Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chocolate Yum Balls ( raw foods "rumballs")

Its been a while since I posted a recipe. I've been on a juicing detox for a few weeks, and have begun integrating raw foods a week ago. I have satisfied my chocolate urges with my raw choc mousse, but have wanted something 'else'. 

I am not able to find cocoa butter, so can't make my choc fudge. Here is a pretty good second best - my Yum Balls.. I n Australia ( and I am sure in a few other places) Christmas time isn't 'right' without rum balls - a very sugary rum soaked chocolate ball.  This is my version - no sugar or gluten.. pretty much guilt free.

I made a dozen - which will be gone quickly with my two around. I keep them in the fridge - but if you keep them in the freezer its better ( hidden!!) All nuts etc are raw ( obviously) I put everything in the same bowl to soak overnight.

1 good handful of almonds
1 good handful of cashews 
6 large dates

put together into a bowl and cover with filtered water overnight.

Pour a little water out in the morning and put rest in high powered blender.
Blend till smooth
add 4 teaspoons of cocoa and blend - adding a little water if needed to keep consistency.
mix in 4 tsp of coconut

Take a spoon of mixture and roll in coconut and place on greaseproof paper and pop into fridge to 'set'.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Smoothies. Are they as healthy as you think?

On-the-go-lives demand convenient, portable fuel which are equally palatable for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as in-between snacks.  With the increase of lifestyle related diseases, the concerned element of our population has been seeking healthier choices and eating styles for some time. Our fast track existence has forced many people into convenience foods; low in nutrition and high in calories and additives.  Despite knowing the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet, for a high percentage of Westerners, the closest they get to the food pyramid are fries.  Many families despair about consuming fresh produce as taste buds are unaccustomed to the often unwelcome sensations of having to chew through the amounts required for a healthy balance.  A popular way to ensure consumption of a good quantity of fresh produce is to process it into a drink; most often called a smoothie.

Although touted a recently invented food mixture, smoothies - in some form or another - have been in existence for hundreds of years. Fruit and ice/ice cream/milk/sorbet/yoghurt blended combinations feature in most cultures.  But are they as healthy as they make themselves out to be?  It all depends upon the ingredients.

Smoothies generally contain fruit, dairy and combine other health giving ingredients, however, most highstreet chain stores also add scoopfuls of sugar, full-fat milk and ice cream.  Commercially prepared smoothies can be loaded with fresh fruit, vitamins, minerals, fibres, active cultures, immune-system boosters and in many cases, protein powders, however the more popular dessert-style smoothies contain added sweeteners, milk, ice cream or yogurt; which present their own health challenge.

Its easy to assume that smoothies are the perfect healthy choice for a snack or meal.  The most common method of making a smoothie involves blending fresh fruit and a few generous dollops of milk or yoghurt, processing it to think it with a little ice or fruit juice. The main health concerns focuses on the high fats and sugar content within this mixture. Most smoothies are made from commercially available sweetened fruit juice, sugar loaded frozen yogurts, honey and bananas. Commercially available smoothies are often made of concentrate fruit juices which are pasteurised (therefore losing the benefits of the raw fruits), not to mention being very expensive. Fats are derived from those creamy yoghurts and milk generously added as you blend. Many of us try to cut out the dairy to save on the calories, but we end up cheating ourselves out of an important protein fix which normally keeps the body satisfied over the next few hours and through to the next meal.

Unfortunately, what you may have believed was a diet conscious meal replacement turns out to be anything but. While commercially prepared smoothies vary in calories, ingredients and nutritional value, with a little effort, most people can easily make healthier versions at home.  Its not always possible to make them at home, so perhaps the safer choices when purchasing from commercially available sources would be those based on soy, rice, or nut milk; or be pure blended fruit and vegetable juices.  Certainly when making smoothies at home, try to source fresh or organic produce, alternating between nut or soy milks and dairy.

