Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Two Foodies and a Baby - Eating our way around Melbourne.

Wow! It has been a long while between posts- sorry!!
I've been very busy with two kiddies at home (Pip's day carer has been unwell), and finding the time to sit down to post has been too difficult.
So this morning "The ABC4"  is being my babysitter for an hour so I can pump out this post about my foodie adventure last weekend in Melbourne with my lovely friend Jodie aka "One Nourished Life"
Jodie is a well seasoned foodie, and knows all the best spots in Melbourne to fill your belly with delicious, nourishing foods. She had her book launch in Melbourne at the Lululemon store on the Saturday, and kindly invited me along to help, so we decided to make a weekend of it and eat our way around Melbourne.
We tagged our pics on Instagram #twofoodiesandababy #foodieadventures, you can follow me @a_cacao_life
So off we went, Jimmy included, on a foodie adventure, and a quest to expand our food knowledge, and hopefully not our waistline....

First stop on our adventure was to Geelong's "The Sprout and Bean" -we took the long way to Melbourne ;) - for a lunch of organic quinoa and roast veggie salad. The toasted nuts on the top of this really added a delicious crunch. A great way to add that finishing touch and a bit of extra taste to a simple salad.
Then off we headed to Melbourne for dinner at Yong Green Foods (Brunswick st Fitzroy) - a delicious vegetarian restaurant, with lots of raw, vegan and gluten free dishes on the menu. 

Here I had my first experience of Kombucha- a delicious and slightly fizzy fermented tea (this one was lime and mint flavour)- brewed over 7-10 days it is full of probiotics so it is great for gut and skin health. So good that I have just got my 'Scoby' in the mail to brew my own (a scoby is a yeast lump that ferments the kombucha, creating all the probiotic goodies). I will post more about Kombucha in the future when I get my own brewing!
Our starter was the buckwheat crepes with braised shitake mushrooms, veggies and wasabi mayo. DELICIOUS!! Then onto our mains- Rawsagna (raw lasagne if you didn't figure); layered zucchini, mushroom and avocado with cashew cheese and raw walnut Bolognese.
Then another raw creation- the Nutty Burger; Burger patty made with carrot, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, veggies and herbs, served with raw tomato sauce and cashew cheese.
We couldn't resist and had to try the raw nachos- chia chips with cashew cheese, guacamole,and sun fried seeds sauce.
Jimmy doing his best Matt Preston impersonation. Cravat and all ;)

We took dessert home to eat since we were so full! They were delicious, and raw (of course)! 
Raw tiramisu

Raw Pecan Pie (Nomnomnom)


Up bright and early for a big day- we are off to Tall Timber (Commercial st Prahran) for a big GREEN breakfast of sautéed kale, asparagus, beans with poached eggs, almonds and goats curd on a quinoa loaf. We got marinated mushrooms and avocado extra too... oink oink.
awww cuddles

Very cool outdoor crate wall
More crates ;)

I loved the feel of this place!

Breakfast for lunch (it is Saturday) at Silo by Joost (Hardware st CBD)- an amazing no waste cafe, using seasonal, sustainable produce and that also recycles everything they use, have their own kitchen garden and is fitted out entirely with recycled / recyclable furniture. They have a food waste dehydrator in the back alley which transforms their food scraps and paper napkins into fertiliser, which in turn is given back to the farmer who supply them.

We had coddled eggs and shared a big plate of greens and weeds, kimchi, avocado and German Bacon (the best bacon I've ever had!!)

Jodie and her goodies from her book  "One Nourished Life"
Off to the launch at Lululemon where lucky customers and passers-by got to taste some of Jodie's wonderful recipes- raw cheesecake, spicy seed crackers with tahini. 
Beautiful day at the Remembrance Day Park
And then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the park
We had a dinner date at Monk Bodhi Dharma (Carlisle st Balaclava) and their Jamaican night- 5 course vegan special. We sat outside and enjoyed a balmy Melbourne evening. 
The van had cushions and a table in it.

Dinner started with Trinidadian callaloo (soup), Rasta salad cleanser, Caribbean Jambalaya (spicy lentil curry), Jamaican sweet potato pudding with coconut cream and last but not least the BEST raw cake I have ever eaten; the Jamaican Redemption Cake- 3 layers of raspberry, pineapple and lime on a pecan crumble, rum choc smear, coconut ice-cream and a peace tuille.



Breakfast at Trumans Cafe (Montague st Albert Park) was smashed pumpkin, leek, grilled haloumi, poached eggs and kale pesto. A 'Jane Fonda' Juice (how cute is the little yellow deer?) and long black (standard staple for me!). The cafe was filled with families and early Sunday morning risers, people fresh from their morning walks/rides and lots of dogs out the front with complimentarily water bowls. It was lovely that the cafe was so accommodating to prams, dogs and screaming children!
 After breakfast we trekked around the South Melbourne Markets and bought some goodies and organic produce from the wonderful suppliers there.

Then we headed off to Shokuiku (High st Northcote) (raw, organic menu) for lunch with a very special young lady- Ellie Paxton-Hall- who was a contestant on Master Chef that made it to the top 5 finalists.
Lunch was delicious salads with a side of sauerkraut, chia chips, and a raw passionfruit, white chocolate Irish cream cake.

