Category Archives: Vegan Option

* Chocolate Kamut Crackles *

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Chocolate Kamut CracklesI recently completed the 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge (actually, it was in May, but I’ve been on hiatus) – and my goodness, what a challenge it was. The biggest challenge was not having time for much else apart from hitting the studio and practicing, as I work full time and life is busy. Other challenges included the lethargy, the insatiable hunger, the injured hip and the constant washing of towels (“it looks like a Chinese laundry around here!” remarked my Beau on more than a few occasions.) Alas, I made it and I felt pretty damn good in the end. It is an incredible mental and physical challenge and now I’ve done it, I don’t feel the need to ever do it again.

When practicing yoga, and especially when I did the challenge, I need high energy, light food before class. You’re not supposed to eat for 2 – 3 hours before practicing, but I feel better if I sneak a wee snack in. I came up with these chocolate kamut crackles to fill the void and I’m super pleased with the result – they’re decadent, healthy and seriously moreish.

Chocolate crackles are an old school, retro favourite and if you grew up in New Zealand in the 80’s and 90’s, you’ll know all about them. They’re a blessing for busy people as they require no baking and are ready in a flash (parents – take note.) They’re also a great way to get a good dose of high quality cereal in your diet – especially if the cereal is as impressive as kamut.

Kamut® is a trademarked ancient grain, otherwise known as khorasan wheat. It’s closely related to durum wheat and it’s been discovered that many people with traditional wheat allergies or sensitivities are able to tolerate kamut. Kamut packs a powerful protein punch and is high in fibre, which aids digestion and helps lower cholesterol. It also contains considerable amounts of magnesium, manganese and zinc, as well as your daily recommended dose of selenium. Kamut is naturally sweet and the puffed variety actually tastes like honey puffs (but is genuinely good for you). Kamut puffs (kamoot poofs) are available in all good health food stores, organic markets and specialist supermarkets.

Chocolate Kamut Crackles

1/2 a cup of coconut oil

1/2 a cup of honey or rice malt syrup

1/2 a cup of raw cacao or cocoa powder

4 cups of kamut puffs

3/4 of a cup of seeds, nuts or dried fruit (optional)

A pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt

In a large saucepan, slowly melt the coconut oil and honey or rice malt syrup. Take off the heat and add the raw cacao or cocoa powder and mix until it resembles melted chocolate. Gradually add the kamut puffs and optional extras (if you have any) and combine until the kamut puffs are covered in chocolatey goodness. Transfer in to cupcake cases and allow to set in the fridge. A batch keeps well in the fridge, although be warned – they won’t last long.

* Embas Bread *

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Embas Bread

I’d been searching for a wholesome, super healthy bread recipe for a long, long time, as bread was one of the only foods I ate that I didn’t make from scratch and I like to know what’s really in my food. Store-bought, overly processed bread just does not seem to agree with me and although I do indulge occasionally, it is best avoided. I was overjoyed when this recipe for Life-Changing Loaf of Bread popped into my mail box from the beloved My New Roots blog, as it saved me many, many hours in the kitchen and gave me some serious inspiration to bake.

I’ve called my take on this recipe ‘Embas Bread’, as in stark contrast to regular wheat bread, this keeps you going for hours, much in the same way that Lembas Bread kept those wee Hobbits trekking for days. And my other name (no, not Super Foodie, the other one) is Em.   Ta da!

I’ve adapted the original recipe by increasing the ratio of flaxseeds and decreasing the sunflower seeds, oil and salt. I’ve also made two versions of this bread, a savoury and a sweet. The sweet option is my fave and is reminiscent of the Müsli-Brot that was a weekly staple whilst living in Berlin. It’s laden with figs and dates, spiced with cinnamon and mixed spice and is perfect for breakfast as banana on toast. The savoury version is also rather delicious and certainly keeps the Other Half happy. I make them both at the same time and store them in the freezer, sliced and ready to tuck in to.

Both versions of the bread are extremely nutritious and get a big Super Foodie tick of approval. Psyllium husks are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre and keep those bowels in top form. Flaxseed and chia are tiny seeds with mighty powers which provide a solid protein hit, as well as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fat which is very good for your heart. There is also no flour in these recipes, the base being made up of rolled oats, which are renowned for sustained energy release to keep you powering through the day.

As well as being a Super Foodie dream, this recipe is also easy. No kneading, no rising, no finicky measures. Just bang it all in a bowl or pan, wait a couple of hours or overnight, bake and await the glorious scent of fresh bread wafting through your home.

