(paleo) Pavlova wreath

PHOTO TO COME

I have wanted to make a paleo “pavlova” wreath since I started this way of life many years ago.  I think I can adapt many things to “become paleo” however I may have met my match……for now.  Not that this recipe is a failure, it just isn’t as perfect as I would like, and here’s why.  I want a crunchy exterior and soft interior that all melts in your mouth.  After using 18 egg whites and trying different combinations of heated eggs, heated maple syrup, cold of both, coconut sugar ground or not (you get the idea), I finally had something that I am happy enough to share.  It has a soft marshmallow texture that melts in your mouth and begs you to take another bite.

I learnt A LOT during this process and can’t wait to resurrect this recipe and make it even better. I hope you enjoy this version. Whether it is a last minute gift idea or for your own pleasure, you should try these.

(paleo) pavlova wreath– serves 6-8 (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

Ingredients
5 – 6 egg whites (approx. 180 – 200g in total)*
pinch salt
125g pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 150°C (fan-forced).  Line a baking tray with non-stick paper.  Turn the paper upside down and use a plate or bowl to trace around to create a circle, then use a smaller plate or bowl to trace in the centre.  I used 24cm diameter for my larger circle and 14cm diameter for the smaller one.  This will give you a ring shape that will allow you to create your shape.  Turn the paper over so that the tracing is underneath the paper, that way your ingredients won’t touch it.

Before starting this recipe I recommend you do a vinegar wash on your bowl and butterfly.  I place the butterfly whisk into position in the mixing bowl, add 1200g of boiling water from my kettle along with 200g of white vinegar (the cheapest you can find) and heat for 6 min / 90°C / speed 1.  Carefully remove the butterfly, empty contents of the bowl, dry everything thoroughly, replace mixing bowl into position and use the turbo function for 1 – 2 seconds to remove any excess water from under the blade.  This will ensure the bowl is as clean as possible.  Dry mixing again and get ready to start.

Insert butterfly into mixing bowl and leave MC off.  Place a jug or bowl on top of the lid and measure the maple syrup.  Set this aside.  Place egg whites and salt into mixing bowl and whisk for 3 – 5 min / speed 3 until egg whites become stiff.  Keep an eye on them and don’t over whip them.  Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl with the spatula.

Set the machine for 3 min / speed 3 and slowly pour the maple syrup through the hole in the mixing bowl lid.  This should take a minute or so.  Then add the tapioca flour a teaspoon at a time, then vanilla and lemon juice.  Continue mixing until time runs out.

Remove the butterfly whisk from the bowl and set aside.  Remove stiffened egg mixture from bowl and shape into a ring on the paper.  Smooth out if you like or leave it a little rough.  If there is excess mixture on the butterfly, once the mixture has been removed from the mixing bowl, place the butterfly whisk into position and mix for 5 sec / speed 4.  This should spray everything off the blade and allow you to scrape it from the mixing bowl.

Once shape is complete, place into oven and immediately turn oven down to 110°C (fan-forced), bake for 45 – 55 mins, until golden brown.  Once cooked, allow to cool slowly in the oven with door propped slightly open (use wooden spoon).

Leave overnight before decorating with whipped coconut cream and fruit of your choice.

Add your favorite toppings!

My tips: *I found it didn’t matter what temperature the egg whites were at.  If they were at room temperature they whipped up quicker, however if they were cold I whisked them longer and got the same result.  *The cooking time will depend on your oven.  My oven tends to cook quite hot.  If you know your oven is a little cooler then cook it at 120°C and keep an eye on it.  You will find this will go quite golden because we used maple syrup.

ease: 7/10.  Egg whites can be like computers, they tend to have a mind of their own  and you can never explain why it works one day and not the next.
prep time: 10 minutes 
cooking time: 50 minutes 

total: 60 minutes + cooling time

taste: 8/10 The flavour of this is delicious, i8t is just the texture that I would like to try and improve on.  :)

would I make it again:  Yes, for special occasions….and to try it again :)

(paleo) Cranberry and pistachio shortbread

Shortbread is one of the treats I enjoy and following a paleo lifestyle doesn’t mean I miss out.   I love the rich buttery taste and the slightly crumbly texture that almost melted in your mouth yet still had a little crunch.  That is exactly what I wanted from this recipe and I think I’ve got there.  After a few trials that I had to taste test (the hardest job of all) I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Whether it is a last minute gift idea or for your own pleasure, you should try these.

