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.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Blissful Naughty-Turned-Nice Balls

I was inspired by Nicola's Pineapple Lump Bliss Balls at Eat Well NZ this month to develop healthy versions of Kiwi's favourite chocolate treats. Great flavours, without the guilt! No refined sugars, full of healthy fats and great sources of 'clean' energy. Gluten free, dairy free and paleo. Reach for these in the morning for an energy boost when your are rushing out the door or as a sweet treat at night when you get the munchies. 

These sweet treats are known as bliss balls, date bombs, goji balls and even amazeballs, they've been around since the raw food trend of the 1970s, but are now getting super popular again thanks to the new gluten-free, gym-happy generation. Add a tablespoon of natural protein powder if you're in training mode and remember that the more raw, unprocessed and organic the ingredients, the better.

If you can't quite bring yourself to make these, a great local cafe in Christchurch often sells these in all sorts of delicious flavours! Check out Pure Cafe Co. at 100 Bealey Avenue & 31 Birmingham Drive. They have some of the best healthy food options in town.

The 'Picnic' and the 'Bounty' balls were my favourite, the 'Jaffa' flavour was not far behind.

Please let me know if you give these a try and what your favourite flavour is. Remember, these may have no refined sugar and full of beneficial nutrients that will fuel your body, however they are energy dense and some restraint is encouraged...good luck!

Jaffa - Bliss Balls:

Makes 5

1/4 cup almonds
1/8 cup cashews
1 Medjool dates
1/4 cup raisins (sultanas)
1/2 orange, rinsed & dried
1 Tbsp cacao powder (or carob powder)
1 Tbsp desiccated coconut, for the mixture
1/8 cup desiccated coconut, for rolling

1. Process the nuts until they look like a fine powder (a bit like breadcrumbs – this will take at least 20 seconds).
2. Chop the date in half and remove the pit. Roughly chop.
3. Add the raisins (sultanas) and chopped dates to the food processor.
4. Finely zest the orange into the food processor on top of the chopped nuts and dried fruit.
5. Chop the orange in half, and use the citrus juicer to squeeze the juice. Add the juice to the food processor.
6. Add the cacao powder and coconut to the food processor, and process the mixture until it is like a thick, sticky dough. If the mix is a bit stiff, add a few drops of water.
7. On a dinner plate, spread out the extra 1/4 cup of coconut. Put another dinner plate next to it.
8. Wet your hands, and pull off a small chunk of the mixture (about 1 Tbsp). Then roll the ball in the coconut, and place the finished ball on the final dinner plate. Chill the balls for at least 1 hour.

Pineapple Lump - Bliss Balls:

Recipe by Nicola of Eat Well NZ
Makes 10 approx.

3/4 cup dried pineapple
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup coconut
80g dark chocolate

1. Cut the pineapple into fine pieces, and crush the macadamia nuts into small pieces.
2. Place the pineapple and nuts in a food processor and blend together for a few minutes.
3. Add the coconut and continue to process until the mixture becomes dough like. If it looks a bit wet, add some extra coconut and process again for about 30 seconds.
4. Squeeze/roll the mixture into balls.  The mixture is not super sticky like normal bliss balls, but it still moulds into balls.  Place in the fridge while you melt the chocolate.
5. Break up the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a microwaveable bowl.  Microwave for 45 seconds, stir, and then heat at 20 second intervals siring well in between each interval.  This is important so you don’t overheat the chocolate. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes max.
6. Dip the balls in the chocolate and place on baking paper until set. I sprinkled the tops with a small pinch of ground flaxseed - get creative with your topping!

Picnic Bar - Bliss Balls:

Makes 15 approx.

25g (1/4 cup) rolled oats
20g chopped dark chocolate or cacao nibs
18g (3/4 cups) puffed quinoa (substitute with puffed brown rice/millet/amaranth)
32g (1/2 cup) roasted salted peanuts
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
45g (2.5 Tbsp) smooth, natural peanut butter
56g (2.5 Tbsp) honey

1. Put dry pan on low heat on the stove-top. Place puffed quinoa/rice/millet/amaranth in the dry pan. Toast for 4 minutes, or until light golden - your nose will tell you when it's done.
2. Place oats and chocolate in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the puffed quinoa/rice/millet/amaranth, coconut and sesame seeds.
3. Place peanut butter and honey in a small saucepan over a low heat. Warm gently, and stir until well combined, smooth and mixture just comes to the boil. Working quickly, add the honey mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
4. Using slightly wet hands (to prevent sticking) squeeze tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls. Cover and refrigerate until firm.

