10 October, 2014

Raw Chocolate Energy Slice

Here is a super easy recipe that contains many good nutrients for a healthy brain - something I have been focusing on this week in light of Mental Health Week. Raw cacao is one of the richest dietary sources of magnesium - an essential nutrient for nerve tissue that helps in relaxing anxiety, works in synergy with calcium for neural messaging, acts as a precursor for important neurotransmitters and eases headaches and muscular pains. Cacao is also extremely high in flavanols, a group of phytonutrients that reduce oxidative stress in our bodies  (something that our brains need to manage on a daily basis). On top of that, Brazil nuts, pepitas and almonds are all rich sources of selenium, zinc and calcium and healthy fats, which are all essential for optimal brain function. Not to mention the delicious taste of this slice, an instant mood booster!

     This slice is a winner for morning or afternoon tea and as a lunchbox snack. It was created out of bits and bobs from my pantry - so if you are missing any ingredients from the dry mix, try experimenting with others. Cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, goji berries and dried blueberries all work well! You can also try roasting the nuts/seeds for a more complex and intense flavour. I also sometimes like to reduce the amount of dates and increase the amount of nuts to make it less sweet. To make it school-friendly, omit the nuts and replace with 60g sunflower seeds, 10g more pepitas and 10g more shredded coconut.

  • 145g dates, pitted
  • 90g nuts (I like almonds, hazelnuts + brazil nuts)
  • 40g pepitas
  • 40g currants
  • 40g cranberries
  • 30g shredded coconut
  • 60g cacao
  • 60g melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice malt syrup (~50g) 

  1. Place dates and nuts in a blender and blend until roughly chopped.
  2. Add pepitas, currants and cranberries and blitz lightly. Add coconut.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk cacao, melted coconut oil and rice malt syrup together until well combined.
  4. Add fruit and nut mix to melted chocolate and mix together thoroughly.
  5. Press firmly into a lined dish and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  6. Cut into desired pieces and enjoy!
  7. Left overs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, with layers separated by baking paper.

25 January, 2014

Moroccan Inspired Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Olives and Saffron

It's hard to believe that this time last year I was basking in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Morocco - something I had been longing for since I was a child. Everything about Morocco overwhelmed my senses and surpassed my expectations; the abundance of produce, colour, generosity and life was something I felt strangely at peace and at home in, even amidst all the dust and chaos.

I had the privilege of being invited into the home of some Tuareg musicians, who took us to the market in Essaouira to buy fresh produce before cooking us a traditional tagine. It was simple, but all about using fresh ingredients and arranging them beautifully in the tagine, and the presentation and taste of the end result was exceptional. 

Morocco: one day I will return to you. But until then, I'll have to make do with bringing you to my kitchen (I was even wearing my beloved babouche as I cooked this!). This recipe is pulled out of my memory from the inspiring moments and flavours I experienced there, along with the spices I hauled back with me. I haven't used exact measurements but rather estimations, as I tend to just sprinkle and pour as I go, so use your creative flair here too and taste and adjust as you feel fit!

  • 1 large or 2 medium brown onions, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ~600g free range chicken thighs, bones and excess fat removed, sliced thickly
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried or freshly grated turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • ~1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 good pinch saffron threads, steeped
  • 1 large tablespoon preserved lemon (chop if firm)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 handful greens (green beans/snow peas/whatever is in season)
  • ~1/2 cup good quality purple olives in brine, drained and rinsed

  1. In a little coconut oil, saute the onion on medium heat in a tagine or shallow heavy-based pot.
  2. Add chicken, chopped coriander stems, ginger, garlic and spices and saute until fragrant.
  3. Add stock, preserved lemon, lemon juice, saffron and carrot. Stir well and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Check and stir at intervals, and top with more water if needed. 
  4. Add olives, greens and coriander leaves (reserving some for garnish). Stir through and simmer for a further five minutes.
  5. Season to taste and serve in tagine base or a large dish, garnish with remaining fresh coriander and enjoy with fresh whole wheat bread or cous cous (or buckwheat or quinoa if gluten intolerant) and salad.

25 November, 2013

Choc Banana Granola Bites

These beautiful energy and nutrient-dense bites are a great snack when you're travelling, on the road or at work, and make perfect lunchbox fillers for kids. The banana binds them together surprisingly well and gives them a lovely chewy texture, while the cacao nibs add a bit of crunch and chocolate flavour. Buckwheat flakes also give a lovely soft texture and together with the cacao nibs, as well as the nuts and seeds, provide an excellent source of magnesium.

This recipe is a slight variation of Kumquat's Blueberry Coconut Pecan Breakfast Cookies, which is a variation of Anja's Food 4 Thought Banana Pecan Granola Bars - that's the beauty of this recipe, it's easy to adjust to suit your needs!

