Cook this: Orange & zucchini “muesli bars” (lactose, gluten & sugar free)

Remember how I said the other day that I wanted to try using puffed quinoa a bit more? I have a giant bag of the stuff at home now and have been experimenting with other ways of using it. Enter these muesli bars. But first, let’s backtrack a few steps..

I’m a snacker. I like to eat in dribs and drabs throughout the day, and I’ll snack on whatever is handy and convenient. If that’s a jar of cookies, I’ll have a cookie. If I come across chocolate before I notice carrot sticks, I’m having some chocolate. So, it’s in my best interests to have healthy snacks laying about the house instead. Many years ago, before fructose decided it wasn’t my friend, I used to make apple and honey “muesli bars” to snack on – the ones you buy are FULL of sugar, so I preferred to make my own healthier ones. It’s been a while since I’ve made muesli bars, though, so I had an idea to make some more – but without any butter, oil, eggs or sugar. Simple stuff.

I also wanted to create a snack that would fill me up and give me energy, and not be completely unhealthy. Something I could nibble on to tie me over between getting home from work and dinner time. Or post-morning workout before I get to work and eat breaky properly. I used the baked oats theory, and here’s what I came up with…

Ingredients:
– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1 heaped scoop protein powder (I like vanilla, but chocolate would work well, too)
– 1 cup milk (soy, almond, regular, whatever)
– zest & juice of 1 large orange
– 1 large zucchini (or 2 small ones)
– 1 cup puffed quinoa
– ½ cup sunflower seeds

Method:
1. Combine the oats, protein powder, milk, orange zest and juice in a tub, place the lid on and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, line a medium-sized baking tin with non-stick baking paper, and grate the zucchini into a bowl. Squeeze out any excess liquid.

3. Combine the zucchini with the rested oats, puffed quinoa and seeds in a large mixing bowl, and mix until totally combined and there are no dry “lumps” in the mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth out with a spoon or spatula.

5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

6. Cool in tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Slice up your “muesli bars” and store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days.

Cook this: cacao, puffed quinoa & pistachio granola

I have the most ridiculous accumulation of cookbooks at home, and at one point had started to hoard magazines, as well.

When I realised how out of control it was getting, I decided to consolidate all of my favourite recipes from my magazines into smaller collections; I went out and bought a few large spiral notebooks and went through my magazines, cutting out the recipes I actually liked and thought I’d cook. I stuck them into the notebooks, and they now sit in a nice, neat little pile on my bookshelf.


I go through them every few weeks to find inspiration and ideas I’d forgotten I’d collected, and found some new breaky inspiration in one of my books last week; a Donna Hay granola recipe, using puffed quinoa, which I’ve been wanting to try adding to my breakfast oats for a while now.

I made a few changes to suit my tastes and pantry supplies, and ended up with an incredible mix, and the perfect way to enjoy a chocolatey breakfast without the extra sugar and calories – happy!

 

Ingredients: (makes 1 large jar)
– 1/4 cup cacao powder
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 2 cups puffed quinoa
– 2 cups rolled oats
– 100g pistachios, roughly chopped
– 1/4 cup chia seeds
– 1/2 cup cacao nibs
– 1 cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a large oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Heat the cacao (or cocoa) powder, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, gently mixing until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat to cool a little.

3. While that cools, combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to coat and combine.

5. Spread the mixture over the oven tray, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, mixing it around every 5 minutes or so to ensure it cooks evenly.

6. Cool completed on the tray, and store in an airtight jar or container 2 – 3 weeks.

Cook this: one pot quinoa fish pilaf (from the Simplicious cookbook)

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As promised yesterday, I’m sharing today my Tuesday night fish pilaf dinner, which I cooked from Sarah Wilson’s Simplicious cookbook 🙂 I love this recipe – it was SO easy it’s almost not even a recipe, which is what I like midweek when I’m knackered from work, want something made from scratch, still healthy, but can’t be bothered with anything fancy or complicated with 50 ingredients and steps. Enter Simplicious. 

To save me re-typing, I did follow the recipe in the book below, with my only changes being:


1.  I used vegetable stock from the packet (I know, totally against her theory, but I already had it and it would have been wasteful to throw it out and make it from scratch!
2. I added in some extra veggies in the form of capsicum
3. I used a basa fillet and a squid tube from our local market – they were both enormous so this made 4 serves (yay for leftovers!)
4. For the herbs/spices, I used fresh coriander and mint, and a mix of dried smoky paprika, turmeric and cumin
5. I added toasted almonds at the end so they’d be nice and crunchy

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Changes I’d make next time would be to add some more salt and coriander through the quinoa, and use about a third of the stock the recipe called for. The fresh herbs and lemon juice were an absolute must to give it flavour; I’d probably be using some stronger herbs and spices on the seafood, too, to give it bit more kick. All in all, great quick & easy mid-week meal, and a fantastic way to add seafood to your diet  little more regularly.

Cook this: quick & healthy – tuna quinoa tabbouleh

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This isn’t even cooking, it’s so easy. I made a batch of this salad for lunches this week – it took next to no time, didn’t cost a heap, easy to take to work with you or eat for dinner after a long day when you can’t be bothered making anything, it’s healthy, gluten-free, low fat, protein rich, low fodmaps… I mean, what else do you want?!

To make 4 serves, you’ll need:
– ½ cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked to packet directions (I do 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, for 15min).
– 2 large tomatoes, diced
– 1 large cucumber, diced
– 1 large red capsicum, diced
– ½ bunch parsley, chopped
– spring onion, red onion or shallot, what ever you prefer and as much or as little as you want
– tuna – I prefer Sirena tuna in oil – Italian style, and I use a 425g tin, drained.

So all you really have to do once you’ve cooked your quinoa and chopped your veggies, is to combine them all in a large bowl with a sprinkle of salt, then drain the tuna and add that in. If you’re serving it straight away, stir through some fresh lemon juice. If not, do as I do for work lunches and pack half a lemon to mix in when you’re ready to eat it.

SO EASY! Enjoy 🙂