Super Simple Berry Crumble

I can’t deny my sweet tooth. So I try to work with it, by creating as much as possible without adding processed sweeteners. And by that, I mean even the least processed sweeteners that would be considered ‘better choices’ …like pure maple syrup and raw honey, for example.

food fervourSince it’s berry season here again (and damn, if berries aren’t some of the best fruits you can eat, not just for their lower natural sugar content but also for their prolific nutrient value) but also still technically Winter, I have been playing around with Crumble recipes for a healthier, warm dessert option (but believe me, they are certainly highly edible straight from the fridge and cold the day after) and I’ve arrived at the ideal result …for me.

You see, it definitely won’t be as sweet as many of you would expect or desire …so you may want to add sweetener yourself. If so, I’d leave the berries/berry element alone and add something (rapadura or maple syrup) to the crumble mix, if you have to. The other alternative is to serve the dish up with my Macadamia Banana Creme coz it’s naturally sweeeeet!food fervour

You will need a food processor, powerful blender or …a Thermomix (!) and the following ingredients: 150gm blueberries, 100gm roughly chopped strawberries, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 30gm almonds, 60gm oats, 10gm shredded coconut, 50gm coconut/macadamia oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the base of a small casserole dish (I used a 16x16cm square container) with a little coconut/macadamia oil.

Add 50gm blueberries, 30gm strawberries and vanilla essence to your blending appliance and pulverise these into a sauce. (Thermomixers blend for 10 seconds at Speed 5-6.) Place the remainder of the berries into the casserole dish and thoroughly mix the fresh berry sauce through.

Without rinsing out your processing appliance, throw in the almonds, oats, coconut, coconut oil and vanilla paste (as well as any additional sweetener you may wish to add) and blend briefly: 3 or 4 pulses in a blender or food processor or the Turbo function in a Thermomix. The oil and vanilla paste moisture may make the crumble sticky, but it should be pretty easy to break it apart to spread it evenly over the berry mix.food fervour

Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes, decide what you want to add to it – cream, custard (see left), ice-cream, Macadamia Banana Creme –  and be ready to devour it as soon as it’s done. 😛

 

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Macadamia Banana Creme

I have nothing against cream. I love real dairy cream, but I rarely buy it. So when I feel like some, especially for ‘sweet’ occasions, I usually turn to yoghurt … of which I always have a plentiful supply.

Yoghurt however doesn’t always cut it. I love it, it’s SO good for my gut BUT… it’s tangy. That’s the only problem. Tangy works with fruit salad, even fruit flavoured cakes, but not chocolate.

I tend to think of avocado as ‘nature’s butter’ or ‘cream’ but its flavour isn’t easily disguised, and neither is its colour! Cacao (or cocoa) seems to be pretty much the only thing with the flavour and colour intensity to use with it. (See my Cacao Avocado Mousse recipe.) Nut creams (like my Vanilla Brazil nut Cream for instance) are easy as well but, like the avocado option, they also require added sweeteners, even if only a little.

Having played around with banana before (we all know you can make dairy free ice cream with it, and even grain free pancakes) particularly as a whole food sweetener, I struck upon the idea of combining it with finely milled nuts. Guess what? It works!

The only downside (which isn’t really an issue) is that it’s better made and eaten fresh, since the blending process causes oxidation that will turn the creme ‘brown’ (see pic below). Fresh is best anyway, right? (…for nutritional content.) Also, the thicker you make it, the more likely it is that it’ll be ‘grainy’ but if you’re pedantic about it being smooth, simply press through a sieve or squeeze through loose weave muslin cloth (or nut milk bag).

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Oxidation causes changes and you can see the creme on this cake has ‘browned’. It didn’t affect the flavour at all 😉

 

All you need is a high powered blender, 100gms of macadamia nuts, 1 banana (the riper, the sweeter) and your milk of choice to alter the thickness of the creme… (I used 1-2 teaspoons (5gm) to make the spreadable creme for the cake above).

