Easy mid-week lunches – salad jars

Salad jars have to be one of my favourite mid-week lunches, because they are so easy to prepare ahead of time and they keep everything crisp and fresh. For those who like to get organised for the week ahead, you can make a batch of 3-5 salads on a Sunday and just grab one on your way out the door each morning – talk about fuss-free! 

When it comes to salad combinations, just about anything goes with salad jars.There are no rules (aside from layering, which we’ll get to) you just need to get creative!

For my salads, I often re-use old cultured veggie jars with a wide mouth (see here) or you can buy mason jars like this which would work well too. I’ve found my salads keep fresh for 5-7 days.

How to make salad jars

Start by planning out what you’re having in your jars for the week ahead. Think about what vegetables you have in the fridge? What protein and carbs you will add? What dressing you’ll make?

I often keep my salad jars pretty simple – and my prep looks something like this….

First I’ll cook up some chicken breast in the oven (usually about 500g for the week), seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper, lemon and chilli flakes and then cooked in coconut oil. Next I’ll roast some vegetables in coconut oil – usually whatever is left in the fridge and about to turn…chopped carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato and zucchini. While the chicken and roasted veggies are cooking, I’ll drain and soak some chickpeas or cook up some quinoa or rice and chop the raw ingredients like tomato, cucumber, goats cheese/fetta etc…

With dressing, again keep things simple! I love lemon juice and olive oil  or apple cider vinegar with olive oil but you could always try something like a tahini and lemon juice, or seeded mustard with olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of honey!

Once everything is cooked, lay out all your ingredients across the bench like a production line including your jars, lids, chopped protein, cooked grains/carbohydrates, veggies and dressing.

Next it’s on to the layering…

assembling your salad jar

The trick to keeping your salad jars fresh is all in the layering technique! Stick to this as closely as you can and you’re guaranteed to have delicious, fresh salads!

Layer 1 (base of the jar)– salad dressing 
Layer 2 – Hard vegetables – things like carrot, celery, capsicum, red onion, cucumber
Layer 3 – A slow releasing carbohydrate like quinoa, chickpeas or brown rice
Layer 4 – Soft vegetables – things like avocado, tomato
Layer 5 – Protein layer – cooked chicken, boiled egg or cheese
Layer 6 (final layer) – Leafy greens – rocket, baby spinach or lettuce

Starting at the base with layer 1, fill each  of your jars and then move on to the next layer. Once you’ve filled your jars, seal the lids tightly and pop then into the fridge.

When you’re ready to eat, simply tip the contents of your salad jar into a big bowl! 

As I said earlier, get as creative as you like with your combinations. Don’t like chicken, substitute it for tuna. Hate eggs, leave them out! Paleo, no problems! roast up some sweet potato. My point is, salad jars are the perfect fuss-free mid-week lunch because they are SO versatile.

To get you started….here are three AMAZING salad jar recipes for you to try!

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Shrimp and Feta Cobb Salad via Savoring The Thyme

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Antipasto Mason Jar Salad via Organize Yourself Skinny

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Greek Zucchini Salad in a Mason Jar via The Beachbody

Do you love salad jars too? I’d love to know your fav combos in the comments below!

10 BEST Healthy Winter Dessert Recipes

As a Health and Wellness Coach I am constantly amazed at how many people think that dessert is a no-go zone if they are eating healthy! Well I’m here to say that eating healthy means enjoying ALL food which absolutely includes dessert. Seriously life is TOO short not to enjoy a delicious dessert every now and again! 

With the cold Winter nights I am loving cooking up a slow cooked meal for my family, and finishing off with a healthy dessert. There is just something so warm and comforting about a steaming bowl of crumble or a self-saucing pudding. 

To share the love and to inspire you to get back into the kitchen and whip up some healthy desserts this Winter. I’ve curated 10 best healthy winter dessert recipes. I hope you enjoy them xx

READ MORE

How to make homemade Bone Broth

After a recent bout of sickness in our family, I’ve been really focused on boosting our gut health by incorporating as many gut healing foods into our meals as possible. I’ve talked before on how to improve your gut health through a variety of different ways, but today I wanted to focus on the healing benefits of homemade bone broth.
 
