Monday, September 30, 2013

Eat It readers! If you are still out there...  I am so sorry for disappearing for this long! But exciting things are brewing (at last!). 

Here is a little taster of what is to come...
See you soon with fresh new gears x

Monday, April 8, 2013

I haven't forgotten about you!

Mid Jan - My first attempt at growing celery. These babies are nearly ready to eat now! 

To my lovely readers! What can I say other than, I'm sorry for the delay in posting recipes. The new website is under construction, and I am adjusting to my new life back at school - what an amazing adventure it has been. But boy, time disappears very quickly. I'm really excited to share with you the changes I've been making and there are a lot of things happening in April to make that possible for you!

In the mean time, I will try and get a few recipes up for your eating pleasure. But today I thought I would just share a couple of my snaps from the beautiful summer of 2012/2013. 

Growing our first ever vegetable garden - I had to put this one up... This was a couple of months ago and I love looking back at this to see where it all began.
One of my favourite summer salads - roasted beetroot, avocado, rocket and red onion on brown lentils with creamy yoghurt tahini dressing. I might have to post this recipe soon while the last of the avocados are making there mark on the early autumn.
Sunsets from my deck. Delicious!
Keep your eyes peeled - there is more to come, I promise! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

oaty coconut slice, with lemon and pistachios

Moving to a big new city is full on. Luckily, I'm loving the change, grounding my roots and enjoying all of the busy-ness. I grew up in a place that boasts many city-like qualities, but its small scale - petite and modest . I like it like that and up until a year or so ago, I'd never imagined living in New Zealand's Big Smoke - the intensity and fast paced nature of it all, seemed a bit too much for me. However, when I decided I wanted to seriously head down the holistic health and food path, the Auckland doors opened with some opportunities for me to study nutrition. I opened my mind to it and great things happened. I'll gladly admit this new Auckland adventure packs a lot of punch and I'm loving every minute of it.
Naturally, I've been seeing and experiencing many new things here, and all of this exploring has seriously got the creative juices flowing. I'm buzzing with ideas for the blog. I've been so energised with all things new (along with a lovely holiday after leaving Korea to really clear the mind and fill it with lots of new goodies and thoughts), that I couldn't help myself... I've decided to revamp the blog!

I'm not going to give away too many hints. But there are definitely going to be some big changes. I'm excited about it, and hopefully you are too.
So as a (pre) celebration for the blog's new look and a 'hooray' to new beginnings, I thought I'd whip up this coconut slice. I love it because it's not as rich and dense as many sweet treats can be. But it's very definitely still treaty! I've actually grabbed this recipe from one of my new (and favourite!) cook books - Sprouted Kitchen, by Sara Fort with photography by her man Hugh Fort. I've been wanting to share one of Sara's recipes for a while now. I love her work, writing and food. And considering I'm on a creative and motivational buzz right now I thought I'd share a recipe from someone who very seriously inspires me to stay in that frame of mind.
Coconut is also something that gets me inspired! It's delicious, versatile, really, really reeeeeally good for you and did I mention it already??... DELICIOUS! From a nutritional perspective, coconut oil wins all round. However, I've decided to pull back a little with my nutritional facts until I start studying (don't worry my first day of school is tomorrow!). The internet is packed with a whole load of information about what might be good for you, and what might not be and I'm by no means discrediting the wonders of the interweb. Therefore, I really want to make a conscious effort to start sharing in-depth facts about food as I learn them through my education. 

But for a bit of background on coconut oil (because really, I just can't help myself!) - it contains medium chain fatty acids that are quick and easy for our bods to process, digest and convert to energy. So, if combined with a healthy balanced diet, and eaten in moderation, coconut oil is not a fat to be feared, but rather celebrated! It's important to know that our bodies need particular fats to work properly; just like putting oil in our cars to make them run - without it, you just wont go.

I've adapted this recipe a little. Mainly because I didn't have the exact ingredients on hand. When I made it, it did look a little different to Sara's, and it set differently to what I'd imagined. But I was still satisfied. I really enjoyed the addition of a little salt, and wholegrain oats - it gave it an earthier and wholesome flavour. Perfect with a cuppa in the evening when you need a little extra something, but don't want a super sweet hit.

