A smashed avo recipe that doesn’t taste like regurgitated avocado…

This post comes with a proceed-with-caution warning: my inner food snob is about to unleash. If you didn’t already know that I’m a  food snob, you’re about to. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in food, cooking, health, wellness or all of the above anyway, so you’ve probably got a wee bit of food snob in you as well. And if you don’t, then I’m going to sound like a total brat. But that’s ok because I feel that my brattiness is well-justified, as all brats do.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m the world’s greatest cook – not by any means. I stuff up recipes and make hideous meals all the time – I just don’t take pictures or blog about them. And given that I’ve only been cooking properly for the past two to three years (before that, all I cared about was eating), my culinary opinion doesn’t come with much authority. But I’ll never hesitate to offer it anyway…

I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with restaurants’ efforts when it comes to the most basic dishes. I believe that anyone and everyone paying for food has the right to be a food snob. If I were charging people real money for my food in a commercial landscape, everything about the entire experience would have to be pretty great: the presentation, the service, the ambiance and, most importantly, the food. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise. When eating out, which is probably far too often mind you, I always ask myself this: “Could I have easily made something that tastes and looks better than this?” If the answer is yes, then I’m not happy. Isn’t the whole point of “eating out” to relish in the pleasure of eating something you don’t have the ability, time or inclination to produce yourself? I’m sick of going to pretentious restaurants with snooty waiting staff and prices to match, then being totally underwhelmed by the food and leaving knowing I could have whipped up something a whole lot better myself for a fraction of the price.

I could ramble on with a thousand examples, but you’d probably never return to my blog again. So I’ll share one grievance that’s becoming more and more frequent, and less and less well-tolerated: down-right crappy breakfasts. Melbourne prides itself on its top-notch brekkies, and competitive trendy cafe-filled areas such as Richmond, Hawthorn and Collingwood even more so. So when you take regular trips to Urban Spoon’s top-rated Melbourne brunch joints and the breakfast menus display prices that equal those of standard restaurants’ dinners (20-30 bucks), it’s your right as a generously paying customer to expect a pretty shit-hot breakfast. Yes, I made a punny.

But when the waiter takes 20 minutes to ask if you’d like something to drink, then the chef is less than accommodating of your food intolerances, insisting that “no menu items can be altered or cooked without garlic and onion” and you’re left with poached-eggs-and-your-choice-of-sides for the gazillionth time since you developed this crappy intolerance, then you’re getting pretty annoyed. Then, when your family receives their delectable Spanish baked eggs and gourmet breakfast burgers, you’re thinking: those $12 poached eggs better be hot and cooked medium, that $9 side of smoked trout or salmon wouldn’t want to taste like a fish market smells at 4pm, those grilled tomatoes better be all juicy and herby (and not be covered in minced garlic so you don’t have to send them back), that spelt sourdough should not be soggy, the sauteed spinach shouldn’t leave the rest of your plate swimming in oil and, for heaven’s sake, that $7 “smashed avocado” better not taste like the chef chewed up an avocado and spat it out on your plate…

Far too often lately, I’ve been served a cold plate of under or over-done poached eggs, overly fishy fish, tasteless tomatoes, soggy bread, super oily spinach and what I now coin ‘regurgitated avocado’. A lover of fresh, whole produce, I believe that basic is best – real food sings for itself. You don’t need complex cooking methods and a million ingredients to make food taste wonderful. A little always goes a long way in the kitchen, but a little love is still needed to give any dish pizzazz, even if it is only breakfast. And why should breakfast be less delicious than any other meal?! When you’re paying premium price for food, or any price for that matter, you have the right to expect to get what you pay for. 

So, here’s my take on ‘smashed avocado’: it’s super tasty, quick and easy and calls for minimal ingredients with a whole lotta taste. It can be used to add some spunk (and a bunch of nutritional benefits) to any breakfast, and it’s great as a spread, salad topping, guacamole or even a healthy dip alternative. I served mine on organic spelt sourdough with poached eggs and smoked salmon. Nourishing, simple, cheap and, most importantly, YUMMO!

