Develop Your Intuition

The other day I read this lovely quote. It made me stop and think. This is how it went:

“A bird in a tree never fears the branch will break because her faith is not in the branch but in her own wings”

Two thoughts entered my mind. Firstly, how wonderful the quote is; how it boils down to self esteem and confidence in our own ability, and how security and happiness must come from within and be centred in ourselves and not from others or dependent on external factors.

Secondly, the quote made me question when we learn to trust our wings? The answer is simple. We are all born with that trust; deeply rooted in our blueprint. As toddlers we explore the world with little fear until something or someone triggers insecurity and fear. Throughout life, we then reinforce fear every time we experience small set backs in life, and we are taught to trust and rely on external factors and people (our grandparents/parents/teachers at school/friends/pets). “Mummy is so proud of you” rather than “You should be so proud of yourself”. And with the passing of time many of us forget to trust and pride in ourselves – living more for others or for external pats on the back (the big house/big pay check/recognition).

What is interesting is that the likelihood of external factors changing; or people leaving; or being wrong or misguided is high. Let’s face it. If you look around yourself, now, how much of what surrounds you has changed during your life? A lot right? I thought so.

Change is phenomenally important, and at times it can be hard. Change drives new paths, creates opportunity and opens the mind. Change shakes the earth beneath your feet and may leave you empty handed and scared and scarred. This is when you need your wings.

When you find yourself in between; that distinct place where your old self and new self are balancing on a thin wire. This in between space is where change begins. It is where your inner voice will clear its throat, dust itself off and whisper, if it can’t shout, for your wings to open and fly. If you trust it to.

Don’t rush this stage, as tempting as it might be. Turn off the clock watching and the impatience and let your intuition guide you. Trust your wings; they are there and will carry you.

Guilt Free Avocado Chocolate Cake

FinishedWhat would it mean to sink your teeth into a moist, warm piece of chocolate heaven knowing that every bite contains only healthy ingredients? Imagine leaving the dinner table feeling full and not bloated?

This cake is amazing. It is moist, chocolaty, naturally sweet and packed full off great ingredients – and I felt great after eating it (where I usually would feel heavy and, yes, guilty!).

Gluten free, egg free, refined sugar free…. How you ask, will that EVER be tasty? So simple.

Bananas, avocado, cocoa powder, honey or agave syrup, oats (yes, my favourite ingredient in most things), rice flour (or gluten free alternative), coconut flour, coconut oil, vanilla, pinch of salt – and Bob’s your uncle. Enjoy – and please let me know how much you enjoyed it!

Guilt Free Avocado Chocolate Cake

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1.5 ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey (agave syrup/maple syrup can be used instead)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml – when dry) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup (250ml) unsweetened almond milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) gluten free flour
  • 2 tbsp (125ml) coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) cocoa powder
  • Good pinch of sea salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 175C – grease/line a baking tray – what ever shape you like really.
  2. In a large bowl, mush up the bananas and avocado well
  3. Add vanilla, honey (or syrup) and melted coconut oil and stir well
  4. Pour the almond milk into a cup and add the table spoon of vinegar – let it sit there for a minute or two – then add to the large bowl and stir well
  5. Tip in salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda as well as the two kinds of flour, oats and cocoa powder. Give it all a really good mix to combine.
  6. Pour into your prepared tin/tray and place in the oven – leaving it to cook for roughly 45 minutes – a skewer inserted should come out clean. The cake will crack and that is great. Not a problem.
  7. Once cooked leave to cool – and serve with natural yogurt or plain.
  8. Scrumptious!

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Simplicity of Tomatoes

Tomato

“Once you have de-seeded the tomatoes then proceed to…..” – do these words make your stomach turn?🙂

For some reason the de-seeding of tomatoes had become a horrible task in my mind; something cumbersome and difficult. Something to avoid. Any recipe that required this method was, well, adapted…

Then the other day I realised what many of you probably already are aware of; de-seeding tomatoes is so very simple. So simple.

As I sliced open the tomato, the light pink inner flesh revealing itself I took a few minutes to actually observe the tomato – to marvel at how it is composed and to see the intricate details of the flesh, the seeds and the skin. Suddenly the de-seeding process was very clear.

A tomato has clever departments, if you will, and when you slice it in half, or in quarters, you notice pockets within it. Each pocket is full of seeds and you can slip a little finger into each pocket and gently scoop out the seeds. Very pain-free, very quick and beautifully simple.

