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Immune Boosting Japanese Soba Noodle Salad

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It’s hard to believe it’s still winter here in Sydney. The weather has been just amazing with sunny blue skies and temperatures of 24 degrees! There are, however, still lots of flus and viruses going around and some crazy cold winds and even hail are apparently coming tomorrow, so it’s not summer yet! Now with this cold weather coming I don’t want to get sick and when you are around young children like I am (I teach preschool children) you need to make sure your do as much as you can to keep your immune system up and running! If I want a smooth sailing to summer too I need to do just that.

 As you are probably aware (or should be!) food is the one of the first ways to affect our health and if we eat the fresh organic variety it can have a positive effect, supporting a strong immune system. It is from good quality, nutritious (preferably organic) food that we get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed for a strong constitution.  So yesterday, with this in mind, I made a dish that compliments this great warm weather but still gives an immune boosting punch! Read the rest of this entry

Prawn Ceviche`

This is a delicious combination of prawns, roasted capsicum, coriander and lime. Ceviche` usually uses raw seafood that is cured in citrus juice. However for this recipe I have used cooked prawns. Enjoy as is in a bowl or with some crisp lettuce cups to scoop it up in. You can also serve as some delicious nibbles for a party by spooning the mixture into small lettuce cups and serving on a platter with small wedges of lime. I call these prawn tacos! For those eating grains a mix of wild and brown rice goes nicely with it too.

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Recipe

Ingredients

1 kg cooked, peeled and deveined prawns (shrimp)

1 red bell pepper/capsicum

1 orange bell pepper/capsicum

1 yellow bell pepper/capsicum

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp jalapeno slices, finely chopped

1 Lebanese or continental cucumber, seeds removed and diced

Dressing

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

1 shallot, finely diced

1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves and stem finely chopped, plus 2 extra tbsp of chopped leaves to serve.

To serve

4 tbsp of roasted macadamias, roughly chopped

Cos lettuce leaves removed and washed

1 cup mix of cooked brown rice and wild rice

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place capsicums (peppers) on a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, making sure they are covered. Place in oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the skin starts to bubble and comes away easily from the flesh.

2.Meanwhile chop prawns into 1/4 inch pieces and place in a large bowl.

3. When the capsicums (peppers) are ready remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Peel all the skin off, and remove the seeds. You can discard these. Chop the flesh into a small dice and add to the chopped prawns along with the cucumber and jalapenos.

4. For the dressing, combine the oil, coriander, shallot and lime juice in a jar and shake well to combine. Pour over the prawn and capsicum mixture.  Mix the mixture with your hands to cover everything in the dressing and adjust the dressing as needed. Use your own judgement. You might want more lime juice or coriander. You shouldn’t need any salt as the prawns will have quite a bit in them and there is a lot of flavour from the jalapenos, lime and coriander. But if you feel you do, add it!

5. Chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. Before serving sprinkle over macadamias and some extra chopped coriander. Serve as is or with lettuce cups. If you are using rice, mix it into the ceviche` before serving.

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Bitter Sweet Sicilian Salad

Bitter Sweet Sicilian Salad

I love the combination of orange, fennel and onion in this salad which often take people by surprise, especially when they find how good they taste together. I adapted the recipe from a classic salad I used to eat when I lived in Sicily on student exchange. My year in Sicily was an amazing experience that has influenced my cooking and has stayed with me even after 17 years has passed.  Food in Italy is a strong tradition that is a respected and celebrate part of home life. It is generally not outsourced to food chains or takeaway restaurants. The best food I ate there was in the home and believe me it was like eating at a high quality restaurant! It was ALWAYS handmade from scratch. No boxes or jars of meals there! For birthdays and christenings the women would gather together and make fresh pasta, gnocchi or pizza from scratch and for the staples, every year my family would buy the over ripe tomatoes from the passing vendor in his truck and cook up their years supply of ‘salsa rossa’ (red sauce) and they would send in their olives from their patch of land to be pressed into olive oil. Bread was also always crusty and warm, bought fresh from the baker every day. There were barely any supermarkets, as everyone shopped from the small green grocer, baker, butcher or convenience store. While of course it was not paleo or grain free, it was fresh and hand-made. No industry was involved only the home or small business so there were no need for preservatives and the life force was still in the food.

I was in Sicily a couple of years ago and I am pleased to say these traditions were still being followed, although there were some large supermarkets creeping in. I know these days I wouldn’t eat the fresh bread, pizza or pasta but I still firmly believe in this respect for food and the need for it be fresh and as close to nature as possible.

This salad respects these principles as it is fresh and simple to make with no grains in sight. It is great as an appetizer, as a side dish to roast chicken, pan-fried salmon or veal schnitzel or as a light meal with some avocado and shredded chicken or tinned tuna. I’d be interested in knowing how you find the flavours or maybe you have your own combination of fruit in a savoury dish? As always you can leave a comment in the comments section below.

In good health. xx

Recipe

Ingredients

3 navel oranges, segmented and juice squeezed from pulp into a bowl

200g baby english spinach, washed and dried

2 small bulbs of fennel, cut in half, core removed and thinly sliced

1 white onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Red wine vinegar

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

Celtic Sea Salt to taste

Method

1. Combine orange segments, orange juice and onion in a bowl and leave for 10 minutes. You want the onion to soak in th juice to take some of the strong onion taste away.

2. Combine spinach and fennel in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

3. Just before serving pour onion and orange mixture over the spinach and fennel and toss to combine.

4. Pour oil over salad and toss to combine.

5. Pour the vinegar over the salad and a sprinkle of salt and toss to combine.

6. Serve immediately

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