It’s funny, when your kid first starts eating food (the solid stuff) it’s kind of amazing. Misty would eat anything…. pureed spinach & broccoli, my kooky millet-creations, home made teething rusks, you name it, the kid would eat it. Then it’s like a switch goes off around the 2 year mark, and your previously “I will eat ANYthing,” child turns into Fussy Mr. NoIDon’tWantAnyTypeOfSauceToEvenGoAnywhereNearMyRice. Frustrating.
Some days, Misty doesn’t eat. Oh, he will DRINK close to anything, but eat any solid food? You’re joking, right? Thank goodness for smoothies – I can blend anything into one and he will guzzle it down…ask the boy to chew though, and you are just tempting a tantrum. I suppose it’s an age thing – Misty has realised his own decision-making power, and is beginning to work out what he does and does not like. Perfectly normal and acceptable. I think kids actually have a really good grasp on intuitive eating – they eat when they are hungry and reject stuff they don’t like/are not hungry for. I really don’t get that “You will sit at the table until you finish EVERYTHING” mentality. Yes, of course kids need boundaries, but force feeding a toddler is not my style….. Misty will eat when he is hungry enough.
Misty is a grazer…. he prefers to have a bunch of snacks during the day instead of 3 set meals. Suits me, as that’s the way my eating-style rolls too. When he does decide to eat, I try and get as much nutritional value in as possible….. the following cake/slice has been a big hit. It’s high in protein and good fats, low in sugar and even involves some fruit.
The cake itself is not vegan – Misty (and Viper, on occasion) eats eggs, but the icing/frosting is vegan-friendly. I would highly recommend making a double batch of icing, and eating it as “fudge” on it’s own – when it is chilled it goes wonderfully firm. I’ll take icing over cake ANY day…. or maybe I’m just the fussy one?
Cinnamon-Raisin Cake with Carob-Peanut Fudge Frosting
(Grain/Wheat/Gluten/Dairy/Refined sugar free)
- 2C almond meal
- 2t ground cinnamon
- 1/4C rapadura sugar (or your favourite granulated sugar)
- 1/8t sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1C apple puree
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1t baking powder
- 1/2C raisins
- Pre heat oven to 170 degrees, fan bake.
- Whisk together eggs, vanilla and sugar.
- Combine almond meal, cinnamon, salt, and raisins in a mixing bowl.
- Add wet mix to dry, and finally fold through baking powder
- Pour into a lined baking dish, or silicone mould. I use a silicone pie dish which results in a cake that isn’t too high – around 2cm. If you want a smaller, higher cake, you may need to adjust the cooking time – just insert a skewer in the middle, when it comes out clean it is done.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool the cake completely before icing with the following recipe.
Carob Peanut Fudge Frosting
(Vegan:Gluten/Wheat/Grain/Refined sugar free)
- 1/4C soft coconut oil
- 1/4C peanut butter (I used crunchy, unsalted)*
- 1/8t sea salt (if using unsalted peanut butter)
- 1t vanilla extract
- 3T carob powder**
- 1T hot water
- 3T brown rice syrup***
*If you have a peanut sensitivity, tahini is a delicious substitution.
**Cocoa/cacao can be used instead.
***Or your favourite liquid sweetener – maply syrup, honey, coconut nectar etc.
- Mix all ingredients together well – the hot water will help get things moving.
- Spread on top of cake – or eat as is….. use as a topping for oatmeal, spread on fruit slices/toast/rice crackers. This fudge frosting will be soft at room temperature, but if you chill it, will firm up so it is more of a “fudgey” texture.
That little head in the background agreed with this offering. Hoo-ray.
Do you have a fussy child? Or are YOU the fussy one in your household!? If we are being honest here – I’m probably WAY more fussy than Misty, but I’m the adult here, right? I have ways of defending myself!
So. Here we are again. I’ve written a post like this before, however, it doesn’t get any easier.
I suppose it’s my need for authenticity that motivates me to write this, because I could so easily keep on as if everything is just fine and dandy – which, it is, mind you – but it’s good to be honest, yes?
It’s become pretty clear to me now that I cannot function without anti depressants. Although on most paths within my life I tend to gravitate toward to the “all-natural-hippie-weirdo,” kind of trail, with my emotional health, natural therapy doesn’t quite cut the mustard. I am pretty positive that certain cases of circumstantial or mild Depression could definitely be treated effectively with natural therapies such as Homoeopathy, supplements, exercise, diet, Bush Flower Essences, TCM and so on, but in my circumstances we are not dealing with a one-off case of low mood.
This is hard to say, but I feel it is important to share. I change when I am not medicated – I become a person that I don’t like. Angry, erratic, irritable, irrational, and honestly, sometimes downright delusional – and this doesn’t coincide with being a good Mother, wife, friend and so on. Although I understand the harsh side effects of anti depressant medication, at the end of the day I will always choose quality of life over quantity, and the quality of my life un-medicated is simply too low to warrant.
So my experiments with finding a natural therapy to treat my Depression & Anxiety have to cease. The last year has been an absolute roller coaster – not just for me, but my family, and putting them through that is pretty unfair to be honest. On medication I am at least stable, and I can supplement with plenty of natural therapies to help me stay on the brighter side of life – yoga, meditation, flower essences, homoeopathy, exercise and diet will ALL play an important role.
It’s the same sort of message that I keep emphasising in terms of diet: every BODY is different, and what works for one person, may not be the best thing for another. Body, mind, spirit – they are all connected, and it truly is a very individual journey to discover what will work for ME to remained balanced and happy.
You may wonder why I share all of this. The inner-workings of my mind, and the struggles I have with all that chemistry and emotion that simmers up there. I share because it helps me – writing about it is my therapy – always has been, and always will be. Emotional health and mental issues are things that need to be talked about, experiences shared, and problems discussed. That’s how we manage to get a leash on it, and try and tame it into somewhat submission. This is how we (I) move forward.
Staying with the theme of SIMPLE, this bread definitely fits the bill. I think a lot of people don’t bother making bread because of the preparation (read: physical kneading) that goes into it. Sometimes, I find kneading bread to be rather satisfying, but the rate we go through loaves in this house is a bit ridiculous – I do NOT want to be a slave to the bashing and shaping of dough for the duration of my life.
I’ll be honest with you – I’m not a bread person. Whatsoever. Sandwiches? Meh. The only time I went through a bread-obsession was when I was pregnant (and all I could stomach was bread & cheese). After Misty made an appearance, my need for bread disappeared. Viper, however, lives for the stuff. There is a panic if the bread bin is empty. He has declared this the “best bread EVER” – which I take as a very good thing. Apparently, the test of a great bread, is the ability to eat it alone, sans ANY toppings. Viper is definitely an experienced bread-taster, that’s for sure.
The reason that I love this bread is that it is so simple to prepare – mix a few ingredients together, leave it alone to do it’s thing, and then bang it in the oven. You just need to get into the habit of preparing the mix to sit overnight, and then you will have a little bread-making rota on your hands. Even though I use wheat flour for this recipe – the fact that it is slightly fermented will make it easier on the body to digest, as well as giving it a little of that delicious sourdough-style flavour.
Simple No-Knead Vegan Loaf
- 3C organic unbleached plain flour* (plus more for dusting)
- 1 & 5/8C tepid water
- 1/4t active dry yeast
- 1t sea salt
- 1/4t raw sugar
- Olive oil for greasing bowls/hands
*Now I have been using a few different flour blends for this recipe. Viper has less “healthy-tasting-taste buds” than me, and prefers all organic white flour, but I have had success with using 2C spelt flour + 1C organic white wheat flour blend. 1C organic wholemeal + 1C organic rye + 1C organic white wheat flour works well too. Play around with what suits your tastes.
You need two greased bowls to start off with. One for mixing, and then one for storing the dough while it proves. Coat both bowls (the one that will hold the dough needs to be glass/pyrex/ceramic) with oil – this mixture is VERY sticky. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Transfer as much as you can (it tends to stick to the side of the mixing bowl) to the other bowl, wet a clean tea towel with warm water, and wring out. Place on top of the bowl, and put the bowl of dough somewhere dark, warm and draught free for approximately 20 hours, or until the mix starts to smell a little sour, and has small bubbles on the skin (as pictured below).
Now you need to really flour your work surface WELL here – this mix is incredibly sticky.
Oil your hands before you do anything here. With greased mitts, scrape as much dough as you can onto the floured surface. No kneading here – simply flop the dough over itself a few times (in half one way, and then in half the other – or whatever you can manage, really).
The trick is: lots of flour on the board, and lots of oil on the hands. Shape into something resembling a loaf.
Now leave your loaf for another 30 minutes, covered with a tea towel on the bench. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees on bake. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
*I have never bothered using a bread tin for this loaf – I simply use a silicone baking sheet so the dough doesn’t stick (baking paper would work too). The bread does not really rise like a traditional loaf – the end result is something in between a sourdough and a ciabatta. If you want a higher finished product, you could prepare 1 & 1/2 times this recipe and pour into a bread pan.
So there you have it – a loaf of bread that makes both myself and Viper very happy – for two different reasons. I also love the fact that I can make beautiful, additive-free, organic bread for my family for less than a few dollars a loaf…. while putting in very minimal effort (Yeah, I’m pretty lazy).
Who broke the cookies from the cookie jar? MISTY broke the cookies from the cookie jar. Argh.
Anyway, a few days ago, I was inspired to make cookies. Cookies aren’t my favourite thing to make, and so I rarely partake in the art. This day was different though – I was playing around with spelt flour, and felt the urge to make cookies. Misty generally loves anything “cookie” shape, so I thought I would make us all a treat, while trying out a new flour. Spelt flour was an impulse buy – no real dietary reason for the purchase, I simply wanted to try something new. Spelt still contains gluten, but is apparently more easily digested, and is higher in protein & B vitamins than traditional wheat.
These cookies turned out really nicely – they are amazing straight out of the oven (aren’t all cookies?) but after two days (I know, how did chocolate chunk cookies last that long in my house?) they had dried out a bit. Misty decided to swipe the whole container off the bench, smashing them to pieces. Bugger.
It’s no secret I hate to waste food, so if you you hang around until the end of the post, I will tell you how to create something delicious from a toddler-induced disaster.
Vegan Chocolate Chunk Spelt Cookies
(Vegan, wheat/nut/refined sugar free)
- 1 & 1/8C white spelt flour *
- 1/8t sea salt
- 1t baking powder
- 100g dark chocolate, cut into chunks
- 1/2C soft coconut oil – soft, not liquid (place in the fridge if necessary)
- 1/3C brown rice syrup (or alternative liquid sweetener)
- 1t vanilla extract
*If you are gluten sensitive, almond meal would be a good substitution here.
- Pre heat oven to 170 degrees C fan bake. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Combine flour, baking powder, chocolate and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Whip together rice syrup, vanilla and honey until well combined.
- Fold wet mix into dry, and either using clean, wet hands or spoons – shape into cookie shapes and place on your prepared tray.
- Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Best eaten within 2 days of making.
After eating about 1/2 of the batch, Misty (destroyer of all things) decided to take his frustration out on the remaining baked goods. Disaster. There is no denying the delicious-ness of cookies, even in crumb-form, so I decided to re-purpose them into a fudge-type slice. Obviously, you don’t need to make the spelt cookies just to try out the fudge recipe – use any cookies you like/have on hand.
Cookie Crumb Fudge
(Vegan, wheat/nut/refined sugar free)
- 2C cookie crumbs/broken cookie pieces (obviously, the flavour of the end fudge will vary according to what cookies you use)
- 1/2C kefir*
- 4T coconut butter
*I used coconut kefir, but if you eat dairy, cow milk kefir would be fine. Alternatively you could use 1/2C non dairy or dairy yoghurt to get the pro biotic factor into your fudge. 1/3C milk plus 2 pro biotic capsules would also work.
- Pulse everything together in a food processor until it forms a soft dough.
- Press into a lined tin, and place in the fridge to set.
- Cut into small squares and store in the fridge.
It may look ugly, but I tell you, it’s delicious. Even better than plain cookies. A little pro biotic sneakiness is always a good thing too – I can never convince Viper to eat kefir on it’s own or in a smoothie – but in fudge? No worries.
Ego is a funny thing.
I’m learning a lot about myself at the moment, and in doing so, have started to address some ‘issues of the ego.’ Sounds complicated, but really it’s not. If we feed our ego, we starve our spirit, simple as that. If we feed our spirit (soul) we starve our ego, and in turn that makes it weak and have less of an impact in our lives. Easier said than done, that’s for sure. The ego always wants MORE – more money, more stuff, fancier clothes, faster cars, more friends, more success, more applause. It’s a beast who cannot be tamed, nor satisfied – forever on your shoulder whispering words of excess.
Society doesn’t really make it easy for us to let go of our ego. I think that’s why Face Book gets me so annoyed some days. Viper refuses to go anywhere near it, and on most points, I agree with him – it does however, have it’s connectivity and marketing positives, but that’s another story. Is Face Book simply another platform to stuff our egos to the brim? To get instant “likes,” for something we did/said/made/achieved? To have X amount of “friends?”
I guess ‘putting yourself out there,’ in the sense of blogging is a true test of real intention – not letting your ego get in the way of what you would like to achieve. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others (what the rest of the world is up to is pretty much in your face 24-7 on the internet) but I want to remain true to myself and the reasons I blog. Blogging for me is therapy – a place to write, share and also connect with other like minded souls…. but I admit, my ego gets in the way sometimes.
Do you know what? It doesn’t matter how many “likes” you get on Face Book, how many miles you ran this morning, how many people read your blog, or how many green leaves you managed to eat for dinner – it doesn’t matter in the slightest. If your intention is pure, and you are doing something for YOURSELF, and not your ego, then all is well. If you need a response, gratification or attention, then it’s safe to say that you are probably acting for your ego, and not YOURSELF (or somebody else, with pure intention, of course).
Honestly, my ego has been a little loud lately (demanding to be fed) and I can attribute a lot of negative feelings coming from that constant strain on my spirit. I’m definitely up for a little more “ego-checking,” at the moment – once you get in the habit, it’s amazing how freeing it feels.
Are you an ego-feeder?
So Misty finally discovered chocolate, this Easter past. After managing to avoid it up till now, I decided not to be a Scrooge (Easter Scrooge?) and let him indulge. It was however, 70% dark vegan chocolate – yes yes, Misty has good taste indeed. I think we have a chocolate fan on our hands.
Now everything chocolate-coloured is described as “Cock-o-Lat Buddy,” or in layman’s terms, “Chocolate Bunny.” There have been multiple demands for Cock-o-Lat Buddy as of late, and so I came up with this little snack bar which is perfect for the lunch box as it is nut free, plus satisfies a toddler-craving for Cock-o-Lat Buddy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about treats – I just don’t like the ones that contain numbers instead of FOOD, and cause my child to bounce off the walls for hours on end. Let’s just say that Misty is a highly spirited boy who does not need any more stimulation in the form of sugar in his life thankyouverymuch.
I love Whittaker’s chocolate – good old New Zealand confectionery. Their dark varieties are usually vegan which suits us just fine. Yes, I took a decent stash home in my suitcase after our recent trip – and have even convinced Viper that dark chocolate has some merits. (He who would only indulge in the lightest of light milk chocolate).
I didn’t add any sweetener to this recipe – I figure the small amount of sugar in the chocolate I used, plus almost a cup of dried fruit would do the trick, and it did. If you are a super sweet tooth, then a few tablespoons of a granulated sweetener such as rapadura, coconut crystals or raw sugar would work.
Chocolate Oat Brownie Bars
(Vegan: wheat/nut/refined sugar free)
- 2/3C oat flour
- 2/3C sunflower seed meal/flour
- 1/4C quick oats
- 1T cocoa powder
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1/8t sea salt
- 1/3C dried banana, roughly chopped – if you don’t have banana, something like tart dried apricots or even cherries would be delicious.
- 1/3C dark raisins
- 50g dark (vegan) chocolate, chopped into chunks
- 3T liquid coconut oil
- 1C non dairy milk (I used full fat soy)
- 1/2t baking powder
- 1/8t baking soda
- 1 flax “egg” (1T ground flax seed whisked with 3T water, and left for 5 minutes to gel
- To make the oat & sunflower seed “flours” simply grind/whizz oats and sunflower seeds in your food processor or spice grinder – it doesn’t matter if it is left a tad chunky – this just means more texture in the final product.
- Pre heat oven to 170 degrees C.
- Whisk together your flax egg, and leave it aside to gel while you prepare the dry ingredients.
- Combine oat & sunflower flour in a mixing bowl with quick oats, cocoa, salt, raisins, banana, and chocolate. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl. combine non dairy milk, flax egg, coconut oil and vanilla extract – again, mix well.
- Pour wet into dry, and finally add your baking soda and powder, gently folding through.
- Line a slice tin with baking paper(approx 15 by 30cm tin – if you use a larger/smaller pan you will need to adjust cooking time) and carefully pour in the mix. I wanted thin bars, so the mix is only about 2cm high in the pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes – it will feel firm(ish) to the touch.
- Cool completely in the pan before attempting to move – even popping it in the fridge is a good idea before trying to cut it into bars, otherwise you may end up with a pile of crumbs.
These were approved by both the toddler and the newbie to plant-based-eating (Viper). Chocolate always seems to be a winner, no? I dearly wish I could taste these – actually I dearly wish that I could taste ANYTHING – the season of cold & flu is upon us, and has struck me down with speed and ferocity already. 10 days of illness (and no taste buds) and counting. Eating really is extremely boring when you are unable to taste ANYTHING. Very very frustrating, and so I have to rely on the male members on my family to judge my kitchen experiments as the moment. These were a win.
Sometimes it take quite awhile to realise you are not happy. To ‘go through the motions,’ day after day, but not quite put two & two together that something is not right? It’s like the sadness can sneak up on you – sneakily chipping away at the happy until not enough remains. By then, it’s kind of too late.
I suppose that’s what happened to me. Being busy, over-committing myself and the likes – it’s hard not to realise that the joy has slipped away. I don’t want to get you all down in the dumps, because that’s not the motivation for my writing – I simply want to encourage you all to become more mindful. Mindful of the way you are feeling, acknowledgement of yourself, if you will. I tend to ignore myself at times – putting my roles as a Mother & wife before my own well-being, which sounds pretty darn silly as I read it back to myself.
Ignorance truly is bliss – until it’s too late and you find yourself in a deep dark hole of unhappy.
At least I have a “project,” to keep me motivated at the moment. Viper is, still indeed, eating a plant-based diet. He doesn’t want to label himself in any way, but has been eating primarily vegan, with a few seafood-occasions included. Luckily, he is pretty comfortable in the kitchen, and he has been coming up with a few new favourites for himself. (Above) Vegan “brushcetta” – home made no-knead bread with avocado, hummus and sun dried tomato.
Quinoa nori wraps with avocado, grated carrot, sweet potato and red capsicum – sprinkled with kelp.
I’m not sure about kelp granules. They are another one of those things you eat “because they are good for you,” – they don’t have that much flavour and get stuck in my teeth. Oh well.
The best thing is, Viper doesn’t need any pushing from me. His whole decision to eat a plant based diet, and subsequent lifestyle changes are his choice, in his own time. I was always asked about how hard it must be to eat vegan in a meat-eating household, and why I didn’t try and convert my family to my ways. That’s the thing – you simply can’t. If you try and force your ideals on others, it’s all going to backfire in the end – just set a good example and hope for the best!
At the end of the day, getting back on the happy-wagon is way more important.
I felt the need to write today. I’ve been taking a hiatus from blogging – it all got too much for awhile there. Life is pretty hectic in itself without feeling as if you need to post something to your blog. So I just stopped. Oh, and guess what? The world kept turning, the sun kept shining, and the wine tasted just as sweet.
A bit of time off helps with the whole “perspective,” thing – especially as the blogging sphere tends to get a little claustrophobic at the best of times. The thing is, I like to keep things REAL – and the amount of mindless crap out there in the world is rather mind boggling. It’s hard not to get upset when you feel as if your message is being stifled by the immense amount of product-pushing-scare-mongering-mainstream-slop that is about. A wise creative-soul conversed with me on this topic, and shared that by comparing oneself with others, we are actually sabotaging our own creative mojo – which is where I ended up. Uninspired and feeling like I had nothing of interest to share.
I miss writing though, and I miss those that like to read what I write. Thanks to the lovely folk who emailed me in my absence – your thoughts were little rays of sunshine.
Writing is my therapy – whether it be mindlessly making up recipes, or blabbing on about some aspect of small-child-wrangling, it’s like a release for me, because, honestly – I struggle with life on a daily basis. Life is tough, and although I am blessed beyond what I deserve, I still battle with an underlying sadness that some days feels like I am walking through a bog.
There is always light though, should you push yourself to look for it. And I’m getting there. Slowly. Less pressure, less expectations, and less stress. Sounds like a plan.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about my health/healing experiments – so I’d thought I’d do a little update. I’m pleased to say that it’s been over 6 weeks since coming of conventional anti depressants – and I actually feel like I am in a good place. I’ve found during other past attempts at withdrawing from ADs, that I usually feel good up to this point, and then at around the 6 week mark, experience a huge mood crash (probably as the drugs would still be somewhat in my system up to this point).
Through healing with homoeopathy I have had a significantly different experience this time. I have been through a few “aggravations” or healing crisis, which have brought up a lot of past symptoms/ailments – both physical AND emotional – but that has happened for a reason…. it’s all a part of the healing process you see. I suppose the ADs have been masking a lot of symptoms, and it’s perfectly natural that they come up and are addressed head-on during this journey. I actually feel as if I am moving forward this time – not teetering in a fragile place between falling back into AD-use or emotional turmoil.
Anyway, I truly feel that I could not have done this without the support of homoeopathy – I am definitely a convert of this therapy. I KNOW I will continue to use it myself, and treat my family with remedies.
Another aspect of my healing process has been (obviously) diet – I haven’t written much about my recent diet-experiments since my little foray in an 80/10/10 style of eating. I really loved the fruitarian way of eating for a short period of time – unlimited fruit during Summer came naturally as the abundance of delicious tropical fruits made the diet very easy. For the first few weeks my energy was excellent, but this way of eating didn’t have staying power for much longer than that in my opinion. After an initial energy boost, my endurance started to wane, and I began noticing other not-so-glamorous side effects of the fruit-heavy eats. My digestion started to go a little “off” and I noticed dark circles under my eyes. I began to see WRINKLES! Oh the horror! I put this down to the low amounts of fat I was eating, and rectified the situation immediately – as soon as I had increased the amounts of fat I was eating (primarily coconut oil) my digestion became more productive, and my skin texture improved immensely.
All in all I think that the 80/10/10 diet is a great way to eat for short periods of time. If you are like me, and cannot comprehend the idea of a liquid detox (juices only) then I reckon that this is a perfect way to help “re-set” yourself after a period of indulgence. The initial stage is brilliant – increased energy, good mood/skin/digestion – but it isn’t something that (in my opinion) should be sustained for more than say 2 weeks. If you read my blog a lot, you will know that I have the attention span of a squirrel, so even though I love fruit a LOT, I did get a little bored eating in the 80/10/10 style. I missed COOKING, and all the techniques and dishes that go with the territory – plus I love to eat out, and the restrictions that this diet involves really cuts out a lot of options in social situations.
Anyway, to help me feel motivated and creatively inspired (aka happy) I need more food-scope then just slicing an apple or peeling a banana (however convenient that may be). I’ve naturally fallen back into a more varied style of eating – a balance of cooked and raw – lots of fruit & veggies, moderate beans/legumes, minimal grains and lots of fat. Works for me (until I get bored once again and go off on another eating-tangent).
The most exciting news of late (diet related) however, doesn’t concern me at all. After (finally) agreeing to watch “Forks over Knives,” with me, Viper has decided to adopt a plant-based diet. He has cut out all animal products, including cheese and milk – to say I am over the moon is the understatement of the year. I am going to keep you all updated with his transition into a vegan diet, as I think the male perspective is an interesting angle – at the moment his only complaint is that he is constantly hungry – good thing I love to cook, right?
The following recipe came about from me trying to use up scraps before we head off to New Zealand – fridge scrapings at it’s finest. It’s a take on the traditional kofta ball – although not deep fried (soaked in oil), because I can’t stand deep fried things, plus I don’t have a deep fryer. There you go.
Healthy Baked Kofta
(Vegan: gluten/wheat/soy/seed/refined sugar free)
- 1C chopped veggies (I used grated carrot and broccoli – but most vegetables should work just fine…. grate any root vegetables so they cook quickly)
- 1/4C + 2T chickpea flour
- 1/4C crushed cashew nuts (I just bashed them in a mortar & pestle until they reached a chunky bread crumb consistency)
- 1/2t ground cumin
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2t tabasco sauce
- 1t whole grain mustard
- 1/4t ground coriander seed
- 1/8t sea salt
- 1/4C water
- Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Let mix stand in the fridge for about 10 minutes to help it firm up.
- Wet hands, and pat into balls (about golf size).
- Bake in the oven at 160 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn balls over.
- Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- Serve with some of my Spiced Apricot Relish, or a nice mango chutney.
Makes 6 Kofta – they are quite spicy, so omit cayenne and tabasco if you are not fan of heat.
These are really quick and easy – plus a great way of using up leftovers – which always makes me happy.
So on all fronts, things are looking good – my emotional health is on the up, and my family’s diet is improving 10-fold. I’m so excited to be able to cook ONE meal for all of us now – plus exploring vegan food WITH Viper will be such a treat.
I’ve been a bit lazy this week, not much enthusiasm for blogging/being on the internet in general. Lack of mojo, I guess. Sometimes the internet/Face Book/blogging really annoys me (read: I get angry at the amount of mindless crap out there – in saying that perhaps I am contributing to said mindless crap right now). I hate advertising at the best of times, but some days it just feels as if social media/internet platforms are just huge webs of soul-less crap-mongering, feasting on the naivety of the confused and direction-less.
Talking with other creative souls, I realised a few things:
- The internet is a place where it is very easy to start comparing yourself to others.
- Comparing yourself to others is a FABULOUS way to lose motivation, creative flow and confidence.
- Not much is truly original these days.
- Don’t let your mission/creative process become confused with the influence of what others are doing.
- Sometimes tunnel-vision can be a really great thing.
Anyway, one of my favourite ways to lift mood/motivation is music. I have been thinking long and hard this week over what album to introduce you all to, and nothing really jumped out at me (that I wanted to write about). It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon, when I was embarking on the momentous kitchen scrub-down at my place of work (much motivational energy required) that I remembered an artist/album that I felt like listening to. The mark of good music for me, is a physical reaction. If I get an all-over-body-tingle from any kind of music, I know it’s a good thing – and this lady (the gorgeous creature pictured above)delivers.
