Chocolate Custard Porridge

I came up with this quick little breakfast treat recipe last winter, and as the cold mornings have slowly been creeping in on us yet again I figured it was time to bring it out once more.

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We eat porridge most days during the winter, it is so warm and satisfying on a cold morning. It is quick to make, full of minerals, complex carbs, soluble and insoluble fibre to keep your large intestines happy…..and MEGA BONUS it’s “uber-scroogy” :-).

This winter I am changing my method ever so slightly. I am using whole rolled oats rather than the instant ones and I am soaking the oats over night.

Whole rolled oats are simply less processed than the instant ones and when it comes to food, I truly believe that the closer it is to it’s natural form when you buy it the better. Sure, you are going to soak, cook, mush, mix and mingle it all but at least you are in control.

Soaking the oats makes them cook quicker in the morning; important point number one when there are little people saying, “lets get up and have breakfast Mum, your taking too long”. Important point number two –  it activates the phytase enzyme and begins the process of breaking down the grain. This makes them easier to digest and decreases the phytic acid which binds minerals and enzymes in your body.

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One more quick tip before we get to the recipe, I have started adding a knob of butter to my porridge in morning :-). It adds a little good healthy fat to the meal which as we know, aids the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and provides the building blocks for brain and nerve cells.

Also butter is a good dietary source of vitamin D. If it is pastured raised that is, which in New Zealand thankfully all our butter is. Vitamin D is critical for the absorption of minerals, particularly calcium. So the vitamin D then becomes anther factor fighting against the mineral binding powers of the phytic acid.

on a little side note, the more I study nutritional science and health, the more I am amazed at how simple and yet complex it all is. We truly were designed to eat a varied diet, and more often than not, things that our ancestors did out of tradition or habit or whatever, have proven to have massive health benefits. Just as people and communities work together better when they help each other out, so do vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Learning the art of FOOD COMBINING could be the key to thriving health.

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So lets get to the recipe:

Chocolate Custard Porridge

  • 1 cups whole rolled oats – soaked overnight in water
  • 1/2 TBSP Butter
  • 1 TBSP Fair-trade Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp of salt – or to taste
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water

Drain the soaking water off the oats and put them into a pot. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer and stir for 5 minutes until the oats are super soft and drowning in thick chocolatey sauce.

 

I like to think of porridge as a blank canvas, much like toast. It is not meant to be eaten as is, though I like it that way as well, but spice it up a little with some awesome toppings.

I like chia seeds for protein and omega – 3’s, some fruit (banana goes great with this chocolate porridge) and some natural yogurt for protein, extra calcium and a does of probiotics.

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Comment and share how you like your oats. What other awesome oaty ideas are out there to make WINTER BREAKFAST amazing???

 

Homemade Baked Beans and Sausages

“Beans, beans are good for your heart! The more you eat, the more you….. ” Well I am sure you all know the rest of that one, but it doesn’t have to be the case.

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Prepared with time and care there is no reason why beans need cause any more digestive (or social) discomfort than any other food. The trouble is, in our fast paced instant world, we often forget the tradition, the art and the benefit of taking things slowly.

Lentils, legumes and grains are steeped in controversy nowadays, some saying they are not fit to be eaten while others praise them. The truth remains though, ancient cultures have lived on diets heavily dependent on these things for a generations. One size does not fit all when it comes to food but in most cases, with a bit of understanding on how to prepare them they can be not only good to eat but also beneficial.

The biggest issue with beans (and most grains, seeds, lentils and nuts) is that they have been “designed to survive”. This means they have been given natural defense mechanisms that help them to avoid digestion when consumed by animals or humans. So when they eventually see the light of day again, they can carry on their merry way and sprout and grow as if nothing has happened.

It all gets quite complex if you really start looking into the science of it all but the long and short of it is this:

  • Beans contain phytates/phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which prevent them from being digested efficiently.
  • The enzyme phytase is needed to deactivate phytate/phytic acid
  • Beans contain their own naturally occurring phytase which needs to be activated
  • Soaking and sprouting activates phytase which helps to deactivate phytates/phytic acid making them more digestible and nutritious.

The human digestive system produces enzymes to break down foods, but we do not produce a lot of phytase, and some people produce more than others. This is why soaking and activating the naturally occurring phytase is so important. Interestingly, some lactobacilli bacteria also produce phytase, so having a healthy gut/microbiome could mean you may digest beans better than the next person.

