When I first moved in with B, we were babies at just 22. It was my first time living out of home so I was excited to set up home and feed my new man. It was how I showed love, it was something I was good at and something I loved to do. I also didn’t really know much (anything!) about good nutrition so our meals were light on veges but heavy on cream, cheese, oil and meat (and taste, according to B!)
Fast-forward 11 years (oh gosh we’re getting old!) and I still love to cook, still use it as a way to show my love and still think it’s something I’m pretty good at. I also know a LOT more about health, nutrition, balance and vegetables! So today on the blog, I’m sharing one of my favourite original recipes just healthified. I told my bestie about it cause she’s the one who introduced me to the original recipe and we used to LOVE making it for each other, and she laughed and told me I’d altered the recipe so much, it could hardly be counted as a healthier version of the same recipe! BUT, in my defence, the original recipes two main ingredients were chicken and sundried tomatoes and those both appear in this version! To be completely honest, the original is better (I’d be lying if I said swapping cream with yogurt makes a recipe better) BUT my updated version is still delicious and still packs in the flavour and nutrients. Hope you love it!
Healthy creamy sundried tomato pasta serves six
What you’ll need… * Olive oil
* 500g chicken breast, sliced into strips
* 2 x garlic cloves, crushed
* 1 x tin chopped tomatoes
* 1 tbsp x tomato paste
* 1 tbsp x mixed herbs
* 1 tsp x tumeric
* salt and pepper
* 1 x zucchini, sliced
* 1 cup x baby spinach, roughly chopped
* 1/4 cup x sundried tomatoes in oil, drained (place on paper towel and pat to remove excess oil) and thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup x natural Greek yogurt
* 2 tbsp x nutritional yeast (optional – I just found it gave it a cheesier taste as the yogurt can make the sauce a bit tart. Feel free to omit and add extra cheese on top if you’d prefer!)
* Buckwheat pasta (or pasta of choice) to serve
* Freshly grated parmesan, to serve
* Fresh basil, roughly torn, to serve
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Put a large pot of water on to boil for your pasta. Heat oil in a large frypan. Add the chicken and cook for a few minutes each side. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, mixed herbs, tumeric, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Add the zucchini, spinach and sundried tomatoes and cook for around five minutes.
Salt your pasta water then cook pasta according to the packet instructions then drain and set aside. Add the yogurt and nutritional yeast (if using) to the chicken mixture and stir to heat through – if you let it boil or heat for too long, the yogurt is likely to curdle and while it’s still perfectly fine to eat and will still taste great, it does alter the texture and make it a little grainy. Stir the pasta through the sauce, serve immediately and sprinkle with parmesan and basil.
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So there you go! I hope you love it! Yes, the original with extra semi-dried tomatoes, cream instead of yogurt and no vegetables is ALSO delicious but this one means you’re getting more nutrients in to your diet, more vegetables and that will make you happier and healthier all round!
Time for another foodie review! B, H and I visited Than Nuong a few months back when I was still pregnant so first of all, just a quick thank you to David at Than Nuong for being so understanding of why my blog review is so delayed!! Secondly, I’ve put in my title ‘an authentic twist’ which might sound a bit contradictory but what I mean is that it’s not like any other Vietnamese restaurant I’ve visited in Brisbane. Than Nuong offers food that reminds me of when we were in Vietnam so it’s a twist for the Brisbane Vietnamese food scene and isn’t just your stock standard curry, spring roll and stir-fry offerings.
We were invited to dine at Than Nuong in Woolloongabba and arrived bright and early as we were dining with a toddler. Staff very kindly brought H an activity pack which he absolutely loved – a great little touch that was very much appreciated by toddler and parents! Sure, he was done and dusted in a matter of minutes but those were some very good distracted minutes!
We started with the mixed entrée which on the menu, said it came with an entrée salad and dipping sauce. The only salad I saw was some lettuce underneath one of the tasters and no dipping sauce. I don’t think either of them was needed, however would advise not putting it on the menu if it’s not served. Interestingly, some of items that came on our mixed entrée plate were not listed on the regular entrée menu. Having said that, everything on the plate was delicious and the size was generous, especially for the price. Each item was really delicious and I loved the variety on offer.