Smoothies are easy to make and recipes are very flexible, catering for the fussiest diet.

  1. Have frozen fruit chunks on hand so you have a variety to choose from. Smoothies get boring if you use the same ingredients all of the time. Use a variety of fruit which has been cut up into chunks and frozen in small bags or icecube trays. Great fruit to have on hand include mangos, rockmelon, peaches, plums, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, and apricots, blueberries and raspberries. Our family have frozen bananas as a stock standard as they give a smoothie a creamy luxurious constancy. An added bonus is that frozen fruit helps your smoothies stay thick and ice cold on those hot days.
  2. Add some 'staying power'.  A pure fruit based smoothie, whilst tasty, has a limited staying power and you will find you are hungry within an hour of consuming it.  There is a variety of protein powders commercially available utilised by body builders and gym enthusiasts. Whey protein contains all the essential amino acids. You may choose to use milk or yogurt or try a nut milk as a non-dairy alternative. Nut milks are a good source of protein on their own.
  3. Try a different and delicious thinner. Some people like a thinner consistency of smoothie and pour in sugar laded and processed fruit juices. As an alternative, experiment with coconut water (not cream), which is rich in potassium and electrolytes. You can buy coconut water prepackaged - or source it from young coconuts. Once you use the water from a young coconut, scrape out the jelly like insides and use this as a base for your next smoothie.. Although bananas are the most common base to smoothies as they add sweetness, a creamy thickness and important nutrients, some people have allergies or simply do not like the taste. As great as they are, bananas are high in natural sugars. If you are still looking for that thick creamy consistency, experiment by using half a ripe avocado (really!) They are packed with potassium, vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre and though high in fats, its the type that lowers your cholesterol.
  4. Give them a boost. Similar to the chainstores who add in a variety of powers for an exorbitant price, experiment with health food options such as chlorella, spirulina, acai, goji berries which give your smoothies extraordinary antioxidant content and other nutritional benefits. Hemp protein powder is a great way to add protein, healthy omega 3 fats and fibre to your smoothie.
  5. Cut back on the sweet stuff.  A smoothies downfall is the sweeteners many of us add. Experiment with an organic agave syrup, which looks like honey but is slightly sweeter and it has has a lower glycemic index load. You need much less agave than honey to gain the same sweetness.  Experiment with stevia and organic maple syrup. However if we are honest with each other - its best not to add the sweeteners in the first place.
  6. Experiment and switch ingredients to suit your taste and substitute your favourite beverage, fruit or vegetable. Once you have been converted to drinking an all fruit smoothie, you may be brave enough to progress to a 'green' smoothie which has the benefits of consuming green leafy vegetables without having to eat a salad. A good rule of thumb with these is 70% - 80% fruit to 30% - 20 % greens ( baby spinach, silverbeat, chinese greens, lettuce) - adjusting these as you get used to the taste and the amazing colour.

The secret to a healthy smoothie recipe is knowing which ingredients to use - and which to avoid. A good rule of thumb is to use 2 - 3 fruits to avoid an overly fussy smoothie. Too many ingredients confuses the tastebuds and it generally ends up a muddy goopy colour and consistency. Healthy smoothies, made from fresh ingredients are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, ensuring an abundant, long-lasting supply of energy for the day.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Some steps into healthier living... and raw foods

Do you have family members who are hesitant to eat anything other than things which are deep fried, smothered in cheese or butter, or sugar-coated? Do you despair that they will ever consume something healthy on a regular basis? Sadly, most people equate eating healthier with meals of "rabbit food" and huge bowls of fiber or tasteless stodgy lumps of nameless food types. With some imagination, encouragement and tenacity, its possible to guide your loved ones towards healthy living and natural foods without the stress of nagging, threats and fighting at dinner time.