Give this a try if you like and see what you think. Thank you Sara for your inspiration!

oaty coconut slice with lemon and pistachios 
(adapted from Sprouted Kitchen's Coconut Lime Tart)

1 cup wholegrain oats
1/4 cup spelt flour (or whatever flour you fancy)
1/3 cup pistachios
1 Tbl honey
5 Tbl coconut oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1-2 Tbl water

1 can coconut milk 
1/3 cup natural cane sugar (I used light muscovado)
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbl coconut flour (you could try another flour)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt (ground a bit if you are using rock salt)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

toasted shredded coconut to sprinkle on top

Line a baking tin (I used 20cm by 20 cm tin) with baking paper. Sara suggests using a pan with a removable bottom. I didn't have one but positioned the baking paper in such a way that helped me to lift out the slice from the tin with the edges of paper. Add the first three ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a coarse flour. Next add the honey, coconut oil and salt. Pulse again to combine. You may like to rub the ingredients together a little with your hands if the honey and oil holds together. Continue to pulse while slowly adding the water till the mixture starts to hold together (you may need a little more or less). Evenly press the mixture into the prepared tin and encourage just a little up the sides. Cover and leave in the fridge to chill for 1-5 hours.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C on bake. 

With a fork, pierce the base a few times and put in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until it just begins to warm in colour. Set aside to cool. Turn down the oven to 160 degrees C. In a sauce pan add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, lemon zest and flour (sifted). Let it cool a little and then whisk in the lemon juice, egg, egg yolk, salt and vanilla. Leave again until it reaches room temperature then pour it over the cooled crust. Bake in the oven until the filling is just setting in the middle. The original recipe suggested 25 minutes, but I had it in the oven for about 40 minutes. Just keep an eye on it. When it's cooled a little, sprinkle over some toasted coconut and set in the fridge for a couple of hours (ideally overnight).

Slice into your desired size squares, eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fabulous Fermentation Week - tempeh with greens, goats cheese and fresh strawberries

Things just got really exciting! Two of my food blogging guru's (they don't know it, but I've been geek-ing out on their recipes and blogs for a while now!) - Sarah Britton (My New Roots) and Elenore Bendel Zahn (Earthsprout) - banded together to spread the goodness of fermented foods and created the wonderfully delicious "Fabulous Fermentation Week". The pair devoted this week to posting yummy and interesting fermented food recipes and invited a load of other bloggers to do the same. I very quickly jumped at the chance to get involved and add my own fermented-food-inspired dish.
Both Sarah and Elenore got right down to it and shared with their readers just how easy it is to ferment your own food. I was especially excited to see Sarah's Kimchi post - after returning to New Zealand from my year in Korea, I have been craving and seriously missing my daily dose of Kimchi, but thanks to Sarah I've learnt just how easy it is to make it yourself at home! And taking a look at Elenore's Sauerkraut... well I've never seen purple cabbage look quite so delicious! Sarah and Elenore's do-it-yourself Fabulous Fermentation Week efforts are such a treat to read and learn from. Make sure you check them out.

Rather than attempting the fermentation process myself, I've decided to share a dish that has a fermented food as its star ingredient - my Fabulous Fermentation Week contribution is a fresh throw together bowl of tempeh with greens, goats cheese and strawberries. 

Tempeh (as pictured above) is indeed made from soy beans and there is no doubt a lot to talk about when it comes to soy products and where you stand with regards the soy-controversy. I personally am not a fan of many soy foods because they are usually heavily processed, genetically modified and mass grown and contain a load of toxins we should stare clear of. 

As many of you may already know, Chinese cultures have been eating soy beans for years. But it is their well mastered technique of fermenting the bean to rid it of toxins, unlock its nutrients and increase our ability to digest it that much of the western world has managed to forget, or rather, ignore. Although I've skimmed over it a little now, it is not my purpose in this post to educate you on the truths behind soy - I am still learning myself, but there is information out there that I encourage you to read so that you can come to your own conclusions.

Thankfully, there is some light at the end of my soy tunnel. When you eat soy beans that have been fermented and produced in a conscious and organic nature, you are boosting your bod with a serious protein hit. And let's not forget about the whole purpose of this weeks post - fermented foods are packed with bacteria (don't worry - the good stuff) that help our bodies go go go (pop on over to My New Roots or Earthsprout to learn a load more about the abundance of nutrients in fermented foods). 

