Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

I love food. For me, cooking and baking are times to be productive and creative. I also love eating. It’s probably my favourite past-time 🙂 So here are the favourite sites I visit on a regular basis for recipes, inspiration and also for the pretty pictures…

  1. First of all I have to give kudos to Taste.com.au, NewsLifeMedia’s most popular food website. I’ve been visiting Taste for years, and some of my favourite recipes are from there (banana bread, chicken soup, lasagne, meatball pasta bake to name but a few!). I love the rotating banner they have on the homepage, which will give you some quick dinner inspiration if you need it. All the recipes are rated by users, so if you pick a highly rated recipe I doubt you’ll do wrong. Bookmark it today.taste.com.au
  2. Have you liked the Tasty page on Facebook yet? If not, where have you been?!? I picked up on it in my Facebook newsfeed, because all my friends were liking and sharing the videos. This is their Buzzfeed page. You can seriously while away hours of your life just on the Facebook page. You have been warned.Tasty
  3. The Healthy Chef – A trained chef, nutritionist, author and accredited fitness trainer, Teresa is an amazing woman. Her recipes are delicious AND healthy, which actually isn’t that easy to do sometimes. I found one of my favourite cold-weather recipes, Spicy Red Tomato + Lentil Soup, on Teresa’s website several years ago, and it’s still a family staple (but we add bacon). She also has an online store and health and wellbeing advice. And no, I don’t work for her – I just think her site is awesome.The Healthy Chef
  4. GoodFood is a bit more high-end – a bit fancier, if you will. I like their Top 10 lists (best desserts in Sydney, best pizzas in Brisbane, etc) although some of their recipes are more complicated so better for a weekend cooking session.GoodFood
  5. Not Quite Nigella – This is more a review site, lots of local Sydney eats as well as out-of-town tours. She also posts about local food tours – the best eats in different suburbs. The photos are amazing, worth bookmarking just for them!

Not Quite Nigella

What are your favourite food inspiration sites?

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

Let’s get this straight: Winter is my season. I love the cooler weather, and I love cooking slow cooked, slow roasted, hot meals. This therefore means that Summer is not my friend. BUT, this Summer I was determined to try out a few new recipes, Donna Hay caesar salador twists on old favourites, and incorporate them into my Summer menu.

First up was a Donna Hay caesar salad. Being a parent and just generally pushed for time, I took a few shortcuts. Number 1: I bought a roast chook from Red Rooster and added that for extra protein and oomph. Number 2: I also added Cardini’s Caesar Dressing. I challenge you to tell the difference between a freshly made caesar salad dressing and this store-bought dressing. It’s my go-to dressing now, and the bonus is it has less than 1 gram of carbohydrates per serve. Making a caesar salad dressing from scratch? Ain’t nobody got time for that!caesar dressing

Then the weather dipped and became slightly cooler at the beginning of December, and I thought I’d cook up a batch of my spaghetti bolognaise. I add all the vegies I can possibly chop up into teeny tiny bits (in this case: capsicum, carrot, celery and courgette…sorry, ‘zucchini’ for the non-Brits), store-bought pasta sauce, garlic, herbs, beef mince and beef stock and then I simmer it for an hour and a half. So yes, the weather does have to be cool, because it sure heats up the house! Cooking for a toddler means that you can’t add spice to anything. Or you can, but that guarantees that they won’t end up eating it. So instead, I added Cholula Hot Sauce to my own serving before I ate.

My husband will vouch for the fact that I’m a big fan of spicy food, as I keep trying to sneak chilli flakes into everything we eat (cereal excepted), and I am a new-found lover of Cholula. For those worried about the spice level, it’s hot, but the spice hit disappears very quickly, so you’re not left lunging for the nearest cold glass of milk or slice of cucumber. It has a sweetness to it that is really different to a traditional hot sauce.cholula hot sauce

It’s going to be hard, and I’m going to be out of my comfort zone cooking ‘hot weather food’ (we usually have BBQs at least half the week in Summer!) but I’m going to give it a red-hot go.