Many people know how to use regular stock in cooking, which is essentially what bone broth is. Although the REAL health benefits of bone broth come from simmering the bones or carcass for anywhere up to 72 hours, which allows the marrow to be cooked down and the minerals and amino acids to be released.
 
Introducing bone broth into my diet and our families meals has been a gradual process. I’m not quite at the stage where I can drink a cup of broth straight up first thing in the morning…..BUT I’m definitely working my way up to that point. For us, we add bone broth into many of our meals whether that be in soups, slow cooks, a small amount into my daughter’s mash and a recent favourite has been cooking meats in the frypan using broth.
 
Knowing that broth has some amazing health benefits beyond gut health has been the biggest draw card for me. I truly believe that we are what we eat and absorb, so the more nutrients I can pack into my meals the better!
 
Bone broth not only supports your immune system, its also brilliant for your skin. hair and connective tissue. An added benefit I’ve seen since introducing broth into my diet is that my digestion is much better, I’ve seen a big decrease in overall bloating and gas and I feel as though I’m digesting food a lot better.
 
As we hit the peak of Winter here in Australia, adding bone broth to your diet is a great support if you’re fighting off a cold or flu. Adding spices to a warm bowl of broth will release watery fluids in your mouth, throat and lungs, which will help release any mucus so that it’s easier to expel. Broth is all high in valuable nutrients in a form that our bodies can easily absorb and use. So instead of reaching for vegemite on toast this winter, reach for a nourishing bowl of homemade bone broth and boost your health from the inside out!
 

How to make homemade bone broth

When choosing bones for making bone broth, you want to use the best quality that you can afford. You want to draw out minerals and amino acids from bones that do not contain any chemicals or pesticides like so many commercially bought bones do. My best piece of advice is to source grass-fed, grass-finished or organic bones.

Good quality butchers will have ‘soup bones’ or off cuts from chicken (like giblets or feet) that you can use. I will often just keep the carcass of an organic chook that we’ve had from dinner.

Ingredients

  • 500g-1kg bones (I use a whole chicken carcass or two or beef bones)
  • 4-5 litres of filtered water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (this helps break down the bones and draw out the minerals and amino acids)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large carrots 
  • 2 celery stalks, rough chopped
  • salt, pepper, and spices to taste

Directions

Place bones in a large stockpot or slow cooker and cover with water. Add the vinegar. 

Roughly chop the vegetables and add to the stockpot.

Bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer (if using the slow cooker, I simply add all ingredients and turn setting on to low).

For beef broth, as a guide simmer for approximately 48 hours.  

Chicken broth takes sightly less time, but I recommend at least 24 hours.

You’ll know when your broth is ready as the liquid will be quite dark, and the bones will start to crumble and break away.

When you’re ready to remove your broth, allow it to cool slightly and strain into glass storing jars. I will often store mine in 1-2 large mason jars as well as smaller portions into ice-cube trays or old baby food containers.

I’d love to hear how you are using bone broth in your diets too, share in the comments below so we can all benefit from the amazing healing properties of broth.

10 Healthy Winter Warming Soup Recipes

One of my favourite ways of nourishing my body during the cooler months is to make up a healthy winter warming soup.

Soups are such a versatile meal that can be made ahead of time, frozen for a later date, or reheated as leftovers or a quick mid-week meal.

Aside from being super simple to make, soups are highly nutrient dense, easily digested and packed full of nutrients, minerals and dietary fibre. Depending on their ingredients, most soups are almost a complete meal balancing essential macronutrients like protein, carbohydrate and fats.

To help get your creative juices flowing in the kitchen, we’ve curated 10 healthy winter warming soup recipes to keep your tummies full and warm.

I am so excited to share these delicious recipes with you, here’s to a healthy and happy Winter!READ MORE

Craving junk food? This could be why.

