#100happydays - Creamy Dreamy Greeny Smoothie

Today is day 3 of my #100happydays.  And the day started out happy with a creamy dreamy greeny smoothie!  Packed with lots of nutrients, it set my day off to a good start.

Here is the recipe:
1 cup almond milk
1 cup baby spinach or kale
1/2 banana
1 tablespoon walnut butter
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Scoop of probiotic powder
1/2 lemon

Just put it all in the blender and blended until smooth and creamy dreamy!

The lemon is all the lemon - rind, juice, pulp. Just cut the lemon in half and add it.

There are more scientific studies on the healing powers of Turmeric than any other food.  It's good to start off smoothies with 1/2 teaspoon, but as you get used to the taste, you can increase the level of turmeric.  Studies show powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

The leafy greens provide good phytonutrients and if you use kale, you get the benefits of cruciferous vegetables which help in detoxifying the body every day.

The flax and walnut butter provide a good source of omega 3 fatty acids - essential fats that we need in our diet for reducing inflammation and improving brain function.  This smoothie gives you more than 3g omega 3 fatty acids. In addition,  the flax is a good source of fiber and lignans.  The smoothie gives you 9g of fiber.

And the probiotic supports our gut health which is so key to our whole health.  I use Custom probiotics powder.

So start your day off green and maybe that will color your whole day :-D
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Coconut lemon truffles

We picked our first ripe lemon of the season from one of our lemon trees this week.  I have missed having so many lemons within easy reach.  It'll take a few weeks for us to get into full crop - but the first just had such a lovely smell and really made me salivate.


So what to make with it that would celebrate its lovely flavor....?

Lemon truffles!


And not sweet, so you can really enjoy the acidity of the lemon juice.

So here is the recipe: (makes 25 truffles)

Ingredients
1 cup almonds
Zest of one lemon (preferable just picked off your own tree!)
Juice of one lemon
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened organic desiccated shredded coconut (plus extra for dusting the truffles)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp sweet freedom or coconut nectar (if you want more sweetness, you can add an extra tablespoon)
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Blend all the ingredients together (except the extra coconut for dusting) in a food processor until it starts to bind together to form a dough (1-2 minutes).

Take approx 1/2 tablespoon of dough, roll it into a small ball and then roll it in the extra coconut.  Continue with the rest of the dough to make approximately 25 little truffles.  Place in the fridge, if you can resist them, for half an hour.



Can be kept at room temperature or in the fridge.

They make a lovely gift for a friend.  Take her a couple of lemons, a box of truffles and the recipe to make her own.
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New food of the week: Citrus Caviar aka finger limes



I first heard about finger limes just a few months ago when I was looking at a fruit tree catalog.  I thought, "what an amazing fruit".  It's description was:

Unique Citrus:  Australian Finger Lime (Microcitrus australasica) 
One of the most fascinating discoveries in our fruit world, this unusual variety is sometimes called Citrus Caviar.  Contained in the dark purple, 3" long fruit are a multitude of juicy capsules, bursting with intense, sweet-tart, lemon-lime flavor.  Found in the wild in Australia, Finger Limes have been cultivated for less than 10 years in the US.



Well we have lots of citrus trees growing in our garden so the idea of citrus caviar just sounded wonderful to me.  Think of all the uses...I could put it in drinks - little floating beads of citrus; I could decorate desserts with it - imagine a dairy free lemon cheesecake with pearls of citrus caviar sprinkled on top; or just sprinkle them on salads or anywhere you'd use lemon zest......My mind was buzzing!

So yes, I had to order a tree.  I mentioned them to a friend and she asked me to order her one too so we could see who had the better climate for them - Sonoma or Glen Ellen!

But sadly, the company who are based in Oregon, said they can't ship citrus trees to California :-(

Oh dear. I was sad. So I've been asking around at local nurseries to see if they can get one for me....and no luck so far.


Then the other day, I was out in a different part of the county that I don't usually visit, seeing a new client.  On the way home I had to pick up some items for dinner so thought I'd call in a Raley's supermarket.  I've only ever been in a Raley's 3 times in my life - and always this same one. As it happens, I enjoyed shopping in there, as they had lots of different things from what I see in my usual supermarket.  But it was in the produce section that I got really excited.  I'd been around the section a couple of times and just found fresh pomegranates, which we don't normally see at this time of year. This encouraged me to look a little closer, thinking what else might they have that I don't normally see?  