There was some confusion over our drinks. The beer B ordered wasn’t available – not a problem, he happily chose something else. I ordered a large sparkling water, as listed on the drinks menu. While B’s second beer choice appeared after a while, my drink was no where to be found. We queried it with staff who informed us that they had run out and were just ducking off to buy some more. I am not precious, however would advise just letting us know this rather than leave us wondering if they had forgotten our order. A little while longer we were told they weren’t able to buy any sparkling water and would I like to order something else. I don’t drink soft drink and couldn’t drink alcohol due to being pregnant so decided against it. I then noticed there was soda water in the drinks fridge. I asked staff if I could have one of them (as it’s basically the same as sparkling water) and found it a little odd that they didn’t offer this as an obvious alternative. I realise this does make me seem a little petty which I promise I’m not, I just wanted to be completely honest with my review.
For mains, B ordered the wagu beef steak rice plate. He really loved his meal. The steak was beautifully cooked, tasty salad, well balanced dipping sauce and nice fluffy rice.
I chose the make your own rice paper rolls with chilli and coriander pork. I love the concept of making your own, they’re one of my favourite foods so I was thrilled to find this on the menu. The pork was well cooked and had a great charcoal flavour to it which I loved, however I couldn’t detect any chilli or much coriander. That’s not to say it wasn’t delicious, because it was, I just didn’t think it tasted of what was listed on the menu. The additions with the rice paper rolls were great – plenty to choose from, lovely fresh herbs, tasty noodles and nice salad additions. I really enjoyed my meal and it was extremely generous – more than I could eat but B was more than happy to help me finish the last few!
We had a good meal at Than Nuong, however a few minor tweaks to service could be made to make it a little sleeker. Also, a little more attention to detail on the menu is needed to make the delicious food even better. There are just a few little things needed to improve to make this place really stand out. It’s not your average Vietnamese restaurant, they’re on to a good thing here.
So this is fun! A foodie blog post that shows we DO still have a life despite having kids and we DO still go out to dinner (occasionally). Sure, it was mid-week and we were home by 7.30pm but we still went out! My blog used to be littered with fabulous places we’d visited and all the amazing food we’d tried yet these days I’m more about toddler recipes and celebrating when H doesn’t throw food across the dining room.
So when I was invited to dine at Louisiana Redclaw in Fortitude Valley by Chef Robert, I was excited by the offer. I brought along my lovely husband, B, a lover of seafood, and he was a very happy man!
We started with a serving of chips – a restaurant staple and so often done very, VERY poorly. We were offered a half and half plate – the sweet potato fries and potato fries. Perfect because B loves ‘normal’ chips and I like the ‘hippy’ sweet potato ones. The potato chips were delicious and coated in a fabulous seasoning – chips don’t normally float my boat but these were great. The sweet potato fries were my favourite (of course) and a must – delicious!
We asked our lovely waitress what Chef Robert would like us to try seeing as we were going to be reviewing, and he sent out chilli soft-shell crab sliders. I can see why these are a crowd favourite, the sauce is delicious and the crab is incredibly generous for a slider. I’m not the hugest soft-shell crab fan so B happily polished half of mine as well as all of his!
For main, we came for their signature Louisiana seafood boil. Something I’d never tried before, a seafood boil is a traditional Louisiana dish that features crustaceans boiled in fragrant broth with corn, potato and sausage. We enjoyed the Louisiana Redclaw classic platter with Red Claw Signature Zing sauce – spiced medium. It. Was. HUGE.
