Archive | March 2013

Raw.Vegan.Chocolate.Easter.

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My Easter’s traditionally consists of me making grand statements early march about not eating ANY chocolate.  But then sometime on the Thursday before Good Friday, just before we break for a long weekend, I get all excited and mesmerized by the colorful foil that seductively wraps those egg shaped nuggets of chocolate.  I’ll come back from lunch or a meeting at work and a team member has placed an egg on everyone’s desk, keeping in the spirit of celebrating this holiday.   At this point in time my will power has dissolved and I’m launched into a slippery slop of sugar highs and lows pretty much until I’m back at work after Easter Sunday – at best.  Worst and more accurately, the roller coaster continues for a few weeks after Easter.  

I love the sweet stuff.  But we broke up last year.   I’ve noticed that I am actually becoming extremely sensitive to sugar.  We basically don’t get along.  I cant stop once I’ve started and the side effects include, but are not limited to; bloating, digestion discomfort, acne (my personal fav), mood swings, anxiety and fluid retention (did you know that one gram of sugar we can then store 4gms of liquid with it!) Hello puffiness.

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Which means this is the first year I will go without biting into bunny ears or scooping the center out of a Cadbury Crème Egg with my fingers. (I know you do it too).  And since I don’t believe in denial or restriction I’ve made my own chocolates to celebrate with this Easter. 

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Raw Vegan Chocolate for Easter.

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You’ll need:

2 heaped tbls Raw Cacao powder

3 tbls Coconut Oil/butter

1 tbls Creamed coconut paste (this is optional, I gives it more body and stability so it doesn’t melt as quickly when served)

Stevia – to taste

Sea salt flakes – only a tiny pinch

Molds – any shape, I used a small ice cube tray, as it was all I had

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The How To:

Melt coconut oil – add in creamed coconut paste and work the mix in until its smooth.

Mix in cacao until dissolved

Add Stevia to taste – I used Nativa granules approx. 1tsp.

Add pinch of sea salt

Varieties:

Coconut Rough

In a mold pour a small amount of chocolate mix to the base so it’s like a thin disc

Sprinkle Coconut shavings or flakes on top

Set in fridge/freezer for 5mins

They should pop out easily

 

Chocolate Filled Raspberries

Get large fresh raspberries

Fill the cavity with the chocolate mix

Set in fridge

These make great Petit Fours after dinner

 

Raspberry Submarines

Place a fresh or frozen raspberry in the center of a mold

Pour enough choc mix to compeltlty submerge it

Place in freezer or fridge to set

When you bit into the chocolate you get a fresh explosion of raspberry tarty-ness as its individual berry cells ‘pop’ inside your mouth.

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Peanut Butter Gooey Surprise (my absolute fav)

Pour or spoon the chocolate mix into the bottom of a mold, to fill about ¼.

Put tray in freezer to set base (2-3mins)

When completely set spoon ½ a teaspoon of peanut butter on top of the chocolate base – this doesn’t need to be spread perfectly, its best to only have a small blob in the center.

Spoon enough chocolate mix over the peanut butter so that it’s completely covered.

Set in fridge until solid

This creates a ‘Reece’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cup’ effect – so when you bit into the chocolate you get a gooey explosion of salty-sweet peanut butter fudgy center – Uh-Maze-Balls.

 

Other alternatives are to pour the chocolate in to a thin slab and sprinkle nuts, seeds, berries etc and when set you can break into shards and serve after dinner with coffee or tea.

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The only limitations with this recipe is that it uses coconut oil, which is liquid at room temp so it doesn’t last long outside the fridge or freezer.  Making it less than ideal for easy transport.  I often make a batch and leave it in its mold in the freezer and pop a few cubes out when I have friends over for dinner or afternoon tea.  To help this chocolate have a more stability at room temp you could easily substitute coconut oil for Cacao Butter, which is avail in health food stores and other specialty shops.  It’s the same ingredient used in commercial chocolate that gives it its smooth buttery mouth feel – its also solid at room temp.  You will need to add more sweetness if you do use cacao butter as it not as naturally sweet as coconut oil.

 Here’s to my first sugar free Easter.    

Do you have any similar sweet treats to share?

 

 

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Kids Snacks in Sustainable Packaging

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The idea for this blog post came to me when I was out for coffee with a mate after a Sunday morning walk.  I was observing the action on table across from ours which sat two kids aged between 3 and 5ish and one dad.  When I first saw them come in and sit down together I was genuinely impress.  What a great way to spend a Sunday morning out being social on a beautiful Sunday morning.  They then proceeded to order drinks; coffee for dad, chocolate milk for one and strawberry milkshake for the other.  So cute.  Which reminded me of the last time I had strawberry milk – you know that really really sweet kind that’s so bubblegum pink it matches your gumboots.   I digress….

