar contained in them is digested more slowly and absorbed into the blood stream at the same pace. This is good for little ones to maintain their energy levels and reduce the peaks and dips that can often be caused by processed, sugary treats. The sweet flavour they want is still there but it’s better for them in the long run. The use of wholemeal self-raising flour combined with regular self-raising flour provides a mix of fibre as well as the chia seeds, carrot and dried fruits. 

Getting good fats into little ones can be difficult as they don’t tend to enjoy the foods that contain them like oily fish and nuts and seeds. Sneaking them in to their foods means they don’t have to worry and you can ensure you are giving them the nutrition they need. Chia seeds are rich in omega 3 fats which provide building blocks for growing kids and their overall health including their brain and eye function. 

Iron is another nutrient that is so important to your little one’s development. Iron helps create haemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that delivers oxygen to all the organs in the body. This is process is particularly important during periods of growth and your little one’s demand for iron is higher. These cupcakes contain iron-rich ingredients including chia seeds, sultanas and wholemeal flour. 

Carrots, the sneaky hidden vegetable, are also rich in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that can help your little one’s eyes and vision as well as their immune system function. Honey and orange juice provide these cakes with a natural source of sweetness and the additional spices, zest and vanilla warm these cupcakes up to make them a tasty, softly sweet and moorish treat.


recipe originally created for Blackmores

makes 24 mini cupcakes

Cream Cheese Icing  

250g cream cheese, at room temperature 

2 tbs honey 

1 tsp vanilla 

Chia seeds and orange zest to top

Cupcakes

1 orange, zest and juice 

1/3 cup (50g) mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants, raisins)

2 medium carrots (around 150g), peeled and grated 

2 eggs 

100ml olive oil or rapeseed oil 

2 tbs honey or maple syrup

2/3 cup (85g) wholemeal self-raising flour 

2/3 cup (85g) plain self-raising flour 

3 heaped tbs chia seeds 

1 tsp bicarb soda 

1 tsp cinnamon 

1/2 tsp nutmeg 

a pinch of salt



Comment

Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Kale and Caramelised Onion Pizza Breads

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Kale and Caramelised Onion Pizza Breads

Dipping bread in soup is a well-loved activity so what not make it even more interesting with a batch of kale and caramelised onion pizza breads to dunk in your bowl. 

The idea was born when cauliflower soup was on the menu. There's nothing wrong with straight cauliflower soup and straight buttered bread but with a desire to make things a little more interesting and a box full of greens from Corrigan's, these pizza breads were born and they turned into the most delicious dipper I've had in a long time. 

A few notes about the pizza breads - make sure you make them slightly thicker than you would a thin crust pizza. This is because they can get quite crunchy and dry if you make them too thin and cook them too long. You want them to be still a little bread-like but mostly pizza-ish. If you feel like they are going to be too dry, some extra cheese should help as well as longer soaking time when you drop it in your soup. The cheese on top is vital. The photos don't show you how much more cheese was added to this batch but you need to add enough to stop the kale from getting all the heat in the oven. It won't ruin your day if it happens, but the kale will turn more into chips and less like sautéed kale if it's not covered enough which for some you, might be what you want. 

There are a couple of other cooking hints listed down the bottom of the recipe if you're interested but otherwise, get dough making and enjoy something a little more nutritious and enticing to dunk into your next bowl of hot soup. 


makes 6 flat breads

INGREDIENTS

1 batch of pizza dough (I use the Thermomix recipe but you could try this recipe too

1 small bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper

3 cups vegan or mozzarella cheese, grated

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat your oven to 225 degrees celsius (or as high as your oven can go) and line a large baking tray with baking paper 

2. In a fry pan over a medium heat, heat the coconut oil then add the onion cooking it for around 8 minutes until it is soft, sweet and slightly browning 

3. Add the kale leaves, stirring them around for around 5 minutes or until they are wilted and well cooked . When the kale is close to done, add the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for another 30 seconds before turning off the heat. Leave the pan to cool slightly while you do the next step. 

4. With your pizza dough that you prepared earlier, divide it into 6 evenly sized balls then roll each ball out into a mini pizza shape (they do not need to be perfect or uniform!). Do this on a floured surface so the dough does not stick to anything. Place the pizza bases onto the prepared baking tray and put them in the oven to cook for around 5 minutes or until they have slightly puffed and are going slightly golden. 

5. Remove your half-baked pizza bases from the oven and top them with the toppings starting with the cheese followed by the kale and onion mix and finishing it off with some more cheese on top. Return the pizzas to the oven and let them cook for another 10 minutes or until everything is nicely golden, melted and cooked through. 

Notes

  • Turn these flatbreads into pizza by putting down a tomato or pesto base 
  • If you aren't serving a crowd, split the dough in half and store half of it in the fridge or freezer for another pizza-making day 

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Spiced Pumpkin Summer Rolls

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Spiced Pumpkin Summer Rolls

Light and nutritious lunch recipes are always good to have on hand especially when you are after a bit of a health boost or wanting to get into the habit of making your own lunch for the work week. These spicy and flavoursome summer rolls are the perfect make ahead snack that has everything you need in them to keep you feeling satisfied throughout the rest of the day. 

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Roasted Carrot and Beetroot Salad with Tahini Dressing

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Roasted Carrot and Beetroot Salad with Tahini Dressing

roasted carrot and beetroot salad

serves 4 as a side dish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper

2. Toss the carrots and beetroot in olive oil, salt and pepper then spread the vegetables out onto the baking tray and place them in the oven to roast for 40-45 minutes. 

3. Once roasted, remove the vegetables from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you make the dressing. 

4. Place all the tahini dressing ingredients into a small food processor or blender and blitz until everything is well combined. 

if you don't have a small food processor, crush the garlic clove by hand and mix the dressing together with a fork or whisk

5. Now that the vegetables are cool, sprinkle some sesame seeds over them and then transfer them to a serving dish. Garnish with the basil and hazelnuts and serve the tahini dressing on the side or drizzle over the top. 

INGREDIENTS 

1 bunch dutch carrots (around 15 carrots), de-stemmed and washed

2 medium beetroots, peeled and cubed

olive oil

salt and pepper

1/2 cup hazelnuts, dry toasted and roughly chopped

1 cup basil, roughly chopped

Sesame seeds

TAHINI DRESSING (from Arthur Street Kitchen

3 tbsp tahini

around 50ml of water

1 garlic clove

1 tspn tamari

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp olive oil

salt

Notes

  • If you have left over dressing, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days 
  • If you cannot find bunches of dutch carrots at your local market/supermarket/grocer, use regular carrots and cut them lengthways into halves or quarters 



Comment

Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Christmas Cranberry and Macadamia Granola

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Christmas Cranberry and Macadamia Granola

Granola! Granola! Who doesn't love granola? Well, I guess there are some people who don't but the people who do love it, really love it. Like, a lot. They're the ones who order the granola at every cafe you go to even though there are '[insert city's name] best zucchini fritters with whipped goats cheese, pomegranate, micro herbs and anything else that's trendy' on the menu that everyone claims are 'must try'. This granola has a festive spin to it and is perfect for the holiday season as a gift for the granola lover or just a gift to yourself. It's nutritious, delicious and looks beautiful all packaged up in a jar. 