Each and every day, we are literally bombarded with junk food. It’s quick, convenient and available 24/7. You only need to walk out of your house, into your local cafe, supermarket or 7/11 store and you have an overwhelming choice of processed sugary foods available at your finger tips. And, whilst most of us know the benefits of eating whole, nutrient dense foods, for many of us cravings still exist. But what if I told you there could be something more behind that craving? that perhaps you’re craving junk food for a reason! READ MORE

The workout I just had to share By The Nourishing Space

The exercise routine that I had to share

Since finding this routine, I knew I had to share it with you (and everyone I know). After the first session I was literally bounding down the stairs to tell my husband all about. I burst into work that day and excitingly told my colleagues, I think I even told a random stranger at the shops! Yep, that’s HOW excited I was/am about finding a new routine that fits!

Ok I hear you! So what’s this new routine? Where’s the timetable? How can I book into a class?

The exercise routine I had to share….READ MORE

Brekkie and Blooms March 2016 Wrap Up

Brekkie and Blooms March 2016 Wrap Up

It’s safe to say that I’ve just had a PERFECT morning! A deliciously nourishing breakfast, wonderful company, creative juices flowing and all this surrounded by flowers! If this sounds like your idea of perfection too then keep on reading….

The perfect morning I’m describing is Brekkie and Blooms, a collaboration with the talented ladies over at Makers Society where we share a beautifully prepared breakfast and a workshop around floral arrangement. 

Held at one of my favourite workshop venues, the Hop & Grain Brew Store in Marrickville, we kicked things off with a super healthy breakfast of chunky banana granola, fresh fruits, seeds, nuts, chia puddings, green smoothies, and a selection of freshly brewed teas. Over breakfast I shared with the beautiful women who attended the importance of eating a nourishing breakfast, and how this sets the tone for your entire day. We talked about how the food they were about to eat would sustain them for hours and give them loads of energy! and as a takeaway I shared my super simple banana granola and green smoothie recipes. 

Once the feast was done, we moved onto the blooms. A colourful array of fresh flowers purchased bright and early that morning by Makers Society. It’s always fun to see what everyone produces and how very different each person’s arrangement becomes despite everyone working with the same flowers and foliage. If you want to more photos from the day, head over to my Facebook page

If you missed this Brekkie & Blooms workshop, don’t stress, we are running another on Saturday 11th June – get your tickets here!

The Nourishing Space By Penny Demetriou

I want to help you live your healthiest life!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I do what I do, and I got it down to one simple fact: I want to show people that healthy living CAN BE simply and easy.

With so much emphasis on ‘health and wellness’ in the media over the past few years, and with so many new books, cafes, apps, websites, fad-diets and blogs popping up every day designed to help us make better choices when it comes to our health, ironically it seems that the majority of us are just down right confused!

 

In a crowded industry that is overflowing with mixed messages, I want to help you gain some clarity. I really want to hear from you about what I can do to make healthy living as simple and as fuss-free as possible.

I would love you to take the time to answer 10 simple questions below. Your feedback is so valuable to me (and ultimately to you) as this will help shape the information that I create and share with you, so you can live your happiest, healthiest life!

 

Take the survey now

healthy office snacks

Healthy Office Snacks

For many of us today marked the first week back for the New Year! and if you’re anything like me, you’re likely to still be dreaming about the beach and wondering how time went by way too quickly… So to kick off 2016 on the right foot, and perhaps get your nutrition back on track after a few too many naughty treats here are some of my favourite healthy office snacks.

When it comes to healthy office snacks, my rule of thumb is that they must be nutrient dense, quick and convenient and totally portable! (think home to office minus the spills, squishiness and general mess).

Healthy office snacks

1. My Paleo Muffins – these muffins are super simple to make, freeze really well and are the perfect nourishing morning or afternoon tea snack. I will often make a batch of these each week, and will change up which fruits I add depending on what’s in the house. Set aside some time on the weekend to prepare these babies for the week ahead and you WON”T be disappointed.

2. Chopped veggies & dips – So simple and easy! Literally chop whatever veggies you have in the fridge (think celery, carrot, cucumber, raddish etc..) pop them into a bag or container with some dip. My nutritional tip: To help keep you feeling full, aim for a protein based dip like hummus or tzatziki.

3. Almond butter with….Corn thins, apples, banana, on it’s own – My ultimate go-to snack when I’m in a hurry! (or when I’m not near a health food store) almond butter is available everywhere these days and is perfect for your work draw when those 3pm hunger pains kick in. Perfect a top of chopped apple slices, corn thins, banana or on its own as I’ve been known to do…..

