Planning Nutritious Meals

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Happy New Year 2023!

Now is the time to turn a new page and start making plans for a better year ahead! This should include organisation of home, family routines, exercise routines, and most importantly eating well balanced nutritious meals.

Start with writing in a new Diary or Journal. Make a list of meals you can plan for the week ahead or even a month. This includes:

  1. Breakfast
  2. Snack
  3. Lunch
  4. Tea
  5. Dinner

Ensure the 5 important food groups are included regularly throughout the week.

  1. Protein – meat, chicken, fish
  2. Dairy
  3. Carbohydrates – cereals
  4. Vegetables 5 serves each
  5. Fruit 3 serves each

As well keep in mind other health requirements for other members of your family or household, or individual tastes. Some people may have food allergies. Most children (and adults too!) don’t like to see vegetables on their plate! Forcing people to eat something they don’t like and creating a hostile atmosphere at the table when this occurs, can lead to other dietary problems later on in life. I agree it is very stressful for the person who does all the cooking and cleaning at home to cope with this situation, but if you focus on simple meals which you have tried out before or passed down through your family, life will be a lot more manageable!

Tip 1: When all else fails, grate the raw vegetables into foods like soups, casseroles, sauces, so that your family get their daily dietary requirements. For example grated carrots, zucchini, finely chopped spinach, cabbage, are very nutritious and hardly noticed in gravies and sauces. Our ancestors had to be very economical in cooking meals for their families, due to wars, and shortages of food at various times of history. Adding grated vegetables to sauces and gravies increased the taste of food and added bulk to the food for all the family.

Tip 2: Decorate the food platters with a attractive theme and encourage children in decorating meals and dining table as well. Eating those colorful veggies may not work first time, but in time it will change.

Tip 3: During working week, focus on planning simple meals, rather than following recipe books, videos on the internet, because reading up the recipe takes time and preparation which may double the time on cooking the meal.

Till my next post, enjoy your cooking!

Cheers – Mary


A quick spicy nutritious meal — Simple meals

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Steamed Rice with Spicy Dhall – Serves 2-4 Preparation and Cooking time: 1/2 hr. Rice – 1 1/2 cups of Basmati rice or any rice of your choice 1 litre of water 1 teaspoon of Salt In a 2 litre pot, fill with water, bring to boil. Wash rice till water is clear. Add rice […]

A quick spicy nutritious meal — Simple meals

Food shortages – Prepare

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Securing a potable water source and the means to purify less-than-ideal water sources — Examples include stocking up on water purification tablets or drops, and/or independent water filtration systems such as Berkey that can filter out pathogens and other impurities (meaning a filtration system that is not tied to the tap in your home, in case pumps go down and you have no tap water).

Even a small survival water filtration system is better than nothing, as drinking contaminated water can result in serious illness and/or death. Having a rain barrel connected to your gutter downspout is a good idea. You can use it to water your garden, and in a worst-case scenario, you have a source of fresh water to drink, cook and take sponge baths in.

•Buy shelf-stable and nonperishable foods in bulk — Freeze dried foods, for example, have a shelf life of 25 years or more. Canned foods and dry staples such as rice and beans can also stay viable long past their expiration date under the right conditions.

Other good options include canned salmon, canned cod livers, sardines in water (avoid ones preserved in vegetable oil), nuts, powdered milk and whey and other nutritional powders you can mix with water.

Ideally, you’ll want to store food in a cool, dark place with low humidity. Bulk packs of rice and beans are best stored in a sealed food-grade bucket with some oxygen absorbers. Vacuum sealing food can also extend shelf life.

•Energy backups — To prepare for eventual energy shortages, brownouts, rolling blackouts or a complete shutdown of the power grid, consider one or more power backups, such as gas-powered generators and/or solar generator kits such as Jackery or Inergy. Having backup power can prevent the loss of hundreds of dollars worth of food if your home loses electricity for more than a couple of days.

Scale up and diversify according to what you can afford. Ideally, you’d want more than one system. If all you have is a gas-powered generator, what will you do if there’s a gas shortage and/or if the price skyrockets into double digits? On the other hand, what will you do if the weather is too overcast to recharge your solar battery?

•Cooking backups — You also need some way to cook water and food during a blackout. Here, options include (but are not limited to) solar cookers, which require neither electricity nor fire, small rocket stoves, propane-powered camping stoves and 12-volt pots and pans that you can plug into a backup battery.

•Start a garden and learn some basic skills — The more food you can produce at home, the better off you’ll be. At bare minimum, stock up on sprouting seeds and grow some sprouts. They’re little powerhouses when it comes to nutrition, they’re easy to grow and are ready to eat in days rather than months.

If you have the space, consider starting a garden, and if local regulations allow, you can add chickens for a steady supply of eggs. (Just remember that they too may need additional feed.)

