Category Archives: low glycemic index

Recipe: Ratatouille for a ratty week

Taking a break from the travel diaries to write down a recipe that has been a bit of a lifesaver for me this year.  It tastes like comfort food, it’s full of vegetables, it creates copious leftovers, and it takes maybe ten minutes of preparation time.  Probably less, really.  And because the vegetables are all soft, I can even make it when my wrist is acting up and doesn’t want me to chop things. 

You can serve it with all sorts of things, really.  It goes with bread and hummus (or you can fling some chickpeas in to bake with the rest of the ratatouille), or grilled haloumi (which you can also chop into chunks and throw in to bake for the last ten minutes); with roasted or boiled potatoes and felafel or grilled fish or chicken; it’s great over giant couscous (again, with chickpeas), or stirred through pasta, or even made into a bake with bocconcini and more pasta. 

You can serve it hot, or warm, or at room temperature.  Tonight, I’ll be serving it hot with some little pies from Zaatar – lamb, and haloumi, and spinach.  And probably with some roast potatoes because everything is better with roast potatoes, especially when you are eating super late because it took nearly two hours to get home from work and your husband hasn’t even managed to leave work yet and it’s nearly 9pm…

This is not as fancy as my other ratatouille recipe, but it tastes very nearly as good and takes far less time.  It’s Friday night-worthy, which is really saying something, especially after a fortnight like the one I’ve had, with lots of stress and very little sleep.  (Though one of my scientists did bring me cake to cheer me up, which was possibly the nicest thing anyone has done for me ever.)

Oh, and it doesn’t create a lot of washing up, either.  Just one giant baking dish.  There’s really nothing not to like, unless you are entirely anti-vegetable.

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Your Shopping List

3 large capsicums, preferably in different colours
2 red onions
2 medium zucchini
1 largeish eggplant
olive oil
lavender salt
black pepper
rosemary
dried mint
400g cherry tomatoes
500ml – 750 ml (whatever size bottle you have) tomato passata
dried basil

(I know these amounts are very vague.  It really is a sprinkle of this and a sprinkle of that, and it is very much to taste.  If you don’t have lavender salt, a pinch of salt with some culinary lavender is good, or skip the lavender and add a little fennel, and rather more rosemary.  It will be fine.)

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Recipe: Modular Salad for Lots of Dietary Requirements

My best friend lives in Darwin, and she’s having a baby (!!!), so I went up for a quick visit last weekend, to hang out, help out a bit, but mostly just have a good chance to catch up for the last time before there is an adorably cute little barrier to conversation in the house!

The beach at Fannie Bay, just outside the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

The beach at Fannie Bay, just outside the Museum of the Northern Territory

My friend has gestational diabetes, and her husband has a number of allergies and food sensitivities, and when you add to these culinary challenges the fact that Darwin is appallingly hot and humid, figuring out dinner is a bit of a challenge.

On the road south of Darwin.  This picture somehow conveys the weather perfectly.

On the road south of Darwin.

Like many people in Darwin, they don’t have family living locally, so we also talked a fair bit about planning for food that requires minimum preparation time when there is a small baby in the house.  (Not that I have ever had a small baby in the house, but I am all about minimal food preparation in hot weather.  Or grant season.)

Wattle, coming into bloom.  In hot weather.  Did I mention that Darwin was hot?

Wattle, coming into bloom. In hot weather. Did I mention that Darwin was hot?

We came up with this modular salad, which has the capacity to tick lots of mutually-exclusive boxes. It’s more an idea than a recipe, and it’s pretty simple, but it’s a useful one and worth sharing, I think.

(It’s unofficial name is Franken-Niçoise salad, because originally, there was going to be tuna.  But since we skipped the tuna, and the green beans were looking a bit dodgy, it’s just Modular Salad now.)

We liked it, and hope you will too.

