Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad

Have you ever had one of those nights where you end up talking to friends for so long over a glass of wine that you don’t get to eating dinner until 10pm? A night where the conversation flows like the wine and you realise that the new addition to the group fits in perfectly and you just want to keep talking and getting to know them? On Saturday night Chris and I met the new girlfriend of one of Chris’s cousins – she fit into our quirky little group perfectly and it was kind of nice to have another girl at the table.

Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Despite the chilly spring night we rugged up in cardigans and sat out on the verandah talking for hours. There were grilled steaks and sausages for the omnivores, and as my contribution I brought along two side salads. I find that it eases my anxiety over my food requirements if I contribute one or two things to the dinner table that I can eat, and everyone else can enjoy as well.

Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis pasta salad dismisses the traditional gluggy, mayo-heavy, soggy, monochrome pasta salad. It’s nearly summer people! I want colour, texture, vibrancy, flavour in my pasta salad. I want something that holds it’s own at the table with a bit of spicy bite that displays some of the best produce of summertime. In Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad the pasta plays a supporting role to the bright raw veggies who take centre stage. The fresh sweetcorn is cut straight from the cob and mixed with jewel-bright capsicum, enticing coriander, and a spiced olive oil dressing.

Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis salad is your perfect summertime side: you can make it ahead of time, once the past is cooked everything comes together super quick so fabulous flavour doesn’t have to mean hours spent in the kitchen, and it lasts well in the refrigerator so leftovers are perfect for lunch or dinner the next day! Say hello to your time-saving summer meal for any occasion, from barbecues to quick after work family dinners. And with all that time saved you have more time to spend talking to friends old and new!

Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad

Serves 6-8 | Vegan | Gluten Free | Leftovers will last in the fridge for 2-3 days

Adapted from ‘Spicy Corn, Tomato, Avocado Salad’ on Shutterbean

Note: If you do not require this to be gluten free you can use wheat pasta instead of gluten free pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 340 grams (~12 oz) dried medium-shape pasta (I used Heinz Gluten Free Mini Rigatoni)
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (~3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red capsicum
  • 3 cobs fresh sweet corn, shucked
  • 3 green (spring) onions
  • Large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Cook pasta until al dente according to packet instructions. This seems like a lazy recipe instruction, but each pasta brand/type will vary. Once cooked, drain, rinse and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. While the pasta is cooking whisk together garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Set aside until needed.
  3. Core capsicum, discard centre, top and seeds, and then dice capsicum into ~1cm cubes. Place in a large bowl.
  4. Cut kernels off corn cobs and place kernels in bowl with capsicum.
  5. Thinly slice the white and light green parts of the green onions and place in bowl too.
  6. Add cooked and cooled pasta and dressing to bowl and toss thoroughly.
  7. Finish by tossing fresh coriander through the pasta salad.

Spicy Corn and Capsicum Pasta Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

 

 

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Eight

I have just come back from a big walk along the water. The waves were whipped up by a strong bay breeze today and there were windsurfers and and yachts enjoying a sparkling spring day  out on the water. Chris and I have a busy week of work, professional training, cooking, running, and entertainment ahead of us (all things we are looking forward to) and today I am grateful for a moment to reflect on the week that was and all that I was grateful for. Here is is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Eight.

Monday: I am the type of person who spends half her day staring at the sky. Even when I was in school, the lure of the blue, grey, cloudy or clear sky outside was hard to resist staring at. I am grateful for the big wide open windows in my office and for the chance to walk outside at lunchtime and just soak in the sun.

sky

Tuesday: I started this morning with a sunrise run by the harbour, and it was a good omen for the rest of the day. When our evening run got cancelled due to a thunderstorm, Chris insisted that he would make me dinner. The man has a hidden talent for making perfect mashed potato – my love language. I was grateful for this act of delicious kindness and a night off from kitchen duty.

harbour run

Wednesday: Tonight Chris and I headed down to the harbour after work for a run together along the slow winding footpath from the mangroves and out onto the pier where you can see the lights of our bayside suburb and out into the inky black bay. I was grateful for the wind down after a busy day at work, and for the time together with Chris.

