Spiced Citrus Quinoa Porridge

20140419-212754.jpg

A fast blog is a good blog when it comes to recipes, right? All you really want to know is what you need and how to make it. Simple. Just like this little belly-warmer…

So let’s go!

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 orange, rind and flesh
  • 3cm knob ginger, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • almond flakes
  • rice malt syrup/ maple syrup
  • banana – or berries if you prefer (to serve)
  • soy milk (optional)

Bring quinoa to the boil and then add cloves, ginger and orange rind. Simmer until quinoa has absorbed all of the water.

Remove the cloves and orange rind. Dice the orange and stir through the quinoa.

Serve hot topped with cinnamon, almond flakes, banana, and a drizzle of rice malt syrup.

 

Try this…

Pre-cook the quinoa the night before so that it’s ready for you when you rise, bleary-eyed for that early morning class or off to work.

Play around with substituting part of the water for orange juice.

Just Juice Part 2: the truth about wine (and fructose)

I am a little behind in my posts this weekend so I thought I’d take it to the opposite extreme and give you all a two-parter.

I’ve been following Sarah Wilson for a few years now. Originally from Australia, she is currently in the US promoting her I Quit Sugar program. I have found her recipes and blog posts generally to be extremely helpful for my own journey with food. Much of her program centres around cutting fructose out of our diets, which – as you may or may not be aware – is right up my alley.

As I experimented with my diet, I became acutely aware of the patterns around my metabolism, different foods affected me in a variety of ways when I excluded or included different things. But one of the most dramatic – and immediate – changes that occurred when I cut sugar out of my diet was my tolerance for alcohol. Sure, there is argument for the fact that our metabolism slows with age, but at the time I was in my late twenties and for someone who spent their evenings on a stage and then socialising with cast members and friends in that timeless haze of post-show splendour, it was a game-changer. Suddenly the bottle became two glasses – any more than that and I would be heading into black outs and raging hangovers. Not only did I have no recollection of my night – and therefore my life – but I was brain dead and depressed for days afterwards. But worse still, it was almost as though I slipped into an alternate world. I thought I was superhuman, I thought I was invincible. I could talk to anyone, eat everything, go anywhere, be anyone. I could fly. But I wouldn’t remember it. I just knew it felt good at the time. And I never wanted it to end.

‘There is a definite moment. One minute you are there and then the next your eyes glaze over and you’re gone. It’s like you check out. One minute you are Erin, the person that I love and want to spend time with, and the next you scare me.  There’s no getting through to you. You are stubborn and completely unaware of where you are at, what you are capable of. And the truth is, you can barely stand up.’

This is what one of my closest friends very bravely said to me after a night out for a thirtieth birthday dinner. Reality check #1.

Then I ran my Nissan NX – a gift from my uber-generous auntie and uncle who simply ‘never drove’ it – into oncoming traffic after an afternoon at the race track. Not just any oncoming traffic – a BMW. Just in case I didn’t get the message.

The spring racing carnival is big in Melbourne. You get frocked up, slap on a truckload of sunscreen, cake on your make up, stomp around in high heels that inevitably sink into the soft grass, bet on horses and drink. What you don’t do is drive home. But apparently I do. Because I’m invincible. Because I’ve done it a thousand times before. Because I am different – I am a fucking hero.

To this day I don’t remember a thing. But I saw the fallout: I know there was an ambulance, I remember the hospital, the neck brace, I remember the moment my heart fell to pieces – through the alcoholic haze – when all four of my siblings walked into the emergency room, I’ll never forget my eldest brother, Ben, sitting with me all through the night, despite my father’s comments that ‘she’ll be alright’ (no disrespect Dad, it would have been difficult to sit with).

And then I remember the bald patch on my forehead where I shaved off my hair on the windscreen, I remember the therapy sessions, the astronomical repair bills (for that BMW I so cleverly targeted, not my NX – she didn’t make it, she was – luckily, I suppose – the one fatality of the day), the court case – my girlfriend, Mel standing strong and steady beside me, the loss of license, the fear, the sobering…

I remember the carnage in my heart.

And then I remember the awakening. The emergence and exploration of that question that has been burning ever since: Who Am I?

At this point, can I just say – I had no idea this was where this post would go. I wanted to talk about wine and whether or not I can drink it as a fructose-free girl. I guess my truth about wine and how I drink these days is a very different story. But let me finish with this ode to Sarah Wilson, who posted this on her I Quit Sugar website just a couple of days ago. Because I am still exploring. I am still questioning. Because, my story continues…

 

One of our most popular pages on the I Quit Sugar website is Can I drink wine?

