Life-changing ‘bread’

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I take this name from its creator, a long time favourite Blog of mine to follow – My New Roots. Sarah has made it famous, but I feel that I must share this incredibly wonderful and delicious recipe with you. In Sarah’s words: “It took me a long time to settle on the title for this post. Why? Because it’s quite a statement to suggest that a humble loaf of bread will change your life. I am willing to be so bold.”

I can’t explain why this bread is so good, and why it is so life-changing but when there are so many things you “can’t” eat, it’s refreshing when you come across something so delicious and fulfilling that you enjoy making and sharing. All the ingredients are things I know are good for me and that I love consuming so to put them all together into a dish and call it bread…it’s just pure genius! I adore the fact too that I can now also create an open sandwich with some of my favourite toppings with this bread, for an easy and quick lunchtime snack. And, the fact that my little boy loves it, even when he was 9 months old and just working our solid food, is even more testament to me that it’s the right food for our family. Now that’s he’s 14 months, when I pull it out of the oven in the morning his eyes light up and he can demolish a whole piece within 5 minutes!

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Sweet Treats (sugar free!)

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As I have explained here, my husband and I quit sugar over two years ago. We both feel much better, less ‘foggy’ in the head and have lost inches all over. I also don’t eat dairy nor gluten so sometimes trying to find a delicious dessert or ‘treat’ that tastes good but fulfills all of our food ‘intolerances’ is a bit tricky. This coconut cheesecake however fits the bill. It is easy to prepare in your food processor or Thermomix, and packs a punch when presented with fresh berries at a dinner party!

Coconut Cheesecake

base

1 and 1/2 cups desiccated coconut

1/2 cup cashews

10 medjool dates, seeds removed

2 tablespoons cacao or cocoa

1 tablespoon full fat coconut cream*

the top

1 and 1/2 cup cashews (I cover these with water and soak them while I get out the other ingredients and make base)

1 cup full fat coconut cream*

4-5 tablespoons rice malt syrup

4 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract

pinch of salt

The first thing I do is cover the 1 and 1/2 cups of cashews for the topping with water. I set that aside to soak while I gather my ingredients and start the base.

Place the base ingredients into your food processor and blend at high speed until the mixture resembles a fine crumb. Press the mixture firmly into the base of a spring form pan. Mine is 18cm.

Place in the fridge to set while you make the topping.

Drain the cashews that have been soaking and place them into your food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut cream and blend at high speed. Add another tablespoon of the coconut cream, scrape the mixture back onto the blades and pulse again. You want to get this as smooth as possible. I typically add another tablespoon of the cream and give it one more pulse before moving on to the next step.

Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Pour the mixture onto your base and place in the freezer for 4 – 6 hours to set.

You can serve it at this point or slice into serving and return to the freezer.

You can also make this cake in advance and simply remove it from the freezer around 20 – 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy.

*I buy the 270ml tin. I use one tablespoon in the base and the remainder in the topping

(Recipe credit must go to http://www.wholefoodsimply.com)


Cooking for the Soul & Recipe

Chicken MarbellaWhen my mum died, part of me died too. But I know she wouldn’t want that and would want the party to go on, fabulous food and wine, without her! One of the things my mum is remembered for and which was very special for our family is her cooking. Her cooking and understanding of flavours was amazing, and always brought us together. Whether it was a special occasion like a birthday or just a regular mid-week meal, the food was always restaurant quality. (My husband loves to tell me that our mid-week meals were still better than his family special occasion meals!). One of the lovely things that has happened to me since her passing, is discovering a recipe book she made for me with some of her favourite recipes and personalised handwritten notes about when to best serve these dishes, what I liked as a little girl and other special cooking tips.

One recipe I’d like to share with you is her lovely Chicken Marbella. Just the smell of it in the house makes me think of her and my siblings too all find great comfort in this meal. I’ve adjusted it to make it ‘sugar free’ but I’ve kept in the prunes which I think are a key part of the dish. A lovely moist chicken piece with freshly steamed greens and sweet potato mash – food for the soul.

This one is for you Mum. x

Chicken Marbella

8- 10 organic chicken thighs
1 whole head of garlic
1/4 cup dried oregano
Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 Spanish green olives
1/2 capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup of rice malt syrup
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup Italian parsley finely chopped

In a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper an salt, vinegar, Olive Oil, Prunes, Olives, capers, lime juice and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Arrange chicken in pan and pour white wine  around the pieces, then bake 45mins – 1hr, basting with the juice over the top regularly.

