Monthly Archives: August 2012

* Sprouted Quinoa, Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad (Raw) *


Happy World Raw Food Day!

Today is a celebration of raw food here, there and everywhere.  World Raw Food Day, or Weltrohkosttag as it is called here in Germany, is about inspiring people to eat more raw and gather together for a raw food picnic, potluck or elaborate feast.  Here in Berlin, there are many events happening überall; a massive potluck in Alexanderplatz, virtual potlucks online, picnics in random parks and raw food demonstration classes (un-cooking classes, if you will) by leaders in the raw food industry.

I’m a huge advocate of eating a mainly plant-based diet, which is high in fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and super foods and I feel pretty, pretty good.  I aim to eat a bright rainbow of goodness every day and make an effort to eat raw where possible.  By adopting a plant-based diet, you are supporting your overall health and well being by accessing the nutrients you need to feel fighting fit and fabulous.  In keeping food raw, you are retaining those nutrients that may be lost during the cooking process, as well as the vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes that can also deplete.  By making the decision to keep some of your food raw, you will be doing your body some serious good.

A very dear friend of mine, Kauia, is also a big fan of raw foods and has been most informative and inspiring.  You can check out her blog for some further raw power inspiration.

This salad is the epitome of a 100% raw food celebration.  The sprouted quinoa is a shining example of pure, healthy goodness as through the sprouting process the natural enzymes are activated, it is easier to digest and the vitamin content is boosted.  In this salad there are some interesting flavors and textures going on, with the creamy avocado contrasting beautifully with the sprouted quinoa and pistachio, whilst the ruby-red jewels of the pomegranate offer a delightful burst of tart flavor.  The crunchy snow peas and spring onions along with the fragrant mint and parsley also give a hearty dose of fresh. Delectable, satisfying and seriously good for you.

Sprouted Quinoa, Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad

1 cup of sprouted quinoa

1 1/2 cups of warm water

A spring onion, finely sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

A red capsicum, diced

1 cup of snow peas, diagonally chopped

An avocado

A pomegranate

1/4 of a cup of pistachios

A bunch of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

A bunch of fresh mint, chopped, plus a few sprigs for garnishing


The juice and finely grated zest of a lemon

A clove of garlic

3 tablespoons of cold-pressed olive oil

1/4 of a cup of orange juice

A teaspoon of raw honey or agave

1/2 a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt

Pepper to taste

Soak the sprouted quinoa in warm water for about an hour until softened.  Drain off any excess water by passing through a very fine mesh sieve and then place in a large serving bowl. Deseed the pomegranate by cutting it in half and loosening up the flesh and seeds. Over a wide bowl, whack the pomegranate with a wooden spoon repeatedly until all of the seeds are in the bowl.  Repeat with the other half and remove the flesh that may have also been collected.  In a jar, add all of the dressing ingredients and shake well.  Add all of the remaining ingredients into the serving bowl and mix well with the dressing.  Allow to stand for 30 minutes for the flavors to develop.  Garnish with sprigs of mint and share the raw food love with your nearest and dearest, whilst informing them of why eating more raw is a beautiful thing.

* Sprouted Quinoa is available in all good health food stores or you can have a crack at sprouting it yourself.

* Orange Blossom Stuffed Dates *


The locale of Neukölln where I’ve recently been residing, is home to the largest mosque in Berlin and a considerable population of people of Middle Eastern descent.  As Ramadan is over for another year and the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr (Eid) is in full swing, there is great excitement in the air, a Christmas summer holiday-kinda feeling, where hanging lanterns festoon windows and shop fronts are adorned with bright, kaleidoscopic decorations.  The Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, literally translated as “festivity of breaking the fast”, signifies the end of Ramadan, the holy month on the Islamic calendar where Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations during daylight.  Ramadan is a time of intensive sacrifice and reflection, where empathy for others less fortunate is expressed through acts of generosity and charity.  It is also a time of reconnecting with friends and family during the evening meal, Iftar.  The warmth and connectedness continues to be celebrated during Eid, when loved ones gather together for a few days of lavish feasts and merriment.

Dates are considered very important at this time and during the month of Ramadan they feature in daily rituals.  An odd number of dates (usually three) are consumed after sun down with a glass of water to break the fast and will unquestionably star in a dessert during Iftar later that evening.  During Eid, they are also given out as presents.  What I love about dates, especially the Medjool variety, is that they are like eating a healthy caramel.  They are so naturally sweet and satisfying, that eating one or two will kick any mid-afternoon sugar cravings to the curb.  Dates are an excellent source of fibre and are also surprisingly rich in protein – evidently 5 times more than other fruit.  They also contain 15 different minerals including zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorous.  Basically, they are wee powerhouses of goodness.

When I lived in Jordan, one of my beloved pursuits was to visit the sweet stores, especially during Ramadan and Eid.  There were so many delicacies on offer, tantalizing combinations of dried fruits and nuts, usually with an aromatic hint of rose or orange blossom.  It was here that I first encountered stuffed dates and I was instantly charmed as they’re my kind of sweetie treatie – naturally healthy and bursting with super sweet flavor.  This is my take on stuffed dates, which are the quintessence of good times and celebration.  Eid Mubarak!

