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Best ever skillet lasagne

<p> </p> <p>Time to prepare 10 mins | Cooking Time 40 mins | Serves 2</p> <p>Lasagne is one of those dishes we often save for a special occasion, dreading the aftermath of dirty pots and pans spread from one end of the bench to the other. With seven hits of veg, this super healthy family favourite is the perfect solution to your midweek cooking dilemmas.</p> <p><strong>Ingredients:</strong></p> <ul> <li>2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil</li> <li>1 brown onion, finely diced</li> <li>1 carrot, finely diced</li> <li>1 zucchini, finely diced</li> <li>2 celery sticks, finely diced</li> <li>2 tomatoes, roughly chopped</li> <li>½ teaspoon salt</li> <li>250 g beef mince</li> <li>400 ml tinned tomatoes</li> <li>250 ml beef stock</li> <li>100 g lasagne sheets</li> <li>¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated</li> <li>2 cups rocket, fresh</li> </ul> <p><strong>Directions:</strong></p> <p>1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over a medium heat.</p> <p>2. Add in onion, carrot, celery and zucchini and salt and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in tomatoes and break up with the back of a spoon.</p> <p>3. Add in beef mince to brown, also breaking up with the back of a spoon. Let the mince brown in the pan, occasionally stirring, about 5 minutes.</p> <p>4. Add in tinned tomatoes and let mixture simmer for 10 minutes. Add in beef stock.</p> <p>5. Roughly break up the lasagne sheets with your hands and add them to the skillet.</p> <p>6. Turn heat to low, place a lid on the skillet and leave for 15–20 minutes until pasta sheets are cooked. You may need to add in more water if it is starting to dry out.</p> <p>7. Sprinkle over grated cheese and top with fresh rocket.</p> <p><strong>Tips:</strong></p> <p>If pasta isn't your thing, peel two zucchinis into ribbons and add to the skillet prior to serving to heat through.</p> <p>Boost this recipe by using a homemade beef stock.</p> <p>Dairy-free option: Omit cheese, it's just as delicious without.</p> <p><strong>Recipe by </strong><a href="https://t.cfjump.com/45246/t/43612"><strong>I Quit Sugar.</strong></a></p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/recipes/best-ever-skillet-lasagne.aspx"><em>Wyza.com.au.</em></a></p>

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Is it safe to microwave your food?

