Healthy + Simple + Delicious + Easy Recipes

Quinoa… the writing is on the wall

When does an obscure emerging superfood become mainstream? When it’s the subject of graffiti of course. It seems (that in Birmingham at least) quinoa is the food of the people.

Quinoa is a great pseudo grain that is a fabulous source of vitamins and protein.

For more than 4,000 years quinoa was cultivated in the mountainous regions of Eastern South America… it has taken the rest of the world a long time to discover this amazing and delicious energy source. Find out more about Quinoa here >>>

If you need to find out how to easily cook quinoa check out the back to basics recipe here and just in case you’re a tosser here are instructions for you LOL.

Quinoa Graffitti

Keep cooking real food 😛

Is your gut bacteria making you ill? Part 2

Make sure you watch the second part of Catalyst’s special Gut Reaction. In this episode Dr Graham Phillips looks into new research into the interplay between the food we eat and the health of the bacteria in our guts. This new area of research is fascinating – especially to me having had Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) in the past.

Watch it now

Watch part 2 on ABC iView and get your head around this amazing breakthrough in heath research – then add a bunch of fibre to your diet :) (the transcript of this episode is also available at this link).

ABC Catalyst Gut Reaction Part 2

If you haven’t already seen part one you can find it here >>>

 

Recipe: Ceci’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (Gluten free + Refined sugar free + Dairy free + Soy free)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
When you first start dealing with a bunch of allergies, it can be devastating to find out that most of the commercially made chocolates are off the table. Milk and sugar are always standard in store bought chocolate, but gluten and soy have made their way into most processed foods.

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are incredibly popular with my clan. Even my very fussy niece gobbles these up whenever she can.

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
(Gluten free + Refined sugar free + Dairy free + Soy free)

Makes roughly 25 chocolate cups

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup chunky natural peanut butter*
1/2 cup coco or cacao powder
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup**
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (not cinnamon sugar)
a pinch of sea salt (only if your peanut butter is unsalted)

*the peanut butter has to be natural peanut butter not the normal supermarket kind. Using ‘ordinary’ peanut butter will result in greasy chocolates. Check the ‘health food’ section of your supermarket or get some natural peanut butter from a health food store. I personally love Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter.

**when it comes to the sugar in this recipe you can do any proportion of the two sugars… 3 tablespoons of coconut sugar (crunchier) or 3 tablespoons of maple syrup (more caramel flavour). It’s up to you.

WHAT TO DO
In a medium sized bowl place all of the ingredients. If it is a cold day and the coconut oil is still solid you can place the bowl over another bowl or a shallow sink of warm water. As soon as it is melted mix well and spoon into small cup cake papers that are laid out on a tray.
Cover the tray with cling film and leave them to set in the fridge or freezer.
Eat them cold and enjoy healthy and delicious chocolate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
These chocolates will return to liquid at room temperature – if they do, you can just pop them back into the fridge and they will set again.

The only down side with these chocolates is that you can’t take them on the go with you… I’m sure you could get out your esky and some ice packs if you’re really desperate.

Enjoy healthy eating 🙂

Is your gut bacteria making you ill? Mine was…

It was only a few years ago that the idea of gut bacteria affecting our health was considered fringe science. However, a 3 years ago I was diagnosed with a Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (also known as SIBO) and my health changed dramatically (for the better) after treating it.

Catalyst has taken on the issue in a two-part report aptly titled Gut Reaction, exploring how the food we eat can affect the bacteria in our guts. Taking it one step further, they also investigate the potential influence gut bacteria may have on diseases like depression, heart disease, Multiple Sclerosis, asthma, cancer, allergies, arthritis and autism etc.

Watch it now

Watch part 1 on ABC iView and get your head around this amazing breakthrough in heath research – then add a bunch of fibre to your diet 🙂

ABC Catalyst Gut Reaction Part 1

I will post a link to Part 2 when it airs next week.

Quinoa (Instructions For Tossers)

With a bit of a backlash against gluten free individuals and a rash of phony allergy sufferers out there muddying the water for the truly allergic, there is a new brand of humour on the horizon. It seems that bagging out the dietarily challenged is the new black.

I do love this one though… Quinoa (Instructions For Tossers) LOL. Funnily enough, Jane the author isn’t anti-quinoa at all, she eats it all the time. She made up this packet for a friend to get a laugh and it went viral.

Regardless of your allergy or health status, the best medicine in life is to laugh. Cheers Jane for the chuckle.

Quinoa (Instructions For Tossers) @janeprinsep

This was posted by Jane Prinsep on her blog and you can follow her on twitter.

Now go and make some quinoa 🙂 Here are the polite instructions and also some information about quinoa and why it’s sooo good for you.

Superfoods-Quinoa

Recipe: Celebrity Chef Manu cooks smoked Mackerel with tomato and olives (Video)

When we think of French food we imagine heavy sauces and rich dishes that are out of reach for anyone with a dairy allergy. I was pleasantly surprised to see celebrity chef Manu Feildel (on Sunrise) cook up a beautiful, simple and fresh fish meal that I could actually eat.

This simple recipe is gluten free + dairy free + egg free + nut free and is a really good example of how cooking simply with fresh ingredients makes it much easier to eat allergy free.

