Monday, 31 March 2014

Banana Choc Chunk Muffins

The age old problem, especially in summer…what to do with all those old bananas?! Go back to basics and whip up a batch of these banana chocolate chip muffins of course! Moist, sweet, and chocolatey, these make a great afternoon tea snack and are very easy to put together. Free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, and easy to modify to make nut free as well. There is no refined sugar added, other than whatever is in the chocolate you choose to use (which can of course be eliminated altogether if you prefer not to use it).

Banana Choc Chunk Muffins

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free (option to make them nut-free and refined sugar-free)

3 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup coconut culinary flour (or 1/2 cup regular coconut flour)
1/2 cup almond flour (or sunflower flour or an extra 1/4 cup coconut flour for a nut free option)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 medium bananas, mashed
50g 85% chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and/or line a 12 hole muffin tin
2. Combine eggs, oil, vanilla, honey, and apple cider vinegar in a cake mixer (or use a hand-held blender). Blend until well combined
3. Combine coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda, baking powder in a bowl. Add to bowl with wet ingredients and blend for a minute or two to combine.
4. Combine bananas and coconut milk. Add to cake mix, and blend for 30 seconds to combine.
5. Add chocolate and mix in with a spoon. Ensure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
6. Evenly fill holes of muffin tin, and bake for 25 minutes until golden on top and just firm to touch



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Herb and Seed Crusted Salmon with Broccoli Mash

Mmmmm salmon! Pretty much my favorite protein of all time - and there are so many delicious ways to cook it! Hubby is not a fan at all, so it's not something we have for dinner very often. I was totally in the mood the other day though, and had some leftover steak in the fridge to keep hubby happy so I was free to indulge in a salmony dinner.

This one I decided to crust with a yummy combination of herbs and seeds and then oven baked it and served it on broccoli mash and topped with steamed carrots.

Herb and Seed Crusted Salmon with Broccoli Mash

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

1 fistful fresh chives 
1 fistful fresh coriander
1 fistful fresh parsley (the exact quantities of the 3 herbs are not overly important - just use as much or as little as you like of each flavor)
1 clove garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
salt and pepper to taste

1 medium sized salmon fillet, bones removed

1/4 head broccoli (about 1 cup, cut into small florets)
1/4 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 210C.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the chives, coriander, parsley, garlic, lemon, tahini, sesame seeds, chia seeds, salt, and pepper. Blend until a pesto-like consistency is formed. 
3. Place the salmon on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Press the herb mix on top of the salmon.
4. Bake for about 15 minutes until salmon is just cooked through. 
5. While the salmon is cooking, lightly steam or blanch the broccoli. When cooked to the point of being easily about to poke a fork or knife into it, remove from heat and drain water of necessary. Add the coconut milk and seasoning, then blend with a stick blender until a mash forms but not until pasty (or in a blender if you don't have a stick blender). Adjust coconut milk and seasoning to taste. 
6. Serve salmon on top of broccoli and top with steamed carrots or serve with any other vegetables that take your fancy.



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

'Popping Candy' Raw Chia Chocolate Bites

Oooh this one's a goodie! I was reading through the latest Nourish magazine yesterday (my new favorite mag!) and came across a recipe for Chia Seed Bites. They looked delicious, easy to make, and best of all I had everything I needed in the pantry.

In the words of Simon Gault, I decided to add that little "10% magic" and added some freeze dried raspberry powder to the recipe which really changed it from tasty to 'lick the bowl until you don't need to wash it' tasty!

I used sesame seeds and sunflower seeds as well as Chia seeds, and these 3 seeds combine to give a lovely crunch and the 2 small seeds pop in your mouth when you take a bite, hence why I call it popping candy, as the sensation is similar to the kind we all had as kids!

You can omit the raspberry if you are not a fan of the flavor, or don't have it in the kitchen. You could also use frozen raspberries instead if they are on hand.

'Popping Candy' Raw Chia Chocolate Bites (based on recipe in Nourish Magazine from 'Cooking With Chia" by Nicky Arthur)

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp raw cacao powder (you can use cocoa powder if that's what you have)
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
pinch of salt
1 tsp freeze dried raspberry powder (optional)

1. In a small bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well to distribute evenly.
2. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into moulds or small muffin cases. 
3. Freeze or refrigerate until firm. 
4. Store in the fridge or freezer

Option: If you don't have raspberry powder, but still want that yummy raspberry flavor, pop a whole frozen raspberry into the middle of each bite before they set. That way you will get a tasty little raspberry surprise in the middle when you bite into it!



