Sweet Potato, Carrot and Fig Salad with Spinach, Dates and Almonds

IMG_2206This is the mother of all salads. No doubt about it. It isn’t just any old salad that you have with a steak on the ‘barbie’, it’s reserved for days when you’re feeling particularly fancy and wouldn’t mind knocking the socks off your guests, and yes, with a salad.

Please, don’t be fooled by the exquisite amount of ingredients. Like most salads this is actually very easy to make.

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Recipe

Sweet Potato, Carrot and Fig Salad with Spinach, Dates and Almonds

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 3 sweet potatoes*
  • 6 carrots, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tsps. Cumin
  • A generous sprinkling of sesame seeds
  • Za’taar ( we used Malouf’s Spice Bezza)
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs. honey (optional)
  • 40ml balsamic vinegar
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • A handful of dates, chopped
  • 6 fresh and ripe figs, quatered
  • ¼ cup feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup flaked almonds**
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • Sea salt and black peper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes and cut them, and the carrots into wedges. Place in a bowl along with a big glug of olive oil, cumin, sesame seeds, a big sprinkling of za’taar, salt and pepper. Spread the wedges over a baking sheet, top with thyme and bake for an hour. In the last 5 minutes add honey to glaze the veges.
  3. To make the balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2-4 minutes, or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken once it cools.
  4. On a serving platter, arrange the baby spinach. Top with the sweet potato and carrots, then place the onion, dates, figs and almonds on top. Finish it off with figs and crumbled feta. Serve with balsamic reduction.

 

Notes:

*We made extra carrots and sweet potato so you could probably halve the recipe if you were just using them for the salad.

**Alternatively you could use roasted almonds and roughly chop them up.

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IMG_2222This sweet salad is a fusion of two salads from the one and only Yotam Ottolenghi: the Roast Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig and the Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds.

A very generous neighbour (and also one of my friends) gave us some of their figs that were ooey and gooey; just waiting to be used. My mum had already made the Roast Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Salad before but she didn’t have figs at the time (figure that one out) so she suggested that I give it a go. Plus we added our own spin on it, because we like to do that in our household.

We served this dish with a Morrocan Beef Tagine that my mum made, and I’m telling you, it went down a treat.IMG_2225

The lowdown:

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Before the sweet potatoes and carrots went into the oven

Sweet potatoes are a much healthier and prettier alternative to the normal potato (which are still fine when they’re not fried), and even better these are roasted with assorted herbs and spices, as well as carrot. They are also a great source of complex carbohydrates and are full of manganese, copper, iron, fiber and potassium. So you’re getting a good dose of beta-carotene, and vitamins and minerals all in a lower GI vegetable. All of which are essential for a healthy body and optimum performance.

Did you know? Beta-carotene may even reduce the risk of some cancers including, breast, colon, endometrial and prostate.

Figs, also pack a punch too, known to help lower high blood pressure, aid in weight loss, protect against IMG_2201post-menopausal cancer, protect against macular degeneration, etc., etc.

Did you know? Way back in 60 A.C (a.k.a ancient Greek times) Plato promoted the fig as an ideal food for athletes. This is probably because dried figs boast an enormous 60% of natural sugars. There’s even a story that the Greek government at the time forbid the export of any figs so they could have a successful outcome at the Olympic Games.

Tanisha xx

Sources:

http://www.thefruitpages.com/figs.shtml

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=24

Spiced Apple Pie Muffins

IMG_2182Thank the gods for Sally’s Baking Addiction! That woman is the queen of baking in my mother’s world (and mine, too), just as Jamie Oliver is the King of Savoury. My mum happened to stumble across her delectable blog a few months ago and the days have gone by in a blur of sublimely sweet cheesecakes, melt-in-your-mouth muffins and heavenly, chewy biscuits….yep, life couldn’t get any better. But wait, it just did: not only are these muffins sensational in taste and texture but they are HEALTHY, of course. IMG_2185 Recipe

Spiced Apple Pie Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

Muffin –

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup almond milk (or soy or regular)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp fat free apple yogurt* (or vanilla or plain)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 heaping cups chopped apple (cored + peeled, if you prefer peeled chunks – I did not peel mine)

