Vietnamese

My Food Bag- Weekday Meals Made Easy at Home

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“What’s for dinner tonight?” seems like the most important question on everyone’s mind every night. Dinner ideas can be really frustrating especially when you just finished a stressful long day at work. When you finally figure out a dish you want to cook (usually the same idea: chicken and broccoli or steak with chips), then comes the chore of having to purchase the ingredients and lining up in the supermarket queue. By the time you finish unloading your groceries onto the kitchen table, you’d be ready to jump into bed. Rewind everything you just read and let’s just order seven days of take-out food for dinner. Luckily there is a solution for this and here is how: My Food Bag. Full stop!

My Food Bag was born in New Zealand in March 2013. After a huge success and support from their kiwi fans, it hopped on to a plane to Australian soil and launched in Sydney, Melbourne and soon to launch in other Australian cities. What My Food Bag offers is a selection of healthy recipes, AND EVERYTHING you need to whip up to make a 5-star dish (minus a fraction of pantry staples that you may already have at home e.g. egg, salt and or pepper).

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Food rainbow 

There are three different Food Bags to choose from to suit different households and tastebuds, unfortunately this does not include pets if you count them as family, sorry. Delivered on a Sunday so you’re all prepped for the week ahead:

  • The Family Bag, designed for a family with 2 adults and 2-3 young children ($169 for 5 people for 5 days)
  • The Classic Bag, designed for a family of 4 with 4 adults or 2 adults and 2 older children ($129 for 4 people for 3 days)
  • The Gourmet Bag, designed for two people ($149 for 2 adults for 4 days)

The first thing I noticed about My Food Bag is that they are great with communicating with their hungry customers. For instance we received an email on Friday informing us what recipes we’d be cooking the following week. I must confess all recipes for my week looked MOUTH-WATERING. On Saturday they send us a text telling us time slot for our delivery. And on Sunday it felt like Santa popped by because as promised My Food Bag-Classic arrived right on our doorstep. As we unwrapped our presents, everything seems to be top notch. The organic meat and free range chicken to spices and brown rice was meticulously labelled. Fruits, vegetables and herbs smelt ridiculously healthy. Totes give My Food Bag a HUGE TICK of APPROVAL for freshness.

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What’s in the My Food Bag Classic?

For your first delivery My Food Bag gifts you with a mini folder where you can store your deepest darkest secrets of your favourite recipe cards. All recipe cards are seasonally based and are created by their top dog Head Chef, Miguel Maestre (from Channel 10’s The Living Room), as well as Zoe Bingley-Pullin who co-host of Channel Ten’s Good Chef Bad Chef and 2011 MasterChef New Zealand winner, Nadia Lim.

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Time to unwrap the recipe bag…what’s cooking good looking.

Get ready to be rescued from starvation in your own home! What are you waiting for…keep scrolling for more healthy home cooked meals.

Day 1: SALMON WITH SALSA VERDE, SMASHED POTATOES AND SPINACH

Taste: Great start to a Monday with a fat piece of salmon that smelt like it just had been caught from the ocean before it was then pan fried. I loved how the salsa verde from The Cooking Room made the warm salad much more tastier. The downside of this dish was the salmon flavour seemed to be super strong in freshness that it didn’t blend so well with the salad. Maybe I should have marinated the fish with the salsa verde….note to self for next time.

Verdict: I was absolutely stuffed eating this dish and had half a plate of leftovers. It was a fantastic warm-up exercise to get started in the kitchen. I noticed there was vegetables on my plate and I cooked it (GASP).

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OH EM GEEE! What am I cooking?

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Salmon with salsa verde, smashed potatoes and spinch

Day 2: ZA’ATAR CRUSTED CHICKEN WITH LEBANESE FATTOUSH

Taste: This dish was pretty darn addictive. The Lebanese fattoush was enough to send me running to the nearest farm and pick up the same ingredients to make it again. I did not know mint and parsley can go so well together with salad, it tasted refreshing. The chicken was so flavoursome like it had been marinated for hours but really it was max 10 minutes, so applause to za’atar. As for the pieces of Lebanese bread I made a new batch right after demolishing this dish. So much goodness in this recipe!

Verdict: To my surprise I now know how to make a fattoush salad using herbs and learnt how to use za’atar spice with chicken thighs. Also what an excellent idea of substituting deep fried chips with baked Lebanese bread and it’s served hot. Great for winter snacks that’s just around the corner and doesn’t increase your waistline.

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Gonna make the most delicious dish on the planet! Can you guess?

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Za’atar crusted chicken with Lebanese fattoush

Being oh so childish as always and pretending to be creative in the kitchen, I thought it would be fun to make a fattoush boat. This would be great for the kids as it was served in a small portion. Do you like my work of food art?

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Nessy Eater’s fattoush boat (Please don’t judge me!)

