Category Archives: Sweetie Treatie

* Christmas Cake with Creamy Cashew Icing *

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Christmas Cake

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Wow, the silly season has really lived up to its name this year. So many dinner invites, Christmas shopping, BBQs, elderflower fizz cocktails, a wedding, driving ten hours to reach my family’s place in Kaiteriteri, Motueka. One hardly has time to think, let alone bake the annual Chrissie Cake.

If you’re like me and you love to leave things to the very last minute, this Christmas cake is a winner. I mean, look at how late I’m posting this and you’ll still have time to shop for the fruit, have a big pot of tea and cake at your favourite café, soak the fruit overnight, cook the cake and wrap all your pressies whilst drinking a sherry! Last year I whipped this cake up on Christmas Day whilst entertaining a crowd of twenty and it went down a treat.

A lovely lady called Ellie Henderson gave me this fruit cake recipe when I was a wee lass, out on a neighbourhood stroll in Kaiteriteri one day. I popped in and proceeded to devour a good portion of the Christmas cake the good host had offered me. To avoid a repeat, she kindly handed me the recipe. I couldn’t believe that this fruitcake that tasted so damn good had no fat or refined sugar.

I’ve tweaked the original recipe by adding a decadent twist of creamy cashew icing. The creamy icing is made up of cashews, which you can read how amazing they are in my recipe for Dreamy Lemon and Blueberry “Cheeseake” . The high content of dried fruit offers a generous dose of fibre, which will assist in cleansing the system after all the indulgent Christmas goodies. As this cake does not contain lard (eeek!) or mounds of sugar like a traditional Christmas cake, you’ll be able to eat a good portion and not feel like a nap afterwards, as your blood sugars should remain consistent. Until the Champagne Breakfast.

Christmas Cake with Creamy Cashew Icing

For the Christmas Cake:

1 kg of dried fruit (whatever you fancy… dates, currants, apricots, cranberries, sultanas, raisins, Goji berries, cherries, prunes.)

2 cups of good quality orange juice or tea

A teaspoon of cinnamon

A teaspoon of mixed spice

2 cups of self-raising flour

For the Creamy Cashew Icing:

2 cups of activated cashews

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of honey

The juice and zest of a lemon

A teaspoon of vanilla

A pinch of Himalayan rock salt

Water as needed

In a bowl, soak the cashews overnight in water. In another large bowl, soak the dried fruit in the orange juice, tea, or a mixture of the two. Add the mixed spice and cinnamon and stir well. Leave overnight in the refrigerator and give a stir every so often.

Heat the oven to 150°c. Line a large cake tin with baking paper. Add the self-raising flour and mix well. Spread the mixture into the lined tin and pop into the oven for 2 hours.

In a blender, combine all of the icing ingredients (apart from the water) and mix well. Add water as needed to reach the desired smooth consistency. Ice the cake and eat!

* Super Grain Pancakes with Strawberries and Coconut Whipped Cream *

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Sunday brunch. It’s somewhat of an institution here in New Zealand. The weekend is celebrated with a long, lazy breakfasty lunch, often amidst the chaos of a café, or if you’re like me, in the quiet comfort of your sweet home, surrounded by National Radio and lashings of Lady Grey tea.

I’m a sweet brunch girl – pancakes, fruit salad and Bircher muesli being on my list of hit picks. My Beau, like so many others out there, prefers a Brunch with The Works: Eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and toast (with marmite and cheese). That just ain’t how I roll. This recipe for brunch is perfect as it’s not too sweet and includes a hearty dose of super foods, which makes for two very happy campers.

The pancakes include Quark (or Kwark), which is possibly an ingredient that if you haven’t lived in Europe, you’ll probably be thinking “what on earth?” right about now. Quark is a soft cheese, similar to cottage cheese, although it’s not made with rennet like cottage cheese and has a smoother consistency. There are different grades of quark – minimal fat, regular (20% fat) and creamy (40% fat). In this recipe, the Super Foodie panel of experts advises that the minimal fat option is the winner. Quark is high in both protein and calcium, ensuring a satisfyingly healthy brunch that’s good for your bones, whilst pleasing many a palate.