Packed full of clams, mussels, crayfish, snow crab and colossal prawns, the platter was heaving with seafood. Everything was incredibly fresh and very good quality. Too often seafood platters have average seafood but you can tell the Redclaw team are passionate about fresh and the best possible quality. My favourite was definitely the prawns and B couldn’t get enough of the crayfish. You need the bread to mop up that delicious sauce – it was garlicky without being overpowering and spicy without leaving a lasting burn – a fine balance which Chef Robert absolutely nails. I don’t think the chilli jam was necessary on the side of the bread because the sauce in the platter was so damn good! I’d have loved more sausage in the broth, it was really good and I accidentally ate both pieces, leaving none for B to try!
The bibs and gloves are a fun addition to dinner but also very necessary! Note, do NOT wear white when you visit!!
We had an absolutely terrific meal, the staff were very friendly and attentive and the kitchen features a chef who understands balance of flavours and the importance of fresh, delicious seafood. It’s not a cheap place but you pay for quality and quality is certainly what you get. It’s a great restaurant with a unique-to-Brisbane foodie experience and one I can highly recommend.
Our meal was courtesy of Louisiana Redclaw. Thank you to the team for having us!
Dinner time at our house has become a bit of a challenge. H sometimes eats everything on his plate and the next day he’ll chuck what I thought was his favourite meal all over the floor (usually on the day our cleaner has come – drives me up the wall. And yes, I realise this is a massive #firstworldproblem!) Sometimes he goes to bed with a full tummy, other nights he won’t eat a scrap of dinner. So when I find a meal he loves (and happily eats more than once), I am STOKED and am often shouting about it on my insta – this is one of those times.
Lasagna cups – yes, I could just serve ‘normal’ lasagna but sometimes I like to mix it up for H and get him excited about a new meal. Lasagna is also a perfect meal to sneak in loads of hidden veges (even if he always manages to find the spinach and pick it out, “Yucky ‘pinach. Yucky!”)
Vege packed lasagna cups Makes approximately 12 lasagna cups
What you’ll need… for the mince 2 x tsp olive oil
1 x brown onion, finely diced
2 x cloves garlic, crushed
250g x beef mince
1 x carrot, grated
1 x zucchini, grated
2 x cups spinach, roughly chopped (you can use whatever veges you have on hand)
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
1 x tbsp tomato paste
2 x tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
200ml water (optional)
for the cheese mix 250g x ricotta cheese
1 x egg
everything else 1 x pkt fresh lasagna sheets (I used Latina brand)
½ x cup parmesan, grated
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In a frypan, heat your oil then add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the mince and break up any lumps, cooking till brown. Add the carrot and zucchini and cook for a few minutes. Add the spinach, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper and allow to simmer for around 30mins (longer is better but not essential). Add splashes of water if the mixture starts to dry out – usually only if you’re cooking your mixture for a long period of time.
Preheat your oven to 180o. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and egg. Grease your muffin tins with spray oil if you’re not using silicon molds. Cut each lasagna sheet in half and gently press into muffin tins to form a cup. Place beef mixture in to the lasagna cup, top with a spoonful of ricotta mix and sprinkle with parmesan. You can trim the edges of the lasagna cups if you like, or just spritz with a little spray oil as they will go crispy in the oven.
Bake in moderate oven for around 15-25mins, depending on your oven – just until the cheese has melted and the lasagna sheets have crispened up.
Serve with a little side salad – delish!
These can also be frozen so make in bulk and keep some handy in freezer for those nights when you just can’t be bothered for you AND your kids!
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Let me know if you make this recipe and if your little person likes them too! Tag me on instagram@lifelovetravelfood if you do try them! Also, if you have any foodie requests, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment below.
I love breakfast but it wasn’t always like that. I used to eat the same thing every day (often cereals I thought were healthy but were actually full of sugar and evil little additives) and found it SO boring. Slowly but surely, I’ve introduced new, delicious recipes into my morning routine and now, it’s by far my favourite meal of the day.
This recipe was inspired by Sarah’s Day – a YouTuber who I’m a little bit obsessed with. It’s chocolately (let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an excuse to have chocolate for breakfast?!) fills you up and it’s healthy! So here’s my new breakfast fav for you all to try.