When I told my daughter, of 10 years, she laughed and said “Did you not know that mum? I always use my tongue and suck them out of the pockets”… Made me smile. Children have an amazing gift; exploring while keeping things simple.

Morale of the story: Slow down and enjoy every element of cooking – especially  exploring and learning about your ingredients.

What was I cooking? A cold tomato salsa – de-seeded and chopped tomatoes, finely chopped red onion, garlic, chilli, olive oil and salt.Cool in fridge and dollop generously either onto   burgers or on grilled ciabatta bread that has been rubbed with fresh garlic. On top of the salsa you can then throw some buffalo mozzarella and scatter some basil. Perfect summer BBQ starter (no pictures as it was all eaten way too quickly!)

Take a look at the tomato pictures below and enjoy the next time you are advised to de-seed a tomato!

Pocketspockets

Banana and Oat Pancakes

DSC_0067

People always laugh at my putting oats into everything – but I do.

I add it to savoury dishes, to desserts, in drinks and, as this recipe will show, in breakfast or brunch pancakes. Why? Well, rather than using flour which leaves me feeling bloated and uncomfortable most of the time, oats fill me up, leave no nasty side effects and have very little flavour which means they can be used in most recipes. Oats are high in fibre and antioxidants however they do contain gluten, unless you buy gluten-free oats. The gluten content is very low though.

Eating oats carries many benefits, amongst others:

– stabilising blood sugar
– enhancing immune system
– removing cholesterol from the blood system

(read more here)

Bananas are, like oats, a great source of fibre and naturally sweet which means no added sugar is needed.

This recipe developed because we, as a family, had the habit of always eating pancakes together on a Sunday morning. Life is so busy, especially with three children and all that comes with them, and Sunday mornings were our quiet time. Our family time. But it was very sugar filled and ultimately we agreed that this must change. So the challenge was to create a treat, in the children’s eyes, that would be healthy. Banana and oat pancakes were born!

Banana and Oat Pancakes (makes three small, round pancakes)

1 ripe banana (the more ripe, the sweeter the pancakes)

1 egg

2 tbsp whole rolled oats (or any oats you have)

Coconut butter for frying (coconut butter is magic! Read more here)

  • Mash the banana in a bowl with a fork
  • Crack the egg and add it to the banana – stir the two together
  • Add the oats – if you prefer more dry pancakes you can add three tablespoons
  • Heat a teaspoon of coconut butter in a frying pan
  • Once melted and the pan is hot, add the pancake batter creating three round pancakes using a large spoon
  • Fry for a few minutes then flip over and fry for a further minute or so.
  • Transfer to a plate and eat either as they are or drizzled with Greek yogurt, honey and some goji berries (or any berries for that matter).
  • They will be fluffy, sweet and keep you satisfied for many hours. Enjoy.

Coconut butterRaw pancakesready

Yum - a sprinkle of shredded coconut.

Mango and Spinach Smoothie

Breakfast Smoothie

I have been trying to eat different kinds of breakfasts lately as I was getting bored with porridge and fruit.  As I started looking into healthier, yet still filling, alternatives, I was led down the smoothie route.

This one is a nice way to start off as it is mild and does not contain anything very scary…I guess spinach might be scary for some, especially when combined with the word breakfast, but give it a go. For those of you with children, who do not eat a lot of fruit or veg, this is a sure winner. The colour might put them off – healthy green – however the taste will have them asking for more. Let them try a teaspoon and see what happens…

As for health, spinach is one of the greatest leafy greens (and can be substituted for kale in this recipe if you prefer). It belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family (also known as goosefoot), a family of nutritional powerhouses including beets, chard and quinoa. It shares a similar taste profile with these two other vegetables; the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavour of chard. Spinach is rich in iron which, as you probably know, plays a central role in the function of red blood cells which help in transporting oxygen around the body, in energy production and DNA synthesis. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health and it is difficult to find vegetables richer in vitamin K than spinach. Have a read here for more details (BBC Good Food). A great food to fill up on for anyone but especially if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Mango is another super healthy element to this breakfast. It improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, it is rich in iron, is said to improve concentration and memory and last, but certainly not least, Vitamin E, which helps to regulate sex hormones and boosts sex drive, is abundantly present in mangoes… Read more here (Health Mango).

So feed it to your children before exams or simply in the mornings to help them concentrate, feed them to yourself to improve digestion and maybe slip your partner some….:-)

Mango and Spinach Smoothie

1 banana (if very ripe it will make smoothie sweeter)

1 apple

2 handfuls of fresh spinach (or kale)

1 large handful of frozen mango (if you buy fresh, then cut into wedges and freeze)

100ml of cold water (if smoothie seems too thick simply add a bit more)

  • Slice the banana and apple and put them in a tall blender
  • Add mango, spinach and water
  • Blend for a good 2-3 minutes to ensure a smooth drink
  • Pour into a nice glass…makes it look tastier!
  • Enjoy!

