Fig and Lemon Balls

Today is a cooking kind of day.  It’s blustery, rainy and cool outside, I have the day off (because it is school holidays!) and there is not much I need to do. Perfect for firing up the oven and turning some ingredients into delicious meals and snacks.

So far I have made skinless sausages (pork, fennel and thyme), roasted cauliflower, lemon and fig balls and coffee-chocolate balls. Still going is the slow cooked beef and sweet potato stew (in the oven), roasted pumpkin and beef jerky. Up next is grain-free crackers and some pumpkin hommus.

I just wanted to quickly share the recipe for the fig and lemon balls because I just created it, and it is pretty good. I had an Emma and Tom’s Fig and Lemon bar a while ago, and it was ok …but I thought I could do better. So I did.

– – –

Fig and Lemon Balls

20130926-142325.jpg

Ingredients

1/2 cup of almonds

6-8 whole dried figs, depending on consistency of the mix

The juice and zest of a small lemon

Method

Put the almonds into the food processor and process until they are in tiny, even chunks. Take the almonds out and put the figs, lemon juice and zest in. Process for a bit, then add in the almonds. Process until it is of an even consistency.

If it is too dry, add another fig and some more lemon juice. If it is too wet, add some extra almonds. You might need to tweak this according to the size of your lemons and figs, but it will taste good either way. The mix shouldn’t be too sticky, it should hold together and mold nicely when pressed.

Roll the mix into balls and store in a container or a jar in the refrigerator.

My mix made about 10 but it depends on the size you make your balls.

– – –

And now to the worst part of having a fun time making a mess in the kitchen – cleaning up.

It’s A Cookie Kind Of Day

It’s miserable outside. Drizzly, cold and grey. When the weather is like this I crave three things – hot drinks, good books and fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits. I must have been preparing for this subconsciously – I absentmindedly picked up some organic dark chocolate chips while running the gauntlet that is Terra Madre on a Saturday morning. So when the longing for a warm baked sweetie knocked on the door of my brain, I was ready.

I waded through about a zillion websites, trying to find a grain-free, low-sugar recipe that didn’t look like balls. It took a while. Just when I thought I’d found a good one it would include something completely whack or the comments would annihilate the recipe and it’s maker.

Eventually, I found one that sounded pretty good and tried it out. You can find it here. I made a few changes (added extra choc chips; halved the recipe because I WILL eat that many cookies if they are around; subbed coconut sugar for palm sugar and cut it by a half as the coconut flour I use is quite sweet already) and they came out great … although I was not paying attention towards the end, and the cookies came out a little browner than I would have liked. But they taste lovely, have a nice texture and are just the way I like my choc-chip cookies – thick with a soft inside and slightly crisp on the outside.

20130720-161352.jpg

Now the heater is on, I have a full tummy and all is well in the world. Happy cookie day!

Lemon and Blueberry Cheesecake

After a delicious dinner of pulled pork and roasted vegetables, Tyson was saying how much he would like a lemony dessert (hint, hint). We argued a bit about making apple crumble – I really wanted to try out a pie or tart base and he just wanted the usual crumble we often eat for breakfast. BORING.

At the same time, we turned to each other and said ‘Don’t we have some cream cheese in the fridge?’

It was a bit weird. So we took it as a sign. Lemon cheesecake all around. I made one, loosely based on this recipe.

My normal recipe disclaimer applies – this is how I made it. I’m not a recipe tester or pastry chef, and I’m not saying this recipe is perfect. It might not work for you. It might be too dry, or too moist, or too crumbly. You might think it tastes like crap. I made it and I liked it and this is how it was done.

Filling

250g full fat cream cheese

3 teaspoons of honey

1 egg

zest and juice of one lemon

blueberries

Crust

120g almond meal

70g melted butter

Method

Put the ingredients for the filling (except for the blueberries) into a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste it, and add more honey or more lemon as you like. Go nuts and add some vanilla if it makes you happy.

Mix the almond meal into the butter until it makes a thick paste but is not too dry. If it is too dry, add more butter. If it is too wet, add more almond meal. Press into your cheesecake receptacle (I used a tart case) all the way to the edges.

Pour the filling onto the base and spread out evenly. Try not to eat too much of the filling mix or your cheesecake will be too skinny.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artfully arrange the blueberries onto the top of the filling.

Bake at 180 degrees until it looks ready, light brown around the edges but not burnt. Mine took about 45 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While the cheesecake is baking, lick every utensil you used to move that filling around, then use a spatula to scrape out the last tiny bits of filling that are in the food processor and lick that too. Don’t be a clown and try to lick the blades of the food processor, it will only end in tears. That’s how good the filling should taste.

Here is the hardest part. Once it is out of the oven, you are going to have to wait for it to cool. If you don’t, the base will crumble and the filling will be too gooey. It’s going to need to spend some time in the fridge. When it is cool and set, it is ready to eat. Enjoy!

cheesecake slice

Super Breakfast

Quinoa Porridge with Banana and Coconut Milk.

