Homemade “Cocoa Pops”

Cocoa pops have been a childhood favourite for years. However they have been banned from my house since I was about eight years old! Recently, I haven’t really been the biggest fan of cereal but I figure that I may as well create one of my old faves with the abundance of puffed rice I had around the house today (which is super cheap by the way, only about $3 a bag).

So commenced the experimentation of making these tasty treats. I followed the same kind of approach as I would with making a baked granola just without the nuts. Super easy and simple with only 4 ingredients which are all conveniently gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. I reckon that these matched up with vanilla unsweetened almond milk are a match made in heaven so be sure to try that.

Homemade “Cocoa Pops”

What you’re going to need

3-4 cups of puffed rice

2 tablespoons organic cacao powder

1/4 cup maple syrup

pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large bowl, add the puffed rice, cacao powder and salt and stir until well combined
  3. Add the maple syrup and stir through until it all comes together and the mixture is wet. (if there are parts that are dry and you bake it, it will not taste great…)
  4. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes on a low shelf in your oven.
  5. Leave out to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

cocoa-pops

In other news, I am lucky to be the host of this month’s Growing Edge blogging community event themed “Festive Feeds”. If you would to share your creations, please submit your post via the following link: Festive Feeds Submission. Looking forward to seeing all the wonderful festive inspired creations for both the summer and also from my friends in the Northern Hemisphere. I will be sharing a compilation of all the submissions in early January. Merry December everyone!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

It’s my first week in Sydney for work in what seems like ages! This means meal prep is back on to start saving my coin for my holiday to New York City early next year. I do like salads for lunch, but only if they’re filled with lots of good carbs! A bowl of lettuce and raw vegetables can fill me up for a total of about 45 minutes.

My favourite salad bulky items I love to use are quinoa and sweet potato. It’s amazing how much you can stretch one medium sized sweet potato. This batch of salad I’ve made is enough food for three days worth of lunches! Perfect.

To compliment the sweet potato and quinoa, I have paired it up with a balsamic mustard dressing. Homemade dressings are the way to go to avoid all the preservatives and other assorted ingredients that end up in off the shelf dressings.

So here it is!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

What you’re going to need

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into even pieces

1/2 cup quinoa (I used tricolour for this recipe but feel free to use white, black or red)

1/4 cup pistachios, shelled

50 grams danish feta, roughly chopped

fresh rosemary

fresh thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing (to taste but here are some rough measurements)

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

cracked salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a lined baking tray, add the chopped sweet potato, olive oil, rosemary and thyme. Season with cracked salt then place tray on a high shelf in the oven.
  3. Whilst the potato is baking, prepare quinoa according to packet instructions. In addition, prepare the dressing in a small bowl/measuring jug
  4. With ideal timing, the sweet potato and quinoa should be ready at the same time. Set aside and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  5. In a large bowl place the sweet potato, quinoa, pistachios and feta. Add dressing to taste.
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

sweet-potato-and-quinoa-salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

So it’s the day that you’re due to do the weekly grocery shop, you open the fridge to what looks like a measly bunch of ingredients which will not pair up together. Wrong. Well let’s just say 85% of the time, I reckon you can still whip up something delicious even if it seems like all you have is the stuff that gets forgotten about in the fridge until the end of the week.

Of course, the dream would be plan meals so efficiently for the week that you end up with nothing left on grocery day. However, as most people work and have other activities planned for their days, there often isn’t much planning around this.

So instead of forcing yourself into planning your meals a week in advance which may not stick, try introducing yourself to the creative opportunity of leftover ingredients. (In saying that, if you are finding every week that you are throwing out the same unused ingredient, then cross that item right off your shopping list please).

Today, I was going in blind. I really hadn’t looked in the fridge properly for a few days and so it was very much a mystery as to what to create for lunch today. I had just arrived home from martial arts training so was craving something fresh and filling. I didn’t want to wait around all day for my food so I saw the cauliflower and used that as a base for the dish. The rest was just odd bits and pieces. Slowly, a dish was coming together.

Cauliflower. Check. Fundamental salad ingredients. Check. Dressing? It is always a satisfying feeling to make your own dressings from scratch. You know everything that goes into it, it will be fresh and most importantly, it will taste fabulous. With dressings I find measurements a little bit redundant at times, it’s a bit of a taste as you go experiment until the flavours match your palette.

Okay so let’s have a look at what I created today from a bits and pieces collection of ingredients.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad (serves 2) Cook + Prep time: 20 minutes

What you’re going to need

Salad 

1/4 floret cauliflower, cut into small pieces

generous handful mixed leaves/salad mix/lettuce

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half longways

1 medium cucumber, grated

2 teaspoons pine nuts

Dressing

1 tablespoon tahini

1 teaspoon honey

extra virgin olive oil, to taste

salt, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Place the cauliflower on a lined baking tray with a small drizzle of olive oil and salt to season.
  3. Place in the oven and bake until golden.
  4. While the cauliflower is baking, prepare all the other ingredients and make the dressing. I decided to season my tomatoes with cracked pepper just for an added level of flavour.
  5. In a bowl, throw in the mixed leaves, tomatoes and cucumber. Place the baked cauliflower on top with the pine nuts and then drizzle the dressing over the top.

FullSizeRender

 

 

Israeli Couscous Salad

Long time no see! (Apologies for that). I am most definitely still cooking away but have been mostly making the same things so figured I’d wait until I could bring something fresh to the table. Alas, my Sunday lunch!