 

While the milkshakes were being silently consumed I noticed Dad unzip a Dora-The-Explora backpack, reaching in and surfacing some ‘child appropriate’ snacks.  I was really impressed with his level or organisation, but, I was shocked to see how much packaging came along with it.  There was fruit puree in plastic squeezy-packs that have a twist top like a drink bottle, dried fruit roll-up things that came in individual plastic wrappers out of a cardboard box and most shocking was cheese that came in a heat sealed plastic envelope that didn’t need to be refrigerated… ever.

 

While I don’t have children of my own, it did get me thinking about what would I do in a similar situation.  You ‘ve got kids, you’re out for a few hours and you want to bring snacks that are easy to pack, are good for them and more importantly something they’ll actually eat. 

 

I’ve been pondering over this one for weeks and come up with a few suggestions that I hope you’ll like and forward on to other parents you know that may benefit from this too. 

 
SNACK OPTIONS:

Firstly invest in some good quality re-usable plastic containers (but I’m suspecting that if you do have kids you’ve probably got this covered!)

 

Peanut (or other nut) butter and chopped up apple wedges.  Ideally pre-chop the apple in the segments then squeeze lemon juice over the flesh to stop it going brown (oxidising).  Put it into a portable container with a few tablespoons of paste.

 

Real cheese! Hard cheese will be OK to travel out of the fridge for a few hours (unless its an extremely hot day) cut off a few chunks and wrap in baking paper (plastic wrap will make it sweaty and slimy) or pack in re-usable plastic containers.

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Pre-make a batch of muffins or nutty slice – wrap individually in brown paper, store in Tupperware in the freezer and just take out one or two units when needed * Recipe to follow this weekend

Yoghurt – and excellent snack.   But avoid the small individually packed options and buy in bulk.    Put a few tablespoons in a container; add a small scoop of chia seeds, sprinkle with cinnamon and coconut flakes and mix.  I find that the chia seeds help to absorb the excess whey that often separates from yoghurt.  By adding the seeds it keeps the yoghurt in a good, thick consistency and helps it leaking throughout your bag too. 

 

Nuts, seeds, popcorn and coconut shavings.  Add a few buttons of raw/dark chocolate to your nut and seed mix to keep it interesting for them and adults.

 

And the obvious fresh fruit, veggies such as cucumber, carrot, celery.  Generally things that is easy to eat raw. 

 

Remember this is just quick snack food.  Things that you can throw together in less than 5 minutes.  It also keeps the nagging at bay when they see the sugared-up slices and muffins when you are out. 

 

The aim of this post is to help you re think how you purchase your food and can their be better way to help reduce excessive waste due to excessive packaging.  This follows on from my post last week around ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ movement.  And I know it’s much much easier to just buy a pack of this or sachets of that, but it all adds up.   While I personally hate cleaning out my containers that have had yoghurt in them, I think of the excess packaging I’ve saved by NOT buying that 6 pack of yoghurt tubs that click off. 

 

This may not be a suitable option for every outing but maybe just start with the lazy Sunday coffee stop and grow from there? 

 

Food for Thought

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With our modern world becoming more and more food focused how do you see your own relationship with food?

 

Do you see food for purely what it is i.e. sustenance, only for basic human survival?

Do you see it as something that provides pleasure and joy?

Do you use it to help strengthen and build relationships aka ‘The Family Dinner’.

Escape:  Are you filling an internal void with food?

 

Do you view it with an ease and a light heartedness? 

 

Or perhaps you see it as a burden, a chore, a drama?  Maybe there is more to it than that for you, maybe is deep and dark and a complete mental head funk.  

 

I want to help free everyone from this inner mental turmoil of excessive food dialogue.  This thinking is so disruptive to you life, not to mention your health.  Don’t you want to be free from that?

 

Lately, I’ve been busy observing.  Taking it all in.  Being still and just listening.  Listening to conversations at work, at the gym, with friends, overhearing talk in supermarkets, television shows around food, books, magazines and general chat.  I’ve listened a lot.  And what I’m hearing is that we are so very confused.  Which in turn is leading us to over think everything food related.  Which not only is mentally exhausting but also teetering on dangerous.