Jimmy was wonderful all the time, talking/squealing at anyone who would smile at him, generally being his charming cheeky self.
Then we headed off to Terra Madre (also High street Northcote)- the best health store in Melbourne- full of organic produce and everything you could possibly want to nourish your body! They had the most amazing array of self-serve goodies from chia seeds to nutritional yeast and raw chocolate chunks. The place was so busy! It was wonderful to see some of our local produce from Mt Zero stocked there too!
Foodie Heaven!

How cute are the 'shopping trolleys?!"
And then we headed home! 
What an amazing adventure we had- full of delicious, nourishing foods, wonderful inspiring menu's and food creations. I was very happy to see Brendan and Miss Pippa, I think she missed Jimmy more than me though!!


Monday, 2 December 2013

THE easiest pancakes you will ever make!

Quick and Simple breakfast right here- Banana pancakes with only 2 ingredients.
And did I mention they are DELICIOUS! Your kids will LOVE them!!
Top with some good quality coconut cream and nuts and you have a delicious rounded meal to start your day.
Full of protein, good fats and carbohydrates to nourish and fuel your body.

Recipe:
1 Banana
2 eggs
1 egg white

Method:
Pop all ingredients in a blender and whizz until bubbly.
Over a low heat, melt a little coconut oil in a pan and drop in 3-4 tablespoons of mixture.
Flip once it starts to bubble.
This mix makes about 3 pancakes.
Remember not to have your pan too hot as the natural sugar in the banana will burn very easily.

Top with whatever you like- I have used coconut cream, organic maple syrup, walnuts and some bee pollen.
You could top with berries, coyo, more banana, or a raw chocolate avo mousse for a special occasion. 

Perfect gluten free, dairy free, paleo friendly meal.

AND I'm very excited for my lovely friend Jodie (you may remember her as a guest blog post here)
She launched her cookbook 'One Nourished Life' yesterday- I cannot recommend this book enough- it is full of delicious recipes and ideas on how to live a nourished, happy, healthy, vibrant life. It features easy to follow recipes, meal plans, exercise ideas, how to stock your pantry and notes on sustainable living and creating a vegetable patch your neighbours will envy!
Follow her on Instagram here and repost to win a copy of her book and some delicious Soma Bites. You can order her book online at www.onenourishedlife.com or pop into Anytime Fitness Horsham to pick up your copy!


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

three candles guest post

Today I'm sharing with you a little local business by a lovely friend of mine Cara, called three candles'.
I'm all for hard working ladies, juggling children, study and business, so I'm more than happy to help promote small business's that encompass my way of life.
As summer approaches and their long balmy evenings we often spend nights outside enjoying the extra daylight hours. I love these nights, but loath the mosquitos that the warm days bring out, buzzing and biting me and my family.
I will not put mosquito repellant on my children- if I don't know an ingredient, I'm not going to lather my little ones' skin in something unnatural that will possible be rubbed off by their little hands and popped into their mouths.
Cue Cara and her homemade soy candles and melts.
You can check out her Facebook page here, or her website here.


Tell us about your business and why you started 
  • I think it’s fair to say I ‘fell’ into business rather than ‘went’ into business! My daughter has chemical allergies, and being on a farm with the wet year the mozzies and blowflies and bugs are CRAZY, we were going through a stage where we couldn’t even be outdoors and the kids were being eaten alive at night.  I decided to make some natural mosquito repelling candles and melts to use myself, which I’d dabbled with in the past, and had wonderful success. After painstakingly experimenting and perfecting the balance of essential oils for several months, I started selling to a few Facebook friends, and it just snowballed! A week later I had a nearby business call me asking if I could make them some fragranced melts, and I thought why not? Through word of mouth the wholesale enquiries kept coming, and I took on what I could at the time. I have 3 young children and so the idea of working from home is hugely appealing. The business is still in its infancy at only 3 months old and I’m just going with the flow and seeing where it leads. Currently I have an online store, five stockists, and will do my first market stall on the 30th November. 
Why soy (why are other waxes inferior?) 
  • Soy wax is sustainable, renewable, 100% derived from vegetable oil and is not tested on animals. It’s also superior in that it burns slower, cooler and cleaner, making it safer in the home and around children. The scent throw is strong and clean, and soy wax is water soluble, making spills easy to manage.
3. How do your products differ from other products? 
  • Candles can be labelled as ‘soy wax’ even if as little as 25% soy wax is used. There is a huge lack of regulation in this area. Also, many ‘100% soy wax’ candles contain chemical additives. Although I do make fragranced candles as well as essential oil candles, my soy wax is pure, of the highest quality, and contains no chemicals or additives. Also, I use 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. Yes, I could order ‘pure essential oil blends’ made especially for candles for half the price, but I honestly believe the quality and effectiveness of the end product is worth the cost of sourcing the best quality oils and perfecting my own, unique blends. I use cotton wicks, and the jars are so gorgeous they are able to be reused as a vase, tea light holder, you name it. 
4. Who can your products help? 
  • In the next month I will be launching a range of pure essential oil candles and melts that are separate to the ‘mozzie’ range. The therapeutic benefits of pure essential oils are well documented, and, having studied nursing, I personally wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of aromatherapy, as do many in the health field. Many medications are based on natural remedies and extracts. Also, lighting a gorgeously scented candle is enough to make anyone feel better after a long day! 

