A foodie fiesta.

March 15, 2011 § 9 Comments

Greetings!

Hope you’re all kicking it health-warrior style.

I’ve been feeling quite deflated, listless and sad to my soul as the horrific events in Japan continue to unfold.

As President Obama put it in a recent address, it is utterly heartbreaking to contemplate the scale of destruction and loss of life (both human, and critter) that has resulted from yet another natural disaster. I feel sick. Unsettled. What happens to them happens to all of us, because despite those imaginary borders we create with language (country, nation, race) we are ultimately one. Made of the same stuff, tied to the same earth.

I cannot fathom how people cope with such events, but I send my thoughts anyway.

**************************************************************************

Over the weekend my friends from college and I got together to revel in our mutual lust for tasty food and culinary experimentation. I thought I’d share some pictures with you, and encourage you all to consider having your closest buddies around to bond over dinner; there is something special about dinner parties that cannot be recreated at a restaurant or club. And you might just snag an awesome recipe or two to add your repertoire!

We congregated at the completely charming abode of Jack, then enigmatic face behind The Batchelor Blog and proceeded to stuff ourselves silly.

I was a little late to the party, and was presented with this plate full of love on arrival. Pre-plated entrée? I can deal.

There are a number of different cultural influences in our class and so the three course meal contained a medley of mouth-blowing flavours and textures. Two Japanese girls made the most amazing sticky rice and seaweed condiments I have ever tasted, and there were homemade dips, german crackers, greek lentils and italian goodies galore!

Jack made an amazing ginger ale by reducing some fresh ginger and honey in a pot, adding some fizz and fresh mint for good measure! Zzzzzzzing!

Kitchen full of wannabe chefs.

Goofing around on the dimly-lit stairs.

My contribution: raw zucchini & carrot noodles with a delicious asian dressing from Gina at Choosing Raw.

Also, raw banana pie for dessert!

I layered some delectable honey-roasted almond butter on the bottom of the crock and then used some banana soft-serve as the filling.

Process 2-3 frozen bananas until creamy, and add in some extra nut butter, cinnamon and honey if your sweet tooth desires. Freeze. Get your saliva on.

This house is FILLED with character.

Posting your laundry on the interwebs, soz Jack.

Our Italian connection Alessandra, made this insanely fresh and flavourful pasta dish with broccoli, garlic and chili that is not done justice by the crummy photo.

And the grand finale! Flourless orange and almond cake. Holy Bethlehem, this was incredible.


Such a tasty evening. Thankyou, friends!

Honey-roasted Almond Butter

March 9, 2011 § 11 Comments

In the spirit of posting recipes like a champ, here is that drool-worthy almond butter recipe that I promised you. Please note the duration between aforementioned promise and delivery <one week. Win!

I also have a small confession to make…

This batch was really obstinate. After 1 hour, 200 expletives and a smoking food processor later, it STILL did not cream like the first lot. I stood over it as it skidded about in the barrel, refusing to release its precious oils, alternating between gentle coaxing ‘Come on! You can do it! Almost there!’ and explosive bursts of insults ‘You call yourself a gourmet butter!? I shoulda made PEANUT!’.

It was immune to my attacks, and I eventually admitted defeat. (Not the first time Almond butter has gotten the better of me!)

I’m pretty sure the reason for the semi-fail was to do with roasting time. Please roast your nuts properly before processing! I became much too impatient and removed this batch from the oven prematurely, and I think that spelled nutty disaster.

I know this recipe can be great, because the other day when I made it it worked a treat. So just keep yer mitts out of the oven and you’ll be cleaning almond butter from your ears in no time! (It’s a whole body affair).

Honey-roasted Almond Butter

(Inspired by, and adapted from Ashley’s Roasted Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter)

  • 3 c raw almonds (pesticide free if you can!)
  • 4 T organic honey
  • 1 T extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 t celtic sea salt

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Line a tray with baking paper and add almonds, coating with 4 T honey. Bake for ~15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Watch them like a crazed hawk as they can start to burn in an instant, if not given enough attention (high maintenance baking).