(paleo) Cranberry and pistachio shortbread– makes approx. 24 (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

Ingredients
50g pistachio
220g blanched almonds, raw or activated if you like (see notes below) or use 220g almond meal
60g coconut oil, melted
40g maple syrup or honey
30g coconut sugar
30g tapioca flour
20g coconut flour
seeds from ½ vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
2 pinches ground rock or pink salt
25g unsweetened dried cranberries

Preparation
Line 2 x baking trays with non-stick paper.  Preheat the oven to 170°C (160°C fan-forced).

Place pistachio nuts into mixing bowl and chop for 3 sec / speed 5, remove from bowl and set aside.

Place almonds into mixing bowl and chop for 10 sec / speed 8, to make them into almond mealScrape around sides of mixing bowl with spatula.  If coconut oil isn’t melted, remove almond meal from bowl and set aside.

If coconut oil is melted, skip this next step.  Add coconut oil to mixing bowl and heat for 2 min / 90°C / speed 1 or until melted.

Add remaining ingredients (including pistachios) to mixing bowl and mix for 15 sec / speed 3 or until combined.  Layout a 40cm piece of cling wrap and scrape mixture into centre.  Flatten until mixture is approx. 2cm thick, wrap and place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Once chilled slightly, remove mixture from freezer and divide in half.  Rewrap one half and place in the fridge.  For the other half, layout a 40cm piece of baking paper and place an extra 40cm piece of cling wrap (or baking paper) on top.  Place the mixture in between the paper and cling.  Use a rolling pin to roll out to 8-10mm thick.  Cut out desired shapes and place onto lined tray.  Press the off cuts or mixture together, wrap in cling and place in fridge while rolling out the second half of the dough.  Remove second half of dough from the fridge and place between paper and cling and repeat rolling and cutting out process.  Combine all off cuts of mixture and repeat rolling and cutting out process until all dough is used.

Once shortbread are on trays, place into freezer for 10 minutes (*If you don’t have time to do this see my tips below).  Once chilled, place into pre-heated oven and bake for 12 – 15 mins (depending on your oven) or until golden.  Once baked, remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes on tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container in fridge for two weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.  Give these as a gift or serve to guests.

My tips: *If you feel the off cuts are becoming too difficult to work with, wrap in cling and place in freezer for 5-10 minutes to chill then continue.  *I used a 6cm diameter round cutter for my shortbread but anything will work.  *If you don’t have time to place the cut out shortbread in the freezer before cooking, you can place them straight into the oven and cook them for 8-10 minutes.  They will spread a little more and will have a slightly chewy texture but they are still delicious. *You can also substitute the coconut sugar with extra maple syrup.  You might find the texture is not as crumbly.  *During cooler months coconut oil will solidify.  The easiest way to melt it is to loosen the lid of the jar slightly then run the sides of the jar under hot water.  It will melt quite quickly.  *I activate nuts by soaking them for around 5 hours and rinsing them.  You can use them straight away  If you want them crunchy again, roast them (low and slow) in the oven.  This process decreases levels of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid.  You can find some more information here and lots of other places on the net.

ease: 8.5/10.  This is as easy as any other shortbread I’ve made.
prep time: 40 minutes (including chilling time)
cooking time: 15 minutes 

total: 55 minutes + cooling time

taste: 9/10 The feedback I got for these was wonderful.  One of my friends even wanted to buy some to give as a gift  :)

would I make it again:  Absolutely.  Especially if I need a quick treat to share with friends.

 

(paleo) Carrot cake and cashew cream frosting

One of the things I love to do most in life is to bake.  When I was (much) younger I used to sit on the bench and help my Mum cream together butter and sugar for the beginning of a cake - by hand of course - mixing it in the bowl with a wooden spoon.  I’m sure the butter would have been made by hand churning the cream (from the family cows) until it split into that gorgeous sunshine yellow and that silky buttermilk.  As I reflect on those times I can’t help but think how idyllic that was!

While a few things have changed (I’m too big to sit on the bench, I have found some wonderful healthy and tasty substitutes for butter and sugar, I use a Thermomix to make my own butter :)), one thing remains the same.  I still love to bake.  It brings me a sense of relaxation, of joy and a feeling that I’m sharing a piece of my soul to those who taste my creations.  I don’t eat desserts or cake that often anymore but when I do it has to be good, otherwise, what’s the point!

I like this recipe because the cake isn’t too sweet, it is firm enough that you could use it as a celebration cake and decorate it quite easily and it keeps really well.  You can put the icing on at least a day ahead of when it is needed, pop it in an air tight container and leave it in the refrigerator.  It can be for Easter or anytime of the year.  I hope you enjoy this recipe too.

