Life lessons, Brazilian business men and all the clothes (at once).

Foods

So its been a while. Like a really long while. And I kind of feel like a kid who’s dog ate their homework (because that totes really happens), full of excuses, a little bit of regret and a tone of catching up.

I have successfully landed in the world of Percy Pigs, endless cups of tea and stupidly cold temperatures (aka London), but for the last few weeks India has been my home. Although rich with colourful saris, motorbikes and cows (oh so many cows), what it lacks is wifi. Like seriously India, how’s a girl meant to blog? More importantly, how’s a girl meant to check her Facebook?! After my www-detox I’m back, and excited to start my post-adventure adventure along side some old friends (hey guys), and to share all that deep and meaningful crap I’ve picked up along my way around the world. (Think Eat Pray Love minus the Brazilian businessman).

So, lets start with the biggest lesson I learnt while traveling. Drumroll please…

I am happiest, and my body feels, looks and acts its best when I fuel it with clean, lean and fresh things.

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Do you feel let down? Like almost a year into writing health blog I should probably have figured this out already? Yeah, me too. But then again, putting the opposite of this personal mantra into action over the last 57 days proved to underline, highlight and completely scream its importance. The ramifications of taking even the smallest of health related back tracks completely shocked me. Even more shocking however, is the thought that there are people (and heaps of them) who live everyday feeling as tired, deflated, down and uncomfortable as I did – and it’s their choice. There is nothing like a hike around the world to make you reevaluate personal priorities and remind yourself of what really matters (to you). To me, it is health and healing myself through food.

Food was a huge part of our adventure. It was often the sole reason for stopping places (armed with scrappy handwritten lists of famous dishes). I attempted to eat healthy, to stick to my paleo ways, but so often that little voice in my head would mutter “oh but you’re on holiday”, or “how often will you be in Cambodia?” etc.

Damn that voice. Because I got sick.

Like hospital-visits-in-the-middle-of-the-night-trying-to-sign-language-symptoms-to-a-Vietnamese-doctor sick.

To put it simply, I learnt that no amount of special occasions, tasty sounding food or even ‘once in a lifetime’ trips are worth risking my health. And further more, that what I put into my body is the key to feeling great, and you won’t enjoy said occasions, food or trips if you don’t feel great.

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After two months of clogging up my delicate (and kinda temperamental) body with rich creamy curries, oodles of noodles and spice filled delicacies (can we say “bloated”), I’m seeing this next phase in my life as a chance to cleanse. To fill my life (and my stomach) with the right choices and get back to the energy levels, clear skin and healthy, happy feeling that I was striving for in New Zealand.

How many times do you (even when you’re not on holiday) head for a treat? Excuse bad health with the pre tense of a one off event? Well, from now on, for me, I have decided it isn’t worth it (and hopefully I can inspire you to do the same). Friday night? Well, I will think a little harder about Saturday morning. Going out for dinner? I’m yet to find a spot that doesn’t either have some scrummy veggies on the menu, or isn’t willing to swap things around to add some. Craving a treat? Load up with some toasted cashews (straight from the oven of course). Lets take this seasonal, whole food journey together. Lets explore recipes and celebrate ingredients together. Lets whinge about how hard it all is whilst looking smugly at those chowing down on Maccas… (you guessed it)… together. You and me baby – I can’t wait.

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But first things first, I’ve just arrived at my grans semi-detached cottage (down a leafy London lane – bliss) and I’m having myself a cup of green tea and a ruddy salad.

Oh, and putting on a jumper. And a pair of socks. And coat. Scarf. Gloves. Yes, I am indoors.

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Heart attacks, cheap eats and all the quails.

Hawker

I usually update you guys on the amazing cuisine in Auckland, but (as you may have picked up) I’m not actually IN Auckland currently. As the boy and I travel, we’ve had a checklist, a kid of culinary ‘to do’. Not masterminded by me (I’m having a hard enough time trying to tick “paleo” off as is), but from the boy. Our adventures have be a sort of foodie tour of South East Asia, with decisions on places to stop being made purely based on where historically makes tasty noms. My personal tour guide is quite partial to hawkers markets, or street vendors (despite every warning against this) and I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to truly chuck yourself in the deep end, (both culturally and digestively) and discover the real essence behind a city. So, for my readers in this area (or my readers heading this way), I give you my two favourite street markets spots (so far).

