Monthly Archives: June 2013

Beef Cheeks & Moroccan Cous-Cous

After having the ‘Beef Cheek Pot Pie’ special from Primal Pantry yesterday for lunch I swiftly hit up my butcher on the way home to get me some more cheek. Beef cheek comes from the cows’ facial muscle not their butt cheek. It is well developed from all the ‘cud chewing’ they do & it packed with gelatin-rich connective tissue making it a pretty tough cut to throw on the BBQ but perfect for slow cooking. Gelatin is brilliant for the health of our skin, hair, nails, digestion, immune system & joints. This would also be delicious served with Cauliflower Mash.

For the Cous Cous-

1/2 cup (about 100g) pistachios (or slivered almonds) lightly toasted
1 head cauliflower, ‘riced’ by pulsing chunks in the food processor while raw to achieve the consistancy of rice. Don’t over-blend it or it will turn to mush.
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 cup (100g) chopped dried apricots
Handful chopped mint
Handful chopped coriander
2-3 eshallots, finely chopped
1 tsp Garam Marsala
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup (125ml) lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs apple cider vinegar

For the Beef-

4 beef cheeks
1 cup (250ml) red wine (optional but delicious)
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
2 cups (500ml) stock- chicken or beef
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs coconut oil or ghee
1 red onion, finely diced

Preheat oven to 120C. In your crockpot heat the oil/ghee & brown the beef cheeks on both sides then remove. Add the onion, garlic & sauté until onion is translucent then add remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Add the beef cheeks back in & pop in the oven for about 4hrs. Remove the lid for the last hour to help some of the liquid thicken. If using a slow cooker you can just brown the beef cheeks in a pan, then sauté the onion & garlic & pop everything straight into the slow cooker on low for 6-8hrs, you can also leave the lid off for the last 2 hrs if you like to help thicken the sauce. If you do have excess liquid left over you can freeze it & add it to soups.

For the cous cous, heat the coconut oil in a frypan & sauté the cauliflower ‘cous cous’ until it is just cooked then remove from heat. In a big bowl mix the mint, coriander, eshallots, apricots & nuts. In a small jar or cup mix/shake together the olive oil, cumin, garam marsala, lemon juice & apple cider vinegar to for your dressing. Add the cauliflower cous cous to the big bowl with the herbs etc, pour over the dressing & mix well to combine.

Am I Turning into a Crunchy Hippie?

Never fear, I have NOT stopped shaving my armpits or my legs…. Actually my legs could use some attention but that was certainly not intentional, just laziness & a lot of wearing jeans. Anyway, back to my original tangent…. As I was washing my hair this morning with apple cider vinegar & baking soda (read more about the ‘NO POO’ hair method HERE) it dawned on me that my bathroom that used to be FULL of various moisturisers, shampoos, serums, cleaning products, multiple hair products for curl, straight, dull, bounce, shine blah blah, were no longer…. I have not just ceased cleaning my bathroom & given up on all body maintenance, that would be concerning for me & my husband & and indication that I most definitely was a crunchy hippie (not that there is anything wrong with that), but I have transitioned to using more natural products in place of their chemical-laden counterparts.

Did you know that your skin is your biggest organ. It can be as quick as 26 seconds for the toxins in your personal care products to enter your blood stream & unlike eating food, substances absorbed through your skin don’t go through the digestive process & get excreted if they should not be inside us, they go straight to your blood, do not pass go, do not collect $200. These toxins can cruise around our body, act as endocrine disrupters, cause allergic responses & screw with our hormone levels not to mention give you cancer. They didn’t put that on the perfume bottle did they!? The average woman applies 500 chemicals/day to her body from that aluminum infused deodorant to your lippie. You can read more about safe cosmetics HERE.

You probably all now look at the ingredient list on your food labels to see what is in it but have you checked out the ingredients in your shampoo lately? Seriously, what the h$ll is sodium polystyrene sulfonate & what is hydrolysed wheat gluten doing in there?? If you wouldn’t put it in your gob, why do you want to put it on your skin?

