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Immune Boosting Japanese Soba Noodle Salad

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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

Basic Raw Chocolate Recipe

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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.

Recipe

Makes 10 chocolates

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Variations

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

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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:

hot cacao

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:

 mousse

Serves 2

Ingredients
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

Method

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.

Variations

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.

Chicken Sung Choi Bao

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?

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Recipe

Serves 4-5 for a main course

Ingredients

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.

Method

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!

Bitter-Sweet Vegan Chocolate Truffles

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.

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Recipe

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Prawn Ceviche`

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.

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Recipe

Ingredients

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

Dressing

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.

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

Method

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.

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Sweet Potato ChocolateTruffles

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These truffles use the sweet potato chocolate ganache` in my previous recipe, with a few little changes to the ingredients. They make a great addition to any afternoon tea platter or a little after dinner sweetie. Wrap them up in a little foil and they are also a good pick-me-up to take to work! I am working on a paleo friendly version. I will keep you posted on my progress! In the meantime enjoy this version. Which may be a cheat but are super delicious for a little treat!

You can now find the recipe for the paleo and vegan version here.

Ingredients

1 cup sweet potato mashed (see method in sweet potato chocolate ganache` recipe)

200 g chocolate

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp honey

3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cacao and desiccated coconut for rolling the truffle balls in.

Method

1. Gently melt chocolate in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. You don’t want the water to be touching the bowl so put in about 1 inch of water. Set aside, once melted.

2. Puree` sweet potato in a food processor until there are no lumps and it is forming a smooth paste.IMG_2617

3. Add chocolate, maple syrup, honey, vanilla and coconut oil. Blend until combined.

4. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick enough to roll into balls.

6. Roll the ganache` into small bite sized balls.

7. Roll the balls in coconut or cacao.

8. Store in fridge for at least 2 hours. Serve straight from the fridge.

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