Posts filed under ‘recipes’

Conquering a mountain with (samphire) salad

I can’t remember when or how it happened; it just did. One meal I didn’t pick up my camera to take a photo before eating. Then before I knew it, a day, a week, a month, three months had passed, with no food photos. And that coincided – or is that culminated? – with no blog posts for a while.


Sometimes assembling a blog post can seem an Andean effort when you are caught up in the flurry of other stuff that is life. Then you remember that wellness is not only about what you put into and onto your body. Sometimes you just need to remember to breathe and know what to let go.

My quest for balance and mindfulness sees me spending less time online and more time with my husband, being mum, reading, writing and singing to my mustard seedlings, as I slowly learn what it is to work smarter. It’s not any less hard but it is incredibly enriching.

On the work front, I am proud to be involved with The Forever Project, with which I co-presented two workshops involving the dynamic Chris Ferreira and illustrious Steve Wood as part of this year’s Kings Park Festival.

In the lead-up to Saturday’s food theatre, I was asked to use samphire in my dishes – and this led to an unexpected journey of discovery. I had to figure out what on earth samphire was, how to find and harvest it, and how to eat it.

Now I have stir-fried this native herb with vegies, blanched it with hot broth, steamed it with broccoli, nibbled on it neat, and enjoyed it raw in a salad. I find its mild saltiness quite delicious, and am very excited to now have my own plant to nurture, with thanks to a certain nursery owner.

20130928 samphire_plant

*** Important note: if you’re planning to forage for samphire along the Swan River, you will need a permit (and I assume you would now get this from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, as it is subsuming the Swan River Trust…). ***

Rich in folate and vitamin C [1], samphire may just be the latest superfood [2]. It has a salty, fennel-like flavour and certain varieties appear to be related to fennel [3]. As a pickle, samphire has been used to combat scurvy on long sea voyages [4].

the remnants from Saturday's tasting...

the remnants from Saturday’s tasting…

This is an opportunistic salad, as those who came along on Saturday will know. I used what was seasonal and available while attempting to balance saltiness, sweetness, tartness, texture, colour, smell, and more. I encourage you to change the recipe to match your supplies/taste rather than spend a lot of money on specific ingredients.

Recipe #143: Samphire salad. Serves 4 as a side. The only utensils you need for this recipe are a knife, chopping block, serving bowl and glass jar.

You will need – for the salad:
► 3 x 10-15cm sprigs of raw samphire, finely chopped [remove and compost any woody segments before you chop]
► 1/3 of a small red onion, finely sliced
► a handful of young asparagus spears, sliced into 2-3cm lengths
► 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, each tomato sliced in half
► 1 overflowing handful of salad greens, roughly chopped [I used wild rocket]
► a handful of goji berries
► [optional] fennel flowers, cut from 4-5 umbels [yes, 'umbel' is the formal name for the 'umbrella' to which the flowers are attached]
► a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

You will need – for the dressing:
► 1 clove of garlic, smashed
► 3 fine slices of fresh ginger
► ~40mL of your favourite vinegar [I used a mix of apple cider and coconut balsamic vinegars]
► ~60mL of good olive oil

Start by making the dressing. Place all ingredients into a jar. Seal the jar tightly and shake vigorously. Set the dressing to one side. Shake and strain just before adding it to the salad.

To make the salad, combine all salad ingredients, except for the walnuts and fennel flowers. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to make the rocket leaves glossy. Sprinkle the walnuts and fennel flowers (if you have them) over the top of the salad. Serve and enjoy.

I did not add salt to my salad because of the natural salt content of the samphire, however you may want to season to taste.

Final note

20131002 cacaocherryslice

You could be making and tasting this delectable cacao-cherry slice if you come to my class this Sunday; there is still a place just for you! Book by emailing or calling: 0468 830 114.

Stay well until next time (and it really is lovely to see you here again!),

H :)

Samphire references:

[1] Think Natural (undated) “Medicinal plants: Samphire” on Available online via; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[2] Meldrum, J. (2013) “Samphire: The Next Superfood?” on Weekend Notes. Available online via; accessed on 26 September 2013.
[3] Plants for a Future (2012) “Crithmum maritimum – L.” on Available online via; accessed on 1 October 2013.
[4] The University of Western Australian (2012) “Adaptations 4: Surviving Extremes (fact sheet)” on Available online via; accessed on 1 October 2013.