And what did I spy but a little packet labelled "citriburst"! Yes - fresh finger limes for sale :-D


But when I turned the packet over, they looked very unattractive and I figured they were old and out of date.  But on closer examination, I found that their black, dark green color is actually their fresh color! All was not lost.

So 2 packets later and here I am trying them. 

They are fun!  Little pearls of citrus with a crunch to them too!  The description in the catalog was spot on - a little sweet and a little tart. And a burst in your mouth.  The pearls are different colors in each finger - some are a little pinky in color, whereas others are "lemon" in color (!) and apparently they are sometimes neon green!


So I tried sprinkling a few on top of a marmalade oat hemp bar I made, with a little of my homemade soy yoghurt.  Combination of the marmalade with the citrus caviar was great!

The best way to get the caviar out is to cut the limes in half and squeeze each half, as you see in the first couple of photos.

Got to get making some new things now with my new found friend. 


Have you ever seen them or tried them? I can imagine them being great with seafood, if you eat seafood - and a cocktail...well....we'll have to see what cocktail hour brings this evening! Give them a try if you can find them.  They are a happy food!  Something different to delight your eyes as well as your taste buds.

Have you tried a new food this week?

Here's the supplier's video:


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Lemon juice or lemon zest?

I was watching Yotam Ottolenghi on telelvision today and something he said, struck a cord with me. He said lemon juice just tends to add acidity to a dish, but adding lemon zest, adds so much more.  Isn't that true!



The zest contains aromatic oils, which is where the real flavor and perfume of lemons comes from.  So don't try and substitute lemon zest for lemon juice.  You just won't get the flavor.



I still use juice in many recipes, but if I want a real lemon flavor, it has to have zest in it, for example when making my gluten free vegan lemon cheesecake,  as opposed to adding lemon juice to a savory dish.



If you are going to juice a lemon, zest it first - its much easier than trying to do two halves!  And use the zest immediately when it is most flavorful.

A great citrus you buy if you want a lot of zest is a Buddha's hand! They are all zest and no fruit pulp.  Just pull a finger off and zest it.  The Buddha's hand was traditionally used as a room freshener - for more info, check out my post on Buddha's hands!



Hands down (!) lemon zest is one of my favorite flavors. As we have 3 very prolific lemon trees, I use it a lot. What about you?  If you don't - give a go - using the zest for real flavor and the juice for acidity.
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Chia Fresca

I never thought I would, but I like chia fresca!

Never being one for tapioca because I always thought it looked like frog spawn, now here I am drinking frog-spawn-looking chia fresca!!


Chia fresca is a mexican drink - with lots of health benefits - mainly due to the chia seeds which are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids (more than flax and salmon), high in fiber (1 tablespoon has 5g fiber!), calcium ( 6 x that of milk), magnesium (15 x that in broccoli)....

Here is the recipe:
2 cups water
2 tablespoons chia seeds - I like to use the white ones in my drink
Juice of one or two lemons or limes, depending on your taste.

Directions:
Pour the water into a jug and add the chia seeds, whisking immediately.  Leave for 3 - 4  minutes and whisk again.  Leave for 10 minutes, whisk again and add the citrus juice.  The drink will thicken and become like a gel. Stir before drinking.








Don't say you can see the tadpoles starting to swim!!
Enjoy! If you can get over the look and unusual texture for a drink I'm sure you'll love it ;-D
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Spring Pesto

I made a no-added-oil pesto this week to garnish a parsnip and cauliflower soup.  I felt the pesto acknowledged that it was now spring and lifted the more wintery flavors of the soup into this early April time.


But then I finished the soup and still had some parsley and spinach left, so made some more pesto and found different ways to use it!...... as a dip, on a sandwich, as a dressing, ...

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup baby organic spinach
1/2 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup (packed) flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If necessary, add more water to achieve the consistency you desire. You may have to stop the processor a couple of times to scrape down the sides so that everything is combined.



Enjoy it on a variety of different dishes! The photo above shows it on a sunflower cracker with sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber and black cumin! A tasty lunch.

You won't miss the oil at all!  The taste of the parsley and lemon just excite the taste buds too much to want oil!

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. It is rich in antioxidant flavonoids and is a good source of folic acid.  Chives are a member of the allium family and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral.  They also contain quercetin which helps reduce histamine and so helps with hay fever and seasonal allergies.