4. Bliss Balls – Some of my recipes are here , here and here

5. Chia Pudding – Make up a big batch of this recipe and portion into small jars for the working week! Top with some delicious homemade granola for an extra healthy treat!

6. Homemade Trail Mix – Much better than some of those nasty ones you can buy from the shops which are filled with dried fruit (so many nasty chemicals that wreck havoc on your guts!). Make your trail mix nut based, add in some seeds, shredded coconut, cacao nibs for a chocolate hit and goji berries for antioxidants.

7. Hard boiled eggs – The ultimate wholefood. Perfect nutrition in its own little package!

8. Air popped popcorn – Simply pop corn kernels in a little coconut oil, season with Himalayan sea salt and store in an air tight container.

9. Yoghurt and berries – Top natural/greek/coconut of sheeps yoghurt with fresh or frozen berries for a delicious sweet treat minus the guilt.

10. Fresh fruit – Seasonal fresh fruit has to be the simplest quick and easy snack there is. Stock up in your weekly grocery or farmers market shop so you’re prepped for the week.

Have I missed your favourite go-to healthy snack? Let me know in the comments below.

You can find more simple and nourishing recipes for your working week in my eBook which has been created with busy people in mind! This is my go-to guide for healthy breakfast, lunch and snack ideas for when you want something healthy in a hurry! Why not invest in your health this year!

You can pick up your instant copy of my ebook HERE!

Top tips for Slow Cooking

When it comes to feeding my family, these days I am all about fuss-free nutrition! For now, the days of lovingly preparing meals for hours on end are a distant memory and in its place are super easy, ‘chuck it all in’ kinda meals that can be prepared within minutes.

Cue my best friend in the kitchen, Mr Slowcooker. I’ve said it a million times over, but a slow cooker has seriously saved my butt (and my sanity) quite a few times this year! My slow cooked Lamb Shanks have made an almost weekly appearance…. But for those yet to jump on the Slow Cooking bandwagon, this is one kitchen item that I promise you WILL use. Over and over and over again.

Slow cooking ticks a bunch of our nutritional boxes. It cries out for economical, sustainable cuts of meat that benefit from a longer cooking time and preserves enzymes to create highly nutritious meals with minimal fuss. The best part about Slow cooking is that it is about real food that is economical, sustainable, and damn easy.

My good friends over at I Quit Sugar, are just as big a Slow Cooking fans as I am. So much so, that they recently released a hardcopy version of their I Quit Sugar Slow Cooker Cookbook. 

Today they’ve shared some of their top Slow Cooking tips with me.

9 important things to know about slow cooking

  1. Less is more: Don’t add as much water as conventional slow-cooked recipes indicate. When you’re using a slow cooker the liquid doesn’t reduce in the same way that it would on a stovetop. Generally one cup of liquid is enough for most recipes unless it contains a starch like rice or pasta.
  1. Lid on is best: Always cook the meal with the lid on, except in the case of baking, or cooking puddings where you may need to remove the lid for a period of time.
  1. Keep your mitts off: Your slow cooker works best when undisturbed. You’ll need to add an additional 20 minutes on high each time you lift the lid. If you need to stir, do it in the last few hours.
  1. Don’t stress about cooking times: The times in this book are approximate. Timing is not critical to a dish’s success, however the longer a meal cooks the better the flavour and the more tender the meat will be.
  1. Some peace of mind: Even if you leave your slow cooker on for 12 hours the meat won’t burn, stick or dry up.
  1. Some foods don’t belong in a slow cooker: Avoid slow cooking crisp green veggies, noodles, Chinese vegetables and pasta. These ingredients are best served on the side. Check out the A Few Clever Sides chapter for some tasty options.
  1. Order matters: It’s generally best to put veggies in first with meat on top unless specified.
  1. Frozen veggies: Can be tossed straight in. No need to defrost
  2. The Golden Rule: Most casseroles with meat and vegetables need about eight hours on low.

Is there any tips that we’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.

Still looking for inspiration? Then check out The I Quit Sugar Slow Cooker Cookbook here.