Snack

The Truth About Acai Bowls

Acai bowls are the latest health food fad doing the rounds. They are popping up in every cafe & health food shop and you can even make them yourself at home (which I absolutely recommend so you can jam some extra nutrition in).  Touted by many as the perfect healthy meal they come in a massive variety of flavours and colours but let me let you in on a secret….. That ain’t no perfect brekkie.

OK, before a war breaks out let me firstly say, I like acai bowls. They are delicious. It’s like having ice cream for breakfast and who wouldn’t love to do that…. It’s got about the same amount of sugar as having ice cream for breakfast too. Yep, on average an acai bowl will have about 40g of sugar and up to about 75g depending on your toppings.  The same size bowl of full fat vanilla ice cream has about 39g of sugar. At least the ice cream has a good dose of fat in there too to at least help slow that insulin spike a little. Yes, the acai is natural sugar from fruit but as far as your body and your insulin response are concerned, it’s still sugar and if your body doesn’t need it, it’s likely going straight to your ar$e, or thighs, or stomach or wherever else your body thinks it would like to store it for the next famine you encounter. That’s basically an entire days recommended sugar intake in one bowl.

So what’s my point? My point is, don’t get caught up in the hype and the very clever marketing. If you give zero flying ducks (*side note; why does auto-correct think I want to write ‘ducks’? Seriously, how often do I refer to ducks to make it think that is a legitimate swap?) about your sugar intake, you are not trying to minimise your body fat, you don’t mind feeling hungry again an hour later, and you have $16 to drop on a bowl of sugar every morning, go your hardest, I’m not talking to you. If you do care about the above points I’d suggest that acai bowls are a sometimes food, a treat for your weekend brekkie out or a refuel after you have smashed out a gruelling workout, enjoy it for sure but don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s health food.

A few things I want to point out, not all acai is made equal. Homemade is absolutely the best because you can whack in a heap of great things to add way more nutrition. My tips would be cinnamon to help curb the insulin spike, collagen powder or protein powder to add some protein and help with skin, hair, joints etc, frozen zucchini or spinach to add some greens, use some coconut cream instead of coconut water to get some healthy fats in there- this will help keep you fuller for longer and assist with blood sugar regulation.

Different brands of acai also contain different things, it’s a good idea to ask. My pick is the Amazonia Pure . Some contain soy lethicin, some contain added sugar or syrups to make it more ‘scoopable’, some contain colours and additives to mask the fact that is has oxidised and gone brown instead of being the deep purple of a non-oxidised acai. So that’s it from me, eat your acai, or don’t, I have zero ducks to give, it’s your body to nourish how you see fit.

 

 

Kimchi (fermented. vegan. paleo)

If you are not on the fermented foods bandwagon yet you need to JUMP ON IMMEDIATELY. Like now. Fermented food is the new black. Adios probiotic capsules & HELLO probiotic rich foods. Not only are fermented foods going to give you more variety of good bacteria in your life but they are so much more potent than even the very best probiotic capsule or powder on the market. By incorporating food containing probiotics we start to establish great long-term, diverse, healthy gut flora far more effectively than if we just take a probiotic supplement. If Kimchi isn’t your jazz then try some other types of fermented veggies, kombucha, kefir, homemade yoghurt etc. The more different types of fermented foods the more diversity of good bacteria you will incorporating into your life. If you don’t know why having a healthy population of bacteria in your gut is important you can get in the know HERE  and HERE but basically everything from skin conditions, weight regulation, mental health, immune function, obesity, fatigue & auto-immune disease.

I have been making kraut for a while but have been hanging out for someone to give me a great kimchi recipe and Jeremy came through with the goods! This was also my first time using my new crock from KINFOLK & CO!!  This recipe comes courtesy of the awesome Jeremy over at Holistic Lifestyler who is a chiropractor in WA, runs fermenting workshops & has an awesome line of organic clothing that is SO soft & comfy. You can get your mits on his fermenting ebook for only $40 if you tell him I sent you. We’re tight like that. He’ll hook you up. Just email him info@holisticlifestyler.com

Will need approximately 2 Litre sized fermenting vessel, notes on these in the troubleshooting.

Vegetables

Green Cabbage  400 g ; Nappa Cabbage 500g ; Spring onions 100g; Sweet potato 250g; Carrot 100g; Green apple  ½ (100g); Salt approx. 30g (which is around 2% of the vegetable weight, this is important as it’s the researched safe ratio of salt to vegetable to provide the optimal environment for fermenting) I recommend good quality Celtic sea salt.

