Sharing Meals is Sharing Life.

What’s for dinner at your house tonight?

 

Variety is the spice of life, right?!  When it seems like you are so restricted with meal choices due to allergies, choice of lifestyle or whatever your story is you have to get creative. We eat pretty similar week in week out but no meal is ever exactly the same. Tuesdays are ‘Taco Tuesday’s’ always have been. Every Tuesday we’d sit up with our mince, salads, taco shells, salsa….the usual. Until one week I just couldn’t do it anymore, I think I’d spent the weekend feasting on beef, beef and more beef so I decided to make every week different. Pretty sure my husband has a love/hate relationship with Tuesdays as he knows he’s getting Taco’s but how he is left in the dark until he walks through the door.

I use the same homemade spice mix every week but I make sure I change the meat, the vegetables and the flavourings of salsa’s, guacamole, kefir cream and fermented vegetables.

Some weeks we have a whole chicken, ground turkey, chicken mince, lamb, pork ribs, fish…..this week and by far my favourite meat and style is pulled pork. It’s in the oven for the day and I come home to a fragrant Mexican smelling house, run a fork through the meat, chop the vegetables and whammo (as my daughter says) we have dinner.

Pulled Pork

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1-2 kg of Pork Shoulder
1 tbsp smoked paprika (get a really red vibrant one, the smokey flavour is the best)
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 cup of tomato paste
1 tbsp Rice Malt Syrup/ Honey or Maple
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup Bone Broth

First prepare the meat.
Use a sharp knife to cut the fat from the meat (keep it as you can make crackle and rendered fat for cooking)

Mix the spices with the sweetener of choice and tomato paste.
Massage the meat with the paste and leave overnight or for as long as you have time. No time, no worries.

If you have a slow cooker pop into slow cooker with the broth and set to low for 6 hours.

If you’re using the oven set the temp to 130, add pork and broth to crock pot and slow roast for 6 hours.

‘Fork the Pork’ by dragging a fork through the meat and it will literally just fall apart.

Mix the meat around the pot with the juices.

I add some fresh oregano and tomatoes at the end and pop the lid back on so the tomatoes cook slightly and explode when you  cut into them or eat them.

pulled pork

Served in lettuce cups or gluten-free tortillas of taco shells. Recipe for tortilla’s coming soon.

 

 

 

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Easter Feaster

We don’t indulge in a lot of sweets (although I do share a lot of recipes) and rarely crave sugar. The natural sugars we consume come from fruits, but after being sugar free for sometime I rarely crave the sweet stuff and find that my ‘treats’ are really not that sweet. With commercial retailers and big supermarkets refusing to adapt a real food approach for kids, I cook everything for my daughter.

This week being Easter and leading up to a weekend with relatives that don’t have dietary requirements it’s important to me that she doesn’t feel like she is missing out and that she doesn’t feel like the others are doing something she is ‘not allowed’ to do. So we have started our week with some easter treats.

 

Buckwheat Cinnamon Maple Drop Scones

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Forgot to include cinnamon in the ingredients…….
Add 1 tsp to the mix.

Buckwheat is packed with protein is grain-free and a good carbohydrate. Often people avoid any binding agent and use banana and eggs as they are afraid of carbohydrates in their diet. I soak my flours to remove any phytic acid but I also buy the best quality baking goods too.

Maple Syrup is not a refined sugar although I don’t recommend guzzling it nor adding it to everything if you have a sweet tooth. It is a small amount to add to this and as your palate changes you’ll use less and less. I don’t add fruits to these as I want them to keep without having to freeze.

 

Add  little superfoods if you want (maca, chia, camu camu etc)

 

 

All week I will be sharing recipes that I make for my family that suit the Easter theme yet are healthier than commercial options that you could use anytime for the family when time comes for a sweet indulgence.

Enjoy time with family and friends by being prepared for any social event. Offer to take a salad, meats, slice, savoury snacks. It’s a great way to contribute to the occasion and it also covers you and family without it being too obvious. And who knows, everyone else will probably taste your foods and think they are amazing and you may persuade someone over Easter to drop the CRAP and eat REAL FOOD.

 

Food to Warm the Heart

As the cooler months set in here it’s time to break out the curries, stews and soups. There is nothing better than a nutritious curry that offers a balance of fats, carbs and protein whilst also providing anti inflammatory powers and gut healing.
My chicken curry is a household favourite in winter and gets better as the days go by. It basically becomes a weekly fridge staple.

Chicken Curry

 

curry

Make in a hurry to have in time for dinner or pop in the slow cooker for the day so it’s ready when you get home after a busy day.

