Posts filed under ‘eating in’

Honey nougat goji cashew cacao ball delights

The title is long and a work in progress, but the balls themselves are raw and scrumptious – and everyone knows just how loved up you feel after a solid dose of good chocolate.

20130511 balls5

I have tasted a number of variations on the goji-cacao ball theme in the past and none quite hit the spot like these, which I whipped up quickly when I needed a healthy snack for a girls’ night. I hope you like them too.

Recipe #141: Honey Nougat Goji Cashew Cacao Ball Delights. You will need a food processor, Thermomix or similar to create this recipe. Makes around 20.

You will need:
► seeds from ½ of a vanilla pod [or ½ tsp of vanilla paste/powder]
► ½ tsp ground cinnamon
► 20g cacao powder
► 200g cashews
► 120g shredded coconut [or use desiccated if you can’t find the shredded version]
► 50g goji berries
► 50g pitted dates
► 50g jarrah honey [you can use any type of raw honey you have to hand, however jarrah honey has the distinctive taste I was after, plus it is also purported to exhibit greater antimicrobial and antifungal qualities than other honeys]
► extra cacao powder, to serve

Start by processing the vanilla, cinnamon, cacao powder, cashew and coconut until the mixture reaches the consistency of a fine breadcrumb [TM: this takes about 10 seconds on speed 8]. Add in the goji berries, dates and honey, then process until the mixture clumps together when you press it in your hand [TM: process for about 10 seconds on speed 8, followed by a manual mix with a spatula to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom, then process on speed 10 for up to 30 seconds, or until the TM grinding sounds laboured].

Roll your mixture into balls of any size you like. Mine were moulded from rounded teaspoonfuls of the mix:

20130511 balls0

Refrigerate on a bed of cacao powder in a container for at least two hours (or freeze for one hour). When you are sure that your balls are quite firm, shake them around in the container for an even coating of the powder. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

20130511 balls4

Eat. Enjoy. Yum.

H :)

PS. On a personal note, I got married on 30 April (International Jazz Day)! Another reason, besides the chocolate, to feel lovey dovey :)

12 May 2013 at 12:13am 4 comments

10 life lessons I learnt from my herb garden (and another chance to win movie tickets)

I am the sort of person who learns best from harsh personal experience rather than telling and I am always grateful for those learnings that come gently. To this end, my herb garden is an excellent teacher.

20130424 marjoram

My herb garden gives so much more to me than food; it gives me life lessons. Here are just 10:

1. Great things are often borne of the least work. Take my wild rocket [thank you to my lovely neighbour for choosing me organic seeds]. I dug three parallel, shallow trenches with my pointer finger, poured in the seeds [well, I wouldn’t have been so liberal if it wasn’t for the breezy day], and less than a week later I had lots of little green leaves peeking out from the cover of their richly composted bed. Four months later, I am still enjoying the spoils of this shoddy planting.

20130424 wildrocket

And my mint! My glorious mint plants – gifted from a lovely neighbour and a loving sister – were cuttings and offcuts that are growing beautifully with only the occasional watering.

2. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I believe that organic is always preferable because resistance breeds resilience – for us as well as the plant. I have just started to regrow what I can from kitchen scraps and the results are very telling.

20130424 celery

This image shows the base of an organic celery alongside that of a conventionally grown celery, both sprouted in the same bowl of water at the same time, and pictured right before I planted them. The conventionally grown celery actually had a much larger base, but this became soggy and rotted away as the root soaked. The base from the organically grown celery stayed firm and strong and sprouted much more healthily, and was the only one to survive in the ground.

3. People lie. Sometimes. Not all the time. Or maybe it is just that their frame of reference is offset to your own. My chilli plant is a prime example of this learning. I asked the little grey lady who sold me the plant, “Are the chillis hot?” to which she replied, “I think so. Quite hot.” Prolifically fruiting the plant is, and hot the chillis are not.

20130424 unhot_chilli

4. Sometimes something has to die away in order to be reborn. For example: my very healthy parsley plant died when I dug it up from the crack in the pavement and replanted it into a pot – but then a tiny, new parsley plant grew in its place – for a little while. Then that died too. So I guess sometimes plants don’t survive after replanting.

20130424 parsley

5. Too much care can kill. Well, I’m pretty sure it killed the parsley.

6. Recycle. It’s good for your health. I cut and planted the roots from markets-bought spring onions, and these spring onions sprang up. Yum.

20130424 springonions

7. Some of the sweetest things are the simplest. Fennel seeds. Chewed fresh from the plant. There is nothing better, especially when the seeds are young and soft.