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Gluttons Bay – Singapore

This hawkers centre is very well documented, but still, it deserves the hype. What serves as the ‘creme de la creme’ of Singaporean street food, bands together to create a buzz of finger lickin’ traditional fare, right on the (rather breathtaking) water front of Singapore.

When we headed here we completely lucked out and happened upon an installation art exhibition (that quite literally lit up the sky) going on along Marina Bay too.

For this, our first Friday traveling, the boy decided we had to have the most decadent looking dish available, chilli crab. This is a Singaporean specialty consisting of an actual whole crab just hanging out in a pile of delicately spicy, full bodied, tomato sauce. It was swimming in so much of the stuff I swear it had died by drowning. Paired with sticky rice and crispy sweet buns for my dinner date (no sexual reference intended), this messy but oh-so-much-fun dish left us wanting more.

Other notable Singaporean dishes worth a try are chicken rice, oyster omelet and carrot cake (which is neither a cake, nor contains carrots – who ever named that was on something whack).

Soak up the sounds of Singapore whilst sipping on a coconut, but be prepared to fight (like really, really hard) for a table.

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Night Markets – Trang

This little spot was almost over looked! We only stopped in Trang for one night (as most do). It’s a sort of transit town for tourists heading to Thai Islands. Lucky for us, our one night also happened to be a Friday, the evening the small patch of town right outside the rundown train station (and, it turns out, our equally run down digs for the night) comes alive with food, fashions, and odd trinkets galore.

Eating here was like dinner and a show all rolled up into one, with small elderly ladies making fresh roti, whole fish slung on coals and squid kebabs going round the barbie. Everywhere you looked there was something amazing to watch and some new oddity to taste. Often food choices were a bit of a lucky dip, not understanding the offerings (just the price – the price always seems to be easy to translate), but none were a disappointment.

I settled on a papaya salad, mixed up in front of my eyes (and allowing my control over spice levels – thank god), fried quail eggs and big chunks of watermelon for dessert. Needless to say, I was one insanely happy camper as this was my first proper healthy style eating since we had set off on our travels. Also, all that probably came to under $2.50 (NZ), leaving plenty of money for other things (these “things” may or may not have been a new handbag*). The boy, who doesn’t give two hoots about healthy, went for spicy squid, quail egg money bags (we are yet to discover where all the quails were hiding) and a sweet roti filled with banana and covered in not only chocolate, but sugar and condensed milk too (aka heart attack on a plate).

I don’t know whether it was because we had absolutely no expectation of this little town, or because the food was spectacular, or because I finally felt nourished in a healthy way, but this was one of my favourite food memories on our adventure.

*Ok, ok, they were definitely a new handbag.

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Mondayitis

MondayCoffee

This morning I am not beating around the bush. There is no witty way to package it, and no amount of clothing lusting to cure it. The only thing to cure my mondayitis, is coffee.

You can throw gorgeous, designer dresses at me until I look like Joey from that episode in Friends when he wears all of Chandlers clothes at once (minus underwear), but it won’t do. Because all I want is a real caffeine hit.

It’s barmy outside and I want to walk around naked (I hear its inappropriate or something). But I don’t care. Halfway through this glorious trip, and the only words that are falling out of my mouth right now are complete gibberish and sound (or look) something like “blahblahblah CRAZY HOT LIKE A CRAZY THING blah”.

Between overnight trains, jet lag, and nights that are screamingly hot, sleep is at an all time low. I am craving the taste of my sweet local brew to pump me full of the energy needed to see me through this incredible Cambodian morning.

Next time you are in Auckland, hit up my three favourite coffee joints for your glorious taste of a “proper coffee” as my mother puts it. (A “proper coffee” being one made in a fancy machine, rather than that “instant stuff”.)