<p>Today every kitchen would seem “under-equipped” without a microwave, with its efficient ability to cook, defrost and reheat a variety of different foods. The handy appliance uses <a href="http://www.livescience.com/50259-microwaves.html">microwave radiation</a> to do so. This is a type of electromagnetic radiation similar to radio waves and infrared light.</p> <p>Although generally recognised as safe, the internet is awash with articles about the dangers microwave radiation poses to your food. Some claim using microwaves can cause “<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3745308/From-cataracts-cancer-REAL-dangers-microwave-ovens-test-leaking.html">cataracts and cancer</a>”. Other posts says it “<a href="http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/18/microwave-hazards.aspx">zaps the nutrients right out of your food</a>”.</p> <p>If you believe this, the “killer” oven in your kitchen must be a terrifying sight, but there is actually no research to support the supposed dangers of microwave cooking. Hopefully we can allay your fears by checking some common danger claims against the evidence.</p> <p><strong>Does it zap the nutrients out?</strong></p> <p>Putting raw foods through any type of process – including heating and cooling – leads to changes in their physical properties, chemical composition and nutritional profile.</p> <p>If nutrients are lost from foods cooked in microwaves, this would be because too high a temperature was used, or they were cooked for too long. The correct combination of time and temperature can help preserve most nutrients while also improving the foods’ taste, texture and colour.</p> <p>The time and temperature required depends on the type of food. High risk foods such as meat, fish and eggs <a href="http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/faqsafety/pages/foodsafetyfactsheets/foodsafetystandardst857.aspx">need to be heated</a> to at least 60℃ to be safe.</p> <p>Microwave cooking is unlikely to negatively affect vitamins and other compounds associated with improved health. For instance, rapid cooking <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814605000531">actually helps preserve</a> a group of beneficial chemicals, the polyphenols – that increase the total antioxidant activity of foods – in green vegetables.</p> <p>One study compared <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814602002595">microwaving or steaming vegetables</a>, such as cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and spinach, to pressure cooking. It found vegetables that were pressure cooked lost more insoluble fibre, which is good for gut health, than those that were microwaved or steamed.</p> <p>A key nutrient usually destroyed when cooking vegetables is vitamin C, a severe lack of which can lead to conditions like <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-scurvy-and-is-it-making-a-comeback-69709">scurvy</a>. But boiling vegetables accounts for greater nutrient losses <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1466856413001471">than microwaving them</a>. This is because water soluble nutrients are readily leached into water when they are boiled, while very little water is used in microwaving.</p> <p>Short bursts of heating, such as used in microwave cooking, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24837935">can retain</a> most of a vegetable’s vitamin C.</p> <p><strong>Can it give you cancer?</strong></p> <p>Some of the best studied cancer-causing compounds are the heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA). These are formed naturally in protein-rich food such as meat and fish during cooking, and are more likely to form if the meat is cooked for a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9737435">long time and at higher temperatures</a>.</p> <p>The method of cooking is a major factor affecting HCA formation. Some researchers have reported HCA are formed in chicken at higher levels <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jfpp.12685/abstract">when cooked in a microwave</a>, compared to when pan-fried, barbecued or baked.</p> <p>But no research has claimed or shown an association between regular consumption of microwave-cooked poultry and cancer.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.infona.pl/resource/bwmeta1.element.elsevier-b7b5d81d-7ab8-3c33-b81e-4ce87d489550?locale=en">recent study</a> has revealed barbecued fish contains more HCA than microwave-cooked fish, while HCA could not be detected at all in microwaved beef. Also, thawing beef and re-heating previously-cooked meat or fish in a microwave just for a few minutes, <a href="http://www.medwelljournals.com/fulltext/?doi=javaa.2010.2327.2332">does not</a> produce any extra HCA.</p> <p><strong>What about the packaging?</strong></p> <p>There is some evidence to suggest chemicals in plastic packaging can <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1541-4337.12028/full">migrate into foods</a> when microwaved, which has been associated with <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2002.tb04927.x/full">increased risk of cancer</a>.</p> <p>But most of today’s plastic containers, packages and wraps are <a href="https://plasticsinfo.org/Functional-Nav/FAQs/Plastic-in-Microwave">specially designed</a> to withstand microwave temperatures.</p> <p>If packaging is marketed as microwave safe, has a microwave symbol or provides instructions for proper microwave use, it is safe for microwave cooking or heating.</p> <p>Leaching of harmful toxins or “cancer-causing” compounds from appropriately packaged products during microwaving is highly unlikely in Australia, although this area could benefit from more research.</p> <p><strong>Does it kill bad bugs?</strong></p> <p>Cooking food significantly reduces the risk of <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002822304014002">food-borne illness</a>.</p> <p>A major challenge in microwaving is the unevenness <a href="http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/09/how-may-do-you-know-top-10-food-safety-myths-and-facts/#.V_HKeY9OKM8">of temperature</a> distribution due to the shape of the food. You may notice when you heat food in a microwave that there are often hot and cold spots. This poses a <a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11947-008-0136-0">potential safety</a> issue.</p> <p>Microwave cooking can only kill disease-causing bugs when the correct temperature and time combination is achieved throughout the food portion. Cooking to temperatures above 60℃ will <a href="http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx">kill most bugs</a> known to cause food-borne illness, but the toxins produced by them may be heat-tolerant.</p> <p>If the food is already contaminated with bugs that produce toxins, microwaving might kill the toxin-producing bug but not destroy the toxins, despite the correct temperature and time combination. This can also apply to other cooking methods. Appropriate food storage is the key to minimising such risks.</p> <p><strong>Minimising risk</strong></p> <ul> <li> <p>Avoid overcooking vegetables to minimise nutrient losses</p> </li> <li> <p>Before microwaving, check the labelling on the package and follow the instructions</p> </li> <li> <p>If the package is not marked as being microwave-safe, switch to a suitable microwave container</p> </li> <li> <p>Rotate and stir foods during cooking to spread the temperature of heating equally and as such minimise potential for food-borne illness. Check the temperature of food before consumption</p> </li> <li> <p>Remember microwaving cannot magically make contaminated food safe. So if in doubt, throw it out.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/66776/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><em>Written by <span>Senaka Ranadheera, Early Career Research Fellow, Advanced Food Systems Research Unit, College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University; Duane Mellor, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Canberra; Nenad Naumovski, Asistant Professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Canberra, and Robyn McConchie, Professor, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, University of Sydney</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-is-it-safe-to-microwave-your-food-66776"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Have you gone vegan? Keep an eye on these 4 nutrients

