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Sunday, November 18, 2012

jam dotted blueberry, banana and walnut muffins

When the post-dinner cake cravings kick in, and you've not a crumb in the kitchen, turn to muffins. Easily made with a handful of ingredients gathered from various corners in your kitchen, mixed in minutes and baked in just a touch more and, being sugar free and based on wholegrain flours, relatively good for you (well, relative to the triple triple triple chocolate fudge cake that you could be having instead!)

Jam Dotted Blueberry Banana and Walnut Muffins



Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup wholegrain spelt flour
1 cup oats
4 tbsp LSC mix (crushed linseed, sunflower and chia seeds)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground, dried ginger powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 bananas, thoroughly smooshed
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup walnuts
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup coconut oil or butter
1/3 cup coconut nectar or other similar sweetener (agave or maple syrup)
jam blobs, any flavour!

How you do this:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl - the flour, oats, LSC, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and salt. Add walnuts and blueberries and mix in gently.

In a smaller bowl, mix up the smooshed banana and almond milk and further smoosh. Add the coconut oil/butter after melting it down if needed (weather dependent!), followed by the sweetener.

Add the wet contents of the smaller bowl to a well in the centre of the larger bowl and gently fold in with a wooden spoon.

Grease a 12-muffin muffin tray with coconut oil and top up to just about the top with muffin mix.

I then did something sneaky-delicious - added a blob of jam to the top! I used St. Dalfour's sugar free jams - apricot and raspberry, and they certainly contributed a little extra something-something to the muffins!

Next, you bake your muffins for approximately 25-30 minutes, dependent on reliability of your oven. The old poke with a utensil of your choice should sort you out on how ready they are.



Like the majority of my recipes, this muffin go-to is easily adaptable to a session of mix and matching. Experiment with the contents of your pantry and fridge/freezer for seasonal combinations and do let me know of anything extremely delicious you may come up with!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

anything goes quinoa congee

I have a revolving collection of "go to" meals - stuff I make when I cant be stuffed/am too impoverished to buy new supplies and gotta use what I got, something I know will taste good without having to use three hundred ingredients and every burner on the stove, a meal that wont require me to use my brain and simply whip itself up in under half an hour whilst my mind is an autopilot.

This quinoa congee is my newest such creation, but I have a feeling that it'll stick around for a tad longer than most of the others - it's simple, delicious, healthy and you could easily mix and match any of the ingredients depending on what's getting a little floppy in the fridge.

Quinoa Congee:




Ingredients:

1 onion (I used a yellow onion)
1 tsp coconut oil/sesame oil
1 cup white quinoa
2 cups water
3 cloves of garlic, minced
thumb sized knob of ginger, minced
1 small tablespoon miso paste
1 head of broccoli, chopped tiny
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 cup shredded red cabbage
2 Tally Ho brand tempeh burgers or any pre-marinaded tempeh
plenty of sriracha sauce

How you do this:

Dice up your onion. Heat up your oil in a medium sized saucepan and add your onion until fragrant and slightly browned.

Dump your quinoa and water into the same saucepan and leave it to simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Whilst you are waiting, heat a small amount of oil (if required) in a frying pan and cook your tempeh.

When almost all the water has evaporated, add and stir through your garlic, ginger and miso until dissolved, and then add your chopped broccoli, mix it through until it is bright green but still crunchy.

Dish up the quinoa, top with the carrot, zucchini, cabbage and sliced up tempeh. Douse liberally with sriracha and eat.

So, so disgustingly easy and rewarding! You can very easily substitute most other veggies, tofu for the tempeh, and even mix up the grains and try you hand with millet, amaranth, barley, buckwheat or whatever is on hand. Add some delicious mushrooms, nuts and seeds, spring onion - the possibilities and combinations are practically endless.

Enjoy!






Tuesday, October 23, 2012

almond chia anytime parfait!

It's a common misconception that raw desserts take foooorreeeevvveeerrr and a day to create - all that overnight soaking, freezing, dehydrating and so on.