 

How long has this been going on for?  How much time do you dedicate to thinking or perhaps obsessing about food?  More than once a day? Only at meal times?  Every few hours? A few times each hour?  …. It’s all you can think about?

 

Depending on what level you are on the scale I want you to know its ok.  

But where too from here?  Perhaps it’s worthwhile beginning to listen to your own inner dialogue.  What are you saying to yourself about food and how often?  How are you making your meal choices? Or more importantly WHY are you choosing what you eat or what you don’t. 

 

For now that’s it.  Have a listen.   Lets just start here and see what comes up.   

 

 

Waste-less, Sustainable Whole meals

 

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I used to get all worked up over having everything on a recipe list to make a meal.  Do I have three different colour capsicums (bell peppers), that specific cut of meat, this brand of olive oil etc.  That extra stress before even getting to the cooking part was enough to leave me disinterested in it all.  And since its one of the things I love, I can understand and sympathise with people who cook just cos they need to eat.  They see it as just another domestic chore, getting no enjoyment from it.  I used to live with someone like that; he had 5 meals down pat.  There was no variation; most of the ingredients came out of a jar, instant meal-in-a-box or the freezer.  I get it though.  There are heaps of things that I have NO interest in that other people love to do.  Each to their own.  But the point of this post is that a meal doesn’t need to be complicated.  Perfection is an illusion.  Truth be told, I only look at cooking mags for the pictures, I rarely cook anything from them.  I hate to follow directions and I hate to measure.  I follow the cook-by-feel methodology in the kitchen. 

 

Back to the point.

 

There is nothing wrong with eggs for dinner.  There is nothing wrong with soup for breakfast or eating lunch at 4pm if that’s how you day played out. 

 

We have too much food wastage.  There are some stats out there saying on average an Australian household with throw away more than $1000+ a year in uneaten, wasted food.  In previous posts I have mentioned that when I go away for more than a few days I give away my perishable items.   Food going to waste is such as shame. 

 

So I guess the main message today is to eat what you have.  Last week for lunch at work I pulled out a chunk of wood-smoked salmon (the other half had been used in a salad from the night before), 1/3 of a avocado that was on its last legs and a cucumber.  Three ingredients that made for an easy and complete meal.  I smashed the avocado and spread it on the bottom of a plate, broke up the salmon and placed that on top and just ate the cucumber as it was.  And yes, I got some weird looks and ‘Is that what your having for lunch’ comments, however I relish the fact my meals are a bit off centre, matches my personality, ergo makes me feel normal.

 

However, that made me think that perhaps we are all a little too focused on what a meal is ‘supposed’ to look like due to years and years of conditioning to meal time-frames and ideals, instead of eating for hunger, sustenance and enjoyment.   Don’t get me wrong I believe that we derive a huge amount of pleasure from food and meals, but I think we are trying WAY to hard.  The focus should be on flavour or sharing food, not perfect plating up.   

 

So don’t be afraid to mix it up.   Have veggie muffins for dinner with hummus and lettuce if that’s what you’ve got in the fridge.  Go through your condiments and pickle jars, add a few boiled eggs, some nuts, a slice of cheese and carrot sticks, serve it on a chopping board.  Your kids will think you’ve lost it, but when they get to eat it with their hands you’ll be surprised how quickly the veggie sticks move.  Remember, vegetables that are less than perfect can be added to soups, roasts or grated into patties, pikelets and muffins.  Add a tin of tuna or crabmeat and whole-egg mayonnaise for a quick spread or dip.

 

Mr and Mrs Caveman never had the conversation that started with ‘Your eating WHAT for breakfast!’, they ate what they had.  I’m sure sometimes it would have been boring, but never wasteful.  

 

We are lucky to have options; supermarkets open til midnight and takeaway that gets delivered to our front door.  This just pure excessiveness.  It’s not helping our efforts to become more sustainable or responsible for tomorrow.  If for nothing else this will help you save a few bucks.  I don’t know anyone who’s not interested in at least that.

 

Be mindful in your purchasing.  Do you need three different types of milk in your house? Really?

 

 

In the coming weeks I’ll me focusing more around motivation and psychology for eating.  Why we eat what we eat, why we crave certain foods at certain times.   This will hopefully help you understand that you can’t fight biology and that while you are not to blame for your less than perfect food choices, you can begin to influence your physiology as a base level  Which I think is pretty amazing stuff. 

 

Until then, look in your fridge and cupboard before you look at a takeaway menu.

 

Wholefoodie love

 

E

 

 

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Teresa Floyd Food & Photography

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