Comfort-food

3 Quick And Easy Pasta Bake Dishes

Pasta bake dishes are quick and easy to prepare, especially if you’re hosting some picky eaters. Customise each dish with some of your favourite vegetables, seasoning and even types of pasta which the family find most appealing. Below are just three dishes which are filling, and certainly make for a yummy dinner during winter!

Tuscan Spaghetti Pasta Bake

If you love a classic Italian bolognese sauce, then this is definitely one recipe you need to try for yourself. Packed with beef, ricotta cheese and a classic Italian seasoning for an authentic homemade taste. Don’t forget to pair with your favourite wine to complete the meal.

3 Easy Pasta Bake Dishes

Chilli Pasta Bake

For a healthier alternative try using wholemeal pasta which won’t leave you feeling bloated! Top off the dish with chives, cherry tomatoes and a touch of parmesan cheese for a yummy dinner option.

3 Easy Pasta Bake Dishes

Baked Gnocchi with Bacon and Tomato

In need of some comfort food after a long and stressful day? Start with a few packets of ready-made gnocchi, especially if you’re pressed for time – then prepare the sauce by frying the bacon and adding the tomatoes. Include a splash of cream to give the sauce a thicker consistency.

3 Easy Pasta Bake Dishes

Images via Simply Delicious Food, Adventure Foodz, Windy Kitchen

September 15, 2015

How To Enjoy Winter Comfort Foods Without The Weight Gain

It’s bitterly cold outside, baby, and if you’re eschewing the gym in favour of comfort food and more doona time, you’re not alone. Guilty, as charged!

RELATED: How To Combat Emotional Eating This Winter

So, is there a way we can somehow enjoy our favourite winter comfort foods without stacking on the kilos? Rejoice, dear readers, for the answer is yes, according to leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) – but there’s a catch. Here, Susie – who recently launched her new program: Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan – advises us to carefully watch our carb intake; eat plenty of nutrient-rich veggies and use low-fat options.

Susie Burrell, comfort food, winter warmers

What’s more, Susie has even helpfully provided SHESAID readers with one of her awesome recipes for Low-Fat Burgers (see below) in order to help us do just that – winning!

“Traditionally it is the months that follow the Easter holiday period which see many of us go off track when it comes to our diet and lifestyle resolutions,” Susie says. “Too much chocolate, training sessions skipped in favour of more doona time and plenty of comfort food can mean one thing – winter weight gain.”

Susie Burrell, comfort food, winter warmers

Here are Susie’s top diet and nutrition tips for these popular, delicious and comforting winter warmers – without the extra kilos to match:

Soup
Love this winter superfood? Studies show that adding a soup to our evening meal can help us consume up to 100 fewer calories in a single meal. The diet trick here is to avoid the creamy soups in favour of clear broth and vegetable-based soups. And, to keep it uber healthy, we also have to substitute the thick, carb-heavy slices of toast and butter for a few tasty croutons or wholegrain crackers for the crunch.

easypumpkinsoup-300x250

Low-Carb Burgers
Interestingly, Susie says the beloved burger can actually be a relatively good option when dining out, or when we want to prepare a tasty, treat-style meal at home. The trick is to choose lean beef or chicken breast as our burger base along with plenty of salad. The catch? We have to ditch the yummy, calorie-laden extras such as cheese, mayo, bacon and egg and – gasp – the chips. Another great option is a low-carb burger, whereby we use a mushroom or lettuce leaves as a bun for a tasty, filling meal with significantly less carbs.

Curries
The main problem with yummy curries is that the coconut cream, rice, potatoes and fatty meats all combine to give a complete calorie and fat overload, Susie says. Sad face! However, we can lighten our curries by choosing vegetarian options; ditching the rice in favour of extra vegetables; and if making a curry at home, we should all be using a light evaporated milk with a little coconut essence as a lower fat alternative to coconut milk and cream.

pumpkincurry

Toast
Twenty years ago, toast slices were small and carbs were far less of a focus in our diets, Susie says. Nowadays, we regularly smash down massive slabs of sourdough or Turkish slices which also means that our carb and calorie intake have skyrocketed. The key to enjoying our breakfast toast is to choose small slices – a slice of sourdough served at bakeries is often the equivalent of two regular slices of bread! Opt for multigrain or rye bread and look for nutrient-rich toppings such as avocado, cottage cheese, smoked salmon or eggs for a nutritionally balanced meal.