5. What is your typical day like? 
  • I don’t have a ‘typical day’! But generally, I’ll get my daughter off to school, then get the boys ready for the day. We play and I try to get some work done in the morning, be it housework, study or candles! After lunch we often go into town to do errands or otherwise the boys have a nap and I get some more work done. After school pick up it’s homework, kids tea, baths, reading and the whole bedtime routine with the 3 kids. After that I try to get some more work done while my hubby cooks tea if he’s home from work, then we eat and I’ll pack lunches, sometimes do some study and then fall into bed! I honestly could not be a housewife, mother, University student, employee and candle maker without my incredibly supportive husband! We really are a great team. 

6. What inspires you?
  • In terms of this business, the overwhelming support and feedback I have received is what has inspired me. It’s what’s given me the courage to pursue it and to have faith in my product and my values. Seeing my products sitting on the shelves in store is a massive thrill, I must admit! It goes without saying that my young family are my main inspiration for everything in life, they are why I’m working so hard to grow something that is successful, flexible, and ultimately a brand that has integrity and substance.

 7. Future business goals
  • As I said, I’m just going with the flow and riding the wave right now! I will be launching the pure essential oil candle and melt range very soon, which is really different to any other candles I’ve ever seen personally so I hope they’re well received. To my utter surprise, the business seems to be growing toward the wholesale market, so I think getting a few more stockists on board in the next 12 months would be amazing. I have just invested in eco-friendly packaging for the Mason Jars to enhance their retail potential. I would also like to eventually expand on the candles a little bit, and produce a chemical free sunscreen. My daughter is allergic to the myriad of chemicals found in commercially made sunscreens, and I’d love to share the beautiful, chemical free sunscreen I am making for her on a larger scale... But one step at a time! Growing the Facebook following is always a priority, as the business is essentially based around that. I try to keep it fun, and I have had a great response so far. Fingers are crossed for the future, and if I crash and burn, I’m proud that I had a go!

Cara's business is partly named after her first husband Brett who was tragically taken when their daughter was only 1. Cara's amazing zest for life is an inspiration. She has found love again in Josh and together brought two more little cherubs into the world.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sneaky vegetable salad with spiced chicken

Sneaky vegetable salad with spiced chicken
This salad tastes so good, you'll forget that it's packed with vegetables full of delicious nutrient to nourish your body and soul.
Inspired by the veggies I had just picked from my garden and some delicious tahini I had the previous night, I threw them all together and the result was mouth watering!
Freshly picked baby kale, broccoli, beetroot, lemon and spring onion out of my garden, adding in some carrot and pear for sweetness and the tahini for a creamy nutty dressing is delicious.
For all you vegetarians, you can easily omit the chicken, or replace with tofu coated in the same spices. 



Salad
Kale leaves, (baby ones if possible, or else massage leaves until soft, see tip below). If you can't get your hands on kale, baby spinach would suffice. About 1 cup chopped.
1/4 beetroot
1 small carrot
1/4 pear
1/4 head of broccoli, 
1 whole broccoli stem
1 spring onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Chicken
1 chicken breast (either whole, or chop it up into bite sized pieces)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayane pepper (omit if you can't handle hot spices)
1/4 teaspoon ground corriander seeds
1 teaspoon coconut flour
salt and pepper to taste
coconut oil for cooking.

Dressing
1 tablespoon Tahini
1/8 teaspoon cayanee pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste 

Prepare salad
Cut stem off broccoli and put aside, then cut up the head into very small florets. Steam for 2-3 min, remove from steamer, put in bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cold, drain, and spin in salad spinner to get rid of all the water.

Massage kale leaves with a little lemon juice and salt until they ‘wilt’ and go darker. Massaging kale is important to reduce the bitter taste and soften the leaves. The acid in the lemon helps break down the cell wall in the kale, making it softer and sweeter. This may take up to 5 min, depending on your kale. I used baby kale fresh out of my garden and it was soft and palatable as is.
Chop up kale.

Peal the outer layer off you broccoli stem, much like you do a carrot. The outer stem is fiberous and stringy but the inner flesh is soft, crunchy and delicious. Slice up the stem finely. 
Grate your pear, carrot and beetroot (I use a mandolin with a fine julienne attachment)
Finely slice spring onion.
Toss all your salad ingredients together with lemon juice

Prepare Chicken
Mix spices and coconut flour in a bowl, coat chicken breast in mix.
Heat coconut oil in a pan and cook chicken until golden.

Dressing
Mix spices and olive oil in the tahini paste. 



Plate up salad, top with sliced chicken breast and top with tahini dressing. Sprinkly sesame seed ontop for a bit of glamour ;)

Tip: Cook up twice as much chicken and freeze it for a day when you can't be bothered cooking. It can easily be added to a quick salad or steamed veggies in no time.
Preparation is the key to healthy living, having nutritious foods on hand all the time and you can't fail. 
"Fail to prepare, prepare to fail".

Friday, 8 November 2013

One Nourished Life guest post with sweet-spud and coconut coleslaw recipe

For those who follow my Instagram account, you'll often see me posting pics of food by a lovely friend of mine Jodie. This wonderful lady is a foodie extraordinaire and health yogi and has just had her first book published. She encompasses everything I believe in regarding food, exercise and holistic health and I cannot recommend her book highly enough!

You can buy it HERE or follow her on Instagram HERE or also on Facebook HERE

I asked Jodie to do a guest post for me, so here she is to tell you more about her wonderful book. 