Invest in colourful, fun-sized jars; arrange casually on bench. Oh hey, camera!

Pull out your almonds, but not too soon! They will be a huge sticky conglomeration of lurrrve. Allow to cool for 10-20 minutes, or until rock solid. Speaking of rock solid, I should warn you that at this stage the nuts will be…rock solid. Grab a spatula, put your back into it, and chisel the nuts off the paper. Place in food processor and blend for around 15 minutes, until it has gone through the various stages of compliance (better explained here).

You will know when it is ready. You’ll hear a dainty little almond-like sigh of defeat, and the butter will become smooth, shiny and drippy. At this stage, add the coconut oil, salt and cinnamon and whiz to combine.

Spoon into a worthy vessel and debate whether you REALLY wanted to send this off to a friend/family-member/co-worker.

Didn’t think so.

:D

Enjoy your night! x


Happy International Women’s Day & raw banana pie recipe.

March 8, 2011 § 14 Comments

I’m generally a punctual, reliable and downright conscientious individual.

With recipes however, an evil dark side lurks. You may have observed that promised how-to’s tend to evaporate into oblivion and are never spoken of again.

It’s certainly a pet reci-peeve of mine, and thus I blog before you today with all good intentions of nipping this ghastly habit in the bud.

My peace offering:

Raw choco-banana pie!

I originally made this raw banana pie to share with my man on Schmalentine’s day, and a couple of you have since requested the recipe.

The bad news is, I decided to include a big hit of raw cacao in my newest batch to make it a rich, chocolatey affair. I’m sorry to do this to you; I understand that you may just be repulsed by such an idea…:)

Simple, pantry-friendly ingredients:

BASE:

  • 1/2 c raw almonds & pepitas, mixed together (can just use almonds if you prefer)
  • 1 T raw honey
  • pinch (~1/8th t) celtic sea salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon.

FILLING:

  • 2 medium-sized frozen bananas
  • 1 T raw cacao
  • 1/2-1 t raw honey, to liking

Place the 1/2 cup of nuts into your food processor and pulverize for around one minute until relatively fine. Then add 1 tablespoon of raw honey, salt and cinnamon to mixture and process until combined. Spoon your base mixture into a small crock lined with baking paper (mine was about 20cm in length and 10cm in diameter) and press into sides to make the crust.

Then add frozen bananas (chopped into chunks) into your processing beast and whir until ice-cream-like. Add cacao, and honey if desired. Dollop into crust.

This would be extra saucy topped with fresh strawberries, but alas none were to be had.

I lined my crock with paper, but you could definitely forego it and just eat it as is with a spoon. In fact, please do that.

Freeze for around an hour, and you have yourself the makings of a good night ;)

*************************************************************************

You may or may not know that it’s also International Women’s Day today. In fact, it’s the 100th anniversary!

I am so incredibly thankful that I’ve grown up surrounded by strong, intelligent and inspiring women in a society in which gender discrimination is, for the most part, considered unacceptable. I have never been confronted with warped notions as to things I could or could not do as a female. I’ve been at liberty to express myself in whatever way I see fit, and enjoy the complete satisfaction of knowing my sex will never determine my destiny.

Historically women have not been so fortunate, and were forced to contend with damning scientific theories (ie. blood being diverted to the uterus for pregnancy thus lower brain capacity), marital domination, sexual atrocities (especially in times of war and unrest) and an array of painful and ridiculous fashion options (i’m thinking corsets, lead-based face powder and the modern stiletto!).

We live in fortunate times.

My mother is highly intelligent, vibrant and independent, raising the Bonne Santé gal solo – no mean feat.

Dad’s partner and my awesome step-mother, with a PhD in feminist theory, has informed my education more than any class or tut, expanding my vocabulary from the moment we met and supporting me through my awkward teenage years and beyond. Thanks to her, I am an unapologetic and empowered wo-man.

Needless to say, many amazing women exist in my life, and incidentally, the blog-world is FULL of them!