Bounty Bar - Bliss Balls:

Makes 6 approx.

1/4 cup raw cashew nuts
1/8 cup coconut cream
3/4 cups coconut thread
1 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1/2 tablespoon of agave or honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

40-50g of unsweetened dark chocolate melted
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup coconut thread (for rolling)

Blend all filling ingredients in a food processor until combined. Roll the mixture into small balls and place onto a baking tray. Freeze for around 15 minutes or until firm.

Over a low heat on the stove-top, mix the coating ingredients (except for the coconut) in a saucepan until combined. Put coconut on a plate. Coat balls in the chocolate mixture then sprinkle/roll with coconut.

Freeze/refrigerate for at least 10-20 mins before eating.


Ferrero Rocher - Bliss Balls:

Makes 8 approx.

1/2 cup skinless roasted hazelnuts
45ml unsweetened hazelnut/almond milk
1 Tbsp cacao/cocoa powder
20ml organic coconut sugar (or sweetener of choice – adjust sweetness to your liking)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 hazelnut kernels (skin on – leave this aside)

1/8 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 tbsp cacao butter (melted)
1 TBSP coconut nectar/honey/Natvia
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup roughly chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)

1. Pulse hazelnuts in a food processor until it resembles a flour like consistency then add in the hazelnut milk, cacao, stevia, coconut oil and vanilla extract) and process until mixture is well combined and forms a dough like consistency that can be rolled into a small ball in your palms without sticking. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add a little more hazelnut milk until the right consistency forms and if the mixture is too wet, add some almond meal until a formable ball can be rolled.
2. Roll the above mixture into balls (ping pong ball size) and press in two whole raw hazelnuts inside the centre of each ball (This should yield roughly 8 balls) then place on a plate lined with baking paper and into the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. Whilst the balls are in the freezer, make the coating by combining the aforementioned coating ingredients (except chopped nuts) on the stove-top on low heat until all ingredients are incorporated then take off the heat and set aside. Place chopped nuts onto a large plate.
4. Remove the balls from the freezer then roll each ball into the chocolate coating, followed by rolling the chocolate coated ball into the chopped nuts and placing the ball onto a large plate lined with baking paper. Once this method is done, place the balls back into the freezer for another 10 minutes before eating! Enjoy!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Lunch-box Envy - Nutritious Salads to Impress!

Preparing delicious food in bulk for the week at work is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you make healthy choices and keep costs low. The key is to make meals that you look forward to devouring and will not lead you to be tempted by the vending machine/ McDonald's around the corner or spending $15 on a sandwich at the near-by deli/cafe.

Here are a couple of the salads (including my much-envied breakfast-in-a-jar) I have enjoyed in the last week...Inspired by the latest recipes in the August issue of the 'Cuisine' magazine.

Citrus Noodle Salad:

From Michael Van De Elzen's new book: 'Fast'.

Serves 6
1 Cucumber (de-seeded)
2c Mung Bean Sprouts
1/2c Edamame Beans (prepared)
1c Spring Onion (sliced)
1 Red Onion (sliced thinly)
1c Fresh Mint (chopped)
1c Fresh Coriander (chopped)
1 Head of Broccoli or 12 Stalks of Broccolini
200g Green Beans/Snow peas
1 Capsicum (sliced thinly)
1 500g Packet of Fresh Egg Noodles
12 Large whole prawns (uncooked) or 1c Cooked/Smoked Chicken (shredded)
1/3c Roasted Peanuts
2 Tbsp Black Sesame seeds (toasted)

Julienne carrots into 'noodles'. 
Peel the de-seeded and halved cucumber into ribbons. 
Combine carrots, cucumber, mung beans, edamame, spring onion, red onion and herbs,
Blanch the beans and broccoli. 
Prepare noodles as per package instructions. 
Stir fry prawns.

Juice of 3 Limes
Juice of 2 Lemons
Juice of 6 Mandarins
1 tsp Mustard Powder
1 Egg Yolk
125-250 ml Olive Oil

In a saucepan on low heat, combine the juices. Whisk in mustard powder and egg yolk vigorously. Slowly add in the oil, whisking to combine. Remove form the heat to cool.