Sunday, 23 March 2014

Thai Garlic Chicken

Many moons ago I worked for a group of Thai restaurants in the Nelson area and just recently I have been craving the garlic chicken that I used to love! It was a hard life… get to work, have all my meals cooked for me by chefs - you're all feeling sorry for me right?!

The garlic chicken is basically just meat and garlic stir-fried and served on top of steamed rice (or you can substitute cauliflower rice if you prefer, or even serve in lettuce cups).

This is the perfect super simple weeknight meal as it takes only minutes to make and is delicious served with a side of steamed broccoli or wilted asian vegetables (such as bok choy flash fried in a dash of oyster sauce).

Thai Garlic Chicken

Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

500g chicken tenderloin or breast (or thigh, or any meat of your choice!), thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1 spring onion, sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp white pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
fresh coriander to garnish (optional)
1 tbsp coconut oil

1. Heat oil in a frying pan or wok over a high heat
2. Add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds until starting to just turn brown.
3. Add the chicken and fry until cooked through, stirring frequently.
4. Add the stock or water, fish sauce, pepper, and spring onions. Cook for about 1 minute until onions are just softened.
5. Serve on top of steamed rice, cauliflower rice, lettuce cups, or accompaniment of your choice, with a side of steamed green vegetables. Top with fresh coriander to garnish



Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Creamy Mushroom Soup

You know those days when you just feel like a light dinner but really feel like you've done salad to death? I was having one of those yesterday! I had bought a whole bunch of mushrooms with the last lot of groceries - kind of having mushroom cravings at the moment…maybe my body is needing some Vitamin B or D? Anyway, I decided to make a mushroom soup - and it was really good! I've never made mushroom soup before (to be honest I haven't made many soups at all) so I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but one of my favorite flavor combinations is mushrooms with thyme (or rosemary) so I figured that by basing the soup around that combo there was little chance of it going wrong.

I topped the soup with steamed broccoli 'croutons' just as a way of sneaking in a few greens. The creaminess comes from the addition of a little coconut milk and a handful of fresh thyme really gave a yummy herbiness to the end product. 

Mushroom soup is not beautiful - it's very hard to make a bowl of brown runny liquid look appealing!!! I

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

250g mushrooms of your choice (I used swiss browns, but have a play around - there are loads of different delicious varieties out there!)
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme, stalks removed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut cream (or 1/2 cup coconut milk)
2 tbsp tapioca starch (optional, just add it if you prefer a thicker soup)
salt and peper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and sauté until softened (you may like to add a little of the stock at this stage if the veges stick the bottom of the pan
2. Add the rest of the stock and the thyme. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms and onions are tender and there is a delicious aroma coming from the pan. 
3. Remove from heat, and add the coconut cream (or milk) and the tapioca (if you are using). Mix well to combine all ingredients. Try not to add the coconut cream until the end as although the flavor will still be fine, it can split if it cooks too long. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Using either a stick blender or standard blender, blend the soup until it reaches the consistency you prefer (some may like it really smooth and creamy, where others may prefer a more chunky texture). 
5. Top with small broccoli pieces (or maybe some wilted spinach or crispy kale chips), a crack of black pepper, and an extra swirl of coconut milk.



Monday, 17 March 2014

Green Indian Chicken Curry

Last night we had a clash of the cultures - It was St Patricks Day, so we celebrated with a green dinner…the clash being that it was an Indian Curry!

I got the idea for this recipe from Healthy Eating Planner - their recipe was for Green Tandoori Chicken on skewers. I had chicken thighs in the freezer, and wanted to make something more along the lines of a curry with a nice sauce - hubby loves a saucy dinner!!

I served the curry with 2 little side salads - one, a cucumber Kachumba which is essentially an indian version of a mexican salsa; the other a simple carrot and coriander salad. Hubby had his on a bed of steamed Basmati rice, and the kids had cucumber and carrot sticks instead of the side salads as the flavors of the salads were a little strong for them.

The recipe is free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, and sugar. The only thing I would add would be to put another couple of chillies in the curry sauce, but I kept it super mild so that the kids would enjoy it. If you like a bit of heat, add as much as you need to suit your palate.

