Archives June 2015

The new healthy lifestyles cafe range you need to try

Going out for brunch or coffee is part of my weekend routine.  There’s nothing like enjoying a relaxing morning with a good coffee and something delicious to eat.   When I go out, sometimes I like to treat myself, and other times I want something that’s both delicious AND healthy for me too.  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  If you want food that’s both delicious, healthy and a reasonable price then I can recommend Columbus Coffee.

They have had a healthy food range for a little while now, serving recipes from the Healthy Food Guide magazine.  Recently they’ve expanded their range to include a new Lifestyles Range – there are lots of healthy options which cater for different dietary needs, including gluten free, paleo and dairy free.

This weekend I headed to our local Columbus at Mitre 10 MEGA Masterton along with my husband to sample some of their new options.  I left with a full stomach and totally satisfied and impressed with what they had on offer.  My husband was pretty happy too!

Here’s what they have available on their new range.  It differs from cafe to cafe, but they will have some options available for you to try.

  • Chia Bircher Pod
  • Chia Seed & Coconut Pudding
  • Chocolate, Avocado & Chia Pudding
  • Paleo Bacon & Egg Muffins
  • Paleo Egg Wraps
  • Paleo Breakfast
  • Thai Chicken Stuffed Mushroom
  • Thai Chicken Stuffed Kumara
  • Paleo Crepes with Mixed Berries & Coconut
  • Mexican Meat Muffin
  • Raw Carrot Cake Pops
  • Bliss Balls

Here’s what I tried:

1. Chia Seed Bircher

In a twist from traditional bircher muesli, this is made with chia seeds. The bircher also contained apple, coconut, berries and almonds and it was really delicious.  It had a subtle sweetness, and was a nice combination of flavours and textures.  Chia seeds are a great source of fibre, and provide some plant based omega 3 fats.  Because it comes in a pod with a lid, this could be a great grab and go breakfast on your way to work too.  I’ll definitely get this again.

2.  Paleo Bacon and Egg Muffin

Whilst I don’t follow any particular diet (I just like to focus on a minimally processed diet),  I do appreciate a good bacon and egg muffin!  This muffin is simply bacon and egg, along with spinach and spring onion and is topped with a delicious zesty pesto.  It’s gluten and dairy free too.  The hubby and I both really enjoyed this, the pesto made it extra tasty.  This is a good source of protein and would be perfect to grab with a takeaway coffee for breakfast on the go.

3.  Thai Chicken Stuffed Kumara

The Thai chicken stuffed kumara was another yummy dish.  Kumara would have to be one of my favourite vegetables and it’s a nutrient rich carbohydrate. The Thai flavours came through nicely, but it wasn’t too spicy. This is a really filling dish and a balanced meal.  This was great value too. At my local Columbus Coffee, it’s just $9.50 which I think is pretty good for a large, filling meal. I couldn’t eat it all!

4.  Bliss Balls

Bliss balls are one of my favourites and I was excited to see these on the menu for a healthy sweet treat – something most cafes don’t have. I’m pretty sure these had walnuts in them as well as ginger and some citrus fruit too.  They were zesty, yummy and quite different to bliss balls I make at home which made a nice change.  The bliss balls were a good buy too, at only $1.50 each.

Dining out with family or friends often means different needs and wants. The great thing about Columbus Coffee is they’ve got it covered.  If your partner wants a pie, then they can have one.  If you want a healthy option, there are lots to choose from.  If someone is gluten free, then there are options.   There are no exuberant price tags, just good honest, delicious tasting food, and great coffee too.

This post was sponsored by Columbus Coffee.  All opinions are my own – I truely love what they are doing with their new range!

Roasted Lamb with Caramalised Onion

Sunday dinners were nearly always roasts growing up and while this isn’t a tradition I’ve kept up, I do love a good Sunday roast every now and then. I was craving a homely roast meal last Sunday and decided that a butterflied leg of lamb was the way to go.  It’s quick to cook and easy to cut. Because the lamb is uneven in thickness it is cooked so that some is medium, some medium rare, which is perfect for our home as I like mine a little more well done than my husband.  This roast lamb with caramelised onion is the perfect recipe for a roast in a hurry – it only takes around 40 minutes to cook.

The caramelised onions add a delicious twist to an old time favourite.   I had this with roasted kumara and pumpkin with broccoli, carrots and Brussels sprouts.  The best bit is there was lots of left overs for lunch and dinner the next day.


1 butterflied leg of lamb
2 large white onions
1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar (yes sugar! a little won’t hurt)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius on fan bake.

Take lamb from packaging and place on a roasting tray.  Rub with 1 tablespoon of the oil, rosemary and the crushed garlic.   Leave to sit whist you prepare the caramalised onions.

Peel the onions, then cut in half and into thin slices.  Heat the other tablespoon of oil in the pan over a medium heat and add the onions.  Stir regularity for 4 minutes until they start to lightly brown.  Sprinkle over the brown sugar and the balsamic vinegar, stir well and cook for another 2 minutes.  Next add 1/2 a cup of water, and cook the onions until the water has evaporated.

Place the onions on top of the lamb so the top is covered in onions.

Cook for 20 minutes, remove from oven and turn the lamb over.  Cook for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, flip again and place onions back on top.  Leave to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into slices. Because the lamb not even in thickness, some will be medium rare, and some will be medium.  Cook for a little longer if you want it well done.

Serve with mint sauce.