Roasts
I love me a roast; the trick to enjoying this hearty, winter favourite is the more vegetables we can add in, the better. The extra calories from a roast generally come from fatty serves of meat and the gravy. So, if preparing a roast at home, Susie says to choose the leaner cuts of meat; load up with plenty of the lighter, nutrient-rich vegetables, including pumpkin, carrots and greens; and ask for our gravy to be served on the side so we can control your portions.

Pasta
If you’re anything like me, you can devour bowls and bowls of this glorious comfort dish. And, add some fresh parmesan to the equation and it’s food porn, baby! But alas, pasta is the undoing of many a lass at winter, not to mention today’s popular low-carb diets. Susie advises us Italiano-lovers to control our portion size by enjoying just an entrée-size bowl of good quality pasta and/or swapping traditional pasta for a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta.. With next to no calories, and chock-full of nutrients and fibre, zucchini pasta can be freely enjoyed with our favourite pasta sauces, without the weight gain.

Delicious Red Wine Pasta Recipe

Pies
One of my favourite things to do in winter is to make the family-favourite Carrington Pie, with chicken, mushrooms and red wine – yum! What’s more, pies are popular everywhere we look – you’ll  be hard-pressed to find a pub which does not offer a winter pie on its menu. Unfortunately, pies made with plenty of high-fat puff pastry can contain as much as 50g of fat per serve, much of which is saturated. A much better option nutritionally is to swap to a pie made with filo pastry which contains just 5-10g of fat per 5-10 slices, Susie says. Another option is to make our pies with just a single sheet of puff pastry on top.

Mexican
While nachos, burritos and quesadillas can be packed with fat and calories from rice, flat bread, corn chips and cheese, the humble taco can be a relatively good choice, Susie advises. Hurray! With a single taco shell containing just 6g of carbs and 2g of fat, a couple of tacos filled with lean meat and plenty of salad can be a great choice nutritionally, she says.

Desserts
Winter is synonymous with calorie-rich puddings, pastries and pies, oh the sweet, delicious agony! The key thing to remember here is that a single cream or pastry-based dessert will usually contain more calories than a meal, so sharing or tasting is always the best option, Susie says. You’ve been warned, sob. Baked fruit; small individual puddings with just a spoon or two per serving; or a hot drink can be just as satisfying low-cal options, she advises.

Nutella Dessert Rolls Recipe

Low-Carb Burgers from Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan

Susie Burrell, comfort food, winter warmers

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g pack of lean beef burgers such as peppercorn extra
  • Lean beef burgers
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 small avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp sweet chilli or Dijon mustard
  • 8 large romaine lettuce leaves

Method

  1. Grill or pan fry burgers with a little oil. Allow to cook, turning for 15-20 minutes on medium heat until cooked through.
  2. Mix mayo with sweet chilli or mustard. Set aside.
  3. Assemble burgers inside each lettuce leaf. Top with salad and avo. Drizzle with sauce then serve.

Susie Burrell’s new e-book Change Your Mindset And Lose Weight Fast: The Motivation You Need To Lose Weight is out now.

Images via srjohannes.com, beanafoodie.com

June 11, 2015

How To Combat Emotional Eating This Winter

Mood rhymes with food and stressed is “desserts” spelled backwards, as the saying goes, but emotional eating is no joke; in fact, it’s a big problem for many of us.

RELATED: Do You Suffer From Orthorexia?

How often do you find yourself, when stressed, tired, upset and/or angry, reaching for that chocolate bar, slice of cake or packet of chips? I’m certainly guilty of this when feeling super anxious – add it in a bottle of wine and it’s a pity party for one!

There’s surely not a woman (or man) alive who hasn’t fallen prey to emotional/comfort eating. So, how do we stop eating our emotions? Are there practical ways we can actually fight the urge to eat our feelings this winter?

Even my GP says she has to fight the urge to comfort eat. And her best advice on how to do this is to get out of the kitchen; distract yourself with a task which involves using your hands; do something which makes you feel good, such as a pampering hair or face mask and/or painting your nails; and/or eat nutritious, regular meals to combat emotional eating and overeating.

emotional eating, comfort eatiing, nutritionist advice

Meanwhile, leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) says emotional eating is, by definition, “periods of abnormal eating behaviour which have been triggered in response to a particular mood state such as sadness, loneliness or anger.”
In addition, she says sufferers find their emotional discomfort is then temporarily lessened once they eat; with super sweet or salty food the common modus operandi.

So, why is emotional eating bad for us? Obviously, the sweet relief, pardon the pun, is all too fleeting, but Susie says there are serious health risks at play too.