WRONG.

You can have this particular guy up and running within the hour if you so desire. Overnight soaking is optional, if that'll make it feel more legit.

This creation was dreamt up for snacky treat whilst picnic-ing with my dear friend Monique (my absolute favourite purveyor of vintage goods). We'd been bitterly disappointed earlier that day by the overly sweet 'juices' we'd accidentally purchased (kinda sorta failed to notice that soda was an ingredient within!) so these healthy parfaits, sweetened by nature's candy were much appreciated. The rather nice boost in omega-3 essential fatty acids, protein as well as the multitude of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants wasn't too shabby either.

These would also make a wonderful breakfast or dessert, and could probably stand to sit quietly in the fridge for a day or two until you are ready for them. Parfaits are also incredibly portable, simply make them up in a jar, screw on the lid and away you go to wherever your life takes you. Sure, it wont look so pretty at the other end of your journey, but they'll still taste divine.

Like most of my recipes, you can choose to include/exclude whatever you damn well please - cashews in place of almonds, strawberries instead of raspberries, peaches rather than mangos. Add some cacao to make it a chocolate pud, or some fresh ginger root to give it a kick. Go utterly wild.

Almond Chia Anytime Parfait



serves 2-3 people.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup almonds
4-5 dates
1 cup filtered water
1/4 cup coconut water
the flesh of one young coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
1 cup raspberries (fresh or defrosted frozen)
1 large, ripe mango

How you do this:

Firstly, soak your chia seeds, almonds and dates in the cup of water. Leave for approximately 0.5-1 hour.

Chuck the mess into a decent blender and the coconut flesh, coconut water, vanilla extract and maple syrup/agave. Blend on high speed for approximately two minutes. This is your pudding!

Choose 2-3 fancy glasses or jars and begin to layer berries, pudding, mango, pudding, etc until you run out. If you have some on hand, you could also add muesli or chopped nuts or cacao nibs!

Eat immediately or refrigerate for later snacking!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Raw Chocolate Chilli Torte

So just in case you were all thinking I exist on a purely smoothie-fied diet, I'm about to prove you wrong. In fact, I exist on a diet of smoothies and cake!

If only.

I'm definitely of the belief that we should be allowed to indulge once in a while; whilst I'm a sucker for big, fresh salads and superfood-packed smoothies, I go weak at the knees at the very scent of hot chips, and I have extremely fond feelings for those cupcakes which have a favourable icing to cake ratio (50:50 is preferred). However, I'm also very aware that these 'foods' do nothing favourable for me, they are bereft of the nutrients I need and I *will* feel like crap after eating them, both physically and mentally. These are 'sometimes' foods, they are very occasional treats eaten and enjoyed in moderation.

Raw treats, on the other hand, give me a bit more room to indulge. Whilst I'd hesitate to label all raw vegan treats as healthy (I'm sure most of us have experienced more than one raw cashew cheesecake binge resulting in much moaning and clutching of tummies), they're certainly a step up from the usual processed, preservative/chemical laden crap out there. I absolutely condone a couple of squares (squares, not blocks!) of raw chocolate most days or a slice of raw cake once or twice a week as a way of treating ourselves and indulging any rampant sweet tooths.

Packed with organic wholefoods such as nuts, cacao, coconut butter and dates, I made this chocolate chilli torte for a friend's Mexi-themed dinner last night. One generous, fudgy slice was more than enough to sate everyone's dessert stomach (you know, the one next to the savoury stomach? And yes, I do have a science degree).

As with most raw treats, and the soaking and refrigeration that goes with their preparation, you'll need to get this started approximately 36 hours before you'll need it. Very little work is required of you except for some blending and licking of spatulas, so dont let the extensive prep time scare you off!