Thursday: Today we had a big project due at work and thanks to the help of my colleagues, and a little butt-in-chair action from me, we had it out the door before lunch time! I was grateful for their help and for getting the project off without too much fuss. When I got home I went for a celebratory run and I was grateful to watch the sun dip behind the city and feel the freedom of being out in the night air.

Friday: Tonight I went home for a sleepover at Mum and Dad’s place while Chris was out having fun with some friends. Mum made wonderful mushroom omelettes and a crunchy cucumber and cherry tomato salsa for dinner and then we laid on the couch with full bellies (and a few squares of mint chocolate) and watched British murder shows. A classic night at home and I was grateful for puppy snuggles and big chats with Mum and Dad.

be magazine

Saturday: This morning Mum and I went out for a market date just the two of us. I had a deliciously chewy gluten free chia seed bagel (thank you Bagel Boys) and Mum had her customary pancake with warm cherries. I was grateful to spend a long morning wandering the market stalls and talking to Mum about life. I headed out for a run before Chris and I had dinner with some friends and talked and played boardgames late into the night (and early into the morning). Grateful for a day of fun.

ranunculus

Sunday: Today has gotten off to a great start: a sleep in, a long walk, a big slice of raspberry coconut bread and some watermelon for breakfast, and now I am off to do some baking, some writing, and perhaps indulging in some afternoon napping. Grateful for a whole day of blue skies and relaxation in front of me.

Also this week:

Tell me dear readers, how has your week been? What are you most grateful for this week?

Thoroughly Nourished Finds – Inspiration and Escapism

Things in the world are getting really real at the moment, and because I don’t listen to the radio, or watch the news I find out about them on the internet, or through friends (and then end up trawling the internet for more information). Bad people, bad things, big decisions about the future of countries and people, all of these things are flooding the pages of this big wide web world. In these times we can only reach out to each other, give a kind word, a kind touch, try to spread a message of hope. Without the intention of belittling the problems of the world, perhaps we can all share in some good things on the internet, some support for our fellow humans. This month my Thoroughly Nourished Finds are about inspiration and escapism and just a little hope that the end of 2014 will find the world walking a more peaceful track.

Inspiration

After reading this article in The Atlantic about Afghan girls who live as boys for a few years I cannot wait to read the forthcoming book.

Somedays I feel like I am too old (I know, I’m only 27 Mum) to start something new and creative like writing that book I’ve always wanted too, but this Manifesto for the Late-Blooming Writer is consolation and inspiration.

I want to gather my friends together in the summer light for feasts where I can  wrap myself in the protection of their laughter and light. I would serve them Baked Almond Pancake, or perhaps Grilled Eggplant Rolls with Cream Cheese and Herbed Millet, or Veggie Chilli with a big pitcher of Fresh Honeydew Margaritas. Nourish them while nourishing my soul.

Thank you Ben and Jerry’s. Love does come in all flavours.

Escapism

Burning Man 2014 Artworks. I love ‘The Embrace’ although I don’t know where I’d put it in my tiny backyard, and the ‘Hayam Sun Temple’ is strikingly designed and perfect as a reflective space.

Wonder if they’d set up one of these mobile pools in my office car park this summer if I asked really nicely? I’ll bring the sangria.

The kick-butt princesses that Disney will probably never touch, but oh wouldn’t it be awesome to see some of these strong women on screen someday! (more here)

I dare you not to cry at this story and beautiful photo shoot for a single Mum with cancer.

Hope

Martin Luther King Jr once said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I wish to see light and love change this world, so I will practice light and love in my life. Perhaps it’s naive of me, but if we all practiced being the light and the love, each little corner of the world would have light up with a spark, and slowly that would become a fire of light and love, tolerance, peace, justice, hope, creativity, that would consume all of humanity. That is my hope.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

It has come to my attention that in the two and a half year life of this blog I have never posted an appetiser recipe. Please don’t think I am anti-appetiser. Quite the opposite in fact. I fully acknowledge the power of an interesting and palate delighting appetiser to help stimulate conversation between dinner guests and bring people together over a new flavour experience. The corks are popped, the first glasses of wine are poured and just like magic the veil of the night is drawn over the party and conversations, laughter, and friendly arguments begins.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Appetisers are a welcoming gesture to your guests. They set the dinner party apart from an every night meal. They show that you have given extra thought to what might delight their senses and relax them into the evening.