Which women have inspired you in your life? What do you like best about being a fierce and ferocious wo-man?!

 


One minute chocolate fix.

February 27, 2011 § 10 Comments

Morning bloginis!

Isn’t sunrise the most perfect, tranquil, refreshing time of day? Morning exercise always starts things off on the right foot (or left, on occasion).

Soak it up.

I’ve got to run and make myself semi-presentable for work, but I thought I’d leave you with a big hit of crack-cao for your early Sunday theobromine fix.

When you want chocolate, STAT!

1/3 c raw cacao

1/4 c raw honey

1 T coconut oil

Mix mix mix.

Add some orange zest, a touch of vanilla and almonds for a decidedly lindt-like experience.

My prescription: pour over pancakes, add to oats, freeze in a bar, spoon from the jar.

Happy Sunday!

 

Notella, by request.

February 24, 2011 § 27 Comments

After months of attending classes on OH&S, appropriate client/practitioner relations (apparently sexy massage is NOT within the scope of Naturopathy) and how to tell a foot from an arm, we have finally landed on the juicy stuff at school.

Nutrition. Herbs. Homeopathy. You name it, we are brewing it up in our big bubbling cauldrons.

The issue is that learning about nutrition, whilst fun and informative, tends to send the whole class into a strange state of culinary nostalgia. Analysing sugars prompts us to recall allllll the iridescent candy we consumed as children, one-upping each other with tales of cookie binges, 10-slice wonder-bread sandwich monstrosities and inevitably, Nutella. Eaten with a spoon from the jar, of course. Occasionally with some bread on top.

Reminiscing about all the ways we used to eat, snort and swim in Nutella got me thinking that I should try to replicate this kiddie-crack at home, with fewer & far more wholesome ingredients.

Presenting my first attempt at NOTella.

Vegan Notella, for the nut-butter enthusiast.

I was really happy with how this turned out, however it does not have quite the same taste & texture as the revered original. Being exceedingly wholesome, palm-oil free and homemade however gives it tons of extra foodie cred for me. The process of making a nut-butter yourself while requiring a little more time and patience is an exciting exercise for the closet Nutella fiend.

You will need:

  • Food processor fitted with the S blade (you cannot do this in your blender, sorry kids)
  • Approx. 4 cups raw organic hazelnuts
  • 1/2 t celtic sea salt
  • 2 T raw cacao powder
  • 2 T (generous) happy local honey or vegan sweetener (agave/maple)
  • 1 t room temperature extra virgin coconut oil
  • Glass jars for storage

Assemble army of raw hazelnuts; novelty spoon optional.

Lay the nuts out on an oven tray lined with baking paper and toast for 8-10 minutes at 200 degrees C. It’s important to keep checking them as they will burn in a snap if you forget about them whilst thinking of more clever veg*n food puns (chick-un, tofurkey…dad joke central).

Why not sterilize your jars while you wait?

After removing from the oven and allowing them to cool, try to de-shell as many nuts as possible by rubbing them between your fingers or a tea-towel. This gets rid of the extra husk and will make for a smoother end result, but don’t get too hung up about it for every second you waste is keeping you from your Notella destiny.

Place the hazelnuts in your food processor beast and begin the epic process of turning solid, stubborn nuts into compliant, creamy butter.

Stage one: quietly confident.

Stage two: minutes have passed and you’re now quietly confident that I’m a lying vegan scoundrel.

Stage three: 8 minutes and 3-thousand side-scrapings later, you remove Bonne Santé from your bookmarks bar.

Stage four: it starts to come together; your minimal faith in my recipe credibility is restored!

Stage five: FIST PUMP! 12-15 minutes of processing and a suspected case of tinnitus from the perpetual whirring later, NUT BUTTER IS FORMED!

It’s important to keep processing even after it starts to look buttery, because it takes an extra couple of minutes for the nuts to release their luscious oils.