Watch Manu prepare smoked Mackerel with tomato and olives (and then make your own with just about any kind of fish).

Manu Feildel is a French chef, living in Australia, most widely known for his participation in Australia’s cookery competition programs Ready Steady Cook, MasterChef Australia and My Kitchen Rules. You can follow Manu on Twitter.

What does NATURAL really mean when marketing food?

This video ‘The Natural Effect’ is brilliant. Using humour to bring to light the deception in food labelling… watch it and do your own research but at the very least question the labels on your food. Better still, make sure your diet is mostly made up of foods that don’t have any labels (fruit, veg + lean meats).

“Your product may contain growth hormones and antibiotics, just throw the word natural on there and add a picture of a barn…”

Take the time to research the food you’re eating. This video was sourced from Only Organic, check out their website for more information about organic food.

Food for thought!

Got a craving? Just play TETRIS

Battle Food Cravings by playing TETRIS

 

When you find out that you’re allergic to a bunch of your favourite foods the struggle with cravings begins. I don’t always win the battle and eventually pay the price. It seems that distraction is king! A Plymouth University study recently found that Tetris proved an effective distraction to food cravings… as seen in Body+Soul magazine.

The World Health Organiztion’s is weighing in on sugar

6 Teaspoons of Sugar a Day
Sugar is a difficult mistress. We know it’s bad for us be we keep going back for more. Now the World Health Organization (WHO) is weighing in, releasing a draft guideline recommending sugar make up less than 5% of total calorie intake.

Since 2002 the recommendation has been 10% and this recent shift at a global level is indicative of the wide-ranging negative effects of sugar on the human body.

So how much sugar is 5% of your recommended daily calorie intake? For an adult with a normal body mass index they recommend 25 grams of sugar per day, that’s not a lot.

25g of sugar = 6 teaspoons of sugar

What type of sugar is the WHO including in these 6 teaspoons a day?
Sugars added to foods by manufacturers
Sugars found naturally in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates

What type of sugar is the WHO including in these 6 teaspoons a day?
They are not including sugar found in fresh produce – not counting the sugar found in unprocessed foods (as made by nature).

So many processed foods contain a lot of hidden sugar to make them more palatable, tasty and addictive. Plus sugar is a really cheep and easy way to make food taste good. We don’t think of tomato sauce as being a sugary product but it is. Pasta sauce, fruit juices, and breakfast cereals can all contain high amounts of added sugar.

Excessive sugar consumption is a growing concern with links to poor dental health (associated with poor general health and heart disease), insufficient nutrition and weight gain. The WHO is also highlighting the concern that consumption of added sugars may result in;

  • reduced intake of more nutritionally beneficial foods
  • increase in total caloric intake resulting in weight gain and its associated health complications.

Consider this before reaching for your next sugar hit, 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar is your MAXIMUM for the day. Do your research so you can make good food choices…

  • 1 cup of bottled pasta sauce contains on average 10g sugar
  • 1 can of soft drink contains 40g sugar (nearly 2 days worth of sugar)
  • 4 squares of Cadbury Top Deck chocolate contains 14g sugar (have you ever stopped at four squares?)
  • 1 classic Magnum ice-cream contains 21g sugar
  • 1 cup of Ocean spray Cranberry Juice contains 28g sugar (and you thought you were being healthy)

Sources: World Health Organization & CNN

Super food profile: Broccoli

Superfoods Profile: Broccoli

broc·co·li

[brok-uh-lee, brok-lee]
a form of a cultivated cruciferous plant, Brassica oleracea botrytis, whose leafy stalks and clusters of usually green buds are eaten as a vegetable.

A lot of children are told to eat their greens and it’s with good reason. Broccoli gets a good wrap, its basically a large flower head from the cabbage family of plants. The name broccoli literally means “the flowering top of a cabbage” in Italian.
Broccoli originates from the Northern Mediterranean and was cultivated as early as the 6th Century BC. It has been considered a valuable food source since the Roman Empire and was introduced to the US by Italian immigrants in the 1920’s.

SOME OF THE REASONS THAT MAKE BROCCOLI SUPERFOOD:
Allergies: Kaempferol is a flavonoid that can lessen the impact of allergy-related substances in the body. Broccoli is  a rich source of kaempferol and the presence of this molecule might explain the unique anti-inflammatory benefits of eating broccoli.
Vitamin C: half a cup of broccoli contains more than 52 mg of vitamin C (recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 30 mg for women and 40 mg for men), a powerful antioxidant that can neutralise free radicals (unstable chemicals that can damage cell membranes and other structures leading to disease and ageing). Antioxidants found in food work much better than those obtained from supplements.
Help restore vitamin D: Vitamin K and vitamin A assist in balancing vitamin D in the body. To get the maximum benefit from you vitamin D capsules, consider regularly eating broccoli.
Fibre: broccoli contains a significant amount of fibre (particularly if you eat the stalk, my favourite part). Fibre supports our digestive systems like nothing else, influencing the transit of food through our bodies and supports the growth of good bacteria. It is essential for good health and by eating broccoli you’re getting a lot of fibre per bite (1 gram of dietary finer for every 10 calories).
Cholesterol lowering properties: by steaming broccoli, the fibre-related components naturally found in broccoli make it easier for bile acids to be excreted, resulting in a lowering of cholesterol levels.
Anti-cancer properties: some studies have shown that the compounds that make broccoli bitter have anti-cancer properties by stopping cancer cells from growing and at the same time stimulate parts of the immure system. Ironically, growers and supermarket chains are growing strains of broccoli that are not as bitter but by doing so they are reducing the amount of these anti-cancer compounds. There is still a small amount of protective chemicals, 10 mg per gram in ‘sweet’ broccoli varieties but some of the more bitter varieties contain up to 70 mg per gram. Therefore, in this case butter is better.
Anti-bacteria & anti-viral: broccoli contains a compound that is both anti-bacteria and anti-viral
DNA repair: broccoli is an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells. DNA damage is associated with ageing and disease so better to look after your double helix.
Antioxidants: apart from vitamin C, broccoli contains other antioxidants providing high levels of carotenoids. It is is particularly rich in lutein and has a modest amount of beta-carotene. These compounds are know to protect against eye disease and are vital for good health.