In the bowl of prepared vegetables and herbs, add the cooked beans, broccoli, meat and noodles. Toss through the dressing.


Multi-Grain Salad:

Serves 4

Carrot & Harissa Puree:
700g/6 Medium Carrots (peeled)
2 Garlic cloves (crushed)
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Harissa
1 tsp Salt

Boil carrots and garlic in salted water until tender.
Drain well and while still warm process with oil in blender.

1/2c Mixed Quinoa (dry)
1/2c Millet (dry)
1/2c Mixed Seeds and Nuts (toasted) - I used Sliced Almonds, Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
1/8c Chia Seeds
4 Tbsp Preserved Lemon (finely diced)
4 Tbsp Dried Cranberries (or Currants/Dried Apricots/Dates etc...)
1c Fresh Parsley (roughly chopped)
2c Broccoli Florets (blanched)

2 Tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
1/2c Red Wine Vinegar
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
125ml Olive Oil

Prepare quinoa and millet in the same saucepan or in your rice cooker using this method.
Once the grains are cooled, add in the rest of the salad ingredients.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients then drizzle over the salad mix - toss.


NOTE: The quinoa and millet can be changed out for pearl barley/brown rice/amaranth etc...

Dessert for Breakfast:

Salted Caramel, Spiced Pumpkin Overnight Dessert Oats:

Yield: 4 servings

Step 1:
2 cup Pureed Pumpkin (steam/boil fresh pumpkin until tender and puree with the milk)
3-4 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk (or other milk of your choice)
1 tsp Chia Seeds  
1 tsp Flaxmeal
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg


Step 2:
1 tsp Molasses (to taste, I use 2 tsp) or 1 Tbsp Sugar Free Maple Syrup
4 Tbsp Salted Caramel Sugar Free Torani Syrup
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries/Raisins/Sultanas
1 Tbsp Raw Pecans/Walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. In a bowl , mix together the pumpkin and protein powder. Add in the chia, flax/linseeds and spices and stir again.
2.  Add the Step 2 ingredients and stir again (you can add the cranberries and pecans later if you want). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight. Enjoy first thing the next morning!

I like to layer this up with Chocolate dairy food, sliced banana and low fat Greek yoghurt, topped with a sprinkle of my favourite cereal at the moment.

This Month’s Favs:

Banana Bites - my go to sweet treat at night :)

Chia puddings
Simple Chia Pudding on

Cravelife online magazine - healthy recipes

Vitalzing  - a NZ owned and operated brand that creates healthy, effective drinks for health, energy, sports and beauty.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

International Cake Day (20th July) - Enough Said...

“20 July 2011 kicked off the first celebration of the International Cake Day established in the Kingdom of Love. This sweet summer holiday is dedicated to friendship and peace between people, countries and nations. The motto of the holiday is I CAKE YOU.”

I love any excuse to bake and this Sunday the 20th is International Cake Day....I took this as a challenge to try some cakes with unexpected twists. Curry and chilli in cake...turns out they are delicious! Tried and tested by my friends and family this weekend, and have my seal of approval. 

Are you brave enough to give these a go?

NOTE: I use 'chia/flax eggs' in my baking as they are cheaper, nutrient dense and provide a vegan option for baking. Don't be scared of using this option. These little seeds are super good for you and is a great way to cut some calories in your baking. 

Chilli Chocolate Cake:

Makes 1 standard sized cake:


200g dark chocolate, melted (I used half 90% dark Lindt and 70% dark Cadbury)
200g fat-free, Greek yoghurt - Applesauce for vegan (I love Lite Greek by Meadow Fresh or Low fat Greek by Cyclops)
50ml vegetable oil – (I’m loving Olivado Omega Plus Blended Oil at the moment)
150g soft brown sugar (I used a mix of coconut, erythritol and powdered stevia)
100g ground almonds
5ml dried chilli flakes (recipe says 10ml but it was quite hot so I suggest half the amount)
30ml cocoa powder (Blooker Cacao is my preference) 
50g unsweetened desiccated/shredded coconut
4 large eggs - or chia eggs for vegan - I used two whole eggs and two 'chia eggs'.
140g cake flour (I used a blend of wheat and spelt)
10ml baking powder


1. Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC and grease and line a cake pan with baking paper.
2. Combine the melted chocolate, yogurt, vegetable oil, sugar, ground almonds, chilli flakes, coconut and cocoa powder in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
3. Add the eggs one by one whilst blending. Add the flour and baking powder, blend until well incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Curry Coconut Banana Cake:

12 servings.

