I have to confess that I’m a bit of a sweet tooth. I am considered what some people call a chocoholic. I absolutely adore chocolate in every single form and shape. Unfortunately I’m not one of those people who can eat their chocolate daily and still stay in shape and not put on a single gram of fat. Actually I’m the complete opposite. I only have to look at one piece of chocolate and I put on weight. I know, that’s so unfair but what can you do?
Well, these days, I only buy the 85% dark chocolate anymore. That way you can save some calories because consuming cacao in the form of dark chocolate is the heart-healthiest way to go.
Adding milk to chocolate considerably diminishes the health benefits of cacao. The darker the chocolate the higher the antioxidant levels. Cacao contains high bioflavonoid levels that may facilitate healthy blood flow and blood pressure levels. Eating foods with a high percentage of cacao may help prevent the clogging of arteries, thereby reducing risk of stroke, blood clots, and heart attacks.
I have seen a lot of healthier versions of cakes, muesli bars, cookies etc. on all the Instagram accounts I follow lately. So I thought it’s about time to create a healthy treat for myself as well… This sweet potato pumpkin brownie tasted better than expected. Actually it was really tasty. I added a bit of my homemade almond butter on top (not pictured) which turned out delicious.
- 1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
- 2/3 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 14 medjool dates, pitted
- 4 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 3 tbsp rice malt syrup
- pinch of pink himalayan salt
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Steam the sweet potato and butternut squash until soft, then add them to a blender with the dates and blend until smooth.
- Place the remaining ingredients into a bowl and stir well.
- Add the sweet potato – pumpkin – date mixture to the bowl and stir well.
- Pour the mixture into a lined baking dish and cook for about 30 minutes, until you can pierce the brownie cake with a fork bringing it out dry.
- Remove the tray and allow to cool before cutting.
Happy cooking 🙂
RAW CACAO – Health benefits:
- full of therapeutic benefits
- ‘super-antioxidant’ – helps protect the heart, prevent cellular damage, and keeps us looking and feeling younger!
- contains oleic acid, which has been linked to lower cholesterol
- great source of magnesium, which helps with calcium absorption, metabolism, and protein synthesis. It may also be useful in the prevention of or treatment for congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and premenstrual syndrome.
- contains iron, copper, calcium, potassium, and zinc
Phew, what a week! Sorry for the lack of posts lately but I only have 2×1 hours daily where I am able to sit down and concentrate on blogging. My son Noah needs heaps of attention at the moment and wouldn’t let me work when he’s awake. Unfortunately the household, the cooking etc needs to be done as well and so there’s not much time left to write new blog posts. It has been a gorgeous week here in Sydney. After a few rainy days last week it feels amazing to finally get back some sunshine and spend time at the beach with the little one. On Monday I decided that it was time to do a 3-day detox diet (which I failed after day 2…) as we had way too much (unhealthy) food during last week. It’s like we went on a trip to Italy because we only ate lasagne, spaghetti, dumplings and heaps of chocolate and ice cream….oooops. Well, I guess sometimes a breastfeeding mummy just needs that!
Anyway, somehow I managed to have a few healthy breakfasts and salads in between our feasts. I tried to make green pancakes for the first time and hey, they turned out really delicious. Now, I understand, that some of you (including my husband) might be a bit scared of something that’s green but trust me, these are so so good, you won’t be disappointed.
- 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
- 2 tbsp ground flax
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups raw spinach
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 ripe banana
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Optional (but recommended): 1/2 tsp spirulina
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- Toppings: raspberries, blueberries, yoghurt, almond butter
- Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix.
- Place spinach, eggs, banana and vanilla into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until flour is incorporated.
- Heat oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Drop a tablespoon of batter into pan. Repeat to make about 8 mini pancakes. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles start to form on surface. Turn over. Cook for 1 minute or until golden and cooked through.
- I served it with homemade almond butter, greek yoghurt and berries.
