Gluten-free

Fragrant Hasselback Potatoes // Recipe ReDux March 2018

Fragrant Hasselback Potatoes // Recipe ReDux March 2018

My twist on the regular old baked potatoes. This Hasselback potato recipe is delicious, filled with the tastes and aromas of fragrant fresh herbs. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, it's the perfect addition to any Sunday lunch or weekend braai.

Bright Beetroot & Red Cabbage Kraut // Recipe ReDux January 2018

Bright Beetroot & Red Cabbage Kraut // Recipe ReDux January 2018

Making your own fermented foods at home can seem a bit daunting, but it's really a piece of cake! This bright beetroot & red cabbage kraut is a pretty good place to start if you'd like to try your hand at DIY fermentation. Give your gut a boost with this vibrant probiotic condiment, a perfect addition to pretty much any dish!

#gamechangers // Wooden Spoon Kitchen

Although I have been following her Instagram page since about January this year, Ankie from Wooden Spoon Kitchen and I first met in person in July when she decided to attend my gut health workshop (read more about that here). Since then it has been great to get to know her a bit better and learn more about her 'third child', Wooden Spoon Kitchen, which aims to inspire others through enjoying real food and healthy cooking. Her blog is filled with beautiful food photography and some mouthwatering recipes that anyone can master. One of my favourites is this recipe for this Pear and Rosemary French Toast, the perfect breakfast recipe for a slow Sunday morning :) I am so excited to feature her here in this #gamechangers post, and for each of you to get to know her a bit better.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do.

I am a wife and mother of two (three) if you count Wooden Spoon Kitchen as one of my babies. I love cooking, sharing food knowledge and cooking skills. I am a creative soul and love the creative side of my business being a cooking teacher but also to play with food, props and designs gives me immense satisfaction.

 

What is your favourite thing about teaching others to cook?

I get to inspire and transfer life skills. It really is amazing to see how people grow in confidence once they realise it is not that hard to cook.

 

When and why did you start your Instagram page and blog?

I knew my social media was not great two years ago and had great aspirations for my business so I attended the Pink party workshop by Anzel van Biljon. It was all about branding and social media and gave me a great kick-start to get my branding sorted. I started my Instagram account last year March and my Facebook account in 2014. Social media is your greatest tool to network and get your name out there. It is hard work and I don’t always get it right but it has connected me to so many interesting people and companies. It is a source of inspiration for me every day.

 

What is Wooden Spoon kitchen all about?

Wooden Spoon Kitchen is firstly a cooking school for young and old where we cook with real food. Here we learn to make every day healthy food and the occasional special recipes. It is for people who love to cook but also for the ones who can’t and won’t cook. I am a keen food stylist and recipe developer and find it very useful for my blog and social media. I also offer real food parties for children and I am very excited about my first supper club running in October where we will be cooking and eating together and introducing some special food brands every month. But overall I just really love to cook and share my passion for food.

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What started you on your personal journey with food, health, and nutrition?

I have always known that food is important to keep you healthy I just did not realise how important. I struggle with a very rare disease called Achalasia, basically the muscle of my lower oesophageal sphincter prevents relaxation and peristalsis. I had an operation 10 years ago but it is not something that can really ever be healed. I also recently learned that it is an auto-immune disease and you can easily develop more than one auto-immune disease. So I am trying my best to take care of my health through nutrition and good healthy habits.

It is very ironic that the person, who loves to cook and eat, can’t always eat because my food gets stuck. When I used to be a Home Economics teacher I realised that there is a great need amongst children to learn cooking skills and develop healthy eating habits and I love being able to share my knowledge.

 

What resources have been valuable as you have learned more about cooking, and healthy eating and nutrition?

I have a good understanding of nutrition from my studies, but a lot more research has been done since then. I attended a twelve-week nutrition course hosted by Ian Graig from The Nutritional Institute (http://www.thenutritionalinstitute.com/) that has given me a much better understanding of nutrition and our relationship with food. I also get a lot of recipe ideas from social media and the internet. I just love Pinterest and my favourite bloggers and food personalities include the Hemsley and Hemsley sisters, Deliciously Ella and Jamie Oliver.

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What are some of your favourite Proudly South African food products and companies?

Munching mongoose, Faithful to nature, Yuppiechef and Wazoogles. The list really is endless.

 

What are your top tips for staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally?

I try to sleep at least 7-8 hours every night, otherwise I get really cranky and emotional. I also try to exercise at least three times per week. I don’t go to the gym but rather go for a run or do some interval training at home. It really makes such a difference to my emotional state if I exercise regularly. I also love to spend time with friends and family and feeding everyone that makes me really happy. I also drink a lot of water and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables every day. But I try not to be too hard on myself because every day is different and we have so many demands so not every day is a perfect ‘healthy’ day.

 

What is your favourite go-to meal after a busy day?

Avo-toast with egg and chilli flakes is always a good meal.

 

What is your all-time favourite special treat?

I love croissants from a good baker.

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I hope that you all enjoyed that Q&A. I absolutely love learning a bit more about #gamechangers like Ankie, who really have such an amazing role to play in encouraging others to cook food from scratch, learn to love wholesome ingredients, and inspire us through beautiful photography and innovative recipes. Ankie has been kind enough to share this delicious recipe for her very own nutty bars with us. I hope that you enjoy them! But before I share, be sure to follow her:


Recipe

Nutty Bars

Yields: 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of mixed nuts (pecan, almond, cashews, macadamia)
  • 1/2 cup flaxseeds
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 150g dates (+ water to boil)
  • 2 tbs raw Honey
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 Tbsp any nut butter

Method

  1. Place nuts, seeds and coconut in a baking tin and roast for 10 minutes at 180˚C. Check the nuts and turn them often until they are golden brown.
  2. Place dates in a small pot with 500 ml water and boil for 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Pulse the nuts and seeds in a food processor into smaller chunks. Make sure all nuts are broken into smaller pieces, but are not completely broken down.
  4. Drain water from dates and blend in food processor until a smooth paste forms.
  5. Add cinnamon, vanilla, honey and nut butter. Process again.
  6. Add the sticky date mixture to the nuts, coconut and seeds. Stir and then mix with your hands until you have a sticky, cohesive mixture.
  7. Press into a 29cm x 19cm tin. The tin size will depend on how thick you want bars.
  8. Place in fridge for at least 3-4 hours. When ready, cut in bars or squares. Store in fridge

One-pan Roasted Vegetable Bowl // Recipe Redux September 2017

It's Recipe Redux time (again)!

It's that time of the month again ladies and gentlemen, the September Recipe ReDux post is here! The theme for September is simple sheet-pan meals that can be whipped up without too much effort (and with minimal dishes to wash).

We love throwing ingredients together on a sheet pan and roasting for a simple sheet pan dinner. They make busy weeknights a bit more manageable (and clean-up isn’t bad either!). Show us your healthy take on a sheet pan meal.
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Before I jump into my tips for preparing quick, easy dinners and share my recipe with all of you, I thought I'd give you all a quick update on what has been happening here over the past few weeks whilst the blog has been so quiet. As you all know, my husband and I have been preparing for a BIG move to a new country over the past couple of months. As I have already mentioned here before, when this opportunity presented itself to us we spent a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons to try and figure out if it was the right path for us to travel down before we decided to jump in and grab it with both hands. Over the past month, we have had to finalise things like visas, accommodation, my husband's job, and the list goes on...

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We are so amazed at how things have worked out and are expectant for the adventure that lies ahead of us in this new season. Since arriving here on Monday we have enjoyed a couple of great runs in Hyde Park, taken the train to Eton, and visited the University of Surrey where I will be studying over the next year. I am so excited to get to know this part of the world a bit better, and meet new people along the way. Although the chilly weather is going to take some getting used to, it is a wonderful place :)

It seems quite fitting that this month's theme revolves around quick & easy one-pan meals, which are so needed when one is pushed for time and/or space in the kitchen. I thought that I would share a couple of tips for preparing quick and easy dinners on days where you are too busy to stop and take a breath. These tips have definitely been useful for me!

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5 Tips for Quick & Easy Dinners

1. Cook foods with other meals in mind

Cook grains in bigger batches than you would normally eat in just one meal, and use in meals throughout the week. Cooked grains can last for about 5 days when stored in the fridge, making them easy to incorporate into quick dinners. The same goes for roasted veggies. Instead of roasting enough sweet potato, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, or whatever else you have on hand for the week, make a point of roasting enough to last you a couple of days. With these staples ready for you in the fridge, it will take no time at all to put together a nourishing bowl when paired with a quick-cooking protein (tinned tuna, legumes, or chicken strips) and a simple dressing. 

2. Make use of tinned beans, lentils & chickpeas

Now I'm a huge advocate of cooking legumes from scratch, but soaking and cooking them can take up a whole lot of time. To save yourself a few hours when life gets busy, don't be afraid to make use of tinned beans, lentils, and chickpeas. They are all incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into all kinds of dinners to make them both hearty and healthy. Whip up a quick batch of hummus, make a quick and easy lentil bolognese and freeze half for later in the week, or include a tin of beans in a green salad to bulk it up a bit without having to cook anything.

3. Love your freezer

Stock your freezer with a few simple dinners that freeze and defrost easily for an easy meal. Soups, stews, bean dishes, or mince fit the bill quite well. Also, don't be afraid to keep frozen veg on hand in the freezer that you can easily steam or roast in no time at all to complement dinner. Freeze condiments like pesto, caramelised onions, grated ginger, stock, curry paste, tomato paste, and even mashed roasted garlic in ice cube trays. Pop them out and place them in labelled bags for easy use when you need them most.

4. Plan ahead

Meal planning is a lifesaver when you don't have a lot of time during the week. Set aside an hour over the weekend to check what you have in the fridge before you plan a week's worth of main meals for you and your family. After planning your menu, write up a shopping list and plan a trip to the shops before the week begins. If you have a bit of extra free time over the weekend, why not use it to prepare a few bigger meals or even just simple ingredients like roasted veggies that can be stored in the fridge or freezer for the week ahead? If you don't have a lot of time to make bigger meals, use the small amount of time that you do have to tick off some of the smaller food preparation tasks in advance. Prepare a salad dressing for the week, rinse and chop up veggies to store in the fridge, or even just organise your fridge in a way that makes things easy to access. That will leave you with a bit of down-time rather than you having to spend an hour in the kitchen after a busy day at work.

5. Find some go-to sheet-pan and one-pot meals

There's only one thing better than minimising the time you need to cook after a busy day, and that's minimising the time that you need to spend cleaning up after cooking dinner. Find some go-to single pot or sheet-pan meals that you enjoy, and make them part of your weekday routine. They save you a whole lot of time having to prepare a main dish with sides, as everything can be cooked in the same dish, and they leave you with much fewer dishes to clean up at the end! Seriously, this tip is a winner.

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Recipe time!