It seems like the majority of my readers are women (if you are a man reading, I apologize, next week I’ll write about ZZ Top or Kyuss) and so this musical-interlude is definitely for the female soul. Maybe it’s because I’m excited about heading home next week as well - Bic Runga hails from my home town of Christchurch, and is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated female singer/song writers. I am just highlighting Bic as an artist, as ALL of her albums are stellar – she encompasses a variety of genres from folk-pop-country to soul/blues and then some.
One of her oldest tunes, from way back in ’97 is my all time favourite - Bursting Through.
Then again, classics likeDrive, Sway and Good Morning Baby never fail to go down a treat. I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting this (tiny) talented lady as a star-struck young teen – she was so down to earth and genuinely lovely which is refreshing in a small world crammed with large egos.
Makes me so proud – so much good music from my tiny little country of birth – makes for many more posts spot-lighting talented Kiwis, I’m sure of it. Definitely looking forward to getting back over there (however cold) in a few days.
Listening to a female singer-songwriter is sort of like a guilty indulgence for me (Viper snorts and mutters under his breath as I monopolise the stereo with featured music – men just don’t seem to ‘get it’) – it’s like a chocolate & red wine session when you are pre menstrual – a sensory experience that helps you “let go,” and in turn regain a little balance/motivation back into your life. Red wine, chocolate and good tunes – sounds like just the ticket to me.
Fermenting is getting “hip.” And so it should be, fermented food is magical.
Traditionally, fermented food was included at every meal – you just have to look at classic ethnic cuisines to see this – think sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yoghurt. It really does make sense – fermented food helps with digestion, and absorbing the nutrients of food readily into the body. Somewhere along the line, this practice fell out of being the “norm,” – but it is well on the way back to becoming mainstream, thanks to the growing popularity of store bought fermented foods.
So what are the health benefits? To avoid me clumsily regurgitating scientific jargon – just read this.
We all know that I am cheap, plus I love to experiment – home fermentation projects are constantly on the go in my house. Don’t be intimidated – it’s an easy process – and the scope to which you can extend your fermentation craze is limited only by your creativity. For some excellent ideas, check out this site.
Anyway, today’s post is all about kombucha – my first foray into “home brew” if you will…. I started brewing about 2 years ago, and it has been a constant (and almost obsessive) practise ever since. You will need a kombucha SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) to brew your own – put your feelers out – there will be some sort of hippie (!) in your neighbourhood brewing, I’ll bet. The great thing will kombucha-brewing is that every brew creates a new SCOBY, so you end up getting overwhelmed with the things (most brwers will be happy to get rid of a few) Otherwise they are easily available to purchase online, or you can grow your own from a store bought drink.
Basic Kombucha Brew
- 6C boiled water
- 6 black or green tea bags (organic) – or a mix of both*
- 2/3C raw, organic sugar**
- 1 kombucha SCOBY
- 1/2C kombucha tea
- Wide neck glass jar/container – sterilised.
- Cheesecloth/muslin/clean tea towel and a rubber band
- Place water, sugar and tea in a saucepan and bring to the boil – make sure the sugar has dissolved.
- Take off heat and wait until is has cooled completely (too hot and you will kill your SCOBY – think blood temperature)
- Remove tea bags, and gently pour mix into your prepared jar.
- Add the already-brewed kombucha tea and handling the SCOBY with clean hands, pop it on top (doesn’t matter if it sinks)
- Cover with cloth and secure with rubber band.
- Store in a warm, dark place – the time it takes to brew will depend on the temperature – in the midst of Summer, a brew can be as quick as 3 days, but up to 2 weeks in Winter. Using a straw (plastic/glass please) taste your brew every few days – it depends on your tastebuds too. I like my brew on the TANGY side rather than sweet, so I generally let it brew for longer, so that the bacteria eats away more of the sugar. It should be slightly fizzy too.
- Once satisfied with the taste, remove SCOBY and place in a “Scoby Hotel” (a clean jar – you can put multiple SCOBYs in the same jar) and cover with some of the kombucha tea – this keeps the SCOBY happy & alive. Place in the fridge, ready to use for the next brew.
- Store your kombucha in a glass bottle with a tight fitting lid (to keep in the fizz).
*Always use caffeinated tea – after you get used to the process, you can start to play around with adding herbal tea bags, but this is truly trial and error depending on the type of tea. My rule of thumb is 3 fruity tea bags to 3 caffeinated tea bags – even then I have had some failures.
** This is the type of “food” the SCOBY likes best – I have had moderate success with alternatives like rice syrup/honey, but raw organic sugar produces the fizziest and nicest tasting brews – and makes sure that your SCOBY remains healthy.
Other pointers: Exercise extreme hygiene practises – you don’t want to go adding in any nasties to your brew. Always handle the SCOBY with very clean hands and DO NOT touch the SCOBY with any metal utensil – use bamboo/ceramic/glass etc. Don’t be freaked out by the “bits” that tend to swim around in the brew – drink ‘em down, they are good for you (or don’t, whatever).
To fridge or not to fridge? For extra fizz, allow the sealed bottles to sit at room temperature for 24 hours until refrigerating.
Don’t stress about the amount of sugar used in the recipe – this is the FOOD for the bacteria – the longer you leave it to ferment, the less sugar there will be in the end product…. if you try and cut down the sugar, the end result will not be optimal.
Kombucha DOES have a very low alcohol content due to the fermentation process.
Now you have your brew sorted, you can start to play around with flavours. Adding flavouring during the first brew will increase the likelihood of mould or contamination of your SCOBY…. so don’t go trying to get funky before this point. Store your kombucha in glass bottles with tight fitting lids – try adding 1/8C fresh juice to 750ml kombucha brew – orange/apple/lemon/cranberry – whatever takes your fancy – or try my Ginger Tonic which is my favourite “medicine” when I’m under the weather.
Fermented Ginger Tonic
- 4C boiled water
- Fresh ginger (around a 3 inch piece, roughly chopped)
- 1/2C raw organic sugar OR rice syrup OR honey
- Optional: 1/4C fresh lemon/orange or lime juice – just for a little citrus kick.
- 2C brewed kombucha tea
- Mix all ingredients EXCEPT kombucha tea together, making sure the sugar is dissolved.
- Let the mix infuse (I place it all in a sterilised jar) for at least a few hours.
- Strain out ginger pieces and combine with the kombucha tea.
- Pour into a glass bottle (I find the large V8 veggie juice bottles/ are great for this) and leave in a warm, dark place for about 2 days (again, depending on your climate/temperature) – again the process is to let the bacteria eat away the sugar – it will become nice and fizzy.
- Store in the fridge.
Something that I have taken from all my fermentation experiments: trust your NOSE - always give things the “sniff test,” and if it smells WRONG, then it is probably not fit for consumption – sour/tangy/vinegary are all OK – if the smell makes you gag, then don’t run the risk – chuck it and start again. You will hone your nose skills as you continue to experiment.
Kombucha – tried it? Love it? Do you brew?
Viper eats the same thing every.day. for breakfast. His home made cereal mix and milk. Maybe he refills his bowl a few times, but it’s always that – no real variation in his first meal of the day. So boring.
Actually, I admit I used to be the same. It would always be a morning bowl of porridge in Winter, and maybe yoghurt & muesli in the warmer months. Yes, I used to be a boring-breakfaster. I think my morning-creativity has come about mainly because I have more TIME in the mornings – I’m not usually rushing off anywhere, just hanging with Misty. I appreciate the fact that the morning is a hectic time for most, so the ideas I’m going to share with you today are actually super quick to whip up (if you do a little planning & preparation). When I get a spare minute in the kitchen, I always try and cook extra to stash away in the fridge for quick meals during the week – preparing a pot of quinoa, soaking buckwheat, roasting sweet potatoes and so on. It really makes life easier.
If you follow me on Face Book – you would have seen me posting my breakfasts for the past few days. I’m really into breakfast “bowls” at the moment – a sort of cereal-esque style meal, but with way more exciting ingredients, and a few interesting not-of-the-norm breakfast foods.
I have left these recipes pretty “loose” if you get what I mean – customise to your own likes/what ingredients you have on hand – makes for creative breakfasts, that’s for sure. Read through for a variety of options.
Sprouted Buckwheat Porridge (raw)
(Vegan: gluten/wheat/nut/refined sugar free)
- 1C soaked, sprouted buckwheat groats*
- 1/2C coconut milk kefir (or any other milk of choice – almond, soy, plain coconut etc)
- 2t rice syrup (or any liquid sweetener – 1/8 to 1/4t liquid stevia if you are that way inclined)
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/2t vanilla extract
- Whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until (relatively) smooth – the buckwheat will retain a slight texture, which is all part of the charm.
- Top with some of the following Slow Cooker Apple-Nana Butter, or with dried fruit, chopped fresh fruit, nut butter – whatever you like.
Slow Cooker Apple-Nana Butter
(Vegan: gluten/wheat/soy/seed/nut/refined sugar/grain free)
- 6 medium apples – cored and roughly chopped (you can peel if you like, but I am lazy and like fibre)
- 6 small bananas – roughly chopped into chunks
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/8t sea salt
- 1t vanilla bean paste (optional)
- 2t ground cinnamon (optional)
- 4C water
- Throw everything in your slow cooker/crock pot and cook on low for about 24 hours, or until the mix has reduced by half, and it super thick, syrupy and sweet.
- You could puree the whole lot now, if you prefer a smoother texture to your butter – but I like a little texture (and again, I’m lazy).
*Chuck a couple of cups of raw buckwheat groats in a bowl – cover with water and leave overnight to soak. Rinse in the morning (the liquid tends to go a little gooey. Leave drained buckwheat groats to sprout for about another 12 hours or so (depending on the temperature) making sure you rinse the groats a few times during this sprouting process.
Sweet Potato Custard
Vegan: gluten/wheat/grain/refined sugar/corn/soy/nut free (depending on milk choices)
Makes 3-4 serves
- 1C cooked sweet potato (Roasting your sweet potato whole will give you the best – sweetest – flavour. Plus the skins make for great snacking).
- Full fat coconut milk - the amount will depend on the consistency of custard you like, whether you want it very fine & runny, or so thick you can stand a spoon in it. Add little by little. starting with 1C until you reach your desired custard -this can use over 2 cups of milk easily. Almond milk, soy, or cow milk are all good substitutes – just remember that the higher fat milks will give a creamier texture. I also love to use coconut milk kefir here.
- 3T maple syrup (or any other liquid sweetener to taste)
- 1/8t sea salt
- 1t vanilla extract (optional)
- 1t ground cinnamon (optional)
- Whizz everything together in a food processor until super smooth – add milk gradually until you reach your desired “custard” consistency.
This custard is delicious on top of porridge, in a bowl with chopped banana, walnuts and raisins, added to a smoothie, poured over banana “soft serve” – or as pictured - 2/3C cooked quinoa, 1C sweet potato “Custard” and 2T cacao nibs.
I really love beans. It’s sad, because they don’t really feel the same way about me. I have figured out that I had our romance all back-to-front. It is NOT a good idea to eat a whole can of beans at 9pm, and then wonder why I could not sleep for crippling stomach cramps. Beans for breakfast though, suit me (and my stomach) just fine. I find if I eat beans at the start of the day, they keep me full for ages – without the tummy troubles. You may find it hard to get your head around the idea of (sweet) beans for breakfast, but I really encourage you to give this a go – the following “recipe” is my method for making a delicious bean bowl – pick and choose the ingredients you prefer/have in your pantry:
Basic Bean Bowl
See the options listed below, so you can cater to your own tastes/what you have on hand. Vegan.
- 1 & 1/2C cooked beans (equivalent to 1 can of beans)
- 3T nut/seed butter
- 2T liquid sweetener (OR 1/4-1/2t stevia liquid for a low sugar option)
- 1/4-1/2C non dairy milk
- Pinch of sea salt
- 2T cacao/carob powder
- 1/2t vanilla extract (optional)
- Toppings: (optional) Chopped nuts, cacao nibs, dried fruit, fresh fruit slices, fruit-only jam, additional nut/seed butter.
Beans…. Kidney, cannelini, butter, chick peas, black turtle.
Nut/Seed Butter…. tahini, coconut butter, almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, walnut butter.
Sweeteners…. maple syrup, agave, rice syrup, raw honey, barley malt, coconut nectar. You can even use things like date paste/mashed banana in place of liquid sweeteners, but I would use MORE of these – for example 4T date paste, or 2 large very ripe bananas.
Milk…. almond, soy, rice, coconut, oat, kefir.
The bean bowl pictured above is made with kidney beans, cacao, tahini, coconut butter, rice syrup and almond milk – delicious!
It’s probably quite obvious that I don’t eat “normal” food – whatever that means. Sweet beans sound weird, but they taste good – I promise…. the photo above is one of my favourite desserts using beans (and tofu AND popcorn, but that’s just me). I like to be a little adventurous and try different flavour combinations and ingredient pairings…. sometimes they work, and sometimes things get spit into the sink. If you don’t try, you don’t know, right?
Do you stick to your tried and true meals? Or are you a little adventurous when it comes to trying out new taste-ideas?
I admit, this week has been a struggle. Emotions (hormones!?) are running rampant, and physically I’m a tad under the weather. It’s hard to keep motivated and optimistic when you are feeling sluggish, that’s for sure.
Misty and myself have watched far too much television this week, I’ve been lazy with the cooking (surviving on cafe-leftovers…. perks of working in hospitality) and I haven’t washed my hair in I don’t know how long (actually that’s no real change). That’s OK though, as some weeks, you are not on you “A game,” and that’s perfectly fine. These things happen. I use these little stages as an opportunity to practise a little self-love, and to “let-go” of preconceived ideas of what I should be doing/achieving/being. Learning a little more about myself through my healing crisis, I have become a little more tolerant of myself and realise that it is a good thing to admit to having limitations.
Nobody is perfect – if that was the case, life would be so boring.
Anyway, Misty and me have been spending a lot of time at home this week, so we have been experimenting. I spent today chasing him around the house with the scissors, as his hair is slightly out of control (in the mullet-sense) – he was not amused. Anyway, I managed to get the hair cut out of his eyes, which is an achievement – but if anything, the mullet is even more pronounced. Oh well, I’ll take a mullet over a bowl cut any day.
I’ve never been one to use hair-products…. usually they are ridiculously overpriced and so full of toxic crap I won’t go near the things. After Misty’s hair cut today, I thought it would be kind of cool to play around with styling his new “do.” I have heard about people using flax gel for a hair product, but as usual I started to play around with what I had on hand – a never ending jar of xantham gum. This gel results in what I would call a “wet-look,” and it goes a little crunchy when it dries (like a hair-spray) – any way it makes for cute spikes on a little boy’s head, that’s for sure.
DIY Natural Hair Gel
- 1C water
- 1t xantham gum
- This is easiest to prepare in a food processor/blender as otherwise the xantham gum tends to just lump-up.
- Whizz together and store in a little jar/air tight container.
- Use SPARINGLY – you don’t need much at all – 1/2 a tsp rubbed into your palms and then used to style is ample.
What are your ways of finding balance when you have an “off” day (or week)? Yoga and a good nap are my 2 favourites.
I officially have a fussy toddler. It was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s definitely time to get sneaky.
Misty loves plain pasta, plain noodles, plain rice. No “bits” please. No sauce, no nothing. Awesome. He’s actually pretty good with snacking on vegetables (think carrot sticks, peas, sweet potato cubes, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes) so I’m not too concerned with having him eat 3 “balanced” meals a day – he’s a grazer, just like me. Lot’s of nutritious snacks & smoothies throughout the day – maybe I’m lazy but I’m not going to make him sit down and force him to eat a huge plateful of food at breakfast, lunch & dinner if that’s not the way his appetite works. Back to the plain pasta obsession….. I have a sneaky trick up my sleeve:
“Bone broth is a flavourful liquid made by boiling the bones of just about any vertebrate you can think of (typically poultry, beef, bison, lamb, or fish) in water for an extended period of time (typically anywhere from 4 hours to 40 hours!). Often vegetables and herbs are added (typically carrots, onion, celery, garlic and I like to add bay leaves too). The bones from mammals need to be sawed open, whereas fowl and fish bones don’t. The used bones and vegetables are strained from the liquid and typically discarded. The resulting liquid is called “broth” or “stock” and is rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (especially calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which are essential for bone health) . Most importantly, bone broth is also particularly rich in two very special amino acids: proline and glycine.” SOURCE
Obviously , this is not an option for vegans (I apologize to my vegan readers – of course, a home made veggie stock is a good alternative, but unfortunately, won’t quite pack the nutritional punch that a bone broth wields) but the fact of the matter is that Viper and Misty eat meat. I think using every possible part of a slaughtered animal is the most respectful thing to do – if there is going to be a dead animal in my fridge, I am going to honour it’s sacrifice by using every little tiny part of it (hippie rant).
So that’s it, my dirty little secret – buy organic, free range meat and get the MOST bang for your buck. Chicken, beef, fish – whatever you buy, use ALL of the animal. If you are using beef, try to get a variety of bones for maximum nutrients. A whole chicken will provide us with at least a couple of manly-sized meals, toddler pickings, scraps for the dog, PLUS a whole lot of glorious bone broth (or stock, whatever you like to call it). Value for money AND huge nutritional benefits is a win in my book. All you need to do is chuck everything in a large pot (add whatever you like see the suggestions in the quote above) and let it simmer away. You can use this as a traditional broth, a base for a more complex soup/stew/casserole, add to sauces for extra wow factor, add to baby food/veggie puree – the uses for this stuff are endless. You can even partake in a bit of toddler-trickery.
Cook your regular pasta/noodles/rice in bone broth – it adds flavour AND nutrition, and little people LOVE it. It really makes you wonder what goes into those “stock” cubes you can get at the supermarket, doesn’t it? I will take boiled bones over a tiny foil wrapped square ANY day, thankyouverymuch.
Another from the collection – I thought I would contrast last weeks electro/modern contribution with a little old school Paul Simon. * Check out the tweed blazer on the cover of the album – now that’s some 80s shoulder pad styling if ever I saw some.* His Album “Graceland” is a wonderful fusion of catchy pop hooks, African tribal music, and beautiful lyrics – not to mention Paul has one of the sweetest song-bird-esque voices ever (in my opinion).
If you are wanting a fun, uplifting and thought provoking all in one “feast for your ears” – then definitely get yourself a copy of this album.
The sparkling lights, the gambling, the shows, the parties. I admit it, if you asked me where I would go in the world RIGHT NOW (expense being no worry) I would have to go with Las Vegas. Viper and I are obsessed with all-things-American, and even if I should be saying Europe (for the culture!) or India (for the spiritual enlightenment!) I would be off drinking cocktails and putting it ALL on 26 red before an Elvisn impersonator could pronounce myself and Viper, “hound dog and Lisa Marie.” Seriously, although my wedding last year was lovely – there is still a teeny tiny part of me that wished we had gone with our original “Vegas Elvis Elopement” plan. One day.
At the moment though, I have to live vicariously through the tales of other bloggers. Hannah recapped her Vegas adventure here and here, and the very brave Bethaney did it with her toddler in tow (not sure I’m game enough for that!) We all know, however, that I am slightly obsessed with vegan food – so while on my insomnia-spurred-Vegas-trawl I began researching into the foodie options available. Paul Graham from Eating Vegan in Vegas really covers all the bases when it comes to compassionate cuisine.
While Viper would be (oh so predictably) tempted by the promise of celebrity chefs cooking up all sorts of meaty-glory…. Vegas is actually turning into a bit of a hub for vegan dining, which gives the place even more appeal. During the witching hours of insomnia (oh the joy) I have been perusing different restaurants/menus for inspiration…. although I love reading food blogs, I never really try out recipes – just reading the title of a dish can really get the creative cogs in my brain turning – I find recipes way too restrictive. I saw the Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Almonds on the menu at Mesa Grill, and then that little inspirational tidbit turned into my “Ode to Vegas.” I know America has a real fondness for mayonnaise, and while I can’t stand the traditional stuff in any way, shape or form, this vegan/root veggie version is quite the delicious variation. I couldn’t have possibly dedicated a recipe to Las Vegas and NOT include some sort of Elvis-ingredient either – hence the “Bacon” almonds, which are given a sweet/salty/smoky marinade which is a pretty stellar addition to this salad.
The whole orange/spinach combination reminds me of my Mum, who always made me make sure I was eating a little vitamin C (orange) whenever I ate an iron-rich vegetable (spinach) – thanks Mum – and it just so happens they go great with sweet potato and fake bacon – who would have thought?
Spinach & Orange Salad with Sweet Potato Mayo and Smoky Baked Almonds (aka “Bacon” bits)
(Vegan: Gluten/wheat/refined sugar/grain/soy/corn free)
Makes 4 large serves
“Bacon” Bits (Sweet Smoky Almonds)
- 1C almonds
- 4t tamari
- 3T maple syrup
- 2t smoked paprika
- Combine all ingredients except almonds in a small mixing bowl and whisk well.
- Throw almonds in and toss to coat.
- Roast at 180 degrees C for 8-10 minutes…. careful they will catch and burn quickly.
- When dry (they will almost be like a cluster of toffee) roughly chop.
Sweet Potato “Mayonnaise”
- 2C cooked sweet potato (roasting will get the best flavour)
- 3T nutritional yeast
- 3T tahini
- 3T olive oil
- 2t wholegrain mustard
- 2t apple cider vinegar
- 1C water (up to 1 & 1/2C to achieve desired consistency)
- 2t lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor, adding water bit by bit until you reach your preferred “mayo” consistency.
- Season (S&P) to taste.
(Ingredients for each person – you are making 4 serves)
- 1 navel orange, cut into segments, free of pith.
- 1 good handful (2C) baby spinach leaves
- 1/4C “Bacon” almonds
- 1/4C Sweet Potato Mayonnaise
- Place spinach leaves on plate, arrange orange segments.
- Sprinkle over chopped almonds, and drizzle with the mayo – putting the mix in a squirty bottle is the best idea (an old ketchup/mustard bottle is perfect for this).
So now I shall eat this salad and pine for the parties, lights and loose times that Las Vegas seems to promise. One day I will get there. How about you? Where in the world would you LOVE to visit? Your dream escape? Your ultimate adventure?
A “healing crisis” is the belief that an individual in the process of getting well will undergo some sort of healing reaction – it could be mild or it could be more extreme – putting it really simply it’s the idea of “you have to get worse before you get better.” Having experienced quite a few odd symptoms over the last few weeks while withdrawing from conventional anti depressants, I decided to look into the idea of a “healing crisis” in more detail.
At first I thought I was losing my mind – as well as general physical symptoms of fatigue, congestion, digestive sluggishness and skin irritation, I began experiencing some emotional reactions to the changes I had instigated. Huge mood swings, general irritability and anxiety, plus I even felt like I was reverting to old behaviours. This culminated in me being told I was ‘acting like a 2 year old,’ when everything finally made sense. YES I may have been behaving like a child, but it was as if my body and mind had reverted back to stage before I had started being “treated” by conventional medicine…. sound crazy? Perhaps, but it makes sense in my head, so I’m going to go with it! Anyway, although these symptoms were rather brief and fleeting, they really gave me insight of the deeper healing that was going on inside my body (and mind).
“When improvement occurs, vitality is restored to the body, and its self-healing mechanisms are awakened. As healing begins, symptoms reappear as part of the body’s process of eliminating diseased cells and toxins from its tissues. Hence the assessment that the healing “crisis” is actually good news because it is a sign and signal of deep healing and restoration. It should be added that, not surprisingly, the patient always feels better after the healing crisis has run its course.
The healing crisis is recognized today by many natural health practitioners. Homeopaths call these incidents “aggravations” and chiropracters refer to the phenomenon as “retracing.” What is important for us to understand is that a healing crisis, or any healing that will sustain us over the long haul, must occur at some point in the therapeutic program. ” (Source)
I have been lucky enough to come into contact with a group of ladies from all different walks of life – Mother’s, natural health practitioners, energy healers, to name but a few. I wanted to gain insight into what these women thought about the notion of a healing crisis – so I have put together their thoughts, articles and experiences
I have been a long time reader of the inspiring and beautiful blog by Lucie D’Alessandro, Delve Spot – so I was thrilled when I came across her blog post describing her very own experience of an (on going) healing crisis as she used the intensive natural healing modality, Gerson Therapy to treat her breast cancer. She left the most encouraging comment on my initial post about my own experiences, which really hit the nail on the head in my mind: ”I love hearing that people understand healing reactions, Lou – go you for embracing yours and sharing. They can make you, your world, feel so wobbly and seem so counter intuitive to healing, no? Yet they’re so necessary and powerful. They panicked me at first, even now I still get a liiitle bit weary, but having a deeper understanding of what healing reactions are all about took me down multiple notches. Talking about what we experience is so important – demystifying the weirdness!”
Lucie also put me onto this fabulous site which includes a post that really defines a healing crisis in such a positive way.
You all know I’m a big fan of sharing – I find it such a powerful form of therapy, and sharing knowledge/experiences may just help others who are in a dark place, or are trying to regain their health, do you agree? The thing is, not enough people KNOW what a healing crisis is – and may take it as a sign that their therapy is NOT working – when it may just be the beginning of something amazing. The following quotes and snippets are from some very inspiring women – check out the links to get to know them better.
“Well, I’ve dealt with many healing crises before! Both my own and my clients. I love that they occur. For me, healing crisis symptoms are headaches, increased thirst, skin rashes, large cyst like blind pimples generally around the lymphatic glands (throat, groin, arm pits) digestive upsets coupled with extremefeelings of overwhelm and anxiety. Sleeplessness, crying, bad breath and stronger odour of urine. This might sound strange but I would get excited for my clients as it meant changes and shifting which is what they and I were hoping for. It means the body is adjusting, clearing and cleansing. Every time this arises I would be sure to transition them (and myself) more gently through this process with the purifying essence blend. This really serves to support the physical and emotional clearing without it becoming an added burden.” Naturopath and Essence Practioner, Alisha Lynch (Naughty Naturopath Mum)
“With every step I take in my healing process, I get the healing crisis. I just didn’t know it had an actual name. It can put people off -’ I changed my diet and I got sick!’…. there needs to be more info about it so they persevere!” Blogger (and holistic health hero) at Natural New Age Mum Sonia Donaldson
“My experience with healing crisis is that it is MUCH less with the use of homoeopathics, as the medicines are gentle and given in specific potency most often a helping crisis does not occur. I have received many patients in my practice in a healing crisis from other practitioners. My approach is to assist with this with remedies. However I believe that ‘good’ patient management and prescriptions when given by the practitioner can AVOID a helping crisis all together and this is my approach. Not every ailment has to get worse before it gets better. Sure sometimes there is a a slight response when first starting a remedy however good practitioners create wellness without this happening most of the time. Slow and gradual improvements in health last and become permanent. Hard and fast detox, prescriptions etc can lead to healing crisis and I don’t think this is the best way. (Not judging anyone btw just sharing my clinical experience I hope it comes across as such and not criticism)
Illness/wellness is layered. When you manage the layers gently you don’t get a healing crisis. When you go for the centre of the orange and just cut of course you will get ‘splatter’ …. I don’t cut – I manage the layers and then they dissolve and reveal the next one.” Nicole Cunningham, Homoeopath and creator of Puraforce Remedies.
