Posts filed under ‘eating in’

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 http://www.amazon.com/Love-Thy-Food-intimate-ebook/dp/B00AL82DEM/ – 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

Spring beans

Here’s to spring produce and farmers’ markets and simple recipes made from real foods!

salsified broad beans

One of the things I love most about this season is the broad beans. At Saturday’s markets visit, I gathered together my stash of green pods and promptly spent many minutes at my outside table unwinding my mind as I peeled and chatted and grinned in glee.

This reaction belies my early experiences with these vibrant legumes, musty memories involving flavourless tags of boiled grey leather that almost defied chewing and definitely defied swallowing.

Eating broad beans does not have to be this way. In fact, when consumed young and in season, broad beans are absolutely yummy uncooked with little else to accompany them.

*

Recipe #138: Raw broad bean salsa. I very loosely call this a recipe, because the quantities and even the ingredients themselves are so open to personal taste. This “recipe” serves 4 as a side, an accompaniment to leek fritters, a topping for a soup.

Take 20 or so fresh broad bean pods. Remove the beans from their pods by unzipping them at the seam, and reduce them to their inner bean by pinching and peeling away their skins. I guess you could cook and cool your beans before salsifying them, just be aware they may not have the same fresh taste or textural beauty.

Roughly chop your beans (littler beans can be used whole) and place them into a bowl with handfuls of your favourite soft herbs; I used finely chopped parsley and fennel along with very, very finely minced zest from around half a lemon. Add a generous pinch of salt, a good grinding of pepper, and enough olive oil to make the beans glisten. Let the flavours infuse for about an hour, then taste and season further if desired.

*

Aside from tasting delicious, broad beans (aka “fava/faba/horse beans”) are incredibly healthful too. They contain minerals, such as iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and copper, fibre, Vitamins A, B1 and B6, and are known to be beneficial for digestive, heart, skin, bone, teeth and eye health [1,2].

Another fabulous facet of broad beans is the fact that they contain L-dopa, a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which controls or contributes to mood, sleep, movement, libido (so just about every bodily function!), and it is used to treat Parkinson’s disease [1,2,3].

An aside: A number of references warn not to eat raw broad beans in large quantities due to the presence of phytohemagglutinin, which is a lectin [4,5]. Lectins are types of proteins found in dairy foods and plants, such as grains, legumes, and the nightshade family, and they can cause symptoms including nausea, cramps and diarrhea [5,6,7]. They are not all bad, however; lectins have a useful role to play with respect to differentiating or even deactivating cancer cells [7,8]. While I am aware that some people have experienced rather dangerous reactions, I have never suffered ill effects from eating raw broad beans, and I think that this could be due to the prohibitive effort required to prepare broad beans en masse – plus I am wondering just how much of the lectin content is actually in the skin of the bean, which I compost.

Finally. Broad beans are so steeped in history that I was tempted to include notes on their sacred past, but that was before I discovered Coquinaria, a collection of historical and seminal recipes by an intrepid Dutch collector. Please do take a look at this site, particularly the entry on broad beans. I promise it will expand your culinary horizons.

Ever smiling,

H :)