When I saw these miniature sweet peppers at the markets the other weekend I knew they would make the perfect base for a summertime appetiser. The first stalks of sweet corn have been showing up in our markets and grocery stores lately too, and rather than just eating them all quickly steamed and greedily devoured in a shower of corn juice, I decided to celebrate these two heralds of summer with a recipe perfect for long hot evenings filled with cool glasses of sparkling wine, and the sparkling company of my friends.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The best part of this appetiser is that it will not have you stressing out. These boats of summery goodness can be prepared in advance, and they are just as good served hot, cold or anywhere in between. If you have an eclectic mix of dietary requirements at your dinner party (which is increasingly common nowadays) you can rest assured that these are gluten free, vegetarian, and can be made dairy-free/vegan by omitting the cheese. I do love the addition of the cheese to the sweet thyme, smoky paprika, and slight bite of chilli flakes.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

Makes 20 halves | Easily multiplied | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Vegan variation: leave out mozzarella. Otherwise prepare as directed.

Ingredients

  • 10 mini sweet peppers (capsicums)
  •  2 large cobs of corn, outside layers removed
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoke paprika
  • Small pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  •  1/3 cup grated mozzarella

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
  2. Halve mini peppers from top to bottom. Remove white ribs and seeds from the inside. You can leave the green stalk on for decorative purposes, or remove if you wish.
  3. Lay halved peppers on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Cut kernels from each corn cob. The easiest way to do this is to cut each cob in half and place the flat (cut) section on the chopping board and then cut down, keeping close to the cob, removing the kernels.
  5. Finely dice red onion.
  6. Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a medium frying pan. Place corn kernels, red onion, paprika, chilli flakes (if using), fresh thyme, salt, and pepper into pan. Cook until the onion is translucent and the corn has turned a darker yellow. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Cool to room temperature.
  7. Mix grated cheese into cooled corn mixture.
  8. Using clean hands scoop corn mixture into the prepared sweet peppers. Press down slightly to ensure the mixture is packed inside. Place stuffed peppers back onto baking tray. Repeat until they are all filled.
  9. Place peppers into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove and serve. Leftovers will keep up to two days in the refrigerator. They are an excellent addition to a lunchtime salad.

Paprika Corn Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake

Thoroughly Nourished Home Update: Our house is now officially a cleared piece of dirt! This is exciting news friends because only a few weeks ago there were still a few old houses and some scrubby trees in the place where our new townhouse will stand next year. It was a little disheartening to see no progress over the past few months, but then suddenly we have movement! I can’t wait to share some photos with you all when there is finally something more than dirt to see. Today I’d rather show you photos of this gluten free Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake.

Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chris and I took this cake to Mum and Dad’s on Sunday where we spent most of our visit measuring out our new house from the plans. Mum helpfully moved couches and stood on the tape measure so that I could get a clear vision of exactly what our home will look like. After all her hard work it was all I could do to reward her with a generous slice of this spiced cake and a dollop of whipped cream. The special thing about this cake (that you will love) is that the moist berry-studded cinnamon tea cake is topped with a crunchy, buttery, lemon-infused crumble. I could eat handfuls of this crumble on its own. I have fantasies about this crumble topping being acceptable on top of my yoghurt for breakfast.

Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Allowing the crumble to bake though is a worthy sacrifice; after baking the crumble becomes a slightly crispy shell for the soft cake underneath. A perfect contrast of textures. I wanted the cake to be moist, so I used all brown sugar for sweetening, a larger proportion of almond meal in my gluten free flour mix, and moistened the batter further with buttermilk. The slight acidity of the berries combined with the crispy crumble and the cinnamon crumb had me thinking of pie. This cake is like a pie, only easier and faster. Pies have their place, but when a quick morning tea is called for, this cake is your friend combining the ease of a cake with the familiar flavours of a summer berry pie.

Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

When you make this your home fills with the scent of lemon, butter, and cinnamon. You won’t be able to resist picking little bits of the topping off the cooling cake (or maybe you have more self-control than I do). I can’t wait for Mum and Dad (and many others) to visit us in our new home, and stay for a slice or two of this homey crumble-topped cake.

Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake

Gluten Free | Serves 8-12 | Leftovers keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days

Ingredients

For the crumble

  • 1 tablespoon white rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon almond meal
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 30 grams butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds

For the cake

  • 90 grams white rice flour
  • 90 grams brown rice flour
  • 100 grams almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup blackberries, frozen (or fresh)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with a circle of baking paper to make removal easier.
  2. Make the crumble first: In a small bowl mix together white rice flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, caster sugar, and lemon zest. Mix in melted butter until large crumbs form. Mix flaked almonds through the crumbs. Set aside until needed.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together white rice flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In a large bowl beat softened butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until light and creamy. You can do this with a wooden spoon (work those muscles) or using a handheld mixer.
  5. Add eggs and beat until smooth.
  6. Add whisked flour in two lots, alternating with the buttermilk.
  7. Carefully fold the blackberries into the batter. Only use a few strokes so that you do not break up the berries and stain the batter.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan and smooth the top carefully. Sprinkle crumble mixture over the top.
  9. Place into oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Cool, slice and enjoy. Goes well with whipped cream (or so I’ve heard).

Lemon Crumble Blackberry Tea Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Seven

This week has been full of precious moments with friends old and new, and time with my family. I have also been thinking about taking opportunities when they come knocking. Sometimes you have to take the leap, you have to chance the fall in the hope that you might fly. The comfort of staying the same, of continuing to loop in the same behaviour pattern is a strong draw, but somewhere underneath that anaesthesia lies the temptation of dancing to a new tune and being rewarded with success. What do you think, dear reader?

manly waterfront

Here is my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Seven:

Monday: I started this week with a day full of activity. An early morning Jillian Michaels’ workout and an afternoon run. I was grateful to sleep well tonight, and grateful for this body that carries me through each and every day.

Tuesday: Today I had a text message cartoon conversation with Caroline about grammar. I am so grateful for these tiny points of connection to the important people in my life in the simplest of ways, and for the laughter and smiles they bring.

Wednesday: Today I wasn’t feeling the best, and when I came home this evening I was grateful to just rest and recharge with Chris. We even made it out of the house for an evening run along the water.

stuffed capsicums

Thursday: Today I had a bad low blood pressure day. They happen once in a while, and while I relaxed and concentrated on getting my stress levels down (one of my biggest triggers) I realised that I was grateful for the chance to step back for a moment, and grateful that my body has ways of telling me to slow down and look around at the wonderful things in my life that I have to be grateful for.

Friday: Recently I connected with bemagazine: an online magazine from Generation Better by Medibank and they are featuring two of my recipes over the next few weeks. Today they published the first recipe! I am so grateful for this opportunity to connect with an initiative that is supporting and rewarding people who are making healthy changes in their lives.

coriander salad

Saturday: Tonight Chris and I got all fancied up and went to my ten year high school reunion! I cannot believe it has been that long since I donned my uniform every day and spent my hours doing math problems, writing speeches in English, and huddling over a Bunsen burner with Caroline, Josie, and my other high school friends. Although it has been a long time, and time does leave some cobwebs over connections, I was grateful to see the people who shared some of the most important years of my younger life.

Sunday: This morning Chris and I went over to have morning tea with Mum and Dad. We sat and chatted and Dad and I washed my car. I was grateful to start a relaxing Sunday off with a quiet moment with my family and some hugs and kisses from my favourite malamute.

mum and molly

Also this week:

Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Peanut Glaze

Are you a doughnut lover? I have long been a lover of doughnuts especially the hot cinnamon covered doughnuts that are so common in every food court around Australia. When I was little and Mum and Dad would take my sister and I to the small local shopping centre I would stand with my nose pressed against the glass of the small doughnut stand. My wide eyes would watch as the attendant pressed a button to dispense a perfect ring of dough into hot oil, after a minute or two she would flip the doughnut over to fry on the other side. The doughnut would then be drained and flipped into a shimmering bucket of cinnamon and sugar before being slipped into a paper bag and then placed in my hands still warm and fragrant with the comfort of all that is good in the world.