<p>There are <a href="https://veganuary.com/au/why/">many reasons</a> people go vegan, from wanting to be healthier, to reducing their environmental footprint, to concerns about animal welfare.</p> <p>No matter what the reason, many people find it difficult to meet the <a href="https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients">nutrient intake targets</a> for specific vitamins and minerals while on a vegan diet. These include vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and iodine.</p> <p>Here’s how to make sure you’re getting enough of these vitamins and minerals while following a vegan diet.</p> <p><strong>1. Vitamin B12</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-b12">Vitamin B12</a>, or cobalamin, is essential for making red blood cells, DNA (your genetic code), fatty acids located in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myelin">myelin</a> (which insulate nerves), and some neurotransmitters needed for brain function.</p> <p>Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, so a deficiency probably won’t happen in adults in the short term.</p> <p><strong>Symptoms of B12 deficiency</strong></p> <p>Symptoms of vitamin B12 <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-b12-level">deficiency</a> include tiredness, lethargy, low exercise tolerance, light-headedness, rapid heart rate or palpitations, bruising and bleeding easily, weight loss, impotence, bowel or bladder changes, a sore tongue, and bleeding gums.</p> <p>Other <a href="https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-b12">symptoms related to the nervous system</a> include a loss of sensation in the hands or feet, problems related to movement, brain changes ranging from memory loss to mood changes or dementia, visual disturbances, and impaired bowel and bladder control.</p> <p><strong>Testing for B12 deficiency</strong></p> <p>Your doctor may request a <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vitamin-b12-test">blood test</a> to check your vitamin B12 status and determine whether indicators are in the <a href="https://www.labtestsonline.org.au/learning/test-index/vitamin-b12">healthy range</a>.</p> <p><strong>Vegan food sources of B12</strong></p> <p>Vitamin B12 is <a href="https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-b12">abundant in animal foods</a> including meat, milk and dairy products.</p> <p>For vegans, plant sources of vitamin B12 include some algae and plants exposed to bacterial action or contaminated by soil or insects. While traces of vitamin B12 analogues can be found in some mushrooms, nori or fermented soy beans, more reliable sources include vitamin B12-supplemented soy or nut “milks”, or meat substitutes. Check the nutrition information panel on the label for the the B12 content.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-b12">Crystalline vitamin B12</a> added to these products can boost the B12’s absorption rate to a level similar to that from animal products.</p> <p><strong>2. Calcium</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/calcium">Calcium</a> is needed to develop and maintain the skeleton bones, and is stored in the teeth and bones. It is also essential for heart, muscle and nerve function.</p> <p><strong>Testing for calcium deficiency</strong></p> <p>Low calcium intakes are associated with <a href="https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/what-it">osteoporosis</a> or “brittle bones” and a higher risk of bone fractures.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/diagnosis">bone scan is used</a> to measure bone density, with <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/osteoporosis-diagnosis">osteoporosis diagnosed</a> when bone density is low.</p> <p>Both low calcium intakes and low vitamin D levels increase the risk of osteoporosis. Check your bone health using the <a href="https://www.knowyourbones.org.au/">Know Your Bones online quiz</a>.</p> <p><strong>Vegan food sources of calcium</strong></p> <p>Although the richest sources of calcium are milk and milk-based foods, vegans can get calcium from tofu or bean curd, some fortified soy or nut beverages, nuts, seeds, legumes, and breakfast cereals.</p> <p>Calcium needs can be higher for vegans and vegetarians due to the relatively high <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxalic_acid">oxalic acid</a> content of foods such as spinach, rhubarb, beans, and the high <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytic_acid">phytic acid</a> content of seeds, nuts, grains, some raw beans, and soy products. These specific acids can lower the calcium absorption from these foods by 10-50%.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24667136">study of calcium intakes of 1,475 adults </a>, vegans were below national recommendations and had lower calcium intakes compared with vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians, and omnivores.</p> <p><strong>3. Iodine</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iodine">Iodine</a> is needed to make thyroxine, a thyroid hormone used in normal growth, regulation of metabolic rate, and development of the central nervous system. <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/iodine">Iodine</a> is concentrated in the thyroid gland.</p> <p><strong>Symptoms of iodine deficiency</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.thyroidfoundation.org.au/Iodine-Deficiency">Iodine deficiency</a> can lead to the enlargement of the thyroid gland, a <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/goitre">goitre</a>, or hypothyroidism.</p> <p><a href="https://www.thyroidfoundation.org.au/Iodine-Deficiency">Symptoms of hypothyroidism</a> include lethargy, tiredness, muscular weakness, feeling cold, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, weight gain, depression, facial puffiness, hair loss, dry skin, constipation, and slower heartbeat.</p> <p>In women, iodine deficiency can increase risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, and congenital anomalies, including mental retardation and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_iodine_deficiency_syndrome">cretinism</a>.</p> <p><strong>Testing for iodine deficiency</strong></p> <p>Your iodine status can be assessed by a range of tests, including thyroid hormones in your blood, the size of your thyroid gland, or the presence of a goitre. Talk to your doctor about these tests.</p> <p>Vegan food sources of iodine</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/iodine">iodine content of food</a> depends on the iodine content of plants, which in turn depends on soil iodine content. When soil content is low, iodine may need to be supplemented.</p> <p>Major sources of iodine are seafood, dairy products, and eggs.</p> <p>For vegans, iodised salt, commercial bread made using iodised salt, fortified soy or nut milks (check the product label) and seaweed are important.</p> <p>Substances called goitrogens, which are found in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica">brassica vegetables</a> – including cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, sweet potato and maize – can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones.</p> <p><strong>4. Iron</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron">Iron</a> is needed to make <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemoglobin">haemoglobin</a> in red blood cells, which carries oxygen around your body.</p> <p>Iron is <a href="https://www.healthshare.com.au/factsheets/12147-iron-deficiency/">also needed for the production of energy</a> in your muscles, and for concentration and a healthy immune system.</p> <p><strong>Symptoms and testing for iron deficiency and anaemia</strong></p> <p>Not having enough iron leads to <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/iron-deficiency">iron deficiency</a>, and is associated with reduced work capacity, impaired brain function, lower immunity, and delayed development in infants.</p> <p>The first stage of iron deficiency is referred to as <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/iron-deficiency-adults">low iron stores</a> and your doctor may refer you for a <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/iron-studies">blood test</a> to check your iron status.</p> <p><strong>Vegan food sources of iron</strong></p> <p>In Australia and New Zealand, the biggest contributors to iron intake are wholegrain cereals, meats, chicken, and fish.</p> <p>The amount of iron absorbed from food depends on a person’s iron status (with those who are iron-deficient absorbing more), as well as the iron content of the entire meal, and whether iron is haem (from animal foods) or non-haem iron from plant sources such as grains and vegetables.</p> <p>Although iron from plant sources is less able to enter the body, you can boost your absorption by adding lemon or lime juice (citric acid) or other vitamin C-rich vegetables and fruits, which convert non-haem iron to a form than is better absorbed.</p> <p>Take care with food components that inhibit absorption of both haem and non-haem iron, including calcium, zinc and phytates in legumes, rice and other grains, and <a href="https://foodwatch.com.au/blog/super-foods/item/top-100-polyphenols-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-important.html">polyphenols</a> and vegetable proteins that can inhibit absorption of non-haem iron.</p> <p>Long-term vegans will also need to keep an eye on levels of <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vitamin-d">vitamin D</a>, <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/news/omega-3-fatty-acid-the-importance-of-fat-in-a-healthy-diet">omega-3 fat</a> and <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/protein">protein</a>.</p> <p>A good strategy is to check in with your GP periodically to review your health and well-being, and an <a href="https://daa.asn.au/find-an-apd/">accredited practising dietitian</a> can check whether you’re getting all the nutrients you need.</p> <p><em>Written by Clare Collins. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/have-you-gone-vegan-keep-an-eye-on-these-4-nutrients-107708"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

