Thursday, June 7, 2012

Morning Berry Smoothie

I’ve been experimenting with smoothies for a few months now, but until now I’ve never remembered to scribble down what I put in the blender. My smoothies typically start with a handful of fruit, some vegetables or green juice followed, rice milk or coconut milk and maybe some whole oats, chia seeds or flax meal. I typically make dairy free smoothies. Here’s one with high antioxidants, I whizzed up just before work this morning. If you need an extra boost add a little matcha green tea powder to this recipe.

Nutritional Content: Per serving (250g) there are 347 calories. This smoothie set’s you up with wholesome carbs, protein as well as high amounts of vitamin A, manganese and dietary fiber for the day.

⅔ cup fresh or frozen mixed berries
2 tablespoons of carrot pulp (leftover juicer pulp) or 1 grated carrot
1 tablespoon rolled oats
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1-2 teaspoons of honey (to taste)
1 cup rice milk (or your choice of alternative milk)
½ cup filtered water
A pinch of cinnamon
Blend all ingredients well (15-20 seconds, should do the trick) and serve in a highball with a smoothie straw.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Root Vegetable Crisps

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative snack, this is the perfect low cost solution.  Eat them as they are or serve alongside a hearty meal to bring a sweet crunch to the dish. This snack is very easy to make.
Nutritional Content: Per serving (35g) there are 56 calories. These crisps are anti-inflammatory with very low in cholesterol and are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C2 and an excellence source in vitamin A.

2 large organic carrots
2 large organic parsnips
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots from one side in a long sweeping motion. Make sure to put a little extra pressure on when peeling. This should create a long strip, tear this in half and continue peeling the carrot on the same side, as you approach the center, take advantage of creating larger strips. Repeat this with the parsnips. You may have some of the vegetable  leftover because is not easy to peel any longer. Reserve these parts for use in other recipes. Prepare two non-stick baking trays by drizzling a tablespoon each of the olive oil and evenly coating the trays with a pastry brush (or using your hands) divide the vegetable strips in half and carefully mix the oil into the strips on each tray. Sprinkle with a half teaspoon of salt for each tray. When ready, bake the vegetable strips on high heat 450°F for 10 minutes. Check the crisps, then mix and turn them over. Now check every 5 minutes, they will be ready when crisp to touch and turning golden in colour. These crisps will cook at different times so make sure you pick out the ones that are already cooked and crisp. Eat right away. To preserve texture make sure they are sealed in an air tight container or zip-lock bag. If they go a little soft they can be refreshed in a warm oven for 2 minutes.

Eggplant & Banana Coconut Curry

I’ve been a little late on posting.. this is a April 2012 challenge: Make your own recipe. The task was to come up with an interesting and tasty meal which incorporated a selection of fruit, vegetables and condiments.  The ingredients I used in this recipe were Eggplant (aubergine), Banana and Balsamic Vinegar.

This recipe is not the healthiest or best option on those trying to avoid inflammatory foods; however it is very good for a treat. This recipe was created with my limited knowledge of Thai cooking and is a simple yet filling dish. Enjoy.
Nutritional Content: Per serving (395g) there are 447 calories. Although very high in saturated fat, it has low cholesterol.  The curry provides a good source of manganese. The dish also contains a broad spectrum of amino acids, meaning it is well balanced in protein content.

2 Italian eggplants (Italian eggplants typically smaller in size) or 5 cups chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 large white onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, freshly pressed or finely diced
1½ inch piece of fresh ginger
1 stick of lemongrass, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of dried chili or chili powder
2 bay leaves (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 pinch cinnamon
1 tablespoon safflower oil  (or groundnut oil)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of agave nectar (or honey)
2 ripe bananas, thickly sliced
1 handful of sugar snap peas
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
1 cup filtered water
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy pan,  lightly fry the eggplants in a little oil to brown the skins. Set the fried eggplants aside.  In the same pan, heat the remainder oil and add the onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili, cumin stir for 2 minutes, add the tablespoon of vinegar as well as the fried eggplant.  Next ass the coconut milk, agave nectar, bay leaves  and snap peas. Cover the pot and set heat to low. After 10 minutes, check consistency and adjust with water and season to taste and add cinnamon. Stir in the banana slices and chopped cilantro until the bananas are heated through. Serve with fresh Thai jasmine or brown rice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flax & Sesame Crackers

Here is a great recipe I came up with when trying to figure out what to do with juicer pulp! Very easy to make and extremely nutritious. This gluten-free, vegan, cracker is perfect for snacking on and is also highly anti-inflammatory.