Rad This Mount Eden spot is the new kid on the block, and they use Wellington born Flight Coffee in there technicolour cafe. These beans have a deep, caramel-y hit to them and my pick off the menu would have to be the classic Latte. The endless creamy milk will lap up the richness of the shot. Also worth a note, are the scrum my smoothies.

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Twenty Three This little gem was right next door to me, so I had a wee soft spot for it. Not only are the brunch options stella, but the short black is a must try, and the amazing staff will know your order after only a few visits.

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The Espresso Coffee School A ‘gift economy’ cafe (basically, you pay what you think your item is worth, rather than having a set price – food included), which has a rotation of uni students all learning the ropes of the coffee machine. This a pokey place is always stuffed full of business men and suit clad ladies on their way to work, not only because it’s cheap (or you can make it cheap), but because, under the watchful eyes of the owner, those kids are making pretty damn good baristas. Go there and try the kiwi traditional Flat White for a “proper coffee” with a full bodied flavour. If you don’t like it? Don’t pay!

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Goodbyes, celebrations and the tart that has it all.

Tart

The other week the boy and I had a party to celebrate our impending departure. We filled our house with beautiful fresh flowers, picked up some incredible cheeses (the most important guest at any good party) and had bubbles all round. It was a beautiful night with beautiful friends.

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You know what else was beautiful? These super cute mini “cream tarts” I made. They were paleo (duh), raw, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free orange and rosewater tarts – who knew one tart could be so many things!

Recipe makes 12 mini tarts

Ingredients

Almond Case

  • 1 cup mejdool dates
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup almonds

Cream Filling

  • ⅔ cup cashews (soaked overnight)
  • ¼ almond milk
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp rice malt syrup
  • ¼ tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp rose water essence

Instructions

Get started on the nutty casing first by adding all of the ingredients into a blender and processing until roughly combined and sticky. I like mine to be fairly chunky and “rustic” (aka lazy), but finer is just as good.

Once you’re done with the base, line a mini muffin tray with glad wrap and split your sticky mixture into 12. Push your 12 pieces down into the individual muffin moulds until a tart case is formed. (You could also opt for larger muffins and this recipe would make 6.)

Then pop your cases into the freezer to set, whilst you get on with the cream.

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For the orange and rosewater filling, put the soaked cashews into the blender and process for a few minutes. With the processor still running, add the juice of an orange, almond milk, rice malt, rosewater and vanilla. Keep all this yummy-goodness blending away until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.

Once you have the desired consistency for your cream, pull the tart cases out of the freezer and fill each tart to the top (with the cream). Then put these into the freezer for a few hours to set. Your tarts can be kept in the freezer until serving (let them defrost for 10 minutes or so for cream to soften).

We popped some raspberries on ours, but anything you fancy could go on top. Seasonal fruit? Hell yeah! Toasted nuts? Yum! Cacao nibs? Why not! All of the above? Even better!

Enjoy.

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Breakfast picks (caveman style).

PaleoBreakfast

One of the biggest things to change when I went paleo was my breakfast routine. Mostly, however, because I didn’t really have a routine to start with.

Breakfast hasn’t ever been a thing in my parents house (mentally slaps mothers wrist). They are definitely a pair of (dare I say ‘overworked’) individuals who’s morning routine almost always revolves around coffee. Despite growing up around this, mum has always tried to encourage me o stuff something quick in my face before the day begins. I used to flick between oats, toast or All Bran (which should be more aptly named cardboard). These options are actually some of the healthiest out there, but still down’t sit well with a paleo diet (or my recently diagnosed gluten intolerance).

Once paleo hit in, I realised there was no point in attempting to find anything for breakfast actually in the breakfast food aisle at the supermarket. I don’t care what healthy looking branding they are wrapped it in – every single item on those shelves is loaded with artificial crap and mountains of sugar. It is probably the worst place in the grocery store for processed food (ok, ok, maybe the chocolate/lollies aisle, but this is a damn close second).

Over my recent food journey I’ve tried my hand at many different wake up calls to get me bounding out the door (and looking like Miranda). I have noticed that, with a bit of thought and prep, breakfast has easily become my favourite meal.

So, here are my top 5 hits at the caveman breakfast table.