Ok so now it's time for the good stuff. This really isn't a culinary marvel, but wow was it delicious!   Instead of shopping for new ingredients to prepare this I decided to work with what was in the fridge. This recipe is really versatile, so feel free to make use of whatever veggies you have on hand - sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes. The real taste-clincher here is definitely the Tahini turmeric dressing, so don't miss out on it :) I hope that you enjoy this, and please remember to take a look at the other Recipe ReDux posts for this month.

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Recipe

Serves: 2

Total time: 50min

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 aubergine, cubed
  • 400g mushrooms, halved
  • 4 baby potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa/brown rice

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp honey

Method

For the veggies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix together the aubergine, mushrooms, baby potatoes, and chickpeas with 1 Tbsp olive oil, the cumin and paprika, and some salt and pepper. Spread over the baking tray, and roast for 35 minutes (until the veggies are soft).

For the dressing:

  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Store in a clean jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To prepare the salad:

  1. Divide the baby spinach, tomatoes, and cooked quinoa/brown rice between two bowls.
  2. Divide the cooked veggies between the bowls, and drizzle with the turmeric tahini dressing. Enjoy!

Savoury Buckwheat Crêpes with Exotic Mushrooms // Recipe Redux August 2017

Savoury Breakfast?

I often lean towards eating 'sweeter' breakfasts - think oats with berries, smoothies, or banana flapjacks. We all know that less sugar in our diets is good for us though, so there is definitely room for improvement in terms of incorporating more savoury breakfasts into the mix more often. This month's Recipe Redux theme got me thinking a bit more about some of the savoury breakfast tastes and textures that I enjoy, and how to incorporate them into something absolutely delicious.

Rise and Shine with a Savory Breakfast - The trend of protein-packed breakfasts is catching on…and back-to-school time is looming. This month, show us new healthy takes on eating savory or dinner-inspired dishes for breakfast. Think egg burritos, beans, and rice, or maybe even pasta?

I have wanted to buy these exotic mushrooms from Woolworths for a very long time but just hadn't had the time to think about how to use them until I read this month's topic. After doing a bit of brainstorming I thought that I'd love to create a savoury pancake with the exotic mushrooms as a filling. I really wanted to do a proper write-up on these delicious mushrooms, but have been caught up in a whole lot of admin that needs to be sorted out before our big move. I will have to do one at a later stage though :) Mushrooms are super interesting and full of goodness. 

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Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy this recipe. It is really simple to make, and the savoury buckwheat pancakes are such a winner. You can make them and enjoy them with pretty much any filling that your heart desires :) Please also make sure to check out some of the other Recipe Redux recipes for this month by clicking on the image under my recipe.

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Recipe

Serves: 2

Total time: 25min

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt & pepper, TT
  • Olive/coconut oil, as needed to cook

For the filling:

  • 400 g mixed exotic mushrooms (or normal button mushrooms), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt & pepper, TT
  • Feta cheese, optional

Method

For the pancakes:

  1. Add the egg and almond milk to a mixing bowl and whisk together.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, as well as the leaves from the sprigs of thyme to the wet mixture. Whisk together.
  3. Sift the buckwheat flour into a separate bowl. Slowly add the flour to the wet mixture, whisking as you go to avoid forming any lumps. Whisk until smooth and set aside for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the filling (below).
  4. After allowing the mixture to sit, heat some oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. When hot enough, add enough crêpe batter to form a thin layer on the surface of the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the crêpe has cooked enough to hold when flipped.
  5. Flip the crêpe over and cook for a few more minutes, until nice and golden.
  6. Repeat until all of the batter has been used up.

For the filling:

  1. Heat up 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan along with the leaves from the fresh sprigs of thyme, as well as some salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Allow the mushrooms to cook until they have softened and cooked sufficiently. Remove the pan from the stove.
  3. As an optional step, crumble some feta cheese over the mushrooms and mix together.
  4. Serve the mixed mushroom filling in the buckwheat crêpes and enjoy whilst still warm.

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Spicy Coriander & Chilli Hummus // and some BIG news

Back To the Basics

Sometimes I can't believe the things that we do to make food and eating SO complicated. I promise you, three years ago I didn't want to touch chickpeas because they were being pushed as bad for us due to their carbohydrate content and the anti-nutrients that they contain. Three years along the line and this same narrative is being played out, just by different parties, but the thing is that legumes are actually an amazing (affordable) inclusion in a well-balanced diet. They contain loads of beneficial dietary fibre, which our gut can benefit from, and if prepared correctly they may be more than fine for your tummy to handle. 

Something I did when I started including more pulses and legumes in my diet was to introduce them little by little, to get my tummy used to them. Legumes are very in high FODMAPs, specifically galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and can cause gassiness and bloating in many people, but these symptoms can vary from person to person. By introducing legumes little by little, starting with 1/4 cup a day for a few days and increasing the amount slowly from there, I found that my tummy was able to adjust to consuming more legumes quite well. As already mentioned, the way in which we prepare legumes can make a big difference, for example tinned lentils contain less GOS than boiled lentils. This is because GOS is water-soluble (meaning it can 'dissolve' in water) and leaches out of the lentils during processing and storage.

I have done a couple of posts on legumes throughout this year including this one that will teach you how to prepare & cook dried legumes properly, and this one which takes a look at what legumes actually are and the pros and cons associated with eating them. Give them a read if you haven't done so already.

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First Things First...

I have some BIG news to share. It has been on my heart to share this for a while, but I felt that I needed to have all my ducks in a row before putting it out there and letting all of you know. My husband and I are going to be moving to the United Kingdom at the end of this month to start a whole new (unexpected) adventure. A couple of months ago an opportunity, that was just mind-blowingly cool, presented itself to us and after spending a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons and figuring out if it was the right path for us as a couple and each of us as individuals, we have decided to jump in and grab it with both hands. I have been given the chance to change my path slightly and complete a MSc Human Nutrition at the University of Surrey, which is located in Guildford, a little town in Southern England (just South of London). I will thus no longer become a #RD2BE, but will be working towards becoming a registered nutritionist. For those who are a bit confused as to what the difference will be between becoming a registered dietitian and a registered nutritionist, this resource by the BDA explains things quite well.

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Just as a summary, here are a few basic differences in terms of the role that nutritionists and dietitians play.

Nutritionists work in all non-clinical settings such as in Government, food industry, research, teaching, sports and exercise industries, international work in developing countries, media and communications, animal nutrition and NGOs.

There are some nutritionists employed within the NHS working alongside Registered Dietitians. Nutritionists often work freelance as consultants.

Nutritionists work with people who are well, without any known existing medical conditions, to prevent disease.

They cannot work with acutely ill hospitalised patients or those living in the community requiring therapeutic interventions without supervision from a dietitian.

Dietitians work in the NHS and in private clinics. They work with healthy and sick people in a variety of settings. Dietitians can work in the food industry, workplace, catering, education, sport and the media. Other care pathways they work in include mental health, learning disabilities,community, acute settings and public health.

They often work as integral members of multi-disciplinary teams to treat complex clinical conditions such as diabetes, food allergy and intolerance, IBS syndrome, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, malnutrition, kidney failure and bowel disorders.

They provide advice to caterers to ensure the nutritional care of all clients in NHS and other care settings such as nursing homes, they also plan and implement public health programmes to promote health and prevent nutrition related diseases. A key role of a dietitian is to train and educate other health and social care workers.

They also advise on diet to avoid the side effects and interactions between medications.

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Although my path is changing a bit, I am excited to see where Taste & See goes in this next year. Believe it or not but the blog turned 1 year old on Tuesday this week! 1 August marked the day that I shared my first post (this Easy Overnight Oat recipe, which is still a favourite) and made the blog public for all of you to read. Over the past year I have learned so much, and as mentioned in the beginning of this post the way that my eating and relationship has changed over the past year has been amazing. I have learned to love ingredients that I would never have cooked with before, have re-learnt to love carbohydrates again (having actually come to fear eating things like oats, legumes, and rice), and have met so many amazing people through this platform. So thank you for all of your support, and for giving Taste & See a chance :) The best is yet to come.

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Spicy Coriander & Chilli Hummus

Now onto today's recipe. I have fallen in love with making Pick Up Lime's hummus recipes from scratch (seriously, check out this, this, and this one if you want a few go-to hummus recipes). Sadia prefers to use whole food fat sources instead of loads of extra oil that is usually called for in hummus recipes. She uses more tahini than normal as the main source of fat in the recipe and adds a little bit of water instead of extra oil to make the hummus creamy and delicious. This recipe of mine was created out of the blue when I needed to use a whole box of coriander that was about to go off. For coriander haters, I'm sorry, I have learned to love it and this is one of my favourite recipes. For coriander lovers, enjoy :) 


Recipe

Serves: 6

Total time: 10min

Adapted from: Pick Up Limes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 x 400 g can, drained and rinsed well)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp tahini (plus an extra 1-2 Tbsp for a creamier hummus)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh coriander (adjust according to your taste)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Place all ingredients except for the chickpeas in a food processor. Blend on high until well combined.
  2. Add the chickpeas and blend on high. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides.
  3. Process until the chickpeas are well blended and a smooth consistency is achieved. Add a bit of extra water if necessary to loosen up the hummus a bit.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Mushroom 'Risotto' Stuffed Chinese Cabbage

Phew, what a week! It's been a busy and emotion-filled, but wonderful week for me. I have some BIG news coming to the blog next week, just to keep everyone up to date with the happenings here at Taste & See HQ, but for now, let's just say that my head can't stop thinking about the large number of to-do lists that I need to complete in the next month.

Risotto time!

If you read my last blogpost you would have seen that I tried out an awesome Munching Mongoose bag last week. As promised in the last post, I said I would be sharing a DELICIOUS recipe that I made using some of the ingredients that we received in our bag. Of all the produce that I found inside the bag, the Chinese cabbage was definitely the one that daunted me the most. I mean what do you do with Chinese cabbage?!?! After doing a bit of thinking I remembered making the most delicious stuffed Asian cabbage rolls last year in cooking class, and I thought why not try something like that. I took a look at what I had in the fridge and found butternut (in the bag that week), some cooked quinoa, mushrooms, a half-used bottle of wine, and Asagio cheese (also in our bag of goodies). Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is what I came up with (with a bit of help from Paola // Cravings in Amsterdam) :) I hope you like it!

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Recipe

Yields: 8 stuffed cabbage rolls

Total time: 1h

Adapted from: Cravings in Amsterdam

Ingredients

For the 'risotto':

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 300 g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt, TT
  • Black pepper, TT
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 200 g plain yoghurt
  • 40 g grated Assagio cheese

For the cabbage rolls:

  • 8 large Chinese cabbage leaves

For the butternut purée:

  • 2 cups butternut, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • Salt, TT
  • Black pepper, TT

Method

For the risotto:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the mushrooms and onions are soft.
  2. Add the wine and quinoa to the saucepan. Cook until most of the wine has evaporated.
  3. Add the yoghurt and Assagio and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the cabbage rolls:

  1. Place the large Chinese cabbage leaves in a steamer basket. Steam for 10 minutes, or until the leaves are soft but not too wilted.
  2. Remove the leaves from the steamer one by one, patting them dry with a paper towel. Stuff each of the leaves with about 2-3 tablespoons of the 'risotto'. Tuck the sides in, roll up the cabbage leaf, and tuck in the ends. Repeat for all the leaves.