Tip: Better not boil it. Boiling broccoli reduces significantly reduces the amount of ‘good’ chemicals, up to 50% if boiled for 10 minutes (yuck). The good news is that steaming, stir frying and microwaving broccoli has been shown to have no significant effect to these same compounds (yummy).

So add broccoli to your diet 3 to 4 times a week and remember that ‘bitter is better’.

FIVE EASY WAYS TO ADD BROCCOLI TO YOUR DIET 
Cut a whole broccoli into quarters and serve as the veggie component of your meal
Creamy broccoli soup
Broccoli with garlic and cashews
Spicy broccoli and quinoa salad
Sesame broccoli side dish

Broccoli is easier to grown than cauliflower, it is cultivated in a similar way to cabbage. Why now try growing some yourself.

Sources: Dictionary.com, Wikipedia, Better Health Chanel, Great Moments in Science and The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Toxic sugar: The facts according to ABC’s Catalyst

The blame for obesity and bad health is steadily shifting from from fat to sugar yet we all find it incredibly hard to kick our dependancy on the sweet deamon. Lets face it, it’s just too easy to get your hands on some sugar.

ABC’s Catalyst program breaks it down for us. It is well worth 18 minutes of your day to better educate yourself about the evils of sugar – perhaps it’s the impetus you need to finally banish sugar from your plate.

Non-Celebrity Rider: Letting the world know about your allergies

Cecilia Timm Non-Celebrity Rider

Sometimes it’s hard to know wether or not to tell people about your food allergies. When you’re new to an allergy ruled life you might feel as if it’s rude to tell people you might not be able to eat their food. In reality, time and experience has showed me that people get much more upset by not being told. You might be ok with skipping lunch but it leaves the host feeling horrible that you could not eat at their event.

In an attempt to find a light hearted solution I have published my own Non-Celebrity Rider on facebook and twitter so that anyone and everyone knows my eating limitations. I can send it to someone who has invited me over for tea and they can make appropriate arrangements so that everyone at the table can partake in communal munchies.

When I first found out about the extent of my allergies I was overwhelmed so I can only imagine how others might feel at the prospect of serving me a plate of food. To help reduce their anxiety I decided to include some serving suggestions 🙂

Cecilia Timm
Non-Celebrity Rider

ALLERGIC TO:
eggs • dairy • gluten • yeast • soy • cranberry • almond • citrus • ginger

INTOLERANT TO:
crab • oats • white rice • potato • pumpkin • sugary foods • sugar • high carb foods • alcohol

CAN EAT:
brown rice • quinoa • sweet potato • cauliflower • broccoli • carrots •avocado • veggies (except for potato & pumpkin) • lentils • coconut sugar • coconut • cashews • walnuts • brazil nuts • natural peanut butter • raw honey • brown rice syrup • agave nectar • chicken • lamb • pork • beef (not aged or frozen) • fish (salmon, flathead, john dory, ocean trout, blue-eyed cod, snapper, whiting) • falafel • hummus • plain corn chips • plain rice crackers • olive oil • goat milk cheese • sheep milk cheese • pana chocolate • loving earth chocolate • berries • rice milk

SUGGESTIONS:
grilled chicken with brown rice and vegetables • fish with quinoa and steamed vegetables • brown rice cakes with natural peanut butter and raw honey • bean and green goats cheese salad with smoked salmon • hummus with carrot, celery and carrot sticks + plain corn chips • gluten free falafel with hummus and avocado salad • fresh berries with nut pana chocolate • rice milk coffee with 1 natvia sugar

Back to basic recipes: Brown Rice (Gluten free + Whole grain)

Back to basics: Brown Rice

I personally love brown rice. When a doctor told me to cut out sugar and give up white rice it took me a few weeks to get used to only eating brown rice. I love the nutty flavour, the chewier texture and the fact that it keeps me fuller for longer. I hope you too can learn to love brown rice as much as I do.