Tempeh is a soy food that I don't mind dabbling in thanks to the fermentation process. It has strong roots in Indonesian culture and is made with whole soy beans that are fermented in a starter culture (a fungus called rhizopus oligoporus, if you'd like to know). Tempeh has a very strong flavour - nutty, tangy and quite rich. It is an acquired taste for sure, but one that I recommend trying out a few times. It grows on you. Luckily, there are tempeh producers out there who are going about getting it in our stores ethically. Check out a health food store and you're bound to find some in the refrigerated section. Many manufacturers add in other grains which you might like to look out for and avoid. Just have a good read over of the pack! 

I've packed a load of greens into this bowl. Namely rocket (or arugula) to add a spicy crunch that I find helps balance the deep earthy-ness of the tempeh. I've combined fresh raw greens (mainly rocket, but feel free to top it up with kale or lettuce greens etc) with some sautéed silver beet, zucchinis and leeks and then just heated through the tempeh. I like this combination as it adds more guts to the dish and makes it enjoyable in the current southern and northern hemisphere climates. To give it a creamy salty finish I've happily crumbled over some goats milk feta and topped it off with some fresh strawberries that give bursts of sweetness to excite your taste buds even more. 

Feel free to skip out the feta if you'd prefer to keep this a dairy free meal!

Fabulous Fermentation Week!

tempeh with greens, goats cheese and fresh strawberries
serves 2

for the pan...
approx 1 Tbls olive oil
bottom 1/3 small leek - thinly sliced
1 small zucchini - cut into small rounds 
150 grams of organic tempeh - cut into small cubes (as seen above)
1-2 Tbls organic wheat free soy sauce or nama shoyu
1 packed cup silver beet - roughly chopped

for the salad bowl...
two decent handfuls of rocket (& your choice of roughly chopped greens) per person

to finish...
100 grams goat's milk feta - crumbled
6-8 strawberries - leafy top removed and roughly quartered 
juice of half a lemon
a few good glugs of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil 
rock salt to taste

Chop and prepare the leeks, zucchini and tempeh as outlined above. Heat 1 Tbls of olive oil in a hot pan and then add the sliced leek. Once the leek begins to soften and starts to turn translucent in colour add the zucchini and stir together for about a minute. Next add the tempeh. After 30 seconds or so, poor in the sauce soy and quickly stir through. The pan will steam up nicely. Reduce to a medium heat and continue to cook for another minute or two. Add the silver beet and cover with a lid to encourage it to wilt down. This should take a minute or so, then remove lid and stir together. Turn off element and leave aside to cool a little.

Divide the handfuls of rocket into two salad bowls - one bowl for each person. Prepare the strawberries and set aside. Layer the pan-cooked vegetables over the rocket bowls. Divide the feta and crumble over each dish. Add the strawberries, a light squeeze of lemon juice and a good dashing of olive oil. Lightly toss through. Finish with a little crunch of salt if you'd like, bearing in mind the saltiness of the feta.

I hope you can give this dish a try. Luckily, everyone can take their part in Fabulous Fermentation Week! If you don't have a food blog then just get cooking and try out some fermented foods. Enjoy xx


Monday, January 14, 2013

cheery and almond clafoutis with lemony coconut whipped cream

I'm a little excited to say that my first post for the New Year comes from my darling friend Emily Lucas. This wonder woman writes a fantastic foodie-blog called Super Foodie Adventure and I'm a huge fan of what she rustles up in the kitchen! 

Last week I made the move from Dunedin to Auckland and prior to the big drive north I was ridiculously busy getting ready to go. During my last Dunedin-date with Emily (for a while anyway), we chatted about all of the usuals - friends, family, christmas, our New Year plans and of course... Food! We'd thought about collaborating together with some food-magic for a while, and decided we'd start with some shared posts. The timing couldn't be better for me, as I must admit, I've been a tad frantic with this whole moving business and leaving little time for my blog. 

So Emily dearest, thank you very much for sharing this delicious recipe with me and everyone who visits this space. I'm so happy to share your work and I'm especially grateful that we could do it now while I wade through suitcases, house hunt and settle into this new city!


