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Food waste is a big problem in Australia. On average, we throw out one in every five bags of groceries! Throwing out that much food is incredibly wasteful, not only in terms of the money spent on purchasing the food, but also the amount of energy and resources used to produce the food. Consider the amount of water, fuel and fertiliser needed to grow, harvest, transport and process all that food! So in an effort to reduce waste and be kinder to our hip pocket and the environment, here are four ideas on how to use leftover roasted vegetables.

ImageFrittata
Prepare the frittata mixture by whisking together 6 eggs, ½ cup cream and ¾ cup parmesan cheese. Place the leftover roasted vegetables in a greased frying pan and pour in the mixture and top with 1/3 cup torn basil leaves. Cook for 8-10 minutes on low heat until almost set before placing the mixture under a preheated griller on high for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.

Roasted vegetable saladImage
Whisk together 1 tablespoon oil, ½ cup lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic (crushed) and 2 teaspoons sugar in a jug and pour over warmed leftover roasted vegetables and 1 can (400 gram) chickpeas. Add 2 tablespoons of parsley and toss gently to combine before serving.



ImageCous cous salad
Add leftover roasted vegetables to 2 cups cooked cous cous, 1 can (400 gram) lentils (drained and rinsed), 250 grams grape tomatoes (halved), 2 tablespoons currants and a handful (approximately 60 grams) baby spinach. Drizzle over with ½ cup plain yoghurt mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon juice before serving.


Roasted vegetable pizza
 
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Spread pizza sauce on pita bread , add leftover roasted vegetables and top with mozzarella cheese and herbs before placing in 220oC oven for ten minutes. Top with spinach before serving.

What ideas do you have for using leftovers?

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With its longer and sunnier days, spring is the perfect time to grow warm-weather loving plants such as tomatoes in your garden.

To get the best crop, plant the seedlings in an area where they will get full sun but be protected from strong winds, it is recommended you fertilise the soil and do not to plant the tomatoes in the same spot two years in a row, in order to prevent the accumulation of disease in the soil. The plants will also benefit from mulching. Tomatoes will also grow well in pots if you use a top-quality potting mix. Water the plants regularly and fertilise only when the plants begin to flower. Tomatoes turn red when they are ripe and ready to be picked.

We think nothing beats the taste of a freshly picked vine-ripened tomato. Simply slice and add to a salad or place on top of a dry biscuit to create a juicy and tasty treat.

What tips do you have for growing tomatoes? What are your favourite recipes for tomatoes?

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Spring has certainly sprung, and with it a new season of fruit and vegetables. One such vegetable is the beetroot; with its firm, rich, naturally sweet, maroon-red roots and its lusciously green leaves it is a versatile, healthy and delicious vegetable. Beetroots are a good source of fibre, folate and vitamin C and it can be cooked in a variety of ways such as roasted, grilled, boiled or baked. They can even be served grated raw in salads and that’s just the roots! Did you know that the leaves of beetroots are also edible? You can use them in salads or stir-fries. But one of my favourite ways to use a beetroot is as a dip.

Here is a recipe for a delicious beetroot dip, so get in while they’re still in season; eating foods in season has lots of benefits in terms of health and nutrition, budget and environment.

beetroot dip

Roasted beetroot dip

Ingredients

  • 2 large beetroots, washed and trimmed
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ cup Greek yoghurt
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Wrap each beetroot individually in foil and bake in the oven at 200°C for 40–60 minutes, until tender. When beetroots have cooled, peel and chop roughly.
  2. Place beetroot mint, garlic, lemon juice and spice into food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Place in a bowl and fold in yoghurt and season to taste.
  4. Season dip with salt and pepper and serve with dry biscuits and chopped vegetables.

Three of our tips when making this recipe are:

  1. If running short on time, use drained, canned beetroot (although we do recommend using fresh beetroots)
  2. Other flavours that go well with beetroot include allspice, bay leaf, cloves, chives, dill, garlic, mustard seed, thyme, and citrus.
  3. To avoid staining your hands, wear rubber gloves when handling beetroots.

What ways can you include beetroot in your diet this spring?

