As I sat on the train on my way into work this morning editing a photo of a scrumptious vegan burger and oohing and ahhing at its layer porn^^^^^, it occurred to me that I hadn’t uploaded a recipe in a while. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked when I saw that my last recipe post was May last year. Can someone please explain to me at which point I blinked and TEN MONTHS shot by?!
The only justification I can offer to myself is that 2016 was a heccaz year, in both insufferable (by first-world standards) and fabulous ways; My third and final year of Uni got a bit mental, and just as my motivation to study for anotherr year plummeted, my workload conveniently increased to a record high (as did the contemplation of my own existence).
Between lectures and assignment writing, I worked as many hours as possible as I saved my dollars like a mad woman, before jetting off and spending Euros with equal rigor in Italy and the Greek Isles when I should have been studying for my final exams. Sunset Aperol spritzers in Positano > 3am cramming in the Deakin Library any day…
Fortunately, I graduated last week and am officially a Nutritionist! Suffice to say there’s less Legally Blonde-style piffing of the hat with untameable excitement and pride, and more worry/future anxiety at this end. “Now the hell what…?”
I’m sure none of you noticed that I (unintentionally) took a nine-month sabbatical from the blogosphere, but if anyone did, I’m sorry for being crappy and I’m officially back to providing you with unimportant ramblings and recipes again (until I take another sabbatical to explore Central & South America later in the year, that is. Not sorry at all).
So here’s my first recipe of 2017: Vegan Roasted Veggie Burgers – no patty, just layers of sweetly roasted veggies married with nature’s butter/avo in a wholesome bun. These burgers are super fuss free and make for a perfect Friday-night-in dinner. I like to roast extra veggies to toss with salad, feta and seeds for lunch the next few days.
Roasted Veggie Burgers (vegan option)
1 medium sweet potato, sliced into chip-like strips
1/4 Kent/Jap pumpkin, cut in half width ways and sliced into 3mm-thick pieces
1 large eggplant, sliced into 5mm-thick rounds
1 large red capsicum, sliced into eighths
1/2 cup crumbled goats or Persian feta (omit for vegan version)
1 cup baby spinach or salad leaves of choice
1/4 cup each fresh basil and continental (flat leaf) parsley leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
Coconut (melted) oil or olive oil
Salt, to taste
Juice of 1/4 lemon
4 wheat free/low gluten buns of choice
Preheat oven to 200*C and line two large baking trays with baking paper
Place sweet potato on one tray in one layer, ensuring the chips are not touching if possible.
Place the pumpkin, eggplant and capsicum on the other tray. Drizzle veggies on both trays with oil of choice and sprinkle with dried oregano. Season with salt.
Place the sweet potato in the top 1/3 of the oven and the other veggies on the tray below. Bake for 35-40 mins or until the sweet potato chips are golden and cooked through, and the other veggies are tender and starting to char on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 mins.
While the veggies are roasting, place the avocado flesh in a small bowl and mash it with a fork. Add the feta (if using) and lemon juice to taste. Stir to combine.
When ready to serve, start with a large dollop of mashed avo and baby spinach/salad leaves on the bottom half of each bun, then top with the veggies, fresh herbs, an extra crumble of feta (if desired), a drizzle of olive oil and the top half of each bun. Enjoy!
I’m just gonna dive right in and say that if you love peanut butter and/or magical marriages of sweet and salty, then you absolutely must try this recipe because it is, quite frankly, simplicity at its culinary best. But before you think I’m tooting my own horn, please note that I am not taking full credit for this creation – this recipe is a replication of Ace’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls, which I’d been spending far too much money on at the F.O.G store in Richmond before I decided to try to make them myself.
I’m racking my brain for something creative to write here, but with two group assignments (kill me) looming and three weeks worth of lectures to catch up on, I think my mental efforts best be redirected. So all I’ll say is that these balls are a cheap, no bake, vegan, one bowl, ready-in-moments and virtually mess free (unless you’re a klutz like me and trip over absolutely nothing and spill 1kg of coconut flour on the floor) kind of job, plus they’re super yummy and satisfying, and you should really try them.
Oh and I’ll make and hand deliver a quadruple batch (and throw a few bear hugs and kisses in) for whoever offers to write one of my assignments for me, preferably the evaluation of statistical analysis on taste receptor gene studies (like I said, kill me).
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls
Ingredients (makes approx. 9 balls)
1 cup natural peanut butter
4tbs coconut nectar/syrup
4 tbs coconut flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 tbs activated buckinis
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, then mix with your hands, ensuring all the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Massage until the “dough” comes together.