Paste

Fresh Red Chilli 2 ; Turmeric powder 1-2tsp; Cayenne Pepper powder 2 tsp; Chilli Flakes 1 tsp; Garlic 4 cloves; Ginger 4cm grated

Procedure

  • Finely chop green cabbage, add salt; massage until brine created
  • Chop the end off the nappa cabbage then chop into approx. 3 cm square pieces then chop the spring onions add to green cabbage and massage for a few minutes
  • Shred the carrot and sweet potato. Place the green apple through the mandolin or finely slice (if mandolin not available), add to the mix [Note: carrot & sweet potato could also be put through the mandolin if you prefer a slightly chunkier kraut]

PASTE

  • Finely chop the chilli, grate the ginger, chop the garlic, add the cayenne, turmeric and chilli flakes. Blend all the ingredients adding filter water as needed to create a paste consistency.
  • Add the paste to the vegetable mixture and mix through.

 

 Options; can add some dulse or wakame flakes into the mix, some fresh chives can be added to the paste.  Instead of water added to the paste mix some good quality fish sauce can be used may need to go a little lighter in the salt in the vegetable mix as fish sauce is quite salty.  Daikon radish also can be added which adds a nice crunch.  Korean Chilli powder can be added and is very nice and provides a deep red colour, this is usually found at specialist Asian food stores.

 

FERMENTING

  • Pack ingredients into the jar, so that the vegetables are under the brine that has been created. Close the vessel
  • Ferment at room temperature ideally 18-22 deg Celsius for 2-4 weeks before transferring to the refrigerator.
  • Once in the refrigerator should last upto a year (although you’ll get through it much faster than that because it’s so delicious!)

TROUBLESHOOTING

  • If the vegetables start to rise above the brine at the top during the fermenting period simply remove the lid and with the back of a clean spoon push vegetables back under the brine and close the lid again. Alternatively you can add some kind of weight device to keep the vegetables submerged under the brine.
  • If your environment is quite hot the fermenting period may need to be less for instance more like 10 days. If its cooler may need the full 4 weeks.  There’s no way of telling when the ferment is ‘done’ on a home scale type set up without testing things like pH etc but sticking to the timeframe suggested is a safe reliable timeframe.
  • Jars:
    • My personal preference is the ‘Fido’ wire bail lid type which can be found on line at kitchen stores. Otherwise The Fowlers-Vacola jars I’ve found to be the most reliable as the lid never loses its tensile strength like the wire bail types which tend to become faulty after a few years use and no longer create a 100% sealed environment.  The downside to the Fowlers jar is they only make them in 1 Litre size now so you have to make them in batches.  There are many other ‘specialised’ fermenting jars out there that are more expensive but they really are no more beneficial than the two mentioned.  If you want to upsize your fermenting then fermenting crocks are a great option.

 

 

Stuffed Potatoes (paleo. vegan. gluten free. dairy free)

Stuffing stuff is awesome. There’s not much you can’t stuff. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, capsicum, eggplant, zucchini, those big-arse mushrooms that are almost the size of a plate. You get where I’m going. You don’t want to stuff potatoes? No drama. Stuff something else. Just get stuffed. The other great part of getting stuffed is that you can stuff it with whatever you like! Asian style, Mexican, Indian flavours or just a leftover mash-up of whatever’s in your fridge leftover from the week. Mine’s a leftover mash up but you do whatever spins your tyres and make them as fancy as you please. I think some leftover taco mince, homemade guacamole etc would be epic.

4 small sweet potatoes (or 1 or 10- depends how many you’re feeding)
Olive oil to drizzle
Whatever you want to stuff your stuff with. I used-
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
Big handful kale, shredded
Big handful red cabbage, shredded

Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a tray with baking paper. I don’t peel my sweet potatoes, I just wash them. Pop the sweet potatoes on the tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for about an hour or until soft to touch. It could take up to 90 mins depending on the size of your potatoes but just whack ’em in and go and binge watch some Suits until they are ready. You don’t watch Suits? Take a good, hard look at yourself and make better life choices.

Take all the stuff you are going to stuff them with and sauté it in a frying pan until it’s about 3/4 cooked then remove.