Recently I’ve come across some exceptional Healtheries (brand) products, which are a welcome change from the traditional LSA (linseed, sunflower, almond) mixtures. The LSA used in this recipe has the added benefits of black chia, buckwheat and quinoa flakes, which provide extra fibre, antioxidants and essential omega-3 fatty acids. It also works super well sprinkled on yoghurt for an afternoon snack and appears to make everything just taste better. I should know – I’ve almost gone through a whole pack in 10 days.

The coconut whipped cream is a take on the delectable version that I’ve seen on Brandi’s blog The Healthy Flavor. I get very inspired by the dedicated food bloggers that are beavering away in various parts of the world, creating interesting and innovative dishes. Unfortunately, many of you won’t be able to enjoy the summer strawberry season here in New Zealand, however, a berry coulis (made from frozen berries) would also make a yummo substitute. Roll on the weekend!

Super Grain Pancakes with Strawberries and Whipped Coconut Cream

1/2 a cup of LSA with Super Grains

1/2 a cup of oat bran

A teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 a cup of quark

3 free-range eggs

3/4 – 1 cup of milk (depending on whether you’d prefer them large and flat, or small and fat)

Coconut oil for frying

A can of refrigerated coconut cream

A teaspoon of vanilla extract/paste or a vanilla pod, de-seeded

A punnet of the freshest, juiciest strawberries you can find

Agave or high-quality maple syrup

In a bowl, mix the LSA, oat bran and baking powder together. Beat the eggs together with the quark and milk and combine with the dry ingredients. Allow to rest for a few minutes. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and spoon the mixture into the frying pan to create pancakes of the desired size.

Whip the refrigerated coconut cream and vanilla in a beater or food processor until it forms peaks. Slice the strawberries. Layer or roll the pancakes with the strawberries and top with the coconut whipped cream. Douse in agave or maple syrup and devour.

Serves 3 really hungry people or 4 relatively hungry people.  

* Dreamy Lemon and Blueberry “Cheesecake” (Raw + Vegan) *

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Happy World Vegan Day!

To commemorate World Vegan Day, which marks the start of World Vegan Month, I thought that I’d celebrate by paying homage to the traditional German ritual of devouring cake most afternoons, usually at 1600 hours on the dot. In café’s and Bäckereien up and down the Vaterland, whether in a sleepy country village after a hike in the hills (with hiking poles, naturally) or street-side in the leafy green city of Berlin, people are honoring this tradition of “Kaffee und Kuchen” by eating cake.  Lots of cake.

Now that I’m back in New Zealand, I really appreciate these German niceties. New Zealand has an exceptional “café culture”, with more cafés than is actually necessary, but our rituals are not as defined as in Germany. I like to hold on to these traditions in my home country in a determined effort to feel closer to the Northern climes. Other European rituals I practice include drinking freezing vodka, listening to techno at any given opportunity and recycling with fervent intensity.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been exposed to some pretty damn good cafés in my time and my recent trip to Europe was most inspiring. There is a real movement towards eating healthier and more holistically. Naturally, the progression towards raw and vegan food was well noted, as organic shops, super markets, café’s and restaurants are offering more raw and vegan options. For more information on the benefits of eating raw, have a squizz at my recipe for Sprouted Quinoa, Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad.

A wonderful café that I’ve had the privilege of working at is Goodies on Warschauer Straße in Friedrichain, Berlin. The food is amazingly innovative and the café is run like a well-oiled German ship. The raw + vegan cakes are absolute works of art and taste exceptional. Similarly with this Lemon and Blueberry “Cheesecake”, the main ingredient in a raw + vegan cake is nuts, predominantly cashews for the “cheese” mixture. The cashews give a super creamy texture and taste, without being high in saturated fat like your average cheesecake. Cashews have a lower fat content than other nuts and comprise of about 75% unsaturated fat acids. A good proportion of this is oleic acid, which promotes cardiovascular health. So you can “have your cake and eat it too” as the old saying goes.