Divide into 9 even portions, then roll into smooth balls. I rolled mine in a mixture of ground cinnamon, coconut sugar and a pinch of salt which added to the yumminess and finished them off really nicely, but this is totally optional. Place on a tray and refrigerate for an hour, or until set. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
So it’s 5pm on Easter Sunday which means two things: a) I’m in a slow cooked lamb/scalloped potato/cheesecake/rocky road/chocolate tart-induced coma and literally typing this post through one half-opened eye; and b) it’s definitely a tad late to be posting a hot cross bun recipe. That said, ‘a tad late’ is how I go about life in general, and this recipe is too good to wait until next April to post. Besides, who doesn’t love a fresh-outta-the-oven hot cross bun at any time of year? If it’s acceptable nowadays to eat HCB’s in the three months leading up to Easter, it should be acceptable to enjoy them for a few (or many) months after Easter, too.
Spelt flour has become my best baking friend over the past few years. I try not to eat too much gluten in general, but when I do it’s usually in the form of spelt or oats. Spelt is technically a sub-species of wheat and thus is not suitable for those with coeliac or severe gluten sensitivities, but it’s significantly lower in gluten than normal wheat so most people who are sensitive to wheat find that they can digest spelt better without feeling heavy and bloated. It’s also high in vitamins and minerals and has a nutty flavour that I just love. The lower level of gluten (and thus protein) in spelt means less elasticity, so baked goods turn out more dense and textural, as opposed to light and fluffy with normal wheat. Being the born carb fiend that I am, I find dense, bready textures more satisfying than fluffy textures, so this suits me perfectly. Gimme something to sink my teeth into!
These hot X babies do contain a little more sugar (coconut sugar & dried fruit) than my usual recipes, but I really wanted them to taste and feel as close to the real thing as possible. They’ve got just the right balance of sugar and spice and they’ll fill your home with the most beautiful aroma. The smell of bread baking in the oven is magic on its own – add notes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and orange, and you’re on a whole new level of heaven.
I think the key to getting these buns right is ensuring that the dough gets its full 2 hours of rising time in a warm, draught-free area. I don’t really know whether the rising time or the warm environment is more crucial, but the two together resulted in a far better bun texture than the first time I attempted this recipe when I only gave the dough 1 1/2 hours to rise in a cool kitchen.
Spelt & Chia Hot Cross Buns
Makes 9 buns.
3 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
1 tbs chia seeds
7g instant dried yeast
2 tsp dried ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried currants
Zest of 1 orange (or 1/2 if you don’t want the orange to be pronounced)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
1 cup milk of choice (I use Pureharvest Cocoquench coconut-rice milk)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbs melted coconut oil
1 tbs pure maple syrup, to glaze
40g dark chocolate of choice, for the crosses
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Line a small square cake tin (20cm x 20cm) with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, stir the milk and coconut sugar over medium-low heat until the milk is warm and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and coconut oil.
In a large bowl, combine the spelt flour, chia seeds, yeast and dried spices. Wake a well and pour in the milk mixture. Mix with a spoon until just combined, then add in the dried fruit, zest and salt. Use your hands to combine fully and form into a dough with the dried fruit and zest dispersed throughout.
Lightly flour a clean bench space or a kneading mat with a little spelt flour. Knead the dough for 7 minutes.
Oil the original mixing bowl with a little coconut oil, place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap (to trap heat in). Place a tea towel over the bowl (to keep light out). Leave in a warm, draught free space for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size (it’s imperative that the dough doubles, and I strongly recommend leaving it for the full 2 hours regardless). My house was quite cool when I was making these, so I found that the best place to leave the bowl was on a stool right in front of the heated oven.
After the dough has risen, knead for another 3 minutes. Divide the dough into 9 equal portions and roll into rough balls. Place the buns into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to stand for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Brush the buns with pure maple syrup to glaze. Allow the buns to cool before piping crosses with melted dark choc (see notes).
Serve the only way you ever should: toasted, warm, smothered with organic salted butter (or almond butter) and with your favourite cuppa. Bliss. (Please note that you may want to remove the chocolate cross before toasting the buns!)
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.
If you’re highly sensitive to fructose, adjust the amount of dried fruit to suit you tolerance levels. You could try omitting the currants and raisins using 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries, or leave the fruit out altogether if necessary.
I used normal organic dairy dark choc for the crosses because I knew it would set and photograph better, but otherwise I’d use vegan dark choc.
Make a fuss-free piping bag by spooning the melted choc into a snap-lock bag and snip the corner.
FINNNNNNNNALLY, A low fructose cold pressed juice cleanse!
