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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

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.

Vegan Lime and Mango Cheeze Cake

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.

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Recipe

Ingredients

Base

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

Filling

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

Topping

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

To serve

1 fresh mango, peeled and flesh thinly sliced

coconut ice cream

Method

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

This recipe comes straight from the cookbook “wholefood for children” by the amazing wholefood chef Jude Blereau. This is a regular creation in my kitchen so I just had to share it with you. I’ve renamed them because they are absolutely bliss! But the recipe is exactly the same a Jude’s. These bliss balls are best eaten nice and cold and are a great afternoon pick-me-up or a nice addition to a sweets plate for a party. I usually make a combined tasting plate of these with my paleo chocolate cake and sweet ‘chocato’ truffles. The only sugar in these balls of bliss come from the dates and apricots, and the fat from the coconut fills you up and gives you slow released energy too so you don’t get that crash like you would from a processed sweet. Dates and apricots also provide you with a variety of vitamins and minerals and are a good source of fibre all of which you would not get from a candy or a chocolate bar. So if you are going to have a sweet treat try these little balls of bliss!

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Recipe

Ingredients

95 g dried apricots (preferably sulphur-free), roughly chopped

55 g dates, pitted and roughly chopped

185 gr coconut butter* (spread)

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted, if required

25 g desiccated coconut

Method

1. Process the apricots in the food processor until they are finely chopped and beginning to come together.

2. Add the dates and coconut butter and process until combined.

3. Scrape down the sides, if needed and continue to pulse again. If the mixture does not come together, add the coconut oil and pulse again.

4. Roll mixture into small balls and then roll them in the coconut and place on plate.

5. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

6. The balls will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

*Coconut butter is the coconut flesh ground into a paste. It is also sometimes called coconut manna. Do not mistake coconut oil for the coconut butter you need for this recipe, as some coconut oils call themselves ‘butter’. You must use the true coconut butter made with the whole flesh in this recipe, otherwise the balls will fall apart. So make sure you check the ingredients that it is made with the whole coconut flesh.

Bitter Sweet Sicilian Salad

Bitter Sweet Sicilian Salad

I love the combination of orange, fennel and onion in this salad which often take people by surprise, especially when they find how good they taste together. I adapted the recipe from a classic salad I used to eat when I lived in Sicily on student exchange. My year in Sicily was an amazing experience that has influenced my cooking and has stayed with me even after 17 years has passed.  Food in Italy is a strong tradition that is a respected and celebrate part of home life. It is generally not outsourced to food chains or takeaway restaurants. The best food I ate there was in the home and believe me it was like eating at a high quality restaurant! It was ALWAYS handmade from scratch. No boxes or jars of meals there! For birthdays and christenings the women would gather together and make fresh pasta, gnocchi or pizza from scratch and for the staples, every year my family would buy the over ripe tomatoes from the passing vendor in his truck and cook up their years supply of ‘salsa rossa’ (red sauce) and they would send in their olives from their patch of land to be pressed into olive oil. Bread was also always crusty and warm, bought fresh from the baker every day. There were barely any supermarkets, as everyone shopped from the small green grocer, baker, butcher or convenience store. While of course it was not paleo or grain free, it was fresh and hand-made. No industry was involved only the home or small business so there were no need for preservatives and the life force was still in the food.

I was in Sicily a couple of years ago and I am pleased to say these traditions were still being followed, although there were some large supermarkets creeping in. I know these days I wouldn’t eat the fresh bread, pizza or pasta but I still firmly believe in this respect for food and the need for it be fresh and as close to nature as possible.

This salad respects these principles as it is fresh and simple to make with no grains in sight. It is great as an appetizer, as a side dish to roast chicken, pan-fried salmon or veal schnitzel or as a light meal with some avocado and shredded chicken or tinned tuna. I’d be interested in knowing how you find the flavours or maybe you have your own combination of fruit in a savoury dish? As always you can leave a comment in the comments section below.

In good health. xx

Recipe

Ingredients

3 navel oranges, segmented and juice squeezed from pulp into a bowl

200g baby english spinach, washed and dried

2 small bulbs of fennel, cut in half, core removed and thinly sliced

1 white onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Red wine vinegar

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

Celtic Sea Salt to taste

Method

1. Combine orange segments, orange juice and onion in a bowl and leave for 10 minutes. You want the onion to soak in th juice to take some of the strong onion taste away.

