It’s hard to believe it’s still winter here in Sydney. The weather has been just amazing with sunny blue skies and temperatures of 24 degrees! There are, however, still lots of flus and viruses going around and some crazy cold winds and even hail are apparently coming tomorrow, so it’s not summer yet! Now with this cold weather coming I don’t want to get sick and when you are around young children like I am (I teach preschool children) you need to make sure your do as much as you can to keep your immune system up and running! If I want a smooth sailing to summer too I need to do just that.
As you are probably aware (or should be!) food is the one of the first ways to affect our health and if we eat the fresh organic variety it can have a positive effect, supporting a strong immune system. It is from good quality, nutritious (preferably organic) food that we get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed for a strong constitution. So yesterday, with this in mind, I made a dish that compliments this great warm weather but still gives an immune boosting punch! Read the rest of this entry
It does seem to be all about chocolate this weekend. Must be the magnesium I’m craving! Lol! If you’re not sure what I mean read my last post here and it will explain everything! Anyway I’m going to get straight into it. This recipe is a basic raw chocolate recipe I use to make a variety of different truffles and other chocolate goodness. It comes courtesy of the New York Times Bestseller, Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfilipo, BS, NC. If you have not checked her out please do. She is a leader in the paleo-sphere! I also use my own recipe, which is nut-free too. You can find it here.
Makes 10 chocolates
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp. almond butter
3 tbsp. coconut butter
2 tbsp. raw cacao powder
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
Cacao and/or coconut for dusting truffles in
1. Combine all ingredients in a small-medium sized bowl, stirring until forms a smooth paste. It will be quite runny. Add in any of the extra ingredients you may want to use at this stage (see below for suggestions).
2. Place bowl in fridge for 20 minutes or until mixture starts to firm up enough to roll into balls or shape into rounds.
3. Shape chocolate into desired shapes and roll in cacao or coconut and return to fridge.
4. Store in fridge but take out 5 minutes before you eat them to allow them to soften slightly.
Add 3tbsp. of shredded coconut, 1 tbsp. of goji berries and 1 tbsp. of cacao nibs
Add slivered almonds and fresh raspberries.
Add 2 tsp. of mint extract for an after dinner mint chocolate.
- Chocolate Therapy (healtherella.wordpress.com)
So I am doing the city to surf tomorrow! For those of you not from Sydney this is an annual 14 km running race that starts from the CBD and ends at Bondi Beach. I am totally unprepared as I signed up only 2 weeks ago and I have never run this far in my life! I am more of a swimmer than runner. The longest distance I have run is 8km and in the past year I have gone for a run probably 5 times, 4 of which were in the last 2 weeks lol! But hey, it has been on my bucket list for years and it just felt like the right time to do it! I’m not in it to win it, just to have some fun. It’s a bit late for tips for tomorrow but if you have any please share as I plan to do the bridge run in September (thankfully this is only 9km). How do you prepare for a relatively long run?
Now you’re probably wondering what has running got to do with chocolate? Well there is one more set back. This week I hurt my calf while running and I still do not seem to be able to run. Jog maybe but not for long. So it looks like I may be walking all the way to Bondi! And no I do not mean I have been drowning my sorrows with chocolate but it has played a role in my attempt at recovery.
So how do you help calf muscles recover? My wonderful trainer at Enliven Fitness gave me some simple yet valuable advice to rectify a calf injury: rest, stretch, heat, hydration and diet. Rest means I have not run but kept it moving with my walks to work. Stretching means I have stretched it out every night and lay my calf on my lacrosse ball to really release the localised pain in my calf muscles. Heat means I have applied heat with hot baths with Epsom salts and deep heat at night. Having a bath before stretching is especially helpful too as it warms the muscles up, allowing for deeper stretches.
My trainer advised that staying Hydrated is also very important which I am doing by drinking 2.5 L of water per day with a pinch of Celtic sea salt to aid absorption and drinking fresh coconut water after training. For my diet I should be increasing my magnesium intake by taking a magnesium supplement but I have run out. I remembered though that cacao is high in magnesium, which upon researching online I found that I was right. So whoopee!!! An excuse to eat chocolate! No seriously while it does sound tempting to eat chocolate every night this is not what I did, as chocolate also contains lots of sugar! Which we all know is not good for you.