 

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

700 grams free range Chicken (breasts and thighs) cut into squares
2 Carrots sliced

1 Zucchini sliced

1 Eggplant diced

1/2 doz Okra pods whole or sliced

½ Cauliflower –cut into large floret bunches

10-20 long green beans

200ml of Bone Broth

200ml thick Coconut Cream

1 Bunch of Coriander to serve

 

 

Curry Paste (I make up the dry ingredients and keep in a jar to use all year round)

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp turmeric powder (or grated fresh turmeric)

½ tsp ground coriander seeds

1 tsp grated ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

6 cardamom pods smashed
5-10 activated cashews
½ tsp Himalayan salt

A few grinds of pepper

½ tsp chilli (I used fermented chilli sauce)
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Pre heat oven to 150c for a slow cook or set slow cooker to low

 

In a food processor, whiz up the Curry paste.
In a cast iron pan, put paste in and heat on high until aromatic (I find this releases the flavours of the spices.
Add Coconut oil & Chicken pieces and toss to cover in paste and seal
Add Bone broth and bring to simmer

Add all vegetables but Zucchini and Beans and Okra

If cooking to eat now…..

Simmer for 20 mins  (liquid will reduce a little)

Add remaining vegetables and simmer for 10 mins
Turn heat off, add coconut cream

For slow cooker and oven…..

Add all veggies but Zucchini, Beans and Okra

Add Coconut Cream
Pop lid on pot and cook in oven for 3 hours or slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours

After the time is up turn off heat, add remaining vegetables and leave lid on for 20 minutes.
Serve with coriander and fermented chillies on a bed of zoodles, spaghetti squash or sweet potato spirals. Or enjoy as is.
This makes the best royal breakfast too. There will be plenty to feed a family of 5 or smaller with leftovers.

Let’s talk versatile vegetable

okra

Image credit to  http://www.physiology.wisc.edu/

 

Okra’s are cool. They look weird, they cut into cute shapes with patterns and once they get some cooking they turn into something out of this world….and let’s not forget how amazingly nutritious they are. But first what is an okra? Of course it is a vegetable (if you’re interested in the amazing power of the Okra please read)

 

I first met an okra years ago living in Melbourne when I decided that I wanted to spice the kitchen up with some different kind of vegetables and from studying alternative medicine I found that it would help with what was wrong with me at the time. I wasn’t a fan of the Okra, I’ll be honest.
Then at the end of last year I met them again and was determined to find dishes that the family would love and either love the okra part or not even know they were in there.

For such a small little vegetable they are quite versatile. You can slice, cook whole, fry, bake, add to soups, stews, stir-fry’s and curries. You see; Okra’s are very popular in Indian cuisine and Southern American cooking. They have this unbelievable capability to gelatinise and thicken liquids (hence fabulous for soups and curries). I started adding them to my dishes unnoticed and it didn’t bother me. I crumbed in nuts and seeds and fried; they were nice. But I was still determined to create a meal that was fresh and tasty so I could say that it is a vegetable I use on all platforms of my eating lifestyle.

Mixed with a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, with different seasonings and fresh citrus, you can love Okra too.

Introducing Okra salads….. different, great, versatile.

Grilled Vegetable Okra Salad

A doz Okra pods sliced
2 Zucchini’s cut into 1 cm cubes
½ Eggplant cut into 1 cm cubes –keep other half for next nights curry 😉
2 red chillies finely diced– seeds optional
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Himalayan salt and black pepper to season
Sauce

2 tsp fish sauce – check the ingredients of the brand you buy
2 tsp of Tamari or coconut aminos
1 tsp  100% maple syrup – or like sweetener
Bunch of mixed herbs (we love basil and mint)
Juice of 1 whole Lime

Toss Zucchini and Eggplant in Coconut oil and chopped chillies, season with salt and pepper.

Grill on BBQ or Bake in hot oven at 180c until soft and tender

Meanwhile make dressing…

Combine all ingredients but herbs in a jar with a lid and shake until the sauce turns opaque.

Let vegetables cool slightly

To a bowl add okra, vegetables, dressing and herbs.
Toss and eat.

Try a sprinkle of crushed nuts on the top (almonds, pecans, walnuts)

 

 

RAW Okra Salad

A doz okra pods sliced
1 Bunch of coriander
1 Cucumber cubed
2 sticks of celery sliced
1 Zucchini ribboned with peeler
1 Cold roasted beetroot cubed

Walnuts to serve

 

Dressing

Juice of 1 Lime
A few drops of sesame oil
¼ cup of macadamia oil
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
½ cup mint leaves
2 stevia leaves torn (or 1 tsp maple syrup – or like sweetner)
Combine salad
Mix dressing in a jar and pour over salad mix
Either eat fresh or let sit with the dressing for 5-10 and enjoy

 

Try different vegetables. I add Avocado and Tomato, Capsicum and Kale. Whatever is in season.

