Category Archives: Food

Challenge for August: No Processed Sugars! (and Raw Carrot Cake Recipe)

Hey everyone! Happy Friday to all!

I know I’ve been M.I.A. and have been neglecting you (I’m so sorry!) but rest assured I have been keeping healthy, staying dry (I completed the Dry July charity challenge and raised over $500 for cancer research) and busy dreaming up all sorts of new ideas to post about.

Dry July

Staying booze-free wasn’t too hard at all. The most challenging times were the first few Friday afternoons (I love an after-work red to kick off the weekend), a friend’s 30th (but I got over it after the first hour) and another friend’s birthday dinner (and I soon got over that after the food arrived – oink). I did however, find myself eating a lot more sweets and treats, justifying to myself that since I wasn’t drinking, I was consuming fewer calories anyway, or they were at least cancelling each other out.

BUT as we all know, it’s not (all) about the calories right?  I was consuming more processed sugar than before and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you don’t need me to tell you that nasty processed sugar is addictive and detrimental to your health! Yuck!

There are many opinions out there about sugar – processed and naturally occurring – and how much one should consume. I don’t purport to be an expert on it so I won’t preach here, but I will share with you what works for me, and how I want to eat.

Challenge for August

Now bringing it back to where I started off.. Taking on the Dry July challenge was fantastic – it gave me a goal to work towards and achieving it was very rewarding. I felt positive in body and mind. So I thought, why not take on another challenge in August: No processed sugars?!

Let me be clear: This isn’t a license for me to go and eat barrels of fruit a day and ladle honey over my morning muesli like it’s going out of fashion – a balanced diet is still important – it is an attempt to minimise the amount of processed sugars consumed. Sugar is in so many unsuspecting food items (like Ketchup and many of the Asian sauces we cook with plus so much more!) I can’t possibly cut them all out, but I can at least try to make “sugar swaps” – using healthier natural alternatives where possible – and cut out those blocks of Cadbury after dinner each night, and that 3pm cupcake at work, “you know, because it’s Tuesday”.

I’ll be experimenting with some different sugar alternatives, and working on some other greener meals and snacks, so stay tuned!

Raw Carrot Cake*

Depending on which way you look at it, this could be the perfect (or counter-intuitive) way to bring on my August challenge: a raw carrot cake using only natural ingredients and no added processed sugars (only honey and fruit are used as sweeteners). Just remember that cake is meant to be a treat, so enjoy in moderation.

raw carrot cake

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups walnuts
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic rolled oats – I used my morning raw muesli mix already stocked in the pantry (my cake batter was scattered with almonds, pepitas, sultanas and coconut – yum!) 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt – I love a touch of saltiness in my sweet!
  • 12 large fresh dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots or pineapple – I used a combination of both
  • 2 large raw carrots, grated
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste – which I didn’t have so I used 2 tsp natural vanilla essence
  • 2 tbs raw protein powder

Method

  1. Combine walnuts, chia, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, protein powder, orange zest and salt into a food processor and processed until mixed and finely chopped.
  2. Add dates and apricots then process again until mixed through.
  3. Add grated carrot and vanilla and then process again until combined. The mix should now form a lovely dough.
  4. Tip into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add oats and kneed through the mixture.
  6. Press cake firmly into a 15-20cm baking tin that is lined with baking paper.
  7. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Leave at least 2 hours to allow the carrot cake to rest.
  8. Lick fingers and bowl.
  9. Enjoy as is or with your choice of frosting.

Frosting Ideas

  1. Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
  2. For a raw cashew or macadamia nut cream, combine 1 cup raw nuts with 1/2 cup orange juice or coconut water and a little vanilla. Blend in Vitamix until smooth and creamy
  3. For a cream cheese style frosting, combine 250g soft cream cheese with a little lemon zest, juice, vanilla and maple syrup and honey, and beat until combined and creamy. You can use quark or Neutachafel (try Flannery’s, I think Barambah organics makes a quark) or a naughty but easily-accessible option is Philadelphia cream cheese (not raw or sugar free!!).

