Pistachio, chia seeds and vanilla “icecream”…

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The first fire training night after I got back from my training course the Fire Services’s  National Training Centre in Rotorua was our first Brigade meeting for the year. These are every two month and are where we decided on allocation of funds and resource, develop training programmes etc. In our Brigade we always lay on a dinner.

I normally draw dessert – our dinners are all self-cooked: everyone contributes to a course. This time I wanted to play with some of the ideas I’d hoovered up off the ‘Net in the previous few weeks. I settled on three recipes to make a single disk but the way it panned out, I ended up with two separate desserts.

Plan A was for a  pistachio chia pudding layered with a plum cream topped with a dairy-free vanilla ice cream. The layered part went together OK, although my layering needs work as you can see from the image above.

I had to double both recipes as I was preparing for fourteen – that’s a lot of pistachios to shell and ideally to fill the cups I would have needed the same again. The pistachio flavour is very strong and distinctive: it went OK with the plum cream layer but both would have been better if served separately- next time I do this recipe, I’ll be thinking more along the lines of three sampler deserts with plain ice cream…

The ice cream just didn’t work and, going on many comments on the page, that’s more down to the recipe than anything that I did or didn’t do. Simply the recipe, Jamie Oliver or not, does not contain any ingredients that will set it. A more recent note on the recipe page says that the staff will have a look at it. What I ended up with was a large vanilla-flavoured ice block with not the slightest creamy characteristic.

My Plan B recovery plan was to grab a tub of TipTop vanilla ice cream from the local GAS petrol station and Four Square dairy – when they learned it was for the Brigade dinner, they kindly refused to charge me for it…thanks, team!

The ice cream was the common denominator between the pistachio and plum dessert and what was now a rich vanilla cream over ice cream dessert. The pistachio and plum dessert would have been better served as two separate option and not layered in the same cup – next I’ll serve each of the three desserts in separate corners of a dinner plate, with a scope of ice cream in the middle.

I;m quite keen to play more with pistachios as the flavour is so distinctive and strong; the plum cream I could take or leave but the vanilla ‘cream’ was to die for – seriously: rich, sweet and strong…unfortunately not enough survived for any photos…next time..

 

 

Literal green pizza

Playing with toys again…had to wait weeks before the Todo pizza makers showed up again at NZSale…only a third of the price they go for at Mighty Ape…Yes, I know I can make pizzas in the oven but I was interested in something that might offer a more portable pizza-ing experience and a new toy (plus it IS in Deadpool colours)

p70101-192150I made a few conventional dough-based pizzas but I’d been hearing for a while about vegetable bases for pizzas. Being gifted a full head of broccoli seemed like a perfect opportunity to try this (plus a head of broccoli goes a loooong way in conventional meals).

I found this recipe at Gothamist. It was easy, easy, easy…I put some baking paper down case it stuck but I need not have worried: the base pan is super-non-stick.

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The topping was just whatever was in the fridge: tomato, pineapple, yellow capsicum and some mozzarella…

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Forgot to add the tomato sauce base (store-bought pasta sauce) so applied over the top of the other toppings…

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Came out OK…cooked for about 20 minutes…even though the base is a full head of broccoli, the taste is quite subtle and not as overpowering as you might expect – probably a good way to sneak soem veges into unwilling younger diets…

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I use the pizza make quite often with a variety of bases, including store-bought ones which are good to rush meals and also wraps, although these need some care so that the more liquid toppings don’t flow off the edge…

No cheese cheesecake #4

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If I stopped looking at Facebook, I’d stop getting these inspirations…I thought I was done with the ‘ no cheese’ cheesecake thing (#1, #2, #3) but this one just looked too good not to try…It’s another Nadia Lim creation, a bit pricier than the others only because avos area  little pricey at the moment: not a problem in season or if you are lucky enough to have your own tree…

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I need some more practice building a  level base as it always seems to build up unevenly around the edges, giving this untidy appearance of more base than filling: it is actually, more filling than base, just doesn’t look it…

My base was simply the meal left over from a batch of almond/coconut milk (a litre of milk gives up exactly the right amount of meal for the base). The avocado gives the filling a silky smooth texture and the lime zest and juice adds a real zing to the flavour – or it would if the only limes at New World that week weren’t nasty little dried up things with nary a drop of juice….and if my back bottle of lime juice had more than half the required cup of lime juice.

I’m tempted to try this again this week with the full charge of lime to see how much zingier it is…it was OK this time but I felt the lost zing potential…

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I did make the berry coulis recommended in the recipe but tossed in the last of the coconut milk just to expend it…tasted OK but the milk neutered the sharp crisp berry taste…should have just used water like last time…

Still…it went very nicely with ice cream down at the station…

 

Dairy-free (almost) trifle

I volunteered part of the dessert for the National Park Village Fire Brigade Christmas dinner – we opted to eat in over going out as we’re a pretty foodie brigade and there’s none of the logistic hassles…

In our family, Christmas dessert can be many things but it’s not what it is unless there’s pavlova and trifle on the table – and the trifle should be strong enough to strip paint or sedate small children at ten paces…I wanted to keep it fairly green so this is a combination of a number of recipes that kept it as natural and as free of dairy and processed ingredients as possible.

