Roasted Veggie Burgers (vegan option)

image
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)

Serves 4.
Ingredients
  • 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 avocado
  • 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
 Method
  1. Preheat oven to 200*C and line two large baking trays with baking paper
  2. Place sweet potato on one tray in one layer, ensuring the chips are not touching if possible.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls

image

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.

image

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).

image

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

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.imageimage

Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos (vegan, onion & garlic free)

image

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!

image image

Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos (Vegan)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Low FODMAP Mexican Spice Mix (makes approx. 2.5 tbs):

  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Guac:

  • 2 large avocados*, lightly mashed
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 6 spring onions (green part only), chopped
  • Generous sprinkle of ‘Low FODMAP Mexican Spice Mix’ (above^)

Nachos:

  • 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

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220*C and line 2 large trays with baking paper.
  2. Prepare the spice mix by combining all ingredients. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. In the meantime, prepare the Celebrate Health Mexican Quinoa according to packet instructions and set aside.
  5. 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.
  6. To make the guac, combine all ingredients and season with sea salt.
  7. 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.

Notes: 
*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.

Buen provecho, amigos! 
Ax

image

Lemon and Coconut Slice

image

In primary school, vary rarely would I leave our after-school trips to the local bakery without a lemon slice in hand. My irrepressible love continued into the early years of high school where I’d make a batch most weekends, using half of the sweetened condensed milk for the biscuit base and drinking the rest straight from the tin…

Still to this day, I’ll never knock back a little nibble on a traditional Lemon Slice in all its delectably sweet, lemony, melt-in-your-mouth biscuity glory, but it’s great to know that I can enjoy a full slice of my healthified version without the guilt or sugar slump afterwards. This Lemon and Coconut Slice recipe tastes unbelievably close to the real deal, and has all those familiar characteristics: just enough sweet, perfectly lemony with a base so buttery (sans butter or biscuits) that it melts in your mouth. I can’t wait for you to try it!

Like all my recipes, it’s very adaptable to suit your taste buds, dietary requirements or what’s in your pantry. Just use similar ingredients to those you can’t/don’t have, and you should end up with a fairly similar result.

Lemon and Coconut Slice

Ingredients Biscuit base:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans*
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 tbs linseeds (or any other seeds)
  • 2.5 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 4 tbs melted coconut oil (or 2tbs each coconut oil & almond/macadamia oil)
  • Generous pinch of Himalayan sea salt

Lemon cream topping:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews*
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
  • 1/3 cup + 2tbs coconut cream
  • 1.5 tbs pure maple syrup
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 – 1 lemon (depending on how lemony you like it)

Method

  1. Line a slice tray with baking paper. Please note, the quantities above yield enough to fill half a normal slice tray (4 full sized bars or 8 small squares). If you want to make a full sized slice recipe –and fill the tin– simply double the ingredients.
  2. To make the biscuit base, use a high-powered processor to process the buckwheat groats, seeds, pecans and salt until a fine crumb forms. Add the oats and coconut and blitz again (I like my oats a little chunky, but you can blend for longer to make a fine crumb). Add the oil and maple syrup and process until it all comes together and is sticky. You may need to scrape the bowl/jug down a few times to fully incorporate all the ingredients. Press firmly into the prepared slice tin (see images for thickness) and place in the freezer to set while you make the topping.
  3. To make the lemon topping, process the cashews, coconut and lemon rind until a super-fine crumb forms, taking care not to over-process into butter. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
  4. Remove the base from the freezer and top with the lemon cream, using the back of a dessert spoon to smooth. Top with extra shredded coconut and allow to set in the fridge for an hour or so.
  5. Once set, cut into 4 large bars or 8 squares. I would say one square is a good sized portion for a snack.

Notes:

  • The quantities above yield enough to fill half a normal slice tray (4 full sized bars or 8 small squares). If you want to make a full sized slice recipe –and fill the tin– simply double the ingredients.
  • If you like your slice extra lemony, try adding zest of 1/2 lemon to the biscuit base.
  • For a gluten free version, replace the oats with buckwheat groats or gluten free oats (depending what your stance on GF oats is).
  • Ingredients marked with an asterisk* are higher in FODMAPs than the others. As such, this recipe is relatively low in FODMAPs, but it is not FODMAP free. Modify the quantities to suit your tolerance levels.