So here’s where I have gone all au naturale:

* As you saw above I use the NO POO METHOD to wash my hair & occasionally will use 100% pure argan oil to smooth any crazy bits. I try to steer clear of any other commercial hair products in general but sometimes when you need hair spray, well you just need hair spray.

* I use a mix of white vinegar, eucalyptus oil & water as a surface spray & to clean the shower & sinks. A paste of baking soda and a bit of elbow grease can help with any tough grimy bits too.

* Clove oil is brilliant for mould. It is far gentler than ‘BAM’ or bleach & you will not be inhaling foul toxins.

* You probably read about my OIL PULLING as a way of helping remove toxins & increase dental health. I also clean my teeth with a paste of coconut oil & baking soda. My teeth have never been whiter. It doesn’t foam up like normal toothpaste but once you get over that, it’s brilliant.

* I use the OIL CLEANSING method to clean my face & remove make up. Mine is a mix of castor oil, coconut oil & tamanu oil & that seems to work for me aside from my bull$hit hormonal pimples that are resilient to everything right now.

* I use rosehip oil as my face moisturizer & coconut oil as a general moisturizer. You can check the safety rating of your make-up & skincare products HERE.

* My toothpaste mix doubles as deodorant. Just scoop a bit out with a spoon, smear it on your pits. Done. I know you may doubt that this works but honestly, if I can smash myself in a crossfit metcon & not make myself & those around me gag with the smell then I think I am onto something. Coconut oil is anti-bacterial & anti-fungal so it makes sense that it is ani-stink. I also have a back-up in my gym bag of the Miessence brand deodorant in case I need it.

So that’s my deal at the moment. Am I a crunchy hippie or just health conscious? If any of you other closet hippies have any great tips to share then get commenting! Peace out 😉

Photo from EWG Skin Deep

Salmon & Chorizo Fish Cakes

This might seem like a weird combo but it’s not, it’s freaking delicious. I mean chorizo is going to make anything taste pretty tops. This is a super economical & freaking tasty dinner, lunch or snack. This made about 20 fish cakes and they freeze really well too so are perfect as a grab-and-go option when you are time poor. Tasty, easy, cheap & fast, there’s not much more I can do for you. You’re welcome.

Fish Cakes-
6 eggs
70g coconut flour (or almond meal)
Big handful of coriander, finely chopped
Big handful of dill, finely chopped
850g wild caught tinned salmon
Salt & pepper to taste
1 chorizo sausage, finely diced

Tartare Sauce-
6 tbs full fat coconut cream (it works best if this has been in the fridge so it is thick & creamy)
Juice 1/2 lemon
Good pinch salt & pepper
2 tbs chopped dill
1 tbs chopped capers
1 tbs chopped gherkin

Preheat oven to 170C.
For the tartare- mix everything well in a bowl then pop back into the fridge until you need it.

In a big bowl add all the ingredients and mix well, get in there with your hands is best. Shape into patties and pop into a baking paper lined tray. Chuck it in the oven (not literally, that would make a massive mess, stink for days & leave you with no dinner) and bake for about 20-30 mins or until outside is nice & crispy & they have cooked through. Make sure you check them at 20mins & go from there. I drizzled ours with my homemade tartare sauce.

Nut Butter Bark

You know what? Sometimes when I type ‘nut butter’, my auto correct often changes it to ‘but butter’. That is not cool predictive spelling-thingy, no-one wants butt-butter. That does not sound in the least bit appetizing does it?

Moving on, this can be made with any type of nut butter you like or even seed butter (like sunflower seed butter) if you have a nut-aversion, you can add some coconut butter to it too if you like. It is loaded with healthy fats, takes about 5 mins to make and is the perfect after-dinner treat with a cup of tea.

If you love splendid little treats like this you should really check out A NOURISHING KITCHEN E-book by the Holistic Ingredient! It is full of ah-mazing recipes (I am not just saying that because I contributed one) and some of the most devine looking sweet treats! Amy has a beautifully holistic & balanced approach to food & creates recipes that are uncomplicated, beautiful & freaking DELICIOUS! This book is a must-have in my opinion & would make a brilliant gift for a friend or loved one who is trying to become a nutrient-seeker too! It’s $18 that you will not regret spending.