Emily's Cherry & Almond Clafoutis with Lemony Coconut Whipped Cream 

To me, there is nothing more quintessentially French than clafoutis. The wunderkind of French desserts, clafoutis (kla-foo-tee) lies somewhere between a frangapine tart and a baked custard. Clafoutis hails from the Limousin region of France and is traditionally baked with the pits of the cherries still in tact, in order to ‘saveur le flavour’. To protect your precious pearly whites, my recipe requires the pits to be laboriously removed. This initial slaving over the stove is short-lived, as the simplicity of this dessert is its saving grace. A spread, a splash, a whisk, a sprinkle and viola! Pop it in the oven and await the sweet cherry almond scent to permeate the house.
Cherries are aplenty right now. The cream of the crop are grown in Central Otago, just a few hours away from where we live in Dunedin (New Zealand). These cherries are renowned for being the sweetest, juiciest, shiniest you’ve ever had the pleasure of laying your mitts on. Cherries are however not just a pretty face – they are one of Mother Earth’s most powerful anti-inflammatory sources due to the presence of anthocyanins, which research has unveiled prevents free radical damage and improves memory. Cherries also contain melatonin, a hormone which assists in regulating sleep cycles.
I’ve made this dessert with almond milk which works superbly, but clafoutis also works well with other milks especially cow’s milk. I’ve adapted the recipe from the Australian Taste website and given their clafoutis recipe a Super Foodie makeover, ensuring the recipe is dairy-free (if you prefer), gluten-free and using a minimally refined sugar. I’ve used coconut palm sugar, but you can use any sugar you like, as long as it’s not the over-processed, bleached and filtered white variety. Coconut palm sugar is made from coconut tree nectar and has a naturally low glycemic index compared to other sugars. It also has a higher nutrient content and is a source of potassium, zinc, iron and magnesium. When choosing coconut palm sugar, ensure it is the purest you can find in the organic section, as some brands can be mixed with cane sugar.
This photo was taken by my delightfully Hilarious Sidekick Rachael Lawrence Lodge, who provided the creative direction for the shoot. Before we demolished the clafoutis, naturally. Dankeschön, Liebling!
Coconut oil for greasing the dish
500 grams of fresh cherries, pitted
2/3 of a cup of ground almonds
1/2 a cup of coconut palm sugar or coconut sugar
A tablespoon of honey
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups of almond milk (or cows milk if you prefer)
A vanilla pod, deseeded or a teaspoon of vanilla essence or paste
The zest of a lemon
A can of refrigerated coconut cream
A vanilla pod, deseeded or a teaspoon of vanilla essence or paste
The zest of a lemon
A teaspoon of honey
1/3 of a cup of sliced almonds
A sprinkling of fruit, a sprig of fresh mint or lemon zest for garnishing
Heat the oven to 180 degrees. In a frying pan, toast the almonds until golden brown and allow to cool. Grease a large dish with coconut oil. Pit the cherries and place evenly in the greased dish. In a bowl, mix the ground almonds and sugar together and form a well.
In a jug, whisk the eggs and add the almond milk, vanilla and the zest of one of the lemons. Gently pour the liquid into the sugar and almond well and combine. Pour into the dish and sprinkle with toasted almond flakes.
Cook for 30 minutes or until the middle is springy. Allow to cool until slightly warm.
Separate the creamiest part of the coconut cream by gently spooning it out of the refrigerated can (use the  surplus liquid for smoothies or Banana, Date and Coconut Baked Porridge).
Add the vanilla, zest of the second lemon and honey and whisk to form peaks. Transfer into a serving bowl and refrigerate. Garnish with whatever you please and serve with the warm clafoutis. Bon Appetit!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

roasted capsicum and coconut dip

'Tis the silly season and I'm pretty happy about it. The countdown is now on. But unlike my childhood years my christmas excitement is less directed towards christmas morning and presents from Santa, and more about the days surrounding the 25th - family arriving from different corners, lots of food to cook and enjoy, reunions with old friends returning to their home towns, and lazy post-christmas-day holidays spent eating left overs, lapping up some sunshine and reflecting on what's hopefully been for all - a pretty good year. 

There are always a lot of people around my family christmas, and there's one thing my mother has taught me about hosting guests - there should always be a platter! Growing up, whenever we had visitors (at any time of the year), my sister and I were on lock down. Before guests would arrive, no one could leave the house until every room was spring cleaned - bathroom taps polished and dust out of all the cracks and corners and all. This mad cleaning schedule meant that by the time people were arriving Mum was literally jumping through the shower and getting herself ready as they were walking up the drive. And so, it became my job to put together a platter of delicious nibbles, because there was absolutely no time left for Mum to do it, but she insisted we couldn't possibly go without. And so, with the fridge at my disposal I could put together my own foody-work-of-art - which at age 12, made me feel quite grownup and important. Many years on, if I am at home and we've friends coming over, by default it is my job to put together a platter.