Happy Nourishing! Ax

image

Toasted Almond, Coconut & Chocolate Granola

IMG_3090IMG_3092
Granola is just one of those foods that makes me salivate.

The
 warm flavours, the sweetness, the wonderful texture and, of course, that irresistible crunch. It just gets me every time.

I think I was in year 7 when my mum first brought home the newest addition to the Kellogg’s breakfast cereal range, Crunchy Nut Clusters. Those peanut and ‘honey’ (sugar, molasses and vegetable oil) coated cornflakes teamed with deliciously crunchy clusters of oats, puffed wheat and coconut (and yep, more sugar, molasses and vegetable oil) became not only my brekkie bowl filler, but also my mid-morning, afternoon and pre-bedtime snack by the handful. I had every right to go through four boxes of this golden blessedness a week because Crunchy Nut Clusters were clearly less sugary than the Froot Loops and Frosty Flakes many of my friends still ate, and they were made with healthy ingredients like corn, oats, honey and nuts. I was so on my way to getting healthy and losing all my puppy fat quickly, all while eating something so damn tasty. YEAH!

Much to my horror, the so-called puppy fat not only stuck around, but started to soar. Thankfully, I slowly grew older and wiser. I learned that just because something is manufactured from a vegetable, that does not necessarily make it healthy (but what do you mean vegetable oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup aren’t good for you?!)  and I began reading labels (why doesn’t the front of the box mention anything about the cereal being covered in sugar, molasses and oil as well as honey?!)

It took a while, but I started to become aware of marketing gimmicks and misleading advertising. After a year, my beloved Crunchy Nut Clusters were replaced by Sultana Bran Crunch after a year. Ah, the ignorance. Still, it was a move in the right direction, and at least I wasn’t eating Honey Joys disguised as a breakfast cereal anymore.

For those of you who are more or less like me, buying packaged granola poses two main problems:

  1. Mainstream granola brands packed with different forms of sugar, preservatives and other additives and provide little to no nutritional value.
  2. They’re very rarely fructose-friendly: pre-packaged granola always contains either loads of honey, dried fruit or both, which makes them indigestible for my fellow fructose malabsorbers. Even the ‘healthier’ granola alternatives available at health food stores are made with with high-fructose sweeteners like agave and dried fruit.

I’ve been avoiding pre-packaged granola and toasted muesli for several years now. The thought of sweet, crunchy clusters of puffed grain heaven still excites me, but I’ve never come across one that’s healthy enough to eat regularly. And so, I’m more of an egg gal these days.

The other week, however, my love for granola was reignited. I was in the cereal aisle of Coles, looking at Carman’s muesli for my sister when I saw them. Carman’s Crunchy Clusters with Honey Roasted Nuts. I was immediately taken back to my mornings in early high school when I’d eat two bowls of candied greatness and drink the leftover pool of sweet milk afterward. My salivary glands started going mental as I viewed the large oaty clumps and golden roasted nuts through the heart-shaped plastic window on the box. I threw the box into my trolley without giving it a second thought or reading any labels. My sister just had to try it. Not me, my sister. I was getting it for my sister.

I ripped open the box the second I got home and started shovelling handfuls of the stuff into my mouth as if it were popcorn. Everything about the granola was lip-smacking. The wording on the box was spot on: I absolutely did “adore these crunchy muesli clusters with almonds, hazelnuts and pecans, buzzing with trickles of honey and a hint of vanilla!” The granola was also “fruit free, Low GI, high in fibre and full of wholegrain goodness”. It all sounded too good to be true. I soon realised it was, but it was all too late. After my snacking straight from the box for three days, the box was empty. I don’t think my sister ever got to touch it. I read the label more closely just before I threw the box into the recycling. I was shocked.

Carman’s is usually one of the more wholesome and cleaner cereal brands available at supermarkets. They usually sweeten their products with a little honey instead of sugar, and while this makes their products unsuitable for most FructMal sufferers, at least it’s better than nearly all other cereal boxes for most people. This is why I was shocked when I read the Carman’s Crunchy Clusters ingredients list. After the oats and nuts, raw sugar comes in as the third ingredient, making it even more predominant than supposed primary ingredients like puffed rice and pepitas! And that’s before the honey is added. That’s a lot of added sugar! I did some quick calculations and became aware that I’d consumed just shy of 70g of added sugar over a few days from the granola aloneThat’s nearly EIGHTEEN teaspoons of added sugar, which equates to almost NINE teaspoons of pure fructose! No bloody wonder why it tasted so good. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Carman’s would rightfully argue that you’re not supposed to eat the entire box over just a few sittings, hence their “serves 11” guideline. I would argue that if you make something taste that freaking awesome, you’re asking people to eat the entire box over a single sitting.

