(paleo/raw) 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.

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

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.

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

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 :)

(paleo) 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.

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)
5 – 6 drops of doTERRA oil of your choice – lemon, peppermint, cinnamon, wild orange, lime or even lavender

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

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

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

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).

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

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).

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

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

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).

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

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? :)

(paleo) Pancakes

Mother’s Day is the one day of the year where most of us stop, even if only briefly, to recognise the AMAZING job that Mothers do in this world.  I’m sure the word “job” should actually be in flashing lights because it is a 24/7, all consuming lifetime commitment.

I am extremely blessed to have an incredible Mum.  One who has always been there to guide and support me while also letting me learn from my own mistakes.  She taught me that I can do anything I set my mind on, to strive for my goals and dreams and, to this day she makes sure I know how proud she is of me.

When I was a child she would put up with my individualism and stubborn, strong will which included constant demands for different fashion items that (she made herself and) were a one of that no-one else would ever have.

She also had the patience of a saint when it came to my cooking.  I remember her teaching me many recipes as a young child, allowing me to make the typical childhood mess.  And as a teenager, me taking over the kitchen and putting my own twist on what I’d learnt to cook it for her and my family.  Mostly successful, although I’m sure she was more than pleasantly surprised sometimes at how well things actually turned out.

Unfortunately we live in different states now.  So although my spirit will be with her on Mother’s Day I won’t be making her a delicious breakfast like I may have done in years past.  If I was with her I would make sure that she didn’t lift a finger and had the best breakfast in bed.  Freshly brewed coffee and healthy pancakes.  What could be better!  I wonder in my fur child can make these for me on Mother’s Day, LOL.

What are you making your Mum for Mother’s Day breakfast??

(paleo) pancakes – makes 12 x 20cm pancakes (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

200g whole almonds (skin on)
1 – 2 tablespoons honey (depending how sweet you like it)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
200g tapioca (arrowroot) flour
250g homemade almond milk
8 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarb soda
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat a small pan over a medium heat.

Place almonds into TM bowl and chop for 12 seconds on speed 8.  Remove and set aside.

Add coconut oil and honey to TM bowl and heat on 70°C for 2 minutes at speed 2 or until completely melted.  Add all remaining ingredients along with reserved ground almonds.  Mix for 20 seconds on speed 4.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and mix for further 20 seconds on speed 4, or until well combined.*  Place a small amount of butter into the pan.  Pour enough mixture into the pan to cover the base and cook until you see bubbles starting to form on the surface of the pancake.  Flip over and cook on the other side until golden brown.  Remove each pancake from the pan and keep warm until ready to serve.

Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup.

My tips: *This is quite a wet mixture, not thick like some pancake batters.  This makes it easier to pour and to cover the base of the pan.  *Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up too high and cook them quickly.  They will burn and not cook all the way through.  Leave them on a medium heat and wait until you see the bubbles forming.  *I found these really filling and only needed two for my breakfast.  *Use any spice that you like in place of cinnamon.  *These will keep in the fridge really well once cooked.  They can also be frozen.


ease: 8.5/10.  Easy enough to do on Mother’s Day!
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes 

total: 30 minutes.

taste: 8/10 From G, given he isn’t strict paleo and loves traditional flour pancakes that is a really good score!  Personally I would say 9/10 from me.  I loved these.  I felt they had so much more flavour than other pancakes I’ve eaten.

would I make it again:  Every weekend, if I had time :)

Thermomix tips and tricks

I recently wrote about how special it is to share recipes.   Sharing tips and tricks that help us all get the most out of our Thermomix is also a wonderful thing to do.  I asked you all to tell me what your best Thermomix tip was via my FB page. Thanks to everyone who shared their ideas, there were some great ones!