Oat Streusel topping –

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220C. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Prepare oat streusel topping by mixing everything together until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Set aside.
  3. Prepare the muffins: in a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together the milk, sugars, yogurt, apple sauce, eggs, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Gently fold wet mixture into the flour, stirring until *just combined* – do NOT over mix. Gently fold in the apples.
  4. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin tins, making sure each one is filled to the very top.  Sprinkle reserved oat streusel topping over each muffin.
    Bake for 5 minutes at 220 degrees, then immediately reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees and bake for another 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover leftover muffins tightly and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. Muffins may be frozen, up to 2-3 months.
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Source: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/05/14/sky-high-apple-pie-muffins/

Mum suggested I make these last night to take to athletics tomorrow morning so I gave it a go and they did not disappoint. I have already had 3 today and they were only made late last night so if that is not good enough proof that they are good then I don’t know what is.

Now, you may have heard this before but many commercial muffins found in bakeries, shops, cafes etc. are loaded full of sugar, butter, oil and white flour, so they are not the most ideal meal for a breakfast on the go. And as Sally said in her blog post: baking them yourself makes your apartment/house smell even better, as well as the obvious added health benefits so nothing is missed.

These muffins are also great as a snack to replenish your 10am/3pm cravings, or just before or after exercise to boost your energy levels. After a hard training session or competition we should always aim to have something small to eat like a banana, muesli bar, this muffin etc. within 30 minutes to re-feed our muscles and body in general. Even I find this really hard to do because I always seem to loose my appetite after exercising but with snacks like these within arms reach, who could resist!

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Before the muffins went into the oven

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These muffins are high in energy and full of healthy ingredients such as oats, apple, cinnamon, yogurt, almond milk and whole wheat flour (to name a few) so they wont leave you feeling deprived or, on the other hand, too full. They do have a little bit of refined sugar and butter in them, which I try to avoid on most occasions but in the scheme of things a little bit can go a long way. We all deserve a treat!

I changed the recipe up a little bit (as usual) by adding caramelised fig yogurt instead of plain vanilla or apple (only because we had none) and it didn’t really make much of a difference to the taste. I also had to use the vegetable oil as I didn’t have the apple sauce but sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the name of food or lack of, should I say. You could probably also experiment with the different types of fruit. I would recomIMG_2194mend pear, peach, nectarine, plum or apricot

Anyways, that’s all for today so have a good day and treat yourselves to something from the Queen of Baking a.k.a Sally’s Baking Addiction, you will not regret it.

Tanisha xx

Vegetable and Bean Ragout with brown rice

IMG_2092If there was an award for a combination of the most delicious, YET healthy meal then this one’s no doubt a winner. The amount of vegetables in this fine concoction is rather ridiculous and yet it still tastes better then any Macca’s burger with a side of fries (not that I would know or am biased). You could probably get away with eating no vegetables at all for the next few days and you’d be perfectly fine!

So I’d like to do a massive shoutout to iRun for providing me (and everyone else who uses their website) with this, and other amazing meals that fit into the lifestyles of budding athletes and co. This recipe is no.9 in the top 10 meals for distance runners, and is the 3rd meal I have made out of the series; all of which have been a success.

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Recipe

Vegetable and Bean Ragout with brown rice and steamed greens

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp grated fresh ginger  
  • 1 diced onion    
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 diced sweet potato
  • 1 diced red capsicum
  • 1 diced zucchini   
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)      
  • 2x400g cans Four Bean Mix*
  • Handful of kale, shredded    
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • A handful of spinach
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika      
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric  
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley    
  • Salt and pepper to taste  
  • 1 cup of steamed brown rice to serv

Method:

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion and carrot and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add sweet potato and continue to sauté for a further 3 minutes.
  • Add the smoked paprika, ground cumin and turmeric. Allow spices to coat vegetables before adding red capsicum, tomato, zucchini, asparagus, garlic and drained Bean Mix.
  • After a few minutes add 300ml of water and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
  • Lastly stir in kale, spinach, parsley, brown rice and season to taste.

