Everytime we go to The Swan Valley, we always ask ourselves the same question – why do we not go back more often? I s’pose life gets in the way and we are just too bloody tired to make the trip usually.
This time I just went ‘We’re going to Swan Valley’ (whether you like it or not, whether you had plans to nap or not!) and off we went. We stopped by Mandoon and were pleased at its proximity – only 15 mins from home! Decided to have lunch at the bar after checking out what they had available at the deli (mostly cold meats and cheese for picnic) and restaurant (tad expensive for a casual out of the blue outing). I ordered their mussels after making sure it was going to be served with bread and he got the sous vide roast beef (which by the way is the process of vacuum-packing meat and cooking it in a precise temperature-controlled water bath which makes the risk of over cooking the beef a thing of the past). I did not think the mussels were too great, flavours were tad bland and I devoured the the bits of salty pancetta – I would not re-order this dish unfortunately. On the other hand. he loved his sous vide beef that came with a generous amout of mash potato and beans. We finished our meals with the beer tasting which we thought were great value for only $14. Alas the small beer drinkers that we are and it being only 2pm then, didn’t help! We struggled to finish the fifth glass though we would definitely recommend the taster! The place is beautiful though and we will be back for a picnic and some wine!
Off to the Cheese Barrell we went next for a coffee. Though they do not make their own cheese, they had a large array of cheese in their cabinet and we took some beautiful french cheese called La Buche d’Affinois home. Their coffees were great! We then went on to get some produce from the growers parked next to the Mash Brewery, before stopping by the iconic Margaret Choc factory for some chocolate sorbet and one of their nougat dipped in dark chocolate and cranberry!
There is so much more to do at the Swan Valley – house of honey, fish and lily pond, reptile park, ice cream, food, drinks, golf, laser tags, coffee tasting at Yahava… and of course wine tasting! 🙂 Get onto it 🙂 xx
Things have been a bit quiet on this blog however life has been busy – and yes cooking / baking has still been happening – it never ends 🙂 Two weeks ago, I had just finished our Lifestyle Challenge where I had been following a strictly paleo diet for 8 weeks! It has been interesting with lots and lots of cooking, awesome recipes that I cannot share and a result of 3.5% loss in body fat. More on that in a post sooner than later!
For today, a beautiful banana bread I made last night to have for breakfast/ snack during the week. Banana bread on its own is heavenly however I opted to also add some dark chocolate in there just because! Throw in some coconut milk dark chocolate and the bread is paleo! The result is some delicious chocolate gooey surprise as you indulge in the bread! The batter was soooo delicious and I just knew the bread was going to be awesome! The original recipe is from Teresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef.
Banana Bread (GF)
3 smashed ripe banana
3 free range / organic eggs
2 tablespoons raw honey (or organic maple syrup)
1/4 cup grassfed butter / coconut oil (the original recipe asks for macadamia/olive oil)
Half teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda ( bicarb soda) + 1 tbsp lemon juice
200 g ( 2 cups/ 7 oz) ) almond meal
25 g (1/4 cup / 3/4 oz) ground flaxseed (linseed) (or chia seed)
Handful of chopped dark chocolate
1. Preheat your oven to 160 C.
2. Combine smashed banana, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, bicarb and lemon juice, by hand in a large bowl.
3. Add the almond meal, flaxseed and chocolate pieces and mix well.
4. Lightly oil one loaf tin and then coat liberally with extra almond meal or desiccated coconut – this will prevent the cake from sticking. I used a silicon mould so needed none of the above!
5. Spoon batter into the tin and bake 1 hour ( a skewer inserted into the centre should come out dry).
6. Cover the top with foil if over-browning.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.
* Made from almond meal, expect the bread to be dense and moist. It is best had the next day (if you can wait!) and toasted with some butter! YUM.
The other thing I still have to work on is :To stop taking things personally!
“When you hear a comment that you think is directed at you, take a moment and think. Do not over analyze the situation at hand, just let the other person speak freely. Listen completely to what this person is saying – selective hearing is the cause of these misinterpretations. People tend to get caught up in petty drama, which typically occurs when one person takes something the wrong way. When it comes down to it, you’re in control of how you interpret things.“
I have been flirting with Paleo recipes as of late in view of the Lifestyle Challenge that I am partaking in, in three weeks’ time. The nutrition component of the challenge involves adopting the Paleo diet for 8 weeks. Certain food groups will be excluded mainly dairy, legumes and grains and of course refined sugars. The challenge is an opportunity to fuel our bodies with quality nutrients dense food and avoid those that are and can potentially have a negative impact on our long term health and performance. It will be very interesting to assess the effects of this new lifestyle on my physique, clarity of mind, sleep, moods, and more. On top of recording a food diary, a training plan is also to be followed and performance assessed. Lastly, a lifestyle challenge will not be complete without small steps towards promoting wellness. Cannot wait.