  • Thermomagician – Making Magic in my Kitchen – Don’t throw liquid gold down the sink. When you make stock – use the water you use to self rinse the bowl as the next liquid stock you use.
  • Ali – My tip is: don’t worry about peeling veggies or coring fruit (e.g. Apples, pears) when making any recipes that will blitz them up anyway (soups, smoothies, dips). The skins hold additional nutrients (after being washed well!) and it avoids unnecessary waste. We’re too quick to throw away the good stuff!
  • Hillary – Remember to use the self-clean function. Especially after making dough, I like to put 1 litre of water a drop of dish washing liquid 3min/50 C/spd 4, when that’s done, turbo pulse 2-3 times. No sticky dough under the blades, no gummy TM brush or dish cloth, love it !
  • Rachael – The little bottle brush that you get to clean baby bottles teats make cleaning under the blades very easy work.
  • Maria – My tip for everybody would be to use the machine and accessories at the same time and you’ll not only save electricity but you can make a three course meal in about 25/30 minutes. Use the Thermomix glass to make a cream of carrot, the lower varoma tray can be filled with frozen beans, carrots, artichokes… and the top varoma tray with some chicken breast, salmon… Now, that is some healthy meal and best of all, while your machine works, you can just sit down and relax!
  • Minnie – When measuring, place a bowl on top of thermo and place items in that when correct, tip in. I weigh my flour, butter etc this way saves having to tip out.
  • Debbie – Not cooking related but I have sat my thermo on a bamboo place mat, this helps when needing to move it, which is every time I use it as I have limited bench space. I just slide it out saves having to lift it every time.
  • Thermomagician – Making Magic in my Kitchen – When you self rinse turn the blades on reverse and it swirls the water a little higher and gives the lid a good wash at the same time..
  • Yasmin – When using the Varoma to make an omelette or steamed veggies and meat (or anything really) I measure the water and turn the machine on to Varoma with the MC in place THEN start chopping/preparing the food. Takes roughly 6-8 minutes for it to get up temperature anyway so it means no time is wasted and saves 5 or so minutes in cooking time. Every minute counts when you are a full time working mum of two kids two and under!!!!
  • Nerissa – Pre plan what u r going to do when u do a big batch cook up so that u aren’t standing around doing nothing when your machine is cooking for you. ie make dough for your scrolls and biscuits and set aside until u have a hot meal cooking and then do the rolling out and cooking.
  • Bron – Place the butterfly to the left of the stamped blade (with TM symbol) when looking at it pointing ‘north’ – that way the butterfly has a high point of the blade on front of it, less chance of the butterfly flying off.
  • Helen – When milling/grinding powdery products such as sugar or flours, place a sheet of glad wrap over the mixing bowl before putting on the lid. This stops the dust getting all over the lid and also stops powder coming out.  You can then continue next steps without dusty powder dropping from the lid of thermi, saves a lot of mess.
Thanks so much for sharing everyone.  As mentioned on my FB page, there would be some prizes for contributing.  These were chosen using Random.org today  :)
Congratulations to:
- Ali
- Debbie
- Minnie
Please contact me to claim your prize.
Fiona xx

(too easy) Carrot cake

Sharing recipes of any kind is a very special thing.   Some of them involve family traditions and secret ingredients; many are not even written down and only learnt through teaching the next generation.  This is something that I have always loved about cooking and one of the things that drives me to continue teaching people how to make delicious and healthy food.  I also love the fact that cooking and eating are often about sharing.  Not only the food but also knowledge, stories, love and laughter.

Easter is one of those times of year that we connect with those special to us and sharing some good food is often on the agenda.  This recipe was very generously given to me by a dear friend, who I happened to meet through Thermomix.  Liz is a fabulous cook with many hidden (German) family secrets.  She is also an amazing lady who inspires me in so many ways, one of which just happens to be in the kitchen with my “Hermie”.

I love this recipe because I have NEVER liked sultanas in my carrot cake (sorry if you do – you can just add them) and it is also VERY simple with no added fat.  What could be better?