This cake is rather dense, and will cut up into about 16 slices. I ate 3 in the first day – oops! Enjoy xx

*Recipe credit to Teresa Cutter, The Health Chef: http://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/07/raw-carrot-cake/
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Winter Warmer : Pear Mint and Ginger Crumble

Image 2This is a recipe from one of my favourite food blogs “Finger Fork & Knife”, which is a real inspiration to my own aspirations of becoming a food stylist / food photographer / food designer, if not only just as a hobby. I’m not quitting my day job any time soon – I have a mortgage!

Warm pear and ginger are some of my favourite flavours, coupled with the sweet and crunchy oat and nutty topping – with little bursts of saltiness dotted throughout – contrasted with the freshness of mint and zestiness of lemon, balanced with cold creamy vanilla icecream atop, makes this dessert a winter winner in my book. Pears are in season now too which is perfect as I’m a big fan of cooking seasonally and using produce at its optimum quality and availability.

I made a few ingredient substitutions in order to reduce the guilt when seeking comfort in this treat, but all in all this crumble is pretty wholesome (in terms of desserts), so don’t feel too bad.

Pear Mint and Ginger Crumble*

Serves 4-6

For the fruit

  • 4 large pears, peeled, cored, sliced – I actually forgot to peel mine. The skin has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory flavonoids and heaps of dietary fibre, so feel free to leave it on for added nutritional benefit.
  • 2-3 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped – I used 3
  • 2 pieces stem ginger, chopped – I couldn’t find any so I used glace ginger and halved the amount of sugar used in the crumble topping to compensate
  • zest of 1 lemon – when zesting the lemon, do so over the pan, so that you capture all those flavoursome oils from the rind that splutter everywhere
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

For the crumble topping

  • 1/2 wholemeal flour – I used wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats – next time I’ll try rolled spelt oats to reduce gluten
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar – I used 2 tbs to reduce the sweetness since I used glace ginger, and also to make it a tad healthier
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped – hazelnuts would be yummy too
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 60g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes – sorry, but butter makes everything better! Use organic grass-fed if you can.
  • Himalayan rock salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180C.

Put the sliced pear, dates, stem ginger, lemon juice and zest into a saucepan. Add a splash of water and bring to the boil. Reduce hear and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the pear has softened slightly. Remove from the heat and add in the chopped mint leaves. Stir gently to mix through mint then spoon into an oven-proof dish or divide between individual ramekins.

To make the crumble topping, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs – this can also be done in a food processor. Stir in oats, brown sugar, almonds and sunflower seeds. Scatter the crumble over the fruit in an even layer and pop into the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned on top. Serve warm, with a big dollop of natural yoghurt, custard, cream or (my choice) vanilla icecream.

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IMG_2209*Recipe credit to Finger Fork & Knife: http://fingerforkknife.com/2013/06/30/pear-mint-ginger-crumble/

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Thai Chicken Burgers with Korean Slaw

Image 1It’s the first weekend of Dry July, so in an effort to keep busy and eat clean, I decided to make a healthy dinner (as opposed to lazily getting takeout as I am often guilty of on a Friday night, bottle of wine in tow).

This recipe is from the “detox” menu plan in Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” cookbook. By the way, I’ve tried a few of her recipes now and I must say, I am digging them! I had mine bun-free as I had already indulged in pizza, chips and cake today (oops) but you can have them on a gluten-free bun. These burgers were, as my friend Lauren would say, absolutely deeelish!

Thai Chicken Burgers

Serves 4

  • 500g minced chicken breast
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • 2/3 cups coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped – I used spring onions
  • 1 tsp very finely minced red chilli – I used 2 small hot chillies
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed or safflower oil)

Thoroughly mix the chicken with the garlic, coriander, shallots, red chilli, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 4 burgers (I made 8 smaller ones).

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Rub each burger on both side with a bit of the oil and grill for about 8 minutes on the first side and another 5 minutes on the second, or until nicely marked and firm to the touch.