Nutritional Content:  These crackers are a good source of dietary fiber, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and a great source of omega-3 oils. There are 144 calories per serving (4 crackers).

½ cup ground flax-seed meal 
1 cup carrot juicer pulp (optional)
¾ cup filtered water (reduce amount slightly if not using carrot pulp)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
¾ teaspoon salt
Coconut oil for greasing (or olive oil) 

Makes 20 crackers

Notes about the ingredients: Flax seed meal can be found at health food stores and some supermarkets (I use Bob's Red Mill brand). If you cannot find it ground, you can do this yourself using a food processor or Stone mortar and pestle. Carrot pulp can actually be substituted with any vegetable juicer pulp, bearing in mind the flavor will change, carrot gives this cracker a slightly sweet edge.

Pre-heat the oven to 300°F. In a bowl, combine the flax seed meal, carrot pulp, water, sesame and salt together to form a sticky dough, mix well. Lightly grease a baking sheet with the coconut oil, then spread the dough out, making sure it is level, the thickness I use is about 3-4mm, any thicker it may need longer in the oven. Before baking, score out 20 cracker squares with a knife so it's easier to break. Bake for 25 minutes. Let dry out for 1 hour in the oven, heat turned off. Enjoy with hummus, guacamole or a selection of cheeses.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chicken Liver Pâté with Thyme

Although organ meats are not so common in modern cuisine; they are  highly valued for their nutrition and unique taste. Matt and I eat organ meat occasionally as a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. This pâté will mature and sweeten the longer it rests, I prefer the taste 3 days after making, use sparingly as it is high in cholesterol. This recipe is a slightly adapted version of Food Network’s Terrine De Foies de Volaille.

Nutritional Content: Per serving (44g) there are 110 calories. Although very high in cholesterol, the spread is a great source of protein, iron, selenium, multiple B vitamins (including B6 and B12) and  a source of zinc and copper.

220 grams free range organic chicken livers, cleaned well
½ cup of milk (or your choice of dairy free milk)
2 fresh shitake or chestnut mushrooms finely diced
4 tablespoons of organic ghee (clarified butter)
½ cup of chopped shallots
1 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon green peppercorns, drained (if using dried peppercorns soak in water for 30 minutes first)
3 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons Congac or Brandy
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Notes about the ingredients:  Free Range organic chicken livers are lower in cholesterol and do not have the toxins which accumulate in conventionally raised chickens fed with growth hormones. They are extremely nutritious. Learn more here. Ghee is virtually lactose and casein free due to the milk solids being removed, see how to make ghee at home.

In a bowl, soak the livers in the milk for 2 hour with the bay leaves. Drain well when ready, saving the bay leaves. In a large frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons of ghee over medium-high heat, add the shallots and cook until soft for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chicken livers, diced mushrooms,  half of the peppercorns, the bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until the livers are well browned on the outside and still pinkish and tender on the inside. Add the Cognac or Brandy and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, making sure the livers are still tender. Remove from the heat and let cool, discard the bay leaves. Puree the mix in a food processor whilst adding the remaining ghee. Adjust seasoning to taste and process well. Pack the pâté into ramekins, small pots or tins and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Serve with bread, gluten free crackers or corn chips. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Homemade Tomato Marinara Sauce

This is a very simple recipe for a classic Italian tomato sauce. The key is in the quality of the tomatoes and the slow cook method, brings out the natural sweetness of the onions and tomatoes. No need for added sugar. Use this for all tomato pasta dishes and pizza. It beats canned Italian sauces any day. This can take up to 2 and a half hours to prepare so make in advance and use throughout the week.