If you never heard of SPIRULINA, here is some information about this so called “superfood”:
Spirulina often gets misclassified as an herb because of its amazing health promoting properties, but it’s actually a (cyan-)bacteria, or a natural blue-green algae that’s found in pristine freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers (and you can taste that). It is really high in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients. It is largely made up of protein and essential amino acids, and is typically recommended to vegetarians for its high natural iron content. The high concentration of protein and iron also makes it ideal during pregnancy, after surgery, or anytime the immune system needs a boost. It is most commonly recognized as one of the world’s most nutritionally complete superfoods, as it offers health benefits to practically every organ and bodily function, like:
- modulates the immune response
- assists in keeping eyes healthy
- reduces inflammation and promotes cell growth
- helps improve the digestive system
- helps to cleanse the body of toxins
- excellent source of chlorophyll
- has 400% more antioxidants than blueberries
- can help to alleviate allergies
- excellent source of theanine, riboflavin and vitamins C, D and E
- has more protein than beef, on a gram per gram level
Kale is such a delight. Before we moved to Sydney I had never heard of Kale before. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t get it in Austria two years ago, or at least I have never seen it in a shop before. Maybe it made it’s way there by now, but I got introduced to it here in Australia. I mean, of course we do have some sort of cabbage in Austria but just not the curly leaved one kale you can find here. In Sydney you get it everywhere. They sell it in form of salads, chips, soups, smoothies, juices, sautéed as a side dish and so on. So, what exactly is this trendy super food everyone loves at the moment?
Kale or borecole is a vegetable with green or purple leaves which belongs to the same species (Brassica oleracea) as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It’s considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms of vegetables and it’s widely cultivated across Europe, Japan and the United States. There are definitely a lot of benefits of adding kale to your diet:
- high in iron (cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation)
- low in calorie, high in fiber, zero fat (1 cup has 36 calories, 5 g of fiber and 0 g of fat)
- rich in vitamin K (anti-cancer, normal bone health, Alzheimer’s disease treatment)
- filled with powerful antioxidants (anti-cancer)
- can lower cholesterol level
- vitamin A (vision, skin, anti-cancer)
- high in vitamin C (helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration)
- high in calcium (kale has more calcium than milk)
- great detox food
So we know now that kale dishes are packed with nutrients and fiber – no wonder I feel like Wonder Woman after I eat a giant bowl of kale salad. Here’s just one of many ways to eat kale.
Ingredients: (Serves 3)
- 1/2 a cauliflower, floreted
- 1/4 of a red cabbage, sliced
- 2 cups kale, washed
- 1/2 a block of feta cheese
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the cauliflower into a food processor (or blender) and process until it has the consistency of couscous.
- Tear small pieces off the kale stems, discarding the stems and placing the leaves into a bowl.
- Add the cauliflower “couscous” and the sliced cabbage to the bowl and crumble the feta cheese on top.
- Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil onto the salad, add salt and pepper and top with the toasted walnuts.
So, I had half a pomegranate sitting in my fridge for quite a while and yesterday morning I decided it was about time to do something about it.
Pomegranates are incredible. It’s not only their unique combination of crunchiness and juiciness but also their nutritional value that makes them so tempting and irresistible. In many cultures they are a symbol of hope and abundance but also a symbol of health. The health benefits of pomegranate are innumerable. Apart from being healthy, they are super delicious as well. Pomegranates also have antioxidant, antiviral and antitumor properties. They are said to be good sources of vitamins, since it includes vitamin A, C and E, as well as folic acid. This fruit consists of three times as many antioxidants as both wine or green tea. It is said to be a healthy powerhouse.The top 13 reasons you should include them in your diet are:
- high in iron
- anti-cancer benefits
- improves skin quality – anti aging
- protects against osteoarthritis
- lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
- supports brain health
- promotes cardiovascular health
- dental protection
- helps digestion
- great for pregnant woman
- destroys intestinal worms
- increases your libido
Sound good? Well, then go and buy some pomegranates and give this powerful pink smoothie a go!
- 1/2 a pomegranate, pitted
- 1/3 cup frozen raspberries
- 2 medjool dates, pitted
- 3 tbsp light greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp almond butter
Simply place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If you like it a little runnier add some water.
Noah, my 13 month old son, used to be quite a good eater but a few weeks ago he decided to become very difficult when it comes to eating lunch and dinner. Breakfast is fine, he always seems very happy about feeding himself and is very impatient if my preparation takes too long (don’t ask me why…he still gets a bottle at 11 pm, the so called “dream-feed”, and I breastfeed him as soon as he wakes up in the morning…so he shouldn’t be hungry at all). I have no idea why he is such a fussy eater at the moment and it really upsets me that so much lovingly prepared food ends up in the bin. Anyway, I’m not giving up on him being a better eater and I just keep on doing what I’m doing. I hope it’s just a phase….
This chicken coconut curry I cooked yesterday was quite successful. I think adding peas was the winner. He loves peas. Actually he loves everything that is round, little and colourful. His favourite fruits are blueberries. If you put a bowl of different fruits in front of him, he would always go for blueberries first and not until there’s no more of them left will he then go for other fruits.
He didn’t eat the whole plate but I managed to feed him more than half of it while he was enjoying picking out every single pea with his chubby little fingers.
