Green breakfast with poached eggs

The Life Holistic kale egg breakfast

It’s been a few weeks since our last post… my bad. For those of you who don’t know, I (Jacqui; I usually write the posts and design some recipes, Nikki styles and takes the photo’s and Georgia does the other half of the recipes) started a medical degree at Sydney University this year, and we had our first major exam last week. To be honest, it was a lesson in balance and forgiveness. I lost it there for a bit. I spent too much time pondering the spirometry patterns for restrictive and obstructive lung disease than looking after myself. We all do it sometimes. As we get busier and take on more and more, the basic stuff sort of gets lost in the pile. This can be forgiven for short periods of time, our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt. However, if we continue down this path, like a mathematician that forgets basic algebra, we start to see cracks in our equations.

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It starts with things like feeling tired more than usual, maybe you notice your mood changing, then it progresses and you notice you are getting sick more often. Not looking after yourself is just another form of stress on the body. Like any stress, it will respond by using all of its resources in trying to outrun the stress. This means you are constantly in a state of deprivation. There is less immune protection, growth stops, libido wanes and if that is not enough, you start to look older. The body stops trying to repair itself and focuses more on survival. After all, a thousand years ago when that stress might have been a lion chasing after you, you don’t need to look good to outrun a lion (…your butt does maybe).

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This actually has a lot to do with this recipe (funnily enough). Greens are an easy way to sneak loads of antioxidants into your diet. Antioxidants are what our body uses to fight oxygen free radicals, which basically age us. When we are stressed, we produce more of these free radicals. Therefore during stressful times, we actually need MORE nutrition than normal. Unfortunately (like it was for me), it is often the other way around. I find the best way to combat cravings is to close my eyes and concentrate on 10 deep breaths. Then I remind myself that I can eat something nutritious the next meal time. I find it cuts the intensity out of the craving and brings back some self control. Another tip: when we are stressed, we use more brain power. Our brain normally uses 20% of our energy needs, so if you are going through an intense time, you will probably need to eat a little more. Listen to that and the cravings won’t be so bad.

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This recipe is a homage to my favourite cafe in Byron Bay, Bayleaf. If you are ever in the area, you have to hit up this locals favourite. This is my take on (in my opinion), the best dish on the menu. We hope you enjoy.

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Green breakfast with poached eggs

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup raw buckwheat
  • 1 small floret broccoli
  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of rocket
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 thai chilli
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley
  • Handful of pepitas, sunflower seeds and pistachios
  • ½ avocado
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 organic, free range eggs

 

Method

  1. First, soak the buckwheat in filtered water for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. When ready to prepare, rinse buckwheat with a strainer, empty into a pot with ½ cup water. Bring to the boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes until just tender. Drain any excess water and leave to stand.
  3. Steam broccoli for 5 minutes (should still be crispy). Leave to cool.
  4. Roughly chop kale, rocket, broccoli, shallots, chilli and parsley. Mix in a bowl.
  5. To the bowl add the pepitas, sunflower seeds, pistachios and buckwheat.
  6. Chop avocado and add.
  7. Top with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix and taste.

To poach the eggs:

  1. Bring a pot of water (deep enough to drop eggs into) to boil. Then turn down heat until bubbles are no longer forming and water is still.
  2. Crack eggs into two separate small bowls or mugs.
  3. One at a time, gently drop eggs into pan.
  4. Cook for approximately 4 minutes for a soft yolk (it depends on the size of the eggs – I wait until the whites are white).
  5. When they are ready, use a spatula to take them out and place them on a plate lined with a kitchen towel to dry.

To serve: place eggs over the green mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and voila!

Mushroom + thyme black rice risotto

Black rice risotto mushroomstory

In someone else’s tiny microcosm of a universe, they are experiencing something that will change their life forever, perhaps the birth of a first child, or the retirement from a lifelong career. On the other side of the world, a mother is having the birds and the bees talk to a very unimpressed tweenager who actually watches Game of Thrones every Monday night without her knowing. And then there is an old man who is seeing his great grandson for the first time.