(You can add other fruit – I threw in a few strawberries after I had taken the first picture…hence the small red dots in the glass)

Fruit DSC_0011 (3)Yum

 

Quinoa and vegetable stuffed aubergines

Quinoa and vegetable aubergine

 

It’s been a while, a long while in fact, and I have missed my blog, my food photography and being inspired by fresh ingredients. A walk to the local farmers market today, however, hit the spot! Luckily I was hungry and decided I would buy my lunch from the fresh vegetable stall….

Aubergine. I was first introduced to this fruit (yes, fruit!) by my Sicilian husband. It is a staple food there but not so common in Denmark where I am from. I have grown to absolutely love it and eat it a few times a week now. It is very versatile and can be used in lasagne, baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella to make a “parmigiana”, simply grilled and served with meat or baked and made into dips. Stunning.

Although it’s technically a fruit (a berry, to be exact), the aubergine is used as a vegetable. It’s native to South-East Asia, but is grown all over the world, and there are many different varieties, including the bulbous, glossy, deep purple zepplin-like types common to Mediterranean cuisine; the small, tubular Asian types; the small, plump and ivory examples (hence ‘eggplant’, its name in the United States and Australia); or the scarcely bigger than a pea varieties grown in Thailand (BBC Good Food).

In terms of health, look no further! Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamins B1, B6 and potassium. In addition they are high in the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese. Aubergines are furthermore high in fibre and low in fat and therefore recommended for those managing type 2 diabetes or managing weight concerns. There is a great article to read on all the health benefits here (BBC Good Food).

Quinoa is magic too (click on link to read more)….and coconut oil is amazing! I have replaced all my cooking oils with it and even have it in my coffee!! Read why here). Finally kale (click to read) – yum!! This recipe is a winner both in taste and health!

So let’s get to the recipe shall we? I tell you – it is the best lunch I have had in a long time and was relatively quick to make.

Quinoa and vegetable stuffed Aubergine (serves 2)

1 tsp raw coconut oil

1 medium-sized onion – chopped in small pieces

1 large aubergine (read link above for good tips on buying quality ones)

A little olive oil (to drizzle over aubergine)

3 closed cup mushrooms – sliced

2 cloves of garlic – chopped thinly

2 large handfuls of kale

5 cherry tomatoes – sliced in half

A splash of water

Good pinch of sea salt

1/2 a cup of quinoa – boiled

1/3 of a pack of feta cheese

    • Heat oven to 200C.
    • Slice the aubergine in half lengthways. I did not leave the stem intact but you can do. It makes it prettier if you are serving for guests. Using a small knife, cut a border inside each aubergine half. Using a spoon, scoop out the aubergine flesh. You will be left with two shells – brush these with a little olive and place in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes to soften them, then remove from oven.
    • Place a pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil.
    • Finely chop the onions and garlic, as well as the aubergine flesh, and add it to the melted coconut oil. Let it cook and soften a little – 4-5 minutes time – then add a splash of water (this will essentially steam the vegetables rather than overly fry them).
    • Tip in the sliced mushroom, tomatoes and raw kale and let it all simmer under a lid.
    • In a separate pot add some water and the quinoa and bring to boil. Let it simmer for 15 minutes before draining using a sieve. Once drained, add the cooked quinoa to the vegetables and season with the sea salt.
    • Break the feta cheese into pieces and mix into the vegetable/quinoa pot. Give it a good stir.
    • Pile the vegetable and quinoa stuffing into the shells and re-heat for 5-10 minutes. If you are a real cheese lover you can sprinkle some more feta or mozzarella on top and let it melt.
    • Serve as it is or with a green salad and a piece of grilled meat or fish.
    • ENJOY!

Stuffed AubergineStuffed Aubergine

 

The scent of Christmas – Mulled Wine

That time of year again! Hope you are enjoying the first days of Christmas.

I will be making this at the weekend…

Really enjoy the process and the scent that it leaves in the house. For children, if you boil the red wine rather than keep it on really low heat, you will eradicate the alcohol. This drink can therefore be served to them aswell…(or just heat some plain ribena – that is gorgeous warm!)🙂

Click on the link below to be taken to the recipe.

The scent of Christmas – Mulled Wine.