Recipe of the Day

Roast Pumpkin and Vegetable Soup

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Sarah Craven Photography

 

I love Pumpkin Soup, but I can’t tolerate a lot of pumpkin at once so I decided to adjust my traditional recipe and it’s safe to say that I got a big TICK of approval from the family.

1 butternut pumpkin or pumpkin of preferred choice (I had no issue with butternut this time round)

1 large sweet potato

1 large zucchini

1 large carrot

12 okra

½  Daikon

1-2 Tbsp Cumin

1 Tbsp Turmeric

750ml bone broth

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 180c
Pop Pumpkin and sweet potato in whole

Leave to roast for 40 mins.
When sweet potato’s skin is oozing take out. When the pumpkin starts to split, turn and roast a little while longer. (alternatively you can peel and chop and roast)

 

Once roasted, cool, peel and chop.

On the stove top; pop in a cast iron pot with zucchini and carrot and daikon.

Heat through and add spices.
Add broth and bring to boil.
Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add okra and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until okra change colour and start to fall apart. Let cool slightly.
Either use hand mixer or pour into blender and blend until smooth.

I served mine with some oven baked free-range bacon bits and coconut cream kefir.

 

Enjoy your day

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Have your cake and eat it too

Someone asked me if I miss cake the other day. I was never a big cake fan but the day that I was told I couldn’t eat it, I wanted it, of course. Then when my digestive system flares up and Candida decides to flourish I do want to fall into a pile of cake and chocolate and let’s not even go near stressful times. When ‘Paleo’ arrived and Gluten, Sugar and Dairy Free became the BOMB I will admit I stood on the diving board and ‘horsied’ my way into a multitude of Paleofied treats, who wouldn’t. Now I enjoy the occasional cake or slice, I love raw treats best and so does my family and friends so I give them away a lot.

Most recently when completing my final food editorial folio for my other passion photography, I wanted to showcase my ability in providing alternatives in the ‘sweet’ department. So I delved into the archives and found some old favourites and added some new things to make them I guess more ‘healthy’.

 

Carrot Cake

High in protein, nutritious, anti-inflammatory and just the right amount of sweet. Soaking the carrots means you don’t have to add the doz dates as you would to a normally ‘sugar free’ cake.

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Pre-Heat oven to 180c

1/2 doz medium sized carrots-grated
1/2 cup 100% maple syrup
(learnt this step recently, combine above and soak in fridge overnight)

1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup walnuts (activated is best)
1/3 cup macadamia nuts or any others (I added pepita’s to the above one too)

8 eggs
80ml maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup liquid form of coconut oil

Combine dry ingredients and stir.
Add wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.
Fold in carrot to dry mix then add the egg mixture.

Choose your tin. I love loaf tins for every kind of cake, makes cutting easier great for a smaller portion than a wedge of a round cake.
Line with baking paper.
Pour mixture in and bake for 45 minutes. Check centre as you do with all cakes, if the skewer comes out clean, winner!!!

I topped mine with plain 100% coconut cream and activated Walnuts and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.

 

Choco Brownie Cookies

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I made these as I had almond pulp from making mylk and some leftover ready-made family supermix from travelling to use up and it was our ‘unbirthday’ so it required some baking.

 

Pre-Heat oven to 180c

Dry Ingredients

1 Cup Blanched Almond Flour
1/3 Coconut Flour
1/4 tsp salt
½ Cup Raw Cacao (or you could use Carob powder)

Supermix (you can use whatever you have)

½ tsp slippery elm
¼ liquorice root powder
1 tsp Maca powder
1 tsp Spirulina

 

Wet Ingredients

¼ Cup Almond Mylk (soak 1 cup almonds in water overnight, drain and rinse, pop in blender with 3 cups of water and whizz for a good 5 mins. Strain, (reserve pulp and dehydrate that for almond flour) add cinnamon, vanilla essence and a pinch of salt and blend again)

1 Tbsp chia egg

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup tahini (toast 2 cups of sesame seeds in a dry frypan- unhulled is tops but hulled is great too-pop in food processor and turn on high until a smooth paste is formed)

2 Tbsp 100% Maple Syrup

 

Method
Add flours and ‘supermix’ to a bowl with chia, coconut oil, maple syrup and tahini.