References:
  1. Nutrition-and-You (2012) “Fava beans nutrition facts” on http://www.nutrition-and-you.com [online]. Available via http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/fava-beans.html; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  2. Organic Authority (2010) “Fava Beans” on Organic Authority [online]. Available via http://www.organicauthority.com/vegetables/fava-beans.html; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  3. Siegenthaler, M. (2003) “Dopamine” on Homepage for Molecular Biology Web Assignments, Davidson College [online]. Available via http://www.bio.davidson.edu/Courses/Molbio/MolStudents/spring2003/Siegenthaler/Dopaminesite.htm; accessed on 28 September 2012.
  4. TheHealthBenefitsOf.com (2012) “Broad Beans” on TheHealthBenefitsOf.com [online]. Available via http://thehealthbenefitsof.com/broad-beans/; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  5. US Food and Drug Administration (2012) “BBB – Phytohaemagglutinin” on Bad Bug Book: Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook [online]. Available via http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/foodborneillness/foodborneillnessfoodbornepathogensnaturaltoxins/badbugbook/ucm071092.htm; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  6. Sisson, M. (2010) “The Lowdown On Lectins” on Mark’s Daily Apple [online]. Available via http://www.marksdailyapple.com/lectins/#axzz2847nfRlw; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  7. Natural Therapy Pages (2008) “Lectins” on ntpages.com [online]. Available via http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Lectins; accessed on 2 October 2012.
  8. Jordinson, M., El-Hariry, I., Calnan, D., Calam, J. and Pignatelli, M. (1999) “Vicia faba agglutinin, the lectin present in broad beans, stimulates differentiation of undifferentiated colon cancer cells” in Gut [online]. Available via http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1727505/pdf/v044p00709.pdf; accessed on 2 October 2012.

3 October 2012 at 11:21pm 5 comments

Eat your flowers

My garden is abloom with ruffles of sunny yellows and bold oranges. Nasturtiums: prettiness so good you can eat it.

orange nasturtium

The entire nasturtium plant above the ground is edible, and each part has a distinctive taste and use:

  • delicately-flavoured flowers are great in salads, wraps and smoothies. I seem to recall a trend of adding flowers to salads in the 70s or 80s; various modern and ancient dishes incorporate floral essences (such as rosewater, orange blossom water, lavender) or tiny buds (eg. violets) as a microherb;
  • the peppery leaves can be used as you would any other soft, green herb in salads, soups and stews;
  • the seeds - apparently you can use these as a substitute for capers (when pickled) and black pepper (dry). On the strength of the one seed that I at yesterday, I could imagine the seeds being used in place of pepper, but my tastebuds and imagination could not be stretched to believe that they could be caper-like in any way (and, yet, I can see myself pickling them just to see) [1].

You may be thinking ‘why…?’, and I am excited to tell you that there are excellent health reasons to consider adding nasturtiums to your meals.

Nasturtiums are high in vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, flavonoids and carotenoids [2]. They also contain an appreciable amount of glucosinolates, or mustard-like oils, which keeps garden pests at bay and explains why they make such good companion plants [3].

It is also because of its pungent oils that this showy South American plant demonstrates antibacterial and even antibiotic properties. While generally considered to be an immunity booster, a 2006 study verifies that nasturtium stems can be used, with horseradish, to directly treat upper respiratory tract and urinary tract infections [3,4]. Other reports state that nasturtiums have historically been used to variously treat liver, kidney, bladder and skin disorders – and oil from the seeds can be used to varnish furniture [5,6].

Health benefits aside, if nasturtiums didn’t taste good, I wouldn’t be eating them – and that’s why I thought I would tempt you toward these edible blooms with the awesome seasonal and superfood-ful smoothie I blended up for my family on Sunday morning.

Recipe #137: The Blooming Good Smoothie. Makes enough for 2 adults and a little person.

You will need:
► 10 nasturtium flowers
► 4 tbsp of bee pollen
► 4 tbsp of lucuma powder
► 3 tbsp of hemp seeds
► 1 tbsp of white chia seeds
► 1 tbsp of maca powder
► ½-1 tsp of turmeric powder [use fresh turmeric if you can access it]
► ½ tsp of ground cinnamon
► 1 banana, skinned
► 1 sweet orange, skin removed
► the flesh from 1 young coconut
► a handful of strawberries
► about 500mL of water kefir [milk kefir or drinking yoghurt would also work well]
► agave syrup, to taste
► just enough water for everything to combine to your desired consistency

Blend all ingredients, except for the agave syrup, together until completely smooth [this will take about 60 seconds at speed 8-10 in a Thermomix]. Taste and adjust the sweetness with agave syrup if needed, then blend for another 10 seconds. Serve topped with a nasturtium flower.

blooming good

Don’t fret if you don’t have all of the ingredients listed here. This recipe literally resulted from a 5 minute consultation with my fridge and pantry, and I encourage you to do the same. For example, if you do not have bee pollen, use honey, yacon syrup or coconut syrup. Use a handful of sunflower seeds instead of the hemp seeds. No maca? Leave it out. So long as you are using raw/whole/organic ingredients with low processing, the end result will be superb and supremely good for you.