The highest level of magnesium is found in raw cacao, however on its own this is very bitter and astringent. So I thought up some simple ways to eat raw cacao but still enjoy it. All of the recipes are gluten, grain and processed sugar-free and if you omit the dairy they are vegan and paleo-friendly too.
Every morning I made a delicious hot cacao drink instead of a coffee. This was great to have with my breakfast or for morning tea and with the coconut milk it is vegan and paleo-friendly. It is so simple too:
Just heat my choice of milk (full fat dairy or coconut milk are my choices) and whisk in 1 tbsp. of raw cacao. Pour it into a milk frother, froth it up or just pour it straight into the your mug. I like it like this but if that’s too bitter, you can sweeten it with cinnamon and/or maple syrup, or honey.
Now through my research I did find that the best combination for magnesium and hydration is coconut and raw cacao, so I also made my coco-berry power smoothie for breakfast, using the cacao variation. With the coconut water this is extremely hydrating and is paleo-friendly too! For a cheeky dessert I made a simple yet delicious raw coconut chocolate mousse. This is a paleo and vegan friendly dessert, so enjoy without the guilt!
See below for recipe:
1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated over night
4 tsp. raw cacao
2 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
Raspberries, mint and/or bananas to serve
Toasted shredded coconut and/or cacao nibs and mint leaves to garnish
1. Take coconut milk out of the fridge and do not shake it. Open the can and scoop the separated coconut cream from the top into a separate jar and pour the remaining liquid into another jar.
2.Measure out 8 tbsp. of the cream into small bowl.
3. Add raw cacao and 1 tbsp. of the coconut liquid to the coconut cream and mix to combine. Add the maple syrup if you are using it (I don’t use it but for some people it is a bit too bitter without it). Add more liquid if the mousse is too dry or more cream if it is too runny.
4. Return to fridge for 1 hour.
5. Serve mousse with fruit and garnish of choice.
Mix some crushed raspberries and lime zest through the mousse.
Drizzle some raw chocolate through the cold mousse that has been in the fridge. Chunks should form throughout the mousse.
Have you ever had chicken soup when you are feeling sick? If you have, you may well have been on to something. While the idea that chicken soup cures the flu has its roots in folklore, modern research has proven that bone broths do actually help to prevent and cure infectious diseases. This can be attributed to their rich mineral content in the form of easily absorbed electrolytes and the presence of gelatin and cartilage, which both support the body with a range of functions and disease fighting properties. With the added benefit of vitamin c from the lemon, this soup is the perfect remedy for when your feeling sick, tired or rundown but also a great addition to your weekly meals to help boost your immune system and general overall health. Oh and it is super easy and tastes great too!
500 ml home-made chicken stock*
1 egg, whisked
5 leaves of kale, shredded ( keep the stems in but you can remove them by slicing each side of the leaves off)
Handful of shredded chicken meat (optional)
1 lemon, 1/2 juiced and the other cut into wedges
1/2 small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Heat chicken stock in a medium sized saucepan and bring to simmer. Add kale and bring back to the simmer.
2. Whisk in egg and simmer until egg is cooked through, continuing to whisk so the egg breaks up through the soup.
3. Add chicken (optional), lemon juice and stir to combine. Bring back to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with parsley.
4. Serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.
* It is very important to use a real homemade stock for this recipe. This means making one yourself or buying one from a reputable source. Please don’t use one from the supermarket as all the nourishing qualities of a home-made bone broth will be reduced dramatically if not lost all together. If you live in Sydney Australia you can buy great home-made stock from here, which is where I buy mine from when I don’t have time to make it myself.
Want to make it a bit more substantial? Serve with some crusty bread and butter or add a handful of cooked rice to the soup before serving.
Sung Choi Bao is a classic Chinese starter that I love because it is so simple and delicious and super easy for a gluten and grain free meal. This recipe is my own paleo interpretation and has the added magic of my toasted spiced brazil nuts. They are like ‘sloppy-joes’ or sandwich wraps but with more nourishing deliciousness. In fact this recipe has become a weekly staple in my kitchen and is a great crowd pleaser for parties. It really is absolutely scrumptious. The best thing about eating Sung Choi Bao though is getting to use your hands! You can serve it as a starter already assembled but my favourite way to eat it is as a main meal with bowls of each layer on the table for everyone to assemble. Because let’s be honest, there really is something quite seductive about eating with your hands, don’t you think?