With over 7 billion people on this planet, an overwhelming possibilty of experience is happening in parallel all the time. And yet we exist as single entities, pretending that we are mutually exclusive. Like bubbles, we slide past each other with only a hint of attraction, before floating away towards some other all consuming experience.

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I have always found it fascinating how on such a small spatial dimension there can be so many individual lives, each so separate from within. It is a scary thought. As the population increases (expected to be 9 billion in 2025), how are we going to live harmoniously on such a small space with such limited resources if we only think of ourselves and those closest to us? If we continue with our current habits of consuming supermarket produce and fast food meals, there is no doubt we will be pressing our own self destruct button.

That’s where the irony starts. To begin a global, necessary change, we must start with the individual. That one, tiny microcosm needs to shift. Then the next bubble, in its fleeting connection, might (hopefully) be shaped as well. And so the chain goes. We must begin with our own consumer habits if we are going to be able to give our (future, for me at least) children and grandchildren the beautiful planet we were born into. Conscious food choices = change the demand = global change from the ground up.

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So we are proposing to you to try something out… When you go and buy your groceries, spare a thought about where it came from. Try to choose options that make less of an environmental impact by buying from local markets or smaller vendors. Ask the stall/shop owner where the produce is from. If it has travelled in an aeroplane to get to you, why not use another vegetable or experiment with another product? To be honest, it may be more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be a lot more. We will do a blog post in the coming weeks that will give you tips on how to shop ethically, but cheaply. In the meantime, have a good think about what you are willing to spend money on and ask yourself if it is just as important. We need to make this change together!

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Of course, all this has little to do with black rice risotto. And even less to do with mushrooms. Nevertheless, mushrooms pack an almighty nutritious punch. They have been shown to enhance immune function, block inflammatory pathways and exhibit antioxidant properties. These three factors work together to reduce your risk of developing the chronic diseases that create the most disability in the developing world, conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia. Eat your mushies!

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Is your mouth watering yet?

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This recipe, created by Georgia, is a twist on the delicious mushroom risotto from Jamie Oliver. I hope it takes you to a happy place like it did me. We love to see your creations, so please share with us on our Facebook page or Instagram by tagging us!

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Mushroom and thyme black rice risotto

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

• small handful dried porcini mushrooms
• 2 tablespoons organic cultured butter
• ½ onion, finely diced
• 1 stick celery, finely diced
• ½ carrot, grated
• 200g black rice (1.5 cups)
• ½ cup white wine
• sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
• mixed mushrooms (three varieties – anything but button mushrooms), cleaned and sliced
• leaves from half a sprig of thyme
• 1 lemon, juiced
• vegan parmesan cheese
• parsley, for garnish

 

Method

  1. Bring stock to a low simmer.
  2. Put porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour stock in til they are covered
  3. Remove porcini mushrooms from the liquid after a few minutes, when they are soft. Chop up finely. Don’t discard the liquid.
  4. In a large pan on a low heat, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and add onion, celery and carrot. Fry until they are translucent, for around 7 minutes, then turn up the heat to medium and add the rice, stirring.
  5. Add the wine, continually stirring.
  6. Add the strained reserved mushroom liquid, the porcini mushrooms and salt and stir.
  7. Add all the stock, pop a lid on, lower the heat to low-medium and cook for 45 minutes, stirring regularly. You may need to add a little water if the rice doesn’t taste coked or it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on it.
  8. Place assorted mushrooms in a griddle plan and grill until soft. Do this in batches. In a separate bowl, toss the cooked mushrooms with the thyme and lemon juice and stir.
  9. Once the rice is done, place the mushrooms, another tablespoon of butter, and the vegan Parmesan into the rice and mix. Season to taste.

 

Vegan parmesan cheese

• ½ cup nutritional yeast
• 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
• 1 teaspoon sea salt

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blend with a stick blender until a smooth powder is formed.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge

 

Baked stuffed sweet potatoes: his + hers

Baked stuffed sweet potato story

I was talking to a friend a couple of nights ago, who was explaining to me how she is perceived to be the “healthy” one in her new workplace. She sounded very surprised because she never thought of herself as especially healthy and in her mind she wasn’t trying to be. She said she “just loves snacking on things like fruit and things, because I like good food, I grew up that way.” Now unfortunately for some of us, we can’t choose how we grow up and who our family is, and in no way should we be placing the blame on someone else for our unhealthy eating habits, but it does raise a very good point. My friend was explaining how she doesn’t have to think about it. She doesn’t even try. She just does it.