Firstly, mill the nuts (Thermies: 10 seconds at Speed 7-8). You may want to scrape down and repeat.

Scrape down before adding the roughly chopped banana and milk. Again, blend again at Speed 7 for 10 seconds, scraping down and repeating if you wish (I did).

Voila, you’re done! It’s ready to go. I’d love to hear what you think and the creative ways you use it. 🙂

 

Slow Cooker Ratatouille

It was one of those days. I had no ideas, no incentive to cook, but I had heaps of veggies I felt compelled to use up.

Nothing even remotely appealed to me in the pages of recipes I scrolled through on the net. All I knew was that I couldn’t use the oven because it was just waaaaay too hot. I vacillated between Thermomix and slow cooker recipes but the slow cooker won in the end, simply because I knew I could leave it on overnight.

A lot of slow cooker recipes are deceiving in that they’re not just one-pot: many require you to pre-cook some of the ingredients. To a lazy cook like me that just doesn’t make sense. I want to throw everything into the crockpot at once, put the lid on and walk away.

So when I found a recipe that fit the bill on Voracious Veggie‘s website (direct link below) I proceeded to adapt it… just by adding more stuff, really.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant

Food FervourHere’s what I used:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 diced onion, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 small diced carrot, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder (double this if you actually want to taste it!), ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ cup tomato paste, 1 cup vegetable stock, 8 mushrooms sliced, 1 small eggplant (cubed), ¼ butternut pumpkin (peeled & cubed), salt & pepper.

And this is all I did:

Pour the oil into the slow cooker, adding the onion, garlic and carrot, followed by the rest of the herbs & spices. Mix in the tomato paste & stock next, then add the mushrooms, eggplant & finally the pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for at least 8 hours (I left mine on overnight… a total of 14 hours!) You can stir it up every now & then if you like.

Food FervourFor my first meal, I mixed through fresh basil leaves, then topped the lot with chopped kalamata olives and crumbled feta (see left). Deeelish. For the next serve, I popped a piece of grilled wild salmon on top of a plateful.

There are so many ways you could serve it up. Super simply, with bread or on toast (mmm, melt some parmesan in or over it!) or as a pasta ‘sauce’. The point is, it’s dead easy, it’s packed with micronutrients and fibre, low in fat & complex carbs (for those concerned about them) and …..it’s just EASY!!! (Yes, I repeated myself.)

Don’t despair if you don’t have all of the veggies I used… the following will substitute perfectly : capsicum, zucchini, actual tomatoes (this will significantly increase fluid content FYI) …even cauliflower and broccoli (just don’t expect the broccoli to hold its colour) The more the merrier! Let me know what you use. 🙂

Powerhouse Cauliflower Soup

This creation was the result of a respiratory infection. I’ve been working too much – around too many people – so my stressed immune system has given way to a lurgy.

A fellow workmate made me promise to get some ginger and turmeric into myself when I got home… trouble was, I wasn’t really hungry. So I did a quick Google search for “ginger turmeric vegetarian recipes” and when I struck upon a cauliflower soup recipe, the light bulb came on.

Food FervourGarlic, chilli, ginger and turmeric pretty much speak for themselves in terms of health benefits: everyone knows about them now, so it’s probably quite obvious why included them in this recipe. Coriander’s detoxifying role is lesser known by many, and the benefits cumin and fenugreek bestow on the respiratory system are pretty much a secret!

Since I was highly disinterested in expending a great deal of effort to cook, I turned straight to my Thermomix. They really are the best things to have in the kitchen when you lack time, energy and/or motivation. (This is not intended as a sales promotion, it’s my truth!) So please note: even though I’m providing a manual method for this recipe, you have to forgive me if it’s not what you expected because I’ve literally created this soup one time, and using my wonderful kitchen appliance.

