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Showing posts from 2017

Chinese Red Date (aka Jujube) and Walnut Raw 'Cheese'cake

My time is precious. It is limited. The demand for it well exceeds its potential supply. If only someone would bestow me a Time-Turner a la Hermione in Harry Potter, then I could achieve so much more...


My mum has been feeding me Chinese red dates since forever - in soups, infusions, desserts - it is an essential Chinese 'superfood' (indeed pre-dating the term 'superfood' itself) with purported anti-inflammatory and calming properties. Recently she brought me some delicious snacks from Hong Kong - simply individually wrapped pitted Chinese red dates (aka Jujube) encasing a single walnut - so simple and such a perfect combo that I was inspired to make a dessert based on it.



Chinese Red Date (aka Jujube) and Walnut Raw 'Cheese'cake
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Makes a small 12cm diameter cake


Ingredients:
Base:
1/2 cup (65g) raw unsalted walnuts
1/2 cup (65g) soft, pitted, medjool dates
pinch sea salt
splash of water if needed

Top:
1/2 cu…

One Pan Meatloaf Stuffed Roast Squash with Asparagus

This recipe recycles leftover meatloaf, into a low maintenance, minimal effort second supper.


Meatloaf is a very lazy dinner menu option - literally mix 500g of minced pork (or chicken or turkey or a mix) with a few tablespoons of spices of choice (my favourites include 1tbsp cumin and 1tbsp ground coriander, but Chinese 5 spice, oregano, basil, etc all work well), a tsp of garlic powder and onion powder, an egg to bind and a tbsp of coconut flour to add firmness and plenty of salt and pepper.  Press firmly and neatly into a loaf tin and bake at 175 degrees celsius for about 45mins-1hr or until cooked through.  Delicious add-ins to the meatloaf mix are: - cooked spinach (make sure to squeeze out all the liquid before adding to the meatloaf mix) - pan fried chopped mushrooms (again, cook until liquid evaporated) - grated squash or carrots (squeeze out liquid) - coconut aminos and thai fish sauce with a handful of chopped bamboo shoots and water chestnuts (reduce salt accordingly)
I ha…

Spiced Pumpkin 'Panecotta' Pie Pud

I'm not American and I've only eaten Pumpkin Pie once - when I was very kindly but rather randomly invited to a Thanksgiving dinner on my first night in Japan, surrounded by a bunch of complete strangers. As a result, I'm not convinced it is a dessert that invokes a particular warm and fuzzy sentimentality. That said, I am an unapologetic fan of pumpkin and all the warm spices that accompany it in its seasonal pie incarnation.


This version is a hybrid of Crustless Pumpkin Pie meets Panecotta - slightly less custard-y and more of the wobble of a panecotta.


Spiced Pumpkin 'Panecotta' Pud
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free

Makes a 15cm/ 6" pud


Ingredients:
225g (just over half can) unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
1 large ripe banana
1 small soft date, pitted
100ml coconut milk, cold
100ml coconut milk, heated to very warm but not boiling
1 1/2 tbsp gelatin (I use this Great lakes one but have no affi…

Thai Beef Salad

Slow roasting/ cooking any joint of meat is so time and energy consuming that it seems churlish not to cook plenty in one go to lower the cost per portion! This is what happened when I roasted a rather enormous joint of beef and the children declared with such exasperation, "Not beef again" that I knew it'd take a bit more pizazz to make this theoretically economical way of cooking actually work in practise!


This recipe works just as well for other leftover meats - I have done it with leftover turkey...


and baked salmon...
 and it tastes great regardless.


Thai Beef Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Serves 2

Ingredients:
Salad:
approx 2 handfuls (1.5 - 2 cups) shredded or chopped cold roast beef (or substitute other cooked meat or a handful of roasted cashews for a meat-free alternative)
1/4 head of red cabbage (approx 3 cups) shredded (or use a mix of red and white cabbage)
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
3 radishes, finely sliced
1 carrot p…

Avocado Tuna with Ginger Lime 'Couscous' Salad

I love a good salad for lunch - mostly because I am lazy and salads are quick to make and require minimal washing up! This one is hugely versatile, super delicious and most importantly, super quick to whip up.