All of this has awakened me to the fact that we are constantly surrounded by nutritious and even medicinal plants without necessarily being aware of it. Take a few moments to notice the plants growing in your garden or on your verge. You may be harbouring a superfood without even realising it.

H :)


References:
  1. Christina (2009) “Tropaeolum (aka “Nasturtium”)” on NutsaboutPlants [online]. Available from http://nutsaboutplants.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/tropaeolum-aka-nasturtium/; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  2. Osbourne, G. (2012) “Once were weeds – now superfoods” on The Sydney Morning Herald: life&style [online]. Available via http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/once-were-weeds–now-superfoods-20120823-24om9.html; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  3. Stone, B. (2011) “Benefits of Nasturtium Herb” on Healthguideinfo.com [online]. Available via http://www.healthguideinfo.com/herbal-medicine/p95793/; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  4. Conrad, A., Kolberg, T., Engels, I. & Frank, U. (2006) “Abstract: In vitro study to evaluate the antibacterial activity of a combination of the haulm of nasturtium (Tropaeoli majoris herba) and of the roots of horseradish (Armoraciae rusticanae radix)” on PubMed.gov [online]. Available via http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17260672; accessed on 17 September 2012.
  5. abbas (2011) “Nasturtiums – Edible Flowers: History, Uses and Health Benefits of Nasturtiums: How to Make Nasturtium Salad” on Herbs-Treat and Taste [online]. Available via http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/nasturtiums-edible-flowers-history-uses.html; accessed on 17 September 2012.
  6. HMYG (2009) “Nasturtium for coughs, colds, flu and hair loss” on Herbal Medicine from your Garden (or Windowsill) [online]. Available via http://www.herbalmedicinefromyourgarden.com/nasturtium-health-benefits/; accessed on 17 September 2012.

Addendum of 19 September 2012:
Just discovered: a blog that is focused solely on nasturtium benefits and recipes! http://nasturtiums.wordpress.com/

18 September 2012 at 9:06am 8 comments

Sesame halva

Halva (aka “halwa”, “helva”, “halvah”) is possibly one of the first desserts ever created. You will find it celebrated in innumerable forms, each dependent on its country of origin, and there are many countries willing to claim this sweet treat as their own.

My two-toned raw halva recipe [below] is inspired by this Turkish sesame halva recipe (and this one!), and a recent raw post on Hot Pink Chilli. I developed my version during our recent 4 weeks of 100% raw.

The ingredients I use are raw and organic, comprising hulled tahini as the main ingredient in the vanilla/almond layer for reasons of aesthetics and taste. Unhulled tahini is slightly bitter and more nutrient-rich, and I prefer to use it in the cacao/choc chip layer.

Tahini boasts a number of health benefits, containing nutrients including calcium, manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins B1 & E, zinc, protein and fibre, as well as sesamin and sesamolin.

Recipe #135: Raw two-toned sesame halva. Makes 25+ servings, depending on how small you cut your pieces. My Thermomix (TM) method is shown here, however you could equally use a food processor or decent blender. To mould: a square 20cm silicon cake tin, or a mini muffin tray.

You will need:

- for the vanilla/almond layer -
► 200g tahini
► 50g Brazil nut butter [you can make your own by processing Brazil nuts into a paste]
► 65g honey [you can substitute agave or maple syrup for a truly vegan recipe]
► seeds from 1 vanilla pod [or 1 tsp ground vanilla pods/vanilla essence]
► a decent pinch of salt
► 1/3 cup of activated almonds, roughly chopped
► black sesame seeds, for sprinkling over the top

- for the cacao/choc chip layer -
► 200g tahini
► 50g Brazil nut butter
► 65g honey
► 30g cacao powder
► a decent pinch of salt
► 30g cacao nibs

Start with the vanilla/almond layer. Combine all ingredients in the TM – except for the almonds and sesame seeds – and process on speed 8 for 10 seconds. Use a spatula to ease the mixture from the TM and into a mixing bowl. Fold the almonds evenly through the mixture and set aside.

