Thursday, 4 June 2015

Nutty Coconut Porridge

Nutty Coconut Porridge with Raspberries

When winter kicks in, porridge is one of those comforting foods that warms me and keeps me satisfied for ages. I got to thinking though that I would like to devise a recipe that retains the creamy consistency and comforting nature of porridge, whilst reducing the carbs and adding some healthy fats and extra nutrients. I was amazed at how few oats were needed in this porridge to maintain the same texture. And it’s even yummier than standard porridge. Well that’s my opinion anyway. Try it and see what you think. Please don’t substitute the pecans for other nuts though as I think their flavor is integral to this recipes success.

Serves 2-3.

Suitable for:
Gluten free*, dairy free, soy free, sugar free, low fructose, egg free, vegetarian/vegan and carb conscious eaters.

Conscious content:

·      ¼ cup of non-contaminated Instant Oats*
·      cup of Desiccated Coconut
·      ½ cup of Ground Pecans (I use a coffee grinder)
·      ¼ cup of Slivered Almonds
·      270ml can of Coconut Cream (or coconut milk if you prefer)
·      Approximately ¼ cup of Almond Milk (or other milk)
·      2 teaspoons of Norbu/Natvia/Xylitol (or other sweetener of your choice)
·      Fruit for topping

The Creative Phase:

1.     Place oats and coconut cream in a saucepan and stir on low-medium heat for 1 minute.
2.     Add desiccated coconut, pecans, almonds and sweetener and continue stirring for another minute.
3.     Add almond milk gradually until you reach your desired consistency.
4.     Place porridge in a bowl and add your choice of fruit.  I personally love frozen raspberries warmed up or sliced banana with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Do oats contain gluten?

*There is major controversy around whether oats contain gluten. The consensus appears to be that non-contaminated oats (i.e. ones that have not been grown, processed or stored near gluten grains) are fine in small quantities for the vast majority of coeliacs. However, although oats do not contain the gluten that is in wheat, rye and barley, they do contain a protein called Avenin that a small number of coeliacs react to. It’s probably worth seeking advice about how to test if this is a problem for you if you are a coeliac. It’s also worth noting that they have discovered some oats cause more reactions than others, so find a brand that suits you and stick to it! If you do not have coeliac disease but you are gluten sensitive, you should be ok with oats if you buy them from a company which farms, processes and stores their oats away from gluten grains and tests for gluten content (but no guarantees; we’re all different). For those of us just trying to minimize gluten, but who have no obvious adverse reaction to it, normal oats are fine.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Fun Food Facts!

Morning Glory

The inspiration for this post comes from my Instagram page. Having seen Morning Glory on a menu and discovering that it is a tasty green leafy vegetable (also known as water spinach), I decided to see if anyone knew what it was. Getting an encouraging response from my lovely IG friends, I posted another couple of mystery pics, including hints.
Chilli (peppers)

It’s the hints (fun facts) that I want to expand on here. For example, on my Instagram photos I shared that birds can’t taste chilli (peppers) heat, otherwise they wouldn’t spread the seeds, and that mustard leaves are used to remove heavy metals from the soil.

Mustard Leaf

Want some more interesting fun food facts that you can impress your friends with in casual conversation? Then read on…

Did you know that: 

Scientists have turned peanut butter into diamonds. 

Yes, it’s true. Dan Frost and his colleagues in Germany are trying to understand the way diamonds are made deep in the earth’s core, as a means to comprehend how the earth was formed. It sounds like the peanut butter was a bit of a media stunt, but it still worked.

Coconut water has been used in emergency situations for intravenous hydration. 

I think I'd prefer to be in a hospital, but if you're stuck, coconut water has been used intravenously. Although some people claim it’s identical to human blood plasma, this is stretching the truth a little. Coconut water does however have a good balance of electrolytes, and makes a wonderful replacement for sugar filled sports drinks (that people somehow deceive themselves into believing are healthy).

Eating too many carrots can turn your skin orange. 