 

Notes:

* Or whatever beans you have on hand. I used 1 tin of black beans and 1 of cannellini beans.

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I slightly changed the recipe to suit to my own needs but I would highly recommend the original recipe (which can be found here: http://irun.org.au/News/no9-vegetable-bean-ragout) or even switching it up yourself to your own likes and dislikes because, really you could probably add just about any vegetable in it and get away with it.

Before I made this dish for my family I was expecting it to have a bit of a Moroccan/Middle Eastern taste to it, yet this was not the case, and boy did it not disappoint. The texture was a creamy, risotto-like consistency, which would make the perfect comfort meal for the harsh winter months, along with a warming Mexican spice to top it off. The perfect balanced vegetarian meal for those of us who like to run a few extra kilometers then most!IMG_2102

In the words of iRun:

“In the second in our series of 10 top meals for distance runners, we give you a healthy vegetarian option with plenty of carbohydrates and protein.

This ragout is packed full of veggies and high-fibre beans providing the body with a bountiful source of carbohydrates and protein.

It is an excellent way to add extra veggies into your diet and the benefits are plentiful.

Sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, red capsicum and kale provides a rich source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene     which is a powerful antioxidant (oxidation within the body can start a chain reaction leading to cell damage).

Red capsicum, pumpkin, broccoli provide an excellent source of vitamin C another much needed antioxidant which may subsequently reduce muscle soreness (great for recovery). Remember to cook lightly to retain more Vitamin C.

Broccoli, bok choy and kale are great sources of vitamin K which helps support bone strength and health. As well as       being good sources of iron so important for energy levels.

Beans are a Low GI food that are an excellent plant source of iron (good for runners, as deficiency can lead to fatigue), zinc, fibre and folate and low in fat.

Tips for runners:

A better choice of rice is brown rice, which provides a greater source of several B group vitamins (all important with energy production) and many minerals such as manganese, selenium, copper and magnesium. Brown rice is also lower GI than refined white rice.

Anti-inflammatory properties are gained with the inclusion of some herbs and spices. This is true especially with, ginger, turmeric and garlic, much needed after a solid training session. Add herbs at end of cooking or as a garnish.

In the week leading up to your big race avoid overly spicy and high-fibre foods as they may lead to gastrointestinal issues and discomfort during your race. “

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Again, many thanks to iRun! for providing us with the goods.

Tanisha xx

Healthy Potato Salad

Just a quick post today: I present to you a healthified version of the good old potato salad that isn’t drowned in mayonnaise from the one and only….(drumroll please) Jamie Oliverrr! This man just keeps getting better and better.

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Recipe

Potato Salad

Serves 4 (as a side)

Ingredients:

500g baby cream delight potatoes*

2 rashers bacon

2 tbsps natural (Greek-style) yogurt

½ bunch flat-leaf parsley

½ bunch mint

Salt and pepper

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Boil the baby potatoes in salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until soft but still holding their shape. At the same time, fry the bacon in a small pan over a medium heat until golden and crispy on both sides. Put the bacon on some paper towels once cooked.
  2. Drain the potatoes and let them steam-dry for a few minutes. Pick the leaves off your herbs, then put the yogurt, parsley and mint leaves into a serving bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Grate in the zest of 1 lemon and squeeze in the juice then add a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze some of the potatoes between your thumb and forefinger until they burst open a little then toss all the potatoes in the dressing. Break over the crispy bacon then serve.

Notes:

*If you don’t have baby potatoes, don’t stress neither did I, just replace them with the same amount of larger potatoes but boil them for roughly 25 minutes.

You could add a boiled egg or two as a nice addition

Source: http://www2.woolworthsonline.com.au/Shop/Recipe/2765

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When my mum asked me to make a potato salad for dinner the other night to go with our barbecue I happened to stumble upon this recipe from Jamie Oliver so I thought I’d give it a go (that man can do no wrong when it comes to food in our household!). It was also a great way to use up the overabundance of fresh herbs we have growing in our garden (especially mint).

The lowdown:

Potatoes get a pretty bad rap but that’s mostly due to their rather well-known creation i.e deep-fried in tonnes of oil: French fries/hot chips. But potatoes don’t have to be this way; there are tonnes of other recipes that involve potatoes that are not deep-fried yet still tasty as ever. Like this one.