Phytates/phytic acid, when not deactivated, binds up minerals and nutrients so that we can not digest them. Instead they will just be passed out of the body. This can lead to mineral deficiencies and other malnourishment conditions.

Phytic acid also binds up or deactivates our bodies own enzymes for metabolizing protein and carbohydrates. This means that food that would normally be broken down in the stomach and small intestines can passed into the large intestines relatively whole. It is then fermented by our gut bacteria and produces gas, so we end up with bloating and digestive discomfort.

Beans are a great, affordable food but they need to be prepared right. There are different methods out there, so play around and see what works, but basically a safe guideline is this:

  • Soak beans in warm slightly acidic (a dash of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, whey etc) water for at least 12 hours.
  • Drain, rinse and cook SLOWLY in unsalted water until soft
  • Use or freeze as desired

So get some beans soaking and try this delicious Autumn Harvest inspired recipe:-

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Smoked Paprika Baked Beans with Capsicum and Sausages

1 red onion – diced
3 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 carrot – diced
splash of olive oil
3 red capsicums – roughly sliced
6 good quality butchers sausages
2 cups of cooked beans – I used haricot beans
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
optional – 1/2 tsp ground kelp
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 TBSP brown sugar
2-3 cups Tomato Passata
optional – 1/2 cup diced bacon (YUM!)

Saute the onion, garlic and carrots in the oil until lightly browned than transfer to a deep sided oven dish. Brown off the sausages and the capsicums in the same pan and add to the dish. Sprinkle over the beans, paprika,bay leaves, vinegar, salt/pepper, sugar and passata. Stir everything then cover and bake for 1 1/2-2 hours in a moderate oven.

 

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TIPS:

  • Serve these beans up for a cosy dinner with a big side of greens. Vitamin C has been shown to counteract the effects of phytic acid which is why a side of greens and the capsicums in the dish are a great combination.
  • Vinegar has been shown to increase the uptake of minerals which is why the balsamic in this dish is important. Not just for flavour but also to help counter the effect of mineral binding phytic acid.
  • Make a big batch and save left overs in portion size lots in the freezer for a quick meal of beans on toast

Comment and share how your bean cooking goes. Do you have any tricks that really make beans sing?

 

The Art of Constructing a BALANCED Smoothie

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How many times have you woken in the morning, determined to make a change, determined to start “eating healthy”???

So you make yourself a breakfast smoothie, because that’s what all the fit healthy people on Instagram do right?

You drink it down and feel completely righteous for about an hour and half, then give in to a carb and sugar loaded snack because you are actually just down-right starving!!!!

This is often the case because the smoothie is lacking one of the three macronutrients or is too high in sugar with not enough fibre. Smoothies made with a whole lot of high sugar fruit, sweetened yogurt and milk do little to keep you full, rather they give your blood sugar one big hit and an equally big drop an hour later.

Well we have all been there and it started me thinking more carefully about what we are really trying to achieve by having a smoothie. We want NUTRITION ie. a morning hit of vegetables and fruit that we wouldn’t get from toast or wheatbix. We want CONVENIENCE, something quick to make and easy to consume on the go. And we want AFFORDABILITY, it’s just breakfast after all. We don’t want to have to take out a second mortgage when toast IS an option. And last but probably the most important, we want SATIETY (that satisfying feeling of fullness).

So here are my tips for making a satisfyingly filling, nutrient loaded and completely affordable breakfast smoothie.

First things first – make it BIG enough!!!!! You wouldn’t expect half a piece of toast to keep you running all morning, and neither will a tiny half-glass kids sized smoothie. Everyone will be different but I need a good 500ml smoothie at least. Make it a decent size and take your time to enjoy it.

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Now for the actual “nuts and bolts”…

As a base for my smoothies I have three keys ingredients:-

  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 cup of natural yogurt
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds

The banana gives sweetness, soluble and insoluble fibre and helps bind it all together and make it creamy and delicious.

The yogurt balances the flavour with a nice “tang” and adds some good nutrients like calcium and probiotics. Try coconut yogurt if you are dairy intolerant, or maybe coconut cream or nut milk.

The chia seeds add fibre, protein, and omega-3’s along with some vitamins and minerals. If I have none of these in the pantry a handful of rolled oats or raw nuts go just as well.

