Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Rocking it Asian Style - Super Soba!

Soba, the Japanese buckwheat noodles most often served in both hot and chilled broths, appear here in a salad. They are widely available, usually sold in boxes or plastic bags in the Asian section of the supermarket. I've kept the vegetable additions basic, but feel free to put in slivered radishes for more colour or to substitute slivered green beans for the snow peas.
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 200-270g soba noodles
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

  • ¹/³ cup unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup mild-flavored extra-virgin olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, grated


  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 100g snow peas, cut into ¼-inch diagonals (about 1½ cups)
  • 1/2 bag of mung bean sprouts
  • 1 cup of shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 capsicum julienne 
  • 1 medium carrot, finely shredded (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup thin matchsticks of cucumber (seeds removed)
  • 1/4 cup of toasted cashews/peanuts/sesame seeds

  200g pork mince
  1 Tbsp sesame/peanut oil
  2 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1. Heat wok with oil and stir fry pork mince with the chilli sauce until golden brown. Set aside.

2. Bring a medium saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the salt and noodles to the boiling water and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the noodles in a strainer. Rinse with cold water. Transfer the noodles to a bowl and toss with the sesame oil. Refrigerate until ready to mix with other ingredients.
3. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the rice vinegar, oil, soy, ginger, garlic and salt until blended.
4. Add the snow peas, onion, carrot, cucumber, mung beans, cabbage and half of the dry roasted nuts/seeds to the soba noodles. Add the dressing and toss to thoroughly blend. Top with the remaining nuts/sesame seeds.
Serve cold.
-Substitute diagonally sliced asparagus, 1-inch lengths of green beans and/or mixed mushrooms.
-You can use any meat on hand - diced chicken/pork/beef etc.

This was a big hit in my flat! A real crowd pleaser!

I also found a brilliant website that is straight forward and allows you to compare two foods' nutritional content:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Pesto Perfection

So quick, easy, and–in this case–so good for you, pesto helps you make dinner in a flash. You can put it on your favourite pasta, in your omelettes/frittatas/quiches or on pizza. It is also fantastic to add to rice, quinoa, or potatoes. Spread on crackers or bruchetta, pesto makes for a super-simple but very tasty appetizer. And this particular one delivers a nutritional punch with lutein-packed spinach and omega-3 oils from flax seeds and walnuts.

All this, and it tastes delicious, too...

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, baked for about 7 minutes in a 190C oven (or in a small dry non-stick pan on the stove-top) until lightly toasted
  • 3 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 4 cups spinach leaves, packed (use can use frozen, thawed, if fresh spinach is unavailable)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, depending on how much you like it - the more the merrier is my policy!
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil/avocado oil - garlic/herb infused rice bran oil would work nicely too...maybe even walnut oil if you are lucky enough to have some!
  • 1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan/Romano
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt - I'm a fan of Himalayan salt (the pink salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1. Grind the walnuts and flax seeds together in a food processor for about 1 minute. Add spinach, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan, water, salt, and pepper, processing until the mixture is smooth.
2. To use, add the desired amount to cooked pasta, adding some of the reserved pasta-cooking water if needed for consistency.

Savoury twist to a breakfast favourite:

Pesto French Toast:

Serves 2


  • 1 large eggs and 1 white or 1/3 cup of egg whites - I use Zeagold egg whites from the chilled section by the milk at selected Countdowns or Fresh Choice Barrington.
  • 1.5 tablespoons pesto
  • 4 tablespoons trim milk or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional - I don't bother)
  • 2-4 thick slices of soft bread, preferably some herbed sour dough variety or really grainy!
  • 1/2 cup cubed reduced-fat feta
  • 2 slices of good kiwi shoulder bacon or deli ham (bake/grill/fry)
  • Smoky sauce like BBQ/Hickory 
  • Mesclun greens: e.g. Rocket/Baby spinach 


  • Crack/pour your eggs into a small bowl.
  • Add in the pesto, milk, and honey - if using.
  • Whisk until well combined.
  • Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Spritz with Canola oil.
  • Soak bread slices in the egg mixture until well saturated.
  • Cook as you would "normal" French toast. Flipping until set in the middle and well browned.
  • Serve on a bed of greens with smoky sauce drizzled over the bread and cooked bacon/ham and top that with the feta...YUM!

Here is cheaper pesto recipe - no herbs and a less costly nut/seed option...Use in all the ways mentioned above...

Spinach Pesto With Pumpkin Seeds:


  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup baby kale leaves (or more spinach) - you can often find Kale at Raeward Fresh or The Funky Pumpkin  - you could experiment by adding other green vegetables like edamame (soy beans) as a replacement too.
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (Lotus supply the yeast to selected Health 2000 stores and Liberty Market/Piko Wholefoods in CHCH

  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil - one with good mono-unstaturated fats: choose from this great infomation sheet
  • salt + pepper


  1. Roast your pumpkin seeds: 400 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes -- until browned (or dry roast on stove-top in pan) -- then let cool a bit while you get the rest of the ingredients together.
  2. Then place all ingredients except the salt + pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice into your food processor and pulse.
  3. Then start adding in the lemon juice + olive oil a bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to your tastes.
  5. Makes a heaping cup. Cover in an airtight container and store for up to a week. Or freeze.