Korean Slaw

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil – Next time I would use only 1tbs, it was a tad oily for my liking
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded cos lettuce
  • 3 tbs finely diced red red onion
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced – I used spring onion
  • 3 tbs roughly chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice and fish sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and allow the slaw to sit for at least 10 minutes and as long as 6 hours before serving.

Easy as!

I hope you enjoy the burgers as much as I did, and that you have a happy and healthy weekend! Rest relax rejuvenate xx

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Mexican Beef Tacos with Chimichurri Corn and Green Goddess Slaw

IMG_2154On the weekend my girlfriends and I had a takeaway picnic lunch in the park – to take advantage of the beautiful winter’s day, and really so we could all be selfish and have whatever flavours we felt like that day. I opted for Chinese (steamed chicken with rice and greens and lots of chilli) and my friend had Mexican. The few bites I snuck in were yummo and thus became my inspiration for tonight’s dinner.

This is a mix and match of a few recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good”. I took a few liberties and improvised a little with what I had in my fridge. Next time I may be a little lighter-handed on the oil and salt, but that’s my personal preference (and it’s a little healthier), though my dinner amigo thought it was just delicioso as is.

Mexican Beef Tacos with Chimichurri Corn and Green Goddess Slaw

Serves 4 hungry fiesta guests

Mexican Beef

Rub some rump steaks with olive oil and Mexican seasoning (cumin, oregano, garlic, paprika, chilli, pepper) then BBQ for a few minutes on each side. Remove from heat, cover and leave to rest whilst you make the sides.

Chimichuirri Corn

  • 4 fresh ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan rock salt
  • 2 tbs Chimichurri (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Remove the kernels from the corncobs. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat and immediately add the corn kernels and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the corn is softened and takes on a bit of char around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the Chimichurri and chilli flakes. Season to taste.

Chimichurri

  • 1 packed cup Italian parsley
  • 1/2 packed cup coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Pulse everything together in a food processor (I use a powerful blender like a Vitamix). Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

  • 2/3 cup Greek yoghurt – I use Chobani No Fat. It’s got heaps of protein, zero fat and low in sugar (and non of the yucky added sugars)
  • 1/4 cup coriander
  • 2 scallions, which and light green parts only
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 jalapeno – I used a whole one, I like spicy
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Combine all the ingredients in a powerful blender and blitz until completely smooth. This makes a lot of dressing. If you don’t use it all, it will keep well in a jar for up to a week.

Slaw

  • 1/2 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 green cabbage, finely shredded

Combine in a large bowl and top with Green Goddess Dressing. Keep some dressing to the side for your hombres who like a creamier salad.

Now assemble! Layer all ingredients onto heated tortillas. Top with salsa, Tabasco, chopped chillies, extra coriander, big squeeze of lime.. whatever you like! That’s what makes Mexican so much fun to eat!

¡Buen provecho!

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Protein Power Balls

IMG_2147I’m a huge fan of Teresa Cutter (aka “The Healthy Chef”) and her approach to food – she creates delicious functional foods for optimum health and wellbeing.

I have been meaning to give these protein balls a try forever but have never gotten around to it, so Friday night when my girlfriend came over for healthy fish and veggies (and wine – what? It’s the weekend, plus isn’t a glass of wine good for you?!), we gave them a whirl. They turned out absolutely dangerously delicious!! Let’s just say we couldn’t stop at one..

Ingredients

  • 330g raw whole almonds or walnuts – I didn’t have quite that many almonds so made up about 50g of the difference with pistachios
  • 60g protein powder – I use ezyprotein (vanilla) which is an Australian certified organic, sprouted, bio-fermented, raw, wholegrain brown rice protein powder
  • 16 fresh dates, pitted
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder – I used raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbs natural vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • desiccated coconut, goji berries, cocoa, nuts for rolling

Method

  • Throw almonds, cinnamon, protein powder and cocoa into a food processor and process until the mix looks crumbly – Vitamix won’t work, I found this out the hard way.. but you can blitz the nuts in a Vitamix, chop up the dates and moosh all ingredients together with your hands in a big bowl. Get dirrrrty!
  • Add dates and vanilla extract and process again until the mix starts to come together
  • Add a splash of water if you need to so that the mixture is soft and forms a soft ball
  • Form into 14 decent sized balls
  • Roll in coconut or other suggested coatings and store in the fridge (up for 4 weeks, if they last that long!)

