Saturday, 19 December 2015

Wholesome Christmas

Show your loved ones how much you really care about them by treating them to delicious treats with better-for-you ingredients.

Homemade Dairy-Free Eggnog
(Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-Free)

2 cups coconut milk
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup maple syrup (or more to taste)
4 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg plus more for garnish

Optional: 1/3 cup of rum/brandy/honey bourbon - or a mix of two.

1. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, combine the coconut and almond milk, maple syrup, ground cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Over medium heat, allow the mixture to become warm and “steamy”, but don’t allow it to boil or simmer. Remove from heat when it is just “steamy”.

2. Beat the egg yolks till thick and pale, then slowly pour about half of the milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks, gently whisking the whole time. This is called tempering the eggs. If you were to just combine everything at once it would likely curdle and or scramble the egg. A slow pour and constant whisking is very important here. Don’t be intimidated by these steps, but don’t skip them either.

3. Now add the tempered egg mixture back into the leftover milk. Return it to a medium heat, stirring constantly and never letting it come to a boil. If it boils it will curdle. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a temperature of 70 degrees C on a candy thermometer. It should thicken some. As long as at it’s not curdling you can keep cooking the eggnog a little longer at 70 degrees till it thickens more.

4. Remove the stove and let the eggnog cool down. Once cooled some, mix in the vanilla extract, nutmeg and the alcohol (optional). You can also add a splash more of milk to taste) Chill well. Serve with a little sprinkle of nutmeg on the top.
If the mixture does curdle, don’t worry. Pour your eggnog into a blender or food processor and give it a whirl. It will smooth out in no time and no one will be the wiser!

A recipe inspired by:

Spiced Chocolate & Almond Reindeer Cookies

250g (1½) cups almonds
150g dark chocolate (I used 80% cocoa)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 large egg whites
Dried cranberries or red m&ms for the noses
Pretzel twists for the antlers 

Preheat the oven to 160°C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. In a food processor, finely grind the almonds.

Add the chocolate and process again until fine, being careful not to over-mix as the chocolate will begin to melt.  Add the spices, maple syrup and egg whites and process again until the dough comes together.

Turn out, form into a disc and chill for 30 minutes.  Remove from the fridge, then roll the dough into equal sized balls and space out over a baking tray. Break the pretzel bows in half, then insert the two halves at the top of each ball of cookie dough. Place one cranberry or m&m in the center of each ball, then lightly press each ball to flatten slightly.

Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool before storing in an airtight container. These biscuits are bittersweet so if you have a sweet tooth, then either add another tablespoon or two of maple syrup.

Optional: use a piping bag and white icing to give each reindeer some eyes.

A recipe inspired by: Emma Boyd

Clean Eating Gingerbread Loaf

2 eggs, large (for vegan version use 2 flax eggs)
1 + 1/4 cups applesauce, unsweetened
1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (substitute with 5 pitted Medjool dates + 1/4 cup any milk/applesauce)
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated*

2 + 3/4 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder, aluminum free
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves, ground

Clean Eating Gingerbread Loaf: ifoodreal

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and spray non-stick loaf pan (23 x 13cm) with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs and add remaining wet ingredients. If using dates, blend them with applesauce in a powerful blender until smooth, then add remaining wet ingredients and give a few more pulses to combine.

3. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and gently stir until combined. Do not over mix. 

4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes if using dates or 50 minutes for maple syrup or honey version. 

Ovens vary, so check with a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread. The bread is ready when it comes out clean. 

5. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool down completely.

Storage Instructions: 
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.


I don't recommend using dried ground ginger because I think it is really a totally different taste. You can buy a small piece of ginger root, and freeze what you don't use. You can use the root right out of the freezer - don't need to defrost. If you have a microplane (grater that is really a hardware store rasp), you don't even need to peel the root before you use it.

A recipe inspired by: ifoodreal

Gingerbread Bliss Balls
Bliss Balls: Jules Galloway

2 cups raw almonds 
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp allspice
1 tbsp tahini
8 medjool dates, pitted 
2 tbsp coconut nectar (or honey/maple syrup)
2 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut


1. In a food processor, process the almonds until they become a fine crumb. 

2. Add the ginger and allspice, and process again briefly.

3. Add the tahini, dates and coconut nectar, and process until the mixture becomes sticky. If it’s not coming together, add 1 tsp of water.

4. Taking 1 tbsp of mixture at at time, roll into balls and coat with desiccated coconut.

Makes around 20 balls.

Recipe credit:

Why not continue with the DIY homemade gift idea and create the box you put your baking in. Like these:

See more inspiration and free templates here.

I hope you give these a try and gift them to your loved ones this Christmas. These recipes will show you care enough to spend time to create something. Treats to enjoy with less guilt!


Friday, 13 February 2015

Valentine Brownie - Clean Eating Treat

Zucchini Chocolate Brownies 

Brownies are usually high fat and sugar laden. However, this fudgy and delicious brownie recipe is low in fat and gluten, naturally sweetened and packed with a special ingredient to keep them extra fudgy (and secretly healthy)...ZUCCHINI!

With so many zucchinis (courgettes) in the garden at the moment I was searching for a different way to use them and came across this recipe on the Texanerin Baking blog and had to try it, with my own spin on it of course. Add in hazelnuts like I did, or any other nuts/seeds you like. Alternatively, throw in some fresh/frozen berries or if your feeling a little naughty; a swirl of nut butter or cream cheese.

What a lovely treat for the one(s) you love at this time of year. Show them you care by giving them a healthy indulgence that is full of ingredients your body will love.