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Delicious churrasco prawns with aji sauce

<p>In Brazil, churrasco is a term for barbeque, with the meat or seafood of choice commonly grilled on skewers. In this case, the grilled prawns are teamed with a Peruvian aji sauce, which consists of sweet onion and jalapenos.</p> <p>This is an edited extract from Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia, published by Hardie Grant, RRP $39.95</p> <p>Visit Lyndey's website here: <a href="http://www.lyndeymilan.com">lyndeymilan.com</a></p> <p><strong>Ingredients:</strong></p> <ul> <li>1 kg large raw prawns, peeled and deveined, heads removed, tails intact</li> <li>wooden skewers, soaked in cold water or placed in the freezer for 30 minutes</li> <li>extra-virgin olive oil for brushing</li> </ul> <p><strong>Aji sauce</strong></p> <ul> <li>4 green jalapeno chillies, seeded</li> <li>3 spring onions (scallions), roughly sliced</li> <li>¼ cup roughly chopped coriander</li> <li>(cilantro) stems and leaves</li> <li>2 tablespoons red wine vinegar</li> <li>½ teaspoon grated lime zest</li> <li>2 teaspoons lime juice</li> <li>2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil</li> <li>salt and freshly ground black pepper</li> </ul> <p><strong>Directions:</strong></p> <p>1. For the aji sauce, place the jalapeños, spring onion and coriander in a small food processor and process until finely chopped.</p> <p>2. Add the red wine vinegar, lime zest and juice and oil and continue to process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.</p> <p>3. Preheat a barbecue or chargrill pan to high.</p> <p>4. For the prawns, insert a wooden skewer at the tail and push through the length of the prawn. Brush the prawns with oil and cook on the barbecue or in the chargrill pan for 2 minutes each side or until cooked through.</p> <p>5. Serve with the aji sauce.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.Wyza.com.au">Wyza.com.au</a></em></p>

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Are regular chocolate eaters really thinner?

<p>People who eat chocolate on a regular basis tend to be thinner, even when they do not exercise more often, a new study claims.</p> <p>But health experts have warned that the findings of the study, published today in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, do not establish a direct link between the consumption of chocolate, which is high in calories and saturated fats, and a low body mass index (BMI).</p> <p>Merlin Thomas, Adjunct Professor of Preventive Medicine at Baker IDI Heart &amp; Diabetes Institute, said: “In excess, chocolate will induce weight gain. It will induce obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and an early demise. But then again, so will any overindulgence.”</p> <p>A research team from the University of California, San Diego, found that among about 1,000 men and woman aged 20 to 85 who did not have heart disease or diabetes, those who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower BMI than those who consumed it less often. On average, participants ate chocolate twice a week and exercised 3.6 times a week.</p> <p>Health experts say a normal BMI is typically in the range of 18.5 to 24.9.</p> <p>“People who ate chocolate more frequently consumed more calories, and they did not exercise more, but despite this they weighed less,” said Beatrice Golomb, with the university’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. “It’s not amount of chocolate, but frequency of chocolate consumption [that counts].”</p> <p>“Chocolate has been linked to lower heart disease and more favourable liver profiles and better blood pressure,” Dr Golomb said. “The chief factor that has typically led people to hold back from recommending chocolate has been this concern that the expectation was that it would be associated with being heavier and gaining weight more, and this study at least does not provide support for that but rather the contrary.”</p> <p>Consumption of certain types of chocolate has been found to have other metabolic benefits on blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol level.</p> <p>“Our study doesn’t really constrain exactly the amount of chocolate [people should eat], but it does suggest that more frequent chocolate consumption is associated with better BMI.”</p> <p>But Professor Thomas said that the study showed “why association is not the same as causality.</p> <p>"Paradoxes are not uncommon in medicine and usually reflect the influence of other unmeasured factors. The population studied also matters. In this instance, the impact of chocolate consumption on middle-aged overweight men may not reflect the harm confectionery does to women or adolescents.”</p> <p>Professor Thomas said that the plant-derived flavanols found in cocoa products, such as dark chocolate, did have real effects on metabolism. However studies highlighting their health benefits invariably used very large doses “that could never be garnered by eating the amounts of chocolate described in this study. Most processed confectionery contains little of the original antioxidant potential of the original cocoa.”<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/6089/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Justin Norrie</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/are-regular-chocolate-eaters-really-thinner-6089"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Zesty persimmon prawn rice paper roll