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Your shopping list (for about 5-6 serves, which can be held over for later if need be)

One lettuce
Two punnets of cherry tomatoes
Two Lebanese cucumbers
Two red capsicums
One tin of cannellini beans, drained
Six smallish potatoes, preferably waxy ones
Six eggs
A handful of olives (optional)
A few spring onions (optional)
A tin or two of tuna or salmon; or leftover poached or roasted chicken; or tuna steaks if you are willing to cook such; or marinated and grilled tofu; or pre-prepared felafel, or even toasted hazelnuts or cubes of cheese.  You want about 100g per person of protein that is ready to eat, essentially.
Extra virgin Olive oil
Red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar if that’s what your friend can eat)
Salt, pepper
Tzatziki, or mayonnaise, or plain greek yoghurt with a teaspoon of dijon mustard

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Recipe: Jacket Sweet Potatoes with Vegetarian Chilli and Guacamole

I have no idea when I will escape this food blog hiatus!  Even when I make and photograph food, there never seems to be time to write about it – and most of the food I’ve been making this year has fallen into the category if quick and simple.  And they tend to rely pretty heavily on Gewürzhaus spice mixes, which isn’t so helpful for recording them here.

I’m very fond of jacket sweet potatoes.  Actually, I’m very fond of jacket potatoes, but my husband has an unnatural dislike of them, and sweet potatoes are better for you anyway, so that’s how it goes.  If I ever manage to achieve regular writing on this blog, you can expect a fair number of jacket sweet potato recipes going forward, as they are becoming a bit of a winter staple…

This particular recipe, though, I’ve made a few times recently.  It’s a nice, healthy, vegan dinner that is straightforward enough for a Friday night at the end of a long week.  It wasn’t vegan on purpose, which is one reason it is so good, I suspect – I always get the cheese out, but never seem to use it, and when I made a point of using it once, it didn’t taste as good.  So this is a meal that really wants to be vegan!  It also happens to be gluten free and low-GI, and reasonably healthy, and tastes lovely and fresh and comforting, which makes it a much better alternative to the Friday night takeaway which was becoming a habit.

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Your Shopping List

3 medium sweet potatoes (I know that’s vague, but aim for a similar sort of weight to what you’d do for an ordinary jacket potato meal)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, brown or red
1-2 tsp cajun spice mix, or a mixture of cumin, oregano, garlic, paprika and chilli
1 tin of black beans, drained (these are suddenly available at the supermarket!  Yay!  But if you can’t find them, red kidney beans also work)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder, or to taste
a little salt (lime salt is great if you have it)
2 spring onions (the long, thin ones that also get called shallots)
2 roma tomatoes
juice of one lemon or one lime (I almost never have limes, lemons do nicely)
2 tsp Gewürzhaus Guacamole Spice, if you have it, but failing that, a mixture of salt, cumin and chilli will do – probably a teaspoon in total will be fine.
2 avocadoes
chopped coriander, optional

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Recipe: Pasta with Chickpeas and Greens

This is a recipe I made way back in August after being given a big bunch of broad bean leaves  – I didn’t even know they were edible.  It’s a nice, simple, wholesome dinner recipe, good for Boxing Day, when you just want something plain and not too rich and reasonably healthy to eat.

You can use any greens you have in the garden – wild greens, tromboncino zucchini greens, Warrigal greens, silverbeet – whatever.  Or you can use supermarket greens.  120g is a standard packet size for a lot of things like rocket and baby spinach.  Just get a good mix – 2-3 big bunches worth – chop them roughly and off you go.

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Your Shopping List

olive oil
4 garlic cloves (I mean it!)
1 tbsp chilli flakes (I mean that, too!)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp italian herbs (or just oregano)
salt, pepper
120 g baby kale
120 g baby spinach
1 bunch broad bean leaves
400 g chickpeas, tinned (drain and use the water for meringues!)
300 g pasta
80 g pine nuts
parmesan to serve

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Recipe: Crisp Vegetable Salad for Spring

I haven’t been doing much cooking recently, or at least, not much that is creative, but this little salad has been a nice change from the usual lettuce-cucumber-tomato-capsicum deal, and is a nice, fresh, crisp-tasting side-dish for spring.

