Category Archives: Breakfast

* Wunder Bars *

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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.

Wunderbars

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 *

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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.

* Lemon Chia Curd *

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Lemon curd is surely one of the finer things on earth – put simply, it’s silky, smooth sunshine in a pot.  With the addition of chia, this lemon curd is decorated with tiny, speckled seeds which provide a rich source of antioxidants and give a delightful twist on an old classic.  It is so versatile that when I have a batch in the fridge, it is likely that I’ll have it on toast for breakfast, on crackers or mixed into yoghurt as an afternoon snack and featured somewhere in a dessert that evening.  The truly brilliant thing about this recipe is that you can have the zesty, creamy goodness sans unnecessary fat and refined sugar, which is usually present in traditional lemon curd recipes.  It is seriously simple – eggs, lemons, honey and the shining super food star, chia.  The chia seeds provide a dreamy texture and gelatinous quality to the curd which butter would usually achieve.

Chia is a relatively new product on our shelves, but has been cultivated and used in a variety of ways in South America for centuries.  It comes from the plant Salvia hispanica and is a member of the mint family.  Chia is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and unlike flaxseeds, does not have to be ground to enable nutrients to be absorbed by the body.  Chia seeds are also a good source of fibre, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, calcium and niacin.  When mixed with liquid and allowed to sit for 20 – 30 minutes, chia forms a gel which can be used as a vegan and gluten-free thickening agent.  Basically, you can add chia seeds to anything you like – sprinkled on salads or porridge, as an energy-boosting ingredient to a smoothie or ground up in baking.

Lemon Chia Curd

2/3 of a cup of lemon juice (about 5 large lemons)

The zest of two lemons

1/3 of a cup of good quality honey

5 free-range egg yolks

1 free-range egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

1 heaped tablespoon of chia seeds

Place all of the ingredients into a thick-bottomed saucepan and whisk* together at a low – moderate heat.  Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, usually about 5-6 minutes or when the mixture sticks to the back of a spoon.  Take off the heat, transfer into a vessel and allow the mixture to set in the fridge for 1-2 hours.  The lemon chia curd will keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks, though it will most probably be snaffled in the first couple of days.  Serve with anything you like, the possibilities are truly endless.

* Note:  I’ve found that using a silicone whisk as opposed to a metal whisk makes for a far superior tasting lemon chia curd.

* Banana and Coconut Pancakes with Roasted Stone Fruit and Coconut Yoghurt *

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If you’ve ever had the luxury of eating banana pancakes in Thailand, you’ll know just how delectable they are.  These are a take on the pancakes I chose off the restaurant menus in Thailand time and time again.  Light, fluffy and seriously moreish, they are sure to get you in the good books with whoever put you on the naughty chair (errm, sorry about that, honey).  This recipe is perfect if you have a crowd to feed, as the pancakes keep well in a warm oven in between a couple of paper towels whilst you finish off rest of the batch.  The combination of the pancakes with the roasted stone fruit and coconut yoghurt is such a winner that this is sure to become a Sunday morning staple.

Coconut has received a great deal of press recently. as it is often hailed as a superfood but also has a high content of saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease.   However, coconut  also contains lauric acid, which is a super foodie star.  Lauric acid may help raise good cholesterol levels and is antimicrobial, which supports the immune system.  Coconut also contains vitamin C  and potassium, which coupled with potassium-rich bananas in this recipe, is sure to pack a punch. My advice is to enjoy the benefits of coconut in moderation and head out for an afternoon stroll with your honey to further cement your place in their Good Books.

Pancakes

3 free-range eggs

3 bananas

1/3 of a cup of coconut milk (reserve the cream at the top of the can for the accompanying yoghurt)

2 tablespoons of oat bran

1/3 of a cup of wholemeal flour

3 tablespoons of coconut flakes plus a handful for toasting

A teaspoon of baking soda

A teaspoon of cinnamon

A teaspoon of vanilla paste, a vanilla pod or 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract

Coconut oil for cooking

Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl, mix together and form a well in the centre.   Mash the bananas and put aside.  Beat the eggs until nice and fluffy and add the coconut milk and vanilla.  Add the bananas and then place all the wet ingredients in the well and mix until combined.  Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a pan and spoon the batter into the pan.  N.b. these pancakes tend to flip better if they are smaller, usually 3 in the pan at once works a treat.  Cook until the upper side is covered with bubbles.  Turn the pancakes and cook the other side until golden brown.  Place on a plate in between two paper towels and rest in a warm oven.  Repeat with the rest of the batter until you have a mound of delicious pancakes.

 

Roasted Stone Fruit

3 – 4 nectarines

3 – 4 plums

A tablespoon of apple syrup, agave or pure maple syrup

1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla paste or vanilla essence

The zest of a lemon

Heat the oven to 180°C.  Cut the stone fruit into halves or quarters depending on size and place in an oven dish.  Mix the syrup/agave with the vanilla and lemon zest and drizzle over the fruit.  Bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes until perfectly roasted.

 

Coconut Yoghurt

A cup of yoghurt

A tablespoon of honey, melted

Coconut cream from the top of the can of coconut milk

Mix all of the ingredients together and put in small ramekins.

