Lychee, Lime & Mint Water

I’ve noticed that Fruit Water is starting to trend a little more now… and I mean fruit water beyond just lemon or lime or mint floating around in your glass: large jugs or urns with anything from cucumber to peach or mango flesh lolling around the bottom. This is meant to impart a tinge of flavour to make water consumption more tolerable to those who just don’t like drinking it.

I have no problem drinking water at all, but lately I’ve begun saving the water used when I’ve steamed veggies (knowing that some of the nutrients lost from the vegetables in the cooking process end up in the water) …and it’s not really enjoyable to drink straight. The I Quit Sugar gang suggest saving and using it in your smoothies. That’s a fantastic idea, but… I don’t consume smoothies often enough to use up all the water within a few days. So I needed to conceptualise some way to use larger quantities of the water in a single serve.

It wasn’t a complex idea, combining the ‘whole-fruit-in-water’ concept with the ‘nutrient-dense-steamed-water-for-smoothies’ notion, but I didn’t know if it would work. I mean, would it actually taste nice? There was obviously only one way to find out…

Food FervourMy first attempt involved fresh blueberries. And it shocked the pants off me. (Not literally.) It was delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t note the quantities, but I do recall using a decent handful of blueberries and perhaps 1-1½ cups of cold (veggie) water. And it really was this simple:

Water + whole fruit → blended = natural cordial.

Naturally this may only work with certain kinds of fruit …especially when you are already using steamed vegetable flavoured water… fruits that are naturally sweet and easily blended. For example, oranges may be too tart and fibrous – unless you can be bothered to remove the membrane and seeds from each segment…

Lychees are a naturally sweet and juicy fruit and I happened to have a bunch of them in the fridge. But because they’re also subtle in flavour, I thought I’d better add something else, to ensure I’d disguise the water’s taste. Since lime (like lemon) is well known to help intensify flavours (of other foods, besides themselves!) and I happened to have half a lime in the fridge, I opted for that and, in case that wasn’t enough, I added mint as well: another strong flavour and perfect compliment to both lychees and lime (…and very Asian…)Food Fervour

So for my single serve, this is what I used: 300mls water, the flesh of 6 lychees, a hand-squeeze of fresh lime, 10 or so mint leaves, 6-8 ice cubes.

Blend simply for as long as you wish, and serve immediately.

It’s a light, very refreshing bevvy, perfect for hot days like those we’ve been experiencing lately on the Gold Coast (…gotta love summer!) but just remember that unlike pure water, this beverage contains calories, so despite it being a far better option than juice, cordial or soft drink, it wouldn’t be such a great idea to chug down gallons of it on a daily basis either. Treat it as… a treat! Enjoy …and let me know what other fruit works if you feel adventurous!

 

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The Hardcore Green

I’ve mentioned quite a few times how great watercress is for you: it’s the most nutrient-dense plant food you can get. Yes, it beats kale and spinach.

Unlike spinach however, watercress (and kale for that matter) don’t rate highly on a palatability scale. Well, not mine anyway. But I will give watercress the time of day because of its nutrient status.

So finding things to do with it is pretty difficult. It’s quite peppery so you usually wouldn’t want to use much. Food FervourA little in salads, sometimes soups, but I usually always revert to smoothies. They’re easy, and I can tolerate a larger ‘dose’ …Sorry, I’m really making it sound like medicine, huh? But according to Hippocrates it is, so give me this over a pill anyday…

Today however, I went overboard. I’ll blame the seller at the farmer’s market: the bunch of watercress I got for just $2.50 was so huge I wasn’t able to fit it in my fridge. I typically resolve this kind of issue by using some immediately. Hello, breakfast!

Food FervourThe problem was I had to chop one helluva lot off it to fit it in the placcy bag, in the fridge …see the pic: that’s the ‘handful’ in relation to my not-too-small (2 litre) Thermomix. If you are going to give this smoothie a go, I’d suggest you halve what I used. Unless you’re Hardcore. Like me. (Pffft!)