Simple Avo & Bulgarian Feta Smash

Serves 3 as a side

  • 1 large ripe avocado*, skin and pip removed.
  • 40g Bulgarian feta (you could also use Danish feta, or Goats for dairy-free)
  • Juice of 1/4 – 1/2 lemon (to taste)
  • 1 small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 large spring (green) onions, chopped (green part only for those with FructMal), or 2 tbs chopped chives
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Himalayan pink sea salt, to taste


  1. In a small bowl, mash avocado and half the feta with a fork. Don’t worry about getting it totally smooth – the chunkier, the better.
  2. Add the juice, coriander and green onion and stir to combine. Add the pepper and salt to taste & add more lemon juice if needed. The lemon juice will also delay the avocado’s natural browning process (handy side tip: you can use fresh lemon juice to prevent sliced fruits like banana and apple from going brown, too!).
  3. Add the rest of the feta and stir until just combined. Use immediately. Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for the rest of the day, but will begin to brown after a few hours.

*I’ve recently started introducing more avocado into my diet. At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t tolerate more than a spoonful. I can now tolerate much more. If you’ve got FructMal and you’re not sure of your tolerance to avocado, just be careful. As always, tolerance to FODMAPs varies greatly from individual to individual and the best way to ensure a happy gut is to test your own tolerance.

Happy Nourishing!

Cheat’s Mexican Quinoa-Stuffed Capsicums

IMG_4057 IMG_4052 The term ‘cheats’ isn’t exactly synonymous with the cooking habits of fructose malabsorbers. Given the amount of onion and garlic powders in almost every packeted/bottled, marinade, recipe base, stock and seasoning known to man, we’re given no choice to make it all from scratch. After being forced to farewell many of my favourite FODMAP-filled fruits and veggies, this has been my next biggest challenge; all of a sudden, even the most basic cooking methods like using organic store-bought stock to make soups or using sauces, curry pastes and spice blends for dishes became impossible. I was so used to turning to healthy store-bought recipe bases (particularly ones by Celebrate Health) when I was short on time or lacking the desire to cook. I soon realised how badly I’d taken for granted the very luxury of being able to use healthy  products to create meals –and cut precious time– with.

Lo and behold, it is with pure rapture I can announce that Celebrate Health have, whether they realise it or not, added ONION AND GARLIC FREE PRODUCTS to their range of healthy packaged culinary bliss!!! Upon realising this, I quite literally did a happy dance down the health food aisle of my local Coles. I squealed with excitement, demanding that my boyfriend show the same amount of enthusiasm which, going by the way he scurried away from his seizure-induced girlfriend, he clearly did not. That wasn’t going to stop me – I just convulsed harder. By pure coincidence, I was having a Mexican fiesta-themed dinner party with my girlfriends that night, so I used the Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa as a base for a gloriously vibrant salad. I was in too much of a rush to photograph it at the time, but it was so incredibly tasty and popular among my friends (one of my besties even shot-gunned the leftovers for lunch the next day) that I made it again first thing on Sunday – this time stuffing some of the salad into roasted capsicums. This dish really speaks for itself, both in terms of taste and appearance – the flavours pop just as much as the colours do! It’s full of texture from the veggies, and it’s alive with those explosive Mexican flavours (think cumin, chilli, paprika, coriander, kaffir lime and oregano).

Sadly, I can’t take full credit for the taste sensation that this dish is because I’ve used a recipe base. Frankly, I don’t really care, either. I’m going to take full advantage of this newly rekindled luxury and relish in the fact that I no longer have to make every.single.meal. from scratch every.single.day. for the rest of my life. This recipe is so positively delicious that I know I’ll be eating it for a very long time. It makes a perfect salad for all-year ’round entertaining (just double the recipe) and is wonderful either warm or cold, so leftovers can be enjoyed as a healthy, sustaining and fuss-free lunch for days after.