It made me think. If someone is healthy, most people will put it down to good self-control. But is it? Maybe it is in the beginning, but after a while a healthy lifestyle has nothing to do with control. It’s about habit. You just do it, there isn’t even a wasted thought about it. It is when you are at this space, that a healthy lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle. It isn’t a choice, or an effort.

 

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I am saying this, because I feel like the process of getting healthy is so effortFUL and tiresome, that must be part of the reason why people give up. They think, how can I keep this up forever? Well I’m here to say, you don’t have to. It’s called neural plasticity. The idea that the more you practice habits, the more that neural pathway is padded out, until that is the path of least resistance and it becomes the easier path. Pretend for a second you are driving to your old country holiday home. You have been going there for years, there is a big freeway almost to the door and you don’t really have to think about where to go. Then you sell that place and decide buy a new one in a completely different location. At first, it takes a lot of effort to navigate your way there. It’s a tiny dirt road which winds around and you get there feeling exhausted just from the journey. But after a while, the road becomes more familiar, people start paving it until it becomes another freeway and you find it easy. It’s like that. Initially, it is always going to be difficult, but it will get easier every time you practice it until it is like second nature.

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Our ingredient of the week is…drum roll please…sweet potato! We received some amazingly sweet sweet potatoes from our friends at the Vegie Trail and had a ball making these! We designed this recipe as a his and hers. You can use it how you like, but we liked the idea of one that is super healthy (the “her”) and one that is for the greedier pallet. For nutritional info about sweet potato, read this article where I have written about it previously.

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Scooping the flesh out is optional, but makes it easier to fit the mixture on top of the potatoes!

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The “her”- our favourite. I would actually have this for breakfast!

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The “him” – slightly more robust in flavour.

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Baked stuffed sweet potatoes

Serves 2 as a side or light meal

Ingredients:

-       1 teaspoon organic, cultured butter

-       1 red onion, chopped roughly

-       1 bulb garlic, chopped finely

-       Sea salt

-       2 sweet potatoes

-       4 olives, pitted and chopped

-       Small handful parsley, chopped

-       4 sundried tomatoes, chopped

-       Feta

-       1 strip organic bacon, chopped

-       1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you could also use sumac here or any other spice!)

-       Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Method:

  1. Prick sweet potatoes and bake in a 200 degree C oven for 1.5 hours or until soft. Take out and allow to cool slightly. Keep griller or oven on 150 degree C.
  2. While waiting for potatoes, in a pan melt butter and cook onion over moderate heat until soft.
  3. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.
  4. Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt into mixture.
  5. In a separate pan, cook bacon. Allow to cool on paper towels.
  6. When potatoes are cooled slightly, cut in half, scoop out a little lining of flesh (see pic).
  7. For “her” potato: mix half of garlic and onion mixture and half of scooped sweet potato flesh with olives, parsley and sundried tomatoes. Top two halves with mixture and crumble desired amount of feta on top. These are ready to serve.
  8. For “him” potato: mix the rest of the garlic and onion mixture and half of scooped sweet potato flesh with the bacon and cayenne pepper. Top two other halves with mixture and sprinkle desired amount of parmesan cheese on top and put under griller (or open oven) at 150 degree C until cheese has melted.
  9. Try not to fight over it.

For a vegetarian alternative: swap the bacon for chickpeas instead!

For a dairy-free alternative: omit the cheese and sprinkle with some nutritional yeast.

Marinated trout with kale, red rice + quinoa

trout kale quinoa red rice story

I did it, I crossed the dark side. I started watching Suits. Partly because Game of Thrones has finished and partly because every girl, boy and his dog (I know I can talk to dogs!) have told me to watch it. I’m addicted. It is to the law profession what Greys Anatomy is to the medical world, completely glamorised and unrealistic, but completely fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I love Game of Thrones, but if I have to see another war, I think I’m out. My cortisol levels watching the last few episodes of that show spiked so much I end up wired for hours afterwards. For me, television gives me an excuse to switch off from stress in my life and relax. So when it starts to do the opposite, I question it. Plus, the dudes are hotter.