To this base you need to add some good healthy fat, this is to keep you feeling satisfied and full and to help the metabolism of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat also keeps our brain happy and functioning well. Your brain is largely made up of saturated fat, as are your cell membranes and hormones, so giving your body what it needs by adding them into your diet just makes sense. I would usually add 1/2 an avocado or 1 dessertspoon of extra virgin coconut oil. Another option is to add in a handful of raw nuts, almonds are great and cashews make it super creamy.

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Macey knows how important healthy fat is….. he eats it by the handful!!!! Little mischief stealing coconut oil

Now we need the colour and flavour components. This is where we get to bulk up the vitamin and antioxidant load. Try:-

  • 1/2-1 cup of blueberries – I always keep a bag of frozen ones in the freezer
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach, silverbeet or kale
  • 1 cup of fresh mango or pineapple

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Lastly, a bit of liquid content and all you need is water, seriously. So  many recipes call for milk or nut milks which you can absolutely use, but with everything else in this smoothie they are unnecessary and frankly, just bump up the overall cost. Especially if you are using nut milk.

You can always add in any of the optional extras like protein powder, raw egg, greens powder or what I am enjoying at the moment, LIFESTREAM Sprouted Superfood Powder.

sprout superfood

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So the keys here are:-

  • Make it BIG enough
  • Include all the macronutrients –  carbohydrates, protein and fat
  • Include plenty of fibre to fill you up and slow the absorption of glucose
  • Use vegetables and fruit as flavour and bulk, rather than relying on milks and flavoured yoghurts.
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Try this one – 1 banana, 1 TBSP Pic’s peanut butter, 1 TBSP cocoa powder, pinch of salt, 1 tsp LIFESTREAM sprouted superfoods, 1/2 cup natural yoghurt, 4 dates and some milk – its decadant and delish ❤

Comment and let me know what your favourite smoothie combo is….

Lacto-fermented Red Onions

 

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My life over the past couple of years has been full of bursts of “lacto-fermenting“! I ferment everything in sight for awhile and then forget about it, only to get back on the band wagon again a month or so later when I get a craving for sauerkraut (yeah that is right, I actually get cravings for that stuff, crazy I know).

Anyway, my fermenting victim this time was some beautiful sweet red onions. I realized they were one thing I hadn’t tried fermenting while I was watching Dad making traditional pickled onions with his homemade cider vinegar. Yum.

Lacto-fermented onions are similar to a vinegar pickled onion in flavour, but I would say a little more subtle. They have a mildly sour flavour, but not that real vinegary punch of pickles. The bonus of them is that the  lactobacillus bacteria, naturally occurring in dairy products and on the surface of fruits and vegetables, have eaten up the sugars and produced lactic acid along with other beneficial enzymes and vitamins…

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.” Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions

Lacto-fermented Red Onions
Makes 2 medium sized jars

• 4 red onions
• 3 tsp salt (I like Himalayan pink salt)
• 3 cups of cold water (It can be a good idea to use cooled boiled water)

Slice the red onions as thickly or thinly as you like and pack into clean jars. Mix the salt into the water poor over the onions. Make sure the onions are completely covered by the brine as lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic (requiring an absence of oxygen) process. Put a lid on the jars and leave to sit at room temperature for 4-10 days. Open the jars once a day to release any gases that have built up. Store them in the fridge and they will be good for months.

 

The amount of time you ferment your onions for will depend on the air temperature. I left mine on the bench for 10 days and they are delicious! So the best bet is to just taste them from time to time and move them to the fridge or cold dark place once they reach a taste that you enjoy.

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So far we have eaten these for breakfast with eggs and mushrooms on toast, for brunch on a Saturday in a bacon butty, added into a fresh coriander and tomato salsa to go with chicken for tea and just on good ol’ crackers with cheese. They are great and you can literally add them in where ever you would use onion.

The fun thing about wild ferments like this is that you never know exactly what you are going to get. Interestingly enough, I made two jars of onions, one turned out great and one started really bubbling and getting a rather alcoholic smell to it. On the tenth day I tried both and one was delicious but the bubbly one really did taste a bit odd. At some point in the process some stray organism must have made it’s way into this jar and taken it down a whole other fermentation route. I didn’t like the taste or smell so unfortunately this jar went in the compost. Ya win some and lose some right? 🙂

Red Velvet Bliss Balls – gluten and dairy-free

A treat snack food made with healthy fat and vitamin rich vegetables??? Who would say NO to that? Not me. 🙂

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These gluten/dairy-free little beauties look so decadent, are deliciously soft, almost “moussey” and are just the perfect amount sweet.

