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Nurture a taste for cooking

WHO doesn't love the smell of cakes or biscuits being home baked or the aroma of a baked dinner hitting you as you come home?

We are all time poor with so much to do in our busy days but if you don't make time to cook healthy meals and rely more on packets, jars and frozen meals then you may find your health will suffer.

Food is fuel to your body and if you give it sub-standard food then you could be compromising your health.

Cooking from scratch doesn't have to be hard.

Just follow some of my easy recipes and you'll quickly discover that healthy cooking can be easy and fun.

Here are some good reasons cooking from scratch is important and worthwhile:

You know what's in the food you're eating and can control how much salt, sugar and fat is used.

Vitamins and minerals are an important part of good health. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables will help your body zing through the day.

It is much more economical to make your own meals.

It might seem expensive when you first start out as you have to buy many new ingredients, such as spices and dried herbs.

But once you have them you will find you spend less in the supermarket.

Food will taste much better and the joy of cooking and eating healthy, delicious food will excite you enough that I guarantee you will want to spend more time in your kitchen.

When you cook for yourself you also have pride of achievement and of creating something fabulous for those you love.

When you buy your own meat you are able to cut the fat off, which means you will be eating less saturated fat.

For example, buying already crumbed lamb cutlets means you can't see how fatty the cutlet is under the crumbs.

It is easy to crumb your own meat and, remember, when it comes to meat, you get what you pay for. If you buy cheap meat you will get fattier meat.

When food is in season or on special you can save dollars in the supermarket. Relying on takeaways, restaurants or pre-packaged meals is expensive and you have no idea how the food has been prepared or cooked.

If you want to be healthy you need to know what is in the food you are eating and take charge of what you eat.

Your health will be the winner.

Visit Annette's website symplytoogood.com.au for more tips and recipes, and join Annette's Facebook page at Symply Too Good.

 

PIZZA PASTA BAKE - SERVES 6

  • 2 cups dried penne pasta
  • cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (in jar)
  • 1 cup green capsicum cut into strips
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 2 cups mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup (125g) 97% fat-free thick-sliced ham cut into strips
  • 1 x 415g can no-added-salt crushed tomatoes
  • 1 x 420g can salt-reduced tomato soup
  • 2 tablespoons no-added-salt tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1¼ cups 25% reduced-fat grated tasty cheese

Method

Preheat oven 180C fan forced.

Follow cooking instructions on pasta packet, leave to one side. Coat a large, non-stick frypan with cooking spray, and sauté garlic, capsicum and onion for two minutes.

Add mushrooms and cook two for minutes. Place remaining ingredients into pan except for pasta and tasty cheese.

Combine all ingredients well. Once boiled, simmer for three minutes. Fold pasta and half cup of tasty cheese into mixture. Pour mixture into a lasagne dish, level out, then sprinkle remaining ¾ cup tasty cheese over top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes uncovered.

Variation: for vegetarian pasta bake omit ham and replace with one cup of sliced celery.

 

QUICK AND EASY POTATO BAKE - SERVES 8 (as a side dish)

  • 1 kilo potatoes
  • cooking spray
  • 1 x 375ml can evaporated light milk
  • 2 tablespoons salt-reduced French onion soup mix
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (in jar)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup 25% reduced-fat grated tasty cheese

 

Method

Preheat oven 180C fan forced.

Peel and thinly slice potatoes.

Spray a medium size lasagne dish (28cm x 19cm) with cooking spray then layer sliced potato over base of dish.

Cling wrap dish then place in microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes.

Remove from microwave and take off cling wrap.

In a small mixing bowl combine milk, soup mix, garlic and parmesan cheese.

Pour over potato slices then top with grated tasty cheese.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until cheese is golden brown on top.

Variation: Replace potato with sweet potato.

Can be frozen for 2 - 3 weeks.

 

SYMPLE TUNA BAKE - SERVES 4

  • 1 cup raw shell pasta
  • 3 cups frozen diced mixed vegetables
  • cooking spray
  • ½ cup onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (in jar)
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1½ cups skim milk
  • 1 sachet cream of mushroom cup-a-soup
  • 1 tablespoon seeded mustard (in jar)
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
  • pepper
  • 1 x 425g can tuna in spring water (drained)
  • ½ cup 25% reduced-fat grated tasty cheese

 

Method

Preheat oven 180C fan forced.

Cook pasta as instructed on packet. Leave to one side. Microwave mixed vegetables in a little water on high for 6 minutes. Drain. In a large saucepan that has been coated with cooking spray sauté onion and garlic for 1 minute.

Add cooked vegetables and sauté 2 minutes. Combine cornflour with milk then pour into pan stirring continuously until boiled. Add dried soup mix, mustard, parmesan cheese and tuna.

Once mixture is combined and has boiled, add pepper to taste then the cooked pasta. Once pasta has been folded through, pour mixture into either a casserole or small lasagne dish that has been coated with cooking spray. Flatten top then sprinkle tasty cheese over. Bake 45 minutes or until cheese is brown on top. Leave to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Can be frozen for 2-3 weeks.

Topics:  annette sym cooking



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