Ok, I’ll admit it: until four weeks ago, I’d never done a juice cleanse before. I’ve been guzzling cold pressed juices for over three years now, and I even worked at a Melbourne cold pressed juice store famous for its cleanses enjoyed by popular Australian sportspeople, celebrities, models and social(media)ites, yet not once during my 9 months of juice-hustlin’ did I practice what I was preaching. Although it wasn’t by choice – I so badly wanted to explore this avant-garde world of juice fasting, but I couldn’t find any programs that were suitable for my temperamental, fructose malabsorbing gut. Fast-forward two years later, when KARMIC Cold Pressed, home of Melbourne’s first (to my knowledge) low fructose juice cleanses, got on my radar. I couldn’t get my mitts on one of their cleanses quick enough!
KARMIC offer five different cleanse programs, and you can choose to cleanse for either two, three, four or six days. I decided to do the ‘Yin Yang’ cleanse (the second most intense cleanse) for four days and I LOVED it. The only thing I didn’t like about my cleanse was my own timing of it; Note to self: mid-silly season, AKA when all your friends are out eating and drinking as though as apocalypse is about to strike, is not a smart idea. It would have been far wiser to do it post-silly season. Still, I managed to stick it out and boyyyyy oh boy did I reap the rewards….
Being the serial snacker that I am, the thought of consuming nothing but juice for four whole days scared the shit out of me. The idea of being hungry wasn’t the issue, as I knew the hunger pangs would subside after the first day (‘hunger’ pangs are actually just a withdrawal symptom from food, and signify that your blood and body are actually beginning to detox – your body is not actually hungry!). What worried me was the idea of not having my emotional buffer and void filler to turn to. Like many people, my response to anything and everything has always been to eat food. Happy? Food. A little down? Food. Excited/anxious? Food. Bored? Food. Drunk? FOODFOODFOODFOODFOOD.
So yes, considering how psycho-emotional eating is for me, the first day was mentally and physically testing. However by the second day, the ‘hungry’ feeling subsided as expected, and my my food-related thoughts started to lessen. By the third day, I wasn’t thinking about food unless it was in plain view, and it was so nice to not be obsessing over what I was going to eat next, counting down the minutes until my next meal. It sounds lame, but I found myself living far more in the present, reflecting on situations objectively and taking moments in, as opposed to reaching for a snack to distract myself each time I felt a little bit bored, anxious or unsure. I wasn’t relying on food to (temporarily) quell uncomfortable thoughts, and I started to feel more in control over my diet and, as a result, my life in general (which is nice because my life is chaotic. Wonderful and beautiful, but chaotic nonetheless).
I also had total clarity of thought by my third day of juicing, as opposed to sporadic ‘cloudy’ moments throughout the day, especially post-3pm. By the end of the cleanse, I was falling asleep quicker and staying asleep longer, and my stomach was visibly leaner (smell ya later, undesirable bump under my belly button!), as bloating and water retention eased off. I’m already blessed with very clear skin (probably also thanks to my water intake and mostly-clean diet ), so I didn’t notice much difference there, however the whites of my eyes became super bright and my tongue began to take on that picture-of-health-glossy-all-over-deep-pink that naturopaths rave about (an indication of a happy gut and liver!).
So, although I experienced many benefits from the four-day cleanse, the two most profound differences I discovered were:
1. I became TOTALLY in CONTROL of my snacking habits for the first time in over a year (no joke). It’s been a month since I finished the cleanse, and I’m still snacking far less (and not thinking about snacking anywhere near as much) and have definitely lost much of the extra ‘pudge’ around my belly, inner thighs and back of the arms that I was carrying due to mindless snacking. #winning 2. I’ve been digesting food with much more ease since the cleanse. I’m not saying that the cleanse has cured my fructose issues –although I do believe it has helped– because I was making huge progress all year, but I was starting to overload my digestive system with unnecessarily large portions and suffering for it, when I hadn’t been experiencing tummy upsets in months. Since the cleanse, my tummy has been much happier and back to where it was 4 months ago before I starting pigging out, and I attribute this to the fact that my digestive system was allowed to rest and restore for four whole days during the cleanse. To paint a dandy picture, I had my first WHOLE serving of plum pudding in 3 years at Christmas, not to mention wine, cranberry sauce, fig paste and a mountain of other fructose-filled trimmings and treats throughout the day, and didn’t have a single tummy upset! I’M BACK! #doublewinning
“Should I do a juice cleanse?”