20130424 fennel

8. When you give them the chance, events can happen as they aren’t meant to – and it’s kind of magical. Nasturtiums can grow all year round with enough shade and water.

9. New starts can come from broken branches. Just as this geranium spawned unexpected progeny after its unfortunate break.

20130424 geranium

10. Never, ever, ever give up. Never stop believing – and keep on watering, even when it seems pointless. I learnt this lesson from a ginger root that did nothing for a long time, then it suddenly decided to sprout. I also learnt this lesson from a ‘dead’ lemongrass plant that came back to life after five weeks of persistent care (and that care was offered only because of its obviously alive brother).

20130424 lemongrass_alive

I hope my little list has given you a smile and some food for thought – and I hope you have read far enough to discover my movie ticket giveaway!

TM Publicity have given me five double passes to give away for the new foodie film, Haute Cuisine, based on the story of President François Mitterand’s private cook. It opens in Australian cinemas tomorrow.

Based on the blurb, this looks to be a fun movie that I want to see:

Hortense Laborie, a renowned chef from the Périgord, is astonished when the President of the Republic appoints her his personal cook, responsible for creating all his meals at the Élysée Palace. Despite jealous resentment from the other kitchen staff, Hortense quickly establishes herself, thanks to her indomitable spirit. The authenticity of her cooking soon seduces the President, but the corridors of power are littered with traps…

20130424 HauteCuisine_TM
Image courtesy of Transmission Films.

Leave a comment below about a lesson your garden has taught you by 9am WST on Friday 26 April, and you will go into my random draw for a double pass. Good luck!

H :)

Addendum of 26 April 2013: First, I corrected some spelling errors. Sorry about those…

Next, I drew the prize winners for my giveaway, with results provided by‘s sequence generator:

20130426 thedraw

Congratulations to commenters 11, 6, 7, 3 & 12 – otherwise known as Tanya, Kerryanne, Sonya, Kim & Heather! I am just about to email you for address details so that I can mail out your double passes.

24 April 2013 at 8:41am 17 comments

Guest Post 7: A mindful business, a retreat & a recipe

When Nicole van Kan from Équilibre told me about their upcoming retreat, I thought it sounded fabulous enough to warrant its very own post. Thankfully, Nicole thought so too!

One of the great joys in my life is the fact that I can pop out my back door and gather together a variety of edible greenery from my herb garden, so I am also excited that Nicole’s post features Sophie Zalokar’s simple and delicious recipe for greens with an apple cider vinegar dressing.


H :)


Équilibre + Our Autumn Retreat
by Nicole van Kan

20130410 equilibre-big

Équilibre is a health and fitness business with a difference. We don’t believe in quick fixes, miracle cures or gimmicks. We do believe in the sheer enjoyment of food, cooking with love and exercising for how it makes you feel. We also believe in BALANCE!

It would be very easy to hand clients a calorie controlled diet sheet full of low fat foods and tell them to weigh, measure, eat this and not that, all while doing numerous high energy exercise sessions per week. And you know what? If they followed it to the letter, they probably would end up losing weight and feeling better. But ultimately, we don’t think this approach is sustainable or really very healthy.

Very much like Hannah does at A Foodly Affair, we advocate a mindful approach to food and believe that everyone needs to discover what works best for their own body. A healthy body image and harmonious, connected relationship with food (and exercise) is the real key.

As a way of demonstrating our ethos in action, we had always envisaged running retreat style getaways. So, on discovering Foragers – a farm-based cooking school and dining room with gorgeous self-contained accommodation in the Southern Forests of WA – we knew that it would be the perfect setting. A weekend of beautiful food, wine, cooking, fresh produce and shared meals; all balanced with gentle, invigorating exercise and the opportunity to form a foundation for glowing good health and fitness.

Our first retreat at Foragers last spring turned out to be an amazing weekend and surpassed our expectations (and those of our guests!). That’s why we’re heading back for more this autumn with our Mother’s Day weekend retreat.

Sophie Zalokar owns and runs Foragers, along with her Swiss-born husband Chris, who is the craftsman behind many of the beautiful buildings and chalets. She grew up in the Barossa Valley and qualified as a chef under Maggie Beer. Sophie’s view is that cooking and food production is not only a fundamental life skill but also one of life’s greatest pleasures. We couldn’t agree more.

20130410 blackboard-big
Image courtesy of Sophie Zalokar

You can see from the menu for our Saturday evening ‘seasonal dinner’ that Sophie is adept at creating mouth-watering dishes based on the freshest seasonal produce, all with an inherent balance. Ingredients are sourced from the local area wherever possible – including, in this instance, watercress from the brook at the edge of the property, about an hour before dinner!