This salad is a great source of carbohydrates from the potatoes. But don’t back away now in fear of the word ‘carbohydrate’ because they are actually super healthy and wont make you gain 12 kilos straight away when you eat them, if you choose the right ones that is.

Especially for those of us who are fairly active, carbs are an essential part of your diet and are an athlete’s main source of fuel.

I’m talking about complex carbs, that’s whole grains galore, my friend. Complex carbs provide slow-released, long-lasting energy that helps us push the extra mile (or two). Compare this to refined carbs that have little-to-none nutritional value, are highly processed and provide a quick energy release. I’m talking white bread, cakes, pastries, biscuits and muffins; they’re fine as a treat, don’t get me wrong but eating them on a daily basis or as a meal is probably not the best thing yIMG_1935ou could do for your body.

Tanisha xx

P.S. if you would like to see more of what I eat on a daily basis, head on over to my instagram account: @eat.sleep.run.repeatt

References:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/itsonlyfood/452142414903009

Overview of Athletics States 2015

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What a great view! It doesn’t get much better than this!

Hi everyone,

"Athletics meet held on 6 February 2015"

Loving the facials!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of this post be prepared for the funniest photo’s of me running you will ever see. No joke, some of the faces I’m pulling are hilarious. Just look at this one. I look like I’m constipated!!

Anyway, so far you may have come to notice that I haven’t really posted much about my running but I have been very busy over the past couple of weeks with states for seniors athletics so I felt now was a good time to do so. This year was probably my most successful states so far and I am extremely proud of how far I’ve come so I thought I’d give you a little of a run down on how I went.

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That’s me at the back of the pack at the start of the 1500 meters. I had a bit of a slow start but I managed to catch up quite a few places throughout the run.

The state champs were held over three separate day; Friday and Saturday last week and Friday this week. On the first Friday I competed in the 1500ms and 400m hurdles of which I got PB’s! I was absolutely over the moon with my 1500m time because, firstly it was a 10 second PB (yayyy!!) and secondly, I finally broke the 5 minute barrier with a time of 4.54 minutes, which I have been trying to do for about 2 years (haha), and I also got a bronze medal too.Then, about an hour later I followed that up with another 1 second PB in the 400m hurdles and a national qualifier time. I just missed out on getting a medal by one place but I was still happy because I was pretty exhausted after have to run the 400m hurdles 1.5 times. You see, they started our race a little too early and once everyone had almost gotten around to the 200m mark we realised there were no hurdles!! The poor guy who had the hurdle trolley fell over on the track in the midst of trying to get them out of the way. So it was a pretty eventful night with one of the electricity boxes going up in flames and the firefighters having to be called. There ended up being 3 firetrucks for a tiny box (figure that one out). So I went to bed that night with a lot going on in my head but excited about what I could do tomorrow.

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I am on the right, receiving my medal for my 3kms

The next day I had my 3km race, which I got a 6 second PB and a silver medal too. I was feeling a bit tight in my quads from the night before but I managed to push my way through it, probably thanks to my 2xu pants that I wore overnight. Seriously guys, those pants work wonders; I went from being super sore to only mildly sore overnight. I was a little bit annoyed though, because I was only 2 seconds off the national qualifier time of 11 minutes but I will still be able to do it at Nationals because I medalled at states.

So back to school it was the next week on Tuesday and as usual I was bombarded with a whole heap of homework and notices about various events throughout the year. I managed to make it through the week though, but was feeling pretty tired on Friday night before my 2km steeplechase and 800 meters (which is pretty evident in the photos haha). But despite all this I managed a PB (could have been anywhere between 5-10 second PB, not really sure) and a silver medal. Then I proceeded to do the 800m (who knows why) and that was real struggle town. Before I even finished the first lap I was having thoughts about just pulling out but I kept going and finished the race roughly 20 seconds slower then my PB.

"Athletics meet held on 6 February 2015"

Watch my facial expressions for each photo, they’re pretty funny. I am the blond one on the far left by the way.