For the butternut purée:

  1. Place the diced butternut in a steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes (until soft). Whilst the butternut is busy cooking, heat up the olive oil in a small pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the steamed butternut, sautéed onion and garlic, coconut cream, and a pinch of salt to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Notes:

  • The butternut purée and risotto make for delicious leftovers, so don't worry if you make a bit too much of each.
  • This recipe is a time-consuming one, but it really is delicious. If you are pressed for time why not just make the butternut purée, or the 'risotto'?

Let's Talk Gut Health // Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Let's Talk GUT HEALTH!

A couple of weeks ago I hosted the first Taste & See event at my little apartment in Johannesburg. I was a bit nervous to step out and do something like this, but I am so grateful to everyone who attended the event and to those who played a role in making it happen :) The idea behind the event was to share a variety of gut-related evidence-based information with everyone who attended the event alongside some food that promotes gut health. 

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I'll start off with a BIG thank you to each of the sponsors who were generous enough to donate some of their delicious, healthy snacks and treats for the guest's goodie bags:

  • Eat Naked honey & peanut butter squeeze packets are a favorite of mine, so it was great to share some of their products with the event attendees. This is a company that promotes good, healthy eating habits, conscious eating, and superior, authentic ingredients that are good for you. Eat Naked pairs up with African Honey Bee (AHB), a network of local South African micro-beekeeping businesses that produce superior quality honey AND support rural South African communities. Their limited edition creamed aloe honey is definitely my favorite, but take a look at some of their other products if you're interested :)
  • Leafy Greens // Antonia's Real Food was kind enough to share a few bottles of their gut-loving kombucha with us. I absolutely LOVED the variety of flavours of kombucha, which included the likes of Pineapple & Basil and Kiwi & Lavender. If you have a chance to drive out to Muldersdrift you must visit Leafy Greens. It is a lovely rustic cafe that draws inspiration and flavours from all of the organic produce that is grown right on the farm. I love their food mission "...to bring people back to a life lived in harmony with nature by eating living foods. To eat simply again and rediscover the joys of unprocessed ingredients. To savour the beauty of each fruit and vegetable, and to bring out their full flavour and health benefits."
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  • Just Peachy has a range of dried fruits and healthy snacks, free from preservatives, chemicals, and added flavourants. I had the opportunity to taste some of their dried wild berries, CocoPine cashews, and dried mango at a local supermarket a week or two before the gut health event, and thankfully Just Peachy's founder, Kymn, was generous enough to share a variety of their products with us. YUM!
  • And finally, there were a few Wholesome Kitchen bestsellers that were included in the goodie bags. Each guest received a sample of the Ancient Grain Porridge, which features the likes of teff, oats, millet and amaranth in their "whole grain" form, which makes them more nutritionally beneficial than highly processed and refined modern cereals. There was also a sample of the classic All-Rounder Granola, which tastes good with pretty much everything.
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Ok onto the breakfast :) We enjoyed a delicious Green Monster Smoothie (which will be shared at the end of this post for anyone that would like to try it out) sprinkled with some All-Rounder Granola, and then the gut-health talk began with a basic introduction to the digestive system and the gut microbiome (which has a huge role to play in our health and wellbeing). Believe it or not, but our gut microbiome plays a number of important roles in our bodies including:

  • Assisting the digestion of food components in our GIT
  • The synthesis of vitamins including some of the B vitamins and vitamin K
  • Protection from harmful microorganisms by maintaining the integrity of our intestinal mucosa
  • The stimulation of our immune system
  • Communication with our brain, along the gut-brain axis

We then discussed probiotics, prebiotics, the effect of nutrition on gut health, and the relationship between gut health and our brains before continuing with our delicious brunch :)

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After a delicious brunch of Ancient Grain Porridge (full of gut-loving fibre, which works really well to keep your tummy moving), a variety of fresh fruit, kombucha, tea, and coconut-date balls, we continued with the talk. We discussed topics that included leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, and fermented foods. It was wonderful to have input and questions from each of the guests, which included Ankie from Wooden Spoon Kitchen who had a fair share of wisdom to share with us too (you can check out some of her yummy recipes here when you get the chance). 

All in all, I am so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and organised this event. It was really special to spend the morning with a group of ladies that were eager to learn more about nutrition and gut health from an evidence-based perspective. I will definitely look into organising another event in the next month or two, so just send me an email if you would like to be updated if I do organise anything or if you have any ideas for the topic of the next event :) 

Oh, wait, before I forget here is the recipe for the Green Monster Smoothie that we enjoyed at the breakfast :)


Recipe

Serves: 1

Total time: 5min

Ingredients

1 banana, frozen
1/4 cup milk of choice
1/4 cup kefir
1-2 Tbsp peanut butter (SF)
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 Tbsp chia seeds
Handful of ice, as needed

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients into your blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Add ice blocks for a thicker smoothie, and more liquid for a runnier smoothie.

Thai Green Chickpea Curry // Learn to LOVE plant-based proteins

Chickpea recipe, take two :) Today's Taste & See recipe is one of my new favourites. I overdid the curry paste the first time I made it, but I think I've learned to choose the 'medium/mild' option now. I absolutely love authentic Thai food, and although this is my own version I absolutely love eating it for dinner. Serving it over a handful of brown rice and baby spinach is fantastic, as the hot curry wilts the spinach somewhat.

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Learn to LOVE the humble chickpea

I have to admit, I've been eating less meat in the past few weeks, and believe it or not, my tummy is working better than ever. Navigating the kitchen when you're starting to make plant-foods the basis of your diet (which is really good for your health) isn't always easy to do, but I've been pleasantly surprised at the amazing resources that can be found online. Today's post is going to be short and sweet (I'm working on a more comprehensive post about everything above), but I thought that I'd share some of my favorite recipe and nutrition blogs that have been really useful in learning a bit more about the benefits of plant-based eating and recipes that are easy to prepare and are just SO delicious.

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Recipe

Serves: 2

Total time: 25min

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked
  • 200 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 can of coconut milk (200 ml)
  • Salt & pepper, TT

To serve:

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges to serve
  • Cooked brown rice
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1 handful fresh coriander leaves, torn
  • 1 handful sugar-snap peas, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 radishes, sliced

Method

  1. Place a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl around the pan before adding the Thai green curry paste.Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add the ginger, minced garlic, and diced shallot and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and stir-fry until they soak up some of the sauce.
  3. Add the stock to the pan and turn down the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes to reduce. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and serve over cooked rice and some baby spinach. Top with fresh coriander leaves, sugar-snap peas, sliced radishes, and lime wedges.

Easy Chickpea & Vegetable 'scramble'

Quick & Easy

Yummy! This is one of my new favourite recipes. It is simple to prepare from scratch, making it perfect for a wholesome meal when life gets busy. It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, so it's also great to make a bigger batch to use throughout the week. It's definitely not a fine-dining type of meal, but it's DELICIOUS, filling, and hearty for the colder winter weather.

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If you haven't checked out last week's post yet, it covers everything that you need to know about preparing and cooking legumes properly. Chickpeas are one of the most affordable sources of nutrition available on the shelves. They are full of good-quality plant-based protein, filling fibre, and a whole lot of other important nutrients. It can seem a bit daunting to cook your own legumes, and often the tinned versions seem a whole lot easier, but once you start soaking, rinsing, and cooking them yourself I’m pretty sure that you won’t turn back. It requires very little effort, and the benefits of preparing your own legumes are many :) Why not prep some chickpeas this week so that you can give this recipe a try?

Before I share the recipe, check out this link to the Taste & See pantry page that covers everything you need to know about chickpeas. Enjoy!

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Recipe

Serves: 2

Total time: 20min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 200 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil/coconut oil
  • 3 baby leeks, sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 x 400 g can of tinned chickpeas, drained)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper, TT

Methods

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, mushrooms, leeks, turmeric, and cumin and cook for 5 more minutes.
  2. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, cooked chickpeas, and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Enjoy :)

A Refreshing Grapefruit, Pomegranate & Rosemary Spritzer // Cocktails & Mocktails for May Celebrations

This month's Recipe Redux topic was a bit daunting for me when I first read it:

Showers and celebrations with friends abound this time of year. Show us your healthy, colorful drink concoctions for festivities like bridal showers and graduation celebrations.

I'm no cocktail expert, seriously, but I thought what better way to step out of my box and be a bit more creative than usual? Initially, I was really keen to use kombucha in my creation, with its natural fizz and a whole lot of probiotic benefits, but decided on another tasty creation that I don't think will disappoint. When I went to buy ingredients there was a big bag of grapefruits that was staring right at me as I walked into the store and I decided that I had to do something with them. After conducting a few experiments along with a Google search to help guide my flavour combinations, I came up with today's tasty mocktail creation (which can easily be turned into a cocktail with the addition of a splash of good vodka) :)

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What's the deal with alcohol?

So alcohol is something that is a bit confusing at times in terms of the good and bad effects it has on our bodies. Small amounts of red wine are said to be linked to a variety of health benefits, whilst we know that excess alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on our liver. The recommended daily alcohol intake is 1 standard drink for women and 2 standard drinks for men [1]. A standard drink is generally defined as an alcoholic beverage containing 10 g of alcohol, at least that's how it works in South Africa and Australia [1]. One standard drink contains more or less the amount of alcohol that a healthy liver is able to detoxify within an hour. Some common standard drink sizes include [2]:

  • 30 ml spirits (40% alcohol)
  • 250 ml regular beer (5% alcohol)
  • 450 ml light beer (2.7% alcohol)
  • 115 ml wine (10-14% alcohol)
  • 107 ml sparkling wine (12% alcohol)

Alcohol contains the 'active ingredient' ethanol which is able to help reduce shyness and self-consciousness and subsequently increase confidence in those who consume it. At the same time, large amounts of alcohol tend to impair one's judgment [3]. How exactly does alcohol do this? Ethanol, unlike most other molecules that we consume, is so small that it is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier into your brain, where it interferes with neurotransmitters that are responsible for all of the brain's activities. Alcohol is metabolised by the liver, which makes the liver particularly vulnerable to damage in cases of alcohol abuse [3]. The relationship between alcohol consumption and heart health is a bit complicated, with a number of studies showing that excessive alcohol consumption can be linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk whilst moderate alcohol consumption may provide beneficial effects including [3]:

  • Increasing HDL cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Lowering the amount of fibrinogen (a substance that plays a role in blood clotting) in the blood
  • Decreasing the risk of diabetes
  • Temporarily decreasing stress and anxiety

As with most things, consuming alcohol in moderation every now and then is fine, but overdo it and you're not doing your body any favours. The truth is that alcohol can be a bit of a poison to our body when we consume too much of it due to the fact that it dehydrates our body somewhat and can put quite a bit of pressure on our liver (the detox centre of the body) [3]. So what can you do to best look after your liver?

