One of the important pathways to a healthy body and healthy mind is nutritious food! In my work with my clients I often find that they haven’t been taught to prepare nutritious and tasty meals or aren’t sure what is considered healthy – there’s so much information – helpful and unhelpful – floating around in media and on social media, it’s easy to understand why. 

The good news is we do know what makes for nutritious eating for healthy adults – mostly plant based food. Personally I have a preference for vegetarian food so the recipes I’ll add here don’t contain meat. If you want to, there are several you could adapt by adding a small amount of meat. I also have a preference for melas and snacks that are relatively quick to prepare and/or can be made ahead of when you need them and refrigerated. What follows are several of my favourites.

If you have any health conditions that you need to manage through diet, make sure you consult with your GP or Dietitian/Nutritionist before trying these. Also be aware that none of the recipes are designed to manage food allergies – if you’re allergic to something – read the ingredient list carefully and chat with your health professional if necessary.

To calculate the macronutrient values, I use this website.

Here’s a tasty snack to kick off – great with your morning or afternoon tea or coffee…

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DATE and ALMOND BALLS

Ingredients:

160g almond meal (about 1 cup)

200g pitted dates (about 1 cup packed reasonably firmly)

100g (about 1/2-2/3 cup) shredded coconut

Zest of 1-2 oranges

1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom

Method:

Put the almond meal, dates, zest and spice in a small chopper/blender and pulse till it becomes a smooth paste – you can add more dates or almond to change the consistency if you like.

Roll into about 24 small balls (about the size of a large grape)

Roll in the shredded coconut

Per serve Nutrition:

Serving size – about 20g

Calories – 75 (about 315kj)

Total carbohydrate – 8.2g/ Sugar 5.8g/ Dietary Fibre 1.9g

Total Fat – 4.6g/ Saturated 1.5g

Protein 1.7g

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BEST EVER CHILLI

This is a great vegetarian chilli recipe – easy to make, delicious served with brown rice and some steamed broccoli or broccolini and you can easily vary the spiciness by adding more or less chilli powder. If you’re not sure how much chilli you like, start with none and add 1/2 teaspoon at a time.

Ingredients:

4 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Brown Onion, chopped

1 Red and 1 Green Capsicum, chopped

2 Jalapeno Chillis, finely sliced and chopped

4 Garlic Cloves, chopped or minced

1/4 cup Cider Vinegar

3-4 vegetable stock cubes

3 x 400g tinned crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup tomato paste

2 TBSP Chilli Powder

2 TBSP Ground Cumin

1/4 cup firmly packed dates (I use dates to sweeten instead of sugar)

2 tsp dried Basil

1 tsp dried Oregano

1 tsp dried Thyme

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 x 400g tins red kidney beans (or 1.5 cups dried beans, soaked overnight then cooked for 30-45 mins)

3 TBSP chopped fresh Coriander (to garnish)

Method:

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, capsicum, chilli and garlic. Stir until softened.

Add the vinegar, stock cubes, spices, herbs, tomato paste and dates and stir on high heat for about 1 minute

Add the tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 40-45 minutes

Add the beans and simmer for a further 15 minutes. If you’ve used dried beans, you may need to simmer for a longer time to get the consistency you prefer in the beans

Serve with brown rice and a side of broccoli, garnish with coriander.

Serves 4

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 342 (about 1435kj)

Total carbohydrate – 35g/ Sugar 17g/ Dietary Fibre 7.7g

Total Fat – 21g/ Saturated 4.4g

Protein – 9.7g

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SIMON’S MUESLI

This is a really tasty muesli – no added sugar – sweetness from dates, sultanas and dried fruit.

Ingredients:

6 cups Rolled Oats (not “quick” oats)

1 cup wheat bran

1 cup sultanas

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup flax seeds (linseed)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup dried fruit (pineapple, mango, banana or similar)

1 cup lightly toasted shredded coconut

1/2 cup lightly toasted almond slivers

 

Method:

Toast the almond slivers and coconut in a hot dry skillet, tossing frequently until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Combine all ingredients.