Pros of Brown Rice
Lower GI so it releases energy slowly
Tastes great – nutty
Rich in vitamins, minerals & naturally-occuring oils
Promotes weightless and keeps you fuller for longer
Rich in antioxidants
High in fibre
Use left overs for salad the next day

Cons of Brown Rice
Takes a long time to cook
Have to plan dinner an hour in advance
Not everyone likes it

Back to basic recipes: Brown Rice (Gluten free + Whole grain)
Evaporation Method: Allow 1/4 cup of raw rice for each person
This recipe is for four people

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 cup of brown rice
2 cups water
pinch of salt or herbamare
black pepper

WHAT TO DO
Put the rice and water in a pot that has a tight fitting lid. Add your seasoning and turn up the heat to medium. As soon as it starts to boil, put the lid on and turn the heat down to low. Cook on low for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit closed for a further 15 minutes. Eat and enjoy!

Tip No.1: If your pot lid has a small hole in it you can place an eggcup onto of it to keep the steam in.
Tip No.2: You can start with cold or hot water… if you’re in a rush you can start with hot to get it up to boiling point sooner.

Super food profile: Avocado

Superfoods Profile: Avocado

av·o·ca·do
[av-uh-kah-doh, ah-vuh-]plural av·o·ca·dos
Also called alligator pear. a large, usually pear shaped fruit having green to blackish skin, a single large seed, and soft, light-green pulp, borne by the tropical American tree Perseaamericana, often eaten raw,especially in salads.

I’ll never forget a discussion with a lady I knew about avocados. She said she didn’t eat them because they were too high in fat and then went on to eat a hamburger and chips. The irony was not lost on me.

It is true that roughly 75% of the energy in avocados comes from fat most of that is monounsaturated fat (oleic acid). While 14% of the fat in avocado is saturated fat (palmitic acid). Fantastically, avocado contains no cholesterol.

While avocado has a relatively high calorie count, 160 calories per 100 grams, it is not eaten in huge quantities and it keeps you feeling fuller longer (largely in part to the high fat content) meaning you’re less likely to over eat or snack soon after eating it.

SOME OF THE REASONS THAT MAKE AVOCADO A SUPERFOOD:
Fat: While 75% of the energy in avocados comes from fat most of that is monounsaturated fat (oleic acid, makes you feel fuller longer). While 14% of the fat in avocado is saturated fat (palmitic acid). Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.
Potassium: Avocados have 35% more potassium than bananas.
Carbohydrates: Avocados are very low in carbohydrates meaning they won’t increase blood sugar.
Sodium: There is no sodium in the humble avocado, excellent for people with high blood pressure
Vitamins: Avocados are a rich source of vitamins K, B6, B5, C and E.
Folic acid: 1 cup of avocado has almost 1/4 of the recommended daily intake of folate protecting against birth defects as well as lowering the risk of heart attacks and heart disease in adults.
Fibre: Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre, 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fibre. Both kinds of fibre is needed to keep the digestive system running smoothly and soluble fibre delays the breakdown of carbohydrates, making you feel fuller for longer.
Antioxidants: a great source of antioxidants, avocados contain lutein and other carotenoids that can protect against eye disease and improve general health. Recent research has shown that eating avocado can increase the absorption of antioxidants (carotenoids are fat soluble) in other foods when eaten together. That way you’re getting more of the antioxidants from companion vegetables, like lettuce, carrot and spinach.
Cholesterol: Avocados do not contain any cholesterol but some studies suggest they can reduce bad cholesterol, while increasing good cholesterol.
Anti-cancer: preliminary research is being undertaken for potential anti-cancer properties that may be present in avocados.

Tip: The greatest concentration of carotenoids is in the dark flesh near the skin, so make sure you don’t leave it behind when you peel your avocado. Scrape it out with a blunt knife and include it in your meal 🙂

Avocade SignIt used to be hard to find avocados in the shops but now they are everywhere… even most multicultural grocers know the value of eating avocados.

There are many ways to enjoy avocado: they can be eaten as a sweet or savoury food. I am still coming to terms with avocado as a sweet food. I had a boyfriend once ask for sugar to put on his avocado and my whole family were horrified. I have tried a few chocolate mouse type recipes using avocados and haven’t minded them myself but my family just won’t eat them! I’m sticking to savoury for the moment.

FIVE EASY WAYS TO EAT AVOCADO (I’ll be providing these recipes shortly)
Avocado on toast sprinkled with Dukah
Avocado Pevre to spice up any meal
Avocado halves stuffed with goats cheese and basil
Spicy guacamole
Chocolate mouse

Grab some “alligator pears” today and get creative with this amazing, tasty and nutritious superfood.

Sources: Dictionary.com,  Wikipedia, World’s Healthiest Foods and Best Health.

Recipe: Chicken Schnitzel (Gluten free + Paleo)

Chicken-1-copy

This is an incredibly simple and quick chicken treatment that will impress the fussiest of eaters. Using thin fillets of chicken or boneless chicken fillets bashed into schnitzel is best as they defrost quickly and cook evenly and in no time at all.

Chicken Schnitzel mix your flaked quinoa and spices

It’s as easy as flavouring up some flaked quinoa and mixing it well.Coat chicken pieces with flavoured quinoa flakes

Pressing your chicken pieces into the quinoa will make the tasty flakes stick to your schnitzel.

Chicken 5

Fry your schnitzel in batches.

Store your flavoured quinoa flakes in the freezer and use again another day

Any excess flakes can be stored in the freezer until the next time you cook up a batch of schnitzel.