Our lunchtime cooking class with Sophie was also a special experience. We came away armed and inspired with an array of classic recipes that have become a welcome part of my own cooking repertoire, including labna (yoghurt cheese), a herb and spice spiked aromatic sea salt and a golden chicken stock.

I’ll leave you with Sophie’s recipe for this quick and easy apple cider vinaigrette, which makes leafy greens and herbs taste spectacular, especially if picked freshly from your own garden (still a work in progress for this non-green thumb!).

Recipes like these are a great reminder that simple really is better and that getting back to basics can be good for our taste buds, as well as our health.

20130410 foragedgreens-big

Recipe #140: Foraged Greens with Herb Infused Vinaigrette.
by Sophie Zalokar (reprinted with permission)

You will need- for the dressing:
► 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
► 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
► 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
► 3 tbsp mild oil (I use cold-pressed macadamia oil)
► sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
► 1 tsp each chervil, tarragon, chives, parsley & mint

- for the salad greens:
► 4 large handfuls of a mixture of the following: watercress, landcress, oakleaf or cos, turnip tops, Italian parsley leaves, radicchio, salad burnett, mustard leaves, corn salad, endive, broad bean tops…
► optional extras: avocado, radish, seed mixture

Mix together the mustard & vinegar with a little salt & pepper. Whisk in the oils and then add the herbs. Check the seasoning. Dress the salad by lightly tossing the salad greens with the fresh dressing.

We still have a few places available at our autumn retreat which runs from the 10th-12th May, so if you feel inspired to join us, be sure to get in touch very soon!

Équilibre also runs an outdoor group exercise program called Fitness for Foodies and will be commencing an exciting new workshop series mid-2013 for those who want to learn the secrets to joyful eating, fabulous fitness and healthy balance!

Thanks again to Nicole for sharing!

My guest posts typically get lots of clicks well after they are published – because I only choose talented & interesting people to contribute to A Very Foodly Diary! Check out previous guest posts via their links:

10 April 2013 at 9:47am Leave a comment

Guest Post 6: How to create award-winning olives

first place

When my lovely friend Claire Trolio of We Love Perth and Ruck Rover fame asked me to write a guest post, I said that I would love to – on the proviso that she also share her award-winning recipe for curing olives. I am very happy to report that she agreed to my cheeky request.

Some of you will be familiar with my earlier misadventures in curing. Claire, however, has managed to not only produce an edible product, but one that also won her first place at last year’s Perth Royal Show!

Thank you, Claire, for sharing your secrets – and for giving my 2013 olive harvest the chance to be more delicious.

H :)


Recipe #139: How to create award-winning olives (without using caustic soda).
by guest blogger Claire Trolio

A few years ago I was lucky enough to move into a house with a thriving olive tree. Our Mediterranean climate makes Perth an excellent place to grow these beautiful plants, and they don’t need a lot of ongoing care either.

olives on branch

When it comes to turning their fruit into an edible form, however, they require a lot of attention. There are times in the preparation where I thought to myself, ‘this better be worth it’; crossing my fingers that nothing would go awry. But the work well and truly paid off. Last year we ended up with litres upon litres of delicious olives that won first place in the Olives category in the Perth Royal Show Cookery Competition!

It’s getting to the time when your olives will be ripe for the harvest. There’s a large window when this can happen, and when you choose to pick them will depend on what sort of olives you like. As a guide, I’d say when some of the green olives start turning black they’re ripe, but if you prefer more meaty, bitter olives you can pick them when they’re more immature, alternatively if you’re a black olive lover, then wait until you have a tree of plump, black fruit. For me, I got stuck in when the top quarter of the tree, the bit that’s in full sun, was full of black, juicy olives.

Picking the olives is relatively straightforward. Take them off one by one and place them into a bucket or a bag, being careful not to drop them from a great height. Although it might be tempting to shake the tree or gather them on the floor, doing that will bruise the olives and give them a bad taste.

Once they’ve been collected, it’s time for the laborious task of washing, slitting and separating the olives. Before you start, have some large, clean jars at the ready. Empty the olives into a large basin filled with water, but pour them in gently so as not to bruise them, of course. Take each olive one by one, cleaning it and removing any remaining stalks. Then take a sharp knife and make a slit in each olive all the way down to the pip. Many people recommend doing both sides, as it will assist in removing more bitterness, though I think one side is fine – at least it’s to my taste. Then place them into jars keeping black and green olives separate – this is because they have different soaking times. Fill each jar with water and place a small, sealed plastic bag filled with water on top of the olives to keep them submerged, and seal the jars. You don’t want the olives exposed to air while in there otherwise they’ll go mouldy. Store the olives away from direct sunlight and extreme heat.