1 cup nut butter (I used cashew & brazil)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash stevia or maple syrup (optional)
Pinch salt

Chuck everything in a saucepan on a low heat, melt it all together. Pour it onto some baking paper on a tray & pop it in the freezer until it sets. Break it into chunks. Shove it in your talker. You can get fancy-schmancy & sprinkle it with coconut, other nuts, cacao nibs before you put it in to set if you want to.

Bacony Brussel Sprouts

I hate brussels sprouts. I wasn’t force fed them as a kid, actually I don’t remember ever having them as a kid. As an adult I have had them steamed a few times and they were rank. Yesterday I had the shaved Brussels sprout salad from Primal Pantry for lunch & I finally realized what was missing from my previous brussels sprouts experiences…. Bacon. Delicious, crispy, salty bacon. Of course!! Da da daaaaaaaa….. I bring you my bacony roasted brussels sprouts. Now I love brussels sprouts, I hope you will too.

These cute little baby cabbage-looking veggies are from the same family as broccoli, cabbage & kale so it should come as no surprise that they pack a serious nutritional punch. They are a storehouse of anti-oxidants with vitamins C, K, A & B-complex. Keep in mind that vitamins A, E & K are fat-soluble and need dietary fat present to enable them to be absorbed by us. That is why it’s a great idea to have a drizzle of coconut oil, olive oil, grassfed butter or ghee with your veggies to ensure you are able to absorb the most nutrients from them. They say ‘you are what you eat’ but actually ‘you are what you digest & absorb’.

Brussels sprouts- I am not really sure how much but I think about 500g
2 lge rashers of free-range gluten-free bacon, roughly chopped
1 red onion, roughly sliced
1 tbs coconut, ghee or grass-fed butter

Preheat oven to 180C. Wash the Brussels sprouts & chop off the bottom stalk. Cut them in halves. Add them with the onion & oil to a baking paper lined tray and toss well to coat. Sprinkle bacon over the top & bake for 25-35mins.

To Fast or Not to Fast?

Fasting…. As in abstaining from food for a period of time voluntarily?!? Huh? Ah, no thank you unless you want to see my head start spinning and me flying between hurling abuse at people & shaking in a corner. Heard the term “hangry”? Pretty sure they made it up after seeing me without food for a period of time. It is hungry x angry & it is NOT pretty. I have been known to burst into tears from hunger, that is generally following the lead up of being a total crazy bit$h prior to said melt-down.

SO, we have obviously established that fasting is not for me but could it work for you? I am neither for or against the idea, I just find it fascinating and think that everyone should find what works for THEM.

Intermittent Fasting or IF as it is popularly known right now seems to be all the buzz. The likes of Mark Sisson & Chris Kresser have done it, Stefani Ruper of Paleo for Women says it is NOT for females. You can make up your own mind by reading more in those links about the arguments for & against.

So what is IF & why are people doing it? IF is essentially food restriction done via implementing ‘eating’ & ‘fasting’ windows. A fairly common regime is a 16hr fast/ 8hr eating window so one might fast from 6pm-10am and eat freely the rest of the time. Some of the health benefits seen through trials have been increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, positive effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity & weight loss.

All of those benefits seem to hold many caveats from all the research I read. The abridged version is as follows:

Forget about Intermittent Fasting if-

* You are not getting enough quality sleep (ideally 7-8hrs minimum)
* You are stressed (either mentally, physically or emotionally), fasting is a stressor which will have the opposite effect you want it to if you are already producing too much cortisol from existing stress.
* You are OVER TRAINING – this is obviously different for everyone but once again, exercise is a stressor so they same as above applies.
* You are female- this is not steadfast but doesn’t seem beneficial from my research ESPECIALLY if you are pregnant/breast feeding or trying to become pregnant- You need food & nutrients not restriction.
* You suffer from disordered eating
* You are not already following a really clean & nutritious diet already with adequate fats, protein & carbohydrates.

If you are going to try IF the recommendation seems to be-

* Eat intuitively- eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full
* If you are hungry between meals you probably did not eat enough
* Sleep well
* Keep stress low
* Maintain an exercise regime that supports this & doesn’t produce excess cortisol
* Listen to your body- IF is not for everyone & if your body is telling you so, STOP.