So with christmas at my parents just around the corner and more family visitors and guests popping in then you can count - it is crucial that the fridge is fully stocked with platter goodies. This year I plan to make up a few bulk pestos (check out two I've whipped up here and here), a classic hummus and then one dip that is a little different - roasted capsicum and coconut dip. That way I know I'll be prepared the minute someone walks in the door. I can throw together a selection of dips, some crackers or crunchy bread, some cheese if I fancy and I think I'll have myself some happy customers. 

The flavour combo in today's dish is quite special. The sweetness of the roasted capsicums sit so beautifully with the creamy coconut - it gives off quite a thai-style flavour burst. It's super easy to put together and if you make a load of it, you'll find yourself grabbing it from the fridge for more than just a platter essential - I love to throw it through some pasta as a quick and easy sauce, (if you try my zucchini fettucini recipe, it works well as a replacement for the pesto and completely changes the dishes taste-profile). I also like to have it on hand for a mid afternoon snack with some freshly chopped vegetables.  

roasted red capsicum and coconut dip

4 large or 5 medium capsicums (red, orange or yellow are best)
1 Tbls coconut or olive oil
1 large kumara/red potato - chopped in to small cubes
3 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
1 tsp rock salt or flaky sea salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 finely diced small red chilli (optional)
1 Tbls extra coconut oil (optional for boosted flavour)
1 cup cannelini beans
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup olive oil
water to thin

Heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Prepare kumara and place in a roasting dish with a little olive oil. Rub the capsicums with your choice of olive or coconut oil and place in a separate roasting dish. Put both dishes in the oven. Leave the Kumara till it turns golden and starts to crisp (about 20 minutes), remove from the oven and leave to cool. Check Capsicums after 15/20 mins and turn them. The bottom side should be turning a dark roasted brown colour and starting to blister. Continue cooking and turning till their whole surface has taken on the blistering brown complexion about 40-50 mins (see pictures above and below). Remove from oven and leave to cool. If you have the time, cover them while cooling as this will help them sweat and make their skins easy to remove. 

Once the capsicums have cooled to at least room temperature peel their skins and remove their green stalk and seeds. Add the capsicum flesh, along with the roasted kumara, garlic, salt, lemon juice and optional chilli and coconut oil to a food processor. Pulse and blend till all ingredients are well combined. Next add the beans and coconut cream and blend together. Leaving the food processor on slowly pour oil through the top shoot. Turn off the processor and try the mixture. Let your tast buds decides whether it needs a little more salt, chilli or water to thin the consistency. I like this dip quite smooth and velvety, so leave the processor running for a few minutes, but it is delicious left chunky too. You may need to help your food processor along and mix in any ingredients that run up the side of the bowl.

I love whipping this out for my friends as it has such an interesting flavour and is something a little different to add to your christmas menu!

Monday, December 10, 2012

chocolate quinoa breakfast pudding

I've been wondering how to compile this post for some time now. Because quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) deserves such star treatment, a red carpet entry and the whole world to see it in all its glory, I was a little nervous to choose a recipe to showcase it. I eat quinoa at least two or three times a week - for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or dessert. Because there are so many yummy ways to enjoy it, I realised I'd never be able to choose the one perfect quinoa dish to share with you. So a few nights ago I made a promise to myself - the next time I cook quinoa, I'm taking photos, writing down the recipe and posting it. No second thoughts! Just hurry up, get on with it and share the quinoa love.

That was while I was tucked up in bed and drifting off to sleep. As it turns out, the next morning I found myself in the kitchen all giddy and excited preparing chocolate quinoa breakfast pudding in a pot on the stove. Recipe block over. I was soon to have a satisfied tum and my quinoa blog post - double win!

I've been enjoying quinoa porridge and the like for breakfast for some time now, but on this particular morning, I had some oats that needed finishing, a craving for a sweet treat and a friendly jar of cacao giving me eyes from the pantry. If the idea of pudding for breakfast is a little too much for you (although I'm sure most of you will feel quite fine about the idea, just this once, right?) then feel free to save this recipe for a more dessert-appropriate hour. Alternatively,  you could leave out the cacao so it's not so rich. Otherwise, follow as I do - pudding for breakfast? YES PLEASE.