They are made with beetroot which gives them their “red velvet” color, with the added benefit of loading them up with beta-carotene or provitamin A.

Beta-carotene is found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables like kale, carrots, tomatoes and beetroot, and is partly what gives them their color. Beta-carotene is converted by the body into Vitamin A which is essential for:

  • Healthy eyesight
  • Immune function – particularly involving the mucous membranes, ie the respiratory system. So those who suffer frequent sinus infections, sore throat etc could really benefit.
  • The bodies ability to lay down/create new cells. Skin, muscle, bones…. they all require good levels of vitamin A

You often hear about the risk of taking too much vitamin A and it becoming toxic to the body, particularly if you are pregnant.

The benefit of getting your vitamin A from plants in the form of beta-carotene instead of from animal sources (retinol) is that the body will only convert what it needs into active vitamin A (retinol). This means it is almost impossible to reach toxic levels, you would literally have to eat kilos of vegetables a day and even then you wouldn’t overdose, your skin might just change color.

I also added some delicious extra virgin coconut oil to this recipe. Coconut oil has health benefits all of its own and it helps to hold the bliss balls together but the key reason I added it to this recipes is that the body requires fat to absorb vitamin A.

So along with the fibre and omega-3’s from the chia seeds, these balls are the perfect little energy giving snack.

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Red Velvet Bliss Balls

2 medium sized beetroot
1 ½ cups dates
2 big TBSP Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Big pinch of salt
2 TBSP cocoa powder, plus extra to roll them in
½ cup Chocolate chips
½ cup Black Chia Seeds
½ cup Psyllium husks
Simmer the beetroot in a pot with some water until they are tender, remove the skins if desired. Add the dates to the pot and let them sit in the water for about 10 minutes to soften. Drain off the water and puree the beets and dates together. Mix in the coconut oil until melted then add all the dry ingredients. Mix well then sit the mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up enough to roll into balls. Roll and coat in the extra cocoa powder. Store them in the fridge or freezer to keep them firm.

 

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Comment or like below if you enjoy this recipe, or if you have used beetroot in your own sweet treats before. XXX

Spinach and Herb Popovers

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These are my own version of a recipe I saw on Jamie Oliver’s foodtube the other day. I used what I had but stole the concept, ie. a cross between a fritter and a scone, cooked in a frying pan. It feels like camping, old school “billy scones”! Yum
The trick with these is you can’t rush the cooking time. Because they are a a thicker consistency than a fritter and cooked in an open pan, they need to be done slowly over low heat so you don’t end up with raw middles and burnt bottoms 😀
For one serving: (about 4 pop overs)
1 cup shredded spinach
handful of shredded herbs ( I used fresh basil and oregano)
1 big free range egg
1/2 cup flour
big pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 heaped tablespoon of cottage cheese (you can substitute with a handful of grated cheese and a dash of milk if you don’t have cottage cheese)
Mix together, scoop up big spoonfuls and cook in a fry pan with some olive oil over a low heat. Leave them to cook for about 3 minutes and then “pop them over” and cook the other side for a few minutes until they feel firm and cooked through. Eat them up while they are warm, or freeze them to reheat for a quick snack later on.

While these were cooking I prepared a couple of jars of red onions in a Himalayan salt brine. I am going to leave these on the bench to lacto-ferment over the next week…. will let you know how delish they are when they are ready.

Anyone else every fermented red onions? I have done cabbage, ie sauerkraut, a Caribbean style chutney and beetroot (delicious) before but not onions…. so we will see how they go.
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Courgette, Cream Cheese and Tomato on toast

The perfect little summer breakfast .

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Another courgette recipe!!! It’s called “seasonal eating” folks and it’s right at the heart of The Health Conscious Scrooge philosophy:-
IT’S HEALTHY – there are way more nutrients in a freshly picked, in season vegetable than one grown out if season or shipped across the globe.
IT’S SCROOGY – in season produce is always more affordable.

I came up with this wee combo a couple of weeks back, and have been making sure I have cream cheese in the fridge ever since. It’s so tasty and quick, and what a way to get some vegetables into your breakfast!
Use a peeler and shave some courgette into a bowl, drizzle it with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Spread a crispy bit of toast with a thick layer of cream cheese and top with the courgette mix and some thick slices of a super ripe tomato!
It’s that quick! Give it a go

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