Toss and mix thoroughly

Makes about 26 x 1/2 cup serves

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 281 (about 1180kj)

Total carbohydrate – 40g/ Sugar 8.4g/ Dietary Fibre 7.4g

Total Fat – 11g/ Saturated 2.7g

Protein – 9.6g

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EASY BEAN SALAD

Beans are a great source of dietary fibre, protein and carbohydrate. They’re a whole food! This salad is super quick and easy to make – it’s great as a stand alone in summer, a snack, lunch or as a side to go with some grilled fish. Serves 8

Ingredients:

Add as many mixed leaves as you want – baby spinach, cos lettuce – I include rocket too for the peppery taste

1 tin rinsed butter beans

1 tin red kidney beans

1 tin rinsed corn kernels

1 apple diced into small pieces

1 red capsicum finely diced (about the size of the corn kernels)

3-4 TBSP sunflower seeds

2-3 TBSP linseeds (flaxseeds)

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (or some other nut if you prefer)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 diced Spanish onion (about the size of the corn kernels)

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Toss through a few chilli flakes and a little chopped coriander if you like. This can be eaten raw or dressed with 1TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1TBSP Apple Cider or Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon juice to taste.

Per serve Nutrition: (without dressing)

Calories – 330 (about 1380kj)

Total carbohydrate – 45g/ Sugar 16g/ Dietary Fibre 9.7g

Total Fat – 15g/ Saturated 1.4g

Protein – 11g

 

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QUICK AND EASY REFRIED BEAN DIP

Here’s a terrific recipe to get through that time in the late afternoon or early evening when it’s not quite dinner time but you’re looking for a snack. Enjoy this with a carrot sliced lengthways into quarters. The recipe uses canned beans to keep it simple. If you’d prefer, substitute 2/3 cup light dried kidney beans. Soak overnight for about 10 hours. Drain and rinse then put in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 2 hours till very soft. Then add them as per the instructions below.

Ingredients:

2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 peeled garlic cloves

2 x 400g cans (drained and rinsed) of Pinto, Borlotti or Kidney beans (canned kidney beans tend to be dark red and will make your refried bean dip darker in colour)

1 TBSP Tomato Passata

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Chilli Powder

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt to taste

 

Method:

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium to high heat. Cook the garlic cloves (whole) in the oil, tossing or turning frequently until they are a pleasant brown colour. Mash them in the skillet with a fork or potato masher. Add in the drained beans, passata and the spices and stir it all over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the lime juice and salt to taste. Mash with the masher or put through a blender or food processor for smoother texture. You can add more cumin or chilli if you’d like also. Add in 1/8tsp amounts until it tastes good for you.

Serve warm or chilled from the fridge.

Serving size – 40g

Per serve Nutrition

Calories – 43 (about 181kj)

Total carbohydrate – 5.7g/ Sugar 0.8g/ Dietary Fibre 1.6g

Total Fat – 1.5g/ Saturated 0.2g

Protein – 2g

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BAKED BEANS – HOMESTYLE

Ingredients:

300g mixed dried beans (I use Red Kidney, Borlotti and Black Beans – about equal amounts of each)

2tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Onion – diced finely

2 Garlic Cloves – crushed

2 x 400g tins Diced Tomatoes

1 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar

1 TBSP chopped dates

2 vegetable stock cubes

2tsp Dijon Mustard

1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper

 

Method:

Soak the beans in cold water overnight for about 10 hours.Drain and rinse then put in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 1 hour till soft. Drain and put aside. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium to high heat. Fry the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes till soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, dates, stock cubes, mustard, pepper and about 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil very briefly then reduce to simmer. Add the beans back in and simmer gently for several minutes.

Serve on a bed of rocket on sourdough bread. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Serves 6

Per serve Nutrition: (without bread)

Calories – 249 (about 1046kj)

Total carbohydrate – 46g/ Sugar 9.5g/ Dietary Fibre 11g

Total Fat – 2.6g/ Saturated 0.4g

Protein – 13g

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ZINGY GUACAMOLE

Like the refried bean dip above, here’s an easy recipe to make zingy, tangy guacamole. Great for carrots or dip a rice cracker. If you want more zing, add more lime juice.

Ingredients:

2 long green chillies, deseeded and chopped finely

1 bunch Coriander, roughly chopped

4 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped

1/8 – 1/4 tsp Salt

Juice of 1-2 Limes

2 Avocados

Method:

Pound the Chillies, Coriander, Garlic and Salt in a Mortar and Pestle until a reasonably smooth paste is formed. Stir in the Avocado and mash together. It doesn’t need to be silky smooth – a bit of texture is great. Add the lime juice till zingy enough for you.

