Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt

non-dairy raspberry yoghurtAh, fruit yoghurt, how do we love you! Creamy, sweet with that little bit of tartness…You also masquerade really well as a health food.

OK, sorry to burst your bubble, but have you read the label on fruit yoghurt? Fruit yoghurt or yoghurt drinks or shots often contain artificial coloring, a high quantity of sugar or artificial sweeteners and thickeners like gelatin, corn starch, milk protein concentrate.

Yuck.

A better alternative is of course, natural, full-fat plain yoghurt without added sugars or artificial sweeteners. You can always add in your own fruit if you want.

OR if you want a completely dairy free alternative which is a meal in itself yet tastes surprisingly similar to raspberry yoghurt, try Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt!

Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt is creamy thanks to the soaked, uncooked buckwheat and hemp seeds. It’s sweet thanks to the raspberries. And it has that little bit of tartness thanks to the lemon. Once you have soaked everything in the evening, it takes only 5 minutes to blend everything in the morning and can keep for up to two days in the fridge.

And because of the mix of healthy fats, protein and fiber – it is filling enough to be a meal in itself.

Hello, Buckwheat!

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Despite the name, buckwheat does not contain wheat and is actually a seed, not a grain. It is related to rhubarb and has a distinct nutty flavor that I absolutely love.

Buckwheat is one of my favorite gluten-free foods. It is super versatile as you will see from this recipe, and doesn’t actually have to be cooked. It is rich in fiber and minerals such as manganese, zinc, magnesium and copper. It is also rich in amino acids, including tryptophan – the precursor to serotonin, the feel good hormone.

You can buy buckwheat in most supermarkets and also use it cooked as an alternative to rice or quinoa.

The other ingredient in this recipe is hemp seeds, which I wrote about here. You can find them in most organic stores, just make sure you buy them raw and unshelled for this recipe. They are also sometimes called hemp hearts. I usually buy these ones – you can use code WIV403 to get $5-10 off your first order.

Legend(non)-dairy Raspberry Yoghurt 

1 cup uncooked, shelled buckwheat, soaked overnight

4 dried figs

300 grams raspberries (frozen or fresh)

4 tbsp hemp seeds/hearts (shelled/hulled) or cashew nuts

juice of 1 lemon or a whole 1/2 organic lemon if your blender can handle it

1/2 – 2/3 cup water depending on how liquid you like it

A small handful of fresh herbs like mint, lemon verbena or basil (optional, but adds a nice taste)

Method

Wash and soak the buckwheat overnight with the dried figs.

The next morning, rinse the buckwheat and figs and wash well before putting them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients.

You can add some fresh herbs if you would like a little more taste.

If you want a more chunky texture, don’t blend all of the raspberries – leave about 1/3 aside and just pulse once in the end.

For the lemon, you can either use the juice or if your blender can handle it, wash an organic lemon well and put half of it whole it the mix. Most of the vitamins are in the skin and it adds even more taste this way!

This makes about 4 servings – you can store leftovers in air-tight jars/containers in the fridge so it is ready for the next morning.

Do you love yoghurt? Would you be willing to try this alternative? 

non dairy raspberry yoghurt

Confessions of an Ex-Sugar Addict + Healthy Nutella Recipe

Confessions of a sugar addictI used to be a sugar addict. I needed something sweet after almost every meal and often in the middle of the afternoon.When I was eating alone in the evening, I would have what I called a dessert meal: a big bowl of ice-cream, a pack of M&M’s or Nutella straight out of the jar instead of a real meal.

M&M’s were my favourites- as shown in this photomontage taken at the advertising agency I was working at back then. We had to pose with our favorite brand and sadly, this was mine!

The worst part is, I thought this was OK because I was ‘saving’ the calories from a normal dinner and replacing them with the sweet food of choice that evening.

When I discovered I had a genetic kidney disease and decided to change my diet, I went through phases where I completely banned sugar.

And I realised by doing this how addicted I was and how addictive sugar is.

But I couldn’t keep it up for more than a few weeks.

I realized that radically banning any form of sugar from my life wasn’t the answer for me.

It was about understanding and accepting my relationship to sugar in order to change it instead of trying to fight against it.

