Monthly Archives: May 2013

My favourite breakfast or dessert – Chia pudding

chia puddingThe other night at dinner my friends were quizzing me about my new diet! Now let me say upfront that I am not on a “diet” as such and am not advocating any particular diet, I am just interested in staying fit and healthy. A huge part of that is being careful about what you put into your body. I have always maintained, a fairly constant weight, except whilst pregnant of course. I guess I was just blessed with a fast metabolism. Those who know me would flip if they thought I was dieting to lose weight, as I am probably on the lighter side of normal! So, I suppose you would say I have altered the way I am eating to attain optimal health! I think I am heading in the right direction and like most things, it is a work in progress.

I have always eaten what most people would consider to be a pretty healthy diet. I’ve never been a fan of bread or milk. Whilst most mothers would pack their children a quick Vegemite sandwich and send them off to school, my poor mum was requested to make me a salad. In my day, they would provide milk to all of the school children except me, who was exempt and would have an orange juice instead!

My husband has a background in science and as such feels the need to base everything on research rather than just blindly following the latest trends. For some time now, he has been looking at the Paleo diet and the research to back it. Most of it seems pretty much like common sense, but there are some areas that we still haven’t found enough evidence to change what we currently do. Whilst conducting our research we have found various versions of the Paleo diet. Typically there are those who advocate a diet that is high is saturated fats such as coconut, olive oil and animal fat and others who advocate a low fat diet. In case you’re wondering, we lean towards the low fat version, but do eat some coconut cream, milk and oil on occasions.

I can’t say that we are fully Paleo, as there are other dietary restrictions that also dictate what we/I can eat.  For example, while most people following the Paleo diet would probably drink almond milk, it is high in oligos which I react to (it is a FODMAP) so I drink rice milk. I probably should add that I exercise about 5 days per week, so I figure my rice (and the odd bit of potato) intake counts as what Dr Sharon Carson calls the “athletes carb option”. While we had been eating low fructose for some time we have now dropped cane sugar out of our diet completely.

This was prompted by a few things going on around us. One of which was a local orthopaedic surgeon, Gary Fettke, who has set about to raise awareness of the perils of fructose by starting a Facebook Page and website called No Fructose. He has some great information about fructose and weight loss, for those who are interested, on his site!

At around the same time one of my friends who is battling cancer quit sugar. Whether by coincidence or not, and with a bit of help from chemotherapy as well, she currently has no cancer growing in her body. While I didn’t feel the need to read about how to go about quitting sugar, I know others do. There is a great book out by a fellow Australian Sarah Wilson called I Quit Sugar. She also has recipe books out and a great blog. There are links to these on my website.  Me being me likes to experiment with food, so I thought it would be a good idea if I cut sugar out as well and helped my friend to find products that would suit her and to adapt recipes so she didn’t feel like she was missing out on the good things in life, but without the fructose! In the mean time my husband did his research and found that there are links between fructose and cancer and that there isn’t really a beneficial use for fructose in the body. There are a whole gamut of health conditions that it’s thought that fructose contributes to. You can read more about that on the No Fructose website!

Anyway, back to our dinner conversation. I listed the things that I don’t eat which include dairy, grains, cane sugar, legumes and some fruits and vegetables. The girls wanted to know exactly what I did eat as they didn’t think there was much left! That day was a really bad example as I had been busy so only had a bit of coconut yoghurt for breakfast and some snack foods (nuts and fruit) during the day. So I thought I would share with you all a yummy breakfast that I found and adapted so that my friend could eat it, and it doesn’t contain any cane sugar!

I adapted the recipe from the very talented Alkaline Sisters. You need to make it the night before if you’re eating it for breakfast…it only takes a minute to make and is so worth it! No cooking required, and it’s really easy to take travelling with you.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons chia seeds (black, white or a mixture is fine)

1 cup milk (I use rice milk, but use any kind you like)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice (I sometimes use nutmeg instead)

1/8 teaspoon cardamon

1 teaspoon sugar free vanilla essence/extract or 1/2- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped and mixed in with the spices – also add the pod for extra flavour.

Method

Measure the chia seeds into a container. I use a glass container with a good seal.

Add spices and milk and mix very well.

Put in the fridge and in the morning your breakfast is ready to serve with fruit, nuts or whatever takes your fancy!

Advertisements

Ocean trout served with creamed spinach and a tropical salsa

20130527-222805.jpg

When I was a child I lived in Western Samoa, a group of little islands in the Pacific. It was a time that created amazing memories and impressions that will last for the rest of my life. I lived at a tourist attraction, Piula Cave pool, and met people from all over the world on a daily basis. I swam through caves and snorkelled on coral reefs that were the colours of the rainbow.