Back to the goodies, I am a big fan of fritters. They are super easy to make as you will see and oh so versatile. I would like to start cooking breakfast more often in the morning – one of the resolutions I have decided on. Sweet potatoes are your good carbohydrates,protein in tuna and eggs and good fats in ghee and eggs. Now that is a great breakfast to start your day with.
I decided to make some babaganoush because I thought it would make an awesome accompaniment to the fishcakes. Smoky and silky. Did you know that in addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity? (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=22&tname=foodspice). Great dip for picnics.
If making both like I did, start on the babaganoush as it takes a while to bake in the oven. Then whilst it’s in the oven, you can start on your fishcakes.
Enjoy and happy hump day xx
Sweet Potato Tuna Fishcakes
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes Number of servings: 7-8 fritters
2 cups grated sweet potatoes
2 tins of tuna in olive oil or brine
a handful of chopped kale
2 whole eggs
2 tbsp coconut flour
pepper & salt for seasong
ghee for frying (clarified butter, you can use coconut oil instead)
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes plus cooling time Number of servings: 4
1 large eggplant, cut in half length ways
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
2/3 tsp sea salt
pinch of cracked pepper
Instructions for Fish cakes
Combine all ingredients. Mix well. If you feel like the mixture is not sticking enough, break another egg in.
Heat a large frying pan to high and melt 1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil. Using your hands, shape mixture into balls and flatten into fritters before adding to the pan. Bring the heat to medium and fry on each side for 4 minutes or until golden brown crust forms.
Instructions for Babaganoush
Heat oven to 180C and bake eggplant drizzled with olive oil for 45 minutes or until crispy and dark golden brown. It should be soft on the side.
Cool eggplant for about 1 hour and remove outer skin only. Cut roughly and place in a food processor or blender with garlic, tahini, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Purée until smooth.
Superfoods fudge and balls are easy to make. You just need a food processor to blitz it all together. Healthy fudge in this case may I add, as there is strictly no added sugar and it is almost raw. Almost as I used grilled quinoa for this one. You can easily substitute quinoa with goji berries / dry fruits like apricots / raw nuts if you wanted to go raw. Even easier as you don’t have to get the oven on or burn the first batch of your quinoa like I did! I was intrigued to use quinoa this time around! Gave an earthy taste and I am hooked. Dates + cocoa taste soo delish! I brought some to work and to the box later on, they were much enjoyed.
You cannot find easier recipe than this 5 ingredients fudge.
Quinoa + Date Fudge
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Yield: 25 – 36 squares
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
8 medjool dates
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
3 – 4 tablespoons water
In a dry skillet, toast the quinoa on medium heat until it begins to pop and is fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes. Toss it a few times to ensure even toasting. I popped mine in the oven on high temp 200 degrees celcius for a few minutes. Keep a close eye as it gets hot very quickly – I burnt my first batch :/
Add quinoa to a high powered blender and blend on high until it resembles the texture of flour. Transfer to a food processor.
Add dates, cocoa powder and coconut oil. Process until combined.
With processor running, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough has formed.
Line a small container (sandwich sized works great) with plastic wrap. Press dough into container and smooth with hands. Sprinkle with sea salt (if using).
Place in freezer for 3 – 4 hours until set.
Remove from freezer, a cut into small, 1/2″ squares (remember these are bite sized!). Store in freezer and enjoy whenever the chocolate craving hits.
Our love story with quinoa continues tonight with those cute little cookies. One look at the ingredients and I was sold. The grilled quinoa gave these cookie the crunch you want whilst the banana and avocado gave them that moist inside. These will be great for mid-afternoon snacks, or mid morning!
Healthy Quinoa Cookies (with banana and avocado) GF
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup puffed rice
1/2 sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons raw unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons quinoa flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small mixing bowl, completely mash the banana, avocado and nut butter together, until creamy and smooth.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix until fully combined.
Spoon the cookie dough on the cookie sheet, and gently flatten with the back of a spoon.
Bake 15 – 17 minutes, until browned and only slightly tender to the touch. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack and cool.
