Monday, 29 July 2013

Cherry~Berry Pie

To posts in one week this week this week. I must have too much time on my hands..hahaha I wish! Here I am writing in the hours I should be sleeping, though being here in this space is where I want to spend my 'me' at the moment. I'm excitedly coming up with new recipes with the abundance of local seasonal produce that is literally falling at my feet these days. I have always been a forager, and as a child I was always taken out on fruit picking sessions, armed with saved ice-cram tubs and returning with deep-purple-stained fingers and a belly full of berries. When out walking or cycling, I tend to always be looking up at the trees and bushes, wondering if some edibles are about to be born. Now, I am blessed with time where my 'work' is to be with my baby girl. Nothing does she love more than to go out for walks with me. Either in her pram or on my back, she gazes up at the trees as I always have. I think she just loves the movement and flickering of colour and light, but I wonder, does she look for the potential behind those buds and leaves too? A girl after her mothers heart, she has started to gnaw on chunks of raw fruits and veg, cucumber and watermelon being her firm favourites. In my first trimester of pregnancy, I used to buy a big watermelon every other day and eat my way through it all, as well as copious amounts of cold cucumbers. Anything cold and watery I would devour. My mum says that she had cucumber cravings with me too, so maybe it runs in the family?!

So walk we do. Everyday, we head off out the door on a new adventure. From my house, there is a park and paths leading  to streams and woods. We can go out on the same route, day after day and discover something new. I love this adventure of discovering the hidden treasures within a stones throw from your home. We often forget that there is beauty and winsomeness all around us, looking instead to try and find it far far from where we actually are. The grass is always greener effect. Having this time where we go out and explore our immediate surroundings, day after day has bought me a sense of pleasure that I have never before given myself the 'luxury' of doing. This little girl is certainly showing me that the simple things in life are the best. I adore her even more for her teachings, children are amazing!

So we have been walking through this same park most days for the last 4 months. I have passed through it so many times in my life before this time, but never before 'just because'. Before now, it was a shortcut to the city and I would usually be in hurry going through it. When Fern was first born and Spring arrived, I remember seeing the beautiful pink blossoms adorning these trees, and thinking how beautiful they were and representing in her arrival. Big, old, grand trees covered in delicate baby-pink flowers for a few days, before the winds came and blew them all away. We visited these cherry trees most days as summer approached, every day seeing the tiny buds turn into small, light cherries on long stalks. For some reason, we stopped going there for a week or to, then on our return last week, the trees were loaded with big, ripe, red cherries! I was jumping up and down, filling what limited vessels I had on me with the juicy jewels, oh how juicy they were! After picking as many as I could reach, I headed home and devoured my first bag of cherries with my man, feeling so very indulgent on eating a whole bag of cherries freshly picked from my wise old tree friend.

Lets just say, we have been visiting this big humble tree every day since, and I have jumped, shaken, picked and plucked our bag full of cherries every day for the past two weeks. I have never eaten so many cherries, and something I love about seasonal produce is that gorging on something when nature gives you it is half the fun, only to self-realise that your are ready to go without for another year when the season is over. I don't think I could ever eat store-bought imported cherries ever again after realising how amazing fresh cherries do taste! I can't think of many ways to enjoy cherries better than straight from the tree, raw, warm, sun-kissed and naked. This is how we have been enjoying our daily harvest most days. Though after eating our way through so many, it was time to come up with some creative ways of using these gifts of nature. When life gives you cherries, make cherry pie I say!

This recipe has been made many times now in our house. It is so simple, and we eat a big slice each on the day it is made, then slice the rest and put in in the freezer so we can take a slice out when ever we feel like it. I have done it three ways, one keeping the filling plain and using the cherries hole on top, one making a half-half filling of blended cherries to create a swirl effect and one where I blended the cherries through the whole filling to make a dark red pie. All tasted amazing and are as simple as each other. If you slice and decorate the top with the fresh cherries, be sure to eat it all on the day of making or freeze on the same day so that they don't go off.

Marbled Cherry pie, splattered with cherry juice (a culinary artists accident turned beautiful touch!)

