Chicken Dumpling Soup recipe

Now that the weather is cooling down here in Melbourne, I’m turning back to my soup recipes to feed the hungry hordes at our place (7 year old boy and husband are always ravenous)!

A family favourite is a recipe I discovered in a Weight Watcher’s cookbook of all places…it’s perfect for a weeknight as it’s simple to prepare, and it’s nice and healthy.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

1 litre chicken stock

1 litre water

3 large chicken breasts (skin off) or 400 gms chicken mince

2-3 cloves garlic

1 bunch fresh coriander

4-6 spring onions, chopped

1 stick lemongrass – chopped into chunks

1 red chilli finely chopped (this is optional. Kids love this dish so you might want to skip the chilli in this case)

1 chunk ginger, finely chopped (or larger so kids can fish them out if they’re not into it!)

1 bunch choy sum or Chinese broccoli, roughly chopped (inc stalks)

Soy sauce – 2 tablespoons (or to taste)

Fish sauce – 1 tablespoon (or to taste)

Juice of 1 lime

Noodles (optional but great with this dish. You can use anything from 2 minute noodles, or vermicelli to Udon noodles)

Put the stock and water in a large saucepan, together with the ginger, soy sauce, and lemon grass and bring to the boil

In the meantime, blitz your chicken breasts in the food processor together with the garlic and a large handful of coriander, or if you are using chicken mince, you’ll need to get your hands dirty here and crush the garlic, finely chop the coriander and mix these through the mince in a bowl.

Once the stock is boiling, start rolling the chicken mince into balls with your hands (3-4 cms across) and drop them carefully into the stock.

Once they are cooking you can add your noodles (depending which ones you get and how long they take – the chicken dumplings cook in a matter of minutes)

Once the dumplings are done, add the choy sum and the spring onions and cook for a minute or so, then turn off the heat, and stir in the lime juice, fish sauce and a handful of coriander.

Ladle into big bowls and slurp your way to happiness. Enjoy!

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Green Smoothies – local and delicious!

I’ve been banging on about green smoothie goodness for a while now, and here by popular demand is a post dedicated to the what, why, how and where of it all.

Green smoothies are quite simply the result of blending ripe fruit and raw leafy greens together with water.
I like to add lots of other good things to my smoothies, like chia seeds, LSA mix, coconut oil and flaxseed oil, gubinge and maca powder. These collectively do great things for your system like help lower cholesterol, increase metabolism, maximise nutrient absorption, balance hormones, enhance memory function and much more.

The health benefits of green smoothies have been well documented, but Victoria Boutenko’s book ‘Green for Life’ (and subsequent  Raw Family website) is perhaps the definitive guide on the subject.

In Victoria’s own words, green smoothies are good for you because “greens are the most nutritionally dense food available on the planet. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, and phytonutrients. What better way to consume them than in a delicious green smoothie? The fresh ripe fruits dominate the flavor of the greens and the absence of any fats maximize the absorption of the nutrients. These two factors make the green smoothie the most epic nutritious concoction the world has seen to date. Adding even one cup of green smoothie a day to one’s existing diet can dramatically improve anyone’s health. And the best part is, nearly everyone already has what they need to make a green smoothie sitting around in their kitchen right now!’

Another health benefit of the green smoothie is that unlike juicing, you actually retain and consume the fibre which is essential for a good digestive system and helps eliminate toxins from the colon.

A really handy tool recommended to me by a mate is the iPhone app from Raw Family, which gives you ideas for green smoothie combinations, as well as the nutritional value of each of the ingredients – you can get the app here.

So down the the basics – how do you make a green smoothie?

You’ll need a blender, some water, and whatever (preferably seasonal) fruit and fresh leafy greens you fancy.

The types of greens we eat at home (and grow ourselves) are: spinach, lettuce, bok choy, choy sum, kale, and silverbeet (chard). And if we don’t grow it, we buy it from the lovely folk at Ceres, or at one of our local farmers’ markets – see here for your nearest one. We also like to shop at Organic Gertrude in Fairfield, who are kind enough to provide information on where all their fruit and veg comes from, and you can see how many food miles your goodies travelled to get to you!

You don’t need a big garden to grown your own vegies – friends of ours have built an amazing greenhouse on the balcony of their apartment, and we’ve gone down the permaculture route, using existing wine barrels containing our lime and lemon trees, and have planted all our greens around the base of the citrus plants.

<Insert local produce rant here> I’m passionate about supporting local business and farmers, and avoid buying fruit, vegetables, meat (or dairy if I can help it) from the supermarkets. I’d rather know where my food comes from, and thanks to the most excellent work from the good folk at the Victorian Farmers Market Association, as well as the Locavore Edition with their Field Guide to Victorian Produce, it has never been easier or more enjoyable to connect with your local producers and get your food on the the day it was harvested. There’s also the added bonus of being able to sleep at night, knowing the wonderful people who spent their time growing your food are being fairly paid for doing so. <end rant>

Which fruit you select is entirely up to you, but the ones we have had the best results with include bananas, pineapple, mangoes, blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, watermelon, and some dates for extra creaminess. We try at all times to utilise what’s in season, with the exception of pineapples and bananas which we use year round.

It’s important not to overdo it on the fruit, since fructose is still sugar – but a few well chosen pieces will have your smoothie tasting super-delicious, and you won’t even realise you’ve just drunk a cupful of spinach. And take it from me, if my 7 year old is happy to drink one of these bad boys every single day, then you won’t have a problem downing some of this green goodness!

It’s usual to start with the fruit, so roughy chop your fruit, only peel the obvious ones like bananas etc, core your apples and pineapple etc, take out pips from peaches and so on. Add fruit to the blender jug with at least 1 cup of water. Now is the time to throw in all your awesome additions like the chia seeds, coconut oil etc. Start blending, and once it’s nice and smooth start adding your spinach, lettuce etc. Cucumber is also a fantastic smoothie ingredient. Again, don’t peel it.

Listed below are some ‘beginner’ combinations to get you started – once you get a feel for it, you’ll know what works and what you like, so just experiment and have fun with it. Just remember to rotate your greens and don’t eat the same ones every day. There are many to choose from, so it isn’t hard to do.

1 cup berries (any kind), 2 cups fresh spinach, 1/4 inch fresh ginger, water

1/2 bunch lettuce, 1 cup strawberries, 2 bananas, water

2 big handfuls mixed baby greens, 1 pears, 1 mango, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 handful of spinach, 2 bananas, 1 apple, 1 cup water

1 cup spinach and 1 pear, 1 cup water

Once you’ve cut your teeth on these, start getting stuck into the chard, kale, choy sum, etc. You’ll love it!

Some more great recipes from Victoria Boutenko, can be found here.  There are literally hundreds of websites dedicated to green smoothie goodness, and everyone has recipes to share so get googling!

Here are a few to get you started:

http://www.veryediblegardens.com/iveg/green-smoothies

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/

http://www.vitamix.com/household/Health/green_smoothie.asp

http://rawfoodhealthwatch.com/raw-food/green-smoothies-recipe/

http://cheekychimpsmoothies.com/green-smoothie-recipis/green-smoothie-recipes/