Sweet Embas Bread

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

3/4 of a cup of flaxseed (a mix of whole and ground if you like)

3/4 of a cup of sunflower seeds

A cup of figs and dates, rustically chopped (you can also add nuts too)

4 tablespoons of psyllium husks

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

A teaspoon of cinnamon

A teaspoon of mixed spice

1/8 of a teaspoon of fine Himalayan rock salt

2 tablespoons of honey, agave or maple syrup

2 tablespoons of oil (coconut, olive or rice bran)

1 1/2 cups of water (you may need a touch more if you are using ground flaxseed)

Savoury Embas Bread

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

3/4 of a cup of flaxseed (a mix of whole and ground if you like)

3/4 of a cup of sunflower seeds

A cup of nuts and/or other seeds (pumpkin, poppy and sesame seeds work well)

4 tablespoons of psyllium husks

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

1/4 of a teaspoon of fine Himalayan rock salt

A tablespoon of honey, agave or maple syrup

2 tablespoons of oil (coconut, olive or rice bran)

1 1/2 cups of water (you may need a touch more if you are using ground flaxseed)

Grease a loaf pan or line with baking paper. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl or in the loaf pan. Mix all of the wet ingredients together, add to the dry ingredients and mix well. If using a bowl, transfer mixture into the loaf pan. Spread evenly in the pan and allow to rest for anywhere between 2 – 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 160° c fan bake. Place loaf in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and place upside down on the oven rack and cook for a further 25-30 minutes. The loaf is ready when it’s a wonderful golden brown colour and sounds hollow when tapped.

* Club Mate *

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Club Mate

As we set off from sleepy Papnat in the the searing heat, we passed flourishing market gardens, animals laying sedately under the canopy of trees and the occasional car with tourists, naturally (the locals wouldn’t dream of leaving the house mid afternoon.) After cascading down a hairpin windy road, we reached the beach of all beaches, the local’s secret of Korcula.

We headed down a secret garden kind of path to the glorious beach, aquamarine water sparkling in the bright, bright sun, this certainly was a paradise dreams were made of. We found a space, hit the water and explored the bay, swimming into wee coves and climbing up and down the rocks.

As a keen swimmer, Croatia was an absolute wunderland. Every morning I’d set off on an exploratory mission. With bikini underneath and goggles in hand, I’d jog around the bays and find a cordoned swimming area, which are found all along the coast. There is something so invigorating about doing laps in the sea, surrounded by other keen swimmers and placid fish bobbing around in the waves. In Croatia, swimming is a part of everyday summer life – the men practically live in their speedos and more often than not, the teency, figure-hugging lycra is patriotically designed with the Croatian flag on, proudly for the world to see.

After a long swim in the ocean, we were parched and in desperate need of refreshment. We headed to the beach watering hole ‘Club Mate’ and met the local lads. What is ironic is that the Club-Mate that I’m used to, is the famous carbonated yerba mate tea drink I practically live on when I’m in Berlin (along with half of the population there.) Club-Mate is derived from the leaves of the yerba mate tree native to South America. In its usual guise it is a hugely popular tea in Argentina and other parts of South America. However, in Germany and other parts of world lucky enough to have it, it’s a low sugar, highly stimulating and refreshing drink, which goes perfectly with vodka and an afternoon playing table tennis on the banks of the canal. Yerba mate contains a serious dose of antioxidants and is highly caffeinated, but without the usual jitters and crash that is associated with coffee.

We sat down and had a natter with Mate, the proprietor, who occasionally got up to blow his whistle and entice those walking past to have a shot of rakia, the house distilled spirit not dissimilar to rocket fuel. In another ironic twist, it was Mate’s family restaurant we’d just visited and were booked in to later that night. We spent the afternoon there, drinking beers with Mate and his friends, who had helped build the beach shack and were making sure that it lasted the summer, by keeping a half-cut but ever watchful eye on the place.

I thought it fitting to replicate Club-Mate, the drink, as an ode to our friend Mate and his kooky beach club. As Club-Mate is practically impossible to come by in New Zealand (one place sells it in Auckland) I’ve had to make it myself in order to indulge my addiction and I’m pretty damn pleased with the result.

Club Mate

2 tablespoons of yerba mate*

A litre of boiling water

A lemon, sliced

A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)

3 – 4 tablespoons of raw honey or agave

5oo mls – 1 litre of cold water or soda water

Steep the yerba mate leaves in boiling water for a few hours or overnight, along with the sliced lemon, vanilla (optional) and honey or agave.

If you have a Soda Stream machine, add the desired measure of cold water and fizz it up. If you don’t have a Soda Stream machine, simply add the desired measure of soda water. Serve on its own with ice or as a mixer with vodka and prepare to dance all night long.

* Yerba Mate is available at good health food stores and organic shops.

* Fig and Macadamia Roll *

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Fig and Macadamia Roll

Croatia. A dreamy, lush paradise basking in the warmth of the Adriatic. From a war torn country to a touristic pilgrimage, Croatia has emerged from the dark days to become a haven for foodies, the intrepid and those who simply want to laze on the beach drinking mojitos and wearing short shorts. This post marks the beginning of a series of recipes from a delightful holiday spent in Dalmatia a few months back.