Cherry~Berry pie

Makes 1 9" pie

1/2 c hazlenuts
1 c almonds
1/2 c buckheaties (or puffed amaranth or rice if unavailable)
1/2 c soaked dates, about 12

1 can coconut cream (full fat) refrigerated overnight
2 c cashews, pre-soaked
2 limes
50g coconut sugar, powdered
4 tbsp coconut oil

A good handful fresh cherries and/or berries

To make the crust, place the hazelnuts and almonds in a food processor and process until fine and crumbly. Whilst running, drop the pre-soaked dates into the processor. Check the mixture, it should stick together when pressed own with your fingers. Add the sprouted and dehydrated buckwheaties or puffed amaranth/rice, and pulse a few times to combine. Press the mixture into a loose-bottomed pie-tin (line the bottom with clingfilm) and use your thumb and finger to create a lip about 1/4cm thick. Set aside while you make the filling.

If you need to powder the coconut sugar, do this first in a dry blender jug, until it is lighter in colour and very fine like icing sugar. Open the can of coconut cream, and using a spoon, scoop of the top solid cream layer, avoiding the watery part underneath. Keep this part for making smoothies, or cooking grains or porridges. Add the cream to the blender along with the drained cashews. Juice the limes and add it to the mix, then blend until smooth and creamy. Add 4 tbsp coconut oil to ensure that the mixture sets in the fridge and blend once more.

If you want a cream-coloured pie decorated with whole fruits, then simply pour the mixture into the pie crust and decorate with the cherries/berries in any way you desire. Be creative! If you would like a pink coloured pie, add up to 1 cup of de-stoned cherries and/or berries to the cream and blend until smooth and bright pink (add 1 more tbsp coconut oil as the mixture will be runnier). Pour into the crust and set in the fridge or freezer. For a marbled pie, pour half of the cream into the crust before adding some cherry/berry action to the other half. Blend well, then carefully pour a spiral of the coloured mixture on top of the cream coloured mix. Jiggle a few times to make the top flat, the using a chop-stick, create swirls by pulling the colour back and forth through the pie, making a dance of colours inside the pie. It's your artists palate! Let go and see what happens! You can still decorate the top with extra fruits, before lending the pie to the fridge ( or freezer for faster, firmer setting) before serving up under a special shady tree of your own, marveling in the abundance that is Summer!

Coconut cream filling topped with cherries, red currants and black currents

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bread of Life!

I spend alot of my time reading other food blogs. I read them like other people read newspapers or magazines, like every day. I find joy in being transported to their kitchen through stories, amusement in their anecdotes of their lifestyle and excitement in seeing the recipe unfold in pictures. There are so many food blogs out there these days, compared to when I first started blogging and many people had never even heard the word blog! However, certain ones stand out for me and keep me coming back over and over for uniqueness, creativity and breaking of boundaries. What I mean is, there are a million recipe blogs out there with the same recipe for raw cheesecake or a green smoothie. I mean I want something new, exciting, something that has sprouted from the writers own depth of imagination and deep passion of food and flavour. I admire some of the writers who I follow, and feel it essential for my work/play/passion to share, support and inspire one anothers own unique style and creativity. I like good food blogs, ones which break the mould and give something new and exciting to keep me believing that what I do is not so crazy! If the only people who understood how my brain works in terms of making food were these other bloggers, then that would be ok, because in the world of wholefoods, sometimes you can seem like a real weirdo to Mr normal on the street. Bless him, he has his passions too but I am grateful for these creative foodies out there who obviously think in a similar way to me. They remind me daily that doing what I do is amazing and cool!

I love the amazing photography on these sites, something I have decided this week that I am going to dedicate some of my time to learning. Through these pictures, I am transported into their kitchens, feeling the movements going into their dishes and get a slice of their lives through image. I love that. The stories which always make me smile, often relaying similar situations that I find myself in in my own kitchen, help me remember that cooking is a labour of love. We mess it up sometimes but we always mean well. The end result, the recipe, often simple but with the authors own twist that turns it special. Inspiring ingredients. Interesting facts. Colour, no beige-white food here. And always good for us, be it through being filled with superfoods or simply love-filled comfort food. Ok, I admit it. I'm a foodie who thinks, breathes, reads and eats good food every day and it makes me one very happy girl. I'm glad I chose food as my life passion and not base jumping or something, I'm glad I get to practice my passion multiple times a day!