<p>Looking for a healthy lunch option that’s packed full of flavour? These persimmon prawn rice paper rolls are the answer to all of your cravings. Not only are they simple and easy to make, but they don’t compromise on taste. Try it out for yourself.</p> <p><strong>Ingredients</strong></p> <ul> <li>60gm dried rice vermicelli</li> <li>8 16cm round rice paper wrappers</li> <li>8 medium butter lettuce leaves, washed</li> <li>8 large cooked king prawns, peeled, de-veined and sliced in half lengthways</li> <li>24 fresh mint leaves</li> <li>1 small firm persimmon, julienned</li> <li>1 small Lebanese cucumber, julienned</li> <li>24 fresh coriander leaves</li> </ul> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Dipping sauce</strong></span></p> <ul> <li>1 tablespoon Japanese rice vinegar</li> <li>4 tablespoons hoi sin sauce</li> <li>1 tablespoon unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped</li> </ul> <p><strong>Method</strong></p> <ol> <li>Prepare rice vermicelli as per packet instructions, drain well.</li> <li>Combine all sauce ingredients for dipping.</li> <li>Place 1 rice sheet in warm water until just softened, remove from water place on clean, damp tea towel.</li> <li>Lay a lettuce leaf over the wrapper, top with 2 pieces of prawn horizontally, 3 mint leaves, a little persimmon, cucumber, rice vermicelli and 3 coriander leaves.</li> <li>Fold bottom of wrapper up over the filling, fold one side in, roll up tightly. Keep rolls under damp cloth while preparing remaining ingredients.</li> <li>Serve with dipping sauce.</li> </ol> <p><em>Photo and recipe courtesy of </em><a href="https://www.persimmonsaustralia.com.au/recipes/"><em>Persimmons Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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Apple and hazelnut pikelets

<p>Pikelets are an almost instant sweet snack. The thick batter is made by simply stirring together a few basic pantry ingredients, and the pikelets cook in minutes. Here they are flavoured with diced apple and toasted hazelnuts. Top with a little maple syrup and enjoy them warm from the pan.</p> <div id="ingredients"><strong>Ingredients</strong> <ul class="no-bullet"> <li>⅓ cup (45 g) skinned hazelnuts, chopped</li> <li>1⅓ cups (200 g) plain flour</li> <li>½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda</li> <li>pinch of salt 2 tablespoons</li> <li>caster sugar 1</li> <li>large egg 1 cup (250 ml)</li> <li>buttermilk 1</li> <li>red apple, about 150 g, cored and finely chopped 1 tablespoon</li> <li>sunflower oil 4 tablespoons</li> </ul> </div> <p><strong>Preparation</strong></p> <div> <ol> <li>Heat a small non–stick frying pan, add the hazelnuts and cook until golden brown, stirring and tossing constantly.</li> <li>Take care not to overcook the nuts as they burn easily.</li> <li>Tip them into a small bowl.</li> <li>Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl.</li> <li>Make a well in the centre.</li> <li>Lightly beat the egg with the buttermilk and pour into the well.</li> <li>Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture to make a smooth, thick batter.</li> <li>Add the apple and toasted hazelnuts, and stir in with a large metal spoon.</li> <li>Lightly brush a chargrill or heavy frying pan with a little of the oil, then heat over a moderate heat.</li> <li>Depending on the size of the chargrill or pan, you can cook about 4 pikelets at the same time.</li> <li>For each one, drop a heaped tablespoon of batter onto the hot surface.</li> <li>Bubbles will rise to the surface and burst.</li> <li>Gently slip a small palette knife under the pikelet to loosen it, then cook for a further 1 minute, or until the underside is golden brown.</li> <li>Turn the pikelet over and cook the other side for 1–2 minutes, or until golden.</li> <li>Remove the pikelets from the chargrill or frying pan and keep warm under a clean cloth.</li> <li>Cook the rest of the batter in the same way.</li> <li>When all the pikelets are cooked, quickly heat the maple syrup in a small saucepan just to warm it.</li> <li>Drizzle the syrup over the warm pikelets and serve immediately.</li> </ol> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/recipes/apple-and-hazelnut-pikelets"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Easy beef and mushroom stroganoff

<p>This version of the classic dish of quick–fried steak with mushrooms shows how vegetables can be used to enhance and ‘stretch’ a modest portion of meat. The result is every bit as special as true stroganoff, and is more in keeping with today's taste for meals that are not dominated by meat.</p> <div id="ingredients"><strong>Ingredients</strong> <ul class="no-bullet"> <li>2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil</li> <li>200 g chestnut mushrooms, halved</li> <li>1 red capsicum, seeded and cut into fine strips</li> <li>200 g broccoli, cut into small florets</li> <li>150 ml beef stock</li> <li>1 onion, sliced</li> <li>300 g fillet steak, cut into thin strips</li> <li>2 tablespoons brandy</li> <li>¼ cup horseradish cream (optional)</li> <li>⅔ cup (160 g) sour cream</li> <li>salt and pepper</li> </ul> </div> <p><strong>Preparation</strong></p> <div> <ol> <li>Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan.</li> <li>Add the mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes or until beginning to soften.</li> <li>Stir in the capsicum and broccoli florets and continue to fry, stirring, for 3–4 minutes.</li> <li>Pour in the stock and bring to the boil.</li> <li>Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the broccoli is just tender.</li> <li>Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and stir–fry the onion for about 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown.</li> <li>Add the strips of beef to the onions and stir–fry for 1 minute or until the beef begins to change colour.</li> <li>Stand safely back from the pan, pour in the brandy and set light to it.</li> <li>As soon as the flames subside, stir in the horseradish cream, if using, and the sour cream.</li> <li>Add the vegetables with their cooking liquid.</li> <li>Stir well, season to taste and serve immediately.</li> <li>A rice pilaff is the traditional Russian accompaniment for stroganoff; tagliatelle is very popular today.</li> <li>Boiled new potatoes are also delicious with this vegetable–rich version.</li> </ol> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/recipes/beef-and-mushroom-stroganoff"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Chewy persimmon and ginger cookies