Take your cooked sweet potatoes, cut them down the centre and use a spoon to push the filling to each side so you have a nice little galley in the middle for all the good bits. Stuff them choc-full with all the stuffing bits. Now would be a cracking time to sprinkle some cheese on top if you can handle it or even a good drizzle of homemade mayo. Whack them back in the oven on about 200C for 15 mins then dig in!

sw-boats2

Almond & Maple Ice Cream (paleo. vegan. raw)

This day reminded me of Christmas Day, you know those days you feel like all you do is eat. Today I spent the day down the coast eating. I went out for breakfast, had coco whip in between & then an amazing seafood feast for lunch. I came home feeling full, sleepy & pretty sure that I was just going to by-pass dinner…. Thennnn I felt the urge to make ice cream, because there is always a separate stomach compartment for ice cream right? Well my stomach has that compartment, and one for sweet potato chips, I can put away A LOT of those things. So damn delicious. Anyone who tells you you can’t over-eat healthy food is a goddamn liar.

You can choose your own adventure with this ice cream a bit and swap the almond butter for a different type of nut butter. Cashew butter will give it a much more neutral flavour and something like peanut butter is going to give you a stronger flavour. Do what you want. Add in some of the optional extras, or don’t.

400ml coconut cream (full fat)
100ml water
3/4 cup almond butter                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           1/3- 1/2 cup maple syrup/ rice malt syrup (depending on how sweet you like it)                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Plus a few extra tbs maple syrup to drizzle                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         1 vanilla pod, scraped (or 1 tsp extract)

Optional-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Cacao nibs                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Shredded coconut                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Goji berries                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Dark chocolate                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Few shots of espresso

 

This can be done without an ice cream maker, it will just require a bit more patience and you’ll need to let it thaw a little before you try & scoop it out. I used an ice cream maker because it’s there so I might as well. So, grab all the ingredients (not the optional extras) and blend them together in your food processor or blender until smooth. Pour into your ice cream maker and let it do it’s thing. You can either eat it as soft serve straight from the ice cream maker or pop it in the freezer to set a little harder. If you are not using an ice cream maker, pour it into a container with a lid and freeze for 4-6 hours until scoopable. Top with any optional toppings. Enjoy.

almond espresso ice cream 1

Monkey Chicken (paleo. clean eating)

I’m calling this monkey chicken because it is actually that basic a monkey could do it. It’s fast, easy, delicious and can’t even really be called a ‘recipe’ so I am VERY loosely using that term to describe what I am about to tell you.

This was one of the food prep ideas I demonstrated to the crew down at CROSSFIT BABES & CHASE CONDITIONING a few weeks ago to kick off their 8 week challenge. It’s a great base to batch cook a heap of chicken with a fairly neutral favour that you can then freeze in portions if you want to. When you reheat it you can jazz it up by adding different spices, herbs, curry paste, flavours etc so that you don’t feel like you are eating the same ting over and over. Alternatively, you can just leave it as it is and have it with different sides like in lettuce boats, rice paper wraps, sushi, with roast veggies, tossed through a salad etc. If you want to add some extra flavour to the base recipe, some chilli, lemongrass & kaffir lime is always a winning combo and it looks pretty too.

You can pretty much do the same thing with a boneless leg of pork or lamb shoulder too. When I am batch cooking like this I always try and go with the concept of economy of effort, if you are going to do 1kg of chicken thighs, might as well do 2kg so you can freeze some or have leftovers. Learn to batch cook like a bad-arse and your life just got a whole lot easier. You’re welcome.

2kg chicken thighs

400ml coconut cream (full fat & look for one that just has coconut and water as the ingredients)

Good pinch of salt & pepper

So that’s it. Seriously. You whack all that in the slow cooker. Turn it on low. Walk away for 6-8hrs. Come back, shred it all up with a couple of forks and Bob’s your uncle… Or perhaps he’s not. He’s not mine.