(paleo) Carrot cake and cashew cream frosting – makes 2 x 19cm cakes (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

Ingredients
cak
200g whole almonds (skin on), raw or activated if you like (see notes below) or use 200g almond meal
200g carrots (skin on), washed and chopped into 2cm pieces 0r use the same amount of finely grated carrot
20g (2 Tbls) coconut flour
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground rock or pink Himalayan salt
50g coconut oil, melted
4 eggs
100g raw honey or maple syrup
seeds from ½ vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
60g raisins
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

frosting
150g raw cashews, raw or activated if you like (see notes below)
60g honey or maple syrup
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
50g filtered water (you may need less if you have activated the nuts)
40g coconut oil, melted
seeds from ½ vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 pinch ground rock or pink Himalayan salt

Preparation
Line 2 x 19cm round cake tins with non-stick paper.  Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan-forced).

For cake, place almonds into TM bowl and chop for 10 seconds on speed 8, to turn them into almond mealScrape around sides of mixing bowl with spatula. Add carrots and chop for 3-4 seconds on speed 6 or until chopped finely. Add remaining ingredients and mix for 15 seconds on reverse, speed 3 or until combined.  Pour into prepared tins and level with a spatula.

Bake for 20 – 25 mins (depending on your oven) or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Once baked, remove from tin and cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

For frosting, place cashew nuts into TM bowl chop for 10 seconds on speed 8.  Scrape around sides of mixing bowl with spatula. Add all remaining ingredients into TM bowl and mix for 20 - 30 seconds on speed 4 or until well combined and smooth.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl and repeat if necessary.  Pour frosting over each cake, assemble as you like and place into fridge until needed.

Decorate with whatever you like.

My tips: *You could make this in one 22cm cake tin then cut it once it is has cooked and cooled however it will be a little denser.  You would need to cook it for 45 – 55 minutes depending on your oven.  *You can add a handful of walnut pieces to this batter if you like.  *If you don’t have raisins you can substitute sultanas.  *During winter coconut oil will solidify.  The easiest way to melt it is to loosen the lid of the jar slightly then run the sides of the jar under hot water.  It will melt quite quickly.  *I activate nuts by soaking them for around 5 hours and rinsing them.  You can use them straight away  If you want them crunchy again, roast them (low and slow) in the oven.  This process decreases levels of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid.  You can find some more information here and lots of other places on the net.

ease: 8.5/10.  This is as easy as any other cake I’ve made.
prep time: 10 minutes 
cooking time: 25 minutes 

total: 35 minutes + cooling time and assembly

taste: 9/10 This was (it went pretty quickly) delicious.  Even my non-paleo friends decided this was “pretty good” for a healthy cake (and they went back for seconds). :)

would I make it again:  Absolutely.  Especially if I need a cake to decorate for a special occasion.

 

(Healthy) Caramelised onion jam

The weather has finally warmed up a little in Perth.  For me, that means my eating habits change.  I want to eat lighter, brighter food.  So it is almost time to say goodbye to my curries and wintery stews and hello to more salads, shakes and ice creams.   It also means the opportunity for more alfresco dining, BBQ’s and picnics.

One thing that never changes though is that I LOVE a good condiment.  With a curry I like mango chutney, tamarind sauce or my all time favourite, eggplant kasundi.  With a roast it has to be good gravy.  I also add sauerkraut on the side of many of my dishes because of the medicinal benefits.

So what do I want to accompany those summery dishes, like salad, sandwiches or even the base of a tart?  One of my absolute favourites is caramelised onion jam.  There is something about onions that have been cooked until they have converted their juices to sweet nectar and have that stickiness that makes you want to eat more.  The only problem is that this process is normally assisted by using some form of sugar, something I don’t eat any more.

So if I wanted some of my favourite little side dish, I needed to come up with something that would work with my lifestyle.

This recipe is super simple and as I mentioned, extremely versatile. One of the things that will be on my list of things to create very soon is a Paleo caramelised onion tart.  YUM!  I’ve used this jam in my Roast Beef Gravy and my Perfect Paleo Pies.  You can use it with BBQ meats, or even with a baguette and some aged cheddar cheese.  Even give it as a gift.  Whatever you like.

I really hope you enjoy the results of this recipe as much as I do.

(healthy) caramelised onion jam (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).
Makes approx. 2 cups.