I realized how complex our relationship to sugar is because:

♥ Sugar is addictive – 8 times more addictive than cocaine according to Dr Mark Hyman…yet the sweet taste is an integral part of our diet and trying to deny this is like banging your head against a wall.

♥ Sugar cravings are often a sign that something is out of balance with what and how we are eating the rest of the day…yet they also have nothing to do with food and have a very strong emotional component as well.

 

Healthy Nutella

Healthy Nutella

This recipe is for anyone who loves Nutella and is looking to replace the store-bought kind with a much healthier version that uses only whole foods like hazelnuts and cacao powder and sweetened with a little maple syrup – an unrefined sweetener.

Hazelnuts are supposedly the main ingredient in the real Nutella but they actually account for only about 13% of the ingredients – the number 1 ingredient being sugar, followed by palm oil. I won’t go into how unhealthy store-bought Nutella is – suffice it to say that they have been sued for falsely advertising health claims when in fact, Nutella is more like a candy bar than a nutritious spread.

Meet Healthtella!

The main ingredient in Healthtella is hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are a good source of Vitamin E as well as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. And because they are made up of 60 – 70% oil, when you whizz them in a food processor for just a minute or two, they quickly turn into a beautiful, creamy spread. To this, we add the cacao powder, melted cacao butter or coconut oil plus a little maple syrup – and voilà – you have Healthtella!

Method:

Heat your oven to 135 degrees Celsius.

Measure 1 cup or 200g hazelnuts and place on a tray in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are evenly roasted.
Remove from the oven and rub the hazelnuts between your hands to remove any loose skin.

Once they are completely cool, place them in food processor and grind them until they are liquid. This should take about 1-2 minutes and you may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times.

Once your hazelnut spread is ready, add the following:

25g melted cacao butter read more about cacao butter and where to buy it here OR melted extra virgin coconut oil

2-3 tbsp maple syrup + 3-4 tbsp water

OR

4 tbsp coconut sugar

2-3 tbsp cacao

Mix everything until it is well combined and you have achieved the right taste and consistency. Store in the fridge but take it out a little before you eat it so it becomes less solid.

Healthy Nutella - collga

I would love to hear from you – what’s your relationship to sugar like? Are you a fan of Nutella?

Creamy Avocado Pesto (raw & vegan)

Avocado pesto

This is my go to pesto recipe – using avocado makes for a creamy, very satisfying pesto that goes well with zucchini pasta (read more about how to make them here) but could also be combined with a baked sweet potato, regular pasta or even as a topping to steamed vegetables.

This recipe is extremely versatile as you can use any green vegetables or herbs you have on hand or feel like using. It’s a great way to sneak them in without anyone really noticing!

Ingredients

1 large avocado

2 handfuls of green leafy vegetables or herbs – either spinach, kale, arugula or basil

4 tbsp raw pine nuts or cashew nuts + a little more as toppings

1 clove garlic

juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt + pepper to taste

a dash of cayenne pepper or paprika flakes (optional)

Cherry tomatoes as topping

Method

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender. Blend until smooth then serve on top of zucchini noodles topped with chopped cherry tomatoes and a few pine nuts or cashew nuts.

Keeps in the fridge so you can always make more and eat it over several days.

Black Magic Beans + Rice

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I was inspired by the Red Blanket Sauce from one of my favorite food blogs, My New Roots to create a meal that is nothing short of magic. The star of the meal is a savory cacao and tomato-based sauce with a smooth, velvety texture to which I added black beans. In keeping with the color theme, I served it with black rice and pine nuts.

As I have already written here, combining plant proteins such as beans and rice is a great way of making sure you are getting enough protein. I topped the rice with roasted pine nuts to add a healthy fat and crunch to the dish. You could also try topping the dish with coconut flakes or diced avocado or even just some chopped coriander.

Both black beans and black rice are among the healthiest types of beans and rice since they are rich in phytonutrients called anthocyanins. This is what gives them the distinct dark color which can also be found in purple cabbage, blueberries or grapes. These powerful nutrients have a protective effect on the body, helping prevent disease as different as diabetes, allergic reactions, heart disease and cancer. Be careful when you are soaking and cooking them though as the color can stain kitchen counters…

You can use canned red beans and red or brown rice if you prefer – I suppose it would then be called Red Magic Beans + Rice?

Soak the beans and rice overnight to reduce cooking time and make them more digestible.