Many people are surprised to find that wine contains minimal amounts of fructose and is okay to drink in moderation while quitting sugar. For info on sugar in other alcoholic beverages click here.

Our community editor was in Adelaide recently and caught up with Rosemount Estate chief winemaker, Matt Koch, to get to the bottom of why wine in moderation won’t affect your sugar-quitting mission.

Five questions with Rosemount Estate:

How much residual sugar is there in a glass of wine?
If the wine has been fermented to ‘dry’ (white or red) it contains very low levels of residual sugar – less than 1g/litre – and in most cases not at a level that can be practically tested.
What happens to the fructose in the grapes?
Fructose is one of the main sugars contained in grapes. This is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeasts, which is why at the end of the fermentation process there are minimal levels of fructose remaining.
Which wine has less sugar: Red or white?
Generally, high priced, high quality wines are produced as dry wines and contain less than 1g/litre of residual sugar. Commercial dry white and red wines, i.e. wines selling under $10 a bottle, generally contain 3-10g/litre of residual sugar, with white wines containing higher sugar levels than red wines (on average).
What about dessert wines and wines that are sweeter on the palate?
Dessert wines and sweeter wines contain both fructose and glucose – the levels vary depending on the ripeness of the fruit and the variety of grape. They’ve either been fermented for a shorter period of time so that plenty of sugar still remains, or additional sugar is added to the wine after fermentation.
Are there particular grapes that are better suited for people steering clear of sugar?
People who want to avoid sugars completely should select dry (i.e unsweetened red or white wines) and they would be advised to look at the more premium end of the wine categories. Always ask the experts. If you’re at a restaurant ask to speak to the sommelier and if you’re choosing a bottle from your local bottle shop the staff should be able to point you in the right direction.

Note: Although this is good news regarding the fructose levels in wine, remember it’s still alcohol. There are a multitude of metabolic and health issues that come with excessive consumption.

 

Just Juice Part 1: hold the fructose!

It’s been a while since I posted anything food related. Many of you who are new to my blog (by the way, welcome!) may have mistaken me for a flash fiction writer. I’m not-so-secretly very happy if that is the case. However, I thought I’d take a breather from that today as it’s quite an intense process – particularly when you’re not used to producing new work every day. The A to Z Challenge has truly been just that – a challenge! – but a wonderful one at that.

Truth be told, I originally started this blog as a means of exploring and recording my journey with food. If you’ve happened to take a little trip around ‘an immovable feast’ you may have stumbled upon my fructose malabsorption info. I’ve been meaning to do a post about juicing for a while. In the fructose-free world, juices are almost unheard of. Go to any juice bar and you’ll find most of the base ingredients that provide the all-important sweetness – and let’s face it, the part that makes them taste good! – are loaded with high amounts of fructose (apples, honey…). Which is totally fine, if you don’t suffer the consequences later! But these can be simply taken out or substituted for other options (like kiwi fruit, rice malt syrup…)

If I’m blatantly honest…I also am fairly useless at actually juicing at home. I keep vowing to get into it and yet, come breakfast time, always end up opting for the peanut-butter-on-toast option. But then, I could eat peanut butter any time of day. Which is actually counter-productive as peanuts have the highest fructose content of all the nuts! I blame my low blood sugar – it craves the salt.

I’m a bad yogi. And loving it.

Enough! Onto the juice recipes!

So as you can see, you may get around to trying these out before I do, and if so – let me know how you go! I workshopped these ideas with a lovely nutritionist from the Retreat Cafe at The Power Yoga Company. If you’re a Londoner, I highly recommend you get yourself along to this quirky little oasis. You don’t even need to do a yoga class – just plan a breakfast date! You’ll notice I haven’t included measurements as with juicing, it’s all down to personal preference. As a general rule, the ingredients are in order from ‘more of this’ to ‘less of that’. So play around and see what works for your taste buds.

Retreat
beetroot
carrot
apple *
ginger
Lumi Lounge
cucumber
celery
apple *
lemon
ginger
Coco-Nana
coconut water
banana
spinach
1/2 cucumber
kiwi fruit
Green Monkey
almond milk
banana
spinach
chlorella/ spirulina
My favourite… (this one I actually make religiously…)
soy milk (or regular, if you prefer)
banana
cinnamon
vanilla extract
chia seeds
spirulina

*omit for fructose free option

So that should get you started! One of these days, I’ll get on to that too..