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 35 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yield: 16 brownies


1 egg
1/4 cup Low fat Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup honey
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup whole spelt flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour mix (gluten free)
1/3 cup ground oats into flour
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup carob powder (or ¼ cup more cocoa powder)
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp concentrated vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla essence)
2 cups (about 320 grams) peeled and grated zucchini
1/4 cup hazelnuts (chopped roughly)
1/4 to 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (dairy free if needed - Sweet William Dairy Free Choc Chips are available in NZ)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line an 8"x8" square pan with baking paper or spray with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the egg, yoghurt, vanilla, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, and apple sauce and let this sit for 5 minutes to let the coconut sugar dissolve.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the three flours, cocoa powder, carob powder, baking soda and salt. Make sure there are no clumps before going on to the next step.
  4. Add the dry mix to the wet, gently stir until combined. Be sure not to over mix!
  5. Then fold in the zucchini and 1/8-1/4 cup chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and even the surface with a spatula.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top. 
  8. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle doesn't come out gooey. It might still be sticky - not raw though. 
  9. When cool: Dust with powdered (icing) sugar.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature or up to one week in the refrigerator. I recommend storing them in the refrigerator right from the beginning due to their high moisture content.

Happy Valentines Day! xx

Saturday, 6 December 2014

It's Pronounced 'Keen-wah'!

Why is quinoa all the rage? Good question! If you’ve ever tried quinoa, you know that it’s delicious but also really mild and neutral tasting – kind of like rice – so works well with just about any flavours you want to add. Savoury, sweet, Mexican, Mediterranean … with quinoa, it’s all good!

Quinoa is usually lumped together with whole grains, along with others like barley, amaranth, spelt and oats. But, technically, quinoa isn’t a cereal grain at all. (According to the experts, quinoa is actually botanically related to beets, chard and spinach) Still, it’s cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient profile, and you often see it used in recipes in place of oats (like in hot breakfast cereal), rice and other whole grains.
What’s really awesome about quinoa is that it’s one of the only plants that has all the amino acids needed to be a complete protein (great for vegetarians!), and it has a very high ratio of protein to carbohydrates. The carbs it does have, though, are complex carbs, so, like other whole grains, quinoa will help you feel full longer and is a better source of sustained energy than simple carbs. Plus, quinoa is loaded with goodies like fibre, potassium, magnesium and iron. And it’s gluten free!

Depending on your supermarket, you’re probably most likely to find quinoa in the organic/natural foods section or near the rice and couscous. It’s usually in small boxes or bags, about 400 grams each.

Quinoa Recipes to Try:

Mexican Black Bean and Quinoa Salad:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained (substitute for kidney beans if you can't find)
1 cup corn
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 Capsicum, diced
1 Red chilli, seeded (optional)
2 tablespoons coriander, chopped
1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
pepper to taste
1 avocado, chopped

Prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Allow to cool, or chill for two hours.

Combine the quinoa, beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, chili, and cilantro and toss. Squeeze the lime juice over the salad. Add the olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and toss again lightly. Add the avocado last, tossing it in gently into the salad.

Serve at room temperature, or allow the salad to chill for an hour.

Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad. 

Brought to you by MiNDFOOD.

Serves 4

2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp yoghurt
¼ cup olive oil, plus 3 tbsp
1kg sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
1 tsp chilli flakes
vegetable oil, for frying
250g haloumi, thinly sliced
2 cups quinoa, cooked
½ cup walnuts, toasted and
1 cup kale, shredded and blanched/steamed
½ cup parsley leaves
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 cup pomegranate seeds

To make salad dressing, place lemon juice, sugar, mustard, and yoghurt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually add ¼ cup olive oil and whisk until smooth.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place sweet potatoes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and chilli in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Place potatoes on a baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan and cook haloumi in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden. Drain cheese on paper towels.

Place quinoa, walnuts, kale, parsley, onions, and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl; pour dressing over salad; and toss well to combine. Place sweet potatoes on a large serving platter, spoon quinoa salad over sweet potatoes, and top with crisp haloumi.

Check out more great quinoa recipes here!

This I'm Loving At The Moment:

Red Seal's new tea range:

I recently stumbled upon this new tea range in the supermarket. I took the strawberry and rhubarb home and from the first sip I was hooked! So tasty and no added sweeteners like some other brands which is a definite plus! With Summer and the holiday period upon us, why not give these a go - they are yummy both warm or cold  - you can even brew it with water straight from the tap.

Red Seal challenged nutritionist and blogger Libby Matthews (of Julia and Libby), and Hancock’s mixologist Matty Bradley to design their own summer drinks using the range. Here a a couple of them, they sound delicious to me...

Blood Orange Rumba

Avocado Oil:

This beautiful emerald oil is not as well known or used as olive oil, however its health and culinary properties are just as impressive, maybe even more so. Like olive oil it’s pressed directly from the fruit (avocados are naturally about 30% oil), rather than being chemically extracted like many other plant oils. All they do is press the avocados and it mushes it to a pulp containing oil, and then it is centrifuged to separate the two. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
Cold-pressed avocado oil means no heat was needed to do this, retaining as much of its nutrition as possible. It is also made up mostly of healthy monounsaturated fats, and high in vitamin E and antioxidants. What is quietly amazing about avocado oil is it’s naturally high smoke point. What this means is that it is suitable for high heat cooking (as well as low and medium heat cooking), so I use it for things like stir-fries or cooking steak when I want to get the pan really hot. With increased production of avocados, the price of avocado oil is coming down, and you can now get good quality avocado oil that is comparable in price to olive oil.

Move over coconut oil!

San Remo Spelt Pasta:

What - Spelt is an ancient, nutty-flavoured grain that's remarkably high in both fibre and protein (many brands boast up to 8 grams of fibre/serving). It is more nutritious than wheat, although less widely produced (its hard hulls are expensive to mill).

Why - A good source of thiamin and niacin, spelt pasta has more than twice the fibre of regular wheat pasta.