This cake is an ode to those Goodies raw + vegan cakes and those honorary Germans eating cake pünktlich in the afternoon all over the world.

Dreamy Lemon and Blueberry Cheese Cake (Raw + Vegan)

2 cups of nuts – any mix you like (I use an even mix of walnuts and almonds)

1/2 a cup of pitted Medjool dates

1/4 of a cup of thread coconut

2 1/2 cups of cashews

1/2 a cup of agave

5 tablespoons of coconut oil, gently heated

The zest and juice of three lemons

1 vanilla pod, deseeded

1/4 of a cup of cold water

2 cups of blueberries (preferably fresh but can be frozen)

In a bowl, soak the cashews overnight or for a minimum 0f 4 hours.  In another bowl, repeat with the other nuts of your choosing. Rinse well, drain and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the nuts of your choice with the pitted dates until a crumb-like consistency is reached. Sprinkle thread coconut into a decent sized, round pan. Press the nut mixture onto the coconut, ensuring the base is flat and even.

Place the cashews, agave, coconut oil, lemon zest and lemon juice, vanilla and water in the food processor and puree until smooth.

Pour the mixture onto the crust and freeze for a couple of hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer and place the blueberries on top of the cake. Slice whilst frozen and transfer to a serving platter. Defrost for about an hour and serve to amazed friends who won’t believe it’s raw and vegan.

Serves 8.

* Banana, Date and Coconut Baked Porridge *

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Yes, I know what you’re thinking – that’s no’ how ye make porriiidge!

Well, you may be right there, but this is not your average porridge. I’ve been making banana and date porridge in the traditional fashion for years now and loving the satisfyingly sweet warmth first thing in the morning. Porridge season always begins every year on the morning of Anzac Day (which falls on April the 25th) after the 6am Dawn Parade Service, which commemorates the soldiers who fought and died in the world wars. Providing we weren’t spending the New Zealand winter in the Northern Hemisphere, we would generally eat porridge until well into the spring.

Then I discovered baked oatmeal, or baked porridge as it’s called in these parts. Being an avid online foodie follower, I came across a few recipes for baked oatmeal and it’s only recently that I’ve actually started making it. This recipe is a fusion of a few of the recipes I’d seen online, but has been given the usual Super Foodie makeover to ensure that it’s the best possible start to the day (or night). As with most of my recipes, you can play around with the ingredients to ensure it suits your taste and diet, whether you’re vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or just trying to be healthier.

The coconut cream gives the porridge a luscious richness and through the process of baking, the porridge develops a crispy, biscuitesque crust. It really is an indulgent yet nutritious breakfast or brunch, perfect for kick-starting the weekend. The oats contain high levels of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, which has proven to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol and keeping your insides so fresh and so clean (clean). Oats also have a high concentration of balanced protein, as well as a good dose of essential fatty acids, both of which promote longevity and good health. In short, this is verdammt good stuff.

The beautifully designed ceramics featured in the photo are available from Whiteroom – Dunedin’s top design destination.

Banana, Date and Coconut Baked Porridge

2 cups of oats (non-contaminated, gluten-free oats if you are gluten-intolerant)

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

A heaped teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg or mixed spice

A handful of sunflower seeds

A handful of chia seeds

A good pinch of Himalayan rock salt

A cup of coconut cream

A cup of milk of your choosing (almond, hazelnut, dairy, hemp etc)

A tablespoon of honey, pure, unrefined maple syrup or agave (optional)

A teaspoon of vanilla paste, extract or a vanilla bean, de-seeded

An egg or equal quantity of egg replacement

2 very ripe bananas, chopped

15 dates, chopped

Greek yoghurt or non-dairy alternative to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a baking dish with coconut oil or oil. In a bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, spices, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and Himalayan rock salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the coconut cream, your choice of sweetener, vanilla and egg or egg replacement together. Add the bananas, dates and liquid mixture to the dry mixture and mix.

Pour into the baking dish and pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, cut up and serve with Greek yoghurt or whatever else you fancy.