For the cacao/choc chip layer, place all ingredients except for the cacao nibs into the TM and process on speed 8 for 10 seconds. Add the cacao nibs and process on reverse, speed 3, for 5-10 seconds. Using a spatula, ease this mixture into the cake mould and press down with the palm of your hand until you have a fairly flat layer.

Place the cacao/choc chip layer into the freezer for ~30 minutes, then remove the halva from the freezer and squish the vanilla/almond layer over the top (while still in the mould). Sprinkle with the black sesame seeds and press in lightly with your palm.

Freeze for at least 2 hours before de-moulding, cutting and serving; store in the freezer.

When I first made this recipe, I wasn’t sure about it. I decided that it tasted ‘passable’ and that I would share it here once I had the time to tweak it. The tahini flavour was too strong and it didn’t seem sweet enough for me. But, inexplicably, I needed to test another piece. Then another. And another. Before I knew it, I was making another batch following exactly the same recipe. I was hooked.

So there you have it: my not-so-guilty pleasure. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have.

H :)

14 August 2012 at 3:16pm 5 comments

End of days

Hurrah! We did it! Today is Day 29, meaning that our 28 days of 100% raw are over – and I am excited. I am excited about reaching my goal. I am excited about the health and clarity that I feel. And I am really excited about eating a cooked meal again.

raw noriWhy did we do it?

As I mentioned in my 28 days post, when I first ate 100% raw, it was for health reasons. Diet was certainly not my only lifestyle change but it was certainly a contributing factor and, within weeks of eating my new diet, my skin was clear and I was well.

This time, I committed to 28 days because my partner said, “I’d like to try this.” To which I responded, “Do you realise how much work this is?” and then I added, “Ok.” So it was more about a commitment to my partner and a timeframe than feeling the need within myself.

raw choc mint slice

Physical and emotional changes.

We underwent some major changes, both positive and negative, depending on the day and the perspective.

On Day 1, I was thinking, ‘Ok. I’ve done all this before. I’m already high raw. How hard can this be?’ – which, by the end of Day 2 had converted to, ‘Wow. This is so much work. Was this so much work before? I can’t remember it being so much work before.’ and, on Day 3 was, ‘Man, I’m tired.’ And I recalled that, in 2010, I slept an awful lot during my first week. Sleep was impossible to manage so well this time around; it can be elusive when you have a new baby in the house.

The main physical and mental changes/symptoms we experienced included:

  • Weight loss – great for me overall because I’m now almost at pre-baby weight. As for my partner, who lost 8% of his body weight and was already at a healthy weight before we started, he now finds himself weighing in at a level that has been foreign for over 20 years. A 6kg weight loss in 4 weeks is pretty amazing – especially when weight loss is not one of your goals – but I have to acknowledge that this would most likely have been muscle as well as fat loss, given the short period of time.
  • Blood pressure – I wasn’t so scientific about my measures but my level-headed partner was feeling all scientific (and good on him for doing something I should have!) and had a medical check before and after. The difference in his blood pressure was amazing, decreasing from high-normal (148/86) to an athletic level (110/60).
  • Body temperature – by the end of Day 4, my body temperature (which is naturally low) dropped to an almost hypothermic level, and this improved when I concentrated on adding sea vegetables (iodine!) to at least one of our daily meals.
  • Clear skin and eyes – my skin was good beforehand, and it felt great afterwards too.
  • Energy levels – our energy levels varied from day to day, with lower energy in the first two weeks, and more sustained energy in the latter part of the challenge. Some days I was very fatigued (mostly due to lack of sleep), and I realised that green juice was absolutely material to how vital I felt.
  • Endurance vs strength. When it came to exercise, we experienced a decrease in strength but an increase in endurance. In spite of the huge quantity of good whole and super foods we were eating, we were both active all the time and possibly didn’t consume enough of the right nutrients to build strength.
  • Clarity of thought – I feel like I am thinking more clearly and concisely.
  • Emotional control. Over the course of the 4 weeks, I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – from gratitude and elation, to deep sadness and resentment. And yet now I feel like I am more in charge of my emotions after the 4 weeks.
  • Consciousness about what we put into our bodies and environment. Our new diet precipitated some inspired conversations over the course of the challenge.