Day 3: PORK STEAKS WITH SWEET POTATO ROSTI, MANGO SALSA AND CURRY MAYO

Taste: There was plenty of vegetable element in this dish and all ingredients married so well together even the curry mayo. Life’s too short to just have one serving. Teehee. The pork steak bathed in curry powder was beautifully paired well with the salsa and had the perfect sweet/salty balance as well as a bit of tanginess from the dressing. LIP SMACKING DELICIOUS RECIPE!

Verdict: I am gobsmacked that I made a sweet potato rosti. Never knew sweet potato can be used like that before and that’s why I never buy sweet potatoes at the supermarket, but that’s going to change from now on. Besides the rosti the salsa was screaming summer all over the plate. Not only did this dish bring happiness to my belly but it kept me dreaming about it the next day.

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I think I can smell a healthy meal coming soon…

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Look how fabulous my sweet potato rosti looks before pan frying it.

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So weird to admit I made this…

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Pork steak with sweet potato rosti, mango salsa and curry mayo

Day 4: ZOE’S LAMB, TAMARIND, PUMPKIN AND YOGHURT CURRY WITH BROWN RICE

Taste: Get punched in the mouth with Zoe’s lamb with flavours of modern India. This curry was easy to make and sang with flavour, I wish it was a never ending pot. The lamb was tasty enough with the curry and wasn’t overpowering. I may have had a bigger appetite than Zoe with this dish, so thank goodness for leftover Lebanese bread.

Verdict: The curry was seriously amazing because well I cooked it. Haha. However I failed to cook the brown rice accordingly to the recipe card, but that didn’t stop me from eating it. On a much happier note I now can make lamb curry. This pot of curry would be pretty high up on my list for winter meals. To my shock I used curry leaves, tamarind puree and Bombay curry powder for the very first time in one dish. I think I’m ready to apply for the next MasterChef.

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Need curry in a hurry? Make this!

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May need to work on cooking brown rice a little bit more…

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Zoe’s lamb, tamarind, pumpkin and yoghurt curry with brown rice

Day 5: VIETNAMESE BEEF SALAD WITH RICE NOODLES

Taste: The rice noodles was fully coated with fish sauce and there was completely no sign of lack of flavour. I quite enjoyed the slices of beef sirloin steak that combined so well with the super refreshing salad. It was very juicy and tender that it was pretty impossible to share. Pretty impressed with using Thai herbs and eating 3 vegetables. Can be easily served hot or cold because that sweet sour flavour doesn’t vanish.

Verdict: This was so easy to make that I could do this blind-folded. Most of the time spent was chopping up my vegetables into different shapes. Again I am still overwhelmed of using herbs in any of My Food Bag recipes.

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Bring on the next My Food Bag recipe!

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Vietnamese beef salad with rice noodles

Aaaand that’s a wrap up of My Food Bag Classic. I have definitely gained a lot of skills during these 5 days and instead of eating my beloved steak and fried repeatedly during the weekdays, I have now got 5 recipe cards to use. It was great that every day was a mix of vegetables and meat so it wasn’t boring at all for me to be in the kitchen. There was plenty of left over spices and herbs that can be used for other recipes you can try at home. I love the idea of having not to use my brain to plan ahead of what to eat for dinner and go to the grocery store to buy each ingredient. My Food Bag is super duper convenient for families.

Top 5 Reasons to Try My Food Bag

  1. The ingredients you pull out of the paper bags is 110% fresh, you can smell it from miles away. All My Food Bag produce is organic and free range that is straight from the farmers. There is definitely a difference to the taste when it comes to organic vs. purchasing at a supermarket.
  2. Delivered straight to your door for FREE. This means fewer trips to the shops. No need to battle the supermarket queue on weekends- I know how frustrating that can get!
  3. Don’t need to menu plan because My Food Bag has already planned 5 days of delicious recipes for you and the family.
  4. Great family activity and bonding time with kids and or loved ones.
  5. You’ll be eating healthy for dinner. There are at least 2 vegetables or greens for each recipe without you even knowing!

Final Thoughts about My Food Bag

  • Felt like a 5 star chef in the house
  • Never knew I can use spices and herbs in my own kitchen
  • Had leftovers = YUM
  • Never ate 2-4 vegetables on one plate in one night before
  • Great family activity
  • Learnt a few new tricks

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 Photos by Vanny Tang

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater received a trial of My Food Bag-Classic, thanks to Porter Novelli and My Food Bag.

Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Check out other My Food Bag post I did. Click here.

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Pho Pasteur- National Dish of Vietnam

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Popping by to window shop at Parramatta Westfield I decided to ring up my all time favorite shopping and eating buddy, Ms. Boobie Trap. It was such a relief that we came across Pho Pasteur as we were trying to avoid the shopping mall so our wallets won’t be too empty at the end of the day. Pho Pasteur , Parramatta (1) Most Vietnamese restaurants serve phở Sài Gòn with every meals that is ordered. Typically this dish is complimentary with any main dish you order. Garnished with fresh crisp ingredients like lemon wedge, chopped chili, Thai basil that has a distinctive flavour of mint and nutritious bean sprouts. Pho Pasteur , Parramatta (3) We really appreciated the generous serving of the Special Beef Noodle Soup includes beef and offal ($12.00 large) also known as phở.  The silky smooth white rice noodles kept appearing over and over again like it was non-stop. Pho is primarily served with thick slices of beef, apparently between uncooked to cooked. This depends how long you prefer to soak your juicy tender beef. For example if you want it to be fully cooked, bathe it till you cannot see any pinkish colour. They were quite heavy on decorating the bowl with white onion strips, which adds more flavours to the broth. For beef pho, the broth is cooked with beef bones, charred onions and spices. The flavour and texture of the soup was enjoyable to sip.