Ingredients
½ red apple (approx. 100g), cut into pieces
600g onions (red or brown), cut into pieces
20g coconut oil, ghee or butter
20g olive oil
50g apple cider vinegar
20g coconut amino or 1 tablespoon vegetable stock paste
80 – 100g honey (raw or cold pressed)

Preparation
Place apple pieces into TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 5.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl.  Add onion pieces and chop for 4 seconds on speed 6.  Add coconut oil/ghee/butter and olive oil.  Cook for 20 minutes at Varoma temperature on reverse, speed 2 with the MC off.  If the mixture starts to splatter place the simmering basket onto the mixing bowl lid. (I didn’t need to do this but just in case).

Add the remaining ingredients and cook for a further 5 minutes at Varoma temperature on reverse, speed 1 with the MC off.  Scrape the base of the mixing bowl well to ensure mixture isn’t sticking.  Cook for a further  5 minutes at Varoma temperature on reverse, speed 1 with the MC off.  Mixture should be softened and darker in colour.

Store in sterilised jars in fridge until needed.

My tips:  *This is great with roast beef, steak sandwiches, salads, in gravy and in tarts.  Add it to cream cheese or cashew cheese to make an easy onion dip.  *Make jars of it for gifts.  If you would like to double the mixture, make sure you add at least 20 minutes to the cooking time.  *This will keep for approx. 3-4 weeks in the fridge.

ease: 9/10.  
prep time: 10 minutes 
cooking time: 30 minutes 

total: 40 minutes

taste: 9/10 I love this “paleo version” of something I used to make and eat A LOT.  Now I can eat it by the spoonful, guilt free.

would I make it again:  I think this will be my new Hostess gift when visiting friends. 

Salted caramel and chocolate bliss balls (nut-free option)

In my humble opinion, society today feels like a world of convenience.  I know this is rather a serious statement for the start my post with but I really feel this dictates many of our daily choices.  We all want things faster, easier and with less effort on our own behalf.  I’m very guilty of this as time seems to be my most precious commodity.

Certain things seem to be more commonplace such as welling at my computer if it is not going fast enough, not ironing clothes that clearly need it and even skipping a meal or two just through not having enough time.  Now that I say them out loud they all seem rather stupid but shortcuts do start to creep in everywhere.

However, there is one thing I will not compromise on – the food I eat.  I don’t buy premade meals and do cook as much from scratch as I possibly can.  I’ve learnt over many years that it is important to fuel your body with the right things to get the best out of it.  When it comes to eating, I tend to be a “snacker”, eating smaller amounts more often throughout the day rather than bigger meals.  My friends often say “you’re always eating”, and I guess it seems like I am.  So having things on hand that I can grab on the run that keep my energy up is really important.

The great thing about making your own food from scratch is you can choose exactly what goes into it and what flavours you want.  The challenging part is that it can be time consuming to “make your own”.  Luckily this is where a Thermomix can come in very handy.

When I developed these recipes I knew they had to be really quick and easy as well as packed with flavour and nutrition.  Oh and at least one on them had to replicate my favourite flavour, salted caramel.  You can use these as a base and change the ingredients to suit you.  I know there are possibly thousands of bliss ball recipes, so I hope you enjoy these.

(paleo) “salted caramel” bliss balls (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).
Serves 20 – 24 pieces, depending on size.

Ingredients
30g unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut
200g pitted medjool dates (about 12)
150g raw or activated nuts (I did half cashews and half pecan) *see below for nut free version
½ teaspoon fine sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl mix for 30 seconds on speed 8.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl, checking that ingredients are well combined.  If needed, repeat for further 15 seconds on speed 8.  Press some of the mixture together to make sure it will stay in a ball.  If needed do a further 15 seconds.  Place mixture into separate bowl and refrigerate (see tips below), this will make it easier to roll into balls.  Once slightly chilled, take a rounded teaspoon/level tablespoon of the mixture and roll into balls.  Place on a lined tray and refrigerate until firm (a couple of hours).  Store in an air tight container in the fridge until ready to eat.

My tips:  *To make these nut free simply substitute the nuts with sesame or sunflower seeds.  *I found putting the mixture into the fridge to chill a little made them MUCH easier to roll into balls.  If you don’t have time to do that just press them into a tray and cut them into cubes. You can also put it into the freezer for 10 minutes to firm the mixture slightly  *If you are lucky enough not to eat these in the first two days, these will keep for approx. 2 weeks in the fridge.

ease: 9.5/10.  Does it get any easier?!?
prep time: 10 minutes + chilling time 
cooking time: 0 minutes 

total: 20 minutes + chilling time

taste: 9.5/10 I’ve made a LOT of bliss balls.  These got two thumbs up from G and are my absolute, all time favourite.

would I make it again:  Ummm, I’ve already made three!  hehehe. 