For those of you eating breakfast, this is a ripper for the winter months.  Hayley and I started making it a couple of months back when we were first playing around with the Perfect Health Diet.

Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, so therefore falls under the Paleo umbrella (in case you were wondering). Quinoa is a super food, it’s great source of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. In combination with the healthy fats from the coconut milk and a few carbs from half a banana, quinoa porridge is a pretty balanced (and nutritious) meal.    

We always cook enough quinoa for a couple of days and leave it in the fridge.  Boil about one cup of quinoa in water until it has opened up but is not fully cooked (bite it, it should be slightly firm but not soft).  From there, strain and lay out on a tray to let cool.  When it’s cool put it in the fridge.   

Image

 

When you get up in the morning and are ready for breakfast put a handful of cooked quinoa in a pan with about half a can of coconut milk and about half a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.  You’ll need to warm it up and let the quinoa finishing cooking in the coconut milk. 

Image

From there, taste for the right amount of sweetness, put it in a bowl with half a sliced banana and enjoy! 

 

 

Cake For Dinner

It’s Wednesday, I’m more than halfway through my working week (Did I tell you that I am working full time for the rest of this term? Well, I am. And it’s fine!) and I thought it might be a good time to give you an update on my progress with the Perfect Health Diet, amongst other things.

What’s working?

– The eight hour window for eating. Most days it’s down to the wire, and tonight was a tiny bit over, but DUDE. I had a banana loaf baking in the oven. As if I’m not going to wait until it’s ready to be eaten.

– The carbs. Tonight I ate a bowl of chicken broth with rice noodles before CrossFit, plus a couple of rice cakes with a bit of butter (a lot of butter) and I felt great while I was working out. My energy seems to be staying steady (I was a bit worried that the carbs would cause spikes in my blood sugar and leave me feeling flat and craving more carbs) and I’m generally feeling good.

What’s not working?

– The +25%/-25% rule for workout and non workout days. I just haven’t really figured out my baseline, so I eat when I’m hungry until I don’t feel hungry anymore. The first two days I ate about the same amount, but today I was ravenous and ate a lot more than usual. I guess this is one of those things that will take time to work out.

– No screen time within two hours of bed. It’s kind of working, I suppose, and I am getting a lot done in those two hours. I have cheated a little bit and made my laptop an exception – I have f.lux installed so that I don’t get too much blue light, and I don’t watch movies or anything. I just read a bit and do some writing or some work, like tonight.

I’m generally feeling good. The last 24 hours have been great, with lots of fun and exciting things happening. There was a package for Tyson at the front door when I came home from work, so I brought it in and forgot about it. Turns out it was a late birthday present for me, and now I am the proud owner of a ‘Best Wife Ever’ mug. Sweet AND accurate.

Continue reading

Planning for The Perfect Health Diet

So, I’ve been reading ‘The Perfect Health Diet’ by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. It’s a good read, and confirms a lot of my suspicions about certain foods. I was considering starting a Whole30 this week, but I have decided to give the PHD a try instead.

style=

Continue reading

Lazy Saturday

This morning was a nice one. I had a great time at Crossfit doing a fun partner WOD with lots of deadlifts (my favourite!), hit the greengrocers, took Louis (our dog) for a big walk, played around on the blog … but now it is time to get serious. I have a heap of vegetables, two kilograms of stewing beef, two kilograms of topside mince and a free range chicken to get sorted, AND it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, so I need to make a treat to take to afternoon tea with the family.

(This was me at Crossfit. Not. Image via crossfitimpulse.com)

Anyway, silliness aside, my menu for this afternoon looks like this …

Oven Braised Mexican Beef (Nom Nom Paleo)

Hamburger/meatball/meatloaf mix

Steamed vegetables

Chocolate Espresso Cake (Jill Dupleix)

Coconut Macaroons (Elena’s Pantry)

It looks as though my lovely new Mac Mighty knife and my trusty Kitchenaid mixer are going to get a decent workout today. Time to crank the music and get started!

Any suggestions for my cooking playlist?

Turning 31

Tonight I am cooking dinner and reflecting on my day yesterday. It was my 31st birthday. I was overwhelmed with texts, emails, cards, phone calls and Facebook messages, sent with love from near and far. I went to Crossfit in the morning, and my abs are reminding me that I worked hard on my GHD situps. I’m glad I didn’t do them the day before my birthday.

My mind drifts to the food I am cooking, and I realise that most of the vegetables I am preparing are from the organic box my parents gave me as a birthday gift. I am roasting potatoes in the beef tallow that came from the bio-dynamic beef bones we use for stock. I am cutting up tomatoes from my family’s organic farm using the Mac Mighty knife that Tyson gave me yesterday morning and remembering last night’s special birthday dinner at Rockpool.

375147_10151641487143708_1866257418_n

I show love to myself by eating as well as I can and making my body strong. I make my body strong so that I can have the energy and strength to show love to others. Food and love. Love and food. What else is there?