Nutritional content: This recipe has a low glycemic load however tomatoes aren’t anti-inflammatory so I currently minimise the amount of dishes with tomatoes. It is low in cholesterol, a good source in Vitamin A and a very good source of vitamin C. Approximately 155 calories per portion.
8 medium to large fresh tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon mixed Italian dried herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme etc.)
1 teaspoon salt
Salt and black pepper to taste
 (makes about 5 portions)

Preparing Fresh Tomatoes
The tomatoes will need to be de-skinned and de-seeded before cooking. The easiest way to do this is to core the tomatoes and heat shock them. To do this cut a cross at the base of each tomato before soaking them in cold water. Prepare a boiling pot of water, pick out the cold tomatoes and drop them into the boiling pot, within 30 seconds you should see their skins loosen. Remove them from the hot water and hand peel the tomatoes. Separate the seeds and reserve them in a separate bowl. Once the tomatoes are chopped, press the juice of the discarded seeded parts with  a sieve and add the juice to chopped tomatoes.

For the Sauce
To make the sauce, heat a large pan over medium–low heat and slowly cook the chopped onions in the olive oil. Stir occasionally and cook until starting to brown, this will take about 10 to 15 minutes. When ready, add the chopped tomatoes, juice and crushed garlic to the pan. Increase the heat to medium for a few minutes, once starting to simmer set the heat to low. Add the salt and dried herbs and let simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally. If you would like to use fresh herbs add them near the end. Season to taste.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Choco-Beet Cupcakes

A month ago Matt and I started on an anti-inflammatory diet in the hope we’d be able to relieve his CFS symptoms nutritionally. The diet eliminates refined sugars of all kind. Much of the sugar’s we’ve been consuming come from root vegetables and fruit alone. I’ve decided to pick up the mixing bowl for the first time with this sugar restriction... what I came up with is a deliciously moist, healthy, gluten-free, lactose and casein-free, sugar-free recipe for chocolate cup cakes.

Nutritional content: Approx 130 calories per cupcake (with icing), they are good source of Vitamin A and very good source of anti-oxidant, Manganese with only 3 grams of sugar per cake.

For the Cake
6 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 tablespoon gluttonous rice flour (sweet rice)
1 teaspoon xanthium gum (optional, provides a better texture)
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 tablespoons organic ghee (clarified butter)
1½ tablespoon of walnut oil
1½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
10 drops liquid stevia
2 free range eggs
½ cup raw beets (finely grated or food processed)
½ cup of raw finely grated carrot (1 medium carrot)
¾ cup filtered water (or as needed)

Vegan Chocolate Icing
¾ cups of soy powder (available in natural/organic food stores)
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or vegetable spread)
5 drops of stevia
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 drops vanilla extract
Water as needed
A small handful of raw cocoa nibs to decorate (optional)

Notes about the ingredients: I use organic ingredients where possible. I feel this is a necessity for ghee and eggs as organic free range produce has better nutritional content  (i.e more omega-3 oils). Ghee is virtually lactose and casein free due to the milk solids being removed from the butter. It is a great alternative to butter for those with dairy allergies, if you cannot find ghee it is easy to make. The beets and carrots are required to provide sweetness and more importantly, structure in the cake where sugar is not present. Agave is a low glycemic index alternative fructose sweetener and is a common raw vegan substitute for sugar and honey. Stevia is a herb with very sweet tasting leaves. It's a natural, calorie-free sweetener which can be purchased in powdered or liquid form, we prefer the liquid in this kitchen!

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F, and ready the muffin tin with cupcake cases. Start by mixing the ghee and oil until well blended.  Stir in the stevia drops, agave and vanilla extract. Sift in the cocoa powder, add the processed beets, carrots, eggs and mix very well. Next, sift in the flours including the baking powder (reserve the baking soda for later). After combining, add the water slowly to create a more fluid batter. Lastly, in a separate bowl, pour the apple cider vinegar with the baking soda so that it fizzes up. Carefully fold this into the cake mix making sure not to stir too much. When ready, spoon the batter into the baking tin. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Leave out on wire racks to cool.

For the icing, mix the coconut oil well until smooth, add the vanilla extract, stevia and sifted cocoa powder mix in the soy powder and slowly add water until a desired consistency is reached. Use when cakes have cooled and finish with cocoa nibs.