Orange Blossom Stuffed Dates

16 – 24 Medjool dates

A selection of nuts:  Walnuts, macadamias, almonds, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews…

The juice and zest of an orange

1 tablespoon of honey or agave

1 tablespoon of orange blossom water *

1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon

In a small saucepan, slowly bring to boil the water, honey, orange-blossom water and cinnamon.  Allow to boil for a couple of minutes, stirring often, then set aside to cool. Split the dates open and remove the pit.  Set the nuts into the dates, with the nuts resting lengthwise.  With a pastry brush, generously glaze the stuffed dates with the syrup.  Pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the glaze to set.  Arrange on a platter and sprinkle the orange zest over the stuffed dates.   Enjoy at any time of the day or night, with rose tea, coffee or as a celebratory sweetie-treatie.

Note:  There will probably be some left over syrup, which makes a great accompaniment to yoghurt.

* Orange blossom water can be found at all good delicatessens or Middle Eastern food retailers.

* Wunder Bars *


One of the things that I love the most about spending the summers in Berlin (apart from avoiding the New Zealand winters) is the access to inexpensive, organic whole foods. Clearly, I like to dabble in ancient grains and when I go to a supermarket or even a drugstore here, the aisles are packed with interesting and über-healthy types of flour, cereals, grains and vegan products.  Here, I really am in super foodie heaven.   A product that I’ve been experimenting with lately is puffed amaranth.  If I’m not having it for breakfast simply with fruit, milk and a touch of honey, I’m adding it to my super fruity Bircher muesli recipe for extra goodness.  Amaranth is a silent-type super food that you may have spotted hanging about on the bottom shelf at your local health food store.  However insignificant it may appear, it really does work in extraordinary ways.  Amaranth is actually a seed or “pseudo-grain”, which has been a staple food in numerous cultures for centuries.  In fact, the Aztecs regarded it as having supernatural powers and used it in religious ceremonies by forming a paste out of amaranth and honey and creating an image of a particular god they were worshipping.  Once formed, the image of the god was broken up and shared between the worshippers to eat.  This “food of the gods” is gluten-free, very high in protein and easily digested.  It is also rich in vitamins, containing vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K and folate.  Minerals present include manganese, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

Another super food that I’ve encountered in Berlin is the aronia berry, or chokeberry, as it is sometimes referred. The aronia berry is a native to North America and is being hailed for its amazing super food properties.  Research has suggested that presently it has the highest concentration of antioxidants in any fruit.  Aronia berries also have an extremely high concentration of flavonoids, which help the body fight against disease.  They are known to improve circulation and have a good dose of quinic acid, which can prevent urinary infection – helpful and nutritious!

So, these wunderbars really are a wunder.  They are prepared in a flash and are generally made up of ingredients that you would have lying about in the nether regions of your pantry (with the exception of the aronia berries).  They also provide you with extreme nutrients to ensure that you power through the afternoon without resorting to making evils at your irritating colleague, or Beau, who you’ve been living in a shoe box with for far too long.


2 1/2 cups of puffed amaranth

1/4 of a cup of loosely ground flaxseed

1/4 of a cup of dates, finely chopped

1 cup of dried super fruits: cherries, goji berries, raisins, aronia berries, blueberries…

1/4 of a cup of sunflower seeds

1/2 a cup of nuts:  almonds, pistachios, cashews, Brazil nuts…

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

A large pinch of ground Himalayan rock salt

1/2 a cup of agave or honey

1/2 a cup of tahini

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract/vanilla paste

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Heat the wet ingredients in a saucepan until a liquid consistency is reached, right before boiling point.  Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until it resembles a divine mass of goodness.  Push into a form and pop into the fridge for a few hours to solidify.  Cut into bars and eat for breakfast, lunch or simply when you’re having a “moment”.  Keep refrigerated for the perfect wunder bar.

* Super Fruity Bircher Muesli *


Bircher muesli is one of the best ways to start the day – naturally sweet and oh so nourishing, it really does give you the sustenance to skip out the door.  Bircher muesli was created circa 1900 by a Swiss German physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner to nurse his patients back to health the old fashioned way – with a hearty injection of nutrients derived from raw food.  It is essentially a combination of oats, fruit and nuts, soaked in juice overnight.  There are many variations of the original and the way that I enjoy mine is super creamy, full of spice and packed with plumped-up super fruit.  Bircher muesli is also very practical – it’s simple to prepare at night whilst cooking your dinner and is easily transported if you are taking a container full to work or, much preferably, the park to eat.

Oats are a nutritional wunderkind, providing serious nutrition to many, many people all around the world, mostly on week days.  Oats contain high levels of both soluble and insoluble fibre, which is good news for digestion as it keeps the digestive track cleansed and in tip-top shape and also keeps you full for longer.  Bircher muesli is also heart smart, with the oats and sunflower seeds providing cholesterol-lowering goodness from manganese, selenium and magnesium.  The high protein content in oats, sunflower seeds and amaranth coupled with the antioxidant hit from the super fruit make this a power breakfast fit for both Olympic athletes and generally awesome athletes, like ourselves.

Super Fruity Bircher Muesli 

1 cup of rolled oats

1 apple, cored and grated

10 dates, roughly chopped

1/2 a cup of dried super fruit of your choosing: goji berries, cherries, raisins, sultanas, cranberries

2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons of coconut chips or thread coconut

Cinnamon to taste *

1/2 a cup of yoghurt

1 1/2  cups of fresh apple juice (3 apples, juiced)

The juice of half a lemon

To serve:  2 tablespoons of puffed amaranth and extra fruit (blueberries work especially well).

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to soak overnight.  Stir in puffed amaranth to serve and garnish with extra fruit.  Dig in.

Serves 2.

* I usually add about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon but I prefer mine extra spicy.