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?
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
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.
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?
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.