 

Serving size – 30g

Per serve Nutrition

Calories – 36 (about 152kj)

Total carbohydrate – 2.7g/ Sugar 0.4g/ Dietary Fibre 1.4g

Total Fat – 3g/ Saturated 0.4g

Protein – 0.6g

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CREAMY HUMMUS

The secret to making this Hummus smooth and creamy is to blend the cooked chickpeas before combining with the other ingredients. Serve with carrot sticks, capsicum sticks, crackers or as a side to Falafel. Soak the chickpeas overnight before you make the Hummus.

Ingredients:

1 cup dried Chickpeas

120ml freshly squeezed Lemon Juice (strain the pulp out)

120ml Tahini (make sure it’s very well stirred before you use it)

2 Garlic Cloves – crushed

1 tsp Ground Cumin

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste

Up to 4 TBSP water if needed for consistency

Drizzle of EVOO and Ground Smoked Paprika to serve

 

Method:

Soak the beans in cold water overnight for about 10 hours.Drain and rinse then put in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 1 -2 hours till very soft. When the chickpeas mush easily between your fingers and don’t feel gritty, they’re ready. Drain and put aside to cool.

When cool, add the Chickpeas to a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. If you need to add a little water to get the consistency right, do it 1/2tsp at a time. Remove from the food processor and put aside. 

Add the Tahini and Lemon Juice to the food processor and process for about 1 minute. You’ll see the ingredients quickly become creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary and process for another 30 seconds until you have a smooth creamy paste.

Now add the EVOO, garlic, cumin and 1/2tsp Salt and continue to process for 30 seconds at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl between.  Do this 2-3 times until you have a creamy consistency.

Add the processed chickpeas back to the processor,  1/3 cup at a time and blend for 20 seconds between. When all added, blend for another 30 seconds. Add a little water if you need to for consistency.

Serve in a shallow dish with a drizzle of EVOO and a light dusting of Smoked Paprika.

Serving size 25g

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 90 (about 378kj)

Total carbohydrate – 8.3g/ Sugar 1.4g/ Dietary Fibre 1.7g

Total Fat – 5.5g/ Saturated 0.7g

Protein – 2.9g

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BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH DATE REDUCTION

This is a great side dish to go with something like pan-fried Salmon, or you can make it the centrepiece of your meal and serve with corn and eggplant fritters and some vegetarian chilli beans.

Ingredients:

1 kg Brussels Sprouts

2TBSP EVOO

3-4 cloves crushed Garlic

100ml Balsamic Vinegar

1/3 cup chopped Pitted Dates

1/4 tsp freshly ground Rock Salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220ºC.

Rinse and pat dry the Brussels Sprouts. Trim the stems and slice them in half lengthways. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper and spray lightly with Olive Oil. (If you don’t have Olive Oil spray, brush the baking paper lightly with EVOO). Lay the Sprouts flat side down on the baking paper then brush with more EVOO and drizzle a little more over them for good measure. Place tray in the over and roast for about 25 minutes. They should be darkened and a little crispy outside with soft tender centres.

While the Sprouts are roasting, heat 1 TBSP EVOO n a heavy skillet. Add the garlic and fry quickly for about 30 seconds until the garlic starts to turn golden. Add the remaining ingredients and begin gently stirring for about 5 minutes. During this time the sauce will reduce and thicken.

When the Sprouts are done, add them to the skillet and stir gently to coat in the reduction.

Serve in a shallow dish. I like them ungarnished but you could garnish with thinly sliced Spanish Onion, or Eschallots.

Serves 6

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 160 (about 672kj)

Total carbohydrate – 27g/ Sugar 13g/ Dietary Fibre 7.3g

Total Fat – 5.1g/ Saturated 0.7g

Protein – 6.1g

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SALT AND PEPPER TOFU

Like Salt’n’Pepper Squid? You’ll love this. Very easy and delicious served with some pan-fried asparagus, broccoli and red capsicum. Marinate the Tofu the night before.

Ingredients:

1 block Firm Tofu (must be firm – silken tofu will fall apart)

2TBSP Soy Sauce

3 Garlic Cloves

2/3 cup plain flour

1tsp freshly ground Rock Salt

2-3tsp freshly ground Black Pepper

1 cup EVOO

 

Method:

Slice the Tofu block horizontally then cut vertically into 4 – you should have 8 pieces. Marinate overnight in soy and minced garlic in the fridge.