(paleo) “chocolate chia” bliss balls (recipe from a friend and adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).
Serves 20 – 24 pieces, depending on size.

Ingredients
30g unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut
150g pitted medjool dates (about 10)
300g raw or activated nuts (I used almonds)
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
60-80g raw honey
20g (2 tablespoons) raw cacao powder
30g (2 tablespoons) chia seeds
30g (2 tablespoons) melted coconut oil *see below for melting easily
34g (2 tablespoons) water

Preparation
Place all ingredients into TM bowl mix for 45 seconds to 1 minute on speed 8, until the mixture forms a ball or sticks together well.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl, checking that ingredients are well combined.  Moisten your hands with cold water and roll into balls.  Place on a lined tray and refrigerate until firm (a couple of hours).  Store in an air tight container in the fridge until ready to eat.

My tips:  *If you are struggling to roll these into balls you might want to try the fridge idea mentioned above.  *Substitute the nuts for any others and add some extra dried fruit (like dried cranberries) to switch it up a little.  *To melt coconut oil easily I simply place very hot water into a container so that it will come at least halfway up the jar, slightly loosen the lid and sit the container in the water.  Make sure that no water can get into the jar.  I do this just before preparing all the other ingredients.  This allows time for it to soften before it is needed.

ease: 9/10.  Pretty simple
prep time: 15 minutes + chilling time 
cooking time: 0 minutes 

total: 25 minutes + chilling time

taste: 8.5/10 These were delicious.

would I make it again:  Yes, because they are yummy.  But only if I didn’t have the ingredients for the Salted Caramel :)

Faux white chocolate

Easter time is one of those joyous occasions when many of us catch up with family and friends.  Good food, company and a beverage or two.

There also tends to be LOTS of chocolate in one form or another.  Easter hunts are still as popular as ever with more and more varieties of shiny wrapped goodies on the    supermarket shelf every year.

In years past I would have indulged a little (or a lot) in some of those rich, sweet and tempting treats.  These days, due to health reasons and a complete change in my eating plan, chocolate is not something I indulge in often at all.  Although, there have been 90% cocoa blocks floating around the house that have been nibbled by moi. :)

So you can see that if I have chocolate, I’m quite particular about what it is made of.  This recipe is simple, healthy, quick and can be changed to take on any flavour you like.  I actually converted it for a competition (which I didn’t end up entering because I ran out of time – the story of my life!).  The competition was run by doTERRA and was about using their essential oils in raw desserts.  I started using doTERRA essential oils as part of the healing program for my auto-immune issues.  I found them so AMAZING that I became a Wellness Advocate and now love sharing the oils with anyone who is interested.  You can find out more about the oils and how they work through this link.

Nonetheless, with or without the addition of oils this is something that you can make at the very last minute and anyone can eat as much as they like.  No limiting the Easter chocolate when it is this good for you!

No matter what you are eating over the Easter break, I hope you are sharing it with people you love and creating some beautiful memories.

 

(paleo) faux “white chocolate” (recipe converted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought inspired by The Rawtarian.).
Serves 20 – 30 pieces, depending on size.

Ingredients
250g shredded coconut
75g maple syrup (or any other sweetener that you like)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract (leave this out if using oils)
Optional
5 – 6 drops of doTERRA oil of your choice – lemon, peppermint, cinnamon, wild orange, lime or even lavender

Preparation
Place coconut into TM bowl and mix for 1 ½ minutes on speed 8.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl and repeat if necessary, but only until mixture looks like it is starting to come together a little.  When it gets to this stage, add remaining ingredients and mix for 1 minute on speed 6.  Mixture should hold together when squeezed in your hand and should feel “wet”.

Press mixture into mould or tray firmly and freeze 30 minutes.  Once set, pop out of moulds and keep in an airtight container in freezer until required.

My tips:  *Make sure that you process this enough in the beginning.  It should just start to stick together after the first process.  *The mixture must be pressed into the moulds or tray FIRMLY or it will just crumble.  *I use doTERRA oils because of their purity.  You can use whatever you prefer but I would suggest something that is therapeutic grade.

ease: 9/10.  So simple for such a great result!
prep time: 15 minutes + setting time 
cooking time: 0 minutes 

total: 45 minutes

taste: 9/10 I LOVE this.  I feel like I’m being so naughty but I’m really not.

would I make it again:  Yes, and next I’m trying a chocolate version!