So here's the story behind this post. One of my most favourite food blogs is My New Roots written by Sarah Britton. If you haven't ever looked at her site then you are in for a real treat.. Write off the rest of the day and put your feet up with a cup of tea and get stuck in! Now she recently caused a real stir on her site when she posted her recipe for her 'Life changing Loaf of bread'. 'How can a loaf of bread be life-changing?' I thought as I read her in depth post and instructions on what, seemed to have certainly been for her, life changing. It sounded good and interesting, so I gave it a go. Well, let me tell you it actually has changed my life, in a very good way too. Not only is her bread recipe super easy, quick and uses ingredients I always have in my pantry, it actually tastes a million times better than any other bread I have ever made. On top of that, my lovely partner, who loves my food but is always the first to let me know if something is not, in his mind, as good as a more traditional version, loves this bread as much as I do! Now that is saying something. I can throw this loaf together in 5 minutes, let it sit for a few hours before popping it in the oven and its good to go. And, as you will read when you read her post, it makes the best toast ever. Ever.

Bread to me has to be more than just bread. I like my bread full of stuff! Seeds, nuts, gimme texture and bite! Who ever thought that making bread as light and soft and white was the way forward. I received an amusing email from a friend of mine who is traveling South America at the moment, who said that all they want to feed her is said white fluff bread. 'The whiter the better' it seemed, she said. I hope that one day they will come to realise that refining their grains as much as possible is not only crazy from an economical perspective, but also health and taste related! Luckily, in Europe we seem to have mastered the art of making good quality artisan breads, using many different grains and other ingredients. I like my bread to be the kind that you could eat completely on its own with no topping, if you wished, full of texture and flavour.

For Sarahs recipe for her Life changing loaf of bread, look it up on her beautiful blog. Taking inspiration from her recipe, I wanted to try out making a raw bread. I'd tried making some raw breads before, but they were never very, urm, bread-like. More like chewy raw crackers. Not very convincing, Geoff would not approve let put it that way ; ) Here, I have basically taken Sarahs recipe and made a few very small changes before dehydrating it sliced up rather than baking. You can, as I often also do however make this same recipe and bake it. Dehydrated, it is dense, seedy, the perfect accompaniment to a raw soup or some raw dips or lathered with tahini and honey. Baked, I love it warm from the oven topped with ghee or coconut oil, or spread with my pesto and sliced avocado. Either way, its been a winner in our house and I am feeling excited about sharing this recipe with you now!

Thank you Sarah for changing our lives through a loaf of bread. May my Bread of Life fill your days with new inspiration and your bellies with healthful bliss!

Bread of Life
Makes 1 medium loaf
150g rolled oats (or almond flour if you want to make this totally raw and gluten-free)
90g flax seeds
135g sunflower seeds
90g Pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
4 tbsp psyllium husk powder
1 tsp sea salt
370ml water
3 tbsp Olive oil
1tbsp runny honey/sweet freedom syrup/maple syrup

In a large bowl, mix together the first seven dry ingredients. Measure out the water and add the oil and honey/syrup into the water. Using your hands, gradually mix the wet ingredients with the dry, until a ball forms. Press the dough into a silicon loaf tin or loaf tin lined with clingfilm. Leave for at least half an hour or up to overnight for the psyllium to swell. When ready to dry your loaf, press it out of the tin (it should come out easily) and using a large sharp knife, cut into slices 3/4 cm thick. Lay the slices onto a dehydrator mesh and dry at 42deg C for 6-8 hours (I do mine overnight) until dry but still bendy. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can lay the slices on a baking tray and dry in your oven on lowest temperature until dry (will take much less time and not be strictly 'raw'). You can then put all the slices back together and wrap up in clingwrap as a loaf, or store in an airtight container until ready for eating.

Bread of Life.. how will you enjoy yours?!

For a whole list of my favourite food blogs, check out my links page.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Spring Foraging ~ Wild Garlic and love for Pesto!

