Apple, Mint & Watercress Coconut Lassi

Glancing at my herb pots as I walked in from yoga this afternoon, I noticed how well my watercress was doing. So well that it looked like it might be beginning to suffocate my curly parsley. That’s not ideal. My mint has bounced back again too (it is temperamental sometimes) and I was suddenly struck by wonder: do watercress and mint go well together? Surely they do?

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The apple & melon lassi from one of my recipe books

Watercress, as I have mentioned before (in a previous post, see here) has been recently crowned the most nutrent-dense plant food, so I am pretty keen on getting it into mah belly as much as possible …and away from my poor parsley plant. Mint is a renowned ant-acid. And both herbs have a fiery ‘freshness’ about them.

Since I wasn’t overly hungry, I decided a drink was all I needed right now and my train of thought led me from the usual option – a smoothie – to the memory of a particular recipe I knew I had somewhere in one of my books. ‘Apple’ and ‘mint’ were swimming around my head while I checked recipe book indexes. Then I found it. A Lassi.

So I set about re-creating the apple & melon lassi recipe with my own, preferred ingredients and was totally chuffed with the result.

For one large serving, you’ll need 1 peeled, cored, chopped apple (you could keep the skin on if organic, as long as your blender is high-powered enough to break it down) 1 banana (mine was frozen) a handful of mint leaves, a handful of watercress leaves, approx 60gm of coconut cream and 200gm coconut water. (NB: fluid measures in grams because I use a Thermomix.)

food fervourSimply throw everything in and blend until smooth. (Thermies: 1½ minutes at Speed 9) It is so refreshing!

Besides your run-of-the-mill mint variety, I also have some chocolate mint growing in the same pot so included that in my ‘handful’. You could vary the concentrations of coconut cream & water to alter thickness, but I think the more cream you use, the less intense the apple & herbs flavours may be. I have considered how a nip of vodka or apple schnapps might alter the creation, but I know the truth is, it would most likely negate all the nutritional benefits of the greens…!

 

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Nutrient Dense Porridge

Let me start out by saying my motivation for this post was not the great breakfast I just had. It was the thought behind it; my general philosophy about food. If we are meant to be eating less (portion control) how are we meant to get all the nutrients in? By thinking. And being creative. Yes, you need a little education, but it’s really NOT hard. Here’s my example…

I’m not necessarily a porridge fan. I have found I usually digest it too quickly and can feel hungry again within 3 hours. This I put down to the fact that in cooking the oats, I’m removing some of the workload that my digestive system would otherwise be lumbered with, in breaking down the food. Now, in Winter it gets pretty hard chowing down on my usual bircher brekky: eating or drinking cold makes me cold from the inside, so I turn back to porridge (it’s the quickest thing to make before I start work, especially in the Thermomix). The question is, how to make it last longer?

Simple: add protein and/or healthy fats and/or fibre. Most of us know – or have surely heard by now – that fibre, protein & fats are satiating. Fibre & protein usually because of their ‘complexity’, fats because of their density. So my go-to porridge recipe is now a mix of oats and protein rich quinoa flakes & chia seeds, with whatever milk I’m feeling on the day. It has made a huge difference.

So my point is: get a little educated & be creative. Learn something about REAL foods and the nutrients they contain, especially those with the highest quantities (this is why I believe vegetables should be the base of the Food Pyramid: no other food group contains same the array & density as this plant matter) and it will be easy to find ways to slot them into your meals without having to eat them in ‘excess’. (And for the record, even though I don’t throw the word into my recipes, ‘organic’ choices are definitely first option.)food fervour

So with that, here’s the recipe for a (sizeable) single serve of this morning’s apple cinnamon & chia porridge:

½ grated apple, 35gm oats, 5-10gms quinoa flakes, 5gms (1 head teaspoon chia) seeds, 90gm water, 150gm milk of choice (today I used almond) 1 teaspoon cinnamon, coconut sugar to taste.

Stovetop cooks place apple, oats, quinoa & chia, water & milk into saucepan over a medium-low heat, reducing to simmer as the mixture begins to bubble. you’ll need to stir continuously. I honestly have forgotten how long it takes to make porridge on the stove top, but I would think it would be about 8-10 minutes, similar to the Thermomix cooking time.

Thermomixers you can ‘grate’ your apple in the bowl for 5 secs speed 5, or Turbo a couple of times. Then add the oats, quinoa, chia, water & milk, cooking for 8 mins, 90ºC reverse speed 2.

Serve immediately, stirring through the cinnamon with any extra milk you may or may not like to add and top with coconut sugar to taste *not TOO much*!

Coeliacs would evidently replace oats altogether, using 40-45gm quinoa flakes however since quinoa (& especially chia) will require more fluid you may need to almost double the fluid quantities. Stove-top cooks will be able to gauge the mixture thickening, Thermomix users won’t. Trial & error. That’s what it’s all about!

Deconstructed Apple Crumble

I have to admit I became a little distracted in my yoga class this afternoon. Somehow apples popped into my head (go figure?!) and my Samadhi was lost; the ‘Train of Thought’ left the station and a Craving was born. I was mulling over ideas for a warm apple dessert, but I knew an apple pie was out of the question. Waaaay too much time and effort.

So when I got home I looked up apple recipes in the Thermomix Recipe search engine, knowing that I was really looking for something ‘apple-crumble-ish’, to make it quick (minimal time between making and eating) but I realised they all still required oven baking. Pshhh!

So I decided to go with a ‘deconstruction’. As long as it was warm, I didn’t care.food fervour

For a single serve, one apple is plenty. I chopped it up roughly and threw it in the Thermie for a quick ‘Turbo’ smash-up (keeping the skin on – the more fibre the better!) then added about 10gms of water and set it to ‘stew’ for 3 minutes, 70ºC, Reverse Speed 2.