Today’s version is brought to you by my friend A, who gave me a bag of baby carrots – really carrot thinnings, so even cuter – mint and other goodies from her garden when we went to pick her up for a freecycling trip.  The amounts are vague, because I am vague too, but the combination of small, sweet, crisp carrot with spicy radish, fragrant mint and aniseedy fennel is very tasty, and very easy to bring together on a plate.  You can use any light tasting vinegar – cider or white wine vinegar would work – but strawberry vinegar seemed to fit with the spring-like theme of this salad.

This recipe serves two as a side dish.

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Recipe: Lamb and Chickpea Stew with Tomato, Lemon, Chilli and Oregano

I keep popping my head up for air and then making big promises of a return to regular blogging.  And then I get swallowed up by work again, or come down with the plague, or both, and I disappear underwater again for another month.

So I’m not going to make any grandiose plans this time, except to note that I do, in fact, have three posts in progress right now, and a likely two more to come, if only I can tread water fast enough… After that, well, August is full of centenary stuff for work, so I suspect I will start sinking again.  But I’ll be back when I can, I promise.

(and if you are interested in the Centenary stuff, here’s a link to all the Science in the Square events for August – they look like a lot of fun, so if science is something you are interested in, come along and see what’s happening!)

To the recipe, Batman!

This was just a simple stew I put together one Sunday evening when I had a shoulder of lamb that wasn’t quite defrosted enough to roast, a couple of lemons which had been zested but not juiced, chickpeas from a tin that had been drained for meringue purposes and were drying out in the fridge, and a lot of tomatoes and onions – and also no desire to go to the shops.  I was in an Italian or Greek sort of mood, so I added oregano and chilli and just a little cinnamon, and the result was one of the best lamb stews I’ve ever made – very fresh and clean tasting, and lovely with Turkish bread, labneh and tabouli (and the next night, in a bake with macaroni and melted cheese).

Of course, the challenging part of this recipe – which I do not expect you to do – was getting the meat off the lamb shoulder.  You see, this was yet another piece of the infamous and enormous Roast Lamb Pack that I got at Easter, in a state of ill-advised post-Lenten euphoria, but we just don’t eat that many roasts in our household.  So I figured I’d carve the lamb off the bone and cut it into chunks myself.  This turned out to be tricky for two reasons.  First, the lamb just would not defrost, which made cutting it difficult.  And secondly, well, let’s just say that I have renewed respect for butchers as professionals.  Figuring out where the bone is (especially when the joint is half frozen) is really difficult.  Making usefully sized and shaped chunks out of the meat, while avoiding waste, is even harder.  I suspect diced meat is priced well under what it is worth in terms of labour.

But in this case, my work was all worthwhile.  This is a great stew, and I’ll be making it again.

(And apologies for returning to blogging with yet another meat post.  Sadly, the tireder I am, the more likely I am to revert to easy food, and my repertoire of easy vegetarian food that Andrew will also eat is just not up to the job… something to work on next year, when I have a life again!)

Your Shopping List

olive oil
500 g – 750g lamb shoulder, diced by someone else
2 tsp lamb spice mix from Gewürzhaus (optional)
2 big onions, sliced
2 tbsp chilli flakes (yes, this is quite hot, but it’s a nice, clean heat – I really liked it)
2 tbsp oregano
5 cloves of garlic (or cheat like I did, and use 1 tablespoon of Gewürzhaus garlic lovers spice)
a handful of cherry tomatoes (optional, I had some, they were going to go off if I didn’t use them, you know the drill…)
2 tins of tomatoes, or one tin of tomatoes and a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce
juice of two lemons
1 tin of chickpeas (drained)
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper to taste Continue reading

Recipe: Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder with Lemon and Garlic

As is my custom, I went vegetarian for Lent this year.  Then, at the end of Lent, Simply Free Range had this special on a lamb roast pack and I got a little bit overexcited and also apparently failed to read just how many joints of meat I was actually getting in this pack, and since then we have been positively swimming in lamb roasts of various kinds (actually, after the first week of this lamb-fest, during which I invited over just about everyone I could think of to share in the lamb-ish bounty, I did a freezer clean-out, and moved the rest of the joints to the fridge, where they now sit.  Waiting…).  Which is a bit bad, when you consider that Andrew doesn’t really like roast lamb.  Oops.