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Baked Beet Burgers

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Baked Beet Burgers

I've got a thing for patties. I am one of those people who loves to put a patty on everything. Salad? Put a patty on it. Rice? Put a patty on it. You will barely ever see me with a patty between two pieces of bread though. As a vegetarian, I use patties like a meat eater would use a steak. It's the centre-piece of my meal. 

Having a good patty recipe is an important aspect of appreciating them. Some recipes can be difficult to get right, have too many ingredients or just don't live up to the hype. This recipe however is bang on. It gets everything right - they are hearty, wholesome, easy to make and can be whipped up in no time at all thanks to the invention of food processors. 

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Raw Lemon Slice

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Raw Lemon Slice

This lemon slice is something else. When it comes to raw, vegan and sugar-free treats, this slice is up there. You know you've done something right when the batch gets devoured in a matter of hours and everyone is certain they will never go back to eating the junky, sugar-filled version ever again. There really isn't anything better than a coconut-crunchy, lemon zest spiked treat to get everyone's stomach and face smiling. 

2 Comments

Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Chocolate Chunk Coconut Cookies

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Chocolate Chunk Coconut Cookies

The cookie monster has been striking around this household. I'm putting it down to colder weather triggering cravings for something sweet to warm me up. Yes, even naturopaths get sugar cravings. The thing I have learnt is to not keep anything in the house that can sabotage you because cravings take a hold quickly and powerfully. That's why cookies are great. They also happen quickly and when you play your cards right, they act powerfully by satisfying all your sweet tooth needs. Once you've got this recipe down pat, given you have the ingredients in your pantry, you can have these on your plate in 20 minutes flat. Yep! Cookies are great. Keep reading for the know-how on coconut flour as well as how to eat a well balanced snack any day of the week. 

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com
Apple Pie Overnight Oats

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Apple Pie Overnight Oats

I love soaked muesli. I am that person that orders bircher muesli at nearly every cafe I go to and I get anxious when I sway towards something different, something more savoury. The other day I even had to chase down my waitress after a 30 second freak out triggered by ordering eggs....don't worry everyone, I got my bircher and the world was okay again. Like I said, I REALLY like soaked muesli. 

The best thing about soaked muesli is whilst cafes do it well, you can do it even better at home. This is because most menus have bircher on it as a mandatory item, the safe option that covers most dietary requirements. It is sometimes unadventurous in flavour and can look like a ball of goop if you go to the wrong places.  At home however, you can mix and match flavours, cut the juice that the traditional bircher recipe calls for, spike it with all your favourite nuts and seeds and even make it in a jar for added visual appeal. 

Oats get an A+ for being an outstanding source of nutrition. On a macronutrient scale, they are a good source of carbohydrates as well as protein with half a cup giving you around 13g of protein. For a food that gets thrown in the 'carb basket', that's a pretty good amount of protein. The fibre content of oats also assists in regulating your blood sugar so you don't dip and dive in energy throughout the morning and let's not forget to mention what a good dose of gentle fibre does for your digestive system! You'll be moving like a dream with this breakfast. Iron and magnesium are the other two nutrients you can get out of the old faithful oat making them a good food to include in your diet if you are looking for better iron sources or for those needed to refuel after an early morning workout session. 

Apple is the fruit included in the traditional recipe for bircher muesli and for good reason. When you grate apple, you release a beneficial fibre called pectin. Pectin is used clinically to treat constipation and diarrhoea as well as assist in maintaining the health of our digestive system. Including grated apple into your diet is one way for you to incorporate food as medicine into your daily life. 

If you've never made overnight oats before, now is your chance. Give this recipe a go and you will see how easy it is to eat a good, healthy breakfast that is well balanced and doesn't take up too much of your morning time. Once you get the hang of it, you will be mixing and matching flavour combinations like a pro wondering why you hadn't made this breakfast-in-a-jar all your life. 

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Sriracha and Peanut Burgers

Sriracha and peanut burger

The art of the veggie patty should not be underestimated. I have tried plenty of recipes, some of which came out dry and tasteless, others that were so elaborate I forgot what I was doing half way through and others where I realised they just weren't going to work out as soon as they hit the pan. For me, there is little more satisfying than a big hunk of burger so finding the perfect recipe and perfecting the art of the patty has been a goal I have long wanted to achieve. Today I can say, "by George, I think I've done it". 

A burger patty should meet four criteria: 

  • Tasty - a burger should taste comforting but not so comforting that it could have come from a dirty roadhouse diner
  • Texture - a burger should also be slightly crispy on the edges with a soft, moist centre that still has some bite
  • Simple - making a burger patty should be as easy as possible. No more difficult than making a bowl of mashed peas, I say. 
  • Nutritious - a criteria we may not all agree on but in my books, a burger should be nutritious enough to keep it on your weekly menu rotation and not cause you guilt 

With those four criteria in mind, let's see how these burger patties stack up. 

  • Tasty - I think the name says it all. Who doesn't love peanut butter and Sriracha? 
  • Texture - these guys get a big tick of approval on that front. The zucchini keeps things nice and moist whilst the oats and flour binds it all together to make a crisp outer shell. 
  • Simple - the ingredients for these patties are likely to already be in your pantry and they can be made by hand or with the aid of a food processor. Either or, they only take about 10 minutes and the fuss-level is very low. 
  • Nutritious - with no need for frying, packed full of plant fibre (oats and chickpeas) and even a dose of greens, these burgers are nutrient-dense, with no bad fats and no sugar. Eat them as a burger, have them as a snack or put them on top of salad because these patties are GOOD FOR YOU! 

A little bit more on plant fibre...

Plant-fibre is a miracle. Well, not exactly a miracle but it sure is something we could all use a bit more of. Having a diet rich in fibre is associated with longer satiety, smaller meal sizes, lower weight and a more nutrient-dense diet. Don't get me wrong, a good meat burger is not a problem but adding more plant-based recipes into your diet is only associated with good news and this burger recipe can be one of them. If you are a meat eater, having a dedicated plant-based meal is a good one to ensure you are boosting your plant-fibre intake and also getting the nutrients that plants provide including vital minerals, vitamins and antioxidants not found in meat. A good way to get started is to take part in Meatless Monday - a movement dedicated to increasing plant-based eating around the globe. 

Back to the burger...

To assemble this patty into a burger, you will need a bun, salad mix and the avocado sauce (recipe below) which has been adapted from Pinch of Yum's recipe. For those wanting to skip the bun, a cabbage bun (as seen on Instagram) is also a delicious alternative if you still want that hand held feel or else, just add your patty to a big pile of salad, top with sauce and enjoy. 

These burgers can be made both gluten-free and not, do which ever you please depending on your needs and pantry stock. You will notice the flour amount allows for less to extra flour. This is because you might need extra depending on how juicy your zucchini is. The flour will soak up the extra liquid so your patties don't fall apart in the pan. 