Peanut Butter Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Although that doughnut stand is no longer there, and I can no longer belly up to any doughnut counter I want and order a ring of cinnamon-sugar coated warm carbohydrate comfort, I still love doughnuts and they still mean comfort to me.
I have yet to try making a fried version, but for now I am happy playing around with my mini doughnut pan and the many flavour opportunities provided by being able to bake doughnuts at home – and I can easily make them gluten free too!

Peanut Butter Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeYou will love how easily these peanut butter and chocolate treats come together. The ratio of flavour pay off to actual work is high here. Meaning: you get delicious home-baked treats for less than twenty minutes of work.
When you remove them from the oven I dare you not to sneak one out of the pan for a quick taste test! These make your house smell like warm melted peanut butter and brown sugar. There is nothing but comfort and sweet memories there. Once they are cooled you dip them into pure melted chocolate and then quickly into chopped salted peanuts. You can eat them warm with chocolate dripping down your chin, but they are just as enjoyable once they have cooled and the chocolate has set. I boxed these up quickly after they set to gift Dad for Father’s Day, but I did manage to steal one. (For quality assurance of course.)

Peanut Butter Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I can promise if you present a tray of these to your loved ones, or your colleagues, you will be met with awe and then a frantic scurrying for people to get to the tray first. Just don’t tell them how truly easy they are. Sometimes comfort is only a mixing bowl away.

Peanut Butter Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifePeanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Peanut Glaze

Gluten Free | Makes 15 Mini Doughnuts

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 30 grams butter
  • 60 grams (1/3 cup + 1tbs) white rice flour
  • 60 grams (1/3 cup + 1tbs) brown rice flour
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup + 1tbs) almond meal
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) buckwheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar

For the glaze:
150 grams semi-sweet dark chocolate
½ teaspoon vegetable oil
¾ cup salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and thoroughly grease two twelve hole miniature doughnut pans.
  2. In a small bowl melt peanut butter and butter together by microwaving in short 30 second bursts. Stir in between. Once completely melted, set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together white rice flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, buckwheat flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and brown sugar.
  5. Whisk melted peanut butter mixture into milk mixture slowly until completely smooth.
  6. Whisk wet mixture into dry mixture until smooth.
  7. Spoon mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe mixture into doughnut pan. Remember to fill the holes only 2/3 full as the mixture will rise.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden and spring back when gently pressed down.
  9. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. After five minutes turn the doughnuts out onto the cooling rack to cool completely before glazing.
  10. To make the glaze: chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in short bursts in the microwave and stir in between. Once completely melted and smooth mix in vegetable oil. Dunk one side of each doughnut into the glaze and then into the chopped peanuts. Place on a line baking sheet for the glaze to set. You may wish to place this tray in the refrigerator once all doughnuts have been topped.
  11. Keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two to three days. Bring to room temperature before eating for maximum enjoyment.

Peanut Butter Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad with Paprika and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Quick announcement: Thoroughly Nourished Life now has a Facebook page. Come and join me at the table for the latest updates, interesting articles, and recipes.

On Saturday I went to see The Hundred Foot Journey. In addition to being a great story about love, family, and the power of the human spirit, this movie made me want to do nothing but cook for a week. The wide panning shots of fresh market vegetables, and watching the characters prepare and devour delicious dishes with the same intense love I feel for food got my cooking brain hungry for some time in the kitchen. Having this in my head when I went grocery shopping after the movie may have been a bad idea. I ended up with a basket overflowing with lush spring vegetables and fruits. Luckily I have so many ideas for recipes to enjoy them in, and share with you.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I couldn’t resist this beautiful eggplant while I was shopping on Saturday, especially after the French market scenes of tables laden with eggplant and its summertime brethren. Eggplant is one of those foods that falls into the ‘love it or hate it’ category of vegetables. I’m a lover. I’m hoping that after you try this salad you will be an eggplant lover too.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The first important step to take when approaching an eggplant dish is to pick out the perfect eggplant. You want to find one that has tight shiny skin with few marks and no soft spots. Eggplants can vary in skin colour from dark purple to the stripy version I found in the fruit market on Saturday. They are all tasty and delightful. I think there’s a metaphor there somewhere. Our eggplant is cubed and coated in a mix of warm spices and oil and then spends some time roasting in the oven before meeting our other ingredients: roasted almonds, brown rice, and mixed green leaves. The whole bowl is then coated generously with a paprika and roasted garlic dressing. The honey and garlic based dressing is worthy of the hearty ingredients in this salad.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

