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Baked Apple Chips

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is around the corner! When I think of Rosh Hashanah, I think of all things sweet and round. While you could simply serve some sliced apples with honey and call your Rosh Hashanah a success, I like to get a little more creative with my recipes.

I don’t know why it took me so long to make, because this is probably the EASIEST recipe. Let me introduce you to homemade baked apple chips. All you have to do is core the apples, slice them thinly into rounds, toss in cinnamon and then bake. They do take a while in the oven, but let me tell you these apple chips are totally worth the wait! Pure apples. It doesn’t get much healthier than this. Long, low-heat baking dehydrates the apple slices so they become wonderfully crunchy once they cool. They are a healthy snack the whole family will love.

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Yes, you can buy them at the shops. But this version is cheaper and healthier. Store bought apple chips may not be as good for the waistline as you think as they may be made with oil and often contain added sugars as well.

An apple a day keep the doctor away, and for good reason. Apples are extremely rich in antioxidants and dietary fibre. Cinnamon too is a great source of fibre and a powerful antioxidant. Since ancient times this fragrant spice has been popular for its medicinal properties. Current research suggests that cinnamon may play a role in the management of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. It may also enhance brain function and protect against Parkinson’s Disease.

There are a few tricks I use to make them extra crunchy and crispy. Firstly, slice your apples super thin. If they are too thick, they will turn out to be mushy – still delicious, but I quite like the crunch. Use a mandolin to make it easier. Another secret is to bake the apples at a super low temperature in the oven. If they aren’t as crunchy as you want you can increase the baking time. Once they are done baking, keep them inside the oven instead of removing them and letting them cool at room temperature. This well help the apple chips crunch up much quicker.

I tend to go for pink lady apples – they’re definitely the sweetest which means I don’t add any sugar to the cinnamon.

Method

  1. Wash the apples.
  2. Remove the core of each apple. Using a mandolin or a slicer, cut the apples crosswise into thin slices.
  3. Toss the apple slices in cinnamon.
  4. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake at 120 degrees for 1 hour 30 minutes. Flip the apple slices at 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven off and keep the apple chips inside as the oven cools down.
  7. Store the apple chips at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.

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You can eat them as a snack on their own, or why not add them as a topper to your salad? Next time, try them out with nutmeg too! Or include it in a trail mix with some nuts and seeds.

Healthy, cheap, easy and addictive! Besides for cutting the apples and flipping them once in the oven, it is pretty much a ‘hands off’ recipe. Recipes where I have to do as little work as possible are my favourite.

Here’s to a sweet New Year!

Shani

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My Delicious Apple and Pomegranate Salad

Today, in anticipation of the Jewish New Year, I’m sharing this fancy shmancy (not really) salad with an incredibly delicious dressing! I think it’s the pomegranate seeds that give this salad that ‘fancy’ feel… like little jewels. Both apples and pomegranates have symbolic significance during Rosh Hashana – so why not try feature them in this delectable and healthy salad?

The naturally sweet and savory combination of ingredients married together in this salad will make your taste buds smile. This salad is packed with nutrition rich ingredients bursting with flavour and irresistible textures. The best part is it all comes together in 15 minutes so that you can nourish your body and get back to cooking the rest of the dinner without any worries. For a well-rounded meal, I think it would even be great topped with some left over roast chicken.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 7 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 pink lady apples, washed, cored and sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • ½ cup walnutsimage

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup xylitol
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: ground pepper

Method

  1. Prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach leaves, pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Toss to mix well.
  3. Just before serving top with the apple slices and avocado.
  4. Top with the dressing and enjoy!

 

Here are some ways to change it up:

  • Mix your greens. Think butter lettuce, rocket and kale.
  • Try pistachios or cashew nuts instead of walnuts. And if you are feeling naughty, why not try home-made candied almonds.
  • If you are making fish for mains, consider topping the salad with some crumbled feta.
  • If you’d like to stay away from the vinegar in the dressing, swap it out for lemon juice.
  • Last but not least, consider some other toppings and ingredients: poppy seeds, chia seeds, beetroot and mint!

Trust me, all of the flavours and textures of the salad are out of this world! Once you take your first bite, you just get more enticed to devour the entire bowl. Best of all, it is loaded with dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants. What a healthy way to start off the New Year!?

Wishing all of my Jewish readers, patients and friends a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Shani

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Brocc n Roll!

If you are trying to encourage the picky eaters in your life to eat their greens, then you’ll love this roasted broccoli side dish that’ll leave everyone coming back for more!

Broccoli is great for its anti-inflammatory properties. It provides us with numerous antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fibre – great for our cardiovascular system, protection from certain cancers and digestive support.

Did you know? One cup of broccoli has the same amount of vitamin C as an orange? Aside from vitamins A and C, broccoli is also an excellent source of iron and potassium. The more intense the colour the higher the nutritional value of the broccoli.

It protects our gut microbiota (the healthy bacteria in your gut) which is very important for people with digestive disorders. With this said however, most of my patients who come to me with digestive problems often can’t tolerate eating raw cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. It causes a lot of bloating and gas. In order to combat this and still get the nutritional boost broccoli has to offer, simply steam or cook it to make it more easily digestible!

