Lana Purcell’s Girls Gone Clean cleanse

After a couple of indulgent weekends my body was crying out for some clean, simple, healthy food. It was perfect timing then that I was selected as one of Lana Purcell’s ‘guinea pigs’ for her new Girls Gone Clean program. Lana is a “healthy life styler” based on the Bellarine Peninsula and was seeking volunteers to test out the new cleanse before she gave it to her clients – the cleanse had us trading meat, coffee and alcohol for baked sweet potatoes, soups and green juices – and it was surprisingly easy and enjoyable to do. I lost a couple of kgs over the week and, more importantly, picked up some knowledge and recipes about raw, vegetarian and vegan food.

I had to share the recipe for this soup, as I was hesitant but intrigued when I first saw it on our diet plans. Creamy cashew and corn soup, read the recipe, and I couldn’t even imagine what it would taste like. After a quick whiz in the Thermomix I was extremely happy with the result and will be eating this soup regularly even when I’m not detoxing.

Creamy Cashew Corn Soup

3 1⁄4 cups fresh corn

2 cups water

1/2 cup raw cashews

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 clove garlic

1 teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients in a Thermomix (or high speed blender) on 9 for about 30-40 seconds, or until nice and smooth.

Pour into bowls and garnish with corn kernels, coriander and freshly ground pepper if desired.

Note: As the point of this cleanse was to remove processed foods and other junk from our bodies, and get lots of nutrients from the food we ate, we consumed this soup raw – the only heat in the soup was a slight warmth from being blended up. Lana might not like this, but if you feel like you have to have it hot and you’re not doing a cleanse I’m sure you could chuck it in the microwave – it’s such a delicious soup whether you’re trying to be healthy or not, and it’s surprisingly creamy and indulgent. But give it a go raw!

I recently got engaged and there’s been a lot of celebratory dinners and drinks over the last few weeks – and more to come with the silly season approaching. I obviously love my food but I also want to stay healthy, and in the past I’ve focused too much on counting calories – one of the most valuable lessons I learned from Lana was to focus on clean eating, and on adding lots of nutrient-rich ingredients to my meals, rather than obsessively tracking everything I eat or following silly fad diets. Girls Gone Clean gave me recipes and meal ideas I’d never thought of before that were tasty and made my body feel good, rather than feeling bloated and in a food coma. I’m doing the cleanse again starting this Monday and am looking forward to feeling nice and light and detoxed thanks to Lana’s recipes!

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(Sort of) Diet Dinners: Mummah’s Moussaka

My mum is an excellent cook. Lately, as I’ve been trying to think of interesting and healthy things to cook for dinner, I have realised this all the more. We always ate interesting, delicious food and there was lots of variety. More and more often I am calling her a few hours before dinner time, asking for the recipe for one of her dishes, and last week it was her moussaka that I was craving.

 

I don’t really like lasagna – maybe I’ve just tasted too many boring, bland sheets of pasta from lunch time cafes – so moussaka, that Greek dish of layered eggplant, tomato and mince with a crispy crust of white sauce, cheese and breadcrumbs, is my lasagna, a comforting dish both for its warmth and meatyness, perfect for winter, and because it reminds me of my mum. Here’s her recipe for this Greek classic.

 

Mummah’s Moussaka

Ingredients:

  • 1kg lamb mince
  • 1 egg
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 90g butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 470g can tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 185g grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

 

To make white sauce:

Melt butter. Remove from heat, stir in flour and nutmeg. Stir over a low heat for 1 minute. Add milk and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Reduce heat and cook further for 1 minute. Remove from heat, add one lightly beaten egg, stir well.

To make meat sauce:

Cook mince, finely chopped onion and chopped garlic. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato paste and wine. Bring to the boil, reduce heat. Simmer gently, uncovered, until meat is tender and nearly all liquid has evaporated, approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

 

Cook eggplant slices until golden brown. Drain well. Arrange in base of greased ovenproof dish. Combine grated cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle 1/3 of mixture over eggplant.