If you or your kids have a nut allergy, replace the nuts with seeds (such as sunflower seeds). To make it gluten free, replace the oats completely with buckwheat flakes (this also makes it suited to those following the paleo diet). Use apple puree instead of banana for a different flavour (rhubarb would be nice too), or replace the cacao nibs for dried cranberries or figs. Date paste is my preferred choice of sweetener, however if you don't have it use raw honey. The options are endless; get creative!


  • 1 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup rolled buckwheat
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence
  • 1-2 tablespoons date paste (to taste)
  • 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (about 7 tablespoons)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line two oven trays with baking paper and rub over with a little coconut oil. 
  2. Combine the oats, buckwheat, coconut flakes, seeds, almonds, cacao nibs, cinnamon and sea salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Gently melt the coconut oil on low heat and whisk in the date paste, vanilla and bananas. Add to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Press a heaped tablespoonful into a round cookie cutter on the lined baking tray. Repeat with remaining mixture (should make 15-20).
  5. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden. Cool.
  6. Eat as is, or top with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate* and fresh sliced strawberries. 

*I simply melted 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and whisked in 30g of raw cacao powder with a tablespoon of coconut syrup and a drop of vanilla. Spoon into chocolate moulds (or ice cube moulds) and freeze for a few minutes and voila! You'll have delicious and healthy dark chocolates!

25 October, 2013

Mediterranean-style Chicken with Zucchini Pasta

This recipe was inspired by odds and ends in my kitchen and a craving for something light and fresh, whilst still being warm and tasty. It is very low in carbohydrates and high in fibre, protein, healthy fats, antioxidants, colour, nutrients and flavour!

Tomatoes are one of the richest food sources of lycopene; a carotenoid that is responsible for their lovely red colour. Lycopene fights free radicals and may help prevent cancer and macular degeneration. Whilst raw tomatoes have multiple health benefits, cooking tomatoes in oil allows the lycopene to be more easily absorbed. Wilting spinach removes some of the oxalates that bind to important minerals, making it more nutritious (at the expense of losing some folate and vitamin C). So the moral of the story - have a diet that includes BOTH raw and cooked foods (like in this recipe) for maximum nutrition!

This meal will suit those following a paleo diet, and for the vegetarians out there, swap the chicken for some well-rinsed cannellini beans. For those needing a bit more energy, enjoy it with some crusty sourdough drizzled in olive oil.

Serves 2.

  • 1 brown onion, sliced into half rings
  • 1 heaped teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 big cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1-2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of baby capers
  • 2 tablespoons of olives
  • 1 heaped tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • large handful baby spinach
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchinis, peeled lengthways with a julien peeler up to the core (I dice the core and add it in step 6 to save waste)

  1. Saute onion in a large frypan in the coconut oil on medium heat until softened.
  2. Add carrot and celery and chopped stalks of parsley and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add garlic, paprika and chicken and cook until fragrant and chicken begins to brown.
  4. Add tomatoes, stir well, and add a little water if needed. Add capers, olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Cook until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Taste and season with cracked black pepper and sea salt if necessary.
  6. Add baby spinach and chopped parsley, with a good drizzle of olive oil. Stir gently until spinach is slightly wilted, then remove from heat.
  7. Arrange zucchini pasta in bowls and top with sauce.
  8. Enjoy immediately, or leave to cool and top with a squeeze of lemon juice!

20 August, 2013

Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplants

I saw a huge pile of the most beautiful looking Lebanese eggplants at my local grocer yesterday and immediately wanted to bake them in the oven. So I grabbed a few other ingredients that I thought would compliment them well (keeping in mind what I also had in the cupboard) and came up with this recipe!

This dish looks so colourful and impressive on the table, smells divine and is a great source of protein, fibre and antioxidants whilst being low in carbohydrates and fat.

I kept this recipe free of breadcrumbs, which is a common topping for stuffed vegetables. I find the almond meal works beautifully instead; it gives the top a nice crunch and is actually much tastier (and more nutritious). Mushrooms and zucchinis also work really well in place of the eggplants if they are more available to you!


  • 3 lebanese eggplants (or 3 small regular eggplants)
  • 1 small leek, finely sliced
  • 1 heaped tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 heaped teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped (stalks and leaves separated)
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper 
  • 3 heaped tablespoons almond meal
  • 2 good handfuls of grated parmesan
  • sweet Hungarian paprika
  • Basic Napolitana sauce*

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190°C and lightly oil a large baking tray.
  2. Saute the leek and parsley stalks in a frypan on medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. 
  3. Add garlic, capers and lemon rind and saute lightly until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, beat ricotta and egg together well. Add leek mix and some of the chopped parsley leaves and season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
  5. Combine almond meal and parmesan cheese together in another bowl.
  6. Halve eggplants lengthways and scoop out flesh and seeds from the middle, leaving at least 1.5cm around the edges (don't scoop out too much flesh, the hollow only needs to be shallow).
  7. Fill each hollow with the ricotta mix.
  8. Top each with the almond and parmesan mix, sprinkle with a pinch of paprika and place on the oiled baking tray.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until tender, bubbling and golden. 
  10. Heat Napolitana sauce and spread into a large serving dish. Place each eggplant half on top of the sauce and sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley leaves.
  11. Serve immediately with a fresh green salad and enjoy!
*I make my basic Napolitana sauce by sautéing 2 cloves of garlic with a handful of chopped fresh (or a tablespoon of dried) Italian herbs (such as oregano, parsley, marjoram, basil) and a bottle of passata (or a can of diced tomatoes). It's meant to be easy and made with what's on hand. You can jazz it up with a diced onion, celery and fresh tomatoes, then blitz it into a smooth sauce if you have time, but I find the basic one does the trick!

