Mel Christensen

Mel Christensen

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Brownies that tick all the boxes! … NO gluten, dairy, refined sugar, eggs, or animal products!

Zucchini Brownies

… You can even leave out the nuts!

I am constantly receiving recipe requests for people with allergies, or simply for those who have made lifestyle choices such as eating Sugar Free, or Vegan or Paleo.  Well this might just be a treat that pleases just about everyone … and those with nut allergies have NOT been forgotten either.  Life’s too short too miss out on chocolate.

… So don’t!  😉

 

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

*Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Grain Free, Paleo-Friendly, Vegan and Nut Free (omit walnuts!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small grated zucchini (100g)
  • ½ cup pureed apple – about 1 small apple (100g)
  • 250ml coconut milk (or your choice of milk – almond or macadamia milk are great choices if you can tolerate nuts!)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp tahini (30g)
  • 1 tbsp mesquite powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (100g)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (65g)
  • 1 cup coconut flour (135g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar (60g)
  • ¼ cup Natvia (40g)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts (optional – omit for nut-free option)

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C, and line a 9×13 baking dish (such as a lamington tray) with baking paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients and let sit at least 5 minutes. (TM – place in TM bowl and combine 5 Sec / Speed 4)
  3. Combine all other ingredients in a separate bowl, and stir very well. Pour wet ingredients into dry, stir until evenly mixed. (TM –  add remaining ingredients, except walnuts, and combine 5 sec / Speed 4, Scrape and then for a further 5 sec / Speed 5.)
  4. Fold in walnuts by hand if using (TM  – simply add to TM bowl 10 Sec/Reverse/Speed 2.)
  5. Scape batter out of bowl and into the prepared baking dish. Using a full sheet baking paper, press down very firmly until the brownie batter evenly covers the pan.
  6. Bake 25 – 30 mins minutes.  Let sit 15 minutes before trying to cut into squares.
  7. Top with chocolate icing (see note below)

*Makes 20-24 squares. (Frosting recipe is below.)

Icing:

  • 90g Stevia-Sweetened Dark Chocolate (again, I like “Well Naturally” Stevia-sweetened dark chocolate)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream (the thick stuff from the top is ideal and is best separated off the top of the coconut cream can has been refrigerated)
  1. Melt chocolate together with coconut oil and stir until smooth. You can do this in a microwave or double boiler.  (TM-Melt chocolate 3 min /50C / Speed 3)
  2. Take off heat.  Add the coconut cream and stir briskly until a nice silky consistency is achieved.  If the mixture splits, a stick mixer will easily save the day!(TM- Add the coconut cream and process a further 20 sec / Speed 3)

Little Orange & Chia Seed Cakes - The perfect motivation to get your 'bake on'!

Orange Chia Cakes

So, for those of you feeling the urge to get their ‘bake on’ this weekend (or perhaps to treat mum for Mother’s day), here’s a recipe that I absolutely LOVE!

It’s nice an easy and produces the most divinely moist little cakes that are filled with an abundance of important nutrients … Although with your cup of tea in hand a delicate little treat like this in front of you I’m sure nutrition will be the furthest thing from your mind!

 

Little Orange & Chia Seed Cakes

*Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free (omit icing)

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole oranges (use blood or Cara oranges for optimal results!) – tops removed and scored with a cross about 3cm deep
  • 6 free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract/essence
  • 170g Natvia for Baking
  • 250g almonds (or almond meal if you are not using a Thermomix or other high torque blender)
  • 3 tsp baking powder (Ensure it is a Gluten free brand if allergies are a consideration)
  • Pinch of sea or pink Himalayan salt
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds, soaked in 60ml water for about 30mins

Method:

  1. Place the prepared oranges in boiling water. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes.
  2. Soak your chia seeds in the 60ml water.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170C
  4. Place your almond meal, Natvia, baking powder and salt in a food processor bowl and mix to combine. (TM – place almonds in TM bowl 10sec / speed 9 then add Natvia,  baking powder and salt and process further 5 sec / speed 9.)  Add eggs and vanilla and process until combined. (TM 5 sec / speed 7 – scrape and repeat.)
  5. Drain the boiled oranges well.  Add to your food processor and purée together with the other ingredients along with your soaked chia seeds. (TM – 10 sec / Speed 9 – repeat if necessary to smooth out any lumps.)
  6. Pour the mixture into about 18 lightly greased silicone muffin pans (I grease mine with coconut oil.  You can use paper cases if preferred.)
  7. Bake in the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes or until firm but still moist.
  8. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack and cool.
  9. For best results, finish with some piped *Angelic Cream Cheese Icing (recipe to follow) and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