A raw food journey can not help but be spiritual as well as mental and physical. At the end of Day 6, my partner and I were talking about the ethics of eating animals, whether supplementation is absolutely necessary, and how processed is too processed – and I was blinded by déjà vu. These were the same questions I started to ask myself in 2010 and, I think, provide fodder for more than one future blog post.

raw halva bites

There were challenges & obstacles aplenty.

The prep. The huge amount of prep time ate into my ‘spare’ and sleep time and I got really super tired.

The food aversions. Try eating raw without coconut oil and agave syrup. It’s not easy.

The cravings. By the end of Week 3, I was feeling pretty much over my raw diet. I craved hot soup and pasta, steamed broccoli, poached free range and organic eggs on real sourdough and a thick salmon fillet with crispy skin, all of which I ordinarily feel can be part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Lack of enjoyment of food – and loss of appetite. By the end of Week 2, I was feeling that something was missing. I ate for calories and nutrients rather than enjoyment, and feeling good about your food is so important to ensure a more complete assimilation of the nutrients in your food. For parts of Week 2 and 3, I felt like I was doing something I didn’t need to do and I felt resentful of my raw diet, yet it was my choice!

wild rice salad with alaria

What I have learned.

Reading the previous section, you may have been led to believe that the 4 weeks was not fantastic for me, and you would be wrong. I have learned so many excellent lessons from this challenge.

The need for interest in our food rekindled my creativity in the kitchen. I am grateful to have a partner who supports me in my foodly research and experiments.

I am thankful for the huge amount of prep time that ate into my ‘spare’ and sleep time. Sleep deprivation and necessity forced me to look at where I was spending my time, which led to some interesting conversations and reprioritisation of my efforts.

My cravings were for reasonably healthful foods. With the exception of pasta, which is processed whichever way you look at it, everything else I craved was warming and wholefoods-based. I feel like I am in tune enough with my body to know what it needs. Right now 100% raw is not it, but I do feel healthiest on a high raw diet.

I feel like I have realigned my body, mind and spirit. We are all on the same page again, more conscious than before. I recognise that I am strong and I listen to my body, and I love the way I feel when I feed my body the best food I can give it.

I also learned that I need the direct injection of chlorophyll that is green juice absolutely everyday. Smoothies don’t cut it for me.

pure energy

In conclusion.

This was hard work and completely unsustainable for our family and the lifestyle we used to enjoy. The sheer amount of prep involved in trying to make our meals appetising as well as raw and healthy has been all-consuming. I was fortunate that my loving partner enjoyed my mashed-together leftovers meals (eg. the nori rolls pictured at the top and bottom of this post) as much as my more creative efforts.

While today I am breathing a sigh of relief, I am also assessing what I can build into our routine to ensure a high level of raw food. I feel that a good set point for our family is 70-80% raw, whole and mainly organic foods.

With breakfast looming and my poached egg craving in the forefront of my mind, I don’t know how my body will handle its first cooked meal. I like the way I feel now. I am never bloated, and I know that I can eat as much as I want and still accidentally lose my excess weight.

I hope this very abridged account of our recent raw food experience has inspired you in some way. It certainly has reinvigorated me.

Finding personal balance is a tough call. I appreciate the lessons this challenge has taught me about my food and self, and I appreciate this opportunity to reset my own foodly philosophy. It’s not often that we allow ourselves the time to take stock and choose our forward path. Where is your path leading you?