As you are probably aware, I have chosen Classical Homoeopathy as my main source of healing-assistance as I attempt to withdraw from conventional anti depressants – I think this little quote from Puraforce Remedies sums up the modality nicely: “Homoeopathy is a form of medicine that assists the body in healing itself. It does not reject the great discoveries of modern medical science, only their commercial abuse. Homoeopathy has stood the test of time, helping people achieve health not only in the last 150 years, but since its discovery 2000 years ago.”
I also need to state here (being a responsible blogger, I suppose) that my journey is exactly that – MINE. I am in no way suggesting or providing tips for withdrawing from conventional medicine. Any decision regarding this needs to be an educated one – with appropriate advice and support from reputable sources/practitioners. I tend to use this blog as a type of diary – but I am aware of the implications of this, as the internet is a massive entity and there are impressionable folk out there. Take care, and do not do anything rash!
Finally, a little video-link to Kelly Burch (Dog Rose Healing). Kelly is an energy healer and specialises in Energy EFT – if you are feeling even just a teeny bit stressed or overwhelmed - watch (and TRY) this video. I had never experienced Energy EFT before, and let me tell you, after this 10 minute exercise, I felt like a bucket load of tension had just melted away. I have been using this technique every few days, and it’s wonderful. A new little trinket for my healing “tool-box” if you will.
Food-blogging isn’t really conducive to saving money on your weekly food bill. I suppose in some cases if you had a bunch of sponsorship and got freebies all the time it would make life easier, but then you would have less control over your content, right? I like to ‘blog to the beat of my own drum,’ if that makes sense? I don’t blog to make money or chase popularity/success in any way. I appreciate each and every person that takes the time to read fridge scrapings, and if I inspire someone in any tiny way to try something new, then that is all the success I need. I also try and be realistic – I know not everyone (including myself) cannot afford to eat 100% organic, and be purchasing every trendy super food under the sun on a weekly basis – it’s all about finding a comfortable middle ground, right?
In regards to my first statement – I have really cut down on buying any speciality ingredients of late, (read: I’ve cut done on buying MORE stock for my kitchen altogether) mainly for the sake of our weekly food budget. This doesn’t mean that our meals have to be bland/boring/unhealthy in any way though – I have just concentrated on using what I have on hand, and taking advantage of my supplies of dry bulk goods (grains/legumes/beans etc). This would be one of my top tips for being healthy on a budget – buy bulk amounts of (quality) dry goods – way cheaper in the long run. Basically, what I’m saying is, that although I might not have the budget to be posting recipes for amazing super food/fancy ingredient filled dishes, I can still make sure my family and I are eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
I made this Spiced Apricot Relish a few days ago, and mentioned that stuffing it into roast chicken would be a delicious idea – I thought I should come good on that notion and provide a recipe for you (meat eaters). Stuffing is a great way to stretch out a roast chicken. It’s also a good way to sneak in a nutritious option – quinoa in this instance, as opposed to a plain bread stuffing – great for those who suffer from food allergies/intolerances. Fellow vegans/vegetarians I apologise, but this relish also makes a lovely marinade for tofu, so I encourage you to give that a go – served on a bed of seasoned quinoa with herbs, walnuts and coconut oil was my version of the following dish I cooked for Viper & Misty. The good thing is, we can ALL share the roast veggies on the side!
I have listed a few substitute-ingredients that could be used instead of the ones I had on hand. I like recipes that you can adapt to use up leftovers, and make the most of the food you have in your fridge – this is a great recipe for using up smaller quantities of bits & pieces you might have hanging around in the fridge.
Spiced Apricot & Walnut Quinoa Stuffing
Vegan: Gluten/wheat/soy/corn/refined sugar free
- 1C cooked quinoa (rice/cous cous/buckwheat or any leftover grain would work well here)
- 4T Spiced Apricot Relish (or any chutney/relish you have on hand – plum/cranberry/apple would all be delcious) thinned out with a few tablespoons of warm water.
- 1/2C walnut halves (or almonds/pine nuts) roughly crushed
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 3T chopped fresh herbs (dry is also fine) I used thyme, basil and parsley (what I had in the garden)
- 1t lemon zest
- 2t lemon juice
- 1/4t sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Simply thin down your relish with a few tablespoons of warm water (so it folds through the quinoa a little easier) – then mix in all other ingredients.
- Stuff into the cavity of a whole chicken and roast according to your bird’s size as you would normally.
A whole, organic chicken will set you back around the $10-12 mark, depending on the size. Even with Viper’s fiesty appetite, a chook stuffed in this fashion will provide 2 large manly meals, plus 3 toddler meals. Not to mention the stock I make from boiling down the bones, or the dog food I make for Boosty out of gristle/skin and the likes. It’s a pretty cost effective meal when you break it all down in that fashion. Not to mention the protein factor – chicken AND quinoa? Oh yes, that’s a whack of protein for sure.
Favourite penny-pinching meal suggestions?
I have really neglected my music-posts over the last little while – I miss them. I thought I would keep this short & sweet with a video – click the link below.
Cut Copy – Zonoscope
” an album of euphoric, starry-eyed dance-rock”
“Compared to the last two albums, Zonoscope has precious little guitar crunch, which makes it hard to even call Cut Copy a dance-rock band anymore. And that’s for the best– not just because that combination seems like a less thrilling prospect in 2011 than perhaps it once did, but also because Cut Copy have the architecture of dance music down perfectly and the confidence to execute the genre’s moves with absolute precision.” Source: Pitchfork
Remember you have THREE days to enter the give away for a copy of Stephen Hunt’s first EP – “Listen” – there are 3 copies to be won, and this is open to EVERYONE! Get into it. Check here for details.
This week has been full-on, that’s for sure. In both good ways, and then not so good. I’m working on a post at the moment in response to something I went through this week – a healing crisis. It’s really been an interesting few days – a lot of physical and emotional stuff has come up as a result of weaning myself of anti depressants, but the thing is, it all needed to come to a head so I can continue on the path to wellness.
As I type this all I can think about is a huge pimple. Gross analogy, yes, but probably the most simple way to put it. Imagine one of those really sore, inflamed pimples, where you can just feel the infection building up under the skin…. lot’s of pressure, lot’s of discomfort. The toxic stuff needs to come to a “head” (ew) so it can be released and healing can begin – and that’s what I have been experiencing this week (sans the pimples, thanks goodness). A healing crisis is like the pressure-part of the pimple…. the body starts to try and get rid of old toxins/emotions/behaviours to make room for healing – and it can bring up a lot of OLD and dormant issues that’s for sure.
Anyway, at first I thought I was losing my mind – but after some research and supportive encouragement from my homoeopath, I realised that what I was going through was GOOD – almost a sign that things are getting better. I have been lucky enough to be introduced to a community of inspirational women, recently – among them energy healers, naturopaths, homoeopaths, authors, Mother’s – really any “hat,” you could imagine. I am collecting some of their thoughts/experiences on the topic of healing crisis, and I will share them with you next week.
I have been spending a lot of time in my yoga space, that’s for sure – really working on breath and balance within the body while I’m in a bit of healing turmoil. Works a treat. Cooking also helps give me a sense of focus & direction…. I’ve said this in the past: cooking is a bit like meditation for me. I have so many more thoughts to share on this topic – I think it is something that we need to be more aware of – how many people may have given up on their health when faced with a healing crisis – thinking it was a turn for the worst, whereas it is actually a sign of progress? Next week I will delve deeper, that’s for sure.
I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe before…. I’ve been making it for years. It’s one of those super quick and easy things to whip up, when you feel like you need a little something else with a meal. We are huge condiment fans in this household – and if you are not into apricot, I have condiment recipes to suit everyone: Beetroot, Fig, or Tomato. On the side of a curry, stuffed inside a roast chicken, spread on sandwiches, on a cheese platter, used as a tofu marinade – this little relish has all sorts of uses.
Spiced Apricot Relish
- 3C dried apricots – a brand that does NOT contain sulphates or preservatives…. the apricots will be a darker brown.orange as opposed to the fluro-orange-additive-laden ones.
- 2 & 1/2C water
- 3/4C apple cider vinegar (malt/white wine will also work)
- 1t ground cinnamon
- 1t ground coriander
- 2t tabasco sauce
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped into chunks
- 2 red onions, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/8t cayenne pepper – or more if you like it really spicy.
- Juice of half a lemon
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2t sea salt
- Combine all ingredients except lemon, pepper and salt in a large saucepan.
- Bring to the boil and let it bubble rapidly for 3 minutes.
- Reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for as long as it takes for the liquid to reduce down to about 1/3C (thereabouts – not a crucial point, but the flavours will be more intense, the more you let it cook, plus it will be a thicker end result).
- Let the mix cool before whizzing in the food processor until nice and smooth.
- Season with lemon, salt and black pepper.
- Divide into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
Have you experienced a healing crisis?
I’ve never been a huge pastry fan. Pies, tarts, quiches and the likes are never high on my agenda – quite the opposite of Viper. Experimenting is something DO like, so quite randomly I started playing around with making a pastry from the ridiculous supply of chickpea flour (besan) I have on hand.
If you haven’t played around with chickpea flour before, I really encourage you to do so – it’s a really great ingredient for those with food sensitivities, is cheap, and it tastes delicious. I got into experimenting with the stuff specifically through my mate, BuddyEE (read about this little dude here) – just goes to show that being restricted to but a few ingredients actually inspires creativity. A couple of the recipes that I created for extreme-allergy-suffering kids have become staples in my house – and none of us have any real food intolerances…. allergy friendly doesn’t have to mean bland and boring, right?
Anyway, back to the pastry. Obviously, this pastry isn’t going to be the same as your traditional wheat flour/butter short crust – the end result is pretty similar taste/texture wise, but the method used in the recipe is a little different. You can’t roll this pastry out like a normal short crust, you simply have to press it into the tart pan, as it will not hold together as a sheet.
Easy Allergen Free Pastry
(Vegan, gluten/wheat/grain/corn/soy/refined sugar free)
- 3/4C chickpea flour
- 1/4C water
- 2T coconut oil (soft)**
- 2T liquid sweetener (rice syrup/agave/honey/maple syrup)
- 1/8t sea salt
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, (overnight is optimal) so the dough can firm up.
- Carefully press dough into fluted tart pans (this recipe will make 4 individual tart cases which measure 2 inches in diameter) – the mix has a tendency to be quite sticky, so wet your hands well to make things easier. Try and get the dough to a couple of millimetre thick.
- Bake in an oven heated to 180 degrees C for 12 minutes until golden brown.
**I have played around with using a vegan butter substitute AND regular butter in this recipe too – they both work well. Simply substitute in the same quantity (soft, not completely melted) – the butter/vegan spread actually works quicker than the coconut oil, you will only need to rest.chill the dough for about 45 minutes in the fridge. The cooking time is also quicker – approximately 9 minutes in a fan forced 180 degree C oven. Butter tends to get a darker colour to the end result too.
I have been a little fixated on sweet fillings for these pastry-experiments. The one below is filled with a combination of date paste, a few squares of melted chocolate and some coconut butter. Easy and delicious.
Slow roasted peaches are such an easy, healthy dessert (check out this recipe for another peach-creation). Load them into a cooked pastry shell, and dollop with some coconut cream, ice cream, custard – whatever.
Although I’m usually not such a huge savoury-fan (I will take sweets ANY day) lately my taste buds have been craving everything savoury – even for breakfast which is unheard of. I think I will need to branch out into some vegan-pastry-pies very soon.
How about you? Pastry fan? Sweet or savoury for your pie fillings?
I love raw food, but I admit – I’m really lazy. The preparation that goes into a lot of the gourmet raw dishes puts me off – soaking nuts and seeds in particular (I am usually very un-organised too). This recipe was a bit of an accident….. I just chucked things into the food processor (cauli flower is SO cheap & plentiful at the moment) and then decided to fashion it into a flat bread of sorts. I realise that not everyone has a dehydrator, and this is a piece of equipment used in a LOT of raw recipes. I have a dehydrator, but it is an annoying design which makes bread/wrap making impossible….. hence the need to come up with a method that utilises the oven for it’s drying-ability.
Psyllium is the key in this “bread” – not strictly raw, no, but it helps bind the bread together, and is a mega fibre boost too.
The cumin in the recipe is completely optional, but I reckon cauli-cumin-tahini is a pretty mean combo…. a slight nod to curry without being over-powering. Dried herbs (thyme/basil/oregano/rosemary etc) would all be lovely instead.
Super Simple Raw Bread Wraps
(Vegan – gluten/wheat/soy/corn/grain/refined sugar free)
- 5C raw cauliflower – about 1 whole small cauli, chopped into chunks
- 1t ground cumin (optional)
- 2t apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
- 1/8t sea salt
- 2T unhulled tahini
- 1T psyllium husks
- In a food processor, pulse cauliflower until it is chopped up into rice-sized chunks.
- Add all other ingredients and process until smooth(ish).
- Spread on a baking tray, lined with baking paper – (make sure you spread the mix as evenly as possible, until it is about 2-3mm thick)
- With your oven on it’s lowest setting (mine is 80 degrees) let the mix dry out for 6-8 hours, or until you can fully peel it off the baking paper. I then usually place it on a cooling rack (see top picture) and leave in the oven for awhile (oven turned off).
To make this a worth-while venture (time-wise) I ended up making 4 baking tray’s worth of bread – 8(ish) wraps. I think I ate them all in 2 days – such a welcome change from plain salads for lunch/snacks.
Filling-wise it’s totally up to you – I went with semi-dried tomatoes (the only way I can stomach tomatoes!) garden salad leaves, raw hummus and zucchinni.
From raw-wraps to music? Not much sense of relation there, is there? Except, my relation (brother in law) happens to be super talented musician (and some of you Aussie’s may remember him from a little foray on “Neighbours,”) and he has just released his first EP (go here for a free download). Anyway, I thought I would share Stephen Hunt’s lovely tunes with my lovely readers – I will choose (at random) one of you to receive a physical copy of his EP “Listen,” – and this little give away is open to EVERYONE – no matter where you live (!) Hooray. (To read more about Stephen check out this interview)
All you need to do to enter is (additional entry for each option):
- Comment on this post – tell me your favourite kind of music – band/artists/whatever.
- Share this post on Face Book
- Like fridgescrapings.com on Face Book
Give away closes at 6pm (AEST) on March 3 – winner announced following day.
Disclaimer: This give away is sponsored by fridge scrapings (me) – I was not paid to write/promote Stephen Hunt or his album…. I just think he’s pretty darn talented, and you all need to check out his tunes.
*** I am submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays**
I’ve been focusing on the sacral chakra lately. Some of you will probably be aware of the chakra system, others maybe not so much. If you aren’t too familar with the concept, I adore this post from one of my favourite bloggers (and fellow hippie/pig lover, Raechel).
The sacral chakra is a pretty important point of energy flow for my prenatal yoga ladies – obviously, they are busy creating new life within, and need a little work on balancing. Whether you have experienced it or not, let me tell you – pregnancy makes you feel more than a little loopy at times. Yes, we tend to blame hormones a lot, and I agree – hormones can cause a lot of crazy-lady syndrome, but I truly believe that it is the increased creative energy within a women’s sacral chakra during pregnancy that causes a lot of the emotionally “off-balance” feelings that one tends to get. You’re not just dealing with your own self – you are a vessel for the creation of a whole new life force within you – no wonder there are occasions of extreme overwhelm during pregnancy!
Anyway, what I love about focusing on the sacral chakra is it’s ultimate lesson – to let go. Pregnancy is a time of uncertainty, anxiety, overwhelm, excitement, nerves – extreme highs and extreme lows. “Is my baby OK?” ”Will it hurt?” “How will I cope?” Meditating on the sacral chakra and being open to the idea of letting go of unnecessary emotions is really important to regain a bit of balance. Fear of the unknown is wasted energy in my opinion, but such an easy fear to get sucked in by, do you agree?
From someone that suffers from anxiety (and who is NOT pregnant!) working on balancing the sacral chakra can be really beneficial – ever wonder why we feel fear and anxiety in the gut? I can’t stand that sick feeling in my stomach when I am upset or anxious. I tend to get worked up over things that haven’t even happened yet – fear of the unknown – so learning to let go is a really important lesson for me. I like to envision a warm, amber coloured light (the colour of the sacral chakra) starting from just under my belly button, slowly spreading through my entire body. Deep yogic-breathing (long exhalations in & out of the nose) while doing so really helps me work towards a feeling of calm.
Although I started focusing on the sacral chakra for the benefit of my yoga students, I think I needed to work on balancing myself. That’s the true beauty of the awareness that yoga inspires – being aware of ones’ body AND mind, and working on balancing the two – yoga teaches me SO much, even when my motivation is to teach others.
There are even different foods and spices that can fuel and help balance the chakras. Sweet mangoes, oranges, passion fruit, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon, vanilla & paprika are all foods of the sacral area. I got a bit inspired by all the chakra-meditating after a yoga session today, and made my kind of chakra-smoothie….appropriately for the topic at hand, I have an abundance of beautiful passion fruit at my disposal. “Chakra-Fuel,” or not, that is still undecided – but I sure felt happy after this smoothie, which is a a good result in my book.
Summer Chakra Smoothie
(Vegan, gluten/wheat/dairy/refined sugar free)
- 4 passion fruit
- Handfull of ice cubes
- 2T almond butter
- 1/2 a whole vanilla pod (or 2t pure vanilla extract) – I don’t bother scraping out the seeds, as the pod itself has a TON of flavour.
- 2C coconut milk (or almond if you prefer)
- 3 large (pitted) medjool dates
- Whizz all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
- Serves 2.
I’ve also started a new Face Book page for my yoga…. check out Fern Yoga & Holistic Birth Services if that kind of thing floats your boat.
I thought I would re-post this today (OLD post) to celebrate 1 & 1/2 years of being vegan – plus it gives a little more insight into my food philosophy and journey towards health (a continuing work in progress!) I would love you to share your own experiences/thoughts/trials and tribulations in the comments.
When I started this blog, I wasn’t a vegan. I’ve been a work in progress ever since I was about 9 and obsessed with pigs. Anything and everything to do with them, I loved. My bedroom was full of them… ‘Babe’ was my favourite movie…. I knew I didn’t want to eat them. As an angst-ridden teenager I decided steak was gross and stopped eating red meat, maybe for more attention, who knows? Chicken left the diet when I was a poor student, because it was expensive. Fish grossed me out anyway. For a long time, I didn’t eat a lot of anything at all.
The years of my late teens and early twenties were horrible, battling depression, toxic habits and poor self esteem. Over the years I have worked out that a pure, plant based diet and keeping food as close to it’s natural form as possible works for me. Avoiding refined sugar helps keep my mood stable, and yoga is essential for my mental focus and clarity. Anything I write about is what works for me…. it may not work for you, but this is not your blog now, is it? Let’s be friends.
I suffered from extreme anemia while pregnant, so reverted back to eating meat while I carried Misty. After he was born, and the hormones had settled down, eating meat didn’t feel right. It felt heavy, unnatural, didn’t sit well with me.
Seafood had become one of my favourite things… especially living in Australia where it is abundant, fresh and available everywhere. I loved yoghurt more than anything, and would rip through tubs of honey a week.
I started thinking more… about where my food comes from, what it does for my body… how it gets to my plate. I felt like I was being pulled in two directions, I needed some kind of focus… in my mind, in my diet, my conscience was conflicted. Reading and researching helped me gain clarity, I just needed to let go of those final ‘tasty,’ foods that were holding me back. Where they really so ‘tasty’ to me any more though? When I examined my diet, eating any animal product didn’t seem relevant to me… I had enough nutrition knowledge by this point to go vegan responsibly.
Surprisingly, I don’t miss any of those supposed ‘can’t possibly live without,’ foods… I’ve discovered and created delicious alternatives that, dare I say it, I prefer. I feel as though becoming vegan has opened up a whole new world of cooking creativity and inspiration for me.
I seem to always cook vegan by default. Kitchen experimenting is my favourite thing to do… usually the challenge of vegan cooking inspires me to the extent of producing superior results. I love to try new things… RAW foods, sprouting, dehydrating, fermenting – cooking is such an evolving art form for me – it’s become how I best express myself.
Since food consumption in my household doesn’t just involve me these days, I have to think about 2 others and their nutritional needs. Viper wants to eat meat, and he thinks Misty should eat meat, so I do include organic free range meat, chicken, eggs and dairy in our weekly groceries. We go by the ideals of buy less, buy better and make veggies and grains the main focus of omni meals, with small amounts of animal protein. This works well for Viper, and Misty actually rejects meat at the moment…. so we make do.
This blog has become about me expressing myself creatively, through wholesome, nutritional, predominately vegan food. I do include meat/dairy recipes as I cook these for my family, and I know most of my readers aren’t vegan. I also am passionate about cooking allergen friendly fare – everyone, no matter what kind of intolerance, deserves to eat amazing, vibrant, healthfully fun food. It can be done.
I have also come to appreciate the fact, that it’s not just what goes into your body, it’s what you put on it, wash it with, and so on. Keeping things as close to nature as possible is my goal… that goes for skin, hair and house.
Being vegan is not just about what you eat, of course. It encompasses lifestyle and the respect of all other living things. My journey is one that is constantly evolving and changing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ever since I was gifted this glorious pumpkin (as a trade off for vegan baking secrets) I have been obsessed with roast pumpkin. It has been my first real foray into cooked foods this year (!) after being a fruit-munching fiend on (my version of) the 80/10/10 regime. I’m not one to ignore a good craving, so I have been on a bit of a roast pumpkin bender.
Interestingly, cooked pumpkin has been easily worked into my high carb diet, with no ill effects on my digestion. When you cook starchy vegetables, the starch is converted to sugar, thus making it readily digestable by the body – hooray! Plus the sweet, caramel-like qualities of roast pumpkin are hard to resist.
There’s so much to love about savoury pumpkin dishes, but I’m all about the sweets. The flavour, the creamy texture, the colour…. an amazing (healthful) ingredient to add to desserts, not to mention get some fussy-eaters onto the pumpkin-train.
Any time I need comfort food, I tend to favour a baby-food consistency – not sure why…. perhaps reverting back to memories of childhood? Mashed potato, custard, thick soups, porridge, puddings – all a similar texture, are comforting, and are childhood staples, am I right? For a dessert recipe, I like to slow-roast my pumpkin at a reduced temperature – this really intensifies the sweetness. Spread evenly sized pieces of pumpkin on a baking tray (no oil, no nothing) and bake at about 150 degrees c until super tender (about 40 minutes depending on the water content of your pumpkin – just stab with a fork every 10 minutes or so).
In the recipe I use coconut milk kefir for added tang and beneficial bacteria, but regular coconut milk would be fine to use. For those not in a season conducive to pumpkin-eating, I reckon sweet potato would work, although you may need more liquid/sweetener.
Sweet Pumpkin Mousse
(Vegan, gluten/wheat/corn/soy/grain/refined sugar free)
- 2c roast pumpkin
- 3T coconut butter
- 6 medjool dates (or 2T maple syrup/liquid sweetener of choice)
- 1/4t ground cinnamon
- 1/2t pure vanilla extract (optional)
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/2-1c coconut milk kefir/plain coconut milk (or plain non dairy milk of choice)
- 2t lemon juice
- Blend all ingredients together, adding the liquid (milk) bit by bit until you reach your desired texture.
- Store in the fridge.
Speaking of baby food – this would make an excellent baby/toddler dessert. It has been Misty approved, that’s for sure.
You can even store this in tiny baby-food-like jars to truly indulge your fantasy.
Returning to a typed post – gotta keep everyone on their toes, right?
Today I thought I’d write a little about my journey with homoeopathy to date – my goal being to ‘get off the meds,’ – (happy pills/anti depressants). There always seems to be a lot of interest when I write about my struggles with Depression and anxiety. It may seem like a very personal thing to be splashing all over the internet, but I believe sharing experiences to be a very powerful tool in helping one another in similar situations.
I have very little knowledge in regards to the inner workings of homoeopathy – the best way to share information here is to let my homoeopath do the talking (who knew he was a You Tube star!?)
As I explained in my first video about trying out homoeopathy, this is going to be a very slow process for me – withdrawing from anti depressants is no easy task. I have lost count of how many times I have done this – even quite recently, when I decided that I couldn’t cope without the help of the old happy pills. It’s not just the physical aspects of withdrawing that are a challenge (head spins, nausea, blurred vision, loss of appetite, low energy….) but the emotional roller coaster that you have to (try to) endure. Yip, it’s tough – not just on me, I admit, but my family as well – it’s not something I am able to hide well in the security of my own home.
The most brilliant occurrence to date with homoeopathy has been the support it has gifted me whilst weaning myself off anti depressants. The “come down,” has been nowhere near as horrific as I have experienced in the past, and I have found that I have been able to cut my doses of medication down a lot quicker than past attempts. The withdrawal symptoms have been very minimal – amazing given my past experiences, which haven’t been too pretty in that respect. I am beginning to feel different when I compare how I behave on the anti depressants vs homoeopathic remedy – on a remedy I am energized, focused and productive, whereas on the ADs I feel a little weird, tired, super sensitive and slightly sick. It’s been interesting taking note and being truly AWARE of how I am feeling – even the most subtle of changes.
So, at this stage I am feeling really good about the ways things going, although I am aware that this is usually the “honeymoon” period – and things have gone downhill from here on previous attempts. Honestly, I’m scared of the same thing happening as it did last time – about 6 weeks of feeling good, and then crashing and burning without the “upper” bump from the anti depressants. Nothing ventured/nothing gained though, right? I am just not able to sit back and continue taking anti depressants for the rest of my life – it doesn’t seem “right” to me…. however bumpy this journey may be, I take comfort in the knowledge that I am trying, and one day I WILL find something that works for ME.
Anything to share? Thoughts? Experiences? Ideas? Don’t be shy.
**Disclaimer: These posts are a run down of my own experiences with using natural therapies to combat anxiety/Depression – I would not suggest any one embark on such a feat without the appropriate guidance/support from a professional.
So I know I’ve gotten a bit video-happy at the moment, but I have good reason. I’m really busy – my camera is dying a slow, unable to focus properly style of death – and I actually find making these little videos quite fun.
The following vlog is not your ultra-polished, professional-type job – it’s me, slinging things into a food processor, rambling off on tangents, and Viper interrupting not one, but twice. Argh. It IS in fact, real life Lou – who’d have thought!?
I think it’s kinda good to keep things real. It’s easy to hide behind written words (spell checked, edited and the likes). Painfully styled photos, agonised over for hours, days, weeks (?) – fine, if that’s your job to do so – but I don’t get paid for this, and I would rather a realistic portrayal of the person I am, and the life I have than some fabricated idea of “perfection,” whatever that means.