  • Be mindful about why and when you drink alcohol. When you do enjoy a cocktail or a delicious glass of fine wine, enjoy every sip. Savour the taste, aroma, and experience.
  • Enjoy alcohol with others, in good company, and in positive environments. There's nothing better than a glass of wine over a delicious meal with friends where it forms part of the evening, not the purpose of the event.
  • Hydrate :) Ensure that you drink water whilst drinking alcohol to make sure that your body is well-hydrated.
  • If you don't particularly enjoy drinking alcohol, or think you need to cut down a bit on your alcohol intake, explore delicious non-alcoholic options. This spritzer is a winner and can easily be mixed up a bit using different herbs, fruits, and other ingredients. 
  • Make your own cocktails. This allows you to have control over the amount of alcohol in your drink, as well as all of the extras that are used to make your cocktail delicious. Often cocktails contain large amounts of sugary syrups, so it's a bonus if you can have some degree of control over this.
  • One more tip I can give you is to treat alcohol a bit like sweet treats, make it a 'sometimes' thing, something that you enjoy on special occasions, for celebrations, or for sundowners with friends on the weekend. 
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and what about Grapefruit?

Grapefruit is beautiful. I seriously think that this week's photos look beautiful thanks to the ruby red colour of this stunning fruit. Grapefruit is known to have a sweet, sour, and bitter taste, loved by some and hated by others. In terms of its nutrition, grapefruit packs a whole lot of nutrients and antioxidants whilst being relatively low in calories [4]. A single 100 g servings of fresh grapefruit contains [5]:

  • 176 kJ (42 kcal) total energy
  • 1.6 g dietary fibre (6% DV)
  • 31.2 mg vitamin C (52% DV)
  • 1150 IU vitamin A (23% DV)
  • 135 mg potassium (4% DV)

Thanks to the vitamin C that grapefruit contains, along with a number of other vitamins and minerals, this fruit has the potential to strengthen your immune system and prevent acute infections [4]. As with most other fibre-containing fruits, grapefruit can play a role in slowing down gastric motility, increasing digestion time and keeping you fuller for longer [4]. Grapefruit, like other citrus fruits, contains citric acid, which may play a role in preventing the formation of oxalate kidney stones by preventing their binding with calcium in the kidney and allowing them to be flushed out of the body [4]. As a bonus, grapefruit is incredibly hydrating thanks to the fact that it contains almost 88% of its total weight in water [4].

Interestingly enough, however, there are certain people who should avoid consuming grapefruit. Grapefruit contains substances that inhibit the action of an enzyme that is particularly important in the metabolism of certain medications, including [4]:

  • Immunosuppressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Indinavir
  • Carbamazepine
  • Some statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs)

I love this recipe, and hope that you do too! Make sure to take a look at some the other awesome Recipe ReDux posts for this month :) 

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Recipe

Ingredients

For the rosemary syrup:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary

For the spritzer (2 servings):

  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate rubies
  • 200 ml freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp rosemary syrup
  • 250 ml sparkling water or soda water
  • 60 ml vodka (good quality), optional

To garnish:

  • Grapefruit segments
  • Pomegranate rubies
  • Fresh rosemary

Method

To make the syrup:

  1. Combine the water and honey in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to the boil before adding in the fresh rosemary and reducing the heat to a simmer.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain, and allow to cool down completely.

To make the spritzer (2 servings):

  1. Place 2 Tbsp of the pomegranate rubies into each of the glasses. Muddle (this basically means 'squish') the pomegranate rubies to release some of their juices.
  2. Into each glass pour 100 ml grapefruit juice, 1 Tbsp rosemary syrup, and 30 ml vodka (optional). Top with sparkling water or soda water, and garnish with the remaining pomegranate rubies, fresh grapefruit segment(s), and a fresh sprig of rosemary.

References

[1] The Motor Accident Commission of South Australia. A Guide to Standard Drinks. Available from: http://www.mac.sa.gov.au/standard-drink [Accessed 21 May 2017].

[2] National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What is a Standard Drink? Available from: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink [Accessed 21 May 2017].

[3] Arnarson A. Authority Nutrition. Alcohol and Health: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Available from: https://authoritynutrition.com/alcohol-good-or-bad/ [Accessed 21 May 2017].

[4] Elliott B. Authority Nutrition. 10 Science-Based Benefits of Grapefruit. Available from: https://authoritynutrition.com/10-benefits-of-grapefruit/ [Accessed 21 May 2017].

[5] Nutrition Data. Grapefuit, raw, pink and red, all areas. Available from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1905/2 [Accessed 21 May 2017].

Berry Beet Chia Pudding

Phew!

It's been a busy few weeks over here (with a nice, much-needed long weekend spent with family in Hermanus somewhere in between). To be honest with you, I almost forgot to type up this blog post until late last night. I am in the process of working on an exciting new project in between completing assignments and writing tests at university, as well as being a wife. Luckily things are getting back to normal, and a routine is slowly being established once again. I have so many delicious recipes to share with you, but just need to make time to type them up and share them, so don't worry, there is lots of goodness coming your way on Taste & See in the next few weeks :) 

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One recipe that has been waiting in the archives for quite some time is this delicious Berry Beet Chia Pudding. I had a bunch of beetroots in my fridge that needed using up a couple of months ago and had to find inventive ways of using them up in breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. This chia pudding is one of the tastier results of my need to not waste food :) In terms of the nutritional value of this recipe, there is so much to be said about the goodness found in chia seeds, berries, and beetroot, but I don't have much time to share everything here today. I will have to do a post at a later stage that delves into the specific health benefits and nutritional profile of chia seeds and berries, but for now, you can read a bit about beetroot in this post.

Berry Good for You

For now, though here are a few reasons why berries are amongst the healthiest foods on the planet, and why including them in your diet is a good idea [1]:

 

1. Berries are packed with beneficial antioxidants

Antioxidants help neutralise free radicals in the body. Lots of free radicals in the body are known to damage cells, so keeping them to a minimum is a good idea. Antioxidants may help protect against things cancers and have the potential to protect one's skin against damage and wrinkling that contributes to ageing.

 

2. Berries help fight inflammation

This is thanks to their high antioxidant content. Inflammation is one of modern man's worst enemies, with excessive stress, inadequate activity, and poor diet all contributing to it. Chronic inflammation has been associated with the development of many chronic diseases, so lowering inflammation through the consumption of foods that have been shown to reduce inflammation is a great idea. Berries may help to reduce inflammation in the body and decrease your risk of developing a number of chronic lifestyle diseases.

 

3. Berries are pretty good at improving blood sugar and insulin response when eaten along with higher-carbohydrate foods.

 

4. Berries contain lots of fibre

This includes soluble fibre, which has been shown to slow down the movement of food through your GI tract. This helps to promote satiety and reduce hunger. 

 

5. Berries are full of nutrients!

They are a great source of many important nutrients including vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and copper, yet aren't high in calories.

 

6. Berries are good for your heart 

They may help lower LDL cholesterol levels, as well as protect LDL particles from being oxidised in the body. Oxidised LDL particles are believed to be a major risk factor for heart disease, so preventing this from happening is great for heart health. In addition to these advantages, berries may also help keep your arteries healthy. Excessive inflammation in arteries can result in endothelial dysfunction, which is a big risk factor for heart disease. 

 

7. Berries are DELICIOUS.

Both on their own and in healthy recipes. Berries are naturally sweet and pair well with so many ingredients. They can be eaten as a snack, either on their own or paired with things like yoghurt, cottage cheese, or chopped nuts. They can also be used in smoothies, salads, and desserts.

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Recipe

Total time: 5min

Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the chia pudding:

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 2 1/4 cups milk / milk alternative / half-milk half-water
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup beetroot, raw or steamed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves (optional)

To serve:

  • 1/3-1/2 cup plain yoghurt / coconut yoghurt each
  • Granola / toasted seeds
  • Toasted coconut
  • Fresh / frozen berries

Method

  1. Blend together the milk, berries, beetroot, vanilla, honey, and lemon juice (and mint leaves, optional).
  2. Place the chia seeds into a bowl or medium-sized jar and stir in the blended mixture. Make sure to incorporate well before placing the bowl/jar in the fridge overnight.
  3. In the morning, remove the chia pudding from the fridge and mix a bit to loosen up the mixture. Spoon into two bowls/smaller jars, and top with yoghurt and granola, berries, mixed seeds, and/or toasted coconut. Enjoy!

Notes

  • This should keep in the fridge for 5 days in an airtight container. You can always make a bigger batch and enjoy over a few days.

Spiralised Carrot Nests with Carrot Top Pesto // 10 Easy ways to reduce food waste

Reducing Food Waste

I'm quite excited for today's post. A few months ago I stumbled across Recipe Redux on Dish & Delight, one of my favorite South African blogs run by Cheryl Meyer, a registered dietitian. I enquired about Recipe Redux, which is a recipe challenge group that is focused on developing delicious dishes that are wholesome and healthy for everyone, and was afforded the opportunity to join. Each month a theme is set, we each have to develop a delicious recipe in line with the theme, and then we get to share our post with our followers and fellow bloggers at the end of the month. 

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste - In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we’re challenging ReDux members to show how they reduce food waste. Whatever you would normally toss, use it up. Share tips for reducing food waste in meal planning, prep or using up scraps.
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I was very excited to read the theme of this month's Recipe Redux post. Food waste is something that I am becoming more and more aware of, especially now that I am having to purchase, prepare, and budget for my household's weekly groceries. The first thing that popped into my head when I read the topic was carrots. I had a big bunch of carrots with bushy green tops on them sitting in the fridge, and I realised that I would probably have discarded the tops if this topic hadn't come up. At first, I was very keen to develop a recipe for carrot gnocchi with a delicious carrot top pesto, but after opening up the Nutrition Stripped cookbook one morning I was surprised with McKel's delicious recipe for exactly that. I decided on plan B, which you'll get to read all about after my loooong post about food waste.

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Believe it or not, almost one-third of the food produced for human consumption worldwide goes to waste each year either through the food production chain or by consumers in the home [1]. Food waste in developed countries, mostly in North America and Europe, equates to almost US$ 680 billion per annum, with the amount of waste per capita adding up tp between 95-115 kg/year [1]. Developing countries tend to experience less food waste than industrialised ones, but there is still a significant amount of food waste that takes place in these areas mostly due to problems that occur in the early stages of the food supply chain [1]. In developed countries, more than 40% of food waste occurs at the consumer level, from uneaten leftovers and spoiled produced being tossed in the bin, whilst in developing nations 40% of food waste occurs before the food has even reached supermarket shelves [1].