Still, he liked this one, and so did I, not least because it was magnificently easy and not at all roast like.  Essentially, you put your lamb in the slow cooker before work, with a few herbs and lemon and quite a bit of garlic to help it along, and leave it there all day.  (Don’t forget to switch the cooker on before you go…) When you come home, you take out the lamb and it just falls apart.  I quite literally served it on a big dish and gave everyone forks – no carving required, everyone could just pull off what they needed.  Amazing.  The garlic, meanwhile, has basically melted, and can be spread all over the lamb like a sauce.  It’s pretty much an advertisement for what a slow cooker can do for you. Completely fabulous.

Your Shopping list:

1 boned and rolled lamb shoulder
2 onions
2 potatoes (optional)
4 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of three lemons
1/2 cup white wine
salt, pepper
1 bulb garlic Continue reading

Recipe: Scrambled Tofu with Cajun Spices

Three quarters of the way through the month and it’s probably time I actually created a recipe for my Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food challenge.  And in fact, I did create this recipe, several days ago – I’m just having trouble getting around to posting it. I’m running a big event at work next week and am being a bit overwhelmed not so much by the workload as by the slightly terrifying levels of enthusiasm and competitiveness being demonstrated by those around me. 

The number of questions I’ve been getting about exactly how things will work and precisely how I will prevent cheating – including the Graphics department expressing an alarming level of concern about people forging voting tokens (and I’m not at *all* worried that it’s the people who design all the images, drawings, posters etc who have forgery on their minds…) is… well, let’s just say that I’m beginning to wonder if my trust in my colleagues is misplaced and I should be appointing scrutineers.  And maybe the Electoral Commission, to supervise.

(Still, given that my biggest worry a few weeks ago was that nobody would participate, overwhelming enthusiasm is a fairly nice problem to have.  I am beginning to feel a little bit like a kindergarten teacher, however.)

Anyway.  This is indeed a lovely, quick recipe to make – and it’s tofu, which is a product I’m normally terrified of, so it’s slightly amazing, even to me, that this recipe has been getting onto my weeknight roster.  To me, this tastes like a nice, spicy version of scrambled eggs.  (Andrew tells me it tastes nothing like scrambled eggs. He’s wrong, but since he hates eggs, and likes this recipe, I’m not going to complain…)  Like scrambled eggs, it’s a good, fast recipe to put together on a hot day.

I like to serve this with corn chips, which saves any extra cooking and is also yummy.  But it’s pretty nice on it’s own, or you could stuff it into a burrito for a vegan version of breakfast burritos…

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Your shopping list

250 g soft tofu
4 spring onions (scallions)
2 capsicums, one red and one green
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Cajun spice mix
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, or 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
½ tsp turmeric
250 g cherry tomatoes
small handful of fresh coriander (optional – leave it out if you hate coriander)
½ cup grated cheese or vegan cheeze (cheddar, mozzarella, or a combination of cheeses)
corn chips or bread to serve

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Recipe: Sweet Potato Dip

This is just a simple little recipe for using up leftover baked sweet potatoes that takes about five minutes to make.  Maybe other people don’t have leftover baked sweet potatoes, but I tend to make baked sweet potatoes fairly often, and I find it very hard to judge how much we will want to eat…

The flavours are vaguely Middle-Eastern, and this dip is good as part of a mezze spread.  We had it with little lebanese sausages, tabouleh, hummus, pink coleslaw, and maybe a little bread.  It would work beautifully with turkish bread, tabbouleh and haloumi, or, indeed, with marinated and grilled meat, fish, veggie sausages, felafel, tofu or portobello mushrooms. 

