Chia pudding www.acupofcoconut.com

As the second week of 2016 comes to an end, I find myself looking back at last year and feeling… oh so many feelings! 2015, you really brought it good.. Tears were shed, laughter was had (and lots of it), mistakes were made, and lessons were learned.

I mixed things up a bit last year, trying new things and working new jobs, and it really set in stone the realisation that when we put ourselves out there, and push past our comfort zone, put aside the fear of failing, of being inadequate and not succeeding, not only do you challenge yourself, but you meet the most amazing people. Having been spoiled with such incredible friends already, I never thought I was missing out. Who knew that this time last year there were such awesome people out there that I just hadn’t met yet? To all the excellent friends I’ve made in 2015 – especially Chloe, Nadia, Fiona, Callum and Roy…how happy I am to have met you all!

Friends www.acupofcoconut.com

15 years of friendship and counting… Photo blatantly stolen from Alice.

Sooo, where does chia fit into all of this sentimental rambling? Well, this recipe is for you lovely Fiona… I know it won’t be nearly as delicious as the chia pannacotta by Finlay & Sons…but just maybe it will be an OK substitute between coffee catch-ups?

Chia Pudding www.acupofcoconut.com

Vanilla Chia Pudding with Berries
Makes 2 x jars

Ingredients
1/2 cup chia seeds (black or white is fine, I buy this brand, grown here in WA)
1.5 cups milk (cow’s, soy*, coconut etc)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or other natural sweetener. If using stevia, adjust amount accordingly)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*A note when choosing soy milk – look for one that is non-GMO, made from whole soy beans (not isolate), is organic, Australian made and calcium fortified. I tend to buy this one.

Additional Ingredients, to Serve
Frozen berries (I love to layer raspberries and blackberries) and toasted almonds
OR
Sliced mango topped with freshly squeezed lime juice, lime zest, and desiccated coconut

Directions
1. Mix chia, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sweetener in a medium size bowl and stir to combine.
2. Let mixture sit for a few minutes, and then stir again.
3. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight)

To Serve
Once set, grab two jars and spoon some pudding into each. Top with a layer of berries (or mango and lime juice). Repeat layering chia pudding and fruit until the jars are full. Top with a little more fruit, toasted nuts and/or coconut (I love slivered almonds), fresh mint leaves and/or some grated lime zest. Great to make ahead of time and keep as an easy summer breakfast, snack, or dessert.

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Spicy Guacamole

What is there to say about guacamole, really? I think this tasty avocado based concoction speaks for itself, loudly and deliciously. There are few things as enjoyable as a perfectly ripe avocado, and the fact that they provide a wealth of health benefits is just the icing on the cake (or to be more apt, the chili slices on the guacamole!).

I won’t try to claim that this is an authentic guacamole recipe, because alas it is not. Although on second thoughts, maybe it’s not that far off… I can’t really say as I’ve not yet been lucky enough to experience truly authentic Mexican cuisine. But one can always dream… Gotta have goals in life! #guacamoledaydreams

In other news, here are a few bits and pieces that have been keeping me entertained over these last few months, between work, uni exams, …more work, and uni break. Buen apetito!

* Winter in Perth can only mean small bars, fireplaces, and red wine
* But, if it’s summer in Perth you’re lusting after, prepared to be mesmerised for 3:47 mins!
* If you love food and witty banter, you must listen to my new podcast obsession Spilled Milk
* 52 places to visit in 2015, according to the New York Times
* The gut microbiome is a fascinating area of science, embrace your inner nerd and take Gut Check: Exploring your Microbiome (hosted by the University of Colarado) with me!
* Sometimes crowdfunding leads to really cool things happening
* Gotta love beef; here’s some cooking inspiration
* Everybody’s heard of gluten, but what the heck is it anyway? (hint: a protein!)
* Not ready for the real deal? Check out these pretty (and temporary!) tattoos
* For your perving pleasure… 😉

Spicy Guacamole www.acupofcoconut.com

Spicy Guacamole
Makes a medium sized bowl

Ingredients
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Juice of two fresh limes
1 medium garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 – 1 whole red chili, finely chopped
Small handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Optional Ingredients, to Serve
A few slices of fresh chili
A sprig of coriander

Directions
1. Using a fork, smoosh the avocado in a bowl until it is the desired consistency (I like to leave it a little chunky!)
2. Add all remaining ingredients (salt and pepper to taste), and gently mix to combine.