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On a slightly different tac, this dish was inspired by my favourite menu item at Miss Chu. If you haven’t already been to one I recommend, they are a quick, relatively cheap and healthy Vietnamese take-out or casual dine in option in Sydney. In fact, I liked this dish so much, I went on a mission to try and replicate it. Lo and behold, my first try was a success! Not to brag or anything, but Dan, my boyfriend, claims it is even better than the original (sorry Miss Chu). I was and still am astonished at how easy and simple this is to make.

Miss Chu does this dish with salmon, but I have substituted in trout for taste. I looked it up and there are some kinds of salmon in Australia you can buy that are sustainable. If you are buying trout, buy wild caught coral trout (in Australia) or ask about the practices of the farm that you buy from (here is a great link to see if the seafood you are buying is sustainable).

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One serving of trout exceeds your daily recommended requirements for omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and certain types of cancer. Omega-3 fatty acid consumption may also help prevent neurological disorders like dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also a great source of protein, which is important in satiation, meaning if you eat the correct amount you won’t overeat. It also contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals, If it is wild-caught, try to limit your consumption to a maximum of twice a week due to mercury content. Farmed fish doesn’t seem to contain as much.

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Marinated trout with kale, red rice + quinoa

Serves four

Ingredients for marinade:

-       4 fillets trout (you could use any fish, I used snapper and loved it!)

-       2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped

-       3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-       2 lemons, juiced (150ml)

-       30ml tamari (or soy sauce)

-       1 Thai chilli, chopped (optional)

-       2 Tablespoon honey (optional)

Ingredients for dish:

-       1 cup quinoa

-       1 cup red rice

-       2.5 cups chicken stock (optional, can use water instead)

-       1 bunch kale (or 2 bunches spinach)

-       Handful fresh coriander, chopped

-       1 lime, quartered

-       Fried onions*

 

Method:

  1. As early as possible in your day, purchase the fish, cut into 10cm cubes and pour over marinade. Cover dish and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Half an hour before wanting to serve, take fish out of refrigerator to warm to room temperature.
  3. In two separate saucepans, bring 2 cups and 1.5 cups of chicken stock to a light boil. Pour quinoa into first and red rice into second saucepan, turn heat down to a low simmer and cover.
  4. Leave quinoa simmering for 10-15 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed, stir, then turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes with lid on.
  5. Leave red rice simmering for approximately 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed, stir, then turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes with lid on.
  6. While rice is cooking, pour all of the fish with the marinade into a saucepan on medium heat. You don’t want to overcook the fish, so as soon as it comes to a simmer, add the kale and cover for approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Check that the fish is JUST cooked through (if it is fresh, it doesn’t have to be!), turn heat off.
  8. Mix quinoa and red rice together.
  9. Spoon quinoa and red rice mixture on the bottom of the bowl, then kale and fish on top. Pour a generous amount of marinade over.
  10. To serve, top with chopped coriander, extra chilli if desired, a lime wedge and fried onions.

*I use the fried onions you get in a jar from most Asian supermarkets – not the best for you, but I only sprinkle a little on top for texture. If you would rather not use these – add some toasted sesame and sunflower seeds instead!

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Grain-free chocolate + beetroot cake

paleo chocolate beetroot cake

I know what you’re thinking. Beetroot. Chocolate. Beetroot and chocolate. Chocolate with beetroot…really?

Like the combination of Birkenstock sandals with socks, you are skeptical and I don’t blame you. They are an unlikely pair. To steal the words from some wise, anonymous person an indeterminate number of years ago, “Don’t knock it ’till you try it.”