<p>Everyone is a fan of cookies, and this recipe is definitely a crowd pleaser. Whether you pair it with afternoon tea, or sneakily snack on it throughout the day, these chewy biscuits are hard to resist and delicious to boot!</p> <p><strong>Ingredients</strong></p> <ul> <li>110g unsalted butter, room temperature</li> <li>1/2 cup of caster sugar</li> <li>1/2 tsp salt</li> <li>1 egg</li> <li>2 cups plain flour, sifted</li> <li>1 tsp baking powder, sifted</li> <li>1 tsp ground ginger, sifted</li> <li>1 tsp ground cinnamon, sifted</li> <li>1/2 tsp ground cloves, sifted</li> <li>1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, sifted</li> <li>2 heaped Tbs of chopped crystallised ginger</li> <li>1 cup raisins OR dried currants</li> <li>1 cup chopped walnuts OR pecans</li> <li>2 ripe persimmons, peeled and pureed</li> </ul> <p><strong>Method</strong></p> <ol> <li>Preheat oven to 180ºC or 170ºC fan forced.</li> <li>With an electric cake mixer, beat butter, sugar and salt until pale and fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined. Add persimmon puree and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Add flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Add raisins or currants and nuts and mix until combined.</li> <li>Drop teaspoons full of the batter onto a baking tray lined with parchment and bake for 15-20 minutes.</li> <li>Cool on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.</li> </ol> <p><em>Photo and recipe courtesy of </em><a href="https://www.persimmonsaustralia.com.au/project/chewy-persimmon-ginger-cookies/"><em>Persimmon Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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Sweet roast chicken bun

<div id="ingredients"><strong>Ingredients</strong> <ul class="no-bullet"> <li>⅓ cup (90 g) wholegrain mustard</li> <li>1 tablespoon honey</li> <li>4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, about 85 g each</li> <li>4 large hamburger buns, plain or wholemeal</li> <li>8 small cos lettuce leaves</li> <li>2 small ripe mangoes, sliced</li> <li>2 spring onions, thinly sliced (optional)</li> <li>salt and pepper</li> </ul> </div> <p><strong>Preparation</strong></p> <div> <ol> <li>Preheat the oven to 180°C.</li> <li>Mix the mustard and honey together and season to taste.</li> <li>Enlarge the hollow left by the bone in each chicken thigh, cutting to open them out.</li> <li>Press to flatten them a little.</li> <li>Place the thighs, smooth side up, in a lightly oiled ovenproof dish or small roasting pan.</li> <li>Set aside about 2 tablespoons of the honey and mustard mixture, and spread the remainder over the top of the chicken thighs.</li> <li>Roast for 12–15 minutes or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a knife.</li> <li>Meanwhile, split open the buns and toast them.</li> <li>Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom half of each bun, top with the mango slices and sprinkle with the spring onions, if using.</li> <li>Spread the reserved honey and mustard mixture over the underside of the top halves.</li> <li>Put the roast chicken thighs on top of the mango and spring onions, then top with the remaining lettuce.</li> <li>Put the tops of the buns on and press the sandwiches gently together.</li> <li>Serve immediately.</li> </ol> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/recipes/sweet-roast-chicken-bun"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Pizza vs cereal: Nutritionist weighs in on the healthier breakfast option

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A US dietician has suggested that eating a slice of pizza for breakfast is a healthier choice than a bowl of breakfast cereal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chelsey Amer, US dietician, caused a stir when she said the following, according to the </span><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/sns-dailymeal-1868354-healthy-eating-pizza-healthier-breakfast-cereal-20180126-story.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chicago Tribune</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">:</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“You may be surprised to find out that an average slice of pizza and a bowl of cereal with whole milk contain nearly the same amount of calories,” Amer said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“However, pizza packs a much larger protein punch, which will keep you full and boost satiety throughout the morning.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many nutritionists were quick to refute her claims. Although many cereals are known for their high sugar content, you don’t have to make that choice for breakfast.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.health.com/nutrition/pizza-more-nutritious-breakfast-cereal"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Health’s</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> contributing nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, said that not all breakfast cereals have to be off limits.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"A cereal made with whole grains, nuts or seeds, and fruit with organic grass-fed milk or plant-based milk is a better choice over a grease-laden pizza made with processed meat like pepperoni on a white flour crust," she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even though pizza sounds like a much more delicious option, you can even have leftovers for breakfast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Even a second helping of dinner set aside from the previous night can make a healthy breakfast if it's chock full of veggies and balanced—for example, a generous portion of veggies sauteed in EVOO with herbs tossed with a lean protein, or chicken breast or lentils with a small scoop of quinoa," Sass suggests. </span></p>

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How one Michelin starred chef deals with the enormous pressure