Toast the coconut in a dry pan over medium heat on stove top or in the oven spread on a tray – toast until lightly golden brown.

For topping:

3 Tbsp (packed) brown/coconut sugar
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For cake batter:

2 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar (Use Natvia or Erythritol for low sugar option)
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar (Coconut sugar for low gi)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup low fat Greek yoghurt/sour cream
3 large/4 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup oil - coconut/flax/hemp etc...

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and position the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. Spray oil and flour a 10-inch/25-cm tube pan/Bundt tin and set aside.
3. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl, and set aside.
4. Next, make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, curry, cinnamon and coconut in a mixing bowl, and set aside.
5. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the eggs and both sugars together until light, about 3 minutes on medium speed.
6. Add the remaining wet ingredients, and mix until well blended.
7. Add the flour mixture in three separate parts, mixing on low speed between each addition until incorporated.
8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again.
9. Sprinkle half the topping mixture in the base of the tin. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle the rest of the topping over the batter, then top with remainder of the cake batter and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the top is cracked and the cake tests clean with a wooden skewer.
10. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a small knife around the edges, and invert the cake first onto a large plate, then right-side up onto a serving platter, reserving as much crumble topping as possible. Serve warm or at room temperature (with coconut milk/cream icing drizzle).

I’m loving right now:

Chia bowls • Raw treats • Seed Cereal

Sweeteners used are dates, 100% pure maple syrup and coconut sugar.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

International Sushi Day!

I LOVE sushi! But I hate the guilt that comes with consuming the load of carbs and high sodium and sugar content of the sushi you get from the restaurants/food courts etc.

For some advise on choosing the best option when eating sushi out, check this guide out.

I thought I would share my tasty crowd-pleasing 'clean' sushi and even throw in a completely rice free option if you are on a raw/paleo diet. These recipes are flexible to dietary requirements and personal tastes - all fillings are optional and interchangeable.

I took the quinoa brown rice sushi to a party last week and they were a hit with all types! I promise they are delicious and so easy to make.

Happy Sushi Day!

Be brave and give these a go...


Quinoa and Brown Rice Sushi:

Makes 4 vegetable rolls and 2 salmon rolls

§  1/2 cup long grain brown rice
§  1/3 cup any colour quinoa
§  2 tablespoons rice vinegar*
§  1 teaspoon sugar/stevia
§  3 nori sheets
§  1 teaspoon wasabi, optional
§  1 small Lebanese cucumber, sliced
§  3/4 medium avocado, sliced
§  1 carrot, peeled and grated
§  1 medium beetroot (120g), peeled and grated or roasted and sliced
§  1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds/tamari roasted seeds
§  50g (approx.) raw/smoked salmon (use sushi grade salmon if available)


  1. Start by cooking both the quinoa and brown rice.
  2. To cook brown rice, measure out, put into a sieve and rinse.  Transfer into a small saucepan with 2 cups water, place lid on saucepan and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes (check packet for cooking time as it varies greatly with brown rice from 25-50 minutes).
  3. To cook quinoa, measure out and place in a sieve and rinse well.  Transfer into a small saucepan with 2/3 cup water, place lid on saucepan and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-18 minutes.  When cooked, fluff with a fork.
  4. Mix together hot rice, hot quinoa, rice vinegar and sugar.  Set aside to cool.
  5. While you are waiting for the rice mixture to cool, prepare the fillings.
  6. Place a sushi bamboo mat down on your bench with the slats running horizontally.  Have a small bowl of water close by.
  7. Place nori sheet on sushi mat with the shiny side down. Option: using the back of a teaspoon, spread a small amount of wasabi along the front edge of the nori sheet.
  8. Measure out approx. 1 cup of the quinoa and rice mix and using wet hands, spread it evenly over the front ¾ of the nori sheet, leaving at least a 3cm-wide border along the edge furthest from you.
  9. For the vegetable sushi:  Place cucumber along the front edge on top of the quinoa and rice, then follow with avocado, carrot, beetroot and lastly sprinkle with seeds
  10. Roll nori sheet up.  Use your thumbs and forefingers to pick up the edge of the mat closest to you. Use your other fingers to hold the filling while rolling the mat over to enclose the nori sheet around the filling. Gently pull the mat as you go to create a firm roll.
  11. When it is half rolled up, dip one of your hands in water and wet the end of the nori sheet. Continue rolling until all the quinoa is covered with the nori and you should have a neat roll.
  12. Repeat with vegetable filling, then with salmon filling.
  13. When complete, you will have 2 very long vegie rolls and 1 long salmon roll.  Cut the rolls in half (to make 4 vegie rolls and 2 salmon rolls) or in bite sized pieces.
  14. Serve with soy dipping sauce. 