 

A Day On Our Plate (paleo. primal. clean eating)

Righto team, you asked for it and you asked nicely so here it is. It’s likely as boring and lack-lustre as you imagined but just in case you were not 100% convinced, I present to you a day on our plate. This is the rundown on what Baby G & I ate one day. It’s a pretty standard day, sometimes we eat a little more, sometimes she throws everything at me/on the floor (she’s fickle like that) and so it happens that we eat a little less.

toddler-meme

Baby G is now 20months. She’s like any kid, some days she loves something, the next she looks at you like you are actually trying to kill her by feeding her EXACTLY THE SAME THING. In case you hadn’t realized, kids can be total jerks. It’s not your fault, it’s not the food, it’s their lot in life. I used to panic if she didn’t want to eat and would cook 1/2 dozen different things to see if she wanted them instead, I now believe that kids are pretty intuitive eaters, if they are hungry, they’ll eat and they tend not to starve themselves….. The thighs on this kid could sustain her for quite a period anyway 🙂 My fall back position is coconut oil. Always coconut oil. She will eat that biz off a spoon any time she doesn’t want actual food so she gets a couple of teaspoons of it if she’s on hunger strike and we call it done.

coconut oil solves problems

I have taken all these photos with my phone so they do not look as pretty as if I had used my DSLR. I have tried to make the food look semi-presentable but let’s be honest, it’s generally slapped on a plate with very little care taken so don’t let that fool you.

BREAKFAST

It’s pretty much the same most days. Some days we make the SNEAKY VEGGIE CHIA PUDDINGS from my eBook just to mix things up. I have a cup of coconut milk coffee with GREAT LAKES COLLAGEN from iHerb in it to support my gut, joints and skin health, plus it’s cheaper than Botox. Baby G has some broth or some really weak green tea.

This mash-up scramble was leftover roasted veggies (zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms) with 4 eggs cracked on top and scrambled together. G and I shared it and 1/2 an avocado on the side. We probably eat about half of that each. Sometimes she eats more, other days less.

breakfast-scramble

LUNCH

It’s pretty much leftovers 90% of the time. Leftover slow-cooked meat, leftover steamed or roasted veggies or salad. Paleo sausages from Northey St markets or the Cleavers ones from Woolies are always a hit too. This plate of dog-food looking stuff was some cauliflower, spinach & cabbage (all pre-chopped in the fridge ready to go) cooked in broth. I dumped that in a bowl then reheated some slow cooked lamb from the night before in the same pan. Whole situation probably took 15mins max which was the perfect amount of time to have a Wiggles dance-off with Baby G while that was cooking. The kid slays me. The enthusiasm that she throws into The Propeller song is second to none.

lunch-lamb

DINNER

Mostly dinner is anything I have made for the blog….. Well maybe not cake….. Ok well I might eat cake, G has real food. I often cook huge trays of roast veggies to last a few days. We eat them as they are, in salads, or as snacks. They are a super easy go-to. This plate was just some mixed greens, cucumber & capsicum because it was the end of the week and there wasn’t much else left. 1/4 avo, some carrot kraut, grilled salmon drizzled ok slathered in some fermented cashew cheese.  Grace had the same, minus the leaves (not into them right now) & cashew cheese and with some steamed broccoli drizzled in ghee.

dinner-salmon

SNACKS

I tend not to really snack as I find I don’t get hungry between meals very often. I do find myself eating G’s half-eaten apples etc if they get abandoned in favour of her eating some dirt or rocks. Because food critic. If I am hungry or feel like I just need some extra fuel I generally make a smoothie. There are loads of my recipes on the blog and on my Instagram.

G snacks on fruit, chia puddings, sweet potato chips & smoothies. Some days she’s into snacks other days she’s not. She loves kraut, olives and kombucha. She’d live on strawberries if that was a thing. She’s pretty into soup at the moment too which is kinda weird but an easy way to jam 17 different veggies into one dish.

So there you go. Riveting I’m sure. It’s not fancy, leftovers get rehashed into multiple meals and I use my slow cooker to batch cook like a bad-ar$e and freeze stuff for later.

toddlers

Zucchini Fries

Who doesn’t love some good fries? Don’t lie to me, I know you do! I think sweet potato fries might be my all-time fave….. well until now. These zucchini fries are the goods. Before you ask, I don’t know if you can bake them. Maybe. Probably. Maybe not. I don’t know, but what I do know is that if you do, they won’t be “fries” anymore, they’ll be “bakes”. Do what you want, I’m not here to boss you around, choose your own adventure and let me know how it pans out, but don’t cry to me if you balls up this delicious food situation by not following the directions. Just fry them, get that delicious biz in your mouth and thank me later….. Turns out maybe I am here to boss you around.