Matcha Moringa Roll with Carob Coconut Filling

Yes, the title is an alliterative mouthful but that's how I like to roll - ha ha - get it? I made this absolutely aeons ago but didn't get round to writing it up and somehow just forgot about it. 

It is super dense in texture (so don't expect a fluffy swiss roll feeling) and also rather fiddly to make but is really fun and definitely very healthy, being packed with all the green stuff - kale, spinach, matcha, moringa. Mostly I just make and eat the 'cake' bit - real life means patience and time don't often allow for the rolling and faffing!


Matcha Moringa Roll with Carob Coconut Filling
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Makes 8 pieces
Ingredients:

Cake:
45g kale leaves, washed and dried
60g spinach, washed and dried
2 medium, ripe spotty bananas (weighing 170g when peeled)
1/2 cup + 1 tsp (75g) coconut flour, sifted
1 tbsp (5g) moringa leaf powder
1 tbsp (5g) matcha green tea powder
4 medium eggs
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla ext…

Broccolini, Squash and Edamame Miso Salad

Broccolini is commonly known as Tenderstem Broccoli; a hybrid between regular broccoli and its more exotic cousin, kai-lan (aka Chinese broccoli). It is milder and sweeter than run-of-the-mill broccoli and is a good source of vitamin C.


As the stalks are so much thinner and the florets smaller and more delicate it is also quicker to cook - a brief steam or even blanch is adequate.

Roasting the squash brings out the natural sweetness of this antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory root vegetable. The roasting oil also aids the absorption of fat-soluble vitamin A.

It is no secret that the consumption of edamame beans and miso is not paleo - the argument against soy and its potentially distruptive effects on hormone balance abound on the internet, so I will spare the repetition. From personal experience I tolerate soy and choose to include it in moderation but understandably this will vary between individuals.

Edamame beans are a good source of plant protein, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins C …

Raw Nut-Free Naked Brownie Bars

These are just simple snack bars that everyone in the family can grab and take to work/ play/ school. They take a few minutes to whizz up in the food processor and contain a LOT less sugar (unrefined of course) than the store-bought equivalent and also work out a lot cheaper. I wrap them individually and store in a sealed container in the fridge



Raw Nut-Free Naked Brownie Bars 
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free

Makes 9

Ingredients:
1 cup (150g) raw unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup (100g) milled flax/chia seed blend
1 cup (150g) soft,unsweetened pitted dates (pre-soak briefly if hard and drain)
1/4 cup (50g) unsweetened raisins (soaked briefly and drained)
big pinch sea salt
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil
a few tbsp hot water as needed
optional stir-through add-ins: if not nut-intolerant 1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds; cacao nibs; goji berries, chocolate chips

* Alternatives:
- add 1 tsp mint extract instead of vanilla and …

Chicory (aka Endive) Pomegranate Avocado Salad

Chicory is a great salad ingredient full of character - firm in texture, retains its crunch well, slightly bitter. Apparently this common type is specifically 'Witlook' Chicory, or Belgian Endive. I've found it to be a very useful receptacle for dips of all sorts too!



Chicory (aka Endive) Pomegranate Avocado Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free
Serves 2


Ingredients:
1 head of chicory, trimmed and leaves separated
100g baby spinach and rocket
1/2 medium, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped or sliced
4-5 radishes, trimmed and finely sliced
50g (1/4 cup) unsalted walnuts, toasted or untoasted as preferred
approx 50g (1/4 large pomegranate) pomegranate arils

Dressing:
4 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp zaatar
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Add all dressing ingredients to a clean glass jar. Secure with lid and shake to combine. Or whisk in a bowl. Set aside.
2. A…

Raw Apple Pie Energy Bars

Super simple. Universally loved by old and young - these never last long around our house!

Cherry Cucumber and Celery Salad

Cherries are one of my favourite fruit. Ironically and somewhat sadly, the cherry tree in our garden has just been diagnosed terminal by a tree surgeon. But to be honest, despite the prettiness of the pink blossom, in all the years it didn't once bear any fruit. These cherries are clearly not from our tree!


Serve this alongside roast duck, in a big colourful platter for a barbecue accompaniment, or just with a sprinkle of toasted nuts for a simple lunch.