To make it more true to Nutella, I stirred in 2 T raw cacao powder, 2 heaping T of organic honey, 1/2 t sea salt and 1 t coconut oil after the butter had formed. I have read that it’s best to delay adding other ingredients until you’ve processed the bollocks out of the nuts because it can mess with the chemical/magical butterisation, but other recipes call for the addition of oils & sweeteners as you go, so I imagine you could get creative. My additions are also not overly sweet or rich, so feel free to amp up the cacao content and get decadent. Yields around 2.5 cups.

Bows recommended.

The perfect gift!

Now, to see if it will last until Nutrition class on Monday :)

Deconstructed vegan taco and other fun stuff.

February 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Howdy health hobbits!

Random lily for your enjoyment

How awkward are Tuesdays? If Wednesday’s are the armpit of the week, then surely Tuesday’s are the groin. Luckily, today was light on crotch and heavy on awesome!

As you know, I shunned the Pill last week and am a few days into the hormonal battlefield. No landmines have as yet exploded in my face, however I do have a bit of a breakout right now (that I can perhaps more logically attribute to the jar of almond butter I ate last weekend. My bad). I feel quite well in myself, but am staving off visions of acne eruptions, weight fluctuations and the growth of a lady-beard. Stranger things have happened.

Apart from a gross over-analysis of my pill-withdrawl, today was also one of those perfect, beautiful, ordinary days in which I was thankful for such fabulous friends and happy surrounds.

My exceptionally dynamic, vivacious, globetrotting college buddy, Jack, has also started his own blog called Light Minded which you can check out here.  He inspires me daily with his crazy backpacking anecdotes and eternal optimism, so I think his website will definitely be one to watch for anyone interested in becoming a jedi/yogi master (let’s face it, who isn’t?!).

It always excites me to gain more rockin’ cyber buddies.

Speaking of, I also had the opportunity to meet the gorgeous Kate from Green and Juicy today now that she attends my college. (It’s officially the nerdy nutrition epicenter! I love it). My suspicions that we would be like two cacao beans in a pod were confirmed, and I’m claiming it as my first blogger meet-up! She is just as smart & vibrant in real life as on her blog, so if you haven’t already, please head over to G&J for your holistic wellness fix!

Another beautiful college friend also gave me a belated birthday present that took the day up a notch:

I rarely buy jewelery for myself, and somehow manage to receive the loveliest pieces from friends and family. This angel certainly has a special energy and i’m touched by the kindness with which it was given. Thank you Tshu :)

The awesome Caitlin from Roost also showed me a preliminary header-design for the blog today too, so that made my day extra groovy. Can’t wait to pimp the old BS; it’s a little down in the jowls.

What else, what else?

You might like this article about finding motivation in the wee-hours of the morning. Getting out of bed with a purpose is the ultimate way to start the day.

And with that completely indulgent recap of my awesome day, I’ll leave you with my din-wah tonight.

Deconstructed vegan millet taco. (That does not really resemble a taco).

  • 1/2 millet
  • ~1 cup water
  • herbamare (or other herbal seasoning)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • a few organic mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • salad essentials (greens/carrot/cherry toms/cucumber/sprouts)
  • fresh coriander

Place 1/2 cup millet into a saucepan and toast over medium heat until slightly golden. Carefully add 1 cup of water plus seasoning to taste and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer for approx 30 mins, or until liquid is absorbed (you might want to add more water depending on how dry/fluffy you like it). While millet is cooking, add 1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to a saucepan and bring to medium heat. Add garlic, onion & mushrooms & sautee until soft. Add tomatoes, breaking up with your spoon – then add in your beans. Add cumin, cayenne, salt & pepper and reduce to simmer. Prepare your salad by finely shredding your greens, dicing the carrot & cucumber, halving the cherry toms and roughly chopping the coriander. Plate up millet, bean mix & salad topping with sprouts & more coriander.

This had a nice mexican flavour, but was light, healthy & super tasty! Am I the only one who goes nuts for warm food over fresh salad?

Have you ever had a super-charged Tuesday? What little things are making you happy right now?

x

Single serve vegan cookie and crystal deodorant.