Like any type of cleanse or detox, you need to have a reason and motivation/incentive for doing it, and please don’t let it be “to lose weight”, because it just doesn’t work like that. A quick google search will reveal all the physical and mental benefits of juice fasting, so I won’t repeat it all here or go into how it works (here’s a good brief but informative article), but I genuinely believe you may benefit from a juice cleanse if you:
Want to be more in control of your eating habits
Struggle to break away from emotional eating
Obsess over what you’re going to eat next and constantly think about food
Feel sluggish, fatigued, unfocused, or just a bit “off” in general
Regularly suffer from rashes, headaches, general aches and pains and bloating/cramping/gas.
Have been indulging in an overload of rich foods and alcohol and need to give your liver a rest and detox
Suffer from a food intolerance/malabsorption and haven’t been making progress lately (or if it’s gotten worse!). Your gut needs to rest and repair!
Are suffering from an injury – your body will be flooded with super nutrition and the energy your body usually spends digesting food can be better spent on healing damaged cells
Have issues ‘switching off’ and getting to sleep/staying asleep
First and foremost, I chose KARMIC Cold Pressed because their juices are very low in fructose. Not only does this make them suitable for people like myself with fructose malabsorption, but it also ensures that you’re not flooding your body with unhealthy amounts sugar. Many other cold pressed cleansing companies offer juices outrageously high in sugar which totally defeats the purpose of cleansing and hinders the detoxification process!
I also LOVE the fact that there is over 8kg of raw, unadulterated vegetables in every KARMIC Cold Pressed Juice two-Day Cleanse, meaning that there was 16kg of veg in my four-day cleanse. The juices are also 100% cold pressed, thus delivering the purest form of raw nutrients, minerals and living enzymes to promote the body’s natural detoxification and recovery process. Last but not least, the customer service was second to none – the guys at KARMIC ooze integrity and passion and are delightful to deal with. They’ll happily answer any queries or concerns you may have about cleansing if it’s your first time, as it was mine!
Let’s be honest, who are you if one of your favourite things to eat in the entire world isn’t nachos?
One thing that’s certainly booming in Melbourne at the moment is modern Mexican cuisine. Gone are the days of soggy fried taco shells bursting with MSG-laden seasoned ground beef, lack lustre guar (um, where’s my coriander?!) and cloudy fish bowls filled with sugar syrup, ghastly colour dyes and cheap tequila. Under-cheesed nachos were awesome in 2004 when we didn’t know any better, but with all these new restaurants boasting affordable and outrageously tasty menu offerings with funky interiors and vibes to boot, tacky Tex-Mex joints just aren’t cutting it anymore.
Of course, if you have an irritable tummy, you’ll more than likely be frightened of Mexican food, as Mexican is synonymous with onion, garlic and black beans. However, the list of restaurants I’ve compiled below are all ones that I’ve found to be quite accommodating. As long as you’re willing to pass up a few obvious options (I hate you, pre-made guac), it is possible to find something that’s tummy friendly, tasty AND relatively healthy on all the below menus!
Here’s a list of some of my favourite modern Mexican joints around Melbourne:
Mamasita – CBD
Touche Hombre – CBD (home of the best corn on the cob you’ll ever sink your teeth into)
The Black Toro – Glen Waverly
Fonda – CBD, Hawthorn, Richmond & Windsor
Because of all the different vegetables, herbs and spices that characterise the cuisine, Mexican is actually very easy to health-ify. Having said that, I couldn’t be bothered inventing a dehydrated corn chip, so here’s my healthy take on modern nachos, using sweet potato chips instead! Since my recipe is FODMAP/fructose conscious, it doesn’t include beans, but feel free to add them if you can eat them!
Generous sprinkle of ‘Low FODMAP Mexican Spice Mix’ (above^)
2 large sweet potatoes**, washed, peeled and sliced thinly into 3mm-thick rounds
1 packet Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa (available from the health food aisle of most leading supermarkets in Aus)
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 tin corn kernels (no added salt or sugar)
1 small handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped, to serve
3 spring onions (green part only), chopped, to serve
1 red chilli, seeds removed and sliced, to serve (optional)
Lime wedges, to serve
Preheat oven to 220*C and line 2 large trays with baking paper.
Prepare the spice mix by combining all ingredients. Set aside.
To make the sweet potato chips, spread the sliced potato in an even layer on the prepared baking trays. Spray lightly with coconut oil spray and sprinkle with the spice mix. Bake the chips for 20 minutes, then flip the chips, give another light spray of oil and another sprinkle of spices, then return to the oven for a further 15-20 mins or until the rounds are beginning to resemble chips (refer to the images). Remove form oven and set aside. You may also wish to swap the position of the trays half way through to ensure even baking.
In the meantime, prepare the Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa according to packet instructions and set aside.
Heat a little coconut oil in a frypan over medium-low heat. Sautee the capsicum, corn and a sprinkle of the spice mix until the capsicum is slightly tender and the corn kernels are beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the guac, combine all ingredients and season with sea salt.