Nutritional Info (per ball)

  • Protein 8.2g
  • Carbs 7.6g
  • Total fat 12g
  • Saturated fat 0.9g
  • Fibre 2.8g
  • Kilojoules 703
  • Calories 168
Picture of Protien Power Balls

After-dinner treat

Recipe from: The Healthy Chef http://www.thehealthychef.com/2011/09/protein-power-balls/

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Green Papaya, Pickled Carrot and Mint

Picture of Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Green Papaya, Carrot and Mint

At the farmers markets on Saturday morning, my usual green grocer had bags of freshly-shredded green papaya for sale. I love green payaya salads but seeing as though I am way too lazy to go to the Asian supermarket to buy green papayas and even lazier to peel and shred the big melons myself, I didn’t hesitate to procure myself a bag of the not-always-available (and conveniently pre-packaged) fruit.

I didn’t have a recipe for a Thai green papaya salad (originally from Laos as I have now learnt) so I adapted a recipe for Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Carrot and Mint from Bill Granger’s “Bill’s Everyday Asian” – a cookbook that comes highly recommended by my best friend and she is not wrong! All the dishes I’ve made so far have been really tasty and quite simple, especially for Asian food which I can find to be a tad onerous on time, ingredients and processes.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Green Papaya, Pickled Carrot & Mint

  • 1.5kg rotisserie chicken – I used 2 poached chicken breast instead (see recipe below)
  • 90g bean sprouts
  • 180g Chinese cabbage, finely shredded – I used green papaya instead
  • handful mint leaves
  • handful basil leaves
  • pickled carrot (see recipe below)
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 tbs soft brown sugar – I used raw organic honey
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, crush with the flat of a knife – I finely chopped mine
  • handful chopped roasted peanuts
  • small handful crispy shallots – I used sliced spring onions (fresh)

Shred the chicken breast meat. Place the chicken, bean sprouts, green papaya, mint and basil leaves and picked carrot in a serving bowl.

Make the dressing by whisking together the fish sauce, lime juice, honey, chilli, ginger and garlic. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine with half the peanuts. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and spring onions to serve. Serves 4 (it served a hungry boyfriend who loved it and who doesn’t normally like Vietnamese food plus myself for lunch, and we even some leftover to use as rice paper roll fillings the next day).

Pickled Carrot

  • 1 large carrot, finely julienned – I simply grated mine
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt – I always use Himalayan pink rock salt
  • 1.5 tbs rice vinegar
  • 3 tsp caster sugar – I used raw sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and leave to pickle for 20 minutes.

Poached Chicken Breast

You can use many combinations of aromatics you have on hand to poach chicken breast, eg. black peppercorns, bay leaves, spring onions etc. Use a good dose of salt (about 1 tbs for 4 breast fillets). Add all the aromatics into a pot of cold water. Bring to the boil. Add the chicken, turn off the heat, cover and leave to poach for 20 minutes. You will have perfectly poached chicken breast every time. Too easy! I like to poach a few extra so that I always have easy salad proteins and wrap fillings on hand.

Chúc ngon miệng! (Bon appetit in Vietnamese)

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Overnight Oats

Picture of Overnight Oats

Good morning!

Lately I’ve been getting a little bored of my breakfast green smoothie and have been craving the chewiness of.. FOOD!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my green smoothies but sometimes you just want that spoon-to-mouth-and-chew action.

One way I have been switching it up is with Overnight Oats (aka Bircher muesli). You still get all the convenience of a one-jar breakfast that can be eaten on-the-go, and what’s better, it basically prepares itself overnight!