2 October 2013 at 11:35pm 2 comments

Chocolate & beetroot

While I ordinarily enjoy the witticisms and observations sandwiched between the pages of The Flavor Thesaurus (my excellent Mothers Day present), I respectfully disagree with author Niki Segnit’s comments regarding chocolate and beetroot [1]:

In chocolate beet cake, the cocoa almost entirely overwhelms the beet flavor, leaving nothing but a hint of its earthiness, which make the cake taste like a cheap chocolate cake that’s been dropped in a flowerbed.

the cake

You may have already heard of or fallen in love with red velvet cake – a chocolate cake that is coloured red, either by red food colouring, beetroot or the reaction of vinegar and buttermilk with light cocoa [2].

When my friend Tiina shared her raw chocolate beetroot cake with me a few weeks ago, my tastebuds were tickled and my brain buzzed with new possibilities.

Enter today’s recipe, which is uncooked and features both beetroot and cacao in generous proportions. The main points of distinction between this and your usual chocolate beetroot cake recipes are that the cacao, beetroot and other ingredients are raw, no flour/eggs/refined sugar are featured, and there is no baking involved.


I am really happy with the end result, with its complementary variations in flavour and texture. The base is biscuity, the cake is moist, and the topping is light and creamy. The only thing I would do differently for next time is to pass the mousse through a fine chinois (fine mesh strainer) to make it even smoother and fluffier.

Recipe #142: Raw red velvet cake. Or you may prefer to know this cake by its full title: Hannah’s Version of Tiina’s Delicious Chocolate Beetroot Cake. You will need a food processor or Thermomix [TM] to make this recipe.

You will need – for the biscuit base:
► 140g raw cashews, ground into meal
► 140g shredded coconut
► 50g dates (I use medjool)
► 50g raw honey (I favour jarrah, but any will do – or you could substitute agave syrup, yacon syrup, coconut nectar or more dates)
► 50g goji berries
► 40g cacao powder

- for the cake filling:
► 2 medium-sized beetroots, cut into quarters
► 140g almonds, ground into meal
► 45g almond flour (made from dehydrated pulp leftover from making nut milk. You could substitute for this by doubling the amount of almond meal)
► 140g macadamia nuts, ground into meal
► 35g cacao powder
► 1 decent pinch of Himalayan salt

- for the mousse topping:
► 140g dates (use whole dates, don’t worry if you are slightly over or under 140g)
► 35g cacao powder
► 1/2 small avocado
► 6 tbsp of olive oil
► 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
► 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder
► [optional] a swirl of agave syrup (for extra sweetness, if needed. You could also use more dates)

Start by making the base. Place all the biscuit base ingredients into your food processor and process until the fine crumbs of mixture stick together like dough when pressed [TM: less than 30s on speed 8]. Press the mixture into a lined cake tin (I used a 20cm round springform tin) and place into the freezer while you make the cake filling.

To make the cake filling, process all ingredients until the mixture looks like semi-cooked cake dough [TM: speed 6-7 for up to 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go]. You may need to add a little water to help the mixture to process effectively.

Remove the cake tin from the freezer and spread the fresh cake filling evenly over the top of the biscuit base, pressing it slightly at the sides to ensure there are no air bubbles. You will need to work fairly quickly, as the mixture will darken (oxidise) from red to brown on contact with the air. When you have an even surface, place the cake into the freezer for a few minutes while you make the topping.

For the mousse topping, process all ingredients together until the mousse is completely smooth. This may take a few minutes [TM: speed 7-8 for a few seconds at a time then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat these steps as often as needed]. Add more olive oil – or macadamia oil is also fabulous – if your end result is not creamy enough, a little water (a trickle at a time) if your mix is too thick to process, or agave syrup if you need more sweetness.

The mousse topping is a variation on the avocado mousse from my chocolate uncooking class, incorporating much less avocado than I have previously advocated. By using only part of an avocado, you lose the avocado flavour while retaining the creamy consistency.

Spread or pipe the mouse over the top of the cake and it’s ready to enjoy – in a modest slice with a dollop of cashew nut cream [= 2 cups of presoaked raw cashews blended with lemon juice + 4 dates + a pinch of salt] and your favourite chill out track playing in the background.


Thank you to Tiina for the inspiration!

H :)

[1] Segnit, N. (2010) The Flavor Thesaurus, Bloomsbury, New York.
[2] Beard, J. cited in Wikipedia (2013) “Red velvet cake” in Wikipedia. Available online via [last acessed: 15/06/2013].