On a large flat serving dish or board, assemble the nachos by starting with the sweet potato chips on the bottom, then piling on the quinoa, capsicum, corn and guac. Garnish with coriander, spring onions, sliced chilli, lime wedges and a light sprinkle of the spice mix.
*Avocado contains sorbitol. Monash currently recommends that people highly sensitive to polyols should stick to 1/8th.
** Sweet potato contains mannitol. Monash currently recommends that people highly sensitive to polyols should stick to 1/2 cup.
There’s only one confectionery I love more than Kinder Surprises (I still receive a giant Kinder Surprise egg every Easter from the Easter Bunny AKA mum), and that’s Twix bars. There’s something about the shortbread biscuit base, gooey caramel filling and creamy chocolate blanket combo that makes my heart sing.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you choose to look at it), I’ve been able to reduce my once several-weekly Twix consumption to a moderated treat here and there, but that doesn’t mean I stop wanting my Twix Fix several times a week.
In the past, I’ve always shied away from creating healthified sweets that called for ‘caramel’, simply because in the ever-ominous healthy dessert world, ‘caramel’ is synonymous with a heck load of dates (and therefore excess fructose). To my delight, I recently discovered how caramel-y the combination of almond butter, pure maple syrup and coconut oil is, thanks to the lovely Ashley from Blissful Basil, whose Twix bar recipe was the inspiration behind this one. I have tweaked the recipe to suit my tastes and to reduce the relative maple syrup content and FODMAP load.
You will notice that this recipe does seem a little energy dense – there’s a lot of coconut oil, almond butter and maple. But this is one of those recipes that should be treated as a treat, and that means portion control. Good news is that because it’s so decadent and rich, you only need a little piece, and therefore the recipe yields lots of serves. However stopping at one piece is difficult.
Note for those with FrucMal/IBS: although this recipe contains no excess fructose, it does contain a few FODMAPs (coconut flour and almond butter). I’ve eaten several bars in a row to test my tolerance (at least I told myself that was the purpose of the binge) and I didn’t have any upsets, but depending on your own sensitivity to these ingredients, you may need to be more careful.
Vegan “Twix” Cookie Bars
2 + 1/4 cups rolled (not instant) oats, processed in a high-powered processor until a fine flour is formed
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup + 1 tbs pure maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup almond butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cacao (more or less depending on how dark/bitter you like it)
1-2 tbs pure maple syrup
Pinch fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a tart/slice pan (approx 20cm x 30cm) with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oat flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Use a fork to poke 10 holes in the base. Bake for 18 minutes or until the colour is becoming golden. Do not wait for it to brown, as it will be overcooked and dry. Remove from the oven. It should still be a little soft and will harden as it cools. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
To make the caramel filling, place the almond butter, maple, coconut oil and salt in a saucepan and lightly whisk over medium heat until all ingredients are melted and combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temp.
Pour the caramel filling over the cooled biscuit base and freeze for 30 minutes to set the caramel.
To make the chocolate layer, place the coconut oil, cacao and maple in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the ingredients have completely melted together. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer, smoothing with the back of a spoon. Return the slice to the freezer for another 20 minutes to set the chocolate layer.
Remove the slice from the tray/pan. Transfer to a chopping board and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares or bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. It probably freezes quite well, although I’ve never needed to try it because it gets demolished so quickly in my household. If you do happen to freeze it, please let me know how it goes!
It’s bizarrely warm in Melbourne at the moment, and it’s a bit of a shock to the system. A week and a half ago I was wearing five layers and downing chicken and vegetable soup like no tomorrow in the desperate bid to warm myself up, and now, just mere days later, I’m slurping on a green smoothie on my backyard lawn, building up an unfamiliar sweat in 34 degree heat. In my bathers. Bathers! At the beginning of October!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but I feel as though us Melbournians have earned the right to be cynical – our weather is as bipolar as it gets. We’ll probably be donning our warmest coats and wooliest socks in a few days’ time. Still, if bikini weather appears to be on its way (and apparently it’s already here, thanks for the bloody warning!), then I’m not taking any chances. It’s time to remove my body’s evidence of the Nutella doughnuts and sweet potato fries that were eaten in reckless abundance over Winter. And there’s no way to get back in shape but with honest nutrition and exercise. It’s the perfect time to give my bod a little Spring clean. More green smoothies, please!