Serves 4-5 for a main course
750 g Chicken mince
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. of coconut oil for frying
1 carrot, finely diced
1 cob of corn, kernels removed (replace with 3/4 cup of green peas to make it Paleo) and blanched
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 handfuls of green beans, ends removed, blanched and chopped into small pieces.
a dash of fish sauce
1 cup of brazil nuts, chopped into small pieces
1/4 tsp. chilli powder
1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
large pinch of Celtic sea salt
2 limes or lemons, 1 juiced and the other cut into wedges to serve ( lime is best but lemon will be work too)
iceberg or cos lettuce, leaves washed and removed.
1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in large frying pan and add the shallots. Fry on medium heat until soft then add chicken mince. Turn heat up and stir fry until chicken is cooked and going brown. Add all the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or until they are cooked through. Add fish sauce and stir fry for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and finish with juice of 1/2 lime/lemon. Add more lime/lemon to taste if needed. Scoop mince into a serving dish.
2. Heat remaining oil in small frying pan. Add nuts and fry on medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring so they brown easily. Add chilli and five spice and stir to coat the nuts. Add salt and continue to cook until brown. Remove from heat and place in a small serving bowl.
3. Place lettuce leaves on a platter. Bring mince, nuts and lettuce to the table and tell everyone to get their hands in and make some! The way you eat it is scoop a small amount of the mince into a lettuce leaf and top with nuts. You can squeeze some extra lime/lemon on too if you like. Then just wrap it up in the lettuce and enjoy!
I am on day 1 of the 21 day sugar detox today so it is quite ironic that I am posting this recipe. However, I didn’t want to keep it from you any longer as it is a delicious dessert! This may be more suitable for the hot months so if you’re in the northern hemisphere this is for you but it is yummy enough to eat now, even if you’re in the rainy, grey and cold Sydney, Australia like me!
I made this dessert a few months ago because I wanted something sweet that was still full of goodness and vitality. I love a decadent dessert every now and then but I know I often regret it as most desserts are loaded with processed sugar, dairy and/or wheat, which leave me feeling bloated and irritable for a few days afterwards. It is great to be able have a treat that is decadent and delicious but still nourishes your body, which this dessert provides. It is truly heaven on a plate AND it is a 100% clean Paleo treat. No dairy, processed sugar, gluten or grains in this frozen rectangle of deliciousness!
For the mousse:
2 medium sized avocados, flesh removed
1/3 cup raw cacao + 3-4 tbsp. extra to taste
5 fresh medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut milk + a little extra if needed.
1 pinch of Celtic sea salt
For the strawberry compote:
1 punnet strawberries
2 tbsp. of water
1 tbsp. of maple syrup
1. Line a metal loaf tin with plastic wrap, using enough to have the plastic hanging over the edges (you will fold these over the top of the mouse latter).
2.Place avocados into a food processor and pulse to puree.
3. Add cacao, dates, vanilla, salt and maple syrup, 1/2 of the coconut milk and pulse on high to combine. Turn it off, taste it and look to see if it needs more coconut milk. Avocado size, your taste and climate all play a part in how much coconut milk is needed. You don’t want it to get too runny or be too thick and dry so use your own judgement if you feel you need more or less of it. You want it to by a light and fluffy mousse like consistency. If it needs more coconut milk, turn on the food processor again and while it is running pour in the remaining coconut milk and any extra if needed. If you like it sweeter adjust the sweetness with extra maple syrup.
4. Pour the mousse into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top down then cover with the excess plastic from the edges to make it an even shape.
5. Place in the freezer for 4 hours or until frozen. Over night is best.
6. Just before serving, place all the ingredients for the strawberries into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer on low heat. If liquid evaporates add another tbsp. of water. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes until strawberries heated through and you have some syrup at the bottom of the saucepan. Set aside while you prepare the frozen mousse.
7. Take the parfait out of the freezer and turn out of the tin. You may need to pour some warm water on the bottom of the tin to help it come out. Remove the plastic and working quickly slice the frozen mousse into 2 centimetre sized slices. Place one slice per plate and serve topped with strawberry compote and a drizzle of the compote syrup.