So that’s my take on IF. I won’t be doing it. What do you think? Now someone bring me some food. Quickly. All that talk of not eating has made me hungry.

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Halfway Sugar Detox & Delicious Pumpkin Soup

One week down, one to go. How did everyone joining me on the sugar detox find week one? Few people fell off the wagon…. Did you jump back on? I honestly was too busy this week to miss it but I think what was key is that I always had my food prepared. I didn’t get hungry so I didn’t look for sugar & I didn’t really have the down-time to think about it. You can see my Wrap Up video on YouTube & hear my confession about my minor derailment.

I did a slow cooked leg of lamb the other night and as a result had a slow cooker 3/4 full of leftover broth. You have all heard me bang-on about the benefits of bone broth so you know that there was no way I was just throwing that bad-boy out. Instead, I recycled it. That sounds gross doesn’t it. Well it wasn’t. It was delicious & so jam-packed full of even more nutrients from having that lamb in there too.

1/2 head cauliflower
1 tbs cinnamon
1 heaped tsp garam marsala
1 L Broth (or vegetable)
500g pumpkin (I used Kent)

This is super easy, chuck everything in a pot or slow cooker. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer until everything is soft. Use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Done.

Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash

This was the most delicious breakfast! I had mine WITHOUT EGGS due to my allergy but I am going to try reintroducing those bad-boys in the next few weeks as my gut healing routine has been going gangbusters. Fingers crossed that eggs can come back into my life on occasion. Instead of eggs I had bacon….. And avocado. Yum.

1 cup grated zucchini
2 cups grated sweet potato
3 chorizo sausages, roughly chopped
2 tbs coconut cream (optional but delicious)
4 eggs
Salt & pepper to taste
Paprika to serve

Preheat oven to 200C. In a frypan cook the chorizo until browned on all sides. Add the zucchini & sweet potato and stir fry until sweet potato softens. Add coconut cream, salt & pepper & stir to combine. Transfer all into a ovenproof dish. Make 4 small wells in the hash for the eggs. Crack the eggs int the wells and bake for about 10-15mins depending on how you like your eggs. Sprinkle with paprika & dig in!!

It’s on like Donkey Kong

Day 2 of the 2 week sugar detox. How is everyone traveling? Trav very kindly made one of my fav desserts last nite, cinnamon banana ice cream whilst I sipped on my Chai Tea & willed myself not to punch him in the face & steal said ice cream. I already had my one serve of fruit at breakfast with my Carrot Cake Porridge (no sweetener of course) and bananas also registered really high on my Allergy Testing so it was a double fail for me.

Sunday morning is normally pancake morning at our place but this morning they were replaced with Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash (recipe up soon) which was DE-LICIOUS and did not make me miss my sweet breakfast treats at all.

So far I am traveling ok with this no-sugar deal because I have been prepared, I eat enough at meal times that I haven’t really felt the need to snack & I have mainly been at home. The test will come tomorrow when I am back at work. I have done meal prep for lunches that will hopefully keep me full, I have made up some containers of Spiced Nuts and Coconut Chips for snack emergencies.

If you have already ‘fallen off the wagon’ don’t drop your bundle & give up, take a deep breath, jump back on and stop being a sook. It’s only 2 weeks, that is NOTHING in the big scheme of life, it won’t kill you, quite the contrary actually. Want more motivation as to why you should quit sugar? This is a great article HERE.

Here’s a few sugar free treats to get your through when you need it.
Toasted Coconut Chocolates just omit the goji berries.
Coconutty Fudge minus the stevia
Strawberry Love Bites this can be your one serve of fruit
Choc Bites minus the sweetener
Ginger Fudge minus the stevia

Other tips & ideas-

* You can blitz up 1 cup of frozen berries in the food processor with a dash of coconut cream to make ice cream if that is going to be your one serve of fruit.
* You can eat coconut butter or nut butter by the spoonful.
* Cups of tea are always a great help- experiment with some new flavors.
* Clean your teeth right after your dinner.
* Coconut oil, on a spoon, right outta the jar. Don’t judge until you have tried it. It’s awesome.