My KARMIC Cold Pressed Juice Cleanse: a raw review

FINNNNNNNNALLY,
A low fructose cold pressed juice cleanse!

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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!).

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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

“Why KARMIC?”

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!

Happy Juicin’! 
Ax

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Christmas in a mouthful: Gingerbread Granola (low FODMAP & refined sugar free )

Yep, I’m one of those people…

One of those people who still, even at 22 years of age, puts milk, cookies and carrots out for Santa and his reindeer and wakes up to an overflowing human-size stocking on Christmas Morning. For me, tinsel-adorned traffic lights signify that it’s time to start blasting Michael Buble’s 2011 Christmas album in my car, and that CD doesn’t come off rotation until mid-January. I find excuses to go driving late at night just so I can “ooh” and “ahh” at the fairy light exhibitions in Melbourne’s backstreets. Even the tackiest light displays send ripples of sweet nostalgia through me.

Maintaining our childhood Christmas fantasies, even when we’re far too old to do so, is kind of a big deal to my family. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year…

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How could I not be at ease with the world when the most wonderful day of the year is only one shy week away, the early Summer sun is shining outside, I’ve just spent the afternoon decorating the tree and wrapping presents, and my oven is exhaling the most delightful notes of ginger, cinnamon and maple?

My home has been diffused with the smell of freshly baked sugar cookies and gingerbread, except it’s not sugar cookies, nor is it gingerbread; It’s my Gingerbread Granola. And it’s a winner. I’ve already eaten a third of the tray, it’s that good (oops).

Slightly sweet and slightly spicy, this Gingerbread Granola recipe is a gorgeous marriage of cinnamon, ginger, pecans and coconut. It’s sweetened just enough with maple syrup, and subtle pops of lemon and dried cranberries bring all the flavours together. Like any good granola should, it offers that perfect crunch and crispiness before it melts in your mouth.

Gingerbread for breakfast? YES PLEASE!

However you use this granola is entirely up to you; pair a generous handful with your favourite nut milk and berries for a wholesome fuss-free brekky, sprinkle it over smoothie bowls, banana ‘ice cream’, or whiz it through smoothies to amp up their flavour, thickness and nutritional content. It’s also great to snack on as is, but try to portion it out so that you don’t go overboard (If only I could take my own advice – hopefully you’ve got a little more self-discipline than I do!)

For something a bit spesh, try layering the granola with stewed oranges or other fruit and your favourite yoghurt (coconut or full fat) in individual glasses  – the perfect Christmas Parfait for brunch entertaining! I can’t wait to serve these to my family on Christmas Morning while we rummage through our stockings…

And if you’ve really got your loved ones in mind, make lovely homemade gifts by filling up jam jars with the granola and tying festive ribbon and gift tags on them. Everyone loves homemade edible treats! I also added gingerbread babies (as pictured, available at Coles) to the jars for an extra gingerbread-y touch – not exactly clean, but hey, it’s CHRISTMAS!

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Slightly sweet and slightly spicy, this Gingerbread Granola recipe is a gorgeous marriage of cinnamon, ginger, pecans and coconut. It’s sweetened just enough with maple syrup, and subtle pops of lemon and dried cranberries bring all the flavours together. As any good granola should, it offers that perfect crunch and crispiness before it melts in your mouth.

This recipe is very forgiving, so feel free to mix it up. So long as you’re mindful of dry to wet ratios, you can pretty much throw in whatever you’ve got on hand!

Gingerbread Granola

Dietary info: Vegan, wheat free, dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free (see notes), low FODMAP (lessen nut & coconut quantities to further reduce FODMAPs), fructose-friendly (omit dried cranberries to lessen fructose load). For a gluten free version, simply replace the rolled oats with a mix of other suitable cereals, such as activated buckinis, puffed quinoa, puffed corn, rice flakes or more rice crisps. For a grain free version, replace most of the oats and rice crisps with buckinis and increase the nut, seed & dried coconut content (if FODMAPs are not an issue for you).

Ingredients

Dry:

  • 3 cups rolled oats (sub in activated buckinis for gluten free or Paleo)
  • 1 cup rice crispies/puffed rice
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups raw nuts of choice, roughly chopped (I used mostly pecans and almonds, but macadamias and walnuts would also be great)
  • 1/2 cup seeds of choice (I used pepitas and sunflower kernels)
  • 2 tbs coconut sugar
  • 3/4 tsp finely ground Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened if possible, omit for strictly fructose friendly – see notes)

Wet:

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (you could also use rice malt syrup)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160*C and lightly grease a large baking tray (I use cold pressed coconut oil spray, available at Coles).
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ‘dry’ ingredients except the dried coconut and cranberries.
  3. Add the ‘wet’ ingredients, gently folding with a large wooden spoon until the dry mixture is evenly coated. If you taste the raw mixture at this point, you may notice that it tastes quite tangy and leaves a strange feeling in the back of your mouth. DO NOT FRET! That’s just the uncooked ginger, and the resulting flavour once it’s cooked will be gorgeous. It might also seem a little too sweet, but most of this sweetness cooks out in the baking process too.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, add the dried coocnut and give the tray a good mix to ensure the granola cooks evenly. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned.
  5. Remove from the oven and mix through dried cranberries. The granola will continue to cook and crisp up after you’ve taken it out of the oven, so don’t worry if it’s a little soft or wet. Allow to cool completely before transferring to airtight containers or glass jars. The granola will keep for 1-2 weeks if stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

Notes:

  • A few of you fructose malabsorbers may be wondering why there’s dried cranberries in this recipe. Well, there’s two reasons: firstly, from a fructose sensitivity perspective, unless you’re in the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, you should be able to incorporate small amounts of moderate-to-high FODMAP foods into your diet; And secondly, from a general health perspective, I try to limit my intake of dried fruit (AKA concentrated sugar/fructose) as much as possible, however, I couldn’t be a bigger advocate of “everything in moderation”, and a few cranberries in your granola ain’t gonna kill you. Plus, they really bring this recipe together and, well, it’s CHRISTMAS! Convinced?
  • While we’re on the sugar note, you may notice that this recipe contains a little more sugar than my usual recipes do (1/3 cup pure maple syrup + 2 tbs coconut sugar). In my opinion, this recipe is too yum not to follow, so I recommend sticking to it and serving it with unsweetened nut milk and low-sugar fruits like berries. However, if you really must be extra sugar-conscious, simply cut out the coconut sugar and lessen the maple to 1/4 cup. You may wish to add some powdered stevia to taste at the end to bring the sweetness up a notch, but be careful not to overdo it.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

Summer Smoothie Series: Super Icey & Chai Spicy Banana Smoothie

Smoothies are to summer what porridge is to winter, and as the weather warms up in Australia, I like my brekkies to cool down…

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You might have gathered by now that I’m obsessed with all things chai. Like any chai-enthusiast, nothing encompasses those gorgeous Indian masala aromatics quite like the ole chai latte does (yep, that heavenly hot milky drink made with sickly sweet powder or syrup. Pure refined sugary delight).
However, since learning a few years back that refined sugar, preservatives, additives, fillers and artificial flavours are terrible for my health and waistline, I’ve given my beloved weekly McCafe indulgence the flick.

Depending on the type of milk and chai flavouring used, the average cafes style small chai latte contains anywhere between 20-40 grams of sugar (5-10 teaspoons), with the majority weighing in at around the 32g mark! That’s a hell of a lot of sugar to waste on one small drink.

These days, I flavour anything and everything I can with my own chai spice mix. Instead of harming my health like my chai latte habit did, the real spice mix delivers a whole heap of goodness and just as much flavour. Chai spices, when used in their real and pure form, are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals and boast cancer-prevention properties. Such spices are also great for immune function, hormone balancing (thus PMS symptom relief), gut health, bloating reduction, metabolism firing and energy boosting.

My chai spice mix uses nothing but pure ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. More traditional recipes call for white pepper, which you could also try. I use this mix to transform simple porridge, pancakes, muffins, granola, banana ‘ice cream’ and smoothies into gorgeous chai flavoured treats. I love how adding so much flavour to a recipe with these spices also boosts its nutritional value – win/win!

Since chai just wouldn’t be chai-like without a particular sweetness to complement and balance those spices, you can add a little natural sweetener such as rice malt syrup or pure maple to recipes.

Chai Spice Mix

Makes around 6 tbs. of chai mix

  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2.5 tbsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine all the spices together and store in an airtight glass jar or container.

Super Icey and Chai Spicey Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 frozen ripe banana
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 heaped teaspoons chai spice mix (or to taste, recipe above)
  • 1 tbs natural almond butter
  • 4 ice cubes plus extra, to serve

Method: Add all ingredients to a blender and process on high for one minute or until thick and creamy. Pour into a glass over ice and sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Slurp away.

Notes:

  • If you need a more substantial breakfast or post workout smoothie, adding 1 tbs chia seeds delivers a great source of natural protein, fibre, omega-3, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • I use a Thermomix, and while blending for so long in such a high-power blender might sound excessive, I find that frozen banana needs at least one minute to thicken  the rest of the ingredients up and make it silky smooth.

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Shhh! Don’ tell them it’s raw vegan: Banana & Coconut Cream Tart with a Coco-Nutty Chocolate Crust

IMG_0729Even the jolliest of Christmas bellies will never know that this tart is healthy, let alone raw vegan…

Nothing makes my mouth water like the thought of 1pm on Christmas Day. Each year’s Chrissy spread seems to get more momentous than the last, as the demand for Donna Hay magazine-worthy food grows, and my efforts in the kitchen move further from a helping hand and closer towards a zealous control freak.

Whatever the elaborate new additions are, I’ll never go past my family’s festive classics: Mum’s turkey with pistachio & cranberry stuffing, fig and maple-glazed ham, gourmet cheese boards and her sweet fried noodle and bok choy salad; Dad’s succulent lamb, herby roast veggies; and seafood platters; Nanna’s famous plumb pudding and Christmas Cake with all the dolloping trimmings; Aunty Kate’s choccie mouse and her Best-In-The-World-Meringues with Peppermint Crisp and raspberries.
These dishes are always served with bittersweet nostalgia and a whole lot of calorific Christmas cheer as all bona fide festive feeds should be.

But how do you do it, without overdoing it? Most unfortunately for us Aussies, December brings to us an itching issue: festive season coincides with bikini season. Because my exercise regime has been so restricted all year due to a perpetual injury, I’ll admit this problem has been playing on my mind. When all the Chrissy and New Years mayhem is over, I can’t as simply run, box and grapevine* the excess pudding** and vodka off as I could last year.

*The ‘Grapevine’ is the term used by indoor aerobics-enthusiasts to describe a particular move
** I’ve developed fructose malabsorption since then.There will be no pudding. But I can smash meringues, so that’s alright.