If you are searching for a sturdy salad to fill your lunchbox throughout the week then you have found it. I found that the flavours of the dressing developed and intensified over the week. You can also leave the dressing separate and add it just before eating if you are worried about the greens becoming soggy. I’m hoping that once you take a bite of crunchy toasted almonds, nutty brown rice, crispy fresh greens and olive oil softened eggplant you will fall in love with this salad, and make room for some eggplant in your next dish.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad with Paprika and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Serves 3-4 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Vegan option: replace honey with maple syrup or agave nectar

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 400 gram tin chickpeas, rinsed thoroughly and drained
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens
  • 3 stalks spring onion
  • 1/4 cup (packed) basil leaves

For the dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Top and tail eggplant and dice into two centimetre (1 inch) cubes. In a small mixing bowl mix eggplant with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Place on prepared baking sheet. Wrap the cloves of garlic in aluminium foil and place on baking tray too. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggplant is softened.
  3. In the last ten minutes of baking spread almonds across another baking tray and roast. Remove from oven and cool then roughly chop.
  4. While the eggplant is cooking, place brown rice and vegetable stock in a medium size saucepan. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer rice for 30 minutes or until all water is absorbed and the rice is cooked but still firm to the bite.
  5. In a large mixing bowl toss together eggplant, almonds, brown rice, and rinsed chickpeas.
  6. Finely chop spring onions and basil and add to the bowl along with the mixed greens. Toss well.
  7. To make the dressing whisk all ingredients together. Add to salad and mix well so that the dressing can permeate every bite.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

So, dear reader, have I convinced you to try eggplant in your next salad? Have you seen The Hundred Foot Journey yet?

Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Six

The rain is coming down outside in the dark, dark night. I am curled up on the couch listening the drops hit the roof. The lights across the bay are obscured from vision by the driving rain. Perfect weather for reflecting on all I have been grateful for this week. Here, I present to you all my Nourished Life Gratitude List 2014 – Week Thirty-Six:

Monday: Tonight after work I headed into town to meet up with my friend Megan for a walk around the city. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. We wandered and talked and by the end my mind, heart, and body had gotten a workout. Thanks for a great evening Megan. I am grateful that we have been able to stay friends even though we don’t work together any more.

brisbane river brisbane river 2

Tuesday: Today was just one of those days when I needed a run. I had a challenging experience at work today, which I am not proud to say may have prompted me to act less than adult. These are the days I am grateful to step back and step out onto the pavement (or the treadmill as the case may be) and pound out my worries to the sound of my heartbeat.

Wednesday: Tonight Chris and I went for a great walk after work. We watched the harbour lights come on and the dusky night settle in. We talked and argued and talked some more. We might not always agree, and we might not always be peaceful in our conversations, but I am grateful that I have found someone as passionate and convicted as I am.

postcard from mike

Thursday: Early lunch date for this week! Today I was grateful when my friend Jess walked by my desk and asked if I wanted to escape for my lunch. So glad I said yes after I took a breath of fresh air outside the office and a bite of a delicious gluten free bagel. Then after work Chris and I went to check out the block that our townhouse is going to be built on! Finally our own little cottage is underway. So grateful for this patch of dirt to build our dreams upon.

Friday: Today I was glad to burst out of the door of my office and head off for some quality time with my sister. Jess, Mum and I watched girly movies (‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion’ and ‘The Proposal’) and ate great tacos for dinner. Jess was decorating a cake for a job (she is awesomely talented) and Mum and I provided entertainment and moral support. I was grateful for some catch up time with my ladies and a night in to lounge around and watch movies and eat way too much off Jess’s frosting leftovers.