Add Almond mylk until your mix is a doughie consistency (you may need the whole ¼ cup)
Leave to side for 10 mins so the coconut flour and chia activate.

 

While that’s happening grab your best-branded DARK high quality and cacao chocolate (like Bright Chocolate) smash the block with a rolling pin. Better yet, grab the kids, so much fun!

DO NOT PUT IN A BAG AND SMASH IT. BAGS BREAK-CHOCOLATE EVERYWHERE

DO NOT USE HOMEMADE RAW CHOCOLATE, I DID, I LEARNT MY LESSON….COCONUT OIL MELTS!

Add 60g to dough (more if you’re a generous person but remember you are trying to be good)

Line baking tray and spoon mixture in the size you like (we go 50 cent pieces so they last longer than five minutes)
Bake for 10 mins. Stay close by the oven though as the bottom can cook quickly…then again my oven is over 50 years old and burns the bottom of oven trays so it could just be my oven. Don’t over cook though or the cacao can burn.

Leave to cool before eating.

 

I am going to be adding more of my personal recipes for treats. With winter upon us it’s far too tempting to make a hot choc or chai and hook into a sweet treat to keep us warm. Better it be ‘healthier’ than full of numbers and words you can’t pronounce.

Enjoy your weekend

 

 

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Lunch Alternatives

Do you buy alternatives to gluten? Wraps, breads, rice cakes etc? I don’t want to disappoint you, as they are the one alternative most people clasp when they choose or have to go GF but please take a close look at what you are actually eating. Wraps, breads, and rice cakes all contain artificial ingredients, yes they say ‘preservative and additive free’ but I’m sorry to say that’s a total pack of lies. Yes they are not the deadliest of substitutes but please do yourself and your family a favour and instead of counting calories count the chemicals and read the ingredients not just the nutritional label.

There are far better options out there and far healthier alternatives. Eggs make a great substitute for anything ‘bread’ wise. They are a little package of fats, protein and you can do so much with the little fella’s.
We got creative this week and made a quick and easy ‘wrap’ buy simply making an omelette. I let it cool, added some chicken, cucumber, avocado and red grapes and it was delicious.

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Think outside the box when substituting.

 

Fermentation Debate

I always over promise things but to be honest I lost the research and citation I had on the topic of wild vs cultured fermentation and it has taken me a while to find where I was at the time and what I wanted to get across.

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Sarah Craven Photography

Do you ferment vegetables? Drinks?
Have you heard people talk about Kimchi, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, Kombucha, Whey, Kvass? Are you wondering what all the craze is and why people are using these words and swapping grains and SCOBY’s?

It’s called Lacto-Fermentation:
Lactic acid is a natural preservative it inhibits the growth of harmful,  bacteria. Fermentation has travelled through cultures for years as it allowed people to preserve foods for extended periods of time before the advent of refrigeration or canning.
Lactic acid also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. That is why lacto-fermented foods are considered probiotic foods. (Probiotic means “for life”.)

The process and science behind lacto-fermentation is amazing and it is where it first had me hooked (inner geek).  You see lactobacillus (from a prepared culture, fresh whey, or just naturally occurring) plus sugar (naturally present in vegetables and fruits), plus a little salt, minus oxygen (anaerobic process), plus time, equal lactic acid fermentation. How cool? How complex? Let’s cut to the chase.

Why have people started on the fermented foods?

Nearly every person I meet has a topical, digestive issue. Thyroid’s are very popular, candida’s population could inhabit 10 of our worlds plus venus, mars and pluto….get my drift?! Doctors have been prescribing antibiotics, cortisone creams for as long as I can remember. Now remember that I speak from personal experience only, I love doctors, nurses, the medical profession is needed but for me I abused it and it’s resources. Most people who I suggest lacto-fermentation to have one or more of the following;

  • Signs of intestinal or systemic Candida overgrowth
  • An immune system that has lost its balance—with signs of allergies or autoimmune disease
  • An inflamed and leaky gut
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Multiple food sensitivities
  • Mood or behavioural disorders
  • Skin rashes, eczema, or acne
  • Antibiotic overuse

But with everything in life there are road blocks, there are caution signs. Lacto-fermented foods are kind of like a really good block of chocolate. You eat a small piece you feel great, you eat the whole block you feel like a warrior for 3 minutes then curl in a ball and cry wondering why you went so far and delving into the seven deadly sins over the following 48 hours.