While I might not be able to exert as much control as I’d like over my family’s Christmas lunch, I had more luck with my girlfriends this year. And they were 100% on-board. Late each December, my best girlfriends and I try to catch up for one last ‘Soul Sistah’s’ dinner for the year. This year, instead of going out for our Christmas dinner, we decided to do have a picnic. We also decided that it should be somewhat healthy, anticipating that the fortnight ahead certainly won’t be. The spread was wonderful: we feasted on Christmas ham and turkey, a range of fresh salads (mine included spinach, cos and herbs picked from my veggie patch), raw veggie sticks with yummy cashew dips, ginger and strawberry punch, fruit platters and a raw tart which I whipped up in a last-minute frenzy, but actually turned out pretty awesome. So, I thought I’d share it with you. It’s sweet without being sickly, rich without being heavy and oozes festive decadence without being unhealthy. The fact that it tastes unhealthy makes it even more appealing – your pav-and-whipped-cream-loving fam will never know it’s healthy, let alone raw vegan. This tart amakes a great addition to the usual Chrissy spread, because it means you have something delicious to turn to when the pudding and brandy custard come out. Plus it looks pretty with a pop of fruity colour, which never hurts… IMG_0722IMG_0721IMG_0723 IMG_0728 IMG_0724 IMG_0725 IMG_0720IMG_0727 IMG_0714 IMG_0726

Banana & Coconut Cream Tart with a Coco-nutty Chocolate Crust

Dietary/allergen information: free from wheat, gluten, grains, dairy, soy, egg and animal products. Fructose-friendly. Contains nuts and some FODMAPs (cashews, almonds & dried coconut. If you can’t tolerate a large quantity of nuts in the one sitting or at all, please avoid this recipe).

Ingredients (serves 10)

Tart shell:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut (I used Loving Earth’s shredded coconut)
  • 2 tbs flax seeds (optional)
  • 7 tbs raw cacao powder (I used Eco brand)
  • 2 tbs vanilla extract
  • 5 tbs pure organic maple syrup (for a strictly raw version, use rice malt syrup)
  • Cold-pressed coconut oil, melted
  • Stevia

Tart Filling:

  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup full-fat coconut cream
  • 4 tbs pure organic maple syrup
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • liquid stevia

Fresh berries, cherries**, figs**, pomegranate seeds** and mint leaves, to serve.

Method:

  1. To make the tart crust, whiz all dry ingredients in a high-powered processor until it forms a rough crumb.
  2. Add the vanilla and maple syrup and process until combined.
  3. Add coconut oil, tablespoon at a time, until the ingredients all come together and form a mouldable, sticky ‘dough’. I used roughly 12 tbs. Taste mixture and add stevia until you reach your desired sweetness.
  4. Remove from processor and press evenly into a tart tin.  Make sure you press very firmly, packing the mixture in tightly around the base and up the sides. I trimmed the excess sides with a sharp knife and place in the freezer  while you make the filling.
  5. To make the filling, process all filling ingredients (except one banana – only use one), until a thick, smooth consistency forms. Taste and adjust sweetness with liquid stevia.
  6. Remove the tart tin from the freezer and allow to stand for 5 mins. Carefully remove the tart shell from the tin and place on a large plate.
  7. Slice the second banana thinly and arrange on the base of the tart shell. Dollop filling over the banana to fill the tart shell. Store in refrigerator until 30 mins before serving*. Top with fresh berries, cherries**, quartered figs**, pomegranate seeds** and mint leaves upon serving. Will store in the fridge for up to 4 days (see notes below).

*Because of the banana, the filling will begin to brown within four hours of making it. This tart is thus best made the day of serving if entertaining. The ‘brownness’ doesn’t affect the flavour of the cream, so leftovers are fine kept in the fridge
**Fruits contain excess fructose, and should only be consumed in small amounts by those with fructose malabsorption.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

Melbourne Cup Day: slug poo, gardening and a riverbank picnic

IMG_4303IMG_4306 In typical ‘me’ tradition, my Melbourne Cup Day (a Victorian public holiday for you non-Melbournians) was a lot more about food than horses. In previous years, I’ve always been enlivened with all things Spring Racing Carnival (all things bar the actual horse racing), but with a crazy work schedule, social events up to my neck and 21st party planning eating up any spare time, another expensive outfit, another pair of shoes, another cab fare and another day on the bubbly couldn’t have sounded less appealing. So instead I opted for a day spent out in the gorgeous Spring sunshine with my parents, planting our new veggie garden and fruit orchard, followed by a balmy evening feasting along the Yarra riverbank at Studley Park with my boyfriend.

Since this post isn’t dedicated to a specific recipe, I thought I’d use it as an opportunity to share my favourite green smoothie combinations with you. Like anything seen to be a fad, there’s a lot of ridicule surrounding green smoothies and green juices. My family stopped screwing up their faces after three or so months of me carrying them around the house, but my work colleagues still grimace at the sight of my daily dose of “slug poo”, as they’ve coined it.  I don’t care what green-smoothie-cynics say – I’ve been hooked on them since my first one, and I can confidently say that I’ll be drinking them daily for the rest of my life. Getting 5+ FULL servings of vegetables in a day, and ensuring that they’re mostly raw, can be a tough gig. Now I don’t know about you, but munching on a large mixing bowl full of nothing but spinach leaves, lettuce and celery sounds ghastly, not to mention time consuming. It’s for this reason that I swear by green smoothies: they help you to effortlessly and painlessly reach your 5+ veggie servings a day, and they can account for all your raw servings!

The truth is, slug poo tastes a whole lot better than it looks. In fact, so long  as you’ve got the right combinations happening, it’s perfectly refreshing and delicious. The thing I love most about green smoothies is how I feel physically healthier and rejuvenated with every single gulp. Whenever I’m feeling sluggish (pardon the pun) or not quite right, I can always rely on a green smoothie bursting with nutrients to reenergise me. What’s more, ever since I began incorporating green smoothies into my daily diet, my skin has a more consistent glow and my random bursts of dermatitis and eczema have stopped altogether.