I don’t know, the world we live in these days is obsessed with perfection – how you look, what you do for a living, where you live – blah blah blah – reality isn’t such a terrible place is it? Thoughts?
(Click photo to go straight to vlog)
Wow, it’s Friday again (or almost for my readers on the flip side). I can’t believe how quickly time is going at the moment; there are never enough hours in the day.
Friday isn’t the same for me any more – it used to mean relaxing, enjoying ‘end of week’ drinks, parties and adventures in live music gigs (before the appearance of Misty I may add). Now Fridays are the start of my working week – not so exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I am actually loving having a good few days of honest work to go to – which also means a break from “Mama-mode,” which is a blessing in itself.
I like to make sure my boys are looked after (in the food-sense) while I am away. Viper loves treats. Viper also loves what I call “trash” (junk food) – we have had many instances of Viper getting “Trash-Fever” – read this post for a laugh.
I have found that the solution to Viper’s junk food cravings is to have lots of healthy (yummy) treats on hand, so he can fill up on those instead of making a beeline for the nearest corner store. Enter a new variation on the household favourite of Popcorn Balls……
Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Bars
(Vegan…. gluten/wheat/refined sugar/soy/nut free)
- 5C air popped popcorn
- 10 medjool dates, pitted
- 1/4C coconut butter
- 3T coconut oil
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1t vanilla extract
- 85 g good quality chocolate (optional – but delicious)* chopped into chunks (or chocolate chips would be fine)
- Take your popcorn and place it in a food processor.
- Add in all other ingredients and whizz/pulse until well combined.
- Press into a lined 20cm loaf pan or baking tray. Make sure to really compact the mix down, pressing very firmly.
- Chill in the fridge until it is hard. Cut into bars or squares.
- Store in the fridge, as if if they reach room temperature they will go soft pretty quickly.
*Other optional add ins could be 1/2C dried fruit or nuts – if you want to go all the way and make double chocolate bars, add in 2T cacao or 3T cocoa powder.
Happy weekend to all of you – plus a HUGE thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Top 25 Vegan & Vegetarian Blogs Competition - I was #22 which is just awesome – I so appreciate all of your support.
I did it.
I recorded a Vlog…. it was kinda fun. Check out my thoughts of my first experience with homeopathy by clicking the link below. Be sure to let me know what you think (eeep it’s quite frightening putting yourself “out there” in the flesh – it so easy to hide behind the typed word,no?)
Would love to hear your feedback…..
I thought I’d dedicate a post to what I am eating on my high carb-low(ish) fat, fruit-focused regime (of the moment). I’m not usually a fan of photographing-every-morsel-type posts for a few reasons ….
a) I am lazy
b) I get hungry, so I eat. Where my camera is or what angle my food is most photogenic from are not thoughts that cross my mind when hunger strikes.
c) Photographing every meal seems a little obsessive to me, but I know that people are interested in what goes on the “meal-sense” around these parts. Once and awhile for the sake of an experiment is OK by me.
I don’t tend to follow the classic 3-meals-plus-2-snacks regime at all. I eat when I’m hungry – I’m not going to be a slave to the clock, that’s for sure. Anyway, the following is what I got through on one day…. I am eating a lot more fat than is recommended by 80/10/10 standards, and probably more protein too, but this is basically a completely raw, high carb eating style.
1 Monster Watermelon: I ate this throughout the course of the day – and Misty helped. I reckon I probably had about 15C of watermelon pieces. Phew.
Bananas: An absolute staple – always make sure your bananas are nice and ripe. Brown spots indicate delicious sweet glory that is easier to digest. Whenever I need an instant pick me up I eat a large banana – I eat at least 4 a day.
Huge salad: 5C finely shredded Swiss chard, 2C shredded Romaine hearts, 1 whole red capsicum, 1 cob of sweet corn, 1 small Spanish onion, handful of coriander all dressed in about 3/4C of my Mango Mayonnaise.
I ate a whole batch of Caramel Banana Bombes throughout the day – frozen. So good.
- 1T coconut butter
- 1T tahini
- 1 large mango
- 1/2C green shallots
- 1/8t sea salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2C baby spinach
Simply blended together until smooth and tossed with salad ingredients.
That really wraps it all up…. and yes, it IS quite a high volume of food to munch through, to ensure I am covering all my nutritional needs. I’m quite the grazer when it comes to food though, so it’s not as if I have to sit down to 3 HUGE meals throughout the day…. constant snacking really works for me, especially with maintaining energy levels.
The best thing about eating this way, is that apart from chopping/blending, the food preparation is actually super quick. Fruit is definitely the original fast food – peel (or chop) and eat. Simple.
Thoughts? Could you imagine yourself eating this way? Are you a food-grazer or do you stick to the 3-meal-thing?
I’m quite excited. I’m delving into the world of homeopathy next week – without knowing too much about it (aside from having used a few over-the-counter remedies that I know aren’t of top quality). Sometimes it’s good to dive head first into a new thing, without the time for too many pre-conceived ideas concocted or judgements to be cast.
Basically, what really spoke to me about homeopathy (in what little I have read/heard on the topic) was that it looks deeply into who you are - on all levels – mental, physical, temperament and so on. You know I love ANYTHING that follows a holistic approach, yes?
I’ve experimented with all sorts of natural therapies in my time – reiki, naturopathy, herbalism, crystal healing, seeing a chiropractor, accupuncture – and they have all had their benefits in different ways, some more effective than others. I think being open to alternative healing is the first hurdle – if you make up your mind that it isn’t going to work, or it’s hippie mumbo jumbo, then of course you aren’t going to get the results.
What are your thoughts on natural therapies? Do you seek alternatives over conventional medicine/therapy? Ever tried homeopathy?
While I am seeking holistic healing, Misty, of course will go to kindy…. and needs a well stocked lunch box. His kindy is nut-free due to allergies, and so this little treat was fashioned out of what I had on hand in the cupboard. It’s basically raw, but then I went and toasted the coconut and sunflower seeds, because seriously – the flavours are so much more pronounced when you do. Feel free to keep everything raw if you wish though.
Caramel Buckwheat Bites
(Vegan, gluten/wheat/nut/soy/corn/refined sugar free)
- 3/4C sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat groats (or you could sub in 2/3C quick oats if you like – use certified gluten free if you are sensitive to gluten) If you’re unfamiliar with the sprouting process, here’s a How-To.
- 3/4C toasted coconut
- 1/2C toasted sunflower seeds
- 1 & 1/2T coconut oil (liquid)
- 2T rice syrup (or maple syrup, coconut syrup, raw honey – most liquid sweeteners will work)
- 10 pitted medjool dates
- 1/8t sea salt
1.In a dry fry pan, gently toast your coconut and sunflower seeds (separately) until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool
2. Chuck buckwheat groats in a food processor, and whizz until they are a reasonably fine powder.
3. Add in all other ingredients and pulse until a soft dough is formed.
4. At this point, you can roll into balls, or flatten into a lined baking tray for bars. Rolling the dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper with a rolling pin (or empty beer bottle as I did this morning) works well too. This would also make a yummy tart base for a raw(ish) dessert.
5. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Slice into bars (if you haven’t made balls).
6.Store in the fridge.
I made 3/4 of the mix into bars, and the rest into little snack bars for Misty. The photo above was the very last ball, as he munched all the rest for breakfast.
In other news, Misty has worked out how to climb out of his cot. His method involves doing an unsupported headstand in the centre of his cot, hooking his feet over the bar, and launching up so his legs go over the side. Then he simply does a sort of upside down push-up and gets himself up and over. Nap/bed time has become quite interesting. Sheesh.
*I am submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays*
It’s been a crazy few days weather-wise in Queensland. Here on the Gold Coast we were extremely lucky not to get flooded out. Many communities further North (and South) has been slammed with torrential rain and extreme flooding. We feel pretty blessed right now that our only problems included washing not drying, being stuck inside and poor photography lighting. My thoughts are with those dealing with the devastation right now.
I’ve been playing around with a few options for desserts/snacks OTHER than just plain fruit. Don’t get me wrong, I love plain fruit but sometimes you just want something a little different, no? I made 2 different versions of this idea – my initial creation was to be a raw cupcake, but I didn’t really LOVE the presentation or fiddly-ness so I have changed it to be a “Bombe” – not of the baked Alaskan kind, but the shape sort of reminded me of one. Plus, when I froze the 2nd trial, it was like the ice cream filling of such “Bombe” desserts. The two versions are slightly higher in fat than the usual 80/10/10 desserts, but I have established that I need more fat in my diet for my skin issues…. nothing wrong with a bit of (good) fat, right? Coconut is a really important source of saturated fat for vegans – some cholesterol is needed for things like hormone production…. so don’t think I’m evil promoting the “dreaded” saturated fat here.
Raw Caramel Banana Bombe (or cupcake if you like, whatever)
(Vegan, grain/gluten/wheat/nut/corn/soy/refined sugar free)
- 1 large ripe banana (little brown spots are GOOD!)
- 4T coconut flour (if it seems too dry add up to 2T coconut milk/water)
- Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean
- Tiny pinch sea salt
- Pulse everything together in the food processor. It should be slightly wet, but able to stay together when shaped.
- You can either use cupcake moulds, and shape accordingly, or for the mini “bombe” look, simply roll in ping pong sized balls, flattening on the bottom so they stand.
- Spread with either of the Caramel Frosting options below:
You can simply spread the frosting on top, and chill in the fridge. The topping below is the one that uses the flesh/water of a whole coconut. It was nice, but not my favourite…. I definitely preferred option #2 which uses canned coconut milk.
If you pop the little bombes in the freezer, they get a hard outer caramel shell, and the banana centre stays kinda fluffy. So good on a hot day (or any time really).
Frosting Option #1 – Whole Coconut
- 2/3C coconut flesh (all the flesh from one medium coconut)
- 1/4C + 2T coconut water
- 10 pitted medjool dates
- 2t coconut oil
- In a food processor, pulse together all ingredient until smooth.
- Scoop in a dish and place in the fridge to chill – it will harden slightly.
This version (option #1) didn’t set quite as hard as the canned coconut milk version, but was still nice.
Caramel Frosting Option #2
- Place a 270 ml can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight – scoop off the top solid layer – it’s around 1/2C.
- 8 pitted medjool dates
- 1/16t sea salt
- Pulse in a food processor until very smooth.
- Chill in the fridge…. if you have a little piping bag, you could pipe swirls on a cupcake, or simply spread over the little bombe shape as I did. Leftovers are brilliant spread on apple slices.
Either way, it’s a new dessert that will be on a regular rotation – I’m thinking the addition of carob powder would be really nice. I like desserts that you have options with – you could enjoy these just chilled from the fridge, light and fluffy. OR freeze them for a few hours, and you have yourself a little frozen sweetie surprise.
The plus side of a weekend trapped inside, cowering from the crazy storm – plenty to be foraged for those who dare:
Mangoes, oranges, lemons – all fallen from (public) trees in some of our surrounding parks… plus a few gutter-finds. That makes me sound weird. Foraging fruit from the gutter? Waste not, want not – especially when it comes to free fruit.
When I first heard of the 80/10/10 diet concept (and the similar “fruitarian” lifestyle) I thought it was just a recipe for excused-disordered-eating. I mean, how could you get all your nutrients from mainly fruit? I kind of judged the whole idea before looking into it properly. Now after doing a bunch of reading, and experiencing the lifestyle first hand, my perception is very different.
I must admit though, 10% fat from my daily calories is too little for me (personally) – my skin requires more (healthy) fats to keep my eczema at bay. 15-25% works for me, without effecting my digestion, energy levels or skin. High carb, low(ish) fat and moderate protein seems to be my ticket… let’s say 70/15/15 – doesn’t quite have the same catchy-ness to it, does it? Oh well.
I think that working out what ratio works for YOU is key here – some people function well on a moderate amount of carbs, and more fat, others might like more protein and so on. My dietary experiments are really helping me work out what is right for me – there’s no other way to determine it, you have to put the theory into practise, right?
Everyone knows I hate to waste food. Somehow (I wonder how?) I managed to end up with a huge bag of organic broccoli stalks from my new place of work that were destined for the bin. Waste not want not. Broccoli stalks are the most delicious parts of the vegetable in my opinion – you can shred them for “slaw,” juice them, or use the tender insides for a lovely raw soup creation (below).
Simply peel the woody outside off, and you are left with the sweet, delicious insides. Excuse my old lady nana hands…. that’s what you get when washing dishes for money.
Raw Creamy Tomato Soup
Makes 2 large serves
(RAW, Vegan, nut/soy/corn/grain/refined sugar free)
- 1C semi dried tomatoes – you could use fresh, just make sure they are super sweet ones. I like semi-dried as the flavour is more intense and fresh tomatoes hurt my stomach. I just dehydrate for about 18 hours at 60 degrees C.
- Juice of half a lemon
- Juice of one orange
- 1 large medjool date, pitted
- 1/4t sea salt
- 3T hopped fresh basil
- 1/4C Spring onions (scallions)
- 4T raw unhulled tahini
- 3C broccoli stalk cut into chunks OR white part of 3 zucchini – white insides only, you can use the outsides for zucchini noodles.
- Black pepper to taste
- 1-2C water, depending on how thick you like it.
- Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth, adding water until you reach the desired consistency. This will work in a food processor too, but it won’t get quite as smooth.
- Chill in the fridge before serving.
This was my first foray into raw-soup territory, and I have to say I was skeptical. I’ve never been a huge fan of cold soups – but I have been converted for sure.
Probably not optimal for those in a Winter climate, but it suited me on a super humid Queensland day. If you thinned it out (using the 2 cups of water), it would make a stunning salad dressing or raw pasta sauce. I like my soup thick though.
After spending the last few days working in hot kitchens, this soup was a refreshing simple snack to come home to…. I may be weird but I dunked raw mushrooms into this. The mushrooms were a small present (in case I got hungry) from the vegan-wary chef at my work. He considers all vegetarians to be freaks, so my educational spiel on raw veganism was quite the eye opener for him. Yeah, he was taking the piss giving me raw mushrooms, but to his disgust I ate about 20 in front of him. Ha.
Life never seems to let up, does it? It’s not going to slow down for anyone.
Not that I’m complaining, but this year has started off with a bang of busy-ness. Making lunches for both Viper AND Misty who has started at kindy (oh how they grow so fast!) working 2 jobs, yoga teacher training, plus domestic duties has me running around like a headless chook. Good thing I thrive on being BUSY.
My boys need lots of energy for their endeavours too, of course – and I want them to have quality fuel for their day. Viper would call these bars something along the lines of “Middle Earth Bars,” or “Hobbit food.” Basically this means that they are super dense, energy filled snacks that would definitely fuel a mission to Mordor, or a day at kindy. Also, I think Viper is poking fun at the look of my bars – unleavened bread, or a small windowless building, anyone? Looks aside, these are super tasty and filling…. plus Misty has deemed them Yummo.
These would be great for school lunches – nut free!
Apricot-Coconut Chocolate Chunk Bars
Vegan, wheat/corn/soy/ nut/refined sugar free.
- 1C quick oats
- 2/3C dessicated, toasted coconut*
- 3T toasted chickpea flour*
- 2T rapadura sugar (or granulated sweetener of choice)
- 1/2C chopped dried apricots
- 1/2C dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
- 1/2t ground cinnamon
- 1C almond milk (or desired milk)
- 1/4C soft vegan spread (nuttlelex, Earth Balance) OR coconut oil OR butter
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1t baking powder
- 1/8t baking soda
*Toasting really brings out the flavour of the coconut, and decreases to bitterness in the chickpea flour. Simply use a dry fry pan, stirring constantly until lightly brown and fragrant.
- Pre heat oven to 160 degrees C fan bake.
- Combine all ingredients except raising agents (baking soda/powder) and mix well.
- Fold through remaining ingredients gently.
- Scoop into a lined loaf pan and smooth out the top.
- Bake for 45-50 or until it feels firm in the middle. Turn off oven, leaving inside for a further 20 minutes.
- Place in fridge until fully cold.
- Slice into bars – store in the fridge.
I think the fact that I’m doing my yoga teacher training is my saving grace in this hectic schedule at the moment – I have to do yoga! It’s all kinds of winning in my book.
How do you cope with day-to-day craziness? What’s your favourite way to chillout?
Carbs. Carbohydrates. Givers-of-energy. Love ‘em? Scared of them?
Carbohydrates have had so much “bad press” in the food (well, diet) realm. Carbs make you fat! The Atkin’s fad (high protein, low carb = weight loss) the “low-carb lifestyle,” good carbs vs bad carbs. Where do you stand on this whole debacle?
A lot of people don’t think of fruits/vegetables as a form of carbohydrate…. when someone says “carbs,” you sort of instantly think of bread, rice, pasta, am I right? At the moment I am experimenting with the 80/10/10 lifestyle which maintains that the way to optimum health is to get 80% of your daily calories from carbohydrates (sweet fruits/vegetables in particular) 10% protein (from dark leafy greens) and 10% fat (nuts/seeds/avocado/oil etc). Fruit as your main fuel? Yip, that’s it in a nutshell – but does it work?
I have been eating this way for about 3 weeks, and I must say it has been effortless apart from the multiple trips to the greengrocer/market to replenish our produce supply. I’m feeling really good, so I don’t want to stop – I have more energy, no stomach issues after meals (usually bloating/pain) and my digestive system is working a treat (in the bathroom sense). If I feel a little lacking of motivation/energy I simply eat some fruit, and I’m on my way again – it’s the quickest way to pick yourself up, believe me. I’m sleeping much more soundly, which apparently is a sign of being appropriately “carbed up” before bed – puts that whole “NO CARBS at night!” premise to shame.
Interestingly, after my trials and tribulations with the Anti-Candida diet, I still had an on going issue with thrush. (Sorry if you’re squeamish, but I like to take the honest approach here, and feel it is an issue a lot of women suffer from and could use the advice). Following a few (unavoidable) heavy courses of antibiotics during my pregnancy, I have suffered from this on and off constantly – never quite being able to kick the nasty stuff. After cutting sugar totally (including all fruit) for months, and upping my healthy fat intake, I managed to get rid of all of the candida systems EXCEPT the thrush. I was under the impression that the fruit from sugar would feed the yeast imbalance in my system, but after eating SO much fruit these past few weeks- and limiting my fat- the thrush has gone completely(!) If you are interested in this topic, then this video explains the theory that FAT aggravates candida really simply and clearly.
My emotional health has also taken an upward turn…. I’m feeling a lot more balanced, and feel like I have the ability to focus better. I think it all boils down to having the energy to keep going throughout the day. Sweet fruits give you almost instant energy, which in turns makes you WANT to do things like exercise or tick things of the “To-Do List.” These kind of things (exercise, being productive) produce feelings of satisfaction, pride and achievement, am I right?
I’m not really into all the science-y descriptions or anything (I’m not the smartest in the “book-smarts” sense) but what I take from my research on the topic is that the body uses the energy from sweet fruits really easily (and quickly) plus (carbs) are optimum brain food. So a diet high in fruit & vegetable based carbohydrates promotes healthy digestion, sound sleep, and feeds the brain with it’s favourite fuel consistently? Could this be a ticket to stable emotional health too? Is this way of eating sustainable? I’ll keep you posted…..
I’m really embracing simplicity at the moment – especially when it comes to what I’m eating. It can get slightly overwhelming at times, reading recipes that require things like maca, lucuma, cacao, coconut nectar, yacon syrup, acai (I could go on and on) – these are all fabulously healthy ingredients – I’m not arguing that at all. I’m just feeling the need to eat simply at the moment – fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, some nuts, seeds and that’s about it. I feel incredible, and I don’t need to run to the health food store every five minutes and part with ridiculous sums of money for a “superfood fix.” I can definitely get all of my nutrients this way, I just have to eat MORE than I am used to – but I am more than happy with that conundrum.
I never thought that I would jump on the fully-raw bandwagon, but at the moment, in the peak of Summer – it’s just what I want to do. I never felt particularly good on a raw diet – but now after some intensive research I have concluded (for me) that it is the high fat raw vegan diet (also known as “Gourmet Raw”) that didn’t sit well in my stomach. The high quantity of fat (albeit GOOD fat) is frequently combined with fruit (think all those delicious fruit/nut type raw tarts, snack bars and pies) which for digestion, is not optimal.
I thought I’d share with you some new salad ideas that I have been enjoying lately- oil free dressing and an abundance of fresh produce – it’s a simple and delicious way to enjoy nature’s bounty that’s for sure.
(RAW,Vegan, gluten/wheat/dairy/soy/corn/refined sugar free,low fat)
- Flesh of 1 mango (about 1C of fruit)
- 1 large zucchinni (white part only) in chunks
- Juice of half a lemon – or more to taste (I like it zesty)
- 1/4t sea salt
- 4T chopped Spring onions (green bits)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2T unhulled tahini
- Blend all ingredients until very smooth (Makes 2 servings)
Tomato and Herb Salad Cream
(RAW, vegan, gluten/wheat/dairy/soy/corn/refined sugar free, low fat)
- 1/2C sun dried (or dehydrated) tomatoes without oil/sugar/salt (easiest to dehydrate your own, otherwise rinse off oil and pat dry)
- 1 large zucchini (white part only)
- 2T unhulled tahini
- 1 medjool date, pitted
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 clove raw garlic (optional)
- 1/2C chopped fresh herbs (basil, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley – any of these would be lovely)
- 1/4t sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Water to thin
- Soak the dehydrated tomatoes and date in water for at least 30 minutes – this will make it easier to blend.
- Drain (reserve the water for thinning out the sauce if needed) and blend all ingredients together until smooth, adding a splash of water at a time until you reach your desired consistency. (Makes 2 serves)
Simple RAW Salad
The trick with raw salads is in the preparation – chopping things finely and allowing the dressing time to marinate are KEY.
- 5 large leaves of silver beet (Swiss hard) shredded
- Large handful mixed green leaves, shredded
- 1 grated pumpkin (raw) – sounds weird but it is really good!
- 1/4 of a large avocado
- 3/4C raw broccoli (sprout part only, no stalk) finely chopped
- 1/2 a small Spanish Onion, finely diced
- 1 serving of Mango Mayonnaise or Tomato and Herb Salad Cream (half the above recipe)
- Toss dressing through salad ingredients thoroughly, and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
Have I convinced anyone? The key for me is that I FEEL great when eating like this – there is no point indulging in something if it’s going to make you uncomfortable for hours afterwards…. this way I get to eat what I love AND my body (stomach) loves me for it.
Oh and yes, this bowl is probably bigger than my head. Go big or go home I say.
Yesterday something crazy happened. After lunch I was sitting at the table, chatting and relaxing…. but I just couldn’t relax. I had SO much energy. I needed to DO something. I actually said, “I need to go for a run.” What?
I don’t run. I have tried – can’t do it, don’t like it. I think the last time I “ran” was on a treadmill 6 months ago for about 3 minutes. So why was I volunteering to go for a run for the fun of it? Why? I just felt like I had to. I put on my runners and headed out, thinking even if I just ran for 1 minute and then walked, that was fine. 25 minutes later, I was still running, and felt like I could keep going, only I stopped as it was about 35 degrees C out, and I think I was getting a bit scorched. What?
Could it be this new high carb way of eating? Who knows – except I kind of want to do it again. What?
Are you a runner? I’m not – but after yesterday I am a little more inspired to give it a go…. I can’t believe I’m typing this.
Anyway, just a quick recipe for you today – it’s been a scorching hot few days, and we’ve been doing the rounds of the beach, the paddling pool and cowering under the air conditioner. Frozen rock melon is my new favourite snack.
Sometimes the meals I make from leftovers end up being better than the original meal that provided said leftovers. A small lonely fillet of white fish seemed like an annoying thing to have lurking around my fridge – but with the addition of some grated veg and cheese, made a nice little snack even a toddler could get enthusiastic about (I always feel good if I get some fish into Misty for some reason).
Simple Veggie Fish Cakes
(Gluten/wheat/soy/nut/seed/egg/refined sugar free)
- 1/2C cooked white fish, flaked (or equivalent measure in tinned fish salmon/tuna etc)
- 1/2C grated zuccinni – squeeze out excess liquid (or grated carrot/pumpkin etc)
- 1/4C grated cheddar cheese
- 2T chickpea flour
- 1T water
- Salt & black pepper to taste
- Optional: a few tablespoons of chopped fresh dill
- Coconut oil/butter for cooking.
- Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl – the chickpea flour will act as the binder and the mix will stick together.
- Press into small cakes, using the palm of your hand to squeeze and shape.
- Heat a fry pan with a little coconut oil or butter over a medium heat, and cook cakes for around 3 minutes either side, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
- Serve with a little sour cream mixed with horseradish OR plain Greek yoghurt with a dollop of sweet chilli sauce.
This is another recipe that utilises chickpea flour in place of the usual egg (for it’s “binding” qualities) – it’s always worth having some on hand in the pantry if you ask me.
Viper is back to work, I’m back to making lunches. It’s quite a lot of effort, really, as I make it all from scratch. Packing lunches would be quick & easy if you just stuck to packaged snacks and the likes, but we all know that’s not really my style now is it? Anyway, I feel like I’ve been cooking for the masses – pasta salad, Mexican wraps, potato and zuccinni frittata, tea cakes and the following energy-boosting snack bar. He’s a hungry boy, our Viper.
Takes me back to my days at school and what I would have for lunch. My Mum is a pretty awesome baker and made a lot of our snacks herself (which, until you are doing it yourself, you never truly appreciate the effort that goes into it). We (my older sister and I) were never allowed those little packets of chips or anything like that, so I would say our lunch boxes were filled well with REAL food. When I got older, I had to start making my own lunch, which made for some interesting fare. I’m pretty sure I was very lazy back then, and my attempt at creativity would be Marmite and iceberg lettuce on a sandwich (which is actually REALLY good – alfalfa sprouts too). Peanut butter and jam was always a staple sandwich-filler as was cheese and Marmite (again, don’t knock it to you’ve tried it). We always had fruit – apples, pears, bananas – I’ve been a fruit bat for a long time.
What were/are your lunch box staples? Any crazy sandwich combos you are willing to admit to?
Anyway, the following bars are an easy-to-whip-up, tasty alternative to the processed candy bars masquerading as “healthy” snack bars on the supermarket shelves…. plus they are a lot cheaper which is always a bonus. Good for energy without the refined sugar crash.
Nut Free Oatie-Chocolate Energy Bars
(Vegan, wheat/soy/nut/corn/refined sugar free – gluten free* option below)
- 1/2C dark raisins
- 1/2C + 2T quick oats – *(if you want to make this gluten free you can sub in 3/4C dessicated coconut instead).