Ingredients: ( Serves 2-3 )
- 1/2 a chicken breast, poached and finely sliced (if it’s for your toddler)
- 1 cup rice, cooked
- 1/2 a onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 cup broccoli
- 1 cup peas, defrosted
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 a tin coconut cream
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp mild curry powder
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste (you can also serve it without s/p)
- Start by heating the oil in a large sauce pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft or lightly golden.
- Add the chicken, curry powder, carrot, water and coconut cream and bring to the boil. Then reduce heat and let cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add the broccoli and cook for another few minutes until broccoli is tender.
- Add peas and coriander just 2-3 minutes before serving.
- Serve with rice.
For me, as a European, it’s really weird to have winter in summer. I mean, May, June, July, August used to be my favourite months of the year as they were warm, sunny and full of happy times at the lakes, or trips to exciting new places by the sea.
Now, that I live in Australia, it’s the opposite. We have winter now. Not that I would call it that…it’s more like autumn in Austria. All the frangipani trees have lost their leaves or are still loosing them, and the beach is almost empty, except for a bunch of surfers who don’t mind the cold outside – the water is still nice as my hubby would say… When I say cold I mean around 10-20°C…that’s what the Aussies call winter. There is no snow or foggy days, no, there is sunshine, lot’s of sunshine and sometimes a few rainy days and wind. The problem is that as soon as the sun goes down it gets cold and the nights, I tell you, they can be a bit chilly. The houses are not built for this time of the year–don’t ask me why…I have no idea! They don’t have central heating like almost all of the houses in Europe have and their windows are thin…omg they are really thin.
Anyway, it’s beautiful here and it’s nice that Bondi Beach is empty and quiet for a few months of the year.
Now, I looove to eat salad, nothing better than a fresh & healthy bowl full of vitamins and nutrients on a warm sunny day. But what if it’s cold and rainy and you feel more like a warm, filling dish but still craving the sourness and freshness of a salad? That’s when my warm pumpkin salad is the perfect choice for you!
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- 1 small hokkaido pumpkin, pitted and cut into pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, pitted and cut into slices
- 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 handful of cocktail tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped and roasted
- 1 block of feta cheese (or goats cheese), crumbled
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 3 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the pumpkin, carrots and bell pepper on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast veggies for about 25 minutes or until tender
- Meanwhile heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add the pumpkin seeds, walnuts and garlic and cook until golden.
- Transfer the roasted veggies, tomatoes and feta cheese to a bowl, add the lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly until well combined.
- Serve with the roasted nuts and seeds on top.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PUMPKIN:
- Weight loss (Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer)
- Low calorie (Pumpkin may be filling, but it’s also a low-calorie superstar)
- Sharper vision (good source of beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for eye health)
- Better immunity (Vitamin A also helps your body fight infections, viruses and infectious diseases. Pumpkin oil helps fight various bacterial and fungal infections. Vitamin C may help you recover from colds faster)
- Younger looking skin (beta-carotene helps protect us from the sun’s wrinkle causing UV rays)
- Lower cancer risk (Research shows people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer. Vitamins A and C are both antioxidants, and they act as a shield for your cells against cancer-causing free radicals)
- It may help treat diabetes (In scientific tests, pumpkin has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and increase the amount of insulin the body produces)
Winter’s here! Yesterday was really wet and cold in Sydney, so I thought it would be nice to have a warming hot soup for dinner. I bought green split peas a few days ago and our fridge was full of veggies so I decided to make a big pot of veggie split pea soup. Soups are not everyone’s favorite but I’m a big fan of soup. They are super easy and quick to make and they warm you from the inside out. Nothing better on a cold winter’s day….especially when you have a little toddler at home who needs your full attention and is a difficult eater at dinner time, it’s nice to not have to worry about the soup slowly cooking on the stove.
Although often made with a ham bone, my version of split pea soup is so hearty and heart healthy you won’t miss the meat. Serve with thick slices of rustic bread.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 1 potato, chopped
- 2 cups of green split peas, rinsed
- 7 cups of hot water (or stock)
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened.
- Stir in vegetables and sauté for a few minutes. Then add peas, water, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat so liquid is simmering. Cook until peas are tender, about 1 to 1¼ hours.
- Serve with thick slices of rustic bread (if desired).
HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRIED PEAS:
Dried peas, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only can dried peas help lower cholesterol, they are also of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.
Fiber is far from all that dried peas have to offer. Dried peas also provide good to excellent amounts of five important minerals, three B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat. As if this weren’t enough, dried peas also feature isoflavones (notablydaidzein). Isoflavones are phytonutrients that can act like weak estrogens in the body and whose dietary consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of certain health conditions, including breast and prostate cancer.