Being vegan, gluten free, dairy free, low FODMAP, fructose friendly, egg free and nut free, it’s totally tummy and allergy friendly. What’s more, unlike other recipes that call for pre-made bases which are filled with refined sugar and fructose, simple carbs, saturated fat, preservatives, fillers, flavour enhancers, thickeners and countless other nasty artificial additives, this Mexican Quinoa Salad is  brimming with all the good stuff: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, complex carbs, complete protein and health-promoting fatty acids.IMG_4047 IMG_4048 IMG_4049 IMG_4053 IMG_4051 IMG_4056 IMG_4055 IMG_4054 IMG_4058

Cheat’s Mexican Quinoa-Stuffed Capsicums

Makes 2 meals or 4 side dishes. I like to double the recipe to make a week’s worth of lunches!

Note: You can either stuff the quinoa salad into roasted capsicums or just eat the salad on its own, as the recipe already has capsicum in it. I do both, although the stuffed capsicums make great individual servings for entertaining. 


  • 1 packet Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa
  • 1.5 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock, organic if possible (organic chicken stock could be used too, or water but it won’t be as flavoursome)
  • 1 large red capsicum, chopped (plus 2 more red capsicums to be stuffed, if using)
  • 1 small tin sweet corn* kernels, or 1/2 large tin (ensure that no sugar has been added)
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 1 large handful baby spinach leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup chopped spring/green onion**, or chives.
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander plus extra, to serve
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch dried chilli flakes
  • lime zest and juice , to serve
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped, to serve


    1. If you’re making the stuffed capsicums, preheat oven to 180*C for 10 mins. Cut 2 capsicums in half lengthways, place on a lined baking tray cut-side up and bake until slightly tender, around 10-15 mins, while the quinoa is cooking.
    2. Place the Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa in a saucepan along with the stock, cumin, paprika, oregano and dried chili. Give a quick stir, bring to the boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, allowing the grains to absorb the liquid for 15 minutes. If the quinoa hasn’t absorbed all the liquid by now, let it cook for a further 5 minutes, careful not to overcook or it will turn into mushy porridge. It’s ready when the grains are soft, but still able to be separated with a fork. Remove from heat.
    3. In the meantime, heat 1tsp olive oil (I used garlic-infused) in a fry pan. Add chopped capsicum to the pan and sautée over medium-high heat for 2 mins. Add chopped green beans and sautée until slightly tender but still crisp.
    4. In a bowl, combine the quinoa, capsicum, green beans, corn, green onion/chives, spinach and coriander. If you’re making stuffed capsicums, spoon the mixture into the roasted capsicum halves. Upon serving, top with chopped avocado and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Garnish with fresh coriander and a sprinkle of lime zest. It’s also great with a dollop of Greek yoghurt if you’re not vegan or dairy-free!

* If you have fructmal and you’re quite sensitive to sweet corn, try halving the recommended quantity. I can personally tolerate a fair bit of it, and this amount shouldn’t cause any upsets because the rest of the ingredients are very low in fructose and free of fructans. The safest thing is to test your own tolerance.
**Those with fructmal should only use the green part of spring (green) onion.

Happy Nourishing!


Fragrant Roasted Veggie & Quinoa Salad

imageIMG_3636 IMG_3787Last Saturday was my favourite kind of Saturday; the air smelt like Summer and I spent the day walking my pup in the sunshine, wandering around Prahran Market and cooking.

Prahran market is any health foodie’s bliss, and its location — being just off the hustle and bustle of fashion heaven Chapel Street –makes it even more blissful for those who love fashion and food. I was in my element. I won’t lie, this market isn’t cheap. But, then again, it’s only expensive relative to supermarket produce that’s mass-produced and often genetically modified, and is laden with preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Like many local markets, most of the produce at Prahran Market is organic, seasonal and farmed locally. Basically, you get what you pay for. Not only is organic produce free of all the nasty stuff, but it’s also far richer in the good stuff – organic fruit and veg provides far more vitamins, minerals and nutritional antioxidants because it’s grown in nutrient-rich soil and is harvested with care. It’s also for this reason that organic food looks more vibrant and tastes better. I believe wholeheartedly that your health is the best investment you can make, monetarily and otherwise. People often complain that organic and ‘health’ foods are unjustifiably expensive, but I personally look at it this way: it’s more worthwhile to spend money on nourishing the body I’m going to have until I die, rather than a dress I’m going to wear once or twice. That’s not to say I don’t put money into both. One is just more justifiable than the other…

