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
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Add the broccoli, including the stems, and pour in stock.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and add seasoning and herbs
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Simmer for 15 minutes and stir in coconut milk
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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!

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fruit free muesli

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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

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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.

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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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ruby red grapefruit, smoked salmon and roquette

This fresh, summery salad is ridiculously quick and easy. Inspired by a love of Japanese food, it’s perfect as a delicate little entree, a light lunch or for all those ‘I-can’t-be-bothered-cooking’ dinners. In fact, I couldn’t even be bothered crushing the cashews on this particular occasion. Reckless or just plain lazy? Who cares! Less chat. More salad tossing.

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  • 300g smoked sliced salmon
  • 2 ruby red grapefruits
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 150g mizuna (a Japanese mustard leaf) or roquette
  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews, chopped coarsely

Optional additions…

  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly (frucmal friends – I left this one off!)
  • 3-4 tsp capers

Pop four slices of salmon aside and slice the rest into thick pieces.

Segment the grapefruit over a large bowl and slice along the spine of each to remove any pips and release some of the juice. Add oil, mustard, mizuna or roquette, nuts and salmon slices. Mix gently.

Divide salad among serving plates and top with the remaining salmon. Serves four.

Note…I’ve used a couple of generous handfuls of roquette here as mizuna was nowhere to be found at the time I happened to pop to the shops. It has a similar bold, bitter mustardy character so the two are easily interchangeable.

mike’s rice pudding

After a Thai-inspired dinner party I was left with an obscene amount of leftover rice. What is it about rice that makes it so tricky? It’s either burnt or gluggy, the wrong grain or too much grain! As it was I miscalculated my measurements and ended up with mountains of the stuff clogging up my fridge. But with a little trip down memory lane, I managed to find a very tasty way to start my day with an old favourite. My Dad used to cook us up this soul food for supper when we were kids. While this has a bit of an alternative spin on his recipe, I’m sure it would do him proud.

  • 1 cup cooked medium-long grain rice
  • knob of butter (use Coconut Oil or Nuttelex for a dairy-free alternative)
  • Tsp ground cinnamon
  • Tsp vanilla extract
  • Soy or almond milk to cover (or other milk alternative)

Optional additions…

  • Tblsp Linseed, Sesame and Almond meal (LSA)
  • Tblsp coconut flakes

In a small saucepan, melt the butter/oil. Add the cooked rice and stir through for 30 seconds. Sprinkle cinnamon over and stir through vanilla extract. Finally, add enough milk to cover the rice and simmer until the rice starts to soak it up. It will continue to thicken slightly on standing so make sure you take it off the stove with some liquid.

Serve immediately with another sprinkle of cinnamon. Some chopped banana on top might be a welcome addition too.

Serves 1.

Try this! Swap the rice for white quinoa and add some chia seeds or psyllium husks (one tablespoon should do the trick). Chia seeds and psyllium tend to soak up any liquid they can find. Chia then tends to bind together while psyllium becomes gel-like – both or either would help bind the quinoa together to create that ‘pudding’ consistency.

two sweet nut balls

spirulina & sesame balls

Ok, before you run away – don’t freak out at the colour of these. I promise they won’t burst into tiny green alien goop balls in your stomach. Spirulina is a rich vegetable protein and high in vitamins which make it a great addition to any diet, though particularly for vegetarians, and (look out: fun fact ahead…) is apparently used by NASA as astronaut food! So as that dark green cloud settles over the rest of your ingredients (and down your front, and on the bench, and under your nails) just remember, you’re entering a space age where everything radiates a little brighter and a little stronger. This is the new norm.

  • 1 tblsp spirulina powder
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup mixed raw nuts, crushed
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds or linseeds
  • 1/2 jar or 7 tblsp almond or cashew spread/paste
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp stevia granules
  • extra sesame seeds for coating

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coconut & almond balls

While they look less like alien fodder, these little balls of bliss could be described as ‘out of this world’. Proof: I took a full batch of these to work and between six, these little beauties were devoured. So make sure you cover all your bases and leave some extras at home in the fridge because once you offer these up over morning tea, trust me on this – you’re going home empty handed.

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup mixed raw nuts, crushed
  • 1/2 jar or 7 tblsp almond or cashew spread/paste
  • 3 tblsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp stevia granules
  • extra sesame seeds or crushed nuts for coating

Alternatives and additional extras (measurements may vary to taste/consistency):

  • 1/4 cup psyllium husks
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs or cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • 1 tblsp rice malt syrup (instead of stevia)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until combined. Set aside a small dish containing the extra crushed nuts or sesame seeds.

Roll a tablespoonful of the mixture into a ball in the palm of your hands. Roll each ball in the dish of nuts or sesame seeds until they are covered all over.

Place the balls on a tray or plate lined with grease proof paper. Keep refrigerated so that they stay firm, but perhaps pull them out half an hour before you serve them up so that they soften slightly before everyone pounces.

Makes 14-16.

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