Throughout the world, food losses and waste each year roughly equates to [1]:

  • 30% for cereal crops
  • 40-50% for fruits, vegetables, and root crops
  • 20% for seed oils, meat, and dairy
  • 35% for fish

The scary reality is that the amount of food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people, and the food currently lost due to lack of proper infrastructure in the food supply chain in Africa could feed 300 million people [1]. By managing food in a more sustainable and mindful way, we can play a small role in solving a very big problem. Although not all of us can make a direct impact on the food supply chain, we do have a role to play in our own individual lives when it comes to reducing food waste during purchasing, storage, and preparation of food in our homes. In this post, I'll be taking a look at 10 easy ways in which we as consumers can reduce food waste as much as possible and I will be sharing a yummy recipe that makes use of scraps that would normally get thrown away.

This video pretty much summarises what I have mentioned above :)

What are the benefits of reducing food waste?

Reducing food waste in your home will save you money in the long run because you won't be purchasing food that doesn't get eaten. Over time, as you learn to plan better you will end up buying less food [2]. Reducing the amount of wasted food in your home will reduce methane emissions from landfills, lowering your carbon footprint, and it will help conserve energy and resources required for the growing, manufacturing, transport, sale, and disposal of wasted food [2]. By donating uneaten food that is still safe to eat, you can play a role in supporting your community and feed those who may not have otherwise had any food to eat [2].

1. Plan ahead & make a shopping list

Before you go grocery shopping, sit down and plan meals for the week. This doesn't have to be a complicated exercise, and you don't need to stick to your plan 100% if you don't want to. Write down a list of main meals (breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner) for the week. Keep it simple by cooking once, eating twice (hello leftover lunches!). It's always fun to try out new recipes, but make sure to have a list of staple meals that your family loves. It makes things easier when you need to plan meals for the week. Next, figure out what ingredients you need to purchase for those meals and write everything down on a list to take shopping with you. Work out what other staple items and snacks you need, such as fruit, milk, yoghurt, and eggs, and add them to the list. When you get to the shops stick to your list. There are a few really useful apps (click to read about them here rel=”nofollow“) that can make things a bit easier if you're not into the old-school pen-and-paper type of shopping list.

When you get to the shops, buy exactly what you need. Don't buy a huge 2 kg bag of carrots if you only need three carrots for the week. It might feel like you're losing out by not buying in bulk to save, but you'll most likely spend less money on food this way because you will actually use what you purchase. Oh, one more thing - DON'T SHOP ON AN EMPTY STOMACH! You'll probably buy more than you need if you do :)

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2. Tidy up your pantry & fridge

This should actually be step number 1 in the list. Before you even start trying to figure out what meals to make in the week, go through your fridge and figure out what needs to be used up in the next few days. Plan your upcoming meals around these ingredients, and plan your shopping list accordingly. The next step is to tidy up your fridge and pantry a bit so that you don't forget about those leftovers lurking in the back of the fridge. Another great tip whilst you're tidying up the pantry is to make a note of what pantry staples you already have, and which ones you need to add to your shopping list.

Once your pantry and fridge are both nice and organised, start to practice FIFO (First In, First Out). When unpacking new groceries for the week, put older products near the front of your fridge and put new groceries closer to the back. If you do this you are more likely to use up the older ingredients before they go off, and they won't go to waste.

3. Be smart about storage

Keep food as fresh as possible by storing it correctly. Store fruit like apples, berries, and oranges in the fridge. Allow stone fruits, avocados, and melons to ripen before placing them in the fridge. When it comes to vegetables, store salad greens in an airtight container with a piece of paper towel in the fridge, and cut off the tops of carrots and beetroot to extend their shelf life. Keep onions, garlic, and potatoes in a cool, dark place outside of the fridge. Store eggs in the carton on a shelf in the fridge, not in the door. Store grains, nuts & seeds in airtight containers to prevent them from going stale. You can find some more in-depth info about how to store all of your favorite foods here and here.

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4. Get creative in the kitchen

Be smart with ingredients you already have in your fridge and pantry before you do a big shop. Leftover vegetable soups, stews, or stir-fries are always winning dinners. If food is still safe for you to eat, get creative with the parts that you would normally end up throwing away. Prepare beetroot tops by sautéeing them a little bit of olive oil with a sprinkle of salt, and serve them as a side dish. Sauté broccoli stems along with the florets. Use vegetable scraps to make a stock. Another great example of getting creative with less-loved food parts is to make today's delicious Carrot Top Pesto recipe. Love Food Hate Waste is a movement that is changing the way that consumers shop and prepare food in the home. Check out their website for some epic leftover recipes.

5. Don't go overboard

Don't overprepare meals unless you're willing and able to eat the leftovers for days to come. I know that it's a lot easier not to over prepare food when you're cooking for a large family, but when it's one or two of you things get a bit more tricky. Adjust recipes to match the number of servings you actually need. Eat from plates and bowls that allow for better portion control and less food waste (anyone heard the old saying 'Your eyes are bigger than your stomach'?). When eating out, try share a meal with someone if you know that the portions are going to be quite large. This will work out to be cheaper for both of you, you won't overeat, and you won't need to take any leftovers home. Sharing is caring after all :)

6. Understand your labels

Far too often, perfectly edible and safe food is thrown in the bin because of confusion about expiration dates and a fear of spoilage. Time for a little bit of food labelling 101 - food labels such as 'Use By', 'Sell By', and 'Expiration' are not food safety dates; they are established to provide an indication of peak food quality. These dates can be really confusing, and aren't always the best way to determine whether or not something is spoiled. Generally you want to eat leftovers within 3-5 days of preparing the meal, but when in doubt use your eyes and your nose to determine whether or not food is still ok to eat. Here is a pretty cool resource to help guide you.

7. Skip the bin

Eat leftovers before they go off. Instead of throwing excess food in the bin, pack it into lunchboxes for work and school for an easy pre-packed lunch. Instead of throwing away edible food in the bin, share it with others. If you end up with too much food for you to eat why not donate it to a food bank or homeless shelter, or even just warm it up and share it with the security guard who looks after your building? Inedible food is a different story, but it doesn't have to be thrown away either. Why not set up a compost heap in your garden? Composting is a great way to transform food waste into something that can nourish your garden. For a lesson in composting, check out this resource.

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8. Figure out what you're wasting

Over the course of a week or two, write down all of the foods that you throw away. It sounds silly, but at the end of this period you are likely to get a good idea of what you're throwing away on a regular basis. If you notice, for example, that you're throwing away half a bottle of milk each week because it is going off before you can finish it, maybe it's a good idea to buy a smaller bottle of milk each week. Is your bunch of bananas ripening too quickly for you to eat them all? Peel, chop, and freeze half of the bunch to add to smoothies, or just buy a smaller bunch of bananas.

9. Use your freezer

Instead of throwing away food reaching the end of its life, why not freeze it? You can freeze peeled bananas, grated cheese, vegetables (blanch them first), bread, yoghurt, milk, ginger, herbs, and a whole lot of other ingredients. If you cook a batch of food too big for you to eat at one meal and for lunch the next day, freeze half of it for a later stage. Things like stews, soups, and pasta dishes work really well, just remember to label them with the name of the dish and the date it was prepared so that you use it up in good time. As a bonus, you will gain an extra night where no cooking is required if you have ready-made meals on hand in the freezer.

10. Give extra love to older (and uglier) fruit & veggies

Another great way make things last a bit longer is to try out other preservation techniques such as fermentation (great for your gut!), making stock, dehydrating, and pickling. Don't be afraid to buy produce that looks a bit funny. Often fruits and vegetables are thrown away because their size, shape, or colour doesn't match what we think that they should look like. The unfortunate looking fruits and vegetables that you might spot on supermarket shelves and at farmers markets are for the most part perfectly good to eat. By purchasing them, often at slightly lower prices, you will make a difference by using up food that would otherwise be thrown in the bin. I remember watching this video a few years ago and was so excited to see what Intermarché was doing to change consumers perceptions of Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables. 

Some really cool anti-food-waste resources

  • The FoodKeeper app - It helps you to better understand how to properly store food and drinks to maximise their storage life, how long you can store them for, and prevent food waste in the process
  • This cute video on the FIFO principle
  • Love Food Hate Waste - An organisation that aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste. Their website is filled with practical tips that can make reducing waste easier for you, as well as many delicious recipes that make use of less-loved parts of food as well as leftovers.

Recipe time!

Enough information, it's recipe time. My plan B recipe, which I will be sharing with you today, is a delicious recipe for Spiralised Carrot Nests with Carrot Top Pesto. I have been spiralising zucchinis, carrots, and sweet potatoes for months now, and honestly can't get enough of using my spiraliser. A few months ago I tried to make spiralised, baked sweet potato chips and they were absolutely delicious :) I played around a bit with my recipe, adding in cumin (a spice that pairs really nicely with carrots), and made these carrot nests for today's recipe. The best part is that I didn't have to waste my carrot tops! I also came up with a carrot top pesto that is really simple to make, and really tasty.

I can't get enough of this recipe. Honestly, I've eaten this for lunch at least four times in the last two weeks. Spoon some carrot top pesto over the spiralised carrot nests, and enjoy them with soft to medium boiled/poached eggs (my favourite), goat's cheese, or even some leftover protein (lentils, chicken, ham) that you might have in your fridge. Pair this with a green salad and you've got a delicious, well-rounded meal ready for you in less than an hour. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Make sure to check out some of the other awesome creations that fellow ReDux participants came up with this month by clicking on the picture below :)

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Recipe

Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the carrot nests:

  • 2 large/3 medium carrots, spiralised
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

For the carrot top pesto:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups carrot tops, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/8-1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey, optional
  • Salt, to taste

Method

For the spiralised carrot nests:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. If you haven't done so yet, spiralise your carrots. Keep the carrot tops aside to make the pesto. Also, don't throw away the centre of the carrots. Keep them to use to make a stock, soup, or the base of another dish at a later stage.
  3. Place the spiralised carrots in a bowl along with the olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix everything up so that the carrot tops are coated nicely.
  4. Grab some spiralised carrots and carefully twist them onto the lined baking tray, making a nest shape. Do this with what is left in the bowl until there is no more spiralised carrot left.
  5. Place the baking tray in the oven, on the middle shelf, and allow the nests to bake for 30 minutes. Check them after about 20 minutes to make sure that they are cooking evenly, and that none are burning.
  6. When they are done remove the baking tray from the oven, allow to cool a little bit, and enjoy!

For the pesto:

  1. In a dry pan, lightly toast the sunflower seeds over a low-medium heat until they start to brown and become fragrant. Stir the seeds every now and then to toast them on all sides.
  2. Put the toasted sunflower seeds in a food processor and pulse slowly until they become flour-like. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend at the highest setting until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed. If the pesto is too thick, add a bit of water to thin it out.
  3. Store the pesto in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a week.