Basic Overnight Oats Recipe

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats – I use my own mixture of rolled oats, quinoa flakes, coconut flakes, sultanas, raisins, apricots, almonds, sunflower seeds and linseeds
  • 1/3 cup milk (soy, dairy, nut, coconut, or even water if you are trying to be good)
  • 1/3 cup yoghurt – I use Chobani No Fat, it’s super high in protein and doesn’t have any yucky additives*
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • pinch of cinnamon – I like a good dose
  • (you could add some vanilla or a pinch a salt also)

Throw all ingredients into a jar. Screw the lid on and swirl to combine. Place in fridge overnight. In the morning, add in slices of banana, berries, crunchy granola or nuts, coconut.. whatever tickles your fancy. Grab the closest spoon, your bag, keys and you’re out the door ready to face the day!

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My Overnight Oats, coffee & water with lemon and apple cider vinegar to kick start the day

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Check out http://www.buzzfeed.com/arielknutson/overnight-oat-recipes-oatmeal-cold for some awesome Overnight Oats flavour inspiration!

Next I’m going to try out this Green Monster Vegan Overnight Oats – this way you’re not missing out on your morning greens! Stay tuned to see how my Green Monster Vegan Overnight Oats turn out (and tastes!!).

Picture of Green Monster Vegan Overnight Oats

*I use Chobani Greek Yoghurt (Plain Fat Free). Per 180g serve, it has 17g protein, 0g fat and 6.9g of sugar (but it’s lactose which is naturally occurring in dairy and not yucky added sugars). You can find Chobani at Coles and Woolies.

Green Monster Vegan Overnight Oats image credit to:
Oh She Glowshttp://ohsheglows.com/2012/03/23/green-monster-vegan-overnight-oats-getting-back-into-running/
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We Be MasterCheffin’

Picture of Kale Avocado and Walnut Salad, Gluten-Free Vegetarian Lasagne & Grilled Corn and Haloumi Salad

Lunch is served!

As I recall, our MasterChef dinners were the brainchild of:

  1. An attempt to pinch pennies in the midst of the GFC, rather than squandering our hard-earned cash on lavish dinners out (tsk tsk, how irresponsible.. as if we would!!)
  2. Our regard for ourselves as quite the culinarians (or at least an attempt to foster our budding interest in cooking, inspired by the at-the-time-popular TV show “MasterChef”)
  3. A great way for all the girls to catch up mid-week (the dinners were usually a Thursday night affair), eating healthy home-cooked meals, without the temptation of wine and cocktail menus.

What really happened was:

  1. We spent more money on the actual ingredients for our dishes than if we had just gone out to our favourite local $10-a-dish Japanese eatery
  2. We each ended up BYO’ing a bottle of wine, which made for a pretty dismal Friday at work and lead-in to the weekend
  3. We all overate until we felt sick (but of course still had room for the selection of desserts – what? It’s a different stomach!).

All in all, a recipe for a fantastic time!

The rules were simple: Bring a dish from our nominated food-destination. During our journey, we visited France, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Christmas-in-July, to name a few..

It’s been a while since our last MasterChef, so when our friend offered to host us for a luncheon for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, we all leapt at the opportunity.

The theme this time was “BBQ Potluck”.

I chose a simple side from Donna Hay’s “No Time To Cook” cookbook. It’s the perfect accompaniment to roasted meats, chicken or fish.

Onion & Garlic Butter Beans

Combine 40g butter and 1 tbs olive oil and cook over medium-high heat in a non-stick frying pan. Add 2 sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes until golden. Add 4 cloves sliced garlic and cook of 1 minute. Add a 400g can drained and rinsed white (cannellini) or butter beans and cook for 4 minutes or until heated through. Stir in 150g baby spinach leaves, salt and pepper and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

This recipe serves 4, so I doubled it. I was very generous with the Parmesan. Deliciously cheesey and garlicky! Next time I will add some dried chilli flakes for some colour and kick!

Picture of butter beans cooking

Simple one-pot side dish. The house was filled with the aromas of garlic – yum!

Picture of butter beans served

Onion & Garlic Butter Beans

Everyone did a great job and we had a splendid time! Now we just have to keep doing it and not leave it for another year! I just wish I got to wake up to a fridge full of leftovers!