What you need… * 500g raw buckwheat kernels (see note) * 1 cup raw nuts – almonds, macadamias, cashews, walnuts
* 1/4 cup dried fruit – apricots, low-sugar cranberries, sultanas
* 1/2 cup mixed seeds – pepitas and sunflower
* 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
* 1 cup coconut chips or shredded coconut
* 2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/3 cup rice malt syrup
Now what… Pre-heat oven to 180o. Place buckwheat kernels on a tray covered with baking paper, and roast for around 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop your nuts and fruit then place into a large bowl. Add the seeds, cacao, coconut and cinnamon. Add the cooked buckwheat and stir everything together until well combined.
Drizzle over the rice malt syrup and mix well. Give it a taste and add more syrup if you think it needs to be sweeter (keeping in mind you have the dried fruit and will probably serve your granola with berries or banana).
Place the mixture on two lined baking trays and spread out evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes (be careful not to burn it) then allow to cool completely before placing into an airtight container and store in the pantry.
Serve with milk (I love almond or coconut milk) or yogurt (or even better, coconut yogurt) and fresh berries or banana. YUM!
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If you make my current breakfast obsession (that I will admit, I ate for lunch and dinner two days in a row!) please let me know, I’d love to see your creations! Tag me @lifelovetravelfood#lifelovetravelfood
Note: I buy my buckwheat kernels from Woolworths – it’s the cheapest price per 100g that I’ve found so far AND it’s organic! Win.
A recipe by request and this is one I’m more than happy to share. In high school, chocolate brownies were my signature dish. I made them so often, I got seriously sick of them and even back then, the amount of sugar and butter in them made me feel a bit ill!
Enter the sweet potato brownie – vegan, dairy-free, wheat-free (can be gluten-free too) egg-free and refined sugar free. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it… to give you an example, I made these for my Dad, brother-in-law and husband, and didn’t tell them what was in them until AFTER they all declared they liked them. And I promise you, none of them sugar-coat their feelings about my healthy cooking – they can all be BRUTALLY honest! So let’s get to it – if you make them, please let me know and tag me on Facebook or instagram cause I’d LOVE to get your feedback!
What you’ll need…
* 500g sweet potatoes (about two medium)
* 20 dried, pitted dates (or 12 medjool dates)
* 100g ground almonds
* 100g oats (use gluten-free oats for a fully gluten-free brownie)
* 6 tbsp x raw cacao powder
* 2 tbsp x melted coconut oil
* 3 tbsp x pure maple syrup
* a pinch of salt
for the icing…
* 2 tbsp x coconut oil
* 2 tbsp x almond butter (or pure peanut butter)
* 2 tbsp x maple syrup
* 2 tbsp x cacao powder
Pre-heat oven to 180oC (fan forced). Peel and chop the sweet potato into chunks and place in a steamer to cook for around 15-20 minutes or until really soft.
If using dried dates, soak in boiling water for 10 minutes then drain and discard the liquid.
Once the sweet potato is cooked, add to a food processor along with the dates and blitz to combine. Add the remaining brownie ingredients and blitz again until well combined (mostly so the oats have combined well).
Place into a lined baking pan and cook for about 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Check them after 35 minutes as you don’t want to overcook them.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about ten minutes – don’t skip this step because the brownies need time to cool and stick together.
While the brownies are cooling, make the icing by simply melting the ingredients in the microwave and stirring well to combine. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, then into the fridge for a further 15 minutes to firm up.
Remove the brownies from the pan and leave to cool completely before icing. Spread the icing on top, cut into squares and try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.
* This recipe is originally by Deliciously Ella – I have just amended the recipe as I found the original too sweet but I definitely cannot take credit for these amazing beauties!
I am a label addict. I love my brands. Not clothes, shoes or handbags (although I wouldn’t say no to some genuine LV luggage or a Chloe handbag if one was on offer). Grocery labels. Yeah, my early twenties-me would be disgusted that I now spend more time perusing the back of tins than I do flicking through Vogue (of which I’ve had a copy on my coffee table for three months and haven’t even opened it).