Cherry Cucumber and Celery Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side


Ingredients:
1/3 medium (100g) cucumber
1 stick celery, chopped
100g cherries, pitted and halved
small bunch (16g) coriander, roughly chopped
handful of rocket/ watercress leaves
1/2 tbps rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
big pinch sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Instructions:
1. Slice cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out watery seeds, before slicing into half moons.
2. T…

Cashew Chicken Stir-fry 腰果雞

Cashew nuts are contentious in our household - they elicit strong and conflicting feelings. Basically, my daughter is allergic to them and the rest of us LOVE them. Cashew Chicken 腰果雞 was one of my mum's standard dishes when we were children and I love it as much now as I did then. What better time to post this recipe than when I am about to get a taste of the real deal when I see my mum this week!

Like most stir-fries this is a very quick meal to throw together once all the chicken and veg have been prepped. Feel free to use coconut aminos instead of tamari if not soy-tolerant but do adjust for taste as tamari is saltier.

Anyhow, allergies schmallergies - it doesn't pose a problem: I just dole out a portion just prior to adding the nuts at the end. Problem solved.


Cashew Chicken Stir-fry 腰果雞
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free
Serves 3-4


Ingredients:
1 tbsp coconut oil
400g skinless, boneless chicken (breast or thigh) cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small…

Happiness Project Four Tendencies, Bullet Journals and Children

A few posts back I reviewed my experiences with Bullet Journalling and how it has changed my life, organisationally speaking. You can read it here. On embarking on my second journal I approached it with less no-frills function as I had when just starting out, and with a little more flair and personality, now that I know what does and doesn't work for me personally. Check out my lovely Year At a Glance page which includes all the school holidays, birthday and bank holidays neatly colour coded for ease of organisation, ahem, 'at a glance'.



I am without a doubt an 'Upholder' personality, according to The Four Tendencies devised by Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Happiness Project. I can't recommend this highly enough if you haven't read it - in a nutshell all people fall into one of the Four Tendency categories:
 Upholder (adhere rigidly to inner and outer expecations); Obliger (adhere to outer expectation but not inner expectations); Rebel (resists all expecta…

Fennel Strawberry and Mint Summer Salad (with optional Smoked Mackerel)

Strawberry season is well and truly in full flow. Supplies are having their annual uptick, heralding the imminence of Wimbledon amongst other British seasonal landmarks. Prices plummet while the quality rockets - the basic price mechanism from school level Economics kicks in in earnest. Plus, the best thing is strawberries grow within our local area so even carbon footprint guilt is entirely eradicated. What's not to love?

The sweetness pairs naturally with fresh mint, again abundant in the garden at this time of year. And my love for the more complex aniseed flavour and crunch of fennel carries on. I've used red butterhead lettuce mostly because I had it in the fridge but any delicate flavoured lettuce with a soft texture eg lambs lettuce, will also work.

Pair this with flakes of salty smoked mackerel for a rounded lunch in the sun or serve as a side salad for a summer barbecue.




Fennel Strawberry and Mint Summer Salad (with optional Smoked Mackerel)
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Da…

Chilled Spinach and Avocado Summer Soup

The day before was declared the hottest day of the year. Then yesterday was declared the new hottest day of the year. And now today is anticipated to supercede the temperature of yesterday. Phew! Nothing for it but a chilled soup that requires no cooking.


Chilled Spinach and Avocado Summer Soup
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 1 (or 2 as a starter)


Ingredients:
Baby spinach, 1 large handful (50g), washed and dried
Basil leaves, small bunch
Mint leaves, approx 15 leaves
Celery, 2 small sticks
Courgette, 3" piece (60g)
1/2 small ripe avocado (40g), peeled and pitted
1" piece lemongrass, bruised
1/2" piece ginger, peeled
1/4 lime, peeled
big pinch chilli flakes
2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 - 3/4 cup water or cold stock/ broth, depending on desired consistency

Optional garnish: chilli flakes, pomegranate arils, mint/ basil leaves, furikake (sesame seed and seaweed sprinkle), sesame oil

Opt…

Easy Chocolate Mini Baked Doughnuts (or is it Donuts?)