As I said earlier, these patties are perfectly simple to make by hand but you can also use a food processor. This mini chopper is my go to appliance and makes food prep a very easy task. I've made them both ways and they both turned out great so do not worry if you don't have a processor on hand. 


makes 6 patties 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put your rinsed chickpeas into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until they are a chunky paste consistency. 
  2. Add the diced onion, shredded zucchini, chopped coriander, oats, peanut butter, Sriracha, balsamic vinegar and garlic powder and combine well. At this point, you want the mix to be holding together but be a bit too wet. If it's not holding together, keeping mashing the mixture together until it does. 
  3. Add the flour, salt and pepper and mix again, checking to ensure everything is still holding together. If your mix is still too wet, add one tablespoon of flour at a time until the patties can be shaped into balls without sticking to your hands or breaking apart. 
  4. Divide the mixture into six portions and shape into balls, pressing them down to form flat patties. 
  5. In a large, shallow pan heat enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the pan over a medium heat. Once the pan is hot enough, place your patties in to cook for 3-5 minutes on either side or until they are golden brown and cooked through. 
  6. Transfer the patties to some paper towel to cool slightly and then prepare your burgers accordingly. 

INGREDIENTS

1 BPA-free can of chickpeas, well rinsed

1 small red onion, finely diced

1 zucchini, shredded and strained*

A handful of coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped

3/4 cup rolled oats, gluten free if needed

2 tbsp salted crunchy peanut butter

1-2 tbsp Sriracha sauce

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tspn garlic powder

1/4 - 1/2 cup flour or gluten-free flour (i.e. chickpea flour or corn flour) + extra if needed

A sprinkle of salt

A pinch of black pepper

A good quality vegetable oil or coconut oil for cooking

To assemble: 6 burger buns, cabbage, carrot, capsicum, coriander, salad leaves, avocado sauce

Notes

  • *Strain your grated zucchini by placing it in a fine sieve and pressing the liquid out of it until next to no liquid comes out (it's hard to get it 100% liquid free so just do your best)
  • You can store these patties in the fridge for up to 5 days after they have been cooked. Just re-heat when you're ready to eat. Otherwise, freeze leftovers for the next time you are craving a burger or need a quick meal. 
  • A slaw-type filling works best for these burgers to compliment the flavour of the patties. Feel free to use whatever you have in the fridge though. 

 

AVOCADO SAUCE 

This avocado sauce covers both your sauce and avocado needs by combining them into one. If you are a vegan, you can omit the greek yoghurt and increase the amount of avocado and water or use cashew cheese if you have it (this is what I used and it was delicious). You can find cashew cheese at most speciality grocery stores. 

INSTRUCTIONS 

1. Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl or food processor and combine until smooth and creamy. Adjust by adding more water to reach your desired consistency. Taste for seasoning then you're ready to go! 

Store this sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Any more and your avocado will go brown. 

INGREDIENTS 

1/4 avocado 

1/4 cup greek yoghurt or cashew cheese 

1/2 cup coriander 

1 small clove of garlic 

1/4 cup water 

1/2 a lime, juiced 

Chilli flakes (optional) 

Salt and pepper to taste

unassembled sriracha and peanut burger
sriracha and peanut burger

Comment

Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Beer Battered Tofu Tacos

beer battered tofu taco naturo medico

Looking for a fiesta? You've found one! Right here in these tofu tacos. They are vibrant, crunchy, tasty and make the knife and fork unnecessary utensils. Party! 

Some nights cooking becomes really uninspired and so it should! We are all tired, busy and stressed out at different times throughout our week and to expect yourself to be perfect throughout these times is not healthy or helpful. What is helpful is being mindful of your feelings, understanding them and then having ways to work around them. This process of understanding reduces stress, minimises negative self-talk and helps you install natural coping mechanisms that slowly become habit. It may not look like it, but these tacos are one way to help you cope with the 'end of workday' '100% unmotivated' 'can I eat chocolate for dinner' blues. 

How do these tacos do that? I could list many pros about these tacos but the main one is, they're EASY. They may not look like it but that's all show. Trust me when I say, the hardest part is dropping them into the oil and we all know how easy dropping stuff is. So when you're finishing up at work and cultivating your plan to sabotage your day with bad food choices followed by guilt and remorse, think about the fiesta you wish you were having and know that it's only a drop of a battered tofu rectangle away. 

Now the nutrition nitty gritty, of which there is plenty. Tacos get an A+ because colour is mandatory. More colour means more nutrients, it's as simple as that. Mix up the fillings by switching your cabbage colours and if you shop at the markets, look for purple and yellow carrots as well as orange. A Deep purple colour means the vegetable has a high antioxidant content - just what we need to keep us looking young and vibrant. Tacos get another tick for serving all of these veggies up raw meaning they retain a number of nutrients such as antioxidants and vitamin C that would usually be lost in the cooking process. A word to the wise though, cut the vegetables thin so your digestion doesn't have to work too hard to break them down. It also makes for a much more approachable taco. 

You get your protein from the tofu. Lots of people say they don't like tofu because it tastes like nothing. I recently learnt about brining tofu and my world has been changed. Brining should only be done when you've got time on your hands though as you'll need to let the tofu sit for around 30 minutes. All you need to do is soak the slab of tofu in hot, salty water prior to preparing it. After the 30 minutes, you drain it, you pat it dry and you're ready to go. For when you don't brine, you just make sure you add a nice amount of salt to the tofu before battering it (as noted in the recipe). Then you have the batter. The batter is very tasty and adds the rest of the pizazz that you need to prove to yourself that tofu is delicious. 

These tacos call for sauces and to keep things simple using a pre-made sauce is the best bet. Kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise) is great as is cashew cheese if you're vegan. Otherwise, some sriracha or your favourite chipotle chilli sauce will do just as good a job. If you're into making your own sauce, I'd recommend this spicy cashew sauce from The Simple Veganista. 

If you want to make these gluten-free, you can switch the flour to a gluten-free flour and add a teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder to it to get a nice, light batter. Also make sure you buy a gluten-free beer and use 100% corn tortillas. 

So, give these tacos a go! Test them out on a night when you're feeling great so you can get the hang of it and then on that night when things aren't looking so good, whip them up and make your body feel like it's at a fiesta. 


makes 8 tacos 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Drain your tofu and pat dry. Cut the tofu into thin, rectangular strips and sprinkle with salt (this is the only flavour the tofu will have so be generous). You can cut between 8 - 16 rectangles depending on the size you would like. 

2. Prepare your batter by mixing the flour, spices and salt and pepper in a bowl and then adding the beer bit by bit until the batter is well combined. Leave this batter to bubble and fizz for around 10-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of your taco things. 

3. Depending on what you like inside your tacos, cut everything up into taco-approrpriate size. Shaved cabbage is best as are thin sticks of carrot. Use your creative intuition though and do as you please! That's what is so great about tacos. Place everything on a plate for everyone to fill their tacos themselves or have it ready to prepare the tacos yourself. 