- 10 pitted soft dates
- 1t vanilla extract (optional)
- 3T coconut butter
- 1/4t sea salt
- 100g chocolate, roughly chopped or same amount in chocolate chips (I used an organic milk chocolate)
- Pulse all ingredients together except chocolate in the food processor until it all comes together in a very soft dough.
- You can either throw chocolate pieces into the food processor and pulse a few times, or remove dough and fold through yourself.
- To make bars, simple press into a baking tray or similar lined with baking paper.
- Pop in the fridge until set.
- Slice into bars, and store in the fridge.
These are great rolled into balls for little hands (and mouths) too – Misty always needs to grant approval, being my second in command in the kitchen of course.
So the holiday break is over – back to reality (and normality). I really love doing nothing at all. It’s simply lovely. Actually, I lie – while doing “nothing at all,” I spent a lot of time reading nutrition articles, blogs, forums, books and the likes. It’s amazing how much information regarding health and diet is out there. How much CONFLICTING information too – how does one navigate through all this and come to some sort of conclusion WITHOUT having a PhD in some really smart-science-type-thingymebob? I honestly don’t know.
Lack of a fancy degree really leaves me only one option in terms of discovering what type of diet truly works for me. Trial and error – which in turn, is rather “sciency” – and that’s not even a word. I have started looking more in depth towards the balance of macronutrients that make up my diet – in the attempt to feel more energetic and motivated. From my research I think I can pinpoint that I may have sort of, maybe, just a little bit over done things in terms of (healthy) fats in my diet (think – nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil). Now I’m not going to jump on the “fat is EVIL,” bandwagon, oh no – I love fats and they love me. I just have a problem with moderation. Sluggish digestion and energy slumps can be attributed to over doing it in the fat department – as well as combining fats with the wrong foods (fruit mainly). So my little experiment of the moment is slightly decreasing my fat consumption (slightly), not combining fat with sweet things, and upping my carbohydrates (the majority coming from fruit). We’ll see what happens. I’m glad to report I am feeling MUCH better having kicked the caffeine habit – yes, it was hideous coming down off the naughty bean for a few days, but well worth the pain. I still miss the taste though.
Are you interested in finding “optimum” health through food? Does all the conflicting info out there do your head in? Mine hurts.
Something else that is a science is baking. Baking bread in particular. I have learnt the hard way (Read: had to throw many a disaster-loaf) when it comes to trying to bend the rules of bread baking. There are a few things you can do though, to keep life (bread) interesting…. again with our lovely Sourdough starter.
Cranberry and Almond Sourdough Loaf
- 1 & 1/2C sourdough starter
- 3C flour (plus an additional 1/2C for kneading) – I used 1C rye flour and the rest high protein “strong” flour ( 00)
- 2t yeast
- 1/4t sea salt
- 4T liquid coconut oil plus additional oil for the bowl
- 1/4C runny honey
- 1C dried cranberries
- 1C almonds
- 1t ground cinnamon
- Combine starter with 2C of the flour, yeast, and oil – leave in a warm, draught free area for about 20 minutes.
- Add the honey, cinnamon, salt and rest of the oil to the bowl, and mix together with your hands.
- Turn out onto a floured surface – the dough is quite wet and you will need up to 1/2 and additional cup of flour here to get it to a soft, satiny dough. Knead for 10 minutes.
- Knead in nuts and berries for an additional 5 minutes – it’s a good arm workout.
- Oil a clean bowl and place dough ball in it…. leave for 30 minutes.
- Lightly knead dough and place in your chosen cooking container – I used a 25cm cake tin this time, for a different shape, but a regular loaf pan will be fine too.
- Leave to rise for another 20 minutes.
- Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and it sounds hollow when you tap it.
- Cool on a wire rack.
I think this has been my most successful bread making experiment yet. Next up Viper (he of discerning tastes) has requested an apricot and walnut variety – at least I’m getting him to eat something other than sugary white fluff loaves, right?
I can’t handle it when people make comments. You know, those unnecessary, annoying little jabs for no reason. I’m talking in “real world” terms here – not as in blog comments. I was pushing Misty (and a huge shopping trolley full of fruit & veg) back to the car. As we were in the middle of crossing the road, Misty decided to pick up the receipt and throw it out of the trolley (and the wind grabbed it). Knowing I needed to secure Misty (and the trolley) on the foot path before chasing the stupid receipt, I continued to finish crossing the (busy-ish) road. A lady passing me looked down her nose at Misty and snarkily said, “That’s littering, you know.”
Seriously? Can’t you see I’m struggling to control large trolley, energetic toddler and am trying to cross the road?
I’ll have you know, that once Misty was safely on the other side of the road, I retrieved the runaway receipt, and all was well. I didn’t need a complete stranger telling my son what is what in the world. I don’t know, maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I can’t stand it when people put in their “two cents,” unwarranted. If you were a friend, or family member? OK, sure that’s fine – you know me, and I don’t mind hearing your opinion. Strangers? Yeah not so much.
I suppose I’ve been pretty lucky in the whole “blogging-world” that my ramblings have attracted a lovely, supportive audience. I have only had one negative-ish comment which implied I was “annoying.” Yeah, I’ll take that – I probably do sound annoying to a lot of people – Viper tells me I am all the time. What I’m getting at are those old sayings, treat others how you would like to be treated yourself – AND – if you can’t say something nice (or constructively critical) then don’t say it.
You can count on me thinking a lot of comments/comebacks/remarks – but I never say them…. maybe because I am a wuss and hate confrontation – or maybe because I know they do not really need to surface – they won’t bring any positivity to the situation at hand.
Anyway, Misty is still loving his smoothies – actually Misty always loves anything in liquid form from a bottle. I try and sneak in as many nutritional goodies as I can…. and you may think I’m a little crazy (feel free to comment, on my mental state – I won’t be offended) but I have been adding beans to his day time liquid-snacks. Chickpeas go down a treat, believe or not.
Misty’s Sneaky Bean & Banana Smoothie
(Gluten/wheat/soy/corn/refined sugar free.) Vegan if you use an alternative to honey. Nut free if you use coconut/rice/soy milk.
Makes 2-3 large serves
- 1 large (ripe) banana
- 1/3C chickpeas (cooked, rinsed, drained)
- 2-3 cups almond milk, depending on how thick you want it (any other milk is fine to use)
- 1T tahini
- 2T raw honey
- Small pinch sea salt
- 1t pure vanilla extract
- Blend all ingredients together until very smooth. Start with 2C milk…. adding more for a thinner consistency.
Optional ….. a few teaspoons of carob powder is delicious as well.
Misty decided that his smoothie needed a “hat.”
I can’t wait until somebody tries to give me parenting advice while Misty is chucking a tantrum at the local shopping mall – oh yes, that will be a grand day indeed (insert intense sarcasm here).
Thoughts? Are you one to speak your mind whatever that may mean? Or are you a “naughty thinker” like me? Ever had a really annoying comment from a complete stranger?
It’s quite funny the whole “New Year, New YOU,” sentiment that is a constant theme during January – the resolutions, the detoxing, the “cleansing.” As I’ve said, I’m all for goal setting and healthy aspirations, but why is there such a big movement towards “bettering ourselves” at the beginning of the year? Why not March? Or October? It amuses me.
Anyway, I’m quite happy to say that I didn’t over-indulge in much during the silly season. Although I probably drank far too much cider, vodka and caffeine – but nothing to warrant a detox. I have, however stopped drinking coffee (the Shock! the Horror! My Head!) which has been quite a nasty experience. Man oh Man have I got a headache. The last week I have been SO tired (while still consuming at least 2 cups of Joe per day) – to the extent to multiple naps (oh the luxury of having Viper home to Misty-wrangle) and still feeling like a zombie.
So I decided to cut it out cold turkey. Ouch. I’m on day 3 now, and the headache has faded, but it is still there in the background, just hanging on, trying to tempt me into cranking up the coffee machine. Although, it wasn’t just the coffee contributing to my caffeine intake….I’ve been eating a LOT of cacao and cocoa. Delicious, yes – but they still contain caffeine. Also, when I say a LOT, I mean up to 1/2C of the stuff a day. Way way WAY to much of a good thing, no?
I’m all for intuitive eating – and lately all I have wanted is FRUIT (and I mean lots of it). I may be tempting fate, but my candida issues haven’t been a problem, and tis the season for tropical fruit aplenty, is it not? (Southern Hemisphere).
I have been enjoying many a “fruit soup” such as the one above – 1 frozen banana, 1 mango, 5 fresh apricots. Just delicious. I’ve also cracked out my trusty juicer and having been having a LOT of vegetable juice – it’s just too hot here to feel like much else. I suppose it’s a positive thing, all this fruit & veg – I’m not using salt on EVERYTHING as I usually do…. just enjoying nature’s fare unadulterated.
Viper, on the other hand, is not so enthused by the idea of being a plant-muncher – he does partake in the odd juice though (more fruit than veg) and when asked if he would like a fresh veggie juice for breakfast, he replied, “Coffee?” Ah well. I have been getting much use out of my sour dough starter for the Man of the house – pizza bases.
Sourdough Pizza Base:
Makes 2 Bases
- 1 & 1/2C sourdough starter
- 1& 1/2C organic plain flour (high grade (strong) flour works really well here)
- 1t sea salt
- 1t dried mixed herbs (optional)
- 6T olive oil
- Mix all ingredients together and leave to sit for about 30 minutes.
- Carefully scoop out dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until dough comes together.
- Split dough in half.
- Sandwich the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to desired thickness – repeat with other half.
- Pre-bake pizza bases quickly – 200 degrees C for 8 minutes.
- Top with your favourite pizza toppings, and then back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
This creation for Viper was made up of a home made sweet tomato and red capsicum sauce, sliced red onions, black olives, zucchini ribbons, shredded chicken and cheddar cheese.
I suppose, even after my snorting at the significance of New Year’s resolutions/cleanses/detoxing – I am cleansing myself in a way aren’t I? Cutting the caffeine - will it be worth the headache? Only time will tell.
Hit me will YOUR intentions for yourself – New Year or not, it’s nice to have goals, right?
It’s stone fruit season here. All those glorious gems – apricots, peaches, plums – and my personal favourite, nectarines. I went a little crazy and bought far too many of the latter….. my dehydrator has been running constantly, and my jars have been filling up with sweet sweet fruity jewels.
Sorry to disappoint, but I have no exciting tale of my planned New Year’s Eve’s adventures, or a list of melodramatic achievements I wish to pursue next year. Honestly, I don’t understand the hoo-ha that goes along with New Years – especially the whole resolution thing. It’s a grand idea to set goals and have aspirations, of course, but I don’t need a shiny new year to do that. All I can say on the subject of New Years is I am blessed to be here for another one. I hope you all enjoy your celebrations, nonetheless – I think I will go to bed and enjoy the extra hours sleep and lack of a hangover tomorrow.
Misty is on another one of his “I will only eat if it is a liquid in a bottle, therefore I shall not eat, but DRINK,” kicks. In an attempt to get something solid in his system, I whizzed up some little fruity truffles – all the goodness of breakfast in ball form. I know most of you won’t be in the midst of stone fruit season – if you don’t have access to dried nectarines, dried peaches or apricots would be lovely as well.
(Vegan, nut, soy, wheat free, refined sugar free)
- 1C dried nectarinej
- 20 soft pitted dates
- 3/4C quick oats
- 1/2C flax seed meal
- 2T liquid coconut oil
- 1/2t cinnamon
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1/4t sea salt
- Pulse everything together until a soft dough is formed.
- Roll into balls and chill in the fridge until firm.
- Store in the fridge.
…..these balls were finally pronounced “Oh Yum!”
Tell me about YOUR exciting NYE plans as I don’t have any. Maybe I can live vicariously through the tales of others?
I’m not going to do a huge Christmas-Eats recap as honestly we didn’t put too much emphasis on the food on December 25. Sacrilege!
There was a huge avocado/mango salad…. rice and lettuce wraps (make your own), macadamia and pinto bean dip, tofu, prawn skewers and smoked salmon (for Viper & Misty) and yeah, lots of vodka cocktails.
My favourite thing was these frozen nectarine stars I made (to go in said vodka cocktails) – I just blended up nectarines in the food processor and poured into little silicone moulds. Perfect to pop into cocktails – as they melt they add an awesome fruity hit. Good to eat on their own too. Basically, it was too hot to do much more than laze around (and drink). Perfect. Good thing Misty got a paddling pool from Santa. Viper & myself must have been very bad this year (or we just got lazy and decided to flag pressies).
I’m not a huge bread fan. I don’t like sandwiches, I’d rather just eat the filling bit. The only time I went on a toast-bender was when I was pregnant (and the only thing that didn’t make me want to chuck was tomato on toast). It just doesn’t excite me that much. Viper, on the other hand is bread-obsessed…. we go through a LOT of bread in this house. I quite enjoy the process of bread making, actually – it’s quite fascinating.
Bread making is one instance where you HAVE to stick to the recipe. I have had a LOT of failures, due to rule-straying. I have a bread maker, but I must admit, my best loaves have been the ones I made completely myself – kneading, proving and the likes. The lactic acid fermentation makes sour dough one of the more easily digested and healthful breads out there. This isn’t strictly a traditional sour dough recipe, as it uses additional yeast in the bread making part (it’s not wholly naturally leavened) …. but it is a pretty simple project to undertake, and the final product has a brilliant sour flavour and lovely texture.
I used rye flour in my starter, but you can use plain flour if that suits you better. As starters go, this is quite a simple one to grow/maintain, although it is not vegan. I may try and play around with a vegan version soon – just needed to perfect this one for the bread-monsters I live with first.
Yoghurt-Based Sour Dough Starter:
- 1C plain yoghurt
- 1C rye flour
- 1C water
- 2t yeast granules
- Mix all ingredients together in a large glass jar/container.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm, dark, draught free area for 4-7 days (depending on temperature). It will bubble and go a bit crazy for the first day or so (hence use a LARGE jar/container so it doesn’t over-flow) but will settle down.
- Each day stir with a clean spoon, and give it a sniff – when it smells very sour, it is ready to use (mine took 4 days, and it was on average 26-30 degrees C where I live).
- Pop a lid on, and store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Each time you take out starter to use for bread, replace it with the same amount of flour/water. For example, if you take out 1 & 1/2C starter, stir together 1 & 1/2C flour and around 2C water and stir into the starter. This is food for the starter. Keep the jar out at room temperature for about 12 hours before putting back in the fridge – the starter will bubble up.
- Even if you don’t make bread every week – you MUST take out 1 & 1/2C of the old starter and feed it – either give it away to friends, or just chuck out. Otherwise your starter will starve.
Simple Sough Dough Bread:
- 1 & 1/2C starter
- 2C high grade (baker’s flour) – it could be called “strong” flour or 00 flour too.
- 2t yeast granules
- 1/2t sea salt
- 1T raw sugar
- 2T oil (olive works well)
- 1/2C milk
1. Mix these first ingredients and leave to rest for 15 minutes (if you want a really sour flavour in the bread leave for longer).
- 1C +3T organic plain flour (or more rye flour)
2. Add in additional flour and knead for about 10 minutes on a floured board. The dough should become smooth and silky, and spring back when pressed lightly.
3. Slug a bit of additional oil in a large bowl, and turn the dough through it a few times. Leave to rise for 40 minutes,covered in a warm, dark place.
4. Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees) for around 25-30 minutes, or until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Depending on the shape of bread you like, you can bake it in a normal loaf pan, wing it and “free-form” a loaf, or even use a cake pan.
5. Cool on a wire rack.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas….. What did you get up to? Tempted to try making your own starter for bread?
If you follow me on Face Book – you would have seen me hounding you all for votes for a recipe competition featuring Australian Macadamias (above photo courtesy of Australian Macadamias). Thank you to everyone that voted for me – I won! My photo/recipe now take pride of place on the front cover of the 2013 Australian Macadamias calendar.
BUT, the editor of the calendar may need his/her eyes checked. Unfortunately when I received my copy, it seems that the MAIN INGREDIENT (except for the macadamias, of course) was forgotten (!) FAIL. The tofu was left out, and the salt/vanilla quantities were written around the wrong way – so if anyone attempts to re create this tart it will be a salty flop with hardly any creamy filling. Empty, over salted tart shell, anyone?
Anyway, I took it upon myself to post the recipe here, because it is simple, delicious and surprisingly healthy – although it tastes SO decadently sinful. Viper even stated that this was one of my finest creations, and requested that he received one every evening. Yeah right, Viper.
Macadamia Shortbread Tart with Lemon Coconut Cream
(Vegan, soy/seed/refined sugar/wheat free – gluten free if you use certified oats)
This post is going to be an absolute mish-mash. Maybe this will give you an indication of the way my mind works (a million miles a minute) – and my inability to focus/stick to any sort of structure. Yeah, I’m pretty susceptible to a tangent… even while in the act of cooking. Things started with popcorn, visited a sugar-free sweetener, and ended up with cream cake, Confused? Yeah, me too.
It makes sense to start at the beginning. I wanted to make something using popcorn: Misty is obsessed with it, and after the success of my Popcorn Balls, I knew I had to experiment. I thought I would just make snack- bars, but then I decided that I could use these as an “add-in” to baking – like a fruity chocolate chunk? It’s always good to have a nut free option on hand, right?
Nut Free Fruity Choc-Chunks:
(Vegan, nut/gluten/wheat/soy/refined sugar free)
- 4C (popped) popcorn
- 1C dark raisins
- 1/4t sea salt
- 3T cacao powder (or carob/cocoa)
- 2T coconut oil*
- 1T water
- In a food processor, pulse together popcorn and raisins until they are all ground up. Add other ingredients, adding coconut oil and water last – it will seem like it’s not going to come together, but it will!
- Press out to your desired thickness – the mix is very sticky and soft (rolling out between 2 sheets of baking paper works well) and place in the freezer overnight. This gives the popcorn time to soak in the oil, and it forms more or a solid bar.
- Cut into small chunks and store in the freezer (fridge if you use cacao butter as suggested below)
* If you want a more solid chunk that holds it’s shape out of the fridge for longer, use cacao butter in place of the coconut oil.
You can use these as a snack bar (cut into larger pieces) or as a alternative to plain dried fruit or chocolate chips in baking/desserts – I know, I know, they are nothing like a chocolate chip – just something yummy to have on hand when you don’t have chocolate. I hardly ever use/buy chocolate chips due to the fact I can’t find a decent vegan option – I usually just chop up a good quality dark chocolate, or make my own raw chocolate. This recipe makes about 1 & 1/4 C worth of chunks.
I recently received a nice little package from the people at Natvia/Vitarium **- a company that makes a stevia/erythritol blend. As you can see from the picture, they produce a range of sugar-free sweeteners for use in both drinks and baking. From my experience this blend is an easily accessible (from the supermarket) option for those who want to cut down sugar. Most products that boast being “sugar-free” are usually flashing red warning signs for me (toxic! chemicals! crap!) but not this stuff – it’s natural – hooray. My personal preference will always be NuNaturals Vanilla stevia (which I get from the US) but many people find straight stevia has a bitter after taste that is unpalatable. Natvia doesn’t have that bitter after taste thanks to the inclusion of erythritol, which really does mellow out the flavour, and makes it a fabulous ingredient for wherever you would usually add sugar.
I decided to combine an experiment using both Natvia’s Baking Blend AND the Mocha flavoured Drinking Chocolate – as well as including my latest Fruit Choc-Chunk creation.
Vanilla Cream and Chocolate Brownie Cake
(Vegan, gluten, wheat, nut, refined sugar free)
Brownie Cake Base:
- 1 & 1/2C cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2C brown rice flour
- 3T natvia baking blend*
- 2T mocha natvia drinking chocolate powder*
- 2T cacao
- 1/4t salt
- 1/2C coconut milk
- 1/2t vanilla extract
* If you do not have access to Natvia, simply use 1/4C granulated sweetener, plus 3T cacao powder and 2t ground espresso)
- Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until well combined.
- Spoon mix into a lined loaf tin (make sure the baking paper has some decent over-hang to make getting the cake out of the pan easier) and bake at 160 degrees C for 25 minutes – it will appear cracked on top, and seem super dense – perfect!
- Keep cake IN the pan, chill in the fridge.
- 300g silken tofu
- 3T coconut butter
- 3T cacao butter (or additional coconut butter if you do not have cacao butter)
- 2t lemon juice
- 3T Nativa baking blend (or your choice of sweetener – 2T agave – 15 drops liquid stevia etc)
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1/8t sea salt
- 2/3C Fruity Choc-Chunks (recipe above)**
**You can sub in regular chocolate chunks or any sort of dried fruit if you don’t want to bother making the Fruit Choc-Chunks – cherries and pistachios would make a very festive looking dessert.
- Blend all ingredients except Fruity Choc-Chunks together until very smooth.
- Fold the chunks into the mix.
- Pour on top of brownie base, and place in the freezer for at least an hour – until “set” but not frozen.
- Cut into slices/squares.
- Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
Yeah, I know, beans and tofu in one dessert? AND no sugar? Trust me – it’s an interesting process, yes – but the end result is delicious. Super high protein and without the sugar-induced coma.
Do you go off on tangents while involved in the cooking-process as I do? Tofu AND beans in a dessert – game to try? Or has the silly season gone to my head?
**Disclaimer – I received some samples of Natvia, but was under no obligation to post/review the products. I also received one of the Vitarium Banana-flavoured powders to add to milk (targeted at children) which contains cochinel (colour 120) which I obviously am not a fan of – and will not give to Misty.
I was never a big cheese fan. I liked it OK, back in the day of dairy-eating, but was never crazy for the stuff. I suppose that little factor made my transition into being a vegan relatively simple; cheese is the one thing that holds a lot of people back. I have dabbled a few times in the art of nut “cheese,” using soaked cashews or macadamias to produce a cheese-like substance. True (dairy) cheese lovers will never be fooled by a vegan substitute (or may even be totally weirded out by them = Viper) but they are quite yummy in their own right.
Recently, the lovely Sara from Fit To Blog (who I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, on my last junket to New Zealand) posted about her adventures in almond cheese making. She used probiotic capsules to culture her nut cheese (whenever I hear the term “cultured food,” I imagine a sandwich in opera glasses drinking an aged marzemio, Ha) – I am always up for adding a little “culture” to my food, and this sounded a whole lot more fun than just swallowing a tablet. You can follow Sara’s instructions here – I basically stuck to her method, with a few tweaks, naturally.
Basic Cultured Almond “Cheese”
Adapted/Inspired by the recipe/method from Fit To Blog
- 2C raw almonds (or cashews/macadamias)
- 1/2C water
- 1/4C nutritional yeast
- Powder from 2 probiotic capsules
- 1/2t sea salt
- Any flavourings you like – fresh/dried herbs/sun dried tomatoes etc.
- First you need to soak your almonds overnight or until they get a little white tip (pictured below).
- Peeling the nuts is optional, but the end result will be much prettier and smoother if you do.
4. Pour mixture into a bowl, and leave overnight to “culture-up.” Be aware that this stage could take longer if you are in a colder climate – it’s very warm where I live (over 30 degrees celsius most days) so if you are in a colder climate this could take anywhere from 12-36 hours. Trust your nose – as is the key with all fermenting ventures!
5. Place mixture in some cheese cloth, and squeeze out all excess liquid. (Hint – save this liquid – mix it with some tahini, whole grain mustard and apple cider vinegar and it makes a yummy, creamy salad dressing).
6.Pat into small individual “rounds” and dehydrate at 90 degrees C, flipping over once, until you achieve your ideal cheesy consistency.
After dehydrating, the “cheese” has a delicate outer crust, with a soft centre – in between a dry cottage cheese and a crumbly feta? It’s really up to you – if you dehydrated it long enough, it would become dry and crumbly – the perfect parmesan substitute!
No, it’s not CHEESE….. BUT it does contain essential bacteria for a healthy gut, plus all the goodness from almonds, and it has quite a sharp, cheesy flavour thanks to the nutritional yeast. Brilliant on salads, and I can see a vegan cheese-board with home made crackers in my very near future, that’s for sure. Frankly, the vegan cheese substitutes I have tried from the supermarket resemble AND taste like chemical-laden-plastic, so to have a straight forward, whole food recipe for one is quite exciting. Thank you, Sara!
Are you a cheese lover? If you are vegan – do you miss cheese? What’s your favourite alternative?
Like I said, when I need motivating, I get stuck into some cleaning. It seems like both Viper and I needed some sort of project to keep us sane over the weekend, so while he started painted Misty’s room, I attacked our bench tops.
We have these nice looking but functionally ridiculous wooden benches. Yes, they please the eye, but they are not really suited to one (me) who is constantly cooking, making a mess and spreading liquid around. Let’s just say that these benches get ugly quickly. I am realising mid-type that I am actually writing a post about cleaning and maintaining my kitchen bench tops. Seriously? Who am I? I think I just woke up this morning and am 63 years old. Seriously.
Anyway, I’ve started writing this “Nana-Post”so I will finish. There is even a pretty useful DIY recipe included. I decided to play around with a home made wood-polish that could also act as a barrier (somewhat) for the constant liquid spills that happen in a kitchen. Enter beeswax.
If you don’t have the need for this polish (read: you have functional kitchen bench-tops) then this works a treat on wooden chopping boards, children’s wooden toys – I even tried it on leather boots and it really made them look spiffy.
It really is the most simple thing…..
- 1 part grated beeswax
- 4 parts oil – I use olive
Melt your beeswax (I have an old saucepan that I use specifically for non-food cooking like this) add oil, pour into a jar, and leave it to solidify.
Easy as that.
All you do is rub it onto your wooden surface, and work it in with a cotton rag or similar. If it gets on your skin, then rub it in there too, as it is a lovely (albeit greasy) moisturiser to boot. Perhaps a lovely home made Christmas present for the wooden-product-enthusiast in your family? Ha.
I don’t care if it makes me a fuddy-duddy before my time; I find making my own “Green Home” products quite therapeutic…. plus you KNOW they are safe and are much cheaper in the long run. Particularly for things like children’s wooden toys, you want something that is natural – because we all know EVERYTHING goes in the mouth, right?
I don’t know – maybe it’s just a sign of “growing up,” or “maturing,” (notice the inverted commas here) but I seem to get a lot of satisfaction from things I used to deem BORING a few years ago. Gardening, craft, cooking, reading a thick novel – even cleaning and home maintenance for Pete’s sake. All-night partying and mischief doesn’t have quite the allure any more.
What do you think? Are there things you have so much more appreciation for now than say a few years back?
Misty had his first “Santa” experience today. To be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of Santa, but I will play along – Christmas is for the kids, right?
The whole notion of Santa weirds me out a little. Viper calls me The Scrooge as he is all for everything Christmas-related. Anyway, the point of my little Santa-rant is to bring up my issue of the day. Today my plate of home made, healthful muffins (or cupcakes) was left in the kitchen at Misty’s Play Group Christmas party. This was no accident, and I didn’t realise until later what had happened. Typical Misty didn’t really want a bar of the whole “Christmas Party Orchestration” and had made a beeline outside to play.
