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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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!

Zucchini Fritters, vegetarian friends and crap tv.

Fritters

One of my great friends is vegetarian. This friend and I are kinda joined at the hip right now (I would like to think its because I’m amazing… but I am pretty sure its just because I’m about to bugger off to the other side of the world and the vegetarian fells guilty about saying no to me). One of our favourite things to do is watch terrible (and I mean really, really terrible) Friday night television.

The problem we face, however, is that I’m paleo, and she is vegetarian. It’s definitely not an impossible task, but it can be a daunting one to create a dish that satisfies both our dietary requirements. Our go-to easy dinner is chucking a bunch of seasonal veggies at the oven to roast. Easy, simple, but often a little dull (no matter how much dukkah I slather it in). So, after feeling a little bored of the regular, I tested out a wee recipe I’ve been conjuring up in my head ever since perfecting a paleo pancake.

And voila…

Zucchini Fritters

  • 4 Cups of zucchini (I found this to be about 4)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of salt
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/3 Cup of coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon of ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Juice from 1 small lime
  • (plus coconut oil for frying)

Firstly, grate your zucchinis into a bowl, pop them in with the salt and leave them for a bit to let all their juiciness eek out (yum). This should take about 15 minutes.

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Pre heat your oven to 180 (mine is fan bake).

Now, to get rid of all the water you need to squeeze the living daylights out of your mound of your zucchinis. I popped mine into a sieve and pushed as much water through as I could before returning to the bowl (I did this a couple of times to make sure is was as dry as possible).

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Then, chuck in all the other ingredients and mix up. Now would also be a great time to throw in some of your own flavours. This is just a base recipe and can easily be added too. (Maybe some cumin, or coriander or paprika? Whatever you fancy – or nothing!)

Once it’s all combined, portion it off into patties (about 2 tablespoons of mixture in each) and pop it on a lined oven tray.

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Put your patties in the oven for and 15 minutes (to cook through).

To give these a nice golden finish, once they’re out of the oven, fry them in a pan of coconut oil (on high).

I served these with a simple guacamole (think 1 avo, lemon juice, salt and pepper) and a quick salsa (corn*, tomato, cucumber, spring onion and coriander) and then sprinkled the whole lot with coriander – seriously yum.

Now, kick back, grab a cuppa and enjoy the latest episode of Beauty and The Geek (stop judging me).

*I know than corn is not officially paleo, and I don’t eat it in its refined/turned into flour form. But when its still fresh I have it occasionally because… well its damn tasty.

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Mondayitis

Fitbook

Having been out of the nine to five loop for exactly a week now, not only have my good intensions of running, keeping the house in tip top shape and having a home cooked (dare I say, paleo) dinner on the table for the boy each night, gone out the window… but so too have days of the week. They are all melting into one big pot of numbers. Weeks, days, hours and minutes that we have left to do all the things that need to be done (all the many, many things). So today is not Monday, nope, today is twenty two. Twenty two days (or 528 hours, or 31,680 minutes if you’re feeling really crazy) before I am standing at the departure gates of Auckland airport – totally shitting myself.

Now, for most, that might feel like ample time. I had a friend who moved to Europe on 6 weeks notice and worked right up until the day she left (yes, yes she is a little bit cray-cray). Well, ladies and gents, if you have ever met my mother (which I know most of you haven’t, but pretend you have for me) you will know that isn’t me. I am destined to be an organiser. As much as I kick, scream and stick my heels in, it will inevitably happen (as will saying “scissors always satisfy”, a family trait it seems – and a very true fact).

And, in line with my inherited organisation comes my absolute need to document things. I have special books dedicated to lists of specific kinds (think, “travel related to-dos” book and a “supermarket shopping list” book, oh and don’t forget my “daily to-do breakdown” book – which is different to my diary, but I do also have a diary). So when I stumbled across this little gem on the interwebs I knew somehow, sometime, someday it HAD to have it in my life.

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Now, before you start (boy, I am talking to you), I know I have the Fitbit app, and My Fitness Pal and roughly 84 other fitness trackers on my phone, but this one is different (I promise*). Look at those real life pages. Those weekly plans, and that ability to list, list and list some more. It’s like fitness meets food meets organisation (all it needs is a section to plan what to wear each day, and this book would be like my own personal 50 Shades Of Grey).

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The fitbook basically a nifty number that breakdowns a 12 week nutrition and exercise plan. You keep it with you when you are heading to the gym or to the kitchen and you keep track of exactly what you do. From my past experiences with food/diet related tracking, although tough, it is actually one of the best ways to keep on track (well duh). There is nothing more powerful to keep you away from that midnight temptation (aka Percy Pigs and/or, no wait just and, chocolate) than the thought that you actually have to admit it and add the calories into your diet plan, to make you stop, think and walk away. Food diaries and exercise logs not only help us to set goals, I’m a firm believer that they (in a silent, notebookey type way) support us. Any mistakes made will glare at us on the page (so no we can’t forget that sneaky TimTam or 10), but so do our results.