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Chia Pudding By far the easiest (although needing a little forethought) a chia pudding is a great option for those with a quick schedule. Simply pop it in the fridge the night before and bam – a tasty break is waiting for you in the morning. Above is a super simple vanilla chia pudding with a banana sliced on top.

How to make it…

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp rice malt syrup (or your preferred sweetener)
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
  • Banana to serve

Chuck all the above (except the banana) into a jar or airtight container and give it a little mix through to make sure the milk is covering all the seeds, then pop it in the fridge overnight or at least for a couple of hour until the seeds have absorbed the liquid. When you’re ready to enjoy, slice the banana on top and voila! 

Any other fruit or spices work too. In winter I quite like pairing mine with stewed apple and cinnamon – yum!

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Poached Egg Slightly more complex (unless, like me, you have an amazing boyfriend who has mastered the poaching art) a poached egg is a classic but a great paleo option. Here I have paired it with asparagus and an avocado and salmon stack.

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Paleo Muesli See my muesli recipe here for a great on the go, chuck-in-a-bowl-and-chow-down-on-some-goodness meal. I always make mine in huge batches and store in an airtight container. Serve with a small handful of berries and some almond milk for a filling breakfast.

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Spanish Eggs Great to warm up a winters morning, this one looks complicated but actually isn’t.

How to make it…

  • 3 Eggs (use however many you want, this recipe is for me and the boy so has 3)
  • 250g canned tomato
  • 1/2 and onion (sliced)
  • Fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (for frying)
  • 1 tsp paprika (or spice of your choice)

Pre heat your oven to 120C. Fry the onions with the coconut oil in an oven proof pan. Once softened add the tomatoes and paprika – stir well. Once this has warmed through, remove from the heat, take a spoon and (in the tomato sauce) create three small wells. Crack open an egg in each and pop the whole thing in the oven for about 10 minutes (depending on how well you like your eggs done). Once out of the oven, sprinkle with parsley and season to taste. 

Often the boy and I add churizo too, but only if we can find a great quality one with no added sugar.

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Sweet Potato Hash This is my go to breaky before a big workout. When I was training for the half marathon I would chow down on this baby every Sunday to keep me going through a 15k run. To create the hash simply grate as much sweet potato you desire and remove the moisture (I put mine between two paper towns al squash like hell). Then form into patties, sprinkle with salt and pop in the oven (on 180C) until they start to brown. You can top these with anything your heart desires (except not non-paleo desires because that would defeat the purpose of attempting a paleo breakfast). Here I’ve gone for a good old poached egg, salmon and peas.

Other honourable morning mentions include a simple seasonal fruit salad with some toasted nuts/seeds and scrambled eggs (paired with avocado, tomato and fresh herbs).

Being a bit of a foodie, I like to spend hours trawling the internet for great new recipes, but I always come back to these guys because they just taste so damn good. And coffee. I always come back to coffee.

Why are you still reading? Go eat!

When baking gods, cookies and my credit card collide.

CookieBar

Talking about cookies (because who doesn’t love to continue that conversation)…

If you haven’t tried Moustache Milk & Cookie bar, in Auckland, you’re missing out. Seriously missing out. In fact, you should probably stop sitting on your butts reading this post and hop to it asap.

Tucked away, up Wellesley Street, behind this big little cities ornate theatre (The Civic), sits a minuscule joint that boasts the best cookies I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a fair few).

No, they aren’t paleo, sugar free or even remotely healthy, but they are my number one stop when it’s time for a cheat meal (oh, I do love that time).

Along with the good old staples (black forest, choc chunk, cinnamon, nutella, snickers, oreo marshmallow, peanut butter and white choc macadamia) this quaint café experiments with a cookie of the week. Each Monday they bring out their latest mad invention of sweet and sticky awesomeness, and its up for grabs till end of day Sunday. The weekly special is always incredible (and fun), from reinventing your favourite burger into biscuit form, to tantalizing your taste buds with cake flavoured cookies (carrot cake has been the ultimate flavour so far, complete with cream cheese icing) to jumping on baking bandwagons…Cookie cake pop, cookie macaron for anyone? Hell yes.

