Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Week

What does Easter mean to you ?

Are you celebrating for religious reasons or enjoying the abundance and overload of chocolate eggs in food stores and the buzz of the community around the holidays this week or all of the above ?

For me as a Catholic follower Easter is about the celebration of the Christian feast of the Three Sacred Days (holy days) culminating in the celebration of our Lord's rising from the dead and the holidays and oh course the food!

What are your plans this Easter ? Are you heading away, attending a mass, having a dinner party?.

I would love to hear your stories, send us a e-mail or post a comment. Mich xx


Shaken or Stirred ?

How do you like to make your Martini's?

To me there can be nothing more pleasing then filling a cocktail shaker half full of crushed ice, topped with 60ml gin, 10ml dry vermouth and shaken. Pour into a martini glass with out the ice and top with a toothpick of lemon rind and green Sicilian olive and then start sipping generously while cooking or winding down after a busy week !

Mich xx

Julie and Julia

Five years ago i purchased Julie Powell's book "Julie & Julia - 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen" and it was a great read. The book has more detail of Julie's and Julia's life then the recent movie "Julie & Julia" which was based on the book and both true stories of Julia Child and Julie Powell. My mum took me to see the movie when it came out in 2009 and i love it and could relate to many scenes. My sister gave me Julie & Julia DVD for my birthday so on Friday night after a busy week it set the scene for the weekend ahead and i watched this great inspiring food focused feel-good movie. I got up early Saturday morning and did my usual housework and then made a weekly menu and shopping list and then it was to the shops and back home to cook most of the bases towards my weekly meals which i then keep in fridge and it only takes minutes of a evening to put together good quality, nutritious, flavoursome dinners, all of this accompanied by a martini.
Mich xx

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Agave - No More Sugar!

I have been using agave nectar for a few years now and just love it's versatility. First of all, agave is actually a syrup derived from the cactus plant. A similar cactus plant produces tequila! Agave is traditionally used in Mexico where they have been harvesting it for thousand of years - you must know by now how much I love traditional foods.

Agave has a low glycemic index so it perfect for those of you that are either diabetic or have insulin resistance. The rates of insulin resisitance are soaring and I see this in clinic on a daily basis. Check out the Glycemic index of sugar (95),honey (77),maple syrup (54) & agave (26-40) for a comparison.

When you purchase agave nectar ensure that it is organic as it is a crop that is frequently sprayed with pesticides. Buy it in glass bottles, not plastic and store in a cool dark place. I personally love the dark agave syrup as it has a stronger flavour and contains a higher mineral profile than the light variety. If you are using agave for baking then the light is more suitable. As a replacement for sugar, use 25% less agave syrup than you would normally use of sugar.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Michelle's Birthday

Thank you to everyone for all the beautiful birthday wishes. I have had a great birthday this year! A dinner party Saturday night then followed by relaxation treatment at the day spa on Sunday and yesterday i went to the Zoo and was glad to see the 12 day old elephant "Mr Shuffles" (picture left).
Enjoy Life!
Mich xx

Friday, March 19, 2010

Michelle's Tandoori Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Hello everyone, sorry i haven't written for a while, been busy with work and planning my birthday celebrations for this weekend but i have a recipe for you which is just amazing ! I made it last night and it was delicious so i needed to tell you all about it is... Mich x

Michelle's Tandoori Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves 2

2 chicken breast fillets, skin and fat removed

2 Tablespoons tandoori paste

2 Tablespoons yoghurt

Juice of 1 lemon

8 large lettuce leaves, washed

8 Tablespoons taziki dip

Fresh mint and Coriander leaves, torn

1. Cut chicken into 8 thin slices. In a bowl mix together and marinade chicken, tandoori paste, yoghurt and lemon. Allow chicken to develop in flavours overnight or up to 3 days.

2. Place marinated fillets onto a baking tray and roast in a hot oven 210ºC for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

3. Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter, top each leaf with yoghurt, then a slice of chicken and top with mint and coriander.

4. Eat immediately by wrapping lettuce leaf around filling.

Enjoy this weekend !

Words and text by Michelle Thrift copyright 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thai Style Chicken Larb

Larb is a spicy minced-meat salad found on menus in most Thai restaurants. Recipe varies in each region of Thailand and generally contains a lot of sugar and oil. My recipe is light in fat and has no sugar added but still has big bold fresh flavours of Thailand cuisines.