Every day now you need to empty the water, rinse the olives and the jars, and return them to the jars with fresh water. It is normal for some scum to form at the top of the water each day. Repeat this process for 5 days for the black olives and 8-10 days for the green ones.

The next step needs to be done in two parts, once for the black olives then later for the green, but the process is the same. You need to make the brine, and to do so bring water and salt (about 1/3 cup to every litre of water) to the boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Take it off the heat and let it cool.

Then rinse the olives with tap water for the final time. Sterilise the jar again before returning the olives to it and covering them with the cooled brine. This time we slowly poured in a layer of olive oil on the top, to keep the air from getting to the olives, and filled the jar to the brim. The olives need to soak like this for at least a couple of months and can remain in the brine for up to a year. There’s no need to refrigerate them, but keep them in a cool, dark place.

olives in jar

When they’re ready, grab out some olives and marinate them in whatever takes your fancy. Do it jar by jar, because once marinated the olives won’t keep that long – depending on what they are marinated in they will last about a month. The combination I keep returning to is: very thin slices of raw garlic, and lots of it; equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil; and a little sea salt.

I’d love to hear your olive stories! Claire.

Thanks again to Claire for her words of wisdom!

My guest posts typically get lots of clicks well after they are published – because I only choose talented & interesting people to write on A Very Foodly Diary! Check out previous guest posts via their links:

5 March 2013 at 4:43pm 5 comments

Aloe aloe, happy birthday to me & what to expect (and it may not be what you’re expecting)

The big news for this post is that A Very Foodly Diary has now lived in the blogosphere for four whole years. So it’s happy 4th birthday to me – for yesterday, actually – and yay to you for reading!

happy birthday
[Happy Birthday In Sand by Petr Kratochvil]

Those of you who have been with me from the start will be able to attest to the changes that have taken place in my life, family, blog and business over the last four years. I have appreciated your readership, comments and support during this time of radical transition. It’s been awesome :)

I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole of my last year in blogging. If I absolutely had to choose my favourite posts from this time, however, they would be the ones relating to happy food, edible hugs, raw mushroom soup, eating flowers, and my celebration of sweet and sticky sometimes foods

…although my stats tell me that many of you preferred to (re)read old faithfuls, such as ‘B’ is for Beetroot, 10 things you can do with ganache, Cling-wrap poached eggs, Cereal fillers and Why bread is so bad.

Here is a taste of what to expect over the next year:

  • From A Very Foodly Diary: you will find information and recipes around interesting and seasonal ingredients, guest posts from some of my favourite humans, commentary on food supply and consumption, and recipes based on the produce from my new (so new that it isn’t even retained or planted yet) garden.
  • From A Foodly Affair: a focus on -
    * market stalls (aiming for at least every month, somewhere in Perth). So far this year we have found ourselves at the Poynter Farmers’ Market twice! Have you sampled our juices, smoothies and sorbets on offer there?
    * mindful eating talks & workshops – eg. at the Less Is More Festival on 16 February [it’s free – you should come!] and through health food and organic stores, like The Green Bean. If you would like to see me hold a living foods or mindful eating workshop near you, gather together a few people with an interest and lobby your local shop owner. I would love to meet as many of you as possible, and to encourage more people to consume with consciousness.

One of my big learnings from the last year is that life is so amazing and so changeable that I need to be in it and grasp each opportunity as it comes. This means that I will be spending more time with my passions – my family, friends, food, garden, singing, writing and consultancy [yes, I do enjoy my work!] – and, while I am eager as ever to share, I will be online a little less.

So I will not ask you to fill in a fancy poll for me this year. I will share what I can as I look forward to turning greater effort towards my food garden and increased self-sufficiency in the midst of suburban consumerism.

This brings us to the remaining unexplained element of my title. Aloe aloe is not an attempt by me to be funny – it happens to be the marketed name of one of the newest residents to my herb garden, and now one of my most favourite additions to my green juice.

my new aloe vera plant

Best known for its ability to heal and soothe sunburnt skin, aloe vera is an amazing natural medicine that grows easily and quickly in Australian gardens. Reported benefits including action as an anti-inflammatory, moisturiser, blood sugar stabiliser, immunity booster and digestive aid.