Enjoy!! Makes about 18 cupcakes

 

Angelic Cream Cheese Icing

*Sugar Free

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup (50g)  Natvia Icing Mix
  • 180g European-Style cottage cheese at room temperature (Not the kind that comes in a tub! I use Brancourt’s brand from Costco), or Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese.
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (you also use coconut cream but it will not set as firm)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Few drops of doTerra lemon essential oil (optional but fabulous!)

Method:

  1. Place the icing mix and cottage cheese into your food processor and blend on a medium speed until smooth. (TM – 10 Sec / Speed 5)
  2. Add the coconut oil and lemon juice. Process further until a smooth and silky consistency is achieved – a good 20-30 seconds in a high speed food processor mix should do it. (TM – 10 Sec / Speed 8, scrape down and repeat.)
  3. Spread or pipe onto top of muffins and garnish with a sprinkling of chia seeds

Clean Eating Pie? .... OH MY!!!

Apple Blueberry Pie

How does that expression go? “Necessity is the mother of invention?” … Well that pretty much sums up how this latest pie incarnation came to be.

I was re-testing an old recipe of mine both for quality control purposes and to add Thermomix directions (I’m slowly getting through them all…!), and I realised that a Thermomix bowl will not hold more than 1 kg of apples. The reduced apple content took my ‘Apple Hi Pie’ to a kind of sad and pathetic looking “Flat Pie’

… But, alas, I had a Fitness Foodie “Make it Work” moment and I’m pretty darn happy with the results. A deliciously abundant pie that literally stopped everyone in their tracks as they walked passed it cooling on the kitchen servery. My youngest daughter commented that it was “so pretty and looks just like the ones in the fairy tales.” Bless!

So yes, very much success in terms of looks and taste. Last night’s serve went with some lovely creamy Greek yogurt but as soon as I hit that ‘post’ button I’m definitely going to throw on a batch of my Thermomix Creamy coconut custard.

I’ve been thinking about it all day actually… 😛

 

Apple & Blueberry Hi Pie

* Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Paleo Friendly

Filling:

  • 10 medium (1.5kg) apples, cored, peeled and sliced thickly (You will reduce this amount to 1 kg if you are going to add the blueberries.)
  • ½ cup (125ml) water
  • ¼ cup (40g) Natvia (or preferred sweetener such as coconut sugar)
  • Finely grated lemon rind of one lemon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries – optional.  (Leave these out if you and use the full 1.5kg of apples if you are wanting a plain apple pie)
  1. Place the apples and the water in a large saucepan; bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until the apples soften.
  3. Drain; stir sweetener, rind and spices into the apples. Cool.

(TM – Place apples in TM bowl – you will only fit in 1 kg at a time which is how I discovered this blueberry apple version!) , sprinkle with spices and rind then add water and sultanas.  Cook for 10 minutes, 90C Reverse + Speed 2.) 



Pastry: 

*Makes enough for one large 24 cm pie crust, including lattice top

  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. Natvia (or preferred sweetener)
  • 1 tbsp. honey or pure maple syrup (optional, but I think it balances out the sweetness and is a good binding agent)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (85g)  coconut flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup (75g) almond meal
  • ⅓ cup (55g) ground flaxseed
  • 1/8 tsp. salt, (0.5 mL)
  • 1 egg white


Method:


1. Preheat oven to 180C.


2. In a medium bowl or food processor, combine all ingredients until a nice pliable dough is formed. Add more wet or dry ingredients if you have not yet achieved this.  (TM – Place all ingredients except egg white into TM bowl and knead 20 sec/dough mode, adding more water if necessary. Place pastry onto ThermoMat or floured bench and roll out.)

3. Press the dough mixture into a springform tin or pie dish. If you are having difficulty with this it can be made easier by placing another piece of baking paper on top a pressing on this with the back of a spoon to prevent sticking. *Reserve about ¼ of the pastry for your lattice topping

4. Add your prepared pie filling to pie crust and sprinkle with blueberries (if using) and cut remain pastry into strips by rolling it out between sheets of baking paper and cutting into uniform sized strips. I found my large knife was useful in transferring the somewhat crumbly strips onto the pie topping (…maybe adding more honey or coconut oil to my dough in the first place may have eliminated this problem ???)