Serve with mashed sweet potato, steamed broccolini and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.Use organic ingredients where you can, most importantly the chicken.

Enjoy. And please let me know what you think!


Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

As I’ve mentioned, I am studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition which is a fabulous course that you get to do from the comfort of your own home, but also covers so much ground on topics which traditional Nutrition courses neglect. Since I’ve started there, I’ve been more and more aware of the dangers of pesticides on our food, pollutants and toxins in the air production and so have been trying very hard to eat mostly organic seasonal produce where possible. However,  as you know living in the modern world, sometimes this is just not possible and you may be forced to purchase foods which are not ‘perfect’, which can make one feel quite anxious.

indexOne great tool I have come across is the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” – which is basically, if you can’t afford organic ALL the time, there are certain foods you should only by organic to reduce risk of chemical contamination. Eating organic is the best way to eliminate the harmful effects of pesticides on the health of you and your family. Food that is grown without chemicals is the healthiest diet you can feed your body, and doing so can nourish your health and your soul.

Dirty Dozen = foods you should NOT eat unless organic
Apples
Celery
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Grapes
Hot Peppers
Imported nectarines
Peaches
Potatoes
Spinach
Strawberries
Sweet Ball Peppers
Kale/ Collard Greens
Summer Squash

Clean Fifteen – foods which have the least amount of pesticides used to create and sustain them.
Asparagus
Avocados
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Sweet corn
Eggplant
Grapefruit
Kiwi
Mangos
Mushrooms
Onions
Papaya
Pineapple
Sweet peas (frozen)
Sweet potatoes

Be aware of these Fruits and Veggies Treated with the MOST pesticides:
-HOT PEPPERS                    -LEAFY GREENS            – PEACHES              – CELERY          – CUCUMBERS          – APPLES                          -RASPBERRIES                    -GRAPES (IMP & LOCAL)    – STRAWBERRIES            – POTATOES            – PLUMS


Polenta Chips!

I’ve had these out at a restaurant before and they were so delicious and crunchy with a soft polenta middle, we decided to give them a try over the weekend. I love cooking tasty and healthy food for my family and friends but sometimes it’s nice to create nutritious foods which are a little bit of a treat, as well as easy to prepare for a larger group.

photoThis was super easy (and very inexpensive) and so I thought I would share with you here:

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, to grease pan
  • 2L (8 cups) organic vegetable stock (best if you can make your own and just pull out of the freezer the day before)
  • 1 x 500g pkt instant polenta
  • Approx 1 cup finely grated hard goats or sheeps cheese
  • Coconut oil (or EVOO if you prefer) to shallow-fry
  • Couple stalks of finely chopped fresh rosemary from the garden
  • Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Step 1: Brush baking pan with olive oil to lightly grease
Step 2: Bring the stock to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Use a whisk to stir the stock and gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until all the polenta is incorporated. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes or until mixture thickens and polenta is soft. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.
Step 3: Pour the polenta evenly over the bases of the prepared pans and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Cover with non-stick baking paper and set aside to cool. Place in the fridge for 4 hours (or freezer for 2 hours) to set.
Step 4: Turn polenta onto a clean work surface. Use a sharp knife to cut off the curved edges. Cut lengthways into 2cm strips. Cut each strip into 8cm-long pieces.
Step 5: Add some oil to a large saucepan and heat over high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 15 seconds). Add the chips gradually and shallow fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chips to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat, in 5 more batches, with the remaining polenta chips, reheating oil between batches.

I put mine in the oven while I waited for the others to cook. Then, sprinkled over the rosemary and sea salt and some more cheese. Delicious, easy for kids to make and a treat for the adults too! Enjoy 😉


Sauces and condiments

I was out with some friends yesterday who wondered how I ate the way I did without finding food boring. Before laughing at them, I got them to explain what they meant. They seemed to think food was tasteless without adding to it with sweet sauces and condiments. “How do you eat roast lamb without mint jelly” one cried, “what about a salad sandwich”, said another “you need a good chutney to make it taste ok”. “I just don’t get sugar free, what do you put on your porridge? It’s bland without sugar.”

There are so many responses to this, and to most of you reading, I would be preaching to the converted. What do you mean you can’t make food taste good without sugar? Seriously. There are so many amazing flavours that make a delicious meal, and once you discover fresh chilli, lemongrass, fresh herbs, nuts, oils, spices, coconut milk, vanilla pods, and you have a bit of creativity you can make anything taste good, and most importantly nourish your body!