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For a scorching hot weather the Chè also known as Three Colour Bean Drink ($4.50) is a fun chilling dessert drink that is commonly made with yellow mung beans, kidney beans, red beans, clear agar worm strips, creamy coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk atop crushed ice. Truly a classic Vietnamese sweet beverage you’d find in almost every table. What I love about this playful drink is creating a mess within the tall glass cup. Every swirl you make with a shiny metal spoon or a plastic straw you are creating a new flavour.

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Coconut Drink ($4) has long been a trendy drink for the Vietnamese and it was our duty to order it. So so SWEET! Pho Pasteur , Parramatta (4) Even though our visit to Pho Pasteur was short and we didn’t order any other dishes, we quite liked the noodle soup due to the portion size and the flavour of the broth. And if you plan to save room for dessert but not sure if you can then the Three Colour Bean Drink is the solution. Teehee.

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Pho Pasteur on Urbanspoon

Memorable Moments in Melbourne (Part 2)

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Not surprisingly, Melbourne has so much to offer, such hype I’m surrounded by festivity, food, fashion and fun. I was blown away by a bakery store called N.Lee Bakery that I had tried, recommended by a friend of mine, who conveniently works down the road.

He mentioned the lines would be enormous and it was best to go before the lunch hour rush. Thank goodies I followed his advice. When we got there we were lucky last in the queue. One minute later *gasped* I turned around I see a line full of people behind me, coming from main streets, alley way streets and even cars. It’s quite a culture that draws attention to their delicious freshly baked crusty breads and flaky pastries.

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Their service is quick and friendly, it’s an efficient in and out service, but if you’re a person who really can’t wait then there’s a few wooden tables and chairs for you to unwind.

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Packed full of cooperate dressed people, I knew there wouldn’t be a slight chance for us to sit and eat in. So we decided to order *drums rolls* their classic Vietnamese Roll ($6.90) for take-away.

I can finally see the reason why my friend suggested this roll. I was possessed by the lot. Starting from the bread, the outer glazed layer, I had to HAD TO brush my fingers a few times on the outer layer and say my good-byes before I deconstructed it. Gently unfolding the roll, I could see the bright colours of fresh veggie ingredients of shredded carrots, few strands of coriander that perfumed the entire roll, looking innocently towards me. Tucked beneath the overcrowded veggies, a slice or two of roast pork and Vietnamese pork and drizzled fish sauce that had soaked in the warm fluffy bread.

Taking that first bite was mind-blowing. The crunchy, crispy and flavoursome feeling I had absorbed lead to me forget everyone around me and that included my friend. It got a little messy as crispy, flakey pieces of the outer layer roll kept falling as I took a bite every single time.
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After lunch I spent my precious hours wandering through the busy streets and touristy places. Constantly walking back and forth the CBD I was drawn by the electric colours on the walls at Croft Al off Payness Pl. With curiosity circulating in my mind, my body took control on its own and drifted towards the rusty alley way.

I was influenced by the artistic walls that was graffitied along the entire alley way. I was a little concerned whether to continue walking or do a u turn as I was by myself, so I suggest bring a friend or a bunch of friends to share the electrifying experience.
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The night ended with the craziest Korean Fried Chicken aka KFC at Gami for dinner.

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Move over Arisun! Gami has taken over your crown and introduced the most mouth-watering, lip smacking and finger licking experience one can never imagine with fried Chicken. I was amused by the constant cries and facial expressions of my friends thinking they were constipating, but really they were just enjoying that chicken.

We ordered Half Original Fried Chicken ($16)

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We also ordered a jug of Gami house bitter [Brunswick Bitter] ($14.50) which came with a bowl of side dishes, sweet and sour radish and prawn crackers. This would be great if soccer was on!

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Cheese, yes please! Corn Cheese ($9) enveloped so well together with the sweet sweet corn drenched in mayo and stretchy baked cheese becomes pretty addictive!

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For the LOVE of CHEEESSSSSSSE….

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It was such a bummer the Seafood & spring onion pancake($13) turned out to be a disappointment. At first I questioned if we ordered this as it was served to our table. I must be seafood blind as I couldn’t see any…Maybe call it spring onion pancake next time. There was plenty of spring onions in this pancake of ours.

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To avoid disappointment make a booking before heading there! Otherwise you’d be only watching others eat that juicy chicken.

N.Lee Bakery on Urbanspoon

Gami at Lt Lonsdale on Urbanspoon