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This quirky bar will also serve your choice of flavoured milk (or plain, if that’s your bag) in super cute jars along side your cookie choice for a nostalgic dunking experience. And, if you’re lucky, you might get a hot, melt in your mouth, cookie, straight off the baking tray. Not big on warm baking (freak)? How about you make an ice cream sandwich out of your fave flavours? Because they do that too!

Told you this place was the best.

These ingenious baking gods (yes, I said it, gods) have also just launched an online store for you to get that craving sorted and delivered right to your door!

There is even a giant cookie meets birthday cake option on the menu.

… now where did I put that credit card.

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Sugar free gingerbread, misshapen reindeer and overeating.

Gingerbread

Even though I’ve lived in New Zealand for well over a decade, this time of year is still so alien to me. It’s a time for sickly sweet mulled wine, for hideously great knitted jumpers with misshapen reindeer on the front, for nights by the fire and eating, eating and more eating.

Those things don’t sit well with bikini wearing, blistering heat and beaches (especially the bikini wearing).

Now, I do love the quirky contradiction that Christmas here brings.  I love the look of jandals and Santa hats (even though it’s a total fashion crime), I love BBQ’s on the deck (with the perfect charred steak) and I love the notion of a huge, sand filled holiday to celebrate the end of one year and welcome in another – it’s fantastic.

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But for me, it’s just not the magical time I remember from the Northern Hemisphere (even if a white Christmas day barely ever occurred).

Today, to welcome in the Christmas spirit (despite the sandals weather outside), I filled my house with the spirit of the holidays and made gingerbread cookies. Sugar free, paleo gingerbread cookies – of course.

Served up with peppermint tea, this combo of strong aroma of ginger playing with my senses transported me back to London evenings in December (watching James Bond repeats and not sleeping much at all).

And with my first bite of biscuit, in the midst of a balmy Auckland summers day, it started to rain.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to hear the sound of rain cut the heat of summer.

For a moment, it was a real slice of Christmas, on the wrong side of the world.

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 Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of almond meal
  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground gloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 65g melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup of rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of ½ and orange

Mix all ingredients together (I used a food processor) and wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to harden for a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 160C (fan forced)

Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to about 1cm thick and cut out (I used nifty Christmas tree cutters).

Bake your cookies for about 10 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown on the edges.

Take out and enjoy with a cup of peppermint tea and the sound of rain.

Total Bliss.

Detoxing, doggie day care and a lot of liquid.

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On Monday all I ate (well, drank) was juice (well, liquids).

I kicked off this week with a detox cleanse. That right ladies and gentlemen, I got suckered in. Despite previously rolling my eyes at the idea of starving yourself for one, three or five days, and questioning how it could do anything other than make you hangry. This one seemed different.

Firstly it was organized/supplied by my favourite rawesome (see what I did there) café in Auckland, Little Bird Unbakery.

Sidenote: This place is amazing, I am completely besotted and since my last review (here) I have re-tried the dreaded green smoothie and now have it multiple times a week because it has completely grown on me. And I’m pretty sure it does good things for my insides (and who doesn’t want that).

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Also adding to its plus sides was the salad waiting for you at the end of the day (yes, actual food). The idea of this cleanse is to in no way starve or deprive you, so you do actually get to eat (woop woop), and they say that you should listen to your body and if you’re feeling hungry during your detox day, you can (nay, should) eat. It also comes with a recommendation and heaps of information from resident Little Bird nutritionist/naturopath, Nellie, in your box of goodies (to help guide you through the days post detox).

Finally (and probably the biggest plus) was how fresh it was. No matter how many days you choose to do, each drink is prepared for you that morning (no exceptions) and can either be picked up or delivered to you. Other cleanses I researched into had you receiving five days worth of drinks at once – I don’t know what is preserving those babies (or how you’re meant to fit it all in the fridge), but I don’t want a chemical filled detox.

So, after picking up my box of drinks (plus salad), I was subject to a day of lots of peeing, excessive drinking and a damn good mood. The drinks vary from juices and smoothies and you’re provided with heaps of info on what each little glass bottle contains along with when is the best time to drink it (i.e. before exercise or first thing).

