The Healthy Nut Bar

Ah, coconut bliss. It’s morning tea time and all you really want is a little pick me up and a smoothie that will leave you feeling refreshed and healthy all at the same time. You reach for the little health snack you bought at the health food shop.  You know it’s health because it’s organic, gluten free, and high in protein. It’s not too big, not as filling, but it will do, cause you know it’s healthy. You couldn’t have this every day though, because the price tag per square will see you paying upwards of $3-$4, which will pretty much send you into poordum by weeks end. So what do you do? Well, make it yourself really. Stop denying the hippy in you, it’s need to make everything at home and just get on with it. Yes, it may be a disaster the first 5 times but you can be comforted in knowing the it cost less than buying 7 of those bars. So you give it one last go, because well, you are deep in now and there is no turning back, and you nail it!

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As you take your first bite, you taste every single flavor, and your taste buds are not confused, but excited about the next mouthful. Chewy with a hit of crunchiness it fills you bite after bite after bite.  You chase it with a warm cup of tea, at which point you are content. You could have another, and not feel guilty for it.

 

Be sure to use your bulk bins as much as possible as this will save you a lot more money than buy individual pre packed. With bulk bins you buy only what you need with smaller chance of wastage.

What you will need:

1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

1/2 cup of walnuts

1 cup Brazilian nuts

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup desiccated coconut

10 dried figs

2 table spoons olive oil

2 table spoon maple syrup

1 table spoons blackstap molasses

 

Preparation:

1. set your oven to 400 F

2. place nuts in a food processor, blender or hand blender cup and blend  into a meal. Don’t make it prefect, some chopped chunks are good!

3. Empty into a bowl, add desiccated coconut, and mix well

4. cut figs into thin or thick slices, mix well

5. add wet ingredients and mix well

6. spread into a square baking pan, to desired thickness. Do not use baking sheet. the heat from the pans metal on the bottom will help toast from underneath.

7. Place in oven for 7 mins – 10min do not turn on candy crush or your food will burn. Stay close by

8. Remove pan from oven. Let Stand for 1 -2 mins.  Using a sharp knife, cut columns and rows tables into your bake. Do not remove. Leave to completely cool.

9. No go over your lines again and separate individual squares. Store in container in fridge for extra firmness and enjoy daily

 

 

 

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Pumpkin & Pistachio Risotto

Well, that’s different, but a gal’s got to eat. It looked totally amazing on the plate. Creamy and garnished, it looks ready to eat.  Fluffing a portion of round white rice with spots of purple green, you wonder if this idea, which perhaps was fulfilled in hast might have been a not so good idea. After all who cooks pistachios with rice. Ice cream, yes! Salted, yes. You had to take it a little further. As you stem through your other dinner options, the folk hits your mouth, and there it is. the subtleness of the truffle oil hits you first, musky and strong, but not over powering. As you continue to chew, the creaminess of the pistachio wakes your pallet. Yum. The sweetness of the butternut resets your tastebuds to begin the experience all over again!

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With a change in my diet, as a non lactose vegetarian, with food intolerances I had to find ways to increase my protein, calcium and other nutrients while still enjoying food, because well I love food. This risotto gave me the whole food experience without the addition of the processed substitutions.  It really was bliss.

 

Butternut is rich in beta carotene which converts to vitamin A to help you keep your immune system healthy and strong. With cold season on its way, getting as much high carotene foods in will help you fight illnesses better and recover alot faster.

The pistachios. Well, who knew these tiny purple and green nuts had this  much power! Another food not given enough credit. IT is from the cashew family, but it is able to provide so much more. Packed with protein, lutein, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc,  Studies have also shown that they help to lower LDL so if you have a cholesterol risk, start eating. You will be putting these where ever you can!

Finally Thyme,  wonderful for the upper respiratory system, especially with coughs and infected tonsil. So when paired with the richness of butternut and superfood of pistachio. You should be feeling a mountain of health in no time.

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

half butternut pumpkin

3/4  risotto rice

1/2 red onion

1 cup shelled pistachio unsalted

2 cups vegetarian stock

3 cups filtered water

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon black truffle oil

stick of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

watercress for garnish or more for nutritional benefits

 

 

Prep:

peel and chop butternut pumpkin in to nice small squares or just small abstract pieces. The smaller pieces allow for quicker cooking time.  Next chop onions and place in frying pan with pumpkin. Remember frying pan not pot. Add olive and turn stove to low heat. Cook pumpkin and onions for 7mins to 10mins.