It’s impossible to commit to ice-cold green smoothies on winter mornings when your frosty body is screaming out for poachies and hot toast or banana-ry porridge, but now that the mornings are less nippy, I’m finding that I’m waking up craving them. One of the things I love most about the warmer months is that I can enjoy my greenies for brekky every morning and actually feel totally satisfied by them. I wanted to do a cleanse to whip my eating habits back into shape, give my digestive system the clean out it’s been crying out for, and to boost my energy levels before Uni exams next week. I thought a straight juice fast would be a bit too intense straight off the bat (I might do one in a few weeks after exams), so I decided to ease into it and commit to one nutrient-dense green smoothie every day until I started feeling the familiar benefits. I also came across SkinniMini, a fabulous 10-day super-cleanse formula, which I’ve been adding to my smoothies.
SkinniMini is designed to be a 10-day green smoothie super-cleanse formula, whereby you simply add 10g (about 2 tablespoons) to your daily green smoothie/smoothie bowl for 10 days. However, the ingredients are so pure and gorgeously healthy (hello chia seeds, psyllium husk, goji berry powder, ground flax seeds, maca powder, acai berry powder and spirulina) that you can use it indefinitely. Bursting with fibre, antioxidants, plant-based protein, minerals and essential vitamins, SkinniMini packs a nutritional punch and helps to boost energy levels, mood and immunity, cleans your digestive tract, strengthens hair, skin and nails and increases your fat burning potential. I’ve been using SkinniMini in my smoothies for 14 days straight now, and I’m honestly feeling great. I seem to be digesting food much easier with less tummy upsets, I’ve noticed that my night-time bloating has decreased significantly, my stomach is definitely a little leaner and flatter, my sugar cravings have eased off and I seem to be sleeping more restfully. Although you can’t actually taste the formula formula once it’s blended through the smoothie, the psyllium makes it go super smooth and thickens it up, and leaves you feeling full and super satisfied. I’m also really regular at the moment (apologies for the over-share, but for those of you who don’t always find it so easy to ‘go’, you will empathise with me here!), and I feel like my appetite has been much better regulated as a result.
SkinniMini is essentially everything-friendly, so it’s suitable for vegans, paleos and those with food intolerances/sensitivities (yup, it’s even IBS and FructMal friendly – hallelujah!). The thing I love most about this product is that it’s a wonderful combination of lots of different ingredients which I’d like to add to my smoothies all the time, but usually don’t have on hand. Buying all those ingredients individually can be very pricey, plus you’ve got the dilemma of knowing exactly how much of each you should be using to reap the benefits. And then there’s the time issue – who has the time to play around with 20 different ingredients from the fridge, freezer and pantry on a hectic weekday morning? I sure don’t. SkinniMini takes the steep cost, guesswork and effort out of making a smoothie that your body will seriously love you for, and I couldn’t recommend giving it a shot more!
The 10 Day Green Smoothie Super-Cleanse blend is available for purchase online at skinnimini.com.au, and they’re currently offering 10% off if you ‘like’ their Facebook page – get on it!
Super Cleanse Green Smoothie
2 tbs SkinniMini Green Smoothie Super Cleanse formula
1 frozen ripe banana
3 large handfuls of 2-3 different types of leafy greens (see notes)
1 stick frozen celery
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1 tbs chia seeds (for extra protein)
Method: In a high powered blender, blend all ingredients until thick and smooth, approximately 1.5 minutes. Drink immediately. Repeat each day for 10 days.
It’s very important to mix up your greens every other day, as all leafy greens contain alkaloids which can pose negative health impacts if they accumulate too much. Try alternating between spinach, kale (make sure it’s not bitter!), Chinese broccoli/choy sum, silverbeet, beetroot leaves and cos lettuce to achieve diversity.
Make sure you drink your smoothie immediately, otherwise the chia seeds and psyllium will continue to rapidly absorb moisture and you’ll be left with an unpleasantly thick and gluggy smoothie.
To kickstart your metabolism and get an even more intense detox, drink a large glass of warm lemon water water (1/2 filtered cold water and 1/2 boiling water with the juice of 1/2 lemon) half an hour before your breakfast smoothie.
In addition to the banana, you can also add other fruits such as kiwi or berries. Lime juice and fresh mint make wonderful additions, too!
“They say we should all be eating more raw foods. That’s all I needed to hear to whip up another batch of cookie dough.”
In hindsight, I can’t believe I’ve never tried to come up with a healthy choc chip cookie recipe before. It might be because when I’m really craving choc chip cookies, only a real choc chip cookie (and I’m talkin’ Mrs. Fields’ crispy-around-the-edges-n-super-chewy-n-gooey-in-the-middle) will satisfy the gnawing Cookie Monster within.