Thai Style Chicken Larb
Serves 2
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 x 5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 red chilli, finely chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
500g lean chicken mince (*Note: turkey mince can be used and has less fat)
1 lime, juiced
1 baby cos lettuce, leaves broken apart
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup coriander leaves
50g peanuts, chopped
50g cashews, chopped

1. Heat oil in a large frypan and saute onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, kaffir leaves and chicken over a medium to high heat, stirring, until mince changes colour and starts to brown approx 5-7 minutes. Add lime juice and cook for another minute. Spoon cooked mince into a bowl.
2. Pile lettuce onto a large serving platter and arrange mint, coriander and nuts into small bowls.
3. At table, spoon mince into lettuce leafs, top with herbs and nuts.

Happy Cooking !


Picture and words by Michelle Thrift copyright 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quinoa - My Fav Ingredient

First of all, this is pronounced keen - wah, not kwinoa. Really important that we avoid shop assistants hiding their guffaws at our mispronounced requests!
Although actually a seed, quinoa is most commonly considered a grain and is a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard( think cancer fighting here!). It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas." I consider it one of my key Super Foods and eat it at least 3 times a week.

Quinoa is high in protein (12-18%), 50% higher than wheat. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. This means it takes less quinoa protein to meet one’s needs than wheat protein. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.

It is a good source of dietary fibre and phosphorus; is high in magnesium and iron; is a good source of vitamins A, E and B; and contains more calcium and fat than other grains. Quinoa is also gluten-free and extremely easy to digest. Usually a Fair Trade product this means that the people growing the crop are paid a fair price for their hard work - much more ethically responsible!

My cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice. Soaking helps quinoa to cook evenly and loosens up the outer coating of saponin, which can give a bitter taste if not removed. I find that if you are buying boxed quinoa, as opposed to loose, it is generally already rinsed. Dry pan fry it for a few minutes to enhance the nuttiness. Bring two cups of water to boil with one cup of quinoa, cover at a low simmer and cook for 7 - 10 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. Ensure that you fluff the quinoa with a fork before serving. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta).
I particularly love the red variety and as it is higher in iron it is a better choice for me. I love it done with some zested lemon rind, fresh parsley from my garden, some of my mum's extra virgin olive oil and lastly some Himalayan salt. Add to this a beautifully grilled snapper fillet and you have one of my favorite dinners! Or I make a quinoa flake porridge with raspberries in winter. Let me know how you like to use quinoa and share your favorite recipe!
Love Emm

Friday, March 5, 2010

'The Cook and The Chef'

My mum and dad gave me as a present the boxed set DVD's of 'The Cook and the Chef -Four Seasons'. These DVD's centre around produce from each season and feature Australian cook Maggie Beer and Executive Chef Simon Bryant. These two are very inspiring, making healthy fresh recipes from mainly using Australian organic local produce. I am currently finishing to watch Summer and now will start on Autumn for recipe ideas. Mich xx Words by Michelle Thrift copyright 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 28 of Detox - I did it!

It's been a few days since I blogged - I was birth support for my friend and we now have one more gorgeous soul in this world. It was an incredible experience for us all and bub is so beautiful!

I only just realised that today is officially my last day of detox – 4 weeks gone! I actually feel so good I may continue until the weekend, which is another 5 days. I have a dinner engagement on Saturday and I know I will have a couple of glasses of wine so detox has to end by then.

“Retoxing” must be done carefully and it is a perfect opportunity to test what foods agree with your body. So, post detox, reintroduce a new food e.g. wheat, and watch your body for 4 days. Do not introduce any other new food in this 4 day period. Look for signs such as bloating, indigestion, change in bowel habits, headaches, itchy skin or perhaps the return of symptoms that you had pre-detox and haven’t felt after week 1. Any foods that give you reactions indicated that your body does not digest them well, you may have an intolerance or simply it does not agree with you at this point in time.

If you are aiming for optimal health, not average health, then you will need to avoid these foods until after your next detox. By then, try a small portion of it and you should be fine. It really helps to keep a journal during a detox and write a summary at the end. All my patients email me food diaries on a weekly basis as well so that I can support them through any food difficulties.

The Reiki course today was fantastic – it was very practical and involved meditation style exercises which I loved. I won’t go too much into it but I have a lot of support from other realms and sometimes that is easy to tap into and other times it feels blocked. Well, today was an easy day and I could actually feel and hear the energies at play. My third eye opened and I felt an incredible vortex of energy – I do believe that humans have only just touched the surface of their energetic abilities.

I do need to remember to meditate more – I learnt transcendental meditation as a child and did this for years so I can quite easily access that serene internal space. I have been working on my spiritual path for many years and it is something that I find integral to development.