As more and more health cafes and juice bars include green smoothies on their menus, I become more and more outraged at their prices. One day last week, I hadn’t had enough time to make my green smoothie in the morning, so I prowled the cafes of Melbourne’s CBD in search of one. I ended up at an organic health eatery in one of Melbourne’s most famous foodie alleys. Given my past experiences there, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the lack of customer service. Let’s just say that the snooty hipster waitresses there have “I don’t want to take your order and I’m way too cool for your mainstream corporate attire-wearing self” written all over their frown-wrinkled foreheads. Anyway, although I didn’t show it, I was taken aback by the $9.50 I was charged for the stingiest, most tasteless green smoothie I’ve ever had. It tasted like mouldy celery blended with muddy water. I was not impressed, and I remembered why I always make my own green smoothies: they actually taste good, they don’t cost me the earth, and I don’t walk away seething.

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My all-time favourite green smoothies

A few things to note:

  • All recipes serve one large glass, or 2 small.
  • The first 2 recipes are great as breakfast meals, and the second two are great to drink in-between meals.
  • The coconut-rice milk used is Pureharvest’s Cocoquench coconut-rice milk.
  • While it’s true that you can pretty much throw whatever you want into a green smoothie, remember that green smoothies have the word “green” in them for one reason: they are supposed to be comprised mainly of veggies! To keep my sugar intake in check, I stick to using 1-2 full servings of fruit in my green smoothies (e.g. 1 medium banana or 1 cup berries = 1 serving fruit). If you’ve used a fair bit of fruit and are still struggling with the taste of the greens, try adding some liquid stevia to increase the sweetness without increasing the sugar.
  • There’s no doubt about it; the secret to a thick and silky green smoothie is BANANA! Of course, you can make your green smoothies without it (avocado is also a great thickener!), but if you’re after a lovely thick and smooth texture, you can’t go past the old ‘nana. Besides, bananas taste awesome and they mask any of the bitterness that the leafy greens may have – if you close your eyes, you’ll never know you’re drinking a salad.
  • A note on cucumber: I used to add cucumber to all my green smoothies, however, it’s been giving me bad indigestion and reflux lately so I’ve stopped. If it’s not problematic for you, then use it.
  • The amount of fruit, coconut water/milk and chia seeds I put in my smoothies always depends on whether I’m having it as a meal (i.e. for breakfast), or a snack between lunch and dinner. If it’s only a snack, I use less fruit (more berries than banana as they’re lower in sugar), and half a cup of coconut water/milk + 1/2 cup water.
  • Feel free to add in superfood extras like spirulina, Vital Greens, etc.
  • Green smoothies are always best enjoyed immediately. 8-hour old slug poo tastes pretty putrid, trust me…

To make:

Start by add liquids to the jug first, followed by frozen solids and then add the other ingredients on top. Process in a high-speed blender for 1-2 minutes, or until the consistency is smooth and silky. I find that even in a blender as powerful as my Thermomix, green smoothies really need at least a minute to break down all the fibrous greens and give you that silky smooth texture. If you don’t blend it for long enough, it will separate, or be stringy and chunky.

Green Piña Colada

  • 1 cup coconut-rice milk
  • 1 frozen banana (or 1/2 large)
  • 1 thick slice pineapple
  • 3 handfuls leafy greens (baby spinach leaves + cos + bok choy)
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 2-3 drops liquid stevia

Very Berry Breakfast Greens

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup berries (strawberries, blueberries & raspberries)
  • 3 handfuls leafy greens (baby spinach leaves + cos + bok choy)
  • 1 small handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1.5 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 heaped tsp freeze-dried acai berry powder (optional)
  • 2-3 drops liquid stevia

Ultimate Greens 1

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 thick slice frozen pineapple
  • 1-2 kiwis, peeled (I eat the skin separately. YES, I eat fury kiwi skin!)
  • 1 large handful baby spinach or bok choy
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • Small handful mint leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3 drops liquid stevia
  • Ice

Ultimate Greens 2

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • 1 large handful cos lettuce
  • 1 large handful bok choy
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • 1 small handful continental parsley
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 thumbnail-size piece fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp Spirulina
  • 4 drops liquid stevia
  • Ice

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Fragrant Roasted Veggie & Quinoa Salad

imageIMG_3636 IMG_3787Last Saturday was my favourite kind of Saturday; the air smelt like Summer and I spent the day walking my pup in the sunshine, wandering around Prahran Market and cooking.

Prahran market is any health foodie’s bliss, and its location — being just off the hustle and bustle of fashion heaven Chapel Street –makes it even more blissful for those who love fashion and food. I was in my element. I won’t lie, this market isn’t cheap. But, then again, it’s only expensive relative to supermarket produce that’s mass-produced and often genetically modified, and is laden with preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Like many local markets, most of the produce at Prahran Market is organic, seasonal and farmed locally. Basically, you get what you pay for. Not only is organic produce free of all the nasty stuff, but it’s also far richer in the good stuff – organic fruit and veg provides far more vitamins, minerals and nutritional antioxidants because it’s grown in nutrient-rich soil and is harvested with care. It’s also for this reason that organic food looks more vibrant and tastes better. I believe wholeheartedly that your health is the best investment you can make, monetarily and otherwise. People often complain that organic and ‘health’ foods are unjustifiably expensive, but I personally look at it this way: it’s more worthwhile to spend money on nourishing the body I’m going to have until I die, rather than a dress I’m going to wear once or twice. That’s not to say I don’t put money into both. One is just more justifiable than the other…