Have I ever mentioned that my 18th birthday cake was a giant double-layer Mrs Fields choc chip cookie? Probably not, because it was 5 years ago. Anyway, I was secretly elated when the ‘cake’ was cut and all my guests were too focused on their ridiculous dance moves to care for anything edible but jelly shots. Guess what 200 leftover servings of utter deliciousness meant? Weeks and weeks of cookies for me! My younger brother quickly caught on to the fact, so I hid the giant red box under my bed.
Needless to say, I’m glad my cookie-hoarding day are over.
I still love cookies and everything to do with them: cookies and cream ice cream, cookie dough, cookie dough in ice cream – you name it (it’s quite plausible that I love cookie dough more than I love actual cookies themselves).
However, if I allowed myself a cookie each and every time I felt like one, I’d be well on my way to Type II diabetes. So here’s a way to have your cookie and eat it, too!
If you’re someone who loves cookies that have a slight crispness on the outside and are soft and crumbly on the inside, then you will love this recipe. However, if you prefer those Mrs Fields-esque cookies I keep harping on about (crispy on the outside and super chewy on the inside), you might need a little more convincing. Like all healthy baking of sweets, there’s only so much you can achieve without that wonderful amalgamation of butter, sugar and flour! Still, taking into consideration that these cookies are butter free, refined flour free and refined sugar free (depending on which choc chips you use), I’m pretty darn happy with them! They’ve also won a big tick of approval from my Dad which, by his traditional-sugar-and-fat-loving standards, means a lot. I always say that if a recipe fools the boys, it’ll fool the world.
I really shouldn’t be condoning this, but I’m just saying, if you’re as terrible at the waiting game as I am, you won’t be able to go without tasting the dough. And when you do, you’ll wish you hadn’t. See the 11 cookies in the photo above? Yeah well that’s all that came out of the oven, and the original recipe should make around 16-18. Told you I love cookie dough.
The testing of this recipe wasn’t exactly seamless. Is baking ever seamless? I’m doubtful.
The first time around, I left the coconut oil to reach smoke point unattended on the stove (do not ever, ever do this) and it melted every plastic appliance in its wake as I frantically hurled it into the sink (please don’t ever do this, either). During this frazzled episode, l also forgot to refrigerate the dough before baking and the cookies turned out more like sad, dilapidated muffins than cookies – too cakey and crumbly for my liking (take note: chilling the dough is essential!). During the second attempt, I somehow managed to knock a cup of melted –and hot, but not quite smoke point-hot– coconut oil all over the kitchen bench and onto our very porous floor tiles. Mum was not impressed when she got home to discover “white fat” all over the cupboards and in the Thermomix blades. Oops.
Third time lucky, hey?
Healthy Choc Chip Cookies
1 cup oat flour (see method)
1/2 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp baking/bi-carb soda (NOT baking powder)
1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt
1 large organic egg
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tbs pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark choc chips (as dark as possible. You could also use an organic dark chocolate bar chopped into tiny chunks), plus extra.
Melt the coconut oil and set aside to cool slightly.
To make the oat flour, place approx. 90g traditional oats in a high-powered food processor and process until a fine flour forms. Using a spoon, measure out a cup of the oat flour. Be careful not to pack the flour in too tightly (hence using a spoon), or the cookies will turn out dry.
In a bowl, combine the oat flour, spelt flour, baking soda and salt.
In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk the egg, coconut oil, coconut sugar and vanilla until combined. Add to the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined.
Fold through the choc chips until just combined.
Place a large piece of plastic wrap on your bench, spoon the cookie dough onto the film (it will be quite runny) and wrap the dough up. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180’C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge and give it a feel. If it feels too firm to easily break bits off, allow it to soften at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. It’s ready to use when it’s quite firm, but bits can easily be broken off it.
Break tablespoon size bits off the dough, form into rough balls and place on the tray. Repeat until approx. 15 cookies have been formed (depending on how much dough you ate!). Press down on each cookie to flatten only slightly. Press extra choc chips into the tops of the cookies, if desired.
Place onto the middle oven rack and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges. They should still be light in the middle (the cookies in the top photo were cooked a minute too long).
Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 3 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Of course, these cookies are delicious warm, but bear in mind that they will be a little crumbly until they cool completely.
It’s no secret that I’m a breakfast person. Whether it’s eggs, smashed avo, pancakes, Acai, smoothies, quinoa/chia pudding, French toast, waffles or granola, no type of food makes me more excited than breakfast food. A few years ago, I’d have scoffed at the suggestion of eating leafy greens for breakfast. A bowl of kale and spinach for my wake up call? No thanks, I needed to be eased into my veggie intake for the day. I didn’t see fibrous leaves fitting into my precious morning meal ritual unless they were blended into microscopic particles and masked by fruit in a smoothie.