1 egg
salt & pepper
2 zucchini, cut into ‘chips’
2 heaped tbs coconut flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
Oil for cooking- duck fat, coconut oil, ghee

zucchini-fries3

In one bowl, lightly whisk the egg. In another bowl add the tapioca, coconut flour, salt & pepper and mix well. Take the zucchini chips, dunk them in the egg, roll them in the flour mix then set aside on a board. In a large frying pan heat enough oil to ensure it is about 1cm deep. Once the oil is really hot add the zucchini chips, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Cook on each side until golden then remove. Continue with this process until all the chips are cooked. Serve with homemade mayo or just as they are!

zucchini-fries6

 

Caramel Protein Bars (paleo, vegan)

You’ll never guess the secret ingredient in these bars….. Seriously, it’s weird, even for me. It’s a sneaky veggie. Cauliflower. Yep, I’m serious. Told you it was weird. Weird, but strangely delicious and quite frankly I am LOVING the fact that this has veggies in it so hard right now. I mean it’s basically a salad now. Right? Pass me that tray of salad.

300g steamed & cooled cauliflower

200g raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hrs then drained

200g medjool datess

Dark chocolate (for dipping)- I used Lindt 90% but you can use this recipe to make your own if you prefer

2 tbs mesquite powder (optional but delicious)

2 tbs tahini

2 tbs rice malt syrup/maple syrup/honey/coconut nectar

1/2 cup Only Nutrition Vanilla Protein (or protein of your choice)

Add the dates, cashews & cauliflower to a food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients except the dark chocolate and process again until it forms a dough. If it’s still a bit wet, add an extra 1/4 cup protein at a time until you get to a ‘bliss ball’ type consistency. Press into a baking paper lined tray and pop in the freezer to set for 1-2 hrs. Once the slice has set you can melt your chocolate and pop it in a bowl for dipping. Cut the slice into bars, dip in the chocolate and place back into the freezer to reset. If you have leftover chocolate, you can do a second dip because let’s face it, one layer of chocolate is never sufficient. If you can’t be bothered with the dipping bizzo you can just pour the melted chocolate on top before you slice it into bars. I store these in the freezer to maintain a good consistency….. and to hide them from myself.

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Mango Coconut Protein Ice Creams (paleo, primal, gluten free, dairy free, vegan)

Um it’s been eleventy-ten million degrees in Brisbane this week. 4000% humidity, 0% oxygen. Not. Even. Kidding.  Ice creams is pretty much all I have wanted to eat and luckily these bad boys are super easy & very versatile and will cool you down asap. The biggest problem is thinking ahead to make them but if you just go ahead and make them now you’ll be good to go. 

Feel free to go rogue and choose your own adventure with flavours here. I’m think banana & almond butter would be MIND BLOWING but you can substitute in any fruits and veggies you like. 

Layer 1

2 cups coconut cream
1/2 tsp vanilla powder or extract
1 tsp honey/rice malt/maple syrup (optional)

Layer 2

350g mango
3/4 cup coconut cream
1 scoop ONLY NUTRITION VANILLA PROTEIN (optional)
1/2 cup shredded coconut

You will need some ice block moulds or some sort of vessel you can whack a paddle pop stick in to make it an ice block. Use your creative genius and let me know what you come up with.

Mix the ingredients for layer one together well & half fill your ice block moulds then pop this straight in the freezer to start to set while you make the next layer.

For Layer 2, add all the ingredients to your food processor or high speed blender and blitz until smooth. Pour on top of layer 1, whack the Popsicle stick in and let the freezer work its magic. That’s it. 

IMG_1556

 

Choc Cranberry Protein Bombs (vegan, primal, clean eating, gluten free, dairy free)

There’s balls all over place. Where ever you look. Balls & more balls. All shapes, all flavours, some with nuts, some nut-free, some are loaded with protein. Everyone is on the ball-train and why the hell not? They are fast, delicious and a cracking snack on the go. So. Many. Balls. And ball jokes. Obviously I am talking about BLISS BALLS so let’s clean up this ball chat and go and make some shall we. Seriously, you lot need to get your minds out of the gutter.

1 cup cranberries (or dried berries of your choice)
1/2 cup nut butter (I used ABC, you can use tahini or coconut butter for a nut-free version)
1/2 cup ONLY NUTRITION raw choc protein (or protein of your choice. You could also use nut flour instead)
1/2-1 tsp fresh finely grated ginger
3 tbs coconut oil
1/2 cup hemp seeds/coconut/chia seeds

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until they all come together and your dough is ‘rollable’. Is that a word?

 

IMG_1555

Roll into any size ball that takes your fancy then pop them in the fridge to set for a couple of hours before demolishing. These store well in the fridge or freezer.