Quinoa has been enjoyed and consumed in South America, namely the Andes region - Peru, Equador, Bolivia and Columbia for thousands of years. It has been said that the Incas considered it a sacred crop and called it the 'mother of all grains'. And that it is! Well, kind of - interestingly, although quinoa looks much like a grain, it is actually a seed. I've even heard some call it a pseudo-grain. Whatever you like to roll with - grain or seed - quinoa is delicious and bursting with nutritional loveliness. 

I especially love this wonder-seed for it's protein-rich qualities - unlike many other grains, seeds or legumes, quinoa boasts all the essential amino acids. Amino acids are what make up the protein needed in our bodies in order for us to function. Essential amino acids are essential because the body cannot produce them on it's own and must obtain them from specific foods. A combination of all essential amino acids are sometimes harder to find in plant based foods and are more commonly found in meat. But hoorah to quinoa! - A plant based food that gives it all. 

Quinoa is full of fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, is low in fat, has a good dash of calcium and is gluten free. In other words, it's full of all the good stuff! Taste wise it is very unique. I love it's nutty, earthy flavour that is interesting enough to really boost a dish, yet mild and versatile enough, allowing it to be prepared in both sweet and savoury dishes. You'll find quinoa at any health food store, and in recent years I've noticed it popping up at some supermarkets. I recommend hitting your nearest health food shop though as you can usually buy it in bulk there and for a more affordable price.

Now, I think I have given you enough reasons to jump on the quinoa-wagon, if you haven't already! I've also expressed my deep love for cacao and some of its nutritional benefits in an earlier post. So when I combine this chocolatey goodness with my great mate quinoa, I've got myself some serious soul-mate action in a bowl. 

chocolate quinoa breakfast pudding

(serving for one)
1/3 cup quinoa - washed and drained*
1 cup water (and a little more, to add at the end)
1 small apple - cored and chopped into small pieces (see photo)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Tbls dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots etc)
Tbls of honey (less if you're using a really sweet blend)
Tbls cacao powder
Tbls walnuts - roughly chopped
1/4 cup rolled oats (or 1 Tbls chia seeds if you'd prefer a gluten free option)
1/3 cup milk - your choice of cows, rice, soy etc
half cup fresh blueberries (optional - but oh so delicious)

Gluten Free Option - Please note, I have called for rolled oats in this recipe however they are not always gluten free due to the wheat products they can come into contact with during processing. If you are gluten intolerant make sure the packet confirms they are gluten free. Alternatively you can replace the 1/3 cup of oats with extra quinoa - In the initial stages add 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 1/4 cups of water. When the recipe calls for oats, instead add 1 Tbls chia seeds and continue adding a dash more water or milk as the recipe suggests till the mixture reaches your desired consistency. 

In a pot on the stove combine quinoa with water, half of the chopped apple, cinnamon, dried fruit and honey. Bring to the boil, give a quick stir and then lower to a simmer. Cover with a firm lid and leave for 12 minutes (I use a gas stove which gives me a lot of control over the heat. If using an electric stove, you can always try turning the element right off for the twelve minutes as the element sometimes take a while to cool down. If you know your oven well, you'll know what is best to achieve a 'simmering' temperature). 

After 12 minutes, remove lid and give the mixture a stir. Keep the element on a simmering heat. Add cacao powder and half of the walnuts and combine. Next add the oats and stir together. The mixture will immediately dry out so add a Tbls of water, then Tbls of milk intermittently while stirring, until you have used all of the milk and the oats have cooked. During this process the oats and liquid will bring all the ingredients together to make a porridge-like consistency. Feel free to add more or less liquid if you think it is necessary. 

Pour into a bowl and top with the rest of your apple, blueberries and a sprinkling of walnuts. Add an extra dash of milk if you'd like and sit down to enjoy this delightful sweet-treat breakfast that's super packed with healthy goodness to set you up for the day.

*It's a good idea to wash your quinoa before eating it due to its saponin coating. This coating naturally occurs during cultivation and has a bitter taste which is undesirable to birds that might otherwise try to destroy the crop (pretty cool what nature gets up to, huh?). If you've a fine sieve, place quinoa inside and run water through it while massage it with your hands. Even better, leave your quinoa soaking over night and then rinse clean before cooking. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

throw together stir fry

Finally! I'm back. New Zealand - it is very VERY great to see you again. The past few weeks have been seriously full - coffee dates, reunions, burning holes in all my pockets, wallets and bank accounts, and not keeping up with eat it posts (sorry!). More details, recipes, photos and stories from my venture home after Korea will make their way onto the blog as I settle back in to a slightly more structured lifestyle. For now though, I can at last share this easy brown rice stir fry that I'd promised a few posts back. 