I’ve eaten Israeli Couscous numerous times and have absolutely loved it! I stumbled across it in a supermarket today and thought “Yep, there’s a lunch idea!” So, since Sydney’s weather is doing its usual four seasons in one week thing and today happened to be a cold, dreary day filled with rain, figured a warm lunch with roast vegetables would be perfect! I also thought it would be an amazing accompaniment to have a layer of hummus at the bottom to mix in with all the goodness that’s already happening! Completely optional but highly recommend!

This dish can be made in about 20 minutes, stored in the fridge for later consumption and for future work lunches (YES!). So here it is:

Israeli Couscous Salad (serves two or one very hungry person – no judgement here)

What you’re going to need

1/2 cup Israeli Couscous

50 g grams shredded chicken breast (I used leftover BBQ chicken for this)

50 grams pumpkin, skin removed and cut into 2 cm cubes

5 cherry tomatoes, halved

handful rocket

20 grams feta cheese

half handful parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt, to season

Optional: heaped wooden spoonful hummus (preferably homemade – click the link here for my recipe:  Hummus)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Place pumpkin on a lined baking tray with the olive oil and salt. Bake until soft.
  3. Cook couscous according to packet instructions.
  4. When the pumpkin and couscous have about five minutes to go, throw the cherry tomatoes onto the same baking tray with the pumpkin and mix in with the oil and salt.
  5. Once the vegetables and couscous are cooked, you are ready for assembly. On a plate, spread the hummus in an even, thick layer.
  6. Then, in a separate bowl (or in the saucepan you used for the couscous), mix the couscous, chicken, pumpkin, tomatoes, rocket and parsley until well combined.
  7. Place bowl mixture on top of the hummus then serve with crumbled feta cheese and some additional parsley if you’re feeling it!

Israeli Couscous Salad

Dark Chocolate Bark

For probably one of the first times ever, we had pistachios in our house. Oh so many ideas were coming to mind for what to do with them! Desserts, crusts, breakfast toppers or just on their own because they’re glorious. I had a bunch of 85% dark chocolate which I wanted to muck around with and make something tasty. So that’s what I did on this quiet and relaxing Sunday afternoon.

In addition, I have recently been introduced to a new blogging community “Our Growing Edge”. The concept is to bring together fellow foodies and to share our creations and inspire us to create something new. This month’s theme is “Allergy Friendly Recipes” and is hosted by Joana from My Gut Feeling.

So some fast facts, my recipe is dairy free because 85% chocolate. Enough said. Also conveniently gluten and egg free for anyone worried about those too!

This recipe is oh so easy. The longest part of it is melting the chocolate! Honestly, quick, convenient and you will be able to consume it within half an hour of you making it (just to make extra sure that the chocolate has completely set!) Okay let’s get to it.

Dark Chocolate Bark

What you’re going to need

50 grams > 70% dark chocolate (if 85% is too bitter for you, feel free to use 70% instead to still get it dairy free)

small handful pistachios, shells removed and ready to go

small handful raspberries

pinch, cracked sea salt

Method

  1. Melt your chocolate using your preferred method. (Just please for your sake, do not get any water/moisture near the chocolate!!! Seized chocolate is the worst and just ruins your day so be careful.)
  2. In a lined shallow baking tin, pour melted chocolate and spread evenly. Once even, sprinkle and mix of the pistachios and raspberries ensuring they are embedded enough in the chocolate so that they won’t roll off!)
  3. Sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt.
  4. Freeze for up to 30 minutes or until chocolate has re set. Break pieces off and devour!

Dark Chocolate Bark

For more info about the “Our Growing Edge” community: Our Growing Edge

And to take a look at the host of this month’s Growing Edge theme: My Gut Feeling

our-growing-edge-badge

White Bean Dip

I did once say that if I had to eat one dip for the rest of my life it would be hummus. Rest assured, that is still the case. However, it is time to expand out of the range and play around with other ingredients to make some tasty, healthy meals for work lunch. I’m a big fan of meal prep and dip provides a perfect means for this as it can be made ahead and stored for a longer period of time in the fridge compared to other products. It also has the element of versatility where you can serve it with crackers, veggie sticks or as part of a salad or as an accompanying spread on sandwich. The options are endless.

To give this dip a bit  more body, I decided to add some fresh breadcrumbs. I have kept things simple, as always, but never compromising on flavour. If you want to give it a go, follow the recipe below!

White Bean Dip

What you’re going to need

1 can Cannellini beans, strained well

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup freshly made breadcrumbs (the staler the bread, the better)

1/2-1 clove garlic (to taste)

salt, to season

3-5 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Method

  1. In a food processor/pulse blender, add all of the ingredients.
  2. Blend until a smooth consistency is established. Too easy!

Too easy!

White Bean Dip

 

Banana and Cinnamon Muffins

Easy Sunday mornings call for baked goods. 3 perfectly overripe bananas which were just calling me to bake them. It’s starting to get colder now and so these are great to warm up and eat for breakfast or afternoon tea (or anytime really, let’s be real). I thought about making a banana bread but since I’m the only one at home who really eats it, figured I would reduce waste by making something smaller.

This is one of those chuck everything into one bowl recipes which saves time and washing up! I kept these dairy free because of bod.

Banana and Cinnamon Muffins (yields 6 – 12 depending on how much mixture you put in each tray)

What you’re going to need

2 cups self raising flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 overripe bananas

1/3 cup soy milk (or any non dairy milk of your choosing)

1/3 cup Nutellex (or any dairy free spread)

1 egg

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large bowl, add the bananas and egg. Using a stick blender, blend up the mixture is well combined and bananas are at your desired consistency.
  3. Sift in the flour, add all the other ingredients and mix until well combined .
  4. In a greased muffin tray, add even amounts of the mixture. (I like my muffins really big so I fill each one until it is full)
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove tray from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Remove muffins and place on a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Banana and Cinnamon Muffins