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.
Banana bread is one of THE dreamiest nostalgic foods…
When that ever-familar aroma of toasted and buttered banana bread fills your kitchen, you know you’re home. When I was younger, I’d often barge through the front door after school, throw 4 thick slices of Brumby’s banana bread in the toaster before I’d even put my bag down, smother them with so much butter that it would pool on top and drip down my chin as I took each bite. I remember finding comfort in the justification that something that tasted as good as cake could be as healthy as bread. Ha!
I may have since come to my senses, but my senses don’t fail me: the second I smell fresh banana bread, or better still, warm and buttered fresh banana bread, my salivary glands quite literally go bananas. I know I’m not alone here.
Instead of the classic recipe’s refined wheat flour, my banana bread calls for spelt flour. Although spelt is technically related to wheat and there’s a lot of debate out there as to which grain is more nutritious, the gluten is spelt is more fragile and susceptible to chemical and mechanical breakdown in the body, making it significantly easier to digest for many people.
Without all the butter, refined sugar and flour, my healthified version might not be Brumby’s worthy, but I promise you that it still manages to celebrate all the things we love about the classic: that buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture, the comforting flavour of ripe banana and just the right amount of sweetness to bring it all together. Yum.
Brilliantly Healthy Banana Bread
Dietary info: Wheat free, dairy free, refined-sugar free, fructose-friendly, contains some fructans (see notes), gluten (spelt), nuts (almonds) and egg.
2 cups mashed over ripe banana (approx. 4 medium-large bananas)
3 large organic free range eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup macadamia nut oil
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
3 tbs pure maple syrup
1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour*
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
1/2 cup almond meal*
3 tbs chia seeds
1.25 tsp baking powder (aluminium free)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
generous pinch Himalayan sea salt
To top batter with before baking: 1 large banana cut lengthways, 3 tbs pecans*, 2 tbs good quality dark choc chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 160*C and generously grease a loaf tin (my tin is approx. 11cm x 26cm)
In one bowl, combine the mashed banana, beaten eggs, macadamia oil, vanilla and maple syrup.
In another bowl, combine the spelt flour, coconut, chia seeds, almond meal, spices and salt. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour banana mixture into it. Gently fold the ingredients until just fully combined. Be very careful not to over mix.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf tin and smooth out lightly with the back of a large spoon if needed. Top with halved banana, pecans, dark chic chips and a drizzle of maple syrup. Bake for around 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, but still moist (don’t wait until the skewer comes out completely dry because the loaf is supposed to be moist throughout!). Cooking times will vary from oven to oven. If the top begins to brown too much while cooking, cover with a little bit of foil.
Remove from the oven, allow to stand in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
For a snack, serve on its own or toasted with a little organic butter or your favourite nut butter and a little drizzle of maple syrup. For a fuss-free brekky, serve warm with organic yoghurt/coconut yoghurt and berries. For something a little more indulgent, serve toasted with organic butter, some choc chips and a drizzle of maple syrup – a sure winner among the boys!
To those on a low FODMAP diet: Ingredients marked with one asterisk (*) contain moderate amounts of FODMAPs. Each individual’s tolerance to these particular foods will vary, but unless you’re super sensitive or in the early stages of healing your gut, said ingredients in isolation shouldn’t cause a reaction if consumed in small amounts. However, because this banana bread contains a combination, it is possible that very sensitive individuals might not be able to tolerate a full serving of the bread (one 1.5cm thick slice). If you find that you’re generally fine with these foods and you’re used to consuming similar things daily, then you should be fine with this recipe, especially if you limit yourself to one slice per sitting. I can tolerate two slices now without worry, however two years ago I would have been pushing it and would have stuck to one. ALWAYS test your own tolerance! If spelt is a known issue for you in large amounts, try replacing half of it with buckwheat flour (but please remember that it will give a significantly different texture and flavour). If you cannot tolerate spelt at all, you can play around with different low FODMAP flour combinations such as buckwheat flour, oat flour, rice flour etc. Other lower FODMAP swaps include ground flaxseed, peanut flour or carob powder instead of almond meal and carob powder instead of chia seeds. All the above will lend different textures and flavours and I have not tested any of them so if you do, I’d love to hear how you went!
The term ‘cheats’ isn’t exactly synonymous with the cooking habits of fructose malabsorbers. Given the amount of onion and garlic powders in almost every packeted/bottled, marinade, recipe base, stock and seasoning known to man, we’re given no choice to make it all from scratch. After being forced to farewell many of my favourite FODMAP-filled fruits and veggies, this has been my next biggest challenge; all of a sudden, even the most basic cooking methods like using organic store-bought stock to make soups or using sauces, curry pastes and spice blends for dishes became impossible. I was so used to turning to healthy store-bought recipe bases (particularly ones by Celebrate Health) when I was short on time or lacking the desire to cook. I soon realised how badly I’d taken for granted the very luxury of being able to use healthy products to create meals –and cut precious time– with.
