Archive for April, 2012

Home-made Nutella

This all began when I decided to make Ria Collection Cupcakes with Isaac. He is the only child who would not be reduced to tears if I mashed up an avocado into the cupcake mixture. Not that the girls don’t like avocado’s- they love them. But not in the context of a chocolate cupcake. They’ll get there one day, I’m sure  🙂

Recipe: Follow this link here: Ria’s Collection Blogspot

Tips:

  • I used the blender to whizz the avocado and sugar and water, rather than just mash with a fork. Mmmmm, sweet silky green stuff. It was delicious!
  • I used spelt flour which is “lighter” than wholewheat flour.
  • The recipe called for 1t bicarb of soda and 1t baking powder, and I accidentally used 1t bicarb of soda, and 1t arrowroot. Always read the label.

Verdict: Could have done with being a little more chocolatey, and possibly sweeter – for me it was fine, not sure if most kids would approve, but maybe with some chocolate chips thrown in, they would. Texture: very light and moist, despite my raising agent mess-up.

Raising agent impoverished muffins

And so it went that I felt they needed a little frosting.

And so it was that I remembered that my husband had recently asked me to make him some “healthier Nutella” (Spanish readers: Nocilla) and that was why I had a bag of hazelnuts in the cupboard.

And so it was that as Isaac boogied to his Spanish singalong DVD “Cantajuegos” I whipped up some healthier Nutella.

Note: Nutella ingredients goes like this: Sugar. Vegetable oil. Hazelnuts (*veryverysmall*%)  A few other additions

I figured that A. would not approve of a low-fat version using only the natural oils from the hazelnuts. I was shooting for easily spreadable. I also figured honey would give it too strong a flavour that would mask the hazelnuts, so I opted for using roasted hazelnuts, walnut oil, and Sucanat.  (Sucanat is made from sugar cane that has been squeezed of all it’s juice, and the juice is then gently dehydrated. If used as-is, it is supposed to have most of the minerals of the original plant. It has a kind of deep caramelly flavour. You can buy it in some health food shops)

There are many different ways you could do this, and I was more trying to imitate the shop taste, rather than do a super-duper highly-healthy spread. Though this is definitely healthier than the shop version.

  • Dry roast 100grams (1 cup) of hazelnuts in a frying pan.
  • Rub the roasted nuts between your palms to remove any bits of flaky skin (eeeeeeuw. Bad choice of words! Moving on..!!)
  • Process in your mini chopper until you have a nut butter (Note: I cheated. My chopper was smoking. It was almost there, but I decided to just put the oil in, hence slightly grainy texture)
  • Add 1 T of unsweetened cocoa powder (Oh no! Or was it 1/2Tablespoon? How did I not write this down? Start with half, process with the sugar and oil, and taste-test)
  • Add 4T of mild-tasting oil
  • Add 4T sugar.
  • Process again.  (Note: I tasted after 3T and for me it was sweet enough, but I pushed the boat out. It was Friday)
  • Admire your handiwork.

A little grainy, and possibly (?!) a tad oily… but with only 3 ingredients, made at home in 15 minutes, a considerably higher percentage of hazelnuts than 13%,  and pretty darned tasty, thank you.

 

Spread on a split banana, or spelt pancakes, or swirl it into banana soft-serve, or on crackers….Enjoy! It is SO GOOD.

Atop aforementioned vegan muffin

White bean and roasted garlic dip

Heavens above- it’s a recipe! On a food blog. As in, a proper recipe, with ingredients, instructions and a photo taken in my own home. It’s been a while.

I have been meaning to try bean-based dips/pates for a while, as they are so fibre-filled and -bonus-affordable, but lend themselves so well to gungey-pastey spreadable concoctions. It’s all about knowing what to add to them I guess. So here is number 1!  And it was SO delicious. It was a recipe that is floating around in various forms when you google “white bean dip”. But first- the notes!