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So, if your Monday morning has you frowning at the idea of any form of movement past that short hike to the coffee shop for a latte and a cronut, maybe a fitbook will help? (After the pastries – of course.)

They even sell this incredible pack that comes with scales (for both you AND your food), body fat callipers, tape measure, the fit book and a pen so you literally have everything you need.

I’m pretty sure, hands down, if I had this in my life I would reach every and any fitness goal anyone has ever had. Ever.

Or, at least I would right them all down, and thats half the battle right?

*No I don’t, its the same. I will most likely diligently write in it for a week then put it down somewhere are forget it exists. But damn it  – for that week I will be incredible.

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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.

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

 

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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.

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A week of noms (and runs).

As I said I would, last week I took a photo of literally every morsel I shoved into my little mouth. No snack was undocumented and no meal ignored. I did however skip taking pictures of the numerous cups of tea and water that washed everything down. I also noted down my exercise because, to me, those two things go hand in hand. So, here is what a week of my food (and movements) looks like…

WeekOfFood

Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach Snacks Green tea, Peppermint tea, A small handful of raw almonds, Green tea Lunch 5 x Homemade crackers with left over roast chicken, fresh parsley, avocado, cucumber and iceberg lettuce on top, plus some carrot sticks on the side (about half a carrot), Earl Grey tea Exercise Run (recovery after Sundays long run, 6k) Dinner Baked salmon with mashed swede, broccoli, garlic leeks and a sprinkling of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and fresh parsley. Dessert Natural yoghurt (full fat) with roasted almonds, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon Snack 1 x Homemade cracker with a teaspoon of almond butter

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Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach with green tea Snacks Small handful of mixed nuts (roasted and lightly salted) Lunch Leftover veggies from last night (leeks, swede and broccoli) with 4 x homemade crackers and chicken Snacks Peppermint tea, Handful of raw walnuts Dinner Roast chicken with roast carrots, parsnip, pumpkin, beetroot and onion with blanched beans and homemade gravy Dessert Chia pudding (homemade with chai seeds, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla powder) with cacao nibs, almonds and roasted coconut flakes

WeekOfFood3

Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach Snacks English breakfast tea, Flat white (full fat milk) Lunch Left over roast dinner from last night Snacks 4 x Homemade crackers, 2 x Crisp crackers with cheese and just hummus Exercise Bikram (90 minutes) Dinner Blackened chicken with kumera chips, coleslaw and homemade sesame dressing (mustard, yoghurt, toasted sesame seeds)

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Exercise 4k run and 40 minutes of weight training Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach with Snacks Peppermint tea, Green tea Lunch Leftover chicken, kumera chips and coleslaw Snacks Peppermint tea, 4 x homemade crackers, Green tea, Cup of seeds with almonds, walnuts and coconut chips all roasted and tossed with lots of cinnamon (because I work late every Thursday night I pack extra snacks with me. Not only do I eat dinner later, but having something to munch on keeps me away from all the chips, lollies and chocolate that come out around deadline time) Dinner Homemade paleo pizza with asparagus, tomato, chicken, spinach and leeks

WeekOfFood5

Breakfast Paprika scrambled eggs with spinach on peas and avocado, Peppermint tea Lunch Leftover paleo pizza with rocket and tomatoes Snacks 2x Handfuls of raw peanuts, 2 x Homemade crackers, Peppermint tea Exercise Run (outdoor, 8k), 4o minute weight training Dinner Homemade salmon tart with spinach and cherry tomatoes with a side of leeks and asparagus

WeekOfFood6

Breakfast Kumera hash cakes with poached egg and mushrooms, Peppermint tea Exercise 50 minute weight training Snack Small protein shake (nuzest powder with almond milk) Lunch Leftover salmon tart with side salad Dinner (at Orphans Kitchen) Flaxseed sourdough with burnt butter, Brussels sprout salad and goats cheese, Gnocchi with hazelnuts sage and a poached egg, Kumera chips, Boiled boar with dough dumplings and swede Midnight Snack Peppermint tea, Cheese and crackers

WeekOfFood7

Breakfast Kumera hash cakes with spinach, mushrooms peas, fresh spinach and a poached egg, Earl Grey tea Exercise Run (outdoor, 18k) Lunch Homemade crackers with homemade hummus, cucumber, tomatoes and carrot sticks, English breakfast tea and cows milk Dinner Roast chicken with roast onions, pumpkin and parsnip Dessert Roasted almonds, walnuts, cashews and coconut flakes with full fat natural yoghurt, Peppermint Tea

Hopefully through this 7 day documentation you can see that I eat a simple, clean but varied diet (with large quantities of nuts, ridiculously large) and that it is healthy. I don’t feel that I deny myself a thing. The boy and I also don’t let it stop us going out (hello Orphans Kitchen), and we don’t stick to our paleo ways all the time (I know you spotted all that sneaky, sneaky dairy in there).