If you’re looking for a treat for mother’s day. These hit the spot. Super decadent chocolatey goodness but no processed sugar or lecithin in sight! They are also vegan and Paleo friendly. I have given you the basic recipe which you can use to play around with different flavours or you could just make the almond butter cups (pictured). I have a few other variations that I’m working on, which I will add as I make sure the recipes are blog worthy. Some possibilities are raspberry coconut and cacao rocky road, walnut butter cups, pistachio and mint or just the all time favourite coconut rough! Would love to know if you try any of them or if you make up your own creations! Let me know how you go!
Basic Chocolate Recipe
Makes about 12 mini sized chocolates and 1 portion of chocolate for the other variations.
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw cacao
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 – 4 tbsp. coconut nectar
1. Combine raw cacao, vanilla, coconut oil and coconut nectar in a small bowl and mix to combine until no lumps. Add coconut butter and mash together with a fork until forms a paste.
2. Pour mixture into mini or medium silicon/paper cupcake moulds (or if you have them, use chocolate moulds) and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
3. To serve take out of their wrappers/moulds and place on a platter. Nice with a warm chai or coffee or a glass of full bodied red wine.
Almond Butter Cups
1 portion of basic chocolate
3 tbsp. almond butter
1 tbsp. coconut oil
small pinch of Celtic sea salt
1. Divide half of the chocolate mixture between your chosen moulds. Make sure it covers the base adequately. If it is too thin the chocolate may break after it is set. Place in fridge to set.
2. In a small bowl mix almond butter coconut oil and salt together until well combined. Divide between the chocolate filled moulds, to cover the layer of chocolate. This is the middle layer that will be the filling.
2. Pour remaining chocolate mixture over the almond paste and return to the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
More Variations being tested, so watch this space!..
- Apricot and Coconut Bliss Balls (healtherella.wordpress.com)
If you follow me on instagram, you would have seen some experimenting going on in my kitchen last night. I was working on a healthier version of the sweet potato chocolate truffles I made earlier this year. The older version was a a bit of a cheat as it used chocolate, which had processed sugar and some milk solids in it. They were delicious and I don’t mind eating chocolate as a treat but I wanted to challenge myself to make a true vegan and paleo version. I guess just to see if I could but also, of course, for the health benefits. I didn’t use any recipes so this was a true experiment! You can use the ganache` mixture to make truffles or as icing for a cake, like my paleo chocolate cake. For this deliouse ganache` I used cacao butter, cocoa, dates, coconut flour and sweet potato and boy are the truffles made from it delicious! A great addition to the end of a meal or to accompany a coffee, tea or a nice glass of full-bodied red wine. I hope you enjoy them.
1 medium sweet potato
120 g raw cacao butter
4 tbsp cocoa, plus about 1 cup extra for rolling the truffles in
3 medjool dates, roughly chopped
1 tbsp coconut flour
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Bake sweet potato whole with skin on for 30-40 minutes or until it is soft and squishy to touch. Set aside to cool enough for you to peel it.
2. Place cacao butter in glass or metal bowl set over a small pot of boiling water and melt gently. Once it is melted, whisk in the cocoa.
3. Peel the sweet potato and place the flesh in a food processor with the dates. Pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the warm cacao butter mixture and pulse to combine.
4. Pour mixture out into a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle over the coconut flour. Mix together and if using as icing on a cake spread over the cooled cake. If using for truffles, set aside for 10-15 minutes to cool and start to set.
5. To make the truffles, place the remaining cocoa on a plate for rolling the truffles in. Roll the truffles into small bite sized balls and then roll in the cocoa. Place in a container or on a plate large enough to let all the truffles sit flat. Leave covered in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.
6. Serve straight from the fridge with your chosen beverage or as a dessert plate with some bliss balls.
- Apricot and Coconut Bliss Balls (healtherella.wordpress.com)
This is a delicious combination of prawns, roasted capsicum, coriander and lime. Ceviche` usually uses raw seafood that is cured in citrus juice. However for this recipe I have used cooked prawns. Enjoy as is in a bowl or with some crisp lettuce cups to scoop it up in. You can also serve as some delicious nibbles for a party by spooning the mixture into small lettuce cups and serving on a platter with small wedges of lime. I call these prawn tacos! For those eating grains a mix of wild and brown rice goes nicely with it too.