Notes

  • When adding the lemon juice, add 1/8 cup and taste the pesto before adding more. Also play around with salt and pepper to taste. Start small, and rather add more at a later stage.
  • To store, as an alternative (if you don't think that you will eat it all within a week), freeze some of the pesto in an ice cube tray and once frozen transfer to a plastic bag to store in the freezer. Use within 1 month.

References

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction. FAO; 2017. Available from: http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

[2] United States Environmental Protection Agency. Reducing Wasted Food At Home. EPA; 2017. Available from: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home.

[3] Newcomer L. 29 Smart and Easy Tips to Reduce Food Waste. Greatist; 2013. Available from: http://greatist.com/health/how-to-ways-reduce-food-waste

 

Salted Caramel Panna Cotta

I asked for some feedback from readers sometime during the course of the last two weeks, and one of the suggestions that came up was to share more health(ier) desserts on the blog. Needless to say, since reading that feedback I have been dreaming of better-for-you sweet treats that I can share with all of you. Last week Friday I offered to make dessert for dinner that night with friends, and this was the result. An idea popped into my head after I looked through what we had available in the pantry and fridge, and thankfully the result of my kitchen experiment was good (great actually). I think I have discovered my new favorite dessert ;)

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I know that salted caramel is so 2016, but it is still one of my favorite flavour combos. A few years ago a good friend of mine opened up my eyes to wonderful dates, an ingredient that can be easily made into the most wonderful sweet paste that can be used as a substitute for refined sugar in many different recipes. Dates are nature's caramel, so when they are paired with a pinch of salt and blitzed up, they make the most amazing paste that is a pretty good salted caramel alternative. Coconut milk has become a staple pantry item in my home, so I used it as an alternative to cream, which is usually used to make panna cotta.It gives the dessert the most delicious, creamy mouthfeel. I absolutely love coconut milk.

In these pictures the panna cotta is served in a jar, but when we enjoyed it with friends I set individual desserts in a lightly oiled silicone muffin mould for the perfect little servings. We topped the panna cotta with a little pinch of sea salt and toasted coconut chips to serve.

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Recipe

Serves: 4

Total time (including refrigeration): 3h 20min

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp gelatine powder
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
  • Toasted coconut flakes, to serve

Method

  1. Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine powder over. Set aside and allow to bloom for 10 minutes.
  2. After setting the gelatine aside, place the chopped dates in a small bowl and just cover with boiling water. Allow to soak for 5 minutes. Once the dates have softened drain the water and add them to a jug. Add 1/4 cup of coconut milk to the jug and blend using a hand blender until the mixture is nice and smooth.
  3. Place the remaining coconut milk in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the date paste to the saucepan after straining it through a sieve. Add the salt and whisk well to make sure that no lumps remain. Bring to a low boil and leave to thicken for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent burning on the bottom of the saucepan.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the gelatine mixture and the vanilla extract/essence. Whisk together until all of the gelatine is fully dissolved.
  5. Pour the mixture into a lightly silicone muffin mould, or into individual jars.
  6. Place into the fridge and allow to set for at least 3-4 hours.
  7. When you are ready to serve, either carefully remove each panna cotta carefully from the silicone muffin mould or serve in their individual jars. To serve, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and top with toasted coconut flakes.

Notes

For a vegan version, you can try substitute with agar agar. The texture will not be exactly the same, and the amounts may differ, but I am sure that it will work well enough.

Honey & Thyme-roasted Nectarine Salad with a Cinnamon Seed Sprinkle

Nutritious Nectarines

Nectarines are delicious, one of my favourite summer fruits. They belong to the same species as peaches but aren't hairy. Nectarines are actually also related to plums, cherries, and loquats. Yellow-fleshed nectarines generally contain more beta-carotene than white-fleshed varieties. Like peaches, nectarines also come in "clingstone" and "freestone" varieties. The difference between them is the fact that the flesh will easily separate from the flesh of the nectarine if it is of the freestone variety, whilst the flesh of clingstone types will cling to the pit. Nectarines are generally sold by flesh colour, as either white- or yellow-fleshed. 

As with the consumption of most fruits, eating nectarines is a healthy way to include important vitamins, minerals, and fibre in your diet. Epidemiologic evidence has shown time and time again that fruits and vegetables have a protective role to play in the prevention of cancer, as well as things like cataract formation, diverticulosis, heart disease, and a number of other diseases [1]. Getting a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet each day isn't a bad idea, so why not enjoy nectarines before they're no longer in season :) Nutritionally, nectarines are very similar to peaches, boasting good amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, and fibre. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant, along with polyphenols found in nectarines such as beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin [2]. Nectarines are also a source of potassium, containing 201 mg per 100 g (6% DV) [3].

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Honey & Thyme-roasted Nectarines

This salad was developed for two reasons:

  1. I had a whole lot of nectarines that needed to be eaten; and
  2. I had to prepare a salad to take with to a friend's birthday braai on Friday night.

What better way to use up nectarines and celebrate them before their season is up for the year than to use them to make a delicious salad? These nectarines were not quite as ripe as I'd have liked them to be, but thankfully roasting them in the oven helped to bring out their flavour and soften their texture a bit. Drizzling the nectarines with a little bit of coconut oil and honey helped to keep the nectarines moist during cooking and made for a simple sweet drizzle over the salad. The thyme added an extra element of flavour to the delicious, juicy nectarines.

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Cinnamon Seed Sprinkle

Since it came out on the shelves I've always loved Woolworths' cinnamon seed sprinkle for salads. Whilst I was making this salad I thought hey, this can't be too difficult to make at home. All you need are some seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and/or sesame seeds), honey, coconut oil, and a generous amount of cinnamon. Really, I can't emphasize this enough, this seed sprinkle is so easy to make at home. It's great to be able to control the amount of honey and coconut oil, as well as the seeds that you choose to use to make it. Feel free to use whatever seeds, and even nuts, that you have in your pantry.

Seeds are quite a nutritional superhero. They're packed with lots of goodness, with just a tablespoon of them boasting vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Pumpkin seeds, for example, are a great source of magnesium which promotes good heart health. Flaxseeds are a great source of fibre, magnesium, and alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that has plays a role in reducing inflammation in the body [4].

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Thyme (haha) for the recipe :) This salad is a delicious accompaniment to some kind of simple protein dish. Because it has sweet elements to it, you probably won't crave dessert after eating it. Enjoy it over a glass of wine with good company, and let me know what you think :)


Recipe

Total time: 40min

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 4 nectarines, yellow- or white-fleshed (freestone variety if possible)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • A big bag of mixed salad leaves
  • Brie, as needed

For the cinnamon seed sprinkle:

  • 1 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame)
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Method

For the salad:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Cut the nectarines in half, removing the pit from the centre. Slice them into wedges. Place on a lined baking tray or in a roasting pan.
  3. In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, melt and mix together the coconut oil and honey. Drizzle over the nectarines and toss to coat.
  4. Remove the leaves from the fresh thyme and sprinkle over the nectarines.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the flesh has softened. Remove when done and set aside to cool a bit.

For the cinnamon seed sprinkle:

  1. Place the seeds in a dry frying pan. Toast over a medium heat, stirring every now and then to prevent them from burning (seeds and nuts can burn really easily, so don't neglect them whilst they're on the heat). Remove from the heat when toasted nicely.
  2. In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt and mix together the honey and coconut oil.
  3. Pour the honey-coconut oil mixture and the cinnamon over the toasted seeds. Mix together well until all of the seeds are coated.
  4. Spread out the sticky seed mixture on a baking-paper lined baking sheet. Set aside and allow to cool. Place in the fridge to harden up a bit before breaking it up to sprinkle over the salad.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Rinse and dry a generous amount of salad leaves of your choice before placing them in a large salad bowl.
  2. Assemble your salad by adding the roasted nectarines, cut brie, and some cinnamon seed sprinkle.
  3. Drizzle over any honey-coconut oil mixture that is left over in the nectarine roasting pan.

References

[1] Van Duyn MAS, Pivonka E. Overview of the Health Benefits of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption for the Dietetics Professional: Selected Literature. J Am Diet Assoc. 2000 Dec;100(12):1511-21.

[2] Gil MI, Tomás-Barberán FA, Hess-Pierce B, Kader AA. Antioxidant Capacities, Phenolic Compounds, Carotenoids, and Vitamin C Contents of Nectarine, Peach, and Plum Cultivars from California. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50:4976-82.

[3] Nutritiondata. Nectarines, raw [Internet]. [date unknown] [cited 12 March 2017]. Available from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1962/2.

[4] Horvath, N. 4 Ridiculously Healthy Seeds You Should Be Eating Every Single Day [Internet]. [8 Feb 2017] [cited 12 March 2017]. Available from: http://www.prevention.com/food/4-super-healthy-seeds/slide/4

 

Tropical Sunrise Breakfast Smoothie

Smooth Sailing on Busy Mornings

Smoothies are great! They make for a refreshing, nutrient-dense, delicious meal that can be taken along with you on busy mornings. They are incredibly versatile, allowing you to build them as you see fit, and are an amazing way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables into your daily eating. But believe it or not, even smoothies can be unhealthy. Many smoothies that we buy at restaurants or chains, or even ones that we make at home, have the potential to be very high in energy and sugar when too many fruits, honey, and extras are added.

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Building a Healthy Smoothie

If you're making a smoothie that is going to act as your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you want to try and make sure that it's a good substitute for a well-balanced meal.