Lo and behold, it is with pure rapture I can announce that Celebrate Health have, whether they realise it or not, added ONION AND GARLIC FREE PRODUCTS to their range of healthy packaged culinary bliss!!! Upon realising this, I quite literally did a happy dance down the health food aisle of my local Coles. I squealed with excitement, demanding that my boyfriend show the same amount of enthusiasm which, going by the way he scurried away from his seizure-induced girlfriend, he clearly did not. That wasn’t going to stop me – I just convulsed harder. By pure coincidence, I was having a Mexican fiesta-themed dinner party with my girlfriends that night, so I used the Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa as a base for a gloriously vibrant salad. I was in too much of a rush to photograph it at the time, but it was so incredibly tasty and popular among my friends (one of my besties even shot-gunned the leftovers for lunch the next day) that I made it again first thing on Sunday – this time stuffing some of the salad into roasted capsicums. This dish really speaks for itself, both in terms of taste and appearance – the flavours pop just as much as the colours do! It’s full of texture from the veggies, and it’s alive with those explosive Mexican flavours (think cumin, chilli, paprika, coriander, kaffir lime and oregano).
Sadly, I can’t take full credit for the taste sensation that this dish is because I’ve used a recipe base. Frankly, I don’t really care, either. I’m going to take full advantage of this newly rekindled luxury and relish in the fact that I no longer have to make every.single.meal. from scratch every.single.day. for the rest of my life. This recipe is so positively delicious that I know I’ll be eating it for a very long time. It makes a perfect salad for all-year ’round entertaining (just double the recipe) and is wonderful either warm or cold, so leftovers can be enjoyed as a healthy, sustaining and fuss-free lunch for days after.
Being vegan, gluten free, dairy free, low FODMAP, fructose friendly, egg free and nut free, it’s totally tummy and allergy friendly. What’s more, unlike other recipes that call for pre-made bases which are filled with refined sugar and fructose, simple carbs, saturated fat, preservatives, fillers, flavour enhancers, thickeners and countless other nasty artificial additives, this Mexican Quinoa Salad is brimming with all the good stuff: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, complex carbs, complete protein and health-promoting fatty acids.
Cheat’s Mexican Quinoa-Stuffed Capsicums
Makes 2 meals or 4 side dishes. I like to double the recipe to make a week’s worth of lunches!
Note: You can either stuff the quinoa salad into roasted capsicums or just eat the salad on its own, as the recipe already has capsicum in it. I do both, although the stuffed capsicums make great individual servings for entertaining.
1 packet Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa
1.5 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock, organic if possible (organic chicken stock could be used too, or water but it won’t be as flavoursome)
1 large red capsicum, chopped (plus 2 more red capsicums to be stuffed, if using)
1 small tin sweet corn* kernels, or 1/2 large tin (ensure that no sugar has been added)
1 cup green beans, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 large handful baby spinach leaves, torn
1/4 cup chopped spring/green onion**, or chives.
1/2 cup fresh coriander plus extra, to serve
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch dried chilli flakes
lime zest and juice , to serve
1/2 avocado, chopped, to serve
If you’re making the stuffed capsicums, preheat oven to 180*C for 10 mins. Cut 2 capsicums in half lengthways, place on a lined baking tray cut-side up and bake until slightly tender, around 10-15 mins, while the quinoa is cooking.
Place the Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa in a saucepan along with the stock, cumin, paprika, oregano and dried chili. Give a quick stir, bring to the boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, allowing the grains to absorb the liquid for 15 minutes. If the quinoa hasn’t absorbed all the liquid by now, let it cook for a further 5 minutes, careful not to overcook or it will turn into mushy porridge. It’s ready when the grains are soft, but still able to be separated with a fork. Remove from heat.
In the meantime, heat 1tsp olive oil (I used garlic-infused) in a fry pan. Add chopped capsicum to the pan and sautée over medium-high heat for 2 mins. Add chopped green beans and sautée until slightly tender but still crisp.
In a bowl, combine the quinoa, capsicum, green beans, corn, green onion/chives, spinach and coriander. If you’re making stuffed capsicums, spoon the mixture into the roasted capsicum halves. Upon serving, top with chopped avocado and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Garnish with fresh coriander and a sprinkle of lime zest. It’s also great with a dollop of Greek yoghurt if you’re not vegan or dairy-free!
* If you have fructmal and you’re quite sensitive to sweet corn, try halving the recommended quantity. I can personally tolerate a fair bit of it, and this amount shouldn’t cause any upsets because the rest of the ingredients are very low in fructose and free of fructans. The safest thing is to test your own tolerance.
**Those with fructmal should only use the green part of spring (green) onion.