Whip yourself up a dose of healthy green pesto and put a spring in your step this spring time! Your body will love you for it.
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Vibrant Quinoa Salad

I made this lovely green quinoa salad for some friends last week, when they visited for lunch.


It is very easy to make and seems so perfect for springtime with the lovely green colors.  It tastes nice and fresh with the lemon juice and mint.

Give it a try and let me know what you think:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup water
4 scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup frozen green garbanzos
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
1/4 cucumber, diced

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve to remove the bitter coating.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. When its cooked, the quinoa should still have a little crunch.  Rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.  Place in a large bowl.
  3. Put the green garbanzo beans and peas in boiling water and cook briefly for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.  Add to the quinoa.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well. Serve.
  5. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Can be made in advance.
You can obviously add whatever vegetables you like to this dish. I like the green garbanzo beans - as they are new in the stores here, so its good to find a nice dish for them...but you could use sugar snaps or edamame or another vegetables instead.  You could also try celery, or green pumpkin seeds or green pistachios.


The dish provides a good protein source and calcium from the quinoa, and plenty of different phytonutrients from the vegetables and lemon.  The cumin is rich in phytoestrogens and may help with osteoporosis and diabetes.
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Good things come in lemon packages

So here is the dessert I have made for this evening's dinner with friends.  I've called it "Good things come in lemon packages".


It is individual lemon sparkle cheesecakes - dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free along with a couple of pieces of homemade raw lemon chocolate - also dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free.

Both are small in size, but that's all desserts need to be - a little taste.



The raw lemon chocolate is the one I showed in my blog post yesterday - with dehydrated lemon rind.  It is like a bark but I added a little bird motif to the other side - especially suitable this time of year as the birds are all getting busy and thinking about nest building.



Making the cheesecake was an interesting lesson in portion size. I have made it before as a large cheesecake but this time, as I was making it in little pots I made only a 1/3 of the recipe.  One third of the recipe yielded 10 little pots!  That means the full cheesecake would make 30 servings.  At most, we tend to cut a full cheesecake into 12 pieces - not 30.

I tied on little spoons for the pots of lemon sparkle as I am taking these to a friend's house for dinner and didn't want to be stuck with only large spoons that won't fit inside!  And yes, the 'sparkle' in the lemon sparkle cheesecake? There's a little surprise in the cheesecake that gives it a "sparkle"!  Can't tell you what it is as it will ruin the surprise for this evening!



Next time you make a dessert, think about how much we really need. It's great to have a little something sweet at the end of the meal with friends, but we only need a taste.
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Lemon Raw Chocolate

I'm making dessert for a friend's dinner party tomorrow.  The theme for my dessert is lemon as we still have loads on our trees and I love making food with our own produce!  I've made a nice little dessert - gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free etc, , but wanted a little something to go with it.


So I decided to make some lemon raw chocolate.  hunting around in my cupboard, I found some dehydrated lemon peel that I had dehydrated some time ago. Perfect! Adding anything liquid or moist to chocolate is dodgy - so dehydrated peel is much better than fresh zest.

The photo shows it in the process! More later when its set.

I calculated the cocoa percentage - and its around 65%.  The chocolate is raw too so full of lots of nutrients.  Sugar free as well!  I think a little taste will pair beautifully with the dessert.
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New food of the week - Buddha's hand

My new food this week was a Buddha's hand citrus.


Quite a scary food from it's look. Would be good for halloween!

It is a citrus fruit but has very little flesh and is juiceless and often seedless.  The fruit is made up of fingerlike parts unto 12 inches long.

It is a fragrant fruit and used predominantly by the Chinese and Japanese as a room freshener.  Just place a Buddha's hand in the room and the fragrance perfumes the room.  It is also used for freshening the smell of clothing.

The fruit is also used as an offering in Buddhist temples.  Apparently, Buddha prefers the fingers to be more "closed" rather than as an open hand, to signify prayer.

As a food, just the peel is used.  The inner pith- the white part under the peel is not as bitter as pith on other citrus fruits so the fingers can be cut off and then sliced longitudinally - pith and all -  and used in salads or with fish dishes etc.


I decided that I'd use a microplane to get the zest off the fingers, and then dehydrate it for future use.  I used some of it on a salad and it had a lovely citrus flavor - not too sharp.