20140411-080846.jpgLumi Lounge at Lumi Power Yoga

 

going green broccoli soup

Ok, so it’s been a while since I submitted a post and for that I am sorry – mostly to myself, but also to anyone who might have been following me. I did that life-upheaval thing and dropped my job, my home and my life in Australia and moved across the other side of the world to London. But there’s a happy ending to this particular story – I did it all in pursuit of love. More specifically, my love of acting and the pursuit of a career; and the whirlwind love of a crazy Irishman who happened to be setting sail back home. And so here I am in the theatrical homeland with a warm heart.

But this is where the warm and fuzzy ends and the war on winter begins… Now, I was warned about the cold and the rain and the grey, grey skies, but the realisation of what that actually means is only just setting in to this little Aussie. As someone with bad circulation, a weak immune system, and a general preference for sunshine and warm weather, I’m on the lookout for some extra strength winter warmers this year. The mittens, the coats, the scarves, the beanies, the stockings under the socks, the triple-topped, double-jumpered partridge in a pear tree act just ain’t gonna cut it.

And so my first plan of attack is possibly a predictable move – but a good one, nonetheless. Enter my favourite immune-boosting, creamy, Going Green soup.

  • 2 broccoli heads and stems roughly chopped
  • 2 tblsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped (or 1 tsp of crushed)
  • 1 tsp lemongrass, crushed
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely (optional)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 handful fresh mint or coriander
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (optional)
  • handful of slithered almonds to garnish (optional)

In a large heavy bottom saucepan heat coconut oil and add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli (if using) for about a minute. Then add the celery and cook through
.
Add the broccoli, including the stems, and pour in stock.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and add seasoning and herbs
.

Simmer for 15 minutes and stir in coconut milk
.

Place in blender or blitz with a stick and blend together until smooth. I like to leave mine a little chunky as a little reminder of all the goodness I’m eating.

Garnish with slithered almonds and enjoy!

Alternatives and options…

I often mix things up by substituting a broccoli head for a range of different green vegetables. For this particular brew I threw in kale, spinach, zucchini…the list is endless!

I also don’t always have lemongrass or ginger on hand. These are interchangeable or alternatively easily left out, but they add a little extra zing and goodness that I, for one, can’t go passed. Chilli is another of those ingredients that you can take or leave, but again, I say the hot and spicier, the better!

20131201-114036.jpg

fruit free muesli

20130405-225742.jpg

For a long time, one of my favourite things to eat on a cold Melbourne morning used to be a big bowl of hot toasted muesli. In fact, it used to be one of my favourite things to eat as an afternoon delight too. However, since discovering all my tummy sensitivities, it’s now highly fraught with danger: gluten in bran and oats (I know, controversial), fructose in all that sweet dried fruit, fructose in the added fruit juice, added sugar, added this, added that…it’s a mine field (and a mind field)! And a sad state of affairs. How can something so simple be so bad for me? Unfortunately the majority of pre-packaged cereals – and the cereal aisle in a supermarket more generally – are the same.

Well, I walked in to work this week to find my colleague’s bag of muesli sitting on the kitchen bench. Now, it’s not often you see the words ‘Fructose Free’ on any kind of packaging, but Aussie Health Snax have done it – I soon found out after a quick google – on a number of cereal products. Brilliant! Go Aussies!

The only thing is…I’m a little bit of a Scrooge when it comes to this stuff. I get that the market is smaller for these companies trying to cater for people like me, and I understand that this has to be reflected in their prices. I really do. And for those who prefer the convenience of someone else sourcing the ingredients, having it made, packaged AND delivered to their door – I totally get that a lot of the time you would rather save the time (as opposed to the money).

I – on the other hand – get a lot of pleasure out of spending the time strolling around food aisles, designing and redesigning my recipe ideas, discovering alternatives and of course, playing with measurements, utensils and flavours back in the kitchen itself. And to be frank, at $9.95 for a 700g bag, I can spend $20 and end up with twice that in mixture PLUS ingredients left over to mix up a whole other batch once I’ve eaten my way through the first lot. But please, don’t get me wrong – their products look great, and to be fair, I drew my inspiration from one of their bestsellers, Organic Quinoa Blend of Fruit Free Muesli and couldn’t be bothered going the extra mile to include the quinoa on my first run so…each to their own. I’ll give it a go next time though…famous last words.

