Avocado, Tomato & Cheddar Salad

As I’ve said before, salads are the quickest, easiest way to pack a wide variety of nutrients into one meal (see my ‘How To’ post, https://foodfervour.com/2015/12/01/the-quickest-easiest-nutrient-dense-meal/) and since it’s so humid today, I’m feeling lazier than usual. So salad for lunch it is. Cutting board, check. Knife, check. Bowl, check.

Food FervourCraving some cheese, (I’ve started buying vintage cheddars because I love the sharp saltiness of aged ‘tasties’) I decided to run with a traditional popular combo, cheese ‘n’ tomato. And since avocado is so good for you, as well as complementing both of these foods, it had to feature prominently too.

So, starting with a handful of watercress (you could use any green leaf you like) half a lebanese cucumber, quarter of a red capsicum, half a large avocado and 6 baby roma (or cherry) tomatoes, I roughly chopped them all ….chewing on a stick of celery at the same time… before gently tossing them in the bowl. Slicing about 40gms of vintage cheddar from the block, I used the wide-grater (see the photo) to ‘shave’ the cheese then, adding it to the bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and a dash of apple cider vinegar, I tossed the lot together with a little more gusto. A dash of ground black pepper and Himalayan salt and I was ready to dig in.

For something so simple, it’s a rich mix of flavour and texture: creamy, salty, moist and sweet all at once. But best of all, is it’s wonderfully filling thanks to the high fibre and healthy fat content.

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Bulletproof Turmeric

You’re probably thinking “What the..?” But I didn’t know what else to call this amazing warm bevvy. It’s possibly an acquired taste, but given it is loaded to the hilt with health-giving properties, I’ve fallen in love with it…

Food FervourMost people know by now how good turmeric is for you. It’s classified as a “Superfood” (if there is such a thing) because its active ingredient, curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant and has highly effective anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve often wondered how to get more of it into my diet …without having to eat curries …daily. This drink is my answer.

I’ve seen many references to hot turmeric drink recipes, but most of them involve milk of some kind (which kind of stands to reason if they happen to be named ‘Golden Milk’). Now, whilst I don’t have an issue with milk per se, I definitely find heating water much quicker, easier & cleaner than heating milk. (And what the heck; there’s also the calorie argument if it really matters to you!)

So when I read the recipe for ‘Turmeric Tea’ on Russell James’ website the Raw Chef I was keen to try it, and then I realised its similarity to the Bulletproof coffee phenomenon: black coffee blended with ‘healthy’ fat is supposed to increase satiety, reduce caffeine reactions (like jitters) and improve mental clarity. But when I tried it, I just liked the way it made the coffee creamy. And this is pretty much what happens in this drink. But the oil also, more importantly, aids in the absorption of the star ingredient, as curcumin is fat soluble.

So vegans, lactose-intolerants and lazy people rejoice: this is a super-easy, delicious, caffeine-free health-giving concoction! Just a few words of warning, however: turmeric stains. I haven’t really had a huge issue with this (maybe I’m lucky) but be prepared for some yellowing of your equipment. Secondly, and more importantly, blending warm or hot liquids can be dangerous. Never use boiling water in an airtight blender: pressure build up can cause serious injury. Thermomixes are designed to handle this kind of use so they are the best option. Hand-held (stick) blenders obviously allow airflow, but I’m not sure how effective they will be for the entire process (the first step involves pulverising the turmeric). I have made the tea successfully in my Magic Bullet, but I ensured the water temperature was below 70º and opened the container slowly (there was still the hiss of a pressure release). Whatever you opt for, please take care.

Food FervourYou only need five ingredients for this brilliant beverage: water, turmeric, coconut oil, honey or maple and black pepper (apparently a substance in this called ‘piperine’ aids curcumin absorption by 2000% Reference: Authority Nutrition)

1 cup hot water (I used ½ cup boiling water + ½ room temp, but vary according to your blender option)

1 finger fresh turmeric, (approx 4-5cm long) peeled and roughly chopped (apparently ½ teaspoon of powdered turmeric is an acceptable substitute but I’d urge you to avoid processed foods where possible!)