One of my favourite ways to save time in the kitchen is roasting a sheet pan of veg (check out this recipe here: Rainbow Roasted Veg). But, I wanted to try something new last night… and this side of broccoli  was simply delicious and super easy to make! Packed full of flavour and crunch, it paired rather well with my roasted lemon and ginger chicken! Four steps? Seven ingredients? Seriously? What more could you ask for?

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of raw washed broccoli
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ lemon thinly slices
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Garnish options: pine nuts, almonds, fresh chillis, red pepper flakes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line your baking sheet with baking paper or use Spray n Cook.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients to coat the broccoli.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. About half way through stir everything around making sure the broccoli is cooked on both sides (you can sneak in a taste here to add more flavouring if you’d like – remember to go easy on the salt).
  4. Once the broccoli is crisp on the outside take out of the oven, add your garnish and serve immediately, or if you’re making it ahead of time allow it to cool before putting into an airtight container for storage in the refrigerator.

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Try it out, and let me know how it goes!

P.S. Don’t forget to make extra for lunch tomorrow!

Shani

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My Homemade Healthy Rusks

There’s something special about homemade rusks and there’s certainly nothing more heart warming than the aromas of rusks slowly baking in the oven on a cold winter’s day. The humble rusk is easier to make than you think!

For the sake of full disclosure, the process of developing this recipe was not without a few bumps. You see, rusks weren’t designed to be sugar or fat free. They were engineered to be packed with just about as much sugar and butter you could find in the house. So, of course, removing the essence of rusks would prove to be a bit tricky. Nonetheless, they turned out pretty darn delicious!

This recipe is loaded with fibre – from the digestive bran, oats and all bran flakes. The mixed seeds provide a good dose of healthy unsaturated fats. The rusks are relatively low in saturated fat (that’s the bad one!) too – all dairy products chosen were fat free, and margarine was chosen over butter.

You know I always like giving some variations, so here goes… Think cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseed, dark chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits, orange rind, coconut…

Of course if you are diabetic, swap out the sugar for sweetener. And if you’re feeling adventurous, swap out the self raising flour for bran rich self raising flour for an extra fibre kick!

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Ingredients (Makes: 35 rusks)

  • 500g self raising flour
  • 30g digestive bran63639355_324577131794374_1598725417575907328_n
  • 15ml baking powder
  • 5ml salt
  • 2 cups all bran flakes
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 ½ cup mixed seeds
  • 45g margarine
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 270ml plain fat free yoghurt
  • 60ml fat free milk
  • 10ml vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and spray a baking tray with spray n cook.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Melt the margarine and sugar in a pot. Stir until dissolved. Add the margarine sugar mixture to the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, using a whisk beat the yoghurt, eggs and milk together. Add to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined. Don’t be alarmed, it is quite a dry mix!
  5. Press the dough into the baking tray. (HINT: wet your hands to ensure the mixture does not stick to your fingers when pressing down!).
  6. Using a knife, mark the rusks lengthwise and in width to your desired size (I did about 5cm x 8cm).
  7. Bake the rusks for 1 hour and remove from the oven.
  8. Turn the oven down to 110 degrees.
  9. Using a sharp knife cut through the rusks on the marked lines and place onto a baking sheet.
  10. Place the rusks back in the oven for 1 hour or until dry and crunchy.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.
  12. ENJOY!

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These rusks are seriously good… especially when dunked in some tea or coffee!

Have I convinced you to make your own rusks yet?

Keep warm and enjoy the long weekend,

Shani

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Master Meal Prep Sunday

Mastering your Sunday prep is one of the best ways to set yourself up for a successful week- a week that involves less stress and more productivity (and happiness!). It is no secret that meal prepping in advance can help us stay on track with our health goals. Not only does it help deter us from grabbing a ‘not so healthy option’ snack but it also eliminates the nightly ‘what should I eat for dinner’ dilemma. Without having to worry about breakie in the mornings, the kids will get to school on time and you’ll nail that morning work meeting. Without having to cook up a storm after work (and then clean up all the dishes after), you’re going to be able to enjoy quality time with your kids after school and not put them to bed late at night (besides, it is easier to get them to eat broccoli when they’re wide awake, I promise).