(paleo) Pork & eggplant curry

Hellllllloooooo!!!!!  It is so long since I have posted on my website, looked at a new recipe or even spoken to you all that I feel like I almost need to reintroduce myself.

For those who are new to my blog, my sincere welcome, I hope you find it interesting.  For those who are dedicated readers, my heartfelt gratitude for inspiring me to continue doing what I do.

You may have seen a little “shift” in my recipes lately to a paleo style of eating.  This has been due to some serious health issues that I was trying to resolve with the assistance of my gorgeous and fabulous Naturopath (if you want her name just let me know) and through changing my diet.  I’m really pleased to say that we have made some significant progress and I am feeling so much better.

It doesn’t mean that you have to follow the paleo way of eating to enjoy my recipes, it just means that you will enjoy the food and it will be good for you.

This is a recipe that I adapted to the Thermomix.  It is something that has been a part of my repertoire for many years and if I ever make it for friends there are lots of positive comments.  There are a few ingredients but don’t get scared, just keep reading.  In the hint and tips I will make sure that I tell you how and where I buy my ingredients.

Now I know it is the middle of summer (at least in Perth) so not necessarily curry season but I’ve always been a bit strange like that.  I love eating hot things in hot weather and cold things in cold weather.  So summer = curry and winter = ice cream.  Weird, right :) .  No matter when you make this I hope you enjoy it.  It is definitely a favourite in our house.  Oh, and like many curries, the leftovers are even better :) .

(paleo) Pork & eggplant curry (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
paste 
4 garlic cloves
100g red onion/shallot
50g fresh or frozen lemongrass, chopped into 1cm pieces
zest of 1 lime, peeled with a peeler, reserve lime flesh
20g fresh or frozen coriander root (about 8-10)
½ teaspoon shrimp paste
1 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds or ½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
20g olive oil
100g water

curry
400 – 500g pork loin, cut into 3cm pieces
300g eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces
200g coconut milk
20-30g fish sauce
20-30g raw honey or coconut sugar

Preparation
For paste, place all ingredients into TM mixing bowl and blend for 30 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl and repeat.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl and cook for 5 minutes at 100°C on speed 2.  Scrape around the sides and base of the TM mixing bowl.  Store paste for another time or leave it in the bowl and use it immediately.

For curry, place pre-made paste into TM mixing bowl and add pork pieces.  Cook for 3 minutes at 100°C on reverse, speed soft.   Add eggplant and coconut milk. Cook for 50 minutes at 90°C on reverse, speed soft.  Add fish sauce and coconut sugar then cook for another 10 minutes at 90°C on reverse, speed soft.

Squeeze over some juice from reserved lime and serve with cauliflower rice or side dish of your choice.

My tips:  *The ingredients for the paste can be purchased from Asian food stores and some supermarkets.  They are all quite common and easy to find.  To make it easier, sometime I will buy pre-cut lemongrass that has been frozen, just use the same weight.  *You can double or even triple this paste then just divide it up.  Use what you need for this recipe then keep the rest in the fridge until you want to use it.  You could also freeze it.  *You can substitute chicken thigh for the pork and it is equally delicious.  I would cook it for the same amount of time because you need the eggplant to soften.  Chicken breast would not work in this dish.

ease: 7/10.  Just a few steps in the preparation!
prep time: 15 minutes + standing time 
cooking time: 70 minutes 
(for curry only)
total: 85 minutes + standing time

taste: 9/10 I LOVE the flavours in this curry.  A delicious winter (or summer :) ) warmer.

would I make it again:  What do you think? :)

(paleo) Breakfast bar

In January 2010, I said “Hello” to the blogging   community and started my Food 4 Thought website.  My goal was to put my passion for cooking into pages to share with others and hopefully along the way, inspire people to cook.

How things have changed!   I still love to cook and to share my recipes.  Inspiring people to try new things and take their own “food journey” continues to drive all that I do.

What has changed most?  Since that first post, I now have a Thermomix (of course) and a digital SLR (camera) – I love them both.  One allows me to create delicious food and the other beautiful photos :) .  I still have my KitchenAid because…….umm……it’s so pretty.  Unfortunately it does gather dust because I tend to adapt things to “Hermie” now.  I’ve taken my own food journey throughout the years and learnt that my body likes different foods now and runs more efficiently when I eat those particular things.  Some people might think a breakfast of LOTS of spinach, avocado, roasted pumpkin and boiled eggs is a bit weird, but I love it.