Next rinse rice till water is clear. Drain and add to pumpkin and onions. Add thyme. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes, to prevent stick and burning. Add stock and 1 cup of water. leave to simmer. Stir occasionally, remember you are cooking in a frying pan so water will evaporate faster. Add 2 cups of water to pan once water evaporates and leave to simmer. Stir ever 5 minutes until rice is soft.

Put pistachio in food processor with last 1 cup of water and blend smoother with small chunks. Stir through rich and leave to cook for 2 minutes. Stir through 1/2 teaspoon of black truffle oil. Add salt to taste. Garnish and enjoy!

 

Quinoa waffles – Coconut island banana nut bliss! wiggle wiggle wiggle

Starts like any other day. It’s waffle/ pancake day. He looks forward to Sunday mornings. As the sun shows it’s face and the light passes through the turquoise shades of the bedroom window, you feel his excitement build, as he tries patiently to wait for the rest of the house to wake. Tossing and turning he can no longer resist the urge to poke at me and his brother. A hand gently reaches over followed by a head peeking over the other side, “mama, are you awake?” he says loudly in his whispering voice.  I sense the hope in his voice that I will answer, which will lead to a domino effect of a 13month old summersaulting  over my body to find the voice that woke his slumber. I try to be still, in the hope that he will wait just a little longer, but my efforts are meaningless  and up pops beaver with a light in his eyes as he scans for his companion and best friend. Everyone is awake, it’s breakfast time ! As we make our way to the kitchen, a memory floods over me.  ‘ These waffles are going to take gluten free to another level.”

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It hits the pallet with the hint of coconut, just beneath the aroma of cinnamon. The texture is moist and smooth.  As you chew, the sharpness of the sunflower butter takes you to an exotic island, there you sit eating coconuts, bananas, & nuts. It’s a banana nut bliss. Full of richness and nutrients, every bit makes you feel nourished. and guilt free.

Stuff you need: makes – 6 waffles

quinoa – 1/2 cup : Well, what can I say but it has it’s own recognised day! Thats right this super food is pretty awesome and great to have when your diet has been cut down to a teeny tiny list laking in essential nutrients required to sustain you. It is abundant in protein, calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, zinc & potassium. It really is super

brown rice  –  1/2 cup : really really really rich in niacin! Yes something we all need to help us avoid hight cholesterol. It also helps in healing impaired digestion. It doesn’t stop there though, it has been shown to successfully treat acne as well as prevent extremely painful migraines. The winner in my book is the use of treatment in depression and impaired memory. With winter knocking at the door, this will be my go to vitamin to keep the winter blues away. So when in doubt this winter, eat brown rice

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virgin coconut oil – 1 table spoon: Thanks to the medium chain fatty acids, you won’t need bile to digest this fat. This is great news for those with fatty livers as it is absorbs through the gut. It also helps with protein metabolism, and we all know how we need our protein. So don’t over do it, but don’t fear it either.

olive oil –  50ml

egg –  2 egg whites & 1 yoke

baking powder – 1 teaspoon

rice milk (homemade) – 200ml

cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

banana – 1 medium (whole): potassium, potassium, potassium

sunflower seed butter –  2 table spoons:  Another seed on  my superfood list. If it’s not on yours, it should because it has everything! High in protein, niacin, rich in folate and calcium why would I eat anything else. It’s got an abundance of iron and a fair amount of potassium. Eating this will make your vegan intolerance free diet a breeze and delight.

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Prep:

First turn on your waffle iron.

Once you have done that, seriously mix together your flours and dry ingredients, oils, eggs, and rice milk. Do not put in the banana or sunflower butter. Be warned the coconut oil might have bits that are undissolved. Don’t worry about it, just mix it as well as you can and the heat from the waffle iron will do the rest. Place 4-5 tablespoons of mix on each side of the waffle iron plate. Close iron on mix and let cook. remove when lightly brown or to your crunch!

To serve: Place waffle on the place, top with at least 1 tablespoon of sunflower seed butter and spread over waffle. Top with banana and enjoy!  For added sweetness, dress with maple or agave syrup.

 

This weeks hairstyle – mini clusters

Save yourself from single strand knots, dry hair and tangles this week, whiles looking pretty awesome. With my hair shoulder length now, things are starting to get a bit challenging. This is my take a break hair, and it’s protective too. So whether your hair is straight, wavy, curly or just plan mine, you can rock this look.