Saturday: This morning Jess and I started the day with a long walk with the gorgeous Storm before we headed out to the movies with Mum, Aunty Lone, and Mormor. We saw The Hundred Foot Journey (I highly recommend this one especially for foodies) and I was grateful for the cross-generational morning out. Tonight Chris and I lay around and read books, and I took the chance to make him some homemade pizza. Sally’s recipe is my current favourite.

doughnut and smoothie

Sunday: This morning Chris and I gathered together with Jess, Trent, Mum, and Dad to celebrate Father’s Day! To show how grateful we are to have such a wonderful Dad and to thank him for all that he has given us over the years. I am grateful to Jess for making a delicious breakfast, and for the fair weather this morning so that I could go for a walk when we got home. Tonight the rain is coming down and I am going to curl up with a great book before Chris and I have a leftover dinner.

Also this week:

Happy Sunday night readers, tell me, what are you grateful for this week?

10 Gluten Free Sweet Ideas for Father’s Day

Recent weekends with my Dad have included both of us romping with the dog Molly, putting our heads together to design a bar cabinet for the new house, the whole family shovelling dirt to help with my parent’s backyard renovation, and watching Monster Trucks or Austrian detective shows. You could say we are an eclectic pair. (Rocking it old school in the photos below – I would still wear that dress actually…)

Dad and I

Growing up, my Dad was the perfect father for two daughters. He taught us how to make shortbread and how to hold a hammer. He (and my Mum) was a great example of feminism: he taught my sister and I that there is nothing you can’t do as a woman, or as a man. He told bedtime stories (my favourite was Stuart Little); sang us songs that he made up on the spot (I still think of them when I can’t sleep); and fixed everything from broken jewellery to broken hearts. My Dad is my friend as well as my father, and I only hope I can live up to the example of being a great person with big ideas, big love, and a big heart that he has set me. Love you Dada, and Happy Father’s Day.

Another thing my Dad and I have in common is a huge sweet tooth. Put a bag of freckle chocolates in front of us and the only thing that will stop us is the bottom of the bag!

So when it comes to treating Dad for Father’s Day I know that sweet baked goods are the way to go. I’m working on something new for this weekend, but here are ten of my favourite gluten free ideas to help you treat your Dad to something this weekend.

When my Dad says something is ‘terrible’ it means he loves it. These Oatmeal Caramel Cookies earned that label and the batch disappeared very quickly.

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Want to give your Dad something he can enjoy for breakfast the whole week long? Try my fruit studded Breakfast Bread. Perfect with a man-size cup of tea in his new ‘Best Dad’ mug.

Breakfast Bread | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

You might not be able to send Dad away on a tropical vacation, but you can give him all the flavours of a beachy cocktail in Banana and Coconut Doughnut form, which makes it even better in my opinion.

Banana and Coconut Baked Doughnuts | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My Dad loves coconut (can’t you tell) – definitely where my sister and I get it from, and we used to buy him coconut ice every Father’s Day. No need to buy it anymore though with this super special Sprinkled Coconut Ice (Dad tested and approved).

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

My Dad and I can easily inhale a bag of Peanut m&ms while watching car racing, and these Chocolate Peanut Cookies are the spirit of Peanut m&ms in a cookie.

Chocolate Peanut Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, take that Peanut m&m and turn it inside out. Add a little extra crunch and now you’ve got these Peanut Butter and Millet Cookies. I ate a whole batch on my own. You need to remember to share with your Dad this weekend!

Peanut Butter and Millet Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Are you having an extra special morning tea for Dad? These Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream are a perfect treat for the whole family and there are plenty to share!

Beetroot Chocolate Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Buttercream | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Dad and I love to share a pot of coffee sometimes when I am home on the weekends. These Espresso Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cookies are perfect for the coffee and chocolate loving Dad and are so easy to make!

Espresso Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cookies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Speaking of coffee, these Coffee-Vanilla Sandwich Cookies are an extra special treat if you have a little more time. Bonus points if you find an awesome biscuit tin to present them in!

DSC00804

And for the grand finale, this is definitely what you should bring to the big family party. Impress them with your skills (but keep it a secret that this is super easy), and treat Dad to the perfect springtime flavour combination with my Citrus Poppyseed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (gluten free) | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I hope I’ve given you a little gluten free sweet treat inspiration for treating your Dad this Father’s Day weekend!

Tell me dear reader, what are some of your favourite memories of your Dad? Anyone else have a special ‘Footloose’ dance or is that just us?