Pour the oil into a small frying pan or saucepan and heat on high. The oil is ready when it reaches 180ºC. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a couple of grains of rice in the oil. If they rise to the top and start cooking, the oil is ready. 

While the oil is heating, place the flour, salt and pepper in a large ziplock or paper bag and shake to combine.  Pat the marinated tofu dry and drop in the bag. Shake to coat well.

Place the coated Tofu in the oil and cook one side at a time until golden brown. (If you’ve used a very small pan, it may cover the tofu entirely meaning no turning is needed). Remove and drain/blot on paper towel for 30 seconds.

Serve immediately with brown rice and vegetables for a tasty and nutritious dinner.

Serves 4

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 438 (about 1840kj)

Total carbohydrate – 20g/ Sugar 0.2g/ Dietary Fibre 2.4g

Total Fat – 34g/ Saturated 4.7g

Protein – 17g

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EASY PEASY BEAN CHILLI

This is just about the easiest bean chilli around!! Tasty and satisfying!

Ingredients:

2TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 Garlic Cloves

1 large brown onion

1 red and 1 green capsicum (de-seeded)

1.5 TBSP ground cumin

1.5 TBSP smoked paprika

1 TBSP chilli powder or to taste (1 TBSP makes it moderately hot for most people)

1 400g tin kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

1 400g tin pinto beans (drained and rinsed)

1 400g tin black beans (drained and rinsed)

2 tins finely chopped or pulped tomato

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Method:

Dice the onion and capsicum (make sure you de-seed the capsicum) and roughly chop the garlic. Fine dicing isn’t necessary – you can be a bit agricultural.

Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a large saucepan and toss in the chopped onion, capsicum and garlic. Stir over a medium/high heat until soft.

Add all the spices and stir for about 1 minute.

Add the drained and rinsed beans and the tinned tomatoes. Stir, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

At this point you can adjust the spices if you like. More paprika will make it “smokier”; more chilli will make it hotter on your tongue and more cumin will make it more “Mexican”.

Serve it with either brown rice or my favourite – corn kernels (frozen are easy!), dry roasted in a very hot skillet till they’re coloured.

Serves 6

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 464(about 1948kj)

Total carbohydrate – 79g/ Sugar 12g/ Dietary Fibre 20g

Total Fat – 6.6g/ Saturated 1g

Protein – 25g

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MASOOR DAL (Red Lentils)

This is a really easy red lentil recipe that can be adjusted easily for the amount of chilli you like. Red Lentils have more protein by weight than animal protein like beef, lamb and chicken. When combined with a whole grain (like brown rice or corn) you get a meal with all the amino acids that humans need in nutrition.

Ingredients:

2TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 Garlic Cloves minced

1 TBSP ginger (minced)

1 large brown onion finely chopped

1 long green chilli (de-seeded and finely chopped)

1 TBSP ground cumin

1 TBSP ground coriander

1TBSP ground turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp chilli powder (add at the end to increase chilli heat if you wish)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 cup diced sweet potato

2 cups red lentils

1 400g tin pulped tomatoes

3 cups or more of water

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Method:

Start by rinsing and soaking the lentils. Rinse well then soak in water for 30 minutes. After this, drain and rinse again two or three times. While the lentils are soaking, chop the onion and chilli, mince the garlic and ginger and prepare the spices – the spices can be combined in a single bowl.

Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a large saucepan and toss in the chopped onion. Stir over a medium/high heat until soft.

Add the diced sweet potato and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Cook for another minute.

Add all the spices and stir for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat.

Add the drained and rinsed lentils and the tinned tomatoes. Add the water – you may need to add even more later if the dal is a little thick. Stir, bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.

At this point you can add chilli powder if you wish to increase the heat.

Check the consistency – if it’s too thick, add a little more water (1/4 cup at a time). If it’s too soupy, just simmer a little longer.

Serve it with either brown rice or my favourite – corn kernels (frozen are easy!), dry roasted in a very hot skillet till they’re coloured.