I managed to fill the boot of my car with a whole heap of gorgeous organic goodies such purple carrots, wild baby carrots, sweet potato, a Woodfrog Bakery baguette, Loving Earth coconut sugar, pumpkin seed butter and quinoa, just to name a few. I even bought a bunch of these exquisite wild tulips which, as the proud cashier announced, were not grown hydroponically (in a water solution), but in real soil. How incredibly naive of me for assuming that all flowers are grown in the grounds of pretty meadows all these years…

When I got home, my mum asked what on earth I was going to do with it all, as she usually does. I decided to whip up a big quinoa dish to get me through the next week’s lunches. None of it made it past dinner – the entire thing got demolished by my family before I could get my tuppaware containers out of the cupboard.

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Fragrant Roasted Veggie + Quinoa Salad

Serves 5-6
Dietary info: wheat & gluten free, fructose friendly, low FODMAP, soy free. Contains nuts (almonds) & lactose (omit feta for dairy free).

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato, washed & peeled
  • 1/2 kent/jap pumpkin, washed & peeled
  • 1 large purple carrot (optional)
  • 2 cups white quinoa, rinsed thoroughly* (I often cheat and use two packets of Celebrate Health Lemon & Thyme Quinoa)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 1/4 cup roasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp garam masala (Indian spice mix – available from supermarkets & spice markets)
  • Pinch sweet paprika
  • Himalayan sea salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 tbs garlic-infused EVOO
  • 1/2 cup Danish or Persian Feta, crumbled

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200*C.
  2. Combine the ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika and garam masala.
  3. Chop pumpkin into 2cm chunks and sweet potato and carrot (if using) into 1cm chunks. The pumpkin is softer and therefore cooks twice as fast as sweet potato & carrot, but I’ve got better things to do with my time than fiddle with varied cooking times, so I just cut the pumpkin twice as large as the sweet potato & carrot.
  4. Throw pumpkin, sweet potato & carrot in  a large bowl with the garlic olive oil and 1/2 tbs of the EVOO (the rest will be used for the dressing). Use your hands to ensure that the veggies are evenly coated with the oil.
  5. Arrange veggies on a baking/roasting dish and sprinkle with half of the prepared spice mix. Also sprinkle with a little Himalayan salt.
  6. Bake veggies for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn to expose the less-cooked sides. Sprinkle with the remaining spice mix and some more paprika and salt if you wish. Return to the oven until they’re golden and cooked through – another 15-20 mins should do it. If they’re still a little under done, cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Cooking times will vary from oven to oven, and also depending on the size of the veggies.
  7. While the veggies are roasting, place the quinoa and stock in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then turn right down and cover with a lid. Leave for 15 minutes to allow the grains to absorb the liquid. Once ready, use a fork to fluff it up and separate the grains. If you’re using Celebrate Health Lemon & Thyme Quinoa or another packaged recipe base, prepare the quinoa according to packet instructions, using stock instead if it calls for water. The quinoa is ready when its germ is exposed (a white little ring around the grain will appear). It should be soft but still have some resistance when chewed – sort of like the ‘al dente’ quinoa version of pasta! It should not be cluggy or porridge-like, but if it is, don’t bother starting from scratch – it’ll still taste good!
  8. In a large salad bowl, combine the quinoa, lemon juice (to taste), remaining EVOO, baby spinach, chives and coriander. At this stage, I threw in more of the spices to taste to make the quinoa itself more fragrant and flavourful. Top the quinoa with the roasted veggies, toasted almonds, feta and extra coriander. Finish with a little drizzle of EVOO and a squeeze of lemon juice. If I have some on hand at the time, I also love to top the salad with some of my Mum’s homegrown and home-pickled beetroot chunks. Since it’s full of sugar and not exactly clean, I only use a few tablespoons of it, but the sweetness really ties everything together and makes the flavours pop. Besides, I’ve never been able to pass up a beetroot and feta combo, anyway.

*Always rinse plain uncooked quinoa thoroughly prior to cooking, or you might end up with a very unpleasantly bitter result!

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

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Raw Vegan Chocolate Custard Tarts

Om nom NOM…

I’m currently feeling a little under the weather due to some chronic sleep deprivation, and my creative cap has been MIA lately, so it’s a short and oh-so-sweet little hello from me today.

These dandy little creations were verrrrrrrry popular. So popular, in fact, that I only scored half of one myself. Not okay.

The quantities in the recipe make about 8 small tarts (or 7 if you can’t stop eating the ingredients like me), but it could easily be doubled. I used quite small quantities as I made the recipe up along the way and wasn’t sure whether it would be a success or not. I’m quickly learning that it’s pretty hard to stuff raw sweets up. They’re practically infallible – if the flavours and textures work well together while you’re putting them together, chances are that the end product will be a success. Baked treats, on the other hand, are far more volatile (even more so when you’re a gluten-free baker). Will it rise? Will it be too sweet? Will it lose too much sweetness? Will it be fluffy? Will it hold form? Will it curdle? You could be licking the Muffin Batter of The Gods from the bowl one minute, convinced that you’re onto something great, then you’ve got 12 tragic little muffins in the bin 20 minutes later, not even worthy of the dog bowl. Ovens are dangerous, and lately I just haven’t had the energy to deal with the anxiety that Oven Time brings…

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Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse Tarts
Makes 8 small tarts

Ingredients

Tart shells:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut
  • 1 tbs LSA (linseed, sunflower & almond meal)
  • 2.5 tbs raw cacao powder
  • 3 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup (for a strictly raw version, sub in a raw sweetener of choice)
  • 3 drops liquid stevia