Hi, my name’s Jodie and here’s a little introduction to my book One Nourished Life…



"When friends started suggesting I turn my healthy cooking passion into a book I thought they were crazy! My reaction was always, “But I’m not famous!” Golly, I’m not even a qualified chef or nutritionist. I’m just an everyday person! I work, sleep, and endure the same life stresses and trivialities as much as the next person. My respite from this however, is in my love of food, food that nourishes the body and satisfies the taste buds. Sourcing it, preparing it, cooking it, and of course, eating it!

As a full time gym owner and personal trainer, working in the health and fitness industry has inspired me to take this love of food and use it to complement my efforts in the gym. My passion is to enhance the health outcomes and fitness goals of not just myself but clients too, ensuring optimum nutrition as part of a holistic healthy lifestyle. I gain incredible satisfaction from what I do, helping people to reach their health and fitness goals, but have found the battles of my clients are often only half won. The imperative of diet and quality nutrition often fall by the way side compared to all those hours spent in the gym.

One Nourished Life highlights the ease and simplicity with which nutritious and delicious foods can be incorporated into your everyday life menu. These foods will not only liven up your dinner table and lunch box with new delicious and exciting tastes and textures but will nourish you from the inside-out! Nourishing your body will ignite a new, vibrant lease on life. One which nourishes self, mind, body and soul to permeate a new, healthier way of living."

I’d like to share with you Clair’s favourite recipe! This is just one of my Nourishing recipes:

Food Styling & Photography –

sweet-spud with coconut coleslaw


Nourish:
This is my DIY version of the much loved festival ‘baked jacket potato’ with healthier flavours that really pack a punch!
Sweet potato is a superior nutrition alternative to the traditional white potato and boasts a lower glycaemic index (gi) and carbohydrate content while containing greater amounts of fibre & vitamin A.


Serves 1

1 whole small sweet potato
½ cup red cabbage, finely shredded
½ cup fennel bulb (or green cabbage), finely shredded
½ cup carrot, grated or noodled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup organic coconut cream
1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 small (or ½) clove garlic
1 tablespoon raw almonds, roughly chopped
drizzle of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
                                     

Pre-heat fan forced oven to 200 degrees. bake whole sweet potato (uncut and skin on) on baking paper lined oven tray for 1-hour.
Meanwhile, throw shredded veg into a mixing bowl and squeeze with lemon juice. Leave to sit while completing the next step.
In a separate bowl, mix coconut cream (tip: shake can well before opening), mint and garlic. Add to veg mix and combine well.
Once cooked, remove sweet potato from oven and cut in half. Top with coleslaw veg mix, sprinkle with almonds and drizzle with olive oil.

Feel free to add your favourite palm size portion of sustainable and organic fish, chicken or meat for added protein!

Nourishing your body from the inside-out will allow you to give more positive energy to your days and enable you to live a One Nourished Life! xx

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Clean eating FAQ and a progress pic

Afternoon!
Today is Wednesday, which means my 3 1/2 yr old is at family day care. And I get to spend half my day without having to answer 250 questions… why Mummy… but why… but why!!! Her little brain is piecing together this wonderful world, and I must admit, I'm reminded daily of how confusing and magical it is. Trying to explain things like steam from the hot water, rain from the sky, and why some moths have 'eyes' on their wings.
Anyway! I digress…
I was out shopping, buying a birthday present for my 5 year old niece, when I went into my favourite kids shop in town (Kawaii Kids). Lovely Andrea, the owner, and I were discussing my love of clean eating, and how to implement in into our lives easier.
It's a question I get asked the most.
Where to start.
In a world full of easily accessible information, we seem to have been overloaded with information, ideas, fads, gimmicks and lots of bad, misinformed advertising. And now we are now all confused.
We really all know what we should and shouldn't eat. If we be honest with ourselves. But the 'quick fix' sells a lot better than the real answer. We all want our cake and be able eat it too.
"The best diet shake…….
Is the shake your booty makes when you run."

So I'm going to try and simplify it for you.

1. You need to get real about why you want to start eating clean.

Are you overweight, have bad skin, always tired, have no energy, on medication for lifestyle illness (type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc). Do you sleep poorly, struggle with moodiness, depression? Are you constantly getting sick? Do you suffer irritable bowel syndrome (constipation-diarrhoea, bloating, gas, pain)?
Your diet effects everything listed above (and more).
What you put in your mouth either fights disease, or feeds it.
What is your goal. And you need one.

Personally, mine was a combination.
I wanted to have more energy, sleep better, cure my IBS, and stop being so moody!

2. You need to get rid of the excuses. Period.
You need to own your behaviour.
I think this is the part where people struggle the most. We have excuses for everything. "It's too hard/I'm too busy/I don't have time/its too expensive/I'm too tired".
You need to be honest with yourself. How bad you do want your goal?
Stop the excuses. You're only cheating yourself. Changing your life is hard.
I came across a great little quote on instagram the other day-
"What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?"