Mix a pesto through your salads, add eggs, nuts, prawns and chicken. Get creative and get the family involved. There’s nothing more encouraging than a kid that eats what they have created.

 

 

 

Now I’m off to ferment some Okra and I may even try to dehydrate the little fingers.

 

Handy Info; Did you know that okra is a rich source of beta-carotene, B-Complex vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and sodium? It is an very hydrating food due to its rich electrolyte content and it helps preserve the body’s balance of fluids which is necessary for nerve impulse transmission. The pectin in okra is known to lower blood cholesterol levels. (Great for runners like me)

 my images to come

Beet Kvass

I have always wanted to make Kvass but the thought of fermented beets turned me off. I made the first batch for my mum who is used to kefir and asked me about liver detoxifying and needing a pick me up. I’m not a huge beet eater (to be honest I have eaten one in along time because of the fructan content) but I grow them and thought why better way to experiment with a food introduction than by having it fermented.

I have read Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions
many times and love her traditional simple foods that are all based on real foods.

I made my first batch according to Sally’s recipe and then used the same beets for a second batch.

The taste was not what I expected. I thought the taste would’ve been similar to the canned beets (why I don’t know) but I was pleasantly surprised by the sour yet salty yet sweet beet taste.
I’m yet to rule out the fructan factor and I’m currently researching the possibility of introducing more kvass into my diet.

Use kvass as a salad dressing, in soups, and juices or smoothies. The benefits are that of lacto fermented vegetables but offers an alternative in liquid form. As Sally says

This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

I kept some of the liquid to use to kick start a new batch of beets.

<u>My Recipe

You’ll Need:
2 litre mason jar
Fine strainer & cheesecloth (to strain whey from kefir)
Vegetable peeler
Sharp knife

Ingredients:

3 medium or 2 large organic beets, peeled and chopped up coarsely
1/4 cup whey (To make this recipe dairy/casein free, omit it and just use 4 teaspoons of salt instead of 2 or if you have kefir or kombucha use some of that)
2 teaspoons sea salt
filtered water

Preparation:

Place beets, whey and salt in a 2 litre glass container (or two 1 litres) . Add filtered water to fill the container. Stir well and cover securely. Keep at room temperature for 2-3 days before transferring to refrigerator.

When you are down to almost the last bit refill the glass jar and leave at room temperature for another 2-3 days ( it will be not as strong)
After this batch discard beets and start a new, you can reserve some of the liquid for a new starter instead of whey.

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Give your health a Natural Boost

maca (1 of 1)

Maca Powder is  derived from the root of the maca plant, which is from native to the central Peruvian Andes in South America. Inhabitants of the Andes are rumoured to have used this plant for its supposed fertility-enhancing properties for generations. Some say it has the ability to increase energy and mental clarity, restore hormone imbalances and enhance sex drive. Add to smoothies, juices or a glass of water for a hormone balancing hit.

 

cacao nibs (1 of 1)

Raw Cacao Nibs  have been linked to having cardiovascular health benefits and is a great source of antioxidants and magnesium. Mix with nuts and goji berries for a trail mix, add to baking, top of smoothies or just pick a few to eat.

 

pumpkin seeds (1 of 1)

Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas)  are great for urinary issues. They help the kidneys and are an all round nutrient rich seed. The easiest way to boost you and your children’s iron intake is to sprinkle more pumpkin seeds into a stir-fry or onto salads.

 

kale (1 of 1)

Kale is a delicious green leafy vegetable that is so versatile. It’s known for it’s fibre, 45 different flavonoids that combines antioxidants and anti-inflammatory powers  to assist the body in detoxification. Massage leaves with a nutrient rich oil and use in salad, dehydrate or bake for chips or shred and add to soups, stir fries and every dish you can.
Choose between this and spinach in a green smoothie a few times a week.

 

ginger_turmeric (1 of 1)

Ginger is a great additive into any asian dish for its flavour alone. The benefits of ginger include digestive issues, nausea, inflammation and to help fight virus. Turmeric is a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory goodness. It helps relieve tooth aches, urinary problems, arthritis, stomach aches causing flatulence. It is also high in manganese and iron. These two herbs combined with cinnamon make the best cleansing and anti-inflammatory tea. Check my Instagram post for recipe.

Use some of these in your meals this week to add more nutrients and take another step forward to improving your families health