By the time Misty and myself had made it indoors, the shared morning tea was pretty much done and dusted. My plate was still in the kitchen, all alone. Too brown? Too boring? Not laden with sprinkles, colourful frosting or doused in sugar? I don’t know about you, but I would consider these REAL food – and they ARE tasty – Misty ate 3 in a row when he decided it was time to eat. Good boy. It’s funny, I thought I was being responsible bringing a nut/gluten/refined sugar free treat to a children’s party (!)
I’m not trying to be preachy or anything – I’m not going to tell anyone what to eat, or what they should feed their child. I’m not going to touch that can of worms with a 10 foot pole…. yeah I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to public confrontation. I just think if kids become used to “food” being of the processed, additive-laden, multi-coloured variety, then we are just setting up this new generation for a life time of health implications. It’s not about being a “Scrooge” or a “Kill-Joy-Hippie” – real, wholesome, nutritious food IS delicious, we as the adults have to set the example, am I right?
Speaking of nutritious, delicious food, my gorgeous friend made this recipe for healthy gingerbread cookies for the party – and Misty loved them. Why can’t healthy yummy food such as this be the majority, not the minority? Photo credit goes to her for the Santa-snap above too.
Fruity Nut-Free Cup Cakes
(Nut/wheat/refined sugar free – gluten free if you use certified oats)
- 1/2C oats
- 1C sunflower seeds
- 2T coconut sugar (or any granulated sugar such as rapadura)
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1/3C dark raisins
- 1/3C dried strawberries (or any dried fruit – cranberries or apricots would work well)
- 1/4t baking soda
- 1t baking powder
- 1C mashed banana (about 2 medium sized bananas)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3C milk (any full fat milk will be fine here – almond, soy, cow, coconut)
- 2t apple cider vinegar
- 1/2t pure vanilla extract
- 1T liquid coconut oil or other neutral tasting oil (melted butter would be fine too)
- Pre heat oven to 170 degrees C fan bake.
- Make your “flour” by whizzing together the sunflower seeds and oats in a food processor until a fine meal is formed.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Lightly whisk together wet ingredients, and carefully fold into the dry.
- Spoon into silicone cup cake moulds, or a lined/greased muffin tin…. I only filled the cup cake moulds about 2/3 full for a smaller cake.
- Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown and “springy” to the touch.
Thoughts? Am I being over-the-top or do you agree?
It’s quite nice…. the most popular posts I have written have been about emotional health. Not some trivial recipe, or incoherent ramble, but about a TRUE issue – trying to maintain balance with ones emotional well being. I’ve talked about my struggles with depression and anxiety quite a few times – going off medication, returning to medication and the likes.
In my opinion, the key to maintaining good mental health is motivation…. something I struggle with daily. When I am really down in the dumps, I have no motivation to get out of bed, let alone embark on achieving something like making breakfast/leaving the house/doing the washing. Luckily I haven’t felt this poorly in a good few years; I suppose Misty is my biggest motivation in that sense – I don’t have the “luxury” of being able to curl up into a ball and wish the world away any more!
I’m talking about general, everyday motivation here – the drive to achieve something, no matter it’s size or apparent importance. Usually, my “motivating activities” are cooking or yoga – but some days the thought of messing up the kitchen, or rolling out my mat seems like too much. How do you stay motivated? I’ve been thinking about this the past few days, and have come up with a list that helps me bust my way out of a funk. Once every so often, though, none of these work, and spending the day in my pajamas, on the couch watching movies is the only solution – and that is fine too – again, it’s all about balance.
- Eat well, drink enough fluid (keeping caffeine/alcohol in moderation)
I know if I eat crap food – I feel like crap. Sugar is a huge offender in this sense – you get a buzz, but before you know it, you plummet back down to that low – a vicious cycle. Same goes with alcohol and caffeine. Stick to whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible…. drink LOTS of water. Fresh fruit, veggies – you know they are good for you, so just get into them.
- Get enough sleep/rest.
This is my worst offender at the moment – Misty isn’t sleeping well, which means I don’t sleep well. Feeling like you are going through the day walking through concrete is not the most motivating way to be. Get in as much quality rest as you can – if this means power-napping then by all means do it – I know I do.
- Find an activity/hobby you love.
Something you get joy out of doing – a craft, reading, cooking, a team sport – whatever it is, the fact that it makes you happy is key. Try something different, learn a new skill – keeping the brain active is really important, and the positive energy that goes along with it is so beneficial.
- Have something to care for – a vegetable garden, or a pet for example.
Something other than yourself to tend to – something that needs you to survive. Viper still maintains that getting Boosty was the best thing we have done in terms of my happiness. I think it’s the notion of “getting out of your own head” – being responsible for another living thing (and yes, I have a Misty to add to the bunch now too).
- Start cleaning.
This may sound weird, but I always maintain that a cluttered house results in a cluttered, overwhelmed mind. Having a toddler means that my house is cluttered and disgusting 99% of the time, however on those odd occasions I find the motivation to clean & tidy, I feel a million times more relaxed. Get rid of items you don’t use – donate useful things to charity – do a good turn while ridding yourself of clutter in your living space. Cleaning is actually quite physical too – I find once I’m in the cleaning groove, it wakes me up and makes me feel like I accomplished something. Sitting back and enjoying a lovely clean home and a cup of tea is a good feeling, for sure.
- Cut out stress-factors in your life, and stop over-committing yourself.
Don’t be afraid to say NO to people…. over committing yourself, or spreading yourself too thinly is just asking for trouble. Stress is going to kill you before anything else does – it’s not something you need in your life. Be realistic – choose a few things and do them WELL, rather than saying ‘Yes! Of course!’ to everything, and then feeling bad that you don’t have the time/energy to do them properly.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Setting goals is a great motivating activity – just don’t beat yourself up if things don’t work out. Relish the journey – not just the end result – learn from your mistakes. Be realistic and accepting of yourself and your own capabilities.
This is probably one of the hardest things for me to find motivation for – but I know every time I push myself to go out for a walk, or get on my yoga mat, I WILL feel better afterwards. I never regret it. A little gentle exercise will do wonders…. get the blood pumping and remember to BREATHE. I have some of my best ideas when I go out for a walk, there is something about moving my body that clears my mind – I am able to think freely and creatively. If you can’t stomach the thought of being physical, then light some incense, put on some relaxing music, stretch out and BREATHE…. it truly works wonders.
Just so you know, I had a really tough time with getting motivated today. I know in my situation as a stay-at-home Mum, it can all get a little “Ground-Hog Day,” and that, in turn makes it hard to stay focused and energised. After an average nights sleep, all I wanted to do this morning was go back to bed. It was a struggle to get going, believe me. I actually went through the list above today, and did most things. I made a conscious effort to drink lots of fresh water (and stick to ONE coffee – which I was rather proud of), Misty and I tended to the garden, took Boosty to the park, and spent a good while just lying in bed reading stories. A small yoga “snack” with a 20 minute session, and a nice fresh salad for lunch – I finally began to feel my brain “fog” lift.
That’s another thing – I think it’s important to keep in mind, that however crappy you feel at any given time – it will pass. It took me from 5am until just after 1pm to shake my funk…. but the afternoon started looking a lot brighter. Keep that little positive thought in the back of your mind, that is will always get better…. because it will.
Be kind to yourself, and go gently about your day.
What do YOU do to keep motivated and happy?
I’m really slack when it comes to taking part in nominated blog-awards/questionnaires and the likes. Sara, Kari, Claire, Kristin and probably some other lovely bloggers that I have forgotten have tagged/nominated me for a variety of these things.
We all know I’m not one to follow the rules, so I thought I would answer a few questions from everyone – and then add in some randomness.
If you had to limit yourself to 10 foods for one week, what would they be? Carrots, apples, buckwheat groats, raisins, almond butter, coconut oil, dark chocolate, coffee and red wine.
If you could meet anyone alive today, who would you meet? Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones). Just the fact that he IS still alive after his career and substance abuse is amazing enough – but he would be an absolute fascinating person to meet.
Do you shop at op shops/charity shops? why or why not? YES. Pretty much my whole house and wardrobe is from junk stores/jumble sales/op shops. You get groovy, quirky stuff for an absolute bargain – what’s not to love about that? Viper and I bonded over our shared love of thrifting – we go on family adventures to junk stores on the weekends.
What was the last gift you gave that made you smile? A little bouncy rubber ball for Misty – he got SO much joy out of it. Seriously, heart melting material, he was so happy. Bless.
What do you think of cosmetic enhancements like botox and dermal fillers? A sign of the worship of youth, or simple maintenance? Wrong – So.Wrong. The thing is, botox & dermal fillers make you look totally plastic, way too shiny and just plain weird. It doesn’t look natural at all – you can tell the person has been “altered” in some way, which really defeats the purpose of the whole exercise – yes?
Something on my Christmas list this year? Well, we aren’t really doing the whole present thing this year…. so I should probably say something like world peace, right? World peace and a nice glass of bubbles, that will do me.
Random Lou Facts:
- I am obsessed with talking about/watching videos/reading stories about giving birth. I get all excited – and even start crying. Giving birth was seriously the coolest thing I have ever done (painful, yes – but awesome) Viper thinks I’m nuts.
- I hate sharing pillows. Viper always tries to put his head on mine and it drives me nuts. I need my own pillow-space; get away from me.
- The Young Ones is my favourite show of all time.
- I love dingy old pubs. The dingier the better…. somewhere I can go wearing thongs (flip flops) and a flannelette shirt, have a cider and shoot the breeze. Not a big fan of fancy schmancy bars and hipsters – or having to preen myself.
- I love a good dress-up-party…. and I haven’t been to one in far too long.
Thanks to anyone and everyone who included me in their blog-award-nominations. Sorry for not following the rules, that’s just how I roll.
Join in and tell me something random about YOU.
I’ve been enjoying the most lazy of lazy weekends – so I am just popping in to share with you the winner for my Christmas give away. Beach swimming, yoga, apple cider, gardening and movie-watching have been my weekend loves…. I hope you are all having a lovely time too. Congratulations to fellow blogger KARI who posted:
“What a lovely idea Lou – and so organised Happy Christmas to you in advance and I hope the lead up to your festive season is everything you want it to be.
I haven’t decided what will be on my Christmas menu yet, but I think a nut roast will be involved “
Thank you to everyone that entered – as a consolation prize, here is a recipe…..
I’m all about “bits” – that is, the yummy little add-ins to cookies/bars and the likes. There’s nothing worse than getting a cookie with 3 measly raisins in it – massive rip off. These cookies are more “bits” than cookie – huge chunks of macadamia nuts and sweet dried strawberries, barely held together by a small amount of dough for the “glue” aspect. You could use any nuts of dried fruit you like – cranberries, pecans and cinnamon would also be lovely for a real Christmas-y version.
Strawberry Vanilla Macadamia Cookies
(Vegan, soy/corn/refined sugar free)
- 1T chia seeds mixed with 4T water (OR 1 flax “egg” OR one regular egg)
- 2T (solid) butter or vegan spread (Earth Balance, Nuttelex etc)
- 2T (liquid) coconut oil
- 1/2C chopped macadamia nuts (or any nuts/seeds)
- 1/4t sea salt
- 2/3C dried strawberries (or any dried fruit – cranberries, apricots, figs, dates)
- 1t vanilla extract
- 3T brown rice syrup
- 1C wholemeal flour
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
- Make your chia seed “egg” by mixing seeds & water – leave to gel for about 10 minutes.
3.Mix all ingredients together.
4. Wet hands, and shape tablespoons of the mix into cookie shapes. Place on a lined baking tray.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.
6. Cool on a wire rack – store in an air tight container when cool.
These are seriously SO simple to make, and could be adapted to whatever ingredients you like/have in your pantry. They are actually pretty healthy as well – full of good fats, protein and omegas, low in sugar – an easy, nutritious treat – who’d have thought it?!
It’s that time of the year when Christmas festivities/activities are rampant – I am finding I am having to “bring a plate” to most gatherings. One of Misty’s groups is having a Christmas party this week – no matter the season, I’m always keen to provide wholesome snacks – even after it was suggested that a bag of Cheezels (an Aussie snack-chip thing) would be an easy/appropriate snack (!) We are talking kids who are 6 months-3 years here. Out of curiosity, I googled the ingredients in a bag of Cheezels:
Cheese Powder (3.0%)
Mineral Salt (170)
Flavour Enhancers (621, 627, 631)
Vegetable Extract (Maize)
Food Acids (270, 330, 331, 262)
Flavours (Natural & Nature Identical)
Mineral Salt (339)
Colours [160a, 160e (Soy)]
Antioxidants (304, 306)
I wouldn’t feed that to my dog. I think my cookies would be a yummy treat, without making the kids bounce off the walls/break out in hives – do you agree? What do YOU usually take to a “bring a plate” occasion – when kids are involved?
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve started posting more recipes involving fruit and (unrefined) sugar. I am so excited to be able to eat fruit again after quite a few months on a strict Anti-Candida regime. I thought I would recap my experience, and leave you with a few tips on how I got rid of the yeastie beast. I must admit, it IS a struggle to maintain such a diet being vegan – I had to supplement with protein powder to meet my nutritional needs, and I probably ate way too many beans/legumes according to ACD “purists” but obviously, my plan worked for ME, which is the main thing.
As always, take what I say with a grain of salt – I am in no way a medical professional, and this worked for ME – it may not work for YOU. Every body is different.
My Army of Anti-Candida-Soldiers:
- Vitamin C – I mentioned the benefits in this post. Vitamin is excellent for stress, and if you are suffering from a Candida overgrowth, your body is under stress. The prospect on having to go on a major cleanse-programme can be stressful in itself, so give yourself the best start possible, and start getting some decent quantities of this vitamin in your system. I was taking more than 10o0mg per day, but please consult your healthcare professional before embarking on any new supplement regime.
- Probiotics – goes without saying, really. You need MORE good bacteria to counteract the overgrowth of nasties in your digestive system. Do your research as some brands are more potent than others – you need to invest in the good stuff here, it makes the world of difference.
- Nettle Tea – high in iron and a general blood toner, nettle is always a constant in my drinks regime – candida or no candida. I reckon it’s particularly important if you struggle with low iron/energy. A great pick me up for body AND mind.
- Pau D’arco herbal tea. This inner bark of an Amazonian tree is a powerful Candida-killer…. I was (trying) to drink up to a litre a day of the stuff. Chilled with some fresh ginger is really nice.
- Garlic – a very powerful anti-Candida option… you could take garlic tablets, but I prefer the real deal. Let’s just say I eat a LOT of garlic, and yes, I repel vampires (and probably most people due to my pungent aroma, oh well).
- Dandelion root “coffee” – most Anti-Candida material will advise to cut down, if not OUT, caffeine. I cut my intake back to 1 cup a day. I mean, I had my mental health to think about, and some (most) days that single cup of coffee is enough to get me out of bed and motivated for the day. So no, I wasn’t going to cut out the naughty bean completely. For those times I wanted the experience of a coffee I had a dandelion root “coffee – sometimes it’s all in your head.
- Cultured foods – coconut milk kefir and tempeh to be exact. The jury is still out on whether kombucha hinders or helps the process, so I avoided it to be on the safe side. I DID eat a lot of sauerkraut, but I have since discovered that cabbage doesn’t agree with me – it just added to my stomach discomfort. Apple cider vinegar is the only type of vinegar allowed – make sure you get a naturally fermented one that includes the “mother” – use in salad dressings, or drink in some warm water with a touch of stevia.
- Stevia. I love sweets – I would not have survived this cleanse without stevia. It’s a lifesaver, seriously. All steiva is not created equally, there are the good, and the down right disgusting. The brand I use is not available in Australia, but I get it through iherb.com (really reasonable shipping) – it’s delicious stuff, with no weird bitter after taste. Here are a few of my favourite stevia-sweet-treat recipes:
- Coconut Oil. I’m addicted to this stuff. If this regime has taught me anything, it’s that coconut oil is amazing stuff. From oil pulling (don’t knock it to you try it) to baking to general moisturising goodness, this stuff does it all.
- Eat your greens – this may seem a bit trivial, but leafy greens can really help in this battle. The fibre helps fill you up, as does amping up your healthy fat and protein intake. By limiting sugar and starchy carbohydrates, you are essentially starving the yeast of it’s main food source. Fats and protein at every meal help satisfy and diminish those sweet cravings – think avocado, tahini, hemp seeds, tempeh, tofu, small amounts of beans/legumes, coconut oil, nut butters.
- Yoga/de-stressing activity. Stress doesn’t help anyone or anything. If you are stressed out, your body will not be able to concentrate on healing it’s issues within. Find an activity (I suggest yoga, but I know it’s not everyone’s favourite) that really lets you relax – meditating, a long walk at the beach, dancing, a hot bath – whatever it is, make sure you include this in your regime. I went with yoga, and I found that by just including a mere 20 minutes into my day (I call these yoga “snacks”) it really helped both energise my body, and calm my mind. Physical healing relies on mental calm in my opinion.
Try to keep in mind – with Candida, it usually gets worse before it gets better. You will probably go through a “die-off” period if you are cleansing correctly. It’s hideous (flu-like symptoms/rash) but should only last a few days. Keep positive and think of it as an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and come up with NEW favourite dishes. If you focus on all the stuff you CAN”T have, it’s adding negative thoughts to the process, which nobody benefits from.
Thoughts? Have you experienced candida? Any tips you could add to my list?
Summer in Queensland is awesome (sorry to all of you cowering in the cold of the Northern Hemisphere) hot days, balmy (OK, sweaty) nights and all the amazing Summer fruit.
16 punnets of fresh strawberries for $10? Don’t mind if I do. That’s about 5kgs of berries. Awesome. Viper thinks I’m crazy, and my dehydrator has been going for about 3 days straight, not to mention my (tiny) freezer is full to bursting. Not to mention all the fresh-berry-munching.
Good thing Misty has taken a real shine to strawberries – it’s only the beginning of the season. A few trays of mangoes are the next item on the horizon.
I suppose it does seem a little bit of a shame to dehydrate these amazing berries – but I would much rather my jars be full of sweet, dried fruit then my fridge be full of mushy/growing green bits/blackened berries. My dehydrator has been running constantly, as I mentioned, so I decided to dehydrate a bunch of leftover almond-milk-making pulp – I’ve never bothered to do this in the past, but I figured I might as well. Basically, it turns into something similar to almond meal – so you can sub in plain almond meal for the following recipe.
Again – I’m trying to use up ingredients I have in my house, rather than going out and purchasing all sorts of new ingredients. I must admit, blogging and reading food blogs can gets me a little overly-excited about certain ingredients/recipes and I have the tendency to go overboard when shopping. I am cracking down on my weekly food-budget, so making the most of what I have on hand is key for me at the moment.
What’s your favourite way to use strawberries? Does food-blog-reading make you blow your budget on obscure health-food products?
If you’re nut sensitive – grind up some sunflower seeds into a fine meal, and replace the almond with that. You can leave out the macadamias completely, it won’t make a difference.
RAW Chocolate Nut Fudge with Sweet Strawberry Topping
- 1 1/2C almond meal (or dehydrated almond pulp from making almond milk)
- 1/2C vanilla protein powder (unsweetened)
- 2/3C pitted dates
- 1/2C shredded coconut
- 2T ground flax seeds
- 1/2t sea salt
- 3T brown rice syrup
- 3T cacao powder
- 3T coconut butter
- 1t ground coffee (optional)
- 80g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
- 1/3C roughly chopped macadamias (or any nut)
- Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor – if you prefer chunks of chocolate/nuts then leave out the last two ingredients, and fold them into the mix once it forms a soft “dough” – otherwise just whizz everything together.
- Press into a lined loaf pan, and let it chill in the fridge and “set”.
- 1C dehydrated/dried strawberries (or any dried fruit – cranberries/cherries would be great)
- 2T brown rice syrup (or any liquid sweetener)
- 2T coconut butter
- 2T coconut oil
- 1/2t vanilla extract (optional)
- Quickly pulse everything together in a food processor, leaving it reasonably chunky.
- Spread thinly over the set fudge, and return to the fridge.
- Carefully cut into small bars/squares once set.
- Store in the fridge.
I’ve been doing a lot of diet-related reading at the moment. The majority of my Candida-related symptoms have diminished considerably, and I have been able to introduce fruit back into my diet with no noticeable effects. I have however, still been suffering from some unexplained stomach discomfort – every day. I started really trying to tune into this problem – the pain happened around the same time (after lunch) even though I have something different to eat for lunch most days.
I have narrowed it down to
Most days, without fail I would consume both of these foods – I love them. They are common characters in a lunch time salad bowl, that’s for sure. I started reading up about the Blood Type Diet – an idea I am quite familiar with, although I chose to ignore previously as I refused to give up these 2 foods. Stubborn? Yes. Stupid? Yes, that too.
Anyway, being a Type A of the blood variety, both tomatoes and chickpeas are considered not beneficial for me. I thought I would stop eating them for a few days, just to see what happened. Lo and behold, the constant stomach ache has gone. Fancy that. The Blood Type Diet is quite a fascinating read…. it also suggests that my blood type refrain from hard physical exercise (e.g. the dreaded cardio) and embrace gentle forms such as yoga and walking. I like the sounds of that regime, for sure.
Anyway, just another interesting dietary experiment, that seems to be relieving me of the mysterious stomach pains. What are your thoughts on “Eating Right For Your Type?” – is this a new concept to you? Do you even know your blood type? Viper doesn’t.
Maybe it’s because I’m not eating them any more – but it seems as if I have an over-stocked supply of tomatoes. I decided to use them up by making a sweet balsamic relish to accompany Viper’s dinner – he is a huge condiment fan.
- 2 1/2C cherry tomatoes (I used half red, half green) – you can chop them in half if you like, or leave them whole, it doesn’t really matter – it all cooks down to mush by the end of the exercise.
- 1C water
- 1/2C balsamic vinegar
- 1/2t sea salt
- 2t whole grain mustard
- 4T rapadura sugar (or any type of granulated sugar)
- Black pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients, except the black pepper in a small saucepan.
- Bring mix to the boil, and let it continue at a “rolling boil” for a bout 5 minutes, while keeping a close watch that it doesn’t boil over.
- Reduce to a simmer, and cook until the mix reduces – at least 2 hours.
- Carefully pour into a clean glass jar.
- Store in the fridge.
I may or may not have “foraged” the green tomatoes. I swore Misty to secrecy.
After a few hours of cooking – sweet, sticky, syrupy tomato relish. Viper enjoyed this with his never-ending-chicken-lentil-curry that I made a ridiculously large batch of. Not the usual accompaniment to a curry, no – but no mangoes in the house meant a tomato-stand-in did the job. Frugality encourages creativity, that’s for sure.
Viper says that he is sad for me, as he knows how much I love tomatoes and chickpeas…. if I can be without stomach pain though, I am willing to make the sacrifice. So far so good.
The recipe I came up with today isn’t really a cookie as such…. but it’s a cookie shape so I’m going to call it a cookie. Everybody loves a cookie, right? Anyway, Misty is becoming rather picky of late – I mean, I don’t blame him, after that nasty bout of gastro last week, no wonder his appetite is a little up and down.
It’s quite textural at the moment for Misty – he’s getting a lot more savvy at expressing what he likes and what he deems unacceptable. Usually the latter is swiped away with a defiant “NO!” or “YUCK!” Yeah, he’s so polite this child of mine. He doesn’t like sticky, he doesn’t like smooshy, he doesn’t like crumbly and he doesn’t like crunchy. Well, today anyway – tomorrow? Who knows!
These cookies pack in a bunch of nutritious goodies, while holding together (no crumbling) and are nice and soft. Perhaps it’s the teething thing, but Misty is not fond of hard morsels at the moment. My challenge was I had to use up whatever I had on hand in the pantry, as I have banned myself from going to the store…. yeah the healthy-cheap-skate-fridge-scraper reigns supreme. This also means Viper gets to enjoy a lentil and chicken curry 3 nights in a row, and I get to have falafel salad wraps for the same duration. Oh yes, we are on a budget-kick at the moment. Anyway, these cookies we created vegan-by-default as I have no eggs or butter in my house. No problem.
Spiced Pumpkin Cookies – for fussy Toddlers
(Vegan, nut, corn, soy, refined sugar free)
- 1/2C pumpkin puree
- 1/2C dessicated coconut
- 1/3C quick oats
- 1 flax “egg” – 1T ground flax seed, 3T water
- 1/4t ground cinnamon
- 1/8t sea salt
- 2T brown rice syrup (or maple syrup/honey/agave)
- 2T tahini
- 1/2C raisins (or any dried fruit)
- 1/2C wholemeal plain flour (whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1/2t vanilla extract (optional)
- Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C, and prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
- Whisk together your flax “egg” and set aside for 10 minutes or so to gel.
- Combine all ingredients with the flax egg – mix well.
- Wet and and pat golf balls of mixture into cookies shapes – you should get 12, depending on your sizing. If the mix is too sticky to handle, just pop in the fridge for a few minutes – it should firm up a bit.
- Bake for 8 minutes, the flip all cookies over, and continue to cook for a further 8 minutes or firm to the touch and slightly golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Store in the fridge.
As the title suggests, these are a great transportable snack, and could even be a breakfast-on-the-run (or eaten in the car seat as we drop Viper at work). Snacks that HOLD together and don’t create a huge disgusting mess in my car are always welcome.
I’m not going to suggest these are going to be a hit with every toddler, as we know how fickle these little creatures are. Speaking of fickle, only a few weeks ago, Misty was enjoying a more traditional-style (crumbly) cookie with gusto – not any more. Anyway, if you want to check out any more of my “trying toddler” snacks:
It’s like a little bowl of porridge (oatmeal) in a cookie. Without the mess and oaty-gloop-covered-hands-hair-and clothes….. success.
Any tips for feeding fussy toddlers?
December is almost upon us. The Silly Season is fast approaching. I thought I would get my Christmas-love in nice and early, and do a give away NOW to say thanks to each and everyone of you for reading this here little blog.
The only sad part is with the monstrosity that is the cost of shipping, this little prize pack is only going to be available to Australian residents. Anyway, I’ve put together a few goodies – including a recipe book and shopping guide that I’ve talked about on the blog. Some local treats to eat (of course) and some fabulous organic lip balm. To all you not eligible to enter – know that I appreciate your readership and support SO much – this little community has been such a blessing in my life.
- “Like” fridge scrapings on Facebook
- Share the link to this post on your Facebook page
- Tweet something about this give away
- Leave a comment telling me what you are planning on having for Christmas dinner
Each will gain you an additional entry – leave me a comment after you have done one or all of these. A winner will be drawn at random on December 9th.