Also, start learning some basic food storage skills such as canning and pickling. While it can feel intimidating at first, it’s really not that difficult. For example, raw, unwashed, homegrown eggs can be preserved in lime water — 1 ounce of lime (calcium hydroxide, aka “pickling lime”) to 1 quart of water — thereby extending their shelf life to about two years without refrigeration.21

The lime water basically seals the eggs to prevent them from spoiling. Before using the eggs, be sure to wash the lime off. This does not work with commercial eggs, however, as the protective coating, called “bloom,” is stripped off during washing.

Fermented vegetables are also easy to make and will allow you to store the proceeds from your garden for long periods of time. For inspiration, check out my fermented veggie recipe. In the video below, I explain the benefits of using starter culture and kinetic culture jar lids. They’re not a necessity, but will cut the odor released as the veggies ferment.”

How to ferment food for health purposes and storing foods:

Preserved Plums

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Its the season for plums now, so what can we do with an abundance of this fruit. There are many varieties of plums to choose from. Many people grow this fruit in their backyard too. Apart from eating this juicy fruit, we can preserve them in jars which can be used later on. Note: ensure you store fruit in a clean, sterilized, dry jar with fitting lids.

Here are some examples:

  1. Fruit liqueur – Wash the fruit well, dry well with a clean tea towel. Place in a large jar, sprinkle with sugar, pour in a bottle of vodka (the cheapest you can find) close, give it a few shakes for a few days till the sugar dissolves, then put away for a few months. After a few months this will become a lovely plum liqueur. Strain into a bottle. Also serve as a dessert with fresh yogurt, cream or ice-cream.
  2. Stewed fruit – add fruit to water in a saucepan, add sugar and cinnamon (optional), cook until tender. When cool, pour into individual containers and freeze.
  3. Sweet and sour sauce – Cook with chilies, garlic, onion, vinegar, ginger and a little sweet soy sauce.

Home made Electrolytes

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It is so important to keep hydrated, even as we get busy and can forget to drink fluids throughout the day. Soon our body can react and show symptoms of tiredness, headaches, dry skin, weakness.

Here is a simple home-made concoction for electrolyte to keep hydrated in the event you or your family suffer dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting illness or during hot summer season.

  • 34 ounces (1 liter) of water
  • 6 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Combine them in a large bowl or pot and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Keep in a bottle with fitting lid in fridge and use when required.

Honey & Lemon cake

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We are in middle of winter here, so I thought of making a cake with honey, lemon and cinnamon which are some of the ingredients that can cure colds and coughs. The pantry is stocked with plenty of honey, lemons, so why not add these ingredients to make a cake!


1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup (72g) almond flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup honey

Grated rind of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, at room temperature


  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a honeycomb pan or 9″ round cake pan.
  2. To make the batter: Weigh the flours, or measure them by gently spooning them into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions. Beat in the honey, zest, and extracts.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk or yogurt, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Spread the batter into the prepared pan; if you’re baking in the honeycomb pan, we recommend tapping the pan firmly on the counter to help eliminate any air bubbles at the bottom.
  7. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack.
  9. To make the glaze: Combine the honey, butter, and lemon juice in a microwave-safe bowl or in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Heat until the butter is melted and stir until smooth.
  10. Brush the glaze onto the warm cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting.
  11. Store leftover cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Steamed Rice in microwave

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As rice is part of our daily meals, it can become cumbersome to always have cooked rice in the home kitchen. It is economical and nutritious to cook as well. The process to prepare rice and cook it, can become tiresome! So I was looking at buying a new rice cooker as in the past many have not worked and I had to dispose of it. I wanted one with a ceramic bowl and with a long term guarantee. Not so easy, as I have been searching the internet. Instead I came across a post from one celebrity chef who cooks everything in the microwave, so I have decided to utilise my microwave and found a recipe for cooking rice quickly. Here is the recipe

1 cup of rice – wash well till water is clear

Add 1 plus 1/4 cups of water and a pinch of salt.

Place in a microwaveable container with lid, pyrex dish with a glass lid. Stir through.

Microwave for 5 minutes on high. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before removing lid.

Remove lid and stir lightly with a fork.

If its too dry, add a little more water, stir through and microwave for a further 2 minutes.

As a tip – 1 cup uncooked rice can feed upto 2 adults. If you need to increase the amount to 2 cups, use the same ratio of rice and water. Keep in mind the size of your cooking container to allow for the rice to cook and expand as well.

With a variety of rice grains – Jasmine, Basmati, long grain, short grain, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid you add to cook with and the result – either the grains will be soft or grainy.

Also its a good idea to stir through cooked rice to separate the grains, while it is still hot.

With microwave cooking, the benefits are a reduction of cooking time and washing up extra dishes, as you can cook and serve from the same container.