4. Place your tortillas in some baking paper or foil and heat in the oven or microwave (do not put foil in the microwave). Leave them wrapped until you are ready to eat. 

5. Time to cook the tofu! Place your oil into a deep, small saucepan and place it on your stovetop. You will need enough oil to cover the tofu when you drop it in. While the oil is heating, coat each tofu strip in a light coating of flour to help the batter stick to it. Place your bowl of batter next to your oil pan and get ready to dunk and fry! 

6. One by one, dip the floured tofu into the batter and then straight into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pan (I had 3 pieces going at once). You will see the tofu puff up and go golden. Let each piece cook until a deep gold colour and they are crispy to touch. Once they're ready, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towelling to rest. Continue this process until all the tofu is cooked. 

7. Unwrap your tortillas and place them on a serving plate. Move all your elements to the table and let everyone dig in! Alternatively, place 1-2 tortillas on each plate and build your tacos to serve ready-made. 

 

INGREDIENTS

250g firm organic tofu 

1 cup spelt flour + extra for dusting 

185ml/half a bottle of Mexican beer*

1 tspn paprika 

1 tspn ground coriander 

1 tspn powdered garlic 

Salt and pepper 

Oil, for frying (peanut, coconut, ghee) 

8 taco tortillas 

Taco fillers: 

Carrot

Cabbage

Avocado

Radish

Coriander 

Lime

Kewpie 

Chipotle sauce 

Cashew cheese 

Notes 

  • Unfortunately, beer batter is best eaten straight away so these tacos don't store well. Lucky for us, they are so quick to make! 
  • Peanut oil has been recommended for frying due to it's high smoke point and stability meaning the oil doesn't get damaged and become a health damaging oil when you are cooking your tacos. Other options include coconut oil and ghee if you would prefer to shallow fry however you will not get the same crispy outcome as when you deep fry them. 
beer battered taco naturo medico


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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Banoffee Pies

raw banoffee pies

If you asked me to make you a real banoffee pie, I would have to really like you to get me to agree to it. Making pastry, caramel and a meringue is just one too many tasks for me to handle. However, if you ask me to make you a raw version I will happily oblige. Why? Because unlike the traditional version, you literally only need a food processor and your fridge and you don't risk a shrinking base, overcooked caramel and a eggy, floppy meringue. 

My version of the banoffee pie comes from hours of looking at the My New Roots version  and being addicted to a local Melbourne cafe, Beatrix's traditional version. Once I got the raw caramel slice down pat, I knew making a banoffee pie couldn't be much different.

The base is made up of currants, nuts, cacao and coconut oil but you could use any dried fruit and even skip the fruit all together and use the base from the caramel slice recipe. The peanut caramel is a blend of organic peanut butter and rice malt syrup but again, any sweetener would do and can be dictated by what you have on hand. The pie is layered so once you've got your base and peanut caramel down, on goes the banana and the coconut whip topping. 

As with most raw recipes, quantities are not as crucial as they would be if you were baking it. You can play around with sweetener levels and add more salt to the caramel if that's the taste you like. Raw desserts are very forgiving and in the rare instance when things do go a little south, all you need to do is add a little bit more of something else and you'll find it balances itself out again. 

These pies are definitely a treat. They are rich, decadent and extremely tasty but as with all treats, should be enjoyed only on special occasions. The best thing about these types of treats is that they are so nutrient-dense, loaded with fibre and bursting with healthy fats that your brain gets the message that some is enough and there is no need to continue scoffing. 

So next time you're craving peanut butter and banana and are having a moment of creative motivation, get this recipe up on your iPad, computer or phone and get making! 

*Please note, the whip needs to be made from a cold can of coconut cream so you need to either put a can in the fridge the night before or leave your half-made pies in the fridge overnight while you chill the coconut cream. To get the best whip, you need a high fat content so make sure your coconut cream is 100% coconut. I use the Ayam coconut cream which can be found at most supermarkets. 

makes 4 pies (using a large muffin tray) 

INGREDIENTS 

1/2 cup mixed nuts 

1/2 cup currants

2 tbsp coconut oil, soft but not melted 

1 tbsp cacao powder

A sprinkle of salt 

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1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter, organic

1/4 cup rice malt syrup, or preferred sweetener 

2 tbsp melted coconut oil 

1 tspn vanilla extract 

2 tbsp water 

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1 banana, cut into rounds 

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270ml can coconut cream, refrigerated overnight 

1 tspn vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped 

Around 2 tbsp of preferred sweetener, adjusted to your taste preference 

Top with finely grated dark chocolate (optional) 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Prepare your muffin tray by lining four of the moulds with cling wrap. This will make it easier to get your pies out at the end. You can use patty pans if you have them on hand. 

2. Make your base by blitzing the nuts, currants, oil, cacao and salt in a food processor or blender. The base is ready when it begins to stick to itself and form a dough. Divide into four portions and press the base mixture into the prepared moulds. Place in the fridge while you make your caramel. 

3. Rinse out your food processor then add the peanut butter, sweetener, melted coconut oil and vanilla to it and mix until the ingredients are combined. It will thicken up so add a tablespoon of water at a time and mix until the caramel loosens and becomes slightly more smooth and caramel-like. You may need 1 or 2 tablespoons extra depending on the peanut butter you are using. 

4. Remove your bases from the fridge and divide out the caramel amongst the four pies, ensuring each base is well coated. Then cover the caramel with your banana rounds (it took around 6 pieces of banana for me) and press down gently so the banana sits into the caramel. Return the pies to the fridge. 

5. To make the coconut whip, you need a well-chilled can of coconut cream.  Open your can and scoop out the cream into your mixing bowl. You do not want any liquid in the bowl so make sure you pour the excess liquid out somewhere else. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream for around 8-10 minutes or until it is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and sweetener and briefly whip again. 

6. Remove your pies from the fridge and remove them from the moulds and plastic, ready to be lathered with rich, creamy whip. Put them onto a tray and dollop the coconut whip onto the top of each pie, as much or as little as you like. 

7. Grate some dark chocolate over the top of your pies and serve immediately. Alternatively, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

Notes

  • You will most likely have left over coconut whip. If so, store it in an airtight container for up to 1.5 weeks. It does stiffen in the fridge so when you are ready eat it, whip it up again with your whisk to loosen it up slightly before using it. 
  • If you have a smaller muffin tray, you can easily make mini banoffee pies with the recipe giving you enough for around 8 pies. Alternatively, you can increase the base and caramel recipe to make more pies.    
Raw Banoffee Pies

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Root 'n' Toot Soup

root and toot soup

I've just awarded myself the 'most fitting dish name' award. It's quite perfectly a soup full of roots and things that will make you 'toot' (beans, beans the musical fruit). Plus you'll be rootin' and tootin' for it once you've tried it because it's pretty damn tasty and great for the cooler weather. 