As my Beau and I strolled through the narrow alleyways of the Old Town in Split, we were struck by the  intense heat of the Old Town, which entraps the hot air within its high brick walls. Sweat-drenched tourists battle on in a sedated state, longing for the next cool fix, like an icy-cold lemonade or a gelato. As is often the case in Croatia, the later in the day it is, the more critical it becomes to seek solace in air-conditioned shops and restaurants to cool off before heading to the next attraction. After watching the spectacle in the Old Town’s Square – a comical period drama of the Roman emperor Diocletian addressing the town folk outside his grand palace – we thankfully stumbled upon a tiny shop selling traditional Croatian gourmet products; sugar-coated almonds, honey lavender shortbread cookies and carob liqueur lined the shelves awaiting our Quality Control.

A generous pour of the customary carob liqueur by the hospitable host certainly did the trick and samples were devoured with great fervor. We had the pleasure of tasting a delectable little morsel of goodness, a fig and walnut roll, which many will attest has always been a heavenly combination. Made with young Dalmatian walnuts and orchard figs, dried in the Autumnal sun, this sweet treat graces many cheese boards in this neck of the woods and is typically matched with a fine local cheese, fresh from the Island of Pag or the farmer down the road.

To put an Antipodean twist on this classic, I created this figgy roll with macadamias and the result is is seriously good – intensely nectarous, wonderfully textured by the fig seeds and crunchy macadamias and lightly spiced by the cloves. The health benefits of figs are outlined in a previous post with a fresh fig recipe Goat Cheese, Figs and Walnuts with Drizzled Honey. The other super food star is the macadamia nut, which is native to Australia, New Caledonia and Indonesia, but is now grown in many warmer places, including our beloved New Zealand. Macadamias are a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, like oleic and palmitoleic acids, which research suggests increases good (HDL) cholesterol and reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood. They are also a good source of minerals including selenium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium and iron. A true wundernut, indeed.

If the figs have been laying about at the back of the pantry for a while, it works wonders to soak them overnight in some orange or grapefruit juice to freshen them up, hence why it is optional. If they are brimming with freshness, leave this part out. If you are vegan, try this recipe with a vegan cheese or creamy nut paste. This is also delicious as a sweetie treatie with a cup of tea or coffee.

Fig and Macadamia Roll

2 cups of dried figs, chopped

3/4 of a cup of orange or grapefruit juice (optional)

1 cup of macadamias

A tablespoon of honey (optional)

1/4 of a teaspoon of ground cloves

Soak the chopped dried figs in orange juice overnight if required. Drain off excess juice and pulse in a food processor until a sticky paste is formed.

Add the macadamias, honey (if you please) and cloves and pulse lightly, ensuring that some of the macadamias are still in large pieces.

Form into a roll using your hands, wrap in baking paper or glad wrap and keep in the fridge and cut into slices as required.

Alternatively, if you prefer a drier roll, allow to rest uncovered in the fridge or pantry for a few days. I can never wait that long, so I immediately enjoy with a strong cheese or a creamy vegan nut paste.

* Kefir Bananarama Shake à la Fabulous Fermentation Week *

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I’m so into bananarama shakes right now. I simply must have at least one per day, usually straight after work or on weekend afternoons before heading to the Botanics for some frisbee extravaganza action. I usually make my bananaramas with almond milk, but my dear friend and fellow food blogger Kauia Moriaty who writes the wunderbar eat it blog, informed me of the ladies who are spreading the joys of fermenting to the masses. Elenore Bendel Zahn who writes the Earthsprout blog and Sarah Britton from My New Roots are pioneering this fermentastic revolution and provide thorough and informed expositions on the benefits of fermenting fabulously.

I’m fairly new to fermenting, in fact, I’d only ever fermented kefir using cow’s milk and the result was seriously tart – so tart, it was undrinkable. The Fabulous Fermentation Week inspired me to try again and reap the nutritional rewards of these (dare I say) seriously strange grains.

Kefir is fermented milk made with kefir grains, which is a symbiotic culture of yeasts and good bacteria. It’s believed to have originated in the Caucasus mountains and is increasing in popularity as people are waking up to its incredible health benefits. Kefir is highly nutritious, full of gut-aiding probiotics and has a good dose of B12, which is good news for vegans and vegetarians whose diets are usually lacking in this integral vitamin. It also contains vitamins B1, B6, D, as well as folic acid, iodine, calcium and iron. Kefir can also be made from various types of milk, including coconut, almond, rice, seed, soy or dairy and can also ferment fruit juice and coconut water.

I purchased whole milk kefir from the organic store and sat it on the bench for a couple of days until the cauliflower-esque grains appeared and the kefir had started to form. As I wanted to make an almond milk kefir, I strained the kefir and washed the wee grains thoroughly and started the kefir process again, by putting the kefir grains and a good dose of almond milk in a jar, popping the lid on and allowing it to sit for a day or two.