5. Brush with egg white and bake for 15-20 minutes or until starting to brown. You can also also sprinkle some Natvia icing mic or coconut sugar on the top (see pic. below) when my pie came out of the oven for that delicious sugar sprinkled look … ok, and a bit of added sweetness too 

Enjoy!!

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Vanilla Slice - This iconic Aussie favourite can finally be taken off the banned list!!

Vanilla Slice

One really cool thing about committing to a lifestyle change like cutting out sugar, is that you find yourself craving the sweet stuff less and less. But for me, there are definitely still those moments when the need to indulge in something sweet hits hard … Studying definitely seems to be one of those triggers!

So, while I have spent the past week madly learning new choreography (any fellow Les Mills fitness instructors out there will hear me I’m sure!), I have had two words playing in the back of my mind: Vanilla Slice. And as you probably have guessed, I’m talking about a clean one, one that’s free from sugar, dairy, gluten and processed anything!

Well, the good news is, I’ve got this latest Body Pump release pretty much sussed. The better news, I had a slice of this as my reward. WOW … SO delicious!

(… Is it wrong that I totally just had this for lunch?)

Vanilla Slice

*Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free

 

Ingredients:

 

Pastry:

  • 250g Rice Flour (or 250g Brown Rice Processed in TM – 30 sec / Speed 9)
  • 60g Coconut Flour
  • 2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 120g olive oil spread
  • 80g coconut oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt (or pink Himalayan salt)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. (20g) Natvia (or preferred natural sweetener)
  • 80 g chilled water

 

Custard Filling:

  • 6 gelatine leaves (10g) soaked for cold water for about 5 minutes
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup(75g) pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup (50g) Natvia (or preferred natural sweetener)
  • 1 tsp (5g) vanilla bean paste
  • 50 g coconut oil
  • 60 g tapioca flour (also known as arrowroot – cornflour can be used instead)
  • 500g coconut cream
  • 6 egg yolks

 

Passionfruit Icing:

  • 170 g raw unsalted cashews
  • 50 g coconut cream
  • 30 g maple syrup
  • 2 passionfruit, pulp and seeds only

 

Method:

Pastry

  1. Place all of the pastry ingredients into food processor bowl and process on low setting until combined into a pliable dough (TM – 20 – 30 seconds /)
  2. Turn onto floured board or Thermomat. Shape dough into a rectangle
  3. Roll until dough is approximately 40cm x 12cm. Fold top 1/3 down and fold bottom 1/3 up. Turn dough around and roll again.
  4. Repeat step 4 three (3) times (keep dough, mat and pin floured)
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Take half of the pastry and roll out to 2 mm thick. Cut to fit a 22cm x 32cm baking tray
  7. Take the other half of the pastry and roll out to 2 mm thick. Cut to fit a another 22cm x 32cm baking tray.
  8. Bake in 180C oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Custard Filling

  1. Take your soaked gelatine leaves out of cold water, squeeze dry and place in small bowl with 1/3cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve and set aside.
  2. Gently warm maple syrup, Natvia, vanilla and coconut oil in pan. Turn off heat. (TM – you can skip the next four steps and instead just place all of the remaining custard ingredients into TM bowl cook 7 mins / 90C / Speed 4)
  3. Mix tapioca flour and coconut cream to form a paste. Add this to the pan along with the dissolved gelatine mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Whisk egg yolks in bowl, and then slowly whisk in custard mixture.
  5. Stir the mixture CONSTANTLY over medium heat till it becomes thick. (Don’t take your eyes off it – just keep mixing it until it is a smooth and thick consistency)
  6. Pour custard mixture into a glass bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow to cool in fridge.
  7. Once cool, lay one sheet of cooked pastry into the baking tray, and cover with the custard filling. Spread out evenly over the base using a rubber spatula or pallet knife.
  8. Carefully place the top sheet of cooked pastry on top and press gently.
  9. Place in the fridge and allow to cool further.