As I mentioned, sharing recipes and ideas is really important to me and one of the reasons I write my blog and my newsletter.  So when someone asked me recently how I use my Thermomix for breakfast aside from the “usual response” of poached eggs (YUM!), porridge, boiled eggs, CADA, omelettes, baked eggs and homemade bread and butter I also mentioned muesli bars.

When creating this recipe I took inspiration from a little cookbook that Thermomix in Australia offer.  “Cooking for Me and You” is designed for one to two people and has some delicious recipes like Asian style mussels, Prawn stir fry and Chocolate custard soufflé.  So in celebration of sharing to inspire people to cook, I am also sharing the book.  Simply leave a comment below telling me about your favourite breakfast creation using the Thermomix.  Share your recipes, you might inspire people xxx

(paleo) breakfast bar– makes approx. 18 bars (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought inspired by Cooking for Me and You).

Ingredients
70g flaked coconut (unsweetened)
60g brazil nuts
120g your choice of mixed dried fruit
60g raw cashew nuts, activated if you wish
120g your choice of mixed seeds
250g almonds, activated and dried if you wish
3 eggs (or chia eggs)
60g raw honey
40g dried cranberries

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 170°C (160°C fan-forced).  Line a 30cm x 20cm baking tray with non-stick paper.

Place flaked coconut into TM bowl and grind for 10 seconds on speed 7.  Set aside.

Add brazil nuts and chop for 7 seconds on speed 4.  Set aside with coconut.

Add cashew and dried fruit into TM bowl and chop on closed lid position, Turbo for 1 second, 1-2 times.  Set aside with coconut.

Place almonds into TM bowl and mill for 8 seconds on speed 8.  Add eggs and honey, mix 5 seconds on speed 4.  Add all other ingredients and mix for 20 seconds, reverse on speed 3.

Scrape mixture into prepared tray, use damp hands to press down firmly and evenly.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden.  Once cooked remove from oven and place on cooling rack.  When just cool enough to handle, cut into bars.  If you want to coat them in chocolate allow to cool a little more then coat as desired.

My tips:  *For the dried fruit I used 30g apricots, 40g sultanas, 50g dates and for the mixed seeds I used 40g each of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin.  You can use whatever you like.  *I  activated the nuts by soaking them then roasting them in the oven.  This process decreases levels of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid.  You can find some more information here and lots of other places on the net.

ease: 9/10.  Not difficult, just a few steps
prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes 

total: 45 minutes

taste: 9/10 I LOVE these.  They have become my “grab and run” breakfast as well as the little snack I have just to fill the gap when I need it.  They’re not too crunchy so easy to eat one handed :)

would I make it again:  I  have already :)

 

(paleo) Lemon cheesecake

Food journeys, diets, eating plans, lifestyle choices.  These all evolve, grow and change, at times somewhat dramatically throughout our lives.

Food has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. My “journey” began as a youngster in the kitchen with my Mum.  I remember helping to make sausage rolls for my Dad’s lunches and helping Mum mix the cakes, mainly so that I could lick the spoon.

As a teenager my Brother and I were State level competitive swimmers.  We trained about four hours a day at least 5 days per week so keeping our bodies   fuelled became really important.  My grandparents had a farming property close by so most of our food came from the land.  My Mum used to spoil us for dinner by making the best steak and kidney pie or lightly fried lambs fry (liver) with onion gravy.  Delicious!

Ironically enough, in my later teenage years I announced to my family one day that I was strict vegetarian.  This, combined with excessive sports activity, resulted in a dramatic (and unhealthy) weight loss and body obsession.  This went on for too many years.

I am pleased to say that with years under my belt and lines on my face has come some wisdom.  For quite a while I have eaten a healthy diet and exercised      regularly.  However I still enjoyed a sneaky dessert every now and then quite    often.  One of my favourites was my Mum’s cheesecake.  It’s really good.  So you can imagine how disappointed I was when my lifestyle needed to change again (due to health reasons) and I began eating a Paleo diet.  I just had to make some form of lemon cheesecake.  Although completely different to my Mum’s recipe, I love it just as much :) .  I hope you enjoy this simple recipe too.

(paleo) lemon cheesecake – makes one loaf tin (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought inspired by Paleo Cupboard).

Ingredients
base 
200g whole almonds (skin on), activated if possible (see notes below)
6 medjool dates, pitted
30g coconut oil, melted

filling
200g raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours or overnight, drained
60g pure maple syrup
130g fresh lemon juice
100g coconut milk
60g coconut oil, melted

Preparation
Line a large baking tray with non-stick paper or a silicone mat.