Chocolate Chilli Torte



Ingredients:

Base:

1 cup almond meal
5 soaked dates (overnight, soaked with the cashews is fine)
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
3 tbsp agave (or maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt

Filling:

2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight (at least 8 hours) and rinsed.
2 very generous tbsp almond butter (or any other nut butter you have on hand - hazelnut would be lovely!)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil or butter
5 soaked dates
1/4 cup agave or maple syrup
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut water (from a young coconut)
The flesh of one young coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1tsp cayenne pepper (taste as you go)

How you go about it:

Base:

In a food processor or high powered blender (hello, Thermomix!) blend everything until sticky and crumbly, with no big chunks or lumps. Press the contents into a 9 inch spring-form pan evenly and put aside until you are ready to fill it.

Filling:

Once more, blend everything until smooth and creamy - this took approximately two minutes in my Thermomix. You may have to scrape down the sides now and then, but perservere until you get that wonderful, silky texture.

Place the filling into the pan and distribute evenly over the crust.

Place in the freezer for approximately 6-8 hours (or longer) and remove about 1-2 hours before serving. Decorate as you like - some coconut shavings, hazelnuts, strawberries or whatnot would look adorable!

Take somewhere public and wow everybody. Everybody.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

just like a chocolate milkshake only not gonna give you diabetes

Smoothie season has well and truly kicked in, apparently. I know this, because my first thoughts upon waking each morning are "Oh my god! Which greens shall I use? Which berries? Milky or not milky? How many superfoods can I cram in today?! Reckon I can finally get the dog and the boyfriend to partake in more than just a taste?!"

Forcing smoothies upon others aside, today I awoke with chocolate on my mind (may or may not have been associated with the two ridic divine squares of Pana Chocolate I had for dessert last night. Ridic. Divine). I have a tried and true combination when it comes to chocolate based smoothies and that is the marriage of chocolate and blueberries. These two guys go together like whoa.

Cacao-berr-hini Green Smoothie:



Ingredients:

1/2 of a frozen banana
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 heaping cup of greens - your choice (I used kale, silverbeet and bok choy)
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 scoop Sunwarrior sprouted brown rice protein
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 tbsp organic unhulled tahini (I wont be mad if you use hulled, promise)
1-1.5 cups almond milk (go crazy with soy, oat, rice or whathaveyou)

Add ins:

2 tbsp hempseeds
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 tbps cacao nibs

How it's done:

Put the first nine ingredients into a good quality blender and proceed to blend the crap out of it.

Pour into your receptacle of choice (I dig former pickle jars) about halfway. Add the flaxseeds and hempseeds. Stir rapidly with a spoon or straw. Pour in the rest of the smoothie and top with the cacao nibs. Drink up!

The reason I have started to add my hempseeds and flaxseeds POST blending is because I do not want to miss out on a single seed if I dont have to! They are too expensive and too nutritionally amazing to be gathering on the sides of my blender and being washed down the drain. In fact, I should probably start doing this with my protein powder too, seeing as it is the protein powder equivalent of Patron tequila (inappropriate comparison? Yes, perhaps). I suggest you heed my advice and do the same.

Green smoothie body shots aside, this is one delicious and nutritious powerhouse! The raw cacao involved is about as far removed as Cadbury's style schlock that you can get. Rich in antioxidant flavanoids, cacao is also a decent source of essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium - it is heart healthy and may help combat free radical damage.

Enjoy!




Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

....tastes a little like spring and also like autumn, a delicious seasonal crossover!

I've had a lovely orange wedge of organic pumpkin wedged into the corner of my crisper for nigh on two weeks now, alone and forgotten under a cluster of silverbeet. Upon discovering it, I made it feel oh-so-loved by hacking it into chunks, sliding one lot into the oven for use in salads, and steaming the other half for about 15 minutes, til smooshy and placing it back into the fridge to await its fate.

This morning that fate was met.

Post pump class, I needed to reward myself for my first ever on toes push ups (I did eight during Pump class and then four at home to show Lachie how brilliant/tough I am). This was the said reward


Pumpkin Pie Smoothie!

