Breakfast Egg Bake

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I love egg bakes. They make it easy and delicious to pack in a big serve of veggies and protein at breakfast and can also be eaten cold on picnics. If you subscribe to a vegetable box, egg bakes are the perfect way to use up veggies that you don’t quite know what to do with. Basically egg bakes are frittatas, except that mine invariably turn out to be more like a mass of vegetables bound together with some egg. The only downside is that they take a bit of time to prepare, as I sauté some of the veggies beforehand to get rid of the water which would otherwise seep into the egg bake, but I make a big enough batch for several days and it saves so much time in the mornings.

Silverbeet, Leek & Bacon Bake

  • 1 bunch silverbeet, chopped into small pieces (kale or spinach works well too)
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 3 rashers bacon, diced
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 80g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Coconut oil, for sautéing veggies

Method

  1. Fry bacon until browned and crisp. Set aside.
  2. Cook leek, mushrooms and capsicum until they have released most of their water. Set aside.
  3. Cook silverbeet until it has released its water and is wilted. Place in a large mixing bowl with the bacon, leek, mushrooms, capsicum and parsley. Add the beaten eggs and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Pour mixture into a 9” square baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until a knife stuck in the centre comes out clean.

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Kale is the new black

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I have a confession to make. Only months ago, I was militantly anti-kale. It was too fashionable, too ubiquitous, too hipster-doofus, and too expensive. Heck, $5 a bunch was crazy, what am I – made of money?? But even I could not escape the curly tendrils of this dark green vegetation. First it made its way into my smoothies, then into breakfast stir-fries, and tonight kale pushed its way into my heart (or at least into my Top 10 favourite green leafy vegies). It did help that I scored a bunch for $2 at my local asian grocer. I hate to say it, but kale won.

Kale chips are so delicious, they should be forbidden on the Whole-30.

I followed the tips from Nom Nom Paleo. To begin, wash the kale. Nomnom Paleo said to dry it in a salad spinner but I don’t have one so I just wrapped the kale in a tea towel and shook it. The aim is to remove as much water as possible. Then I blotted them with kitchen paper. Cut off the stems and save them for stir frying. (It is ok to have a little stem in the kale chips but they are a bit tougher and definitely if you have company, the polite thing to do would be to only have leaf in your chips.) Cut the leaves into large pieces.

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Meanwhile preheat the oven to 175°C. Place the kale into a big bowl and add a drizzle (around 1 Tbsp) of macadamia oil (Nomnom used avocado oil). Melted butter or ghee would work well too. You don’t need to measure the oil, just drizzle a bit in. The aim is to have a very light coating of oil on the leaves. Use your hands to toss the kale and distribute the oil. Don’t salt them until after baking. Lay the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet (line the baking sheet with parchment if you wish; it is not essential as the kale chips won’t stick, but it will make cleanup easier).

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Bake for 12 minutes or until crisp. Don’t let them burn otherwise they will be bitter. They reminded me of Thins potato crisps, only better and totally utterly guilt-free.

Paleo Heaven: The Australian Meat Emporium

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I want to share with you one of my favourite places, The Australian Meat Emporium in Alexandria, who supply us with meat. It is a wholesale butcher which is also open to the public. The way it works is that you clear out a large space in your freezer, then hop in the car and make your way to O’Riordan St, Alexandria. From the carpark, head for the big glass sliding doors, don a parka (a must if you want to spend more than 1 minute shopping), grab a trolley and enter paleo heaven. The shop is basically a giant coolroom and the other folks you see in fluro parkas are mostly customers although the staff also wear similar parkas. After you have thoroughly chilled yourself and filled your trolley with meat, breathe a sigh of relief as you exit, hang up your parka on the rack and mosey over to the checkout, which is mercifully warm. There is also a deli onsite and a wide range of condiments. Once you’ve paid, take your meat to the friendly butchers if you would like your meat cut up. They can vacuum pack your meat into smaller portions ($1/bag).

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One thing I appreciate about The Australian Meat Emporium is that the meat is labelled grass or grain-fed, and there are different ranges to suit various price points. There is also an incredibly wide variety of cuts including cuts which are hard to find elsewhere such as beef cheek; I am always finding new things here. Most of the meat is fresh, but there is a bank of freezers along the wall selling frozen meat. Here I found some interesting bags of pork bones containing tails, among other things, and organ meat. Look out for the purple labels, these indicate great discounts on meat nearing their best before date. On my last visit, I came away with a tray of diced goat meat, lamb ribs, scotch fillet and salami.