Custard filling:

  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tbs raw cacao powder (or more, depending on how deep you want the flavour to be)
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup (for a strictly raw version, sub in a raw sweetener of choice)
  • 2 drops liquid stevia (or more, to taste)

To serve:

  • 1 ripe banana, plus a little maple syrup

Method

  1.  Line 8 disposable aluminium foil tartlet cases with small squares of glad wrap. I did this to ensure they wouldn’t stick.
  2. Process all Tart Shell ingredients in a high-speed processor until it all comes together like a dough. Taste and adjust flavours if needed.
  3. Divide the mixture into portions and carefully mould each portion into the foil cases with your fingers to create a little ‘cup’. Place on a tray and allow to set in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the custard filling, process all ingredients until a thick and smooth custard-like consistency forms. Taste and adjust sweetness/cacao to suit your preferences.
  5. Remove tart shells from the freezer. Remove the tarts from the foil cases by carefully lifting and peeling away the plastic wrap.
  6. Spoon custard mixture into chilled tart shells. Freeze until 10 minutes before serving.
  7. To serve, allow the tarts to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes first, then top with slices of maple-grilled banana.
  8. To make the maple-grilled banana, slice a ripe (but firm) banana, brush lightly with a little pure maple syrup and place under the grill until the banana starts to brown, bubble and caramelise (about 3 minutes).

Notes:

  • To make a strictly raw version of this recipe, simply replace the maple syrup with a raw sweetener, and top the tarts with fresh banana instead of grilled.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

Raw Vegan Chocolate Cookie & Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

Now, everyone on the face of the earth is familiar with the amazingness of Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, right?  Well, apparently I’ve been living under a rock for the past 21 years. I only became aware of their existence once recipes of their healthy take-offs went viral and infested my social networking (and Google) feeds. In the online health-nut community (I refuse to call us ‘Clean Eaters’ – that term makes even me cringe, and I am one), healthy versions of Reese’s ingenious creation have become all the rage. Simple, quick, fuss-free, no-bake and healthy, they make a perfect little sweet treat. And while I’ve since made them numerous times, I’ve found little reason to post my own recipe because let’s face it, they’re everywhere. It would be like posting a recipe pretending that I invented the raw-universally celebrated Raw Chocolate Mousse (avocado, cacao & sweetener). Not much new or exciting there. So, last night I decided to put a little spin on the famous chocolate-peanut butter marriage. But how could I make it my own?

Everyone loves chocolate. Everyone loves peanut butter (my cat and boyfriend are the only exceptions I know)…

…and everyone loves cookies. Even my cat.

With that little Lightbulb Moment, my Raw Chocolate Cookie & Peanut Butter Fudge Cups were born. Not only are they deliciously more-ish and sure to quell any sweet cravings, they’re also loaded with super nourishing properties like antioxidants, natural anti-depressants (tryptophan), anti-inflammatory powers, metabolism and energy boosters, essential fats, proteins, fibre, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, folate, iron, zinc and magnesium, just to name a few!

Now, I have used a little maple syrup for the sole purposes of nutritional benefit (not to mention unbeatable taste). To avoid getting into any trouble here, I must highlight the fact that maple syrup is not actually considered a raw food. Sorry. Making pure maple syrup involves boiling down the sap from maple trees, a process which is extremely lengthy, delicate and involved (hence the high cost of pure maple syrup compared to maple flavoured syrup — not so good for you!) The health benefits of pure maple syrup, however, surpass that of any raw sweetener by a mile, and its relative fructose content is much lower. So, if your diet is absolutely raw, just substitute the maple for a raw sweetener. If you don’t follow a raw lifestyle, then I’d encourage you to opt for pure certified organic maple syrup over ANY ‘raw’ sweetener like agave, for example, which has a whopping fructose content ranging anywhere from 70-90%! Agave might possess other health benefits, but its incredibly high fructose percentage is enough for me to stay clear of it, whether I have fructose malabsorption or not.

These little babies are great served with a mid morning cuppa, as a post workout snack (new research shows that almonds are one of the top natural post-workout fuels), or as a lovely little low carb and guilt-free dessert. Or any time of day that you’re having a chocolate/cookie/peanut butter craving, really…
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Raw Chocolate Cookie & Peanut Butter Fudge Cups
Makes 10 cups

Ingredients:
Raw Chocolate Cookie

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 4-6 tbs raw cacao powder (according to taste)
  • 8 tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tbs pure organic maple syrup
  • 6 drops liquid stevia, or to taste

Peanut Butter Fudge Filling

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 3 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pure organic maple syrup
  • 2 drops liquid stevia, or to taste
  • Pinch Himalayan pink sea salt, to taste

Chocolate Topping

  • 6 tbs raw cacao butter, melted
  • 2-4 tbs raw cacao powder, or to taste
  • 2-3 drops liquid stevia, or to taste

Method:

  1. Completely combine all Chocolate Cookie ingredients in a bowl. Firmly press half the mixture into 10 silicone cup cake moulds. Freeze for 10 mins.
  2. In the meantime, combine all Peanut Butter Fudge Filling ingredients. Remove cups from freezer and smooth peanut butter mixture on top of the first cookie layer. Freeze for 20-30 mins.
  3. Press the remaining chocolate cookie mixture into the cups, on top of the peanut butter filling. Freeze for 10 mins.
  4. Combine Chocolate Topping ingredients, remove cups from freezer and cover evenly with the chocolate. Set in the freezer for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts before serving if you wish. Only remove from the freezer 10 mins before serving. They will melt and lose shape rapidly, otherwise.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

Just like a chocolate thick shake, only THICKER!