Serves 4 very hungry people or 6 moderately hungry people.

* Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread *

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I LOVE Nutella. In fact, I can never quite get enough of it. I find that if I start the day with this creamy, dreamy spread, by mid-morning I’ll be scrambling around the kitchen looking for anything to spread more Nutella on, whether it be strawberries, a teaspoon (errrmm, I’ll admit, a tablespoon) or an old crust of bread. However, I do limit my Nutella consumption to Europe (where I tend to eat much more chocolate in various, delectable guises) along with other hedonistic indulgences like dancing in techno clubs until 8:30am and unemployment.

One of my favourite past times whilst working in Waterloo, Belgium (yes, where the Napoleon-led French army was defeated), was to visit Le Pan Quotiden – a rustic, communal table kinda place – which made delicious hazelnut and raisin baguettes and their very own chocolate hazelnut spread, in dark, milk and white chocolate flavours. The combination of the baguette, laden with plump fruit and crunchy nuts, with the dark chocolate hazelnut spread was heavenly. So heavenly in fact, I sought out new establishments in other European cities lucky enough to be home to Le Pan Quotiden such as Antwerp, Amsterdam and London and further indulged my addiction.

In order to get my Nutella fix now that I’m no longer living on the Continent, I’ve found the perfect Nutella substitute which is much more in line with my superfood philosophy and tastes far superior. In comparison to Nutella, which is extremely high in sugar and modified palm oil, this recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Spread is actually good for you. It has no refined sugar and is packed full of superfood goodness from the raw cacao, which you can read about in my recipe for Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Raspberries and Candied Almonds. It also contains good fats like coconut oil and hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic and the essential fatty acid linoleic acid, which increases good cholesterol and lessens bad cholesterol. Hazelnuts are also especially rich in folate, which is good news if you’re expecting a wee nipper and are also high in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Happy days!

When purchasing the hazelnuts, I recommend getting the freshest, best quality nuts you can find. In Dunedin, we have a stall at the Saturday market that offers the best damn hazelnuts you’ve ever had. Clive and Jen Blunden of Island Stream Hazels grow their own hazelnuts and produce an array of premium hazelnut products. Seriously, once you’ve attempted to shell generic, old hazelnuts from the supermarket, usually of Turkish origin, you’ll never make the mistake again. Ever. Or you can save yourself time and energy and buy pre-skinned hazelnuts, which make this recipe an absolute breeze.

The beautifully designed ceramics featured in the photo are available from Whiteroom – Dunedin’s top design destination.

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

200 grams of activated* hazelnuts (soaked for a minimum of 4 hours and rinsed well)

1/2 a cup or raw cacao nibs or raw cacao powder

A tablespoon of pure vanilla extract (or the seeds from 2 vanilla beans)

1/2 a cup of agave nectar, raw honey or pure, unrefined maple syrup

A pinch of Himalayan rock salt

3 tablespoons of coconut oil, lightly warmed

1/4 – 1/2 a cup of nut milk (almond, hazelnut, etc or other milk if you’re not vegan) depending on how creamy you’d like it.

In a baking tray, roast the activated hazelnuts at 18oºc for about 10 minutes until toasted. The skins should turn a couple of shades darker and a sweet, nutty aroma should have filled the air.

While the hazelnuts are still warm, remove the skins by shaking in a fine mesh sieve, or rubbing between a tea towel or your fingers. If there are some stubborn ones, you can pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes and try again. Aim to remove at least 80% of the skins. Allow the hazelnuts to cool completely.

In a food processor, blend the hazelnuts until a fine or buttery consistency is reached. If you are using cacao nibs, when the hazelnuts reach approximately the same size, pop them in to the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and velvety. This is highly addictive. You have been warned.

* Activating nuts is when you soak nuts in water, thus helping to release enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid found in the outer layer of nuts (and also in seeds and grains). Phytic acid binds to the minerals in nuts, which makes it hard for the body to absorb properly. By soaking or activating nuts, our bodies get maximum benefits from the nutrients.

* Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Raspberries and Candied Almonds *

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Surely if there was a “Land of Chocolate”, Germany would be it (insert mental image from The Simpsons episode where Homer frolics around an imaginary German land made entirely out of chocolate here).  Chocolate appears everywhere in Germany, bright, alluring packets lining the aisles of supermarkets, corner stores and delis.  And my goodness, is it devoured – on buses, on the tube, biking down the road whilst talking on the phone, hiking in the hills – it seems it’s always a good time for a wee stück of chocolatey goodness.  Germany is one of the highest consumers of chocolate in the world and it is heavily engrained in German culture. It is also widely known that some kids grow up thinking that cows are actually purple after years of exposure to the purple Milka Chocolate cow.  In actual fact, the average German will eat around 11 kilograms of chocolate a year – meine Gute, that’s a whole lotta chocolate.

Chocolate has received a great deal of press in the past few years as research has unfolded just how high the levels of antioxidants are in cocoa, which you can read about in my recipe for chocolate spice bliss balls.  However, if you would like to go one step higher on the superfood-o-meter, raw cacao is the crème de la crème.  Raw cacao is one of the most beneficial superfoods that you can eat, it’s the cacao bean in it’s purest, most wunderbar form, containing iron, calcium, fibre, potassium and zinc.  Raw cacao is high in antioxidant flavanoids, which can help improve circulation and blood pressure. It also contains high levels of magnesium, which is one of the most effective minerals to combat stress, as well as building strong teeth and bones.  Raw cacao also promotes the release of neurotransmitters, which in turn release hormones that make you feel pretty fine and dandy.  One of these neurotransmitters, serotonin, can aid in reducing depression and combating PMS symptoms – what a superfood wunderkind!  The bonus is that by making your own chocolatey treats, you have absolute control over what you are putting into your mouths and can keep it as pure and unrefined as it was originally intended.

Chocolate mousse often conjures up thoughts of über-decadence, a bloated stomach and the goddess of all things domestic, Nigella Lawson.  In a typical chocolate mousse recipe, the main ingredients are cream, sugar and chocolate, which is such a feisty combination that it’s no wonder you feel like a nap afterwards.  However, with this chocolate avocado mousse, you get maximal health benefits with an intense chocolatey hit, without the post-dessert-too-much-dairy slump.  It’s sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan (when using agave) and can also be raw, providing raw honey or agave is used and that the almonds are kept in their natural state.  This dessert is also textural sensation – the tart raspberries, mixed with with the creamy chocolate mousse and lightly-spiced candied almonds is a superfoodie winner. Do it do it.

Raspberry and Chocolate Mousse with Candied Almonds

Two ripe avocados

Two tablespoons of raw cacao powder

Two tablespoons of coconut oil, softened

Two tablespoons of raw honey or agave

One teaspoon of vanilla paste/extract or a vanilla bean

A pinch of Himalayan rock salt

1/2 a cup of milk of your choosing (almond, hazelnut, dairy, rice, oat, etc)

1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries

Fresh mint to garnish

Candied Almonds

1/3 of a cup of almonds

One teaspoon of coconut oil

One tablespoon of raw honey

1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon

Spoon the avocado into a bowl, blender or food processor*.  Add the raw cacao powder, softened coconut oil, raw honey or agave, milk, vanilla and salt.  Mix until smooth.  In a bowl, lightly mash about half of the raspberries with a fork.  Layer into small glasses, alternating the mousse with the mashed raspberries and the whole raspberries as you like. Allow to cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Toast the almonds for a few minutes in small frying pan until lightly crunchy.  Add the coconut oil and toss around in the pan for another couple of minutes.  Add the honey and keep the almonds moving around the pan until a light caramel color is reached.  Take off the heat, add the cinnamon and stir well.  Transfer to baking paper and allow caramel to set.  Once hardened, break up the candied almonds, sprinkle over the mousse, garnish with mint and serve.

*  If you don’t have a food processor or blender, use a whisk and watch your guns grow.

Serves 4

* Orange Blossom Stuffed Dates *

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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 *

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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.