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It felt like I was continuously drinking (literally from 830am to 830pm I’m pretty sure I always had something in my mouth – dirty jokes aside), and I learnt that I am a very slow drinker, but I loved it and I felt amazing.  Meant as a rest and recharge for your digestive system I felt full of energy throughout the day (even more that my actually food-fuelled self), and never even thought of snacking.

This option is a little more expensive than others, and there were definitely people who scoffed at the $110 price tag (no mum you totally read that wrong, it was actually way cheaper than that, just like those new jeans…way cheaper), but I believe that everybody has their thing.

Some people will drop wads of cash on designer clothes, they will buy into the brand, the ethics and the culture of what they wear. They will inspect fabric quality, poor over fashion magazines and pay that bit extra to dry clean the things they love.

Some will buy their beloved pooch the gourmet pet food and splurge on doggie shaped waist coats for dearest to wear to animal day care on the day of “class photos” (yes, that’s a real thing).

Some with spend up large on GPS watches and waterproof shoes to wear on their latest adventure hike that they hit up after sweating it out in the bikram, but before they take their new shining mountain bike (fitted with GoPro – obv) to Woodhill.

And some will spend every cent they have on going to restaurants to try degustation menus, they will read up reviews and painstakingly rank where they want to try next (in order of deliciousness). They will seek out organic produce, farmers markets and refuse to grace their pantry with anything other than free range eggs.

The problem with me is, I’m kind of every single one of these people (or at least I would be if I actually had a pet).

I tell myself I still get a better deal of it than someone who loves an extreme sport like skydiving. But that’s probably a lie.

What’s not a lie though, is how amazing I felt come Tuesday morning. And how much I would totally do this cleanse again (whilst kitted out in my designer clothes, puppy in-tow, after my hard core yoga sesh – duh).

Cheese puffs, (not) paleo cake and Hank.

HeartHealth

There’s a guy in my office (lets call him Hank*) that finds it hilarious to suggest everything is paleo.

Cupcakes come out for morning tea? Hank will chime in “they’re paleo you know”. When it’s somebodies birthday and cake is on offer, Hank grins and says “hey bel, cake is paleo”. And when its 6pm on a Thursday and pizza rocks up for the crowd working late, he’ll holla to me, “this pizza is definitely paleo”.

Hank not only thinks he is the most hilarious human being (he’s not), I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m completely bonkers.

And, it seems, there are plenty of people like Hank who can’t get their brains around the idea of eating how we used to (a long, long time ago).

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People get self-righteous about the way I’m choosing to live my life; they believe it’s unhealthy. My explanations of what I do and don’t eat are usually met with raised eyebrows and gasps of “but grains are healthy”.

Although this frustrates the hell out of me, I see where they’re coming from, because, we’ve been told that they are just that (healthy), for quite some time now.  In fact, the New Zealand Heart Foundation has only just (this week) updated their ‘heart healthy’ food guide, since the introduction of the food pyramid 1992.

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The above is the new suggested way of eating to keep your ticker in great shape. And heeeeey, look at that, good old grains have been knocked from their top dog spot, and fruit and vegetables have taken their (rightful) position as king of the food castle.

It is only a small step, it’s quite a victory for all us on the caveman train. A plant-based diet with a side of protein is what we have been banging on about for a while now. And although there are some significant improvements (can I hear a woop, woop?) from the pyramid we had shoved down our throats at school, much of it is still doesn’t sit quite right with me, or the wider nutritional community. (Namely – the positioning of whole grains and starchy carbohydrates in comparison to meat, protein and healthy fats.)

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But, instead of being a killjoy, I’m going to bask in the joy that a step, however small,  has been taken in the right direction (oh, and do a little boogie). Maybe it will inspire people to question why there has been a shift and encourage them to take their own journey in discovering what foods give them a more fulfilled and healthy lifestyle. Or maybe they will just plod along and do what they bigwig tells them and swap the potatoes on their dinner plate for carrots once and a while. Win, win.