Spring has finally arrived! Whilst out walking the other day, our path was carpeted with the distinctive smell of sweet garlic wafting above sheets of vibrant green spears. 'Wild garlic!' I shouted, excitedly fumbling through my bag instantly to see if I had carrier bags to collect some of the tempting leaves. I did, and we were soon down in the sea of green, plucking the stems to gather a bag full to take home. My mind was ticking over all of the things that I could make with them... Pesto, pasta, potato salads. Wild garlic (also known as Ramsons) is one of the first really yummy wild greens to pop up in spring, blooming beautiful white star shaped flowers from April until June. It is a seasonal bulbous perennial that grows widespread in damp woods and hedge banks. It often smells stronger than it actually tastes, with its sweet and juicy with a waft-of-garlic taste. Making the leaves into pesto is my favourite way of using wild garlic, as you don’t need to add garlic to your pesto as usual, and as a way of preserving these amazing leaves for many months. This delicious paste can be stored and added to pasta dishes, as a spread on sandwiches or raw-crackers, as a dip for vegetables or stirred into cooked or sprouted grains such as quinoa or buckwheat. 

Wild garlic pesto with creamy millet and marinaded veggies

Serves 2

For the Pesto (makes 1 jar, enough for leftovers to keep)
2 handfuls Wild garlic leaves
½ cup nuts/seeds (pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans…)
1 cup Rapeseed oil/Olive oil
1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast flakes
½ tsp salt

Put the nuts or seeds at the bottom of a blender, add oil and blend until the nuts are broken down. Add the washed and torn wild garlic leaves and stems, salt and nutritional yeast flakes if using. Blend until creamy, then transfer into jars, pouring a little more olive oil ontop of the pesto to keep it from discolouring. Store in the fridge.

For the marinaded vegetables
1 courgette
1 red/yellow pepper
4 small brown mushrooms
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp olive oil

Slice the courgette, pepper, mushrooms and onion into slices about 1/2 cm thick and place in a shallow baking dish. Crush the garlic and toss over the vegetables with the tamari and oil. Leave to marinade for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. If you have a dehydrator, you can pop the dish in and dry for 1-4 hours at 42 deg C, and serve the vegetables warm.

For the creamy millet
1 tbsp ghee/ coconut oil
1/2c millet
2 c  boiling water

Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan and add the millet. Toast gently for a couple of minutes until a few of the grains start to pop, then add the boiled water. Turn down to a simmer, then cover and leave undisturbed for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for another 5-10 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.

To serve
Split the millet between bowls, add a big dollop of pesto and stir roughly to swirl the pesto in. Spoon some of the marinaded vegetables over the millet, drizzling some of the marinade ontop. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, sprouted beans or what ever crunchy protein you have to hand.

Ps.. I love to make seasonal pestos using different flavoursome herbs throughout the year, so expect to see some more 'alternative' pesto recipes in the future! Whats your favourite ingredient to make into pesto??

Friday, 29 March 2013

Live by Chocolates!

When I first discovered raw chocolate, there were no packaged bars in the shops, and buying raw cacao ingredients was something one had to do online. Not so much now. Over he past 5 years, raw cacao has sky rocketed in popularity, and now even some supermarkets sell it. The health benefits of choosing raw chocolate over roasted, processed chocolate have been widely publicised  and the products on the shelves have turned from low quality bars which were not quite hitting the spot, to superior quality bars, truffles, filled, shapes and even Easter

 eggs! The tempering process, essential in getting the shiny, snap-able, melt-in-your-mouth feel of pure chocolate has been learned by raw chocolatiers and made the products which we can now buy into the best chocolates you could wish for. I, for one am a convert to the raw stuff over most other chocolate bars. And without the un-desirable additions of refined sugar, dairy and soya products found in most roasted chocolate bars, raw chocolate lives up to its healthy and delicious reputation for sure. It really is a luxury to feel good about! It is also one of the highest foods in antioxidents and minerals, so can be seen as a health food! You can read about the health benefits of raw cacao in the ingredients info here.

At the cafe, we make all of our own raw chocolate bars, truffles, blocks and balls. We also only use raw cacao in our chocolate thickshakes and spicy hot chocolate. Both made with our homemade almond milk and sweetened with fruit. In the run up to Easter, we are making heaps of raw chocolates for the cafe, our wholesalers and the 'Really good Health Show' at the Forum on Easter Saturday.