St Patricks Day Green Indian Chicken Curry

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free

1/4 cup ground cashews (whizz whole cashews in a food processor or blender to create a flour-like consistency)
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 green chilli (adjust according to personal preference)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, grated
2cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cups baby spinach + another 2 cups for the sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 kg chicken thighs (bone in, or boneless for a faster cooking time)
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 eggplant, diced
1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
Extra fresh coriander to serve

1. In a frying pan, heat about 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium heat and fry onions gently. Add garlic, ginger, chilli, garam masala and turmeric. Fry gently for a couple of minutes. Add 2 cups of spinach and cook until just wilted. In a blender or food processor, place the spinach and onion mixture and add the cashew nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. In a large bowl, place the chicken thighs and half of the sauce mixture. Set aside the other half of the sauce mixture in the fridge for later. Marinate the chicken thighs in the fridge for as long as you can - ideally a few hours, but you can make it all straight away if you don't have time to marinade.
3. In a large frying pan or pot, heat a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil over a medium-high heat. Add the marinated chicken breasts and fry each side until gently browned. Add the chicken stock, the remainder of the sauce that you reserved and the eggplant. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and eggplant is soft. If the sauce reduces too much, add a little more water or stock.
4. Once chicken is cooked through, add the broccoli and cook for another 10 minutes, then add the other 2 cups of spinach and stir through until just wilted.
5. Remove from heat and serve over steamed rice, cauliflower rice, or in a large bowl on it's own with the side salads. Top with extra coriander to garnish

Kachumba (cucumber salad)

1/2 telegraph cucumber, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 red chilli, finely diced (adjust quantity to taste)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well.

Carrot and Coriander Salad

2 carrots, shredded or grated
large handful of fresh coriander, roughly torn
One green stem of spring onion, finely chopped
small knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/2 tsp garam masala
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp melted coconut oil or ghee

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well



Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Choc-Mint Slice

My gorgeous Facebook followers sure do like a wee sweat treat! I guess it's that feeling of seeing a recipe that you thought was 'off limits' for whatever reason (by choice or due to allergies/intolerances) and seeing that all may not be lost... You can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak!

Last night I whipped up a batch of Chocolate Mint Slice. If ginger crunch is my all-time favourite baked treat, I would say that choc-mint slice runs a very close second. I'm sure this is one recipe that I will be adjusting over time, but for now I was pretty happy with the first attempt. 

The recipe is gluten, grain, nut, and soy free, and can be easily made dairy free by substituting the butter for coconut oil or even apple purée if you would prefer a lower fat option (depending on your lifestyle choices). The slice and filling are free of refined sugar and sweetened with only a very small amount of honey (base) and dates (filling). The topping I have uses melted dark chocolate as I wanted something a little decadent, but you could use a refined sugar-free option if you are following a low sugar lifestyle. I will post a couple of options after the recipe. 

Choc-mint slice

Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, option of dairy free, and option of refined sugar free


1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/8 cup honey (1/4 cup if you have a sweet tooth)
1/8 cup butter, softened or melted (or melted coconut oil, or apple purée)
1tsp vanilla essence

1 cup coconut butter
2 medjool dates (you can use 4 if you prefer it sweeter, or substitute for 1/8 -1/4 cup honey if you would like the filling to more of a pure white colour)
1/2 tsp peppermint oil (or peppermint essence if it's all you have in the cupboard!)