 

Passionfruit Icing

  1. Place cashews in to food processor and process on highest setting until smooth (TM- 30 seconds / speed 9.)
  2. Scrape down sides and mix for a further 1 minute (TM 1 min / speed 6)
  3. Add coconut cream and mix for 1 minute (TM 1 min / speed 6)
  4. Add maple syrup and mix for 30 seconds (TM 30 sec / speed 6)
  5. Add passionfruit and mix for 30 seconds (TM 30 sec / speed 6)
  6. Spread over the top layer of pastry. Return to the fridge and allow to set for another 30 – 60 minutes.
  7. Cut into squares, refrigerate fridge and enjoy!!

Fast Fresh and Fabulous ... These Thai Chicken Patties are sure to be a crowd favourite!

thai chicken balls
Whether you’re entertaining, wanting a cheap and easy midweek meal or looking for something different to pop in the lunchboxes, this recipe’s an absolute winner. I highly recommend sourcing the bulk of your ingredients from your local Asian grocer.. Save money, be sure you’re getting ingredients fresh and that you are support local business.

Everybody wins!

Happy Friday all ;-)))

 

Thai Chicken Patties

*Gluten Free, Low Carb., Nut Free, Dairy free (omit dipping sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced, onion greens included
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced (or garlic chives)
  • Small handful fresh Vietnamese mint
  • Small handful fresh coriander (include root as long as they’re clean!)
  • 1-2 heaped tbsp Thai green curry paste, according to how spicy you like it. (I like Mae Ploy – no additives)
  • 500g chicken mince (You can mince your own chicken thighs in the Thermomix if you have one using the turbo function for 4 – 5  two seconds.  It’s best if they are semi-frozen when you do this)
  • 2 cups (240g) coarsely grated zucchini (from about 2 to 3 small zucchinis or one medium zucchini)
  • ⅓ cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

*Plus coconut oil (or preferred oil) for cooking

 

Coriander, Lime & Yogurt Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Juice & grated rind of ½ a lime
  • Small handful fresh coriander (include root as long as they’re clean!)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed (or garlic chives)
  • 1 tbsp.(15ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. Make the dipping sauce by placing all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stirring until combined. Chill until ready to use. (TM – Lime rind first 5 Sec / Speed 6 then add restof ingredients 10 sec / Speed 5)
  2. Using a small food processor or large knife, chop together your garlic, onions and herbs. (TM 5 sec / Speed 5)
  3. Pour herb mix into a large bowl and using your hands, mix in the minced chicken, zucchini, egg and coconut flour until the mixture is well combined.
  4. Use your hands to form patties (your choice as to how big). Place them on a baking sheet.
  5. Heat oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium. Working in batches, place the patties in the pan. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then flip the patties over and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes.
  6. Once the first batch of patties are done, remove to a paper towel-lined plate while you cook the second batch. Or you can keep the patties warm in a warm oven.
  7. Serve with the yogurt sauce and side salad. They are also great as finger food in one tablespoon portions rolled into balls and then flattened into patties during cooking.
  8. Enjoy!!

 

Yield: Serves 4-6.

Like Tahini? ... Well 'Halva' Look At THIS!

Fruit & Nut Halva

Like many Greek kids, I spent many a childhood weekend helping out my dad in his shop.  He had Delis mostly, which probably explains my fondness for beautiful cheeses and small-goods. But, as a little girl, the one thing I would get really excited about was that delicious sweet treat in the deli cabinet known as “Halva.”  Made mostly from Tahini (and loads of sugar!), this would be the reward that would have me keen on helping out with anything in that shop –  from stacking the drinks fridge to putting away all the small-goods at the end of the day.   So yesterday, when I concocted this protein slice using whatever I could find in the pantry, I accidentally took myself on a trip down memory lane. The cool thing about this sweet-as flashback was that I had come up with a beautifully nutritious version of a treat that, thanks to my insulin resistance, is well and truly placed on the “don’t go there” list!

Oh yeah, I’m going there … And I’m loving it!  Who’s coming with me?  This stuff really is THE BUSINESS!