3. Preparation. 
Throw out all your unhealthy food- or donate it to a shelter if you don't want to waste it.
Fill your cupboards with healthy foods and snacks. Get rid of anything processed and packaged. If you don't recognise and ingredient, chances are your body won't either. Chuck it.
Put aside 5 min each weekend and plan you meals for the week. Know you're going to a function? Think ahead and offer to bring a salad/ fruit platter- full of foods that fit your lifestyle.
Organise family activity which includes incidental exercise (walk to the park, swimming). Instead of catching up for coffee- grab a take away and talk and walk.
"The better I eat, the better I look. The better I look, the better I feel. The better I feel, the better I eat. I could get used to this cycle"

4. Commitment.
You're doing this for you. It may be hard in the beginning, but hang in there. Little by little you will notice your life changing.
Don't give in to the haters. People who mock you for wanting to change your lifestyle are only jealous of your commitment, dedication and motivation to better yourself. It's time to be selfish. It's not a bad thing. Look after yourself. It takes courage to step out from what you've always known and been taught. The old ways are not always the right ways. Look where they have gotten you. You starting may be the light switch for everyone else around you. Be that person. Keep going, you never know who you are inspiring.

5. Knowledge is power
I cannot emphasise this enough. We are never to old to learn new things. The more you learn about why clean eating is so important, the more likely you are to embrace it. I know how good the bread basket would taste. But I also know how horrible I will feel afterwards. Learn what all that sugar and processed food is doing to your liver, your brain, your bowel. You'll find it easier to pass on the jam doughnuts once you know what they are really doing to your body. Find and learn new recipes that are easy to cook. Ask questions. Lots of questions!!

What to read?
Some of my favourite books are
It starts with food by Dallas and Mel Hartwig
I quit sugar by Sarah Wilson
The paleo solution by Robb Wolf

Blogs
http://theholisticingredient.com/blog/
http://www.mindbodygreen.com
http://www.mynewroots.org/site/
http://www.whole9life.com
http://www.adashofcompassion.com
http://www.petite-kitchen.com

Do I practice what I preach. Damn straight I do.
Here's some proof.

Me 40+6 days pregnant. And then 14 weeks later. I put on 18kg this pregnancy.
Clean eating and exercising. No shakes, no starving and no counting calories. I ate wholesome food. It was not easy, I work hard for my health. I'm still breastfeeding and running after a 3 1/2 year old and my husband works long hours. I'm committed. It's simple. And I LOVE how my lifestyle makes me feel.
                        Clair xx

Monday, 21 October 2013

Raw chocolate nut truffles

Sorry I've been a bit M.I.A on here lately!
I'm still alive, and still living and loving my paleo lifestyle- although, if you ever come to my house, do not expect to see a clean kitchen! I'm always cooking (which I love) but I don't love the mess! Oh well, you can't have everything!

Here's a recipe I threw together today for on of my most favourite things to eat! Raw chocolate nut truffles. It's pretty much a combination of everything I love!
They are sweet and satisfying, plus full of great fat, vitamins and minerals. Just try not to eat the entire mixture before rolling- like everything- moderation is the key ;)

Recipe mades approx 14 little balls
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablesp cacao powder (extra for dusting on top)
1 tablesp desiccated coconut
1 tablesp cacao nibs
1 teaspoon mable syrup
1 tablespoon chia seeds
pinch sea salt

Blitz everything in food processor until sticks together when pressed.
Roll into 14 little balls (approx a heaped teaspoon each ball)
Put in fridge to set.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Raw chocolate caramel cheesecake

Another cake! Yep. I love making these delicious raw creations! Full of nutritionally dense ingredients, this cake tastes naughty but doesn't have any nasties in it that you get with traditional cheesecakes.
It is dairy free, gluten free, egg free, grain free, refined sugar free and vegan friendly!
The cake has a slight banana taste to it, if you're not a fan of banana's omit them and add another cup of cashews (preferably soaked) and increase the coconut oil to 1/2 cup.

Recipe
For best results, use a spring form pan. You can line it if you like.

Base
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup macadamia nuts (or almonds)
1 cup dates
1 tablespoon cacao
big pinch of sea salt flakes

Process all ingredients in food processor until ingredients stick together when pressed. 
Put into spring form pan, pressing down to make a firm base layer, going up the side of the pan slightly.  Put in freezer to set while making the cheesecake.

Cheesecake
2 Bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup cashews
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cacao
1/2 cup coconut cream

Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Pour on top of base, and put in freezer to set for 1-2 hours.

Caramel sauce
1 cup medjool dates, soaked (discard water before use)
1 teaspoon mesquite powder (optional)
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 tablespoons coconut cream

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour on top of cheese cake, smooth out top. Return to freezer to set for 4 hours, or overnight.
Cut with a hot knife while still frozen. Allow to soften a little before eating...if you can wait.
Top with raw cacao nibs. Nom nom nom.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Raw carrot cake with 'cream cheese' cashew frosting

I love carrot cake. Sweet and moist with a hint of cinnamon spice and a sneak of coconut. I also love cream cheese- cashew cream cheese that is! Smooth, lemony, creamy goodness.....mouth watering deliciousness!!! Ommnomnom get in ma belly.
I found a good recipe and have changed it up to suit my way of eating- gluten free, grain free, dairy free. It is also egg free and refined sugar free too.
It is wonderfully moist, dense, and totally satisfying.
So here it is!
 Don't mind my lack of food styling skill....

This is before it was covered in the cashew frosting

 Wala! My old cake decorating skills have come in handy....

The cake above is made in a very small (12cm diameter) spring form pan- so I halved the recipe below. Since I'm terrible at not eating the entire cake in one go, I thought I'd better make a small version...