In my zucchini fettuccine post I wrote about some of my thoughts on the good and bad behind carbohydrates. Check it out here for more background info. I've become more aware in recent years that not all carbohydrate foods are right for me, namely refined grains such as white flour and white rice. So I've had to adjust some things and lower my intake of particular foods. But this does not mean I want to seriously cut out carbohydrates for good (sorry Dr. Atkins). 

This may seem a little out of the blue, but I want to rewind just a little - back to those angst ridden teenage years. Remember if your parents ever said "no!", you'd want to say "yes!", right? If rules were in place, you'd want to break them? Am I ringing any bells? Well, the same goes for me now that I'm an adult. But rather than battling with parents over house parties and riding in cars, it's food that has become the topic of debate. If I'm told I'm not allowed to eat white doughy pizza crust because it's bad for me, then I'll be breaking bars to find the stuff. The whole concept of a 'diet' or not being allowed to eat certain foods makes me feel uneasy.

I have a sneaky feeling that some of you can relate to this concept and have probably experienced, at some point in your life, the yoyo effect - dieting and cutting out a certain food from your diet, feeling deprived and then compensating by introducing it back in with full force. Thankfully I now know that's not a healthy pattern! I never want to associate deprivation, hunger, not allowed and DIET with food. My solution instead is to introduce and welcome new, healthy and delicious foods!

When I introduce foods that are really good for me, I notice that foods that don't bode well with my digestion or body, disappear from my menu quite easily. By consciously channeling my focus onto healthy foods that I should eat (instead of obsessing over foods that I shouldn't eat), the idea of deprivation never comes to mind. 

So in keeping with the theme, here is another dish that introduces a healthy whole grain, is a great carbohydrate source, fills you up and will have you dreaming of more ways to welcome it into your diet.

Why Brown and Black Rice? - White rice is polished and refined so that the hul, bran and germ are removed, depleting it of its fibre and nutrients. Unlike white rice, brown and black rice only have the hul (the outer layer of the rice grain) removed, retaining it's nutritional make-up and boosting us with a bunch of natural goodness. 

Brown rice is extremely high in soluble fiber which is not only great for our digestive system but helps us to feel full for longer and can lower our chances of overeating. Let's not stop at fiber though. Other essential minerals in brown rice include manganese, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, potassium, iron, and a bunch of B vitamins. Manganese for one, is needed to build strong bones, helps us to metabolise cholesterol and fats, and aides in the absorption of vitamins.

Black rice takes it a step further - it packs all the brown rice punch, but its rich and deep dark colour provides super antioxidant levels. These help our bodies stay clean and neutralise toxins that creep inside us through processed foods, pollution and other chemicals. 

Oh, and did I mention it looks amazing. I love its deep tone and the way it contrasts against the brown rice. Black rice is a little harder to come by in supermarkets however and tends to be priced a tad higher than brown. So don't fear if you can't use it in this recipe. If you've not tried either variety before, it's good to know that the taste is different to white rice. It's nuttier, richer and, well, just more interesting! Give it a go.

throw together stir fry

I've kept the flavours in this dish relatively simple to showcase the complexity in taste of the brown/black rice. The nature of most stir fry meals in my kitchen is usually very last minute and thrown together when I can't be bothered with anything too extravagant and want a quick and easy meal. For this reason I've tried to use simple flavours and ingredients that are staples in my pantry and fridge. What I love about a stir fry is that you can throw in whatever veg you've got and add a shake or sprinkle of whatever sauces or condiments take your fancy. I'm not sticking to any traditional recipe here, so please feel free to experiment with your own flavour combinations. The main goal of this post is to encourage you to try out brown and/or black rice. Enjoy!

serving for 2
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice*
1 1/2 cups cooked black rice**
2/3 cup shaved almonds - lightly dry toasted***

2 Tbls sesame oil (or preferred cooking oil)
1 large onion - finely sliced
4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
2 Tbls fresh ginger - finely chopped
1-2 small dried red chillies - crushed, seeds removed to desired heat, and finely chopped
1 carrot - cut into thin strips similar to the red capsicum
2 medium sized red capsicums - seeded and cut into thin long slices
1/2 head broccoli - cut into small florets
2 Tbls brown rice vinegar (if you don't have this, lemon juice might complement nicely)
2 Tbls water (more if the pan requires it)
4 Tbls soy sauce (look for wheat free varieties if you'd like to keep this dish gluten free, or alternatively use tamari - this has a stronger flavour so you may need to adjust quantities)
Cracked pepper