Meal prepping can be overwhelming. Here are some fool proof ways to make Sunday the day you ready yourself for a nutritious week ahead:

  • Plan your meals. It begins before you head to the grocery store. Make a grocery list by asking yourself the following question: What does my schedule look like this week? This will usually guide you on the meals that need to be prepared and how much of it. Otherwise, you will be left with a fridge full of rotten produce. Don’t forget to scan your pantry and fridge for items you already have on hand and plan meals around these ingredients to save costs too. Pick 2-3 different proteins, at least 3-4 veggies and 2 starches. Then combine them in different ways so you keep each meal unique. This will help to keep variety on the week’s menu but also save some space in the fridge.
  • Wash and Chop. You’d be surprised how much time a dirty bunch of spinach or a broccoli head can hold you up by. Wash and bag all of your greens and fruit on Sunday so they’re ready to be added into any dish. And, pre-chop anything you’ll be able to grab to throw in a salad or for a snack, like carrots and celery. You can also roast veggies in bulk and have them ready alongside raw ones (see my one pan recipe here: Rainbow Roasted Veg). Your fridge will look pretty and organized and you will feel in control of the week ahead. Don’t forget, you can also freeze veggies for the following week.
  • Stock snacks. Besides for the veggies sticks, prep other snacks to grab on the go – whether it be a boiled egg, bagging some nuts or portioning out some biltong.
  • Cook your grains. Make big batches of brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta or any other healthy grain to keep in the fridge so you have a base for different dishes to assemble throughout the week.
  • Prepare your protein. Fish probably doesn’t hold up so well in the fridge for a long time, but chicken breasts, lean mince, beans or lentils and eggs do. Store them to add to salads and grains later.
  • Plan for leftovers. Think big. Make a lasting dish that’s bound to end up in leftovers, like a big pot of veggies, a hearty soup (see my delicious butternut soup recipe here: My Meatless Monday Winter Warmer) or some lean bolognaise.

Don’t forget to invest in some quality containers for storage.

Good luck and have fun!

Shani

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Rainbow Roasted Veg

Sheet pan dinners are a major trend at the moment. This is the easiest, simplest and BEST way to roast vegetables – perfectly tender and packed with so much flavour! It’s a one pan wonder!

I kept it simple, using fresh garlic, dried thyme and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Best of all? I only used veggies that I like. I tend to pick out certain veggies if they are not to my liking – like mushrooms (sorry, not a fan at all!). But if the vegetables listed here are not your favourites, this recipe can easily accommodate tons of other vegetables. But remember to include lots of different coloured veg – not only because it is pleasing on the eye, but also for all the nutrients you will be receiving. Red and orange produce give you vitamin C and A, dark green gives you iron and folate, blue and purple give you flavonoids, white gives you beta glucans…all the good stuff!

Ingredients61106991_385021402104914_117970699942887424_n

  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1 cup chopped butternut squash
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste (try go easy on the salt)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Use spray n cook to lightly coat a baking sheet.
  2. Place vegetables in a single layer onto the baking sheet.
  3. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss to combine.
  4. Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
  5. Enjoy!

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To really speed things up, you can buy precut veggies. Another tip I have is to season a chicken breast and place it on top of the veggies – this way you can enjoy a full meal in just one pan! And the clean up is a breeze.

Easy peasy (excuse the pun).

Shani

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Boost your veggie intake!

I am constantly trying to make balanced nutritious meals while spending as little time in the kitchen as possible. I’m all about being realistic which includes taking short cuts like combining food groups into easy one pan or plate meals, or even using frozen foods where available.

With all the well known benefits of eating vegetables, you’d think the entire human population would be chowing down some carrot sticks and snacking on spinach leaves. But not everyone has a built in love for the fresh produce department. My advice? It’s all about being creative… perhaps you don’t like steamed vegetables but you may like a zucchini lasagna or minestrone soup?

Here is how I focus on offering enough vegetables in my diet in a fun manner without a lot of extra time involved:

  1. Eat raw vegetables as snacks and right before dinner.

On my Sunday afternoon shop, I usually buy an assortment of peppers, chop them into slices, put them in a container and into the fridge. When it’s snack time or if I’m looking for something right before dinner, I’ll munch on some peppers (usually with hummus). Other great veggies to include are carrot and cucumber sticks, celery and baby tomatoes.

  1. Add extra vegetables to your main meals like pastas, curries or stews, mince meat, rice, cottage pies etc.

This might be a no-brainer (and probably how you got your kids to eat their veggies) but sometimes you forget – like onions to sauces, carrots in stews, spinach in pasta, peppers in rice. Add mushrooms, onions and tomatoes in your omelettes. Another great idea for winter is to make soups – think carrot soup, creamy cauliflower soup, pumpkin soup, mushroom and spinach soup… the options are endless. Check out my delicious butternut soup recipe here: My Meatless Monday Winter Warmer.

  1. Choose more plant based main meals.

Start off with meatless Mondays. Think mushroom burgers, bean curries, roasted cauliflower heads – get creative! Experiment with veggie noodles. They are easy to make and a great way to get more veggies in your diet. They are also an excellent low carb substitute.

  1. Order side salads at restaurants.

Swapping out fried chips for a side salad can sometimes give you 2 servings of veggies – and a whole lot less oily fat!

  1. Buy more, eat more.

Just like chips and chocolates, the more veggies you have in the house the more likely you are to eat them. It is all about accessibility. Keep them in sight, in mind (but not the chips and chocolates part 😉 ).

There are many unique ways you can include vegetables in your diet. By making veggies a regular part of your daily diet you will significantly increase your intake of fibre and antioxidants. Eating enough vegetables is also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and is also beneficial for weight loss.

Stay tuned for my next post – a simple one pan roasted veg recipe!

Shani

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