Simply blend a handful of watercress with the flesh of one mango, 200-300gm fresh pineapple (more or less, to taste: this is fruit that best ‘tempers’ the watercress) and 200mls of cold or coconut water. (Thermies, I blended it on speed 9 for 1 minute). Fresh mint may help to somewhat disguise the fiery watercress and will complement the tropical fruits as well.Food Fervour

Check out the rich green of my ‘hardcore’ (OD) watercress smoothie. Pretty colour but talk about a fire in my (throat and) belly!

Asparagus & Sprouted Lentils with Avocado Sauerkraut Mash

The key to healthy eating is experimentation. Really, it’s not that hard, with the bottomless supply of information available at your fingertips on the net. I reckon I search for recipes (food ideas) pretty much every day of the week.

Today’s lunch was no exception. I checked out what I had in the fridge – paying particular attention to the veggies that needed to be used up first – and dived right into Google (the best thing since sliced bread….if you want to call that the best thing…)

Asparagus and sprouted lentils were first up. I found an appealing recipe (5th from the top of the first results page). But my (OCD!?) desire for nutrient density meant I had to search further. So I entered avocado & sauerkraut (just getting into sauerkraut for the first time in my life, so am kind of at a loss as to what to do with it) and found this interesting little recipe…

Envisaging how the two separate dishes may just compliment each other, I set to work, and produced this:food fervour

So, what’s in it? And in particular, what the hell is that stuff on top? It kinda looks like refried-beans-but-not? It’s actually avocado & sauerkraut.

I found the Sprouted Lentils with Asparagus recipe here, on the blog ‘My Own Private Kitchen’ and I altered very little: apart from the amounts (I’m ONE person) I omitted the basil, lemon juice, salt & pepper and I cooked in coconut oil instead. Oh yeah… and a lazy thing: I caramelised the onions in my Thermomix, per a recipe in Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking cookbook (making extra for later use, coz I LOVE caramelised onions).

The Avocado Sauerkraut Mash – on the website purelytwins.com – intrigued me. It’s so simple …but I found it needed something extra, and that extra was a dash of apple cider vinegar (lemon or lime juice might also do) for more, slightly sweeter, acidity. (I might’ve needed the added ‘oomph’ because my sauerkraut is homemade so could taste completely different – milder – than the stuff the twins use/d.)

To describe the processes super-briefly (for those who can’t be bothered visiting the links) here’s how it all came together:

Firstly I set the Thermomix to work on caramelising the onions for me (this takes about 20 minutes, the same amount of time as doing it yourself in a frypan) so I had time to prep my capsicum & asparagus. Frying them in coconut oil, over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, gave me time to make the ago mash simultaneously: halving an avocado, mashing & mixing it with 2 heaped tablespoons of sauerkraut. I pulled the veggies off the heat (leaving them in the frypan to ‘rest’) then mixed the (dash of) apple cider vinegar through the mash mixture and laid the bed of baby spinach on my plate. I added ½ cup of sprouted lentils straight into the frypan with the cooked capsicum & asparagus and stirred them through to warm. When the onions were done, I added about ¼ cup of them to the frypan, again mixing up the contents before placing them on top of the baby spinach. I scraped out every last bit of the avo sauerkraut mash from the mixing bowl and sat it on top of the lot.

It creates a visual feast, but you have to mix it all through when it’s time to consume: the sweetness of the onions and the capsicum counters & compliments the tang of the mash and there’s definitely one helluva lot of texture in the meal. You could also add a drizzle of olive oil and/or lemon juice if you prefer more moistness.

Vegan Hot Chocolate

I’ve been struggling finding hot winter drinks that aren’t full of caffeine, sugar or cow’s milk. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy. I’ve been playing around, mulling over what goes with what, and I reckon I’ve hit upon some pretty cool ideas. The current ‘Bulletproof’ (butter) coffee fad has even come into play…

This particular version of my experimental ‘healthy’ hot chocolate drinks was inspired by Nutella. Most people know that Nutella is a hazelnut based chocolate spread. So I used hazelnut milk (made freshly in my Thermomix first, via recipe in the new Quirky Cooking cookbook) and tied the ‘Bulletproof’ idea in via the inclusion of coconut oil and my choice of sweetener, coconut sugar. NB: I’m actually sensitising my taste buds by eating so ‘cleanly’ so the flavours here will be subtle, which means you may want to alter the amounts of cacao and sweetener to your liking.