Recipe
Use a spring form pan about 25cm diameter

Cashew frosting-
2 cups cashews (preferably soaked overnight, or for at least 4 hours, then discard water)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons of agave (or sweetener of choice)
2 tablespoons of coconut

Blend everything up in the food processor until smooth- if it seems too dry, add a little water. Set aside. Try not to eat...

Cake
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups almond meal
2 cups pitted medjool dates
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Process carrots until very fine. Add everything else, process until combined.
Press 1/2 mixture into bottom of spring form pan. Spread cashew frosting over top 1cm thick. Put in freezer for 2hours. Press the rest of the mixture on top. Freeze again for 2 hours.
Open spring form pan carefully, cover with rest of cashew frosting.
A small slice is perfect accompanying a cup of tea.
Enjoy!
Clair

Monday, 23 September 2013

Week 3 Whole30 + an eggy debate+That Sugar Film

Week 3 on the Whole30 and I'm cruising along nicely. I got over my crappy week 2 and have made some small changes to my meals.
I've cut out all the lovely bacon I was having for breakfast- it was making me feel a bit too greasy (if that's possible!), so I cut it. This is exactly what the program is about, listening to your body and working out what works for you. Everyone is different, and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. Trial and error.

So now, upon waking, I have a shot of chlorophyll, followed by nearly 1 litre of H20, then I go and feed Jimmy. 30min later, I have a three egg omelette (2 whole eggs and 1 white), 2 cups of spinach wilted down, 1/4 avocado and 1 cup of mixed blueberries and raspberries or strawberries. I'll add in a banana if i'm going to exercise in the morning. Protein, fats, and carbs all there.

According to myfitnesspal (not sure if it's totally reliable, it breaks down to this:


You can ignore the fact that I have 'gone over' my cholesterol for the day (from my eggs)- just because you eat more cholesterol, doesn't mean your cholesterol will go up. Depending on your health and diet, your liver makes 3-10 times more cholesterol than what comes from your food
So if you're stressing your body with over consumption of carbohydrates (breads, wheats, processed foods which can damage your gut and cause systemic inflammation(stress)) and psychologcial stress, your body will produce more cholesterol to combat the cortisol (cholesterol and lipoproteins are cortisol precursors). 
Stress= an increase in cortisol (stress hormone) = increase in lipoprotein and cholesterol production. 
So eat right, and chill out and your cholesterol will be fine. 
I've got a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol (my skinny, fit and 'healthy' Grandfather dropped dead of a massive heart attack at age 68) my latest blood tests are perfect and I eat eggs everyday...


Many people ask me how I get my calcium if I don't eat dairy- well as you can see above- there is calcium in fruits and vegetables, and this is only one meal's worth.
I don't actually track my food like this everyday, I'm just using this as an example. And the goal are not what I aim for (they're based on a 1200cal low fat high carb BAD diet).
Anyway, I'm feeling great! My energy is level throughout the day, I'm sleeping wonderfully (thanks to Jimmy who sleeps through the night! Will love it while it lasts!) I wake up with a clear head and lots of energy.

I thought I'd share with you some of the reading I've been doing lately:
I've been following a blog by Damian Gameau, an Aussie actor/director  who's making a documentary on sugar titled 'That Sugar Film'. He is currently spending 60 days eating the same amount of sugar consumed by average American teenagers everyday (40 teaspoons).


That Sugar Film Pitch Teaser from DamonG on Vimeo.
During his 60 days he travels to an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory and explores the impact sugar is having on Indigenous Australians, and then to the US and finds a young boy with 'Mountain Dew mouth' getting all his rotting teeth extracted from drinking litres of soft drink everyday (a very common occurrence).
He also interviews scientist, and finds out how companies are actually doing research on how to get people addicted to sugar= consume more of their products (have you ever had just one lolly and been satisfied?). Kind of like what tobacco companies did- increase the nicotine in cigarettes so people become more addicted. I wonder if there will be lawsuits against producers doing the same with sugar...?
The amazing thing is that he is able to reach his sugar target by eating products that are marketed as 'healthy', 'low fat' foods.
eg Brekky was French toast and a chai. (I thought I would go out in style, sadly my 'style' was bloated and heart burn. 11 teaspoons.
One 'Honest kids' babies juice pack. It had raspberry and lemonade and contained real fruit juice. 8 teaspoons.
One small bowl of trail mix. 7 teaspoons.
One Peach, blueberry smoothie with low fat yoghurt and enema juice concentrate. Apple juice, apologies. 12 teaspoons.
One decaf with 2 sugars as I write this at the airport gate.
40 teaspoons. 

He is currently up to day 53 of 60, then he will go off and make a short film about his journey. So pop over and check out his blog, and keep an eye out for his doco- it will be very interesting viewing.



Monday, 16 September 2013

Whole30 week 2 and sweet potato chippies!

Another week down!
This week was tough. I was craving sweet food so badly!! I've eaten so many pears and apples this week it is crazy!! If I wasn't doing the Whole30 I would have made up a big batch of my chocolate avo mousse, smothered it on a banana and topped with it walnuts! OMNOMNOMNOM! But I am being good, and not going to do too much SWYPO (what the whole30 call Sex With Your Pants On- turning paleo foods into something that looks and tastes non-paleo)

The crap weather here is so depressing- getting stuck inside- I get bored...and then find myself eating...out of boredom. Argh. I'm beginning to recognise little habits that I have formed over the years relating to when I overeat the most, these are-
when it's depressingly bleak/ rainy weather,
when I watch a movie/ TV (hello popcorn!),
when I'm tired,
when I'm thirsty
and when I haven't planned my meals.
So as hard as it has been this week, I've also learnt a lot- and this is exactly why I'm doing the Whole30- a bit of self discovery!