10 August, 2013

Coconut Pancakes

This recipe is the result of a bit of kitchen experimentation, with a few failures along the way! I'm pretty happy with the results, as were my keen 'guinea pig' housemates!

These are gluten free, dairy free (if you wish), grain free (good for those following the paleo diet), high in protein and light and fluffy yet super filling. They are also super easy and quick to prepare, so make a great lazy weekend breakfast. If you have kids, get them to help with the mixing and plopping the batter into the frypan!

This recipe makes enough for three to four people, as it is suprisingly filling.

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar (or raw honey)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 large mashed banana
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (this can be dairy, soy, almond or rice)
  • Organic cold pressed coconut oil (for frying)
To serve:
  • Pitted sour cherries
  • Coyo
  • Handful of raw almonds, roughly chopped
  1. Toast almonds in a frypan on medium heat. Move frequently, so as not to burn. When lightly browned and fragrant, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, lemon rind, cinnamon, salt and sugar together in a large bowl (if using honey use in next step).
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork. Beat in mashed banana, milk and honey (if using). Add to flour mix and stir well until combined.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large frypan on medium/high heat. When hot, add heaped tablespoonfuls of the batter, ensuring the oil sufficiently surrounds each (this gives the pancakes a lovely crisp texture and ensures they don't burn before they are cooked).
  5. Fry until bubbles form and they lose their glossy sheen (don't flip early - they tend to take a little longer than normal pancakes). Flip and cook through.
  6. Add extra oil between batches as they tend to soak some whilst cooking.
  7. Serve pancakes in a stack topped with a dollop of coconut yoghurt, a spoonful or two of pitted sour cherries and a sprinkle of the toasted almonds.
Enjoy! xT

24 July, 2013

Pumpkin, Swiss Brown Mushroom & Roast Hazelnut Risotto

Risotto is one of those foods that even when you're full, you wish your bowl would never end... an ultimate Winter comfort food with so many options, it's easy to make a winning risotto dish from random veggies lying around and impress all your friends.

I had some left over hazelnuts and a pumpkin from the farmers market so I ended up with this! The pumpkin really made it - so make sure you use one that is small and not stringy. It gives a lovely sweet flavour and beautiful rich colour, as well as being packed with carotenoids and fibre! I tend to make my food up as I go and rarely measure, so the measurements here are a bit of a guess... Sorry! 

The key to a good risotto is to ensure your rice is aldente (cooked through but with a little resistance) and is a little loose in the liquid, or else you will end up with dry mush. The stock also strongly affects the flavour, so make your own if you can, or try and go for a fresh one with no MSG or artificial flavours.


  • 1 small grey or Japanese pumpkin (possibly 800g) skinned and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • Rice bran oil
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Two good handfuls of hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • A cup or two of swiss brown mushrooms, chopped thickly
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh vegetable stock (about 1-1.5L)
  • Dry white wine
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 1 bunch fresh English spinach
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Sea Salt


  1. Toss pumpkin cubes in 1 tablespoon of the rice bran oil on a baking dish and scatter over 1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary and a pinch of sea salt, then sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Roast in hot oven until tender (about 20mins). Transfer half the pumpkin to a bowl and mash well.
  2. Dry roast the hazelnuts in a frypan on medium/high heat. Move often and be careful not to burn. Once they brown slightly and smell fragrant, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Cook mushrooms in a little rice bran oil with the fresh thyme until tender. Set aside.
  4. Warm stock in a saucepan on low heat. 
  5. Sautee onion with the rosemary in a large heavy-based pot on medium heat with a little rice bran oil. Add garlic and rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring well. Add a good splash of white wine (about a cup, perhaps a little more) and let it cook right down. Turn the heat down to a low simmer and add stock by the ladleful (keeping it on low heat), allowing the rice to absorb it before adding more. Keep the rice moving and don't let it stick to the bottom of the pot. I like to add a good amount of cracked black pepper here so it can infuse through.
  6. When the rice is aldente, stir through the mashed pumpkin, spinach, mushrooms and a good handful of parmesan cheese. Season to taste with sea salt. 
  7. Plate up and top each serve with the extra diced pumpkin, roasted hazelnuts, parmesan cheese and a little more cracked black pepper. I also like to add a little chopped fresh parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with a fresh green salad, a glass of wine and enjoy!