I started making my own raw chocolates years ago, before things like cacao butter and coconut palm sugar were available in the shops. It can be as simple as mixing some cacao powder, coconut oil and honey together and setting in the fridge (resulting in a very morish but soft 'chocolate', or as complicated as tempering your chocolate by hand, measuring temperatures and using high powered equipment. I like to make an easy but high quality chocolate now, using cacao butter as the fat and powdered coconut palm sugar as the sweetener. You can either mix it by hand or use a blender, before pouring the melted chocolate into moulds or adding different flavours. I find this method of making chocolate the easiest for most people who want a real, hard bittersweet chocolate. Here is my recipe for a dark and 'milk' chocolate, with some of my favourite simple flavourings to add to the mix.

Who doesn't love good chocolate?! Happy Easter and enjoy the best chocolate you could possible find, especially made by your own fair hands!

Basic dark chocolate recipe

This is the richest, darkest type of raw chocolate, usually the one of choice for real chocoholics. It uses just three ingredients, and its intense flavour makes it perfect for mixing with nuts and sweeter dried fruits, or for dipping or filling with a sweeter soft filling.

250g cacao butter
100-125 g coconut sugar
140g cacao powder

Firstly, melt the cacao butter by placing it in a glass or metal bowl over a pan of simmering water until it melts. It helps to cut it into small chunks for this. .

Secondly, powder the coconut sugar to a fine powder.You can do this by whizzing it in a dry blender jug or a spice/coffee grinder. If you are using a blender, add the melted cacao butter and blend until smooth, then add the cacao butter and blend until dark and silky smooth. If doing by hand, mix the powdered coconut sugar, melted cacao butter and sieved cacao powder in a bowl until well combined. Split the mixture into smaller bowls if you want to make different flavours, before pouring into moulds to set.

Flavours and textures

Coarsely chopped nuts and dried fruits (raisins, gojis, apricots)

Candied ginger (not raw)

Orange oil and cardamom

Whole brazil/macadamia nuts

Chilli chocolate: add 1 pinch chilli powder to a 1/3 batch of dark choc. Add 1 drop lime essential oil for chilli lime chocolates

Add the extra ingredients into your melted chocolate, stirring well in the jug. Pour out into your moulds, tapping the bottom of the mould to disperse any air. Set in the fridge until set hard and ready to pop out. Store in an airtight container.

Raw ‘milk’ Chocolate 
A creamy, sweeter version of the dark version, which uses cashews in place of milk powder to create a 'milk chocolate' taste. This mild chocolate is likely to appeal to all, especially those keen on the sweeter lighter chocolates.
250g cacao butter
80g coconut sugar
50g cashews
70g cacao powder

Start off by powdering the cashews in a blender until a fine powder. Do the same with the coconut sugar, then combine the cacao butter and powder in the same way as described above. Pour into dry clean moulds ( ice cube trays work well if you don't have chocolate moulds) or split into smaller bowls and mix in flavours as above.

We will selling 'make your own raw chocolate kits' tomorrow at The Really Good health show, so you can try making your own at home, or, if you prefer, you can buy our ready made truffle bags on our stall or in the cafe! 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Go-go Green Juice

As I type, my newborn baby girl sleeps by my side. Our little Fern Aila Sibley arrived into our home two weeks ago today, and my life has been over flowing with love, bliss and devotion for this wee bundle of joy ever since. She arrived very fast which was a huge surprise for me! I always imagined a long labour, so labouring through the night with only mild contractions until dawn, and her arrive in our bathroom at 9am before the midwife arrived was a bit of a shock! Thankfully though, there was no trauma whatsoever and we have been snug in our home ever since. Understandably, my life has changed immensely in these past weeks, and I now spend the majority of my time playing, feeding, watching, changing and simply being with our little girl. I have a new passion for everything babies, birth, pregnancy and natural earth mumma. For all of these reasons, my time put aside to work and write may be limited as I re-establish my new life as a full time mother along side my love of food, writing and creating new recipes. So please bare with me.. I will be full of new and exciting recipes as my time allows! I have decided also, and already created a new space online for sharing my thoughts on parenting, babies and birth, including lots of recipes more specific to my diet as a mother, and later on, feeding a hungry baby its first foods! I will keep this space here for all of my veggie/vegan, gluten and sugar free recipes. Things which you will find in my lovely cafe and wonderfully healthy, detox-y organic seasonal stuff! Lets get back to the recipes now as I give to you my favourite green juice recipe. Please check out my new blog, Earth Belly if you are at all as into the miracle of birth and parenting as I now am, otherwise, read on for plenty more healthy yummy posts!

