Thursday, 11 February 2016

Growing Basil From Cuttings

Do you grow basil from cuttings?

To be honest I never knew you could.  I picked some basil from the garden the other day and did not use it all so it sat on the bench in a glass of water for a few days waiting for another dish that needed it.  
But then it got forgotten and next thing you know it is sending out roots.  Well I'll be...

Why I have been growing it from seed and waiting so long for it to grow I don't know.  Now that I know this work I will be getting some other cuttings going as well so that I have a constant supply of basil without it going to flower.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Sugar Free Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Brownies

This was such an easy recipe and just as tasty as other brownies I have made in the past although no where near as sweet.  It is something I think you could serve to sugar lovers and they would never know the difference unless you told them.  This brownie is more cakey than gooey but still hits the spot.

Sugar Free Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Brownies

2 c Dextrose
4 Eggs
250 g Unsalted butter - Melted and cooled
1 1/4 c Flour
1/2 c Cocoa
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
100 g Macadamia - Chopped and toasted

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (160 fan forced), grease and line a 22 cm square cake tin.
Beat the eggs and dextrose together until light and fluffy.  Gently mix in your melted butter then sift in your flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir to combine.  Finally fold in your macadamias and pout the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until cooked in the middle.  Cool completly in the tin before removing and cutting into squares.

Serve with another dusting of cocoa and whipped cream.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Kefta - Lamb Meatballs And Fresh Tomato Sauce

This is a great dish for this time of year when tomatoes are plentiful and full of flavour.
Traditionally in Morocco Lamb is used but you could use any other type of mince.


1 Bunch of Coriander
1/2 Bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley
1 kg Lamb Mince
1 Tbs Ground Cumin
1 Tbs Sweet Paprika
80 ml Olive Oil
1 Large Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 kg Ripe Tomatoes
2 Tsp Salt 

Chop half of the coriander and all of the parsley finely and place in a large bowl with the mince, half of cumin, half of the paprika, 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper.  Mix well with your hands and then roll into 4 cm meatballs.  Place on a tray, cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Meanwhile peel your tomatoes by cutting a shallow cross in the base of each and submerging them one at a time in a bowl of boiling water for 1 minute.  Left them out with a slotted spoon and peel away the skin, dice and set aside. Finely dice your onion and finely slice your garlic and set aside.

Fry your meatballs in batches in a little of the oil until they are browned all over and set aside.  Then reduce the heat to medium, add the rest of the oil and cook the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent.  Add the remaining paprika and cumin and stir for 1 minute before adding the diced tomatoes and the second teaspoon of salt.  Cook for 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken and some of the liquid to evaporate then add the meatballs and remaining chopped coriander and stir together cooking for a final 5 minutes.
Serve with couscous.

I served ours up with couscous that had fresh mint, feta and 2 tbs of currants re hydrated which although not sugar free was still very low sugar once soaked in boiling water that is discarded.

Do you have a favourite meatballs recipe?  What part of the world does it originate from?

Monday, 8 February 2016

Sugar Free Nutty Chocolate Granola

This is a recipe I have adapted from one of Sarah Wilson's.  I have added rolled oats, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.  Sometimes I use different nuts but mostly I use almonds as they are the cheapest.

Nutty Chocolate Granola

3 Cups Coconut Flakes
2 Cups Activated Nuts (I like to use 1 1/2 cups almonds and the rest any other nut I have on hand)
1/2 Cup Pepitas
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seed
2 Tbs Chia Seeds
2 Tbs Poppy Seeds
2 Tbs Sesame Seeds
1 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
1/4 Cup Rice Malt Syrup
80 gm Butter or Coconut Oil

Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius.  Melt your butter and add the rice malt syrup to it and mix together.  In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients then pour over the butter and malt syrup. Mix well until the entire mix is looking evenly coated and chocolaty.
Spread evenly on a roasting tray and bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes giving the mix a good stir half way through.  Remove from the oven give another good stir and allow to cool.

Serve with unsweetened plain yogurt or soak in milk for 5 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Should I Activate My Nuts

Have you heard about activated nuts?  It seems to be a bit of a divisive issue, something that some people scoff at and others swear by.  And if you are a fan then buying them can be rather pricey but they are really easy to make at home.

In its most basic sense activating nuts is essentially soaking and re-drying nuts and seeds to make them more easily digestible and make more of their nutrients available.

It is not a new idea and many traditional cultures either soak or sprout their nuts and seeds before eating them.  The idea is that the soaking or germinating neutralizes that natural enzyme inhibitors that occur in nuts.  During the soaking process the nut converts some of the starch to simple sugars, and some of the protein as the emerging sprout breaks it down as a fuel for growth.

Many foods are recommended to be soaked prior to cooking or consumption to reduce the level of phytic acid or other anti-nutrients .  Some examples are: 
  • pytates – found in grains, nuts, seeds, legumes
  • oxalates – found in beans, rhubarb, spinach
  • saponins (punch holes in your microvilli contributing to leaky gut) – found in quinoa, chickpeas, alfalfa, oats
  • lectins – found in soy, kidney beans, nuts and grains
  • enzyme inhibitors – like protease inhibitors found in soy, grains, nuts, Nightshade vegetables
So why is phytic acid bad?  Well it is believed that phytic acid (which is not easily digested by humans) can inhibit the absorption of minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc.  It can also cause digestive upsets and discomfort.

Different nuts and seeds require different soaking times and you can find a good guide here.

Now that we have cut sugar out of our diets we have been eating more nuts and seeds in a variety of forms including granola (recipe tomorrow), bread and pestos.  For me activating nuts and seeds is a bit like fermenting vegetables, it is a way of ensuring we are getting the most goodness from our foods.  It is something that I try to do in big batches so that my dehydrator is on for the least amount of time and then I store the activated nuts in the freezer as it is very warm here in Queensland and nuts can go rancid or at least start to taste a bit stale.

Do you activate your nuts and/or seeds?