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Unfortunately, I have to admit that if you don’t own a Thermomix I can’t offer you an alternative, because this recipe involves a short burst of high speed blending of hot liquid – which is definitely not to be attempted in a normal blender. (If however, you’re adept in the kitchen, I’m confident you’ll discover alternative means to create something similar!)

For a single serve you will need: 250gm hazelnut milk, 3 tspns cacao powder, 3 tspns coconut sugar, 1 tspn coconut oil (optional).

Place all ingredients in the Thermomix, cooking for 8 minutes, at 70ºC on Speed 4. At the end of the cooking period, programme 30 seconds at Speed 8 to ‘froth’ the mixture. Serve immediately.

Let your imagination run wild. This recipe is really a basic formula for any number of creations. I have used a variety of milks and come up with some amazing flavours, for example, a Spicy version to which I added heaps of cinnamon, some nutmeg, vanilla, garam masala & chilli powder! 😀

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Almond Smoothie

Eden Health Retreat has a number of citrus trees scattered around the grounds so in winter there is quite a bountiful supply of oranges, grapefruit & lemons at our disposal.

With a couple of these oranges hanging around in my fridge, I decided to make a liquid version of a gluten free favourite: the orange almond cake. I had had lunch, and was hankering for a little dessert.

Thinking about an amazing green chai coconut smoothie recipe created by Jo Whitton (Quirky Cooking), I pulled together an idea for a rich drink that didn’t require ANY added sugars. And it worked. Warning: it’s very rich so you won’t need much. The following makes approximately 500mls; enough for two people. (Unlike this one, who guzzled it all down herself…and is paying the price!)food fervour

You’ll need: 50gm almonds, 1 orange (navel oranges are naturally sweeter) with all skin and pith removed, 60-80gm coconut cream, a pinch each of nutmeg & cinnamon, 1-2 teaspoons vanilla essence/paste, 200gm coconut water.

In a blender or Thermomix, mill the almonds into meal (Thermies 10 seconds, speed 9) then add all the remaining ingredients blending thoroughly (Thermies 1½ minutes, speed 9). Serve & consume immediately!

Since it’s winter here on the Gold Coast, I didn’t want to add ice, but in summer it would be an ideal addition. If need be, you could substitute the coconut cream & water with just coconut milk, but you’ll lose all the added goodness in the coconut water (higher concentration of minerals in that, than in the flesh, which is what the milks and creams are made from). You could also throw in a little fresh ginger for added nutrient value!

Quick Warm Salad with Avocado & Sautéed Bacon

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I wanted avocado but I wanted something warm. And of course I wanted a variety of veggies. But what protein?

I’m over throwing feta into everything. And then I remembered I had bacon in the freezer. Now I rarely touch cured meats because of the nitrates in them, but I always have some chopped up and stored in the freezer for the (very) rare occasion I feel like fried rice. Or a soup…or something. Like Matriciana.

Not that I’m into pasta either (especially since I went gluten free, and beyond that, choosing to avoid processed foods) but I know of that dish and know that bacon and chilli go well together. Oh, look at that! There’s some chillis in the freezer too, right under the bacon! With the frozen ginger and turmeric. “Right!” I think, “this will show you, Head Cold.”

Chilli likes broccoli too. And so do I. So it was all too simple.

food fervourI threw a de-seeded red chilli, a clove of garlic, a piece of turmeric and a piece of garlic in the Thermomix and chopped them up, then added the bacon and about 20gms olive oil and sautéed all that for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, I filled up & turned on the kettle, chopped up some broccoli and snow peas, then blanched them in a saucepan with the kettle’s boiling contents. I dissected and scooped out my avocado halves, chopped up some cherry tomatoes & a shallot, then drained the broccoli & snow peas and threw them on top of the rocket bed. I placed the avocado halves in the centre and scattered the cherry tomatoes around. The sautéed bacon & spices smothered the avocado and I sprinkled the shallots over the top. A decent hand-squeeze of half a bush lemon finished it off.

It took me less than 15 minutes to make, it tasted great and guess what? My nose has stopped running 🙂

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.