I’m now 24 days through my 42 days (or six weeks) of detoxing and, unless someone is cruelly eating a block of chocolate in front of my face (and cackling), I don’t even think about it. I barely miss it (except when my mind wonders to that cronut I’m yet to try). And I’m really surprised by how easy this entire thing has become.

So, if you want to give clean eating, or paleo or sugar free a go, or if you just want to make health conscious choices when it comes to your food, here are my top tips.

  • Plan and organize your meals, but throw in some exciting new recipes each week to keep food fun.
  • Make sure you plan for snacks too (nuts, homemade crackers or carrot sticks are my favourites).
  • Shop the perimeter of the supermarket (except for a quick nip into the aisles for your all important weekly magazine, New Idea).
  • Read the labels of EVERYTHING you’re buying. Even if you aren’t doing sugar free, take ownership of what you are putting into your body and know what is in your food. (I’m yet to find bacon, salmon, stock or shredded chicken in the supermarket that doesn’t have added sugar, to name a few.)
  • The internet is your friend (well hello there friend), use it to help you get pumped for new foods, recipes or quirky ingredients (like the amazing chia seeds).

I found it really interesting to document my food last week, in fact I loved it so much that I missed it today. So, I downloaded a food diary app that stores photos too! It’s pretty much an app like the above photos (called MealLogger). Although I believe this is a completely honest idea of what I eat in a week, I do think I tended to snack slightly less (if you can possibly believe that from the vast amount of snacks documented) because I could SEE that I really didn’t need them. It could be a really simple way for someone to watch what he or she eats (quite literally).

OR you could just instagram everything and piss off your friends*.

*I joke about this, but am painstakingly aware I do it myself, I also post too many picture of my cat. But who doesn’t love a furry feline clogging up their feed? Crazy people, that’s who.

Foodie inspiration with Rachel McAdams and Zefron.

FoodyFinds

One of the best resources for keeping up a healthy diet and eating sugar free/paleo/really any health kick you are on? It’s the Internet of course. With a world of blogs, ebooks and online magazines it’s crazy to think people can’t find healthy noms. Here are a few places that I always head back to:

Petite Kitchen This is my favourite recipe resource, created by a like minded Kiwi girl (who I actually went to high school with). It isn’t specifically paleo or sugar free, but it is very clean and organic, and her simple recipes can be easily adapted to suit most dietary requirements. This talented cook is also coming out with her own cookbook soon and I can’t wait!

FoodyFinds2

I Quit Sugar The blog is a great recourse for some of Sarah’s more common recipes (like her tasty raspberry ripple), it’s also good for people giving up the white stuff as it is filled with great articles and support.

FoodyFinds3

PaleoOMG & Elena’s Panty The ingredients in both these blogs can sometimes be a little tricky to find in little old NZ, but can usually be adapted. These websites are so filled with recipes it’s impossible not to find something you would love.

As well as those, I usually have a collection of cookbooks around me to tantalise my taste buds and keep the inspiration following, like It’s All Good by Gwyneth, Eat Your Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson and Dr’ Libby’s Real Food Chef by Dr Libby Weaver.

To be honest, it’s unusual that I follow a recipe straight up. I use these as guides, ideas and starting points to play with my own flavours. The Boy quite likes to stick to recipes, so together we can butt heads in the kitchen, but it usually evolves into a nice balance. Often, my theory in the kitchen is more is more. (Actually, in every part of my life really. More shoes? Yes! More dessert? Of course! More Zac Efron? Duh!) So I tend to make little things that are packed with flavour. People often think that healthy equals bland, and my experience is the complete opposite. By trying to source the most amazing, fresh and clean ingredients I tend to find that the meals I sit down to eat are screaming with flavour. Never underestimate the punch fresh herbs or extra garlic can give your food.

FoodyFinds4

The idea that finding a “clean” recipe is hard is absolutely ridiculous. It isn’t even a case of knowing where to find them, it’s a case of googling. Good hot words for googling recipes are paleo, sugar-free and clean. Healthy can be good, but do make sure to double-check the sources that are claiming health. (I once found a ”super nutritious and healthy” chocolate cake recipe. Sure, it had some grated beetroot, but it also had 3 cups of sugar, refined white flower, nearly a block of butter and countless other ingredients that are best kept to a minimum. That’s kind of like grating some carrot onto your candyfloss and calling it a salad.) Using these buzzwords should help you find recipes that are free of packaged/added/chemical anything (yay).

So, get out there, check out these places, look at your recipe books and have a play. Changing up your diet is in no way a shackle to restrain your palette, but an invitation to play, to experiment and to push those boundaries.

Do I sound as corny as a Rachel McAdams movie? Good. I love her movies.

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