BEANS AND YOUR HEALTH

Beans may be cheap and understated but they are one of the best foods for a number of reasons. They are high in protein, they are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, they are full of fibre, low on sugar and full of trace minerals required for healthy happy bodies. Consuming beans has shown to be protective against some cancers including colorectal cancer and it has been proven that they can reduce the occurrence of polyps, a risk factor for the progression of colorectal cancer. 

The old bean has also got your heart health looked after with reports showing that consumption of beans on a regular basis (4 times per week) reduces your risk of coronary heart disease as well as cardiovascular disease. This is due to the beans being able to reduce reduce cholesterol levels, manage insulin as well as provide supportive nutrients like magnesium and calcium, vital for good heart function. 

Because beans are low in sugar and high in fibre, those who have insulin resistance or issues with blood sugar regulation can benefit from regular bean consumption as well. For example, women with PCOS can use beans functionally by including them in their diet four times a week or more. Satiety and feelings of hunger can also be a problem when blood sugar is running rogue. People are able to overeat due to their signals being a little bit lazy and not quite right. Little has been invested into the research behind the exact mechanism beans play on satiety however trends show that people who consume beans are more likely to experience a greater sense of satiety after eating their meal compared to those who did not eat them. 

So how do you get more beans in? Well in Winter it is easy as all you have to do is pop a few into your soup or stew. If you are over the liquid diet then adding beans to salads, wraps, noodle dishes and as a side dish is just as simple. Just crack open a can, rinse well and add away. Looking for another bean recipe? Try this soba noodle salad on for size

If all of that has made you ready to start rootin' and tootin' then this soup is ready to be made. Or if you're just looking for a delicious soup recipe then that will work too. I hope you enjoy it! 


makes 4 servings 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pan big enough to house your soup cooking, add the onions and carrot and cook gently for around 5 minutes. 

2. Once the onion and carrot are nicely softened, add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes. 

3. Add the can of tomatoes, stock and bouquet garni, mix well and bring to the boil. Keep the soup on a steady boil for 10 minutes. 

4. Turn the heat down on the soup so it is just simmering then add the beans, cover the pot with a lid and leave to gently simmer for 8-10 minutes. 

5. Taste the soup and season to your liking (lots of cracked pepper is a good thing) then serve with fresh basil and grated cheese. Remember to remove the bouquet garni prior to serving. 

NGREDIENTS

2 tbsp coconut oil 

3 onions, finely sliced 

1 large carrot, diced

2 large garlic cloves, crushed 

1 small potato, washed and diced (1cm cubes)

1 small sweet potato, washed and diced (1cm cubes)

1 cup of plain cabbage, sliced 

1 can cherry tomatoes

 750ml of vegetable stock 

2 cans of beans (mixed, butter, kidney, borlotti), drained and rinsed well

1 bouquet garni 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

A handful of fresh basil leaves to serve 

Grated parmesan to serve (optional) 

Notes

  • This soup will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week after cooking. Re-heat thoroughly before consuming. 
  • If you need to thin the soup out slightly, add a touch more water when re-heating as it tends to thicken up once it has cooled. 
  • Add a sprinkle of chilli flakes for a bit of heat if the hands are cold and the nose is sniffling. 
  • You can also use dry beans for this recipe. If you would like to do so, you will need approximately 225g of dry beans and they will need to be cooked prior to making this recipe 
  • When buying canned beans, ensure the label states 'BPA free' to ensure the can does not contain any nasty chemicals 
  • You can buy bouquet garnis or make your own by tying together some parsley, thyme and bay leaves with kitchen string. Add the bunch to the pot and remove when ready to serve. 

Have you made a Naturo Medico recipe? Make sure you take a photo and #naturomedico on Instagram to share your recipe creations

root and too soup 2



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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Turmeric Spiced Vegetables

turmeric spiced vegetables

The weather can get everyone down. There are even conditions exacerbated by weather such as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), depression associated with the seasons. As winter rolls in, the days get shorter, the sun stops shining, socks are always necessary and your neck needs wrapping before heading outdoors. At least that's what you think. Winter isn't the end of the world. We can very easily get stuck in the notion that winter means less exercise, more eating, more sleeping (although I probably wouldn't deny that one!) but majority of this is just a mindset. As we get older, we tend to get stuck in our own habits (I'm the first to admit that), but your way isn't the only way. You can maintain your 'happy-go-lucky, summer-loving' self throughout the whole year, you just have to decide to. You are your own biggest obstacle. 

EXERCISE

Exercising in the cooler months is actually incredibly refreshing. Working with the crisp freshness that is an Autumn or Winter morning can be therapeutic on more levels than just the exercise. Pop on a puffer vest, make sure you wear full length tops and bottoms and get out there. A brisk walk or run gets your body temperature rising and the cold won't feel so cold anymore. You get to breath in the clean air and have a little bit of time to yourself either in the first light of the morning or the last light of the day. If you are one to claim your metabolism slows down in Winter, getting up first thing and denying the cold weather the chance of slowing you down will assist in keeping your body temperature high and your metabolism churning. If the outdoors is not your thing then your local gym or studio has your back. As the days get shorter, I suggest you get out there earlier in the day when you're motivation hasn't been tarnished by the grey and rain and time constraints aren't established yet. 

EATING

It's no doubt that when the weather gets cooler, we need more sustenance to keep going. Sustenance foods are not foods that make us feel frumpy and sluggish although we tend to associate those feelings with winter as we all put on our 'winter skin'. If you're resorting to meal fillers like pasta, bread and rice and not enjoying it then look for alternatives. Sweet potato can provide a good base for your bolognese sauce, quinoa can be substituted into your next curry meal. Seek out unprocessed, unrefined foods first and prevent yourself from feeling the frump. A few of my other personal favourites include adding beans to soups and skipping the bread or providing a side of roasted vegetables to fill in the gaps. 

NUTRITION

Supporting yourself through the cooler months is integral to staying on top of things. If you get hit by the lurgy early it can really throw you off for the coming months. Getting sick one to two times per year with quick recovery is okay but when it's recurrent and never fully resolves, you need to start assessing where you are going wrong and why it keeps happening. Maybe you're not getting enough sleep? Are you eating foods that are impeding on your immune system rather than supporting it? Did you actually allow yourself to rest? Read this article and see how you can help yourself with nutrition as your guide. 

This recipe for turmeric spiced vegetables was first found in Jamie Oliver's book, Comfort Food. The vegetables make up the inside of the dosa and are completely delicious. The vegetables alone make the perfect side dish as well as something you can cook up early in the week and have on hand for lunches and dinners throughout. Using some of autumn and winter's finest vegetables, the dish is rich in beta-carotene (plant-based vitamin A) and vitamin C. Two integral nutrients for your immune system. Better yet, the warming nature of mustard seed and turmeric nourishes your digestion and keeps your body's metabolism turning over. 


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat your oven to 200 degrees and prepare a baking tray for your vegetables 

2. Toss your vegetables in a some 2 tbsp coconut oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place on the baking tray and bake for around 1 hour until the potatoes are soft and the carrots are golden. 