Chicken Schnitzel (Gluten free + Paleo)
Serves 4

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
750g chicken cut and bashed into fillets of even thickness
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
+ olive oil and coconut oil for frying

WHAT TO DO
Mix the quinoa flakes and spices in a large plate or flattish bowl. Press each chicken fillet into the quinoa flakes making sure every nook and cranny has flakes crammed onto it.

Heat olive oil and coconut oil in a fry pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in bathes for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Do not overcrowd the pan and don’t move the chicken around or turn it more than once. Unlike traditional schnitzel there is no egg to keep the crumbs on the chicken so the key is to not fiddle with the pieces to stop the flakes from falling off.

If cooking in batches you can keep the schnitzel warm in a warm oven until all of the chicken is cooked and ready to serve.

Serve with your favourite carb and greens. Enjoy!

What I buy: My favourite pasta

One of the hardest things to give up when you go gluten free is pasta. We all love a beautiful bowl of pasta to warm you up form the inside or fill that emotional hole that only pasta can.

I tried so many different brands and varieties and some were very expensive, up to $16 per packet. Some were slimy, others had weird textures and I never felt the satisfaction of real pasta. My sister found Buontempo Gluten & Wheat free pasta at the local supermarket. We hadn’t seen it before and had very low expectations as it was sooooo cheap – less than $4.00.

What I buy: My favourite pasta

The first time I made it I undercooked it and the second time I overcooked it… it was a bit of a GoldieLocks situation. Eventually I got it just right and it is by far the best gluten free pasta I’ve ever eaten. My whole family exclusively eats Buontempo Gluten & Wheat free pasta. Even though I am the only person with a severe wheat and gluten intolerance everyone really enjoys this pasta and no one feels bloated and sleepy after a bowl of Italian inspired goodness..

This pasta is made of 88% Rice Flour and 12% Maize Flour. I cook it for 12 mintues exactly… a little bit more and the pasta will become soft and start to break up.

I measure out 2 handfuls of dry pasta per person and add one extra handful for the pot. Cook in a large pot of boiling water with a good pinch of salt and a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Without the oil the pasta will stick together. When cooked serve with whatever pasta you would otherwise use… just take note to stir in the sauce gently so as to not break up the pasta.

I was pleased to know that it is made in Melbourne Australia. They have been making gluten free pasta for over 20 years… no wonder they get it so right. You can buy Buontempo Gluten & Wheat free pasta at Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Foodworks. If you can’t find it, you can always get in touch with them.

Eating out: In search of Baby Barramundi

eating-out

I quite often find it hard to eat when I leave the house. Too many allergies!

I’ve stood at countless counters asking all sorts of questions, trying to satisfy my empty belly. Food courts are difficult places to navigate for the hard of eating. Uber busy servers and people who don’t understand that allergies are a real problem can make it seem impossible to eat out. I quite often end up eating a banana just to get by.

There had to be a solution and in the end I settled on fish and salad. It’s a staple I go to at home and with a little bit of discussion and some trust I found a meal I can eat.

I’ll often end up in the Martin Place end of Sydney city and eventually made my way to the counter of Baby Barramundi Oyster Bar, a fast food fish establishment in the food court at Chifley Square. One day after the lunch rush was over I spoke to the over worked and very tired chef about which cuts of fish were cooked without flour and butter. In the end, he assured me that the John Dory and Salmon Steaks were grilled with olive oil and were 100% gluten and butter free. We also discussed the salad situation and settled on green salad with a simple dressing he had made himself with only balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I told him I was seriously allergic and that this was not a fad thing. He looked me in the eye and assured me. I trusted him.

My trust was not misplaced. I ate the fish and salad and did not get sick. I was so happy and was (FINALLY) no longer hungry and weak.

Now, whenever I’m in town I know I can get a meal at lunch time and it’s delicious as well as good for me.

It takes a lot of research, some frank conversation and well placed trust. I find that most proprietors are really scared of being sued or slammed on social media and will do their best to be honest with you.

Start a conversation and see if you can find an allergy free solution in your town 🙂

Recipe: Sweet Potato Fritters (Gluten free + Dairy free + Egg free)

Recipe: Sweet Potato Fritters (Gluten free + Dairy free + Egg free)

These fritters are super easy to make and extremely delicious. Even fussy eaters who don’t like veggies have been caught asking for thirds.

Cooking Fritters cecissuperfoods.com

It starts with steaming some sweet potato (orange, or white or purple) and mixing it with all of the dry ingredients. Mix it up and add the remaining wet ingredients.

Cooking Fritters cecissuperfoods.com

I find it best to use a ‘clicky-clicky’ ice cream scoop to place even sized mounds of mixture into a hot oiled pan.

Fritters-3

It’s a good idea to pat down the patties with a spatular so that they cook more evenly.

Cooking Fritters cecissuperfoods.com

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side on a medium hot heat. You don’t want to burn them but if you flip them too early they can fall apart.