There are heaps of recipes out here for green juice, so I don't expect much more from writing this today than hopefully inspiring you to reach for your juicer or blender and get juicing! A green juice can be as sweet or as hardcore green as you wish, and contain whatever combination of green leafy veggies and sweet fruits you have to hand. Leafy green veggies are high in chlorophyll, which makes their beautiful green colour. Chlorophyll in our diet is very cleansing for our blood, and especially good for us when we are in need of a cleanse (the beginning if spring is a great time to do this). The molecule structure of chlorophyll is almost exactly the same as the hemoglobin in our blood except for the center atom. In hemoglobin this is iron, whereas in chlorophyll it is magnesium. This means that when ingested, chlorophyll actually helps to do the job of hemoglobin (hemoglobin is so vital to the health of our blood – in fact, blood is approx 75% hemoglobin). Other benefits of chlorophyll include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helping the delivery of magnesium, contains vitamins A, K, calcium, folic acid, iron and protein, helps against blood sugar imbalances, relieves gastric ulcers, improves bowel movements and improves milk production in lactating mothers!

I have been getting back into my green juices after the winter when all I wanted was hot food. I feel a daily green juice has helped rejuvenate and hydrate me after the birth of our baby, and get some much needed iron back into my system. Not only that, they taste amazing! I like to 'juice' in my vitamix (high-speed blender) although if you have a masticating juicer, you can juice almost any leafy greens in that too. I have given instructions on how to use a blender to make juice in the recipe below. The ingredients I have used are purely suggestions only. I generally use what ever is in season or in my fridge at the time and urge you to do the same! Happy juicing!

Go-go Green juice

 Makes 1 large glassful 

2 stalks celery
¼ cucumber
8-10 leaves kale, chard, spinach or a few handfuls of mixed leafy greens
Small bunch of parsley
½ apple, quartered
½ a lemon, outer skin removed

In your blender, put ½ cup of water and the lemon. On top add the celery chopped into sticks, cucumber and carrots, and blend until the consistency of apple sauce. Add the green leaves and parsley, and blend again until all smooth.
Pour the mixture into nut milk bag over a large bowl, and squeeze the bag until all the liquid comes out and the bag is just left with dry pulp. This will be a bit harder than with nut milks as the mixture is thicker, but it’s great fun and gets you literally hands on with your juice! Compost the pulp and pour the juice into a big glass, sit back and enjoy, preferably outside or by a sunny window!

 My Green juice with  the Go-Go! Cucumber, celery, kale, apple and lemon.

My Little girl, born 27/02/13.. Happy bubba and happy mumma! 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Morning Glow Bowl

Breakfast has typically been my favourite meal of the day for as long as I can remember. I am a morning person, and I often spend mornings in my own company. As much as I love lazy family breakfasts of pancakes or whipping up various smoothies for us all in summer, there is something I love about the morning hours when Geoff is in bed and I have time to myself to do yoga, organise my day and spend time creating something simple and nourishing to cure my early hunger. I am wondering if this luxury of a morning to myself may be a thing of the past once the baby arrives very soon! It's now just a day away from my 'due date' so we are literally any day away from greeting our little bundle of joy into the world. Exciting and surreal!  So I am making the most of these peaceful, solitary mornings while I can, before they are shared with the new born. I'm sure spending this time with the little precious will be a million times more special than ever, but for now, I am grateful for this space I have created for myself to set me up for the day ahead, with all its 'to-do-lists' and chores to be done. An hour of 'me' time first thing sets me off to a grounded start, rather than rushing out the door without a proper meal or routine. Lets see how all of this changes as I turn into a mum! I will strive to keep some sort of morning ritual what ever turn it may take!