16 June 2013 at 11:22pm 8 comments

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

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

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

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 :)

  1. Nutrition-and-You (2012) “Fava beans nutrition facts” on [online]. Available via; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  2. Organic Authority (2010) “Fava Beans” on Organic Authority [online]. Available via; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  3. Siegenthaler, M. (2003) “Dopamine” on Homepage for Molecular Biology Web Assignments, Davidson College [online]. Available via; accessed on 28 September 2012.
  4. (2012) “Broad Beans” on [online]. Available via; 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; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  6. Sisson, M. (2010) “The Lowdown On Lectins” on Mark’s Daily Apple [online]. Available via; accessed on 1 October 2012.
  7. Natural Therapy Pages (2008) “Lectins” on [online]. Available via; 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; 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 :)

  1. Christina (2009) “Tropaeolum (aka “Nasturtium”)” on NutsaboutPlants [online]. Available from; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  2. Osbourne, G. (2012) “Once were weeds – now superfoods” on The Sydney Morning Herald: life&style [online]. Available via–now-superfoods-20120823-24om9.html; accessed on 16 September 2012.
  3. Stone, B. (2011) “Benefits of Nasturtium Herb” on [online]. Available via; 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 [online]. Available via; 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; 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; accessed on 17 September 2012.

Addendum of 19 September 2012:
Just discovered: a blog that is focused solely on nasturtium benefits and recipes!

18 September 2012 at 9:06am 8 comments

Squeaky clean

These jars contain my deodorant and toothpaste.

homemade toothpaste & deodorant

As you may be able to tell, I made them myself. And, yes, my toothpaste is a soft shade of pink.

I am constantly amazed at the health, beauty and household cleaning potions we can cheaply concoct for ourselves from pantry basics. If you’re like me, you always have extra virgin coconut oil in stock and its naturally antimicrobial property makes it an excellent base for personal hygiene products.

After reading Olive on Blonde’s recent adventures in DIY toothpaste and deodorant, and this toothpaste recipe from Food Matters, I got all inspired to do the same. Making my own deodorant and toothpaste was not too huge a stretch for me, especially considering that I have alternated between coconut oil and olive oil as my face/body moisturiser for the last two years, and I have used my own unsoap for months at a time.

The deodorant recipe I followed was basically the same as Olive on Blonde’s, and I used lavender essential oil as well as a Peace and Calming blend (both Young Living oils) to scent my creation.

My toothpaste, however, is a little different to other recipes I have come across, mostly by virtue of my inability to source pure Stevia or vegetable-based glycerine near to me in spite of multiple attempts. As a result, my end product is flakey and gritty and not really pastey. It’s more of a toothpaste crumble, actually; I quite like it.

Recipe #136: Minty, Thievesy Toothpaste. Makes 200-250mL. The oils I use come from Young Living, but you could use any good, organic oils.

You will need:
► 12 heaped tsp of bicarbonate of soda
► 3 heaped tsp of finely ground salt [I used Himalayan salt, hence the pinkness]
► 3 Tbsp of extra virgin coconut oil
► 15 drops of peppermint essential oil
► 10 drops of Thieves essential oil blend
► Love + tender thoughts

Mix the bicarb and salt with the coconut oil until a thick paste forms. Add your essential oil(s) and combine really well, then place in a jar/container to store. To use your toothpaste, lift out a small amount with a spoon or small spatula, then apply it to your toothbrush; wash the spoon/spatula between uses.

my toothpaste

Because Perth is in Winter and coconut oil is solid under ~25°C, I crumble a little paste from a mustard spoon onto my toothbrush and let it melt into a mushy paste in my mouth. You may prefer instead to soften your paste by running your container under hot water for a few moments, or you can add glycerine for its sweetish flavour and gooey sensation.

Combined with oil pulling, my new toothpaste is giving me teeth that feel cleaner and fresher than ever before and I actually enjoy the mildly salty flavour. I am excited by the facts that I have made it myself, that it is free of fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate (and other nasties), and that I can mix personalised flavour combinations for future batches. My head is spinning with imaginings of cinnamon-orange, ginger-grapefruit, lemon-thyme, pepper-rose…

While purchasing good base ingredients may seem expensive, a little does go a long way and you will find yourself saving your money as well as your health in the long run. Plus, because DIY health and beauty involves far less packaging, it is also a more sustainable way to live.

I hope you enjoy – and, as always, please let me know what you think.

H :)

PS. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Em!

25 August 2012 at 11:17pm 10 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

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