The winter chill has arrived and nothing is more comforting during the colder months than making an old-fashion pudding to warm the cockles of your heart. The dull and dreary grey days will vanish with delicious, comforting favourites like golden syrup dumplings, chocolate self-saucing puddings or the apple pie with lashings of custard and cream.

Lemon delicious is definitely one of our favourite puddings from childhood. Its layers of lemony sponge cake and creamy custard are just delicious – obviously that’s why it’s called a lemon delicious! With lemons plentiful in winter, it makes a perfect dessert (check out our recipe on p. 339 of The Food Book). However, have you tried substituting lemons with other citrus fruits such as limes or oranges or doing a mix of lemon and lime? These suggestions make a sumptuous yet refreshing change to a beautiful pudding. Also try adding 3 tablespoons of coconut with you mix in the flour for a tropical slant on the tradition favourite.

What puddings make you nostalgic during winter?

Lemon Delicious

Have you seen kale in the vegetable aisle lately? Chances are you would have, it is one of the ‘on trend’ vegetables this autumn. Kale is a variety of cruciferous vegetables. It has thick stems and typically curly, green leaves that do not form a head. Like many green leafy vegetables, kale is a nutrient powerhouse — it’s a great source of many nutrients including fibre and vitamins A, C and folate. It is very similar to a cabbage so can be prepared in a similar way — it can be served raw as part of a salad or served cooked. However, unlike many green leafy vegetables, kale is very robust and needs dressing (and time!) to soften its leaves if eaten raw.

Pick up some kale next time you are doing your vegetable shop and try these two simple recipes. They’re quick, they’re tasty and they’re healthy!

Kale


Tasty balsamic kale salad

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries, roughly chopped (or currants)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 bunches kale, washed and sliced (remove tough stalks before slicing)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 60 mL olive oil
  • 20 mL seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rice vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper together.
  2. Stir in cranberries and pour over sliced kale and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes
  3. Toss through Parmesan just prior to serving


Kale with oyster sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches kale, washed and tough stalks removed and leaves cut in half crossways.
  • 60mL oyster sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 50 mL light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 20 mL vegetable oil
  • 10 mL sesame oil

 Method

  1. Mix together oyster sauce, garlic, soy sauce and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Place vegetable oil and sesame oil in a frypan and heat on high for 30 seconds and pour over kale
  3. Drizzle oyster sauce mixture over kale and serve immediately.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching!

The reason as to why Valentine’s Day is celebrated on 14 February has been debated by various theories, myths and legends over the years; as to which one is true, who knows?! But we do like the idea that Valentine’s Day, with its notion of romantic love, flourished during the Middle Ages with its tradition of courtly love.

Today Valentine’s Day has become a day where lovers express their love for each other through the giving of flowers, the offering of chocolates and the sending of greeting cards – these cards were known as ‘valentines’ in the fifteenth century!

Some people believe that this day is increasingly commercial in its emphasis on expensive gifts; rather than giving your Valentine’s store-bought gifts, have you thought about making some simple yet special treats instead this Valentine’s Day? Not only is something homemade an inexpensive gift, but nothing says ‘I love you’ more than when you make something from the heart.

Here’s an idea for a special treat to make:

Cupcakes decorated with butter icing and cashous or sprinkles

Valentine CupcakesYou only need some basic cooking skills to make the cupcakes – see the cupcake recipe on p. 402-403 of The Food Book.

Make a batch of butter icing by beating 200 grams of softened butter until light and creamy, adding 6 cups of sifted icing sugar and ½ cup of milk – beat until smooth.

Spread or pipe the icing on the cooled cupcakes and decorate with cashous or sprinkles. We prefer keeping the icing plain and using coloured cashous and sprinkles but you may like to tint the icing with a colour or top it with uber-gorgeous Persian fairy floss- now that would make a love statement!

You can also pick up some coloured patty pan papers to match your decorations, or decorate your cupcakes by piping a heart shape on each cupcake or the initial of your lover – let your imagination run free! The cupcake will look and taste amazing whatever you choose to do.

What ideas do you have for other gifts you could make for Valentine’s Day?