Tips for a stress free 21st celebration

21st birthday celebrations can be very stressful….who’s coming, how many will turn up, what will they want to eat, will they drink too much… and on it goes. Whilst your 21 year old is very relaxed assuring you “all will be fine”.

Brownies & sparklers

Gone are the days where an invitation was sent in the mail & we all hand wrote our replies “Dear Mr & Mrs Smith thank you for your kind invitation..…” I remember my 21st was a sit down affair. My mother prepared all the food & decorations. I have fond memories of her wrapping ivy from the garden around the posts of the marquee. I only appreciate now just how much work & effort she put in.

21st Birthday Preparations

Onto today & things are a whole lot different. Here are my top tips for a stress free celebration:

1. Call in the caterers of course. We’ve catered for many 21sts & can advise you on what items are popular amongst this crowd.

– You want to provide food that is filling, so items such as mini burgers & petite pizzas are ideal. Protein rich food is also important as the protein helps to metabolise the alcohol.

– Choose finger food that is easy to eat & won’t leave a mess on your floor. I’d avoid anything on skewers or noodle boxes as these tend to get left everywhere & anywhere. It’s surprising where you’ll find these the next day!

– Identify any dietary requirements and cater for a range (vegetarian and vegan is very popular at the moment). Being a nutritionist I understand these needs. Being a caterer I know how to make these options delicious & ones that everyone will enjoy. Our rice paper rolls are a perfect example.

 

Rice Paper Rolls

2. Have a professional in the kitchen heating & plating your food. A chef will go with the flow of the evening & the appetite of the crowd ensuring there’s plenty of food as your guests need it. This is so important as the young ones tend to flow in & out over an evening. The chef will also plate any leftovers for the hangers-on & best of all leave your kitchen as they found it. Sometimes cleaner than they found it! You want to enjoy this party too.

3. Set up a grazing table. Whole ham & rolls, or a burger station are all popular offerings. This way there’s always food available, particularly for those boys with big appetites.

4. Set up water stations. Tubs filled with ice & water bottles are ideal. You want to make the non-alcoholic drinks easily accessible & plentiful. We often find they’ll grab a water as they head out the door which can’t be a bad thing.

5. Find an alcohol supplier that can advise you on quantity & ideally take returns if you have leftovers. We work with a wholesale supplier who will deliver your alcohol cold with ice & tubs, advise on quantity & quality all at a very competitive price.

Champagne Tub

6. Enlist the services of a professional bar person who has RSA qualifications (responsible service of alcohol). They are experienced at handling those that may have imbided a bit too heavliy. It can be awkward trying to deal with one of your child’s close friends. Leave this to the professionals.

7. Set a theme. 70s’s Disco, Favourite Fairytale, Super Heroes, Mexican, Disney Characters, Gangster, Computer Game Characters…… When you go to the effort your guests rise to the occasion too.

Party Decorations

Make things stress free & call us. We can take care of all your catering, staffing & hire needs. We have a new 21st menu that is great value at $19.00 per person. You can download it here.

Please call anytime. I’d love to help make your next 21st celebration memorable & stress free.

Wendy
GreenWithClearBackground
0403861117
wendy@acutabove.com.au

 

Thank you for joining me at the Vision nutrition workshop

It was so lovely to meet you all at the Vision “Share our Healthy Love of Food” event last week. I hope you learnt some new nutrition tips to incorporate into your everyday life.

I also hope you enjoyed our energy ball workshop. I certainly enjoyed running it and loved seeing how everyone approaches the same task in so many different ways. The variety of shapes, sizes & flavours was something to behold. Have you been inspired to experiment with your own flavours? I think my favourite are the lemon balls, lovely & refreshing.

Energy balls x 3

Any feedback you have from last week is very welcome – Have you tried the recipes? Have you found them easy to make? Other recipes you’d like? What nutritional information would you like more of? I’d love to hear your comments, which you can leave below.

I’d like to share with you our Seed Snap recipe, served on the night. This is an easy recipe and a great substitute for bread or crackers. It’s loaded with healthy fat & fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Seed snaps

Don’t forget Vision members receive 25% off a nutrition consultation until 31 July. If you have a health goal you’d like to reach or a health concern you’d like to address, I would love to help.

Share our healthy love of food & follow us on instagram or Facebook for more recipes & nutrition tips.
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Seed Snaps

A tasty gluten free alternative to bread & crackers

Ingredients

1 cup (140g) linseeds (flaxseeds)
1/2 cup (100g) chia seeds
1/2 cup (70g) sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (40g) pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup (40g) sesame seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Variations: Add any favourite spice/herb to the mix e.g. turmeric, paprika, rosemary.