I remember the first taste of this cake like it was yesterday. I was in our kitchen in Manly, sitting on the cold stone step leading on to the remarkably small balcony out the back, with sharp shavings of afternoon sunlight hitting me between generous leaves. It was summery and I was considering whether I had overdressed for the occasion. I was feeling skeptical and also like I needed to clean the balcony of debris within the next few days. It was a good moment. Forever on from there, beetroot and chocolate would no longer exist in my mind as lonely individuals. They could be together.

the life holistic chocolate beetroot

Beetroots are perhaps most well known for their detoxification benefits. The betalain content has been shown to stimulate an enzyme that aids in the elimination of toxins in the liver. The same phytonutrient has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and is what gives beetroots their amazing colour. They are high in collagen-boosting vitamin C, fibre, and essential minerals like potassium (supports nerve and muscle function) and manganese. Lastly, they also contain folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

Sustainability tip: Did you know you can use the greens attached to beetroots too?! Minimise food waste and use beetroot greens in place of spinach or kale in your recipes!

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Chocolate + beetroot cake

Ingredients:

-       4 medium sized beetroots

-       100g shredded coconut (look for no additives)

-       65g cacao powder

-       90g coconut sugar

-       60g coconut oil

-       4 eggs

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Wash beetroots and wrap whole in foil. Place in oven for approximately 1 hour or until soft to touch.
  3. Allow beetroot to cool before peeling and chopping roughly.
  4. Put roast beetroot and all other ingredients into a food processor or kitchen aid and mix well.
  5. Line a springform baking tray with baking paper and melted butter.
  6. Pour cake batter in.
  7. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until skewer comes out clean.
  8. Serve with yoghurt and toasted coconut flakes if desired.

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Preserved lemons

 

preserved lemon

Germs. Even the word instills panic in some. Picture that Simpon’s episode when Mr Burns gets so germaphobic he holes himself and Smithers up, protected against any contact with the outside world, “There’ll all covered with filthy germs, aren’t they Smithers?” Pan to the micro organisms, “Freemasons run the country!”

While the germ theory enlightened us to the fact that micro-organisms cause disease, making it one of the great achievements of modern humanity, it also stems a misconception amongst some that all micro organisms must therefore cause disease.

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, humans live in symbiosis with trillions of tiny bacteria inside and outside of our bodies. Without them, put simply we would die. These “good” bacteria actually protect us from infection and they help us to digest our food. The research is only just coming out as to how important they are. If you want a reference list to investigate this further, click here.

The fermentation used to make preserved lemons renders them an excellent source of probiotics, a source of these “good” bacteria. Prior to the invention of refrigerators, people used pickling or fermenting techniques to preserve foods, preventing spoilage by the lactic acid producing bacteria. The invention of pasteurisation was intended to stop people becoming infected with micro organisms that spoiled the food or drink. Unfortunately, the process of heating also destroys most of the enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

Moral of the story: eat fresh, good quality food and drink and you won’t need to heat it to oblivion.

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Sustainability tip

 

Growing food at home is a great way to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the transport of fruit and vegetable, and helps to counter the number of imported products sold in our supermarkets. Lemons are a winter fruit, however Australian lemons tend to be available for most of the year except for the summer months (November – January). During the summer period, many supermarkets stock lemons imported from the USA.

Growing your own lemon tree is easy and you don’t need a big backyard to do it. Lemon trees grow well in pots if given regular care, attention and (most importantly) sunlight.

When you find you have an over-abundance of lemons during winter, juice the lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays to save for the summer months. Don’t discard the peel either, this too, can be frozen and the rind used later.

 

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preserved lemons

Makes 7 medium sized jars.

These lemons are excellent in our previous roast eggplant recipe.

Ingredients

- 20 lemons, juiced and cut into quarters
– 2 cups sea salt

Method

  1. Sterilise roughly 7 medium sized jars (you may need more or less jars, depending on the size of your lemons).
  2. Wash, scrub and dry the lemons to remove any dirt (avoid using supermarket lemons which are waxed).
  3. Juice the lemons.
  4. Quarter the lemons.
  5. Rub as much salt as possible into the flesh of the lemons and push the lemons into the jars, sprinkling over the remaining salt as you go. Squeeze as many lemons as possible into each jar.
  6. Pour the lemon juice over the lemons until completely covered.
  7. Seal, label and date each jar.
  8. Place in a cool, dark place for about 2 months. You will need to top the juice up to keep the lemons covered during this time.
  9. When the lemons are ready to use, remove them from the brine and use a knife to scrape the flesh and pith (the things that look like white veins) from the rind. Discard the flesh and pith.