So it brings me to how much and when?!

For a regular person that presents with no real issues and wants to boost their immune system and jump on the ferment train (wooo wooo) then I say for WILD! Wild fermentation is wonderful. Using whey, kefir grains, kombucha scoby’s, salt only is a special process. We reproduce all our Wild cultures and love how we can share our ‘babies’ around. So check my recipes and make some. Find a person locally that can supply you with a SCOBY and grains or contact me personally.

Now for the rest of us WILD can be more bad than good. I started the lacto-fermentation process in a WILD way and I went backwards quickly. What I thought was going to be the answer to my prayers was a nightmare. You see, people with damaged ecosystems need more than what wild culture has to offer and in order to repair the damage caused by antibiotics, sweet additives and preservatives in foods and a poor diet in general.
By using a starter culture to begin with you can start to repair the damage. Starter cultures help the fermentation phase by limiting cause for contamination, help nourish and grow the right bacteria and yeast needed to build your ecosystem.

So why not just take a tablet?!
Think of over probiotic supplements as a sleeping biotic. They are not LIVE and do not act immediately. They are also manufactured in a laboratory and contain a lot more than a million lactobacillus. Wild and cultured probiotic’s are alive and naturally beneficial. 

So where do you start and what do you look for?!

I don’t endorse any brand, I don’t think any brand is better but what I can say is what to look for in a starter culture.
Look for these ingredients;  Sugar (as a carrier), active lactic bacteria (lactobacillus plantarum, leuconostoc mesenteroides and pediococcus acidilactici) anything else that is listed move right along.
Beware of prepackaged fermented drinks and yoghurt too. Always look at the ingredients. If you see numbers, agave, long words that don’t match the above then don’t use it. You will end up feeding the buggers that are causing all the problems rather than nourishing and repairing.

Above all else speak to a body ecologist if you have inner ecosystem issues. Don’t go it alone either. Find a cultured community and work together, cook together and share your cultures.

I will holding classes locally this month for beginners offering a nurturing approach to lacto-fermentation and how to nourish your body.

 

 

Bone Broth for Winter Immunity

We all know the power of bones and the nutrients that are so beneficial for us, right?! Well if you don’t you should read up on it and really get to know good bones in our animal produce.
I’m lucky in the country to source our meats and bones through trusted farmers and butchers so I know where they are coming from and with how they are raised.
Pasture fed meat and bones are very important to me. No 1 because I love animals and believe that they should be treated well whether their purpose is to fatten them for killing (after all The Lion King taught us the circle of life) but also because as a meat eater I care about what meat I eat and know that what chickens, cows, sheep, ducks and pigs eat affect their health and in turn their meat and then me.

This is an old recipe but it’s failsafe and I can’t share it enough as it has been a big game changer in my health.

One way we nourish our bodies and build defence against overgrowth as well as eliminating inflammation, cleansing our system and establish building blocks for ultimate health is through bone broth. Wonderful gelatinous goodness that I strongly suggest adding to your lifestyle NOW. Add it to every meal you can, add it to your daily diet, especially now winter is coming you want to build a strong temple.

My two favourite recipes:

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Chicken Bone Broth (in the slow cooker)

Either a cooked chicken carcass (we roast a chicken a week)
Chicken necks, wings, feet (raw)

A couple of carrots chopped
Onion chopped (optional of course we are an onion free house)
Green Beans
Kale, Spinach, Cabbage (the left overs that haven’t gone to compost or whats left in the fridge)

1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (this helps bring all the goodness out of the bones and into the broth)
2 tsp Himalayan Salt
Herbs of choice (bay leaf, oregano, thyme, basil)

Water (filtered preferably)

Put everything in the slow cooker, set to low and leave for 24-36 hours (yes that long)
Strain the Broth and leave to cool.
Depending on the collagen from the bones your broth can turn to jelly (this is good, very good)
Add Great Lakes Gelatin if you like (buy from here)
Portion and freeze

 

Beef Bone Broth (two steps)

Buy your bones from the butcher. If you’ve got a good butcher they’ll give them to you for nothing
Roast the bones for 3 hours at 180
Transfer to slow cooker

Just as above add a few veggies, herbs, ACV, water

Cook on Low for 24-36 hours and strain, cool and jar up!