One day last week, my best gal pal was coming over for one of our habitual Afternoon Tea dates. Being the 21-going-on-75ers that we unashamedly are (bar the weekend, of course, when tea is replaced with vodka), my best friends and I always relish in the rare delight of lazing around in our moccasins for a few hours while chatting frantically about anything and everything (often forgetting to breathe), getting stuck into dark chocolate and, of course, drinking copious amounts of tea. Green, Chai, English Breakfast, French Earl Grey, Peppermint…

Incidentally, I had the whole day off, which naturally means a day of recipe invention, experimentation and converting my kitchen into an A-grade bomb site. With the extra time on my hands, I decided to jazz our tea date up a little. In the true tradition of all bona fide afternoon teas, one fundamental element was called for: sweets. And what do I love even more than sweets? HEALTHIFIED SWEETS!

So, I got to work on a little feast: raw vegan Coconut Cream and Strawberry Slice , strawberries dipped in homemade raw vegan almond chocolate and –lo and behold– THE BEST healthy choc-banana smoothie EVER! I decided to be all outrageous and skip the tea (many cups of China Jasmine were consumed post-fiesta, of course), and what a decision it was.

This delightful concoction is definitely more of a thick shake than a smoothie. It has all the naughty tastes and textures of a thick shake, but is 100% healthy AND, what’s more,  it’s sugar free! As much as I adore healthy smoothies, it can’t be denied that they taste just that – healthy. Which is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a given that a wholesome smoothie packed with spinach and berries won’t titillate your taste buds quite like a thick shake made from ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce will.

THIS ‘smoothie’, however, is guaranteed to titillate your taste buds. When I was younger, a McDonald’s choccie thick shake was always my chosen 6-Nugget Happy Meal accompaniment, and no, it wasn’t my dessert because a shake is “just a drink!”. I’d have a large Chocolate Sundae, too. I kid you not, the first gulp of my Choc-Banana Thick Shake took my straight back to my enchanted childhood. It was magnificent.

This thick shake is so incredibly creamy, chocolatey, sweet and, as one can expect, thick. So wonderfully thick, in fact, that the thin straw I served it with was quickly ditched for a spoon. I definitely recommend a thick straw if you’re planning on drinking this liquefied chocolate velvet. The secret to such a smooth, creamy and thick result? Frozen bananas.

To add to the indulgence factor, I whipped up some choc-almond fudge to drizzle around the edges of the glasses. I then used the leftovers to coat strawberries with before rolling them in crushed pistachios and shredded coconut…
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Choc-Banana Thick Shake with Chocolate Fudge Sauce
Serves 2 (or one fat me)

Ingredients

  • 3 frozen bananas (I peel and chop fresh bananas into halves and store them in a container in the freezer, so I always have them ready to go)
  • 2-3 tbs raw cacao powder, or to taste (I use Loving Earth brand)
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • 2/3 cup milk of choice (cow’s milk or vegan nut milk such as almond or cashew for vegans or lactose-free)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 drops liquid stevia, or to taste (if you’re not too concerned about keeping it sugar-free, a tablespoon or two of pure maple would also be delicious)
  • Ice

Choc-Almond Fudge (optional):

  • 3 tbs raw cacao butter buttons, melted (I use Eco brand. If you don’t have any, you could use coconut oil but it won’t have that creamy, real chocolate effect)
  • 1-2 raw cacao powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 tbs almond butter
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Splash of pure maple syrup (can leave out to make it strictly sugar-free)
  • liquid stevia, to taste

Method:

  1. If you’re making the chocolate fudge, combine the relevant ingredients with the melted cacao butter. Stir vigorously until fully combined. You can either drizzle the chocolate around the edges of your serving glasses before you pour the drink in as I did, or top your shake with it. Because it sets like real chocolate, you will need to move quickly with it. If it starts to harden, simply melt it down again slightly.
  2. To make the thick shake, add all ingredients to a high-powered blender or processor and blend until completely smooth and creamy. Pour into servings glasses and enjoy immediately.

Notes:

  • If you have leftover chocolate, dip strawberries into it and then roll them in crushed pistachios and shredded coconut. YUM! Or, you could just eat it by the spoonful…
  • If you only want enough to serve one person, there might not be enough ingredients for the blender to work properly. I’d suggest still making enough for two servings, and store the remainder in the fridge for ‘later’. By later, I mean immediately after your first glass, before you realise how full you are.

Happy Nourishing!
Ax

Calling all Omnivorous Raw Vegan Cynics

IMG_3249I’m about as vegan as a lion. It’s not that I’m against –or even mildly skeptical about– the vegan diet, because I absolutely LOVE plant-based foods, whether they’re cooked or in their natural (raw) state. I have no doubt that humans are able to obtain sufficient nourishment from a solely plant-based diet, given enough variety. It’s just that, well, frankly, I bloody love meat. Full Stop.

An impassioned animal fanatic, I do my very best to only consume certified organic, and therefore more ethically produced, meat and animal products. My diet is predominantly paleolithic, not by conscious choice, but pure incidence. Without even realising it, I’d been following a largely Stone Age/Paleo/Hunter-Gatherer diet for a long time. My omnivorous diet suits my lifestyle perfectly, and I find that I’m most focused, energised and happiest when I’m dining like a caveman. It’s as simple as that. And it is for this simple reason I personally believe that the Paleo Diet is what homo sapiens are genetically designed to consume.