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Paleo apple +pear crumble

apple crumble story

Apple crumble makes me think of long, woolly sleeves with thumbholes, thick socks worn inside and afternoons spent under a doona watching movies. The ultimate comfort food for colder months. Unfortunately, apple crumble is full of refined sugar and highly processed flour, ingredients that can cause havoc internally rather than nourishing our body. Georgia has worked her magic again and created a version that is refined sugar and flour free. Georgia’s law degree and placement means she spends a lot of her time studying, an easy excuse to snack on processed sugar. Her secret is she makes sure there are healthy alternatives on hand so she doesn’t need to reach for the chocolate bar. This version could be eaten as breakfast, a snack or dessert!

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Remember when your mum used to say an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Research has shown that phytonutrients in apples can help to regulate your blood sugar by inhibiting enzymes involved in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates to sugar in your blood. This means there are fewer simple sugars in your blood, meaning less stress on your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% of diabetes cases. It is estimated that 6% of the worlds total population is affected and it is largely due to our over-consumption of refined sugars. Regulating your blood sugar is one of the most important methods in preventing diabetes, therefore apples are a beneficial addition to anyone’s diet. They also have a very high antioxidant content, which has been linked to an ability to decrease the oxidation of cell membrane fats. Put simply, this can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing your arteries from clogging. Interestingly and for reasons unknown, the consumption of apples has also been linked to a decrease risk of lung cancer and asthma!

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Ingredients

Topping:
–  1 cup walnuts
-  1 cup almonds, macadamias or cashew nuts
-  10 pitted Medjool dates
-  ¾ cup coconut flakes
-  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-  1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

Pear + Apple filling;
-  2 pears
-  2 apples
-  10 medjool dates, soaked for half an hour
-  2 tablespoons lemon juice
-  1-2 teaspoon cinnamon
-  pinch of nutmeg

 

Method

Topping:

  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor to form a crumble. The crumble should be slightly moist.

Pear + Apple filling:

  1. Peel, core and quarter the fruit.
  2. Process 1 apple and 1 pear with the lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and dates until a thick mush forms. Add the remaining apple and pear and pulse briefly, so they some larger fruit chunks remain.

To assemble cover the filling with desired amount of topping. If you prefer it hot, warm in a moderate (180 degree C) oven until just browning on top.

Enjoy! Xx

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Healthy raw chocolate “bark” (refined sugar free!)

Raw chocolate bark story1Chocolate. Even the word stimulates your salivary glands. What is it about chocolate that makes it so damn GOOD?! It’s so good in fact I couldn’t put it in words. Naturally, I googled “what does chocolate taste like”. Naturally, countless people before me have wondered this exact same thing. Words like buttery, smooth, creamy, rich and sweet flew off my screen. I particularly liked the description, “tastes like the colour red”. People have come up with the most weird and wonderful depictions, but the underlying commonality is that chocolate makes people feel good. Not in a “hey is pumpkin is tasty” kind of way (and I love pumpkin, don’t get me wrong), but in more like a “hey, I could do inappropriate things with this food group” kind of way.

To answer my own question, the reason chocolate makes us FEEL good, is because eating it releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us happier. So there’s your proof: chocolate = happy. For this reason, chocolate also gets abused more often than not. We look to it in times of stress, sadness or when emotions are heightened generally. We overeat. It doesn’t make us feel good. Like anything, there is a balance. And thankfully, this recipe just tipped the scales in your favour. It is refined sugar free and doesn’t have any of those nasty chemicals they put in commercial chocolates. So you can eat it and not feel guilty. Chocolate bark = lots of happy.

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Sustainability Tip

When you next go to unwrap a chocolate bar, remember, a year from now, you, and everyone you know, will have thrown out around 200 kilos of packaging waste. Per year, that’s a staggering 1.9 million tonnes of packaging wasted, a huge quantity of valuable resources. While packaging is a necessary part of modern life, in that it protects food between processing and usage, thereby reducing organic waste, modern society uses natural resources at an unsustainable rate. The amount of packaging we use cannot be disposed of without causing environmental damage.