Oh, and speaking of businesses… May I take this opportunity to remind you of the benefits of shopping local and supporting your local business?  I saw a post from a fellow food blogger recently getting very excited about ALDI having (“For this week only of course!”) a range of wholefoods such as buckwheat flour, tahini, dried herbs, nuts and seeds at bargain prices.  So here’s my tip – Save even MORE by visiting your local specialist grocer.  Example…. My local Middle Eastern Grocer (Tetreyas Mini Market in Mitcham rd, Mitcham) is where I buy my Tahini for $10 per kg!  – Every Day.  That’s just one example of the value for money your going to get from there. Don’t even get me started on his cheese prices – Amazing!  Doesn’t help me manage my cheese addiction at all …

Enjoy!  (… In moderation of course 😉

 

Fruit & Nut Halva Slice

*Gluten, Dairy, Egg & Refined Sugar-Free, Vegan

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup (55g) walnuts
  • ½ cup (75g) raw cashews
  • ½ cup (75g) Brazil nuts
  • ½ cup (75g) pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup (30g) sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup (40g) chia seeds
  • ½ cup (75g) unsweetened dried fruit (I used pineapple & cherries)
  • ½ cup (40g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 2 large scoops (60g) pea protein, or preferred protein powder (I used Pea Pro, Vanilla flavour)
  • Pinch of sea salt or Himalayan rock salt
  • 1 cup (240g) 100% Tahini
  • ½ cup (100g) extra virgin coconut oil (plus an extra teasonn to mix with the chocolate for your topping)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup (40g) Natvia , (… OR your preferred sweetener such as date syrup, which is what I used in combination to Natvia to balance out the flavour and it turned out JUST right!  Please taste as you go and adjust to you own sweet tooth . The amount of sweetener will also depend on whether your protein powder is sweetened or not.)
  • 20g stevia-sweetened dark chocolate (I like Well Naturally brand which can be found in the Health Food section of most Aussie supermarkets.)

Method:

  1. Line a 20cm x 24cm lamington/slice tin  with baking paper (a bit of spray oil will help it to stick.
  2. In food processor, add all nuts, seedsand dried fruit. Pulse until well chopped, but also allow some texture to remain.  Add your coconut, protein powder and salt.
  3. In small saucepan over low heat, combine the tahini, coconut oil, Natvia, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir to combine then remove from heat.
  4. Pour melted tahini mixture into the bowl and stir everything until mixture is well coated and protein powder is mixed in.
  5.  Use a spatula to scrape nut mixture into a lamington tin or large baking tray (with sides at least a couple of cms high) lined with baking paper and press the mixture into pan firmly and evenly.) Put into fridge or freezer to set. *Please Note: Because of variations in texture of both protein powders and nut/seed butters you may need to adjust the quantities to achieve the perfect ‘not too wet, not to dry’ mixture.  If you can press the mixture firmly between your thumb and forefinger without it crumbling and falling apart, you are doing well!
  6. Melt together your chocolate and 1 tsp. of coconut oil. This can be done over a double boiler or for an easier method, stick them both in a mug and microwave for 20 secs and stir briskly to melt until smooth)
  7. Using a tablespoon, spoon the melted chocolate using a flicking kind of action across the top of your slice, until you’ve used it all up.
  8. Store in fridge, or wrap individually and store in freezer for a convenient grab ‘n’ go portable snack.

 

Halva Birdseye

Banoffee Pie - Nobody should have to miss out on a dessert this good!

Banoffee Pie Piece

 

I’ll be honest with you … I am more of a savoury person than sweet … But every now and then I come across a dessert that makes me crazy – Banoffee Pie is one of those desserts.  I’ve made the old Nestle Top ‘n’ fill Caramel version a couple of times in the (distant) past and when I revisited that old recipe late last year in response to my stepson’s birthday requests. The traditional recipe, with its bucketloads of sugar and butter and biscuits and cream, I was actually grossed out at the the thought of eating it … Yet SOOO inspired to make a clean version.

I am happy to report that not only does this recipe tick just about every box (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Raw, Vegan, Paleo Friendly), it is SO MUCH NICER than that old one that I loved eating as a kid… And your kids are sure to love this too –  If they are allowed near your Banoffee masterpiece!   Yes, its a bit of a labour of love but OMG is it worth it?!?!

If you’re looking for an impressive dessert (on all levels!)  I think this is the recipe you have been looking for!