Arguably, should you ask anyone what they aught to be eating to be healthy – they are likely to include “green leafy vegetables” or “fresh fruits” as one of the top recommendations. However, most of us fail to eat even one type per day. Trying to ensure your family eat them can prove frustrating; especially if they are one of those people who don’t naturally enjoy vegetables or a variety of fruit.

Try some of these suggestions to increase the living foods into your normal diet.

1. Always have fresh fruit and veggies available for a quick and easy snack; alternating them with tomato salsas or dips made from organic yoghurt, nuts or chick peas. Even if it is small, have a fruit bowl available with fresh and different offerings for the family to munch on at anytime they wish.
It takes a little more preparation, but if you have carrot and celery sticks already cut into bite size pieces, along with a nutritious nut dip, it allows your family to have the option of choose the healthy snack over a ready to eat convenience food in a packet. Other ready-to-be-popped-into-your-mouth snacks include cucumber, mini tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower flowerettes. To keep fresh, put them in small snap lock containers in the fridge - and in easy grasping range for hungry mouths.
One of the greatest downfalls for families or individuals attempting to eat a healthier diet, is the availability of good choices. No-one has the patience to wait for something to be washed and prepared if they are hungry NOW! Bypass this immediate need, by having things already prepared.

2. You may be the sort of person who needs to do something immedialty - or go col turkey. If so, grab your washing basket or a large box and systematically remove the items you feel do not support your new lifestyle. Unopened packets of crisps, biscuits, crackers and other processed or snack foods would be gratefully received by your local foodbank, women’s shelter or charity run hostel. If you don’t want to go to that extreme, put them in the highest shelf in the pantry, or seal it into a box and pop in the garage.
The main idea behind this strategy is that if the temptation is not there, then you won’t go down that path.

3. Every time you shop, purchase less of the types of food items which you eventually want to eliminate and replace them with other foods. My children love to indulge in a punnet of strawberries each instead of a chocolate bar or biscuits. The two items are around the same price, but one has so many health giving benefits, its difficult to pass them up. Include the whole family to decide which food items are the ‘worst’ and collectively rate them. Write a list of alternatives or better choices. Each week choose one or two of the most offending items to eliminate as a strategy to getting rid of all the junk choices entirely.

4. Introduce fruit into your diet through desserts or by having entire dessert meals. (it seems so decadent to just eat dessert for a meal doesn't it?)
  • Fresh fruit smoothies poured into ice cube trays or popsicles make great summer desserts - even better if you layer them as you freeze them.
  • Freeze bananas on a popsicle stick. They taste super creamy straight out of the freezer. Dip them in chocolate sauce, coconut, crushed nuts or honey as an extra treat.
  • try exotic fruits in fruit salads - or have it ready in the fridge along with organic yoghurts for a quick snack or wizz up for a smoothie.
  • Threat cubed fruits onto sticks and dip into nut creams
  • Alternate fruit based smoothies boosted with chia seeds or macca powder for processed cereals over the week. Within a fortnight, you should find that the days started on a fruit smoothie, has in fact run smoother; with less junk food cravings.
  • Swap the fats you use in your current diet for ‘better’ ones by adding raw nuts ( cashews, almonds, macadamias) and avocados into your salads. The bodys normal cravings for fatty foods decrease if it is satisfied by a better quality fat.
Pursuing a healthier lifestyle through food choices can only succeed if everyone involved is included in the decision making. If everyone is assisting with choosing recipes and types of foods, they are more likely to try it when it its served.

The key to a healthier eating style which becomes ingrained into your lifestyle is not to force it too quickly. Introduce one idea or food every week, allowing a less healthy choice to slip out of the pantry. Its not only making the healthy choices more convenient for your family to take up, but also making the poorer choices LESS convenient.

The wider variety of fresh foods your family try, the easier it will get including a higher percentage in your ‘normal’ diet. Tastes and long time habits can change; its just a hard long road to alter ingrained beliefs. However, if you have a strong enough belief in what you are doing and have patience, it can be done.