Healthy or not, I’d gotten a taste for granola again. I tried so hard to forget about it, but we all know that telling ourselves not to crave something usually leads us to craving it all the more. The human psyche is a treacherous beast. To crush my cravings once and for all, I came up with this scrumptious granola recipe, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. My Toasted Almond, Coconut and Chocolate Granola has all that wonderful crunch, so much full-bodied flavour and just the right amount of fructose-friendly sweetness. If Coco Pops and Crunchy Nut Clusters decided to have a lovechild and it were born healthy, this would be it.

IMG_3083IMG_3088 IMG_3084IMG_3089IMG_3085 IMG_3091IMG_3087
Toasted Almond, Coconut and Chocolate Granola

Serves 12 (1/2 cup servings)
Dietary Information:
wheat free, vegan-friendly, refined sugar free, dairy free, fructose-friendly, low FODMAP. Contains gluten (Oats – see notes for GF alternative) and nuts.

Ingredients

Muesli mixture:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded/flaked coconut
  • 1 cup puffed brown rice or rice crisps (I use 1/2 cup of each for varied textures)
  • 1 cup activated plain buckinis (activated buckwheat. I used Loving Earth brand)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup of your favourite raw nuts, roughly chopped (I use a combination of almonds, walnuts, pecans and macadamias)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs (optional – If you’re not a fan of cacao nibs, don’t use them because their flavour can be quite dominating)

Chocolate mixture:

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 15-20 drops liquid stevia, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp  Himalayan sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150*C and grease a large baking tray with a little coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all “muesli mixture” ingredients, except the shredded coconut.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the maple syrup, cacao and cinnamon and stir until all combined. Bring to the boil and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until the liquid is fully incorporated. Sweeten further with stevia to taste, if needed.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry muesli mixture and stir gently until all dry ingredients are evenly coated. There should be enough ‘wet’ mixture to completely cover the muesli.
  5. Spread mixture evenly over the greased tray. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, then remove and stir. Add the dried coconut and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. The granola will continue to crisp up after you take it out of the oven, so don’t worry if it’s still a little wet or soft.
  6. Allow to cool completely before transferring to air-tight containers or large glass jars. The granola will remain fresh for 1-2 weeks if stored in a cool place, away from sunlight.
Notes and serving suggestions: 
  • For an indulgent weekend treat or breakfast entertaining, serve with cinnamon-grilled banana, organic full-fat or coconut yoghurt, fresh berries and a large drizzle of chocolate ‘sauce’, as pictured. To make the grilled banana, simply cut a large ripe banana length-ways, sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon and place under an oven grill. Grill until the natural sugars in the banana start to caramelise and bubble. Remove immediately and serve while still hot. To make the ‘sauce’, combine 1 tsp natural smooth peanut butter, 1 tsp raw cacao powder, 1 tsp melted coconut oil and a few drops of liquid stevia.
  • Use the granola to make a layered Chia Pudding Parfait, another quick, easy and effective breakfast entertaining idea.
  • For a nourishing breakfast, serve with organic full fat or coconut yoghurt, your choice of milk (I love Pure Harvest’s coconut-rice milk) and fresh strawberries.
  • Serve on top of healthy banana ‘ice cream’ (frozen banana blended with a little natural peanut butter) for a great post-workout meal or snack.
  • Portion into little snap-lock bags for a super tasty and nourishing trail mix to nibble on between meals and satisfy late-arvo chocolate cravings.
  • For a gluten-free version, simply replace the oats with 1 cup extra puffed brown rice or rice crisps, 1/2 cup extra shredded coconut and 1/2 cup extra plain buckinis.
Happy Nourishing!
Ax

IMG_3082IMG_3086 IMG_3081

Deliciously Ugly: Chewy Choc Nutter Bars

IMG_3062

A million different ingredients. 3 different mixtures to be made. One processor. Go!
Measure all ingredients. Take first lot. Sift these, melt those. Process together. Taste and adjust. Freeze for 2 hours. Clean processor. Process next batch of ingredients. Taste and adjust. Pour onto first frozen layer. Freeze for half an hour. Clean processor. Melt some of this, mash some of that. Process. Taste. Pour over the second frozen layer and freeze. Clean processor and the rest of your bomb-site kitchen.