  • Include 1 serving of protein of your choice. This is really important to make you feel full after enjoying the smoothie, and for controlling your blood sugar levels nicely. Use a good-quality whey/pea/rice protein powder, plain yoghurt, or milk in your smoothie to help you stay satisfied for longer and maintain better blood glucose control.
  • Add 1/2 cup frozen/fresh fruit of choice.Try not to keep to 1-2 servings of fruit per smoothie to manage the total energy and sugar content of your smoothie. Banana, berries, mango, and pineapple are so delicious in smoothies! For lower sugar options try and stick to berries. 
  • If you can, add a handful of healthy greens like baby spinach or kale for an extra nutrient boost. 
  • Add 1 Tbsp healthy fat, such as almond butter, raw nuts, seeds, or coconut oil to boost the energy content and lower the overall GI of your smoothie.
  • Up the fibre content of your smoothie by adding in 1 Tbsp chia seeds, flax seeds, or psyllium husk. 
  • Mix things up with spices & flavours such as cinnamon, mint, ginger, vanilla extract, or cacao.
  • For extra sustenance, add a little bit of high-quality, low GI carbohydrate for an extra boost of energy and to keep you full for longer. For example, add 2 Tbsp rolled oats for extra sustenance.
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Winning smoothie tips

Here are some handy tips that will make life really easy in the mornings when you want to make the perfect smoothie at home:

  1. Frozen fruit is your best friend. If you have any fruit that's about to go off or is just a bit too ripe to enjoy on its own, chop it up into smallish chunks and freeze it in freezer-safe bags or containers. Frozen fruit is also often available all year round, at more affordable prices, and can often be more nutritious in terms of vitamin content if they've been frozen quickly and correctly. Frozen fruit does a great job of making your smoothies really nice and cold, which is of great advantage if you make one as a take-away breakfast (no cooler bag needed!).
  2. Believe it or not, frozen veggies are also great smoothie ingredients! If you have too many veggies in your fridge at the end of the week and they're going to go off sometime soon, wash, chop, and store them in freezer-safe bags or containers. Adding frozen veggies like spinach, kale, celery, and carrots to your smoothies will instantly add more fibre and goodness. Cook or steam beetroot, carrots, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes, and blend them before freezing them in ice trays for use in smoothies.
  3. Use the whole fruit and vegetable to make your smoothie. Use the skin and pulp of the fruit that you're using to make your smoothie to instantly maximize your fibre intake. The fibre found in fruit peels plays an important role in slowing down the rate at which fruit sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, thus contributing to more steady glucose levels, also keeping you fuller for longer.
  4. Ice trays are the best! As already mentioned, you can blend cooked veggies like beetroot, sweet potato, and carrots and freeze them in ice trays for use in smoothies. You can also use ice trays to freeze leftover coconut milk, orange juice, nut milk, coffee, or tea. Make sure to use different trays for different liquids, or better yet pop out the cubes when they are frozen and place into freezer-safe bags that are labelled properly.
  5. Make your own smoothie packs! Portion and pack some of your favorite smoothie ingredients in their own freezer-safe bag or container for a quick and easy way to make breakfast. All you will need to do is add the frozen ingredients to a blender along with a liquid, some protein, and whatever else your smoothie needs, and voila! A quick and easy brekkie will be ready in seconds.
  6. Get yourself a good-quality, high-speed blender. As tempting as it may be to buy a budget blender, you're not doing yourself any favours in the long run. Frozen fruit and ice blocks can wear down the blades and turning mechanism of poorly-made blenders very quickly, and before you know it you're going to need to buy a new one. Save up a bit and buy a proper blender. I really enjoy my Nutribullet, but there are many other really good-quality blenders out there too. Do your research and read online reviews before purchasing.
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Recipe

Total time: 10min

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A handful of small ice blocks
  • 1/2 cup water (as needed)

Method

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a glass, bowl, or take-away jar and enjoy with some of your favourite toppings.

Notes

Enjoy with toppings such as:
- Desiccated coconut
- Chia seeds
- Homemade granola
- Fresh mango

Summer Salad with a Fresh Citrus Dressing

Sunshine & Citrus

Here in South Africa, we’re somewhere in the middle of a beautiful hot summer. One of my summertime favorites here is Johannesburg is the late-afternoon thunderstorms that arrive every couple of days to cool down the earth after a few very hot days. Another favorite is weekend get-togethers with family and friends, which almost always comprise of a braai, abundant salads and roast veggies, swims in the pool, and ice cream for dessert. Ice-lollies, bicycle rides outside in the afternoon rain, holidays at the beach, and long afternoon naps – summer is great :)

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This is the season where we usually enjoy eating refreshing salads, unlike in winter where comforting stews and roasts usually make the cut. Summer salads can be so simple to prepare – cool, crisp herb leaves and chopped vegetables, all brought together with a light, refreshing dressing or plain olive oil. Add in a cooked grain, like millet or brown rice, plus a bit of protein and you’ve got a complete meal.

Today’s recipe is my take on a really simple salad that is packed with the goodness of all different leaves and veggies, accompanied by a tasty citrus dressing that makes the salad taste of summer. I found the cutest baby vegetables at Woolworths during the course of last week and just couldn't resist buying them. The fact that they're all miniatures isn't a make-or-break requirement for the recipe - normal radishes, carrots, and spring onions will do just fine (I just really loved that they were so tiny, it made for great photos). 

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The leaves that I used to make the salad were the Asian Baby Salad Leaves from Pick-n-Pay. The selection leaves, which included coriander, beetroot greens, and a whole lot of other greens that had a slightly bitter taste, really worked well with the radishes and spring onions, and contrasted with the sweeter citrus dressing. I had such fun photographing the salad and dressing, with their vibrant colours that make me think of summertime. There’s not much to say about all of the ingredients that I used to make the salad and dressing, but I have a few quick facts to encourage you to eat veggie-packed salads more often:

  • Vegetables are really good for you, full stop. They are packed with fibre, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients, which all play important roles in maintaining health and preventing disease in humans.
  • Eat the rainbow! Try and use a variety of different veggies of all different colours to make your salads. Different coloured vegetables contain different types of phytonutrients, many of which have been shown to be ‘superheroes’ when it comes to keeping you healthy and strong.
  • Eat with the season. It can be tricky to work out what fresh vegetables are in season when shopping at a supermarket like Woolworths or Pick-n-Pay (here in SA). Look out for tags on the label that say things like ‘in season’, ‘now in season’, ‘homegrown in SA’, and ‘product of ____’ to get an idea of the veggies that are grown locally and those that are imported from overseas. Choose to buy those that are in season, and substitute where possible. If you receive a weekly/monthly vegetable box from a local farmer, that’s great! You’ll more than likely have a variety of veggies on hand to work with that are in season.
  • Make your own dressing (or just keep it simple). By making your own salad dressing or vinaigrette you’ll avoid consuming the unnecessary sugar, less-healthy oils, and/or preservatives that are found in commercially produced alternatives. Even better - Keep it simple! Use extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar to add an extra dimension to your salads. Chop up herb leaves, such as mint, coriander, parsley, or chives to add extra flavour.
  • Mix it up a bit. Change up the proteins and carbohydrates that you use in full-on meal salads. Roasted and sliced chicken, beef strips, a boiled egg, goat's cheese, tofu or tempeh, legumes such as chickpeas or lentils – protein choices are wide and varied. Similarly, use brown rice, quinoa, millet, roasted sweet potato, or any other low GI carbohydrate to bulk up your salad. Be creative! You can’t really make a mistake when making salad :)
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Recipe

Total time: 25min

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 bag Baby Asian Salad Leaves (PnP)/Baby Herb Mix (Woolworths)
  • 4 large spring onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 large radishes
  • OR treat yourself and buy a box of Woolworths Baby Vegetables
  • 1 handful of onion/beetroot/alfalfa sprouts

For the dressing:

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 Tbsp freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: salt, pepper, and honey to taste

Method

To make the salad:

  1. Set out the baby herb leaves on a large plate or in a large salad bowl.
  2. Slice the spring onions, radishes, and carrots into thin round slices. Sprinkle over the salad leaves and gently toss to mix everything together.
  3. Sprinkle the sprouts over the top of the salad.
  4. Drizzle some fresh citrus dressing over the salad to serve.

To make the dressing:

  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Serve with the Summer Salad above.

Mango Sorbet

You scream, I scream...

Ice-cream. We all LOVE it but know that even too much of a good thing isn't always great for us. The word 'ICE-CREAM' is often associated with indulgence, treating oneself, and special occasions. Fruit, on the other hand, is more often associated with being healthy, fresh, and more acceptable for everyday consumption. Well, if you love ice-cream but are looking for a healthy, affordable, easy-to-prepare alternative, look no further. Today's post is inspired by a picture that Sarah Bell Nutrition posted on Instagram sometime in December of an easy mango and lime 'sorbet'. You can take a look at this post that she wrote earlier this week with a whole lot of delicious 'nice-cream' recipes that require nothing more than fruit, a few simple ingredients, and a good old food processor. I'm going to be giving the Banana, Coconut & Cacao recipe next week. 

So although today's recipe is not my own, I've been preparing it at least once a week because it's just so delicious. I decided that I have to have it on record here on Taste & See for future use, in case I forget about it by this time next year. This gorgeous summer fruit, which is available in season in South Africa between December and April, is one of the things that I look forward to each year. Fresh stone fruits, figs, mangoes, grapes, and litchis all bring back memories of childhood holidays at the coast. Summer fruit makes me think of sunshine, sand, and sticky faces. Some of the best memories if you ask me.

Today we'll be taking a look at the main ingredient in this recipe, the star of the show - Mango. Why should you be eating mango? And what is it made up of? Does it have any proven health benefits? You'll have to read on for these answers :)

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Some Background...

Mangos are one of the most popular fruits in the world. There are a number of different mango varieties that are available around the world at different times of the year [1]. Each variety has a unique flavour, texture, and colour. In South Africa the main areas for mango cultivation include Mpumulanga, Limpopo, and Kwa-Zulu Natal [2]. Mangos were first grown in India over 5000 years ago, but their seeds travelled to the Middle East, South America, and East Africa sometime around 300-400 A.D and have been grown all over the world since [3]. The main varieties that are grown here in South Africa include:

  • Tommy Atkins, which has a thick skin
  • Kent, which is green-yellow with a sweet, juicy, fibreless flesh
  • Keitt, which has an oval shape and a yellow skin with red blush
  • Sensation, which is smaller than the other varieties

Here's something fascinating that I didn't know: mangos are related to cashews and pistachios [3]. A mango has one long, flat seed that can be found right in the centre of the fruit, with a juicy flesh that surrounds it. Mango ripeness can't really be judged by colour, as with many other fruits. To determine mango ripeness all you need to do is gently squeeze it and determine whether it gives in slightly to the pressure, meaning that it is ripe, or whether it is firm, meaning that it is unripe [3]. A firm mango will easily ripen at room temperature after a few days, but if you would like to speed up the process, place the mango in a paper bag along with a banana at room temperature [3].

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How do I cut this thing?

Peeling and cutting a mango can be tricky business. They can be super juicy and downright messy, so finding an easy way to cut a mango is a real win. I found this brilliant video that should help you cut a mango without too much hassle [1].

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Nutrition & Health Benefits

One cup of chopped mango is approximately 100 calories [3]. Some of the most notable nutritional benefits of mango include its high vitamin C, vitamin A, and dietary fibre content [3]. One cup of fresh mango provides up to 100% of the daily value of vitamin C, which plays an important role in supporting healthy gums and teeth, proper wound healing, and collagen formation in the body [4]. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants and phytonutrients inhibit the oxidation of body cells by neutralising free radicals that would normally target lipids found in cell membranes [5]. Free radical damage is associated with oxidative stress and has been linked to numerous health problems, so we want to avoid it as much as possible. Mangos, like most other fruits, are a rich source of polyphenolic compounds, which also have antioxidative and/or anticarcinogenic benefits [5]. The main polyphenols found in mango pulp (the stuff that you normally eat) include:

  • Mangiferin, a polyphenol unique to mangos
  • Quercetin
  • Isoquercetin
  • Gallic acid
  • Ellagic acid
  • Beta-glucogallin

This article takes a look at the specific mechanism of action of mangiferin, and is really worth a read if you have an interest in biochemistry and nutrition :) Another interesting article that I found whilst doing research for this post is this one, which documents a study that was done to compare the effects of dietary supplementation of freeze-dried mango pulp with the effects of a hypolipidaemic drug, fenofibrate, and a hypoglycemic drug, rosiglitazone, in reducing body fat, altering glucose metabolism, and changing the lipid profile of mice that were on a high-fat diet [6]. Although this study was not conducted in humans, the results showed that freeze-dried mango supplementation was associated with reduced body fat percentage, improved glucose tolerance, lowered insulin resistance, and improved lipid profiles in the diet of the mice fed on a high-fat diet [6].