That all changed during my first visit to Byron Bay’s Bayleaf cafe, my now go-to brunch spot when I’m in town. It was around 1pm on a Saturday arvo and I’d had a big one at the Beach Hotel the night before, so I was feeling a little rusty. Given the circumstances, I’d usually go for something a little heartier like smashed avo with poachies and slow cooked ham hock *drool*, but I decided that if there was one place in the world I would channel my soul’s most inner zen, it was Byron. So I took a leap of faith and ordered the Brekky Greens. Annnnnnd I was blown away.
Here’s my take on Bayleaf Cafe’s Brekky Greens. It’s probably not as good as Bayleaf’s anyway, but let’s face it, any meal tastes better when it’s served up to you by a Xavier Rudd/Chris Hemsworth hybrid as you sway to the dreamy notes of an acoustic busker in the distance, looking out at the blue sky over one of Australia’s –and arguably the world’s– coolest seaside locations, but I reckon it tastes pretty awesome. It’s hard to believe that something so honestly healthy can be packed with so much flavour!
Although it’s called a Brekky Greens Bowl, this salad can be enjoyed any time of day. The best thing about it is that because its lightly cooked and warm, you don’t feel like you’re chowing down bland greens – it’s surprisingly hearty! Plus the textures are amazing. Feel free to chop and change this recipe up to suit your preferences; pistachios instead of almonds, quinoa instead of buckwheat, adding green beans and broccolini.
Brekky Greens with Dukkah Eggs
1-2 tsp coconut oil
3 large handfuls kale, leaves removed from stalk and torn into bite-sized pieces
3 spring onions (green part only for low FODMAP), chopped
1 large handful baby spinach
1/4 cup activated buckwheat grouts
1/2 – 1 tsp minced chilli (or 1/2 – 1 medium chilli – remove the seeds if you’re not huge on spice!)
1 small handful each fresh mint, coriander and parsley
1 organic free range egg
1 tbs roasted almonds, chopped (I just throw raw almonds under the grill for a minute or two)
1-2 tbs dukkah (available from spice markets, delis and most supermarkets)
1/4 avocado, sliced
Fill a small saucepan 2/3 of the way and bring to the boil. Reduce to low/medium and add buckwheat grouts. Cook for 10 mins or until soft but still chewy. They should not be mushy. Drain and set aside.
To soft boil the egg, Place the egg in a saucepan and cover by 1 inch with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Once the water has started boiling, reduce to a simmer (medium heat) and cook for 3 minutes for a creamy yolk or 4.5 minutes for a harder yolk. Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg and run under cold water. Peel under the water and set the egg aside.
In the meantime, heat the coconut oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Fry the spring onion and chilli for around 2 mins or until fragrant.
Add the kale and cooked buckwheat. Sauté until the kale begins to wilt, around 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and fresh herbs and cook for a further minute. Season with Himalayan sea salt.
Transfer to a serving bowl or plate. Squeeze desired amount of lemon juice over the salad. Slice the egg in half and add to the dish along with the sliced avocado, almonds and extra chilli, if desired. Sprinkle generously with dukkah and serve.
It would be ill-mannered of me to start this post without first apologising for my serious illustration of MIA over the past few months. It’s a crappy excuse I know, but life’s demands have been getting the better of me. Life before full time Uni, work commitments and several ongoing projects allowed for much more time in the kitchen, but I’ve been feeling very guilty lately so I’m going to make a huuuuuge effort to post more regularly from now on!
What better way to butter you up than with a pretty little sweet treat?
My website is definitely calling out for more quick and tasty on-the-go snack recipes, so I thought I’d go down the ‘bliss balls’ road, only these ones don’t contain dates and are almost fructose free. The coconut and almond give these balls a velvety creaminess, which is lovely with the tartness of the lemon and raspberry. They’re perfect to munch on in between meals, with a cuppa, or when those after-dinner sweet cravings strike!
Lemon & Raspberry Oat Balls
Ingredients Makes approx. 10 balls
1 cup oat flour (made from approx. 100g rolled oats – see method)
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut plus extra, to roll.
1/8 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup thawed frozen raspberries
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs rice malt syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
In a high-power processor, process the rolled oats until a fine flour forms. Around 100g oats should yield 1 cup of oat flour.
Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture is smooth and well combined. It should be very soft (they set quite hard in the fridge), but not dry or wet. Add more oat flour/coconut oil if necessary.
Roll into balls using your hands, then roll in desiccated coconut, cacao or crushed macadamias. I rolled some of mine in crushed goji berries and bee pollen, but the plain coconut ones are my fave! Allow to set in the fridge for at least an hour before eating.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.