Steamed rice can be used to serve with curries, stir fried meat and vegetables, dhal or made into a fried rice, rice pudding, rissoles, etc.

The cost of rice is quite economical as a small quantity can feed many people starting from $4 per kilo to less (depending which country you live in). 1 kilo of rice fills about 6 cups of uncooked rice.

I hope you find this recipe helpful!

Feeding your family on a budget

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Are you on a very tight budget to feed your family daily or until next pay cheque? Have no fear, you can do it, even though it seems impossible! I have learnt a lot from my dear mother who had to encounter this situation while we were kids. She would say ‘what can we buy with a few dollars only’. But with a bit of creativity and ingenuity, she would buy a few items and cook a meal for hungry tummies.

If you are used to a rich diet, you may find this hard to adapt to but with practice you will actually enjoy it. This teaches us to look through your pantry of non perishables and add a few items to make a delicious meal. It also teaches us to eliminate rich and unnecessary foods which are not healthy for our bodies.

Taking into consideration that we need protein, carbohydrates, fruits and veggies regularly to keep us healthy and happy.

Some of the cheapest non perishable foods we can find in grocery stores are as follows. The cost is usually within a few dollars a kilo


  • Flour
  • Oats
  • Lentils
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Rice


  • Eggs
  • Tins of Tuna
  • Sardines

Affordable and nutritious fresh foods:


Soup bones – chicken, beef, pork, fish

Chicken – full sized

Beef mince


  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Zuchini
  • Onions
  • Greens


  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pears

Affordable tinned foods to keep in pantry:

  • Chick peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Tuna

Most cheapest/nutritious meal:

  • Chicken broth
  • Mince – base mince sauce can be mixed with other vegetables to cook with pastas, stir fries, rice, rissoles.

With a few dollars to spare you could buy a bag of flour, you could cook pancakes for breakfast, banana bread, bread, chapatis, pizzas.

Eggs? Pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelet, quiche, egg sandwiches, egg fried rice.

Stay tuned for my next edition of recipes for all of the above food staples within budget.



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Broth? Have you heard of broth? The web is buzzing with broth recipes. There is a business selling hot take away broth rich in fresh and natural nutrients. The ideal drink and wholesome food for those cold, wintry, rainy days.

I grew up with family always having a pot of broth on the stove and having to drink a bowl of it, whatever the taste may be! Sometimes being a kid we were fussy with broth and would turn our noses up, but it was really good for your health. Years later being a housewife and mum, I learnt the value of adding this to my regular cooking.

Some advantages of cooking broth:

  1. Economical:  Its cheap to buy a bag of beef bones or chicken bones from your local butcher. Sometimes they will give it to you free if you regularly purchase from them.
  2. Wholesome and nutritious.
  3. Bones left over can be given to your pets
  4. A whole pot of broth can last for a long time. Store a few cups in your freezer to be either reheated or made into a vegetable soup, stock for casseroles, gravies or pilao.
  5. Its a hot meal to come home to, served with fresh bread.
  6. Less food preparation time – just put all ingredients in a pot or slow cooker.

Nutritional value:

  • Bone: The bone itself yields minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Sodium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and silicon are also present.
  • Marrow: Bone marrow gives you vitamin A, vitamin K2, omega-3s, omega-6s and minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, boron and manganese. Marrow from beef and lamb also contains CLA.
  • Connective tissue: This tissue provides glucosamine and chondroitin, which are popular dietary supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

Additionally, bones, marrow and connective tissue are all largely made up of collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked.

Gelatin has a unique profile of amino acids, and is particularly high in glycine.


  • 2–3 pounds of chicken or beef bones
  • 4 liters (1 gallon) of water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1 onion (peeled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 large carrot (cleaned)
  • 1 piece of celery
  • 1 teaspoon of salt,
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 stalk of parsley (optional)


  1. Wash bones and place bones and vegetables in a big, stainless steel pot.
  2. Pour water into the pot so it covers the contents. Add the vinegar, and then raise the temperature to bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, add salt and pepper, and then let simmer for 4–24 hours (the longer it simmers, the tastier and more nutrient-dense it will be).
  4. Allow the broth to cool, and then strain the solids out. Now it’s ready.

After it is done, you can store the broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Instead of a pot, you may also want to use a pressure cooker, slow cooker or Crock-Pot. 

Bread making during lockdown!

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3 1/2 cups of plain flour (or bread flour)

1 sachet of yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

Mix all dry ingredients lightly, slowly add in the water and start mixing from the centre till a dough starts coming together. Knead a few minutes, then place this dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap or a tea towel to allow it to rise. After a couple of hours check it again and it should have doubled. Place this on a lightly floured board and knead lightly again. Place this in a lightly oiled loaf tin and bake in preheated medium heat oven for about 30 mins. The bread should be a light brown.

From this dough, you can divide into 6-8 bun sizes and bake it on a greased tray.

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