I hope you enjoy some time with you family and friends throughout the Easter period.  Blessings to you all :)

(too easy) carrot cake – (original recipe by Elisabeth Higgins, tweaked a little by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

cake – makes 1 x 26cm round cake
300g whole almonds (skin on)
200g raw sugar
zest of 1 lemon (peeled)
300g carrot, chopped in chunks
4 eggs
80g of flour (wholemeal/spelt/plain/gluten free)
20g/1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
20g baking powder
2 teaspoons sweet spice mix (below)
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan-forced).  Line a 26cm round spring-form cake time with baking paper.

Place almonds into TM bowl and chop for 12 seconds on speed 8.  Remove and set aside.

Place sugar and lemon peel into TM bowl and mill for 20 seconds on speed 10.  Scrape around sides of bowl, add carrots and chop for 4 seconds on speed 5.  Add all remaining ingredients and mix for 15 seconds on speed 6.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into prepared tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes.  Test that the cake is cooked in the centre by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick.  If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Cool in tin for 5 minutes then cool on wire rack.

My tips: *You can halve this mixture and bake it in a smaller cake tin and bake it for 30 – 40 minutes.  *If you would like to add some sultanas and nuts just add a small handful of each after the final mix.  Then mix it on reverse, speed 3 for 10 seconds to combine.  *The spice is subtle and different to just cinnamon.  *Don’t over bake this cake or it will go slightly dry.

Sweet spice mix – makes approximately 1 cup
12 cardamom pods or ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
40g/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
25g/5 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 small or ½ large nutmeg
½ teaspoon/20 cloves

If using whole cardamom, place pods into TM bowl and mix for 2 seconds on reverse speed 6.  This will crack the pods so you can remove the seeds easily.  Pour broken pods into a bowl and remove shells.  Return seeds to TM bowl.

Add remaining ingredients and mill for 1 minute on speed 10.

Scrape around the sides of the bowl and pour mixture into an air tight jar and seal until needed.

My tips: *This mixture is best used within 3 months.  * You can use it to make a sweet spice butter to add to pancakes, or brush over scrolls instead of cinnamon.  *Mix it with a little icing sugar and sprinkle it over any cake.

I used this Cream cheese icing.  For a dairy free version you can just sprinkle with icing sugar if you prefer.

ease: 8.5/10.  Individually these are easy, and the whole thing isn’t too difficult
prep time: 20 minutesFor all three.
cooking time: 50 minutes 

total: 1 hour 10 minutes.

taste: 8/10 From G. Personally I would say 8/10 from me.  For a healthy cake I loved it.  This had a great flavour and the spice was balanced really well.  The cream cheese frosting is also delicious :) .

would I make it again:  Yes, this is too easy not to want to make it again.  I might even try a different vegetable :)

(paleo) Healthy chocolate cake

I know the title of this recipe is almost an oxymoron, but it’s true.  I designed this recipe because G & I have been (attempting) a Paleo diet of late.  The concept is really interesting and (I think) we are starting to see some results.  I’ll elaborate a little more in the future.

For now I can tell you this month bring about many celebrations in the Food 4 Thought (my) world.  To begin with, Thermomix in Australia officially announced (to our staff) that for 2013 out of over 2500 Thermomix Consultants, I was the NUMBER 1 Consultant in WA, AND the NUMBER 2 in Australia.  Part of that was in capitals because I am really proud!  This HUGE achievement will be celebrated in Sun City :)

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who supports my business, who passes on my number to their friends and believes that I will give you the best service that I possibly can.  You all allow me to do what I love.  I am eternally grateful.

The second cause for celebration is that I am going to Sun City in South Africa!  We are off to Thermofest soon and will be staying in the Palace of the Lost City.  I’ve never seen anything like this and seriously can’t wait!!!  If past years are anything to go by this will be an amazing “business” trip.  Wonderful speakers, lots of fun, catching up with other consultants from all over Australia and even a safari.  What more could we ask for?  Oh, did I mention it is all paid for by Thermomix!  If you want to know how you can come with me on the next one let me know :)

And lastly, the other celebration this month is Valentine’s Day of course.  Although I’ve never been one to celebrate the day itself I respect those who do.  There are so many lovely gestures, gifts and wonderful meals that you can make for that special someone.