The sponge

This was nice and simple: I just used my coconut flour pumpkin muffin recipe and baked it as a sponge instead of as individual muffins. I did cheat a little and bought a back-up sponge from New World just in case that mix didn’t work or if I needed more sponge than the original mix provided.

The jelly

I’ve always found packet jellies to to be rather weak and unnatural flavour-wise and one of the themes of my Green Journey has been to reduce the amount of processed food in my diet, or at least, reduce the number of processing steps between me and the raw material.A bit of Googling found me a good recipe for real fruit jelly. I opted for orange juice instead of the apple in the recipe and also used fresh-squeezed juice not stuff from a bottle.

Let me tell, you, a litre of fresh-squeezed orange juice takes a lot of squeezing!! I don’t think I have squeezed that many oranges since winning a bottle of vanilla Galliano and kicking of the great Harvey Wallbanger craze of 2012…the pithy problem with oranges and such is that you can’t just drop them in the juicer…still a good arm workout!

I don’t think that I mixed the gelatin in properly as the jelly never ‘jelled’ even after a full overnight in the fridge. It tasted awesome and very fruity though and the sponge soaked up enough of it that the trifle didn’t turn into a big slush bowl.

The custard

I wasn’t sure if a non-dairy custard would behave the same as a traditional milk-based one so I bought a litre of cows milk, just in case. I needn’t have worried as Cast Iron Cookie’s recipe for dairy-free custard performed as advertised. When you get down to step 10, don’t wait start pouring…I hesitated and the custard almost set in the pot. Knowing this, next time, I’ll pour as soon as the first bubble appears AND have the final fruit topping layer ready to place on/in it as soon as the custard is poured.

I used a layer of whipped cream – lightened with Greek yoghurt (100 ml cream to 200 grams of yoghurt)- just to hold the Kiwifruit topping in place.

The other

As I mentioned above, trifle in my family should be able to strip paint or sedate small children at ten paces. To achieve this result, you need to add some quantity of alcohol. The recipe I consulted recommended a half-cup 50/50 mix of brandy and sherry: NOT nearly enough: this provided scarcely a hint of the desired effect and would probably need to be be doubled at least…

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Pretty stink photo, sorry, snapped it just coming out of the fridge for seconds…

Beetroot and prunes in breadless burgers

While not in the market for another burger mix, the bright colours that accompanied the recipe on Sugar Soil hooked me: any healthy benefits aside, most beetroot recipes have striking colours and this one was no exception…

I made the mix i n accordance with the recipe on line but next time I thin l’ll aim for a mix with more even proportions of the beans, beetroot and prunes: I foud that the sweetness of the prunes rather underwhelming even though I did add more than the recipe quantities.

On a whim, I also decided to have a play with breadless burgers…Empowered Sustenace had some good ideas...it wasn’t difficult and I’m keen to try some of the other ideas as well. The most successful in this go-round was the mushroom evolution: fried just enough to bring out the flavour, and then stacked with the usual fillings burger-style…

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Mushroom ‘buns’

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Open burger on an eggplant ‘bun’

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Open burgers on pepper ring bases

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Mushroom and eggplant ‘buns’

Very tasty, with crisp clear flavours and surprisingly filling…no dairy, no nuts, no meat, no bread, no sugars, no hassle…

Eat Healthy With These 6 Rules – Sugar Soil

Eat Healthy With These 6 Rules

Source: Eat Healthy With These 6 Rules – Sugar Soil

I’m not normally one for lists. This one thought ticks off pretty closely against my green journey – now into its ninth month…

Eat when hungry

Absolutely!! I take two big smoothies to work with me each and work on these through the day; at home I keep a big bowl of fruit for snack attacks…

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Choose water over any other beverage

This goes hand in hand with ‘eat when hungry’…often a good slurp of good water, maybe with some infused raw fruit and/or herbs or spices is as good as something to eat. Taking a good slurp is still hard after many years conserving each and every sip of water that we had to carry but I’m working on it…

Let veges play the lead role

What is the key noun in your recipe title? If it’s a vegetable, or to a lesser degree, a fruit (fruity recipes are often desserts and so carry more temptative risk) then you are probably on the right track: I’m not anti-meat…you just don’t need it for a good meal…still a nice treat..