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My food intolerances & allergies – the 4 week elimination diet

So though I have been on a health quest all my life due to wheat and intolerances, it never accrued to me that I might still be eating the wrong things. I decided it was time to have a visit with my naturopath as I still had some allergy symptoms but was still eating healthy. We sent my blood work to the lab to check for IgA, B, antigens to foods and the results were shocking! So for the next 4 weeks I will be on a elimination diet until my next visit with my doctor. I am optimistic that this will only make me better and even more healthier so I welcome the challenge. To follow my progress make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel. I will upload daily progress vblogs  http://www.youtube.com/user/Naturallyzoefriendly

Here are a list of foods I can not eat for the next 4 weeks:

dairy ,
coffee,
blueberries ,
cranberries,
honey,
sugar,
baker’s yeast,
brewer’s yeast,
fish ,
almonds,
amaranth,
kidney beans,
lima beans,
soy,
string beans,
buckwheat,
corn,
wheat,
gluten,
hazelnut,
lentil,
oat,
green peas,
pecan,
rye,
sesame seeds,
spelt,

Blueberries & Buckwheat squares oh yay – Our visit to Blue Dot Farm

Our visit to blue dot farm wonderful. The hour drive out of the city was wonderful and pleasant, nothing short of amazing. Watching the wonderful green lush of evergreens line the edge of the roads, I began to appreciate all that nature offers.

As we approached the farm just off the main road, I began to feel my excitement build. My heart began to palpate and I felt as though I could not breathe. I could feel every beat as my heart pumped with glee.  We were about to harvest our own food.

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A two story home sat at the edge of the field, silent and still. It was early and there was little movement. Surrounded by trees and bush, it was a sight of tranquility. As we walked towards the building, I felt my mind confirm. “this is right, this is what we are suppose to do”. Build a relationship with our farmers. Like us they are people and not just a farm, but people that put their passion into providing us with nourishing food. To repay them and say thank you it made sense to physically say thank you and help harvest and show our appreciation for all the work they had done.

The bushes were new, young and organic. None more than two years old. They were beautiful. Filled with clusters of fresh, deep blue berries that were firm to touch and sweet to taste. Time past and buckets filled. We roamed the lanes in search of more berries and more peace. It was therapy. I began to sense a deep calm as I stood among the trees, observing the enjoyment among all those involved. The children laughed and ran with joy, picking and packing. They understood, a deep appreciation was being set in them.

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The summer has been brilliant. I can not find any fault with the wonderful warmth we were lucky to have this year.  Appreciating every ounce of D providing rays even on the hottest of days. As the summer comes to a close, I eye the many punnetts  of blueberries upon the shelf, knowing that not long from now, they will be a distant memory until the summer returns once again. I remember our farm host that allow us to be a part of their process. I remember the faces behind the boxes of clear plastics sealed with rubber bands. I remember were they began and how far they traveled.

We love making these delicious squares. I love that it is dairy free, margarine free, and low in sugar. They are easy to make anyone can do it. They make great snacks for school lunch boxes and morning and afternoon teas. Once made they can be frozen and eaten over a few weeks. They are awesome.

Buckwheat &  Blueberry Squares

What you will need:

1 cup of fresh organic blueberries

1 !/2 cup organic buckwheat flour

2 eggs

6 tablespoons of olive oil

1 level teaspoon aluminium – free baking powder

4 tablespoons of maple syrup

1/2 cup almond/soy/rice milk ( your choice)

2 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses

Preperation:

Mix  olive oil, maple, molasses, eggs, and baking powder together until mixture looks creamed. Next add buckwheat flour and non dairy milk and mix well. Finally add blueberries and mix through.

Set oven to 400 F. Oil pan and place mix in pan. Place in oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until ready. Let stand to cool. Serve.

This weeks lunch idea – Spicy shitake noodle soup

Cold days, rainy ways. What better way to fill your belly aches. Simple and fast you won’t believe your eyes, but it really is that quick to make. Onions and mushrooms in a pot, a spoon of olive oil, if that’s all you’ve got.  A taste of chilli to warm your belly. Miso and water this soup will not be airy! Throw in your choy and soy and boy what have you got? A simple soup that fills with delight! noodles

You will need:

1/2  red onion

1  cup shitake mushrooms

2  heads of choy

1 table spoon olive oil

1 teaspoon of brown rice miso paste

1 teaspoon of chili oil or 1/2 teaspoon fresh chilies

3 cups of water

2 table spoon of soy sauce

120g tofu (optional)

Preparation:

Place oil in a pot with onion and  choped fresh shitake mushrooms. Stir on low heat until mushrooms start to soften.  Next add chili oil and miso paste.  Stir for 2 minutes. Once done add choy, and tofu.  Stir for an additional 2-5 mins. Add water and soy sauce, let soup boil for an additional five minutes and voila! Serve on noodles of your pick and garnish with spring onions (shallots) .