1 cup dark chocolate
1/8 cup coconut milk

1. Preheat your oven to 180c and line a small baking tin (such as a loaf tin) with baking paper (don't just grease it as the baking paper makes it possible to make the whole slice in the same tin then remove it easily)
2. In a bowl, combine the coconut flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. 
3. In another bowl, combine the eggs, butter or oil, honey, and vanilla essence. 
4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well to combine. The mixture will be very stiff, like a biscuit mixture. This is what you want!
5. Press the batter into the baking tin and spread around until an even layer is formed (I found that fingers worked best here - the best kitchen tools!). 
6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until firm to touch. 
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Once cool enough, place in the fridge or freezer to chill.
8. While the base is cooling, prepare your filling. If you are using homemade coconut butter and haven't already made it, do so now. If you are using store bought, now is the time to turn it into its liquid form if it's gone hard. To liquefy the coconut butter simply stand the jar in a bowl of hot water, or heat the desired amount in a bowl over a simmering pot of water on the stove. 
9. Once you have your liquid coconut butter, place the coconut butter, the dates or honey, and the peppermint oil in a small blender or food processor and blend until well combined and smooth. 
10. Once again the mixture will most likely be quite firm, which is fine. If it's really firm to the point of being crumbly, add about 1 tbsp coconut oil just soften it a wee bit.
11. Remove your base from the fridge and pour or press the filling mixture over the top, again ensuring a nice even layer. Place it back in the fridge while you prepare the topping.
12. Half fill a small pot with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Place the chocolate chips and coconut milk in a glass bowl that's slightly larger than the pot. Place the bowl on top of the pot and heat until chocolate chips are just starting to melt. Remove from heat and stir the chocolate mixture well until all of the chips are melted and a smooth sauce is formed. By removing the chips when they're just starting to melt, you use the much more gentle residual heat to melt the chocolate rather than risking having the chocolate overlook and go lumpy if you leave it on the heat. 
13. Remove the baking tin from the fridge and pour the melted chocolate over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon to form an even layer. Place back into the fridge or freezer one last time just to set the chocolate.
14. Remove from the fridge when chilled and cut into slices or squares. Yum!


- you can adjust the quantity of peppermint depending on your preferences or the preferences of those you are serving. I have made the peppermint flavour fairly subtle in this recipe as I will be serving it to children, but I personally would increase the amount by about 1/4 tsp. the best way to decide is to add the oil in small drops, a couple at a time and keep tasting to check where it's at. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it! 
- to create an option that is free of refined sugar, you can use 100% unsweetened chocolate or pure cacao butter to make the topping. Keep the coconut milk, and add a little honey if you want a slight sweetness. If you're using pure cacao butter, you will need to add a little cacao powder to get that chocolates taste. I'm not sure of the exact proportions but have a play around with adding the cacao powder to get the level of 'chocolatiness' to your liking (start small and add small amounts at a time). With this method you may also need to add a little coconut oil to stop the mixture from drying out. Likewise with the honey (if you're adding it to your topping) add a small amount and keep adding until you reach your desired level of sweetness. 



Saturday, 8 March 2014

Kaylah's Chocolate, Kumara, Cashew Cupcakes

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - my daughter has the cooking bug! She has a real talent for flavours, and absolutely loves creating recipes and of course cooking them (and her favorite part is of course licking the spoon - like mother like daughter!!)

She and I came up with this recipe yesterday for some delicious kumara cupcakes that are gluten, grain,  soy and refined sugar free. We used a little butter in the recipe, but you could easily sub it for a dairy free alternative, or oil. With only 4 tbsp of maple syrup in the recipe, they are very low in sugar, and with the addition of kumara and cashew nuts they have a great combination of carbohydrates and proteins which make them a fantastic snack and even one of those 'sweet treats' that is healthy and nutritious enough for a breakfast on the run.

A couple of options when you make them…

  • remove the maple syrup to make a sugar free version if you are trying to eliminate sweeteners
  • substitute the maple syrup for honey or coconut sugar if you don't have maple syrup in the cupboard
  • add 1/2-1 cup of chocolate chips to the batter before cooking to make them a little more decadent
  • top with a slick of your favorite icing for another decadent option
  • try pumpkin puree instead of kumara puree as an alternative

Kaylah's Chocolate, Kumara, Cashew Cupcakes

Gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar, option to make them dairy free

1/3 cup cocoa or cacao powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 cup cashew flour (1 cup cashew nuts, blended into a flour consistency)
2 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp maple syrup
3 eggs
1 cup kumara puree (1 large kumara, cooked and mashed)
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil (or oil/butter alternative of your choice)

1. Preheat oven to 170C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases, or grease with butter or coconut oil
2. Prepare your mashed kumara and cashew flour if you don't already have them ready. To make the kumara, peel a large kumara and either steam, or boil until soft. Either mash or blend with a stick blender until smooth. Set aside. To make the cashew flour, place 1 cup raw cashew nuts in a small food processor or blender and pulse until a 'flour' texture is achieved. The flour will be quite course, and be careful not to over blend to ensure you don't end up with butter!
3.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, coconut flour, and cashew flour).
4. In another bowl, beat together the butter or oil, vanilla essence and maple syrup. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. When all the eggs are added, add the kumara and beat well until thick and smooth.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well to combine
6. Spoon about 2 heaped tablespoons of mixture into each hole of the muffin tin.
7. Bake for about 15-18 minutes until no longer soft in the middle (they should be firmish to touch but not longer squishy)
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin



Monday, 3 March 2014

Cauliflower and Spinach Soup with Chicken Croutons

I have just done something really really stupid! Did I mention that I got a new toy last week??