It’s called carotenemia (seriously), but unless you have an underlying illness causing the condition, it’s harmless. When my oldest son went through a stage of eating excessive numbers of carrots he did start looking a bit orange, but it reduced as he ate fewer carrots. Whilst we’re on the subject, did you know that carrots were originally purple (you can still find purple carrots if you look hard enough, but they’re in the minority).

Cacao beans were once used as a form of currency. 

We all love chocolate, but imagine using it instead of money! Well the Aztecs did. Although it was highly prized and used to barter with, it wasn’t until later that sugar was added. Now of course people are rediscovering the amazing health benefits of real raw cacao without the added nasties in regular chocolate bars. Advances in technology aren’t always really advances.

Peanuts aren’t actually nuts, and may harm your health. 

Peanuts are actually legumes. They are not grown on trees like real nuts, but in the ground. Unfortunately damp underground conditions are a perfect breeding ground for aflotoxins. Aflotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by certain fungi, which can grow on peanuts, and are harmful to humans. Other high-risk foods are corn and cottonseed. Although highly contaminated foods would be unlikely to be permitted in our food supply (and have been known to cause death), the problem lies in long-term exposure to low levels of carcinogenic aflotoxins. I know peanut butter is one of those comfort foods you may think you can’t live without, but there are plenty of other delicious nut butters to choose from ☺

Grass fed beef has a far superior fatty acid profile to grain fed beef. 

I don’t eat beef, but if you do, it’s best to know what you’re eating. As we intensively farm animals and feed them foods they were not designed to eat, it is of course going to change not only the quality of the animals’ lives, but also your health. Grass fed beef has higher omega 3 levels, a healthier omega 3:6 ratio and a lower overall fat content. It’s also higher in precursors for vitamin A and E, as well as beneficial antioxidants. Cows are after all meant to eat grass, not grains. So if you are going to eat meat, please do yourself and the cows a favour and buy free-range organic grass fed beef.

 May you be full of beans and fun food facts,


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Yummy Yong Green Food

It’s not often that you find a place to eat where the food really nourishes you. Where you know that care has been taken not just to feed you and take your money, but to really think about what goes into the dishes, and how they affect your health. Yong Green food uses organic produce from local suppliers wherever possible, donates to charity, offsets carbon emissions and uses only filtered water. 

Stir-fried Rice with Kimchi

Their menu is varied and includes everything from light raw options to hearty hot pots and curry. It is predominantly vegan and gluten free, as well as offering meals without onion and garlic.
Given the quality of food, the prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is bustling and vibrant, and the staff is friendly and efficient. 

Brown Rice Tea

My favourite meal, which I return to time after time, is the vegan, gluten free Macro Dragon Bowl. It consists of biodynamic brown rice, leafy greens and other vegetables, tempeh, seaweed and probiotic lemon tahini sauce (the ideal topping). It is served with housemade chickpea miso soup and is so healthy and satisfying that I love it even more every time I eat it. 

Macro Dragon Bowl

Also high on my list of favourites, and good to share, is the raw cheese platter. The herbed garlic cashew cheese is creamy and delicious, and goes perfectly with the nut bread, tamari almonds, olives and balsamic figs. Need I say more! 

Raw Cheese Platter

Well, I will say one more thing; if you want to really treat yourself, don’t go past the caramel slice. How can this raw, organic, vegan, gluten free treat be so utterly amazing? There must be a magic fairy living in the kitchen is all I can say.

Caramel Slice

May you be full of Yong’s beans,

Yong Green Food on Urbanspoon


Monday, 16 February 2015

Chocolate Pomegranate Buckini Bites.

Makes: 12

Suitable for:

Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free, low fructose, egg free, nut free, paleo, vegetarian and vegan people, raw foodists and followers of the Feingold (low salicylate) diet.