Like I said before, my diet is not entirely, but predominantly paleolithic. Although 95% of my diet consists of unprocessed meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, tree nuts and seeds, I do eat some foods that the cave-dwellers would have frothed over given the luxury. These include, but are not entirely limited to, oats, tempeh, the occasional slice of oat bread, some unrefined grains that I’m not already intolerant to (like quinoa and brown rice), peanuts, goats feta, Greek yoghurt, and small amounts of other minimally-processed dairy.

Eating meat and animal products is a personal choice I make, but it doesn’t mean that all my meals contain them. I love eating purely plant-based and raw dishes, and I aim to incorporate them into my diet every day. To be honest, my diet would undoubtedly contain a lot less animal-factor if I wasn’t intolerant to so many plant-based foods. As much as I love eating animal protein, I honestly adore veggies just as much. I’d have a lot more herbivorous days if my body could tolerate more protein-rich plant foods. But until then, I’ll listen to my fuss-pot gut and take chicken over chickpeas.

Since developing my intolerances, I’ve become increasingly sick of going to ‘health’ restaurants and vegan cafes and being intolerant to every single menu item. What’s more, the all-too-often standoffish and apathetic attitudes of hipster waiting staff doesn’t ease the frustration, either. It baffles me that they claim to be the most health-focused eateries going ’round, yet they’re totally unaware (or totally unconcerned) about Fructose Malabsorption or the booming demand for low FODMAP options. ‘Gluten free’ is on every menu you look at, even in third-world countries, yet the mention of fructose malabsorption leaves waiters and chefs with an expression that’s part puzzled, part constipated. I’ll show YOU constipated – just feed me an apple!

So, last Monday I got all vegan in spirit and was, incidentally, craving sweets. Since I can’t eat store-bought raw vegan sweets (they all either contain dates, dried fruit, honey, agave, or all of the above), I decided to make my own super nutritious raw vegan, refined-sugar free and fructose friendly dessert. At first, I was sure that I’d miss the gorgeous taste of Nature’s Caramel –dates–, since they’re an incredibly toothsome plant-based sugar alternative. But, after a bit of throwing various ingredients together and a whole lot of Hoping For The Best, I tasted my pièce de résistance, and BOOM…

The love child of strawberry and coconut was born. And oh my gosh, it is simply scrump-didili-umptious! 

My Coconut Cream and Strawberry Slice is one healthy dessert you can feed to even the most carnivorous, sugar-lovin’ beast and remain confident that they will NEVER know that it’s 100% healthy. Or Vegan. Or RAW! The truth is, it just tastes like it’s bad for you. My sister has asked me a few times, “are you sure this is good for me?”, and my boyfriend can’t stand nuts “unless they’re covered in (milk) chocolate” because they dry his mouth out (um, what?), but even he couldn’t get enough of it.

The base is so buttery and biscuity (without actually being buttery or biscuity) and the filling is dreamily creamy, velvety and sweet. Then there’s the delectable strawbs – the icing on the cake. Like all bona fide slices should, the whole thing just Melts in Your Mouth. Nanna would be so approving. Impressed, even.  It’s incredibly hard to believe that something that tastes like it belongs at a fete cake stall can be perfectly nourishing, vegan and 100% clean. Don’t believe me? I DARE you to try it…

My ultimate verdict? Raw vegans are certainly NOT missing out…

Now, because the slice does contain lots of tree nuts, seeds and dried coconut, my lovely fellow fructose malabsorbers must go easy on it – if you’re particularly sensitive to nuts, please stick to a small serving at a time. That said, some of you might be able to tolerate a lot of it. I’m somewhere in the middle. Still, I’d be willing to experience mild stomach upsets the following day in the name of this Godly Goody.

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Raw Vegan Coconut Cream & Strawberry Slice
Serves 6
To yield enough to fill a normal ‘slice’ dish, double the ingredients.

Ingredients (all nuts & seeds are natural & raw)

‘Biscuit’ Base:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut (desiccated/shredded/flakes/chips)
  • 1 tbs LSA
  • 1/2 tbs each flax seeds, sunflower seeds & pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tbs liquid coconut oil
  • 1 tbs pure organic maple syrup (NOTE: if you follow a strictly raw diet, simply substitute the maple syrup for a raw sweetener. Maple syrup is not considered a raw food, but I use it as its health benefits surpass any raw sweetener I could use).
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Liquid or powdered stevia, to taste

Coconut Cream filling:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup organic coconut cream (I used light)
  • 1/3 cup dried coconut
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs pure organic maple syrup/raw sweetener
  • 5-7 of the most titillatingly tasty strawberries you can get your hands on, sliced, for topping
  • fresh mint leaves, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Line a container with baking paper. The container I used was approx. 16cm/16cm (quite small), but if you want to make enough to fill a proper ‘slice’ tray, double the ingredients.
  2. In a high powered food processor, process all dry ‘ biscuit base’ ingredients (except for the stevia) until a crumbly consistency has formed.
  3. Add the wet ingredients and whiz until it all comes together and is sticky. Taste. If you want it sweeter, gradually add small amounts of stevia until you reach your desired sweetness.
  4. Press mixture firmly and evenly into the base of the lined container/tray and pop into the fridge or freezer while you make the filling.
  5. To make the cashew cream filling, process the cashews and coconut until a fine powder forms.
  6. Add remaining ingredients and process until combined. Spread the coconut cream filling over the biscuit base and allow to set in the fridge for a few hours.
  7. Just before serving, top the coconut cream with sliced strawbs, carefully cut into portions with a sharp knife, top with a few fresh mint leaves for that little extra colour pop, and DEVOUR!


Happy Nourishing!
Ax