Directions

 

Combine linseeds with 1 1/2 cups of water in a bowl & rest for 30 minutes.

Place remaining seeds in a bowl with salt & mix. Add linseed gel & coconut oil & mix well.

Line a 25 x 38 cm baking tray with baking paper & spread seed mix evenly. Set aside for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 160C. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven & carefully turn the whole seed snap over. Score into bite sized pieces making it easier to break apart when cooked.

Return to the oven for a further 40 minutes or until crisp. Allow to cool then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

New Winter Fingerfood Menu…

With a change of season comes our new Winter menu. Rest assured the favourites remain on the menu, many that first appeared when we started 15 years ago, we’ve simply added some delicious winter warmers.

I love experimenting with new recipes or tweaking old favourites. But they all must meet our selection criteria of being easy to eat (we don’t want any spills on pretty dresses), foolproof for our chefs to serve & delicious – of course!

One of our new items is a Lamb Shank Empanada. Filled with slow cooked  Lamb Shank spiced with Harissa & wrapped in a light, flaky pastry. It’s 2 -3 mouthfuls, lovely & filling & perfect for serving up a bit later in the night as the party kicks on. We’ll be serving these with a Chimichurri sauce, an Argentinian native, fresh & a little bit fiery. It’s a delicious combination of chilli, garlic, coriander, flat leaf parsley & oregano.

Empanadas

I first came across empanadas when travelling in South America many years ago. I instantly fell in love with these snacks. Crumbly pastry, spicy meat, & a surprise olive or two. It was the perfect backpacker food, filling & affordable! I’m instantly transported back to the streets of Chile whenever I eat an empanada. During that 9 month adventure around the world, trying new delicacies constantly, I had the crazy dream of taking the best foods from each of the countries visited & serving them in my own restaurant. What a mish mash of tastes that would have been!!! Not one of my finer marketing ideas.

Back to Sydney & the winter menu… We also have a beautiful spiced Moroccan Pumpkin Soup that we serve in shot glasses with Parmesan crisps; cute as anything Mini Beef Wellingtons & a few more surprises. You can download the winter menu here.

Pumkpinsoup (1)

If you’re thinking of a party please don’t hesitate to let us know the date as we can get booked up & I don’t want you to miss out 🙂

Feel free to call me anytime. I’d be more than happy to chat with you & advise you on all things entertaining.

Wendy

0403 861 117

 

 

Thank you for attending our energy ball workshop…

It was so lovely to meet you all at the Women Wine & Wellness event last week. I hope you enjoyed our energy ball workshop. I certainly enjoyed running it. I just love seeing how everyone approaches the same task in so many different ways. The variety of shapes, sizes & flavours of the balls was wonderful.

Energy balls x 3

I hope I’ve inspired you to experiment with your own flavours. I think my favourite is the Lemon Balls, lovely & refreshing. Any feedback you have from last week is very welcome – Did you like the recipe? Have you found it easy to make? Other recipes you’d like? I’d love to hear your comments, which you can leave below.

I’d like to share with you our Mexican Salad recipe. I’ve received lots of positive feedback on this one. It’s a great family salad that you can dress up when you’re entertaining too. You can find the recipe here.

MexicanSalad

One of the ingredients is black beans. Did you know black beans are an excellent source of protein, fibre, iron & magnesium?  In times of stress magnesium levels become quickly depleted. It’s very important to keep our intake of magnesium containing foods high as it is needed for over 600 functions in the body. Black beans are also a wonderful source of iron. Iron carries oxygen throughout the body & is so important for optimal mental & physical performance.

I’d love you to join me in the ‘Cut Above’ kitchen for a nutrition consultation. If you have a health goal you’d like to reach or a health concern you’d like to address I’d love to help.

Share our healthy love of food & follow us on instagram or Facebook for more recipes & nutrition tips.
Wendy

GreenWithClearBackground

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

Finger food for you to serve…

We offer a selection of finger foods that are easy to serve without the need for a chef on-site. Perfect for that impromptu get together or when you have a small number of guests to feed. Our finger food from the ‘Cut Above” kitchen takes the stress out of entertaining & will make you look good too 🙂

The range came about as I often had girlfriends ring in a flurry “Wend have you got any Risotto Balls I’ve got 20 family for lunch. Help!” The range is perfect when you don’t need a fully catered event. The menu includes some of our most popular items, such as the Prosciutto & Pine Nut Risotto Balls. These appeared on our first menu 15 years ago & still remain a top seller. They are a delicious mix of prosciutto, parmesan, & toasted pine nuts with a hit of lemon zest. You can also purchase the Lemon Aoili we serve with them, which really makes it all super easy.