My morning meals vary alot. I'm not one to eat the same thing for breakfast day in day out. Most people wouldn't eat the same lunch and dinner every day would they? Though breakfast often seems to become a similar affair for most each day. This maybe a comfort and part of a morning routine which makes them feel less stressed about the day ahead, though for me, keeping a sense of variation and excitement to my morning is what drives me. I have often gone to bed thinking about what I am going to make in the morning! However, it's always something simple and quick to prepare, varies with the seasons and always super nutritious. I have always figured, that if you start the day as good as you can, then what ever happens for the rest of the day at least you have had a healthy breakfast. Preparing something for myself means I can pack as much nutrition into it as possible without compromising on others tastes. This said, this 'Morning Glow Bowl' is my partners favourite porridge, and he always asks me to make it for him as his 'just isn't the same'! I agree; this isn't your usual quick bowl of oats. Its inspired by ayurvedic principles, uses wholegrains and natural sweeteners and packs in loads of spices. My morning palette craves flavour and warmth, especially in the winter, and this recipe hits all the right spots.

My Morning Glow Bowl is what I love to eat on cold winter mornings, when I want something sweet, filling and warm. Other days I might choose to eat some eggs with homemade bread, a fruity or super-food smoothie or whip up a batch of pancakes to share. But this is what I eat most often right now. I could easily eat it every day if I varied the base by using different grains, different fruits and seeds and changed the spices. The variations are endless, but the recipe below is my favourite version. Its really just a method for you to follow and add in what ingredients you have to hand, so please be creative and come up with your own Morning Glow Bowl. And why Glow Bowl? This bowl of yum will leave you with a warm, nourished glow from the inside  What ever the weather you will be sure to start your day with a glow which will brighten your day and make you feel amazing. I'd love to hear what variations you come up with and how you like to spend your morning time!

Morning Glow Bowl
Serves 1

1/2c whole oat groats, ground in a high speed blender, or whole rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 tsp coconut oil or ghee
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
4 soaked dates (plus 1/2c soak water)
1 small handful raisins/chopped figs/chopped apricots
1/2c hot water
Honey and ghee to serve (optional)
Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, bee pollen to serve (or what ever seeds and berries you have)

Gently heat the coconut oil or ghee in a small saucepan until melted then add the oats, coconut and spices. Gentle heat until the oats are slightly 'toasted'. This will add a depth of flavour to your porridge and make the grains easier to digest. Once they smell toasted, add the date water, water and half the almond milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle simmer, and add the dates and dried fruits, adding more almond milk as needed to make the right consistency  I like my porridge quite thin, though you might like it thicker, so add enough to taste. 'Mash' the soft dates into the porridge until they are well mixed in, then remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. To serve, top with a teaspoon of honey if you like it sweet (the dates make it sweet too so not essential) and a teaspoon of ghee for extra flavour and indulgence.  Sprinkle with super seeds; my favourite is hemp seeds, goji berries for colour and bee pollen for extra nutrient power. Sit in a beautiful spot and enjoy the morning still before embarking into the day. Feel the glow spread throughout your body, and know you have started the day with a power-packed indulgent breakfast!

Morning Glow Bowl topped with Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, bee pollen, homemade ghee and local honey.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Pregnancy third trimester and Mummas little helpers!

Every one tells you, it flies by so fast that before you can say 'nausea, boobs and bump' you find yourself nearing the day your wee earthling finally comes to meet you face to face! How true that is! It only seems like yesterday I was writing my post on pregnancy foods during my first trimester during the summer. Now I am 39 weeks which means our babe could arrive anytime.. Eeeep!

So I thought it's about time I wrote a follow up to my earlier post and updated what I have been eating during the middle and end of my wonderful pregnancy. Yes, I have loved it and am one of the lucky ones who seem to be blessed with a fairly trouble free pregnancy. Ok, I've had pretty much all of the typical symptoms; nausea, irritable bowel, puffy ankles, aches and pains and restless nights, but I've managed to cope with them all and see them as 'baby making it's nest' pains rather than negative problems. I'm able to cope with when I see them easier when I see them in a positive light, as well as eating the right foods, rest, exercise and massage to nurture this body which is nourishing our little one!