We lived in a fabulous “missionary” house that had a central courtyard in which a bunch of bananas was always hanging. Our veranda was surrounded with paw paw trees. We had huge mango trees, guavas, lime, avocados, pineapples and coconut trees. I quickly made friends with local families and was always welcomed into their homes to eat their amazing food.

The other day I was at our local green grocer’s where I saw very green bananas. In Samoa, green bananas were a staple in their diet as a vegetable. I went home and did a test run! That night I was also cooking ocean trout, which I served with a salsa. It immediately made me think of a more tropical version, which is what i cooked tonight, and yes it was a winner! So here it is, Ocean trout with (coconut) creamed spinach and a tropical salsa! The spinach is inspired by a local Samoan dish called palusami. It is traditionally made with taro leaves and baked in an umu (ground oven) This recipe serves 2.

Creamed spinach

Ingredients

150 g baby spinach leaves

1 x 270 ml can coconut milk

6 spring onions (green only for low FODMAP)

1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Heat a small saucepan on medium heat.

Add olive oil.

When hot, fry off the spring onions until just wilted.

Add spinach leaves and coconut milk and season.

Simmer for about 5 minutes or until spinach leaves are wilted.

Ocean trout with tropical salsa

Ingredients

1/4 pawpaw diced

1 small tomato diced

6 spring onions (green only for low FODMAP)

1 small bunch coriander leaves finely chopped

1/4 red capsicum diced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 lime juiced

2 fillets ocean trout (I like middle pieces of the fillet)

1 tablespoon garlic infused oil

Method

Mix all the fruit and vegetables in a small bowl and add balsamic vinegar and lime juice.

Combine ingredients well and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat frypan with oil on medium high heat.

Panfry trout for a few minutes on each side, until cooked to your liking.

To serve, divide the creamed spinach between the bowls/plates.

Place the trout on top.

Spoon generous amounts of tropical salsa over the trout and serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy my culinary journey back to the islands!

Grain free rolls

IMG_9713 aThese are the rolls I served with the Moroccan meatball tagine and are absolutely delicious and versatile.  Having eaten gluten free for a number of years, I would have to say they are the best rolls I have tasted and have the added bonus of keeping fresh for up to 5 days in an airtight container.  They only take about an hour to make from start to finished and are yeast free.  A winner by all accounts!

The original recipe that doesn’t require a Thermomix is from Maria’s Health Blog , but I use my Thermomix to make them.

There are a few versions of the recipe.  You can use almond or coconut flour and whole eggs or egg whites.  The egg whites give a lighter roll.  I’ve made both and couldn’t say I have a favourite.  The children prefer the ones made with coconut flour.

I’ll include the Thermomix recipe for the coconut flour.  The one for almond meal can be found at Thermomix Community Website.

Ingredients

60 grams coconut flour

25 grams psyllium husks (recipe says 5 tablespoons which weighs 30g, but I’ve had more success with 25g)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 full eggs or 8 egg whites

250 grams boiling water

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 celcius (350 Fahrenheit) and line a tray with baking paper.

Put coconut flour and psyllium husks in the Thermomix bowl and pulse on turbo 3-4 times.

IMG_9709Add baking powder and salt and pulse again on turbo another 3  times.

Add eggs and turn dial to closed lid and knead for 20 seconds.

Program another minute into the time settings.

Measure the boiling hot water into the Thermomix bowl and immediately set the dials to start kneading.

Using a spatula (silicon works really well) take enough mixture to make a roll of the shape and size of your choice and place on the baking tray.  I usually make 6 dinner rolls with this mixture.  Pop them into your preheated oven for between 50-65 minutes depending on the size of your rolls (mine take 55 minutes).

May 2013 013

The little balls of dough puff up in the oven and turn into these great little dinner rolls.

How easy is that and what a great alternative for those of us who choose to eat grain free!

Moroccan meatball tagine.

IMG_9716

The other day I was speaking to a dear friend who had just returned from a trip to the Middle East.  Following our conversation I was inspired to make a tagine for diner, but with the challenge of using existing ingredients from our fridge and pantry.  I have cooked this recipe for our family on several occasions before and it is liked by all.  I served it with grain free rolls (recipe to follow), but you can of course use any bread you choose.

The original recipe is from one of the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly mini cook books, Moroccan Magic.