H :)

raw nori rolls for our last dinner

17 July 2012 at 9:00am 5 comments

Creamy mushroom soup

This is a post about raw mushroom soup.

yummy mushroom soup

Eating a high raw diet in the winter months can be a real challenge when you naturally crave warmth, and I know as well as anyone just how unfulfilling cold soup can be – especially cold mushroom soup. It may hearten you to discover that this soup is warm, hearty and wholesome at once.

Inspired by this Vegan Sparkles recipe, my version calls for dehydrator ‘sautéd’ mushrooms, with soft flesh and slightly crisp edges. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can just marinate your mushrooms; the flavour won’t be as intense so you may need to add salt.

Recipe #134: Raw Cream of Mushroom Soup. Serves 4. I have detailed instructions for a Thermomix (TM) and thermometer here, but you could equally use a food processor/blender followed by some saucepan time in place of the TM.

You will need:
► 320g marinated, dehydrated mushrooms [You can use any type(s) of mushrooms you fancy. The marination/dehydration method appears below]
► 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in cold water for at least 2 hours
► 2 cloves of garlic
► ½ of a small red onion
► 1 small stick of celery with leaves
► 2 cups of cold water
► the leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
► salt & pepper, to taste

To prepare the mushrooms, slice the mushrooms and coat them in a fairly even mix of tamari, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and olive oil (just add a good lug of each to start with – you can always add more if you run out). Leave these to marinate for at least half an hour, turning them every few minutes to absorb more of the marinade.

Lay the marinated mushrooms on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 41-46°C for 3-5 hours. You want the mushroom pieces to be softened, just hardening around the edges, and to taste delicious. If they don’t taste salty enough, dehydrate them for longer.

To make the soup, start by adding approximately half of the mushrooms to the TM bowl with the cashews (drained), garlic, onion, celery, water and half of the thyme. Blend at speed 10 for 1 minute. Check the soup for flavour and consistency, adding seasoning and more water if needed, and reblend for 15-30 seconds.

Add the rest of the mushrooms and rest of the thyme, then set the TM to reverse speed 3 and 50°C for 10 minutes, checking the temperature with your thermometer once the 50°C light stops flashing [the temperature should be 42-44°C at this point], then at 15-20 second intervals until the heat of the soup reaches 46°C.

Serve in warmed bowls with a yummy garnish – like a swirl of hemp oil and a sprinkling of rawmesan, pepper and dried sage. We enjoyed ours with a slice of onion bread on the side.

another yummy mushroom soup

I am so excited about this warming recipe and I hope that you are too. Have a fabulous weekend!

H :)

*** Newsflash: my last public class for 2012 is now happening on 8 August [class details here]. After much planning and searching of soul, I am reducing A Foodly Affair‘s services until at least February next year. Thanks so much for understanding, and I hope to see you at my Chocolate Cravings class! ***

13 July 2012 at 11:35pm 5 comments

For when it’s cold outside and you need a hug from the inside

This post is your introduction to my latest indulgence and your induction into something special. So special, in fact, that it took me three attempts to bring you a picture – because I kept drinking it too quickly to photograph!

raw hot chocolate

I have spent a few glorious minutes of the last two cold Perth nights curled up on the couch with my latest invention: raw hot chocolate. Even with my changing tastebuds [we're now into Day 12 of our 28 days], I know that this is darn good.

It took me a while to unstick myself from my nutty nog, which I still enjoy so much, and I only did so because I felt I had to really; in the ritual of making and drinking this latest creation, I answered a primal calling.

Recipe #133: Hot Chocolate in the Raw. This is a Thermomix (TM) recipe that also uses a nut milk bag and thermometer, however you can easily adapt this for blender + saucepan on the stove, just watch the temperature of your milk carefully as you heat it. Makes 4 regular mugs’ worth of deliciousness.