The traditional wisdom attached to aloe vera is being tested scientifically, with positive results so far for topical application. Proponents claim that this spiky plant does its best healing from the inside out, as ingestion stimulates nutrient absorption and collagen production. Try drinking your green juice with a little aloe vera and I am sure you will feel more hydrated as a result.

[Sources (listed alphabetically): Gage, D. (1988) Aloe Vera: Nature’s Soothing Healer, Healing Arts Press, Vermont; Gaiam Life (2011); Natural Medicine Journal (2012); Natural News (2007)]

Finally, I invite you to raise your glasses (of aloe-spiked green juice) and chink with me in unison to an excellent Year 5 that is filled with fun, health and fabulous surprises.

Be. Love. Do. Here’s to you.

H :)

PS. Remember that ‘Love Thy Food’ is now available for only $9.99 from Amazon or Kobo – and, if you feel so inclined, you can also follow A Foodly Affair on facebook & twitter!

22 January 2013 at 11:54pm 4 comments

A deliciously sticky ending

I know I have said this before, and it’s worth saying again: one of the things I love best about Christmas is the leftovers.

fig tart and apple, rhubarb & pear crumble cake

Both of these sometimes foods [fig tart with goat’s milk curd and Pedro Ximinez (L); apple, rhubarb & pear crumble cake (R), inspired by EAT] were lovingly cooked using organic and mostly wholefood ingredients. I was very excited to see these particular items in the fridge this morning – but only after consuming my choco-banana-blueberry smoothie and poached eggs with kimchi.

Whatever you are eating this festive season, feel good about it. A recent Heal Your Life article provides an excellent reminder to “eat what you love and love what you eat” [and, incidentally, that is one of the main premises behind my book, Love Thy Food ;)].

In talking about the importance of how we eat, Denise and Meadow Linn mention the sensory and emotional experience of eating in connection with research that includes the French Paradox [ie. why do so many French people eat rich foods and still manage to stay thin? It has much to do with food associations] and the messages that our brain sends to our organs when we eat under the influence of particular emotions.

The psychology of eating is a complex friend indeed. I think the biggest takeaway from this all is that we often overthink the nutrient value of what we eat – to the extent that we stop truly enjoying our food, thus rendering it less beneficial to our bodies. So celebrate when you lift that slab of something delectable to your lips, and it will be that much more delightful to your hips.

I hope that your Christmas was splendid, especially in terms of love and food, and that your New Year is fabulous. Remember to mark down this year’s gratitudes and achievements and, while you’re at it, write down the whimsical, way out dreams you barely dare to breathe. They just may come true.

See you again on the other side,

H :)

27 December 2012 at 9:01pm Leave a comment

Love Thy Food: an intimate traverse into mindful eating

I am proud to let you know that it’s finally here. My ebook, that is. Now available from Amazon – via – and coming soon to the iBookstore. Very exciting indeed.

Love Thy Food - the cover to my ebook

As many of you will be aware, I wrote an ebook in the lead up to launching A Foodly Affair. It was an important step in articulating my mindful eating philosophy, where I had come from and where I was going. Then it was shelved for two years.

This is that ebook, with a few minor revisions.

Here is a sample from my introduction to whet your appetite for more:

I love to be happy and healthy – and I also love to eat. This is very fortunate, as I spend a goodly proportion of each day planning, preparing and consuming food, and I am sure many of you do the same. Also fortunate is the fact that good health and great taste are not mutually exclusive; they magnify each other. Yes, with the eating experience of many years, I can tell you this: love thy food and it will love you back.

When you spend more than a few minutes a day with anyone or anything it is inevitable that a relationship of sorts will form, whether consciously or not. So it is with food.

Our bond with food starts in our very first moments of life when, as infants with mouths full of perfect and untrained tastebuds, we take our first milk and every emotion and experience of our prehistory with it. Food related habits are set deep and early, just as many of our memories and milestones are cemented in important meals or favourite dishes.

Our unified need to eat connects us all inextricably across the cloths of culture and time. As a species, we eat a wide variety foods for wildly different reasons, including sensory pleasure, health, cost, history, socialisation, social pressure and mood. We also eat, of course, for fuel – but the foods we gift to our bodies are intrinsically linked with more than mere sustenance. They influence every bodily function, our mind, our society and our environment as one holistic system. Food is a never ending adventure.

[Gratuitous reminder: if you would like to read more, you can purchase my ebook from Amazon right now!]

Some of you have been on this journey with me from the very beginning, while others have joined in further down the track – and that is just as awesome. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.

H :)

12 December 2012 at 1:13am 6 comments

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