To Serve
Top with a chili/herb garnish and scoop up with corn chips, spread on fresh toasty bread, or have it for breakfast along with some poached eggs.

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Easy Homemade Sauerkraut via acupofcoconut.com

As I’ve recently discovered, fermenting vegetables is a whole lot of fun! The process is suprisingly easy, the end result is delicious, and you can give yourself a pat on the back for creating something that is great for your gut health. If you’re new to fermenting, sauerkraut is an ideal place to start. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, you can mix things up by adding flavours and spices like red chili, garlic and carraway seeds, but today let’s keep it easy and I’ll share with you the most basic recipe for this popular side dish. All you’ll need is raw cabbage and salt! Plus a willingness to give your arms a bit of a workout…

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut via acupofcoconut.com

I chose to mix red and green cabbage in this batch, simply because I think it looks so pretty and vibrant. Feel free to just stick with one or the other though as the taste won’t vary that much. In terms of health benefits, red cabbage may have a slight nutritional edge due to its concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, reflected in its rich purple colour. Anthocyanins are a type of flavanoid, which function as antioxidants in the body. They are the same compound responsible for giving blueberries their beautiful skin colour. If the science of this intrigues you, check out this article for a more in depth look.

If you haven’t tried sauerkraut before, keep in mind that it may be a bit of an acquired taste. It retains a slight crunch, and a salty, slightly vinegary flavour. Sounds yum right?! Joking aside, when paired with the right flavours sauerkraut can be a delicious addition to your breakfast, lunch or dinner. I love it with poached eggs and avocado on toast, and with good quality herb sausages in a bun. Mmmm!

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut via acupofcoconut.com

There is a long tradition throughout history of fermenting food as a method of preservation. In recent years there is a visible surge in popularity due to the health benefits associated with fermented products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir. Gut health is a fascinating and constantly evolving area of research, which is exciting stuff. If you happened to have missed it, Catalyst did an interesting two part documentary a few months back called ‘Gut Reaction‘, which is definitely worth a watch. From a scientific point of view, there is good evidence to back up the health claims of some fermented foods, like sauerkraut, which is a great source of probiotics. Other products, such as kombucha, are a little lagging. Tim Crowe (an Accredited Practising Dietitian & Associate Professor of Nutrition who writes a great blog called Thinking Nutrition) shares his two cents on whether the science stacks up for fermented foods here.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut via acupofcoconut.com

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut
Makes 1 large jar, or 2 smaller jars

Ingredients
approx. 800g raw green cabbage, finely shredded
approx. 200g raw red cabbage, finely shredded
1 tablespoon sea salt (I use this lovely pink one from the Murray River)

Directions
1. Finely slice, shred or grate the cabbage.
2. In a large glass bowl, combine cabbage and salt.
3. For a good 15 minutes, give your arms a workout by massaging the cabbage. Eventually you will notice water coming out of the cabbage, and this is exactly what you want! When combined with the salt, this creates the brine in which the cabbage will ferment.
4. Use a wooden spoon to scoop the cabbage into one large, or two smaller, clean glass jars (do not use plastic or metal!). Add a few spoons, then use the end of the wooden spoon to really press down the cabbage into the jar, stamping out any air pockets.
5. Once all the cabbage is tightly pressed into your jar/s, pour in the brine.
6. Take care to ensure that the brine covers all of the cabbage. You really don’t want any bits of cabbage to float to the top and become exposed to the air, as these will grow mouldy.
7. If you didn’t massage the cabbage for long enough, you may find you don’t have enough brine to cover the cabbage. Don’t despair, you can make extra brine by combining 2 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of sea salt, and using this to top up your jars. Try not to overfill your jars, leave about half an inch from the top so that pressure doesn’t build up during the fermentation process, causing an explosion!
8. To ensure the cabbage won’t float to the top and grow mouldy, use a small glass weight to put inside the jar, weighing down the cabbage and keeping it submerged. I use the glass lid of another smaller jar and it works a treat.
9. Seal jar/s with an airtight lid, and store in a cool, dark place such as the bottom of your pantry, for 7 – 10 days depending on your taste preference.
10. Move sauerkraut to the fridge and enjoy a couple of spoonfuls each day! It will last for a couple of months when made and stored correctly.