You will need:
► 2 cups of almonds, soaked overnight
► 4 cups of water
► 2 heaped tbsp of cacao powder [Warning: this gives a full-on chocolate hit. If you're in any way unsure, I recommend starting with 1 tbsp and adding more to taste.]
► seeds scraped from ½ of a vanilla pod
► ¼ cup of agave syrup [or you could use panela, rapadura]
► ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
► 1/8 tsp chilli powder
► a good grating of nutmeg
► a good pinch of salt
► a relaxed and loving attitude [seriously, it makes a difference!]

First, make the nut milk. Blend together the pre-soaked almonds and water [TM: 30 seconds on speed 8, then 30 seconds on speed 10]. Strain into the TM bowl through a nut milk bag.
>Don’t discard the leftover almond meal! You can stir it into your chia porridge, add it to your next protein bar mix, or add some seeds and dehydrate it into muesli.

Next, add all the other ingredients to the TM and set to 5 minutes, 50°C and speed 5. Note that you are only aiming to heat the milk to ~46°C. In my experience this occurs sometime between 2 and 2½ minutes, so check progress with your thermometer every 15 seconds or so once you reach the 1½ minute mark.

To complete the experience, pre-heat your mugs to 46°C for a few minutes in your dehydrator before pouring your hot chocolate.

This is a very rich drink that you can tone down by adding less cacao powder or more plain nut milk. And you really do have to trust me on the chilli powder. It’s just enough to add a little more warmth without creating spicy heat.

This flavour explosion truly hit the spot for me. It’s a shoulder to snuggle into, a hug from the inside out, a lazy hour reading by an open fire. Enjoy!

H :)

30 June 2012 at 1:03pm 4 comments

28 days

This 28 days bears no resemblance to the zombie movie of the same name. It’s about going back to basics and also about reconnecting with the awesome me that I experienced when I first ate 100% raw food in 2010 for over 2 months. This time, I am only committing to 4 weeks of 100% raw. Easy peasy, right?

yummy ravioli

From last Tuesday, 19 June, my household is eating 100% raw for 4 weeks. We prepared by gradually moving from 80-100% raw over the course of about a week and I made a few essentials, like herb crackers (from “Raw Food, Real World”), zucchini hommous, onion bread (adapted to our tastes from Rawvolution’s famous recipe). I also created a few non-essentials, like velvet chocolate cheesecake and cashew vanilla icecream. Yum.

cashew vanilla icecream

This is our ninth day in and it’s becoming easier as we go.

When you eat 100% raw, a number of interesting things happen. Your body and brain start to operate differently. You may feel fluey during the first week or two. The cravings during the first few days in particular can be overwhelming. All of this is par for the course, and a good reason to set a finite timeframe for the challenge because all of these changes can be off-putting.

After the first two-ish weeks, however, your body starts to normalise, your mind becomes crystal clear and you feel so much more energised. We are starting to feel this happen for us. It’s like the build-up in the wet season; bring on the rain, I say!

At first, our biggest challenge was keeping interest and variety in our meals whilst also managing to get on with life. For the first four days, most of my waking hours were spent in the kitchen. This was hard work and completely unsustainable for our family. [And I know my better half values his life too much to tell me this, but I am pretty sure I was a little short-fused from Day 5-6.]

Some of our more notable main meals have included:

Some of these recipes will follow in future posts – as will more desserts!

mushroom soup

Over the last three days, we have been eating greener and simpler. Once I took stock of the fact that I am working two jobs and feeding me, a man (= 2 x me), a 7-year old (sometimes), a 4-year old and a baby (solids and breastmilk) every meal and snack from scratch, I stopped trying to be perfect and focused on the essentials in life and food. Now most meals comprise a dehydrated ‘bread’ and a selection of salads, perhaps with a selection of fruit and nuts, cashew nut cream and/or raw ‘cheese’. And sometimes we have dessert.

As for snacks, we have been eating:

  • smoothies. Many smoothies;
  • activated almonds with goji berries and cacao nibs;
  • two-toned raw halva – made according to a recipe I modified from Hot Pink Chilli;
  • Medjool dates;
  • fresh fruit; and
  • veg sticks with raw zucchini hommous.