  1. This recipe calls for 1/2 a can (1 cup) of white beans. If you don’t have any soup or salads that you can conveniently toss the leftovers into, you can freeze the beans for another day
  2. If using canned beans, rinse them well.
  3. The extra small clove of raw garlic was my addition, I think it worked
  4. The nutritional yeast was also my addition. I just love the savoury flavour it adds, and I am not sure what you could substitute it with. But it was pretty delicious with the garlic, oil and lemon, believe me.
  5. Other possible additions could include fresh dill, basil, roasted red peppers, tahini, black pepper, smoked paprika, etc
So. You need:
  • 1 cup of cooked white beans (I used cannelini)
  • 1 head of roasted garlic (Instructions here)
  • 2T of extra virgin olive oil  (Most recipes call for more )
  • 3 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 small clove of crushed raw garlic
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion
  • 2 Tablespoons Nutritional yeast

You know the rest. Mini chopper or food processor. Process until smooth and creamy.

a sprinkling of smoked paprika...

Serve with:  Raw veggies or crackers (“sweet onion” ryvita combine perfectly, I had several) or use as a spread- maybe for a wholewheat salad pitta. Beans may not be raw and colourful but they definitely count in your list of  “five nine-a-day” awesome plant foods.

Note to self: Crisps do not count as a vegetable, so I won’t be counting the ones I had so much fun dunking in the bean dip last night  🙂

A Chinese proverb

“Eating what stands on one leg (plants)

is better than eating what stands on two legs (poultry, game)

which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs)”

 

 

 

Brown Food

So, as I mentioned in this post here, there is Green Food. And there is Beige Food.

Green Food is full of life-force. Beige is dead and is going to sap your energy and eventually, your health.

I keep the beige and green definitions broad because I don’t like nutritional dogma.

For example- to my mind, Green Food is plant food, with an abundance of raw.  I personally advocate a diet based on mainly whole plant foods, and animal proteins if eaten, more as a condiment  to the diet than a mainstay.

However,  it is worth pointing out that there are animal proteins which are far more green than beige. A fast food burger laden with strange ingredients  is definitely beige. A cut of organic meat may definitely be considered greener especially when the animal is raised out of doors, (I mean really out of doors) eating Green Food, such as grass. So think  More Green and No/Less Beige within your own way of eating.  You all know what to do…

Which brings me to, Brown Food.

A category in it’s own right, because of the status it holds in many people’s lives.

Yep- I’m talking about chocolate. I don’t know many people that don’t love that stuff. I know I do.

I am here to tell you, for those that are interested that you can make Brown Food that is Green!! Or definitely …Greener.  And no Beige ingredients like sugar, cream, and so on. (By the way, while studies have shown that cacao does have habit forming chemicals, I think the amount to be found in an average bar is so small, that it’s probably the sugar and creamy mouth-feel that is so habit forming.  Mmmm!)

The simplest ever home-made chocolate requires:

1.FAT

2.SWEETNESS

3.CHOCOLATE FLAVOUR

Okay, so it’s no salad. If we wanted a salad, we would eat salad. But, it can still be healthy! Let’s look at these one by one.

FAT can be either extra Virgin cold-pressed coconut oil (which, though not a wholefood, is very green in my opinion, and a very nurturing fat) or organic cacao butter (purchase online) . These must be gently melted and will produce solid chocolates (though the coconut oil will only stay solid while refridgerated) If you are after a kind of frosting consistency, your fat can be avocado (yes, really) or for a stiffer mixture, you could use cashew butter or raw almond butter.

SWEETNESS I Guess if you wanted to be hyper green, you could sweeten only with dates. I made some chocolate sweetened only with dates over Lent and it was nice, a bit more intense…but I probably wouldn’t do it again  🙂   Otherwise you choose a sweetener which is “more green” than table sugar (beige) or syrups like high fructose corn syrup (also beige). Your options might be: Unpasteurised honey (also known as raw honey), maple syrup, agave nectar, Sucanat (dehydrated cane juice, found in most health food stores) or whichever you prefer. It will depend on your palate or dietary preferences.