Begin by preparing all vegetables and removing rice from the fridge so it is not so cold when it comes time to cook with it. Add sesame oil to a hot pan and once it glides easily across the bottom add onions and garlic. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Reduce heat a little and add the ginger and chilli. Continue to stir until the ginger is fragrant. Boost the heat and add the carrots. It's really important the pan is piping hot at this point. Toss them through the pan and add 1 Tbls of vinegar. As the carrots start to warm add the other vegetables and continue to move them so they are evenly cooked. Add another Tbls of vinegar. This will create steam for the vegetables to cook in. As soon as the pan dries out again, replace this step by adding water. 

Once the vegetables are heated through but still crunchy, add the rice, soy sauce and pepper. Combine everything together and keep on a medium to high heat until the rice is hot. Just before serving, mix through the almonds (leaving a little for garnish). Have a taste and add a sprinkling of salt, some more soy sauce and a dash more vinegar if you think it needs it. Serve in warm bowls with an extra topping of almonds.

* I like to cook up a batch of brown rice at the start of the week and use it as I need it - usually in a stir fry and cold rice salad. I find using rice that was cooked the day before/cold brown rice works really well in this dish. But if you don't have time you can cook it whilst preparing the vegetables. Then, simply place the rice in a sieve and run a cold tap over it to cool it down a little, before bringing it back to temperature with the other flavours in the stir fry pan. There are many different methods used to cook brown rice so you can follow cooking directions on the back of the packet. I usually add it to a pot with at least three times as much water and cook with the lid ajar on a rolling boil for about 20-25 mins, drain then cool. It has a much firmer bite then white rice, so don't be afraid by this texture and overcook it! 

** I like to cook the black rice in a separate pot to the brown so it doesn't stain the colour of the brown rice. Depending on the grain too, the black can sometimes take a little longer to cook. By separating them you avoid staining and uneven cooking and end up with a lovely colour contrast in your bowl. Remember too, if you don't have black rice, this dish is still great without it.

*** To toast the almonds, place them in a dry pan over a low heat. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn, and toss them every 30 seconds or so for an even toast. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

my year in korea caught on film

If you didn't know already, I'm currently on the road adventuring through South East Asia and then homeward bound. Initially I thought I was super organised on the post front, but it's definitely taking me a little longer than usual to write and publish posts! I am however putting a lot of energy into enjoying incredible food from different places - Vietnam, Loas and Thailand. Of course the food is a huge focus on my journey. My plan is to take as many snaps, lap up and eat a whole load of deliciousness and write, cook and learn along the way. Once I've returned home then I'll get on to some more formulated posts and recipes and give you a true taste of my South East Asia trip through the food I ate. I do have a few posts tucked up my sleeve from when I was in Korea but please bear with me if they are not as regularly published. I will try to keep up a steady flow! 

I know last week I'd promised a follow-up recipe - an easy throw together stir fry, but I have a few final touches I want to make. I plan to be sitting on a beach on the coast of Cambodia next week, so I imagine I'll find some time there to finish it up. For now, I have something a little different to share...

The weeks leading up to this trip were filled with excitement, lots of lists and a whole load of anticipation. My busy bustling self was so caught up in all of the hype that it's only now that the reality of leaving Korea is sinking in.

Deciding to move to Korea was a pretty quick-snap and suprise decision. I'd never really given the place much thought as somewhere to live until the idea was put right in front of my face. It's seems strange to think that was all over a year ago now though. My experience there was amazing, crazy, beautiful, frustrating, interesting, unique, challenging and wonderful. Towards the end of my year contract, some days I'd sit at my desk at work and feel like Korea had been home for years. Other times, it was hard to believe that any more than a few months had passed.

It seemed an impossible task to wrap up the whole experience through writing in just one post. Instead I thought I'd share it through some photos I took along the way.

There are some snaps to follow from the coldest winter I've ever endured, the completion of my first half marathon, trips to Seoul, hikes up mountains, a visit from Ryan's parents, of food, of people, of streets; this is my year in Korea caught on film. That's enough said from me I think. I'll let the  pictures do the talking... 

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