  • 2 cups puffed brown rice
  • 2 cups corn flakes
  • 1/4 cup natural almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup linseeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut, shredded
  • 1/4 cup LSA meal
  • 1/4 cup psyllium husks
  • 1 tblsp cinnamon, ground
  • vanilla concentrate extract (to serve)

Optional additions…
2 cups quinoa, cooked and toasted
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup cacao nibs

20130405-225732.jpg

I quite literally just dumped everything in a big bowl, stirred it through and poured in into an air right container for storage. I might even try drizzling with coconut oil and toasting the whole lot in the oven next time…as I said earlier, with some quinoa. The best thing about making your own muesli is there are no rules! Mix ‘n’ match, pick ‘n’ mix and for goodness sake – enjoy!

I topped this batch with some (fructose free) fruit – banana or berries – soy milk and a little drizzle of vanilla concentrate extract. Or go without the fruit – still tasty, hot or cold! And outrageously easy. If you can spare the time. You can definitely spare the money. Just beware the psyllium husks – and the chia seeds, if you include them – those babies are machines at soaking up liquid, so have your milk at the ready if you like your muesli moist and creamy. Dare I say, we’re heading into bircher territory. And I say: go there.

20130406-084939.jpg

egg and bacon muffins

All you ever wanted for breakfast in one neat little parcel! These are adapted from Sarah Wilson’s recipe – I’ve just used persian fetta because it’s the best – fetta in oil (so there’s no need to grease the muffin tray), marinated with thyme, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns. Brilliant.

These tasty protein pockets were a great favourite at the breakfast table on Easter morning. My folks are always looking for ways to use up the copious amount of eggs their chooks lay about the farm. While I always buy free range, nothing beats the bright yellow yolks and the creamy texture of freshly laid eggs. After I served the urban-version to their rumbling tummys, I get the feeling they’ll be taking a little bit of the city back to the country…

20130402-100113.jpg

20130402-100030.jpg

To make six muffins:

  • 4-6 rashers bacon
  • 6 eggs
  • Persian fetta
  • Chives, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the bacon so that it lines the edges of 6 muffin cups. Line the bottom with any any broken bits.
Crumble a teaspoon of fetta into each muffin cup and sprinkle with chives.

Crack one egg into each and gently poke a knife through the yoke so that it breaks ever so slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the egg is white and set. Remove from the oven an let sit for a minute or two.

Run a knife between to the bacon and the muffin tray to separate any bits that are stuck and then use a spoon to gently remove the muffins from the tray.

Serve with crusty bread, some avocado, and perhaps a little slice of lemon on the side. There’s really no need for any extra seasoning as the bacon provides enough salt and the fetta is infused with pepper. But pop it on the table for sheer aesthetics alone – and marvel at how no one even bats an eye.

Tastes like home…

20130402-101940.jpg

seafood and avocado salad

This fresh little beauty is adapted from Lee Holmes’ Supercharged Food. Her selection of tasty recipes and simple dressings make feeding the masses that much more joyful.

Regarding the health benefits of this salad, she writes:

An exceedingly good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, prawns also contain high levels of vitamin B12 – an important vitamin for those with digestive difficulties, as it is essential for making blood red blood cells and nerve cells. Prawns also contain immune system boosters such as zinc, phosphorus, potassium and selenium, as well as iron, calcium and magnesium.

Excellent. So with this – and Easter traditions – in mind, I went one step further with an all out seafood salad fiesta. This went to the table alongside my ruby red grapefruit, smoked salmon and roquette salad for Easter Sunday lunch in my attempts to nourish and impress my beloved family on their trip to Sydney for the long weekend. Dare I say, I think it worked… With a splash of pinot gris in our glasses, this proved to be a delightfully festive yet simple, light lunch with all the feel good factors – tasty and healthy – WIN!

  • 12 cos lettuce leaves
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber (or half a continental), thinly sliced
  • Half a punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 red onion (optional, or sliced so that it’s easy to dodge!)
  • 1 cup cooked prawns, shelled and cleaned
  • 1 cup cooked crab meat

Lemon & Garlic Dressing:

  • 125mls extra virgin olive oil
  • 125mls grape seed oil
  • 2 tblsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tblsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

(This dressing will keep in fridge for up to 5 days.)

20130401-154003.jpg

I bought my prawns and crabmeat from my local fish shop – shelled, cleaned, cooked and just asking to be tossed around with a bunch of greens. Too easy. Arrange the lettuce so that it lines a big salad bowl. Toss the rest of the ingredients in on top, leaving the seafood to sit on top. Drizzle with the dressing – you will only need about half of the mixture so pop the rest in the fridge ready for other salad concoctions – and serve.

Serves four.