INGREDIENTS

A bit of coconut oil or ghee

1  onion or scallion

3 cloves garlic

1 can tomatoes (unseasoned)

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp dried thyme or oregano

pinch of cayenne, if desired

4 regular dates or 2 Medjool dates

2 tbsp cacao powder

2-3 dried tomatoes

1 tbsp tahini

2-4 tbsp water

1½ tbsp lemon or lime juice

METHOD

Heat the oil or ghee in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the spices and stir until you can smell them.

Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning if you need.

In a blender or food processor, combine the rest of the ingredients, then add the tomato sauce when it is ready. Add more water if needed and blend until the consistency is smooth.

Meanwhile, cook the beans and rice separately, according to the instructions on the pack. You can also use canned beans if you prefer.

Heat a little coconut oil, olive oil or ghee in a frying pan on medium heat and fry some pine nuts until they are golden.

Once the beans are cooked, mix in with the sauce.  Serve with the rice topped with pine nuts.

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Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies + Free eBook

Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies

As this recipe shows, you don’t actually need white flour, white sugar or butter to enjoy Christmas cookies!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup almond butter – if you don’t have this, you can use 1 cup ground almonds + 3 tbsp oil

3 tbsp molasses

2 large eggs

2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1/2 cup coconut sugar or Rapadura

1/3 cup buckwheat flour or other flour of your choice

1 tsp baking soda + 1 tsp ground ginger + 1 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp allspice + a few grinds of pepper + 1/2 tsp sea salt

METHOD

Beat the eggs with a mixer.

Add fresh grated ginger, molasses, coconut sugar and almond butter.

Mix everything well.

Add the flour, baking soda and spices and mix.

Using a teaspoon, drop the batter onto a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 8 minutes.

Leave them to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

Inspired by this recipe

Want more recipes like this one? Download my FREE Healthier Christmas Cookies eBook here!

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Arabian Almond Balls (Gluten & Dairy free)

Arabian Balls

These Arabian Almond balls, based on this recipe, are really quick to make and do not even need baking.

I grind almonds with their skin – but you could also buy already ground almonds or use ground almonds without the skin for a more subtle taste. I used almond oil which I thought worked perfectly but if you do not have this you can also use coconut oil or probably even olive oil.

The Arabic taste really comes from the orange blossom water and lightly toasting the sesame seeds takes the taste experience to a whole new level.

Ingredients

2 cups ground almonds 

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of unrefined salt

2 tbsp almond oil 

3-4 tbsp maple syrup or honey

1 tbsp orange blossom water

1/2 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Method

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl then add the maple syrup or honey, orange blossom water and mix. Form balls in whatever size you want and roll them in the lightly toasted sesame seeds. Store in the fridge.

Enjoy with some fresh mint tea!

Spring pesto (vegan)

 

Spring Pesto

I have a confession. This was the first time that I made pesto. Ever. And I was really surprised and how easy something that tastes so sophisticated can be!

Pesto is normally made by blending together pine seeds, parmesan cheese, basil, garlic and olive oil but I wanted to try making a version without cheese.  My husband had the idea of adding in sun-dried tomatoes (which he loves) and I thought of adding some leeks and wild bear’s garlic which are currently in season. The dried tomatoes are already quite salty, so there was no need to add any salt. Exact quantities depend on taste, so you just need to keep tasting and adding ingredients until you are happy!

The result? A delicious pesto which can be used as a sauce in several ways.

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Here are the two ways I served it:

Day 1: Salad leaves, quinoa and zucchini noodles topped with spring pesto, grilled chickpeas and spring onion.

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The zucchini noodles were made using the latest addition to my kitchen – a spiralizer (thank you, Julia)! It feels like you are sharpening the zucchini, creating very long, curly pieces which have the feel of spaghetti.

Day 2: With pasta

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The following day my Italian rooted husband wanted to try the pesto in a more traditional way – with pasta.

Pasta cooking tip: Cooking it only until it is al dente and not fully cooked actually makes the pasta healthier, because the Glycemic Index (GI) is lower. The Italians are right about this one!

So there you have it, a simple Spring Pesto. Next time, I will make a bigger batch and store it in a jar in the fridge to try with even more dishes!