Now that detox has officially finished, let me think about how I feel. Physically, my goal was to improve my fitness and I have definitely achieved that. The regular gym sessions have me toned and feeling really strong and grounded. I actually had a BioImpedance Analysis done and compared it to my last one 14 months ago. I have lost 5cm around my waist, dropped 3kg pure fat and increased my muscle mass by 2kg! I am ecstatic about that result! I didn’t want to lose weight but I am happy to see my stats shifting to a healthier long term profile.

Mentally I feel incredible and this is what makes detox so addictive for me! I can stay up late, get up early, feel fantastic and my neurons are firing beautifully all day long without a lapse. I do believe that we don’t utilise our potential mental abilities nearly as much as we should – they say that Einstein only used 12% of his brain capacity!

Spiritually I feel very grounded and in tune with myself – my intuition is much clearer. It is like looking through a clean window as opposed to a dirty one. Always watch your dreams while detoxing as your subconscious will talk to you quite clearly through them. The more you listen to this little inner voice of wisdom the more your intuition will become clear to you.

So, I want to say thank you for walking this journey with me and keeping me company. I have loved sharing this with you and I hope that it inspires you to begin your path towards optimal health. I have given you an insight into how life looks whilst on my detox program and how I manage with food, exercise and life’s busy demands. So, now you know the easy way why don’t you go to my website, join in the fun and begin your way to better energy, brighter skin and a more youthful you!
Love Emma

'Sex and the City'

OK - who can confess that they were hooked and watched TV series 'Sex and the City' and we can't forget the movie? Over the past couple of weekends i have pulled out my entire collection of S1-S6 and watched every episode of the four thirty something girls experiences of a city full of relationships in the 90's. To me i especially enjoyed following the four girls life journey's as i can relate to many subjects but i also had pleasure in watching the amount of cosmopolitans and martini's that were consumed during the series. Including but not limited too the amount of scenes that centre around food, whether it was eating at a fine dining restaurant or cooking a meal at home or baking muffins, or eating take-out around the TV, or having a picnic in the park, having a piece wedding cake, or a cupcake for afternoon tea, there sure was a lot of food filmed and it was so nice to see that food played such a role within the girls everyday lives. I sure would have loved to be one of the food stylist's for this gig !!
Mich xx

Words by Michelle Thrift copyright 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Michelle's Lettuce Tacos

I am preparing for dinner tonight a very special recipe which is "Lettuce Tacos". Mum use to make variations of this recipe for us growing up and I recently discovered a similar recipe in print from Jane Kennedy's Fabulous Food, Minus the Boombah Cook book which inspired me to share my version which i think is fabulous! You still get all the wonderful spicey flavour from the mince but mix it with crisp lettuce, a little grated cheese and finely chopped tomatoes and you'll feel like your in Mexico except without the fat and calories of corn-based shells.

Michelle's Lettuce Tacos
Serves 2
1 tablespoon cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeds optional)
350g lean mince (Your choice of either beef, chicken, turkey, veal or pork)
1 x 375g bottle home-made or premium pasta sauce
1 baby cos lettuce, washed, leaves broken apart
60g cheddar cheese, grated
1 x large tomato, chopped
1. Heat oil in a large frypan, saute onion and chilli until soft. Add mince and brown until cooked, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in pasta sauce and 500ml water and cook for 10 minutes until sauce is thick.
3. Arrange lettuce leaves on large serving plate, spoon mince into a bowl and place cheese and tomatoes into serving dishes. Then at the table spoon tablespoons of mince into cos lettuce leaves and top with cheese and tomatoes.
TIP: use other lettuce's of your choice make sure leaves are large enough to hold a couple of tablespoons of mince and toppings.
Enjoy - you won't look back!
Happy Cooking - Mich x
Words and picture by Michelle Thrift copyright 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Season of Autumn

What a special past 16 days we have had with Vancouver Winter Olympics. My brother's family live in Vancouver and have been lucky enough to attend some events - they even won tickets and touched a gold medal!..I spent most of my Sunday with an eye on ice figure skating - how graceful they glide along, i had such joy watching TV yesterday. Well, today is 1 March and for me this is one of my most favourite months of the year as it is both my sisters and mine birthday month. My sister turns 40 on 19 March and I am turning 33 on 22 March just 2 days apart, our preparations are underway for a month of celebrations...This morning i woke up early and went for a walk at drawn and realised that with the start of a new season; March- Autumn - we will be looking for figs, nashi, beans, celery, chestnuts, grapes, leeks, parsnips, pears, plums, sugar snap peas, pumpkins and fennel all at peak taste and quality and just waiting to be cooked with and eaten. Enjoy cooking good food tonight! Words by Michelle Thrift copyright 2010.