To Serve
Eat sauerkraut anyway you see fit! I personally love it with eggs, so my ideal breakfast would be sourdough toast topped with avocado, lemon juice, chili, sauerkraut, and poached organic eggs. If you’re in WA and looking for ethical, organic, free-range eggs, you must try Cackleberries, which you can buy from Absolutely Organic. They are a pricier choice, but well worth it.

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Chilled Berry Oats with Rosewater & Almonds via acupofcoconut.com

As I plan out my next few weeks by making scribbles in my diary, I can hardly believe that it is nearly mid-January, 2015! How surreal is that?! I have fond memories of watching Back to the Future on repeat while growing up (Part III was secretly my favourite – don’t judge), and it is a little mind blowing to think that the ‘future’ referenced was indeed 2015, complete with hoverboards and dog-walking robots. If that doesn’t make me feel old, I don’t know what will!

Back to the Future 2015

A friendly reminder that as of last week, this is how we are all supposed to dress. Bangin’! Image via quickmeme.com

I’m not that big on setting myself new year resolutions. I once read that a better time of year to evaluate your life and set yourself goals is your birthday. I quite like this logic, as the passing of one age to the next often provokes a feeling of self reflection. So this is what I try to do. That being said, there are some specific goals that I’ve been intending to see through, and what better time that now!

1. Get outside more. I’ve kicked this off by signing up for fitness classes at the local park, and downloading the Podcast ‘Serial‘. I know I’m behind on this, but have you guys listened to it yet? I’m only 1 episode in and I’m hooked! With 10ish hours of storytelling mastery, I’ve committed to only listening to it while out walking/jogging. Now I can’t wait for my evening strolls.
2. Take more moments to relax, appreciate and unwind. De-stressing is super important for your physical and mental wellbeing, and practicing mindfullness can help you achieve just that. I can’t wait to do more yoga this year, and I’m excited to have found a local studio that do classes by candlelight. If you have a similiar goal, keep in mind that Lululemon in Perth do free sunset yoga classes at the beach on Wednesday evenings.
3. Plan my meals ahead. One of the best ways to eat more healthily, save money, and improve your cooking skills is to put in a little planning. I love shopping at the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, and I’m in the process of developing a Sunday cook-up plan for the following days. Something as simple as cooking up a few cups of brown rice, a big tray of roasted veg in fresh herbs, toasting nuts and seeds, making a jar of hummus, and mixing one or two fresh salad dressings, can provide you with lunch for the next 3 days at least. When I work out my weekly cook-up, I’ll be sure to share it with you!

So, summer oats! Please excuse my lengthy introduction, but in some shape and form I was eventually going to get to the point of making time to eat breakfast. I am sometimes guilty of skipping breakfast when I’m in a rush (my love of sleep competes with my love of food), so I thought I would run this idea by you: why not make breakfast the night before?!

Oats are delicious, creamy and so good for you! Even my gluten-free friends may still be able to eat them (be sure to check the packaging to see where and how they were processed). Over on Facebook last week, I shared this article highlighting new research out of Harvard University that supports just how great this wholegrain is for good health and longevity. Summer ‘porridge’ involves soaking your oaks overnight, with delicious toppings, leaving you no excuse to skip breakfast the next day. Best of all, it only requires 5 min prep the night before!

Chilled Berry Oats with Almonds and Rosewater

Chilled Berry Oats with Rosewater & Almonds
Makes 1 jar, perfect for breakfast on the run or a mid-arvo snack

Ingredients
¼ cup oats (go for rolled, not instant)
¼ cup milk (or dairy free nut milk, soya milk etc)
¼ cup plain, unsweetened yoghurt
½ tablespoon honey (or more/less to taste)
¼ teaspoon rosewater
a dash vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
1 teaspoon chia seeds
½ cup (or more!) thinly sliced strawberries

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients, except for the strawberries, in a medium bowl, gently mixing until just combined.
2. In a clear glass jar, layer a couple of spoons of oat mix with a few sliced berries, and repeat until the jar is full.
3. Seal jar, and leave in the fridge overnight.

