I like sweets, that’s no secret. Sweet treats are my favourite things to create (and eat) in the kitchen. Sugar, however doesn’t sit well with me – once I start eating sugar, I can’t stop, and the crash that follows a sugar-fest is not pretty at all. Not to mention skin problems, mood swings – the list goes on. Natural sugars like fruit, and less refined forms of the white stuff are OK – just not in massive amounts.
I’m actually a huge fan of stevia and alternative sweeteners that are derived from natural sources. Stevia is one of my all-time favourites – I use it daily and do not experience any sugar-crash-like symptoms from including it in my diet. It doesn’t taste exactly like sugar though, and that’s something you have to be aware of. If you go into tasting an alternative sweetener imaging sugar – then you may be confused/disappointed at your findings. It took me a few goes to get used to stevia (plant extract) erythriotl (plant extract) xylitol (plant fibre)- and stevia is definitely my favourite of the three.
Different brands taste different – a lot of people try stevia and declare it “fake tasting,” and “bitter” – and a lot of stevia-based products DO taste like this. I have found that shopping around, and trying different brands has helped me discover the best tasting products. I have been lucky enough to receive a few products from the Natvia range recently (I received these products for free, in exchange for my thoughts) I had already tried this alternative sweetener which is a blend of stevia and erythritol (we even use it at the cafe I work at). I do like this product – it’s not quite as strong as straight stevia, so I find I have to use a little more than I would if I were using a product that was 100% stevia. The first few tastes took a little getting used to, but as I said – don’t think of it as SUGAR, and don’t expect it to taste exactly the same. It’s a really good product to use in baking that calls for a granulated sweetener, not to mention in hot drinks, sauces etc.
If you need to cut down/out sugar for any health reasons, then I think alternative sweeteners can really help lessen the SUGAR cravings….. a sugar-crutch if you will.
Warm Spiced Pumpkin Slice
(Vegan: gluten/wheat/nut/refined sugar/grain free)
This is a very simple slice – it is best served warm, more like a pudding (or breakfast!) – it will dry out after a few days. I serve this with a rich carob-cashew cream that really gives this healthy slice a bit of decadence, minus the sugar and refined ingredients!
- 2C roasted pumpkin pieces (slow roast your pumpkin in the oven for the ultimate sweet flavour)
- 1C buckwheat flour (ground from raw buckwheat groats – I use a small spice/coffee grinder, but a food processor or high speed blender will work too)
- 3T ground flax seed
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1t vanilla extract
- 2t ground cinnamon
- 1/4t ground ginger
- Pinch of nutmeg, pinch of ground cloves
- 1/2C Natvia
- 1/2C full fat coconut milk
- 2T coconut oil
- 1t baking powder
- 1/4t baking soda
*Optional: Throw in 1/2C “add-ins” – think raisins/chocolate chips/cranberries.
- Pre heat oven to 170 degrees C on fan bake setting.
- Throw everything into the food processer – except baking agents – (make your buckwheat flour FIRST!) and pulse/blend until very smooth.
- Add baking powder/soda and mix through the batter.
- Either using a spring form cake-tin or a baking tray lined with baking paper (depends on what shape you want) – scoop mix in. The slice should end up at about 2-3cm high (it doesn’t rise at all, really). I used a 20cm/10cm baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, and the slice is golden brown.
- Cool a littler before removing from the pan. I cut mine into small “cake” rounds using a large cookie cutter (trying to tempt the toddler to eat).
- Serve warm with the following cream.
Carob Cashew Cream
(Vegan: gluten/wheat/grain/refined sugar free)
- 1/2C soaked cashews, rinsed and drained (soak for at least 4 hours – better still, overnight)*
- 2T Natvia
- 2T carob powder (or cocoa/cacao)
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1t lemon juice
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth and creamy (scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Store extra in the fridge.
This cream will firm up in the fridge.
*If you happen to be nut sensitive, this would be a delicious alternative topping
This slice is so good served warm with the cashew cream….. definitely best eaten on the day it was made (it tends to dry out after 2 or more days). I have, however eaten it a few days after baking, and it just needs a very generous slathering of cashew cream to combat the dryness. Not complaining about that.
So my thoughts on Natvia are pretty positive – it’s a great option for an alternative sweetener that is easily accessible (sold at most local supermarkets like Woolworths or Coles). It works really well in baking, and to my taste buds, doesn’t have that weird bitter taste that is prevalent in a lot of similar products. My advice is to let yourself get used to the taste of alternative sweeteners – don’t expect them to taste like sugar/honey/maple syrup etc – they take a little to adjust too.
Everything in moderation, right? I like to change it up in regards to sweeteners – my favourites would be medjool dates, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, coconut sugar and stevia – how about you?
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!
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).
**Contributed to Veggie Mama’s Meatless Mondays
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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**