I’m planning on trying more salads than the few that are in my current repertoire, and also even attempting a Thai Beef Salad (this could go either way). It’s going to be a long, hot Summer, so stay tuned for more…

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

I know the feeling – after a day that’s dictated by your baby’s naps and feeding times, a day where you may have been covered in Vegemite-smeared hands, been accidentally head butted in the face several times and also not managed to get a single item of washing dry because of the incessant rain, or changed out of your pyjamas, the last thing you feel like doing is cooking.

Stressed in the kitchen much?

But it’s impossible to exist on eggs and toast seven days a week, take away food is expensive and let’s face it, cooking is actually quite fun sometimes (usually when you’ve prepared something and your partner raves about it).

Here are some useful tips for cooking and preparing food while you’re at home with baby. Caveat: after your baby turns into a toddler, the game changes. He/she can now run of with the rolling pin/cut up vegetables/salt shaker. All bets are off.

  • Use nap times for food prep

 When you’re a new mum, people often say “sleep when the baby sleeps”. To these people I say – are you kidding?! I was blessed (hmm…) with a baby who, after the first few weeks of life, rarely napped during the day for longer than 20 minutes at a time and I’m telling you right now – there is NOTHING more frustrating than to be woken literally two minutes after you’ve fallen asleep. It keeps you constantly on edge. So instead, I would throw on a load of washing, chop some vegies for a stir fry or curry and bang them in the fridge for later, then down a cup of tea and we’re off again on Mama duty. If your baby sleeps for several hours at a time, you’ve got time to do some food prep AND have a nap. Lucky you.

  • Use your baby’s awake times to made food prep an activity

If you do actually nap when your baby naps, well…try not to brag about it at mother’s group. It won’t get you any friends. When you and bub wake up, put them in a bouncer or a high chair, give them a toy or something to stare at and you’re free to do what you will in the kitchen. Describe what you’re doing in the style of Jamie Oliver and you can even say you’re helping your baby learn language at the same time as being a super-mum. Win-win.

  • Chop the vegies in the morning

I am an avid fan of this strategy, as I now have a toddler and food prep any other time is impossible. My husband plays with bub while I make my breakfast, lunch and dinner prep all at the same time. Hey, it means I can do some writing work when he naps during the day, so if that means getting up 10 minutes earlier, I’m in! I’ve got a good system going now, and it feels pretty normal to chop carrots, zucchinis and onion at 7.00am. Never thought I’d ever say those words.

  • Use a slow cooker

The slow cooker has been a revelation to me. Mine sat in the back of the cupboard for aaages, so I blew off the dust and tried making a chilli con carne. Success! Then I tried a beef and red wine casserole. Success! In fact nothing I’ve done in the slow cooker has ever been a failure. This was my first post about it. The concept is perfect for busy mums – throw the ingredients in in the morning, 8-10hrs later come home to a house smelling of amazingness and you have a delicious home-cooked meal. There are some awesome websites entirely devoted to slow cooker recipes, so find your faves and embrace it.

  • Find extremely generous family & friends who invite you over for dinner

Everyone’s super-helpful when you first give birth, bringing food with them when they visit (well, the good visitors do anyway), but weeks and months afterwards, the freezer supplies start drying up and you’re faced with having to learn how to multi-task, babe in arms. Why not forego this entirely and cosy up to your parents every Sunday for a roast, or start raving about how you LOVE your best friend’s homemade quiche. It may work for a while.

And if in doubt, there’s always eggs on toast.

What are your go-to easy prep meals on those tough days?

Why do they want dinner every single night?

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

Those of us living in the Southern Hemisphere have noticed a definite change in the weather of late. Whereas only a few weeks ago the temperature in Sydney was mild now, to misquote Shakespeare, it’s as cold as a dead man’s nose.

Every year, magazines and websites recycle stories with headlines like ‘How to avoid a cold this winter’ and ‘The best flu-fighting diet this season’. I tend to read these stories with a grain of salt, as I can’t be bothered actually taking olive leaf extract and echinacea for months beforehand to build up my immunity. But as soon as a cold hits, I have my own action plan.