 

We freeze ours in recycled jars of different sizes. We have it with our meals  as a drink, we make soups, gravies, stews, casseroles. Anything we can. My daughter loves a cup of broth with her lunch. I love broth an egg and lacto-fermented veggies….so nourishing.

 

Best thing about broth, you just leave it to do its thing and then reap the benefits.
Try some this week, it will truly change your life!

Keep eating real food!

Soups

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Sarah Craven Photography

I have been looking forward to the cold weather. I’m a winter baby, I love a heart meal but this year in particular I’m excited because I’m a new me. A fitter, healthier version of what I was last year. I’ve learnt from previous winter mistakes of overindulging, excusing one meal, punishing myself through a workout, detoxing after a week of fructose hell to now not having one fall back nor craving of need to ‘carb up’ smash a desert or finish that bottle of red.

A great way to stay nourished and build your immune system is to make sure you are ritually drinking good quality bone broth, eating wholesome fermented foods and downing a daily probiotic.

Let’s start the cold snap with soup. A warming Indian spiced (inspired by Pete Evans Paleo Chef) Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup.

Take 1 Whole Cauliflower and cut florets
Peel and chop 1 Large or two medium Sweet Potatoes

Pop in a roasting tray with a couple of Tbsp of coconut oil.

Pop in 180c (350f) oven

In a food processor, grinder or mortar and pestle add lightly toasted a Pete a Evans Garam Masala Spice Mix;

Take 1/3 of it and add to cauliflower and sweet potato in oven. Continue to roast until veggies are tender or can be stabbed and not cling to the knife.

Heat 750 ml broth in pot and add veggies and another 1/3 of spice mix, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp black pepper.

Simmer on low until veggies break apart.

Blitz with hand beater

Serve with Krispy Turmeric Kale chips and extra roasted cauliflower and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.

Autumn and Winter Eating

You’ve got to be a warm-blooded human if you like to eat just salad’s during winter. Let’s admit it….we’d all love a big bowl of spaghetti or a stew or casserole or a warming soup, and why not; it’s getting colder outside and you need to nourish your body, feed your cravings and build some good blood warming immunity for the next few months.

My Pack-A-Punch Chicken Meatballs fulfils all the above and more. The kids will love it, the family will and it is great for breakfast, lunches the next day and you can jazz it up any which way.

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Sarah Craven Photography 2014

Meatballs
500g Chicken Mince (i do stress for it to be free range/pasture raised, chemical free as the effects of eating other chicken is not worth it especially if you are a woman)
200g Chicken Livers
50g Sun-dried tomatoes (we buy non-marinated freshly dried from our local deli or make our own)
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup activated walnuts
1 Tbsp chia seeds
big bunch of basil leaves
2 Tbsp coconut oil

Sauce
1 cup bone broth
1 Tbsp ACV
6 medium tomatoes roughly chopped (we love roma to make sauces here)
2 Tbsp Tomato paste
1 cup Brussel sprouts
1 doz okra’s
salt and pepper to season

*Depending on what you are serving this on we add 1 sweet potato cubed, 1 carrot cubed and 1 zucchini cubed.

Add all the meatball ingredients apart from mince into the food processor.
Pulse until it forms a pesto like paste
Add to mince and combine
Roll into small balls and place in freezer (the freezer will activate the chia and set the meatballs so they won’t fall apart when cooked)

Bring broth to a simmer
Add tomato paste and stir
Add chopped tomatoes and whole Brussel sprouts
*add other vegetables from above
Simmer for 20 minutes
Add meatballs straight from freezer and cook for further 15 mins on low
Add Okra and turn off heat, place a lid on pot and leave until ready to eat.

Serve on zoodles, sweet potato spirals, carrot spirals, cauliflower rice or gluten-free pasta.

Steam some iron rich silver beat that is amazing in season at the moment and top with some fermented chillies, homemade pesto and meatballs.
Add to a pan a few ladles of meatballs 1/2 doz eggs and bake at 180c until set.

This is such a versatile meal that you double quantities and eat all week.