The effect of packaging on the environment and the preservation of natural resources cannot be considered in isolation. It must be balanced against other issues including society’s increased environmental awareness, material and energy costs and economic and labour considerations. However, as individuals, we can make small changes in our daily lives to reduce our individual consumption (check out Care2’s website for 15 ways to reduce food packaging). That’s why this recipe is great, it uses ingredients that serve more than one purpose and can be used in a variety of recipes.

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INGREDIENTS:

-       140g cacao butter (this can be purchased in health food stores)

-       70g cacao powder

-       6 Tblsp. coconut sugar (alternatives: Rapidura sugar, honey, maple syrup)

-       Pinch of salt

-       Your choice of topping: I used a handful of hazelnuts, coconut flakes and dried incaberries

 

EQUIPMENT:

-       1 pot and a metal or pyrex mixing bowl that is slightly larger than the pot (you are going to use the pot as a double boiler)

-       Baking tray + baking paper

 

METHOD:

  1. First prepare your toppings. If using hazelnuts and coconut flakes, place them on a baking tray and place in 180 degree C oven until golden (coconut will take less than 5 minutes keep an eye on it!)
  2. When cool, crush hazelnuts using the handle of a heavy knife.
  3. Once you have finished preparing your toppings, start on the chocolate: Bring half a pot of water to the boil, reduce to a simmer.
  4. Put the cacao butter in the metal or pyrex bowl and place the bowl over the pot, making sure the bowl is not touching the water.
  5. Melt cacao butter slowly over the double boiler system. To ensure the butter doesn’t burn, watch the butter carefully and remove from the heat when it’s about 3/4 melted, then stir until it’s completely melted.
  6. Off the heat, mix in the cacao powder, coconut oil, sweetener and salt with a fork.
  7. At this point, taste the mixture. If it is not sweet enough for you, add more sweetener.
  8. Prepare a baking tray by covering it with baking paper.
  9. Pour chocolate mixture over the baking paper so it makes a thin film (approximately half a centimeter thick).
  10. Sprinkle over your desired topping (s) while the chocolate is still melted (I separated them so at the end I had pieces with different types of topping, but you could mix them).
  11. Place the tray into the fridge or freezer for approximately half an hour, or until the chocolates have hardened.
  12. Once the chocolate has hardened, take out and break into pieces. In warmer weather (above approximately 25 degrees C), store this chocolate in the fridge.

 

Other ideas for toppings:

-     Roasted almonds with cinnamon

-     Sea salt and ginger pieces

-     Dried fig and walnut

We would love to hear what crazy combinations you guys come up with! Enjoy :)

 

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pot chicken with pesto

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Sweet potato are kind of like the push up bra of the food world, they have the ability to make an otherwise fairly average set delicious. Something about their delicate sweetness and indulgent soft, doughy texture make it the ultimate comfort food. We also love them at The Life Holistic because of their nutritional profile. Orange-flesh sweet potatoes are particularly high in beta-carotene, the body’s precursor to vitamin A. In fact, the vitamin A content in sweet potatoes is more than 1,500 X that of normal potatoes! They are also a rich source of vitamin C, B6, potassium, manganese, calcium and magnesium. Together these nutrients contribute to our overall eye health, immune system, digestive system, circulatory system, nervous system and bone structure (amongst other things). Wowee! There are also purple flesh varieties that offer a different spectrum of antioxidants, so try mixing it up.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

-       ½ Tbsp. organic cultured butter

-       ½ white onion, sliced

-       250g skinless chicken thighs, seasoned with sea salt and pepper

-       500ml chicken stock

-       2 sprigs thyme

-       1 celery stalk, chopped

-       1 carrot, chopped

-       ½ sweet potato, sliced into ½ centimetre rounds

-       175g kale, shredded

-       140g peas

-       ½ bunch spring onion, sliced

-       2 Tbsp. green pesto (see recipe below)

-       Optional: fresh chilli, chopped

 

Method:

  1. Heat the butter in a large, heavy pan. On a low-medium heat, fry the onions until soft.
  2. Add the chicken and fry until the chicken is lightly browned.
  3. Add the stock, thyme, celery, carrot and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Bring it to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sweet potato and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the sweet potato is soft.
  5. Stir through the broccoli, kale, peas and spring onions. Bring the pot back up to the boil, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the pesto.
  7. Serve chicken with the soup.