For base, place almonds and dates into TM bowl and chop for 12 seconds on speed 8.  Add coconut oil and mix for 20 seconds on speed 4 or until combined.  Pour into prepared tray and press down firmly.  Place in freezer while making the filling.

For filling, place all ingredients into TM bowl and mix for 1 minute on speed 7 or until well combined and smooth.  Scrape around the sides of the bowl and repeat if necessary.  Pour filling over the top of the base and place into fridge for at least 2 hours.

Serve with whipped coconut cream and lemon slices.

My tips: *During winter coconut oil will solidify.  The easiest way to melt it is to loosen the lid of the jar slightly then run the sides of the jar under hot water.  It will melt quite quickly.  *I  activated the nuts by soaking them then roasting them in the oven.  This process decreases levels of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid.  You can find some more information here and lots of other places on the net.

ease: 8.5/10.  This is as easy as any other cheesecake I’ve made
prep time: 15 minutes + chilling time 
cooking time: 0 minutes 

total: 15 minutes + chilling time

taste: 9/10 This was (it went pretty quickly) delicious.  Even G, who is not a big coconut fan, loved this.  It had a strong lemon tang to it and the filling was silky.  The base had the right cheesecake crunch.

would I make it again:  Absolutely.  And I want to try a chocolate berry version too  :)

(paleo) Ginger cookies

These days I hear more and more about people with food allergies or sensitivities and I’ve discovered that I’m one of those people.

Learning more about how my body reacts to certain foods has prompted me to ask questions like what am I doing that is contributing to this and how can I change it? Should I stop listening to “experts” and start listening to my body more?  Is the food I eat nourishing me or making me ill?

All extremely valid and necessary questions I think.  Many of my customers purchased a Thermomix so that they could go back to the basic style of cooking like their ancestors, void of preservatives, additives and colours.  Others use it to combat allergens and avoid illness due to potential reactions.  Originally, I decided I wanted a Thermomix in my kitchen because I loved cooking but was extremely time poor.  However, three years on, I now use it in a completely different way than I first thought I would.

In recent years my eating habits have completely changed.  This is primarily due to health reasons which I’ll share in future posts.  My main challenge has been deciphering exactly what my body can and can’t handle in relation to food.  The great thing is that I can make everything from scratch so I know exactly what is in everything I eat.  This takes the “guesswork” out of my analysis and helps me pinpoint things quickly.  Many of my clients want to KNOW what they are eating and the Thermomix is definitely a great tool for that.  I sometimes say, “I used to think we ate healthy, now I know we do”.

Before I had to change my diet I LOVED to bake, and I still do.  Now I just use slightly different ingredients.  I still like the recipes to be simple and the results to be delicious!  In the cooler weather I love nothing more than a cup of tea and a biscuit (thanks to my Nan) and it used to be a cup of Earl Grey with a dash of milk and am all butter shortbread.  More recently it has become a cup of Green Tea and one of these delicious cookies.  I hope you love this recipe.

(paleo) ginger cookies – makes approximately 20 cookies (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought inspired by Detoxinista).

Ingredients
220g whole almonds (skin on)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
50g pure maple syrup
20g water
15g blackstrap molasses
70 g (grass-fed) butter or ghee, soft

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 160°C (150°C fan-forced).  Line a large baking tray with non-stick paper or a silicone mat.

Place almonds into TM bowl and grind for 15 seconds on speed 8.  Add all remaining ingredients to TM bowl and mix for 10 seconds at speed 3 or until combined.

Pour mixture into medium size bowl and place in freezer for 10 minutes or until slightly chilled.  Remove mixture from freezer and roll into balls (or use a scoop – see tips below).  Place them onto prepared tray, about 5 - 7 cm apart to allow room to spread.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Once baked, allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the tray before carefully moving to a cooling rack.

Enjoy with or without a cup of tea.

My tips: *To divide the mixture evenly I used a mini ice cream scoop but spoons will work just as well. *You can substitute the butter/ghee with coconut oil if you like however the ratio might be slightly different.  *This is a very versatile recipe.  If you want it to be a cinnamon cookie, just leave out the ginger and increase the cinnamon to 2 teaspoons.  If you’d like a spiced cookie substitute the ginger with 1 teaspoon of mixed spice.

ease: 9/10.  Does it get any simpler?!
prep time: 10 minutes + chilling time 
cooking time: 20 minutes 

total: 30 minutes + chilling time

taste: 9/10 I LOVE these.  I’ve made them twice since I created the recipe and ate 3 (or was it 4) in one day from the most recent batch.

would I make it again:  What do you think? :)