“Weight gain is a problem if excessive calories are consumed, but more importantly in the case of emotional eating the underlying emotional distress is not being identified and managed appropriately. Long-term depressed mood and distress, left unmanaged, can develop into significant health issues,” she says.

“And other dangers can include low mood and energy levels; fatigue, inability to concentrate; and long-term nutrient deficiencies and girls at risk of developing a clinical eating disorder.”

emotional eating, comfort eatiing, nutritionist advice

So, what’s a healthy food relationship? Susie’s top tips to stop comfort/emotional eating include:

  • Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Eating regular meals and snacks every 3-4 hours.
  • Not being obsessed with eating and food.
  • If you really do not want to eat it, do not keep it in the house.

What do you think? Do you eat to ease emotional pain and distress?

 Images via blog.aarp.org, blisstree.com

May 25, 2015

Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Recipe

Michelle Bridges shares on our favourite comfort food dinner ideas: classic cauliflower cheese with a healthy, low-calorie twist.

Cauliflower and cheese – what a flavourful combination. With the addition of broccoli, you get a double whammy of cruciferous goodness as well. The cheese provides protein and calcium, but use a low-calorie version to avoid too much fat.

Recipe from Superfoods Cookbook: The facts, the foods and the recipes – feel great, get fit and lose weight by Michelle Bridges, photography by Henryk Lobaczewski and Julie Renouf. Published by Viking, RRP $29.99.

Serves: 2
Prep: 10 minutes. Cook: 45 minutes. Calories per serve 388

Ingredients
700 g cauliflower, trimmed and broken into large florets
1 large head broccoli (300 g), trimmed and broken into large florets
2 1⁄2 tablespoons cornflour
2 cups (500 ml) low-cal milk
1 cup (120 g) grated low-cal cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
mixed salad leaves, to serve

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).

2. Steam the cauliflower over a large saucepan of boiling water for 4 minutes. Add the broccoli and steam for another 4 minutes or until just tender. Place in a 5-cup (1.25 L) capacity ovenproof dish.

3. Meanwhile, combine the cornflour and 1⁄4 cup milk in a jug. Place the remaining milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Whisk in the cornflour mixture and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes or until the sauce boils and thickens. Stir in half the cheese until smooth. Season with black pepper and nutmeg. Pour over the cauliflower and broccoli. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cayenne. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

4. Serve with the salad leaves alongside.

What’s your favourite comfort food dish?

superfoods

February 4, 2014

Meatloaf and Gravy Recipe

Meatloaf is making a comeback, especially when it’s done well like this version from the beautiful new cookbook New York Cult Recipes. Forget the stodgy meatloaf of your childhood, this meatloaf recipe is the ultimate comfort food and one of our favourite beef mince recipes. The recipe uses both beef and veal mince, but works equally well with just beef mince. Serve it hot with mashed potatoes and gravy, and cold the next day in a sandwich with some spicy mustard or pickles.

Recipes and images from New York Cult Recipes by Marc Grossman, Published by Murdoch Books, RRP: $49.95. Makes a great Christmas gift idea for the New York lover in your life.

A retro classic of American diners.

Preparation time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Loaf

70 g (2. oz) celery, finely chopped
70 g (2. oz) onion, finely chopped
70 g (2. oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
350 g (12 oz) minced (ground) beef
350 g (12 oz) minced (ground) veal
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) ketchup + 50 ml (1.fl oz), to brush over the loaf
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
2 pinches salt +1 pinch
ground black pepper

Mashed potatoes

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) russet (idaho) potatoes
70 g (2. oz) butter
80 ml (2. fl oz/⅓ cup) milk

Gravy

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
50 g (1 3/4 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced
40 g (1 /2 oz) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) beef stock

Method

The loaf

Preheat the oven to 180C. Saute the celery, onion and mushrooms in the oil over medium heat until they’re soft. Add the rest of the loaf ingredients and mix until combined.

Turn into a 20 x 10cm loaf tin, smooth the top, spread over the extra ketchup and cook for 1 hour.

The mashed potatoes

Cut the potatoes into pieces of the same size. Place them in a saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain.

Melt the butter in the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Mash together the hot potatoes and the hot milk–butter mixture using a food processor, potato masher or a fork followed by a whisk. Season with salt and pepper. Add more milk if the mash is too dry. Serve hot.

