My favourite time of the day is when my family sits down to our evening meal. We eat pretty early these days - 5pm - because we like to share the meal with our toddler. I look forward to dinner each day, to discussing the days events, to watching my son discover new tastes and textures, to digging into a decent meal after a long day. It's the time of day where the demands of life are paused if only for a moment (phones are banned at our dinner table*) and a time when I get the satisfaction of providing my little tribe with some good nutritious tucker.
What if food and eating could be this simple, this joyful, all the time?
Everyday we are bombarded with messages that affect how we think about food and eating. Don't eat this, quit that, X is toxic, but Y will cure all. Certain 'superfoods' have become status symbols while we can be made to feel embarrassed if our diet contains the latest Hollywood no-no nutrient. The result of all these messages can understandably be confusion and frustration, leading to a poor food relationship.
It's time to stop, take a deep breath, stand back, and rethink the way you see food and nutrition. Simplify eating, develop a healthy relationship with food and learn that when you eat nutritious, minimally processed and wholesome foods most of the time, the odd indulgence is no biggie.
It's my hope that this blog can help you with this rethink process. Part nutrition and health updates, part recipes and part personal food adventures. All aiming to inspire you to take your own food journey that is both physically and mentally healthy.
To prove it won't be all salads and celery sticks, let's start things right with a pie:
Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Pie
Most Wollongong dwellers are well accustomed with the phrase 'going down the coast''. We are very blessed to have the amazing beaches and national parks of NSW's South Coast only a short road trip away. We try to make the most of this good fortune as often as we can, either camping, or hiring a holiday cabin, but always with a surfboard strapped to the car roof and travel tea in hand.
Like most road trippers, we have our usual pit stop locations along the way. The one stop that is never missed on our South Coast trip is Hayden's. A pie shop in Ulladulla. And for me the choice is always simple - pumpkin, spinach and feta please!
Alas, the craving for this pastry treat arises more often than the opportunity to drive 2 hours south to buy one. So some home kitchen creativity was required. My version has much more spinach and the addition of chickpeas to boost protein and fibre. Here it is.
Approximately 850g of pumpkin (my preference is kent or jap), peeled and roughly cut into 2-3cm chunks
1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp extra
1/2tsp dried sage
Cracked black pepper and salt
1 bunch English spinach, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
100g feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 sheets puff pastry (homemade preferred)
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 200•c
Toss the pumpkin in the olive oil and then place the chunks on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sage. Crack some pepper and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the chunks. Roast in the oven for 30min. Set aside to cool. When completely cooled, place the pumpkin in a bowl and roughly mash with a fork, leaving plenty of lumps.
Heat the extra oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the garlic but don't allow it to burn or crisp. Add the spinach and while stirring, allow it to wilt slightly. Remove from heat and toss the feta and chickpeas into the spinach mixture.
Grease a pie dish and line with one sheet of puff pastry. Place the completely cooled pumpkin mash into the base of the pie, then spoon the spinach mixture on top. Cover with the other piece of pastry, trim excess and press down to seal around the edge of the pie. Pierce the top of the pie with a knife, and brush the pie top with the beaten egg.
Increase the oven temp to 220•c. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Serve with a fresh mixed salad, preferably one brought by the friend that you invited round for pie!
*except for a quick photo of course!