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Home-grown lettuce from the garden

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Grilled corn and haloumi

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Grilled Corn and Haloumi Salad

Marinated drumsticks and steaks

Marinated drumsticks and steaks

We Aussies love a BBQ

We Aussies love a BBQ

Table is set

Table is set!

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Red roses, red wine & an array of condiments

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Kale Avocado and Walnut Salad & Gluten-Free Vegetarian Lasagne

My plate. First of three.

My plate. First of three servings.

Egg-Free Passionfruit Contintental Cheesecake to finish - delish!

Egg-Free Passionfruit Continental Cheesecake to finish – delish!

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Super Green Sprout Salad

Picture of a green salad with sproutsWell, mine is loosely interpreted and has added tuna (sorry to all strict greenies out there!)

Picture of super green sprout salad and tunaSome days you just don’t want to cook dinner. Especially when it’s late and you’ve just come home from a long day at the office. Long day or not, I’m a huge fan of the “assembled dinner”. Call me lazy.

That, coupled with my prerogative to use up what’s in my fridge (who can be bothered to go to the shops at 8pm, plus you save money and don’t waste produce), led me to try out this recipe I found on the Loving Earth website. I had radishes (which I rarely, but in this instance conveniently stocked), 2 yet-to-be opened containers of raw sprouts that needed to be consumed before they turned nasty (the longer you keep them the higher risk they become for E. coli and Salmonella), along with a very ripe avo that was begging to be used ASAP.

I followed the recipe as close as I could using whatever I had in my fridge and pantry.

For the Salad

  • A big handful of mesculin greens – I used oak lettuce
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can of chickpeas – I used the raw sprouts (crunchy combo including chickpeas, lentils, mung beans and other goodness)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley – I used mint instead
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 3 radishes
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs activated pumpkin seeds – I didn’t have any so left these out
  • 1 tbs activated buckwheat – I substituted with leftover grilled corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup activated almonds – I didn’t have any of these either so I left them out. I would use insecticide-free almonds soaked overnight. No need to dry before eating. Just rinse and pat dry
  • Fresh sprouts to garnish

Method

  1. Cut broccoli into florets and steam until just tender – I blanched, it’s so much easier and less clean-up! 
  2. Thinly slice radishes and cucumber and place in a large bowl
  3. Add leafy greens and chopped herbs along with chickpeas and broccoli
  4. Slice avocado into squares and carefully fold through the greens
  5. Roughly chop nuts and seeds

For the Dressing

  • 2 tbs tahini – I use Flannery’s own brand unhulled
  • 1 tbs white miso paste – I didn’t have any so substituted with tamari
  • 2 tbs water – I used 3 tbs hot water
  • pinch of salt – I omitted as tamari is already salty

Method

  1. Whisk all ingredients together, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly – I added cracked pepper, and next time would add some crushed ginger and garlic
  2. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix gently to coat
  3. Before serving, sprinkle the salad with the chopped seed mix, and add a good dose of sprouts to the side – I didn’t have any alfalfa but you can see from the picture what they mean. Next time I would also add a good squeeze of lemon at the end to bring out some freshness

This recipe is relatively high in fat (heart-healthy fats though), so feel free to reduce the amount of avo or dressing you use and substitute with some protein. If tuna doesn’t float your boat, try some grilled chicken or turkey breast, or tempeh if you are a herbivore. I used tuna as I already had it in my pantry. If you add all the nuts and dressing, canned chickpeas and buckwheat, you probably don’t need the extra protein. It’s very filling (and protein-ful) already. This recipe yielded two big salads.

Quick, simple, lean and green! Bon appetit!

Feature salad image credit to: https://lovingearth.net/recipes/super-green-salad-sprouts
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Meet My Friend, The Carb

Picture of different types of carbohydrates

Say WHO now?!!

Yes, you heard me right, let’s be friend with carbs.

That is, so long as they are the healthy wholesome not-super-processed kind and you’re not devouring all the dinner rolls in the breadbasket (unless you’re an Olympic athlete of course).