February 11, 2011 § 9 Comments

Greetings!

After one thousand hours of torturous babysitting today in which I grossly abused both the naughty corner and the hypnotizing effect of the Wiggles, I was glad of two things:

1) Having a delicious vegan cookie to come home to,

and

2) That I had applied my new crystal deodorant this morning.

Now I don’t expect you to be salivating at the combined prospects of baked goods and armpits, but i’ll spare you the overlap and separate the two!

Single-serve vegan cookie

I’ve always been particularly hesitant to bake batches of biscuits due to my wanton disregard for moderation and self-control. That is, I will eat those bad boys hot from the oven one at a time until the entire lot has been sent to that great cookie cloud in the sky.

I also suspect that other bakers struggle with this fiendish tendency, so was completely hooked on the idea of doling out individually portioned treats à la Chocolate Covered Katie. Genius, that girl.

This recipe will be ready in a flash, and tastes like a chewy Anzac cookie! Bonus points for being vegan and containing more healthful sweeteners.

Adapted from CCK’s Single-Lady Cookie

4 rounded t spelt flour

1/16th t baking powder (or 236 microscopic granules to be precise)

1/16th t celtic sea salt

2 t extra-virgin coconut oil

1/4th t vanilla extract

1 T natural shredded coconut

2 t coconut sugar (brown sugar would probably also work)

1 generous tsp pepitas

1 T rice milk (or other milk substitute)

Combine ingredients, shape into a ball on a sheet of baking paper, press down to desired thickness & place in a pre-heated oven at around 180 degrees for ~8 mins. Allow to cool, and marvel at the convenience!

Moving on to part two of today’s post:

Crystal Deodorant

As you probably know, I try to subscribe to the rule ‘if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin!’. There are a shocking amount of chemicals and toxins in hair, beauty, skin and household products and while you may not consciously consider the consequences of these repeated exposures, it is sobering to think that most of what touches our skin travels straight into our bodies.

With that in mind, I’ve attempted to greenify and deem ‘safe’ those products I use on my body daily, deodorant being no exception.

I’ve used many natural deodorants in the past with varying degree’s of success. Most seem to retain their effectiveness for a month or so, before somehow merging with my armpit goo and… ok, the just stop working so well alright?! I also must warn you that they are not anti-perspirants. That’s the catch. But how natural is it to plug up your sweat glands with metallic compounds anyway? Embrace the floooooooow.

This leads me to my newest discovery, Crystal Deodorant.

I’ve looked at it quizzically in the health store for some time now, wondering how a big stick of solid glass-like matter could possibly prevent any pit stench? And also claim to last for a year? And only need to be applied once in the morning? Perplexing.

I took on the extremely whimsical armpit crystal from Grant’s (who also make pretty rad natural toothpaste that doesn’t taste like bi-carb soda/burning) and found that, miraculously, it worked! Apparently once you moisten the crystal and rub it on your skin, an extremely thin layer of mineral salt adheres and prevents the growth of bacteria that causes your underarms to smell.

Although it feels like you are just rubbing a rock under your arm with no discernible effect, I have gone each day without needing to re-apply or mask any funky aromas. It’s also the height of summer, and at times the height of small-child-induced stress! :D

Grant’s deodorant claims to be made from natural mineral salts, without the presence of aluminium, however in the process of researching this post my internal jury is still out on whether crystal deodorants in general are a safer alternative. Many use ‘potassium alum’ which is described as a naturally occurring form of aluminium, however I hesitate to advise you on whether this is acceptable (in keeping with our above mantra of keeping things edible) or not.

I would welcome advice from anyone who knows the details of whether ‘mineral salts’ are ok to apply?

(I at least suggest you check the labels of any crystal deodorant before you buy, as they are not all created equal.)

That being said it’s extremely effective for me, and thought you may be interested to hear the results or such an odd-looking item of personal care!

Have you struggled to find effective ‘natural’ body-care solutions? Ever tried crystal deodorant?

 

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