1 kg cooked, peeled and deveined prawns (shrimp)
1 red bell pepper/capsicum
1 orange bell pepper/capsicum
1 yellow bell pepper/capsicum
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp jalapeno slices, finely chopped
1 Lebanese or continental cucumber, seeds removed and diced
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
1 shallot, finely diced
1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves and stem finely chopped, plus 2 extra tbsp of chopped leaves to serve.
4 tbsp of roasted macadamias, roughly chopped
Cos lettuce leaves removed and washed
1 cup mix of cooked brown rice and wild rice
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place capsicums (peppers) on a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, making sure they are covered. Place in oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the skin starts to bubble and comes away easily from the flesh.
2.Meanwhile chop prawns into 1/4 inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
3. When the capsicums (peppers) are ready remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Peel all the skin off, and remove the seeds. You can discard these. Chop the flesh into a small dice and add to the chopped prawns along with the cucumber and jalapenos.
4. For the dressing, combine the oil, coriander, shallot and lime juice in a jar and shake well to combine. Pour over the prawn and capsicum mixture. Mix the mixture with your hands to cover everything in the dressing and adjust the dressing as needed. Use your own judgement. You might want more lime juice or coriander. You shouldn’t need any salt as the prawns will have quite a bit in them and there is a lot of flavour from the jalapenos, lime and coriander. But if you feel you do, add it!
5. Chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. Before serving sprinkle over macadamias and some extra chopped coriander. Serve as is or with lettuce cups. If you are using rice, mix it into the ceviche` before serving.
This dessert is raw, vegan and paleo as it is based predominantly of nuts with no cheese, processed sugar or dairy in sight. The base is made with a combination of nuts and sweet dates to stick them together while the filling is made from cashew nuts blended to create a beautifully smooth paste that takes on the flavours of lime and coconut perfectly. Diets aside though, this is a truly delicious cake that has been boyfriend and kid approved, so you don’t have to save this for those following a diet. Serve it to anyone and I guarantee they will be impressed.
8 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2/3 cup walnuts (Activated* are ideal)
1/3 cup almonds (Activated are ideal)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
pinch celtic sea salt
3 cups cashews
3/4 cup coconut nectar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice ( I used 5 but this will vary according to how juicy they are)
3/4 cup coconut oil
2 fresh mangoes, flesh removed (you could also use defrosted frozen mango)
lime juice and coconut nectar, to taste
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 lime, zest finely grated
1 fresh mango, peeled and flesh thinly sliced
coconut ice cream
1. Grease and line a 25cm round springform cake tin.
2. For the base, place the walnuts, almonds and coconut in the food processor and pulse until resembles the texture of bread crumbs. Add dates and pulse until well combined. Press into the base and place in the freezer while you make the filling.
3. For the filling, wash the food processor and add all the filling ingredients. Pulse at high-speed until smooth and creamy. Pour onto the base layer and spread out evenly. Return to the freezer to set firm enough to pour over the topping.
4. In a blender, blend the mango and add the lime and coconut nectar to taste. You won’t need much so add each in small amounts until you reach the right balance of sweet and tangy. Pour over set filling layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the coconut and lime zest and return to freezer to set for at least 4 hours.
5. To serve, remove from freezer to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Use a sharp hot knife to cut slices of the cake. You can heat the knife by placing it under hot running water. Do this between each slice. Serve with fresh mango slices and small scoop of coconut ice cream.
* Activated nuts have been soaked in water over night to activate the digestive inhibitor and then dried out at a very low temperature to retain their nutrients. For this reason they are considered to be more nutritious and easier to digest. You can find them at all good health food stores.
Recipe adapted from www.taste.com.au
- Apricot and Coconut Bliss Balls (healtherella.wordpress.com)
- Vegan Mango, Lime and Coconut Cheeze Cakes (healtherella.wordpress.com)
- Mango Coconut Sorbet (marriedtomeatloaf.com)
- Vegan ‘Cream’ (healtherella.wordpress.com)
- Roasted Strawberry, Coconut and Lime Icy Pops (starttobehealthynow.wordpress.com)