Serves 8

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 231(about 970kj)

Total carbohydrate – 37g/ Sugar 2.3g/ Dietary Fibre 6.6g

Total Fat – 4.7g/ Saturated 0.7g

Protein – 12g

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FNS SLICE

This is a delicious recipe for a fruit, nuts and seeds (FNS) slice – it’s packed with seeds, nuts and fruit and has no added fat, no added sugar and is a tasty treat with an afternoon tea or coffee.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups chopped Dates

1 cup Figs

1 Banana

1/2 cup fresh squeezed Orange Juice (leave all the pulp in)

1 TBSP Vanilla Essence

1 Egg

1 cup Pepitas

1 cup Sunflower seeds

1/3 cup Sesame Seeds

1/3 cup Flax seeds

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

1/2 cup Pecan Nuts

1/2 cup desiccated Coconut

1 tsp ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking (BiCarb) Soda

1/3 cup Flour (can be gluten free if you wish)

 

Method:

Dry roast the seeds and coconut in a heavy skillet till light brown. This step isn’t essential but I like the flavour of roasted seeds.

Reserve 1/2 cup chopped dates. Steep the remainder of the dates and the figs in boiling water for 10 minutes then drain.

Add this mix, the banana, orange juice and vanilla to a blender and pulse till just mixed. Add the egg and pulse briefly to mix.

Pour this into a large bowl then add all the seeds, nuts, cranberries, coconut, the remaining 1/2 cup chopped dates.

Stir to combine then add the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Press into a greased and bottom lined square baking tin

Bake at 160C for about 35-40 minutes or until it’s a golden colour. You can use a skewer to check if you like – it should come out clean.

As it’s cooling, remove from the tin then slice into 36 pieces.

Per serve Nutrition:

Serving size – about 36g (36 pieces – 1 piece per serve)

Calories – 125 (about 525kj)

Total carbohydrate – 14g/ Sugar 9g/ Dietary Fibre 2.5g

Total Fat – 7.2g/ Saturated 1.3g

Protein 3.4g

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ITALIAN STYLE ROASTED VEGES

A tasty way to add veges to your main meal – works equally well in summer and winter! Pairs well with the Braised Beans recipe below.

Ingredients:

Variety of vegetables, cut coarsely. Use lots of whole garlic cloves for flavour – 12-15 is fine.

 

Method:

A great blend includes tomato, capsicum, potato, deseeded long red chillies, asparagus, green beans, beetroot, eggplant, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and zucchini. Don’t forget the Garlic!!

Mix them in a large bowl and add some fresh herbs – I love basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme. If you don’t have fresh, dried is fine – use 1/2-1tsp of each.

Add some chilli flakes if you like too, for extra zing.

Pour Extra Virgin Olive Oil liberally over the mixed veges (I like a strong flavoured oil)

Stir to combine well and then tip into an enameled or cast iron skillet or baking dish.

Roast in a hot oven (220C) for about 30 minutes or until the veges on top are starting to crisp up and darken.

Stir again and serve!!

 

Per serve Nutrition:

No nutrition info for this one because the amount and type of vegetable can be so varied. But, hey – it’s veges!!

Relax and enjoy!!

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ITALIAN STYLE BRAISED BEANS

This is a great main meal and goes beautifully with the roasted veges above. Packed with the real superfood – beans! 

If you want to substitute cooked/tinned beans, increase each amount by 3x

Ingredients:

3TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 Garlic Cloves

1 large brown onion

1/2 celery, chopped reasonably finely

2/3 cup dried Cannelini or other white beans

2/3 cup dried Lima beans

1 cup dried Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or Borlotti beans

Several sprigs of fresh rosemary, oregano and thyme

Large bunch of English Spinach or other leafy green

2 tins finely chopped or pulped tomato

1 litre water

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Method:

Soak all the dried beans overnight in cold water. Rinse thoroughly. Skip this step if you’re using tinned beans.

Dice the onion, celery and garlic and add to heated Olive Oil in a large saucepan. Stir until fragrant, translucent and soft.

Add the drained and rinsed beans, water and the tinned tomatoes. Add the fresh herbs. Stir, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 60 minutes.

After about 30 minutes, add the chopped spinach.

Check the consistency of the beans every so often and stop simmering when the texture is as you like it.

The braising will reduce the liquid and thicken the sauce slightly.

Serve with chopped parsley and shredded or grated Grana Padano cheese.

Serves 8 – serving size about 260g

Per serve Nutrition:

Calories – 317(about 1330kj)

Total carbohydrate – 47g/ Sugar 10g/ Dietary Fibre 12g

Total Fat -9g/ Saturated 1.2g

Protein – 16g

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