Per Serve (vegetable roll):  674kJ or 160 calories; P 5g Fat 6.8g SFat 1.3g CHO 25g Fibre 4g
Per Serve (salmon roll):  742kJ or 177 calories; P 9g Fat 8.5g SFat 1.7g CHO 22g Fibre 3g
*Rice vinegar and Sushi bamboo mats are available from the supermarket in the Asian section or at any specialty Asian supermarket (e.g. Kosco).

Paleo Rolls:

Makes 8 maki rolls, feeds 4

For  the cauliflower sushi rice
  •  650g fresh cauliflower
  • 2 tbs (about) white vinegar
  • 1/2 tbs stevia or honey (optional)
  • 1/4 tbs salt

For the filling
  • 200g fresh sashimi-grade salmon or other fish or cooked chicken, sliced thinly (Tofu for vegetarian)
  • Omelette (2 eggs + Tbsp soy/tamari)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Cabbage
  • 1 Carrot, julienned
  • Radishes, sliced thinly
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 2 spring onions, julienned

·         8 sheets of nori


  1. Rice your cauliflower in a food processor by pulsing several times until it breaks down into small particles that look like rice. Alternatively, grate carefully and avoid cauliflower missiles.
  2. Sautee your cauliflower on gentle heat with the vinegar, sweetener (if using), and salt. Adjust to your liking. Set aside to cool.
  3. Lay your nori sheet over a bamboo mat with the shiny side facing down (because it’s prettier that way). If you don’t have a bamboo mat, a moistened tea towel works fine.
  4. Arrange about 3 tablespoons of cauliflower rice over the nori, leaving a gap on all sides. Have a bowl of water handy to get the rice off your fingers.
  5. Arrange a line of your filling over the 'rice'. Salmon first, then cucumber, then avocado and any other of the options you may like. Do not overfill.
  6. Start to roll your sushi by turning the bamboo mat or tea towel in on itself once, push down and outwards all along the length of the roll. Pulling the mat or towel straight across the roll like along the wheels of a tank, repeat the securing. Then rolling. Securing and rolling. Secure and roll.
  7. Slice with a sharp knife and serve with Tahini sauce

Tahini sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 2 tablespoons peeled ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar/honey
  • 1/8 cup water (more or less)

Things I'm loving this month:

  • Henry Langdon Cocoa and Chai Spice is sugar free and delicious! I have it with some vanilla extract and a slosh of trim milk…so warming on these cold Winter days. Buy from Traiteur in Merivale Christchurch. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Low-down On Sweeteners - Baking With Less Sugar

Newest food mash-up:

I saw these recently online and had to put my spin on them! They are a great healthier alternative to the muffin/scone from the cafe you by for the on-the-go breakfast or snack. Bake these on a Sunday and have healthy snack/light breakfast option for the whole week.

The scuffin is a frankenpastry — part scone, part muffin and, like a doughnut, filled with jam —but despite its complex genetics, it is very easy to make. It is even fairly healthy, using whole grain/gluten free flours and flaxseeds, and keeping the ‘fat’ minimal. The spices can be varied (swap in nutmeg, ginger or allspice for the cinnamon or cardamom), and so can the jams.

1 hour

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (solid)
  • 1 cup spelt/white flour
  • ¼ cup quick oats
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1/4 flaxseed meal or wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons light brown or raw sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (I used 1 Tblsp of brown sugar, 1 Tblsp of granulated stevia and 1 Tblsp of Erythritol*)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of fruit jam, conserves, preserves or fruit butter (I alternated between; lemon curd, rhubarb jam and apricot preserve)
1. Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Using an oil spray, coat the cups of a standard-size 6-cup muffin tin (12 small/mini).

2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons coconut oil, add to dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.