Banana Coconut Chia bars

When I discovered dried bananas made by All Good bananas, I knew I wanted to turn them into a healthier sweet treat.  These are a delicious sweet treat in themselves, but I was sure they’d be great mixed with nuts and other nourishing goodies. Rather than bliss balls, I made these banana coconut chia bars.  They’re really similar to bliss balls but they’re pressed into a bar shape which I quite like for a change.

I used cashews and coconut as the main ingredients for the base, as well as some chia seeds which add extra fibre and some plant based omega 3 fats.   The taste combination of banana, cashews and coconut gives these bars a delicious tropical flavour and there are some small chewy pieces of bananas in the bar which add to their deliciousness.  For an extra treat, you can dip these in chocolate.   Then these bars are kind of like a perky nana, only they’re not based on sugar, they’re based on more nourishing ingredients.

Here’s how to make banana, cashew and coconut bars.


100g dried banana pieces
1 1/4 cup cashew nut pieces
1  cup coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon honey
2.5 tablespoons chia seeds

Dark chocolate, for dipping
Coconut chips

Chop the dried banana into smaller chunks.  Place in a food processor with the cashew nut pieces, coconut, coconut oil and honey.  Blend until the ingredients are well combined into a dough like consistency.  Add the chia seeds and pulse the food processor a few times until they are well mixed.

Press into a small baking dish (mine was approx 18cm by 13cm). Place in the refrigerator and leave for an hour or two to set.  When cool, cut into small bars.  Top with coconut chips, or dip in melted dark chocolate.

Makes 16 small bars.




Roast vegetable salad with crispy Moroccan chickpeas


Meat free meals don’t have to be boring.  In fact, they are often anything but boring.  This recipe for roast vegetable salad with crispy Moroccan chickpeas combines a range of gorgeous flavours and textures.  The vegetables are roasted in olive oil and garlic and the chickpeas coated in delicious moroccan flavours.  This would make a light meal, but you can top it up by adding some halloumi cheese or a poached egg.

This recipe contains a mixture of starchy and non starchy vegetables, and provides a wide range of antioxidants and nutrients. Red onions contain anthocyanins.  Research suggests that anthocyanins may have a wide variety of health benefits including reducing risk of certain cancers and diabetes and can help protect against signs of ageing (1).  The orange vegetables contain carotenoids.  Our body converts these to vitamin A, but they are also thought to have other beneficial effects. may help to slow the ageing process, reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, improve lung function and help keep skin healthy although more reaserch is needed

Chickpeas are one of my favourite legumes.  They’re very versatile and work well with lots of flavours.  You can buy them dry then soak and cook them which is really economical since they’re so cheap, but I find canned ones are more convenient and relatively cheap.  A can of organic chickpeas is $1.80 at my local supermarket.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes 2-3 serves.


3 carrots
1 large wedge of pumpkin
1 orange kumara
1 small purple kumara
1 large potato
2 red onions
4 large cloves of garlic
2 springs of Rosemary
1 tin of chickpeas
2 teaspoons Moroccan seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 sundried tomatoes, chopped


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.  Peel the carrots and slice lengthwise, then lengthwise again. Cut these carrot sticks in half horizontally. Peel the pumpkin and kumara and cut into even sized pieces.  Wash the potato and cut into same sized pieces as the other vegetables.  Peel the onions and cut into wedges.  Place the vegetables on an oven tray.   Finely chop the garlic cloves and sprinkle on top.  Remove the rosemary leaves from the stem and sprinkle over the vegetables.  Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss the vegetables around to coat in oil.

Place in the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly golden.   Once cooked, turn the oven off and leave the vegetables in the oven with the door slightly ajar to keep them warm whilst you prepare the chickpeas.   Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place a pan on an element over a medium heat.  Add the tablespoon of oil, and once hot, add the chickpeas. Sprinkle over the Moroccan seasoning.  Sir the chickpeas regularly for 3-5 minutes, until they are warmed through and slightly crispy.

Take the roasted vegetables from the oven and add the chickpeas and sundried tomatoes.  Serve with some steamed greens and for a more filling meal, slices of pan fried halloumi or a poached egg.


Slow cooker Mexican beef tacos

During these cooler months I love to use my slow cooker.  In past years, I tended to get stuck doing the same casserole over and over, so I decided it was time to experiment.  I’ve been trying out a few new recipes lately and these slow cooker Mexican beef tacos is a winner.  You simply pop some blade steak in the crockpot with some spices, stock and sauce, and leave it to do its thing.  The beef is tender, flavourful and melts in your mouth.  Add some salad veges and wrap in a corn tortilla and voila – it’s a super quick dinner that tastes amazing. It’s fairly low cost too, as blade steak is cheap.   These slow cooker Mexican beef tacos are based on a recipe for shredded beef nachos from Jess’ Underground Kitchen, (which is an awesome cookbook by the way) with a few of my own touches, using soft corn tacos instead of nachos.


Slow cooked Mexican beef:

500g blade steak, fat trimmed
2 cups beef stock
1 sliced onion
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup chipotle sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprikia (plus 1 tsp extra, for after cooking)
Sprinkle of chili flakes
1 lemon half

Chickpea Chili

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup liquid from the slow cooker
1 tin of tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

To serve:
Corn tortillas
Red onion
Grated cheese
Fresh coriander (optional)


Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker and turn onto low.  Leave to cook for 8 hours.

After the 8 hours is up, place the beef on a plate and shred with a fork.  It should fall apart easily.  Sprinkle with the extra smoked paprika.  Cover while you make the chilli.

To make the chickpea chilli, place all ingredients in a fry pan, and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced

Heat the corn tortillas and top with salad vegetables, chickpea chilli and a little grated cheese if desired.