Ingredients

500 g minced beef

1 clove garlic (if tolerated)

Fresh chilli finely chopped to taste  – can be omitted

1/4 cup fresh mint

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil (can use plain)

6 spring onions green only (or 1 onion if tolerated)

1 400g tin Organic Italian diced tomatoes (or 4 fresh tomatoes)

Pinch saffron threads

4 eggs

Approx 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves

Method

In a medium sized bowl, mix the mince, garlic (if using), mint, fresh coriander (2tbsp), cinnamon, ground coriander, 1 tsp of the cumin, salt and pepper.

Roll into balls using about a tablespoon of mixture at a time.

Heat about 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil in the tagine or large frypan and cook the meatballs until brown all over – they don’t need to be cooked all the way through!  When brown, put aside.

Heat a bit more oil in the pan/tagine and then cook the spring onions and chilli until soft.  Add the tomatoes and saffron and bring to the boil.  Add the meatballs and cook with the lid off for about 10-15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce starts to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Crack the eggs into the tagine, cover and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the eggs are just set.  Garnish with the remaining coriander and serve with bread to mop up all the yummy sauce.

Pierre’s Restaurant, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

pierres-brasserie-launcestonOn Friday night I ate at this restaurant with a group of girlfriends.  Pierre’s is somewhat of an iconic institution on the Launceston restaurant/café scene and this year has been awarded a spot at number 12 on the Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) list of Australian Restaurants.  It has been around since 1956 and in recent years has had a facelift which has modernised it’s interior without sacrificing it’s charm.  With the classic black and white tiles, rich red colours and the high back leather bench seats, Pierre’s provides a sophisticated yet relaxed dining experience and has a great pre theatre feel about it.

The restaurant is divided into two sections.  The main entrance is off George Street and is a long narrow room, dimly lit and lined with bench seating.  The Courtyard room and bar is a bit more open and light and can be accessed either from George Street or through the back, which is handy for those diners who wish to park in the Patterson Street undercover car park which is conveniently located adjacent to the restaurant.  While the back room does have smaller tables, it is also perfect for larger groups or functions.

The menu looked great and the wine list extensive, although I thought there could have been a bit more choice in the Tasmanian wine department.

OuPierres Creme Bruleer table however,  was fairly unadventurous, only ordering two of the main course dishes and two desserts.  Meals were simply presented but loaded with flavour.  The Duck confit a la orange was by all reports a superb dish.  I ordered the fish of the day, which was Atlantic salmon.  The restaurant catered well for my dietary requirements and served the fish with steamed vegetables and a slice of lemon.  The fish was moist, but cooked all the way through.  Desserts also looked great with crème brulee and a trio of sorbets being ordered.

Unfortunately the service on this occasion was a bit slow, particularly when it came to drinks.  We ended up having to go and wait at the bar to order drinks, which was a bit disappointing.  As I’ve dined here previously, I know that this isn’t always the case.

All in all it was a great dining experience and I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who is visiting Launceston.  No doubt the locals are already well aware of it’s presence!  Pierre’s is open Tuesday to Saturday for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Delicious Coconut Yoghurt

IMG_9722I just needed to quickly share my yoghurt success with you all.

I bought a yoghurt maker from http://www.greenlivingaustralia.com.au/ along with some pure pectin and vegan culture.  It all arrived last night.  So before bed, after getting a consensus from Facebook on what type of yoghurt I should make, quickly popped on a batch of the coconut variety!

I have offered samples around to friends and received 100% thumbs up.  I find it quite rich, but think I will use it as an alternative to cream.

Ingredients

1 litre of the coconut cream

2 teaspoons of pure pectin

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

A “smidgen” of culture

Method

Pop into the yoghurt maker

Plug it into the power and turn it on.

Leave for 8-12 hours.

yoghurt

In the morning I was greeted with this creamy, deliciousness!

 

Now to try rice milk!

Awesome FODMAP app for iphones/ipads/ianything!!!

app-phoneBefore I retire for the evening, I just want to let everyone know about a FANTASTIC app that has made eating low FODMAP so much easier.  It cost me $10.49, but quite seriously it has been well worth the money, and besides the money you pay goes straight back into research!   Unfortunately it is not yet available for Android users, but should be later in the year.

Some of you are probably asking what low FODMAP is by now. I’m not going to explain it here, instead, I’ll get you to follow the link to the Monash University website where they’ll explain it a whole lot better!.

The app has a food guide that can be tailored to your FODMAP intolerances, a recipe section and shopping list.  It also has a copy of their low FODMAP booklet and a section and  a challenge section where you can record your dietary intake and improvement/symptoms while eating your low FODMAP diet.

The developers say they will update the information every 12 months, so buy away to fund more research so that the eating guide grows!