Enjoy

 

Organic solution

It arrived. The rubber tubs grey and low, easy to hold. Two of them, filled with fresh, vegetables the shine as bright as the rainbow.  Smiling I remember how much I look forward to my weekly deliveries knowing that I no longer have the worry of wondering. Wondering if my organic is safe to eat. Wondering where it came from and what it contains.

It wasn’t long ago that I had the worlds biggest rant after finding out that the USDA had approved a list of pesticides deemed safe for organic farming. Yes, that pretty much did it for me. I spoke to a few of  local grocers and Trader Joes, who could not guarantee all their foods were grown without the use of any  pesticide nor could they guarantee my food GMO free. “But ” you say ” Organic is  GMO free ” . That’s right, but there is a catch. While the seeds planted is non GMO, Some major organic growers cannot vouch for the complete absence of GMO contamination due to some wind draft etc.  It was time to wake up and find local growers that were still true to the organic growing practices  craved so much.

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The Coop

I have used food coops for the past 7yrs, as a means of getting discounts on my organic bulk foods mainly, and due to their sustainable practices. I would say over the last 2 years, I have not been as committed to them as my main source of food as I got lazy and time got the better of me. While I still purchased organic foods, I found going to my nearest grocer more sustainable and convenient .

Food Cooperatives are what you would refer to as consumers cooperatives. What that means is that it is owned by the consumers and managed in a democratic manner, by meeting and fulfilling the needs of all it’s members.  As a member of a food cooperative, you are a shareholder in the organisation and the best part, your opinions and concerns count. All food coops follow Rochdales’ Principals: Voluntary and open memberships, anti discrimination, motivation and rewards, autonomy and independence, democratic member control, concern for the community, provide information eduction and training, and finally cooperation of cooperatives with themselves.

With these values, it makes things a little easier knowing that when you pick something off the shelf or purchase fresh foods  that each item has been scrutinized and chosen with all your concerns in mind.  (see link to all food cooperatives inside and outside the USA  at end of this article)

The organic box deliveries

Local deliveries of organic produce to your door direct from local organic farmers. Now they are fantastic, they usually only supply fresh local grown but will also seek foods from other states when needed. Unlike the cooperatives, non perishable goods are rarely available, but this too can vary from country to country, so it is best to check with them. Making a decision on who to choose can be very tricky. Not all organic box suppliers follow the same policies as food coops, but many come close.  The idea is that they develop a first hand relationship with local farmers and provide on seasonal foods as they are available, whiles keeping the prices low. Some have boxes to choose from, whiles others allow individual purchases. Substitutions are allowed making life a little easier if you are not the eggplant type and would prefer more carrots in your box. Either way, it is a cheaper, easier and trustworthy alternative to the shopping cart or pick your own.

When choosing which company to go with, a good start is a phone call. Asking questions with your concerns. You can also have a look at their sites which often list their farmers whom you can call directly and speak with. This creates a direct relationship between you and your local farmers. A wonderful way to build trust.

With no contracts, you can book yourself your first box which can be delivered directly to your door or at a drop spot near you.

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Eating partially organic  

So being realistic, not everyone can do the coop or a box delivery after all or at least for now. Getting to your weekly farmers market or using a CSA  is also an alternative. You still get to know your farmers, you know what you are getting, you buy from who you feel most comfortable with and those closest to your way of thinking.

Aiming GMO free – look for the orange butterly.

I’ll make this quick. Trying to stay GMO free is harder than one might think, even with labeling. At current the main GMO plant products are wheat, sougham, corn, soybean, cottonseed and canola.  The only way to stay 100% free of GMO foods is to never eat out in your life again. A little dramatic I know.

If you are lucky enough to live outside of the United States where most foods containing GMO ingredients are labelled, than you need not worry about this, however, for those of us that call the US our home, there are options. Get to know the NON GMO project. Look for the orange butterfly. Yes, this non profit is your go to for all brands verified GMO free or in the process of verification. This way you can guarantee that you are getting clean food. Most brands do not use their labels on the shelf at your local supermarket so utilizing this site is a good way to reach for your brand that is safe of GMO products guarantee.  (see link to NON GMO project at end of this article)

As I unpack my boxes of lush greens and vibrant fruit, I feel a sense of ownership in my informed decision to keep free and clean.  Knowing that in the next 5 years things may change yet again and I will be forced to re evaluate and make new decisions on what we eat, but until than shareholding is for me.

 

Links

Food Co op Directory (world wide) – http://www.coopdirectory.org/directory.htm

NON GMO project – http://www.nongmoproject.org/

National Cooperative Grocer Association -https://www.ncga.coop/