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">NYC’s The Langham Hotel had a Michelin star and was a well-known favourite of celebrities, such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Leonardo DiCaprio before 32-year-old chef Scott Schneider took over as head chef.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The restaurant, Ai Fiori, opened in 2010, with Schneider joining as a line cook in 2011 and he never thought he’d become head chef, let alone obtain the sought-after position in such a short timeline.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Schneider has retained the Michelin star status of the restaurant as he has been the head chef for a number of years. He spoke to </span><a href="https://kitchen.nine.com.au/2019/04/05/13/17/chef-scott-schneider-michelin-starred-chef-ai-fiori-the-langham-hotel-new-york-city"><span style="font-weight: 400;">9Honey Kitchen</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> about what to look out for in the reviewers who are in charge of handing out the stars. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We don’t really know when the [Michelin guide reviewers] come in," Schneider explained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, there are a few details to look out for.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Most of the time it's a French couple. They will usually order the tasting menu and they're usually looking at every little detail; under the tables, all the food, the menu, every tiny thing."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As Schneider was born in Ohio, went to a vocational culinary school and fell in love with food, he realised he needed a change of scenery.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I just I figured if I wanted to work in some great kitchens, then this was where I needed to be. They don’t really have that where I'm from in Ohio," he chuckles.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It's kind of surreal. I have family and friends that come from Ohio and they dine here and they're just blown away and say things like; 'you're the chef in this restaurant? Wow.' – sometimes you forget how wonderful it all is, and it helps you not to take it for granted." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, Schneider doesn’t let the pressure get to him. The variety of his work keeps him engaged, and the people he works with aren’t bad either.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"This [Ai Fiori] is home. We have a good team, you know. We're evolving the menu and food all the time and you can't get bored in the kitchen. If you get bored, then there's a problem."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Each dish that goes out is a team effort, which Schneider is proud of.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"A lot of research goes into each dish, we taste and play around with flavours and ideas," he says, adding that this is really "the fun bit,” he explained. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"When we get to a point where we're happy with it, we'll have our peers taste it, all the sous chefs will talk about it, maybe it needs more acid or a different herb or whatever. Then once we all agree, that's when the dish happens. It's not just me. It’s a team."</span></p>

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5 mistakes home cooks make whilst cooking traditional Italian dishes

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cooking pasta sounds like a task that should be easy, but creating an authentic Italian pasta dish is trickier than you think.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From the exact formula that makes up Bolognese sauce to how the pasta should be cooked is up for debate by many home chefs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, Giovanni Rana, who has been making pasta since the 1960s in Italy, has revealed the secrets to capturing the authentic taste of Italian cooking in your home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He’s shared a few tips to the </span><a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6872245/How-cook-traditional-Italian-dishes-home.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Daily Mail:</span></a></p> <p><strong>1. Follow the instructions on the pasta packaging</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are a lot of urban legends about al dente pasta but in Italy not everybody loves al dente pasta,” revealed Giovanni’s daughter-in-law Antonella.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“In the North they love it a little softer, into the South they love their pasta almost raw.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’d suggest always following the time printed on the packet. Fresh pasta is the quickest. We’re talking about just two minutes.</span>”</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Antonella revealed her personal way to cook pasta.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I personally love to drain the pasta 15 seconds before the full cooking time. If it’s written two minutes, I drain at 1:50 and in the very last 10 seconds I use a mixing bowl to mix the sauce in. This way you don’t overcook your pasta.”</span></p> <p><strong>2. Don’t add too much sauce</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Although it might seem like a good idea to cover your pasta in sauce, too much sauce could be a bad thing. Using the wrong proportion of sauce to pasta can be a dead giveaway to an inexperienced chef preparing Italian food.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“When you're speaking about fresh pasta tortellini, the filling has its own taste and power, as Italians we try not to cover it too much with the sauce. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Especially ricotta and spinach which is so delicate and so pure, that if you add a lot of sauce, you will see the pasta swimming in the sauce. It’s not a good sign,” Antonella explained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“In general, the most traditional way to eat fresh filled pasta is to be very respectful of the proportions. The queen is the pasta and the sauce is the tool.”</span></p> <p><strong>3. Never add ketchup!</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Using tomato ketchup instead of fresh tomatoes in sauce is another common mistake that is made by home chefs. According to Antonella, it’s just not the same.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Tomato ketchup for me, means burgers and casual food.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“In the tomato sauce you can really play with more veggies, for example garlic, onion, carrot, celery or you can play with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is a way to make contemporary Italian sauce. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If you want to do something more, try to work on doing tomato sauce in the Italian way. Roughly chop onion, garlic, fresh ripe tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Then add fresh basil, this is the most contemporary Italian sauce.”</span></p> <p><strong>4. Loss of flavour by adding already grated cheese</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Although it might be easier to use already grated cheese, you’ve already lost half the flavour in parmigiana.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Always buy parmigiana reggiano in a whole piece where you can see the crust and the stamp. Never buy it already grated, as you’ve already lost half the flavour,” Antonella said.</span></p> <p><strong>5. Not using extra virgin olive oil</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Antonella, extra virgin olive oil is a must-have in authentic Italian dishes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Extra virgin oil, it's a facilitator and platform that you can’t miss, never buy just olive oil as this means the olive fruits have been pressed two, three times and also their bones,' said Antonella. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“When you buy extra virgin it means they’ve pressed the olives just once and they press the pulp – the colour, flavour, nutrients and everything is better.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If you like light flavour buy from the North of Italy, if you like medium body then you go for the centre such as Tuscany. If you like bold, spicy flavour, you buy from Sicily.”</span></p>

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Hearty Chicken and root vegetable tray bake