Next time I'll try a finger, whole!

Did you try a new food this week?
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Healing Trees recipe

The Cancer Journey conference at Ceres on Sunday seemed to go very well. They sold out and I had some great interactions with people in the resource room.




I demo'd making my "healing tree" morsels, and share the recipe with you here:

Ingredients
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon Matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1//2 tablespoons date paste *
Zest of 1 lemon
Grated fresh ginger (approx 1 inch)
15 whole raw organic almonds

Directions
[*Make the date paste first - you will only use a small portion of this.  Process 10 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons of water. This makes a thick paste that is a great substitute for refined sugar.]

  1. Place all the ingredients except the whole almonds in a food processor and process until smooth.  This matcha mixture should hold together when squeezed but not be too sticky. If it won't hold, process longer, or add 1/2 tablespoon more of date paste.  If too sticky, add a little more almond flour.
  2. Cut the whole almonds in half, width ways.
  3. Take approx 1 teaspoon of match mixture and shape it into your hands to form a cone shape
  4. Stand up half an almond on it's cut side and gently push the matcha cone onto the almond, so that it looks like a tree.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the matcha mixture and almond halves to create your own forest of healing trees.
  6. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or else the matcha mixture can frozen before shaping.

The healing qualities of these trees come from:
the green tea has excellent anti-cancer properties and is high in anti-oxidants;
the ginger and dates settle the stomach and help with digestion;
the lemon is a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals;
the almonds are a good source of easily digestible fiber, vitamins and minerals;
and finally the cute shape of the trees lifts your spirits!

These are lovely to make for yourself, but make a great gift for someone who needs some healing.
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Healing Trees

As I mentioned last week, I am participating in the Ceres Cancer Journey event this Sunday in Santa Rosa.

I will be in the resource room, and for some of the time, I will be doing a short cooking demo.

I will be making these little "healing trees", a recipe that I developed myself.


They are made with green tea, almonds, dates, ginger, and lemon. I'll post the recipe here next week after the demo.

The healing qualities of these bite-size morsels include:  the green tea has excellent anti-cancer  properties and is high in anti-oxidants;  the ginger and dates both help to settle the stomach and calm digestive issues;  the lemon is a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals; and the almonds are a good source of easily digestible fiber, vitamins and minerals.

AND the cute shape of the trees lifts your spirits!



I hope if you are in the area that you will call by for the event and hear some wonderful speakers and experience nurturing, love and good food.

If you attend, do come and find me in the resource room.

Ceres Cancer Journey Event
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Best beverage

We've heard for a long time about the high antioxidant and health benefits of green tea, but a study published in 2010 in "Nutrition Journal", has found another drink that has even greater antioxidant levels.

The study was very extensive, comparing the antioxidant levels of more than 3100 foods, beverages, herbs and spices. Can you even think of 3100 different foods?  I'll be sharing some of the other results in future blog posts.



But the beverage that came out tops of 283 beverages was Hibiscus tea.  Some examples of the antioxidant content for popular drinks are:

  • coke/pepsi 1
  • white wine 5
  • black tea 23
  • green tea 36
  • red wine 38
  • coffee 47
  • matcha tea 100 (matcha is powdered green tea)
  • hibiscus tea 132


An example of a readily available hibiscus tea in a tea bag is Red Zinger.  Alternatively, you can purchase dried hibiscus flowers from Mexican food stores and steep your own tea. Hibiscus teas don't contain caffeine and, as well as their antioxidant powers, they are also seen to lower high blood pressure.


Michael Greger, M.D. suggests preparing a day's worth of hibiscus tea as follows:
8 glasses of water, 4 bags of hibiscus tea, juice of one lemon, sweetener if desired (eg erythritol or blended dates).  Mix together and put in the fridge overnight. Remove the tea bags in the morning and drink throughout the day.

I fancy adding some ginger to the above too....Do you have other ideas?  I'm going to give it a try.

By the way, I met Dr. Michael Greger this weekend at a great nutrition conference I attended in Santa Rosa.  What an entertaining man and so informative. I highly recommend his website where he posts a new video every day - http://nutritionfacts.org.


BUT, before you throw all that green tea away, while hibiscus tea may have a higher level of antioxidants, green tea also has many other health benefits, especially anti-cancer properties from EGCG - a compound in the tea.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
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