2. Combine spinach and fennel in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

3. Just before serving pour onion and orange mixture over the spinach and fennel and toss to combine.

4. Pour oil over salad and toss to combine.

5. Pour the vinegar over the salad and a sprinkle of salt and toss to combine.

6. Serve immediately

Mayonnaise

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You can put the knife down for this recipe! All you need is a bowl, a whisk and some elbow grease. In fact, Mayonnaise is so simple and easy to make that once you’ve made it yourself you’ll wonder why you ever bought it from a shop. It only has 5 ingredients and if your careful with combining the oil into the egg yolks you’ll have a beautiful creamy mayo in no time at all. It also tastes delicious and of course has the nourishing nutrients filling fats of fresh egg yolks and olive oil and no sugar or preservatives that often come in the jars on supermarket shelves. Spread it in your favourite lettuce wrap or on some sprouted bread with tomato, use it as a dip for some vege-sticks put a dollop with some sweet potato chips or add some extra flavours and serve with some freshly baked fish. The perfect condiment for a healthy wholefood/paleo meal or snack!

RECIPE

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

260 ml olive oil (or you can use grape seed oil which will have a milder taste)

1 – 2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Pinch of celtic sea salt to taste

Method

1. Combine the yolks and oil, using a hand whisk or blender/food processor. You need to take care with this part, so take it slowly to make sure the oil and egg yolk emulsify and do not split.

– To hand whisk:

a) Place egg yolks in a metal or glass bowl and whisk to break up.

b) Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking with the other hand. You will need to stop pouring the olive oil at times to ensure it is incorporated into the egg yolk. Make sure you whisk very fast and thoroughly so as to ensure the yolks and oil emulsify and don’t split.

– To use a blender/food processor:

a) Add yolks to the blender/processor and blend at low-speed.

b) Slowly drizzle in oil and keep blending until smooth and emulsified.

2. Once all oil is incorporated, add mustard, salt and lemon to taste. Whisk to combine and adjust seasoning as needed.

3. Store in refrigerator and use as needed.

Should keep for 10 days in an airtight container.

Variations

Make garlic aioli by adding 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Make tartare sauce by adding 2 tbsp chopped capers, 2 tbsp chopped baby cornichons, 1 chopped eschallot and 1 clove of garlic, crushed.

Coco-Berry Power Smoothie

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Do you like smoothies? I love them because they are a quick and delicious way to eat a nutritious breakfast. However you are much better off making them at home as the smoothies you buy from certain chains use sorbet and fat-free yoghurt that are full of sugar and most likely preservatives too.

Making smoothies at home is quick and easy and the ingredients are fresh, which is always the best! You are really only limited by your imagination and bravery for how many variations you can create. For some of you this recipe may require a bit of the latter as it does have raw eggs in it. Now I am not a fan of that ‘eggy’ taste (I don’t even like runny eggs) so I too needed some bravery to try this for the first time but you can’t really taste the egg and now I am hooked. The protein and fats from adding eggs and coconut oil keep you full for much longer than a regular fruit or green smoothie. If you are unsure start with 1 egg and progress to 2 when you’re ready. The reason I put raw eggs and coconut oil in it is because, as my trainer has advised me, it provides the perfect combination of protein and good fats that will be quickly digested to aid muscle recovery and help you power on through your morning. To reap these benefits though you need to drink it within 30 minutes of finishing your workout so prepare it at home and take it with you if you live or work far from your gym. Happy blending and let me know how you go with the additions of eggs! Or if you have your own variations I would love to know about it!

Recipe

Serving: 1 1/2 – 2 tall glasses depending on how much liquid is in your coconut.

IngredientsIMG_2070

2 eggs

1 young coconut, opened

1/3 cup frozen blueberries

1/3 cup frozen raspberries

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp ground linseed meal (also known as ground flax-seed)

Equipment

1 blender (high-speed is best)

1 tall glass for serving

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Method

1. Pour coconut water into blender

2.Scoop out 1/2 of the coconut flesh into the blender and add every other ingredient

3. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until all ingredients as blended well and smooth.

4. Pour into a tall glass and serve.

Variations
You can also add 1 tbsp of raw cacao or try 3/4 frozen banana and 1large handful of lightly sautéed english spinach
.

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