Sweet Tooth

I usually eat healthily except for the occasional block of chocolate or packet of potato chips that force me to eat them. Oh, or the times when I get busy, or lazy. Then I eat hot chips sometimes. Ok, a lot. And toast. Toast is a meal isn’t it?

Anyway, I’d gotten into the habit of eating too much sugar lately. It’s kind of unbecoming, not only because it’s unhealthy for me, but because it makes me put on weight and gives me zits. On my forehead. Gross. Then because I feel fat and zitty I reach for more chocolate… or chips. You can imagine how that turns out.

So I’m trying to cut out all junk for 21 days… after which point I’ll hopefully be back in great habits so wont bring it back. It’s going well, aside from my husband who hopefully checks the pantry around 15 times a night just in case cheezels have magically appeared.

So far I’ve swopped my lazy/busy lunches for rice cakes with hommus and salad, I’m juicing more and am doing my best to avoid anything fried. Fact is though, I’ll always have a sweet tooth, so today, when I had a little kid free time I got into the kitchen and prepared some treats ahead… they might even distract hubby away from the cheezel hunt ;)

Choc Vanilla Fudge Protein Balls

DSC06540These are all kinds of awesome.

They’re dairy free depending on which protein powder you use. I used Phyto Protein Pea Protein Isolate in Vanilla flavour. Tastes nothing like peas (phew), and it’s great if you want to avoid the whey that’s usually in protein powder. It’s organic too. If you don’t have this one, or you’re fine with dairy you could use any other.

This recipe makes about 8 balls. If you want more, just double the quantities.

  • 4 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 heaped tablespoon vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey (a big gloopy one, don’t try to make it flat and neat!)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cocoa powder (I use organic dutch press as I find the flavour is nicer)

Combine ingredients in a bowl then roll into balls and chill in the fridge. Done!

Healthy Coconut Rough

  • DSC065414 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1-1.5 cups coconut (I used dessicated, but shredded would work too. Use 1 cup if you want more chocolate around your ‘rough’)
  • 3 tablespoons cocao powder

Coconut oil is usually firm at room temperature, so if you want to soften it do so by placing your bowl ‘floating’ inside another bowl filled with boiling water. It softens quickly. I wouldn’t suggest heating it on the stove because it tends to make it separate a little as it cools, so the coconut oil sits on top. Tastes fine like that, but doesn’t look great.

If you have a food processor, or you’re just less lazy than I am there’s no need to soften it, just mix ingredients in a bowl :)

If you haven’t softened the coconut oil then you can shape your ‘rough’ pieces on a tray and pop them in the fridge to set. If you have softened it then best to pour it into a lined plate or tray and break it up when it’s firm. This one will keep for several weeks in a sealed container in the fridge, so, like the balls, it’s easy to make ahead.

 

‘Caramel’ Biscuit Slice

DSC06531Sooo good. And super quick to make. This one was inspired by this recipe on PaleOMG blog http://paleomg.com/caramel-pecan-bars/ which I made a while ago. I wanted to try out my own version.

Base

  • 1 cup peacan meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 egg

Topping

  • 10 Medjool dates
  • 10-12 tablespoons coconut milk or cream.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

For the base just combine ingredients in a bowl then press into an oven tin. I used a loaf tin for mine. Cook it at about 150-175 until it’s feeling a little crispy to touch and is coming away from the sides. It’ll be browning a little, but not too much. Mine took around 30-40 minutes, but yours might take more or less depending on the tin you’re using, your oven etc.

While that’s cooking take the seeds out of the dates and soak the dates in hot water (freshly boiled) for about 10 minutes. Just enough water to cover them.

While that’s soaking get yourself a nice cup of tea and ignore the dishes ;)

Drain water from the dates and pop them in the blender or food processor with the vanilla essence and the coconut milk/cream. You might need more or less than the amount I suggested, depending on the consistency you want and how big the dates are. Blend until smooth. This might involve a bit of shaking/hitting the blender and swearing… or you could use a spoon to push it down when needed, but the swearing works too. If you have a food processor you probably wont need to swear at all, but feel free to if you want.

Cool the base then apply the ‘caramel’ to the top. I chopped some nuts as a garnish but you could use any garnish you like. Or nothing. This will keep in the fridge for about a week, unless you eat it sooner ;)

Chocolate Coconut Rice Pudding with Berries

DSC06537Okay, I admit, I came up with this one to use up the rest of my coconut milk. But it’s still delicious. It’s best served warm or at room temperature. If it’s left in the fridge it tends to thicken more, so if you do plan to chill it increase the quantities of water and coconut milk a little.

  • 1 cup rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 can coconut milk or cream
  • 1-2 heaped tablespoon cocao (you could use more if you want it stronger)
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey (depending how sweet you want it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 heaped teaspoons cornflour

Put rice and water in a saucepan and cook until rice is becoming tender. Add coconut milk, cocao, honey and vanilla essence, and continue to cook on low until rice softens and liquid begins to reduce. Dissolve the cornflour in a few tablespoons of water and stir through, keeping it on the heat until it thickens nicely.