<p>Healthy recipe blogger Lilian Dikmans shares her go-to meal recipe that requires minimal effort! She shares a delicious dinner bake recipe here.</p> <p>"I love tray bakes. They're versatile, require minimal effort and create minimal washing up. I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than do a mountain of dishes. They are also great if you're cooking for a crowd; just use a huge tray and add more ingredients.</p> <p>I use free-range chicken thighs (which I buy in bulk and freeze in portions) and then change up the root vegetables depending on what I have (i.e. what's in season/cheapest at the grocer). So feel free to adjust the recipe to suit what you have, keeping in mind that larger pieces of meat will require longer cooking time."</p> <p><strong>Ingredients:</strong></p> <ul> <li>4 free-range chicken thighs</li> <li>1 sweet potato</li> <li>2 small white potatoes (I used dutch cream ones)</li> <li>1/4 teaspoon chilli powder</li> <li>Sea salt</li> <li>Black pepper</li> <li>Olive oil</li> <li>Fresh parsley, to serve</li> </ul> <p><strong>Directions:</strong></p> <p>1. Preheat your oven to 180°C fan-forced. Place the chicken thighs in a large baking tray.</p> <p>2. Chop the potatoes into pieces about 3cm thick and arrange around the chicken. Drizzle everything with a good amount of olive oil and sprinkle over the chilli powder, some sea salt and cracked black pepper.</p> <p>3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and everything is browned. To serve, season with more sea salt and black pepper if required and top with torn up fresh parsley.</p> <p><strong>Tips:</strong></p> <p>I used skinless chicken thighs, but if you're using chicken with the skin on I would recommend searing the chicken skin-side down in a pan (or in the baking tray if it's flame-proof) before baking to ensure that the skin goes crispy.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/recipes/chicken-and-root-vegetable-tray-bake-ld.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Simply delicious coconut and banana custard

<p>Simple to make, sublime and smooth to taste, without the dairy products and refined sugar that most custard desserts contain.</p> <p>You can sprinkle a few cubes of peeled mango, sliced strawberries or blueberries over each custard before serving, and a small teaspoon of maple syrup to make it look pretty.</p> <p>A sprinkling of cinnamon over the top adds to the flavour. Enjoy!</p> <p><strong>Time to prepare: </strong>20 minutes</p> <p><strong>Serves: </strong>8 small custards</p> <p><strong>Ingredients: </strong></p> <p>2 cups coconut cream<span> </span></p> <p>¼ cup coconut nectar, or maple or rice syrup</p> <p>1 large banana</p> <p>1 tablespoon pure vanilla essence (vanilla extract)</p> <p>1 teaspoon agar-agar powder</p> <p><strong>Directions:</strong></p> <p>1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, for 4–5 minutes until it thickens slightly.</p> <p>2. Transfer the mixture to small moulds and allow to set in the refrigerator for a few hours.</p> <p><strong>Tips: </strong></p> <p>Agar-agar is a seaweed-based gelling agent used as a vegetarian replacement for gelatin. As a rule of thumb, to thicken 1 cup of liquid, use 1 teaspoon of agar-agar powder, 1 tablespoon of agar-agar flaked or ½ an agar-agar bar. Using the powder yields more consistent results.</p> <p>Substitute gelatin with the same amount of agar-agar powder. The solution you are trying to thicken with the agar-agar powder needs to be heated to boiling point and then allowed to simmer for about 5 minutes.</p> <p><em>Recipe extracted from Feed Your Brain: The Cookbook by Delia McCabe (RRP $34.99).</em></p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/recipes/coconut-and-banana-custards.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a>.</em></p>

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Delicious roast tomato and capsicum soup with crispy chorizo and fresh basil

<p>Packed with flavour you’ll be making this soup again and again, it’s perfect for the whole family and really cheap to make.</p> <p><strong>Ingredients</strong></p> <ul> <li>4 large capsicums</li> <li>6 large vine ripened mixed tomatoes (yellow, purple, red etc)</li> <li>1 punnet cherry tomates</li> <li>2 garlic cloves</li> <li>2 celery stalks</li> <li>1 red onion</li> <li>1 tbs tomato puree</li> <li>120g chorizo sausage (cut into cubes)</li> <li>½ bunch basil</li> <li>1 tin kidney beans</li> <li>Olive oil</li> <li>Salt and pepper</li> </ul> <p><strong>Directions</strong></p> <p>1. Cut the top off your capsicums and scoop out the seeds then place upside down onto an oven proof tray lined with greaseproof paper. Slice the large tomatoes into ¼s and place on the tray with the whole cherry tomatoes. Slice your red onion into ¼s and add them to the tray.</p> <p>2. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper and make sure all the veg is coated. Roast in the oven at 220°C for 15-20 mins until they start to colour and the skin from the capsicum blisters. Once cooked remove and leave to one side.</p> <p>3. In a pan slowly fry the chopped garlic and sliced celery. Remove the thin skin from the chorizo and dice then add ½ of the sausage and some finely chopped basil stalks to the pan. Cook for 2-3 mins until golden brown.</p> <p>4. Next add the tomato puree to the chorizo and cook for another 2 mins, add a little water so the tomato puree doesn’t burn.</p> <p>5. Once the capsicum has cooled, carefully remove the skin then roughly chop. Add the capsicum, roasted tomato and onion to a large thick bottomed pan along with the chorizo mix in the pan.</p> <p>6. Add 1 litre of boiling chicken stock to the pan and bring back to the boil. Whilst the soup is coming to the boil fry off the other half of the diced chorizo until really crispy then tip onto some kitchen roll to remove some of the grease.</p> <p>7. As soon as the soup starts to boil remove from the heat. Blend until smooth and adjust the seasoning, careful not to add too much salt. Add ½ bunch of basil leaves and blend once more.</p> <p>8. Finally mix in a tin of drained kidney beans into the soup and serve. Top with crispy chorizo.</p> <p><strong>Tips</strong></p> <p>Double the batch and freeze it until you need a quick dinner one evening. Remember this has meat in it so make sure to remove from the freezer the night before and heat until piping hot before serving.</p> <p>Recipe courtesy of Richard Kerrigan, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/rkthebeachlife/">The Beach Life</a>, Qualified Chef and Personal Trainer.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/recipes/roast-tomato-and-capsicum-soup-with-crispy-chorizo-and-fresh-basil.aspx"><em>Wyza.com.au.</em></a></p>

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