I popped the stewed apple straight into my serving dish (Thermie owners could put it in their Thermoservers to keep VERY warm, if you could be bothered to wash another item) showering it with ground cinnamon, then put 50gms walnuts in the bowl and chopped for about 6 seconds on speed 5-6. Adding 30gms coconut oil, 5-10gms coconut sugar and roughly a tablespoon (5gms) of psyllium husk I set it to cook for 2 minutes at 100ºC, Reverse Speed 2.

Scooping it straight into the dish with the apple, I poured in some fresh cream, garnishing with shredded coconut, then mixed it all up before taking the first spoonful. SO yummy. SO quick. SO satisfying. Instant gratification!

Dessert for Breakfast

So there’s this Thermomix recipe that I’m in love with. It’s classed as a ‘breakfast’ dish, but to my mind, it’s TOO luscious and (here comes the Health Nazi) not really packed full enough of nutrients to constitute an everyday healthy meal. (I’ll talk about my typical breakfast choice another time.)

But it’s Sunday. And while I am waiting for my first attempt a gluten free fruit loaf to cook, I have to put something in the belly.

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The first time I made CADA I fell in love with it

CADA stands for Coconut, Apple, Date & Almond. It’s incredibly simple. You throw all of these ingredients in and Turbo a few times. Voila! The recipe asks for coconut flesh which personally I never have on hand, so my version replaces it with shredded coconut after the mix hits the serving dish. Then I add cinnamon and thick greek yoghurt and I swear it’straws just like eating apple pie with cream. Or apple crumble. Kind of.

food fervourToday I dropped the coconut in favour of some strawberries. For this single serve, I used ½ a green apple, approx 30gms (6-8) dates, 35gm roasted almonds and a handful of fresh strawberries. I’d recommend (Thermie user or not) you blast the almonds, dates and apple first then add the strawberries for the final ‘wazz’ since they’re too soft to withstand a heavy beating. Topped with 2 substantial dessertspoons of Greek yoghurt and about a teaspoon of coconut sugar, it was to die for! Next stop will be the blueberry version….

Walnut, Apple & Cinnamon Coconut Balls

I’ve got a few organic green apples building up in my fridge and since I promised the Manager of Eden Health Retreat (where I work as a Fitness Therapist) a treat this week, I’ve put on my creative thinking cap. Apple goes so well with Cinnamon, yes? And Walnuts. Even though they aren’t the most appealing nuts in the taste department (unlike roasted almonds or cashews!) they are PACKED with goodness. So if you’re not a fan, maybe these morsels will help you to ingest them. You really should try to use organic apples as well, since they absorb more chemical residue (from pesticides, fertilisers etc) than many other fresh foods. Every year the Environmental Working Group (US) releases a list of the top 12 (“The Dirty Dozen”) foods to avoid if grown conventionally and apples seem to always appear near the top of the list. Here’s a link to the current list and the EWG site if you want to take a look: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

It’s been a long time since I have made ‘balls’. I went through my obsession with them about 6 or 7 years ago when I first delved into the Raw Food arena, but found them a little time consuming and messy to make, all up. Yes, not a great advertisement I realise, but I “gots ta be” honest! Even with the Thermomix, it’s the rolling out and coating of the little suckers that chews up your time…and dirties your hands.Food Fervour

Nonetheless, I had an idea (and some time) yesterday, so I was going to test it out. Lucky for me, it worked. Well, the boss-man hasn’t had his share yet, but my physio and some of my private training clients have given them the thumbs up! (See, training with me doesn’t involve suggestive purchase of protein/nutrtional supplements or products…. my clients get to be guinea pigs for my whole, clean food experiments!) Warning: they won’t be really sweet, but if you use a sweeter variety of apple it could suffice. As a LAST RESORT, if you HAVE to add sugar (wusses!) I think coconut sugar would be your best option.

Basically you will need:

1 cup (130gm) dates, 1 cup (250gm) water, 1 apple, 1½ cups (150gm) walnuts, 2-3 heaped tspns ground cinnamon, 1 cup (60gms) desiccated coconut (extra for rolling), 3-4 teaspoons chia seeds.

Soak the dates in the water for at least an hour, then drain as well as possible, pressing out excess fluid out (I told you your hands would get dirty!) Place roughly chopped apple (skin ON, for nutrient density & fibre – unless it’s not organic & you are justifiably concerned) in a high-powered blender (Thermomixers, you know it!) until finely chopped. This will invariably involve a few stop-starts as you’ll need to scrape down the sides of the blender. Set the apple aside, rinsing & drying the blender as well as possible so that you can ‘pulverise’ (or not: sometimes chunks are good!) the walnuts. (Thermies: 5-10 secs, speed 7ish) Add the cinnamon, dates, apple, coconut and chia seeds, then blend and scrape until you feel the mixture is well enough combined.

Now, the messy part: pop some extra desiccated coconut on a large (dinner) plate and …..go wash your hands again! To make sure the balls are really ‘compact’ I palm roll them first, then roll in the coconut, and palm roll them again. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

My Newest ‘Go-To’ Salad

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I can thank my Thermomix for bringing raw beetroot back into my life: it was too laborious (not to mention messy) grating it for salads in the past, so I’d gotten into the habit of roasting it. But that takes a lot more time & therefore effort to happen.
Those with Thermies will know this recipe well, but for those who don’t, it’s really pretty simple: you’ll just have to use a little elbow grease in the chopping process.
One beetroot, half an apple, one carrot and some red onion, finely chopped and mounded atop a bed of rocket. Drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil, and sprinkle with as much feta as you like.
On this occasion, I’ve made a true meal of it by adding some plain grilled chicken tenderloins (organic of course).
Sensational!