 

To serve:  Stack the pancakes on a plate, add a good serve of roasted fruit and arrange the ramekin of coconut yoghurt so that it looks pretty.  Garnish with toasted coconut flakes and a fresh sprig of mint from the garden.  Drizzle apple syrup or maple syrup over pancakes and devour.

Serves 2, with leftovers for snacking on later (if you’re lucky).

 

* Coconut Shimmy *

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Yipee, the sun is back on!  It’s time to kick back on the patio with this tangy and über-hydrating Coconut Shimmy and make the most of these sunny afternoons.  It’s fruity, creamy and contains no sugar, soy or dairy – just pure super food goodness from the earth.  This Coconut Shimmy is especially good if you’ve just had a work out or a footloose and fancy free night on the town, as the main ingredient is coconut water and just in case you have not heard what amazing stuff this is, take note.  Coconut water is the clear liquid from young, green coconuts.  It is a natural, isotonic drink with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood, so it will replenish your body back to perfection.  Coconut water contains many essential vitamins and minerals, has a high potassium content and is oh so naturally sweet.  So, even as the nippier autumn kicks in, this dreamy refreshment will transport you back to that summer holiday by the sea, whilst giving you the bang to get outside and frolic in all of the pretty leaves.

300 mls of coconut water

1/2 a cup of fresh pineapple chunks

A few sprigs of fresh mint

A 1cm piece of ginger

A squeeze of lime or lemon juice

A few ice cubes if you need some cooling

Put all of the above ingredients in a blender and crank it on its highest setting.  Serve in the sun with your nearest and dearest.

* Quinoa Porridge with Flaxseed *

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Quinoa Porridge with Flax Seed

Quinoa is an ancient grain-like seed cultivated by the Incas over 5000 years ago.  It is a superfood, full of phyto-nutrients, antioxidants and can help balance your blood sugar.  Not only is quinoa extremely versatile to cook with, it is also easily digestible and packed with high quality protein and fibre.  Most importantly, it’s totally yummo.

I make this porridge all year round in many different variations, depending on mood and season.  I like to add a zesty orange-infused dried fruit mix from the bulk bins in the supermarket (thanks to our beloved Alison Holst) consisting of cherries, goji berries, golden sultanas and cranberries.  You can add whatever you feel like on the day to the porridge, like fresh, frozen or dried fruit and berries etc.    The dried fruit is added at the beginning of the cooking process and the fresh and frozen fruit slightly  later on.  There are different types of quinoa, including red, black and the standard cream colored variety.  The red variety is slightly crunchy, has a mildly bitter flavour and also needs to be cooked for a few minutes longer than the standard variety.

I usually make quinoa porridge at night whilst I’m preparing dinner and have the time to keep an eye on the pot, as it requires a stir every five or so minutes.  I simply reheat it in the morning and add a dash more milk if needed.  I generally use oat milk, but you can use any milk that takes your fancy.  This serves two people, but double, triple or even quadruple the recipe to your heart’s content.


1/2 a cup of quinoa, thoroughly washed

1 1/2 cups of milk of your choosing (diary, oat, soy, almond…)

1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon

A pinch of Himalayan rock salt (optional)

A handful of dried, fresh or frozen fruit of your choosing

Yoghurt, ground flaxseed and raw nuts to serve

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water.  Place in a small pot and cover with milk.  Add cinnamon, salt and dried fruit. You can add fresh or frozen fruit now or slightly later during the cooking process if you prefer.

Slowly bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.  Take off the heat and put the lid on, allowing porridge to sit for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with yoghurt, ground flaxseed and raw nuts for a breakfast that packs serious punch.

Serves 2.

* Central Otago Fruit Salad with Manuka Honey Yoghurt *

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Central Otago Fruit Salad with Manuka Honey Yoghurt

After spending New Years at Lake Hawea, Central Otago, we picked up some glorious fruit from a roadside stall in Roxburgh on our journey home.  Central Otago is famous for its luscious cherries and stone fruit and this fruit salad is a celebration of summer in Otago.  This fruit salad is bursting with potent antioxidants and the addition of Manuka honey will give your body the power to destroy destructive microorganisms, viruses and bacteria.   This dish is perfect as  a light breakfast or a healthy dessert.

Fruit Salad                                                         DSCF8244

4 peaches

4 nectarines

2 handfuls of raspberries

2 handfuls of cherries

Fresh mint to garnish.

Cut the nectarines and peaches in a rustic fashion and put in a bowl.

Place raspberries and cherries evenly over stone fruit.

Garnish with fresh mint from the garden.

Manuka Honey Yoghurt

2 cups of plain yoghurt

1 tablespoon of active Manuka honey

A few drops of vanilla extract or a smidgen of vanilla paste

Chopped almonds and dried apricots

Heat up Manuka honey in the microwave for 20 seconds or until honey is a runny consistency.

Put yoghurt in a serving bowl and stir in vanilla paste/vanilla extract until well mixed.

Swirl Manuka honey into yoghurt by stirring in gently with a spoon.

Garnish with chopped almonds and dried apricots.

Lay fruit salad and Manuka honey yoghurt on the table and let everyone help themselves.  Serves 4.