But you know who doesn’t win? The funny guys who chow down on multiple cronuts and lashings of pizza whilst making jokes at me for having a strong stance on what I choose to put in my body. Or the people who laugh and think that I’m the crazy one for the way I eat whilst munching on cheese puffs the colour of no cheese I’ve ever seen.

What is the world coming to that I am the nuts one in this situation?

And yes Hank, nuts are paleo.

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*His name is not Hank. Because nobody would really be that mean right?

Korma by the boy.

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I’ve had a few attempts at making korma before, but it never lives up to what you can get at your local Indian restaurant. Unfortunately, that is likely due to your local Indian restaurant going heavy on the cream and sugar, something I wasn’t keen to do at home.

Thankfully, courtesy of the creamed cashew nuts that made this cheesecake so good, you can get the creamyness needed without a bottle full of double cream. Add in a versatile curry base of fried garlic, onion, ginger and chili and your sweetness can come from sweating out their natural sweetness, rather than a few tablespoons of processed sugar.

Feel free to switch up the meat and veges. I haven’t tried this with red meat yet, but I’m sure with a bit of marinating, you could make a lamb korma to rival that Indian restaurant down the road.

Like with the cheesecake, the smoother you can get the cashew nuts the better. However if like me you can’t afford a Kenwood FP980 and your food processor leaves some granules, then don’t fret. You can always strain your creamed cashews and return any residue to the processor for another go if you want it super smooth.

As I mentioned before, the base for this curry is very versatile. You could make a large batch of it and once it is all fried off, let it cool and chuck it in the freezer. It can then be whipped out when you need a delicious, rich curry in a rush.

INGREDIENTS

Cashew Cream

  • 1 Cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • ½ can coconut cream
  • ½ cup vege stock

Curry Base

  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger (peeled, cut into chunks)
  • 6 good sized cloves of garlic (peeled)
  • 2 red chillies

Spice Mix

  • 2 Tblsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 Tblsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp Tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (more if you want a hotter curry)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Other

  • 400g chicken (thighs or breasts) cubed
  • 1+1/2 Tblsp Tomato Paste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups vege stock (you could also use chicken)
  • ½ can coconut cream
  • 2 large carrots (cut into half rounds)
  • 1 head or broccoli (cut into small florets)
  • 1 ½ cups of peas

Garnish

  • Toasted cashew nut pieces
  • Coriander leaves
  • Natural yogurt
  • Lemon Juice

 

KormaKorma2

INSTRUCTIONS

Put the cashews and almonds to soak in the vege stock and coconut cream (I try to do this the night before, but an hour plus is fine)

Place the curry base ingredients (onion, ginger, garlic, chillies) in a food processor and blend to a paste. If it is too dry and not combining properly, add a small amount of oil.

Heat some oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the pureed paste and fry for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly to stop it catching on the bottom. You are looking to brown the paste, which will add a nice depth of flavour.

While the paste is browning, add the cashews, almonds and their soaking liquid to the food processor and blend for several minutes until smooth.

Also while the paste is cooking, dry fry the coriander seeds over a high heat, tossing regularly, until browned. This helps to bring out their oils and flavour. Grind the seeds to a powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Add the remaining spice mix ingredients.

By this point the curry base should be nicely browned. Add the spice mix to the paste and stir to incorporate.

Turn the heat up and add the chicken to the pot. Fry, stirring regularly, for 2-3 minutes to seal the chicken.

Once the chicken is sealed and slightly browned, add the tomato paste, lemon juice, vegetable stock,  pureed nut mixture and remaining coconut cream. Bring this to the simmer and then add the carrots. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli, simmer for another 5 minutes and finally add the peas and simmer for another 2 minutes.

(You can choose whatever vegetables you like really, just add them at different times depending how long they take to cook. I often use green beans and cauliflower as well)

By this point the sauce should have thicken a bit. If you want a thicker sauce, you can either continue to simmer, or add small amounts of almond meal to get the desired texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat, dish into bowls and garnish with toasted cashews, coriander leaves, yogurt and lemon juice.

Make sure you save some for tomorrows lunch!

NB To make this paleo and vegan, simply skip the yoghurt on top.

Korma3

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