Picture this – you decide to be amazing and make something from scratch so you know exactly what’s in it… until you realise all your so called natural ingredients are full of additives, stabilisers, sugar, salt and other random things. It kind of makes you wonder why you bothered cooking from scratch in the first place! Grocery shopping can be expensive and labels are SO confusing so it pays to know what you’re looking for when trying to eat healthy.
I have been a label addict for years now so I know which brands I love and which ones make me angry. Almond milk, for example, is one of the most overly processed things out there and often contains more added sugar than almonds – whaaaat?! I’m so passionate about it, once I even had a disagreement with a very snotty barista , who took offence when I asked what almond milk they used and it was a brand I didn’t like. But that’s a story for another time. And he was very rude by the way!
So, I’m here to give you just some of my favourite pantry brands and for the record, I am NOT getting paid by these brands (I WISH). I’m recommending these because I have done my research and read the labels to find the best, most natural options out there for a healthier, happier pantry.
Apologies some of the pictures are really small but if you want to read the labels in more detail, just click on the photo.
Oh and here’s some motivation to keep on reading, I’ve got a discount code for you at the end for one of my favourite brands 🙂
Tinned tomatoes – Annalisa: This is a pantry must-have for me. I am NEVER without a few tins in my pantry! Frustratingly, I have not found an Aussie brand that doesn’t contain salt, sugar or some kind of preservative so, I choose Annalisa and the best part about these is they often come on special so I stock up when they do!
Tomato paste – Leggo’s or Aldi organic: This should be 100% tomatoes. Nothing else. The brands I choose are Leggo’s ‘no added salt’ or Aldi’s organic range. Aldi features a lot in this post. Aldi is coming up with the goods!
Coconut milk and cream – Ayam: This is one of my absolute favourite brands. Just coconut and water – as it should be. I will admit, it is expensive, and have recently discovered the Homebrand version is just as good so I may be converted! And just for the record, I prefer to buy the full-fat version of coconut milk and cream – otherwise you’re just paying for more water! One negative on the Aldi front… I bought their coconut milk and cream and to be honest, I found the taste really awful. They’re good on the ingredients but not so much on taste.
Curry paste – Ayam: I wish I could say I always make my own curry paste. I know it tastes SO much better when I do, but honestly, I do NOT have the time! So, my brand of choice is again, Ayam. I can pronounce and understand all the ingredients, it does contain some palm oil and a little sugar, but all the other ingredients are herbs and spices and genuine curry paste ingredients, so I’m ok with that.
Noodles – Pandaroo: These brown rice noodles (I can only find them at Woolworths in the Asian section) are my favourite! 100% brown rice – how good is that?! I’ve recently discovered black bean noodles and sweet potato noodles – I just love when there’s only one ingredient!
Peanut butter – Sanitarium natural peanut butter: Step AWAY from the nasty peanut butters! Ugh, there are SO many additives in ‘regular’ peanut butter! Especially sugar – yuck! I make my own, however Sanitarium does a great 100% peanuts version. Yes, that’s all peanut butter should be! It’s usually found in the health food section, if it’s not with all the other disgusting sugar-salt-chemical filled spreads!
Coconut water / poppers– H2Coco: I love coconut water for smoothies and rehydrating if I’ve had… umm… a few too many drinks the night before. My
go-to brand is H2Coco, because it’s 100% coconut water and it tastes delicious. They also have flavoured varieties which are great if you like things a little sweeter (I’m not a massive fan, personally) again, all natural and no additives. I am lucky enough to be a brand ambassador for H2Coco but I PROMISE you, I was a fan before we started collaborating.
If you’re looking for kids juices/poppers for lunch boxes, H2Coco has just brought out a lunchbox range. I would never, and will never, promote something I don’t believe is good for my son, so I am happy to spruke their poppers range. H LOVES the H2Melonwater one (100% watermelon juice) and the little coconut water poppers. My personal favourite is the coffee coconut water, and for all you chocolate lovers out there, there’s a healthy chocolate one too – tastes like chocolate milk without the tummy ache afterwards!