Here’s what I threw in:

4 garlic cloves, pinch of fenugreek seeds, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 inch ginger root, 1 inch turmeric root, 20gm (1 tablespoon) coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 small red chilli (deseeded & finely chopped) 600gm cauliflower, 750gm (3 cups) stock OR Thermies use water plus 1 tablespoon veggie stock paste, salt & black pepper (this is a must: the piperine in black pepper aids absorption of turmeric’s ‘star’ ingredient by up to 2000% – you need that!) 80mls coconut cream

Thermomix Method:

Pop the garlic, fenugreek, roughly chopped onion & celery, ginger and turmeric in the bowl and set to Speed 5-6 for up to 10 seconds. Scrape down then add the coconut oil, cooking for 3 minutes on Varoma, speed 1.

Add the coriander, cumin, chilli, cauliflower, water and stock paste, seasoning with the salt & (lots of!) pepper. Cook for 18 mins on Varoma, Speed 1.

Finally, add the coconut cream then blend 60 seconds speed 9-10.

Manual Method:

Pop a large saucepan or stockpot on the stove over a medium heat and add the coconut oil. Roughly chop the garlic, onion, celery and tip into the pan/pot. Grate the ginger & turmeric fingers straight into the mix and toss in the fenugreek (you may want to employ a mortar & pestle to grind these little fellas down…) ground coriander, cumin and chilli. Cook for a few minutes, until the spices are fragrant and the veggies begin to soften.

Add the cauliflower, stock and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then drop back to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the coconut cream then blend in batches (take care: heat & blenders can be dangerous)

I had just roasted some cashews so garnished my soup with them and some fresh coriander. Just what the ‘doctor’ ordered!

Zoodles with Chickpeas & Pesto

It was time to harvest my crazy flat leaf parsley plant today. Because parsley is rarely the star in any recipe, I kinda knew I’d be making a pesto. What else can you make with an over-abundance of any green herb? I chose a Parsley & Walnut recipe I found on Taste.com.au (link to that recipe here ) …but halved the ingredients because (1) I’m single and don’t eat much and (2) I didn’t really have enough parmesan cheese left to make the full batch…

Now even before I’d finished creating it I knew how I’d be enjoying the first serving: zoodles. Zucchini noodles, for those not in the know. Because I’m not a huge fan of Italian food – pasta and the like – I’m a bit clueless about the uses of pesto: besides as a dip, all that comes to mind is its presence in pasta dishes (total cliche). So, there it was: raw zucchini spiralled into spaghetti-like strands, to be crowned with my parsley pesto… BUT… what in between? I can’t just do ‘pasta’ & pesto: I mean, where’s the nutrient density in that? ‘Myright?Food Fervour

This is how my (single serve) meal came together:

I popped a frypan on the stove, splashing in a little EVOO and setting it to a low heat. Then I cut about a quarter of a red capsicum slicing it thinly lengthwise. I added it to the frypan.

Next I ‘zoodled’ (spiralled) half of a medium sized zucchini, and arranged the ‘pasta’ bed on my plate. I added approximately ¼ cup of (cooked) chickpeas to the frypan, with the now softening capsicum and gave it a little stir. Then I retrieved some feta & my freshly made pesto from the fridge, and my nutritional yeast from the pantry. There really wasn’t much left to do…

With the chickpeas warmed and the capsicum soft, it was time to plate. (Too easy, right?) I topped the zoodles with the capsicum first, creating a kind of ‘nest’ with them, then I tipped the chickpeas into the centre. Plopping a good dollop of the pesto on top of them, I cut a little piece (maybe 20gms?) of feta, crumbled it over the lot and finished with a sprinkle of (about 1 teaspoon of) nutritional yeast.

It’s a nice light veggie meal, like a ‘warm salad’ in a respect. I found the sweetness of the capsicum tempered any bitterness of the walnut & parsley pesto, and then there was delicious saltiness of the feta and nutritional yeast. If you want to give it a go (NB vegans simply omit the feta) I’d love to know what you think. 🙂

Simple Celery Soup

I can’t stand waste… in all facets of life, but particularly food. I can usually find ways to use up leaves and stems (of broccoli and cauliflower for example) but the one plant I struggle with is celery.