3. Remove the vegetables from the oven and scoop out the insides of the sweet potato and potatoes. Tear up the skins to be used in the vegetable mix. 

4. Heat the remaining to 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a large fry pan. Add the chillies, ginger, mustard seeds and turmeric and gently cook them until your kitchen smells fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop and dance. 

5. Place the carrots and both types of potatoes into the frypan and toss until the mixture is completely coated. Continue cooking for around 5 minutes and your potato skins are starting to get crispy. 

6. Taste the mix and season as required. Remove from the heat, add the fresh coriander and spring onion, mix gently and place into a serving dish to be enjoyed. 

 

INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp melted coconut oil 

2 baking potatoes, washed but not peeled 

2 similar sized sweet potatoes, washed but not peeled or 1 big sweet potato cut in half 

1 bunch dutch carrots, washed and trimmed 

1 dried red chilli, finely diced 

1 fresh red chilli, finely diced

1 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced 

1.5 tspn mustard seeds 

1 tspn turmeric

1 bunch coriander, washed and roughly chopped 

2 spring onions (stalk only), finely sliced

salt and pepper

 

Notes 

  • you can serve these vegetables with some delicious mango chutney or minted yoghurt. Check out Jamie Oliver's dosa recipe to go the whole hulk. 
  • these vegetables will store in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
  • this mix was tried on toast, sprinkled with feta and it worked amazingly well. A very sustaining breakfast indeed. 
  • mix some prepared quinoa through or add a can of beans to make a complete meal out of this dish




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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Peanut and Ginger Asian Slaw with Crispy Peppered Tofu

Peanut Asian Slaw

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to takeover the I Quit Sugar Instagram, letting people into a little slice of the Naturo Medico life. Lots of you are reading this because of the exposure this social media stunt gave me so 'WELCOME!' and I hope you enjoy my recipes.  

Everything was going along fabulously until I uploaded the photo of this recipe. Suddenly I started to see comments such as "Seriously @iquitsugar TOFU!!??? this is not a nourishing food?" "Also terrible for the planet" and "I don't understand people who still promote tofu as a healthy food". I started to worry, then I started to get frustrated and it ended with me telling myself "you've got this, you know this" and writing a response to the disgruntled viewers in confidence. As a health practitioner, I have a duty to ensure my research is thorough and up to date so I can provide the upmost level of care. The controversial topic of soy is one I have had to wrap my head around (literally! the amount of information out there is endless) to be able to provide answers when my clients ask me. 

The soy bean is a legume. It is reasonably cheap and easy to grow which has resulted in it's overuse as a food additive, as animal feed and ultimately lead to it's development as a genetically modified (GM) 'biotech crop' by GM mastermind, Monsanto. None of those aspects about soy are good nor supported. In terms of soy consumption, it is recommended that you consume soy in it's natural form (i.e. tofu, tempeh) and that you source a preferably local brand that is GM-free and organic. Natural soy has had a number of studies conducted on it and the outcomes are positive. So what's all the fuss about then? 

SOY IS A PHYTOESTROGEN

Soy is a phytoestrogen - a plant compound that can mildly mimic our own oestrogen. An assumption could be made that consuming soy could lead to an overload of oestrogen and hence could have a detrimental effect on fertility, hormone-related cancers and other physiological functions that require oestrogen. The research out there does not support this assumption and actually proves that soy may be beneficial for a number of issues related to hormones, in particular for breast cancer reoccurrence in post-menopausal women (1). In relation to fertility, the jury is out. If infertility is related to undiagnosed hypothyroidism or iodine deficiency, soy may have a role to play but in terms of it having an independent effect on fertility, there is no solid evidence to say it's going to ruin your chances (2). 

SOY CAN BE HIGHLY PROCESSED

A lot of the negative feedback on soy comes from it's use as processed food. Asian societies have been consuming natural soy for hundreds of years and these countries just so happen to be the ones with the lowest rate of breast cancer. Not only this but the inception of the "Western Diet" also appears to be effecting these figures on breast cancer and increasing the prevalence in these same countries (4). What does this say? That natural is better. Consume soy in the form of tempeh, tofu, soy sauce, natto or miso and become aware of the addition of soy to a number of processed foods. Foods such as frozen meals, chewing gums, chocolate, some processed breads, protein bars and meats may contain soy products so check your labels and avoid it where you can. 

SOY IS A GOITROGEN 

A goitrogen is a substance that interferes with iodine uptake to the thyroid gland which can result in the enlargement of the thyroid gland, also known as a goitre. This is why many people will pin hypothyroidism on soy consumption. However, studies have shown that for people with no existent thyroid issues, who are iodine-replete are not effected by the consumption of soy (3). For those who do suffer from hypothyroidism, it is important to ensure adequate iodine intake or to avoid eating soy so you do not stop yourself from absorbing the iodine you've already got. 

HOW TO ENJOY SOY

In short, soy in it's genetically-modified and processed form is not something I recommend to anyone and I believe it should be avoided where possible. I also do not believe that soy, in any of it's forms, needs to be excluded by everyone. In its natural form, soy has a number of health benefits including its use as a phytoestrogen that many of us can gain from. Consume products in moderation such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce and soy milk made from whole soy beans and do so in confidence that you are not doing yourself a disservice. If you suffer from hypothyroidism or are taking thyroid medication, ensure you are having adequate intake of iodine to counteract the effect of soy or avoid it all together.

 As with everything, moderation is key. Soy all day, every day is not good for anyone just as steak all day, every day isn't. Be real and eat your crispy peppered tofu because its just about one of the most delicious things there is. 


Serves 2 

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing 

1.5 tbsp crunchy peanut butter, unsalted 

1.5 tbsp rice wine vinegar 

2 tspn lime juice 

1.5 tspn olive oil 

2 tspn soy sauce 

1 tbsp honey or brown rice syrup 

1 small garlic clove 

1 cm cube of ginger, peeled and finely sliced

a sprinkle of salt 

1 tbsp shiracha (optional) 

1/2 tspn sesame oil 

For the salad

1 cup red cabbage, finely sliced 

1 cup plain cabbage, finely sliced 

1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin sticks 

1 red capsicum, finely sliced into strips 

1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped 

1/2 cup peanuts 

For the tofu

250g hard tofu, cut into triangles 

1 cup corn flour 

1 tbsp pepper, ground

1 tsp salt  

Coconut oil, for frying 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. The dressing will be quite thick at this stage. You can loosen it up with water, 1 tbsp at a time until the desired consistency is met. Taste and adjust to your liking. 

2. Prepare the salad by chopping up all the vegetables (except the peanuts) into a slaw and placing them into a mixing bowl. Once they're all in there, mix them together thoroughly and set aside. 

3. For the tofu, set up two plates next to each other and place the corn flour, pepper and salt onto one of them. Combine these ingredients well so that when you coat the tofu, each piece gets a good dose of pepper. One by one, dip each triangle of tofu into the mixture and set onto the empty plate, ready for cooking. 