If you find it really hard to stomach uber-tart food or beverages, disguising kefir is the key. Bananas are a great way to disguise the tartiest of tart flavours and coconut milk provides a creamy hit to balance the shake. LSA (Linseed, Sunflower, Almond mix) fortified with buckwheat, quinoa and chia provide an extra nutrient hit and the honey (or agave, maple syrup) gives the bananarama shake a nectarous finish.

Kefir Bananarama Shake à la Fabulous Fermentation Week                                                                                                                                                                

A cup of kefir, any which way you please

A cup of coconut milk

2 very ripe bananas

2 tablespoons of LSA

A tablespoon of raw honey, agave or maple syrup

A few cubes of ice

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and whizzz. Serve on the deck in the sun with your dearest or if you’re in the cooler climes, watching the snow and dreaming of summery pastures new.

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* Flaxseed and Chia Crackers with Beetroot and Horseradish Creme *

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Entertaining season is upon us. The garden is delightfully fragrant and heaving with life as summertime has graced us with its glorious presence. Christmas and New Years are done and dusted – it’s the perfect time to catch up with your nearest and dearest, free from the pressure that can come with Christmas celebrations.

In our house, we love to entertain. A typical soiree may include mojitos on the deck in the sun, followed by a casual dinner, often piping hot from the barbeque, then an all-night, killer karaoke session (well, past midnight anyhoo.) Yes, we do have the luxury of not having neighbours, in case you were wondering.

When entertaining, it is absolutely imperative that you can whip something up quick smart and more importantly, with the greatest of ease after a couple of mojitos in the bright, bright sun. Or else, impress your guests with those famously endearing cooking show words “here’s something I prepared earlier”. Which is by far the simplest method, in my opinion. And let the boys sort out the barbeque menu, which we all know they love to do.

I’m an absolute cracker fiend, with an addiction to Vita-Weat 9 Grain crackers. I’ve been wanting to make my own crackers and as a keen observer of all things foodie, I’ve come across a few recipes for flax seed or linseed crackers. My New Roots is a very inspiring blog, which provides incredibly healthy, innovative recipes. These crackers are inspired by Sarah Britton’s Savory Flax Crackers recipe. These crackers are pure goodness – no refined flour, just a serious dose of flax, chia, sesame and sunflower seeds. Flax seeds provide omega-3 essential fatty acids, which is great for both your heart and skin. Lignans are also present- a group of chemical compounds which are estrogen-type chemicals that also act like antioxidants in the body to counteract free radical damage. Additionally, by making your own crackers, the preservatives and additives which are usually present in the store-bought varieties are avoided.

A New Year’s resolution of mine is to have beetroot every day. I usually have beetroot, carrot and ginger juice most days, but I’m going to step it up a few notches. Beetroot is one of the best foods to cleanse your body and after an epic Christmas and New Years, I think many will be in need of a mighty good dose of this super food. The wonderful detoxifying effect that beetroot has on the liver is really quite amazing. Beetroot is also high in iron and will kick start the digestive system, which probably needs to be awoken after Christmas indulgence. By serving this winning combination at your partay, you’ll be doing yourself and your guests a favour by detoxing whilst you’re retoxing, hopefully counteracting the effects of one mojito too many.

Flax seed and Chia Crackers

A cup of flax seeds

A cup of water

1/4 of a cup of sesame seeds

2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

A tablespoon of sesame oil

A tablespoon of olive oil

A teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt

1/2 a teaspoon of pepper

Pulse the flax seeds in a blender until fine. In a bowl, soak the flax seeds in water and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.

Toast the sesame and sunflower seeds in a pan until aromatic and golden. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix in the remaining ingredients and spread evenly onto a grease proof paper-lined tray.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Cut into any shape you wish whilst the cracker sheet is still warm. Allow to cool.

Beetroot and Horseradish Creme

500 grams of beetroot

1/2 a cup of sunflower seeds or cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours, rinsed well and drained

2 tablespoons of horseradish or horseradish creme*

The juice of a lemon

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 a cup of freshly-pressed beetroot juice

A tablespoon of olive oil

Himalayan rock salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180°c or time it with the crackers coming out of the oven. Boil the beetroot with the skin on for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a while and peel the skin off using your fingers. Cut into wedges and bake in the oven for 30 minutes with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of Himalayan rock salt. Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse the activated cashews or sunflower seeds until a smooth consistency is reached. Add the beetroot and pulse again until smooth. Add the horseradish, lemon juice, garlic, beetroot juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whiz and transfer into a bowl. Garnish with fresh herbs  and serve with the flax seed and chia crackers.

* Some horseradish products that I’ve seen contain clarified butter. If you are vegan, please check the label.

* 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.