Enjoy!! (…In moderation, of course! ;-))

 

Banoffee Pie

*Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Raw, Vegan, Paleo Friendly

 

*PREPARATION NOTE: You will need to refrigerate the coconut cream overnight AND dates for the toffee should be soaked for a couple of hours –  so make sure you have these things sorted in advance ;-)

BASE:

Ingredients:

  • 100g unsalted nuts (I use a combination of almonds, cashews and pecans)
  • 50g (1/2 cup) coconut flour
  • 25g (1/4 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 30g (2 tbsp) melted extra virgin coconut oil
  • 4-5 Medjool dates (no need to soak these ones)
  • 20g (1 tbsp.) date syrup (or you can use pure maple syrup instead)
  • 5g (1 tsp.) pure vanilla essence or paste

 

Method:

  1. Grease (with a bit of coconut oil) and line (with baking paper) a 20cm diameter spring form pan … or pie dish if you don’t have one.
  2. Combine all of the base ingredients into a food processor and pulse to combine  (TM – 10 sec / Speed 6)
  3. Empty the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth it out to evenly to cover the base and sides. (My favourite method is to use the upturned lid of my coconut oil spray as a ‘smoothing out’ tool – it’s perfect for getting right into the edges and a circular motion makes it easy to get a smooth even finish!)
  4. Place your prepared base into freezer while you make your toffee layer.

 

TOFFEE LAYER:

  • 20 – 24 Dates – SOAKED for at least an hour then peeled and pitted when cooled. (Number used will depend on size and type.  Medjool dates are best but you may prefer to use the smaller Iranian dates which are cheaper at Middle Eastern Grocers but you will need more – total pitted and peeled weight of date flesh should be around 220g)
  • 200g (3/4 cup) coconut cream (room temperature is fine)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste or essence
  • ½ tsp. Pink Himalayan salt (or good quality sea salt)

Method:

  1. Place the date flesh (making sure all pits and skin removed!) into food processor bowl and process until smooth. (TM – 10 Sec / Speed 4)  
  2. Add half of coconut cream and process again (TM – 10 Sec / Speed 4)
  3. Add other half of the coconut cream and process again (TM – 10 Sec / Speed 4)
  4. Add the vanilla and salt and process one more time at a slightly high speed to ensure a nice smooth toffee-like consistency is achieved. (TM 10sec / speed 4-5)
  5. Using a spatula to help you, pour the caramel onto your prepared base, smoothing out with the back of a dessert spoon, then refrigerate while you prepare the topping and slice the bananas.

 

TOPPING

  • 2 x 400g cans REFRIGERATED Thick Coconut Cream (You will only be skimming the top half off these once cold and reserving the rest for your next smoothie, curry etc. The actual weight going into this recipe of coconut cream will be about 200g or half – the better thicker half!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste or essence

You will also need …

  • 3 – 4 ripe and ready bananas (depending on size)
  • About 20g sugar free dark chocolate (I use Well Naturally Stevia-sweetened chocolate found in the health food section of most Aussie supermarkets), grated.


Method:

  1. Remove coconut cream cans from the fridge. Skim the thick top half out an place into a large bowl and set aside the thinner bottom half to use in other cooking.
  2. Add vanilla bean paste/ essence and, using an electric hand beater whip until light and fluffy (You can use the Thermomix with butterfly attachment to do this but when I tried I over mixed it really quickly –  I found the hand mixer to be  a more effective option but it’s up to you.  The key here is to keep an eye on it and stop once you have soft peaks forming.  Set Aside.
  3. Slice your bananas and fan them evenly over the toffee layer of your pie.
  4. Using a spatula, top bananas with the whipped coconut cream,
  5. Finish with some grated chocolate shavings and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. Best served within 24 hours of preparation … if it lasts that long! ;-)

Individual Cheesecakes with Seasonal Fruit and Gooey Chocolate - My secret weapon in beating those sneaky sweet cravings!

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There are so many little catch phrases that I’ve come across during my fitness journey  ( I think it could be an Instructor thing?!?!),  but one my favourites comes from fellow instructor/personal trainer/ mentor Patti O’Hara – AKA Fit Diva (http://www.fitdivapersonaltraining.com/) … “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail!”

Yes, I certainly do have a passion for concocting clean treats, but they are exactly that – “treats!”    With desserts this good, the temptation to have “a little bit more” can sometimes get in the way of achieving our health and fitness goals.   That’s why portion control has become my secret weapon!  Make a bunch of these, stick them in the freezer and when that craving takes hold its as simple as pop out and serve.  With diced seasonal fruit to garnish … and for extra “OMG factor”, top with some warm gooey chocolate Ganache.  Mmmmm….

Cheesecake is good.  Individual Cheesecakes are BETTER!  …. In every sense of the word!