OMG best appliance I have ever had! And first oven I have ever bought! It's second hand, but as far as I'm concerned, it's the best oven ever and I am even more addicted to cooking now. Considering the old one was basically a museum piece (it still had the exposed coil elements - who has those?!!) it seems so modern and HUGE! 

The stupid thing I did though was not taking my own advice…typical! That gorgeous flat ceramic top on it was one of my concerns, especially with the kids, as it is so easy to not realize that the stove top is still hot, so I have been busy drilling it into them that it is not safe. Now, I am rocking a massive bandage on my hand thanks to having memory like a goldfish and taking too much pride in the new toy! I had just finished heating up lunch (by chance, the leftovers of the soup this post is about) on the stove, removed the pot from the heat, turned the element off and went about plating the soup up and clearing up. I was just about to go and eat when I saw some crumbs on the stove top and without even thinking about it I swiped my hand across the stove top to remove the crumbs. AAAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!! Crumbs are still there, but I'm fairly sure a pretty decent sized chunk of my hand will soon be coming off once the burn gets to the blister stage. The entire section of my hand from the first knuckle on the pointer finger down to the base of the thumb is completely seared. Stupid!

Anyway, that's my excitement for the day, so hopefully that will be the only disaster. 

Yesterday it was one of those days where I had had a bit of a blowout over the weekend, and was really in the mood for a light dinner to soothe the overworked digestive system. We had some chicken leftover from the weekend which was just some basic chicken thighs that had been grilled on the BBQ which needed to be used. I made this cauliflower and spinach soup to get a big bowl full of nutrients and added the chicken to give a protein element to the meal, but the soup is a star on its own if you would prefer to have a vegetarian option, or you could add a poached egg or even some bacon if you wanted to make a bigger meal out of it. 

Cauliflower and Spinach Soup 

Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped into smallish pieces
2 cups chicken or vegetables stock
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 shallots, or half an onion, roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 cooked chicken thighs, diced, to use a croutons

1. In a large pot, place the stock, cauliflower, onion and garlic. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15-20 minutes until cauliflower is soft. 
2. Add the spinach, and cook for a couple of minutes until wilted. 
3. Season with salt and pepper. 
4. Using a stick blender, or in a blender, blend the soup until smooth. The soup was quite thick which I like, but if you prefer a thinner consistency you can add either some hot water, hot stock or even coconut milk (this would create a really yummy creaminess) to the mix to thin it out. 
5. Top with you 'croutons', or serve in the manner you prefer.



Sprouted Almond Butter

I have taken to sprouting our almonds before I make almond butter. I now try to always make our almond butter, as it is really expensive to buy and so easy to make at home. Sprouting the nuts prior to making any kind of nut butter means that the process takes a bit more time, but from a health point of view it is really worth it. 

By sprouting your nuts prior to use, you are mimicking nature. In the wild, rain creates moisture to allow germination and remove natural inhibitors and toxic substances that are naturally occurring defense mechanisms that the plants use until the ideal growing conditions exist. 

Nuts contain enzyme inhibitors that can put a strain on the digestive system if you over-consume, and the outers also contain phytic acid which can prevent the absorption of essential nutrients.
Why soak nuts, grains and seeds? (information courtesy of
  • 1. To remove or reduce phytic acid.
  • 2. To remove or reduce tannins.
  • 3. To neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.
  • 4. To encourage the production of beneficial enzymes.
  • 5. To increase the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins.
  • 6. To break down gluten and make digestion easier.
  • 7. To make the proteins more readily available for absorption.
  • 8. To prevent mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
  • 9. To help neutralize toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean.
  • 10. To prevent many health diseases and conditions.
The easiest way to sprout your nuts or seeds is to soak them overnight. Make sure you use filtered water to ensure that you are not simply replacing one toxin with another!

For making the nut butter, after sprouting I dehydrate the nuts again to remove the moisture, then gently roast and then they are ready for 'butterising' (my new word invented to describe making butter!!!). If you have a dehydrator this is the easiest way to get the nuts dry as you can just throw them in the dehydrator and leave them to do their thing. If you don't have one you can use the oven on the lowest setting. You may find this method takes a little longer, but it will achieve the same results.