Carbophobia

I was inspired to write this post because I too, for a long time, was a fearer of all things starchy and carbohydrate, but after embarking back into my exercise regimen (I got lazy over Christmas), I found that I wasn’t able to get keep with with everyone at Barre Pilates or maintain the pace on my runs. My body was simply fatiguing too quickly. I had no energy and I could actually feel my muscles eating away at themselves! I wasn’t seeing any appreciable results from my training – no increased muscle mass, no fatloss (very disheartening).

I had tried to subscribe to a low-carb diet for a while, even trying Paleo for a bit, but I found it just didn’t work for me. In fact, I gained a ton of weight and couldn’t figure out why! Feeling frustrated, I decided to do some research of my own.

I was eating more than my fair share of nuts and avocados and falling into the common trap of “Oh it’s okay, these are healthy fats, I can have as much as I like”, inadvertently snacking on calorie-dense foods to fill that ‘carb-emptiness’ feeling. What I failed to remind myself was that my body doesn’t actually differentiate between good fats and bad fats (in terms of energy, I’m not talking about heart-health here), and that all fats consumed will be stored as just that – fat. I’m still an advocate of including fats in your diet, just make sure they are good fats and that they are portion controlled.

Quick Carb Science 101

Carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body to be used as energy. If you eat protein and fat with carbs, your body will use the carbs first, and store the rest. So, Atkins-esque peeps will advocate cutting out carbs to force your body to utilise energy from its body stores (“ketosis”). For me personally, it’s just not a sustainable way to live. I can’t train effectively or be productive at work or in other facets of my life.

We all know we will gain weight if we eat a diet full of creamy pastas and buttery croissants. The weight gain isn’t coming (soley) from the pasta or pastry, but the cream and butter that is being stored as fat because you’ve converted the available carbs to glucose first. So, it’s actually incorrect to say that “carbs are making me fat” – so long as you keep the quality and portions in-check, and keep your body moving, you’ll be fine!

Simply put: When your muscle and liver cells become too full of carbohydrates (ie. your bowl of rice is too big), your body will store the excess carbs as fat on your toosh.

Healthy Carbs

We all need to consume the correct amount of macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) for our individual compositions and activity levels. Carbs are essential to our health and wellbeing, what matters most is the type of carbs we eat.

Choose unprocessed, low-GI carbs:**

Picture of a kiwifruit, apple, orange, pear, banana

The Fruits: kiwifruit, apple, orange, pear, banana

Picture of red lentils, beans, peas

The Legumes: red lentils, beans, peas

Picture of Basmati rice, brown rice, cous cous, wholemeal bread, spelt & rye bread, fruit & nut muesli

The Grains: basmati rice, brown rice, cous cous, wholemeal bread, spelt & rye bread (low-gluten), fruit & nut muesli

Picture of pumpkin, corn (fresh), sweet potato

The Veggies: pumpkin, corn (fresh), sweet potato (boiled)

Other options include: Fruits and veggies of course (loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants), soy beans, quinoa, grainy breads, cous cous, wild rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, amaranth..

Not being as active as usual?

Substitute the serve of carbs in your meal with a large serve of green veggies, especially at dinnertime.

Over-indulged a little?

Throw in “Booster Day” into your week. Essentially restrict the amount of carbs consumed, and force your body to turn to its fat stores for energy. But don’t do this for more than one day a week! Your body will go into starvation mode, slow your metabolism right down, and will cling onto every single morsel of food consumed.

Friends for Life

Coming into completing Week #5 of my diet makeover, I can honestly say that I have soaring energy levels, I’m training harder and better than ever, and my recovery time is much shorter. I’m also finally seeing some appreciable results, which is always encouraging.

The key is to feed your body what it needs in order to perform and rejuvenate. It took me a while to figure it all out and what works best for me (it’s hard with all the mixed messages out there). I hope my experience can help you achieve your health and fitness goals also.

Everyone is different, I would love to hear what works for you!

*One serve = 15g carbohydrate

**Some fitness experts say that carbohydrates should be eaten preferably earlier in the day to encourage fat loss and maintain consistent energy levels. Personally I have them in each meal if I am being active, as I really notice the difference in my performance if I skip them (plus I get hungry again quickly), but it’s all about finding what works for you.

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