It’s just a nice little thing to round out a meal with a little more vegetable and carbohydrate, and it makes me happy.

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Your shopping list

280 g baked sweet potatoes, at room temperature
1 spring onion
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
sumac (optional) Continue reading

Recipe: Christmassy Almond Butter Cookies (vegan and gluten free and almost healthy)

Ah, December.  No matter what I do, it seems to get away from me, and this year, more than ever.  I wound up doing most of my Christmas Baking last weekend – all day on Sunday, in fact – and only got my Christmas letters written and posted this morning.  Oops.  But since I am now officially On Holiday, I can actually start writing down the recipes I bookmarked in my head to put on this blog before Christmas.  So long as I’m quick about it…

This recipe was one I made last week.  I have what I would like to call an annual tradition, though in fact I don’t manage it nearly often enough, of baking up a storm a bit before Christmas and then going around to all the departments on Levels 1 and 2 (the professional services departments), delivering goodies and thanks to all and sundry.  And writing this, I’ve just realised that I never did get to Engineering.  Drat.  I dropped by twice and they weren’t there.  But that’s still a bad miss. 

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Anyway, I tend to try to make things that are large on output and low on effort, which is to say, lots of shortbread and mince pies and ginger biscuits.  But I also like to make sure there are some things in the mix which are vegan and gluten-free, and others that are nut free (so far, fortunately, I have not acquired any individual colleagues with more than two of these three requirements).  This year, the shortbread was egg and nut free, so my gluten-free and vegan biscuits were my chocolate tahini ones, and these little bites.

These almond butter biscuits are just barely sweet.  They really only have three main ingredients, after which you can flavour them according to your liking.  The quinoa flour and almond butter make them high in protein, and the agave nectar makes them fairly low in glycaemic index.  But they do, I think, want that little bit of glacé or dried fruit, or something sweet, to take them out of the health food category and into a more festive arena…

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Your Shopping List

150 g almond butter, unsweetened
100 g quinoa flour2-3 tbsp agave nectar
glacé cherries or glacé ginger or jam, or see variations for more suggestions

Now what will you do with it?

Pre-heat the oven to 165°C, and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine the almond butter and quinoa flour in a bowl.  Add two tablespoons of agave nectar and mix in.  Taste for sweetness, and check the texture – you will find that it is extremely crumbly at this stage, so you will probably want to add another tablespoon of water or another tablespoon of agave nectar, according to taste.  Basically, you do want a relatively crumbly dough, but it needs to be something you can form into a little ball and make a thumbprint in it.

Do so, making the biscuits fairly small – if you make a circle of your thumb and first finger, that’s the size of the ball you want.

Press half a glacé cherry, or a sliver of glacé ginger, or a little dollop of jam into the thumbprint in each biscuit.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and firm.

Serve to your deserving colleagues!

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Variations

I have so many ideas!  Firstly, if you were someone who liked peanut butter, I’ve seen an amazing looking honey and cinnamon peanut butter at the shops.  Now, I think peanuts are basically demonic, and honey isn’t very vegan, but if this is your idea of fun, I suspect it would be a great substitute for the almond butter.  You may need a little more or less quinoa flour to get the texture right, so fiddle around and see.  Macadamia butter or pistachio butter would also work.

You could roll these little biscuits in cinnamon sugar instead of doing the thumbprint thing – teeny, tiny almond snickerdoodles.  Or you could put a whole dried cherry in the middle of an almond ball (surprise!).  Or both at once!  Dried apricots would be nice, too, but you wouldn’t fit a whole one.

You could also choose a different flour, but bear in mind that this would affect the texture of the dough.

Allergy-wise, this is obviously useless if you are allergic to nuts, but it’s good for the gluten-free and the vegans, and if you swap out the agave nectar for maple syrup – which would be delightful, by the way, I just didn’t have any that day – you would be doing OK fructose-wise, I think.  And, as mentioned, they are not too bad in the glycaemic index department.  Quite a handy recipe to have in one’s repertoire, I think.

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