Enjoy!! 😉

 

 

Individual  Cheesecakes with Seasonal Fruit and Gooey Chocolate 

*Grain Free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free

For Crust:

  • 150g macadamias (or your preferred nut such as almonds, hazelnuts etc.)
  • 1 cup (100g) desiccated coconut (lightly toast in a non-stick  fry pan for extra flavour!)
  • 2 tbsp. (20g) coconut oil
  • 3-4 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped lemon rind (save juice for filling)

 

  1. Combine all crust ingredients together in a food processor (only a couple of presses of the turbo function required if using a TM) just until it resembles fine biscuit crumbs, and press about heaped soup spoon’s worth into individual silicone muffin cups. You can use a metal muffin pan but these will require greasing with coconut oil or better still lining with baking paper/cling wrap.  Using the back of the spoon press the mixture firmly and evenly across the base of each cup.
  2.  Cool bases in the fridge whilst you prepare your filling.

 

For Filling:

  • 10g gelatine leaves
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 500g European (block-style) Cottage Cheese,  Quark cheese, or ‘Light’ Cream Cheese (I like Brancourts Farm-Style Cottage cheese from Costco Melbourne – naturally only about 3% fat!)
  • 300g Fresh Ricotta
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup (30- -40g) Natvia (you should taste as you add as sweetness level depends on which type you use and your own personal “sweet tooth”)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Juice of half lemon (reserved from base ingredients)

 

  1. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes.  Then remove them, squeezing out excess water before placing them in a small saucepan containing your 150ml boiled water. Stir the leaves in the boiled water until dissolved then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Combine cheeses and sweetener in high torque food processor until smooth and light.  (TM – Speed 9 for 10 sec., scrape and repeated for another 10 sec.) … It’s a good idea to taste the mix at this point to check for sweetness and adjust according to taste.
  3. Add cooled gelatine mixture along with the vanilla, and juice, and mix well until smooth and light.
  4. Pour cheesecake filling onto your prepared “biscuit” bases.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. – Overnight is best.  I like to freeze mine for longer life (and disciplinary reasons!!!) and just pop them out individually as required.
  6. When time to serve, pop your little baby cheesecakes out and top with fresh fruit and for extra “OMG factor”, top with some warm chocolate Ganache  (recipe below) – YUM!!!

 

 

* Gooey Chocolate Ganache  (This will top about 6 cheesecakes so adjust according to how many you are ‘breaking out of the fridge/freezer!)

  • 50g Stevia-sweetened Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces  (I used “Well Naturally” stevia-sweetened dark chocolate)
  • 5g (2 tsp.)  Coconut Oil

If using Thermomix… Place chocolate into TM bowl and grate for 5 seconds on speed 8. Add the coconut oil and heat for 2 minutes at 50c on speed  3.

If NOT using Thermomix… Simply melt together ingredients in a microwave proof bowl and place in microwave for about 20 seconds or in a double boiler over a low to medium heat.  Stir well to combine. The consistency should be creamy and smooth.

 

 

** NOTE:  If you are unable to use nuts in the crust, I recommend increasing the coconut to 1 ½ cups and adding ½ cup Psyllium husks.

 

Makes about 12 – 18 mini cheesecakes depending on the size of your muffin cases!

How do you like them apples...?

Parfait 1

What do do with that glut of apples? … Make THIS!

I love this recipe … It’s super healthy, will be sure to slam those sweet cravings that so often distract us from our health and fitness goals and they’re just SO pretty too!

I’ve made these with all sorts of apples in the past. Depending on the apple and how thinly you can slice them you can keep them raw or cook ’til al dente for easier fork action

If you want to get a bit fancy, these look great as individual trifles or keep things simple and use a big old glass bowl. Now matter how they end up looking I can guarantee they’ll keep your tast buds and your waistline HAPPY!

Enjoy!!