You see, I’m definitely not the kind of person who buys the stalks pre-cut and packaged from shops: if it’s not the whole head, I won’t touch it. And FYI, it has to be organic because celery is one of those plants that too readily absorbs and holds toxic substances (like pesticides… here’s a link to the current (American) “Dirty Dozen”). Since the vast majority of recipes ask for only the stalks, more than half of a whole bunch of celery can go to waste.

Apart from veggie stock, there seem to be very, very few recipes on the net that help you to use up the whole plant (I’m trying to grow my own so that I may be able to harvest it directly as I need it in future) but I finally found a simple soup recipe that is now my Go-To. I’m not usually one for creating dishes with minimal veggies but because celery’s so good for you (super high fibre and water content – your liver loves it – and super low calories, for those who care) and this recipe is so easy, I figure it’s acceptable to chug down a lot of this (surprisingly tasty) soup. NB: it doesn’t actually include the leaves (they do tend to be bitter) but I’ll sometimes throw some in.Food Fervour

I’m providing directions for both manual cooks and Thermomixers, but manual cooks take note: celery fibre is tough to break down so you’ll have to blend more thoroughly at the end …please take great care with the hot liquid.

Food Fervour

300gm worth of celery offcuts.

All you’ll need is: 1 onion, 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 300gm celery offcuts (see pic) and 500mls (or a little less if you prefer a thicker soup) of your preferred stock – chicken or vegetable (Thermomixers can use 1 tablespoon of stock paste & 500ml water if preferred)

Thermomix:

Quarter the onion and add it to the bowl with the garlic clove/s, blending for 5 seconds at Speed 5. Add the EVOO and cook for 3½minutes at Varoma temp on Speed 1.

Add the roughly chopped celery, further breaking them down for 5 seconds at Speed 5, then add your choice of stock. Set to cook for 17 minutes Varoma temp, Speed 1.

Finally, blend for 60 seconds at Speed 9-10 (increasing speed slowly, for caution) and serve immediately.

Manual:

Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely diced onion and finely chopped garlic clove and cook for 2-3 mins

Add roughly chopped celery* and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Blend thoroughly (in batches if necessary)  and serve immediately.

*the finer you chop the celery, the easier the final blend should be 😉

 

Mushroom, Broccoli & Kale Quinoa

I love one pot recipes …they’re (usually) ridiculously easy and best of all, there’s minimal cleaning up! Being pushed for time to cook my evening meal this afternoon, there was an even better reason to take this ‘short cut’.

Since my kale plant was in need of harvesting I searched for kale recipes, with quinoa. I was pretty lucky to come across a vegan recipe that included broccoli as well, first go. But because the recipe asked for cauliflower – which I didn’t have – I was going to have to make some changes. What a surprise!

While it easily satisfied me for a main meal, I reckon it would work well as a side dish, if you’re looking for something substantial (or ‘hearty’).Food Fervour

You’ll need: 1 cup quinoa (pre-soaked or well rinsed) 1 finely chopped onion, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 tablespoon curry powder/paste (I used a massaman paste) 130gms (approx 6 large) sliced mushrooms, 2 cups (500mls) vegetable stock, 200gm broccoli florets, 40gm finely chopped/shredded kale

Warm the EVOO in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Mix in the curry powder or paste next and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Finally add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Pop the quinoa into the mix and stir well to coat, then add the stock. Bring it to a boil then drop the heat immediately back to a medium temperature. Let it simmer away (occasionally stirring to prevent anything sticking to the base of the pan) for 13-15 minutes.

Mix in the broccoli and kale, then cover and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove the cover to steam off any excess liquid if necessary (stirring occasionally) otherwise, serve it right up immediately and enjoy!Food Fervour

I have to admit, I didn’t find the curry flavour very strong at all so I had no qualms about sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the top… To. Die. For!