Weekend roundup of delicious eats

Over the past weekend and mid-week, we have been eating out quite a bit so I thought I’d share some of the photos and details of these delicious eats. These include some restaurants and cafes on the Gold Coast and in my hometown of Brisbane.

This roundup started from last weekend when we took a little break to the Gold Coast.  We stayed in two family hotels, at Sanctuary Cove and Benowa. We don’t normally do hotel crawls, but it was great fun to do. We got to experience two different places and give my toddler new surroundings to explore.

 

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10 Simple ways to get greener: Tip 2# Grow something

Growing your own food and keeping indoor plants is quite rewarding. You nurture a little seedling and eventually, with the right care, it will pay you back in delicious produce or better air quality.

Many years ago I started my own small raised garden bed to grow fruit and vegetables in hope of producing my own organic food. Although I had some successes I also learned that some plants only live for a season and others can attract many exotic bugs that made my garden their home. Probably the most important lesson I learned is how much better my own produce tasted and how easy it can be too grown some staples.

When we bought our home we realised our soil was not the best, so again we set up raised garden beds, garden troughs a variety of potted dwarf fruit trees. Additionally, we added many potted indoor plants to liven up our home.

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10 Simple ways to get greener: Tip 1# Composting

Over the past few years, we have made many changes in our home to be more eco-friendly. From the kitchen to the bedroom to baby care. I believe it’s important to modify our actions and behaviours so that we can to help the planet and make a healthier environment for everyone. Like our family, you can start making small changes that will have a big impact in the long term for your own health and your footprint on this earth.

I actually started writing this blog post a while ago, however it was getting really long. So I thought I would break it down for you into a series on 10 Simple ways to get greener. The first tip and one of the first changes we made, even before we even moved out of home, was to start Composting.

Composting your vegetable scraps is one of the easiest ways to help the planet and contribute less to landfill. You won’t believe how much less you throw out every week. Those veggie scraps and wastage that we usually throw out are still full of vitamins that can feed bugs, worms and the earth. Even if you don’t use the nutrient-rich compost for your garden, the food will keep breaking down and you can keep adding to it. I’m sure a neighbour or a friend would love to put your dirty gold to good use.

You can buy compost bins at any hardware, gardening or big superstore. There are a few different types of compost bins you can buy or make yourself. These include Enclosed Bins, Rolling Bins, Tumblers, Worm Bins. For more information on these or other alternatives see this article, Compost Bins by Planet Natural Research Center. If you live in an apartment building consider asking your body corporate to invest compost bins for all the tenants.

 

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Most compost bins are really easy to set up and can be placed in your garden or in an out of sight grass area on your property. If you live in an apartment building consider asking your body corporate to invest compost bins for all the tenants. They are also pretty durable so you won’t be needing to replacing it under normal circumstances.

I first bought an Enclosed Bin from Bunnings when I set up my veggie patch.  However, I had a bit of trouble turning it. Later I bought a Tumbler from Aldi (nearly identical to this Tumbling Composter). This one has two sides, giving time for one side to break down, while we fill the other one. It’s unbelievable how quickly it turns to dust. Initially, I use to keep my scraps in a container on the kitchen bench before depositing them in the compost bin. Now I like to keep them in the fridge so that it doesn’t smell or attract fruit flies and household pests.

You may be wondering what you can and can’t compost. We have had lots of different advice from friends and family on this subject. One person, we know who grew up on a farm recommended composting cooked animal bones, but this one is a no-no.

Below I have listed some of the things you can and cannot compost. If in any doubt a quick google search from reliable websites will give you the answer.

What to add to a Compost Heap

  • Vegetable and food scraps
  • Fallen leaves (in layers)
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vacuum cleaner dust
  • Soft stems
  • Dead flowers
  • Old potting mix
  • Used vegetable cooking oil
  • Egg shells (wash out the yolk)
  • Old newspapers (wet)
  • Grass cuttings in layers
  • Weeds
  • Sawdust (not from treated timber)
  • Wood ash
  • Human and animal hair

What not to add to a Compost Heap

  • Meat and dairy products
  • Diseased plants
  • Metals, plastic, glass
  • Animal manures, human and animal faeces
  • Fat
  • Magazines
  • Large branches
  • Weeds that have seeds or underground stems
  • Bread or cake
  • Bones
  • Sawdust from treated timber
  • Rice
  • Cooking oil
  • Heavily coated or printed paper
  • Used personal products (diapers, tampons)
  • Walnuts

 

Do you compost? What type do you recommend?

Do you see it having a positive impact on your life, your family and the earth?

Luino: a little piece of paradise

Luino is a charming northern Italian lake town with an amazing backdrop of blue skies and mountains. Luckily for me, the majority of my family live here. I have visited Luino a few times now and I never tire of it. It’s a very tranquil place and being able to live like an Italian rather than a tourist is also a bonus. Family dinners, leisurely walks and eating with the locals, made my experience so much more authentic.

Luino is in the province of Varese, which is situated on the Lago Maggiore and the Swiss-Italian border. The lake is the second largest in Italy and is separates Luino from the region of Piemonte. The town itself is quite hilly but the lakefront is flat. The town is well-known for its Mercato di Luino (Wednesday market), which attracts Italians, Swiss, Germans and Dutch.

Luino has become quite a popular tourist destination. I have noticed a lot of changes on the lakefront and many new restaurants. I tried a few while I was here and all were very good (see below). Luino is also very close to the border of Switzerland. We usually drive over the border for shopping trips, chocolates and to visit nearby cities. While we here this time we also visited Lugano and Bellinzona and in Switzerland and Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso and Giro del sole in Italy. I will share some photos and information in upcoming posts.


 

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Vegan Tuna Salad: 3 ways

Tuna is something I gave up long ago. I was wanting to avoid BPA, Mercury and was trying to follow a plant-based diet. Fast-forward a few years later and I still remember the delicious taste of tuna but it’s not so tempting anymore. I came up with this recipe a while back I found that it really fixes my tuna craving.

This mock tuna is primarily made with chickpeas and get’s its fishy taste from the umeboshi vinegar and nori. You can enjoy it in a salad, on a sandwich or wrap it in a nori roll.

 

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Spaghetti Squash with Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce

Just because your trying to skip gluten, grains or just want a more nutritionally dense meal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Italian flavours. Spaghetti squash is an amazing vegetable that when roasted has an amazing stringy texture that can lend itself as a pasta substitute. I love big bold pasta sauces with wine. This sauce doesn’t take long to prepare and will go perfectly with any other pasta or substitute.

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Spaghetti Squash with a Sun Dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chilli. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving, add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through to them let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2

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Spelt Pumpkin Baked Donuts

I was so inspired by my recent visit to Nodo, I decided to create my own baked donuts. Mine aren’t gluten-free however, they are vegan, soy-free and nut-free. They are also made from mostly spelt and with fresh pumpkin, so they nutritious and easier to digest. Coconut sugar also works beautifully in them, so they are just sweet enough. I hope you like them!

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Winter Potato topped Bean Casseroles

Winter seems to have come early in Brisbane. So it’s time for winter casseroles to warm these bones. I love topping casseroles with creamy mashed potatoes or sliced potato. It just gives a casserole another yummy layer and a bit more heartiness. I prefer to use Dutch cream potatoes, as they mash well and soften well when cooked. These two casseroles are easy to put together but need a bit more time to prepare the ingredients before baking.

 

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