Cooking Fritters cecissuperfoods.com

Drain them on kitchen paper and eat as soon as you can handle them 🙂

Recipe: Sweet Potato Fritters (Gluten free + Dairy free + Egg free)
Serves 6 people

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 large sweet potato
1 potato
1 spring onion, sliced thinly
1 garlic, chopped finely or pressed
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
white pepper
2 tablespoons No Egg or 2 chia eggs
1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider)
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup rice milk
+ extra olive oil for frying

WHAT TO DO
Peel and steam the sweet potato and potato until soft. While this is steaming put all ingredients except the rice milk into a medium bowl. Add the soft potatoes to the bowl and mix well with a fork. The mixture will be very stiff so add half of the rice milk. Only add enough rice milk to make a thick and sticky batter.
Put oil into a large fry pan and turn it up to medium. When the pan is hot drop even sized lumps into the pan – I use a ‘clicky-clicky’ ice cream scoop to make sure they are all the same size and will cook evenly. Pat the top of the lump to flatten the mixture a bit.
Cool for 3 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot. Eat on their own or as a bread substitute in an open sandwich. Super yummy.

Heart of the Matter Part 2: The Cholesterol Myth according to ABC’s Catalyst

Professor Emily Banks, a leading public health physician and the chair of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines urged the ABC to not air part 2 of their investigation into Cholesterol and its apparent link to heart disease.

Professor Banks expressed her concerns that people may stop taking their medication against medical advice and that this could lead to deaths.

The ABC published excerpts from the professors letter in an article titled “Professor urges ABC to pull Catalyst episode on cholesterol drugs, says it could result in deaths”.

The second part went to air as planned. Watch it here and you can make up your own mind.

Focus on what you CAN eat

Focus on what you can eat

It can be really overwhelming to take in all of the foods you have to now avoid… for life! It’s especially stressful when you  have several food allergies and a lot of foods are now literally off the table.

It is important to keep a list of all of the foods you are allergic to and make sure your nearest and dearest are aware of your culinary limitations. However, it is just as important to make a list of what you CAN eat. Until you do this it can seem as if you cannot eat anything.

Simply changing your focus from the negative to the positive can really turn things around. Don’t just eat steak, peas and carrots… eat lamb chops with avocado with cucumber and tomatoes one day and gluten free sausages with cabbage salad with nuts and goats cheese the next. Once you start looking into alternatives you will open up a new and exciting world of food that is good for you.

Practice this technique: Every time you think of one thing you cannot eat, write down 5 than you can. It seems very simple but it will really turn you around to seeing possibilities rather than road blocks.

Then you can look at the list of foods you can eat and see what goes together. This can be a great way to come up with new recipes or figure out how to modify some old favourites. You cannot control what you are allergic or intolerant to but you can modify your focus 🙂

Fry-up & Sheeps Milk Cheese on Toast

Veggies & Cheese on Toast

It can be hard to get the motivation to cook up a meal for one or two on the weekend… a mountain of food allergies doesn’t make it any easier.

I will quite often rain the veggie drawer and see what I can muster up. One great challenge can be finding a bread that you can eat and also enjoy.

I will write a post in the coming weeks about the fantastic bread I store in my freezer like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter.

While cows milk is really bad for me I can eat small amounts of sheep’s milk products and heaps of goats milk products – super lucky for a cheese lover.

While this is not exactly a recipe… ideas can be hard to come by for the produce challenged. A few times a week I will fry up some veggies (whatever looks like it needs to be cooked sharpish), chuck in some garlic, salt and pepper to taste and throw on top of some nicely toasted buckwheat toast. I usually keep some good quality bacon in the freezer and cook this up for a tasty salt hit. I love throwing on a good amount of cheese. In this case it was Manchego cheese (a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed) which unlike most goats cheeses actually melts.

This quick and easy meal can easily be adapted for your non allergic mates by using normal bread for them and/or chucking a boiled egg on top of theirs.

It can take a bit of inertia to start cooking but once you get going and it’s as quick as frying up some veggies, grilling some bacon and chucking it on a piece of toast it’s worth getting started.

The next time you’re trawling the fridge for something to eat pull out your fry pan and have a go 🙂

What I buy: Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter

I seriously LOVE Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter. I am soooo grateful that I am not allergic to peanuts. I haven’t met anyone yet who is allergic to almonds and not peanuts. Apparently this is not common, either way I’m lucky as I eat peanut butter every day.

peanut butter-500x500 copy copy

Peanut Butter is a really good source of protein, gives you long & sustained energy, makes you feel fuller for longer and and is packed with nutrients.

Natural peanut butter is best. The highly processed peanut butter you tend to find in the supermarket contain trans fat. Getting a good quality natural peanut butter can give you all the benefits of peanuts without adding unwanted trans fat to your diet.

I have tried a lot of varieties of good quality natural peanut butter and my favourite BY FAR is Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter. It just tastes better. The only down side is that it is WAY TOO EASY TO EAT.

It can be bought online for AU$8.00 a jar but I have bought it in stores for anything from $7.50 to $14.00. If you’re going to buy it in bulk you can get it direct from Mr Pic himself.