4. Heat a fry pan on medium heat, place the peanuts into the pan and dry toast until they are beginning to go golden brown. Remove from the heat and place into the mixing bowl. 

5. In the same pan, heat about a tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat until melted. Keeping the temperature reasonably high (without smoking yourself out), add the tofu to the pan and begin frying it off. The higher temperature helps you achieve a crispier coating. 

6. While the tofu is cooking, pour the peanut sauce over your salad and toss well. Place the salad into two bowls, ready to be topped with the tofu. 

7. Once one side of the tofu is golden and crispy (2-3 minutes), flip them over to cook the other side. Once they're cooking on both sides, remove from the heat and split the tofu between the two bowls. Sprinkle with some fresh coriander and enjoy. 

Notes

  • you can adjust the seasoning of the tofu to your own preferred taste by decreasing or increasing the amount of pepper you add. You can also add other spices such as chilli powder to give it even more of a kick 
  • if you are saving some of the salad, do not mix the dressing through as it will become soggy if left for a long period of time. Instead, serve the dressing on the side or drizzle it over the top of each individual serve as you eat it 
Peanut and Ginger Asian Slaw with Crispy Peppered Tofu

References

1. Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. 2009;302:2437-2443

2. Kurzer, M.S., 2002. Hormonal Effects of Soy in Premenopausal Women and Men. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(Table 1), p.545S–546S.

3. Messina, M. & Redmond, G., 2006. Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature. Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association, 16(3), pp.249–58. 

4. He, F.-J. & Chen, J.-Q., 2013. Consumption of soybean, soy foods, soy isoflavones and breast cancer incidence: Differences between Chinese women and women in Western countries and possible mechanisms. Food Science and Human Wellness, 2(3-4), pp.146–161.

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Decadent Dark Chocolate Truffles

Raw Cacao Truffles

Whether you're a health-foodie, a lazy cook, a lousy baker or just a little disorganised, putting together a meal for a group of people can be full of dilemmas. There's nothing quite like a the lingering arrival of guests and your kitchen being covered in one hundred pans, you with sweat on your brow and an odd stench of onion through your hair. Putting together a meal that satisfies all tastes and needs is an art and if you're not a catering dream machine, you can end up being completely overwhelmed and as putting yourself at risk of cancelling the dinner 10 minutes before everyone is set to arrive. - "THEY'RE NOT EVEN GOING TO LIKE WHAT I'VE MADE". 

To avoid falling into a mini nervous breakdown and to make sure you enjoy your own party - you can do a few things to ease the load. Making a starter, main and dessert is a massive undertaking so spread things out.

  1. Entrees - You can make an entree without making anything at all. Some dip, olives, extra virgin olive oil and fresh bread is all anyone needs to feel like they're off to a good start. Arrange it on a platter in a pinterest-inspired fashion and you'll have your friends snapping photos and uploading them in no time. If you've got a gluten-free guest, ensure you provide an alternative for dipping such as crudités or gluten-free crackers. Having options means that from the health-concious to the gourmet foodie, everyone is satisfied. 
  2. Mains - This is where things can get a bit tricky. Acknowledge that this is likely to be the most time-consuming dish and be okay with it. If you know all your friends eat meat, a BBQ or roast is a great way to make your meal less complicated. If you have a vegetarian or vegan in the crowd, you will need to make something substantial for them as well. This doesn't have to be hard though. Making something in advance is always a good option as you can reheat it with the rest of the meal while it's cooking. A spinach and feta pie is a good choice, or even some zucchini fritters. If you are going with a BBQ-inspired meal, including a hearty salad like this grain salad is more than enough to keep everyone's tummy satisfied, meat or no meat. Add a few roast potatoes and a green salad and that's all you need to make a meal one to remember. 
  3. Dessert- and now I am getting to the point. Dessert is a nice part of a meal. It rounds everything off and ends the meal on a high note (sugar high note?). The thought of making a whole main meal and then whipping up a dessert can be daunting for most of us. You're also more likely to fail at getting the dessert perfect as there is less room for error. Well, until now. This recipe for these vegan truffles can ease all your dessert anxiety. They are so easy to make, appeal to the healthy ones and the indulgent ones and aren't too much sweetness but just enough. Make these ahead of time and have them ready to go for when the plates are cleared, belly's are full and everyone's hoping someone will offer them a cup of tea. 

This recipe is raw, gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free. You can customise it however you wish by including some cacao nibs or coating them in desiccated coconut. I even added a few drops of mint essential oil to mine to make them the ultimate after dinner mint. Any which way, you will be a happy host and your guests will be happy too. 


Makes around 12 truffles 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups dates, soft and pitted 

3 tbsp cacao powder, or carob powder + extra for dusting

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted but cool

1 tspn ground cinnamon

1/2 tspn cayenne powder (if you dare) 

a pinch of salt 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add all the ingredients to your high speed blender/food processor/mini chopper and blitz until a smooth paste. 

2. Rub coconut oil into the palm of your hands and begin rolling the paste into balls. The coconut oil will stop the paste from sticking to your hands. 

3. Once they are all uniform, set up a plate with cacao powder on it so you can coat each ball in a fine dusting of it just like real truffles. This is where you could use other things such as desiccated coconut (as pictured). 

4. Serve immediately or place in an air-tight container to be refrigerated or left out to be served in the next short while. 

Notes 

  • These truffles are countertop friendly meaning they don't necessarily need to be put in the fridge. The warmer they are, the more gooey they are so if you want gooey don't put them in the fridge. 
  • If you prefer your treats on the harder side, leave these truffles in the fridge overnight. They will harden up slightly but still remain soft in texture. 
  • If you want to spike the flavour, do so when you are combining the mix. If you are wanting to add choc chips, add these after you have blitzed the mix to make sure you don't over combine and break down the chips. 

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Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Spiced Pumpkin and Quinoa Empanadas

Spiced pumpkin and quinoa empanadas

This recipe came about when a little bit of left over pumpkin sat on it's own in the bottom of the fridge drawer. After going out for dinner too many night's in a row, the body was craving something home cooked yet something that required next to no effort at all. In this household, that means something that wraps all it's ingredients up in one tight package with the only additional thing needed being a quick salad. A little bit of inspiration from Pinterest and I was good to go with a mission to create some pastry-filled deliciousness with what I had in the kitchen. The first batch was made with filo pastry, a low-fuss option for those on the time-poor side. The second time around they went a little high-end with a wholemeal spelt and olive oil dough (as pictured). Both worked. I even saved some of the filling to have as a simple side dish throughout the week. How versatile. 

If you're going the pre-made dough way, this recipe is so simple. You roast everything on one tray, cook up the quinoa, mix it all together, wrap it all up and pop it back onto the same tray to cook. You only need one bowl, one baking tray and zero fancy tools. If you're making your own dough you still only need one bowl and one baking tray but you do need a little more time and a mixer never hurts (but is definitely not necessary). 