Does anyone, except a former English Literature and Linguistics student, care about the nuances between doughnut versus donut? Thought not!


These little one-bite mini versions are simple but chocolatey. Feel free to glaze with a simple coconut oil + high cocoa content chocolate concoction if in the mood for something more decadent. Sprinkles also always an option.


Easy Chocolate Mini Baked Doughnuts
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free

Makes approx 25 mini


Ingredients:
1/4 cup (35g) sifted coconut flour
1/4 cup (25-30g) unsweetened cocoa powder, or cacao
1/2 tsp baking powder
big pinch sea salt
3 tbsp (50g) coconut oil, melted
4 medium eggs
2 tbsp unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/2 ripe medium banana
optional 1-2 tbsp honey, agave or maple syrup

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celsius, 350 degrees farenheit.
2. Lightly grease a mini doughnut tin with coconut oil (or use silicone doughnut pan).
3. Combine coconut floour, cocoa (or cacao) powder, bakin…

Instant Pot Mexican Mince

Every day when my daughter comes home from school she regales me with details of her school lunch that day down to the exact flavour of yogurt. One of her favourites is 'Mexican Mince' (the fact it is accompanied by a pile of nachos in high probability contributes to this enthusiasm!).


Raw Brownie Bliss Balls (Nut-free, Dried Fruit-free!)

Has it escaped anyone's notice that bliss balls invariably are a concoction of mushed together nuts/ seeds and dried fruit? And, especially in commercially prepared versions, they veer heavily towards the dried fruit camp - which means in essence it's simply a ball of sugar, albeit 'unrefined'.


Warm Mushroom, Fennel and Olive Salad

There's something slightly treat-like about having something warm in my salad. Probably to do with the fact that it involves more than just chopping up raw vegetables, piling them in a bowl with a drizzle of random dressing type condiments, before diving in with just a fork. So you could argue this is a salad of self-love - spending that little bit of extra time to make the day a smidge more special.


Marinating the fennel mellows out the strong liquorice flavour and the addition of juniper berries adds a fresh citrusy scent. The crunchy fennel contrasts against the earthy pan-fried mushrooms; the olives add another good pop of umami savouriness and a smattering of pumpkin seeds provide texture as well as some satiating good fat.

The honey mustard dressing is best drizzled on at the table and brings everything together with a delicate orangey sweetness.


Warm Mushroom, Fennel and Olive Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free
Serves 2
 Ingredients:

Mar…

Bullet Jounal Review

I am a stationery addict.

There. I have said it out loud. Ever since I was a little girl I would collect, curate and derive infinite joy in owning a treasure trove of bright and beautiful inks, pens, pencils, paints, notebooks, paper, stickers and so on. Art shops trumped TopShop, no contest.


When other girls were painting their nails and playing with makeup I was arranging my colouring pencils. Not much has changed. Makeup is still pretty 'meh' to me, whereas a shiny new set of brush pens makes me all tingly inside.

I still own much of my original paint and pencil sets from way back when - another characteristic of mine is both my hoarder instinct (a source of much discord in our home) and my careful (bordering on obsessive) regard for my possessions.

So I will leave it to your imagination the level of excitement when the concept of Bullet Jounalling floated into my field of awareness! That was back in October - over 6 months ago - and once I started I haven't missed a si…

Chocolate Coconut Tart

We used to host dinner parties for friends much more frequently than these days. Life is like a see saw - with our friends on one end and our children on the other. And despite their perceived smallness in stature, we all know which side of the see saw holds all the weight!


Still, when we do finally get round to entertaining, I still find it a fun and creative process to invent a new dessert. This Chocolate Coconut Tart is as close to a 'regular' dessert as I've made in a long while - it is VERY rich and does contain a reasonable dose of dried dates so blood sugar levels beware.

Nevertheless, it is free from all refined sugar, dairy, grains and gluten and is even nut-free. I served it alongside fresh raspberries to provide a balancing sharpness and a scoop of dairy-free coconut ice cream. Remember also to take the tart out of the fridge 30 mins to an hour before serving so the tart filling can soften at room temperature.

Biggest problem of this recipe was the lack of time …