I am not sponsored by Pic’s, I just really love it 🙂

Eating out: finding a way despite your allergies

Multiple allergies can make Sunday brunch seem impossible. It can take some time to get your head around going out for a last minute meal with mates. After some research and recognisance I’ve finally got myself an emergency sunday dining plan 🙂

There is a fantastic cafe come deli dangerously close to my home and for a while I avoided it like the plague (too many delicious food memories in there). Eventually I made my way back through the threshold to buy a delicious goats cheese I can’t live without. After a quick ‘catch up’ conversation with the cafe owner, she asked me why I had not been in and I told her of my allergy situation. She suggested that I bring rice milk and my own bread and partake in a delicious and carefully selected meal.

Brunch @ Black Olive

Almost every Sunday my mum and I head out for a late breakfast or early brunch. I roll up with my tetra pack of rice milk and a zip lock bag with my own gluten free + yeast free + soy free bread and place my order for bacon (cooked in oil not butter) + manchego cheese (a hard parmesan-like Spanish goats milk cheese) + grilled tomato + zahtar in olive oil with a large creamy rice milk flat white on the side. It’s one of the few places I can go to where there is an easy understanding of my eating requirements and I’m able to eat out with my friends and family.

black olive 1

It’s a small serve of dietary normality.

In the end it comes to to building a relationship that relies on trust and can only be formed with discussion.

There is also another great side affect to allowing someone else to cook your breakfast… getting great ideas. I didn’t know that manchego cheese had melty properties. At Black Olive Gourmet Food they toast my bread and finely grate manchego cheese, melting it into my toast. It is a revelation for someone whose love of melty cheese was well known until the milk allergy took that love away. I was also introduced to Zahtar, a salty blend of herbs, spices, seeds and sometimes nuts is often served at breakfast in the Middle East and North Africa. The spice mix is served in fragrant olive oil and adds another flavour dimensions to just about any meal.

So start a conversation with understanding people and you might just find yourself a great way to eat out again.

Afternoon apple with Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter

Apple and Pic's Really Good Peanut Butter

When you’re coming to terms with food allergies, it can be challenging to come up with snacks. You feel as if you have to plan every meal and you do until you get a couple of great fast snacks under your belt.

I try to make sure any meal or snack contains some protein to ensure sustained energy and avoid sugar crashes.

Apples and peanut butter are a fantastic and filling snack. It’s sweet + a bit salty + creamy + crunchy + refreshing + very satisfying. So satisfying in fact that sometimes I’ll go halvies with someone (good chance to stop and have a chat with a mate).

I peel apples that are not organic, but each to their own.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 apple (pink lady are my favourite)
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (my favourite is Pic’s)

WHAT TO DO
Peel your apple and cut into wedges. Eat each wedge with a dollop of peanut butter.

This snack will fill you right up to your next meal and keep your energy levels nice and even.

Heart of the Matter Part 1: The Cholesterol Myth according to ABC’s Catalyst

The medical debate about cholesterol and its apparent link to heart disease is heating up. ABC’s Catalyst program ran Part 1 of a two part series last week challenging the perception that saturated fat and cholesterol are the demons in our diet.

Have we been conned by big food and big pharma? What is fact and what is fiction. Decide for yourself…

I will share Part 2 once it is available so you can make up your own mind.

Super food profile: Quinoa

Superfoods-Quinoa

qui·noa 
[keen-wah, kee-noh-uh]
a tall crop plant, Chenopodium quinoa, of the amaranth family, cultivatedmainly in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile for its small, ivory-colored seed, which is used as a food staple.

There is a lot of hype worldwide about quinoa as a superfood. The term superfood is thrown around a lot (even by me) but quinoa is perhaps the most super of all of the super foods. Considered the ‘mother of all grains’ by the Incas, the Spanish forbade the cultivation of quinoa when they conquered South America. Luckily the species was not extinguished and thrives, feeding the worlds insatiable desire for quinoa in all of its forms (many different colours from white to red and black).

For more than 4,000 years quinoa was cultivated in the mountainous regions of Eastern South America… it has taken the rest of the world a long time to discover this amazing and delicious energy source.

Quinoa is an edible starchy seed not a true grain or cereal, it is considered a pseudo-cereal. It is packed with nutrients and is a versatile food that can be served as a rice alternative, be used to replace Bulgur wheat in tabbouleh, added to soups and sauces, toasted through salads and in its flaked form replace flour in some baked goods boosting protein and nutrients.

SOME OF THE REASONS THAT MAKE QUINOA A SUPERFOOD:
Gluten free: naturally gluten free and easy to digest.
High in protein: protein content is very high for a pseudo-cereal (14% by mass). This is higher than brown rice, potato, barley and millet but less than wild rice, oats, beans and legumes.
Complete protein: quinoa is considered a complete protein. A complete protein contains an adequate amount of all 9 of the essential amino acids necessary for humans (and even other animals). Specifically it contains Lysine, an essential fatty acid not usually found in many grain crops. We need all of the essential fatty acids for good health.
Vitamins and minerals: a good source of calcium and magnesium (for a healthy nervous system), phosphorus (for healthy bones and teeth), iron (needed to oxygen transport) and vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant). Quinoa is a valuable source of calcium and iron for vegans and allergy sufferers who are missing out on milk and animal protein.
Fibre: quinoa is a good source of dietary fibre, containing almost twice as much fibre as most other grains. Fibre relieves constipation, makes you feel fuller for longer, helps prevent heart disease (by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol) and assists with the management diabetes (by lowing glucose levels).
Whole grain: a gluten free diet can lack whole grains and we need them for good health, to protect against chronic disease. As little as one serve a day can benefit health but 3 servings of whole grains is ideal.
Many forms: there are 120 varieties of quinoa the most common being white, red and black. Quinoa comes in seed form, flakes and flour. This makes it very versatile and easy to incorporate into many different meals.