I've also had my first experience of eating out- the waiter looks at me strangely when I ordered the vegetarian breakfast, hold the beans, with extra bacon instead, and no goats cheese!! The roasted tomatoes still came out with melted cheese on top (meh!) so that was a bit disappointing. I feel for the lactose intolerant people if this happens to them! No cheese means no cheese on anything!!

Apart from all my cravings- I am still feeling really good! I've had a couple of days where I felt really tired and lacked motivation to hit the gym- but really- I'm at home with a 10 week old baby and 3 1/2yr old, I'm going to get tired now and then.

So this week I'm going to try and plan all my meals ahead- pinterest have some great meal planner spreadsheets like this one here

Oh! And you must try making some sweet potato chips (a bit of SWYPO) but hey- it's all good!

Thinly slice sweet potato with mandolin or knife. The thinner the crispier they will get (but be careful not to burn them!)
Preheat oven to 150C
Lightly grease some baking paper with coconut oil.
Place thinly sliced sweet potato in single layer.
Spray with coconut oil
Cook in over for 10 min, or until edges crisp up, then flip and cook again for 10min. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Sprinkle with good quality sea salt/ himalayan salt.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Week 1 Whole30

Wow! I can't believe a whole week has passed. I survived my first week on the Whole30 plan- eating Paleo.
I went to a little afternoon birthday party, and a whole evening at a BBQ and didn't eat anything that wasn't part of a paleo diet. And no, I didn't starve! I had planned ahead- I brought my own meat to the BBQ (salmon) and a healthy big salad to share- like I always do. This one was just minus the cheese I normally would put in it. I was surrounded by lollies, chips, cake, dips, bread and potato salad.
Half of the food I can't eat anyway because it contains gluten, but keeping my fingers off the lollies was hard! But I really didn't feel like eating any of it- I've been feeling so good I didn't want to undo any of my progress.


But....last night I woke up after dreaming I was at a kids party and ate lots of chips and lollies. I felt so guilty!! And it wasn't guilt from eating the paleo foods- it was actually from the knowledge that I was only eating because the food was there in front of me. I was eating (in my dream) and I wasn't even hungry- it was totally emotional eating. I eat when I'm nervous/ stressed etc, and in my dream this is what I was doing! Argh! Clearly my subconscious is more addicted to that food than I physically am! Do you find yourself mindlessly eating party food- even though you're not even hungry?!

Why is this so bad I hear you ask- what is wrong with eating some lollies at a party- it's a celebration after all?
Well I'm trying to nourish my body. I'm trying to see food a nourishment- not a reward. And lollies and chips are not nourishment. They wreak havoc in my body- sugar highs, followed by crashes and mood swings. And I'm the kind of person who is all or nothing- so if I'm going to open that block of chocolate- I'm going to eat it until it's finished. Even if it makes me feel sick. That's how addicted I get to sugar when it comes in that form.
For me, the short term pleasure of those lollies and chips isn't worth the long term effects.
It isn't worth it for any of us.

But anyway- 1 week down, 3 to go. Here's what I've noticed-
1. A massive improvement in my sleep; falling asleep much easier and waking up feeling refreshed and full of energy.

2. Feeling full and satisfied after a meal. Realising I am full and not feeling like I'm hungry or needing to eat all afternoon or late in the evening. I use to get hungry at 10am- 3-6pm, and 7-9pm. Even after big meals I was still feeling hungry. Now I don't. Eating the right amounts of nutrients at each meal (protein, fats and carbs) keeps me satisfied.

3. More energy. I'm busting to get out walking/ running or to the gym. I'm already doing the gym program I used in preparation for Kokoda. Although I'm not as strong- but fitness wise I am able to complete it.

4. My clothes fit better. I'm not weighing myself each week- but I have taken before and weekly photos to compare. Even though I'm eating huge meals I'm still loosing weight, or changing body composition.

5. Mood! My moods are stable! I feel happy, full of life. I feel light, clear headed and inspired!

6. No more digestive issues- no bloating, cramps, or spasms.

7. I'm not craving sugary foods or comfort foods. I use to spend ages fantasising about foods I could eat, and then eventually give in and make an excuse to head to the local cafe and get a sugar laden gluten free sweet. Or make my own at home. Now I'm not a slave to the sugar!

8. I actually really like black coffee! It's amazing how your taste buds will change when you stop eating processed, sugary foods!!

So what am I eating?
Breakfast is usually eggs (as many and I can hold in one hand-3) poached or fried, bacon, mushroom and tomatoes all cooked up in a pan. Served with 2 cups of wilted spinach and 1/2 an avocado.
Lunch is usually a big salad with rocket and spinach with cucumber, tomatoes, roast sweet potato, avocado, roast beetroot and chicken or beef, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Dinner can be anything from chicken curry with cauliflower rice; steak and roast veggies, salmon and salad, lamb shanks in my slow cooker, etc etc. Anything with meat and veggies!
Below is chicken curry with cashews and coriander (omnomnom)
But really you can eat anything at any meal as long as it has protein, fats and carbohydrates. Mixing it up is the key to success- I'm sure soon I'll get sick of eggs for breakfast- but not yet!

