Tag Archives: carrot

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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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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