Even the mango seed, a waste product from the fruit, has potential health benefits [7]. This review takes a look at the composition of the mango seed kernel and analyses the possibility of using it as a nutritionally beneficial component in food products. Why the mango seed? Well, this waste product, which is usually tossed in the bin, has gained a special scientific interest of late thanks to its high content of bioactive compounds, which are associated with improvements in human health [7]. More research is needed before the processing and use of mango seeds will be used as a functional component in the food industry, but who knows, it could very well be a means of reducing environmental waste whilst imparting nutritional benefits to consumers :)

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Enough about that, now for the good stuff :) As I've already mentioned, I didn't come up with this recipe myself. For the original recipe (and a number of other DELICIOUS fruit-based nice-cream recipes, check out Sarah Bell Nutrition's blog here). I have, however, made a couple of changes to this version. I always loved mango & orange juice as a child, so I enjoy adding a little bit of freshly squeezed orange juice and some orange zest in place of lime. I hope that you enjoy this! It has already got a big thumbs up from my family and husband-to-be ;)


Recipe

Adapted from: Sarah Bell Nutrition

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 mango
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 Tbsp orange zest
  • A little bit of water

Method

  1. Peel & chop up the mango. Place it on a baking sheet or in a freezer-safe container lined with baking paper. Freeze.
  2. When your mango is frozen, simply place it in a food processor along with the orange zest and juice. Process until it has a creamy texture. Add a splash of water if necessary to help the processor along.

Notes:

  • For a 'frozen yoghurt' version, add 1 Tbsp of plain yoghurt to the mix. YUM!
  • The original recipe makes use of lime zest and juice (DELICIOUS), but I've been enjoying preparing a mango & orange version. Both are scrummy!

References

[1] Mango.org. Mango 101 [YouTube video on the Internet]. 2012 November 30. Available from: http://www.mango.org/Choosing-Using-Mangos/How-to-Cut-a-Mango.

[2] South Africa Travel Online. South African Mangos [Internet]. [date unknown] [cited 14 Jan 2017]. Available from: http://www.southafrica.to/nature/flora/mango/Mangoes.php.

[3] Mango.org. Mango Facts [Internet]. 2017 - [cited 14 Jan 2017]. Available from: http://www.mango.org/en/About-Mangos/Mango-Facts.

[4] Mango.org. National Mango Board Nutrition Messages [Internet]. [date unknown] [cited 14 Jan 2017]. Available from: http://www.mango.org/Mangos/media/Media/Documents/Research%20And%20Resources/Downloads/Industry/Market%20Support/Nutrition_Messages_Eng.pdf.

[5] Masibo M, He Q. Major Mango Polyphenols and Their Potential Significance to Human Health. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2008 Oct;7(4):309-19.

[6] Lucas EA, Li W, Peterson SK, Brown A, Kuvibidila S, Perkins-Vaezie P, Clarke SL, Smith BJ. Mango modulates body fat and plasma glucose and lipids in mice fed a high-fat diet. Br J Nutr. 2011 Nov;106(10):1495-505.

[7] Torres-Léon C, Rojas R, Contreras-Esquivel JC, Serna-Cock L, Belmares-Cerda RE, Aguilar CN. Mango seed: Functional and nutritional properties. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2016;55:109-17.

Beetroot Hummus

Can't beet this recipe...

This beetroot hummus is both beautiful and delicious. I've played a twist on a traditional hummus recipe simply by adding roasted, peeled beetroot to the food processor along with the other ingredients. This bold root vegetable adds colour and boosts the nutritional content of this yummy dip/spread. Normally I can't really stand the taste of beetroot, however using it as part of a dish such as this is a great way to get all of the goodness from the vegetable, whilst keeping its taste to a minimum. If you LOVE the taste of beetroot, or would like a brighter pink colour, simply add 2 roasted beetroots to the mix :) I was lucky enough to have some help making, photographing, and eating the end product.

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I was lucky enough to have some help  making, photographing, and eating the end product. Thanks Sonja :). The recipe really is simple and easy to make, and the hummus can be eaten in a variety of different ways - on seed crackers, with courgetti, as part of a vibrant salad, and more. If you make this recipe please tag @tasteandseeblog on Instagram and Facebook and share how you used the hummus :) I didn't have any tahini on hand at the time of making this recipe, so I toasted some sesame seeds over the stove before grinding them by hand using a mortar and pestle. This worked really well and gave the hummus a good flavour, so don't be too concerned if you don't have any tahini in the fridge. Toasted and ground sesame seeds work just fine.

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Beetroot

Beetroot is beautiful. There is no other vegetable that is able to impart such a vibrant pink/purple colour to pretty much everything it comes in contact with [1]. Beetroot can be eaten in many different ways – raw, roasted, boiled, pickled, and even juiced [1]. In fact, raw beetroot juice is an incredibly concentrated source of minerals and vitamins [1].

Some of its most notable health benefits include those associated with its folate, potassium, and polyphenol content [1]. Folate is essential for healthy cell development and prevention of anaemia, and potassium is important in regulating one’s heartbeat, blood pressure, and nerve function [1]. Beetroots contain a variety of bioactive polyphenols, antioxidants, and nitrates, which have been shown to contribute to lowering blood pressure and improving vascular health [2]. The betalain pigments found in beetroot display anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, making this starchy vegetable a hot topic in the world of nutrition and health research with a growing interest in its potential as a functional food [3]. Studies have shown that beetroot may play a beneficial role in treating conditions characterised by chronic inflammation [3]. In addition to this, recent studies have shown the potential benefits of beetroot ingestion in reducing the risk and improving clinical outcomes for conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and dementia [3].

Beetroot has the highest sugar contents of any vegetable and is used commercially, although not as extensively as sugar cane, to produce table sugar [1]. Interestingly enough, freshly boiled beetroot is nutritionally equal, if not superior, to the raw vegetable due to the fact that it has greater quantities of most minerals available for the body to absorb [1]. Although some water-soluble vitamins are lost, most vitamins are retained in almost equal amounts after cooking beetroot [1].

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Chickpeas

Chickpeas form part of the pulse family, which also includes lentils and a variety of different beans [1]. Chickpeas are round, about the size of a marble, and have a nutty flavour [1]. They are used extensively in Middle Eastern and Asian cooking in a variety of different ways [1]. Chickpeas are a crucial ingredient in traditional hummus, which is also made with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and tahini [1]. Nutritionally, chickpeas are a good source of manganese, iron, folate, and vitamin E [1]. Chickpeas can be ground into a flour that can be used to make dishes such as socca, or can be added to smoothies and baked goods to boost the nutritional content whilst not altering the overall flavour too much [4].

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Pulses

I’m glad to be sharing a bit of information about a member of this family before 2016 comes to an end, as 2016 was the year of the pulse :) Pulses are a nutritious and affordable alternative to meat thanks to their relatively high protein content, and although they do not contain a complete amino acid profile they are able to contribute sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids when paired with other plant-based foods such as whole grains, seeds, and nuts [1]. I will have to do an in-depth post on complementary proteins at some point, but for now, this link will have to do (thanks Wikipedia). 

Pulses are incredibly versatile ingredients that can be used in pretty much everything, from breakfast to dessert [4]. Lentils, beans, chickpeas and split peas can make meals go further, reducing the overall cost and fat content when used to substitute half of the meat in a dish, whilst boosting the nutritional content [4]. Pulses contain both insoluble fibre, which promotes regular bowel movements, and soluble fibre, which plays a role in reducing blood cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease [1]. The carbohydrate makeup of pulses is such that they have a relatively low GI, allowing them to be digested slowly and release steady levels of glucose into the blood following their consumption [1].

So what is the downside to including chickpeas and other pulses in one’s diet? Well, they can cause gassiness in some individuals due to their hard-to-digest resistant starch content. Most pulses, aside from split peas and lentils, require several hours of soaking in water before cooking in order both reduce their cooking time and reduce the indigestible starches that cause flatulence [1]. Interestingly enough, some sources suggest that adding herbs like fennel, sage, rosemary, lemon balm, and caraway can help prevent flatulence in some individuals, however, the evidence to support this is limited [1]. Another way to reduce the gassiness caused by legumes is to change the water a few times whilst dried pulses are left to soak, as well as draining and rinsing them thoroughly before cooking [5].

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Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, cooked
  • 1 medium beetroot, roasted
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp tahini (see note)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1-3 Tbsp water
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Method

For the chickpeas:

  1. Place 1 cup of dried chickpeas in a large bowl. Cover with water, cover, and allow to soak for ±12 hours. Rinse and change the water every 3-4 hours.
  2. After soaking for ±12 hours rinse the chickpeas thoroughly. Place into a pot, add sufficient water to cook, add a sprinkle of salt, and bring to the boil. Cook for ±45 minutes, until the chickpeas are soft and cooked.
  3. Rinse well after cooking and allow to cool.

For the beetroot:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Chop the leaves off the beetroot before rinsing, drying it, and wrapping it in tinfoil.
  3. Place on a tray in the oven and allow to roast for ±45 minutes. Allow to cool before peeling the skin off.

For the hummus:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor. Blend for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides at regular intervals to make sure that everything is incorporated well. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).
  2. Store the hummus in a clean, sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Notes:

  • If you don't have any tahini (sesame seed 'paste'), but have sesame seeds on hand, toast 1/2 cup of sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium-high heat until toasted. Make sure to stir/mix them around whilst they're roasting, and keep an eye on them at all times, to prevent them from burning. Once they are toasted, allow to cool before placing the seeds in a mortar. Going by hand using a pestle until the seeds release their oils and become paste-like. Use 1 tsp olive oil to help you a bit if needed.
  • Canned chickpeas will also work perfectly, and will help to make this recipe even more simple and easy to prepare. Just make sure to rinse them out really well before using.

References

[1] Clasen L, Kramer P, McWhirter A, editors. Food's That Harm, Foods That Heal. 2nd ed. South Africa: Heritage Publishers (Pty) Limited, 2000. 400 p.

[2] Keogh J. Nutrition and vascular health. Nutr Diet. 2013;70:3-4.

[3] Clifford T, Howatson G, West DJ, Stevenson EJ. The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2015;7:2801-22.

[4] The World’s Most Versatile Superfood [poster] 

[5] Legumes – Start a Healthy Habit [poster]