So here we are on Day 9. One of us is nursing an onion bread addiction, I am craving greens instead of pasta, and we are eating and drinking lots and lots and lots of nurturing plant-based foods. I’d say we have almost found our groove.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In case you are interested, there is more to come.

H :)

PS. Other foodly tidbits:

  • My next class still has a place for you! Winter Warmers is running on 4 July at the beautiful Maylands Yacht Club. Cost is only $100. I would love to see you there! Book via: 0468 830 114 / hello@afoodlyaffair.com
  • Annette at Wellness WA has initiated “Green July”, a month of green juices/smoothies, as an alternative to Dry July. I think it’s an awesome idea so I have signed up. Will you?
  • Joel Serra Bevin, a fellow MasterChef 2009 contestant, has now launched his own foodie tours business in Barcelona. Named for his great grandfather, Papa Serra promises a culinary journey like no other. Yay Joel!

27 June 2012 at 4:03am 4 comments

Pasta puttanesca

This salty-fishy dish of dubious origins has been a firm favourite since my university days, however I had never tried it raw until my recent raw degustation at CNR. It was so delicious and true to taste that I vowed to recreate it at home, which I did a few days ago – with the help of a willing partner, who performed most of the grunt work.

raw pasta puttanesca

The noodles in this recipe are made from spiralised zucchinis (courgettes), which are technically just out of season in Perth, however I was still able to source decent local zucchinis from an organic grower at yesterday’s markets. That said, you can substitute carrot or butternut pumpkin for the zucchini in this recipe.

Recipe #131: Pasta puttanesca. Serves 2. You will need a spiraliser or peeler to make this recipe, and a mortar & pestle would also come in handy.

You will need:
► 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
► a small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
► a few good lugs of olive oil
► 2 tomatoes, seeds & skin removed – then diced [optional: and bashed with a mortar & pestle]
► 1 large handful of kalamata olives, pitted and cut into 1/8 pieces [optional: and bashed a little with a mortar & pestle]
► 1 small handful of capers, drained [optional: and bashed a little with a mortar & pestle]
► 2 heaped tbsp of oregano, finely chopped
► 2 heaped tbsp of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
► a good pinch of salt
optional: 1 tsp of lemon zest
► 2 zucchinis

For the sauce, combine the garlic, chilli and olive oil together and let stand while preparing the other ingredients. Mix all ingredients, except for the zucchinis, together. That’s your sauce made.

The bashing with the mortar & pestle releases the flavours of the ingredients and makes the final consistency of the dish a little more saucy, but it really is optional.

Prepare the pasta just before serving, by either spiralising (for thin noodles) or peeling (for pappardelle style noodles) the zucchinis into strips.

Combine the noodles and sauce, adding extra olive oil if it lacks a glossy sheen. Serve into flat bowls, top with raw parmesan and devour. Yummy.

raw pasta puttanesca again :)

What is raw parmesan? I hear you ask. It’s a very simple blend of ingredients and, while it is not made from cheese per se, it does taste remarkably cheesy when sprinkled over raw pasta.

Recipe #132: Raw parmesan. A food processor, Vitamix or Thermomix would come in really handy for this recipe.

You will need:
► 100g freshly shelled walnuts
► 50g sunflower seeds
► 35g nutritional yeast
► 1½ tsp Himalayan salt, finely ground
► 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
► 1/8 tsp chilli powder
► a good grinding of black pepper

raw parmesan ingredients

Start by grinding the walnuts and sunflower seeds by pulsing with your food processor/TM until you reach a crumb-like consistency [as you can see in the images above; you can grind the ingredients more or less, depending on your preference]. Mix in the other yeast, spices and salt until well combined. Taste; add more salt/pepper as needed, or a little more yeast if it doesn’t taste cheesy enough. Now it’s fabulous and ready to be used immediately, or to be stored in the fridge for later use.

Wishing you a fabulous week,

H :)

10 June 2012 at 1:21am 8 comments

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