Unique Eats is also having a bit of a Summer Sale – get some goodness into you during this period that entails crazy parties, lots of food/drink and not enough sleep. This Acai Berry Blend (RAW and certified organic) is delicious -fabulous in smoothies, raw snacks, sprinkled on cereal – anything really.
So much goodness – I’m offering fridge scrapings readers a whopping 25% discount on this Acai Berry Blend – while stocks last. Again, this offer is only open to Australian residents, sorry. Whizz me an email lou(at)fridgescrapings(dot)com and I can hook you up. Actually, this would make an awesome Christmas present to…. just saying.
Anyway, that’s about enough sales-pitching for one day.
I just really wanted to say THANK YOU to you all – to know people actually read and enjoy my rambling is such a treat!
Being a parent is a constant challenge. Through my limited experience with Misty, it seems as though he just constantly goes through “stages.” These stages last days, weeks, but they come – and then they go. Some stages are fantastic – you can’t believe how happy, well behaved and affectionate your child is. Other stages are really trying – the “I want to run onto the road and/or play in car parks so I can touch other peoples’ cars” stage. Or the “I never ever want to hold your hand, and if you try I will throw myself on the ground and refuse to get up” stage.
It seems like Misty is really relishing his advancing into the “Terrible Twos,” – and he is living up to the title. Poor dude, he’s got a whopping molar coming through, so no wonder he is a little on-edge, but some days I really wish there was some kind of mute button. It’s the grizzling and whinging that really drives me mad…. Viper says he gets it from me, Ha. Misty has also discovered how to say “YUCK!” and throw/push food away. Oh the joys.
I am a garlic fiend, that’s nothing new. I know not everyone shares my love of this pungent bulb – but I DO encourage you to chuck a few bulbs in the oven, next time you are cooking up dinner. Just throw them in, as is, until they are very tender (squeezable) to the touch – I find a moderate temperature of about 160 degrees C is fine. Oh, yes, you will smell them – it’s incredible. Gently roasting garlic really brings out it’s natural sweetness, and the intensity of flavour is mellowed considerably. So much so, I can eat bulb after bulb – just popping the little cloves into my mouth as if I was chowing down on chips.
Don’t freak out when you see the amount of garlic I have listed in the following recipe – seriously it doesn’t taste overly garlicky. Even Misty par-took in sampling some of this dip, and I didn’t hear the dreaded “Yuck!” – so that’s got to mean it’s good, right? At the moment all he wants to eat are bananas and plain popcorn – and when I refuse him these, a tantrum ensues. Oh the joy.
Creamy Red Lentil Dip with Roasted Garlic and Pumpkin
(Vegan, gluten/wheat/corn/nut/seed/refined sugar free)
- 1C cooked red lentils
- 1C roasted pumpkin
- 1/2t sea salt
- 2t whole grain mustard
- 2T apple cider vinegar
- 1 BULB roasted garlic
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4C fresh basil
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth.
Following on my ramble from the other day – there is a notion in the healthy living realm that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is easy and affordable. I disagree with this entirely – a healthy lifestyle is one SO worth striving for…. BUT it takes quite a bit of effort, and no, it doesn’t come cheap.
If you want to be healthy, you have to eat well, yes? Good quality food demands the price it is worth…. like anything in life, you get what you pay for. I think our health should be our biggest investment – I saw something the other day that went along the lines of – “So you think organic food is expensive? You should check out the going rate for cancer treatment!” Enough said.
I’m a cheapskate, I won’t lie. I have to be – we’re a single income family on a tight budget…. but you can still eat really well on a budget, it’s no excuse. Any way, I thought I would highlight a few staple ingredients in my house that are full of health-giving benefits, while also going easy on the old wallet.
Dates are one of nature’s finest candies – sweet, chewy delicious. Rich in iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, copper and magnesium, these little babies are also and instant energy pick-me-up. The most amazing of dates (in my opinion) are the Medjool, which are perfect for delicious raw desserts and snacking, these, however are NOT the cheapest variety out. I look for cheaper bulk packs of varieties such as Iranian, Shalaby or Helwah… My best advice is to check out a local Middle Eastern grocery store – there are some amazing bargains to be found, believe me. As always, be aware and read your ingredient labels.
Date paste is a super simple sweetener you can make by soaking dates in water, and then blending to create a thick, rich mix perfect for adding to baking (add sweetness and moisture) smoothies, or just smearing on bread/fruit. Cover dates in water and soak over night, or at least for a few hours. Drain the water off, but keep it aside. Pulse dates in a food processor, adding just enough soaking water to produce a thick spread.
I use date paste to sweeten home made milks and smoothies. This is tahini “milk” - which is another great Healthy Cheap-Skate option. All you do is blend 1/2C tahini with 3C water, a pinch of sea salt and a big dollop of date paste. Delish. Tahini is so cheap compared with expensive nut butters (particularly in Australia), plus being a paste it makes it really easy to digest, and is fabulous for those with nut allergies. Tahini contains B Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15, and is really high in calcium.
Oats. Wonderful oats. Cheap, filling, and the amount of recipes you can create with them (sweet or savoury) is too many to count. Fibre, protein, calcium, low GI - and delicious.
A good old fashioned bowl of porridge (or oatmeal) is probably one of the healthiest and cheapest starts to the day you could get, but I’ve got a few other ideas for you. For a fancy-type granola, which is sure to impress try my Spiced Pumpkin variety….. if you have a toddler, these “Flat-Cakes” (flax and oat) are so simple and you can get creative with the toppings….. or this Coconut Oat snack bar recipe is a snap to whip up from simple pantry ingredients – just make sure you own a food processor!
Most grains are cheap – I love bulk bin stores…. less packaging, buy any amount you like, save money. Barley, brown rice, buckwheat, wheat berries, oats, millet, and bulgar are all grains that I can purchase organic for under $5 a kilogram… that’s pretty good nutritional bang for your buck. I’ve been experimenting with making Zarathustra bread, which is a 5000 year old concept of an unyeasted bread made from crushed, sprouted grains. Basically, you soak wheat berries (or any other grain) with sesame seeds for a few days, drain, blend and bake at a very low temperature (or dehydrate) into a “bread.” Consider the word “bread” very loosely.
These are made with raw, sprouted buckwheat, sesame seeds, sea salt, cinnamon and goji berries. Dense and heavy? Yes. Delicious, yes, surprisingly good after a dousing of tahini. Good eats, on the cheap – I’m a big fan.
What are YOUR go-to meals/ingredients for when the budget is tight?
Having a few days with a very sick child, an ill husband off-work and feeling rather average myself really showed how much it takes to keep a healthy-household functioning (or NOT functioning as the case may be).
I know in the “Healthy-Living-Realm” the consensus is that a healthy lifestyle is extremely easy and so, everybody should be doing it. I would like to chip in that yes, everybody should be trying to live a healthier, more sustainable life – but it’s not that easy. It takes quite a bit of forethought, organisation and dedication to upkeep – particularly in this day in age of convenience.
Having a few days “off” – ie either lying on the couch groaning, comforting Misty, cleaning up vomit or a sitting in the hospital emergency room – really put into perspective how much of my time is dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example – I usually shop for produce every few days, just so we have fresh stuff on hand…. plus pick up any bits and pieces we made need from the health food store or supermarket. Basically we had no proper food in the house until this morning, when I felt just human enough to go on a mission. Viper had no cereal (I make it), there is no bread (I usually make it, so Viper went and bought some), there is no nut milk/nut butters (I make them), there are no baked goods like snack bars/crackers etc (I make them) Boosty has no food (I make her Doggie-Mix), there is no hummus/cooked or soaked beans/legumes (buy dry, soak and cook myself) – you get the picture. When you are not well enough to function, it’s really hard to keep up the old routine.
I do all of these tasks happily, mind you – I really love to be busy and productive. It’s also a cost-thing for us…. convenience food is expensive – especially when you want the healthy, organic convenient option. A single income and all the financial-joys of life mean we are on a tight budget, and the more you can DIY, the better in my opinion. I’m not saying that buying a loaf of bread or can of chick peas from the store is a bad thing – I’ve just gone and done that this morning, as it is easy and I am in no shape to be be tackling too many domestic duties right now…. I’m just musing on the amount of energy I dedicate to keeping my household working the way I like it. A purely personal choice, and one I love.
In whatever way you strive to make your lifestyle a little healthier/more sustainable – whether it be making your own muesli or turning to more natural based cleaners in your house – you should be applauded. It’s so tempting to just go for the easy option in this crazy, fast paced world we live in, but I reckon a few too many easy options have created a LOT of problems (think fast food/preservatives/additives/toxic cleaning substances). Quick and easy is not always better – a little bit of dedication and investment of your time is a small price to pay for great results.
In saying all this – I have been living off nature’s “convenience foods” – fruit – for the past few days. No, this is not in line with an Anti-Candida Diet I know, but when your belly is not happy, you have to listen to what your body is telling you. Fresh fruit is what I want, and fresh fruit is what I shall eat… quick, easy, cheap and healthy. Plus, it is staying in my belly where it should, which makes for a happy Lou.
What do you DO to maintain your sort of “healthy” lifestyle (whatever that means to YOU)? I mean, some people think I’m nuts for cooking a lot of our food from scratch: Why bother? It’s so cheap to just BUY it! – however others may be disturbed that I buy UHT soy milk (albeit organic) and non organic fruit and veggies. Again, I think it’s all about that pesky little thing called balance that is always taunting me.
And yes, that is food on my face. DIY home facials not only save you a buck, but are so much better for you and the environment. Viper thinks I’m a freak.
It’s amazing how much we take good health for granted. I am so thankful to have had a generally healthy kid up to this point. In addition to his birthday molars – Misty came down with a nasty bout of gastro, and we ended up at hospital as he couldn’t keep anything down. Scary stuff – but he is thankfully on the mend – a few quiet days on the couch with a snuggly pillow and some cartoons should do the trick. Lots of fluids, probiotics and plain food too.
Usually the only crackers I buy are just plain brown rice “cakes.” Misty loves them (I think they taste like cardboard) but I thought I would try my hand at making him some plain(ish) crackers for him to munch on. Also, for some reason I seem to have acquired 3 huge bags of wholemeal flour, so am trying to come up with ways of using the stuff. These crackers are cheap & easy to make – are a great base for many variations (sweet/savoury) – and can be adapted to be made vegan. I added flax seed meal to the mix to bump up the nutrition-value, but if you don’t have this ingredient, simply add the same amount in additional wholemeal flour.
Easy Flax Crackers
- 3/4C wholemeal plain flour (or plain gluten free flour)
- 1/4C flax seed meal
- 2 1/2T soft pure butter (or vegan spread such as Nuttelex/Earth Balance)
- 2t coconut sugar*
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1/8C cold water
**You can leave out the sugar if you want – it’s entirely optional – sprinkle with additional sea salt flakes before baking for a real savoury version.
- In a food processor, pulse together flour, flax, butter, sugar and salt until a crumbly mix has formed.
- Add in cold water – it should now form a soft dough ball.
- On a floured surface, knead a few times.
- Pre heat oven to 200 degrees C.
- Roll out as thin as you can manage with a rolling pin – if you find the dough a little hard to work with, simply place in the fridge for a little while. This will help it firm up and become more manageable.
- Cut out shapes using cookie cutters, or simply cut into squares using a knife. Prick holes with a fork.
- Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Store in an airtight container once cool.
These seem to go down a treat…. Viper approved them too. As long as they stay down, (in the belly) they get approval from me – I don’t think I have experienced the vast quantities of vomit that have occurred in the past few days, EVER. I have a LOT of washing to do, that’s safe to say. At the moment though, I’m hanging with Misty on the couch, as he most generously shared his bug with me. All I want is to drink my own special Chai Tea blend – and it’s staying where it is supposed to so I am happy – I’m not sure whether it’s the spices or what, but my tummy seems to like it (and not much else).
Every time I visit a hospital, I am so blown away by the doctors and nurses – especially in an emergency department – seriously they are just angels. It takes a special kind of person to be able to do such a job with a smile on their face, patience and reassuring words. Bless.
It’s Misty’s 2nd birthday today. This time 2 years ago, I would have been pacing around the house, ringing the hospital every half and hour, and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into with the whole child birth thing. Bless.
Unfortunately, Misty’s special day has been ruined by the evil of the 2 year-molars – he’s teething and it’s not fun. We’ve had a fever, ridiculous amounts of drool, a lot of screaming and not much happy happy birthday time. Poor little man – teething is horrendous.
Not surprisingly, he didn’t want a bar of the cake I made – teething really kills ones’ appetite. We decided to forgo the party thing this year, and ended up having a nice quiet family affair – which has been a real blessing as Misty hasn’t been very happy. Anyway, I ended up making (and eating) his cake as a means of stress-relief…. at least this will be the last teething episode we have to endure as I don’t think my nerves (or Misty’s gums) could handle any more.
Cooking is always a great stress-reliever for me, so while the Misty crashed out and slept off the sore gums, I made a cake in true Fridge Scraping’s style – anything that was in the fridge got blended up and baked into a cake-like creation. This isn’t the BEST cake I’ve ever made – but it’s not bad…. it’s not sweet at all – Viper deemed it “not sweet enough,” but for my tastes it was fine. The texture is like a very dense mud cake – if you like the old “black bean brownie” and are used to healthy tasting fare, then you will probably like this. The “butter-cream” is definitely the best bit – more on that below.
A Fridge-Scraping Birthday Cake:
(Vegan, wheat/nut/refined sugar/corn free)
- 3/4C cooked pumpkin
- 1/2C date paste**
- 1/2C cooked (and drained) black beans
- 3T maple syrup
- 1/2t ground sea salt
- 1/4C ground flax seed
- 1C oat flour (whole roll oats ground into a flour in the food processor)
- 1/4C cacao powder (or cocoa/carob)
- 1/2C sunflower seed meal (ground sunflower seeds)
- 1/2t baking powder
- 1/4t baking soda
- Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor, adding baking powder & soda at the last minute.
- Bake in a lined baking tray, or silicone baking square so that the mix is about 2cm deep (cooks quicker this way)
- Bake at 180 degrees C for 22-25 minutes or until it has firmed up and is springy to the touch.
Once cooked, I used a large cookie cutter to make 2 layers of cake (this only used up half of the recipe, so you could add more layers or have 2 mini cakes which is fun). Maybe it’s just me, but I find it so satisfying to have my very own cake…. well it was actually Misty’s, but he didn’t want it, so I was just doing him a favour by claiming it, yes?
- 1/4C coconut butter
- 150g silken tofu – I find the shelf stable tofu is the least “soy” tasting – look for Moringa or Mori Nu brands.
- 2T cacao powder
- 1/2t vanilla extract
- 3T maple syrup
- 1/8t sea salt
- Combine all ingredients in the food processor and whizz until silky smooth.
- Spread on top of cake – or anything in that matter – it will firm up considerably once chilled due to the coconut butter.
- Store extra in the fridge.
Viper said I was mean as I didn’t put any lollies (candy) on the cake – just raisins. Actually, the raisins were the only bit Misty wanted to eat – Ha.
On a total self-promotional-spin…. here’s my winning tart from the Australian Macadamia Recipe competition – I used a very similar concept to the above “butter-cream” for the Creamy Lemon-Coconut filling for this macadamia tart. Voting is happening at the moment – the recipe that gets the most votes will be made the cover of the annual calendar. Vote for me HERE (I’m Louise D winner #8) – I would SO appreciate it!
I didn’t take this photo – part of the prize was to get your recipe professionally styled & photographed – pretty cool. I was just impressed that the judges actually considered a recipe that involved TOFU – hooray for vegan desserts!
And hooray for lovely little boys. Happy Birthday Misty – hope you feel better soon!
It’s no secret I’m not really into chemicals. Viper loves bleach, and it drives me nuts – he thinks nothing else compares, sigh. Having Misty around, I am so much more aware of not only what goes into our bodies in the way of food, but what we use on our skin, face, hair, and how we clean our house.
It’s no secret that these days I do a LOT of washing. A grubby Misty, a hard working man, a Boosty and cloth nappies keep me rather busy in the washing sense. Thank goodness we live in the “Sunshine State” – there is no need for a tumble dryer – and most loads dry within the hour of being pegged out. Hooray for sunshine.
Anyway – this recipe HAS been my go-to for anything washing related for quite some time. I decided to play around with the mix a bit, to see I could come up with a “powder’ that makes life a little easier.
DIY Green Washing Powder – Over 1 Month supply
(Feel free to half or even quarter this recipe)
- 4C washing soda (available at most supermarkets – it will be in the cleaning isle – usually around $3 a bag)
- 125ml Dr Broner’s Castille Soap
- 50 drops essential oil (I usually do 25 drops tea tree and 25 drops lavender – this is the pure oil – I use a lot here as I am washing Misty’s nappies. If you are just doing general washing I would do 15 drops of each).
- Washing soda generally comes in large crystals – this works better if you crush them into a fine powder first – the food processor makes quick work of this, but a mortar & pestle will work as well.
- Combine washing soda in a large mixing bowl.
- Add essential oils and Dr Broner’s – mix until you have a clumpy/clay-like sort of powder – this is fun to get the kids involved with!
- Store in an airtight container.
Misty is almost 2 years old (his birthday is on Monday) I can’t believe it – time is a crazy thing, that’s for sure. Misty has taught me a lot about myself since he has been in my life…. I thought I would share a few morsels with you all:
- By becoming a parent, you realise, in turn how MUCH your parents did for you. I am going to be reminding Misty when he’s 18 about the many years I spent cleaning up his poo, that’s for sure.
- You get used to poo. You learn to hold your breath pretty effectively.
- Getting a puppy is definitely good training for parenthood. You can’t, however, give a new born baby a pig’s ear, and pop it outside all snuggled up in an old beer carton. Not that easy. It also seems that children are a lot more challenging to potty train.
- I don’t like nursery rhymes – a lot of them are really creepy if you listen to them closely. Rock a Bye Baby? A baby falling to it’s death from the top of a tree. Ring a Ring o’Roses? Here – have some Bubonic Plague. Just the thought of a huge egg on legs (Humpty Dumpty) is frightening.
- I have become rather accomplished at “Power-Shopping” – ie – get in, grab your stuff, get out before Misty starts chucking a wobbly. There isn’t any idle window shopping, meandering, leisurely trying on of clothes or chit chatting any more. No-sir-ee. I WOULD however, be an absolute demon at one of those “speed-shopping” competitions – you know the ones where you’re given a time limit and a trolley to fill? Yeah, I would dominate that no worries.
- I’m selfish. I like my own space. I like my “me” time. I like, no, I LOVE sleep. I guess I’m just not programmed to breed – one is more than enough right now.
- I have gained a lot of focus & direction from becoming a Mama – Misty made me realise how precious time is – and now when I get any spare, I really utilise it. Makes me wonder what I used to DO with all that spare time before I had him? Mini tornado of productiveness? Yip, that’s me during Misty’s nap-time.
Quick Chocolate Bites
(Vegan, gluten/wheat/soy/nut/corn/grain/refined sugar free – RAW)
- 1C sunflower seeds
- 1C raisins (or equivalent measure of dates or sultanas)
- 1/4t sea salt
- 2T cacao powder
- 1/2t vanilla extract (optional)
- 1T brown rice syrup (or any liquid sweetener – maple syrup/agave/raw honey)
- 2T coconut oil (melted)
- 2T tahini
- First, process the sunflower seeds into a fine meal in the food processor.
- Add all other ingredients and process until a crumbly soft “dough” has formed.
- Flatten out mix between 2 sheets of baking paper, or simply press into a lined baking dish – place in the freezer to speed up the “setting” process.
- Once fully chilled and firm, slice into bars/bites and enjoy.
- Store in the fridge.
A sweet, filling snack – lots of protein and good fats to fuel busy little bodies – or anyone who needs the energy – I know I do, chasing a toddler all day, yeesh.
** I am submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays**
A recipe book encouraging carnivores to eat veggies? Not the kind of thing you’d expect to see on Fridge Scrapings, right? It’s not like I need much encouragement to get my fill of greens.
MY vegetable intake aside, when approached to do a review of this book, I was pretty interested in getting my hands on a copy. Convincing Viper to chomp through a huge bowl of steamed greens is not really the easiest thing to do, and I am always up for new ideas to make veggies exciting for the un-enthusiastic.
Anyway, Lora Krulak’s notion of “moving vegetables to the centre of the plate,” is one I really try and push at home – meat is fine (if you are that way inclined) but try to make the veggie component of your meal the main attraction.
I really loved this book – Lora has a really engaging “voice” throughout – the book is filled with interesting stories, fascinating facts and the whole tone of the book is kind of like a friendly chat, if that makes sense? I’m all about the whole experience when it comes to reading a recipe book – I don’t just want the recipe, I want to know where the inspiration for the dish came from, I want to know a little about the different ingredients that go into it – the whole shebang. Lora caters for my tastes perfectly – the information she provides is succinct and extensive without being overwhelming “wordy” or “health-food-preachy.”
The book goes through “The Basics,” (equipment and preparation work) ”Dips & Spreads,” “Sauces & Dressings,” “Soups & Salads,” “Small Plates,” and “Smoothies/Tonics,” – it covers the majority of veggie-based bases for sure. A girl who loves to travel, the flavour profiles in Lorna’s recipes cover a multitude of countries and cultures, so boredom is not even an option.
I think the main attraction of this book, as Lora gives you not only recipes, but the creative inspiration and “building blocks” to help you design countless dishes – it’s the like gift that keeps on giving.
I suppose I am greedy to want there to be more of a sweet-treat section, considering this is a veggie-based book, but Lora DOES cover a variety of smoothies to get in a little sweetie- fix. I made her Chocolate Peanut Butter Milk (above) for myself and Misty, and it was delicious, although I did need to add some sweetness to the final product. There is a natural sweetener guide in the front of the book, and Lora considers her top 5 – Yacon Syrup, Maple Syrup, Raw Honey, Molasses and Coconut sugar.
My only criticism of this book would be the lack of visual appeal – the layout and photographs lack pizazz, and you’d think with such stellar content, you would want the book to LOOK as fantastic as possible? Anyway, that aside, this is a fabulous book if you are lacking a bit of creativity in the vegetable department, OR you want to convince friends/family of their amazing appeal.
You can go HERE to download a free sample of the book if it’s the sort of thing that tickles your fancy.
I also made the Aloo Gobi Dip, which is an Indian spiced cauliflower spread…. although I did run out of olive oil, so it ended up on the thick side (just how I like it) – absolutely delicious. I am looking forward to creating more of the recipes – Viper has requested the Cauliflower Steaks with Harissa Sauce, and I have my eye on the Middle Eastern Squash Puree, which sounds like it would be right up Misty’s alley (or it would make for some lovely coloured finger paint).
**I received a copy of Veggies for Carnivores at not cost, however the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own – I was not paid to write this…. I just like to share.
First up, I’ve just got to say how incredibly awesome all your readers out there are. I received so much beautiful support in the form of comments and emails from this post, it was quite overwhelming. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’ve honestly been having a pretty average week in the kitchen. I have produced 2 creations for Viper that were inedible. This doesn’t happen very often, so it’s safe to say my cooking mojo is slighty “off” at the moment. A beef curry that tasted like “vinegar” (although it contained nothing of the sort?) and a banana bread that had a “gummy texture like Congee(!)” Ha. Oh well, at least I have a very well-fed (and not too picky) dog. Lucky Boosty.
I have been having far more success with Misty meals though. I admit, he IS getting to be a tad fussy…. and he has also mastered the art of exclaiming, “Yuck!” and throwing morsels as far as his little arms can muster. Again, lucky Boosty. I call the following cheesey-savoury-bites “Freckles” – I think mainly because I cut them into tiny little circles for fun. It’s all about FUN at this age (nearing the Terrible Twos) isn’t it? This recipe utilises one of the Super Foods for Kidz products = Vital Veggie Power (available HERE)…. the easiest way to sneak in some nutrition to the unaware.
Tasty Cheezey Freckles
(Wheat/nut/seed/egg/refined sugar/corn/soy free)
- 3T besan
- 2T quick oats
- 3T water
- 1t Vital Veggie Power powder – if you don’t have this, nutritional yeast would be a good substitution.
- Pinch salt
- 1/8C grated cheese
- Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl – mix well, ensure no lumps. Let the mix sit for about 10 minutes, it will thicken a little.
- Grease a non stick fry pan with some coconut oil/butter/oil of choice.
- When the pan is at a moderately hot, and scoop in the mixture, flattening with the back of a spatula until it is about 3mm in thickness. (You can cook this in a few batches if one large one is too much for you to flip).
- Cook for around 2-3 minutes, either side…. the cheese will bubble a little and it will become golden brown and firm up.
- Slide out of the pan, and let it cool a little before cutting into shapes – cookie cutters are fun!
Even Viper gives these his approval.
Another favourite of Misty’s is plain popcorn. Sometimes we sprinkle with a touch of sea salt and nutritional yeast, but he’ll happily eat it plain. Simple is good sometimes. Keeps him busy for a while for sure.
Nappies, socks and shoes is the new style. Just sayin.’
Another quick & easy snack that is approved by both Misty AND Viper are these easy cookies. Simple ingredients, that hopefully most people have in their cupboard, and really quick to whip up – no fancy appliances required.
Easy Oat Cookies
Makes around 10 small cookies.
- 1/2C wholemeal plain flour (or a plain gluten free flour)
- 1/2C whole oats (sub in dessicated coconut if you are sensitive to oats)
- 1 egg
- 1/8t sea salt
- 1t ground cinnamon
- 1/4C melted coconut oil
- 2T liquid honey
- 1/3C raisins (or any dried fruit/chopped nuts/chocolate chips etc)
- Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Combine egg, liquid coconut oil and honey together in a small bowl, and beat together with a fork.
- Mix all other ingredients together in a separate bowl.
- Pour liquids into the dry ingredients. Combine well.
- Place tablespoons of the mix onto a lined baking sheet, flatten out slightly with the back of a spoon,
- Bake for 13-15 minutes or until evenly golden brown.
- Remove tray from oven, and leave cookies on it for a few minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I know it’s silly, but I feel like a failure writing this post.
It’s the same feeling I had when I couldn’t produce enough breast milk for Misty, and had to supplement my (starving & skinny) child with formula – a sort of guilty disappointment that my body was not living up to my high expectations.
With all my “Pro-Natural,” “Hippie-Power,” and “Earth-Mother,” ideals, it’s a bit of a conflict of ideas/beliefs….. turns out I can’t really handle being off medication for Depression & Anxiety.
Yes, I felt fine, great even for the first few weeks…. but as I reflect back, the drugs were probably still in my system in small amounts. Once those last dregs disappeared, I started to revert back to the “Lou” that I don’t like so much. It’s not that I turned into a hysterical, sobbing basket-case or anything, it was more subtle than that – but it was noticeable. My moods changed considerably – I became negative, harsh, and my patience “fuse” was about half a centimetre long. Not good when you have a toddler that likes to test the boundaries.