I initially learnt to cook from my amazing mum and I’ve incorporated her understanding of how flavours work together with a bit of my own experimentation to create some delicious and flavoursome meals that everyone finds tasty. From poaching pears in the oven with coconut milk and cinnamon, to adding some goats cheese, capers and chilli to salmon, one just needs to think outside the square. I thought I’d share below my kale pesto which, can be made with any greens including silverbeet, basil or coriander, but this variation spices it up a bit and creates so many uses for it. With a piece of salmon for dinner, with an omelette for breakfast, or on a  gluten free cracker with some hard cheese for a afternoon snack. A really delicious condiment, that anyone can make in about 5 minutes and it can make even the most bland foods taste great!

 

kale pesto

Kale Pesto 

Blanch 4- 6 leaves of kale (Pull stalks off first). Put them into a blender or food processor with a good slug of a high quality EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), 2 whole peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of raw macadamia nuts, a handful of parsley from the garden and blend. Scrape from sides to make sure it is well mixed, and if required add more olive oil and blend again. Add in 1/4 cup of grated sheeps pecorino (or any other hard cheese variation if you are not dairy intolerant) and mix through. Easy! Will keep in the fridge for about a week or if you cover it with EVOO will last a bit longer. Can be frozen and added to omelettes, stir-frys or to some cream for a tasty pasta sauce.

Enjoy.

 

 

 


All things coconutty…

coconutI love coconuts. I love them whole as baby coconuts for their water. I love them as milk. I love them as coconut pieces slightly browned and added to yoghurt, or thrown in my porridge and into sugar free sweet treats, and I love using coconut oil in cooking.

I’ve had lots of people ask me about coconut oil more recently, specifically why it is ok for us to use. With so much education the wrong way for the past 30 years about fat being the enemy, we now know that sugar is the enemy and we need to un-learn the ‘anti-fat’ message (See my post here for more info https://mothernurture.me/2012/11/20/quitting-sugar-6-weeks-on/).

Coconut oil is full of saturated fat, the good stuff. Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” website is a plethora of info if you quit sugar, and recently posted an article on why the stuff is so good for you. I’ve re-posted it below, but you can find the full link here:

http://www.iquitsugar.com/faqs/why-is-coconut-oil-so-good-for-you/

Coconut oil is mostly made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. MCFAs are smaller than most fatty acids. They permeate cell membranes easily, and do not require special enzymes to be utilized effectively by your body. On top of that, MCFAs are easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system.

These factors, and more, imbue coconut oil with a bunch of unique health benefits:

It helps you lose weight

MCFAs are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. On top of this, MCFAs help stimulate your body’s metabolism, and increases the activity of the thyroid. MCFAs are transported directly to the liver, promoting “thermogenesis” which increases the body’s metabolism, leading to weight loss.

It curbs sugar cravings and energy slumps

Because MCFAs go straight to your liver to be used as energy, coconut oil is a source of instant energy to your body, much like when you eat simple carbohydrates. But although both carbs and coconut oil deliver quick energy to your body, the latter does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. The former does. This saves you from a slump, and is good news for anyone struggling with insulin and craving issues.

It’s the healthiest oil to cook with

Coconut oil has a super high smoke point, which means it can be cooked to high temperatures (fried etc) without becoming unstable and thus oxidising in the body. It’s also the only oil to remain stable enough while still helping to promote heart health, support weight loss and thyroid function. Use coconut oil instead of butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, or any other type of oil called for in recipes, particularly those requiring frying and high temperatures.

It’s anti-viral and anti-fungal

Fifty per cent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Interestingly, the only other place it can be found is in breast milk. Lauric acid is considered a “miracle” ingredient because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Coconut oil is also great for candida.  

It’s anti-inflammatory

There are many advantages to boosting your metabolic rate: your body’s healing process accelerates, cell regeneration increases to replace old cells, and your immune system functions better overall. When your immune system is functioning well, your body will be less inflamed. 

It’s REALLY good for thyroid issues

Coconut oil can also raise basal body temperatures while increasing metabolism. This is good news for people who suffer with low thyroid function. 

It’s great on your skin

Coconut oil, applied as a moisturizer, is absorbed into your skin and connective tissues, where it helps keep your connective tissues supple and strong, which helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and lines. Coconut oil on your skin also acts as an exfoliator for the outer layer of dead skin cells. Smooth!

See more here: http://www.iquitsugar.com/faqs/why-is-coconut-oil-so-good-for-you/

How do you like your coconut?!