cheesy roast pumpkin salad

When I discovered that coconut oil was in fact NOT bad for me, my arteries or my heart, my kitchen took on a whole new world. According to Dr Joseph Mercola’s article in the Huffington Post, not all saturated fats were created equal…

Back in the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price found South Pacific Islanders whose diets were high in coconut to be healthy and trim, despite high dietary fat, and heart disease was virtually non-existent. Similarly, in 1981, researchers studying two Polynesian communities for whom coconut was the primary caloric energy source found them to have excellent cardiovascular health and fitness.

Dr Mercola goes on to say that coconut oil is actually good for us and outlines a number of health benefits:

  1. Improving heart health
  2. Boosting thyroid function
  3. Increasing metabolism
  4. Promoting a lean body and weight loss if needed.
  5. Supporting the immune system
  6. Benefits the skin such as anti-aging and regenerative effects

There is plenty of people out there banging on about how great the coconut – oil, water, flesh…it’s all good! But my favourite part is the way the intoxicating sweet smell washes over the house when I cook with it. And I haven’t even begun to start in on the flavour. Needless to say, I use it as my one-stop shop for cooking with oils. Extra-virgin olive oil would be the other main one I use and other times a splash of sesame oil for particular dishes, but as a rule, I heart the coconut. And when it comes to the sweetness of a vegetable like pumpkin, these two were made for each other.

  • 1/4 pumpkin, chopped into big chunks
  • 1 tblsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Nutritional yeast flakes
  • Linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds to serve
  • Mixed lettuce to serve

Other optional additions that go amazingly with pumpkin..

  • blue cheese, crumbled over the top
  • walnuts, crushed

Chop the pumpkin into big chunky pieces and steam until it softens slightly. If you have time, you don’t need to steam at all, simply pop the pieces in the oven, drizzled with coconut oil to bake until golden brown.

Alternatively, in a deep frying pan heat the oil and add the garlic and ginger. Once it is hot, add the par-steamed pumpkin, turning in the oil until golden brown.

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Sprinkle the pumpkin with nutmeg and toss in the oil again briefly.

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Remove from the heat, serve on a bed of your choice of lettuce leaves or greens.

Sprinkle with nutritional yeast flakes for a dairy-free cheesy flavour.

Add any seeds you like and serve!

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chocolate fudge brownie

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Everyone loves a chocolate brownie. These little crowd pleasers were subject to heckling in the baking of them. Housemates were crying out in revolt, “Can you stop with the chocolate smells, please?!” My gym-geared gal pal hollered, “You’re killing me in here!”

I tried to ease their pain and get rid of the evidence by licking the spoon…the bowl…and the bench. But now, as I sit here waiting to pull my little slice of chocolate heaven out of the oven, we’re all helpless to its charms. We’re salivating like hounds, scratching at the oven door…

They will be mine. Oh yes…they will be mine…

  • 225g butter (I used Nuttelex for a dairy free option, plopped straight into the saucepan), chopped coarsely (or 150g butter + 1/2 cup or 120g sour cream)
  • 300g dark eating chocolate (I used 80% cocoa dark Lindt blocks), broken into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar or 200g caster sugar if you prefer
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup (150g) hazelnut or almond meal
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees C fan-forced).

Melt the chocolate and the butter in a medium sized saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar and vanilla essence and take off the heat to cool for about 10 minutes.

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While you wait, beat the eggs, crush the walnuts, sift the cocoa and line a slice pan approx 19cm x 29cm with baking paper.

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Stir through the eggs, flour, cocoa and walnuts. Turn the mixture into the lined pan and spread evenly.

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Bake brownies for 35-45 minutes, depending on your preferred gooey rating. At 35 minutes, they will be firm on top, but still squidgy underneath. At 45 minutes, they should be more solid throughout.

Cool in the pan before cutting into squares. Serve dusted with cocoa or icing sugar…if you can bear to wait that long…

quinoa tabbouleh

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This gluten-free (and guilt free!) alternative to the much loved traditional Greek dish is just as moreish as the couscous version. The fragrant, fresh herbs are such a wonderful assault on the senses in preparation. The quantities here made enough as an accompaniment at a dinner party or a weeks worth of lunches for one! I even went so far as to exclude the oil…and if you’re so inclined, give it a try.

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  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked (see notes)
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 3 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, chopped finely (frucmal friends take note: only the dark green part!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

To prepare the quinoa, place 1 cup (200g) uncooked and 600ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and leave to cool.

Place the quinoa in a bowl.

Half the tomatoes and scoop the pulp from the tomato over the quinoa.

Chop the tomato flesh finely and spread over quinoa. Refrigerate for an hour.

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Combine the quinoa and tomato mixture in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container for later. Too easy!

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