Risotto Balls & Rose

Delivered to your door & packed with easy to follow heating instructions it will make your casual entertaining a breeze. You don’t even need to be home, we’ll leave everything safely packed in a styrofoam box.

You’ll also find our morish Dark & White Chocolate Rocky Road on the menu. Serve this as a dessert with a cheese plate & liquor, what more could you want.

DarkRockyRoadWithFlowers

You can find our self catering menu here. Then just call or email to place an order.

Entertaining at home has never looked so easy.

Wendy

 

A Cut Above Nutrition is here…

After 3 long years of study I’m now a qualified nutritionist. Yay! I actually loved the study (think I’m a bit of a nerd!) . It was very rewarding after all the years since I last studied to get that part of my brain functioning again. There were certainly initial doubts of will I be able to do this & late nights cramming plus moments where I didn’t think my brain could hold one more muscle name or vitamin function. Then there were the biochemistry lectures where I had the embarrassing knack of being able to fall asleep, even when I put myself in the front row. Not a great look.

Photo1

I’m so excited to be using all this knowledge & combining it with my love of food. My mission is to share this love & hopefully encourage others into the kitchen. I hope to help make cooking easier & more enjoyable as I strongly believe the path to good health requires you to cook. Food from the supermarket laden with chemicals & minimal nutrients is just not the way.

Photo2

We recently held a lovely delicious & nutritious dinner to celebrate. I love setting a table & thanks to Zjoosh for the beautiful tableware & glassware & Cumquatmay by MJ for the superb flowers. It all came together pretty as a picture. The menu was all nourishing food with old favourites given a healthy twist, like my mother-in-law’s pate with turmeric, & some experiments too. The raw veggie salad (recipe below) looked so pretty & was so flavoursome, definitely nutrient dense! The guilt-free Avocado Chocolate Mousse went down pretty well too.

Photo3

I’d love you to follow A Cut Above Nutrition on facebook & instagram. Here you’ll find regular delicious & nutritious recipes & health tips. Also, let me know if you’d like a nutrition consultation in the ‘Cut Above’ kitchen. I’m really enjoying developing personalised eating plans for clients & they seem to be enjoying the taste testing 🙂

Photo4
Have a wonderful week.

Share our healthy love of food.

Wendy

Wendy Middleton
0403 861 117
Nutritionist
Adv Dip Nut Med, ATMS 50532

 

 

Raw Veggie Salad with Pomegranate

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A delicious & nutrient dense salad.

Ingredients

1/4 iceberg lettuce, finely sliced
1/4 small red cabbage, finely sliced
1 large beetroot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
3 radishes, finely sliced
Handful of snow peas, finely sliced
Handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
4 tbsp mixed seeds (sunflower, pepitas, chia, sesame, flaxseed)
2 tbsp roasted cashews

Lemon dressing:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp raw honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, zest & juice
Sea salt & pepper

Directions

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar & shake well.

Add all salad ingredients to a bowl except pomegranate seeds. Toss through dressing.

Remove seeds from pomegranate by cutting pomegranate in half & hitting back of fruit over the salad bowl. The seeds & juice will release easily.

Due to popular demand….

We’ve had so many requests for our Raspberry Bombe recipe since we posted a photo on instagram recently. It’s lovely & easy to make & looks so pretty. You can play around with different versions – chocolate flakes with salted caramel sauce sounds good to me.

Raspberrry Bombe 2

Remember to follow us on instagram & facebook to keep up to date with all our latest recipes & entertaining tips.

Wendy

Raspberry Bombe

A tasty & pretty dessert that's sure to impress.

Ingredients

500g fresh or frozen raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
600ml cream
2 tsps rose water
12 medium meringues
Garnish: raspberries, pistachios, dried rose petals

Directions

Puree raspberries in a food processor. Pass the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. I do this in batches for the best result. Stir icing sugar through puree.

Whip cream until soft peaks form & stir through rose water.

Set aside one meringue to use as a garnish. Break remaining meringues into chunks & stir through cream. Gently fold 2 tbsps raspberry puree into the cream mix so you create swirls. Don’t stir too much.