Conscious Content:

Pomegranate Layer
·      2 Tbs Pomegranate Powder
·      3 Tbs Coconut Oil
·      2 Tbs Rice Malt Syrup
·      4 Tbs Desiccated Coconut
·      4 Tbs Plain Buckinis
·      10 drops Stevia

Chocolate Layer
·      2 Tbs Raw Cacao Powder
·      2 Tbs Xylitol (or sweetener of choice)
·      2 Tbs Cacao Butter
·      2 Tbs Coconut Paste

The Creative Phase:

1.     If it is summer the coconut oil will be a clear liquid. If it is not already melted or close to liquid you will need to melt it (to make it raw, sit the coconut oil in a bowl and place it on top of a larger bowl containing very hot water).
2.    Mix wet and dry pomegranate layer ingredients separately, then combine.
3.    Divide pomegranate mixture evenly into a 12 piece muffin tray (each hole should be about 4.5 cm across). Push mixture down firmly until flat and dense.
4.    Refrigerate Pomegranate mixture whilst making chocolate.
5.    Melt the cacao butter (to make it raw, sit the cacao butter in a bowl and place it on top of a larger bowl containing very hot water).
6.    Combine chocolate layer ingredients. In summer if the oil from the coconut paste has separated, make sure you use the paste below or combine well first.
7.     Dividing chocolate mixture evenly, spoon it on top of the pomegranate mixture until totally covering the pomegranate layer, and return to the fridge.
8.    When chocolate hardens, pop out the bites and enjoy their chewy, crunchy goodness.

The Ingredient Low Down.
These ingredients are not only tasty, but packed with health benefits.

Pomegranate Powder: Full of beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals (especially potassium and vitamin C among others), pomegranate powder is one of those awesome tasting and versatile superfoods that are great to add to your diet in a variety of ways. I use the Navitas Natural brand, which you can order on iherb if you can’t find it in the shops.

Coconut (desiccated, oil, and paste): Don’t get me started! I’ve written three blog posts on the miraculous coconut, so I obviously think it’s absolutely incredible. It’s contains the ‘good’ type of fat, so enjoy.

Raw Cacao: Ok, so you know how every now and then you hear people say chocolate is good for you, to justify their Tim Tam craving? Well of course there is some truth to this, it’s just that good quality raw dark chocolate and the junk full of refined sugar, dairy and artificial gunk are like chalk and cheese. The healthy bit is the raw cacao bean, which when separated makes cacao powder and cacao butter.  Raw cacao has extremely high levels of antioxidants, fiber, a wide range of minerals such as magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc and copper, as well as vitamin C and essential omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains PEAs (the love chemicals), anandamide (a feel good endorphin), as well as tryptophan and serotonin (mood enhancing nutrients), so it’s no wonder people love chocolate! Once heated though, the fats in cacao become rancid and the nutrients are damaged. So eat your chocolate raw my friends.

Buckinis: As with my coconut and cacao products, I use Loving Earth Buckinis. These crunchy little gems are actually gluten free seeds, and have no relation to wheat at all. They are activated (soaked, washed, rinsed and dehydrated at low temperatures), which improves digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Sweeteners (rice syrup, stevia and xylitol): I have used a variety of sweeteners in this recipe for a reason. I needed some type of sticky syrup to hold my pomegranate layer together, and in my opinion brown rice syrup is the healthiest option, predominantly because it is fructose free and low in salicylates. However, it is still essentially sugar and should be eaten in moderation. By adding some stevia it meant that I did not have to use too much syrup to get the right amount of sweetness. Stevia is probably the healthiest sweetener, but I find it’s taste not as pleasant unless combined with another sweet ingredient, so with the rice syrup it’s perfect. I used xylitol in the chocolate layer because it is one of my favourite sugar replacements. It is derived from either birch trees (my preferred option) or corn, and is low GI, contains less calories than sugar, does not feed candida in the gut, and fights tooth decay. The only thing to be aware of is that it is not good for those with IBS or people on the FODMAPS diet.  Feel free to replace it with another sweetener if you prefer.

I wish you much enjoyment making and eating these yummy bites. My 6 year old son Ethan, one of the world’s fussiest sweet treat connoisseurs, has given them his tick of approval, and I hope you do too.

May you be full of beans and healthy treats,