Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Greek-style lamb and eggplant bake

I mentioned last week that I am now on the lookout for some new recipes that I can cook that will meet my requirement for healthy foods and my son's requirements for tasting good. I have borrowed a number of books from the library and tried a couple of new recipes so far. In both cases I thought that the food was quite good. Unfortunately, the boy wasn't quite as keen but I am not sure if that is just that it takes him a little while to get used to new foods or if he really, really didn't like it. I guess that at some point I will need to try making it again, if for no other reason that this is one that can be frozen and so will be good to have there for those times when I am struggling with needing to cook something as opposed to going to buy something or resorting to less healthy choices.

I have several other recipe books to hopefully identify some other options for good meals, particularly weekday meals, to try over the next little while.

This recipe comes from CSIRO and Baker IDI Diabetes Recipe Book

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g lean minced lamb
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 eggplant* cut into 1cm cubes
2 zucchini* diced
600g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
1 tablespoon tomato paste (puree)
400g reduced-fat Greek-style yoghurt
1 egg
80g cooked basmati rice (from 80g uncooked)

*also known as aubergine and courgettes

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook the mince in two batches, stirring until browned and baking up any lumps with the back of a wooden spoon Set the cooked mince aside, discarding any liquid in the pan.

Heat the remaining oil and cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, eggplant, zucchini and 400g of the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Return the mince to the pan with the oregano, parsley , tomato paste and remaining tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then move the lid so it is half-covering the pan, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. If there is still quite a lot of liquid, remove the lid and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes or until reduced.

Preheat the oven to 180C

Beat the yoghurt to loosen then beat in the egg and season well with freshly ground black pepper.

Add the rice to the mince and vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer to a 2 litre capacity baking dish. Spoon the yoghurt sauce evenly over the top and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to stand for 5 minutes then scatter over some extra parsley.

In the book it suggests serving with steamed green vegies for a compete meal, and that if you wanted this can be prepared the day before but should be heated for an additional 10 minutes to ensure that it is heated all the way through.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Blueberry Muffins with Crispy Topping

Forgive me blogging gods. It has been nearly a month since my last post. It's not like I don't have stuff to post about, but the sitting down and writing part of the equation is what is missing.

This year has been an interesting year for me so far. I have taken some steps towards making some long overdue changes in just about every area of my life. In a lot of ways these changes are happening because it is time, or rather because it is way past time. In one crucial way, it is a change that has been kind of forced upon me.

I have been overweight from the time I was 16 or 17 years old. I started putting on weight at that time and I pretty much never stopped. Over the years I have made half-hearted attempts to lose weight. Some have been relatively successful, or at least they were until I stopped doing what I was doing and put it all back on again. I am an emotional eater with a terrible relationship with food. Time to change that.

Earlier this year I noticed that my clothes seemed to be a bit looser and so I decided that instead of losing momentum I would actually try to lose weight. And so far, so good. I have lost quite a bit and, for whatever reason, it seems to be coming off quite easily at the moment. And it is a change that I have to make because, after suspecting for some time, I finally went to the doctor and heard him say the words. I have type 2 diabetes. Now that isn't precisely a surprise, and I am not treating it as the end of the world as such, but I can't pretend it isn't there anymore or unhear the words.

One of the things I was concerned about was what am I going to cook. I have a growing teenage boy in my house so I still need to be able to cook food that both of us can eat. First stop was the cookbook section of the library where I picked up a number of different cookbooks with varying levels of success. The first couple seemed to feature quite complicated and non family friendly type meals that I just couldn't imaging cooking, but after looking at quite a few I think I have found some recipes that will be worth trying.

I also borrowed a couple of issues of Diabetic Living magazine and I have to say I was so impressed with the range of recipes and information in the magazine! I found a ton of recipes that look really tasty, are really healthy, and most importantly look like something I can cook.  I have already subscribed to the magazine and hope to find lots more delicious sounding recipes in future issues including some sweet treats, but only in moderation of course. I particularly like that each recipe is clearly marked with details on lots of nutritional info including carbs, energy and so much more.

The first thing that I made from the May/June issue of the magazine was this recipe for Blueberry Muffins with Crispy Topping. One of the big things around breakfast for me was speed. In the past if I didn't have breakfast at home I might grab a muffin from the petrol station or cheese and crackers. Now, I am either having yoghurt and berries, porridge or certain cereals and not missing breakfast. I suspect that I will be trying a few more muffin recipes going forward because it is so convenient to grab a muffin from the freezer. Yes, one of the other changes I am making is trying to be more organised.

Blueberry Muffins with Crispy Topping

Prep time 15 mins
Cooking time 25 mins

Cooking spray
160g (1 cup) self-raising flour
80g (1/2 cup) wholemeal self-raising flour
80g (1/2 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar or 1/2 cup granulated sugar substitute
2 x 50g eggs, lightly whisked
50g light margarine, melted, cooled
160 ml (2/3 cup) skim milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g punnet blueberries
Tea, to serve.


80g (2 cups) Special K cereal
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 egg white (from 50g egg), lightly whisked
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat over to 170C(fan-forced). Spray six 185 ml (3/4 cup) muffin-tin holes with oil. Line bases with baking paper

To make topping put cereal in a medium bowl. Crush slightly using your hands. Add honey, egg white and cinnamon and stir until well combined. Set aside.

Put flours and sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Whisk eggs, margarine, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add wet mixture to dry mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined. Stir in berries.

Spoon batter into muffin holes. Spoon topping evenly over batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside in tin for 5 minutes. Run a flat-bladed knife around each muffin to loosen. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with tea.

* To freeze individually warp any leftover muffins in plastic wrap. Put in a resealable freezer bag and expel any air. Label, date and freeze for up to 3 months

As an aside, I was completely thrilled that I managed to separate the egg first go. I am have never even tried to do that before and it worked first time. Go me!!

I haven't quite decided how open I want to be here about this journey I am on. Because another of the changes I am making is around trying to get my head right and I am actively taking steps to do that I am a bit emotionally fragile at the moment. I am also a bit scared that if I start "bragging" about how well I am doing that I might shoot myself in the foot. It's all a bit of on emotional rollercoaster right now. Maybe I should just post photos along the way and be done with it. Thoughts?

What you can expect is that a lot more of the recipes that I post will be diabetic friendly, lots of healthier recipes. Some will be easy, some will be obvious and others will be less so as I try to find the food that is going to be part of my future.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.