I think it’s confusing because I don’t like to feel as if I need to take a pill to be myself – but in reality, maybe that IS the case? Viper likens it to someone who needs to take insulin for Diabetes, or blood-pressure lowering medication…. I have a chemical imbalance that really does need the medicinal attention I give it.
I feel like a failure when I read stories about how others have managed to ‘kick the pills,’ and embrace a natural approach to mental well-being….. but when I really think about it, this is a pretty detrimental mind set. Comparing myself in this way, in terms of emotional-health, is like feeling bad for not being able to jump as far as an Olympic Long-Jumper or something…. just like I don’t have the physical strength to leap 8 metres into a sand pit, I don’t have the emotional strength to survive on herbs alone. And that’s OK.
Just like diet, there is no “one size fits all” with health – be it physical or emotional. I suppose I need to be grateful that a) I live in an age where medicinal therapy for mental health is pretty advanced and b) I am lucky enough to have found a medication that DOES work for me, with pretty much nil side effects – I know that I’m one of the very fortunate ones.
Anyhow, within a week of taking medication again, I feel back to the “Lou” I like. Funny that. She’s a lot calmer, a lot nicer, and easy to be around. I am continuing with my natural “support crew” – large doses of Vitamin C, heaps of nettle tea, pro biotics, a clean diet, yoga/meditation – because one cannot simply rely on the pharmaceuticals and expect results, right?
Again, it’s all about balance – you have to do what is right for YOU…. some people find success with herbs and natural therapies, some find it with exercise, some find it with a prescription. I’m down for working with the whole threesome.
I locked Misty AND my car keys AND my wallet/mobile in the car yesterday.
Not my finest moment…. but thank thank thank goodness gracious for those speedy-roadside-assist-angels. Now I am more than happy to pay insurance if it means my sweltering child was rescued from his perspiringly hot prison in less than 15 minutes (with “The Wheels on the Bus” being sung by yours truly no less than 65 times in the same period of time).
Apparently it happens all the time. Or maybe my rescuer was just trying to make me feel better?
Anyway, after that dramatic segment to my Monday, I had little brain power left to come up with something for dinner (aside from a half litre of vodka for myself) – enter the pattie/fritter.
I have posted a LOT of pattie/fritter recipes over the course of my blogging foray…. they are quick to prepare, use up annoying scraps in the fridge, great for toddlers and adults alike, and are super cheap. Lot’s of winning for the pattie.
Here’s a few kiddo-inspired patties, that have gone down a treat with my little one:
- 1 small zuccinni
- 1/2C corn kernels
- 1/8t sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 large (organic, free range) egg
- 1T milk
- 1/4C crumbled feta
- 3T chickpea flour
- 1T chopped fresh basil
- 1/4t baking powder
- Pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
- Coconut oil/pure butter for cooking
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding in the baking powder last.
- Heat your oven to 180 degrees C.
- Heat oil/butter in a large frypan… the trick here is to just seal the fritter, and finish it off in the oven. Cook for 2 minutes each side, and then transfer to a lined baking sheet.
- Cook for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
- Serve with a nice fresh salad, heaps of guacamole and some sweet chilli sauce.
So there you have it, an easy Fridge Scrapings style meal – using up odds and ends from the fridge, while not draining your brain of the 5% of functioning power it has left after the stress attack of being the worst Mama in the world. Now where’s that valium?
The straw that broke the camel’s back….. or the caramel slice that made me break my Anti-Candida regime? Guilty as charged. (So worth it). Actually, though, I haven’t felt any adverse effects from introducing a touch of the sweet stuff to my body (hooray). I’ve always been a sucker for anything caramel, even thinking about it makes my mouth go all watery – so I had no chance resisting this bad boy.
The only sad thing is that the following is the only photo I managed to take of this creation…. which may be one of my favourites of all time. The lovely Vanessa from Super Foods for Kidz created a similar slice a few weeks ago – and I knew I had to use her fabulous idea for creating “caramel” – dates and coconut cream – oh yes, genius for sure.
Caramel Coconut Slice
(Gluten/wheat/soy/nut/grain/soy/refined sugar free – HIGH RAW*)
- 1C coconut flour
- 3T cacao powder
- 1/2C coconut milk
- 1/3C coconut oil (softened)
- 2T brown rice syrup*
- 1/2t vanilla extract
- 1/4t sea salt
- Combine all ingredients really well, ensure no lumps.
- Press very firmly into a lined baking tray – I used a 23cm/16cm baking tray lined with glad wrap. Make sure to pack down the mix very tightly, and get it even as possible.
- Pop in the fridge while you make the caramel.
- 1 & 1/2C dates
- 1& 1/2C coconut cream (full fat, please – the Ayam brand is best)
- 1/4t salt
- Combine ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer until dates are nice and soft, and the liquid has reduced slightly (around 10 minutes)
- Once cool enough (safely) place in a food processor/blender and whizz until very smooth.
- Pour over the base, and put back in the fridge – it will take a few hours in the fridge for the caramel to “set” properly.
Crunchy Coconut Topping
- 1 & 1/2C coconut shreds
- 4T melted coconut butter
- 1 & 1/2T brown rice syrup*
- Pinch sea salt
- 2T cacao powder
- Combine all ingredients and sprinkle over set caramel.
- Store in the fridge in an air tight container.
- You can sub in carob/cocoa in place of cacao.
- Almond meal will work in place of the coconut flour, and pure melted butter will work for the coconut oil in the base.
- You can simply use melted chocolate for the final topping if you wish.
- Chuck in the freezer if you want to speed up the setting procss.
- *You can use any type of liquid sweetener in place of honey – liquid honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut nectar etc.
- This can easily be made 100% RAW if you have a high speed blender like a Vita Mix – just soak the dates in some water for a few hours beforehand to soften, drain and whizz with the coconut cream.
So there you go, the same photo twice…. it’s a good one though – don’t you agree? However detrimental to my Candida issues, my taste buds definitely appreciated this recipe…. it’s all about balance, right?
I think most people tend to “play-it-safe” when it comes to dinner parties and entertaining. The same (fail safe) recipes are used time an time again – and that’s fine, you stick to what you know, and the likelihood of a disaster is lessoned considerably.
Maybe I’m a rebel. Maybe I’m crazy (I know the answer to this one). I like to get change things up a bit, take risks and create something a little different. Yes, I could end up with a pile of strange tasting, unidentifiable slop on my platter to present to m guests, but I’m willing to take that chance. If my dish is a failure, I shall just drink more wine and all shall be forgiven (forgotten? Drink more wine).
Beetroot, Chai spices and carob seem like an odd little threesome, yes? Well they are, but I think they get on rather nicely – they all have a similar earthiness to them, which is balanced out in this recipe by some creamy coconut, and a little freshness from mint & lemon. To keep things a little left of centre (as I like it) the pastry base uses chickpeas, because we all love protein, yes? Call me crazy, but I kind of dig it.
Creamy Beetroot & Coconut Tart with Chai Spices and Fresh Mint
(Vegan, wheat, nut, corn, refined sugar free)
Beetroot & Coconut Filling
- 1 heaping cup chopped beetroot (raw)
- 3C water
- 2 star anise
- 4 crushed cardamom pods
- 2t ground cinnamon
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1t mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice)
- 1/4t ground ginger
- 1T lemon juice
- 1t lemon zest
- 1/8C fresh mint leaves
- 200g silken tofu (the shelf stable varieties like mori nu and moringa are the most “neutral” tasting and best texture in my opinion)
- 1/4C coconut butter
- 3T maple syrup
- 1/3C coconut milk (full fat)
- 1/2t pure vanilla extract
Chick Pea Oat “Pastry”
- 1 can chick peas
- 2T ground flax
- 4T oat bran
- 1T psyllium husks
- 3T coconut sugar
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1/2t pure vanilla extract
- 2T carob powder
- 4T melted coconut oil
- 1T maple syrup
- Tiny pinch sea salt
- 1/4t vanilla extract
- First up, make the pastry. Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees fan bake.
- Pulse together all pastry ingredients, then let the mix sit for about 10 minutes…. this just makes it a little easier to work with.
- Press the “dough” down firmly into a tart pan with a loose bottom. Be sure to get the dough spread out as evenly as possible – this ensures it will bake accordingly.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until pastry becomes golden and looks like it is slightly cracking.
- Remove from oven and set aside while you prepare the tart filling.
- To make tart filling, take beetroot and place in a small saucepan. Cover with the water and add star anise and cardamom pods to the cooking water. Bring to the boil, reduce to a quick simmer and continue cooking until beets are tender.
- Drain beets, discard water and spices.
- Combine all remaining ingredients with the beets in a food processor and whizz until very smooth.
- Spoon mix into your tart shell, smooth down and chill in the fridge for at least an hour…. or until nice and firm.
- For the drizzling sauce, simply combine all ingredients and splosh onto chilled tart at your leisure (it turns into a hard “magic shell” which is quite fun).
- Garnish with additional fresh mint, and enjoy.
If this flavour combo isn’t your thing, then you can’t deny the beauty of beetroot’s hue, now can you?
Thanks to all for another fabulous soiree of delicious Vegan eats – organisers and contributors alike… I can’t wait to peruse the delicacies on offer.
Coconut milk. This is the best brand I’ve come across (in Aussie) – no nasty additives/preservatives…. and SO creamy.
Place a can in the fridge over night…..scoop off the top, creamy thick layer…… Use the watery stuff in your smoothies.
Simple Cacao Coconut Spread
(Vegan – gluten/wheat/nut/soy/corn/grain/refined sugar free – Anti Candida)
- 1/2C coconut milk (as described above – the THICK part)
- 10 drops vanilla stevia liquid (or 1-2t of your favourite liquid sweetener – agave/rice syrup/maple – or more to taste)
- Tiny pinch sea salt
- 3t cacao powder (or cocoa/carob)
- Mix all ingredients together until well combined & smooth.
You can spread this on bread, fruit slices, or use as a “frosting” on baked goods. It’s amazing just eaten as it, with some cacao nibs/chocolate chips stirred though – almost instant pudding (thats good for you). It will harden slightly on chilling.
I also like to keep it simple with Misty’s morning cereal. Plain toasted oats, with a little sweet spice. Keeping the oats plain(ish) means we can add whatever we have on hand in the kitchen – and whatever Misty is in the mood for.
Simple Spiced Toasty Oats
- 1+1/2 C quick oats
- 1 +1/2t liquid sweetener (agave/maple/rice syrup/honey etc)
- 1T solid coconut oil
- 1/2t ground cinnamon
- Tiny pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients well.
- Spread onto a lined baking sheet (or silicone baking tray) and bake at 160 degrees C for about 15 minutes (or until golden brown) stirring a few times to ensure even toasting.
- Turn off oven and leave tray inside so the oats go nice and crisp.
- Store in an airtight jar.
I like keeping things simple for Misty – if I keep the grain component plain(ish) he likes to top it with whatever he fancies. One day, banana, the next, raisins, the next strawberries and chocolate milk (albeit cashew/cacao “milk” but anyhow). Keeps life interesting.
Shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, All-Fruit jam, plain yoghurt, sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped dates, nut butters, fresh fruit – chopped or grated, cottage cheese, cranberries, chocolate chips – get creative with your toppings and mix ins.
The good thing is, you can double or triple this plain-oats recipe and keep it in a sealed container in the pantry – lasts for ages. Life is complicated enough, no? Also, I think somebody (the one wearing the bones-suit) needs a haircut. I’m not game.
Sorry, but the recipe to this tart does not follow this picture. I have been experimenting with Macadamias lately (this dessert has a macadamia “short- bread” base with a creamy lemon/coconut filling) and let me tell you – if you are looking for a way to make the world’s quickest nut butter, then use macadamias. Seriously, these little nuggets turn into nut butter SO quickly, it’s a bit ridiculous…. it’s all those good oils. Anyway, this ended up being a treat for Viper, as I used a touch of honey – he deemed it “beautiful” and requested one every evening, please. Yeah right, buddy. At least he liked it though, Viper is a tough critic to impress that’s for sure.
Continuing on from my last post and the glory of homemade coconut butter – I made this version today which may just be one of the prettiest colours ever. I simply added in 3T Acai Berry Blend to the 3 cups shredded coconut as I was whizzing everything up. Easy AND pretty. Ha, I could say something quite rude here about that description, but I shall bite my tongue.
I’ve been doing quite a lot of experimenting lately. For my family, for me, for a few projects I am working on. Nothing quite finished/right to warrant a recipe here though, unless you are partial to gummy-chocolate weirdo biscuits or some unidentified bean slop. Sorry. That’s the thing; some days all I want to do is eat weird bowls of mush – I’m not going to painstakingly present some amazingly perfect, styled creation. Honestly, that’s not how I roll. I am a spur-of-the-moment (and what’s in my pantry) creator. I don’t really think about WHAT to make, more so what CAN I make out of what is available in my pantry? Again, that’s where the term Fridge Scrapings was coined – I don’t have the disposable income to be going out and purchasing an over abundant cornucopia of fancy health food ingredients – I allow myself a few a week, and be happy with what I have. If we are honest, it IS expensive to keep yourself stocked in such products, but if you make your health a priority (like I do, for myself and my family) then you just have to work it into your budget.
Viper gets beer, I get chia seeds and cacao powder. Speaking of which, if you are in Australia, and haven’t checked out Loving Earth, please do. Their products are amazing, and their business ethics are so spot on. Unfortunately, they did not pay me to say this, or gift me this cacao powder. They don’t even know I exist – I just love their goods.
The whole blogging-world is a weird and wonderful place. It’s interesting though, you can tell pretty darn quickly when a blog is going “stale” – the blogger has lost the love, and is just putting up recipe after recipe (however amazing they may be) without any real substance to the posts? In saying that, this post of mine has little substance, but it was just a thought I wanted to share…. what are your thoughts on blogging for the sake of blogging? Can YOU tell when a blog has ‘lost that loving feeling?’
There are so many amazing food blogs out there on the world wide web…. if I don’t blog every day about my latest greatest creation, no one is going to really lose out now are they? If you were really after a decadent, amazingly-good-for you-dessert today, I’m sorry, I can’t help you…. Sara can though: Vegan Ganache Cake (pictured above) – man I wish I was still in Christchurch, so I could go steal some off her.
Anyway, I could say I am saving all my creative juices for the up and coming Virtual Vegan Potluck which is 2 days away. Get ready for an amazing feast of Vegan goodness…. here’s my contribution from last year if you missed it.
Oh and Misty says Happy Halloween.
First things. Just look at these glorious treats reader EMMA created for her little one from my Quinoa Crackers and Chickpea Biscuits (in animal shapes, too, I might add – bravo, Emma, bravo – you are a more patient woman than I).
Receiving this photo via email was just the nicest thing imaginable – I look at my blog like a journal, so to have somebody take the time and effort to create one of my recipes is so exciting for me. Thanks so much for the photo, Emma – I hope your little one enjoyed these yummy (healthy) treats.
I’m beginning to introduce more cultured food back into my diet. I really feel as if I am through the worst of the die-off stage of the Anti-Candida cleanse. My symptoms have lessened considerably, and now it time to up those GOOD bacteria in my belly to ward off any future issues. I’m starting with the simple stuff – sauerkraut. Actually, this is more of a Cab-Apple-Carrot-Kraut but anyway. It’s the easiest thing to do, and so incredibly cheap (not to mention amazingly good for you) – why would you part with your cash when you can make it in a flash? This batch is half a white cabbage, 2 green apples and 2 carrots. You simply grate everything up, toss with 2 tablespoons of ground sea salt and leave for anywhere from 4-10 days to ferment depending on the temperature.
You have to weight down the veggie mix, so they stay covered with the brine. No fancy tools here, I just place a small dish inside my glass jar, and weight that down (a clean rock works well for me, as does a handful of crystals – ha, hippie kraut for sure). I’m also working on fermenting a fruit mixture (apples and pears) with some vegan “whey” – basically the watery part from a kefir batch. I’ll let you know if this experiment works.
Another thing I could never justify buying is coconut butter. I’ve posted about it before with this Toasted Variety. All you need to do is get yourself a bag of coconut shreds (at least 3 Cups, otherwise it’s way too frustrating) chuck in your food processor and process process process. Patience is a virtue, yes as this tends to take a little time, but you will reap your rewards in the end. The coconut goes through a few stages….
Clumpy as the oils release….. scrape down the sides of the bowl and give the motor of your machine a break every now and then – don’t go blowing up appliances on my account.
Winning, right there – glorious, creamy-dreamy coconut butter. Just add a little sea salt – about 1/2t. You can go crazy with flavour combos…. add vanilla extract, cacao powder, carob powder, liquid sweetener, whatever takes your fancy. I love to add my favourite Super Food powders (think Acai Berry for a super antioxidant dense – and pretty purple – treat)
I have a bunch of recipes coming up utilising this delicious ingredient – it’s similar to coconut oil in the sense it will go rock hard at room temperature, but turn to a liquid when even slightly heated. An instant “magic shell” on ice cream for sure. Drizzle on your morning cereal, dip fruit slices, add to smoothies or top desserts with this coconutty glory.
Now the above picture is one purchase that was TOTALLY necessary for me. I don’t know how I have survived (uninjured) for so long without one. Another weird & wonderful Lou fact is that I have hyper-hydrosia in my hands and feet (READ: super sweaty hands/feet) – so basically in any circumstance where I am slightly nervous/anxious/hot/exercising I turn into sweaty-drippy-McGee. Totally embarrassing (and dangerous when one is walking barefoot over polished wooden floorboards) and awkward, especially when you have to shake someone’s hand. I digress – a non slip yoga towel has helped me so much in my practice – after completing about 15 hot yoga sessions during my time in New Zealand, it was a necessity in a 40 degree heated room.
Now I can get through any type of class without slipping and sliding all over the show, and without landing on my ass in some sort of embarrassingly loud tangle of limbs. One tip, though – shop around for yoga-equipment such as this. Don’t just stroll into a yoga studio as they are ridiculously over-priced, and we all know I’m a cheap skate. I found this towel, online, for about 1/4 of the price of yoga towels I’d seen in yoga studios/gyms.
How about you? Are there things you always make from scratch? Anyone else out there who is super-sweaty?! (Kidding)
I never used to like coconut. I remember I actually used to say I was “allergic” to it when I was a kid, to get out of eating it. Ha, how times (and taste buds change). We all go through it, our taste buds mature, and we begin to “get” why certain foods are INCREDIBLE, when a few years previous, we would have turned up our nose in disgust. I never used to like mushrooms until I moved to Australia – it was strange – as soon as I jumped the ditch, I tried mushrooms properly and LOVED them. Same thing with capers, olives, good quality olive oil, wine – it’s like my sense of taste hit a new stride, and ditched it’s rather bland childhood/teenager favourites for the more sophisticated nosh.
Coconut has been my biggest infatuation of late. Not just due to the taste, if you can believe it. The health benefits of coconut OIL, in particular, are pretty incredible. I really do believe consuming large amounts of the stuff has really helped me on my Anti Candida Crusade; it’s anti-fungal properties are not to be scoffed at.
Oil pulling using coconut oil has been awesome, weird at first – but I SWEAR my teeth are whiter. I’ve even had almost instantaneous success using coconut oil on a little case of Cradle Cap Misty had…. within a day his symptoms (dry, scaley patches on the scalp) had softened, and in a few days was gone completely.
I know there is all sorts of negative hype surrounding saturated fats (which coconut oil is HIGH) in – but personally I couldn’t give two hoots about that. I know what makes me feel good, and coconut oil is my main squeeze.
Taste buds change as we grow older, yes, and I think it’s a really good thing to keep in mind that we CAN “re-set” our taste buds if we want to, at any time. I mean, if you eat a diet that is full of sugary-trans fatty-overly salted-preservative/additive laden foods, the of course a simple veggie stew and quinoa dinner is going to taste a little “blah” in comparison. Once you cut out all the fake, processed crap from your diet, you really begin to be able to truly TASTE food as nature intended it. I have discovered that by cutting out all sugar on the Anti Candida Diet, my taste buds have really grown adept at discovering the natural sweetness in veggies and whole grains. Stevia is there as my crucial crutch, yes, but my NEED for sugar sugar sweetie sugar has really died down.
Speaking of sweet-treats (that aren’t SO sweet) I’m on a Macaroon-kinda-kick. I think it’s because I kept stumbling across bags of coconut in my Mum’s pantry – and she says she hates dessicated/shredded coconut – so I was just being a good daughter and ridding her of it, yes?
I’m always a big fan of sneaking secret-nutrient-ingredients into baked good too. This recipe uses chickpeas and chia seeds to help bind the dough together, and ensure that the cookies stay a little chewy. Ingredient fixation of the day (Week? Month? Year?) coconut oil makes up the topping. Now who doesn’t love a chocolate-ty, coconut-ty topping?
Vanilla-Cinnamon Cookies with Chocolate Macaroon Topping
(Vegan, wheat/soy/nut/corn/refined sugar free. Anti Candida Friendly)
- 1+ 3/4C chickpeas ( One 400g can, drained of all liquid)
- 3/4C oatbran (oat flour or buckwheat flour – ground from raw groats- could be subbed in here)
- 2T chia seeds
- 1/4t sea salt
- 25 drops vanilla stevia liquid (OR 2T liquid sweetener such as agave/maple etc – REDUCE water to 1T if you use this option)
- 2T water
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1t ground cinnamon
- 1T solid coconut oil
- Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until well combined…. you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
- Turn out “dough” onto a lined baking sheet, and squeeze together so it forms a large clump. Rest the dough here for about 10 minutes…. it makes it easier to work with.
- The easiest way to roll it out is to place another sheet of baking paper on top, and either press with your palms or use a rolling pin until it is about 4-5mm in thickness. (If you prefer a crispier cookie then roll the dough out to about 2mm in thickness).
- Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter, or simply cut into squares.
- Bake for 23-25 minutes at 160 degrees C on fan bake setting.
- Turn oven off, leaving cookies inside to dry out further. They will looked cracked and really dry, but they actually stay remarkable chewy in the middle.
- Top with the following….
Chocolate Macaroon Topping
- 8T solid coconut oil
- 8T toasted coconut shreds (lightly brown in a dry fry pan)
- 4T cacao powder
- 20 drops vanilla stevia liquid (OR liquid sweetener of choice – 2T- omit hot water though)
- 1/4t vanilla extract
- 2T hot water
- Pinch sea salt
- Pour hot water over the coconut oil to help it soften… then add the toasted coconut straight from the pan…. again to help the oil melt.
- Mix in all other ingredients, and ensure no lumps of solid oil remain.
- Scoop onto cooled cookies, and flatten out.
- Chill in fridge to the topping “sets.”
Honestly, I don’t know about the reliability of my taste buds, as you saw what I made/ATE the other day. On all accounts, though, my buds found these particular cookies rather delicious…. so much so, that I made/ATE three batches in as many days.
What are your thoughts on coconut oil? How have YOUR tastebuds progressed in sophistication over the years?
Sometimes I find myself asking – ‘what more can I do!?’ I eat super healthy, exercise, supplement, sleep enough, meditate – you know, all that jazz. Yet, I still get sick all.the.time, and I have a list of ailments as long as my arm. Argh.
I know people that eat a shocking diet, drink 2 cases of beer a week, and consider walking to the fridge to get another cold one their exercise, and they NEVER get sick. Argh.
I suppose it’s safe to say that you can try you best in the “health” sense, but genetics and constitution really get to play the final card. Frustrating to say the least. We are just seeing the light after 3 weeks of constant sickness here – I know that having a toddler (disease sponge) doesn’t help my chances of staying healthy through Winter, but I can try my hardest in terms of diet and lifestyle. I shudder to think what I would be like if I didn’t look after myself.
At the moment, I am trying to keep life simple – not over complicating everything. Same goes with my food. Simple is good (and less time messing up the kitchen). Maybe it’s the cooler mornings, and me craving something a little ‘stick to your ribs,’ style, but I have been loving a very simple (huge) breakfast bowl of 1c oats, 1 huge banana chopped into it, salt and coconut kefir. So simple, so filling, and it seems to agree with my body. Hoo-frickin’-ray.
I work nights which makes life a little hectic at the best of times – especially when it comes to food preparation. I try to leave something nutritious for the boys, and hope there will be leftovers for me when I get home. Quick and simple is my mantra – but it also helps to have a little secret weapon in the flavour department: herbal sea salt.
When you are stretched for time, a little container of this stuff is a godsend – an instant flavour boost, with no need for stock or complicated seasoning combinations. It’s all done for you. This brand is my favourite, but there a plenty available at both supermarkets and health food stores these days.
On the topic of quick, simple and nutritious (not to mention CHEAP) you can never go past soup. A big pot will last a few meals, and for fussy toddlers, it’s also great served over rice or pasta.
Simple Pumpkin Soup
(Vegan: gluten/wheat/grain/refined sugar free)
- 1kg sweet pumpkin (think Jap or buttercup varieties OR kabocha squash for you on the flip side)
- 2 medium red onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4C water
- 2 400g cans of chickpeas (I used salted) – drained and rinsed well
- 2t Herbamare (or any herbal sea salt blend – you may eed to adjust seasoning to taste though)
- 1/4t regular sea salt
- 1/4t white pepper
- Black Pepper to taste (I like a very inappropriate amount)
- Combine pumpkin, onion, garlic, water in a saucepan.
- Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and then cook until all veggies are super tender.
- Pop the lid on, turn off the heat, and let it cool down.
- Blend up the veggies with chickpeas and seasoning.
Serve as is…. hearty, thick and comforting. Of course, I never practise what I preach – Viper has been missing dairy-based condiments, so I made him a batch of cashew “sour cream” to dollop on top. Not essential, no, but SO good.
Raw Cashew “Sour Cream”
(Vegan: RAW/gluten/wheat/refined sugar/grain free)
- 1 & 1/4C raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours – then drained and rinsed well.
- 2t apple cider vinegar
- 4t lemon juice
- 1/2t sea salt
- Approximately 3/4C water for blending
- Whizz all ingredients together in the food processor – you could use a blender, but I would double the recipe, as it isn’t a huge amount, and could be annoying to scrape out of a large blender. Blend until super smooth and creamy – adding water as needed.
- Adding herbs (think basil/parsley/shallots) is great if you want something with a little more oomph. 1/4C fresh should do the trick.
Of course, you simply cannot have soup without some sort of bread. I know I’ve been talking about this “no-knead,” bread for awhile – it’s just awesome. It’s the easiest thing I have ever baked, plus Viper reckons it’s the best bread ever…. it’s just that I have run out of time, and the work whistle is blowing.
Apologies, apologies, but such splendid bread deserves a dedicated post, and to spend any more time clacking keys would result in tardiness, which is not my style.
Anyway, the moral of the story is, keep things simple – and don’t place EVERY health intention on your diet…. eating clean & wholesome definitely helps, but it’s not the divine answer a lot claim it to be.