A basic dehydrator is no hugely expensive but is a great investment for you kitchen. I use it to make kale chips, turn old bananas or apples into chips, and of course for dehydrating soaked nuts and seeds. I think I even got my one from Flybuys or one of those reward systems - yay for 'free' stuff!!

So, to sum it up, the process I use is as follows:

  • Soak nuts overnight (or for about 8 hours) in fresh filtered water. Use enough water to cover the nuts with about 5-10cm of water above the top of the nuts. They will absorb some water, so you need a little extra on top so the top ones don't end up poking out of the water. 
  • In the morning, drain the water and give the nuts a good rinse under fresh water. I find the easiest way to do this is to pop them in a sieve or colander and run them for a couple of minutes under water, but we have a filtered water tap in the kitchen. If you are using bottled water, pour the water into a large bowl and swish the nuts around in it for a few minutes. You may need to change the water a couple of times. Basically, you are aiming to clean them until the water runs clear. 
  • After rinsing, I place the nuts in a clean dry tea towel and give them a good dry to get any excess water off. 
  • Once dried, place on a lined baking tray and place in a minimal oven (about 80-100C) for around 8-12 hours. If you have a dehydrator, place the nuts in the dehydrator for about 6-8 hours until dry. The best way to test if they're dry is to eat one! 
  • If you are using the nuts to make nut butter, I don't worry as much about them being 100% dried, as you will be roasting them and blending them so it's not as crucial. 

Making the nut butter:

Sprouted Almond Butter

2 cups sprouted nuts
1 tsp sea salt

1. In a high powered blender or food processor, blend the almonds and salt until smooth and creamy. You should stop the blending a couple of times during the process to scrape the sides of the blender and ensure an even smoothness.



Sunday, 2 March 2014

Nut-free Peanut Butter Balls

Ok, so if I was to tell you that I have come up with a yummy little snack that tastes like peanut butter but has no nuts in it, would that get you interested?!

I had some leftover pumpkin seed butter in the fridge and wanted to make something with it. I had made a big jar of it after seeing that Ceres now had it in their 'butter' range and it worked really well, but the kids were not huge fans of it. Considering I had primarily made it as an alternative to using nut based spreads in their sandwiches as I do with sunflower butter for their Montessori lunches, it was not much use having a big jar of it if they weren't going to eat it! However, I will now be making more of it because after this monumental discovery of nut free peanut butter, I am going to be using a lot of it I'm sure!!!

This snack is an ideal afternoon pick-me-up and perfect for anyone with nut allergies. It is also ideal for lunchbox snacks for kids (or grown-ups) that have restrictions on using nut-based foods.

The very best thing about this though, is that it only contains 3 ingredients, and can be made in about 3 minutes. Those are the best kind of snacks!

 The jar of pumpkin seeds butter I whipped up...

…then added dates and coconut and made no-nut peanut butter fudge...

…and also rolled it into balls and coated in coconut for no-nut peanut butter balls. 

First, you will be best to make some pumpkin seed butter. I think it will also work with just plain pumpkin seeds, but you will probably have to blend the ingredients for a lot longer to get the smooth consistency, plus the lightly roasted pumpkin seeds and the addition of a little sea salt are what creates the peanut buttery taste. 

Pumpkin Seed Butter

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free

2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a baking tray with baking paper
2. Place the pumpkin seeds on the baking paper. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until very lightly golden and just starting to release a yummy smell.
3. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.
4. In a high powered blender, place the salted pumpkin seeds and blend until they reach a smooth, buttery consistency (usually about 5 minuted). You will probably need to stop a couple of times to scrape the sides of the blender to make sure it is all evenly blended. 

Nut-free Peanut Butter Balls or Fudge

Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds butter
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
4 medjool dates (stones removed)
Optional: 1/4 cup desiccated coconut to roll the balls in if you are choosing to make the balls.

1. In a small food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. 
2. To make the fudge, press the mixture into a small square tin, or into cake pop moulds (depending on whether you prefer round or square). Place in the fridge and chill for as long as you can stand waiting!
3. If you have gone with the option of making fudge squares, remove the piece of fudge from the square tin and cut into bite sized pieces to serve. 
4. If you would prefer to make balls, after step 1, remove tablespoon quantities of mixture and roll into balls. Place the extra coconut on a small plate. Roll each ball in the coconut, then place balls on a plate or in a container and place in the fridge to chill.