Carob Chia Pudding of Love

In health food circles, carob is often seen as the poor cousin to cacao – touted as a a caffeine-free substitute but not much else.

Carob deserves to be known and loved in its own right, both for the taste and health benefits. I think I feel this kinship to carob powder because we are both originally from the Middle East – only carob grows on the pods of trees.

Carob is very soothing to the stomach and is a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, fiber and protein. It also contains vitamins A, B, and D. You can buy the powder in any health food store  – I add it mostly to smoothies but it can also be used in desserts such as the Carob Chia Pudding of Love I made for my husband on Valentine’s Day.

RECIPE:

Put 1 cup almond or coconut milk

1/4 cup chia seeds

1-2 tablespoons carob powder

5 medjool dates (pitted)

A sprinkle of vanilla powder (optional)

 

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse, then pour into glasses and place in the fridge to chill for at least 1-2 hours. Top with cacao nibs for some crunch before serving.

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Roasted Winter Vegetables – Step by Step

Roasted Winter Vegetables

This is a tasty and healthy addition to any main dish and a great way of using winter vegetables, even if they don’t always seem very approachable at first glance!

Choose root vegetable such as sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, black salsify, Jerusalem artichoke, celery root, beets, potatoes etc. You can use them without even knowing their names! You can also add squash or pumpkin and roughly chop a few onions to add more taste.

Roasting these vegetables is a great way of bringing out their natural sweetness and giving them a more complex flavor that even people who don’t normally eat vegetables will like!

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Wash/scrub, peel and dice the veggies into similar size cubes. Some varieties of squash like butternut squash or winter squash (potimarron) don’t need to be peeled.

3. Put all the vegetables in a bowl and add olive oil, some unrefined salt and any spice or herb you like. I usually add a mix of turmeric, cayenne pepper and paprika. Use you hands to really get in there and coat all the vegetables evenly. If you have time, leave the vegetables to marinate so they take on the taste even more. If you prefer, you can add fresh or dried herbs such as rosemary or thyme instead of spices. You can also add some whole or crushed garlic to the mix.

4. Pour the vegetables onto a lined baking tray or large oven dish and separate them out so they are not too close together.

5. Place tray or dish in the middle of the oven.

6. As they are cooking, stir the vegetables around a few times so they cook evenly on all sides. Total cooking time should take about 15-25 minutes, depending on the vegetables used and the size of the cubes. Just before they are done, you can also add some pressed garlic and stir.

That’s it! Enjoy while still hot as a side or light meal.

Some Like It Raw

Raw Chocolate Avocado Pie

I am a big fan of raw desserts. They are dairy and gluten free and always use healthier sugar alternatives like dates or maple syrup. Oh, and did I mention they are also super easy to make, needing very few ingredients and no baking time?

Kitchen gadget-wise, it is best to have a good food processor  which can reduce nuts and dates to a smooth mixture. I just got a food processor but before that I was using a blender which can work, but isn’t ideal!

Because there are so few ingredients, it is essential to use the best possible ones. So real sea salt rather than refined salt (read more here), good quality dates (I often use medjool dates), good quality cacao (WITHOUT the fat removed), raw, organic nuts etc.

One of my favorite recipes is Raw Chocolate Avocado Pie. AVOCADO you think?  Yes, avocado actually gives a creamy texture that replaces the dairy used in many recipes. Of all the people I have made this for, only 1 person ever guessed there was avocado in this pie!

RAW CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PIE

Crust: Combine the below ingredients in a food processor and pulse, then press into a pie dish and put aside:

1 cup dried shredded raw coconut

1 cup almonds (it is best to soak the almonds for a few hours to improve digestibility)

1/4 cup dates (preferably medjool)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil or olive oil

Chocolate layer: Combine the below ingredients in the food processor and mix until creamy, then pour over crust and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. I topped mine with cacao nibs for some added crunch. 

2 large ripe avocados

1/2 cup unsweetened and full fat cacao powder

1/2 cup maple syrup

dash of vanilla powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

ENJOY!

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Here are some other great raw dessert recipes:

Raw Cashew Raspberry Pie – this comes out very sophisticated-looking :)

Raw Brownies – these are just amazing – so similar to the real thing!

Raw Cacao Fudge Bites

Raw Date Squares

Raw Cacao Nib Cookies