Ingredients:

3/4 of a cup steamed pumpkin (no skin)
6 frozen strawberries
1/2 of a frozen banana
3 big leaves of bok choy
1/2 scoop of Sunwarrior vanilla protein powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of coconut oil/butter
1 tablespoon of tahini
1 tablespoon of hempseeds
1 cup of milk of your choice (I used an almond-cashew-vanilla milk I made earlier this week)

Method:

Chuck in a blender. Blend. My thermomix did the job in about a minute.

Pour into a glass and top with cinnamon and more hemp seeds.


This was a great post-workout smoothie and a wonderful breakfast, whether you need to eat on the run or leisurely sit on the couch and share it with your dog (like I did). You can mix or match your berries and greens, and chuck in whatever other super-foods you have lying around. A good hit of protein, some lovely fats from the coconut and nuts, and the tahini, pumpkin and greens provide nice amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as your B's, vitamin C, betacarotene, calcium and potassium, amongst others.

It was also kinda pleasant to drink a NON green smoothie for once - though I do adore my glasses of emerald goodness, it is nice to mix it up sometimes (and still sneak some cheeky greens in anyway!). What are your favourite non-green smoothie recipes?







Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stinging Nettles: The Weed with Bite!



I have fond memories of a childhood summer spent in a tiny Croatian village, running through grassy fields and occasionally, and oh so painfully, encountering a patch of stinging nettles. More commonly referred to as the ‘scorpion of the weed world’*, I never would have imagined that nettles (Urtica dioica) would come to one day play such a major role in my daily diet.

Their culinary use dates back many centuries, widely used in both cooking and for medicinal purposes in Ancient Greece and Rome; today you will find nettle-based dishes everywhere, ranging from a little old grandma’s table somewhere in Eastern Europe to gourmet restaurants worldwide.

I consider nettles to be a true superfood, ranked way up on the charts with my all time favourites kale and hempseeds (more stories and recipes for another time!). When espousing their many wonderful benefits, it is hard to know where to begin – they are just so very good for you, in so many ways. Particularly rich in iron and vitamin C, nettle leaves are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, B-vitamins and betacarotene. 


Considering how irritating and stingy this little plant can be, leaving nasty and itchy red welts in its wake, it is curious to know how widely used and effective nettles can be for treating hayfever and inflammation. With a tried-and-true reputation for conquering seasonal allergies, nettle is thought to reduce the amount of histamine produced by the body when exposed to allergens, subsequently quelling dysfunctional immune responses. Additionally, nettles taken both internally and externally have been shown to provide relief from inflammation, such as that associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia and gout.

Shall I continue? The benefits of nettles also include:

  • Reducing high blood pressure, due to its diuretic activity.
  • Pain reduction in conditions associated with inflammation (directly associated with its anti-inflammatory actions).
  • Healthy skin, hair and nails when consumed or used topically. Useful in acne and eczema.
  • As a female tonic, particularly effective in conditions of heavy bleeding and used to stimulate breast milk production.
  • Also as a male tonic, boosting vitality and energy.
  • A powerful antioxidant, effectively inhibiting nasty free-radical activity and reducing the load carried by the liver and other channels of elimination.
  • Antimicrobial activity, both orally and topically.
  • Antiulcer activity.
  • Beneficial in benign prostatic hyperplasia due to the ability to reduce the activity of hormones which directly contribute to this condition.

Convinced yet? Now, all we need to do is get your (gloved!) hands on some, because, unlike some of our more ‘conventional’ superfoods, nettles aren’t really something you can pick up from your local organic grocer (though, if you find one, let me know!).

If you can gain access to some seeds, nettles will grow with wild abandon most anywhere you plant them. They need to be controlled to a certain degree, as they will happily take over your backyard if given free reign! If you must have them immediately, a wander in most paddocks or unkempt backyards should produce an abundance for wild-crafting – just be sure they have not been exposed to pesticides, herbicides or other nasty environmental pollutants.