Store in a covered container for 2 – 3 days.
This recipe could be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled even!
Tonight turned out to be a quinoa fest and why not? Quinoa is high in protein, iron and fibre and is gluten free.
For all recipes involving quinoa, even the most unimaginable ones – quinoa milkshakes anyone? – one should subscribe to Simply Quinoa (www.simplyquinoa.com). As I browsed through her website, two recipes caught my eyes. Why? Because they looked so easy and totally delicious. Being a Monday night and after an evening crossfit session, the last thing I want to do is spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen (though I did as I tried to multitask cooking for the furry babies and also making a fudge for tomorrow’s work do. Eeek.)
Sweet potato salmon cakes/patties sounded divine. I had to make these as I just knew sweet potatoes and salmon were a match made in heaven as they are two of my most favourite foods ever! And heck did they not disappoint. The sweetness of the potatoes combined with the salmon and fresh herbs tasted just amazing! You would be forgiven to forget that there was actually quinoa in these babies! Delish.
Sweet Potato Salmon Cakes
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I used white quinoa for this recipe but red would add a nice color)
1 medium sweet potato, boiled and mashed
2 can wild salmon (skinless and boneless if possible)
2 large eggs
4 leaves of spring onions, chopped
1 small bunch of mint, chopped
1 small bunch of coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
Salt & pepper to taste
Spray oil for cooking
1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Add all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands!) until everything is combined and a dough has formed.
3. Form the dough into 6 patties or more depending on what size you are going for, place on a plate and set aside.
4. Heat the oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Saute the salmon cakes for 3 – 5 minutes per side, until browned, crispy and heated through.
5. Put in the oven for ten minutes and flip on the other side for another ten minutes.
It was Paula’s last WOD at the box tonight *sad face* and I made her favorite cake for us all to enjoy after the work out. To cater for everyone’s diet requirements, the cake had to be gluten free and nut free. I was a bit nervous as the cake seemed quite hard unlike your normal fluffy non gf ones. This one turned out to be dense, moist and pretty yummy I must say – all the flavours were there! Of course if you do not have any nut allergies, feel free to add walnuts! I must admit though, that I did not miss the crunchiness of the walnuts like I thought I would. It just was a different version, in a good way. And no carrot cake is complete without cream cheese frosting so I made sure to slap 2 layers of it 🙂
ps: Good luck Paula, we love you and will miss you muchly at Fibre.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (GF and Nut Free)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup raw honey
1 cup coconut oil
2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Woolworths brand)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
sprinkle of Himalayan salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon nutmeg
½ cup milk
2-3 cups carrots, shredded ( 3 big carrots)
2 packs cream cheese, room temperature (use only one if you are not have a double layer cake)
1 teaspoon butter, room temperature
3 teaspoon raw honey (you can also use icing sugar)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
2. Grease and flour (with Pamela’s flour) 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Set aside
3. In a large bowl cream together oil, sugars, and eggs. Set aside
4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
5. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk
6. Mix just until fully combined (careful not to over mix)
7. Fold in shredded carrots
8. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans
9. Bake for 30 minutes until center is set (do not over bake!)
10. Cream together the coconut oil and cream cheese.
12. Add in the honey or icing sugar
13. Mix until silky and creamy.
14. When cakes are cooled, remove them from pan and frost.
What a glorious, beautiful and sunny Friday morning in Perth. Since there was some leftover almond meal from Wednesday’s baking, that called for some chocolate cupcakes. Almond meal makes these cupcakes moist with a beautiful crumb. You can add more honey to the recipe if you prefer your cupcakes more on the sweeter side 🙂
They took 5 minutes to make and are delicious and wholesome. I like them warm with a homemade strawberry sauce 🙂
Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond Meal (GF)
1 ½ cups (150g) almond meal / ground almonds
¼ cup (21 g) unsweetened good quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
2 free range/ organic eggs
60 ml (1/4 cup) macadamia nut oil, light olive oil, or cold pressed coconut oil (I used olive oil)
60 ml milk (¼ cup) your choice of dairy, almond or soy (I used cow’s milk)
2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or rice malt syrup (I used honey)
Preheat oven to 160 C – fan forced. 180 C no fan.
Combine almond meal, cocoa powder and baking powder.
Add the eggs, oil, milk and honey then mix well to form a smooth batter.
Spoon into 12 small individual cupcake tins.
Bake for 25 minutes until puffed and cooked through.