The gravy

In a saucepan, saut. the onion and mushrooms with 3 teaspoons of the butter until softened. Remove from the saucepan and set aside. Heat the remaining butter in the same saucepan. After a few minutes, when the butter starts to foam, add the flour. Stir constantly until the roux turns a light brown colour. Slowly pour in the beef stock, stirring constantly. When the mixture is smooth, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Add the mushrooms and onion and continue to cook, stirring, until it has the right consistency.

Tip: the beef stock can be replaced by a stock cube dissolved in 250 ml boiling water.

What’s your favourite retro recipe?

 

December 4, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

One of our go-to beef mince recipes is meatballs. This best-ever spaghetti and meatballs recipe from the fabulous new cookbook New York Cult Recipes uses pork and beef mince, roasting the meatballs in the oven before simmering them in a classic Italian tomato sauce. Feel-good, comfort food at its best.

Recipes and images from New York Cult Recipes by Marc Grossman, Published by Murdoch Books, RRP: $49.95. Makes a great Christmas gift idea for the New York lover in your life.

Nothing fancy here. Big, authentic meatballs, a generous smothering of home-made tomato sauce, a little grated parmesan on top and some garlic bread. Good old-fashioned American–Italian food.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients

Meatballs
250 g (9 oz) minced (ground) beef
250 g (9 oz) minced (ground) pork
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 egg, beaten
50 g (1 3/4 oz) parmesan cheese, grated
50 g (1 3/4 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
100 ml (3. fl oz) milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper

Tomato sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon each of finely chopped carrot and celery
45 ml (1 1/2 fl oz) olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pinches dried oregano (or basil)
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) tomato passata (pureed tomatoes)
100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) water

Garlic bread
1 baguette (not too thin)
100 g (3 1/2 oz) butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped

Other ingredients
400 g (14 oz) spaghetti

Method

The meatballs
Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix all of the ingredients together until combined and form 10 –12 large meatballs with your hands. Arrange them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

The tomato sauce
Meanwhile, sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir in the crushed garlic and cook for another minute before adding the oregano, tomato passata and water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch of raw (demerara) sugar if you like. Add the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes just before serving.

The garlic bread
Preheat the oven to 180C. Split the baguette in half lengthways. Mix all the other ingredients into a paste. Spread this mixture on the cut sides of the bread and place the two halves on a baking tray with the buttered sides up. Bake for about 10 minutes until they’re slightly browned. Slice and serve with the dish.

Spaghetti
While you’re making the garlic bread, start cooking the spaghetti. Cook in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and serve with the meatballs and tomato sauce. Offer garlic bread on the side.

newyorkcultrecipes

November 27, 2013

Winter Food And Wine Pairing Tips

Feel that chill? Winter is well and truly upon us and now is the perfect time to enjoy a warming glass of wine with some winter comfort food.

Third generation Managing Director of Taylors Wines in South Australia’s Clare Valley, Mitchell Taylor, shares his best winter wine and food pairing tips.

“The 2012 Taylors Estate Shiraz  and the 2012 Taylors Estate Chardonnay  are great winter wines; both pair well with a hearty winter dinner.

“Wine lovers will often reach for a bottle of full-bodied red in winter, forgetting about the gorgeous pairing of a silky chardonnay with a rich winter meal,” Mitchell said.

Pair: comfort foods like beef lasagne or spaghetti marinara with shiraz

The ripening conditions for the 2012 Taylors Estate Shiraz  vintage promoted slow, even ripening which provided intense varietal characteristics. It has a lively palate of juicy red berry fruits, plum and spice, along with more subtle chocolate and savoury notes. The wine is medium to full-bodied and has a well-balanced structure with great texture, good length and lashings of fruit on the finish.

Pair: spicy Spanish dishes like paella or chorizo tapas with chardonnay

The 2012 Taylors Estate Chardonnay is an ideal wine for winter – warming from the inside out. It is a light-straw colour with vibrant green tinges. The chardonnay is full of luscious flavours of white peach, citrus and tropical fruit with underlying toasted cashew and creamy nuances from extended lees stirring to deliver a mouth-filling and enjoyable wine.

Pair: homemade pizza with tempranillo

Taylors Tempranillo is a fantastic choice for a pizza party or lazy night in with a take away: it’s medium-bodied full of berry flavours, with subtle spice characters.

Pair: vegetable soup with cabernet merlot

A lovely silky merlot like Promised Land Cabernet Merlot, with soft, velvety tannins that compliment the best of winter produce – perfect for our quick and easy winter vegetable soup.

What’s your favourite winter wine?

July 22, 2013