Line 25cm x 11cm loaf tin with cling wrap, leaving plenty of overlap to cover the top. Spoon mixture into the tin & press down gently. Fold cling wrap over the top & freeze overnight.

Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Turn onto a platter & drizzle a small amount of raspberry puree onto the loaf, then top with pistachios, raspberries, crumbled meringue & rose petals.

Serve with remaining raspberry puree.

Serves 8

A delicious summer salad

Our Vietnamese Chicken Salad is a hit when we serve it in noodle boxes at cocktail parties. I love the combination of salty, sweet & sour with a hit of chilli. We add lots of fresh herbs that give it a flavour burst. Coriander & mint are a beautiful combo but it’s the Thai basil that really adds a unique flavour.

Vietnamese Noodle Box large

It’s a complete meal in itself, wonderful on these hot summer nights. Absolutely delicious with prawns too.

Vietnamese Platter LS

Love you to give it a go & feel free to comment below. If you’re looking for other salad ideas just click here .

Wendy

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

A delicious summer salad.

Ingredients

Dressing:
 1 chilli, chopped (remove seeds if you'd prefer less heat)
 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
 1 tbsp palm or brown sugar
 2 tbsp fish sauce
 2 tbsp lime juice
 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
 3 tbsp macadamia oil

Salad:
2 chicken breasts, poached & shredded
1/2 Chinese cabbage, sliced thinly
2 Lebanese cucumbers, julienned or sliced thinly
2 carrots, julienned or grated
Large handful mint & coriander leaves
Small handful Thai basil
Optional: Garnish with fried shallots

Directions

Dressing: Pound chilli & garlic in a mortar & pestle (or chop finely). Stir sugar & lime juice until sugar dissolved. Then add garlic, chilli & remaining ingredients.

Salad: Shake dressing & pour over chicken. Add all salad ingredients & combine.   Garnish with extra herbs. Enjoy.

Serves 6

 

My favourite salad at the moment….

I love the way a salad becomes a favourite & gets served over & over before being laid to rest when another comes along. This Mexican Salad with Black Beans, Avocado & Jalapeños is my favourite this holiday season. Why??? For a starter it looks good! We eat with our eyes first. Who doesn’t love hearing the oohs & ahhs as a dish is brought to the table.  Secondly it’s so tasty. The black beans, corn, capsicum, red onion & avocado go so well together whilst the  jalapeño gives this salad a hit of heat. I love to serve it with plain corn chips on the side to use as dippers or to crunch over the salad. A dressing of sour cream & jalapeños drizzled over the top makes this salad a winner for all the family.

MexicanSalad

Thirdly, it’s loaded with nutritients with a balance of protein, quality carbohydrate & healthy fats. By making sure you include this trio in all meals you’ll feel fuller for longer & less likely to snack between meals. I’m so passionate about this combination of delicious AND nutritious. For the last 3 years I’ve been studying & am now a qualified nutritionist. Woohoo! I can’t wait to implement so many of the things I’ve learnt into our catering.

Did you know black beans are an excellent source of protein, fibre, iron & magnesium?  In times of stress magnesium levels become quickly depleted. It’s very important to keep our intake of magnesium containing foods high as it is needed for over 300 functions in the body. Black beans are also a wonderful source of iron. Iron carries oxygen throughout the body & is so important for optimal mental & physical performance.

When buying black beans in tins try to buy organic & BPA free. Many conventional cans are lined with BPA & you don’t want this hormone disruptor leaching into your food.

We’re all hearing nowadays about the importance of including healthy fats in our diet. Avocado is a wonderful source. It’s full of monounsaturated oleic acid, the same fatty acid found in olive oil making it fantastic for heart health. Eating a healthy fat with foods containing fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K ensures maximum absorption too.

I’d love you to try this recipe.  Did I mention it’s quick & easy too 🙂

I’d also love to hear what your favourite salad is.

Happy holidays.

Wendy

Mexican Salad with Black Beans, Corn & Jalapeños

A family favourite.

 

 

Ingredients

3 corn cobs

1 red capsicum, diced

400g can black beans, rinsed & drained

1 avocado, diced

1/4 red onion, diced

1 tbsp jalapeños, diced finely

1 baby cos lettuce, shredded

1/2 cup sour cream

Tortilla chips (I like Mission brand)

Lemon or lime wedges & coriander leaves to garnish

Directions

Bring water to the boil in a saucepan & add corn. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from saucepan & allow to cool. Remove kernels from the cob.