 

Caramel Apple & Pear Trifle

*Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Paleo Friendly, Vegan

*Can be made into individual “parfaits” as shown below


Ingredients:


Apple Cream:

  • 5 (about 700g) small apples, peeled and diced (any cooking quality apples will do)
  • 1 ½ cup (200g) raw cashews, soaked overnight and patted dry
  • 4 -5 tbsp. (65g) pure date syrup (or maple syrup)
  • 2 tbsp. (30g) lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. (10g) vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. (40g)  tahini (or other seed butter such as sunflower), gently melted
  • 4 tbsp. (30g) coconut oil, melted

Caramel Sauce:

  • ⅓ cup (90g) pure date syrup or pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp (20g) mesquite or lucuma
  • 4 tbsp. (100g) almond butter
  • 1 tsp. (5g) pure vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp. (30g) coconut cream

Crunchy Apple Cinnamon Layer:

  • 1  cup  (150g) raw pecans (or almonds)
  • ⅓ cup (75g) pitted dates
  • ½ cup (75g) dried apples,
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup (25g) shredded coconut

For Assembly:

About 3 Apples and 3 Pears sliced thinly with skins on (or just choose one type of fruit)
Cinnamon


Method:


Apple Cream:

1. Blend the first 5 ingredients until completely smooth. (TM – 10 sec / Speed 5)

2. Add the tahini/sunflower butter and oil. Blend again to incorporate. (TM – 10 sec / Speed 6)  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Caramel Sauce:


1. Add the almond butter, and vanilla to a small saucepan (or TM bowl if you are using one)

2. Whisk in water over a low heat until a smooth caramel consistency is achieved. (TM – 90C / 5 minutes / Speed 2)

Crunchy Apple Cinnamon Layer

1. Place all ingredients and pulse until ingredients are chopped roughly and evenly.  (TM – Lock and Turbo 4 – 5 times x 1 sec. bursts)

2. Bake in a moderate oven until brown –  about 10- 15 mins.

3. Allow to cool slightly before you assemble your trifles.


Apples and Pear Layer:

Sprinkle cinnamon over your sliced fruit and steam lightly in a freezer bag placed in microwave for 2 mins – or if you prefer, use the stove-top – just don’t overcook the fruit. It needs to be al dente – firm to the bite. You could even leave the fruit raw but if you do I recommend slicing your apples and pears VERY thinly!

Assembly:

Layer the sliced fruit, apple cream, caramel sauce, and the Crunchy Apple Cinnamon Layer. Repeat layers until all ingredients are all used up. Finish with a sprinkling of toasted Walnuts or Pecans if desired. You can use a big trifle bowl as pictured above or in individual parfait glasses as above – use your imagination!

Enjoy!!

Parfait 2

Green Parfait

Mutts's Nuts Salad? Well, it IS according to Hubbie ;-)

Mutt's Nuts Salad

 

 

Home … And hungry!

On our way back into Melbourne we found some lovely lamb backstrap. Add only a few ingredients along with some of our favourite “mutt’s nuts” dressing (my hubbie gave it this name when I first started making it couple of years ago!) and you have a super simple and crazy delicious summer salad.

This Moroccan Lamb & Feta Salad is light, loaded with protein, free from gluten, sugar, and nuts and, thanks to the lime & chilli, an absolute delight to the senses!

Oh, and that so called “mutt’s nuts” (my husband is clearly chuffed that this name he has given his favourite salad dressing has actually become official!) is SO good that I recommend you make at least double the quantity so you to can have your next yummy salad on the table before you can say …

“There’s no place like home!”

 

Moroccan Lamb & Feta Salad

*Low Carb, Gluten-Free

 Serves 4 (…or in our case 2!!)

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  lamb backstraps (total weight will be about 500g)
  • 120g mixed salad leaves
  • 150g feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 55g (1/3 cup) pitted black olives, quartered (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves, to serve

Mutt’s Nuts Dressing: 😉

  • ¼ cup (65g) Whole Egg Mayonnaise (homemade is best! – For a richer dressing you can double this quantity and omit the yoghurt)
  • ¼ cup (65g) Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh continental parsley
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 small red birds eye chillies, deseeded, finely chopped

 

Method:

  1. Combine the oil, coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place the lamb in a shallow glass or ceramic dish and pour over the coriander mixture. Turn the lamb to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to develop the flavours.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or food processor. Cover with plastic wrap or in a jar and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  3. Preheat a barbecue or char-grill pan on high. Pat the lamb gently with paper towel to remove any excess oil. Cook on preheated grill for 4 minutes each side for medium-rare or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a warm plate, cover with foil and set aside for 10 minutes to rest.
  4. Place the salad leaves in a serving bowl. Add the feta and onion, (and olives if desired) and gently toss until just combined. Thinly slice the lamb across the grain and arrange on the salad. Using a small spoon splash a few dollops of the dressing over the salads and sprinkle with mint leaves to serve.
  5. Enjoy!!