I managed to fill the boot of my car with a whole heap of gorgeous organic goodies such purple carrots, wild baby carrots, sweet potato, a Woodfrog Bakery baguette, Loving Earth coconut sugar, pumpkin seed butter and quinoa, just to name a few. I even bought a bunch of these exquisite wild tulips which, as the proud cashier announced, were not grown hydroponically (in a water solution), but in real soil. How incredibly naive of me for assuming that all flowers are grown in the grounds of pretty meadows all these years…

When I got home, my mum asked what on earth I was going to do with it all, as she usually does. I decided to whip up a big quinoa dish to get me through the next week’s lunches. None of it made it past dinner – the entire thing got demolished by my family before I could get my tuppaware containers out of the cupboard.


Fragrant Roasted Veggie + Quinoa Salad

Serves 5-6
Dietary info: wheat & gluten free, fructose friendly, low FODMAP, soy free. Contains nuts (almonds) & lactose (omit feta for dairy free).


  • 1 medium sweet potato, washed & peeled
  • 1/2 kent/jap pumpkin, washed & peeled
  • 1 large purple carrot (optional)
  • 2 cups white quinoa, rinsed thoroughly* (I often cheat and use two packets of Celebrate Health Lemon & Thyme Quinoa)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 1/4 cup roasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp garam masala (Indian spice mix – available from supermarkets & spice markets)
  • Pinch sweet paprika
  • Himalayan sea salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 tbs garlic-infused EVOO
  • 1/2 cup Danish or Persian Feta, crumbled


  1. Preheat oven to 200*C.
  2. Combine the ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika and garam masala.
  3. Chop pumpkin into 2cm chunks and sweet potato and carrot (if using) into 1cm chunks. The pumpkin is softer and therefore cooks twice as fast as sweet potato & carrot, but I’ve got better things to do with my time than fiddle with varied cooking times, so I just cut the pumpkin twice as large as the sweet potato & carrot.
  4. Throw pumpkin, sweet potato & carrot in  a large bowl with the garlic olive oil and 1/2 tbs of the EVOO (the rest will be used for the dressing). Use your hands to ensure that the veggies are evenly coated with the oil.
  5. Arrange veggies on a baking/roasting dish and sprinkle with half of the prepared spice mix. Also sprinkle with a little Himalayan salt.
  6. Bake veggies for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn to expose the less-cooked sides. Sprinkle with the remaining spice mix and some more paprika and salt if you wish. Return to the oven until they’re golden and cooked through – another 15-20 mins should do it. If they’re still a little under done, cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Cooking times will vary from oven to oven, and also depending on the size of the veggies.
  7. While the veggies are roasting, place the quinoa and stock in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then turn right down and cover with a lid. Leave for 15 minutes to allow the grains to absorb the liquid. Once ready, use a fork to fluff it up and separate the grains. If you’re using Celebrate Health Lemon & Thyme Quinoa or another packaged recipe base, prepare the quinoa according to packet instructions, using stock instead if it calls for water. The quinoa is ready when its germ is exposed (a white little ring around the grain will appear). It should be soft but still have some resistance when chewed – sort of like the ‘al dente’ quinoa version of pasta! It should not be cluggy or porridge-like, but if it is, don’t bother starting from scratch – it’ll still taste good!
  8. In a large salad bowl, combine the quinoa, lemon juice (to taste), remaining EVOO, baby spinach, chives and coriander. At this stage, I threw in more of the spices to taste to make the quinoa itself more fragrant and flavourful. Top the quinoa with the roasted veggies, toasted almonds, feta and extra coriander. Finish with a little drizzle of EVOO and a squeeze of lemon juice. If I have some on hand at the time, I also love to top the salad with some of my Mum’s homegrown and home-pickled beetroot chunks. Since it’s full of sugar and not exactly clean, I only use a few tablespoons of it, but the sweetness really ties everything together and makes the flavours pop. Besides, I’ve never been able to pass up a beetroot and feta combo, anyway.

*Always rinse plain uncooked quinoa thoroughly prior to cooking, or you might end up with a very unpleasantly bitter result!

Happy Nourishing!

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