Add all ingredients to a salad bowl, except sour cream & tortilla chips.

To make dressing add 1-2 tbsp of brine from the jar of jalapeños to sour cream. Mix & then drizzle over salad.

Garnish with tortilla chips, lemon or lime wedges & coriander leaves. Serve extra dressing alongside.

We’ve made thousands of these…..

If there was a competition for rolling rice paper rolls with your eyes closed I would be the winner!   (I just tried to work out how many of these we have made over the years & I’d say it’s more like tens of thousands).  Our 5-Spice Duck Rice Paper Rolls with Hoisin are served at most of our events. They can be tricky but I’ve ironed out all the little kinks over the years & come up with a fool proof way to make them. Below you’ll find all my tips.

duckricepaperrolls

I actually find making these very therapeutic. I set up an assembly line, this is often in the early hours as the sun rises, & start rolling, rolling, rolling. As my boys wake they sleepily gobble down one or two. I might be a bit strange but I love a production line! I find as my mind quietens it allows solutions to problems, creative ideas & lots of other things to pop up. The caterers’ form of meditation you could say.

duck-rice-paper-prep

Anyway….why make rice paper rolls? Firstly they’re nutritious. They’re a great way to combine fresh vegetables & herbs with your choice of protein, e.g. chicken, seafood, beef, duck. Add some healthy fat such as avocado or a homemade satay sauce & you have a beautifully balanced snack that will keep you satisfied. And they’re gluten free. Secondly they’re fun to make & the kids can do it themselves..yay! They’ll enjoy making their own version. Lastly they’re delicious of course 🙂

vegiericepaperpluscrudite

Below is our recipe for Satay Chicken Rice Paper Rolls, including an easy peasy way to poach chicken. The satay sauce is from a very special cooking school, The Red Bridge Cooking School in Hoi An, that I had the pleasure of attending last year. If you’d like any information on that please feel free to message me, because I could go on & on! But I hear optimal blog length is 300 words & I’m running out of them!!!

vege-rice-paper-prep-4

Ok so onto the rice paper rolls. We recently taught these at our Delicious & Nutritious cooking classes & it was so much fun. Start by laying out all your ingredients in bowls. Then dampen a tea towel with water (so the rice paper won’t stick). Fill a large bowl with warm water & add 6 rice papers. Leave for a minute until soft. The longer you leave them the more likely they are to fall apart so don’t get distracted 🙂 Place rice paper on the tea towel (you’ll fit 6). Then pat dry with a clean tea towel. Add your sauce in a strip a couple of centimetres up from the bottom of the rice paper. Place your chicken (or other protein) & julienned vegetables on top of the sauce. Then place your herb of choice (mint or coriander are my favourite)  a couple of centimetres from the top with the good side face down. Then roll once starting from the bottom, fold in the sides & continue rolling. I can feel an instagram animation coming!!

chicken-rice-paper-flowers-ss

These are perfect snacks with summer coming up. You can go simple for easy family snacks or fancy (prawns, mango & mint anyone) for sure-to-impress entertaining.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions….seriously, call the Cut Above hotline anytime. If you’d like to spread the word & share this blog with friends that would be wonderful too 🙂

Wendy

Satay Chicken Rice Paper Rolls

A delicious & nutritious snack.

Ingredients

Chicken breast
, cooked & shredded
Carrot
Lebanese Cucumber
Chinese cabbage, or iceberg lettuce
Red capsicum
Mint
Coriander
Rice Paper Rolls (my favourite brand is Rose, has a red rose on the packaging)

Satay Sauce 
½ tsp crushed garlic 
2 tbsp crunchy healthy peanut butter 
2 tbsp light soy sauce 
1 tsp brown sugar 
½ cup coconut milk
1 tsp lime juice

Directions

  • Add chicken breast to baking dish. Add shallots, lemon, parsley, kaffir lime leaves or any aromatics you have on hand. Top with water until chicken is covered. Cover with foil & cook 30 minutes at 180C.
  • Julienne cucumber & carrot, slice capsicum thinly & shred lettuce.
  • Wash herbs.

Satay Sauce

  • Place all ingredients (except lime juice) in a saucepan & stir over medium heat for a minute until all ingredients are combined.
  • Remove from heat & add lime juice.
  • Add more coconut milk if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Rice Paper Rolls

  • Soak rice paper 30-60 secs in warm water.
  • Lay on dampened tea towel & pat dry.
  • Add satay sauce, top with shredded chicken, julienned vegetables & herbs.
  • Wrap & roll.