I can breathe out of one nostril today

So as the weather chills out and we fire up the heaters and tuck into a warming hot chocolate, here’s what I do as soon as I feel the first tickle in my throat of a cold coming on:

  1. Hot lemon and honey drinks. Buy a couple lemons, invest in some good quality honey, and just add hot water and a spoon to stir. My dosage recommendations – one large wedge of lemon coupled with a tablespoon of honey, serve 3 times a day. So much better than Lemsip.
  2. Honey and lemon drink
    Zinc tablets. Now I know I said I don’t get into the echinacea and herbal supplements as a preventative measure, but zinc tablets I take all year round. Zinc is brilliant for maintaining a healthy immune system, and has been shown in some instances to help improve skin disorders. Zinc lozenges were found to shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40% in a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal. I prefer zinc tablets over the lozenges, but whatever floats your boat.Zinc tablets
  3. Homemade chicken soup. I’ve blogged before about my favourite winter soup before, and it has certainly served me well during many winters. Hearty chicken and veg soup has nothing but chicken, LOADS ofvegies, lentil and chickpeas, and chicken stock. Oh and not forgetting garlic. Garlic is the best cold-fighting ingredient, so I always add a liberal amount to my homemade chicken soup. The best thing is that you literally just chop everything up and throw it in a huge pot and leave for 1.5 -2hrs, so if you’re already starting to feel under the weather there’s minimal thought and effort required.Hearty chicken and veg soup
  4. Spicy food. I am an all-out chilli fiend, so I adore spicy food at the best of times. A threatening cold just gives me a great reason to cook up aspag bol liberally laced with chilli flakes, or treat myself to a Malaysian laksa.Mmmm that spice.Laksa
  5. Sweat it out. As long as you don’t have the actual ‘flu, a light intensity workout can be a good way to sweat a cold out. It won’t get rid of it, but if nothing else it will leave you with a good hit of endorphins to make you feel better. Experts suggest it’s only best to workout if your cold symptoms are ‘above the neck’ (i.e. a runny nose, sneezing or a sore throat). If they’re ‘below the neck’ (chest congestion, a hacking cough or an upset stomach) it’s best to just rest.Sweat it out
  6. Lots of time on the couch/in bed. Of course this isn’t always possible, especially if you have a small child as part of your family, but the body really does need more sleep and rest to repair and heal itself, so it’s best to fit in a bit more relaxation if you can.

What are your top tips for treating a cold when it hits?

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

 

So an 8 month-old baby is hard work. I mean, it literally never ends. And we have a ‘good’ baby, one who ‘sleeps through the night’. So this is why I haven’t blogged in an age:

  • The obvious reason: no time. I have an hour or two, TOPS, during the day, in which to do things like eat lunch, pay bills, return phone calls, look for a job, take a breath, etc. Once it gets to 9pm at night, I am pretty much all done in and all I have the strength for is watching another episode of Celebrity Masterchef UK or Total Divas.

Tired mummy, awake baby.

  • I still go to the gym, but not like I used to. I have to plan way in advance when I’m going to go, make sure Rob is home to mind Harrison, and believe you me the absolute last thing I feel like doing at the end of a busy day with a crawling baby is to exercise. I’d rather a large glass (bottle) of wine and a book, but I force myself to go a couple times a week. I contemplated giving up my gym membership as I was hardly going at all in the last few months of 2014, but I realised that if I did that, I’d NEVER do any focused exercise. It does help me to clear my mind. And I’m up to 20 minutes of running now. This is almost a record for me!
It's probably me. I hope.

It’s probably me. I hope.

  • I stick to cooking easy favourites, and when I do branch out lately everything I have cooked is a failure. I tried making Thai Chicken Cakes the other day, in the hopes they would be like Thai Fish Cakes. They weren’t. They were terrible. Probably because I forgot to buy thai curry paste so used indian curry powder instead… NOT my best idea. I’m also still getting used to my gas oven (how the hell do you know when that thing is pre-heated??) so haven’t even attempted a cake yet. A blessing or a curse?
Cooking disasters a-go-go

Perhaps not quite this bad but still, not my finest hours.

BUT, I do really want to get back into blogging, and writing as a regular practice. I review films and plays over at Alt Media every now and then (in fact this is my latest film review), and I’ve realised the reason I can write those pieces but not get motivated to blog, is that I have a deadline at Alt Media. So I might just have to start inflicting deadlines on myself. Stay tuned for more soon… I hope… 😉

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x