When you’ve found yourself a healthy crop, approach with extreme caution! Wear rubber gloves to protect against the sting (though the younger plants should be sting-free), and pick what you need from the top of the stalk. The best time to harvest nettles is during the springtime, before flowering, when they are thought to be at their peak nutritive state.

So now you’ve got your nettles, what to do with them? With their irrefutably earthy and ‘green’ flavour, these are a joy to use in cooking, incorporated wherever you may use spinach, or kale – pasta, pesto, risotto, soups; the options are neverending! You’ll be thankful to know that upon cooking or juicing this little wonder, its spiky little stingers are destroyed, a blessing for your tongue!

Nettles can also be purchased dried, or dried at home. Drying nettles allows you to make yourself regular nettle tea or infusions. Infusions are made by adding about 500ml of boiling water to a loose cupful of dried herbs (I use an old, glass pickle jar!). Screw on a tight lid, and leave the herbs to infuse for anywhere between 4-10 hours. Leaving them overnight is perfect. The next morning, strain the plant material, squeeze well, and enjoy! Reheat if you wish, or serve as an iced tea with a squeeze of lemon. Any leftovers can be used as a hair tonic or to water your plants! Drinking 2-4 cups a day is usual.

My own nettle and calendula infusion


Stay tuned for a series of delicious and nourishing recipes involving nettles! Coming soon! 

*by myself.

If you'd like to incorporate large quantities or high doses of nettles into your therapeutic plan, please consult with your naturopath or herbalist. 



Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mandarin, Polenta and Whatever-Nuts-You-Got Cake.

My kitchen is currently being overwhelmed by an abundance of organic, home grown mandarins (thanks mum!), with several other rooms in the house scattered with pockets of mandarin peel. Yet, eat as I might, I cant get through the suckers!

Exhibit A: Too many mandarins. 



A desperate plea for help collected suggestions varying from jams, marmalades and chutneys to cakes and slices. Cake is always good, so I decided that would be my initial modus operandi to chip away at my never-ending mandarin stash.

A preliminary google search produced the following recipe, decidedly vegan unfriendly, I resolved to see what I could do using whatever I already had at home.

Mandarin, Polenta and Whatever-Nuts (and seeds) -You-Got Cake.

Ingredients:

6 small mandarins
1 cup polenta
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
115g coconut oil/butter
85g nuttelex (or other vegan friendly margarine)
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup grated coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 block silken tofu (maybe 50g worth?)
3 tbs ground flaxseeds


Method:

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.

In a medium sized saucepan, cover the mandarins (skin on) with water and set to boil on high heat. When boiled discard the water (you could leave it to cool and use to water house plants) and repeat the process three more times. Cool the mandarins to room temperature. If short on time, place in a bowl of cold water and place in the fridge or freezer (halve them first).

Meanwhile, process the nut mix to a fine, flour-like texture. Place in a mixing bowl along with the spelt flour, polenta, salt and baking powder.

In another bowl, use electric beaters or super strength to cream the (softened) coconut butter, nuttelex and sugars. Add the vanilla at some point.

Mix the wet and the dry ingredients together.

Place the tofu and flaxmeal in a blender/food processor and get it liquidy. Add the mandarins and pulse for a few seconds (you want it a little chunky).

Add to what you've already got and combine well. Pour into a baking paper lined/greased cake tin (I use coconut oil spray for all my greasing needs) and place in the oven. The recipe I used says it takes about an hour, but it took my oven close to two! I do, however, have bad oven luck.

Leave to sit out for maybe 10-15 minutes (as long as you can handle) before serving up with a scoop of vanilla icecream - I used So Good, but only because I couldn't access Cocoluscious or Coyo icecream, dammit.

Exhibit B: Finished product.



This recipe can easily be made suitable for coeliacs by substituting the spelt flour for more ground nuts or polenta. Additionally, go wild with seasonal and inexpensive citrus fruits by experimenting with tangelos, grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes as well as different nuts and seeds.