So, given all of the celebration this month I thought I’d design something that was worthy of celebrating with.  It is not only delicious but really healthy.  I must say I don’t feel guilty eating this at all.   Enjoy!

healthy chocolate cake – (recipes created by Fiona at Food 4 Thought).

cake – makes 1 x 20cm cake
120g whole almonds (skin on)
50g hazelnuts
20g unsweetened shredded coconut
40g coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch ground salt
40g raw cacao powder
100g coconut cream
50g coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30g raw honey
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan-forced).  Line a 20cm round cake time with baking paper.

Place almonds, hazelnuts and coconut into TM bowl and chop for 10 seconds on speed 7.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and add coconut sugar, bicarb soda, salt and cacao powder.  Mix for 5 seconds on speed 4.  Add remaining ingredients and mix for 5 seconds on speed 4.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into prepared tin and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Test that the cake is cooked in the centre by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick.  If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Cool in tin for 5 minutes then cool on wire rack.

My tips: *Don’t over bake this cake or it will go slightly dry.  *Once you have iced and decorated the cake, it is best kept in the fridge and will keep for up to a week.  *You can switch the nuts for whatever you have or prefer.  If you don’t want to use coconut milk, you can substitute almond milk.

“ganache” icing – makes approximately ½ cup
100g unsweetened chocolate (you can use non-dairy), broken into small pieces
100g coconut cream
30g raw honey or maple syrup

Place all ingredients into TM bowl and cook at 70°C for 3 minutes on speed 2.  Remove from bowl and set aside to cool for 10 – 15 minutes until thickens slightly.

Pour approximately half icing over the top of the cake and use a spatula to gently push over edges.  If icing doesn’t stick to the sides of the cake place it (the icing) in the fridge for 5 minutes to thicken a little more then try again.  You should be able to cover the top and the sides of the cake completely.

My tips: *If you have any “ganache” left over you can put it into mini chocolate moulds.  Then when you need a chocolate hit you can have some healthy chocolate :).

raw coconut cashew hearts – makes approximately 20 hearts
200g unsweetened shredded coconut
50g cashew nuts
60 – 100g raw honey (depending on hoy sweet you like them)

Line a 22cm square cake tin with baking paper.  Place all ingredients into TM bowl and blend for 30 seconds on speed 8.  Scrape around sides of bowl, and pour into prepared tin.  Moisten hands slightly and press into an even layer.  This will be quite thin.  You can also use a solid based glass to create a smooth top.  Place in fridge to set (about 20 minutes) then remove from tray and cut into desired shapes.

You can use these as decorations or to eat on their own as a “sweet treat”.  Store in an air tight container in the fridge for several weeks.

My tips: *You can roll these into balls if you prefer.  *These will keep for ages, unless you eat them as quick as we do :)   *Change the nuts to your preference, although if I was using a harder nut (such as almonds) I would grind them on their own for 8 – 10 seconds then add everything else and continue as per recipe.

ease: 8.5/10.  Individually these are easy, and the whole thing isn’t too difficult
prep time: 30 minutesFor all three.
cooking time: 30 minutes 

total: 60 minutes.

taste: 8/10 (on average) From G and other friends who tested it for me. Personally I would say 9/10 from me.  For a healthy cake I loved it.  The “ganache” was silky and delicious, just sweet enough to balance the dark rich flavour of the cake.  The hearts are sweet and have a distinct honey flavour.  When used as a decoration they are the perfect balance for the dark chocolate flavour of the cake.  The good thing is that you only need a small piece to be satisfied :) .

would I make it again:  Yes, I think I will use it as a base and try a few different things.  Let me know if you do the same.

Recipe inspiration:
Paleo chocolate cake
Chocolate ganache
Coconut cashew delights – Rawlicious cookbook by Thermomix in Australia