The prices are terrific in comparison to retail butchers (eg. $5.99/kg for grass-fed beef mince) and you don’t necessarily have to buy a big bulk pack, many of the cuts are available in smaller quantities as well. Plus – and this is a big plus – you can buy crackling by itself, or rather, slabs of pork skin which you turn into crackling.

If you are in the area, some other places worth a visit are:
The Nut Shop, wholesale outlet, 20-26 Allen St, Waterloo, Ph: (02) 9319 6574
Victoria’s Basement, Cnr. McEvoy & Harley Sts, Alexandria

The Australian Meat Emporium
29-31 O’Riordan St, Alexandria
Monday-Sunday 7am – 6pm
meatemporium.com.au

Roasted Taro

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In an impulsive fit, I bought a taro the other day and it languished in my fridge for days as I didn’t know what to do with it until I came across a recipe on The Paleo Mom for savoury roasted taro.

If you’ve never seen taro before, it looks very much like something you could imagine your prehistoric ancestors digging up, and then grunting excitedly to each other. Here’s one:

It is available from asian grocers and is a very popular ingredient in Chinese cooking and desserts, although I personally never understood the appeal of taro-based desserts. There is even a taro dim sum (it is the shape of a giant rice bubble, deep-fried with a brown lattice shell). They taste bland and starchy with a similar texture to that of potatoes except drier. Some people extol taro’s “complex flavour”. In terms of their nutrient profile, they are higher in carbs than potatoes (taro has 26g total carbs per 100g vs 17g in potatoes), 112 cal (taro) vs 77g (potato), higher in potassium, fibre and calcium. Taro has a similar profile to potatoes for iron, Vitamin B, magnesium, protein and sugar.

I chopped up my taro into quarters, leaving the skin on for the time being and cooked it in the pressure cooker using the steamer basket for 7 minutes. It could also be conventionally steamed for 10-12 minutes. You don’t want to overcook it otherwise it crumbles, so I cooked it until it had a texture similar to firm potatoes. Once cooked, the skin peels off easily. I chopped it into smaller pieces and tossed it in a large bowl with melted fat left over from roasting chicken (really tasty). Sprinkle with salt and put under the grill (broiler) for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until nicely browned. The edges crisp up deliciously. My favourite parts were the little chunks of taro which had broken off as they ended up uber-crunchy.

So would I eat them again? Maybe. If you can’t tolerate potatoes, taro is a good alternative. It would probably work better in a stew-type preparation as it can absorb the flavours.

Passionfruit and Ginger Smoothie

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Now that the weather has turned cooler, the hot water bottle and winter doona have come out yet I long for summer still, so I was delighted to pick up a bargain bag of passionfruit from my greengrocer, which turned out to be the sweetest juciest passionfruit I’ve ever had. I took the opportunity to savour the last memories of summer with this vibrant smoothie.

Ingredients
Makes 2 serves

  • 70g chia seed porridge (or 2 tbsp chia seed soaked in 60g water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 passionfruit
  • 1/3 lebanese cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 small carrot, unpeeled, diced
  • 1.5 cup kale leaves
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 kiwi fruit, unpeeled
  • 1.5-2 cm knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 290g iced water
  • 1/4 cup parsley, stems removed (optional)

Blend for 30 seconds.

Image Credit

Sardines

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When I was young, my parents would often buy canned sardines in tomato sauce for breakfast, and being the squeamish fussy ingénue that I was, would carefully remove the guts from each sardine before eating it. Not only was that totally unnecessary, but in fact I was missing out on the nutrients that you can get from eating fish whole, including the bones and organs. Sardines are a great source of Omega 3 fats and a bunch of other vitamins and minerals which you can read about in the related links. As always, check the ingredients label because you don’t want sardines soaked in vegetable oils. I like the sardines in springwater from Aldi (around 70 cents a tin).

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I find sardines a bit boring to eat straight out of the can, but they are delicious in this French preparation (traditionally made with fromage frais, for which I use half yogurt/half sour cream as a substitute). You could make up a big batch and have it for breakfast, quick easy and nutritious.

Rillettes de sardines

Serves 1-2

  • 2 x 125g tins of sardines (in springwater), drained
  • ½ small red onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2-3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: chopped dill, chives

Dairy-free Version

Instead of the yogurt and sour cream, use 2 tbsp mashed avocado (or cauliflower puree) and 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.

Mash up sardines with a fork. Add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Related Links
Eat This:Sardines
How and Why to Eat sardines