Serve with berries (or anything else you want) and a drizzle of maple syrup <3

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I use raw honey in these recipes because it works for me, but if it doesn’t agree with you, or you’re fully vegan then substitute it with the sweetener of your choice. I’d just advise reading up on agave before you reach for it…

I hope you enjoy the recipes. Let me know if you’d like to see more food posts like this on the blog in the future <3

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Something Good

“The garden teaches us there is something we are all capable of doing. Only with something so small that can be in everyones hand can we challenge the empire.”  Vandana Shiva

We are currently building a house, a process that involves watching a drawing come to life before your eyes, to the heartbeat of nail guns and tradie’s radios.

We are intensely excited about the garage door, the floor, the windows, even the linen cupboard. Of course not all of it is there yet, but it will be, and we look forward to it like a child looks forward to the end of a story, because no matter how we think it will look or feel, we know it will surprise us in some joyful way.

But around the house is something really special – a blank slate. A yard that has not been landscaped or planted, no garden beds or trees or overgrown pathways. It just is. And I can’t wait to start helping it grow.

I’m really noticing lately how reliant on the grid we all are. For our power, water, entertainment and most of all – food. Few of us want to live a fully self sufficient life, but as evidence continues to show sprayed fruit and vegetables to be toxic, and organic food prices soar while genetically modified ingredients creep into our food supply… maybe it’s time to do something, a little something.

Our little something is going to be an edible garden. Not a veggie garden, but rather an entire yard where everything, bar the grass, either is food, or helps to grow it.

There is an online campaign called “Grow Food Not Lawns” (find them on facebook) and though I love soft green grass beneath my feet, it does make a good point. What if we got used to seeing a front garden filled with vegetables? What if we dug up just a little of our grass and planted something we could eat? What if we turned our ornamental gardens into practical ones? The easy care trees into fruit trees? What if we planted potatoes in the corner of the yard we never use, and turned our kitchen scraps into compost? What if our salad greens thrived amongst edible flowers?

What if even a quarter of us converted even a quarter of our yards into urban farms?

What if all of us grew something?

Can you imagine what it would do for our budgets, our health and our communities? We’d have enough to share, even with that. We would connect with our neighbors more, and ‘fast food’ could be a salad thrown together in minutes from the garden.

We are blessed where we live, but for a lot of people even here affording as many quality fresh fruit and vegetables as they should be eating is difficult (let alone the range they should be eating, or organic). In America someone living on foodstamps has around $30 a week to feed themselves. In other parts of the world people have even less.

We all carry with us a wealth of practical life skills to pass on to our children. They are an inheritance of sorts – a precious one. Maybe this inheritance can help them along the way or even save them revisiting some of our own mistakes. But how many of us have this skill to pass on – how to grow a high yield, thriving, organic vegetable garden. The skill of feeding yourself.

I don’t. I don’t learn gardening from books, for me it’s like trying to learn dance from print. It brings out my clumsy side.

I have planted gardens before, plenty of them, but my system involved putting things in the ground and hoping. In the end the cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes were victorious (and ones the size of footballs continued to be dug up MONTHS later), while most other things either became insect entrées or just didn’t do anything at all. Seriously, I had a cabbage stay an inch high for months – I had too much sympathy for the poor runt to pull it out.

So I’m hiring someone better versed in permaculture to help create something on that beautiful blank slate of ours. To show me where things should go to help them thrive, how to feed them and nourish them so that they can do the same for us.

Children often learn best by doing, so that garden of mine can plant seeds of knowledge and inspiration for my kids. They might love it and munch on fresh snowpeas and cucumbers they harvest themselves, or they might ignore it in favour of Lego. But I want it to become normal for them, habit, to think of food as coming from the earth rather than a supermarket.

Considering that what we eat and how we eat can affect our health, the planet and even our ethics, I’m realizing that no matter what else I teach my children this lesson should be right up there in “Life 101”.

We look around at what’s wrong in the world and we get a lot of fight in us. Our inner activist looks at all this before us and either attacks what they can or has the breath knocked out of their fight because there’s SO MUCH to be done, and there are SO MANY bigger, stronger warriors on the other team.

But real change doesn’t need the force of a tidal wave, it needs the reach of a ripple. It starts small and spreads, and slowly, it can make a new normal. Because that’s what we have to do to make real change. It has to stop feeling like change at all. If we can get used to seeing lettuce in place of mondo grass, spinach in place of gerbras, potatoes in place of ferns – we can change the world.

Our power doesn’t lay in a fight, but in ceasing to be passive. It lays in planting that seed. That’s what starts the ripple, because we vote most powerfully with our forks – with how we eat. We show how we will accept our animals to be treated, we take the power back in our health, and we help the environment as we do it.

Our garden might make up the knowledge we pass onto our children, parents or friends. It might build a bridge between neighbors or inspire a passer by. It might ease the strain on our budget, or it might just make for fresher herbs and salads. But if we can plant that seed – plant something – the future we grow can surprise us.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012