Coconut Chia Dairy Alternative

Breakfast on this fine Sunday morning has been both easy & decadent in the same breath. How good does this look?food fervour

While contemplating cooking a hot Sunday breakfast, I came across a container of soaked chia seeds I had forgotten I’d prepped earlier in the week. Bang! Instant gratification.

I could forget about the frypan or Thermomix now: I had organic blueberries & strawberries, banana and the ultimate (rare) decadence – some fresh cream. (Clearly I’M not vegan, but I sometimes prefer vegan meals…) That’s all it took to make my brekky. Minimal dish washing means more time to hang out my linen and wash my car. Yay :/

Had I not had the chia prepared, this breakfast wouldn’t’ve happened. Well, nowhere near as ‘instantly’. This is a perfect example of how a little bit of preparation can help you avoid “poor food choices” when you’re in a hurry, or simply just too impatient (“Need food NOW!”).

Chia seeds soaked in coconut cream (or milk) make a perfect vegan alternative to yoghurt or cream. And it’s ridiculously simple. The ratio is usually about 1 part chia seeds to 3 or 4 parts liquid, depending upon how ‘solid’ you like your yoghurts/creams. It’s as simple as mixing them together in a container (I always use glass) sealing and refrigerating for perhaps half an hour (or 2-3 days…how hungry are ya?!) Bob’s your Uncle.

The calcium, protein, Omegas in chia seeds make this just as good, if not better than the dairy alternatives. You can also play with this basic concoction in numerous ways, adding spices (vanilla, cinnamon for example) cacao and added natural sweeteners (if you HAVE to!) For more ideas Google ‘Chia Pudding’ and you’ll find a whole host of recipes.

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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!

Gluten Free Fruit & Seed Loaf

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Raisin toast is loaded with sugar so I need to create a GF version minus excessive added sugar…

I used to have a real weakness for fruit toast. But I knew before I went off gluten that fruit loaves are full of sugar so I began limiting my ‘splurges’ anyway.

But I do miss ‘raisin toast’ from time to time, so my quest is to try to create a gluten free version that’s as similar to the ‘real thing’ as possible, minus the excess sugar of course. Trial and error is the only way, with the aid of heaps of research – Googling & others’ blogs! – and the courage to ‘alter’ (or ‘bastardise’ as I like to say) recipes. That kind of courage I definitely do not lack.

The loaf I just made was the result of an adaptation of Cyndi O’Meara’s gluten free bread recipe included a couple of Thermomix recipe books. I altered the dry ingredients a fair bit (due to both lack of some & preference for others), added a selection of spices, seeds, preservative-free dried fruits (these worked to sweeten the loaf more than the meagre amount of coconut sugar I opted for) and the kicker: I replaced xanthan gum & egg with soaked chia. I’d discovered this idea on a blog somewhere recently and then saw it used in a complimentary recipe on the Thermomix website.

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served up warm with my homemade butter

So… it turned out heavier than your typical commercial wheaten fruit loaf, but toasted up, I think it made the grade: particularly considering the vast majority of ingredients I used were unprocessed, which as far as I’m concerned is the most important thing.

If you don’t have a Thermomix the recipe should still work (you’ll have to buy your flours pre-milled) but will involve a lot more elbow grease in the mixing stages! Here’s what I used this time around:

2 tbspn chia seeds, 8 tbspn water, 280gm whole buckwheat, 100gm brown rice, 40gm dried chickpeas, 1 heaped tspn whole cloves, 35gm cornflour, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1 tspn nutmeg, 1 tspn garam masala, 10gm instant yeast, pinch (Himalayan) salt, 20gm coconut sugar, 400gm lukewarm water, 30 gm macadamia oil, 1 tspn vanilla essence, 1 tbspn apple cider vinegar, 80gm chopped dates, 80gm sun raisins, 45gm pumpkin seeds (pepitas), 40gm sunflower seeds.

Firstly I put the chia seeds and 8 tbspn water in a jar, shook it up and left it to ‘absorb’ while milling the buckwheat, brown rice, chickpeas & cloves in the Thermomix (1 minute, Speed 9). I added the remaining dry ingredients (cornflour, the powdered spices, yeast, salt & coconut sugar) and mixed lightly (15-20 seconds, Speed 4-5) before adding the water, oil, vanilla, vinegar and chia seed gel for another 15-20 seconds on Speed 5-6. I finally added the dried fruit & seeds, mixing gently on Reverse, Speed 1-2 for 20-30 seconds (to be honest, I can’t recall how long). Ready to empty the ‘batter’ into my greased & lined loaf tin, I placed it directly into the cold oven so it could ‘prove’ for the 15-20 minutes it takes to heat up to 180º. (The appliance in my rental home is ‘ancient’ & even though it is fan-forced, it’s pretty ‘slow’.) So from go to whoa, it should take about an hour: 20 minutes proving + 40 minutes cooking @ 180ºC.

Don’t expect a sweet cake-loaf: as I said earlier the meagre amount of coconut sugar is literally swamped by the other ingredients. So much so that the next time I cook this (or something similar) I’ll leave it out altogether and simply up the dried fruit content. Oh and nuts, I’ll definitely add chopped nuts. I’ve also read that the longer the dough (in this case ‘batter’) proves the better, so next time I might let it sit for longer before turning the oven on… I’m not sure if this applies to heavy gluten-free-grain-and-seed-floured doughs but if someone out there knows, please speak up!

 

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.