Quinoa is very easy to cook. I cook as I would rice, with a few quantity adjustments. When cooking quinoa, I allow 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa per person. The recipe below is for 4 people.

Most people wash their quinoa but the variety that I buy is not bitter. The theory is that washing or soaking quinoa removes the bitter outer casing. You will only know if you need to wash your quinoa if it tastes bitter when cooked.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 cup of quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
salt or herbamare to taste
white pepper

WHAT TO DO
Put the quinoa and water into a medium sized heavy based pot. Add your seasoning and turn the heat up to medium.
As soon as the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to low, put on the lid (cover any holes in your lid with an upside down egg cup) and set your timer for 15 minutes.
Once the timer has sounded, turn off the heat and let it sit, off the stove and closed for 5 or so minutes.
Remove the lid and fluff it up with a fork. You can add some olive oil at this point and mix it through.
Serve it as you would rice.
Delicioso!

Note: Red quinoa has a bitter taste even if washed. I do not cook red quinoa on its own, instead I will mix 10% red quinoa and 90% white quinoa and mix well.

2013 is the year of quinoa: The United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa”. It’s endurance and durability as a crop contributes to the worlds food security, now and in the future.

Quinoa and the NASA connection: as early as 1993 NASA was researching the viability of quinoa crops on long-duration missions. The vitamin and mineral rich, high protein seed that it is a complete protein is considered a viable food source for astronauts on long space journeys. They have conducted studies and have had success growing quinoa crops in controlled conditions. If it’s good enough for NASA, then it’s good enough or me 🙂

Sources: dictionary.com, Wikipedia, Quinoa Super Food and NASA

What I buy: Coconut… the good oil

What I buy: Coconut… the good oil

I have tried many different brands of coconut oil and I like some more than others… for different reasons. It has taken a while but I’ve settled on two that I really enjoy using and here is why.

Spiral Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is a beautiful fragrant oil. I use it for raw foods as well as cooking. It has the smell and taste of the tropics and adds a wonderful aromatic quality to your food. Great for cooking as well as using on your skin or in your hair. This oil is not refined maintaining the coconut aromas and flavours.
For product on Extra Virgin Coconut Oil click here.

Spiral Organic Virgin Coconut oil is not as aromatic and better suited for cooking especially if you do not want to get the benefits of coconut oil without altering the flavour of the food you are preparing. This oil is refined therefore losing some of the tropical aromas and flavours making it more versatile for food preparation.
For product information of Virgin Coconut Oil click here.

I am not sponsored by Spiral Organic foods… I just like their product.

It can be found online or at Woolworth stores.

Back to basic recipes: Quinoa (Gluten free + Whole grain)

Back to basics recipe: Quinoa

I wrote in depth about the Superfood properties of quinoa: gluten free + high protein + complete protein + vitamins and minerals + high in fibre. Read more detail here. Quinoa comes in many different varieties but the most common are white, red and black.

Cooking Quinoa cecissuperfoods.com

Note: Red quinoa has a bitter taste if not washed. I do not cook red quinoa on its own, instead I will mix 10% red quinoa and 90% white quinoa and mix well.

Cooking Quinoa cecissuperfoods.com

Most people wash their quinoa but the variety that I buy is not bitter. The theory is that washing or soaking quinoa removes the bitter outer casing. You will only know if you need to wash your quinoa if it tastes bitter when cooked. If using red quinoa always pre-soak for 1o minutes, rinse before adding to the pot.

Cooking Quinoa cecissuperfoods.com

Quinoa is very easy to cook. I cook as I would rice, with a few quantity adjustments. When cooking quinoa, I allow 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa per person. The recipe below is for 4 people.

Cooking Quinoa cecissuperfoods.com

It’s as simple as chucking the quinoa in a pot + adding some water + chucking in some salt.

Cooking Quinoa cecissuperfoods.com

It’s a very easy way to add a high protein & nutrient rich staple to your diet.

Quinoa (Gluten free + Whole grain)
Serves 4

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 cup of quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
salt or Herbamare* to taste
white pepper

WHAT TO DO
Put the quinoa and water into a medium sized heavy based pot. Add your seasoning and turn the heat up to medium.
As soon as the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to low, put on the lid (cover any holes in your lid with an upside down egg cup) and set your timer for 15 minutes.
Once the timer has sounded, turn off the heat and let it sit, off the stove and closed for 5 or so minutes.
Remove the lid and fluff it up with a fork. You can add some olive oil at this point and mix it through.
Serve it as you would rice.
Delicioso!

Cooking Quinoa cecissuperfoods.com

*Herbamare: A.Vogel Herbamare® is a herb infused salt originally developed by a famous Swiss Naturopath A. Vogel. 12 fresh organic herbs are combined with natural sea salt and dried for 12 months. It makes for a tasty, herby salt. It can be bought at most supermarkets and health food stores.