I’d just socked up on veges when the big fridge decided to time out and so I have had to focus on consuming a lot of my reserve stock as the big freezer is maxed out with the contents of the fridge’s freezer. To dispose of a pumpkin, I pureed the flesh, cleaned and dried the seeds for other projects, and fed the roasted skins to the Cujos…I’ve been using the puree in a range of dishes to reduce the quantity to something that will fit int he freezer…yes, I have been making the pumpkin and oatmeal muffins again, and will try pumpkin porridge in the morning. A particular success has been pumpkin chai latte (i’ll write the recipe up in a couple of days): no dairy, and only a half teaspoon of honey for sweetening…veges lead…

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Choose foods closest to their natural form

Eliminate the middle man. As much as possible work with the original raw material, avoid as many processing stages as you can, like, before it gets to you…be the master of your food’s destiny…it doesn’t take a big investment in money or time to be able to make yourself many of the items you buy prepackaged from the supermarket…almond and coconut milk would be one of the easiest and cheapest…DSCF0271.JPG…a bread maker will pay for itself in less than a year as well as giving you the flexibility of making what you want when you want it…buy the raw materials and see where the journey takes you…why buy a lemon/ginger/honey mix for winter coughs and colds when you can make a better one yourself…?

Portion Control

Lots of little, not just a few big is the way to think. In 1999, I was attached to a Malay Ranger unit near KL…the Officers Mess routine was six meals a day and some of the other Kiwis struggled with this. Many Asian countries work on this more little meal idea and it works really well…goes hand in hand with the concept of eat when hungry…in addition, these meals spaced through the day and into the evening were when the CO interacted with his officers: you had to be there anyway…lots of little…

Eat Healthy-ish

Ish, exactly…no regimented counting points or grams of sugar or mls of water consumed…eat within your own healthy guidelines…and enjoy falling off the wagon every once in a while – you’re allowed a break day, just not every day…for me, these are working:

Reduce or avoid whites…white bread, white flour, white sugar, white salt, etc…white ingredients generally have a the good stuff beaten out of them already…

Reduce dairy…even though I can make dairy-free cheese which is good for on toast and pizzas etc, I still love real cheese in my chicken soup and it is still the best complement to cauliflower and broccoli on a chilly winter night…but…the only milk in the house in in small bottle in the freezer for those guests who prefer cow instead of a non-dairy alternative…so far, I have been able to use my homemade almond coconut milk as a successful substitute for dairy milk in baking and brews – it froths up well with a half teaspoon of protein powder added to it…

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Avoid anything in a wrapper labelled ‘healthy’…odds are it isn’t…

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Dairy-free, vege-led, slice it up and just snack when hungry…

 

 

Happy Endings | The Daily Post

Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?

Source: Happy Endings | The Daily Post

Not so much quit as change for this one…generally I go for gradual change: hard hit cold turkey might give an immediate result but all too often the shock effect boomerangs and undoes the original good. Like gyming and other things, the trick is to make the change a habit, something so natural that you think when you don’t do it…

I’ve always eaten relatively healthily but there’s always room for improvement. Around Christmas, I was messenging with Bubble in the US, just chatting and this is where the seed was sown…

Me
Aaahh…nothing quite like coming down to the wafting aroma of fresh bread…

Bubble
Mmm bread
I caved and had some sprouted grain toast. Amazing

Me
Healthy bread is OK…just not that horrible commercial white stuff…
The more lumpy bits the better…
Fresh bread
Bubble
That looks amazing.

Me
…should have proper fresh yoghurt up and running…am doing it out of a packet now but want to get a proper culture up and running…

Bubble
I wanted to attempt to make my own coconut yoghurt, apparently you can do it by mixing in probiotics with coconut cream and incubating in the oven!

Me
Great minds!! Was coconut yoghurt (from a packet) that I made last night…very nice taste and texture…like coconut in cooking a lot…

Bubble
So is it dairy free the yogurt?
Don’t get me wrong I love dairy but I realised I was having a lot. Have you seen Cowspiracy? Very interesting

Me
Just had a look at the packet…milk power-based so ‘no’ but same here…looking to reduce not eliminate dairy…soy in a cuppa would be heresy!!!
Plus think I have mastered the bannoffee breakfast drink now and must have milk for that!!
Will have a look for Cowspiracy
It’s all about healthy choices in food and exercise plus it’s good to make things at home rather than rely on store-bought the whole time, even if it is some extra work and usually not as cheap…as above, you can’t beat waking up to the smell of fresh bread…

Bubble
Sometimes milk is needed (e.g. nice cafe latte) other times vanilla almond milk is great (smoothies, cereal and instant coffee!)

Working on the principle that a change is as good as a holiday, I picked up a litre of almond milk on my next foray into the supermarket. My first impressions were not confidence-inspiring it made the taste of everything way too nutty, even just a dollop in a coffee. Perseverance is the secret of success though and I bought some more on my next resupply – that first one must have just been a dodgy batch because that too-nutty taste didn’t recur…

More on Cowspiracy in a follow-on post but I should say that I’m not a member of the culinary tinfoil hat brigade…the attraction of this change for me was more the culinary challenges that come from reducing, maybe even removing, a major food group, dairy in this case from my diet…Great Goudas, Batman! How will I get by without cheese, ice cream and yoghurt…?

So six weeks into the experiment, I haven’t bought any milk since but needed a (small) bottle of cream for my Pour Some Sugar On Me post and have had a milkshake with lunch at Pihanga twice…so far so good…oh, yes, and I mozzarella’d up an otherwise healthy pizza too…

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To be continued….