CHOCOLATE FLAVOUR Unsweetened cocoa powder (if you can afford organic, fairtrade- all the greener!) or raw (unroasted) cacao powder.  This is quite a polarising product in the world of nutrition. Some believe  it is a superfood- a food from the Gods as it was originally named. Others swear they almost trip on it if they are not careful with quantities, along with various unpleasant side effects. Again- I think it is about moderation and tuning in to how your body reacts to a food. It’s expensive; I have never even tried it.  (It’s very rich in magnesium, but so are pumpkin seeds)

ADDITIONS like orange or almond extract, nuts, seeds, freeze dried berries, dessicated coconut, even wholegrain puffed rice or oats for alternative “cluster-cakes”.

Here are some I made using cacao butter, cocoa and honey, almond extract, and a whole almond in the centre.  I think every kitchen deserves some beautiful chocolate moulds, don’t you?

Almond Delights

 Tonight I am making alternative peanut butter cups with the kids. (actually Ellie hates them, she is not a dark chocolate lover…but she loves to help make them, and doesn’t seem to care that she is not eating them??!!)

As a very general (flexible) guideline, for cacao butter chocolates I use a 30:40:50 ratio (30grams cocoa, 40grams cacao butter, 50grams honey) When I use c0 coconut oil, I do 20:30:50 (20grams cocoa, 30 grams coconut oil, 50grams honey) For more details see my “raw treats” section under desserts or Google “Raw chocolate”, and for some specific tips on cacao butter, see this post

And now- lunch! With chocolate for dessert.

Because Brown Food can be Green too.

Or is it…Because Brown Food need not be Beige ?

Suggestions on a postcard, or in the comments below.

How green you are! “Green veggie power soup”

I know what you’re thinking. Not another bowl of green!!

I promise to do something else soon. Like some healthier baking. Some almond chocolates. Or a big family vegetable lasagne (dairy free) Some sorbets. In the hope that it gets warm enough to warrant them?

But today friends, green. And lots of it.

My friend posted this link up, and Lo and behold- I had pretty much all the ingredients save the green beans. I felt duty bound to prepare it immediately, and if you don’t quibble about quantities, working on the chuck-it-all-in principle, it is extremely quick to whip up (less than 15 minutes I’d say) Here is the website for the recipe.

Once cooked, blend and season to taste. (I added bouillon powder during the cooking, and salt/nutritional yeast at the end)  I blended my spinach in raw, because, why not?  I think a small clove of raw garlic would not have gone amiss either. It was beautiful and vibrant and …green..and my son refused to eat it!   So I consumed it all, and thoroughly enjoyed it. His lunch was quite Green….just not green in colour. He looked actually indignant when I offered it to him!

That’s all for now. I can hear my little man coughing up in bed….he should have had my power soup at lunchtime  🙂

Moments of satisfaction: “Fasts”, Facebook groups, Green smoothies, and Green Icing.

Okay, seriously exciting thing happened for a leaf-loving blogger yesterday. I was already feeling quite Green, as a friend and I did a juice-and-smoothie fast for a short time this week, and I have to say it was so refreshing. I was amazed at how I felt so full- yet “light”.  It didn’t last long, because I like to…well, you know…chew food, but I carried on eating a ton of Green Food, and no Beige Food at all, and I really felt grand. (See this post here for my thoughts on Green Food and Beige food)

Simultaneously, my friend added me to a Facebook group for an exercise support group (Jillean Michaels)  I wasn’t too interested in it to be perfectly honest- I do like exercise DVD’s from a practical “don’t have to leave the house” point of view, but I am trying to get back into cycling again. I was just about to unsubscribe from the group, when someone mentioned she wanted to try “those green power juices that are everywhere on Pinterest”. Of course this was music to my ears- I could barely wait to post one of  my favourite and simplest green Smoothie recipes:

“Half a cantaloupe melon, 2-3 handfuls of babyleaf spinach. Instructions: Blend, drink, rejoice!”