To serve
Eat straight from the jar, or spoon into a bowl and top with additional nuts, seeds, berries, yoghurt, and/or other fruit. Don’t be afraid to mix up the recipe to include your favourite ingredients! Try substituting berries for other summer fruits, such as plums or peaches. In the cooler months, try baked apple or pear and use pure apple juice instead of milk. Almond butter or tahini would be a tasty addition if you choose to use banana instead of berries (note – in this case leave out the rosewater and use cinnamon instead!).

I hope you have kicked off the new year with health, happiness and a good appetite!

P.S For all you Back to the Future nerds out there (loud and proud!) get excited: Nike will release Back to the Future shoes with self tying laces later this year…

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Mango and Lime Lassi

Waking up to a hot summer’s morning can leave you lacking in appetite. Something about the warm weather and the blazing sun can be enough to put you off spending time in the kitchen altogether, let alone cooking eggs on the stove top.

Smoothies and lassis are one of my favourite breakfasts and afternoon snacks during these warm months. They are quick and easy to make, plus delicious and nutritious when you choose your ingredients mindfully!

Traditionally, a lassi is a savoury yoghurt-based drink popular in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Around the world, fruit such as mango and plums have been added to sweeten lassis, making them a delicious treat.

In my eyes, any recipe involving yoghurt (plain and unflavoured) is a winner. Not only is yoghurt delicious, creamy and filling, but it is a great source of protein, calcium and probiotics. I love it and use it daily, particularly to make tzatziki. When making a pavlova, I tend to substitute some of the cream with lovely thick Greek yoghurt, giving the dessert a delicious tang.

A recent study by the School of Public Health at Harvard University found that eating yoghurt daily may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. So grab a spoon, and whip up this mango and lime lassi the next time you need a morning cool down! Remember to always go for unsweetened yoghurts, and add fruit to them yourselves. My favourites include: this one, this one and Margaret River Creamy Pot Set Greek Yoghurt.

Mango and Lime Lassi

Summer Lassi with Mango & Lime
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 x ripe mango, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 cup natural yoghurt (I love this one, and it’s easy to find at the supermarket)
1/4 cup cow’s milk, nut milk, or coconut water
1/2 frozen banana (approx. 50gm), sliced
Juice of 1 x lime
A good grating of lime zest

To Serve
Freshly grated lime zest
Ice! To cool you down on a hot summer’s day…

Directions
1. Simply add all ingredients to your blender, and blend until smooth!
2. If you like less of a ‘lassi’, and more of a smoothie (i.e less thick!) add additional milk/coconut water until you reach the ideal consistency.

To Serve
Pour lassi into two glasses, over ice. Grate some fresh lime zest onto each, and sip on it while sitting out the back on a warm January morning!

Summer Lassi with Mango and Lime

November and December have been busy months for me – sitting exams, a trip to Melbourne, finishing up at my job, and Christmas! Phew, lots of hard work, but I’ve been rewarded with good times. I hope you have had a lovely holiday break so far, full of family, friends and of course, good food.

* Why not spend 36 hours in Athens? You may just fall in love…
* Could meditation really change you at a cellular level?
* Need some whole food eating inspiration? Here are 10 foods worth putting on your plate every day
* Wouldn’t it be awesome to take a free course in ‘Introduction to Sustainable Development’ taught by Columbia Univeristy?
* Or, why not take an online course in ‘Child Nutrition and Cooking’ taught by Stanford University? Free of course!
* There is an abundance of information out there about saturated fats. Check out this article to help you get your head around them
* Buy pretty sandals from these guys, and some of your $$ will go towards bee research
* An allergy-free guide to eating out in Melbourne
* Check out this updated list of the top 100 places to eat and drink in WA. Has anyone had coffee at Bossmans? I’ve been hanging out to try it!
* Sparkles and New Year’s Eve go hand in hand

Mango and Lime Lassi

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