Tag Archives: tahini

* 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.

* Beetroot Hummus with Thyme and Honey Roasted Carrots and Broccoli *

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I just have to look at this dish and I feel energised.  Beetroot hummus, thyme and honey roasted carrots and broccoli florets make a delightfully colourful appetiser to entertain a crowd and ensure that your loved ones get an antioxidant hit.  Hummus is such a practical, nutritious food which originated in the Middle East and has spread far and wide.  In the last 8 years or so, the hummus market has exploded in New Zealand, with many new players and numerous variations of this humble dip.  However, why pay so much for a super cheap food that you can make so easily at home?  And what about those little plastic containers which have to be shipped off to China to supposedly be recycled?  Not to mention all of the additives, preservatives and whateverives which are present in the store-bought varieties.  Take control of your diet, grab a food processor and get stuck in.

You can play with this recipe as you like.  If you want to reduce the oil content, or omit it altogether, add an equal quantity of water.  Or if you have a juicer, juice a beet or two, add it to the mix and watch the colour brighten. I am a firm believer in adding good quality fats to your diet where possible and there are some über-healthy fats in this dish to make your skin glow and hair glisten.  Olive oil, sesame oil and tahini provide a wonderful combination of vitamins E and A, calcium and carotenoids, which protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and enhance the functioning of your immune system.  Broccoli, carrots and beetroot also provide a hearty dose of folate, vitamins A, K and B6, as well as ample dietary fiber to aid digestion and ensure optimum health and vitality.

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

Beetroot Hummus

3-4 beetroots, cubed

A tablespoon of sesame oil

A sprinkle of Himalayan rock salt

A sprinkle of pepper

A cup of chickpeas, cooked and cooled (or from a can, rinsed well)

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons of tahini

1/4 of a cup of extra-virgin olive oil

A teaspoon of cumin

The juice of a lemon

The juice of 1-2 beetroots or cold water

Preheat oven to 190ºC. Place the cubed beetroot, himalayan rock salt, pepper and sesame oil in a roasting dish and bake for 40 minutes until cooked.  Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and whiz.  Extra oil, water or beetroot juice may be added to obtain the desired consistency.

Thyme and Honey Roasted Carrots and Broccoli

3-4 large carrots, sliced diagonally

A tablespoon of honey

A tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

The juice of half a lemon

A few sprigs of thyme, stems removed

A sprinkle of Himalayan rock salt and pepper

Place carrots in a separate roasting dish.  Add the honey, olive oil, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Roast carrots for about 4o minutes until nicely cooked. Blanch a head of broccoli which has been chopped into florets.  Arrange beetroot hummus, thyme and honey roasted carrots and broccoli on a platter and serve.