"Athletics meet held on 6 February 2015""Athletics meet held on 6 February 2015""Athletics meet held on 6 February 2015"So I guess you could say I learnt a few things over the past couple of weeks. One being, don’t pull funny faces when you’re running because the photographer will always get a photo of them, and two being, never do a 2km steeplechase and 800 meters back to back.

Now I just have to get back into training hard because Nationals is in a month, which I am super excited about because it is in Sydney again.

"Athletics meet held on 6 February 2015"

One of the few photos where I am not pulling a funny face!

For the mean time,

Lots of love,

Tanisha xx

P.S: a very big thank you to http://www.metrophoto.com.au/ for providing everyone with top quality photos that are FREE!!! (I know, even better).

Haloumi, Tomato and Spiced Lentil Salad

Salads are boring…..said NO ONE ever! And this salad’s pure existence is quite possibly the greatest evidence to this rather controversial statement.

With that being said here is the recipe to this marvelously magical salad.

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Recipe

Haloumi, tomato and Spiced Lentil Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander + fresh*

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 x 400g cans brown lentils

2 Lebanese cucumbers, chopped

350g mixed tomatoes, chopped

½ cup olives

50g mint leaves

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 lemon, zested, juiced

2 tablespoons olive oil

180g packet Haloumi, cut into 1cm thick pieces

Directions:

  1. Drain the cans of lentils and rinse over a sieve.
  2. Chop the vegetables and haloumi as stated. Combine the spices, onion, lentils, cucumber, tomato, rocket and parsley in a large bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and half the oil. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the haloumi and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden.
  4. Serve the salad on a large plate, topped with haloumi and sprinkled with lemon zest to serve.

Notes:

*Only if you have any fresh coriander lying around

**The original recipe uses rocket but I substituted it based on what was available

The amount of olives is only a suggestion

Source: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/38210/haloumi+and+spiced+lentil+veggie+salad

IMG_3160Firstly, I sincerely apologise for the minimal photos, of which are poor quality. I made this salad quite some time ago and haven’t had another chance to take some better photos of it in the mean time. It tastes so good I cant wait long enough to take a photo, haha!!

Secondly, can I just praise the wholesome yumminess of the “hero of the dish” (as my dad would say) that is haloumi!! By golly, to think that I only just discovered haloumi over the past year or so (I know, what’s wrong with me!!) is incredible. But it is by far the god of cheeses. There is nothing better than piece of salty fried haloumi to make you feel better, and combining it with lemony lentils just makes it all the more better.

This salad practically goes with just about anything and is so versatile. You could probably add baby spinach leaves to it as well. It’s up to you.

My family and I had it with some lamb and tzatziki in a wrap and it was great! I am not a very big fan of red meat and I managed to gulp down this meal with room for seconds so that says something. You could even have it as a main meal, it is that delicious.

The lowdown:

The main component of this salad is of course, lentils. Lentils are one of my favourite foods and they’re quite a powerhouse too.

They:

  • Are a healthy source of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, zinc and iron.
  • Can help lower the risk of diabetes, lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure.
  • A cup of lentils contains a whole 16 grams of fiber, which is roughly 64% of the daily value.
  • Have a low glycemic index, which keeps you fuller for longer and provide a slow, sustained release into your body. This is great for endurance sports because it gives a constant supply of energy to your muscles.
  • Are great for vegetarians as a substitute to meat because of their high protein content.
  • Also provide 87 percent of the iron men need daily (in a cup) and 38 percent of the amount a woman needs. They are a nonheme source of iron (plant) so they aren’t absorbed into the body as easily heme sources (meat). Eating them with vitamin C and meat can increase the amount of iron you consume.
  • Are cheap and easy to make if using dried.

Due to lentils being a complex carbohydrate, they are ideal for eating before a training session or competition. However, IMG_2713due to their high amount of dietary fiber some people may feel some abdominal discomfort (i.e you may need to go to the toilet – a lot) after eating them.

Tanisha xx

References:

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/lentils-workouts-2984.html

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/benefits-eating-lentils-16643.html

http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/local/story.html?id=8ec44eff-c4fa-4208-a70d-eccccc5c240c

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-lentils-4547.html