Tonight I am experimenting with 'Lactation bars', as they are affectionately known on most resources I've found, or as I like to call them my 'mummas little helpers'. They are basically delicious superfood bars that can be enjoyed by everyone, not just milky-making mums! They contain lots of ingredients known to increase the production of breast milk, so when nursing a new born, when energy is perhaps lacking and milk flow needs to be encouraged, these are your ultimate comfort food! I have tested these out on my partner and friends, and everyone loves them , so don't be put off if you are not in the breast feeding world. I actually want to make lots of different versions of these, and will make them a regular snack in our house. I researched the ingredients thought to increase milk supply and came up with these oaty crunchy slices using all lactation-productive foods. Everything in these tasty little slices is not only likely to boost your milk, but is also really high in iron and good fats, essential things to get in after birthing a baby and recovery post partum. Although I am a few weeks away from reporting the results, I am enjoying eating these everyday knowing that I am filling my body and baby with amazing foods! I shall of course let you know if I think they do the trick.

Ingredients that are thought to increase milk production:
Oats ~ Rich in nutrients and nourishing to the nervous system. Oat s have long been recommended for lactating women, though I think the main reason that they are great for breast feeding, are that oats are the ultimate comfort food. A bowl of oatmeal helps us to relax, is warm and satisfying and thus helps us relax into the joy of nourishing our babies. Oats are well used in herbal medicine as a nervine tonic, and could help with any post natal depression.
Flax/chia seeds ~Are both high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids which are important for cardiovascular health, brain development and skin health. Eating enough Omega 3 during pregnancy is important for fetal development, brain and eye health, so keeping the dosage up during breast feeding will mean that your baby keeps getting enough of these good fats. As breast milk is made up of fats, getting enough yourself will mean that you wont deplete yourself. Chia seeds are especially hydrating and high in protein. You can read more about them here.
Coconut~ Whether fresh, dried. the water or in oil form, coconut products are amazing for lactating mothers, as coconut contains lauric acid which is an important component in breast milk. This fatty acid has antibacterial properties, which could help boost the immune system of the newborn. Have you ever noticed how a coconut resembles a breast?! Its shape, holes and leaking milk from inside if you are to pierce one is totally imitating a human breast. I love the idea that foods which resemble parts of our body are good for that part, and coconuts and their milk has to be the most obvious one! I feel that coconuts are natures gift to nursing mums, and all of their properties are amazing for us whilst beginning to breast feed. I am planning on drinking lots of coconut water whilst in labour, as it is so hydrating, sweet and easy to stomach. Coconut water is also amazing for weaning older infants, as its taste is very similar to mothers milk.
Fenegreek~Has been used for centuries as a herb to increase breast milk supply. They are excellent for digestive disorders and contain lots of minerals. Be warned however, eating lots of fenegreek will make you smell like an Indian takeaway! You will almost certainly wear a curry aroma if you eat alot of it, as I found out when I started sprouting fenegreek seeds and consuming them daily! Maybe not a great thing unless you really need it.
Molasses~ Anemia can contribute to low milk supply and is common in new mums after losing blood during birth. Enzymes needed for energy production and metabolism are dependent on iron. Blackstrap molasses is iron rich, and a traditional remedy for low milk supply. It also tastes great, and can be used to sweeten oatmeal porridge, used in cakes or eaten straight. 
Buckwheat: Contains rutin which helps decrease blood pressure, helping us stay relaxed.

Mummas Little helpers
Makes about 20 bars
1c oats (traditional rolled oats)
1c cashews
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp fenegreek powder (optional)

In a high speed blender or food processor, grind the cashews as finely as possible. Pour into a bowl, then do the same with the oats, forming a fine flour. Combine in the bowl with the chia seeds, coconut oil, molasses and fenegreek and form into a dough using your hands. Press the dough into a baking tin lined with cling film, and set in the fridge while you make the topping.

1/2c coconut oil, melted
1/3c honey, slightly warmed
1/2 c buckwheaties (sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat)
1/2 c goji berries
1/2 c hemp seeds
1/4 cacao nibs

In a bowl, combine the coconut oil and honey until you have a paste. add all the dry ingredients until you have a chunky mixture, then spread ontop of the base. leave to set in the fridge before cutting into slices. Will keep in the fridge for many weeks and can also be frozen.

If you dont have any buckwheaties on hand, you could use puffed rice or chopped nuts such as almonds or brazils.
You could substitute the goji berries for any dried fruit chopped small.
For an even more decadent treat, you could drizzle some dark chocolate ontop of these bars! New mums especially need all the energy they can get!

Crunchy, oaty, super slices full of good fats and lactogenic herbs! Not just for the mums out there.. everyone loves these!