Desiccated coconut – Aldi: Not exactly something you’d think you need to read the label of! But most supermarket brands have additives in them so I was thrilled to discover the Aldi brand doesn’t! It’s always in a bit of an obscure place, not with the flours and sugars – I usually find it on top of the freezer section.
Yogurt – Farmer’s Union or Tamar Valley: I’m a big advocate for buying plain, Greek yogurt and adding your own fruit/flavours too. Sugar is WAY too high up on the flavoured yogurt ingredient list for my liking. And this way, you’re not committing yourself to 1kg of one flavour! Add some pure vanilla, berries, banana, fresh mango – endless options and much healthier choices. The brands I’m recommending are my favourite for ingredients AND taste. Oh, and buy full cream – low-fat has nasty added sugar and natural yogurt is often very tart and not as enjoyable (but that’s my opinion!) I have recently started making my own yogurt and my clever friend T taught me how to make it without having to use the yogurt makers own packet mix so it’s cheaper and healthier – win!
Breadcrumbs: Let’s be real here. It’s just bread, blitzed up. Well, it SHOULD be. Have you ever read the ingredients for store-bought breadcrumbs? Some isn’t even vegetarian which is incredibly concerning! Take five minutes (not even) out of your day and blitz old bread in your food processor and chuck this into a zip lock bag in your freezer. Breadcrumbs on hand 24/7. Or, use oats! Oats make a great binder too.
Microwave packet rice: The convenience of rice cooked in 90 seconds is incredibly appealing. There are brands out there that are 100% rice (although most have stabilisers and salt in them), however for the amount you get in a packet, they’re expensive! So, next time you make rice for your curry, make double and once cooled, freeze it in a zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. When meal time comes, break off enough for your meal into a bowl, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil (I do this with brown rice as it can get a little dry) and zap for 60-90 seconds in the microwave. Done!
Rice malt syrup – Pure Harvest: Probably one of my favourite supermarket brands. I LOVE their products (not sponsored, I swear!) because they’re all natural. When I discovered rice malt syrup, it revolutionised my cooking and my health. I substitute it in baking for golden syrup. I put it in baking instead of sugar (and use about 1/3 of the amount of sweetener). It is amazing.
Nut milks – Pure Harvest: I have nothing against dairy or cows milk. I buy it for my husband and for H (I never buy supermarket-branded milk as the farmer’s get more money from sales on the branded milks) however for me, it leaves me a little bloated and uncomfortable. So, I jumped on the nut milk bandwagon a good five years ago and throughout this time, have trialed a LOT of bad products. My preference is almond milk, but I also buy coconut milk as it’s delicious in my greeñacolda smoothie (I’ve linked the recipe here for you!)
As I mentioned above, SO many brands are one or two per cent nuts, they have added sweeteners, preservatives and other rubbish. Sure, it’s best to make your own but I do NOT have the time, patience or $$ for that! So my favourite for both coconut and almond milk is Pure Harvest. Yes, it has a little organic rice syrup in it (they do have an unsweetened almond milk, but it has less almonds in it… I don’t understand why!) but it has the most almonds and I can understand all the ingredients!
A few more tips…
* If sugar is high on the ingredients list, avoid it!
* If you can’t pronounce or understand most of the ingredients, don’t eat it.
* For the majority of your shop, try to stick to the outside of the supermarket – fish, meat, fruit, vege etc
* Stock up on your favourite brands when they’re are on special – I have a slight obsession when it comes to this one. To the point that when rice malt syrup was half price one week, B had to physically show me my ‘collection’ in my pantry and explain that I already had a six to 12-month supply and it would surely come on special again closer to when I run out.
* Fancy trying the H2coco range? You can get 25% off from h2coco.com.au by using my discount code ‘H2lunchbox’ – you’re welcome, enjoy and you can thank me later!
This is by no means a complete list so if you have any questions about what other brands I recommend for your favourite foods, drop me a message below, I would LOVE to chat pantries (had to make sure I didn’t forget the ‘r’ in that one!!) with you!