So stay tuned for a progress pic- I'll take one at the end of this week!
If you're after any info regarding the Whole30 click here or check out this other great website by Robb Wolf.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Whole 30


The past 6 months or so I have been a food journey, discovering healthy new ways to enjoy my food- 'have my cake and eat it too' type journey. I've been incorporating super foods into my diet, finding healthy alternatives to heavily processed, sugar laden desserts, and eliminating gluten from my diet. I've also slowly been eliminating diary from my diet- now only occasionally having greek yoghurt 2-3 times a week. I've been using soy in my coffee and almond milk on my oats. It's been an awesome journey- and I'm happily sharing it with all of you who follow my little blog (thanks for reading!)
I feel wonderful, my skin in the clearest it's been forever, my energy levels are good (not perfect- but hey, I've got a 2 month old baby!) and my moods are more stable. I also believe my healthy eating has contributed to my fast recovery after giving birth to Jimmy (after Jimmy was born I had a massive post partum haemorrhage and nearly died, but that story is for another day).
I feel it's time for a new chapter in my journey book. Time to get serious about how I view food. Sadly, like most of us out there, food and I, we have a pretty poor relationship. Food has a hold on me. We constantly fight. I've lost the 'I'm full' signal mechanism. I have cravings. I give in to them. Sometimes I binge. I feel horrible. And one bad food choice can leave me feeling guilty and shit for the rest of the day. I get grumpy, look for comfort, find something yummy, and it feels good for the first bite. But then it's followed by shame and guilt... and the cycle continues. This doesn't happen everyday. Maybe one or twice a week, and luckily the food choices in my cupboard are mostly healthy (but that is not the point). There was a time in my life where it was an everyday occurrence. Especially when I was stressed- like high school, UNI, new job... lets just say the first half of my 20's were spent eating disorderly and binge drinking on the weekend....
I know I'm not the only one like this. I may be the only on that admits it... I'm hoping this may resonate with some of you. 
This isn't how our relationship with food should be. It is not healthy. 
We should be eating to nourish our bodies. Because we love ourselves. And yes, we should love ourselves. It's not selfish. Like that old saying 'No one can love you if you don't first love yourself'. We need to love ourselves enough to want to look after this body we have been given. And the best way to do that is nourishing it with the best foods possible.
So I'm going to be doing a whole lot of self loving from now on. Starting by doing the Whole 30.

I'm not sure if you have read about the Whole30 before- but basically you eat real food. Yep. Real food. For 30 days. NO CHEATS. Nutrient-dense foods like meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils that have been raised, fed and grown naturally. Foods that are full of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Read more about it here
Things that are not allowed are sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy- all of which may not contribute positively on your health- aka- sugar crashes, alcohol binges, bread basket overload etc. 
Also, the way these foods are broken down in your gut can be the cause of, or exacerbate a myriad of disease like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, asthma, allergies, skin conditions, PCOS, infertility, migraines, depression, bipolar disorder, heartburn, reflux, joint pain, ADHD, thyroid dysfunction, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, leaky gut syndrome, Chron's disease, IBS, Celiac disease, diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis.
It's NOT a diet- It's not about weight loss. You eat as much as you need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight. 
I have some lagging IBS issues, even after cutting gluten, which I want to find the source of and eliminate (hence me already cutting back on dairy), but for me, the whole 30 is more about changing my long-standing, unhealthy patterns related to food, eating and my body image. Another bonus is that most people will see a dramatic reduction or elimination of food cravings, particularly sugar and carbohydrates. 
I've got a good start on the Whole30- since most of the no-go list I've already discovered for myself  negatively impacts my health- I don't drink alcohol (sober for 1 1/2 years) I don't eat gluten, I've minimised dairy and I don't eat much sugar. I will miss my healthy desserts (which although fit into the foods allowed- still psychologically have the same effect as naughty foods, so I'm steering clear for now). So hopefully I won't have as many sugar crashes/ carb cravings as people who eat all these foods to begin with and I can focus on my relationship with food- eg hunger cues (am I hungry enough to eat steamed fish and broccoli? No, then it's a craving, not real hunger).
Don't be afraid that I won't be getting enough carbs or other nutrients- all the foods I have to eat are full of everything I need. Vegetables and fruits have carbohydrates. Meat has protein, nuts and oils have amazing amounts of essential vitamin and minerals. Food manufactures just like to spin it that their bread/milk/chocolate is full of the best whole grains/calcium/antioxidants  around. It's a big money making scheme (don't get me started!!). 
So essentially it's about empowering myself again (do I sound like Oprah?! haha!). I want to be in charge of my wants and needs, not be a slave to food and how it makes me feel. I'm hoping this experience will be the learning tool to gain awareness of how the foods I use to eat were actually affecting how I look, feel, live and perform. I can then carry that knowledge forward, and use it to change the way I eat for the rest of my life (since it's a whole30, not whole365, you can incorporate no-go foods back into your diet if you like, after the 30 days).
The website www.whole9life.com is full of wonderful and interesting topics related to Paleo eating. The book 'It starts with food' is a wonderful eye opener and a must read if you want to try Whole30. Personally I'm fascinated by nutrition, so I'm very excited to see how my body responds to this primal eating.  
So I hope you don't mind, my next few blog posts will be about my journey on Whole30. I'll be posting recipes along the way too.
Cheers,
Clair