 

Spoon meat sauce over, then spread white sauce evenly. Sprinkle remaining cheese mixture over. Bake in hot oven 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

 

 

Presentation didn’t turn out quite as well as mum’s – my topping wasn’t perfectly and evenly browned –  but it tasted fantastic, and made for delicious, comforting left overs for the rest of the week.

 

A new series of posts: Diet Dinners

Bf and I have spent the last 5 or so months (since he started his new job and I started uni) in a state of crazy busyness and tiredness. For two people who live together we sometimes don’t see each other very much. This situation was even worse when I was working as a waitress at night and on weekends; there was no one home to cook anything, we both got home late and by the time we crashed on the couch we were both too tired and hungry to bother cooking anything, and besides, the groceries probably hadn’t been bought because there was no time. So instead, we spent too much time at the McDonald’s 100 metres down the road, or getting Vietnamese food from around the corner which was delicious but greasy.

 

The end result of having no time to cook or exercise is a couple who don’t feel their best at the moment. We haven’t eaten vegetables in so long and we’re starting to feel it. The good news is, now that I have left my waitressing job, I finish uni at 5pm and I can come straight home and cook. Bf and I did the grocery shopping when we both had a night off and loaded up with bok choy, brown rice, fish, nuts, bananas and tomatoes. Where slabs of energy drinks once sat in our trolley, now sat a tub of Jalna yoghurt.

 

So begins a series of posts entitled Diet Dinners. These meals are not going to be extreme; not sticks of celery and a bowl of miso soup for dinner. I know what I’m like; if I think I’m on a diet I’ll get so bored and it just won’t work. My meals will still feature red meat; it’s just that now, we will also eat fish more and load up the plates with vegetables besides potatoes. I am posting these meals because 1), I have been meaning to post my own recipes on here for a while now, rather than just reviewing other people’s, and 2), it will be motivation for me to continue to cook healthily if I publicise this.

 

Last night was so, so cold. I was wearing leggings, PJ pants, a woolen top and a boy’s jumper as well as ugg boots. Comfort food was in order: hot, fresh meat pies. I decided, to make them as healthy as possible, I would forget the pastry and bake the pie in a ramekin, and for the crust I would do a take on a traditional cottage pie. If you make this, feel free to change the quantities of the ingredients, as I just made it up as I went along.   

 

Diet Cottage Pie

  • 500 grams lean beef mince
  • Two onions, diced
  • Ten button mushrooms, diced
  • One carrot, diced
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • Half a cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • Shredded light mozzarella cheese
  • Light feta cheese
  • Light milk
  • Butter
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Garlic, to taste
  • Chili, to taste
  • Mixed herbs, to taste

 

Heat some olive oil over low heat in a large saucepan. Slowly fry the onion and garlic and add the chili and diced carrot. Add mince once onion has softened. Stir with a wooden spoon to break up the mince and cook until browned.

Add Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes and herbs to taste. At this point the mixture will be quite liquid, which is not what we want in a pie filling, so bring to the boil, then simmer until the mixture thickens.

While the meat and sauce simmer, place the chopped potato, cauliflower and sweet potato into a saucepan and boil until soft. Drain the vegetables, mash and add milk and butter to taste.

Spoon a thick layer of the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish – about 3/4 full. Fill the rest of the dish with the vegetable mash topping. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in a hot oven until the cheese melts and begins to turn golden. Serve immediately.

This dish makes about 8 serves, assuming you serve it with a side such as broccoli, bread etc.

This dish was so easy, and really the only “bad” thing is the cheese – it’s light, but you could choose to omit it if you want. It’s a great way to get a serve of red meat as well as some veggies, and if you feel like it could use some greens you could add peas to the meat mixture or serve the dish with some broccoli or other side.

 

Most importantly, it tasted really good, and if there are men in your household who love their pies and red meat it’s sure to go down well with them; it’s a good way to enjoy the heartiness of comfort food like pies, without all the bad stuff like the pastry and fatty meat. Bf loved it and said that it has to become one of my regular dishes, and I’m enjoying the leftovers very much for lunch today!