These hand-pies can also be made FODMAP-friendly and vegan for those who require it. The homemade dough is FODMAP free and vegan but if you want to buy pre-packaged pastry, make sure it's vegan and/or gluten-free. The filling calls for both onion and feta but this is easily interchangeable. If you are looking to lose the feta, add some toasted pine nuts or some vegan feta such as almond feta. If you need to cut the onion, I would suggest adding some extra spices to your pumpkin when roasting it and consider adding some toasted nuts as well (within the FODMAP friendly range). 

The thing I like most about this empanadas is that they aren't just full of potato and run-of-the-mill vegetables. They also aren't loaded with saturated fat like some store bought options. They indulge a guilty pleasure whilst retaining all the good you can get from a good old pastry parcel. Making the filling out of quinoa provides you with a higher protein content than your average pastry treat and if you're vegan or vegetarian, quinoa provides you with a complete protein - a rare thing with plant-based protein sources. 

The homemade pastry version uses spelt flour. A wheat-free option which is why it is suitable for people on a low FODMAP diet. Spelt is also lower in gluten making it a good alternative to wheat flour for people looking to provide themselves with more variety in their diet. You can read more about why this is important over on the 'health + wellbeing' page


makes 6 or so empanadas  

INGREDIENTS 

2 cups wholemeal spelt flour 

3 tbsp olive oil 

1/4 cup water + 2 tbsp 

salt 

500g pumpkin, thinly sliced (5mm thick)

2 tbsp coconut oil 

1 tspn cumin

1 tspn corinader

1/2 tspn hot paprika

1 red onion, cut into quarters 

1 cup quinoa, rinsed 

2 cups vegetable stock or water

1 bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

100g feta 

1/2 cup currants (optional) 

Olive oil, to brush 

 

INSTRUCTIONS 

1. Heat your oven to 180 degrees and line a tray with baking paper 

2. Place the pumpkin, spices and oil into a mixing bowl and toss until it is evenly coated. Spread out onto the baking tray and place the chunks of onion on too. Place in the oven to cook for around 25 minutes. 

3. Quickly rinse your quinoa then place it in a saucepan with the vegetable stock or water and place it on the stove on a high heat. Bring the water to a boil, stir once then reduce the heat to a simmer, place a lid on the saucepan and cook for 15 minutes. Do not remove the lid until then. 

4. To make your dough, add the flour to a bowl with the salt and quickly combine. Slowly add one tablespoon of olive oil at a time, combining as you go. Once well mixed, start adding the water one tablespoon at a time. Once you can knead the dough into a ball, you are done. Wrap it up in cling wrap and place it in the fridge to chill. 

5. After 15 minutes of the quinoa cooking, turn the stovetop off and leave the quinoa to continue steaming itself. 

6. Once your pumpkin and onion are done, remove them from the oven and place them in the mixing bowl. Roughly mash them up to begin forming the filling to your empanadas.

7. Add the coriander, feta and currants to the mixing bowl (or other ingredients if using) and combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. 

8. Remove the lid of the quinoa and fluff it up to ensure that there is no moisture left then add it to the rest of the ingredients. Combine everything well, taste for season and adjust accordingly. 

9. To assemble the pies, roll out the dough on a floured surface. Aim for it to be able to make 6 pies. Cut out 6 circles (I used a small saucepan lid to do this) and remove the excess dough. Place a small amount of mixture on each circle only filling half of it and ensuring you leave space around the edge to close the pie up. Fold the dough over the mixture and press the edges together (use a bit of water to make it stick) firmly then roll the edge in on itself and push it down with a fork (see picture for a better explanation!). 

10. Place your pies on the baking tray, lightly brush with olive oil and bake for around 30 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy. Allow to cool slightly then enjoy! 

Notes

  • If you do not have any spelt flour in your pantry, wholemeal flour is suitable to substitute in to the recipe 
  • If you don't have 6 mouths to feed, make the complete batch and freeze some before cooking. On a rainy day when cooking is not looking likely, just switch your oven on to 180 degrees and cook for an extra 15 minutes or so to allow for defrosting. 
  • If you're using a ready-made pastry, the most efficient way to wrap up your parcels is to cut the pastry into long rectangles and fold them up into triangles. To see how it's done, watch this You Tube clip. 

Did you make this recipe? Be sure to take a photo and tag @naturomedico to show me your creations


Comment

Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com

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Zucchini Slice

Zucchini Slice Naturo Medico

Let's make you some more time. 

Finding out ways to make your life work better for you can be tough especially when you google it and you get the same 10 tips every time like 'go to bed earlier', 'exercise first thing', 'do meal preparation'. The reason you get the same 10 tips every time is that these tips are effective. The reason you don't use these tips is because they probably don't fit into your life as you know it. Maybe you go out for lunch every day with the people at work making meal preparation uncalled for, maybe you can't stop watching that television show before bed, maybe you have to set the alarm at least 20 times before you actually get out of bed making it unrealistic for you to get out and exercise. These are all YOUR habits. They bind you into a routine which can seem hard to break but if you clearly and consciously thought about what you're doing and how it benefits your life, they may not seem so necessary and you might find you have room to let in a few of those life-changing tips. 

One thing that stops us from changing our habits is time and it is one of the biggest issues when you ask someone why they are not eating properly or why they have not been going to yoga or doing their exercise. Meal preparation is one of those top 10 tips you will read about and it may take a couple of hours on a Sunday but it buys you more time during the week. You won't have to do the rush around every night of the week to rustle up something you can put in your lunch box. Instead you can use that time to go to your yoga class or to sit and unwind with your partner or friend. You are likely to save money as well as feel happier about yourself and your food choices leading to one less stressor playing on your mind. Nutritionally, you are going to get a lot more in which leads to a happy, healthier you. Taking your lunch to work also means you can use your lunch break for something other than eating. You get MORE TIME. Go for a walk with colleagues, get out into the fresh air, just get moving. The outcome? A happy, healthier you. 

This zucchini slice recipe is so satisfying and can be kept in the fridge for a week. Cooking this on a Sunday will take no more than an hour and it will serve you well throughout the rest of the week. You can even freeze half for another time and make something else to mix it up. And anyway, cooking on a Sunday is so relaxing. Put on some music, get the people around you involved and enjoy doing something for you. 


10 minutes preparation 45 minutes cooking 

Ingredients

2 large zucchinis, grated 

1 red onion, grated 

1/2 cup of fetta 

1/2 cup of parmesan 

1/4 cup olive oil plus extra for greasing 

1 cup chickpea flour 

1 teaspoon baking powder

5 eggs, lightly whisked  

Season with salt and pepper 

Heat oven to 170 degrees and grease a baking dish (or dishes, I split mine over two). Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and combine until everything is evenly coated. Pour the mix into the baking dish and put into the oven for 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Leave to cool then cut into desired size slices. 


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1 Comment

Roberta is trained in clinical nutritional medicine and has a strong belief that food is the most powerful form of medicine and should be used first and foremost where possible. If you would like more information on nutrition and how you can get the most out of your diet, contact Roberta at roberta@naturomedico.com