 

Pesto

Pesto can be made in a variety of ways and is a great way to liven up many dishes. This is the combination we’ve gone with, but feel free to use any greens and herbs you like depending on the season (although basil is pretty much always a staple).

pesto

Ingredients:

-       1 bunch basil

-       1 bunch parsley

-       1 large handful of kale or spinach, blanched and then plunged into cold water to stop the cooking process

-       ½ cup macadamias

-       1 – 2 tablespoons lemon juice, depending on how tangy you want it

-       4 cloves of garlic, crushed

-       ½ teaspoon pepper

-       4 Tbsp. macadamia oil (you can also use EVOO)

-       Sea salt, to taste

 

Method:

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until it forms a thick paste. If you prefer a runnier pesto, add more oil.
  2. Store in a sterilised glass jar for around one week.

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Fish sliders with a spicy lime + coriander mayonnaise (gluten free)

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In my googling escapade to try and figure out why miniature hamburgers are called “sliders”, I came across a few theories. It sits somewhere between the United States Navy in the 1940s and an American hamburger chain more recently, but from what I gathered it was coined to reflect their ability to “slide” through your digestive system. Ironic, I thought, because gluten (which is quite concentrated in most hamburger buns) does exactly the opposite. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and wheat related grains, and is exploited in cooking for its ability to improve a dough’s ability to rise and bind ingredients together. The word gluten comes from the word “glue” in Latin, which suits perfectly because that’s exactly what it does inside your digestion. That isn’t to say that gluten is bad for everyone, but for those people with celiac disease (an auto-immune disease which attacks the gut lining) or those with other digestive issues, gluten can cause inflammation of the gut lining, leading to a whole plethora of problems. Interestingly, these problems can be so seemingly unrelated to the digestive system, it can take a while to diagnose. Symptoms can range from the obvious (abdominal bloating and pain) to things like joint pain and psychological disturbances. It is estimated that anywhere from 80-95% of the serotonin in your body is manufactured in your gut! Since serotonin in the brain plays a major role in happiness and mood, this explains why gluten intolerance can present as psychological disturbances.

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For this recipe, we have included our favourite gluten free recipe from Green Kitchen Stories. Baking gluten free can be quite difficult, let us know if you have any tried and tested recipes, and we will add them to the list!

Ingredients

Serves 4

-       500g fresh Australian white fish (we used barramundi)

-       4 spring onions, finely sliced

-       ½ red onion, finely chopped

-       1 red chilli, finely sliced with half seeds removed

-       Juice and zest of 1 lime

-       1 Tblsp. tamari or soy sauce

-       2 carrots, grated

-       2 cloves garlic, crushed

-       2 heaped tsp. fresh ginger, minced

-       1 generous cup of coriander, finely chopped

-       A small handful of mint, finely torn

-       1 free-range egg

-       Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

-       1 ½ cups amaranth puffs

-       Shredded coconut, to coat

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 (fan forced).
  2. Place all ingredients excluding the salt and pepper, amaranth puffs and shredded coconut, in a food processer and process (If you do not own a food processor, mince all ingredients very finely).
  3. Season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
  4. Throw the amaranth puffs in and mix.
  5. With your hands, roll the mixture into 4cm diameter balls.
  6. Coat in shredded coconut.
  7. Place on baking tray lined with baking paper.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, turning at half time, or until cooked through.

 

Lime and coriander mayonnaise

-       3 heaped Tbsp. of whole egg mayonnaise (make sure they use olive oil only)

-       Juice and rind of half a lime

-       6 drops of Tabasco hot sauce (or to taste)

-       A good pinch of fresh cracked black pepper

-       ¼ cup coriander, finely chopped

-       1 small clove of garlic, crushed

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a fork.

Enjoy! Xx

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