It’s no secret that I like to make things out of food. In My Ideal World, I’d happily spend entire days floating around the kitchen, cooking, creating, decorating. And eating.
Still, even I can admit that making healthy desserts and clean sweet treats can be pretty bloody arduous and time-consuming. So much so that I often just don’t bother with them unless I’m recipe testing or making something for an occasion. Complicated and meticulously presented desserts, whether healthy or not, take patience, time and an excessive willingness to clean the same gadgets over and over. So, while I love my intricately layered sweet treats in all their pretty glory, sometimes the fuss-free uglies are way more appealing than their photo-worthy counterparts. How do Cadbury describe their Picnic bars again? Deliciously Ugly? Nearly all the best tasting recipes are…

So here’s a recipe that looks like a chocolate bar, smells like a chocolate bar, gives you that sugar fix like a chocolate bar, and, yep, tastes like a chocolate bar. EXCEPT it’ll only take you 5 minutes to make, and while your taste buds are fooled into thinking you’re eating a chocolate bar, your insides with be thanking you for impregnating it with healthful fats, powerful antioxidants, wholegrains, fiber, iron, selenium (helps to reduce the risk of common diseases), manganese (helps the body to synthesize fats and benefits nervous system function), copper (support for brain function), Vitamin-E and a range of Vitamin-B complexes.

Please don’t be afraid to use your imagination with this one. The recipe is super basic, and it would be pretty hard to go wrong. You can experiment with different nut butters and add puffed quinoa or buckinis for texture and crunch. A chocolate ‘ganache’ made of coconut oil (or a little organic butter if you eat dairy), cacao, stevia and a little maple syrup would be scrumptioua on top, too!

 IMG_3063IMG_3066 IMG_3060

Chewy Choc Nutter Bars

Makes 10 bars or 20 bite-sized squares.
Dietary info: gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, vegan, fructose-friendly, low FODMAP, refined-sugar free. Contains grains and peanuts.

Ingredients: 
  • 2.5 cups brown rice crispies (not “puffed brown rice” as they go soggy!)
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 3.5-4 tbs raw cacao powder
  • 4 tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 7 drops liquid stevia
  • Pinch Himalayan sea salt
Method:
  1. Line a square slice tin with baking paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the puffed brown rice and shredded coconut.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the peanut butter, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, stevia, vanilla, cacao powder and salt.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry mixture. Stir gently until the rice puffs and coconut are coated evenly and everything sticks together.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly, ensuring that the slice is tightly compacted. Set in the freezer for 1 hour. Use a sharp knife to cut slab into desired sizes. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to eat it. I prefer it kept in the freezer as it stays firmer and goes chewier. If kept correctly, I’m assuming that the slice would last weeks in the freezer, though I put emphasis on ‘assuming’ because these things never last more than a few days in my household.
Notes:
  • The peanut butter can be substituted with any other textured nut butter: almond, brazil, ABC etc.
  • Instead of eating as a ‘slice’, you can roll the mixture into ping pong-sized balls and wrap in glad wrap before freezing to make a portioned and guilt free snack, ready to grab when you’re on the go and sugar cravings strike!IMG_3061 IMG_3065 IMG_3058 IMG_3067 IMG_3059 IMG_3057IMG_3068

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.

IMG_4305

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

IMG_4213 IMG_4310 IMG_4307 IMG_4309 IMG_4313 IMG_4311 IMG_4312 IMG_4314

Cheat’s Mexican Quinoa-Stuffed Capsicums

IMG_4057 IMG_4052 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.IMG_4047 IMG_4048 IMG_4049 IMG_4053 IMG_4051 IMG_4056 IMG_4055 IMG_4054 IMG_4058

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. 

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.

Happy Nourishing!

Ax

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…

imageimage image image image

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

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…
IMG_3262IMG_3266 IMG_3259 IMG_3258 IMG_3261 IMG_3257 IMG_3260 IMG_3254

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