I used to think that the biggest pleasure I got from cooking was in the taste sensation. I used to think that I love to cook because I love to eat. Well, to a certain extent that is certainly true. I mean, who doesn’t like to eat something delicious?
Inevitably, being a work-from-home mum, I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. Kinda just comes with the job. And having grown up in a culinary rich culture, I take my job of providing my family with good, healthy and delicious meals very seriously. After all, a lot of my memories growing up with an Italian mum are centred around the table and the food she made. But I do have days, where I literally have no idea what to cook. Days, where I can’t recall what I cooked the last few days and my mind is completely blank. Then, I go for weeks whipping up new dishes everyday, pouring over cookbooks and dreaming up the perfect lunches. We sit down for breakfast every day, I make school lunches, afternoon treats and dinners. And now I cook for a living. And you know what? After spending so much time in the kitchen, I don’t feel like eating anymore. When the time comes to sit down for dinner, I just don’t feel like eating anything. I think I have appetite burn-out. Tired taste buds. Eating fatigue.
It sounds weird and even a bit tragic and it has taken me a few weeks to finally being able to name it. I love reading cookbooks and researching. I love the prep, the cooking and most importantly, I love watching people eat something I cooked. But when it comes to me, what I crave most is something simple, clean and nourishing. I have realised that what I cook for my family is not what I crave. The kids and the husband love rich, juicy and filling meals. Dinner is our main meal and so its only right that it fills their tummies and nourishes their bodies. But what I most like to eat is salads. Clean and raw and plain. Without fanfare and all those delicious fragrant spices I smell all day. And that is ok.
So, what I have been enjoying eating are those delicious Nori rolls my vegan friend introduced me to. No rice, but flavoured with some vegan mayonnaise and pumpkin dip, a ton of grated carrot, cucumber and lettuce and then rolled up like a big fat sushi. It is fresh, crunchy and so deliciously plain and my taste buds get a rest. I find it funny that after cooking up some delicious feasts, I sit down to a raw meal. At once I noticed that I am relieved. It’s ok to cook for my family and at the cafe and not have to eat. Eating then turns from an act of pleasure to an act of nourishment. Which, to tell you the truth, is a revelation. To look at food from a different angle, to learn to ask and listen to my body.
And this is where I give you some of my recent raw delights, where the pop and zing is mostly in the dressing and simple ingredients are the stars.
Broccoli and Quinoa Salad with sweet sesame dressing
Blanch or roast the broccoli and combine on a plate with red onion, lettuce, grated carrot, capsicum, avocado and coriander. You could really use any veggies that you love raw. With this salad, you have all you bases covered. Cooked and raw veg for plenty of essential minerals and vitamins and fibre. The quinoa for protein and the avocado and oil for your healthy fats. Add a sprinkle of pumpkin/sunflower or sesame seeds and you are laughing.
In a small bowl, combine:
- 3 tbsp tahini
- approx. 50ml water
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp tamari
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (honey or rice malt)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- sea salt
Mix it all together until smooth. You’ll have plenty of dressing to drizzle over your salad all week.
Post workout salad with Tempe and tahini Dressing
I like to roast a batch of vegetables and keep them handy for the week. Not only do they add a different texture to your salad, but make the salad feel like a complete meal. My favourites are Sweet Potato as my carb option, spiced carrots or pumpkin. I also often boil up eggs as a high protein snack or for the kids lunches.
Combine your favourite salad greens and avocado. Add a boiled egg, sautéed tempe and roast veg. Add come cultured vegetables for some pro biotic, like kimchi or sauerkraut. Always sprinkle some seeds over your salad for the crunch effect and some essential minerals.Here, I used toasted hazelnuts, but I also love toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflowers. Flax or hemp are also great. Mix it up to get a nice variety.
- 4 tbsp pain greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
- 1 tbsp tahini
- juice of one lemon
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients and drizzle over you salad. If you are making a salad for dinner, you may also add some grilled chicken, tofu or as I did here, tempe. Including high protein add ons is great if you are refuelling after a workout.
Super salad nori rolls
My vegan friend Caithlin introduced me to this grain free version of a salad sandwich. Gluten and I are not great friends and sometimes, having a grain free lunch option that tastes this great, there is just no need to cook up a batch of rice anymore. It’s not very portable, so you want to make this and eat it straight away. The added bonus here is the nori roll, the easiest way to get seaweed into you. Seaweed is full of healing benefits, in particular, it is full of iodine. Iodine is important to keep your thyroid functioning happily. And the thyroid produces a hormone that is critical for our well-being. So add more nori rolls to your lunch I say.
First, make yourself some tasty dips. I love hummus, roast pumpkin and baba ganoush. A spicy mayo based on cashew is also great and adds some healthy fats to your salad roll without even trying…
Lay out your nori paper like you would with a sushi roll. Spread your chosen dip on one half of the paper, and the other dip on the other half. I love a roast pumpkin / vegan mayo combo.
Be generous with your grated carrots, as this is your ‘rice’ Top with cucumber, avocado or capsicum strips, lettuce leaves and then roll it up tightly like you would with a sushi roll. Done! I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. Be creative with this. You can make it mediterranean by adding roast eggplant or zucchini, a thin spread of olive tepanade and some feta. Or add umeboshi plums and wasabi for a japanese taste.
Surprisingly, my kids all prefer raw veggies. A sunday lunch often looks like the photo above. Lots of options for everyone, plenty of colour and crunch and everyone is happy…
I am sure that my taste buds will someday call for a hefty casserole or curry. At the moment I am following my cravings for raw and simple foods.
What are your taste buds calling out for? What is your favourite lunch?