3. In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk and cream. Add to dry ingredients and mix to combine (the dough will be quite sticky).

4. Reserving about a quarter of the dough for topping, scoop 2 tablespoons dough into each cup. Using the back of a spoon, press dough gently down into the cups. The dough will move up the sides, and there should be a shallow well in each dough cup. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the top; there should be about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the dough and the rim of the cup.

5. Spoon about 1 teaspoon jam into each well. Using your fingers, pinch remaining dough into small clumps and scatter evenly over the jam in each cup, making a bumpy topping or just scoop a tablespoon or so or the mix on top for a smoother topped scruffin. Sprinkle raw sugar over the tops.

6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack.

Makes: 6 (12 small) scuffins

HFG guide to sweeteners:

By Tracy Morris

With so many different sweeteners available, it can be difficult to know which one is best for your needs.

Non-nutritive sweeteners are intensely sweet, meaning only a very small amount is needed – so they are virtually kilojoule-free and have no impact on blood sugar levels. With the exception of stevia, most non-nutritive sweeteners are chemically produced.

Aspartame (eg. Equal, NutraSweet)

What is it? An artificial sweetener made by joining two amino acids – aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
Nutritional properties: Provides about the same amount of energy as table sugar, but because it is 160-220 times sweeter than sugar, only a tiny amount is needed, making the energy negligible.
Best use: Aspartame loses its sweetness at high temperatures so it’s not suitable for cooking. It is commonly used in cold food products such as diet soft drinks, cordial and yoghurt.
Take note: People with Phenylketonuria (PKU) – an inherited disorder that increases the levels of amino acid phenylalanine (a building block of proteins in the blood ) – are advised not to consume aspartame as it contains phenylalanine.

Acesulphame potassium or Ace-K (eg. Equal Spoon for Spoon, Sweet One®, Sunnett)

What is it? A synthetically produced potassium salt.
Nutritional properties: Ace-K is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not provide any kilojoules as it is not broken down by the body.
Best use: Baking, because it is stable at high temperatures.
Take note: In high concentrations it has a slightly bitter aftertaste so it is often blended with other sweeteners to produce a more sugar-like taste.

Sugar alcohols or polyols (eg. sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol)*

What is it? These occur naturally in certain fruits or can be produced artificially from glucose.
Nutritional properties: Provides half the kilojoules of table sugar  but only a small amount is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Best use: Often used to replace sugar in chewing gum, polyols are not broken down by mouth bacteria so they don’t promote tooth decay.
Take note: If eaten in large quantities, they can have a laxative effect and cause diarrhoea, bloating and gas.

Stevia or steviol glycosides (eg. Equal Stevia, NuNaturals Nu Stevia™, Natvia)

What is it? A natural, non-nutritive sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia herb.
Nutritional properties: Stevia is 250-300 times sweeter than table sugar, with no impact on blood sugar levels. It has 11kJ per gram.
Best use: People who prefer a natural sweetener over a synthetic one but don’t want the kilojoules.
Take note: Some stevia extracts have a distinct aftertaste similar to liquorice.

Saccharin (eg. Sweet’N Low®, Necta Sweets, Sweet Twin)

What is it? A synthetically produced sweetener made by combining a number of chemicals.
Nutritional properties: Saccharin is 200-700 times sweeter than table sugar and provides no energy.
Best use: Enhances the strength of other sweeteners.
Take note: Not recommended for pregnant women or children under two years.

Sucralose (eg. Splenda®, Sugar Free Natura)

What is it? Sugar that is chemically processed to replace hydrogen and oxygen molecules with chlorine molecules.
Nutritional properties: Six hundred times sweeter than table sugar, with most of it passing through the body unchanged, providing no energy.
Best use: Since it is the most heat-stable non-nutritive sweetener, sucralose can easily be used to replace sugar (cup for cup) in cooking and baking.
Take note: Sucralose tastes very similar to sugar and has no bitter aftertaste, which is common with other non-nutritive sweeteners.

Top non-nutritive sweetener picks
  • Best for baking: Sucralose or stevia
  • Most natural: Stevia
  • Best for your teeth: Sugar alcohols

Interesting article I found this week: Do you know what's really 'in' your drink?
My newest app I hate to love (my bladder hates me): Water Your Body...
 50 Apps Tip Top Condition roundup: Water Your Body

My favourite inspirational quote lately: MIND POWER!!!!