Immediately another group member said that she too enjoyed them (with her children too) and from then on in, within 24 hours, the group wall was awash with photos of beautiful green drinks, recipes, and posts for suggested shopping lists. Enthusiasm abounded, and shopping trips were rapidly organised. We were Loving Leaves.It was a beautiful thing  🙂  (Is. I mean it is a beautiful thing. The Green Revolution continues……)

The most awesome ever “slimming shakes”, and “energy shakes”!!  🙂

So of course, I found myself doing the workout. I am on Day 3. I can barely walk downstairs- To be absolutely truthful…..I love that feeling  🙂

My other small moment of satisfaction was to have one of my weird recipes validated  🙂  Okay, it is not my recipe- plenty of people are sharing this online. I got a notification that people were visting this site from another bloggers site who I didn’t know and I popped on over out of curiosity. It is Ria’s Collection Blogspot, and it seems like she has just started but she loves baking recipes. She had made some beautiful vegan chocolate cupcakes (using avocado IN the cakes to sub for butter) and had topped it with “Not Quite Betty Crocker” Avocado frosting (recipe here)  Here is her husband’s verdict:

So he knew the cupcakes had avocados in it. When he got back from work, he found me frosting the cupcakes so I asked him if he wanted to taste test one. He obliged, like always and took a bite of it. He nodded in agreement when I asked him if they were good. After chewing down one half of the cupcake, he asked me what’s the frosting made of…a question I was waiting all this while to answer. When I told him it had just avocados, cocoa & sugar, he was definately surprised! I don’t think he thought I would go that far with that fruit 🙂   This frosting kind of sets and loses it’s sticky property so this is perfect to pack and send it to wherever you want!The cupcakes were super moist and the frosting was rich and creamy.No one would guess it has what it has 🙂

 

By the way, the actual cupcakes look wonderful and moist, I think I will try them one day (follow her link above for the recipe)

 

These were my small moments of satisfaction (at least- in the realm of Green food- I do have many others!)

Wishing you plenty of your own  🙂

 

What is your why?

Why do you want to eat and drink cleaner and greener?

Some people will answer “to lose weight”. Now ask yourself the same question again . There must be another reason, or you may as well do Slimfast, Weightwatchers or Atkins Diet, right?

Why else do you feel drawn to cleaning up your diet?  Why would you choose eating cleaner as a weight loss method, over one of the “diets on the market”?

Collect together all your reasonings, which may or may not be some of the following:

PHYSICAL

  • Strengthen my immune system
  • Flush out toxins by eating more water based fruit and veg
  • Give my liver a break!
  • Give my pancreas a break!
  • Clear my skin up
  • Help my body to deal more efficiently with (xyz) chronic condition
  • To help my digestion
  • I want to give my body clean fuel for my workouts
  • I suspect that an excess of (processed food/meat/fried foods/dairy/white carbs/sugar) is causing/aggravating my problem with………..
  • I remember when I ate cleaner and my energy levels were much better
MENTAL/INTELLECTUAL
  • Better concentration levels/mental clarity
  • I hate having brain fog around 3pm every day
  • I can’t even focus on my studies when I need sugar/Coke /…….(insert)
EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL
  • I want to help my family eat better as a whole and I need to set the example
  • Eating more plants over meat as a compassionate choice
  • Eating closer to the earth “just feels right”
  • I think eating healthy will make me feel better in myself generally
  • I remember when I ate really well and I just felt good inside
  • I am sick of craving junk food (this is also physical)
  • I feel out of control with some food addictions
  • To care better for my body which houses my spirit/inner self

Whatever your “WHY” is, THE BIGGER, THE BETTER!! The greater and deeper your desire to clean up how you eat, the easier it will be to make the transition (which is a journey with inevitable ups, downs, pitfalls, and experimentations with what is “right” for you…….)

Please allow me to link to some previous posts I have written. Here’s hoping they may help.

“I wish I could enjoy healthy food, I just prefer junk!”  An empowering discovery I made

“Is it really true what they say about sugar affecting our mood/emotional well-being?”  Yes, it is. read this!

“Should I do one of those detox cleanse things?”  Read this

“But I love chocolate!” Try this

“But I love baking!” Me too!

“I miss my old stuff, this is not fun!”  If you’re not having fun, read this!

“I want to make healthy juices but I don’t have a juicer!”  This will start you off

Enjoy the journey!

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