1-2 teaspoons honey (or maple syrup for vegans)

1 tablespoon coconut oil (my aim is to try butter and even macadamia oil myself, in future. Let me know if you do and how it goes!)

a good pinch of black pepper

and perhaps ground cinnamon for dusting

Simply add the turmeric to the hot water and blend at high speed for approximately one minute. If you’re particular about ‘bits’ in the bottom of your cup, you could strain the fluid through a fine sieve (like a tea strainer or infuser) but I actually didn’t find there was much left …so save on your washing up and just consume the ‘wholefood’.

Add the honey, oil, pepper and wazz it up again for anywhere between 15-30 seconds. Pour into your teacup or mug immediately and watch the ‘froth’ form as you dust with cinnamon. Enjoy every golden sip.

 

 

A Probiotic Toastie?

Since fermenting is now the latest thing in nutrition (to support and/or feed our gut bacteria which play possibly the mightiest role in our overall health) I have tried my hand at making sauerkraut, so that I have at least one natural, clean, ready-to-eat probiotic in my fridge…besides yoghurt, of course. Sauerkraut seemed like the easiest place for a Fermentation Beginner to start. “Probiotics 101”?

My first batch kind of failed, but my second attempt was a success. The question then became what to do with it. How do you eat it? I mean, how is it incorporated it into meals? After just eating it by the spoonful from the jar for awhile (hey, I don’t have to share with anyone so it’s ok!) I discovered it paired well with avocado: its salty tang, moisture and crunchiness compliments avo’s smooth, bland texture. I later realised that I could make a very quick, very simple tasty meal with some nutritional diversity, by adding in some ‘ever-ready-to-eat’ sprouted lentils I have stored in the fridge (no dressing required, thanks to the sauerkraut).food fervour

But today, I wanted something different; something a little more complex and filling. So I went hunting on the net, and came across a few recipes for ‘Reubens’: American-style sandwiches which usually include some kind of cured meat, like pastrami or corned beef. But then I found this vegetarian one: Vegetarian Reubens with Russian Dressing and it looked like something worth adapting.

Since I like to save time & effort (read: lazy!) I went without the dressing, adding avocado instead. It’s a surprisingly quick, warm nutrient-dense meal.

I quickly sautéed the mushrooms with chopped shallots, in coconut oil, pepper & salt, then added the baby spinach, stir-frying until it wilted. Removing that from the pan, I added some more coconut oil and lay my two pieces of gluten free bread, with the avocado already mashed on top, down to “fry-toast”.

A couple of minutes later the grill was warm enough, so I transferred my bread & avocado to the grill, then heaped the mushroom-spinach mix on top of one slice and my sauerkraut over the other, before laying slices of beautiful Nimbin Natural Tasty cheese over the top of both stacks. In less than a minute in my fast, hot grill, the cheese had melted beautifully so all I had left to do was press the two toasties together and transfer to a plate before devouring.food fervour

Now there’s a meal and a half, packed with nutrients, protein, fibre, good fats and of course ….wicked, gut-loving pro-biotics. 😉

 

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!

Turmeric Egg on Toast

I just rushed in from a resistance training session, and had to rush out again in minutes, so how was I going to re-fuel? Since it’s winter here, I’m loathe to make a protein smoothie in my Thermomix because it’ll chill me from within.

The quickest, warmest, high protein, healthy fats replacement is a boiled egg on toast. I boiled the jug ala Jamie Oliver style, popped the egg and water in a small saucepan and let the stovetop catch up while I pulled out an avocado and the frozen (gluten free) bread slice ….when I saw it. The frozen Turmeric bulb. How would that go with egg? Turns out: ….brilliantly.food fervour

I smashed half an avocado on the toast, spread the egg over the top, then finely grated turmeric over all of that. With some Himalayan salt (I love salty eggs) & the slimmest drizzle of olive oil, it tasted DIVINE. And I just upped the nutrient density and anti-inflammatory properties of my post-training fuel, with minimal effort.

Up there for thinkin’, down there for dancin’!